Danvers, Charles (DNB00)

DANVERS, Sir CHARLES (1568?–1601), soldier and actor in Essex's rebellion of 1601, was eldest son of Sir John Danvers of Dauntsey, Wiltshire, by Elizabeth, fourth daughter and coheiress of John Nevill, last baron Latimer. His two younger brothers, Henry and John, are separately noticed. Charles was probably born about 1568. As early as 1584 he had commenced a continen- tal tour, and wrote to thank Walsingham for giving him permission to leave England (Cal State Papers, Add. 1580-1625, p. 119). Like many other youths of good family he served under Lord Willoughby [cf. Bertie, Peregrine, in the Netherlands, and was knighted by his commander in 1588 (Metcalfe, Knights, 137). On 16 June 1590 he, with Sir Charles Blount [q.v.], was created M.A. at Oxford (Wood, Fasti Oxon. i. 250). A local dispute in Wiltshire proved a disastrous turning in his career. The accounts vary in detail [see under Danvers, Henry]. According to the best authenticated report in the 'State Papers,' Sir Walter Long and his brother Henry, neighbours of the Danverses, had been committed to prison on a charge of theft by Sir John Danvers, Charles's father, who died in 1593. To avenge this insult the Longs killed one of the Danvers's servants, and liberally abused all the Danvers, and especially Sir Charles. Henry Long finally challenged Sir Charles Danvers, and in a subsequent encounter was killed by Sir Charles's brother Henry. Henry Wriothesley, third earl of Southampton, permitted both brothers to take temporary refuge in his house at Whitley Lodge, near Titchfield, Hampshire. Henceforth Charles was 'exceedingly devoted to the Earl of Southampton upon affection begun first upon the deserving of the same earl towards him when he was in trouble about the murder of one Long' (Bacon, Declaration). Charles and Henry were subsequently outlawed, and took refuge in France. Henry IV received them kindly, and interceded with Elizabeth in their behalf, but to little immediate purpose. Charles was also friendly with Sir Thomas Edmondes, the English ambassador at Paris, and constantly petitioned Sir Robert Cecil to procure the reversal of the order of banishment. The Earl of Shrewsbury met the exiled brothers at Rouen in October 1596, and applauded their soldierly bearing in a note to Cecil. On 30 June 1598 they were pardoned, and in August were again in England. In 1599 Charles Danvers was given a colonel's commission in the army that accompanied Essex to Ireland. He was wounded m an early engagement (July) and had few opportunities of displaying military capacity, but his intimacy with Southampton was renewed at Dublin, and Essex treated him with consideration. He returned to London with Essex in September 1599, and was in frequent communication with the earl during his subsequent imprisonment. He was staying with Charles Blount, lord Mountjoy [q. v.], at Wanstead, in September 1599, and on 26 April 1600 he was with Southampton at Coventry. In October 1600 at the request of Henry Cuffe [q. v.], Essex's secretary, he took part in the conferences among Essex's friends regarding the best means of restoring the earl to the queen's favour.

Drury House, where Essex's partisans met regularly in the winter of 1600, belonged to the Earl of Southampton, and Danvers seems to have lodged there at the end of 1600 with a view to aiding the more effectively in the secret negotiations. His friend, Sir Christopher Blount, easily induced him to vote for a forcible insurrection, by which the queen and her palace should be placed at Essex's disposal. On Saturday, 7 Feb. 1600-1, when the details of the rising were finally determined, Danvers was entrusted with the part of seizing the presence-chamber and 'the halberds of the guard' at Whitehall. On the following day the attempt was made to raise the city in rebellion, and failed miserably. Danvers was carried prisoner to the Tower, made a full confession on 18 Feb. 1600-1, and signed a declaration setting forth all he knew of Essex's secret negotiations with Scotland (Correspondence of James VI and Cecil, Camd. Soc. p. 100). He was tried with Cuffe and others on 5 March, admitted his guilt, and was beheaded on Tower Hill together with Blount on 18 March. He was buried in the Tower church. It was generally admitted that Danvers's intimacy with Southampton had led him into the conspiracy. He confessed on the scaffold to a special hatred of Lord Grey, merely on the ground that Grey was 'ill-affected to Southampton.' Danvers's large property in Wiltshire was escheated, but in July 1603 his brother Henry was declared heir by James I (cf. MS. State Papers, Dom., 1603, cclxxxvii. 41-3).

[Burke's Extinct Peerage; State Paper Calendars (Dom.), 1588-1601; Lodge's Illustrations, iii. 78-9; Spedding's Life of Bacon, ii. passim; Bacon's Declaration of the Treasons (1601); Collins's Sidney Papers, ii.]

S. L. L.