Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bulstrode, Richard

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BULSTRODE, Sir RICHARD (1610–1711), soldier, diplomatist, and author, was the second son of Edward Bulstrode of the Inner Temple [q. v.], by Margaret, daughter of Richard Astley, chamberlain of the queen’s household, and was born in 1610 (Bysshe, Preface to Original Letters). He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and while still at the university printed a poem on the birth of the Duke of York. In November 1633 he entered the Inner Temple (Cook, Admissions to the Inner Temple, p. 276), of which he was in 1649, at the request of his father, created a bencher. The date of his entrance is of some importance in view of a statement of his own regarding the circumstances in which he was led to join the army of Charles at the outbreak of the civil war. ‘I was then,’ he says in ‘Memoirs of the Reign of Charles I,’ ‘very young and in a labyrinth, not knowing well which way to go; but at last I resolved to go to Whitehall with some gentlemen of the Inner Temple, being then newly come thither from Cambridge, where I had been bred in Pembroke Hall.’ The expression ‘very young’ must be interpreted as in comparison with his advanced age at the time he was writing, and the statement that in 1642 he was ‘newly come from Cambridge’ can be accounted for only by the dimness of his recollection. For some time he served in the Prince of Wales's regiment, and in 1643 he became adjutant to Lord Wilmot. Subsequently he was promoted adjutant-general of horse, and then quartermaster-general. Having in 1667 been appointed to take charge of Wentworth's funeral, he became responsible for the expenses, and to escape the importunity of the creditors went to Bruges, where he suffered a short imprisonment until Charles II fulfilled his obligations to pay the debt. On his release he obtained the auditorship to a Scotch regiment of foot then in service in the Netherlands. In 1673 he was appointed agent at the court of Brussels, and on his return to England in 1675 to give an account of certain negotiations he received the honour of knighthood. In a few months he returned to Brussels in the capacity of resident, and after the accession of Charles II he received the higher title of envoy.

He remained there till the revolution, when he followed King James to the court at St. Germains, where he died on 3 Oct. 1711 (N.S.) He is said to have ‘enjoyed a wonderful firmness of mind and strength of body to the very last,’ and to have died, not of old age, but of an indigestion, which in all probability would not have ended fatally had his own phvsician not been out of the way. In the reface to his ‘Original Letters] in John Le Neve's ‘Lives of Illustrious Persons who died in 1711,’ and in John Le Neve's ‘Monumenta,' his age is given as 101 years 2 months; but in Peter Le Neve’s ‘Knights’ it is stated to be 105 years, and this is adopted in Lipscombe's 'Buckinghamshire.' This statement is, however, contradicted by another which follows in the ‘Knights,’ that the age of the eldest son at his father's death was seventy-two, while his age in 1683 is given as only thirty-one. Sir Richard Bulstrode was twice married to Jacosa, daughter of Edward Dyneley of Charlton, Worcestershire, by whom he left two sons; and to a daughter of M. Stamford, envoy to the court of England from the Duke of Newbourg, by whom he had three sons and four daughters.

With the exception of the poem printed at Cambridge, all the literary efforts of Sir Richard Bulstrode were published posthumously. In 1712 appeared 'Original letters written to the Earl of Arlington, with a Preface giving an account of the Author’s Life and Family,' edited by E. Bysshe. The letters were written in 1674 from the court at Brussels, all of them except two to the Earl of Arlington, and contain a history of the principal events in the Low Countries, in Alsatia and Burgundy, during the campaign of that year. The editor more especially claims for them that they contain the only true and impartial account of the battle of Seneff. A volume of his essays, with a preface by his son, Whitelocke Bulstrode [q. v.], was published in 1715. Theyaze chiefly of a moral or religious cast. Shortly after his death his ‘Life of James II ’ was printed at Rome, and in 1721 appeared ‘Memoirs and Reflections upon the Reign and Government of King Charles I and Charles II, containing an account of several remarkable facts not mentioned by other historians of those times; wherein the character of the Royal Martyr and of Charles II are vindicated from fanatical aspersions.' When above eighty years of age he composed in Latin verse 85 elegies and epigrams, chiefly on divine subjects. A specimen of them is given in the volume containing 'Original letters.'

[Bysshe's Preface to Original Letters of Sir Richard Bulstrode; Le Neve's Lives of Most Illustrious Persons who died in 1711; Lipscombes Buckinghamshire, iv. 503; Nobles continuation of Granger's Biog. Hist. of England, i. 157–9; Le Neve's Monuments.]

T. F. H.