[From Seacombe, History of House of Stanley]

[Fourth Section]

He was succeeded by Ferdinand, his eldest son, in honours, and the Baronies of Stanley, and Strange, and fifth EARL of DERBY, and also to his very great and noble estate. But such is the frailty of human nature, the malice and wickedness of our fellow-creatures; and the infinite variety of chances and accidents attending human life, that all the care and caution mankind is able to use, is not sufficient to guard against them, no nor riches, nor power; neither of which were wanting in the noble person we are now treating of.

He went off the stage of this world in the flower of his age, to the great loss of his prince, family, and country, and indeed universally lamented; being of an exalted genius, as well as birth, and allowed by all to be one of the most hopeful peers of the age; and that which added greatly to the general affliction, was the uncommon and surprizing manner of his death, as hereafter mentioned.

His royal mistress, the Queen, had at that time many seditious and rebellious subjects, who, to avoid the punishment due to their crimes, fled to foreign countries. Amongst whom was one Richard Hackett, who was sent by these fugitives to prevail upon this noble and loyal Peer, to asume and set up a title and claim to the Crown of England, in right of his descent from Mary, the second daughter of Henry VII. and younger sister to King Henry VIII. and at that time Queen dowager of France, whose grandmother was this Earl's mother; threatening, that unless he undertook this projected enterprize, and withal conceal him, the messenger and instigator of it, he should shortly die in a most wretched manner.; but if he complied therewith, he might be assured of powerful assistance.

But this dutiful and loyal Earl, having no design or intention of claim against her Majesty, nor inclination to disturb her peaceable possesson at the hazard of his own life, honour, and opulent fortune; considered the proposition made to him as a snare laid for his destruston, and therefore rejected it with scorn and indignation.

However, these villainous menace; proved not altogether vain, for within four months after, this noble Earl died a very miserable and surprizing death being seized and tormented by vomiting matter of a dark rusty colour, insomuch that he was supposed by the learned in the practice of physic and others to be poisoned, or else bewitched,

For there was found in his chamber, a little image made of wax, with hairs of the colour of his in the belly of it, which occasioned many and various speculations, conjectures, and constructions concerning the nature, meaning and effects thereof; but I have met with no remarks from the curious of that age, touching the real being, existence or power of witches and wizards, then or at any time in the world, nor of any observations made by them upon this extraordinary event, therefore submit so critical and obtruse a point to be discussed by the learned of our own times; and proceed to inform the reader, that his gentleman of horse was greatly suspected to have had a large share in this wicked scene and removal of his noble and indulgent master out of this world; for the same day the Earl took his bed, he fled away with one of his best horses, and was heard of no more.

His vomit was so violent and corroding, that it stained the silver and irons in the chimney of his room, upon which he had vomitëd ; and when dead, though his body was wrapped in searcloth, and covered with lead, yet it so corrupted and putrified, that for a long time after, none could endure to come near the place it was laid in, till his burial.

By his will, bearing date the twelfth of April, the thirty-eighth of Elizabeth, he bequeathed his body to be buried in his chapel at Ormskirk, which was accordingly done the sixth of May following. His death was universally lamented, and greatly increased by the manner of it. He was good to his tenants, kind to his friends, charitable to the poor, a generous master, a loving and indulgent husband, and a tender and affectionate parent; and had been honoured by his royal mistress with the noble Order of the Garter.

He married Alice, one of the daughters of Sir John Spencer, of Althrop, in the county of Northampton, by whom he left issue three daughters, his heirs general. The lady Ann, his first daughter, being at his death, thirteen years eleven months old, and afterwards married to Grey Bruges, Lord Chandois ; the Lady Frances eleven years and four months, after married to Sir John Egerton, son and heir of Lord Elsmere, then Lord Chancellor of England; and Elizabeth, the youngest, seven years eight months old, after married to Henry, Lord Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon of all whom in their order.

