Villiers, Christopher (DNB00)

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VILLIERS, CHRISTOPHER, first Earl of Anglesey (1593?–1630), born probably in 1593, was the third son of Sir George Villiers of Brooksby, Leicestershire, by his second wife, Mary Beaumont, afterwards Countess of Buckingham in her own right. John Villiers, viscount Purbeck [q. v.], and George Villiers, first duke of Buckingham [q. v.], were brothers of the whole blood, and Sir Edward Villiers [q. v.] was his half-brother. Christopher, though ‘an unattractive and unintelligent’ youth, shared the good fortune of the family consequent upon the rise of his brother George. In February 1616–17 he was appointed gentleman of the bedchamber to James I, and on 7 March following was granted an annuity of two hundred pounds a year (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1611–18, pp. 432, 440). In the same year he became master of the robes, and in December Sir Robert Naunton [q. v.], who had no sons, was appointed secretary on condition that he made Villiers his heir; the latter consequently received lands worth 500l. a year. He was also promised 800l. a year out of the monopoly for gold and silver thread, but actually received only 150l. during the whole of its existence (Gardiner, iv. 13, 22). In addition to these sources he received considerable sums from the patent for ale-houses, and his malpractices in this connection formed the subject of charges against him in parliament, which were, however, abandoned (ib. iv. 116). The next step was to secure a suitable heiress as a wife; ineffectual suit was made first for the only daughter of Sir Sebastian Harvey, lord mayor of London, and then for Elizabeth Norris, daughter of the Earl of Berkshire. Villiers eventually married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Sheldon of Howley, Leicestershire. On 23 March 1622–3 he was created Baron Villiers of Daventry and Earl of Anglesey. His mediocre abilities prevented his employment in any important position, and he himself acknowledged to his brother the duke that ‘his want of preferment proceeded from his own unworthiness rather than from the duke's unwillingness’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1627–8, p. 327). On 6 Dec. 1628 he was appointed keeper of Hampton Court, and on 4 March 1628–9 of Bushey Park. He died on 3 April 1630 at Windsor, and was buried on the 12th in St. George's Chapel. An engraving after a portrait by Honthorst is given in Doyle's ‘Official Baronage.’

His only son, Charles Villiers (d. 1661), succeeded as second earl of Anglesey; married, on 25 April 1648, Mary, widow of his cousin, William Villiers, viscount Grandison, and mother of Barbara Villiers [q. v.], and died without issue, being buried at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, on 4 Feb. 1660–1. His honours became extinct, and the estates passed to his sister Anne, widow of Thomas Savile, earl of Sussex [q. v.]

[Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1611–30, passim; Spedding's Bacon; Court and Times of James I; Court and Times of Charles I; Gardiner's Hist. vols. iii. and iv.; Burke's Extinct and G. E. C[okayne]'s Peerages.]

A. F. P.