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GBEAT SEAL , .. 297 












THE Great Seal having been surrendered, as we have seen, 
by Cardinal \Volsey, into the hands of the Dukes of sept. 19, 
Norfolk and Suffolk, they delivered it to Taylor, the 1529 - 
Master of the Eolls, to carry to the King ; who, having him- 
self sealed certain letters patent with it, enclosed it in a bag 
under his own signet and under the seals of the Master of the 
Eolls and Stephen Gardyner, afterwards the famous Bishop of 
\Yinchester. a 

Considerable difficulty arose about the appointment of a 
new Chancellor. Some were for restoring the Great Seal to 
Ex-Chancellor Archbishop Warham ; and Erasmus states that 
he refused it ; b but there is reason to think that a positive 
resolution had been before taken by Henry and his present 
advisers, that it should not be again intrusted to any church- 

There was an individual designated to the office by the 
public voice. To give credit to the new administration, there 
was a strong desire to appoint him, for he was celebrated as a 
scholar in every part of Europe ; he had long practised with 
applause as a lawyer ; being called to Court, he had gained the 
highest credit there for his abilities and his manners ; and he 

Rot. Cl. 21 Hen. 8, m. 19. qui aura le sceau. Je croy bien qne tes prestres 

b Ep. p. 1347. n'y toiicheront pins, et que en ce parliament 

c On the 22nd October the Bishop of Ba- Us aurout de terriblas alarmes." 
yonne writes to his court, " On ne scait encore 

VOL. II. fl 


had been employed in several embassies abroad, which he had 
conducted with dexterity and success. The difficulty was that 
he had only the rank of a simple knight ; and there had been 
no instance hitherto of conferring the Great Seal on a layman 
who was not of noble birth, or had not previously gained 
reputation by high judicial office. In consequence there 
was a struggle in favour of the selection of one of the chiefs 
of the Common Law Courts at Westminster. But the hope 
that the person first proposed was the best fitted to ma- 
nage the still pending negotiation for the divorce, camo 
powerfully in aid of his claims on the score of genius, learn- 
ing, and virtue; and, on the 25th of October, in a Coun- 
cil held at Greenwich, the King delivered the Great Seal 
to Sir THOMAS MORE, and constituted him Lord Chancellor 
of England. d 

This extraordinary man, so interesting in his Life and in his 
death, was bom in the year 1480, near the end of the reign of 
Edward IV. He was the son of Sir John More, a Judge of the 
Court of King's Bench, who lived to see him Lord Chancellor. 
The father's descent is not known, but he was of "an honour- 
able though not distinguished family," and he was entitled to 
bear arms, a privilege which showed him to be of gentle blood, 
and of the class which in every other country except ours is 
considered noble. The old Judge was famous for a facetious 
turn, which he transmitted to his son. There is only one 
of his sayings handed down to us, and this, we must hope, was 
meant rather as a compliment to the good qualities of his own 
partner for life than as a satire on the fair sex. "He would 
compare the multitude of women which are to be chosen for 
wives unto a bag full of snakes, having among them a single 
eel : now, if a man should put his hand into this bag, he may 
chance to light on the eel ; but it is a hundred to one he shall 
be stung by a snake." 6 The future Chancellor sprung from 
that rank of life which is most favourable to mental cultivation, 
and which has produced the greatest number of eminent men 
in England ; for, while we have instances of gifted individuals 
overcoming the disadvantages of high birth and affluence as 
well as of obscurity and poverty, our Cecils and Walpoles, our 
Bacons and Mores, have mostly had good education and breed- 
ing under a father's care, with habits of frugality, and the 
necessity for industry, energy, and perseverance to gain dis- 
tinction in the world. 

* Rot. Cl. 21 Hen. , m. 19. Cwadcn's Remain* P 51. 


The lawyers in those days, both judges and barristers, lived 
in the City, and young More first saw the light in Milk Street, 
Cheapside, then a fashionable quarter of the metropolis. He 
received the early rudiments of his education at St. Anthony's 
school, in Threadneedle Street, a seminary which gained great 
and well-deserved repute, having produced Archbishop Heath, 
Archbishop ^Vhitgift, and many other eminent men. In his fif- 
teenth year, according to the custom of which we have seen 
various examples, he became a page in the family of Cardinal 
Morton. Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor under 
Henry VII. Here, along with sons of the best families in Eng- 
land, he waited at table, and was instructed in all learning and 
exercises. His lively parts soon attracted the notice of his 
master, who, though turned of eighty, and filling such dig- 
nified offices, still encouraged amusement, and had the sagacity 
to discover the extraordinary merit, and to foretell the future 
celebrity of his page. "For the Cardinal often would make 
trial of his present wit, especially at Christmas merriments, 
when having plays for his recreation, this youth would sud- 
denly step up among the players, and, never studying before 
upon the matter, make often a part of his own invention, 
which was so witty and so full of jests, that he alone made 
more sport than all the players besides ; for which his toward- 
liness. the Cardinal much delighted in him, and would often 
say of him, unto divers of the nobility who at sundry times 
dined with him, * This child here, waiting at the table, whosoever 
shall live to see it, icill prove a marvellous rare man.' " ' The youth- 
ful page was not behind in penetration of character, and duly 
appreciated the qualities of the wary courtier, who, the model 
for future Talleyrands, had continued to flourish amid all the 
vicissitudes of the state, and having united the Red and the 
White Eoses, still enjoyed without abatement the confidence 
of the founder of the House of Tudor. The historian of 
Richard III., drawing the character of Morton, says (no doubt 
from early recollections), " He was a man of great natural wit, 
very well learned, honourable in behaviour, lacking in no wise to 
icin favour " s 

But, by the kind advice of his patron, who had great care 
of his bringing up, and was afraid that he might not profit in 

f Here's Life, 19. Roper, 4. credible, eloqnent in speech, and, which is 

" In his Utopia he praises him more libe- more to be wished in clergymen, cf singular 

rally, bat still with a touch of satire, as " of wisdom and virtue." 

incomparable judgment, a memory more than 

B 2 


sound learning so much as might be desired amid the distrac- 
1496 tions of the archiepiscopal palace, he was removed 
to the University of Oxford. He lodged at New Hall, 
but studied at Canterbury College, afterwards Christ Church. 
He must now have led a very diiferent life from what he had 
enjoyed at Lambeth ; for, " in his allowance, his father kept 
him very short, suffering him scarcely to have so much money 
in his own custody as would pay for the mending of his appa- 
rel; and, for his expenses, he would expect of him a par- 
ticular account." h Though much pinched, and somewhat dis- 
satisfied at the time, he often spoke of this system with much 
praise when he came to riper years ; affirming, that he was 
thereby curbed from all vice, and withdrawn from gaming and 
naughty company. ' 

Here More remained above two years, devoting himself to 
study with the utmost assiduity and enthusiasm. Erasmus, 
invited to England by Lord Mountjoy, who had been his 
pupil at Paris, was now residing at Oxford, and assisting in 
spreading a taste for Greek literature recently introduced 
there by Grocyn, Linacre, and Collet, who had studied it in 
Italy under Politian and Chalcondylas. More and Erasmus, 
resembling each other in their genius, in their taste, in 
their acute observation of character and manners, in their 
lively sense of the ridiculous, in their constant hilarity, and 
in their devotion to classical lore, soon formed a close friend- 
ship which lasted through life without interruption or abate- 
ment, and which was fostered during absence by an epistolary 
correspondence still extant, affording to us the most striking 
sketches of the history and customs of the times in which they 

At the University, while More " profited exceedingly in 
rhetoric, logic, and philosophy," he likewise distinguished 
himself very much by the composition of poems, both Latin 
and English. Some of these are to be found in collections 
of his works ; and, though inferior to similar efforts in the 
succeeding age, they will be found interesting, not only 
as proofs of his extraordinary precocity, but as the exer- 
cises by which he became the earliest distinguished orator, 

h More's Life of Sir T. More, 18. "wherein most young men in these onr 

i His great grandson, who wrote in the lamentable days plunge themselves too 

reign of Charles I., more than two centuries timely, to the utter overthrow as well of 

ap, in describing how his ancestor when at learning as all future virtue." 
College escaped "play and riot," adds, 


and the earliest elegant prose-writer using the English lan- 

More had been destined by his father to wear the long robe ; 
And, having completed his course at Oxford, he was AA 14flg 
transferred to London, that he might apply to the study 
of the law. According to the practice then generally followed, 
he began at Xew Inn, "an Tnn of Chancery," where was acquired 
the learning of writs and procedure; and he afterwards belonged 
to Lincoln's Inn, "an Inn of Court," where were taught the 
more profound and abstruse branches of the science. With us 
a sufficient knowledge of jurisprudence is supposed to be 
gained by eating a certain number of dinners in the hal] 
of one of the Inns of Court, whereby men are often called to 
the bar wholly ignorant of their profession ; and, being pushed 
on by favour or accident, or native vigour of mind, they are 
sometimes placed in high judicial situations, having no ac- 
quaintance with law beyond what they may have picked up 
as practitioners at the bar. Then the Inns of Court and Chan- 
cery presented the discipline of a well-constituted University ; 
and, through Professors, under the name of " Eeaders," and 
exercises, under the name of " Mootings," law was systemati- 
cally taught, and efficient tests of proficiency were applied, 

j As a specimen I will give a few extracts Cnm toa perstringunt oculos duo sydera 

from that which is considered the most sue- nostros, 

cessful of his poetical effusions in Latin. It ^l^ 03 mtnlDt m "* oonl ' 
proceeds on the idea, that, become an old man, 

he sees again a lady whom he bad loved when Their flirtation was very marked : 

they were both very young, and who is still Com sociis risnm exhibmt nostrisqo* 

charming in his eyes. tuisque 

Tarn rudis et simplex et male tecrus 

Gratulatur quod earn repent incatumem ^^ 

qua olimferme puer amaitrat. 

" Vivis adhuc, primis 8 me mihi charior Xow comes the wtncy of his attach- 

annis, "O" 11 = 

Reddens atgneoculis Elizabeths meis: -Ergo ita disjnnctos diversmque fata 

Qua mala distinuit mihi te fortuna tot secutos 

uutos. Tot nnnc post hyemes reddidit isu 

Pene puer vidi, pene reviso senex. ^ e& 

Tempora quae teneras nunquam non Ista dies qua rara meo mihi latior sevo, 

invida forms Contigit accureu sospitis alma mi. 

Te rapuere tibi, non rapuere milu. Tn pn^data meo8 olim sine crimine 

He afterwards refers in towching language to T seusus, 

their first interriew, and gives a description ^^ DOn "^ crimine cbar * 
of her charms, after the fashion of the Song 

oi Solomon : Let it be remembered that these verses 

* Jam subit ilia dies quse ludentem obtulit were writt en in the middle of the reign of 

olim Henry VII., when the war of the Roses had 

Inter virgineos te mihi prima choros. almost extinguished in England the remem- 

Lactea cum flari decuerunt colla capilli, brance of Chaucer and no other poetical 

Cum pena par BiTikos visa, labella 


before the degree of barrister was conferred, entitling the 
aspirant to practise as an advocate. 

More so much distinguished himself, that he was early ap- 
pointed Header to Fumival's Inn, an Inn of Chancery, under 
the superintendence of Lincoln's Inn ; and there he delivered 
lectures, with great applause, for three years. 

It rather puzzles us to understand the nature of his next 
appearance in public. " After this, to his great com- 

A.D. 1500. r*- , , . , - -, f n P. 

mendation, he read tor a good space a public lecture 
of St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, in the church of St. Lawrence, 
in the Old Jewry ; whereunto there resorted Doctor Grocyn, 
an excellent cunning man, and all the chief learned of the city 
of London." k We cannot understand a parish church converted 
into a lecture-room ; and a young lawyer mounting the pulpit, 
and discoursing to a large congregation on things sacred and 
secular. It is said, that he did not so much discuss points of 
divinity, as moral philosophy and history. He was run after 
by the great, the learned, and the fashionable ; and Collet, his 
Oxford friend, now Dean of St. Paul's, and the future founder 
of St. Paul's School, was wont to say at this time, that " there 
was but one wit in England, and that was young Thomas 
More."" 1 

Though called to the degree of barrister, he had not begun 
to plead in Court. ; and he was now disposed for ever to re- 
nounce the pomp and vanity of the world, and to bury himself 
in a convent. His modern biographers very improperly shrink 
from this passage of his life ; for if it were discreditable to him 
(which it really is not), still it ought to be known, that we may 
justly appreciate his character. He was so transported with 
the glory of St. Augustine, and so enraptured with the plea- 
sures of piety, and so touched with the peace, regularity, and 
freedom from care of a monastic life, that he resolved to enter 
the order of St. Francis. But before taking the irrevocable 
vow of celibacy, shaving his crown, putting on the grey serge 
garment fastened by a twisted .rope, and walking barefoot in 
quest of alms, he prudently made an experiment how strict 
monastic discipline would permanently suit him. " He began 
to wear a sharp shirt of hair next his skin. He added also to 
his austerity a whip every Friday and high fasting days, think- 
ing that such cheer was the best alms that he could bestow 

k Roper, 16. frequent! ; nee puduit nee poenituit sacer 

m " Augustini libros de eivitate Dei publice dotes ac senes a juveue profano sacra discere, ' 
professus e, dhucpeneadolesceusauditorio Eras. Ep. 


upon himself. He used also much fasting and watching, lying 
often upon the bare ground or upon some bench, laying a log 
under his head, allotting himself but four or five hours in a 
night at the most for his sleep, imagining, with the holy saints 
of 'Christ's church, that his body was to be used as an ass, with 
strokes and hard fare, lest provender might pride it, and so 
bring his soul, like a headstrong jade, to the bottomless pit of 
hell." Q With this view he took a lodging close by the Carthu- 
sian monastery, now the site of the Charterhouse School, and as 
a lay brother practised all the austerities which prevail in this 
stern order. He found these after a time not edifying to his 
piety, and he, a rigid Eoman Catholic, doubted the advantages 
supposed to be conferred on religion by the monastic orders, 
which a certain section of professing Protestants are now so 
eager to re-establish. 

He then wished to become a priest ; and, as such, he might, 
according to received notions, have enjoyed, with little re- 
straint, all the pleasures of the world ; but he was too con- 
scientious to avail himself of licences or dispensations, or to 
consider custom an excuse for violating the engagements of 
the clerical state if he should enter into it. Finding that these 
would not permanently suit him, he resolved to marry, and, 
having returned to his profession, to exert all his energies in 
it, that he might rise to distinction and be able creditably to 
maintain his family. " God had allotted him for another state, 
not to live solitary but that he might be a pattern to re- 
verend married men how they should carefully bring up their 
children ; how dearly they should love their wives ; how they 
should employ their endeavours wholly for the good of their 
country, yet excellently perform the virtues of religious men, 
as piety, humility, obedience, yea conjugal chastity." v Owing 
to the tenderness of his nature, the sweetness of his disposi- 
tion, his equal flow of mirthful thoughts, as well as his habits 
of regularity and industry, he was singularly well adapted to 
domestic life ; and no one ever more exquisitely enjoyed its 

From his descendant we have the following curious account 

n More, p. 25. qneathed it to her cousin, Margaret Clements, 
Although Sir Thomas More thenceforth an Augustinian nun, at Louvain. There it 
renounced most of these austerities, he ap- remained till t'he French revolution, and it is 
pears to have worn a hair shirt next his skin now carefully preserved as a relic in a con- 
fer the rest of his life. A few days before his vent established at Spilsburg, near Blandford. 
execution he gave one which he had been p More, 26. " Maluit marirns esse casraa 
wearing to his daughter Margaret. She be- quam sacerdos impurus." Eras. Ep. 


of his courtship. " Sir Thomas having determined, by the ad- 
vice and direction of his ghostly father, to be a married man, 
there was at that time a pleasant conceited gentleman of an 
ancient family in Essex, one Mr. John Colt, of New Hall, that 
invited him unto his house, being much delighted in his com- 
pany, proffering unto him the choice of any of his daughters, 
who were young gentlewomen of very good cai'riage, good com- 
plexions, and very religiously inclined ; whose honest and 
sweet conversation and virtuous education enticed Sir Thomas 
not a little ; and although his affection most served him to the 
second, for that he thought her the fairest and best favoured, 
yet when he thought with himself that it would be a grief and 
some blemish to the eldest to have the younger sister preferred 
before her, he, out of a kind of compassion, settled his fancy 
upon the eldest, and soon after married her with all her friends' 
good liking."' 1 

Some have said that he selected a rustic girl whom he might 
fashion according to his own notions of female propriety ; r but 
the probability is, that he was exceedingly delighted to ex- 
change the company of the Carthusian brethren for that of 
the " Mistress Colts," having been long a stranger to female 
society ; that he preferred the conversation and manners of 
Jane, the eldest, although the second was a more showy beauty ; 
and that, although he had a good deal to teach his bride when 
he brought her to London, she was as well educated and 
accomplished as country squires' daiighters generally were in 
the beginning of the sixteenth century. 

There never was a happier union. He settled her in a 
house in Bucklersbury, where they lived in uninterrupted 
harmony and affection. 

He now applied himself with unremitted assiduity to the 
business of his profession, being stimulated, and cheered, and 
comforted, and rewarded by the smiles of his bride. When he 
was Lord High Chancellor, he must have looked back with a 
sigh to this portion of his career. He rose very rapidly at the 
bar, and was particularly famous for his skill in international 

It seems strange to us that he at the same time accepted and 
retained the office of under-sheriff of the city of London. This 

1 More, 39. adhuc utpote ruri inter parentcs ac sorores 

T This notion is an improvement on Eras- semper habitam, quo magis ilti liceret illam 

mug, who is silent on the sacrifice of inclina- ad suos mores fingere. Hanc et literis in- 

tion to compassion. " Virginem duxit ad- struendam curavit, et omni musices genere 

tuodum puellam, claro genere natam mdom doctam reddidit." Eras. Ep. 


office was then judicial, and of considerable dignity. I con- 
jecture that the under-sheriff, besides his other o 
duties, sat in the Court of the Lord Mayor and of 
the Sheriffs, in which causes of importance were then de- 
termined, and the jurisdiction of which, by the process of 
foreign attachment, was very extensive. Erasmus, after 
stating that Bis Court was held every Thursday, observes, 
that no judge of that Court ever went through more causes ; 
none decided them more uprightly, often remitting the 
fees to which he was entitled from the suitors. His de- 
portment in this capacity endeared him extremely to his fel- 

But he was now to make a figure in a new line. After an 
intermission of parliaments for about seven vears, 

,, -, . r , , . . c ,-, . ' ,. AJ). 1504. 

one was called in the beginning ot the year 1 oO-i, for 
the purpose of obtaining a subsidy on the marriage of Mar- 
garet, the King's eldest daughter, with James IV., King of 
Scots. More was returned to the House of Commons, "for 
many had now taken notice of his sufficiency ; ? ' and he is 
recorded as the first member of that assembly who gained 
celebrity by public speaking, and who, as a successful leader 
of opposition, incurred the enmity of the Court. Henry was 
entitled, according to the strictest feudal law, to a grant on 
this occasion ; ' but he thought it a favourable opportunity for 
gratifying his avarice, and he required a much greater sum 
than he intended to bestow upon the Scottish Queen. " "When 

Eras. Ep. Although Roper, himself a which he could not hold without resigning 
lawyer, distinctly narrates that his father-in- his under-sheriffship, for in case of a contro- 
law was tinder-sheriff, some, from an affected versy with the King about the privileges of 
regard for the dignity of the Chancellor, have the city, he might be deemed by his fellow- 
tried to deny that he held an office which citizens to be disabled by dependence on the 
would now be declined by an eminent solid- Crown from securely and manfully main- 
tor; but in his epitaph, prepared by himself, taining their rights. Morus Erasmo, 1516 
we find these words : " In urbe sua pro In the first edition of the Ctopia, printed at 
Shyrevo dixit ; " and an entry has been found Lonvain by Theodore Martin in 1516, the 
in the records of the Common Council, " that work is stated to be " Per clarissimum et 
Thomas More, gent., one of the tinder-sheriffs erudi tissimum Virum D. Thomam Mornm, 
of London, should occupy his office and Civem et Vice-comitem Londinensem," from 
chamber by a sufficient deputy during his which some have supposed that he had 
absence as the King's ambassador in Flan- reached the dignity of High Sheriff; but this 
ders." Edward Iradley, Attorney-General to designation must have proceeded from igno- 
Henry VII., was one of the under-sheriffs, ranee of the different degrees of ihrieral 
and Thomas Marrow, one of the greatest law- dignity in England. 

yers of his day, filled the office about the The King, like every feudal lord, conld 

same tune. More himself set the highest claim an aid to knight his eldest son, te 

value on this office ; for he informs Erasmus, marry his eldest daughter, or to redeem him- 

that, on his return from Flanders, he declined self frum captivity 
handsome pension offered him by the King, 


the consent of the Lower House was demanded to these impo- 
sitions, most of the rest either holding their peace or not 
daring to gainsay them, though they seemed unwilling, Sir 
Thomas, making a grave speech, pronounced such urgent argu- 
ments why these exactions were not to be granted, that there- 
upon all the King's demands were crossed, and his request 
denied ; so that Mr. Tyler, one of the King's Privy Chamber, 
went presently from the House, and told his Majesty that a 
beardless boy had disappointed him of all his expectations." u 
" Whereupon the King, conceiving great indignation towards 
him, could not be satisfied until he had some way revenged 
it." v 

According to the Tudor practice established in subsequent 
reigns, More ought to have been sent to the Tower for his pre- 
sumption ; but Henry had always a view to his Exchequer, 
" and forasmuch as he, nothing having, nothing could lose, his 
Grace devised a causeless quarrel against his father, keeping 
him in the Tower till he had made him pay to him a hundred 
pounds fine. Shortly hereupon it fortuned that Sir Thomas 
More coming in a suit to Dr. Fox, Bishop of Winchester, one 
of the King's Privy Council, the Bishop called him aside, and 
pretending great favour towards him, promised that if he would 
be ruled by*him he would not fail into the King's favour again 
to restore him, meaning, as it was afterwards conjectured, to 
cause him thereby to confess his offences against the King, 
whereby his Highness might with the better colour have occa- 
sion to revenge his displeasure against him ; but when he came 
from the Bishop he fell into communication with one Maister 
Whitforde, his familiar friend, then chaplain to that Bishop, 
and showed him what the Bishop had said, praying for his 
advice. Whitforde prayed him by the passion of God not to 
follow the counsel, for my Lord, to serve the King's turn, will 
not stick to agree to his own father's death. So Sir Thomas 
More returned to the Bishop no more." x To show that More 
acted wisely in not making confessions to the King in the hope 
of pardon, it is related that when Dudley was afterwards led to 
execution, along with Empson, meeting Sir Thomas More, he 
said to him, " Oh, More, More ! God was your good friend 

u More, 45. To add to the marvel of this Parliament Roll, that this parliament met on 

brilliant success in the House of Commons, the 16th of January, 1504, so that he was full 

More's biographers roundly assert that he twenty-four, and as old as William Pitt when 

was then only twenty-one years of age ; but Prime Minister of Great Britain. 
H appears from the Statute Book and the v Roper, 7. * Ibid. 8. 


that you did not ask the King forgiveness, as manie would 
have had you do, for if you had done so, perhaps you should 
have been in the like case with us now." 

Henry TIL continued to regard the young patriot with an 
evil eye, and watched for an opportunity of effectually 
wreaking his vengeance upon him, insomuch that " he 
was determined to have gone over sea, thinking that being in 
the King's indignation he could not live in England without 
great danger." y In the meanwhile he almost entirely withdrew 
from his practice at the bar, and devoted himself to study, " per- 
fecting himself in most of the liberal sciences, as music, arith- 
metic, geometry, and astronomy, and growing to be a perfect 
historian." 2 With a view to his foreign residence, " he studied 
the French tongue at home, sometimes recreating his tired 
spirits on the viol." a But while he was meditating exile, the 
death of the tyrant preserved him to his country. 



MORE hailed the commencement of the new reign in a Latin 
poem, which contained lines not only praising the April 22, 
good qualities of the youthful sovereign, but reflect- 1509 - 
ing with great bitterness on the oppression from which the 
nation had escaped : 

" Meta haec servitii est, haec libertatis origo, 

Tristitiae finis, lajtitiaeque caput. 
Nam juvenem secli decns memorabile nostri 

Ungit et in Regem pneficit ista tuuni. 
Regem qni cunctis lachrymas detergat ocellis, 

Gaudia pro longo substituat gemitiv. 
Omnia discussis airident pectora curis, 

Ut solet, excussa nube, nitere dies, 
Leges invalid* prius, imo nocere coacta, 

Nnnc vires gaudent obtinuisse suas. 
Non metus occulios insibilat aure susurros 

Nemo quod taceat, quodve susurret, habet." 

7 Boper, 9. * More, 47. Roper, 9. 


Little did the poet foresee that this was to be the most 
tyrannical and bloody reign in the annals of England, and that 
he himself was to be doomed to a cruel death by him whose 
clemency he celebrates. b 

Meanwhile, More resumed his profession, and rose in West- 
minster Hall to still greater eminence than he had before 
attained. " There was at that time in none of the Prince's 
Courts of the laws of this realm, any matter of importance in 
controversy wherein he was not with the one party of coun- 
sel." c "He now gained, without grief, not so little as 400?. 
by the year," an income which, considering the relative profits 
of the bar and the value of money, probably indicated as high 
a station as 10,000?. a year at the present day. 

He was ere long introduced to the young King and to 
Wolsey, now the prime favourite rising rapidly to greatness. 
They were both much pleased with him, and were desirous 
that he should give up the law for politics, and accept an 
office at Court, the Cardinal thinking that, from his retired 
habits and modest nature, he never could be dangerous as a 
rival. More long resisted these solicitations, truly thinking 
his situation as an eminent barrister more independent as well 
as more profitable. 

He was about this time engaged in a cause celebre, of which 
a circumstantial account has come down to us. A ship belong- 
ing to the Pope having been seized at Southampton, as forfeited 
to the Crown for a breach of the law of nations, the Pope's 
Nuncio at the Court of London instituted proceedings to obtain 
restitution, and retained More, "at which time there could 
none of our law be found so meet to be of counsel." 

The hearing was in the Star Chamber before the Chancellor, 
the Chief Justices, the Lord Treasurer, and other officers of 
state. To plead against the Crown before such a tribunal was 
rather an arduous task ; but More displayed great firmness and 
zeal, and, availing himself not only of his own learning, but of 
the authorities and arguments furnished to him by his client 
(himself a great civilian), he made such an unanswerable speech 
for his Holiness that the judgment was in his favour, and 
restitution was decreed. 

The King was present at the trial ; and to his credit be it 

b A poem on the union of the Red and not) : 

White Roses, entitled " DC utraque Rosa in "At qul tarn ferus est, ut non amet, ills 

nnum Coalita," written by him soon after, timebit. 

he thus prophetically concludes (whether Kempe etiamipinasjloslMlxt istesuas." 

through accident or second sight, I know c Roper, 9. 


spokeu, instead of being mortified by the loss of his prize, and 
offended with the counsel who had been pleading against 
him, he joined all the hearers in praising More for 4i his 
upright and commendable demeanor therein ; and for no en- 
treaty would henceforth be induced any longer to forbear his 
service." d 

In the early part of his reign, Henry Till, was one of the 
most popular Sovereigns that ever filled the throne of Eng- 
land, and deserved to be so ; for, beyond his fine person, his 
manly accomplishments, his agreeable manners, and the con- 
trast he presented to his predecessor, he showed a disposition 
to patronise merit wherever it could be found ; and his Court 
was the resort of the learned and the witty, as well as the high 
born and chivalrous. 

More still retained his office in the City, but was prevailed 
upon to give up his practice at the bar. He was 
made Master of the Bequests, knighted, and sworn of 
the Privy Council.' 

He now removed from Bucklersbury, and took up his resi- 
dence at Chelsea, in what might then be considered a country- 
house, which he built for himself, and where he amused 
himself with an extensive garden and a farm. To his inex- 
pressible grief, he had lost his first wife after she had brought 
him four children ; and he had entered into a second matrimo- 
nial union, not of sentiment but convenience, with Mrs. Alice 
Middleton, a widow lady, " of good years, and of no good 
favour or complexion." She was seven years older than him- 
self, and it is to be feared not always of the sweetest dis- 
position. " This he did because she might have care of his 
children ; and she proved a kind step-mother to them." Eras- 
mus, who was often an inmate in the family, speaks of her as 
a keen and watchful manager, with whom More lived on terms 
of as much respect and kindness as if she had been fair and 
young. " No husband ever gained so much obedience from a 
wife by authority and severity, as More by gentleness and 
pleasantry. Though verging on old age, and not of a yielding 
temper, he prevailed on her to take lessons on the lute, the 
cithara, the viol, the monochord, and the flute, which she daily 
practised to him." * 

Yet from some of their conjugal dialogues, recorded by 
members of the family, we are made to doubt whether the 

d Roper, 11. IMd. 13. f Eris- Kp. 


sweetness of tlieir intercourse was not occasionally flavoured 
with a little acid. He would say of her, " that she was penny- 
wise and pound-foolish, saving a candle's end and spoiling a 
velvet gown." She rated him for not being sufficiently ambi- 
tious ; and, because he had no mind to set himself forward in 
the world, saying to him, " Tillie vallie ! Tillie vallie ! Will 
you sit and make goslings in the ashes ? My mother hath often 
said unto me, it is better to rule than to be ruled." " Now, in 
truth," answered he, " that is truly said, good wife ; for I 
never found you yet willing to be ruled." g 

He had soon a very numerous household ; for, his daughters 
marrying, they and their husbands and their children all 
resided under his roof, and constituted one affectionate family ; 
which he governed with such gentleness and discretion that it 
was without broils or jealousies. 

The course of his domestic life is minutely described by 
eye-witnesses. " His custom was daily (besides his private 
prayers with his children) to say the seven psalms, the litany, 
and the suffrages following ; so was his guise with his wife 
and children, and household, nightly, before he went to bed ; 
to go to his chapel, and there on his knees ordinarily to say 
certain psalms and collects with them." h Says Erasmus, " You 
might imagine yourself in the academy of Plato. But I should 
do injustice to his house by comparing it to the academy of 
Plato, where numbers and geographical figures, and sometimes 
moral virtues, were the subjects of discussion; it would be 
more just to call it a school and exercise of the Christian reli- 
gion. All its inhabitants, male or female, applied their leisure 
to liberal studies and profitable reading, although piety was 
their first care. No wrangling, no angry word was heard in 
it ; no one was idle : every one did his duty with alacrity, and 
with a temperate cheerfulness." ' 

8 Rop. More. In the metrical inscription Some man hath both, 

which he wrote for his own monument, there But he can get none health ; 

is a laboured commendation of Alice, which "^> me ha t th , a1 ' th , ree . 


, t , , 

in tenderness is outweighed by one word ap- j ^"reeV b7no manner of 

piled to Jane, the beloved companion of his stealth. 

youth : To some she sendeth children, 

" Chara Thomas jacet hie Joanna useorcula Riches, wealth, 

Mori " Honour, worship, and reverence, all his 


On the other hand the following epigram. ut fa fhepincheth him 

which he composed after his second marriage, With a shrewd wife. 

bows a bitter feeling towards Alice as a Be content 

threw : With such reward as fortune hath you 

" Some man hath good, sent -" sir Tltomas More. 

But children hath he none ; h Roper. i Eras. Kp. 


But the most charming picture of More as a private man is 
carelessly sketched by himself in a hurried Latin letter to 
Peter Giles, his friend at Antwerp, lamenting the little time 
he could devote to literary composition : 

" For while in pleading, iii hearing, in deciding causes, or composing 
disputes as an arbitrator, in waiting on some men about business, and 
on others out of respect, the greatest part of the day is spent on other 
men's affairs, the remainder of it must be given to my family at home ; 
so that I can reserve no part to myself, that is, to study. I must 
gossip with my wife and chat with my children, and find something 
to say to my servants ; k for all these things I reckon a part of my busi- 
ness, unless I were to become a stranger in my own house ; for with 
whomsoever either nature or choice or chance has engaged a man in any 
relation of life, he must endeavour to make himself as acceptable to 
them as he possibly can. In such occupations as these, days, months, 
and years slip away. Indeed all the time which I can gain to myself 
is that which I steal from my sleep and my meals, and because that is 
not much I have made but a slow progress." m 

His time was now more than ever broke in upon by visits 
from distinguished foreigners, who were eager to see him from 
his great reputation abroad, and whose opinion of him he still 
farther exalted by the charms of his manner and conversation. 

To his great grief he was often obliged to lodge in the 
palace, and his favour with the King and the Court threatened 
utterly to interfere with all his domestic enjoyments, and to 
ruin his literary projects. " The King's custom was, upon 
holydays, when he had done his own devotions, to send for 
Sir Thomas into his traverse, and there, sometimes in matters 
of astronomy, geometry, and divinity, and such other faculties, 
to sit and confer with him ; otherwhiles also, in the clear night, 
he would have him walk with him on the leads, there to dis- 
course with him of the diversity of the courses, motions, and 
operations of the stars ; and, because he was of a very pleasant 
disposition, it pleased his Majesty and the Queen, after the 
council had supped, commonly to call for him to hear his 
pleasant jests." There was no remedy but to be dull. 
" When Sir Thomas perceived his pleasant conceits so much 
to delight them that he could scarce once in a month get leave 
to go home to his wife and children, and that he could not be 
two days absent from the Court but he must be sent for again, 

k He curiously adapted his conversation to cum liberis, coUoqnendnm cum ministris, 
the different members of his establishment. &c. 
' Cnm nsore fabulandum est, garrisndum m Moms Aegedio. 


he much misliking this restraint of his liberty, began therefore 
to dissemble his mirth, and so little by little to disuse himself, 
that he from thenceforth at such seasons was no more so ordi- 
narily sent for." n 

In spite of all these distractions he not only most creditably 
performed all his public duties, but wrote works which gained 
the highest degree of celebrity in his own time, and are now 
interesting and instructive. 

Between the years 1514 and 1523 More was repeatedly em- 
ployed on embassies to the Low Countries, chiefly to settle 
disputes about trade and to negotiate commercial treaties, an 
employment which he seems particularly to have disliked. 
On the first occasion he was consoled for a long detention at 
Bruges by the company of his colleague, Tunstal, then Master 
of the Eolls, and afterwards Bishop of Durham, whom he cele- 
brates as one not only fraught with all learning, and sincere in 
his life and morals, but inferior to no man as a delightful com- 
panion. Subsequently he had no one associated with him ; 
and although he was pleased to meet the friends of Erasmus, 
and was struck by the wealth and civilization he saw among 
the Flemings, he longed much for the repose of his retreat at 
Chelsea, and for the embraces of his children. 

He was much annoyed by being stationed a long time at 
Calais, a place from which negotiations could be conveniently 
carried on with the Continental states. On this occasion 
Erasmus writes to Peter Giles, their common friend, " More is 
still at Calais, of which he is heartily tired. He lives at great 
expense, and is engaged in business most odious to him. Such 
are the rewards reserved by kings for their favourites." 
Afterwards More himself writes to Erasmus : " I approve your 
determination never to be engaged in the busy trifling of 
princes ; from which, as you love me, you must wish that I 
were extricated. You cannot imagine how painfully I feel 
myself plunged in them, for nothing can be more odious to me 
than this legation. I am here banished to a petty seaport, of 
which the air and the earth are equally disagreeable to me. 
Abhorrent as I am by nature from strife, even when it is pro- 
fitable, as at home, you may judge how wearisome it is here, 
where it actually causes a loss to me." He must have been 
much relieved by the agreeable society of Wolsey, who crossed 
the Channel, for a short time, to superintend the King's 
negotiations and his own. 

n More. Eras. Kp. 


In 1519 he was reluctantly obliged to resign his favourite 
office of under-sheriff, the City being tired of giving AJ> igi9 
him leave of absence when he went upon the King's 
business; but in 1521 he was rewarded with the 
office of Treasurer of the Exchequer, which was of consider- 
able profit as well as dignity. 1 " 

The next step in More's advancement was the chair of the 
House of Commons. The great, or rather the only, 
object of calling the Parliament which met in April, 
1523, being to obtain money, some management was thought 
necessary to provide against the parsimonious turn always 
shown by the representatives of the people ; for, though gene- 
rally willing to comply with any other demand of the Crown, 
when their pockets were touched, they were stern and reso- 
lute, granting only moderate and temporary supplies. 9 A good 
deal depended on the Speaker, who not only exercised influence 
over the assembly as president, but himself was in the habit of 
taking an active part in the discussions. Although the choice 
of Speaker was nominally with the Commons themselves, in 
reality it was dictated by the Court ; and on this occasion Sir 
Thomas More was selected from his great fame and popularity, 
and from his having hitherto co-operated in the administration 
of \Volsey. as yet not liable to much exception, and from the 
dread of his again acting the part of a popular leader. The 
Commons were much gratified by the recommendation, and 
joyfully presented their favourite as their Speaker to the King 
sitting on his throne in the House of Lords. 

More disqualified himself, referring to the story of Phonnio 
the philosopher, " who desired Hannibal to come to his 
lectures, which when he consented to and came, Phonnio 
began to read De Re Mihtari of chivalry ; but as soon as Han- 
nibal heard this, he called the philosopher an arrogant fool to 
presume to teach him who was already master of chivalry and 
all the arts of war." " So," says Sir Thomas, " if I should pre- 
sume to speak before his Majesty of learning and the well 

P This appointment gave great satisfaction was made Master of Requests, 
to all More's friends. Erasmus, writing to 1 To this stinginess of the Commons we 

Budaus, says, " Est quod Moro gratuleris, must ascribe the liberties of England ; for 

nam Rex ilium nee ambientem nee flagitan- large and permanent grants would have led 

tern munere magnifico honesUvit, addito to the disuse of national assemblies in this 

salario nequaquam penitendo, est enim prin- island, as well as on the Continent of Europe, 

ctpi suo a thesauris."' He adds, " Xec hoc Except tie Custom*, no permanent tax was 

coatentus, equitis aurati dignitatem adjecit." imposed before the middle of the seventeenth 

But Roper, who could not be mistaken, states century, 
that he was knighted within a mouth after he 



ordering of the government, or such like matters, the King, 
who is so deeply learned, such a master of prudence and ex- 
perience, might say to me as Hannibal to Phormio." Where- 
fore he humbly besought his Majesty to order the Commons to 
choose another Speaker. 

To this the Chancellor, by the King's command, replied that 
" His Majesty, by long experience of his service, was well 
acquainted with his wit, learning, and discretion, and that 
therefore he thought the Commons had chosen the fittest per- 
son of them all to be their Speaker." r 

More then delivered a prepared speech, which was published 
by his son-in-law, as is supposed from the original MS., and 
which is curious as an authentic specimen of the state of the 
English language in the beginning of the 16th century, and of 
the taste in oratory which then prevailed : 

" Sith I perceive, most redoubted Sovereign, that it standeth not with 
your pleasure to reform this election, and cause it to be changed, but 
have, by the mouth of the most reverend father in God, the Legate, 
your Highness's Chancellor, thereunto given your most royal assent, and 
have of your benignity determined far above that I may bear for this 
office to repute me meet, rather than that you should seem to impute 
unto your Commons that they had unmeetly chosen, I am ready obe- 
diently to conform myself to the accomplishment of your Highness's 
pleasure and commandment." 

Having begged a favourable construction on all his own 
words and actions, he apologises for the rusticity of the Com- 
mons, and prays privilege of speech. He says that great care 
had been taken to elect discreet men according to the exigency 
of the writs, and thus proceeds : 

" Whereby it is not to be doubted but that there is a very substantial 
assembly of right wise, meet, and politique persons ; yet, most preco- 
cious Prince, sith among so many wise men, neither is every man wise 
alike, nor among so many alike well witted, every man well spoken ; 
and it often happeth that as much folly is uttered with jointed 
polished speech, so many boisterous and rude in language give right 
substantial counsel ; and sith also in matters of great importance the 
mind is often so occupied in the matter that a man rather studieth what 
to say than how ; by reason whereof the wisest man and best speaker in 
a whole country fortuneth, when his mind is fervent in the matter, 
somewhat to speak in such wise as he would afterwards wish to have 
been uttered otherwise, and yet no worse will had >vhen he spake it, 

1 rarl. Hisl. 436. 


than he had when he would so gladly change it. Therefore, most 
generous Sovereign, considering that in your high court of parliament is 
nothing treated but matter of weight and importance concerning your 
realm and your own royal estate, it could not fail to put to silence from 
the giving of their advice and counsel many of your discreet Commons, 
to the great hindrance of your common affairs, unless every one of your 
Commons were utterly discharged of all doubt and fear how anything 
that it should happen them to speak should happen of your Highness to 
be taken. And in this point, though your well known and proved 
benignity putteth every man in good hope, yet such is the weight of the 
matter, such is the reverend dread that the timorous hearts of your 
natural subjects conceive towards your Highness our most redoubted 
Kins and undoubted Sovereign, that they cannot in this point find 
themselves satisfied, except your gracious bounty therein declared put 
away the scruple of their timorous minds, and put them out of doubt. 
It may therefore like your most abundant Grace to give to all your 
Commons here assembled, your most gracious licence and pardon freely, 
without doubt of your dreadful displeasure, every man to discharge his 
conscience, and boldly in everything incident among us to declare his 
advice ; and whatsoever happeneth any man to say, that it may like 
your noble Majesty, of your inestimable goodness, to take all in good 
part, interpreting every man's words, how uncunningly however they 
may be couched, to proceed yet of good zeal towards the profit of your 
realm and honour of your royal person ; and the prosperous estate and 
preservation whereof, most excellent Sovereign, is the thing which we 
all, your Majesty's humble, loving subjects, according to the most 
bounden duty of our natural allegiance, most highly desire and prav 
for." ' 

This address has been blamed for servility ; but the epithets 
applied to the King are merely in conformity to the established 
usage of the times, and in pleading for the necessity of liberty 
of speech More shows considerable boldness, while he indulges 
in a few sarcasms on the country squires over whom he was to 

To please him still more, and to ensure his services in the 
subsidy, Judge More, his father, in spite of very advanced age, 
was named in the Lords one of the " Triers of Petitions for 
Gascogny," an office which is still filled up at the commence- 
ment of every parliament, and which, although become a sine- 
cure, was then supposed to confer great dignity. 

We have seen in the life of "VVolsey ' the independent spirit 
which, in spite of these blandishments, in a few days after. 
More displayed ; and the noble stand he made for the privi- 
leges of the House of Commons. A reasonable supply, consti- 

Roper. 13. ' Ante, vol. i., p. 408, 403. 

c 2 


tutionally asked, he was willing to have supported ; but the 
extortionate demand which Wolsey thought, by his personal 
Appearance in the House, surrounded by all his pageantry, 
iolently to enforce, was dexterously resisted, to the disgrace 
and ridicule of the chief actor in the scene. Well might the 
wish have been entertained, " that More had been at Koine 

Neil he was made Speaker." u 

Wolsey, who, according to Erasmus, had " rather feared 
than loved More," after this time became seriously jealous 
of him as a rival;" and meditating a refined vengeance, 
attempted to banish him to Spain under the title of am- 
bassador, with strong professions of admiration for the 
learning and wisdom of the proposed diplomatist, arid his 
peculiar fitness for a conciliatory adjustment of the difficult 
matters which were at issue between the King and his kinsman 
the Emperor. The overture being made to More, he imme- 
diately perceived the artifice of it ; but resisted it on the alle- 
gation that the Spanish climate would be fatal to his constitu- 
tion, beseeching Henry " not to send a faithful servant to his 
grave." It is believed that the King saw into Wolsey's motives, 
and wished to have near him a man whom he destined, at 
some future period, to become his chief minister. He kindly 
answered, therefore, " It is not our meaning, Mr. More, to do 
you any hurt, but to do you good we should be glad. We 
shall, therefore, employ you otherwise." y 

He continued in great favour with the King ; and, in the 
end of the year 1525, on the death of Sir E. Wingfield, 
he was appointed Chancellor <.f the Duchy of Lan- 
caster, an office illustrated by distinguished lawyers and states- 
men down to our own time, z and which More continued to 
hold till he received the Great Seal of England. 

As he was reluctant to visit the Palace, and seemed not quite 
happy when he was there, "the King would, on a sudden, 
come over to his house at Chelsea, and be merry with him 
even dining with him without previous invitation or notice." 

" Roper. 20. y Roper, 21. 

* More has been censured for having, while z Beit remembered that I wrote the toxt 

comparatively obscure, flattered the great in the year 1843, before I held, and when I 

man ; but I think without reason, as he con- little expected ever to hold, this office. Note 

fiueii his commendation to Wolsey's love of to Third Edition, 1848. When Lord John 

fanning and patronage of the learned. Russell offered to make me Chancellor of the 

Thus Duchy of Lancaster, I hesitated ; but he over- 

Unice doctornm pater ac patrone viro- " m ? ^^If^SC Rem ' ber th 
nlm office has been held by Sir Thomas More and 

Pieridum pendet cujus ab ore chorus." by Dunning." Note to Fourth Edition, 1856. 


On such occasions, from a true sense of hospitality. More did 
his best to entertain his royal guest, and put forth all his 
powers of pleasing. Koper particularly celebrates one of these 
visits, when the King was so much delighted with his conver- 
sation that, after dinner, he walked with him in the garden by 
the space of an hour, holding his arm about his neck. As sooii 
as his Majesty was gone, Eoper congratulated his father-in-law 
on the distinguished honour that had been paid to him ; 
saying, ' how happy must he be with whom the King was so 
lovingly familiar, the like of which had never been seen before 
except once, when he walked arm in arm with Cardinal AVol- 
sey." " I thank our Lord," quoth he, " I find his Grace my 
very good Lord indeed ; and I believe he doth as singularly 
favour me as any subject within this realm. Howbeit, son 
Roper, I may tell thee I have no cause to be proud thereof ; 
for if my head would win him a castle in France, it should not 
fail to go." a 

This authentic anecdote shows in a very striking manner 
how More had early penetrated the intense selfishness, levity, 
heartlessness, and insensibility to remorse which constituted 
the character of the King, while these bad qualities were yet 
disguised by a covering of affability, hilarity, and apparent 
good humour, and before they had shed the blood of a wife or 
a friend. The world could little anticipate that Henry would 
actually one day cut off More's head, even without any such 
substantial advantage as the winning of a castle. For the 
present his Majesty delighted to honour him. 

On account of his facetiousness and his learning he was 
generally obliged to attend the Court in the royal progresses, 
and at Oxford and Cambridge he was always the person ap- 
pointed to answer the Latin addresses to the King by the 
University orators. Attending Henry to France, he was 
employed to make the speech of congratulation when the 
English and French monarchs embraced. So, when the Em- 
peror landed in England, More welcomed him in the King's 
name with such eloqtience and grace, as to call forth the ad- 
miration of Charles as well as of all his Flemish and Spanish 

More's European reputation was now at its height. He had 
published his " Epigrams," his " Utopia." and his " Refutation 
of the Lutherans/' all of which had been frequently reprinted 
in Germany and France. He carried on an epistolary corre- 

a Roper, 22. 


spondence with all the most celebrated foreign literati, and he 
had spread his fame in a way of which we can now have but 
an imperfect notion, by academical disputations. Visit n ; 
every university Avhich he approached in his travels, " he 
would learnedly dispute among them, to the great admiration 
of the auditory." On one occasion, when at Bruges, he gained 
no small applause by putting down an arrogant pedant, Avho 
published a universal challenge to dispute with any person 
" in ornni scibili et de quolibet ente." The Englishman who 
studied at Lincoln's Inn, proposed the question An averia 
carucce capta in vetito namio sint irreplegibilia ? "This Thraso or 
braggadocio not so much as understanding those terms of our 
common law, knew not what to answer to it, and so he was 
made a laughing-stock to the whole city for his presumptuous 

Now began the controversy about the King's divorce, 
which entirely changed the aspect of affairs, both civil and 
ecclesiastical, in England, and had a lasting effect upon the 
destinies of the nation. More lies under the suspicion of 
some dissimulation or culpable concealment of his sentiments 
upon this subject. When consulted by Henry respecting the 
legality of his marriage with his brother's widow, he said it 
was a question only fit for theologians, and referring him to 
the writings of St. Augustine and other luminaries of the 
Western Church, never would give any explicit opinion from 
himself. It is possible that, unconsciously to himself, More 
dissembled from prudence or ambition, and that he cherished 
a secret hope of farther advancement, which woxild have been 
extinguished by a blunt opposition to the royal inclination ; 
but it is likewise possible that he sincerely doubted on a ques- 
tion which divided the learned world, and we are not hastily 
to draw inferences against him from his subsequent condem- 
nation of the King's union with Anne Boleyn before his mar- 
riage with Catherine had been canonically dissolved according 
to the rules of the Romish Church, which he most potently 
believed to be binding on all Christians. 

While the suit for the divorce was going on at Rome through 
negotiations with Clement, and before the Legatine Court 

b 3 Black. Cora. 148. He then goes on to compare Catherine to 

c In bis gratulatory verses on the King's Penelope, Cornelia, nnd the most, mtritorious 

acression, he had pronounced this marriage to matrons of antiqnily, showing that she ex- 

Iv ni'ist auspicious: celled tbemalL 
"Conjugio, super! qui.rt docrrvere benignl, 
Quo tibi.quoque lui consiiliu-re bcne." 


opened its sittings after the arrival of Campeggio, More ap- 
pears to have observed a strict neutrality, and he enjoyed the 
confidence of both parties. Queen Catherine said, " The 
King had but one sound councillor in his kingdom, Sir Thomas 
More ; and as for Cardinal "NVolsey, then the greatest subject 
in the realm, for his own benefit or end he cared not what 
counsel he gave." On the other hand, the Duke of Norfolk, 
the uncle of Anne Boleyn, the Earl of ^Yiltshire, her father, 
and Anne herself, who now secretly directed the King's coun- 
cils, had great hopes of bringing More into their designs as an 
active partisan, and intended that he should be the successor 
to Wolsey, whom they doomed to destruction if the divorce 
was not speedily pronounced. 

The Chancellor of the Duchy was still very submissive to 
the Lord High Chancellor; but we have an account of a 
scene at the council-board about this time, which proves that 
there was "no love lost between them." The Cardinal showed 
Sir Thomas the draught of a treaty with a foreign power, 
asking his opinion of it, and pressing him so heartily to say 
" whether there were any thing therein to be misliked," that 
he believed there was a desire to hear the truth, and pointed 
out some great faults committed in it. Whereupon the Car- 
dinal, starting up in a rage, exclaimed, " By the Mass, thou 
art the veriest fool of all the Council ! " at which Sir Thomas, 
smiling, said, " God be thanked, the King our Master hath 
but one fool in his Council." 

Nevertheless, being again associated with Tunstal, now 
Bishop of Durham, he was sent Ambassador to Cambray to 
treat of a general peace between England, France, and the 
extensive states ruled over by Charles V. In this his last 
foreign mission he was supposed to have displayed the highest 
diplomatic skill, and "he so worthily handled himself, that 
he procured far more benefits unto this realm than by the 
King or the Council had been thought possible to be com- 
passed." d During his stay abroad he became very homesick, 
but wrote thus merrily to Erasmus : " I do not like my office 
of an ambassador ; it doth not suit a married man thus to leave 
his family : it is much fitter for you ecclesiastics, who have 
no wives and children at home, or who Jind them wheresoever 
you go" e 

Soon after his return he paid a visit to the King at Wood- 
's Roper, 36. domi non habetis aut ttbiqiie reperitit." Ep 
* "Qui primtun mores ac liberos aut 227. 


stock, where lie heard of the great misfortune that the principal 
A D 1529 P ar ^ ^ n * s nause a t Chelsea, and all his outhouses and 
barns filled with corn, had been consumed by a fire, 
raised by the negligence of a neighbour' s servant. The letter he 
wrote to his old wife on this occasion excites our admiration of 
him more than all his learned works, his public despatches, or 
his speeches in parliament. I must likewise observe, that for 
style it is much better and much nearer the English of the 
present day than the elaborate compositions which he wrote 
for publication. But besides the delightful glance that it gives 
of the manners and customs of private life in a remote age, 
its great charm will be found in the unaffected piety, in the 
gaiety of heart, and in the kindness of disposition which it 
evinces : 

" MISTRESS ALYCE, In my most harty will, I recommend me to you. 
And whereas I am enfourmed by my son Heron of the loss of our 
barnes, and our neighbours also, w l all the corne that was therein, albeit 
(saving God's pleasure) it is gret pitie of so, much good corne lost, yet 
sith it hath liked hym to send us such a chance, we must not only be 
content, but also be glad of his visitation. He sent us all that we have 
lost : and sith he hath by such a chance taken it away againe, his plea- 
sure be fulfilled. Let us never grudge thereat, but take it in good worth, 
and hartely thank him, as well for adversitie, as for prosperitie. And 
par adventure we have more cause to thank him for our losse, than for 
our winning. For his wisedom better seeth what is good for us than we 
do ourselves. Therefore I pray you be of good cheere, and take all the 
howsold with you to church, and there thank God both for that he hath 
given us, and for that he hath left us, which if it please hym, he can in- 
crease when he will. And if it please him to leave us yet lesse, at hys 
pleasure be it. I praye you to make some good ensearche what my poor 
neighbours have loste, and bidde them take no thought therefore, and if 
I shold not leave myself a spone, there shall no poore neighbour of mine 
bere no losse by any chance happened in my house. I pray you be with 
my children and household mery in God. And devise somewhat with 
your friends, what way wer best to take, for provision to be made for 
come for our household and for sede thys yere coming, if ye thinke it 
good that we keepe the ground still in our handes. And whether ye 
think it good y* we so shall do or not, yet I think it were not best 
sodenlye thus to leave it all up, and to put away our folk of our farme, 
till we have somewhat advised us thereon. Howbeit if we have more 
nowe than ye shall neede, and which can get the other maistcr's, ye may 
then discharge us of them. But I would not that any man wer sodenly 
seat away he wote nere wether. At my coming hither, 1 perceived none 
other, but that I shold tary still with the kinges grace. But now J shall 
(I think), because of this chance, get leave this next weke to come IKUUO 
and se you ; and then shall we further devise together uppou all thinges, 


what order shall be best to take ; and thus as hartely fare you well with 
all our children as you can wishe. At Woodstok the thirde daye of 
Septembre, by the hand of 

" Your loving husband, 

" THOMAS MOBE, Knight." 

The Court was now sojourning at Woodstock after its 
return from Grafton, where Henry had taken his final leave of 
\\olsey.' More having rendered an account of his embassy 
was allowed to visit his family at Chelsea, and Henry, with 
the Lady Anne, first moved to Eichmond, and then to Green- 
wich, where, as we have seen, WoLsey being deprived of 
the Great Seal and banished to Esher, the new arrangements 
were completed, and Sir THOU AS MORE was sworn in Loid 
Chancellor. 8 



THE merit of the new Lord Chancellor was universally ac- 
knowledged, and \\olsey himself admitted k ' that he Oct 15 ., 9 
was the fittest man to be his successor;" 11 but there 
was a great apprehension lest, having no ecclesiastical dignity, 
no crosses to carry before him, no hereditary rank, and no judi- 
cial reputation beyond what he had acquired when under- 
sheriff of London, from the prejudices of the vulgar, the 
office might be considered lowered in dignity after being held 
by a Cardinal-Archbishop, the Pope's Legate, and prime 
minister of the Crown. 

To guard against this impression, a very splendid pageant 

f Ante, vol. i., p. 417. Ante, p. 2. But \e't a Earned man. May he 

h Shakspeare has rather lowered the terms continue 

of the compliment, although he makes the ***& P is Highness' favour, and do 

Cardinal behave very gracefully when he Fof t ?vT sake, and his conscience; 
hears of the new appointment. that bis t^nes, 

" Crvm. Sir Thomas More When he has run his course, and sleeps 

is chosen in blessings, 

LorM Chancellor in your place." May have a tomb of orphans' tears wept 
Woli. That's on "em." 

somewhat sudden : Henry VIII. act iii. scene 2. 


was got up for More's installation. The procession was headed 
by the Duke of Norfolk, the first Peer in the realm, and the 
Duke of Suffolk, the King's brother-in-law, all the nobility 
and courtiers in and near London, and all the judges and pro- 
fessors of the law following. 

When they had reached Palace Yard, the new Chancellor, in 
his robes, was led between the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk 
up Westminster Hall to the Stone Chamber, at the south-west 
comer of it, where were the marble table and marble chair, 
and there being placed in the high judgment seat of Chan- 
cellor, the Duke of Norfolk, by the command of the King, 
spoke thus unto the people there with great applause and joy 
gathered together : 

'" The King's Majesty (which I pray God may prove happy and fortu- 
nate to the whole realm of England) hath raised to the most high dignity 
of Chancellorship Sir Thomas More, a man for his extraordinary' worth 
and sufficiency well known to himself and the whole realm, for no other 
cause or earthly respect, but for that he hath plainly perceived all the 
gifts of nature and grace to be heaped upon him, which either the people 
could desire, or himself wish for the discharge of so great an office. For 
the admirable wisdom, integrity, and innocency, joined with most plea- 
sant facility of wit, that this man is endued withal, have been sufficiently 
known to all Englishmen from his youth, and for these many years also 
to the King's majesty himself. This hath the King abundantly found 
in many and weighty affairs, which he hath happily despatched both at 
home and abroad ; in divers offices, which he hath borne in most honour- 
able embassages, which he hath undergone, and in his daily counsel and 
advices upon all other occasions. He hath perceived no man in his 
realm to be more wise in deliberating, more sincere in opening to him 
what he thought, nor more eloquent to adorn the matter which he uttered. 
Wherefore because he saw in him such excellent endowments, and that 
of his especial care he hath a particular desire that his kingdom and 
people might be governed with all equity and justice, integrity and 
wisdom : he of his own most gracious disposition hath created this 
singular man Lord Chancellor ; that by his laudable performance of this 
office, his people may enjoy peace and justice, and honour also and fame 
may redound to the whole kingdom. It may perhaps seem to many a 
strange and unusual matter, that this dignity should be bestowed upon 
a lay-man, none of the nobility, and one that hath wife and children ; 
because heretofore none but singular learned prelates, or men of greatest 
nobility, have possessed this place ; but what is wanting in these re- 
spects, the admirable virtues, the matchless gifts of wit and wisdom of 
this man doth most plentifully recompense the same. For the King's 
majesty hath not regarded how great, but what a man he was : he hath 
not cast his eyes upon the nobility of his blood, but on the worth of his 
person ; he hath respected his sufficiency, not his profession ; finally he 


would show by this his choice, that he hath some rare subjects amongst 
the gentlemen and lay-men, who deserve to manage the highest offices 
of the realm, which bishops and noblemen think they only can deserve : 
which the rarer it is, so much he thought it would be to you the more 
acceptable, and to the whole kingdom most grateful. Wherefore receive 
this your Chancellor with joyful acclamations, at whose hands you may 
expect all happiness and content." 