[William - 6th earl]

This noble, but unfortunate Lord, (in the uncommon manner of his death) was succeeded by his younger brother, Sir William Stanley, in the barony of Stanley, and Earldom of Derby, but neither in his estate nor in the Barony of Strange of Knocking, the first being divided betwixt him and his nieces, the heirs general of his late brother, as hereafter; and the second devolving upon the said heirs general; with all the estate appertaining thereto, was separated from, and invested in them, exclusive of the House of Stanley, to whom the Barony of Strange of Knocking subsided and became extinct ; as more fully will be shewn in its proper place.

Sir William aforesaid, was that great Sir William Stanley, of whole travels, martial exploits, and bravery abroad, which this county (especially) gives us many large accounts, as well in story, as song, and frequently made themselves merry therewith ; but being abroad at his brother's decease, and not certainly known whether he was living or not, the very great estate he was as heir at law entitled to, (being at this time in its full extent) he found on his return all settled upon his brother's daughters aforesaid, under the guardianship of four Bishops, and four temporal Lords, who possessed every branch of it to their wards' uses, without any regard to him, which, with the Barony of Strange, and the Isle of Man, was no less then a princely patrimony, for extent, income, and power; but he, unhappy gentleman, was refused admittance by the said guardians to any share of it.

In this melancholy case, having but few Friends, less Money, and powerful Adversaries, who had little or no knowledge of him, (nor indeed few others, by reason of his long absence) yet kind Providence, the Guardian of all who are in distress, and over powered by might, knew his just cause, raised him friends and assistance to enter his claim in law to his birth-right.

In which several of the old tenants in and about Latham, Dalton, Newburgh, &c who knew him from a child to be their natural and rightful Lord, supplied him with money to recover what was his right, or so much as he was justly entitled to.

Upon which a dispute and contest in law arose betwixt the said Earl and the heirs general, touching the claim and title to all the late Earl's estate in England, and also to the Isle of Man, whereupon the Queen apprehending that under the present unsettled state thereof, not only that many renegadoes of the English and Scotch, but the Spaniards also, her declared enemies, might resort to that island, to the great disturbance of her peace, and the tranquility of her government.

For the security and prevention of which, her Majesty thought proper to commit the charge and care of that island to her trusty friend and servant, Sir Thomas Gerrard, (after by her created Lord Gerrard, of Bromley, in the county of Stafford) until the controversy then depending betwixt the parties claiming, should be determined by law.

In the mean time the true and real title of the said Isle of Man was called in question, and being brought before her Majesty's Attorney-general, and other learned council, they upon, examination declared, That the right thereof, solely belonged to her Majesty, and that the Sanleys, EARLS of DERBY, had no good title to that island, by reason that King Henry IV. soon after he obtained the crown, upon the outlawry of William Scroope, then Lord thereof, bestowed it upon Henry Piercy, then Earl of Northumberland; and upon his rebellion about six years after, granted the same by patent to Sir John Stanley for life.

But Northumberland not being attained by Parliament, nor his possessions adjudged to be confiscated ; and for that some short time after, the King and Sir John agreed, that those letters patent to him for life, should be surrendered and cancelled, which was done as before recited, and that heshould have an estate thereof in fee ; to that considering the grant for life was before such time as the King was legally entitled thereto by Northumberland's attainder, they pronounced that the King could not pass any estate for life ; and also that the other grant which had its foundation from the surrender of the estate for life, could not be of any validity.

Whereupon, the Queen, agreeable to her wonted goodness, having considered the many eminent services performed for her Majesty and her royal predecessors, by the honourable and noble House of Stanley, and their long enjoyment of that island, without any interruption, was graciously pleased to drop and withdraw all supposed right she might have thereto, as suggested by the said gentlemen of the law, and to refer the parties claimant to the decision of the courts; and upon this head the Isle of Man rested under her Majesty's care, most of the remaining part of her reign.

