John Robartes 1606-1685

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John ROBARTES, 1st Earl of Radnor 1606-85

Biographical Note

Son of Richard Robartes, 1st Baron Robartes, from whom he inherited the title and estate at Lanhydrock, Cornwall in 1634. Matriculated from Exeter College, Oxford in 1625, but did not graduate. He fought at Edgehill on the parliamentary side during the Civil War, and was noted throughout his life for presbyterian sympathies. After the Restoration he was admitted to the privy council and was made Treasury commissioner and deputy lieutenant of Ireland. He became lord lieutenant of Ireland in 1669. In 1679 he was created Viscount Bodmin and earl of Radnor. He completed the building of Lanhydrock House, begun by his father.


The library at Lanhydrock includes some specific groups of books which belonged to other local men (e.g. Hannibal Gamon, Walter Snell) but also many books which belonged to John Robartes, or to his wife Lucy. They cover the range of subject material that might be expected in such a library, including theology, politics and current affairs, history, medicine and law. After his death, subsequent family members showed little interest in the library, although a sale of Robartes's manuscripts and papers took place in London, 2.5.1721. The books of Charles, 2nd Earl (1665-1723) were auctioned in London, 23.4.1724.

Characteristic Markings

Although there are exceptions, many of Robartes's books have plain and simple bindings. He regularly inscribed and annotated his books.


  • Alston, R. C., Inventory of sale catalogues ... 1676-1800, St Philip, 2010.
  • Duffin, Anne. "Robartes, John, first earl of Radnor (1606–1685), politician and army officer." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Barker, N. Treasures from the libraries of National Trust country houses, New York, 1999, no 45.
  • Keep, D. Works by Zurich reformers in the library at Lanhydrock, National Trust Yearbook 1976-7, 73-80.
  • Librorum manuscriptorum, historicorum ... of a nobleman, who was Lord Privy-Seal, [Lonon, 1721], ESTC t57174.
  • Purcell, M. The library at Lanhydrock, The Book Collector 54 (2005), 195-230.