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John Paulet, 5th Marquis of Winchester - © Nash Ford PublishingJohn Paulet
Born: 1598,
probably at Basing House, Hampshire
Marquis of Winchester
Died: 5th March 1675
at Englefield House, Berkshire

John Paulet, born in 1598, was the third, but eldest surviving, son of William, 4th Marquis of Winchester (d. 1629) by Lucy (d. 1614), second daughter of Sir Thomas Cecil, afterwards 2nd Lord Burghley and Earl of Exeter. From 1598 until 1624, he was styled Lord Paulet. He kept terms at Exeter College, Oxford, but did not ma­triculate and, on 7th December 1620, was elected MP for St. Ives, Cornwall. He was sum­moned to the House of Lords as Baron St. John on 10th February 1624, became Captain of Netley Castle in 1626 and succeeded to the Marquisate on 4th February 1629, becoming also keeper of Pamber Forest, Hampshire. In order to pay off the debts incurred by his father's lavish hospitality, he passed many years in comparative seclusion.    But on 18th February 1639, he wrote to Secretary Windebank that he would be quite ready to attend the King on his Scottish expedition 'with alacrity of heart and in the best equipage his fortunes would  permit'.

Winchester being a Roman Catholic, Basing House, Hampshire, his chief seat - on every pane of which he had written within a diamond 'Aimez Loyauté' - became, at the outbreak of the Civil War, the great re­sort of the Queen's friends in South-West England. It occurred to the King's military advisers that the house might be fortified and garrisoned to much advantage, as it commanded the main road from the Western Counties to London. The journal of the Siege of Basing House forms one of the most remarkable features of the Civil War. It commenced in August 1643, when the whole force with which Winchester had to defend it, in addition to his own inexperienced people, amounted only to one hundred mus­keteers sent to him from Oxford, on 31st July under the command of   Lieutenant-Colonel Peake. He subsequently received an additional force of 150 men under Colonel Rawdon. In this state of comparative weakness, Basing resisted, for more than three months, the continued attack of the combined Parliamentary troops of Hampshire and Sussex, commanded by five colonels of reputation. The Catholics at Oxford successfully conveyed provisions to Basing under Colonel Gage. An attempt by Lord Edward Paulet, Winchester's youngest brother, then serving under him in the house, to betray Basing to the enemy was frustrated and he was turned out of the garrison. On 11th July 1644, Colonel Morley summoned Winchester to surrender. Upon his refusal, the besiegers tried to batter down the water-house. On 13th July, a shot passed through Winchester's clothes and, on the 22nd, he was struck by a ball. A second summons to surrender was sent by Colonel Norton on 2nd September, but was at once rejected. About 11th September, the garri­son was relieved by Colonel Gage who, being met by Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson by the Grange, routed Morley's and Norton's men and entered the house. He left with Winchester one hundred of Colonel Hawkins' white-coated men and, after taking Basingstoke, sent  provisions  to Basing. Meanwhile, Winchester, with the white-coats and others under Major Cuffaud and Captain Hull, drove the besiegers out of Basing. On 14th November, Gage again arrived at Basing and, on the 17th, the Siege was raised. Norton was succeeded by a stronger force under the command of Colonel Harvey, which had no better fortune. At length, Sir William Waller advanced against it at the head of seven thousand horse and foot. Still Winchester contrived to hold out. But after the Battle of Naseby, Cromwell marched from Win­chester upon Basing and, after a most obsti­nate conflict, took it by storm on 16th October 1645. Winchester was brought in a prisoner, with his house flaming around him. He broke out and said "that if the king had no more ground in England but Basing House, he would adventure it as he did, and so maintain it to the uttermost," comforting himself in this matter "that Basing House was called Loyalty". Thenceforward, he was called the 'great loyalist.' What remained of Basing, which Hugh Peters, after its fall, told the House of Commons 'would have become an emperor to dwell in,' the Parliamentarians levelled to the ground, after pil­laging it of money, jewels, plate and household stuff to the value, it is said, of £200,000.

