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Henry Jermyn



This portrait from the studio of Van Dyck shows Henry Jermyn (1604/5-84) as a dashing young man. First elected to the Commons in 1625, he swiftly became close to the new Queen Henrietta Maria; by 1628 he was appointed her vice-chamberlain, and by 1639 her Master of Horse. He took part in the Army Plot of 1641 along with Wilmot, and subsequently had to flee to France. Returning in 1643, he continued his friendship with her.  It was she who urged King Charles to elevate him to a baronetcy, purportedly so that if he were seized and condemned to a traitor's death by Parliament, he would be executed upon the block rather than hanged, drawn and quartered. He was also Colonel of her personal Lifeguard. He accompanied her to France, and was rumoured to be her lover, to have married her after her husband’s execution, and even to have fathered some of her children. In 1660, Charles II raised him to Earl of St. Albans, and after the Restoration made him Lord Chamberlain. He maintained a strong interest in promoting Anglo-French relations. In the early 1660’s he was granted land in London. He not only built St. James’s Square, but many of the surrounding streets, including Jermyn Street; his designs inspired the development of much of London’s West End. He died, to public knowledge, a bachelor.


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