Osborne, Thomas (1631-1712) (DNB00)
OSBORNE, Sir THOMAS, successively first Earl of Danby, Marquis of Carmathen, and Duke of Leeds (1631–1712), was son of Sir Edward Osborne of Kiveton, Yorkshire, by his second marriage. The father, who was baptised at St. Benet's, Gracechurch Street, London. 12 Dec 1590, was grandson of Sir Edward Osborne [q. v.], the well-known lord mayor of London. Created a baronet 12 July 1620, he was made vice-president of the council of the north in 1629. 'I find your vice-president,' Sir John Coke wrote to Strafford 11 June 1623, 'a young man of good understanding and counsellable, and very forward to promote his majesty's service' (Strafford Papers, i. 81). In 1631 Wentworth himself described Sir Edward as 'a noble gentleman' (ib. p. 441), and thenceforth treated him as an unwaveringly faithful friend. In 1639 he strongly urged Osborne to visit him In Ireland. In 1639 and 1640 Osborne was at Berwick or Newcastle superintending the despatch of troops to the border to take part in the threatened war with the Scots (ib. p. 41l). He was subsequently appointed lieutenant-general of the royalist forces raised at York. Twenty-one of his official letters, dating between 1633 and 1640, are at Melbourne Hall, Derbyshire, the seat of Lord Cowper (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. pt, ii, passim), He died 9 Sept. 1647. His first wife (d. 1624) was Margaret, daughter of Thomas Belasyse, viscount Fauconberg, His second wife was Anne, widow of William Midelton of Stockeld, Yorkshire, and second daughter of Thomos Walmesley of Dunkenhalgh, Lancashire. The second Lady Osborne's mother, Elizabeth Danvers, was descended in the female line from John Neville, fourth and last baron Latimer [see under Neville, John, third Baron Latimer], and was sister of Henry Danvers, earl of Danby [q. v.] The second Lady Osborne survived Sir Edward, and was buried at Hart Hill. Yorkshire, 20 Aug. 1660. By his first wife Osborne had a son Edward, who was killed by the fall of some chimneys at his father's residence at York, on 1 Oct. 1638 (Strafford Papers, i. 231-2, 251, 265). Thomas, the issue of the second marriage, thus became the heir (cf. Foster, Yorkshire Pedigrees).
Thomas, born in 1631, was brought up in the country, chiefly at Kiveton, and shared us a boy his father's strong royalist sentiment. He succeeded to the baronetcy and to the family estates in Yorkshire on his father's death in 1647. He did not attend any university, but some part of his youth he spent in Paris, and be was frequently entertained there by Sir Richard Browne, the English ambassador, with whose son-in-law, John Evelyn, the diarist, he thus became 'intimately acquainted' (Evelyn, Diary, ii.392). In 1652 he was in London, paying formal addresses to a distant cousin Dorothy, daughter of Sir Peter Osborne of Chicksands Priory, Bedfordshire [see under Osborne, Peter]. The young lady, subsequently wife of Sir William Temple [q. v.], scorned his advances, and next year he married Lady Bridget Bertie, daughter of the Earl of Lindsey (cf. Dorothy Osborne, Letters, ed. Parry, pp. 30, 90, 127). On returning to his home in Yorkshire he fell under the influence of a neighbour, George Villiers. second duke of Buckingham, his senior by three years. After the Restoration Buckingham brought him to court, and he zealously identified himself with his patron's interests. In 1661 he served as high sheriff of Yorkshire, and in 1665 definitely adopted a political career on being elected M.P. for York. Joining the party of 'high cavaliers,' he readily aided Buckingham and his friends in their attack on Lord-chancellor Clarendon, and his active hostility to that minister proved the 'first step to his future rise' (Reresby, p. 78). Plausible in speech, sanguine in temper, although still' in manner, be displayed sufficient business aptitude to warrant his nomination as member of a committee to examine the public accounts in April 1667. Buckingham, however, deemed him worthy of higher responsibilities, and when Arthur Annesley, first earl of Anglesey, was suspended from the office of treasurer of the navy in 1668, the king, on Buckingham's recommendation, conferred the vacant post jointly on Osborne and Sir Thomas Lyttelton (Pepys, Diary, iv. 41). On 5 Nov. the two new treasurers kissed the king's hand, and Charles genially expressed his confidence that he would be safe in their hands. On the same day Pepys saw Osborne for the first time, and noted that he was 'a comely' gentleman ' (ib. iv. 47). In September 1671 Osborne quarrelled with his coadjutor on some official detail. The matter was brought to the notice of the council. Lyttelton was dismissed, and Osborne was reappointed sole treasurer of the navy (Hatton Correspondence, ii. 61-71). On 2 Feb. 1673 he was created Viscount Osborne of Dunblane in the Scottish peerage, and on 3 May 1673 he became a privy councillor. But a greater dignity was in store for him. Next month Clifford, the lord treasurer and chief of the Cabal ministry, was forced to resign. Buckingham pointed to Osborne as his successor, and the suggestion was adopted by the king. Accordingly, on 19 June 1673, Osborne became lord high treasurer of England and chief minister of Charles II. On 16 Aug. he was made Baron Osborne of Kiveton and Viscount Latimer of Danby in the English peerage, whereupon he resigned his Scottish title to his son Peregrine, he selected the title of Lord Latimer on account of his mother's dosoont from John Neville, fourth lord Latimer, who died in 1577. 'There was some grumbling at his choice amongst the ducal Family of Northumberland,' whose subordinate honours included the same title (Letters to Sir Joseph Williamson, pp. 63, 157). On 17 June 1674 he was promoted to an Earldom, naming himself Earl of Danby, after the estate of Danby (in Cleveland) which was formerly a possession of the baronial family of Latimer, and had already given a title to his granduncle, Henry Danvers (Ord, Cleveland, p. 330). In the same year he was made lord lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire and a Scottish privy councillor. In 1()77 he was created K. G. Soon after receiving the treasurer's office, he acquired Wimbledon House, Surrey, of George, lord Digby, and spent all his leisure there, living in considerable state.
