The man that paid for the Turnpike

We have already investigated the term Turnpike and its significance to Suton.  You might also be interested to learn that Suton has an important link to a previous Member of Parliament, the very man that paid for the Suton Turnpike in the first place and stumped up the princely sum of £200.  In recognition the Justices of Norfolk ordered a stone pillar to be erected by the road side as remembrance of his gift and this stone tablet still exists today, close to Turnpike Farm.  The Member of Parliament in question was Edwin Rich.

Sir Edwin Rich was an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1640.  Born in 1594 at Thetford, Rich was the son of Sir Edwin Rich of Mulbarton and his wife Honora Worlick, the daughter of Charles Worlick.

Rich was brought up in Norwich and educated at Trinity College in Cambridge.  He subsequently entered at Lincoln’s Inn in Holborn, one of the four Inns of Court in London to which barristers are called to the bar.  Lincoln’s Inn is recognised to be one of the world’s most prestigious professional bodies of judges and lawyers. 

If you remember “Poldark” the BBC drama of a Sunday evening, you might remember the story line of George Warleggan “acquiring” his parliamentary seat.  Well, in April 1640 and with no local connections Rich was elected Member of Parliament for Fowey, a Cornish market town.  Unlike many of the most notorious Cornish rotten boroughs of the time, Fowey had once been a town of reasonable size and returned members to a National Council in 1340.

Unfortunately for Rich his time at Parliament was short, literally.  He sat for only 3 weeks in what became known as the Short Parliament, after King Charles dissolved it on 5th May 1640.  Rich did not stand again and returned to Norfolk full time, later to be appointed Vice-Admiral of Norfolk in 1644, a position he held for 5 years to 1649.

Still very much involved in the legal profession Rich became Master in Chancery in 1647.  The Court of Chancery was authorised to apply principles of equity, as opposed to law, within England and Wales.  These courts were later merged with the laws courts to become what we know today as our modern legal system. 

In his later years, Rich was appointed Commissioner for Assessment for the County of Middlesex and with the return of King Charles II from exile in Europe, he was knighted on 10th July 1666.

Rich died at the age of 81 and was buried close by at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Swardeston.  Interestingly, his memorial bears his own composition (as he did not trust anyone else to write it);

And here resteth the Bones of Sir Edwin Rich, Knight, Son of Sir Edwin Rich, who died the

16 Day of November, 1675.

Our Lyef is like an Hower Glasse, and our Riches are like Sand in it, which runnes with us but the time of our Continuance here, and then must be turn’d up by an other.

So speake to God as if Men heard your talke,

Soe lyve with Men as if God sawe your walke;

When thou art young, to lyve well thou must strive;

When thou art old, to dye well then contryve.

Thetford, gave Breath, and Norwich, Breeding,

Trinity-Collidg, in Cambridg, Learning;

Lincolns-Inn, did teach me Law and Equity,

Reports I have Ade, in the Courte of Chancery ;

And though I cannot skill in Rymes, yet know it,

In my Lyfe I was my own deathles Poett.

For he who leaves his work to others truste,

May be deceived when he lyes in the Duste.

And nowe I have traveld through all these wayes,

Here I conclude the Storye of my Dayes.

And here my Rymes I ende, then ask no more,

Here lyes Sir Edwin Rich, who loveed the Poore.

Interestingly, the memory of Sir Edwin Rich lives on today in that his legacy still funds a charity here in Norfolk with the aims and activities of providing Aid to individuals in need who live in the parish of Mulbarton and support for charitable organisations helping such individuals”.

Many thanks to Suton resident Robert Ashton for providing the spark for this item, along with Wikipedia and the rest of the internet for dates and specifics.