Basset, Francis (d.1645) (DNB00)

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BASSET, Sir FRANCIS (d. 1645) sheriff and vice-admiral of Cornwall, was recorder of St. Ives, and presented to that borough, in 1640, a loving-cup, bearing the following inscription:—

    If any discord twixt my friends arise
    Within the borough of belov'd St. Ives,
    It is desirèd this my cup of love
    To euerie one a peace-maker may prove.
    Then am I blest to have given a legacie,
    So like my harte, unto posteritie.

His portrait, a fine example of Vandyck, is preserved at Tehidy. He appears to have been a jovial sportsman, much addicted to hawking and cock-fighting. He married in 1620 Ann, daughter of Sir Jonathan Trelawny of Trelawne, and, when the stress of the civil war in 1643 passed into Cornwall, was busily engaged in the western part of Cornwall in raising money and drilling forces for the king. Letters of his to his wife ‘at her Tehidy’ are preserved, recording the royalist victories of Stamford Hill near Stratton, and of Braddock Down near Lostwithiel, at the latter of which (or at any rate very shortly after the fight) he, with most of the Cornish gentry, was present, and was knighted on the field. He records in another letter to his wife that after the battle ‘the king, in the hearing of thousands, as soon as he saw me in the morning, cryed to mee “Deare Mr. Sheriffe, I leave Cornwall to you safe and sound”’ (Polwhele, Traditions and Recollections, i. 17–20). He was sheriff of the county, 1642–4, and there is a complaint against him in the Star Chamber, 18 May 1625 (Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 12496). Sir Francis died 19 Sept. 1645. The full vengeance of Cromwell fell upon his son John, though the latter had never taken up arms; and, compelled to compound for his estates, he had to sell St. Michael's Mount in 1660 to a member of the St. Aubyn family, in whose possession it has ever since remained. Sir Francis's second son, Francis, was a puritan, residing at Taunton, and in 1661 was accused of a conspiracy against Charles II, of which charge, however, he was honourably acquitted on a letter which he was alleged to have written being proved a forgery (cf. Stanford, Life of Joseph Alleine (1861), p. 194).

[The authorities cited above.]

W. H. T.