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A visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 1) online

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similar nature which were fortunate enough
to escape demolition ; but its style, the
splendour of its decoration, its shrines, and
its monuments are all among the things
Avhich have been, and are forgotten.

Sir William Herbert, Avho thus obtained
the Abbey of Wilton, lived through four
reigns in the enjoyment of the steady favour
of each succeeding sovereign. By Henry
VIII. he Avas constituted chief gentleman
of tlie privy chamljer ; by EdAvard VI. made
a knight of the garter and created Earl of
Pembroke ; by Queen Mary, appointed gen-
eral of the forces sent against Sir Thomas
Wyat ; and by Queen Elizabeth, nominated
great master of the household. TJiis cele-
brated man Avas one of the most powerful
nobles of his time ; and so great was the
magnificence of his mode of living, that it is
recorded that in the year 1553, " he rode in-
to London to his mansion at Baynard's
Castle, with three himdred horse in his
retinue, Avhereof one hundred Avere gentle-
men in plain blue cloth, with chains of gold
and badges of AA^yvern on their sleeves."
From him the manor of Wilton and his other
vast estates passed to his son and heir,
Henry Herbert, second Earl of Pembroke,
K.G., who died at Wilton, 12th January,
1600-1, and Avas buried in the cathedral of
Salisbur3^ This earl's third countess was
]\Iary, the accomplished sister of the all-ac-
complished Sir Philip Sydney, aa'Iio composed
his beautiful "Arcadia" m the groA'es of
Wilton, and dedicated the romance to the
countess. To the fourth earl succeeded his
son Philip, fifth Earl of Pembroke, and second
of Montgomery, who Avas father of Thomas,
eighth earl, Avho enriched his paternal seat
Avitha valuable collection ofstatues and busts.



His son and heir, Henry, ninth earl, is refer-
red to by Lord Orford in these -words. — •
" The soul of Inigo Jones, tvIio had been
patronised by his ancestors, seemed still to
hover over its favoured Wilton, and to have
assisted the muses of arts in the education
of this noble person. The towers, the
chambers, the scenes, -which Holbein, Jones,
and Vandyke had decoiated, and "wliich liarl
Thomas had enriched with the spoils of tlie
best ages, received the last touches of
beauty from Earl Henry's hand." The
sumptuous mansion which he thus adorned,
and the princely inJieritance of tlie Herberts
to -which he succeeded, have descended in
direct line to his great grandson, the present
noble possessor — Rocekt Henry, Earl of
Pembroke and Montgomery.

SYON, CO. Middlesex. On the north bank
of the Thames, Syon House, the princely
residence of the Duke of Northumber-
land, presents an Imposing front, not t;ir
from " delightful Sheeii," and nearly opposite
the spot where

Thompson siuig the seasons, and their change.

In 1415, Henry V. founded, within his
manor of Isleworth, a convent of Bridgetines,
giving it the name of Syon, in reference to
tlie holy mount. The original site seems to
have been in the parish of Twickenham, most
jjrobably in the meadows lately belonging to
the Marquess of Ailsa ; but permission was
grauted in the year 1431 to the abbess and
holy community to remove to a more spa-
cious ediiice, which they had built upon their
demesnes -vsdthin the parisli of Isleworth.
The convent of Syon, dedicated to our
Saviour, the Virgin i\Iary and St. Bridget,
consisted, according to tlie rules of the
patron Saint, of sixty nuns, including the
abbess, thirteen priests, four deacons, and
eight lay brethren, making in the-u'hole, the
number of the apostles, and seventy-two
disciples of Christ. At the dissolution of
the monasteries, Syon was one of the iirst
of the larger histitutions suppressed by
Henry VHI. It is said that the king viewed
it with especial distrust — from a feeling that
the community harboured his enemies, and
"were accomplices of Elizabeth Barton, the
holy maid of Kent. The true motive, how-
ever, of the royal confiscation may be
souiijit elsewhere. The beautiful situation
of the monastery, its extensive possessions,
and its fertile lands, -n^ere too attractive to
escape the monarch's cupidity, and to this,
and to no fault of the holy ladies, is to be
ascribed the fall of the religious house of Syon.
During Henry's reign, the conventual build-
ings remained in the king's hands, John
Gates, Esq. being appointed keeper. The
fate of the sisterhood is singular and