For the live years from 1673 to the end of 1678, during which Danhy remained lord treasurer, the government of the country lay mainly in his hands. Accepting without question the standard of morals recognised by all contemporary politicians, he endeavoured to keep the House of Commons in subjection by a liberal administration bribes. But according to Burnet, he unwisely confined his gifts of corruption to the less prominent members of parliament. He certainly gathered about him men of small capacity, and lived in a jealous fear that if he extended his patronage to persons of genuine ability, they might depress his influence by 'gaining too much credit with the king.' With Lauderdale, almost alone among the eminent politicians of the day, did he maintain confidential relations, and he apparently made it his ambition to emulate Lauderdale's despotic methods of rule (Lauderdale Correspondence, iii. 126; cf. Dialogue between Lauderdale and Danby, 1680? in Roxhurghe Ballads, iv. 91). At the same time he endeavoured to improve his own financial prospects by none too scrupulous methods. He was not a rich man. In 1669 it was said that he had less than 1,200l. a year, and that his debts exceeded 10,000l. (Pepys). He was obviously in embarrassed circumstances on becoming treasurer. According to Reresby, he made a corrupt bargain with Buckingham by which he undertook to pay his predecessor, Clifford, half his salary. Another authority states that he was to give Clifford 4,000l. a year (Letters to Williamson, p. 48). His wife was reported to encourage him in his love of money, and soon drove, with 'his participation and concurrence,' a private trade in offices, after the manner of Elizabeth, duchess of Lauderdale [see Murray, Elizabeth] (Rekesby ; Henry Sidney's Diary, ed. Blencowe, i. 6; Marvell, Works, ed. Aitken, vol. ii.)
But although 'greedy of wealth and honours, corrupt himself, and a corrupter of others,' Danby did not wholly lack political principle. He took for granted, like all the old cavaliers, that the country demanded an absolute monarch. But as a zealous protestant, he declined all conciliatory relations with the church of Home; nor was he less anxious to counteract the aggrandisement of France, and secure for England an influential place in the councils of Europe. He wished, too, to maintain the country's financial credit, and to pay public creditors with regularity. Somewhat similar aims had been expressed in a book called 'The present Interest of England Stated' (1672), and another anonymous pamphleteer had thereupon issued 'A Letter to Sir Thomas Osborn . . . upon the reading of [that book].' Osborne was there credited with an anxiety to render English trade more extensive than that of any other nation.
As the minister of Charles II, Danby could not act with a free hand, and much diplomacy on his part was needed to give effect to any of his views. One of his first efforts at domestic legislation met with egregious defeat. In 1675 he offered to the lords a bill providing that no person should hold office or sit in either house without declaring on oath that he considered resistance to the kingly power criminal, and would never endeavour to alter the government of either church or state. It was an impolitic and useless endeavour to protect the established constitution, and is said to have been suggested to Danby by his friend the Duke of Lauderdale. Danby apparently regarded the measure merely as a weapon for attacking both catholics and dissenters. The opposition, led by Shaftesbury, took every advantage of the dissenters' grievances, and Danby, bowing before the storm which the bill raised among them under Shaftesbury's astute guidance, suffered it to drop. To propitiate the prelates, he, however, encouraged during 1676 a renewal of the persecution of the dissenters and catholics under the existing laws. The Cabal ministry had encouraged toleration, and Charles II manifested a reluctance to accept an intolerant policy. In the hope of meeting the royal scruples, Danby directed each bishop to prepare a census of papists and nonconformists in his diocese. Danby believed that the king might thus be convinced that the numbers of those opposed to the established church were not formidable, and that their suppression could be undertaken without exciting any widespread commotion (Duke of Leeds' MSS. in Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. pt. vii. pp. 14 sq.) During 1677 Danby declared openly, Burnet says, against popery in all companies, and his nomination of Compton to the see of London and of Sancroft to Canterbury was viewed as a practical confirmation of his spoken opinions.
