By , .

Biographies and Portraits

Edward Hyde the Earl of Clarendon (1609-1674), a dignified statesman and historian, as depicted here and from the National Portrait Gallery was the Lord High Chancellor during the early years of the Restoration of King Charles II. Several wonderful websites offer excellent and well detailed biographies and related background information on Lord Clarendon:1911 Encyclopedia;British Civil Wars and Wikipedia.

Clarendon in the Diary

Sam’s interactions with the Lord Chancellor were limited but favorable, including an affectionate walk where he took Lord Sandwich’s young son to meet the King, the Duke and Lord Chancellor. Sam witnessed the King granting Hyde his title and Earldom and often shared niceties while delivering a letter. Over time, amidst the political factions, Clarendon often found himself on the unpopular side of the licentious Court of Charles II. He was unfairly blamed by Lord Bristoll on a variety of fabricated charges which the Lords agreed did not constitute treason.

By 1667 he found himself blamed for the Second Dutch War and more sensitively to Charles II, the marriage of Frances Stuart to the Duke of Richmond. Charles dismissed him in 1667 and Clarendon lived out the final years of his life in exile. During that time he wrote his famous History of the Great Rebellion. Shamefully for the King, as Clarendon was old and very ill he twice wrote to the King asking to be allowed to return home to England to die with his children. The King never replied to his requests and Clarendon died at Rouen, with his younger son Lawrence Hyde present, on December 9, 1674.

Further Resources

Some of the biographies and related non-fiction written by or about Clarendon are listed below. These books tend to be rare and may be available through your local library (with the help of the research department) or are sometimes available through the used book search or your local country

  • Clarendon and His Friends by Richard Ollard
  • Clarendon’s Four Portraits by Edward Hyde Earl of Clarendon
  • The History of the Great Rebellion and Civil Wars in England in the Year 1641 by Edward Hyde Earl of Clarendon
  • The Life of Edward Earl of Clarendon by Edward Hyde Earl of Clarendon
  • The Life of Edward Earl of Clarendon, Lord High Chancellor of England by Sir Henry Craik
  • The Life and Administration of Edward First Earl of Clarendon with Original Correspondence with Authentic Papers never before published by T.H. Lister

Additional Background

Editor’s Note

This summary incorporates links provided by Matthew in 2003.


This text was copied from Wikipedia on 13 July 2024 at 3:11AM.

The Earl of Clarendon
Portrait by Peter Lely
First Lord of the Treasury
In office
19 June 1660 – 8 September 1660
MonarchCharles II of England
Preceded byThe Lord Cottington
(Lord High Treasurer)
Succeeded byThomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton
Lord Chancellor
In office
Preceded byVacant (last held by Sir Edward Herbert)
Succeeded byOrlando Bridgeman
Chancellor, University of Oxford
In office
Member of the Long Parliament
for Saltash
In office
November 1640 – August 1642 (disbarred)
Member of the Short Parliament
for Wootton Bassett
In office
April 1640 – May 1640
Personal details
Born(1609-02-18)18 February 1609
Dinton, Wiltshire, England
Died9 December 1674(1674-12-09) (aged 65)
Rouen, France
Resting placeWestminster Abbey[1]
Anne Ayliffe
(m. 1629; died 1629)​
(m. 1634; died 1667)​
RelationsMary II of England (granddaughter)
Anne, Queen of Great Britain (granddaughter)
ChildrenHenry Hyde, 2nd Earl of Clarendon
Laurence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester
Edward Hyde
James Hyde
Anne, Duchess of York
Frances Hyde
Parent(s)Henry Hyde
Mary Langford
Alma materHertford College, Oxford
  • Statesman
  • lawyer
  • diplomat
  • historian

Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon PC JP (18 February 1609 – 9 December 1674), was an English statesman, lawyer, diplomat and historian who served as chief advisor to Charles I during the First English Civil War, and Lord Chancellor to Charles II from 1660 to 1667.

Hyde largely avoided involvement in the political disputes of the 1630s until elected to the Long Parliament in November 1640. Like many moderates he felt attempts by Charles I to rule without Parliament had gone too far, but by 1642 felt Parliament's leaders were, in turn, seeking too much power. A devout believer in an Episcopalian Church of England, his opposition to Puritan attempts to reform it drove much of his policy over the next two decades. He joined Charles in York shortly before the First English Civil War began in August 1642, and initially served as his senior political advisor. However, as the war turned against the Royalists, his rejection of attempts to build alliances with Scots Covenanters or Irish Catholics led to a decline in his influence.

In 1644, the king's son, the future Charles II, was placed in command of the West Country, with Hyde and his close friend Sir Ralph Hopton as part of his Governing Council. When the Royalists surrendered in June 1646, Hyde went into exile with the younger Charles, who (from the royalist perspective) became king after his father's execution in January 1649. Hyde avoided participation in the Second or Third English Civil War, for both involved alliances with Scots and English Presbyterians; instead he served as a diplomat in Paris and Madrid. After The Restoration in 1660, Charles II appointed him Chancellor of the Exchequer and Earl of Clarendon, while Hyde's daughter Anne married the future James II, making him grandfather of two queens, Mary II and Anne.

