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Engraved portrait of Sir Peter Carew

Sir Peter Carew (1514-1575)

SIR PETER CAREW, soldier, was the second son of Sir William Carew of Ottery Mohun or Mohuns Ottery, Devonshire, who was the son of Sir Edmund Carew. His brothers were George, who served in several military commands in the reign of Henry VIII, and Philip, of whom nothing is known but that he was a knight of Malta. Sir Peter was born at Ottery Mohun in 1514. He was sent to the grammar school at Exeter, but can hardly be said to have been educated there; for a career of frequent truancy culminated in his climbing a turret on the city wall, and threatening to jump down if his master came after him. His father, being told of this escapade, had him led back to his house in a leash, like a dog, and for a punishment 'coupled him to one of his hounds, and so continued him for a time.'

Soon after he was sent to St. Paul's School, but did no better there; and his father, in despair of making him a scholar, accepted the proposal of a French friend, who wanted the young Carew as his page. He was unlucky in this new position also, and was degraded to the place of muleteer, from which he was rescued by a relation, who heard his companions call him by name. This relation, a Carew of Haccombe, was going with Francis I, king of France, to the siege of Pavia, but died on the way, and the young Carew was taken up by the Marquis of Saluzzo, who was slain at the battle of Pavia in February 1526. Being again left masterless, he went over to the enemy's camp, and entered the service of Philibert de Chalons, prince of Orange, and, after his death at the siege of Florence in 1530, continued with his sister Claudia, wife of Henry of Nassau.

He was now about sixteen years of age, and, being anxious to revisit his native country, was sent by the princess with letters to Henry VIII, who, struck by his proficiency in riding and other exercises, and by his knowledge of the French language, took him into his service, first as a henchman, and then as a gentleman of the privy chamber. The next few years of his life were chiefly passed in England at the court, with the exception of journeys in the king's service, such as attending on his royal master to Calais in 1532; on Lord William Howard, when he took the Garter to James V in 1535; and on the lord admiral when he went to fetch Anne of Cleves in 1539. About the following year (1540) he went abroad with his cousin, John Champernoun, and visited Constantinople, Venice, Milan, and Vienna, where Champernoun died of dysentery. While in the Turk's countries the travellers had disguised themselves as merchants in alum.

Soon after Carew's return war broke out between England and France, and he served both by land and sea. In the campaign of 1544 he joined the king's army with one hundred foot, apparelled in black at his own expense, his elder brother, George, being lieutenant of the horse till he was taken prisoner at Landrecy. Sir George was not long in captivity, and in the following year was in command of the Mary Rose when she foundered going out of Portsmouth harbour to attack the French fleet. Carew crossed the Channel with the lord-admiral (Sir John Dudley), being one of the leaders of the assault of Treport, for which he was knighted. In the last year of Henry VIII's reign Carew was sheriff of Devonshire; but marrying a Lincolnshire lady, Margaret, daughter of Sir William Skipworth, widow of George, lord Tailboys de Kyme, he went to reside on his wife's estates, till he was recalled by the news of the insurrection of 1549, caused by the issuing of the reformed Book of Common Prayer. His action in this matter was energetic and in fact severe, and he did not escape reprimand for having exceeded his commission.

On the death of Edward VI he opposed the attempt to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne, and proclaimed Mary as queen in the west; but as soon as her marriage with Philip of Spain was proposed, he conspired with some of his neighbours against it. The plot was discovered, and he only escaped to the continent just in time to avoid arrest [Wyatt's Rebellion. See Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Younger]. At Venice he was nearly murdered by bravoes hired by Peter Vannes, the English ambassador, and therefore travelled northward. Passing through Antwerp, Lord Paget had him and his companion, Sir John Cheke, arrested by the sheriff, and sent blindfolded to England in a fishing-boat. His destination was the Tower, where he was confined till December 1556, being released on the payment of some old-standing debt of his grandfather to the crown.

The accession of Elizabeth again brought him into favour. In the second year of her reign, when the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Grey de Wilton were commanding an army against the French in Scotland, he was sent on the delicate mission of settling a difference between the two noblemen which was detrimental to the public service; and when the duke was tried and convicted of treason, in 1572, Carew acted as constable of the Tower. But before this latter date (about 1565 or 1566) he showed a quantity of old records to his biographer, Hooker, who on examination was convinced that Carew was entitled to many lands in Ireland which had belonged to his ancestors; and going to Ireland on Carew's behalf, his opinion was confirmed. Carew thereupon obtained leave from the queen to prosecute his title, and sailed from Ilfracombe in August 1568.

