I’ve written a couple of times about the paintings I saw in Montecute House; I’m fascinated by the faces of some of these portraits, they seem so modern – you could just imagine these people sitting at the next table in a restaurant, or adjacent to you on a train. These people, this family, are the Careys; the father, Robert Carey was the 1st Earl of Monmouth and he was born in about 1560. The mother, with her intelligent strong face was born Elizabeth Trevannion, and the three children are Thomas, Henry and Philadelphia. Henry, on the left was born in 1596, and his brother a year later; Philadelphia was the eldest in the family, born in 1594.
Robert Carey was an important man; from being a young man he had been involved in various affairs abroad, including as a volunteer against the Spanish Armada. he was a politician, but not in the sense we know them, and a member of parliament for different northern constituencies. He was in the royal court, and he was the one who rode from London to tell the future king of England, King James VI of Scotland of Elizabeth I’s death. He was made a governor of James’s son, the future King Charles I, and Robert’s wife Elizabeth in particular looked after the young prince and was always very close to him.
Not a brilliant photograph, but you can see their characters shine through in this painting by Paul van Somer, a Flemish artist. It was probably painted in about 1617, so the children would have been twenty-three, twenty-one and twenty.