interesting. Upon the loss of their ancient
seat, they retired to Dermond in the Low
Countries, where Cardinal Pole found them
on his return from Kome, and was so struck
with their zeal and devotion that he prc-
A-ailed on his royal mistress, jMary, to re-
store tliem to their former possessions. Ac-
cordingly in 1557, the nuns were reinstated
in their monastery of Syon, by the Bishop
of London and the Abbot of Westminster ;
but tliey enjoyed for a brief period only, the
sunshine of royal favour. Tlie accession of
Queen Elizabeth led to the second and tinal
dissolution. Clementina Tresham, the Lady
Abbess, went to Rushton in Northampton-
shire, where lier family resided, but the
other nuns again sought refuge in Flandcis.
Poverty and persecution, however, awaited
them in the land of their adoption, and me-
lancholy indeed is the recital of their suf-
ferings during tlie religious contests that
desolated the Low Countries. At length,
they fled to Kouen, and obtained the shelter
of a convent through the exertions of jMr.
Foster their chajilain. Here they continued
for a considerable time, but eventually sailed
for Lisbon, where they established the
famous nunnery of Sion, thus preserving in
their new country the memory of their an-
cient foundation.

In the great earthquake of 175.5, their
convent suffered much, but was, soon after,
rebuilt. Here the Bridge! ine community
continued as an English nunnery until 1809,
when, terrified by the calamities that then
afHicted Portugal, the Lady Abbess (Sister
i\Iary Dorothy Halford) and nine of the
principal nuns, proceeded to England, where
they were received with the gieatest kind-
ness and hospitality by Marlow Sidney, Esq.
of Co wpen Hall, Northumbei land. Mr. Gage,
of Lincoln's Inn, a catholic gentleman of
active benevolence, also aided in the most
generous manner the cause of tlie poor
sisters, and by his persevering exertions,
obtained from Government an annual allow-
ance of £40 for the abbess, and of £30 for
each of the other ladies.

In 1811, the community inhabited a small
house at Walworth, in Surrey, and subse-
quently resided at Peckham (where tliey
named their convent, Syon House), devoting
themselves to educational purposes; but ill
success attended their eftbrts, and they Avere
at last obliged to break up their establish-
ment. A few of the ladies were placed by
Dr. ]Milner, the A'^icar Apostolic of the Mid-
land Distiict, at Cobridge, near Newcastle,
in Staftbrdsliire, and here, by the munificence
ot the present Earl of Shrewsbury,-* avIio
relieved their pecuniary distress, and granted

♦ Several of the old charters of the monastery and
lands of Syon, are now preserved at Lord Shre^V5blu■y's
scat, Alton Towers.



them an annual allowance, the last remnant
of the once powerful and richly endowed
sisterhood of Syon found a final resting-
place. A few years ago the surviving nuns
Avere visited at Cobridge, by the Uuke and
Duchess of Northumberland, the proprietors
of their ancieut demesnes.

From tliis brief episode — commemorative
of religious zeal and unbending piety — we
turn to the subsequent history of Syon. In
1541, its gloomy and desecrated walls
served as a prison for the royal captive,
Katherine Howard, and in less than six
years after, the corpse of Henry himself was
rested under the same roof, on its way for
interment at Wmdsor. The new monarch,
Edward VI., in the first year of his reign,
granted the monastery with its appurte-
nances, to his uncle, the Protector Somerset,
and on the site of the old religious edifice,
his Grace reared the magnificent stiucture,
Avhose shell, though variously altered, still
remains. After Somerset's attainder in
1552, the estate reverted to the crown, and
w^as assigned in the following year, to
John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, the
father-in-law of Lady Jane Grey. It was
at Syon that that illustrious lady had re-
sided since her marriage, and it was at Syon
that she consented to accept the proffered
crown. We need not dwell on the fate of
Northumberland and his fttmily : suffice it to
add, that his death was followed by his
attainder, that Syon again vested in the
crown ; and that it so remained until 1604,
when James I. granted the monastic lands,
together with the manor of Isleworth to
Henry Percy, ninth Earl of Northumber-
land, and his heirs for ever. This unfor-
tunate nobleman, after having laid out
£9,000 in the improvement of the house and
grounds, was convicted on a groundless
suspicion of being connected with the Gun-
powder Plot, stripped of all his offices,
adjudged by the court of the Star Chamber
to pay a fine of £30,000, and sentenced to
imprisonment for life in the Tower. To
liquidate the fine, he petitioned the king to
accept of Syon, as being the only land he
could part with, the rest being entailed.
This proposal was not accepted, but the
king eventually granted his lordship's re-
lease on payment of a fine of £11,000 and
after fifteen years' imprisonment. " The
great house of Percy," says a Avriter in the
" Quarterly Review," " was strikingly un-
fortunate during the reign of the Tudors,
and indeed long before. Their ancestor
Josceline de Lovaine, a younger son of the
ancient princes of Brabant, and brother of
Adelicia, second consort of our Henry I.
married in 1122 Agnes de Percy, the heiress
of a great northern Baron seated at Top-
cliffe and Spofi:ord, county of York, on con-

