Gerard, Charles (d.1694) (DNB00)
|←Gerard, Alexander (1792-1839)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 21
Gerard, Charles (d.1694)
|Gerard, Charles (1659?-1701)→|
GERARD, CHARLES, first Baron Gerard of Brandon in Suffolk, and Earl of Macclesfield (d. 1694), was the eldest son of Sir Charles Gerard, by Penelope, sister and heiress of Sir Edward Fitton of Gawsworth, Cheshire, and grandson of Ratcliffe, second son of Sir Gilbert Gerard [q. v.], master of the rolls in the reign of Elizabeth. An Englishman, ‘Anglus Lancastrensis,’ of his name entered Leyden University 23 March 1633. He was also educated in France under John Goffe of Magdalen College, Oxford, brother of Stephen Goffe [q. v.] (Peacock, Leyden Students, p. 40; Athenæ Oxon., ed. Bliss, iii. 525; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1633–4, p. 280). Dugdale states that he was ‘trained in the discipline of war from his youth in the United Provinces,’ and that on the outbreak of the civil war in England he joined the king at Shrewsbury, and raised a troop of horse at his own charges (Baronage, ii. 41). At Edgehill, however, he commanded a brigade of infantry, the steadiness of which largely contributed to avert absolute defeat. In this battle, as also in the operations before Lichfield in April 1643, he was wounded. He was present at the siege of Bristol (July 1643), and arranged the very rigorous terms of the capitulation. He fought with distinction in the first battle of Newbury (20 Sept. 1643), and took part in the relief of Newark (March 1644), when he was again wounded, thrown from his horse, and taken prisoner, but released on parole shortly before the besiegers capitulated (Clarke, Life of James II, i. 17; Clarendon, Rebellion, iii. 292, iv. 35, 145, 614; Warburton, Memoirs of Prince Rupert, ii. 237, 259; Baker, Chron. pp. 551–3; Mercur. Aulic. 20 Sept. 1643, 23 March 1643–4). Shortly afterwards he was appointed to succeed the Earl of Carbery in the general command in South Wales, then strongly held by the parliament, and by 19 May 1644 had succeeded in collecting a force of two thousand five hundred horse and foot with which to begin operations. He marched by Chepstow to Cardiff, which surrendered to him, and took Kidwelly. By 12 June he had already penetrated into Carmarthenshire, and before the 18th he was in possession of Carmarthen. He rapidly reduced Cardigan, Newcastle Emlyn, Laugharne, and Roch Castles, and seems to have experienced no check until he was already threatening Pembroke about the middle of July, when the garrison of that place by a sortie routed a portion of his force and obtained supplies. On 22 Aug. he took Haverfordwest, and before the end of the month had invested Pembroke and was threatening Tenby. His forces are said to have been largely composed of Irish levies, of whose barbarous atrocities loud complaint is made in the ‘Kingdom's Intelligencer,’ 15–23 Oct. 1644. In September he received orders to join Rupert at Bristol, and in October he began his retreat, marching by Usk and Abergavenny, and thus evading General Massey he reached Bristol towards the end of the month. November he spent in Oxford or the neighbourhood, whence in December he transferred his headquarters to Worcester, where he remained until 11 March 1644–5. Hence he marched to Cheshire to co-operate with Rupert, Maurice, and Langdale against General Brereton. Their united forces succeeded in relieving Beeston Castle on 17 March (Mercur. Aulic. 19 May and 31 Aug. 1644; Perfect Occurr. 21 July 1644; Diary or Exact Journal, 7 Nov. 1644; Manchester's Quarrel with Cromwell, Camd. Soc. p. 17; Weekly Account, 31 Oct. and 3 Dec. 1644; Addit. MS. 18981, f. 326; Warburton, Memoirs of Prince Rupert, i. 500; Ormerod, Cheshire, ed. Helsby, ii. 275). Gerard was then ordered back to South Wales, where the parliamentary general, Laugharne, had gained some successes. He marched through Wales from Chester in a south-westerly direction, carrying all before him and ravaging the country as he went. After a brush with Sir John Price at Llanidloes, he fell in with Laugharne before Newcastle Emlyn on 16 May, and completely defeated him. Haverfordwest and Cardigan Castle, which had been recovered by the roundheads, were evacuated on his approach. Picton Castle offered a stout resistance, but was carried by assault. Carew Castle also fell into his hands. Pembroke and Tenby, closely invested, alone held out. The ascendency of the royalists being thus re-established in South Wales, Gerard received orders to move eastward again, and was marching on Hereford at the head of five thousand horse and foot when the battle of Naseby was fought (14 June 1645). After the battle the king and Rupert, with the fragments of their army, fell back upon Hereford in the hope of effecting a junction with Gerard, who, however, seems to have been unexpectedly delayed; and Rupert, pushing on to Bristol, sent orders that part of Gerard's forces should join him there, while