‘He be lyke unto his father’s ghost;’ said King James, disparagingly, of the handsome young man presented at Court by the Earl of Pembroke.  The young man was Carew Raleigh: Carew, son of Sir Walter Raleigh, sensibly withdrew, embarking on a gap year of continental travel.

Carew Raleigh was born in the cold, dark January of 1605, probably in a house on Tower Hill, rented by his mother Lady Raleigh, the former Bess Throckmorton.  He was conceived in the Bloody Tower, where the great Sir Walter was imprisoned.  The rooms today are furnished in the fashion of the early seventeenth century, and still possess the original mullion windows and tiles.  It was a far cry from the grandeur of Sherborne Castle, in Dorset, the Raleigh’s country estate, or Durham House, their London residence, but the large fireplaces would have afforded warmth, and the ambience certainly inspired Sir Walter’s literary muse. Bess frequently stayed in the rooms.  Carew was christened in the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, on the green within The Tower.  The register reads: ‘Carew Rawley was baptised ye 15th of February the sonne of Sir Walter Rawley.’ 

Throughout Carew’s childhood Bess was fighting to recover the property and fortune which had been seized by the Crown.  Carew’s brother, Wat, was twelve years older, forceful and ebullient, he has been depicted as ‘wild Wat’ by biographers: both boys were indulged by Bess. In August 1618, his father entered The Tower for the third and last time, after the abortive Orinoco expedition, during which young Wat had lost his life.  Carew, aged thirteen, wrote to the King, begging for the life of – ‘My poore father, sometime honoured with many great places by the most worthy Queen Elizabeth, the possessor whereof she left him at her death:’ an argument most unlikely to appeal to James.

After Sir Walter’s execution, Nicholas Throckmorton Carew became Carew’s guardian, and in 1619 the boy entered Wadham College Oxford, completing his studies in 1621. This was the same year that the House of Lords passed a Bill restoring him in blood, but James would not countenance this. When Carew was eighteen, the events at Court described in the opening paragraph occurred. He had some reputation as a budding poet and musician,  but the only record discovered is reference to a sonnet printed in Lawes’s Ayres and Dialogues, of 1653, which began ‘Careless of love and free from fears:’ (this would have made an excellent motto for the Raleigh family.)

With Charles I on the throne, Carew returned to London, and again set about trying to regain his monies and property. At first, the king opposed this, but when Carew, persuaded by a friend, renounced his claims to Sherborne Castle, Charles agreed, and the stigma was removed from the family name.

In 1628, Carew married Philippa Ashley, the wealthy young widow of Sir Anthony Ashley, who had served with Sir Walter at Cadiz.  Philippa was the daughter of Thomas Shelton, (or Sheldon) and cousin of the favourite, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.  She was at the heart of a group of women known as ‘the king’s surrogate family.[1] This marriage brought Carew both wealth and prominence at Court.  At about this time, Carew purchased Bishop’s Manor, East Horsley from the Earl of Southampton.  As the couple’s life centred upon Court, the manor was tenanted.  Carew also bought Lollesworth Farm, and timber-framed additions to that property date from this time.

In 1635, Charles I appointed Carew a Gentleman of the Privy Council, and he also became Member of Parliament for Haslemere.  There is an echo of Sir Walter’s years at Court in the 1580s, when, in 1639, Carew was attending King Charles and a stag was shot.  Carew and Sir William St. Ravee argued fiercely about the number of horns the animal possessed, and Carew drew his sword on Ravee: he was sent to the Fleet Prison for a ‘sennight’ to cool his heels.  He was released on payment of £1,000 and sureties for good behaviour.  Back at Court, he was at the centre of events, performing in Ben Jonson’s Love’s Triumph through Callipolis.

But this royal world was fading fast, as in the 1640s, England descended into Civil War. When King Charles left Hampton Court for the last time he gave Carew a ‘kind of token,’ possibly a portrait.

Raleigh Trevelyan describes Carew’s behaviour during the Civil War as ‘equivocal.’[2] He had been a personal servant of the king, but with estates in Surrey he could not risk offending Parliament.  Another factor is that his father’s reputation as a martyr, historian and political commentator was rising among Parliamentarians.  Carew used this to attempt to regain the Sherborne estates, submitting several petitions to the House of Commons between 1648 and 1660.

In 1643, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton Carew died, leaving Carew the manor at West Horsley.  Carew and Philippa were short of money at this time, and local historian Pam Bowley suggests that Bishop’s Manor being leased, the Raleighs may have spent time at Lollesworth Farm just prior to moving into West Horsley Place.[3]  Carew spent about £2,000 on the house between 1643 and 1665: he added a handsome staircase and may have been responsible for facing the timber-framed building with brick, which gives it the russet warmth which is part of its appeal.  The façade has the Dutch-inspired gabling which was fashionable at that time. His mother spent much time with the family, and this is how the head of Sir Walter found its way to West Horsley.

In May 1650, Carew was sent to The Tower for ‘passionate words,’ uttered at a Committee. Later in that decade, on the 10th August 1658, John Evelyn, who had previously held a mortgage on the house, dined with Carew at West Horsley Place, writing in his famous diary: ‘I dined at Mr. Carew Ralegh’s at Horsley, son of the famous Sir Walter.’  The following year, Carew took his place in the restored Rump Parliament, sitting regularly until members were expelled on the 13th October.  Along with other members, he was reinstated on 26th December (No Christmas under Cromwell). By this time, Carew was enthusiastically supporting General Monck’s efforts for the Restoration.  He was – with Monck’s influence – appointed Governor of Jersey, but it is doubtful he visited the island.  After the Restoration, Charles II offered him a knighthood, but he declined and the honour was bestowed upon his son, Walter.

Like Bess, Carew did not cease fighting to defend his father’s memory and reputation: he styled himself as ‘A Lover of the Truth.’ One of his notable battles in settling old scores, was against James Howell, who, in his Epostolae Hoeliane wrote of Sir Walter’s discoveries in Guiana (Guyana)as ‘mere chimera.’

In December 1656, Carew settled the West Horsley estate upon his son Walter: this was voided by the death of Walter, from pestilence – along with his children - in 1660.  Walter was resident with his family at Lollesworth Farm: he is buried with his brother, baby daughter, and the head of Sir Walter, in the Chantry Chapel of St, Mary’s Church (just opposite the gates to West Horsley Place). Carew and Philippa must have been broken-hearted by this loss, and shortly afterwards West Horsley Manor was sold to Sir Edward Nicholas, for £9,750. Lollesworth was entrusted to Walter’s widow for her lifetime.  They returned to the Raleigh London house in St. Martin’s Lane, where Carew died in 1666.  He is buried with his father’s body in St. Margaret’s Westminster.  In the Register, he is described as ‘kilt’, but the reason is a mystery. Apparently he did not die immediately, for there was an oral will in which he left all his estate to his wife.

June Davey


1.  Helen Payne, Aristocratic Women, Power, Patronage and Family Networks at the Jacobean Court 1603-1625. quoted by Anna Beer:  Bess: (London: Constable, 2004) p. 258

2.Raleigh Trevelyan, Sir Walter Raleigh, (London: Penguin Books, 2003) p.562

3.Pam Bowley,  Old West Horsley, (Alton: Rodek Printing, 2000)  p. 102