Lives of the fellows

Henry Pierrepoint (Marquis of) Dorchester

b.March 1606 d.8 December 1680

The Marquis of Dorchester - The following account of this distinguished nobleman, and liberal benefactor of our College, I copy verbatim from a MS of Dr Goodall's [Charles Goodall 'A collection of College Affairs...' MS. 2189, pp.228-236], in the College library.

"Henry, lord marquis of Dorchester, earl of Kingston-upon-Hull, and viscount Newark, was born at Maunsfield, in the county of Nottingham, in the month of March, 1606. His father was Robert Pierrepoint, of Holme Pierrepoint, esquire, the ancient seat of that most ancient family, who was created viscount Newark and earl of Kingston by King Charles I anno 1633. His mother was Gertrude Talbot, of the noble house of Shrewsbury; and had she been male, had borne herself that title. From his youth he was always much addicted to books; and when he came from Cambridge, where he was some time of Emanuel college, for many years he seldom studied less than ten or twelve hours every day; so that he had early passed through all manner of learning, both divine and human, - as the fathers, councils, schoolmen, casuists, the civil law, canon law, and was remarkably well-versed in common law. He had read the whole body of philosophy, mathematics, and physics, which last two sciences took up many of his latter years.

About the year 1656, after he had for some years, with great application, studied physic and anatomy, he was desired by the great Dr Harvey and some others of that learned body, to honour the College of Physicians by being a Member thereof, which he readily embraced, and made a Latin oration to them in the hall of their College, in praise of that noble study, and that many princes and great men had highly esteemed and made profession of it - that for his part he took it for the greatest honour, next to that conferred upon him by his late Majesty, to be ranked among them, - which esteem he continued for that learned body to his last end; for he has often been heard to say that he did believe them to be the learnedest of any in the world of their profession; and, as a testimony of his value for them, he left them perhaps the best library for physics, mathematics, civil law, and philology in any private hand in this nation, for a choice collection of books, to the value of above 4,000l which he would have given them the possession of in his lifetime, and so declared to some of the members of that body, if they had then had a place fit for the orderly disposing of them. He was earnestly solicited to bestow them upon a college in Oxford, but he considered that university was sufficiently stored with books of all kinds, and that this learned society had lost their library in the dreadful fire of London, and therefore he fixed his resolution unalterably here.

“He was all along most faithful to the Crown, and in the beginning of the unhappy differences he made divers speeches in defence of the bishops in the Lords' house (where he sat as viscount Newark, being called by the king's especial writ), showing the antiquity and veneration of that order, and that it had been constantly maintained in the Christian church ever since the Apostles' time. In his late Majesty's time he was made a privy councillor at Oxford, and in the year 1645 was created marquis of Dorchester. In the year 1646, when the rebels were marching to besiege that garrison, being the head-quarters and constant residence of his late Majesty, it was debated in council how his Majesty should dispose of himself for his security; and after divers other opinions of the council, some for his Majesty's going to one place, and some to another, this great and wise lord gave his advice to this effect: 'Sire, I will not advise your Majesty to any place; you know best where you may with safety trust your sacred person; but this, Sire, I do advise and beseech, that wheresoever you dispose of yourself you keep yourself at liberty and free from restraint, for so long you will never want friends that will continue loyal unto you; but if you once lose your liberty you will be in danger of losing your life, for a king once made a prisoner is civilly dead.'

Within a few days after this, in April, his Majesty left the city and retired to the Scottish army, then before Newark; and on the last day of this month (which was not above a week after his Majesty was withdrawn), the rebel army drew round about it, and closely besieged the garrison; when, after about a month's time, it was considered by the council what was to be done, his Majesty having written to them and left the consideration of that weighty affair wholly to them, with this intimation, that he would not have them, nor the soldiers and his loyal subjects of that garrison, run any unnecessary hazards in withstanding the enemy, when there was no hopes of relief. Then did this lord declare his opinion, that he was for holding that place out to the last man. This, being publicly known, got him a wonderful reputation amongst all the officers and soldiers of the garrison, and the then governor, the brave Sir Thomas Glenham, told him, that if the rest of the council had been of that opinion, he would not have suffered the rebels to have thrown up a shovelful of earth within cannon-shot of the town; but he was under the direction of his Majesty's council, and there was but one more who concurred in opinion with this noble lord - they saw all else was lost, and thought it in vain to run any future hazards, but surrendered upon articles the Midsummer following, 1646.