the king required a portion of the cavalry to attend his person. From Hereford Charles retreated to Abergavenny and thence to Cardiff, with the hope of raising a fresh army in Wales, but found the Welsh much disaffected, owing (according to Clarendon) to the irritation engendered by the extraordinary rigour with which Gerard had treated them; so that when news came that Hereford had been invested by the Scottish army and must fall unless relieved within a month, Charles could only induce the Welsh to move by superseding Gerard, promising at the same time to make him a baron. Gerard chose the title of Baron Brandon, for no better reason, says Clarendon, than ‘that there was once an eminent person called Charles Brandon who was afterwards made a duke’ (Warburton, Memoirs of Prince Rupert, iii. 120; Clarendon, Rebellion, v. 186, 221–2, 227–9; see art. Brandon, Charles, Duke of Suffolk, d. 1545). Two dates have been assigned to the patent creating him Baron Gerard of Brandon, viz. 8 Oct. and 28 Nov. 1645 (Dugdale, Baronage, ii. 41; Nicolas, Historic Peerage, ed. Courthope; Doyle gives 8 Nov.)
Gerard had become lieutenant-general of all the king's horse, and assumed the command of his body-guard. On the night of 4 Aug. 1645 he escorted Charles from Cardiff to Brecknock, and thence to Ludlow, and throughout his progress to Oxford (28 Aug.). Thence they returned to Hereford (4 Sept.), the Scots raising the siege on their approach. At Hereford on 14 Sept. Charles heard of the fall of Bristol, and determined if possible to join Montrose in the north. Escorted by Gerard he made for Chester, and succeeded in entering the city, having first detached Gerard to the assistance of Sir Marmaduke Langdale, who was endeavouring to muster the royalists in force outside the city, with the view of raising the siege. After much apparently purposeless marching and counter-marching the royalists risked an engagement with the besiegers on Rowton Heath (23 Sept. 1645), but were totally defeated by General Pointz. Gerard was carried off the field desperately wounded. The king then evacuated Chester and retired to Newark, where he arrived with Gerard on 4 Oct., and fixed his headquarters for the winter. Gerard was dismissed the king's service before the end of the month for taking part with Rupert and some other cavaliers in a disorderly protest against the supersession of Sir Richard Willis, the governor of the place (‘Iter Carolinum,’ in Somers Tracts; Symonds, Diary, Camd. Soc.; Parliament's Post, 23–30 Sept. 1645; Perfect Diurnal, 29 Sept.–6 Oct. 1645; King's Pamphlets, small 4to, vol. ccxxvii. Nos. 18, 21, 24–6; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. 454 a, 9th Rep. App. 435–6; Carte, Ormonde Papers, i. 338; Baker, Chron. 364; Warburton, Memoirs of Prince Rupert, iii. 206–7). Gerard now attached himself closely to Rupert's party, which consisted of about four hundred officers. They established themselves at Worton House, some fourteen miles from Newark, and made overtures to the parliament with the view of obtaining passes out of the country. Parliament, however, required that they should take an oath never again to bear arms against it. The cavaliers therefore temporised, being really anxious for a reconciliation with the king on honourable terms. They were ordered to the neighbourhood of Worcester by parliament, and there remained during the winter, but early in the following year returned to their allegiance and the king at Oxford. There Gerard raised another troop of horse, with which he scoured the adjoining country, penetrating on one occasion as far as the neighbourhood of Derby, where he was routed in a skirmish. At one time he seems to have been in command of Wallingford, but when the lines of investment began to be drawn more closely round Oxford he withdrew within the city walls, where he seems to have remained until the surrender of the place (24 June 1646). He probably left England with Rupert, as we find him at the Hague on 27 Dec. 1646 (True Informer, 31 Oct. 1645; Mercur. Britann. 27 Oct.–3 Nov. 1645; Perfect Passages, 28 Oct. 1645, 21 Feb. 1645–6; Contin. of Special Passages, 31 Oct. 1645; Perfect Diurnal, 19 Nov. 1645, 10 Feb. 1645–6; Mod. Intell. 21 Nov. and 13 Dec. 1645, 24 Jan. 1645–6, 27 Dec. 1646; Wood, Annals of Oxford, ed. Gutch, ii. 477; Perfect Occurr. 2 May 1646). From this time until the Restoration his movements are very hard to trace. He was at St. Germain-en-Laye in September 1647 with Rupert, Digby, and other cavaliers. He was appointed vice-admiral of the fleet in November 1648, and on 8 Dec. passed through Rotterdam on his way to Helvoetsluys to enter on his new duties. In April 1649 he was at the Hague as gentleman of the bedchamber to the king. He apparently belonged to the ‘queen's faction,’ which was understood to favour the policy of coming to an understanding with the commissioners from the Scottish parliament, who were then at the Hague, but were denied an audience by Charles. In October of the same year he was with Charles in Jersey when the celebrated declaration addressed to the English people was published, and he was a member, and probably an influential member, of the council which advised the king to treat with the Scottish parliament as a ‘committee of estates.’ He returned with the king to the Hague, where this policy was put in execution. On 18 March 1649–50 Hyde writes from Madrid to Secretary Nicholas praising Gerard somewhat faintly as a ‘gallant young man’ who ‘always wants a friend by him;’ to which Nicholas replies on 4 May that Gerard is ‘the gallantest, honestest person now about the king, and the most constant to honourable principles.’ In the following November (1650) Nicholas writes to Gerard that he has the commission appointing him general of Kent, but that the fact must be kept secret ‘because the king in his late declaration promised the Scots to grant none.’ In March 1650–1 Gerard left the Hague for Breda in attendance on the Duke of York, who was anxious to avoid certain ‘things called ambassadors,’ as Nicholas scornfully terms the Scottish envoys. In the following November he was in Paris, where he seems to have remained for at least a year (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. App. 275, 547, 5th Rep. App. 173; Carte, Ormonde Papers, i. 93, 155, 338, 426; Whitelocke, Mem. 349; Baillie, Letters, Bannatyne Club, iii. 8; Harris, Life of Charles II, p. 74; Clarendon State Papers, iii. 13; Nicholas Papers, Camden Soc., 171, 199, 279; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1651–2, p. 3; Egerton MSS. 2534 ff. 117, 127, 2535 f. 483). On 13 May 1652 he was appointed to the command of the corps of life guards then being raised. In 1653 he went to Utrecht, where Dr. Robert Creighton [q. v.] ‘wrought a miracle’ upon him. He remained there through part of 1654, was present at the siege of Arras, serving under Turenne as a volunteer in August of that year (Gualdo Priorato, Hist. del Ministerio del Cardinale Mazarino, ed. 1669, iii. 319), and then returned to Paris, where he divided his energies between quarrelling with Hyde, intriguing on behalf of Henrietta Maria, and instigating his cousin, John Gerard, to assassinate the Protector. The plot, to which the king appears to have been privy, was discovered, and John Gerard was beheaded in the Tower. Gerard had presented his cousin to the king early in 1654 [see under Gerard, John, 1632–1654]. A letter from one F. Coniers to the king, dated London, 11 Jan. 1655, preserved in ‘Thurloe State Papers’ (i. 696), accuses Gerard of having treated with Thurloe for the poisoning of Cromwell. This the writer professes to have discovered by glancing over some papers incautiously exposed in Thurloe's chambers. The story is obviously a mere invention. In July 1655 Gerard was at Cologne, closely watched by Thurloe's spies. As Hyde wrote to Nicholas from Paris, 24 April 1654, Gerard was never without projects (Cal. Clarendon Papers, ii. 341). From Cologne he went to Antwerp ‘to attempt the new modelling of the plot,’ returning to Paris in September. There he appears to have resided until May 1656, busily employed in collecting intelligence. In this work he seems to have been much aided by the postal authorities, who, according to one of Thurloe's correspondents, allowed him to intercept whatever letters he pleased. In July he was at Cologne awaiting instructions. In February 1657 he was at the Hague, corresponding under the name of Thomas Enwood with one Dermot, a merchant at the sign of the Drum, Drury Lane. The only fragment of this correspondence which remains (Thurloe State Papers, vi. 26) is unintelligible, being couched in mercantile phraseology, which gives no clue to its real meaning. Thence he went to Brussels, where in April he received instructions to raise a troop of horse guards at once and a promise of an allowance of four hundred guilders a day for his family. From Brussels he returned to Paris in March 1657–8. He was almost immediately despatched to Amsterdam, apparently for the purpose of chartering ships, and he spent the rest of that year and the first six months of the next partly in the Low Countries and partly at Boulogne, returning to Paris between August and September 1659. There he appears to have spent the autumn and part of the winter, joining Secretary Nicholas at Brussels in the following January. Thence in the spring he went to Breda, and in May 1660 returned with the king to England. He rode at the head of the life guards in the king's progress to Whitehall on the 29th (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1651–2 pp. 3, 240, 1655, p. 341, 1655–6 p. 327, 1656–7 pp. 92, 340, 1657–8 pp. 201, 306, 313, 314, 346, 1659–60 pp. 81, 82, 136, 217, 308; Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. App. 184, 7th Rep. App. 459 b; Cobbett, State Trials, v. 518–519; Thurloe State Papers, i. 696, ii. 57, 512, 579, iii. 659, iv. 81, 100, 194, v. 160, vi. 26).