Lord Clarendon's links to the king brought him both power and enemies, while Charles became increasingly irritated by his criticism. Despite having limited responsibility for the disastrous Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665–1667), Clarendon was charged with treason and forced into permanent exile. He lived in continental Europe until his death in 1674; during this period he completed The History of the Rebellion, now regarded as one of the most significant histories of the 1642-to-1646 civil war. First written as a defence of Charles I, it was extensively revised after 1667 and became far more critical and frank, particularly in its assessments of his contemporaries.

Personal details

Edward Hyde was born on 18 February 1609, at Dinton, Wiltshire, sixth of nine children and third son of Henry Hyde (1563–1634) and Mary Langford (1578–1661). His siblings included Anne (1597–?), Elizabeth (1599–?), Lawrence (1600–?), Henry (1601–1627), Mary (1603–?), Sibble (1605–?), Susan (1607–1656) and Nicholas (1610–1611).[2]

His father and two of his uncles were lawyers; although Henry retired after his marriage, Nicholas Hyde became Lord Chief Justice, Lawrence was legal advisor to Anne of Denmark, wife of James I.[3] Educated at Gillingham School,[4] in 1622 Hyde was admitted to Hertford College, Oxford, then known as Magdalen Hall, graduating in 1626. He was originally intended for a career in the Church of England, but the death of his elder brothers left him as his father's heir, and instead, he entered the Middle Temple to study law.[5]

He married twice, first in 1629 to Anne Ayliffe, who died six months later from smallpox, then to Frances Aylesbury in 1634. They had six children who survived infancy: Henry (1638–1709), Laurence (1642–1711), Edward (1645–1665), James (1650–1681), Anne (1637–1671), and Frances. As mother of two queens, Anne is the best remembered, but both Henry and Laurence had significant political careers, the latter being "an exceptionally able politician".[6]

Career: before 1640

Edward Hyde in 1626, aged 17, by Cornelis Janssens van Ceulen

Hyde later admitted he had limited interest in a legal career, and declared that "next the immediate blessing and providence of God Almighty" he "owed all the little he knew and the little good that was in him to the friendships and conversation ... of the most excellent men in their several kinds that lived in that age."[7] These included Ben Jonson, John Selden, Edmund Waller, John Hales and especially Lord Falkland,[5] who became his best friend.[8]

Hyde was one of the most prominent members of the famous Great Tew Circle, a group of intellectuals who gathered at Lord Falkland's country house Great Tew in Oxfordshire.[9]

On 22 November 1633 he was called to the bar and obtained quickly a good position and practice;[5] "you may have great joy of your son Ned" his uncle the Attorney General assured his father.[10] Both his marriages gained him influential friends, and in December 1634 he was made keeper of the writs and rolls of the Court of Common Pleas. His able conduct of the petition of the London merchants against Lord Treasurer Portland earned him the approval of Archbishop William Laud,[5] with whom he developed a friendship, though Laud did not make friends easily and his religious views were very different from Hyde's.[11] Hyde in his History explained that he admired Laud for his integrity and decency and excused his notorious rudeness and bad temper, partly because of Laud's humble origins and partly because Hyde recognised the same weaknesses in himself.[11]

Career: 1640 to 1660

Edward Hyde by William Dobson, circa 1643

In April 1640, Hyde was elected Member of Parliament for both Shaftesbury and Wootton Bassett in the Short Parliament and chose to sit for Wootton Bassett. In November 1640 he was elected MP for Saltash in the Long Parliament,[12] Hyde was at first a moderate critic of King Charles I, but became more supportive of the king after he began to accept reforming bills from Parliament. Hyde opposed legislation restricting the power of the King to appoint his own advisors, viewing it as unnecessary and an affront to the royal prerogative.[13] He gradually moved over towards the royalist side, championing the Church of England and opposing the execution of the Earl of Strafford, Charles's primary adviser. Following the Grand Remonstrance of 1641, Hyde became an informal adviser to the King. He left London about 20 May 1642 and rejoined the king at York.[14] In February 1643, Hyde was knighted and was officially appointed to the Privy Council; the following month he was made Chancellor of the Exchequer.[15]

Despite his own previous opposition to the King, he found it hard to forgive anyone, even a friend, who fought for Parliament, and he severed many personal friendships as a result. With the possible exception of John Pym, he detested all the Parliamentarian leaders, describing Oliver Cromwell as "a brave bad man" and John Hampden as a hypocrite, while Oliver St. John's "foxes and wolves" speech, in favour of the attainder of Strafford, he considered to be the depth of barbarism. His view of the conflict and of his opponents was undoubtedly coloured by the death of his best friend Lord Falkland at the First Battle of Newbury in September 1643. Hyde mourned his death, which he called "a loss most infamous and execrable to all posterity", to the end of his own life.[16]

