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Essex, Robert Devereux, 3d earl of

Robert Devereux Essex, 3d earl of, 1591–1646, English parliamentary general; son of Robert Devereux, 2d earl of Essex. James I restored him (1604) to the estates of his father and arranged his marriage (1606) with Frances Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, earl of Suffolk. The marriage ended in a famous trial when the countess, who had fallen in love with Robert Carr, earl of Somerset, sued for and obtained (1613) an annulment.

After 1620, Essex followed a military and naval career, and from 1626 he was associated with the parliamentary opposition to Charles I. He was second in command of the royal army in the first of the Bishops' Wars in Scotland (1639) and was made privy councilor (1641), but Charles could not keep his allegiance thereafter. Essex commanded the parliamentary forces at the battle of Edgehill (1642). In 1643 he took Reading, relieved Gloucester, and took part in the first battle of Newbury. The next year, however, he quarreled bitterly with Sir William Waller and, disobeying orders, pursued the royalists into the southwest. He was cut off in Cornwall and forced to escape with as many of his men as he could by sea. He opposed the formation of the New Model Army and reluctantly relinquished his command in 1645.

See biographies by G. B. Harrison (1937, repr. 1973) and V. F. Snow (1970).

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Essex, Robert Devereux, 3rd earl of

Essex, Robert Devereux, 3rd earl of (1591–1646). Essex was the son of Elizabeth I's favourite, and was 10 when his father was executed. His sympathies being on the parliamentary side, he was appointed commander-in-chief as soon as war came. He fought prudent defensive campaigns at Edgehill and Turnham Green in 1642. In September 1643 he succeeded in relieving Gloucester and fought his way back to London at the first battle of Newbury. In September 1644 he led the ill-advised foray into Cornwall which ended in disaster at Lostwithiel. Essex resigned in accordance with the self-denying ordinance in 1645 and died the following year. Clarendon praised him for the good discipline of his troops and he seems to have been well liked. But he did not really gain one notable victory and his position depended mainly upon his name and rank.

J. A. Cannon

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Essex, Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of

Essex, Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of (1591–1646) Parliamentary commander in the English Civil War from July 1642. A poor strategist, his failures perhaps prolonged the war. He was effectively superseded by Oliver Cromwell when the New Model Army formed in 1645.

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