VERE, Sir Edward (1581-1629), of The Hague, United Provinces.

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



1624 - 9 Apr. 1624

Family and Education

b. 21 Mar. 1581, illegit. s. of Edward de Vere (d.1604), 17th earl of Oxford, and Anne, da. of Henry Vavasour of Copmanthorpe, Yorks.1 educ ?Leiden Univ. 1595;2 unm. kntd. 15 or 16 Apr. 1607.3 d. c.12 Aug. 1629.4 sig. Edwarde Vere.

Offices Held

Capt.-lt. Neths. by 1601-5, capt. 1605, sgt.-maj. 1605-14, lt.-col. 1614-d.5


Vere was the illegitimate son of the 17th earl of Oxford and Anne Vavasour, one of Elizabeth’s gentlewomen of the bedchamber.6 Born in the ‘maidens’ chamber’, probably in Whitehall Palace, his mother was committed to the Tower the day after his birth, where she was joined by Oxford, who had tried to flee the country.7 Anne was soon released and by 1590 she was the mistress of Sir Henry Lee†.8 Vere was probably brought up in Lee’s household, as in adult life he certainly stayed with Lee and was on familiar terms with him.9 He may have been the 15-year old ‘Everardus Veer’ who matriculated at Leiden University on 18 Feb. 1595, although Everardus is more usually the Latin rendering of Everard rather than Edward.

If Vere was at Leiden he was probably not there long, as he soon joined the English forces fighting the Spanish in the Netherlands under his cousin, Sir Francis Vere†. Sir John Holles* subsequently took credit for being ‘the first that put a pike’ into his young hands.10 It was presumably poverty that forced Vere into a military career, for as the illegitimate son of a notoriously extravagant peer he undoubtedly inherited little. Once when in England he was so hard up that he accepted £30 from Sir Henry Lee, although his pride would not allow him to take the money as a gift and he sent Lee the equivalent value in linen and wine from Holland.11 Vere remained with the English forces in the Netherlands after 1604, when they were transferred to Dutch service. At the end of 1605 he was appointed sergeant-major in the regiment of Sir Francis Vere’s brother, Sir Horace.12 When not on campaign he seems to have been based at The Hague, though he frequently visited England. On one such occasion he carried letters for the deputy governor of Flushing, and was knighted at Newmarket by James in 1607.13

It is possible that Vere had political ambitions. In 1618 he was recommended by Sir Horace Vere and his uncle, Sir Thomas Vavasour*, to secretary of state (Sir) Robert Naunton*, although nothing came of this overture except a single letter to Naunton celebrating the fall of Oldenbarneveldt.14 Between 1620 and 1623 Vere commanded Sir Horace’s regiment while the latter led the ill-fated English expeditionary force to the Palatinate. In July 1622 Vere quarrelled with Sir Edward Cecil*, with whom the Veres were permanently feuding, partly because Vere’s father had been married to Cecil’s aunt at the time of his affair with Anne Vavasour. Cecil, as the senior English colonel, claimed the right to lead the English contingent in the march to s’Hertogenbosch, whereas Vere argued that as commander of Sir Horace Vere’s regiment he should lead. Cecil objected to Vere’s language, and a duel was only prevented by the Prince of Orange, who had both men arrested.15 By 1624 Vere had also fallen out with Carleton, causing Sir Horace Vere to apologize for his behaviour.16

Vere was a scholar as well as a soldier. Indeed, after his death John Hampden* said he spent ‘all summer in the field, all winter in the study’.17 A thick folio volume consisting of his translations from the classical historian Polybius testifies to the truth of this claim,18 and he also wrote about alchemy.19 However, he seems to have been willing to appropriate the books and coins collected by a junior officer.20 In religious matters Vere was hostile to the Dutch Arminians. He wrote approvingly of the fall of Oldenbarneveldt, declaring that ‘God hath given a great deliverance to his church, the truth whereof these men, even with the subtleties of the devils, have sought to undermine and overthrow’.21 He was also connected with puritan ministers in the Netherland such as Sir Horace Vere’s chaplain, Obadiah Sedgwick, and John Davenport.22

