Macclesfield, Charles Gerard, 1st Earl Of
MACCLESFIELD, CHARLES GERARD, 1ST EARL OF (c. 1618- 1694), eldest son of Sir Charles Gerard, was a member of an old Lancashire family, his great-grandfather having been Sir Gilbert Gerard (d. 1593) of Ince, in that county, one of the most distinguished judges in the reign of Elizabeth. His mother was Penelope Fitton of Gawsworth, Cheshire. Charles Gerard was educated abroad, and in the Low Countries learnt soldiering, in which he showed himself proficient when on the outbreak of the Civil War in England he raised a troop of horse for the king's service. Gerard commanded a brigade with distinction at Edgehill, and gained further honours at the first battle of Newbury and at Newark in 1644, for which service he was appointed to the chief command in South Wales. Here his operations in 1644 and 1645 were completely successful in reducing the Parliamentarians to subjection; but the severity with which he ravaged the country made him personally so unpopular that when, after the defeat at Naseby in June 1645, the king endeavoured to raise fresh forces in Wales, he was compelled to remove Gerard from the local command. Gerard was, however, retained in command of the king's guard during Charles's march from Wales to Oxford, and thence to Hereford and Chester in August 1645; an d having been severely wounded at Rowton Heath on the 23rd of September, he reached Newark with Charles on the 4th of October. On the 8th of November 1645 he was created Baron Gerard of Brandon in the county of Suffolk; but about the same time he appears to have forfeited Charles's favour by having attached himself to the party of Prince Rupert, with whom after the surrender of Oxford Gerard probably went abroad. He remained on the Continent throughout the whole period of the Commonwealth, sometimes in personal attendance on Charles II., at others serving in the wars under Turenne, and constantly engaged in plots and intrigues. For one of these, an alleged design on the life of Cromwell, his cousin Colonel John Gerard was executed in the Tower in July 1654. At the Restoration Gerard rode at the head of the king's life-guards in his triumphal entry into London; his forfeited estates were restored, and he received lucrative offices and pensions. In 1668 he retired from the command of the king's guard to make room for the duke of Monmouth, receiving, according to Pepys, the sum of 12,000 as solatium. On the 23rd of July 1679 Gerard was created earl of Macclesfield and Viscount Brandon. A few months later he entered into relations with Monmouth, and co-operated with Shaftesbury in protesting against the rejection of the Exclusion Bill. In September 1685, a proclamation having been issued for his arrest, Macclesfield escaped abroad, and was outlawed. He returned with William of Orange in 1688, and commanded his body-guard in the march from Devonshire to London. By William he was made a privy councillor, and lord lieutenant of Wales and three western counties. Macclesfield died on the 7th of January 1694. By his French wife he left two sons and two daughters.
His eldest son CHARLES, 2nd earl of Macclesfield (c. 1650- 1701), was born in France and was naturalized in England by act of parliament in 1677. Like his father he was concerned in the intrigues of the duke of Monmouth; in 1685 he was sentenced to death for being a party to the Rye House plot, but was pardoned by the king. In 1689 he was elected member of parliament for Lancashire, which he represented till 1694, when he succeeded to his father's peerage. Having become a majorgeneral in the same year, Macclesfield saw some service abroad; and in 1701 he was selected first commissioner for the investiture of the elector of Hanover (afterwards King George I.) with the order of the Garter, on which occasion he also was charged to present a copy of the Act of Settlement to the dowager electress Sophia. He died on the 5th of November 1701, leaving no legitimate children.
In March 1698 Macclesfield was divorced from his wife Anna, daughter of Sir Richard Mason of Sutton, by act of parliament, the first occasion on which a divorce was so granted without a previous decree of an ecclesiastical court. The countess was the mother of two children, who were known by the name of Savage, and whose reputed father was Richard Savage, 4th Earl Rivers (d. 1712). The poet Richard Savage (<?..) claimed that he was the younger of these children. The divorced countess married Colonel Henry Brett about the year 1700, and died at the age of eighty-five in 1753. Her daughter Anna Margaretta Brett was a mistress of George I. The 2nd earl of Macclesfield was succeeded by his brother Fitton Gerard, 3rd earl (c. 1665- 1702), on whose death without heirs the title became extinct in December 1702.
In 1721 the title of earl of Macclesfield was revived in favour of THOMAS PARKER (c. 1666-1732). The son of Thomas Parker, an attorney at Leek, young Parker was a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, and became a barrister in 1691. In 1705 he was elected member of parliament for Derby, and having gained some reputation in his profession, he took a leading part in the proceedings against Sacheverell in 1710. In the same year he was appointed lord chief justice of the queen's bench, but he refused to become lord chancellor in the following year; however he accepted this office in 1718, two years after he had been made Baron Parker of Macclesfield by George I., who held him in high esteem. In 1721 he was created Viscount Parker and earl of Macclesfield, but when serious charges of corruption were brought against him he resigned his position as lord chancellor in 1725. In the same year Macclesfield was impeached, and although he made a very able defence he was found guilty by the House of Lords. His sentence was a fine of 30,000 and imprisonment until this was paid. He was confined in the Tower of London for six weeks, and after his release he took no further part in public affairs. The earl, who built a grammar school at Leek, died in London on the 28th of April 1732.
Macclesfield's only son, GEORGE, (c. 1697-1764) 2nd earl of Macclesfield of this line, was celebrated as an astronomer. As Viscount Parker he was member of parliament for Wallingford from 1722 to 1727, but his interests were not in politics. In 1722 he became a fellow of the Royal Society, and he spent most of his time in astronomical observations at his Oxfordshire seat, Shirburn Castle, which had been bought by his father in 1716; here he built an observatory and a chemical laboratory. The earl was very prominent in effecting the change from the old to the new style of dates, which came into operation in 1752. His action in this matter, however, was somewhat unpopular, as the opinion was fairly general that he had robbed the people of eleven days. From 1752 until his death on the 17th of ^larch 1764 Macclesfield was president of the Royal Society, and he made some observations on the great earthquake of 1755. His successor was his son Thomas (1723-1795), from whom the present earl is descended.
For the earls of the Gerard family see Lord Clarendon, History of the Rebellion, ed. by W. D. Macray ; E. B. G. Warburton, Memoirs of Prince Rupert and the Cavaliers (3 vols., 1849) ; State Papers of John Thurloe (j vols., 1742); T. R. Phillips, Memoirs of the Civil War in Wales and the Marches, 1642-49 (2 vols., 1874) ; and the duke of Manchester, Court and Society from Elizabeth to Anne (2 vols., 1864). For Lord Chancellor Macclesfield, see Lord Campbell, Lives of the Lord Chancellors and Keepers of the Great Seal (1845-1869).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)