PERCY, Algernon, Lord Percy (1602-1668), of Petworth, Suss.; later of Northumberland House, Westminster

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1626 - 28 Mar. 1626

Family and Education

b. 29 Sept. 1602, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of Henry Percy, 9th earl of Northumberland, and Dorothy, da. of Walter Devereux, 1st earl of Essex, wid. of Sir Thomas Perrot† of Haroldston, Pemb.; bro. of Henry*.1 educ. privately (William Nicholson) 1608-15; St. John’s, Camb. 1615, MA 1616; M. Temple 1615; Christ Church, Oxf. 1617, Padua 1621; travelled abroad (Low Countries, France, Italy) 1618-24.2 m. (1) c.1628, (with £12,000), Anne (d. 6 Dec. 1637), da. of William Cecil*, 2nd earl of Salisbury, 5da. (4 d.v.p.); (2) 1 Oct. 1642, Elizabeth (d. 11 Mar. 1705), da. of Theophilus Howard*, 2nd earl of Suffolk, 1s. 1da. (d.v.p.). styled Lord Percy; KB 1616; summ. to Lords in fa.’s barony 28 Mar. 1626; suc. fa. 5 Nov. 1632 as 10th earl of Northumberland; KG 1635. d. 13 Oct. 1668.3

Offices Held

Commr. subsidy, Suss. 1624;4 j.p. Cumb. 1625-at least 1641, 1660-d., co. Dur. by 1650-1660, Hants by 1650-at least 1653, Mdx. 1630-42, by 1650-53, 1660-d., Northumb. 1625-d. (custos rot. by 1650-60), Suss. 1625-42, by 1644-d. (custos rot. by 1644-50, 1660-d.), Yorks. (E. Riding) 1625-at least 1641, 1660-d., Yorks. (N. Riding) 1625-at least 1641, Yorks. (W. Riding) 1625-at least 1641, Westmld. by 1650-at least 1653, 1660-d., liberties of Cawood, Wistow and Otley, Yorks. 1664;5 commr. oyer and terminer, Home circ. 1625-42, 1660-d., Northern circ. 1625-41, 1654-d., Suss. 1627, 1644, Cumb. 1630, Mdx. 1634-45, 1660-d., Cambs. 1640, Essex 1640, Beds. 1640, London 1644, Surr. 1644, Borders 1663-d;6 ld. lt. Cumb., Northumb. and Westmld. (jt.) 1626-39, Northumb. (sole) 1639-at least 1642, (jt.) 1660-d., Suss. (jt.) 1635-42, (sole) 1642, 1660-d., Anglesey, Pemb. and Surr. 1642;7 bailiff and rent collector, le Northsheeles, Northumb. 1626;8 commr. Forced Loan, Cumb., Yorks. (E. Riding), Yorks (N. Riding), Yorks. (W. Riding), Northumb. Suss., Chichester, 1627,9 Swans, Eng. except West Country 1629;10 member, Council in the North 1633-6;11 bailiff of the liberty of Ennerdale, kpr. of the forest of Ennerdale, and conductor of tenants in Ennerdale, Cumb. 1633;12 commr. disorders in middle shires 1635;13 freeman, Portsmouth, Hants 1636;14 commr. sewers, Suss. 1637-41, 1655-60, Mdx. 1637-8, 1645, 1655-60, Kent 1640, Kent and Suss. 1645, 1666, Kent and Surr. 1645, London and Mdx. 1645, Gt. Fens 1646, 1654-62, Yorks. 1660-d., piracy, London and Mdx. 1639, Devon 1639, Suff. 1640, Cornw. 1641, Dorset 1642;15 kpr. Nonsuch Palace, Surr. 1639;16 gaol delivery and oyer and terminer, Surr. 1640, London 1641, 1644-5, 1659-d., gaol delivery, Surr. 1644, Suss. 1644;17 commr. cts. martial, London 1644, defence, Wilts. 1644, Surr. 1645, Northern Assoc., Cumb., Northumb., Yorks. 1645, management, Westminster collegiate church and sch. 1645, appeals, Oxf. Univ. 1647, militia, Cumb., Northumb. and Suss. 1648, 1660, Carm., Dorset, Mdx., Surr. and Yorks. 1648.18

