BELASYSE, Sir Henry (c.1639-67), of Worlaby, Lincs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1639, o.s. of John Belasyse, 1st Baron Belasyse of Worlaby (d.1689), by 1st w. Jane, da. and h. of Sir Robert Boteler of Watton Woodhall, Herts. m. (1) Rogersa (d.1659), da. and coh. of Richard Rogers of Bryanston, Dorset, s.p.; (2) lic. 20 Oct. 1662, aged 23, (with £8,000), Susan, da. and coh. of Sir William Armyne, 2nd Bt., of Osgodby, Lincs., 1s. KB 23 Apr. 1661.
Capt. of ft. Hull garrison Oct. 1660-2, 1665-d.; lt. Duke of Buckingham’s Horse June-Sept. 1666.1
Commr. for sewers, Lincs. Aug. 1660, corporations, Yorks. 1662-3, assessment, Lincs. and Yorks. (W. Riding) 1664-d.; freeman, York 1664.2
Belasyse’s ancestors had been Yorkshire landowners since the 13th century, expanded their estates at the dissolution of the monasteries, and first sat for Thirsk in 1586. His father, a younger son, settled in Lincolnshire, where he acquired the Worlaby estate of about £800 p.a., but he represented the family borough in both the Short and Long Parliaments until disabled for royalism. A leading commander in the field, he was raised to the peerage in 1645, and compounded on the Newark articles at £2,078. He probably became a Roman Catholic during the Interregnum, but at the Restoration he was nevertheless rewarded for his loyalty with a number of offices, including the lord lieutenancy of the East Riding and the governorship of Hull.3
Belasyse himself was a Protestant like most of his family. A young widower, he was given a commission in the Hull garrison under his father, but his company was disbanded in 1662. He was involved with Lord Buckhurst (Charles Sackville) in the manslaughter of a tanner whom they had mistaken for a highwayman in Waltham forest. ‘Having made some waste in his estate’, he was compelled by his father to marry a girl of 13 worth £1,000 p.a. and with vast expectations. She grew up into ‘a woman of much life and vivacity’ who did her duty by producing an heir, ‘but of a very small proportion of beauty’. Belasyse preferred one of the daughters of William Pierrepont, who gave him no encouragement; but he ‘used to say that since he could not marry her nobody else should’, and in fact she did not marry Lord Halifax ( Sir George Savile) until after Belasyse’s death. He obtained a letter from the King for him to be made freeman of York in order to qualify as a parliamentary candidate after the death of John Scott; but with his friend the Duke of Buckingham preengaged for Sir Thomas Osborne he desisted, and offered his services as a volunteer aboard the fleet. ‘No wonder that I expose myself upon every account, since I can’t obtain my summum bonum in this world’, he wrote. He was eventually returned to the Cavalier Parliament as a supporter of Buckingham at a by-election for Grimsby in November 1666. A moderately active Member, he was added to the committee of elections and privileges, and appointed to four others, including that on the bill for the prevention of duelling, which, unhappily for him, had little effect. He acted as teller on 9 Jan. 1667 against the third reading of the bill for compulsory burial in woollen. He ‘ran a great hazard’ by concealing Buckingham when his arrest for treasonable practices was ordered in February; but the duke had become groundlessly jealous of an intrigue between Belasyse and his mistress, Lady Shrewsbury, and made him ‘ill returns’ when he was restored to favour. Belasyse was mortally wounded after a drunken quarrel with a friend at the house of Sir Robert Carr, and buried on 16 Aug. at St. Giles in the Fields. His father survived him to become one of the Popish lords imprisoned in the Tower on the evidence of Titus Oates, and first lord of the Treasury under James II; while his widow, whom James had promised to marry, for all her Protestant zeal, was made a life peer in 1674. No later member of the family entered Parliament, and the peerage became extinct in 1691.