On the death of Henry de Vere, eighteenth Earl of Oxford, in 1626, a contest arose between Robert de Vere claiming as heir male of the family, and Lord Willoughby dEresby, claiming through a female, as heir-general to the late earl. The case, known as the Oxford Peerage Case, was referred by Charles I. to the House of Lords, who called in the judges to their assistance. The following magnificent burst of judicial eloquence occurs in the opinion of the lord chief-justice: I have labored to make a covenant with myself, that affection may not press upon judgment; for I suppose there is no man that hath any apprehension of gentry or nobleness, but his affection stands to the continuance of a house so illustrious, and would take hold of a twig or twine-thread to support it. And yet time hath his revolutions; there must be a period and an end to all temporal thingsfinis reruman end of names and dignities, and whatsoever is terrene; and why not of de Vere? For where is Bohun? Where is Mowbray? Where is Mortimer? Nay, which is more, and most of all, where is Plantagenet? They are entombed in the urns and sepulchres of mortality! yet let the name of de Vere stand so long as it pleaseth God.
Judgment was given for Robert de Vere; but, as he died without an heir male, his name was entombed with the others, until the title was called out of abeyance by Queen Anne, in favor of Robert Harley, claiming through a female.