Edward Walford.

Tales of our great families. 2d series (Volume 1) online

. (page 13 of 16)
Online LibraryEdward WalfordTales of our great families. 2d series (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

could have heard his dying exhortation to one of
his intimate friends to live in future a life of
peace and virtue: I think it would have made
impressions on their minds, as it did on mine, not
easily to be effaced."

On the day after his death an inquest was held


on the body of his lordship, when, strange as it
may sound to the ears of those who have read
this brief story, twelve wise and enlightened in-
habitants of the country village of Kensington,
for such it then was, brought in a verdict of
" wilful murder against some person or persons

It is evident that Lord Camelford had in him
the elements of a good naval officer, if his proud,
obstinate, and wayward spirit could only have
bent itself to the rules and requirements of the
service. But from a child he would never obey,
or fall in with even the reasonable wishes of
parents and tutors. At school the same head-
strong and wilful nature cropped out which he
exhibited in the navy ; and he was true to it to
the very end. In the codicil to his will, which he
dictated whilst writhing in his mortal agony, he
declared that, while other individuals desired to
be buried in their native land, he wished to be
interred " in a country far distant in a spot not
near to the haunts of men, but where the sur-
rounding scenery might smile upon his remains."

But in this matter he was not destined to have
his own way. Lord Camelford's body was
brought back from Kensington to Camelford
House, at the top of Park Lane, nominally his
town residence, though he preferred his bachelor


quarters in Bond Street ; and thence it was taken
and deposited in the vaults of St. Anne's, Soho.
Owing to the war, effect could not be given to
his desire for interment in the soil of Switzer-
land, and his body still lies where it was first
interred, in a magnificent coffin, covered with
gorgeous red velvet, and surmounted by a
coronet. It is perhaps the more necessary for me
to record this fact, as the contrary has been
asserted by Mr. Charles Reade, in an article on
Lord Cameiford in " Belgravia " for May, 1876,
who says that the body was wrapped up in a
common fish-basket, and that it is not known
now what became of it. But the mystery is no
mystery at all ; for I saw the coffin, or at all
events what the verger told me was the coffin of
Lord Cameiford, in the vaults under St. Anne's,
Soho, about the year 1860 ; and the coffin might
or might not have contained a fish-basket in the
place of a " shell." I may add that a letter from
the courteous owner of his Lordship's seat in
Cornwall, the Hon. George M. Fortescue, assures
me that he never heard of any attempt, or even
desire, on the part of the relations of the
eccentric nobleman, to bring his remains again
into the light of day.

His fine property of Boconnoc Park near Lost-
withiel, in Cornwall he left to his sister Anne,


the wife of Lord Grenville. She outlived him
sixty years, dying in the full possession of her
faculties, at the age of ninety, in the year 1863.
At her death, she bequeathed the estate to her
husband's nephew, Mr. Fortescue, the gentleman
mentioned above.



NEXT to the Howards, who undoubtedly stand
first and foremost in the roll of English
nobility, with their forty coronets all fairly won
by them in four hundred years, no family rises
higher in respect of its honours than that of the
Herberts. For not only do its male descendants
in our day wear the coronets of three earldoms
those of Pembroke, Montgomery, and Carnarvon
but within a period quite historic they have
borne at least two more, namely, those of Powis
and Torrington, both now extinct in the male
line ; to say nothing of other dignities in the
lower grade of barons, as Lords Herbert of
Cherbury, Lords Herbert of Cardiff, Lords
Herbert of Shurland, and, by recent creation,
Lords Herbert of Lea. In addition to this they


have made alliances with nearly all the greatest
and noblest of our titled houses the Talbots, the
Greys, Dukes of Suffolk, the Sidneys, the
Villierses, the Howards, the Arundells, the
Paulets, the Scropes, and the Spencers ; so that
the present Lord Pembroke, although not un-
disputed head and representative of the house
of Herbert, has come, through the intermarriages
of his ancestors, to hold four ancient baronies
in fee, as Lord Ross of Kendal, Parr, Marrnion,
and St. Quentin. How all this comes about
it would not be easy to show in detail without
drawing out for my readers a long genealogical
tree ; and those who wish to examine my state-
ment for themselves can verify my words by
the authority of Sir Bernard Burke, whose as-
sertion of the fact, I own, is sufficient for