" Sir Thomas More," says his great-grandson, " according to 
his wonted modesty, was somewhat abashed at this the Duke's 
speech, in that it sounded so ranch to his praise ; but recol- 
lecting himself as that place and time would give him leave, 
he answered in this sort : 

" Although, most noble Duke, and you right honourable Lords, and 
worshipful gentlemen, 1 know all these things which the King's majesty, 
it seemeth, hath been pleased should be spoken of me at this time and 
place, and your Grace hath, with most eloquent words, thus amplified, are 
as far from me as I could wish with all my heart they were in me for 
the better performance of so great a charge : and although this your 
speech hath caused in me greater fear than I can well express in words, 
yet this incomparable favour of my dread Sovereign, by which he showeth 
how well, yea how highly he conceiveth of my weakness, having com- 
manded that my meanness should be so greatly commended, cannot be 
but most acceptable irnto me ; and I cannot chuse but give your most 
noble Grace exceeding thanks, that what his Majesty hath willed you 
briefly to utter, you of the abundance of your love unto me have, in a 
large and eloquent oration, dilated. As for myself, I can take it no other- 
wise but that his Majesty's incomparable favour towards me, the good 
will and incredible propension of his royal mind (wherewith he hath 
these many years favoured me continually) hath alone, without any de- 
sert of mine at all, caused both this my new honour, and these your un- 
deserved commendations of me ; for who am I, or what is the house of 
my father, that the King's highness should heap upon me, by such a 
perpetual stream of affection, these so high honours ? I am far less than 
any the meanest of his benefits bestowed on me ; how can I then think 
myself worthy or fit for this so peerless dignity ? I have been drawn 
by force, as the King's majesty often professeth, to his Highness's ser- 
vice, to be a courtier ; but to take this dignity upon me, is most of all 
against my will ; yet such is his Highness's benignity, such is his 
bounty, that he highly esteemeth the small dutifulness of his meanest 
subjects, and seeketh still magnificently to recompense his servants.; not 
only such as deserve well, but even such as have but a desire to deserve 
well at his hands. In which number I have always wished myself to 
be reckoned, because I cannot challenge myself to be one of the former ; 
which being so, you may all perceive with me, how great a burden is 
laid upon my back, in that I must strive in some sort with my dili- 
gence and duty to correspond with his royal benevolence, and to be an- 


swerable to that great expectation which he and you seem to have of 
me ; wherefore those so high praises are by so much the more grievous 
unto me, by how much I know the greater charge I have to render 
myself worthy of, and the fewer means I have to make them good. 
This weight is hardly suitable to my weak shoulders ; this honour is 
not correspondent to my poor deserts ; it is a burthen, not glory ; a 
care, not a dignity ; the one therefore I must bear as manfully as 1 can, 
and discharge the other with as much dexterity as 1 shall be able. The 
earnest desire which I have always had, and do now acknowledge 
myself to have, to satisfy by all means I can possible the most ample 
benefits of his Highness, will greatly excite and aid me to the diligent 
performance of all ; which I trust also I shall be more able to do, if I 
rind all your good wills and wishes both favourable unto me, and con- 
formable to his royal munificence ; because my serious endeavours to 
do well, joined with your favourable acceptance, will easily procure 
that whatsoever is performed by me, though it be in itself but small, 
yet will it seem great and praiseworthy, for those things are always 
achieved happily which are accepted willingly ; and those succeed for- 
tunately which are received by others courteously. As you therefore 
do hope for great matters, and the best at my hands, so though I dare 
not promise any such, yet do I promise truly and affectionately to per- 
form the best I shall be able." When Sir Thomas had spoken these 
words, turning his face to the high judgment-seat of the Chancery, he 
proceeded in this manner : " But when I look upon this seat, when I 
think how great and what kind of personages have possessed this place 
before me, when I call to mind who he was that sat in it last of all ; a 
man of what singular wisdom, of what notable experience, what a 
prosperous and favourable fortune he had for a great space, and how, at 
last dejected with a heavy dovmfall, he hath died inylorious ; I have 
cause enough, by my predecessor's example, to think honour but slip- 
pery, and this dignity not so grateful to me as it may seem, to others ; 
for both it is a hard matter to follow with like paces or praises a man 
of such admirable wit, prudence, authority, and splendour, to whom I 
may seem but as the lighting of a candle when the sun is down ; and 
also the sudden and unexpected fall of so great a man as he was doth 
terribly put me in mind that this honour ought not to please me too 
much, nor the lustre of this glistering seat dazzle mine eyes. "W here- 
fore 1 ascend this seat as a place full of labour and danger, void of all 
solid and true honour ; the w r hich by how much the higher it is, by so 
much greater fall I am to fear, as well in respect of the very nature of 
the thing itself, as because I am warned by this late fearful example. 
And truly I might even now at this very first entrance stumble, yea 
faint, but that his Majesty's most singular favour towards me, and all 
your good wills, which your joyful countenance doth testify in this most 
honourable assembly, doth somewhat recreate and refresh me ; otherwise, 
this scat would be no more pleasing to me than that sword was to Da- 
mocles, which hung over his head, and tied only by a hair of a horse's 
tail, seated him in the chair of state of Denis, the tyrant of Sicily ; this, 


therefore, shall be always fresh in my mind ; this will I have still before 
mine eyes that this seat will be honourable, famous, and full of glory 
unto me, if I shall with care and diligence, fidelity and wisdom, en- 
deavour to do my duty, and shall persuade myself that the enjoying 
thereof may chance to be but short and uncertain ; the one whereof my 
labour ought to perform, the other, my predecessor's example may easily 
teach me. All which being so, you may easily perceive what great 
pleasure I take in this high dignity, or in this noble Duke's praising 
of rue." ' 

More's elevation was not only very popular in England, but 
was heard with great satisfaction by the learned in foreign 
countries. To prove this it will be enough to copy a single 
sentence addressed by Erasmus to John Fabius, Bishop of 
Vienna. Concerning the new increase of honour experienced 
by Thomas More, I should easily make you believe it, were I 
to show you the letters of many famous men, rejoicing with 
much alacrity, and congratulating the King, the realm, him- 
self, and also me, on his promotion to be Lord Chancellor of 
England." k 

When the fleeting flutter of pleasurable excitement from the 
first entrance into high ofiice had passed away, More himself 
must have looked back with regret to the period of his life 
when he was first making way in his profession as an advocate, 
or when he was quietly engaged in his literary pursuits ; and 

i These inaugural speeches, as here given, More for his good service, and how worthy he 
are taken from More's Life by his great- was to have the highest room (office) in the 
grandson, and are adopted without suspicion realm, and how dearly his Grace loved and 
by his subsequent biographers, among others trusted him." In return, Sir Thomas "dis- 
by the acute Sir James Mackintosh ; but abled himself to be unmeet for that room, 
there is reason to question their genuineness, wherein considering how wise and honourable 
Unless the expression, " dejected with a heavy a Prelate had lately before taken so great a 
downfall, he kaih died ingloriout," means, by fall, he had no cause thereof to rejoice." 
way of figure, his political death, it betrays More, the great-grandson, had so much dege- 
fabrication and a gross anachronism, for nerated in historical lore as to assert that his 
Wolsey was now alive (if not merry) at ancestor was the first layman who ever held 
Esher, and he did not meet his natural death the Great Seal, forgetting not only the 
at Leicester Abbey till late in the following Scropes and the ArunLiels, but the Pamynges 
year. The Chancellor's great-grandson is and the Knyvets, celebrated by Lord Coke, 
exceedingly inaccurate about dates, and his own contemporary, 
ignorant of history. He really does suppose k Erasm. Epist. More, 177. In a letter to 
that Sir Thomas More was not made Chan- another correspondent, written at the same 
cellor till after Wolsey's death (edition 1828, time, Erasmus, after stating that on Wolsey's 
by Hunter, p. 169), which may afford a fair disgrace the office of Chancellor was declined 
Inference that the speeches are of his manu- by Warham, says, " Itaque provincia delegata 
facture. Roper gives a very brief sketch of est Thomae Moro magno omnium applausu, 
the I'use of Norfolk's speech, being charged nee minore bonorum omnium laetitia sub- 
by the King to make declaration " how much vectus, quam dejectu* Caruinalis.'' Ep. 11 : 5 
ill England was beholden to Sir Thomas 


as nothing happened while he was Chancellor which might not 
easily have been foreseen, we may rather feel surprise that, 
with a delicate conscience and a strong sense of duty, he 
should accept this dangerous office, and associate himself with 
such unscrupulous colleagues. He well knew the violent and 
reckless character of the King ; he must have expected very- 
painful work in the pending proceedings against his prede- 
cessor ; he was sure that the divorce would be prosecuted ; 
and other subjects of dispute were springing up with the See 
of Eome to cause a conflict between his interest and his duty. 
He probably hoped, either that the divorce would be finally 
sanctioned and decreed by the Pope, or that Henry, tired of 
Anne Boleyn, would abandon the project of making her his 
wife ; and that all minor difficulties might disappear or be 

During the two years and a half he held the Great Seal, he 
must have enjoyed solid satisfaction in the assiduous, honest, 
and admirable discharge of his duties as a Judge ; but, except 
when sitting in the Court of Chancery, his mind must have 
been filled with doubts, scruples, apprehensions, and anta- 
gonist wishes sometimes overborne by an inclination to sup- 
port the plans of the King, and sometimes struck with the 
conviction that they were inconsistent with his allegiance to 
the Head of the Church; sometimes thinking that he should 
add to the splendour of his reputation, by directing, in high 
office, the government of a great empire, and sometimes dread- 
ing lest the fame he had already acquired should be tarnished 
by his acquiescence in measures which would be condemned 
by posterity ; sometimes regarding only the good he did by 
the improved administration of justice, and sometimes shocked 
by the consideration that this might be greatly overbalanced 
by the sanction he might be supposed to give to tyrannical 
acts in other departments of the government over which he 
had no control ; sometimes carried away by the desire to ad- 
vance his family and his friends, and at last seeing that he 
could only continue to have the means of serving them by 
sacrificing his country. 

A few days after his installation he was called upon, as 
Chancellor, to open the parliament, which had been summoned 
for the impeachment of Wolsey. The King being on the throne, 
and the Commons attending at the bar, the new Chancellor 
spoke to this effect : m 

m 1 Parl. Hist. -191. 


" That, like as a good shepherd, who not only tendeth and keepeth 
well his sheep, but also foreseeth and provideth against every thing 
which either may be hurtful or noisome to his flock, or may preserve and 
defend the same against all chances to come ; so the King, who was the 
shepherd, ruler, and governor of this realm, vigilantly foreseeing things 
to come, considered how divers laws, by long continuance of time and 
mutation of things, were now grown insufficient and imperfect ; and also 
that, by the frail condition of man, divers new enormities were sprung 
up amongst the people for the which no law was made to reform the 
same, he said, was the very cause why, at this time, the King had sum- 
moned his High Court of Parliament. He resembled the King to a shep- 
herd or herdsman also for this cause : if a King is esteemed only for his 
riches, he is but a rich man ; if for his honour, he is but an honourable 
man ; but compare him to the multitude of his people and the number 
of his flock, then he is a ruler, a governor of might and power ; so that 
his people maketh him a prince, as of the multitude of sheep cometh the 
name of a shepherd. And as you see that amongst a great flock of sheep 
some be rotten and faulty, which the good shepherd sendeth from the 
sound sheep, so the great WETHER which is late fallen, as you all know, 
juggled with the King so craftily, scabbedly, and untruly, that all men 
must think that he imagined himself that the King had no sense to per- 
ceive his crafty doings, or presumed that he would not see or understand 
his fraudulent juggling and attempts. But he was deceived ; for his 
Grace's sight was so quick and penetrable, that he not only saw him but 
saw through him, both within and without ; so that he was entirely 
open to him. According to his desert, he hath had a gentle correction ; 
which small punishment the King would not should be an example to 
other offenders ; but openly declareth that whosoever hereafter shall 
make the like attempt, or commit the like offences, shall not escape with 
the like punishment." 

It must be confessed that he does not here mention his prede- 
cessor with the same generosity and good taste as in his in- 
atTgural discourse in the Court of Chancery, but he might feel 
obliged to consult the feelings of those whom he addressed, 
particularly the members of the Upper House, to whom the 
Ex-Chancellor's name was most odious, and who were im- 
patient to see a severe sentence pronounced upon him. 

Sir Thomas Audley, the future Lord Chancellor, being 
elected Speaker, the business of the session began by the ap- 
pointment of a committee, of which Lord Chancellor More was 
chairman, to prepare articles of charge against Wolsey. It is 
a curious fact, that the two Chief Justices, Fitzherbert and 
Fitzjames, were called in to serve on this committee, and 
signed the articles. These, to the number of forty-four, were 

1 Part. Hist -!90. 


immediately agreed to by the House of Lords, and sent down 
to the Commons. I have already observed that, considering 
how many of these articles were frivolous or were unfounded 
in fact, and that Wolsey's violations of the law and constitu- 
tion by raising taxes without the authority of parliament, and 
other excesses of the prerogative, were entirely passed over, 
the proceeding is not very creditable to the memoiy of Sir 
Thomas More ; and seeing the subsequent fate of the accusa- 
tion in the other House, we cannot help suspecting that he 
was privy to a scheme for withdrawing Wolsey from the judg- 
ment of parliament, and leaving him entirely at the mercy of 
his arbitrary master. 

We must give praise to the Chancellor, however, for having 
A.D. 1529 suggested several statutes, which were now passed, 
to put down extortion on the probate of wills, and 
in the demands for mortuaries, p and to prevent clerical per- 
sons from engaging in trade. q Other ecclesiastical reforms 
were loudly called for, but he did not venture to countenance 
them ; and, to his great relief, on the 1 7th of December the 
session was closed. Not being a member of the House, he 
did not openly take any part in the debates, but he was 
named on committees, and the proceedings of the Lords were 
entirely governed by him. 

He had now leisure to attend to the business of Chancery. 
Notwithstanding the great abilities of Wolsey as a Judge, 
abuses had multiplied and" strengthened during his adminis- 
tration, and a very loud cry arose for equity reform. To 
the intolerable vexation of the subject, writs of subpoena had 
been granted on payment of the fees, without any examina- 
tion as to whether there were any probable cause for involving 
innocent individuals in a Chancery suit ; a heavy arrear of 
causes stood for adjudication, some of which were said to have 
been depending for twenty years ; and the general saying 
went, that " no one could hope for a favourable judgment 
unless his fingers Avere tipt with gold ;" which probably 
arose, not from the bribes received directly by the Chancellor 
himself, but from the excessive fees and gratuities demanded 
by his officers and servants. 

The new Chancellor began by an order that " no subpoena 
should issue till a bill had been filed, signed by the attorney ; 
and, he himself having perused it, had granted a fiat for the 
commencement of the suit." 

21 Hen. 8, c. 5. P Ibid. c. 6. " Ibid. c. 13. 


It is related that, acting under this order, he showed his 
characteristic love of justice and jesting. AVhen he had pe- 
rused a very foolish bill, signed " A. Tubbe," he wrote im- 
mediately above the signature the words " A Tale of." The 
luckless attorney being told that the Lord Chancellor had 
approved his bill, carried it joyfully to his client, who, reading 
it, discovered the gibe/ 

Having heard causes in the forenoon between eight and 
eleven, after dinner he sat in an open hall, and received the 
petitions of all who chose to come before him; examining 
their cases, and giving them redress where it was in his 
power, according to law and good conscience ; and " the 
poorer and the meaner the suppliant was, the more affably he 
would speak unto him, the more heartily he would hearken 
to his cause, and, with speedy trial, despatch him." ' This 
was looked upon as a great contrast to the demeanour of the 
haughty Cardinal. 

The present Chancellor not only himself refused all cor- 
rupt offers that were made to him, but took effectual measures 
to prevent any one dependent upon him, or connected with 
him, from interfering improperly with the even march of jus- 
tice. This rigour called forth a remonstrance from his son- 
in-law, Dancey, who, on a time, merrily said unto him : 
' When Cardinal Wolsey was Lord Chancellor, not only divers 
of his Privy Chamber, but such also as were his doorkeepers, 
got great gains by him ; and sith I have married one of your 
daughtei-s, I might of reason look for some commodity ; but 
you are so ready to do for ever}' poor man, and keep no doors 
shut, that I can find no gains at all, which is to me a great 
discouragement ; whereas else, some for friendship, some for 
profit, and some for kindred, would gladly use my further- 
ance to bring them to your presence ; and now, if I should 
take any thing of them, I should do them great wrong, be- 
cause they may daily do as much for themselves ; which thing, 
though it is in you, sir, very commendable, yet to me I find 
it nothing profitable." The first part of the Chancellor's an- 
swer can only be accounted for by supposing that he wished 
not only to mollify, but to mystify his son-in-law ; or, that 
such practices as would now be matter of severe censure 
or impeachment, were then considered praiseworthy by the 
most virtuous : he winds up, in a manner to convince us that 
in no particular, however small, would he have swerved from 

More, 182. Ibid. 178. 



what he considered right: " I do not mislike, son, that your 
conscience is so scrupulous ; ' but there be many other ways 
wherein I may both do yourself good, and pleasure your 
friends ; for sometime, by my word, I may stand your friend 
instead ; sometime I. may help him greatly by my letter ; if 
he hath a cause depending before me, I may hear it before 
another, at your entreaty ; if his cause be not all the best, 1 may 
move the parties to fall to some reasonable end by arbitrament. But 
this one thing I assure thee, on my faith, that if the parties 
will at my hands call for justice and equity, then, although it 
were my father, whom I reverence dearly, that stood on the 
one side, and the devil, whom I hate extremely, were on the 
other side, his cause being just, the devil of me should have 
his right."" 

Of this stern impartiality he soon after gave a practical 
proof; for another son-in-law, Heron, having a suit depending 
before him, and refusing to agree to any reasonable accommo- 
dation, because the Judge was the most affectionate father to 
his children that ever was in the world, " then made he, in 
conclusion, a flat decree against him." x 

He was cautious in granting injunctions, yet granted and 
maintained them with firmness where he thought that justice 
required his interference with the judgments of the Courts of 
common law. Differing from Lord Bacon in the next age, 
he was of opinion that law and equity might be beneficially 
administered by the same tribunal, and he made an effort to 
induce the common-law Judges to relax the rigour of their 
rules, with a view to meet the justice of particular cases ; 
but, not succeeding in this, he resolutely examined their 
proceedings, and stayed trials and executions wherever it 
seemed to him that wrong would be done from their refusal 
to remedy the effects of accident, to enforce the performance 
of trusts, or to prevent secret frauds from being profitable to 
the parties concerned in them. 

These injunctions issued, however cautiously, from the 
Court of Chancery, having on the other side of the Hall 
caused much grumbling, which reached the ears of the Chan- 
cellor, through Roper his son-in-law and biographer, " there- 
upon caused he one Master Crooke, chief of the Six Clerks. 
to make a docket, containing the whole number and causes of 
all such injunctions, as either in his time had already passed, 

* That is, not taking a bribe when he could do no service for it 
^ More, 179. * Ibid. 180. 


or at that present depended, in any of the King's Courts at 
Westminster, before him. Which done, he invited all the 
Judges to dine with him in the Council Chamber at West 
minster ; where, after dinner, when he had broken with them 
what complaints he had heard of his injunctions, and more- 
over showed them both the number and causes of every one of 
them, in order so plainly, that upon full debating of those 
matters they were all enforced to confess that they, in like 
case, could have done no otherwise themselves." 7 At this 
same compotation, he again offered, " that if the Justices of 
every Court unto whom the reformation of the rigour of the 
law, by reason of their office, most especially appertained, 
would, upon reasonable considerations, by their own discre- 
tions (as they were as he thought in conscience bound), mi- 
tigate and reform the rigour of the law themselves, there 
should, from thenceforth, by him no more injunctions be 
granted." They still refusing, he said to them, " Forasmuch 
as yourselves, my Lords, drive me to that necessity for award- 
ing out injunctions to relieve the people's injury, you cannot 
hereafter any more justly blame me." 2 

When these reverend sages had swallowed a proper allow- 
ance of Gascony wine, and taken their departure, the Chan- 
cellor intimated to Eoper his private opinion that they were 
not guided by principle, and merely wished to avoid trouble 
and responsibility. " I perceive, son, why they like not so 
to do. For they see that they may, by the verdict of the jiiry. 
cast off all quarrels from themselves, and therefore am I com- 
pelled to abide the adventure of all such reports." a 

The commissions for hearing causes issued in Wolsey's time 
were not renewed, and very little assistance was required from 
Taylor, the Master of the Eolls ; yet the Chancellor himself, 
from his assiduity, quickness, and early experience as a judge, 
in the course of a few terms, completely subdued all the ar- 
rears, and during the rest of his Chancellorship every cause 
was decided as soon as it was ripe for hearing. Xor did he 
acquire a reputation for despatch by referring everything to 
the Master, but, on the contrary, " he used to examine all 
matters that came before him, like an arbitrator ; and he pa- 
tiently worked them out himself to a final decree, which he 
drew and signed." b 

One morning before the end of term, having got through his 
paper, he was told by the officers that there was not another 

T Roper, 42. * Ibid. a Ibid. 43. b Ibid. 44 

D 2 


cause or petition to be set down before him ; whereupon, with 
a justifiable vanity, he ordered the fact to be entered of record, 
as it had never happened before ; and a prophecy was then 
uttered which has been fully verified : 

" When MORE some time had Chancellor been, 

No more suits did remain ; 
The same shall never more be seen 
Till MORE be there again." 

But there is no circumstance during his Chancellorship that 
affects oiir imagination so much, or gives us such a lively 
notion of the manners of the times, as his demeanoiir to his 
father. Sir John More, now near ninety years of age, was 
hale in body and sound in understanding, and continued vi- 
gorously to perform the duties of senior puisne Judge in the 
Court of King's Bench. Every day during term time, be- 
fore the Chancellor began business in his own Court, he 
went into the Court of King's Bench, and, kneeling before his 
father, asked and received his blessing. So if they met toge- 
ther at readings in Lincoln's Inn, notwithstanding his high 
office, he offered the pre-eminence in argument to his father, 
though, from a regard to judicial subordination, this offer was 
always refused. 

In about a year after Sir Thomas's elevation, the old Judge 
was seized with a mortal illness (as it was supposed) from a 
surfeit of grapes. " The Chancellor, for the better declaration 
of his natural affection towards his father, not only while he 
lay on his death-bed, according to his duty, ofttimes with 
kindly words came to visit him, but also at his departure out 
of the world, with tears taking him about the neck, most 
lovingly kissed and embraced him, commending his soul into 
the merciful hands of Almighty God." d 

Instead of imitating Wolsey's crosses, pillars, and poll- 
axes, More was eager to retreat into privacy, and even in 
public to comport himself with all possible simplicity. On 
Sundays, while he was Lord Chancellor, instead of marching 
with great parade through the city of London to OTitrival the 
nobles at the Court at Greenwich, he walked with his family 
to the parish church at Chelsea, and there, putting on a sur- 
plice, sung with the choristers at matins and high mass. It 

c I m old enough to remember that when the Judges, so that I can easily picture to 

the Chancellor left bis Court, if the Court of myself the " blessing scene " between the 

King's Bench was sitting, a curtain was drawn, father and son. 

and bows were exchanged between him and <l More, 184. 


happened one day that the Duke of Norfolk, coming to Chel- 
sea to dine with him, found him at church, with a surplice on 
his back, singing. As they walked homeward together arm 
in ami, after service, the Duke said, "God's body! God's 
body ! My Lord Chancellor a parish clerk ! a parish clerk ! 
You dishonour the King and his office." "Xay," quoth he, 
smiling; " your Grace may not think that the King, your 
master and mine, will with me, for serving his Master, be 
offended, or thereby account his office dishonoured." e 

In religious processions he would himself carry the cross ; 
and in " Eogation Week," when they were very long, and he 
had to follow those who carried the rood round the parish, 
being counselled to use a horse for his dignity, he would 
answer, " It beseemeth not the servant to follow his master 
prancing on cockhorse, his master going on foot." 

After diligently searching the books, I find the report of 
only one judgment which he pronounced during his Chan- 
cellorship, and this I shall give in the words of the re- 
porter : 

" It happened on a time that a beggar-woman's little dog, -which she 
had lost, was presented for a jewel to Lady More, and she had kept it 
some se'nnight very carefully ; but at last the beggar had notice where 
the dog was, and presently she came to complain to Sir Thomas, as he 
was sitting in his hall, that his lady withheld her dog from her. Pre- 
sently my Lady was sent for, and the dog brought with her ; which Sir 
Thomas, taking in his hands, caused his wife, because she was the wor- 
thier person, to stand at the upper end of the hall, and the beggar at the 
lower end, and saying that he sat there to do every one justice, he bade 
each of them call the dog ; which, when they did, the dog went presently 
to the beggar, forsaking my Lady. When he saw this, he bade my 
Lady be contented, for it was none of hers ; yet she, repining at the 
sentence of my Lord Chancellor, agreed with the beggar, and gave her a 
piece of gold, which would well have bought three dogs, and so all 
parties were agreed ; every one smiling to see his manner of inquiring 
out the truth.'' f 

It must be acknowledged that Solomon himself could not 
have heard and determined the case more wisely or equit- 
ably. 8 

But a grave charge has been brought against the conduct of 
More while Chancellor, that he was a cruel and even bloody 
persecutor of the Lutherans. This is chiefly founded on a 

e Roper, 49. f More, 121. 

6 For some cases in pari materia, vid. Rep. Bam. Tern. Sanch. Pan. 


story told by Fox, the Martyrologist "that Burnham, a 
reformer, was carried out of the Middle Temple to the Chan- 
cellor's house at Chelsea, where he continued in free prison 
awhile, till the time that Sir Thomas More saw that he could 
not prevail in perverting of him to his sect. Then he cast 
him into prison in his own house, and whipped him at the 
tree in his garden called ' tlie tree of Troth,' 1 and after sent him 
to the Tower to be racked." h Burnet and other very zealous 
Protestants have likewise countenanced the supposition that 
More's house was really converted into a sort of prison of 
the Inquisition, he himself being the Grand Inquisitor ; and 
that there was a tree in his grounds where the Reformers 
<so often underwent flagellation under his superintendence, 
that it acquired the appellation of "the tree of Troth." But 
let us hear what is said on this subject by More himself 
allowed on all hands (however erroneous his opinions on 
religion) to have been the most sincere, candid, and truthful 
of men : 

" Divers of them have said, that cf such as were in my house when I 
was Chancellor, I used to examine them with torments, causing them 
to be bound to a tree in my garden, and there piteously beaten. Ex- 
cept their sure keeping, I never else did cause any such thing to be 
done unto any of the heretics in all my life, except only twain : one 
was a child, and a servant of mine in mine own house, whom his father, 
ere he came to me, had nursed up in such matters, and set him to 
attend upon George Jay. This Jay did teach the child his ungracious 
heresy against the blessed sacrament of the altar ; which heresy this 
child, in my house, began to teach another child. And upon that 
point I caused a servant of mine to strip him, like a child, before mine 
household, for amendment of himself and ensample of others. Another 
was one who, after he had fallen into these frantic heresies, soon fell 
into plain open frenzy ; albeit that he had been in Bedlam, and after- 
wards, by beating and correction, gathered his remembrance. Being 
therefore set at liberty, his old frenzies fell again into his head. Being 
informed of his relapse, I caused him to be taken by the constables, and 
bounden to a tree in the street, before the whole town, and there striped 
him till he waxed weary. Verily, God be thanked, I hear no harm of 
him now. And of all who ever came in my hand for heresy, as help me 
God, else had never any of them any stripe or stroke given them, so 
much as a fillip in the forehead." ' 

We must come to the conclusion that persons accused of 

b Mart. vol. ii. Hist. Reform, vol. iii. blood, and defiled those hands which were 
"When More was raised to the chief in the never polluted with bribes." 
ninistry, he became a persecutor even to ' Apology, c. 36. English Works, 902. 


heresy were confined in his house, though not treated with 
cruelty, and that the supposed tortures consisted in flogging 
one naughty boy, and administering stripes to one maniac, 
according to the received notion of the times, as a cure for his 
malady. k The truth is, that More, though in his youth he 
had been a warm friend to religious toleration, and in his 
"Utopia" he had published opinions on this subject rather 
latitudinarian, at last, alarmed by the progress of the Beform- 
ation, and shocked by the excesses of some of its votaries in 
Germany, became convinced of the expediency of uniformity 
of faith, or, at least, conformity in religious observances ; but 
he never strained or rigorously enforced the laws against 
Lollardy. '"It is," says Erasmus, "a sufficient proof of his 
clemency, that while he was Chancellor no man was put to 
death for these pestilent dogmas, while so many, at the same 
period, suffered for them in France, Germany, and the Nether- 
lands." n That he was present at the examination of heretics 
before the Council, and concurred in subjecting them to con- 
finement, cannot be denied; for such was the law, which he 
willingly obeyed ; n but we ought rather to wonder at his 
moderation in an age when the leaders of each sect thought 
they were bound in duty to Heaven to persecute the votaries 
of every other. It was not till More had retired from office, 
and was succeeded by the pliant and inhuman Audley, that 
heresy was made high treason, and the scaffold flowed with 
innocent blood. 

But More's great stumbling block which he encountered 
on entering into office, and which caused his fall was the 
divorce. The suit had been evoked before Clement YII. 
himself at Eome, and there it made no progress, the only 
object of his Holiness being delay, that he might not offend 
the Emperor on the one hand, nor, on the 1 other, tempt Henry 
to set the Papal supremacy at defiance. 

The first expedient resorted to, with More's concurrence, 
was to obtain the opinions of foreign Universities, as well as 
Oxford and Cambridge, against the legality of a marriage 

k At the Common Law moderate chastise- put down the new doctrines in religion, 
ment of a servant might be justified, and to Thus in the epitaph which he wrote for his 
an action of assault, battery, and false impri- own tomb, he describes himself as " furibus, 
Eonment, it was a good plea " that the plaintiff, homicidis, hareticisque molettut ;" and after- 
being a lunatic, the defendant arrested him, wards, in writing to Erasmus, he justifies this 
confined him, and whipped him." expression: "Quod in epitaphio profiteer 

m Erasm. Kn. haretidt me molettum fuiste, ambitioM 

a He did not disguise his earnest wish to feci." 


between a man and his brother's widow, the first marriage 
having been consummated ; and, tinder the title of fees or 
honoraries, large bribes were offered for a favourable answer. 
Bologna, Padua, Ferrara, and other Italian Universities re- 
sponded to Henry's wishes ; but he met with no success in 
Germany, where the influence of the Emperor was felt, and 
Luther had his revenge of " THE DEFENDER OF THE FAITH," by 
declaring, " that it would be more lawful for the King to have 
two wives at the same time than to separate from Catherine 
for the purpose of marrying another woman." p From France 
the opinions were divided. Thus the hope of influencing 
Clement by the universal voice of the Christian world was 

The next experiment in which More joined, was a letter to 
the Pope, subscribed by the Lords spiritual and tem- 
poral, and certain distinguished Commoners, in the 
name of the whole nation, complaining in forcible terms of 
Clement's partiality and tergiversation. "The kingdom was 
threatened with the calamities of a disputed succession, which 
oould be averted only by the King being enabled to contract a 
lawful marriage ; yet the celebration of such a marriage was 
prevented by the effectual delays and undue bias of the Pon- 
tiff. Nothing remained but to apply the remedy without his 
interference. This was admitted to be an evil, but it would 
prove a less evil than the precarious and perilous situation in 
which England was now placed."* 1 

Clement mildly and plausibly replied to this threat, that 
the danger of a disputed succession in England would be aug- 
mented by proceedings contrary to right and justice ; that he 
was ready to proceed with the cause according to the rules of 
the Church ; and that they must not require of him, through 
gratitude to man, to violate the immutable commandments of 

Thomas Cromwell had effectually insinuated himself into 
Henry's confidence by his boldness, versatility, and 
unscrupulousness ; and he strongly counselled an 

This fact was introduced by Henry into safely followed. He gravely writes on this 

nis case, but was strenuously denied by occasion, "Antequam tale repudium proba- 

Cutherine. rem, potius Rpgi permittorem nlteram regi- 

P Luther had a great leaning towards nam quoque ducere, et exeniplo Patrium <a 

polygamy, and thought that it would be Regura duas simul uxores seu Reginas ha- 

Detter that a priest should be allowed several bere." Luth. Epist. Halae. 

wives than none at all, and that the practice 1 Herbert, 331. 
of the Patriarchs and Jewish Kings might be 


immediate rupture with Eome, which the King resolved upon, 
unless Clement should yield to his menaces. 

"With this view, parliament was assembled. Cromwell had 
BO well managed the elections, that he had a clear majority 
in the Lower House ready to second his purposes ; Feb. 4, 
and, among the Peers, no one hazarded any show of 1532 ' 

The plan was to make it apparent to the world, that the 
King had both the courage and the power to throw A ^ 1531 
off all dependence upon the See of Eome, if such a 
step should be necessary for the dissolution of his maniage ; 
but, at the same time, not to run the serious hazard to the 
stability of the throne and the public tranquillity, which might 
arise from shocking the religious feelings of the people and 
suddenly changing an ecclesiastical polity as old as the first 
introduction of Christianity into England. 

Lord Chancellor More was now in a veiy difficult dilemma. 
The great offices to which he had been raised by the King, the 
personal favour hitherto constantly s^liown to him, and the 
natural tendency of his gentle and quiet disposition, combined 
to disincline him to resistance against the wishes of his 
friendly master. On the other hand, his growing dread and 
horror of heresy, with its train of disorders, and his belief that 
universal anarchy would be the inevitable result of religious 
dissension, made him recoil from designs which were visibly 
tending towards disunion with the Eoman Pontiff, the centre 
of Catholic union, and the supreme magistrate of the spiritual 
commonwealth. His opinions, relating to Papal authority, 
continued moderate and liberal ; but he strongly thought that 
it ought to be respected and upheld as an ancient and vener- 
able control on licentious opinions, and that the necessity for it 
was more and more evinced by the increasing distractions in 
the Continental states, where the Beformation was making 
progress. He resolved to temporise as long as possible per- 
haps foreseeing that, if he retired from the King's councils, all 
restraint would be at an end, and the dreaded catastrophe 
would be precipitated. 

He agreed to an Act, which was actually passed, for prevent- 
ing appeals to the Court of Eome ; r and other measures of the 
same tendency being postponed, he was prevailed upon by the 
King and Cromwell, at the close of a short session, to go down 
with twelve spiritual and temporal Peers to the House of ( !om- 

r 24 Hen. 8, c. 12. 


mons, and there to deliver the following address, meant to 
prepare the world for what might follow : 

" You, of this worshipful House, I am sure you be not so ignorant, 
but you know well that the King, our Sovereign Lord, hath married his 
brother's wife ; for she was both wedded and bedded by his brother 
March so, Prince Arthur, and therefore you may surely say that he hath 
1532. married his brother's wife if this marriage be good as so 
many clerks do doubt. Wherefore the King, like a virtuous Prince, 
willing to be satisfied in his conscience, and .also for the surety of his 
realm, hath with great deliberation consulted with great clerks, and hath 
sent my Lord of London, here present, to the chief Universities of all 
Christendom, to know their opinion and judgment in that behalf. And 
although the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge had been sufficient 
to discuss the cause, yet they being in his realm, and to avoid all sus- 
picion of partiality, he hath sent into the realms of France, Italy, the 
1'ope's dominions, and the Venetians, to know their judgment in that 
behalf, which have concluded, written, and sealed their determinations, 
according as you shall hear read." 

A box was then opened, and many opinions were read all 
on one side, holding the marriage void. Whereupon the 
Chancellor said "Now, you of this Common House may 
report in your countries what you have seen and heard, and 
then all men shall perceive that the King hath not attempted 
this matter of will or pleasure, as some strangers report, but 
only for the discharge of his conscience and the security of the 
succession of his realm. This is the cause of our repair hither 
to you, and now we will depart." ' Whoever reads this address 
must perceive the Chancellor's great embarrassment and his 
distressing anxiety to appear to have spoken on this subject 
without saying any thing by which he might be compromised, 
either with the King or the Church. 

His state of mind at this time may be gathered from a 
dialogue between him and his son-in-law, who thus relates it : 
" Walking with me along the Thames' side at Chelsea, he 
said unto me, ' Would to our Lord, son Eoper, on condition 
that three things were well established in Christendom, I 
were put into a sack, and were presently cast into the Thames.' 
' What great things be those, sir,' quoth I, ' that should move 
you so to wish ? ' 'In faith, son, they be these,' said he. 
' The first is, that whereas the most part of Christian princes 
be at mortal war, they were at universal peace. The second, 
that where the Church of Christ is at present sore afflicted 

1 Parl. Hist. 515. 


with many errors and heresies, it were well settled in perfect 
uniformity of religion. The third, that the matter of the 
King's marriage were, to the glory of God and quietness of all 
parties, brought to a good conclusion.' " ' 

He had great misgivings as to the progress of the reformers, 
and even anticipated the time when, in England, those who 
adhered to the old faith might be denied religious liberty. 
" I pray God," said he, " as high as we sit upon the mountains, 
treading heretics under our feet like ants, live not the day that 
we gladly would wish to be at league and composition with 
them to let them have their clmrches, so that they would be 
contented to let us have ours quietly." 

After the prorogation of parliament, he enjoyed a little re- 
spite from the divorce ; but being again moved by the King to 
<peed this great matter, he fell down on his knees, and, re- 
loinding Henry of his own words on delivering the Great Seal 
to him, " First look upon God, and after God upon me," added, 
that nothing had ever so pained him as that he was not 
able to serve his Grace in that matter without a breach 
of that original injunction which he had received on the 
acceptance of his office. The King affected to promise that 
he would accept his service otherwise, and would continue 
his favour ; never with that matter molesting his conscience 

But More soon perceived that there was no chance of the 
divorce being granted by the court of Eome ; that the King's 
marriage with Anne Boleyn would nevertheless be celebrated ; 
and that measures were resolved upon which he could not, by 
remaining in office, have the appearance of countenancing 
without an utter sacrifice of his character. 

He therefore made suit, through his " singular good friend 
the Duke of Norfolk," that he might have leave to resign the 
Great Seal, the plea of declining health being urged to soften 
the King's displeasure. After much hesitation the King con- 
sented, and on the 10th day of May. 1532, the ceremony took 
place at \Vhitehall, when "it pleased his Highness to say to 
him, that far the good service which he before had done him, in any 
suit which he should after have unto him, that should either concern his 
honour (for that word it pleased his Highness to use unto him), 
or that should appertain unto his profit, he should not fail to find him a 
good and gracious Lord." " But," says his great-grandson, " how 
true these words proved let others be iudges, when the King 

t Roper, 24. 


not only not bestowed upon him the value of one penny, hut 
took from him and his posterity all that ever he had either 
given him by himself, or left him by his father, or purchased 
by himself." u 



IT is said that the two happiest days of a man's life are the day 
1532 wnen he accepts a high office, and the day when he 
resigns it ; and there can be no doubt that with Sir 
Thomas More the resignation day was by far the more delight- 
ful. He immediately recovered his hilarity and love of jest, 
and was " himself again" 

He had not consulted his wife or Ms family about resigning, 
and he concealed from, them the step he had taken till next 
day. This was a holiday ; and there being no Court Circular 
or Newspaper on the breakfast-table, they all went to church 
at Chelsea, as if nothing extraordinary had happened. " And 
whereas upon the holydays during his High Chancellorship one 
of his gentlemen, when the service at the church was done, 
ordinarily used to come to my Lady his wife's pew-door, and 
say unto her ' Madam, my Lord is gone,' he came into my Lady 
his wife's pew himself, and making a low courtesy, said unto 
her, ' Madam, my Lord is gone,' which she, imagining to be but 
one of his jests, as he used many unto her, he sadly affirmed 
unto her, that it was true. This was the way he thought 
fittest to break the matter unto his wife, who was full of 
sorrow to hear it." x 

He immediately set about providing for his officers and ser- 
vants who were to leave him, and he succeeded in placing them 
with bishops and noblemen. His state barge, which carried 
him to Westminster Hall and Whitehall, he transferred, with 
his eight watermen, to his successor. His Fool, who must 

" More, 200. It seems rather strange that pretexts," as an item In the bill of particular* 

the pious biographer should not have thought to prove his Highncss's ingratitude and briMi h 

it. worth while to introduce " the chopping off of promise, 

his ancestor's head on the most frivolous of x Roper, 54. 


have been a great proficient in jesting, practising under such 
a master, lie made over to the Lord Mayor of London, with a 
stipulation that he should continue to serve the office of fool to 
the Lord Mayor for the tune being/ 

After this he called together all his children and grand- 
children who had dwelt with him. and asked their advice how 
he might now, in the decay of his ability, bear out the whole 
charges of them all. as he gladly would have continued to do. 
When they were all silent ' Then will I (said he) show unto 
you my mind : I have been brought up at Oxford, at an Inn of 
Chancery, at Lincoln's Inn, and in the King's Court, from the 
lowest degree to the highest ; and yet have I. in yearly re- 
venues at this present, little left me above a hundred pounds 
by the year : so that now. if we wish to live together, you 
must be content to be contributaries together. But my counsel 
is, that we fall not to the lowest fare first : we will not, there- 
fore, descend to Oxford fare, nor to the fare of Xew Inn, but 
we will begin with Lincoln's Inn diet, where many right wor- 
shipful men, of great account and good years, do live full well ; 
which, if we find ourselves the first year not able to maintain, 
then will in the next year come down to Oxford fare, where 
many great, learned, and ancient fathers and doctors are con- 
tinually conversant ; which, if our purses stretch not to main- 
tain neither, then may we after, with bag and wallet, go a 
begging together, hoping that for pity some good folks will 
give us their charity, and at every man's door to sing a Salve 
Regina. whereby we shall still keep company, and be rnerry 
together." * 

7 " This fool, whose name was Pattison, who bad been trading to the PBOMONTOET OF 

appears in Holbein's famous picture of the SOSES.' An eyes were turned to the great 

More family. One anecdote of him has been nose, though we discreetly preserved silence, 

often related. When at a dinner at Guildhall, that the good man might not be abashed. 

the subject of his old master having refused Pattison, perceiving the mistake he had made, 

to take the oath of supremacy was discussed, tried to set himself right, and said. ' He lies 

the fool exclaimed, " Why, what aileth him who says the gentleman's nose is large, for on 

that he will not swear ? Wherefore should the faith of a true knight it is rather a small 

he stick to swear? I have sworn the oath one.' At this all being inclined to laugh, I 

inv~r'.-.' " made signs for the fool to be turned out of 

In the "II Muro," an Italian account of the room. But Pattison, who boasted that he 

Sir Thomas More, printed at Florence, and brought every affair that he commenced to a 

dedicated to Cardinal Pole, there is another happy conclusion, resisted, and placing him- 

necdote of this jester, supposed to be re- self in my seat at the bead of the table said 

lated by the Chancellor himself, giving us not aloud, with my tone and gesture, ' There is 

a very exalted notion of the merriment caused one thing I would have you to know. That 

by these simpletons. " Yesterday, while we gentleman there has not the least bit of noae 

were dining, Pattison seeing a guest with a on his face.' " 

very large nose said ' there was one at table * More, 203. 


In those times there were no pensions of 5000Z. a year for 
Ex-Chancellors, nor sinecures for their sons ; and More might 
truly have said 

" Virtute me involve, probamque 
Pauperiem sine dote qusero." 

He certainly never repented the step he had taken, although, 
after severe sufferings, it led him to the scaffold ; and, but for 
the persecutions of the tyrant whom he refused to serve, there 
can be no doubt that he would have spent most happily the re- 
mainder of his days in the bosom of his family, ardently en- 
gaged in those literary and philosophical pursuits which pro- 
fessional avocations and official duties had so often interrupted. 
He had not treated the law as a mere trade ; and when the 
first day of term afterwards came round, he had no inclination 
to join in the procession to Westminster Hall not participating 
the feelings of the retired tallow-chandler, who could not keep 
away from his old shop on " melting days" He now ex- 
perienced the delightful calm which he describes in his letter 
of congratulation on the resignation of Lord Chancellor War- 
ham : 

" I have always esteemed your most reverend fatherhood happy in 
your courses, not only when you executed with great renown the office 
of Chancellorship, but also more happy now, when, being rid of that 
great care, you have betaken yourself to a most wished quietness, the 
better to live to yourself, and to serve God more easily ; such a quiet- 
ness, I say, that is not only more pleasing than all these troublesome 
businesses, but also more honourable far, in my judgment, than all those 
honours which you there enjoyed. Wherefore many, and amongst them 
myself, do applaud and admire this your act, which proceeded from a 
mind, I know not whether more modest in that you would willingly 
forsake so magnificent a place, or more heroical in that you would con- 
demn it, or more innocent in that you feared not to depose yourself 
from it ; but, surely, most excellent and prudent it was to do so ; for 
which, your rare deed, I cannot utter unto you how I rejoice for your 
sake, and how much I congratulate you for it, seeing your fatherhood to 
enjoy so honourable a fame, and to have obtained so rare a glory, by 
sequestering yourself far from all worldly businesses, from all tumults of 
causes, and to bestow the rest of your days, with a peaceable conscience 
for all your life past, in a quiet calmness, giving yourself wholly to your 
book, and to true Christian philosophy." 8 

Writing now to Erasmus, he says that " he himself had ob- 
tained what, from a child, he had continually wished that, 

a More, 207. 


being freed from business and public affairs, be might live for 
a time only to God and himself." 

Accordingly, he passed the first year of his retirement in re- 
viving his recollection of favourite authors, in bringing up his 
acquaintance with the advancing literature of the day, in re- 
touching his own writings, and planning new works for the 
further increase of his fame and the good of his fellow-creatures. 
His happiness was only alloyed by witnessing the measures in 
progress under his successor and Cromwell, which he had the 
sagacity to foresee would soon lead to others more violent and 
more mischievous. 

The threats to break off all intercourse with Eome having 
proved ineffectual, it was at last openly resolved to carry them 
into effect, and, without any divorce from Catherine by the 
Pope's authority, that the King should marry Anne Boleyn. 
In September, 1532, she was created Marchioness of Pembroke, 
and, notwithstanding the gallant defence of Burnet and other 
zealous Protestants, who think that the credit of the Keforma- 
tion depends upon her purity, it seems probable that Queen 
Catherine, having been banished from Court, and taken up her 
abode at Amp thill, Anne, in the prospect of the performance 
of the ceremony, had, after a resistance of nearly six years, 
consented to live with Henry as his wife. b On the 25th of 
January, 1533, she being then in -a state of pregnancy, they 
were privately married.' 

The marriage was kept secret till Easter following, when 
she was declared Queen, and orders were given for her coro- 
nation.' 1 

The troubles of the Ex-Chancellor now began. To give 
countenance to the ceremony, he was invited to be AJ) _ l 
present by three Bishops as the King's messengers, 
who likewise offered him 20?. to buy a dress suitable to the 
occasion. He declined the invitation, and thereby gave mortal 
offence to the new Queen, who ever afterwards urged violent 
proceedings against him. But instead of considering him dis- 
loyal or morose, we ought rather to condemn the base servility 

b I must be allowed to say that I consider disproved by the testimony of Cranmer him- 
still more absurd the attempts of Romish self. See 1 Hallam's Const. Hist. p. 84. 
reatots to make her oat to have been a female d It is curious that Shakspeare, living so 
of abandoned character from her early youth, near the time, places the marriage and core- 
See Lingard, vol. nation of Anne in the lifetime of Cardinal 

e An attempt has been made to show a Wolsey, who died three yean before ; but 

marriage on the 14th Nov. 1532, nine months the dramatist is not more inaccurate as to 

before the birth of Queen Elizabeth, which dates than most of onr prose historians of 

happens* on the 7th Sept. 1533 ; but this is that period. See Men. VIII. act jv. 


of the clergy and nobility who yielded to every caprice of the 
tyrant under whom they trembled, and now heedlessly acqui- 
esced in a measure which might have been the cause of a civil 
war as bloody as that between the houses of York and Lancas- 
ter. There had as yet been no sentence of divorce, nor act of 
parliament, to dissolve Henry's first marriage ; all lawyers, in 
all countries, agreed that it was valid till set aside by compe- 
tent authority ; and the best lawyers were then of the opinion, 
at which 1 believe those most competent to consider the ques- 
tion have since arrived, that even upon the supposition of the 
consummation of Catherine's marriage with Arthur, (which 
she, a most sincere and pious lady, always solemnly denied, and 
which Henry when she appealed to him e did not venture to 
assert,) the marriage was absolutely valid, as, according to 
the then existing law, the Pope's dispensation was sufficient to 
remove the objection of affinity ; and there is no ground for 
saying that the Pope, in granting the dispensation, exceeded 
his powers by expressly violating any divine precept. Little 
weight is to be attributed to the divorce pronounced by Cran- 
mer, holding his court at Dunstable, whether Catherine ap- 
peared in it or not; for there was another suit for the same 
cause, which had been regularly commenced in England before 
Wolsey and Campeggio, still pending at Kome. But all doubt 
as to the legitimacy of Elizabeth was removed, not only by a 
subsequent marriage between her parents after Cranmer's di- 
vorce, and a judgment by him that their marriage was valid, 
but by an act of the legislature/ which in our country has always 
been supreme, notwithstanding any opposition of bishops, 
popes, or councils. 

The first attempt to wreak vengeance on More for his obsti- 
nacy, was by summoning Mm before the Privy Council 
to answer a charge of having been guilty of bribery 
while he was Lord Chancellor. One Parnell was induced to 
complain of a decree obtained against him by his adversary 
Vaughan, whose wife, it was alleged, had bribed the Chancellor 
with a gilt cup. The accused party surprised the Council at 
first by owning that " he had received the cup as a new-year's 
gift." Lord Wiltshire, the King's father-in-law, indecently 
but prematurely exulted, " Lo ! did I not tell you, my Lords, 
that you would find this matter true?" "But, my Lords," 
replied More, " hear the other part of iny tale. After having 

e " De integritate corporis usque ad eecundas nuptias scrvatA." 
r 25 Hen. s c. 22. 


drunk to her of wine, with which my butler had filled the cup, 
and when she had pledged me, I restored it to her, and would 
listen to no refusal." g 

The only other cases of bribery brought forward against him 
were, his acceptance of a gilt cup from a suitor of the name of 
Gresham, after he had given Gresham a cup of greater value 
f. >r it in exchange ; and his acceptance from a Mrs. Croker, for 
whom he had made a decree against Lord Arundel, of a pair of 
gloves, in which were contained 40Z. in angels ; but he had told 
her with a smile, that though it were ill manners to refuse a 
lady's present, and he should keep the gloves, he must return 
the gold, which he forced her to carry back. b 

The next proceeding against him, equally without foundation, 
wore a more alarming aspect ; and, at one time, seemed fraught 
with destruction to him. A bill was introduced into parliament 
to attaint of high treason Elizabeth Barton, a woman commonly 
called " the Holy Maid of Kent," and her associates, upon the 
suggestion, that, under pretence of revelations and miracles, 
she had spoken disrespectfully of the King, and insisted that 
Catherine was still his lawful wife. She had obtained a great 
reputation for piety ; and some sensible men of that age were 
inclined to think, that supernatural gifts were conferred upon 
her by Heaven, Among these were Archbishop AYarham, 
Fisher, Bishop of Eochester, and probably Sir Thomas More.' 
Being in the convent at Sion, More was prevailed upon to see and 
converse with her there ; but he most studiotisly prevented her 
from saying a word to him about the King's divorce, the King's 
marriage, or the King's supremacy, or any such subject. How- 
ever, this interview being reported at Court, More's name was 
introduced into the bill of attainder as an accomplice ; not with 
the intention at first of making him a sacrifice, but in the 
expectation that, under the impending peril, his constancy 
would yield. He begged to be heard, to make his defence 
against the bill openly at the bar ; but this proposal raised 
great alarm from his legal knowledge and his eloquence, and 
the influence of his name. It was resolved, therefore, that he 
should only be heard privately before a committee named by 
the King, consisting of Cranmer, the new Archbishop, Audley. 
the new Chancellor, the Duke of Norfolk, and Cromwell. 

8 More, 221. *> Fbid. 222. his talents and his eloquence, as well as by 

i We need not wonder at the credulity of his illustrious birth, has published a pamphlet 

the most eminent men of that age, when to support two contemporaneous miraculous 

in our own day a nobleman, distinguished by maids the " Estatica" and the " Adolorato. ' 


When he came before them, in respect of the high office he 
had filled, they received him courteously, requesting him to sit 
down with them ; but this he would on no account consent to. 
Having got him among them, instead of discussing his guilt 01 
innocence, on the charge of treason made against him by the 
bill of attainder, they tried to make a convert of him to the 
King's views. They began quietly telling him how many 
ways the King's Majesty had showed his love and favour 
towards him how gladly he would have had him continue in his 
office how desirous he was to have heaped still more and more 
benefits upon him and, finally, that he could ask no worldly 
honour or profit at his Highness's hands but that he should 
obtain it, so that he would add his consent to that which the 
King, the Parliament, the Bishops, and many Universities had 
pronounced for reason and Scripture. 

The Ex-Chancellor fully admitted the many obligations the 
King had laid upon him ; but mildly observed, that he hoped 
never to have heard of this matter any more, as his Highness, 
like a gracious Prince, knowing his mind therein, had pro- 
mised no more to molest him therewith ; since which time, he 
had seen no reason to change ; and if he could, there was no 
one in the whole world would be more joyful. 

Seeing that persuasion would not move him, " then began 
they more terribly to threaten him ; saying, the King's Majesty 
had given them in command expressly, if they could by no 
gentle means win him, they should in his name with great 
indignation charge him, that never there was servant so 
villanous to his Sovereign, nor any subject so traitorous to his 
Prince, as he." And what was this terrible accusation ? that 
More had provoked the King to set forth the book on the 
seven sacraments, and the maintenance of the Pope's authority. 
whereby the title of " Defender of the Faith " had been 
gained, but in reality a sword had been put into the Pope's 
hand to fight against him, to his great dishonour in all parts of 

His answer lets us curiously into the secret history of 
Henry's refutation of Luther. "My Lords," answered he, 
" these terrors be frights for children, and not for me : but to 
answer that wherewith you chiefly burthen me, I believe the 
King's Highness, of his honour, will never lay that book to my 
charge ; for there is none that can, in that point, say more for 
my cleai'ance than himself, who right well knoweth that I 
iiover was procurer, promoter, nor counsellor of his Majesty 


thereunto; only after it was finished, by his Grace's appoint- 
ment, and the consent of the makers of the same. I only sorted out, 
and placed in order, the principal matters therein ; wherein, 
when 1 had found the Pope's authority highly advanced, and 
with strange arguments mightily defended, 1 said thus to his 
Grace : ' I must put your Highness in mind of one thing the 
Pope, as your Majesty well knoweth, is a prince, as you are. in 
league with all other Christian princes : it may hereafter fall 
out that your Grace and he may vary upon some points of the 
league, whereupon may grow breach of amity between you 
both ; therefore I think it best that place be amended, and his 
authority more slenderly touched.' ' Nay,' said the King, 
' that shall it not ; we are so much bound to the See of Eome. 
that we cannot do too much honour unto it. "Whatsoever 
impediment be to the contrary, we will set forth that authority to 
the uttermost ; for we have received from that See our Crown 
imperial ! ' which till his Grace with his own mouth so told 
me, I never heard before. AVhich things well considered. 1 
trust when his Majesty shall be truly informed thereof, and 
call to his gracious remembrance my sayings and doings in that 
behalf, his Highness will never speak more of it, but will clear 
me himself. " Thereupon they, with great displeasure, disii . 
him : and knowing whom, in the defence of his innocence, he 
taunted and defied, he well knew the price he was to pay for 
his boldness. k 

Nevertheless, he was in high spirits, and taking boat for 
Chelsea, his son-in-law, Eoper, who accompanied him, believed, 
from his merriment by the way, that his name had been struck 
out of the bill. \Vheii they were landed, and walking in the 
garden, Eoper said, ' I trust, sir, all is well, you are so merry.'' 
" It is so indeed, son, thank God." " Are you. then, sir, put out 
of 'the bill ? " " Wouldest thou know, son, why I am so joyful ? 
In good faith 1 rejoice that I have given the devil a foul full ; because 
I have with those Lords gone so far, that without great shame 1 
can never go back" This heartfelt exultation at having, after a 
struggle to which he felt the weakness of human nature might 
have been unequal, gained the victory in his own mind, and, 
though with the almost certain sacrifice of life, made it im- 
possible to resile. bestows a greatness on these simple and 
familiar words which belongs to few uninspired sayings in 
ancient or modern times." 1 

The result of the conference with the four councillors being 

k More, 225. ra Ibid. 228 

E 2 


reported by them to Henry, he flew into a transport of rage, 
swore that More should be included in the attainder, and said, 
when the bill was to be discussed, he himself should be per- 
sonally present to ensure its passing. They then all dropped 
down on their knees before him and implored him to forbear ; 
for if, sitting on the throne, he should receive an overthrow, it 
would not only encourage his subjects ever after to contemn 
him, but also redound to his dishonour among foreign nations 
adding, that " they doubted not they should find a more 
meet occasion to serve his turn, for that in this case of the 
Nun he was well known to be clearly innocent." Henry was 
obliged to yield, and once in his reign his thirst for blood was 
not immediately gratified. 

Cromwell having next day informed Eoper that his father- 
in-law was put out of the bill, this intelligence reached More 
himself by the lips of his favourite daughter, when he calmly 
said, " In faith, Meg, quod differtur non aufertur, what is post- 
poned is not abandoned." 

A few days afterwards the Duke of Norfolk made a last 
attempt upon him, saying, "By the mass, Master More, it is 
perilous striving with princes ; therefore I could wish you, as 
a friend, to incline to the King's pleasure, for, by God's body, 
Master More, indignatio principis mors est" " Is that all ?" said 
Sir Thomas ; " why then there is no more difference between 
your Grace and me, but that I shall die to-day and you to- 
morrow." Norfolk, it is well known, was attainted, ordered 
for execution, and only saved by Henry's death. 

But More's other prophecy of the same sort was literally 
fulfilled. Having asked his daughter Eoper how the world 
went, and how Queen Anne did, " In faith, father," said she, 
" never better; there is nothing else in the Court but dancing 
and sporting." "Never better!" said he. "Alas! Meg, it 
pitieth me to remember unto what misery, poor soul, she will 
shortly come. These dances of hers will prove such dances 
that she will spurn our heads off" like footballs ; but it will not 
be long ere her head will dance the like dance." n 

The policy of Henry and his ministers now was to enforce 
submission by compelling people to swear to conform to the 
new regime, a course which More had anticipated with appre- 
hension when he was told by Eoper of the King's marriage 
and final rupture with Eome, saying, " God give grace, son, 
that these matters within a while be not confirmed with oath*." 

n Mure, 231. 


The Lord Chancellor, Cranmer, Cromwell, and the Abbot 
of Westminster were appointed commissioners to administer 
the required oath, drawn up in a form -which the law did not 
then authorise. Statutes had been passed to settle the suc- 
n to the crown on the issue of the King's present mar- 
riage, and to cut off intercourse with Rome by prohibiting 
the accustomed payment of first fruits, or Peter's pence, and 
forbidding appeals to the Pope or dispensations from him ; but 
no statute had passed to constitute the Ring supreme head of 
the Church, or to annex any penalty to the denial of his supre- 
macy. Nevertheless an oath was framed "to bear faith and 
true obedience to the King, and the issue of his present mar- 
riage with Queen Anne, to acknowledge him the Head of the Church 
of England, and to renounce aU obedience to the Bishop of Eome, as 
having no more poicer than any other bishop" 

The administration of this oath began a few days after the 
Holy Maid of Kent and her associates, under the act of attainder 
against them, had been hanged and beheaded at Tyburn ; and 
it was taken very freely by the clergy. It had not yet been 
propounded to any layman, and the commissioners resolved to 
begin with Sir Thomas More, knowing that if he should sub- 
mit, no farther resistance need be apprehended. 

For a considerable while he had been expecting a summons 
before the inquisitors, and that his family might be alarmed 
as little as possible when it should really come, he hired a man 
dressed as a poursuivant suddenly to come to his house, while 
they sat at dinner, and knocking loudly at his door, to warn 
him to appear next day before the commissioners. . They were 
at first in great consternation ; but he soon relieved them by 
explaining the jest. 

in sad earnest early in the morning of the 13th of April, 
,->34:. the real poursuivant entered the house, and summoned 
:iim to appear before the commissioners that day at Lambeth. 
According to his custom when he entered on any matter of 
importance, (as when he was first chosen of the Privy Cotincil, 
sent Ambassador, chosen Speaker, made Lord Chancellor, or 
engaged in any weighty undertaking.) he went to church " to 
be confessed, to hear mass, and to be houseled ; " but from a 

All the biographers of More, from Roper matter clear beyond an question ; for he 

downwards, have fallen into a mistake upon was committed to the Tower in April, 1534 

this subject, although they hare recorded and the session of parliament in which the 

Hore's own declaration that the warrant of act of supremacy was passed did not meet 

his commitment was bad in point of law; but till the month of November following. 2C 

e reference to the Statute Book makes the H. 3, c, 1. 


foreboding mind he could not trust himself to take leave of his 
family with his usual marks of affection : " whereas he ever- 
more used before, at his departure from his wife and children, 
whom he tenderly loved, to have them bring him to his boat, 
and there to kiss them and bid them all farewell, then would 
he sutter none of them forth of the gate to follow him, but 
pulled the wicket after him, and shut them all from him, and 
with a heavy heart took boat towards Lambeth." On his way 
he whispered into the ear of his son-in-law who accompanied 
him, " I thank our Lord the field is won," p indicating an 
entire confidence in his own constancy. 

Being brought before the commissioners, and the oath being 
tendered to him, he referred to the statute and declared his 
readiness to swear that he would maintain and defend the order 
of succession to the crown, as established by parliament ; he 
disclaimed all censure on those who had simply taken the 
oath ; but it was impossible that he should swear to the whole 
contents of it without wounding his conscience. He was com- 
manded to walk in the garden awhile, and the oath was ad- 
ministered to many others. When called in again, the list of 
those who had taken it was shown to him, and he was threatened 
with the King's special displeasure for his recusancy without 
any reason assigned. He answered, that " his reasons might 
exasperate the King still more ; but he would assign them on 
his Majesty's assurance, that they should not offend him nor 
prove dangerous to himself." The commissioners obsei-ved, 
that such assurances could be no defence against a legal charge. 
He offered to trust himself to the King's honour ; but they 
would listen to no qualification or explanation. Cranmer, 
with some subtlety, argued that his disclaiming all blame of 
those who had sworn, showed that he thought it only doubtful, 
whether the oath was unlawful ; whereas the obligation to 
obey the King was absolutely certain. He might have replied, 
that an oath on matter of opinion might be lawfully taken by 
one man, and could not be taken without perjury by another ; 
but he contented himself with repeating his offer to swear to 
the succession, and his refusal to go further. Thereupon he 
was given in ward to the Abbot of Westminster, in the hope 
that the King might relent. It is said that, a council being 
held, the qualified oath would have been accepted had it not 
been that " Queen Anne, by her importunate clamours, did 
exasperate the King," and at the end of four days, the oath 

P More. 70. 


containing an acknowledgment of the King's supremacy, and 
an abjuration of the Bishop of Rome, being again tendered and 
refused. More was committed close prisoner to the Tower of 

Having delivered his upper garment as garnish to the porter 
standing at the Traitor's Gate, by which he entered, he was 
conducted by "Master Lieutenant" to his lodging, where he 
swore John a Wood, his servant appointed to attend him. 
" that if he should see or hear him at any time write or speak 
any matter against the King or the state of the realm, he should 
open it to the Lieutenant, that it might incontinent be revealed 
to the Council." 

The Lieutenant apologising for the poor cheer the place 
furnished, his prisoner waggishly answered, "Assure your- 
self I do not mislike my cheer ; but whenever I do, then spare 
not to thrust me out of your doors." 

In about a month he was permitted to receive a visit from 
his dearly beloved daughter, whom he tried to comfort by 
saying, ' I believe, Meg, they that have put me here ween 
they have done me a high displeasure ; but, I assure thee on 
my faith, mine own good daughter, if it had not been for my 
wife, and ye that be my children, I would not have failed, 
long ere this, to have closed myself in as straight a room, and 
straighter too. But since I am come hither without mine own 
desert, I trust that God, by his goodness, will discharge me of 
my care, and, with his gracious help, supply my lack among 
you." Having pointed out to her the illegality of his im- 
prisonment, there being then no statute to authorise the 
required oath, he could not refrain from expressing some indig- 
nation against the King's advisers. " And surely, daughter, it 
is a great pity that any Christian Prince should, by a flexible 
Council ready to follow his affections, and by a weak clergy, 
lacking grace constantly to stand to their learning, with 
flattery be so shamefully abused." 

It unluckily chanced while she was with him on another 
occasion, that in their sight Reynolds, the Abbot of Sion, and 
three monks of the Charterhouse were marched out for exe- 
cution on account of the supremacy. He exclaimed, " Lo ! 
dost thou not see, Meg, that these blessed Fathers be now as 
cheerfully going to their deaths as bridegrooms to their mar- 
riage ? " and he tenderly tried to strengthen her mind for 
the like destiny befalling himself. Having conceived, from 
some expression she used, that she wished him to yield, 


he wrote her a letter, rebuking her supposed purpose with 
the utmost vehemence of affection, and concluding with an 
assurance, " that none of the terrible things that might 
happen to him touched him so near, or were so grievous to 
him, as that his dearly beloved child, whose judgment he so 
much valued, should labour to persuade him to do what would 
be contrary to his conscience." Margaret's reply was worthy 
of herself. " She submits reverently to his faithful and de- 
lectable letter, the faithful messenger of his vertuous mind," 
and almost rejoices in his victory over all earth-born cares. 
She subscribes herself, " Your own most loving, obedient 
daughter and bedeswoman, Margaret Koper, who desireth, 
above all earthly things, to be in John Wood's stede, to do you 
some service." 

