JERMYN, Henry (c. 1605-84)

JERMYN, Henry (c. 1605–84)

cr. 8 Sept. 1643 Bar. JERMYN; cr. 27 Apr. 1660 earl of ST ALBANS

First sat Oxford 1644; first sat after 1660, 1 June 1660; last sat 26 Mar. 1681

MP Bodmin 1625-6; Liverpool 1628-9; Corfe Castle 1640.

?bap. 29 Mar. 1605;1 4th but 2nd surv. s. of Sir Thomas Jermyn and Catherine, da. of Sir William Killigrew; bro. of Robert and Thomas Jermyn. educ. travelled abroad 1618. unm. (1 child illegit.). KG 1672. d. 2 Jan 1684; will 6 Dec. 1681, pr. 3 Mar. 1684.2

Gent. usher, privy chamber to Queen Henrietta Maria by 1627-39; master of queen’s horse 1639-44; gov. Jersey 1644-51, 1660-3, 1664-5;3 chamb. to the queen 1644-69; treas. and recvr. gen. to queen mother ?-1669;4 amb., France and United Provinces 1645, France 1660-1, 1662, 1666, 1667-8, 1669; PC c.1651-79. registrar of chancery 1661-76; commr. for prizes 1664-6; kpr. Greenwich House and Park from 1662; ld. chamb. 1671-4.

Commr. survey, bailiwick of St James’s c.1640; high steward, Kingston-upon-Thames 1671-?d.

Col. Queen’s Regt. of Horse Gds. 1643-4.

Associated with: Rushbrooke (Rushbrook), Suff.;5 Byfleet, Surr.;6 Oatlands Palace, Weybridge, Surr.7 and St James’s Square London.8

Likenesses: oil on canvas by Sir P. Lely, 1674, National Trust, Kedleston Hall, Derbys.

The scion of a substantial gentry family, Jermyn rose to prominence at court largely through his intimacy with Henrietta Maria. The Jermyn family commanded considerable influence in Suffolk, where they had been settled since mediaeval times and where Jermyn’s father and older brother both served as Members for Bury St Edmunds. On his mother’s side Jermyn was related to a family of court hangers-on. Before the Civil War, Jermyn sat in the Commons as member for Bodmin through the interest of his uncle, Sir Robert Killigrew, for Liverpool through that of another relative, Sir Humphrey May, and Corfe Castle through the patronage of the attorney general, Sir John Bankes. It was his appointment at court as gentleman usher of the privy chamber to the queen in 1627, however, and then as master of the queen’s horse in 1639 that helped secure his position as a courtier of significant interest.

In addition to his experience in the Commons and at court Jermyn was also early on introduced to the world of diplomacy. In 1623 he was a member of the household of John Digby, earl of Bristol, when the earl was serving as ambassador to Madrid, and in 1627 Jermyn was sent as the queen’s personal envoy to the court of France to convey his mistress’s sympathies following the death of the duchesse d’Orleans. He was again in France in 1632 to congratulate Marie de Medici on her recovery following a coach accident, for which assignment the king and queen rewarded him with a gift of jewels worth £2,000.9

Jermyn appears to have played little role in the Commons, preferring to concentrate on his career at court. By the 1640s his influence with the queen was such that his interest was considered vital in securing patronage.10 Having initially been in favour of accommodation with the king’s critics Jermyn soon abandoned this policy and became deeply embroiled in the First Army Plot.11 He fled the country to avoid arrest, probably with the king’s connivance, and by 21 May he was reported to be across the Channel at Rouen.12 Despite a furore in Parliament and widespread support for Jermyn’s impeachment, no trial ever took place. Jermyn was pointedly excepted from all further attempts by Parliament to reach an agreement with Charles I.13

Jermyn did not remain in exile for long. In February 1643, Henrietta Maria landed in Yorkshire to raise troops for the royalist cause and by the early summer Jermyn had joined her at York. He was appointed colonel of the queen’s horse guards and later that year elevated to the peerage as Baron Jermyn.14 Soon after his elevation, he was wounded at the battle of Auburn Chase but, besides this encounter, his participation in the fighting was minimal. His principal occupation during the conflict was the procuring of arms and support for the royalist cause from the continent. Continuing hostility towards him was reflected in the unflattering soubriquet then current of ‘Butcherly Jermyn, contemptible Harry’.15

In the summer of 1644 Jermyn accompanied the queen back into exile in France. He remained there for the ensuing 16 years, becoming one of the central figures of the queen’s grouping standing in opposition to Sir Edward Hyde, (later earl of Clarendon). He became closely associated with Mazarin and towards the end of the Interregnum corresponded with the cardinal on the state of affairs in England.16 When the majority of royalists were forced to leave France in 1654 as a consequence of the French alliance with England, Jermyn was permitted to remain.

