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William Nassau de Zuylestein, 1st Earl of Rochford

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Title: William Nassau de Zuylestein, 1st Earl of Rochford  
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Subject: Glorious Revolution, Mary of Modena, Arnold van Keppel, 1st Earl of Albemarle, Tuyll, Earl of Rochford, Master of the Robes, William Nassau de Zuylestein, Constantijn Huygens, Jr.
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William Nassau de Zuylestein, 1st Earl of Rochford

William Nassau de Zuylestein, 1st Earl of Rochford (1649 – 12 July 1708) was a Dutch soldier and diplomat in the service of William III of England. During the reign of James II of England he travelled to England to liaise with William's English supporters, and played an important part in the preparations of the Glorious Revolution.[1]

Early life

He was born at the Zuylestein Castle (also spelled Zuylenstein), about twenty miles east of the city of Utrecht. He was the eldest son of Frederick Nassau de Zuylestein, and his first wife Mary Killigrew, the eldest daughter of Sir William Killigrew. She was a first cousin of Charles II's illegitimate daughter, the Countess of Yarmouth. She moved to the Netherlands in February 1644, aged barely seventeen, as a maid of honour to Mary, princess royal of England and princess of Orange, and married Frederick in 1648.

Early career

William Henry entered the Dutch cavalry in 1672, but was better known at The Hague for his gallantry and his good looks, and as a companion of the prince. He was trusted by William, and acquitted himself well on a mission of observation to England in August 1687, the nominal purpose being to condole with the queen-consort upon the death of her mother, the Dowager Duchess Laura of Modena.

Glorious Revolution

He was again named envoy in the summer of the following year. His avowed purpose was now to felicitate Mary Beatrice; on the birth of a prince, his real object to inform himself about the nation and to gauge the probability of James II's summoning a parliament and adopting a more conciliatory policy. He was received by the queen at St. James's on 28 June 1688, and the cordiality of his messages inspired Mary Beatrice to write a letter of playful affection to her ‘dear lemon’ (the Princess of Orange); but he wrote at once an account of the sceptical manner in which the birth was received in London, and intrigued with all the prominent malcontents. Clarendon records a number of his movements during July.

He returned with Sidney to The Hague early in August, taking with him letters to William from Nottingham, Churchill, Herbert, Bishop Henry Compton, Sunderland, and others. On his return he was promoted a major-general in the Dutch army. On 16 October he embarked on the same ship as William at Helvoetsluys. On 15 December he was sent by William from Windsor with a message urging James to stay at Rochester and not on any account return to London. He found on his arrival that James had already returned to Whitehall, and Zulestein promptly followed him. In response to William's blunt message, James expressed a hope that the prince might be induced to meet him at Whitehall. Zuylestein was ready with an uncompromising answer to the effect that the prince would not enter London while any royal troops remained in it. This had the desired effect of scaring James from the palace.

Military career

Zuylestein was naturalised in England on 11 May 1689, and was appointed master of the robes to the king on 23 May, holding the post down to 1695. His regiment was retained for service in the north of England; in May 1691 it was at Durham. He accompanied William to Ireland, but in August 1690 left the campaign there on a mission to Whitehall. On 12 September 1690 he was promoted a lieutenant-general in the English army. In January 1691 he accompanied William to Holland. In July 1693, in the sanguinary battle of Neerwinden, after distinguishing himself, Zuylestein was slightly wounded and taken to Namur; he was exchanged and returned to the camp on 8 August. In November 1693 his regiment was again ordered to Flanders.

On 10 May 1695 Zuylestein was created Baron Enfield, Viscount Tunbridge, and Earl of Rochford, and received a grant of part of the estates of William Herbert, 1st Marquess of Powis; he took his seat on 20 February 1696. On 25 December 1695 he received a pension of £1,000 per annum. He also received grants of land in Ireland amounting to 30,512 acres.

Later life

His later years were passed in comparative seclusion for the most part in Holland, where William visited him in 1697, and he died at his estate of Zuylenstein in the province of Utrecht in January 1709. He had married, on 25 January 1681, Jane, daughter of Sir Henry Wroth of Durrants, Enfield, and of Loughton House in Essex. She went over as maid of honour to Mary, princess of Orange. Zuylestein seduced her, and then refused the promised marriage, being strongly encouraged in this course of conduct by William. Thomas Ken, on behalf of Mary, worked on the count to marry the lady, and performed the ceremony secretly in Mary's chapel while the prince was absent hunting. William was angry, and Ken had temporarily to withdraw from The Hague.

Arms

William and his heirs used the arms below, inherited from his father.

Peerage of England
Preceded by
New creation
Earl of Rochford
1695–1709
Succeeded by
William Nassau de Zuylestein

Notes

References

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