It is unclear whether Vere sought election to Parliament in 1624. There is no evidence that he was at Newcastle-under-Lyme when he was returned there on 19 Jan. 1624, or indeed in England, as he was still in the Netherlands on 10 Dec. 1623.23 It has been suggested that he was nominated for the seat by the duchy of Lancaster.24 Vere had several connections with the duchy interest at Newcastle-under-Lyme, but it is not clear which of these, if any, was deployed on his behalf. His half-sister Susan was married to Philip Herbert*, 1st earl of Montgomery, the brother of William Herbert, earl of Pembroke, steward of the manor of Newcastle-under-Lyme for the duchy.25 In addition, his half-brother Henry de Vere, 18th earl of Oxford, with whom he corresponded in 1622,26 was the grandson of Thomas Trentham† of Rocester Priory in Staffordshire, who had married the sister of Ralph Sneyd of Keele in Staffordshire. In 1624 Ralph’s son and heir held the farm of the duchy manor of Newcastle-under-Lyme.27 Another strong possibility is that Vere’s candidacy was supported by Staffordshire’s lord lieutenant, the 3rd earl of Essex, who had served with both Sir Horace Vere and the earl of Oxford in the Palatinate in the early 1620s.28 Whatever the truth of the matter, Vere proved a controversial candidate. Although he was first named in the indenture, ten of the 26 capital burgesses failed to support him. His return was subsequently challenged by the unsuccessful candidate, John Keeling*, and his election was nullified by the House on 9 April.29

By July 1624 Vere was back in the Netherlands, assuming that he had ever left, where he again served as Sir Horace Vere’s deputy.30 Present at the siege of s’Hertogenbosch in 1629, he was shot in the back of the head on 9 Aug., shortly after giving the Prince of Orange a tour of the siege works. He died about three days later and was buried at Bomonel.31 There is no evidence that he left a will. A portrait of Vere, with his arm in a sling, is in the possession of the Townshend family, descendants of Sir Horace Vere, at Raynham, Norfolk.32

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Ben Coates


E.K. Chambers, Sir Henry Lee, 315.

  • 1. HMC Hastings, ii. 29; C24/379, unnumb. bdle., Lee v. Vavasour et al., f. 2; Oxford DNB sub Vavasour, Anne; CP, x. 250-4.
  • 2. Pilgrims and other people from British Isles in Leiden comp. J.W. Tammel, 350.
  • 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 142.
  • 4. HMC Cowper, i. 391.
  • 5. D.J.B. Trim, ‘Fighting "Jacob’s Warres". The Employment of English and Welsh Mercenaries in the European Wars of Religion’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 2002), pp. 397-8; HMC Buccleuch, i. 526; Add. 46189, f. 24v.
  • 6. C.W. Barrell, ‘"Shake-speare’s" Own Secret Drama: Discovery of Hidden Facts in the Pvte. Life of Edward de Vere’, Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletter, Amer. Branch, iii. 23-33.
  • 7. HMC Hastings, ii. 29; S.W. May, ‘Poems of Edward De Vere, 17th earl of Oxford and Robert Devereux, 2nd earl of Essex’, Studies in Philology, lxxvii. 10.
  • 8. Chambers, 160, 162.
  • 9. C24/379, unnumb. bdle., Lee v. Vavasour et al. ff. 1-2.
  • 10. Memorials of the Holles Fam. ed. A.C. Wood (Cam. Soc. ser. 3. lv), 89.
  • 11. C24/379, unnumb. bdle., Lee v. Vavasour et al. f. 2.
  • 12. Trim, 397-8.
  • 13. HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, iii. 352.
  • 14. Letters from and to Sir Dudley Carleton ed. P. Hardwicke (1775), pp. 283-4.
  • 15. C. Dalton, Life and Times of Sir Edward Cecil, ii. 6 n. 1, 14.
  • 16. S.L. Adams, ‘Protestant Cause’ (Oxford Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1973), p. 438; SP84/116, f. 67. See also SP84/110, f. 225r-v, undated letter, Vere to Carleton, from around this time.
  • 17. De Jure Maiestatis (1628-30) and Letter Bk. of Sir John Eliot (1625-1632) ed. A.B. Grosart, ii. 167.
  • 18. HMC 6th Rep. 310.
  • 19. Cat. of Portsmouth Coll. of Bks. and Pprs. 19.
  • 20. Fairfax Corresp. ed. G.W. Johnson, i. p. xxxvi.
  • 21. Letters from and to Sir Dudley Carleton, 284.
  • 22. A.B. Davenport, Hist. and Genealogy of Davenport Fam. 316.
  • 23. T. Pape, Newcastle-under-Lyme, 265; SP84/115, ff. 108-9.
  • 24. R.E. Ruigh, Parl. of 1624, 52; J.K. Gruenfelder, Influence in Early Stuart Elections, 83.
  • 25. CP, x. 418; Duchy of Lancaster Office-Holders ed. R. Somerville, 167.
  • 26. Harl. 1581, ff. 160-1.
  • 27. CP, x. 253; VCH Staffs. viii. 14, 48, 184; DL30/238/20.
  • 28. HP Commons, 1558-1603, iii. 555-7; V.F. Snow, Essex the Rebel, 94, 98.
  • 29. CJ, i. 759a.
  • 30. SP84/118, ff. 213-14.
  • 31. H. Hexham, Historical Relation of Famous Siege of Busse, and surprising of Wessell (Delft, 1630), p. 24.
  • 32. Barrell, 31, 33.