“From Oxford he went into Nottinghamshire, to take possession of a noble inheritance left him by his father, the earl of Kingston (slain in the year 1643, in his Majesty's service near Gainsborough), the greatest part whereof had been in the enemy's possession from his father's death until the surrender of Oxford, the articles thereof admitting all persons of that garrison to compound for their estates within six months next following; and, accordingly, at the utmost point of time limited, he made his composition, which was set at 10,000l. This being done, which took him not above twelve or fourteen days in London, he returned again into Nottinghamshire, where he continued constantly at Worksop Manor, a noble seat of the now duke of Norfolk, then lent to him by the most noble earl of Arundel, his great and most intimate friend and relation (two of his own seats having been ruined by the rebels), where he constantly remained following his studies till near about Michaelmas, 1648, when, some occasions drawing him to town, he had not been there above a month when a rumour was spread of bringing his sacred Majesty up from Windsor to his trial.

Upon this juncture, his grace the then duke of Richmond came to make him a visit, and to understand what the marquis's opinion was of that proceeding, first telling him it was most certain they would bring his Majesty to a formal trial. His answer was this: 'Sir, I dread the consequences of this proceeding; these men durst not go so far but with intent to go further. You have heard, sir, of the saying of Alexander Farnese, prince of Parma, relating to the duke of Guise and the League in France, that whoever draws his sword against his prince, must throw away the scabbard; and if they bring our master to his trial they will condemn him; and if they condemn him, they will murder him.' The duke of Richmond was strangely surprised at this opinion, and said it was not possible they could proceed to that degree of cruelty, but that they would only show their power what they could do, thereby to drive on some designs they then had, and for the obtaining of these ends.

Whereupon the marquis replied, 'I beseech your grace remember my humble duty to his Majesty; I will heartily pray for him, which is all the service I can now do for him, for I much fear I shall never see him again; I will presently get me out of town, and will not be here in that fatal time.' Which accordingly he did within a few days retire into the country, where the next news he heard was the trial, sentence, and martyrdom of his sacred Majesty; which, though he received with horror and amazement inexpressible, yet he said, 'I much feared they would bring it to this. They have gone beyond all example, and it is a barbarism not to be paralleled in any history of the world; for subjects to bring their prince to a formal trial, to condemn him, and cut off his head before his own palace at noonday, and in the face of the sun, was never yet done in the Christian world.' Upon occasion of which he would often reflect upon that inhospitable act of queen Elizabeth towards Mary, queen of Scots, which he would usually say sullied all the glory of her reign; and that this horrid manner of proceeding was copied from that - as well as the rebellion in England from that in Scotland - but in all circumstances it far outwent the original; 'for,' said he, 'they would never have dared to have washed their hands in the blood of their king, if the like had not been done before in the blood of that sovereign princess.'

After this fatal catastrophe, he found there would be no living for him in this country; for whilst his Majesty was alive, there was some respect had towards the nobility; but now every mechanic thought himself as good as the greatest peer. This caused him to remove to London in November, 1649; when, very shortly after, he found himself in an ill habit of body, caused, as he conceived, by a long sedentary course of life, and trouble of mind for what had so lately happened, and the condition the nation was in. This distemper, at the age of forty-three, put him upon the study of physic, as soon as he was recovered thereof by the learned Dr Harvey, Sir Francis Prujean, Sir Charles Scarborough, and others, who in a short time brought him to a good state of health again; after which he was as curious to preserve it, abating the violent inclination to his books, continuing healthful ever after until the time of his death. Though he fell to this study late, yet no man ever began upon a better foundation; for, as I have said, he had gone through the whole body of all other learning, and was a very great philosopher; but now that he was fallen to the study of physick he pursued it with the greatest application.