If they will turn to his "Peerage" and his
" Landed Gentry," they will find that, in addition
to the honours above mentioned, the main stem
of the Herberts has produced several untitled
branches of high worth and renown, such, for
instance, as the Herberts of St. Julian's and
of Magor, in Monmouthshire, the Herberts of Lla-
narth, in Wales, and of Cahirnane, in Ireland.
Above all, with respect to the Herberts of
Muckross, near Killarney, my friend " Ulster"


writes as follows : " Since the merging of the
elder branch of the Herberts in the family of
Clive, by the marriage of the heiress of the last
Herbert, Earl of Powis, with the son of the
celebrated general, Lord Clive, the chieftainship
of the name seems undoubtedly to rest with the
Herberts of Muckross, in the county of Kerry,
who are descended from Thomas Herbert of
Kilcuagh, who went to Ireland under the care
and patronage of his relative, Lord Herbert of
Cherbury." And then he proceeds to trace the
descent of this Thomas Herbert from the eldest
son of Sir Richard Herbert of Colebroke, only
brother of William, Earl of Pembroke of the
first creation, who as may be read in the pages
of Speed and Holinshed suffered largely in
purse and pocket for his adherence to the House
of York in the Wars of the Roses.

it should be added that, while one of the earl's
coronets belonging to the Herberts namely,
that of Powis for a short time blossomed into
that of a marquis, one of the fair Countesses of
Pembroke was even more highly honoured by
the muses ; for to her Sir Philip Sidney
dedicated his "Arcadia," while Ben Jonsou im-
mortalized her memory in the well-known verses
that will live as long as the English tongue :


" Underneath this marble herse
Lies the subject of all verse :
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother.
Death, ere thou hast slain another
Wise and fair and good as she,
Time shall throw a dart at thee."

Further, it should be recorded that no less
than two brothers, successively Earls of Pembroke,
were also in succession the " honoured lords and
chancellors " of the University of Oxford, where
a noble statue of one of them still graces the
gallery of the Bodleian Library ; and the reader
will need scarcely to be reminded that the
father of the present Earl of Pembroke was the
good, the kind, the courteous, and amiable
Sidney Herbert, the rising statesman and future
premier of England, to whom it was no honour
to be created Lord Herbert of Lea, so high did
he stand before with Englishmen of all shades of

When a single house can show so many of its
members ennobled both by titles and by the
higher dignity of personal merit, it is scarcely
worth while to record such facts as that one
Lord Pembroke was Lord Chamberlain to the
Household to Charles I., and that another was
" chosen to carry the sword called ' curtana ' at
the coronation of George I." However, some of my


fair readers may possibly like to " make a note "
of them. Let me, however, remind them one and
all that the surname of the house ennobled by so
many creations, and spread through so many
branches, is said to be derived from two Anglo-
Saxon words, " Her " and " Bert " meaning " il-
lustrious lord," a derivation in their case not
wholly false in fact. I suppose too that, in order
to do justice to antiquity and to show my respect
for " blue blood," I ought to add that, according
to the heralds, the Herberts are sprung from one
Herbert, Count of Vermandois, who came over to
England with the Conqueror, and held the office
of Chamberlain to William Rufus. He is men-
tioned in the roll of Battle Abbey, as rewarded
with a large grant of land in Hampshire, and as
having married a daughter of Stephen, Count of
Blois, granddaughter of William I. The first of
the Herberts born in England, it appears, was
his son, Herbert Fitz-Herbert, called Herbert
of Winchester, who became Treasurer and Cham-
berlain to Henry I. His son held the same office
under the second Henry, and his great grandson
was summoned to Parliameut as a Baron in A.D.
1294. If this be so, in all probability either Mr.
Herbert of Muckross, or Lord Pembroke himself,
might rightly put in a claim for a barony in fee
nearly as old as that of De Roe.


