ANNESLEY, James (1674-1702)

ANNESLEY, James (1674–1702)

suc. fa. 1 Apr. 1690 (a minor) as 3rd earl of ANGLESEY and 3rd Visct. Valentia [I].

First sat 22 Nov. 1695; last sat 24 June 1701

b. 11 July 1674,1 1st s. of James Annesley, 2nd earl of Anglesey and Elizabeth, 4th da. of John Manners, 8th earl of Rutland; bro. of John Annesley, later 4th earl of Anglesey and Arthur Annesley, later 5th earl of Anglesey. educ. Dyer’s sch. at Chelsea, c.1680;2 Christ Church, Oxf. 1690; travelled abroad (with Mons. de Rasigarde) 1692,3 (Germany, Italy and France) 1696-8.4 m. 28 Oct. 1699 (with £17,000)5 Catherine Darnley, da. (illegit.) of James II and Catherine Sedley, countess of Dorchester, separated (by act of Parliament), 12 June 1701, 1da. d. 18 Jan 1702; will 14 May-9 Dec. 1701, pr. 13 Mar. 1702.6

Associated with: Farnborough, Hants and ?Jermyn St., Westminster.7

As the heir to his grandfather, Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey, who possessed vast estates in England and Ireland as well as considerable personal wealth, Annesley was well placed to play a significant role in the political life of both kingdoms. He was baptized on 13 July 1674 by John Tillotson, then dean of Canterbury and later archbishop of Canterbury, his godparents being his grandmother, the countess of Anglesey, John Manners, Lord Roos, the future duke of Rutland and Edward Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu.8 On 19 Oct. 1677 the young Annesley was touched by the king, perhaps an early indication of poor health.9

Anglesey took his seat in the Irish House of Lords in August 1695 where Henry Capel, Baron Capell, reported that he was ‘perfectly embarked with the sole right men, and entirely in the interest of my lord chancellor [Sir Charles Porter]’. Capell also reported that Anglesey had proved to be something of a troublemaker: ‘he has been at the head of all the embroilments, and likewise in those that have [been], like to happen between the two Houses.’10 Anglesey left Ireland for England towards the end of October 1695, possibly in response to his writ of summons to the English Parliament for which he was now eligible to sit. He was in attendance on the opening day of the session on 22 Nov. 1695 but was not formally introduced until the following day. He was present on 72 days of the session, 58 per cent of the total. On 4 Dec. he was named to a committee to draw up an address on the ill state of the coinage, which in turn served to manage a conference with the Commons on the same issue on the following day. On 9 Dec. he was reportedly involved in a duel in which the other principal, Sir John Dillon, was wounded, the dispute being about Anglesey’s adultery with Dillon’s wife.11 On 9 Jan. 1696 he was named to draw up reasons for the Lords insisting on their amendments to the bill regulating the silver coinage. Some of these related to the rights of the peerage, and he was named as a manager of the ensuing conference which was held the following day. Surprisingly, in view of his own family history and his close association with Sir John Thompson, later Baron Haversham, who urged that non-subscribers be expelled from the Commons, he refused to sign the Association on 27 Feb. despite being in the House on that day.12 On 31 Mar. he acted as teller against agreeing to a clause in the committee of the whole on the recoinage bill and subsequently entered a dissent to the passing of the bill. On 14 Apr. he was named to a committee to prepare reasons for the Lords insisting on their amendments to the bill for continuing the acts prohibiting trade and commerce with France, but these proceedings did not result in a conference. He was named to a further ten committees during the session. On 30 Apr. 1696, just three days after the end of the session, he obtained a pass to travel abroad to study in Germany and Italy.13

