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Aubrey de Vere
20th Earl of Oxford
Born(1627-02-28)28 February 1627
Died12 March 1703(1703-03-12) (aged 76)
Spouse(s)Anne Bayning
  • Charles
  • Charlotte
  • Diana
  • Mary
  • Henrietta
FatherRobert de Vere, 19th Earl of Oxford
MotherBeatrix van Hemmend
The quartered arms of Aubrey de Vere, 20th Earl of Oxford, KG, PC

Aubrey de Vere, 20th Earl of Oxford KG PC (28 February 1627 – 12 March 1703) was a Royalist during the English Civil War.


He was the son of Robert de Vere, 19th Earl of Oxford and his wife Beatrix van Hemmend.[1] He was educated at Friesland in the Netherlands after his father was mortally wounded at the Capture of Maastricht in 1632, when de Vere was only six years old; years later he joined the English Regiment of Foot serving on the continent with the Dutch. He remained in Holland during the period of the English Civil War, but returned to England in 1651 an ardent royalist. He was involved in a succession of plots, for which he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for allegedly plotting against Oliver Cromwell and interned without trial. On release he joined Sir George Booth's rising in 1659 against Richard Cromwell's regime.

He went with five other peers to petition The Hague for the return of King Charles II in early May 1660. Hoping but failing to become Lord Chamberlain, he was offered the Colonelcy of the Royal Horse Guards. As a favourite of royal mistress Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland he courted the Earl of Bristol's daughter, whose family were in favour at court. The daughter married Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland, a Secretary of State, but he lobbied the King on Oxford's behalf. Oxford was made Lord Lieutenant of Essex and a Knight of the Garter.[2]

Censorious Whigs like Samuel Pepys deplored seeing Oxford wearing his Garter regalia in public and there was a rumour that he married an actress in secret. The actress was Hester Davenport (1642–1717) and the wedding supposedly took place on a Sunday morning in 1662 or 1663 in a chandler's shop on Harts Horn Lane, London. She had a son Audrey (1664–1708) from this union. The earl brought a lawsuit in 1686 to refute her claims, a lawsuit he won.[3]

Despite being a Cavalier, he adhered to Protestant principles, permitting Quakers and Puritans to join the regiment. He was a friend of Charles II's illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth. Oxford raised a regiment of horse from 1684 onwards, just as the Life Guards were being withdrawn from Dunkirk. They were properly the Royal Regiment of Horse, but known by the colour of the uniforms as Oxford's Blues because he was the regiment's Colonel. Royalist volunteers added strength to this Protestant regiment. It was Charles II's policy to expand the army beyond the kernel that he inherited.[4] Oxford gained the disapproval at court of the Duke of Buckingham, who had declared undying enmity. Oxford replied that he "neither cared for his friendship nor feared for his hatred."

"...a troop of horse, excellently mounted, of the Royal Regiment of my Lord Aubrey de Vere, Earl of Oxford...inspecting every file of the company, the officers of which wore a red sash with gold tassels.", wrote Prince Cosmo of Tuscany on a visit to London in 1668.[5] Oxford was present at the first Army Board on 5 August 1670, chaired by the Duke of York, the king's brother who later succeeded him as King James II. On 5 July 1685 Sir Francis Compton was promoted to command the regiment. Oxford wanted the post for himself but was prevented from taking it by the King. Oxford was responsible for kitting out his regiment, and ordered a standard blue uniform from a woollen draper, Mr Munnocks of The Strand, Middlesex, whose son was killed in the service.[6]

Oxford as Lord Lieutenant of Essex was responsible for raising troops in the county, but refused James II's order to appoint Roman Catholics to public offices. In February 1688 he told King James "I will stand by Your Majesty against all enemies to the last drop of my blood. But this is a matter of conscience and I cannot comply." He was deprived of his offices. Months later he took the side of William of Orange against James II in the Glorious Revolution. He was restored to his titles and the colonelcy of The Blues, and exempted the Commission of Inspection by the Convention Parliament (1689) of April 1689. The Secretary at War, William Blathwayt, wrote asking for details of all officers removed by absolutism.[7] On 1 February 1689 Oxford and Compton lobbied Parliament to pass a vote of thanks to the army for the Whig constitution "...testified their sturdy adherence to the Protestant religion and being instrumental in delivering this country from popery and slavery."[8]

He died in 1703 without surviving male issue, making the title extinct. His daughter Lady Diana de Vere married Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St Albans, another illegitimate son of Charles II.[9]


On 12 April 1647 he married Anne Bayning, a daughter of Paul Bayning, 2nd Viscount Bayning. Anne died in 1659. On 12 April 1673 Aubrey married his mistress Diana Kirke, daughter of George Kirke and granddaughter of Aurelian Townshend.[10] They had five children:[11]

  1. Charles, who died as an infant.
  2. Charlotte, died young
  3. Diana, who married Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans.
  4. Mary, died unmarried
  5. Henrietta, died unmarried

