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Valentia, Sir Francis Annesley, Viscount

VALENTIA, SIR FRANCIS ANNESLEY, VISCOUNT (1585- 1660), Anglo-Irish statesman, son of Robert Annesley of Newport Pagnel in Buckinghamshire, was born in 1585, and settled in Ireland at an early age, acquiring property in various parts of the island. His friendship with the lord deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester, procured for him government employment and the favour of King James I., who conferred on him a grant of the land and fort of Mountnorris, county Armagh, in 1612. He was returned to the Irish parliament by the county Armagh in 1614, and four years later was appointed secretary for Ireland, being created a baronet in 1620. In the following year he received, by an unusual patent, a reversionary grant of the viscountcy of Valencia after the death without male issue of a kinsman (Sir Henry Power, created viscount of Valentia in 1621), the then living viscount. In 1625 Sir Francis Annesley was elected member for the county of Carmarthen in the English parliament; and in the same year he was made vice-treasurer and receiver-general of Ireland. In 1628 he was created Baron Mountnorris in the peerage of Ireland. He strongly opposed the policy of Lord Falkland, who became lord deputy in 1622, and procured his recall in 1629. When Sir Thomas Wentworth, afterwards the famous earl of Strafford, went to Ireland in 1633, he took action against Mountnorris, whom he accused of corruption and malversation of public money. The two men became violent opponents, and at a dinner at the lord chancellor's house in April 1635 Mountnorris used insulting and threatening language in reference to the lord deputy. Wentworth brought him before a court-martial on a charge of insubordination as an officer in the army, and by this tribunal Mountnorris was condemned to death. The sentence was not carried out, but he was imprisoned and deprived of all his offices on the report of a committee appointed by the privy council to inquire into the charges of corruption. The vindictiveness of the proceedings against Mountnorris, which afterwards constituted one of the counts in the impeachment of Strafford, has been strongly condemned by some historians and extenuated by others; that the trial by court-martial and the sentence were at all events not illegal, has been shown by S. R. Gardiner. Mountnorris was not long detained in prison, and in 1640 his relations with Strafford were examined by a committee of the Long Parliament, which pronounced the sentence passed on him unjust and illegal. In 1642 he succeeded, under the above-mentioned reversion, to the title of viscount of Valentia. During the Commonwealth he again held the post of secretary in Ireland to the lord deputy, Henry Cromwell, with whom he was on friendly terms. Valentia died in 1660. His wife was Dorothy, daughter of Sir John Phillipps of Picton, Pembrokeshire, by whom he was the father of Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey (q.v. for later history).

See S. R. Gardiner, History of England, vol. viii. (London, 1883-84); Straff ord's Letters and Dispatches, edited by W. Knowler (2 vols., Dublin, 1740); G. E. C., Complete Peerage, vol. v. (London, 1893).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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