He had a very different subject to deal with when he re- 
ceived a visit from his wife, who had leave to see him, in the 
hope that she might break his constancy. On her entrance, 
like a plain rude woman, and somewhat worldly, she thus 
saluted him : " What, the goody ear, Mr. More, I marvel that 
you, who have been hitherto always taken for a wise man, 
will now so play the fool as to lie here in this close, filthy 
prison, and be content to be shut up thus with mice and rats, 
when you might be abroad at your liberty, with the favour 
and good will both of the King and his Council, if you would 
but do as the Bishops and best learned of his realm have done ; 
and, seeing you have at Chelsea a right fair house, your library, 
your books, your gallery, and all other necessaries so handsome 
about you, where you might, in company with me, your wife, 
your children and household, be merry, I muse what, a God's 
name, you mean, here thus fondly to tarry." Having heard 
her out, preserving his good humour, he said to her, with i\ 
cheerful countenance, " I pray thce, good Mrs. Alice, tell me 
one thing." "What is it?" saith she. " Is not this house as 
near heaven as my own ? " She could only come out with her 
favourite interjection, which she used, like Dame Quickly, to 
express impatience, " Tilly vally ! Tilly vally ! " > By point- 
ing out the short time he could enjoy his house compared with 
the long and secure tenure of heaven, and various other argu- 
ments and illustrations, he, to no purpose, tried to convince 
her that it was better to remain in the Tower than to dishonour 
himself. He was little moved by her persuasions, thinking 

1 " Hostess (addressing Falstafl"). Tilly- cient swaggerer comes not in my doors.'" 
folly ' Sir John. Xever tell me, your an- Hen. I V., fart II., act il. scene 4. 


(but not saying) as Job, when tempted by bis wife, ' ; Quasi 
una ex stnltis mulieribus locuta es." 

We must render her the justice to recollect, however, that 
she continued actively to do what she could for his comfort ; 
and in a subsequent part of his imprisonment, when all his pro- 
perty had been seized, she actually sold her wearing apparel to 
raise money to provide necessaries for him/ 

The parliament, which had answered Henry's purposes so 
slavishly that it was kept on foot for six years, met again on 
the 4th of November, and proceeded to pass an act of at- 
tainder for inisprision of treason against More, and Fisher, 
Bishop of Eochester, the only surviving minister of Henry 
VII., and the son's early tutor, councillor, and friend, on 
the ground that they had refused to take the oath of supre- 
macy, for which alleged offence, created by no law, they 
were to forfeit all their property, and to be subject to per- 
petual imprisonment.* But this was insufficient for the royal 
vengeance : and soon after, not only was an act passed to de- 
clare the King the Supreme Head of the Church.' but authority 
was given to require an oath acknowledging the supremacy," 
and it was declared to be high treason by words or writing to 
deny it. Y 

As More was now actually suffering punishment by im- 
prisonment and forfeiture of his property for having refused 
to take the oath, it was impossible to make the enactment 
about oaths the foundation of a new prosecution, and the 
plan adopted was to inveigle him into a verbal denial of 
the supremacy, and so to proceed against him for high 

With this view, the Lord Chancellor, the Dukes of Norfolk 
and Suffolk, Cromwell, and others of the Privy Council, several 
times came to him in the Tower, " to procure him by all means 
and policies they could, either to confess precisely the King's 
supremacy, or plainly to deny it." But he was constantly on 
his guard, and they could get nothing more from him than 

' See her letter to Cromwell, in which she vol. iv. 527, 528. * 26 Hen. 8, c. 1. 

says, "I pass weekly 15 shillings for the a 26 Hen. 8, c. 2. 

bord-wages of my poure husband and his T 26 Hen. 3, c. 3. The offence described 
servant, for the mayntaining whereof I haT In this last act applicable to the supremacy, 
been compellyd of verey necessyte to sell is to "desire to deprive the King of his dig- 
part of myn apparell for lack of other snb- nity, title, or name of his royal estates ;" 
stance to make money of." App. to Hunter's and. " Supreme Head of the Church " coming 
ej. of More. within this description, to deny the sn- 

This act is not in the statutes at large, premacy was thus ingeniously made high 

but will be found in the Statutes of the Realm, treason. 


" that the statute was like a two-edged sword : if he should 
speak against it, he should procure the death of his body ; 
and if he should consent unto it, he should procure the death 
of his soul." 

The next contrivance was plotted and executed by one who 
has brought a greater stain upon the bar of England than any 
member of the profession to which I am proud to belong, a 
profession generally distinguished, even in bad tim'es, for in- 
tegrity and independence, and never before or since so far de- 
graded as to have its honours won by palpable fraud, chicanery, 
and perjury. Rich (Jiorresco referens), afterwards Lord Chan- 
cellor, had just been made Solicitor General, on an under- 
standing that he was effectually to put in force the recent acts 
against all recusants, and most especially against the refrac- 
tory Ex-Chancellor. Accordingly, fortified by an order of the 
Council, he accompanied Sir Richard Southwell and a Mr. 
Palmer to the Tower for the avowed purpose of depriving 
More of the small library with which he had hitherto been 
permitted to soothe his solitude. While they were packing 
up the books, Rich, under pretence of ancient friendship, fell 
into conversation with him ; and in a familiar and confidential 
tone, after a compliment to his wisdom and learning, put a 
case to him: "Admit that there were an act of parliament 
made, that all the realm should take me for King, would not 
you, Mr. More, take me for King?" "Yes, sir," said Sir 
Thomas, " that I would." Rich, much elated, said, " I put the 
case further, that there were an act of parliament that all the 
realm shoiild take me for Pope, would you not then take me for 
Pope ?" " For answer," said Sir Thomas, " to your first case, 
the parliament may well meddle with the state of temporal 
princes ; but to make answer to your other case, Suppose the 
parliament should make a law that God should not be God, 
would you then, Mr. Rich, say so ?" " No, sir," said Mr. Soli- 
citor, " that I would not ; for no parliament could make such 
a law." More, suspecting his drift, made no reply ; the con- 
versation took another turn ; and, the books being carried off, 
they soon after parted. 

Trusting rather to partial judges and a packed jury than the 
evidence which coxild be brought forward against him, a 
special commission was issued for biinging Sir Thomas More 
to a solemn trial, the commissioners being the Lord Chan- 
cellor Audley, the Duke of Norfolk, Fitzjames and Fitzherbert, 
the Chief Justices, and several puisne Judges. They sat in 


the Court of King's Bench, in Westminster Hall/ The ar- 
raignment took place on the 7th of May, but the 
trial was postponed till the 1st of July, in the hope 
of strengthening the case for the Crown. 

On the morning of the trial, More was led on foot, in a 
coarse woollen gown, through the most frequented streets, 
from the Tower to Westminster Hall. The colour of his hair, 
which had become grey since he last appeared in public, his 
face, which though still cheerful was pale and emaciated, his 
bent posture and his feeble steps, which he was obliged to 
support with his staff, showed the rigour of his confinement, 
and excited the sympathy of the people, instead of impre^ing 
them, as was intended, with dread of the royal authority. 
When, sordidly dressed, he held up his hand as a criminal in 
that place, where, arrayed in his magisterial robes and sur- 
rounded by crowds who watched his smile, he had been ac- 
customed on his knees to ask his father's blessing before 
mounting his own tribunal to determine, as sole Judge, on 
the most important rights of the highest subjects in the realm, 
a general feeling of horror and commiseration ran through 
the spectators ; and after the lapse of three centuries, during 
which statesmen, prelates, and kings have been unjustly 
brought to trial under the same roof, considering the splen- 
dour of his talents, the greatness of his acquirements, and the 
innocence of his life, we must still regard his murder as the 
blackest crime that ever has been perpetrated in England 
under the forms of law. 

Sir Christopher Hale, the Attorney General, who conducted 
the prosecution, with some appearance of candour, (strongly 
contrasted with the undisguised asperity of Mr. Solicitor Rich, 
who assisted him.) began with reading the indictment, which 
was of enormous length, but contained four principal charges : 
1st, The opinion the prisoner had given on the King's mar- 
riage. 2ndly, That he had written certain letters to Bishop 
Fi>her encouraging him to resist. 3rdly, That he had refused 
to acknowledge the King's supremacy ; and, 4thly, That he 
had positively denied it, and thereby attempted to deprive the 
King of his dignity and title. When the reading of the in- 
dictment was over, the Lord Chancellor made a last attempt 
to bend the resolution of the prisoner by saying, "You see 
how grievously you have offended his Majesty, yet he is so 

x From this circumstance it has been erroneously stated that this was a trial at bar in 
the Cuurt of King's Bench. 


merciful, that if you will lay away your obstinacy and change 
your opinion, we hope you may obtain pardon." More calmly 
replied, " Most noble Lords, I have great cause to thank your 
Honours for this your courtesy ; but I beseech Almighty God 
that I may continue in the mind I am in, through his grace, 
unto death." 

The last was the only charge in the indictment which was 
at all sufficient in point of law to incur the pains of treason ; 
and it was unsupported by evidence. The counsel for the 
Crown at first contented themselves with putting in the pri- 
soner's examinations, showing that he had declined answer- 
ing the questions propounded to him by the Privy Councillors, 
with his answer, " that the statute was a two-edged sword." 
An excuse was made for not proving the supposed letters to 
Fisher, on the ground that they had been destroyed. 

The Lord Chancellor, instead of at once directing an ac- 
quittal, called upon the prisoner for his defence. A deep 
silence now prevailed all present held their breath every 
eye was fixed upon the victim. More was beginning with ex- 
pressing his apprehension " lest, his memory and wit being 
decayed with his health of body through his long imprison- 
ment, he should not be able properly to meet all the matters 
alleged against him," when he found that he was unable to 
support himself by his staff, and his judges evinced one touch 
of humanity by ordering him a chair. When he was seated, 
after a few preliminary observations, he considered the charges 
in their order. " As to the marriage," he said, " I confess that 
I always told the King my opinion thereon as my conscience 
dictated unto me, which I neither ever would, nor ought to 
have concealed ; for which I am so far from thinking myself 
guilty of high treason, as that of the contrary, I being de- 
manded my opinion by so great a Prince on a matter of 
.such importance, whereupon the quietness of a kingdom de- 
pendeth, I should have basely flattered him if I had not 
uttered the truth : then I might have been accused as a wicked 
subject, and a perfidious traitor to God. If herein I have 
offended the King, it must be an offence to tell one's mind 
plainly when our Prince asketh our advice." 2. As to the 
letters to Fisher, he himself stated the contents of them, and 
showed that they were free from all blame. 3. On the charge 
that he had declined to declare his opinion, when interrogated, 
respecting the supremacy, he triumphantly answered, " that 
he could not transgress any law, or incur any crime of treason, 


by holding his peace, God only being judge of our secret 
thoughts." Here he -was interrupted by Mr. Attorney, who 
said. " Although we had not one word or deed to object 
against you. yet have we your silence, when asked whether 
vou acknowledged the King to be Supreme Head of the Church, 
which is an evident sign of a malicious mind." But Mr. At- 
torney was put down (and, notwithstanding the gravity of the 
occasion, there was probably a laugh against him) by More 
quietly reminding him of the maxim among civilians and 
canonists " Qui tacet, consentire videtur." ' He that holdeth 
his tongue is taken to consent." 4. On the last charge he 
argued, that the only proof was his saying that " the statute 
was a two-edged sword," which was meant as a reason for his 
declining to answer, and could not possibly be construed into 
a positive denial of the King's supremacy. He concluded with 
a solemn avowal, that " he never spake word against this law 
to any living man." 

The jury, biassed as they were, seeing that if they credited 
all the evidence, there was not the shadow of a case against 
the prisoner, were about to acquit him ; the Judges were in 
dismay the Attorney-General stood aghast when Mr. Soli- 
citor, to his eternal disgrace, and to the eternal disgrace of the 
Court who permitted such an outrage on decency, left the bar, 
and presented himself as a witness for the Crown. Being 
sworn, he detailed the confidential conversation he had had 
with the prisoner in the Tower on the occasion of the removal 
of the books ; and falsely added, that upon his admitting that 
"no parliament could make a law that God should not be 
God," Sir Thomas declared, " No more could the parliament 
make the King Supreme Head of the Church." 

The prisoner's withering reply must have made the mean 
and guilty wretch feel compunction and shame, for which his 
subsequent elevation must have been a miserable recompence : 
" If I were a man, my Lords, that did not regard an oath, I 
needed not at this time in this place, as is well known unto 
every one, to stand as an accused person. And if this oath, 
Mr. Eich, which you have taken be true, then I pray that I 
never see God in the face ; which I would not say were it 
otherwise to gain the whole world." Having truly related the 
whole conversation, he continued, " In good faith. Mr. Eich, 
I am more sorry for your perjury than for mine own peril. 
Know you that neither I, nor any man else to my knowledge, 
ever took you to be a man of such credit as either I or any 


other would vouchsafe to communicate with you in any matter 
of importance. As you well know, I have been acquainted 
with your manner of life and conversation a long space, even 
from your youth upwards ; for we dwelt long together in one 
parish ; where as yourself can well tell (I am sorry you compel 
me to speak it) you were always esteemed very light of 
your tongue, a great dicer and gamester, and not of any com- 
mendable fame either there or in the Temple, the Inn to which 
you have belonged. Can it therefore seem likely to your 
honourable Lordships, that, in so weighty a cause, I should so 
unadvisedly overshoot myself as to trust Mr. Rich, a man 
always reputed of me for one of so little truth and honesty, 
about my sovereign Lord the King, to whom I am so deeply 
indebted for his manifold favours, or any of his noble and 
grave counsellors, that I should declare only to him the secrets 
of my conscience, touching the King's supremacy, the special 
point and only mark so long sought for at my hands, which I 
never did nor ever would reveal after the statute once made, 
either to the King's Highness himself, or to any of his noble 
counsellors, as it is well known to your Honours, who have 
been sent for no other purpose at sundry times from his Ma- 
jesty's person to me in the Tower ? I refer it to your judg- 
ments, my Lords, whether this can seem a thing credible unto 
any of you." 

This address produced a deep effect upon the by-standers, 
and even on the packed jury ; and Mr. Solicitor was so much 
alarmed, that, resuming his capacity of counsel for the Crown, 
he called and examined Sir Richard Southwell and Mr. Palmer, 
in the hope that they might be as regardless of truth as him- 
self, and corroborate his testimony ; but they both said they 
were so busy in trussing up the books in a sack, they gave no 
ear to the conversation. 

The Chief Commissioner, however, gallantly restored the 
fortune of the day ; and in an ingenious, animated, and sar- 
castic summing up, pointed out the enormity of the offence 
charged ; the danger to the King and the public tranquillity 
from the courses followed by the prisoner ; that the evidence 
of the Solicitor-General, which he said was evidently given 
with reluctance and from a pure motive, stood uncontradicted, 
if not corroborated, as the denial of the prisoner could not be 
taken into account; that as the speech related by the witness 
undoubtedly expressed the real sentiments of the prisoner, and 
was only drawing a necessary inference, the7 - e was every pro- 


bability that it was spoken ; and that, if the witness was be- 
lieved, the case for the Crown was established. 

The jury retired from the bar, and in about a quarter of an 
hour (to the horror, if not the surprise, of the audience) 
brought in a verdict of GUILTY; "for," says his descendant, 
"they knew what the King would have done in that case." T 
But it is possible that being all zealous Protestants, who 
looked with detestation on our intercourse with the Pope, and 
considering that the King's supremacy could not be honestly 
doubted, they concluded tha*, by convicting a Papist, they 
should be doing good service to religion and the state, and 
that, misled by the sophistry and eloquence of the presiding 
Judge, they believed that they returned an honest verdict. 

Audley was so delighted, that, forgetting the established 
forms of proceeding on such an occasion, he eagerly began to 
pronounce judgment. 

M'>re interrupted him. and his pulse still beating as tem- 
perately as if sitting in his library at Chelsea talking to 
Erasmus, " My Lord," said he, " when I was towards the law, 
the manner in such cases was to ask the prisoner before sen- 
tence whether he could give any reason why judgment should 
not proceed against him." The Chancellor in some confusion 
owned his mistake, and put the question. 

More was now driven to deny the power of parliament to 
pass the statute transferring the Headship of the Church from 
the Pope to the King, and he took some exceptions to the 
frame of the indictment. The Chancellor, being loth to 
have the whole burden of this condemnation to lie upon him- 
self, asked openly the advice of my Lord Chief Justice of 
England, Sir John Fitzjanies, " whether this indictment were 
sufficient, or no ? " Fitzjames, C. J. " My Lords all, by St. 
Gillian (ever his oath), I must needs confess, that if the act of 
parliament be not unlawful, then the indictment is not, in my 
conscience. insufficient." * 

1 It is hardly possible to read without a him), is desirous of palliating this prosecu- 
snrile the statement of the verdict by Eras- tion ; and a toll copy of the indictment not 
mus in his ' Epistola de Morte Thotnae being forthcoming, supposes that there were 
Mori :' " Qui [dnodecim viri] qumn per horae other charges against More of which we know 
quartam partem secessissent, reversi snnt ad nothing; but the whole coarse of the pro- 
principes ac judices delegatos ac pronuncia- ceeding, as well as all contemporary evidence, 
runt KIU.IJT, hoc est, dignut at morte." shows that he was tried under 26 H. 8, e. 13, 

2 Sharon Turner, actuated by his sense of for " imagining to deprive the King of hi* 
the "mild and friendly temper" of Henry title and dignity," the denial of the su- 
V1IL (taking a very different view of his cha- premacy being the overt act relied upon. 
racier from Wolsey or More, when they were See Turn. Sift. H. fill. 

most familiar and in highest favour with 


Lord Chancellor. " Lo ! my Lords, lo ! You hear what my 
Lord Chief Justice saith. Quodadhuc desidemmus testimonium ? 
Reiis est mortis" Pie then pronounced upon him the frightful 
sentence in cases of treason, concluding with ordering that 
his four quarters should be set over four gates of the city, and 
his head upon London Bridge.. 

The prisoner had hitherto refrained from expressing his 
opinion on the question of the supremacy, lest he might 
appear to be wantonly courting his doom ; but he now said, 
with temper and firmness, that, after seven years' study, he 
never could find that a layman could be head of the church. 
Taking the position to mean, as we understand it, that the 
Sovereign, representing the civil power of the state, is su- 
preme, it may easily be assented to ; but in Henry's own 
sense, that he was substituted for the Pope, and that all the 
powers claimed by the Pope in ecclesiastical aS'airs were 
transferred to him, and might be lawfully exercised by him, 
it is contrary to reason, and is unfounded in Scripture, and 
would truly make any church Erastian in which it is re- 
cognised. I therefore cannot say, with Hume, that More 
wanted " a better cause, more free from weakness and super- 

The Lord Chancellor asked him if he was wiser than all the 
learned men in Europe. He answered, that almost the whole 
of Christendom was of his way of thinking. 

The Judges courteously oflered to listen to him if he had 
any thing more to say. He thus answered : " This farther 
only have I to say, my Lords, that like as the blessed apostle 
St. Paul was present and consenting to the death of the proto- 
martyr St. Stephen, keeping their clothes that stoned him 
to death, and yet they be now twain holy saints in heaven, 
and there shall continue friends together for ever ; so I verily 
trust, and shall therefore heartily pray, that, though your 
Lordships have been on earth my judges to condemnation, 
yet that we may hereafter meet in heaven merrily together 
to our everlasting salvation ; and God preserve you all, espe- 
cially my Sovereign Lord the King, and grant him faithful 
councillors." a 

Having taken leave of the Court in this solemn manner, 
he was conducted from the bar, an axe, with its edge now 

This speech, which seems to me to be so ing that More presumptuously compared him- 
ntn'ch in the true spirit of the Christian reli- self with St. Stephen. Tui-ner't Hist. vol. x. 
gion, is censured by Sharon Turner as show- p. 302, n. 


towards him, being carried before him. He was in the cus- 
tody of his particular friend, Sir AVilliam Kingston, who, as 
Lietitenant of the Tower, witnessed the last moments both of 
Wolsey and More, and extended to both of them all the 
kindness consistent with obedience to the orders of his stern 

They came back by water, and on their arrival at the 
r i\>wer wharf a scene awaited the illustrious convict more 
painful to his feelings than any he had yet passed through. 
Margaret, his best-beloved child, knowing that he must land 
there, watched his approach, that she might receive his last 
blessing : " whom, as soon as she had espied, she ran in- 
stantly unto him, and, without consideration or care of her- 
self, passing through the midst of the throng and guard of 
men, who with bills and halberds compassed him round, there 
openly, in the sight of them all, embraced him, took him 
about the neck, and kissed him, not able to say any word but 
' Oh, my father ! Oh, my father ! ' He gave her his fatherly 
blessing, telling her that ' whatsoever he should suffer, 
though he were innocent, it was not without the will of God, 
and that she must therefore be patient for her loss.' After 
separation she, all ravished with the entire love of her dear 
father, suddenly turned back again, ran to him as before, took 
him about the neck, and divers times kissed him most lov- 
ingly : a sight which made even the guard to weep and 
mourn." b So tender was the heart of that admirable woman, 
who had had the fortitude to encourage her father in his reso- 
lution to prefer reputation to life ! 

After this farewell he felt that the bitterness of death was 
over, and he awaited the execution of his sentence with a 
cheerfulness that, with severe censors, has brought some re- 
proach upou his memory. But it should be remembered that 
he had long foreseen the event, and with all humility, sin- 
cerity, and earnestness had submitted to all the observances 
which, according to his creed, were the fit preparations for 
the change he was to undergo. 

From the notion that more would be gained by his recanta- 

More, 276. Would not be held; but bursting thro' the 

c ROGKBS has pathetically interwoven with , throng, 

his theme the story of this Halberd and battle-axe, fass'd him o'er and 


" blushing maid. Then tum'd and wept, then sought him v 

WTio through the streets as thvoueh a desert before, 

stray'd, Believing she should see his face no more." 
A nd when her dear, dear fathet pass'd along Human Li/t- 



tion than his death, fresh attempts were made to bend his 
resolution ; and, these failing, a warrant was issued for his 
execution, all parts of the frightful sentence, as to the manner 
of it, being remitted, except beheading, in respect of his 
having filled the high office of Lord Chancellor. On receiv- 
ing this intelligence, he expressed a hope " that none of his 
friends might experience the like mercy from the King." 

The day before he was to suffer, he wrote with a piece of 
coal, the only writing implement now left to him, a farewell 
letter to his dear Margaret, containing blessings to all his 
children by name, with a kind remembrance even to one of 
her maids. Adverting to their last interview, at which the 
ceremonial which then regulated domestic intercourse had 
been so little observed, he says, " I never liked your manner 
towards me better than when you kissed me last, for I am 
most pleased when daughterly love and dear charity have no 
leisure to look to worldly courtesy." 

Early the next day, being Tuesday the 6th of July, 1535, d 
came to him his "singular good friend," Sir Thomas Pope, 
with a message from the King and Council that he should 
die before nine o'clock of the same morning. More having 
returned thanks for these " good tidings," Pope added, " the 
King's pleasure farther is, that you use not many words at 
your execution." " I did purpose," answered More, " to have 
spoken somewhat, but I will conform myself to the King's 
commandment, and I beseech you to obtain from him that my 
daughter Margaret may be present at my burial." " The 
King is already content that your wife, children, and friends 
shall have liberty to be present thereat." Pope now taking 
leave, wept bitterly; but More said to him, " Quiet yourself, 
Mr. Pope, and be not discouraged, for I trust we shall yet 
see each other full merrily, where we shall be sure to live 
and love together in eternal bliss." Then, to rally the spirits 
of his friend (in reference to a medical practice then in great 
vogue), as if he had been a fashionable doctor giving an 
opinion upon the case of a patient, he took his urinal in his 
hand, and, casting his water, said in a tone of drollery, " I 
see no danger but this man may live longer if it please the 
King." e 

d More's recent biographers, by errone- quite certain that although he was arraigned 

oualy fixing his trial on the 7th of May, make on the 7th of May, he was not tried till the 

an interval of two months instead of six days 1st of July. 1 St. Tr. 385. 

between that and his execution ; but it la * This anecdote, which so strikingly illus- 


Being conducted by Sir "William Kingston to the scaffold, 
it seemed weak, and lie had some difficulty in mounting it. 
Whereupon he said merrily, " Master Lieutenant, I pray you 
see me safe up, and for my coming down let me shift for 

Having knelt and pronounced the " Miserere " with great 
devotion, he addressed the executioner, to whom he gave an 
angel of gold, saying, " Pluck up thy spirit, man, and be not 
afraid to do thy office ; my neck is very short ; take heed, 
therefore, that thou strike not awry for saving thy honesty." 
^Yheu he had laid his head on the block he desired the exe- 
cutioner " to wait till he had removed his beard, for that had 
never offended his Highness." f One blow put an end to his 
sufferings and his pleasantries. 

What zealot shall venture to condemn these pleasantries 
after the noble reflections upon the subject by Addison, who 
was never suspected of being an infidel, a favourer of Ko- 
manism, or an enemy to the Protestant faith? " The inno- 
cent mirth which had been so conspicuous in his life did not 
forsake him to the last. His death was of a piece with his 
life ; there was nothing in it new, forced, or affected. He did 
not look upon the severing of his head from his body as a cir- 
cumstance which ought to produce any change in the dispo- 
sition of his mind, and as he died in a fixed and settled hope 
of immortality, he thought any unusual degree of sorrow and 
concern improper. 8 " 

"Lightly his bosom's Lori did sit 
Upon its throne, unsoften'd, undisnay'd 
By aught that mingled with the tragic scene 
Of pity and fear ; and his gay genius play'd 
With the inoffensive sword of native wit. 
Than the bare axe more luminous and keen.* h 

More's body was interred in the chapel of the Tower of 
London, but to strike terror into the multitude, his head 
stuck on a pole was placed on London Bridge. The affec- 
tionate and courageous Margaret, however, procured it to be 
taken down, preserved it as a precious relic during her life, 
and. at her death, ordered it to be laid with her in the same 
grave. 1 

trates the character of More and the manners t Wordsworth. 

of the age, is omitted by his modern bio- i " As for his head, it was set upon a pole on 

grapbers as indelicate ! London Bridge, where abiding about fourteen 

' M.rv. --'.. days, was then privily bought by the said 

6 Spectator, No. 349. Margaret, and by her for a time carefully pre- 

F 2 


When news of the execution was brought to Henry, who 
\vas at that time playing at tables with the Queen, turning 
his eyes upon her he said, " Thou art the cause of this man's 
death ; " and, rising immediately from his play, shut himself 
up in his chamber. But if he felt any remorse, recollecting 
the times when he put his arm round More's neck in the 
garden at Chelsea, or was instructed by him in the motion of 
the heavenly bodies from the house-top, or was amused by 
his jests at supper, the feeling was transitory ; for he not 
only placed the head where it must have been conspicuous to 
his own eye-, in passing between Whitehall and Greenwich, 
but he immediately expelled Lady More from the house at 
Chelsea, seizing whatever property More left behind him ; he 
even set aside assignments which, for the purpose of making 
some provision for the family, had been legally executed be- 
fore the commission of the alleged offence, thereby giving 
fresh evidence of his " mild and friendly temper! " k 

The letters and narrative of Erasmus diffused the story of 
More's fate over Europe, and every where excited horror 
against the English name. Henry's ministers were regarded 
at every Court with averted eyes, as the agents of a monster. 
Charles V. sent for Sir T. Elliot, the English Ambassador, 
and said to him, " We understand that the King, your master, 
has put to death his wise councillor, Sir Thomas More." Elliot, 
abashed, pretended ignorance of the event. " Well," said the 
Emperor, " it is true ; and this we will say, that if he had 
been ours, we should sooner have lost the best city in our 
dominions than so worthy a councillor." 

Holbein's portraits of More have made his features familiar to 
all Englishmen. According to his great grandson, he was 
of " a middle stature, well proportioned, of a pale complexion ; 

served in a leaden box, but afterwards, with in the wall, in a leaden box, something of the 

great devotion, 't was put Into a vault (the shape of a beehive, open in the front, and with 

burying-place of the Ropers), under a chapel an iron grating before it." Sir Thomas had 

joyning to St. Punstan's Church, in Canter- prepared a tomb for himself in his parish 

bury, where it doth yet remain, standing on church at Chelsea, which is still preserved 

the said box on the coffin of Margaret his with great veneration, although an empty 

daughter, buried there." Wood's Ath. Ox. cenotaph. 

vol. i. p. 86. The Rev. J. Bowes Bunce, a cler- k See Turn. Hist. Eng. vol. x. 333. We 

gyman at Canterbury, who had inspected the maybe amused by a defence of Richard III. 

repairs of St. Dunstan's Church in 1835, has but we can feel only indignation and dispi>t 

made me the following communication: at an apology for Henry V 111., whose aim, i- 

" Wishing to ascertain whether Sir T. More's ties are as well authenticated as t! 

skull was really there, I went down hi to the Robespierre, and are less excusable, lor 

vault, and found it still remaining in the place trial and execution of llore, see 1 St. 'I? 

where it was seen many years ago, in a niche 385-475. 


his hair of chestnut colour, his eyes grey, his countenance mild 
and cheerful ; his voice not very musical, but clear and dis- 
tinct ; his constitution, which was good originally, was never 
impaired by his way of living, otherwise than by too much 
study. His diet was simple and abstemious, never drinking 
any wine but when he pledged those who drank to him ; 
and rather mortifying, than indulging, his appetite in what 
he ate."' m 

His character, both in public and in private life, comes as 
near to perfection as our nature will permit. Some of his 
admirers have too readily conceded that the splendour of his 
great qualities was obscured by intolerance and superstition, 
and that he voluntarily sought his death by violating a law 
which, with a safe conscience, he might have obeyed. AVe 
Protestants must lament that he was not a convert to the 
doctrines of the Eeformation ; but they had as yet been very 
imperfectly exDounded in England, and they had produced 
erfects in foreign countries which might well alarm a man of 
constant mind. If he adhered conscientiously to the faith in 
which he had been educated, he can in no instance be blamed 
for the course he pursued. No good Roman Catholic could 
declare that the King's first marriage had been absolutely void 
from the beginning ; or that the King could be vested, by act 
of parliament, with the functions of the Pope, as Head of the 
Anglican Church. Can we censure him for submitting to loss 
of office, imprisonment, and death, rather than make such a de- 
claration ? He implicitly yielded to the law regulating the 
succession to the Crown ; and he offered no active oppo- 
sition to any other law ; only requiring that, on matters of 
opinion, he might be permitted to remain silent. 

The English Eeformation was a glorious event, for which 
we never can be sufficiently grateful to Divine Providence : 
but I own I feel little respect for those by whose instra 
mentality it was first brought about ; men generally swayed 
by their own worldly interests, and willing to sanction the 
worst passions of the tyrant to whom they looked for advance- 
ment. With all my Protestant zeal. I must feel a higher re- 
verence for Sir Thomas More than for Thomas Cromwell or for 

~ M --. ~-i. he professed to draw hi* creed. When 

* Although be adhered to most of what we Erasmus published bis admirable edition of 

oil " the errors of popery." it is delightful to the NEW TESTAJLLST thus More bursts 

find thai be was friendly to the circulation forth 

tf the Holy 5crij>tare3, and that from them " .Sanctum 


I am not permitted to enter into a critical examination of las 
writings ; but this sketch of his life would be very defective 
without some further notice of them. His first literary essay 
is supposed to have been the fragment which goes under 
his name as " the History of Edward V. and Eichard HI.," 
though some have ascribed it to Cardinal Morton, who pro- 
bably furnished the materials for it to his precocious page, 
having been intimately .mixed up with the transactions which 
it narrates. It has the merit of being the earliest historical 
composition in the English language ; and, with all its defects, 
several ages elapsed before there was much improvement 
dpon it, this being a department of literature in which 
England did not excel before the middle of the eighteenth 

More's " EPIGRAMMATA," though much admired in their day, 
not only in England, but all over Europe, are now only in- 
spected by the curious, who wish to know how the Latin lan- 
guage was cultivated in the reign of Henry VII. The collec- 
tion in its present form was printed at Basle from a manuscript 
supplied by Erasmus, consisting of detached copies made by 
various friends, without his authority or sanction. His own 
opinion of their merits is thus given in one of his epistles to 
Erasmus : "I was never much delighted with my Epigrams, 
as you are well aware ; and if they had not pleased yourself and 
certain others better than they pleased me, the volume would 
never have been published." The subjects of these effusions are 
very multifarious the ignorance of the clergy the foibles of 
the fair sex the pretensions of sciolists the tricks of astrologers 
the vices and follies of mankind, while they are prompted 
at times by the warmth of private friendship and the tender- 
ness of domestic affection. Many of them were written to 
dissipate the ennui of tedious and solitary travelling. When 
rapid movement on the surface of the earth by the power of 
steam was less thought of than the art of flying through the 
air with artificial wings, it was the practice of scholars trudging 
slowly on foot, or toiling along miry roads on a tired horse, to 
employ their thoughts on metrical composition. Erasmus 
framed in his own mind, without any assistance from writing 
materials, his poem upon OLD AGE while crossing the Alps into 
Italy, and he devised the plan of the " Encomium Moriae " 

' Sanctum opus, ct docti labor immortalis Tota igitur demptis versa est jam denuo 

ERASMI, mendis, 

tfrodit, et o popnlis commoda quanta vehit ! Atque novaCiiRisii lex nova luce iiiteU" 


during a journey to England, " ne totum hoc tempus quo equo 
fuit insidendum apovffoic et illiteratis fabulis tereretur." Thus 
More begins a beautiful address to Margaret, Elizabeth, Cicely, 
and John, " dulcissimis liberis," composed under circumstances 
which he graphically describes seemingly very unfavourable 
to the muses : 

" Quatuor una meos invisat epistola natos, 

Servat et incolumes a patre missa salus. 
Dum peragratur iter, pluvioque madescimus imbre, 

Dumque Into implicitus saepius haaret equus, 
Hoc tamen interea vobis excogito carmen, 

Quod gratum, qnanquam sit rude, spero fore. 
Collegisse animi licet hinc docnmenta paterni, 

Qnauto plus ocuils vos amet ipse suis : 
Quern non pntre solum, quern non male turbidns aer, 

Ksiguusque altas trans equus actus aquas, 
A vobis poterant divellere, quo minus omni 

Se memorem vestri comprobet esse loco ; 
Nam crebrb dum nutat equus casumque minatnr, 

Condere non versus desinit ille tamen." 

He then goes on in a very touching manner to remind them 
with what delight he had caressed them, and treated them 
with fruit and cakes and pretty clothes, and with what reluc- 
tance and gentleness he had flogged them. The instrument of 
punishment, the application of it, and the effects of it, are all 
very curious. 

" Inde est vos ego quod soleo pavisse placenta 

Mitia cum pulchris et dare malapiris. 
Inde quod et Serum textis omare solebam, 

Quod nunquam potui vos ego Here pati ; 
Scitis enim quam crebra dedi oscula, verbera rara, 

Flagrum pavonis non nisi cauda fuit. 
Hanc tamen admovi timideque et molliter ipsam, 

.Ye i-ibex teneras signet amara nates. 
Ah ! ferus est, dicique pater non ille meretnr, 

Qui lachrymas nati non fleat ipse sui." 

As a specimen of his satirical vein, I shall give his lines on 
an old acquaintance whom he had estranged (seemingly not to 
his very deep regret) by lending him a sum of money : 


" Ante meos quam credideram tibi, Tyndale, nummos, 

Quum libuit, licuit te mini ssepe fmi ; 
At nunc si tibi me fora anguius afferat ullns, 
Haud secus ac viso qni pa vet angue, fugis. 




Non fuit unquam animus, mihi crede, reposcere nummos ; 

Non fuit, at ne te perdere cogar, erit. 
Perdcre, te salvo, numrnos volo, perdore utmmque 

Nolo, sat alterutrum sit periisse mihi. 
Ergo tibi nummis, aut te mihi redde, retentis : 

Aut tu cum nummis te mihi redde meis. 
Quod tibi si neutrum placeat, nummi mihi saltern 

Fac redeant: at tu non rediture, vale." 

More's controversial writings, on which he bestowed most 
pains and counted most confidently for future fame, have long 
fallen into utter oblivion, the very titles of most of them having 

But the composition to which he attached no importance, 
which, as a jeu-d'esprit, occupied a few of his idle hours when 
he retired from the bar, and which he was with great diffi- 
culty prevailed upon to publish, would of itself have made 
his name immortal. Since the time of Plato, there had been 
no composition given to the world which, for imagination, for 
philosophical discrimination, for a familiarity with the prin- 
ciples of government, for a knowledge of the springs of human 
action, for a keen observation of men and manners, and for 
felicity of expression, could be compared to the Utopia. Al- 
though the word, invented by More, has been introduced into 
the language, to describe what is supposed to be impracticable 
and visionary, the work (with some extravagance and absur- 
dities, devised perhaps with the covert object of softening the 
offence which might have been given by his satire upon the 
abuses of his age and country) abounds with lessons of practical 
wisdom. If I do not, like some, find in it all the doctrines of 
sound political economy illustrated by Adam Smith, I can dis- 
tinctly point out in it the objections to a severe penal code, 
which have at last prevailed, after they had been long urged 

The following spirited translation is 
by the accomplished author of PHILOMO- 

KUS : 

" Tyndal, there was once a time, 

A pleasant time of old, 
Before thou cam'st a-borrowing, 
Before I lent thee go[d ; 

" When scarce a single day did close 

But thou and I, my friend, 
Were wont, as often as I chose, 
A social hour to spend. 

" But now, if e'er perchance we meet. 

Anon I see thee take 
Quick to thy heels adown the street, 
Like one who sees a snake. 

' Believe me, for the dirty pelf 

I never did intend 
To usk ; and yet, spite of myself, 
I must, or lose my I'ricnd. 

' To lose my money 1 consent, 

So that I lose not thte ; 

If one or other of you went, 

Contented might I be. 

' With or without the gold, return, 

1 take thee nothing loath ; 
But, sooth, it makes my spirit yearn 
Thus to resign you both. 

' If neither please, do thou at least 

Send me the money due ; 

Nor wonder if t<> thee 1 send 

A long and last adieu." 


in vain by Eomilly and Mackintosh ; and as this subject is in- 
timately connected with the histoiy of the law of England, I 
hope I may be pardoned for giving the following extract to 
show the law reforms which Sir Thomas More would have 
introduced when Lord Chancellor, had he not been three 
centuries in advance of his age : He represents his great tra- 
veller who had visited Utopia, and describes its institu- 
tions, as saying. " There happened to be at table an English 
lawyer, who took occasion to run out in high commenda- 
tion of the severe execution of thieves in his coTintry. where 
might be seen twenty at a time dangling from one gibbet. 
Nevertheless, he observed, it puzzled him to understand, 
since so few escaped, there were yet so many thieves left 
who were still found robbing in all places. p Upon this I 
said with boldness, there was no reason to wonder at the 
matter, since this way of punishing thieves was neither just 
in itself nor for the public good ; for as the severity was 
too great, so the remedy was not effectual ; simple theft was 
not so great a crime that it ought to cost a man his life ; 
and no punishment would restrain men from robbing who 
could find no other way of livelihood. In this, not only 
you. but a great part of the world besides, imitate ignorant 
and cruel schoolmasters, who are readier to flog their pupils 
than to teach them. Instead of these dreadful punishments 
enacted against thieves, it would be much better to make 
provision for enabling those men to live by their industry 
whom you drive to theft and then put to death for the crime 
you cause." 

He exposes the absurdity of the law of forfeiture in case of 
larceny, which I am ashamed to say, notwithstanding the 
efforts I have myself made in parliament to amend it, still 
disgraces our penal code, so that for an offence for which, as a 
full punishment, sentence is given of imprisonment for a month, 
the prisoner loses all his personal property, which is never 
thought of by the Court in pronouncing the sentence. It was 
otherwise among the Utopians. " Those that are found" guilty 

P " Coepit accurate laudare rigidam illam and secretaries of state, who in my early 

jnstitiam quae turn illic exercebatur in fures, youth eulogised the bloody penal code which 

qnos passim narrabat nonnnnqnam suspendi then disgraced England, and predicted that, 

Tiginti in nna cruce, atque eo vehementius if it were softened, there would be no safety 

flicebat se mirari cum tarn pauci elaberentnr for life or property. They would not even, 

snpplicio, quo malo fato fieret (how the devil like their worthy predecessor here recorded, 

it happened) uti tarn multi tamen ubique admit its inefficiency to check the commission 

grassarentur." This lawyer reminds me ex- of crime, 
ceedingly of the attorney-generals, judges, 


of theft among them are bound to make restitution to the owner, 
and not to the prince. If that which was stolen is no more in 
being, then the goods of the thief are estimated, and restitution 
being made out of them, the remainder is given to his wife 
and children." 

I cannot refrain from giving another extract to prove that, 
before the Reformation, he was as warm a friend as Locke to 
the principles of religious toleration. He says that the great 
legislator of Utopia made a law that every man might be of 
what religion he pleased, and might endeavour to draw others 
to it by the force of argument, and by amicable and modest 
ways, without bitterness against those of other opinions. " This 
law was made by Utopus not only for preserving the public 
peace, which he saw suffered much by daily contentions and 
irreconcilable heats, but because he thought it was required by 
a due regard to the interest of religion itself. He judged it not 
fit to decide rashly any matter of opinion, and he deemed it 
foolish and indecent to threaten and terrify another for the 
purpose of making him believe what did not appear to him to 
be true." q 

More had in his visits to Flanders then far more advanced 
than England in refinement as well as in wealth acquired a 
great fondness for pictures, and he was desirous to introduce a 
taste for the fine arts among his countrymen. He was the 
patron of Holbein, and it was through his introduction that 
this artist was taken into the service of Henry VIII. Hence 
the pains bestowed on Holbein's portraits of the More family, 
which are the most delightful of his works. More was like- 
wise acquainted with Quintin Matsys, the celebrated painter of 
Antwerp ; and he describes, both in prose and verse, a piece 
executed fc r him by this artist. It represented his two most 
intimate friends, Erasmus and Peter Giles, the former in the 
act of commencing his " Paraphrase on the Romans," and the 
other holding in his hand a letter from More, addressed to him 

1 His most wonderful anticipation may be quibus prandium ineunt, atque a prandio 

thought that of Lord Ashley's factory mea- duas pomeridianas horas, quam interquieve- 

sure by " the Six Hours' Bill," which regu- runt, tres deinde rursus labori datas coena 

lated labour in Utopia. " Nee ab summo mane claudunt. Etenlm quod sex duntaxat horas 

tamen, ad multam usque noctem perpetuo in opere sunt, fieri fortasse potest, ut-inopiam 

labore, velut jumenta fatigatus; nam eaplus aliquam putes necessarian! rerum sequi. 

quam servilis asrumnaest; quae tamen ubique Quod tarn longe abcst ut accidat, ut id tern- 

fere opiflcum vita est exceptls Utopiensibus, poris ad omnium rerum copiam, quas quidem 

qui cum in horas viginti-quatuor aequales ad vitee vel necessitatem reqniranturvclcom- 

diem connumeratft nocte dividant, sex dun- moditatem, non sufficiat modo sed supcrsit 

taxat operi deputant, tres ante meridiem, a etiani." Vtop. vol. ii. 68. 


in a fac-simile representation of the handwriting of his corre- 

It is to be regretted that we have so few specimens of More's 
oratory ; his powers as a debater called forth this eulogium 
from Erasmus : " His eloquent tongue so well seconds his fer- 
tile invention, that no one speaks better when suddenly called 
forth. His attention never languishes, his mind is always be- 
fore his words ; his memory has all its stock so fumed into 
ready money, that without hesitation or delay it supplies what- 
ever the occasion may require." ' 

But by no grave quality does he seem to have made such an 
impression on his contemporaries as he did by his powers of 
wit and humour. I therefore introduce a few of his pointed 
sayings beyond those which have occurred in the narrative of 
his life. He observed, that ' to aim at honour in this world is 
to set a coat of arms over a prison gate." A covetous old man 
he compared to a thief who steals when he is on his way to the 
gallows." He enforced the giving of alms by remarking, that 
"a prudent man, about to leave his native land for ever, would 
send his substance to the far country to which he journeyeth." 
Sir Thomas Manners, with whom he had been very familiar 
when a boy, was created Earl of Kutland about the same time 
that More was made Lord Chancellor, and, being much puffed 
up by his elevation, treated with superciliousness his old 
schoolfellow, who still remained a simple knight, but would 
not allow himself to be insulted. " Honores mutant Mores," 
cried the tipstart Earl. "The proper translation of which." 
said the imperturbable Chancellor, " is, Honours change 


He once, while Chancellor, by his ready wit saved himself 
from coming to an untimely end : " He was wont to recreate 
himself on the flat top of his gate house at Chelsea, from 
which there was a most pleasant prospect of the Thames and 
the fields beyond. It happened one time that a Toni-of- 
Bedlarn came up to him, and had a mind to have thrown him 
from the battlements, saying, ' Leap, Tom, leap.' The Chan- 

' Philomorus, 48. by Erasmus, the latter said, " Ant tu es 

Erasm. Epist. As they had been person- Morus ant Xullus," to which the answer was, 

ally known to each other from the time when " Aut tu es Erasmus aut Diabolns." 

More was an undergraduate at Oxford, there In 1523 Erasmus sent his portrait to More 

can be no truth in the story that the two from Basle, and More in return sent Erasmus 

having met at the Lord Mayor's table, being the famous picture by Holbein of himself and 

strangers except by reputation, and con- his family, including the Fool, which is still 

versing in Latin, More having sharply com- preserved in the town-hall at Basle 
kited some latitndinarian paradox sported 


cellor was in his gown, and besides ancient, and not able to 
struggle with such a strong fellow. My Lord had a little dog 
with him : said he, ' Let us throw the dog down, and see what 
sport that will be.' So the dog was thrown over. ' This is 
very fine sport,' said my Lord ; ' fetch him up and try once 
more.' While the madman was going down, my Lord fastened 
the door, and called for help ; but ever after kept the door 
shut." ' 

He did not even despise a practical joke. While he held 
his City office he used regularly to attend the Old Bailey 
Sessions, where there was a tiresome old Justice, "who was 
wont to chide the poor men that had their purses cut for not 
keeping them more warily, saying, that their negligence was 
the cause that there were so many cut-purses brought thither." 
To stop his prosing, More at last went to a celebrated cut- 
purse then in prison, who was to be tried next day, and pro- 
mised to stand his friend if he would cut this Justice's purse 
while he sat on the bench trying him. The thief being ar- 
raigned at the sitting of the Court next morning, said he could 
excuse himself sufficiently if he were but permitted to speak 
in private to one of the bench. He was bid to choose whom 
he would, and he chose that grave old Justice, who then had 
his pouch at his girdle. The thief stepped up to him, and 
while he rounded him in the ear, cunningly cut his purse, and, 
taking his leave, solemnly went back to his place. From the 
agreed signal, More knowing that the deed was done, proposed 
a small subscription for a poor needy fellow who had been 
acquitted, beginning by himself setting a liberal example. 
The old Justice, after some hesitation, expressed his willing- 
ness to give a trifle, but finding his purse cut away, expressed 
the greatest astonishment, as he said he was sure he had it 
when he took seat in Court that morning. More replied, in a 
pleasant manner, "What! will you charge your brethren of 
the bench with felony ?" The Justice becoming angry and 
ashamed, Sir Thomas called the thief and desired him to 
deliver tip the purse, counselling the worthy Justice hereafter 
not to be so bitter a censurer of innocent men's negligence, 
since he himself could not keep his purse safe when presiding 
as a judge at the trial of cut-purses." 

t Aubrey's Letters, vol. iii. 462. During the trial he happened to say alond 

u Sii John Sylvester, Recorder of London, that he Iiad forgot to bring his watch with 

was in my time robbed of his watch by a him. The thief being acquitted for want of 

thief whom he tried at the Old Bailey, evidence, went with the Recorder's love to 


I am, indeed, reluctant to take leave of Sir Thomas More, 
not only from his agreeable qualities and extraordinary merit, 
but from my abhorrence of the mean, sordid, unprincipled 
Chancellors who succeeded him, and made the latter half of 
the reign of Henry VIII. the most disgraceful period in our 

Lady Sylvester, and requested that she would 
immediately send his watch to him by a 
constable he had ordered to fetch it. 

Soon after I was called to the Bar, and had 
published the first N'o. of my " Nisi Prius 
Reports," while defending a prisoner in the 
Crown Court, I had occasion to consult my 
client, and I went to the dock, where I con- 
versed with him for a minute or two. I got 
him off, and he was immediately discharged, 
an", my joy was soon disturbed ; putting iny 

hand into my pocket to pay the " Junior '' of 
the circuit my quota for yesterday's dinner, I 
found that my purse was gone, containing 
several bank notes, the currency of that day. 
The incident causing mnch merriment, it 
was communicated to Lord Chief Baron Mac- 
donald, the presiding Judge, who said, 
"What! does Mr. Campbell think that nc 
one is entitled to take note* in Court cxcep; 




WHEN Sir Thomas More resigned the Great Seal, it was de- 
Ma 20 li vere( l to Sir THOMAS AUDLEY, afterwards Lord 
1532. ' Audley, with the title, first of Lord Keeper, and 
Jan. 26, then of Lord Chancellor." There was a striking 
contrast, in almost all respects, between these two 
individuals, the successor of the man so distinguished for 
genius, learning, patriotism, and integrity, having only com- 
mon-place abilities, sufficient, with cunning and shrewdness, to 
raise their possessor in the world, having no acquired know- 
ledge beyond what was professional and official, having first 
recommended himself to promotion by defending, in the House 
of Commons, the abuses of prerogative, and for the sake of 
remaining in office, being ever willing to submit to any degra- 
dation, and to participate in the commission of any crime. 
He held the Great Seal for a period of above twelve years, 
during which, to please the humours of his capricious and 
tyrannical master, he sanctioned the divorce of three Queens, 
the execution of two of them on a scaffold, the judicial 
murder of Sir Thomas More, Bishop Fisher, and many others, 
who, animated by their example, preferred death to infamy, 
the spoliation of the Church and a division of the plunder 
among those who planned the robbery, and reckless changes 
of the established religion, which left untouched all the errors 
of Popery, with the absurdity of the King being constituted 
Pope, and which involved in a common massacre those who 
denied transubstantiation and those who denied the King's 
spiritual supremacy. Luckily for Audley, he has not much 
attracted the notice of historians ; but there can b no doubt 
that he had a considerable influence upon the events which 
disgraced the latter half of this reign ; and we must now 
inquire into his origin, and try to trace the steps by which 
he reached, and the means by which he retained, his "bad 

* Rot. Cl. 24 Hen. 8, m. 24. 


Thomas Audley was born in the year 1488, at the Hay 
House, in the tenure of the Prior of Colne. in Essex. 7 His 
family was ancient, though, it seems, not entitled to tear arms. 
His ancestor, Ralph Audley, having been seated at Earl's 
Colne in that county as early as the 28th of Henry YI., after- 
wards became possessed of the Hay House, which his descend- 
ants continued to inhabit, and which was demolished only a 
few years ago. But it would appear that they were only of 
the class of yeomen, and that the Chancellor was the first of 
them who could boast of heraldic honours. 1 

He had a slender patrimony, and he rose from his own 
industry and selfish arts. Some accounts represent, that after 
an indifferent school education he was sent to Magdalene 
College, Cambridge, of which he afterwards became a bene- 
factor ; but the records, both of Oxford and Cambridge, have 
in vain been searched for his name, and it is doubtful whether 
he ever had the advantage of being at a university. "\Vhile 
still a youth he was entered of the Inner Temple, where he 
devoted himself very steadily to the study of the common law, 
and he is said to have discharged the duties of "Autumn 
Reader " to the society with some reputation. Being called to 
the degree of outer barrister, he early rose into considerable 
practice from his skill in the technicalities of his profession, 
and his eager desire to please his clients. He was of a 
comely and majestic presence ; and by his smooth manners 
and systematic anxiety to give offence to no one, he 
acquired general popularity, although known to those who 
had studied his character to be unprincipled, false, and de- 

In the 12th year of the reign of Henry VIII. he was called 
to the dearee of Serieant-at-Law, and, flourishing 

TT- TT ft T- 1- f l-H 1 A - D - 1523. 

in \\estminster Hall, he became eager for political 
advancement. Parliament so seldom met during this reign, 
that aspiring lawyers had but rare opportunities of gaining 
distinction either as patriots or courtiers. But a parliament 
being at last called in 1523, Audley contrived to get himself 

* "A.D. 1516. Thomas Audley nauis in riage, and he not willing to ns or bere annes 

Colne in Com. Essex. Burgeus," Oath that should redound unto damage or reprufe 

Book of Corporation of Colchester. of any of the same name or consangninite, or 

1 The original grant of Arms to Lord of any other person, he desired the following 

Audley, dated 18th March, 153S, still pre- coat to be assigned to him, &c." The arm* 

served at Audley End, recites " that not being differ from those borne by families of the 

tontynned in nobiiite berytige armes and de- game name, but the motto " Garde (a Foy ' 

scended of ancient stocbe by his auncestors belonged to Touchet, Lord Audley. 
and predecessors by consangmmte and mar- 


returned a burgess to the House of Commons, in the hope 
of now making his fortune. This was the parliament at which 
Sir Thomas More was Speaker of the House of Commons, 
and gained such distinction by preserving the privileges of 
the House, and resisting the exorbitant subsidy demanded 
by Wolsey. Audley strongly took the side of the Court, de- 
fended all the Cardinal's proceedings, and bitterly inveighed 
against all his opponents as disloyal subjects and favourers of 
heresy. When the lamentation was uttered by Wolsey that 
More was not at Rome instead of being made Speaker, 11 regret 
was no doubt felt that Audley had not been placed in the 
chair ; and a resolution was formed, that he should have the 
Court influence in his favour on a future occasion. In the 
meanwhile he was made Attorney to the Duchy of Lancaster, 
and a King's Serjeant. b 

In the succeeding interval of six years, during which no 
parliament sat, he distinguished himself by abetting all the 
illegal expedients resorted to for raising money on the people. 
No Hampden arose to contest, in a Court of Justice, the legality 
of the commissions issued under the Great Seal, for levying 
the sixth of every man's goods ; but they excited such deep 
discontents, that a rebellion was apprehended, and they were 
recalled. Against such an arbitrary sovereign as Henry, with 
such tools as Audley, the only remedy for public wrongs was 

On the question of the divorce, Audley was equally subser- 
vient to the King's wishes ; and he was so high in his favour, 
as not to be without hopes of the Great Seal on Wolsey's dis- 
grace. But though no doubt was entertained of his pliancy, 
his character for integrity was now very low ; and fears being 
entertained that he would bring discredit upon the govern- 
ment, the more prudent course was adopted of preferring Sir 
Thomas More. 

However, More being appointed to the Great Seal, Audley 
Oct 1529 was namec ^ ki s successor as Chancellor of the Duchy 
of Lancaster ; and, at the meeting of parliament, in 
the beginning of November, 1529, on the recommendation of 
the Court, he was elected Speaker of the House of Com- 

Being presented at the bar of the House of Lords, he made 
an eloquent oration, consisting of two points : first, " that he 
much praised the King for his equity and justice, mixed with 

a See ante, vol. i., p. 404. > Orig. Jur. 83. 


mercy and pity;" secondly, "he endeavoured to disable him- 
self, for want of sense, learning, and discretion, for the taking 
of so high an office, beseeching the King to cause his Com- 
mons to resort again to their House, and there to choose 
another Speaker." To this the Chancellor, by the King's com- 
mand, replied with the usual courtesy. " that whereas he 
sought to disable himself in sense and learning, his own 
elaborate discourse there delivered testified to the contrary ; 
and, touching his discredit and other qualities, the King him- 
self had well known him and his doings, since he was in his 
service, to be both wise and discreet ; and so as an able man 
he accepted him, and admitted him Speaker." c 

The King's designs to break with Eome were strongly sup- 
ported by Audley, and were well received by the Commons : 
but Fisher, Bishop of Eochester, made a strong speech against 
them in the Lords, in which he said, that " our Holy M other, 
the Church, was about to be brought, like a bondmaid, into 
thraldom ; and that want of faith was the true cause of the 
mischiefs impending over the State." When the Commons 
heard of this speech, they conceived great indignation against 
the Bishop ; and not suspecting that there was any irregularity 
in noticing what was said in debate by a member of the other 
House, they sent Audley, the Speaker, attended by a depu- 
tation of their body, to complain of it to the King, and to let 
his Majesty know " how grievously they thought themselves 
injured thereby, for charging them with lack of faith as if they 
had been infidels or heretics." 

The King was well pleased with this interference, which 
he had most likely prompted, and sent for the Bishop of 
Eochester to rebuke him for the licence he had used to 
the displeasure of the Commons. The courageous Prelate 
answered, " that having seat and voice in parliament, he 
spake his mind freely in defence of the Church, which he 
saw daily injured and oppressed by the common people, 
whose office it was not to judge of her manners, much less 
to reform them." The King advised him " to use his words 
more temperately." d 

Audley had more difficulty, as Speaker, to restrain the im- 
petuosity of a party in the Commons, who, having imbibed the 
new doctrines, wished in earnest for a religious refonnation. 
Trimming his own profession of faith by the personal wishes 
of his master, he laboured to preserve things in their present 

c 1 Parl. Hist 498. d Ibid. 493. 

TOL. N. G 


condition, with the exception of transferring the power of the 
Pope to the King. 

During the session of parliament which began in April, 
1532, there was displayed among the Commons a strong 
sympathy with Queen Catherine, which the Speaker found it 
532 ver y Difficult to restrain within decent bounds. He 
was compelled to put the question "that an humble 
address should be presented to the King, praying that his Ma- 
jesty would be graciously pleased to take back the Queen, and 
live with her as his wife, according to the admonition of his 
Holiness the Pepe." We have no account of the debate, which, 
however guardedly conducted, must have been most offensive 
to the King. The moment he heard of it, in a rage he sent 
for Audley, and said to him, " That he wondered any amongst 
them should meddle in businesses which could not properly be 
determined in their House, and with which they had no 
concern." His Majesty then condescended to reason the 
matter with the Speaker, who was to report to the House 
" that he was only actuated by a regard for the good of his 
soul ; that he wished the marriage with Catherine were unob- 
jectionable, but, unfortunately, the Doctors of the Universities 
having declared it contrary to the word of God, he could do 
no less than abstain from her company ; that wantonness of 
appetite was not to be imputed to him, for being now in his 
forty-first year, it might justly be presumed that such motions 
were not so strong in him as formerly ; that, except in Spain 
and Portugal, no one was allowed to marry two sisters; but 
that for a brother to marry a brother's wife was a thing so 
abhorred among all nations, that he never heard that any 
Christian did so except himself; whereat his conscience was 
sorely troubled." f 

Audley succeeded in convincing the King that he was 
not personally to blame in the stirring of the marriage 
question in the House ; and he executed the commission 
with which he was now intmsted to his Majesty's entire satis- 

e This is one among many proofs that oc- powers seems likewise to have prevailed 

cur, showing that formerly old age was sup- among the Romans in the time of Augusum. 

posed to come on much sooner than at Horace says, 

present; but our ancestors began life very "Fuce suspicarl, 

early, often marrying nominally when in- Cujus octav:tni trepHlavit a?tas 

Cants, and actually at fourteen, and sub- Cliudere lustrum." 

Voting themselves to very little restraint of f l p arl> Hist 51g _ 
way kind. Tbis early decay of the physical 


So much was Henry pleased with his dexterity in managing 
the House on this occasion, that he was soon after sent for 
again to AVhitehall, to consult about preparing the members 
for a final rupture with Kome ; and he was instructed to inform 
the House that " his Majesty found that the clergy of his 
realm were but half his subjects, or scarce so much: every 
Bishop or Abbot, at the entering into his dignity, taking an 
oath to the Pope derogatory to that of fidelity to his Sovereign, 
which contradiction he desired his parliament to consider and 
take away." The Speaker, at the next sitting of the House, 
having delivered this message, directed the two oaths to be 
read by the Clerk at the table, and pointed out the manner in 
which they clashed so forcibly, that the Commons were ready 
to renounce the Pope's supremacy whenever this step should 
be deemed expedient. 

Audley was now such a decided favourite at Court that he 
was destined to be the successor of Sir Thomas More, when 
the contemplated measures for the King's new marriage and 
separation from Rome determined that virtuous man to resign 
the Great Seal. However, a difficulty arose from the disad- 
vantage it would occasion to the King's service if he were 
immediately removed from the House of Commons, where his 
influence and dexterity had been found so useful. The opinion 
then was. that if he were made Lord Chancellor, he must im- 
mediately vacate his seat in the House of Commons, and take 
his place on the woolsack as President of the House of Lords ; 
but that merely as Lord Keeper of the Great Seal he might 
continue a member of the House of Commons, as if he were 
Chancellor of the Exchequer, or were appointed to any other 
judicial office usually held by a commoner. 

Accordingly Sir Thomas* More, having surrendered the 
office of Chancellor on the 16th of May, 1532, and the Seal 
having remained four days in the King's hands, enclosed in a 
bag under the private seal of the late Chancellor, on the 20th 
of May his Majesty opened the bag and took out the Seal, 
and after inspecting it, delivered it. with the title of Lord 
Keeper, to Audley, on whom he then conferred the honour of 
knighthood. 3 

8 The entry on the Gose Roll, after a very Dmm Custodem Magni Sigilli Regii vocari 

timrmstantial account of the prior proceed- nuncupari et appellari ac omnia et singnla 

ings, thus goes on : " Et post in?pecconem facre et exercere tarn In Cur. Cancellar. dci. 

Ulam idem sigillum dilco sibi Thome Audley Dn- Regis qm. in Cama Stellata et Consilio 

tradidit et deliberavit col tnnc custodiam <gnsdem Dni. Regis prout Cancellarine AngL 

dci. slgilli sui comisit Ipsmqne Thomam facre et exre solebat, declare vit et ejpy^fM 

G 2 


On Friday, the 5th of June, being the first day of Trinity 
Term, after a grand procession to Westminster Hall, he was 
sworn in and installed in the Court of Chancery, the Duke 
of Norfolk, who seems always to have acted as master of the 
ceremonies on such occasions, delivering an oration, in which, 
after a becoming compliment to the late Chancellor, he highly 
lauded the abilities and good qualities of the new Lord 
Keeper. There is no trace to be found of the reply, but we 
need not doubt that it turned upon the conscientious feelings, 
humanity, and love of true religion which ever dwelt in the 
royal bosom. 

On the 6th of September following, on account of a change 
in the King's style, the old Great Seal was broken, 
and a new one delivered to Audley, still with the 
title of Lord Keeper. 11 But on the 26th of January, 1533, 
" about the hour of two in the afternoon, in a chamber near 
the chapel in the King's manor of East Greenwich, in the 
presence of the Duke of Norfolk, the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, the Earl of Wiltshire, the Bishop of Winchester, and 
other Councillors, the King, having ordered the Great Seal to 
be taken from the bag in which it was inclosed, received it 
into his hands, and having retained it for the space of a quar- 
ter of an hour, divers weighty reasons moving his Majesty 
thereto, as he then openly declared, he being well pleased 
with the faithful services of Sir Thomas Audley as Keeper oi 
the Great Seal, then and there constituted him his Chancellor 
of England."' 