In 1644, the Royalist-controlled West Country was created a separate government under the Prince of Wales, with Hyde appointed to his General Council; this was partly intended by his opponents as a way to remove him from access to the king. Hyde found it difficult to control his military commanders, notably George Goring, Lord Goring, who, although a brave and capable cavalry general, often refused to follow orders and whose ill-disciplined troops gained a reputation for looting and drunkenness.[17] He described Goring as a man who would "without hesitation have broken any trust, or performed any act of treachery...Of all his qualifications, dissimulation was his masterpiece; in which he so much excelled, that men were not ordinarily ashamed or out of countenance, in being but twice deceived by him".[18]

After the Royalist defeat, Hyde fled to Jersey in 1646; his opposition to alliances with the Scots meant he was not closely involved with the 1648 Second English Civil War, which resulted in the execution of Charles I in January 1649. Despite their differences, he was horrified by the Execution of Charles I; he later described Charles as a man who had an excellent understanding but was not sufficiently confident of it himself, so that he often changed his opinion for a worse one, and "would follow the advice of a man who did not judge as well as himself".[19]

During this period Hyde began writing The History of the Rebellion, but following defeat in the Third English Civil War in 1651, he resumed his position as advisor to Charles II and was appointed Lord Chancellor on 13 January 1658.[20] He also employed his sister Susanna as a Royalist agent; arrested in 1656, she was held in Lambeth Palace prison, where she died soon afterward. Although other female spies are mentioned in his History, she does not appear.[21]

Career: 1660 to 1667

After the Stuart Restoration in 1660, he returned to England and became even closer to the royal family through the marriage of his daughter Anne to the king's brother James, Duke of York. Contemporaries naturally assumed that Hyde had arranged the royal marriage of his daughter, but modern historians, in general, accept his repeated claims that he had no hand in it, and that indeed it came as an unwelcome shock to him. He is supposed to have told Anne that he would rather see her dead than to so disgrace her family.[22]

There were good reasons for his opposition, since he may have hoped to arrange a marriage for James with a foreign princess, and he was well aware that nobody regarded his daughter as a suitable royal match, a view Clarendon shared. On the personal level, he seems to have disliked James, whose impulsive attempt to repudiate the marriage can hardly have endeared him to his father-in-law. Anne enforced the rules of etiquette governing such marriages with great strictness, and thus caused her parents some social embarrassment: as commoners, they were not permitted to sit down in Anne's presence, or to refer to her as their daughter. As Cardinal Mazarin remarked, the marriage damaged Hyde's reputation as a politician, whether he was responsible for it or not.[22] On 3 November 1660, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Hyde, of Hindon in the County of Wiltshire, and on 20 April the next year, at the coronation, he was created Viscount Cornbury and Earl of Clarendon.[23] He served as Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1660 to 1667.[24]

Hyde's daughter Anne, James and their two daughters, Lady Mary and Lady Anne; these links brought power and enemies

As effective chief minister in the early years of the reign, he accepted the need to fulfil most of what had been promised in the Declaration of Breda, which he had partly drafted. In particular, he worked hard to fulfil the promise of mercy to all the King's enemies, except the regicides, and this was largely achieved in the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion. Most other problems he was content to leave to Parliament, and in particular to the restored House of Lords; his speech welcoming the Lords' return shows his ingrained dislike of democracy.[25]

He played a key role in Charles' marriage to Catherine of Braganza, with ultimately harmful consequences to himself. Clarendon liked and admired the Queen, and disapproved of the King's openly maintaining his mistresses. The King, however, resented any interference with his private life. Catherine's failure to bear children also was damaging to Clarendon, given the nearness of his own grandchildren to the throne, although it is most unlikely, as was alleged, that Clarendon had planned deliberately for Charles to marry an infertile bride.[26] He and Catherine remained on friendly terms; one of his last letters thanked her for her kindness to his family.[27]

As Lord Chancellor, it is commonly thought that Clarendon was the author of the "Clarendon Code", designed to preserve the supremacy of the Church of England. In reality, he was not very heavily involved with its drafting and actually disapproved of much of its content. The "Great Tew Circle" of which he had been a leading member prided itself on tolerance and respect for religious differences. The code was thus merely named after him as chief minister.[28]

In 1663, he was one of eight Lords Proprietor given title to a huge tract of land in North America which became the Province of Carolina.[29] Shortly after this, an attempt was made to impeach him by George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol, a longstanding political opponent from the Civil War. He was accused of arranging for Charles to marry a woman he knew to be barren in order to secure the throne for the children of his daughter Anne, while Clarendon House, his palatial new mansion in Piccadilly, was cited as evidence of corruption. He was also blamed for the Sale of Dunkirk, and the cost of supporting the colony of Tangiers, acquired along with Bombay as part of Catherine's dowry. The windows of Clarendon House were broken, and a placard fixed to the house blaming Hyde for "Dunkirk, Tangiers and a barren Queen".[30]

While these allegations were not taken seriously, and ended by damaging Bristol more than Hyde,[31] he became increasingly unpopular with the public and with Charles, whom he subjected to frequent lectures on his shortcomings.[32] His contempt for Charles' mistress Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, earned him her enmity, and she worked with the future members of the Cabal Ministry to destroy him.[33]