Jermyn’s intimate relationship with the queen gave rise to rumours that they had been married secretly and even that he may have been the true father of Charles II.17 One satire of 1680 advising the king to attend to the question of the succession repeated the suspicions of Jermyn’s involvement in his own conception:

Dukes thou creat’st, yet want’st an heir,
Thy Portuguese is barren;
Marry again and ne’er despair:
In this lewd age we are in
Some Harry Jermyn will be found
To get an heir fit to be crown’d.18

However unlikely such tales were, Jermyn’s influence as a result of his connection with the queen is undeniable. He was thought to be sympathetic to Catholicism if not a convert himself, and, left in Paris after the departure of the rest of the court in 1654, he connived in the queen’s plans to convert her youngest son, Prince Henry, duke of Gloucester, which earned him a stinging rebuke from the king.19 He was not without rivals. Christopher Hatton, Baron Hatton, was particularly jealous of Jermyn’s influence. Hatton dismissed Jermyn’s counsels ‘as pernicious and destructive as ever and his power as vast and exorbitant.’ Jermyn’s relations with his former patron’s son, George Digby, 2nd earl of Bristol, were similarly difficult and in 1648 the two narrowly avoided fighting a duel.20 Despite this, when Bristol wished to be created a Garter knight, he was forced to turn to Jermyn to exert his influence on his behalf.21

In the early 1650s, the extent of Jermyn’s influence was such that it was rumoured that he was to be created secretary of state.22 His position as governor of Jersey further cemented his authority. Even so, Jermyn’s ascendancy was widely perceived to be damaging to the king. Hyde in particular was a bitter critic of Jersey’s influence, complaining that:

If the King will suffer himself or any of his council to be not only openly censured but in a jeering way publicly flouted by any person whatsoever and all his counsels and actions to be made table-talk in his court by every busy-body or sycophant to please the Queen or Lord Jermyn … his Majesty must never expect to be quiet.23

Jermyn’s sway had diminished considerably towards the end of the exile, which may have encouraged him to offer at least tacit support to some fairly absurd conspiracies. In 1659 reports were circulating that Jermyn and the queen were plotting to poison Richard Cromwell and, in the weeks preceding the Restoration, Jermyn was also involved in an attempt to persuade Charles II to return to France to stage his restoration from there. The plot came to nothing and the advice was not heeded.24

The Restoration, 1660-3

Having failed to convince the king to make France his base, Jermyn joined his master at Breda towards the end of April 1660 and it was there that he secured his promotion in the peerage to the earldom of St Albans. By the beginning of May he had returned to Paris, presumably to undertake further preparations for the Restoration.25 In advance of the meeting of the Convention Jermyn was assessed by Philip Wharton, 4th Baron Wharton, as a papist. Early in May St Albans arrived in England. He brought with him a message of support for Charles’s restoration from the French. In return he hoped that, ‘there will be no great obligation to the Hollanders, because “our” interest is to curb them in matters of trade.’ Such advice no doubt prompted the king to accuse St Albans at one point of being ‘more a French than an Englishman.’ Always hampered in his political ambitions by his reputation of being too sympathetic to the French, to the Catholics and too close to the queen, St Albans continued to promote closer Anglo-French relations. In the summer of 1660 he was a lone voice in counselling the king not to command the French envoy, Bordeaux, to leave the country.26 In the spring of 1661 he again pressed French desires for ‘a nearer union’.27 Yet if St Albans’ relationship with the queen and his association with the French were in some ways a hindrance to his progress, in other respects they were his strongest suits. His earldom was almost certainly owed to the queen’s influence.28

