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Herbert, William, 3rd earl of Pembroke

Herbert, William, 3rd earl of Pembroke (1580–1630). Herbert succeeded to the earldom at the age of 21 in 1601. He was under a cloud at Elizabeth's court for getting Mary Fitton, one of the maids of honour, pregnant. He fared better with James I, was awarded the Garter in 1603, and from 1615 served as lord chamberlain. In 1626 he became lord steward. He was often at odds with royal policy and on bad terms with Buckingham, favourite to both James I and Charles I. Nevertheless, his wealth and amiability gave him standing, he was chancellor of the University of Oxford, and Pembroke College was refounded in his honour. A patron of authors, including Donne, Jonson, and Shakespeare, the attempt to identify him with the W.H. of the sonnets is implausible. Clarendon praised him as ‘the most universally loved and esteemed of any man of that age’, while admitting that Pembroke was ‘immoderately given up to women’.

J. A. Cannon

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