HERBERT, Hon. James (c.1623-77), of Tythrop House, Kingsey, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. c.1623, 6th but 2nd surv. s. of Philip Herbert†, 1st Earl of Montgomery and 4th Earl of Pembroke, by 1st w. Lady Susan Vere, da. and coh. of Edward, 17th Earl of Oxford; bro. of John Herbert, Philip Herbert, Lord Herbert of Cardiff and William Herbert. educ. Jesus, Oxf. matric. 15 June 1638, aged 15; travelled abroad 1641-4. m. 3 Aug. 1646, Jane, da. and h. of Sir Robert Spiller of Laleham, Mdx., 4s. 3da. suc. fa. in Sheppey estate 1650.2
Commr. for assessment, Wilts. 1647-8, Kent Aug. 1660-1, Oxon. Sept. 1660-1, Bucks. 1661-74, Kent and Oxon. 1664-74, militia, Wilts. 1648, Bucks., Oxon., Westminster and Wilts. Mar. 1660; j.p. Wilts. Mar.-July 1660, Bucks. Mar. 1660-d., Oxon. 1662-d.; dep. lt. Bucks. c. Aug. 1660-d.; commr. for loyal and indigent officers, Oxon. 1662; receiver of taxes, Bucks. 1677-d.3
Herbert’s father, one of James I’s handsome young men, received, among other marks of favour, extensive grants of crown lands in Sheppey. Though the family was divided in the Civil War, he became one of the most prominent parliamentarian peers, sitting for Berkshire in the Rump after the abolition of the House of Lords. Herbert sat for Wiltshire in the Long Parliament as a recruiter, but held no office after Pride’s Purge. He acquired by marriage an estate worth over £2,000 p.a. on the borders of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, where he resided: but he inherited an interest at Queenborough, for which he was returned at the general election of 1660. An inactive Member of the Convention, he made no recorded speeches, was named to only five committees, and twice acted as teller. On 2 Apr. he was sent to the House of Lords to propose a day of thanksgiving. He was added to the committees for recovering the queen mother’s jointure and examining John Thurloe, and appointed to those for the prevention of swearing and marital separation. Herbert showed a great sense of personal loyalty towards Edmund Ludlow, his colleague at the Wiltshire election of 1646, by offering £4,000 bail for him. Ludlow, with equal loyalty, took care that Herbert should not lose by it. On 10 Dec. he was instructed to secure the concurrence of the Lords in an order for the maintenance of the Dunkirk garrison. Lord Wharton marked him as a friend, and he may have acted with the Opposition.4
Herbert was re-elected in 1661, but he is seldom mentioned by full name in the Journals, and hence his record in the Cavalier Parliament cannot be entirely distinguished for those of William Harbord and the Hon. Henry Herbert. He was not an active Member, being appointed to no more than 57 committees, including those for the corporations and uniformity bills. He acted as teller against provisos to the indemnity bill and the bill of pains and penalties. He was probably in Opposition under the Clarendon administration, since a quo warranto was ordered in 1664 into his claim to a monopoly of oysters in his constituency, and in 1669 Sir Thomas Osborne (later Lord Treasurer Danby) listed him among the Members to be gained for the Court by the Duke of Buckingham. He may have been sent to the Lords on 29 Mar. 1673 to desire a conference on the bill of ease for Protestant dissenters. In 1674 he was one of the Members who reported Shaftesbury’s assertion that he had seen a crucifix in the house of Samuel Pepys, and he was apparently listed as in Opposition by Sir Richard Wiseman. But his name appeared on the working lists, and the marriage of his son to Danby’s daughter brought him into some prominence on the court side. On 21 Feb. 1677 he moved to give the King £800,000, the sum required by the Government. ‘Had we given money the last meeting, we had not been outgone by the French in building of ships now’, he said. Unfortunately he went on to second a motion made the day before, and was laughed at for his ignorance of procedure. But Danby gratefully put his name down for a receivership of taxes. He was named to the committee to consider the bill to prevent the growth of Popery, and on 26 Mar. he moved for an address for stricter alliances against France. This proposal was well supported, but the excitement may have been too much for him. He declared himself to be ‘in perfect health’ when he made his will on 2 Apr., but two days later he was dead. He was buried in Thame Church.5