Carew, Sir Peter (1514–75), adventurer, was born at Mohun's Ottery, Devonshire, second son of Sir William Carew; his mother was a Courteney. George Carew (qv), later earl of Totnes, was a first cousin. After a fragmented education he gained military and naval experience in the French, imperial, and English services, was agent and courtier to Henry VIII and Elizabeth, held office and sat in parliament, survived assassination attempts, and saw the Tower of London as both prisoner and constable.
In 1568 he began asserting his title to Irish estates granted to earlier Carews. His claims affected lands in Meath and Carlow, most of Cork and Kerry, and part of Waterford; threatened the land titles of Gaelic Irish and Old English alike; and contributed directly to the Butler rebellion (1569–70) and indirectly to the Fitzmaurice rebellion (1569–73). On the other hand, his ‘judicious mixture of coercion and flamboyant good-lordship’ (Brady, 279) appears to have produced good relations with the Kavanaghs, which in turn influenced their Gaelic neighbours. Carew became constable of Leighlin in succession to Thomas Stukeley (qv), and supported his Kavanagh clients against government agents in Wexford; however, though a member of the council and parliament in Ireland, he remained peripheral in politics. The extent to which he exemplified an official policy of colonisation by English adventurers is disputed: though Sir Henry Sidney (qv) initially supported and encouraged him, Sir William Fitzwilliam (qv) and the Irish council advised the queen in 1573 to compensate Carew with lands in England. Carew was accepted by major tenants in Munster, but after treatment for a swelling in the bladder he died 27 November 1575 at Ross, Co. Waterford, and is buried at Waterford. He married (c.1548) Margaret (Skipworth) of Lincolnshire, but had no descendants.