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Sir Ralph Winwood
'SIR RALPH WINWOOD' v. 1563-1617), English politician, was born at Aynhoe in Northamptonshire and educated at St John's College, Oxford. In 1599 he became secretary to Sir Henry Neville (c. 1564-1615), the English ambassador in France, and he succeeded Neville in this position two years later, retaining it until 1603. In this year Winwood was sent to The Hague as agent to the States-General of the United Provinces, and according to custom he became a member of the Dutch council of state. His hearty dislike of Spain coloured all his actions in Holland; he was anxious to see a continuance of the war between Spain and the United Netherlands, and he expressed both his own views and those of the English government at the time when he wrote, "how convenient this war would be for the good of His Majesty's realms, if it might be maintained without his charge." In June 1608 Winwood signed the league between England and the United Provinces, and he was in Holland when the trouble over the succession to the duchies of Jiilich and Cleves threatened to cause a European war. In this matter he negotiated with the Protestant princes of Germany on behalf of James I. Having returned to England Sir Ralph became secretary of state in March 1614 and a member of parliament. In the House of Commons he defended the king's right to levy impositions, and other events of his secretaryship were the inquiry into the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury and the release of Raleigh in 1616. Raleigh was urged by Winwood to attack the Spanish fleet and the Spanish settlements in South America, and the secretary's share in this undertaking was the subject of complaints on the part of the representatives of Spain. IIa the midst of this he died in London on the 27th of October 1617: "It can hardly be doubted," says Gardiner, "that, if he had lived till the following summer, he would have shared in Raleigh's ruin." One of Winwood's daughters, Anne (d. 1643), married Edward Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu of Boughton, and their son was Ralph Montagu, 1st duke of Montagu.
Winwood's official correspondence and other papers passed to the duke of Montagu, and are now in the possession of the duke of Buccleuch. They are calendared in the Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission on the manuscripts of the duke of Buccleuch. See the Introduction to this Report (1899); and also S. R. Gardiner, History of England, vols. ii. and iii. (1904-1907).
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