Lord chancellor; b. St. Laurence Jewry, London, 1496?; d. Rochford, Essex, June 12, 1567. A student at Cambridge and the Middle Temple, Rich seems to have led a dissipated youth. He was a good lawyer, however, and served on several royal commissions. He also represented Colchester in the "Reformation Parliament" (1529–36). Knighted and appointed solicitor general in 1533, Rich loyally supported Henrician policies. His evidence, based on private interviews with Thomas more and John fisher, was instrumental in securing their conviction. More accused Rich of perjury, a charge history has sustained. Henry VIII rewarded Rich with honors, especially the chancellorship of the court of augmentations. Speaker of the parliament that met in 1536, he was second to Thomas cromwell in his influence and assisted him in suppressing the monasteries.
Rich grew wealthy on these spoils. He also managed to survive Cromwell's demise in 1540 and quickly adapted his policies to fit his sovereign's mood. Created a baron and lord chancellor (1548), he soon deserted the Protector Somerset for the cause of John Dudley, Earl of Warwick. Resigning the chancellorship in 1551, Rich retired to Essex. A halfhearted supporter of Lady Jane Grey, he soon declared for Queen Mary, thus surviving another change of regime. Rich fostered Catholic practices in Essex and persecuted Protestants. At Elizabeth's accession, he swore his loyalty, but refused to accept the Act of Uniformity (1559). An ambitious and greedy politician, Rich has been criticized by historians as a man of skill who was also an unscrupulous timeserver.
Bibliography: a. f. pollard, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 1885–1900) 16:1009–12. p. hughes, The Reformation in England (New York 1963). r. w. chambers, Thomas More (Westminster, Md. 1949). h. f. m. prescott, Mary Tudor (rev. ed. New York 1953).
[p. s. mcgarry]
"Rich, Richard." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 19, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/rich-richard
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