Sir Geoffrey Fenton (1539 – 19 October 1608) the son of Henry Fenton and Cecily Baumont of Fenton Hall . This gentleman, whose name is scarcely known to his countrymen of Nottinghamshire, he not having received more than a passing notice from any of the historians of the county, may, nevertheless, be justly considered as one of the most illustrious of our local worthies. Sir Geoffrey served as secretary and privy counsellor for Ireland to Queen Elizabeth, and her successor, during the long period of twenty-seven years: he married Alice, daughter of Dr. Robert Weston, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and Dean of the Court of Arches in England; and enjoyed the warm friendship and patronage of Cecil, Lord Burleigh, the Earl of Leicester, and most of the distinguished statesmen of the day. The queen herself reposed the most entire confidence in his integrity and prudence; nor could his credit with her be shaken, even in the least degree, by any of those artifices which the envy or jealousy of his rivals led them to employ against him. It is to the lasting honour of Sir Geoffrey Fenton that he was ever solicitous to impress upon the mind of Elizabeth, and the government at home, that Ireland should be governed only by strict rules of justice, and a due regard to the temper and feelings of her people. The safety and glory of the queen’s government in that island, he never failed to maintain, was wholly dependant upon the Irish enjoying good and equal laws, and due protection for their property. He was thus the means of extinguishing in embryo more than one meditated rebellion, and, eventually, in effecting the settlement of the kingdom.
In addition to his talents as a statesman, Sir Geoffrey is entitled to the credit of being one of the most accomplished scholars of his age. He translated Guicciardini’s Wars of Italy, which he dedicated to Queen Elizabeth, 1579, and the Epistles of Guevarus, also from the Italian. He was the author of Certaine Tragical Discourses, written oute of the French and Latin, 4to., published in 1567, and reprinted in 1579. Warton, in speaking of this work, says, “In point of selection and size it is perhaps the most capital miscellany of the kind ever collected. Most of the tales are on Italian subjects.” Fenton likewise translated an account of a dispute at Paris, between two doctors of the Sorbonne, and two ministers of God’s Word, 1571; as also An Epistle, or Godly admonition, sent to the Pastors ofthe Flemish Church, in Antwerp, exhorting them to concord with other ministers, written by Anthony de Garro, 1578. To Ann, Countess of Oxenford, daughter of his great patron, he dedicated Golden Epistles, containing variety of Discourses, both moral, philosophical, and divine,gathered as well out of the remainder of Guevarus’ works, as other authors, Latin, French, and Italian, newly corrected and amended. “Mon heurevicndra,” 1577. The style of Fenton, like that of most of his contemporaries, is far superior to that of authors generally of the succeeding reign, and his works, like those of several other writers of the same period, have risen in value and estimation since the language of the Elizabethan era has been more studied. It is somewhat remarkable that the two brothers, Geoffrey and Edward Fenton, should each, in their respective walks of life, be among the first men of that great age of illustrious characters. In 1603, Sir Geoffrey had the happiness to see his only daughter, Katherine, united to the celebrated Richard Boyle, afterwards known as the great Earl of Cork, by whom she bare fourteen children, seven of whom were sons, and most of whom proved eminent and remarkable men, more especially the fifth and the seventh. The last named, being the fourteenth child and seventh son, was the learned and estimable Robert Boyle, one of the greatest philosophers and best of men of which his own or any other age can boast. Sir Geoffrey Fenton died at his house, in Cork, 1608, and was interred near his father-in-law, Lord Chancellor Weston, in the cathedral of Dublin, leaving behind him the reputation of an accomplished scholar, an able statesman, and the true friend alike of Ireland and England, though a firm supporter of the protestant faith and interest in the country where he spent the principal portion of his active manhood.