BERKELEY (BARKLEY), Richard (c.1580-1661), of Stoke Gifford and Rendcomb, Glos.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1580, o.s. of Henry Berkeley of Stoke Gifford and Meriall, da. of Thomas Throckmorton† of Coughton, Warws.1 educ. Magdalen, Oxf. 1592, aged 12.2 m. (1) settlement 19 Feb. 1598,3 Mary (d. 24 July 1615),4 da. of Robert Rowe, Haberdasher, of London, 6s. (1 d.v.p.) 6da.;5 (2) Jane, da. of Sir Thomas Mariet of Remenham, Berks., wid. of William Molyns of Sandall, Hants and William Molyns of Mongewell, Oxon., s.p.6 suc. to estates of grandfa. Sir Richard Berkeley* 1604,7 fa. 1608.8 d. 12 May 1661.9 sig. Ry[chard] Berkeley.

Offices Held

Commr. recusants, Berks. 1602, sewers, Glos. 1607, 1615, 1625-35;10 j.p. by c.1606-at least 1641;11 commr. charitable uses 1609-30,12 subsidy 1621-2, 1624, 1641-2;13 dep. lt. by c.1614-42,14 1660-d.;15 commr. Forced Loan 1627,16 martial law 1628,17 repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral 1632,18 array 1642.19

Member, Virg. Co. 1619.20


Berkeley succeeded to the family estates on his grandfather’s death although his mentally unbalanced father still had four years to live. Returned as junior knight for Gloucestershire to the Addled Parliament, he was appointed to three committees, to attend the conference on the Palatine marriage settlement (14 Apr.) and to consider bills against forcible entry (31 May) and against building development in and near London (1 June).21 In 1619, inspired by the example of George Thorpe*, he joined the Virginia Company and, in partnership with John Smith*, projected a settlement to be called Berkeley. However his colonial venture ended in failure in the massacre of 1622.22 In 1620 his eldest son Maurice, to whom he gave up the ancestral home, was returned for Gloucestershire. He nonetheless remained active in county administration.23 Discharged from the need to pay a Privy Seal loan of £20 in 1626,24 he joined the Gloucestershire protest against the Forced Loan in the following year, initially refusing either to serve as commissioner or to subscribe.25 Unlike his son, he was neither imprisoned nor removed from the commission of the peace, suggesting that he subsequently fell into line. In 1637 he described himself as ‘a drooping twig’ on his family tree after Smith lent him the first volumes of his history of the Berkeleys.26 On the eve of the Civil War he was engaged in soliciting for the Gloucestershire petition in favour of episcopacy,27 and was subsequently appointed to the commission of array. He later maintained that, ‘being under the power of the enemy’, he was forced to adhere to the royalist cause and sign taxation warrants, but he was nevertheless forced to compound for £817.28 He drew up his will on 29 June 1659, in which he left books to various kinsmen and friends, including ‘my map in globewise’, commentaries by Erasmus and Beza on the New Testament, and Calvin’s Institutes, which he left to the vicar. He owned The Practice of Christianity by Richard Rogers, which may suggest puritan sympathies, but he also possessed sermons by two future bishops, Robert Sanderson and Edward Reynolds, both staunch Calvinists. He himself had composed two works on the state of the godly and the wicked, which remained in manuscript. He survived the Restoration, dying on 12 May 1661, and was buried as he wished with his first wife at Stoke Gifford.29

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 9.
  • 2. Al. Ox.
  • 3. WARD 7/27/220.
  • 4. S. Rudder, New Hist. of Glos. 699.
  • 5. Vis. Glos. 9; J. Smyth, Berkeley Mss ed. J. Maclean, i. 265.
  • 6. Vis. Glos. 9; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 110.
  • 7. PROB 11/104, f. 109.
  • 8. WARD 7/41/140.
  • 9. Rudder, 699.
  • 10. C181/1, f. 34; C181/2, ff. 23, 129, 240, 245; C181/3, ff. 172, 240, 251; C181/5, f. 13.
  • 11. C66/1698; C66/2859.
  • 12. C93/3/33; C93/12/3.
  • 13. C212/22/20-2, 23; SR, v. 62, 84, 151.
  • 14. Smyth, i. 265; LJ, v. 291b.
  • 15. SP29/11/159.
  • 16. C193/12/2, f. 20v.
  • 17. APC, 1627-8, p. 288.
  • 18. Glos. RO, TBRA1/1, f. 80.
  • 19. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 20. T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 240.
  • 21. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 82, 394, 402.
  • 22. J. E. Gethyn-Jones, ‘Berkeley Plantation’, Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xciv. 5-17.
  • 23. Smyth, i. 264-5.
  • 24. E401/2586, p. 544.
  • 25. SP16/54/28.
  • 26. R. Austin, ‘Letters and Verses written to John Smyth of Nibley on the completion of his Berkeley Hist.’, Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xlviii. 186.
  • 27. HMC 5th Rep. 345.
  • 28. CCC, 1653.
  • 29. PROB 11/305, f. 24; Rudder, 699.