But the proceedings at law in England touching the right to to many and great estates there, and the filial portions and advancements of the said three ladies, were prosecuted for six or seven years with the utmost vigour; and in all that time no definitive sentence could be obtained in favour of either of the parties.

This tedious and delitary proceeding by the court at law, added to the very great esteem and high value her Majesty entertained of the great worth and merit of the said Earl William, as a faithful subject, a wise counsellor, and a brave captain, with the heavy expences he laboured under for the recovery of his paternal right, together with her Majefty's concern for the re-establishment of the ancient, honourable, and most worthy House of Stanley, gave her Majesty great perplexity and anxiety of mind.

Wherefore; for her Majesty's case, and the removal of her royal concern, and the accomplishment of her kind intention to so many loyal and dutiful subjects and relations, she, like a nursing mother, meditated a reconciliation of all differences, disputes and controversies subsisting between them; and, by the assistance and advice of Cecil, Lord Burleigh, Sir Robert Cecil, principal secretary of state, and many other kind friends and relations to the honourable and noble House of Derby, her Majesty effected her princely and benign intention, by being graciously pleased to propose a reference of all matters, pretention and clashing interests of the several claimants, to which she was so happy as to obtain their several and united consent.

And for this good propose, the following noble persons were by her Majesty's powerful interest nominated and appointed referees and arbitrators thereof. The right honourable Cecil, Lord Burleigh ; the right honourable Thomas, Lord Buckhurst, Lord High Treasurer of England; the right honourable the Earl of Dorset ; the right honourable Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury ; the right honourable Clifton, Earl of Cumberland; George, Lord Hundson ; and the right honourable Cecil, principal secretary of state, and then Earl of Salisbury ; being the noble and well affected friends as well of the said William, EARL of DERBY, as of the said young ladies, daughters to Ferdinand, late EARL of DERBY.

Which said honourable persons, having heard the said parties themselves, their learned council, officers, agents and servants, with other useful friends authorised to appear therein, advisedly heard and considered the several rights, titles and claims of all the parties; and did, by the consent of the parties and their council, officers and friends, for the appeasing, ending and extinguishing of all variances, claims, titles and controversies then moved and grown; or which might afterwards arise or grow between the said parties, or any of them, touching the said premises in question ; agree, order and determine, amongst other things, that such and so many of the said castles, manors, lands, tenements and hereditaments, late parcel of the possessions of the said Ferdinand, late EARL of DERBY, in the towns, hamlets, villages and places hereafter mentioned; and in every of them, should be assured, conveyed and enjoyed, by and unto such person or persons, and for and during such estate and estates ; and with and under such limitations, powers, liberties, declarations and savings, and in such manner and form as hereafter mentioned, limited and expressed.

Which said order and agreement fo made by the honourable persons aforesaid, as well the faid William, EARL of DERBY, and the Countess Elizabeth, his wife, and rest of the issue male, descended from the honourableHouse of Derby, and the said ladies, Ann, Frances and Elizabeth, daughters of the said late Earl Ferdinand, before and until their several marriages ; and since their said marriages, their said husbands and they did, and yet do hold themselves well contented and satisfied. All which orders and agreements were confirmed by act of parliament, passed the fourth of James I. as hereafter.

By which act and agreement, were appointed and yielded to the right honourable William, EARL of DERBY, the ancient seats of Latham and Knowsley ; with all the Houses, lands, castles and appurtenances in Lancashire, Cumberland, Yorkshire, Cheshire, and many in Wales; also the manor of Meriden, in the county of Warwick, with the old seat in Channon-row, Westminster ; (now Derby-court) also the advowson of the parish-church. of the Holy Trinity, in the city of Chester.

And to the said heirs female, the daughters of the said late Earl Ferdinand, the baronies of Strange of Knocking, Mohun Barnwell, Basset and Lacy, with all the Houses, castles, manors and lands thereto belonging; with leveral other manors and large estates lying in most counties of England, and many in Wales.

