Compton, Spencer

, only son of William, first earl of Northampton, by Elizabeth, sole daughter and heiress of sir John Spencer, alderman of London, was born in 1601. He was made knight of the bath in 1616, when Charles, duke of York (afterwards Charles I.) was created prince of Wales; with whom he became a great favourite. In 1622 he accompanied him into Spain, in quality of master of his robes and wardrobe; and had the honour to deliver all his presents, which amounted, according to computation, to 64,000l. At the coronation of that prince he attended as master of the robes; and in 1639, waited on his majesty in his expedition against the Scots. He was likewise one of those noblemen, who, in May 1641, resolved to defend the protestant religion, expressed in the doctrine of the church of England, and his majesty’s royal person, honour, and estate as also the power and privilege of parliaments, and the lawful rights and liberties of the subject. In 1642 he waited upon his majesty at York, and after the king set up his standard at Nottingham, was one of the first who appeared in arms for him. He did him signal services, supporting his cause with great zeal in the counties of Warwick, Stafford, and Northamptom. He was killed, March 19, 1643, in a battle fought on Hopton-heath, near Stafford; in which, though the enemy was routed, and much of their artillery taken, yet his lordship’s horse being unfortunately shot under him, he was somehow left en­“compassed by them. When he was on his feet, he killed with his own hand the colonel of foot, who first came up to him; notwithstanding which, after his head-piece was struck off with the butt-end of a musquet, they offered him quarter, which he refused, saying,” that he scorned to accept quarter from such base rogues and rebels as they were:“on this he was killed by a blow with an halbert on the hinder part of his head, receiving at the same time another deep wound in his face. The enemy refused to deliver up his body to the young earl of Northampton, unless he | would return, in exchange for it, all the ammunition, prisoners, and cannon he had taken in the late battle: but at last it was delivered, and buried in Allhallows church in Derby, in the same vault with his relation the old countess of Shrewsbury. His lordship married Mary, daughter of sir Francis Beaumont, knt. by whom he had six sons and two daughters. The sons are all said to have inherited their father’s courage, loyalty, and virtue particularly sir William, the third son, who had the command of a regiment, and performed considerable service at the taking of Banbury, leading his men on to three attacks, during which he had two horses shot under him. Upon the surrender of the town and castle, he was made lieutenantgovernor under his father; and on the 19th of July, 1644, when the parliament’s forces came before the town, he returned answer to their summons;” That he kept the castle for his majesty, and as long as one man was left alive in it, willed them not to expect to have it delivered:“also on the 16th of September, they sending him another summons, he made answer,” That he had formerly answered them, and wondered they should send again." He was so vigilant in his station, that he countermined the enemy eleven times, and during the siege, which held thirteen weeks, never went into bed, but by his example so animated the garrison, that though they had but two horses left uneaten, they would never suffer a summons to be sent to them, after the preceding answer was delivered. At length, his brother the earl of Northampton raised the siege on the 26th of October, the very day of the month, on which both town and castle had been surrendered to the king two years before. Sir William continued governor of Banbury, and performed many signal services for the king, till his majesty left Oxford, and the whole kingdom was submitting to the parliament; and then, on the 8th of May, 1646, surrendered upon honourable terms. In 1648, he was major-general of the king’s forces at Colchester, where he was so ni’ich taken notice of for his admirable behaviour, that Oliver Cromwell called him the sober young man, and the godly cavalier. At the restoration of king Charles II. he was made one of the privy-council, and master-general of the ordnance; and died October 19, 16h3, in the 39th year of his age. There is an epitaph to his memory in the church of Compton- Winyate. Henry, | the sixth and youngest, who was afterwards bishop of London, is the subject of the next article. 1


Biog. Brit.