Winchester was committed to the Tower on a charge of high treason on 18th October 1645 and his estates were ordered to be sequestered. An order was made for allowing him £5 a week out of his property on 15th January 1646. Lady Winchester, who had escaped from Basing two days before its fall, was sent to join her husband in the Tower on 31st January and a weekly sum of £10, afterwards increased to £15, was ordered to be paid her for the support of herself and her children, with the stipulation that the latter were to be educated as Protestants. An ordinance for the sale of Winchester's land was passed on 30th October and, by the Act of 16th July 1651, a portion was sold by the trustees for the sale of forfeited estates. On 7th Sept 1647, Winchester was allowed  to drink the waters at Epsom and stayed there by permission of Parliament for nearly six months. The House of Lords, on 30th June 1648, urged the Commons to release him on bail in consideration of his bad health. In the propositions sent to the King at the Isle of Wight, on 13th October, it was expressly stipulated that Winchester's name be excepted from pardon. Ultimately, the Commons resolved, on 14th March 1649, not to proceed against him for high treason; but they ordered him to be detained in prison and excepted from any composition for his estate. In January 1650, he was a prisoner in execution in the upper bench for debts amounting to £2,000 and he petitioned Cromwell for relief. The sale of his lands was discontinued by order of Parliament on 15th March 1660 and, after the Restoration, Winchester received them back. It was proposed, on 3rd August 1660, to recom­pense him for his losses to the amount of £19,000 and damages, subsequently reduced to £10,000. This was agreed to on 2nd July 1661 but, in the event, he was allowed to go unrecompensed. A bill for confirming an award for settling differences between him and his eldest son, Charles, in regard to the estates, was passed in 1663.

Winchester retired to his estate at Englefield, Berkshire, which he had acquired by his second marriage, and passed the re­mainder of his life in privacy, dividing his time between agriculture and literature. He greatly enlarged the house, the front of which, says Granger, bore a beautiful resemblance to a church organ, but 'is now no more' [1775].

Winchester died at Englefield House on 5th March 1675, as Premier Marquis of England, and was buried in the church there. On the monument raised by his wife to his memory are engraved some fine lines by Dryden. He was married three times: first, to Jane (d. 1631), eldest daughter of Thomas, 1st Viscount Savage, by whom he had issue, Charles, his successor, created 1st Duke of Bolton in 1689. Milton wrote an epitaph in 1631 upon Jane, Lady Winchester; and James Howell, who taught her Spanish, has com­memorated her beauty and goodness. Winchester's second wife was Lady Honora de Burgh (1611-1662), daughter of Richard, 1st Earl of St. Albans and Clanricarde, who brought him four sons - of whom two only, John and Francis, lived to manhood - and three daughters. By his third wife, Isabella Howard, second daughter of William, 1st Viscount Stafford, he had no children.

Clarendon has celebrated Winchester's goodness, piety and unselfish loyalty in elo­quent and just language. Three works, translated from the French by Winchester, are extant: 1. 'Devout Entertainment of a Christian Soule,' by Jacques Hugues Quarré, Paris, 1648, done during his imprison­ment in the Tower. 2. 'The Gallery of Heroick Women,' by Pierre Le Moyne, a Jesuit, London, 1652, in praise of which James Howell wrote some lines. 3. 'The Holy History' of Nicholas Talon, London, 1653. To these works Winchester prefixed prefaces, written in simple, unaffected English, and remarkable for their tone of gentle piety. In 1663, Sir Balthazar Gerbier, in dedicating to him a treatise called 'Counsel and advice to all Builders,' takes occasion to commend Englefield (or, as he calls it, 'Henfelde') House. Winchester's portrait has been engraved in a small oval by Hollar. There is also a miniature of him by Peter Oliver, which has been engraved by Cooper, and an equestrian portrait by Adams.

Edited from Sidney Lee's 'Dictionary of National Biography' (1895)
 
  

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