Vere, Henry de (DNB00)

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VERE, HENRY de, eighteenth Earl of Oxford (1593–1625), born on 24 Feb. 1592-3 at Newington, Middlesex, was only son of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford [q. v.], by his second wife, Elizabeth Trentham . He succeeded his father as eighteenth earl of Oxford on 24 June 1604. He is said to have been educated at Oxford. He was admitted a member of the Inner Temple in November 1604, and was created M.A. of Oxford on 30 Aug. 1605. He was made a knight of the Bath on 3 June 1610, and keeper of Havering Park on 15 Nov. 1611. According to Arthur Wilson (Life of James I) the eighteenth earl 'was of no reputation in his youth, being very debauched and riotous, and, having no means, maintained it by sordid and unworthy wayes.' His mother complained of the bad company he kept (cf. Markham, Fighting Veres, pp. 383-4). On her death, early in 1613, he inherited a share of her fortune, and set out soon afterwards on an extended foreign tour. From Brussels he made his way through France to Italy. At Venice in 1617 he distinguished himself by offering to raise a body of volunteers for the service of the republic, and he exerted himself to obtain the release of his kinsman Sidney Bertie, who had fallen into the hands of the inquisition at Ancona (Wotton's letters, February and June 1617). While abroad Lady Hatton offered him the hand of her daughter Frances, whom the king wished to marry to Sir John Villiers, afterwards Viscount Villiers [q. v.], Buckingham's brother (cf. Spedding, Bacon, vi. 222; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1611-18, p. 485), and thus were laid the seeds of a future quarrel between Buckingham and the earl. Oxford returned to England in October 1618 (Camden), 'refined in every esteem.' On 22 May 1619 he was admitted to the hereditary office of chamberlain. Between June and November 1620 he served under his kinsman, Sir Horatio Vere [q. v.], in the palatinate, and on his return home was appointed, in January 1621, to the council of war that was ordered to determine the aid that England would render the elector palatine. In July 1621 an incautious expression of dissatisfaction with the Spanish match led to a few weeks' imprisonment in the Tower. In December 1621 he was nominated by Buckingham to command the Assurance, a vessel that was commissioned to guard the Channel. He captured a Dutch Indiaman, which he had to restore. The experience displeased him. Buckingham's predominance was already obnoxious to him, and on returning from sea he expressed a hope that a time might come when justice should be free and not pass through the favourite's hands. He was sent to the Tower on 20 April 1622 for a second time. Demand was made in vain by his friends to give him a public trial; but in order to satisfy popular clamour a bill was filed in the Star-chamber charging him with scandalous attacks on the government in private conversation. No legal proceedings were taken against him, and he was released in December 1623, after a twenty months' imprisonment. Immediately afterwards (January 1623-4) Oxford married Lady Diana Cecil, daughter of the Earl of Exeter, a lady of great beauty, who brought him a fortune of 30,000l. Bacon in his disgrace besought his favours in an obsequious letter which he addressed to the earl in the month of his marriage (Spedding, vii. 454-5). Oxford declined a reconciliation with Buckingham, to whose friendship and hostility he declared himself equally indifferent (Clarendon, i. 66). In June 1624 he went to the Low Countries as colonel of a volunteer regiment of foot that was raised for the service of the elector palatine. He put forward a claim of precedency over a fellow colonel, {{DNB lkpl|Wriothesley, Henry|Henry Wriothesley, third earl of Southampton [q. v.], which the council of war, after much deliberation, allowed with qualifications. It was admitted that Oxford was entitled to precedency in all civil capacities, but not 'in martial and military' offices. He was present in June at the unsuccessful assault on Terheiden (in connection with the operations to relieve Breda), but soon afterwards died at The Hague of fever. He was buried in Westminster Abbey on 25 July 1625. He is described as 'corpulent and heavy' (cf. Epistolae Hoelianae, ed. Jacobs, i. 228). A portrait is at Welbeck, and there is an engraving by Robert Vaughan. He left no issue, and was succeeded by a second cousin, Robert de Vere (1599?-1632). father of Aubrey de Vere, twentieth earl of Oxford [q. v.]

[Brydges's Peers of the Reign of James I, pp. 3, 493; Gardiner's Hist.; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1611-24.]

S. L.