Sir Francis Eure (d. 1617)
SIR FRANCIS EURE
The 3rd Baron Eure’s younger brother Sir Francis Eure served as Chief Justice in North Wales and was the father of Sir Sampson Eure. His date of birth is unknown but is thought to have been in the early part of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.
Sir Francis was the first known lessee of Upper Heyford Manor on the east bank of Oxfordshire’s River Cherwell, some six miles north-west of Bicester. During his lifetime, he also purchased ‘six small messuages and dwelling houses’ on William Street in Oswestry, Shropshire, which ‘he intended should ever remain and be for the dwelling and habitation of six poor people of the said town’. These almshouses were later maintained by the Ormsby-Gore family.
THE LENNARD DFAMILY
His first wife Elizabeth was a daughter of John Lennard (1508-1590) of Chevening House, Sevenoaks, Kent. When Mount Ievers was constructed in County Clare in the 1730s, the design was based on that of Chevening, although those inspirational designs were actually for a different, later house at Chevening to the one in which Elizabeth Eure grew up.
The Lennards are believed to have been at Chevening since at least the reign of Henry II. Elizabeth’s father was a successful Lincoln’s Inn lawyer who obtained the office of prothonotary, or principal clerk, at the Court of the Common Pleas in 1546, the 37th and final year of Henry VIII’s turbulent reign. Five years later, presumably laden with wealth from his legal wrangling, he acquired Chevening, the manor where his descendants would live for the next eight generations. John later served as Elizabeth I’s Sheriff of Kent in 1570.
When John Lennard passed away in 1590, he was buried in Chevening church, beneath a sumptuous tomb of alabaster bedecked with the figures of himself and his wife Elizabeth, who lies with him. Elizabeth was a daughter of William Harman, of Elham, in Crayford.
John Lennard was succeeded at Chevening by his eldest son Sampson Lennard (1544-1615), High Sheriff of Kent (1590), while his younger son Sir Samuel Lennard was ancestor to the Lennard baronets of West Wickham.[iii] Sampson Lennard was a member of the Virginia Company. He was married, in his father’s lifetime, to Margaret Fiennes, sister and heiress of the phenomenally wealthy Gregory Fiennes (or Fynes), 4th Lord Dacre of the South. Margaret was described in Camden’s Brittania as ‘a person of extraordinary worth & civility’. As a wedding present, John Lennard gave them the manor and park of Knole, near Sevenoaks, where they afterwards resided.
LORD DACRE & CHEVENING
When Lord Dacre died without issue in 1594, his sister Margaret Lennard not only inherited his great fortune but also became entitled to the barony of Dacre. As such, her eldest son Sir Henry Lennard, knighted by the Earl of Essex for his role in the capture of Cadiz in 1596, became Lord Dacre of the South on Margaret’s death in 1611. Sir Hugh’s son Richard Lennard, Lord Dacre, oversaw the construction of the present main block of Chevening House between 1615 and 1630 to a design attributed to Inigo Jones. It seems likely that Sir Francis Eure, Lady Elizabeth and their son Sampson would have visited ‘Cousin Richard’ at Chevening during or after its construction. The property was sold to James, Earl Stanhope, in 1717.
LADY EURE’S SIBLINGS
Lady Elizabeth Eure’s sister Mary Lennard (1561-1620) was married twice. Her first husband Guildford Walsingham (1555-1584) of Chiselhurst, Kent, was a son of Sir Thomas Walsingham and a cousin of the Elizabethan spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham. In 1587, she was married secondly to Sir Thomas Gresham of Limpsfield, Surrey, with whom she had ten children. Sir Thomas was a kinsman and heir of another Sir Thomas Gresham, the famous Elizabethan merchant and financial wizard.
Lady Elizabeth Eure’s sister Rachel married Edward Neville of Birling, Kent, who became Lord Bergavenny in 1604. Three of their younger sons drowned off Gravesend in March 1616. Lord Bergavenny died during an intense cold spell in December 1622.
Lady Elizabeth Eure’s sister Anne married Sir Marmaduke Darrell of Fulmer, Berkshire, who, like Sampson Lennard, was a member of the Virginia Company. He served in the household of Queen Elizabeth I and later as cofferer to both James I and Charles I. he died in 1631 and an inscription on his tombstone in Fulmer adds: ‘He was favoured by all these renowned Princes and employed in matters of great trust for ye space of fifty yeares, in all which he acquitted himselfe with Creditt and Commendation.’
Lady Elizabeth Eure’s sister Timothea married Sir Walter Covert of Slougham, Sussex, who was also a member of the Virginia Company. He is noted in the archives for attempting to halt piratical activity along the English coast.
