Henry. Seventeenth Lord. 1534 to 1613.
THE young lord who thus inherited from his birth the title and possessions of' his father, was named after king Henry VIII., who was his Godfather. During his long minority he was made a ward of the Crown, but remained at Yate Court, under the guardianship of his mother, who was well qualified for the trust. A dispute had long existed between the late lord and his brother Maurice about the manor of Mangotsfield, which Maurice asserted had been left or given to him by his father. Lord Berkeley always resisted this claim and kept possession of the manor, though Maurice was allowed to reside in the house. On his brother's death, however, Maurice thought proper to claim what he considered his rights, and endeavoured to take possession of the manor, in which he was assisted by Sir Nicholas Poyntz, of Iron Acton, whose sister he had married. Many and great were the disputes that ensued; much rioting took place; deer-parks were driven and havocked, and three times the head of Mangotsfield Pool and Mill was broken down by Maurice and his companions. At length lady Berkeley obtained from the king a special commission to hear and determine these complaints, and was herself named upon it. She actually sat on the bench at Gloucester, and heard evidence before a jury, who found Maurice Berkeley, Nicholas Poyntz, and his brother Giles guilty of sundry riots, and fined them.
During these dissensions the lady Anne was so troubled and engrossed that she suffered her son to lose several manors and baronies in the county of Wexford, in Ireland, without even a remonstrance. In 1536 a Parliament was held at Dublin, by which a law was passed that all lords and owners of lands in Ireland should come and reside upon them within a given time on pain of forfeiture. Henry lord Berkeley was then but a year and a half old, and not obeying the summons, was disinherited, although he was at the time the king's ward, and all his property supposed to be under the king's care and protection. The manors were declared forfeited, and remained in the possession of the crown until they were sold by king James I.
In 1553, on the death of king Edward VI., the castle and great manor, or Hundred of Berkeley, and all the other manors which remained in possession of the crown, under the entail of William, marquess of Berkeley, to king Henry VII., were restored to Henry lord Berkeley, as right heir of the marquess, in default of issue male to Edward VI. The castle and manors had been in possession of the crown sixty-one years, four months, and twenty days, and had not been held by the four last lords. Some questions arose from the circumstance of lord Henry's being still under age and a ward of the crown, to settle which Queen Mary caused a special livery to be passed under the great seal, of all the manors, by which he obtained immediate possession and gained two whole year's rents and profits.
On the breaking out of Sir Thomas Wyatt's rebellion, lord Henry, though only nineteen years of age, showed his loyalty and his gratitude to the Queen by arming five hundred of his tenants and servants in the royal cause, with whom he marched towards London; they were however met about half way by the news that Wyatt had been taken and committed to the Tower, upon which lord Berkeley returned home and disbanded his men.
Soon after he entered into possession of his ancestral domains, lord Berkeley went to London and settled at Tower Hill, then the Court quarter, frequented the Court, and joined in the customary amusements of persons of his condition, playing much at tennis, bowls, and dice. His household consisted of 150 servants in tawny liveries, with the white lion, the cognizance of Mowbray, embroidered on the left sleeve, and he kept hounds, and hunted much in Gray's Inn fields and elsewhere. He lived frequently with his mother, the lady Anne, in Shoe-lane, and at Kentish Town, up to the time of his marriage. In September, 1555, he married the lady Katherine Howard, granddaughter to the Duke of Norfolk, and they kept Twelfth Day following with the Queen and Court at Greenwich. They resided chiefly at Yate when not in attendance at Court, but often removed to their other residences at Mangotsfield, and Callowden, near Coventry, hunting and hawking as they travelled, and attended by 150 servants, seldom less, and often more. In July, 1558, they went from London to Callowden, and sent to Yate for his buck-hounds, with which they went a "Progress," as it was then called, or round of visits, buck-hunting in the Parks of Barkwell, Groby, Bradgate, and Leicester forest, thence to Kenilworth, Ashby, and other places. This was their usual practice for the next thirty summers, and lady Berkeley took equal pleasure with her lord in the sports of the field, delighting much in her cross-bow, and keeping hawks in her chamber, to the great injury, says Smyth, of her dress and furniture. At the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, lord and lady Berkeley were remarkable for the magnificence of their dress and equipage. In the second year of Queen Elizabeth's reign, he presented the Queen with £10 in gold, on new year's day, and lady Berkeley £5; and they continued these new year's gifts annually throughout her majesty's reign. In 1565 lord Berkeley bought for his lady a lute of mother of pearl, for which the Queen had offered one hundred marks; ten years after lady Berkeley's death he gave this lute to the Countess of Derby, and in 1810 it is said to have been in the possession of Mrs. Jordan, the actress.
