Palmer, Roger (DNB00)

PALMER, ROGER, Earl of Castlemaine (1634–1705), diplomatist and author, was eldest son of Sir James Palmer [q. v.] of Hayes, Middlesex, and Dorney Court, Buckinghamshire, by his second wife, Catherine, daughter of Sir William Herbert, K.B., created Lord Powis in 1674, and relict of Sir Robert Vaughan of Llydiarth, Montgomeryshire.

Roger Palmer was born at Dorney Court on 3 Sept. 1634, and was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge, which he entered on 25 March 1652. On 29 Oct. 1656 he was admitted a student at the Inner Temple, but was not called to the bar. An ardent loyalist, he was prevented only by his youth from serving under the royal standard during the civil war, and hazarded his life in the plots that preceded the Restoration. On 14 April 1659 he married, at the church of St. Gregory by St. Paul's, London, Barbara [see Villiers, Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland], only daughter of William Villiers, first viscount Grandison (Chester, Westminster Abbey Registers, p. 330 n.) Upon the Restoration Mrs. Palmer became the mistress of the king, who, by patent of 11 Dec. 1661, raised her husband, then M.P. for New Windsor, to the Irish peerage by the title of Earl of Castlemaine, co. Kerry, with remainder limited to his issue by her. This was done solely to propitiate the mistress, whose jealousy was inflamed by the Portuguese match, and was so little appreciated by her husband that the honour was literally forced upon him, nor did he ever take his seat in the Irish House of Lords. The earl was a Roman catholic, and had his wife's first-born son, Charles Fitzroy [see Fitzroy, Charles, first Duke of Southampton], baptised by a priest, upon which the countess had him rebaptised by a minister of the church of England, at St. Margaret's, Westminster, on 18 June 1662. This occasioned a violent domestic quarrel, which ended in Lady Castlemaine deserting her husband, and the latter going abroad. He travelled in France and Italy, and cruised in the Levant, in the Venetian squadron commanded by Admiral Andrea Cornaro (1664). He also served in the Duke of York's fleet during the Dutch war (1665–7), on which he wrote, in French, a memoir, translated into English by Thomas Price under the title ‘A short and true Account of the Material Passages in the late War between the English and Dutch,’ London, 1671; 2nd edit. 1672, 8vo.

On the outbreak of the storm of anti-popish fanaticism which followed the fire of London, Castlemaine published ‘The Catholique Apology,’ a manly and eloquent vindication of the loyalty of Roman catholics, which involved him in controversy with William Lloyd [q. v.] afterwards bishop of St. Asaph (cf. bibliographical note infra). About this time he was formally separated from the countess, and in 1668 he accompanied Sir Daniel Harvey on his mission to the Porte. From Constantinople he passed into Syria, and, travelling along the northern coast of Africa, returned to Europe by Tangier. He was in the Netherlands during the second Dutch war, in which he probably saw service. He returned to England in the autumn of 1677, and on 25 Oct. of the following year was denounced to the House of Commons as a jesuit by Titus Oates [q. v.] who swore that he had seen in the hands of Richard Strange, late provincial of the order of Jesus in England, a divorce from his wife granted to Castlemaine by the Roman curia, and that he had heard Castlemaine ‘declare his approbation of the White Horse consult about the king's death.’ After an examination before justices of the peace he was arrested and committed to the Tower (31 Oct.), but was admitted to bail on 23 Jan. 1678–9. While awaiting his trial he published a narrative of the sufferings of former victims, entitled ‘The Compendium; or a Short View of the late Tryals in relation to the Present Plot against his Majesty and Government,’ London, 1679, 4to.

Oates having meanwhile fortified his case by the fabrication of fresh evidence, Castlemaine was examined before the king in council, and re-committed to the Tower on suspicion of complicity in the so-called Meal-tub plot on 2 Nov. 1679. He remained a close prisoner until his trial before Lord-chief-justice Scroggs at the king's bench on 23 June 1680. The crown was represented by Attorney Sir Creswell Levinz [q. v.] Solicitor-general Sir Heneage Finch [see Finch, Heneage, first Earl of Aylesford], Sir George Jeffreys [see Jeffreys, George, first Baron Jefferys], solicitor-general to the Duke of York, and Sir Francis Wythens [q. v.] Castlemaine defended himself, and with such signal skill and courage that, though much interrupted and browbeaten by court and counsel, he completely discredited the evidence of the informers and secured an acquittal.

