Carleill, Christopher (DNB00)

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CARLEILL, CHRISTOPHER (1551?–1593), military and naval commander, born about 1551, was son of Alexander Carleill, citizen and vintner of London, by his wife Anne, daughter of Sir George Barne, knight, lord mayor of London. He is stated, but without probability, to have been a native of Cornwall (Holland, Hereωlogia Anglica, 94). He was educated in the university of Cambridge (Cooper, Athenæ Cantab. ii. 161). In 1572 he went to Flushing, and was present at the siege of Middelburgh. Boisot, the Dutch admiral, held him in such esteem that no order of the senate or the council were carried into execution until he had been consulted. Afterwards he repaired with one ship and a vessel of smaller size to La Rochelle, to serve under the Prince of Condé, who was about to furnish supplies to the town of Brouage, then besieged by Mayenne. Condé had intended to attack the royal fleet in person, but on the arrival of Carleill the command was given to him. Having discharged this duty he went to serve at Steenwick in Overyssel, than beleaguered by the Spaniards. In consequence of his conduct there he was placed at the head of the English troops at the fortress of Zwarte Sluis. When leading troops thence to the army he was surprised by a body of the enemy consisting of two thousand foot and six hundred horse. He vigorously repulsed them, and slew or took eight hundred. As inconvenience arose from the greet number of foreigners in the camp of the Prince of Orange the sole command was given to Carleill. After the siege of Steenwick was raised he went to Antwerp, and he was on the point of returning to England, when he was sent for by the prince and the confederate states again to assume the sole command of the camp until Sir John Norris should arrive to share the command with him. Altogether he served the Prince of Orange for five years without receiving pay.

He conveyed the English merchants into Russia in 1582, when the king of Denmark was at war with that country. The Danish fleet met them, but, observing his squadron of eleven ships, did not venture upon an engagement. The Russian envoy got on board at the port of St. Nicholas, and was conveyed to England. By the interest of his father-in-law, Sir Francis Walsingham, Carleill received 1,000l. by subscription at Bristol for an attempt to discover ‘the coast of America lying to the south-west of Cape Breton,’ and proposed to the Russian merchants to raise 3,000l. more in London, which sum of 4,000l. he deemed sufficient to settle one hundred men in their intended plantation. The project appears to have been unsuccessful, but Carleill wrote ‘a brief and summary discourse’ on its advantages (Hakluyt). A letter from the Earl of Shrewsbury to Thomas Bawdewyn, 20 May 1583, alludes to Carleill's scheme (Lodge, Illustrations of British History, ed. 1838, ii. 241–3).

In 1584 Sir John Perrot, lord-lieutenant of Ireland, appointed Carleill commander of the garrison of Coleraine and the district of Route. Being recalled to England in 1585 in consequence of disputes with Perrot, he was, through the influence of Walsingham, made lieutenant-general of the land forces, consisting of above 2,300 troops, in the expedition to St. Domingo, Sir Francis Drake being at the head of the fleet, consisting of twenty-one sail. Carleill was captain of the Tiger. In this expedition the cities of St. Domingo, St. Iago, Carthaginia, and St. Augustine were taken. The success of this campaign was in great measure owing to the lieutenant-general's good conduct (Carlisle, Collections for a History of the Family of Carlisle, p. 21; Camden, Annales, ed. 1625–9, book iv. p. 92).

On 26 July 1588 he was appointed constable of Carrickfergus, co. Antrim (Lascelles, Liber Hiberniæ, ii. 120). In 1588 he was governor of Ulster. On 10 June 1590 he wrote to Lord Burghley, requesting a commission from the queen to seize for lawful prize any goods which might be found in England belonging to Spanish subjects. In urging his claims upon her majesty he says: ‘I have bene longe tyme a fruiteles suitor, even well nighe the moste part of fower yeares tyme, as also that I have spente my patrimonye and all other meanes in the service of my countreye, which hath not been less than five thousande pounds, whereof I doe owe at this presente the beste parte of 3,000l. There is no man canne challenge me that I have spente any part of all this expense in riotte, game, or other excessive, or inordinate manner.’

Carleill died in London on 11 Nov. 1593, ‘and, as is supposed, for grief of his frends death. He was quicke witted, and affable, valiant and fortunate in warre, well read in the mathematikes, and of good experience in navigation, whereuppon some have registred him for a navigator, but the truth is his most inclination, and profession, was chiefely for lande service, he utterly abhorred pyracy’ (Stowe, Annales, ed. Howes, p. 805). Sir John Perrot entertained a different opinion of Carleill's views of piracy (Cal. State Papers, Irish, 1574–85, p. 568). He married Mary, daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham, and sister of Sir Philip Sidney's wife. His widow was alive in 1609.

There is a fine portrait of him in Holland's ‘Heroωlogia,’ and there is also a small portrait of him engraved by Robert Boissard, which belongs to a curious set of English admirals by the same engraver (Granger, Biog. Hist. of England, ed. 1824, i. 288).

He is the author of: 1. ‘A Brief Summary Discourse upon a Voyage intending to the uttermost parts of America.’ Written in 1583 and printed in Hakluyt's ‘Voyages,’ iii. 182. 2. ‘Christopher Carleill's suit to Lord Burghley for a commission to seize Spanish goods,’ 1590, Lansd. MS. 64, art. 54. 3. ‘A Discourse on the Discovery of the hithermost parts of America, written by Capt. Carleill to the Citizens of London,’ Lansd. MS. 100, art. 14. 4. ‘Account of advantages to the realm from a sudden seizure of books, letters, papers, &c. of the Low Country people residing and inhabiting under the obedience of the king of Spain, with answers to objections,’ Lansd. MS. 113, art. 7. Carleill always wrote his name so. Others spell it Carlile, Carlisle, Carliell, and in other ways.

[Authorities cited above; also Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornubiensis, i. 58, iii. 1112; Biog. Brit. 2465, note C; Cal. State Papers, Domestic and Irish, and Carew, 1584–90; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. 154; notes supplied by Prof. J. K. Laughton.]

T. C.