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Ferdinando, Fifth Earl of
Derby, 1593-1594
Ferdinando, the 5th Earl of Derby
Ferdinando was " of an exalted genius as well as birth," and during the absence of his father on
State business, discharged the duties, of the Lieutenancies of Lancashire and Cheshire with great
credit and ability,. When Lord Strange, he married (1579) Alice, the youngest daughter of Sir John
Spencer, of Althorpe. He was himself a poet and author, and enjoyed the society of the eminent men
of letters who have made the reign of Elizibeth famous. Spencer, the poet, personified Ferdindando
as "Amyntas," and his Countess as "Amaryllis." In 1610, a collection of English poems, entitled
"Belvedere; or the Garden of the Muses" was published, and Ferdinando's were included in that
work, but none of the poems bear the signature of the noble lord, and the identity is to a great
extent a matter of conjecture. The death of this
earl was a most mysterious one. A number of rebels, who had fled to foreign countries, sent over a
man named Richard Hackett to urge Earl Ferdinando to set up a claim to the crown of England by
right of his descent from Mary, the second daughter of Henry VII., and younger Sister to Henry VIII.,
at that time Queen Dowager of France, threatening that unless he undertook the project, and
conceal the messengers and instigators of it, he should shortly die in a most wretched manner ; but if
he complied, he might be assured of powerful assistance. Ferdinando rejected the proposition with
scorn and indignation but four months afterwards he was seized with a fearful illness and died in
great agony. There was no doubt he had been poisoned and his gentleman of horse was greatly
suspected of administering it, for on the same day that the earl was attacked, he fled on one of the
best horses, and was never heard of again. Ferdinando left three daughters, but no sons, and the
earldom naturally devolved upon his brother
William.
Leasowe Castle was
built for
Ferdinando, the
5th Earl of Derby
as a