HERBERT family, earls of Pembroke (second creation)

WILLIAM HERBERT, 1st earl of Pembroke of the second creation (c. 1501 - 1570)

The eldest son of Sir Richard Herbert (‘Ddu’) of Ewyas, bastard of William Herbert (died 1469), earl of Pembroke of the first creation, his mother being the daughter of Sir Matthew Cradock of Swansea, Receiver of Glamorgan. After a wild youth, in the course of which he fought in France and won the favour of the French king, he entered the service of Sir Charles Somerset, 1st earl of Worcester, to whom most of the Welsh lands of the earldom of Pembroke had been transferred on his marriage to the 1st earl's daughter, and through his patron's influence he obtained preferment at the court of Henry VIII, which was accelerated after the king married Herbert's sister-in-law Catherine Parr (1543), when he was knighted and rapidly accumulated lands and offices in South Wales, including the lordships of Usk, Trelleck, and Caerleon, formerly part of the earldom of March, and one of the king's gifts to Anne Boleyn. He was also given the lands of Wilton monastery, Wiltshire, served in the Boulogne campaign of 1544 and in the defence of the Isle of Wight in 1545, and was given the right to keep thirty liveried retainers. As an executor of Henry VIII's will, he became a governor to the young king Edward VI, chief gentleman of his privy chamber, one of his twelve privy councillors (January 1547), Master of his Horse (1548-52), and a Knight of the Garter (December 1548).

He raised 2,000 Welsh to suppress the western rebellion, but refused to use them to back up the duke of Somerset's protectorate against his rival Warwick (later Northumberland), who had interests on the Welsh border and a strong Welsh element (including a Herbert) in his household. (L. & P. Henry VIII, xv, 355, etc., Addenda, 415). He took part in Somerset's trial (December 1551) and was rewarded with his Wiltshire estates. On 8 April 1550, he was made president of the Council at Ludlow, and in October 1551, baron Herbert of Cardiff and earl of Pembroke. He supported (perhaps initiated) Northumberland's plot for crowning lady Jane Grey (July 1553) but drew back in time, helped to proclaim Mary, and so won her complete confidence and retained his ascendancy, resigning only his presidency at Ludlow. He favoured the Spanish match, led the forces which put down Wyatt's rebellion (1554), went on diplomatic missions to France and the Netherlands (1555), was made governor of Calais (22 November 1556), and successfully commanded the British expedition to France (1557). During his second presidency at Ludlow (1555-8), his duties accordingly had to be discharged by deputy, and in August 1558, he resigned on the ground that disorder was growing in the absence of a strong resident head. He remained in favour under Elizabeth, who made him ‘custos rotulorum’ of Glamorgan (1567) and lord steward of her household (1568).

He further increased his estates by purchasing the Llantarnam monastic lands (many of which he leased to William Morgan, founder of the Morgan family of Llantarnam) and the lordship of Neath (1561); but he lost favour through his support of the proposed marriage of the duke of Norfolk to Mary, Queen of Scots, (1559).

He died on 17 March 1570, and was buried in S. Paul's. Though he was not, as sometimes alleged, illiterate, he wrote with difficulty, knew no European languages, and was more at home in Welsh than in English. In politics and religion he seems to have been a pure opportunist, but his love for Wales is attested in the dedication of Gruffydd Robert's Gramadeg, 1567, and by his patronage of that pioneer of Welsh historiography and printing, Sir John Price of Brecon, and other Welsh writers (Wood, Ath. Ox., i, 216, 418).

HENRY HERBERT, 2nd earl Pembroke (c. 1534 - 1601)

