Fitzwilliam, William

, an eminent naval commander, and earl of Southampton, in the sixteenth century, was the second son of sir Thomas Fitzvviliiam, of Aldwarke, in Yorkshire, knt. by Lucia, his wife, daughter and co-heir to John Neville, marquis Montacute. In 151O he was made one of the esquires for the body of king Henry VIII. which office was renewed to him for life ia | 1512. The year following he was one of the chief commanders in the fleet sent out against France, to clear the sea of French ships before Henry and his allies attacked France by land; and he was seriously wounded by an arrow in attempting to destroy the French fleet at Brest. Shortly after he attended king Henry at the siege of Tournay, where his bravery procured him the honour of knighthood. In 1620 he was vice-admiral of England, and em^ ployed in guarding the channel at the time the emperor Charles V. came to England. He so ingratiated himself with his royal master that he obtained from him, in 1521, 9. grant of the manor of Navesby in Northamptonshire, part of the possessions of Edward Stafford, duke of Buckingham, then lately attainted. At that time he was ambassador in France; but, upon a rupture between that kingdom and England, he was recalled, Jan. 1521-2, and ordered to sea with a strong fleet of twenty-eight sail, to secure our merchants, and take what French ships he could. Shortly after he assisted at the taking of Morlaix, in Bretagne; and with sir William Sandes and sir Maufice Berkeley, went and burnt Marguison, which was newly built and fortified, and many villages. In 1523, the king of France, preparing to send John duke of Albany, regent of Scotland, into that kingdom in order to invade England from that quarter, sir William was made admiral, and dispatched with a strong fleet to intercept him. Having missed him, he landed on the French coast at Treport, in Normandy, and burnt the suburbs of that town and several ships in the harbour, though there were but 700 English opposed to 6000 French. The year following, being captain of Guisnes, in Picardy, he greatly annoyed Boulogne, and other places adjacent. Before the end of that year he was made treasurer of the king’s household; and in October sent to France with Dr. John Taylor, a civilian, to see the lady regent (whose son, Francis I. was then prisoner in Spain) swear to observe the articles of a treaty newly concluded between the two crowns. In 1529 he was one of those who subscribed the articles exhibited in parliament against cardinal Wolsey. At the grand interview between the ki:igs of England and France, in 1532, he attended his master Henry V11I. to Boulogne, the place of interview between many other persons of the highest quality. In May 1535, he was sent with the duke of Norfolk, the of Ely, and Dr. Fox, to treat with the French king’s | commissioners about a league between the crowns of England and France; one of the articles of which was, that the duke of Angonleme, third son to the king of France, should marry Elizabeth, second daughter of king Henry. Shortly after, he was made knight of the garter, and chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster; and in 1536 constituted admiral of England, Wales, Ireland, Normandy, Gascony, and Aquitaine. On Oct. 18, 1537, he was advanced to the title of earl of Southampton, and made lord privy-seal Oct. 27,1539. In April following, some disputes having arisen between England and France, he, with John lord Russel, lately made high admiral, were sent over to Calais with a few troops of horse, and returned quickly after executing their orders. He was also employed as captain of the Foreward in the expedition to Scotland, in October 1542, but died in his way thither, at Newcastle, so much esteemed, that, in honour of his memory, his standard was borne in the vanguard in all that expedition. By his will bearing date Sept. 10, of the same year, he ordered his body to be buried in the church of Midhurst, in Sussex. He left no issue by Mabel his wife, daughter to Henry lord Clifford, and sister to Henry first earl of Cumberland. Of his personal character it is only recorded that there was not a serviceable man under his command whose name he knew not; not a week passed but he paid his ships; not a prize but his seamen shared in as well as himself; and it was his opinion, that none fought well but those who did it for a fortune, which may be admitted, in some measure, if we consider that fortune and honours in the naval and military services are generally joined. 1


Biog. Brit.