Rot. Claus. 24 H. 8, m. 24, in dorso. 

Angliae ferentem ac quandam rosaraf in 


altera manu signum Crucis portantem ncc- etremanet" 
non ex utroque latere prefati Dni. Regis 

* This distinction must then have been in high repute, as it was not conferred on Audley 
when made Chancellor of the Duchy or Speaker of the House of Commons, and not till 
the Great Seal was delivered to him. He was not raised to the peerage till six years after. 

f It would be curious to know whether the rose was gules or argent. If the King regarded 
bi? thle by descent, he roust have preferred the white rose. 


Sir Humphrey Wingfield was chosen Speaker of the House 
of Commons in his pkce ; and henceforth till his death in 
1544, the Chancellor prompted and presided over the ini- 
quitous measures brought forward in the Upper House, and 
was the chief agent in the homicides committed by the in- 
strumentality of legal process. 

In the proceedings of parliament, and in contemporary 
writers, J do not discover any censure of him as an Equity 
Judge. The probability is, that, being regularly trained to 
the profession of the law, he did his duty efficiently ; and 
that where the Crown was not concerned, and he had no 
corrupt bias to mislead him, he decided fairly. As a 
politician, he is bitterly condemned by all who mention his 

At the conclusion of the session in which the act was 
passed for recognising the King's marriage with Anne Boleyn, 
and settling the succession to the Crown on their issue," 
the King being seated on the throne, Audley delivered a warm 
panegyric upon it, saying that " upon the due observance of 
it the good* and happiness of the kingdom chiefly depended." 
He then intimated that the King, by letters patent, had ap- 
pointed the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of Canterbury, 
the Duke of Norfolk, and the Duke of Suffolk, Commissioners 
to swear the Lords and Commons, and all others at their 
discretion, to observe the act. They immediately, in the 
King's presence, took the oath themselves, and administered 
it to the members of both Houses, introducing into it 
words respecting the original nullity of the King's first mar- 
riage and the King's supremacy which the statute did not 

We have already seen the part taken by Lord Chancellor 
Audley. along with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the 
Duke of Norfolk, in trying to force the oath upon Sir Thomas 
More, and committing him close prisoner to the Tower of 
London for refusing to take it : the acts which he procured 
to be passed for the perpetual imprisonment of More and 
Fisher, and for making the denial of the King's supremacy 
high treason ; and his various attempts, by going personally 
to the Tower, to entrap More into such a denial of the Kind's 
supremacy as might be made the pretence for putting him to 
death as a traitor. 

Atidley now issued, under the Great Seal, a special com- 

k 25 Bea. 8 r 22 m Ante, p. 54 et seq. 


mission for the trial of Fisher and More, placing himself 

153- a ^ ^ ie nea< ^ f *t. As ^ ess skill was apprehended 
from the aged prelate in defending himself, and there 
was some colour of a case against him from the infamous arts 
of Eich, the Solicitor General, the wary Chancellor judged it 
most expedient to begin with him, although the conviction of 
the Ex-Chancellor was deemed an object of still greater im- 
portance. Accordingly, on the 17th of June, Audley, with the 
other Commissioners, being seated in the Court of King's 
Bench in Westminster Hall, Fisher, from age and weakness 
hardly able to support himself, was placed at the bar, charged 
with having traitorously attempted to deprive the King of his 
title, by maliciously speaking these words : " The Kyng our 
Soveraign Lord is not Supreme Hedd yn Erthe of the Churche 
of Englande." n 

The only witness for the Crown was Eich, the Solicitor 
General, who, although he was supposed not to have ex- 
ceeded the truth in stating what had passed between him 
and the prisoner, covered himself with almost equal infamy 
as when he was driven to commit perjury on the trial of 
More. He had the baseness voluntarily to swear, that, in 
a private conversation he had held with the Bishop when 
he paid him a friendly visit in the Tower, he heard the 
Bishop declare " that he believed in his conscience, and by 
his learning he assuredly knew, that the King neither was 
nor by right could be supreme Head in Earth of the Church 
of England." 

Fisher, without the assistance of counsel, which could not 
be permitted against the Crown, objected to Audley and the 
other Judges that this declaration ought not to be received 
in evidence, or be considered as supporting the charge in 
the indictment, considering the circumstances under which it 
was elicited from him. " Mr. Eich," said he, " I cannot but 
marvel to hear you come and bear witness against me of these 
words. This man, my Lords, came to me from the King, as 
he said, on a secret message, with commendations from his 
Grace declaring what good opinion his Majesty had of me, 
and how sorry he was of my trouble, and many more words 
not now fit to be recited, as I was not only ashamed to hear 
them, but also knew right well that I could no way deserve 
them. At last he broke to me the matter of the King's su- 
premacy, telling me that the King, for better satisfaction of 

26 Hen. 8, c. 1, 13. 


ais own conscience, had sent him unto me in this secret 
m-inner to know my full opinion in the matter for the great 
affiance he had in me more than any other. ^Vhen 1 had 
heard this message, I put him in mind of the new act of parlia- 
ment, which standing in force as it does, might thereby en- 
danger me very much in case 1 should utter any thing against 
its provisions. To that he made answer, ' that the King 
willed him to assure me, upon his honour, and on the word 
of a King, that whatsoever 1 should say unto him by this his 
secret messenger, I should abide no peril for it, although my 
words were ever so directly against the statute, seeing it was 
only a declaration of my mind secretly as to his own person.' 
And the messenger gave me his solemn promise that he never 
would mention my words to living soul, save the King alone. 
Now. therefore, my Lords, seeing it pleased the King's Ma- 
jesty to send to me thus secretly to know my poor advice and 
opinion, which I most gladly was and ever will be ready to 
offer to him when so commanded, methinks it very hard to 
allow the same as sufficient testimony against me to prove me 
guilty of high treason." 

Eich did not contradict this statement, observing only, 
that " he said no more to him than his Majesty commanded," 
and then, as counsel for the Crown, argued that assuming the 
statement to be true, it was no discharge in law against his 
Majesty for a direct violation of the statute. 

Audley ruled, and the other Judges concurred, " that this 
message or promise from the King neither did nor could, by 
rigour of law, discharge him, but in so declaring his mind and 
conscience against the supremacy, yea, though it were at the 
King's own request or commandment, he committed treason 
by the stattite, and nothing could save him from death but the 
King's pardon." 

Fisher still argued, that as the statute only made it treason 
maliciously to deny the King's supremacy, he could not be 
guilty by merely expressing an opinion to the King himself 
by his own order ; to which Audley answered, that malice 
did not mean spite or ill-will in the vulgar sense, but was an 
inference of law ; for if a man speak against the King's supre- 
macy by any manner of means, that speaking is to be under- 
stood and taken in law as malicious. 

The right reverend prisoner then took an objection, which 
*eems to have rather pu?zled the Court. that here there was 
but one witness, which in treason is insufficient. 


Audley and the Judges, after some hesitation, answered, 
that as this was a case in which the King was personally con- 
cerned, the rule requiring two witnesses did not apply ; that 
the jury would consider the evidence, the truth of which was 
not disputed, and as they believed or disbelieved it the pri- 
soner should be acquitted or condemned. " The case was so 
aggravated to the jury, by my Lord Chancellor making it so 
heinous and dangerous a treason, that they easily perceived 
what verdict they must return ; otherwise heap such danger 
on their own heads as none of them were willing to undergo." 
Yet many of his hearers, and some of his judges, were melted 
to tears, to see such a venerable father of the church in dan- 
ger of being sentenced to a cruel death upon such evidence 
given, contrary to all faith, and the promise of the King 

The jury having withdrawn for a short time, brought in 
a verdict of guilty. The Bishop prayed to God to forgive 
them; but the Lord Chancellor, "framing himself to a so- 
lemnity of countenance," passed sentence of death upon him 
in the revolting terms used on such occasions ; ordering 
that his head and four quarters should be set up where 
the King should appoint, and piously concluding with a 
prayer, that God might have mercy on his soul. This 
wicked Judge had not the apology of having any taste 
for blood himself, and he would probably have been much 
better pleased to have sustained the objections, and directed 
an acquittal; he was merely a tool of the tyrant, who. 
hearing that Pope Paul III. had sent Fisher a Cardinal's hat 
exclaimed, " I will take care that he has not a head to put it 

Audley's demeanour on the trial of Sir Thomas More, 
which took place a fortnight afterwards, we have already com- 

The merit has been ascribed to him of favouring the Ee- 
formation ; but, in reality, he had no opinions of his own, and 
he was now acting merely as an instrument in the hands of the 
most remarkable adventurer to be met with in English history ; 
whose rise more resembles that of a slave, at once constituted 
Grand Vizier in an Eastern despotism, than of a minister of 
state promoted in a constitutional government, where law, 
usage, and public opinion check the capricious humours of the 

Ante, p. 63. 


Thomas Cromwell, the son of a fuller, p having had a very 
slender education, after serving as a trooper in foreign 
armies, and a clerk in a merchant's counting-house at Ant- 
werp, had picked up a little knowledge of the law in an at- 
torney's office in London, had been taken into the service of 
Cardinal Wolsey as a steward, had obtained a seat in parlia- 
ment, had acquired a great ascendency in the House of Com- 
mons by his energy and volubility. had insinuated himself 
into the favour and confidence of Hemy VIII. by his pliancy 
and dexterity in business ; and having been succe.-sively 
made Clerk of the Hanaper in the Court of Chancery, Master 
of the Jewel House, Chancellor of the Exchequer, a Knight 
and a Privy Councillor, was now Lord Chamberlain, Chief 
Justice in Eyre beyond Trent, Lord Privy Seal. Baron Crom- 
well of Okeham, in the county of Kutland, Vicar-General and 
Vicegerent of the King as Head of the Church, with prece- 
dence in parliament above all temporal and spiritual Peers, 
and with absolute power in all the civil affairs of the realm. 
To such subordination was the office of Lord Chancellor re- 
duced, that Audley, unless by some extraordinary ebullition of 
baseness, seems to have attracted little notice from his con- 
temporaries ; and his name is hardly mentioned by the general 
historian. Yet in the detail and execution of the measures 
which were brought forward by the Vicar-General, the Lord 
Chancellor took a very active and important part. He framed 
the bills for completing the separation from Eome, and punish- 
ing those who went farther than the King, and favoured the 
doctrines of Luther. He was verv efficient in the 

n ,1 . , ; , , . A.D. 1536. 

suppression of the monasteries, his zeal being in- 
fluenced by the hope of sharing in the plunder. He recom- 
mended the commissions, under the Great Seal, for inquiring 
into the immoralities arid abuses alleged to exist in those in 
stitutions : and he approved of the plan of first granting to the 
King the revenues of all under 200/. a year, and then of all 
above that amount. There was never any difficulty in carry- 
ing such bills through parliament. Ministers, in those days, 
instead of triumphing in a good working majority, could com- 
mand an absolute unanimity in both Hotises. It is a curious 
fact, that against bills respecting religion, which must have 
been most highly distasteful to the great body of the prelates, 

* He is often called the son of a black- was a fuller. A true life of Thomas Crom- 
smith, but whoever has curiosity to investi- well might be made as interesting as a fair* 
pate the point, will clearly see that his father tale. 


and to many lay peers, after the execution of Fisher there 
was not a dissentient voice, or the slightest audible murmur of 
opposition.* 1 

Audley had his difficulties, but they arose from the King's 
conjugal inconstancy. He thought that after witnessing the 
dissolution of the King's first marriage by the sentence of 
Archbishop Granmer, and his union with her to whom, in 
spite of all obstacles, he had been for six years a devoted 
lover, and an act of parliament setting aside the Princess Mary 
and settling the succession on the infant Princess Elizabeth, 
holding the Great Seal, he was to enjoy peace and freedom 
from care for the rest of his days, with nothing to think of but 
his own aggrandisement. 

Henry, however, had seen Jane Seymour, one of Anne's 
maids, more beautiful and attractive than herself, and had re- 
solved that there should be a vacancy in the office of Queen, 
that his new favourite might be advanced to it. 

Audley conformed without hesitation to the royal will, and 
took a leading part in the proceedings against the unfortunate 
Anne, from the first surmise against her at Court till she was 
beheaded on Tower Hill. He formed one of the Committee of 
Council to whom the " delicate investigation " was intrusted, 
and he joined in the report, founded on the mere gossip of 
the Court, or the representations of suborned witnesses, " that 
sufficient proof had been discovered to convict her of incon- 
tinence, not only with Breretou, Korris, and Weston of the 
Privy Chamber, and Smeaton the King's musician, but even 
with Lord Eochford, her own brother." 

After secretly examining and committing to prison some of 
the supposed paramours, Audley planned the arrest of the 
Queen herself at the tilting match at Greenwich, and next 
day in his proper person went down the river, that he might 
accompany her to the Tower, and try to extract something 
from her which might be perverted into evidence of her guilt. 

1 Some of these bills passed both Houses passed the House of Lords at all, considering 

after being read only once in each House, that from the reign of Edward II. till 1539 

There was then no certain number of times the spiritual Peers were much more nume- 

necessary for a bill to be read according to rous than the temporal. Then tweniy-six 

parliamentary usage before passing; a bill mitred abbots and two priors being disfran- 

was sometimes read four, five, six, seven, and chised, there were forty-one temporal tc 

even eight times, before it passed or was re- twenty spiritual peers. But Bishop Fisher's 

jected. Joum. vol. i. 26, 49, 52, 55, 56. But fate had such an effect on the nerves of the 

the marvel is that such bills as those for the prelates, that they offered no ojip.tsition to 

dissolution of the monasteries and the trans- the bills which they abhorred. 
fer of the Pope's supremacy to the King 


Having met the barge in which she was coming up as a pri- 
Boner, he informed her that she had been charged with infi- 
delity to the King's bed, and intimated to her that it would be 
better for her to confess ; but, falling on her knees, she prayed 
aloud, that, ' if she were guilty, God might never grant her 
pardon ;" and no advantage being then obtained over her, 
she was given in ward to Kingston, the Lieutenant of the 

Having been active as her prosecutor, Audley sat as her 
Judge. The trial was nominally before the Court of the Lord 
High Steward, the Duke of Norfolk, her uncle, being ap- 
pointed Lord High Steward, as Audley was not yet raised to 
the peerage ; biit he sat as assessor at the Duke's right hand 
during the trial, and directed all the proceedings/ The only 
symptom of humanity exhibited was in reluctantly granting 
the indulgence of a chair to the Queen's dignity or weakness. 
Unassisted by counsel, she repelled each charge with so much 
modesty, temper, and natural good sense, that before an im- 
partial tribunal she must have been acquitted ; for though she 
had undoubtedly fallen into some unjustifiable levities, the 
evidence to support the main charge, consisting of hearsay and 
forced confessions by accomplices not produced, was such as 
in our clays could not be submitted to a jury. Yet. under the 
direction of Audley, she was unanimously found guilty by the 
Peers "upon their honour;" and the iron Duke of Norfolk, 
with tears in his eyes, condemned her to be " burnt or be- 
headed at the King's pleasure.'" 

The next proceeding is, if possible, still more discreditable 
to Audley and the other instruments of Henry's vengeance 
Not satisfied with knowing that she whom he had so pas- 
sionately loved was doomed in her youth to suffer a violent 
and cruel death, he resolved before her execution to have a 
sentence pronounced dissolving his marriage with her, and 
declaring that it had been null and void from the beginning, 
'not seeing, in the blindness of his rage, that in this case she 
could not have been guilty of adultery or treason. Neverthe- 
less, in a divorce suit which lasted only a few hours, which 
Audley sanctioned, and in which Cranmer personally pro- 
nounced the sentence, some say on the ground of a pre- 
contract with the Earl of Northumberland, which he on his 

r In all accounts of the trial, he is repre- the Lord High Steward's Court ; but being 
cenied as one of the yueen's Judges, along only a commoner, it is impossible that he 
with the twenty-sis peers who constituted should have voted. * 1 St. Tr. 4U9. 


oath denied, some on the ground that Henry had cohabited 
with Mary Boleyn, the sister of Anne, that marriage was de- 
clared null and void, which Cranmer himself had solemnised, 
and which had been declared valid by an act of parliament 
then remaining on the Statute Book. It is well that Henry 
did not direct that Audley should officiate as executioner, with 
Cranmer as his assistant ; for they probably would have obeyed 
sooner than have given up the seals or the primacy. 

The day after the execution the King was married to Jane 
Seymour, and for a short time his happiness was without 
alloy ; but he was reminded that by statute the Crown was still 
settled on the issue of his last marriage, whom he had resolved 
to bastardise ; and he called a new parliament to meet at 
Westminster on the 8th of June, 1537, for the pur- 
pose of registering the edicts which the altered state 
of affairs rendered necessary. 

On the day appointed, the King being seated on the throne, 
and the Commons being in attendance, Lord Chancellor Audley 
delivered a very singular harangue, of wliich the following is 
said to be a correct outline : 

" First he told them, that at the dissolution of the last Parliament it 
did not enter into the King's mind that he should so soon have occasion 
to call another ; but that for two especial causes, very necessary, both for 
easing the King's scruples and conducive to the good of the whole king- 
dom, he had issued a fresh summons for calling this Parliament. The 
one was concerning the heirs and successors of the King's Majesty, who, 
knowing himself obnoxious to infirmities, and even death itself (a thing 
very rare for kings to think of '), and, besides, considering the state of 
the whole kingdom, depending, as it were, upon his single life ; but 
willing, above all things, to have it free from all dangers to posterity, 
he had called this parliament to appoint an heir apparent to the Crown, 
who, when the present King had resigned to fate, without children law- 
fully begotten, might, by their own consent, happily reign over them. 
The second cause for which the present parliament was summoned was 
for repealing a certain act made in the last, by the tenour and force of 
which this whole realm is bound to be obedient to the Lady Anne 
Boleyn, the King's late wife, and her heirs between them lawfully be- 
gotten. Also, by the force of the said act, whoever should say or do any 
ill against her or her issue should be condemned for high treason. But 
now, he said, that they might more rightly understand the reasons of 
this summons, his counsel was according to these three proverbs of Solo- 
mon (to whom our most excellent Prince here may be most justly and 

t This reminds us of the dialogue between tlon, " Les rois tneurent-ils ?" the answct 
the Dauphin and his tutor, when to the ques- was, " Quelquefois, nionsdgrieur." 


worthily compared), ' Operabimini quibus admonemur : 1. pneterita in 
memoria habere ; 2. prsesentia intueri ; et, 3. obventura providere.' 
And as to the first, they very well remembered what great anxieties and 
perturbations of mind their most invincible Sovereign suffered on ac- 
count of his first unlawful marriage, which was not only judged so in 
all the Universities in Christendom, but declared unlawful by the general 
consent of this kingdom in a late act of parliament. So also ought they 
to bear in mind the great perils and dangers their Prince was tinder 
when he contracted his second marriage, in regard to the second of Solo- 
mon's proverbs, by considering in what a situation this realm is in by 
reason of the oath then made and taken for the support of the said Anne 
and her issue. Which said Lady Anne and her accomplices had been 
since justly found guilty of high treason, and had received their due re- 
ward for it. What man of middle condition would not this deter from 
marrying a third time ? When he remembers that the first was a vast 
expense and great trouble of mind to him, and the second ran him into 
great and imminent dangers, which hung over him during the whole 
time of it, yet this our most excellent Prince, on the humble petition 
of the nobility, and not out of any carnal lust or affection, again con- 
descends to contract matrimony, and hath at this time taken unto 
himself another wife, whose age and fine form denotes her most fit 
and likely to bring forth children. And therefore, according to the 
third proverb of Solomon, obventura provideamus, we are now met by 
the King's command, with unanimous consent, to appoint an heir ap- 
parent to the Crown, that if this our Prince (which God avert) should 
leave this mortal life without children lawfully begotten, the heir so 
appointed may lawfully rule and govern this kingdom after him. 
Lastly, let us humbly pray to God that he would bless this our roost 
excellent Prince with some offspring; at the same time civinsc him 
thanks that he has hitherto preserved him from so many and such im- 
minent dangers. Because, it is his whole study and endeavour to rule 
us all in pertect peace and charity during his life, and to transmit the 
same happiness to posterity." 

The Commons were then ordered to withdraw and choose a 
Speaker. To reward the services of Richard Eich, the Soli 
citor General, as counsel, and still more as witness at the late 
state trials, he was recommended by the Government to fill 
the chair, and as a matter of course was elected. 

When presented at the bar on a subsequent day, he was de- 
termined to eclipse the Chancellor in his adulation of the 
King, and to show himself worthy to succeed to the Seals 
on the first fitting opportunity. After repeating the heads of 
the Chancellor's discourse, explaining the reasons for call- 
ing the parliament, and extolling his Majesty's consideration 
for the good of his people, "he took occasion to praise the 
King for his wonderful gifts of grace and nature, and com 


pared Mm tor justice and prudence to Solomon, for strength 
and fortitude to Samson, and for beauty and comeliness to Ab- 
salom." He concluded by observing that the Commons, 
having chosen him, the most unworthy of them all, for 
Speaker, he besought his Majesty that he would command 
them to withdraw again and elect another, for he had neither 
learning, experience, nor boldness fit for that office. 

To this, Lord Chancellor Audley, by the King's command, 
replied, " that his Majesty had well heard his speech, and was 
glad to understand by the first part of it, that the members of 
the House of Commons had been so attentive to the Chan- 
cellor's declaration. That as to the praises and virtues 
ascribed to himself, his Majesty thought proper to disavow 
them, since, if he really had such virtues, they were the gifts 
of Almighty God." u Lastly, added he, " as to your excuses, 
Eichard, which the King hath heard, that you have neither 
learning, experience, nor boldness fit for such an office, his 
Majesty hath commanded me to reply, that if he did not know 
that you had all these qualifications, he would not, amongst 
so many urgent matters as are now depending, admit you 
into the office, and therefore he does not look upon your 
excuses as just." 

Audley immediately prepared a bill which rapidly passed 
both Houses, the most arbitrary and unconstitutional that had 
ever yet been put upon the rolls of parliament. By this, the 
sentence of divorce nullifying the King's marriage with Anne 
Boleyn ab initio was confirmed, and she, and all her accom- 
plices, were attainted ; the children of both marriages were 
declared illegitimate, and it was even made treason to assert 
the legitimacy of either of them; to throw any slander on 
the King, Queen Jane, or their issue, was subjected to the 
same penalty; the Crown was settled on the King's issue by 
his present or any subsequent wife, in case he should die icithout 
legitimate children he was empowered by his will or letters patent to dis- 
pose of the Crown ; whoever being required should refuse to 
answer upon oath to a belief of every article of this act, was 
declared to be guilty of treason, so as to establish a political 
inquisition into conscience; and the King was empowered, 
by will or letters patent, to create new principalities, and 
thereby to dismember the kingdom. 11 

" This is a plain admission on the part of son, and the beauty of Absalom, 
his Majesty, that by the gift of God he had * Stat. 28 Hen. a, c. 7. 
the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Sam- 


At the close of the session there \vas another contest be- 
tween the Chancellor and the Speaker in praising the King in 
his presence. Kich making Audley rather uncomfortable by 
comparing his Majesty to the Sun, " -who exhales all the 
noxious vapours which would otherwise be hurtful to us, and 
cherishes and brings forth those seeds, plants, and fruits, so 
necessary for the support of human life." J 

Henry was soon after thrown into ecstasy by the birth of a 
son. in the midst of which he felt not very severely the loss of 
his Queen, Jane Seymour, who, although married to him, had 
the felicity to die without violence or disgrace. Audley was 
much disappointed at not being included in the batch of Peers 
made a few days after on the creation of the infant Prince 
of Wales ; but in the following year his ambition was gra- 
tified by becoming Baron Audley, of Walden, in the county of 

This honour was conferred upon him that he might preside 
as Lord High Steward at the trial of Courtenay Marquess of 
Exeter, and De la Pole Lord Montague, who were particularly 
obnoxious to Henry as his cousins, and whom he wished to 
have condemned for high treason on a charge of being in 
correspondence with another cousin of his, Cardinal Pole, now 
considered by him his capital enemy. Courtenay was grand- 
son to Edward IV., by his daughter Catherine, and the Poles 
were grandsons of the Duke of Clarence, the brother of 
Edward, by his daughter the Countess of Salisbury. For this 
reason both families were regarded with peculiar affection bj 
the adherents of the house of York, and extreme jealousy by 
the reigning Sovereign. Baron Audley, of Walden, presiding 
as High Steward, the Marquess and Lord Montague Dec. 31, 
were arraigned before their Peers on an indictment 1538 - 
for high treason. The overt act was, that the former had been 
heard to say, and the latter abetted him in saying, " I like well 
of the proceedings of Cardinal Pole : I like not the proceedings 
of this realm. I trust to see a change in the world. I trust 
once to have a fair day on the knaves which rule about the 
King. I trust to give them a buffet one day." The natural 
construction of such language is. that they did not approve of 
the policy of the government, and that by an active opposition 
they hoped to bring about a change of ministers ; but the Lord 
High Steward held that it showed a conspiracy to use physical 
force to bring about a revolution and to dethrone the King. 

T I Parl. Hist. 534. 


Both were found guilty, condemned to suffer death as traitors, 
and executed accordingly. 1 

Lord Audley was very desirous of having a reward for his 
services from the plunder of the monasteries, and wrote many 
letters upon the subject to Cromwell, who had the distribution 
of it. The reader may be amused with a specimen of his epis- 
tolary style : My Lord Chancellor had been favoured with a 
sight of the young Prince Edward, then a baby of a few 
months old, sent to Havering in Essex for change of air; and 
in the hope that his begging letter might be shown to the 
King, he thus addresses the Vicar-General : 

" After my right harty comendations to your good Lordship, with my 
most harty thankes for your last gentill letters, I am required by the 
Erie of Oxford and Master (Jhauncelour, to desire your good Lordshipp, 
in all our names, to make our moost humble recommendations to the 
kynges mageste, and to render ouer most harty thankes to his Highness 
for our licens to visite and see my lord prynces grace, whom, accordyng 
to our desires and duteez, we have seen to our most rejoise and com- 
fort, next the kynges mageste. And I assure your Lordshipp 1 never 
saw so goodly a childe of his age, so mery, so plesaunt, so good and 
lovyng countenaces, and so ernest an eye, as it were a sage juggement 
towardes every person that repayreth to his grace ; and as it semyth to 
me, thankes be to our Lord, his grace encresith well in the ayer that he 
ys in. And albeyt a litell his graces flesche decayeth, yet he shotyth 
owt in length, and wexith forme and stiff, and can stedfastly stond, and 
wold avaunce hymself to move and go if they would suffir hym ; but as 
me semyth they do yet best, consideryng his grace is yet tendir, that he 
should not streyn hymself as his owen corage wold serve hym, till he 
cum above a yere of age. I can not comprehend nor describe the 
goodly towardly qualiteez that ys in my Lord princes grace. He ys 
sent of almyty Good for all our comfortes. My dayly and contynual 
prayer ys and shalbe for his good and prosperus preservation, and to 
make his grace an olde prince, besechyng your good lordeshipp to render 
to the kynges mageste thankes in al our names, as ys above sayd." 

He then proceeds to the real object of his letter, to obtain a 
grant of two abbeys in Essex, St. John's and St. Osyes'. 
Depreciating them much, as " St. Johns lakkyth water, and 
St. Osyes stondyth in the mersches ; " he offers to give 1000/. 
apiece for them. In a " Postscripta " he adds, that to recruit 
from the labours of the Court of Chancery, he was then going 
on a sporting party, " to mete the Duke of Norfolk, at Fra- 
myngham, to kyll sum of his bukkes there. " a 

1 1 St. Tr. 479. 
Letters on Suppression of Monasteries, by Camden bociety, p. 245. 


But the grand object of his ambition was to get the site and 
lands of the dissolved abbey at \\ alden, in Essex. For this 
purpose he writes to Cromwell with much earnestness, and it 
must be owned with much candour and simplicity, showing 
that some extraordinary recompence was due to him for 
having sacrificed even his character and conscience in the 
King's service. ' 1 beseche your good Lordshipp, be my 
good Lord in this my sute, yf it shall plese the Kynge's 
<te to be so good and gracius lord to me, it shall sett 
forth as moche my poor estymacion as the valu of the thynge. 
In the besy world 1 susteyned damage and injury, and this 
shall restore me to honeste and comodyte." b Afterwards he 
urges his claim on this ground with still more force and 
naivete. ! have in this world susteyned greate damage and 
iiifamie in serving the Kynge's Highness, which this grant shal 
recompens." c 

This appeal was felt to be so well founded, that in considera- 
tion of the bad law laid down by him on the trials of Fisher, 
More, Anne Boleyn, Courtenay, and De la Pole, and of the 
mea-sures he had carried through parliament to exalt the royal 
prerogative and to destroy the constitution, and of the execra- 
tion heaped upon him by the whole English nation as well 
as by way of retaining fee for future services of the like 
nature, and recompence for farther infamy, he received a 
warrant to put the Great Seal to the desired grant. 

But Henry, never contented with showering favours on 
those who pleased him, till, changing his humour, he doomed 
them to destruction, likewise bestowed upon him the site and 
precinct of the Priory of the Canons of the Holy Trinity of 
Christ Church, Aldgate, in the city of London, where the 
Chancellor erected for himself a commodious town mansion, 
with gardens and pleasure grounds. This was described by 
a contemporary wag as " the best cut at the feast of Abbey 
lands, a dainty morsel and an excellent receipt to clear his 
voice and make him speak well for his master." 

Still insatiable, he wrote to Cromwell " that his place of 
Lord Chancellor being very chargeable, the King might be 
moved for addition of some more profitable offices unto him." d 
There was no rich sinecure that conveniently could be be- 
stowed upon him at that moment, but a vacant Blue Eiband 
was offered him to stay his importunity, and he was installed 

b Letters on Suppression of Monasteries, by Camden Society, p. 245. 

Dugdale's Baronage, tit. Audlev." * Ibid. 



Knight of the Garter with all due solemnity, being the first 
Lord Chancellor of England who, while in office, had ever 
reached that dignity. Decorated with the Collar, George, and 
Garter, Audley showed himself, if possible, more eagerly 
desirous to comply with the humours, whether arbitrary, fan- 
tastical, or cruel, of his royal benefactor. 

On the 28th of April, 1539, a new parliament met to confirm 
the dissolution of the monasteries, and to provide 
severe punishment for those inclined to adopt the re- 
formed opinions, which were as distasteful to Henry as a 
denial of his supremacy. 6 The Chancellor's speech on the 
first day of the session is not preserved ; but the Journals 
state, that on the 5th of May he informed the House of Lords 
" that it was his Majesty's desire, above all things, that the 
diversities of opinions concerning the Christian religion in 
this kingdom should be with all possible expedition plucked 
up and extirpated." A select committee was therefore ap- 
pointed, with the Vicar-General at their head, who were to 
report what was fit to be done to produce uniformity of faith 
among all his Majesty's loving subjects. 

On the 30th of May the Lord Chancellor declared before 
the Lords, that not only the Bishops and other spiritual 
Peers, but even the King's Majesty, had taken great pains, 
and laboured incessantly, to bring about an union, and had 
at last completed it. Therefore it was his Majesty's pleasure 
" that some penal statute should be enacted to compel all his 
subjects who were anywise dissenters to obey the articles 
agreed on." 

On the 7th of June "the bloody Bill of the Six Articles" 
was brought into the House by Lord Chancellor Audley/ him- 
self secretly inclined to the new opinions, and subjecting all 
who should venture to profess them to be burnt or beheaded. 
By the first article, to question the doctrine of transubstan- 
tiation, or to say that after ihe consecration of the elements in 
the sacrament of the Lord's Supper there remaineth any sub- 
stance of bread or wine, was heresy, punishable with burning 
and forfeiture of lands and goods, as in case of high treason. 
The second was levelled against the doctrine that communion 
in both kinds was good for the souls of the laity : the third 
enjoined the celibacy of the clergy : the fourth the observance 
of monastic vows : the fifth the efficacy and propriety of pri- 
vate masses; -and the sixth, auricular confession. Each of 

1 Pad. Hist. 537. < Ibid. 538. 


these four last-mentioned dogmas was enforced by the milder 
penalty of death by hanging, with forfeiture of lands and 
goods, as in case of felony. 

The Chancellor's bill was so arbitrary and cruel, that Cran- 
mer even had the courage to oppose it ; but it was carried 
through the House of Lords in three days : and, being sent 
down to the Lower House by the Attorney and Solicitor 
General, it passed there with equal rapidity. The finishing 
hand was now put to the dissolution of the monasteries, and 
twenty-eight mitred Abbots and Priors were ejected from par- 

There having been some grumbling in the House of Lords 
on account of the precedence given to Cromwell, the Lord 
Chancellor brought in a bill enacting, that he should have 
place in parliament and in the Privy Council next after the 
blood royal, and regulating the precedence of the Peers and 
officers of state as it now exists. g 

But to save all future trouble in calling parliaments, or 
managing them when refractory, the Chancellor crowned the 
labours of the session by bringing in and passing a bill 
whereby the King's proclamation, issued with the assent of 
his Council, was to have the force and effect of an act of par- < 
liament. b 

A new session began on the 12th of April, 1540 ; ' through 
all the perils of which Audley steered with his usual 
cunning and success, but which proved fatal to 
Cromwell. A few months previously, Henry, by his Vice- 
gerent's advice, after remaining a widower two years, and 
being disappointed in a negotiation for a French Princess, had 
married Anne of Cleves : but cruelly disappointed in her per- 
son and manners, and determined not to live with her as his 
wife, he conceived a deep resentment against the man who 
had "put his neck into the yoke." To render the fall of the 
favourite the more grievous, he was created Earl of Essex, and 
a Knight of the C4arter ; and the King seemed to trust him 
with more than wonted confidence. 

8 31 Hen. 8, c. 10, which is the only re- punish in a summary manner all transcres- 

straint on the power of the Crown to grant sors of such proclamations. To our surprise, 

precedence, but does restrain that power both we find there was not perfect unanimity with 

in the House of Lords and in the Privy respect to this bill, and Bishop Gardyner says. 

Council. in a letter preserved by Bumet, that it did 

h 31 Hen. 8, c. 8. This was followed by not pass without " many large words." Ref. 

34 Hen. 8, c. 23, appointing a tribunal consist- ii. 114. 

ing of nine privy councillors, with power to i I Part. Hist 542. 

H 2 


On the first day of the session the Chancellor complained, 
in the King's name, of the great diversity of religions which 
still prevailed among his subjects ; a grievance, he affirmed, 
which ought to be the less endured, because the Scriptures 
were now published in English, and ought universally to be 
the standard of belief to mankind. But the King, he said, 
had appointed some Bishops and divines to draw up a list of 
tenets to which the people were to assent ; and he was deter- 
mined that Christ, the doctrine of Christ, and the truth, should 
have the victory. 

Cromwell, sitting on the Bishops' bench, on the King's 
light hand, above the Archbishop of Canterbury, made another 
speech in the King's name ; and the Peers, believing him to 
be still in high favour, bestowed great flattery on him, saying, 
" that, by his desert, he was worthy to be Vicar-General of the 
universe." k 

But Henry's aversion to his new Queen increasing daily, 
and, at last, breaking all restraint, prompted him to seek 
the dissolution of a marriage so odious to him, and to ruin the 
minister who had been the author of it. On the morning of 
the 10th of June the Vicar-General attended in his place 
in the House of Lords, neither himself nor those about him 
suspecting that he was in any peril. At three o'clock in the 
afternoon of the same day, while attending a meeting of the 
cabinet, he was arrested for high treason by the Duke of Nor- 
folk, and committed to the Tower of London. 

Lord Chancellor Audley immediately engaged zealously in 
the prosecution of his colleague and chief, whom the King 
resolved to bring immediately to the block ; for at that time 
it was considered almost a matter of course in England that a 
minister should lose his head with his office, in the Turkish 
fashion, only that, instead of the bow-string applied by a 
mute, the instrument of vengeance was the verdict of a 
packed jury, or an act of attainder passed by a servile parlia- 

About a year before, Cromwell, to please Henry, had ex- 
torted an opinion from the Judges, in the case of the Countess 
of Salisbury, that persons might be lawfully attainted by bill 
without being heai'd in their defence ; and Audley now recom- 
mended that this precedent should be acted upon against 
Cromwell himself, as awkward disclosures might take place if 
he should be tried by the House of Peers, or in the Court of 

k 1 Parl. Hist. 548. 


the Lord Steward ; or if he should be permitted to plead at 
the bar against the bill of attainder. It contained a strange 
medley of charges, few of which even savoured of high 
treason : " That he had received bribes, and encroached 
on the royal authority by issuing commissions, discharging 
prisoners, pardoning convicts, and granting licences for the 
exportation of prohibited merchandise: that as Vicar-General 
he had betrayed his duty, by not only holding heretical 
opinions himself, but also by protecting heretical preachers, 
and promoting the circulation of heretical books ; and that 
he had expressed a resolution to fight against the King, if 
it were necessary, in defence of his religious opinions."" 1 
He wrote to the Chancellor, demanding a public trial ; but 
all that was conceded to him was, that he should be privately 
heard to defend himself before Commissioners appointed by 
the Crown, who should express their opinion on his case to 
the two Houses. 

After a timid attempt by Cranmer to soften the King on 
account of past services, the Bill passed through the House of 
Lords unanimously, Cranmer himself attending and voting for 
the second and third reading ; and the Peers with one voice, 
at the request of the King conveyed by the Chancellor, thought 
proper, without trial, examination, or evidence, to doom to a 
cruel and ignominious death a man whom, a few days before, 
they had declared worthy to be " Vicar-General of the I'ni- I 
verse." It can hardly be supposed that Henry insidiously 
gave him the Garter to make him more obnoxious to the 
nobility, but all accounts agree in stating that they were more 
incensed against the fuller's son, the trooper, the merchant's 
clerk, and the attoi-ney, when they saw him bearing the deco- 
ration hitherto reserved for nobles and warriors, than by 
thinking of the enormities by which he had risen to greatness. 
A bill of attainder against Audley himself, proposed by Crom- 
well, if the King had so willed, would have passed with equal 

The projector of the marriage with Anne of Cleves being 
disposed of. Audley. by the King's orders, took the necessary 
measures for having the marriage itself dissolved, although 
there was no better pretext for questioning its validity than 
that Henry had been deceived by Holbein's too flattering por- 
trait of Anne ; that he thought her a Flanders mare : that 
when he did consent to marry her after he had seen her, 

iSt. Tr.433. 


he withheld assent in his own mind in going through the 
ceremony ; that he suspected she was not a true maid ; that 
she could speak no language but high Dutch ; and his asser- 
tion that though they slept in the same chamber for many 
weeks, he had only lived with her as a friend. 

On the 6th of July the Lord Chancellor, addressing the 
House of Lords, said, " their Lordships very well knew what 
bloody and cruel slaughter had formerly been acted in this 
kingdom by reason of various contentions occasioned by du- 
bious titles to the succession of this Crown, and since, by the 
grace of God, all these controversies were ceased, and all those 
titles were united by the Divine benevolence in the single per- 
son of his most serene Majesty, so that no occasion of discord 
could arise, unless their only hope, the noble Prince Edward, 
undoubted heir to his father's kingdoms, should, by some 
sinister accident, be taken from them. In that case (which 
God avert) it was necessary for the general safety that some 
other future heir, by the Divine goodness, should be born to 
them in true and lawful wedlock ; and since this was very 
doubtful from the marriage lately contracted between his 
Majesty and the most noble Lady Anne of Cleves, because of 
some impediments which, upon inquiry, might arise to make 
the validity of that marriage dubious, for the quietness and 
concord of the kingdom in succeeding times, he therefore re- 
commended that a committee of both Houses should be ap- 
pointed to wait upon his Majesty, humbly opening to him, as 
far as decency would admit, their doubts and scruples in this 
matter, and humbly entreating that he would please to 
acquaint them whether the aforesaid marriage was valid or 
not." He concluded with a motion that a message be sent to 
the Commons by certain members of the House, requesting 
them to deliberate upon the subject, and that they would send 
back six of their body to inform their Lordships of the result 
of their consultation." 

The Chancellor's motion was carried with the usual ima- 
nimity ; and the Commons forthwith announced that they had 
appointed a committee of twenty to co-operate with the Lords 
in the proposed application to his Majesty. All the temporal 
Lords and this committee accordingly waited on the King, 
when the Chancellor told him they had a matter of great mo- 
ment to communicate, if his Majesty would pardon their pre- 
sumption. Henry having desired them " to speak their minds 

n 1 Part. Hist. 54. 


freely," the Chancellor delivered the address of both Houses, 
' praying his opinion upon the validity of his present 
marriage." The answer was, " that he would refer the 
question to the judgment and determination of grave, 
learned, honest, and pious ecclesiastics, viz. the Archbishops 
and Bishops." 

This business was very soon concluded ; for, to the un- 
speakable disgrace of Cranmer and the other prelates, whether 
inclining to the older the new religion. on the 10th of June 
they declared to the House of Lords that they had examined 
into the affair of the marriage, by virtue of the King's com- 
mission directed to them, and that, both by divine and human 
law. they found it invalid. They then handed to the Chan- 
cellor a sentence of nullity : which, on the Chancellor's 
motion, being read and approved of, it was sent down by two 
Bishops to the Hoxise of Commons. The next day the Chan- 
cellor brought in a bill to dissolve the marriage betsveen his 
Majesty and the Lady Anne of Cleves ; and, without hearing 
what she had to say against it. or receiving any evidence, it 
was passed iinanimously the following day, and sent down to 
the Commons, where it experienced an equally favourable 
reception. In a few days more it received the royal assent ; 
and Henry, who had always another wife ready on the di- 
vorce, dishonour, or beheading of a former, was publicly mar- 
ried to the Lady Catherine Howard, niece to the Duke of 

As Eastern despotism was now established in England, there 
was introduced a near approximation to the Eastern custom 
of prostration before the Sovereign. We are told that on the 
last day of this session, as often as any piece of flattery pecu- 
liarly fulsome was addressed to the King by the Speaker or the 
Chancellor, " every man stood up and bowed themselves to 
the throne, and the King returned the compliment by a gracious 
nod from it." 

By the King's commands the Chancellor now dissolved the 
parliament, which had sat above six years, and went by the 
name of the " Long Parliament." till another obtained that 
name, and utterly abolished monarchy as this had subvened 
all the free institutions of the country. 

Audley was too cautious ever to aim at the station of ' ' prime 
favourite and minister," which, after the fall of Cromwell, was 
for a time filled by the Duke of Norfolk. This stern sire of a 

1 Parl. Hist. 547" et totum nutu tremefecit Olympmn." 


most accomplished son, inclining strongly to Eomanism, com- 
menced a furious persecution against the Protestants ; and the 
law of " the Six Articles " was executed with frightful rigour. 
Audley would have screened those of his own way of thinking 
if he could have done so without danger of offending the King ; 
but, while he saw crowds led to the stake for questioning 
transubstantiation, he took care, in the impartial administra- 
tion of justice, that no mercy should be shown to Catholics 
who denied the King's supremacy, beyond favouring them with 
a gibbet instead of surrounding them with fagots ; so that a 
foreigner then in England said with reason, that " Henry's 
subjects who were against the Pope were burned, and those 
who were for him were hanged." p 

Things went on smoothly enough with Audley, and all who, 
like him, had the prudence to conform to the prevail- 
ing fashions in religion, till the autumn of the following 
year, when a discovery was made which again threw the whole 
kingdom into confusion. The present Queen had, " by a 
notable appearance of honour, cleanness, and maidenly be- 
haviour, won the King's heart :" q for more than twelve 
months he lavished upon her proofs of his affection ; he had 
publicly in his chapel returned solemn thanks to Heaven for 
the felicity which the conjugal state now afforded him ; and 
he directed the Bishop of Lincoln to compose a form of prayer 
to the like effect, to be used in all churches and chapels 
throughout the kingdom. But before this general thanksgiv- 
ing took place, Archbishop Cranmer came one morning to the 
Chancellor, and announced that information had been laid 
before him, which he could not doubt, that the Queen, both 
before and since her marriage, could be proved to have been 
and to be one of the most dissolute of her sex. By Audley 's 
advice a written statement upon the subject was put into the 
hands of the astonished husband. He was particularly mor- 
tified at the thought that the world would now question 
that upon which he so much piqued himself in the case of 
Anne of Cleves his skill in discovering a true maid ; but 
when he had recovered from the shock, he directed the 
necessary steps to be taken for the Queen's conviction and 

In consequence, the Chancellor assembled the Judges and 
Councillors in the Star Chamber, and laid before them the 
evidence which had been obtained. With respect to Cathe- 

P Fox, vol. ii. p. 529. 1 Herb. 532. 


riiie's incontinence before marriage no difficulty arose, for this 
sue did not deny, although she tried to mitigate her miscon- 
duct, by asserting that "althat Derame did unto her was of 
his importune forcement, and in a manner violence, rather than 
of her fre consent and \vil ; " r but this did not amount to an 
offence for which she could be punished by any known law, 
and she maintained her entire innocence since the time when 
a departure from chastity amounted to treason. However, it 
appeared that since her marriage she had employed Dereham 
as her secretary, and that she had allowed Culpepper, a mater- 
nal relation and gentleman of the Privy Chamber, who had 
likewise formerly been her lover, to remain in company with 
her and Lady Eochford from eleven at night till two in the 
morning. The Judges being asked their opinion, replied that, 
considering the persons implicated, these facts, if proA*ed, 
formed a satisfactory presumption that adultery had been 

Fortified with this extra-judicial opinion, Audley imme- 
diately caused these two unfortunate gentlemen to be brought 
to trial before a jury, and, without any additional evidence, 
they were both convicted and executed. 

But it was impossible to deal with the Queen herself and 
the other parties accused, without that commodious instrument 
of tyranny, a bill of attainder, which obviated the inconvenient 
requirements of proofs and judicial forms. Accordingly a new 
parliament was summoned to meet at \Vestminster, on the loth 
of January. 1542. 

The Lord Chancellor s speech on the first day of the session 
is commemorated in a most extraordinary entry on the Jour- 
nals by the clerks of the House of Lords, the only reporters of 
those days, stating that " Thomas Lord Audley, the Lord 
Chancellor, opened the cause of the summons in a grave and 
eloquent speech, but of such uncommon and immoderate length, 
that the clerks being busy on different affairs could not attend 
even to take the heads of the whole speech, which would take 
three hours to write down and one to read, and therefore they 
gave an imperfect compendium orativnix. First, the Chancellor 
declared in what manner David began his reign over the peo- 
ple of God, the Israelites ; he did not pray that honours and 
riches might be heaped upon him, but only that his under- 
standing and wisdom might be enlarged, Give me understand- 
ing that 1 'inaij s.:ai\-h thy laic, as it is in the Psalms. This 

r Archbishop Cranmer's letter to the King. Stat. Pap. Off. 


understanding he asked for, that he might the better learn 
things equally necessaiy for both prince and people. Such 
was the case also in our Sovereign Lord the King, who, when 
he first came to the Crown, wished for nothing more ardently 
or fervently than that God would bestow on him wisdom and 
understanding. The Almighty anointed him with the oil of 
sapience above his fellows, ' above the rest of the Kings in the 
earth, and above all his progenitors, so that no King of whom 
history makes mention could be compared to him.' At which 
words, all the Peers, as well as Commons, stood up and bowed 
to the throne with that reverence as plainly showed with what 
willing minds they owned his empire over them, and what 
they owed to God who had committed the government of the 
1542 kingdom to such a Prince." But the entry breaks 
off abruptly just as the orator was coming to the pith 
of his oration, the cause of parliament being then called. 
Some have ingeniously conjectured that this was done by 
design, that the Queen's shame and the King's misfortune 
might not be blazoned on the Journals.* 

A bill was forthwith brought in by the Lord Chancellor to 
attaint of high treason the Queen, and Lady Kochford as her 
accomplice, and to subject to forfeiture and perpetual impri- 
sonment the Duchess of Norfolk, her daughter the Countess of 
Bridgewater, Lord William Howard and his wife, and several 
others of inferior rank, on the ground that they had been aware 
of Catherine's antenuptial errors, and still had allowed the 
King to marry her. 

For once in his life Audley was now guilty of an indis- 
cretion, by yielding to the dictates of humanity and justice, 
and declaring after the first reading of the bill, " how much it 
concerned all their Honours not to proceed to give too hasty a 
judgment ; they were to remember that a Queen was no mean 
or private person, but an illustrious and public one ; therefore 
her cause was to be judged with that sincerity that there should 
be neither room for suspicion of some latent quarrel, or that 
she should not have liberty to clear herself if perchance, by 
reason or counsel, she was able to do it, from the crime laid to 
her charge. For this purpose, he thought it but. reasonable 
that some principal persons, as well of the Lords as Commons, 
should be deputed to go to the Queen, partly to tell her the 
cause of their coming, and partly in order to help her woman- 
ish fears, by advising and admonishing her to have presence of 
* i Part. Hist. 550. 


mind enough to say anything to make her cause better. He 
knew for certain it was but just that a Princess should be 
judged by equal laws with themselves, and he was sure that 
the "clearing herself in this manner would be highly acceptable 
to her most loving husband." A committee was accordingly ap- 
pointed to wait upon the Queen, and a resolution passed to 
suspend further proceedings on the bill till they had made their 
report. 1 

But Henry seems to have considered this proceeding very 
presumptuous ; for two days afterwards the Chancellor was 
obliged to declare to the Lords openly, that the Privy Council, 
on mature deliberation, disliked the message to be sent to the 
Queen, and that the parliament might have leave to proceed 
to give judgment, and to finish the Queen's cause, that the 
event might be no longer in doubt, and that the King would 
give his assent to the bill by letters patent under the Great 

The bill was accordingly rapidly run through both Houses, 
and the Commons attending in the House of Lords, the Lord 
Chancellor produced it signed with the King's own hand, with 
his assent to it signified under the Great Seal, and holding it 
forth in both hands that all the Lords and Commons might 
see it, he declared that from thenceforth it had the fall force 
and authority of law. Then, upon the true principle of 
" Castigatque auditque dolos subigitque fateri," the Duke of 
Suffolk stated that the Queen had openly confessed and ac- 
knuwledged the great crime she had been guilty of against the 
most high God and a kind Prince, and, lastly, against the 
whole English nation." 

On the third day after this ceremony the unhappy Catherine 
and her companion, Lady Rochford, were led to execution, 
bidding the spectators take notice that they suffered justly 
for " their offences against God from their youth upward, and 
also against the King's royal Majesty very dangerously." It 
must be observed that, according to the ideas of the age, for 
the sake of surviving relatives, it was not customary or 
reckoned becoming for persons, however unjustly condemned, 
to say any thing at their execution which could be offensive to 
the King, and we cannot fairly take these words as a confession 
of more than the irregularities imputed to Catherine before she 
had mounted a throne. 

To obviate the difficulties now experienced if a similar case 

1 Part. Hist 550. n Ibid. 553. 


should again occur, the Chancellor, by the King's special 
orders, wound up the whole affair by bringing in a bill, which 
quickly passed both Houses, and received the royal assent 
from the King in person, whereby it was enacted, that every 
woman about to be married to the King, or any of his succes- 
sors, not being a true maid, should disclose her disgrace to him 
under the penalty of treason ; and that all other persons know- 
ing the fact, and not disclosing it, should be subject to the 
lesser penalty of misprision of treason." 

This law, which was afterwards repealed, as " trespassing 
too strongly as well on natural justice as female modesty," y 
continued in force during the remainder of this reign, and so 
much frightened all the spinsters at Henry's court, that instead 
of trying to attract his notice, like Anne Boleyn, Jane Sey- 
mour, and Catherine Howard, in the hope of wearing a crown, 
they shunned his approach as if he had been himself the exe- 
cutioner ; and they left the field open for widows, who could not, 
by any subtlety of Crown lawyers, be brought within its ope- 
1543 ra ti n - z When the act passed, it had been foretold that 
the King, notwithstanding his passion for maids, would 
be obliged by it to marry a widow, and accordingly, on the 1 2th of 
July, 1543, he did marry, for his sixth and last wife, Cathe- 
rine Par, who had been twice before led to the hymeneal 
altar, first by Edward Lord Borough of Gainsborough, and 
secondly, by Neville Lord Latimer. 

She was inclined to the new doctrines, and the marriage 
gave great satisfaction to Audley, Cranmer, and others of the 
same way of thinking ; while it alarmed the Duke of Norfolk, 
Gardyner, and Wriothesley, now considered champions of the 
ancient faith. 

The standard of orthodoxy, however, for the rest of this 
reign, was " The King's Book," which, with the exception of 
the Pope's supremacy, rigidly inculcated all the doctrines of 
the Church of Rome, and it would have been most dangerous 
for Queen or Chancellor to question anything which it con- 

On the 14th of January, 1544, began the last session of 

* Statutes of Realm, iv. 859. to venture into those bonds with a King who 

X 1 Bl. Com. 222. had, as they thought, so much facility in dis- 

1 See Lodge, vol. i. Cath. Par. "In con- solving them. Therefore they stood off as 

eluding another match he found a difficulty ; knowing in what a slippery estate they were, 

for as it had been declared death for any whom ii' the King, after his receiving them to bed, 

the King should marry to conceal her incon- should through any mistake declare them no 

tinency in former time, so few durst hazard maids." Lard Herbert. 


parliament which Audley ever saw ; for, though not advanced 
in years, he was now pressed with infirmities, and 
he "was threatened by an inexorable King bearing 
a dart for his sceptre, whom no prayers or artifice or sub- 
serviency could appease. 

The Chancellor's opening speech is no where to be found, so 
that we have lost his felicitations to the King on this occasion, 
and we know not to what Saint or Hero he compared him for 
the extraordinary proof his Majesty had given of his love for 
his people in marrying a sixth time. 

After a bill had passed ordaining that the royal style should 
be " King of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the 
Faith, and of the Church of England and Ireland in earth 
the Supreme Head," the Chancellor, by the King's orders, 
introduced a measure of very great importance to regulate the 
succession to the Crown. As the law stood, the Princesses 
Mary and Elizabeth were both excluded as illegitimate, and it 
was highly penal to say that the mother of either of them had 
ever been lawfully married to the King. In default of his ex- 
ercising his power of appointing a successor by deed or will, 
after Prince Edward the right would have been in the issue 
of the King's eldest sister, Margaret, married to the King of 
Scots, and then in the issue of Mary, his younger sister, mar- 
ried to the Duke of Suffolk. The bill now introduced, without 
saying anything expressly of the King's first two marriages, 
enacted, that in default of Prince Edward and the heirs of his 
body, and of heirs by the King's present marriage, the Crown 
should go to the Lady Mary, the King's eldest daughter, and 
the heirs of her body : and then to the Lady Elizabeth, the 
King's younger daughter, and the heirs of her body, the 
power of appointment by deed or will being still reserved 
to the King ; with a proviso that an oath should be re- 
quired to maintain the King's supremacy and the succes- 
sion according to this act under the penalties of treason, 
and that whoever should say or write anything contrary to 
this act, or to the peril or slander of the King's heirs limited 
in the act, should be adjudged a traitor. 3 It immediately 
passed both houses, and was a suitable conclusion to Lord 
Chancellor Audley's performances in the legislative line, as 
in one moment he made it high treason to deny that which 
the moment before it was high treason to assert, respecting 
the legitimacy of the King's children and their right to suc- 

35 Hen. 8, c. 1. 


ceed to the Crown, he himself having brought in the bill 
which bastardised Mary, and settled the Crown on Elizabeth, 
and the bill which bastardised Elizabeth as well as Mary, and 
made it treason to assert the legitimacy of either. 

On the 20th of March, the day when the session was 
closed, b Audley was on his death-bed, and the closing speech 
was made by the Duke of Norfolk, who referred to the Lord 
Chancellor's illness, and regretted the necessity imposed upon 
himself of dissolving the parliament in the King's name. 

Audley's disease gaining upon him, and the business of 
Easter Term in the Court of Chancery requiring despatch, on 
Monday the 21st of April, 1544, he (if we may believe all that 
is said in the entry in the Close Eoll) spontaneously sent the 
Great Seal to the King by Sir Edward North and Sir Thomas 
Pope, humbly praying that his Majesty would deign to 
accept the resignation of it, as, from bodily infirmity, he 
was no longer able to perform the duties of the office, 
which, by his Majesty's bounty, he had so long held. His 
resignation was graciously accepted, but out of delicacy to 
him, and holding out a hope that he might recover and be 
reinstated in his office, the Great Seal was delivered to Sir 
THOMAS WRIOTHESLEY merely as Lord Keeper and to be held 
by him as Lord Keeper only during the illness of Lord Chan- 
cellor Audley. 

per marras ipsorum Edward! et Thome Pope 
recepit ct acceptavit et penes se retinuit 
usque in diem proxm. videlt, &c. Quo die 
circa horam terciam post meridiem prt'tus 
Dns Rex sigillum suum prdm apud paludum 
suum prdm in cama prta in presentia An- 
tonii Denny, &c. Thome Wriothesley militf, 
Dno Wriothesley custodiendnm et exercen- 
dum durante inflrmitate dci Thome Dui 
Audley Dni Cancellarii comisit ipsnmque 
Thomam On Wriothesley magni sigilli rcgii 
durante inflrmitate dci Dni Cancellarii ibidem 
constituit et ordinavit cum auctoritate ex- 
cendi et facdl omnia et singula que Dns Can- 
cellarius Angle prtextu officii sui prdci facre 
et exre potuisset et valeret, &c. The cir- 
cumstantiality of the Close Roll historiogra- 
pher of the Great Seal is very amusing, as be 
not only tells us the day, the hour, the house, 
the room in the house, and in whose presence 
the transfer was made, but the colour of the 
leathern bag in which the Great Seal was 

b 1 Part. Hist. 559. 

c Mem. qd vicesimo primo die Aprilis, &c. 
Thomas Audley Miles Dns Audley de Walden 
tune Cancellarius Anglie infirmitate corporis 
debilitatus et considerans se ipln ex occone 
non valere excere et facre ea que ad officium 
suum tarn in ministrando leges dci Dmni 
Regis justiceam qm in supervidendo pccssum 
per magnum sigillum dcti Dni Regis sigil- 
landum d'cum sigillum in manilms ipsius 
Thome, Dmni Cancellarii adtunc existens 
prlto . Drib Regi per Edvvardum North Mili- 
tem et Thomam Pope Militem misit Qui 
quidem Edwardus et Thomas Pope sigillum 
illud in quadam baga de albo corio inclusum 
et sigillo del Dni Cancellarii munitum regie 
Majestali apud novum palacium suum Westm. 
in camera sua privata circa horam terciam 
post meridiem in presentia Thome Heneage, 
Sec., presentarunt ct obtulerunt humiliter 
suppliantes ex parte dci Thome Dni Cancel- 
larii eandem regiam majestatem quatenus 
idem Dns Rex siRillum suum prdm recre et 
icceptare dignr Qui Dns Rex sigillum illuil 


The following letter, which was lately discovered in the 
Augmentation Office, exhibits a curious picture of the dying 
Chancellor's plans and anxieties. It is written by his secreta- 
ries, who afterwards were his executors, to Sir Anthony Denny, 
who did, as proposed, obtain the wardship of the Lady 
Margaret after her father's decease, although the projected 
match did not take place, and she formed much higher 
alliances : 

" After owre righte hartie commendacions we shall like vow tunder- 
stande the phisicions dispaire very mouche in o r goode Lorde Chauncello r 
his helthe ; and suerly for (/ parts we thinke his Lordship to be in 
Create danger, and that there is small hoope of his recoverye. "VTher- 
fore, forasmouche as before this ryme we knowing his Lordship's ernest 
disposition and hartie good wille to joyne withe yow in manage betwixte 
your sonne and his eldest doughter wherin yt hathe pleased hym 
oftentymes to use cure poore advise, we have theribre thought 
goode to signifie his state to yowe to thentente yow may further de- 
clare the same unto the Kings ma tie ; and therupon to be an humble 
suter unto his highnes for the prefermente of his saide eldest doughter, 
whorne we beleve he coulde be contente right hartilye amongest other his 
legasies to bequethe unto yowe, so he mighte dispose her as he maye 
other his possessions and moveables. And thus mooste hartily fare vow 
well. From Crechurche, this Wedynsdaye. 

" Your own, most assuredlye, 

" THO. POPE." 

On the 30th of April following, Audley expired in the 56th 
year of his age. 

He is a singular instance of a statesman, in the reign of 
Henry VIII., remaining long in favour and in office, and 
dying a natural death. Eeckoning from the time when he 
was made Speaker of the House of Commons, he had been 
employed by Henry constantly since the fall of Wolsey. 
under six Queens, avoiding the peril of acknowledging 
the Pope on the one hand, or offending against the Six 
Articles on the other. He enjoyed great power, amassed 
immense wealth, was raised to the highest honours and dig- 
nities, and reaped what he considered a full recompense for his 
" infamy." 

Such a sordid slave does not deserve that we should say 
more of his vices or demerits. It has been observed, that the 
best apology for Wolsey was the contrast between the early 
and the latter part of Henry's reign ; and Audley's severest 


condemnation must be a review of the crimes which, if he did 
not prompt, he abetted. He might have been reproached by 
his master, in the language of a former tyrannical sovereign of 

" Hadst tliou but shook thy head, or made a pause, 
Or tum'd an eye of doubt upon my face, 
Beep shame had struck me dumb." 

But no eunuch in a seraglio was ever a more submissive tool 
of the caprice and vengeance of a passionate and remorseless 
master than was Lord Chancellor Audley. 

According to a desire expressed in his will, he was buried at 
Saffron Walden, in the chancel of the parish church which he 
had erected. There an altar tomb of black marble was raised 
to him with the following inscription, which some suppose 
that, in imitation of his immediate predecessor, he had himself 
composed ; and which Fuller quaintly enough calls " a lament- 
able epitaph." 

" The stroke of Deathe's inevitable Dart . Hath now alas of lyfe beraft the hart . Of Syr 
Thomas Audeley of the Garter Knight . Late Chancellour of England uuder owr Prince of 
Might . Henry Theight wyrthy high renowne . And made by Him Lord Audeley of this Town. 
Obiit ultimo die Aprilis, Anno Domini 1544, Regni Regis Henrici 8, 36, Cancellariatus sui 
13, et sua? jEtatis 66." 

