Robert DeHarley 1579-1656

Robert DeHarley
Robert DeHarley, Sir Knight. Born 19th Feb 1579 in Of, Brampton and was christened 1/3/1579. He owned Wigmore Castle from 1601 to 1643 in Herefordshire, England, United Kingdom. Sir Robert purchased the castle from Queen Elizabeth I. Brilliana dismantled what defences remained to stop the Royalists from using the castle against the Parliamentarians. The Royalists capture the castle in 1643. 
 
Robert worked as:
  • Master of the Mint in England, United Kingdom. Under Charles I, King of England.
  • Member of Parliament for Radnor Boroughs in 1604 in Radnor Boroughs, England.
  • Member of Parliament for Herefordshire in 1624 in Herefordshire, England, United Kingdom.
  • Member of Parliament for Herefordshire in 1626 in Herefordshire, England, United Kingdom.
  • Member of Parliament for in 1628 in Evesham, , Worcestershire, England.
  • Member of Parliament for Herefordshire in 1640 in Herefordshire, England, United Kingdom.
Harley, like other Presbyterians, could not go the whole way with the Puritan left wing, and was indeed imprisoned at the end of 1648 for voting to treat with the king, and dismissed from the Mint in 1649 for refusing to mint coins not bearing the royal portrait. Robert died 6 Nov 1656 in Brampton Bryan Castle, Herefordshire England and was buried in Brampton Bryan church, which he had rebuilt after its destruction in 1644
 
The Harleys were an old, established Herefordshire family who had settled at Brampton Bryan and built a castle there in the early fourteenth century. Brilliana was the third wife of Sir Robert Harley and it can be seen from the letters (some of which were contained a secret code) that passed between Brilliana and her husband that it was a strong and affectionate partnership. They had three sons and four daughters, all of whom survived into adulthood.
 
 As England lurched towards Civil War, Herefordshire showed itself solidly and staunchly Royalist in sympathy. The Harleys, puritans and supporters of Parliament, rapidly found themselves themselves the butt of unpleasant taunts and rumours, long before the first shot had been fired. When the war finally broke out, Sir Robert Harley, a member of Parliament, remained in London. At his insistence Brilliana and her daughters were left at Brampton Bryan, an island of Parliamentary sympathy in a sea of Royalists. Being a practical woman, she turned her mind to what she would need in the event of hostilities and added powder, match and flintlocks to her housewifely shopping list.
  
The early months of the war did not go well for the Parliamentarians but it was not until July 1643 that Brampton Bryan found itself the centre of royalist attention and her former neighbours, friends and relatives suddenly found themselves ordered to “reduce” Brampton Bryan. An awkward correspondence between besieger and besieged ensued, but Brilliana politely but firmly refused to surrender Brampton saying “…my dear husband hath entrusted me with his house but according to his pleasure, therefore I cannot dispose of his house but according to his pleasure…”.
 
Hostilities commenced, the village of Brampton Bryan was razed and artillery brought to bear on the castle. Despite heavy bombardment casualties within the castle were surprisingly light. A personal offer of terms from the King did not move the lady who played for time in the knowledge that the Earl of Essex was going to the relief of the siege of Gloucester, which would divert the royalist forces. After seven weeks the siege was lifted and Lady Brilliana set about replenishing stores within the castle. Encouraged by the news that the siege of Gloucester had been lifted, she went on the offensive, sending out foraging parties and an attack force to the town of Knighton. By early October the royalists were again poised to renew the siege.
  
Brilliana wrote to her son, Ned on 9 October 1643 “…I have taken a very great cold, which has made me very ill these 2 or 3 days, but I hope that the Lord will be merciful to me, in giving me health, for it is an ill time to be sick in. My dear Ned, I pray God bless you and give me the comfort of seeing you again…”
  
Sadly she was never to see her husband or sons again as she died of pneumonia on 31 October leaving “the saddest garrison in the three kingdoms”.
  
In the spring of 1644, Brampton Bryan Castle was besieged a second time and finally fell to the royalists. The castle was “reduced” (a term meaning, destroyed so as not to be capable of defence again) but the lives of the defenders were spared and the fame of Lady Brilliana Harley spread, earning her the “admiration and applause even of her enemies”.
 
Robert married:
  • Anne Barret about 1604 in Belhouse, in Aveley, Essex, England.
  • Mary Newport about 1606 in High Ercal.
  • Brilliana Conway on 22 Jul 1623 in England. 
Robert died 6 November 1656 in Brampton Bryan Castle, in Herefordshire, in England, at the age of 77 years of unspecified causes.
 
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