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Annesley, Francis (DNB00)


From Wikisource

ANNESLEY, FRANCIS, BARON MOUNTNORRIS and VISCOUNT VALENTIA (15851660),


descended from the ancient family of Annesley of Annesley, Nottinghamshire, was the son of
Thomas Annesley, high constable of Newport, Buckinghamshire, and was baptised 2 Jan. 1585-6.
As early as 1606 he had left England to reside at Dublin, and he took advantage of the frequent
distributions of Irish land made to English colonists in the early part of the seventeenth century to
acquire estates in various parts of Ireland. With Sir Arthur Chichester, who became lord deputy in
1604, he lived on terms of intimacy, and several small offices of state, with a pension granted 5
Nov. 1607, were bestowed on him in his youthful days. In the colonisation of Ulster, which began
in 1608, Annesley played a leading part, and secured some of the spoils. In October 1609 he was
charged with the conveyance of Sir Neil O'Donnell and other Ulster rebels to England for trial. On
13 March 1611-12 James I wrote to the lord deputy confirming his grant of the fort and land of
Mountnorris to Annesley 'in consideration of the good opinion he has conceived of the said
Francis from Sir Arthur's report of him.' On 26 May 1612 Annesley was granted a reversion to the
clerkship of the 'Checque of the Armies and Garrisons,' to which he succeeded 9 Dec. 1625. In
1613 county Armagh returned Annesley to the Irish parliament, and he supported the protestants
there in their quarrels with the catholics. On 16 July 1616 the king knighted him at Theobalds; in
1618 he became principal secretary of state for Ireland; on 5 Aug. 1620 received from the king an
Irish baronetcy; and on 11 March 1620-1 received a reversionary grant to the viscounty of
Valentia, which had recently been conferred on Sir Henry Power, a kinsman of Annesley, without
direct heir. In 1622 Lord Falkland became lord deputy of Ireland, and Sir Francis sympathised very
little with his efforts to make the authority of his office effective throughout Ireland. Dissensions
between him and Falkland in the council chamber were constant, and in March 1625 the lord
deputy wrote to Conway, the English secretary of state, that a minority of the councillors, 'amongst
whom Sir Francis Annesley is not least violent nor the least impertinent,' was thwarting him in
every direction. But Annesley's friends at the English court contrived his promotion two months
later to the important post of vice-treasurer and receiver-general of Ireland, which gave him full
control of Irish finance (RYMER'S Fdera (2nd edition), xviii. 148), and in 1628 Charles I raised
him to the Irish peerage as Baron Mountnorris of Mountnorris. In October of the same year an
opportunity was given Annesley, of which he readily took advantage, to make Falkland's
continuance in Ireland impossible. He was nominated on a committee of the Irish privy council
appointed to investigate charges of injustice preferred against Falkland by an Irish sept named
Byrne, holding land in Wicklow. The committee, relying on the testimony of corrupt witnesses,
condemned Falkland's treatment of the Byrnes, and Falkland was necessarily recalled on 10 Aug.
1629. On 13 June 1632 the additional office of 'treasurer at wars' was conferred on Mountnorris.
In 1633 Sir Thomas Wentworth, afterwards Earl of Strafford, became lord deputy, and Lord
Mountnorris soon discovered that he was determined to insist on the rights of his office more
emphatically than Falkland. Wentworth disliked Mountnorris from the first as a gay liver, and as
having been long guilty, according to popular report, of corruption in the conduct of official duties.
In May 1634 Wentworth obtained an order from the English privy council forbidding his practice
of taking percentages on the revenue to which he was not lawfully entitled; this order Mountnorris

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