In foreign politics one of Danby's earliest schemes was aimed at the predominance of France. In 1674 he brought the war with the Dutch to a close, and laid the foundation of peace. In 1675 the proposal to marry Mary, the Duke of York's daughter, to William of Orange was first suggested. Charles at once assented; the duke was reluctant to sanction the arrangement, but Danby supported the match with enthusiasm, and by his persistency brought it to fruition. In October 1677 William came to England: Charles and James both urged a postponement of the marriage negotiation until at least the treaty of Nimeguen was signed; but Danby firmly contended with William that there was no just cause for delay, and the wedding took place on 21 Oct. 1677.
Louis XIV resented the union, and regarded Danby's conduct in pressing it forward as seriously imperilling his position in Europe. But the French monarch knew that Charles II was pliable, and that the control of foreign politics was always to a large extent under the king's personal direction. Against his better judgment Danby, too, had money by Charles II from France as the price of England's neutrality in the wars in which Louis XIV was embarked. He disliked the proceeding, but could continue in office on no other condition than that of according it a tacit favour. In the beginning of 1676 he and Lauderdale were parties to a formal treaty between the two kings, by which they bound themselves not to make any further diplomatic arrangement with a foreign power except by mutual consent; and Charles promised, in consideration of a pension, to prorogue or dissolve parliament if any attempt were made to force other treaties on him (Dalrymple, p. 99). Danby did what he could to render this engagement nugatory. But by the king's orders he pressed the French cabinet for the promised bribes, and 200,000l. was paid. The perilous negotiation was kept secret. But in January 1677-8 Charles II desired Danby to repeat it on a bolder scale. The opposition to the government in parliament was gaining strength. The king was in pressing want of money. Throughout England the jealousy of France was growing, and war seemed inevitable. Charles, with habitual cynicism, determined to turn the situation to his personal profit, and directed Danby to inform Ralph Montagu (afterwards duke of Montagu) [q. v.], the English ambassador in Paris, that Louis could only secure peace by paying the king of England six million livres a year for three years. Danby obeyed, and the royal commands were forwarded to Montagu in letters dated 17 Jan. 1677-8 and 25 March 1678. To each letter the king added a postscript in his own hand-writing, 'I aproue of this letter, C.R.' Danby judiciously bade Montagu take all possible care 'to leave this whole negotiation as private as possible for fear of giving offence at home.' At a later date he asserted that he had no fear of any personal danger in making the corrupt proposal to Louis, because he wrote 'by the king's command upon the subject of peace and war, wherein his Majesty alone is at all times sole judge, and ought to be obeyed not only by ministers of state, but by all his subjects.'
The perfidy of the transaction was unmistakable. Five days before the second letter was despatched an act of parliament had passed under Danby's auspices authorising the raising of money to carry on war with France.
Montagu was under no obligation to protect the minister from the consequences of a betrayal of the secret negotiation. He had no personal liking for Danby, who combined with 'his excellent natural parts' (according to Evelyn) no sense of generosity or gratitude (Evelyn, Diary, ii. 293). When, therefore, Montagu invited his influence to secure for him the post of secretary of state, Danby manifested an unwillingness to aid him. Soon after Montagu received Danby's letters, he moreover, involved himself in a personal quarrel with the king's former mistress, the Duchess of Cleveland. Dismissal from office followed, and Montagu, crediting Danby with responsibility for his misfortunes, flung himself into the arms of the opposition. He easily convinced Barillon, the French ambassador in London, that Danby was at heart an enemy of France, and that Louis XIV would benefit by his downfall, which he, if subsidised, could bring about. A liberal sum of money was at once placed by Barillon at Montagu's disposal, and Montagu obtained a seat in parliament, in order to carry out his part of the bargain. Danby, who suspected his intentions, tried to foil them by issuing an order in council early in December 1678 for the seizure of all Montagu's papers. But he had lost control of the House of Commons, and it was at once voted, contrary to his wish, that the sequestered papers should be examined at Westminster. On 20 Dec. Montagu moved that the two incriminating documents sent him by Danby early in the year should be read by the speaker, as 'he conceived they might tend very much to the safety of his majesty's person, and the preservation of the Kingdom.' The king's postscripts were not read, and the house at once resolved that the correspondence supplied sufficient matter for an impeachment. Next day articles impeaching the lord treasurer were drawn up.