dition that her male posterity should bear
the name of Percy. Their son Henry was
great-grandfather of Henry Lord Percy,
summoned to parliament 1299, whosegre at-
grandson Henry, fourth Lord Percy, was
created Earl of Northumberland 1377, at
the coronation of Richard II. He was slain
at Bramham Moor, 1408. His son Henry,
Lord Perc}'- (Hotspur) had already fallen at
Shrewsbury, 1403. lienry, second earl, son
of Hotspur, was slain at the battle of St.
Albans, 1455. His son Henry, third earl,
was slain at the battle of Towton, 1461.
His son Henry, fourth earl, was murdered
by an insurrectionary mob at Thirske, in
Yorkshire, 1480, 3 Henry VH. Henry, fifth
earl, died a natural death, 1527, but his
second son. Sir Thomas Perry, was executed
1537, for his concern in Ask's rebellion.
Henry, sixth earl, the first lover of Queen Anne
Boleyn, died 1537, issueless, and the honours
were suspended for twenty years by the at-
tainder of his brother Sir Ihomas Percy in
1537, already mentioned ; during which time
the famil}' had the mortification to see the
Dukedom of Northumberland conferred on
Dudley, Earl of Warwick. But this noble-
man being attainted, 1553, the earldom was
restored to Thomas Percy, the son of the
attainted Sir Thomas, who became seventh
Earl of Northumberland; he Avas eventually
beheaded August, 1572. His brother, Henry
Percy, was allowed, in right of the new
entail, to succeed as eighth Earl of Nor-
thumberland. In 1585 this earl, still blind
to his family sufferings, entered into the in-
trigues in favour of ilary Queen of Scots,
and being imprisoned in the Tower, com-
mitted suicide, 21st June. His son Henry,
ninth earl, is the nobleman to whom we have
just referred as memorable for the charge
of being privy to the Gunpowder Plot, 1605."

Syon was again thoroughly repaired by
Algernon Percy, tenth Earl of Northumber-
land, under the superintendence of Inigo
Jones, and in 1674, Avhen the alarm of the
Civil War had reached its Jieight, was se-
lected as an asylum for the royal children.
Here the ill-fated monarch occasionally
visited them, and here they remained until
their removal to Penshurst and the care
of the Countess of Leicester. From that
period to the present, the lords of Syon
House continued to be the chiefs of the
illustrious house of Percy, a house not more
famous in arms than distinguished for its
alliances, pre-eminent for the number and
rank of the families it represents, and en-
titled to a banner of full nine hundred
armorial ensigns.

In 1692, Syon became the temporary re-
sidence of the Princess of Denmark, during
the misunderstanding occasioned between
her highness and the queen, by the influ-



ence of the Duchess of INIarlboroiigh, and
has since, at various times, been graced by
the presence of royalty.

The structure is of magnificent dimen-
sions, fsiced witli Bath stone, and built
in a quadrangular form, and forms one
of the most conspicuous ornaments of the
Tliames. Its great beauty consists in its
massive size, fair proportions, and tlie so-
lidity of its parts. The centre is occupied
by a flower garden about eight feet square.
The house is three stories high. The chief
entrance is by a flight of stone steps, the
east front, facing the Thames, being sup-
ported by arches, which form a fine cloisteral
arcade. It is flat roofed and surrounded
•with battlements, each of the four angles
being surmounted b}^ a square tui-ret em-
battled like the other parts of the building.

The general outline of the structure woidd
appear to remain as left by the Protector
Somerset ; various repairs, however, have
evidentl)^ mucli altered the detail of his
architectural arrangement . Considerable im-
provements were made under the. direction
of Eobert Adam, b}'' the present duke's
grandfatlier. The house is fronted by a
lawn of some extent, terminated by two
stone lodges embattled in tlie same manner
as the house. Towards the Thames, the
lawn is bounded by a lake, and a meadow
which is cut down into a gentle slope, so that
the surface of the water may be seen even
from the state apartments which are on the
ground floor ; by tliis arrangement the most
beautiful piece of scenes-y imaginaljle is
brought into view from two of tlie principal

