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SPENCER COMPTON

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 767 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SPENCER COMPTON, 2nd earl of Northampton in the Compton line (1601—1643), was the son of William, 1st earl, lord president of the marches, whose father had been created Baron Compton by Elizabeth, and of Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir John Spencer, lord mayor of London. On the 3rd of November 1616 he was created a Knight of the Bath, and was elected for Ludlow in the parliament of 1621, the same year being appointed master of the robes to the prince of Wales and attending the latter in the adventure to Spain in 1623. He warmly supported the king in the Scottish expeditions, at the same time giving his advice for the summoning of the parliament, which " word of four syllables " he declared was " like the dew of heaven."1 On the outbreak of the Civil War he was entrusted with the execution of the commission of array in Warwickshire. After varying success and failure in the Midlands he fought at Edgehill, and after the king's return to Oxford was given, in November 1642, the military supervision of Banbury and the neighbouring country. He was attacked in Banbury by the parliamentary forces on the 22nd of December, but relieved by Prince Rupert the next day. In March 1643 he marched from Banbury to relieve Lichfield, and having failed there proceeded to Stafford, which he occupied. Thence on the 19th of March, accompanied by three of his sons, he marched out with his troops and engaged Sir John Gell and Sir William Brereton at Hopton Heath. He put to flight the enemy's cavalry and took eight guns, but in the moment of victory, while charging too far in advance, he was surrounded by the parliament soldiers. To these who offered him quarter he answered that " he scorned to take quarter from such base rogues and rebels as they were," whereupon he was despatched by a blow on the head. Clarendon describes his loss as a great one to the cause. Northampton married Mary, daughter of Sir Francis Beaumont, by whom besides two daughters he had six sons, of whom the eldest, James (1622—1681), succeeded him as 3rd earl of Northampton, Henry (1632—1713) became bishop of London, and Charles, William and Spencer all distinguished themselves in the king's cause. The 3rd earl's third 1 Hardwicke State Papers, ii. 210. son Spencer (1673–1743) was a favourite of George II. and in 1728 was created earl of Wilmington, a title which became extinct at his death. See the article in the Diet. of Net. Biog. by C. H. Firth; E. B. G. Warburton's Life of Prince Rupert ! S. R. Gardiner's Hist. of England and of the Civil War; Thomason Tracts, E 99 (18) [Hopton Heath and Northampton's death], E 103 (11) [elegy], E 111 (11), E 110 (8) 1642 [Proceedings at Banbury], E 83 (47) [speech].
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