HYDE, Laurence (Lawrence) (1642-1711)

HYDE, Laurence (Lawrence) (1642–1711)

cr. 23 Apr. 1681 Visct. Hyde; cr. 29 Nov. 1682 earl of ROCHESTER

First sat 19 May 1685; last sat 1 May 1711

MP Newport 1660; Oxford University 1661; Wootton Bassett 1679

b. 15 Mar. 1642, 2nd s. of Edward Hyde, (later earl of Clarendon) and Frances Aylesbury; bro. of Edward Hyde and Henry Hyde, (later 2nd earl of Clarendon). educ. M. Temple 1660. m. bef. 14 June 1665, Lady Henrietta Boyle (d.1687), da. of Richard Boyle, earl of Burlington, 2s. (1 d.v.p.), 4da.1 KG 29 June 1685. d. 2 May 1711, admon. 16 May 1711 to s. Henry Hyde, 2nd earl of Rochester.2

Master of robes 1662-78; amb. extraordinary, Poland 5 July 1676-13 Feb. 1677; plenip., Nijmegen 30 Aug. 1677-14 Feb. 1679; envoy, The Hague 1677; commr. treasury 26 Mar. 1679, first ld. 21 Nov. 1679-9 Sept. 1684; PC 19 Nov. 1679-Dec. 1688, 1 Mar. 1692-1702, 18 Mar. 1702-8, 21 Sept. 1710-d.; ld. pres. 1684-5, 1710-d.; extraordinary gent. of the bedchamber 1680-5;3 ld. lt. [I] 1685,4 1700-3; ld. treas. 16 Feb. 1685-4 Jan. 1687; postmaster gen. and chan. to Queen Mary of Modena 1685-9; commr. ecclesiastical affairs 1686-7;5 commr. appeal for prizes 1694-5.6

Freeman, Portsmouth 1661; commr. assessment, Westminster 1677-9, Oxf. Univ. 1677-80, Wilts. 1679-80; kpr. Richmond New Park 1683-?d.; recorder, Salisbury 1685-Oct. 1688; custos rot., Herts. 1686-9, Cornw. 1710-d.; ld. lt., Herts. 1687-9, Cornw. 1710-d.; high steward, Oxf. Univ. 1709-d.

Gov. Merchant Adventurers’ Co. 1684-c.1692.

Associated with: St James’s Square, Westminster; Cockpit, Westminster;7 New Park, Petersham, Surr.,8 and Vasterne Park, Wootton Bassett, Wilts.

Likenesses: oil on canvas, by G. Kneller, 1685, English Heritage, Kenwood, London; oil on canvas, by G. Kneller, 1685?, NPG 4033; oil on canvas after W. Wissing, c.1685-7, NPG 819.

Second son of the lord chancellor, ‘honest Lory’ Hyde was more able than his older brother, Henry, though his talents were offset by a tendency to drink too much and by a reputation for being ‘easily wound up to a passion.’9 This assessment was echoed by Gilbert Burnet, bishop of Salisbury, while, according to Macky, in time his opponents became wise to this weakness and were able to exploit it by making him lose his train of thought when speaking in debates.10 William Cowper, later Earl Cowper, thought him ‘a good natured man, though hot’ and was so struck by his kindness during proceedings in the House on one occasion that he declared in his diary that if it should ever be in his power, he would be ‘glad to do him a kindness, though a violent man of a contrary party’.11 Rochester’s occasionally splenetic temperament sat uneasily with his role as a courtier and diplomat. While on the one hand he was credited with being ‘the smoothest man in court’, he was also notorious for his tendency when roused to ‘swear like a cutter.’12 Drunken escapades also reflected on his reputation. One anecdote of the 1680s told how he and George Jeffreys, Baron Jeffreys, both became so drunk at one civic dinner that they stripped naked and had to be prevented from clambering up a signpost to drink the king’s health.13

During his career of almost three decades in the Lords, Hyde proved to be one of the foremost leaders of the high Tory interest and a stalwart of the Church of England. In spite of this he was more willing to work with men of differing views than is often acknowledged. Though not a very accomplished orator, he grew to be one of the most respected members of the House on account of his close knowledge of procedure.14 This was reflected in his prominence as an assiduous committee chairman and manager of conferences alongside his role as the holder of a succession of senior governmental offices.

Early career to 1681

Following much of his youth spent with his family in exile, Hyde returned to England at the Restoration when he was elected (while still underage) for Newport in the Convention. The following year he transferred to Oxford University, which he proceeded to represent until the dismissal of the Cavalier Parliament. Through his father’s interest he was also preferred to the household office of master of the robes. Three years later it was reported that he was also to be made keeper of the privy purse but this proved not to be the case.15

The fall of Clarendon in 1667 seems not to have damaged Hyde’s career. He made a rare speech in the Commons in defence of his father but managed the affair so dexterously that he inspired comparison with Brutus. Thus while he protested his father’s innocence, he insisted that he would be the first to call for his punishment should he be guilty. Such careful handling of a situation that could have proved terminal to his prospects meant that he remained largely untarnished by his father’s fall, despite murmurings that ‘some wonder that the earl of Clarendon’s two sons should still keep their places’ and rumours that circulated between December 1667 and February 1668 that he would be forced to give up the mastership of the robes.16 According to one report, the real reason for his ability to keep his place was that he was able to subsist ‘(like Geneva) by the jealousy of competitors.’17

Having survived this crisis, and a subsequent bout of smallpox, Hyde continued to thrive. In 1673 it was rumoured that he was one of three courtiers to be granted peerages. Although this failed to come to pass, by the mid 1670s he had developed a career as both courtier and parliamentarian, and in 1676 he was despatched on his first diplomatic mission (though this posting later caused him some embarrassment after it was reported that he had delivered a speech espousing Catholicism).18 Following further speculation of likely appointments in 1678, in the spring of the following year he was appointed one of the new commissioners at the treasury. That November it was again rumoured that he was to be granted a peerage.19 In all this he was assisted by his connection to his brother-in-law, Prince James, duke of York, though he was also said to have benefited from the patronage of the duchess of Cleveland.20 York had been active in promoting Hyde’s marriage to Lady Henrietta Boyle and had assured her father that he would ‘make it my business not only to have a care of him, but of their children.’21 The subsequent marriage of York’s daughter, Princess Mary, to William of Orange in 1677 proved more complex; the prince did not wish either Hyde or his wife in his household, being wary of him as an avowed member of York’s circle.22

For the first two Exclusion Parliaments Hyde transferred to Wootton Bassett, a manor that he had previously purchased for £30,000 and where he exercised considerable interest.23 He was one of only two members of the Privy Council in the Commons to stand out against the exclusion bill in January 1680, by which time Hyde had emerged alongside Robert Spencer, 2nd earl of Sunderland, and Sidney Godolphin, later earl of Godolphin, as one of a new leading triumvirate of young ministers. Dubbed ‘the Chits’ they had come to the fore in the wake of the fall of Thomas Osborne, earl of Danby (later duke of Leeds).24 In May Hyde’s continued dominance of the treasury was reflected in reports that he was to be made sole treasurer. He was also engaged in efforts to supplant the king’s mistress, the duchess of Portsmouth, with Hortense de Mazzini, duchesse de Mazarin. Such manoeuvrings underscored the divisions at court and helped make prominent ministers, such as Hyde, vulnerable to attack. Along with George Savile, marquess of Halifax, he was one of those the Commons asked to be removed from the king’s presence. He was also subject to assault in the Lords and only narrowly avoided being impeached.25

Hyde failed to stand for the Oxford Parliament, though he remained a close adviser to the king and was said to have counselled terminating the session early. He also featured in Absalom and Achitophel as the loyal Hushai. The following month he was raised to the peerage as a viscount, an honour that the king was said to have intended to confer on him some time before.26 Morrice recorded the title as being Viscount Killingworth (Kenilworth), but the style adopted was Viscount Hyde which prompted Colonel Cooke to remark to James Butler, duke of Ormond, that he thought it ‘unusual for a viscountship to be annexed to a name.’27 However unusual the style, Hyde’s promotion (rumours of which had been current since November of the previous year) prompted some to speculate that his elevation to the peerage was ‘the first step to his sole lord treasurership’ and by the close of April he was noted by Richard Butler, earl of Arran [I] (Baron Butler) as ‘the greatest man in favour at court now.’28

The Tory Reaction, 1681-5

One of Hyde’s first actions following his ennoblement (acting in concert with his brother) was to recommend their father’s former chaplain, William Levett, to the post of principal of Magdalen Hall in Oxford, left vacant by the death of their kinsman, Dr Hyde. Although there were other contenders for the place, Ormond agreed to the appointment.29 At the beginning of July, Hyde was one of those to sign the order for the commitment of Anthony Ashley Cooper, earl of Shaftesbury. Soon after he sounded a cautionary note in his correspondence with Richard Legh over plans for a loyal address from Cheshire in response to the king’s declaration setting out his reasons for dissolving the Oxford Parliament. Hyde’s attitude to the address perhaps reflected his qualms at the wisdom of the king’s decision: ‘I do not give you any advice one way or other concerning an address (of which I am as little fond as you can be) and I am sure, if there ever be any good in them, it can only consist in the unanimity of it’.30

The same month Hyde was present at an interview between the king and the prince of Orange and in August he attended a ‘noble treat’ laid on for the prince by Christopher Monck, 2nd duke of Albemarle.31 That month at least one newsletter reported renewed rumours of the appointment of a lord treasurer in which ‘some cry up Hyde others Seymour [Sir Edward Seymour]’. Although this failed once more to transpire, Hyde’s burgeoning influence was more than apparent. Later that month he was one of four laymen appointed to act alongside William Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, and Henry Compton, bishop of London, ‘to dispose of all ecclesiastical preferments’.32 In September Hyde was despatched to Edinburgh, possibly at Halifax’s urging, to confer with the exiled York and to inform him why his ‘presence in this conjuncture may be inconvenient to his majesty’s affairs.’33 He also attempted in vain to persuade his brother-in-law to abjure Catholicism and resume attendance at Anglican services. By the close of the month Hyde had returned to the court assembled at Newmarket, where he was closely involved with negotiations between Charles and the French.34

Hyde’s growing interest at court was not simply owing to his managerial abilities. Colonel John Churchill, (later duke of Marlborough) reckoned him ‘the best man living’.35 There was a seamier side to his progression as well. Prior to his departure for Scotland, according to gossip emanating from Berkeley House, Hyde had been seen in St James’s Park with the duchesse de Mazarin, ‘in preparation to some amour’. This had been consummated shortly after, ‘he manfully twice performing.’ The tale, though of dubious provenance, was communicated to the incapacitated James Compton, 3rd earl of Northampton, as part of his regular news, ‘for some divertissement as well as intelligence.’36

Hyde’s return from Scotland coincided with growing tensions within the administration concerning the direction of foreign policy, financial mismanagement and over affairs in Ireland. Disagreement over these and other matters helped provoke a spectacular falling-out between Hyde and Halifax. Fears of other divisions were no doubt reflected in the fact that Ormond was forced to assert on more than one occasion that his relationship with Hyde remained entirely amicable.37 Relations with Richard Jones, earl of Ranelagh [I] were less so, and following one meeting in the treasury chamber at which they were said to have engaged in ‘a brisk repartee’, Arran concluded that ‘open war is begun betwixt them two.’ By the close of the year there was talk of York and several of his followers (among them Hyde) being impeached over the promotion of the ‘Presbyterian sham plot.’38 Once again, Hyde avoided his father’s fate, and by the spring of the following year rumours were once more current of his advancement to the post of lord treasurer. With his interest once more resurgent, Hyde was eager to assure potential allies of his good wishes. The early months of 1682 found him in correspondence with the duke of Hamilton concerning the prospects of Hamilton’s heir, James Hamilton, earl of Arran [S] (later duke of Hamilton [S] and Brandon).39 He was also at pains to improve his relations with his father’s old friend, Ormond:

I shall never be able to do the part of my father either to his grace, or in any other share of the king’s service, but I will never be wanting in all the duty I can pay both to the memory of the friendship that was between my lord duke and my father.40

Hyde’s family suffered a further loss in May 1682 when his younger brother, James Hyde, and about 150 others went down with the Gloucester while in attendance on York. Although York was severely criticized for the way in which he managed his own escape from the wreck while leaving others to perish, the affair appears to have done nothing to damage York’s relationship with Hyde.41

Over the summer Hyde was distracted by other family issues. First by the crisis that arose over the disputed marriage between Hyde’s cousin, Bridget, and Peregrine Osborne, styled Lord Dunblane [S] (later 2nd duke of Leeds), and later by a more positive event when Hyde’s daughter, Henrietta, married Ormond’s grandson, James Butler, earl of Ossory [I] (later 2nd duke of Ormond).42 Danby attempted to assure Hyde that he was not responsible for Dunblane’s behaviour and hoped Hyde would not think him ‘capable of so mean a contrivance.’43 Sir Gilbert Talbot on the other hand was able to hope that Ormond would take satisfaction from the Hyde-Butler match, Hyde being ‘a man after your grace’s own heart, well principled towards his prince and a generous friend.’44

As Hyde’s interest continued to grow, at the close of July 1682 it was again put about that he was on the point of being made lord treasurer.45 The following month, in spite of his wariness over relying too much on a man so closely connected to York, William of Orange was said to be actively seeking Hyde’s ‘powerful influence’ in securing the king’s agreement to an alliance against Louis XIV. Hyde was also increasingly involved with Ormond. In September Hyde was one of those to persuade Ormond to remain in London assuring him that his ‘reputation in the world, and especially with the old loyal party, is of use in the present conjuncture’. At the end of October, Ormond claimed that his recent advancement to an English dukedom had been promoted by Hyde. No doubt gratified by the distinction, Ormond declared Hyde to be ‘the best and honestest minister among us.’46 By the middle of November it was said that Hyde ‘rules all’. Indeed, as early as August he was described by Richard Graham, Viscount Preston [S] as ‘first minister of state to the king of England’.47 Hyde was believed to have been instrumental in securing the disgrace of John Sheffield, 3rd earl of Mulgrave (later duke of Buckingham and Normanby). The immediate cause of Mulgrave’s fall was his rumoured liaison with Princess Anne, but Hyde was thought to have objected to Mulgrave paying too much attention to his wife as well.48

Hyde’s continuing domination of court was recognized by his promotion to the earldom of Rochester. That said he was one of a dozen men to be granted new titles between November and December 1682 and the king’s largesse at the time led at least one commentator to joke to one of his correspondents not to come to London for fear that he too would be made a peer. As was often the case, there was at first some uncertainty over what the title was to be. At least two commentators reported that Hyde had been created earl of Falmouth.49 The earldom of Rochester was only recently vacant, and the new earl was clearly conscious that in taking on a title that had until so recently been in another family he risked overstepping the bounds of propriety. Writing to his heir, Henry Hyde, styled Lord Hyde (later 2nd earl of Rochester), he insisted that the title of Viscount Hyde was one that ‘I part with, with trouble, for I was best pleased with that which my father and myself had been so long known by.’ He continued to offer his heir advice on his future conduct:

be sure to make it your perpetual care to be known for an honourable man, a religious man to God, an obedient subject to the king, and a good friend to all that have been kind to me … be sure no increase of honour, and greatness make you proud, it is the most impertinent of all the imperfections a man can be guilty of.50

The new year found Rochester once more engaged with affairs at court, which it was noted was now divided between ‘Tories Whigs and Trimmers.’ Rochester was among the foremost members of the ‘thoroughest Tories’.51 He was also, according to the secretary of state, Sir Leoline Jenkins, unusually forward in employing his interest on behalf of the diplomat, Edmund Poley.52 Towards the end of the month his feud with Halifax resurfaced over the farm of the hearth tax. Bad blood had existed between them since Rochester had attempted to prevent Halifax’s appointment as lord privy seal. Halifax now sought to bring his rival down over allegations that Rochester had been complicit in a fraud perpetrated by the hearth tax farmers.53 The newly ennobled Thomas Thynne, Viscount Weymouth, worried at Halifax’s choice of opponent: ‘for though I am satisfied that you would not begin any thing of that nature without being very well grounded, yet I am not sure it will prevail, where interest and great friends take the other side’.54

For the time being Rochester was able to counter Halifax’s accusations, but the assault on his character brought out his most choleric side and left the two men more bitterly divided than ever. When Halifax proposed a new financial scheme, Rochester not only opposed it but advised other speculators to have nothing to do with Halifax’s plan.55 In all this Rochester’s standing at court offered him powerful protection. In March 1683 it was to his house that the queen, York and his duchess resorted following the fire at Newmarket. The following month it was rumoured that he was to be made lord lieutenant of Ireland.56 Such reports no doubt encouraged Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey, to seek his support in securing justice there.57 In the meantime Rochester was one of those engaged in settling a dispute between Henry Bennet, earl of Arlington, and the groom of the stole, John Granville, earl of Bath, over access to the king’s bedchamber.58

Rochester’s feud with Halifax persisted throughout the summer and in July it was reported that the two peers had exchanged words at a meeting of the council.59 A bout of poor health offered Rochester an opportunity to retreat to Twickenham but divisions in the council continued.60 In mid October it was reported that Jenkins and Halifax were keen to see Parliament recalled; Sunderland and Rochester were opposed to the notion.61 By the close of the year, in the aftermath of the trial and execution of Algernon Sydney, and the other Rye House plotters, such divisions had become more entrenched. Halifax was said to have had ‘a great hand’ in bringing in James Scott, duke of Monmouth, with the sole motivation of outdoing Rochester, who remained steadfastly loyal to York.62

If relations within the council remained tense, Rochester continued to benefit from his leading role in government. Following the suppression of London’s charter, part of a broader governmental crackdown, he was one of the commissioners appointed to supervise affairs in the city.63 Moreover, rumours circulated through March, April and into May 1684 that Rochester was shortly to be appointed lord treasurer, though the post continued to elude him.64 Weight of business seems to have made Rochester rather elusive. One suitor related how he had been forced to lie to Rochester’s servants that he was waiting on their master by appointment in order to secure access to him.65

While pressure from Halifax continued to build, Rochester seems to have made a positive effort to cultivate alternative allies. Towards the end of April he agreed to lend his support to the nomination of John Lake, bishop of Sodor and Man (later bishop of Chichester) to become the new bishop of Bristol at the instance of his friend, Francis Turner, then of Rochester (later of Ely) even though his ‘inclinations were leaning towards another.’66 By July even the duchess of Portsmouth, formerly heartily opposed to Rochester, was said to be making ‘great professions’ of friendship towards him.67 At the close of the month, though, the omens appeared less positive amid reports that Halifax’s nominees, Henry Frederick Thynne (Weymouth’s brother) and Sir Dudley North, had been added to the treasury commission. Writing from Paris, Preston certainly thought that they were ‘looked upon to be of ill abode to my Lord Rochester in whom they here seem to repose trust and to augur something of a parliament.’68 The erosion of Rochester’s position persisted through August and at the end of the month he was ‘kicked upstairs’ to the prestigious, if less powerful, office of lord president of the council instead.69 At the beginning of September it was speculated that further changes were also afoot and that Ormond would share in Rochester’s fall. Halifax was thought to be the likely beneficiary of the new state of affairs.70 Putting a brave face on it, Rochester informed Ormond that he was relieved by the change to his own position and glad to have been removed from an office that had made him bad-tempered.71

Discussion of continuing changes at court persisted into the following month but by October 1684 such reports appeared to be on the point of being settled by the king’s decision to replace Ormond with Rochester as lord lieutenant of Ireland. Informing Ormond of his resolution, the king insisted that Rochester was ‘every way fit for it, and in one respect fitter than any other man can be, which is that the near relation he has to you makes your concerns and those of your family to be his.’ York echoed this by assuring Ormond that Rochester would ‘have all the care imaginable of you and your family’s concerns.’ Although Ormond responded that had he been asked to name a successor Rochester would have been his choice, the appointment threatened to sour relations between the two men, with Ormond convinced initially that Rochester had plotted to supplant him.72 Rochester’s other rivals were said to have been delighted by the turn of events, believing that Rochester had demonstrated the extent of his untrustworthiness.73 Although Rochester attempted to pacify his father’s old friend, confessing that he had ‘suspected something of this kind coming in almost ever since you went from hence’, it was only when the chronology of events became apparent that Ormond expressed himself satisfied that Rochester had not been behind the decision.74 Despite a request by Ormond that his removal might be delayed until the end of winter, Rochester’s appointment was widely reported during the first week of November, though it was noted that it was unlikely that he would take up the place before the spring.75 On 12 Nov. the appointment was announced formally to the council. The king insisted that Ormond was ‘very well pleased’ with the change. Relations between Rochester and Ormond remained uneasy to the close of the year, though they collaborated closely over the arrangements for Lord and Lady Ossory’s establishment in Ireland. Although Rochester also appears to have enjoyed very civil relations with Ormond’s son, Arran, their alliance was threatened by the publication of part of their correspondence (probably through Arran’s auspices).76