At the beginning of June 1660 St Albans was one of the first returning royalists to take his seat in the Lords. Some confusion had attended his creation as an earl and suggestions were made that the patent had been made out incorrectly but no protest was raised when he took his seat.29 Thereafter he was present on 14 days prior to the September adjournment (approximately 12 per cent of the whole). St Albans provided several assessments of the new state of affairs for the French envoy, reckoning Hyde and James Butler, duke of Ormond in the Irish peerage and later also in the English peerage, to be the men most likely to benefit from the redistribution of honours. The first, St Albans considered, was the most likely to prevail.30

Although St Albans’ much vaunted close relations with the French generated suspicion, they proved to be invaluable to the new regime. As early as the middle of June 1660, he was expected to be on the point of returning to France to inform the French king about York’s forthcoming marriage to Anne Hyde and to assist the queen dowager in her preparations for returning to England.31 He continued to attend the House until the middle of July but was then absent for almost two months, presumably undertaking this mission. Returning by the end of September, he brought news of the queen mother’s decision to remain in France ‘to avoid inconvenience.’32

St Albans took his seat in the House following the adjournment on 21 Nov., after which he proceeded to attend 31 per cent of all sitting days. The winter of 1660 was dominated, for St Albans, by the aftermath of the scandal involving York’s marriage to Anne Hyde. The affair offered St Albans an unrivalled opportunity to lambast the lord chancellor.33

St Albans seems not to have played a significant role in the elections for the new Parliament. Although the Jermyns traditionally exercised interest at Bury St Edmunds, there is little indication of St Albans exerting his authority in the area. He was missing from the opening months of the session, away on another diplomatic mission to France to negotiate the marriage between Princess Henrietta and the Duc d’Anjou.34 The Venetian resident in England commented disparagingly to the doge and senate that St Albans was, ‘really servant of the queen mother and has only come to arrange many things for her return to England.’35 The assessment neglected to take into account other areas in which St Albans exerted his interest as ambassador. For one, he was instrumental in assisting Heneage Finch, 3rd earl of Winchilsea, in his endeavours to ensure that the unrepresented French denizens of Constantinople were brought under the protection of the English embassy, following their own ambassador’s imprisonment.36 St Albans began his preparations for leaving France towards the end of October and it was thus not until 2 Dec. 1661 that he finally returned to his place in the House.37 He then proceeded to attend on 36 occasions (just 19 per cent of the total) during the remainder of the session.

In the course of 1662 St Albans forged an alliance with Henry Bennet, (later earl of Arlington) and with the earl of Bristol, who were united in their antipathy towards Clarendon.38 The new alliance bolstered St Albans’ position and Sir Edward Nicholas considered the group responsible for his removal from office in the autumn of 1662. Soon after, it was rumoured that St Albans was one of those being considered to succeed Thomas Wriothesley, 4th earl of Southampton, as lord treasurer, though there seems little reason to credit such reports.39 Nicholas was convinced that more removals were imminent and warned Ormond that he (Nicholas) was not their only target.40 In spite of earlier suggestions that St Albans had attempted to undermine Ormond, after the Restoration their relations improved noticeably. At some point in 1667 St Albans entrusted his proxy to Ormond during one of his frequent absences in France and Ormond was later the tenant of one of St Albans’ numerous houses.41

Development of St James’s and Piccadilly

Shortly after the Restoration, St Albans acquired a lease of land in the bailiwick of St James as one of Henrietta Maria’s trustees. He then proceeded to petition to secure further land in St James’s Fields in order to build houses, ‘fit for the dwelling of persons of quality.’42 This was possibly in direct response to Southampton’s development of Bloomsbury. St Albans’ new project received the king’s support as a useful means for providing appropriate housing for the nobility. In 1662 he consolidated his influence in the area with his appointment to the statutory commission for paving in Westminster.43 Initially, St Albans had trouble attracting buyers for houses on short leases, and he was compelled to petition the king for more favourable terms arguing that, ‘men will not build palaces upon any term but that of inheritance.’44 Southampton’s opposition to the amendment was overlooked and the lease was extended until 1720.45

St Albans continued to develop his interest in the area over the coming decade and in 1674 he attempted to strengthen his position further as part of his negotiations with the king settling debts accrued during the exile.46 While half of the plots in St James’s Square appear to have gone to speculative builders, the most important sites were reserved for St Albans’ close acquaintances: Bennet was one purchaser, while another plot became the French Embassy, appropriately enough.47 St Albans’ Francophile tendencies were reflected in the architecture of the area, too, which was modelled on the Palais Royal.48

