Henry COMPTON

(1st B. Compton)

Born: 1533 / 16 Feb 1538 / 14 Jul 1545, Compton, Wyngate, Warwickshire, England

Acceded: 8 May 1572

Died: Dec 1589, Compton, Northampton, England

Buried: 10 Dec 1589, Compton

Notes: The Complete Peerage vol.X,p.409,note b.

Father: Peter COMPTON of Compton

Mother: Anne TALBOT (C. Pembroke)

Married: Frances Anne HASTINGS (B. Compton) ABT 1571, England

Children:

1. William COMPTON (1 E. Northampton)

2. Thomas COMPTON (Sir)

3. Margaret COMPTON (B. Mordaunt)

4. Henry COMPTON

Married 2: Anne SPENCER (B. Mounteagle/B. Compton/C. Dorset) AFT 1581

Children:

5. Henry COMPTON


If he was born on 14 Jul 1544, he was the posthumous son and heir of Peter Compton of Compton Wyniates by Anne, dau. of George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury. Educ. G. Inn 1563. Kntd. 1567. summ. to Lords as Lord Compton 1572. Sheriff, Warws. 1571-2; commr. trial of Mary Queen of Scots 1586.

Compton's grandfather, Sir William, died in 1528 leaving an infant son Peter who, still a minor, died in Jan 1544. Sir Peter Comton married Anne, daughter to the Earl of Shrewsbury, by whom he had his estate in Hartshorn, Upper and Lower, and, dying 38 Henry VIII [1546/7], left it to his third son Henry Compton, Knight of the Bath, who sold it to several, amongst whom the Berkins had a capital messuage called Newhall.

Compton extensive estates made the wardship valuable, and Compton was fortunate in having as guardian his mother's next husband, William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke. Thus, although the estate had to bear two successive minorities, it did not suffer significantly. It was Pembroke who was responsible for Compton's only return to the House of Commons, where he is not known to have contributed to its proceedings. He was, in fact, a courtier rather than a House of Commons man, knighted by the Earl of Leicester at Arundel House in 1567, listed among several noble men who received a grant of wine free of impost, and soon raised to the peerage. He accompanied the Queen to Warwick in 1572, and, some six years later was visited by her at Tottenham. During the Armada crisis, he was required to report at court bringing lances and light horse. A person of florid wit and solid judgment, he died in 1589. In his will, made 17 May and proved 22 Nov of that year, he appointed his son and heir William (Earl of Northampton 1618) executor, and Hatton, Burghley and Walsingham overseers. His widow married Robert Sackville, 2nd Earl of Dorset, in 1592 and separated from him in 1608.

In some ways Compton remains an enigma. In a reign during which so few peerages were created it is difficult to see why Compton was singled out, even allowing for his excellent family connexions. His religious affiliations, too, are puzzling. His second wife had Catholic connexions. Compton himself was classified as a Catholic in 1574 in a list connected with Mary Stuart, and by the Jesuit Persons in his autobiography as reconciled (to Catholicism) in the summer of 1580 (i.e. within two years of the Queen's visit to him) and later that year as a backslider in being willing to conform. Another list (of Aug 1581) has him a papist. Two of Compton's servants appear among the names of Catholics in a list of about 1586. However, his loyalty was not in question, and, as with a number of other well-connected men, the authorities seem to have turned a blind eye.
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