The Chancellor espoused Lady Mary Grey, one of the 
daughters of Thomas, second Marquis of Dorset. Any one 
might have supposed that he would have been sufficiently proud 
of such a noble alliance, whereas he actually sued the King 
for further recompense, as he expresses himself, "/or repara- 
tion of my pour marriage, wherein his Majeste was the principall 
doer." d 

Lady Audley, who survived her husband many years, bore 
to him two daughters ; Mary, who died in childhood, and 
Margaret, who became sole heir to her father's vast posses- 
sions. She married, first, Lord Henry Dudley, who fell at the 
battle of St. Quin tin's; and, secondly, Thomas fourth duke of 
Norfolk, by whom, amongst other issue, she had Thomas after- 
wards created Earl of Suffolk, who built Audley End, in honour 
of his maternal grandfather, 6 and from whom are descended the 
Earls of Suffolk and Berkshire, and Carlisle, the Earls and Mar- 
quises of Bristol, and the Lords Howard de Walden, besides 
the Earls of Bindon and Lords Howard of Escrick, whose 
titles are extinct. 

d Cottonian MSS. to be equalled, excepting Hampton Court, bj 

* " A stately palace," says Dugdale, " not any in this realm." Bar. tit " Audley." 


Lord Audley has been always considered as the founder of 
Magdalene College, Cambridge, which he endowed with large 
estates. He also authorised the society to use his arms ; and 
appointed " his heirs, the possessors of the late monastery of 
Walden, visitors of the College in perpetuum, with the right 
of nominating the masters ;" which privileges are still ex- 
ercised by Lord Braybrooke, the present owner of Audley 

i I am exceedingly indebted to this de- Lord Chancellor), for information enabling 
acendant of the illustrious Huuse of Neville me considerably to improve my memoir ol 
(several members of which held the office of Lord Audley. .Vote to 2nd Ed.Ui.on. 





THE new Chancellor displayed very different qualities from 
his predecessor, being a man of principle ; but he was, if pos- 
sible, a worse minister ; for, when invested with power, he 
proved narrow-minded, bigoted, and cruel. Fortunately, he 
was likewise rash and headstrong, so that his objects were 
generally defeated, and his political career was short. 

Thomas Wriothesley was sprung from a family long distin- 
guished in " Arms" for they were Heralds. John, his grand- 
father, was Garter King at Arms to Edward IV. Thomas, his 
uncle, filled the same office under Henry VII. \Villiam, his 
father, was Norroy King at Arms to that Sovereign. 

Thomas, the future Peer and Chancellor, early initiated in 
heraldic lore, was not contented with the prospect of wearing 
a tabard, making visitations, examining pedigrees, and mar- 
shalling processions. He therefore abjured the Heralds' Col- 
lege, took to the study of the common law, and was called to 
the bar. He was a diligent student, and made considerable 
proficiency in his legal studies, but he does not seem ever to 
have risen into much practice as an advocate ; and he showed 
a preference of politics to law. In 1535, having recommended 
himself to Lord Chancellor Audley, through his interest an 
office of considerable emolument was conferred upon him in 
the Court of Common PleavS. Three years after he was made 
Secretary of State, a post beginning to be important, but still 
very inferior to its present rank, as then the Lord Chancellor 
conducted foreign negotiations, and attended to the internal 
administration of 'the country. He was a warm adherent of 
the old faith, to which Henry himself was sincerely attached, 
except in as far as the " supremacy " was concerned ; and with 
the Duke of Norfolk and Gardyner, he formed the party 
actually opposed to the Keforniation, who procured the passing 
of " the Six Articles." 

He was now in such high favour, that he was employed in 


the embassy sent by Hemy during his widowhood, after the 
death of Jane Seymour, to negotiate a marriage for A D 153g 
him with Christiana, the I)uchess Dowager of Milan, 
then in Flanders, at the Viceregal Court. This negotiation 
failed, and so did another of the same kind, in which \\ riothes- 
ley was engaged for an alliance with Mary of Guise, who 
preferred the youthful King of Scotland, James V., Henry's 
nephew. The negotiator, in consequence, was some time in 
disgrace : but luckily for him he had strenuously opposed a 
match with a German Princess, from the dread of the intro- 
duction of Lutheranism ; and the sight of Anne of Cleves ob- 
tained fur him warm thanks for the advice he had given. 

After the fall of Cromwell, \Vriothesley might be considered 
prime minister ; for Audley did not aspire higher than to re- 
main in office to execute the measures of others. As the chief 
in the King's confidence, he went abroad to negotiate in 
person the treaty with the Emperor Charles V., which, to his 
great delight, led to the restoration of the Princess Mary to her 
place in the line of the royal succession, and opened the pro- 
spect of the suppression of Lutherani^m. 

The bounties of the Crown were now lavished upon him. 
On the death of Bobert Earl of Sussex, he was made Chamber- 
lain of the Exchequer, and Constable of Southampton and Por- 
chester castles ; the possessions of the dissolved abbey of 
Tichfield were granted to him, and he was raised to the 
peerage by the title of Baron Wiiothesley of Tichfield, in the 
County of Hants. 

The disgrace of Queen Catherine Howard had been a heavy 
affliction to him and to all true Koman Catholics, as she was an 
avowed protectress of the old faith ; and very anxious to have 
seen another of the same ecclesiastical opinions succeed her as 
consort to the sovereign, he from time to time recommended 
alliances with reigning houses in Europe who remained true 
to Eome. He was exceedingly surprised and shocked, there- 
fore, when he was told one morning by the King that he had 
resolved to marry the Lady Catherine Par, a widow of unim- 
peached private character : but, in religion, regarded as little 
better than a Lritheran. He was very much alarmed by ap- 
prehension of the influence she might acquire, and the advan- 
tage she might give to the cause of the Reformation, which, ir 
spite of frequent executions for heresy, was daily 
gaining ground in England. He did not venture 
upon the idle task of combating the King's inclination ; and 

i 2 


he passively saw the ceremony of the marriage performed by 
Gardyner, Bishop of Winchester, in the Queen's Privy Closet 
at Hampton Court, although Cranmer, actuated by contrary 
feelings, to hasten and secure the match, had granted a 
special licence, dispensing with the publication of banns and 
all contrary ordinances. 

Wriothesley, nevertheless, under the influence of misguided 
zeal, resolved, for the good of the Church, to take the earliest 
opportunity of making the new Queen share the fate of her 
predecessors ; sanguine in the hope that she would be indis- 
creet, and that the King would be relentless. 

The declining health of Lord Audley showed that a vacancy 
in the office of Chancellor was at hand, and Wriothesley, 
without hesitation, agreed to accept it ; for its duties were 
not considered at all incompatible with those of prime minis- 
ter ; and the patronage and emoluments peculiarly belonging 
to it, made it always an object of the highest ambition. 

Audley 's resignation taking place on the 22nd of April, 
1 544, we have seen that on the same day the Great Seal was 
delivered to Wriothesley, with the modest title of " Lord 
Keeper during the illness of the Chancellor." Having grate- 
fully received it from the King at Whitehall, he carried it to 
his house in Cannon Eow, and there, the following day, " he 
held a Seal." 8 

On Friday, the 30th of April, the first day of Easter Term, 
while Audley was breathing his last, the Lord Keeper publicly 
took the oaths in the Court of Chancery in Westminster Hall. 
His abjuration of the Pope was very ample, and must have 
cost him a severe pang, unless he had a dispensation for taking 

" T, Thomas Wriothesley, Knyght, Lorde Wriothesley, Lorde Keeper 
of the Erode Seale, havynge now the vaile of darkness of the usurped 
power, auctoritie, and jurisdiccion of the See and Bishoppes of Rome 
clearly taken away from myne eyes, do utterly testifie and declare in 
my conscience, that neyther the See, nor the Bishop of Rome, nor any 
foraine potestate, hath nor ought to have any jurisdiccion, power, or 
auctoritie within this realme, neither by Godd's lawe, nor by any other 
juste lawe or meanes ; and though by sufferance and abusions in tynies 
passed, they aforesaide have usurped and vendicated a fayned and un- 
lawful power and jurisdiccion within this realme, wliiche hath ben sup- 
ported tyll fewe yeres passed, therefore, by cause it myght be denied, 
and thought thereby that I toke or take it for just and good, I therefore 
ncwe do clerely and frankeley renounce, refuse, relinquishe, and forsake 

Rot. Cl. 36 Hen. 8. 


the pretended auctoritie, power, and jurisdiction both of the See an 
Bishop of Rome, and of all other foraine powers ; and that I shall uevei 
consent nor agre that the foresaid See or Bishop of Rome, or any of their 
successours, shall practise, exercise, or hare any manner of auctoritie, 
jurisdiccion, or power within this realme, or any other the Kynge's 
realmes or domynions, nor any foraine potestate, of what estate, d'egree, 
or coiidiccion soever he be, but that I shall resiste the same at all tvmes 
to the uttermost of my power, and that I shall accepte, repute, and take 
the Kynse's majestic, his heyres, and successors, when they or any of 
them shall enjoy his place, to be the only supreme Head in earth, under 
God, of the Churche of England and Ireland, and of all other his Hig- 
nesse's dominions ; and in case any other hathe ben made by me to any 
person or persons in maintenance, defence, or favour of the See and 
Bishop of Rome, or his auctoritie, jurisdiccion, or power, I reporte the 
same as vague and adnihilate, and shall holly and trewely observe and 
kepe this othe. So helpe me God, all Sainctes, and the Holy Evan- 
gelists." h 

The old Duke of Norfolk, who had so often officiated on such 
occasions, attended this installation, but we have no account f 
any orations delivered, and probably the ceremony was made 
as short and simple as possible, out of delicacy to the dying 

On the third day after his death the Lord Keeper brought 
the Great Seal to the King at Whitehall, and resigned it into 
his hands. His Majesty, sitting on his throne, having accepted 
it, re-delivered it to him, with the title of " Lord Chancellor/' 
making a speech very complimentary both to the deceased and 
the living Chancellor.' 

There was then a grand procession from the Palace to 
Westminster Hall ; and in the Court of Chancery the Duke oi 
Norfolk, by the King's command, again administered the oaths 
to the new Chancellor, and installed him in his office. 

Although bred to the law, he had never been thoroughly 
imbued with its principles nor versed in its forms ; and his 
scanty legal learning had been almost entirely forgotten by 

h Rot. Cl. 36 Hen. 8. cif y the "Maes of the Master of the Rolls, 

i " DEi Rex in solio sno regali sedens et * ld a {^assemblage present, and to slate 

rigillum pfdSn in baga predict* inclusum ^ * ?"**"* the ba S 

and taken out the seal, sealed a writ with it 

manu sna tenens pott verba ad prftum Tho- ^ nslOTed it ^ the ^ ^^ it off wilh 

*um WriotlusUy et o/u* ibidem prestes ha- him> ^ describes ^e ceremony of his 

bita. sigillum illud prefto Thome Dno Wri- swearing in ; but instead of again setting cut 

othley tanqm Dno CancelUrio Anglie tra- the oath of supremacy, merely gays. " I, Tho. 

didi^ et redeliberavit ipsumque Thomam mas Wriothesley, Knight, Lorde Wriothesley, 

Dium Wriothesley Cancellarium suum Anglie Lorde Chancellor of England, havynge now 

constitnit." The entry then goes on to pe- the vaile of darkness,' &c., ut supra. 


him since he had abandoned professional for political pur. 

He accordingly found himself very inadequate to the dis- 
charge of the judicial duties of his office, and the public com- 
plained loudly of his delays and mistakes. He continued to 
sit during Easter and Trinity Terms, pelted by motions which 
he knew not how to dispose of, and puzzled by causes the 
bearings of which he could hardly be made to understand ; 
perplexed by the conflicting assertions of the opposite counsel 
as to the doctrine and practice of the Court ; his chief solici- 
tude being to conceal his ignorance from the bar and the by- 
standers ; desirous to do what was right both for his own 
conscience and his credit, but with constant apprehensions 
that his decisions were erroneous, and that he was ridiculed 
in private, even by those who flattered him in his presence. 
At last the long vacation came to his relief, during which, in 
those times, the tranquillity of the Chancellor was little dis- 
turbed by motions for injunctions or summary applications of 
any sort. 

He now applied himself to the study of the few cases in the 
recent Year Books as to where " a subpoena lies," and tried 
to gain information from the officers of the Court to qualify 
him for a more satisfactory performance of his part in " the 
marble chair ; " but as Michaelmas Term approached, his heart 
failed him, and he resolved not again to expose himself to the 
anxieties and indignities he had before suffered. Nevertheless, 
he by no means intended to resign the Great Seal, and with 
the King's consent, on the 9th of October, 1544, k he issued a 
commission to Sir Kobert Southwell, Master of the Eolls, 
and several others, to hear causes in the Court of Chancery 
during his absence. He afterwards took his seat in court 
occasionally, as a matter of form ; but on these Commissioners 
he, in reality, devolved all the judicial business of his office, 
and during the remainder of the reign of Henry VIII. he 
devoted himself entirely to matters of state and religion. 

There was now profound peace with France and the Em- 
peror, and the public attention was absorbed by the struggle 
between the favourers and opposers of the new doctrines. The 
Chancellor was at the head of the latter party, and showed 
the qualities of a Grand Inquisitor, rather than of an en- 
lightened minister to a constitutional King. 

Henry, his pride and peevishness increasing as his health 

k Eot. CL 36 Hen. 4, 


declined, was disposed to punish with fresh severity all who 
presumed to entertain a different speculative notion from him- 
self respecting religion, particularly on any point embraced by 
the " Sis Articles " framed against Lutheranism ; and the 
Chancellor, instead of restraining and soothing, urged on and 
inflamed his persecuting spirit. 

In spite of all these efforts the reformed doctrines gained 
ground, and were even becoming fashionable at Court under 
the secret countenance of the Queen. The alarm was given 
by the indiscretion of Anne Ascue, one of her maids, a young 
lady of great beauty, of gentle manners, and warm imagination, 
who had had the temerity to declare in a large company, 
" that in her opinion, after the consecration of the elements 
in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the substance of bread 
and wine still remains in them." Tliis conversation 
being reported to the King and the Chancellor, she 
was summoned and examined before the Council. Being me- 
naced by Bonner, who was beginning to show that disposition 
which proved so formidable in a succeeding reign, she recanted 
to a certain degree, but still under qualifications which were 
not satisfactory, and she was committed to prison on a charge 
of heresy. This severity only heightened her enthusiasm : 
she now saw the crown of martyrdom within her reach, and 
she resolved to court it by boldly asserting her religious princi- 
ples. A letter which she wrote to the King, saying, " as to 
the Lord's Supper, she believed as much as Christ himself 
had taught or the Catholic Church required, but that she 
could not assent to his ]tlajesty's explication of the doctrine," 
was considered a fresh insult, and as it was suspected that 
she was countenanced by the leaders of the Lutheran party 
at Court, the Lord Chancellor went himself in person to 
interrogate her in the hope of obtaining some evidence against 
Cranmer, or against the Queen. Anne freely answered all 
the Chancellors questions respecting her own faith, but she 
maintained an inviolable fidelity to her friends, and would 
give no information as to her instructors or participators in 
the heretical opinions she expressed. According to a cus- 
tom then common, defended by high authority as necessary to 
religion and good government, and not entirely abolished in 
England for near a century afterwards, she was thereupon 
ordered to be put to the torture. This being applied with 
great barbarity without extorting any confession, the Chan- 
cellor ordered the Lieutenant of the Tower to stretch the 


rack still further. The refractory officer refused compliance, 
though repeatedly ordered by the highest Judge in the land, 
and menaced with the King's displeasure and the utmost ven- 
geance of the law. Thereupon (such are the enormities which 
may "be prompted by superstitious zeal!) \Vriothesley, on 
ordinary occasions a humane man, now excited by resistance, 
and persuading himself that discoveries might be obtained 
which would do service to God, put his own hand to the 
rack and drew it so violently, that he almost tore asunder the 
tender limbs of his youthful and delicately formed victim. 
Her constancy still surpassed the barbarity of her persecutor, 
and he was obliged to withdraw, baffled and discomfited, lest 
she should die under his hands without the form of trial. m 

When he made complaint, as he had threatened, of the 
clemency of the Lieutenant of the Tower, it should be re- 
corded that Henry approved of the conduct of this officer, and 
refused to dismiss him. It was resolved, however, to proceed 
against Anne Ascue, according to the existing statutes ; and 
she was brought to trial, with several others, for denying 
the real presence. A clear case was proved against them ; 
and, under the law of the Six Articles, they were duly sen- 
tenced to be burnt. Anne was still so much dislocated by 
the rack, that she was carried in a chair to the place of 

The Chancellor, in the hope of saving the criminals, or of 
aggravating their guilt, made out a conditional pardon to 
them, to which, with the King's consent, he affixed the Great 
Seal ; and when they had been tied to the stake, before the 
torch was applied to the fagots which were to consume them, 
he communicated to them that the pardon which was shown 
them should be instantly handed to them if they would de- 
serve it by a recantation. Anne and her companions only con- 
sidered this offer a fresh garland to their crown of martyrdom ; 
and continuing their devotions, calmly saw the devouring 
flames rise around them. n 

Wriothesley soon after thought that he had got into his 
power a nobler victim, and that he might offer up a still more 
acceptable sacrifice. It should be borne in mind that, during 

m I am sorry for the honour of the law to to be the only instance of a woman being put 

say that Griffin, the Solicitor General, was to the torture in England. See Jardine's 

present at this scene, and, instead of inter- Reading on Torture, p. 65. 

ceding for Anne, recommended himself to the n Fox, vol. ii. p. 578. Speed, p. 7 80. Baker, 

Chancellor by tightening the rope with his p. 299. 
own hand to add to her torture. This is said 


this reign, the situation of Queen was considered an office at 
Court to be struggled for by contending factions. The Catho- 
lics were most active in the prosecution of Anne Bolevn, 
and the divorce of Anne of Cleves : the Reformers had been 
equally active in the divorce of Catherine of Aragon, and the 
prosecution of Catherine Howard. Now the Catholics were 
eager to pull down Catherine Par, in the hope that a true 
Catholic might take her place on the throne. What no saint 
would promise to the supplicating Wriothesley, and what the 
rack would not accomplish for him, he thought that chance, or 
rather the good providence of God, had unexpectedly brought 
to pass. 

Gardyner came to him one morning to announce that the 
King had been gravely complaining to him of the Queen for 
abetting Lutheran doctrines in their tete-a-tete conversations, 
and for secretly sinning against the Six Articles ; and that 
his Majesty had favourably listened to the remarks he had 
hazarded to make to him, " that such misconduct could not be 
winked at by a King anxious for preserving the orthodoxy of 
his subjects." The Chancellor new into the royal presence 
to take proper advantage of this disposition, and eagerly re- 
presented, " that the more elevated the individual was who 
was made amenable to the law, and the nearer to his person, 
the greater terror would the example strike into eveiy one, 
and the more glorious would the sacrifice appear to posterity." 
Henry was so much touched by these topics, that he directed 
articles of impeachment to be drawn up against his consort, so 
that she might forthwith be brought to trial and arraigned ; 
and ordered that the following day she should be arrested by 
the Chancellor himself, and carried to the Tower of London. 
Wriothesley joyfully drew the articles, and brought them to 
the King for his royal signature ; without which it was not 
deemed regular or safe to take any farther step in the prose- 
cution. Henry signed the paper without hesitation, and the 
execution of another Queen seemed inevitable. 

By some means, the contents of this paper became known 
to a friend of Catherine, who instantly warned her of her 
danger. She fainted away at the intelligence. On recovering 
her senses, she uttered frightful shrieks, and she well might 
have anticipated, after a mock trial, a speedy death on Tower 
Hill ; for hitherto the King had never relented in any capital 
prosecution once commenced against wife or minister. She 
was told that her only chance of escape was to seem ignorant 


of his intentions, and to try to soothe and to disarm him 
before there should publicly be taken against her any step, 
from which he could not recede without risking his reputation 
for firmness and courage. She showed much presence of 
mind, and went to pay the King her usual visit with a 
tranquil and cheerful air. He began, as he had lately done, 
to challenge her to an argument on divinity, thinking he 
should obtain a still plainer avowal of her heterodoxy. But 
she said, " She humbly hoped she might be permitted to de- 
cline the conversation, as such profound speculations were 
ill-suited to the natural imbecility of women, who, by their 
first creation, were made subject to men, the male being 
created after the image of God, the female after the image of 
the male ; it belonged, therefore, to the husband to choose 
principles for his wife, the wife's duty being, in all cases, to 
adopt implicitly the sentiments of her husband. As for her- 
self, it was doubly her duty, being blest with a husband who 
was qualified by his learning and judgment, not only to pre- 
scribe articles of faith for his own family, but for the most 
wise and knowing of every nation." This speech, so artfully 
adapted to his peculiar notions of female submission and his 
own fancied superiority, delivered with such apparent sin- 
cerity, for he did not suspect that she was at all aware of 
the pending prosecution, so pleased him, that he exclaimed, 
" Not so ! by St. Mary ; you are now become a doctor, Kate, 
and better fitted to give, than to receive instruction." 

She followed up her success by meekly observing, that she 
was little entitled to such praise on the present occasion, as 
the sentiments she now expressed she had ever entertained ; 
that, though she had been in the habit of joining in any con- 
versation proposed by his Majesty, she well knew her concep- 
tions on any topics beyond domestic affairs could only give 
him a little momentary amusement ; that, finding their col- 
loquy sometimes apt to languish when not quickened by some 
opposition, she had ventured to feign a difference of opinion, 
in order to give him the pleasiire of refuting her, and that all 
she purposed by this artifice, which she trusted he would 
deem innocent, was to engage him in discussions, whence she 
had herself derived profit and instruction. " And is it indeed 
so, sweetheart?" replied the King; " then are we perfect 

Luckily for her, there was no fair maid of hers on whom 
he had cast an eye of affection, and whom he had destined for 


all Catherine's eloquence would not have saved 
her from the penalties of heresy and treason ; but having no 
other inclination, and having been pleased with her as a com- 
panion and a nurse, he sent her away with assurances of his 
kindness and protection. 

Xext day Henry and Catherine were conversing amicably 
in the garden when the Lord Chancellor, ignorant of the 
King's change of intention, appeared with forty poursuivants 
to arrest her and carry her to the Tower. She withdrew 
to some distance, saying that she supposed the Chancellor 
wished to speak with his Highness on public business. From 
There she stood she could hear the appellations of " Fool, 
knave, and least," bestowed with great emphasis upon the 
Chancellor, and an order at last given to him by the King, in 
a resentful tone, to depart his present ?. AYhen \\ riothesley was 
gone, Catherine ran up to the King, and tried to soothe him by 
putting in a good word for the object of his anger. " Poor 
soul," cried he, " you little know how ill entitled this man is 
to your kind offices." 

The orthodox Chancellor was still on the watch to find an 
occasion to do an ill turn to her whom he justly suspected of 
being in her heart Lutheran; but Catherine, cautious after 
narrowly escaping so great a peril, never more offended 
Henry's humour by any contradiction, and remained in his 
good graces to the end of his life. 

Wriothesley was now employed as a Commissioner to con- 
clude a treaty with Scotland, and conducted the negotiation 
so much to Henry's satisfaction, that he was installed a Knight 
of the Garter, being the second Chancellor who had reached 
this dignity. 

On the 23rd of November, 1546, met the only parliament 
called while Wriothesley was Chancellor. We do not find 
anywhere his speech at the opening of the session ; but if we 
may judge from what took place at the prorogation, it had 
not been much applauded ; and certainly it had not flattered 
the King to his liking. 

The first act of the session was to take away from the 
Chancellor a patronage which, the preamble recites. 
had been greatly abused, of appointing the Custos 
Eotulorum in every county, and to provide that the appoint- 
ment thereafter shall be directly by the King. But the 
great object of the King was to have made over to him by 

37 Hen. 8. c. 1. 


parliament certain colleges, chantries, and hospitals, with 
very extensive possessions, which were supposed to be con- 
nected with the Pope as their religious head, and were now 
dissolved. 11 The plunder of the monasteries was all dissipated, 
and, notwithstanding large subsidies, the Exchequer was 
empty. But this new fund, managed by the Court of Aug- 
mentations under the Chancellor's superintendence, brought 
in a tolerably sufficient revenue during the remainder of 
Henry's reign. 

At the close of the session, after the Speaker of the House 
of Commons had delivered his oration, the King himself made 
the reply, beginning in a manner not quite complimentary to 
Lord Chancellor Wriothesley. " Although my Chancellor for 
the time being hath before this time used very eloquently and 
substantially to make answer to such orations, yet is he not 
able to open and set forth my mind and meaning, and the 
secrets of my heart, in so plain and ample a manner as I 
myself am and can do." His Majesty then, with modest 
vanity, disclaims the praises bestowed upon him ; but in such 
language as shows that he conceived they were well merited. 
" But of such small qualities as God hath endued me withal, 
I render to his goodness my most humble thanks, intending, 
with all my art and diligence, to get and acquire to me such 
notable virtues and princely qualities as you have alleged to 
be incorporate in my person." q 

This was the last time that Henry ever appeared upon the 
throne before Parliament. He had now grown immensely cor- 
pulent; he was soon after unable to stir abroad, and in his 
palace he could only be moved from one room to another by 
machinery. All began to look forward to a new reign, and 
there was intense anxiety as to the manner in which Henry 
would exercise the power conferred upon him by parliament 
to provide for the government of the country during the mino- 
rity of Prince Edward, and to direct the succession to the 
Crown on the death of his own children without issue. 

Wriothesley, the Chancellor, had the most constant access to 
him, and was eager that a settlement should be made the most 
favourable to the Catholic faith; but he was thwarted by 
the Seymours, the young Prince's uncles, who were strong 
favourers of the Eeformation, and determined, upon the ac- 
cession of their nephew, to engross the whole royal authority 
into their own hands. The King's will, drawn by Wriothesley, 

P 37 Hen. 8, c. 4. 1 Part. Hist. 562. 


was at last executed, but whether with the forms required by 
law is still a matter of controversy/ By this will "W riothesley 
himself was appointed one of the sixteen Executors, to whom 
was entrusted the government of the realm till the Prince, 
then a boy nine years old, should complete his eighteenth 
year, and he counted, with absolute certainty, upon the Great 
Seal remaining in his hands during the whole of that in- 

Through the agency of the Chancellor. Henry's reign had a 
suitable termination in the unjust prosecution of the Duke of 
Norfolk and the Earl of Surrey, the greatest subjects in the 
kingdom, the father deserving respect for his devoted services 
to the Crown, not less than for his illustrious birth ; and the 
son, distinguished by every accomplishment which became a 
scholar, a courtier, and a soldier, refining the language and 
softening the manners of the age, uniting the brilliant qua- 
lities of chivalry with the taste and cultivation of modern 
times, celebrating the praises of his mistress in the tourna- 
ment, as well as in the sonnet and the masque. It can hardly 
be supposed that Wriothesley planned their downfall, 
for they were of the same religious faith with him- 
self, unless it may be conjectured that he himself wished to be 
the head of the party, and to guide all its measures in the suc- 
ceeding reign. But admitting, what is more probable, that 
the Seymours, dreading the influence of the House of Howard, 
were the original instigators of this prosecution, Wriothesley, 
instead of resisting it, sanctioned and promoted it, making 
himself accessory to the murder of the son, and not having 
likewise to answer for that of the father, only by being sud- 
denlv freed from the inhuman master whose commands he was 
afraid, to disobey or to question. He concurred in the com- 
mitment of both of them to the Tower on the same day. Sur- 
rey being a commoner, a commission under the Great Seal 
was issued for his trial before a jury ; and this hope of his 
country, a man of undoubted loyalty and unsullied honour, 

T On the question, whether the power given not by any means an accurate lawyer, and in 

U> Henry to appoint to the succession was tbehnrry in which the instrument was exe- 

luly executed, depended in strictness the anted there is no improbability in supposing 

right of the Stuarts to the throne ; for he ex- that the conditions of the power were not 

iluded them, preferring the issue of his strictly fulfilled. At all events, after a lapse 

fonuger sister, married to the Duke of Suf- of 300 years, and the subsequent acts of sel- 

folk, whose descendants still exist. The tlement, our allegiance cannot much depend 

better opinion seems to be that the signature on this nicety. See Sail. Const. Hist. ToL i. 

by the stamp, though affixed by the King's p. 393. 
Command, was detective. Wriothesley was 


being convicted of high treason on no better evidence than 
that he had quartered the arms of Edward the Confessor on 
his scutcheon, by authority of a warrant signed by the 
Chancellor, was immediately executed. 8 

It was necessary to deal with the Duke of Norfolk as a Peer. 
A session of parliament being called on the 14th of January, 
1547, on the 18th a bill was brought into the House of Lords 
for his attainder, and passed that House on the 20th. The 
overt act of treason was, that he had said that " the King was 
sickly and could not hold out long, and the kingdom was 
likely to fall into disorders through the diversity of religious 
opinions." The bill being returned passed by the House of 
Commons on the 24th, the Lord Chancellor on the 27th having 
ordered all the Peers to put on their robes, and the Commons, 
with their Speaker, to attend at the bar, declared to both 
Houses that his Majesty wishing the bill for the attainder of 
the Duke of Norfolk to be expedited, that his office of Earl 
Marshal might be filled up by another, and being hindered by 
sickness from corning to give his royal assent to it in person, 
he had directed a commission to pass the Great Seal, autho- 
rising him and other Peers to give the royal assent to it in the 
King's name. The commission being read, the Lord Chan- 
cellor commanded the clerk of parliament to pronounce the 
words, Soitfait come il est desire ; and so it being passed into a 
law, a warrant was issued for the execution of Norfolk on the 
29th of January. 1 But early in the morning of that day news 
was brought to the Tower that Henry had expired in the 
night, and the lieutenant gladly suspended the execution of a 
sentence so uniust and tyrannical. 

In the reign of Mary the attainder was reversed, on the 
ground that the offence of which he was accused was not 
treason, and that Henry had not signed the commission, in 
virtue of which his pretended assent had been given to the act 
of parliament. 

On the 31st of January the Lord Chancellor formally an- 
nounced the King's death to both Houses : and, says the 
Journal, "the mournful news was so affecting to the Chan- 
cellor and all present that they could not refrain from tears ! " u 
It is impossible that there should not have been a general joy 

8 1 St. Tr. 453. shall hereafter see one of them weeping so as 

t 1 St. Tr. 457. 1 Parl. Hist. 561. to recall " the iron tears which rolled down 

u Several of the successors of St. Swithin the cheeks of Pluto." 
iave been much given to crying, and we 


at the deliverance of the country from the rule of such a heart- 
less tyrant. x 

A few sentences will be sufficient to notice the state of the 
equitable jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, and the 
changes in the law, during this reign. By the Statute of 
Uses, 27 H. 8, c. 10, it was proposed to confine all contro- 
versies respecting land to the Courts of common law, by pre- 
venting a severance between the legal and beneficial estate ; 
but the conveyancers and the Judges repealed the act of par- 
liament by the addition of three words to a deed ; and " uses " 
being revived under the name of " trusts," the jurisdiction of 
the Court of Chancery over land was confirmed and extended. 
The Statute of Wills, 32 H. 8, c. 1, for the first time gave a 
general power of devising real property : and the Statute of 
Limitations, 32 H. 8, c. 2, conferred an indefeasible right to it 
after an adverse possession of sixty years. 

The first Special Commission for hearing causes in Chan- 
cery was granted in this reign, while Cardinal Wolsey was 
sitting on the trial of Catherine's divorce. It was directed to 
the Master of the Eolls, four Judges, six Masters, and ten 
others, and authorised them, or any four of them, two being 
the Masters of the Rolls, Judges, or Masters, to hear, examine, 
and finally determine all causes in Chancery committed to 
them by the Chancellor, and to order execution thereon/ 

Although there are some valuable reports of common law 
cases in this reign, there is no trace of any of the decisions of 
Chancellors Warham, Wolsey, More, Audley, or Wriothesley ; 
and the rules by which they guided their discretion still re- 
mained vague or unknown. 

In this reign there were several instances of the Court of 
Chancery pronouncing decrees for divorces ; and there seemed 

r 1 must express my astonishment and re- tive of mercy, and for signing the death war- 
gret to find the character and conduct of rants which ordered the legal sentences to be 
Henry defended by such an able writer and put in force. He punished no one tyranni- 
excellent man as Mr. Sharon Turner, who cally without trial or legal condemnation." 
thus apologises for his worst acts : " None Turner's Hift. Eng. vol. x. p. 532. What 
of these severities were inflicted without the difference is there between procuring a house 
due legal authority. The verdict of juries, of parliament or a jury to convict an innocent 
the solemn judgment of the Peers, or attain- man of a capital charge, and hiring an a&sas- 
ders by both Houses of parliament on offences sin to take away his life? The most dan- 
proved to its satisfaction, pronounced all the gerous species of murder is that which U 
convictions, and produced the fatal sentence, committed under the forms of law. 
Every one was approved and sanctioned by T Rym. xiv. 299. This commission has 
the cabinet council of the government. The since been followed as a precedent for dele- 
Kine is responsible only for adopting the gations of the judicial authority cf 
hnrsh system, for not interposing his preroga- cellor. 


a probability that it would assume a jurisdiction to decree 
the specific performance of a contract to marry, and a re titu- 
tion of conjugal rights ; but it was afterwards held, that the 
Ecclesiastical Court alone has cognisance of marriage and 
divorce. 2 



ON the same day that Henry died the young King was pro- 
Jan. 28, claimed ; and the sixteen Executors assembled in the 
1547. Tower to commence their government in his name. 

Wriothesley thought he had so arranged matters that the 
chief power would be in his own hands. Archbishop Cranmer 
was the first on the list ; but he was not expected to mix much 
with secular affairs. Next came the Chancellor, who would 
naturally be looked up to as the real head, and would be 
enabled to guide the deliberations of the body. He therefore 
was most anxious that the King's will should be strictly ob- 
serve'd ; and as soon as they had taken their places at the 
board, and the will had been read, he moved "that it be re- 
solved not only to stand to and maintain the testament of their 
master the late King, and every part and article of the same to 
the uttermost of their power, wits, and cunning, but also that 
every one of them present should take a corporal oath for the 
more assured and effectual accomplishment of the same." This 
resolution could not be decently objected to ; the oath was 
taken, and the Chancellor thought himself secure. 

But the ceremony of swearing had hardly been concluded, 
when the Earl of Hertford, the King's uncle, who, as Lord 
Chamberlain, was only fourth in precedence in the Council, 
but who was determined to get all power into his own hands, 
suggested that, for the despatch of business, for the facility of 
communicating with foreign ambassadors, and for the purpose 
of representing on other occasions the person of the young 
Sovereign, it would be necessary to elect one of the Council to 
preside, with such title as might be agreed upon ; and that he 

1 See Tothill, 124. De Manniville v. De Court of Chancery still decides in matrimo 
Manniville, 10 Ves. 60. In .America the nial suits. 


himself would willingly submit to any one whom a majority 
aiight prefer. Thereupon, according to a concerted plan, a 
creature of Hertford's moved that he, as nearest in blood to 
the Bang, and not in the line of succession to the throne, and 
eminent for his abilities and virtues, should be appointed 
governor of the King's person, and Protector of the realm. 

Wriothesley rose, and with fury opposed a measure which 
he saw would reduce himself to insignificance. He insisted 
that it would be a direct infringement of the late King's will, 
which, being made under a statute, had all the force of an act 
of the legislature, and could not be altered but by the same 
authority which had established it. 5y the words and the 
spirit of the instrument under which they were there assem- 
bled, all the Executors were equal, and were intended to re- 
main so during the King's minority ; and it would be mon- 
strous to place one of them over the rest as Protector, an 
undefined and ill-omened title, which the chronicles showed 
was always the forerunner of broils and civil war. 

To his astonishment and consternation, however, he found 
that he made no impression upon his audience, and that a 
majority had been secured by has rival, who had been lavish 
of his promises in case he should be elected. Wriothesley was 
likewise personally unpopular, and his adherence to the old 
religion was strongly against him, the current now running 
very strong in favour of the Eeformation. Seeing that opposi- 
tion would be vain, he abstained from calling for a division ; 
and he pretended to be contented with an assurance, which he 
knew would prove fallacious, that the new officer should in no 
case act without the assent of a majority of the Council. 

All the Lords, spiritual and temporal, were now assembled 
in the Chamber of Presence, into which the Executors con- 
ducted the young Edward. Each in succession having kissed 
his hand kneeling, and uttered the words " God save youi 
Grace !" the Chancellor explained to the assembly the disposi- 
tions in the will of their late Sovereign, and the resolution of 
the Executors to put the Earl of Hertford at their head, 
without hinting at his own disapproval of this step. All pre- 
sent unanimously signified their assent : the new Protector ex- 
pressed his gratitude for " the honour which had been so unex- 
pectedly conferred upon him ;" and Edward, pulling off his cap. 
said, " We heartily thank you, my Lords all ; and hereafter, 
in all that ye shall have to do with us for any suit or can?eh, 
ye shall be heartily welcome." 

VOL. n. K 


In the next measure of the new government, there was the 
greatest respect professed for the late King, and it had the 
unanimous support of all the Executors. There was a clause in 
Henry's will, requiring them " to see that all the promises he 
had made in his lifetime should be fulfilled after his death," 
without any statement in writing what those promises were. 
According to the precedent of Anthony, acting as executor 
under the will of Caesar, they asserted that what was con- 
venient to themselves nact oeen promised by the testator. 
Three gentlemen of his privy chamber, with whom he had 
been most familiar, and who knew that their assertion would 
not be questioned, being called before the Board of Eegency, 
declared they had heard Henry say, shortly before his death, 
that he intended to make Hertford Duke of Somerset, Wrio- 
thesley Earl of Southampton, and so to confer on all of them 
the titles in the peerage which they coveted down to Sir 
Eichard Eich, who was to be made Baron Eich ; with suitable 
grants to all of them to support their new dignities. It should 
be recorded, to the honour of two of the Council, St. Leger 
and Danby, that they declined the proposed elevation ; but all 
the rest accepted it, and our Chancellor became the Earl of 
Southampton. 8 

Though he gained his title, he speedily lost his office. Not- 
withstanding a seeming reconciliation, as often as he and the 
Protector met in council, it was evident that there was a bitter 
enmity between them. Wriothesley, under pretence that 
nothing was to be done by the Protector without the authority 
of a majority of the Executors, tried to form a party against 
him, and thwarted him in all his measures. Somerset, feeling 
that he then had a decided majority in the Council, but 
doubtful how long with such intrigues it might last, was re- 
solved, as soon as possible, to get rid of so dangerous a com- 

The Chancellor soon furnished him with a pretence. We 
have seen how, in the time of Henry VIII., disliking judicial 
business, and feeling himself unfit for it, he issued, with the 
King's consent, a commission to the Master of the Eolls and 
others to sit for him in the Court of Chancery. 1 " Now, that he 
might enjoy ease, and devote himself to his ambitious projects, 
he of his own mere motion, without royal warrant, or the 
authority of the Board of Eegency, issued a similar commission 

a However, he is not known in history by his family name 
this title, and I shall continue to call him by b Ante, p. 118. 


to four lawyers, empowering them to hear all manner of causes 
in his absence ; and giving to their decrees the same force as 
if they had been pronounced by himself, provided that, before 
enrolment, they were ratified by his signature. 

Upon the Commissioners taking their seats in the Court of 
Chancery, there were murmurs among the barristers ; and 
these coming to the ears of the delighted Somerset, he secretly 
suggested that a petition upon the subject should be presented 
to the Council. This being received as the spontaneous com- 
plaint of " the undersigned, actuated by a great respect for 
the constitution, and the due administration of justice," a re- 
ference was made to the Judges to pronounce upon the validity 
of the commission, and the nature of the offence committed by 
issuing it, if it were illegal. The Chancellor did not resist 
this proceeding, being in hopes that the Judges would take 
part with the head of the profession ; but they, anticipating 
his downfall, returned for answer, that " the Chancellor having 
affixed the Great Seal without sufficient warrant to the com- 
mission, the commission was void, and that he had been guilty 
of an offence against the King, which, at common law, was 
punishable with loss of office, and fine and imprisonment, at 
the King's pleasure." He called for a second reference to 
them, on the ground that they had not properly considered the 
question, thinking that he might procure some of them to re- 
tract. They counted on the firmness of the Protector, and all 
adhered to their former opinion. A motion was now made in 
council to pronounce judgment against him, of deprivation of 
his office of Chancellor, and to sentence him to fine and impri- 
sonment. He spoke boldly and ably in his defence, treating 
the opinion of the Judges with great contempt ; and arguing 
that the commission was fully justified by former precedents. 
But if it were illegal for want of any form, he contended that 
the Council could only revoke it ; and to avoid dispute, he was 
willing that it should at once be cancelled. He added, that if 
they hesitated to allow him the assistance enjoyed by former 
Chancellors, he was himself ready to do all the duties of the 
office in person ; but that, holding the office by patent, and 
the late King's will, made under an act of parliament, having 
confirmed the grant, he could not be deprived of it during the 
minority of Edward. If there were any charge against him, 
he appealed to parliament, which alone could deal with his 

He found, however, a most determined resolution against 

K 2 


him in a majority of the Council, and he knew not to what ex- 
tremities they might resort if he continued to defy them. To 
avoid going to the Tower, he said he should submit to their 
pleasure, and begged permission (which was granted) that he 
might return to his house in Ely Place, Holborn, while they 
deliberated upon his fate. 

It was instantly resolved that he should be removed from 
the office of Chancellor and his seat in the Council. The same 
evening the sentence was communicated to him, with an inti- 
mation that he must remain a prisoner in his house till, upon 
further deliberation, the amount of his fine should be ascer- 
tained. Lord Seymour of Sudeley, the Protector's brother, Sir 
Anthony Brown, and Sir Edward North, were immediately 
sent to demand the Great Seal from him. He quietly surren- 
dered it to them, and they carried it to Somerset, who, on re- 
ceiving it into his hands, said to himself, " I am at last Lord 
Protector." But, freed for a time from all rivalry, he played 
such fantastic tricks that he raised up fresh enemies, dis- 
gusted the nation, and, before long, was himself brought to 
the block. 

No sooner was Wriothesley removed than the Protector 
caused the Great Seal to be affixed to letters patent, formally 
setting aside the King's will, and conferring on himself the 
whole authority of the Crown. A new Council was appointed, 
from which Wriothesley was excluded, with power to the Pro- 
tector to add to their number, and to select from the whole 
body such individuals as he should think fit to form th< 

r The entry of this transaction in the dem Comitem prtextu mandati prdri apud 

Ctoss Roll is very curious. " Mem. qd Die Hospit. pjusdem Comitis in Holbourn London 

itoka videlt, &c. Magnum Sigillum ipsius ^ J Place in W** inte ri Ca- 

OH Regis in custodia Thome Comitis South- ^era ib.dem circa horam septimam post 

. .. meridiem ejusdem diei nobil. vins Thome 

ampton tune Cancellar. Anglie ex.stens per Seymour ^ orf|nig ^^ miljt . ^ 

mandatum ejusdem Dni Kegis de avisamento Seymour de Sudleyi &c . libatum fuit Rnsqui . 

Dni Duels Somerset psone regie Gubernatoris dem Thomas Dns. Seymour, &c. Sigillum 

ac Regn. Protectoris necnon aHorum de p rdra . ; n ^aga predicta inclusum et sigillo 

consilio suo in manus ejusdem Dni Regis ips. Comitis mnnitum de manibus ips Co- 

resumptum esc idemque Comes adtunc de mitis recipiet illud circa horam nonam post 

officio Cancellarii Angl. ob offens. et trans- meridiem prci diei in prsencia Wolli Paulet, 

gress. pr ipsum perpetrat. et alias justas et &c. prnobili viro Edwardo Duci Somerset 

ronabiles causas exonatus et amotus fuit. Dno Protectori prdco in Camera siia infra 

Sup. quo idem Mag. Sigill. in quadam baga nov. Palac. West, prfto Dno Regi prstand. 

de corio inclusum et coopt. alia baga de vel- libaverunt" 
veto rubeo* insigniis regiis ornat. per eun- 

* This is the first mention I find of the red velvet bag, with the royal arms, in which the 
Great Seal is now enclosed. 


Cabinet ; but he was not bound to follow their advice, and he 
wa>; empowered in every case to decide according to his own 
judgment till the King should have completed his eighteenth 

Wriothesley was not further molested, and remained quiet 
for two years, till the Protector, by the execution of his 
brother Lord Seymour, the contempt with which he treated all 
who approached him, and the imbecility and rashness of his 
measures of government, had rendered himself universally 
odious, and was tottering to his fall. 

The Ex-Chancellor now contrived to get himself reinstated 
in the Council, and he associated himself with Dudley c 

-,--!, -. , . , \ Sept. 1549. 

Earl of \\ arwick, a man, from his energy and want 
of principle, rising into consequence, and destined soon to fill 
a great space in the eyes of mankind. They formed a party. 
to which they drew in the Earl of Amndel, Lord St. John, 
and several other members of the Council, and. holding their 
meetings at Ely House, prepared measures for depriving 
Somerset of all his authority. 

At last the crisis arrived. The Councillors assembled in 
Hoi born, assumed to themselves the functions of government, 
and professed to act under the powers conferred upon them as 
executors under the late King's will. 

The Protector earned off" the King from Hampton Court to 
Windsor Castle, under an escort of 500 men, and issued orders 
to the adjoining counties to come in for the guard of the royal 
person. A manifesto was issued, prepared by Wriothesley, 
forbidding obedience to these orders, detailing the misconduct 
of the Protector, and accusing him of a design, after the 
destruction of the nobility, to substitute himself in the place of 
the young Sovereign. The Lord Mayor and citizens of London 
took part with the Council ; most of the executors joined them ; 
the Protector found himself deserted at Windsor ; and Secre- 
tary Petre, whom he had despatched with a threatening mes- 
sage to Ely House, instead of returning, sent him word that 
he adhered to the lawful government. 

Somerset was as abject in his adverse fortune as he had been 
insolent in prosperity. He submitted unconditionally to all 
the demands of his adversaries, abdicated the Protectorship, 
allowed himself to be quietly committed to the Tower, and 
there signed a confession of the articles of charge which his 
enemies had drawn up against him. 

These proceedings had been chiefly conducted by the advice 


of Wriothesley, who was now in a state of ecstasy, not only 
from the prospect of being reinstated in his office of Chancellor, 
but (what he really valued more, though a man of great per- 
sonal ambition) of being now able to check the Eeformation, 
which Somerset had so much favoured, and of bringing back 
the nation to the true faith. Warwick had hitherto pretended 
to be of the same religious principles, and he reckoned, without 
any misgiving, on his co-operation, resolved to retain his 
own ascendency. But he suddenly found that he had been 
made the tool of a man of deeper intrigue, who was not em- 
barrassed by any regard to principle or consistency. He saw 
himself at once drop into insignificance, and the Eeformation 
received a new impulse. Warwick had the great advantage of 
being a man of the sword, and he had acquired considerable 
reputation by his military exploits. He was, besides, of capti- 
vating address, while the manners of the Ex-Chancellor were 
cold and repulsive. The councillors, the nobility, and the 
common people, therefore, did not hesitate, at this juncture, to 
hail him as leader, and his power was absolute. He is believed 
really to have been in favour of the Romish religion ; but 
finding that the young King was deeply imbued with the new 
doctrines, and that they were becoming more and more popular, 
he suddenly turned round, and professed a determination 
steadily to support all the ecclesiastical reforms introduced 
since the commencement of the present reign. 

Wriothesley, in anguish, made several bold attempts at 
Feb 1550 resist^ 1106 5 tmt meeting with no support, and War- 
wick, who thought he might become a dangerous 
rival, taking every opportunity to affront him, he withdrew 
from the Council, and through disappointment and vexation he 
fell into a dangerous illness, from which he did not recover. 
Never again taking any part in public affairs, he languished 
till the end of the year 1550, and then died of a broken heart. 

Shortly before his death he made his will, by which he left 
his rich collar of the garter to the King, all his garters and 
Georges to the Earl of Pembroke, and his large landed estates 
to his sons. 

Expiring in his town house, where Southampton Buildings 
now stand, he was buried in the church of St. Andrew, Holborn ; 
but there is no monument or inscription to mark the spot where 
his dust reposes. 

In estimating his character, it would be most unjust to apply 
to it the standard of modern times. In his age toleration was 

A.D. 1550. HIS DESCENDANTS. 135 

as little sanctioned by the followers of the Eeformation as by 
the adherents to the Papal supremacy ; and though we deplore 
the extremes to which he was can-led by his mistaken zeal, we 
must honour the sincerity and constancy by which he was dis- 
tinguished from the great body of the courtiers of Henry VIII., 
and the leaders of faction in the reign of Edward VI., who 
were at all times disposed to accommodate their religious faith 
to their personal interest. Even Burnet says, that " although 
he was fiercely zealous for the old superstition, yet was he 
otherwise a great person." d 

His descendants continued to flourish in the male line for 
three generations, and were men of note both under the Tudors 
and Stuarts. His great-grandson, the Earl of Southampton, 
the personal friend of Charles I., and Lord Treasurer to 
Charles II., having no male issue, the heiress of the family 
was married to the unfortunate Lord Eussell, and was the 
famous Eachel Lady Eussell who behaved so heroically on the 
trial of her husband, and whose virtues, extolled by Burnet, 
are best illustrated by her own simple, sweet, and touching 
letters. The present Bedford family thus represent Lord 
Chancellor Wriothesley, resembling him in sincerity and steadi- 
ness of purpose, but happily distinguished for mildness and 
liberality instead of sternness and bigotry.' 

d Reform, i. Zi2. 
Itagd. Baron, tit " Southampton." Wiffen's " History of the HOMC of Russell." 




As this individual held the Great Seal of England in his own 
March 7, right above seven months, according to the plan of 
154t - this work, I am called upon here to introduce a sketch 
of his life ; but as he had little connection with the law, and 
was not a very interesting character, although for long tenure 
of high office he exceeded all the statesmen of the century in 
which he lived, my memoir of him shall be very brief. He 
accounted for his not being upset by any of the storms which 
assailed him, by saying that he was " a willow, and not an 
oak," and there would be no great pleasure or instruction in 
minutely observing his bendings. 

He was born about the year 1476, and was the only 
son of Sir John Paulet, of a very ancient family in Somer- 
setshire. One of his ancestors was a serjeant-at-law in 
the reign of Henry V. f Having studied at the University, 
he was removed to the inns of Court, but more with a 
view to general education thau to qualify him for the law 
as a profession ; and it is doubtful whether he was ever called 
to the bar. 

He was of a cheerful temper, pleasing manners, moderate 
abilities, and respectable acquirements. Exciting no envy or 
jealousy, he had every one's good word, and accommodating 
himself to the humours of all, all were disposed to befriend 

By his family interest he was soon introduced at Court, and 
gaining the favour of Henry VIII., was made by him Comp- 
troller and Treasurer of the Household. He was thus near 
the person of the Sovereign, and had occasionally the honour 
to tilt with him and to play with him at primero, taking care 
always to be worsted, after a seeming exertion of his utmost 
skill. So successful were these arts, that without any greater 

f Rot Cl. 3 Hen. 5, m. 30. 


service, on the 9th of March, 1539, he was raised to the Peer- 
age by the title of Baron St. John, of Basing, and three years 
after he was made a Knight of the Garter. 

He accompanied the King as an amusing courtier rather 
than as a military officer, in the expedition into AJ) 1544 
France, in which Paris might easily have been sur- 
prised, but which terminated in the capture of Boulogne, and 
the fruitless siege of Montreuil. He was soon after promoted 
to the office of Grand Master of the Household. 

When Henry's will was to be made for arranging the govern- 
ment of the cuuntrv during the approaching nrinoritv. 

J -, ., J A.D. 1546. 

both parties counted with confidence on the co- 
operation of Lord St. John ; and his name was inserted with 
general approbation in the list of the Executors. 

Guided by his principle of siding with the strongest, on the 
accession of the new Sovereign he supported the elec- 
tion of Somerset as Protector, and concurred in the 
measures by which Wriothesley was deprived of the office of 
Chancellor, and banished from the Council. 

The Protector, having got the Great Seal into his hands, 
was in great perplexity as to how he should dispose of it. 
Wishing to depress the clergy, he was unwilling to recur to 
the practice of giving it to an ecclesiastic ; and he was deter- 
mined to advance the Reformation, with the principles of 
which the blending of civil and spiritual employments was 
deemed incompatible. Besides, Archbishop Cranmer cer- 
tainly would not have accepted the office of Chancellor him- 
self, and probably would not have liked to see it bestowed on 
any other prelate who might thus have eclipsed him. Eich, 
who had gained such unenviable notoriety on the trials of 
Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More, a cunning and ex- 
perienced lawyer, had become Lord Rich, and one of the 
Executors ; but there was the greatest reluctance to promote 
him farther, from his general bad character, and the special 
reasons which convinced Somerset that no confidence could be 
reposed in his fidelity. 

There being no other producible lawyer belonging to the 
party, Somerset resolved to take time for consideration, and in 
the mean while to place the Great Seal in the hands of some 
one who might do its routine duties, who could not be for- 
midable to him, and from whom he might resume it at plea- 
sure. Such a man was Paulet Lord St. John. 

Accordingly, on the 7th of March, 1547, the Protector 


having received the Great Seal from the messengers he had sent 
to demand it from Wriothesley, went through the ceremony of 
presenting it to the infant King, and then, in his Majesty's 
name, delivered it to St. John, with the title of " Lord 
Keeper," to be held by him for a fortnight, with all the 
powers and emoluments belonging to the office of Lord Chan- 
cellor. 15 

In a few days after, the Lord Keeper, by order, put the 
Great Seal to the letters patent, setting aside the will of 
Henry VIII., and constituting Somerset Protector, with un- 
limited power, till the young King should reach his ma- 
jority; and proving an apt instrument, as far as politics 
were concerned, there were successive grants to him of the 
office of Lord Keeper till the 29th of May, till the 6th of 
July, and till the Feast of All Saints ; he, on each occasion, 
going through the ceremony of returning the Seal into the 
King's hands, and receiving it back again for the extended 
time. h 

But at last, the complaints of the suitors and the public 
voice, which even then could not long be entirely disre- 
garded, required that some new arrangement should be made 
to despatch the judicial business of the Court of Chancery, for 
which the Lord Keeper, with all his plausibility, had shown 
himself to be quite incompetent. He contrived to get through 
Easter and Trinity terms by postponing the hearing of causes, 
and taking time to consider his judgments, and pretending 
that it was necessary for him to leave the Court of Chancery 
that he might sit in the Star Chamber, or attend the Council. 
The long vacation came to his relief ; but Michaelmas term 
was approaching, and he himself, with his usual discretion, 
begged that he might be permitted to resign. 

8 The entry on the Close Roll, after stating scdm beneplacitum regium cum omnibus et 

the King's acceptance of the Great Seal (which singulis auctoritatibus, &c. que Cancellariis 

must have been shown to him as a toy), thus Anglic prtu offlcii sui fere et excre consuerat 

proceeds: "Quo die circa horam primam posset et valeat." It then goes on to record 

post meridiem prefatus Dus Rex Sigillum that the new Lord Keeper, in the King's pre- 

snum prum apud Palm suum prum in sna sence, having taken the Seal from the bag and 

privata camera in presencia &c. pFfto nobili 8eak ' d a ^dimus potestatem with it, returned 

viro Willo SeynUTohn per spacium quatuor- u in | t ^ d bag m " d carried il off with him '~ 

decim dierum pfx sequent, scdm beneplaci- ' _' .. ' . 

turn regium custodiend. exercend. et utend. _ h ] e the only instances I find of the 

comisit et tradidit, ipsumque Willm Dnm Great Seal being granted for a term cerUrn- 

Seynt John adtunc et ibidem custodem Magni * he ** ' . f where not "unng pleasure, havmg 

. fT^ . been for life or upon a contingency, such as 

SIgilll Regii fecit ordmavU et consbtmt flind ^ ilmess or abse e of tne Chance u or . 

pr termino et per spacm quatuordecim dier. 


The Protector had no longer any choice ; and, on the 23rd 
of October, 1547, before All Saints' day arrived, Lord St. John 
resigned the Great Seal into the King's hands at Hampton 
Court, and it was delivered to RICH, with the title of Lord 

Lord St. John, after his resignation, remained true to his 
party till the Protector's fall was certain ; and then going over 
to Wriothesley, attended the meetings of the Executors, held 
in Ely Place, which brought about a revolution in the govern- 
ment. He hesitated for a moment between the rival chiefs of 
the victorious party, but. seeing that Dudley Earl of Warwick 
was the more powerful, he joined in those measures which 
drove Wriothesley from the Council, and broke his heart. 

The Ex-Lord Keeper was rewarded with the office of Lord 
High Treasurer, which he contrived to hold under three suc- 
cessive reigns, while there was sometimes a Protestant and 
sometimes a Eoman Catholic Sovereign on the throne, and 
while many of his colleagues were disgraced, imprisoned, be- 
headed, or burnt. 

In 1551 he showed his aptness for office by presiding, as 
Lord High Steward, on the trial of his benefactor the 
Duke of Somerset, who, having escaped from the 
great peril which first assailed him, and having been par- 
doned and discharged from the Tower on paying a large fine, 
had again incurred the resentment of his rival, now become 
Duke of Northumberland, and had excited great jealousy 
by the marks of returning favour bestowed upon hipi by the 
youthful King. 

His death was therefore determined upon. On the 17th of 
October, 1551, he was committed to the Tower on a charge of 
treason, and he was brought to trial, before the Lord High 
Steward, on the 1st of December following. According to 
usage, Eich, the Lord Chancellor, ought to have presided ; 
but although he had given an opinion upon his guilt in the 
Star Chamber, he managed to throw the odious and unprofit- 
able task of trying him upon Paulet, who, having been before 
made Earl of Wiltshire, was now gratified with the title of 
Marquess of Winchester. 

" Idemqne Dmns Rex de avisamento et honorabili Tiro Rico Riche militi Duo Riche 

consensu precarissimi avunculi sui Edwardi custodiend. mend, et exercend. tradidit et 

Duels Somers prne sue Regie Gnbernatons libavit ipsmq. Ricum Riche Cancellarium 

et Regn. et subditor. snor. Protectoris cetmq. strain Anglie adtunc et ibidem fecit, &c." 

consilm surnm, tune et ibidem Sigillmn illnd Eot CL 1 Ed. 6. 
in baga prca ut erat inclnsum spectabili et 


The trial took place in Westminster Hall, the Lord High 
Steward "sitting under the cloth of state, upon a bench, be- 
tween two posts three degrees high." k 

The only evidence produced consisted of the written depo- 
sitions of witnesses who could not be brought to state more 
than that Somerset had engaged in a plot to imprison the Duke 
of Northumberland, the Marquess of Northampton, and the 
Earl of Pembroke. An objection was made by the prisoner, 
that these three ought not to sit as Judges on his trial, the 
charge being for practices against them ; but the Lord High 
Steward ruled that " no challenge lies against a Peer of Eng- 
land, who, giving his verdict, without oath, on his honour, 
must be presumed to be absolutely free from favour or affec- 
tion, hatred or malice." 

The prisoner required to be confronted with the witnesses ; 
but he was told that, according to well-considered precedents, 
" where the King was concerned, the written depositions of 
witnesses taken privately by the King's Council, in whose 
good faith, impartiality, and cunning the law reposes entire 
confidence, were sufficient." 

A difficulty still remained, supposing the witnesses were be- 
lieved, to make out the plot to be treason. Although the 
counsel for the Crown argued, "with much bitterness," that 
this was a case within 25 Ed. III., Northumberland himself 
declared " he would never consent that any practice against 
him should be reputed treason." 

The Lord High Steward decided, that " if it was not treason, 
it was felony." Thereupon all the Lords acquitted Somerset 
of treason, a majority found him guilty of felony, and the Lord 
High Steward sentenced him to be hanged. 

Burnet says, " it was generally believed that all the pre- 
tended conspiracy, upon which he was condemned, was only a 
forgery ; and, indeed, the not bringing witnesses into Court, 
but only the depositions, and the parties sitting Judges, gave 
great occasion to condemn the proceedings against him." n 
But, according to the notions of the times, the Ex-Lord 
Keeper was not much worse thought of for this specimen of 
his judicial powers, and he continued to enjoy a pretty fair 

On the death of Edward VI. he first took part with Lady 

Jui 1553 J ane Grey ; but by the Tinerring instinct which ever 

guided him, he was the first to leave her party, 

k 1 St. Tr. 518. m Ibid. 520. n Burn. Ref. ii. 186. 


and go over to Queen Mary, who was so much pleased, 
that she forgave him, and renewed his patent of Lord 
High Treasurer. During her reign he remained very 
quiet, and taking example by the fate of Cranmer and 
others, he conformed very rigidly to the reigning reli- 
gion, and without actively urging persecution, would by no 
means run any risk of giving offence by trying to restrain or 
soften it. 

On the accession of Elizabeth he avoided the scandal of an 
abrupt change of religion ; but he soon fell in with 
the system established by her ; and though she placed 
all her confidence in Cecil, she allowed the wily old courtier 
still to enjoy his place of Lord Treasurer till his death in 
1572, when he was in his 97th year, and had 103 descendants 
to attend him to the grave. 

It was shortly before his death, that, being asked "how he 
did bear up in those dangerous times wherein great 
alterations were made both in Church and State," he 
returned the noted answer, "By being a willow, and not an 
oak/' Xo one, however, will be seduced to follow his 
example who has any regard to posthumous fame, for his 
existence is now known only to dull biographers, genealogists, 
and antiquaries, and is discovered only to be contemned ; 
while the name of Sir Thomas More will continue to be 
familiar as household words in the mouths of all English- 
men, and will be found honoured and revered to the latest 

The Marquess of "Winchester married Elizabeth, daughter oi 
Sir William Capel, Lord Mayor of London, and by her had 
four sons and four daughters, who were all married, and left a 

Sir James Mackintosh, when speaking of Having followed all the fantasies of that mo- 
" the versatile politicians who had the art narch, and obtained from him the dissolved 
and fortune to slide unhurt through all the monastery of Wilton, he was a keen Protest- 
shocks of forty years of a revolutionary age,'' ant under Edward VL, and one of the first to 
says, " the Marquess of Winchester, who had acknowledge and to desert Queen Jane, 
served Henry VII., and retained office under Mary having restored Wilton to the nans, he 
every intermediate government till he died is said to have received them " cap in hand ;" 
in his 97th year, with the staff of Lord Trea- but when they were suppressed by Elizabeth, 
surer in his hands, is perhaps the most re- he drove them out of the monastery with his 
markable specimen of this species preserved horsewhip, bestowing upon them an appella- 
in history." * But more scandal was excited tion which implied their constant breach ol 
in his own time by William Herbert, whom the vow they had taken. 
Henry VILL created Earl of Pembroke. 