Rochester’s appointment to Ireland was interpreted as a sign of his weakening interest. John Dolben, archbishop of York, doubted that he would have agreed to take on the post had he been in a freer position at that point.77 Even so, in January 1685 it was rumoured (incorrectly) that he was to be promoted in the peerage once again to a marquessate. The same month found Rochester and Ormond united by the loss of Rochester’s daughter, Lady Ossory. Some thought her death greatly reduced the likelihood of Rochester taking up his new post in Ireland.78

The downturn in Rochester’s fortunes coincided with continuing disputes with Halifax over the hearth tax. By February 1685 Halifax was convinced that he had sufficient evidence against Rochester to present to the king but he was forestalled by Charles’s sudden collapse and death on 2 February.79 The king’s demise robbed Halifax of his opportunity and saved Rochester from a damaging investigation. Nevertheless, when Rochester wrote to Ormond five days later informing him of the king’s death, he confessed that he was still so stunned by his own loss that he was as yet unable to pay much attention to the loss to the public. Charles’s death signalled a transformation in Rochester’s fortunes, and within days of the accession of James II he was again being described as ‘a great man’ and once more tipped to be likely to be appointed lord treasurer.80 By 14 Feb. he was able to inform Ormond that he would no longer be taking up his post in Ireland and over the next few days reports abounded of his appointment to the treasurership.81 John Fell, bishop of Oxford, noted that Rochester’s ‘new honours do certainly now supersede his employment in Ireland.’82

The reign of James II 1685-8

Rochester’s emergence as chief minister in the new administration signalled his reward for years of clear loyalty to his former brother-in-law. With his renewed supremacy came expectations and at the beginning of April, the lord chief justice, Jeffreys, sought his intervention to dissuade Sir Thomas Lee from assisting the opposition in Buckinghamshire.83 In April it was rumoured that Rochester would be further rewarded with promotion to a dukedom, though as with the marquessate this failed to come to pass.84 On 19 May Rochester was at last introduced into the House between his brother, Clarendon, and William Richard George Stanley, 9th earl of Derby.85 He was present on each of the 43 sitting days in the session and was nominated to nine committees including that for the bill permitting his former son-in-law, Ossory, to raise a jointure for a new wife. He acted as speaker by commission on 4 August. In the meantime, he was the recipient of one more clear mark of favour when he was awarded one of the vacant garters, being installed at Windsor on 23 July.86

Alongside attending to his increasing responsibilities, Rochester’s attention was also taken up with family issues. Towards the end of July he had the difficult experience of writing to the new countess of Ossory (Lady Mary Somerset). He directed that the letter should be delivered to her ‘at her coming out the chapel’ and assured her of his ‘concern and tenderness in particular for my Lord of Ossory’, whose second marriage had come only months after the death of the previous countess, Rochester’s daughter.87 To Ossory himself Rochester declared:

I doubt not but you do me the right to believe that no man in the world is more concerned that I am, for all manner of satisfaction to you, and besides that your marriage was absolutely necessary for the good of your family, and … I assure you, there is no family in England that I should have been half so well pleased to see you allied with, as that you have chosen.88

While Rochester was engaged in assuring his former son-in-law of his good wishes, the ‘peevish’ Lady Rochester became embroiled in an angry dispute with Princess Anne, in whose household she was employed as a lady of the bedchamber.89 As the summer progressed, Rochester’s position within the administration also proved to be less secure than it had first appeared. By September 1685 Morrice was reporting that ‘some think the lord treasurer has some potent enemies.’90 Within months of the king’s accession, Rochester’s security had been threatened by the resurgent Sunderland, who was able to sidestep an effort to send him to Ireland by proposing that Clarendon should go instead. The position was sufficiently important to appear a compliment to the Hyde brothers but the effect of Clarendon taking up the position was to dilute their interest at a crucial juncture. At the close of December further tensions were revealed when the elections for the town clerk of Bristol resulted in a drubbing for the ministers’ preferred candidate.91

At the opening of 1686 Rochester waded into the middle of a long-running dispute between James Douglas, 2nd duke of Queensberry [S] (later duke of Dover), and the Hamiltons in an effort to reconcile the two parties. His efforts backfired, with the duke of Hamilton refusing ‘to be wheedled with fair words’ and later attributing to Rochester the management of all ‘underhand projects’ conducted against his family.92 As the year progressed further divisions were revealed between Rochester and the king. In January it was reported that Rochester was growing ‘somewhat popular’ as a result of his forthright behaviour at the trial of Henry Booth, 2nd Baron Delamer (later earl of Warrington), where he was the ‘loudest not guilty’ of those presiding.93 The central cause of dissension between king and minister, though, was Rochester’s adherence to the Church of England in the face of the king’s developing policy of preferring his Catholic co-religionists. In this Rochester’s approach was entirely consistent. In the winter of 1679-80 he had warned James while still duke of York that he could not support the policy of relief for Catholics.94 Even so, efforts by Sunderland to blacken Rochester’s reputation by encouraging rumours that his rival was attempting to set up the king’s Protestant mistress, Catherine Sedley, countess of Dorchester, as an official maîtresse en titre after the manner of the duchess of Cleveland failed to take effect. In March 1686 there was further talk of a dukedom for Rochester (as one of a clutch of new promotions to be conferred).95 At the close of the month, he intervened in a dispute between the treasury and a number of customs officers who had complained that they had not been paid since the last king’s death. In response to their petition, Rochester pointed out that they would not receive any payments until they agreed that their places were held only at the king’s pleasure.96

Divisions in the council were once more to the fore by the early summer of 1686. Jeffreys was now thought to be attempting to forge a new alliance with Rochester in opposition to Sunderland in the hopes of encouraging the adoption of ‘moderating counsels.’ Despite this, Rochester’s position seemed increasingly under threat and at the beginning of June it was rumoured that he was to be put out for being a good Protestant. The same month he was said to have indulged in a furious argument with Richard Talbot, earl of Tyrconnel [I], over the appointment of the vice-treasurer of Ireland. In July Morrice concluded that Rochester’s interest was ‘broken’.97 Others speculated that Rochester was to be put out and replaced by William Herbert, earl (later marquess) of Powis.98 It may have been indicative of his waning interest that Rochester was not the only person approached by those involved in settling Sir William Williams’ fine for scandalum magnatum to mediate with the king. Despite these troubling omens, for the time being Rochester maintained his grip on power. If others had doubted Rochester’s ability to secure a settlement in the case, Williams acknowledged that he owed ‘his liberty, the benefit of my profession, the remains of my fortune and reputation to your lordship.’ On 8 July Rochester was among those appointed to the new ecclesiastical commission.99 His decision to participate in a body viewed by a number of courtiers to be illegal was something that was thereafter raised frequently to question his credentials as a true adherent of the Anglican Church. It also served to prompt some to bring to mind his supposed speech in favour of Catholicism during his diplomatic mission to Poland.

Rochester was present at the inaugural meeting of the commission on 3 August.100 He was able to use his bolstered interest in the church on behalf of William Levett, who was promoted to the deanery of Bristol in the summer of 1686, though he appeared to bear out the concerns of his critics when he was among the most prominent critics of the bishop of London, when Compton was called before the commission and upbraided for failing to suspend John Sharp, later archbishop of York. Even so, he was said to have been opposed initially to suspending Compton before changing his mind after having been drawn to one side by the king and subjected to a private lecture.101

Rochester was indisposed in mid September 1686. The following month was marked by renewed reports of alterations at court. Speculation of ‘mighty endeavours of late to remove not only the lord lieutenant of Ireland but the lord treasurer of England also’ circulated in several quarters, with others reporting that Rochester was to be put out and his office put into a commission comprising Powis, Godolphin and John Belasyse, Baron Belasyse.102 Another report suggested (again) that he was to be made a duke, presumably by way of compensation.103 Rochester struggled to counter this latest assault, though he was successful in raising a substantial loan without needing to resort to Parliament. The sums involved were reckoned to be anything between £200,000 and £400,000: sufficient to keep his brother in Ireland ‘and to hinder the designs of my Lord Tyrconnel’.104 Despite this, by the close of November he was once more under pressure. He was the subject of a court action brought against him by Sir Robert Viner, who was intent on securing damages following the dissolution of Bridget Hyde’s marriage to John Emerton by the court of delegates.105 He was also subjected to a concerted effort on the part of the king to secure his conversion to Catholicism as the price for his continuing in office.106 Between 30 Nov. and 19 Dec. a series of interviews and debates took place involving James, Rochester and the French ambassador along with two Protestant divines of Rochester’s nomination and two Catholics, nominated by the king. The debates failed to sway him and James was said to have been annoyed by the poor performance of the Catholics who had been outmanoeuvred by their rivals. The result was Rochester’s removal from office.107 On 19 Dec. the king informed him that he could no longer place his trust in someone who professed different opinions in religion and on 27 Dec. he was relieved of his post. Three days later Charles Bertie, summing up the affair, questioned, ‘if his lordship cannot support himself with all that mighty stock of interest and relation, what is to be expected from other men who want those advantages?’108 Roger Morrice’s assessment was not dissimilar:

It may be supposed that his nieces [Princesses Mary and Anne], and all his interest has mediated to their utmost power with many tears. It is in vain here to plead merit or obedience, for never man was more obsequious to the will of another than this treasurer has been to the king’s will.109

Although James had determined not to continue Rochester in post, he professed himself eager to demonstrate that it was not on account of any wrongdoing that he was being supplanted. On 6 Jan. 1687 Colonel Werden informed Clarendon that Rochester had had ‘the good fortune to leave [his place], with as much honour and reputation, and with as signal marks of his having served the king well, as ever any man left any place.’110 Werden’s assessment was not mere rhetoric. Rochester received a pension to compensate for his loss, and the treasury was once more placed in commission in acknowledgement that it was an office too burdensome for one man to exercise on his own.111 In return Rochester remained loyal to the regime and in January 1687 he was assessed as being likely to support the king’s policy for repealing the Test Act. Although he seems to have continued to attend the ‘secret council’ for a time, he was unwilling to continue as a member of the ecclesiastical commission and at the close of the month he was absent from one of their meetings amid reports that he had been replaced on the board by Theophilus Hastings, 7th earl of Huntingdon.112

Rochester was named as one of the commissioners for proroguing Parliament on 15 Feb., but he failed to attend the sitting and by the following day he had retreated to Twickenham to be with his wife, who was said to be in a ‘weak condition’.113 She died just over two months later.114 Still assessed as a supporter of the king’s policies in May, two months later Rochester was said to be on the point of travelling to Spa in company with Francis Gwyn.115 His decision, during the visit, not to wait on his niece and her husband, Prince William, made a very poor impression on the couple.116 In spite of efforts made by Clarendon to reconcile Rochester with Princess Mary, she proved slow to forgive and Rochester’s miscalculation no doubt contributed to an initially poor reception in the immediate aftermath of the Revolution.117

Rochester had returned to England by November when he was again noted as a supporter of repealing the Test. His attitude attracted criticism and at the close of the month he was castigated by some for having been over zealous in persuading the people in his lieutenancy to vote in favour of the king’s measures. Morrice, on the other hand, reported to the contrary that Rochester’s advice to his deputies had been deliberately couched in such a way as to encourage them to refuse to comply.118 The middle of the following month, he was informed by the local justices and deputies in Hertfordshire that they were unable to comply and that the county would refuse to elect members who would support repeal.

The beginning of 1688 found Rochester still noted among the supporters of repeal. He spent the early weeks of the year in a bustle of activity shuttling between meetings at his brother’s house, which were also attended by Bishop Turner, the ostensible reason for these being Clarendon’s ongoing legal struggle with the Queen Dowager. In March he joined Clarendon at Cornbury and the following month he was one of a large party at Clarendon’s smaller seat of Swallowfield.119 By May he had returned to his own estate at New Park, but in June it was rumoured (probably inaccurately) that he was to travel to France.120 In July he was again on the road travelling to Windsor to present his former son-in-law, now 2nd duke of Ormond, to the king following Ormond’s election as chancellor of Oxford University: a choice the king had opposed.121

Rochester seems to have played no role in the trial of the seven bishops, opting instead to retreat to Bath during the proceedings.122 By September 1688, with reports of the imminent invasion of England by William of Orange current, Rochester was one of a number of high-ranking Protestant peers to be summoned by the king to discuss the state of affairs. James was said to have taken notice ‘of the nobles that are in town keeping from the court’, prompting Rochester, Clarendon and Halifax to make their appearances ‘much to his majesty’s satisfaction’.123 At the close of the month he was said to have assured the king of his loyalty, but he was at pains to put the queen right in her mistaken assumption that the king’s meeting with the bishops had gone well.124 Through late October Clarendon and Rochester were again frequently in each other’s company, and on 3 Nov. they were present at a dinner at Lambeth Palace also attended by Thomas Cartwright, bishop of Chester, and Thomas Watson, bishop of St Davids, though most of the company refused to discuss any matters of importance while those two bishops were within earshot.125 Rochester seems to have held a further meeting with Archbishop Sancroft on 3 November.126 Five days later, with the situation worsening, Clarendon and Rochester met again to discuss plans for drawing up an address requesting that Parliament be summoned. The following day it was rumoured that he might be appointed lord president as a result of the fall of Sunderland.127 Rochester was with Clarendon again on 12 November. The same day Halifax and Daniel Finch, 2nd earl of Nottingham, made exception to Rochester’s signing the petition to the king in view of his role on the ecclesiastical commission. On 15 Nov. Rochester attended a meeting convened at the home of Thomas Sprat, bishop of Rochester, and the following day he was one of those to subscribe the petition to the king to summon a free Parliament, ‘to obviate the miseries of a war now breaking forth in the bowels of this kingdom,’ which was delivered to James on 17 November.128 With the country in a state of emergency, the king refused to contemplate summoning Parliament. He left the capital the same day to link up with the army at Salisbury. Rochester left London to join him two days later.

Rochester’s role in the drafting and signing of the petition to the king was said to have provoked the annoyance of the queen. His apparent abandonment of the king by supporting the petition may also have helped give rise to a later rumour that he was by now (improbably) embroiled in a pro-Orangeist conspiracy to overthrow James. At a meeting held the night before James left for Salisbury, Rochester, Bishop Compton, Churchill and others were said to have agreed to the seizure and, if necessary, assassination of the king. Rochester’s role was to accompany the king to Salisbury so that he could pass on details of the king’s counsels to the prince. The role of assassin was reserved for Churchill.129 There seems no reason to believe that such a conspiracy existed.

Rochester returned to London on 26 Nov. and the following day he was present at the ‘hastily summoned great council’. Convinced of the need to sue for peace he advised sending for the prince and summoning Parliament.130 James was in no position to resist and two days later Rochester was said to have been one of half a dozen peers and bishops named by the king to go as commissioners to the prince to seek a resolution to the crisis.131 A few days later it was reported that he had been replaced by Nottingham owing to his ongoing feud with Halifax, who refused to serve with him.132

The ensuing negotiations between the commissioners and the prince were brought to a close by the king’s flight from London in the early hours of 11 December. James’s decision to flee set in motion a plan that had been devised by Rochester and Bishop Turner to call a provisional government into being to fill the void. Later the same day, Rochester, Turner and 25 other peers and bishops assembled at the Guildhall to take command of the situation. Rochester’s pre-eminence at this point was indicated both by the appointment of his former treasury secretary, Francis Gwyn, as secretary to the assembly and also by the fact that once William Sancroft had declined to do so it was Rochester who presided at the opening session. Over the next few days Rochester maintained a hectic pace of work within the provisional government. On their first day he informed the assembly of information that Catholics had been seen in arms at Hounslow, prompting an order for them to be disarmed. More importantly, he was also one of four members nominated to draw up a declaration to the prince, though he declined being named one of those to present the declaration and requested that some older earls should do so instead. Rochester continued to attend the majority of the ensuing sessions but he was soon supplanted as chairman by his rival, Halifax. Rochester and Halifax’s fractious relations soon came to the fore. News of the king being taken in Kent prompted disagreement over how best to deal with the men who claimed to have captured James; though they concurred that Prince William should be informed of the latest events. They also each backed calls for only a small number to be sent to escort the king back so that it would not appear as if he was being brought back under restraint.133

Rochester attended the morning session of 14 Dec. but then absented himself in the afternoon to inform his brother of the king’s capture. He resumed his place the following day, when he was the signatory of a number of orders, and on 16 Dec. he accompanied his brother to Windsor, where Prince William had since established himself. Snubbed by the prince, who pointedly invited only Clarendon to dine with him, Rochester retreated to New Park.134 Rochester was apparently undeterred by his frosty reception and waited on the prince again in London on 18 December.135 Three days later he took his place in the meeting of Lords convened in the queen’s presence chamber when he signed the Association.136 He was present once more the following day (22 Dec.) when he moved that Catholics ought to be secured to protect the Irish Protestants. He also signed the order confirming Gwyn as the assembly’s secretary.137 That afternoon Rochester joined Clarendon and Bishop Turner in dining at Lambeth, where they attempted to persuade Archbishop Sancroft to agree to attend the House.138

Events were once more thrown into confusion by news of the king’s second flight early in the morning of 23 December. The following day Rochester was one of three lords to demand an enquiry into the circumstances of the king’s escape, and he was also to the fore in proposing that the council should have questions put to it in writing and that its answers should be recorded. On 25 Dec. Rochester signed the two addresses, calling for the convening of a convention and asking the prince to take on the government of the kingdom until such time as the convention could meet.139 Writing to George Legge, Baron Dartmouth, of the latest turn of events, Rochester advised his former colleague starkly, ‘your lordship will judge that you have nothing to do, but to continue to obey the prince’s orders. … I have nothing more to say to your lordship at this time but again to advise you, to follow strictly all the prince’s orders.’140

In spite of his resolution to co-operate closely with William and Mary, Rochester faced considerable obstacles in overcoming their early suspicion. As the year drew to a close there was little indication that he would be likely to benefit from the new regime and his relationship with the prince and princess seems not to have offered him any special access. As Sir Philip Musgrave informed Dartmouth, Rochester now professed himself to be, ‘a great stranger to all affairs, and it is visible that he is not countenanced more than any other nobleman.’141

William and Mary, 1689-94

Rochester’s campaign to reassert himself began early in the new year. He was at last able to secure a private meeting with the prince, though there were few signs of improved relations. Prince William upbraided him for failing to visit him when he had been in the Low Countries in 1687 and appeared unimpressed by Rochester’s explanation that he had been strictly forbidden from doing so. Rochester’s subsequent activities in the early stages of the Convention can have done nothing to reassure William about his intentions.

Rochester took his place at the opening of the Convention on 22 Jan. 1689, after which he was present on 90 per cent of all sitting days. On the opening day of the session he was one of 14 lords nominated to draw up an address to the prince. A week later, on 29 Jan., having spoken ‘with great passion and violence’, Rochester acting in concert with Clarendon and Nottingham, moved and then voted for the establishment of a regency.142 The motion was defeated by 51 votes to 48. Having failed to carry his first point, Rochester fell back on the next best option. Two days later, in a division held in a committee of the whole, he voted against declaring the prince and princess king and queen, preferring instead the claims of Princess Mary to be sole monarch.143 On 4 Feb. he voted to reject the Commons’ employment of the word ‘abdicated’ and when the Commons voted to adhere to their original phrasing on 5 Feb. it was Rochester’s lieutenant, Gwyn, who acted as one of the tellers for the minority.144 The following day, during a conference between the two Houses, Rochester, Clarendon and Nottingham, eager to establish whether the hereditary principle was at stake, all asked whether the vacancy alluded to by the Commons embraced James’s heirs as well but were unable to secure an answer. The same day (6 Feb.), Rochester voted once more against agreeing with the Commons in their use of the word ‘abdicated’ and the phrase ‘that the throne is thereby vacant’. He then entered his dissent when the resolution was carried. Events continued to go against Rochester. He was unable to persuade his brother to return to town and on 16 Feb. noted that he had been snubbed by Queen Mary. He conceded that William had been civil enough. By 19 Feb. there was no sign of the queen’s attitude improving and it was also said that she refused to receive Rochester’s children.145

In spite of these early setbacks, of the two brothers it was Rochester who was to prove the more amenable to the new state of affairs. Clarendon proved unwilling to accept James’s replacement and retired from court and Parliament while Rochester opted for grudging acceptance. It is possible that there was some deliberate coordination between the brothers in this but for the while Rochester continued to attempt to persuade Clarendon to do as he had done and take the oaths. On 3 Mar. he was able to report that he had finally succeeded in being received by the queen at Hampton Court.