The Earl of Clarendon; 1666 engraving by David Loggan

His authority was weakened by increasing ill-health, in particular attacks of gout and back pain [34] that became so severe that he was often incapacitated for months on end: Samuel Pepys records that early in 1665 Hyde was forced to lie on a couch during Council meetings. Even neutrals began to see him as a liability, and when attempts to persuade him to retire failed, some spread false reports that he was anxious to step down. These included Sir William Coventry who later admitted to Pepys that he was largely responsible for these reports; he claimed this was because Clarendon's dominance of policy and refusal to consider alternatives made even their discussion impossible.[35] In his memoirs, Clarendon makes clear his bitterness against Coventry for what he regarded as betrayal, which he contrasted with the loyalty shown by his brother Henry.[36]

Above all, the military setbacks of the Second Anglo-Dutch War of 1665 to 1667, together with the disasters of the Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of London, led to his downfall, and the successful Dutch raid on the Medway in June 1667 was the final blow to his career.[37] Despite having opposed the war, unlike many of his accusers, he was removed from office; as he left Whitehall, Barbara Villiers shouted abuse at him, to which he replied with simple dignity: "Madam, pray remember that if you live, you will also be old".[38]

Earl of Clarendon Act 1667
Act of Parliament
Long titleAn Act for banishing and disenabling the Earl of Clarendon.
Citation19 & 20 Cha. 2. c. 2
  • (Ruffhead: 19 Cha. 2. c. 10)
Royal assent19 December 1667
Other legislation
Repealed byStatute Law Revision Act 1948
Status: Repealed
Text of statute as originally enacted

At almost the same time he suffered a great personal blow when his wife died after a short illness: in a will drawn up the previous year, he described her as "my dearly beloved wife, who hath accompanied and assisted me in all my distresses".[39] Clarendon was impeached by the House of Commons for blatant violations of Habeas Corpus, for having sent prisoners out of England to places like Jersey and holding them there without benefit of trial. He was forced to flee to France in November 1667. The King made it clear that he would not defend him, which betrayal of his old and loyal servant harmed Charles's reputation. Efforts to pass an Act of Attainder against him failed, but an Act providing for his banishment (19 & 20 Cha. 2. c. 2) was passed in December and received the royal assent. Apart from the Duke of York (Clarendon's son-in-law) and Henry Coventry, few spoke in his defence. Clarendon was accompanied to France by his private chaplain and ally William Levett, later Dean of Bristol.[40]

Exile, death, and legacy

Arms of Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon: Quarterly, 1st and 4th: Azure, a chevron between three lozenges Or (Hyde); 2nd: Paly of six or and gules a bend azure (Langford); 3rd: Azure, a cross argent (Aylesbury).[41]

The rest of Clarendon's life was passed in exile. He left Calais for Rouen on 25 December, returning on 21 January 1668, visiting the baths of Bourbon in April, thence to Avignon in June, residing from July 1668 till June 1671 at Montpellier, whence he proceeded to Moulins and to Rouen again in May 1674. His sudden banishment entailed great personal hardships. His health at the time of his flight was much impaired, and on arriving at Calais he fell dangerously ill; and Louis XIV, anxious at this time to gain popularity in England, sent him peremptory and repeated orders to quit France. He suffered severely from gout, and during the greater part of his exile could not walk without the aid of two men. At Évreux, on 23 April 1668, he was the victim of a murderous assault by English sailors, who attributed to him the non-payment of their wages, and who were on the point of despatching him when he was rescued by the guard. For some time he was not allowed to see any of his children; even correspondence with him was rendered treasonable by the Act of Banishment; and it was not apparently until 1671, 1673, and 1674 that he received visits from his sons, the younger, Lawrence Hyde, being present with him at his death.[42]

He spent his exile updating and expanding his History, the classic account of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms,[42] and for which he is chiefly remembered today. The sale proceeds from this book were instrumental in building the Clarendon Building and Clarendon Fund at Oxford University Press.[43]

The diarist Samuel Pepys wrote thirty years later that he never knew anyone who could speak as well as Hyde.

He died in Rouen, France, on 9 December 1674. Shortly after his death, his body was returned to England, and he was buried in a private ceremony in Westminster Abbey on 4 January 1675.[44]

Portrayals in drama and fiction

Nigel Bruce played Sir Edward Hyde in the 1947 film The Exile, with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. as Charles II.

In the film Cromwell, Clarendon (called only Sir Edward Hyde in the film), is portrayed by Nigel Stock as a sympathetic yet conflicted man torn between Parliament and the king. He finally turns against Charles I altogether when the king pretends to accept Cromwell's terms of peace but secretly and treacherously plots to raise a Catholic army against Parliament and start a second civil war. Clarendon reluctantly, but bravely, gives testimony at the king's trial (where in real life he was not present) which is instrumental in condemning him to death.

In the 2003 BBC TV mini-series Charles II: The Power and The Passion, Clarendon was played by actor Ian McDiarmid. The series portrayed Clarendon (referred to as 'Sir Edward Hyde' throughout) as acting in a paternalistic fashion towards Charles II, something the king comes to dislike. It is also intimated that he had arranged the marriage of Charles and Catherine of Braganza already knowing that she was infertile so that his granddaughters through his daughter Anne Hyde (who had married the future James II) would eventually inherit the throne of England.