According to Narcissus Luttrell, Anglesey was one of those who stood bail in October 1697 for Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun, but he did not attend Parliament during the 1697-8 session, and it is not clear whether he had returned from his foreign tour.14 He was in Paris in April 1698, where he was carefully watched by Mathew Prior, who informed Arnold Joost van Keppel, earl of Albemarle, that Anglesey was mixing with people of Jacobite sentiments and emphasized that because Anglesey’s loyalty could go either way it would be necessary to ensure a favourable reception for him when he returned to the English court in order to win him over to the cause of William III.15

Anglesey next attended the House on 3 May 1698 and was present almost every day of the remaining two months of the 1697-8 session, a total of 37 days, representing 27 per cent of the total. On 24 May he was named as one of the managers of the conference considering the bill for the more effectual suppression of blasphemy and profaneness and on 28 June as one of the managers of the conference considering the impeachments against John Goudet and others. On 1 July he acted as a teller against giving a second reading to the bill establishing the two million fund and settling the East India trade. Having lost the division he entered a protest at the decision. He was named to a further 12 committees during the session.

Anglesey attended the prorogation on 29 Nov. 1698 and was present when Parliament convened on 6 December. He attended on 53 days of the session, 62 per cent of the total, and was appointed to 14 committees. On 10 and 11 Feb. 1699 he acted as a teller in divisions on the case of John Fitch against the attorney-general. On 29 Mar. he entered a dissent to the resolution to request the king to send for the bishop of Derry in custody, a matter relating to a clash of jurisdictions between the English and Irish houses of lords. On 20 Apr. he was appointed one of the managers of the conference on the bill restoring Blackwell Hall and on 21 Apr. one of the managers for the conference on the Billingsgate Market bill. This committee then drew up reasons for adhering to their proviso on 25 Apr., and he was appointed to another conference on the bill on 26 April. On 27 Apr. he entered a protest to the passage of the supply bill providing for the disbandment, because of a clause tacked to it appointing commissioners to inquire into Irish land grants. On 3 May he was named as one of the managers of the conference considering the bill on the paper duty.

In October 1699 Anglesey added to his already considerable wealth by marrying Catherine Darnley, the illegitimate daughter of James II and Catherine Sedley, now countess of Dorchester. Despite the dislocation that must have been caused by her father’s exile, she was a wealthy young woman with a portion of £17,000 plus jewellery worth another £3,000.16 Significantly, in February 1700 a certificate was issued under the sign manual that he had married with the sovereign’s consent.17 The death of his mother in December 1700 saw her jointure fall to him.18

Anglesey attended the opening day of the session of 1699-1700. He was appointed to the committee of privileges, and to a further six committees during the session. He was present on 48 days of the session, 53 per cent of the total. In February 1700 he was forecast as one of those peers who would support the East India Company bill. On 23 Feb. he voted in favour of adjourning the House, so that it could go into a committee of the whole on the East India Company bill. On 4 Apr. he acted as a teller against a second reading of the land tax and Irish forfeitures bill and then protested on constitutional grounds against the decision to proceed with the bill. On 9 Apr. he was named to manage a conference on the bill and was then appointed to draw up reasons for adhering to their amendments. Following several more conferences, on 10 Apr. he acted as a teller in favour of the Lords adhering to these amendments and then as a teller against passing the bill without their amendments. He then entered a protest against the resolution not to insist on the Lords’ amendments to the supply bill, having, as one observer noted, spoken ‘extremely pertinently’ on the rights of the peerage in these debates.19 Anglesey attended the prorogation on 23 May 1700.

At the beginning of the 1701 session, Anglesey was recorded as being named to the committee for privileges on 10 Feb., although his name does not appear on the attendance lists until the 11th, when he also took the oaths. He was appointed to three other committees during the session. It was by now clear that the young peer was extremely ill; he was variously described as being ‘deep in a consumption’ and as suffering from ‘a complication of diseases’.20 Despite his illness he managed to attend on 52 days of the session, some 48 per cent of the total. This was probably impelled as much by personal considerations as by political ones.

