On the death of Earl James, whose loyal and heroic career and tragic sacrifice at Bolton will ever maintain a place in the History
of the dreadful events in which he played so noble and conspicuous a part, and whose memory, with that of his illu&trious Countess, will ever be embalmed in the hearts of the loyal people of this country, the title and estates descended to his eldest son, Charles, Lord Strange, who became the eighth Earl of Derby of the Stanley family.
From infancy this young nobleman had been made acquainted, by sad experience, with the bereavements and privations arising from the great Civil War in England. He was born on the 19th of January, 1627, and accompanied his father at the great muster of the Royalists on Preston Moor, on the 20th of June, 1642, being then only fifteen years of age. During the siege of Lathom House his lordship appears to have resided in the Isle of Man, for we are told that the children of Lord Derby (Charles Lord Strange, Edward and William, and the Ladies Henriette-Maria, Katherine, and Amelia-Sophia) visited England in 1645, under a pass from Sir Thomas Fairfax, with hopes of obtaining a fifth part of the paternal estate under an ordinance of that year, and whose petition was granted in 1647, when they were put into the possession of Knowsley, under the temporary protecting influence of Fairfax. Shortly after this, however, two of the children (the Ladies Katherine and Amelia) were removed te Liverpool, and there kept prisoners by Colonel Birch, under the direction of President Bradshaw, owing, as was alleged, to Lord Derby holding the Isle of Man against the Parliament. From this time it appears Charles, Lord Strange, was allowed his liberty, and the other three children (Henriette-Maria and Edward and William) were permitted. to return to their parents in the Isle of Man.
In 1650, Charles (still Lord Strange) married Dorothea-Helena, maid of honour to the Queen of Bohemia, and daughter of John Kirkhoven, Baron of Rupa, in Hollarni, of an honourable family, but of limited means ; and probably this alliance, contracted against the will or without the knowledge of the father, was one of the causes that somewhat disturbed the harmony between Earl James and his son Lord Strange;~ and possibly it is to this circumstance that the Earl alludes, in his letter to his Countess, whilst a prisoner in Chester Castle and just before his execution, when he says, " I will say nothing at this time, except that my son shews great affection, and is gone to London with exceeding concern and passion for my good ; he is much changed for the better, I thank God, and would have been a greater comfort to me if I could have left him more, or if he had provided better for himself." At the annual meeting of the Chetham Society, held on the 1st of March, 1862, Mr. Canon Raines, who, we are told, by the expressed wish of the late or thirteenth Earl, has had entrusted to him, and is preparing for publication under the auspices of the Chetham Society, a further set of MSS. in the hand-writing of the martyred Earl, in speaking of the will of the Earl, which forms one of the MSS. here alluded to, said the Earl seems to have been on very bad terms with his son, Lord Strange, and " wished even to deprive him of all the estates which were not entailed."
During the time Earl James was engaged in the struggle oil behalf of his King and country, or exerting himself for the protectiQn of his own possessions, Lord Strange seems to have remained, for some reason or other, in a state of almost perfect inaction ; and it is somewhat remarkable that in all the Earl’s injunctions and letters he never appoints or alludes to his son as the natural protector of his family. The Earl appears to have been very anxious to impress upon the youthful mind of Lord Strange certain practical rules and maxims, already notioed, which, as a solicitous parent, and one well acquainted with the different phases and usages of society and the various temptations which beset the youthful mind, he well knew were necessary to guard his son from those mistakes in life which, from his position and youth, Lord Strange was liable to fall into ; but in no way does the Earl present to the Countess in her distress any solace from his heir beyond that he was " much changed for the better." Owing to the wise and prudent reserve of the Earl, at a time when the unity of families, as well as that of the nation, was disturbed, the cause or combination of causes which had given concern to the Earl respecting his son can only be guessed at, and possibly it was only some political question, in whiéh even a son may pardonably be allowed to differ conscientiously from his parent, that had in some way interfered with the domestic harmony of the noble parties ; and this probability may the more reasonably be received when it is remembered that Lord Strange was at liberty even when two of the Earl’s daughters were subjected to close and malicious imprisonment.
