Booth, Henry (1652-1694) (DNB00)
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Booth, Henry (1652-1694)
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BOOTH, HENRY (1652–1694), second Baron Delamere and first Earl of Warrington, lord of the treasury under William III, was the second son of George, Lord Delemere [q. v.] by his second wife, Elizabeth Grey, eldest daughter of Henry, earl of Stamford, and was born on 13 Jan. 1651-2. In 1673 he succeeded his father as custos rotulorum of the county of Chester. Like his father, he was warmly attached to the principles of civil liberty, and, as knight of the shire for Cheshire, strenuously opposed the vacillating and intermittent attempts of Charles II to strengtlien the royal prerogative. He strongly enounced the fatal expedient of substituting government by favourites for the support of an honest and loyal parliament, asserting that for monarchs to dispense with parliaments was ‘to lay aside the staff that supports them to lean upon a broken reed.' He proposed the introduction of a bill disqualifying those members of the ‘pension parliament’ who had received bribes from the court for serving in parliament in future or for holding under the government any office civil or military, and compelling those who had received money for secret service to the crown to refund it. As was to he expected from the decided character of his rdligfioiis beliefs and his extreme protestant sentiments, he was also especially active in promoting the Exclusion Bill. While thus zealously defending what he regarded as the constitutional and religious liberties of England, he denounced with great boldness the corruption and tyranny which had crept into the administsration of justice. He protested against the prerogative assumed by the privy council of imprisoning suspected persons without trial, and proposed that inquiry should he made into the corruption of the judges, who he asserted had ‘perverted the law to the degree, turning the law upside down that arbitrary power may come in upon their shoulders.'
This uncompromising course aroused so much displeasure at he was removed from the commission of the peace, and from the office of custos rotularum of Cheshire. In 1683 he was committed to the Tower on suspicion of being concerned in the Rye House plot, but on 28 Nov. he was admitted to bail (Proceedings upon the Bayling of the Earl of Macclesfeld, &c., 1683). On the death of his father in 1684, he succeeded him as Lord Delamere. Shortly after the accession of James II (1685) he was again committed to the Tower, and although for a short time admitted to haul, he was, on 26 July 1685, committed a third time. On the assembling of parliament in November he stated his case in a petition to the House of Lords, who, having sent a deputation to wait upon the king to know why Lord Delamere was absent from his plnce, were answered that directions had already been given for ‘his trial for high treason. 'The special charge against him was that at the time of Monmouth's rebellion he had gone secretly to Cheshire with the view of inciting a rising in the north of England. That Delamere fully sympathised with the designs of Monmouth is placed beyond doubt by the arguments he used in supporting, after the Revolution, a motion for the removal of the sentence of attainder; but his journey to Cheshire he satisfactorily explained by a wish to visit a favourite child who was dangerously ill, and the desire, at that time of suspicion and jealousy, to keep out of the way. As, moreover, Thomas Saxon, the only witness who would positively swear to the correspondence of Delamere and Monmouth, so hopelessly contradicted himself that he was afterwards convicted of perjury, there was absolutely no case against him, and the committee of the lords, contrary to the advice of Jeffreys, who acted as lord high steward, gave a imanimous verdict of acquittal. The verdict was, according to Burnet (Own Time, i. 668), received with 'great joy by the whole town, which was now turned to be as much against the court as it had been of late years for it.' The joy did not arise from any special interest in Delamere personally, but from intense satisfaction that the reign of terror had shown such palpable signs of waning influence. The acquittal of Delamere marks in fact the beginning of successful resistance to the arbitrary authority of the court, and the rise of that new tide of political sentiment which was to prove fatal to the Stuart dynasty.
After the verdict Lord Delamere returned to Dunham Massey, taking little or no part in political affairs until the landing of the Prince of Orange, when he called together his tenants, and informing them that they had to choose whether they would be slaves and papists or protestants and freemen,' exhorted every one who had a good horse either to take the field or provide a substitute. Appearing at Manchester with fifty men armed and mounted, he speedily gathered a formidable force with which he marched south to join the prince. The statement of Sir John Dalrymple (Memoirs, 2nd ed. vol. ii. Appendix, 339) that 'Lord Delamere was not sufficiently expeditious in joining the Prince of Orange,' is therefore as much at variance with lact as are the premises of which it is a corollary that 'this was never forgiven by King William.' In December 168i8 Delamere was deputed, along with the Marquis of Halifax and the Earl of Shrewsbury, to intimate to King James the desirability of his removing from the palace at Whitehall to some place outside tne metropolis. The ungrateful task he discharged with such delicate consideration for the feelings of the king, that James afterwards stated that he had ' treated him with much more regard than the other two lords to whom he had been kind, and from whom he might better have expected it.' On 31 Jan. 1688-9, Lord Delamere supported in strong terms the motion in the House of Lords for declaring the throne vacant, assorting that ' if King James came again, he was resolved to fight against him, and would die single, with his sword in his hand, rather than pay him any obedience ' (Clarendon, Diary, ii. 257). The decided character of his political sentiments, coupled with the special service he had rendered the cause of the Prince of Orange in