Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Weston, Jerome

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WESTON, JEROME, second Earl of Portland (1605–1663), born on 16 Dec. 1605, was the eldest son of Richard Weston, first earl of Portland [q. v.], by his second wife, Frances, daughter of Nicholas Waldegrave of Borley, Essex. Early in 1627-8 he entered parliament as member for Gatton, Surrey, being returned with Sir Thomas Lake [q. v.] by a Mr. Copley as 'sole inhabitant;' this election was apparently a job perpetrated by the government, and on 26 March the indenture of the return was torn off the file by order of the House of Commons, Sir Ambrose Brown and Sir Richard Onslow, who had also been returned for Gatton, taking their seats for that borough. Weston, however, continued to sit in that parliament, though for what constituency does not appear in the returns, and on 2 March 1628-9 he defended his father, the lord treasurer, against Sir John Eliot [q. v.], who demanded his impeachment (Gardiner, Hist. vii. 73). Early in the following year, in pursuance of his father's pacific policy, he was sent as ambassador extraordinary to Paris, and in April a peace was concluded with France. In 1632he was again sent on an embassy to Paris and Turin to urge Louis XIII to declare in favour of the restitution of the palatinate; in November Charles instructed him to protest against the proposed division of the Spanish Netherlands between France and the Dutch. He returned in March 1632-3 with Richelieu's proposals for a defensive alliance against the house of Austria; he also brought with him letters written by Henry Rich, earl of Holland [q. v.],who was intriguing against the lord treasurer; the opening of these letters led Holland to challenge Weston, but Charles I approved of his conduct and sent Holland to prison.

Weston, who was styled Lord Weston after his father's creation in February 1632-3 as Earl of Portland with remainder to his issue by his second marriage, succeeded as second earl by the same limitation on 13 March 1634-5, but his father's death deprived him of most of his political importance. He had, however, been appointed governor of the Isle of Wight on 18 Nov., and a commissioner to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction on 17 Dec. 1633, and on 28 May 1635 he was made vice-admiral of Hampshire, and keeper of Richmond New Park on 15 June 1637. On 3 June 1641 he was appointed joint lord lieutenant of Hampshire, but his royalist and religious sentiments rendered him suspect to parliament, and on 2 Nov. the House of Commons resolved to deprive him of the government of the Isle of Wight; upon conference with the House of Lords on the 18th this 'resolution was put off,' the lords professing themselves much satisfied with Portland's 'solemn protestation of his resolution to live and die a protestant, as his father did' a somewhat dubious promise, considering that his father died a Roman catholic (Cal. State Papers, 1641-3, pp. 154, 167). His sequestration was not, however, long delayed, for by August 1642 he had been committed to the custody of one of the sheriff's of London on suspicion of complicity in the plot to deliver Portsmouth into the king's hands (ib. p. 366; Clarendon, Rebellion, bk. v. 136, bk. vi. 401; The Earl of Portland's Charge, London, 11 Aug. 1642, 4to). Clarendon admits that Portland had remained in London ' as a place where he might do the king more service than anywhere else' (ib. bk. vii. 174), and there is no doubt that he had some share in the plot of his friend Edmund Waller [q. v.] Waller himself accused Portland, but the poet's statements were not believed, and, after Portland had bluntly denied the charge, he was on 31 July 1643 released on bail (cf. Tanner MS. lxii. 111). A fortnight later he made use of his liberty to take refuge with the king at Oxford, where he sat in the royalist parliament and signed the peers' letter to the Scots. As a further reward for his loyalty Charles on 1 March 1643 appointed Portland lord president of Munster, an office coveted by Murrough O'Brien, earl of Inchiquin [q. v.]; probably as a result of this disappointment the powerful Inchiquin turned parliamentarian, and, as a nominee of the parliament, made himself master of the province; in 1648, when he again changed sides, he received Charles's commission as lord president, so that Portland had no opportunity of taking up his appointment.

Portland was apparently at Oxford until its surrender on 24 June, and then at Wallingford, which held out till 27 July 1646. On 6 Oct. following he compounded for his delinquency on the 'Wallingford articles,' and on 10 Nov. he was fined two-thirds of his estate, 9,953l. 10s.; on 14 Sept. 1647 his discharge was ordered, and on 11 June 1650 his fine was reduced to 5,297l. 11s. 8d. He lived quietly at Ashley House, Walton-on-Thames, during the Commonwealth and protectorate, and in 1660 took his seat in the Convention parliament. He was restored to the posts he held before the war, and received grants of other lands. On 7 Nov. 1600 he was made a councillor for trade and navigation, and on 1 Dec. for the colonies; on 3 April 1662 he was sworn of the privy council. He died at Ashley House on 17 March 1662-3, and was buried on the 22nd in the church at Walton-on-Thames, where there is an inscription to his memory. His portrait was painted by Van Dyck and engraved by Hollar and Gaywood.

Portland married, at Roehampton chapel on 25 June 1632, Frances, third daughter of Esmé Stuart, third duke of Lennox [see under Stuart, Ludovick, second Duke]. She was born about 1617, and survived her husband thirty-one years, being buried in Westminster Abbey on 24 March 1693-4; her portrait was painted by Van Dyck and engraved by Hollar (Granger, Biogr. Hist. ii. 384). By her Portland had issue an only son, Charles (1639-1665), who succeeded as third Earl of Portland, but was killed during the naval battle with the Dutch off the Texel on 3 June 1665 (Pepys, Diary, ed. Braybrooke, iii. 24). He was unmarried, and the earldom and barony devolved upon his uncle, Thomas Weston, fourth earl of Portland (1609-1688), who was compelled to sell most of his estates, retired in poverty to the Netherlands, and died without issue in 1688, having married, in 1667, Anne, widow of Mountjoy Blount, earl of Newport [q. v.] The barony of Weston and earldom of Portland consequently became extinct.

[Authorities cited; Davy's Suffolk Collections (Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 19077 etseq.); Cal. State Papers, Dom.; Lords' Journals, iv. 446; Lloyd's Memoires, 1668, p. 678; Nicholas Papers (Camd. Soc.), i. 32; Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion, ed. Macray, passim, and Clarendon State Papers; Court and Times of Charles I, passim; Lascelles's Lib. Munerum Hibernicorum; Burke's Extinct, Doyle's, and G. E. C[okayne]'s Peerages; Gardiner's Hist. of England and Civil War; Sandford's Studies in the Great Rebellion, p. 563.]

A. F. P.