Cobham, Henry (DNB00)

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COBHAM, Sir HENRY (1538–1605?), diplomatist, was the fifth son of George Brooke, sixth lord Cobham (the grandfather of Henry Brooke, eighth lord Cobham [q. v.]), but was always known as, and subscribed himself, Henry Cobham. He accompanied Sir Thomas Chaloner the elder [q. v.] to Spain on the latter being accredited as ambassador resident at Madrid in 1561, returning to England the same year with despatches. In 1567 he carried letters from Elizabeth to the emperor and the Archduke Charles at Vienna, by which the queen hoped to reopen the negotiations for her marriage with the archduke, and returned with the answer which closed that chapter of history. In 1570 he was sent to Antwerp, ostensibly on a mission of courtesy, but really to ascertain the destination of the fleet which Alva was then equipping. Thence he went to Speyer, where he had audience of the emperor (17 Sept.), and proceeded by way of Paris to Spain, being accredited to Philip as an envoy extraordinary. His instructions were to demand (1) the release of the English ships seized by Alva in alleged retaliation for depredations committed by English privateers, (2) the expulsion of the English catholic refugees from Spain. He was treated with signal discourtesy, was hardly admitted to an audience of Philip, and then immediately referred to the council. On his attempting to argue that Alva was the aggressor, De Feria bluntly intimated that he was not speaking the truth, and Cardinal Spinosa suggested that Elizabeth ought to make the first advances by restoring the Spanish treasure taken by the privateers. Cobham then returned to England. He was knighted at Kenilworth in the summer of 1575 (Styrpe, Ann., fol., ii. pt. i. p. 394), and in the autumn was again sent to Madrid, this time to demand, under threat of a breach of amity, religious toleration for English subjects resident and travelling in Spain, and 'ministering no just cause of offence by open word, act, or writing,' and liberty for English ambassadors resident to use the forms of the English church in their own houses, and to make an offer of mediation between Philip and the Netherlands. Philip was immovable, but Alva, alarmed at the prospect of a rupture between the two countries, undertook on his own responsibility to secure some slight relaxation of the laws against heretics in favour of English residents. The proffered mediation was rejected. On his return to England Cobham was at once despatched to Brussels to threaten Requescens with war if he proceeded further with coercive measures. Requescens, however, died before Cobham could deliver the message. In 1579 Cobham succeeded Sir Amyas Paulet as ambassador resident at Paris (Birch MS. 2442, f. 883). He was instructed (1) to negotiate for a joint expedition to place Don Antonio on the throne of Portugal, (2) to require the establishment of a court for the relief of English subjects injured by the depredations of French privateers, (3) to temporise in the matter of the proposed marriage with Alençon. He was joined by Somers and Walsingham in 1581, when the three ambassadors urged the substitution of a 'league of amity' for the match. He remained at Paris until 1583, when he was recalled. He represented Kent in the parliaments of 1586 and 1589, and was a member of the 'privy council of the house' and several committees. He was living in 1604, but probably died soon after that date (Cotton MS. Vesp. F. xiii. f. 285 b). Cobham married Anne, daughter of Sir Henry Sutton of Nottinghamshire, relict of Walter Haddon, master of requests, by whom he had three sons. Of these the second, Sir John Cobham of Hekington, Lincolnshire, was raised to the peerage by Charles I at Oxford in 1645, by the title of Baron Cobham, but by his death without issue the title became extinct.

[Coll. Top. et Gen. vii. 352; Cal. State Papers, i (Foreign, 1558-9) p. 281, (1562) pp. 100, 256, 459, 580, (1566-8) p. 369, (1569-71) pp. 303, 328-9, 331, 335, 339, 435, 438, (1575-7) pp. 156, 180, 219-21, 406-7; Froude's Hist. Engl. xi. 41, 437; Murdin's State Papers, p. 343; MS. Cott. Cal. E. vii. 156, Otho E. iv.; Digges's Compleat Ambassador; Cal. State Papers (Dom. 1581-90), p. 119; Official Eeturn of Lists of Members of Parl.; D'Ewes's Journ. of Parl. temp. Eliz. pp. 394, 395, 440; MS. Harl. 6157, f. 10; Misc. Gen. et. Her. (N.S.),i. 451; Dugdale's Bar. ii. 283; Nicolas's Hist. Peerage (Courthope), p. 119.]

J. M. R.