Edward Villiers (1620–1689)

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Edward Villiers
Personal details
Born15 April, 1620
Brooksby, Leicestershire
Died1689 (aged 68–69)
Resting placeWestminster Abbey
Spouse(s)Frances Howard (1650–1677, her death)
Martha Love (1684–1689, his death)
Children2 sons, 6 daughters
ParentsSir Edward Villiers (father)
Barbara St John Alington (mother)

Sir Edward Villiers (15 April 1620 – 1689) was an English politician and military officer from the powerful Villiers family.


Edward Villiers was born in April 1620, fourth son of Sir Edward Villiers and Barbara St. John, half-nephew to George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham. Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, considered him to be a man of "diligence and dexterity" and referred to him as "honest Ned".


He fought for Charles I during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, serving in the Bishops Wars against the Scots and being wounded at the First Battle of Newbury in 1643. He was also employed to carry confidential dispatches and served under Sir Richard Willys as governor of Newark before Lord John Belasyse was appointed in Willys's place.

After the end of the First English Civil War, he was implicated in a plot to assist the escape of the Duke of York, later James II, but was not convicted. He took no part in the Second English Civil War and lived abroad from 1649 to 1652.

When Charles II regained his throne at Restoration in 1660, Villiers held a series of positions in North-East England, including Governor of Tynemouth Castle and Newcastle. He also held a number of largely honorary military posts; in 1670, he was made Captain of the King's Own Troop of Horse Guards, the Colonel being Charles' illegitimate son the Duke of Monmouth. The most significant sign of his perceived loyalty was that his first wife Frances Howard was governess to James' daughters Mary and Anne. She died of smallpox in 1677 and Villiers served briefly in Flanders in 1678 in the Duke of York's Regiment of Horse but without seeing action.[1] In 1681, he was made Knight Marshal of the Royal Household.

During Monmouth's rebellion against James in June 1685, Villiers and Monmouth's former unit from the Horse Guards accompanied Feversham and Churchill to the Battle of Sedgemoor.[2] However, like the vast majority Villiers supported William III when he landed at Torbay on 5 November 1688 in the invasion known as the Glorious Revolution. Those few who remained loyal to James like the Catholic Earl of Peterborough were removed from their positions and on 31 December 1688 Villiers was appointed Colonel of the Earl of Peterborough's Regiment of Horse.[a][3]

The date of his death is not certain, but he was buried in Westminster Abbey on 2 July 1689.[4]

Marriage and Family[edit]

Around 1650, he married Frances Howard, youngest daughter of Theophilus Howard, 2nd Earl of Suffolk and Elizabeth Hume, later governess to James' daughters Mary and Anne. They had numerous children before Frances died of smallpox in 1677.

Anne, Elizabeth, Edward and (possibly) Katherine accompanied Queen Mary to the Hague after her marriage in 1677 to William of Orange.[5])

In February 1685, Villiers married Martha Love in Westminster Abbey but they had no children.[6]


  1. ^ Commissions were private assets that could be bought, sold or used as an investment; many Colonels played no active military role which seems likely with Villiers.


  1. ^ Dalton, Charles (1892). English Army Lists and Commission Registers. 1. Eyre & Spottiswoode.
  2. ^ Arthur, Sir George (1909). The Story of the Household Cavalry. 1. Archibald Constable & Co. p. 180.
  3. ^ "English Cavalry Regiments". Spanish Succession.nl. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Westminster Abbey, Villiers Family".
  5. ^ Seccombe, Thomas (1885–1900). "Villiers, Elizabeth" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  6. ^ Collectanea topographica et genealogica. 1834.


  • Royalist Conspiracy in England 1649-1660, David Underdown, Yale University Press, 1960, pages 81 to 82.