For the better and further assurance thereof to every party, and the prevention of all future disputes, there were nineteen recoveries suffered in the common pleas, London, in one term, and seventeen at Lancaster, in one assize ; and thus was cornposed and brought to final issue, all disputes and controversies touching the lands and numerous estates in England and Wales, exceeding in extent and value most of the subjects in the king's dominions; by which the reader will easily judge what a terrible breach was made therein by the said divison.

And though affairs at home were, after much labour, struggle and expence, accommodated and established as before ; yet the most princely branch (the Isle of Man) remained unsettled ; the said ladies claiming the same right to that (as heirs to their father) as they had done to those in England and Wales ; and the disputes and contests in law, touching the right and title thereof, continued almost as long as those had done in England.

But the right thereto being brought upon the carpet by Earl William, and his title strongly asserted by him, the decision thereof in some time came before the learned judges of the several benches; who upon a full hearing of the council on both sides, declared the patent by King Henry IV. granting the Isle of Man to Sir John Stanley, and his heirs for ever, was warranted by the common law, and that the heirs general would take it before their uncle.

Whereupon the said Earl was constrained to come to a treaty and agreement with the said heirs general ; as also with Thomas, Lord Elsemere, then chancellor of England, and Alice, his wife, widow of the late Earl Ferdinand, who had married the said chancellor, for the purchase of all their several claims and interest, in and to the said island, or any part or parts thereof; which he at length affected and got into possession of the same.

Upon which he applied to his Majesty King James I. and from him obtained a new patent or grant, confirming to him and his heirs for ever the said Isle of Man, with all the honours, powers, privileges and regalities thereto belonging, or any wire appertaining, in as full and ample a manner as it had been granted to, or enjoyed by any former lord thereof.

Which said letters patent, together with the said agreement, made with all the parties aforefaid, the said Earl had confirmed by a special act of parliament began at Westminster the nineteenth of March, the first of James I. and continued to the ninth of February, the seventh of James I. as by the said act, wherein he settled the Isle of Man upon himself and the lady Elizabeth, his wife for life, and to the survivor of them, and after to James, Lord Stanley, his eldest son and heir, and the heirs male of his body; and in default of such issue, to Sir Robert Stanley, his second son, and the heirs male of his body; and, in default of such issue, then to the right heirs of the said James, Lord Stanley, for ever, with a proviso, that neither he, nor any of his successors, should either by will, deed, or any other instrument in writing, give, bargain, contract, fell, assign or transfer the said island, or any branch there of, from his or their own issue,

But in default of such heirs, then to the right heirs of the said Sir Robert Stanley, under the said limitations and restraint as by record thereof, returned into the chancery of England, by writ of certiorari, bearing date the thirtieth of July, the eighth of James I. appeareth that the noble Lord, whole life and actions we have here treated of, was the sixth of his family, and was by Queen Elizabeth, honoured with the noble Order of the Garter, and the first of James I. was, by patent, made chamberlain of Chester, for life; in which office he appointed Henry Townshend, Esq ; his vice-chamberlain, and after him succeeded Sir Thomas Ireland, of Bewsey, and after him Roger Downs, of Wardley, Esq ; and after him Orlando Bridgeman Esq. who continued to the year 1640. when a new patent passed, joining with his father, James, Lord Stanley, for both their lives, and the survivor of them.

But some Years before this last patent, viz 1637 [note Moore argues that this should be 1627], his lady being dead, and he grown old and infirm, and desirous to withdraw himself from the hurry and fatigue of life, in which he had been very largely engaged, and greatly encumbered (as hath been related) and his son James, Lord Stanley, now advanced to the honour of Strange also, (as hereafter) having married the most noble lady Charlotte, daughter to Claud de Tremouille, Duke de Tremouille and Travers, in France, a lady of high birth and agreeable fortune, and his son, the Lord Stanley and Strange, being a person of exalted genius, highly qualified with learning, and all the accomplishments of a noble mind and spirit, his kind and indulgent father was pleafed to honour and dignify him agreeable to his quality, by the af gnation and furrender of all his estate to him, and put him in possesson thereof, reserving to himself only one thousand pounds per annum, during his life, as by the following deed.

