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Dukes of Great Britain

Thomas, Duke of Gloucester,

Lord High Constable of England, was the youngest son of Edward III., and was born in 1355, at Woodstock, whence he was called Thomas of Woodstock. He was created Earl of Buckingham, and afterwards Duke of Gloucester, by his nephew Richard II., with whom he was at constant variance. He was excluded from the Council of Regency chosen on the accession of Richard, 1377; was entrusted with the command of the army in France, and in 1380 marched at the head of it from Calais to Brittany. He returned home the following year. During the absence of John of Gaunt (1385-7) he gained the ascendancy in the state, and succeeded in getting a Council of Regency formed, with himself at the head of it, thus leaving the king a cipher. The king with his adherents taking steps to dissolve the Council, Gloucester marched on London, seized the Tower, and imprisoned or banished his opponents.

The parliament which met in February, 1388, condemned the king's favourites as traitors. Tresilian, the Chief Justice, and Sir Nicholas Brember, lord mayor, were executed; the archbishop of York was banished, and De Vere and De la Pole escaped to the Continent. In the following year the king assumed the government and was formally reconciled with Gloucester. The latter afterwards opposed the marriage of Richard with Isabella of France, and engaged in plots for the recovery of his lost power; in consequence of which he was, by the king's command, arrested, in July, 1397, under circumstances of profound treachery at his castle of Plashy, thence dragged into a boat and sent to Calais. When a writ was issued in September to have him brought to answer the appeal of treason before the parliament, the return was made by the governor of Calais that he died in custody. There is no doubt that he was murdered. His body was given to his wife, Eleanor, daughter of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, and masses were appointed to be said for his soul.

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Augustus Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Grafton,

was born in 1736; succeeded his grandfather in the family honours in 1757 and in 1765 was appointed Secretary of State; but the year following he relinquished that station, and soon after became First Lord of the Treasury, which post he held till 1770. During his administration, he was virulently attacked in the celebrated letters of Junius, who seems to have been actuated quite as much by personal enmity as by political hostility. In 1771 the duke was nominated Lord Privy Seal, which office be resigned in 1775, and remained in opposition till 1782, when he was again in office for a short time. After this, he was uniformly an opponent of ministers, till his death. He was author of a volume of theological essays, &c. Died, 1811.

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The above information was gleaned from various sources and then put together by Colin Hinson ©1996.

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