Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 52.djvu/248

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

he and Lord Southampton met the new French ambassador, Marquis de Rosné, afterwards Duc de Sully, at Canterbury and escorted him to London. Queen Anne of Denmark noticed him favourably, and he was nominated her chamberlain (14 July), the surveyor-general of her revenues (10 Nov. 1603), steward of her Kentish manors, and a member of her council (9 Aug. 1604). He was thenceforth prominent in all court functions. He was created Viscount Lisle on 4 May 1605; the title had been extinct since the death of his uncle, the Earl of Warwick.

Sidney, like his brother, interested himself in colonial exploration. He was a subscriber of 90l. to the second Virginian charter, and on 23 May 1609 was made a member of the Virginia Company. He also belonged to the East India and North-West Passage companies. In 1612, on the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth to the elector palatine, Lord Lisle attended the bridal party in its progress through Holland to Heidelberg, and on taking leave of the princess and her husband visited some German baths (Green, Princesses of England, v. 227, 237, 249). In 1616 he acted as a special envoy to arrange with the united provinces of the Low Countries the surrender of Flushing, of which James had reappointed him governor in 1603, and of the other cautionary towns. The successful accomplishment of this task was rewarded by his creation as K.G. on 26 May 1616, and two years later he was appointed a commissioner to report on the condition of the order. On 2 Aug. 1618 the earldom of Leicester, which had lapsed on the death of his uncle, was revived in his favour, and the ceremony of creation was performed by the king in the hall of the bishop's palace at Salisbury. In 1620 he was nominated a commissioner for ecclesiastical causes, and in 1621 he was admitted to the council of war, which was appointed to consider the feasibility of English intervention in the war in Germany in behalf of the elector palatine.

Leicester spent all his leisure at Penshurst, and his happy domestic life there was charmingly described by Ben Jonson in a poem called ‘Penshurst,’ which appeared in Jonson's ‘Forest.’ According to Jonson, James I visited Leicester at Penshurst when on a hunting expedition. Like his brother Philip, Leicester was interested in music and literature. He was godfather to Robert Dowland [q. v.], who dedicated to him his ‘Musicall Banquet’ in 1610. The words of the songs to which Dowland here set the music are said to have been written by Leicester and Sir Henry Lee [q. v.] Robert Jones (fl. 1616) [q. v.] also dedicated to him his ‘Second Booke of Songs’ in 1601. Leicester died at Penshurst on 13 July 1626, and was buried there on the 16th.

His wife Barbara, whom Ben Jonson eulogised for her wifely virtues, died in May 1621, having borne her husband ten children—two sons and eight daughters. Three folio volumes of letters addressed to her by her husband between 1588 and 1620 are at Penshurst. The eldest son, William, one of whose birthdays Ben Jonson celebrated in a charming poem, was knighted on 8 Jan. 1610–11, and died unmarried in 1613, when Joshua Sylvester published an elegy; the second son, Robert, second earl of Leicester [q. v.], is noticed separately. Of the daughters, Mary married Sir Robert Wroth [q. v.], and made some reputation in literature; Elizabeth Catherine married Sir Lewis Mansell, bart., of Margam; Philippa married Sir John Hobart, son of Sir Henry Hobart [q. v.], and from her descended John Hobart, first earl of Buckinghamshire [q. v.]; and Barbara was wife, first, of Sir Thomas Smythe, viscount Strangford, and, secondly, of Sir Thomas Colepepper.

The first earl married, secondly, Sarah, widow of Sir Thomas Smythe, knt., of Bidborough, Kent, and daughter and heiress of William Blount. She died in 1656.

A picture containing full-length life-size portraits of Leicester and his brother Philip as boys is now at Penshurst. A portrait of him late in life, by Van Somer, is also at Penshurst. There is an engraving of him, while Viscount Lisle, by Simon Pass.

[Sydney Papers, ed. Collins, i. 110 seq. et passim, where numerous letters from him and his steward, Rowland White, are printed in full; Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. (papers at Penshurst); Doyle's Official Baronage; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1590–1618; Fox Bourne's Life of Sir Philip Sidney, 1891; Cal. Hatfield MSS.; Willet's Synopsis Papismi, 1600, p. 961; Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 411; Nichols's Leicestershire, i. 540–1, 544; Brown's Genesis of the United States, ii. 1003 seq.]

S. L.

SIDNEY, ROBERT, second Earl of Leicester (1595–1677), eldest surviving son of Robert Sidney, first earl of Leicester [q. v.], by his first wife, Barbara, daughter and heiress of John Gamage of Coity, Glamorganshire, was born on 1 Dec. 1595 (Collins, Sydney Papers, i. 120; Doyle, Official Baronage, ii. 347). Sidney matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, on 27 Feb. 1607, was made a knight of the Bath on 3 June 1610, and was admitted to Gray's Inn on 25 Feb. 1618 (Foster, Alumni Oxon. i. 1449; Gray's Inn Register, p. 149). His father, who was go-