Sir Richard Grenville, 1st
Baronet (or Granville) (1600 – 1658) was
a Cornish Royalist
leader during the English Civil
He was the third son of Sir Bernard
(1559-1636), and a grandson of the famous seaman, Sir
. Having served in France, Germany and the Netherlands, Grenville gained the favour of George Villiers, 1st
Duke of Buckingham, took part in the expeditions to Cádiz, to the island of Rhé and to La Rochelle, was knighted, and in 1628 became member of
parliament for Fowey, Cornwall.
In 1630, he married Mary Fitz (1596-1671), the wealthy widow of Sir
Charles Howard (d. 1622), and was made a baronet
; his violent temper destroyed the marriage,
and he was imprisoned as the result of two lawsuits, one with his
wife, and the other with her kinsman, the Earl of Suffolk. In 1633
he escaped from prison and went to Germany, returning to England
six years later to join the army which Charles I
was collecting to march
against the Scots. Early in 1641, just after the outbreak of the
Irish rebellion, Sir Richard led some troops to Ireland, where he
won some fame and became governor of Trim; then returning to
England in 1643 he was arrested at Liverpool by Parliament, but was soon released and sent to
join the parliamentary army. Instead, having obtained men and money, he
hurried to Charles I at Oxford and was
despatched to take part in the siege of Plymouth, quickly becoming the leader of the forces engaged
in this enterprise. Compelled to raise the siege he withdrew into
Cornwall, where he
helped to resist the advancing Parliamentarians.
supplies of Cornish tin helped finance the Royalist war-effort and Grenville marched his
contingent to Launceston where he positioned Cornish troops along the
River Tamar and issued instructions to
keep "all foreign troops out of Cornwall".
to use "Cornish particularist sentiment" to gather support for the
Royalist cause. The Cornish were fighting for their Royalist
privileges, notably the Duchy
and he put a plan to the Prince which
would , if implemented, have created a semi-independent Cornwall.
Grenville had sent several letters to the "gentlemen of Cornwall"
to meet him at Launceston in December 1645.
About this time complaints were brought against Grenville, saying
that he had behaved in a very arbitrary fashion, hanging some men
and imprisoning others, extorting money and using war contributions
for his own ends. Many of these charges were undoubtedly true, but
upon his recovery the councillors of the Prince of Wales
gave him a position
under Lord Goring
he refused to obey. Equally recalcitrant was his attitude towards
Goring's successor, Sir Ralph Hopton
Grenville refused to serve under Lord Hopton and resigned his
commission. In January 1646 he was arrested at Launceston
for insubordination and imprisoned on St Michael's Mount.
release, he went to France and Italy, and after visiting England in
disguise passed some time in the Netherlands.
He was excepted by parliament from pardon
in 1648, and after the king's execution he was with Charles II
in France and elsewhere
until some unfounded accusation which he brought against Edward Hyde
, led to his
removal from court. He died in 1658, and was buried at Ghent.
1644, when Grenville deserted the parliamentary party, a
proclamation was put out against him; in this there were attached
to his name several offensive epithets, among them being skellum, a
word probably derived from the German Scheim, a scoundrel. Hence he
is often called "skellum Grenville."
Grenville wrote an account of affairs in the west of England, which
was printed in T. Carte
's Original Letters
this partisan account Clarendon drew up an answer, the bulk of
which he afterwards incorporated in his History. In 1654 Grenville
wrote his Single defence against all aspersions of all
. This is printed in the Works of George
Granville, Lord Lansdowne
(London, 1736), where Lansdowne's
vindication of his kinsman, Sir Richard, against Clarendon's
charges is also found.
was immortalised in Daphne Du
Maurier's 1948 novel The King's General, which has subsequently
been adapted into a play, which is to be performed at Restormel
Castle, Cornwall in May 2009.