“In September, 1652, he married the lady Katherine Stanley, second daughter of the noble and most loyal William, earl of Derby, who, the year before, was beheaded at Bolton, in Lancashire, for his constancy in performing his duty to his late Majesty all along in the first rebellion, and to his present Majesty at Worcester, near unto which place he was taken prisoner; and though all endeavours were used by his lady and children for the saving of his life, yet nothing would atone for the loyalty but his head. This alliance of the marquis with a family so great in all respects, rendered him still more obnoxious to the usurping power, who now bore hard upon him, insomuch as, on the breaking up of the Long Parliament shortly after, and the coming out of the instrument of government at that time, they took notice therein of malignant families (for so they were pleased to term them) matching into one another, which dart was directly thrown at the marquis; but he was full of apprehensions from that party, and he demeaned himself so that they could lay no hold on him. Some time before this there was an order of the usurping power, that all letters patent for creating any nobleman after his Majesty left London should be brought into the Chancery, there to be cancelled, unless the parties came in and made oath before a master by such a day, that they could not come to them, and knew not where they were. This put him to a great plunge; for, to part with that mark of honour his Majesty had been so graciously pleased to bestow upon him, he resolved never to do; and the other he could not do. So in this dilemma he found this expedient. There was one of the masters at that time he had some knowledge of, and told him he knew not where his patent was, but was not willing to make oath, it not being the custom for men of honour to swear in Chancery, but only to deliver things upon their honour: and desired him to certify, as though he had sworn, for which he would give him a good gratuity. The master made very shy of it; he could not possibly do it; he was upon his oath, and a great deal of that nature. The marquis left him for that time, and within three or four days sent his secretary to him. He was still in the same mind; it could be done, but with the hazard of losing his place. The gentleman then told him there was such a one would do it for 50l in gold. 'Will he?' says he; 'what a knave is that: come, bring me the money, and I will do it.' And by this means he came off at that time. It may be wondered, that he who had so great honour and so large a fortune should remain a widower twelve years, in the most vigorous and best of his time, nor can I attribute it to anything but his earnest desire of knowledge in following of his studies; and certainly he was the learnedest man that many ages have produced of his quality. His first lady was Cecilia, eldest daughter of the Lord Viscount Banning, a lady of great virtue and wisdom, by whom he had many children, sons and daughters, but only two daughters that survived. She died in the year 1640, and I may confidently say, had he been blessed with a son living, he had never married a second time. By his other lady he had only one son and one daughter, and they both died in their infancy.

“He went to attend his Majesty at Dover upon his happy and glorious restoration, and shortly after was sworn of the privy council, in which he continued till the year 1673, when they were dissolved by his Majesty, and a new one chosen, all along attending constantly to the business of the Lords' house and the council table when he was in or near London. But now age had so prevailed upon him that he rarely stirred out of his house, expressing much trouble that he was not able to return the visits of all those persons of honour that came to see him. He was for his temper the obligingest friend and severest enemy that ever met in one man. When he espoused an interest he would never relinquish it; but then he was likewise very careful that the cause should be just. On the contrary, where he had an enmity, it stuck close upon him, and (which is not so well to say, but with a regard to truth) he seldom relinquished it. This can have no manner of excuse, but that it commonly so happens in minds highly sensible of honour, of which no mortal man ever had a greater esteem. His course of life was so regular, that he who had noted it but one day might, at a thousand miles' distance, know how he employed himself every hour of it, unless extraordinary business diverted him.

He was constant to his times of eating, and never, or very rarely, drank between his meals; if he did, 'twas for necessity; and I believe the person lives not that can say, in forty years he ever saw him drink part of a bottle of wine from his table at meals, where he was always pleasant, but his conversation so grave, that an obscene word was never heard to come from him; and as his latter time was, so was his youthful. He never was delighted with those pleasures and recreations that almost all young noblemen and gentlemen affect; but all was swallowed in study, so that he might, as properly as any man, be called a devourer of books. What Seneca said in general, might in part of the sentence be very properly applied to the marquis of Dorchester: 'Cogita quám diu eadem feceris mori velle, non tantum fortis, aut miser, sed etiam fastidiosus potest;' - a man would die though he were neither valiant nor miserable, only of a weariness to do the same thing so often over and over; for in the end he grew weary of books, saying often there was nothing new to him, and, indeed, of all things else, having tired all those about him with reading to him.

“I must not omit the honour he did the common law. Somewhat before he entered into the Society of the Physicians, he was admitted of Gray's Inn - I mean of the bench - performing his exercises of reading in the hall before his admission, and giving the benchers, barristers, and students of that inn of court a noble dinner at the same time.