On 12 Feb. 1701 six people rushed into his house and kidnapped Anglesey’s wife. He reported this immediately to the lord chief justice, Sir John Holt, only to discover that the kidnapping had been engineered by his wife in order to provide her with an opportunity to go before Holt and accuse her husband of cruelty. As a result of her accusations, Anglesey was bound over to keep the peace in a bond of £8,000. On 13 Feb. he reported this to the House and asked to be freed from the terms of the bond. The following day he demanded that the House issue a warrant to search for his wife and cancel the bond so that he could go abroad for his health. Holt told the House that he had not only received Lady Anglesey’s complaint in person but had seen her bruised arms. The House questioned Lady Dorchester who was waiting at the door to defend her daughter’s actions. She denied knowing her daughter’s whereabouts but took advantage of the opportunity to put Lady Anglesey’s case for some form of maintenance agreement. Clearly embarrassed at becoming involved in so personal an issue, the House dismissed Lady Anglesey’s petition for her husband to waive his privilege so that she could institute proceedings for a separation in the ecclesiastical courts and ordered that nothing should be entered in the journals.21

If the Lords were hoping that the issue would go away, they were sadly mistaken. On 25 Feb. 1701 Lady Anglesey petitioned that her husband might waive his privilege, or for leave to bring in a bill to make it legal for her to live apart from him without fear of being forced to return and with an adequate maintenance. Significantly she did not ask for a divorce: several divorces had been sought by act of Parliament since the Roos case of 1670 but all had been brought by men alleging adultery by their spouses. Lady Anglesey’s case was very different. Despite her mother’s notoriety she was regarded as a modest and affectionate wife who had done nothing to deserve ill treatment at her husband’s hands. She was so frightened of her husband’s violence that she had lived secretly ever since leaving him as Anglesey’s insistence on his privilege prevented her from seeking redress in the ecclesiastical courts. Her bill simply asked Parliament to afford her the same protection as any other woman suffering from marital abuse. The House considered her petition on 25 and 27 Feb., refused to reject it and adjourned the matter on the latter date without answering it, while asking Anglesey to name some peers to mediate with her and ask her to return. Anglesey nominated four peers: Haversham, Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester, Robert Shirley, Earl Ferrers, and John Somers, Baron Somers. On 3 Mar. Rochester informed the House of her reasons for refusing to return to her husband. Anglesey was then heard in response. He did his cause little good by demanding that his wife be sequestrated to keep her from the influence of her mother for three or four days. Various motions were put forward to adjourn the debate and then to give leave for a bill and then that Anglesey guarantee her safety. Anglesey resolutely stood on his privilege, whereupon the House read her petition, and a motion to reject it was lost. Leave for a bill was given, with Haversham entering a lone and somewhat garbled dissent to the decision.22

The bill was presented on 4 Mar. 1701 with the countess of Dorchester acting as an advocate for her daughter and ensuring that she was granted the protection of the House. The evidence that unfolded during the passage of the bill provided entertainment in abundance for society gossips. The king himself attended the House on 13 Mar. to get the story first hand.23 The hearing of evidence and legal arguments was not completed until the end of April, with the countess being heard herself on 11 Apr. when a committee of the whole considered the bill. On at least one day (25 Mar.) the peers were kept in the House ‘fasting’ until 4 p.m.24 Observers were left in little doubt that Anglesey was, in the words of Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend, ‘a very barbarous fellow.’25 Lady Anglesey had been locked up, kicked and pinched. According to one witness she had had to give birth in the dark because Anglesey did not want the midwife to see her injuries. A shocked Lord Chief Justice Holt, describing her bruises, declared that ‘I never saw the like before.’ Anglesey added psychological humiliation to physical abuse. Witnesses described how he had refused to allow his wife to have her hair dressed, saying that ‘it was sluttish and he would not have his lady such a slut’ and had insisted that ‘I will make my wife humble. She is a king’s daughter, but I will make her as humble as a kitchen wench.’26