When Charles succeeded to the earidom, his pecuniary means were circumscribed to almost the narrowest limit: his father’s devotion to Charles I. and the cause of his ungrateful son, Charles II.
After the execution of his father, Earl Charles and his Countess retired to Bidston Hall,*. in Cheshire, which was built by William, the sixth Earl and grandfather of Earl Charles, soon after he succeeded to the title and estates of his ill-fated brother Ferdinando, and here they lived in economical retirement, imposed upon them by the embarrassments resulting from the Civil War.
In 1659, Cromwell being dead, and the Parliament of the day having, by its divisions and tyranny, become obnoxious to no inconsiderable portion of the nation, the Royalists projected an insurrection in several parts of the kingdom, hoping that the Presbyterians would assist, and that it would become in the end general Accordingly a resolution was adopted by the Royalists and many of the Presbyterians in several of the counties for a simultaneous rising in arms ; and, relying on the people’s affection for the exiled King, a messenger was despatched to inform his Majesty of the project, which he thought so well planned, that he repaired secretly to Calais, and then to St. Malo’s, in order that he might be near England if the plot succeeded. The scheme, however, owing to the treachery of Sir William Willis, was revealed to the Parliamentary Council of State, who immediately took precautions for the obstruction of the several apprehended risings, so that the only one at all successful was that under the charge of Sir George Booth for the seizing of Chester. This rising took place in August, when the Earl of Derby appeared at the head of a number of Lancashire men, in support of Sir George Booth in Cheshire. Chester being taken, Sir George published a manifesto against the tyranny of the Parliament, omitting any mention of the King, intending to make the people believe that the people’s discontent was the sole motive of this rising. The movement, however, being unsuccessful in other parts of the country, and the gaols being filled with the leaders and their followers, Lambert marched against the Royalists at Chester, who, with Sir Thomas Middleton’s troops, were only from 4,000 to 5,000 strong, and with an overwhelming force retook Chester ; and Sir George Booth, although he had the good fortune at first to escape, some days after was captured in women’s clothes, and conveyed a prisoner to the Tower of London. The Earl of Derby was also taken prisoner, and attainted by the Parliament ; but the Restoration of the King ensuing in the following year, 1660, the Earl again regained his liberty, and was reinstalled in his estates and his rights in the Isle of Man, and an act was passed in the 16th and 17th Charles II., entitled " An Act for restoring Sir Charles Stanley in blood ;" but these appear to have been almost the only acts of justice he obtained from the King, who, notwithstanding the eminent services and losses of his worthy but unfortunate father on behalf of the late King and himself, and notwithstanding also the unparalleled heroism of his mother at Lathom and the Isle of Man, peremptorily refused the Royal assent to an act unanimously voted in both Houses of Parliament for restoring to Charles Earl of Derby the sequestered estates of his family.
After the Restoration, the Earl of Derby took up his resideuce at Knowsley, where he lived a quiet and almost private life ; and had it not been for the ingratitude of the gay and licentious English Sovereign, he might have recovered a very considerable part of his possessions ; but,~ notwithstanding his great discouragements and disadvantages, after the marriage of Lady Robert Stanley to the Earl of Lincoln, and the death of her younger son, James Stanley, by a strict economy and by some judicious sales* and purchases, the Earl succeeded in laying that foundation which eventually, in some degree, tended to restore the wealth of the family, and in which Lathom House, once the pride of the county, was a heap of ruins, and all the estates belonging to it under sequestration; and Knowsley was in a condition little superior, being out of repair and also somewhat ruinous, great devastations having been committed not only in the house, but in the gardens and park ; and not only those of Lathom, but half of the estates of the family had either been sold or sequestered, owing to success he received very great assistance from his excellent Countess, whose frugal and prudent management of her numerous family and the affairs under her immediate care made up any shortcomings in dowry, and thus she proved herself worthy of her noble husband’s choice and affection. The Earl was appointed lord-lieutenant of ~ Lancashire ; and in 1667, he presented a silver mace to the newly-formed corporation of Liverpool, bearing " a Leaver embossed upon it."
