- John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby
John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby
Knight of the Garter, Privy Councillor of England
Born 8 September 1647 Died 24 February 1721 (aged 73) Nationality British Occupation poet, politician
John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby, KG, PC (8 September 1647 – 24 February 1721), was a poet and notable Tory politician of the late Stuart period, who served as Lord Privy Seal and Lord President of the Council.
John Sheffield was the only son of Edmund Sheffield, 2nd Earl of Mulgrave, and succeeded his father as 3rd Earl and 5th Baron Sheffield in 1658. At the age of eighteen he joined the fleet, to serve in the Second Anglo-Dutch War; on the renewal of hostilities in 1672 he was present at the Battle of Sole Bay, and in the next year received the command of a ship. He was also made a colonel of infantry, and served for some time under Turenne. He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1674. In 1680 he was put in charge of an expedition sent to relieve the town of Tangier. It was said that he was provided with a rotten ship in the hope that he would not return, but the reason of this abortive plot, if plot there was, is not exactly ascertained. At court he took the side of the Duke of York, and helped to bring about Monmouth's disgrace.
In 1682 he was dismissed from the court, apparently for putting himself forward as a suitor for the Princess Anne, but on the accession of King James II, he received a seat in the Privy Council, and was made Lord Chamberlain. (He later married Catherine, the daughter of the king's mistress, Catherine Sedley). He supported James in his most unpopular measures, and stayed with him in London during the time of his flight. He also protected the Spanish ambassador from the dangerous anger of the mob. He acquiesced, however, in the "Glorious Revolution", and in 1694 was made Marquess of Normanby. In 1696 he refused in company with other Tory peers to sign an agreement to support William as their "rightful and lawful king" against Jacobite attempts, and was consequently dismissed from the privy council. On the accession of Queen Anne, of whom he was a personal favourite, he was appointed Lord Privy Seal and Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire, and in 1703 was created Duke of Buckingham and Normanby.
During the predominance of the Whigs between 1705 and 1710, Buckingham was deprived of his office as Lord Privy Seal, but in 1710 he was made Lord Steward, and in 1711 Lord President of the Council. After Queen Anne's death he was not reappointed. He died on 24 February 1721 at his house in St. James's Park, on the site of the present Buckingham Palace. Buckingham was succeeded by his son, Edmund (1716–1735), on whose death the titles became extinct.
Buckingham, who is better known by his inherited titles as Lord Mulgrave, was the author of An Account of the Revolution and some other essays, and of numerous poems, among them the Essay on Poetry and the Essay on Satire. It is probable that the Essay on Satire, which attacked many notable persons, "sauntering Charles" amongst others, was circulated in MS. It was often attributed at the time to Dryden, who accordingly suffered a thrashing at the hands of Rochester's bravoes for the reflections it contained upon the earl. Mulgrave was a patron of Dryden, who may possibly have revised it, but was certainly not responsible, although it is commonly printed with his works. Mulgrave adapted Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, breaking it up into two plays, Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus. He introduced choruses between the acts, two of these being written by Pope, and an incongruous love scene between Brutus and Portia. He was a constant friend and patron of Pope, who expressed a flattering opinion of his Essay on Poetry. This, although smoothly enough written, deals chiefly with commonplaces.
In 1721 Edmund Curl published a pirated edition of his works, and was brought before the bar of the House of Lords for breach of privilege accordingly. An authorized edition under the superintendence of Pope appeared in 1723, but the authorities cut out the Account of the Revolution and The Feast of the Gods on account of their alleged Jacobite tendencies. These were printed at the Hague in 1727. Pope disingenuously repudiated any knowledge of the contents. Other editions reappeared in 1723, 1726, 1729, 1740 and 1753. His Poems were included in Johnson's and other editions of the British poets.
Marriage and children
- He married, firstly, Ursula Stawell (d. 13 August 1697), daughter of George Stawell and Ursula Austen, on 18 March 1685 in Littlecote Chapel, Ramsbury, Wiltshire, England.
- He had an illegitimate daughter:
- Mary Sheffield (bef. 1692 – 26 October 1729), married as his second wife Arthur Annesley, 4th Baron Altham
- He married, secondly, Catherine Greville (d. 7 February 1703), daughter of Fulke Greville, 5th Baron Brooke and Sarah Dashwood, on 12 March 1698 in St. Clement Danes, Westminster, London, England.
- He had two illegitimate children with his mistress Frances Stewart, wife of Oliver Lambart:
- Sir Charles Herbert Sheffield, 1st Baronet (1704–1774)
- Katharine Sophia Sheffield (1705–13 January 1780)
- He married, thirdly, Lady Catherine Darnley (1680-13 March 1743), an illegitimate daughter of James II of Great Britain and Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester, on 16 March 1705 in St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Covent Garden, London, England. They had three sons:
- John Sheffield, Marquess of Normanby (26 September 1710 – 16 December 1710)
- Robert Sheffield, Marquess of Normanby (11 December 1711 – 1 February 1714)
- Edmund Sheffield, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Normanby (11 January 1716 – 30 October 1735)
- Leigh Rayment's Peerage Pages
- "Sheffield, John (1648–1721)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
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