Vere, Edward

, seventeenth earl of Oxford, was the only son of John the sixteenth earl, who died in 1563, by his second wife, Margaret, daughter of John Golding, esq. He is supposed to have been born about 1540 or 1541, and in his youth travelled in Italy, whence it is said he was the first who imported embroidered gloves and perfumes into England, and presenting queen Elizabeth with a pair of the former, she was so pleased with them, as to be drawn with them in one of her portraits. This gives us but an indifferent opinion of his judgment, yet he had accomplishments suited to the times, and made a figure in the courtly tournaments so much encouraged in queen Elizabeth’s reign. He once had a rencounter with sir Philip Sidney (see Sidney, vol. XXVII. p. 507), which did not redound much to his honour. In 1585, Walpole says he was at the head of the nobility that embarked with the earl of Leicester for the relief of the States of Holland; but Camden, who gives a list of the principal personages concerned in that expedition, makes no mention of him. In 1586 he sat as lord great chamberlain of England on the | trial of Mary queen of Scots. In 1588 he hired and fitted out ships at his own charge against the Spanish Armada. In 1589 he sat on the trial of Philip Howard, earl of Arwndel; and in 1601, on the trials of the earls of Essex and Southampton. One of the most remarkable events of his life was his cruel usage of his first wife, Anne, daughter of the celebrated William Cecil, lord Burleigh, in revenge for the part acted by that statesman against Thomas duke of Norfolk, for whom he had a warm friendship. Camden says, that having vainly interceded with his father-in-law for the duke’s life, he grew so incensed that he vowed revenge against the daughter, and “not only forsook her bed, but sold and consumed that great inheritance descended to him from his ancestors;” but in answer to this, Collins says, that the estate descended to his son. It was probably, however, much impaired, as Arthur Wilson agrees with Camden, and something of the same kind may be inferred from a letter in Winwood’s Memorials, III. 422. The earl was buried at Hackney, July 6, 1604.

His character appears to have been marked with haughtiness, vanity, and affectation. He aped Italian dresses, and was called “the mirror of Tuscanismo.” His rank, however, and his illustrious family commanded the respect of a large portion of the literary world, and among his eulogists were the contemporary writers, Watson, Lily, Golding, Munday, Greene, Lock, and Spenser. Scattered pieces of his poetry are found in the collections of the times, and particularly in the “Paradise of dayntie devises,” lately reprinted in the Bibliographer. In these there appear the same traits as are said to have been exhibited in his character. They are generally affected, full of conceit and antithesis, and obscure. He is said also to have written comedies, and to have been reckoned the best writer of comedy in his time, but the very names of these plays are lost. His lady, Anne, has lately been introduced to public observation, as a poetess, by Mr. George Steeveris, the editor of Shakspeare. Her poetical attempts are to be found in a collection of odes and sonnets, entitled “Diana,” published by one John Southern or Soothern. Some account of these, which seem to be below mediocrity, is given by Mr. Park as a supplementary article to Walpole’s “Royal and Noble Authors.1

1 Biog, Brk. Bibliographer, rol. III. Park’s Royal and Noble Authors.