The 2nd Earl of Castlehaven, from a contemporary print published in the wake of his notorious trial.
| Member of Parliament |
5 April 1614 –7 June 1625
| Justice of the Peace |
| Justice of the Peace |
| Justice of the Peace |
|Died||14 May 1631|
Tower Hill, London
|Cause of death||beheaded|
Mervyn Tuchet (sometimes Mervin Touchet), 2nd Earl of Castlehaven (1593 – 14 May 1631), was an English nobleman who was convicted of rape and sodomy and subsequently executed.
A son of George Tuchet, 1st Earl of Castlehaven and 11th Baron Audley, by his wife, Lucy Mervyn, he was known by the courtesy title of Lord Audley during his father's lifetime, so is sometimes referred to as Mervyn Audley.
He was knighted by James I in 1608, before he studied law at the Middle Temple. He served as Member of the Parliament of England for Dorset in the Addled Parliament of 1614 and was a Justice of the Peace for the counties of Dorset, Somerset, and Wiltshire.He succeeded his father on 20 February 1616/7 as Earl of Castlehaven and Baron Audley. He left six children upon his death.
Sometime before 1608(records of the marriage are lacking), Lord Audley married Elizabeth Barnham, a sister-in-law of the philosopher and scientist Francis Bacon, and with her he had six children. By all accounts the marriage was a loving and successful one, ending with her death in 1622. His second marriage, on 22 July 1624, at Harefield, Middlesex, was to the former Lady Anne Stanley (1580–1647), elder daughter and co-heiress of Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby (by his wife, Alice Spencer), and widow of Grey Brydges, 5th Baron Chandos. They had a daughter, Anne Touchet, who died young. Lady Anne was significantly older than Castlehaven, and the marriage was not a success, but in 1628 Lord Castlehaven's son was married to her thirteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth; a marriage of step-children.
In 1630, Castlehaven was publicly accused of raping his wife and committing sodomy with two of his servants.Castlehaven's son, James, claimed that it was the extent of Castlehaven's "uxoriousness" toward his male favourites which led to his initial lodging of a complaint.
At a trial by his peers, it was stated that one such favourite, Henry Skipwith, had arrived at Fonthill Gifford in 1621 and that within a few years he was so close to Castlehaven that he sat at the family's table and was to be addressed as "Mister Skipwith" by the servants. Several years later, Giles Broadway arrived at the house and received similar treatment. It was not long before Castlehaven was providing Skipwith with an annual pension, and he was accused of attempting to have Skipwith inseminate his daughter-in-law, to produce an heir from Skipwith instead of his son. In fact, the countess[ who? ] and Skipwith had an adulterous relationship.
Charges were brought against Castlehaven on the complaint of his eldest son and heir, who feared disinheritance, and were heard by the Privy Council under the direction of Thomas Coventry, Lord High Steward. Lady Castlehaven gave evidence of a household which she said was infested with debauchery, and the Attorney-General acting for the prosecution explained to the court that Castlehaven had become ill because "he believed not God", an impiety which made Castlehaven unsafe. However, he insisted he was not guilty and that his wife and son had conspired together in an attempt to commit judicial murder. All witnesses against Castlehaven would gain materially by his death (as the defendant put it: "It is my estate, my Lords, that does accuse me this day, and nothing else")and "News writers throughout England and as far away as Massachusetts Bay speculated about the outcome."
Castlehaven maintained his innocence, and the trial aroused considerable public debate, After some deliberation the Privy Council returned a unanimous verdict of guilty on the charge of rape. The sodomy charge was also upheld, but by a slim margin as not all jurors agreed that actual penetration had taken place.The case remains of interest to some as an early trial concerning male homosexuality, but ultimately its greatest influence proved to be as a precedent in spousal rights, as it became the leading case establishing an injured wife's right to testify against her husband.
Castlehaven was convicted, attainted, and three weeks later beheaded on Tower Hill for his sexual crimes: namely the "unnatural crime" of sodomy, committed with his page Laurence (or Florence) FitzPatrick, who confessed to the crime and was executed; and assisting Giles Browning (alias Broadway), who was also executed, in the rape of his wife Anne, Countess of Castlehaven, in which Lord Castlehaven was found to have participated by restraining her.