In 1571 overtures were made to lord and lady Berkeley by the Earls of Leicester and Warwick for the marriage of their nephews, Sir Philip Sidney and Sir Robert Sidney, to lord Berkeley's two daughters Mary and Frances, but the proposals were declined by lady Berkeley, by which great offence was given.
In 1572 lady Berkeley's brother the Duke of Norfolk was beheaded, on a charge of high treason, he having entered into a secret correspondence with some foreign Catholic powers in support of Mary, Queen of Scots, whom he hoped to have married, and for the restoration of the Catholic religion. Lady Berkeley took her brother's death greatly to heart, and went much less into society afterwards. They also considerably lessened their style of living, an additional reason for which was that their former extravagance and magnificence had caused them to exceed their income, and had produced considerable embarrassments.
In 1573 Queen Elizabeth in one of her progresses came to Berkeley Castle and remained there some days. During her stay such a slaughter was made of the red deer in the park near the Castle, called the Worthy, that 27 stags were killed in one day, besides others driven and stolen afterwards. Lord Berkeley was at Callowden, and was so enraged when he heard of this wanton slaughter of his deer, that he suddenly and passionately disparked the Worthy. He was however privately warned afterwards by a friend about the Court, to be very careful of his words and actions, all of which were reported to the Queen, with a view to do him mischief, by the Earl of Leicester, who had taken a great liking to the Castle and Estates, and who had been the means of the Queen's visit and the slaughter of the deer.
In 1558 the old family suits which had given so much trouble during the lives of James the 11th lord, and William the Marquees of Berkeley, were revived in the reign of Queen Mary by the Crown, in which these claims had become vested in consequence of the attainder of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, heir and representative of the Countess of Shrewsbury. Lord Berkeley had sufficient influence to procure the adjournment of the question, until after the execution of lady Berkeley's brother, the Duke of Norfolk, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, but the claims were brought to trial soon after and ended in verdicts for the Crown, by which lord Berkeley lost the manors of Wotton, Symondshall, Arlingham and some others. They were immediately granted to the Earls of Leicester and Warwick, by whose means these suits had been promoted. In addition to the costs of these suits, lord Berkeley had also to pay the mesne profits of these manors, from the first year of Queen Mary, which greatly added to his former embarrassments, and led to his selling off many of his off-lying manors and lands in Gloucestershire and other counties. Lord Berkeley's policy seems to have been to oppose an almost passive resistance to these proceedings, but he petitioned repeatedly for a remission of the payment of the mesne profits. On one occasion lady Berkeley presented a petition on her knees to the Queen, who replied. "No, no, my lady Berkeley, we know you will never love us, for the death of your brother;" referring to the execution of the Duke of Norfolk. Part of the mesne profits were, however, ultimately remitted, but the manors continued in the possession of the Warwick family, until the beginning of the reign of James I, when the whole of these claims were submitted to arbitration; an award was made in 1609 by which all the manors were restored to Henry lord Berkeley, on his paying a large sum of money to lord Lisle, the representative of the Earl of Warwick; thus ended this famous suit which had begun 192 years before, on the death of Thomas 10th lord Berkeley, and has been called the longest law-suit on record.
In 1600, iron works were established in Michaelwood by Thomas Hacket, on account of the convenience of making charcoal from the timber there, the iron ore being brought from Dean forest. It did not answer, and the works were sold to Sir Thomas Throckmorton, who then owned the Tortworth Estate, and by him subsequently to other persons, and they were finally given up.
Thomas Berkeley, the eldest son of Henry lord Berkeley, married Elizabeth the only daughter of Sir George Cary, lord Hunsdon, whose mother was sister to Queen Anne Boleyn. Upon the death of Queen Elizabeth he was sent to Scotland to convey the intelligence to King James who was her successor. At the coronation of King James Thomas Berkeley was created a Knight of the Bath. He died in the life-time of his father in 1611, leaving issue, a daughter Theophila married to Sir Robert Coke, son and heir to Sir Edward Coke, the Lord Chief Justice, and a son George, who afterwards succeeded to the title and estates.
Henry lord Berkeley died at Callowden, aged 80 years, in 1613. He is buried in the mausoleum at Berkeley, under a fine altar tomb bearing the figures of himself and his first wife, the lady Katherine, the resemblances of which, Mr. Smyth, who knew and served them both many years, says are perfect.