The remainder of his life, with short exceptions, was spent in recovering what he believed to be his property in Ireland, in which was included a large portion of Munster, which had been granted by Henry II to Robert Fitz-Stephen, whose daughter married a Carew. He began with the lordship of Maston in Meath, which was occupied by Sir Christopher Chyvers. He then obtained a decree of the deputy and council adjudging to him the barony of Odrone in Carlow, which was held by the Kavanaghs, and was appointed captain of Leighlin Castle, which is in the centre of the barony (17 Feb. 1568-9). A few miles north lay the castle of Cloghgrenan, which was held by Sir Edmund Butler, brother of the Earl of Ormonde, having been taken from the Kavanaghs by their father. Butler, it is said, expecting to be dispossessed, made several attempts to attack Carew, but in vain; and the rebellion known as the Butler's wars breaking out shortly after, Carew stormed and took the castle. For this he incurred some blame from the queen, as being partly the cause of the insurrection, and was obliged to return to England to excuse himself, and obtain leave to prosecute his claims in Munster.

While in this country the queen was anxious for him to resume the seat in parliament which he had held in the first year of her reign, but he refused. His petition being at length granted, he returned to Ireland (1574), and finding that Lord Courcy, Lord Barry Oge, the O'Mahons, and others were willing to acknowledge his claims and become his tenants, he ordered a house to be prepared at Cork, but was taken ill on his way thither, and died at Ross in Waterford on 27 Nov. 1575. He was buried on 15 Dec. in the church at Waterford, on the south side of the chancel, and his faithful servant and biographer erected a monument to his memory in Exeter Cathedral. There is an engraving of this in Sir John Maclean's 'Life,' and also of the well-known portrait at Hampton Court. Neither he nor his brother left any issue. His will, at Somerset House, is dated 4 July 1574, and was proved 20 Feb. 1575.

      Excerpted from:

      Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. VIII. Leslie Stephen, Ed.
      New York: Macmillan and Co., 1887. 59-60.

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This page was created on March 31, 2010. Last updated April 11, 2023.

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Isabella of France, Queen of England
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Sir Henry Percy, "Harry Hotspur"
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The Battle of Shrewsbury, 1403
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Thomas Fitzalan, 5. Earl of Arundel
Henry V
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Charles VII, King of France
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The Battle of Towton, 1461
The Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 1464
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The Battle of Edgecote, 1469
The Battle of Losecoat Field, 1470
The Battle of Barnet, 1471
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The Treaty of Pecquigny, 1475
The Battle of Bosworth Field, 1485
The Battle of Stoke Field, 1487

Henry VI
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Ralph Neville, 2. Earl of Westmorland
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Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick
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Sir Andrew Trollop
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Jack Cade's Rebellion, 1450

Tudor Period

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Lambert Simnel
Perkin Warbeck
The Battle of Blackheath, 1497

King Ferdinand II of Aragon
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The Battle of Flodden Field, 1513
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Mary Tudor, Queen of France
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The Battle of the Spurs, 1513
Field of the Cloth of Gold, 1520
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Eustace Chapuys, Imperial Ambassador
The Siege of Boulogne, 1544

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
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Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex
Thomas, Lord Audley
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Sir Richard Rich

Edward Stafford, D. of Buckingham
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Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland
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Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire
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John Russell, Earl of Bedford
Thomas Grey, 2. Marquis of Dorset
Henry Grey, D. of Suffolk
Charles Somerset, Earl of Worcester
George Talbot, 4. E. Shrewsbury
Francis Talbot, 5. E. Shrewsbury
Henry Algernon Percy,
     5th Earl of Northumberland
Henry Algernon Percy,
     6th Earl of Northumberland
Ralph Neville, 4. E. Westmorland
Henry Neville, 5. E. Westmorland
William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester
Sir Francis Bryan
Sir Nicholas Carew
John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford
Thomas Seymour, Lord Admiral
Edward Seymour, Protector Somerset
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury
Henry Pole, Lord Montague
Sir Geoffrey Pole
Thomas Manners, Earl of Rutland
Henry Manners, Earl of Rutland
Henry Bourchier, 2. Earl of Essex
Robert Radcliffe, 1. Earl of Sussex
Henry Radcliffe, 2. Earl of Sussex
George Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon
Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter
George Neville, Baron Bergavenny
Sir Edward Neville
William, Lord Paget
William Sandys, Baron Sandys
William Fitzwilliam, E. Southampton
Sir Anthony Browne
Sir Thomas Wriothesley
Sir William Kingston
George Brooke, Lord Cobham
Sir Richard Southwell
Thomas Fiennes, 9th Lord Dacre
Sir Francis Weston
Henry Norris
Lady Jane Grey
Sir Thomas Arundel
Sir Richard Sackville
Sir William Petre
Sir John Cheke
Walter Haddon, L.L.D
Sir Peter Carew
Sir John Mason
Nicholas Wotton
John Taylor
Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Younger

Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio
Cardinal Reginald Pole
Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester
Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London
Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London
John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester
John Aylmer, Bishop of London
Thomas Linacre
William Grocyn
Archbishop William Warham
Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham
Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester
Edward Fox, Bishop of Hereford

