Lovelace, John (DNB00)
|←Lovelace, Francis||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 34
LOVELACE, JOHN, third Baron Lovelace of Hurley (1638?–1693), was grandson of Sir Richard Lovelace (1568–1634) of Hurley, Berkshire, who was knighted at Dublin on 5 Aug. 1599, and elevated to the peerage by Charles I on 30 May 1627. His father was John Lovelace, second baron (1616–1670), and his mother, Lady Anne, daughter and eventual heiress of Thomas Wentworth, first earl of Cleveland. It was this ‘Lady Anne’ to whom Richard Lovelace dedicated his ‘Lucasta.’ Of his grandfather, Sir Richard, Fuller says: ‘He was a gentleman of mettal; and in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, making use of letters of mark, had the successe to light on a large remnant of the King of Spain's cloth of silver, I mean his West Indian fleet; wherewith he and his posterity are warmer to this day’ (Worthies, 1811, i. 112). Of the same man, Garrard, in a letter to the Earl of Strafford, dated 3 June 1634, says: ‘Lovelace being my neighbour, born near Windsor, I knew him well, though he was born but to 400l. a year, yet he left to his only son, aged near 20, near 7,000l. a year: All got by a fortunate marriage with a rich citizen's daughter (of which an early example), she was worth to him 50,000l.’ (Strafford, Letters and Despatches, ed. Knowles, i. 260; Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. vii. p. 213). His father was a staunch royalist, who signed the declaration in favour of Charles I in June 1642, and joined the king at Oxford in August 1643 (Clarendon, Hist. v. 346, vii. 174). He came in to compound for delinquency on 24 March 1645, was assessed to pay a fine of 18,373l. 1s. 10d., and after numerous petitions, reviews, abatements, and delays, succeeded in getting his sequestration suspended after payment of about 4,000l. (Cal. Comm. Comp. ii. 1188). He was lord-lieutenant of Berkshire from 1660 to 1668, died at Woodstock 25 Sept. 1670, and was buried at Hurley (Ashmole, Antiq. of Berkshire, p. 207; Whitelocke, Memorials, 1682, pp. 76, 352; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1667 passim). Details of some clumsy attempts at intrigue made by him during 1643 and 1644, in which he was the dupe of Sir Harry Vane and other parliament men, are given in Baillie's ‘Correspondence’ (Bannatyne Club, ii. passim).
The son, who was born at Hurley about 1638, was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, whence he matriculated 25 July 1655, was created M.A. 9 Sept. 1661 (Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714), travelled in France and the Low Countries (cf. Thurloe State Papers, ed. Birch, vi. 151), and represented Berkshire in the House of Commons from 1661 until his father's death in 1670, when he succeeded to the peerage. In 1680 he was greatly affronted by being left out of the commission of the peace for Berkshire (Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. ii. 173). He soon became noted for his sporting propensities, and still more for his violent whiggism. He very probably imbibed some of his political notions from John Owen (1616–1683) [q. v.], the noted independent, who was chaplain at Hurley between 1640 and 1650 (Welch, Queen's Scholars, p. 21). In 1680, during a visit of Monmouth to Oxford, he offered a plate to be run for ‘in Portmeed,’ on which occasion Monmouth himself rode, but was not successful. In July of this year he was made free of the city of Oxford, and, at a banquet in his honour, drank ‘to the confusion of all popish princes’ (Wood, Life and Times, ed. Clarke, ii. 490). He was arrested in 1683 ‘on account of the [Rye House] plot,’ but was discharged on bail. In March 1688 he was summoned before the privy council for telling some constables that they need not obey a Roman catholic justice of the peace (Luttrell, i. 266, 342). Subjected to a strict examination, he resolutely refused to incriminate himself, and the evidence against him was insufficient. He was dismissed, but before he retired James II exclaimed, in great heat, ‘My lord, this is not the first trick you have played me.’ ‘Sir,’ answered Lovelace, ‘I never played any trick to your majesty or to any other person. Whoever has accused me to your majesty of playing tricks is a liar’ (Johnstone, 27 Feb. 1688; Van Citters of same date, quoted by Macaulay). At Oxford, after James's interference at Magdalen, he became very popular, and for a time ‘Lord Lovelace's Health’ was a standing toast (letter from Thomas Newey of Christ Church, quoted in Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. p. 263 and n.) Shortly afterwards, admitted into the confidence of those who planned the revolution, Lovelace embraced the cause of William with characteristic warmth. A picturesque passage in Macaulay (Hist. popular edt. i. 579) describes the midnight conferences held in a vault beneath the hall of his mansion at Lady Place, Berkshire, ‘during that anxious time when England was impatiently expecting the protestant wind.’ A commemorative tablet was subsequently affixed to the walls of the vault, and was inspected by General Paoli in 1780, and in 1785 by George III (Brayley and Britton, England and Wales, i. 192). In September 1688 Lovelace made a hasty visit to Holland, returning the same month (Luttrell). Early in October a warrant was issued against him, on the information of a Roman catholic, as an abettor of the Prince of Orange. The truth of the charge was soon put beyond a doubt. On the news reaching him of William's landing, early in the second week of Nov. 1688, Lovelace set out with seventy followers to join the prince. He reached Gloucestershire, but encountered a strong force of militia, under Beaufort, at Cirencester. He resolved to force a passage, but after a short conflict was overpowered, and although ‘most of his men got clear,’ he himself was captured and sent to Gloucester castle (Lond. Gaz. 15 Nov. 1688, Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. v. 210). Vigorous efforts were made to procure his release, William threatening to burn Badminton unless he was set at liberty. Enlarged by Sir R. Dutton by the end of November, he entered Oxford at the head of three hundred horse on 8 Dec. He was well received, and occupied the city for William (Univ. Intelligencer, 11 Dec. 1688). A ballad was written to commemorate his triumphal entry by John Smith, second master at Magdalen School (Dryden, Miscellany Poems, 1716, pt. ii. p. 198; Poems on Affairs of State, ii. 268; State Trials, xii. col. 81). During the first days of February 1689, after the debate in the lords, in which the proposition that the throne was vacant had been rejected, Lovelace was suspected of encouraging the whig mob which clamoured in Palace Yard for the Prince and Princess of Orange to be declared king and queen. It is certain that, with his usual impetuosity, he set on foot a petition to that effect, in order to exert pressure upon the two houses (Clarendon, Diary, 2 Feb. 1689; Friedrich Bonnet, Reports; Macaulay, i. 643, and authorities there cited). On 28 April 1689 Lovelace was appointed captain of the gentlemen pensioners, and in the following August he was unenviably conspicuous as one of the tellers in the debate on the reversal of Oates's sentence (House of Lords' MSS. p. 259). He had previously been on the friendliest terms with Oates (cf. Wood, Life and Times, ed. Clarke, ii. 465). In September 1690 he was visited by William at Lady Place, Hurley (Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. App. iv. 398), and was created chief justice of their majesties' parks and forests this side of Trent.
