The early years: 1621-1685

Portrait of John Robartes from Lanhydrock, Cornwall

Following the dissolution of the monasteries, Lanhydrock in Cornwall was owned by the Glynn, Littleton and Trenance families before being acquired by Richard Robarts (1580-1634) in 1621.

Richard was regarded as the ‘wealthiest in the west’ after he inherited a fortune of £300,000 and 40,000 acres of land from his father John in 1614.

Love and marriage

After Richard’s death in 1634, the estate was inherited by his son John  -a staunch Puritan. John Robartes was married twice, first in 1630 to Lucy Rich (c1615-46), youngest daughter of the Earl Of Warwick, and again in 1647 to her cousin Letitia Isabella Smith (1630-1714).

The two ladies were very different. Lucy was considered ‘a precious comfort – one of whom the world was not worthy’, whilst it was said that Letitia was flirtatious and ‘shone at court with lustre’.

When John married for the second time he was 42 and his bride was just 17. It was said that he loved her ‘to distraction’. Altogether he had 19 children, 14 with Letitia.

Civil war

At the beginning of the English Civil War, John Robartes fought for Parliament with his own regiment.

In 1644, following a brief return to Lanhydrock, he was forced to flee from the advancing Royalists, narrowly escaping with the Earl of Essex from Fowey to Plymouth.

During the 1650s he spent some time at Lanhydrock, where he opposed the execution of Charles 1 in 1649. Following the Restoration of the monarchy he was elevated to the Privy Council and was created Earl of Radnor in 1679.

His legacy

John died in London in 1685 after a successful life in politics. Lanhydrock’s library, which you can see in the gallery today, is largely his collection of accumulated works on theology, history, politics and science.