Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hyde, Henry (1638-1709)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
564573Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 28 — Hyde, Henry (1638-1709)1891Adolphus William Ward

HYDE, HENRY, second Earl of Clarendon (1638–1709), eldest son of Edward Hyde, the first earl [q. v.], and his second wife, Frances, daughter of Sir Thomas Aylesbury, was born 2 June 1638. Both he and his brother Laurence [q. v.] spent part of their boyhood under their mother's care at Antwerp and Breda (Lister, i. 300, ii. 40). Of their attachment to their father they afterwards gave ample proof. Clarendon during several years before the Restoration made frequent use of his eldest son as copyist, decipherer, and confidential secretary, entrusting him with part of his correspondence with distant royalists. Many of Henry Hyde's letters from this period are among the 'Clarendon Papers' in the Bodleian Library; the earliest paper in his handwriting is dated Cologne, 2 Aug. 1655. His father (9 May 1661) calls him 'as secret as he ought to be' Douglas, i. x, xiii seqq.)

Very soon after the return of his family to England in 1660 Hyde married Theodosia, daughter of Lord Capel, and sister of the Duchess of Beaufort. He lost his wife as early as February 1662, and nearly forty years afterwards, 17 May 1701, described to Pepys a strange supposed instance of second-sight connected with her death (Pepys, Diary and Correspondence, ed. Bright, vi. 207). In 1665 he married Flower, widow of Sir William Backhouse, bart., through whom he became possessed of the manor and house of Swallowfield, Berkshire (see Evelyn, ii. 316, and note, and iii. 5; cf. Diary and Correspondence, i. 237, 407). The second Lady Clarendon, who in her later years became first lady of the bedchamber to her niece by marriage (the Princess Anne), is tartly described by a junior colleague as one who 'looked like a mad-woman and talked like a scholar' (Account of the Conduct of the Duchess of Marlborough, p.10).

In 1661 Lord Cornbury (such being his style after his father's elevation to the earldom of Clarendon in April) was elected to parliament for Wiltshire, which he continued to represent till the death of the first earl in 1674. In 1662 he was appointed private secretary to the new queen, Catherine, whose lord chamberlain he became in July 1665. Burnet asserts with questionable accuracy (i. 473) that she 'thought herself bound to protect him in a particular manner,' because of 'his father being so violently prosecuted on the account of her marriage.' He seems to have been a vigilant guardian of her interests (cf. Reresby, p.193), although many years later an interminable lawsuit arose between them concerning certain arrears which he considered due to himself in respect of his office (Diary and Correspondence, i. 195 (1685), ii. 155 et al.) With many of the most prominent members of the court and council, however, and with the king himself, the son was not more popular than the father, whom in disposition he much resembled. The company in which he took pleasure was such as Evelyn's, who as early as 1664 helped him to plant the park at Cornbury (Evelyn, ii. 174, 168-9). In parliament, where he spoke neither unfrequently nor ineffectively, he like his brother courageously raised his voice on behalf of his father on the occasion of his impeachment in 1667 (Lister, ii. 426), and after his fall Lord Cornbury became a steady opponent of the court party and the cabal (cf. Pepys, v. 179). Not less than twenty speeches by him are extant from 1673 alone (in Grey's Debates, vol. ii.; cf. Douglas, i. xi), and his denunciation of the scandalous immorality of Buckingham and his attack upon Arlington are alike to the credit of his courage. On his father's death in 1674 he succeeded to the earldom of Clarendon (as to his visit to France at this time see the Abbé Montagu's letter, ap. Lister, iii. 488); but it was not till 1680, when the state of parties was more equally balanced, that he was, through the influence of his brother-in-law, the Duke of York, made a privy councillor. About the same time he was named keeper of Denmark (Somerset) House and treasurer and receiver-general of the queen's revenues, and the duke would have willingly seen him made secretary of state (Diary and Correspondence, i. 49). At this, as in most other seasons of his life, he seems to have been much hampered by pecuniary troubles (ib. i. 18-19, and note; cf. Burnet, i. 472).