Rochester’s gradual rehabilitation coincided with a growing crisis in Clarendon’s affairs. Although Rochester succeeded at last in convincing his brother to return to town on 6 Mar., he was unable to persuade him to take the oaths and at last agreed to approach Nottingham about procuring Clarendon a passport to leave the country. Despite their differing attitudes to the new regime, Clarendon and Rochester continued to see each other frequently, but there are indications that Rochester grew less inclined to discuss affairs with his brother and on 22 Apr. their plans to dine together were scrapped as the House continued to sit until after 4pm.146

In the absence of ministerial responsibilities, Rochester steadily acquired a commanding role in Parliament as one of the most prolific chairmen of committees. On 8 Apr. he reported from the bill to permit Isaac Searcy to change his name to Searle, which was considered fit to pass without alteration, and the same day he reported from the conference for considering the bill for removing papists from London. On 17 Apr. he was named one of the subcommittee of six charged with making the remainder of the Dissenters’ toleration bill agree with the amendments. He then reported from a further conference concerning the bill for removing papists, noting that the Commons had refused to agree to the proviso recommended by the Lords, ‘because it was not parliamentary’. The following day he reported from the Lords’ committee appointed to re-examine the proviso as amended by the Commons, which was at last agreed to by the Lords as well. Rochester was one of a number of peers to register their protests against the passage of the recognition bill on 1 May. A week later, on 8 May, he reported from the committee considering the bill for rectifying mistakes in the bill for removing papists.147

While Rochester steadily developed a new career for himself in the House, his relations with his brother appear to have deteriorated. On 15 May he entertained his brother at dinner but was annoyed to be upbraided by Clarendon for having been present at the instalment of William Cavendish, 4th earl (later duke) of Devonshire, and Frederick Herman Schomberg, duke of Schomberg, as knights of the Garter the previous day. The Lords’ adjournment from 17 to 22 May allowed Rochester to retreat to New Park for a few days, but he resumed his seat on 22 May when he reported from the committee for the bill for the development of Arundel Ground and was again nominated manager of a conference. Three days later he acted as one of the tellers for the motion concerning Titus Oates, which was carried by 29 votes to 18. Clarendon and his family dined with Rochester again on 29 May at which Rochester advised his brother to leave town, but the brothers were together the following day at a dinner also attended by the archbishop of Dublin and bishop of Leighlin.148 On 31 May Rochester voted against reversing the perjury judgments against Oates. The same day he reported from the committee for a naturalization bill and from two conferences concerning proposed amendments to the additional poll bill.

Throughout the early summer of 1689 Rochester continued to bear a heavy burden of committee work. On 7 June he was also entrusted with Ormond’s proxy as well as that of Robert Sutton, 2nd Baron Lexinton. On 15 June he was noted as having been present in the House, but later the same day he retired once again to New Park. The following day (a Sunday) he entertained his brother there and discussed the current proceedings in the House, reassuring him that the brouhaha over the absent lords seemed to have abated for the while.149 Back in his place on 17 June, four days later Rochester offered the Lords an account of the matters in difference between Lords and Commons over the great seal bill and the same day reported from a conference with the Commons concerning the bill. On 26 June he acted as one of the tellers for the division whether to give the bill to illegitimate Popham’s children a second reading (which was rejected by 24 votes to 19) and the same day was one of five peers appointed to examine the Journals to consider precedents for impeachments from the Commons. He reported from this subcommittee the following day after which the House proceeded with reading the impeachments of Blair, Vaughan and others. On 2 July Rochester registered his dissent at the resolution to proceed with the impeachment. The same day he reported from the committee for the Newcastle court of conscience bill, which was recommended to be fit to pass. He also registered his dissent at the resolution to proceed with the impeachment of Blair and Vaughan.

Rochester’s workload continued unabated through July. On 5 July he reported from the committee for the bill for investing in Oxford and Cambridge the right to present clergy to livings held by papists and on 10 July from the committee for the tanned leather bill. On 15 July he reported from the committee for the succession bill and the following day, having reported from a further select committee, he reported from the conference with the Commons concerning the bill. On 19 July he reported from the committee for privileges and on 24 July from the select committee concerning the bill for imposing duties on coffee and tea. Two days later he reported from the committee concerning the Lords’ reason for insisting on their amendments to the Titus Oates bill and then reported from the ensuing conference with the Commons. On 27 July he reported from the committee established to draw up the Lords’ response to the Commons’ rejection of the Lords’ amendments to the coffee and tea bill and two days later reported from a further conference on the succession bill. On 30 July he was one of several managers to report from a conference held with the Commons concerning Oates. The same day he voted in favour of adhering to the Lords’ amendments concerning the reversal of perjury and the following day he reported from two further select committees. He then reported from one final conference concerning the attainder bill before the House was adjourned.

In the midst of this full programme, Rochester was himself the subject of interest in the Commons over whether or not he ought to be excepted from the bill of indemnity. In the event the Commons resolved without a division to include him within the bill’s provisions.150 Having headed off this latest threat he was able to maintain an interest in his brother’s affairs, and towards the close of July 1689 he warned Clarendon that the affair of the absent lords was once again being talked about. In September Rochester and his children travelled to Clarendon’s seat at Cornbury to spend the summer. Clarendon and Rochester spent at least some of the time liaising with other local landholders in preparation for the new elections, and on 6 Sept. James Bertie, earl of Abingdon, and his heir, Montagu Venables Bertie, styled Lord Norreys (later 2nd earl of Abingdon) arrived to confer with Rochester. On 21 Sept. a party travelled to Astrop in the north of the county close to Banbury to visit a neighbouring landowner, St John, and two days later Rochester dined at Abingdon’s seat at Rycote.151

Following a month of combined political negotiation and relaxation, Rochester returned to London in the first week of October in preparation for the new session. He took his seat on 21 Oct. after which he was present on 95 per cent of all sitting days. Following a call of the House of 28 Oct., he warned his brother to keep away from London as the House seemed likely to summon peers who had failed to attend. On 15 Nov. Rochester reported from the committee for the bill for preventing minors’ clandestine marriages. The same day he wrote to his brother now urging him to return to London where Lady Clarendon lay seriously sick. He had left the capital for New Park by the time Clarendon arrived there the following day.152

By the late autumn of 1689 the court was once again riven by familiar ministerial squabbling. Charles Mordaunt, earl of Monmouth (later 3rd earl of Peterborough) attempted to persuade Rochester to ally with him against Halifax but Clarendon urged his brother not to allow himself to be motivated by revenge. By the opening of December the king’s attitude had hardened. Rochester reported to his brother Nottingham’s conviction that the king intended to turn against the Church of England interest. Clarendon thought the rumours merely ‘fine stories, given out to amuse and wheedle people.’153 A list compiled by Carmarthen between October 1689 and February 1690 reckoned Rochester to be an opponent of the court.

Neither the infighting at court nor William’s apparent resolution to turn to the Whigs curbed Rochester’s indefatigable committee work. Over the course of the next two months he reported from nine committees, including that considering the draft bill for relief of those Catholics willing to take the oath of fidelity. The session also brought to light unwelcome reminders of Rochester’s association with the controversial policies of Charles II’s administration in its final years. On 20 Dec. he was present at the cabinet council when John Tillotson, later archbishop of Canterbury, was examined about the death of Lord Russell. The same day he was again entrusted with Lexinton’s proxy, having already received that of Fulke Greville, 5th Baron Brooke, two days previously.

Although Rochester seems to have had no qualms about working closely with the new regime, his immediate circle retained a large proportion of men unwilling to accede to the revolution settlement. Rochester celebrated the beginning of the new year by dining with his brother, and on 18 Jan. 1690 he was again present at a dinner with his brother also attended by Bishop Turner and Thomas Ken, bishop of Bath and Wells. On 25 Jan., two days before the close of the session, he was the only Tory peer not to oppose putting the question that the king should be requested not to go to Ireland. On 28 Jan., the day following the prorogation, Clarendon called on Rochester at his London home, having pointedly avoided doing so while Parliament was in session. The brothers then returned to Clarendon’s home, where they were joined at dinner by James II’s former mistress, the countess of Dorchester.154 News of Halifax’s removal as lord privy seal in February led to speculation that the place might go to Rochester instead, though Roger Morrice considered it more likely that the office would be placed in commission.155

Following the dissolution, Rochester was successful in employing his interest on behalf of his old Commons’ ally, Francis Gwyn, at Christ Church.156 He took his seat two days into the new Parliament on 22 Mar. 1690. He attended 94 per cent of all sitting days and on 8 Apr. subscribed the protest against the act declaring that the acts of the convention ‘were and are laws’. By the middle of the month his disillusionment with the current state of affairs was reflected in a letter to his brother in which he informed Clarendon of the latest proceedings in the House relating to the recognition bill. He excused himself from a full recital, considering it impossible:

to give you a particular account by letter of all the turns, not to say tricks used in the getting it through our House and how many times some of our greatest lords absolutely changed their minds in their votes while it was committed … in short I have not seen a more complete contrivance and the rest you shall know when we meet.

To add to the confusion of the times, Rochester continued to relate how ‘the white marquess [Carmarthen], and I are quite out, so I think he is with Lord Nottingham, and that he is, I mean the white, quite struck up with the dissenters, and all the fine promises concerning the church and the good bishops quite vanished.’157 Disputes over the nature of the post-revolution settlement continued to dominate the session and it was reported that Rochester was openly in agreement with Nottingham’s opinion that William was king de facto and not de jure.158

Rochester’s concerns over such matters did not prevent him from continuing to dominate in committee work and other aspects of the House’s business. On 23 Apr. 1690 he reported from the committee for Sir Robert Fenwick’s bill and on 2 May acted as one of the tellers for the division over whether to adjourn during debates on procedure in engrossed bills. The motion to adjourn was defeated by 41 votes to 52. Rochester reported from another committee on 3 May and on 8 May he was again entrusted with Lexinton’s proxy. On 13 May he reported from the committee considering the amendment to a proviso drawn up by the Commons to the bill for enabling the queen to act as regent in the king’s absence. Two days later he reported from the committee for the Hudson Bay Company bill, and on 17 and19 May he reported first from the committee of the whole and then from the select committee appointed to consider the white paper manufactory bill.

Despite the brothers’ troubled relationship with the king and queen, Rochester remained close enough to the monarch for William to advise him to warn Clarendon to be careful, as the king professed to know full well that Clarendon was plotting against him.159 Rochester was not, though, able to convince Princess Anne to grant his nephew, Edward Hyde, styled Lord Cornbury (later 3rd earl of Clarendon) permission not to accompany her husband, Prince George, of Denmark, duke of Cumberland, to the campaign in Ireland. In the event, Cornbury was removed from his place in the prince’s household and replaced by Lexinton.

During the parliamentary recess, Rochester was frequently in his brother’s company and in mid June 1690 the brothers visited Bishop Turner at Putney, where they also found Bishop Ken, and Thomas White, of Peterborough. Their summer was rudely interrupted by news received late at night on 24 June that a warrant was out for Clarendon’s arrest. Rochester advised his brother not to abscond and the same night officers arrived to take Clarendon into custody. The following day Clarendon was committed to the Tower.160 Rochester spent the ensuing days bustling about on his brother’s behalf. He took members of Clarendon’s family to visit the imprisoned peer and waited on Nottingham to petition for an early release. Rochester’s involvement may have given rise to reports towards the end of the month that he too had been imprisoned, ‘rather on suspicion than accusation’.161 Although these proved inaccurate, the administration was clearly wary of permitting the brothers too much contact and, on 28 June Clarendon recorded that his brother had been refused permission to visit him. Rochester resolved instead to retreat to New Park for a few days, though he left one of his agents behind to continue to petition Nottingham for Clarendon’s enlargement. Rochester was finally granted permission to visit his brother again in mid July prior to travelling to Tunbridge, and a few days later he was informed that there was some possibility of the imprisoned lords being set free as soon as the French fleet had been dispersed.162 Having spent over a week on further efforts to secure his brother’s release, Rochester finally set out for Tunbridge on 22 July, where he remained for much of the remainder of the summer. His stay there was interrupted by a brief visit to London in August when he accompanied his brother to the office of the lord chief justice so that Clarendon could give in his recognizance prior to his release.163

In spite of having such a close association with a suspected Jacobite, Rochester’s position at court seemed strengthened rather than lessened by the close of the summer. In September he was listed as one of the peers of the Privy Council.164 On 2 Oct. 1690 he returned to the House for the new session, after which he was present on 90 per cent of all sitting days. Four days later, he was entrusted with the proxy of Charles Seymour, 6th duke of Somerset. The same day he reported from the committee nominated to draw up an address to the king thanking him for his expedition to Ireland. On 6 Oct. he voted against the discharge of James Cecil, 4th earl of Salisbury, and Henry Mordaunt, 2nd earl of Peterborough, from their imprisonment in the Tower. On 30 Oct. he subscribed the protest at the resolution to pass the bill clarifying the powers of the Admiralty commissioners. Over the next two months rumours circulated that Rochester was coming back into favour. It was even said that he might return to the treasury and was in contention for the lieutenancy of Ireland.165 Such reports proved illusory and he continued instead to concentrate on parliamentary management. On 10 and 11 Nov. he reported from the committee nominated to consider the bill for preventing cutting off the entail of the estate of the earl of Salisbury, and on 17 Nov. he reported from two further committees. Towards the close of November he attempted to intervene in a legal dispute between the duchess of Beaufort and Thomas Bruce, 2nd earl of Ailesbury, advising Ailesbury not to bring in his bill at that time. On finding Ailesbury obdurate, Rochester reported to the duchess that, ‘I know of nothing more that can be done for your grace’s satisfaction, but to obtain a competent time for your grace to be heard’, assuring her that when she did so he would be ready to offer her his support. The following month Clarendon also undertook to solicit his friends on the duchess’ behalf and reiterated on more than one occasion that Rochester would be willing ‘to serve your grace to his utmost.’ At the close of the month, the duchess’ agent confirmed that Rochester had been one of those active on her behalf.166

Rochester was added to the committee for the orphans bill on 1 Dec. and between 17 and 18 Dec. he reported from two further committees as well as reporting from the conference for the earl of Salisbury’s bill. At the close of December he was elected one of the commissioners for inspecting the public accounts. In common with all the other peers elected he sought, and was permitted, to be excused.167 On 5 Jan. 1691 he reported from one last committee in the session: that for drawing up the reasons for the Lords insisting on their proviso to the bill for the suspension of the navigation and corn acts.

Rochester’s concentration on business was interrupted once more at the beginning of 1691 when his brother was again arrested and incarcerated in the Tower, though it was not until 15 Jan. that he was able to ‘surprise’ Clarendon with a visit. The ensuing few weeks were punctuated by further visits to his captive brother.168 Once again this seems not to have had a detrimental affect on his standing with the king. Towards the end of April rumours were once more afoot of a string of promotions and alterations in the ministry, no doubt encouraged by news of the king dining with Rochester at New Park as well as by the gradual rehabilitation of Sunderland at court.169 By mid May Rochester was noted to be a frequent attendant at court and by the beginning of June he was thought to have made common cause with Carmarthen.170 Meanwhile he continued to petition for his brother’s release. In mid June Nottingham approached the king at Rochester’s request asking for Clarendon to be bailed on the grounds of ill health. Rochester also hoped that his brother would not be subjected to a trial, arguing that the only evidence against him came from pardoned men whose testimony was thus of little credibility.171 On 14 Nov. Clarendon was bailed for £1,000 with Rochester, Francis Holles, 2nd Baron Holles, Sir William Turner and Sir John Parsons each entering into sureties of £500 apiece.172 It seems not to have been until the summer of the following year, though, that Clarendon was at last permitted to retire to Cornbury under house arrest in return for a bond of £10,000 and sureties of £5,000 apiece provided by Rochester and his political opposite, John Lovelace, 3rd Baron Lovelace.173

The early autumn of 1691 found Rochester much courted amid continuing speculation of his imminent return to office, though opinion was divided over whether he would be lord lieutenant of Ireland, lord president or lord privy seal. The only condition thought likely to be imposed upon him was that he would be required to ‘come zealously into the service of the court’. According to Richard Hill, such reports were grounded on a belief that by then William was able to turn to ‘few men of capacity whom he and Lord Portland [Hans Willem Bentinck, earl of Portland], will trust.’ Towards the end of the year Hill had revised his opinion in response to reports that Carmarthen’s position appeared increasingly vulnerable, pointing out that Carmarthen’s enemies would not press the point for fear of bringing in Rochester in his place.174

It was in this uncertain state of affairs that Rochester took his seat in the new session on 27 Oct. 1691. Present on 85 per cent of all sitting days, he proved once more to be active as a chairman of committees and manager of conferences. On 6 Nov. he was again entrusted with Somerset’s proxy. On 11 Nov. he carried the sword before the king, sparking further comments that he was ‘in much favour.’175 On 14 Nov. (the same day his brother was bailed) Rochester reported from the committee of the whole considering the oaths in Ireland bill but desired that another day might be named for further consideration of the matter. He reported from the same committee two days later and on 17 Nov. he reported from the select committee appointed to consider additional clauses for the bill. On 21 Nov. he reported from the committee for George Montagu’s bill, which was agreed as fit to pass without amendment, and on 25 Nov. he acted as teller in two divisions. The first, over whether to appoint a day for the House to sit, was rejected by 34 votes to 35; the other, for which Halifax acted as the other teller, over whether to adjourn the debate in Brown v. Wayte was also rejected following a tied vote at 36 votes each.

As well as concentration on the House’s business, Rochester was also intent on defending his privilege. On 23 Nov. the House ordered that John Wilkins of Wootton Bassett should be taken into custody for arresting Rochester’s bailiff, Charles Cruse, in defiance of Rochester’s privilege. On 1 Dec. the House heard that Cruse had been arrested at the suit of Hugh Jones the elder and Hugh Jones the younger. Wilkins and both Joneses were ordered to be brought to the bar along with another man, Charles Skull, to account for their actions. Ten days later the House accepted Wilkins’ submission.

Rochester’s brief alliance with Carmarthen seems to have faltered by the close of 1691. In early November Rochester was said to have allied himself with Godolphin in support of the suspected Jacobite plotter, Monmouth, and in opposition to Carmarthen. On 16 Dec. he was listed by Derby, among those Derby believed to have been in favour of his efforts to reclaim some of his family estates in 1685.176 Alongside such court manoeuvrings, Rochester continued to dominate as a committee chairman. Between 4 Dec. and the close of the month he reported from seven committees. He also reported from the conference concerning the oaths in Ireland bill on 5 Dec. and from the conference considering intercepted papers on 15 December. He maintained this activity into the new year and on 2 Jan. 1692 reported from the committee considering the heads for a conference about the printed vote of the House of Commons relating to the regulation of the East India Company. Two days later he was added to the committee for privileges and over the course of the remainder of the month he reported from a further seven committees.

Private concerns once again came to the fore towards the close of January 1692. On 22 Jan. the House read a petition submitted by Rochester seeking leave to resort to the law courts over a dispute with Grey, 3rd Baron Grey of Warke (later earl of Tankerville), concerning lands that had been stripped from Grey and awarded to Rochester in the wake of the Monmouth Rebellion. On 2 Feb. the matter was referred to the committee for privileges.