HAMPDEN HOUSE, Buckinghamshire, the
seat of the Earl of Buckinghamshire. The
manor of Great Hampden has been in the same
family from the time of the earliest existing
records, and they no doubt took their name
from the locality, according to the well-
known custom in the remoter ages. In a
roll, quoted by tlie, county historian. Lips-
combe, Ave are told that " Hampden being
a lordship and manor, situate on Chiltren
Hill, Avithin the Hundred of Aylisbury, in
the countie of Buck., hath contynued in
the possession of one race of gentlemen by
the space of more than six hundred years,
who takinge their name of the place whereof
they Avere lordes, grew thereupon to be
called by the sd name of Hampden, and
this familie bearinge this name, and being
lordes of this toAvne, have most auncicntly
borne for their coatc of armes, as appeareth
by their scales of armes and sondery other
monuments this coate folloAving, to Aveete; —
a fielde silver, a raven in his proper cultu.

" Incontynnounce of time, uppon occacion
it is unccrtyne, theis gentlemen of the name

of Hampden, forsakinge this coate of armes,
chose unto them an other, reserving the
oulde for a badge and conysaunce, and some-
times for a supporter. Tlie last that bore
this coate was Sir Alexander Hampden,
Avhose Sonne, Sir Reiginolde Hampden,
chaunginge the raven into foure egles,
framed his coate in this sorte : — bearinge in
the fielde silver a saltier gules, between
foAver egles dispLayed azuer ; Avhich coate as
the last and best knoAven, for that cause in
this pedigree is most and contynnually used
for the principall coate of tliis house.

" The first mention which is founde to be
made of any of the Hampdens is to be sene
in an auncient antiquitie, Avritten in parche-
ment, and remeyning at Hampden, Avhereof
there be sondery coppies in sondery partes
of the same sheire; and thereby it appeareth
that before the Conquest there was a Com-
mission directed to the Lorde of Hampden
then being, that he shoulde be assistant Avith
his ayde tOAvards the expulsion of tlie Danes
out of this lande, Avhich by reasonable con-
jecture should be at the generall aA'oideance
of that nation by Edward tlie Confesso,
Kinge of Englande in the yeareof our Lorde
1043, and before the Conquest tAveuty-tliree

" After that William, Duke of Normandy,
had made a conquest of this realme, he
devided the possessions thereof amongst the
nobilitie, gent, and soldiers that accom-
panyed hym and assisted hj-m in that vyage.

" In this nomber tliere was a great lorde
and knight, called "William fittz Asculfe, a
Norman borne, Avho Avas one of the best of
them that by lycence of the Conqueroure en-
trod into the parties of Buckinghamsheire,
lyinge upon the Chiltren llilles, and drove
some of the English cleane from their lyvinge,
and other some he caused to fyne with him
at his own pleasure, that they might still
quietly enjoye suche things as before they
rightfully possessed.

" Amoiigst others, the mansion of Hampden
fell to the lott of this William fittz Asculfe,
wjiereof at that tyme Osbert of Hampden Avas
lorde, Avho wether it Avere by monny or some
other meane of friendship, so purchased the
good will of the said AVilliam, that he suf-
fered the said Osbert to coutynewe in quiet
possession of his said lordshipp of Hampden.

"And thcreuppon the said William fitz
Asculfe, by his dede graunted the said nianno
of Hampden to the said Osbert and his
heires for ever, Avith this condycon — that
the said Osbert and his heires shoulde hohle
the said manno of the said William and his
heiies. And thus by this meanes was the
inheritance of this lordeshipp preserved to
the posteritie of the auncient lordes of the
same, Avherein it had remayned before tlie
Conquest longer than the memory of men or



veporte of history can reaclie unto. And
sithenvS the Conquest the same lordeshipp
hath by lyniall descent, one from another,
contynued in the same faniilie and blodde,
being of the same surname from Osbert of
Hampden that ther was, to Griffith Hamp-
den that now is, above the space of five
hundred yeares. Although contynnounce
of time liaveso consumed the monuments as
such as have lived so longe since, that there
can be no contynuall memory made of them
and their dedes ; yet, by long searche the
names of some of them are come to light."

