Pope, Thomas (1622-1660) (DNB00)

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POPE, Sir THOMAS, second Earl of Downe (1622–1660), baptised at Cogges, near Witney, 16 Dec. 1622, was the eldest of the three sons of Sir William Pope, knt. (1596–1624), by Elizabeth, sole heiress of Sir Thomas Watson, knt., of Halstead, Kent. His mother married, after his father's death, Sir Thomas Peneystone of Cornwall, Oxfordshire. His grandfather, Sir William Pope (1573–1631) of Wroxton Abbey, near Banbury, was made knight of the Bath in 1603, and a baronet in 1611; on 16 Oct. 1628 he was created Baron Belturbet and Earl of Downe in the kingdom of Ireland, and died on 2 July 1631. Thomas, his grandson, thereupon succeeded to his title, and to the large estates in north-west Oxfordshire which had been settled on the family in 1555 by his great-granduncle, Sir Thomas Pope [q. v.], founder of Trinity College. Wroxton, however, remained in the occupation of his father's younger brother, Sir Thomas Pope (see below). The young earl was brought up in a good ‘school of morality,’ at the house of his guardian, John Dutton of Sherborne (Beesley, Soul's Conflict, 1656, ded.) On 26 Nov. 1638 he married his guardian's daughter Lucy, and on 21 June 1639 matriculated as a nobleman at Christ Church, Oxford; but he offended against academic discipline, and before 13 March 1640–1 he left the university (Laud, Chancellorship, pp. 190 sqq.)

When the civil war broke out, Downe raised a troop of horse, and was in Oxford with the king in 1643. Charles I slept at his wife's house at Cubberley, Gloucestershire, on 6 Sept. 1643 and 12 July 1644 (‘Iter Carolinum,’ in Gutch, Coll. Cur. ii. 431, 433). In 1645 (Cal. State Papers, Com. Comp. ii. 934–5), his estate being valued at 2,202l. per annum, he was fined 5,000l. by the committee for compounding. He took the oath and covenant before 24 Oct. 1645, but had great difficulty in raising money for his fine, and in 1648 his other debts amounted to 11,000l. The sequestration was finally discharged on 18 April 1651, after he had sold, under powers obtained by a private act in 1650, all his lands, except the manors of Cogges and Wilcote, Cubberley, which he held in right of his wife, and Enstone, with the adjacent townships (Ditchley Papers). The earl, who was steadied by his misfortunes, soon left England, and travelled in France and Italy. He died at Oxford, at the ‘coffeehouse’ of Arthur Tilliard, a ‘great royalist’ and apothecary in St. Mary's parish, 28 Dec. 1660. His body was buried among his ancestors at Wroxton 11 Jan. 1661, and there is a floor-slab, with a long inscription to his memory, in the chancel (Wood, Life, ed. Clark, i. 350–1). The countess had died 6 April 1656, and was buried at Cubberley (Bigland, Gloucestershire, i. 407). Just before Downe's death his only child, Elizabeth (born at Cogges 15 April 1645), married Sir Francis Henry Lee, fourth baronet of Ditchley, Oxfordshire [see under Lee, George Henry, third Earl of Lichfield]. Her second husband was Robert Bertie, earl of Lindsey; and the Enstone property still remains with her representative, Viscount Dillon.

The peerage passed to his uncle, Sir Thomas Pope of Wroxton, third Earle of Downe (1598–1668), who was knighted at Woodstock in 1625, and suffered severely from both sides in the civil war. He was imprisoned by the king at Oxford for six weeks, and was arrested in 1656 on suspicion of complicity in the ‘cavalier’ plot (Cal. State Papers, Com. for Compounding, ii. 1612; cf. Beesley, Banbury, 618). He married, in 1636, Beata, daughter of Sir Henry Poole, of Saperton, Gloucestershire, and died 11 Jan. 1668. His portrait was painted by W. Dobson. His only surviving son, Thomas, died 18 May 1668, when the titles became extinct. The succession to the Wroxton lease and estates was contested between the three daughters of the third earl and their cousin, Lady Elizabeth Lee, who claimed as heir general on failure of heirs male, ‘furiously protesting’ that she would have at least half. A compromise was effected by the lawyers, one of whom, Francis North, afterwards lord Guilford [q. v.], subsequently, in 1671, married Frances Pope, one of the coheiresses, bought out the others in 1680–1, and settled at Wroxton, where his descendants, the Earls of Guilford and Lords North, have since remained (North, Life of the Norths, i. 163–4).

There is a fine head of the second earl at the age of about twenty-one, attributed to Isaac Oliver, in the possession of Lord North at Wroxton, together with portraits of his father, mother, grandparents, and other members of the Pope family. Lord Dillon has another good head, attributed to Janssen, of a much later date, and a companion portrait of his wife. A third portrait which bears his name probably represents his father.

[Authorities cited; Warton's Life of Sir T. Pope, App. xxvi (inaccurate in its account of the family); Baker's Northamptonshire; G. E. C.'s Peerage; Jordan's Enstone; Beesley's Banbury; Croke's Croke Family; personal inspection of papers and portraits at Wroxton, Ditchley, and Claydon.]

H. E. D. B.