Ralegh, Walter

, an eminent English divine in the seventeenth century, was second son of sir Carew Ralegh (elder brother of the celebrated sir Walter Ralegh.) His mother was relict of sir John Thynne, of Longleate, in Wiltshire, and daughter of sir William Wroughton, viceadmiral under sir John Dudley (afterwards duke of Northumberland) in the expedition against the Scots in 1544. He was born at Downton, in Wiltshire, in 1586, and educated in Winchester-school, whence he was sent to Magdalen college, Oxford, of which he became a commoner in Michaelmas term, 1602. In June 1605, he took the degree of B. A. and in June 1608, that of master and being a noted disputant, was made junior of the public act the same year, in which he distinguished himself to great advantage. About that time he entered into holy orders, and became chaplain to William earl of Pembroke, in whose family he spent about two years, when he was collated by his lordship to the rectory of Chedzoy, near Bridgewater, | in Somersetshire, in the latter end of 1620. Being settled here, he married Mary, the daughter of sir Richard Gibbs, and sister of Dr. Charles Gibbs, prebendary of Westminster. He was afterwards collated to a minor prebend in the church of Wells, and to the rectory of Streat, with the chapel of Walton in Wiltshire. About the time of the death of his patron, the earl of Pembroke, which happened in 1630, he became chaplain in ordinary to king Charles I, and by that title was created D. D. in 1636. January the 13th, 1641, he was admitted dean of Wells on the death of Dr. George Warburton. During the rebellion he was sequestered on account of his loyalty, and afterwards treated with the utmost barbarity. It being his month to wait on the king as his chaplain, the committee of Somersetshire raised the rabble, and commissioned the soldiers to plunder his parsonage-house at Chedzoy and in his absence they seized upon all his estate spiritual and temporal, drove away his cattle and horses, which they found upon his ground, and turned his family out of doors. His lady was forced to lie two nights in the corn-fields, it being a capital crime for any of the parishioners to afford them lodging. After this she went to Downton, in Wiltshire, the seat of sir Carew Ralegh, where her husband met her. The king’s party having had some success in the West, Dr. Ralegh had an opportunity to return to his family, and resettle at Chedzoy but the parliament party soon gained the ascendant by the defeat of the lord Goring, and he was obliged to take refuge at Bridgewater, then garrisoned by the king. Here he continued till that town was surrendered to Fairfax and Cromwell, when he was taken prisoner, and after much severe usage set upon a poor horse, with his legs tied under the belly of it, and so carried to his house at Chedzoy, which was then the head -quarters of Fairfax and Cromwell and being extremely sick through his former ill treatment, obtained the favour of continuing prisoner in his own house. But as soon as the generals marched, Henry Jeanes, who was solicitous for his rectory of Chedzoy, and afterwards succeeded him in it, entered violently into the house, took the doctor out of his bed, and carried him away prisoner with all his goods. His wife and children were exposed to such necessities, that they must have perished if colonel Ash. had not procured them the income of some small tenements, which the doctor had purchased at Chedzoy, After this Dr. Ralegh wa& | sent prisoner to Ilchester, the county-gaol; thence to Banwell-house, and thence to the house belonging to the deanery in Wells, which was turned into a gaol and here, while endeavouring to secrete a letter which he had written to his wife, from impertinent curiosity, he was stabbed by David Barrett, a shoe-maker of that city, who was his keeper, and died of the wound October 10, 1646, and was interred on the 13th of the same month before the dean’s stall, in the choir of the cathedral of Wells. His papers, after his death, such as could be preserved, continued for above thirty years in obscurity, till at last coming into the hands of Dr. Simon Patrick (afterwards bishop of Ely) he published them at London, 1679, in 4to, under this title: “Reliquiae Raleghanae, being Discourses and Sermons on several subjects, by the reverend Dr. Walter Ralegh, dean of Wells, and chaplain in ordinary to his late majesty king Charles the First.” This editor tells us, that “besides the quickness of his wit and ready elocution, he was master of a very strong reason which won him the familiarity and friendship of those great men -who were the envy of the last age, and the wonder of this, the lord Falkland, Dr. Hammond, and Mr. Chillingvvorth the last of which was wont to say (and no man was a better judge of it than himself) that Dr. Ralegh was the best disputant that ever he met withal; and indeed there is a very great acuteness easily to be observed in his writings, which would have appeared more if he had not been led, by the common vice of those times, to imitate too far a very eminent man (meaning, perhaps, bishop Andrews) rather than follow his own excellent genius.” He is said to have been a believer in the millenium, or reign of Christ on earth for a thousand years, and to have written a book on that subject, which is lost. In 1719 the rev. Lawrence Howell published at Lond. 8vo, “Certain Queries proposed by Roman catholics, and answered by Dr. Walter Ralegh,” &c. which appears to be authentic. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. II. Dr. Patrick’s “Brief Account” prefixed to the “Retli­?? ”Walker’s Sufferings of the Clergy.