Wotton, Edward (1548-1626) (DNB00)

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WOTTON, EDWARD, first Baron Wotton (1548–1626), born in 1548, was the eldest son of Thomas Wotton (1521–1587) by his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Rudston, lord mayor of London [see under Wotton, Sir Edward, 1489-1551]. Sir Henry Wotton [q. v.] was his half-brother. Edward does not appear to have been educated at any English university, but made up for the deficiency by long study on the continent. In 1579 Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador, stated that Wotton had spent three or four years among the Spanish residents at Naples, and described him as 'a man of great learning and knowledge of languages' [Cal. Simancas MSS. 1568-79, pp. 672, 679). He was certainly an accomplished French, Italian, and Spanish scholar; Mendoza also thought him 'a creature of Walsingham's,' but was unable to discover what his religion was. He was early employed in diplomatic business by Walsingham, and in 1574-6 was acting as secretary to the embassy at Vienna, Sir Philip Sidney [q. v.] being for a time associated with him in these duties. In May 1579 Wotton was sent to congratulate the new king of Portugal on his accession, and on his way back had audience of Philip II at Segovia. In January 1583-4 it was proposed to send him to Spain to protest against Mendoza's conduct in England, and to explain his summary expulsion by Elizabeth. (Sir) William Waad [q. v.] was, however, sent instead, and on 9 Nov. following Wotton was returned to parliament as one of the knights of the shire for Kent.

In May 1586 Elizabeth, alarmed at the progress of the catholic league in France and the success of Alexander of Parma in the Netherlands, selected Wotton as envoy to Scotland to persuade James VI to enter into an offensive and defensive alliance, and to take the Dutch under his protection. He was also to suggest James's marriage to Anne of Denmark or Arabella Stewart, but it was not till six years later that the former scheme was adopted. Wotton received his instructions at the hands of his friend Sir Philip Sidney on 15 May, was at Berwick on the 26th, and was received by James VI at Edinburgh on the 30th. 'Doué de qualités brillantes, et qui excellait dans tous les exercices que Jacques VI aimait de prédilection, il ne tarda pas à prendre le plus grand ascendant sur l'esprit du jeune prince' (Teulet, Papiers d'État, ii, 728). At first Wotton's success appeared complete; James agreed to the proposal for an offensive and defensive league, and on 28 June the lords and estates approved. In the same month, however, the exiled Scots in England made a raid into Scotland, supported by an English force, and, though Elizabeth ordered the arrest of the offenders, James, with some reason, suspected the complicity of the English government, and feared a repetition of the attempts to restore the exiled lords by force. Moreover Arran's influence over the king was still supreme, and Arran was strenuously supported by the French party. A fresh complication arose with the murder of Francis, lord Russell, on 27 July [see under Russell, Francis, second Earl of Bedford]. Fernihurst was the criminal, but Arran was implicated, and Elizabeth now sought to use the circumstance to ruin him. Wotton demanded his arrest and removal to England for trial, but James merely confined him in St. Andrews, whence he was soon released and resumed his ascendency over James. Wotton's position was now precarious, and in August Arrans ally, Sir William Stewart (fl. 1575-1603) [q.v.], openly insulted him in the king's presence. Elizabeth, however, hesitated to risk an open breach with James by effective support of her ambassador, but the despatch of Castelnau de Mauvissière by Henri III to Scotland reinforced French influence at Edinburgh, strengthened James in his refusal to give up Arran, and made Wotton's success hopeless. He now advocated an incursion by the exiled lords, supported by an English force, and the seizure of James and Arran as the only means of restoring English prestige; but, aware of the danger to himself in such an event, he begged for his recall. This was granted on 11 Oct., but before Walslngham's letters could arrive Wotton had on his own authority crossed the border, and on the 12th he was at Berwick (full details of Wotton's negotiations are given in Cotton MSS. Calig. C. viii-ix; Addit. MS. 32657, ii. 83-223; Hamilton Papers, 1543-99. pp. 643-708; Border Papers, 1560-94, Nos. 335-876; Thorpe, Cal. Scottish State Papers, i. 495-5l2;Teulet, Papiers d'État, Bannatyne Club, ii. 728, iii. 404-6; Cal. Simancas MSS. 1580-6, pp. 646-52).

For some time after his return Wotton was occupied in local administration in Kent. In 1586, however, he was sent to France to explain to Henry III the intrigues against Elizabeth of Mary Queen of Scots, certified transcripts of her letters in connection with the Babington plot being sent him with directions how to use them (Addit. MS. 33256, ff. 172-205; Cal. Simancas MSS. 1587-1603, p. 178, and his instructions dated 29 Sept. in Cotton. MS. Calig. E. vi. 302; and Bernard, Cat. MSS. Anglica, iii. 5270, f. 240). On 16 Feb. 1586-7 he was one of the pallbearers at Sidney's funeral, and later in the year he succeeded his father at Boughton Malherbe, and on 5 Jan. 1587-8 he was admitted student of Gray's Inn. In 1591 he was knighted, and in 1594-5 he served as sheriff of Kent (Addit. MS. 33924, f. 16). In 1595-6 he vainly petitioned Burghjey for the treasurership of the chamber (Lansd. MS. lxxix. 19), and in March 1597 he was an unauccessful candidate for the Cinque ports. About the same time it was proposed to make him secretary of state (Collins Letters and Mem. ii. 25, 27, 30,54), but, this failing, Wotton made strenuous but vain efforts to secure a peerage (ib. ii. 85-8). In 1599, on an alarm of a Spanish invasion, he was appointed treasurer of a 'camp' to be formed, and in May 1601 he was offered but declined the post of ambassador in France. On 23 Dec. 1602 he was made comptroller of the household and was sworn of the privy council; on 17 Jan. 1602-3 Chamberlain wrote: 'The court has flourished more than ordinary this Christmas. The new comptroller has put new life into it by his example, being always freshly attired and chiefly in white.' On 19 Feb. following he was appointed to negotiate with Scaramelli, the Venetian ambassador (Cal. State Papers, Venetian, ix. 1135).

