Mildmay, Henry (DNB00)

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MILDMAY, Sir HENRY (d. 1664?), master of the king's jewel-house, was second son of Humphrey Mildmay (d. 1613) of Danbury Place, Essex, by Mary (1560–1633), daughter of Henry Capel of Little Hadham, Hertfordshire (Visitations of Essex, Harl. Soc., vol. xiii. pt. i. pp. 252, 452). He was brought up at court, and excelled in all manly exercises. Clarendon terms him a ‘great flatterer of all persons in authority, and a spy in all places for them’ (Rebellion, ed. Macray, iv. 487–8). On 9 Aug. 1617 Mildmay, being then one of the king's sewers, was knighted at Kendal (Metcalfe, Book of Knights, p. 171). In 1619 he made a wealthy match, through the king's good offices (Court and Times of James I, ii. 152), and bought Wanstead House, Essex, of the Marquis of Buckingham, where he entertained James in June of that year (Nichols, Progresses of James I, iii. 454, 483, 553). In April 1620 he was appointed master of the king's jewel-house (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1619–23, p. 140), on 8 Aug. following entered Gray's Inn (Foster, Register, p. 161), and was elected M.P. for Maldon, Essex, of which he became chief steward on 20 Dec. He was chosen one of the tilters before the king on the anniversary of his accession, 24 March 1622 (Nichols, iv. 754). On 3 Feb. 1623–4 he was returned to parliament for Westbury, Wiltshire, and on 12 April 1625 again for Maldon, which he continued to represent in the parliament of 1627–8, and the Short and Long parliaments of 1640 (Members of Parliament, Official Return, pt. i.) In parliament he took part in the great debate on the foreign policy of the crown, 6 Aug. 1625, when, as a friend of Buckingham, he proposed a vote of money for completing the equipment of the fleet against Spain (Gardiner, History, v. 413). On 5 May 1627 the king suspended a statute of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, for the removal of fellows at the time of commencing doctors, or within one year thereafter. Mildmay being anxious, as grandson of Sir Walter Mildmay [q. v.], the founder, to maintain the statute, offered to annex five or six new benefices to the college within six years, and thus obtained its revocation (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1627–8, p. 165). On 4 Aug. 1630 he was appointed a commissioner for compounding with persons selected for knighthood, and likewise a collector (ib. 1629–31, p. 321). In 1639 he accompanied Charles on his expedition to Scotland, and maintained an interesting correspondence with Secretary Windebanke (ib. 1639). As deputy-lieutenant of Essex he endeavoured in May 1640 to collect the ‘conduct-money’ in that county, but found the task little to his liking (ib. 1640, p. 163). On 21 April 1641 he voted against the bill for the attainder of Lord Strafford (Verney Papers, Camden Soc., p. 59).