I must, however, pass by all notice of him,
and of his descendant, William Herbert, first
Earl of Pembroke, Chief Forester of Snowdon,
and Constable of Conway Castle, the staunch
adherent of the house of York, who, falling into
the hands of the Lancastrians after the battle of
Dane's Moor, in 1469, suffered attainder, and
was beheaded at Banbury. His grandson, Wil-
liam, was installed a Knight of the Garter, and
created Lord Herbert of Cardiff, and eventually
obtained in his favour a fresh creation of the
Earldom of Pembroke. He married a sister of
Catharine Parr (the last wife of Henry VIII.),
and became one of the most powerful noblemen
of his day, taking an active part in public affairs
as a soldier and as a statesman. It is recorded
of him that " he rode on the 17th of February,
1552-3, to his mansion of Baynard Castle, in
London, with a retinue of three hundred horse-
men, of which one hundred were gentlemen in
plain blue cloth, with chains of gold, and badges
of a dragon on their sleeves." Dying in 1570,
he was buried in Old St. Paul's Cathedral, and
with such magnificence that, if we may trust the
old chronicler Stow, the mourning given at his
funeral cost the large sum, at that time, of
.2000. It was this nobleman's son Henry, the
second earl of the new creation, and also a


Knight of the Garter, whose third wife was the
lady mentioned above as

" Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother."

But from all these brilliant and pleasant
reminiscences I must pass to my promised
" episode" in the noble house of Pembroke. It is
by no means a pleasant one to relate, or, I fear,
a creditable one to the otherwise spotless shield
of the noble Herberts men almost without
exception sans peur et sans reproche.

It appears that Philip, the seventh wearer of
the coronet of Pembroke, who came to the title
in the reign of Charles II., stood out with an evil
prominence even among the riotous and debauched
nobles who hung about the Whitehall and St.
James's of that day. In our own time we have
seen a Lord Kingston month after month
quarrelling at Charing-cross with Hansom-cab
drivers, and a Lord Waldegrave and a Lord
Waterford getting up rows in the Haymarket,
knocking down policemen, and using their fists
pretty freely in street brawls at the West-end
not always quite defensively. But these were
comparatively innocents quite " lambs," as they
would be called at Nottingham by the side of
Philip, seventh Earl of Pembroke and fourth Earl
of Montgomery. Of him we learn a little in a



certain book of " State Trials" which gives us a
peep at his character. Let me only preface my
" episode" with one remark, that he was the
grandson, not of the great Lord Pembroke, the
ornament of the Court of King James I., but of
his younger brother, who " began life as one of
James's favourites and parasites, was ennobled
by the title of Earl of Montgomery, and finished
a career in all its parts alike contemptible by
being the first member of the peerage after the
fall of the monarchy who sought (and obtained)
a seat in the House of Commons."

Philip, this nobleman's grandson, who became
Earl of Pembroke as well as of Montgomery, on
the death of his half-brother in 1674, according
to an entry in the Lord's Journals, Jan. 28, 1678,
was committed to the Tower " for uttering such
horrid and blasphemous words, and for such other
actions proved upon oath, as are not fit to be
repeated in any Christian assembly." Bishop
Kennet explains at length what these blasphemies
were,* and I will not trouble my readers by

* It is right to add that in consequence of this affair, " to
show their lordships' great sense and abhorrency against blas-
phemy," it was ordered that a bill be brought into the House
" for the severe punishment of all blasphemers for the time to
come." Such a bill was brought in, but from some cause or
other was allowed to drop. It is almost too good to hope that
even in this embryo state it had ga ; ned its end.


retailing them ; I will only say that in a petition
dated from the Tower, which is to be found no
doubt in the Journals of the House of Peers, Lord
Pembroke " humbly implored pardon of God,
the King, and of this House," and accordingly,
after a month spent in durance vile, was released,
and "had leave to come to his place in

It is remarkable that, among the grounds on
which the noble Earl begged for his release, he
pleaded the fact that " his health was much
impaired by long restraint." Let us see what
follows. Such an invalid is he that he has been
out of prison only a few days when a complaint
is made to the House of Lords by a Mr. Philip
Rycaut to the effect that, "he being to visit a
friend in the Strand, whilst he was at the door
taking his leave, the Earl of Pembroke came up
to the door and with his fist, without any
provocation, struck the said Philip Rycaut such
a blow upon the eye as almost knocked it out,
and afterwards knocked him down, and then fell
upon him with such violence that he almost
stifled him with his grips in the dirt; that his
lordship then likewise drew his sword and was
in danger of killing him, had he not slipped
into the house and the door been shut upon him."
The wounded man brings his petition to a close

R 2


by humbly begging the House " to be an asylum
to him" and give him leave to proceed against
the Earl according to law. In the end his
lordship vvas bound over in .2000 to keep the
peace towards Mr. Rycaut and the rest of His
Majesty's subjects for twelve months.