"Know ye that I William, EARL of DERBY Lord of Man and the Isles, &c. being lawfully seized of and in my demesnes as of freehold of sundry houses, castles, lands, tenements and honours, as well in England and Wales, as in the Isle of Man; do by this my sufficient deed, under my hand and seal, bearing date this eleventh day of August, 1637 [sic ?1627], grant and surrender to my son James, Lord Stanley and Strange, and his heirs, all my term for life, interest and estate whatsoever, of, in, and unto the same lands, tenements and hereditaments, whereof I was so seized," &c.

Whereupon the Earl purchased a convenient house on the side of the river Dee, near Chester, whither he retired, and passed the evening of is life in quiet, peace, and pleating enjoyment of ease, rest and freedom of body as well as mind, agreeable to the practice and sentiments of the wise senators of Rome, who, on like occasions, used to retire to their rural seats, as given us by one of their own poets, viz.

" How blest is he, who tired with his affairs;
Far from all noise and vain applause prepare
To go, and underneath some silent shade,
Which neither cares nor anxious thought invade;
Does for a while, alone himself possess,
Changing the court for rural happiness."

This Earl married the lady Elizabeth, daughter to Edward, Earl of Oxford, by whom he had issue two sons, James and Robert, (before mentioned) also three daughters, first Elizabeth, who died young; second Ann, who married Sir Henry Portman, of Orchard, in the county of Somerset, , and after his death, Sir Robert Carr, Knight and Earl of Ancram, in Scotland. The third daughter (another Elizabeth) who died young; and James his eldest son and successor we shall take notice of in due place; in the interim, Robert his second son married a daughter of Lord Witherington, by whom he had issue, who are all long since extinct; as hereafter appears.

This noble Lord died in his retirement at his said house near Chester, on the twenty-ninth of September, 1642; and from thence was conveyed to Ormskirk, and there deposited with his noble ancestors. But before we proceed we have further to observe, that during this Lord's life, whose eyes we have closed, in the midst of all his contests and struggles of life for a share of the great and immense estate of his ancestors, was applied to for the repair of Warrington-bridge, erected by his noble and renowned ancestor, Thomas, EARL of DERBY (as before mentioned) and by them repaired and amended as occasion required; together with the causeway leading from it to the rising ground on the Chefhire-side; to his time; as before.

But he being under the calamitous state of continual suits, contests and daily expence in law, for the recovery of his natural right, and then not possest of any, or but a small pittance thereof, refused his assistance to the amendment of that bridge, then much out of order.

Upon which the gentlemen of Cheshire consulted the judges at Chester upon that subject, who advised, that enquiry might be made by them against the next assizes, if any lands or tenements were settled and appropriated by any of the noble family of Derby, for the maintenance and support thereof, and report the case to there as it appeared upon the said enquiry; which being fully made, and nothing found settled for the purposes aforesaid, they were advised by the said judges to consult together with their neighbours of Lancashire, of some proper means for the support, and reparation thereof.

Upon which a meeting was held by the gentlemen of Cheshire and Lancashire, to consider of this public affair wherein both the counties were greatly concerned; the result whereof was, That as it had been built and hitherto preserved at the good pleasure and generosity of the House of Stanley, without any obligation upon any of them for the continuance thereof, that for the future, one county should repair one half thereof, and the other county the other half (as, I am informed it is at this time) for the original and remarkable structure and benefit whereof (which begot the present town of Warrington) they and all the ancient and present landlords round it are greatly indebted to the noble and illustrious House of Derby.

[James - 7th Earl]

To whom succeeded James, Lord Stanley and Strange, his eldest son and heir, who was called to * parliament by writ from King Charles I. in 1627, the third year of' his reign., by the stile and title of Sir James Stanley, Knight of the Bath, and Chevalier de Strange, without any local place, and as such sat in the House of Peers several parliaments, when his father sat there as EARL of DERBY.