* Mackintosh's History of England. voL iii. p. 155- 


numerous progeny. His descendants distinguished themselves 
highly in the civil and military service of their country. The 
sixth Marquess was, in the reigri of William and Mary, created 
Duke of Bolton. After a succession of six Dukes, this title 
became extinct in 1794, by the death of Harry Duke of Bolton 
without male issue ; but the Marquisate was inherited by the 
father of the present gallant representative of this illustrious 
house, who, lineally descended through males from the Lord 
Keeper, is the premier Marquess in the peerage of Eng- 
land. 11 

P See Grandeur of Law, p. 15. 




WE now come to a Chancellor of whose infamy we have al- 
ready had several glimpses, and who was through ocu 23. 
life a very consistent character in all that was base lw7 ' 
and profligate. RICHARD EICH was descended from a com- 
mercial family that had flourished in the city of London from 
the time of Henry VI., the founder having acquired great 
opulence as a mercer, and served the office of Sheriff of Lon- 
don and Middlesex in the year 1441. This worthy citizen's 
epitaph, in the church of St. Lawrence Poultney, shows more 
piety than poetry : 

" Respite quod opus est pnesentis temporis aevom 
Omne quod est nihil est prater amare Benin." 

His son followed his trade, and was well esteemed as a sub- 
stantial tradesman, not wishing for more dignity than to be 
elected deputy of his ward. The grandson, however, who 
is the subject of this memoir, early displayed an aspiring 
genius, and a determination to have all the pleasures of life 
without patient industry, or being very scrupulous about the 
means employed by him to gain his objects. 

He was born in the city of London, in a house near that 
occupied by Sir John More, Judge of the Court of King's 
Bench, and he and young Thomas More were intimate, till, on 
account of his dissipated habits, all who had any regard to 
character were obliged to throw him off. While yet a youth, 
he was " esteemed very light of his tongue, a great dicer and 
gamester, and not of any commendable fame." q 

He does not seem ever to have been at any University ; 
but his father, finding there was no chance of his applying to 
the business of the counting-house, agreed to his request, that 
he might be bred to the bar, and entered him of the Middle 
Temple. For some time there was no amendment of his life ; 

1 Speech of Sir Thomas More on his trial. More, 265. 


and instead of attending " readings " and " moots," he was to 
be found in the ordinaries, gaming-houses, and other haunts of 
profligacy in White Friars, which had not yet acquired the 
name of " Alsatia," though infamous for all sorts of irregu- 

Nevertheless, he had occasional fits of application ; and 
being of quick and lively parts, he laid in a small stock of 
legal learning, which, turned to the best account, enabled him 
to talk plausibly on black letter points in the presence of 
attorneys, and to triumph at times over those who had given 
their days and nights to Bracton, Glanville, and the Year 
Books. In the 21st of Henry VIII. he was appointed " Au- 
tumn Eeader " of his house, and acquitted himself with ap- 
plaiise. He was still in bad odour with his contemporaries ; 
for besides his dissolute habits, no reliance could be placed on 
his honour or veracity. By evil arts, he rose into conside- 
rable practice ; and while Sir Thomas More was Chancellor, 
recommending himself to the Duke of Norfolk, and the party 
who were hurrying on a breach with Eome, he was, in 1532, 
appointed for life Attorney General of Wales. The Great 
Seal being transferred to Audley, Rich was taken regularly 
into the service of the Crown, and was ever ready to assist in 
imposing the new-fangled oaths, or examining state prisoners 
before trial, or doing any dirty work by which he might 
recommend himself to promotion. So successful was he, 
that in 1533 he was appointed Solicitor-General to the King, 
and the most dazzling objects of ambition seemed within his 

We have seen how he laid a trap to betray Bishop Fisher 
and Sir Thomas More under the guise of friendship ; how 
he disgraced himself at the trial of the former by disclosing 
what had been communicated to him in private confidence ; r 
and how he perjured himself on the trial of the latter by 
inventing expressions which had never been used, when mere 
breach of confidence, and his skill as a counsel, could not ob- 
tain the required capital conviction. 8 

I know not whether, like Lord Chancellor Audley, he ever 

openly urged " the infamy he had incurred in the 

service of the government " as a claim to favour ; but 

there can be no doubt that this was well understood between 

him and his employers, and in 1535 he was rewarded with 

the wealthy sinecure of Chirographer of the Common Pleas. 

r Ante, p. 86. 1 St Tr. 385. 

A.D. 1537-44. SPEAKER OF THE COMMONS. 145 

In 1537 an insult was put upon the House of Commons, 
which shows most strikingly the degraded state to 
which parliament was reduced in the reign of Henry 
VIII. On the recommendation of the Court, Eich, whose bad 
character was notorious, and who was hardly free from any 
vice except hypocrisy, was elected Speaker. We have seen 
how he repaid this promotion by comparing the King, on the first 
day of the session, for prudence to Solomon, for strength to 
Samson, and for beauty to Absalom ; and, on the last, " to the 
sun, that warms, enlightens, and invigorates the universe."' 

While Speaker, he rendered most effectual service in re- 
conciling the Commons to the siippression of the greater 
monasteries, and the surrender of all their possessions to the 

These were now put under the management of a royal 
commission, and Eich was placed at the head of it. with the 
title of " Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations." His 
first care was to augment his own fortune ; and he got a 
grant of the dissolved priory of Lighes, in Essex, and of other 
abbey-lands, of immense value, which were found a sufficient 
endowment for two Earldoms, enjoyed simultaneously by 
his sons. 

He gave himself no trouble about the religious controver- 
sies which were going forward, and, except that he became the 
owner of such a large portion of church property, it could not 
have been suspected that he was a friend of the new doctrines 
more than of the old. 

He felt some disappointment at not succeeding to the 
Great Seal on the death of Audley, though greatly 
comforted by the increased means he enjoyed of 
amassing wealth. He had been a spendthrift in his youth, 
but cupidity grew with his riches, and he was become saving 
and penurious. In 1 544 he was made Treasurer of the King's 
wars in France and in Scotland, an office by virtue of which 
the whole of the expenditure for the pay and provisioning of 
the army passed through his hands, and which afforded ample 
scope for his propensity to accumulate. Soon after the capture 
of Boulogne, he was one of the Commissioners who negotiated 
the peace between France and England. 

He was now in high personal favour with Henry, conform- 
ing himself to all his caprices, and assisting at the Council 
board in examining and committing Lutherans for a violation 

Ante, p. 94, 95. 


of the Six Articles, and Roman Catholics for hesitating to ac- 
knowledge the King's spiritual supremacy. When the King's 
will was made, he was appointed one of the sixteen Executors 
who were to carry on the government during the minority of 
Edward, both parties being suspicious of him, but each party 
expecting from his professions to gain him. 

On the demise of the Crown the Great Seal seemed within 
his reach, if it could be made to fall from the hand 
which held it, and he did his utmost to widen the 
breach between the Chancellor and the Protector. He was 
supposed to suggest the expedient of bringing the charge 
against Wriothesley of issuing the illegal commission to hear 
causes in Chancery, and to refer to the Judges the question of 
its validity, and the nature and punishment of the offence 
of fabricating it. He had been included in the great batch of 
Peers, along with most of the Executors, who ennobled them- 
selves, or took a step in the Peerage, under pretence that 
these honours were intended for them by the late king. Most 
of the Commoners now promoted took new and high sounding 
titles ; and it might have been expected that the witness 
against Fisher and More would have become " Lord of Lighes ;" 
but whether he was afraid that some scurvy jests might have 
been passed upon this title as personal rather than territorial, 
he preferred to be " Lord Rich," and by this title he was 
made an English Baron. 

When the Great Seal had actually been wrested from the 
fallen W'riothesley, the new Lord thought that, as a matter of 
course, it must at once be handed over to him, and he was ex- 
ceedingly indignant to find it intrusted to Paulet, who was no 
lawyer, and who had never done, and was never likely to do, 
any very signal service to the Crown. He made no open re- 
monstrance, even when the ceremony of the delivery of the 
Great Seal to Paulet as Lord Keeper was from time to time re- 
peated ; but he privately complained of the appointment, ond 
procured others to complain of it as insulting to the profession 
and detrimental to the public. Paulet's real insufficiency 
gave effect to these cabals. The Protector doubted some time 
whether such an unscrupulous intriguer would be more dan- 
gerous to him as an opponent or as a colleague. Timid coun- 
cils, or a love of present ease, prevailed, and on the 23rd of 
October, 1547, Richard Lord Rich was appointed Lord Chan- 
cellor of England. 11 

u Cl. R. 1 Ed. 6. 

-d.D. 1547. HIS CONDUCT AS A JUDGE. 147 

The ceremony of delivering the Great Seal to him took 
place at Hampton Court, in the presence of the infant King, 
in whose name the Lord Protector declared " the royal plea- 
sure that the new Chancellor should hold the office, with all 
powers and profits that had ever belonged to any of his pre- 
decessors." I do not find any account of his swearing in or 
installation in Westminster Hall. 1 The old Duke of Norfolk, 
who had so often presided at such ceremonies, could not have 
been present, for although he survived, by the seasonable 
death of King Henry VIII., he was still kept a prisoner in the 
Tower, from the apprehensions of both parties, and his 
attainder was not reversed till the following reign. 

Lord Chancellor Eich displayed considerable ability as well 
as dexterity in discharging the duties of his office, and in com- 
bating the difficulties he had to encounter in the conflicts of 
contending factions. He presided himself in the Court of 
Chancery, and despatched the whole of the business without 
assistance till the end of the year 1551/ when a commission 
was issued to Beaumont, the Master of the Rolls, and others, 
to hear causes in his absence. 

Although he had retired from the bar a good many years, 
he had kept up his professional knowledge by attending the 
meetings in the Middle Temple, by associating with the 
Masters of the Bench of that learned Society, and by acting as 
Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations, where he had, 
from time to time, to hear and decide various legal questions. 
With discretion to conceal ignorance, a little law goes a great 
way on the bench, and the new Chancellor, who was cer 
tainly much superior to his immediate predecessor, was pro- 
nounced " a great Judge " by the dependents and expectants 
who surrounded him, and believed to be " a tolerably good 
one " by the public in general. In a few terms he nearly 
cleared off the arrears which he found in the Court ; but he 
afterwards became more remiss, and complaints arose of his 
delays, notwithstanding his liberal compliance with the usage 
beginning to gain ground of referring matters of difficulty to 
the Masters, who were often very expert officers, and al- 
though still generally churchmen, were well acquainted with 

* The entry in the Close Roll concludes Magni Sigffli ac officium Cancellarii Anglie 

with merely stating that having joyfully re- super se assnmens Sigillom Ulud penes se 

ceived the Seal, and extracted it from the bag, retinuit et retinet in present!." 

be sealed a commission, " Sicque prcus Ricus f Nov. 26, 1551. 
Dns. Riche curam et custodiam ejusdem 

L 2 


the civil law, and much more familiar with the practice of the 
Court than " the Keeper of the Royal Conscience." During 
the last year he held the Great Seal, he seems to have found 
sitting in Court very irksome, or he was much absorbed by 
political intrigue, for he left the hearing of causes chiefly to 
the Master of the Rolls and the other Commissioners, whom 
he appointed to supply his place. 2 But during the whole 
time of his continuance in office we are to regard him 
much more as a minister of state than as a dispenser of 

A few days after his appointment, the first parliament of the 
new reign was to assemble ; and, to gratify the vanity of his 
patron, he put the Great Seal to a patent directing, in the 
King's name, that the Protector should be placed in the House 
of Lords on a stool, 011 the right hand of the throne, under the 
cloth of state, " non obstante the statute 31 H. 8, by which all 
Peers were to have place and precedence according to their 
rank in the peerage." 

When the first day of the session arrived, the infant King 
being placed on the throne, and the Protector on his stool, the 
Commons were summoned to the bar ; but, unfortunately, we 
are disappointed in our wish to know the rest of this interest- 
ing ceremony, for the Parliament Roll abruptly terminates 
with these words, " The Lord Rich, being Lord Chancellor, 
began his oration to the effect as follows ." We may con- 
jecture that, after some compliments to the humane temper 
and mild rule of the late sovereign, and the hopeful virtues of 
his living image, warm congratulations were offered upon the 
abilities and worth of the Lord Protector, by whose stool 
the throne was now propped, and to whom the exercise of the 
royal prerogatives had been deputed till his Majesty should be 
of maturer years. 

In justice to the Lord Protector and the Lord Chancellor it 
should be mentioned, that they began with repealing some of 
the most fantastical and tyrannical of Henry's statutes respecting 

z There having been a king's warrant for plaintiff shall upon his knees ask forgiveness 
putting the Great Seal to this commission, it of the defendant, at Daventry, openly, upo,. 
was free from the objection for which Lord such market day as the Lord Chancellor by 
Chancellor Wriothesley was deprived of the his letters to some justice of the peace there- 
Great Seal. abouts to be directed shall appoint." Then 

a Some of his decrees, rather of an arbi- follows a direction for payment of 10Z. by 

trary character, are to be found in the Re- the plaintiff to the defendant by instalments 

gistrar's Book; e.g. "Cope v. Watts: It is of five marks. Reg. Lib. A., 3 & 4 Kd. 6, 

irdered by tho Jx>.d Chancellor that the f. 44. 


treason, b and modifying an act whereby any King of England 
coming to the throne during his minority might, on reaching 
the age of twenty-four, vacate ab initio all statutes assented to 
in his name. It was provided, that henceforth there should 
only be a power to repeal such statutes, leaving untouched all 
that had been done under them. 

But the grand object was to further the Reformation. Lord 
Eich, since the grant to him of Litinis and the other dissolved 
abbeys, had become a sincere reformer, and was anxious that 
the breach with Rome might be widened as much as possible, 
so that there might be no danger of his share of the plunder 
of the church being wrested from him by a counter revolution 
in religion. He therefore zealously supported the measures 
which were brought forward under the auspices of Cranmer 
for introducing the Lutheran system with modifications into 
England. Successively he laid 011 the table bills for establish- 
ing the King's power to appoint Bishops : for dissolving chan- 
tries ; for repealing the bloody act of the Six Articles ; for 
allowing priests to many, still with a recital that " it were 
more commendable for them to live chaste and without mar- 
riage, whereby they might better attend to the ministry of 
the Gospel, and be less distracted with secular cares ; " and 
a bill f r uniformity of service and administration of the 
sacranii. :.;.-. thereby the mass book was purified of its errors, 
and the beautiful Liturgy of the Church of England was 
established nearly such as it has subsisted down to our own 

The Lord Chancellor had, ere long, to determine with which 
of the two brothers he would side, the Duke of Somerset or 
Lord Seymour of Sudeley ; for a mortal rivalry had sprung up 
between them. That quarrel was begun by their wives. Lord 
Seymour having married the Queen Dowager so soon after the 
King's death, that had she immediately proved pregnant it was 
said, a doubt would have arisen to which husband the child 
belonged, the Lady Protectress professed to be much shocked 
at this indecorum, but was. iu reality, deeply mortified that 
the wife of a younger brother should take the pas of her, and 

t> The bill for tMs purpose being considered in the good old times, was now twelve, and was referred to a j.dnt sometimes as late as one. It was not then 

Committee of both Houses. "They were ap- foreseen that a time would come when the 

pointed to meet at t'co o'clock after dinner, two Houses meeting for public business at 

in order to treat and commune on the pur- five, and half-past seven being the hour of 

port of the said bill." l Parl. Hist. :(S4. dinner, at seven the one House would 

The hour of dinner, which had been eleven break up, and the other would be deserted. 


raised the question whether, by a disparaging alliance, the 
reginal precedence was not lost ? 

This controversy was terminated by the death of the Queen 
AD 1549 Dowager in childbed. But Lord Seymour himself 
was ambitious and presumptuous, and dissatisfied 
with the power he enjoyed as Lord High Admiral, being 
now a widower, he aspired to marry the Lady Elizabeth, 
who was certainly attached to him, and whose reputation had 
been a little scathed by the familiarity to which she had ad- 
mitted him. He likewise insisted that Somerset could not, 
according to constitutional principles, be Protector of the realm 
and guardian of the royal person ; and during Somerset's ab- 
sence in the Scottish war, he prevailed upon the young King 
to write a letter to the two Houses, intimating his wish to be 
put under the care of his younger uncle. But the Protector 
arriving from the North, and expressing a determination 
to crush his rival, notwithstanding the ties of blood, Lord 
Rich at once agreed to concur in the necessary measures for 
that purpose. 

On the 19th of January, 1549, the Admiral was committed 
to the Tower of London by order of the Council, and, ac- 
cording to the usage of the times, the Chancellor and other 
Councillors went there to interrogate him upon the charges 
brought against him. He repelled them with disdain, and 
required that he should be confronted with his accusers, or, 
at least, have a copy of their depositions ; but he was told that 
the demand was unprecedented, unreasonable, and inadmissible. 
Under the directions of the Lord Chancellor, articles were re- 
gularly drawn up against the Admiral for treason, chiefly on 
the ground that, with the aid of one Sharington, the Master of 
the Mint at Bristol, who was to coin false money for him, he 
had laid a plan for an insurrection to carry oif the King and 
to change the present form of government. He, denying the 

From the indignant denial by Elizabeth upon the back or the buttocks famyliarly." 

of the reports then circulated, they are be- Parry the cofferer also says, " she told me that 

lieved to be untrue ; but certainly the court- the Admirale loved her but too well ;" at 

ship was not conducted with much delicacy, one time as he came into her room while she 

Her governess being examined upon the sub- was beginning to make her toilette, she was 

ject, stated that the moment he was up he obliged to run behind the curtains, " her 

would hasten to Elizabeth's chamber " in his maidens being there ;" that " the Quene was 

nightgown and bare-legged ;" if she were jelowse on hir and him, and that suspecting 

still In bed " he wold put open the cur- the often accesse of the Admirale to her, she 

teyns, and make as though he wold come at came sodenly upon them wher they were all 

hir;" "and she wold go farther in the bed so alone, he having her in his armes." SPB 

that he cold not come at hir. 1 ' If she were 1 Ling. 34 n. The Council deemed it prudent 

dp, he " wold ax how she did. and strike hir to dismiss her governess. 


fact, insisted that the charge did not amount to treason ; for 
the Protector's power being usurped, contrary to the will of 
the late King founded on an act of parliament, resistance to it 
was lawful. 

A bill of attainder against Seymour was. however, laid on 
the table by the Lord Chancellor. To take from himself the 
responsibility and odium of the proceeding, he then summoned 
the Judges and King's Council , d and a question was put TO 
them, " whether the charges, or any of them, amounted to 
treason ? " The expected answer was given, " that some of 
them amounted to treason," and the bill proceeded. 

The principal evidence consisted of Sharington's conviction, 
on his own confession ; and several Peers, rising in their 
places, to please the Protector, who was present in the 
House, repeated evidence which they had previously given 
before the Council, to show the Admiral's dangerous designs. 
The bill passed the Lords without a division or dissenting 
voice, but met with a very unexpected opposition in the 
Commons. There the first principles of natural justice were 
beginning to be a little attended to, and several members, to 
the horror of the old courtiers, contended that it was unfair to 
legislate by bill of attainder without evidence, and to condemn 
a man to death who had not been heard in his defence. The 
Peers, hearing of this factious opposition, twice sent a message 
to the Commons, "that the Lords who were personally ac- 
quainted with the traitorous designs of the Admiral would, if 
required, repeat their statement to the nether House." There 
were a few ultra-radical members still not satisfied. There- 
upon another power in the state, to resist which no one was 
yet so hardy as to venture, was called into action, and the 
Protector sent a message to the Commons, in the King's name, 
declaring it to be the opinion of his Majesty that it was unne- 
cessary to hear the Admiral at the bar of the House, and re- 
peating the offer of the evidence which had been considered 
so satisfactory by the Lords. On receipt of this message there 
was a cry of ' ; Divide ! divide ! " and a division immediately 
taking place, the bill was passed by a majority of near 400. 
There were only nine or ten members who had the courage to 
vote against it. e 

Three days after the bill had received the royal assent the 
Lord Chancellor, at the Protector's request, called a Council 

d Viz. the King's Serjeants, and the Attor- ' 2 4 3 Ed. 6, c. 18. Burnet, vol. ii. p. 99 
ey and Solicitor General. 1 Parl. Hist. 537. 1 St. Tr. 49T. 


to deliberate about carrying it into effect. The Protector 
withdrew, "out of natural pity," during the deliberation, well 
knowing it would be resolved that his brother should die on 
the Wednesday following. He actually signed the warrant 
for the execution on that day. The second signature was that 
of Archbishop Cranmer, to whom it probably cost a pang to be 
concerned in such an affair of blood. The third was that of 
Lord Chancellor Kich, who rejoiced in the belief that his offi- 
cial life was now likety to be smooth and secure. The Admi- 
ral's offence certainly did not amount to more than an attempt 
to deprive Somerset of usurped authority, and his death added 
to the list of English legislative murders. There was retribu- 
tion with respect to some of the most culpable agents in it. 
Somerset, before long, found verified the prophecy uttered at 
the time, that " the fall of one brother would prove the over- 
throw of the other." Cranmer himself perished miserably by 
an unjust sentence ; and perhaps Rich suffered more than 
either of them, when, from the fear of similar violence, he 
resigned all his employments, and gave himself up to solitary 
reflection on the crimes he had committed. Seymour's execu- 
tion was not looked upon with great horror at the time when 
it took place ; and Bishop Latimer immediately preached a 
sermon before the King, in which he highly applauded it. 

The Chancellor was grievously disappointed in expecting 
quiet times from the bloody termination to the struggle for 
power which we have described. The Protector became more 
vain, presumptuous, and overbearing, and to the members of 
the Council, who, under the late King's will, ought to have 
been his equals, he behaved as a haughty master to his slaves. 
He had likewise brought much odium upon himself by the 
sacrilege and rapine through which he had obtained the site 
and the materials for his great palace, Somerset House ; and 
general discontents had caused insurrections in various parts 
of England. 

In a few months after Seymour's death, Lord Rich was 
again thrown into the perplexity of making his election be- 
tween rival factions. As we have before related/ the discon- 
tented members of the Council, headed by Ex-Chancellor 
Wriothesley and Dudley Earl of Warwick, taking advantage 
of Somerset's unpopularity and weakness, had established a 
rival government at Ely House, in Holborn. Rich was at this 
time with the Protector at Hampton Court, and accompanied 

A.D. 1549. FALL OF SOMERSET. 153 

him to Windsor vrlien the young Edward was removed thither, 
in the hope that "the King's name might be a tower of 
strength ; " hut when he saw that Somerset was deserted by 
all parties in the country, and that his power was rapidly 
crumbling to pieces, he joined the malcontent Councillors, car- 
rying the Great Seal along with him, and took an active part 
in supporting their cause. 

Being born and bred in London, being free of one of the 
companies, being related to some of the principal merchants, 
and the livery and apprentices being proud of his elevation, 
the Lord Chancellor, in spite of his bad private character, 
had great influence in the City, which then constituted the 
metropolis, and took the lead in every political convulsion. 
Having summoned the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and principal 
members of the Common Council to Ely House, he made 
them a long and powerful speech, showing how Somerset had 
usurped the Protectorship contrary to the will of the late 
King how he had abused the power which he had unlaw- 
fully acquired how he had mismanaged our foreign aflairs, 
by allowing the infant Queen of Scots to be married into the 
royal family of France how at home he had oppressed both 
the nobility and the people and how the only chance of 
reselling the King from the captivity in which he was then 
held, and of saving the state, was for the Chancellor's fellow- 
citizens, ever distinguished in the cause of loyalty and free- 
dom, to rally round the enlightened, experienced, and inde- 
pendent Councillors there assembled ; in whom, by the law 
and constitution, was vested the right of governing the country 
in the King's name, till his Majesty had completed his 18th 
year. This speech was received with the most rapturous 
applause, and cries of " Down with the Protector ! Long 
live the King ! Long live the Council ! Long live the Lord 

A proclamation was immediately framed, which Eich was 
the first to sign, and which was the same day posted all over 
the city, calling upon all the true subjects of the King to arm 
in his defence, to obey the orders of his faithful Councillors, 
assembled at Ely House, and to take measures to prevent the 
Crown from being taken from his head by a usurper. "\\ hen 
news of this movement reached Windsor, Somerset saw that 
his cause was desperate ; he surrendered at discretion, and in 
a few days he was a prisoner in the Tower. 

This is the only occasion where Eich played more tlian a 


secondary part ; and presently he was acting under the direc- 
tions of the Earl of Warwick, with whom he had no difficulty 
in siding against Ex-Chancellor Wriothesley ; for if this stern 
Eonian Catholic had gained the ascendency, not only would he 
have striven for a reconciliation with Rome, but he would him- 
self have resumed the custody of the Great Seal. Rich there- 
fore heartily concurred with Warwick in those proceedings after 
the fall of Somerset which were meant to mortify Wriothesley, 
and which deeply wounded his spirit, and brought him to the 

Ere long he gained a complete insight into the character of 
Warwick, and felt himself very uncomfortable and insecure; 
perceiving that his new master, with an open and captivating 
manner, was dark, designing, immoderately ambitious, and 
wholly unscrupulous and remorseless. He could not tell how 
soon his own turn might come to be transferred to the Tower ; 
and he knew well that, notvfithstanding all his services in the 
late crisis, if it should at any time be desirable to have a 
vacancy in the office of Chancellor, there would be no hesita- 
tion in creating it by cutting off the head of the Chancellor. 

In the mean time Rich felt that his only chance of safety 
was passive obedience, while he secretly hoped that there 
would be another revolution in the political wheel, and that 
Warwick might be precipitated from his present height of 
power. He accordingly took an active part in those proceed- 
ings against Somerset, which terminated in his being dis- 
missed from the Protectorship. He presided at the examina- 
tions of his former patron before the Council, drew up the 
articles against him, obtained his confession, and brought 
in the bill of pains and penalties, by which he was deprived of 
all his offices, and sentenced to forfeit land to the value of 
20001 a year. 

We cannot but admire, though puzzled to explain, the mild- 
ness of this proceeding. According to all precedent, Somerset 
ought now to have been attainted of high treason, and could 
not hope to leave his cell in the Tower till he was led out to 
execution. Let us charitably suppose that Rich, finding he 
could do so without endangering himself, put in a good word 
for the life of the man who had made him Lord Chancellor, 
urging upon Warwick that Somerset, if pardoned, would 
thenceforth be powerless, and that the present chief of the 
state might add to his own influence, both with the young 
King and with the nation, by an act of clemency rather than 

A.D. 1549. HIS VISIT TO MART. 155 

cf vengeance. When Somerset was afterwards pardoned, and 
restored to the Privy Council, Kich must, from selfish motives 
at any rate, have been pleased with the prospect of some check 
hereafter arising to the unbounded sway which Warwick 
seemed otherwise destined permanently to enjoy. 

While fresh political feuds were engendered, the Chancellor 
was for some time engaged in enforcing the new regulations 
respecting religious belief and religious worship. The Coun- 
cil, under his presidency, took cognisance as well of those who 
departed too far from the ancient standard of orthodoxy, as of 
those who adhered to it too rigidly ; and a few Anabaptists 
and Arians were burnt, to show that the Reformers had a just 
abhorrence of heresy. But the principal difficulty was to deal 
with the numerous class of Roman Catholics, who had the 
Lady Mars-, the heiress presumptive to the throne, at their 
head. A positive order was issued that the mass should not 
be celebrated ; and Dr. Mulet, her chaplain, was committed to 
close custody in the Tower because, under her sanction, he 
disobeyed this order. Mary demanded the enlargement of her 
chaplain; the Chancellor wrote to her in the name of the 
Council, requiring her to obey the law. As she still remained 
intractable, the Chancellor, by order of the Council, paid her 
a visit at Copped Hall, in Essex, where she then resided, and 
delivered into her hand a letter from the King, peremptorily 
requiring her " to take a more earnest regard to the reforma- 
tion of her family." s She received the King's letter on her 
knees as Rich delivered it explaining, that the respect was 
paid to the writer, and not to its contents. 

Rich declared the determination of the cabinet, that " she 
should no more use the private mass, nor do any other divine 
service than the law prescribed." She told him. " she would 
obey the King in any thing that her conscience permitted, 
and would gladly suffer death to do him good, but preferred to 
lay her head on a block rather than use any service different 
from that established at her father's death." She added, " I 

5 See the letter at fall length,'! St. Tr. 549, chaplains either to say or use any mass or 

with the King's instructions to the lord Chan- kind of service other than by the law is au- 

cellor and those who were to accompany him thorised." " Item, if ye shall find either any 

on this occasion. They were " to persuade of the priests or any other person disobedient 

her Grace that this proceeding oometh only to this order, ye shall commit them forthwith 

of the conscience the King hath to avoid the to prison as ye shall think convenient." 

offence of God, and of necessary counsel and Sorely it is rather unreasonable to expect 

wisdom to see his laws in so weighty causes that Mary should afterwards herself act cm 

executed." But they were "in the King's the principles of toleration. 
Majesty's name most strictly to forbid the 


am sickly : I would not willingly die, but will do the best I 
can to preserve my life ; but if I shall chance to die, you of 
the Council will be the cause of my death." 

She then took her ring from her finger, and, on her knees, 
gave it to the Chancellor to present to the King as a token of 
her regard and duty. As the Chancellor was waiting in the 
court-yard to depart, she accosted him from the window in a 
style not quite so dignified, but which gives us a favourable 
opinion of her frankness and good humour. "Send me back 
my comptroller," said she, " whom you have taken from me 
because he obeyed my commands ; for since his departing I 
take the accounts myself of my own expenses, and have 
learned how many loaves be made of a bushel of wheat. But 
my father and mother never brought me up to baking and 
brewing ; and, to be plain with you, I am weary of mine 
office, and therefore, if my Lords will send mine officer home 
they shall do me pleasure ; otherwise, if they will send him to 
prison, I beshrew him if he go not to it merrily." In spite of 
these remonstrances Eich did nothing to gratify her ; the 
comptroller and others of her servants were committed to the 
Tower, and continued in close confinement till a new Chan- 
cellor had been appointed, when her solicitations, aided by 
the interference of the. Emperor, procured their discharge, 
with the relaxation in her favour of being permitted to wor- 
ship God according to her conscience, which, when upon the 
throne, she was too little inclined to grant to others. 11 

Nearly a year of tranquillity was now enjoyed, by Lord 
Eich, during which there was seeming harmony 
between Somerset and Warwick, and even matri- 
monial alliances were contracted between their families ; but 
a terrible crisis was at hand, which so much shook the nerves 
of the Chancellor that in a panic he renounced his office, and 
fled into obscurity. Somerset had always been regarded with 
favour by the common people, whose part he took against the 
landed aristocracy in the disputes about enclosures and the 
clearing of estates ; his haughty carriage to the nobles was for- 
gotten in the superior insolence of Warwick, who, being 
merely the son of an Attorney-General, hanged for extortion, 
was regarded as an upstart, and the young King had recently 
shown some distrust of his present minister, and a returning 
regard for his uncle. 

Somerset resolved to avail himself of this favourable junc- 

h Strype, 45Y, 458. Ellis's Letters, vol. ii. p. 179-182. 

A.D. 1551. TRIAL OF SOMERSET. 157 

ture to recover his office of Protector without being guilty of 
any disloyalty to his nephew, who, he doubted not, would 
sanction all that he projected when it was accomplished. He 
was urged on by his rival procuring himself to be created 
Duke of Northumberland, and manifesting a detennination 
to tolerate no one at Court who, even by a look, expressed any 
dissatisfaction with his autocracy. Somerset, therefore, as a 
measure of self-preservation, engaged in a plot with a few 
associates to get possession of the person of the new Duke, 
to seize the Great Seal, to induce the King to throw himself 
into the arms of the uncle to whom he had been so much 
attached, and to issue a proclamation calling on all his faith- 
ful subjects to rally round him, and to take arms in his 

This scheme might very possibly have succeeded if it had 
been kept secret till the day when it was to be carried into 
execution, and Northumberland might have finished his ca- 
reer by the sentence of the law in the reign of Edward, instead 
of Mary : but Sir Thomas Palmer, one of the confederates, 
revealed it to him and Somerset was soon a close prisoner in 
the Tower, his execution being delayed only till the cere- 
mony should have been gone through of a mock trial. There 
is a curious contrast between the history- of France and of 
England, that assassination, so common in the one country, 
was hardly ever practised in the other ; but I know not 
whether our national character is much exalted by adherence 
to the system of perpetrating murder under the forms of 

For some reason, not explained to us, it was thought more 
convenient to bring Somerset to trial before his Oct is, 
Peers and a Lord High Steward rather than (ac- 1551 - 
cording to the practice introduced by Lord Cromwell, anc! 
followed against himself) to call a parliament and proceed 
by bill of attainder, without hearing the accused in his de- 
fence. Perhaps alarm was taken at the sentiments of hu- 
manity and justice expressed by a very small minority of the 
Commons in the case of Lord Seymour. 

Eich was now in a state of great consternation. Regularly, 
being Lord Chancellor, he ought to have been created Lord 
High Steward to preside at the trial ; but he was not free 
from suspicion of being himself implicated in the conspiracy, 
and there was no saying what disclosures might take place. 
He therefore feigned sickness : to give greater colour to the 


pretence, lie issued a commission authorising the Master of 
the Rolls, and others, to hear causes for him in Chancery ; 
he obtained Northumberland's consent that another Lord 
High Steward should be appointed ; and he caused it to be 
privately intimated to Somerset that he absented himself from 
the trial out of tenderness to his ancient friend. 

The Ex-Chancellor Paulet, now created Marquess of Win- 
chester, was fixed upon as Lord High Steward, and the trial 
took place before him, as I have related in his life. ' 

To Rich's great relief a conviction took place without his 
name being mentioned in the course of the proceedings, but a 
very difficult and delicate question arose as to the execution of 
the sentence. Being acquitted of high treason, though con- 
victed of felony, on leaving Westminster Hall the populace 
who were assembled in Palace Yard observed that the edge of 
the axe was not turned towards the prisoner, and concluded 
that there had been a general verdict of not guilty in his favour. 
They immediately raised a shout of exultation which was 
heard beyond the village of Charing, and risings were appre- 
hended both in the city of London and in the provinces, if the 
idol of the people should be destroyed. It was likewise said 
that the King, who, notwithstanding his youth, now took a 
lively interest in the affairs of the state, wavered, and not only 
would not consent to sign the death-warrant of his uncle, but 
was disposed to take him again into favour. 

Rich saw that whichever side prevailed, he himself, if he 
remained in office, must be exposed to the greatest peril, for, 
by his trimming policy, he had made himself odious to both ; 
" Having accumulated to himself a very fair fortune (like a 
discreet pilot, who, seeing a storm at hand, gets his ship into 
harbour), he made sute to the King, by reason of some bodily 
infirmities, that he might be discharged of his office." k 

He shut himself up in his town mansion, in Great St. Bar- 
tholomew's, and wrote to Northumberland that he was struck 
with a mortal disorder; that he was unable even to stir 
abroad as far as Whitehall or St. James's to deliver up the 
Great Seal in person to the King ; and praying that messen- 
gers might be sent to him to receive it, so that he might now 
devote all his thoughts to preparations for a better world. 
Accordingly, on the 21st of December, 1551, the Duke of 
Northumberland himself, the Marquess of Winchester and 
others, authorised by letters of Privy Seal signed by the 

i Ante, p. 139, 140. k Dugdale's Baronage. 

A.D. 1551. HIS DEATH. 159 

King, came to Lord Rich's house between eight and nine in 
the morning, and received from him the surrender of the 
Great Seal, which they forthwith carried and delivered to the 
King at Westminster. m We have no particulars of this in- 
terview, but we may fairly conjecture that the Chancellor 
appeared to be in a dying condition, and that, after well- 
acted regrets on both sides, it was speedily brought to a 

However this may be, we know that Eich, lightened from 
the anxieties of office, had a wonderful recovery, and lived 
sixteen years after his resignation. But so frightened was he 
by the perils he had gone through, that he never again would 
engage in public business. He spent the rest of his days in 
the country, in the management of his great estates, and the 
accumulation of wealth, preferring the pleasures of avarice 
to those of ambition. Instead of ending his career, as was 
once so probable, amidst countless thousands on Tower Hill, 
after he had long sunk from public notice, he expired at a 
small country-house in Essex the event, when known in 
London, hardly causing the slightest public sensation. 

His two sons, both amply provided for, were created Earls 
of Warwick and of Holland, but his descendants after 
making a distinguished figure for some generations are now 
extinct. n They could not have looked with much pride on 
the character of the founder of their family, who, though he 
had pleasant manners, and was free from cant and hypocrisy, 
was. in reality, one of the most sordid, as well as most un- 
principled men who have ever held the office; of Lord Chan- 
cellor in England. 

The Close Roll, after reciting the antho- per dcmn Dnm Riche dcis nobihbus viria 

rity to Northumberland, &c. " Magnum Sigil- liberal, fuit." 

him Dni Regis apud Hospicium ejusdem Dni " By one of them was erected Holland 

Riche in Create Saynte Bartilemewes in qua- House, so famed as the residence of Addison 

dam interior! camera ibm intr. horas octavam when married to the dowager Countess of 

et nonam ante meridiem ejusdem diei in qua- Warwick, and as the centre of intellectual 

dam biga de corio inclusum et coopt alia and refined society under the family of Fox, 

bag* de velneto rubeo msigniis Regiis oruat. who succeeded to it. 





THE Duke of Northumberland having the Great Seal so un- 
Dec i55i ex P ec tedly surrendered to him, was very much at 
a loss on whom he should bestow it. There was no 
lawyer in whom he could place entire confidence ; and he be- 
gan to have aspiring projects, to which a lawyer with any 
remaining scruples of conscience must object. After a little 
deliberation he therefore resolved to recur to the old practice 
of putting an ecclesiastic at the head of the law, taking care 
to select a man of decent character, who would not disgrace 
the appointment, and of moderate abilities, so as not to be 
dangerous to him. Such a man was THOMAS GOODRICH, Bishop 
of Ely, elevated because he was in no way distinguished 
whose name would hardly have come down to us if at that 
time he had been less obscure. 

On the 22nd of December, 1551, the day after Lord Rich's 
resignation, the Great Seal was delivered by the King, in the 
presence of Northumberland and other grandees, to the 
Bishop, with the title of Lord Keeper. 

I do not find any account of his origin. p His name is often 
spelt Goodrich ; but from the following epigram upon him, 
indicating that he had emerged from poverty, it must have 
been pronounced Goodric/i : 

" Et bonus et dives, bene junctus et optimus ordo ; 
Prajcedit bonitas ; pone sequuntur opes." 

He was a pensioner of Benn'et College, Cambridge, and 
afterwards a fellow of Jesus College ; and was said to have 
made considerable proficiency in the civil law as well as in 
Divinity. He took, however, only the degree of D.D. He 
early felt an inclination in favour of the reformed doctrines ; 
which he openly avowed, when it was safe for him to do so, 

Rot. Cl. 5 Ed. 6, p. 5. Kirby, in the county of Lincoln, and grand- 

P My friend Mr. Pulman has found for me, son of John Goodrich of Bolingbroke. 3rd 

by searches in the Heralds' College, that he edition, 

w)a the son of Edward Goodrich, of East 


in the reign of Edward YI. He was accordingly employed 
to assist in revising the translation of the New Testament, and 
in compiling the Liturgy, and, as a reward for his services, 
was made Bishop of Ely. But he was a quiet, bookish man. 
not mixing with state affairs. 

While he held the Great Seal he was a mere cypher in the 
Council ; and his appointment was a contrivance of Northum- 
berland to have the power and patronage of Lord Chancellor 
in his own hands. It was thought, however, that this object 
would be more effectually gained if Goodrich were treated 
with apparent respect ; and on the 19th of January following 
he delivered up the Great Seal to the King, and received it 
back with the title of Lord Chancellor. q 

On the previous day a commission had passed the Great 
Seal, authorising Beaumont, the Master of the Eolls, and 
others, to hear causes ; and upon them devolved all the judi- 
cial business of the Court of Chancery while Goodrich was 

The grand object now was to obtain the royal warrant for 
the execution of the illustrious convict lying under sentence 
of death in the Tower. Access to the King's presence was 
strictly denied to all who were suspected of being friendly to 
Somerset : and the new Chancellor, probably conscientiously, 
gave an opinion that he was guilty, and that the safety of 
the state required that the law should take its course. After 
a long delay, Edward was induced to sign the fatal Jan. 22, 
instrument, and the Protector was executed on 1532 - 
Tower Hill, amidst wishes construed into prophecies that 
Northumberland might soon share his fate. 

Parliament met a few weeks after, and a bill was intro- 
duced to confirm the attainder of the Duke of Somerset, and 
to set aside an entail of estates upon his family. It easily 
passed the Lords, but it was thrown out by the Commons. 
Thereupon the Chancellor, in the name of the King and by 
command of Northumberland, dissolved the parliament which 
had now lasted about five years. ' 

1 This ceremony toot place " apud Grene- bagam in qua repositum erat in presencia 

weche in quodam interiori deambulaterio predica extrahi et quidam biwia ibidem M- 

sive galerio ibidem inter boras secundam et gillari mandavit deindeqne in bagam prcam 

terciam post meridiem." The entry, without iternm reponi et sigillo suo prpro munlri fecit 

stating any swearing in or installation, thus accuraznet cnstodiam ejusdem sprse assump- 

concludes : " Et snperinde predicus Reve- sit et illud penes ss retinuit et retinet." 

rendus Pater Sigillum prcum de manibus del 1 Rot. CL 5 Ed. 6. 
Dni Regis gratutent. accipiecs illud extra r 1 Parl. Hist 590. 



In the beginning of the following year a new parliament 
was summoned, which Northumberland was deter- 
mined should be more subservient, and for this pur- 
pose he caused the Chancellor to send, along with the writs, a 
letter, in the King's name, to each sheriff, which, after setting 
forth the importance of having able and experienced repre- 
sentatives to serve in the House of Commons, concluded in 
these words : " Our pleasure is, that where our Privy Council, 
or any of them, shall recommend men of learning and wis- 
dom, in such case their directions be regarded and followed, to 
have this assembly to be of the most chiefest men in our realm 
for advice and good counsel." ' This extraordinary breach of 
privilege passed without complaint. 

On the 1st of March the parliament met in the palace of 
Whitehall, the King, on account of his declining health, not 
being able to go to the usual place of meeting in London or 
Westminster. The Lords spiritual and temporal being as- 
sembled in their robes, in the King's chapel, Ridley, Bishop 
of London, preached a sermon to them, and they received the 
communion. They then adjourned to the King's great cham- 
ber, which was fitted up as a House of Lords, " the King 
sitting under his cloth of state, and the Lords in their de- 
grees." The Commons being called in, Lord Chancellor 
Goodrich made a speech in the King's name, which is said to 
have been " brief on account of the King's sickness," and no 
part of it is preserved. 

The object of the summons was chiefly to obtain a subsidy, 
and this being granted, and the Commons showing symptoms 
of discontent with the existing rule, the Lord Chancellor, 
at the end of a month, dissolved the Parliament, the King 
being present, and then seen the last time in public by his 

This Sovereign, of so great promise, was now drawing to 
his untimely end, and Northumberland wished to be at liberty, 
without the control of Parliament, to carry on his machina- 
tions for changing the succession, well knowing that if the 
Lady Mary, who was next heir both by right of blood and by 
parliamentary settlement, should be placed on the throne, his 
power would be gone, and his personal safety would be com- 
promised. Although a majority of the nation had become 
attached to the Reformation, there was no chance of a parlia- 
ment being induced to disturb the succession. Mary could 

: Parl. Hist 591. Ibid. 602. 


not, with any show of reason, be set aside in favour of Eliza- 
beth ; a regard for hereditaiy right and respect for the memory 
of Henry VIII., who had always been a favourite with the 
common people, would have been strongly opposed to any 
attempt to set aside both. Northumberland himself was daily 
becoming more unpopular ; and the last House of Commons, 
which he had taken such pains to pack, had shown con- 
siderable hostility to him. He resorted, therefore, to another 

A statute of the realm had conferred on Henry Till, per- 
sonally a power to dispose of the Crown by will, and a will 
had accordingly been made by him, under this statute, by 
which he excluded the Scottish line, and called the issue of 
his younger sister to succeed after his own children. Ed- 
ward had no such power, but Northumberland pretended 
that it belonged to him by the common law, and was in 
hopes that the nation would not nicely inquire into the dis- 

He had easily succeeded in inculcating this doctrine on the 
debilitated mind of the dying King, through the medium of 
the Chancellor and other creatures, whom he employed for 
that purpose. They represented to Edward that both his 
sisters having been declared illegitimate by parliament, and 
their legitimacy never having been restored though they 
were nominally put into the succession, they could not con 
stitutionally succeed ; that being of the half blood to him, 
according to a well-known rule of law, they were not his 
heirs ; that the succession of Mary would be the restoration 
of Popery ; that the Scottish line had already been justly set 
aside as aliens ; that the true heiress was the Marchioness of 
Dorset, daughter of Mary the Queen-dowager of France ; 
that, as she waived her rights, the next to succeed was her 
eldest daughter, the Lady Jane Grey, married to Northumber- 
land's fourth son, a young lady of rare beauty and accomplish- 
ments, and a zealous Lutheran ; and that to secure Edward's 
fame with posterity, and his salvation in another world, he 
should exercise the power which belonged to him, by se- 
curing that glorious reformation of religion which he had 

The sick Prince was so far misled by this sophistry, that 
with his own hand he drew a sketch of a will settling the 
Crown, if he should die without issue, on " the Lady Jane 
and her heirs masles," and by direction of the Chancelloi 

M 2 


(who in the whole of this transaction was under an ap- 
prehension of the penalties of treason) he put his royal 
signature to this instrument above, below, and on each 

But to give validity to the settlement the Chancellor in- 
sisted that it must be approved of by the Council, and being 
reduced into due form, must pass under the Great Seal, 
adding that in a matter of such importance he could not act 
without the opinion of the Judges. On the llth of June, 
1553, Sir Edward Montague, Chief Justice of the Common 
Pleas, and two or three other Judges who were supposed to be 
most complying, together with the Attorney and Solicitor- 
General , were summoned to Greenwich, where the Court then 
lay. They were immediately conducted by the Chancellor 
into the royal presence, and Edward made them a formal 
speech to the effect, " that he had seriously weighed the 
dangers which threatened the laws and liberties and religion 
of the country if the Lady Mary should inherit the Crown 
and marry a foreign Prince ; that, to prevent so great an 
evil, he had determined to change the order of the succes- 
sion; and that he had sent for them to draw up a legal 
instrument according to the instructions which he produced 
to them." 

Being quite unprepared for such a proposal, they were 
thrown into the greatest perplexity. They expressed doubts 
to which the King listened with impatience ; but they at last 
obtained a respite that they might peruse the various acts of 
succession which had been passed in the preceding reign, and 
consider the best mode of accomplishing the object which his 
Majesty for the good of his people had in view. 

On deliberation they were more convinced of the entire 
illegality of the scheme, and of the personal peril in which 
they would themselves be involved by assisting in it. Ac- 
cordingly, two days after, at a Council over which the Chan- 
cellor presided, and from the commencement of which North- 
umberland chose to be absent, being asked for the instru- 
ment they had been ordered to prepare, they boldly answered 
that such an instrument would be a flat violation of the statute 
of the 35th of the late King, and would subject both those who 
should draw it and those who had advised it to be prosecuted 
for high treason. Northumberland, who had been within 
hearing in an adjoining room, finding that the persuasions of 
the Chancellor could make no impression upon them, and that 

A.D. 1553. PHE JUDGES YIELD. 1'65 

his project was in danger of instantly blowing up, rushed into 
the Council Chamber with the most indecent violence, 
threatened to proceed against them as traitors, and declared 
that " he was ready to fight in his shirt with any man in so 
just a quarrel." u They still considered there was less peril 
in disobedience, and they departed expressing a resolute 

Northumberland was not thus to be baulked. Gryffith, the 
Attorney-General, was supposed to be the chief instigator of 
the opposition. He was therefore dismissed/ and the others 
were again summoned to Greenwich the following day. Ed- 
ward, prompted by Northumberland, sternly asked them 
" why his command had not been obeyed ?" The Chief Jus- 
tice answered, that to obey would have been dangerous to 
them, and of no service to his Grace ; that the succession 
having been settled by parliament, could only be altered by 
parliament : and that nothing could be done but to call a 
parliament and introduce a bill for that purpose. The King 
replied that he intended to follow that course, but that in the 
mean time he wished to have the deed of settlement prepared 
which should be ratified in the parliament to be held in Sep- 
tember. The Chancellor and the whole Council who were 
attending in a body joined in the request, with a hint of 
their power to commit to the Tower for a breach of alle- 

Montague at last agreed, on condition that the Chancellor 
would make out a commission under the Great Seal to draw 
the instrument, and a full pardon under the Great Seal for 
having drawn it. This arrangement still was not satisfactory 
to Gosnald the Solicitor-General, but means were found to 
bring him over the following day ; and the Chancellor having 
made out the commission and the pardon in due form, the 
official instrument was engrossed on parchment, settling the 
Crown on the Lady Jane Grey. 

The Chancellor himself now began to waver, and he refused 
to set the Great Seal to it unless it was signed not only by 
the King, but by all the Judges and all the members of the 
Council. The Judges all signed it except Sir James Hales, a 
Justice of the Common Pleas, who, although a zealous Pro- 

a This language would not appear so Inde- Judges. 

corons then as now, for instead of proposing a "He was rewarded for his fidelity by being 

prize fight according to the rules of the ring, re-appointed by Mary, while Mr. Solicitor 

it referred to judicial combats, which at that was dismissal 
time occasionally took place before tb* 


testant, could not be prevailed upon by any solicitations or 
threats to derogate from the rights of the Princess Mary, the 
lawful heir to the Crown. y The Councillors all readily signed 
except Cranmer, who at last had the weakness to yield (as he 
confessed) against his own conviction. 2 Goodrich then affixed 
the Great Seal to the patent, and Northumberland, having got 
possession of it, confidently expected forthwith to reign under 
the name of his daughter-in-law. 8 

Edward's strength henceforth declined so rapidly as to 
create a strong suspicion that poison assisted in hastening his 
end, probably without foundation, for his feeble constitution 
had been undermined by consumption, which the nation had 
for some time foreseen must disappoint the hopes entertained 
of the coming felicity of his reign. He expired on the 6th of 
July, but his death was kept secret for three days, while pre- 
parations were made for the accession of Queen Jane, and 
steps were taken to get the Ladies Mary and Elizabeth into 
the power of Northumberland the usurper. 

Goodrich was allowed to retain the Great Seal as Chancellor, 
without any fresh appointment, and he heartily concurred 
with Northumberland in all the steps which were taken to 
carry into effect the new settlement of the Crown. The Lord 
Mayor, six Aldermen, and twelve principal citizens of London 
were privately summoned before the Council, and he read to 
them the patent for changing the succession, explained its 
provisions, and enforced its validity. He then required them 
to take an oath of allegiance to the new Sovereign, and dis- 
missed them with an injunction not to betray the secret, and 
to watch over the tranquillity of the city. 

On the fourth morning the Chancellor rode with the other 
Lords of the Council to Sion House, to do homage to Queen Jane, 
who was herself still entirely ignorant of her cousin's death, and 
of her approaching elevation. The Duke of Northumberland 
having announced to her the astounding intelligence, the 

y He had a very unsuitable return for his reign, although he could not contend that 

fidelity when Mary was upon the throne. Jane had been so far sovereign de facto as 

See Life of Gardyner, post. to entitle him to the benefit of the statute 

1 The Archbishop's signature appears the of Hen. VII., he tried to defend himself by 

first, and then the Chancellor's; that of Cecil this commission under the Great Seal, which 

(afterwards the celebrated Burleigh) was the he contended amounted to a pardon ; but the 

last, and it was so placed as to give him the Court held that it had no force, being contrary 

pretext to which he resorted, that he signed to an act of parliament, and that it could not 

only as a witness. Burnet, vol. vi. pp. 275, pardon future treason to be committed aftei 

276. the King's death. See Sum. xi. 243. 

8 Upon his trial lor high treason in Mary's 


Chancellor and other Councillors all fell on their knees, 
declared that they took her for their Sovereign, and swore 
that they were ready to shed their blood in support of her 
right. \Vhen she had recovered from the swoon into which 
she fell, they intimated to her that she must, according to the 
custom of English Sovereigns on their accession, repair to 
the Tower of London, there to remain till her coronation ; and 
they accompanied her down the Thames in a grand state barge 
which had been prepared for her, all the great officers of the 
Court and the principal part of the nobility joining in the 
procession. In the evening a proclamation was published, 
superscribed by Jane as Queen, and countersigned by the 
Chancellor, setting forth her title ; and she was proclaimed 
by the heralds without any opposition, but without any accla- 
mations from the people. 

A messenger arriving next day from Mary, as Queen, com- 
manding the Council, on their allegiance, to give immediate 
orders for her proclamation, the Chancellor and twenty-one 
Councillors, Cranmer being of the number, sent an answer, 
directed to the " Lady Mary," requiring her to abandon her 
false claim, and to submit, as a dutiful subject, to her lawful 
and undoubted Sovereign. They likewise sent a mandate to 
the Lord Lieutenant of the county of Essex, where Maiy was 
now mustering forces, which, after cautioning him against 
assisting the rebels, thus concluded : " Bequiring your Lord- 
ship nevertheless, like a nobleman, to remain in that promise 
and steadiness to our Sovereign Lady Queen Jane's service 
as ye shall find us ready and firm with all our force to the 
same, which neither with honour, nor with safety, nor yet 
with duty, we may now forsake." b 

But intelligence was in a few days received at the Tower 
that the Duke of Northumberland, who had marched with 
an army to suppress the insurrection, was deserted by his 
troops; and that the nobility, the gentry, and the com- 
mons, satisfied with a declaration of Mary, that she did not 
mean to change the national religion, were flocking from 
all quarters to her standard, and joyfully acknowledging her 
as Queen. 

1 The date is "Tower, July 19." The signatures are, 

" Cranmer. " Lord W. Paget. 

" T. Ely, Chancellor. " Marq. Winchester," 

"The Earls of Suffolk. and nine Knights. 

" Pembroke. Sfrype, 913. 

" Arondci. 


The Chancellor and other Councillors, in great alarm, now 
left the Tower under the pretence of receiving the French 
Ambassador at Baynard's Castle, but, in reality, with the 
intention of sending in, as speedily as possible, their adhesion 
to Queen Mary, in the hope of pardon. Having summoned 
the Lord Mayor and a deputation of Aldermen, the discus- 
sion was commenced by the Earl of Arundel, who declaimed 
against the ambition of Northumberland, and asserted the 
right, by birth and statute, of the two daughters of Henry 
VIII. The Earl of Pembroke then drew his sword, exclaim- 
ing, "If the arguments of my Lord of Arundel do not per- 
suade you, this sword shall make Mary queen, or I will die 
in her quarrel." He was answered with shouts of appro- 

Goodrich thereupon declining to act any longer as Chan- 
cellor, delivered up the Great Seal to the Lords Arundel and 
Paget, that they might carry it to Queen Mary to be disposed 
of as her Grace should deem proper. They immediately 
framed a recognition of Mary as their lawful Sovereign, which 
was signed by all present, including the Duke of Suffolk, who 
had joined them, and the whole body rode through the streets 
in procession, proclaiming Queen Mary at Paul's Cross, and 
all the principal stations of the city. 

The Earl of Arundel and Lord Paget immediately after- 
wards set off for Framlingham, where Mary then was, and 
riding post all night, next morning delivered into her hands 
the Great Seal, the davis regni, and she was so pleased with 
the gift and the accompanying news that she immediately 
granted them forgiveness. At the same hour Jane, leaving 
the Tower, returned to Sion House after a nine-days' dream of 

By some historians she is reckoned among the Sovereigns of 
England. Goodrich most undoubtedly acted as her Lord 
Chancellor, although there was not time to make a new Great 
Seal with her style and insignia upon it. 

He was beset with great terrors from the part he had osten- 
sibly taken in concocting the patent to change the succession ; 
but, partly from his sacred character and pailly from his real 
insignificance, he was not molested, and he was permitted to 
retire to his diocese. His zeal for the Reformation now so far 
cooled that he offered no opposition to the restoration of the 
old religion effected by Mary, and he retained his bishopric til? 

Rot. a. I Mary, p. 7. 


his death, which occurred on the 10th of May, 1554. In the 
lottery of life some high prizes are appropriated ^ D lMt 
to mediocrity, and he "was the holder of a fortunate 

AVe ought here to take a retrospect of changes in the law, 
and of the administration of justice during the short reign of 
Edward VI. In the history of our religious establishment, it 
is the most memorable in our annals, for now indeed the Be- 
formation was introduced, and it may be important to remem- 
ber that this was done by the legislative, without any concur- 
rence of convocations, and against the almost unanimous wish 
of the heads of the church. 

The criminal law was improved by repealing a number of 
Henry YIII.'s fantastical treasons, and by enacting that in 
every prosecution for treason the overt act should be proved 
by two credible witnesses/ 1 At the commencement of the 
reign an act passed from which no very favourable inference 
can be drawn as to the morals, habits, or accomplishments of 
the English nobility in the middle of the 16th century. House- 
breaking by day or by night, highway robbery, horse stealing, 
and the felonious taking of goods from a church, having been 
made capital offences, it was provided, "that any Lord or 
Lords of the parliament (to include Archbishops and Bishops), 
and any Peer or Peers of the realm having place and voice in 
parliament, being convicted of any of the said offences for the 
first time, upon his or their request or prayer, tliough he cannot 
read, be allowed benefit of clergy, and be discharged without 
any burning in the hand, loss of inheritance, or corruption of 
blood." e It seems strange to us that this privilege of peerage 
should have been desirable, or should have been conceded ; 
but it continued in force till taken away by an act passed 
after the trial of Lord Cardigan in the reign of Queen 

Edward's Chancellors, without any statute for that purpose, 
took upon themselves, in many instances, the exercise of legis- 
lative power. Thus in April, 1549, Lord Chancellor Eich 
issued a proclamation under the Great Seal, addressed to all 
justices of the peace, enjoining them " to arrest all comers and 
tellers abroad of vain and forged tales and lies, and to commit 
them to the galleys, there to row in chains during the King's 
pleasure ;" and by similar proclamations rates were fixed for 
the price of provisions, penalties were imposed on such as 

d 1 Ed.6,c. 12. 5 i 6 Ed. 6, c. 11. ] Ed. 6, c. 12. s 10. 14. 


should buy bad money under its nominal value, and the 
melting of the current coin was prohibited under pain of for- 

The attainder of the Seymours shows that the ruling faction 
could still perpetrate any atrocity through parliamentary or 
judicial forms. Nevertheless, in this reign, able judges pre- 
sided in Westminster Hall, and between party and party 
justice was equally administered. The prejudices against the 
equitable jurisdiction of the 'Court of Chancery subsided, and 
although hardly any of the decisions of the Chancellors are 
preserved, they appear to have been satisfactory to the public 
till nearly the close of the reign, when there were heavy com- 
plaints of the inexperience of Goodrich. 8 

I 2 Strype, 147, 143, 341, 491. Dyer's Rep. Jioore's Kty, 




WE pass from a Chancellor appointed on account of his insigni- 
ficance, that he might be a tool in the hands of others, to a 
man of original genius, of powerful intellect, of independent 
mind, at the same time unfortunately of narrow prejudices 
and a relentless heart, who had a powerful influence upon 
the events of his age, and left a distinguished name to posterity. 
Thomas Goodrich was succeeded by the celebrated Aug. 23, 

The extraction of this extraordinary man has been matter of 
great controversy. The common statement is, that he was the 
natural son of Lionel Woodville, Bishop of Salisbury, brother 
of Elizabeth, the Queen of Edward IV. : while others insist 
that " he came of poor but honest parents." So much we 
know, that he was born at Bury St. Edmunds in the year 
1483, under the reign of Richard III. 

Xo account has reached us of his schooling, and the first 
notice of his education represents him as a most diligent 
student at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. There he made great 
proficiency in classical learning, devoting himself to the school 
of the " Ciceronians,'' then in high fashion. At the same time 
he laid the foundation of his future advancement by the pro- 
found skill he acquired in the civil and canon law. In 1520 
he was admitted a Doctor in both faculties, and soon after he 
was made Master of Trinity Hall. Having a son of the Duke 
of Norfolk under his care, he acquired the friendship of that 
great noble, and was introduced by him to "Wolsey, then in 
the plenitude of power as Chancellor to Henry VIII. The 
Cardinal was much pleased with the manners and accomplish- 
ments of the academic, and, with his usual discernment, con- 
cluded that he might be made useful in the public service. 
Gardyner was very willing to change his career, for even with 
a view to advancement in the church there was then no such 
certain road for churchmen as secular employment. 


He began with being the Cardinal's private secretary, and 
showed dexterity in managing the public correspondence and 
the private affairs of his patron. We may judge of the con- 
fidence reposed in him from the terms in which he is spoken 
of by Wolsey, who calls him "primarium secretissiinorum 
consilionim secretarium, mei dimidium, et quo neminem habeo 
cariorem." h The treaty of alliance with Francis I. in 1525 
being projected, Gardyner was employed to draw up the 
projet, and the King coming to his house at Moor Park, in 
Hertfordshire, found him busy at this work. Henry looked at 
it, liked the performance well, the Secretary's conversation 
still better, and his fertility in the invention of expedients 
best of all. From this time Gardyner was consulted about 

D 1522. *k most secret affairs of State. Soon after he was 
made Chaplain to the King, and speedily Almoner, 
when he was admitted to Henry's closest familiarity and in- 

The question of the divorce from Catherine of Aragon corn- 
is-^ * n & U P' Gardyner's consequence was much enhanced 
from his high reputation as a jurist and canonist. 
Misled by his ambition, and eager to conform to the King's 
humours, he now, and for several years afterwards, took a part 
of which he deeply repented when he became the great sup- 
porter of Papal power in England, and the Chancellor and 
Prime Minister of the daughter of Catherine. He not only 
gave a strong opinion as to the invalidity of Henry's first mar- 
riage, but he devoted the whole of his energies to the object of 
obtaining the formal dissolution of it. Having assisted in 
preparing questions upon the subject for the Universities at 
AD 1523 nome an ^ abroad, and in procuring favourable 
answers, he was himself sent as ambassador to the 
Court of Eome for the purpose of furthering the divorce. As 
a bribe to Clement VII., he was to procure from the Vene- 
tians the restoration to the Eoman see of Ravenna and Servia, 
and then to extort from the gratitude or timidity of the Pope 
the bull and dispensation which would enable Henry to get 
rid of the wife of whom he was tired, and to marry her of 
whom he was then so deeply enamoured. No better proof can 
be given of his high favour with Henry than that, in this em- 
bassy, he wrote him private letters not to be seen by Wolsey, 
whose good faith in the negotiation began to be suspected. 
He failed in the object of his mission, but he managed well 

h Burnet, Rcf. No. VIII. 


while at Kome in advancing his own fortunes ; for by render- 
ing a service to the Bishop of Norwich, he was made Arch- 
deacon of Norfolk ; by intriguing for Wolsey's promotion to 
the popedom, he recommended himself more than ever to his 
patron ; ' and by the zeal and dexterity with which he con- 
ducted the secret correspondence in which he was engaged, 
he entirely won the heart of Henry. 