Haversham published his arguments against the bill. According to him Lady Anglesey’s allegations were nothing but ‘an artifice to procure a separation when my lord grew ill and consumptive.’ They ‘derived from nothing but a malicious fancy; my lady’s wishing my lord dead, that she might live at Tunbridge, and where she pleased’. Furthermore the bill created a precedent for ‘any designing wife’.27 The bill passed the Lords on 29 Apr. and was then sent to the Commons, where the earl petitioned against it on 3 May. A committee of the whole considered the evidence on 22 May. Clearly believing that the countess had been barbarously used and that although the earl had waived his privilege he could resume it, they ‘easily went through the bill.’28 It passed the Commons without amendment on 24 May, receiving the royal assent on 12 June. Referring back to Anglesey’s affair with Lady Dillon in 1695, Sir Richard Cocks observed apropos the bill to allow Sir John Dillon to divorce his wife that ‘Lord Anglesey was the occasion of two divorces this sessions of his own from his lady by his barbarous and villainous ill usage and he was the man that first took my Lady Dillon from Sir John.’29 Although he is listed as having been present in the House on 17 June 1701, Anglesey ‘being sick’ was excused attendance at the trial of Somers. He last attended the House on 24 June, the day it was prorogued.

Over the summer of 1701 Anglesey stayed at his house in Farnborough where he was visited daily by doctors and nurses. There is little doubt that he was genuinely ill, but there were also increasing suspicions about his mental state. In the course of litigation after Anglesey’s death Haversham insisted that Anglesey had been of sound mind and advanced his activity in the House of Lords in the spring and early summer of 1701 as evidence of this, but others expressed serious doubts about Anglesey’s mental capacity. Several of his servants testified that although he had been able to settle his accounts and even to keep court in his manor at Farnborough, he was ‘not right in his senses’ and that he was irrationally and unpredictably violent. He ascribed an imaginary smell to the presence of the devil who ‘followed him about to plague him’, accused a visiting timber merchant of being a devil because he had warts on his hands, and he beat his horse about the head with an oak stick because it nodded at him. He complained that ‘I have no friends’ and became increasingly dependent on Haversham who seems to have supplied a relative to act as Anglesey’s household chaplain.30

By November 1701 Anglesey was reported to be ‘in a dying condition’ and to have given as much of his estate as he could to Haversham.31 He was excused attendance at the call of the House on 5 Jan. 1702. He died on 18 Jan., apparently attended by his wife, who ‘some weeks be[fore] his death upon his desire she performed her last duty in attending him after a tender manner to his last breath, like a loving and virtuous wife.’32 Anglesey left an estate of about £7,000 p.a. at his death.33 A newsletter described his will:

Anglesey has given all his Irish estate which is about £6000 p. annum to his 3rd brother [Arthur], who lately married the Lord Haversham’s daughter, as he would have done his English estate too, which is about £1200 p. annum had he lived to the term to cut off the entail, but that with the honour is all that his 2nd brother [John] has. He returned his lady her jewels which is valued at £4000 and has left his only daughter, a child, £12,000 for her portion for her education and £400 p. annum for her education and maintenance till her marriage.34

His daughter’s £400 a year was to be used by Haversham, as guardian, with the specification that she was not to be permitted any contact with either her mother or her maternal grandmother and that Haversham need never account for its expenditure. Legacies of £1,000 were left to each of Haversham’s six younger unmarried daughters. Haversham, Arthur Annesley and Justice Coote were named as trustees and executors of the will. Since Arthur Annesley was also Haversham’s son-in-law, it was scarcely surprising that rumours that the two men had exercised undue influence emerged very quickly. A coloured print, on sale at two guineas, depicted the whole sorry story:

His lordship is seated on a necessary stool, his younger brother [Arthur], is holding a bason to him with one hand, and picking his pocket with the other hand. His Lady is led in hanging sleeves and a slobbering bibb; Lady Haversham stands by Mr Annesley holding up her apron to receive the money he picks out of my Lord’s pocket. Sloane the counsellor, is making his will, and Lord Haversham stands looking over him and directing him what he shall write; the parson and Mrs Annesley are holding the door to hinder his brother [John] and sister [Elizabeth] coming to him.35

The terms of the will led to extensive litigation. Lady Anglesey, who later married John Sheffield, duke of Buckingham, complained that the brothers’ dispute over the estate prevented her from receiving the maintenance settled under the separation act.36 Haversham’s daughters and other legatees complained that their legacies had gone unpaid.37 Anglesey’s successor in the title, his brother John, claimed that the estate was his by virtue of an entail created by their grandfather, the first earl, and that without it he was unable to support the dignity of his peerage.38 Aspects of the will were still unsettled in 1712 when Buckingham and Arthur Annesley, by then 5th earl of Anglesey, almost came to blows in the House over the guardianship of Lady Buckingham’s daughter.39

In 1718 Anglesey’s daughter, Katherine (born about September 1700), clandestinely married William Phipps, son of the former Tory lord chancellor of Ireland, Sir Constantine Phipps, reportedly with £16,000 and the prospect of £100,000 should the 5th earl of Anglesey die without children.40 The son of this marriage, Constantine Phipps, became Baron Mulgrave [I], in 1767.


  • 1 Add. 40860, f. 73.
  • 2 Add. 18730, f. 89.
  • 3 CSP Dom. 1691-2, p. 509.
  • 4 CSP Dom. 1695-6, p. 155.
  • 5 TNA, C6/336/15.
  • 6 TNA, PROB 11/463.
  • 7 TNA, C6/336/15.
  • 8 Add. 40860, f. 73.
  • 9 Add. 18730, f. 30.
  • 10 HMC Buccleuch, ii. 244.
  • 11 HEHL, HM 30659 (48), newsletter, 10 Dec. 1695; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 559; Cocks Diary, 167.
  • 12 Add. 36913, f. 266; HMC Lords, ii. 206-8; HMC Portland, iii. 574.
  • 13 CSP Dom. 1696, p. 155.
  • 14 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 296.
  • 15 HMC Bath, iii. 212-13.
  • 16 HMC Lords, n.s. iv. 188; TNA, C6/336/15.
  • 17 CSP Dom. 1699-1700, p. 382.
  • 18 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 716.
  • 19 Add. 28053, ff. 402-3.
  • 20 HMC 10th Rep. pt. iv. 335-6; HMC Cowper, ii. 416.
  • 21 HMC Lords, n.s. iv. 149-151; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 18.
  • 22 HMC Lords, n.s. iv. 188-205.
  • 23 Ibid. 190-1.
  • 24 Badminton House, Coventry pprs. FMT/B1/1/1/10.
  • 25 HMC Dartmouth, i. 293.
  • 26 HMC Lords, n.s. iv. 191-5.
  • 27 Some Reasons Against the Bill for Separating the Earl and Countess of Anglesey [?1702].
  • 28 Cocks Diary, 109, 141-2.
  • 29 Ibid. 167.
  • 30 TNA, DEL 2/3.
  • 31 CSP Dom. 1700-2, p. 453.
  • 32 Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 20 Jan. 1702.
  • 33 TNA, C6/336/15.
  • 34 Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 22 Jan. 1702.
  • 35 HMC Rutland, ii. 170.
  • 36 TNA, C6/336/15.
  • 37 TNA, C9/178/38; TNA, C9/296/53.
  • 38 TNA, C9/179/19, plea of John, earl of Anglesey, 20 Apr. 1705.
  • 39 Wentworth Pprs. 254-5; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 717.
  • 40 Verney ms mic. 636/51, C. Gardiner to Sir J. Verney, 19 Sept. 1700; J. Habakkuk, Marriage, Debt and the Estates System: English Landownership 1650-1950, pp. 219-20; Add. 28050, f. 149.