The commons professed to perceive only the misconduct of the minister. But the king's authority for the despatch of the corrupt letters to Montagu was undeniable, and was evidenced by his own handwriting. The commons, therefore, in impeaching Danby, went a great way towards establishing the principle that no minister can shelter himself behind the throne by pleading obedience to the orders of the sovereign (Hallam). Danby's grave offence sprang from a desire to retain power. Removal and exclusion from office he thoroughly deserved. That a capital charge of treason could be justly reared on the basis of the letters was doubtful. But Danby's personal unpopularity silenced all scruples. According to Burnet, he was 'the most hated minister that had ever been about the king.' Charles himself had no misapprehension on that score, and told him soon after he had become treasurer that he had only two friends in the world — the royal favour and his own merit (Letters to Williamson, p. 64). The king's relations, which had always been friendly, had grown more intimate since the king's natural son, the Earl of Plymouth, married at Wimbledon Danby's daughter Bridget, on 13 July 1678. But it was not in Charles's nature to exert himself in behalf of a threatened minister, especially when the minister was being held up to public execration by pamphleteers and ballad writers. Danby's corrupt practicea, his alleged dependence on his wife, his personal appearance, his bad health, and his pale face were all ridiculed unceasingly in coarse lampoons :
He is as stiff as any stake,
And leaner Dick than any rake ;
Envy is not so pale.
And though by selling of us all
He has wrought himself into Wbitehall
He looks like bird of gaol.
('The Chequer Inn,' State Poems, 1703; cf. Marvell, Poems, ed. Aitken, ii. 2(V)). Lord Mulgrave, afterwards Duke of Buckinghamshire, in his 'Essay on Satyr,' described him as 'that great false jewel,' who was thought exceeding wise 'only for taking pains and telling lies;' while the Earl of Dorset, in his 'Young Statesmen,' 1680), credited Danby with 'matchless impudence.' Dryden, to whom both these poems are often wrongly ascribed, was one of Danby's few literary admirers, and dedicated to him his 'All for Love' in 1678.
The public temper had, moreover, been madly excited since the autumn by the pretended revelations of Titus Gates [q. v.], and was readily disposed to detect in every deviation from public duty some complicity with 'the horrid plot.' Danby's enemies in parliament, in order to expose their victim with certainty to the peril of punishment by death, charged him directly with encouraging the alleged conspiracy. From the first Danby had discredited Oates's story, and that circumstance supplied his enemies with the sole pretence for connecting him with the 'plot.' One of the articles of impeachment, absurdly describing him as 'popishly affected,' I declared that he had 'traitorously concealed the late horrid plot' after he had notice of it. Roger North's contention that he had at first given some countenance to Gates, and soon perceived that he had got a wolf by the ears which he could neither hold nor let go, is not corroborated (North, Lives, ed. Jessopp, i. 211). The other accusations went equally beyond what the circumstances warranted. He was charged with having 'encroached to himself royal powers by treating of matters of peace and war without the knowledge of the council ; 'with having adopted' an arbitrary and tyrannical way of government by designing to raise an army upon pretence of a war with the French, and then to continue the same as a standing army within this kingdom ; 'with having hindered the meeting of parliament ; with having wasted 231,602l. of the king's treasure on needless pensions and secret services; and, finally, with having procured targe gifts for himself. Only on the first and fourth articles, which dealt respectively with his infringement of the royal prerogative and his connection with the pLot, were divisions challenged in the lower house, but both passed by majorities — of forty-two in one case and twenty-four in the
When the articles were read at the bar of the upper house, motions were made not only that the earl should withdraw, but that he be committed to the Tower. Each was negatived by a large majority, and Shaftesbury, with other whig leaders, entered protests in the 'Lords' Journals.' The action of the majority was disputed on the legal ground that no one charged with treason could be admitted to bail; but serious doubt was Witimale as to whether the articles could. In the absence of more precise particulars, be reasonably interpreted to amoiuii to a charge of treason, or whether, on the severest interpretation, Danby's offences could be treated more than his misdemeanours. On 30 Dec. a prorogation of parliament, which won dissolved in January 1679, deferred further action.