Castlemaine was a member of the little cabal of catholics who formed James II's secret council; and when the king determined to establish overt relations with Rome, Castlemaine was accredited ambassador to the curia. He embarked at Greenwich on 15 Feb. 1685–6, and reached Rome on Easter-eve (13 April, N.S.), but, though privately received by the pope (Innocent XI), did not enter the city in state until 8 Jan. 1687 (N.S.). The delay was owing partly to Innocent's illness, and partly to the elaborate preparations which Castlemaine thought it necessary to make in order to sustain his master's dignity. His major-domo, John Michael Wright, has left a curious account of his pompous entry, and the cold reception accorded him by the pope (cf. list of authorities infra, and the satirical ode upon the embassy in Poems on Affairs of State, 1716, ii. 402). Castlemaine's instructions were to solicit a cardinal's hat for the queen-consort's uncle, Prince Rinaldo d'Este; a bishopric in partibus for the king's most trusted adviser, the jesuit Edward Petre [q. v.]; and to attempt the reconciliation of Innocent with Louis XIV. He found Innocent by no means propitious. He had no intention of being reconciled to the author of the Gallican schism as long as the Gallican schism continued; he had little faith in the stability of James's throne, and less in the policy of attempting the forcible conversion of England. With much ado, Castlemaine induced him to confer the coveted hat on Prince Rinaldo, 2 Sept. 1686. In regard to Petre, his holiness proved inexorable. Not content with a first or even a second refusal, Castlemaine pressed his suit with more zeal than discretion in several audiences, which Innocent terminated by violent fits of coughing. Irritated by this treatment, Castlemaine at last sent him a written memorial not obscurely hinting at his possible departure if it were to continue. Innocent replied drily that he was his own master, and added significantly that the morning hours—it was summer—were best for travelling in Italy. Castlemaine remained, however, until, at Innocent's instance, he was recalled by James, who humbly apologised for his agent's excessive zeal. On 16 June 1687 Sunderland, as president of the privy council, was compelled to write to the pope, begging pardon for the ambassador's misbehaviour (cf. abstract of correspondence between the English court and the pope in Dod's Church History, iii. 424–5).

Castlemaine reached London in August 1687, and was consoled with a place in the privy council, being dispensed from the oaths, and with bounties to the amount of between 1,800l. and 2,000l. His name appears among the signatures to the certificate of the birth of the Prince of Wales, dated Whitehall, 10 June 1688 (Addit. MS. 27448, f. 342). On the subsequent flight of the king, Castlemaine left Whitehall for his country seat in Montgomeryshire, taking with him, under a privy seal, plate from the royal household, for which damages were afterwards (22 May 1691) recovered against him, to the value of 2,500l., the privy seal being held invalid by reason of its being subsequent to the ‘abdication.’ He was arrested at Oswestry, sent back to London, and committed to the Tower in February 1688–9, for ‘suspicion of treasonable practices.’ On 28 Oct. 1689 he was brought to the bar of the House of Commons, and examined touching his embassy to Rome. He pleaded in justification the express command of the king, but was recommitted to the Tower on the capital charge of ‘endeavouring to reconcile this kingdom to the see of Rome,’ and ‘other’ (unspecified) ‘high crimes and misdemeanours.’ On 10 Feb. 1689–90 he was released, giving his own recognisance in 10,000l., and those of four sureties in 5,000l. each. He was excepted from the act of indemnity, and was recommitted to the Tower in the following August on suspicion of complicity in the Jacobite plot, but was released on bail on 28 Nov. In 1695, having been for some years abroad in France and Flanders, he fell under suspicion of adhering to the king's enemies, was summoned to attend the Irish parliament on 12 Sept., and, failing so to do, was indicted of high treason. To avoid outlawry he returned to England, surrendered himself on 28 Feb. 1695–6, and was committed to the Tower on suspicion of complicity in the assassination plot, but was released without trial, on condition of going over-seas, on 18 July following.

Castlemaine died at Oswestry on 21 July 1705, and was buried in the vault of his mother's family at Welshpool. His wife's eldest daughter, Anne, who bore the surname Palmer until her marriage in 1675 with Thomas Lennard, fifteenth lord Dacre and earl of Sussex, was one of the trustees of Castlemaine's will, dated 30 Nov. 1696, by which the bulk of his property passed to his nephew, Charles Palmer.

Castlemaine was a loyal and devout catholic, an accomplished linguist and mathematician, and the inventor of a globe described in a pamphlet published by him in 1679, entitled ‘The English Globe; being a stable and immobil one, performing what ordinary Globes do and much more.’ A full-length portrait of him, in a red cloak and large wig, is in the possession of Earl Powis; a three-quarter-length, in the gallery at Dorney Court, was engraved for Anthony Hamilton's ‘Mémoires de Grammont,’ ed. 1793; a half-length, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, formerly at Strawberry Hill, was engraved to illustrate the brief notice of him in Horace Walpole's ‘Royal and Noble Authors,’ ed. Park, v. 212.

