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Sir Benjamin Rudyerd or Rudyard (1572-31 May 1658), of West Woodhaymarker in Berkshire, was an English politician and poet, Member of Parliament for various constituencies between 1620 and 1648, and a colonial investor who was one of the incorporators of the Providence Company in 1630.

Rudyerd was educated at Winchester Collegemarker and St John's College, Oxfordmarker, and then joined the Inner Templemarker, where he was called to the bar in 1600. As a young man his poetry, though not printed until after his death, won him many plaudits, and he was also respected as a critic. He became a close friend of the poet and playwright Ben Jonson, who addressed three published epigrams to him in 1616, the first of which began:

Rudyerd, as lesser dames to great ones use,

My lighter comes to kiss thy learned muse


He was also an associate of John Owen and John Hoskins (who once wounded him in a duel, although they later became firm friends). More valuable to him, however, was the admiration of the Earl of Pembroke, England's leading patron of the arts, who helped promote Rudyerd's political career, and he strengthened this association by marrying Elizabeth Harington, daughter of Sir Henry Harington and a relation of Pembroke. Rudyerd's most important surviving poems are a series written in answer to poems by the Earl.

In 1618, Rudyerd was knighted, and appointed for life to the lucrative post of Surveyor of the Court of Wards. (When the post was abolished in 1647, Parliament voted him £6,000 in compensation for its loss.) In 1621, he was elected to Parliament for the first time: his career in the House of Commonsmarker was long and, in the words of Brunton & Pennington, "unhampered by political consistency" though contemporaries nicknamed him the silver trumpet of Parliaments for his pleasing oratory. He served as MP for Portsmouth (in the Parliaments of 1621-2, 1624 and 1625), Old Sarum (1626), Downton (1628-9) and Wilton in the Short and Long Parliaments; most of these constituencies were ones where the Pembroke influence was strong. At first, Rudyerd was generally supportive of the court, in line with the policy of his patron Pembroke, and by 1624 seems to have been the government's unofficial spokesman in the Commons. He continued to support Buckingham after the accession of Charles I, and although he was one of the MPs named to assist in Buckingham's impeachment in 1626 took no public part in the trial.

By the end of the decade, however, he was less supportive of the Crown, taking a strongly critical line on the redress of grievances and denying the King's right to arrest without showing cause. Nevertheless, he assumed the role of mediator between the King and Parliament, arguing in a speech "This is the crisis of Parliaments: we shall know by this if parliaments live or die. If we persevere, the King to draw one way, the parliament another, the Commonwealth must sink in the midst." He resumed this role when Parliament was summoned again in 1640, after an 11-year hiatus, speaking on the first day of debate in the Short Parliament and concluding that "I would desire nothing more than that we proceed with such moderation as the parliament may be the mother of many more happy parliaments". But his first speech in the Long Parliament was less conciliatory, a vigorous attack on the King's "evil counsellors". He took the Parliamentary side on the outbreak of the Civil War, but does not seem to have been an enthusiastic supporter of the cause, and his attendance in the House was twice specially ordered. He was one of the MPs appointed to the Westminster Assembly in 1643. He was opposed to the trial of the King and was excluded from Parliament in Pride's Purge, after which he retired from public life.

During the gap between the Parliaments of 1629 and 1640, Rudyerd became interested in colonial developments in North America, and in 1630 was a co-founder of the Providence Company, which developed the colony which eventually became Rhode Islandmarker. Probably as a result, he was a member of the council appointed by the Long Parliament in 1643 for the government of the English colonies.

He died in 1658 at West Woodhaymarker, the Berkshire manor house he had bought in 1634.

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