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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Earl of Portland

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An English title held by the family of Weston from 1633 to 1688, and by the family of Bentinck from 1689 to 1716, when it was merged in that of duke of Portland. Sir Richard Weston (1577-1635), according to Clarendon "a gentleman of very ancient extraction by father and mother," was the son and heir of Sir Jerome Weston (c. 1550-1603) of Skreens, in Roxwell, Essex, his grandfather being Richard Weston (d. 1572) justice of the common pleas. A member of parliament during the reigns of James I. and Charles I., Sir Richard was sent abroad by James on two occasions to negotiate on behalf of the elector palatine Frederick V.; after the murder of the duke of Buckingham, he became the principal counsellor of Charles I. In 1628 he was created Baron Weston of Neyland and in 1633 earl of Portland. Having in 1625 and 1626 had experience in the difficult task of obtaining money for the royal needs from the House of Commons, Weston was made lord high treasurer in 1628. His own inclinations and the obstacles in the way of raising money made him an advocate of a policy of peace and neutrality. His conduct was frequently attacked in parliament, but he retained both his office and the confidence of the king until his death on the 13th of March 1635. His son Jerome, the 2nd earl (1605-1663), was imprisoned for plotting in the interests of Charles I. in 1643, and was nominally president of Munster from 1644 to 1660. He sat in the convention parliament of 1660. He was succeeded by his son Charles (1639-1665), who was killed in a sea-fight with the Dutch off the Texel, and then by his brother Thomas (1609-1688), who died in poverty at Louvain, when the title became extinct. In 1689 it was revived by William III., who bestowed it upon his favourite William Bentinck (see below.) Sir Richard Weston must be distinguished from a contemporary and namesake, Sir Richard Weston ( c. 157 9 -1652), baron of the exchequer. Another Sir Richard Weston ( c. 1466-1542) was a courtier and a diplomatist under Henry VIII.; his son was Sir Francis Weston ( c. 1511-1536), who was beheaded for his alleged adultery with Anne Boleyn. This Sir Richard had a brother, Sir William Weston (d. 1540), who distinguished himself at the defence of Rhodes in 1522, and was afterwards prior of the Knights of St John in England. A third Sir Richard Weston (1591-1652), was mainly reponsible for introducing locks on the Wey and thus making this river navigable.

Another family of Weston produced Robert Weston (c. 15151 573), lord chancellor of Ireland from 1566 until his death on the 20th of May 1573. Other famous Westons were Stephen Weston (1665-1742) bishop of Exeter from 1724 until his death, and his son Edward Weston (1703-1770) the writer.

Much of the earl of Portland's correspondence is in the Public Record Office, London. For his political career see S. R. Gardiner, History of England (1883-1884), and L. von Ranke, Englische Geschichte (Eng. trans., Oxford, 1875).

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Earl of Portland'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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