Imatges de pàgina



It may be readily imagined that a castle with so many powerful recommendations was not lost sight of by the King and his advisers; and as Prince Henry was in want of a country palace befitting his name and station, that of Kenilworth was at once suggested to him as possessing every requisite for a princely residence. But independently of that splendour to which it had been raised by the late Earl of Leicester, the Castle was strongly associated with the lives and actions of former sovereigns, who had either made it their residence, or the scene of alternate conflict or festivity, from the days of Henry the First to those of Elizabeth. Enhanced by these recommendations, it was an object of ambition with the prince to obtain possession of it, and with this view, « affecting it as the noblest and most magnificent thing in the midland


parts of this realm, he made verture by special agents” to Sir Robert Dudley, to purchase the castle and domain for a sum not exceeding fourt en thousand five hundred pounds. This was probably not more than one-fourth of its value; but as the offer came from a quarter where he could expect little favour, and seeing no prospect of his being ever restored to his paternal inheritance, the unfortunate heir was driven to the painful alternative of either disposing of his right for the sum offered, or of provoking by non-compliance the resentment of the Court. “Whereupon, in consideration of £14,500 being paid within the compass of a twelvemonth, certain deeds were sealed and fines levied, settling the inheritance thereof."


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Having completed the transfer, the last hope was abandoned, and Dudley resolved never to return to a country in which he had received such manifest injustice. The conditions were, that three thousand pounds should be paid within a twelvemonth after the ratification of the transfer; but the money, which was to have been remitted to him at Florence in Italy, was lost by the failure of the merchant in whose hands it had been incautiously placed. Of the remaining sum of eleven thousand five hundred, nothing was ever paid; yet on the death of Henry the Prince of Wales, his brother Charles took possession of the castle and manor as heir to his brother, and obtained a grant out of the Exchequer for four thousand pounds to be paid to the Lady Alice, wife of Sir Robert Dudley, in lieu of her jointure, but which was not paid for many years, to the damage of the said lady. It remained thus in the possession of Prince Charles till his accession to the throne: after which, in the first year of his reign, he made a grant of it to Robert Carey, Earl of Monmouth, Lord Carey, his eldest son, and Thomas Carey, Esq., in whose hands it continued till

"Teint du sang de son Roi, l'hypocrite Cromwell
Etablit, par degrés, son pouvoir criminel:
Usurpateur habile autant que politique,
De l'état qu'il transforme en une république,
Il renverse à son gré les anciens fondemens.”- FASTES BRITANN.

Having then fallen into the hands of Oliver, the castle and manor were divided amongst several of his officers, who, paying no respect either to the splendour of the edifice, the richness of the furniture, or the beauty of the landscape in which the castle was embosomed, regarded it only in a pecuniary point of view; and apprehensive, probably, that their tenure was very insecure, made haste to convert everything available into money. They stript the castle of its princely decorations, cut down the timber, drained the lake, and demolished the very walls for the sake of the materials. They threw open the park and chase, killed and dispersed the deer, and subdivided the whole into distinct farms, the rental of which they continued to receive and appropriate to their own use till the Restoration. These officers were Colonel Hawkesworth, Major Creed, Captain Phipps, Captain Ayres, Captain Smith, Captain Matthews, and four others, of the names of Hope, Palmer, Clark, and Coles. “These new lords of the manor," says the old record of that day," tyrannize and govern the parish as they list. They pull down and demolish the castle, cut down the King's woods, destroy his parks and chase, and divide the lands into farms amongst themselves, and build houses for themselves to dwell in. Hawkesworth seats himself in the gate-house of the castle, and drains the famous pool, consisting of several hundred acres of




ground. Hope and Palmer enclose a fourth part of the commons, called the King's woods, from the inhabitants, and take it as their own free estate. In 1657 these petty lords, attended by some of the inhabitants of the parish, took a survey, and gave in an estimate of all the lands within the liberties of the said manor, and in the following year, on the fourteenth of June, made their perambulation, and went their procession round the bounds of the parish. But, on the twenty-seventh of May, 1660, King Charles the Second came to enjoy his own dominions, and among others the lands and manor of Kenilworth Hereupon these soldiers soon scampered away, when the daughters of Lord Carey, Earl of Monmouth, intercede and prevail to hold that said manor, as their father before them, by lease or leases from the Crown.” But this having nearly expired, he granted the reversion of the whole manor to Laurence, Lord Hyde, second son to Lord Chancellor Clarendon, whom he created Baron Kenilworth and Earl of Rochester. On the death of this nobleman in 1711, he was succeeded in his estates and titles by Henry his only son, who, at the death of Edward, the third Earl of Clarendon, in 1723, succeeded to that title also. But leaving no male issue at his decease in 1753, his grand-daughter, the Lady Charlotte Capel—daughter of William Capel, Earl of Essex, and the Lady Jane Hyde, his wife, then dead—became the representative of the Hyde family, and, in pursuance of the will of the late earl, took the name and arms of Hyde. This lady married the Honorable Thomas Villiers, second son of the Earl of Jersey, who in 1756 was created, by George the Second, Baron Hyde of Hindon, in the county of Wilts. He