As the divorce suit was now to be tried in England before a 
court consisting of Cardinal Campeggio, sent over as legate 
for that purpose, and Cardinal Wolsey associated with him, 
the King immediately retained Dr. Gardyner as his counsel, 
and desired him to hurry home to prepare for the trial. The 
keen advocate, on his arrival, was indefatigable in getting up 
the proofs of the consummation of Catherine's marriage with 
Prince Arthur, and the other facts relied upon to show the 
nullity of the dispensation of Pope Julius, under which that 
marriage was solemnised. After long delays the suit was 
brought to a hearing, and Gardyner pleaded for his royal 
client with great learning and ability. But when a T 

r vi j i. J j.1, Jnlv ' 1529 - 

favourable judgment was expected, the cause was 
evoked to Borne to be decided by the Pope in person, assisted 
by the conclave. This step led to the fall of Wolsey. Of 
Gardyner's sincerity no doubts were entertained ; and it was 
thought that he would then have been appointed to succeed 
as Chancellor, had it not been that, from the arrogance of the 
great Cardinal, and the manner in which, from his ecclesi- 
astical character, it was supposed he had been able to thwart 
the King's inclinations, a fixed resolution had been formed 
that the Great Seal should not again be intrusted to a church- 
man. k 

But although Sir Thomas More was preferred as Chancellor, 
he generally confined himself to the discharge of his judicial 
duties ; and Gardyner, now Secretary of State, was the chief 
adviser of the measures of the government. In 1531 he was 
appointed to the see of Winchester ; and hitherto Cranmer and 
he, who afterwards took such different courses, and proved 
such mortal enemies, concurred in throwing off allegiance to 

i While Gardyner was at Rome Clement and jewel of this realm ! " 

was dangerously ill, and he so -won over the k So pleased was Anne Boleyn with his 

cardinals, that if a vacancy had occurred it is zeal, that she was in private correspondence 

believed that Wolsey must have succeeded, with him, and thus addressed him : " I thank 

When his masterly dispositions were related, you for my letter, wherein I perceive the 

Wolsey, thinking the triple crown already on willing and faithful mind you have to do m* 

hi* head, exclaimed, " inestimable treasure pleasure." Letter in State Paper Offict. 


Eome. While Sir Thomas More sacrificed first his office, and 
then his life, to his consistency, Gardyner, more flexible, not 
only acknowledged the King's supremacy, but wrote a book 
in defence of it, entitled " De vera et falsa Obedientia." He 
was always a determined enemy of the general Lutheran doc- 
trines ; but for a while he made his creed so far coincide with his 
interest, as to believe that the Anglican Church, rigidl} r main- 
taining all its ancient doctrines, might be severed from the 
spiritual dominion of the Pope, and flourish tinder a layman as 
its head. At this time, so completely was he attached to the 
Antipapal faction, that he actually sat on the bench with 
Cranmer, and concurred in the sentence when the marriage 
between Henry and Catherine was adjudged null and void. 

However, he joined himself with the Duke of Norfolk and 
the party opposed to any farther innovation in religion, and 
was ever on the watch to counteract the efforts of Cranmer, 
supposed to be abetted by Lord Chancellor Audley, to extend 
the Eeformation. It was whispered, that he had obtained 
absolution from the Pope for his past backsliding on the ques- 
tion of the supremacy, with a dispensation to yield silent 
obedience to this law while it existed, on condition of his 
strenuous resistance to the new opinions, and his promise to 
take the earliest opportunity of bringing England back to full 
communion with the true Church. 

Being sent on an embassy to Germany, he took occasion, 
on his return, to detail to the King the excesses of the Ana- 
baptists, and to point out to him the importance of preserving 
uniformity of faith for the safety of the state. He likewise 
urged upon him, that it was impolitic farther to offend the 
Pope, by reason of the power of the Holy See itself, and 
because the Emperor and other orthodox Princes would break 
off all commerce with him if he went to extremities against 
the Eoman Catholic religion. These representations produced 
" the bloody act of the Six Articles," and the deaths of the 
numerous sacramentaries, who suffered under it, for denying the 
real presence. 

But what he chiefly watched was the manner in which the 
situation of Queen-consort was filled, judging that upon this 
depended a good deal what should be the national religion. 
Although he had contributed to the elevation of Anne Boleyn, 
he rejoiced in her fall, and was supposed to have hastened it. 

m " Gardyner. It will ne'er be well she, 

Till Cranmer, Cromwell, her two bunds, and Sleep In their graves." Shaksp. Ben. V11I. 


Death delivered Mm from the apprehensions he entertained 
of the ascendency of Jane Seymour. Then arose a AJX lsyi 
mortal struggle between him and Cromwell for sup- 
plying the vacancy thus occasioned. The Vicar- 
General had a temporary triumph from the flattering portrait, 
by Holbein, of the Protestant Anne of Cleves ; but Anne her- 
self arrived ; Henry was disgusted with her, and he was en- 
raged against the man who had imposed her upon him. In a 
few months Anne was divorced, and Cromwell was 

, . , , AJ>. 1540. 


Xothing could exceed the exultation of Gardyner at this 
catastrophe, for Cromwell, who was the author of the dis- 
solution of the monasteries, and himself deeply tainted with 
the new doctrines, had entered into secret engagements with the 
Protestant Princes of Germany, and was supposed to have a 
plan, in conjunction with some of the nobility, to make still 
further inroads on the property of the Church. 

There was much anxiety till it was seen what choice the 
King would make, but Gardyner considered the true faith 
for ever established when he had placed upon the throne the 
young and beautiful Catherine Howard, the niece of the Duke 
of Norfolk, and herself a rigid Eoman Catholic. 

For a year he went on contentedly, and had the satisfaction 
of alarming Cranmer so much, that the Archbishop, in great 
consternation, sent back his German wife to her own country, 
lest he should be subjected to the severe penalties enacted to 
enforce the celibacy of the clergy. But a cruel mortification 
awaited Gardyner in the discovery of the profligate character 
of the new Catholic Queen. He at first resisted the 
proofs of her guilt, and contended that they were fa- 
bricated by Cranmer. 

After her execution, his earnest desire was to assist in ele- 
vating to the throne a lady not only of pure morals but of pure 
orthodoxy, who should at once be faithful to the King and to 
the Pope. After the act passed making it high treason for any 
woman who was not a true maid to marry the King without 
disclosing her shame, there was, as we have seen, much shy- 
ness among all the voting ladies of the Court when his Majesty 
seemed to make any advance towards them ; but Gardyner 
still hoped for an alliance with some sovereign family on the 
Continent that was leagued against the new heresy. 

^Vhat must have been his astonishment and consternation 
when, in the morning of the 12th of July, 1543, being in at- 


tendance on the King at Hampton Court, he was ordered 
forthwith to celebrate a marriage between his Majesty and the 
Lady Catherine Par, the widow of Lord Latimer, and well 
known to be a decided Lutheran, although, from the discretion 
which always marked her conduct, she had taken care not to 
give offence to those of opposite opinions ! Of the mature age of 
thirty-five, she was by no means without personal attractions ; 
but no one had ever dreamed of Henry putting up with a 
widow after his many declarations, both to parliament and in 
private society, that he could have nothing to say to any 
woman who he could not be sure, from his superior science, 
was an untouched virgin. 

When Gardyner had recovered his speech, he made an ob- 
jection, that the forms of the Church must be observed even 
by crowned heads ; and that the proposed marriage, at that 
moment, would be irregular and uncanonical. But his asto- 
nishment and mortification were redoubled when the King, 
saying he had foreseen that difficulty, produced to him a licence 
from Archbishop Cranmer, dispensing with the publication of 
banns, and allowing the ceremony to be performed at any hour 
and in any place, " for the honour and weal of the realm." 
The wily prelate perceived that he had been completely out- 
witted, and that, as a piece of wicked pleasantry, it was in- 
tended to make him the instrument of bringing about a matri- 
monial union, which it was known would be so distasteful to 
him. But he could no longer resist the King's commands; 
and being led into a small private chapel in the Palace, there 
he found the Lady Catherine and all requisite preparations for 
the marriage ceremony. Henry having gone through this for 
the sixth time, in a few minutes the widow Latimer was Queen 
of England." 

Gardyner, who had always a great command of himself, be- 
haved with decency; but he felt that he had been in- 
sulted, and secretly vowing revenge, he resolved to "bide 
his time." 

He took every opportunity of instilling suspicion into the 
King's mind respecting Cranmer's principles and pur- 
A.D. 1544. p Ogeg . ^(j at ] as f. Henry gave consent that the Arch- 
bishop should be examined before the Council, and that they 
should take such steps respecting him as the safety of the state 
might require. But it had been intended from the beginning 
to play off another trick upon Gardyner ; or the King, upon 

n Chron. fatal. 238. 


farther consideration, resolved to disappoint and to mortify 
him ; for his Majesty gave Cranmer a ring, to be shown, in 
ca.*e of necessity, as a proof that he was still in full favour. 

It was stipposed that the Archbishop was at last to share the 
fate of Fisher, More, and Cromwell. Being summoned as a 
criminal before the Council, after he had been kept waiting 
for some hours at the door among the populace, he was called 
in and underwent a strict interrogatory respecting his opinions. 
Gardyner then said in a stern tone : " My Lord of Canterbury, 
you must stand committed to the Tower." The Archbishop 
showed the royal signet ; and the King himself suddenly 
coming in, sharply reprimanded Gardyner and Chancellor 
Wriothesley for their harsh conduct to a man to whom he 
owed such obligations, and whom he was determined to 

In the following year, Gardyner thought that the hour of 
vengeance had at last arrived. The King, of his own ^ D JM6 
accord, complained to him of the Queen, repre- 
senting, 4i that he had discovered, to his great concern, that 
she entertained most suspicious opinions concerning the real 
presence, and other points comprised in the Six Articles ; and 
that, forgetting the modesty of her sex, and the subjection of 
the wife to the husband (to say nothing of what was due to 
himself as Sovereign and Defender of the Faith), she had 
actually been arguing with him on these essential heads of 
theology, and had been trying to undermine his orthodoxy, 
and to make him a convert to the damnable doctrines of 
Luther, which, in his youth, he had refuted with so much 
glory." Gardyner eagerly laid hold of the opportunity to in- 
flame the quarrel ; and strongly inculcated upon the King his 
duty to forget every private consideration, and to set a bright 
example of piety and Christian courage by prosecuting the 
sharer of his bed and throne for thus violating the law of God 
and a statute of the realm. The King, exasperated by these 
exhortations, agreed that the matter should be mentioned to 

o Shakspeare gives a very lively and just w e will be short with yon. T is his 
representation of this scene in the fifth H.J^; >- :.-.--i 

TrTFI . . . ^ And oar consent, for better trial of TOO, 

Act of Henry VlII,-only that, by his From hence ^ canaaitted Vibe 

usual pardonable disregard of dates, be sup- Tower ; 

poses it to have happened in the lifetime Where being but a private man again, 

of Anne Boleyn, at least twelve years You shall know many dare accuse you 
sooner. Gardvner's speech is very charao > - : -.~- 

,_ , ri/ . More than I fear you are provided for." 


" My Lord, because we have business of And see him safe f the Tower.'' 

more moment, Hen. Till, act T. sc. 2. 



Wriothesley ; and (as we have seen in the life of that Chan- 
cellor), had it not been for the accident of the articles of im- 
peachment being clandestinely read, and secretly communi- 
cated to the Queen before they were acted upon, so as to give 
her an opportunity for a dexterous explanation which soothed 
the King's wrath she would certainly have been sent to the 
Tower, and, probably, ending her career on Tower Hill, 
Henry would have made a seventh attempt to have a wife both 
chaste and orthodox. p 

During the rest of this reign Gardyner was out of favour at 
Court, and obliged to confine himself to the discharge of what 
he considered his duties as a prelate. In this capacity he took 
an active part in the persecution of Anne Ascue, Nicholas 
Boleman, John Lassels, and others, who were burnt for deny- 
ing the real presence ; while he could not save an equal 
number of stanch Papists who suffered at the instance of the 
opposite party for denying the King's supremacy. But his 
chief object was to check the translation of the Bible, and its 
circulation among the laity, which he considered the grand 
source of heresy and insubordination to just spiritual autho- 
rity. Having tried ineffectually to render the translation un- 
intelligible, by retaining a large mixture of Latin words from 
the Vulgate, for which he contended there were no equivalent 
terms in the English tongue, q he succeeded in introducing a 
clause into an act of parliament upon the subject, confining 
the use of the translation to gentlemen and merchants, with a 
preamble, " that many seditious and ignorant persons had 
abused the liberty granted them of reading the Bible, and that 
great animosities, tumults, and schisms had been occasioned by 
perverting the sense of the Scriptures." r 

He still made ineffectual attempts to recover the King's 
favour. Having prevailed on the Convocation to grant rather 
a liberal subsidy, he hurried with the news to Windsor. The 
King taking horse on the terrace to ride out a hawking, saw 
Gardyner standing in a group with Lord Chancellor Wriothesley 
and other Councillors, and calling out to the Lord Chancellor 
said, " Did not I command you he should come no more 
amongst you ?" The Lord Chancellor answered, " An it 

P Ante, p. 120 123. Some historians pontifex,contritus, JiolocaiiFta, aacramentum, 

think that in this affair Henry was again elementa, ceremonia, mystcrium, presbyter, 

mystifying Gardyner. I have no doubt that, sacrificium, humilitas, fatitfac.tio, peccatum, 

in the present instance, he was serious and gratia, hostia, charitas. Burnet, vol. i. 

sincere. p. 315. 

1 Among these were ecclesia, pcenitentia, ' 33 lion. 8. c. 1. 


please your Grace his coming is to bring word of a bene- 
volence given to your Majesty by the clergy." The King 
exclaimed, "Ah! let him come hither;" "and so," observes 
the narrator of this scene, of which he was an eye-witness, 
"he did his message, and the King went straight away."' 
Being anxious to keep up a belief with the multitude that 
he still enjoyed the King's confidence, it is related that 
Henry, lying ill in bed, and having summoned a Council, 
Gardyner attended, but was not admitted into the royal pre- 
sence. " Thereupon he remained in the outer Privy Chamber 
until the Council came from the King, and then went down 
with them, to the end, as was thought, to blind the world 
withal." ' 

The prosecution of the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of 
Surrey, at the close of the reign, still further weakened the 
Catholic party ; but a great struggle was made by them to 
have Gardyner included in the list of Henry's Executors, to 
whom the government was to be intrusted during the minority 
of his son. Sir Anthony Brown, " a principal pillar of the 
Eomanists," having at all times access to the King, as being of 
the Privy Chamber, knelt down, Henry lying sick in bed, and 
said, " My Lord of Winchester, I think by negligence, is left 
out of your Majesty's will, who hath done your Highness most, 
painful, long, and notable service, and one without whom the 
rest shall not be able to overcome your great and weighty 
afiairs committed unto them." " Hold your peace," quoth the 
King, " I remembered him well enough, and of good purpose 
have left him out. For surely, if he were in my testament, 
and one of you, he woidd cumber you all, and you should 
never rule him, he is of so troublesome a nature. I myself 
could use him and rule him to all manner of purposes as 
seemed good unto me. but so shall you never do, and there- 
fore talk no more of him to me in this behalf." Sir Anthony 
was urged on again to press the point, as everything was felt 
to depend upon it ; but Henry, well prepared by the Seymours 
and Catherine Par, who had got complete possession of him, 
put an end to all farther attempts, by exclaiming, " Have you 
not yet done to molest me in this manner ? If you will not 
cease to trouble me, by the faith I owe unto God I will surely 
despatch thee out of my will also, and therefore let us hear DO 
more of it." u 

Sir Anthony Lenny. See Fox, Mart. 1 St. Tr. 560. l Ibi6 

Fox, Mart. 

N 2 


On the accession of the new Sovereign, Gard}'ner, though 
excluded from the Council, set himself openly and 
fearlessly to oppose the measures brought forward 
under the Protector, to change the established religion; and 
there can be no doubt that he had the law on his side. Before 
a parliament was called, the Council, disregarding the " Act 
of the Six Articles " which was still in force, issued orders for 
changing the ceremonial of Divine worship, published a 
book of homilies to be read by all priests, inculcating the new 
doctrines, and appointed ministers to go into every diocese 
to see that the new regulations were observed. Gardyner ex- 
pressed his firm resolve that if the visitors came into his 
diocese he should proceed against them, that they might be 
restrained and punished. He made representations on the 
subject to the Protector, and tried to show both the illegality 
and the inexpediency of these proceedings. " 'Tis a dangerous 
thing," said he, "to use too much freedom in researches of this 
kind. If you cut the old canal, the water is apt to run further 
than you have a mind to. If you indulge the humours of 
novelty, you cannot put a stop to people's demands, nor govern 
their indiscretions at pleasure. To speak my mind and to act 
as my conscience directs, are two branches of liberty which I 
can never part with." 

He forcibly urged that Edward was too young and that the 
Protector was too much occupied to study subjects of contro- 
versy ; that it was imprudent to run such a risk of disturbing 
the public peace during a minority ; that injunctions issued in 
the King's name could not invalidate acts of parliament ; and 
that as Cardinal Wolsey had incurred a premunire though he 
acted under royal licence, so all clergymen who taught the 
doctrines in the homilies would be liable to the penalties 
enacted by the statute of the Six Articles, which he himself 
was determined to enforce for the honour of God and the good 
of the Church." He likewise wrote in a contemptuous tone to 
Cranmer, defying him to prove the truth of certain doctrines 
inculcated in the book of homilies, and reproaching him with 
duplicity in now reprobating the opinions which he had 
appeared zealously to countenance during the life of the late 

Gardyner was in consequence summoned before the Council, 
and required to promise obedience to the royal injunctions. 
He appealed to the approaching parliament. The Protector's 

* Strype. See the correspondence at full length. 1 St. Tr. 53 


tiarty became afraid of the resistance which., as a member ol 
the House of Peers, he might offer to their measures, and they 
were still more alarmed at the flame he was beginning to kindle 
out of doors by addressing himself to the religious feelings of 
the people. Therefore, though he could not be charged with 
any otfence against the law. he was in the most arbitrary man- 
ner forthwith committed to the Fleet, and detained a close 
prisoner till the end of the session. 

Attempts were in vain made during his confinement to gain 
him over to the new plan of reform. On one occasion, C'ran- 
mer, finding he could make no impression upon him, exclaimed 
testily, '-Brother of Winchester, you like not anything new 
unless you be yourself the author thereof." " Your Grace 
wrongeth me," replied the true conservative : " I have never 
been author yet of any one new thing, for which I thank my 

An intriguing subordinate was afterwards sent to him to 
hint that, if he would soften his opposition, he might have a 
place in the Council, and be restored to his see. But he 
answered indignantly, " that his character and conscience for- 
bade it : and that if he agreed on such terms, he should deserve 
to be whipped in every market town in the realm, and then to 
be hanged for an example, as the veriest varlet that ever was 
bishop in any realm christened." - v 

At the end of the session which had been so much smoothed 
by his absence he was set at liberty, and ordered by June J549 
the Council to preach at Paul's Cross before the King 
on the feast of St. Peter, with an injunction that he should 
not touch on any controverted question. He declared to a 
friend that this was perhaps the only opportunity the young 
Prince might have of hearing the troth, and that he was deter- 
mined, whatever might be the consequence, to explain to him 
the true Catholic doctrine with respect to the mass and the 
eucharist. He kept his word ; but the next day he was com- 
mitted to the Tower. 

During his absence from parliament the statute of the Six 
Articles was repealed, and bills were passed allowing the 
clergy to marry ; for the administration of the Sacrament of 
the Lord's Supper to the laity in both kinds ; for uniformity 
of worship, and for the use of the new Liturgy/ Still 
certain bishops, animated by Garclyners example, refused tc 
conform ; and after he had been confined for two or three 

r Strype. 1 St. Tr. 551. * Slat. 1 Ed. 6- 


years, a resolution was taken to deprive him and them of 
July, i55o. their bishoprics, so that the reformed church might 
be complete. 

The method of proceeding against him was violent, and was 
hardly disguised by any colour of law or justice. A deputa- 
tion from the Council were sent to tempt him with questions. 
Finding him more compliant than they expected, they rose 
in their demands ; and at last insisted on unconditional sub- 
mission, and an acknowledgment of past errors. Perceiving 
that it was their purpose either to dishonour or to ruin him, or 
perhaps both, he determined not to gratify them by any further 
compliance. He therefore refused to answer any questions till 
lie should recover his liberty ; but he asserted his innocence, 
and desired a fair trial. In a few days he was brought before 
the Council, when certain articles were read, and, in the 
King's-name, he was required to subscribe them. He replied 
that "in all things his Majesty could lawfully command he 
was most ready to obey ; but forasmuch as there were divers 
things required of him that his conscience would not bear, 
therefore he prayed them to have him excused." Immediate 
sequestration of his ecclesiastical revenue was pronounced, 
with an intimation that, if he did not submit within three 
months, he should be deprived of his bishopric. 

At the end of that time a commission was issued to the 
Metropolitan, three Bishops and six laymen, to bring him 
judicially to trial. Having protested against the validity of 
the commission, which was not founded on any statute or pre- 
cedent, he defended himself with vigour ; but Cranmer, on the 
twenty-second day of the proceedings, before the close of the 
defendant's proofs, which occasioned some disagreeable disclo- 
sures, on the ground that he was contumacious, pronounced 
sentence against him that he should be deprived of his bishopric. 
He appealed to the King ; but his appeal was not regarded, 
and he was now shut up in a meaner cell in the Tower, with 
instructions from the Council that no man should see him but 
one of the warders ; that all his books and papers should be 
taken from him ; and that he should be refused the use of pen, 
i:ik, and paper. There he lay, in solitary confinement, with- 

Juty e, out any mitigation of his sufferings, till the accession 

1553 - of Queen Mary, when he was made Lord Chancellor 
and Prime Minister to that Sovereign. 

Such was the seclusion in which Gardyner had been kept 
that he had not heard of the death of Edward VI., of the pro- 


clamation of Lady Jane Grey as Queen, or the manner in 
which the nation had taken up the cause of the rightful heii 
to the Crown, when, on the morning of the 31st of July, 1553, 
he was told of those events, with the additional news that 
Queen Mary, accompanied by her sister Elizabeth, was actually 
making a triumphal procession through the streets of London, 
on her way to the Tower. 

It happened that in this fortress there were confined four 
other state prisoners, who had never been allowed to commu- 
nicate with each other, and had been subjected to equal rigour, 
the old Duke of Norfolk, attainted in the last days of Heniy 
VIII., and saved from the block by the opportune death of 
that tyrant, the Duchess of Somerset, who had been com- 
mitted at the same time, with her husband, as an accomplice 
in his treasons, Courtenay, son of the Marquis of Exeter, who, 
without being charged with any crime, had been shut up ever 
since his father's execution, in the year 1538, and Tunstal, 
Bishop of Durham, who, imitating the firmness of Gardyner, 
had. Likewise been deprived and sentenced to close imprison- 
ment. As the procession approached amidst the deafening 
acclamations of the people, these five illustrious captives were 
liberated : and having immediately met and appointed Gardy- 
ner to deliver an address of congratulation to the ne\v Queen 
in their names, they all knelt down on the green inside the 
great gate leading from Tower Hill. As she entered, Gardy- 
ner, still on his knees, pronounced his address in terms and in 
a tone the most affecting. Mary burst into tears, called them 
her prisoners, bade them rise, and, having kissed them, restored 
them to complete liberty. 

If Gardyner's fall from power had been precipitate, much 
more sudden and striking was his re-instatement. He was the 
Queen's chief favourite and adviser from their first interview, 
and, taken from a dungeon, he was invested with the supreme 
power of the state. We have seen, in the life of Lord Chan- 
cellor Goodrich, that the Great Seal, which he renounced on 
the dethronement of Queen Jane, was earned by the Lords 
Arundel and Paget to the Queen at Frainlingham." She 
brought it with her to London, as an emblem of her sove- 
reignty, and she immediately delivered it to Gardyner, as 
Lord Keeper, till he might be more regularly installed ; at the 
same time swearing him of her Privy Council. At the end of 
three weeks she constituted him Lord Chancellor, with an in- 

a Ante, p. ] 68. 


tiraation that he should use the Great Seal which bore the 
name and style of her deceased brother till another, bearing 
her own name and style, should be made. It is curious to 
observe, that she herself assumed the title of " Supreme Head 
of the Church." b 




IT must be admitted that the earliest measures of Mary's reign, 
July 5, prompted by Gardyner, were highly praiseworthy. 
1553. fhe depreciated currency was restored ; a new coin- 
age came out of sovereigns and half-sovereigns, according to 
the old standard ; the subsidy extorted from the late parlia- 
ment was remitted ; and, to discountenance puritanical se- 
verity, the festivities which distinguished the Court in the 
time of Henry VIII. were restored. No complaint could as 
yet be made of undue severity in punishing the late move- 
ment in favour of Queen Jane ; for though she and her youth- 
ful husband, and various others, were convicted of treason, 
Northumberland only and two of his associates were actually 

The privilege of crowning the Sovereigns of England, we 
have seen, belongs to the Archbishops of Canterbury; but 
Mary would have considered it an insult to her mother's 
memory, and little less than sacrilege, to have permitted 
Cranmer to perform this rite, and he was in no situation to 
assert the claim of his see, as he was at present liable to be 
prosecuted as a traitor for signing the settlement to disturb 
Mary's succession, and for having actually supported the title 

b Memd. qd die Mercurii videlt vicisemo Due Regine percharissimi apud Richemount 

tcrtio die August! anno regni Due Marie Dei in sua privata era ibidem sigillum illud in 

Gra. Angl. Franc, et Hiber. Regine Fidei De- quadam baga Sec. Reverendo in Xro Pri Sta 

fensoriset in Terra Ecclie Anglicane et Hiber- Stepho Winton Epo deliberavit ad sigillan- 

nie supremi capitis prirao circa horam quin- dum et excendum ut Magnum Sigillum ipsius 

tarn post meridiem ejusdem diei Magnum Si- Dne Regine quousque aliud Magnum Sigil- 

gillum ipsius Domne Regine quondamque si- luin cum nome et titulo Regine insculptura 

gillum excollentissimi Principls Edward Sexti fabricari et de novo fieri possit," Sec. Rot. CL 

nuper Regis Anglie Angl. defunct, fris prce 1 Ma,-. 


of Queen Jane. The honour of anointing the Queen and 
placing the crown upon her head was conferred on Lord 
Chancellor Gardyner, who had been restored to his see of 

To please the people, he took care that the ceremony should 
be performed with great magnificence, ancient precedent being 
strictly adhered to in the religious part of it ; and the banquet 
in Westminster Hall gave high satisfaction to ail who partook 
of it, whether Eomanists or Kefonners. Gardyner deserved 
still more praise for publishing, the same evening, a general 
pardon under the Great Seal (with a few exceptions) to all 
concerned in treasonable or seditious practices since the 
Queen's accession. 

Hopes were entertained that his elevation to power had 
mitigated the sternness of his character, and that moderate 
and humane counsels would continue to distinguish the new 
reign. These hopes, probably, would not have been disap- 
pointed, had not the Chancellor formed a strong opinion that 
it was essentially necessaiy for the safety of the state that the 
new doctrines should be utterly suppressed, and that church 
government shoidd be restored to the same condition in which 
it was before the rupture with Eome. He was no enthusiast ; 
he was not naturally cruel ; he was not bigoted in his creed, 
having several times shown that he could make profession of 
doctrine bend to political expediency. But even in the reign 
of Henry VIII. he had come to the conclusion that the privi- 
lege of free inquiry in religion was incompatible with the 
peace of society, and that the only safe policy was to enforce 
the established standard of faith. His own sufferings during 
the reign of Edward VI. had, no doubt, strengthened these 
views, and he was now prepared resolutely to carry through 
the most rigorous measures, any temporary display of liber- 
ality being intended only to facilitate the attainment of his 
object. He resolved, at the same time, to proceed with cau- 
tion, and to wait till he had brought about a reconciliation 
with Eome and the restitution of the Catholic religion by 
authority of parliament, before resorting to the axe and the 
stake as instruments of conversion. 

Meanwhile he himself and the other Bishops deprived 
during the last reign being restored, the heretical Archbishop 
of York and the Bishops of London, Exeter, and Gloucester 
were sent to prison. Cranmer and Latimer soon followed 
them. It should be recorded, however, that when some zeal- 


ous Catholics urged the imprisonment of the celebrated foreign 
reformer, Peter Martyr, Gardyner, to his honour, pleaded that 
he had come over by an invitation from a former government, 
and furnished him with supplies to return to his own country 
in safety. 

Parliament meeting on the 5th of October, the Chancellor, 
after celebrating a solemn mass of the Holy Ghost according 
to the ancient ritual, delivered, in presence of the Queen and 
the two Houses, an eloquent oration, in which he celebrated 
the piety, clemency, and other virtues of the reigning Sove- 
reign, and called upon the legislature to pass the laws which 
were required, after the late dissensions and disturbances, fc/T 
the good of the Church and the safety of the realm. 

The first act which he proposed was most laudable, as it. 
swept away all the newly created treasons, although it was 
considered by some an insidious attempt to restore the autho- 
rity of the Pope. He had little difficulty in changing the 
national religion as to doctrine and worship ; but there was 
a great alarm at the thought of restoring Papal supremacy, 
as this might draw along with it a restoration of the 
church lands, with which the nobles and gentry had been 

In the Lords, there was no show of opposition to any pro- 
posed measure ; but, notwithstanding great pains taken by 
Gardyner to manage the elections, there were symptoms of 
discontent exhibited in the House of Commons, which ren- 
dered it prudent that several bills brought in should be post- 

The most strenuous opponent of the Catholic counter- 
revolution was that same Sir James Hales, the Judge of 
the Common Pleas, who, at the close of the reign of Ed- 
ward VI., had risked his life by refusing to join in the 
illegal scheme for setting Mary aside from the succession to 
the Crown. 

In vacation time he resided in Kent, where he acted as a 
magistrate ; and presiding as chairman at the Michaelmas 
Quarter Sessions, held for that county, he gave charge to the 
grand jury to inquire of all offences touching the Queen's 
supremacy and religious worship, against the statutes made in 
the time of Henry VIII. and Edward VI., which he told them 
remained in full force, and parliament alone could repeal. Iu 
consequence, an indictment being found for the unlawful ceit*- 
braiinu ,f luass, contrary to the form of the statute in such 


case made and provided, Hales tried, convicted, and sentecjed 
lUo defendant as the law required. 

On the first day of the following term, the Judges were to 
be sworn in before the Chancellor in Westminster HaD, under 
their appointment by the new Sovereign ; and Hales having, 
with the rest, presented himself to his Lordship, the following 
dialogue took place between them, highly characteristic of the 
individuals and of the age. Lord Chancellor. " Master Hales, 
ye shall understand, that like as the Queen's Highness hath 
heretofore conceived good opinion of you, especially for that 
ye stood both faithfully and lawfully in her cause of just .suc- 
cession, refusing to set your hand to the book, among others 
that were against her Grace in that behalf; so now, through 
your own late deserts against certain her Highness's doings, 
ye stand not well in her Grace's favour, and, therefore, before 
ye take any oath, it shall be necessary for you to make your 
purgation." Hales J. " I pray you, my Lord, what is the 
cause ? " Lord Chancellor. " Information is given that ye 
have indicted certain priests in Kent for saying mass." 
Hales J. " My Lord, it is not so ; I indicted none : but, 
indeed, certain indictments of like matter were brought before 
ine at the last sessions there holden, and I gave order there 
as the law required. So I have professed the law, against 
which, in cases of justice, I will never, God willing, proceed, 
nor in any wise dissemble, but with the same show forth my 
conscience ; and if it were to do again, I would do no less 
than I did." Lord Chancellor. " Yea, Master Hales, your con- 
science is known well enough ; I know you lack no con- 
science." Hales J. " My Lord, you may do well to search 
your own conscience, for mine is better known to myself than 
to you ; and to be plain, I did as well use justice in your said 
mass case by my conscience as by law, wherein J am fully 
bent to ^and ^ trial to the utmost that can be objected. And 
if I have therein done any injury or wrong, let me be judged 
by the law ; for I will seek no better defence, considering 
chiefly that it is my profession." Lord Chancellor. " Why, Mas- 
ter Hales, although you had the rigour of the law on your 
side, yet ye might have regard to the Queen's Highness's pre- 
sent doings in that case. And further, although ye seem to be 
more than precise in the law, yet I think ye woiild be very 
loth to yield to the extremity of such advantage as might be 
icathered against your proceedings in the law as ye have 
sometimes taken upon you in place of justice, an3 if it were 


well tried, I believe ye should not be well able to stand 
honestly thereto." Hales J. " My Lord, I am not so perfecl 
but I may err for lack of knowledge. But, both in con- 
science, and such knowledge of the law as God hath given 
me, I will do nothing but I will maintain and abide in it ; and 
if my goods, and all that I have, be not able to counterpoise 
the case, my body shall be ready to serve the turn, for they be 
all at the Queen's Highness's pleasure." Lord Chancellor. 
" Ah, sir, ye be very quick and stout in your answers. But 
as it should seem that which you did was more of a will 
favouring the opinion of your religion against the service now 
used, than for any occasion or zeal of justice, seeing the 
Queen's Highness doth set it forth as yet, wishing all her 
faithful subjects to embrace it accordingly ; and where you 
offer both body and goods in your trial, there is no such 
matter required at your hands, and yet ye shall not have your 
own Mall neither." Hales J. " My Lord, I seek not wilful 
will, but to show myself, as I am bound, in love to God, and 
obedience to the Queen's Majesty, in whose cause willingly, 
for justice sake, all other respects set apart, I did of late, as 
your Lordship knoweth, adventure as much as I had. And as 
for my religion, I trust it be such as pleaseth God, wherein I 
am ready to adventure as well my life as my substance, if I be 
called thereunto. And so in lack of mine own power and 
will, the Lord's will be fulfilled." Lord Chancellor. " Seeing 
you be at this point, Master Hales, I will presently make an 
end with you. The Queen's Highness shall be informed of 
your opinion and declaration. And as her Grace shall there- 
upon determine, ye shall have knowledge. Until such time, 
ye may depart as you came without your oath ; for as it ap- 
pearefh, ye are scarce worthy the place appointed." Hales /. 
" I thank your Lordship ; and as for my vocation being 
both a burden and a charge more than ever I desired to take 
upon me, whensoever it shall please the Queen's Highness to 
ease me thereof, I shall most humbly, with due contentation, 
obey the same." 

In this witty rencontre it must be confessed that the Chan- 
cellor had the worst of it ; but the poor Puisne ere long had 
reason to regret his triumph, for not only was he dismissed 
from his office of Judge, but in a few days after he was com- 
mitted to the King's Bench prison, where he remained in close 
custody till Lent in the following year, when he was trans- 

c Burners' Tracts, 2 Coll. vol. xcv. ] St. Tr. 714. 


ferred to the Compter in Bread Street. He was then sent to 
the Fleet, where he was frightened to such a degree by stories 
which the keeper told him of the torments in preparation for 
those who denied the supremacy of the Pope, that he attempted 
to commit suicide by stabbing himself; and when he was at 
last discharged, his mind was so much weakened by the hard 
usage he had undergone, that he drowned himself in a river 
near his own house in Kent. d 

Gardyner incurred greater odium by advising, as a discour- 
agement to the reformers, the execution of the Lad}* Jane 
Grey, and her youthful husband, Lord Guilford Dudley, a 
cruelty not palliated by Wyat's rebellion, with which they 
had no privity. He behaved generously, however, to the 
Princess Elizabeth, and procured her release from the Tower, 
perhaps because she had, about this time, been induced to con- 
form to the Catholic worship. " The Protestant schoolmaster 
of Jane Grey and of Elizabeth was likewise protected by the 
Popish Chancellor of Mary ; and the grateful testimony of 
Ascham in memoiy of his protector, who in days of danger 
had guarded ' the Muses' Bower,' is recorded in a spirit which 
Milton would not have disdained." 6 

Where religion was not concerned, Gardyner showed himself 
a wise and even patriotic statesman. When the im- 

,! it r\ 5 , i A-D- 1554. 

portant question ot the Queen s marriage came to be 
discussed, he strongly recommended to her choice a handsome 
Englishman, Courtenay Earl of Devonshire, so that the liberties 
and independence of the nation might not be endangered by 
an alliance with a foreign prince. Mary was at first inclined 
to take his advice, till, piqued by the preference which Cour- 
tenay showed to Elizabeth, and alarmed by his dissolute 

d The coroner's jury very unjustly brought between the gravediggers in Hamlet upon 

in a verdict against him of fdo tie se, which the parallel case of Ophelia : 

gave rise to the famous question whether, " if Isi Clo. " Here lies the water ; good: here 

a man kills himself, the crime of suicide is stands the man ; good: If the man go to this 

to be considered as complete in his lifetime water and drown himself, it is, will he, nill 

or not? " He held an estate as joint tenant he.he goes: mark you that. But if the water 

with his wife, which it was contended was come to him and drown him, he drowns not 

forfeited to the Crown by his felony. The himself. Argal, he that is not guilty of hia 

Counsel for Lady Hales argued ineffectually own death, shortens not his own life." 

that a man cannot kill himself in his life- 2nd Clo. " But is this lv>v .- " 

time. The legal reasoning in Judge Hales's 1st Clo. " Ay, marry is 't, owner's quest 

case (which is reported in Plowden*) is co- law." 

pied almost word for word in the dialogue e Ed. Review, April, 1846. 

* Hales v. Patit, Plowd. 253. 


character, she formed a determination to marry her cousin, 
Philip of Spain, from which Gardyner in vain laboured to 
divert her. She declared that " she would prove a match for 
all the cunning of the Chancellor ;" and having sent for the 
imperial ambassador, kneeling at the altar, she, in his 
presence, pledged her faith to Philip, and vowed that while 
she lived she never would take any other man for her hus- 

Gardyner contrived to get an address voted to her from the 
House of Commons, which, after earnestly pressing her to 
marry, expressed strong apprehension of a foreign alliance. 
When told of it, she said she would answer it with her own 
mouth. Accordingly, when the Speaker had read the address, 
and it was expected that the Chancellor, as usual, would 
answer in her name, she herself replied, "that for their ex- 
pressions of loyalty, and their desire that the issue of her body 
might succeed her on the throne, she sincerely thanked them ; 
but in as much as they pretended to limit her in the choice of 
a husband, she thanked them not. The marriage of her pre- 
decessors had always been free, nor would she surrender a 
privilege which they had enjoy ed." f 

Finding her immovable, Gardyner took care that the articles 
of marriage should be as favourable as possible for the interest 
and security of England, by stipulating, that though Philip 
should have the title of King, the administration should 
be entirely in the Queen; that no foreigner should be 
capable of enjoying any office in the kingdom; that no in- 
novation should be made in the English laws, customs, and 
privileges; and that Philip should not carry the Queen 
abroad without her consent, nor any of her children, with- 
out the consent of the nobility. As soon as the treaty was 
signed, the Chancellor called a meeting of the Lord Mayor, 
Aldermen, and citizens of London, at Guildhall, and, in an 
eloquent discourse, explained to them the many and valuable 
benefits which he anticipated from an union between their 
Queen and a Prince, the apparent heir of so many rich and 
powerful states. 

Parliament assembling, the Chancellor opened the session 

April 5, by a speech in which he dwelt on the Queen's here- 

1554- ditary title to the Crown, maintained her right of 

choosing a husband for herself, observed how proper a use 

she made of that right by giving the preference to an old ally 

t Noailles, 2G9. 


descended from the house of Burgundy, and, remarking the 
failure of Henry YIII.'s posterity, of whom there now re- 
mained none but the Queen and the Lady Elizabeth, added, 
that in order to obviate the inconveniences which might arise 
from different pretenders, it was necessary to invest the 
Queen by law with a power of disposing of the Crown, 
and of appointing her successor, which had belonged to her 

Both Houses ratified the articles of marriage, but they re- 
fused to pass any such law as the Chancellor pointed out to 
them, and it is supposed that he made the suggestion only 
to please the Queen ; for the power might have been used 
not only by setting aside the Lady Elizabeth, at which he 
would have rejoiced, but by appointing Philip to succeed, to 
which he never would have consented. 

The royal bridegroom at last arrived at Southampton, and 
in the cathedral church of Winchester the Lord j 
Chancellor himself celebrated the marriage between 
him and Mary, which he had done all in his power to prevent, 
and which turned out so inauspiciously. His power, however, 
was if possible increased ; for the Emperor Charles, having 
the highest opinion of his wisdom, had strongly exhorted 
Philip in all things to be guided by his counsels. 

The passionate wish of the Court now was to consummate 
the reconciliation with Eome, and for this purpose a parlia- 
ment was summoned to meet in November. To ensure a 
favourable House of Commons, Gardyner sent circulars in the 
Queen's name to the Sheriffs, who were all Catholics, desiring 
them to use their influence that no favourer of heresy might be 

On the day of meeting there was a grand procession to 
Westminster Abbey, led by the Commons, the Peers and 
Prelates following, the Chancellor being last ; then came 
Philip and Mary, in robes of purple, the King on a Spanish 
genet, richly caparisoned, attended by the Lords of his house- 
hold, the Queen on a litter surrounded by her ladies of honour. 
A religious ceremony after the ancient fashion being performed, 
and all being duly ranged in the Parliament Chamber, the 
Chancellor from his place in front of the throne addressed the 
two Houses. " The Queen's first parliament," he said, "had 
re-established the ancient worship. the second had confirmed 
the Articles of her marriage. and their Majesties expected 
that the third, in preference to every other object, would 


accomplish the re-union of the realm with the universal 

The bills brought in for this purpose passed the Lords una- 
nimously, and were opposed only by two Members of the 
House of Commons. Cardinal Pole, having been appointed 
Archbishop of Canterbury and Legate a latere from the Pope, 
had a few days before arrived in England, and on his landing 
had been received with great distinction by the Chancellor. 
His attainder being reversed, he was now introduced into 
parliament, and the King and Queen being present, the 
Chancellor spoke as follows : 

" My Lords of the Upper House, and you my masters of the Nether 
House here present, the Eight Reverend Father in God, niy Lord Car- 
dinal Pole, Legate a latere t is come from the Apostolic See from Rome 
as ambassador to the King's and Queen's Majesty upon one of the 
weightiest causes that ever happened in this realm, and which per- 
taineth to the glory of God and your universal benefit. The which 
ambassade their Majesties' pleasure is to be signified unto you all by his 
own mouth, trusting that you receive and accept it in as benevolent and 
thankfulwise as their Highnesses have done, and that you will give at- 
tentive and inclinable ears unto his Grace, who is now ready to declare 
the same." g 

The Cardinal, after saying that " the cause of his repair 
hither had been most wisely and gravely declared by my Lord 
Chancellor," delivered a long oration on the sin of schism and 
the wickedness of the proceedings in England which had 
brought about the disruption from the true Church, and pro- 
claimed his readiness, on due submission, to restore them to 
her bosom. 

Both Houses agreed in an address, expressing their deepest 
contrition for what they and their fathers had done against 
the Pope, and praying that his supremacy might be re-esta- 
blished as the true successor of St. Peter and Head of the 
universal Church. 

On the feast of St. Andrew, the Queen having taken her 
seat on the throne, the King seated on her left hand, the Le- 
gate, at a greater distance, and a degree lower, on her right, 
the Chancellor read the address, and the Cardinal, after a 
speech of some duration, absolved " all those present and the 
whole nation, and the dominions thereof, from all heresy and 
schism, and all judgments, censures, and penalties for that 
cause incurred, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy 

* 1 Parl. Hist 618. 


Ghost." The Chancellor called out Amen! and this word re- 
sounded from every part of the hall. h 

The Legate making his public entry into the City, the Lord 
Chancellor preached at Paul's Cross, and lamenting in bitter 
terms his own misconduct under Henry Till., exhorted all 
who had fallen through his means to rise with him and seek 
the unity of the Catholic Church. 

Had Gardyner died that night, he would, upon the whole, 
have left a fair fame to posterity : he would have been the un- 
qualified boast of the Eoman Catholics ; and Protestants could 
not have refused to do honour to his firmness and courage, 
making due allowance for the times in which he lived, and 
comparing him with Cranmer, their own hero, who had been 
much more inconsistent, and almost as vindictive ; but his 
existence being unfortunately prolonged for another year, 
during which, under his direction, the fires blazed without 
intermission in Sniithfield, and the founders of the re- 
formed church in England suffered as martyrs, 
Roman Catholics are ashamed of him, and his 
name, coupled with that of Bonner, whom he employed 
as his tool, is still used to frighten the children of Pro- 

He deliberately formed the plan of entirely crushing the Be- 
formation in England, by using the necessary degree of force 
for that purpose. However much we may abhor the cruel 
and relentless disposition evinced by such a plan, we ought 
not, from the event, rashly to condemn it as foolish. The 
blood of martyrs is said to be the seed of the Church ; never- 
theless persecution, in a certain proportion to the numbers 
and spirit of those who are to be subdued, may prove ef- 

Thus the Lutheran heresy was completely suppressed in 
Spain and in Italy by the Inquisition. In England the higher 
ranks and the great bulk of the nation had so easily conformed 
to the religious faith or ecclesiastical caprice of the Sovereign 
for the time being, that a reasonable expectation might be en- 
tertained that there would be a general acquiescence in the 
renewed connection with Eome, and that strict inquiry intu 
the profession of heretical opinions, with some terrible ex- 
amples of severity when they were obstinately adhered to. 
might, in a short tune, produce uniformity of faith throughout 

fc This precedent is now probably frequently consulted by those who wish to bring about 
similar reconciliation. 



the realm. Cardinal Pole, though a much more sincere be- 
liever than Gardyner, took the opposite side, and wished that 
reason and persuasion only should be used to bring about the 
return to the Church of those who had erred. 

The matter being debated in the Council, and the conflict- 
ing opinions being submitted to Mary, after she had con- 
sulted with Philip, she returned to the Chancellor the follow- 
ing answer, which was a warrant to him, under very easy 
conditions, to proceed to any extremities: "Touching the 
punishment of heretics, we think it ought to be done without 
rashness, not leaving in the mean time to do justice to such as ly 
learning would seem to deceive the simple, and the rest so to be used 
that the people might well perceive them not to be condemned 
without just occasion ; by which they shall both understand 
the truth, and beware not to do the like. And especially 
within London I would wish none to be burnt " (how mild 
and merciful!) "without some of the Council present, and 
both there and every where good sermons at the same time." 

Gardyner having got all the old laws against Lollardy and 
the denial of transubstantiation revived, vigorously began his 
great enterprise. For the trial of heretics under these sta- 
tutes he constituted a Court, of which he, as Lord Chancellor, 
was made the presiding Judge. 

On the 22nd of January, 1555, he mounted his tribunal, as- 
sisted by thirteen Bishops and a crowd of Lords and Knights, 
and he ordered to be placed at the bar Hooper, the deprived 
Bishop of Gloucester, Roger, a prebendary of St. Paul's, 
Saunders, rector of Allhallows, in London, and Taylor, 
rector of Hadley, in Suffolk, all charged with denying the 
Papal supremacy now re-established by law. They tauntingly 
replied, that the Lord Chancellor, before whom they were 
tried, had himself taught them to reject the authority of the 
Bishop of Rome, in his unanswerable treatise " De vera Obe- 
dientia," which had been so much approved of by the Queen's 
royal father, that renowned sovereign, Henry VIII. This 
argumentum ad Jiominem did not prevail, and the Lord Chan- 
cellor said they ought to have been reconverted by his sub- 
sequent treatise entitled " Palinodia dicti Libri," which he 
now recommended to their perusal ; and a delay of twenty- 
four hours was given them for consideration. At the end of 
that time, as they stuck to the text of the Lord Chancel lor's 
earlier work, they were condemned to the flames. He, with 
professions of mercy, made out a conditional pardon for each 


of them, under the Great Seal, to be offered them on recanta- 
tion at the stake. Those protornartyrs of the Eeformed 
Church of England all displayed an equal constancy, and 
scorned to purchase the continuance of life by feigning an 
assent to doctrines which they did not believe. 

Gardyner did not personally preside at the subsequent 
trials ; but he felt no hesitation in persevering in the line of 
policy he had adopted, and (perhaps with a view to a favour- 
able contrast) he was represented in Court by Bonner, Bishop 
of London, the most brutal and bloody persecutor who 
ever appeared in this island ; but the Chancellor himself ac- 
tively directed almost all the arrests, examinations, and pu- 
nishments of the Protestants. Cranmer, Eidley, and Latimer 
now suffered under circumstances familiar to us all from early 
infancy ; and in the course of a few months, by Gardyner's 
orders, there perished at the stake, as heretics, in different 
parts of England, above seventy persons, some of them of 
the softer sex, and some of tender years. 

Xot satisfied with punishing those who taught, or openly 
doginatised contrary to the established creed, men's thoughts 
were scrutinised ; and, to do this more effectually, Gardyner 
issued a commission, bearing a close resemblance to the 
Spanish Inquisition, authorising twenty-one persons, or anv 
threeofthem, " to search after all heresies, the bringers in, 
the sellers, and the readers of all heretical books, to punish 
all persons that did not hear mass or come to their parish 
church to service, or that would not go in processions, or 
would not take the holy bread or holy water, and to force all 
to make oath of such things as ought to be discovered, 
and to put to the torture such obstinate persons as would not 
confess." ' 

While these atrocities were going forward, an occurrence 
took place, of which Gardyner took immediate advantage to 
further his designs. Mary supposing herself pregnant, he- 
pronounced the prospect of an heir to be the reward of Heaven 
for her piety ; and as she fancied that she felt the infant stir 
in her womb when the Pope's Legate was introduced to her, 
he compared it to what happened to the mother of John the 
Baptist at the salutation of the Virgin. The Chancellor, with 
nine others of the Cabinet Council, immediately addressed a 
letter to Bonner, as Bishop of London, ordering " Te Deum " 
and masses to be celebrated on the occasion ; he sent mes- 

i Burnet, voL ui. p. 243, 246. 

o 2 


sengers to foreign courts to announce the event ; and he 
settled the family of the young prince, as he confidently pre- 
dicted the child would be a male. Some have said that he 
was aware from the beginning that Mary's infirmities rendered 
her incapable of having children, and that he resorted to a po- 
litical artifice for the purpose of strengthening his power. He 
certainly kept up the delusion in the nation long after the phy- 
sicians had declared that her Majesty's increased size arose 
from a dropsy. It was probably a knowledge of her real con- 
dition which induced him very readily to oblige her, by 
bringing in and supporting a bill constituting Philip, in case 
of her death, unlimited Regent during the minority of her 
son. What might have been the effect of this system of 
persecution on the Reformation in England, had Gardyner 
long survived to carry it into vigorous execution, we cannot 
tell. His career was near its close. 

On the 21st of October parliament again met, and Mary, 
now deserted by her husband, rode to the parliament-house 
all alone in a horse-litter, to be seen of every one. The Lord 
Chancellor, by her direction, produced a Papal bull confirming 
the grants of Church property, and delivered a speech to both 
Houses, detailing the great exertions of the government for 
the good of the Church, and explaining the wants of the 
Crown and the Clergy. It was remarked that on this and the fol- 
lowing day, when he was again in his place, he displayed 
uncommon ability in unfolding and defending his measures. k 
Btit on his return from the House, on the second day, he was 
suddenly taken ill in his chamber, and, without being ever 
able to leave it, on the 12th of November he expired. Strange 
and groundless stories were propagated respecting the nature 
of his malady ; and in the next age it was said he had been 
struck by it, as a judgment from Heaven, on the day that 
Bishop Ridley and Bishop Latimer were burnt, when, waiting 
for the joyful news, though the old Duke of Norfolk was to 
dine with him, he would not go to dinner till the unexampled 
hour of four in the afternoon ; m but on an examination of dates, 

k "His dnobus diebtis ita mihi visus est ordinarily go to dinner at eleven before noon, 

nou modo seipsum iis rebus suptrasse quibns and to supper at five, or between five and 

caeteros superare solet, ingenio, eloquentia, six at afternoon. The merchants dine and 

prndentia, pietate, sed etiam ipsas sui cor- sup seldom before twelve at noon and six at 

poris vires." Bale. night. The husbandmen also dine at high 

111 At this time it was a mark of gentility noon as they call it, and sup ut seven or 

?>iul fashion to dine carl'/ instead of late, eight; but out of term in our universities the 

With us then bility, gentry, and students do scholars dine at ten." Hall, Deter. G. Brit. 


it will be found that these victims had been offered \ip before 
the opening of parliament, and before he had so much distin- 
guished himself by his eloquence." 

He felt deep penitence in his last moments. The passion 
of our Saviour being read to him, when they came to the 
denial of Peter he bid them stay there, for, saith he, Ht-gcu-i 
cum Petro, exiii cum Petro, sed itonclum f.evi cum Petro." This re- 
niorse arose not from the cruelties he had inflicted, but from 
the temporary renunciation of his allegiance to the Pope. 

To the hour of his death he was in possession of the Great 
Seal, and the entire confidence of his Sovereign. 

In those times religious controversy so completely absorbed 
the attention of mankind, that we read little of him as a 
Judge ; but, in the absence of all complaint, we may fairly 
infer that he acquitted himself with ability and impartiality. 
The profound knowledge of jurisprudence which he early 
acquired, he kept up and extended by continual study, and 
his practice in the Ecclesiastical Courts must have well ini- 
tiated him in judicial procedure. It had been intended that 
the equitable jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery over 
landed property should be, in a great measure, abolished by 
the Statute of Uses ; but by a decision of the common-law 
Judges, while Gardyner was Chancellor, it was held that a 
use could not be limited on a use, p so that the doctrine of 
uses was revived under the denomination of trusts, and a 
statute made on great deliberation, and introduced in the 
most solemn manner, in the result had little other eifect 
than to introduce a slight alteration in the formal words of a 
conveyance.* 1 

As a statesman, he is to be praised for discernment and 
vigour. He had even a regard for the liberties as well as 
independence of his country, and on several memorable oc- 

These hours were probably reckoned rather P Jane Tyrrel's case. Dyer, 152. See BL 

late, for Froissurt mentions that having him- Com. 336. 4 Reeves, Hist, of Law, 520. 

self called on the Duke of Lancaster at five 1 There is to be found in the Registrar's 

o'clock in the afternoon, he found that supper Book a very curious decree of Lord Chaii- 

was over. Down to this time, the Courts of cellor Gardyner, pronounced with a view to 

law meeting at seven in summer and eight enforce the celibacy of the clergy. He held 

in winter, never sat later than eleven in the that a lease granted by an incumbent, after 

forenoon ; though some Chancellors, like Sir he had, contrary to his vow, and contrary 

Thomas More, bad sittings again after dinner, to the ecclesiastical laws, married a wife, ' 

n Ridley, Latimer, and Collier suffered at was void, and he granted an injunction 

Oxford on the 16th of October, and parlia- against the lessee continuing in possession. 

ment did not meet till the 21st. Hinkenfitld v. Baill'j, Reg. Lib. 16 June, 5 

27 Hen. 8, c. 10. P. i 31.. p. 1. 


casions gave constitutional advice to the Sovereigns whom 
he served.' But whatever good inclinations he had, they 
were all under the control of ambition, and never obstructed 
his rise. In the various turns of his fortune he displayed a 
happy lubricity of conscience, which surmounted or evaded 
every obstacle, convincing him that his duty coincided with 
his interest. Though his strong sense and persuasive man- 
ners gave him an appearance of sincerity, he had an insidious 
cast of his eye, which indicated that he was always lying in 
wait ; and he acquired at last such a character for craft and 
dissimulation, that the saying went, " My Lord of Winchester 
is like Hebrew, to be read backwards" 

He lived in great style at Winchester House in South wark, 
where he had a number of young gentlemen of family as his 
pages, whose education he superintended. His establishment 
was the last of this sort in England, for Cardinal Pole did not 
live long enough to form a great household at Lambeth, and 
after the Keformation the Bishops' palaces were filled with 
their wives and children. He daily came up the river Thames 
in his splendid state barge to \\ hitehall and Westminster. 
An immense library which he had collected was destroyed by 
the mob during Wyat's rebellion, " so that a man might have 
gone up to his knees in the leaves of books cut out and thrown 
under foot." ' He was interred with much pomp in the cathe- 
dral at Winchester. 

Although, being an ecclesiastical Chancellor, we have no- 

' " The Lord Cromwell," says Gardyner in qnoth I, 'and it is agreeable with the naticre 

one of his letters, " had once put in the King's of .your people. If you, begin a new manner 

head to take upon him tin have his will and of policy, how it may frame no man can till.' 

pleasure regarded for a law ; and thereupon The King turned his back, and left the mat- 

l was called for at Hampton Ctrart. And as ter." Fox, ii. 65. 

he was very stout, ' Come on, my Lord of In Mary's time, the Spanish Ambassador 
Winchester,' quoth he, ' answer the King here ; submitted a plan to her by which she should 
!>ut fpeak plainly and directly, and shrink be rendered independent of parliament- 
not, man. Is not that; quoth he, ' that Sending for Gardyner she made him peruse 
1'leaseth the King a law? Have you, not that it, and adjured him, as he should answer 'it 
in the civil law, QUOD PBINCIPI I-LACUIT, the judgment-seat of God, to speak his rr;il 
fee.?' I stood still, and wondered in my sentiments respecting it. " Madam," replied 
mind to what conclusion this would tend, the Chancellor, " it is a pity that so virtuous 
The King saw me musing, and with gentle a lady should be surrounded by snch syco- 
earnestness said, ' Answer him whether it lie phants. The book is nought; it is filled with 
to or no.' I would not answer the Lord things too horrible to be thought of." She 
Cromwell, but delivered my speech to the behaved better than her father, as above re- 
King, and told him that ' / had read nf Kings lated, for she thanked him, and threw the 
that had their will always received for law, paper into the fire.-Burnet, ii. 278. 
but that the form of his reign to make thz ' Stoic's Annals. This reminds us of the 
law his will was more sure and quiet ; awl destruction of Lord Mansfield's library in 
by Oiisform of government ye be established,' the riots of 1780. 


thing to say of his descendants, we must not forget the pro- 
geny of his brain. He was a voluminous and popular author, 
but none of his writings have preserved their celebrity ; not 
even his " Defence of Holy Water," which had a prodigious 
run for some years. He entered keenly into the dispute 
which raged in Cambridge in his time respecting the right 
pronunciation of Greek ; and when he was chosen Chancellor 
of that University, notwithstanding his conservative notions, 
he patronised the new studies which were there introduced in 
rivalry to Aristotle and Aquinas. Had he lived in happier 
times, he might have left behind him a reputation for liberality 
of sentiment and humanity of conduct.' 

It seems unaccountable that there has teresting reign was not only Lord Chancellor 

rever hitherto been a separate life of Gar- but Prime Minister, with power almost 

dyner, although he made such a distinguished great as tc*t ol' Wolaey. 
^:r? in three reigns, and in one meet u;- 




THE sudden death of Gardyner was a heavy blow to Queen 
Mary, in the absence of Philip ; and she was ex- 

Nov. 1555. 1-1 i j ,1 t 

ceedingly perplexed in the choice 01 a successor. 
She might easily have selected an eminent lawyer from 
Westminster Hall, but she at once resolved that " the Keeper 
of her Conscience " must be an ecclesiastic. According to 
the common course of promotion, the Great Seal ought to 
have been offered to her cousin, Cardinal Pole, appointed 
Archbishop of Canterbury on the deprivation of Cranmer, and 
after the example of Wolsey, his legatine functions could 
have been no obstacle to this arrangement. Though Pole 
was not much versed in juridical practice, he was intimately 
acquainted with the civil as well as canon law ; and, with 
good advice, he might have presided very reputably as an 
equity judge. Mary had a great personal regard for him, and 
the highest respect for his learning and piety, but she placed 
no reliance on his civil wisdom, and was greatly shocked by 
his leaning in favour of toleration. In some respects Bishop 
Bonner would have been much more agreeable to her ; but, 
notwithstanding his claims as a furious zealot and remorseless 
persecutor, he was so brutally ignorant, his manners were so 
offensive, and he was so generally abhorred, that she was 
afraid to add to the odium she was sensible her government 
had already incurred, by placing such a man at the head of 
the administration of justice. The episcopal bench furnished 
no other individual of whom she could entirely approve. But 
it was now the middle of Michaelmas term ; and some arrange- 
ment must be made for transacting the business of the Court 
of Chancery. In this perplexity, to obtain time for further 
deliberation, she issued a commission to Sir Kicholas Hare, 
the Master of the Rolls, and others, to hear causes and to 
issue writs under the Great Seal, on account of the death of 
Lord Chancellor Gardyner, till a successor to him should be 
appointed. u 

u Rot. Par. 2 & 3 Ph. & M. 


She, at length, fixed upon the least exceptionable person 
presented to her choice ; and 

" On Friday, the 1st of January, in the second and third year of the 
reign of Philip and Mary, by the Grace of God, of England, France, 
Naples, Jerusalem, and Ireland, King and Queen, Defenders of the 
Faith," 'not Heads of the Church,] " Prince and Princess of Spain and 
Sicily, Archduke and Archduchess of Austria, Duke and Duchess of 
Milan, Burgundy, and Brabant, Count and Countess of Hapsburg, 
Flanders, and the Tirol, between the hours of four and six in the after- 
noon, the Great Seal of the said King and Queen, being in the Queen's 
custody, inclosed in a bag of leather, covered with a bag of red velvet, at 
Greenwich, in her inner private chamber there, was delivered by her 
to the most Reverend Father in God, Nicholas, Archbishop of York, 
whom she then and there constituted her Chancellor of England." * 

This choice was made on the ground that the object of it 
was a man of spotless moral character, of undoubted ortho- 
doxy, of respectable learning and ability, and of a quiet, pas- 
sive disposition ; so that if he would not originate, he would 
not obstruct the necessary measures for consummating the 
reconciliation with Eome, and extinguishing the Lutheran 
heresy in England. 