Development of St James’s also had an impact on the local ecclesiastical establishment. In April 1664 the inhabitants of the bailiwick, responding to their transformed condition, petitioned Parliament to be constituted a separate parish. Leave was given in the Commons to bring in a bill, but in spite of St Albans’ patronage, the bill was unsuccessful, as were three more, in late 1664, in 1668 and in 1670. Particular opposition was encountered from the vestry of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Despite this, in 1674 St Albans set aside land for the construction of a new church in St James’s and on 3 Apr. 1676 he laid the foundation stone with Henry Compton, bishop of London. The cost of the church, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, was £7,000, provided by St Albans and members of the future parish, but it was not until after St Albans’ death that freehold of the site was granted and thus the ability to consecrate the new building.49 It was not just the church that had reason to be suspicious of the area’s transformation. For the City too, the process was of concern. During the early stages of its development the lord mayor speculated that ‘the building of St James’s by my lord St Albans, which he is now about (and which the City stomach I perceive highly, but dare not oppose it), were it now to be done, it would not be done for a million of money.’50

Opponent of Clarendon 1663-7

With his building works still early in their infancy, St Albans took his seat at the opening of the second session of the Cavalier Parliament on 18 Feb. 1663. He attended for 58 per cent of all sitting days that session. In March he took a prominent role in the debates arising from the Commons’ request that the king expel all Catholic priests from the country. As Henrietta Maria’s steward, on 19 Mar. St Albans was required to procure the details of the queen dowager’s marriage settlement concerning her employment of chaplains. On 23 Mar. he reported that he had been unable to find the documents but this did not prevent him from being appointed one of the managers of the conference with the Commons debating the proposed petition. Despite St Albans’ pronounced opposition to Clarendon, he was noted by Wharton as being opposed to Bristol’s attempt to impeach the lord chancellor that summer. Wharton’s division list on this issue may be unreliable but it is equally possible that St Albans thought the impeachment ill-timed and he preferred not to run counter to the court.

Having avoided direct association with Bristol’s abortive putsch, St Albans returned to the House for the new session on 21 Mar. 1664, after which he was present on 53 per cent of all sitting days. He was reported to be a likely replacement for Denzil Holles, Baron Holles, who was rumoured to be on the point of being recalled from his French embassy following a running dispute with the French court over matters of precedence. In the event Holles remained in post for a further two years.51 St Albans attended the prorogation day of 20 Aug. before taking his seat once more on 24 November. On 28 Jan. 1665 the House was informed of the arrest of one of St Albans’ chaplains contrary to privilege. Those responsible were summoned to appear at the bar of the House and the chaplain was ordered to be released.

St Albans was overseas once more in October 1665. In spite of his hopes of returning in time to participate in the session convened in Oxford he was absent throughout. To Arlington he wrote optimistically that, ‘I have been so constant an admirer of the affections of this Parliament and am so still that I take it for granted they have already complied with the king’s desires.’52 He returned towards the end of the year, ostensibly to arrange Henrietta Maria’s affairs, but according to the Venetian ambassador:

actually to smooth matters and also to sound the inclination of the leading members of Parliament, and conciliate their good will in some way. His return is awaited with great eagerness, for upon it they will shape the definite form of their resolutions.53

St Albans took his seat once more on 1 Oct. 1666 but his attendance proved lacklustre with him present on just 11 per cent of all sitting days. On 24 Oct. he registered his proxy for the remainder of the session with Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey. On 22 Jan. 1667 the House heard a further case relating to a breach of St Albans’ privilege. On this occasion, not only had one of St Albans’ agents been arrested but those prosecuting the suit were also accused of speaking disparagingly of the earl and of tearing up his written protection. Once again, St Albans’ privilege was upheld and on 25 Jan. the House ordered the release of the offending parties after they had apologized.