But unhappily, almost before Mr. Rycaut had
been able to invoke the aid of the House of Peers,
Lord Pembroke had got into another and far
more serious scrape ; for the House of Lords on
1st of March following received a petition from
Lord Pembroke himself, complaining that at a
coroner's inquest held on the body of Nathaniel
Cony, gentleman, he had been charged with
causing that person's death, evidently implying
that he had received an affront which he ought
not to brook as a peer.

Next day a committee of the " Law Lords"
was appointed to consider the question thus
raised; but so far were they from taking his
lordship's view, that on the 6th it was resolved
" that a commission of oyer and terminer should
be issued under the Great Seal for the indictment
of Philip, Earl of Pembroke, for killing and
slaying Nathaniel Cony." On the 19th the Lord
Chancellor informed the House that the Grand
jury had found him guily of " felony and murder,"
and a Lord High Steward Lord Finch, after-


wards Earl of Nottingham having been ap-
pointed in due form for the purpose, Lord
Pembroke was put upon his trial, just as within
the memory of most of us the late Lord
Cardigan was tried for the murder of Captain

It is needless here to recount the legal details
of the affair ; they may be found at full length by
those who are curious in such things in the book
of " State Trials." It is enough to say that the
indictment charged the noble earl with
"feloniously, wilfully, and of malice before-
thought, striking, bruising, and kicking, killing
and murdering the said Nathaniel Cony, in the
parish of St. Martin' s-in-the-Fields, against the
peace of our sovereign lord the King, his crown
and dignity." It appears that without any
provocation, while drinking in Long's Tavern in
the Haymarket, Lord Pembroke first insulted
and then assaulted Mr. Cony, next knocked him
down, and ended by kicking him when prostrate.
The poor man died a few days after, in spite of
all that the doctors and " chirurgeons" could do
The trial, happily, was not dragged out to such
a length as that of a certain " claimant" of the
present day at Westminster; the case against
Lord Pembroke having been opened by Sir Win.
Dolben, Recorder of London, in his capacity


of King's Serjeant-at-Law, the prosecution was
conducted by the Attorney-General Sir William
Jones, and the witnesses having been examined,
and the evidence against him having been
summed up by Sir Francis Winnington, in a day
or two the turbulent and quarrelsome nobleman
who had thus tarnished the shield of the Herberts
was found guilty of manslaughter; forty of their
lordships finding that verdict, while six were
for finding him guilty of the higher offence, and
eighteen pronounced him " not guilty."

It so happened that, although if he had
been found guilty of murder that plea would
not have saved him (as witness the cases of
Lord Stourton and Lord Ferrers), yet as the
law then stood it was competent for a member
of the Upper House to plead in arrest of
judgment for manslaughter " the privilege of his
peerage ;" so he got off scot free, and the Lord High
Steward put an end to the farce of the trial by
breaking his staff according to ancient custom.

But the danger that he had run on this occa-
sion did not cure Lord Pembroke of his fondness
for tavern brawls. In the following November a
quarrel over their cups arose between his lord-
ship and the Earl of Dorset ; and, as usual, the
quarrel seemed likely to end in a duel. The
matter being happily brought under the notice of


the House of Peers, before any blood had been
spilt, their lordships resolved that both of the
belligerent parties should be " confined to their
respective houses or lodgings till further orders ;"
and finally, on a full consideration of the whole
affair, it was ordered that the confinement of the
Earl of Dorset and that of the Earl of Pembroke
should be " taken off," and that the latter should
have leave given him " to retire himself to his
house at Wilton." This was not, one would
think, a very severe punishment for such a mis-
creant ; and many a man in the humbler ranks of
middle life in our own day would be glad to be
let off for two serious and one fatal assault by
honorary banishment to some pleasant grounds
and a park, in Wiltshire or elsewhere. Such an
ostracism indeed would be a thing to be envied
by most of us, if unaccompanied by a tdche or a
stain, but scarcely otherwise.