In the 2004 film Stage Beauty, starring Billy Crudup and Claire Danes, Clarendon (again referred to simply as Edward Hyde) is played by Edward Fox.

In fiction, Clarendon is a minor character in An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears and in Act of Oblivion (2022) by Robert Harris. He is also a recurring character in the Thomas Chaloner series of mystery novels by Susanna Gregory. All three authors show him in a fairly sympathetic light.


See also


  1. ^ "Edward Hyde & family". Westminster Abbey. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Henry Hyde, MP". 26 September 1563. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  3. ^ Seaward 2008.
  4. ^ Wagner 1958, p. .
  5. ^ a b c d Chisholm 1911, p. 428.
  6. ^ Naylor 1983.
  7. ^ Chisholm 1911, p. 428 cites Life, i., 25
  8. ^ Hyde 2009, p. 440.
  9. ^ Trevor-Roper, Hugh, "The Great Tew Circle" in Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans – Seventeenth-century essays, Secker and Warburg, 1987, reprinted Fontana, 1989, p.166
  10. ^ Ollard 1987, p. 20.
  11. ^ a b Ollard 1987, p. 43.
  12. ^ Willis 1750, pp. 229–239.
  13. ^ Holmes 2007, p. 44.
  14. ^ Firth 1891, p. 372 cites Life, ii. 14, 15; cf. Gardiner, x. 169.
  15. ^ Firth 1891, p. 373 cites Life, ii. 77; Black, Oxford Docquets, p. 351.
  16. ^ Hyde 2009, p. 182.
  17. ^ Hutton 2004.
  18. ^ Hyde 2009, p. 231.
  19. ^ Hyde 2009, p. 335.
  20. ^ Firth 1891, p. 376 cites Lister, i. p. 441.
  21. ^ Eales 2019.
  22. ^ a b Ollard 1987, p. 226.
  23. ^ Firth 1891, p. 378 cites Lister, ii. p. 81
  24. ^ Firth 1891, p. 385 cites Kennett, Register, pp. 294, 310, 378; Macray, Annals of the Bodleian Library, ed. 1890, p. 462.
  25. ^ Firth 1891, p. 382.
  26. ^ Wheatley, Henry Benjamin, Round about Piccadilly and Pall Mall (1870), reprinted by Cambridge University Press, 2011, p.85
  27. ^ Ollard 1987, p. 341.
  28. ^ Kenyon 1978, p. 215.
  29. ^ Firth 1891, p. 379.
  30. ^ Wheatley, p.85
  31. ^ Ollard 1987, p. 266.
  32. ^ Ollard 1987, p. 276.
  33. ^ Antonia Fraser King Charles II Mandarin Edition 1993 p.253
  34. ^ Ollard 1987, p. 270.
  35. ^ Diary of Samuel Pepys, 2 September 1667
  36. ^ Ollard goes so far as to say that Clarendon detested William Coventry. Clarendon and his Friends (1987) p.272
  37. ^ Fraser, Antonia King Charles II p.251
  38. ^ Fraser p.254
  39. ^ Ollard 1987, p. 348.
  40. ^ Clarendon & Rochester 1828, p. 285.
  41. ^ Maclagan & Louda 1999, p. 27.
  42. ^ a b Chisholm 1911, p. 432.
  43. ^ Trevor-Roper 1979, pp. 73–79.
  44. ^ Firth 1891, p. 384.





  • Brownley, Martine Watson. Clarendon & the Rhetoric of Historical Form (1985)
  • Craik, Henry. The life of Edward, earl of Clarendon, lord high chancellor of England. (2 vol., 1911) online, vol. 1 to 1660, and vol. 2 from 1660
  • Eustace, Timothy. "Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon," in Timothy Eustace, ed., Statesmen and Politicians of the Stuart Age (London, 1985), pp. 157–178.
  • Finlayson, Michael G. "Clarendon, Providence, and the Historical Revolution", Albion (1990), 22#4, pp. 607–632 in JSTOR
  • Firth, Charles H. "Clarendon's 'History of the Rebellion,"' Parts 1, II, III, English Historical Review vol 19, nos. 73–75 (1904)
  • Harris, R.W. Clarendon and the English Revolution (London, 1983).
  • Hill, Christopher. "Clarendon and the Civil War", History Today (1953), 3#10, pp. 695–703
  • Hill, Christopher. "Lord Clarendon and the Puritan Revolution", in Hill, Puritanism and Revolution (London, 1958)
  • MacGillivray, R.C. (1974). Restoration Historians and the English Civil War. Springer. ISBN 9789024716784.
  • Major, Philip, ed. Clarendon Reconsidered: Law, Loyalty, Literature, 1640–1674 (2017), topical essays by scholars
  • Miller, G.E. Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon (Boston, 1983), as historical writer
  • Richardson, R.C. The Debate on the English Revolution Revisited (London, 1988)
  • Trevor-Roper, Hugh. "Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon" in Trevor-Roper, From Counter-Reformation to Glorious Revolution (1992) pp. 173–94 online
  • Wormald, B.H.G. Clarendon, Politics, History & Religion, 1640–1660 (1951) online
  • Wormald, B.H.G. "How Hyde Became a Royalist", Cambridge Historical Journal 8#2 (1945), pp. 65–92 in JSTOR