Eldest son of the 1st earl, was educated at Peterhouse, Cambridge. He entered into his father's plans for lady Jane Grey, and was married (25 May 1553) to her sister Catherine, but divorced her (1554) after the plot failed, was made a K.B. (1553) and a member of the suite of king Philip (after whom he named his second son), and served with his father in France (1557). His succession to the earldom was followed by inheritance of the estates of his mother's brother William Parr, marquis of Northampton (1571), leaving him one of the richest peers of the land; he was also given some of his father's Welsh offices (April — May 1570), placed on the commission of the peace for Monmouthshire and Glamorgan (1576), and decorated with the Garter (2 April 1574), and in the latter year he restored Cardiff castle, where he entertained lavishly. He took part in the trials of Norfolk (1572), Mary Queen of Scots (1586), and Arundel (1589). In March 1586, he succeeded Sir Henry Sidney (whose daughter Mary was his third wife) as president at Ludlow, with the vice-admiralty of South Wales. He held regular court, reforming many abuses, instilling into the Welsh gentry a sense of public duty, instituting a great drive against recusants and urging strongly the defence of Milford Haven against Spanish invasion (1595). But ill-health set in from 1590 and became almost chronic from 1595, and his frequent absences led to intrigues within the Council against his authority, a return of many abuses, and a slackening of control over local administration. He died 19 January 1601, and was buried in Salisbury cathedral. He was a patron of industrial enterprise, of the stage, and of English and Welsh literature, whilst his intimate knowledge of Welsh society and love of the language made him, in the words of Thomas Wiliems of Trefriw llygad holl Cymru (the eye of all Wales).

WILLIAM HERBERT, 3rd earl Pembroke (1580 - 1630)

Educated at New College, Oxford (matriculated 8 March 1593). Cecil, who wished him to succeed his father at Ludlow (having, it was alleged, been a paramour of the 3rd earl's wife Mary Sidney), was unable to overcome Elizabeth's prejudice against his morals, but James I, who visited him at Wilton soon after his accession and twice later, named him custos rotulorum of Glamorgan (July 1603), steward and constable of several Radnorshire lordships and castles (1616), and a member of the Council of Ludlow by 1617 (Cal. Wynn Papers, 809). He became a privy councillor on 29 September 1611 and lord chamberlain on 28 December 1615. He lived mainly in London and at Wilton, using his vast fortune in the patronage of Shakespeare and his circle (while dabbling in verse himself) and in the promotion of colonial and industrial ventures; but he also developed his South Wales estates (witness the ‘waterworks’ at Trelleck, Monmouth) and cultivated the leaders of Welsh society (Cal. Wynn Papers, 598; Clarendon, Hist., i, 175; Hist. MSS. Com., Cecil, xvi, 190-1), thus wielding considerable electoral influence (especially in the shires and boroughs of Monmouth, Glamorgan, Radnor, and Montgomery) — whereby he was able to organize a Welsh group of supporters for his Protestant parliamentary, and anti- Buckingham policy at Westminster, with Sir William Herbert (later 1st baron Powys) as his recognized mouthpiece in the Commons. Charles I put him on the Committee on Foreign Affairs (9 April 1625) and the Council of War (3 May 1626) and made him vice-admiral of South Wales (1625) and lord steward (3 August 1626), but generally ignored his statesmanlike counsels, which Pembroke lacked strength of will to pursue. His affability made him ‘the most universally belov'd and esteem'd of any man of that age’ (Clarendon); Rhys Prichard called him colofn y deyrnas (the pillar of the realm). He died of apoplexy on 10 April 1630, ‘after a full and chearful Supper.’

PHILIP HERBERT, 4th earl Pembroke (1584 - 1650)

