Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Schomberg, Meinhard

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

SCHOMBERG, MEINHARD, Duke of Leinster and third Duke of Schomberg (1641–1719), third son of Frederick Herman, duke of Schomberg [q. v.], was born at Cologne on 30 June 1641. He served with his father in Portugal as lieutenant-colonel from 1660 to 1668, and on his return to France was naturalised a French subject. He attained the rank of brigadier and afterwards of marechal-de-camp in the wars against Holland, and, under Marshal Créqui, distinguished himself at Kochersburg on 7 Oct. 1677, before Freiburg on 14 Nov., at Rheinfelden on 6 July 1678, and at Kinzing on the 23rd. He married, on 4 Jan. 1683, Caroline Elizabeth, daughter of Charles Lewis, elector palatine (cf. Dangeau, Journal, xviii. 92), and after the revocation of the edict of Nantes he served against the Turks in Hungary during the campaign of 1686. But, afterwards joining his father at Berlin, he entered the service of the Elector Frederick William, by whom he was appointed general of cavalry and colonel of a corps of dragoons.

Coming to England after the revolution, about March 1689, Schomberg was sent by William with despatches to his father in Ireland in August, and, afterwards obtaining leave to visit Berlin, probably for the purpose of securing his dismission, he returned to England about the beginning of the following year, and on 19 April was appointed general of the horse. He accompanied William to Ireland in June, and distinguished himself at the battle of the Boyne, especially by the fury with which he sought to avenge his father's death. He was present at the first siege of Limerick, where he had a horse shot under him, but appears to have returned to England with William in September. He received letters of naturalisation on 25 April 1691, and in order to place him on a level with his younger brother Charles, who had succeeded his father (by limitation) as duke of Schomberg, he was created Baron of Tarragh, Earl of Bangor, and Duke of Leinster on 3 March 1692. He was appointed lieutenant-general of the British forces during William's absence abroad, and entrusted with the command of the proposed expedition against St. Malo. But, the expedition being abandoned, he joined William in Holland, returning with him to London on 25 Oct. He apparently took great interest in mechanical contrivances, and was the inventor of a diving apparatus ‘for working of wrecks.’ The machine was tried in the Thames on 8 Sept. 1692 (Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 559), and was evidently a success, for on 10 March 1693 he obtained a grant of all wrecks, &c., on the coast of America between latitude 12° S. and 40° N. to be recovered any time within twenty years. That his patent was not allowed to remain a dead letter may be inferred from the fact that, on 19 Dec. 1699, the Dolphin was commissioned to look for a wreck that had been granted to him.

On the death of his brother Charles in October 1693 he succeeded to the English dukedom of Schomberg, and took his seat in the House of Lords on 19 Nov. He was made a privy councillor on 9 May 1695, and on 22 Dec. 1696 the annuity of 4,000l. granted his brother, being the interest at 4 per cent. on the grant of 100,000l. made by parliament to his father, but by him lent to the crown, was confirmed to him. In consequence of the treaty of Ryswick (October 1697), the estates formerly possessed by his father in France were restored to his family, but, the right of inheritance being disputed by his brother Frederick, it was only after the question had been submitted to the law courts of France that it was decided in his favour. The decision, however, proved of little benefit to him, for on the renewal of the war the estates were again confiscated. He was one of the six dukes that supported the pall at William's funeral on 12 April 1702; and becoming a favourite with Queen Anne and her consort, Prince George of Denmark, he obtained a confirmation of his annuity at the increased rate of five per cent. He was appointed commander of the English auxiliary forces supporting the pretensions of the Archduke Charles, known as Charles III, in the war of the Spanish succession, and on 11 Aug. 1703 was elected a knight of the Garter. He reached Lisbon in March 1704; but his manner was so unconciliatory that even his colleagues displayed little anxiety to co-operate with him, while his indifference to the comfort of his troops—encamped at Belleisle, a bleak place near Lisbon—was responsible for much unnecessary suffering, attended by death, among them. In May he took up a position in the neighbourhood of Elvas, subsequently removing to Estremos; but in consequence of the complaints of the Portuguese court, and in compliance with his own request, he was on 11 July superseded by the Earl of Galway [see {{sc|Massue de Ruvigny, Henri de}], and in August returned to England, having during his brief command ‘quarrelled with everybody except the enemy.’ The occasions on which he is reported to have voted in the House of Lords were all connected with ecclesiastical matters—viz. in 1703, when he voted in favour of the bill against occasional conformity; in 1710, when he supported the motion for the impeachment of Dr. Sacheverell; and in 1714, when he voted against the Schism Bill. In 1711 he resigned the colonelcy of the 4th regiment of horse in favour of his son Charles, marquis of Harwich. He was a pall-bearer that year at the Earl of Rochester's funeral, and in 1712 at Earl Godolphin's. His son's untimely death on 5 Oct. 1713 greatly depressed him; and having on the accession of George I resigned, from prudential motives, the additional 1,000l. to his annuity granted him by Anne, he retired from public life, residing chiefly at his country house of Hillingdon, near Uxbridge on the London road (completed by him in 1717), where he died suddenly on Sunday, 5 July 1719. His town house, known as Schomberg House, at present Nos. 81 and 82 Pall Mall, built during the Commonwealth, has an interesting history (see Thornbury, Old and New London, iv. 124–5). He was buried on 4 Aug. in Westminster Abbey in the Duke of Ormonde's vault, in Henry VII's Chapel. Two daughters survived him—viz. Lady Frederica, who was mother, by her first husband, of Robert D'Arcy, fourth earl of Holderness [q. v.] The younger daughter and coheiress, Lady Mary, born 16 March 1692, married Christoph Martin von Degenfeld, from whom the family of Degenfeld-Schomberg descends.

According to Mackay, Schomberg was ‘of a fair complexion,’ but ‘one of the hottest, fiery men in England, which was the reason King William would never give him any command where there was action.’ His portrait was painted by Kneller, and was engraved in mezzotint by John Smith (1652–1742) [q. v.]

[Kazner's Leben Friedrich von Schomberg oder Schönburg, Mannheim, 1789; Agnew's Protestant Exiles from France, i. 310–18; Luttrell's Brief Relation, passim; Cal. State Papers, William and Mary; Mémoires de Saint-Simon (ed. 1841), xxxiii. 71–2; Dangeau's Journal, iii. 53, v. 211, ix. 433, x. 4, 59, 75; Mémoires du Comte de Dohna, pp. 107, 217; Lettres de Mme. de Sévigné, passim; Parnell's War of the Succession in Spain; Marlborough's Letters, i. 155, 158, 169, 170, 245, 390, 488; Richard Hill's Correspondence, i. 136; Cole's Memoirs, p. 76; Mackay's Secret Services; Parliamentary Hist. vol. vi.; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. pp. 213 a, 214 a, 217 b, 8th Rep. pp. 32 a, 36 a, 37 b, 558 a; Coke MSS. ii. 455, 456, iii. 26, 59, 116; Fleming MSS. 281, 285, 286, 291, 301, 303, 308; Lonsdale MS. 117; Portland MSS. ii. 170; Addit. MSS. 21487 (letters to Blathwayt, 1692–9), 22232 f. 59, 28056 f. 82, 28569 f. 95, 28927 f. 75, 28943 f. 205, 28948 ff. 40–8, 57 (relating to his recall from Portugal), 29589 ff. 38, 49, 78; Walford's Greater London, i. 236; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. v. 328, 5th ser. x. 234. Unlike his father, who wrote his name Schonberg, he signed his name Schonburg; his correspondence is mostly in French.]

R. D.