1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Clarendon, Henry Hyde, 2nd Earl of
CLARENDON, HENRY HYDE, 2nd Earl of (1638–1709), English statesman, eldest son of the first earl, was born on the 2nd of June 1638. He accompanied his parents into exile and assisted his father as secretary, returning with them in 1660. In 1661 he was returned to parliament for Wiltshire as Lord Cornbury. He became secretary in 1662 and lord chamberlain to the queen in 1665. He took no part in the life of the court, and on the dismissal of his father became a vehement opponent of the administration, defended his father in the impeachment, and subsequently made effective attacks upon Buckingham and Arlington. In 1674 he became earl of Clarendon by his father’s death, and in 1679 was made a privy councillor. He was not included in Sir W. Temple’s council of that year, but was reappointed in 1680. In 1682 he supported Halifax’s proposal of declaring war on France. On the accession of James in 1685 he was appointed lord privy seal, but shortly afterwards, in September, was removed from this office to that of lord-lieutenant of Ireland. Clarendon was embarrassed in his estate, and James required a willing agent to carry out his design by upsetting the Protestant government and the Act of Settlement. Clarendon arrived in Dublin on the 9th of January 1686. He found himself completely in the power of Tyrconnel, the commander-in-chief; and though, like his father, a staunch Protestant, elected this year high steward of Oxford University, and detesting the king’s policy, he obeyed his orders to introduce Roman Catholics into the government and the army and upon the bench, and clung to office till after the dismissal of his brother, the earl of Rochester, in January 1687, when he was recalled and succeeded by Tyrconnel. He now supported the church in its struggle with James, opposed the Declaration of Indulgence, wrote to Mary an account of the resistance of the bishops, and visited and advised the latter in the Tower. He had no share, however, in inviting William to England. He assured James in September that the Church would be loyal, advised the calling of the parliament, and on the desertion of his son, Lord Cornbury, to William on the 14th of November, expressed to the king and queen the most poignant grief. In the council held on the 27th, however, he made a violent and unseasonable attack upon James’s conduct, and on the 1st of December set out to meet William, joined him on the 3rd at Berwick near Salisbury, and was present at the conference at Hungerford on the 8th, and again at Windsor on the 16th. His wish was apparently to effect some compromise, saving the crown for James. According to Burnet, he advised sending James to Breda, and according to the duchess of Marlborough to the Tower, but he himself denies these statements. He opposed vehemently the settlement of the crown upon William and Mary, voted for the regency, and refused to take the oaths of the new sovereigns, remaining a non-juror for the rest of his life. He subsequently retired to the country, engaged in cabals against the government, associated himself with Richard Graham, Lord Preston, and organizing a plot against William, was arrested on the 24th of June 1690 by order of his niece, Queen Mary, and placed in the Tower. Liberated on the 15th of August, he immediately recommenced his intrigues. On Preston’s arrest on the 31st of December, a compromising letter from Clarendon was found upon him, and he was named by Preston as one of his accomplices. He was examined before the privy council and again imprisoned in the Tower on the 4th of January 1691, remaining in confinement till the 3rd of July. This closed his public career. In 1702, on Queen Anne’s accession, he presented himself at court, “to talk to his niece,” but the queen refused to see him till he had taken the oaths. He died on the 31st of October 1709, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
His public career had been neither distinguished nor useful, but it seems natural to ascribe its failure to small abilities and to the conflict between personal ties and political convictions which drew him in opposite directions, rather than, following Macaulay, to motives of self-interest. He was a man of some literary taste, a fellow of the Royal Society (1684), the author of The History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of Winchester . . . continued by S. Gale (1715), and he collaborated with his brother Rochester in the publication of his father’s History (1702–1704). He married (1) in 1660, Theodosia, daughter of Lord Capel, and (2) in 1670, Flower, daughter of William Backhouse of Swallowfield in Berkshire, and widow of William Bishopp and of Sir William Backhouse, Bart. He was succeeded by his only son, Edward (1661–1724), as 3rd earl of Clarendon; and, the latter having no surviving son, the title passed to Henry, 2nd earl of Rochester (1672–1753), at whose death without male heirs it became extinct in the Hyde line.
- Hist. MSS. Comm.: MSS. of the Duke of Buccleuch, ii. 31.
- Correspondence and Diary (1828), ii. 286.