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Date: 1579 to 1848
Location: Brampton Bryan, Herefordshire and Wigmore, Herefordshiremap
Surname/tag: Harley
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HARLEY Earl of Oxford, Peer of Great Britain. Page 347-349 The genealogy of the existing British peerage by Edmund LODGE. [1]

THIS family, of Saxon origin, possessed the Castle and Lordship of Harley in Shropshire before the Conquest of William. ’’’Sir John de Harley’’’ was seated there in the reign of WILLIAM the Conqueror.

Twelfth in descent from him was Sir Robert Harley KB, (bef. 1579 - bef. 1656). who sided with the Parliament in the grand rebellion. His Lady, Brilliana, 2nd daughter of Edward Viscount Conway, heroically held out his Castle of Brampton for seven weeks against the Royal forces, in Aug. and Sept. 1643, when the greater part of the town of Brampton was burnt; the siege was raised, but she died in the October following, and the Castle was soon after besieged again ; it then surrendered, after a gallant resistance, by the servants only of Sir Robert, and was burnt to the ground, as was also his Castle of Wigmore, the loss in both amounting to not less than £50,000.
The estate of Sir Henry Lingen, a Royalist, was afterwards laid under sequestration, and the profits granted to Sir Robert Harley, to make good his losses, but magnanimously restored by him to the widow of Sir Henry.

In Dec. 1648, he was one, and his son, Col. Edward Harley KB MP, was another, of the forty-one Members of the House of Commons who were arrested and imprisoned by the army for having voted that the answer of the King to the propositions of Parliament was ground to proceed upon to the settlement of the kingdom's peace; and he died in 1656.

His son and heir, Sir Edward Harley KB MP,(Bef. 1624-1700) was a Colonel in the service of the Parliament, and was distinguished for his valour and abilities; in 1647 he was one of the eleven Members of the House of Commons impeached by the army for high treason, on account of their firmness in promoting a peace; he was then excluded from the House, but being afterwards re-admitted, was made prisoner, with his father and the thirty-nine other members, for the same cause.

He was so active and instrumental in furthering the Restoration, that on his meeting CHARLES II. at Dover on the King's first landing there, he was appointed Governor of Dunkirk, and set out immediately to take possession of his government; but was displaced in 1661, before the town was put into the hands of the French; because the King apprehended from him a refusal to comply with the order for its surrender.

He was elected a Knight of the Bath without his knowledge, while at Dunkirk, having previously refused a Peerage, lest his co-operation in the Restoration should be attributed to motives of personal ambition. At the Revolution he raised a troop of horse at his own expense, marched with them to Worcester, of which city he was immediately made Governor by the gentlemen of the county, and sent his two eldest sons to offer his services to the Prince of Orange. He died in 1700, leaving, besides other issue, the two eldest sons above mentioned, viz.,

  1. Robert Harley KG MP (1661-1724), 1st Earl of Oxford, who was educated at the private school of the Rev. Mr, Birch at Shilton in Oxfordshire; who, besides this young Harley, afterwards Lord High Treasurer, had under his care, at the same time, the future Lord High Chancellor Harcourt, Lord Trevor, Chief Justice of the Common Picas, and others who became afterwards eminent public men.

After making his outset in politics by the offer of his own and his father's services, not obtaining so much consideration from the parties in power as he thought he deserved, and perhaps not altogether satisfied with the Whig and Presbyterian principles in which he had been educated, he became a staunch opponent of the Court measures. He was chosen Speaker of the House of Commons in the two last Parliaments of King WILLIAM and the first of Queen ANNE.
In 1704 he was appointed Secretary of State, and resigned that office in 1708, having, while he held it, been instrumental in concluding the treaty of Union with Scotland.

In 1710, on the overthrow of the Whig Administration, he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was in the following year stabbed at the Council Board by the Marquis de Guiscard, a French Papist, then under examination upon a charge of treason, who received wounds and bruises in the scuffle that ensued, of which the Marquis de Guiscard died, and Mr. Robert Harley, on his re-appearance after his recovery from his wounds, was congratulated by the House of Commons on his escape.
In May 1711 he was created Baron Harley of Wigmore, Co. Herefordshire, Earl of Oxford, and Earl Mortimer, with remainder, failing his issue male, to the issue male of his grandfather, Sir Robert Harley, K.B.;
and in the same month (May 1711) he was appointed Lord High Treasurer of Great Britain, in which office he continued till a few days before the death of Queen Anne in 1714; having been in 1712 elected a Knight of the Garter.
In June 1715 he was impeached by the House of Commons for the part he had taken in forwarding the Treaty of Utrecht, then denounced as treasonable, and suffered a long and severe confinement in the Tower, but on trial by his Peers in July 1717, was unanimously acquitted.
His Lordship took no further part in public affairs. He possessed considerable learning himself, and was a great favourer and protector of learned men; he was an incorrupt Minister, having made no addition, during the period of his power, to his patrimonial fortune; and suffered persecution with the intrepid consciousness of integrity. He died in 1724,

His only son and heir, Edward Harley MP (bef. 1689 - 1741), became the 2nd Earl of Oxford, and he made invaluable additions to the noble collection of manuscripts left by his father, and the whole were sold to the public by his widow, the Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles, only daughter and heir of John Holles, Duke of Newcastle. Edward died in 1741, leaving by her an only daughter and heir, the Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley, wife of William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland.

  1. Edward Harley, of Eywood, Co. Herefordshire, Esq.; He died in 1735, leaving a son,

Edward Harley (1699 - 1755 who according to the limitation of the Patent, succeeded his cousin as 3rd Earl of Oxford. and he died in 1755, leaving, besides other issue, the three sons following:

a. Edward Harley, 4th Earl of Oxford, b. 2 Sept. 1720, succeeded 11 April 1755, died 8 Oct.1790 ; having married in July 1751, Susanna Archer, daughter of William Archer, Esq., by whom, who died 10 Nov. 1804, he had no issue. His nephew Edward Harley inherited the title.

b. Rev. John Walpole Harley DD, Lord Bishop of Hereford. His son, Edward Harley (1773-1848) was the 5th Earl of Oxford who succeeded his uncle Edward above.

c. Thomas Harley, Alderman of London; he was b. 25 August 1730, and died 1 Oct. 1801; his wife and the mother of his children, was Anne Bangham, daughter of Edward Bangham, Esq., to whom he was married on 15 March 1753. He died 15 Jan. 1798.

List of the Earls of Oxford and Earls Mortimer

When Lord Alfred Harley died in January 1853, aged 44, the titles of Earl of Oxford, Earl Mortimer became extinct.
His estates though, including Brampton Bryan, passed to his sister Jane Elizabeth Harley-Bickersteth, who was married to Henry Bickersteth, Lord Langdale KC, from whom they eventually passed to a distant relative, William Daker Harley.

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