John Herbert (Secretary of State)

John Herbert (Secretary of State)

Sir John Herbert (1550 – 9 July 1617) was a Welsh lawyer and diplomat, who was Secretary of State under Elizabeth I and James I.


Herbert (descended from an illegitimate son of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke) was an honorary member of the College of Advocates (1573), a commissioner of the High Court of Admiralty from 1575 to 1584 (with David Lewis) and Master of Requests from 1586 to 1601 (with William Aubrey from 1590). He represented various constituencies in Parliament, initially boroughs in England from 1586, before representing Glamorgan (1601) and Monmouthshire (1604–1611). He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Civil Law by the University of Oxford in 1587. He was a talented linguist (not just speaking English and Welsh) and so was used to interrogate foreign prisoners and on trade and political missions to Denmark, Poland, Brandenburg, the Netherlands and France. In April 1600, he was appointed second Secretary of State and a member of the Privy Council. He was knighted in 1602. He continued in office under James I, although James preferred to use unofficial secretaries such as Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke. When William Cecil, Lord Burghley died in 1610, Sir John hoped to succeed him as principal secretary of state, but James I left the office vacant until 1614. Herbert was thereafter Secretary of State in name only, and he died in Cardiff on 9 July 1617, having fought a duel with Sir Lewis Tresham two months earlier. [cite web|url=|title=Sir John Herbert|last=Dodd|first=Arthur Herbert|work=Welsh Biography Online|publisher=National Library of Wales|accessdate=2008-08-05]


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