Earl Charles is represented as having been a nobleman of great affability, courteous to all, a good master, and a kind and liberal landlord. He was also an author, his dialogue between " Orthodox " and " Cacodoemon," possessing, as a con-troversial piece, considerable tact and merit, and displaying an intimate acquaintance with the vexed questions of the day.*
By his Countess Earl Charles had issue nine sons and six daughters, namely :—
1, James, born 19th April and died 21st August, 1651.
2, Henriette-Charlotte, born 2nd April, 1652, and married to Thomas, Viscount Colchester, having issue Helena-Maria, buried at Ormskirk, and Charlotte-Catherine-Savage (unmarried), and was buried at Ormskirk, February 10th, 1716.
3, Henry-Charles, born 15th April, 1653, and died in infancy.
4, Amelia, born 2nd April, 1 654, and died December 19th, 1654.
5, William-Richard-George, Lord Strange, born at Lathom, on Sunday, 18th March, 1654--5, as the following interesting entry in the register at Ormskirk Parišh Church shews—
1654+ March 22. William Lord Strange, son of Charles Earl of Derby, born at Lathom Ormskirk, 1 st January, 1663. upon Sunday, March 18th, baptised March 22, 1651—whom God prosper with long life, and Heaven at last, so God prayeth RICHARD GRICE—
and who succeeded his father and became the ninth Earl.
6, Robert-Thomas, born 10th April, 1656, and was killed in a duel by Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Grafton, 19th February, 1686, being unmarried.
7, Ferdinand, born June 22nd, and died November 5th, 1657.
8, Edward, born at Lathom, 6th July, 1658, died 6th February and was buried at Ormskirk on the 10th February, 165g.
9, Marie-Sophie, born at Lathom, 21st August, 1659, died unmarried in London, 18th July, and buried at Ormskirk, 29th July, 1674.
10, Charles, born in London, registered at Ormskirk 15th January, 1661, died in infancy, and buried at Ormskirk, 15th August, 1663.
11, Helena, who died an infant.
12, Catherine, buried at Ormskirk, 1st January, 1663.
13, James, born (as registered at Ormskirk) 3rd July, at Knowsley, and baptised there 14th July, 1664, and succeeded his brother William as the tenth Earl
14, An infant, buried at Ormskirk, 26th June, 1665.
15, Charles-Zedenno, born 8th December, 1666, was M.P. for Preston 12th Queen Anne, and for the county from 1705 to1710, and died unmarried 9th April, and was buried at Ormskirk, April 16th, 1715.
Earl Charles died at Knowsley, on the 21st December, I 672, aged 55, and was buried with his ancestors at Ormskirk. His Countess survived him twenty-nine years, and was buried at Ormskirk, April 1 6th, 1703.
1 The manor of Bidston, a township in Cheshire, and the entire parish, were formerly part of the barony of Dunham Massey, and continued in the possession of the lords of Dunham for about a century and a half, when they came into possession of Henry, Duke of Lancaster, in the 9th Edward 111. lIe afterwards gave them, with other lands, to Roger de Strange, Lord of Knockyn, in exchange for lands in Lincoinshire ; and they continued in possession of this family until about the 21st Henry VI., when the manor of Bidston passed to the family of the Stanleys, Earls of Derby, who held them until 1653, when they were sold by Charlotte de la Tremouille, Countess of Derby, and her son Charles, Earl of Derby, to William Steele, Esq., a commissioner-at-law, by whom they were resold, in the reign of Charles II., to Lord Kingston, an Irish peer, and some years afterwards the property was again sold to Sir Robert Vyner, lord mayor of London. Bidston Hall stands on a commanding situation on a rock of yellow freestone, of which material it is built. The western front has bay windows and projecting gables, and the entrance is in the centre of the front, formed iii a semicircular porch, which rises the entire height of the building. The eastern side corresponds with the western, but has in addition a piazza along the lower story. The front approach Is through a square court, with a handsome gateway having a singular arch highly ornamented with the cognizances of the Derby family. In some intermediatory purchase it is said Bidston Hall was won and lost at cards, to commemorate which a summer-house was built in the form of a club, as usually represented in that card, the foundations of which still remain in the picturesque grounds attached to the hail.— See Mortincer’S History
of the Hundred of Wirral.