Aubrey de Vere, 20th Earl of Oxford

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Aubrey de Vere
20th Earl of Oxford
20thEarlOfOxfordColour.jpg
Spouse(s) Anne Bayning
Father Robert de Vere, 19th Earl of Oxford
Mother Beatrix van Hemmend
Born (1627-02-28)28 February 1627
Died 12 March 1703(1703-03-12) (aged 76)

Aubrey de Vere, 20th Earl of Oxford KG PC (28 February 1627 – 12 March 1703) was a Royalist during the English Civil War.

Life of the last De Vere[edit]

He was the son of Robert de Vere, 19th Earl of Oxford and his wife Beatrix van Hemmena.[1] De Vere was educated at Friesland, Netherlands, after his father was mortally wounded at the siege of Maastricht in 1632. He was only six years old; years later he joined the English Regiment of Foot serving on the continent with the Dutch. He remained in Holland, but returned to England in 1651 an ardent royalist. He was involved in a succession of plots, for which he was imprisoned in the Tower for allegedly plotting against Cromwell. He was interned without trial. On release he joined Sir George Booth's rising in 1659 against Richard Cromwell's regime. He went with five other peers to petition The Hague for the return of King Charles II in early May 1660. Hoping but failing to become Lord Chamberlain, he was offered the Colonelcy of The Blues. As a great favourite of royal mistress, Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland he courted the Earl of Bristol's daughter, whose family were in high favour at court. The Earl of Bristol's daughter married the Earl of Sunderland, a Secretary of State, but he lobbied the King on Oxford's behalf. Oxford was made Lord Lieutenant of Essex and awarded a Knight of the Garter. Oxford's dashing image was one of the last Cavaliers; louche, immoral, but temperate and moderate. Tall, distinguished, and good-looking, he looked slightly disdainful. Censorious Whigs like Samuel Pepys deplored seeing Oxford wearing his Garter regalia in public. And there was a rumour that he married an actress in secret.

Despite being a Cavalier, he adhered to Protestant principles permitting Quakers and puritans to join the regiment. He was a friend of Monmouth, a great soldier. Oxford raised a Regiment of Horse from 1684 onwards, just as the Life Guards were being withdrawn from Dunkirk. They were properly the Royal Regiment of Horse, but known by the colour of the uniforms as Oxford's Blues; he was Colonel of The Blues. Royalist volunteers added strength to this protestant regiment. It was Charles II's policy to expand the army beyond the kernel that he inherited.[2] Oxford gained the disapproval at court of the favourite, the Duke of Buckingham, who had declared undying enmity. Oxford replied, that he "neither cared for his friendship nor feared for his hatred."

"...a troop of horse, excellently mounted, of the Royal Regiment of my Lord Aubrey de Vere, Earl of Oxford...inspecting every file of the company, the officers of which wore a red sash with gold tassels.", wrote Prince Cosmo of Tuscany on a visit to London in 1668.[3] Oxford was present at the first Army Board on 5 August 1670, chaired by the Duke of York. On 5 July 1685, Sir Francis Compton was promoted to command the regiment. Oxford wanted the post for himself but was prevented from taking it by the King. Oxford was responsible for kitting out his regiment, and ordering a standard blue uniform from a woollen draper, Mr Munnocks of The Strand, Middlesex, whose son was killed in the service.[4]

In February 1688 he told King James, 'I will stand by Your Majesty against all enemies to the last drop of my blood. But this is a matter of conscience and I cannot comply.' Oxford was Lord Lieutenant of Essex, responsible for raising troops in the county, but refused James II's order to appoint Roman Catholics to public offices. He was deprived of his offices. Months later he took the side of William of Orange against James II in the Glorious Revolution. He was restored to his titles and colonelcy of The Blues and exempted the Commission of Inspection by the Convention Parliament of April 1689. Secretary at War, William Blathwayt wrote asking for details of all officers removed by absolutism.[5] On 1 February 1689 Oxford and Compton lobbied Parliament to pass a vote of thanks to the army for the Whig constitution "...testified their sturdy adherence to the Protestant religion and being instrumental in delivering this country from popery and slavery."[6]

He died in 1703, sine male prole making the title extinct. His daughter Diana married Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans.[7]

Family[edit]

On 12 April 1647, he married Anne Bayning, a daughter of Paul Bayning, 2nd Viscount Bayning. Anne died in 1659 and Aubrey married Diana Kirke, daughter of George Kirke and granddaughter of Aurelian Townshend.[8] They had five children:[9]

  1. Charles, who died as an infant.
  2. Charlotte, died young
  3. Lady Diana de Vere, who married King Charles II's illegitimate son, Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St Albans.
  4. Mary, died unmarried
  5. Henrietta, died unmarried

Since he had no surviving sons and as no other suitable claimant came forward, he became the last de Vere Earl of Oxford, one of the longest-lived titles in the peerage of England. The first de Vere earl had received his title from the Empress Matilda in 1141.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ White-Spunner, p.44. In "Horse Guards" the author names his mother as Beatrice de Banck, a dutch woman.
  2. ^ Holmes, p.50
  3. ^ "The Travels of Cosmo III in England", cited by Arthur, I, p.82; White-Spunner, p.50
  4. ^ White-Spunner, p.104-5
  5. ^ Holmes, p.158
  6. ^ Arthur, I, p.231
  7. ^ Holmes, p.27
  8. ^ Cokayne 1945, pp. 260–1; Chambers 1912, p. xxxvi.
  9. ^ Burke's Dormant and Extinct Peerages, London, 1883

References[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Vacant
(The Protectorate)
Justice in Eyre
south of the Trent

1660–1673
Succeeded by
The Duke of Monmouth
Military offices
New regiment Colonel of The Royal Regiment of Horse
1661–1688
Succeeded by
The Duke of Berwick
Preceded by
Earl of Arran
Colonel of The Royal Regiment of Horse
1688–1703
Succeeded by
The Duke of Northumberland
Honorary titles
English Interregnum Lord Lieutenant of Essex
jointly with The Duke of Albemarle 1675–1687

1660–1687
Succeeded by
The Lord Petre
Preceded by
The Lord Petre
Lord Lieutenant of Essex
1688–1703
Succeeded by
The Lord Guilford
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Robert de Vere
Earl of Oxford
1632–1703
Dormant