The page who was executed, Laurence FitzPatrick, testified that Lady Castlehaven "was the wickedest woman in the world, and had more to answer for than any woman that lived". In The Complete Peerage , Cokayne adds that the death of Castlehaven was certainly brought about by his wife's manipulations and that her undoubted adultery with one Ampthill and with Henry Skipwith renders her motives suspicious. According to the historian Cynthia B. Herrup,Anne was the equal of Lord Castlehaven in immorality.
Under the terms of the attainder, Castlehaven forfeited his English barony of Audley, created for heirs general, but retained his Irish earldom and barony since it was an entailed honour protected by the statute De Donis . When he was beheaded on Tower Hill on 14 May 1631, those Irish titles passed to his son James.
Mervyn Touchet's first marriage (before 1608) was with Elizabeth Barnham (1592 – c. 1622/4), daughter of London alderman Benedict Barnham and his wife, Dorothea Smith, and they had six surviving children:
His second marriage was with Lady Anne Stanley, 22 July 1624, daughter of Ferdinando Stanley and Alice Spencer. From this marriage there was one daughter:
Earl of Castlehaven was a title in the Peerage of Ireland, created on 6 September 1616. It was held in conjunction with the Barony of Audley, the Barony of Audley of Orier, and the Barony of Audley of Hely.
George Tuchet, 1st Earl of Castlehaven, was the son of Henry Tuchet, 10th Baron Audley and his wife, née Elizabeth Sneyd.
James Tuchet, 3rd Earl of Castlehaven was the son of Mervyn Tuchet, 2nd Earl of Castlehaven and his first wife, Elizabeth Barnham. Castlehaven played a prominent role in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms that took place in the middle of the 17th century, and was particularly active in the conflicts in Ireland at this time.
Mervyn Tuchet, 4th Earl of Castlehaven was the third son of Mervyn Tuchet, 2nd Earl of Castlehaven, and his first wife, Elizabeth Barnham.
James Tuchet, 5th Earl of Castlehaven was the son of Mervyn Tuchet, 4th Earl of Castlehaven and Mary Talbot.
James Tuchet, 6th Earl of Castlehaven was the son of James Tuchet, 5th Earl of Castlehaven and his wife Anne Pelson.
John Talbot Tuchet, 8th Earl of Castlehaven was the son of James Tuchet, 6th Earl of Castlehaven, and his wife, née Elizabeth Arundell. He succeeded his brother as Earl of Castlehaven and Baron Audley on 6 May 1769.
Baron Audley is a title in the Peerage of England first created in 1313, by writ to the Parliament of England, for Sir Nicholas Audley of Heighley Castle, a member of the Anglo-Norman Audley family of Staffordshire.
James Tuchet, 5th Baron Audley, 2nd Baron Tuchet of Heleigh Castle was an English peer.
Anne Stanley was an English noblewoman. She was the eldest daughter of the Earl of Derby and through her two marriages first became Baroness Chandos and later Countess of Castlehaven. She was a distant relative of Elizabeth I of England and for some time was seen as a possible heiress to the English throne.
George Thicknesse, later Thicknesse-Touchet, 19th Baron Audley was an English peer.
George Anselm Touchet, also spelt Tuchet, was the Roman Catholic chaplain of Queen Catherine of Braganza, the wife of King Charles II.
Events from the year 1631 in England.
The Stanley family or Audley-Stanley family is a family with many notable members including the Earls of Derby and Barons Audley who are descended from the early holders of Audley, Staffordshire, England. The Audley family in the male line has lost prominence after their considerable estates were passed by a number of female heiresses in different branches of the family.
Tuchet is a surname, and may refer to:
John Tuchet, 6th Baron Audley, 3rd Baron Tuchet was an English politician.
Sir Audley Mervyn of Trillick (1603?–1675) was a lawyer and politician in seventeenth-century Ireland. He was MP for County Tyrone and Speaker of the Irish House of Commons 1661-1666.
Dorothy Smith, while married to John Pakington a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I was involved in a matrimonial dispute that was heard in front of the Attorney General, Francis Bacon who was also her son-in-law.
Sir Piers Crosby (1590–1646) was an Irish soldier and politician. Crosby was also a leading Irish magnate, owning various estates across the island. He was a man of strong and determined character, and had sufficient political skills to help bring about the downfall and death of the Earl of Stafford, who in the 1630s had been virtually all-powerful in Ireland.
|Peerage of Ireland|
| Earl of Castlehaven |
|Peerage of England|
| Baron Audley |
Title next held byJames Tuchet