Arthur Capel 1632-1683

From Book Owners Online

Arthur CAPEL or CAPELL, 1st Earl of Essex 1632-1683

Biographical Note

Son of Arthur Capel, Baron Capel, executed in 1649 for his royalist military activities. At the Restoration, he was made Earl of Essex and became actively involved in state affairs; he was sent as an ambassador to Denmark in 1669, and was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1672-77. Returning to London, he was made First Lord of the Treasury in 1679, but resigned soon afterwards. Increasingly concerned about the drift of national affairs, he was drawn into a conspiracy to form a republic, and after its discovery and his arrest he died in the Tower of London, probably murdered but made to look like suicide.


Capel built a fine house at Cassiobury, near Watford, where he assembled a large library, described by John Evelyn as “very nobly furnished, and all the books richly bound and gilded”. A catalogue of the library, made by William Stanley 1681-83, is now in the Grolier Club Library. It was inherited and augmented by Capel's son Algernon, 2nd Earl. A couple of books decorated with Capel's arms (one of them with the arms painted on) are recorded in the Armorials Database.