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Harleys - Earls of Oxford

By Michael Harley: mickh@bribie.net.au



The family of HARLEY, can be traced to a period before the Norman Conquest, and its station was then so eminent, that the great house of "Harlai", in France, deduces its origins from the Harleys of England.

Sir Robert De Harley (eldest son of Sir Richard De Harley of Kent who died about 1320) married Margaret, eldest daughter and co-heir (with her sister Elizabeth, wife of Sir Richard De Cornwall , King of the Romans, brother of King Henry 111) of Sir Bryan De Brampton; by which marriage he acquired a great estate and seat of Brampton Castle, which continued for centuries the chief residence of his descendants. His great grandson, Sir John Harley of Brampton Castle, received the honour of knighthood from King Edward IV, on the field of battle at Gaston, near Tewkesbury, on the 9 May 1471. He was appointed Sheriff of Shropshire in 1482. From him lineally descended:

I...Thomas Harley, Esquire, of Brampton Castle, who was born about the year 1543 and obtained a grant from King James 1, of the honour and castle of Wigmore, county Hereford. His first Marriage was to Margaret, daughter of Sir Andrew Corbet of Kent and his second marriage was to Anne, daughter of Walter Griffith, Esquire, of Burton Agnes, and dying in 1631, was survived by his only surviving son, Sir Robert Harley. Jane, sister of Thomas Harley married Roger Mynors, Esquire, of Treago, ancestor of Peter Rickards-Mynors Esquire, of Treago.

II...Sir Robert Harley, (Knight of the Bath, and member of Parliament for the county of Hereford) This gentleman had a grant dated 12th September, 1626, of the office of Master and worker of Moneys to be coined in the Tower of London during his life, with a salary of 4,000 pounds a year, but after the murder of the King (Charles I), in 1649, he was removed from the position for refusing to coin with any other dies than the ones with the head of the deceased monarch (who was beheaded).

Sir Robert's first wife was Anne, daughter of Charles Barret, Esquire, of Belhouse, county Essex, and his second marriage was to Mary, daughter of Sir Francis Newport, by neither of whom however did he have any children to survive. His third wife was Brilliana (so named from Brill in France, of which her father was governor at the time of her ladyship's birth) daughter of Edward, Vicount Conway, by Dorothy, daughter of Sir John Tracy, of Todington, county Gloucester, and sister to Mary, wife of the celebrated General Sir Horace Vere, Lord Vere, of Tilbury (by which alliance the Harley's became connected with the Vere's, Earls of Oxford, Earls of Clare, and other ancient families).

Lady Brilliana Harley was celebrated for her gallant defense of Brompton Castle, during the civil wars, when invested, in 1643, by rebels, whom she forced to raise the siege after seven weeks of unavailing hostility. Her ladyship dying however in the following October, and the besiegers returned to the castle, which after a second gallant resistance, being forced to surrender, was burnt to the ground.

Sir Robert Harley died on the 6th November, 1656, and was survived by his eldest son, Sir Edward Harley.

III...Colonel Sir Edward Harley, member for the county of Hereford, in the parliament which restored King Charles 11 to the throne(1649). King Charles then appointed Sir Edward Harley Governor of Dunkirk (France).

Sir Edward married first in 1654, Mary, daughter of Sir William Button of Parkgate, by whom he had two daughters:

  1. His first daughter was: Balliana, who married Alexander Popham, Esquire, and his second daughter was:

  • Martha, wife of Samuel Hutchins, Esquire.

    His second marriage was to Abigail, daughter of Nathaniel Stephens, Esquire, of Essington, county Gloucester, by whom he had Robert Edward, of Eyewood , county Hereford, member of parliament and recorder of Leominster and one of the auditors of the Imprest and who married Saran, 3rd daughter of Thomas Foley, Esquire of Whitley, county of Worcester and they had:

    1. Edward, who succeeded to the Earldom of Oxford.
    2. Robert, MP, recorder of Leominster and who died unmarried in 1774
    3. Abigail, married to the Hon. John Verney, Master of the Rolls.(Judge)

    Colonel Sir Edward Harley died 8th December,1700, and was survived by his eldest son, Robert Harley, Esquire.

    Robert Harley, Esquire, born 5th December, 1661. This gentleman was first returned to parliament for Tregony, in Cornwall, and afterwards, in 1690, for the town of Radnor, which he continued to represent so long as he remained a commoner.

    On the 11th February, 1701, Mr Harley was elected speaker of the House of Commons. In 1704, he was sworn of the Privy Council, and constituted one of the principal secretaries of state, filling the speaker's chair at the same time. In 1710, he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. About this period Mr. Harley had a miraculous escape from assassination, having been stabbed with a pen-knife by the Marquess of Guiscard, then under examination before a committee of the Privy Council at Whitehall.

    On the 24th May, 1711, the Right Hon. gentleman was elevated to the peerage, by the titles of Baron Harley, of Wigmore, county Hereford, Earl of Oxford, and Earl of Mortimer, with remainder in default of male issue to the heirs male of his grandfather, Sir Robert Harley, Knight of the Bath.

    On the 29th May,1711, his lordship was constituted Lord High Treasurer of England. The Earl married first, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Foley, Esquire, of Whitley Court, county Worcester, by whom he had:

    1. Edward, his successor.
    2. Abigail, married George, Earl of Kinnoul, and who died in 1750.
    3. Elizabeth, married Peregrine Hyde, Duke of Leeds, in Yorkshire.