From these documents it appears that the
Hampdens were of Anglo-Saxon origin.
Illustrious, however, as the race evidently
was at an early period, the celebrity of the
name is chiefly due to John Hampden, the
first, and, next to Cromwell, the most dan-
gerous, opponent of Charles the First. In
the character of this distinguished individual,
after all tliat has been written of him, there
is much that remain.s unexplained. To what
cause are we to attribute his determined hos-
tility to the court, when all his family for
ages had been well affected to the regal form
of government, under which they had uni-
formly enjoyed the iirivileges and the im-
portance tliat attach to rank and fortune ?
^Yas it o'wnng to liis being brought up
in " the straitest sect " of Presbyterians,
whose religious notions discarding all au-
thority, they were led, as a matter of course,
to the same latitude of opinion in regard to
political government ? Wns it, as D'Israeli
insinuates, because he entertained a pique
against his neighbour, the sheriff of the
county, the cause being a law-suit between
them, and therefore he refused to pay the
ship money ? Or was it, as the same writer
suspects, that Hampden was ambitious, and
from the first wished and anticipated the
overthrow of the monarchy? It is pos-
sible that if those who have investigated the
character of this extraordinary man, had
been less profound, they would have ex-
perienced less difficulty in getting at the
truth. While almost denying his wonderful
capacity, or at least greatly limiting it, they
yet suppose him gifted with a prophetic in-
sight into futurity. The truth seems to be,
that Hampden at first was a moderate oppo-
nent, who only desired to preserve the con-
stitution ; but as the dispute went on, his
patriotism took a deeper shade, and he be-
came the determined foe of roj-alty.

Tlie manner of Hampden's death has been
so variously related, that it is impossible to
put faith in any of the narrators. It is not
even known with anything like certainty
where he died ; though it is beyond question
that he was buried amongst his ancestors at
Hampden, the 25th of June, 1643. There is
nothing, however, to guide us in fixing the pre-

cise spot of his interment. An attempt was
made, under the directions of the late Lord
Nugent, to clear up this doubtful point by
opening a grave in the chancel where it was
supposed the body might be, and a long ac-
count of the whole affair was published ; but
this was afterwards suppressed, and hence it
has been inferred that subsequent inquiries
led to throw a doubt on the first investigation.

The present mansion is said to stand upon
a part of the ground occupied by the ancient
seat of the Hampdens, which is supposed to
have been erected in the reign of King John.
AVhen tlie old building was partly demolished
and modernized, in 1754, proofs of this were
visible in the architecture. There are still
afiixed to the walls the remains of coats
of arms, carved in stone, of the family
of Fiennes and Ilardeby, with whom the
Hampdens intermarried in the time of Henry
the Third.

Hampden House stands upon an eminence,
embosomed in trees. The principal front of
it, which was built l)y Robert, first Viscount
Hampden, is about two hundred *feet long,
and opens,' through a fine vista of elms,
beech, and chestnut-trees, upon a distant
prospect of rural scenery towards the south.
On the north side of the mansion are many
fine cedars; the inequalities of the ground,
the beauty of the woods, and the bright
verdure of the foliage, almost compensating
for tlie absence of lake or river. The rooms of
the interior are less magnificent than adapted
for family convenience. The principal suite,
towards the south, consists of a large and
smaller dining-room, a drawing-room, a li-
brary, a presence-chamber, and a state bed-
chamber, most of them containing pictures,
valuable either as works ofart,orin reference
to their subjects. Here, too, are many fine
carvings in wood, and an ivory-bust bear-
ing the name of John Hampden, but which,
if we may believe Seward in his " Li-
terary Anecdotes," the last male descen-
dant of his family declared to be not an
actual representation of his features, but
composed by the memory and tradition of
tliem. This statement, however, seems to
be contradicted by the head being covered
with a wig of the costume of King William ;
and Lipscombe, though without saying on
what authority, positively declares that it
was bought in'London, by Robert, Viscount
Hampden, who had no idea that it was
meant to represent the patriot.

In the small dining-room is a whole-length
portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria, the con-
sort of Charles,— a somewhat singular occu-
pant for a room in the house of Hampden.
There is also a likeness of Ralph, Earl of
Lindsay; and above the principal apart-
ments in the centre of the south front, is a
room containing all that remains of the




books collected by the Plampdens, as well as
those afterwards added to the library by the
Trevors. Amongst these are many curious
tracts, published about the time of tlie great
Civil SV'dv, good editions of the classics, and
numerous volumes of prints of superior ex-
cellence, that were at one time in the Royal
Library at Paris. As a mere curiosity, there
is a quarto copy of the Bible, whicli is held
in high estimation from tlie inscription at
the end of it — " This Bible was the property
of Philip Cromwell, brother of Robert, the
father of tlie Lord Protector : Anno Dom.,
1595." It contaii^s minute entries of the
names of many Cromwells, including the
godfathers and godmothers of those who
were baptized.

Many portraits of the family are scattered
through the various rooms ; but as they have
neither names, dates, nor coats of arms, it is
impossible to identify them. At the top of
the staircase, leading to the library, is a
supposed portrait of the great Hampden ;

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