The younger brother of the 3rd earl, educated with him at New College and sharing his literary tastes (witness the joint dedication of the Shakespeare folio, 1623) and his interest in colonial and industrial enterprise, including the glass monopoly (with works at Milford Haven and in the North) in which he became partner in 1615 but sold out his share soon afterwards to Sir Robert Mansel. His passion for field sports, pageantry, and building (which he carried on extensively at Wilton), together with his handsome person, won him the favour of James I, which he retained ‘in the Second place’ (as Clarendon puts it) after he had been supplanted as prime favourite by Carr. He was promptly admitted to the Privy Chamber (May 1603) and the Order of the Bath (28 July), given extensive grants of land (including the lordship of Denbigh) in 1604 (Cecil, xvi, 439), and next year made earl of Montgomery (4 May) and granted the castle of Montgomery, claimed (in virtue of a century's occupancy by his family) by Edward, lord Herbert of Cherbury, to whose wife (daughter of Sir William Herbert of S. Julians, died 1593) Philip had been an unsuccessful suitor — whence a feud not healed till lord Herbert bought the castle back in 1617. In the same year (16 June 1605) he was appointed chancellor and chamberlain of Anglesey, Caernarfonshire, and Merioneth, and by 1617 was on the Council of Wales. Until his elevation to the peerage he sat for Glamorgan in James's first parliament. He remained in favour under Charles I, who visited him annually at Wilton, gave him his brother's offices of lord chamberlain (3 August 1626) and vice-admiral of South Wales (23 April 1631), and restored to him in 1633 the family stewardships in Radnorshire which had been temporarily alienated to the 1st lord Powis (Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, 1629-31, 530; 1631-3, 94), and decorated him with the Garter (23 April 1638); but his dealings with the Scots in the Bishops’ Wars (on which he accompanied the king) and his conduct in the Long Parliament lost him his chamberlainship (17 April 1641), after which he became more deeply committed to the opposition than he ever meant, failing after repeated efforts to bring about a negotiated settlement during the war and ending up on the first Commonwealth Council of State (14 February 1649). As chancellor of Oxford University (4 August 1647) he presided over the Puritan ‘purge’ there but intervened to prevent the deprivation at Christ Church of Philip Henry. Parliament named him lord lieutenant of Monmouthshire, Glamorgan, and Brecknock (29 July 1642) and of Cardigan (4 December 1646), but he showed less energy there than he had done as lord lieutenant of Kent (1642), where he also had lands. Indeed, although in his youth he was known as ‘the Welsh lord’ and twitted with the need for an interpreter (Cecil. xvi 439), and despite his Welsh chaplains, tutors and servants — including George Herbert, Griffith Williams (later bishop of Ossory), and Evan Lloyd Jeffrey of Palé (herald, bard, and genealogist) — his direct contacts with Wales were much slighter than those of his predecessors. The Civil War revealed that the Pembroke influence in South Wales could no longer compete with that of Catholic and Royalist Raglan. He died 23 January 1650. His younger son WILLIAM sat for Monmouthshire in the Long Parliament and fought for the king.

After him the Welsh connection grew more tenuous still. His son

PHILIP HERBERT, 5th earl Pembroke (1619 - 1669)

sat as lord Herbert for Glamorgan in the Long Parliament, following his father's politics and becoming parliamentary nominee for the lord lieutenancies of Monmouthshire, Glamorgan and Brecknock (where he was soon superseded by his father), and presiding over the Commonwealth Council of State in 1652. After the Restoration he was custos rotulorum for Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire and a member of the Committee for Trade and Navigation, and as hereditary Visitor of Jesus College, Oxford, was called on (but declined) to pronounce on the disputed Fellowship of Michael Roberts (died 1679) (see Cal. Wynn Papers, 2660, wrongly indexed as 7th earl). His heir was M.P. for Glamorgan from 1661-9 and his successors continued to hold Crown offices in South Wales till 1733, but their real interests were in Wiltshire, and they began to dispose of their South Wales lands soon after the Restoration. What was left passed to Thomas, 1st viscount Windsor (second son of the 1st earl of Plymouth) on his marriage (1703) with Charlotte, daughter of the 7th earl (Philip Herbert, 1653 - 1680, a homicidal dipsomaniac) and widow of John, 2nd baron Jeffreys. Windsor sold the lordships of Caerleon, Usk and Trelleck (1722); the Glamorgan lands were conveyed (1766) through his granddaughter Charlotte Jane to her husband John Stuart (heir of George III's prime minister, the earl of Bute), who was created baron Cardiff of Cardiff castle (20 May 1776), succeeded to the earldom in 1792 and became earl of Windsor and marquis of Bute in 1796; hence the territorial, political and industrial influence in the area of succeeding marquises (see the article Bute). But the immediate successors to the primacy in Glamorgan of the earls of Pembroke were the earls of Plymouth, elder branch of the Windsor family: the 4th earl was lord lieutenant in 1754 and was succeeded therein by the 5th earl, who was also colonel of the local militia and vice-president of the London Welsh Charity; and when in 1905 the earldom of Plymouth was revived, after sixty-two years’ dormancy, in favour of Robert George, 14th baron Windsor, he became also viscount Windsor of St. Fagans and lord lieutenant of Glamorgan.

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Published date: 1959

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