On 29 July Gerard received a grant in reversion of the office of remembrancer of the tenths and first-fruits. On 13 Sept. his estates, which had been forfeited by the parliament, were restored to him. On 15 May 1661 he petitioned for the post of ranger of Enfield Chase, which he obtained. His title, however, was disputed by the late ranger, the Earl of Salisbury, and he was soon involved in litigation with Captains Thomas and Henry Batt, keepers of Potter's Walk and bailiffs of the Chase, whose patents he refused to recognise. Both matters were referred to the lord chancellor for decision. As against the Batts, Gerard succeeded on the technical ground that their patent was under the great seal, whereas by statute it should have been under that of the duchy of Lancaster. It does not appear how the question with the Earl of Salisbury was settled. In 1662 Gerard was granted a pension charged on the customs. Towards the end of the year he was sent as envoy extraordinary to the French court, where he was very splendidly received. About this time he became a member of the Royal African Company, which obtained in January 1663 a grant by letters patent of the region between Port Sallee and the Cape of Good Hope for the term of one thousand years. Litigation in which he was this year engaged with his kinsman, Alexander Fitton [q. v.], afterwards lord chancellor of Ireland, was watched with much interest by his enemies. The dispute was about the title to the Gawsworth estate in Cheshire, of which Fitton was in possession, but which Gerard claimed. The title depended on the authenticity of a certain deed which Gerard alleged to be a forgery, producing one Granger, who swore that he himself had forged it. Gerard obtained a verdict at the Chester assizes and ejected Fitton. Fitton, however, published a pamphlet in which he charged Gerard with having procured Granger's evidence by intimidation. Gerard moved the House of Lords on the subject, and the pamphlet was suppressed (Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. App. 184, 7th Rep. App. 125 a, 459 b; Lords' Journ. xi. 171 b, 541 a–561 a; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1651–2–65; Cal. Amer. and West Indies, 1661–8; Thurloe State Papers, i. 696, ii. 57, iii. 659, iv. 81, 100, 194, v. 160, vi. 26, 756, 870, vii. 107, 247; Kennett, Register, 846; Pepys, Diary, 21 Feb. 1667–8; Ormerod, Cheshire, ed. Helsby, iii. 551; North, Examen, 558; B. M. Cat., ‘Gerard, Charles,’ ‘Fitton, Alexander’). In March 1665 Gerard was granted a pension of 1,000l. per annum to retire from the post of captain of the guard, which Charles desired to confer on the Duke of Monmouth. His retirement, however, did not take place until 1668, when Pepys says that he received 12,000l. for it. Pepys also states that it was his practice to conceal the deaths of the troopers that he might draw their pay; and one of his clerks named Carr drew up a petition to the House of Lords charging him with peculation to the extent of 2,000l. per annum. The petition found its way into print before presentation, and was treated by the house as a breach of privilege, voted a ‘scandalous paper,’ and ordered to be burned by the common hangman. Carr was sentenced to pay a fine of 1,000l., to stand in the pillory for three hours on each of three different days, and to be imprisoned in the Fleet during the king's pleasure. Gerard subsequently indicted him as a deserter from the army.