Whether the noble Earl took advantage of the
kind permission thus given to him to "retire
himself" from the temptations of "high life in
London," does not appear. It may, however, be
presumed that he took the hint, as we do not
hear of him playing such mad pranks again in
the parish of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. He
died in 1683, when his titles, honours, and es-
tates passed to a younger and far worthier brother,


Thomas, who became the eighth Earl. He re-
stored the ancient reputation of the family ; for,
besides holding several high offices in the State,
including that of Lord High Admiral and the
Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland, his distinction in
the world of literature and science procured for
him the chair of the Royal Society. His name too
is worthy of remembrance, as the collector of that
magnificent gallery of sculptures and other anti-
quities which has for two centuries given an en-
vied celebrity to the fine old seat of Wilton
House, the home and haunt of the English muses,
and renowned alike for its pictures and art trea-
sures, and as the spot where Sidney wrote the
greater part of his " Arcadia." The titles of
Pembroke and Montgomery have since descended
in his line, and it may well be hoped that the
youthful Earl of Pembroke will do no discredit
hereafter to the honoured name of his own la-
mented father, Sidney Herbert.

And what about the issue of Philip, the seventh
Earl ? Happily, he left no male descendants to
carry on the polluted stream, which for centuries
had flowed so purely in the veins of the Herberts.
He married one of the loose and frail beauties of
the Court of Charles the Second, Henriette de
Querouaille, a sister of the notorious Duchess of
Portsmouth. This lady, who survived her hus-


band nearly half a century, left a daughter, who
married the second Lord Jeffries, son of the infa-
mous Judge Jeffries, by whom she became the
mother of Henriette Louisa, Countess of Pomfret,
a title now extinct.



AS more than one fair lady of the House of
Rothschild has lateiy married into what I
suppose may be styled our Christian aristocracy,
a short account of the steps of the ladder by
which the Rothschilds in less than a century have
climbed from poverty to the highest pinnacle of
commercial success may not be without interest
at the present moment. The main facts are not
new to the world, but the details I have reason to
believe will be found new by very many, if not
most of my readers ; and I will therefore proceed
with my story, with only a word of preface
namely, that for most of them I am indebted to
my worthy friend Mr. Frederick Martin, the au-
thor of the "Statesman's Year Book," and of
other useful works too numerous to mention.
In the centre of the ancient city of Frankfort-


on-the-Maine is a narrow lane not unlike Holywell
Street, in the Strand, or Maryleport Street, Bris-
tol, but which, a hundred years ago, was not only
one of the narrowest, but one of the dirtiest and
filthiest in Europe. It was called the " Juden-
gasse," or Jews' lane the name denoting the
fact that the Jewish population were forced to
live in one part of the town, analogous to the
" Ghetto " at Rome, and to the " Jewry " of the
city of London in the middle ages. In that street,
in the year 1743, was born Meyer Amschel Roth-
schild, the founder of that great house which holds
in its hands the destinies of European nations
more truly than the ephemeral emperors and
kings of our day. An empire may fall at Sedan ;
a king may abdicate at Madrid ; and the imperial
and regal glories pass away as a dream ; but
Juvenal long ago crowned money as a Queen,
saying, " Et genus et formani regina Pecunia
donat;" and, looking at the existing state of
things around us, we cannot any of us get rid oi
the idea that after all money is the great power
which rules the world.

But to return to the Rothschilds. When Meyer
Amschel Rothschild first saw the light of day, the
Jews, though no longer tied to a single spot in Lon-
don, were literally in fetters at Frankfort. In 1743
the " Jews' lane " was a prison, guarded at either


end with heavy chains, which were fastened
every evening by the watchmen, and also were
kept closed on all Sundays, Feast Days, and Holy
Days. Out of this pent-up district, only some
300 yards long, the wretched inhabitants were
not allowed to stir under penalty of death. " No
Jew," says Mr. Martin, " was allowed under any
pretence to live beyond the limits of the ' Juden-
gasse ;' a rule which compelled the poor outcasts
either to raise their dark sunless dwellings higher
and higher with each succeeding generation, or
else to hide themselves away in deep cellars
underground. Such were the early surroundings
that greeted the birth of the world- famed banking
dynasty." Shame on Christians, indeed, that
such should have been the case ; but it only
proves the truth of Byron's sneer,

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16

Online LibraryEdward WalfordTales of our great families. 2d series (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 16)