The friendship of the Duke of York led to his inclusion with his brother among those against whom the commons early in January 1681 addressed the king as persons inclined to popery (Reresby, p. 198; Burnet, ii. 255). In Clarendon's case the accusation is absurd on the face of it, but it may for a time have stood him in good stead. His reputation for loyalty was such that he could afford to visit in the Tower both Essex in 1683 (Burnet, p. 294), and in the new reign Monmouth, and to plead the cause of Alice Lisle when under sentence by Jeffreys (Macauley, i. 638). Immediately on the accession of James II Clarendon had been appointed to the great office of lord privy seal in the place of Halifax, and during the earlier part of the year had in various ways exerted himself on behalf of the throne (Diary and Correspondence, i. 136 seqq., 147, 181-3). In September 1685 his office of privy seal was put into commission (Evelyn being one of the commissioners, Diary, ii. 475), and he was named lord-lieutenant of Ireland. It may be, as Burnet surmises (iii. 73), that James reckoned on finding a subservient instrument for his Irish policy in his kinsman, the head of a broken house (cf. Evelyn, ii. 408). But being first and foremost a protestant of the church of England Clarendon could not, except for purely selfish ends, fall in with the policy of governing Ireland for and by the Irish Roman catholics. The Earl of Tyrconnel had been summoned to London from the command of the military forces in Ireland about the date when Clarendon set out for Dublin (December 1685). The journey occupied the better part of four weeks, including Christmas festivities at Chester and a memorable crossing of Penmaenmawr, Carnarvonshire, in three coaches and a wagon (Diary and Correspondence, i. 190-205; Ellis Correspondence, i. 29). On 9 Jan. 1686 the new lord-lieutenant arrived in Dublin. He speedily found his authority overshadowed by that of the absent commander-in-chief, whose return was talked of in London as early as the middle of January (cf. Ellis Correspondence, i. 17-18) and in Dublin from the beginning of March (cf. Diary and Correspondence,i.288). Soon afterwards Clarendon was bluntly apprised by Sunderland of the king's intention to introduce large numbers of Roman catholics into the Irish judicial and administrative system, as well as into the army (ib. p. 293). Clarendon, while he sought to allay the panic which spread among the Dublin protestants, complained bitterly of the position in which he was placed. He conformed to the wishes of the king and of the extreme party, by warning bishops and preachers against offending Roman catholic feeling, and by admitting Roman catholics as councillors and as officers of the army, as well as by urging their admission into town corporations (ib. pp. 258, 282, 399-400, 417,461). But he thoroughly disliked the policy, although he only permitted himself certain guarded protests against it to the king (ib. pp. 298, 338). When in June 1686 Tyrconnel actually returned with full powers as commander-in-chief, Clarendon still clung to his office, striving to keep his 'natural unfortunate temper' under manifold provocations and indignities inflicted upon him by 'the huffing great man' (Evelyn, iii. 425; cf. Diary and Correspondence, i. 466, 474, 481, and Clarendon's letter to the king, ib. p. 494).

In August 1686 Tyrconnel, who had entirely transformed the army, and even made a change in the command of the lord lieutenant's own bodyguard, visited England to obtain the king's permission for the completion of his work by undoing the Act of Settlement, which Clarendon was desirous of upholding (ib. p. 560). Clarendon sent many protests to both king and queen during his rival's absence (ib. p. 556; cf. ii. 18, 21-2); but as his brother's influence visibly sank, he began to doubt whether his complaints were ever permitted to reach the king (ib. ii. 26, 32, 43, 51). At last he came to the conclusion that no hope of retaining his post in Ireland remained except through the kindness of the queen (ib. pp. 45, 66), and even this support he feared to have forfeited for some petty reason (ib. pp. 79-80). Not until about three weeks after the dismissal of Rochester (8 Jan. 1687), did he receive his letter of recall from Sunderland (ib. pp. 134 sqq.) Tyrconnel, who took Clarendon's place (cf. Reresby, p. 369), had a final interview with the outgoing viceroy on 8 Feb. On 21 Feb. Clarendon landed at Neston in Cheshire (Ellis Correspondence, i. 246). He had taken the precaution of carrying with him the books of the stores, with the design, as Tyrconnel suggested to Dartmouth, of leaving his successor in the dark (Dartmouth MSS. 132).

Clarendon at the time solemnly placed on record his resolution that nothing should tempt him to contribute in the least to the prejudice of the English protestant interest (Diary and Correspondence, ii. 143). His friends hoped that his royal brother-in-law, who granted him several private audiences during the month after his arrival (Ellis Correspondence, i.252), would restore to him the privy seal. It was, however, given on 16 March 1687 to a zealous Roman catholic, Lord Arundell of Wardour (Evelyn, iii. 32), and Clarendon had to withdraw into private life. Evelyn (ib. p. 40) in August 1687 records a visit to Swallowfield, where Lord Cornbury was on a visit to his father; the earl was at the time sorely troubled by a marriage project of his eldest son, from the difficulty of raising the sums required for a settlement on the encumbered family estates (Diary and Correspondence, i. 200; ii. 180-2; cf. Burnet, iii. 331, note; Ellis Correspondence, ii. 42-4). To relieve himself of pecuniary difficulties he engaged in speculations, ranging from the digging for coal in Windsor forest to the traffic of Scotch pedlars (Diary and Correspondence, i. 284). A pension of 2,000l. per annum conferred on him by James II about the beginning of 1688 was probably welcome, although Halifax thought it inadequate (ib. ii. 155). Macaulay (iii. 33) ignores it.

