Biography of Hester Davenport Countess of Oxford 1642-1717

Siege of Maastricht

On 07 Aug 1632 Robert de Vere 19th Earl of Oxford (age 56) was killed at the Siege of Maastricht. His son [her future husband] Aubrey de Vere 20th Earl of Oxford (age 5) succeeded 20th Earl of Oxford.

On 23 Mar 1642 Hester Davenport Countess of Oxford was born.

Around 1647 [her future husband] Aubrey de Vere 20th Earl of Oxford (age 19) and Anne Bayning Countess of Oxford (age 9) were married. She by marriage Countess of Oxford. He the son of Robert de Vere 19th Earl of Oxford and Beatrice Van Hemmema Countess of Oxford (age 67).

Evelyn's Diary. 09 Jan 1662. I saw acted the Third Part of "The Siege of Rhodes". In this acted the fair and famous comedian called Roxalana (age 19) from the part she performed; and I think it was the last, she being taken to be the [her future husband] Earl of Oxford's (age 34) Miss [Note. Probably Diana Kirke Countess of Oxford] (as at this time they began to call lewd women). It was in recitative music.

Pepy's Diary. 18 Feb 1662. Having agreed with Sir Wm. Pen (age 40) and my wife to meet them at the Opera, and finding by my walking in the streets, which were every where full of brick-battes and tyles flung down by the extraordinary wind the last night (such as hath not been in memory before, unless at the death of the late Protector), that it was dangerous to go out of doors; and hearing how several persons had been killed to-day by the fall of things in the streets, and that the pageant in Fleetstreet is most of it blown down, and hath broke down part of several houses, among others Dick Brigden's; and that one Lady Sanderson, a person of quality in Covent Garden [Map], was killed by the fall of the house, in her bed, last night; I sent my boy home to forbid them to go forth. But he bringing me word that they are gone, I went thither and there saw "The Law against Lovers", a good play and well performed, especially the little girl's (whom I never saw act before) dancing and singing; and were it not for her, the loss of Roxalana (age 19) would spoil the house.

Pepy's Diary. 02 Apr 1662. Mr. Moore came to me, and he and I walked to the Spittle an hour or two before my Lord Mayor and the blewcoat boys come, which at last they did, and a fine sight of charity it is indeed. We got places and staid to hear a sermon; but, it being a Presbyterian one, it was so long, that after above an hour of it we went away, and I home and dined; and then my wife and I by water to the Opera, and there saw "The Bondman" most excellently acted; and though we had seen it so often, yet I never liked it better than to-day, Ianthe acting Cleora's part very well now Roxalana (age 20) is gone. We are resolved to see no more plays till Whitsuntide, we having been three days together. Met Mr. Sanchy, Smithes; Gale, and Edlin at the play, but having no great mind to spend money, I left them there. And so home and to supper, and then dispatch business, and so to bed.

Pepy's Diary. 20 May 1662. Sir W. Pen (age 41) and I did a little business at the office, and so home again. Then comes Dean Fuller (age 54) after we had dined, but I got something for him, and very merry we were for an hour or two, and I am most pleased with his company and goodness. At last parted, and my wife and I by coach to the Opera, and there saw the 2nd part of "The Siege of Rhodes", but it is not so well done as when Roxalana (age 20) was there, who, it is said, is now owned by my [her future husband] Lord of Oxford (age 35)1.

Note 1. For note on Mrs. Davenport, who was deceived by a pretended marriage with the Earl of Oxford (age 35), see ante. Lord Oxford's first wife died in 1659. He married, in 1672, his second wife, Diana Kirke, of whom nothing more need be said than that she bore an inappropriate Christian name.

Pepy's Diary. 01 Dec 1662. This done we broke up, and I to the Cockpitt [Map], with much crowding and waiting, where I saw "The Valiant Cidd1" acted, a play I have read with great delight, but is a most dull thing acted, which I never understood before, there being no pleasure in it, though done by Betterton (age 27) and by Ianthe (age 25), And another fine wench that is come in the room of Roxalana (age 20) nor did the King (age 32) or Queen (age 24) once smile all the whole play, nor any of the company seem to take any pleasure but what was in the greatness and gallantry of the company.

Pepy's Diary. 27 Dec 1662. So to the office, and there Mr. Coventry (age 34) and I sat till noon, and then I stept to the Exchange [Map], and so home to dinner, and after dinner with my wife to the Duke's Theatre, and saw the second part of "Rhodes", done with the new Roxalana (age 20); which do it rather better in all respects for person, voice, and judgment, then the first Roxalana (age 20).