[Image of John Lennard’s tomb here – http://www.flickr.com/photos/l2f1/4894785575/sizes/o/in/photostream/] [Image of Chevening here – http://www.british-history.ac.uk/image.aspx?compid=62845&filename=fig3.gif&pubid= 417]
THE CHILDREN OF SIR FRANCIS & LADY EURE
Sir Francis and Lady Elizabeth Eure had at least three sons and a daughter. Their eldest son Horatio Eure of Gray’s Inn, Chipping Norton, was owner of a moiety of Atton and lived at Easby in Yorkshire. He married Deborah Brett, daughter (or possibly granddaughter) of Sir John Brett, MP, of Romney Marsh, Kent, by his wife Margaret, a daughter of London brewer Henry Robinson. Horatio and Deborah were the parents of both the 6th and 7th Barons Eure, as well as Sampson Eure, draper, of Cheapside. Horatio died on 9th January 1636 aged 46 and was buried at Stokesley.
Sir Francis and Lady Elizabeth’s second son was William Eure, of whom we know no more, but it is possible that the Ievers family descend from him.
Their third son was Sir Sampson Eure, of whom we treat in the next chapter.
Sir Francis and Lady Elizabeth’s only daughter Frances Eure married John Harborne (1582–1651), a wealthy London merchant, who built a new mansion at Tackley in Oxfordshire in about 1617. A large memorial to the Harborne family stands in Tackley Church to this day.
ELLIN OWEN & THE MAURICE CONNECTION
After Lady Elizabeth’s death, Sir Francis was married secondly to Ellin Owen (1578-1626), the rich widow of John Owen of Bodsilin, Anglesey. Her late husband had served as secretary to Sir Francis Walsingham (1533-1590), the Elizabethan statesman and spymaster. Owen was presumably diligently seated at his desk while his master was busy executing Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1587, and trying to second-guess the Spanish Armada in 1588.
In ‘The Royal Tribes of Wales’ (1799), the author Richard York states that John Owen was the ‘fourth son of Robert Owen, of Bodsilin, of the Tribe of Hwfa ab Cynddelw’ and that he ‘made a fortune of ten thousand pounds, when his great master [ie: Walsingham] left not wherewith to bury him.’[vi] John Owen also served variously as deputy mayor and constable of Caernarvon Castle and as MP for Carnarvon in 1597.[vii] In 1601, he tried unsuccessfully to secure a post as secretary to Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury.
Dame Ellin’s father William Wynne Maurice died when she was young. As such, she and her sister Margaret were co-heiresses of their grandfather, the influential Welsh politician Sir William Maurice (1552-1622), of Clennenau (Clenneney), near Dolbenmaen, Carnarvonshire. Sir William, sometime MP for Beaumaris and Carnarvonshire, was one of the principal architects of the Jacobean union of the English, Welsh and Scottish crowns following the death of Queen Elizabeth. He became a close personal friend of King James I and is credited with persuading the Scottish monarch to assume the title ‘King of Great Britain’. In return for his loyalty, the king knighted him at Whitehall on 23rd July 1603.
John and Ellin Owen had three sons, John, William and Maurice, and five daughters, before John’s death in March 1613. Their eldest son Colonel Sir John Owen (1600-1666), Vice-Admiral of North Wales, would have been Sir Sampson Eure’s stepbrother. A staunch Royalist, he was knighted by Charles I for his loyalty to the House of Stuart. He distinguished himself at the siege of Bristol, when the city was taken by Prince Rupert, and was badly wounded in the face during the action. In 1648 he raised a regiment of infantry and cavalry and set out to meet a Parliamentary army at Dalar Hir, near Wig, east of Bangor. During the battle, Sir John was dragged from his horse and taken prisoner. Disheartened by his capture, his troops fled. He was taken to Windsor Castle and put on trial along with the Duke of Hamilton and the Earls of Holland, Goring and Capel. Sentenced to be beheaded, he was later pardoned, and returned to live with his dogs and hawks at Clennenau, where he died in 1666.
Another of Sir Sampson Eure’s stepbrothers was Colonel William Owen (1607-1670) of Porkington who defended Harlech Castle on Charles I’s behalf.
Sir Francis and Dame Ellin had one son, Compton Eure, who was baptized on 15th February 1617 at Selatyn, Shropshire. As Sir Francis died that same year, Sampson Eure was made guardian of his half-brother. Meanwhile, Sampson’s stepmother, Dame Ellin, now a widow for the second time, returned to live with her elderly grandfather Sir William Maurice at Clenennau.
Compton would have been eight years old when his mother died in 1626, aged 48, just four years after her grandfather. Educated at Merchant Taylor’s School, Compton was later admitted to Gray’s Inn, London, in 1635, where he was a reader.[ix] It is not known when he died but he appears to have been still living in 1660. According to the Merchant Taylor’s School register, he decessit sine prole (ie: died without issue).
One wonders was he connected to the ill-fated Lieutenant Compton Evers who, after his failure to take communion at a church service in the summer of 1640, was deemed to be a dastardly Catholic and brutally murdered by his own Devonshire troops. ‘Suspected of being a Papist and for that cause, and noe other’, the luckless officer was dragged out of his chambers and down stairs to the street of Wellington, Somerset, where he was beaten with swords, cudgels and staves until he was dead. The murderers then robbed his corpse of all possessions before it was taken to a nearby inn. On 24th July 1640, Charles I issued a proclamation ‘for the apprehending and punishing of the late Mutineers of Wellington’. A massive manhunt ensued, resulting in the arrest of 140 soldiers.