John Conway 1535-1603

Ragely Hall, Warwickshire 
CONWAY, Sir JOHN (1535-1603), Governor of Ostend, Son and heir of Sir John Conway, knight-banneret of Arrow, Warwickshire, by Catherine, daughter of Sir Ralph Verney (Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, i. 179). He was knighted in 1559 (Addit. MS. 32102, f. 122 a).

As he was walking in the streets of London in 1578, Ludovic Greville came suddenly upon him, and struck him on the head with a cudgel, felling him to the ground, and then attacked him with a sword so fiercely that, but for the intervention of a servant, who warded off the blow, he would have cut off his legs. The privy council sent for Greville, and committed him to the Marshalsea. The outrage occasioned much excitement, because on the same day Robert Rich, 2ยบ Lord Rich was also violently attacked in the streets (Strype, Annals, ii. 547, folio).

In Dec 1583 he seems to have been imprisoned in connection with the SOMERVILLE-ARDEN case, and it was probably during this imprisonment that he wrote 'Meditations and Praiers'.

John Conway was made Governor of Ostend in 29 Dec 1586 by the Earl of Leicester, who was then general of the English auxiliaries in the United Provinces (Thomas, Hist. Notes, i. 408, 436) lived Arrow & Ragley. For some reason he was made a prisoner, as appears from an original letter addressed by him to Sir Francis Walsingham, dated at Ostend 8 Sep 1588, concerning his imprisonment and the uses which might be made of one Berney, a spy, who had great credit with the Duke of Parma (Harl. MS 287, f. 102); Notes and Queries, 1st series, xi. 48). In Jul 1590 he was licensed to return to England, and the office of Governor of Ostend was granted to Sir Edward Norreys (Murdin, State Papers, p. 794).

He died on 4 Oct 1603, and was buried in Arrow church, where a monument, with a Latin inscription, was erected to his memory (Dugdale, Warwickshire, ed. 1730, p. 852).

By his wife Helen, or Eleanor, daughter of Sir Fulke Greville of Beauchamp's Court, Warwickshire, he had four sons: Edward, who was created Viscount Conway [q.v.] (Birch, Elizabeth, ii. 98); Fulke, John and Thomas; and four daughters: Elizabeth, Catherine, Mary and Frances (Dugdale, Warwickshire, p. 850; Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, i. 268).

Warwick Castle home Sir Fulke Greville (wife of sir John Conway)Greville was a capable administrator who served the English Crown under Elizabeth I and James I as, successively, treasurer of the navy, chancellor of the exchequer, and commissioner of the Treasury, and who for his services was in 1621 made Baron Brooke, peer of the realm, and granted Warwick Castle, which he substantially improved. Greville is however best known today as the biographer of Sir Philip Sidney, and for his sober poetry, which presents dark, thoughtful, and distinctly Calvinist views on art, literature, beauty, and other philosophical matters.


Ragely Hall

Medieval Warwick Castle

  • Collins's Peerage of England; Genealogical, Biographical, and Historical
  • Dictionary of National Biography
  • John Donne and the Conway Papers: Patronage and Manuscript Circulation in the Early Seventeenth Century