Master of the Horse to Queen Henrietta Maria 1626-8;19 PC 5 Nov. 1636-at least 1641, 31 May 1660-d.;20 member, Council of War 1637, pres. by 1640;21 ld. adm. 1638-42; commr. Admlty 1642-3, 1645-8,22 assembly of divines 1643, preservation of books and manuscripts 1643; member, cttee. of Both Kingdoms 1644-8; commr. Treaty of Uxbridge 1645, provision for New Model Army 1645, excise regulation 1645, abuses in heraldry 1645, plantations 1646, exclusion from sacrament 1646, sale of bps.’ lands 1646, indemnity 1647, managing assessment 1647, navy and customs 1647, scandalous offences 1648, removing obstructions 1648,23 Treaty of Newport 1648;24 commr. earl marshalship 1662.25

Adm. of the Fleet 1636, 1637;26 gen. (south of the Trent) 1639-40,27 capt.-gen. 1640-1;28 capt. of Tynemouth, Northumb. 1660-d.29


Percy was descended from William de Percy, who probably took his name from Percy-en-Auge, in Calvados, Normandy. He came to England shortly after the Conquest, becoming an important Yorkshire baron before his death on the First Crusade.30 A member of the family represented Yorkshire in Parliament as early as 1297, and in 1377 Henry Percy, the father of Henry ‘Hotspur’, was made earl of Northumberland. However, the Percys were frequently at odds with royal authority and consequently the earldom fell into abeyance in 1537. In 1557 it was conferred on Percy’s great-uncle, who was executed in 1572 for his part in the rising of the northern earls. It was nevertheless allowed to pass, by a special remainder, to Percy’s grandfather, but the family were obliged to live at Petworth, their west Sussex residence, although they retained vast estates in the north.31

Percy’s father secured the place of captain of the band of gentleman pensioners at the accession of James and a place on the Privy Council, but he unwisely admitted his kinsman, the gunpowder plotter Sir Thomas Percy, to the band without first requiring him to take the Oath of Supremacy, and consequently spent 16 years in the Tower, where his taste for chemical experiments earned him the sobriquet of ‘the Wizard Earl’. During this period of enforced inactivity he doubled his rent-roll to nearly £13,000 p.a., and applied himself to the education of his heir ‘to wean him from his nursery company and his mother’s wings’ at an early age. From 1608 Percy spent considerable time in the Tower with his father and may have fallen under the influence of another prisoner, Sir Walter Ralegh†. When he left the Tower for Cambridge in 1615, Northumberland thought him ‘raw and behind many of his age’, and drew his tutor’s attention to his bashfulness, ‘partly to be excused in him, for all our name are subject rather to few words than to much babbling’. The backwardness was curable, Northumberland himself admitting that by 1618 Percy had ‘a piece of the scholar’ and would readily ‘gain the tongues’ on travelling in Europe under the conduct of Edward Dowse*.32 He maintained his reserve: ‘no man’, observed Clarendon (Edward Hyde†), ‘had ever fewer idle words to answer for’.33

Northumberland was released as part of a general amnesty for political prisoners in the summer of 1621 and Percy, having come of age two years later, was returned for Sussex in 1624.34 He was appointed to six committees in the last Jacobean Parliament. On 27 Feb. he was named to the committee to consider the dishonour allegedly done to the duke of Buckingham by the Spanish ambassador, and he was among those instructed to confer with the Lords on 3 Mar. about the address for breaking off negotiations for the Spanish Match. He was also appointed to attend conferences with the peers on the monopolies bill (8 Apr.), and to serve on committees for bills on limitations and the abuse of privilege in the Exchequer (1 May). On 16 Apr. he was named to the committee to ‘agree of the heads of a bill about finding of horse and armour’, and was likewise among those instructed to inquire into the abuses of heraldry 12 days later. On 29 Apr. he presented the names of Sussex office-holders suspected of Catholicism. The wife of his father’s former servant (Sir) Edward Fraunceys* and some of the earl of Arundel’s servants did not attend church, he declared, while three commissioners of sewers were ‘absolute papists’.35

