Richard Carew 1555-1620

From Book Owners Online

Richard CAREW 1555-1620

Biographical Note

Born at Antony, Cornwall, son of Thomas Carew, landowner; Richard inherited the family estate there in 1564 when his father died. Matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford ca.1566, but did not graduate; also admitted at the Middle Temple. JP 1581, MP for Saltash 1584, for Mitchell 1597. Sheriff of Cornwall 1586. Beyond his work in managing his estates and his wider official duties, he was a scholar and an author, and a member of the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries; he is best known for his Survey of Cornwall (1602), but also published translations of Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata (Godfrey of Bulloigne, 1594) and Huarte's Examen de ingenios (The Examination of men's wits, 1594).


Carew was a learned and book-loving man; his son left a manuscript including a description of early 17th-century life at Antony, saying that Carew "without a teacher ... learned the Greek, Dutch, French, Spanish and Italian tongues ... He ever delighted in reading ... for if he had none other hindrance, going or riding he would ever have a book and be reading". When Thomas James approached Carew for donations to the new Bodleian Library, he replied with a description of his library, and the difficulties of obtaining books from rural Cornwall: "Manuscripts I have fewe, and those such as have alreadie past the presse: not that I want desire to furnish myself with better store: but my dwelling having confined me to this angle of our worlde, hath ... deprived me of the meanes to get them, I can therefore say only of my bookes (which I use as playfellowes, & not as schoolemasters) ... that they are few and evell: the bulke of them consisting only of those which by the catalogues I could procure from the Frankford-marts". Despite this modest description, we may note that James wrote to Carew because the Earl of Arundel, having seen Carew's library, thought this might be worthwhile. Carew's will has no mention of books; his library would have passed, with the rest of his estate, to his eldest son Richard (d.1643, created a baronet 1641).

Carew's inscription, Middle Temple Library

Characteristic Markings

A copy of L-V La Popeliniere, L'histoire de France, 1581, in the Middle Temple Library has Carew's inscription "Ri Carew of Antony" on the titlepage, with a purchase note at the foot dated 14 March 1585.