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GEORGE CLIFFORD, EARL OF CUMBERLAND.
1586 to 1598.
GEORGE CLIFFORD was the son of Henry, second Earl of that family, whose ancestor is supposed to have come into England with William the Conqueror. His grandfather, Henry, was advanced to the dignity of Earl of Cumberland in the year 1525. George, the third and last Earl, and the thirteenth peer in regular descent, was born in the year 1558, and educated at Peter House, in the University of Cambridge, where he applied himself closely to the study of mathematics and astronomy, which probably gave him a taste for navigation ; and to that succeeded those great enterprises, for which he became distinguished, and which, at an early period of his life, attracted the notice of Queen Elizabeth.
It appears that, in the year 1586, then in the twenty-eighth year of his age, he was employed as one of the peers who sat in judgment on Mary Queen of Scots.* About that time it was the fashion for young noblemen and sons of great
GEORGE CLIFFORD, EARL OF CUMBERLAND.
families to enrol themselves in the land or sea service, emulated with the honourable ambition of assisting the Queen, in defeating the deep-laid designs of Philip of Spain, who, through the means of Popish emissaries, was tampering with the allegiance and the established religion of her subjects ; and who was also known to be making vast preparations for the invasion of England. The Earl, therefore, first volunteered in going over to Sluys, to assist the States of Holland against the designs of the Duke of Parma, the Spanish governor of the Low Countries. He had previously, however, fitted out, at his own charge, a small fleet of three ships : the Red Dragon, of 260 tons and 130 men; the bark Clifford, of 130 tons and 70 men; the Roe, a smaller ship; to which was added the Dorothy pinnace; but without any intention of proceeding himself on the projected expedition.
The prosperous circumnavigation of the globe, accomplished by Sir Francis Drake, and his recent return with the reputation of having brought with him enormous wealth, were well calculated to excite in the mind of the Earl of Cumberland a desire to try his fortune in the same quarter; and accordingly he gave instructions to the commander of his little fleet to proceed through the Strait of Magel. haens into the South Seas, and to levy contributions upon the Spanish settlements in that ocean, so successfully opened by Drake. The ships left
Dartmouth on the 29th of August, 1586, and nothing particular occurred till the 21st of October, when they reached Sierra Leone. Here a party having gone on shore, they wantonly set fire to a town of negroes, and brought away à few tons of rice; and having supplied the ships with wood and water, again put to sea on the 21st of November, and steered a course for the Strait of Magelhaens, falling in with the coast of South America in 30° 40' S.
Near Rio de la Plata they captured a Portuguese vessel, and a second on the following day. On the coast of Brazil they took another Portuguese ship, in which were twenty-five negro women, four or five friars, and an Irishman. Their books, beads, and pictures, with other spiritual trinkets, were valued at 1000 ducats. In plying for the Strait, the want of provisions obliged them to return to the northward. After a little plunder on the coast, and a few captures, from which they procured some meal, sugar, and other provisions, the month of June, 1587, having now arrived, the crews getting uneasy and desirous of returning home, it was deemed expedient to indulge them, and they arrived at Plymouth the last day of September, after an unprofitable voyage.
This first voyage, therefore, so far from relieving the Earl from the embarrassments which, it was said, his gay and irregular life had occasioned, served only to involve him in more serious difficulties. In the mean time he had made his way to court, where young men of rank, of handsome appearance, of graceful and elegant accomplishments, were sure to be well received. He became a constant attendant at the tilt-yard at Westminster, where her Majesty frequently witnessed the sports ; he excelled in games of chivalry and personal exercises ; in tilts and tournaments he bore away the prizes from most of his competitors. On some occasion, the Queen dropped her glove by accident, as some say_others, by design ; probably the former, as she is said to have been in the habit of constantly pulling off her gloves, to show her beautiful white hands. The Earl, on picking it up, was desired by her Majesty to keep it; and as such a trophy was too valuable to be shut up, he had it emblazoned with diamonds, and is said ever after to have worn it in the front of his hat, at all public assemblies where her Majesty was likely to make her appearance.
Thus introduced, the personal qualifications and manners of the Earl were quite sufficient to enlist him among the number of those, who were distinguished as Elizabeth's favourites; of those in whom she was supposed to confide, and to make use of on great occasions of display: nor in the present in. stance did she stop short in conferring distinction on the new favourite. It was by her recommendation, no doubt, that he was selected as one of those to be actively employed in the dispersion and defeat of the Invincible Armada, being appointed to the command of one of the Queen's ships, the Elizabeth Bonaventure, of 600 tons; and he is mentioned as one who greatly distinguished himself. : The Queen was so much pleased with the good service done by the navy on that occasion, that among those, who received marks of her favour, she gratified the Earl of Cumberland by conferring on him, on his second expedition, a commission as one of her admirals against the Spaniards; and lent him, moreover, one of her own ships, the Golden Lion, to prosecute an intended voyage to the South Seas; and all this was done within two months after the dispersion of the Spanish Armada.
The extraordinary resolution and perseverance of this nobleman may be understood, when it is stated that, in twelve consecutive years, from 1586 to 1598, he undertook ten expeditions (exclusive of the share he took against the Armada), with the double object, it may be presumed, of retaining the countenance of the Queen, and at the same time of doing service to the nation, by annoying and distressing the Spaniards; perhaps also, with a view to the improvement of his finances. It has been supposed, however, that the balance of profit and loss, on the whole ten voyages, was but small, if any, on the favourable side of the account. A brief abstract of these expeditions will suffice in this place.
For the Second Erpedition, the Golden Lion, a