Laurence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester

English politician, diplomat, and writer

Laurence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester, KG, PC (March 1642 – 2 May 1711) was an English statesman and writer. He was originally a supporter of James II but later supported the Glorious Revolution in 1688. He held high office under Queen Anne, who was his sister's daughter, but their frequent disagreements limited his influence.

Laurence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester


  • In an age when so many memoirs, narratives, and pieces of history come out as it were on purpose to justify the taking up arms against that king, and to blacken, revile, and ridicule the sacred majesty of an anointed head in distress; and when so much of the sense of religion to God, and of allegiance and duty to the crown is so defaced that it is already within little more than fifty years since the murder committed on that pious prince by some men made a mystery to judge on whose side was the right and on which the Rebellion is to be charged.
  • [Charles I was] brought, by unaccountable administrations on the one hand, and by vile contrivances on the other, into the greatest difficulties and distresses throughout all his kingdoms; then left and abandoned by most of his servants, whom he had himself raised to the greatest honours and preferments; thus reduced to have scarce one faithful able counsellor about him, to whom he could breathe his conscience and complaints, and from whom he might expect one honest, sound, disinterested advice: after this, how he was obliged to take up arms, and to contend with his own subjects in the field for his crown, the laws, his liberty, and life; there meeting with unequal fortune, how he was driven from one part of the kingdom, and from one body of an army to another, till at last he was brought under the power of cruel and merciless men, imprisoned, arraigned, condemned, and executed like a common malefactor.
    • Dedication to Queen Anne in the third volume of Clarendon's History of the Rebellion (1704), quoted in R. C. Richardson, The Debate on the English Revolution (1977), p. 34

Quotes about Lord RochesterEdit

  • Sir B. Bathurst sent me Ld Clarendons history last week, but haveing not quite made an end of ye first part, I did not unpack it, but I shall have that Curiosety now, to See this extraordinary dedication, which I should never have looked for in ye Second part of a book, & me thinks it is very wonderfull that people that dont want sense in some things, should be soe rediculous as to shew theire vanity.
    • Queen Anne to Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough (21 October 1703), quoted in Edward Gregg, Queen Anne (2001), p. 168
  • He had excellent parts, which had been improved by parliamentary and diplomatic experience; but the infirmities of his temper detracted much from the effective strength of his abilities. Negotiator and courtier as he was, he never learnt the art of governing or of concealing his emotions. When prosperous, he was insolent and boastful; when he sustained a check, his undisguised mortification doubled the triumph of his enemies: very slight provocations sufficed to kindle his anger; and when he was angry he said bitter things which he forgot as soon as he was pacified, but which others remembered many years. His quickness and penetration would have made him a consummate man of business but for his selfsufficiency and impatience. His writings prove that he had many of the qualities of an orator: but his irritability prevented him from doing himself justice in debate: for nothing was easier than to goad him into a passion; and, from the moment when he went into a passion, he was at the mercy of opponents far inferior to him in capacity. Unlike most of the leading politicians of that generation, he was a consistent, dogged, and rancorous party man, a Cavalier of the old school, a zealous champion of the Crown and of the Church, and a hater of Republicans and Nonconformists. He had consequently a great body of personal adherents. The clergy especially looked on him as their own man, and extended to his foibles an indulgence of which, to say the truth, he stood in some need, for he drank deep, and when was in a rage—and he very often was in a rage—he swore like a porter.

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