• Journal of the House of Lords

Os this noble Peer we have much to observe, and shall as near as we are able from manuscript, history and record, give the reader the particulars of his most remarkable life, and every memorable transaction thereof in their proper order of time, beginning first, with the character given of him by Sir William Dugdale ; who tells us, that setting aside the great state he lived in, and his wonderful hospitality and beneficence to his neighbours, friends and servants ; he was a person highly accornphshed with learning; prudence, loyalty and true valour ; and was one, if not the first of the Peers that repaired to King Charles I. at York, when the seditious, insolent and rebellious Londoners, had drove his Majesty from Whitehall; and though he did not usually follow the court, or design to advance his honour or family by a complimental and obsequious attendance of that kind; yet, when he saw his Majesty's affairs required his assistance, he thought himself obliged both by his religion and allegiance, to serve him to the utmost of his power, with his life and fortune; and made him a tender of both.

And although he observed the ministers of state about his Majesty looked coldly and distant upon him, perhaps thinking him either too great or too popular (in their opinion) to be much favoured or employed in that critical juncture ; yet his Lordship (Magna Submissis robere Mentis) prudently concealed his sense thereof, and with the plainness and integrity of his loyal mind, offered himself ready to observe his Majesty's commands upon all occasions.

And in his own words tells us, that in the beginning of that war in 1643, he thought himself happy to have the general applause of his neighbouring gentlemen and yeomen, as they would choose to follow him as they had done his ancestors ; but whether this was more to continue a custom, or the love of his name or person, was hard to say.

But this he knew, that he had raised three thousand good men, who went with him out of Lancashire, to attend and serve his Majesty, and that he was extremely grieved to see the King in so bad a condition, which made him spare neither pains, cost nor hazard, to assist him in so just a quarrel ; he lent the King all his arms, and his Majesty gave him his warrant to receive as many from Newcaste.

But somebody was in the fault, his Majesty's warrant not being obeyed, nor he supplied with arms and amunition as was expected ; his Majesty also allowed and ordered him a suficient sum of money for his service ; but some of his servants about hin thought fit keep it for other uses. " I shall not, says he, enter into particulars, but only say, that this might shew the King my good intention in the discharge of a good conscience, and the preservation of my honour, in spite of envy and malice."

The first considerable debate wherein he eminently and perhaps enviously shewed himself, was, concerning the most convenient place for setting up the King's Standard, York, Chester, Nottingham, Shrewsbury, and Oxford being in proposition, his Lordship having heard the several reasons and, opinions offered, and well weighed and considered the arguments for their support ; at last, with a quiet and calm humility interposed to the following effect : that with humble submission to his Majesty and his council, he conceived Lancashire to be a convenient place to erect his Majesty's Standard in, and raise a considerable army ; urging, that as it lay in the centre of the northern counties, to which the loyal parties of Yorkshire, Cumberland, Westmoreland, Cheshire, Shropshire, North-Wales, and Nottinghamshire, might have ready and easy access ; that he apprehended the inhabitants of that county both gentry and commons (at least for the greatest part) well inclined to his Majesty's just cause ; that the people are usually very hardy, and make good soldiers, and that he himself, (though the unworthiest of his lieutenants) would to the utmost of his estate, contribute to his service ; and that he durst promise three thousand foot, and five hundred horse, to be furnished out at his own charge ; that he made no doubt but in three days to enlist seven thousand Men more under his Majesty's pay, and to make up an army of ten thousand men in Lancashire, to which the acceses from other counties might in a short time arise to a considerable army; and that he hoped his Majesty would be able to march to London walls, before the rebels there could form an army to oppose him.

These things thus proposed, his Majesty and council took time to consider and resolve what to do on that momentous affair; and a few days after, it was concluded, with much dissatisfaction to the party that favoured ...


Back index next

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001