Along with defending his own possessions, Rochester continued his activities in the House as he became increasingly embroiled in the disputes over the accounts bill. On 27 Jan. he was entrusted with Burlington’s proxy. During February he reported from three committees and on 5 Feb. he informed the House that the managers had delivered the public accounts bill to the Commons. Three days later he reported from the subsequent conference with the Commons concerning the public accounts and he reported from a further conference on 10 February. The measure was one to which Rochester was said to be firmly opposed. It had been reported in January that he was at the head of those lords wishing to insist on the appointment of additional commissioners as a means of wrecking the bill and by the beginning of February he was thought to be ‘the great opposer of the bill of accounts.’177 On 23 Feb. he subscribed two protests relating to the resolution to pass the supply bill and to the Commons’ addition to the bill of a clause establishing the commission of accounts. With tempers already frayed, on 17 Feb. Rochester was also involved in an angry exchange with Edward Clinton, 5th earl of Lincoln, during the debate over the divorce bill for Henry Howard, 7th duke of Norfolk. Rochester had already registered his dissent at the resolution to receive the bill; now, in answer to Rochester’s assertion that Lincoln had taken ‘great liberty with the House’, Lincoln was reported to have rejoined, ‘I do not take so much liberty with the House, as you do with the nation’. Lincoln was ordered to withdraw and later summoned to the bar to ask the House and Rochester’s pardon.178

In spite of his heated opposition to various measures before the House, the beginning of February 1692 was once more marked by feverish reports of Rochester’s likely return to government. According to one account, Sir Edward Seymour was to be secretary or lord privy seal, Henry Sydney, Viscount Sydney (later earl of Romney) was to go to Ireland while Rochester would be ‘prime minister’.179 Following such reports, Rochester’s restoration to the Privy Council but to no particular office in March 1692 came as something of an anticlimax, though Queen Mary professed herself glad of her uncle’s return.180 At least one report of early February had predicted just such an outcome.181 The appointment of Rochester and Seymour signalled a strengthening of the Tory group at court as the king increasingly lost patience with his Whig ministers.

If Rochester’s relations with the king and queen were vastly improved, the same can not be said for Princess Anne. She complained to the countess of Marlborough of an interview she had held with Rochester in February 1692, during which he ‘talked a great deal of senseless stuff’ concerning the effort of the king and queen to force her to dismiss Lady Marlborough. She refused to comply.182 Towards the end of April Rochester was again involved in the continuing efforts to force the princess to remodel her household. The countess was in no doubts that Rochester was the driving force behind the moves to put her out. Despite this, he was said to have been responsible for persuading the queen to visit her estranged sister at Sion House following an unsuccessful pregnancy that spring.183

June 1692 found Rochester involved in council meetings held aboard a battleship preparing for a descent on France and, later in the month, needing to respond to news of the latest Jacobite plot.184 Bishop Sprat of Rochester later claimed that Rochester was ‘absolutely of my opinion’ about the importance of producing certain papers relating to the conspiracy that would help to exonerate both him and Archbishop Sancroft.185 Rochester was again with the fleet at the beginning of August, and in the middle of that month he advised the king of the necessity of reducing the numbers of English forces deployed in Flanders, an argument that he repeated later in council.186

Rochester took his seat on 4 Nov. 1692 after which he was present on 89 per cent of all sitting days. The same month his heir, Lord Hyde, was returned for Launceston at a by-election.187 On 6 Dec. Rochester was again entrusted with Ormond’s proxy. He received Burlington’s proxy on 19 Jan. 1693. The session was dominated by a series of contentious actions relating both to the management of the administration and to the aftermath of the summer’s campaigning season. Rochester voted against committing the place bill on 31 Dec. 1692. Four days later he voted against passing the bill. Forecast as a likely opponent of the duke of Norfolk’s divorce bill in early January 1693, he voted accordingly against reading the bill on 2 January. The next day he reported from the conference with the Commons concerning the lower House’s vote approving the conduct of Admiral Edward Russell, later earl of Orford, in the recent naval campaign. The same day he acted as one of the tellers in the division held in the committee of the whole over the Lords’ amendment to the land tax bill. The question, whether to refer the matter to the privileges committee, was rejected by 36 votes to 50. The following day (20 Jan.), Rochester reported the amendments to the House and on 21 Jan. he reported from two further select committees considering private bills. On 25 Jan. he opposed the committal of the bill to prevent dangers from disaffected persons. On 24 Jan. the House heard a complaint relating to the privilege case involving Rochester and Hugh Jones elder and younger, being informed that William Hill, a messenger employed by Black Rod, had been arrested by the Joneses on a charge of false imprisonment. Rochester reported from the committee for privileges on 27 January. The same day he reported from the committee considering the bill for hiving off two chapels from the parish of Petworth, and on 28 Jan. he reported the bill to enable Humphrey Humphreys, bishop of Bangor, to lease Bangor House in Holborn. On 31 Jan. he acted as one of the tellers on the question whether to proceed with the trial of the 15-year-old Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun for murder, which was rejected by 50 votes to 30. Both Rochester and Nottingham were reported as believing that Mohun was guilty. Following the trial on 4 Feb. Rochester confirmed this by voting (along with 13 others) to convict the young peer.188

Rochester reported from a further three committees during the remainder of the session. On 16 Feb. 1693 he was the somewhat unlikely recipient of Lovelace’s proxy, and on 24 Feb. he again acted as one of the tellers on the question whether to repeat the order in Dashwood v. Champante, which resulted in a tied vote. On 4 Mar. he was one of three peers appointed by the House to attend the king to discover when the Lords might wait upon him with their address. Three days later the same three peers (Rochester, Bridgwater and Nottingham) were appointed to attend the king again to inform him about the mutiny bill.

In the middle of May Rochester was one of a number of privy councillors ordered down to Portsmouth to enquire into the management of the fleet. Later that month his enquiries took on a very personal dimension when he appears to have suffered a further bereavement by the death of a younger son, who was said to have been serving as a volunteer on board a ship commanded by Sir Francis Wheeler bound for Barbados.189

Rochester remained in town for much of the early summer of 1693 and in June he was present at the hearing for the case Bridgman v. Holt.190 His lingering in town seems not to have been entirely of his own choosing: in early July it was reported that Rochester had been prevented from leaving the capital by the queen who required his counsel in the king’s absence.191 Meanwhile, he continued to cultivate his interest and on 15 Aug. he assured Lexinton, who was absent on a diplomatic mission, of his ‘constant interest in your welfare’. Later that month reports of his growing influence at court were reflected in rumours that he, in conjunction with Sunderland, had succeeded in securing the office of lord high admiral for Thomas Herbert, 8th earl of Pembroke, and of lord privy seal for Shrewsbury. It was believed that Sunderland would replace Nottingham as secretary of state.192 Such reports were no doubt strengthened by the news of a conference held at Sunderland’s seat, Althorp, at the close of the month attended by Rochester, Shrewsbury, Marlborough, Godolphin, Admiral Russell, Thomas Wharton, (later marquess of Wharton) and Ralph Montagu, earl (later duke) of Montagu.193 The following month Rochester seems also to have attended a rival congress held at Petworth, the seat of Charles Seymour, 6th duke of Somerset. Rochester’s commanding interest was also reflected in rumours that circulated at the beginning of October of a marriage between one of his daughters and Francis Scott, Lord Dalkeith [S] (later duke of Buccleuch [S]), son of the executed duke of Monmouth. The marriage was eventually celebrated the following January.194

Rochester took his seat at the opening of the new session on 7 Nov. 1693, on which day he was again entrusted with Somerset’s proxy. He was present on almost 80 per cent of all sitting days, during which he reported from three committees and as many conferences. Soon after the session’s commencement, the House ordered the attachment (again) of Hugh Jones, elder and younger, for breaching Rochester’s privilege. The debates surrounding the passage of the triennial bill found Rochester in rare alliance with Halifax, speaking in favour of the measure in opposition to Carmarthen and Nottingham.195 It seems likely that this would have been raised during the meeting at Althorp over the summer but the bill was ultimately vetoed by the king. On 22 Dec. Rochester subscribed the protest against the resolution to permit the duchess of Grafton and William Bridgeman to withdraw their petition in the cause Bridgeman v. Holt.

Rochester remained active into the new year. On 5 Jan. 1694, he protested again at the resolution not to insist on the Lords’ amendment to the place bill. On 11 Jan. Rochester and Godolphin were ordered to attend the king to request his permission for members of the council to provide the Lords with an account of the intelligence sent to the lords of the Admiralty relating to the sailing of the French fleet out of Brest. Rochester reported the king’s initial response the following day and on 15 Jan. he reported again, that although the king believed the House was in possession of all the information it needed, he would accede to their request. On 7 Feb. he reported from the committee preparing heads for a conference with the Commons about the intelligence relating to the Brest fleet, and on 12 and 15 Feb. he reported the results of the conference. Two days later Rochester acted as one of the tellers in the division whether to adjourn the debate over the dispute Montagu v. Bath. The motion was rejected by ten votes and Rochester then proceeded to vote against reversing the dismission of the court of chancery. On 26 Feb. he spoke in favour of passing the treason bill but it was thrown out without a division after it was made plain that the king was opposed to its passage.196 On 23 Apr. he was among the most vocal in stressing his opposition to the erection of the Bank of England.197 The following day he registered his dissent at the resolution to pass the supply bill.

Rochester’s support for at least two measures opposed by the king may have contributed to his exclusion from the council of advisors to the queen during the summer. Sunderland’s hostility was a more serious factor and Sunderland had advised a reduction in the overall size of the body to help ease Rochester out. Nevertheless, later in the summer it was rumoured that efforts were being made to reconcile the two men.198

William III’s reign, 1694-1702

Rochester’s exclusion from the queen’s council did not prevent the continuation of his pension of £4,000 from the civil list nor did it preclude him from participating in debates in the Privy Council concerning the summoning of the Irish Parliament. In common with Nottingham he thought should it should be recalled in September rather than delaying to the following spring.199 He then took his seat in the new session on 12 Nov. 1694 and was thereafter present on approximately 89 per cent of all sitting days.

The queen’s sudden death from smallpox threatened to throw affairs into some uncertainty. Although Rochester does not seem to have been concerned by William continuing as monarch without the legitimizing presence of Mary, he joined with Nottingham to raise the question whether Parliament was dissolved as a result of the queen’s death (writs having been issued in the names of both monarchs).200 Their temporary alliance was clearly not all-encompassing. On 12 Jan. 1695, Rochester and Nottingham acted opposite each other as tellers on the question whether to reverse the judgment in the cause bishop of London v. Birch. The motion was rejected by 30 votes to 40. On 23 Jan. Rochester again acted as one of the tellers on the question whether to postpone consideration of the amendments to the treason trials bill. The motion was again rejected, by 40 votes to 41, following which he entered his dissent at the resolution to agree with the committee’s amendment to postpone implementation of the bill until 1698. The following day (24 Jan.) he entered a further dissent against the addition of a further clause proposed by committee.

On 25 Jan. 1695 Rochester spoke in Nottingham’s support during the committee of the whole considering the state of the nation.201 He also attempted once more to raise the question whether the session was valid but was warned off the subject by the lord privy seal (Pembroke).202 Rochester was entrusted with Brooke’s proxy once more on 28 Jan., and on 12 Feb. he also received the proxy of Charles Lennox, duke of Richmond. Meanwhile, he continued to be active in managing committees. On 8 Feb. he reported from the committee for the bill for rebuilding Warwick and during the remainder of the month he reported from three more select committees. On 23 Feb. the House dismissed the petition of Hugh Jones, elder and younger, to be released from their imprisonment.

In the middle of February 1695 Rochester’s attention turned to other matters. On 16 Feb. he participated in the debates surrounding the petition of Sir Richard Verney, later 11th Baron Willoughby de Broke, to be granted a writ of summons. Rochester argued against the restoration of the Willoughby barony.203 Two days later he registered his protest at the resolution that the judges presiding over the Lancashire Plot trials had done their duty according to law. The following month he returned to the question of Verney’s petition. He marshalled the opposition to the request ‘with all the industry and skill imaginable’ and on 19 Mar. acted as one of the tellers on the question whether to adjourn the debate concerning the descent of baronies by writ.204 The motion was rejected by 35 votes to 22, following which Rochester subscribed the protest against the resolution to allow those claiming baronies by writ to be summoned to the House. The previous day (18 Mar.) he had also acted as one of the tellers in a further division in the cause Montagu v. Bath. The question whether the petition had been brought before the House properly was rejected by 35 votes to 37.

Having failed to get his way on several key pieces of legislation, Rochester resumed his position as one of the most active committee chairman during the final weeks of the session. On 11 Apr. 1695 he reported from the committee for examining John Maurice and on 16 Apr. he informed the House of the proceedings of the committee nominated to investigate Sir Thomas Cooke. The following day he reported from the committee taking the examination of Sir Robert Clayton and then reported both from the committee appointed to consider what should be raised at the conference with the Commons concerning Cooke, as well as from the conference itself. Five days later (22 Apr.) he informed the House that the committee had examined the ballots for the peers elected to meet with the Commons to examine Cooke and that 13 peers had been chosen (of whom he was one). Rochester reported from one final committee on the last day of April, and on 2 May he reported the reasons to be offered at a conference why the Lords could not agree with the Commons’ amendments to the bill concerning Cooke. He then, once more, reported the conference’s proceedings.

Rochester turned his attention to Ireland during the summer. It was reported that his nephew by marriage, Henry Boyle, later Baron Carleton, who had spent part of the summer at New Park, intended standing for the speakership of the Irish Parliament: his prospective candidature, promoted by Rochester, was illustrative of Rochester’s willingness to continue to co-operate with a family member even though Boyle had deserted the Tories for moderate Whiggery.205 In the event Boyle decided not to throw his hat into the ring.206 The general election that November also found Rochester active in promoting his interest. He was noted as having paid a bill amounting to £63 10s. at Wootton Bassett, where two Tories, Thomas Jacob and Henry Pinnell, were returned, presumably with Rochester’s blessing.207

Rochester took his place in the House three days into the new session on 25 Nov., after which he was present on 87 per cent of all sitting days. The focus of his attention during the session appears to have been the question of trade and the coinage. Soon after taking his seat he urged the House to turn its attention to the question of the coinage, participating in two committees of the whole on 3 and 4 December. He urged the necessity of addressing the bad condition the coin was in, of the need to recall clipped specie and of the need for an address to the king to request that all coin above sixpence be called in. He also reported the committee’s opinion that merchants trading in the Indies should attend the House to provide evidence of the ways in which the Scots East India Company might damage their trade.208 On 5 Dec. he reported from the committee for the address to the king about clipped coin and then reported from the subsequent conference held with the Commons about the matter. The following day Rochester was again to the fore in a committee of the whole concerning the state of the armed forces, urging that the king be asked to provide a list of all those in English pay. On 9 Dec. he was again vocal during the proceedings concerning the Scots East India Company, and on 13 Dec. he reported from the committee appointed to draw up an address to the king about the issue. The same day he also reported from the committee considering what ought to be offered at a conference with the Commons about the Scots company. For the remainder of the month and into the new year he continued to take the lead in committees and conferences considering the issue of the coinage and the Scots East India Company. On 23 Dec. he was also a prominent participant in the debates in the committee of the whole for the treason bill. He argued in favour of limiting the bill to three years and for the assassination of the king to be excepted from its provisions.209

Besides his activities relating to trade and currency, Rochester was again assiduous in his management of select committees and in other areas of the House’s business. He also, once more, offered his assistance (with his brother, Clarendon) in mediating between the duchess of Beaufort and earl and countess of Ailesbury in their ongoing dispute.210 On 4 Jan. 1696 he reported from two select committees and on 6 and 7 Jan. from the committee of the whole considering amendments to the oaths in Ireland act. On 7 Jan. he received the proxy of Francis North, 2nd Baron Guilford, and two days later he was again in receipt of Brooke’s proxy, which may have been related to his continuing opposition to permitting Verney to sit in the House. The same day he subscribed two protests relating to resolutions not to insist on parts of the bill for regulating the silver coinage and on 24 Jan. he protested again, this time at the resolution to pass the bill for preventing false and double returns of members of the Commons.

On 17 Feb. Rochester reported from the committee considering the act for continuing the act prohibiting trade with France.211 He reported from the same committee eight days later, and during the remainder of February and throughout March 1696 he reported from a further 14 committees. On 21 Mar. he was again entrusted with Brooke’s proxy and on 26 Mar. he also reported from the committee of the whole considering the bill for preventing frauds in the plantation trade, for which he desired more time for the committee to continue its deliberation. He then chaired subsequent sessions over the next two days and on 27 Mar. registered his dissent at the resolution to pass the bill for an increase of seamen. On 31 Mar. he dissented once more at the resolution to pass the bill for encouraging the bringing in of plate to the Mint. Less active the following month, he confined his activities to reporting from the committee for the Irish linen bill on 24 April.

Rochester was one of a number of peers to express their concern at the wording of the Association at the close of February and on 13 Apr. he joined Nottingham and Normanby (as Mulgrave had become) in urging moderation during the debates in the committee of the whole concerning the bill for securing the king’s person.212 Unsurprisingly, such a stance, attracted notice, and in September 1696 he was one of a number of peers thought likely to be implicated by Sir John Fenwick. Fears for his own reputation may have been behind reports that Rochester had behaved himself ‘like a friend’ to the embattled secretary, Charles Talbot, duke of Shrewsbury, who was also under assault from Fenwick’s revelations.213

With the Fenwick affair dominating the parliamentary agenda, Rochester took his place in the House almost a fortnight after the opening of the session on 2 Nov. 1696, after which he was present on almost 86 per cent of all sitting days. On 2 Dec. he registered his dissent at the resolution not to insist on amendments to the bill for remedying the state of the coinage. The following day he reported from a committee for a private bill and on 10 Dec. from the committee considering information from the Admiralty. In spite of his apparent sympathy towards Shrewsbury, Rochester proved hostile to the efforts to proceed against Fenwick by bill of attainder. On 15 Dec. he registered his dissent at the resolution to read Goodman’s information, and on 18 Dec. he spoke out against a statement made by Charles Powlett, duke of Bolton, in which Bolton had asserted that no one could be for the government and yet against the bill. He then proceeded to vote against giving the bill a second reading and registered a further dissent when the resolution was carried. Rochester laid out his reasons for opposing the bill in detail. He listed five points, among which was the lack of credible witnesses against Fenwick (an echo of his former complaint about the proceedings against his brother Clarendon). He argued that:

passing the bill would encourage enemies to the government showing it to be in a very tottering condition, when for its preservation, it’s forced to leap over all our laws and fly to so extraordinary a method to take away the life of one poor man.214

Rochester continued to oppose the proceedings, commenting critically on 22 Dec. that, ‘a government that must be supported by cordials cannot be long lived.’215 He then seconded the proposal put forward by Devonshire that Fenwick might be subjected to perpetual imprisonment rather than death. According to some reports, this idea had been concocted between the two. Unsurprisingly, Rochester voted against passing the bill the following day and subscribed the protest when the bill was carried.216

The new year saw no abatement in Rochester’s involvement in the aftermath to the proceedings surrounding Fenwick as he became similarly involved in the subsequent investigation into Monmouth’s activities. Following Monmouth’s three-hour speech in his own defence on 9 Jan. 1697 and an intervention by Leeds, Rochester was said to have ‘emptied the House’, though it is not clear whether this was by an unusually rambling speech or by a call for strangers to be removed from the chamber.217 On 18 Jan. he reported from the committee appointed to draw up a report to be presented to the king concerning the House’s resolutions and Monmouth’s commitment. Two days later he reported from the committee appointed to read the letters delivered to the House by Matthew Smith, and on 22 Jan. he reported from the committee appointed to prepare an address seeking Fenwick’s reprieve for a week.218

In the midst of such great national events Rochester continued to involve himself in more peripheral issues, and on 21 Jan. he was appointed one of the mediators to attempt to bring about a reconciliation between Huntingdon and his heir, George Hastings, styled Lord Hastings (later 8th earl of Huntingdon). On 23 Feb. 1697 he was entrusted with the proxy of George Berkeley, earl of Berkeley. Rochester also continued to report from numerous committees, informing the House of proceedings in 11 committees between 27 Jan. and 10 April. On 19 Mar. he reported from the conference considering the bill for prohibiting India silks and on 14 Apr. from the committee of the whole for the bill for the imposition of duties on tin and drugs. The following day he subscribed the protest against the resolution not to agree to the committee’s amendment to the bill for restraining the number of stock-jobbers.

