CHOLMONDELEY, Sir Robert, 1st Bt. (1584-1659), of Cholmondeley Hall, Cheshire; later of St. John's Churchyard, Chester and Bickley Hall, Cheshire
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Family and Education
b. 26 June 1584,1 1st s. of (Sir) Hugh Cholmondeley† of Cholmondeley and Mary, da. of Christopher Holford of Holford, Cheshire. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1600.2 m. Catherine (d. 15 June 1657), da. of John, Lord Stanhope (Sir John Stanhope*) of Harrington, Northants., s.p.; 1s. illegit. suc. fa. 1601; cr. bt. 29 June 1611, Visct. Cholmondeley of Kells [I] 2 July 1628, Bar. Cholmondeley of Wich Malbank (Nantwich) 1 Sept. 1645, earl of Leinster [I] 5 Mar. 1646. d. 8 Oct. 1659.3
Col. (roy.), 1642-5.11
The Cholmondeleys had been established in Cheshire since the thirteenth century.12 Cholmondeley’s grandfather, Hugh†, was six times sheriff (once for Flintshire), an MP, deputy lieutenant, custos rotulorum and vice-president of the Council in the Marches of Wales. Cholmondeley’s father did not have such a distinguished career but was knight of the shire for Cheshire in 1584 and married well, acquiring Holford Hall in the process. Like many of the Cheshire gentry, Cholmondeley was educated at Queen’s College, Oxford. He matriculated in 1600 and succeeded to the vast Cholmondeley estates the following year.13 As lord of the manor of Nantwich, he was one of the county’s wealthiest landowners, and increased his holdings by marrying the co-heiress of John, Lord Stanhope.14 Although well able to afford the £1,095 needed to purchase a baronetcy in 1611, he and another man obtained the grant of a half share of £1,200 worth of debts due to the Crown in 1612.15
Cholmondeley was elected Cheshire’s senior knight of the shire for Cheshire in 1625. He is not recorded as speaking in the House, but was appointed to a joint conference to petition the king for a general fast (23 June), to a general committee to review the disbursements of the Council of War (10 Aug.),16 and to bill committees concerning recusants (23 June), secret offices (24 June), petty larceny (25 June) and subscription (27 June).17 Cholmondeley also attended both meetings to consider the Macclesfield tenants bill, being entitled to sit on the committee as one of the knights for Cheshire.18
Cholmondeley never stood for re-election, but in 1626 he supported the candidacy of his brother-in-law, John Minshull. He thereby aligned himself with the group led by Cheshire gentlemen holding Irish peerages, rather than the faction dominated by baronets like himself. After a contested election lasting two days, Minshull withdrew in favour of the baronets’ candidate, Peter Daniell*.19 Cholmondeley may also have played some part in the 1628 election but as the ‘barons’ backed down at the last minute and averted a contest, his role is unclear.
Cholmondeley received an Irish peerage in 1628,20 and thereafter he seems to have retired to his seat. During the 1630s he did not attend quarter sessions and appears played no role in county government.21 He also failed to attend the Irish Parliaments of 1634 and 1640, despite receiving writs of summons to the House of Lords on both occasions.22 However, he played a prominent part in the county elections to the Short Parliament when he led the ‘barons’ in support of Sir William Brereton, 1st bt.* and Sir Thomas Aston.23 Both men were elected unopposed after James Stanley* Lord Strange, son of the earl of Derby and joint lord lieutenant of Cheshire, declared for the barons.24 In 1641 Cholmondeley supported the petition to Parliament organized by Aston in favour of episcopacy and against puritanism.25 He was appointed to the commission of array in 1642, and during the Civil War was a strong supporter of the king.26 He organized the defence of Chester, although this cost him his house in St. John’s Churchyard, which was ‘plucked down and burnt by the parliament party as they lay siege in and about Chester’.27 Cholmondeley later distinguished himself at the Battle of Tilston Heath, and in 1644 received a commission from Prince Rupert to raise forces in Cheshire, Denbighshire and Flintshire.28 In the following year he was granted an English peerage, and in 1646 was elevated to the earldom of Leinster. Cholmondeley surrendered at the fall of Oxford, and after compounding for a tenth at £7,742 (the highest in Cheshire) he retired to Bickley Hall.29 He died without legitimate heir on 8 Oct. 1659. No will has been found but he settled the manor of Holford upon his illegitimate son, Thomas. Cholmondely’s titles passed to his nephew, Robert.30
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Chris Kyle
- 1. J. Lodge, Peerage of Ire. iii. 76-7.
- 2. Al. Ox.
- 3. CP; Cheshire Archives, DCH/ZZ/2; Lodge, iii. 76-78; CB; G. Ormerod, Hist. Cheshire, ii. 638; Oxford DNB.
- 4. J. Morrill, Cheshire, 16; C231/4, pp. 90, 165, 227.
- 5. C181/2, f. 233v.
- 6. Cheshire Archives, DCH/M/32/2.
- 7. C212/22/20, 23
- 8. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii, pt. 2, p. 144.
- 9. Cheshire Archives, ML/2/286.
- 10. HMC 10th Rep. IV, 373.
- 11. R.H. Morris, Siege of Chester, 25, 28.
- 12. Ormerod, ii. 630.
- 13. WARD 9/159, f. 116.
- 14. J. Hall, Hist. Nantwich, 63-4; Letter Bks. of Sir William Brereton ed. R.N. Dore (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. cxxvii), ii. 430 n. 2; Ormerod, ii. 634.
- 15. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 128.
- 16. Procs. 1625, pp. 228, 442.
- 17. Ibid. 226, 238, 245, 253.
- 18. C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 227.
- 19. Cheshire Arhives, CR63/2/18, unfol.
- 20. There appears to be no evidence that he purchased this honour; C.R. Mayes, ‘Early Stuarts and the Irish Peerage’, EHR, lxxiii. 227-51.
- 21. Morrill, 16.
- 22. In 1634 he gave his proxy to Charles, Visct. Moore of Drogheda, possibly because his main seat was in co. Meath; LJ[I], i. 4, 16, 99.
- 23. Later Brereton and Aston were the Cheshire leaders of the parliamentary and royalist forces respectively.
- 24. Morrill, 32-4; CSP Dom. 1639-40, pp. 590-1.
- 25. Morrill, 47.
- 26. Ibid. 49; Cheshire Archives, ML/2/286.
- 27. R. Morris and P. Lawson, Siege of Chester, 204.
- 28. HMC 10th Rep. IV, 373; P.R. Newman, Roy. Officers in Eng. and Wales, 71.
- 29. CCC, 1479-80; his sequestration pprs. are in Cheshire Archives, DCH/M/32/8.
- 30. CP; Lodge, iii. 78.