In 1667 St Albans was dispatched to France once more to undertake preliminary negotiations for ending the Second Anglo-Dutch War. Besides the principal business of his embassy, he also engaged in private negotiations on behalf of Charles Stuart, 3rd duke of Richmond, to secure the latter’s claim to the seigneury of Aubigny.54 Although the mission should have been overseen by Arlington, the king insisted that Clarendon draw up St Albans’ instructions. St Albans proceeded to infuriate the chancellor with his wilful refusal either to understand or to abide by the terms of his mission.55 He protested against accusations that he had exceeded his authority and guaranteed that his French opposite Ruvigny was equally free from blame in that regard.56 He protested to Ormond that it was ‘a great grief’ to him that it was thought he had offered such ‘unskillful’ accounts of the business in hand and insisted that, ‘it would be a great fault if the suspicion that lies upon me of being such a Monsieur should keep me from being as good an Englishman as I am in duty bound to be.’57 At one point during the discussions, St Albans was also said to have fallen out with Louis XIV, who, ‘made him to go out of his sight in great displeasure.’58 Despite this hiatus St Albans returned from his embassy advising Charles II that the French were in a ‘good temper’ and that, ‘if his majesty would make any advance towards a peace, the queen would be able to dispose that king to hearken to it, and to be a mediator between England and Holland.’59 The Venetian ambassador in France’s interpretation of affairs was somewhat different. He commented only that, ‘Lord Germen [sic] brought for the king compliments from his Britannic Majesty rather than projects for peace. It would seem that he has not succeeded in penetrating to the core of that government, or that he did not find a soil prepared for his operations.’60

St Albans’ poor relations with Clarendon were apparent when Clarendon was forced to flee to France later in the same year. St Albans, once more in France with the queen mother and clearly eager to maintain good relations both with the French and English, responded to Clarendon’s first appeal for help with ‘a very dry letter.’61 When Clarendon was then ordered to leave France, St Albans ‘did not vouchsafe to return any answer.’62


St Albans’ French mission meant that he was absent from the opening months of the autumn session of 1667. He returned to the House on 10 Feb. 1668 but proceeded to attend on just 11 days (approximately nine per cent of the whole).The ensuing year was dominated for St Albans by management of the queen dowager’s affairs and, in the aftermath of her death, in overseeing the winding up of her estate. Gossip had it that, for all their supposedly close relationship, and the queen mother’s entrusting to him of the management of her finances, St Albans treated her ‘extremely ill, so that, whilst she had not a faggot to warm herself, he had in his apartment a good fire and a sumptuous table.’63 During the exile it had been claimed that he designed ‘to possess himself of all the queen is worth.’64 In 1668, when the king was forced to retrench his expenditure, the queen mother’s income was reduced by a quarter. St Albans protested to Arlington on her behalf that, ‘you will perceive how unlooked for this blow is aimed, and with what inconveniences it will oblige her to struggle with, if the resolution of this retrenchment do stand.’65 At the same time he commented disloyally to another that:

The reasons of retrenching the queen was grounded, in my opinion, upon so invincible necessities, that if I could have prevailed I should rather have wished that at first she would have applied herself to have secured that which you were pleased to write to me was the state of the resolution, than to have struggled for a change at present.66

When St Albans was engaged with undertaking negotiations for the queen mother’s return the following year, his involvement inspired familiar rumours of his underhand dealings.67 On Henrietta Maria’s death in September 1669 the English resident, Ralph Montagu, later duke of Montagu, named along with St Albans as one of the commissioners for overseeing the late queen’s estate, took steps to ensure all her goods were sealed fearing that St Albans would attempt to ransack the goods. Montagu wrote to Arlington that ‘I am sure without this my lord St Albans would not have left a silver spoon in the house.’68 St Albans was infuriated, though he showed no sign of it in his report to Arlington the day after the queen mother’s death.69

Settling the late queen’s affairs was presumably the reason for St Albans’s absence from the entirety of the brief session of October 1669. He finally took his seat once more at the opening of the new session on 14 Feb. 1670 and was thereafter present on 44 per cent of all sitting days. The following month, on 17 Mar. he registered his dissent at the resolution to give a second reading to the bill permitting John Manners, Lord Roos (later duke of Rutland), to divorce. That summer St Albans was said to have been one of those present at a drunken feast attended by the king which resulted in the poet, Edmund Waller, tumbling downstairs and cracking his head open.70

