Annesley, Arthur

, earl of Anglesey, and lord privy seal in the reign of Charles II. was born July 10, 1614, at Dublin, and continued in Ireland till he was ten years old, when he was sent to England. At sixteen he was entered fellow commoner at Magdalen college, Oxford, where he pursued his studies about three or four years. In 1634 he removed to Lincoln’s Inn, where he studied the law with great assiduity till his father sent him to travel. He made the tour of Europe, and continued some time at Rome, whence he returned to England in 1640, and was elected knight of the shire for the county of Radnor, in the parliament which sat at Westminster in November of the same year but the election being contested, he lost his seat by a vote of the house, that Charles Price, esq. was duly elected. In the beginning of the civil war, Mr. Annesley inclined to the royal cause, and sat in the parliament held at Oxford in 1643; but afterwards reconciled himself so effectually to the parliament, that he was taken into their confidence, and appointed to go as a commissioner to Ulster in 1645. There he managed affairs with so much dexterity and judgment, that the famous Owen Roe O’Neil was disappointed in his designs; and the popish archbishop of Tuam, who was the great support of his party, and whose counsels had been hitherto very successful, was not only taken prisoner, but his papers were seized, and his foreign correspondence discovered, wheieby vast advantages accrued to the protestant interest. The parliament had sent commissioners to the duke of Ormcnd, for the delivery of Dublin, but without success; and the state of affairs making it necessary to renew their correspondence with him, they made choice of a second | committee, nd Mr. Annesley was placed at the head of this commission. The commissioners landed at Dublin the 7th of June 1647; and they proved so successful in their negotiations, that in a few days a treaty was concluded with the lord lieutenant, which was signed on the 19th of that inonth, and Dublin was put into the hands of the parliament. When the commissioners had got supreme power, they were guilty of many irregularities: Mr. Annesley disapproved of their conduct, but could not hinder them from doing many things contrary to his judgment: being therefore displeased with his situation, he returned speeuily to England, where he found all things in confusion. After the death of Cromwell, Mr. Annesley, though he doubted whether the parliament was not dissolved by the death of the king, resolved to get into the house if possible; and he behaved in many respects in such a manner as shewed what his real sentiments were, and how much he had the resettling of the constitution at heart. In the confusion which followed he had little or no share, being trusted neither by the parliament nor army. But when things began to take a different turn, by restoring the secluded members to their seats, Feb. 21, 1660, Mr. Annesley was chosen president of the council of state, having at that time opened a correspondence with Charles II. then in exile.

Soon after the restoration, Mr. Annesley was created earl of Anglesey; in the preamble of the patent notice is taken of the signal services rendered by him in the king’s restoration. He had always a considerable share in the king’s favour, and was heard with great attention both at council and in the house of lords. In 1667 he was made treasurer of the navy; and on the 4th of February 1672, his majesty in council was pleased to appoint the duke of Buckingham, the earl of Anglesey, the lord Holies, the lord Ashley Cooper, and Mr. secretary Trevor, to be a committee to peruse and revise all the papers and writings concerning the settlement of Ireland, from the first to the last; and to make an abstract thereof in writing. Accordingly, on the 12th of June 1672, they made their report at large, which was the foundation of a commission, dated the 1st of August 1672, to prince Rupert, the dukes of Buckingham and Lauderdale, earl of Anglesey, lords Ashley and Holies, sir John Trevor, and sir Thomas, Chicheley, to inspect the, settlements of Ireland, and all | proceedings thereunto. In 1673, the earl of Anglesey had the office of lord privy seal conferred upon him. In October 1680, his lordship was charged by one Dangerfield in an information delivered upon oath, at the bar of the house of commons, with endeavouring to stifle evidence concerning the popish plot, and to promote the belief of a presbyterian one. The uneasiness he received from tiiis attack, did not hinder him from speaking his opinion freely of those matters in the house of lords, particularly in regard to the Irish plot. In 1680, the earl of Castlehaven wrote Memoirs concerning the affairs of Ireland, wherein he was at some pains to represent the general rebellion in livland in the lightest colours possible, as if it had been at first far from being universal, and at last rendered so by the measures pursued by such as ought to have suppressed the insurrection. The earl of Anglesey having received these memoirs from their author, thought fit to write some animadversions upon them, in a letter to the earl of Castlehaven, wherein he delivered his opinion, freely in respect to the duke of Ormond and his management in Ireland. The duke expostulated with the lord privy seal on the subject, by letter, to which the earl replied. In 1682, the earl drew up a very particular remonstrance, and presented it to king Charles II. It was very warm and loyal, yet it was far from being well received. This memorial was entitled, The account of Arthur earl of Anglesey, lord privy seal to your most excellent majesty, of the true state of your majesty’s government and kingdoms, April 27, 1682. In one part whereof he says, “the fatal cause of all our mischiefs, present or apprehended, and which may raise a fire, which may burn and consume xis to the very foundations, is the unhappy perversion of the duke of York (the next heir to the crown) in one point of religion; which naturally raises jealousy of the power, designs, and practices, of the old enemies of our religion and liberties, and undermines and emasculates the courage and constancy even of those and their posterity, who have been as faithful to, and suffered as much for the crown, as any the most pleased or contented in our impending miseries can pretend to have done.” He concludes with these words: “Though your majesty is in your own person, above the reach of the law, and sovereign of all your people, yet the law is your master and instructor how to govern; and that your subjects assure themselves you will | never attempt the enervating that law by which you are king, and which you have not only by frequent declarations, but by a solemn oath upon your throne, been obliged, in a most glorious presence of your people, to the maintenance of; and that therefore you will look upon any that shall propose or advise to the contrary, as unfit persons to be near you; and on those who shall persuade you it is lawful, as sordid flatterers, and the worst and most dangerous enemies you and your kingdoms have. What I set before your majesty, I have written freely, and like a sworn faithful counsellor; perhaps not like a wise man, with regard to myself, as they stand: but I have discharged my duty, and will account it a reward, if your majesty vouchsafe to read what I durst not but write, and which I beseech God to give a blessing to.