In spite of his refusal to vote in favour of the Fenwick attainder, Rochester was again said to be very friendly with Shrewsbury at this time and on 23 Jan. Shrewsbury wrote to thank Rochester for his assistance during the proceedings.219 The letter elicited a rather self-deprecatory response, in which Rochester declared himself puzzled that ‘there could be so advantageous an account given to your grace of the small share I had in serving you in the House of Lords.’220 Following the close of the session, rumours circulated that Sunderland intended to bring Rochester, Marlborough and Godolphin ‘into play’.221 Rochester’s improved position no doubt assisted him in petitioning successfully to be permitted to act as his brother’s deputy in Whichwood Forest. The following month Rochester and Sunderland met on one or two occasions, a rapprochement which it was said, ‘alarms some people very much’, and on 23 Oct. Sunderland was entertained at Rochester’s seat, New Park, which was also attended by Ranelagh and Boyle.222

Rochester took his seat in the new session on 7 Dec. 1697, after which he was present on 85 per cent of all sitting days. By the close of the month it was put about that the Whigs were growing increasingly suspicious of Sunderland and Rochester’s continuing alliance.223 Such concerns did not prevent Rochester from taking the chair of the committee considering Mohun’s indictment for the murder of William Hill, from which he reported on 23 December. Rochester’s family were expected to take part in a three-week progress in early January 1698 but it seems unlikely that he was of the party.224 He was present in the House on 3 Jan. and was present on 19 days during that month alone. On 27 Jan. he reported from the committee for John Lewins’ bill and on 3 Feb. he reported from two further committees, including that concerning the petition of Charles Knollys to be recognized as 4th earl of Banbury. Rochester related further information to the House relating to the Banbury case on 7 February. On 16 Feb. he reported from the committee for drawing an address seeking an order discouraging the wearing of clothing not manufactured in England and on 19 Feb. from the committee investigating the best way to restrain over-lengthy and over-expensive law suits.

During the remainder of the session, Rochester reported the findings of a further 16 committees as well as taking the chair in committees of the whole and serving as a conference manager. On 28 Feb. 1698 he reported from the committee of the whole considering the act requiring retailers of salt to sell by weight, and on 3 Mar. he entered his protest against the resolution to pass the divorce bill of Charles Gerard, 2nd earl of Macclesfield. On 4 Mar. he reported from the committee considering Mohun’s petition to be brought quickly to trial. The same day he presented to the House the bill for restraining excessive law suits. He then reported from the committee for the bill later that month and between 31 Mar. and 4 Apr. also reported from two committees of the whole considering the further refinement of the measure.

The focus of the session proved to be the proceedings against the Tory member, Charles Duncombe. Having already registered his dissent at the resolution to read the bill for punishing Duncombe a second time, Rochester reported from the committee for devising heads for a conference with the Commons about the business on 7 Mar. and the same day reported from the ensuing conference. He reported from a subsequent conference concerning Duncombe’s punishment on 11 Mar. and on 15 Mar., having been consistent in his opposition to the measure throughout, he voted to throw the bill out. Two days later he revealed once again his willingness to support a political opposite by reportedly speaking up for the lord chancellor (John Somers, Baron Somers) against the aspersions made by Robert Bertie that Somers was guilty of corruption. On 18 Mar. he reported from the committee considering the libel penned by Bertie reflecting on the proceedings in chancery relating to the case Bertie v. Viscount Falkland.225

Rochester was entrusted with Weymouth’s proxy on 3 May 1698 and on 19 May he also received that of Nathaniel Crew, Baron Crew (bishop of Durham). The following month he was one of a trio of peers approached by John Methuen over Methuen’s fears for the effects the woollen bill was likely to have on Ireland. All three undertook ‘to secure it for this session’. They proved as good as their words and succeeded in having the measure put off for a week, ‘in such a manner that I hope we shall certainly gain our point’. On 3 June Rochester was present at a meeting at which were also Methuen and Godolphin (another of the three) as a result of which the woollen bill was laid aside.226

Rochester reported from the committee appointed to draw up the heads for a conference concerning the trial of Jean Goudet on 16 June. He then reported from the ensuing conference later the same day and from a subsequent conference on 21 June. In the midst of this, he also reported from the committee nominated to draw up the reasons for the Lords failing to agree with the Commons’ amendments to the bill confirming to the bishop of Winchester (Peter Mews) his lease of Alverstock waterworks.227 On 23 June he reported from a further two conferences and on 27 June he reported from the committee of the whole considering the bill for the relief of creditors. On 1 July he subscribed the protest at the resolution to give the bill for establishing the two million fund a second reading, and on 5 July he was one of the peers in the subcommittee for the Journal to sign off the record of the day’s proceedings.

The close of the session found Rochester involved in negotiations with Shrewsbury, who was eager to find a suitable country seat, for the lease or purchase of Cornbury Park. By this time Clarendon’s financial difficulties had become so acute that Rochester considered the sale of the family estate the only way to save his brother from disaster. In August 1698 he admitted to Shrewsbury that a report that he was minded to purchase it himself ‘was not without ground’, but he assured the duke that his ‘pretensions shall be no hindrance to your designs.’ Despite the urgency of the situation, Clarendon proved obdurate and by mid October Rochester was forced to inform Shrewsbury of his inability to persuade Clarendon to part with the house.228 Besides his continuing efforts to assist his brother that summer, Rochester also undertook to be ‘serviceable’ to the duchess of Monmouth (mother-in-law to Rochester’s daughter, Lady Dalkeith) in securing the payment of her pension.229

For all Rochester’s earlier willingness to speak on Somers’ behalf, he remained eager to keep the Junto in check. To this end he prepared to employ his interest to thwart the Junto-backed Sir Thomas Littleton in his efforts to secure the speakership in the new Parliament. In October Rochester joined Leeds and Nottingham in offering his backing to John Granville, later Baron Granville of Potheridge, for which he also seems to have secured Abingdon’s support.230 Rochester’s activities on this score were interrupted at the beginning of November when he was reported to be so sick with the gout that he was unable to receive visitors and was thus incapacitated from seeing Nottingham, who was by then eager to persuade him to withdraw his support from Granville, who was threatening to split the Tory vote.231 Nottingham was unable to prevent Granville from standing and the result was a victory for Littleton.

Having presumably rid himself of gout, Rochester finally took his seat in the new Parliament on 3 Jan. 1699, after which he was present on almost 88 per cent of all sitting days. The following day he introduced Henry Nassau d’Auverquerque*, as earl of Grantham. Reports soon circulated of anticipated alterations in the ministry with Godolphin tipped to become secretary of state and Rochester (again) lord treasurer.232 Once more, the rumoured appointment failed to materialize and Rochester resumed his steady management of committees in the House. On 31 Jan. he reported from the committee considering the reasons for adhering to the Lords’ amendments to the bill for preventing the exportation of corn, and he then reported from the conference at which the Lords’ reasons were communicated to the Commons. He reported from a second committee touching the same business the next day as well as reporting from the committee for a naturalization bill. Over the course of the session, Rochester reported from a further 33 committees, a number of them relating to naturalization bills as well as taking the lead as a conference manager and as an active member of the subcommittee for the Journal. The extent of his interest was also hinted at in a report of 2 Feb. that related how the king had sent for Rochester and Leeds the previous week to seek their advice about the disbanding bill and that it was as a result of their careful management that the bill passed the Lords so smoothly.233 Even so, on 8 Feb. Rochester voted against agreeing with the resolution offering to assist the king in retaining his Dutch guards and then signed the dissent when the motion was carried. On 2 Mar. he reported from the conference concerning the bill to prevent the distillation of corn, and on 12 Apr. he reported from the committee of the whole considering the bill for limiting the time within which writs of error might be brought. On 27 Apr. he subscribed the protest at the resolution to pass the supply bill, and towards the end of the month he reported from the conference between the two Houses triggered by the Commons’ refusal to agree to the Lords’ amendments to the bill for naturalizing Richard Legge. He then reported from a second conference on the same matter on 1 May. Two days later he was added to the committee for the Journal: a curious oversight as he had already been involved with examining the record during the session.

Following the close of the session, Rochester spent much of the summer in progress around the country. At the beginning of July it was reported that he was to travel to Chippenham (in Wiltshire) with Ormond and Ranelagh and on 16 July he was expected in the environs of Longleat.234 Rochester was one of several peers to have said to have declined offers of a return to office that summer.235 Meanwhile, he continued to engage in a series of high-profile meetings and on 6 Sept. was noted as being present at a dinner hosted by Grantham and also attended by Ormond, Charles Beauclerk, duke of St Albans, and Richard Lumley, earl of Scarbrough.236 In November the appointment of Richard Hill to the new treasury commission was also read as a sign of Rochester’s increasing influence. Hill was a diplomat and former deputy paymaster to the army in Flanders. His promotion was said to have been particularly urged by Ranelagh and Rochester.237

Rochester returned to the House almost a fortnight into the new session on 29 Nov. 1699, after which he was present on 87 per cent of all sitting days. On 11 Jan. 1700 he resumed his familiar role in the House reporting from the committee considering a report concerning the bishop of Derry, and during the remainder of the session he reported from a further 11 committees, including that appointed to draw an address relating to the Scots colony at Darien. On 1 Feb. he voted in favour of continuing the East India Company as a corporation, and on 23 Feb. he voted in favour of adjourning into a committee of the whole to discuss amendments to the East India bill.238 On 8 Mar. he subscribed the protest at the resolution to read the duke of Norfolk’s divorce bill a second time and four days later registered his dissent at the resolution to pass the measure.

Rochester’s intense concentration on business in the House hindered him from responding to renewed queries by Shrewsbury about leasing Cornbury that month, but by the end of the first week of March he was able to report to the duke that he had at last ‘finished the bargain with my brother that I have been some time about, and so the house and park and all belonging to it is in my hands’ and the whole ‘not the less at your service.’239 In the event, Shrewsbury chose not to lease Cornbury and the estate remained in Rochester’s possession. With estate business settled for the time being, Rochester once more engaged with business in the House. On 2 Apr. he reported from the conference concerning the bill for taking off duties on woollen manufactures and on 17 Apr. he reported from the conference for the address. The following day, and again on 22 Apr, he was one of those to sign off the Journal’s record of proceedings in February and April.

Following the close of the session, Rochester was again the subject of rumours that he was one of those expected to be brought in as a member of the cabinet council and as a lord justice during the king’s absence.240 At the close of the month it was reported that both Rochester and Shrewsbury had been offered the lord lieutenancy of Ireland, but that each had declined the place.241 Negotiations persisted into the summer, with Rochester actively involved in talks with Robert Harley, later earl of Oxford. He was briefly distracted by the death of Lady Clarendon in the latter half of July, which kept him in town to comfort his grief-stricken brother.242 The charged atmosphere contributed to a very public falling out between Rochester and Godolphin towards the end of the summer, but by the end of the first week of September reports were put about that they had reconciled.243 Rochester returned to town in the second week of October and on 15 Oct. he was engaged in further talks with Godolphin in advance of a meeting with Harley. Early in November it was reported that Rochester had at last been prevailed on to accept the lieutenancy of Ireland and this was repeated in a newsletter later the same month.244 His central role in the negotiations throughout the year no doubt contributed to talk that he was to be the ‘prime minister’ in the new administration.245

By mid November the shape of affairs was becoming clearer. Rochester, it was said, would not leave for Ireland until after the close of the forthcoming parliamentary session, but he would be empowered to appoint a deputy, ‘a favour not usually granted’.246 In early December he and Godolphin were admitted to the cabinet council and five days later, Rochester was declared as the new Irish lieutenant by the king at Kensington (though it was not until 28 Dec. that his commission was formally ratified). On 26 Dec. the Flying Post reported that he had commissioned a ‘very fine coach’ for the occasion.247

Rochester’s restored credit may well have been behind rumours circulating in January 1701 that one of his daughters was to marry the recently ennobled Charles Montagu, Baron (later earl of) Halifax.248 No such alliance proved forthcoming but the suggestion may well have indicated amicable relations between the high Tory Rochester and the Whig Halifax. If so, their bond was perhaps brought about by working together on the recoinage scheme the previous decade and by a mutual interest in the records committee. A further example of Rochester’s new influence at court was the summoning of Convocation in February, which was said to have been in response to a direct request from Rochester to the king.249 By the second week of February Rochester was said to be working ‘hand in glove’ with Harley, the country party’s preferred candidate for the speakership of the Commons.250

Rochester took his seat in the new session on 10 Feb. 1701. Present on 86 sitting days in the session (more than three-quarters of the whole), his new responsibilities seem to have had some impact on the extent of his activities in the House, but he still found time to report from the committee considering the state of the fleet on 21 and 22 February. He proceeded to report from a further three committees during the course of the session, including that for vesting the estate of Humphrey Hyde in trustees, as well as from at least one case brought before the committee for privileges. On 27 Feb. he was nominated by James Annesley, 3rd earl of Anglesey, as one of four lords to attempt to mediate with Anglesey’s estranged countess. On 3 Mar. Rochester reported the peers’ failure to convince Lady Anglesey to return to her husband and read out her reasons for refusing to be reconciled. This failure did not prevent Rochester from again being named as a mediator between another warring couple at the close of the month. On this occasion, he was more fortunate and by the end of April he was able to report a successful outcome with Nathaniel Fiennes, 4th Viscount Saye and Sele, and the dowager viscountess (his stepmother) coming to an agreement.251

In the midst of such efforts, Rochester was also prominent in working to thwart efforts by the Junto to regain the initiative. On 18 Mar. he registered his dissent against a resolution relating the passage of the partition treaty and the same day he was one of a number of peers to oppose (unsuccessfully) an amendment to the address put forward by Wharton. On 20 Mar. he dissented again at the resolution not to send the address relating to the partition treaty to the Commons for their concurrence, and on 16 Apr. he protested once more at the resolution to address the king to desire him not to punish the impeached lords until their impeachments had been tried. He then protested at the resolution to expunge the text of the former protest from the Journal. Rochester continued to put his name to protests relating to the impeachments through early June and on 17 June he voted against acquitting Somers. He then subscribed two further protests at the resolution to acquit.252

The close of the session brought the question of Rochester’s impending departure for Ireland back to the head of the agenda. The issuing of a warrant on 18 July allowing him £3,000 for equipage prompted expectation that he would leave later that week.253 A series of delays ensued and by the end of August Rochester was still clinging stubbornly to the mainland. Reports began to circulate that his failure to take up his post was creating serious problems in Ireland.254 By the second week of September Rochester had made it as far as Chester, where he was subject to further delays by the adverse weather conditions.255 It was thus not until the second half of September that he finally set foot on Irish soil. While Rochester battled the elements, he deputed to James Vernon the task of petitioning the king on behalf of Charles Granville, 2nd earl of Bath, for the office of warden of the stannaries, which he hoped would secure the quiescence of crucial members of the Granville clan in Cornwall.256

Rochester’s sojourn in Ireland proved relatively brief. Although in late October he claimed to know nothing of a time for his likely return to England, in early December he was granted leave to return in time to take his place in the new session of Parliament. Later that month it was speculated that the king would be forced to turn to a triumvirate of Rochester, Marlborough and Godolphin to oversee the ‘conduct of his affairs’ and that Rochester would be replaced in Ireland by Ormond.257 Hindered once again by bad weather, which prevented him from attending the start of the parliamentary session as he had planned, Rochester eventually landed in Wales early in January 1702. On 10 Jan. it was reported that he was expected in London later that day. Rochester’s route from Wales to London allowed him to call at Althorp on the way. His decision to confer with Sunderland at this time was said to have given ‘matter for speculation’ and led to some reports that he was to be offered the lord treasurership, though at least one commentator dismissed such rumours.258 Rochester’s true standing at court was certainly not as assured as those who expected him to take on the treasury believed. Although he was well received at court, on 15 Jan. it was put about that he would be unlikely to retain the Irish lieutenancy. Less than ten days later, it was reported that he had resigned. He was dismissed the following day (25 January). This was confirmed by a subsequent report of 27 Jan. that described his audience and noted that the lieutenancy ‘was not voluntarily parted with but according to the king’s pleasure.’259

The Church in danger, 1702-7

Out of office once more in spite of the great expectations of the previous year, Rochester took his seat in the House on 3 Feb. 1702, after which he was present on 27 occasions in the session (27 per cent of all sitting days). The king’s death on 8 Mar. offered Rochester the prospect of renewed interest as it appeared likely that his niece, Queen Anne, would look with greater favour on the high Tories than her predecessor had and would offer to men like Rochester greater opportunities for securing the Church of England. On 18 Mar. he was sworn of the new Privy Council and the following day it was also said that he was expected to resume his place in Ireland: an oversight by which his commission had never been revoked formally facilitating an early resumption of his duties there.260 On 20 Mar. it was speculated that he and Normanby along with Marlborough and John Manners, 9th earl (later duke) of Rutland, would be promoted to dukedoms. A similar rumour was repeated later in the month and on 23 Mar. he resumed his place at the cabinet council.261 As an indication that all might not be well, though, Cary Gardiner noted that one motivation for posting Rochester back to Ireland was because ‘the Parliament would not like him here.’262 Further talk of promotions for Rochester and his kinsmen persisted over the ensuing weeks. In mid April, Rochester’s daughter-in-law was said to have been appointed to the queen’s bedchamber (though this was not confirmed until May) and over the next few weeks it was speculated that either Rochester himself or his son-in-law, Dalkeith, would be made master of the horse.263

In the midst of such speculation, Rochester proceeded to participate in negotiations with Godolphin, Harley and Nottingham over the text of the queen’s speech.264 Although Rochester was not present on the attendance list for 25 May 1702, when the queen delivered her address dissolving Parliament included within it was the clause on which he and Nottingham had insisted, in which the queen asserted that ‘my own principles must always keep me entirely firm to the interests and religion of the Church of England and will incline me to countenance those who have the truest zeal to support it’.265

Soon after the dissolution, Rochester was said to be readying himself again for his return to Ireland.266 As before, he showed little inclination to hurry his departure. On 2 June he wrote to Marlborough from his lodgings in the Cockpit to assure him of his ‘faithful service’ and by the middle of the month he was still in England.267 According to John Thompson, Baron Haversham, Rochester was by this time one of six figures dominating government.268 In mid July it was reported that he was expected in Ireland the following month, but he continued to drag his heels. Although a new commission constituting him lord lieutenant passed the Privy Council on 19 Aug., Rochester continued to show no obvious signs of preparing for his departure.269

Business in London seems to have been chiefly responsible for keeping Rochester from his duties on the island. He also seems to have been engaged with using his interest on Dalkeith’s behalf.270 He did, though, find time to visit Oxford at the beginning of October to deliver copies of the second volume of Clarendon’s History and to discuss other matters relating to its publication with the governors of the university press.271 Rochester had returned to New Park by 12 Oct. and later that month he was noted as one of the executors of the recently deceased duchess of Richmond, responsible for seeing to the settling of her £60,000 personal estate.272

Having apparently remained in the vicinity of London throughout the summer, Rochester took his seat in the new Parliament on 21 Oct., after which he was present on 55 per cent of all sitting days during which he reported from three committees. By then an authority on parliamentary procedure, in early January 1703 Rochester intervened during the third reading of one bill when Richard Cumberland, bishop of Peterborough, attempted to insert an amendment. Rochester objected that the bishop’s action was irregular, but he desisted when it was pointed out that the amendment was merely intended to correct an error in transcription. The point of Rochester’s principal interest in the session, though, was the occasional conformity bill. He was critical of the timing of the bill, but his argument that it was a just measure if unseasonable did not prevent him from being assessed as a likely supporter of the bill, and on 16 Jan. 1703 he voted against adhering to the Lords’ amendment to the penalty clause. He was prominent too in other matters brought before the House. On 9 Jan. he intervened in the debate over the wording of the address, which brought him into conflict with Somerset, and on 11 Jan. during the debates in a committee of the whole considering the bill for Prince George of Denmark, duke of Cumberland, Rochester moved that a clause relating to the act of succession should be read before they continued with the debate. When it was moved to resume the House, Rochester objected and called for the committee of the whole to continue where they would be able to speak with greater freedom. His motion was rejected by 54 votes to 46. Ten days later (21 Jan.) he again drew upon his knowledge of parliamentary procedure to argue against permitting Richmond to bring in an appeal as this would have the effect of stopping the case when Parliament was prorogued. On 22 Jan. he subscribed the protest at the resolution to dismiss the petition of Squire and Thompson in their appeal against Wharton.273

Aside from his activities in Parliament, Rochester maintained a close interest in his family and in the latter part of November 1702, he approached Lady Marlborough to ask the queen to secure a place in the bedchamber for his daughter, Lady Dalkeith, a move that the countess found all the more surprising given his previously ‘very barbarous’ behaviour towards her. Rochester’s willingness to appeal to someone with whom he was on such bad terms echoed a tale told by Bishop Burnet and recorded by William Nicolson, bishop of Carlisle, that Rochester had approached Burnet to ask his assistance in restoring Rochester to Queen Mary’s favour, citing the gospel justification that he had always been the bishop’s enemy.274 The result of his approach to Lady Marlborough was a refusal as the queen decided not to increase the number of her attendants at that time.275 As well as being unable to secure the place for his daughter, Rochester also seems to have been experiencing financial difficulties. At the beginning of 1703 it was reported that Clarendon’s library was to be sold as Rochester had failed to pay the money charged on it the week before.

