This text was copied from Wikipedia on 23 June 2024 at 6:10AM.

The Earl of St Albans
The Earl of St Albans, from a portrait by Lely
Lord Chamberlain
In office
MonarchCharles II
Preceded byThe Earl of Manchester
Succeeded byThe Earl of Arlington
Personal details
Parent(s)Sir Thomas Jermyn
Catherine Killigrew

Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of Saint Albans KG (25 March 1605 (baptised) – January 1684) was an English Royalist politician, diplomat and courtier.

Jermyn sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1625 and 1643 when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Jermyn. Having formed an intimate friendship with Henrietta Maria of France in the 1630s, he constantly devised and promoted schemes to involve foreign powers in the restoration of the monarchy, both before and after the execution of Charles I in 1649. A long-standing advocate of pro-French policies, he became one of the most influential courtiers of the Interregnum and reign of Charles II.

Early life

Jermyn was the fourth but second surviving son of Sir Thomas Jermyn (1572–1645) of Rushbrooke, Suffolk, Vice-Chamberlain to Charles I, and his wife Catherine, daughter of Sir William Killigrew of Hanworth, Middlesex (a sister of Sir Robert Killigrew).[1] He was baptised at St Margaret's Lothbury, London on 25 March 1605.

In 1618 he undertook a tour of Europe for three years and in 1623 he became a member of the household of the Earl of Bristol in Madrid. While living in Spain he met the Duke of Buckingham and Jermyn "abounded in the expression of his joy for the honour and favours done him" by the duke.[1]

Politician and courtier

In 1625, while still underage, Jermyn was elected Member of Parliament for Bodmin on the interest of his uncle Sir Robert Killigrew, and was re-elected MP for the seat in 1626.[2] He made no contribution to parliamentary proceedings in either year. In around 1627, he came to the attention of Henrietta Maria, Queen consort of Charles I of England, and was appointed a gentleman usher in her private household. In July 1627 he was sent to France by the queen to convey her condolences to Louis XIII on the death of the duchess of Orléans. He became Henrietta Maria's vice-chamberlain in 1628 and the same year he was elected as the MP for Liverpool on the nomination of Humphrey May. During the parliamentary recess, Jermyn was seconded to Jersey to train the island's militia.[1]

In 1632 Jermyn was again sent to Paris, this time to congratulate the queen's mother, Marie de' Medici, on surviving a coach accident. In 1633 he jeopardised his position when Eleanor Villiers, one of the queen's ladies in waiting, gave birth to his illegitimate child.[1][3] Jermyn was sent abroad by Charles I, but was allowed to return and resume his role at court in August 1634. His favour with Henrietta Maria was undamaged and in 1639 his dominant position in her household was confirmed when he was appointed her Master of the Horse.[4]

Civil War and exile

Henry Jermyn painted in circa 1640

In April 1640, Jermyn was elected MP for Corfe Castle in the Short Parliament together with his brother Thomas.[2] The brothers were both elected MPs for Bury St Edmunds in the Long Parliament in November 1640 and were active and ardent Royalists. Jermyn took a prominent part in the First Army Plot of 1641 and on its discovery he fled to France.[5] In 1642, he joined Henrietta Maria in The Hague where he assisted her to raise loans, buy weapons and recruit troops for the Royalist cause. Returning to England in 1643, he resumed his personal attendance on the queen and was appointed colonel of her bodyguard. On 8 September 1643 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Jermyn of St Edmundsbury,[4] ostensibly so that, should he fall into Parliamentarian hands, he would be beheaded, and not hanged, drawn and quartered. The same year he was made a colonel of horse in the king's army. In 1644 he became the queen's chamberlain. A few months later he accompanied Henrietta Maria to France, where he continued to act as her secretary and confidant, and attempted to raise support for the Royalist war effort.[6]

In 1645, Jermyn was made Governor of Jersey. He came into conflict with Sir Edward Hyde when he brought the Prince of Wales from Jersey to Paris, against Hyde's advice. In 1647, Jermyn advised the king to promise a Presbyterian church in England in order to gain Scottish assistance against parliament. Charles I made Jermyn his ambassador to France and the Dutch Republic prior to his execution in 1649.[1] Jermyn advocated for the Royalist alliance with Scotland which led to the Anglo-Scottish war of 1650 to 1652. In 1651 he was appointed to the Privy Council of England.[1]