It was not however thought proper to remove him from his high office on this account; but the duke of Ormond was prevailed upon to exhibit a charge against him, on account of his reflections on the earl of Castlehaven’s Memoirs. This produced a sharp contest betwixt these two peers; which ended in the earl of Anglesey’s losing his place of lord privy seal, though his enemies were forced to confess that he was hardly and unjustly treated. After this disgrace, he remained 'pretty much at his country seat at Blechhlgdon in Oxfordshire, where he devoted his time to his studies, and meddled very little with public affairs. However, he got into favour again in the reign of James II. and it is generally believed he would have been appointed lord chancellor of England, if not prevented by his death, which happened April 6, 1686, in the 73d year of his age. He was perfectly versed in the Greek and Roman history, and well acquainted with the spirit and policy of those nations. He had studied the laws of his country with such diligence, as to be esteemed a great lawyer. His writings which are extant, are proofs of his learning and abilities; but the largest and most

valuable of all his works was lost, or, as some say, destroyed. This was “A History of the Troubles in Ireland from 1641 to 1660.” He was one of the first English peers who distinguished himself by collecting a fine library, which he did with great care, and at a large expence. But after his decease, all his books were exposed to sale. At this sale the discovery was made of the earl’s famous memorandum, in the blank leaf of an Ejkwv Bawtfuxn j | according to which, it was not Charles I. but bishop Gauden, who was author of this performance. This -produced a long controversy, which will be noticed in the life of that prelate.

The earl of Anglesey has been very variously characterised; Anthony Wood represents him as an artful time-server; by principle, a Calvinist; by policy, a favourer of the Papists. Burnet paints him as a tedious and ungraceful orator, and as a grave, abandoned, and corrupt man, whom no party would trust. Our account is taken from the Biog. Bntannica, which steers an impartial course. Lord Orford, in his “Noble Authors,” is disposed to unite the severities of Wood and Burnet, but what he asserts is rather flippant than convincing.

His lordship published in his life-time the following pieces: 1. “Truth unveiled, in behalf of the Church of England; being a vindication of Mr. John Standish’s sermon, preached before the king, and published by his majesty’s command,1676, 4to. To which is added, “A short treatise on the subject of Transubstantiation.” 2. “A letter from a person of honour in the country, written to the earl of Castlehaven; being observations and reflections on his lordship’s memoirs concerning the Wars of Ireland,1681, 8vo. 3. “A true account of the whole proceedings between James duke of Ormond, and Arthur earl of Anglesey, before the king and his council, &c.1682, fol. 4. “A letter of remarks upon Jovian,1683, 4to. Besides these, he wrote many other things, some of which were published after his decease; as 5. “The Privileges of the House of Lords and Commons, argued and stated in two conferences between both houses, April 19 and 22, 1671. To which is added, A discourse, wherein the Rights of the House of Lords are truly asserted; with learned remarks on the seeming arguments and pretended precedents offered at that time again&t their lordships.” 6. “The King’s right of Indulgence in Spiritual matters, with the equity thereof, asserted,1688, 4to. 7. “Memoirs, intermixt with moral, political, and historical Observations, by way of discourse, in a letter to sir Peter Pett,1693, 8vo. 1

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Biog. Brit. —Ath. Ox. vol. II. Burnet’s Own Times. Orford’s Royal and Noble Authors, by Park, vol. III.

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