the north of England, marked him out for important promotion under the new dynasty. On 13 Feb. 1688-9 he was chosen a privy councillor, and on 9 April following he received the second place at the board of the treasury with the office of chancellor of the exchequer, Mordaunt, who was created Earl of Monmouth, receiving the first place. On the 12th of the same month he was made lord-lieutenant of the city and county of Chester, and on 19 July was reappointed to his old office of custos rotulorum of the county. These appointments are a sufficient indication that King William had not been mortally offended by anything in his conduct at the Revolution. His retirement from the treasury board on 17 April 1690 can moreover be explained with unmistakable clearness on other grounds. The board as originally constituted comprehended elements utterly antagonistic. In their political convictions the Earl of Monmouth and Delamere were in a certain sense at one, but even here it has to be remembered that the opinions of Monmouth were modified by his fickle and pleasure-loving temperament, while the puritanic traditions of Delamere and the precise and logical character of his mind unfitted him for recognising the importance of compromise in practical politics. Apart from politics the two statesmen had nothing in common, and, according to Burnet, ' though most violent whigs they became great enemies ' (Own Time, ii. 6). While their influence was weakened by their mutual antipathy, the real power passed into the hands of Godolphin, who, though his sympathies were in reality Jacobite, and though he occupied only the third place at the board, secured almost from the beginning, by his pre-eminent administrative talents and his skill in intrigue, the chief confidence of the king. Wliile his colleagues, according to Burnet, were infusing jealousies of the king into the nation, he took care to interpret their conduct so as to infuse jealousies of them into the king. The task of Godolphin, so far as Delamere was concerned, was not a difficult one, for Delamere made no secret of his strong desire for more stringent restrictions of the royal prerogative, and his attitude towards the Bill of Rights, and the bill for the recognition of William and Mary, was such as to make a breach between him and the court inevitable. But though compelled to retire from the treasury, the greatness of his past services was not forgotten. He was created Earl of Warrington, and in view of the expenses incurred by him at the Revolution he received a pension of 2,000l. and ‘a grant of all lands discovered in 8vo or six counties belonging to the Jesuits’ (Luttrell, Relation of State Affairs, ii. 22). In October 1691 he was chosen mayor of Chester. In his place in the House of Lords he continued to manifest his anxiety for the principles which he believed to have been at stake at the Revolution, and in January 1692-3 he signed a petition against the rejection of the Place Bill. He died in London on 3 Jan. 1693-4, and was interred in the fiunily vault in Bowden church, where, in the south side of the Dunham chancel, there is a monument to his memory. By his marriage to Mary, sole dangyhter and heiress of Sir James Langham of Cottesbrooke, he had four sons and two daughters.
In a contemporary poem, entitled ‘The King of Hearts,' Warrington is styled a ‘restless malcontent even when preferred,' and there are undouhted evidences throughout his career of narrowness of temper, and an inability to recognise in any circumstances the value of expediency. Burnet mentions, with seeming acceptance, a rumour that while in office ‘he sold everything that was in his power’ (Own Time, ii. 5); hut his son George, second earl of Warrington [q. v.], in the ‘Letter’ in defence of his father, calls this scanidalum magnatum, and asserts that it will not bear the least examination. No one was more outspoken than Warrington in his denunciations of corruption. The minor charge of greed brought against him by Lord Macaulay had its origin in an insufficient knowledge of the facts. Macaulay, after mentioning that on resigning office Warrington receivwl a pension of 2,000l. a year, adds that notwithstanding this ‘to the end of his life he continued to complain bitterly of the ingratitude with which he and his party had been treated.’ In support of this rather sweeping assertion he appends a note to the effect that ‘it appears from the Treasury Letter Book of 1690 that Delamere confirmed to dun the government for money after his retirement’ (chap. xv.) This undoubtedly Delamere did, but only for money that was his due, not for additional favours; for it would appear from the list of King Wil1iam’s debts, drawn up at the request of Queen Anne, that Warrington never received more of his pension than the first half-yearly installment. Whatever faults of temper may be chargeable against him, there is therefore no tangible evidence to support the accusation of sordid selfishness, and indeed he seems to have possessed a sincere and noble patriotism very rare among the leading statesmen of those troubled times. His religious views were strongly tinged with puritanism, and so far as regards the observance of the decencies of private life and attention to the outward duties of religion, he left, in the words of Danton (Life and Errors, ed. 1818, i. 344), ‘a correct and almost perfect example.’
The ‘Works of Henry, late Lord Delamere,’ consisting of several of his principal speeches in parliament, political pamphlets, advice to his children, prayers used by him in his family, &c., appeared in 1694, and in the same year a volume of his speeches delivered on various occasions at Chester. Some of his speeches were published separately. He is also the author of ‘The late Lord Russell’s Case,’ 1689, and the reputed author of a ‘Dialogue between a Lord-Lieutenant and one of his Disputies,' published anonymously in 1690.
[Trial of Henry Booth, Earl of Warrington (1686); Collins’s Peerage (ed. 1735), vol. ii. pt. ii. pp. 483-7; Biog. Brit. (Kippis), ii. 408-13; Burnet’s Hist. of his own Time; Luttrell`s Relation of State Affairs; Lord Clarendon’s Diary; Granger's Biog. Hist. 2nd ed. iv. 274-5; Walpoles Royal and Noble Authors (Park), iii. 318-24; Omerod's Cheshire; Macaulay’s History of England.]