De la Warr - Encyclopedia

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DE LA WARR, or Delaware, an English barony, the holders of which are descended from Roger de la Warr of Isfield, Sussex, who was summoned to parliament as a baron in 1299 and the following years. He died about 1320; his great-grandson Roger, to whom the French king John surrendered at the battle of Poitiers, died in 1370; and the male line of the family became extinct on the death of Thomas, 5th baron, in 1426.

The 5th baron's half-sister Joan married Thomas West, 1st Lord West (d. 1405), and in 1415 her second son Reginald (1394-1451) succeeded his brother Thomas as 3rd Lord West. After the death of his uncle Thomas, 5th Baron De La Warr, whose estates he inherited, Reginald was summoned to parliament as Baron La Warr, and he is thus the second founder of the family. His grandson was Thomas, 3rd (or 8th) baron (d. 1525), a courtier during the reigns of Henry VII. and Henry VIII.; and the latter's son was Thomas, 4th (or 9th) baron (c. 1472 - 1 554). The younger Thomas was a very prominent person during the reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. After serving with the English army in France in 151 3 and being present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, he rebuilt the house at Halnaker in Sussex, which he had obtained by marriage, and here in 1526 he entertained Henry VIII. "with great cheer." He disliked the ecclesiastical changes introduced by the king, and he was one of the peers who tried Anne Boleyn; later he showed some eagerness to stand well with Thomas Cromwell, but this did not prevent his arrest in 1538. He is said to have denounced "the plucking down of abbeys," and he certainly consorted with many suspected persons. But he was soon released and pardoned, although he was obliged to hand over Halnaker to Henry VIII., receiving instead the estate of Wherwell in Hampshire. He died without children in September 1554, when his baronies of De La Warr and West fell into abeyance. His monument may still be seen in the church at Broadwater, Sussex.

He had settled his estates on his nephew William West (c. 151 91 595), who then tried to bring about his uncle's death by poison; for this reason he was disabled by act of parliament (1549) from succeeding to his honours. However, in 1563 he was restored, and in 1570 was created by patent Baron De La Warr. This was obviously a new creation, but in 1596 his son Thomas (c. 1556-1602) claimed precedency in the baronage as the holder of the ancient barony of De La Warr. His claim was admitted, and accordingly his son and successor, next mentioned, is called the 3rd or the 12th baron.

Thomas West, 3rd or 12th Baron De La Warr (1577-1618), British soldier and colonial governor in America, was born on the 9th of July 1577, probably at Wherwell, Hampshire, where he was baptized. He was educated at Queen's College, Oxford, where he did not complete his course, but subsequently (1605) received the degree of M.A. In 1597 he was elected member of parliament for Lymington, and subsequently fought in Holland and in Ireland under the earl of Essex, being knighted for bravery in battle in 1599. He was imprisoned for complicity in Essex's revolt (1600-1601), but was soon released and exonerated. In 1602 he succeeded to his father's title and estates and became a privy councillor. Becoming interested in schemes for the colonization of America, he was chosen a member of the council of the Virginia Company in 160 9, and in the same year was appointed governor and captain-general of Virginia for life.

Sailing in March 161o with three ships, 150 settlers and supplies, he himself bearing the greater part of the expense of the expedition, he arrived at Jamestown on the Toth of June, in time to intercept the colonists who had embarked for England and were abandoning the enterprise. Lord De La Warr's rule was strict but just; he constructed two forts near the mouth of the James river, rebuilt Jamestown, and in general brought order out of chaos. In March 1611 he returned to London, where he published at the request of the company's council, his Relation of the condition of affairs in Virginia (reprinted 1859 and 1868). He remained in England until 1618, when the news of the tyrannical rule of the deputy, Samuel Argall, led him to start again for Virginia. He embarked in April, but died en route on the 7th of June 1618, and was buried at sea. The Delaware river and the state of Delaware were named in his honour.

A younger brother, Francis (d. c. 1569), was prominent in the affairs of Virginia, and in 1627-1629 was president of the council, and acting-governor of the colony.

In 1761 the 3rd or 12th baron's descendant, John, 7th or 16th Baron De La Warr (1693-1766), was created Viscount Cantelupe and 1st Earl De La Warr. He was a prominent figure in the House of Lords, at first as a supporter of Sir Robert Walpole. He also served in the British army and fought at Dettingen, and was made governor of Guernsey in 1752.

George John West, 5th earl (1791-1869), married Elizabeth, sister and heiress of George John Frederick Sackville, 4th duke of Dorset, who was created Baroness Buckhurst in 1864; consequently in 1843 he and his sons took the name of Sackville-West. The earl was twice lord chamberlain to Queen Victoria, and he is celebrated as "Fair Euryalus" in the Childish Recollections of his schoolfellow, Lord Byron. His son Charles Richard (1815-1873), 6th earl, served in the first Sikh war and in the Crimea, and being unmarried was succeeded by his brother Reginald (1817-1896) as 7th Earl De La Warr. Having inherited his mother's barony of Buckhurst on her death in 1870, he retained this title along with the barony and earldom of De La Warr, although the patent had contained a proviso that it should be kept separate from these dignities. In 1896 the 7th earl's son, Gilbert George Reginald Sackville-West (b. 1869), became 8th earl De La Warr.

See G. E. C(okayne), Complete Peerage (1887-1898).

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