The loss of his mistress did not mark the end of St Albans’ influence. On the death of Edward Montagu, 2nd earl of Manchester, in 1671 St Albans beat off the pretensions of a number of other peers to succeed him as lord chamberlain. According to one correspondent, the satisfaction St Albans felt in securing the post had a rejuvenating effect upon him and made him ‘as youthful … as when he was Harry Jermyn.’71 Shortly after assuming the post St Albans was involved in a dispute over precedence with his counterpart, the lord great chamberlain (Robert Bertie, 3rd earl of Lindsey). The case was settled in Lindsey’s favour.72

St Albans returned to the House for the prorogation day of 30 Oct. 1672 and then took his seat once more in the new session on 1 Mar. 1673, of which he attended almost 54 per cent of all sitting days. He attended three out of the four days of the brief session convened that October before returning to the House at the opening of the new session on 7 Jan. 1674, of which he proceeded to attend 55 per cent of the whole. Later that year, he stood down as lord chamberlain, surrendering his staff to his former protégé, Arlington.73

St Albans was missing from the opening of the new session in April 1675 but covered his absence by registering his proxy with Ormond. The proxy was vacated when he took his seat on 21 Apr. after which he was present on 48 per cent of all sitting days. In October his attendance fell off markedly and he was present for just two days of the 21-day session convened that month. On 15 Nov. he entrusted his proxy to Louis de Duras, Baron Duras (later earl of Feversham), which was vacated by the close. Missing from the opening of the new session of February 1677, St Albans again covered his absence by entrusting his proxy to Ormond. It was vacated by his return to the House on 12 Mar. and he was thereafter present on approximately 52 per cent of all sitting days. In May he was listed by Anthony Ashley Cooper, earl of Shaftesbury, unsurprisingly enough, as triply vile. The same year a bill was introduced into the Commons aiming to prevent the erection of any more new buildings in London. This appears to have been at St Albans’ instigation, eager to monopolize his position in St James’s.74 The bill failed. On 4 Apr. 1678 he voted Philip Herbert, 7th earl of Pembroke, not guilty in his trial for murder.

St Albans returned to the House at the opening of the following session on 23 May 1678. He attended on almost 77 per cent of all sitting days and was then present for the prorogation day of 1 Oct. before taking his seat once more on 21 Oct., after which he was present on 82 per cent of all sitting days. In December he was one of a handful of peers required to take the oaths twice, though it was unclear what objection had been made to his initial declaration.75 On 26 Dec. he voted in favour of insisting on the Lords’ amendments to the supply bill and the following day he voted against committing Danby. St Albans seems not to have exerted any particular influence over the elections for the new Parliament. He returned to the House on 6 Mar. 1679 and sat once more during the abortive session before taking his seat at the opening of the new session on 15 March. He was thereafter present on 69 per cent of all sitting days. In advance of the session he had been noted by Danby as a likely supporter and on 14 Apr. he voted as expected against drawing up a bill of attainder. The following month on 10 May he voted against appointing a joint committee of Lords and Commons to consider the method of proceeding against the impeached lords. On 27 May he probably voted for the right of the bishops to stay in the House during capital cases.

St Albans took his seat once more a day into the new Parliament on 22 Oct. 1680 and on 15 Nov. he voted in favour of putting the question to reject the Exclusion bill, and then in favour of rejecting the bill on its first reading. The following month he found William Howard, Viscount Stafford, not guilty. He attended just three days of the brief Oxford Parliament of March 1681 but he was again assessed by Danby as likely to support his attempts to secure bail. Even so, he appears as ever to have been eager to play a role in securing some sort of accommodation between the various factions. This was certainly the opinion of James, duke of York, who reported as much to Ormond that autumn:

At his Majesty’s first going to Newmarket, I was somewhat alarmed at the report of some offers [which] were made to his Majesty by the party, and great endeavours were used to persuade him they would serve him, many of the jocks were for this, and poor lord St Albans as busy in it as any body else, which I do not wonder at knowing the dealings he has always had, with many of the Presbyterians, but now I hope that is over and sure his Majesty cannot be deceived by them again.76

