| A Somerset family
John Berkeley was born and baptised at Hanworth, in Middlesex the 5th son of Sir Maurice Berkeley of Bruton in Somerset, where the family lived. His mother was Elizabeth Killigrew daughter of Sir Henry Killigrew of Hanworth. There are family memorials in the parish church at Bruton.
During the Civil War he operated mainly in the West Country, gaining a notable victory, among others, over the Earl of Stamford in May 1643, at Stratton in Cornwall. He had been knighted in 1639 by the King, at Berwick and was raised to the peerage in 1658 by Charles in exile, in Brussels, as Baron Berkeley of Stratton. the site of his victory in 1643.
In 1647 Berkeley assisted the King in his flight from Hampton Court to the Isle of Wight, an episode which he later described in a document first published in 1699. He spent the years of the Commonwealth abroad.
lord Lieutenant of Ireland
On his return to England at the Restoration he was placed on the staff of the Admiralty, appointed Lord President of Connaught for life, a Privy Councillor, a Master of the Ordnance, a member of the Committee of Tangier and, in 1670, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In 1675 he was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary at the Congress of Nimeguen but his health was now failing.
For a number of years from 1652 he also acted as the manager of the Duke of York's household during which time, according to Samuel Pepys (27 Sep, 1668), he obtained some irregular benefit from the letting of the Duke's wine licences.
At Twickenham Park
|Lead 'coffin' of Sir William Berkeley as drawn by Edward Ironside in The History & Antiquities of Twickenham, 1797
He acquired Twickenham Park in 1668 and lived there intermittently until his death on 26 August 1678 when he was buried in a vault beneath the chancel of St Mary's Church, where a large memorial, originally on the chancel wall, now on the north wall of the tower ringing chamber, was erected. He was later joined by his widow, Christina who died in 1698, his brother Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia (d1677) and Admiral the Hon John Byron ("Foul weather Jack") who died in 1785, with whom there was a family connection. John Berkeley's sons Charles, John and William succeeded to the Barony in turn after which the title lapsed. Charles was buried, at St Mary's, on 21 September 1682 and William on 11 April 1696. He had a daughter, Frances, who in 1720 became the 3rd wife of William Byron, 4th Baron, of Rochdale (1670-1736). The Admiral was one of their sons.
Berkeley's memorial in St Mary's Church, Twickenham reads:
Under this marble
Lye the renowned afhes of the Right Honourable
the Ld JOHN BERKELEY, Baron of Straton, younger son
of Sir Maurice BERKELEY of Bruton in Somerfetfhire.
In the Civill wares,
In the dayes of Charles ye Ift (for his fignal valour and conduct
In recovering the city of Excester out of the hands of the rebels)
He was made Governer thereof & one of his Majefty’s general in ye Weft.
Thofe unhappy warres ended
He ferved many campaynes in Flanders
Both in the French and Spanish armies
According as their alliances with England engaged him
After the happy Reftauration of Charles ye 2d,
He was made Privy Counfellour, Governour of Connaught
And, after ld Lieutent of Ireland fent twice extraordary Embaffor
Firft into France, 2ly watch to the Treaty of Nijmegen.
His other felicityes were crowned
By his happy marriage of Chriftina, daughter of Sr. ANDREW RICCARD
A young lady of a large Dowry and yet larger Graces and Virtues.
who alfo Enricht him with a moft hopefull progeny.
Aug ye 26, 1678, in ye 72 yeare of his Age.
Though fprung from Danish Kings* of brightest Fame,
Whofe Bloud and High Exploits Exalt their name,
Berkeley’s own virtues moft his Tombe doe grace,
Adde glory To, not borrow, from his Race.”
*The ancient name of the Berkeleys was Fitz-Harding, they defcending from Eitz-Harding, a younger fon of the King of Denmark. E. Ironfide, 1785.
| Further reading:
Falk, The Berkeleys of Berkeley Square, 1944
Gilbert Burnet, History of his own Time, vol 1, 1723, vol 2, 1734
John Berkeley, Memoirs of Sir John Berkeley, Harleian Miscellany vol ix, 1812
Dictionary of National Biography
Anthony Beckles Willson, The Church of St Mary the Virgin, TWICKENHAM, 2000