Sir Peter Carew, 1514-1575: Valiantness in Service

Born of a notable Devonshire family, Carew saw service in France and Italy, became a favourite companion of Henry VIII and was trusted by the three succeeding sovereigns. Stephen Usherwood describes his life and career.

Peter, second son of Sir William Carew of Ottery Mohun, Devon, was born in 1514. His grandfather, Sir Edmund, had fought for Henry VII at Bosworth Field and defended his cause in Devon when the pretender Warbeck attempted to take Exeter. Sir William and his wife knew early that Peter was no ordinary child. They sent him to Exeter Grammar School, where the boys were put through the usual Latin grind, but this was much too slow for Peter, who took to truancy and rebellion.

At first his father sided with the school, and Peter was sent back, until one day, running out of school, and climbing on to a tower of the town wall, he shouted to his pursuers that, if they came near, he would throw himself down. In panic the schoolmaster sent for Sir William, who told him to leave Peter alone; hunger would drive him down, and it did. Sir William then put a collar round his neck, coupled him with one of his hunting dogs and walked them round the town on a lead, to the astonishment of onlookers.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.