Tag Archives: Sonnets

On this day in 1580 – William Herbert was born

William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, was born on 8th April 1580 to Henry Herbert and his third wife Mary Sidney.

Herbert had a very lively relationship history in his teens he was betrothed to Bridget de Vere, granddaughter of William Cecil. The annuity could not be agreed and so the couple never married. He moved on to Mary Fitton and got her pregnant. Herbert refused to marry Mary and as a result was sent to the Fleet prison. The child was still born and Herbert petitioned Sir Robert Cecil to be released. Herbert was freed but barred from the court. Herbert eventually married Lady Mary Talbot in 1604.

Herbert became the Chancellor of the University of Oxford and went on to found the Pembroke College at Oxford. Although barred from court for a short time he became the constable of St Briavels n 1608 and then in 1615 served as Lord Chamberlain to the Queen.

Herbert’s most lasting memory comes from William Shakespeare. Herbert was a patron of Shakespeare and is considered to be one of the candidates for Shakespeare’s ‘Fair Youth’ that Shakespeare urged to marry. Shakespeare dedicated his sonnets to Mr W.H. Many argue that this is Herbert although another candidate for the dedications was Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. When Shakespeare’s first folio was published in 1623 it came with the dedication to the “incomparable pair of brethren” of William Herbert and his brother Philip.

Herbert was a keen supporter of the arts and along with Shakespeare he was also patron for the likes of Ben Johnson, John Donne and George Herbert.

Herbert died on 10th April 1630 and was buried in Salisbury Cathedral.

William Herbert