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The Lord Cranworth
Lord Cranworth wearing the parliamentary robes of a baron
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
In office
28 December 1852 – 21 February 1858
Prime Minister
Preceded byThe Lord St Leonards
Succeeded byThe Lord Chelmsford
In office
7 July 1865 – 26 June 1866
Prime Minister
Preceded byThe Lord Westbury
Succeeded byThe Lord Chelmsford
Personal details
Born(1790-12-18)18 December 1790
Cranworth, Norfolk
Died26 July 1868(1868-07-26) (aged 77)
Holwood House
Keston, Kent
United Kingdom
Political partyLiberal
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge

Robert Monsey Rolfe, 1st Baron Cranworth, PC (18 December 1790 – 26 July 1868) was a British lawyer and Liberal politician. He twice served as Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain.

Background and education

Born at Cranworth, Norfolk, he was the elder son of the Reverend Edmund Rolfe and Jemima Alexander, James Alexander, 1st Earl of Caledon's niece and a granddaughter of physician Messenger Monsey.[note 1] Rolfe was related to Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson,[2] he was educated at Bury St Edmunds, Winchester, Trinity College, Cambridge,[3] Downing College, Cambridge (of which he was elected fellow) [4] and was called to the bar, Lincoln's Inn, in 1816.[5]

Legal and political career

Cranworth represented Penryn and Falmouth in Parliament from 1832 until he was appointed a Baron of the Exchequer in 1839.[3] In 1850 he was appointed a Vice-Chancellor and raised to the peerage as Baron Cranworth, of Cranworth in the County of Norfolk. In 1852 Lord Cranworth became Lord Chancellor in Lord Aberdeen's coalition ministry. He continued to hold the chancellorship also in the administration of Lord Palmerston until the latter's resignation in 1858. Cranworth was not reappointed when Palmerston returned to office in 1859, but on the retirement of Lord Westbury in 1865 he accepted the office for a second time, and held it till the fall of the Russell administration in 1866.[3]

Personal life

In 1845, Cranworth married Laura Carr (1807–1868), daughter of Thomas William Carr (born 1770). The couple had no children.

Lord Cranworth died at his seat, Holwood House, on 26 July 1868, aged 77, after a short illness related to the heat.[6] He was childless and the title became extinct on his death.[3]



Coat of arms of Robert Rolfe, 1st Baron Cranworth
A dove Argent in the beak a sprig of olive Proper ducally gorged Gules and resting the dexter foot upon three annulets interlaced Or.
Gyronny of eight Argent and Gules an eagle displayed Sable charged on the breast with a sun in splendour Or.
On either side a stag Or charged on the neck with four bandlets Sable upon the attires a ribbon Gules passing through an annulet Gold.
Post Nubila Phœbus [7]


  1. ^ "Maryland State Archives, Reference, MSA SC 4885-1-27"
  2. ^ "East Anglian Worthies", by John Lucius Smith-Dampier, published by B. Blackwell, 1949, p .165.
  3. ^ a b c d  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cranworth, Robert Monsey Rolfe, Baron". Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 379.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Rolfe, Robert Monsey (RLF808RM)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Burke's Peerage. 1868.


  1. ^ Monsey was chief medical adviser to the whigs and a friend of Daniel Dulany the Younger.[1]
Parliament of the United Kingdom New constituency Member of Parliament for Penryn and Falmouth 1832–1840 With: Lord Tullamore 1832–1835James William Freshfield 1835–1840 Succeeded byEdward John HutchinsJames William Freshfield Legal offices Preceded bySir Charles Pepys Solicitor General 1834 Succeeded bySir William Follett Preceded bySir William Follett Solicitor General 1835–1839 Succeeded bySir Thomas Wilde Preceded byJames Wigram Vice-Chancellor 1850 – 1851 Succeeded bySir George James Turner Political offices Preceded byThe Lord St Leonards Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain 1852–1858 Succeeded byThe Lord Chelmsford Preceded byThe Lord Westbury Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain 1865–1866 Succeeded byThe Lord Chelmsford Peerage of the United Kingdom New creation Baron Cranworth 1850–1868 Extinct