Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 52.djvu/227

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Sidney
Sidney
216

likely an excuse would shortly be found to recall him. The letter of revocation actually arrived on 23 April; but acting on Philip's advice not to give his enemies the satisfaction of thinking that they had driven him from his post, Sidney, though ‘he loathed to tarry any longer,’ successfully pleaded the necessity of a short delay. Rory Oge was still at large, and a recent outbreak on the part of the MacMahons called for chastisement, so that the excuse was not unreasonable. But at last, on 12 Sept., he surrendered the sword to Drury, and taking with him the Earl of Clanricarde and the earl's son William, he sailed for England for the last time. At Chester he became so seriously ill that for a time he was unable to proceed further. His reception at court was not what he either expected or deserved. But after a brief visit to Ludlow he returned to Hampton Court for Christmas. On new year's day 1579 he presented Elizabeth with a costly gold ornament, and a few days later he was sent as far as Canterbury to escort Prince John Casimir to London. Retiring afterwards to Ludlow, he busied himself in repairing it and adding to it the great portal, and apparently also the stone bridge which serves the place of a drawbridge. During the early part of 1580 he was a frequent visitor at Wilton, the seat of Arthur Grey, fourteenth lord Grey de Wilton [q. v.], who, having been nominated for the post of lord deputy of Ireland, was anxious to profit by his experience. But his visits were distasteful to Elizabeth, and he was sharply ordered to remain at his post. A month or two later she censured him for his laxity in carrying out her instructions ‘for the reformation of the recusants and obstinate persons in religion within Wales.’ ‘Your Lordship,’ added Walsingham, in a friendly note of warning, ‘had neade to walk warily, for your doings are narrowely observed, and her Majestie is apt to geve eare to any that shall yll you.’

As time went on, he seems to have regained some of the queen's favour. In 1582 there was some talk of reappointing him to the government of Ireland, and he was willing enough to undertake the post, provided Elizabeth would admit that his former services had been acceptable, that she would mark her appreciation of them by a title and grant of land to sustain it, and give him the rank of lord lieutenant instead of deputy; but chiefly that Philip would accompany him thither, and bear the office after he had resigned it. Worn out, however, with toil and stricken with disease, he died prematurely old at Ludlow Castle on 5 May 1586. His body was by the queen's orders removed to Penshurst, and buried with great solemnity in the chancel of the parish church there on 21 June, but his heart was interred at Ludlow.

Probate of his will, dated 8 Jan. 1581–2, was granted on 25 May 1586. His wife Mary, eldest daughter of John Dudley, duke of Northumberland—‘a full, fair lady,’ in her husband's eyes—was endowed with all womanly and wifely virtues, but lost her good looks while nursing Queen Elizabeth through the smallpox, and thereafter ‘chose rather to hide herself from the curious eyes of a delicate time than come upon the stage of the world with any manner of disparagement.’ She did not long survive her husband, and was laid by his side in Penshurst church on 11 Aug. 1586. By her Sidney had three sons—Sir Philip [q. v.], Robert, first earl of Leicester [q. v.], and Sir Thomas—and four daughters, two of whom died in infancy, and a third, Ambrozia, at the age of twenty, unmarried. Mary [q. v.], the only surviving daughter, married Henry Herbert, earl of Pembroke [q. v.], and is separately noticed.

By far the ablest of the many able men that governed Ireland under Elizabeth, Sidney was throughout his career hampered by his relationship to Leicester. Though unrewarded by the sovereign to whose service he devoted his life, his death was bitterly bemoaned by all those who had the interests of good government at heart, and posterity has done him ample justice. Of a somewhat sanguine complexion, a naturally healthy constitution, a pleasant disposition and merry conversation, delighting in scientific and literary topics, interested especially in naval matters, an excellent speaker, a lover of good society and hospitality, he sacrificed both health and pleasure in the execution of the trust reposed in him.

An anonymous life-size portrait of Sidney in a black doublet and blue ribbon is at Penshurst; another portrait, also anonymous, belongs to Mrs. Lamb (Tudor Exhibition Catalogue, Nos. 265, 329); there is an engraved portrait in the ‘Heroωlogia’ (cf. Bromley, Cat. p. 30).

[Holinshed's Chronicles, vol. iii. (containing brief memoirs of Sir Henry, Lady Mary, and Sir Philip Sidney, written, it is conjectured, by Edmund Molyneux); Collins's Sydney State Papers, with Memoirs; Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 410; Cal. State Papers, Henry VIII; Chron. of Queen Jane and Queen Mary (Camden Soc.); Eden's Decades of the New World; Cal. Carew MSS., particularly ii. 334–60, containing a summary relation of all his services in Ireland, written in