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WILLIAM HERBERT

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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 80 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WILLIAM HERBERT, 3rd earl of Pembroke (1580-1630), son of the 2nd earl and his famous countess, was a conspicuous figure in the society of his time and at the court of James I. Several times he found himself opposed to the schemes of the duke of Buckingham, and he was keenly interested in the colonization of America. He was lord chamberlain of the royal househol4 from 1615 to 1625 and lord steward from 1626 to 163o. He was chancellor of the university of Oxford in 1624 when Thomas Tesdale and Richard Wightwick refounded Broadgates Hall and named it Pembroke College in his honour. By some Shakespearian commentators Pembroke has been identified with the " Mr W. H. " referred to as " the onlie begetter "of Shakespeare's sonnets in the dedication by Thomas Thorpe, the owner of the published manuscript, while his mistress, Mary Fitton (q.v.), has been identified with the " dark lady " of the sonnets. In bot h cases the identification rests on very questionable evidence (see SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM). He and his brother Philip are the " incomparable pair of brethren " to whom the first folio of Shakespeare is inscribed. The earl left no sons when he died in London on the loth of April 1630. Clarendon gives a very eulogistic account of Pembroke, who appears, however, to have been a man of weak character and dissolute life. Gardiner describes him as the Hamlet of the English court. He had literary' tastes and wrote poems; one of his closest friends was the poet Donne, and he was generous to Ben Jonson, Massinger and others. His brother, PHILIP HERBERT, the 4th earl (1584-1650), was for some years the chief favourite of James I., owing this position to his comely person and his passion for hunting and for field sports generally. In 1605 the king created him earl of Montgomery and Baron Herbert of Shurland, and since 1630, when he succeeded to the earldom of Pembroke, the head of the Herbert family has carried the double title of earl of Pembroke and Montgomery. Although Philip's quarrelsome disposition often led him into trouble he did not forfeit the esteem of James I., who heaped lands and offices upon him, and he was also trusted by Charles I., who made him lord chamberlain in 1626 and frequently visited him at Wilton. He worked to bring about peace between the king and the Scots in 1639 and 1640, but when in the latter year the quarrel between Charles and the English parliament was renewed, he deserted the king who soon deprived him of his office of chamberlain. Trusted by the popular party, Pembroke was made governor of the Isle of Wight, and he was one of the representatives of the parliament on several occasions, notably during the negotiations at Uxbridge in 1645 and at Newport in 1648, and when the Scots surrendered Charles in 1647. From 1641 to 1643, and again from 1647 to 1650, he was chancellor of the university of Oxford; in 1648 he removed some of the heads of houses from their positions because they would not take the solemn league and covenant, and his foul language led to the remark that he was more fitted " by his eloquence in swearing to preside over Bedlam than a learned academy." In 1649, although a peer, he was elected and took his seat in the House of Commons as member for Berkshire, this " ascent downwards " calling forth many satirical writings from the royalist wits. The earl was a great collector of pictures and had some taste for architecture. His eldest surviving son, Philip (1621-1669), became 5th earl of Pembroke, and 2nd earl of Montgomery; he was twice married, and was succeeded in turn by three of his sons, of whom Thomas, the 8th earl (c. 1656-1733), was a person of note during the reigns of William III. and Anne. From 1690 to 1692 he was first lord of the admiralty; then he served as lord privy seal until 1699, being in 1697 the first plenipotentiary of Great Britain at the congress of Ryswick. On two occasions he was lord high admiral for a short period; he was also lord president of the council and lord-lieutenant of Ireland, while he acted as one of the lords justices seven times; and he was president of the Royal Society in 1689-1690. His son Henry, the 9th earl (c. 1689-1750), was a soldier, but was better known as the " architect earl." He was largely responsible for the erection of Westminster Bridge. The title descended directly to Henry,loth earl (1734-1794), a soldier, who wrote the Method of Breaking Horses (1762); George Augustus, 11th earl (1759-1827), an ambassador extraordinary to Vienna in 1807; and Robert Henry, 12th earl (1791-1862), who died without issue. George Robert Charles, the 13th earl (1850-1895), was a grandson of the rrth earl and a son of Baron Herbert of Lea (q.v.), whose second son Sidney (b. 1853) inherited all the family titles at his brother's death. See G. T. Clark, The Earls, Earldom and Castle of Pembroke (Tenby, 1880); J. R. Planche, " The Earls of Strigul " in vol. x. of the Proceedings of the British Archaeological Association (18J5); and G. E. C(okayne), Complete Peerage, vol. vi. (London, 1895).
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