Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mordaunt, Henry (1624?-1697)

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MORDAUNT, HENRY, second Earl of Peterborough (1624?–1697), cavalier, eldest son of John, first earl of Peterborough, by Elizabeth, only daughter and heir of William, lord Howard of Effingham, was born about 1624. His grandfather, Henry, fourth lord Mordaunt, a strict Roman catholic, lay for a year in the Tower on suspicion of complicity in the Gunpowder plot, and died in 1608. His grandfather's widow, Lady Margaret, daughter of Henry, lord Compton, being also a staunch adherent of the ancient faith, was deprived by James I of the custody of her eldest child, John, afterwards first Earl of Peterborough (d. 1642), who was made a ward of Archbishop Abbot, and educated in protestant principles at Oxford. Removed to court by the king, who was struck by his beauty and intelligence, the first earl was made a K.B. on the occasion of Prince Charles being created Prince of Wales, 3 Nov. 1616, and was remitted a fine of 10,000l. which had been imposed upon and left unpaid by his father. By Charles I he was created Earl of Peterborough, by letters patent of 9 March 1627-8. On the outbreak of the civil war he adhered to the parliament, and held the commission of general of the ordnance under the Earl of Essex, but he died of consumption, 18 June 1642. He left, besides his heir, Henry, the second earl, a son John, afterwards Lord Mordaunt of Reigate and Viscount Mordaunt of Avalon [q. v.]; and a daughter, Elizabeth, who married Thomas, son and heir to Edward Howard, first lord Howard of Escrick [q. v.]

Henry, the second earl, was educated at Eton, under Sir Henry Wotton, and shortly before the outbreak of the civil war was sent to France to be out of harm's way. He returned to England in 1642, and served for a little while in the parliamentary army, but in April 1643 deserted to the king at Oxford. He fought gallantly at Newbury (20 Sept. 1643), being wounded in the arm and thigh, and having his horse shot under him. In command of a regiment raised at his own expense he served in the west during the following summer and winter, but was in France during the later phases of the struggle. In 1646 he returned to England and compounded for his estates. A private interview with Charles as he passed through Ampthill to Hampton Court, in the summer of 1647, prompted him to make a last effort on the king's behalf, and in July of the following year he united with the Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of Holland in raising the royal standard at Dorking. The design was to seize Reigate, but foiled in this, the insurgents were driven back upon Kingston, and eventually dispersed in the neighbourhood of Harrow by the parliamentary forces (7 July) [cf. Rich, Henry, Earl of Holland, 1589?–1649, and Villiers, George, second Duke of Buckingham]. Mordaunt was severely wounded, but escaped to Antwerp, and in the following year returned to England and recompounded for his estates (May 1649). On the Restoration, Peterborough was appointed (6 Sept. 1661) governor of Tangier, of which he took possession on 30 Jan 1661-2, but being inadequately provided with men and money for the defence and development of the place, and harassed by intrigues on the part of his subordinates, he resigned his command for a life pension of 1,000l. in the course of a few months. On his return to England he served in the Dutch war, at first as a volunteer in the fleet of the Earl of Sandwich, afterwards in command of a ship under the Duke of York (1664-5). In 1670 he was appointed groom of the stole to the Duke of York, and on 24 Feb. 1672-3 ambassador extraordinary to arrange the terms of his proposed marriage with the Archduchess Claudia Felicitas of Innsbruck. He had hardly crossed the Channel, however, when the news of the emperor's determination to marry the archduchess himself put an end to the project. He was then commissioned to ascertain the respective personal and other attractions of the Princess Mary of Modena [q. v.], and several other ladies between whom the duke's choice lay, and Mary having been fixed upon, proceeded to Modena in the following August as ambassador extraordinary to arrange the match. After some demur on the score of religion, the pope refusing a dispensation for the marriage of the princess with a prince who was not a declared catholic, the scruples of the family were overcome, Peterborough being proxy for the duke (30 Sept. 1673). Peterborough then escorted the princess to England, landing at Dover on 21 Nov.

On 10 July 1674 Peterborough was sworn of the privy council, and in 1676 was appointed deputy earl-marshal. In 1680 he was deprived of that office and his pension, and excluded from the council, on suspicion of complicity in the so-called Popish plot. Nevertheless, though suffering from fever, he had himself carried down to Westminster Hall, in order to vote against the condemnation of Lord Stafford (7 Dec.) In October 1681 he was summoned to Scotland by the Duke of York, whom he attended on his return to England in the following March. On 28 Feb. 1682-3 he was restored to his place in the council. He bore St. Edward's sceptre at the coronation of James II, by whom on 19 April 1685 he was appointed groom of the stole. On 18 June following he was made K.G., and soon afterwards colonel of the 3rd regiment of horse. In March 1686-7 he was received into the Roman church. At the revolution he attempted to make his escape from the country, but was taken near Ramsgate and committed to the Tower (24 Dec. 1688). On 26 Oct. 1689 he was impeached of high treason 'in departing from his allegiance, and being reconciled to the church of Rome.' The proceedings, however, abated by the subsequent dissolution, and on 9 Oct. 1690 he was released on bail. In February 1695-6 he again fell under suspicion of treasonable practices, and was confined to his own house, but was enlarged in the following May. Peterborough was lord of the manors of Turvey in Bedfordshire and Drayton in Northamptonshire, and was for many years lord-lieutenant of the latter county. He died on 19 June 1697, and was buried in the parish church of Turvey.

