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William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke

William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke

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William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, KG
Order of the Garter
The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St...

, PC (8 April 1580 – 10 April 1630) was the son of Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke KG was an English peer of the Elizabethan era.-Life:He was the son of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke and Anne Parr. His aunt was queen consort Catherine Parr, last wife of King Henry VIII. Herbert was responsible for the costly restoration of Cardiff Castle...

 and his third wife Mary Sidney
Mary Sidney
Mary Herbert , Countess of Pembroke , was one of the first English women to achieve a major reputation for her literary works, poetry, poetic translations and literary patronage.-Family:...

. Chancellor of the University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

, he founded Pembroke College, Oxford
Pembroke College, Oxford
Pembroke College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, located in Pembroke Square. As of 2009, Pembroke had an estimated financial endowment of £44.9 million.-History:...

 with King James. He was warden of the Forest of Dean
Forest of Dean
The Forest of Dean is a geographical, historical and cultural region in the western part of the county of Gloucestershire, England. The forest is a roughly triangular plateau bounded by the River Wye to the west and north, the River Severn to the south, and the City of Gloucester to the east.The...

, and constable of St Briavels from 1608 to 1630. He served as Lord Chamberlain
Lord Chamberlain
The Lord Chamberlain or Lord Chamberlain of the Household is one of the chief officers of the Royal Household in the United Kingdom and is to be distinguished from the Lord Great Chamberlain, one of the Great Officers of State....

 from 1615 to 1625. In 1623, together with his brother, Philip Herbert, 1st Earl of Montgomery
Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke
Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke and 1st Earl of Montgomery KG was an English courtier and politician active during the reigns of James I and Charles I...

, he sponsored the printing of the First Folio
First Folio
Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. is the 1623 published collection of William Shakespeare's plays. Modern scholars commonly refer to it as the First Folio....

 of William Shakespeare's
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 plays.

Life and marriage


William was a bookish man, once tutored by the poet Samuel Daniel
Samuel Daniel
Samuel Daniel was an English poet and historian.-Early life:Daniel was born near Taunton in Somerset, the son of a music-master. He was the brother of lutenist and composer John Danyel. Their sister Rosa was Edmund Spenser's model for Rosalind in his The Shepherd's Calendar; she eventually married...

, and preferred to keep to his study with heavy pipe-smoking to keep his "migraines" at bay.

His father negotiated a marriage between the young Herbert and Bridget de Vere
Bridget de Vere
Bridget de Vere, Countess of Berkshire , was an English noblewoman, the daughter of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Bridget was brought up by her maternal grandfather, the powerful statesman William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley...

, the granddaughter of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley , KG was an English statesman, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State and Lord High Treasurer from 1572...

. Offered 3,000 pounds and an annuity to begin at Burghley's death, the prospective groom wanted immediate payment of the annuity. The negotiations failed, and he remained single.

At the age of twenty, he had an affair with Mary Fitton
Mary Fitton
Mary Fitton was the daughter of Sir Edward Fitton of Gawsworth, Cheshire and Alice Halcroft, and is considered by some to be the "Dark Lady" of Shakespeare's sonnets. Her elder sister, Anne, married John Newdigate in 1587, at the age of fourteen...

 (who has been suggested as a possible model for the Dark Lady of the sonnets), whom he impregnated. Admitting paternity, he refused to marry her and was sent to Fleet prison
Fleet Prison
Fleet Prison was a notorious London prison by the side of the Fleet River in London. The prison was built in 1197 and was in use until 1844. It was demolished in 1846.- History :...

 where he wrote verse. In 1601, Mary gave birth to a boy who died immediately (perhaps from syphilis, which it is believed Pembroke may have suffered from). He petitioned Sir Robert Cecil
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, KG, PC was an English administrator and politician.-Life:He was the son of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley and Mildred Cooke...

 and was eventually released, though he and Mary were both barred from court.

He married Lady Mary Talbot
Mary Talbot Herbert
Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke was the wife of William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke.Mary was the daughter of Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury, by his wife Mary, and was thus a granddaughter of Bess of Hardwick. She married William Herbert on 4 November 1604. They had only one child,...

, the dwarfish and deformed daughter of Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury
Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury
Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury, 7th Earl of Waterford, KG was was a peer in the peerage of England.He was the eldest surviving son of George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, by the latter's first marriage to Gertrude Manners, daughter of the first Earl of Rutland.In 1568, Gilbert was...

, on 4 November 1604.

Herbert had an affair with his cousin, Lady Mary Wroth
Lady Mary Wroth
Lady Mary Wroth was an English poet of the Renaissance. A member of a distinguished literary English family, Wroth was among the first female British writers to have achieved an enduring reputation...

, daughter of Robert Sidney, brother of Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke
Mary Sidney
Mary Herbert , Countess of Pembroke , was one of the first English women to achieve a major reputation for her literary works, poetry, poetic translations and literary patronage.-Family:...

, Herbert's mother. The relationship produced at least two illegitimate children, a daughter, Catherine, and a son, William. In “Herbertorum Prosapia” a seventeenth-century manuscript compilation of the history of the Herbert family, held at the Cardiff Library, a cousin of the earl of Pembroke, Sir Thomas Herbert records William Herbert’s paternity of Wroth’s two children.

He died in 1630, aged 50 and his titles passed to his brother, Philip Herbert
Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke
Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke and 1st Earl of Montgomery KG was an English courtier and politician active during the reigns of James I and Charles I...

.

Herbert and Shakespeare's Sonnets


Herbert is one of several aristocrats claimed to be the model for the character of the youthful "Fair Youth" in William Shakespeare's sonnet
Sonnet
A sonnet is one of several forms of poetry that originate in Europe, mainly Provence and Italy. A sonnet commonly has 14 lines. The term "sonnet" derives from the Occitan word sonet and the Italian word sonetto, both meaning "little song" or "little sound"...

s, whom the poet urges to marry. Since Herbert, some years Shakespeare's junior, was a patron of the playwright, and since his initials match with the dedication of the Sonnets to one "Mr. W.H.", "the only begetter of these ensuing sonnets", he is a popular candidate, although Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton
Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton
Henry Wriothesley , 3rd Earl of Southampton , was the second son of Henry Wriothesley, 2nd Earl of Southampton, and his wife Mary Browne, Countess of Southampton, daughter of the 1st Viscount Montagu...

 has also been popular. E. K. Chambers, who had previously considered Southampton to be the Fair Youth changed his mind when he encountered evidence in letters that around 1595 young Herbert had been urged to wed Elizabeth Carey
Elizabeth Carey, Lady Berkeley
Hon. Elizabeth Carey was an English noblewoman and a patron of the arts. Thomas Nashe dedicated his Terrors of the Night to her in 1594...

, granddaughter of Henry Carey, the Lord Chamberlain who ran Shakespeare’s company. But he refused to marry her. In her Arden Shakespeare edition of the Sonnets, Katherine Duncan-Jones argues that Herbert is the likelier candidate.