By the beginning of February 1703, it was clear that Rochester had no intention of making the journey back to Ireland. He was relieved of the position and replaced by Ormond. There was some uncertainty how Rochester might be compensated for the loss, though the lord treasurership was again mentioned. His behaviour seems to have raised questions about his standing at court. On 11 Feb. it was noted that he had returned to London after a break at New Park, but that he had not been at court, though two days later another report emphasized that he had been there and insisted that he remained firmly in the queen’s favour.276 Although he appeared eager to demonstrate his continued interest in the administration, for example by arriving ‘pretty early’ for a meeting of the cabinet council convened in the dean of Westminster’s lodgings on 14 Feb., his apparent disinclination to act raised fears among his natural supporters.277 John Isham commented to his brother, Sir Justinian Isham, that he hoped ‘Lord Rochester’s example will not be followed by Ld. N[ottingham?], – or any other, if they throw up the cards we know into whose hands the game will fall.’278 Isham’s advice was not heeded and Rochester walked away from the ministry irritated both by its apparent refusal to safeguard the church and by the continuing policy of conducting a land war in preference to a blue water strategy. This was something that Rochester had long advocated and was reflected in his voting record in the previous reign on matters relating to the armed forces.279

Rochester joined his son and granddaughters in contesting a case with John Granville, Baron Granville of Potheridge, in the early summer of 1703 over the raising of money to pay portions to, among others, Rochester’s younger grandchildren.280 Shortly before the opening of the new session of Parliament, he provoked the queen’s indignation by putting his hand to an inflammatory dedication to the second volume of his father’s History, in which he expressed his concerns over the direction of government policy. The queen wrote to Lady Marlborough that she found it ‘wonderful that people that don’t want sense in some things should be so ridiculous as to show their vanity.’281 Copies of the volume presented to members of the Hanoverian royal family by Edmund Poley at Rochester’s request met with an apparently better reception.282

Rochester took his seat in the new session on 10 Nov., after which he was present on two-thirds of all sitting days. In advance of the session, he was assessed again (this time by Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland) as a likely supporter of the occasional conformity bill. Sunderland’s prediction was then mimicked in a later forecast of 26 Nov., and Rochester was among those listed as having voted in favour of the bill on 14 December. He then registered his dissent against resolutions not to give the bill a second reading and to throw the measure out. Personal matters also proved significant during the session for Rochester. On 9 Dec. he brought before the House a complaint against William Townshend, whom he accused of taking possession of one of his estates at Witney in Oxfordshire. Townshend was ordered to be attached, but he was later discharged having acknowledged his offence. On 21 Dec. Rochester was also involved as one of those named in a bill presented to the House for making an agreement between him, Grey of Warke and Charles Bennet, 2nd Baron Ossulston (later earl of Tankerville) relating to lands in Durham, Northumberland and Berwick.

Besides these matters, Rochester seems not to have made much impression on the early weeks of the session. His lack of activity clearly weighed upon him and on 17 Dec. he wrote to Harley (who had attempted to wait on Rochester) assuring him that, ‘if I did know one minute that you could be at leisure for so idle a man as I am, to wait on you, you would be troubled with me.’ In a subsequent letter five days later, Rochester again assured Harley of his intention to wait on him, though he was eager that it should not be thought he had any business to discuss, ‘when indeed I have none.’283 In spite of these apparently friendly exchanges, by the beginning of the new year, it was reported that relations between Harley and the Tories had deteriorated over Harley’s reputed ingratitude to Rochester.284 Having spent the Christmas holiday at New Park, Rochester returned to the House in January 1704. More active than he had been prior to Christmas, during the remainder of the session he reported from a dozen committees, including that examining papers from the Admiralty, and on 14 Jan. he registered his dissent at the resolution to reverse the judgment given in the cause Ashby v. White.

Rochester’s greater activity in the House did not disguise the increasing tensions within the administration. In January it was reported that Ormond was ‘governed by my lord Rochester endeavouring to divide the Irish protestant interest into high church and low church.’285 Through March Rochester put his name to a series of dissents relating to the so-called gibberish letters (coded information relating to the Scots plot), to amendments made to the commission for accounts and to the bill for raising recruits for the army. On 25 Mar. he registered further dissents at resolutions concerning the failure to pass a censure on Ferguson. Retreat from holding office in no way negated the extent of Rochester’s interest at this time, though, and on 25 Apr. it was reported that Godolphin, ‘jealous of the earl of Rochester’s strength, is forming an interest to support himself.’286 Rochester, on the hand, appears to have been keen to stress that he was no longer at the heart of things. In a letter to Marlborough that July, congratulating him on his victory at Blenheim, he excused his temerity in writing, noting that it was ‘hardly decent for a man out of world to be crowding with the first to make his compliments.’287

In September 1704 Rochester was in town, busy with overseeing the publication of the final volume of his father’s History of Rebellion.288 The following month it was reported that he had joined with Buckingham (as Normanby had since become) and Nottingham with the intention of doing all in their power to obstruct business in the forthcoming session.289 On 1 Nov. he was accordingly noted as a likely supporter of the Tack.290 Rochester took his seat in the House two days later, after which he was present on almost 60 per cent of all sitting days in the session, and on 10 Nov. he was entrusted with the proxy of George Compton, 4th earl of Northampton. On 7 Nov. he seconded the lord treasurer’s motion that care should be taken ‘to prevent those confusions in the House which have been common of late when the queen appeared’, and on 15 Nov. he reported from the committee for privileges to which the problem had been referred, noting that the committee had met with Sir Christopher Wren to discuss plans for improving the House during the queen’s appearances.291 Rochester reported from a further seven committees during the session as well as reporting from the committee of the whole considering the Irish linen bill in February 1705. On 23 Nov. 1704, he spoke in support of Haversham, following the latter’s long diatribe about the ill consequences of the Scots act of security, continuing to press for a select committee to be appointed to consider the state of the coinage. When it was proposed that this might be considered in a committee of the whole, Rochester rejected the suggestion. He complained that it would be too much like the House and would achieve nothing.292 Marlborough concluded that both Rochester and Haversham’s behaviour had been ‘very impudent.’293 Rochester then returned to his theme in the committee of the whole appointed to consider the issue on 29 Nov., lambasting his fellow peers for their behaviour and moving that the printed act of security should be read.294

Rochester’s evident irritation with the state of affairs had in no way abated by the beginning of December. He was said to have been one of the Tories whose zeal had turned to rage, ‘and they resolve to leave nothing undone to bring back their party to a majority.’ Their first target was said to be the Speakership of the Commons and once that had been achieved it was reported that they intended to bring Rochester in at the head of a new ministry.295 It may have been as part of an effort to bolster Tory support in the House that Rochester was entrusted with the proxy of Thomas Leigh, 2nd Baron Leigh, on 2 December. Debates on the Scots bill that month found Rochester ranged once more with Nottingham and Haversham against the principal Junto peers, Wharton, Somers and Halifax. On 6 and 10 Dec. he spoke in the debates concerning Scotland, moving for an address to the throne, as had been done previously in 1695 and 1699.296 On 15 Dec. he was again one of those to speak in favour of the occasional conformity bill. He registered his dissent at the resolution to throw the measure out once more and on 20 Dec. he warned the House of the consequences of bringing in the union bill, observing that it was more likely to ‘provoke the high-spirited nobility of Scotland, than compass the end proposed.’297 The culmination of the agitation in the House by the Tories was Haversham’s motion of 15 Jan. 1705 that the Electress Sophia should be invited to Britain, which Rochester supported.298 On 17 Jan. Rochester then subscribed one further protest in the session against the resolution to read the Bath estate bill.

Rochester was noted (inaccurately) as a Jacobite sympathizer in a list of peers compiled in April 1705.299 He continued to espouse the cause of bringing the electress to England and later that summer sponsored a mission to Hanover undertaken by Dr Hutton, to inform her of the Tories’ plans to raise the question of the invitation again in the forthcoming session.300 He took his seat in the House on 27 Oct. and was thereafter present on over 70 per cent of all sitting days. On 6 Nov. he moved that there should be a call of the House the following Monday. On 13 Nov. he was one of only seven peers (and one bishop) to be present at the committee for the address.301 He then seconded Haversham’s motion for the Lords to be summoned as he (Haversham) had something of importance to convey to them and two days later he was one of a minority in the House to support Haversham’s renewed call for the electress to be brought over to England.302 He then subscribed the protest at the resolution not to put the question whether such an address should be drawn up. On 23 Nov. he seconded Somers’ motion that the whole Scots act be repealed and on 29 Nov. ‘with a warmth more than common’ he moved that the Act of Uniformity should be entrenched within the union bill, declaring that ‘though he would not say that the Church of England was in danger during her majesty’s life, he could not help thinking that it would be so upon her demise’.303

The following day (30 Nov. 1705), Rochester seconded the motion proposed by Halifax (though from a rather different motivation) for a day to be set aside to consider reports that some were disaffected to the church and prompted that it should be set down on the order sheet as a day to debate whether or not the church was in danger under the current administration.304 He then registered his dissent at the resolution not to give any further instructions to the committee of the whole to which the bill for securing the Protestant succession was referred. On 3 Dec. he subscribed three further protests concerning the bill. On 5 Dec. Rochester was again prominent in voicing his concerns during the debates on the regency bill. He and his supporters were eager to exclude Godolphin from being one of the lords justices as well as being adamant that a clause should be inserted limiting the justices’ power so that they would not be capable of altering the act of uniformity.305 The following day he returned to the theme of the church in danger. Rochester was the first to speak in the debate and, having resumed his seat, the House was said to have fallen silent for a quarter of an hour before Halifax rose to counter his argument.306 Wharton later objected that the only danger appeared to be that neither Rochester nor Buckingham were currently in office before proceeding to reflect on Rochester’s role as a member of the ecclesiastical commission. Unsurprisingly, Rochester endorsed the protest drawn up that day against the resolution that the church was not in danger.

Rochester’s assault on the government coupled with his agitation for an invitation to Electress Sophia undoubtedly did him considerable harm in his relations with the queen. As the duumvirs’ administration became more entrenched and increasingly dependent on Whig support, Rochester’s interest also underwent a significant decline. In December Richard Hill was thought to have been removed from his place on Prince George’s council at the Admiralty and replaced by Sir Stafford Fairborne, a move that prompted one commentator to note how ‘my Lord R[ochester], has not interest enough to protect his friends.’ In the event Fairborne was forced to wait until the following year before joining the council and Hill retained his place.307 Gradual erosion of his interest and continuing passion about the causes then before the House seems to have made Rochester even more querulous than usual. On 11 Dec. he was engaged in a heated argument with Halifax in the chamber as part of ‘a great dispute in the House of Lords between high church and low church’, which resulted in a challenge to settle the affair in a duel. It is not clear whether the intended combat ever took place.308

In the midst of such heats, Rochester continued to dominate in committee work. He was also entrusted with the proxy of his son-in-law, Francis Seymour Conway, Baron Conway, on 8 Dec., which was vacated by Conway’s return to the House a month later. From late January until the beginning March 1706 Rochester reported from committees on 22 occasions. From late December he was also an active member of the committee for the records, along with his Junto rivals Halifax and Somers.309 On 15 Jan. during a session of the committee for regulating proceedings at law, he voiced his opposition to a proposal made by lord chief justice Holt to permit juries to take refreshments during a trial, arguing that this would lead to the undesirable extension of proceedings.310 On 31 Jan. he entered three dissents against the bill for securing the Protestant succession. On 21 Feb. he moved for dispensing with a standing order relating to the management of private bills, in which he was seconded by Nottingham and Somers, but opposed by Wharton, Halifax, Godolphin and Marlborough. The following day, although the House seemed inclined to agree to the motion proposed by Mohun and others to throw out the Parton Harbour bill, Rochester requested that the commissioners for customs might first be heard before the measure was dismissed and was able to secure his point.311 On 28 Feb., having earlier chaired the committee for Conway’s bill, Rochester reported from the select committee nominated to draw up reasons to be presented to the Commons at a conference concerning the lower House’s amendment to another bill. He then reported from the ensuing conference concerning the measure. Rochester joined with a dozen of his colleagues in registering his dissent against the 9 Mar. resolution to agree with the Commons that Sir Rowland Gwynne’s letter defending the invitation to Electress Sophia was a scandalous libel. In doing so they stood apart from a majority on both sides, who for differing reasons were eager to castigate Gwynn for his actions. Three days later Rochester also argued against passing the censure against Gwynne, objecting that it would appear to have been published by authority of the court of Hanover.312

Despite his uneasy relationship with the administration, Rochester maintained an ostensibly amicable correspondence with Marlborough during the summer.313 He also seems to have been eager to remain on terms with Harley and undertook to do nothing towards recommending a successor to Colonel Soames as deputy governor of the New River Company without first seeking Harley’s advice.314 He took his place in the new session on 5 Dec. 1706, after which he continued to attend on 77 per cent of all sitting days. On 1 Feb. 1707 he was again entrusted with Conway’s proxy (vacated by the close) and on 4 Feb. with that of Price Devereux, 9th Viscount Hereford. During the course of the session he reported from committees on 20 occasions as well as reporting from the committee for privileges twice and from a session of a committee of the whole considering the vagrants bill towards the close. On 14 Jan. 1707 he was one of those to second Nottingham’s insistence on drawing up of an act providing for the security of episcopacy in the light of the union bill, and on 3 Feb. he subscribed the protest at the failure to insist on the committee of the whole being instructed to insert a clause making the Test Act of 1673 ‘perpetual and unalterable.’ On 15 Feb. he again lent his support to moves to make amendments to the measure and on 27 Feb. subscribed four further protests to resolutions relating to Scots representation at Westminster.315 Rochester revealed his awareness that he was thought to be hostile to the Scots union in a letter to Queensberry on 6 Mar. in which he confessed, ‘I know how I am represented as not very well affected to this matter, but upon my word, I am very well satisfied with it, and particularly with the honour you have had in it.’316 When Queensberry arrived in London the following month, Rochester was one of the nobility to turn out to greet him. Rochester attended five days of the brief nine-day session of April 1707, time enough for him to register his dissent at the resolution to consider the following day the judges’ refusal to answer the question whether existing laws were sufficient to prevent frauds relating to the payment of duties on East India goods. In May it was noted that he was one of a number of former members of the Privy Council absent from, and so left out of, the new (post-Union) body.317

The Scots and Sacheverell, 1707-11

As part of his efforts to undermine the administration of Godolphin and Marlborough, Rochester appears to have turned his attention to Marlborough’s duchess, whom he sought (once again) to displace from the queen’s favour. Over the next few years the queen distanced herself from Duchess Sarah turning instead to Abigail Masham. How significant Rochester’s role was in bringing this about is uncertain, but the duchess appears to have become suspicious even of close kin, including her brother-in-law, Edward Griffith, who she accused of entering ‘into my Lord Rochester’s project’ of separating her from the queen.318 Members of the administration became increasingly aware of their vulnerability to attack in other areas as well, and in July 1707 Marlborough warned Godolphin not to raise the question of the management of the war in the forthcoming parliamentary session as he considered it something that Rochester ‘and all his friends would be extreme glad of.’319

Rochester took his seat in the first British Parliament on 30 Oct. 1707, after which he was present on almost 72 per cent of all sitting days, during which he reported from eight committees. On 20 Nov. he was noted as one of those to second the call made by Wharton for a committee to be appointed to hear the testimony of a number of merchants relating to the condition of the fleet. Others supporting the motion included the Junto peers Orford, Somers and Halifax.320 Having combined with such improbable allies, Rochester drew further attention to himself by requesting an adjournment for a week. This prompted at least one commentator to query ‘whether he did not like his company, or what other reason he had, the vulgar are at a loss to know.’321 On 24 Nov. Rochester reported from the committee considering the presence of peers’ sons in the House and he proceeded to report from a further seven committees during the course of the session as well as from four committees of the whole and the conference considering the bill for encouraging trade to America. The focus of the session proved to be the Tories’ assault on the conduct of the war in Spain, for which Rochester opened the attack in the House on 15 December. A report of 16 Jan. 1708 concerning the investigation of Peterborough’s expedition noted that ‘enough has passed there to show that the duke of Normanby, Lord Rochester etc. are well-wishers to his lordship’s cause.’ During the debate about the dissolution of the Scots privy council on 7 Feb. (a measure that he espoused) Rochester attempted to rebuke John Campbell, duke of Argyll [S] (who sat as earl of Greenwich) for his intemperate language, though Argyll then rounded on Rochester in turn, protesting that he was ‘surprised to be censured by a peer who was the most passionate in his discourse of any in the whole house.’322 The same day, he moved that Somers’ bill for securing the future quiet of cathedrals should be committed. Rochester’s predilection for being a stickler on points of order was emphasized once more on 13 Feb. when he ‘severely checked’ his colleagues for sitting uncovered when the annuity bill was granted the royal assent by commission.323

It was an indication of Rochester’s continuing centrality in politics that during the ensuing crisis in government precipitated by the Whig ministers refusing to continue in office with Robert Harley, Rochester’s name was put about as a likely successor to Godolphin in the event of Harley succeeding in retaining his post as secretary.324 Rochester himself was not thought to have been a party to the intended redistribution of offices, and in the event the Whigs prevailed and Rochester remained outside of the administration.325 This did not prevent him from demonstrating once more his willingness to co-operate with unlikely allies when he seconded the motion put forward by Wharton on 20 Feb. for the House to take into consideration the state of the navy.326

Rochester was, unsurprisingly, listed as a Tory in an assessment of May 1708. Later that summer Sunderland commented to the duchess of Marlborough the difficulty of predicting how Rochester (and Haversham) might behave in the forthcoming session, pointing out that, ‘As for what they will do in anything it’s pretty hard to judge of them because they don’t act upon any steady principle.’327 Such uncertainty may have been in part the result of Rochester proving so disarmingly willing to concert with the Whigs on occasion. In August it was reported that Rochester, Harley and William Bromley were to be reconciled and that they were thought certain of securing the favour of the queen and Prince George: ‘a very dismal prospect.’328 Rochester took his seat in the new session on 16 Nov. 1708, after which he was present on just over 70 per cent of all sitting days, but he was less active in committee work than formerly, reporting from just four committees during the course of the session. Marlborough was caustic in his assessment of Rochester’s tactics commenting that he would pay court to the devil if he thought it would damage the duumvirs and duchess of Marlborough.329 On 10 Dec. it was reported that Rochester was again in favour at court and that he would be reconciled with Lord S (perhaps meaning Somers).330

Matters relating to Scotland dominated the opening of 1709. Following a characteristically lengthy opening harangue by Haversham, Rochester spoke in the House on 12 Jan. concerning the recent attempted Jacobite invasion of Scotland.331 On 21 Jan. he joined with Godolphin ‘and a great many other lords, who used not to vote together’ in supporting the motion that Queensberry should be permitted to sit by virtue of his English dukedom, though this was successfully opposed by Wharton and Somers.332 The same day Rochester voted to permit Scots peers with British titles to vote in the elections for the representative peers. Three days later Rochester found himself again siding with an unlikely set of allies, among them Somers and Cowper. Such curious realignments may have led to speculation at the beginning of February that there had been some ‘tampering between Rochester and Somers’ during the previous summer. In early March it was put about that the Junto’s strategy was being driven by concern not to be ‘outrun by Rochester and Haversham.’333

Rochester’s support for the rights of Scots peers may have been one of the reasons for his selection as godfather to one of Hamilton’s sons in November 1709. The same month he suffered the loss of his brother, Clarendon.334 Clarendon’s death left the high stewardship of the university of Oxford vacant, for which Marlborough was proposed by some, though this elicited an unflattering response, enabling ‘others of more sense’ to nominate Rochester instead. He was accordingly confirmed by the university convocation on 21 November.335

Rochester’s personal affairs did not prevent him from taking his seat in the House two days later, after which he was present on 77 per cent of all sitting days. On 15 Dec. he seconded another long speech made by Haversham calling for a debate on the state of the nation, though the duchess of Marlborough remarked that Rochester did so in only ‘a very few words’ and that he ‘looked very dejected and old.’336 On 10 Jan. 1710 Rochester successfully requested an adjournment on the motion proposed by Haversham as the latter was unwell, and on 14 Jan. he presented to the House a petition by the impeached cleric, Henry Sacheverell, though Sacheverell’s request to be bailed was turned down.337 The following month Rochester spoke in the parallel case concerning Greenshields, arguing that nothing might be done until all the papers had been sent down from Edinburgh for the House to peruse.338 On 14 Mar. he registered his dissent at the resolution not to adjourn the House and then entered his protest against the decision that it was unnecessary to include the words supposed to be criminal in an impeachment. On 16 and 17 Mar. he protested on three occasions against the resolutions that the Commons had made good their articles against Sacheverell, and on 18 Mar. he protested again at the decision to limit peers to a single verdict of guilty or not guilty. Reported to have been one of several peers reduced to tears by Sacheverell’s performance during his trial, on 20 Mar. Rochester (unsurprisingly) found the doctor not guilty of the charges against him.339 He then registered his dissent against the guilty verdict and on 21 Mar. dissented again against the terms of the censure.

