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On Forster's Survey of Sunderland Moor in 1742,Lowther's Hall is mentioned. It stood on the Moor edge a little to the north east of the "Spaw Well," and was carried away by the sea before the memory of any one living. It was a licensed public house, kept by a person generally known as "Lady Lowther." Local tradition speaks rather unfavourably of the house, its mistress, her inmates and associates. Lowther's Dene, as its name implies, was a small ravine or dene near the Hall, leading down to the sea beach, full of whins and brushwood, intersected by many rustic footpaths, the favourite resort of children and young people
"In somer when the shaws be shene,
Of the dene not a "rack" is left behind, although our informant, Mr. Samuel Clark, shoemaker, of Robinson's Lane, can recollect some faint traces of it, from the fact of his having when a boy "harried" a hedge sparrow's nest of three eggs therein. To the north of Lowther's dene was another small gulley also leading to the sea beach, at one place 25 feet 8 inches in breadth, across which spot, and for a trifling wager, a private soldier in the 40th Regiment of foot then quartered in Sunderland barracks, easily leaped, in the month of August, 1828.
Sunderland has given the title of earl to two noble families. Emanuel Lord Scrope of Bolton, who, having been first made president of the king's council in the north by James I., February 6, 1618, was, by his son, Charles I., created Earl of Sunderland, June 19, 1627, but he dying without any lawful* issue, the same monarch,
* But this Scrope Earl of Sunderland had four natural daughters, who had the king's patent to take place as Earl's legitimate children,
June 8, 1643, conferred the title in respect for his approved loyalty and adherence to him in the civil wars, on Henry Lord Spencer of Wormleighton, who, however, enjoyed the honour a very short time, being slain in the royal service the same year at the first battle of Newbury, leaving issue by Dorothy his wife (better known as the Sacharissa of Waller), daughter of Robert Sidney Earl of Leicester, two daughters—Dorothy, married to George Savil, of Thornhill, afterwards Viscount and Marquis o£ Halifax ; and Penelope, who died unmarried,—and only one son Robert, the second of the Spencer family bearing that title, but in reality the third Earl of Sunderland.
This nobleman was born in 1640 ; his early education was carefully conducted, and before entering into public life, he enjoyed the advantage of several years of foreign travel. On his return to England he was appointed ambassador-extraordinary to the court of Madrid in 1671, and, in the autumn of the following year, went to Paris in the same character. In 1673 he was one of the plenipotentiaries for the treaty of Cologne, and, on the 27th May, 1674, was sworn of the privy-council.
He held no specific appointment during the next four years; but, in July, 1678, he was again sent ambassadorextraordinary to Louis XIV., and, it is supposed by some, was intrusted with the arrangement of those infamous peouniary transactions into whioh Charles secretly entered at this timo with the Frenoh monarch. Whatever the
and (notwithstanding this was in a late instance represented by ignorant persons as an unpreeedented thing) from these four ladies are lineally descended a great part of our present nobility of the very first rank, for the eldest daughter marrying the Duke of Bolton, was grandmother to the present Duke of Bolton, and Scrope, Duke of Bridgewater, and consequently gr«at-grandmother to the Dutehesa nature of his mission was, he acquitted himself in it to the satisfaction of his royal master, and, on his return, in the succeeding year, was appointed principal secretary of state in the room of Sir Joseph Williamson. Rapin says that the Earl of Sunderland gave Williamson £6,525 to induce him to resitm. He now coalesced with the Duke
of Monmouth and the Dutchess of Portsmouth, in their endeavours to oust Danby, and place Essex at the head of the treasury. They succeeded in their scheme, and also got Shaftesbury appointed president of the newly modelled privy-Council.
Essex, Halifax, Sunderland, Shaftesbury, and Temple, now formed the king's especial cabinet; but the bill; of exclusion dissolved this junto. Sunderland voted for it not only "against his master's mind, but his express command," and the king indignantly dismissed him from liis secretaryship. He contrived, however, to get restored to his post in January, 1682; and, notwithstanding hia former vote, and the repeated efforts which he was known to have made to thwart the wishes of the Duke of York, and prejudice his interests generally with the nation, yet on the accession of the new king, James II., he was not only retained in office, but rose high in favour at the very moment that his fall and disgrace were considered inevitable. In accomplishing his ambitious views, the Earl had in fact sacrificed his conscience by a formal abjuration of the protesta,nt faith, under circumstances which Dowager of Bedford; another, the Lady Arabella Scrope, marrying Mr. Howe, was great-grandmother to the Dutchess of Norfolk, the first Dutchess of England, John Lord Chedworth, Scrope Lord Viscount Howe, Charles Earl of Tankerville, Mary Countess Dowager of Pembroke, and many others; another of the ladies married the Earl of Rivers.—Simpson's Agreeable Historian, 174G.
left almost no doubt as to theunworthinessof his motives. It has been alleged that Sunderland was pensioned both by the prince of Orange and the king of France, in 1686, and that the fact was well known to James himself. There is not sufficient evidence to support this allegation^ for the passage on which it is founded in 'Macpherson's State Papers,' will be found on examination to be not an extract from James's private journal, as it has been represented, but a statement made by the anonymous compiler of James's life on his own authority. Neither is the alleged transaction with Monmouth any better supported. In the same papers there is an account of Ralph Sheldon informing James in the presence of Sunderland himself, that he (Sheldon) was directed by Monmouth to acquaint the king that Lord Sunderland had promised "to meet him," in order to join the insurrection. The anecdote, besides being extremely improbable in itself, rests only on the testimony of the anonymous writer already referred to, and is unsupported by any reference to the king's own memoirs.
In February, 1685, the Earl succeeded Halifax in office of president of the council, while he still retained that of secretary of state. His negotiations with the party of the prince of Orange at last became evident to the whole court, and the catholic party clamoured loudly for his dismissal. Yet, on the arrival of William, Sunderland fled to the continent, and he was specially excepted from the acts of indemnity and free pardon, which the new sovereign promulgated in 1690 and 1692. It is not easy, therefore, to account for the marvellous facility with which the Earl at last replaced himself in the administration of this country. Burnet declares that "he gained an ascendant over William, and had more credit with him than any Englishman ever had." He was not, indeed, brought forward in any specific office in the state, but he was virtually the prime minister, for the King gave himself up to his advice, until he found that the nation would no longer bear the approach of such a man to the royal ear. He reluctantly yielded to the clamour raised against his favourite by all parties, and allowed the Earl to retire into privacy, at his seat in Northamptonshire, where he died 28th September, 1702.
"Lord Sunderland," says Burnet, "was a man of a clear and a ready apprehension, and a quick decision in business. Hehadtoo much heat," he adds, both of imagination and passion, and was apt to speak very freely both of persons and things. His own notions were always good, but he was a man of great expense, and, in order to the supporting of himself, he went into the prevailing counsels at court; and he changed sides often, with little regard either to religion or to the interests of his country."
His lordship married the Lady Anne Digby, second daughter of George Earl of Bristol, by whom he had issue two sons,—Robert, Lord Spencer, who died in France unmarried, and Charles, his successor,—and two daughters, —Lady Anne, who married the Right Hon. James Earl of Arran (afterwards Duke of Hamilton), and Elizabeth, married to the Earl of Clincarty, who died at Copenhagen.*
He was succeeded by his only surviving son and heir Charles Spencer, fourth Earl of Sunderland. This nobleman was born in 1674. He entered into public life at an early age, being returned member for Tiverton in
• "Peerage of England," 1710.