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John Belasyse

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B ARON B ELASYSE

Born about 1614; died 1689, a loyal Catholic English nobleman, second son of Thomas first Lord Fauconberg. His mother was Barbara, daughter of Sir Henry Cholmondeley of Roxby, Yorkshire.

John Belasyse, who represented Thirsk in both the Short and Long Parliaments, but was "disabled" as a Royalist to sit, played a conspicuous part in the civil war, commanding a "Tertia" on the Royalist side. He raised six regiments of horse and foot at his own expense, took part in the battles of Edgehill, Newbury, and Naseby, as well as the sieges of Reading and Bristol, and was subsequently made Lieutenant-General of the King's forces in the North of England and Governor of York. He was wounded several times and in January, 1645, was raised to the peerage by the King at Oxford under the title of Baron Belasyse of Worlaby, Lincolnshire. During the Commonwealth Lord Belasyse acted as a sort of Royalist agent in England and was in frequent communication with Charles II and his supporters in the Netherlands. After the Restoration he was made Lord-Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire (1661-73) and Governor of Hull, while from 1664 to 1666 he held the post of Captain-General of the forces in Africa and Governor of Tangier. Somewhat later, however, upon the passing of the Test Act (1673) he found himself as a Catholic unable to take the necessary oath and resigned all his appointments. At the time of the Oates plot, Belasyse, along with four other Catholic peers, the Lords Arundell of Wardour, Stafford, Powys, and Petre, was denounced as a conspirator and formally impeached in Parliament. Belasyse in particular was said to have been designated Commander-in-Chief of the Popish army, but Charles II, according to Von Ranke, ridiculed the idea on the ground that the man could then hardly stand on his feet with gout. Nevertheless, Lord Belasyse lived on for another ten years. The impeached Catholic peers, though they endured a long imprisonment in the Tower, were never brought to trial, and at the accession of James II Belasyse was again received into high favour. His appointment in 1687 as First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury was a step which roused strong religious feeling against James's government. Lord Belasyse died in 1689, the year of the accession of William of Orange. He was three times married, and left five children, but the title became extinct upon the death of his grandson Henry, third Baron Belasyse of Worlaby.

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