In March 1679 a new parliament met. Danby had used all his private influence to return to the House of Commons men favourable to himself. In this effort he failed, and at Lady-day be accordingly resigned his office of lord treasurer. He received from the king a pardon under the great seal, to which the king ordered the seal to be attached in his presence, together with a warrant creating him a marquis, dated 16 March (Addit. MS. 28091, f. 47). Charles, in bidding him farewell, used every expression of good will, and lightly promised that his minister 'should not (are at all the worse for the malicious prosecution of the parliament.' Burnet adds that Dauby left the treasury quite empty. His friends believed that he would take up his post again 'in convient time, or else keep such station near the king as may make him the same omnipotent figure as before, under the disguise of some other name' (Savile Correspondence, p. 76). But 'the hard-hearted commons of England' had no such anticipation. His impeachment was at once revived. Thereupon a question of high constitutional importance was raised by Danby's friends as to whether the impeachment was abated by the dissolution. A committee of privileges, to whom the point was submitted on 11 March 1679, reported, after a careful scrunity of precedents, that the 'dissolution of the parliament doth not alter the state of the impeachment brought up by the commons in that parliament.' When the motion for the earl's committal was made a second time in the House of Lords, it was accented without objection. Meanwhile Danby had left London for Wimbledon, in obedience, he asserted, to the king's wish (Hatton Corresp. i. 185-6). But the lords, perhaps with a view to protecting him from the results of conviction, passed a bill condemning him, us in the case of Clarendon, to banishment unless he surrendered. The commons rejected the bill for his banishment, and substituted a bill of attainder which they hastily passed through all its stages. To prevent worse consequences, Danby thereupon came to London, and surrendered to the usher of the black rod (10 April). He was at once sent to the Tower. A written answer to the charges was demanded of him, and he pleaded the pardon obtained from the king (21 April 1679). Even among his friends such a course was deemed impolitic, because it was clearly a confession of the fact (North, i. 211). the commons straightway resolved that the pardon was illegal and the plea void, and, proceeding to the bar of the House of Lords, demanded that judgment should be passed upon the prisoner. They further denied the right of the bishops to vote on the validity of the king's pardon, and demanded the appointment of a committee of both houses to regulate the further procedure of the impeachment. The peers assented to the appointment of the committee, but declared that the bishops had a right to sit and vote in parliament on capital cases until sentence of death should be pronounced. Before the matter went further parliament was dissolved in July.
No serious attempt was thenceforth made to bring Danby to trial, but for nearly five years he lay a prisoner in the Tower. He was often seriously ill, but, according to Heresby, he bore his misfortunes with remarkable patience and equanimity. His wife and family seem to have had free access to his apartments. On 17 Aug. 1683 William Longueville visited him there, and found him 'pretty well, good company, and temperate in what he said' (Hatton Corresp. iii. 35). On 7 Dec. 1683 Evelyn was received by him with great kindness (Evelyn, Diary, ii. 424).
From the moment of his arrest Oates and his crew had pursued him with unrelenting malignity, and the odium with which the public regarded him increased. Many pamphlets issued in 1679 and 1680 asserted that Oates bad revealed the popish plot to Danby in secret meetings, in obscure parts of London, at an early stage of his alleged discoveries; that Danby had taken no action against the pretended conspirators from a desire to shield them; that his supineness had roused the suspicions of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey [q. v.], and that Danby had consequently plotted Godfrey's murder (cf. Reflections upon the Earl of Danby in relation to Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey's Murder, 1679). His secretary, Edward Christian, issued 'Reflections' rebutting the absurd charges. But the libellous accusation respecting Godfrey continued in circulation for more than two years, and in 1681 Edward Fitzharris [q. v.] attempted to free himself from a charge of treason by concocting a detailed story directly implicating Danby in the murder. On Fitzharris's evidence the Middlesex grand jury indicted Danby in May 1681 for the crime. A few days later Danby petitioned the king in council to arrange for his immediate trial by his peers on the indictment, but no decision was taken. On 3 June 1681 he moved the court of king's bench to take action against the publishers and booksellers who had printed and sold the false evidence brought against him by Fitzharris. These proceedings also proved abortive.
As Oates's credit drooped, the public came to recognise that the charge was a wilful fabrication, and meanwhile Danby made unremitting endeavours to secure his freedom by appeals both to the king and to parliament. He petitioned the parliament meeting at Oxford in 1681 to dismiss the political charges against him, but for a third time a dissolution deprived him of a hearing. On 27 May 1682 he appeared in person before the court of king's bench, and applied for bail. His request was refused, Mr. Justice Raymond alone dissenting, on the ground that the judges were incompetent to meddle in the matter of an impeachment by parliament, which was a court superior to their own. Another application in May 1683 proved equally unsuccessful; but after Jeffreys had become lord chief justice, the court unanimously declared on 12 Feb. 1683–4 that he ought to be admitted to bail, and accordingly he was bound over in 20,000l. to appear before the House of Lords in the succeeding session. The Dukes of Somerset and Albemarle and the Earls of Oxford and Chesterfield became sureties in 5,000l. each, and Danby at length left the Tower. 'He came the same day,' says Reresby, 'to kiss his majesty's hand in the bedchamber, when I happened to be present; and when the earl complained of his long imprisonment, his majesty told him, he [i.e. Danby] knew it was against his consent, which his lordship thankfully acknowledged; but they had no manner of private discourse together.' On 19 May 1685, in the first parliament of James II's reign, Danby appeared at the bar of the House of Lords, and was discharged from his recognisances. At the same time the order of 19 March 1679, authorising the maintenance of an impeachment in the parliament following that in which it was framed, was annulled, and Danby again took his seat among the peers. He at once proved himself an active and powerful member of the tory party.