In May 1691 Luttrell relates that Lovelace had been recognised in the company of Lord Colchester, Lord Newburgh, and Sir John Conway, ‘scowring the streets,’ and committing ‘gross disorders.’ It is probably in allusion to some earlier exploits of this nature that Marvell described him in his ‘Last Instructions’ (1667) as
Lovelace young of chimney-men the cane.
His excesses were, in fact, rapidly undermining his health, as his inveterate fondness for betting and gambling had already dissipated his estate. He was constantly tipsy, and Hearne relates, on the authority of Dr. Brabourn, principal of New Inn Hall, that ‘he used every morning to drink a Quart of Brandy’ (Collect. ed. Doble, iii. 349). On 26 April 1692 he fell down stairs and broke his arm. In September of the following year James Cresset, writing to Lord Lexington prior to his departure for the Hague, said: ‘Going to take my leave of Lord Lovelace at his house, I found Harry Killigrew had carried him away in a chair to his lodgings at Whitehall, and there I saw him, a sad spectacle; he is probably dead by this time’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. v. ii. 146). The surmise was correct; Lovelace died on 27 Sept. 1693. By his wife Martha, daughter and coheiress of Sir Edmond Pye of Bradenham, Buckinghamshire, whom he married on 30 July 1662 (Chester, London Marriage Licenses), he had a son, John, who died in infancy, and three daughters.
There is a portrait of Lovelace by M. Laroon in Wadham College Hall (Gardiner, Reg. of Wadham Coll. Oxford, p. 209). Another, which represents him full of youthful vivacity, is among the Lovelace portraits at Dulwich. Ashmole calls him ‘A vitæ virtutis degener hæres,’ ‘an active zealot against James II, and very instrumental in the revolution, a prodigal of his large paternal estate.’ His tendency to drink and debauchery, however, would appear to have been an heirloom (Collins, Letters and Memorials, ii. 490, 495). A decree of the high court of chancery ordered his estate to be sold in order to pay his debts, and it was purchased by Vincent Okeley for 41,000l. (Ashmole, p. 207).
He was succeeded in the peerage by his cousin, John Lovelace (d. 1709), whose father, William, son of Francis Lovelace [q. v.], by Mary, daughter of William King of Iver, Buckinghamshire, was a grandson of the first baron. He took his seat in the House of Lords in November 1693, and was made guidon of the horse guards, vice the Earl of Westmorland, on 30 May 1699 (Luttrell). Having inherited little or nothing except creditors' claims with the title, he was wretchedly poor, and did not very materially improve his position by his marriage, on 20 Oct. 1702, to Charlotte, daughter of Sir John Clayton of Richmond. He was however created colonel of the new regiment on 17 Jan. 1705–6, and kissed hands for the government of New York and New Jersey (in place of Lord Cornbury, ‘recall'd for numerous malpractices and misappropriations’) 23 March 1708. He sailed from Southampton in September following, being accompanied by fifty-two families of ‘poor Palatines,’ who are stated to have been the first German emigrants to America. News came of his arrival in January 1709. He was well received, and issued conciliatory addresses to the colonists, who replied, with characteristic independence, that they had hitherto been subjected to the worst government in the world, but hoped for better things. Before he had effected anything, however, he died of an apoplexy, on 6 May 1709, and was buried at New York (Boyer, Annals, vii. 244, viii. 380–4, Roberts, New York). He left two sons, John and Nevil, successive barons. The latter died in 1736, when the barony became extinct; it was revived in the person of William, eighth lord King [q. v.] (For the connection between the King and Lovelace families see ‘Gent. Mag.’ 1839, ii. 144.)
[Burke's Extinct Peerages, p. 334; Peerage of England, 1710, p. 70; Wood's Fasti, ii. 252; Bloxam's Magdalen College and James II (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), p. 73; Bloxam's Magd. Coll. Reg. i. 106–7; Reliq. Hearn. i. 249; Humphrey Prideaux's Letters to Ellis, Camd. Soc.; Lysons's Magna Britannia, i. 299; Burton's House of Orange, p. 75; Banks's Life of William III, 1744, p. 213; Ranke's History of England, iv. 446, 509; Lingard's History, x. 345; Add. Charters, 13611–748 (title deeds, &c.); Add. MSS. 22187–90 (papers chiefly relating to money matters), 22186, f. 195 (a letter from Lovelace to his father, dated about 1660); Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th, 11th, and 12th Reports, Appendices, passim.]