In France, Jermyn became the leading figure in the 'Louvre faction', a group of English royalists who had attached themselves to Henrietta Maria's court-in-exile, based initially out of the Louvre Palace.[7] Following The Fronde, in 1653 the Queen Dowager swapped accommodation with Anne of Austria and her court relocated to the Palais-Royal.[8] Other members of the faction included Henry Wilmot, Lord John Byron, Kenelm Digby, George Digby, Henry Percy, John Colepeper and Charles Gerard. The group was marked by their close adherence to Henrietta Maria, their pro-French outlook and their opposition to the influence of Hyde over Charles II. Jermyn proposed to Charles a plan to cede the Channel Islands to France in exchange for military aid. Jermyn succeeding in getting large grants from the king's allowance and was able to live in relative luxury, despite the court itself being impoverished.[9] When Charles went to Breda, Jermyn remained in Paris with Henrietta Maria, who persuaded her son to create him Earl of St Albans on 27 April 1660.[10]


The arms of Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St Albans, as a Knight of the Garter

At the Restoration in May 1660, St Albans was appointed to the Court of Chancery and made a justice of the peace for Suffolk and Middlesex. However, Hyde ensured that Jermyn was kept out of government. In 1663 he was present at the birth of James Stuart, Duke of Cambridge.[11] He acted as Charles II's ambassador to France throughout the 1660s and was supportive of the policy of friendship towards Louis XIV of France. He contributed largely to the close secret understanding between Charles II and Louis XIV, arranging the preliminaries of the Secret Treaty of Dover in 1669.[12] St Albans' obvious affinity with France was controversial at court; the Italian diplomat Lorenzo Magalotti wrote that he was "a man who is wholly devoted to French interests and who acts with no other purpose than to promote the vast projects of that crown at whatever cost to England".[13]

St Albans witnessed the death of Henrietta Maria in France in August 1669 and was an executor of her will. That same year he hosted Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany at his London townhouse. In 1672 he was appointed Lord Chamberlain, the most senior officer in the king's household, and was made a Knight of the Garter. He briefly served in the First Danby ministry as Lord Chamberlain, but left office in 1674 after which he largely retired from public life.[1] In 1683, the year before his death, he was described by John Evelyn as "a prudent old courtier and much enriched since his majesty's return".[9]

Founder of the West End

City of Westminster Green Plaque for Henry Jermyn, Earl of St Albans (1605–1684), located in Duke of York Street, London SW1

In September 1662, St Albans obtained a leasehold on a grant of land at Pall Mall Field in London north of St James's Palace.[14] He began the development of the field with the construction of grand houses in the classical style at what would soon become St. James's Square. The City of London, which feared for its water supply, was hostile to the plan, but the support of Charles II for the development discouraged opposition. The grant by Charles of the freehold of the new square and other adjacent property to trustees for the Earl of St Albans was made on 1 April 1665. A ground-rent of £80 per annum was reserved. The Earl of St Albans built his own townhouse, St Albans House (later the site of Norfolk House), on the square at a cost of £15,000.[14]

The surrounding streets, including Jermyn Street, King Street, Duke Street St James's and Charles II Street, were completed soon afterwards, an area which would become called St James's. St Albans market was built on a site later cleared for the construction of Regent Street and Waterloo Place.[12][15] It was a grand design in itself, and from its inspiration grew the whole of the West End of London, so much so that the Survey of London acknowledges Henry Jermyn as the 'Founder of the West End'.[16] In the 1660s he also owned Soho Fields, of which he leased 19 out of the 22 acres (89,000 m2) to Joseph Girle, who was granted permission to develop the land. In August 1674, further grants of freehold land were unsuccessfully sought on behalf of St Albans.[14]

Personal life

Henry Jermyn, Earl of St Albans

He was a friend and patron of Abraham Cowley and Sir William Davenant. Magalotti wrote that St Albans was "an extremely handsome young man, and for that reason was always pleasing to the ladies".[13] He was much addicted to gambling, which was a very popular pastime in his era, and had several romances at court.[4] The 1636 play The Platonick Lovers was dedicated to him by Davenant. His entry in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica described him as a "man of dissolute morals".[4]

Gossip which the historian Henry Hallam accepted as authentic, but which is supported by no real evidence, asserted that Jermyn was secretly married to Queen Henrietta Maria during their exile in France.[12] It was further rumoured during Jermyn's lifetime that he may have been the true father of at least one of her children, even perhaps of Charles II himself. The Domestic State Papers for 13 August 1660 contain a report by Capt. Francis Robinson of Nathaniel Angelo, a Windsor clergyman, asserting that "all the royal children were Jermyn's bastards."[17]