In addition to these activities, and in spite of the duchess of Marlborough’s assessment that he looked old and jaded at the turn of the year, Rochester remained a prominent member of the House. He was to the fore in registering his dissent to measures that did not agree with him. On 16 Feb. he registered three dissents concerning resolutions relating to Greenshields and to the Commons’ address to the queen requesting Marlborough’s immediate departure for Holland. Between the beginning of February and first week of April 1710, he also reported from 20 committees. On 17 Feb. he reported from the privileges committee considering the petition of Lawrence Fiennes, 5th Viscount Saye and Sele, to be permitted a writ of summons. On 27 Mar. he reported from the committee considering the Lords’ reasons for disagreeing with an amendment to Southwell’s bill and the same day reported from the ensuing conference with the Commons about the measure. Three days later he reported from the conference concerning amendments to the Edistone lighthouse bill, and on 5 Apr. he reported from a further conference considering the copyright bill.

The changing political situation that emerged in the aftermath of the Sacheverell trial and that saw Shrewsbury brought back into the administration as lord chamberlain, also found Rochester again at the centre of negotiations among Tory peers expecting to benefit from the new state of affairs. In May Ormond was said to have been actively promoting a reconciliation between Rochester and Leeds.340 Although Shrewsbury contradicted claims made by Arthur Maynwaring that Rochester was once more advising the queen, reports of his likely role in a new ministry persisted, and the following month the duchess of Marlborough warned the queen starkly that the City would not tolerate an administration dominated by Harley and Rochester.341 Having at first been reluctant to step into the light, by July Rochester seems to have decided to play a more active role. That month he emphatically denied being engaged with Harley, claiming that he ‘never was nor ever would be concerned with him’, but it was noticeable that he returned to court that month and according to some reports he did so because he had been ‘sent for’. It was also thought that there may be a post in the new administration for his heir.342 The following month it was said that he would have been offered the treasury had Harley not determined to take control of the department himself.343

For all his denials of being engaged in the formation of the new administration, Rochester was subjected to verbal abuse from a small group of ‘evil disposed persons’ in early August, who gathered outside his lodgings in the Cockpit to drink ‘confusion to his lordship and all his friends and damnation to Dr Sacheverell.’344 Outwardly, Rochester, so it was reported, remained ‘highly disgusted’ with Harley. The duchess of Roxburgh expressed her indignation at the manner in which Nottingham and Rochester had been denied places in the new administration. As the summer progressed, though, and Harley found himself unable to persuade several key members of the former regime to remain in place under him, it became increasingly apparent that Rochester would have to be offered something.345 Rochester was all too eager to muscle his way in and to do his best to deny all but the most minor places to Whig rivals.346 On 2 Sept. he was appointed to the lord lieutenancy of Cornwall, during the minority of William Henry Granville, 3rd earl of Bath, and a few days later he was nominated to the lord presidency of the council in the place of Somers. On 9 Sept. James Lowther commented that there was to be ‘a most universal change of the ministry as ever was, and all places that can any ways influence elections are putting as fast into the hands of the high party.’347 Three days later Harley noted Rochester as a peer to be provided for. At the close of the month, following pressure from Rochester, Harley also bowed to the appointment of Rochester’s heir, Lord Hyde, as joint vice treasurer of Ireland.348 The result of these awards was that by the beginning of October Harley was able to credit Rochester as a likely supporter of his new ministry.

Rochester’s return to power did not come without opposition. Charles Boyle, 4th earl of Orrery [I] (later Baron Boyle) strove to impress on Harley that it could not be for his (Harley’s) interest ‘to fling more power into my Lord Rochester’s hands than was absolutely necessary’.349 Rochester’s efforts to employ his interest in Cornwall by interposing at the elections for Liskeard also met with some resistance.350 Some professed disbelief at Rochester’s willingness to co-operate with Harley, and by the close of the year there were predictions that, given the tensions between the various parties involved in the new alliance, the ministry could not last long.351 Foreshadowing such prognostications, in mid October, Godolphin reckoned that Harley would find it difficult not to be jealous of Rochester’s influence over the Tories.352 Such expectations no doubt led to reports in early November of alterations in the ministry with Rochester to be promoted lord treasurer and Harley confined to the post of master of the rolls, but these failed to transpire.353

Rochester took his seat in the new Parliament on 25 Nov. 1710, after which he was present on almost 73 per cent of all sitting days. In advance of the session he had been entrusted with the proxy of Thomas Lennard, earl of Sussex, and between 12 and 14 Dec. he also held his son-in-law, Conway’s proxy. In spite of the difficulties he had met with in Cornwall, the elections had served to increase Rochester’s interest in the administration with his party reckoned the strongest grouping in the Commons.354 This gave rise to an expectation that he might even challenge Harley, though Rochester seems no longer to have craved the place of premier minister. His crucial position at the head of a major cohort in Parliament was, however, reflected in the appointment of his follower, Francis Gwyn, known as ‘Lord Rochester Gwyn’, to a place as a commissioner of trade early the following year.355 Towards the close of December Rochester called on John Elphinstone, Lord Balmerinoch [S] to warn him of ‘warm work’ ahead concerning the conduct of the war in Spain.356 On 9 Jan. 1711 he was one of those to participate in the examination of Henri de Massue de Ruvigny, earl of Galway [I] questioning whether the earl had anything more to add to his account, and on 11 Jan. he cautioned his colleague, Peterborough, to restrict himself to the matter before them.357 Rochester held Conway’s proxy again on 14 Feb. (it was vacated the following day). On 3 Mar. Rochester moved that the House should adjourn its discussion of the affair of the Edinburgh magistrates as some of the Scots peers were not present in the House.358 Later that month, on 21 Mar., Rochester was also entrusted with the proxy of Edward Leigh, 3rd Baron Leigh.

Rochester was one of those present in council in March 1711 when the marquis de Guiscard made his attack on Harley. He was also one of those to examine Guiscard in gaol two days later (19 March).359 By this time, in spite of early accounts of the extent of Rochester’s interest in Parliament, it was reported that he had all but lost his influence and was therefore unlikely to challenge Harley at the head of affairs.360 Writing to Harley in mid April, Rochester sought to assure him that ‘no man can more truly congratulate your recovery’. He professed himself to be ‘zealously concerned for you and shall never fail of expressing it.’361

Rochester’s death came as a considerable surprise. On 1 May he was present in the House for the debates over the land grants bill, and the same day he wrote to the secretary of state, William Legge, 2nd Baron (later earl of) Dartmouth, to inform him that there would be no need of a cabinet meeting the next day.362 On 2 May, having attended a meeting at the war office, he returned to his house near the Cockpit and promptly collapsed and died.363 In spite of their uneasy relationship, Rochester’s death was said to have caused the queen considerable grief.364 His older brother having died two years before, Rochester’s death marked the end of a tie with the pre-Revolution court. It was also notable that, having made his career as a hot-headed and intemperate high Tory, in his last few months in office Rochester proved an ameliorating presence in government. Rochester’s heir remarked in a letter to the queen that the improved relations between queen and uncle had been a considerable comfort to his father.365 Rochester’s daughter-in-law, Lady Hyde, on the other hand was said to be ‘not much afflicted’ by his demise.366

Although by the time of his death Rochester was no longer the dominating figure he had once been, his long career both in Parliament and in prominent roles within a variety of administrations made his loss a significant one. His interests had spanned trade and finance as well as support for the church and monarchy. His expertise as a parliamentary man of business is one of his lesser known qualities. So too was his ability to work constructively with men of very different principles. An appreciation of these sets his more choleric tendencies in a somewhat different light.

Rochester was buried on the evening of 10 May at Westminster Abbey. Although Godolphin in a parting spiteful jibe remarked that it would ‘not be a great funeral’, a number of the great officers of state were in attendance.367 Ormond acted as chief mourner and the pall was borne by Shrewsbury, Leeds, Buckingham, Queensberry, Pembroke, Henry Somerset, 2nd duke of Beaufort, John Holles, duke of Newcastle, and Meinhard Schomberg, 3rd duke of Schomberg.368 Among the celebrations of his career that appeared in print were The Life and Glorious Character of the Right Honourable Laurence Hyde, Earl of Rochester and An Essay towards the Life of Laurence Earl of Rochester (1711). The suddenness of Rochester’s death may explain the lack of a will but administration of Rochester’s estate was granted soon after his death. He was succeeded in the title by his only surviving son, Henry, Viscount Hyde, as 2nd earl of Rochester.