Around 1663 Aubrey de Vere 20th Earl of Oxford (age 35) and Hester Davenport Countess of Oxford (age 20) were married. When he subsequently married Diana Kirke Countess of Oxford in 1672 it transpired his marriage to Hester Davenport had been a sham with the service being performed by one of his servants. She lost the case making their son Aubrey de Vere illegitimate. She by marriage Countess of Oxford. It isn't entirely clear whether the marriage was legal and, consequently, whether she became Countess of Oxford. He the son of Robert de Vere 19th Earl of Oxford and Beatrice Van Hemmema Countess of Oxford.

Pepy's Diary. 01 Jan 1663. After dinner I did reckon with Mrs. Sarah for what we have eat and drank here, and gave her a crown, and so took coach, and to the Duke's house, where we saw "The Villaine" again; and the more I see it, the more I am offended at my first undervaluing the play, it being very good and pleasant, and yet a true and allowable tragedy. The house was full of citizens, and so the less pleasant, but that I was willing to make an end of my gaddings, and to set to my business for all the year again tomorrow. Here we saw the old Roxalana (age 20) in the chief box, in a velvet gown, as the fashion is, and very handsome, at which I was glad. Hence by coach home, where I find all well, only Sir W. Pen (age 41) they say ill again.

On 17 Apr 1664 [her son] Aubrey de Vere was born to [her husband] Aubrey de Vere 20th Earl of Oxford (age 37) and Hester Davenport Countess of Oxford (age 22). He was baptised on 15 May 1664 at St Paul's Church, Covent Garden.

Pepy's Diary. 06 Dec 1665. Up betimes, it being fast-day; and by water to the Duke of Albemarle (age 57), who come to towne from Oxford last night. He is mighty brisk, and very kind to me, and asks my advice principally in every thing. He surprises me with the news that my Lord Sandwich (age 40) goes Embassador to Spayne speedily; though I know not whence this arises, yet I am heartily glad of it. He did give me several directions what to do, and so I home by water again and to church a little, thinking to have met Mrs. Pierce in order to our meeting at night; but she not there, I home and dined, and comes presently by appointment my wife. I spent the afternoon upon a song of Solyman's words to Roxalana (age 23) that I have set, and so with my wife walked and Mercer to Mrs. Pierce's, where Captain Rolt and Mrs. Knipp, Mr. Coleman and his wife, and Laneare, Mrs. Worshipp and her singing daughter, met; and by and by unexpectedly comes Mr. Pierce from Oxford. Here the best company for musique I ever was in, in my life, and wish I could live and die in it, both for musique and the face of Mrs. Pierce, and my wife and Knipp, who is pretty enough; but the most excellent, mad-humoured thing, and sings the noblest that ever I heard in my life, and Rolt, with her, some things together most excellently. I spent the night in extasy almost; and, having invited them to my house a day or two hence, we broke up, Pierce having told me that he is told how the King (age 35) hath done my Lord Sandwich (age 40) all the right imaginable, by shewing him his countenance before all the world on every occasion, to remove thoughts of discontent; and that he is to go Embassador, and that the Duke of Yorke (age 32) is made generall of all forces by land and sea, and the Duke of Albemarle (age 57), lieutenant-generall. Whether the two latter alterations be so, true or no, he knows not, but he is told so; but my Lord is in full favour with the King (age 35). So all home and to bed.

Pepy's Diary. 02 Jul 1666. Thence home and to the Tower to see the men from Bridewell [Map] shipped. Being rid of him I home to dinner, and thence to the Excise office by appointment to meet my Lord Bellasses (age 52) and the Commissioners, which we did and soon dispatched, and so I home, and there was called by Pegg Pen (age 15) to her house, where her father (age 45) and mother (age 42), and Mrs. Norton, the second Roxalana (age 24), a fine woman, indifferent handsome, good body and hand, and good mine, and pretends to sing, but do it not excellently. However I took pleasure there, and my wife was sent for, and Creed come in to us, and so there we spent the most of the afternoon.

On 12 Apr 1672 [her husband] Aubrey de Vere 20th Earl of Oxford (age 45) and Diana Kirke Countess of Oxford were married. She by marriage Countess of Oxford. He the son of Robert de Vere 19th Earl of Oxford and Beatrice Van Hemmema Countess of Oxford.

On 12 Mar 1703 [her husband] Aubrey de Vere 20th Earl of Oxford (age 76) died. Earl of Oxford extinct.

On 16 Nov 1717 Hester Davenport Countess of Oxford (age 75) died.