John Belasyse, 1st Baron Belasyse

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John Belasyse
John Belasyse (Bellasis), 1st Baron Belasyse of Worlaby by Gilbert Jackson.jpg
1st Baron Belasyse
Portrait by Gilbert Jackson, 1636
Personal details
Born (1614-06-24)24 June 1614
Newburgh Grange, Yorkshire
Died 10 September 1689(1689-09-10) (aged 75)
Whitton, Middlesex
Resting place St Giles in the Fields, London
Citizenship English
Nationality English

John Belasyse, 1st Baron Belasyse PC (24 June 1614 – 10 September 1689) was an English nobleman, soldier and Member of Parliament, notable for his role during and after the English Civil War.[1] He suffered a long spell of imprisonment during the Popish Plot.

Early life[edit]

Balasyse was the second son of Thomas Belasyse, 1st Baron Fauconberg (1577–1652), and Barbara, daughter of Sir Henry Cholmondeley of Roxby, Yorkshire.[2] He was born at Newburgh Grange, and baptised (24 July 1614) at Coxwold, both in Yorkshire.[citation needed] He was MP for Thirsk in the Short and Long Parliaments.

Civil War[edit]

Shortly after the start of the Civil War he was "disabled" from sitting in the Long Parliament because he joined the Royalist cause,[2] he raised six regiments of horse and foot soldiers at his own expense, and took part in the battles of Edgehill and Brentford (both in 1642), Newbury (1643), Selby (1644) and Naseby (1645), as well as the sieges of Reading (1643), Bristol and Newark – being wounded several times. He later became Lieutenant-General of the King's forces in the North of England, and Governor of York and of Newark.[3][4] In Oxford on 27 January 1645 he was raised to the peerage under the title of Baron Belasyse of Worlaby, Lincolnshire.[2]

On 4 February 1665 Samuel Pepys recorded an anecdote about Belasyse's civil war activities in a diary entry:

To my office, and there all the morning. At noon, being invited, I to the Sun behind the Change to dinner to my Lord Bellasses – where a great deal of discourse with him – and some good. Among other at table, he told us a very handsome passage of the King's sending him his message about holding out the town of Newarke, of which he was then governor for the King. This message he sent in a Slugg-bullet, being writ in Cypher and wrapped up in lead and swallowed. So the messenger came to my Lord and told him he had a message from the King, but it was yet in his belly; so they did give him some physic, and out it came. This was a month before the King's flying to the Scotts; and therein he told him that at such a day, being 3 or 6 May, he should hear of his being come to the Scotts, being assured by the King of France that in coming to them, he should be used with all the Liberty, Honour and safety that could be desired. And at the just day he did come to the Scotts.

He told us another odd passage: how the King, having newly put out Prince Rupert of his Generallshipp upon some miscarriage at Bristol, and Sir Rd. Willis of his governorshipp of Newarke at the entreaty of the gentry of the County, and put in my Lord Bellasses – the great officers of the King’s Army mutinyed, and came in that manner, with swords drawn, into the market-place of the town where the King was – which the King hearing, says, “I must to horse.” And there himself personally, when everybody expected they would have been opposed, the King came and cried to the head of the Mutineers, which was Prince Rupert, “Nephew, I command you to be gone!” So the Prince, in all his fury and discontent, withdrew, and his company scattered – which they say was the greatest piece of mutiny in the world.

—Samuel Peys, 4 February 1665[5]

Interregnum[edit]

Belasyse is considered one of the first members of the Royalist underground organisation The Sealed Knot,[4] (as is his predecessor as Governor of Newark: Sir Richard Willis). During the Interregnum, Belasyse was in frequent communication with King Charles II and his supporters in Holland.[2]

Charles II[edit]

After the Restoration Belasyse was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire (1661–1673) and Governor of Hull, while from 1664 to 1666 he held the posts of Governor of Tangier and Captain-General of the forces in Africa. According to Samuel Pepys, he accepted the post only for the profit it brought.[2]

In 1667 Belasyse was appointed Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms This office he resigned in consequence of a private quarrel; he was then made governor of Tangier. He subsequently resigned this appointment as he was unwilling to take the Oath of Conformity introduced under the Test Act.[2][3]

