(1st B. Herbert of Chirbury)

Born: 3 Mar 1582/3, Eyton, Shropshire, England

Acceded: 1629

Died: 20 Aug 1648, London, Middlesex, England

Buried: St. Giles in the fields, New Oxford St, London, Middlesex, England

Father: Richard HERBERT

Mother: Magdalen NEWPORT

Married: Mary HERBERT 1598


1. Richard HERBERT (2 B. Herbet of Chirbury)

2. Edward HERBERT



Herbert,Edward(1B.Chirbury)02.jpg (8085 bytes)

Edward Herbert, first Baron Herbert of Chirbury

possibly after Isaac Oliver
Oil on canvas, feigned oval
c. 1603-1605
Primary Collection
On display at Montacute House

Newport,Magdalen01.jpg (66389 bytes)

Magdalen Newport

by an unknown artist

Herbert,Edward(1B.Chirbury)01.jpg (302547 bytes)

Edward Herbert, first Baron Herbert of Chirbury

By Isaac Oliver

Vellum on card 18,1 x 22,7 cm

The Rt. Hon Earl of Powis

Born at Eyton, Shropshire, the home of his maternal grandmother, on 3 Mar 1582/3, eldest son of Richard Herbert, Sheriff of Montgomeryshire and Member of Parliament, by his wife Magdalen Newport, a well-born woman of high intelligence, beauty and deep religious sensibility. Magdalen Newport was the daughter of Sir Richard Newport of High Ercall Shropshire (b. 1518 - d. 12 Sep 1570) and Margaret Bromley (b. 1521 - d. 10 Aug 1598). She was grand daughter of Thomas Bromley, Lord Chief Justice. She and her brother Francis (b. 1554 - d. 15 Mar 1622) were childhood friends of Sir Phillip Sidney. Although her oldest sons wardship was sold to Sir George More of Loseley, Magdalen kept control of his education. She lived in Oxford from 1598 to 1602, while he was a student there, and so met John Donne, who became a lifelong friend. He addressed much of his poetry to her and recorded that her second marriage, in 1608, to a much younger man, Sir John Danvers  (b. 28 Jun 1585 - d. 16 Apr 1655), son of Sir John Danvers and Elizabeth Neville, was a happy one. She was buried in the parish church in Chelsea. Donne preached the funeral sermon and her son George composed commemorative verses that were later published. 

Elder brother of the poet George Herbert, Edward was largely educated at home, but as a boy he came under the tutelage of the Welsh autodidact Edward Thelwall, who apparently taught him Welsh and of whom Herbert spoke with great respect.

He entered University College, Oxford at the age of fourteen, in 1595, as a gentleman commoner. At sixtenn, by his mother's arrangement Herbert married his cousin Mary Herbert of St. Julian, when she was 22. She was the daughter of Sir William Herbert of St. Julian, Knight, and Florence Morgan. The marriage was arranged to secure her inheritance. Despite Herberts long absences and infidelities, the marriage endured. They had two sons and two daughters. Herbert remained at Oxford, now in the company of his wife and mother, for two more years. He was a gifted linguist. Having mastered Greek and Latin while a youth, at Oxford he taught himself French, Italian and Spanish. He also taught himself to play the lute, for which he composed. In 1600 he removed to London and was received at court.

He was knighted shortly after James I coronation in 1603. In 16081609 he toured the Continent for the first time and met, among others, Isaac Causabon, enjoying the friendship and hospitality of the old constable de Montmorency, and being entertained by Henry IV. Other Continental sojourns followed, during which he saw action as a soldier, engaged in dangerous liaisons, challenged and was challenged to duels, and did diplomatic service. He returned to England for a short time before going abroad again to fight for Prince Maurice of Nassau in the Low Countries, under Sir Edward Cecil. Companion of Grey Brydges, 5th Lord Chandos during the campaign. He became an intimate friend of the Prince, and distinguished himself at the capture of Juliers from the Emperor. He offered to decide the war by engaging in, single combat with a champion chosen from among the enemy, but his challenge was declined. During an interval in the fighting he paid a visit to Spinola, in the Spanish camp near Wezel, and afterwards to the elector palatine at Heidelberg, subsequently travelling in Italy. At the instance of the Duke of Savoy he led an expedition of 4000 Huguenots from Languedoc into Piedmont to help the Savoyards against Spain, but after nearly losing his life in the journey to Lyons he was imprisoned on his arrival there, and the enterprise came to nothing. Thence he returned to the Netherlands and the Prince of Nassau.

On his return to England he rejoined court circles and became acquainted with George Villiers, the rising star at the court of James I. This relationship culminated in Herbert's appointment as English Ambassador to France (1619-24), the highest political post he held. Thomas Carew, accompanied him to the Court of Louis XIII with a considerable retinue. He was created Baron Herbert of Castle-Island in the County of Kerry, but did not receive his English peerage, the Barony of Chirbury, until 1629. His Ambassadorship came to an abrupt end in which Herbert managed to fall out with the Duc de Luynes, Louis XIII's chief minister. Herbert was against the proposed marriage of Prince Charles to the Spanish infanta Maria of Spain, and after giving James I unwelcome advice about it, Herbert turned himself almost exclusively to intellectual pursuits.

The remaining twenty years of his life were not happy ones. His health decayed. He was in debt and constantly threatened by lawsuits. He was in disfavour at court. He was still in arrears of payment for his Ambassadorship and that his services to the Crown had not been, to his way of thinking, properly recognized.

When the civil war began, he remained neutral. Finally, he surrendered Montgomery Castle to the Parliamentary forces which held it under siege and was able thereby to secure his property there and in London, and save his library from being confiscated. These were, nevertheless, productive years. He revised De veritate, completed his other philosophical works and wrote his much-valued history of the reign of Henry VIII. He left numerous manuscripts, including his autobiography which was printed by Horace Walpole in 1764.

Edward Herbert, first Baron Herbert of Chirbury

by Larkin

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