Digges, Sir Dudley

, eldest son of Thomas Digges, just mentioned, was born in 1583, and entered a gentleman-commoner of University-college, in Oxford, 1598. Having taken the degree of B. A. in 1601, he studied for some time at the inns of court; and then travelled beyond sea, having before received the honour of knighthood. On his return he led a retired life till 1618, when he was sent by James I. ambassador to the tzar, or emperor of Russia. Two years after he was commissioned with sir Maurice Abbot to go to Holland, in order to obtain the restitution of goods taken by the Dutch from some Englishmen in the East Indies. He was a member of the third parliament of | James I. which met at Westminster, Jan. 30, 1621 but was so rule compliant with the court measures, as to be ranked among those whom the king called ill-tempered spirits, he was likewise a member of the first parliament of Charles 1. in 1626; and not only joined with those eminent patriots, who were for bringing Villiers duke of Buckingham to an account, but was indeed one of the most active managers in that affair, for which he was committed to the Tower, though soon released. He was again member of the third parliament of Charles I. in 1628, being one of the knights of the shire for Kent; but seemed to be more moderate in his opposition to the court than he was in the two last, and voted for the dispatch of the subsidies, yet opposed all attempts which he conceived to be hostile to the liberties of his country, or the constitution of parliament. Thus, when sir John Finch, speaker of the house of commons, on June 5, 1628, interrupted sir John Elliot in the house, saying, “There is a command laid upon me, that I must command you not to proceed” sir Dudley Digges vented his uneasiness in these words “I am as much grieved as ever. Must we not proceed Let us sit in silence we are miserable we know not what to do.” In April of the same year, he opened the grand conference between the commons and lords, “concerning the liberty of the person of every freeman,” with a speech, in which he made many excellent observations, tending to establish the liberties of the subject. In all his parliamentary proceedings, he appeared of such consequence, that the court thought it worth their while to gain him over; and accordingly they tempted him with the advantageous and honourable office of master of the rolls, of which he had a reversionary grant Nov. 29, 1630, and became possessed of it April 20, 1636, upon the death of sir Julius Csesar. But he did not enjoy it quite three years; for he died March 8, 1639, and his death was reckoned among the public calamities of those times. He was buried at Chilham church, in Kent, in which parish he had a good estate, and built a noble house.

He was a worthy good man, and, as Philipot says, “a great assertor of his country’s liberty in the worst of times, when the sluices of prerogative were opened, and the banks of the law were almost overwhelmed with the inundations of it.” He is now chiefly known as the author of | several literary performances, He published, 1. “A Defence of Trade in a letter to sir Thomas Smith, knt. governor of the East India company,1615, 4to and after his death there was printed under his name, 2. “A Discourse concerning the Rights and Privilege’s of the Subject in a conference desired by the lords, and had by a committee of both houses April 3, 1628,1642, 4to. At this conference, it was, that sir Dudley made the speech above-mentioned which is probably the same given here. 3. He made several speeches upon other occasions, inserted in Raaimorth’s Collections, and “Ephemeris Parliamentarian.” 4. He collected the letters that passed between the lord Burleigh, sir Francis Waisingham, and others, about the intended marriages of queen Elizabeth with the duke of Anjou, in 1570, and with the duke of Alencon in 1581, which were published in 1655, under the title of “The Complete Ambassador, &c.1655. folio.

Learning was long hereditary in this family. Sir Dudley had a brother, Leonard, and a son Dudley, who were both learned men and authors. His brother Leonard, born in 1588, was educated in University-college, Oxford, took the degree of B. A. in 1606, removed to London and then travelling beyond sea, studied in foreign universities: i’rcm whence returning a good scholar, and an accomplished person, he was created M. A. in 1626. His commendatory verses to Shakspeare are prefixed to that poet’s works. He also translated from Spanish into English “Gerardo the unfortunate Spaniard, 1622,” 4to, written by Goncalo de Cespades and from Latin into English verse, “Clauclian’s Rape of Proserpine, 1617,” 4to. He died April 7, 1635, being accounted a good poet and orator; and a great master of the English, French, and Spanish languages.

His son Dudley, who was his third son, was born about 1612, and educated at Oxford, where he took the degree of B. A. in 1632; and the year after was elected a fellow of All-souls’ college. He took a master’s degree in 1635; and became a good poet and linguist, and a general scholar. He died October 1, 1643; having distinguished himself only by the two following productions: 1. “An answer to a printed book entitled * Observations upon some of his majesty’s late answers and expresses, 1” Oxon. 1642. 2. “The unlawfulness of subjects taking up arms against | their sovereign in what case soever; with answers to all objections,” Lond. 1643, 4to. 1


Biog. Brit. Bibliographer, No. XII. in which there are some particulars of the family and their descendants, and a very interesting account of the Worthies of W., with whom the writer of that article may be justly classed. —Ath. Ox. vols. I and II.