But before the first year of James II's reign closed Danby found himself in opposition to the government. As a protestant he distrusted the king, and on the dismissal of his friend George Saville, marquis of Halifax, from the presidency of the council (December 1685), he began to speak openly against James's arbitrary acts. He was still remembered as the chief promoter of the marriage of Mary and William of Orange, and was respected at the Hague. Consequently he was sought out by William's agent, Dykvelt, and was easily induced to consider the claims of James's daughter to take James's place on the throne. In September 1687 he attended private conferences between Dykvelt and the chief opponents of James II. In June Dykvelt carried to Holland a letter from Danby boldly favouring William and Mary's pretensions to the English crown. As a leading representative of the tories, he knew that his adherence was of the utmost importance to the party favouring the change of dynasty. The whigs immediately made advances which he received in a friendly spirit, and a formal reconciliation took place between himself and the Earl of Devonshire, one of the managers of his impeachment. His next step was to join the revolutionary conspiracy which Russell and Henry Sidney inaugurated, and he won over Compton to the cause. As one of the seven chiefs of the conspiracy he signed the invitation to William. In November he left London to seize York for the Dutch prince.
When the Revolution was accomplished and James had fled to France, Danby argued that the crown was vacant and had devolved on the Princess of Orange. He offered to form a party in her favour ; but she gave little support to his view, and his whig co-adjutors rejected it. Finally he joined his fellow-actors in the Revolution in urging the House of Lords to agree with the Commons in declaring the throne vacant and the prince and princess king and queen.
Danby did not under-estimate his services to William, and he demanded a rich reward. On 20 April 1689 he was made Marquis of Carmartnen in accordance with a promise which Charles IT had made him, and in commemoration of property in South Wales granted him by that king in 1674 (Harl. MS. 1220, f. 21). He became lord lieuteant of the West Riding (10 May), of the East Riding (21 March 1690), and of the three Ridings (29 Feb. 1691-2). But his chief ambition was to resume that office of treasurer from which he had ignominiously withdrawn in 1679. William, on this point, declined to meet his wishes, and deemed it convenient to appoint him president of the council (February 1689). Danby did not conceal his discontent, which was greatly increased when Lord Halifax, with whom he had quarrelled, was made lord privy seal, Although accepting office, he positively refused for the present to work with Halifax. He seldom presided at the council ; he stayed in the country grumbling and sneering, and thus allowed the power to fall into Halifax's hands. With the whigs, Danby, despite his conciliatory attitude in 1688, was still unpopular, and his introduction into William's cabinet excited a fierce opposition. In June 1689 Howe moved that an address he presented to the king requesting that all persons who had ever been impeached by the commons might be dismissed ; and in July the house was asked, without result, to request the king to remove both Danby and Halifax from his council.
Nevertheless, William's confidence in Carmarthen increased; and in 1690 his position was greatly improved by Halifax's retirement, He continued lord president, but he now became virtually prime minister, and took possession of apartments in St. James's Palace. The whigs were exasperated by his triumph, and he was exposed anew to a fire of the bitterest sarcasm. He was denounced as 'King Thomas,' as 'Tom the Tyrant,' and as 'a thin, ill-natured ghost that haunts the king.' His delicate appearance secured for him the sobriquet or the 'White Marquis' (Hatton Corresp. ii. 149). All members of his family were assailed with invective. In December 1693, when he was recruiting his health at Bath, he was exposed to almost personal violence from a mob of his political enemies. He was declared to be 'anti-English' and a 'Williamite,' and doggerel lampoons were sung under his window at night. But his influence with the king and queen remained unshaken, and by free resort to his earlier practice of bribery he was able to keep parliament in dependence on him. When William left for Ireland in June 1690, Mary was entrusted with the government. Carmarthen and eight others were chosen by the king to advise her, and he was nominated her chief guide. But William was not wholly dependent on his advice. In August, Carmarthen opposed Marlborough's suggestion that a fleet should be sent to Ireland, but the king overruled his decision. In the spring of 1691 his position was strengthened by his activity in proceeding against Lord Preston for participation in a Jacobite plot. In January 1692-3 he acted as lord high steward at the trial of Lord Mohun, and he spent an extravagant sum on the coach and servants' liveries which he deemed suitable to the office (ib. ii. 188). But his position was easily assailable, and power was slipping from his hands. Suspicion spread abroad that he was a secret friend of James II. As early as 1689, according to Reresby, he privately asserted that if King James would but give the country some satisfaction, which he might easily do, it would be very hard to make way against him. Carmarthen's name was mentioned as a sympathiser with the exiled king in a paper written by Melfort- on 16 Oct. 1693 (now among the Nairne manuscripts) ; but the truth seems that, although an attempt was made to win him over, it met with no success. In January 1093, when the place bill, excluding placemen from parliament, was thrown out by the lords, Carmarthen was not in the house. In 1694, however, he supported the triennial bill against the wish of the king, and strongly opposed a bill for regulating trials for treason in the interests of the accused. As some compensation for his anxieties he desired to be made duke of Pontefract, and, although on 4 May 1694 he was created Duke of Leeds, the whigs had then nearly compassed his ruin for a second time.