“When he began to decline, his motion was quick towards his place of rest, as all bodies are the nearer they approach their centre; and an unhappy accident in May, not above five or six months before his death, might accelerate it. In the morning, as soon as he was out of bed, he did often use to take a cordial electuary of his own prescribing; and at this time calling hastily for it, his stomach not being very well, the woman that kept it, amongst many other things of this and the like kind, by her over-diligence and haste mistook the gallipot, and instead thereof brought a pot of the extractum cardiacum, an excellent medicine taken in a due proportion; but he took so large a dose of it, that his physicians judged he had taken near 100 grains of opium, which is one ingredient that medicine is compounded of. Within less than a quarter of an hour he grew heavy and dozed, and so into a dead sleep. This mistake was not discovered for three hours; when presently his coach was sent from Highgate, where he was then at his house, for Sir John Micklethwaite and Dr Browne, with an account of this accident, who presently repaired to him, and found him in all appearance never to be recovered; the medicine was dispersed into the habit of his body, and they thought he would depart in this sleep; but using their utmost endeavours, by forcing down something to make him vomit, and a clyster into his body, he did evacuate plentifully downwards, and after twenty-four hours came somewhat to himself again, and in three or four days' time to good understanding. And though he got over this very well, seemingly, yet he never remembered he had taken the medicine, nor was sensible of the operation it had had upon him; and I verily believe it so altered the habit of his body and constitution, that it hastened his end in November following.

By being rubbed with a bag of salt (for he had used, many years, friction over all his body when he arose in the morning), a little skin not bigger than a threepence was rubbed off his left heel, and in two or three days' time the humours flowing down to that part caused an inflammation, and in less than a week's time such a swelling, that his leg became as big as an ordinary man's body. All endeavours were used by physicians and surgeons to put a stop to it, but nothing would avail; it gangrened and mortified, and by degrees striking higher, he died the 8th December, 1680, at his house in Charterhouse-yard. Thus ended this great lord, who was truly in so all respects, and merits a just volume to set forth his praises. He lay in state for some time after his death, and was then carried to his ancient seat of Holme Pierrepoint, near Nottingham, where he was interred amongst his ancestors. He was the eldest of six sons, and survived them all, having almost attained the age of 74 years." Thus far Goodall.

I need only add in addition, that the marquis of Dorchester on the 9th April, 1655, gave to the college 100l to augment the library; that he was elected and admitted a Fellow of the College of Physicians on the 22nd July, 1658, and that he was introduced with an elegant speech from Dr (afterwards Sir Charles) Scarburgh: "lllustrissimus vir Marchio Dornaviæ proponitur eligendus Socius honorarius, omnesque Socii præsentes in illius admissionem lætis animis suffragantur. Mox Dr Scarburgh, a Præside ad id muneris designatus, tum illius virtutes animumque vere nervicum, tum honorem hoc facto in Societatem nostram collatam eleganti oratione extulit. Ipseque marchio artis medicæ præstantiam decusque, ac laudem sibi à Collegio concessam, brevi quidem sed nervosâ oratione apertè professus est. Simul statutis nostris nomen suum adscripsit; pollicitusque est, se Collegii statum ac dignitatem sartam et tactam pro viribus conservaturum; tandemque bellaria in præsentes omnes liberalissimè effudit."

A portrait of the marquis is over the great door leading into the library, and there is a fine bust of him in the library itself. The portrait was painted for and at the expense of the College in 1691, "to remain in our College as a monument of our gratitude and veneration of his memory." (1)

The following publications of the marquis of Dorchester are still extant:-
A speech spoken in the House of Lords concerning the Right of Bishops to sit in Parliament, May 21, 1641.
Concerning the Lawfulness and Conveniency of the Bishops interfering in Temporal Affairs, May 24, 1641.
Speech to the Trained Bands of Nottinghamshire at Newark, July 13, 1641.
Letter to John Lord Roos (his son-in-law), February 25, 1659.

William Munk

[(1) November 11/91. Mr Treasurer, I entreat you to take into your custody the picture of our noblest benefactor the Marquiss of Dorchester, to remain in our College as a monument of our gratitude and veneration of his memory; and at the same time to pay to the painter 5l for the same, and 25s for the frame, receiving his acquittance. I am, Sir, Your affectionate friend and humble servant, W. CHARLETON. To my worthily honored friend, Dr Burwell, Treasurer of the Royal College of Physicians.]

(Volume I, page 281)

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