    His Lordship married secondly, Sarah, daughter of Thomas Middleton, Esquire, but had no other issue (children).

    On the 10th June1715, Lord Oxford was impeached by the Commons of High Treason, and was committed to the Tower of London by the House of Lords, where he suffered imprisonment until 1st July, 1717, when he was acquitted, after a public trial by his peers. His memory is celebrated by Pope in the following lines


    A soul supreme, in each hard instance tried,
    Above all pain, all anger and all pride,
    The rage of power, the blast of public breath
    The lust of lucre*, and the dread of death. (*money)


    The Earl died on the 21st May,1724, and was survived by his only son, Edward.


    Edward, Second Earl of Oxford, devoted himself much to Literature; and the country is much indebted to him for the celebrated collection so well known as the Harleian Miscellany, purchased by parliament from the Countess in 1754, after the Earl's death, and deposited in the British Museum. His Lordship married 31st October,1713,Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles, only daughter and heir of John Holles, last Duke of Newcastle (the dignity expired in 1713), by whom he had an only daughter and heir, Margaret Cavendish who married in 1734, William, second Duke of Portland. The Earl dying with out male issue, 16th June, 1741, the honours devolved, according to the reversionary clause in the patent upon his first cousin Edward Harley.

    Edward Harley, Esquire, third Earl of Oxford, (refer to children of Colonel Sir Edward Harley), MP for the county of Hereford. His Lordship married in 1725, Martha, eldest daughter of John Morgan, Esquire, of Tredgar, county Monmouth, by whom he left:

    1. Edward, his successor (Fourth Earl of Oxford)
    2. John, D.D. (Doctor of Divinity), Bishop of Hereford and Dean of Windsor, born 29th September 1728, married 23rd February 1770, Roach, daughter of Gwynne Vaughan, Esquire of Tretarry, county Radnor and dying 7th January 1788, left:

      1. Edward, who inherited as the 5th Earl of Oxford.
      2. John, in Holy orders, born 31 December, 1774; died unmarried 20 October 1815.
      3. Frances, died 25th November,1848 aged seventy six.
      4. Martha, died 25 January,1824.

    3. Thomas, born 24th August, 1730; an alderman of London and MP for that city and Lord Mayor in 1768, married 15th March 1752, Anne, daughter of Edward Bangham and had five daughters co-heirs to his fortune, viz;

      1. Martha, married 30th December,1779 to George Drummond, Esquire of Stanmore, she died in 1788.
      2. Anne, married George, second Lordney and died in 1840.
      3. Sarah, married Robert, ninth Earl of Kinnoull, died in 1837.
      4. Elizabeth, married 8th October, 1783 to David Murray, Esquire and died 9th July 1824.
      5. Margaret, married Baron John Boyd, and died 20th November 1830.


    4. William, in Holy orders, Prebendary of Worcester, died 8th July,1769. His Children were:
      1. Sarah died unmarried,1737.
      2. Marther, married 20th April,1764 Charles Milborne, Esquire, of Wonaston, The Priory, Abergavenny, county Monmouth, and had an only daughter, Mary, who married Thomas Swinnerton, Esquire of Butterton ,county Stafford.

    His Lordship died 11th April, 1755 and was survived by his eldest son Edward.

    IV...Edward, 4th Earl of Oxford born 2 September 1726. His Lordship married 11th July 1751, Susannah, eldest daughter of William Archer, Esquire of Welford, county Berkshire, but died without issue in 1790, when the family honours devolved upon his nephew (revert to the Hon. And Right Rev. Dr. John Harley, Bishop of Hereford).

    V...Edward, 5th Earl of Oxford born 20th February,1773 and married 3rd March 1794, Jane Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. James Scott, M.A., Rector of Stokin, county Southhampton by whom he had issue:

    1. Edward, Lord Harley, born 20th January,1800 and died 1st January, 1828.
    2. Alfred, 6th and last Earl of Oxford.
    3. Jane, married 17th August, 1835, Henry Bickersth, Esquire, afterwards Lord Langdale. They had a daughter Jane Frances, who married 16th December 1857, Alexander, Count Teleki de Szek. Lady Langdale resumed her maiden name of Harley after the death of her brother, Alfred ,the last Earl of Oxford.

    4. Charlotte Mary married General Bacon.
    5. Anne married in 1835, to the Cavaliere San Giorgio.
    6. Frances married in 1835, to Henry-Vernon Harcourt who died 25th February 1853.
    7. Louisa,died young.

    VI...Alfred, 6th Earl of Oxford was born 10th January 1809 and who married 17th February 1831, Miss Eliza Nugent, but died with out children 19th January,1853, when the honours became extinct.







    EDITOR'S NOTE: The Harleian Library is a manuscript collection of more than 7,000 volumes and more than 14,000 original legal documents, formed by Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford, and his son Edward, 2nd Earl of Oxford. In 1753 it was purchased for 10,000 by the British government and with the collections of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton and Sir Hans Sloane formed the basis of the British Museum Library.

    The University of Nottingham MANUSCRIPTS & SPECIAL COLLECTIONS Department contains Harley Family Papers in the Portland Collection and may be seen at http://mss.nott.ac.uk/isad/port_harley.html


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    Web Site: Dianne Elizabeth's Family History, Created July 17th, 1999
    Page Title: Harleys - Earls of Oxford
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