Mildmay eventually deserted the king, and was appointed one of the committee of the commons on 9 Sept. 1641 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1641–3, p. 201; Clarendon, i. 386). The parliament, regarding him as an important acquisition, refused, despite its ordinance, to expel him for his notorious peculation (Declaration of the King concerning the Proceed ings of this Present Parliament, 12 Aug. 1642; Clarendon, i. 228–229), and allowed him to retain his salary as master of the jewel-house (Whitelocke, Memorials, ed. 1732, p. 106). He made himself useful by acting as master of the ceremonies to foreign ambassadors, and was an active committeeman for Essex (ib. pp. 80, 518, 681). In November 1643 he got into trouble with parliament by saying of Philip, lord Wharton [q. v.], who had raised a regiment for the parliamentary service (Cal. State Papers, 1642–44, p. 366) and subsequently became a member of the council of state (ib. 1644, p. 561), ‘that he had made his peace at Oxon, and therefore was not fit to be entrusted with any public trust’ (Commons' Journals, iii. 300). After endeavouring to shift the blame on Lord Murray he thought it prudent to absent himself from the house. (It was not he but a cousin Sir Henry Mildmay of Woodham Walters and Moulsham who on 17 June 1645 vainly claimed, by petition, the barony of Fitzwalter; see Lords' Journals, vii. 438.) From 1645 to 1652 he was a commissioner for the revenue (cf. the warrants signed by him in Addit. MSS. 21482, 21506, and Egerton MS. 2159). By reason of his wealth Mildmay was one of the hostages left with the Scots in December 1646 (Whitelocke, p. 230). In January 1647–8, on the debate upon the letters of the Scottish commissioners, he made a long speech in praise of Argyll [see Campbell, Archibald, first Marquis of Argyll], and moved that the latter be paid his 10,000l., and the rest of the Scottish debts be continued at interest at 8 per cent. For his ‘good service’ in Hampshire at the trial of Captain John Burley [q. v.] he received the thanks of parliament on 2 Feb. 1647–8 (Whitelocke, p. 290; Walker, Hist. of Independency, edit. 1661, pt. i. p. 79). He was nominated one of the king's judges, and attended on 23 Jan. 1648–9, but abstained from signing the warrant (Nalson, Trial of Charles I, edit. 1684, pp. 2, 50, 52). He was a member of the councils of state elected in 1649, 1650, 1651, and 1652, and sat on the committee appointed to consider the formation of a West India Company, and the regulation of the fishing upon the British coasts (Commons' Journals, vi. 141, 362, 532, vii. 221). In July 1649 parliament ordered the sum of 2,000l. which he had lent to Charles I to be repaid him with interest from the fund accumulated by sales of cathedral lands (ib. vi. 264). When, in the summer of 1650, news reached London that Charles II had landed in Scotland, Mildmay, who had often been sent on a commission to inquire into the state of the late king's three younger children, suggested, as a matter of public safety, that they should be immured in Carisbrooke Castle, of which his brother Anthony was governor (Clarendon, v. 335–6; Mrs. Green, Princesses of England, vi. 381; Thurloe, State Papers, i. 158). Thenceforward he ceased to take a prominent part in affairs, though he signed the remonstrance promoted on 22 Sept. 1656 by Sir Arthur Hesilrige [q. v.] on behalf of the excluded members (Whitelocke, p. 653). When ordered, on 15 May 1660, to attend the committee appointed to consider Charles II's reception, and give an account of the whereabouts of the crowns, robes, sceptres, and jewels belonging to the king, Mildmay attempted to escape abroad, but was seized by Lord Winchelsea at Rye, Sussex, and was excepted out of the bill of pardon as to pains and penalties. On his petition he was ordered to be committed to the custody of the serjeant-at-arms instead of to the Tower. On 1 July 1661 he was brought to the bar of the House of Commons, and after evidence had been produced against him, and he had been made to confess his guilt, he was degraded from his honours and titles. He was likewise sentenced to be drawn every year on the anniversary of the king's sentence (27 Jan.) upon a sledge through the streets to and under the gallows at Tyburn, with a rope about his neck, and so back to the Tower, there to remain a prisoner during his life (Commons' Journals, viii. 26, 37, 38, 60, 66, 285, 286; Pepys, Diary, ed. Bright, i. 407, 528–9). In a petition to the House of Lords, dated 25 July, he prayed for commiseration, alleging that he was present at the trial only to seek some opportunity of saving the king's life (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. pp. ix. 150). On 31 March 1664 a warrant was issued for Mildmay's transportation to Tangier, but on account of his feeble health he was allowed a servant (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1663–1664, pp. 536, 561). He died, after setting out on the journey, between April 1664 and May 1665 at Antwerp (Pepys, iii. 156), where a friend had a picture taken of him as he lay dead, to confute the popular notion that no regicide could die a natural death. It is now in the possession of Sir Henry B. P. St. John Mildmay. Most of his vast accumulations were forfeited to the crown, his estate at Wanstead being granted to James, duke of York. By his marriage, in April 1619, to Anne, daughter and coheiress of William Hallyday, alderman of London, he had two sons, William (b. 1623), and Henry, who was admitted of Gray's Inn on 26 April 1656 (Foster, p. 277), and three daughters, Susan, Anne, and Mary. In the British Museum are Mildmay's letters to Sir Thomas Barrington in 1643 (Egerton MSS. 2643, 2647), letter to the parliamentary committee at Southampton in 1645 (Addit. MS. 24860, f. 114), and a guarantee on a loan for pay of troops in Essex in 1643 (Egerton MS. 2651, f. 146); there are also letters of his in the Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian Library (Lords' Journals, vols. vi. x).

[Morant's Essex, i. 30, ii. 29; Noble's Lives of the English Regicides; the Traytor's Pilgrimage from the Tower to Tyburn; Bramston's Autobiog. (Camd. Soc.), p. 28; Coxe's Cat. Cod. MSS. Bibl. Bodl. pt. iv. p. 1025.]

G. G.