St Albans died at his house in St James's Square in January 1684. At his own request, he was buried with his ancestors at Rushbrooke.[1] As he was unmarried, the earldom of St Albans became extinct at his death, while the barony of Jermyn of St Edmundsbury passed by special remainder, together with his property, to his nephew Thomas Jermyn (1633–1703), and after the latter's death to Thomas's brother Henry, Lord Dover (1636–1708).[12] The fate of his illegitimate daughter with Eleanor Villiers is unknown. In January 1684, immediately after St Albans' death, Charles II granted Jermyn's territorial designation to one of his illegitimate sons, Charles Beauclerk, as the first Duke of St Albans.[18]



15 Annotations

First Reading

vincent  •  Link

"...a man of dissolute morals, and much addicted to gambling...."
ST ALBANS, HENRY JERMYN, EARL OF (c. 1604-1684), was the third son of Sir Thomas Jermyn of Rushbroke, Suffolk. At an early age he won the favor of Queen Henrietta Maria, whose vice-chamberlain he became in 1628, and master of the horse in 1639. He was a consummate courtier, a man of dissolute morals, and much addicted to gambling. He was member for Bury St Edmunds in the Long Parliament and an active and reckless royalist. He took…
DOVER, HENRY JERMYN, EARL OF (c. 1636-1708), was the second son of Sir Thomas Jermyn, of Rushbroke, Suffolk, elder brother of Henry Jermyn, earl of St Albans (q.v.). lover gambler etc.……

michael j. gresk m.a.  •  Link

henry jermyn?? is jermyn st in st james, off regent st, in london named for him?? his family?? just curious..

David Quidnunc  •  Link

"one of the leading Catholics at court"

says a note in the L&M Volume 1 for 1 December 1660 (p 307)

vincent  •  Link

History of real estate developer St Albans:
In the 1660's, Henry Jermyn, Earl of St. Albans, persuaded the King to give him land to the north east of St. James's Palace. On it he built St. James's Square, King Street, Charles II Street, Duke of York Street, St. James's Street, Haymarket and, of course, Jermyn Street. Many members of the aristocracy lived in this, then new area as it had very close proximity to the royal court. Jermyn Street was completed in the 1680's.…

anonymous  •  Link

There is a rumour, gentlemen, that Henry, Lord Jermyn, secretly married the Queen Mother, and that might be the reason why Her Majesty told her son, Charles II, to make him an earl.

Pauline  •  Link

from L&M Companion
(?1604-84) A countier and diplomat 'of only middling accomplishments, who [rose] from nothing to a possession of considerable means which, by losing heavily at cards and keeping open house, he made to appear even greater than they actually were' (Gramont). He was attached to the service of Queen Henrietta-Maria from 1628, and was rumoured (wrongly) to have secretly married her in her widowhood. Ambassador to France 1644, 1660, 1667-9; Lord Chamberlain 1671-4.

jeannine  •  Link

From Grammont's footnotes

Henry Jermyn, Earl of St. Alban's, and Baron of St. Edmund's Bury. He was master of the horse to Queen Henrietta, and one of the privy-council to Charles II. In July 1660, he was sent ambassador to the court of France, and, in 1671, he was made lord-chamberlain of his majesty's household. He died January 2, 1683. Sir John Reresby asserts, that Lord St. Alban's was married to Queen Henrietta. "The abbess of an English college in Paris, whither the queen used to retire, would tell me," says Sir John, "that Lord Jermyn, since St. Alban's, had the queen greatly in awe of him; and indeed it was obvious that he had great interest with her concerns; but he was married to her, or had children by her, as some have reported, I did not then believe, though the thing was certainly so." -- Memoirs, p. 4. [Pepys says, in his Diary, Dec. 21st, 1660: -- "I hear that the Princess Royal hath married herself to young Jermyn, which is worse than the Duke of York's marrying the Chancellor's daughter, which is now publicly owned."] Madame Baviere, in her letters, says, "Charles the First's widow made a clandestine marriage with her chevalier d'honneur, Lord St. Alban's, who treated her extremely ill, so that, whilst she had not a faggot to warm herself, he had in his apartment a good fire and a sumptuous table. He never gave the queen a kind word and when she spoke to him he used to say, Que me veut cette femme?" Hamilton hints at his selfishness a little lower.… see note 45

Anthony Adolph  •  Link

I am very glad to see that Henry Jermyn has aroused some people's interest. He was an absolutely fascinating character, and has kept me interested for the last 16 years, during which I have researched his life and written his first ever biography. It is called "Full of Soup and Gold: the Life of Henry Jermyn" and is available from me at I must stress in placing this notice here that, whilst I obviously want to sell copies of my book, my main motive is not commercial, but simply to cover costs and to make more people aware of Jermyn.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

