York, Rowland (DNB00)

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YORK or YORKE, ROWLAND (d. 1588), soldier of fortune, is conjectured to have been one of the ten sons of Sir John York [q. v.], whose ninth son bore the name of Rowland (Visit. of Yorkshire, ed. Foster, p. 382). Being of an adventurous disposition, he volunteered for the Netherlands under Captain Thomas Morgan (d. 1595) [q. v.] in 1572. He embarked at Gravesend on 19 March that year with his two companions, Gascoigne and Herle, but the ship in which they sailed was nearly lost on the coast of Holland owing to the incompetence of the Dutch pilot (Brydges, Censura Literaria, i. 111). But reaching the English camp in safety, he took part in August that year in the attack on Goes under Captain (afterwards Sir) Humphrey Gilbert [q. v.] and 't Zereets (Markham, Fighting Veres, p. 46). Opinions differed about him. By some he was held ‘bolde of courage, provident in direction, industrious in labour, and quick in execution’ (Blandy, The Castle, p. 26). But his profligacy and the fact that he was a Roman catholic caused him from the first to be distrusted by the states (Meteeren, Hist. Belg. lib. xiv. 430). In October 1580 he was reported by Herle to Walsingham to have been arrested on a charge of felony (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–80, p. 684). Four years later he was detected in a plot with John Van Imbyss to betray Ghent to the Duke of Parma (Grimestone, Hist. of the Netherlands, p. 827). Contrary to the advice of the Prince of Orange, who would have preferred a more summary punishment, he was clapped in prison in Brussels, whence he was released when the city fell into Parma's hands in 1586. He served at the siege of Antwerp, but by the intercession of his friends he was allowed to return to England. Joining the expedition under the Earl of Leicester that year, he succeeded in ingratiating himself with Sir Philip Sidney (Meteeren, Hist. Belg. l.c.), and being by Leicester appointed to the command of Zutphen sconce, he, according to Camden, took the opportunity thus offered him of paying back a grudge he had against the earl by surrendering the sconce to the Spaniards and inducing Sir William Stanley (1548–1630) [q. v.] to do the same for Deventer. He was appointed captain of a troop of lancers in the Spanish service; but his treachery not being, as he thought, sufficiently rewarded, and he being known to be a bold and determined villain (Tozen, i. 357), it is said the Spaniards took precaution to prevent any double treachery by causing him to be poisoned. He died on a Sunday in February 1588, having first ‘received sacraments, unction, and all’ (Bertie, Five Generations of a Loyal House, p. 120; but cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1581–90, p. 466, where he is said to have died of the smallpox). Three years afterwards his body was exhumed and gibbeted by order of the states. His heir was Edmund Yorke, who was executed at Tyburn in 1595 for attempting to assassinate Queen Elizabeth.

[Cardinal Allen's Defence of Sir William Stanley's Surrender of Deventer, ed. Heywood (Chetham Soc.), introd. p. xxii n.; Sadler's Letters, App. iii., ‘The Estate of the English Fugitives,’ pp. 208–330; Somers Tracts, i. 360; Roger Williams's Actions of the Lowe Countries, p. 81; A True Discourse Historicall … translated and collected by T. C[hurchyard], esq., &c., p. 84; Motley's United Netherlands; and authorities quoted.]

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