Thomas Osborne earl of Danby

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Danby, Thomas Osborne, 1st earl of, marquis of Carmarthen, and duke of Leeds (1632–1712). The first minister to construct and manage working majorities in both Houses of Parliament. He did not come from a leading family and at first acted as lieutenant to the 2nd duke of Buckingham. Appointed lord treasurer in 1673 as a stop-gap to restore royal finances after the collapse of the cabal he secured himself in office by reversing previous unpopular policies. He made Charles II realize that without money the Anglo-Dutch War must be abandoned. He rallied the bishops and clergy, out of royal favour since 1663, renewing prosecutions of catholics and dissenters. Danby used patronage to win followers, especially in Parliament and county offices, and installed relations and associates in key positions. He defeated all attempts by Shaftesbury's country opposition to force the dissolution of Parliament or his dismissal. But Charles retained rivals in court offices and operated a secret alternative policy of co-operation with France. Danby negotiated the marriage of the later William III and Mary II but failed to commit Charles to war against France. By releasing incriminating papers to MPs, Louis XIV drove Danby from office. Under impeachment he was confined in the Tower from 1679 to 1684. During the Glorious Revolution, Danby seized York and Hull for William. Lord president of the council (1689), he resumed his activities as a political manager and fixer, becoming identified as the leading Tory. But the exposure of his corrupt practices in 1695 ended his active career.

J. R. Jones

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Thomas Osborne Danby, earl of, 1631–1712, English statesman. Under the patronage of the 2d duke of Buckingham, he was appointed treasurer of the navy (1668), a privy councilor (1672), and lord treasurer (1673–78). A staunch royalist, he was also a fervent Anglican and thus opposed to alliance with France. He ended (1674) England's participation in the third Dutch War and arranged (1677) the marriage of Princess Mary to the Dutch William of Orange. However, while telling Parliament that he was raising money for war with France, he was at the same time negotiating reluctantly at Charles II's behest for a French alliance (1677). Impeached for treasonable communications with the French (1678), he was imprisoned (1679–84). Danby's firm Protestantism led him to support the opposition to James II, and he was a signatory of the request (1688) to William and Mary to intervene in English affairs. Despite his suspected Jacobite sympathies, he continued to be influential under the new monarchs; in 1690 he was made president of the council. Impeached again (1695), in connection with a bribe from the East India Company, he resigned. Although exonerated and restored to royal favor, he did not return to office. He was created marquis of Carmarthen in 1689 and duke of Leeds in 1694.

See biography by A. Browning (3 vol., 1944–51).

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Danby, Thomas Osborne, 1st Earl of (1632–1712) (subsequently Marquis of Carmarthen, Duke of Leeds) Leading minister of Charles II, he was impeached and imprisoned (1679–84) for trying to secure a secret subsidy from Louis XIV of France. He organized a group, later known as Tories, who supported the succession of James II, but later changed sides and served William III until again impeached for bribery. See also Tory Party