Pope Julius II
Pope Leo X
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Pope Paul III
Pope Pius V

Pico della Mirandola
Desiderius Erasmus
Martin Bucer
Richard Pace
Christopher Saint-German
Thomas Tallis
Elizabeth Barton, the Nun of Kent
Hans Holbein, the Younger
The Sweating Sickness

Dissolution of the Monasteries
Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536
Robert Aske
Anne Askew
Lord Thomas Darcy
Sir Robert Constable

Oath of Supremacy
The Act of Supremacy, 1534
The First Act of Succession, 1534
The Third Act of Succession, 1544
The Ten Articles, 1536
The Six Articles, 1539
The Second Statute of Repeal, 1555
The Act of Supremacy, 1559
Articles Touching Preachers, 1583

Queen Elizabeth I
William Cecil, Lord Burghley
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Sir Francis Walsingham
Sir Nicholas Bacon
Sir Thomas Bromley

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick
Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon
Sir Thomas Egerton, Viscount Brackley
Sir Francis Knollys
Katherine "Kat" Ashley
Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester
George Talbot, 6. E. of Shrewsbury
Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury
Gilbert Talbot, 7. E. of Shrewsbury
Sir Henry Sidney
Sir Robert Sidney
Archbishop Matthew Parker
Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich
Sir Christopher Hatton
Edward Courtenay, E. Devonshire
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
Thomas Radcliffe, 3. Earl of Sussex
Henry Radcliffe, 4. Earl of Sussex
Robert Radcliffe, 5. Earl of Sussex
William Parr, Marquis of Northampton
Henry Wriothesley, 2. Southampton
Henry Wriothesley, 3. Southampton
Charles Neville, 6. E. Westmorland
Thomas Percy, 7. E. Northumberland
Henry Percy, 8. E. Northumberland
Henry Percy, 9. E. Nothumberland
William Herbert, 1. Earl of Pembroke
Charles, Lord Howard of Effingham
Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
Henry Howard, 1. Earl of Northampton
Thomas Howard, 1. Earl of Suffolk
Henry Hastings, 3. E. of Huntingdon
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland
Francis Manners, 6th Earl of Rutland
Henry FitzAlan, 12. Earl of Arundel
Thomas, Earl Arundell of Wardour
Edward Somerset, E. of Worcester
William Davison
Sir Walter Mildmay
Sir Ralph Sadler
Sir Amyas Paulet
Gilbert Gifford
Anthony Browne, Viscount Montague
François, Duke of Alençon & Anjou

Mary, Queen of Scots
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell
Anthony Babington and the Babington Plot
John Knox

Philip II of Spain
The Spanish Armada, 1588
Sir Francis Drake
Sir John Hawkins

William Camden
Archbishop Whitgift
Martin Marprelate Controversy
John Penry (Martin Marprelate)
Richard Bancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury
John Dee, Alchemist

Philip Henslowe
Edward Alleyn
The Blackfriars Theatre
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The Rose Theatre
The Swan Theatre
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The Admiral's Men
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The Isle of Dogs, 1597

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First Fruits & Tenths
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Anne of Denmark
Henry, Prince of Wales
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George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham
Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset
Arabella Stuart, Lady Lennox

William Alabaster
Bishop Hall
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Archbishop William Laud
John Selden
Lucy Harington, Countess of Bedford
Henry Lawes

King Charles I
Queen Henrietta Maria

Long Parliament
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Kentish Petition, 1642

Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford
John Digby, Earl of Bristol
George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol
Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Lord Fairfax
Robert Devereux, 3rd E. of Essex
Robert Sidney, 2. E. of Leicester
Algernon Percy, E. of Northumberland
Henry Montagu, Earl of Manchester
Edward Montagu, 2. Earl of Manchester

The Restoration

King Charles II
King James II
Test Acts

Greenwich Palace
Hatfield House
Richmond Palace
Windsor Palace
Woodstock Manor

The Cinque Ports
Mermaid Tavern
Malmsey Wine
Great Fire of London, 1666
Merchant Taylors' School
Westminster School
The Sanctuary at Westminster


Chart of the English Succession from William I through Henry VII

Medieval English Drama

London c1480, MS Royal 16
London, 1510, the earliest view in print
Map of England from Saxton's Descriptio Angliae, 1579
London in late 16th century
Location Map of Elizabethan London
Plan of the Bankside, Southwark, in Shakespeare's time
Detail of Norden's Map of the Bankside, 1593
Bull and Bear Baiting Rings from the Agas Map (1569-1590, pub. 1631)
Sketch of the Swan Theatre, c. 1596
Westminster in the Seventeenth Century, by Hollar
Visscher's View of London, 1616
Larger Visscher's View in Sections
c. 1690. View of London Churches, after the Great Fire
The Yard of the Tabard Inn from Thornbury, Old and New London

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