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Arthur Capel, earl of Essex, was son of Arthur, lord Capel, who was beheaded. He was a man of resolution and ability, and gained great reputation by asserting the honour of the British flag, when he was sent ambassador to Denmark. His spirited behaviour on this occasion recommended him greatly to the king, who, on his return, made him a privy-counsellor, and appointed him lord lieutenant of Ireland. He acted with singular prudence and integrity in the government of a country which had not perfectly recovered its stability, after the shocks and convulsions of a civil war, and where petty factions and jarring interests continually called for the exertion of his abilities. He was particularly careful to exculpate his character from false accusations, saying, that he "would rather suffer himself to be made a pack-horse, than bear other men's faults." He was afterwards one of the leading members of the house of lords; and was, upon the disgrace of the lord treasurer Danby, of whom he was an avowed opponent, appointed one of the new privy-council, and first commissioner of the treasury. About this time, the nation was as much intoxicated with faction, as it had been with loyalty at the Restoration; and he was named as one of the accomplices in the MealTub Plot. Upon this he threw up his place in disgust, and sided with the duke of Monmouth and the earl of Shaftesbury, though he was one of the principal persons who had contributed to their disgrace. He was afterwards accused as one of the conspirators in the Rye-House Plot, and committed to the Tower. He was found there not long after, with his throat cut in the most horrid manner. As he had been an advocate for suicide, and was subject to the spleen, it was supposed by some that he had laid violent hands upon himself: others, with less probability, supposed that he was murdered by his own servant: and others, with least of all, that he was killed by an assassin sent by the duke of York, who, together with the king, was seen at the Tower the same morning on which the murder was perpetrated. Ob. 13 July, 1683.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1779.

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References

  • 1669