Peterborough married, in 1644, Lady Penelope O'Brien, daughter of Barnabas, sixth earl of Thomond, by whom he had two daughters: Elizabeth, who died unmarried, and Mary, who married Henry Howard, seventh duke of Norfolk [q. v.], from whom she was divorced in 1700. The Countess of Peterborough was groom of the stole to Mary of Modena, and survived till April 1702.

In his later years Peterborough gratified his pride and amused his leisure by compiling, with the assistance of his chaplain, 'Succinct Genealogies of the Noble and Ancient Houses of Alno or De Alneto, Latimer of Duntish, Drayton of Drayton, Mauduit of Werminster, Greene of Drayton, Vere of Addington, Fitz-Lewes of Westhornedon, Howard of Effingham, and Mordaunt of Turvey. Justified by Publick Records, Ancient and Extant Charters, Histories, and other Authentic Proofs, and enriched with divers Sculptures of Tombs, Images, Seals, and other Curiosities,' London, 1685, fol. The work is of extreme rarity, only a very few copies, probably not more than twenty-five in all, having been printed. It bears the pseudonym Robert Halstead on the title page,and is dedicated to Peterborough, whose life is narrated at length, while his brother is barely mentioned (cf. Dibdin, Ædes Althorpianæ, p. 186; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vi. 553, 4th ser. iii. 481, 541, iv. 18; Lowndes, Bibl. Man.)

[The principal authority is the Succinct Genealogies above mentioned. Subsidiary authorities are: Nichols's Progresses of James I, i. 221, ii. 333, iii. 215; Nicolas's Hist. of British Knighthood, vol. ii. Chron. List, p. lxviii, vol. iii. Chron. List, p. xv; Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. App. p. 272, 5th Rep. App. p. 151, 7th Rep. App. pp. 467, 485, 490, 496, 744, 8th Rep. App. p. 280, 9th Rep. App. pp. 83, 112, 10th Rep. App. pt. iv. p. 64, 11th Rep. App. pt. v. pp. 228, 231, pt. vii. p. 30; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1645-7 p. 571, 1648-9 p. 173, 1649-50 p. 529, 1650 p. 561, 1655 p. 220, 1664-5 pp. 56, 275, 537; Cal. Committee for Compounding, &c., 1665-6, p. 500; A Letter from Hampton Court, 1648, 4to; The Declaration of the Right Hon. the Duke of Buckingham and the Earles of Holland and Peterborough, &c., 1648, 4to; A Perfect Diurnal, 3-10 July 1648, and Perfect Occurrences, 7-14 July 1648 (King's Pamphlets E. 451 and 525); Whitelocke's Mem. p. 317; Bulstrode's Mem., 1721, p. 169; Evelyn's Diary, 1 Dec. 1661, 9 July 1677, 7 Feb. 1685; Pepys's Diary, ed. Lord Braybrooke; Chamberlayne's Angliæ Notitia, 1670 and 1677; Clarendon's Rebellion, book xi. §§ 5-7; Life, 1827, ii. 356; Burnet's Own Time, fol. i. 353, 360, 477, 591, 606; Reresby's Mem. ed. Cartwright, pp. 334, 424; Hatton Corresp. (Camden Soc.), i. 109-10, 201-202, 214; Luttrell's Relation of State Affairs, i. 17, 60, 336, 339, 355; Cobbett's State Trials, vii. 1553; Howell's State Trials, xii. 1234, 1238; Clarendon and Rochester Corresp.; Macpherson's Hist. of Great Britain, i. 187, 301; Clarendon State Papers, ii. 480; Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, iii. 319 et seq.; Burke's Extinct Peerage; Archdall's Peerage of Ireland, ii. 38; Klopp's Fall des Hauses Stuart, i. 354 et seq.; Strickland's Lives of the Queens of England, Mary of Modena, chap. i.; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. vii. 93; Bridges's Northamptonshire, ii. 239, 250, 380; Baker's Northamptonshire; Lysons's Mag. Brit. i. 147; Reilly's Hist. Anecdotes of the Families of the Boleynes, Careys, Mordaunts, &c., 1839; Russell's Earl of Peterborough and Monmouth, 1887.]

J. M. R.