Death and legacy

By the end of his life, St Albans had fallen prey to blindness but this did not prevent him from continuing to indulge his hedonistic pleasures. His friend, the French exile and bon viveur Saint Evremond rebuked him for retiring to the country when ‘the great and good town of London expects you … if you stay in the country with your deep spleen you’ll never live six months to an end.’77 John Evelyn, coming across him at the duchess of Grafton’s remarked that, ‘It is incredible how easy a life this Gent has lived, and in what plenty even abroad, whilst his Majesty was a sufferer … He is with all this a prudent old Courtier, and much enriched since his Majesty’s return.’78 Grammont in his memoirs concluded that St Albans, ‘a man of no great genius, had raised himself a considerable fortune from nothing, and by losing at play, and keeping a great table, made it appear greater than it was.’79 Clarendon, who more than any other had reason to dislike St Albans, concluded that, ‘He was not mischievous in his nature or inclinations, yet did more mischief than any man of the age he lived in.’80

St Albans had been thought on the point of death in December 1682.81 He survived for just over a year before succumbing to a fit of apoplexy in January 1684. According to one report the cause of death was a surfeit of toasted cheese.82 By then he was sufficiently retired from the public gaze that his demise was noted cursorily in one newsletter alongside reports of the river freezing over.83 No longer prominent at court, St Albans was reported to have died massively in debt. In March 1682 he had attempted to economize by retreating to Suffolk.84 Even so, his funeral cortège was said to have consisted of 69 coaches, 27 of them accompanying the hearse all the way to Suffolk. He bequeathed £10,000 to one nephew Henry Jermyn, later Baron Dover, while the remainder of his estates, including plate valued at £600 went to another, Thomas Jermyn, who succeeded him as 2nd Baron Jermyn.85 In the absence of direct heirs, St Alban’s earldom reverted to the crown. The source of St Alban’s wealth can only be described as mysterious. He had benefited from generous grants from the king, including one for the quit rents from lands restored to the marquess of Antrim [I], as well as his access to the queen dowager’s revenue, yet by 1667 he was so heavily in debt that he was compelled to seek £5,000 for one of his houses to alleviate his crippled finances.86 The crisis clearly passed and by the close of his life, St Albans had rebuilt his fortune. Montagu perhaps got closest to the truth with his assessment that St Albans had managed throughout ‘by his wits and by play.’87 St Albans’ most abiding legacy was his development of St James’s and his influence at court as a Francophile-leaning diplomat. His demise was marked by an elegy, which proclaimed him, disingenuously and far from accurately, to have been:

Great without title, in thy self alone,
A mighty lord, thou stood’st oblig’d to none
But heaven and thy self.88


