« PreviousContinue »
Richard 111., but proved a staunch adherent to the Earl of Richmond at Bosworth, commanded the right wing of his army on that memorable field, and received knighthood, with a grant of lands, for his valiant conduct, from the victor. In two years afterwards, Sir Gilbert had a command at the battle of Stoke, and was made a knightbanneret; and George, the fourth Earl of Shrewsbury, was installed as Knight of the Garter for his valiant conduct at the same battle.
George, the sixth Earl of Shrewsbury, had the custody of Mary Queen of Scots, and assisted at her execution. His lordship married secondly Elizabeth of Hardwick, who had already been thrice married. She was a woman of masculine understanding and conduct; proud, furious, selfish, and unfeeling. She was a builder, a buyer and seller of estates, a money-lender, a farmer, a merchant of lead, coals, and timber. She died immensely rich.'
The fortunes of the Duke of Shrewsbury present a remarkable instance of the attainment of the highest honours of rank and state, but limited to his own individual enjoyment of them. He was the elder son of the eleventh Earl of Shrewsbury, who died of a wound received in his duel with George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham, at Barnes. He was born in the year of the Restoration, and had Charles 11. for his godfather. In 1694 he was created Marquis of Alton and Duke of Shrewsbury, and installed a Knight of the Garter. His Grace was a prominent statesman in the reigns of William and Mary, Queen Anne, and
George 1. He had quitted the Church of Rome and become a Protestant in 1679, and by his steady adherence to the Protestant cause had incurred the displeasure of James 11. He was one of the seven who in June 1688 joined the celebrated Association, inviting over the Prince of Orange. At the demise of Queen Anne (who delivered to him the Treasurer's staff on her death-bed), the Duke of Shrewsbury was at the same time Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord High Treasurer of Great Britain, and Lord Chamberlain,-a circumstance, says Sir Bernard Burke (Peerage, edit. 1862), previously unparalleled in our history. His Grace on this occasion secured the Hanoverian accession by at once signing the order for proclaiming George 1. The Duke married the daughter of the Marquis of Palliotti, but died without issue; when the dukedom and marquisate expired, and the earldom, etc., reverted to his cousin.
In August 1857, died Bertram seventeenth Earl of Shrewsbury, without leaving any cousin or male kinsman to succeed him in his honours and estates; and it was not until the month of June in the following year that the
When Addison was on his travels in Italy, at Florence he spent some days with the Duke of Shrewsbury, who, cloyed with the pleasures of ambition, and impatient of its pains, fearing both parties and loving neither, had determined to hide in an Italian retreat talents and accomplishments which, if they had been united with fixed principles and civil courage, might have made him the foremost man of his age. These days, we are told, passed pleasantly, and we can easily believe it ; for Addison was a delightful companion when he was at his ease, and the Duke, though he seldom forgot that he was a Talbot, had the invaluable art of putting at ease all who came near him’ (Macaulay).
House of Lords was satisfied that Earl Talbot had made out his claim to the Earldom of Shrewsbury and the Irish honours which had always belonged to that ancient and noble title. On the roth of June 1858 he took his seat in the House of Peers as Premier Earl of England, being the only nobleman in that grade of the peerage who takes precedence of Edward Earl of Derby. “The Great Shrewsbury Case,' as it was called, not without good reason, involved the inheritance not only of a title celebrated in the pages of Shakspeare, and closely interwoven with the thread of English and French history, but also the possession of the costly seat, Alton Tower, and other large landed estates, to the extent of £50,000 or £60,000 a-year, all of which had been bequeathed by Earl Bertram to an infant of the Howard family, with the hope and intention that they should never pass into Protestant hands. The case created great interest in the higher circles of society, and no small amount of religious bigotry was evoked on both sides. Eventually, after a long and expensive suit, it was ruled that the estates ought to pass with the titles. Earl Talbot had the Earldom of Shrewsbury adjudged to him, as being descended through William Talbot, Bishop of Durham, and John Talbot of Salwarp, from Sir John Talbot of Allbrighton, county of Salop, and of Grafton, county of Worcester; he lived in the reigns of Henry vii. and Henry viii., and his father, Sir Gilbert Talbot of Grafton, was the youngest son of John second Earl of Shrewsbury, who fell fighting in the cause of the Red Rose of the House of Lancaster, on the bloody field of Northampton, July 10, 1460. This peerage case, therefore, was singular in one respect,-namely, that in order to prove a common ancestor to Bertram seventeenth Earl, and Henry John eighteenth Earl, it was necessary to go back to a period of nearly 400 years.
A copy was given in evidence of an inscription from an ancient monument in the Church of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, erected to the memory of Sir John Talbot of Allbrighton and his two wives. This inscription, as far as related to Sir John's issue, was in the following words: * The Lady Margaret, hys first wyfe, bare to him three sonnes and five daughters, and ye Lady Elizabeth bare to him four sonnes and four daughters.' Major Talbot of Castle Talbot, county Wexford, who was brother of the late Countess of Shrewsbury, opposed Earl Talbot's claim in the House of Lords, and grounded that opposition upon his descent, as he alleged, from one of these younger sons of Sir John Talbot of Allbrighton by his first wife.—Sir Bernard Burke's Peerage, 1865.
GEORGE VILLIERS, DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM,
ASSASSINATED BY JOHN FELTON.
HE murder of the Duke of Buckingham by Felton
was the first great home event in one of the
most eventful reigns recorded in English history. The prime favourite of two sovereigns, James I. and Charles I., for many years Buckingham had so conducted himself as to give great umbrage to the people; and the opinion generally held of him is expressed in this strong and coarse comment, current towards the end of his career :
*Who rul the kingdom? The King !
George Villiers (afterwards Duke of Buckingham) first appeared at the court of James I. in 1614, and the political intriguers of the day set him up in opposition to the declining favourite Somerset. He was a man of attractive personal appearance, had been educated at the French Court, and at once fascinated the weak monarch, and rapidly made way in his affections. He heaped honours on him and his family; and Villiers rose as fast as Somerset