External links

1893 text

On January 29th, 1658, Charles II. entrusted the Great Seal to Sir Edward Hyde, with the title of Lord Chancellor, and in that character Sir Edward accompanied the King to England.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

17 Annotations

First Reading

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Hyde was chairman of the Treasury Commission
per L&M

steve h  •  Link

Macaulay's portrait of Clarendon…

"At the Restoration Hyde became chief minister. In a few months it was announced that he was closely related by affinity to the royal house. His daughter had become, by a secret marriage, Duchess of York. His grandchildren might perhaps wear the crown. He was raised by this illustrious connection over the heads of the old nobility of the land, and was for a time supposed to be allpowerful. In some respects he was well fitted for his great place. No man wrote abler state papers. No man spoke with more weight and dignity in Council and in Parliament. No man was better acquainted with general maxims of statecraft. No man observed the varieties of character with a more discriminating eye. It must be added that he had a strong sense of moral and religious obligation, a sincere reverence for the laws of his country, and a conscientious regard for the honour and interest of the Crown. But his temper was sour, arrogant, and impatient of opposition. Above all, he bad been long an exile; and this circumstance alone would have completely disqualified him for the supreme direction of affairs. I" ...
"To him England was still the England of his youth; and he sternly frowned down every theory and every practice which had sprung up during his own exile. Though he was far from meditating any attack on the ancient and undoubted power of the House of Commons, he saw with extreme uneasiness the growth of that power. The royal prerogative, for which he had long suffered, and by which he had at length been raised to wealth and dignity, was sacred in his eyes. The Roundheads he regarded both with political and with personal aversion. To the Anglican Church he had always been strongly attached, and had repeatedly, where her interests were concerned, separated himself with regret from his dearest friends. His zeal for Episcopacy and for the Book of Common Prayer was now more ardent than ever, and was mingled with a vindictive hatred of the Puritans, which did him little honour either as a statesman or as a Christian."

Pedro.  •  Link

Hyde and Catarina de Braganca.

According to Hilda Lewis in her biography of Catarina, Hyde seems to be the main person with whom Charles discusses the proposal of marriage. This proposal being put by the Portuguese Ambassador, Fransico de Mello, initially via Lord Manchester. This was probably during May 1661.
The value of the dowry was obviously hard to refuse, but Charles wanted to know what Catarina looked like, and was assured she was very good looking. His Ambassador to Spain, Bristol, came to him just before he was about to sign and begged him not to commit. He told Charles that she was ugly, deformed and sterile. This held back the signing while Hyde investigated and could not find any faults. Luis XIV wrote to Charles saying she was a princess of great beauty, and thereby approving of the marriage. Catarina's mother hearing of the problem sent a "miniatura" [miniature portrait] of her daughter and by all acounts Charles was impressed. The contract was in the end signed on 23rd June 1661.

jeannine  •  Link

Grammont footnote on Hyde

Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, "for his comprehensive knowledge of mankind, styled the chancellor of human nature. His character, at this distance of time, may, and ought to be impartially considered. His designing or blinded contemporaries heaped the most unjust abuse upon him. The subsequent age, when the partizans of prerogative were at least the loudest, if not the most numerous, smit with a work that deified their martyr, have been unbounded in their encomium." -- Catalogue of Noble Authors, vol. ii. p. 18. Lord Orford, who professes to steer a middle course, and separate his great virtues as a man from his faults as an historian, acknowledges that he possessed almost every virtue of a minister which could make his character venerable. He died in exile, in the year 1674.… see note 43

Pedro  •  Link

Clarendon Rocks.

Trade needed good access to the sea and this required safe harbour entrances deep enough to allow larger and larger ships access. At Christchurch, for example, there were several attempts to manage the harbour mouth, the most notorious being the construction of the jetties through the spit. At the end of the seventeenth century, Andrew Yarranton, supported by Lord Clarendon, Lord of the Manor of Christchurch and Chancellor to Charles II, constructed a cut through Mudeford spit using ironstone boulders from nearby Hengistbury Head. Because he built the jetty on the downdrift side of the channel, the cut was constantly being blocked. Clarendon Rocks can be seen today and appear on many of the charts and maps of Christchurch.

Pedro  •  Link

Clarendon on the Second Dutch War.

Clarendon was anti-war...

"A peace with Holland would disappoint the Spaniards expectation of a rupture between us, and likewise that of the seditious and discontented party at home; it would compose the minds of men who do still apprehend new troubles, revive the deadness of trade, and encourage foreign investment."

