DARCY, Sir Francis (d.1641), of Isleworth, Mdx.
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Family and Education
Capt. Col. Morgan’s regt. under Leicester in the Low Countries 1585; served under Essex at Rouen 1591; j.p. Mdx. by 1596, commr. musters 1598; col. of ft. under Essex in Ireland 1599; provost marshal, Mdx. 1601; ambassador to Denmark 1603; equerry of the stable 1603.2
Darcy’s grandfather was Thomas, Lord Darcy, executed in 1537 for treason. His father was the younger of two sons, and he himself was the youngest of a large family and probably still in his infancy at the time of his father’s death. It is likely that he was brought up at court and received some military training. Commended for bravery in the Netherlands, he evidently lost his early enthusiasm and went home; there was a report in 1589 that he never went near his own company. In April of the previous year he had certainly been in England, for he was one of a number of courtiers, including the Earl of Essex, on whom degrees were then conferred at Oxford. On the grounds that he had spent many years at court and was still owed money for his service in the Low Countries, he appealed to Lord Burghley in October 1590 for a licence to export yarn. Knighted at the siege of Rouen, he was despatched to England to give an account of Essex’s conduct and to ask permission for him to stay longer abroad. Darcy was sent back to France with orders for Essex to return immediately, and when Darcy himself next arrived in England he found that the news of his secret marriage had become public when his wife gave birth to a daughter. Both Darcy and his wife were given a spell in the Tower.3
In 1592 Darcy settled at Isleworth, where he became a justice and a commissioner for musters, ‘being a gentleman of great experience in martial affairs’. Appointed a colonel of foot in Essex’s Irish expedition, he remained in touch with Sir Robert Cecil, to whom he wrote in July 1600 to thank him for favours ‘when I most had need’, and to whom he turned at the time of Essex’s rebellion. On Sunday, 8 Feb. 1601, he ‘proved painful and diligent above all’ in subduing the rebels, and it was reported to Cecil that he was one of the people who most deserved reward. It was to Cecil, also, that he presumably owed his nomination to Parliament for Lymington in 1601. Darcy sat on the main business committee (3 Nov.) and on committees concerned with alehouses (5, 7 Nov.), Exeter churches (10 Nov.), the abbreviation of the Michaelmas law term (11 Nov.), cloth (18 Nov., 4 Dec.), the Belgrave privilege case (8, 17 Dec.), the poor law (10 Dec.) and the export of ordnance (10 Dec.). He spoke in favour of the bill forbidding a man to drink at an alehouse within two miles of his home (7 Nov.), reported the church attendance bill (20 Nov.), and the bill on the relief of soldiers and mariners (12 Dec.). Darcy was one of the Members appointed to distribute the collection for the poor at the end of the session (17 Dec.). He sat for Middlesex in the Stuart period, died 29 Nov. 1641 and was buried with his wife at Isleworth, where an elaborate monument was erected.4