After the end of that Parliament Percy joined his brother-in-law, James Hay, 1st earl of Carlisle, and his cousin Viscount Kensington (Henry Rich*) in France, where they were negotiating Prince Charles’s marriage, and returned in the autumn, ‘with good news as is presumed’, reported Chamberlain, ‘else would they not make him the messenger’.36 The following year he was returned at Chichester, some 12 miles from Petworth. In the first Caroline Parliament he was named to attend the conference with the Lords of 23 June 1625 on the petition for a fast, and was among those ordered six days later to consider a bill to prevent the corrupt procurement of judicial places.37 He is not known to have attended at Oxford, where much time was spent in attacking the anti-Calvinist writings of Richard Montagu, then rector of Petworth and on good terms with Percy’s father.38

Re-elected for Chichester in 1626, Percy was appointed to four committees. He was instructed to attend the conferences with the Lords on the Commons’ invitation to Buckingham to explain the renewed detention of the St. Peter (4 Mar.), and on matters of defence (8 March). He was also appointed, on 25 Mar., to consider the bill ‘for the making of the arms of the kingdom more serviceable’.39 His conduct in the House and elsewhere must have been such as to encourage Buckingham in the hope that he would prove useful to him in the Lords, for on 28 Mar. he was called up in right of his father’s barony. He received his father’s proxy, which had previously been given to the duke, and after the Parliament it was rumoured that he would purchase the mastership of the horse from Buckingham, although in the event he only received the equivalent position in the queen’s Household.40 In the summer of 1628, however, he resigned his office at Court, and retired to the country, having become disillusioned with Buckingham. Indeed, later that year he told his father-in-law, the 2nd earl of Salisbury, that he did not lament the duke’s recent assassination.41

By 1633 Percy had succeeded to his father’s title and had returned to Westminster, being described by Carlisle in March of that year as ‘one of the honestest, discreetest, and ablest young lords about the Court’. He rose rapidly in the 1630s, despite chronic ill health, becoming a privy councillor and lord admiral.42 He nonetheless wrote in January 1640 that a loan of £5,000 towards fighting the Covenanters was all that Charles could expect from one ‘whose house has in these latter ages received little or no advantage from the Crown’.43 After commanding Charles I’s army in the Second Bishops’ War he took the side of Parliament in the Civil War, but became a leader of the peace party in the Lords, and protested against the trial of the king. He received a pardon at the Restoration, and was re-appointed to the Privy Council. He drew up his will on 10 Apr. 1667, added one codicil seven days later and another on 30 Mar. 1668, the last granting an annuity to his nephew, the republican Algernon Sidney†. He died on 13 Oct. 1668, and was buried at Petworth on 4 November. His only son died within less than two years, leaving a daughter, through whom the estates and name of Percy passed eventually to Sir Hugh Smithson†, who was made duke of Northumberland in 1766.44

