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OSBORNE, PETER (1521–1592), keeper of the privy purse to Edward VI, second son of Richard Osborne of Tyld Hall, Lachingdon, Essex, by Elizabeth Coke, was born in 1521. A tradition says that this family of Osborne came from the north of England, but as early as 1442 Peter Osborne was settled at Purleigh in Essex, and Peter Osborne, born in 1521, was his great-grandson. His eldest brother, John Osborne, left a son, through whom the inheritance was conveyed to females. Peter Osborne was educated at Cambridge, where he probably did not graduate. He entered at Lincoln's Inn, was called to the bar, but entered official life in July 1551, when he obtained the clerkship of the faculties for life. He was a strong supporter of the Reformation, and a great friend of the leading reformers, notably Sir. John Cheke [q. v.], and hence was promoted. About Christmas 1551-2 he obtained the office of keeper of the privy purse to the king; he also received a grant of the office of remembrance of the lord-treasurer in the exchequer in 1553. In Mary's reign he is said to have been in prison, but he was presumably at large in 1557, as Sir John Cheke died in his house in Wood Street, London, in that year. Under Elizabeth he was very busily engaged in financial affairs. He was occupied in minting in 1560, and in the same year was granted the manor of South Fambridge, Essex. He was made an ecclesiastical commissioner as early as 1566, and sat in parliament as member for Horsham, Sussex, 1562-3; for Plympton, Devonshire, 1572; for Aldeburgh, Suffolk, 1584 and 1586; and for Westminster, 1588. A letter recommending him as a suitable person to be elected is preserved at Bridport. He removed early in Elizabeth's reign from Wood Street to Ivy Lane. Osborne appears to have passed for an authority upon commercial matters. At one time he recommended the incorporation of the merchants trading to Spain; he was a deputy-governor of the corporation of mineral and battery works established in 1568; in 1573 he was a commissioner to settle disputes with Portugal. He was also one of the executors of Archbishop Parker. His knowledge of law probably led to his appointment on the commission of oyer and terminer under which John Felton was tried in 1570; the same year he was an assistant-governor of Lincoln's Inn.

Osborne died 7 June 1592. and was buried in the church of St. Faith under St. Paul, where an inscription was placed to his memory. His portrait is said to be at Chicksands, Bedfordshire. He married Anne daughter of Dr. John Blythe, the first Regius professor of physic in the university of Cambridge, and niece to Sir John Cheke. By her he had eleven sons and eleven daughters. His widow died in 1615. and a note as to those who were present at her funeral preserved in Cotton MS. Vesp. C. xiv. f. 196. Osborne designed to publish 'A Collection of all the Statutes. Letters Patent. Charters, and Privileges subsequent to the Third of Henry III' which concerned commercial affairs, but it never appeared. Various letters by him are preserved; some at Hatfield House, some in the Public Record Office, and one at Loseley, Surrey, among the manuscripts of W. M. Molyneux, esq. Many opinions which he delivered to Lord Burghley and others, chiefly upon commercial questions, are preserved among the Lansdowne MSS. xi. 17, &c.

Peter Osborne may be regarded as the founder of the fortunes of his family. His eldest son. Sir John Osborne (1552-1628), enjoyed his father's place in the exchequer, and was also a commissioner of the navy, He was knighted on 1 Feb. 1618-19, and died 2 Nov. 1628, being buried at Campton Church, Bedfordshire, where a tablet to his memory still remains. Sir John Osborne purchased of Richard Snow before 1600 Chicksands Priory, in Bedfordshire, which has since his time been the family seat. He had married Dorothy, daughter and coheiress of Richard Barlee of Essingham Hall, Essex; she was a lady of the privy chamber to Queen Anne of Denmark, and by her he had five sons and one daughter. Francis, the youngest son, is separately noticed.

Sir John's eldest son, Sir Peter Osborne (1584–1653), was knighted 7 Jan. 1610–11, and duly held the family place at the exchequer; but having married Dorothy, daughter of Sir John Danvers, and sister to Henry Danvers, earl of Danby [q. v.] , he was by the influence of her family made lieutenant-governor of Guernsey in 1621, and about the same time secured a grant of the governorship in reversion on the death of the Earl of Danby. He was elected member of parliament for Corfe Castle, Dorset, in the parliaments of 1623–4 and 1625. In view of the needs of the war in the beginning of Charles I's reign, it was decided to strengthen the Channel Islands, and Osborne took two hundred men to Guernsey in 1627 (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. i. 315–6). The fear of a French invasion led to a further reinforcement under Danby in 1629, when Heylyn visited the islands and wrote his ‘Survey.’ On the outbreak of the civil war, while the island of Guernsey in general declared for the parliament, Castle Cornet, the chief fortress in the island, was held for the king, and there Sir Peter Osborne stood a series of sieges for several years. He had indirectly, however, done the king's cause considerable harm in the island, as the inhabitants had to pay for the soldiers he had brought over in 1627, and in 1628 he had attempted to enforce martial law. Active operations against the castle began in March 1643; but early in 1646 Charles, prince of Wales, came to the Channel Islands, and, probably owing to the influence of Sir George Carteret, Osborne surrendered the governorship the same year to Sir Baldwin Wake, and left for England. It is quite possible that the Richard Osborne who was engaged in the plot of 1648 to release Charles I from Carisbrooke Castle was Sir Peter Osborne's brother Richard. Sir Peter seems to have at once gone abroad. His estate was sequestered, and the proceedings in respect of the compositions to be paid in 1649 show that he was a rich man (Cal. of Committee for Advance of Money, ii. 1140; Cal. of the Committee for Compounding, 1647–50, p. 1974). They also show that he was engaged in family disputes as to his property. He died in 1653. By his wife Dorothy Danvers (1590–1650) he had eight sons and four daughters. One of his daughters, Dorothy, married Sir William Temple [q. v.], and is well known by her charming ‘Letters,’ which were edited by his Honour Judge Parry in 1888. His eldest son, Sir John Osborne (1615–1698), had a new grant of the office of remembrancer to the lord-treasurer, was a gentleman of the privy chamber to Charles II, was created a baronet 11 Feb. 1660–1, and died 5 Feb. 1698, leaving a son Henry, who is noticed separately.

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 125; Bentham's Baronetage, ii. 150, &c.; Literary Remains of Edw. VI (Roxburghe Club), pp. 459–61; Acts of the Privy Council, 1550–75; Cal. of State Papers, Dom. 1547–80, p. 164; Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 216, 6th Rep. p. 497, 7th Rep. p. 628; Gardiner's Hist. of the Great Civil War, iv. 92; Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion, ed. Macray, iv. 456; Tupper's Hist. of Guernsey, and Chron. of Castle Cornet; Hoskins's Charles II in the Channel Islands; Letters from Dorothy Osborne, ed. E. A. Parry, 1888; art. by his Honour Judge Parry in Atlantic Monthly, May 1890.]

W. A. J. A.