JERMYN, HENRY, first Earl of St. Albans (d. 1684), courtier; vice-chamberlain to Queen Henrietta Maria, 1628, and her master of the horse, 1639; M.P., Liverpool, 1628, Corfe Castle in Short parliament, and Bury St Edmunds in Long parliament; after being engaged in 'first army plot,' 1641, escaped to France, 1641; returned, 1643; secretary to Queen Henrietta Maria, commander of her body-guard; created Baron Jermyn, 1643; accompanied Henrietta Maria to France, 1644; governor of Jersey, 1644 : proposed to cede Jersey to France in exchange for help; persuaded Charles II to accept the terms offered by the Scots; remained at Paris till the Restoration; created Earl of St. Albans, 1660; lord chamberlain, 1674; as ambassador at Paris negotiated Charles II's marriage, a treaty with France (1667), and in 1669 preliminaries of treaty of Dover; planned St. James's Square and gave his name to Jermyn Street; the patron of Cowley, but satirised by Marvel).
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

Bill  •  Link

Paint then St. Albans full of soup and gold,
The new Court's pattern, stallion of the old
Him neither wit nor courage did exalt,
But Fortune chose him for her pleasure's salt.
Paint him with drayman's shoulders, butcher's mien,
Membered like mule, with elephantine chin.
Well he the title of St. Albans bore,
For never Bacon studied nature more;
But age, allaying now that youthful heat,
Fits him in France to play at cards, and cheat.

Draw no commission, lest the Court should lie,
And, disavowing treaty, ask supply.
He needs no seal but to St. James's lease,
Whose breeches were the instruments of peace;
Who, if the French dispute his power, from thence
Can straight produce them a plenipotence.
Nor fears he the Most Christian should trepan
Two saints at once, St. German and Alban;
But thought the golden age was now restored,
When men and women took each other's word.

---Instructions to a Painter about the Dutch Wars, 1667. Andrew Marvel

Bill  •  Link

The web page Anthony Adolph cites above has extensive information on Jermyn and on the latest version of his biography.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I couldn't make the Anthony Adolph page work ... it was there, but largely blocked off by blanks. But the reviews I could read at the bottom indicate that he thinks St.Jermyn was father to both Charles II and the Duke of York, as they looked like him and were way taller than Charles (as was St.Jermyn). Anyone else found a way to read it? No one has reviewed the book on Goodreads or Amazon.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

In May 1669, Cosmo, the future Grand Duke of Turin, visited Somerset House and left us a description not only of the buildings, but also a who's who of the major players in the Queen Mother's Court.
Needless to say there is a lot of speculation about her relationship with Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St. Albans, her Steward (in charge of running her household) and Captain of her Guard (in charge of security) and how Charles II relied on him during the Diary years:…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Henry Jermyn first entered Parliament while under age, sitting for Bodmin in 1625 and 1626 on the interest of his maternal uncle, Sir Robert Killigrew.
His youth and inexperience accounts for his failure to contribute to the Commons’ proceedings in either year.

By 1627 he had become a gentleman usher to Queen Henrietta Maria, and in July, 1627 he was sent to France to convey her condolences to Louis XIII on the death of the duchess of Orléans. As this visit coincided with the 1st Duke of Buckingham’s expedition to the Ile de Ré, Jermyn was briefly mistaken by the French for a peace envoy.

Jermyn returned to the Commons in 1628, this time representing Liverpool on the nomination of his cousin by marriage, Sir Humphrey May MP.

For more on his adventures with Queen Henrietta Maria, his fund raising efforts, and fascinating life, see

Henry Jermyn, Earl of St. Albans’ passion for architecture associated him heavily with the Freemasons. Little is known of this organization in the 17th century because the Georgians destroyed the records, but surviving sources are clear on one point: between 1660 and 1666, Jermyn was Freemasonry’s Grand Master. It is likely his Freemasonic links were of great importance to his pre-1660 anti-Parliamentarian plots, and there is no doubt, through his reforms, that he helped lay the foundations for the great success of Freemasonry in the 18th century.…

It is thought that both Chancellor Sir Francis Bacon and Harry Jermyn took the title, Earl of St. Albans because of the Masonic Legend about the real St. Alban.
According to it, Alban was the steward of the household of Carausius, who had revolted from the Emperor Maximilian, and usurped the sovereignty of England.
Carausius employed Alban to building the town walls, which exposed him to the stone masons and their Craft. Alban treated the stone masons with kindness, increased their pay, and gave them a charter to hold a general assembly. He assisted them in making Masons, and framed for them a constitution.

Harry Jermyn was the perfect person to handle the covert messages and plottings of Louis XIV and Charles II from 1660 - 1685. A fascinating man indeed.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.



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