In April 1695 an inquiry took place into the accounts of the East India Company. It appeared that the Duke of Leeds had received, in 1694, five thousand guineas as the price of securing a new charter for the company. Wharton moved his impeachment, which was carried without a division (27 April). On the same day the duke was heard in his defence in the House of Commons. To receive bribes, he argued, was a custom characteristic of the age since he had been in public life. Proceeding to the House of Lords, he magnified his public services, asserted his innocence, and asked either for a reconsideration of the vote or a speedy trial. A Swiss servant of his, John Robart, who, it was stated, had received the five thousand guineas for his master from the company, fled the country, and a proclamation was issued for his apprehension on 11 May (Luttrell, iii. 470). Without his evidence the commons could not proceed. Leeds thereupon moved, in the House of Lords, that the impeachment should be dismissed, and, although the motion fell to the ground, the proceedings against him were never revived.
Meanwhile, in May 1695 he was told to absent himself from the council (ib. iii. 475). For some months he retired into the country, but he soon returned, and by frequent speeches in parliament sought to regain his position. On 15 Oct. he resumed his place as president of the council (ib. iii. 537). Two days later he accompanied the king on a visit to Newmarket (ib. iii. 538). On 9 Nov. 1695 the university of Oxford showed their confidence in him by making him D.C.L. On 17 Dec. 1695 he became commissioner of a new committee of trade (ib. iii. 562), and on 10 Dec. 1696 governor of the Royal Fishery Company (ib. iv. 150). But although he clung to his salary and his nominal position in the council, he had lost all influence on public affairs. His public life was confined henceforth to occasional participation in the debates of the House of Lords. In the discussion of the attainder of Fenwick, he, with other tories, argued that it was not worth while to seriously proceed against the prisoner, and he took a prominent part in the attack on Monmouth for intriguing with Fenwick's wife [see Mordaunt, Charles, third Earl of Peterborough]. On 23 April 1698 he entertained at Wimbledon the czar, Peter the Great (ib. iv. 371). But in May 1699 he was compelled to relinquish office, and in August he ceased to be lord lieutenant of the three Yorkshire Ridings. On 23 Oct. the king received him with much politeness in private audience (ib. iv. 574). In 1700 a statute (12 & 13 Will. iii. c. 2) was passed, declaring, with obvious reference to his position in earlier years, that a royal pardon was not pleadable in bar of an impeachment.
Despite his great age and increasing bodily infirmities, the duke never relaxed his efforts to recover some of the ground he had lost. In December 1702 he made a fierce personal attack in the House of Lords on Halifax, asserting that his family was 'raised by rebellion.' A duel was anticipated, and Halifax and the duke's son, the Marquis of Carmarthen, were both bound over by the council not to accept a challenge (Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep.pt. ix. p. 96). During Queen Anne's reign, according to Macky, he 'was not regarded, tho' he still took his place at the council-board.' The same writer describes him at the time as 'a gentleman of admirable natural parts, great knowledge and experience in the affairs of his own country, but of no reputation with any party.' His staunch protestantism, on the other hand, still secured him a few warm admirers. Dunton, in his 'Life and Errors,' 1705, p. 423, asked 'where shall we find strict morals, unaffected devotion, refined loyalty, or that old English hero that made France and the world tremble, if not in Great Leeds?' In 1705 he supported a motion that the church was in danger (Boyer, Annals, p. 218), and in the debate on Sacheverell in March 1710 he made a long speech in defence of hereditary right (ib. p. 433). On 29 Nov. 1710 he was granted a pension of 3,500l. a year out of the post-office revenues (Harl. MS. 2264), In 1711 he was described as a strong competitor for the office of lord privy seal (Boyer, p. 515). Some part of his enforced leisure he occupied in publishing a defence of his conduct in Charles II's reign. In 1710 appeared two volumes on the subject: one entitled 'Copies and Extracts of some Letters written to and from the Earl of Danby (now Duke of Leeds) in the years 1676, 1677, and 1678, with particular Remarks upon some of them. Published by his Grace's direction,' and the other called 'Memoirs relating to the Impeachment of Thomas, Earl of Danby (now Duke of Leeds), in the year 1678.' A comparison of the printed papers with the original documents shows that the duke had liberally garbled them, and in the trembling handwriting which characterised his old age had altered crucial passages in almost all the drafts of the incriminating letters in his possession.
