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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.

The Lord Cranworth

Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
In office
28 December 1852 – 21 February 1858
Prime MinisterThe Earl of Aberdeen
The Viscount Palmerston
Preceded byThe Lord St Leonards
Succeeded byThe Lord Chelmsford
In office
7 July 1865 – 26 June 1866
Prime MinisterThe Viscount Palmerston
The Earl Russell
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


Background and educationEdit

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 careerEdit

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 lifeEdit

In 1850, 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]



  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. ^


  1. ^ Monsey was chief medical adviser to the whigs and a friend of Daniel Dulany the Younger.[1]

External linksEdit