Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Aston, Walter

709544Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 02 — Aston, Walter1885Samuel Rawson Gardiner

ASTON, WALTER, Baron Aston of Forfar (1584–1639), ambassador, was the eldest son of Sir Edward Aston, of Tixall in Staffordshire, whose rental has been estimated at 10,000l., so that he must have been one of the richest men in England. Walter was one of the knights of the Bath, created at the coronation of James I, and was one of the first baronets. He was sent as ambassador to Spain in 1620, where he remained till diplomatic relations between Spain and England were broken off at the beginning of 1625. James I did not, however, repose sufficient confidence in him to entrust him with the delicate negotiations relating to the Palatinate and the marriage treaty, and in 1622 he was overshadowed by Lord Digby, who at the end of that year became Earl of Bristol, and was appointed extraordinary ambassador to conduct those negotiations. When Prince Charles and Buckingham were in Spain, he gained their confidence by expressing a strong opinion, in opposition to Bristol, against the Spanish proposals for securing the Palatinate to the family of the elector palatine by educating the two eldest sons at the emperor's court. Charles took a liking to him probably on this ground, and in his subsequent letters always addressed him as 'Honest Wat.' In 1627 he created him Lord Aston of Forfar, in the Scottish peerage. From 1635 to 1638 he again served as ambassador in Spain. Shortly after his return he died, on Aug. 13, 1639. He is well known in literary history as the patron of Drayton. His wife was Gertrude Sadler, granddaughter of the Sir Ralph Sadler who played a part in politics in the reign of Henry VIII and his successors.

[Douglas, Peerage of Scotland; MSS., Despatches; State Papers, Spain.]

S. R. G.