  • 1 Bodl. Clarendon 83, f. 156; Essay towards the Life of Laurence, Earl of Rochester, (1711), 41.
  • 2 TNA, PROB 6/8, f. 51v.
  • 3 Eg. 3350, ff. 7-8.
  • 4 CSP Dom. 1684-5, p. 287.
  • 5 Ibid. 1686-7, p. 202.
  • 6 Ibid. 1694-5, p. 204.
  • 7 Add. 22267, ff. 164-71.
  • 8 Add. 75357, C. Croft to Henry Browne, 19 Sept. 1692.
  • 9 Add. 75354, Katherine, Viscountess Ranelagh, to Burlington, n.d.
  • 10 M.F. Yates, ‘The Political Career of Laurence Hyde, Earl of Rochester, as it Illustrates Government Policy and Party Grouping under Charles II and James II’, (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1934), vii; Macky, Concise and Impartial Characters, (1742), 30; G. Tapsell, ‘Life and Career of Laurence Hyde, Earl of Rochester, c.1681-c.1686’, (Cambridge Univ. M.Phil. 1999), 8-9.
  • 11 Cowper, Diary, 15-16.
  • 12 K. Feiling, Tory Party, 1640-1714, p. 191.
  • 13 Tapsell, ‘Life and Career of Laurence Hyde, Earl of Rochester’, 7.
  • 14 Scot. Hist. Soc. Misc. xii. 125.
  • 15 Verney ms mic. M636/20, Dr W. Denton to Sir R. Verney, 24 July 1665.
  • 16 Add. 36916, f. 56; Bodl. Tanner 45, f. 241; Carte 220, ff. 326-8; Verney ms mic. M636/22, M. Elmes to Sir R. Verney, 7 Feb. 1668.
  • 17 Bodl. Carte 36, f. 149.
  • 18 Verney ms mic. M636/22, Sir R. to E. Verney, 7 Jan. 1669, M636/26, Dr W. Denton to Sir R Verney, 25 Aug. 1673, M636/29, J. to Sir R. Verney, 13 Apr. 1676; Add. 15892, f. 65.
  • 19 CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 103; Verney ms mic. M636/31, W. Fall to Sir R. Verney, 22 July 1678; M636/33, Dr W. Denton to Sir R. Verney, 17 Nov. 1679; M636/33, J. to Sir R. Verney, 20 Nov. 1679; Bodl. Carte 232, f. 61.
  • 20 Verney ms mic. M636/33, C. Gardiner to Sir R. Verney, 20 Nov. 1679; J. to Sir R. Verney, 27 Nov. 1679.
  • 21 Add. 75356, York to Burlington (copy), 17 Apr. 1665.
  • 22 Yates, ‘Rochester’, 55-56.
  • 23 Verney ms mic. M636/29, J. to Sir R. Verney, 20 Apr. 1676.
  • 24 HMC Ormond, v. 561.
  • 25 Bodl. Carte 243, f. 473; HP Commons 1660-90, ii. 630; Halifax Letters, i. 273; Knights, Pols. and Opinion, 71, 92.
  • 26 Bodl. Carte 222, f. 290.
  • 27 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. ii. 275, 284.
  • 28 HMC Le Fleming, 176; HMC Ormond, vi. 48, 51.
  • 29 HMC Ormond, vi. 63.
  • 30 JRL, Legh of Lyme mss, Hyde to ?R. Legh, 7 July 1681; G. Tapsell, Personal Rule of Charles II, 1681-5, p. 37.
  • 31 Yates, ‘Rochester’, 261; Castle Ashby ms 1092, newsletter to Northampton, 4 Aug. 1681.
  • 32 Castle Ashby ms 1092, newsletter to Northampton, 4 Aug. 1681; Verney ms mic. M636/35, Dr W. Denton to Sir R. Verney, 24 Aug. 1681; Bodl. Tanner 282, f. 81.
  • 33 HMC Ormond, vi. 144; Castle Ashby ms 1092, newsletter to Northampton, 8 Sept. 1681.
  • 34 Castle Ashby ms 1092, newsletter to Northampton, 22 Sept. 1681; Halifax Letters, i. 303-4, 315-17.
  • 35 HMC Dartmouth, i. 67-68.
  • 36 Castle Ashby ms 1092, newsletter to Northampton, 8 Sept. 1681.
  • 37 HMC Ormond, vi. 224, 276; Chatsworth muns. 31.0, Charlton to Lord Russell, 12 Oct. 1681.
  • 38 HMC Ormond, vi. 225-6, 263.
  • 39 NAS, GD 406/1/3127, 3128, 3130.
  • 40 Bodl. Carte 232, ff. 101-2.
  • 41 Clarendon Corresp. i. 67.
  • 42 Verney ms mic. M636/36, Dr W. Denton to Sir R. Verney, 24 July 1682.
  • 43 Clarendon Corresp. i. 74-75.
  • 44 HMC Ormond, vi. 414.
  • 45 Verney ms mic. M636/37, Dr W. Denton to Sir R. Verney, 31 July 1682.
  • 46 Bodl. Carte 70, ff. 558, 559-60, Carte 219, f. 396.
  • 47 Add. 28053, ff. 291-2; Halifax Letters, i. 357n.
  • 48 Verney ms mic. M636/37, J. to Sir R. Verney, 16 Nov. 1682.
  • 49 Ibid. Dr W. Denton to Sir R. Verney, 27 Nov. 1682; newsletter, 30 Nov. 1682.
  • 50 Add. 75375, ff. 20-21.
  • 51 Bodl. Carte 219, f. 417.
  • 52 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 1, box 1, folder 27, Jenkins to Poley, 19 Jan. 1683.
  • 53 Ibid. Blathwayt to Poley, 23 Jan. 1683; Add. 72482, f. 15; Add. 75361, earl of Strafford to Halifax, 7 Feb. 1683; Halifax Letters, i. 380; Royal Stuart Papers, xliv. 3-4.
  • 54 Add. 75363, Weymouth to Halifax, 31 Jan. 1683.
  • 55 Halifax Letters, i. 380-1, 385.
  • 56 CSP Dom. Jan. to June 1683, p. 126; Verney ms mic. M636/37, J. to Sir R. Verney, 29 Mar. 1683; J. Stewkeley to Sir R Verney, 23 Apr. 1683.
  • 57 Add. 18730, f. 105.
  • 58 Add. 61605, ff. 153-4.
  • 59 Add. 27448, ff. 247-8.
  • 60 HMC Dartmouth, i. 98; Clarendon Corresp. i. 90-91.
  • 61 Add. 75376, ff. 57-58.
  • 62 Reresby Mems. 323-4.
  • 63 Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 295; G. Tapsell, Personal Rule, 107.
  • 64 Bodl. Tanner 33, f. 243; Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 303; Verney ms mic. M636/38, Dr W. Denton to Sir R. Verney, 3 Apr. 1684.
  • 65 NAS, GD 406/1/3249.
  • 66 Bodl. Tanner 32, f. 37.
  • 67 Clarendon Corresp. i. 93-94.
  • 68 Add. 75376, ff. 58-59.
  • 69 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 1, Box 1, folder 54, Godolphin to Poley, 24 Aug. 1684; NAS, GD 406/1/3296, GD 406/1/8874; Verney ms mic. M636/39, Lady P. Osborne to Sir R. Verney, 27 Aug. 1684; Clarendon Corresp. i. 94-5; Royal Stuart Papers, xliv. 7.
  • 70 NAS, GD 406/1/3294.
  • 71 HMC Ormond, vii. 266.
  • 72 Bodl. Carte 118, ff. 400, 401.
  • 73 Bodl. Carte 217, ff. 61-62.
  • 74 Clarendon Corresp. i. 97-98; Bodl. Carte 118, f. 402; Carte 220, ff. 89-90.
  • 75 Bodl. Carte 118, ff. 402-3, 406; Carte 217, f. 49; Bodl. ms Eng. lett. c. 53, ff. 125, 128; Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 1, Box 1, folder 56, Yard to Poley, 7 Nov. 1684.
  • 76 Bodl. Carte 217, f. 63; Carte 118, ff. 404-5, 407; Carte 130, f. 289; Carte 220, ff. 108, 114, 118; Carte 217, f. 79.
  • 77 HMC Downshire, i. 35.
  • 78 Clarendon Corresp. i. 106-7; HMC Egmont, ii. 149-50.
  • 79 NAS, GD 406/1/3301; Royal Stuart Papers, xliv. 7.
  • 80 HMC Portland, iii. 383; Verney ms mic. M636/39, Sir R. to J. Verney, 12 Feb. 1685.
  • 81 Evelyn Diary, iv. 416-17; TNA, PRO 30/53/8/9; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, ii. 512.
  • 82 Add. 29582, f. 215.
  • 83 CSP Dom. 1685, pp. 122-3; HP Commons 1660-90, ii. 722.
  • 84 Verney ms mic. M636/39, J/ to Sir R. Verney, 2 Apr. 1685.
  • 85 Bodl. ms Eng. hist. c. 46, ff. 37-46.
  • 86 Bodl. Carte 40, f. 424; Verney ms mic. M636/40, C. Gardiner to Sir R. Verney, 24 July 1685.
  • 87 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss fc 122, Rochester to Lady Ossory, 30 July 1685.
  • 88 Ibid. Rochester to Ossory, 31 July 1685.
  • 89 Add. 61414, ff. 31, 51.
  • 90 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iii. 34.
  • 91 HMC Ormond, vii. 405.
  • 92 NAS, GD 406/1/6145, 9219.
  • 93 Add. 72481, ff. 108-9.
  • 94 Knights, Pols. and Opinion, 66.
  • 95 Miller, James II, 151; HMC Portland, iii. 395; HMC Rutland, ii. 106; HMC Downshire, i. 130.
  • 96 Verney ms mic. M636/40, C. Gardiner to Sir R. Verney, 31 Mar. 1686.
  • 97 Savile Corresp. 290; HMC Rutland, ii. 109; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iii. 154.
  • 98 Verney ms mic. M636/41, E. to Sir R. Verney, 7 July 1686.
  • 99 NLW, Trevor Owen, 47, 49; CSP Dom. 1686-7, pp. 202, 209; Bodl. Tanner 460, f. 22; Tanner 30, f. 73; Verney ms mic. M636/41, E. to Sir R. Verney, 19 July 1686; Add. 72516, f. 35.
  • 100 Bodl. Rawl. D 365, f. 1.
  • 101 Bodl. Tanner 30, f. 83; Verney ms mic. M636/41, C. Gardiner to Sir R. Verney, 11 Aug. 1686; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iii. 246-8.
  • 102 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iii. 273; NLS, ms 7010, f. 150; Verney ms mic. M636/41, anon. to Sir R. Verney, 14 Oct. 1686.
  • 103 Verney ms mic. M636/41, J. Stewkeley to Sir R. Verney, 20 Oct. 1686.
  • 104 Ibid. C. Gardiner to Sir R. Verney, 17 Nov. 1686; Tapsell, ‘Life and Career of Laurence Hyde, Earl of Rochester’, 45.
  • 105 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iii. 294.
  • 106 Verney ms mic. M636/41, anon. to Sir R. Verney, 14 Dec. 1686.
  • 107 EHR, cxxv. 517, pp. 1433-37; Add. 15894, ff. 361-3, 408.
  • 108 HMC Rutland, ii. 111.
  • 109 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iii. 331-2.
  • 110 Glasgow Univ. Lib. ms Hunter 73, xvii. Col. Werden to Clarendon, 6 Jan. 1687.
  • 111 CSP Dom. 1686-7, p. 334; Essay towards the Life of Laurence Earl of Rochester, (1711), 18.
  • 112 Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 42, f. 95; Add. 34510, f. 11; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iii. 341.
  • 113 HMC Dartmouth, i. 131.
  • 114 Verney ms mic. M636/41, J. to Sir R. Verney, 13 Apr. 1687.
  • 115 Bodl. Firth c. 13, f. 15.
  • 116 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iv. 493.
  • 117 HMC Buccleuch, ii. 31.
  • 118 UNL, PwA 2103; Add. 34515, f. 34; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iv. 177-8.
  • 119 Clarendon Corresp. ii. 167, 169.
  • 120 Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 43, f. 136.
  • 121 Bodl. Rawl. Letters 98, f. 215.
  • 122 EHR, cxxv. (517), 1440.
  • 123 HMC Portland, iii. 417.
  • 124 Publick Occurrences Truly Stated, 28 Sept. 1688.
  • 125 Clarendon Corresp. ii. 200.
  • 126 Bodl. Tanner 28, f. 226.
  • 127 Add. 34510, f. 161.
  • 128 To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, The Humble Petition of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal … Presented … the 17th of November.
  • 129 Bodl. Carte 198, f. 17.
  • 130 Kingdom without a King, 25; Halifax Letters, ii. 15.
  • 131 Verney ms mic. M636/43, J. to Sir R. Verney, 29 Nov. 1688.
  • 132 HMC Kenyon, 209-10; Verney ms mic. M636/43, C. Gardiner to Sir R. Verney, 5 Dec. 1688.
  • 133 Kingdom without a King, 36, 38, 69, 70-72, 74, 92-94.
  • 134 Ibid. 98, 101-3, 105, 109-10; Clarendon Corresp. ii. 225, 226-7.
  • 135 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iv. 401.
  • 136 Kingdom without a King, 124, 151.
  • 137 Bodl. ms Eng. hist. d. 307, ff. 12-13.
  • 138 Clarendon Corresp. ii. 233.
  • 139 Kingdom without a King, 158-60, 165-7.
  • 140 HMC Dartmouth, iii. 140-1.
  • 141 Ibid. 142-3.
  • 142 Clarendon Corresp. ii. 256n.
  • 143 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iv. 507-8.
  • 144 CJ, x. 20.
  • 145 Clarendon Corresp. ii. 263-4.
  • 146 Ibid. 267-8, 273-4.
  • 147 Bodl. Ballard 48, f. 78.
  • 148 Clarendon Corresp. ii. 276, 278.
  • 149 Ibid. ii. 280.
  • 150 NLW, Trevor Owen, 168; HP Commons 1660-90, ii. 630.
  • 151 Clarendon Corresp. ii. 284, 288, 290.
  • 152 Ibid. 291-2, 293, 295.
  • 153 Ibid. 296.
  • 154 Ibid. 299, 302, 303.
  • 155 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, v. 399-400.
  • 156 HP Commons 1690-1715, iv. 135.
  • 157 Glasgow Univ. Lib. ms Hunter 73, lviii. Rochester to Clarendon, 15 Apr. 1690.
  • 158 Verney ms mic. M636/44, Dr W. Denton to Sir R. Verney, 6 May 1690.
  • 159 Clarendon Corresp. ii. 314.
  • 160 Ibid. 315, 318, 319-20.
  • 161 NLW, Kemeys-Tynte, C182.
  • 162 Clarendon Corresp. ii. 322-4.
  • 163 Ibid. 325, 328; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, v. 502.
  • 164 TNA, PC 2/74.
  • 165 Verney ms mic. M636/44, J. to Sir R. Verney, 5 Nov. 1690; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, v. 542; Add. 70270, R. Harley to his wife, 30 Dec. 1690.
  • 166 WSHC, Ailesbury mss 1300/783, 784, 785, 787.
  • 167 Add. 70014, f. 393.
  • 168 Clarendon Corresp. ii. 330-2.
  • 169 Add. 70015, f. 57.
  • 170 Add. 72516, ff. 132-3; Add. 70015, f. 96.
  • 171 HMC Finch, iii. 114.
  • 172 Add. 70081, newsletter, 14 Nov. 1691.
  • 173 HMC Finch, iii. 136; Bodl. Carte 79, f. 378.
  • 174 HMC Downshire, i. 380-1, 390.
  • 175 Verney ms mic. M636/45, C. Gardiner to Sir R. Verney, 11 Nov. 1691.
  • 176 Halifax Letters, ii. 147; HMC 7th Rep. 209b; Lancs. RO, DDK 1615/9.
  • 177 Add. 70119, R. to E. Harley, 4 Feb. 1692; Horwitz, Parl. Pol. 73.
  • 178 LJ, xv. 25.
  • 179 Add. 70119, R. to E. Harley, 2 Feb. 1692.
  • 180 Mems. of Mary, Queen of England, 46.
  • 181 Add. 70119, R. to Sir E. Harley, 6 Feb. 1692.
  • 182 Add. 61414, ff. 153, 171-2, 176; Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 1, Box 2, folder 98, R. Warr[e], to Poley, 16 Feb. 1692.
  • 183 Add. 61414, ff. 169-70, 171-2.
  • 184 Verney ms mic. M636/45, J. to Sir R. Verney, 1 June 1692.
  • 185 LPL, ms 4696, ff. 6-7.
  • 186 Add. 61415, f. 11; Verney ms mic. M636/46, J. to Sir R. Verney, 3 Aug. 1692.
  • 187 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 82.
  • 188 Verney ms mic. M636/46, J. to Sir R. Verney, 2 Feb. 1693; Add. 70081, newsletter, 4 Feb. 1693; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 30; State Trials, xii. 1048-9.
  • 189 TNA, SP 105/59, ff. 4-5.
  • 190 Add. 72490, f. 14.
  • 191 Add. 75353, Weymouth to Halifax, 2 July 1693.
  • 192 HEHL, HM 30659 (31).
  • 193 Verney ms mic. M636/47, A. Nicholas to J. Verney, 27 Aug. 1693; Add. 75375, f. 14.
  • 194 Add. 17677 NN, ff. 282-4; Add. 70119, R. to Sir E. Harley, 19 Oct. 1693; Bodl. ms Eng. lett. c. 8, f. 23.
  • 195 HMC Hastings, ii. 232-3.
  • 196 Add. 17677 OO, ff. 191-3.
  • 197 Halifax Letters, ii. 175.
  • 198 Add. 17677 OO, ff. 247-50; HMC Portland, iii. 552.
  • 199 HMC Kenyon, 276; HMC Finch, v. 183-5.
  • 200 Lexington Pprs. 35.
  • 201 Horwitz, 145.
  • 202 Add. 46527, f. 48; Add. 17677 PP, ff. 136-40.
  • 203 Add. 29565, f. 518.
  • 204 Ibid. f. 417.
  • 205 HP Commons 1690-1715, iii. 291-3.
  • 206 Add. 75376, f. 79; Surr. Hist. Cent. 371/14/F5.
  • 207 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 699-700.
  • 208 HMC Hastings, iv. 310-14.
  • 209 Ibid. 318-19.
  • 210 WSHC, Ailesbury mss 1300/791.
  • 211 HEHL, HM 30659 (55).
  • 212 HMC Hastings, ii. 259; Add. 17677 QQ, ff. 297-9; HEHL, HM 30659 (65).
  • 213 HMC Buccleuch, ii. 427.
  • 214 WSHC, 2667/25/7; Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, i. 133.
  • 215 Staffs. RO, Persehowse pprs., D260/M/F/1/6, ff. 96-98.
  • 216 Bodl. Carte 109, ff. 69-70; Add. 47608 pt. 5, f. 138.
  • 217 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, i. 164-6.
  • 218 HMC Buccleuch, ii. 441; HEHL, Stowe (Chandos) ms 26, vol. 1, p. 2.
  • 219 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, i. 168-76.
  • 220 HMC Buccleuch, ii. 443.
  • 221 Horwitz, 223.
  • 222 Northants. RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss I (46), no. 156.
  • 223 Add. 61653, ff. 26-27.
  • 224 Add. 75376, f. 81.
  • 225 Northants. RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss vol. 1 (46), no. 84.
  • 226 Add. 61653, ff. 71-74, 82-83.
  • 227 LJ, xvi. 320-1.
  • 228 HMC Buccleuch, ii. 614, 616.
  • 229 Eg. 929, f. 18.
  • 230 Horwitz, 247; Add. 75370, J. Granville to Halifax, 15 Oct. 1698.
  • 231 Add. 75368, Nottingham to Halifax, 3 Nov. 1698.
  • 232 Bodl. Carte 228, f. 259.
  • 233 Suff. RO (Ipswich), Gurdon mic. M142(1), vol. II, p. 31.
  • 234 Northants. RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss II (47), no. 205; Levens Hall, Bagot mss, Weymouth to J. Grahme, 16 July 1699.
  • 235 HMC Johnstone, 110; Annandale Family Book, Johnstone to Annandale, 15 Aug. 1699.
  • 236 Bodl. Carte 228, f. 325.
  • 237 S.B. Baxter, Development of the Treasury, 182; Horwitz, 260.
  • 238 HR, lxviii. 310-314.
  • 239 HMC Buccleuch, ii. 639-40, 642.
  • 240 Leics. RO, DG 7 Box 4950, bdle. 22.
  • 241 Add. 72517, ff. 55-56.
  • 242 Add. 70243, Rochester to Harley, 9 July 1700; Levens Hall, Bagot mss, Weymouth to J. Grahme, 21 July 1700.
  • 243 HMC Portland, iii. 627.
  • 244 Add. 28052, f. 100; Add. 72509, ff. 47-48.
  • 245 Add. 72498, f. 38.
  • 246 HEHL, HM 30659 (79).
  • 247 Bodl. Ballard 6, f. 27; Carte 228, ff. 335-6; NAS, GD406/1/4667; Glos. Archives, D3549/6/1/B38; Flying Post or the Post Master, 26 Dec. 1700.
  • 248 Bodl. Carte 228, f. 351.
  • 249 Gregg, Queen Anne, 98.
  • 250 NAS, GD406/1/4809.
  • 251 HMC Lords, n.s. iv. 188-205, 190, 212-14; LJ, xvi. 665-6, 670-1, 741-3.
  • 252 LJ, xvi. 718-19, 730-1, 735, 754-5; PA, HL/PO/JO/5/1, 17 June 1701.
  • 253 English Post, 18-21 July 1701.
  • 254 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 2, Box 10, folder 208, Yard to Blathwayt, 1 and 5 Aug. 1701; Post Boy, 14-16 Aug. 1701; Verney ms mic. M636/51, C. Gardiner to Sir J. Verney, 16 Aug. 1701.
  • 255 Add. 61119, f. 1; Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 2, Box 10, folder 209, Yard to Blathwayt, 12 Sept. 1701; Flying Post, 11-13 Sept. 1701.
  • 256 Add. 40775, f. 152.
  • 257 Add. 61363, f. 32; Add. 70075, newsletter, 4 Dec. 1701; KSRL, Methuen-Simpson corresp. ms 82, no. III; ms E82, No. 4; Add. 70075, newsletter, [13], Dec. 1701.
  • 258 Add. 70073-4, newsletters, 10 and 13 Jan. 1702.
  • 259 Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 44, f. 158; Add. 70073-4, newsletters, 15, 24 and 27 Jan. 1702; HP Commons 1690-1715, iv. 139.
  • 260 Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 19 Mar. 1702; HMC Rutland, ii. 169.
  • 261 Verney ms mic. M636/51, E. Adams to Sir J. Verney, 28 Mar. 1702; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 154.
  • 262 Verney ms mic. M636/51, C. Gardiner to Sir J. Verney, 26 Mar. 1702.
  • 263 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 163; Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 23 Apr., 12 and 14 May 1702; Surr. RO, Midleton mss (Ref. 1248), vol. II (1701-9), ff. 63-64.
  • 264 Add. 70020, ff. 184-5.
  • 265 Gregg, 159.
  • 266 Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 28 May 1702.
  • 267 Add. 61363, f. 36.
  • 268 NAS, GD406/1/4867.
  • 269 Add. 70073-4, newsletters, 16 July and 20 Aug. 1702.
  • 270 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss fc 122, Rochester to ?Blathwayt, 5 Sept. 1702; Add. 29588, ff. 253, 281, 292, 300.
  • 271 Add. 29588, f. 300.
  • 272 Ibid. f. 328; Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 17 Oct. 1702.
  • 273 Nicolson, London Diaries, 141, 161, 163, 165-6, 183.
  • 274 Ibid. 153.
  • 275 Add. 61474, ff. 65-68.
  • 276 Add. 70075, newsletters, 6, 11, 13 Feb. 1703.
  • 277 Nicolson, London Diaries, 204-5.
  • 278 Northants. RO, IC 2198.
  • 279 Pols. in Age of Anne, 73.
  • 280 TNA, C6/338/27.
  • 281 Add. 61416, ff. 141-2.
  • 282 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 1, Box 3, folder 135.
  • 283 Add. 70021, ff. 66, 68.
  • 284 Methuen-Simpson corresp. ms C163, Methuen to Simpson, 4 Jan. 1704.
  • 285 Ibid. 18 Jan. 1704.
  • 286 Bodl. Ballard 6, ff. 93-94.
  • 287 Add. 61363, f. 113.
  • 288 Bodl. Rawl. Letters 37, f. 16.
  • 289 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. i. 391-3.
  • 290 Eg. 3359, ff. 45-46.
  • 291 Nicolson, London Diaries, 221.
  • 292 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 490; Nicolson, London Diaries, 233-4.
  • 293 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 406.
  • 294 Nicolson, London Diaries, 238.
  • 295 Add. 61458, ff. 37-38.
  • 296 Nicolson, London Diaries, 246, 249.
  • 297 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 278-9; Nicolson, London Diaries, 253-4, 256.
  • 298 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 612.
  • 299 Stowe 224, ff. 330-1.
  • 300 Add. 61124, f. 21; LPL, ms 930, no. 222.
  • 301 Nicolson, London Diaries, 298, 302.
  • 302 Add. 61124, f. 100; Nicolson, London Diaries, 303-4.
  • 303 Nicolson, London Diaries, 311-12.
  • 304 Ibid. 314-15.
  • 305 Methuen-Simpson corresp. ms C163, Methuen to Simpson, 4 Dec. 1705.
  • 306 Add. 75379, pp. 14-23; Nicolson, London Diaries, 320.
  • 307 Methuen-Simpson corresp. ms C163, Methuen to Simpson, 11 Dec. 1705; Sainty, Admiralty Officials, 32; HP Commons 1690-1715, iii. 1011.
  • 308 Verney ms mic. M636/53, C. Stewkeley to Fermanagh, 11 Dec. 1705.
  • 309 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 2; Nicolson, London Diaries, 334, 338, 356.
  • 310 Nicolson, London Diaries, 353.
  • 311 Ibid. 382, 383.
  • 312 Methuen-Simpson corresp. ms C163, Methuen to Simpson, 12 Mar. 1706.
  • 313 Add. 61364, f. 135; Add. 61385, f. 117.
  • 314 Add. 70243, Rochester to Harley, 16 Sept. 1706.
  • 315 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 127; Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 163, Box 1, Biscoe to Maunsell, 18 Jan. 1707; Nicolson, London Diaries, 418.
  • 316 Add. 75375, f. 23.
  • 317 NAS, GD18/3134; Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 787-8; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 174.
  • 318 Add. 61454, ff. 138-9.
  • 319 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 866-7.
  • 320 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 236; NLW, Plas-yn-Cefn, 2740.
  • 321 Add. 72490, ff. 92-93.
  • 322 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss fc 37, vol. 13, no. xix. Addison to Manchester, 16 Jan. and 7 Feb. 1708.
  • 323 Nicolson, London Diaries, 449, 453.
  • 324 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss fc 37, vol. 13, no. xxii. Addison to Manchester, 13 Feb. 1708.
  • 325 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss fc 37, vol. 13, no. xxxiii. Addison to Manchester, 27 Feb. 1708.
  • 326 TNA, PRO 30/24/21/148b.
  • 327 Add. 61443, ff. 20-21.
  • 328 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1073-4.
  • 329 Ibid. 1172.
  • 330 Add. 72488, ff. 38-39.
  • 331 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 395.
  • 332 Add. 72482, ff. 100-1.
  • 333 Add. 72488, ff. 47-48, 49-50, 52-53.
  • 334 Add. 70243, Rochester to Harley, 18 Nov. 1709.
  • 335 Bodl. Rawl. Letters 38, ff. 71, 72.
  • 336 Add. 61460, f. 128.
  • 337 Add. 72491, ff. 2-3; HMC Downshire, i. 887; Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 46, ff. 213-14.
  • 338 NAS, GD124/15/975/1; Add. 72494, ff. 157-8.
  • 339 HMC Portland, iv. 534-5.
  • 340 Add. 72495, ff. 4-5.
  • 341 Ad. 61461, ff. 39-42; Add. 61418, ff. 124-8.
  • 342 Holmes, ‘Great Ministry’, 47.
  • 343 Add. 72491, ff. 9-10; Add. 70250, G. Neville to Harley, 1 Aug. 1710.
  • 344 Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 47, ff. 19-20.
  • 345 Wentworth Pprs. 135-7; Leics. RO, DG 7, Box 4950, bdle. 23, letter E22.
  • 346 Holmes, 57.
  • 347 Cumbria RO, D/Lons/W2/1/43.
  • 348 Add. 70333, Harley memorandum, 12 Sept. 1710; Add. 70243, Rochester to Harley, 28 Sept. 1710.
  • 349 HMC Portland, iv. 603-4.
  • 350 Ibid. 607; Add. 70204, A. Pendarves to Harley, 7 Oct. 1710.
  • 351 Haddington mss, Mellerstain letters iv. 3 Dec. 1710.
  • 352 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1647-8.
  • 353 Wentworth Pprs. 154.
  • 354 Add. 61441, f. 104.
  • 355 HP Commons 1690-1715, iv. 141; Holmes, 50, 91-92.
  • 356 Nicolson, London Diaries, 525.
  • 357 Timberland, ii. 292, 313.
  • 358 NLS, Wodrow pprs. Wod. Lett. Qu. V, ff. 153-4.
  • 359 Ibid. f. 160; Add. 72495, ff. 57-58; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 703.
  • 360 NLS, Wodrow pprs. Wod. Lett. Qu. V, f. 176.
  • 361 Add. 70027, f. 105.
  • 362 Scot. Hist. Soc. Misc. xii. 11.
  • 363 Add. 61158, f. 182; Add. 72500, f. 57.
  • 364 Add. 70027, ff. 160-3.
  • 365 Add. 75375, ff. 23-24.
  • 366 Add. 61440, f. 1.
  • 367 Ibid. f. 2.
  • 368 Worcs. RO, Hampton (Pakington) mss, 705:349/4739/1(i)/55.