Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 4.djvu/876

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DIGBY


792


DIGBY


Gillow's "Dictionary". His long, studious, and re- tired life closed at Shaftesbury House, Kensington, in his eighty-first year, after a very short illness. His wife was Jane Mary, daughter of Thomas Dillon, of Mount Dillon, Co. Dublin, who bore him a son and four daughters.

Cooper in Diet. Nat. Biog. s. v.; Gillow. Bihl. Did. Eng. Cath., s. v.; Tablet (London, 27 March, 18S0) ; Weekly Regis- ter (London. 27 March, ISSO); Times, (London, 24 March, 1880); Dublin Review (London). XXV, 463, XLVIII, 526; Athenwum (London, 1880), I. 411, 440.

C. T. BOOTHMAN.

Digby, Sir Everard, b. 16 May, 1578; d. 30 Jan., 1606. Everard Digby, whose father bore the same Christian name, succeeded in his fourteenth year to large properties in the Counties of Lincoln, Leicester, and Rutland. Arrived at man's estate, he was dis- tinguished for his great stature and bodily strength, as well as for his accomplished horsemanship and skill in field sports generally, to which he was much devoted. For some time he frequented the court of Queen Eliz- abeth. In 1596 he married Mary, only daughter and heiress of William Mulsho of Goathurst, Buckingham- shire, with whom he obtained a large accession of for- tune, and by whom he had two sons, Kenelm, born in 1603, and John, in 1605. About 1599 Digby, who, although his parents seem to have been Catholics, had been brought up a Protestant, made the acquaintance of the Jesuit Father, John Gerard, with the result that both he and his wife were converted to the Catholic Faith, and he formed with Gerard so close a friendship that they were accustomed to speak of each other as " brothers ". In 160<3 he was one of those who assem- bled at Belvoir Castle to welcome James I on his prog- ress towards London, and he was knighted by the new king on the 23rd of April in that year.

In spite of what might have appeared so auspicious a commencement, there soon followed the fatal Pow- der Plot, which brought Sir Everard's career to an ignommious close by a traitor's death, while yet only in his twenty-eighth year. It is for his share in this, almost exclusively, that he is now remembered. In the "Dictionary of National Biography" he is com- pendiously described as Conspirator", and one of his descendants has recently published his biography un- der the title "Life of a Conspirator". In truth, how- ever, of all who had a share in the criminal folly of that deplorable enterprise, there is none to whom the title can less properly be applied, for he had no part either in the conception of the plot, or in the preparation for its accomplishment, and was not even aware of its exist- ence till the eleventh hour. His initiation in the secret was due to the lack of funds. Owing to the delay occasioned by an unexpected prorogation of Parliament, Catesby, the ringleader of the whole de- sign, finding his own treasury exhausted, sought to enlist as associates some men of substance. One of these was Digby, who was inducted and sworn in "about a week after Michaelmas", 1605, or just a month before the fatal 5th of November.

When the time of action approached, Digby was as- signed the part of preparing for the rising which was to follow the explosion in London, and to put the con- duct of affairs into the hands of the conspirators once the blow was struck. For this purpose he rented Coughton Hall, the seat of the Throckmortons, near Alcester, and arranged for a great "hunting match" upon Dunsmoor Heath, near Rugby, to which many Catholic gentlemen were to be gathered, and which was fixed for the 5th of November itself. When the news of the catastrophe at Westminster should arrive, it was hoped that the party so assembled, when they heard what had happened, would form the nucleus of a force by means of which the further designs of the conspirators might be carried out.

When, on the evening of the 5th, Catesby and others arrived with tidings of the discovery of their design


and the arrest of Faukes, Digby joined them in their desperate attempt to raise a rebellion, and was captured with the survivors of the party at Holbeche on the 8th. At their trial on the 27th of January, Digby, who alone pleaded guilty, was arraigned separately from the rest, but received the same sentence of death, with all the ghastly barbarities usual in cases of trea- son. Three days later, .30 January, with three of his accomplices, Robert Winter, Grant, and Bates, he suffered in St. Paul's churchyard, being the first to mount the scaffold, where he confessed his guilt, ex- pressed shame for his infatuation, and solemnly pro- tested that his friend. Father Gerard, had no knowl- edge of the plot, in or out of confession, adding, "I never durst tell him of it, for fear he would have drawn me out of it". It is a remarkable circum- stance, lending some colour to the belief that in later days the king did not believe in the genuine character of the danger he was said to have escaped, that Sir Everard's son, Kenelm, was knighted by James in October, 1623, when he had not completed his twenty- first year. His description of the beha^dour of James on that occasion has been borrowed by Sir Walter Scott in the "Fortunes of Nigel", for the knighting of Richard Moniplies. The younger son, John, was knighted by Charles I, in 1635, and fell in the CivU War as a major-general in the royal army.

Gardiner, Hist, of England (1883-84), I; Id., Wfiat the Gun- powder Plot Was; Jardine, Criminal Trials, II; John Gerard (the elder), ed. Morris. Condition of Catholics; The Life of a Conspirator, by one of his Descendants; John Gerard (the younger). What was the Gunpowder Plot; Foley, Records of the English Province, S. J., II; Calendar of State Papers.

John Gerard.

Digby, Sir Kenelm, physicist, naval commander, and diplomatist, b. at Gayhurst (Goathurst), Bucking- hamshire, England, 11 July, 1603 ;d. in Covent Garden, Westminster, 11 June, 1665. He was the eldest son of Sir Everard Digby, Kt., of Drystoke, Rutland, by Marj', daughter and coheir of William Mulshaw(Mulsho) of Gayhurst. His father was drawn into the Gun- powder Plot and was executed; nevertheless, after liti- gation, young Kenelm inherited unconfiscated lands worth $15,000 a year. In 1618 he entered Gloucester Hall, now Worcester College, Oxford. Here he was under the care of Thomas Allen, the mathematician and occultist, imder whose congenial teaching he made wonderful progress in physical science. Allen event- ually bequeathed to his brilliant pupil his books and MSS., which Sir Kenelm gave to the Bodleian Libraiy. In 1620, Digby left Oxford without a degree. By this time he was deeply in love with Venitia, the beautiful daughter of Sir Edward Stanley, Kt., of Tonge Cas- tle, Shropshire. His mother opposing the match, he withdrew to the Continent, visiting France and Italy and finally Spain. In ilarch, 1623, shortly after his arrival at Madrid, the Prince of Wales (.afterwards King Charles I) reached that city upon his well-known matrimonial project, and Digby became one of his household, accompanying the prince back to England upon that project's failure. Digby was now dubbed a knight by King James I. The next momentous event in his career was his marriage with Venitia, which took place privily in 1625. Though the lady's ante-nuptial reputation was not spotless, yet their conjugal life was happy, and she bore him four sons and a daughter. In 1627 Digby undertook a priva- teering expedition against the French ships anchored in the Venetian haven of Iskanderim or Alexandretta. Having got King Charles's leave and taken out letters of marque, he sailed from Deal with two well-equipped ships about Christmas, and after various adventures on the voyage, he reached Iskanderun 10 June, 1628. On the morrow he gave battle to the French and \'enetian galleys there fovnid in the bay, coming off victorious and returning leisurely to England, where he landed in the following February.