John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton

John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton

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John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton (1602 – 28 August 1678) was an English royalist soldier. From 1648 he was closely associated with James, Duke of York
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

, and rose to prominence, fortune and fame.

First English Civil War

He was also the founder for New Jersey.
He bore a conspicuous part in the First English Civil War
First English Civil War
The First English Civil War began the series of three wars known as the English Civil War . "The English Civil War" was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations that took place between Parliamentarians and Royalists from 1642 until 1651, and includes the Second English Civil War and...

, supporting the royal cause; he became Governor of Exeter
Exeter is a historic city in Devon, England. It lies within the ceremonial county of Devon, of which it is the county town as well as the home of Devon County Council. Currently the administrative area has the status of a non-metropolitan district, and is therefore under the administration of the...

, and General of the royalist forces in Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...


In 1642 he joined the Marquess of Hertford
William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset
Sir William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset, KG was an English nobleman and Royalist commander in the English Civil War....

 at Sherborne
Sherborne is a market town in northwest Dorset, England. It is sited on the River Yeo, on the edge of the Blackmore Vale, east of Yeovil. The A30 road, which connects London to Penzance, runs through the town. The population of the town is 9,350 . 27.1% of the population is aged 65 or...

, and was sent into Cornwall with the rank of commissary-general to act under Sir Ralph Hopton as lieutenant-general. The royalist forces defeated, in May 1643, the Earl of Stamford at the battle of Stratton
Battle of Stratton
The Battle of Stratton was a battle of the south-western campaign of the First English Civil War. Fought on 16 May 1643, the resulting victory for Hopton confirmed Royalist control of Cornwall and destroyed Parliament's field army in Devon.-Prelude:...

, with great loss of baggage and artillery, and pursued him as far as Wells
Wells is a cathedral city and civil parish in the Mendip district of Somerset, England, on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills. Although the population recorded in the 2001 census is 10,406, it has had city status since 1205...

. In this affair Sir John distinguished himself, and was now made commander-in-chief of all the royalist forces in Devon. He sat down before Exeter, into which the Earl of Stamford had withdrawn, and which was further defended by the fleet under Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick
Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick
Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick was an English colonial administrator, admiral, and puritan.Rich was the eldest son of Robert Rich, 1st Earl of Warwick and his wife Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich, and succeeded to his father's title in 1619...

. Berkeley succeeded in maintaining a blockade, beating off the Earl of Warwick with a loss of three ships, and on 4 September 1643 the Earl of Stamford was compelled to surrender.

In 1644 Berkeley was present at the baptism of Henrietta Maria, the king's daughter, who was born at Exeter. The same year Hopton and Berkeley joined their forces to oppose Sir William Waller's westward advance, but were severely beaten at the battle of Cheriton
Battle of Cheriton
The Battle of Cheriton was an important Parliamentarian victory in the English Civil War. It took place on 29 March 1644 and resulted in the defeat of a Royalist army, which threw King Charles I onto the defensive for the remainder of the year.-Campaign:...

 near Alresford
Alresford may refer to:* Alresford, Essex, a village in Essex, England* New Alresford, a small town in Hampshire, England* Old Alresford, a village in Hampshire, England* the deanery of Alresford that includes the last two and other parishes...

 in Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

 on 29 March. In April 1645 he superseded Sir Richard Grenville
Sir Richard Grenville, 1st Baronet
Sir Richard Grenville, 1st Baronet was a Cornish Royalist leader during the English Civil War.He was the third son of Sir Bernard Grenville , and a grandson of the famous seaman, Sir Richard Grenville...

, being made colonel-general of the counties of Devon and Cornwall, took Wellington House, near Taunton
Taunton is the county town of Somerset, England. The town, including its suburbs, had an estimated population of 61,400 in 2001. It is the largest town in the shire county of Somerset....

, by assault, and then proceeded to invest Taunton. The advance of Thomas Fairfax
Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Lord Fairfax of Cameron
Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Lord Fairfax of Cameron was a general and parliamentary commander-in-chief during the English Civil War...

 westward in the autumn of the year changed the aspect of affairs. In January 1646 Fairfax was able to concentrate on Exeter, which Berkeley was forced (13 April) to surrender, on honourable terms.

In exile

In Paris, during the absence of John Byron, 1st Baron Byron
John Byron, 1st Baron Byron
John Byron, 1st Baron Byron was an English Royalist and supporter of Charles I during the English Civil War.-Life:...

 in England, he obtained, through the influence, as it would seem, of Lord Jermyn, the post of temporary governor to the Duke of York (1648), and on the death of Byron (1652) took over the position. He acquired the control of the Duke's finances, and endeavoured to bring about a match between the duke and Marie de Longueville
Marie d'Orleans-Longueville, Duchess de Nemours
Marie d'Orléans was the daughter of Henry II of Orléans, duke of Longueville. After the death of her brother Jean Louis Charles d'Orléans-Longueville in 1694 she succeeded him as Princess of Neuchâtel....

, but the French court refused approval. Berkeley himself paid court to Anne Villiers, Countess of Morton
Anne Villiers, Countess of Morton
Anne Villiers was an English noblewoman and Countess of Morton. She was famed for her beauty, bravery and loyalty to the throne. The first half of the 17th century closet drama Cicilia and Clorinda was dedicated to her....

, widowed in 1651; she turned him down, perhaps on advice from Sir Edward Hyde. Berkeley and Hyde became enemies.

