William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle

William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle

William Parker, 1st or 5th Baron Monteagle and 11th Baron Morley (1575 - July 1, 1622), was the eldest son of Edward Parker, 10th Baron Morley (d. 1618), and of Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of William Stanley, 3rd Baron Monteagle (d. 1581).

When quite a youth he married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Tresham, and was styled Lord Monteagle in right of his mother. He was allied with many Roman Catholic families, and during the reign of Elizabeth I was in sympathy with their cause. He received knighthood when with Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex in Ireland in 1599, and in 1601 took part in the latter's rebellion in London, when he was punished by imprisonment and a fine of £8000.

He subsequently in 1602 joined in sending the mission to Spain inviting Philip III to invade England. He was intimate with Robert Catesby and others, and according to Father Garnet expressed an opinion some few months before the Gunpowder Plot that the Romanists had a good opportunity of making good their claims by taking up arms against the king. It is certain that he was one of those who acquiesced in James I's accession and assisted Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton in securing the Tower of London for the king.

He was taken into favour, and received a summons to attend the parliament of the 5th of November 1605 as Lord Monteagle. On October 26, 1605, while sitting at supper at Hoxton, he received the celebrated letter giving warning of the gunpowder plot, probably written by Francis Tresham. After having caused it to be read aloud by Ward, a gentleman in his service and an intimate friend of Robert Winter, one of the chief conspirators, he took it to Whitehall and showed it to Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury and other ministers. It is believed by some historians (such as Lady Antonia Fraser), however, that he authored the letter himself in order to win acclaim and favour with the King.

On November 4 he accompanied Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk, the Lord Chamberlain, in his visit to the vault under the parliament house, where Guy Fawkes was found. Monteagle received £700 a year for his services in averting the disaster. In 1609 he was chosen a member of the council of the Virginia Company and subscribed to its funds. The same year disorders in his house are reported, probably referring to his harbouring of Roman Catholic students from St Omer ("Cal. of St Pap. Dom." 1603-1610, p. 533).

In 1618, on the death of his father, he was summoned to parliament as Baron Morley and Monteagle. He died on the 1st of July 1622 at Great Hallingbury, Essex, where he was buried.

By his marriage with Elizabeth Tresham he had, besides daughters, three sons, the eldest of whom, Henry, (d. 1655) succeeded him as 12th Baron Morley and 5th Baron Monteagle. These baronies fell into abeyance when Henry's son Thomas died about 1686.



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