  • 1 A. Adolph, The King’s Henchman: Stuart Spymaster and Architect of the British Empire, 16.
  • 2 PROB 11/375.
  • 3 CSP Dom. 1670 and Addenda 1660-70, p. 647; Newman, Royalist Officers, 211.
  • 4 Add. 22062.
  • 5 TNA, PROB. 11/375.
  • 6 VCH Surr. iii. 402.
  • 7 Ibid. 478.
  • 8 Survey of London, xxix. 118.
  • 9 CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 328; 1631-3, p. 420.
  • 10 HMC Bath, ii. 76-77.
  • 11 J. Miller, Charles II, 102; TRHS, xxxviii. 85ff.
  • 12 CSP Dom. 1640-1, pp. 578, 584, 585.
  • 13 CJ, iii. 636, iv. 356; LJ, vii. 55; x. 548.
  • 14 M.A. Everett Green, Letters of Queen Henrietta Maria, 222.
  • 15 Newman, 211.
  • 16 V. Barbour, Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, 17; CCSP, iv. 47; TNA, PRO 31/3/105, pp. 46, 243.
  • 17 Pepys, iii. 263; Grammont Mems. 342n.; CSP Dom. 1660-1, pp. 179, 189; 1678, p. 256; Rushbrook Par. Reg. 268-9.
  • 18 POAS, ii. 187.
  • 19 Letters, Speeches and Declarations of King Charles II ed. A. Bryant, 32.
  • 20 Nicholas Pprs. i. 93, 116.
  • 21 H.M. Digby, Sir Kenelm Digby and George Digby, Earl of Bristol, 252-3.
  • 22 Nicholas Pprs. i. 227.
  • 23 Ibid. 295.
  • 24 CCSP, iv. 173.
  • 25 PRO 31/3/107, p. 19; Bodl. Clarendon 72, ff. 1-2.
  • 26 Clarendon, Life, i. 485-6.
  • 27 CCSP, iv. 673, v. 5, 87.
  • 28 Eg. 2551, f. 16; Clarendon, Rebellion, xvi. 230; CCSP, iv. 474.
  • 29 CCSP iv. 550, 650.
  • 30 PRO 31/3/107, p. 82.
  • 31 Ibid. pp. 122, 140, 158; HMC 5th Rep. 173, 205.
  • 32 HEHL. HA 7644; HMC 5th Rep.156, 168-9, 174; HMC Le Fleming, 26.
  • 33 PRO 31/3/108, pp. 48-51, 58-63.
  • 34 CCSP, v. 87.
  • 35 CSP Ven. 1661-4, p. 77.
  • 36 HMC Finch, i. 105, 122, 123, 135.
  • 37 Clarendon 105, f. 83.
  • 38 TNA, SP 78/122, f. 150.
  • 39 Verney ms mic. M636/18, Dr W. Denton to Sir R. Verney, 16 Oct. 1662.
  • 40 Bodl. Carte 47, f. 371.
  • 41 Nicholas Pprs. i. 147.
  • 42 CSP Dom. 1663-4, p. 239.
  • 43 TNA, C66/3077; Survey of London, xxix. 323.
  • 44 N.G. Brett-James, Growth of Stuart London, 325, 370; Rushbrook Par. Reg. 274, 275; CSP Dom. 1663, p. 239.
  • 45 Survey of London, xxix. 2.
  • 46 Eg. 3351, f. 127.
  • 47 Add. 22063; Dasent, Hist. of St James’s Sq. 10-11.
  • 48 Survey of London, xxix. 29, 31, 32, 450.
  • 49 Rushbrook Par. Reg. 277.
  • 50 Pepys, Diary, iv. 295-6.
  • 51 HMC Hastings, ii. 144.
  • 52 SP 78/121, f. 133.
  • 53 CSP Ven. 1664-6, p. 230.
  • 54 Add 21947, ff. 53-55, 153, 213.
  • 55 T.H. Lister, Life and Administration of Edward 1st Earl of Clarendon, ii. 371-2.
  • 56 Add. 32094, f. 179.
  • 57 Carte 35, ff. 446, 539.
  • 58 Pepys, viii. 294.
  • 59 Clarendon, Life, iii. 204.
  • 60 CSP Ven. 1666-8, p. 133.
  • 61 Clarendon, Life, iii. 349-50.
  • 62 Ibid. 355.
  • 63 Grammont Mems. 448.
  • 64 Nicholas Pprs. i. 160.
  • 65 Letters of Queen Henrietta Maria, 412.
  • 66 SP 78/125, f. 104; Letters of Queen Henrietta Maria, 414.
  • 67 CSP Ven. 1669-70, p. 50.
  • 68 HMC Buccleuch, i. 439-40.
  • 69 Ibid. 438; Letters of Queen Henrietta Maria, 417.
  • 70 The Whirlpool of Misadventures: Letters of Robert Paston, First Earl of Yarmouth 1663-79, (Norf. Rec. Soc. lxxvi), 103.
  • 71 Add. 36916, ff. 162, 222; HMC Lindsey, 196; Whirlpool of Misadventures, 118-19.
  • 72 HMC Cowper, iii. 183.
  • 73 Bodl. ms film 293 (Newdigate) L.C. 82; PRO 31/3/131, ff. 58-59.
  • 74 Dasent, 27.
  • 75 Carte 81, ff. 388, 394.
  • 76 HMC Ormond, i. 33.
  • 77 Add. 61435, f. 63.
  • 78 Evelyn, Diary, iv. 337-8.
  • 79 Grammont Mems. 106.
  • 80 Clarendon’s Four Portraits ed. R. Ollard, 125.
  • 81 Bodl. Tanner 35, f. 138; Verney ms mic. M636/37, Sir R. to J. Verney, 7 Dec. 1682, M636/37, J. to Sir R. Verney, 11 Dec. 1682.
  • 82 Carte 216, f. 401.
  • 83 HMC Drumlanrig, 202.
  • 84 Add. 29578, f. 1; Add. 75375, ff. 3-4.
  • 85 NAS, GD 406/1/3260.
  • 86 SP 78/121, f. 5; CSP Ire. 1663-5, pp. 622, 686-7; Add. 21947, f. 123.
  • 87 HMC Buccleuch, i. 432.
  • 88 An Elegy on the Death of the Most Illustrious Lord, the Earl of St Albans, (1684).