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. CP, ix. 732-5.
  • 2. G.R. Batho, ‘Education of a Stuart nobleman’ Brit. Jnl. of Education Studs. v. 131-43; Al. Cant.; M. Temple Admiss.; Al. Ox.; CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 43; CSP Ven. 1621-3, p. 312; H.F. Brown, Inglesi e Scozzesi all’Università di Padova dall’anno 1618 sino al 1765, p. 145.
  • 3. CP, ix. 736, 738; L. Stone, Fam. and Fortune, 122, 152; Collins, Peerage, ii. 353-4; Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 33, 159.
  • 4. C212/22/23.
  • 5. C231/4, f. 190; 231/5, pp. 31, 532, 533; 231/6, pp. 194, 462; C66/2859; Perfect List of all such Persons as by Commn. under Gt. Seal of Eng. are now Confirmed to be Custos Rot., Justices of Oyer and Terminer, JPs and Quorum (1660), pp. 9, 14, 31, 41, 52; C193/13/3, ff. 17, 40v, 56, 66v; 193/13/4, ff. 58v, 85v, 104; 193/12/3, ff. 16v, 32v, 63, 77, 101, 106; Names of JPs (1650), p. 74; Q. Sess. Order Bk. ed. B.C. Redwood (Suss. Rec. Soc. liv), pp. xxv, xxix; C220/9/4, ff. 26, 91; C181/7, p. 297.
  • 6. C181/3, ff. 179v, 180v, 216v; 181/4, ff. 25, 171v, 246; 181/5, ff. 177-9v, 203, 221v, 230, 235, 238; 181/6, f. 17; 181/7, ff. 3, 6, 194, 392, 411, 443, 451.
  • 7. Sainty, Lords Lieutenants, 16, 29, 35; A. and O. i. 2-3; LJ, v. 386; Sainty, Lords Lieutenants, 116.
  • 8. E315/311, f. 11.
  • 9. C193/12/2, ff. 8, 13, 14v, 16v, 42v, 59, 76v.
  • 10. C181/3, f. 267v.
  • 11. R. Reid, Council in the North, 498.
  • 12. E315/311, f. 16v.
  • 13. CSP Dom. 1635, p. 510.
  • 14. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 351.
  • 15. C181/5, ff. 69, 81, 114v, 130v, 132v, 176, 177v, 187v, 205v, 226v, 253, 254v, 263v, 266, 268v; 181/6, ff. 26, 67, 106, 380; 181/7, ff. 37, 44, 58, 147, 354, 406.
  • 16. CSP Dom. 1639-40, p. 186.
  • 17. C181/5, ff. 169, 213v, 230v, 235, 239, 264v; 181/6, f. 356; 181/7, ff. 1, 435.
  • 18. A. and O. i. 487, 490, 705, 730, 804, 927, 1141, 1235-6, 1239, 1241-3, 1245, 1247; ii. 1429, 1440, 1444.
  • 19. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 140; CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 218.
  • 20. PC2/46, p. 435; 2/53 p. 189; 2/54/2, p. 4.
  • 21. CSP Dom. 1637, p. 224; 1639-40, p. 332.
  • 22. G.F. James and J.J.S. Shaw, ‘Admiralty Admin. and Personnel, 1619-1714’, BIHR, xiv. 14-16.
  • 23. A. and O. i. 181, 343, 382, 609, 658, 691, 839, 840, 852, 905, 937, 1015, 1047, 1227.
  • 24. CSP Dom. 1648-9, p. 277.
  • 25. Ibid. 1662, p. 381.
  • 26. Ibid. 1635-6, p. 310; 1637, p. 2.
  • 27. Ibid. 1638-9, p. 608.
  • 28. Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, iii. 988; HMC Cowper, ii. 279.
  • 29. CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 197.
  • 30. Oxford DNB sub Percy, William de.
  • 31. OR; CP, ix. 710, 713, 728-30.
  • 32. Batho, 139-40, 142-3; HMC Hatfield, xxi. 99.
  • 33. Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion ed. W.D. Macray, ii. 537.
  • 34. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, ii. 269.
  • 35. CJ, i. 676b, 693a, 695a, 722a, 757b, 768a; ‘Holland 1624’, ii. f. 53v.
  • 36. HMC 7th Rep. 221; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 580.
  • 37. Procs. 1625, pp. 228, 269.
  • 38. Oxford DNB sub Mountague, Richard; Corresp. of John Cosin, i. ed. G. Ornsby (Surtees Soc. lii), 31, 44, 51, 73.
  • 39. Procs. 1626, ii. 195, 216, 367.
  • 40. Ibid. i. 216; iv. 11, 346.
  • 41. CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 218; HMC Hatfield, xxii. 246.
  • 42. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 220; ii. 168; Clarendon, i. 189, 354.
  • 43. HMC 3rd Rep. 80.
  • 44. S.R. Gardiner, Hist. of Gt. Civil War, i. 53; iv. 289; HMC Pepys, 295; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 44; PROB 11/328, ff. 155-9; CP, ix. 738-40, 743.