(Felling, British Foreign Policy 1660-1672)

nix  •  Link

Clarendon's withdrawal and exile, from his entry in the original DNB --

By the advice of friends Clarendon wrote to the king protesting innocence of the crimes alleged in his impeachment. `I do upon my knees,' he added, `beg your pardon for any overbold or saucy expressions I have ever used to you … a natural disease in old servants who have received too much countenance.' He begged the king to put a stop to the prosecution, and to allow him to spend the small remainder of his life in some parts beyond seas #ib. p. 1181#. Charles read the letter, burnt it, and observed 'that he wondered the chancellor did not withdraw himself.' He was anxious that Clarendon should withdraw, but would neither command him to 'go nor grant him a pass for fear of the commons. Indirectly, through the Duke of York and the Bishop of Hereford, he urged him to fly, and promised `that he should not be in any degree prosecuted, or suffer in his honour or fortune by his absence' #ib. p. 1185#. Relying on this engagement, and alarmed by the rumours of a design to prorogue parliament and try him by a jury of peers, Clarendon left England on the night of 29 Nov., and reached Calais three days later. With Clarendon's flight the dispute between the two houses came to an end. The lords accepted it as a confession of guilt, concurred with the commons in ordering his petition to be burnt, and passed an act for his banishment, by which his return was made high treason and his pardon impossible without the consent of both houses #19 Dec. 1667; Lister, ii. 415-44, iii. 472-77; Cont. pp. 1155-97 ; Carte, Ormonde, v. 58 ; Lords' Journals, xii. 178; Commons' Journals, ix. 40-3#.

The rest of Clarendon's life was passed in exile. From Calais he went to Rouen #25 Dec.#, and then back to Calais #21 Jan. 1668#, intending by the advice of his friends to return to England and stand his trial. In April 1668 he made his way to the baths of Bourbon, and thence to Avignon #June 1668#. For nearly three years he lived at Montpelier #July 1668-June 1671#, removing to Moulins in June 1671, and finally to Rouen in May 1674 #Lister, ii. 478, 481, 487; Cont. p. 1238#. During the first part of his exile his hardships and sufferings were very great. At Calais he lay for three months dangerously ill. At Evreux, on 23 April 1668, a company of English sailors in French service, holding Clarendon the cause of the non-payment of their English arrears, broke into his lodgings, plundered his baggage, wounded several of his attendants, and assaulted him with great violence. One of them stunned him by a blow with the flat of a sword, and they were dragging him into the courtyard to despatch him, when he was rescued by the town guard #ib. pp. 1215, 1225#. In December 1667 Louis XIV, anxious to conciliate the English government, ordered Clarendon to leave France, and, in spite of his illness, repeated these orders with increasing harshness. After the conclusion of the Triple League had frustrated the hope of a close alliance with England, the French government became more hospitable, but Clarendon always lived in dread of fresh vexations #Cont. pp. 1202-1220, 1353#. The Archbishop of Avignon, the governor and magistrates of Montpelier, and the governor of Languedoc, treated him with great civility, and he was cheered by the constant friendship of the Abbé Montague and Lady Mordaunt. His son, Laurence, was twice allowed to visit him, and Lord Cornbury was with him when he died #Correspondence of Henry Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, ed. Singer, i. 645; Lister, iii. 488#.

To find occupation, and to divert his mind from his misfortunes, Clarendon 'betook himself to his books,' and studied the French and Italian languages. Never was his pen more active than during these last seven years of his life. His most important task was the completion and revision of his ' History of the Rebellion ' together with the composition of his autobiography. In June 1671, and again in August 1674, he petitioned for leave to return to England, and begged the queen and the Duke of York to intercede for him #Clarendon State Papers, iii. App. xliv, xlv#. These entreaties were unanswered, and he died at Rouen on 9 Dec. 1674 #Lister, ii. 488#. He was buried in Westminster Abbey on 4 Jan. 1675, at the foot of the steps ascending to Henry VII's chapel, where his second wife had been interred on 17 Aug. 1667 #Chester, Westminster Abbey Register, pp. 167, 185#. His two sons, Henry, earl of Clarendon #1638-1709#, and Laurence, earl of Rochester #1642-1711#, and his daughter, Anne, duchess of York #1637-1671#, are separately noticed. A third son, Edward Hyde, baptised 1 April 1645, died on 10 Jan. 1665, and was also buried in Westminster Abbey #ib. p. 161#. Clarendon's will is printed in Lister's ' Life of Clarendon ' #ii. 489#.

As a statesman, Clarendon's consistency and integrity were conspicuous through many vicissitudes and amid much corruption. He adhered faithfully to the principles he professed in 1641, but the circle of his ideas was fixed then, and it never widened afterwards. No man was fitter to guide a wavering master in constitutional ways, or to conduct a return to old laws and institutions; but he was incapable of dealing with the new forces and new conditions which twenty years of revolution had created.

