Sydney, Algernon

Sydney, Algernon

Male 1623 - 1683  (60 years)

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  • Name Sydney, Algernon 
    Born 1623 
    Gender Male 
    Died 7 Dec 1683 
    • Executed for treason
    Person ID I8190  GrangerMusgrave
    Last Modified 5 May 2009 

    Father Sydney, Robert 2nd Earl of Leicester,   b. 1 Dec 1595,   d. 2 Nov 1677  (Age 81 years) 
    Mother Percy, Lady Dorothy,   b. 1598, Northumberland England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Aug 1650, Petworth, Sussex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 52 years) 
    Married 1615 
    Family ID F5823  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Algernon Sydney

  • Notes 
    • A son of Robert Sidney 2nd Earl of Leicester and the great-nephew of Sir Philip Sidney he is thought to have been born at Penshurst Place in Kent. All of his life Sydney had been consistent in his support of liberty. He had served in the New Model Army though he opposed the decision to execute Charles I. He was for a time the lover of Lucy Walter later the mistress of Charles Prince of Wales. In the end Oliver Cromwell's absolutism was little better for Sydney than that previously practiced by the king. His dismissal of the Long Parliament in 1653 subverted the republic and the constitution. In retirement Sydney was bold enough to outrage the Lord Protector by putting on a performance of Julius Caesar with himself in the role of Brutus.

      A republican by deep conviction he was abroad when the monarchy was restored in 1660 choosing to remain in exile for some years. While writing Court Maxims (1665-6) he was busy negotiating with the Dutch and French for support of a republican invasion of England. He was only to return in 1677 almost immediately becoming involved in opposition to Stuart monarchial absolutism. When Charles dismissed his final Parliament in 1681 saying he would have no more Sydney united with Shaftesbury and others in plotting against the perceived royal tyranny of a 'force without authority.' Sydney was later to be implicated in the Rye House Plot a scheme to assassinate Charles and his brother though on the evidence of only one witness.

      Recognizing that a conviction rested on the testimony of two witnesses Sidney pled the law and demanded a second witness be produced in court against him; at that juncture his own writings were offered into evidence as "false seditious and traitorous libel". "An argument for the people" said the Solicitor General "to rise up in arms against the King". In response Sydney said that it was easy to condemn him by quoting his words out of context: "If you take the scripture to pieces you will make all the penmen of the scripture blasphemous; you may accuse David of saying there is no God and of the Apostles that they were drunk." But for the court to write such was to act. The republican aristocrat was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Neither denying nor affirming the charge of treason for which he had been condemned Sydney maintained republican faith to the end declaring on the scaffold: "We live in an age that makes truth pass for treason."

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