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had the further title of Earl of Clarendon conferred upon him by George the Third, and, at his death in 1786, was succeeded by his eldest son the late earl, whose family honours are inherited by his nephew, George William-Frederick

Villiers, Earl of Clarendon, Lord Hyde of Hindon, a Count of Prussia, and sometime envoy and minister plenipotentiary at the Court of Madrid. Such is a brief outline of the descent of Kenilworth Castle, and of the many changes which it has undergone during the lapse of seven centuries.

“Illustrious Ruin! hoary Kenilworth!

Thou hast outlived the customs of thy day;
And, in the imbecility of age,
Art now the spectacle of modern times.
Yet though thy halls are silent, though thy bowers
Re-echo back the traveller's lonely tread,
Again imagination bids thee rise
In all thy dread magnificence and strength;
Thy draw-bridge, foss, and frowning battlements,
Portcullis, barbican, and donjon-tower.”

In addition to the particulars already stated regarding the life and character of that extraordinary individual, Robert, Earl of Leicester, we avail ourselves of the following facts, as related by various writers who were his contemporaries, and founded their judgment on close personal observation. During the life of his father, the Duke of Northumberland, the first appointment which he received at Court, and to which he was duly sworn, was that of one of the six gentlemen in ordinary to Edward the Sixth.

But,” says Hayward in his life of that monarch, “this Robert Dudley was his father's true heir, both of his hate against persons of nobility, and cunning to dissemble the same; and afterwards for lust and cruelty a monster of the Court; and as he was apt to hate, so was he a true executioner of his hatred; such was his, rather by practice than by open dealing, as wanting rather courage than wit; and,” adds the same authority darkly, " after his entertainment into a place of so near service (that of the privy chamber), the king enjoyed his health not long.” (Sir John Hayward's Life of Edward the Sixth.) But although included in the sentence of attainder pronounced against his family, he soon emerged from obscurity, and by the very hand which had signed his father's execution, he was made master of the Queen's horse at the battle of St. Quentin's, an office which was also confirmed to him by Elizabeth, who—to the surprise of many, and the disgust of all who knew his real merits—loaded him with honours. He was installed a Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, made Constable of Windsor Castle for life, and finally recommended as a husband to Mary, Queen of Scots; promising, that on the Queen's assenting thereto, she, Elizabeth, would then, by authority of Parliament, declare her to be her sister or daughter, and heir to the crown of England, in case she herself





should die without issue. Her real intentions, however, are matter of suspicion; and those who were best acquainted with the policy of the Maiden Queen, thought that all this show was merely to try if the proposal would be accepted, and then to marry him herself with less dishonour. (See Appendix.) To give further weight to this recommendation, she advanced him to the dignity of the peerage with the title of Baron Denbigh, and the very day following, being Michaelmas-day, she raised him to the Earldom of Leicester. But the French nation esteeming it dishonourable that such an alliance should be offered to Queen Mary, urged the Scotch authorities to decline it,-promising the nation many advantages in return, and suggesting that Elizabeth had no real intention of ever allowing the match to be carried into effect (Dugdale), a suspicion which appears to have been correctly founded. In compliment to Elizabeth, with whom Dudley was now the chief favourite, Charles the Ninth conferred upon him the Order of St. Michael. No Englishman had ever been admitted into this Order before, except Henry the Eighth, Edward the Sixth, and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, which made the Queen “look upon it as a considerable honour.” The ambassador charged with this complimentary office was M. Rambouillet; and the Queen having selected from the noblemen of her Court the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Leicester—the one distinguished by his high birth, the other by her Majesty's favour—as candidates for the honour, they were invested in the Royal Chapel at Whitehall with great solemnity. But the more that honours were showered upon Leicester, the more was he exposed to the contempt of the old nobility, who felt as if their own degradation at Court was in exact proportion to his advancement. This was not disguised by the Earl of Sussex, who piqued himself much in the antiquity of his house, and could ill brook to see the Queen's favour lavished on a parvenu. said he," is this Earl of Leicester ? He can name but two ancestors, and both were executed for treason !" This language—which was the more galling from its truth-divided the whole Court into factions; and whenever the two earls went abroad, they were attended with a large retinue of followers, armed with “swords and bucklers, with iron pikes pointing out at the bosses," insomuch that the Queen was compelled to interpose her authority, when the breach was seemingly made up.

But Sussex never overcame his aversion to Leicester; and even in his last illness addressed his

“ Who,"

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