Sir Francis De VERE
(Governor of Brill)
Died: 28 Aug 1609
Buried: Westminster Abbey, London, England
Father: Geoffrey De VERE
Mother: Elizabeth HARDEKYN
Married: Elizabeth DENT (dau. of John Dent of London) 26 Oct 1607
English soldier, was the son of Geoffrey Vere of Crepping Hall, Essex, and nephew of the 16th earl of Oxford. He first went on active service under Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester in 1585, and was soon in the thick of the war raging in the Low Countries. At the siege of Sluys young Vere greatly distinguished himself under Sir Roger Williams and Sir Thomas Baskerville.
In 1588 he was in the garrison of Bergen-op-Zoom, which delivered itself from the besiegers by its own good fighting, and was knighted by Willoughby on the field of battle. In the next year Sir Francis became sergeant major-general of the English troops in the Low Countries, and soon afterwards the chief command devolved upon him. This position he retained during fifteen campaigns, with almost unbroken success. Working in close co-operation with the Dutch forces under Maurice De Nassau, he step by step secured the country for the cause of independence. Vere won the reputation of being the first soldier of the day, his English troops acquired a cohesion and training fitting them to face the best Spanish troops, and his camp became the fashionable training-ground of all aspiring soldiers, amongst others not only his brother Horace, but men of such note as Ferdinando Fairfax, Gervase Markham and Miles Standish.
Sir Francis served in the Cadiz expedition of 1596, and in 1598 was entrusted with the negotiation of the treaty whereby the Dutch agreed to take a greater share of the burden of the war than they had hitherto done. His success in this task obtained him the governorship of Brill and the rank of general. The culminating point of his career came when, in 1600, on the advice of Barneveld, the states general decided to carry the war into the enemys country. In the battle of Nieuwport, one of the most desperately contested battles of the age, Vere and Maurice completely defeated the veteran Spanish troops of the Archduke Albert. This was followed by the celebrated defence of Ostend from Jul 1601 to Mar 1602.
When James I made peace with Spain, Vere retired from active service and spent the remainder of his days in country life in England, occupying himself with the compilation of his Commentaries of the Divers Pieces of Service wherein he had Command (1657; reprinted in Arbers English Garner, 1883).
Married Elizabeth Dent, daughter of John Dent, Gent. and his wife Alice. Elizabeth was just past her 16th birthday when they married; Sir Francis, then about 47. By Elizabeth he had several children but all died in his lifetime. He died in 1609, soon after the truce recognized the independence of the United Provinces.
Sir Francis and his brother Horace are buried in the chapel of St John the Evangelist in Westminster Abbey. Francis has a large monument of alabaster and black marble showing him lying on a carved rush mattress in civilian dress under a slab on which is laid out his suit of armour. The Latin inscription can be translated:
"To Francis Vere, Knight, son of Geoffrey and nephew of John earl of Oxford, governor of Brill and Portsmouth, chief leader of the English forces in Belgium, died 28 August 1609, in the 54th year of his age. Elizabeth, his wife, in great sadness and sobbing with tears, placed this supreme monument to conjugal faith and love".
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