Pierrepont, Robert (DNB00)

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PIERREPONT or PIERREPOINT, ROBERT, first Earl of Kingston (1584–1643), born 6 Aug. 1584, was the second son of Sir Henry Pierrepont of Holme Pierrepont, Nottinghamshire, by Frances, daughter of Sir William Cavendish (Doyle, Official Baronage, ii. 298; Life of the Duke of Newcastle, ed. Firth, p. 217). In 1596 he was admitted commoner of Oriel College, Oxford; he gave 100l. towards the rebuilding of the college in 1637, and his arms are in a window of the hall (Shadwell, Regist. Oriel. pp. 83, 84). He was admitted to Gray's Inn in 1600, represented the borough of Nottingham in the parliament of 1601, and was high sheriff of the county in 1615 (Foster, Gray's Inn Register). On 29 June 1627 Pierrepont was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Pierrepont of Hurst Pierrepont and Viscount Newark, and on 25 July 1628 promoted to the dignity of Earl of Kingston-upon-Hull (Doyle, ii. 298). He took no interest in state affairs, but devoted himself entirely to raising a great estate, and for the ten or twelve years previous to the civil war regularly spent about a thousand a year in buying land. The king sent Lord Capel to him in August 1642 to borrow 5,000l. or 10,000l., but Kingston protested he had no money lying by him, and made his investments a pretext for refusing. At the same time he recommended Capel to make an application to Lord Deincourt (Clarendon, vi. 59). When the war broke out he endeavoured at first to remain neutral—‘divided his sons between both parties, and concealed himself.’ To the appeals of the Nottingham committee he answered that he was resolved ‘not to act on either side,’ saying: ‘When I take arms with the king against the parliament, or with the parliament against the king, let a cannon-bullet divide me between them’ (Memoirs of Col. Hutchinson, i. 164, 217, ed. Firth). But finding neutrality impossible, he joined the king, received a commission to raise a regiment of foot (25 March 1643), and was appointed lieutenant-general of the five counties of Lincoln, Rutland, Huntingdon, Cambridge, and Norfolk (3 May 1643; Black, Oxford Docquets, pp. 22, 33). Kingston made Gainsborough his headquarters, speedily collected a considerable force, and attempted, in concert with the royalists of Newark, to surprise Lincoln (Mercurius Aulicus, 12 June 1643; Vicars, Jehovah Jireh, p. 372; Rushworth, v. 278). On 16 July 1643 Lord Willoughby of Parham surprised Gainsborough, and took Kingston prisoner, though he held out in his quarters until the firing of the house forced him to surrender. Willoughby, fearing he would be unable to hold Gainsborough, shipped Kingston and the chief prisoners on board a pinnace, to be conveyed to Hull. On its way down the Trent the royalist batteries fired upon the pinnace, and Kingston was killed. The roundheads reported that he had been cut in two by a cannon-ball, and regarded his fate as a providential fulfilment of the curse he had denounced against himself if he took part in the war (Mercurius Aulicus, 27 July 1643; Vicars, God's Ark, p. 7; Ricraft, England's Champions, p. 35; Memoirs of Col. Hutchinson, i. 217, 223). Kingston's death took place on 25 July 1643. An elegy upon him is printed in Sir Francis Wortley's ‘Characters and Elegies,’ 1646 (p. 34).

Kingston married Gertrude, eldest daughter and coheiress to Henry Talbot, fourth son of George, earl of Shrewsbury, by whom he had five sons and three daughters. His eldest son and successor, Henry, and his second son, William, are separately noticed. His third son, Francis, was a colonel in the parliamentary army, represented Nottingham in the later years of the Long parliament, and died in January 1659. Many of his letters are printed in the Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission on the Duke of Portland's manuscripts, vol. i. Mrs. Hutchinson gives a full account of him in her life of her husband. Of the two younger sons and the daughters, the Duchess of Newcastle gives brief notices (Life of the Duke of Newcastle, ed. Firth, p. 219).

[Doyle's Official Baronage; Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges. A paper on Kingston by Mr. Edward Peacock is printed in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, 2nd ser. ix. 285.]

C. H. F.