Sir Robert Berkeley
Nash, Collection of the History and Antiquities of Worcestershire
The following account of Sir Rowland Berkeley and his fon the judge I have tranfcribed literally from the MS. of the elder Habingdon.
- The tomb of Sir Robert Berkeley, at Spetchley, Worcestershire.
"I rank this reverend judge next unto lords, becaufe as a judge he weareth often that title, and in parliament is to affift in the houfe of barons, from one of the antienteft of which barons (viz. the lord Berkeley) he is defcended; for James lord Berkeley had by the lady Ifabell, one of the two co-heirs of Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk, Thomas Berkeley, his fourth fon, who had iffue Richard Berkeley, his third fon, (who fometime lived and had a fmall freehold at Durfley in Gloucefterfhire) whofe fourth fon William Berkeley was father of Rowland Berkeley, father of the judge: which faid Rowland being the eighth fon of the faid William, tho' extracted thus from nobility, yet feemed in the world extenuated for a while, until by God's bleffing and his own induftry he became eminent in wealth and dignity. My warrant for this pedigree I receive from the beft authority which England in matters of honor affordeth."
"Now before I attend the judge to his rifing funne, I will accompanie his father to his night of death; whome if I fhould commend, becaufe he was my ancient friend, and left me not (where the world forfoooke me) in my ftormy troubles, and laftly not onely refufed to make a prey of my lands, being offered him, and lying moft convenient for him, but alfoe inftantly warned me to prevent my ruine, it might be thought that blinded with affection, I were partial. Paffing therefore from my private particulars to matters more publick; he was a man of a very good witt, which he furnifhed with learning, initiate in Oxford, but chiefly gained out of ftolen hours, and hardly fpared from his continual bufinefs in his vocation, by which courfe, joined with experience and obfervations, growing to be of deep judgement, he attained to be for government fuch a magifirate, as that he gained love, refpect, and obedience, which, if the city of Worcefter, where he lived divers years, will not acknowledge, his often fervice for them in parliament (where he fhewed himfelf their friend, and a good common-wealth's man) will teftifye for him. Neither was he confined within the circle of this cittie, but being in commiffion for the county, was an uncorrupt, and fedulous juftice. I omit his worldly bleflings, being abundant, and fairly ceafing by his death, in a good old age, at his owne manfion at Spetchley, where his fonne the judge hath erected a monument for him, and his mother, to whofe funeral having offered thefe enfignes, I will diftribute them to his children, and chiefly to the judge, who, though not the eldeft yet the greateft, and inheriting with the reft his father's wifdom, hath furmounted him in learning, which hath beautified with oratorie, and ftrengthened with argument his poffeffion of the law, wherto, as alfo to civill government his genius was fo inclinable as that after he had been many years a chief pilott in fteering the helm of our countie as one of the juftices of the peace there, and, which is rarely precedented among others of his profeffion, carried the ftaff or authority as fheriff. His majefty king Charles advanced him firft to his fervice in place of one of the king's ferjeants at law, and then as a juftice of his royal bench to determine of the lives, lands and goods of his fubjects. Thus is he raifed from the fhip of our fhire to be a ruler in the great argofey of England, where although his care is general, yet hath he ftill a particular love to his native county. Here you fee him afcending to the noon-tide of fortune; let my withered age never behold his declining, kut when his funne muft by revolution of time be fet, I hope that leaving behind him an oder of good fame, he will in the end obtain a day of eternal light."
"Laftly for his children, who by their mother Elizabeth Conyers, (and now lady Berkeley daughter and coheir of Mr. Thomas Conyers of Eaft Barnet, Hertfordfhire,) are lineally defcended from the worthy family of Sir Chriftopher Conyers, of Cokeborne, in the bifhoprick of Durham, and his lady Margery, daughter of Sir William Eure, I wifh they may at their father's conclufion of life enjoy his fair eftate with true felicity."