Clarendon more than ever identified his interests with those of the church. While in Ireland he had received a mark of confidence from Oxford by being named high steward of the university (5 Jan. 1686, Doyle), and on leaving England he had done his best to keep the ecclesiastical appointments open for better days. He advised the bishops in the Tower concerning their bail (Diary and Correspondence, ii. 177), and was asked by Jeffreys to use his good offices with Sancroft (ib. p. 180). Accordingly the course of events soon made the queen, whose goodwill Clarendon had while in Ireland persistently wooed, and on whose council he had been placed in 1681, anxious in her turn for his countenance (ib.} On 24 Sept. 1688, the day after her friendly reception of him, Clarendon found the king himself, in view of the Dutch preparations for invasion, anxious to 'see what the Church of England men will do.' ' And your majesty will see that they will behave themselves like honest men, though they have been somewhat severely used of late' (ib. p. 189). By-and-by he became still more resolute, and on 22 Oct., at the council summoned by the king to hear his declaration concerning the birth of the Prince of Wales, declined to sit by the side of Father Petre, and asked to attend as a peer only (ib. ii. 195-6; cf. Evelyn, iii. 57). On the other hand, he seems to have loyally used his influence with the Princess Anne (Diary and Correspondence, pp. 199, 201); so that the king may have been sincere in crediting (1 Nov.) his assurance that he had had no concern in the invitation to the Prince of Orange (ib. p.200). Unfortunately, nine days after the landing of the prince followed the desertion to him of Lord Cornbury (14 Nov.), which was afterwards, with some show of reason, thought to have ' begun the general defection' (Clarke, Life of James II, ii. 215). The anguish of Clarendon, who immediately (16 Nov.) threw himself at the feet of the king and queen, was probably genuine, though its motives may have been complex. His wife was not in the secret of the flight of the Princess of Denmark (ib. p.226), in which, according to the Duchess of Marlborough, he would have well liked to have had a chance of sharing (Conduct of the Duchess of Marlborough, p.18). In the council of peers called by the king on his return to discuss the question of summoning a free parliament (27 Nov.) Clarendon inveighed unsparingly against the royal policy (Diary and Correspondence, ii. 204-9; cf. Burnet, iii. 340, and Dartmouth's note); and on 1 Dec. he set out for Salisbury to make his peace with William. On 3 Dec. he had an interview with the prince at Berwick, near Hindon, and speedily made up his mind, with a view to the interests of the family as well as to the destinies of the country, to tender his support to the prince (Diary and Correspondence, ii. 213, 216-17). He was present at the Hungerford conference on 8 Dec., and followed the advance of the prince as far as Henley, where, on 13 Dec., he obtained leave of absence, wearily informing his friend the bishop of Ely that 'all was naught' (ib. p.225). By the prince's desire he waited on him again at Windsor on 16 Dec., and took heart to present to him his brother Rochester. It was at the conference held at Windsor that Clarendon was said to have suggested the confinement of King James to the Tower (Conduct of the Duchess of Marlborough, p.18; cf. Vindication of the Duchess, pp. 5-7); while, according to Burnet (iii. 355), improved by Macaulay (ii. 64), he proposed his relegation to Breda. He himself distinctly declares that, except at the Windsor meeting, he had never been present at any discourse concerning what should be done with King James, but that he was against the king being sent away (Diary and Correspondence, ii. 287). He was certainly now fully alive to the gravity of the crisis, though he may have doubted whether or not he ought to 'kick against the pricks' (cf. Evelyn, Diary, iii. 429); but such efforts as he made to warn the unfortunate king against being hurried into an irretraceable step were frustrated by the flight of which he was informed by the prince himself (ib. p. 234).