Popish Plot[edit]

At the time of the Oates Plot, Belasyse, along with four other Catholic peers, Henry Arundell, 3rd Baron Arundell of Wardour, William Howard, 1st Viscount Stafford, William Herbert, 1st Marquis of Powis, and William Petre, 4th Baron Petre, was denounced as a conspirator and formally impeached in Parliament. Belasyse in particular was said to have been designated Commander-in-Chief of the Popish army, but Charles II, according to Von Ranke, burst out laughing at the idea that the man, who could then hardly stand on his feet due to gout, would be able to so much as hold a pistol. Belasyse in his defence referred to his age and ill-health, and reasonably pointed out that under the tolerant rule of Charles II he was living out his last years in comfort: what possible reason had he to wish for a change of regime? Despite the stress on his old age, Lord Belasyse lived on for another ten years. The impeached Catholic peers, though they endured a long imprisonment in the Tower, where Lord Petre died in 1683, were never brought to trial, apart from Stafford, who was executed in December 1680.[6]

James II[edit]

Following the accession of James II, Belasyse returned to favour and was appointed a Privy Counsellor in July 1686 and in 1687 was appointed as First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury which, on account of his Catholicism, caused political problems for James II. He and James had always been on friendly terms, and James had once thought of marrying Belasyse's cousin Susan.

Private life[edit]

From 1671 until his death in 1689, he lived in Whitton, near Twickenham in Middlesex. He was buried on 14 September 1689 at the church of St Giles in the Fields, London. He was married three times and left five children, but his only son was killed in a duel in 1667 and the title passed to his grandson, Henry Belasyse, 2nd Baron Belasyse. The title became extinct upon Henry's own death in 1691.[2][3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Also spelt in other sources as John Bellasis, 1st Baron Bellasis and in Pepys's diary Lord Bellasses
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Wikisource-logo.svg "John Belasyse". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  3. ^ a b c Keary, p. 142
  4. ^ a b Plant.
  5. ^ The Diary of Samuel Peys, Volume VI. 1665, 4 February 1665, pages 30 to 31, Ed. Robert Latham & William Matthews, Bell & Hyman, London, 1978.
  6. ^ One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Wikisource-logo.svg "John Belasyse". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 

References[edit]

  •  Keary, Charles Francis (1885). "Belasyse, John". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 4. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 142.  Cites:
    • Dugdale's Baronage;
    • Fuller's Worthies, Yorkshire, p. 220 (fol.);
    • Foster's Visitations of Yorkshire, 1584–1612, and Pedigrees of the County Families of Yorkshire;
    • Money's Battles of Newbury, where is given a copy of the monumental brass in St. Giles' in the Fields, the church where Lord Belasyse was buried;
    • Klopp's Fall des Hauses Stuart.
  • Plant, David. Biography of Lord Belasyse, British Civil Wars website. Retrieved 5 March 2010 Cites:
    • Andrew J. Hopper, John Belasyse, 1st Baron Belasyse of Worlaby, Oxford DNB, 2004
    • Stuart Reid, All the King's Armies (Staplehurst 1998)
  • Thurston, Herbert. Wikisource-logo.svg "John Belasyse". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.  Cites:
    • Dodd, Church History of England (Brussels, 1742), III;
    • Gillow, Bibl. Dict. of Eng. Cath., I;
    • Keary in Dictionary of National Biography, IV, 142;
    • Clarendon, History of the Great Rebellion, and Clarendon State Papers in the Bodleian Library.

Further reading[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Rochester
First Lord of the Treasury
1687–1688
Succeeded by
The Earl of Monmouth
Military offices
Preceded by
Unknown
Governor of Kingston-upon-Hull
1661–1673
Succeeded by
The Duke of Monmouth
Preceded by
John Fitzgerald
Governor of Tangier
1665–1666
Succeeded by
Henry Norwood
Honorary titles
English Interregnum Lord Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire
1660–1673
Succeeded by
The Duke of Monmouth
Preceded by
The Earl of Cleveland
Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners
1667–1672
Succeeded by
The Viscount Fauconberg
Peerage of England
New creation Baron Belasyse
1645–1689
Succeeded by
Henry Belasyse