« PreviousContinue »
ALGERNON SYDNEY, descended from a very ancient and honourable family, was * second son of Robert, Earl of Leicester, by Dorothy, eldest daughter of Henry Piercy, Earl of Northumberland; to whom his lordship was married in the year 1618. The exact year when our author was born is not certain, but it was probably about the year 1622. His noble father was careful to give him a good education, and in the year 1632, when he went ambassador to Denmark, took his son with him; as also, when he was ambassador to the king of France in 1636; and the Countess, his mother, t in a letter to the Earl then at Paris, acquaints his lordship, that she hears her son much commended by all that came from thence; and that one who spake very well of few, said "he had a huge deal of wit, and I much sweetness of nature." Upon the breaking out of the rebellion in Ireland, the latter end of the year 1641, he had a commission for a troop of horse in the regi. ment of his father, who was then lord-lieutenant of that kingdom; and he went over thither with his eldest brother Philip, Lord Viscount Lisle, distinguishing himself upon all occasions with great gallantry against the rebels. In the year 1643, he had the king's permission to return to England; for which
* Collins' Peerage of England, and Memoirs of the lives and actions of the Sydneys.
+ Collins' Letters and Memorials of State, vol. ii. p. 445.
| This sweetness of nature (with a huge deal of wit) appears remarkably in the portrait of him, which was painted at Brusels in the year 1663, yet at Penshurst; and made, whatever some have thought, an essential part of his noble disposition.
purpose the Earl his father gave him likewise a licence, dated at Oxford, June 22, that year ; but landing in Lancashire August following, he was, by order of Parliament, brought up in custody to London, where he was prevailed on to take a command under them: and on the 10th of May, 1644, the Earl of Manchester, major-general of several counties, constituted him captain of a troop of horse in his own regiment. His brother, the Lord Viscount Lisle, being soon after appointed lieutenant-general of Ireland, and general of the forces there, gave
him the command of a regiment of horse, to serve in the expedition thither: and it appears by the *MS. journal of the Earl, his father, that he was likewise lieutenant-general of the horse in Ireland, and governor of Dublin; and that before he went into that kingdom, he had the government of Chichester, and † was in the battle at York, and several other engagements. In the same journal the Earl writes as follows....“On the 8th of April, 1647, early in the morning, the House of Commons being then thin, and few of my son's friends present, it was moved by Mr. Glyn, the recorder, that Colonel Jones should be made Governor of Dublin in chief, and not deputy-gov. ernor to Algernon Sydney; pretending that Jones
• Collins' Memoirs, p. 150.
+ Colonel Sydney also, son to the Earl of Leicester, charged with much gallantry, at the head of my Lord of Manchester's regiment of horse, and came off with much honour, though with many wounds, the true badges of his honour; and was sent away afterward to London for cure of his wounds.
The Parliamentary Chronicle, part 3. p. 273.
would not go, unless he might be governor, which was not true, Jones having accepted of the place of deputy-governor from the committee at Derby-house, who had also appointed the Lord Lisle to commission his brother Algernon to be governor of Dublin, which he had done before he went into Munster. This motion of the recorder was seconded by old Sir Henry Vane, who pretended that his conscience moved him to be of opinion, that since the House had thought proper to recall the Lord Lisle, it was not fit to let his brother, Algernon Sydney, remain governor of so important a place as Dublin. Sir William Armyn and others opposed this motion, alledging, that if they had used one brother ill, they ought not to do injustice to the other, who had so well deserved of them. But it was carried against him, and the government was conferred on Jones. After which resolution, it was moved that some recompence might be given to Algernon Sydney, according to his merit; to which the House assented without opposition.” And on the 7th of May, Colonel Sydney had * the thanks of the House for his good services in Ireland; and was afterwards made governor of Dover. In January, 1648, he † was nominated one of King Charles' judges, though he did not sit among them. What his reasons were for declining this, we know not. It is manifest that he was, both by inclination and principle, a zealous republican; and, on that account, * a violent enemy to Oliver Cromwell, when he assumed to himself the government, to which, as well as to that of Richard, his successor, he was absolutely irreconcileable. But, upon the resignation of Richard, the Long Parliament being restored in May, 1659, and having passed a declaration, “ to secure the liberty and property of the people, both as men and christians, and that without a single person, kingship, or House of Lords, and to uphold the magistracy and the ministry,” he adhered to them; and was appointed one of the Council of State, with the Lord Fairfax, Bradshaw, Sir Henry Vane, General Ludlow, Sir Arthur Haselrig, Fleetwood, Lambert, † Colonel Henry
* Whitelocke's Memorials, p. 246. Edit. 1732.
+ Our authority for this article is taken from Echard's History of England, 675 and 697.
• Whitelocke, p. 678.
+ Within two days after this discourse, from Mr. Fiennes, Mr. Hyde walking between the Parliament House and Westminster, in the church-yard, met with Harry Marten, with whom he lived very familiarly, and speaking together about the proceedings of the House, Marten told him, that he would undo himself by his adhering to the court; to which he replied, that he had no relation to the court, and was only concerned to maintain the government, and preserve the law: and then told him, he could not conceive what he proposed to himself, for he did not think him to be of the opinion or nature with those men who governed the house; and asked him what he thought of such and such men; and he very frankly answered he thought them knaves, and that when they had done as much as they intended to do, they should be used as they had used others. The other pressed him to say what he desired; to which, after a little pause, he very roundly answered, I do not think one man wise enough to govern us all; which was the first word he had ever heard any man speak to that purpose, and VOL. I.
Marten, Mr. Thomas Challoner, Mr. Thomas Scot, * Mr. Henry Neville, Mr. Wallop, and others....
would without doubt, if it had then been communicated or attempted, been the most abhorred by the whole nation of any design that could be mentioned: and yet it appears it had even so early as 1640 or 1641, entered into the hearts of some desperate persons; that gentleman being at that time possessed of a very great fortune, and having great credit in his county.... The life of Edward, Earl of Clarendon, part i. p. 81. oct. edit.
The Colonel was author of divers curious tracts; and was also a principal promoter of the publishing of " The first Century of scandalous malignant priests," " The King's Cabinet opened," and other state tracts....See his character in A. Wood's Athenæ Oxionienses, and in Bishop Kennett's historical register; but drawn in bitterness of wrath and anger.
* Henry Neville, second son of Sir Henry Neville, of Billingbeare. in Berks, was educated at Oxford. In the beginning of the civil war, he travelled into Italy and other countries, whereby he advanced himself much as to the knowledge of modern languages and men ; and returning in 1645, or thereabouts, became Recruiter in the Long Parliament, for Abingdon in Berkshire, at which time he was very intimate with Harry Marten, Thomas Challoner, Thomas Scot, James Harrington, and other zealous commonwealth's-men. In Nov. 1651, he was elected one of the Council of State, being then a favourite of Oliver; but when he saw that person gaped after the government by a single person, he left him, was out of his favour, and acted little during his government. In 1658, he was elected Burgess for Reading, to serve in Richard's ParJiament; and when that person was deposed, and the Long Parliament shortly after restored, he was again elected one of the Council of State....He was a great Rota-man, was one of the chief persons of James Harrington's club of commonwealth’s-men, to instil their principles into others; he being esteemed to be a man of good parts, and a well-bred gentleman. At the appearance of “The Commonwealth of Oceana,"