Since he had no surviving sons and as no other suitable claimant came forward, he became the last de Vere Earl of Oxford, one of the longest-lived titles in the peerage of England; the first de Vere earl had received his title from the Empress Matilda in 1141. His descendants through Diana Beauclerk were named De Vere Beauclerk, and their son Vere Beauclerk received the barony of Vere in 1750.[12]


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  1. ^ White-Spunner, p. 44. In "Horse Guards" the author names his mother as Beatrice de Banck, a Dutch woman.
  2. ^ .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/12px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:none;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflink{font-weight:inherit}"Charles II - volume 1: May 29-31, 1660 Pages 1-16 Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles II, 1660-1. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1860". British History Online. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  3. ^ Chancellor, V. E. (2004). "Hester Davenport, styled countess of Oxford". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/70999. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Holmes, p. 50
  5. ^ "The Travels of Cosmo III in England", cited by Arthur, I, p. 82; White-Spunner, p. 50
  6. ^ White-Spunner, pp. 104–5
  7. ^ Holmes, p. 158
  8. ^ Arthur, I, p. 231
  9. ^ Holmes, p. 27
  10. ^ Cokayne 1945, pp. 260–1; Chambers 1912, p. xxxvi.
  11. ^ Burke's Dormant and Extinct Peerages, London, 1883
  12. ^ Round, John Horace (1911). "Vere" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 1020.


External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
(The Protectorate)
Justice in Eyre
south of the Trent

Succeeded by
The Duke of Monmouth
Military offices
New regiment Colonel of The Royal Regiment of Horse
Succeeded by
The Duke of Berwick
Preceded by
Earl of Arran
Colonel of The Royal Regiment of Horse
Succeeded by
The Duke of Northumberland
Honorary titles
English Interregnum Lord Lieutenant of Essex
jointly with The Duke of Albemarle 1675–1687

Succeeded by
The Lord Petre
Preceded by
The Lord Petre
Lord Lieutenant of Essex
Succeeded by
The Lord Guilford
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Robert de Vere
Earl of Oxford

4 Annotations

Pauline  •  Link

from L&M Companion
(1632-1703). Soldier; in the Dutch army 1644-50; imprisoned under the Commonwealth. Chief Justice in Eyre of the Forest south of Trent 1660-73; Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Horse from 1661. He lived in a large house (taxed on 17 hearths) in the Piazza, Covent Garden.

With his death this line of the Earls of Oxford became extinct.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

Sorry, here be it, the juicy titbit; 8 lines down:
Earl of Oxford was one of the oldest titles in the English peerage, and was held for several centuries by the de Vere family. It finally became dormant[?] in 1703 with the death of the 20th Earl. Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, is perhaps the most famous of the line, due to the claims put forward by some that he was the actual author of the works of William Shakespeare

Aubrey, 20th Earl of Oxford, had no sons and when he died in 1703 this famous title became extinct. His daughter Diana married Charles, the illegitimate son of Nell Gwynne and King Charles II who was created 1st Duke of St. Albans

Bill  •  Link

VERE, AUBREY De, twentieth Earl Of Oxford (1626-1703), son and heir of Robert de Vere, nineteenth earl; succeeded, 1632; brought up in Friesland; officer in the Dutch service till 1648; his estates sequestrated by parliament, 1651; imprisoned as a royalist, 1654 and 1659; an envoy to recall Charles II, 1660; lord-lieutenant of Essex and colonel of 'the Oxford blues' regiment, 1661; privy councillor, 1669; pensioned, 1670; opposed James II's arbitrary measures, 1688; joined the Prince of Orange, 1688; lieutenant-general, 1689; fought at the Boyne; a whig lord.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

‘Vere, Aubrey de, twentieth earl of Oxford (1627–1703), nobleman, was born in London on 28 February 1627, . . On 7 August 1632 the nineteenth earl was killed in the trenches before Maastricht, leaving his title, and very little else, to his five-year-old son.

. . Charles II's favours bolstered Oxford's anaemic fortune; the king granted him several offices which provided the earl enough revenue to support—at times precariously—his title . . he was chief justice in eyre of the forest south of Trent from June 1660 to January 1673. The office was, according to Roger North, of small use and great expense to the crown, but Charles II granted the place 'purely to gratify the Earl of Oxford who was one that ever wanted Royal boons' . . Oxford surrendered the office to the duke of Monmouth in 1673, in return for a gift of £5000 and an annuity of £2000 . .

Evidently Oxford did not use the profits of office to cultivate civility. He lived riotously on the Piazza at Covent Garden in the 1660s . . some contemporaries were scandalized by Oxford's sham marriage to the well-known actress Hester Davenport, who bore him a son, Aubrey (1664–1708), who later claimed, falsely, to be earl of Oxford. On 1 January 1673 he contracted a genuine marriage with Diana Kirke (d. 1719), daughter of George Kirke, groom of the bedchamber.

. . After William III's death Oxford was reappointed to the privy council and, for the last time, bore the sword at a coronation—Queen Anne's in April 1702. He died . . on 12 March 1703, aged 76 . . His only surviving legitimate child was a daughter—Diana, duchess of St Albans—and so with him ended the de Vere earldom of Oxford, a title which stretched back to the reign of King Stephen.’

(DNB 2017)

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





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