Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex - Death and Funeral

Death and Funeral

For the rest of his days Essex was associated with the emerging presbyterian faction in Parliament. One of his last political battles was his involvement with a plan to build up Edward Massey’s Western Association into an army capable of counterbalancing the New Model Army. Massey had been one of the few Parliamentary commanders to retain an independent commission when the New Model Army was formed. However this plan failed when Parliament disbanded Massey’s army in October 1646.

The Earl of Essex died in September 1646 without an heir. The earldom died with him, until it was revived in 1661 for Arthur Capel. His death not only weakened the presbyterian faction in Parliament, it also began the decline of the influence of the nobles who supported the Parliamentary cause. His viscountcy devolved on Walter Devereux, who was a younger grandson of the 1st viscount and cousin to the 1st earl of Essex.

His death led to a large display of mourning. Parliament contributed £5000 to the expenses of his funeral and he was buried in Westminster Abbey. For the occasion the chancel of the Abbey was draped in black from floor to ceiling and a funeral effigy of the earl dressed in scarlet breeches, a military buff-coat and Parliamentary robes was erected beneath a catafalque designed by Inigo Jones. This was left standing after the ceremony until a poor farmer from Dorset hacked it down on the grounds that an angel had told him to do so. The effigy was restored but Charles II ordered that it be taken down during the Restoration.

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