Sir Alexander Carew, 2nd Baronet

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Arms of Carew: Or, 3 lions passant in pale sable[1] These were the arms shown on the seal of "Nicholas de Carreu" (c.1255–1311), appended to the Barons' Letter, 1301, which he joined as "Lord of Mulesford" and which were blazoned for the same bearer in the Caerlaverock Poem or Roll of Arms of 1300, when he was present at the Siege of Caerlaverock Castle. From him are descended the Carew baronets of Antony and of Haccombe

Sir Alexander Carew, 2nd Baronet (30 August 1609 – 23 December 1644), of Antony in Cornwall, was an English Member of Parliament executed for attempting to betray the Parliamentary cause during the English Civil War.


Carew was the eldest son of Sir Richard Carew, 1st Baronet (c. 1580-1643). Both his father and his grandfather had been Knights of the Shire (Members of Parliament) for Cornwall, and Alexander was elected to the same office in the Long Parliament in 1640. On the outbreak of the Civil War, Carew declared for Parliament and, in Clarendon's words, "had, from the beginning of the Parliament concurred in all conclusions with the most violent, with as full a testimony of that zeal and fury, to which their confidence was applied, as any man". Although Cornwall and the rest of the south-west were generally under Royalist control in the opening stages of the war, the Mayor of the strategically vital port of Plymouth had seized it for Parliament, and Parliament entrusted its defence to a committee including Carew. Carew was made governor of St Nicholas's Island in Plymouth Sound, the keystone to the defence of the town. It was while held this post that his father died, on 14 March 1643, and he inherited the baronetcy.

After the Royal victory at Stratton (16 May 1643) and the capture of Bristol, Sir Alexander secretly contacted the commander of the Royal forces then besieging Exeter, offering to surrender Plymouth in return for a pardon for himself. The Royalists were willing enough but "he was so sottishly and dangerously wary of his own security, (having neither courage enough to obey his conscience, nor wicked enough to be prosperous against it), that he would not proceed until he was sufficiently assured that his pardon had passed the Great Seal of England" (Clarendon, quoted in Burke's Extinct Baronetage), and the delay left time for a disloyal servant to leak the plot to the Mayor and the rest of the Committee.[2]

He was arrested, and taken by ship to London. A House of Commons resolution disabled him from sitting (in effect, expelled him) on 4 September 1643, and he was committed to the Tower of London on 5 December. He was eventually tried for treason by court-martial, in the Guildhall on 19 November 1644. Convicted, he was sentenced to death, but his wife petitioned the Commons that he was "in a kind of distracted condition and unfit to die". A House of Commons committee visited him in prison and reported that there was nothing in the petition; however, they allowed him a respite of a month to settle his affairs. He was beheaded on Tower Hill on 23 December 1644.[2]


Sir Alexander had married Jane Rolle in December 1631, and they had two sons who lived to adulthood. The elder, John, succeeded to the baronetcy on his execution, and although the estates were initially sequestered they were released and he was allowed to inherit in November 1645; he later became a long-serving Member of Parliament after the Restoration. Sir Alexander's half-brother, John, also became an MP, in 1647, and was one of the court that tried the King in 1649: being still alive at the collapse of the Commonwealth, he was hanged, drawn and quartered as a regicide.


  1. Debrett's Peerage, 1968, Carew Baronets, p.155
  2. 2.0 2.1 Courtney 1887.

 Courtney, William Prideaux (1887). [ "Carew, Alexander" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 9. London: Smith, Elder & Co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


Parliament of England
Preceded by
William Godolphin
Richard Buller
Member of Parliament for Cornwall
with Sir Bevil Grenville 1640-1642

Succeeded by
Seats vacant
Next Members
Hugh Boscawen
Nicholas Trefusis
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Richard Carew
(of Antony)
Succeeded by
John Carew