Under the new régime Clarendon at first continued to bear himself as the representative of the protestant interest in Ireland, and early in 1689 had several interviews on its behalf with William (Diary and Correspondence, ii. 238, 243, 258). Indeed, Burnet (iii. 368-9) affirms that Clarendon's hopes were set on a return to Dublin, but that Tyrconnel's agents found means to frighten William into altogether declining to discuss Irish affairs with Clarendon, who hereupon took his revenge by `reconciling himself to King James.' He certainly both repudiated the whig assumption of 'abdication,' and the settlement of the crown upon William and Mary, speaking with vehemence against this measure in parliament, and afterwards refusing to take the oaths to the new government (Diary and Correspondence, ii. 260 sqq.; cf. Burnet, iii. 376). He remonstrated with his younger niece Anne as to her unconcern about her father's misfortunes (Diary and Correspondence, ii. 249); while with the loss of Queen Mary's favour he, of course, abandoned all present prospect of office (Evelyn, iii. 70). He spent part of the summer of 1689 'for his health' at Tunbridge Wells, and was at other times in the year 'diverting himself' at Swallowfield, Cornbury, and Oxford. Early in 1690 King William, specially irritated by reports that Clarendon had represented him as averse to the interests of the church (Burnet, iv. 51), informed Rochester that but for the queen's sake he would have excepted him, on account of Clarendon's cabals, from the act of grace (Diary and Correspondence, ii. 314). Not long afterwards these suspicions took a more definite shape. He was in frequent intercourse with Richard Graham, lord Preston [q.v.], who was plotting in behalf of James (ib. pp. 306-7). On 24 June, by the express direction of Queen Mary, who wrote to the absent king that she was 'sorrier than it may well be believed' for her uncle, he was placed under arrest, and on the following day lodged in the Tower (ib. pp. 319-20; cf. Evelyn, Diary, iii. 88 ; for Queen Mary's letter see Dalrymple, iii. 75; see Macauley, chap, xv.) Here he remained, under not specially considerate treatment, although his wife bore him company for a time, till 15 Aug. (Diary and Correspondence, ii. 320-9). After his liberation the threads of the conspiracy, the nucleus of which seems to have consisted entirely of protestants, were resumed. When Lord Preston, 31 Dec. 1690, was, on his way to St. Germains, arrested in the Thames, the letters found upon him included one from Clarendon to King James, expressing a hope that the 'marriage' he had been negotiating would soon 'come off,' and adding: 'Your relations have been very hard on me this last summer. Yet, as soon as I could go safely abroad, I pursued the business' (Macauley, iii. 724-5, and see note ib. as to the genuineness of these letters). Preston afterwards named Clarendon among his accomplices, and reaffirmed this statement before King William (ib. iv. 21; cf. Clarke, Life of James II, ii. 443). Clarendon, who (4 Jan. 1691), after being examined before the cabinet council, had been once more consigned to the Tower, remained there for several months. His wife was once more his companion during part of his confinement, and, as on the previous occasion, he was visited by Rochester, Lord Cornbury, and Evelyn. In July he was allowed to go for air into the country under care of his warder; and his release on bail soon followed (Thomas Burnet's, Life of Burnet, vi. 299-301).

The remainder of Clarendon's life was passed in tranquillity at his residences in the country. Cornbury was in 1694, owing to his pecuniary difficulties, denuded of many of the pictures collected by his father, and of at least a great part of its library; and in 1697, or shortly before, was sold by Clarendon to Rochester, though to spare his pride the sale was kept a secret till his death Lewis, i.*43-*47). Of the publication (1702-1704) of the first edition, in three volumes, of the 'History of the Rebellion' by its author's sons, the chief credit belongs to Rochester [q.v.]; but Clarendon took a great interest in the work (ib. i. *84). In 1704 he presented Evelyn with the three printed volumes (Evelyn, Diary, iii. 169).

Clarendon died on 31 Oct. 1709. He has no pretensions to eminence as a statesman; but it is unnecessary to follow Macaulay in concluding private interest to have been the primary motive of his public conduct, or to accept all the cavils of Burnet (i. 472-3) against a man whom he evidently hated. A church of England tory of a narrow type, he was genuinely trusted by the great interest with which, on both sides of St. George's Channel, inherited sentiment and personal conviction identified him. At the time of the catastrophe of King James, he probably drifted further in opposition than he had intended; but there is no proof that he set great hopes for his own future upon the new government, and then became a conspirator through disappointment. In his `Diary (1687-1690) and Correspondence,' which, with the letters of his younger brother Rochester, first appeared in 1828, he appears as a respectable man, devoid neither of principle nor of prejudice, without any striking capacity for the management of affairs of state, and with none at all for the management of his own, at times querulous, and occasionally, as was natural in the friend of so many bishops, rather unctuous in tone. In Macky's 'Characters' he is said to have 'wit, but affectation.' Of his literary tastes his correspondence with Evelyn furnishes some illustrations; he had a remarkably fine collection of medals (Evelyn, iii. 443), and was author of the 'History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church at Winchester, continued by Samuel Gale,' London, 1715, 8vo (Lewis, iii. 378). Lely's portrait of Clarendon (when Lord Cornbury) and of his first wife Theodosia, at the Grove, Watford, is described (ib.) as one of this painter's best pictures.

His son Edward (1661–1724), who succeeded as third earl of Clarendon, was, while Lord Cornbury, M.P. for Wiltshire (1685-95), and for Christchurch (1695-1701); was captain-general and governor-in-chief of New York and New Jersey (1701-8): was made privy councillor 13 Dec. 1711, and was envoy extraordinary to Hanover in 1714. He was married and had a son who predeceased him in 1713, and two daughters.

[For authorities see Hyde, Laurence, Earl of Rochester.]

A. W. W.