On 5 Jan. 1666–7 Gerard had been appointed to the general command of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight militia, with special instructions to provide for the security of the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth in view of the threatening attitude of the Dutch. In this capacity he was busily engaged during the spring and summer of 1667 in strengthening the fortifications of Portsmouth. He continued to hold the post of gentleman of the bedchamber, with a pension of 1,000l. attached to it, during the reign of Charles II. On 23 July 1679 he was created Earl of Macclesfield. On the occasion of the Duke of Monmouth's unauthorised return from abroad in November 1679, Gerard was sent by Charles to him ‘to tell him out of his great tenderness he gave him till night to be gone.’ The messenger was ill-chosen, Gerard being himself one of the band of conspirators of which Monmouth was the tool. His name appears in the ‘Journal of the House of Lords,’ with that of Shaftesbury, as one of the protesters against the rejection of the Exclusion Bill on 15 Nov. 1680. Lord Grey de Werke in his ‘Confession’ (p. 61) asserts that Gerard suggested to Monmouth the expediency of murdering the Duke of York by way of terrorising Charles. In August 1681 he was dismissed from the post of gentleman of the bedchamber. On 5 Sept. 1682 he entertained the Duke of Monmouth at his seat in Cheshire. In 1684 the question of the Gawsworth title was revived (partly no doubt as a political move) by an application on the part of Fitton to the lord keeper, Guilford, to review the case. Roger North tells us that as Fitton was then in favour at court, while Gerard was ‘stiff of the anti-court party,’ it was generally anticipated that the lord keeper would, independently of the merits of the case, decide in favour of Fitton. In fact, however, he refused the application on the ground that the claim was stale, a ‘pitch of heroical justice’ which North cannot adequately extol, and which so impressed Gerard that he expended a shilling in the purchase of the lord keeper's portrait (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1663–7; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. 486 a, 495 a, 8th Rep. App. 115 a; Pepys, Diary, 13 Oct. 1663, 14 Sept. and 16 Dec. 1667, 16 Sept. 1668; Lords' Journ. xii. 173–5, xiii. 666; Hatton Corresp. Camd. Soc. i. 206, ii. 7; Earwaker, East Cheshire, ii. 556; Burnet, Own Time, 8vo, iii. 56 n.; Luttrell, Relation of State Affairs, i. 120, 216; North, Life of Lord-Keeper Guilford, 206; Examen, 558). The grand jury of Cheshire having presented him on 17 Sept. as disaffected to the government and recommended that he should be bound over to keep the peace, Gerard retaliated by an action of scandalum magnatum against a juryman named Starkey, laying the damages at 10,000l. The case was tried in the exchequer chamber on 25 Nov. 1684, and resulted in judgment for the defendant. On 7 Sept. 1685 a royal proclamation was issued for Gerard's apprehension. He fled to the continent, and sentence of outlawry was passed against him. The next three years he spent partly in Germany and partly in Holland, returning to England at the revolution of 1688. During the progress of the Prince of Orange from Torbay to London, Gerard commanded his body-guard, a troop of some two hundred cavaliers, mostly English, mounted on Flemish chargers, whose splendid appearance excited much admiration. In February 1688–9 he was sworn of the privy council, and appointed lord president of the council of the Welsh marches, and lord-lieutenant of Gloucester, Hereford, Monmouth, and North and South Wales. His outlawry was formally reversed in the following April. His political attitude is curiously illustrated by his speech in the debate on the Abjuration Bill. Lord Wharton, after owning that he had taken more oaths than he could remember, said that he should be ‘very unwilling to charge himself with more at the end of his days,’ whereupon Gerard rose and said that ‘he was in much the same case with Lord Wharton, though they had not always taken the same oaths; but he never knew them of any use but to make people declare against government that would have submitted quietly to it if they had been let alone.’ He also disclaimed having had much hand in bringing about the revolution. In July 1690 he was one of a commission appointed to inquire into the conduct of the fleet during a recent engagement with the French off Beachy Head, which had not terminated so successfully as had been anticipated. He died on 7 Jan. 1693–4 suddenly in a fit of vomiting, and was buried on the 18th in Exeter vault in Westminster Abbey (Cobbett, State Trials, x. 1330; Luttrell, Relation of State Affairs, i. 305, 357, 399, 502, 505, 513, 522, ii. 74, iii. 250; Burnet, Own Time, fol. i. 780, 8vo iv. 79 n.; Ormerod, Cheshire, iii. 553, 556; Coll. Top. et Gen. viii. 9). Gerard married Jane, daughter of Pierre de Civelle, a Frenchman resident in England. Little is known of her except that in 1663 she was dismissed by Charles from attendance on the queen for tattling to her about Lady Castlemaine, and that on one occasion while being carried in her chair through the city she was mistaken for the Duchess of Portsmouth, saluted as the French whore, and mobbed by the populace (Hatton Corresp. Camd. Soc. i. 175). By this lady Gerard had issue two sons (Charles [q. v.], who succeeded to the title, and Fitton) and three daughters, Elizabeth, who married Digby, fifth lord Gerard of Bromley (Coll. Top. et Gen. viii. 12), and was buried in Westminster Abbey, Charlotte and Anne.[Granger's Biogr. Hist. (4th ed.), iii. 219; Doyle's Baronage; Bank's Extinct Peerage, iii. 304; Burke's Extinct Peerage; Phillips's Civil War in Wales; Duke of Manchester's Court and Society from Elizabeth to Anne, i. 335, i. 123.]