Besides the works mentioned above, Castlemaine was author of: 1. ‘An account of the Present War between the Venetians and Turks; with the State of Candie: in a Letter to the King [Charles II] from Venice,’ London, 1666, 8vo; Dutch and German translations, the latter in ‘Diarium Europæum,’ Th. xvii., Amsterdam and Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1668, 4to. 2. ‘A Reply to the Answer of the Catholique Apology; or a cleere Vindication of the Catholiques of England from all matter of fact charg'd against them by their Enemies,’ London, 1668, 8vo. 3. ‘A full Answer and Confutation of a scandalous Pamphlet [by William Lloyd] called a Seasonable Discourse, shewing the necessity of maintaining … the established Religion in opposition to Popery,’ Antwerp, 1673, 4to. 4. ‘The Catholique Apology, with a Reply to the Answer; together with a clear Refutation of the Seasonable Discourse, its reasonable Defence and Dr. Du Moulin's Answer to Philanax; as also Dr. Stillingfleet's last Gunpowder-Treason Sermon, his Attaque about the Treaty of Munster, and all matter of fact charg'd on the English Catholiques by their Enemies,’ Antwerp, 1674, 8vo. 5. ‘The Earl of Castlemaine's Manifesto,’ 1681, 8vo (a narrative of his trial for complicity in the popish plot, with a brief apology for the Roman catholic faith and vindication of the loyalty of Roman catholics).

[Misc. Geneal. et Herald. i. 109–17, 151–5; Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, v. 555 n.; G.E.C.'s Complete Peerage, ii. 183; Jenyns's Pedigree of the Palmers of Sussex; Castlemaine's Short and True Account of the late War between the Dutch and English, Preface; Steinman's Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland; Wotton's Baronetage, 1741, i. 441; Boyer's Annals Queen Anne, iv. 284; Burke's Extinct Peerage, ‘Palmer;’ Inner Temple Admission Reg. 1541–1660, p. 361; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1628–9 pp. 503, 524, 1661–5; Pepys's Diary, ed. Wheatley, 1893, i. 200, ii. 288; Lib. Hibern. i. Peer. pp. 9, 41; Lipscombe's Buckinghamshire, iii. 273; Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, ed. Archdall, 1789, iv. 88; Dodd's Church Hist. Engl. iii. 448; Granger's Biogr. Hist. Engl. 4th edit. iii. 228; Lingard's Hist. Engl. ix. 75; Macaulay's Hist. Engl. ii. 265–9, iii. 511; Burnet's Own Time (fol.), i. 94, 703; Ellis Corresp. ed. Ellis, i. 35, 298; Welwood's Memoirs, ed. Maseres, 1820, p. 162; Campana di Cavelli, Les Derniers Stuarts à S. Germain-en-Laye, i. 242, ii. 82, 88, 132, 144; Trenqualeon, West Grinstead et les Caryll, Paris, 1893, ii. 20 et seq.; Klopp, Fall des Hauses Stuart, drit. Band, p. 319; Clarke's Life of James II, ii. 75–77; Luttrell's Relation of State Affairs; Butler's Hist. Mem. Engl., Irish, and Scot. Cath. 1822, iii. 47 et seq.; London Gazette, 7–10 Feb. 1686–1687; Secret Services of Charles II and James II (Camden Soc.); Howell's State Trials, xii. 598; Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. App. p. 233, 5th Rep. App. pp. 382, 385, 7th Rep. App. pp. 198, 463, 504, 10th Rep. App. p. 233; Clarendon and Rochester Corresp. ii. 327; Irish House of Lords, i. 501; Mackintosh's Revolution of 1688, pp. 73–6; Wright's Ragguaglio della solenne Comparsa dell' Illustrmo Conte di Castelmaine; Guarnacci, Vit. Pontiff. Roman. i. 302; Addit. MS. 9341, ff. 4–6; Addit. MS. 15396 (D'Adda Corresp.), ff. 33, 46, 71, 95, 111, 292, 317 et seq.; Addit. MSS. 28225 f. 130, 28226 f. 19; Halkett and Laing's Dict. Anon. and Pseudon. Lit.]

J. M. R.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.214
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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149 ii 6 Palmer, Roger, Earl of Castlemaine: for duly read drily