Pierrepont, Henry (DNB00)
|←Pierrepont, Evelyn (1711-1773)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 45
PIERREPONT, HENRY, first Marquis of Dorchester (1606–1680), born in 1606, was the eldest son of Robert Pierrepont, first earl of Kingston [q. v.] He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. In the parliament of 1628–9 Pierrepont, as Viscount Newark, represented Nottinghamshire. On 11 Jan. 1641 he was summoned to the House of Lords as Baron Pierrepont of Holme Pierrepont (Doyle, Official Baronage, i. 609). There he delivered two speeches: the first in defence of the right of bishops to sit in parliament, the second on the lawfulness and conveniency of their intermeddling in temporal affairs (Old Parliamentary History, ix. 287, 322). In 1642 the king appointed him lord lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, and he took an active part in raising forces for the royal army. On 13 July 1642 he made a speech to the assembled trained bands of the county at Newark, urging them to take up arms in the king's cause (reprinted in Cornelius, Annals of Newark-on-Trent, p. 110). But an attempt which he made to obtain possession of the powder belonging to the county was successfully defeated by John Hutchinson (Memoirs of Col. Hutchinson, i. 142–53, 347; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1641–3, p. 368). In 1643 he succeeded his father as second Earl of Kingston. He followed the king to Oxford, and remained there till the war ended. The university conferred on him the degree of M.A., and Charles rewarded his adherence by creating him Marquis of Dorchester (25 March 1645) and admitting him to the privy council (1 March 1645) (Doyle, Official Baronage; Wood, Fasti Oxon. ii. 36). At the Uxbridge treaty he acted as one of the king's commissioners, and earned great reputation among the soldiers by his opposition to the rest of the council when they decided to surrender Oxford to Fairfax (Munk, Coll. of Phys. ed. 1878, i. 284). In March 1647 he surprised Hyde and the more rigid royalists by compounding for his estate. He had not actually fought in the king's armies, and his delinquency consisted in sitting in the Oxford parliament. His fine, therefore, was fixed at 7,467l., which was estimated to be one tenth of the value of his estate (Calendar of the Committee for Compounding, p. 1473; Cal. Clarendon Papers, i. 348, 368).
Now that the war was over, Dorchester returned to his studies. ‘From his youth he was always much addicted to books; and when he came from Cambridge, for many years he seldom studied less than ten or twelve hours a day; so that he had early passed though all manner of learning both divine and human.’ For some time he lived at Worksop Manor, lent him by the Earl of Arundel, as two of his own houses had been ruined by the war. But after the king's death he found there was no living in the country, as every mechanic now thought himself as good as the greatest peer; and in November 1649 he removed to London. Sedentary habits and trouble of mind had made him ill, and his illness suggested to him the study of physic, which he henceforth pursued with the greatest application (Munk, p. 286). With the study of medicine he combined the study of the law, and on 30 June 1651 he was admitted to Gray's Inn (Foster, Gray's Inn Register, p. 258; Nicholas Papers, i. 306). On 22 July 1658 he was admitted a fellow of the College of Physicians (Munk, i. 282, 291). The royalists regarded his conduct as a scandal to his order, and spread a report that he had killed by his prescriptions his daughter, his coachman, and five other patients (Cal. Clarendon Papers, iii. 412). The official journal of the Protectorate, however, praised him for giving the nobility of England ‘a noble example how to improve their time at the highest rate for the advancement of their own honour and the benefit of mankind’ (Mercurius Politicus, 22–29 July 1658).
At the Restoration, in spite of Dorchester's compliance with the Protector's government, he was readmitted to the privy council (27 Aug. 1660), and remained a member of that body till 1673. He was also appointed one of the commissioners for executing the office of earl marshal (26 May 1662, 15 June 1676), became a fellow of the Royal Society (20 May 1663), and accepted the post of recorder of Nottingham (7 Feb. 1666). He died on 8 Dec. 1680 at his house in Charterhouse Yard, and was buried at Holme Pierrepont.
Dorchester was a little man, with a very violent temper. On 11 Dec. 1638 he obtained a pardon for an assault he had committed on one Philip Kinder within the precincts of Westminster Abbey and in time of divine service (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1637–8 p. 16, 1638–9 p. 412). On 14 Dec. 1641 the House of Lords committed him to custody for words used during a debate (Lords' Journals, iv. 475). At some subsequent date he had a quarrel with Lord Grandison, from whom he received a beating. In March 1660 Dorchester challenged his son-in-law, Lord Roos, to a duel, on account of his ill-treatment of Lady Roos. The two peers exchanged long and abusive letters, which they published. ‘You dare not meet me with a sword in your hand,’ wrote Dorchester, ‘but was it a bottle none would be more forward.’ ‘If,’ replied Roos, ‘by your threatening to ram your sword down my throat, you do not mean your pills, the worst is past, and I am safe enough’ (The Lord Marquesse of Dorchester's Letter to the Lord Roos, &c., 4to, 1660). On 19 Dec. 1667 Dorchester came to blows with the Duke of Buckingham at a conference between the two houses in the Painted Chamber. ‘The Marquis, who was the lower of the two in stature and was less active in his limbs, lost his periwig, and received some rudeness;’ but, on the other hand, ‘the Marquis had much of the duke's hair in his hands to recompense for the pulling off his periwig, which he could not reach high enough to do to the other’ (Clarendon, Continuation of Life, § 978). The two combatants were committed to the Tower by the House of Lords, but released a few days later on apologising (Lords' Journals, xii. 52, 55).
Dorchester's pretences to universal knowledge exposed him to the ridicule of his contemporaries. Lord Roos, or rather Samuel Butler writing under the name of Lord Roos, told him, ‘You are most insufferable in your unconscionable engrossing of all trades.’ Dorchester himself regarded medicine as his most serious accomplishment. In 1676 he brought an action of scandalum magnatum against a man who said, to one that asserted that the marquis was a great physician, that all men of the marquis's years were either fools or physicians (Hatton Correspondence, i. 124). According to his biographer, Dr. Goodall, he hastened his end by taking his own medicines; but he was nearly seventy-four when he died. Dorchester left a library valued at 4,000l. to the College of Physicians, which also possesses a portrait and a bust of the marquis (Munk, i. 282, 291).
He married twice: (1) Cecilia, daughter of Paul, viscount Bayning, who died 19 Sept. 1639. By her he had two daughters—Anne, married to John Manners, lord Roos, from whom she was divorced by act of parliament in 1666; and Grace, who died unmarried in 1703. (2) In September 1652, Katherine, third daughter of James Stanley, seventh earl of Derby (Doyle, Official Baronage, i. 609).
Dorchester was the author of: 1. ‘Two Speeches spoken in the House of Lords: one concerning the Right of Bishops to sit in Parliament, and the other concerning the Lawfulness and Conveniency of their intermeddling in Temporal Affairs,’ 4to, 1641. 2. ‘Speech to the Trained Bands of Nottinghamshire at Newark,’ 4to, 1642. 3. ‘The Lord Marquesse of Dorchester's Letter to the Lord Roos, with the Lord Roos's Answer thereunto, whereunto is added the Reason why the Lord Marquesse of Dorchester published his Letter,’ &c., 4to, 1660. The letters published in this tract were originally printed in folio in February 1659–60. 4. A letter to Dr. Duck in answer to his dedication of ‘De Auctoritate Juris Civilis Romanorum,’ 1653.[A Life of Dorchester, by Dr. Charles Goodall, is printed in Munk's Coll. of Phys. i. 281–92, ed. 1878. Other biographies are given in Wood's Fasti Oxon. and Parke's edition of Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors.]