Clarendon is remarkable as one of the first Englishmen who rose to office chiefly by his gifts as a writer and a speaker. Evelyn mentions his ' eloquent tongue,' and his ' dexterous and happy pen.' Some held that his literary style was not serious enough. Burnet finds a similar fault in his speaking. 'He spoke well ; his style had no flow [flaw ?] in it, but had a just mixture of wit and sense, only he spoke too copiously; he had a great pleasantness in his spirit, which carried him sometimes too far into raillery, in which he showed more wit than discretion.' Pepys admired his eloquence with less reserve. `I am mad in love with my lord chancellor, for he do comprehend and speak out well, and with the greatest ease and authority that ever I saw man in my life. … His manner and freedom of doing it as if he played with it, and was informing only all the rest of the company, was mighty pretty ' #cf. Warwick, Memoirs, p. 195; Evelyn, ii. 296; Pepys, Diary, 13 Oct. 1666#.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Clarendon's name lives on in the Oxford University Press imprint

In 1713, Delegate Henry Aldrich, Dean of Christ Church, oversaw the Press moving to the Clarendon Building. This was named in honour of Oxford University's Chancellor, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon. Oxford lore maintained its construction was funded by proceeds from his book *The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England (1702–04). In fact, most of the money came from Oxford's new bible printer John Baskett - and the Vice-Chancellor William Delaune defaulted with much of the proceeds from Clarendon's work. In any event, the result was Nicholas Hawksmoor's beautiful but impractical structure beside the Sheldonian in Broad Street. The Press worked here until 1830, with its operations split into the so-called Learned Side and Bible Side in different wings of the building.…

The Clarendon Building…

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

[at the restoration:]

But he [Charles] did then so entirely trust the Earl of Clarendon, that he left all to his care, and submitted to his advices as to so many oracles. The Earl of Clarendon was bred to the Law, and was like grow eminent in his profession when the wars began. He distinguished himself so in the House of Commons, that he became considerable, and was much trusted all the while the King was at Oxford. He stayed beyond sea following the King's fortune till the Restoration; and was now an absolute favourite, and the chief or the only Minister, but with too magisterial a way. He was always pressing the King to mind his affairs, but in vain. He was a good Chancellour, only a little too rough, but very impartial in the administration of justice. He never seemed to understand foreign affairs well: And yet he meddled too much in them. He had too much levity in his wit, and did not always observe the decorum of his post. He was high, and was apt to reject those who addressed themselves to him with too much contempt. He had such a regard to the King, that when places were disposed of, even otherwise than as he advised, yet he would justify what the King did, and disparage the pretensions of others, not without much scorn; which created him many enemies. He was indefatigable in business, tho' the gout did often disable him from waiting on the King: Yet, during his credit, the King came constantly to him when he was laid up by it.
---History of His Own Time. G. Burnet, 1724

Bill  •  Link

Clarendon, in his autobiography, admits the "weakness and vanity" he had exhibited in the erection of [Clarendon] house, and "the gust of envy" which it drew upon him; while he attributes his fall more to the fact that he had built such a house than to any misdemeanour he was thought to have been guilty of. Lord Rochester (Clarendon's second son) told Lord Dartmouth that when his father left England he ordered him to tell all his friends "that if they could excuse the vanity and folly of the great house, he would undertake to answer for all the rest of his actions himself."
---London, Past and Present. H.B. Wheatley, 1891.

Clarendon House:…

Bill  •  Link

The virtue of the earl of Clarendon was of too stubborn a nature for the age of Charles II. Could he have been content to enslave millions, he might have been more a monarch than that unprincely king. But he did not only look upon himself as the guardian of the laws and liberties of his country, but had also a pride in his nature that was above vice; and chose rather to be a victim himself, than to sacrifice his integrity. He had only one part to act, which was that of an honest man. His enemies allowed themselves a much greater latitude: they loaded him with calumnies, blamed him even for their own errors and misconduct, and helped to ruin him by such buffooneries as he despised. He was a much greater, perhaps a happier man, alone and in exile, than Charles the second upon his throne.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1779.

Bill  •  Link

Lord Clarendon had all that knowledge of his subject, that strength of head, as well as integrity of heart, which are essential to a good historian. He has been, in some instances, accused of partiality; but this proceeded from an amiable, perhaps an invincible cause; the warmth of his loyalty and friendship. He particularly excels in characters, which if drawn with precision and elegance, are as difficult to the writers, as they are agreeable to the readers of history. He is, in this particular, as unrivalled among the moderns, as Tacitus is among the ancients. They both saw those nice distinctions, and specific differences in human nature, which are visible only to the sagacious. He paints himself, in drawing the portraits of others; and we every where see the clear and exact comprehension, the uncommon learning, the dignity and equity of the lord-chancellor, in his character as a writer. It appears from the memoirs of his own life, that he had all the virtue of a Cato; and it is no less evident that he had something of his roughness and severity. His style is father careless than laboured. His periods are long, and frequently embarrassed and perplexed with parentheses. Hence it is, that he is one of the most difficult of all authors to be read with an audible voice. Ob. 9 Dec. 1674.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1775.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Chancellor Edward Hyde worked closely with members of the Sealed Knot and the Great Trust and Commission (two secret groups of English spies) to gently court the critical "monarchical Cromwellians" who, in 1659, Hyde believed could be influenced into supporting the restoration of Charles II.
For an explanation of who found favor after the Restoration, and who did not, and why, see…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

One thing not reflected in the early years of the Diary is that courtiers were trying to get rid of Chancellor Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon from day one.
One man who was a consistant opponent was George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol.…

This long set of annotations gives lots of background info. on issues covered in the Diary from 1550-1669.
For the whole of Bristol's strange life, see

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