Jermyn, Henry (d.1684) (DNB00)

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JERMYN, HENRY, Earl of St. Albans (d. 1684), was second son of Sir Thomas Jermyn, knt., by Mary Barber. In 1624 Jermyn was gentleman in attendance on the embassy to Paris, and in 1628 he represented Liverpool in parliament. On 2 July 1628 he was appointed vice-chamberlain to the queen (Doyle, Official Baronage, iii. 211). Jermyn's rise was entirely owing to his skill in courtly arts, and the consequent favour of the queen. In 1633, when Lord Holland, in the queen's quarrel, challenged Lord Weston, Jermyn carried the challenge and was imprisoned for his action (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1633–4, pp. 12, 16). A month later Jermyn was involved in fresh trouble on account of his seduction of Eleanor Villiers, one of the queen's maids of honour, and was for a time banished from the court because he refused to atone for his offence by marrying her (Clarendon, Life, i. 13; Strafford Letters, i. 174). But the queen's favour was undiminished, and on 2 Sept. 1639 Jermyn was appointed master of the horse to her. He represented Corfe Castle in the first parliament of 1640, and St. Edmundsbury in the Long parliament (Doyle, iii. 211). In March 1641 Jermyn took a leading part in what was known as ‘the first army plot;’ concerted with Suckling and Goring the means of bringing the army from the north to overawe the parliament, and persisted in the plan, even after the king had expressed his disapproval, and the leading officers themselves had refused to countenance it. On the revelation of the plot Jermyn fled to Portsmouth ‘in a black satin suit with white boots,’ bearing with him the king's order to Goring to provide a ship for his escape to France (Rushworth, iv. 274; Husband, Exact Collection of Ordinances, 4to, 1643, pp. 215–27; Gardiner, History of England, x. 312). As soon as hostilities began, Jermyn was busily engaged in providing war material and soldiers for the king (Lords' Journals, v. 265). He returned to England in 1643, acted as secretary to the queen and colonel of her bodyguard, and commanded the little army which escorted her to Oxford and captured Burton-on-Trent (Green, Letters of Henrietta Maria, pp. 181, 205, 222). In the skirmish at Auburn Chase on 18 Sept. 1643, Jermyn ‘received a shot in his arm with a pistol, owing the preservation of his life from other shots to the excellent temper of his arms’ (Clarendon, Rebellion, vii. 208). But he was always more prominent in the court than the field. On 8 Sept. 1643 he was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Jermyn of St. Edmundsbury (Forty-seventh Report of the Deputy-Keeper of Public Records, p. 122). On the queen's behalf Jermyn entered into negotiations with the Earl of Holland, induced him to desert the parliament (August 1643), and promised him restoration to favour, but was unable to persuade the king's council to give him a cordial reception (Clarendon, Rebellion, vii. 188, 241). Jermyn's freedom from personal scruples and political principles made him a useful instrument of the king's foreign policy. The negotiations for the proposed marriage of the Prince of Wales with a daughter of Frederick Henry, prince of Orange, and those designed to obtain the aid of a French army, were mainly conducted by him (Gardiner, Great Civil War, i. 387, 410, 492, ii. 433, 559). He accompanied the queen to France in the summer of 1644, and directed the business part of her correspondence with the king (Green, p. 263; Hist. MSS. Comm. 1st Rep. p. 7). A number of Jermyn's letters were captured and published by the parliament in order to expose the king's attempt to introduce foreign forces (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1644–5, passim; The Lord Digby's Cabinet Opened, &c., 4to, 1646). Jermyn, who had been appointed in 1644 governor of Jersey, proposed to purchase French aid by the cession of the Channel islands, a plan which Hyde, Capel, and Hopton leagued themselves together to frustrate (Clarendon State Papers, ii. 279). He was also employed by the queen to bring the Prince of Wales from Jersey to Paris, and to persuade the king to sacrifice the church of England for the support of the Scots (ib. ii. 244–9, 268–75; Clarendon, Rebellion, x. 22, 57). The king told D'Avenant, Jermyn's envoy, ‘that the Lord Jermyn did not understand anything of the church.’ He did not understand anything of the navy either, but that did not prevent him from intriguing in 1648 to obtain the command of the fleet and aspiring to be made lord high admiral (ib. xi. 34; Nicholas Papers, i. 97). Jermyn's views on foreign and domestic politics brought him into opposition with Hyde, Nicholas, and all the constitutional royalists, whom he hoped by the queen's aid to exclude from the councils of Charles II. From 1649 to 1652 the correspondence of Hyde and Nicholas is full of complaints of his influence. Against their advice he persuaded the young king to accept the offers of Argyll and the Scots (ib. p. 156), and recommended Charles II to attend the Huguenot church at Charenton (Clarendon, Rebellion, xiii. 132). After 1652 his political influence decreased in face of Hyde's predominance. Jermyn was one of the instigators of Long's attack on Hyde (ib. xvi. 72). Hyde complains that Jermyn, who had the management of the queen's finances, contrived also to get large grants from the king's scanty allowance, and was able to keep his carriage and maintain an expensive table when the king's chief councillors were obliged to walk the streets on foot and board at one pistole a week (ib. xiii. 129; cf. Grammont Memoirs, ed. Bohn, p. 107). When Charles II left France for the Netherlands, Jermyn remained at Paris with the queen. At her desire he was created Earl of St. Albans (27 April 1660), and by her, at Mazarin's request, he was despatched in April 1660 to Breda to invite Charles II to return to France and treat with the parliament thence (Clarendon, Rebellion, xvi. 230; Guizot, Richard Cromwell, ed. 1856, i. 429; Clarendon State Papers, iii. 750).