James I continued Wotton in the office of comptroller, and on 13 Mar created him Baron Wotton of Marley, co.Kent (Addit. MS. 34218, f. 190b). In November he was one of the lords who tried Sir Walter Raliegh {Addit. MS. 6177, f. 137; The Arraignment of Sr Walter Rawliegh . . . before Lord Wotton . . ., London, 1643, 4to; Edwards, Life of Raliegh). During the early years of James I's reign Wotton was lord-lieutenant of Kent (Egerton MS. 880, passim; Harl. MS. 6846, f. 42), but in August 1610 he was sent as ambassador extraordinary to France to congratulate Louis XIII on his accession (Brewer, Court and Times of James I, i. 131; instructions in Stowe MS. 177, ff. 131-8). On his return in October he brought Isaac Casaubon [q. v.] to England in his suite (Casaubonorum Epistoler, pp. 361-2). In June 1612 he was nominated commissioner of the treasury on Salisbury's death. In November 1616 he was made treasurer of the household, but on 23 Dec. 1617 he was 'persuaded' to retire from that office by the payment of five thousand pounds. This did not satisfy him, and he clung to office some weeks longer in the vain hope of extracting a viscountancy as a further compensation. He was excluded from the council on Charles I's accession on the ground of being a catholic (Gardiner, v. 419; Brewer, Court and Times of Charles I, i. 8), He retired to Boughton Malherbe, where he died early in 1626; the inquisitio post mortem was taken on 12 April (6 Charles I, vol. iii. no. 92).

Wotton married, first, on 1 Sept. 1575, Hester, daughter of Sir William Puckering, who died on 8 May 1592, and was buried in Boughton Malherbe church; and secondly, Margaret, daughter of Philip, third baron Wharton, who survived until 1652 (see Calendar of the Committee for Compounding, p. 2309; Addit. MS. 5494, f. 197; and Lords' Journals, vii. 302, 388, viii. 254, 315, ix. 118). Wotton had issue bv his first wife only, a son Thomas and a daughter Philippa, who married Sir Edmund Bacon. Thomas succeeded as second baron, but, being of weak health and a catholic, took little part in politics. He died, aged 43, on 2 April 1630, and was buried in Boughton Malherbe church; his widow was in February 1632-3 fined 500l. by the court of high commission for removing the font in the church to make room for her husband's tomb and for inscribing on it 'a bold epitaph' stating that he died a roman catholic (Court and Times of Charles I, ii. 227; Laud, Works, v. 311). He married, on (6 June 1608, Mary (1590-1658), daughter of Sir Arthur Throckmorton, and had issue four daughters: Catherine, who inherited Boughton Malberbe, and married, first, Henry. lord Stanhope, by whom she was mother of Philip Stanhope, second earl of Chesterfield [q. v.]; secondly. John Polyander à Kirkhoven [see Kirkhoven, Catherine]; and, thirdly, Daniel O'Neill [q.v.]; Hester (d. 1649), who was third wife of Baptist Noel, third viscount Campden [q. v.]; Margaret, who married Sir John Tufton; and Anne, who married Sir Edward Hales, father of Sir Edward Hales, titular earl of Tenterden [q. v.]

[Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1580-1625; Lansdowne MSS. xlv. 6, 1. 87. lxii. 54, lxxix. 19. cxi 37; Addit. MSS. 20770 f. 23. 34176 ff. 37-43, 49, 80 (corresp. with Sir William Twyslen); Ashmole MSS. 232 f. 71. 582 f. 411. 1132 f. 3; Collin's Letters and Memorials, vol. ii.; Birch's Mem of Elizabeth, i. 157; Winwood's Memorials, ii. 151; Brewer's Court and Times of James I, i. 132-3. 176-7. 451-5; Cal. Hatfield MSS.; Cal. Buccleuch MSS.; Hist. MSS, Comm. 5th Rep. App. p. 487; Official Return Memb. of Parl.; Reg. P. C. Scotl., ed. Manson; Camden's Annals and Britannia, ed. Gough; Baker's Chron.; Spedding's Bacon; Brown's Genesis U.S.A.; Fortescue Papers (Camden Soc.), pp. 38,43; Gardiner's Hist. of England; Reliquiæ Wottonianæ, id. 1685; Strype's Works {general index); A. W. Fox's Book of Bachelors, 1899 (contains various errors respecting the Wotton family); Hasted's Kent, esp. ii. 429; Archleologia Cantiana {general index); Burke's Extinct and G. E. C[okayne]'s Peerages; authorities cited in text.]

A. F. P.