Bertie, Robert

, earl of Lindsey, and lord high chamberlain of England in the reign of Charles I. was the eldest son of Peregrine lord Willoughby, of Eresby, by Mary, daughter to John Vere earl of Oxford, and grandson of Richard Bertie, esq. by Catherine, duchess of | Suffolk. He was born in 1582, and in 1601, upon the death of his father, succeeded to his title and estate. In the first year of the reign of James I. he made his claim to the earldom of Oxford, and to the titles of lord Bulbech, Sandford, and Badlesmere, and to the office of lord high chamberlain of England, as son and heir to Mary, the sole heir female of that great family; and, after a considerable dispute, had judgment given in his favour for the office of lord high chamberlain, and the same year took his seat in the house of lords above all the barons. On the 22d of November, 1626, he was advanced to the dignity of earl of Lindsey; and four years after made knight of the garter; and the next year constable of England for the trial of the lord Rea and David Ramsey in the court military. In 1635 he was constituted lord high admiral of England; and a fleet of forty ships of war was sent out under him. In 1639, upon the Scots taking arms, he was made governor of Berwick. The year following he was appointed lord high constable of England at the trial of the earl of Strafford. In 1642, he was constituted general of the king’s forces and on the 23d of October the same year received his death’s wound in his majesty’s service at the battle of Edgehill in the county of Warwick.

The fortune, which he inherited from his ancestors, was a very considerable one; and though he did not manage it with such care, as if he desired much to improve it, yet he left it in a very fair condition. He was a man of great honour, and spent his youth and the vigour of his age in military actions and commands abroad. And though he indulged himself in great liberties, yet he still preserved a very great interest in his country; as appears by the supplies, which he and his son brought to the king’s army, the companies of his own regiment of foot being commanded by the principal knights and gentlemen of Lincolnshire, who engaged themselves in the service principally out of their personal affection to him. He was of a very generous nature, and punctual in what he undertook, and in exacting what was due to him which made him bear the restriction so heavily, which was put upon him by the commission granted to prince Rupert, who was general of the horse, in which commission there was a clause exempting him from receiving orders from any but the king himself; and by the king’s preferring the prince’s opinion in all matters relating to the war before his. Nor | did he conceal his resentment for the day before the battle, he said to some friends, with whom he had used freedom, that he did not look upon himself as general; and therefore he was resolved, when the day of battle should come, that he would be at the head of his regiment as a private colonel, where he would die. He was carried out of the field to the next village; and if he could then have procured surgeons, it was thought his wound would not have proved mortal. As soon as the other army was composed by the coming on of the night, the earl of Essex about midnight sent sir William Balfour, and some other officers, to see him, and designed himself to visit him. They found him upon a little straw in a poor house, where they had laid him in his blood, w.hich had run from him in great abundance. He said, he was sorry to see so many gentlemen, some whereof were his old friends, engaged in so foul a rebellion wishing them to tell the earl of Essex, that he ought to throw himself at the king’s feet to beg his pardon which if he did not speedily do, his memory would be odious to the nation. He continued his discourse with such vehemence, that the officers by degrees withdrew themselves, and prevented the visit, which the earl of Essex intended him, who only sent him the best surgeons; but in the very opening of his wounds he died, before the morning, by the loss of blood. He had very many friends, and very few enemies, and died generally lamented. His body was interred at Edenham in Lincolnshire.

He married Elizabeth, only child of Edward, the first lord Mountagu of Boughton in Northamptonshire, and had issue by her nine sons and five daughters, and was succeeded in his titles and estate by his eldest, Mountagu, who at the battle of Edge-hill, where he commanded the royal regiment of guards, seeing his father wounded and taken prison, was moved with such filial piety, that he voluntarily yielded himself to a commander of horse of the enemy, in order to attend upon him. He afterwards adhered firmly to his majesty in all his distresses, and upon the restoration of king Charles II. was made knight of the garter. 1


Birch’s Lives.—Biog. Brit.