At the Restoration Jermyn received many rewards and offices. He was appointed joint registrar of the court of chancery (6 Sept. 1660), keeper of Greenwich House and Park (24 April 1662), high steward of Kingston (15 May 1671), and lord chamberlain (13 May 1671 to 11 Sept. 1674). Pepys records with disgust the report that Jermyn was likely to be appointed lord treasurer (Diary, 17 Oct. 1662). His influence at court rested largely on his power with the queen-mother and his favour at the French court. Jermyn strongly supported a French marriage for Charles II, and also opposed the recognition of the Duke of York's marriage with Anne Hyde. In the end, however, he undertook the task of effecting a formal reconciliation between Clarendon and Henrietta Maria (Clarendon, Continuation of Life, iii. 63–74; Ranke, History of England, translation, iii. 347). At the beginning of the reign of Charles II he was English ambassador at Paris, and took part in negotiating the Portuguese alliance (Clarendon State Papers, iii. App. i–xxiv). In January 1667, towards the close of the Dutch war, he was sent to Paris to negotiate a separate treaty with France, which resulted in an agreement by which Charles II promised that for a year he would make no alliance hostile to the interests of Louis XIV (Ranke, History of England, iii. 441; Mignet, Négociations relatifs à la Succession d'Espagne, ii. 41; Arlington, Letters to Temple, 1701, pp. 117, 131, 144; Lister, Life of Clarendon, iii. 443). In 1669 he was again ambassador extraordinary to France, and prepared the way for the secret treaty of Dover (Mignet, iii. 83–8, 98). No man did more to further the close union between England and France, which made England the subservient tool of Louis XIV. Charles II used to say that he was ‘more a Frenchman than an Englishman’ (Clarendon, Continuation, p. 1037).

In domestic politics Jermyn took very little part, and devoted himself mostly to gambling and good living. Pepys often refers to his love of play (Diary, 7 Feb. 1661, 29 April 1667; cf. Grammont Memoirs, ed. Bohn, p. 106). Evelyn describes Jermyn's old age: ‘Dining at my Lord Chamberlain's, met my Lord of St. Albans, now grown so blind that he could not see to take his meat. He has lived a most easy life, in plenty even abroad, whilst his majesty was a sufferer; he has lost immense sums at play, which yet, at about 80 years old, he continues, having one that sits by him to name the spots on the cards. He ate and drank with extraordinary appetite. He is a prudent old courtier, and much enriched since his majesty's return’ (Diary, 18 Sept. 1683). Jermyn died in January 1683–4 at his house in St. James's Square (Luttrelll, Diary, i. 294), and was buried at Rushbrooke. A portrait is at Rushbrooke Park. His wealth passed to his nephew, Henry Jermyn, created Lord Dover [q. v.] in 1685, while Charles Beauclerk [q. v.], Charles II's son by Nell Gwynne, was made Duke of St. Albans 10 Jan. 1683–4. Jermyn, who had obtained in 1664 a grant of land in Pall Mall, planned St. James's Square, and built St. Albans (afterwards known as St. James's) Market, destroyed subsequently to make room for Waterloo Place and Regent Street. His name survives in Jermyn Street (Wheatley and Cunningham, London, ii. 284, 298, 306). D'Avenant addresses to Jermyn two of his early poems, and dedicated to him his play entitled ‘The Platonic Lovers’ (D'Avenant, Works, ed. 1673, pp. 247, 251). He is better known as the master and patron of Cowley, who acted for many years as his secretary. Andrew Marvell, in his ‘Last Instructions to a Painter,’ 1667, ll. 29–38, makes a bitter attack on Jermyn, asserting that he rose neither by wit nor courage, and describing his ‘drayman's shoulders’ and ‘butcher's mien.’ The scandalmongers of his own day affirmed that he was secretly married to Henrietta Maria during the exile, but no proof of the story has yet come to light (Pepys, Diary, 22 Nov. 1662; Reresby, Memoirs, p. 4, ed. 1735; Burnet, Own Time, ed. 1833, i. 66 n., 309 n.)

Many of Jermyn's letters are to be found among the Clarendon and Rawlinson MSS. in the Bodleian Library, in Prince Rupert's Correspondence in the British Museum, and among the ‘Domestic State Papers.’

[Authorities cited.]

C. H. F.