Between 1652 and 1655 Berkeley served under Turenne
Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne
Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne,often called simply Turenne was the most illustrious member of the La Tour d'Auvergne family. He achieved military fame and became a Marshal of France...

 in the campaigns against Condé
Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé
Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé was a French general and the most famous representative of the Condé branch of the House of Bourbon. Prior to his father's death in 1646, he was styled the Duc d'Enghien...

, and the Spaniards in Flanders, accompanying the Duke of York as a volunteer. When the Duke placed his sword at the disposal of Spain, and crossed over into the Netherlands early in 1656, he was still accompanied by Berkeley. In the spring of the next year he made a tour with the Duke through some of the principal cities of the Netherlands, took part in the campaigns of that and the following year, and at the request of the duke was raised to the peerage as Baron Berkeley of Stratton, in Cornwall, by a patent dated at Brussels 19 May 1658.

After the Restoration

On the Restoration
English Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

 he was put on the staff of the admiralty. In 1661 he was appointed lord president of Connaught
Lord President of Connaught
The Lord President of Connaught was a military leader with wide-ranging powers, reaching into the civil sphere, in the English government of Connaught in Ireland, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.*1569-1572 Sir Edward Fitton...

, for life, a deputy being at appointed to do the work of the office in Ireland. In 1663 (17 June) Berkeley was sworn a member of the privy council, and in the following year was made one of the masters of the ordnance. In January 1665 he was placed on the committee of Tangier
Tangier, also Tangiers is a city in northern Morocco with a population of about 700,000 . It lies on the North African coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel...


In 1665 he began building himself Berkeley House, a palace near Piccadilly
Piccadilly is a major street in central London, running from Hyde Park Corner in the west to Piccadilly Circus in the east. It is completely within the city of Westminster. The street is part of the A4 road, London's second most important western artery. St...

, which was destroyed by fire in 1733, on the site of Devonshire House
Devonshire House
Devonshire House in Piccadilly was the London residence of the Dukes of Devonshire in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was built for William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire in the Palladian style, to designs by William Kent...

. It was in the Italian style, cost nearly £30,000, and was completed about 1673. In 1668 he bought Twickenham Park. In 1670 he went to Ireland as lord lieutenant
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was the British King's representative and head of the Irish executive during the Lordship of Ireland , the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

, holding the office for two years, with a few months' leave of absence. He was considered pro-Catholic, and to favour Peter Talbot. In December 1675 he was appointed, with Sir William Temple and Sir Leoline Jenkyns, ambassador extraordinary on the part of England at the congress of Nijmegen then about to assemble, but bad health affected him. On 26 August 1678 he died, being seventy-two years of age. He was buried (5 September) in the parish church of Twickenham. Although he held many distinguished offices, some authorities assert that, at one time, he was under a cloud, in consequence of his being detected in selling of offices, and other corrupt practices. Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys FRS, MP, JP, was an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament who is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man...

 speaks of him as being esteemed "a fortunate, though a passionate, and but weak man as to policy", and "the most hot, fiery man in discourse, without any cause", he ever saw. He was notorious for spinning incredible tales of his exploits; Clarendon wrote that through constant re-telling he may have come to believe them himself.


Berkeley married Christian or Christiana Riccard, daughter of Sir Andrew Riccard
Andrew Riccard
Sir Andrew Riccard was an English merchant and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1654.Riccard was the son of Walter Riccard of Portesham. He became an Alderman of the City of London and was Sheriff of London in 1651...

, a wealthy London merchant, in the East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

; she had already been married first to Sir John Geare, and subsequently (14 February 1659) to Henry Rich, Lord Kensington, son of Robert Rich, 5th Earl of Warwick. He left three sons, each of whom succeeded in his turn to the title, and one daughter, Anne, who married Sir Dudley Cullum, Bart., of Hanstead, Suffolk. The title became extinct in 1773.

New Jersey interests

The relations between Berkeley, Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 and the Duke of York account for the granting to him of an interest in New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, as well as in Carolina
Province of Carolina
The Province of Carolina, originally chartered in 1629, was an English and later British colony of North America. Because the original Heath charter was unrealized and was ruled invalid, a new charter was issued to a group of eight English noblemen, the Lords Proprietors, in 1663...

, which he had previously received. Berkeley was co-proprietor of New Jersey from 1664 to 1674. In 1665, Berkeley was one of the drafters of the Concession and Agreement
Concession and Agreement
Concession and Agreement was a document that provided religious freedom in the colony of New Jersey. It was issued as a proclamation for the structure of the government for the colony written in 1665 by the two proprietors, Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret.The document promised religious...

, a document that provided freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

 in the Province of New Jersey
Province of New Jersey
The Province of New Jersey was one of the Middle Colonies of Colonial America and became the U.S. state of New Jersey in 1776. The province had originally been settled by Europeans as part of New Netherland, but came under English rule after the surrender of Fort Amsterdam in 1664, becoming a...

. It was issued as a proclamation for the structure of the government for the colony written by the two proprietors, Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. Berkeley sold his share to a group of Quakers
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

 because of the political difficulties between New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 Governor Richard Nicolls
Richard Nicolls
Richard Nicolls was the first English colonial governor of New York province....

, Carteret, and himself. He effectively split New Jersey into two colonies: East Jersey
East Jersey
The Province of East Jersey and the Province of West Jersey were two distinct, separately governed parts of the Province of New Jersey that existed as separate provinces for 28 years, between 1674 and 1702. East Jersey's capital was located at Perth Amboy...

, belonging to Carteret, and West Jersey
West Jersey
West Jersey and East Jersey were two distinct parts of the Province of New Jersey. The political division existed for 28 years, between 1674 and 1702...

. The colony was divided until 1702 when West Jersey went bankrupt and the colony was given back to the English crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

, who unified the colony again.