He died 'of convulsions' on 26 July 1712, aged 81, at Easton, Northamptonshire, the seat of his grandson, the Earl of Pomfret. At the time he was on his way to Hornby Castle, his home in Yorkshire. His will was proved in April 1713. He left a princely fortune, but in distributing his property passed over his son and successor in favour of his eldest grandson. Although some of his papers are in the possession of the present Duke of Leeds at Hornby Castle, the mass of them, including diaries, correspondence, and account-books, were purchased in 1869 for the British Museum, along with the papers of Sidney Godolphin, first earl of Godolphin [q. v.], and of many of Danby's descendants. The collection fills fifty-six volumes (Addit. MSS. 28040-95). Some valuable autograph documents, dealing with Danby's negotiations with Montagu, belong to Mr. J. Eliot Hodgkin, F.S.A., of Childwall, Richmond, and are being calendared for publication by the Historical Manuscripts Commission.
Danby married in 1654 Lady Bridget, second daughter of Montague Bertie, lord Willoughby de Eresby, earl of Lindsay. Of a penurious disposition, she was credited with exerting a sinister influence over her husband and children, and subjecting them to much petty tyranny. In December 1699 she was nearly killed in a carriage accident on the journey from Wimbledon, but, according to Sir John Vanbrugh, 'beyond expectation recovered to plague her husband, her son, and many others, some time longer' (Manchester, Court and Society, ii. 56, 60). She died on 26 Jan. 1704. Two of the duke's three sons died before him. Edward (1655 ?-1689), styled from 1674 Viscount Latimer, was a gentleman of the bedchamber to Charles II, took up arms in 1688 to support the revolution, and died without issue in January 1688-9. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Simon Bennett of Beachampton, Buckinghamshire. She was buried in Westminster Abbey on 5 May 1680. The duke's successor, Peregrine Osborne, second duke of Leeds (1659-1734), the third but only surviving son, is separately noticed. Of the duke's five married daughters, Anne (1657-1722) married (1) Robert Cooke, and (2) Horace Walpole, and died without issue; Bridget (1661-1718) married (1) Charles, earl of Plymouth, and (2) Dr. Philip Bisse [q. v.], bishop of St. David's; Catherine (b. 1662) married James Herbert of Kingsey, a relative of the Earl of Pembroke; Martha (b. 1668) married (1) Edward Baynton, and (2) Charles Granville, earl of Bath; Sophia (b. 1664) married (1) Donat, lord O'Brien, grandson of Henry O'Brien, earl of Thomond, and (2) William Fermor, earl of Leominster.
A portrait, by Van Vaart, at Hornby Castle, the property of the Duke of Leeds, is engraved in Lodge's 'Portraits' (vii. 19). Another portrait, by Sir Peter Lely, was engraved by A. Blooteling. There is a fine engraving ad vivum, by R. White, and a drawing, also by White, is in the print-room at the British Museum. A portrait by an unknown artist belongs to the Earl of Derby.
[Lives of Eminent British Statesmen in Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia, v. 199-375 (by T. P. Courtenay); Lodge's Portraits, vii. 19 sq.; Memoirs of the Earl of Danby, 1710; Sir John Reresby's Memoirs; Dalrymple's Memorials; Clarendon's Life; Luttrell's Brief Relation; Burnet's Own Time; Cokayne's Complete Peerage; Doyle's Official Baronage; Macaulay's Hist.; Hist. MSS. Comra. 11th Rep. pt. vii. pp. 1-43 (Duke of Leeds' MSS. at Hornby Castle), 11th Rep. pt. ii. (House of Lords MSS. 1678-1688); Brit. Mus. Addit. MSS. 28040-95 (Leeds and Godolphin papers) ; Roxburghe Ballads, vol. iv.; Bagford Ballads, vol. ii. ; Wentworth Papers ; Temple's Memoirs.]
Category:DNB needs qv