NICHOLAS HEATH was the son of a citizen of London, and 
born there in the early part of the reign of Henry VII. He 
was educated at St. Anthony's school, in Threadneedle Street, 
famous at that time for its discipline, and for the great men 
it turned out ; among whom were two Lord Chancellors. r He 
was entered a student at Christ College, Cambridge ; and 
after taking his degree with distinguished credit, he was 
elected a fellow of Clare Hall. During one of AVolsey's visits 

__* R. CLJ| & 3 Ph. & M. " Et superinde education. Stow, after celebrating the scho- 

prcus RevcBss. Pater N. Ebor. Arcbs sigillum lastic disputations he had witnessed in the 

prm de manibus ipsius dne Regne tune gra- churchyard of St. Bartholomew, " where 

tair accipiens in nobilium virorum W. Mar- U P D a bank boated about under a tree some 

_,. w . . - .. one scholar hath stepped up, and there hath 
chionis Wmton. &c. prcia, curam et cusuxluun 

- apposed and answered till he were by some 

ejusdem Magm S.gUU Anghe de offic Can- b^teVscholar overcome and put down,-and 
cellar AngL sup se assumens sigillum illud t h en the overcomer taking the place did the 
penes se retinuit et retinet in prsi." The like as the first," says, " I remember there 
entries now are silent as to swearing in the repaired to these exercises amongst others 
Chancellor, and this entry is a rare instance the masters and scholars of the free schools 
of omitting to state that the new Chancellor of St. Paul s in London, of St. Peter's at West- 
took the Seal from the bag and sealed with it minster, of St. Thomas Aeon's hospital, and 
some writ or patent in the presence of the of St. Anthonys hospital, whereof the last 
Sovereign. named commonly presented the best scholars, 
T Here, as we have before related, Sir and had the prize in those days." Stow's 
Thomas More received the rudiments of his London, p. 75. 


to this University, Heath was presented to him as a great 
proficient in classical and theological learning. The Cardi- 
nal, who was always ready to patronise merit, took a fancy 
to him, made him one of his own chaplains, and afterwards 
chaplain to the King. Heath subsequently succeeded to be 
almoner to Henry ; and although he never actively enlisted 
himself in any of the factions which divided the Court, he 
was successively promoted by that Sovereign to the sees of 
Kochester and Worcester. Like every other Bishop in Eng- 
land, he was compelled to acknowledge the King's ecclesias- 
tical superiority ; but he was supposed to have a secret under- 
standing with Home, and he steadily concurred with Lord 
Chancellor Wriothesley, the Duke of Norfolk, and Bishop 
Gardyner, in resisting any further innovation. 

During the Protectorate of the Duke of Somerset he voted 
in the House of Lords against all the bills for bringing about 
a change of religion ; but, conducting his opposition with mo- 
deration, occasion could not be found for taking any violent 
proceedings against him till the act was passed for a new 
" ordinal," or form of ordination of the clergy, which was 
to be framed by twelve Commissioners, to be appointed by 
the Crown. Although he had expressed his dissent to the 
measure, he was insidiously named one of the Commissioners, 
along with eleven stanch reformers. They proposed a form, 
which they contended preserved whatever according to Scrip- 
ture was necessary for the ordination of Bishops, Priests, and 
Deacons. He insisted that it made no material distinction 
between these orders ; that it had carefully omitted what was 
requisite to impart the sacerdotal character ; and that, if it 
were adopted, there would be a breach in the apostolical suc- 
cession in the Church. The Council nevertheless peremp- 
torily required him to subscribe it ; and, on his refusal, com 
mitted him to prison for a contempt. 1 

Not satisfied with this, they soon after resolved to deprive 
him of his bishopric if he would not conform : and 

A.D. 1550. , , j i . .., 

they cunningly examined him with respect to the 
proper construction of altars, and the mode of placing them 
in churches, a subject on which he was known to be particu- 
larly sensitive. But he was resolute, telling them that " of 
other mind he thought never to be, and that consent he would 
not, if he were demanded to take down altars and set up 
tables." Being threatened with deprivation if he did not 

1 Burnet, ii. 143. 


submit within two days, lie replied, " that he could not find 
in his conscience to do it, and should be well content to abide 
such end, either by deprivance or otherwise, as pleased the 
King's Majesty." He was sent back to prison ; a commission 
of delegates pronounced sentence of deprivation against him, 
and he was kept in close custody till the commencement of 
the next reign. 

Upon the accession of Mary he was liberated and restored 
to his benefice, along with the other deprived Roman July e, 
Catholic Bishops ; and as he was justly considered, 1553 - 
by reason of his constancy and his private virtues, a great 
ornament to the ancient faith, he was soon after promoted to the 
archbishopric of York. It was supposed that he secretly coin- 
cided in opinion with Cardinal Pole in disapproving the vio- 
lent measures of persecution to which Gardyner now resorted ; 
but he had not the boldness openly to oppose them. A just 
estimate had been formed of his character when he was se- 
lected as Gardyner's successor ; for however much he might 
wish that reason and persuasion alone might be relied upon 
for making converts to the true Church, after his appoint- 
ment the fires of Smithfield continued to blaze as before. * 

He took his seat in the Court of Chancery on the first day 
of Hilary term, 1556; and was found as a Judge to display 
patience and good sense, and to act with impartiality and in- 
tegrity ; but, never having had any training whatever in 
jurisprudence, he got through his judicial business in a most 
unsatisfactory manner ; and the clamour of the bar, and the 
suitors, and the public, which was thus raised, prevented the 
appointment of any other ecclesiastic to hold the Great Seal 
till Bishop Williams, the very last of his order who ever 
sat in the marble chair, was appointed Lord Keeper by 
James I. 

The parliament which was sitting at the death of Gardyner 
was dissolved, in presence of the Queen, by Ex-Chan- ^^ 9 
cellor the Marquess of Winchester, then Lord Trea- 1555. ' 
surer ; and another parliament was not called till the Jan. 20, 
beginning of the year 1558. 

We have a statistical table, on the an- In 1558 (Heath, Chancellor) ... 40 
thority of Lord Burghley, of burnings by 
Mary and her cabinet, rather favourable to 

the memory of Gardyner:- However, it was Chancellor GardyneTwho 

In 1555 (Gardyner, Chancellor) - - 71 set the wheel of persecution in motion, and it 

1556 (Heath, Chancellor) - - - 89 continued to revolve when his hand had been 

1557 (ditto ditto ) ... 33 withdrawn from it. 


This was opened by a speech from Lord Chancellor 
Heath ; b but we have no account of his topics, except that he 
pressed for an aid to her Majesty. \Ve may conjecture that 
he touched upon the loss of Calais, which had caused such 
universal consternation, and that he held out a hope, if suf- 
ficiently liberal supplies were voted, of wiping off this national 

He had immediately after to decide a question of parlia- 
mentary privilege. Thomas Eyms, burgess for Thirsk, com- 
plained to the House of Commons that, while in attendance 
as a member, a subpoena had been delivered to him to appear 
in Chancery, and that if engaged in a Chancery suit he could 
not discharge his duty as a representative of the people. The 
House, in great indignation, immediately ordered Sir Cle- 
ment Higham and the Kecorder of London to go to the Lord 
Chancellor, and require that the process should be revoked, 1 " 
and the writ was quashed. d 

Acts, proposed by the Lord Chancellor, having been 
passed to take away clergy from accessories in petty 
treason and murder, to allow a tales de circumstantibus in 
the case of the Queen, and to punish such as should 
forcibly carry off maidens under sixteen," he, by the 
Queen's command, prorogued the parliament to the 5th of 

When this day arrived Mary was approaching her end, in 
a state of the greatest mental dejection from the irremediable 
loss of Calais, the neglect of her husband, the discontent of 
her subjects, the progress of the reformed religion in spite of 
all her cruelties, her despair of children, and the prospect of a 
Protestant succession. Being unable to attend in person, a 
commission passed the Great Seal, authorising the Chancellor 
and others to hold the parliament in her name ; and he de- 
livered a speech pointing out the necessity for some measure 
to restrain the evils of licentious printing, whereby sedition 
was now spread abroad, and showing that, from the destitute 
state of the exchequer, the Queen's forces could not be kept on 
foot, and the safety of the realm was endangered. He accord- 
ingly introduced a bill, enacting that "no man shall print 
any book or ballad unless ho be authorised thereunto by the 
King and Queen's Majesties' licence iinder the Great Seal of Eng- 
land." The art of printing had not been known in this country 

b 1 ParL Hist. 629. '' I Mil. 630. d Hats. Pnec. 1 Parl. Hist. 630. 

c 4 k 5 I'll. & M. c. 5. 7, 8. 


much more than half a century, and was already found a most 
formidable instrument for guiding public opinion, and assail- 
ing or supporting the Government. During the recess a pro- 
clamation had been issued, stating that books filled with heresy, 
sedition, and treason were daily brought from beyond seas, 
and were covertly reprinted within the realm, and ordering 
that " whosoever should be found to have any of the said 
wicked and seditious books should be reputed a rebel, and 
executed according to martial law.'' ' But this was such a 
stretch of authority as, even in those days, caused great com- 
plaint, and probably the Judges, dependent as they were, 
would have resisted it. The Chancellor's bill, having passed 
through its previous stages, was appointed to be read the third 
time on the 1 6th of November, but when that day arrived 
the Queen was at the point of death, and all public business 
was suspended. 

Meanwhile some very curious proceedings were going on in 
the Lower House respecting the supply. The Commons, 
finding that the Queen had impoverished the exchequer by 
restoring property to the Church, and by new religious en- 
dowments, would not open their purse-strings. On the 7th 
of November Mary, ill as she was, sent for the Speaker, and 
ordered him " to show to the Commons the ill condition the 
nation was in ; for, though a negotiation was going on for a 
peace with France, prudence required that the nation should 
be put into a state of defence, in case it should miscarry." Still 
the Commons were so dissatisfied, that, after a week's delibe- 
ration, they could come to no resolution. 

As a last effort, on the 14th of November. Lord Chancellor 
Heath, accompanied by the Duke of Norfolk, the Lord Trea- 
surer, and several other Peers and Bishops, went down to the 
Commons, walked into the House, and " seated themselves in 
that place where the Privy Councillors used to sit." which 
we nou- call "the Treasury Bench." The Speaker left his 
chair, and he, with the Privy Councillors in the House, came 
and sat on low benches before them. The Lord Chancellor 
then made them a speech, proving the necessity for granting a 
subsidy to defend the nation both from the French and the 
Scots. Having concluded, he with the other Lords imme- 
diately withdrew to their own chamber. 5 

This proceeding does not seem to have been considered any 
breach of privilege, but it had not the desired effect. The 

f Strype, iii. 459. * I Part. Hist. 631. 


two following days the Commons continued the debate. On 
the afternoon of the third day, while they were still in delibe- 
ration, they received a summons requiring the Speaker and 
their whole House to come to the bar of the Upper House, when 
they should hear certain matters that the Lords had to com- 
municate to them. 

Upon their arrival the Lord Chancellor Heath, in a solemn 
tone, announced " that God had taken to his mercy their late 
Sovereign the Lady Mary, and had given them another in the 
person of her sister, the Lady Elizabeth, whom he prayed 
(rod to preserve and bless." He then recommended that they 
should all assemble in Westminster Hall, where the Lords 
would come and cause her to be forthwith proclaimed Queen 
of England. 

Elizabeth was accordingly proclaimed, first in Palace Yard 
before the members of the two Houses, and again at Temple 
Bar, in the presence of the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Com- 
panies of the city, amidst the deafening acclamations of the 

The new Sovereign was then at Hatfield in Hertfordshire, 
where she had been living for some time in great seclusion. 
Early next morning, the Lord Chancellor and most of the 
Council waited upon her there, in a body, to give in their 
allegiance. Heath, as first in dignity, addressed her, con- 
gratulating her upon her accession to the throne, and the 
unanimity and joy with which her title was acknowledged by 
all classes of her subject. 

Cecil had been beforehand with them, and had already 
gained her entire confidence, notwithstanding the part he had 
taken in Northumberland's treason on the death of Edward 
VI., by which she would have been set aside, and notwith- 
standing his wary conformity during the whole of Mary's 
reign. He had prepared an answer for her which she now 
delivered, to the effect that " she was struck with amaze- 
ment when she considered herself and the dignity to which 
she was called ; that her shoulders were too weak to support 
the burden, but it was her duty to submit to the will of God, 
and to seek the aid of wise and faithful advisers ; that for this 
purpose she would, in a few days, appoint a new Council ; 
(hat it was her intention to retain several of those who had 
been inured to business under her father, brother, and sister ; 
;md if the others were not employed, she would have them to 
believe that it was not through distrust of their ability or 


will to serve her, but through a wish to avoid that indecision 
and delay which so often arise from the jarring opinions of a 
multitude of advisers." 

Heath then on his knee tendered her the Great Seal, 
rather expecting that she would desire him to take it back 
and to become her Lord Chancellor. At this moment it was 
quite uncertain what part she was to take in religion ; and 
although there was a suspicion that she had an inclination in 
favour of the reformed doctrine, her conformity to the esta- 
blished ritual, and her famous answer when questioned about 
her belief in the real presence, b led Heath and the Catholic 
party to hope that she would now declare in their favour. To 
his surprise and chagrin, however, having received the Great 
Seal into her hand, she immediately delivered it to Sir Ambrose 
Cave to carry it to her private chamber, there to remain till 
she should otherwise direct.' 

Nevertheless she spoke very courteously to the Ex-Chan- 
cellor, and retained him as member of her Privy Council, 
along with twelve others who had served her sister, adding 
eight new members. In truth, her policy, though not yet 
avowed, was determined upon, and she had resolved that, 
Cecil being her Minister, she should without violence restore 
the Reformation introduced under her brother, and put herself 
at the head of the Protestant party in Europe. It is lucky 
for us that she considered this to be for her interest, and that 
she was already afraid of all true Roman Catholics question- 
ing her legitimacy, and preferring the title of her cousin Mary, 
Queen of Scots, so that she felt the necessity for having the 
support of the Protestant States against this claim. She 
herself, as well as Cecil and her principal advisers, were far 
from being bigoted on the Protestant side, and if they had 
taken a different view of the question of expediency, England 

h "Christ was the Word that spake it, Christo Pris Xichi Archp Ebor adtunc Can- 


That I believe and take it." prfuim Revssim. Prem deliberat, erat ar 

i "Memorandum Qd die Veneria XVTIL eadem ll " a 5^* *B 8WB I3& 

die Novembr anno primo DEe Elizabeth Re- de manibns P"*" Rvssimi Pris acdpies Am- 

gine, eadem D5a Eegina existens apad Hat. ^ eA <*** militi jleliberabat ac prftus Am- 

field Regia in Com. Hert. in Domo ejusdem br3 C"^ Maes - P r mandatnm ipsius Due 

Dne Regine ibidem, inter horas decimam et Engine Magnnmjjigillum prftum ia priva- 

nndecimam ante meridiem ejusdem diei, in tarn Caaieram prfte Regne secum ferebat 

camera presencie, tune ibidem, presentibns ibidem pr prftam Doom Reginam custodiend. 

Kdwardo Comte Derb, &c. ac aliis Magm Si- quou5q. endem Regina alitr duxrit deliber- 

gillni Angle in costod Reverendissimi in and." Rot. Cla. 1 Eliz. 


might have remained to this day under the spiritual dominion 
of the Pope. 

The remainder of the career of Ex-Chancel 1 ;>r Heath, though 
not marked by any very striking events, was most honourable 
to his character, and ought to make his me mory revered by 
all denominations of Christians. Instead of following the 
example of the "willow-like" Marquess of Winchester, and 
adopting the new fashion in religion, he steadily though 
mildly adhered to that system in which he had been educated, 
and which he conscientiously believed to be d ivine ; sacrificing 
not only his high civil office, but his ecclesiastical dignity of 
Archbishop, and contentedly retiring to poverty and obscurity. 

His first open difference with the Queen was upon the occa- 
sion of her coronation. Although, for a short time after her 
accession, she observed a studied ambiguity, and kept the 
hopes of the Catholics alive by assisting at mass, receiving the 
communion in one kind, burying her sister with the solemni- 
ties of the Romish ritual, and ordering a solemn requiem for 
the soul of the Emperor Charles V. ; her determination to 
change the national religion was soon made manifest by her 
appointment of Protestants to places of power and profit, by 
her order forbidding the elevation of the host in her private 
chapel, and by a proclamation allowing the observance of the 
established worship " until consultation might be had in par- 
liament by the Queen and the three estates." The primacy 
not yet being filled up since the death of Cardinal Pole, who 
survived his cousin. Queen Mary, only a few hours, Heath, 
Archbishop of York, was the highest functionary in the 
Church, and he called a meeting of all the Prelates, to consider 
what was now fit to be done. A motion was made, and unani- 
mously earned, that till satisfied of her adherence to the 
Church, none of them would put the crown on her head, or 
attend her coronation. This was considered a masterly move ; 
for, though a change had taken place in the opinions of the 
people from the times when a King's reign dated only from his 
coronation, and he was supposed to have no right to allegiance 
till he had been anointed, coronation was still considered an 
essential rite, and there had been no instance of an uncrowned 
Sovereign meeting parliament and making laws. But the 
Queen was relieved from this great embarrassment by the 
defection of one prelate, Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle, who 
agreed to crown her on condition that she should take the 
accustomed oath to preserve the liberties of the Church, re- 


ceive the sacrament under one kind, and conform, during 
the ceremony, to all the observances of the Catholic Pon- 

The Queen was accordingly crowned ; parliament was 
opened by her, and a bill was introduced to declare 
her "Head of the Church." On the second reading 
of this bill, in the House of Lords, Heath, rising from the 
Archbishops' bench, delivered a very long oration, of which it 
may be worth while to give an abstract, as a specimen of the 
style of debating which then prevailed. He thus began : 
My Lords all, with humble submission of my whole talk 
unto your honours, I purpose to epeak to the body of this act. 
touching the supremacy." Then dividing and subdividing his 
discourse into heads, he first handled the objection, that this 
measure would be a relinquishing of the see of Eome. He 
spoke rather freely of Paul IV., who had recently denied the 
Queen's title, and had shown himself " a very austere, stern 
father unto us ever since his first entrance into Peter's chair ; " 
but it was not a personal question with him, but by forsaking 
Eome they should fly from four things : 1st, All General 
Councils : 2ndly, All Canonical Laws of the Church of Christ : 
Srdly, The Judgment of all Christian Princes : 4thly, and 
lastly, "we must forsake and fly from the unity of Christ's 
Church ; and by leaping out of Peter's ship, hazard ourselves 
to be overwhelmed and drowned in the waters of schism, sects, 
and divisions." Each of these heads he discusses, with many 
quotations and illustrations from the Old and New Testament, 
and the Fathers ; and concludes with the observation, that as 
we had received our doctrine, faith, and sacraments, entirely 
from the Church of Eome, in forsaking that church as a 
malignant church, the inhabitants of this realm shall be forced 
to seek for another gospel of Christ, other doctrine, faith and 
sacraments, than we hitherto have received. He next con- 
siders the meaning of the words " supreme Head of the Church 
of England : " if they meant temporal power, that her High- 
ness had without statute ; and if spiritual power, neither could 
Parliament confer it, nor was her Highness capable of receiv- 
ing it. How could they say to her, " Tibi dabimus claves 
regni coelorum ? " or " Pasce, pasce, pasce ? " He then touches 
a very delicate topic that however it might be with a King, 
at all events a Queen, by reason of her sex, was incapable of 
being the Head of the Church. " That her Highness, being a 
woman by birth and nature, is not qualified, by God's word, 

VOL. II. p 


to feed the flock of Christ, appeareth most plainly, by St. 
Paul's saying, ' Taceant mulieres in ecclesiis ; non enim permittatur 
eis loqui sed subditas esse.' Again, says the same great apostle, 
' Turpe est mulieri loqui in ecclesiis' ' Docere autem mulieri non 
permitto neque dominari in virum sed in silentio esse' To preach or 
minister the holy sacraments, a woman may not ; neither may 
she be supreme Head of the Church of Christ. Christ, ascend- 
ing into heaven, gave the whole spiritual government of his 
Church to men. ' Ipse dedit ecclesice suae quosdam apostolos, alios 
evangelistas, alios pastores et doctores in opus ministerii in cediftcationem 
corpora ChristC But a woman in the degrees of Christ's 
church is not called to be an apostle nor evangelist, nor to be 
a shepherd, neither a doctor or preacher." He thus concludes : 
" So much I have here said, Right Honourable, and my very 
good Lords, against this act of supremacy, for the discharge of 
my conscience, and for the love, dread, and fear that I chiefly 
owe unto God and my Sovereign Lady the Queen's Highness, 
and unto your Lordships all ; when otherwise, and without 
mature consideration of these premises, your Honours shall 
never be able to show your faces before your enemies in this 
matter ; being so rash an example and spectacle in Christ's 
church as in this realm only to be found, and in none other. 
Thus humbly beseeching your good Honours to take in good 
part this rude and plain speech that I have used, of much good 
zeal and will, I shall now leave to trouble your Honours any 
longer." k 

After the second reading of the Bill, the expedient was re- 
sorted to of a conference between five Eoman Catholic Bishops 
and three Doctors to argue against it, and eight reformed 
divines on the other side, Heath as Ex-Chancellor, and Sir 
Nicholas Bacon, the new Lord Keeper, being appointed mode- 
rators. This conference ended in the commitment of two of 
the Bishops to the Tower, and binding over the other six 
Catholic disputants to appear before the Council. The Supre- 
macy Bill, and another in favour of the new book of Common 
Prayer, passed the Lords by a small majority, but were sup- 
ported almost unanimously in the House of Commons, to 
which, by Cecil's management, very few Catholics were le- 

* Parl. Hist. 660. Ibid. 643. This speech into every sentence by most speakers in 

shows, among other curious particulars, that the House of Lords, were then nearly nn- 

the expletives " My Lords " and " Your Lord- known, 
ships," now so copiously introduced almost 


Heath was now called upon to conform to the law, and him- 
self to take the oath of supreinacv. He pleaded con- _ 

,.,,.. ," . July, 1558 

science and the divine commandment as superior to 
all human law. He was therefore deprived of his arch- 
bishopric, and the difficulty being surmounted of consecrating 
new Bishops, a successor was appointed to him. He retired 
to a small property of his own at Cobham, in Surrey, where he 
devoted the rest of his days to study and devotion. He was 
here compared to Abiathar, sent home by Solomon to his own 
field, and he was said to have found himself happier than he 
had ever been during his highest elevation. Queen Elizabeth 
herself, remembering how promptly he had recognised her 
title when he was Lord Chancellor, and believing that he 
afterwards acted from conscientious motives, was in the 
frequent habit of visiting him in his retreat, and, with a 
certain hankering after the old religion, she probably, in 
her heart, honoured him more than she did Archbishop 
Parker, whom she found livingly splendidly at Lambeth, 
with a lady whom she would neither call his "mistress" nor 
his " wife." 

Heath survived till the year 1 566, when he died deeply la- 
mented by his friends, and with the character of a good, if not 
of a great man. m 

Before proceeding with the Lord Keepers and Lord Chan- 
cellors of Elizabeth, we ought to take a glance at the jnridical 
history of the preceding reign. It was begun with an act of 
parliament, which we should have thought unnecessary, to 
declare that a Queen Eegnant has all the lawful prerogatives 
of the Crown, and is bound by the laws of former Kings." 
Change of religion afterwards completely occupied the atten- 
tion of the people, this change being still effected by acts of 
the legislature. 

The law of treason was now brought back to the constitu- 
tional basis on which it had been placed by the celebrated 
statute of Edward IH., and where religion was not concerned 

m A most beautiful panegyric is pro- and generous simplicity, irfto etteemed any 

nounced upon him by Hayward, an original thing privately wilawf all iehich iras not pub- 

historian, whose " Annals of Queen Eliza- lickdye beneficiall and good. But as it is 

beth " have been lately published by the noe new thing for merchants to breake, for 

Camden Society. Speaking of the changes sayiers to be drowned, for soldiers to be 

open the accession of Elizabeth, he says, slayn, so is it not for men in authority ta 

* Among thes Doctor Heath. Archbishopp of fall." Hayward's Annals of Elizabeth, p. 

Torke, was removed from being Lord Chan- 13. 
celloor of England, a man of most eminent n 1 Mary, sess. 3, c. 1. 

p 2 


the Queen and her ministers showed considerable respect for 
the rights of the people. 

Much obloquy was brought upon the two Chancellors, 
Gardyner and Heath, for the furious religious persecution 
which they prompted or sanctioned ; but the former gained 
popularity by his resistance to the Queen's matrimonial al- 
liance with Philip of Spain, and the latter was respected for 
the general moderation of his character and his personal dis- 
interestedness. They issued writs, under the Great Seal, for 
the election of representatives to the House of Commons to 
fourteen places, of very small population, which had not 
before sent members to parliament, imitating the conduct 
of Edward's Chancellors, who, to strengthen the Eeformation, 
had enfranchised no fewer than twenty -two similar boroughs. 
None of their judicial decisions have been handed down to us. 

During this reign the lawyers devoted by all the four Inns of Court, " that none ex- 
much of their attention to the regulation of cept knights and benchers should wear in their 
their own dress and personal appearance, doublets or hose any light colours, save scar- 
To check the grievance of " long beards," an let and crimson, nor wear any upper velvet 
order was issued by the Inner Temple " that cap, or any scarf or wings in their gowns, 
no fellow of that house should wear his white jerkins, buskins, or velvet shoes, 
beard above three weeks' growth on pain of double cuffs in their shirts, feathers or rib- 
forfeiting 20s." The Middle Temple enacted bons in their caps, and that none should wear 
" that none of that society should wear great their study gowns in the city any farther 
breeches in their hose made after the Dutch, than Fleet Bridge or Holborn Bridge ; nor, 
Spanish, or Almain fashion, or lawn upon while in Commons, wear Spanish clcaks, 
their caps, or cut doublets, under a penalty sword and buckler, or rapier, or gowns and 
of 3s. id., and expulsion for the second of- hats, or gowns girded with a dagger on the 
fence." In 3 & 4 P. & M. it was ordained back." * 

1 DUR. Or. Jnr. 148 




WE now come to the life of a man who held the Great Seal 
ahove twenty years, but whose selected motto being 
" Mediocria Jirma" was of -very moderate ambition, 
aiming only at the due discharge of his judicial duties, and 
desirous to avoid mixing himself up with any concerns which 
were not connected with his office. Till we reach the Earl of 
Clarendon, we shall not again find the holder of the Great 
Seal Prime Minister, and in the interval it will not be 
necessary for us to enter minutely into historical events, as 
these were guided by political chiefs under whom the indi- 
viduals whose lives we have to narrate acted only a subordinate 

The business of the Court of Chancery had now so much in- 
creased, that to dispose of it satisfactorily required a Judge 
regularly trained to the profession of the law, and willing to 
devote to it all his energy and industry. The Statute of Wills, 
the Statute of Uses, the new modes of conveyancing introduced 
for avoiding transmutation of possession, the questions which 
arose respecting the property of the dissolved monasteries, and 
the vast increase of commerce and wealth in the nation, 
brought such a number of important suits into the Court of 
Chancery, that the holder of the Great Seal could no longer 
satisfy the public by occasionally diverting a few hours from 
his political occupations to dispose of bills and petitions, 
and not only was his daily attendance demanded in West- 
minster Hall during term time, but it was necessary that he 
should sit. for a portion of each vacation, either at his own 
house, or in some convenient place appointed by him for 
clearing off his arrears. 

Elizabeth having received the Clams Regni from Lord Chan- 
cellor Heath on the day after her accession, she kept it in her 
own possession rather more than a month before she deter- 
mined how she should dispose of it. At last, on the 22nd oi 
December, 1558, "between the hours often and eleven in thy 


forenoon, at the Queen's Royal Palace of Somerset House, in 
the Strand, the Queen, taking the Great Seal from its white 
leather bag and red velvet purse before the Lord Treasurer 
and many others, delivered it to Sir NICHOLAS BACON, with the 
title of Lord Keeper, and all the powers belonging to a Lord 
Chancellor ; and he, gratefully receiving it from her Majesty, 
having sealed with it a summons to the Convocation, re- 
turned it into its leathern bag and velvet purse and carried 
it off with him, to be held during the good pleasure of her 
Majesty." 1 " 

This new functionary had not passed through any dangers, 
or difficulties, or interesting vicissitudes before his advance- 
ment ; without being once in prison or in exile, or engaged 
in foreign embassies, much less having, like some of his pre- 
decessors, led armies into the field, he had risen in the 
common-place track of the legal profession as dully as a pros- 
perous lawyer of the eighteenth or nineteenth century, who 
going through Eton or Westminster, Oxford or Cambridge, 
and a special pleader's or an equity draughtsman's office, is 
called to the bar, pleases the attorneys, gets a silk gown, and 
is brought into parliament by a great nobleman to whom he is 
auditor, there to remain quietly till for some party convenience 
he is farther promoted. 

Nicholas Bacon was of a respectable gentleman's family long 
seated in the county of Suffolk. He was the second son of 
Robert Bacon, of Drinkston, Esquire, and was born at Chisle- 
hurst, in Kent, in the year 1510. He received his education 
under his father's roof till he was sent to Corpus Christi Col- 
lege, Cambridge. Having taken his degree, he travelled for 
some time in France. 

On his return he studied the law diligently at Gray's Inn, 
and without brilliant talents, by industry and per- 
severance he gained considerable practice at the bar. 
When the dissolution of the monasteries took place, he was 
appointed by Henry VIII. to the lucrative post of Solicitor 
to the Court of Augmentations, a board established for ma- 
naging the church property which came to the Crown, and 
like most others concerned in the management of it, he con- 
trived to have a grant of a portion of it for his own use. q 

Along with all the other grantees of church property ho 

P See all this and much more of the cere- lingham, and of Redgrave, where he after- 
mony related, Rot, Cl. 1 Eliz. wards received Queen Elizabeth. 

1 He got the manors of Bottesdale, of El- 


became a favourer of the Eefonnation, but he took care to 
give no offence by going openly beyond the limits of the de- 
parture from Eome which the law permitted. He now pre- 
sented to the King a splendid plan for the endowment from 
the spoils of the monasteries of a great seminary in London, 
after the model of a University, for the study of the law, and 
for the training of ambassadors and statesmen/ It is much to 
be regretted that, owing to the rapacity of the courtiers, this 
effort was abortive, as, down to our own time, London re- 
mained the only metropolis in Europe (except Constantinople ) 
without a University, and English lawyers, though very acute 
practitioners, have rather been deficient in an enlarged know- 
ledge of jurisprudence. 

Nicholas Bacon was, in this reign, further promoted by 
being appointed Attorney to the Court of Wards, an 

.... , / ,-, , . , - .,. AJ). 1546. 

important situation during the subsistence of mili- 
tary tenures, and affording ample scope for corruption and 
oppression. But he conducted himself in it with integrity as 
well as diligence, and he was allowed to retain it both by 
Edward VI. and Queen Mary. He was a brother-in-law of Sir 
William Cecil, afterwards the celebrated Burghley, now rising 
into eminence, and already known for his prudence and craft ; 
but although in close intimacy with him, he was not suffici- 
ently eminent to share with him in the plot for bringing in 
Lady Jane Grey,' and he still remained in his subordinate 
situation when Cecil had gained the confidence of Mary, and 
was himself in high office. 

During her reign both brothers acquiesced in the reconci- 
liation with Eome, and quietly conformed to the reigning 
religion, although they had actively supported the Eefonnation 
under Edward. A satirical writer, referring to this period of 
Nicholas Bacon's life, bitterly says, "His Lordship could 
neither by the greatness of his beads, creeping to the cross, 
nor exterior show of devotion before the high altar, find his 
entrance into high dignity in Queen Mary's time." ' 

r Besides the study of the common and ling in the suites of the King's ambassadors 

ciTU law, the objects of the projected insti- on the Continent. 

totion were to cultivate the knowledge of * It has always seemed to me a strong proof 

Latin and French, and in those languages to that Northumberland's scheme was by no 

write and debate on all questions of public means so foolish and desperate as has been 

policy; to form historical collections, and generally supposed, that it was supported 

publish new treatises relating to domestic by a man of the sagacity of Cecil, 

institutions and foreign diplomacy ; and the ' It is very curious that his son in de- 

itudents were finally to perfect their know- fending him against this libel does not at aj 

ledge of political science as attadia, travel- deny his ostentatious profession of the Bo- 


Notwithstanding the seeming warmth of the Roman Catholic 
zeal he now displayed, Queen Mary had some suspicion of 
his sincerity, and forbade him to go beyond sea, because " he 
had a great wit of action," and she was afraid he might enter 
into the plots that were formed against her among the Pro- 
testants of Germany. He owed his elevation to his brother- 
in-law. Cecil, while Secretary to Mary, had a private under- 
standing with Elizabeth, who looked up to him for securing 
her succession, and he had been the first to repair to Hatfield 
to announce to her that she was Queen. She employed 
him to compose the speech she was to deliver at her first 
council, and he became her sole adviser in the formation of 
her ministry. 

For the Great Seal he recommended his near connection, 
Dec. 22. Nicholas Bacon, wishing to favour him, and consi- 
1558. dering him competent to the duties of the office, 
without any ambitious or intriguing turn which might render 
him dangerous as a rival. The Queen hesitated for some time, 
as the office of Chancellor or Lord Keeper had hitherto gene- 
rally been given either to a dignified prelate, or some layman 
who had gained distinction by civil service ; and Bacon was 
only known in his own profession as a plodding lawyer, and 
for having industriously done the duties of attorney to the 
Court of Augmentations and the Court of Wards. She saw 
the necessity for the appointment of a lawyer, and the accounts 
she received of the respectable and useful qualities of Bacon 
induced her to yield; but sparing of honours from the com- 
mencement of her reign, she would only give him the title of 
" Lord Keeper," and would only knight him instead of raising 
him to the peerage. He was perfectly contented often re- 
peating his motto, " Mediocria firma." He was sworn of the 
Privy Council, however, and admitted to the public delibera- 
tions of this board. 

For some time he used the Great Seal of Philip and Mary, 

but on the 26th of January, 1559, this seal was 

broken by the Queen's commands, and she delivered 

to him another, with her own name and insignia." From the 

man Catholic religion to please Queen Mary, u See a very circumstantial account of this 

but contends that he was a great favourite ceremony in the Cl. Roll, 1 Kliz., which, afte? 

with her " in regard of his constant standing narrating the delivery of the old Seal to the 

for her title," and that he might have had Queen in her private chamber at Westmin- 

great promotion under her if he had been so ster, her order that it should be broken, the 

minded. Lord Bacon's Works, ed. 1819, vol. execution of this order in an outer room, the 

iii. p. 96. production of another Seal, "imagine armis 


first he gained the confidence of the youthful Queen, who, 
says Camden, " relied upon him as the very oracle of the 

Parliament met on the 25th of January, 1 when, the Queen 
being seated on the throne, the Lord Keeper opened it with 
a speech beginning thus : " My Lords and Masters all, the 
Queen's most Excellent Majesty having summoned hither her 
high Court of Parliament, hath commanded me to open and 
declare the chief causes and considerations that moved her 
thereunto." This discourse is very long and tedious. He 
compares Elizabeth to the good King Hezeldah and the noble 
Queen Hester, and extols her desire for the amendment of the 
laws and the promotion of true religion. But the only part 
worth transcribing is his advice as to the manner in which the 
debates were to be conducted in both Houses. " You will 
also clearly forbear, and as a great enemy to good council fly 
from all manner of contentious reasonings and disputations, and 
all sophistical, captious, and frivolous arguments and quiddities, 
meeter for ostentation of wit than consultation of weighty mat- 
ters ; comelier for scholars than councillors, and more beseem- 
ing the schools than parliament houses." r 

The Lord Keeper is said to have now given very discreet 
advice respecting the Queen's title. On the accession of Mary, 
an act was passed declaring void the divorce between Henry 
and Catherine of Aragon, which virtually bastardised Elizabeth, 
although the statute of 36 Henry VIII., putting her into the 
succession to the Crown, remained unrepealed. He laid down 
for law. that the descent of the Crown of itself removed all 
disabilities : and she was contented with an act to acknow- 
ledge her title, without reversing the attainder of her mother. 1 

et titulis honoris Domine Regine tantumdo Great Seal to Bacon, she affixed it to all 

inscnlptum," the delivery of this to Sir instruments which required it with her own 

Nicholas as Lord Keeper, thus concludes, hand. 

" Ipseque pfdm nov. Sigill. de Dna Regna J It must be remembered that such an 

adtanc et ibidem in presencia eordm nobi- oration was not like a modem Queen's speech 

Hum vir^rm gratufeFtr recipiens in exteri- **""J by I^rds Commissioners,-which is 

-v supposed to be the language of her Majesty, 

orem cameram prdcam recess:!, ac ilhid in advisgd by hef cabine = > _ b bnt wag deli vered 

quandam perulam de corio poni et sigillo suo ^ ^3 extempore composition of the orator. 

pprio muniri et sigillari fecit, ac sic mnnittim On this occasion the Lord Keeper makes 

..unm in quendam sacculum velvet! ma ny apologies for his own imperfections, 

rnbei insigniis regiis decoratum posuit illud- and regrets his " want of ability to do it in 

que penes se retinuit et retinet." such son as was beseeming for her Majesty's 

* Parliament was called under writs dated honor, and as the great weightiness and 

the 1st of December, and it would appear worthiness of the matter did require." 

that between her accession and the 22nd of * This was a very delicate question ; and 

December, when the Queen delivered the from Elizabeth not wishing to stir it, there ii 


Bacon was now called upon to act in a capacity that would 
seem strange to a Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper of our time 
as a moderator in the grand public disputation held by the 
Queen's command, between the champions of the two religions, 
his predecessor, Ex-Chancellor Heath, acting for the Catholics, 
being his colleague. 

There is much reason to fear that the Lord Keeper, become 
an avowed and zealous Protestant, was by no means impartial ; 
for entirely superseding the other moderator, and taking upon 
himself the management of the conference, he insisted, each 
morning, that the Catholic disputants should begin, and he 
would not allow them to reply upon the Protestants. At last 
the five Bishops and three Doctors of Laws on the Catholic 
side declared they would argue no longer, and that they would 
withdraw. The Lord Keeper, highly incensed, put the ques- 
tion to them successively, "whether they would not stay?" 
All except one insisted on departing, and thereupon he dis- 
missed them with these ominous words : " For that ye would 
not that we should hear you, perhaps you may shorfly hear 
of us." Accordingly, their abrupt departure being declared 
to be a contempt of the Queen's authority, the Bishops of 
Winchester and Lincoln were committed to prison, and the 
rest were bound over to appear before the Council, and not 
to go beyond the cities of London and Westminster without 

As a Judge the Lord Keeper gave the highest satisfaction, 
and it was universally acknowledged, that since the time of 
Sir Thomas More justice had never been so well administered 
in the Court of Chancery. Thoroughly imbued with the com- 
mon law, he soon became familiar with the comparatively 
simple system of equitable jurisprudence then established. 
He was sV>w to enlarge his own jurisdiction, interfering very 
cautiously with common-law actions, always respecting the 
principles of the common law, and consulting the common-law 
Judges upon any question of difficulty which arose before 
him. On the bench he was patient and courteous, and it was 
remarked that the parties against whom he decided, if not con- 
vinced by his reasons, never doubted his honesty, and admitted 
that they had had a fair hearing. More fortunate in this 
respect than his greater son, he was never once accused or 

reason to fear that the proofs of Anne's guilt the daughter of Henry VIII., she hardly ever 
were formidable. It was remarked that al- made any allusion to her mother. 
though she was constantly boasting of being 


suspected of bribery or corruption, either by his contempo- 
raries or by posterity.* 

Soon after he was in office, doubts were raised respecting his 
judicial authority. He had been appointed by the Seal having 
been merely delivered to him as Keeper ; and some said that, 
though a Chancellor might be created by "tradition" of the 
emblem of his jurisdiction, the only regular mode of making a 
Lord Keeper was by patent. On the 14th of April a patent 
was passed, by the Queen's warrant, giving him the same 
powers in all respects as if he were Lord Chancellor, and rati- 
fying all that he had done as Lord Keeper. Still difficulties 
arose in his own mind, or cavils were made by others, respect- 
ing the extent of his powers, the Gustos Sigilli having been 
originally only a deputy of the Lord Chancellor ; and, 
finally, an act of parliament was passed, declaring 

" The common law of this realm is, and always was, and ought to be 
taken, that the Keeper of the Great Seal of England for the time being 
hath always had, used, and executed, and of right ought to have, use, 
and execute, and from henceforth may have, perceive, take, use, and 
execute, as of right belonging to the office of the Keeper of the Great 
Seal of England for the time being, the same and the like place, autho- 
rity, pre-eminence, jurisdiction, execution of laws, and all other customs, 
commodities, and advantages as the Lord Chancellor of England for the 
time being lawfully used, had and ought to have, use, and execute, as of 
right belonging to the office of the Lord Chancellor of England for the 
time being, to all intents, constructions, and purposes as if the same 
Keeper of the Great Seal for the time being were Lord Chancellor of 
England." b 

I find an order of his in the Registrar's that he might be discharged of the said costs, it 

Book, which, though pronounced somewhat is therefore, in consideration as well of his age 

irregularly, shows his great good nature. as also of his poverty and simplicity, ordered 

" 17 X v 1577 t ^ at (upon an affidavit made that he is the 

same Lawrence Danyell named Plaintiff 

nerein) he be discharged of the said 30*. 

LAWBEKCB DASTELI, Plaintiff, ^^ ^ no ^ to ^ ont ^ him 

RICHAHD JACKSO*. Defendant for ^ same> , ^ u a rare tast4nce of 
" Whereas the matter in variance be- the advantage of a suitor pleading his own 
tween the said parties was the 5th of this cause. There is another entry showing that 
month dismissed for such causes as are in a poor man having followed him on foot from 
the order expressed, and the Plaintiff ad- London to Windsor, he there patiently ex- 
judged thereby to pay to the Defendant 30s. amined the case, and referred him to the 
costs: Forasmuch cu the Plaintiff being a very Court of Requests. Rayley r. Dyon, Reg. 
poor boy, in very simple clothes and bare- Lib. A. 5 & 6 Eliz. 1563, f. 471. 
legged, and under the age qf ttcelve yeart, came b 5 Eliz c. 18. This assertion of former 
this present day into this Court and desired usage is correct, where there had been a 


The Protestant faith being established, and the government 
settled in the session of parliament held soon after the Queen's 
accession, the Lord Keeper was not at all diverted by politics 
from the regular despatch of judicial business till the beginning 
of the year 1563, when the Queen's exchequer being empty 
from the assistance she rendered to the French Huguenots, she 
found herself reluctantly obliged to summon a new parliament 
for the purpose of obtaining a supply. 

On the day on which the writs were returnable, the Queen 
being indisposed, the Lord Keeper, by virtue of a commission, 
postponed the meeting till the following day. He then joined 
a grand procession from Whitehall to Westminster Abbey, the 
Queen riding on horseback, clad in crimson velvet, with the 
Crown on her head, twenty-two Bishops riding behind her 
in scarlet, with hoods of minever down their backs, followed 
by all the temporal Lords in their parliamentary robes. After 
service and sermon they proceeded to the parliament chamber ; 
and the Queen being seated on the throne, the Commons at- 
tending at the bar, the Lord Keeper stationed on her right 
hand, a little beside the cloth of estate, and somewhat back 
and lower than the throne, by her Majesty's orders delivered 
a speech, which thus began : " My Lords, and others of this 
honourable assembly, you shall understand that my most dread 
and sovereign Lady the Queen's Majesty here present hath 
commanded me to declare the occasion of this assembly, which 
I am not able (but unmeet) to do as it ought to be done among 
such a noble, wise, and discreet company. Howbeit, knowing 
the experience of her Majesty bearing with such as do their 
good wills, and your Honours' patience in bearing with me in 
the like afore this time, it encourageth me the better herein." 
It must be confessed that he put the patience of her Majesty 
and their Honours to a considerable trial ; for his speech was 
very prolix and pointless, and they must have been greatly re- 
lieved when he at last said " And for that the Nether House, 
being so many, of necessity must have one to be a mouth-aider 
or instructor unto them, for the opening of matters, which is 
called the Speaker ; therefore, go and assemble yourselves 
together, and elect one, a discreet, wise, and learned man ; 

Lord Keeper without a Ixird Chancellor ; but latter could only act by the special directions 

the framer of the statute was probably not of the former. There could not after 5 Eliz. 

aware of what we, from the examination of have been a Chancellor and Keeper at the 

records, now know, that in early a;.;es there same time, but all occasion for such an ar- 

were frequently a Chancellor and Keeper of rangoment is now obviated by tfle multipli- 

the Great Seal at the same time, whn the cation of Vice-Chancellors. 


and on Friday next the Queen's Majesty appointeth to repair 
hither again for to receive the presentment of him accord- 

On that day the Queen again attended, and the Speaker-elect 
then exceeded the former length and dulness of the Lord 
Keeper, who, on this occasion, contented himself with dis- 
allowing the disqualification pleaded, and conceding to the 
Commons all their ancient privileges.* 1 

This was considered a very laborious session, and did not 
end till the 10th of April. On that day the Speaker touched 
upon the several bills which they had passed, and after com- 
paring Elizabeth to three most virtuous British Queens (not 
very generally known), PALESTIXA, who reigned here before 
the deluge ; CERES, who made laws for evil-doers some time 
after that event : and MARCA, wife of Bathilicus, mother to 
King Stelicus, in the name of the Commons strongly exhorted 
her to marry, so that the nation might hope to have her issue 
to reign over them ; and if she were resolutely determined 
to die a maid, earnestly entreated that she would name her 

The Queen thereupon called the Lord Keeper unto her, and 
commanded him, in her name, to answer the Speaker. Sir 
Nicholas accordingly, more suo, went over all Mr. Speaker's 
topics till he came to the last ; when it appeared that she had 
considered this rather too delicate for him to be trusted with. 
He thus proceeded: "And touching your request aforetime 
made to her for her marriage and succession, because it is of 
such importance whereby I doubted my opening thereof, I 
therefore desired her Majesty that her meaning might be 
written, which she hath done, and delivered to me." He 
then read the paper: "For my marriage, if I had let slip 
too much time, or if my strength had been decayed, you 
might the better have spoken therein ; or if any think I never 
meant to try that life, they be deceived : but if I may here- 
after bend my mind thereunto, the rather for fulfilling your 
request, I shall be therewith very well content. As to the 
succession after me, the greatness thereof maketh me to say 
and pray that I may linger here in this vale of misery for 
your comfort, wherein I have witness of my study and travail 
for your surety ; and I cannot with ' Nunc dimittis ' end my 
life without I see some foundation of your surety after my 

c 1 Parl. Hist. 664. d Ibid. 635. 


The royal assent was then given to the acts of the session, 
and the Lord Keeper prorogued the parliament. 6 

Whether the Queen ever had any serious thoughts of mar- 
riage is uncertain ; but she successively flattered the hopes of 
Philip of Spain, Charles of Austria, Eric of Sweden, Adolphus of 
Holstein, the Earl of Arran, and her own subject, Robert Dudley, 
Earl of Leicester. The nation at last became most seriously 
and justly alarmed about the succession. She had been dan- 
gerously ill, and if she had died, a civil war seemed inevitable. 
The heir by blood was the Queen of Scots ; but she was a 
Catholic, and set aside by the will of Henry VIII., or at least 
postponed to the House of Suffolk descended from his younger 
sister. There was some doubt who was the legitimate heir of 
that house, and there was another claimant in the Countess of 
Lennox, descended from Margaret, the eldest sister of Henry 
by a second marriage. 

Another attempt was made, in which the Lord Keeper took 
NOV. 5, a more active part than was consistent with his usual 
1565 - caution, to induce the Queen either to marry, or to 
allow that her successor should be declared. After a con- 
ference between the two Houses, the Lords resolved upon an 
address to her Majesty, to be presented by Lord Keeper Bacon, 
and the address bears strong marks of having been prepared 
by the Lord Keeper himself. 

It is said to have been delivered by him to her Majesty in 
parliament, and she seems to have come down to the House of 
Lords to receive it on the throne. It is very long, after the 
Lord Keeper's manner ; but a few extracts of it may be amus- 
ing. After a tiresome preface, he says, " The Lords petition, 
1st, that it would please your Majesty to dispose yourself to 
marry when it shall please you, with whom it shall please you, 
and as soon as it shall please you : 2ndly, that some limitation 
may be made how the imperial Crown of this realm may re- 
main if God calls your Highness without heir of your body 
(which our Lord defend), so as these Lords and Nobles, and 
other your subjects then living, may STifficiently understand 
to whom they owe their allegiance." He then handles each 
head separately with many subdivisions, enumerating no fewer 
than ten reasons why her Highness should take husband. 
Lest she should have made a vow of perpetual celibacy, he 
tells her it may be laudably broken, " for it appeareth by his- 
tories that in times past persons inheriting to Crowns being 

1 Parl. Hist. 703. 

A.D. 1565. QUEEN'S ANSWER. 223 

votaries and religious, to avoid such dangers as might have 
happened for want of succession to kingdoms, have left their 
vows and monasteries, and taken themselves to marriage, as 
Constantia, a nun, heir to the kingdom of Sicily, married after 
fifty years of age to Henry VI. Emperor of that name, and 
had issue, Frederick II. Likewise Peter of Aragon, being a 
monk, married, the better to establish and pacify that king- 
dom." He next tries to inflame her by the desire of having 
children. " Antoninus Pius is much commended, for that, 
not two days before his death, he said to his Council, Lccto 
animo morior quoniam filium vobis relinquo. Pyrrhus is of all godly 
men detested for saying he vcould leave his realm to him that had 
the sharpest sword. \Vhat, but want of a successor known, made 
an end of so great an empire as Alexander the Great did leave 
at his death ? God, your Highness knoweth, by the course of 
Scriptures, hath declared succession, and having children, to 
be one of the principal benedictions in this life : and, on the 
contrary, he hath pronounced contrarywise ; and therefore 
Abraham prayed to God for issue, fearing that Eliazar, his 
steward, should have been his heir, and had promise that 
kings should proceed of his body. Hannah, the mother of 
Samuel, prayed to God with tears for issue ; and Elizabeth 
(whose name your Majesty beareth), mother to John the Bap- 
tist, was joyous when God had blessed her with fruit, account- 
ing herself thereby to be delivered from reproach." 

Bacon's harangue being at last brought to a close, the Queen 
returned a short answer, which has all the appearance of being 
unpremeditated. She was much nettled at some of the illus- 
trations -which she thought referred to Mary, Queen of Scots, 
then lately delivered of a hopeful son. "I thought it had 
been so desired, as none other trees' blossom should have been 
minded, or ever any hope of any fruit had been denied you. 
And yet by the way, if any here doubt that I am by vow or 
determination bent never to trade in that kind of life, put out 
that kind of heresy, for your belief is therein awry. For 
though I can think it best for a private woman, yet I do strive 
with myself not to think it meet for a Prince, and if I can 
bend my liking to your need I will not resist such a mind." 
After a few evasive generalities she withdrew, and the Lords 
declared themselves contented/ 

The subject was renewed at the close of the session, when 
the Queen having come in her barge from Whitehall, and being 

t 1 Part. Hist. 708. 


placed 011 the throne, the Lord Keeper standing by the rail 
Jan. 2, a little behind her on the right, Onslow, the first 
1567 - Speaker of that name, appearing at the bar, was 
marched through the House of Lords, making his obeisances, 
to the rail near the Lord Keeper, and delivered a tremendously 
long address to her Majesty, which he thus concluded : " God 
grant us that as your Majesty hath defended the faith of Abra- 
ham, you may have the like desire of issue ; and for that pur- 
pose that you would shortly embrace the holy state of matri- 
mony, when and with whom God shall appoint and best like 
your Majesty ; and so the issue of your own body by your 
example rule over our posterity." 

The Lord Keeper returned an answer, but in such a very 
unsatisfactory manner, that the Queen stopped him and herself 
took the word, saying that, " as a periphrasis, she had a few 
words farther to add, notwithstanding she had not been used 
to speak, nor loved to do it in such open assemblies." She 
then gave them a good scolding. " I have in this assembly 
found so much dissimulation where I always professed plain- 
ness, that I marvel thereat ; yea, two faces under one hood 
and the body rotten, being covered with two vizors, SUCCESSION 
and LIBEKTY. But, alas! they began to pierce the vessel before 
the wine was fined. Do you think I am unmindful of your 
surety by succession, wherein is all my care, considering I 
know myself to be mortal ? No, I warrant you. Or that I 
went about to break your liberties ? No, it was never my 
meaning but to stay you before you fell into the ditch. All 
things have their time. Although perhaps after me you may 
have one better learned or wiser, yet none more careful over 
you ; and however that be, beware you prove that Prince's 
patience as you have mine." g 

She was in such dudgeon that she ordered the Lord Keeper 
instantly to dissolve the parliament, which he did, and no othei 
was called for a period of five years. 

But in the mean time the nation was in a state of great ex- 
citement on the question of the succession, and various pam- 
phlets were published in support of the rights of the different 
claimants. Among these was one which professed to be in- 
dited by "John Hales, Clerk of the Hanaper in the Court of 
Chancery," strongly espousing the cause of the House of 
Suffolk, which rested on the will of Henry VIII., alleged to bo 
duly executed under the authority of an act of parliament, 

8 1 Parl. Hist 722. 


violently disparaging the Stuart line, whose pretensions wore 
denounced as inconsistent with the religion and independence 
of England, and calling loudly for a parliamentary declara- 
tion of the right of the true heir. On the complaint of the 
Scottish ambassador, Hales was committed to prison ; but upon 
his examination great was the astonishment deep the in- 
dignation of the Queen, when the truth came out that the real 
author of this pamphlet, pretending to be the production of a 
subordinate officer in the Court of Chancery, was no less a 
person than the chief of the Court himself, whose religious 
zeal, fortified by the threats of the Catholics that they would 
revoke all the grants of Church property, for once had over- 
come his prudence. 

Elizabeth, although restrained by jealousy of a rival Queen 
she concealed her real sentiments, had secretly determined 
that the Stuarts should succeed, and she had an extreme an- 
tipathy to the Hertford blood. The Lord Keeper would at 
once have been deprived of the Great Seal, and sent to the 
Tower, had there not been a very serious difficulty about ap- 
pointing a successor to him ; but his name was immediately 
struck out of the list of Privy Councillors, and he was strictly 
enjoined to meddle with no business whatever except that of 
the Court of Chancery. It seems strange to us that the first 
Judge of the land should be so far disgraced, and still per- 
mitted to retain his office. Leicester, whose aspiring project 
to share the throne he had thwarted, attempted to incense the 
Queen further against him ; but Cecil, who was suspected of 
sharing his sentiments on the succession question, and even 
of having contributed to the obnoxious pamphlet, steadily 
supported him, and in little more than a twelvemonth he was 
again sworn of the Privy Council, and entirely restored to 
Elizabeth's favour. 

The next affair of importance, in which Lord Keeper Bacon 
was engaged, was the inquiry into the conduct of the 156S 
Queen of Scots, respecting the murder of her hus- 
band. The unhappy Mary, after the battle of Langside, 
having sought refuge in England from her rebellious subjects, 
was now a prisoner in Bolton Castle, under the care of Lord 
Scrope : and Elizabeth, with a view to make herself arbitress 
of the affairs of Scotland, having refused to see her till she had 
proved her innocence of the great crime imputed to her, both 
parties had submitted themselves to the judgment of the 
English Queen. A commission passed under the Great Seal, 



appointing the Lord Keeper and others to act for Elizabeth in 
this investigation. The conferences took place at Hampton 
Court, Murray, the Eegent of Scotland, assisted by Bu- 
chanan, the famous poet and historian, appearing as accuser, 
and Mary being represented by Lord Merries, and Lesley, 
Bishop of Eoss. 

Bacon is said to have conducted himself, on this occasion, 
with dignity and propriety. He gained the friendship of the 
Bishop of Ross, who ever after spoke of him in terms of 
respect and esteem, and of Buchanan, who recorded his 
high admiration of him in a Latin epitaph, inscribed on 
his tomb in St. Paul's Cathedral. But the casket being pro- 
duced containing Mary's letters and sonnets, addressed to 
Bothwell, which, if genuine, clearly established her guilt, 
and proof being offered that they were in her handwriting, 
by comparing them with letters addressed by her to Eliza- 
beth, her commissioners refused to give in any answer, and 
the conferences were broken off, without any judgment 
being pronounced. Mary still protesting her innocence, and 
desiring to be permitted to justify herself before Elizabeth 
in person. 

In about two years after, the negotiations were renewed at 
York House, the residence of the Lord Keeper. The English 
commissioners now demanded, as the price of Mary's liberty, 
that some of the chief nobility, and several of the principal 
fortresses of Scotland, should be placed in Elizabeth's hands. 
The pride of the Scotsmen was much wounded by this pro- 
posal, which they denounced as insulting. But thereupon the 
Lord Keeper broke up the conference, saying, "All Scotland 
your prince, nobles, and castles, are too little to secure the 
flourishing kingdom of England." h 

The next occasion of the Lord Keeper appearing before the 

AD i5ii Public U1 hi 8 political capacity, was at the meeting of 

parliament, on the 2nd of April, 1571. On that day 

the Queen went to Westminster Abbey, for the first time in a 

coach which was drawn by two palfreys, covered with 

crimson velvet, embossed and embroidered very richly ; but 

h This speech may well account for the Ambassador at the English Court He de- 

pr 'at enmity afterwards entertained against signates Sir Francis Bacon " Milord Quiper, 

him in Scotland, and the libels published Garde des Sceaux," and records in a very 

against him at Edinburgh. lively manner his dialogues with the Bishop 

An interesting account of this negotiation of Ross [called I'cvesqiie de Rnz]. repr 

vil; l>e found in the lately-published De- live of Mary (la Royne d'Esoxc). 

spatches of De la Mothe Fdnc'lot), then French 4th EJitian. 


this was the only carriage in the procession, the Lord Keeper, 
and the Lords spiritual and temporal, attending her on horse- 

Her Majesty being seated on the throne, and the Commons 
attending, after a few complimentary words from her own 
lips, "looking on the right side of her. towards Sir Nicholas 
Bacon, Knight, Lord Keeper, standing a little beside the cloth 
of estate, and somewhat back, and lower from the same, she 
willed him to show the cause of the parliament." His most 
eloquent flight was in celebrating the Queen's economy. 
" "What need I to remember unto you how the goi-geous, 
sumptuous, superfluous buildings of time past be for the 
realm's good, by her Majesty in this time turned into neces 
sary buildings and upholdings ? the chargeable, glittering, 
glorious triumphs, into delectable pastimes and shows? am 
bassades of charge into such as be void of excess, and yet 
honourable and comely? These imperfections have been 
commonly Princes' peculiars, especially young. One free 
from these was anointed ram rivis. etc., and yet, (God be 
thanked!) a phoenix, a blessed bird of this kind God hath 
blessed us with." He concluded by truly supposing they 
were all heartily sick of his tediousness. " Here I make an 
end, doubting that I have tarried you longer than I promised, 
or meant, or perchance needed." ' 

He delivered another speech a few days after, approving of 
the choice of Speaker ; in which he told the Common.- . by the 
Queen's command, that " they should do well to meddle with 
no matters of state, but such as should be propounded unto 

This injunction, however, was by no means universal Iv 
obeyed : and several members brought forward motions about 
the abuse of the prerogative in granting monopolies, and the 
necessity for settling the succession to the Crown. They 
were called before the Council, when the Lord Keeper repri- 
manded them for their temerity ; and one refractory member 
was committed to prison. 

At the close of the session the Lord Keeper highly extolled 
the discretion and orderly proceedings of the Upper ji ay 39, 
House, which redounded much to their honour and 15n - 
much to the comfort and consolation of her Majesty ; but he 

' 1 Parl. Hist. 724. In the coarse of his he never much regarded, for he is a very 
speech he cites the maxim, " Frustra fit per verbose and vapid orator, 
plnra quod fieri potest p?r pauciora," which 



inveighed heavily against the popular party in the Commons 
'for their audacious, arrogant, and presumptuous folly, thus 
by superfluous speech spending much time in meddling with 
matters neither pertaining to them, nor within the capacity of 
their understanding." k The importance of the Commons was 
now rapidly rising, and that of the Lords sinking in the same 

The last notice we have of Sir Nicholas Bacon's appearance 
May 14, in public was at the close of the session of parliament 
1575. j n the year 1575, when a scene took place which 
must have caused a good deal of internal tittering among the 
bystanders, if all due external gravity was preserved in the 
royal presence. Her Majesty had reached an age at which 
according to the common course of nature she could hardly be 
expected to bear children : yet the Speaker of the House of 
Commons (perhaps to flatter her now as she had formerly in 
her younger days been annoyed by such requests) proceeded 
humbly to petition her Majesty "to make the kingdom fur- 
ther happy in her marriage, that so they might hope for a 
continual succession of those benefits in her posterity." 
The Lord Keeper, after conferring with the Queen, made 

" In this her Majesty conceiveth the abundance of your inward affec- 
tion grounded upon her good governance of you to be so great, that it 
doth not only content you to have her Majesty reign and govern over 
you, but also you do desire that some proceeding from her Majesty's 
body might by a perpetual succession reign over your posterity also a 
matter greatly to move her Majesty (she saith) to incline to this your 
suit. Besides, her Highness is not unmindful of all the benefits that 
will grow to the realm by such a marriage, neither doth she forget any 
perils that are like to grow for want thereof. All which matters con- 
sidered, her Majesty willed me to say, that albeit of her own natural 
disposition she is not disposed or inclined to marriage, neither could she 
ever marry were she a private person, yet for your sakes and benefit of 
the realm, she is contented to dispose and incline herself to the satisfac- 
tion of your humble petition, so that all things convenient may concur 
that be meet for such a marriage, whereof there be very many, some 
touching the state of her most royal person, some touching the person of 
him whom God shall join, some touching the state of the whole realm ; 
these things concurring and considered, her Majesty hath assented." m 

Parliament was not again called during the life of Sir 
Nicholas Bacon. He continued in a quiet manner to have 

1 Parl. Hist 766. m Ibid. 80G 


considerable influence in public affairs. From the time cf his 
restoration to the Council he was its legal adviser, and Cecil. 
now Lord Burghley, had been much influenced by him re- 
specting the measures proposed to the legislature on the part 
of the government. Not being a Peer, he could not take a 
share in the Lords' debates ; but presiding as Speaker on the 
Woolsack, he exercised a considerable influence on their de- 
liberations. He was supposed to have framed the acts aimed 
at the Queen of Scots and her supporters. Although death 
saved him from the disgrace of being directly accessary to the 
death of this unfortunate Princess, he is chargeable with 
having strongly supported the policy which finally led to that 
catastrophe, by urging the continuation of her captivity and 
rigorous treatment, by assisting in the eftbrts to blacken her 
reputation, by resisting the recognition of her right and that 
of her son to succeed to the crown, and by contending, that 
though a captive sovereign, she ought to be treated as a rebel- 
lious subject. 

Being a Commoner, he could neither act as Lord Steward, 
nor sit upon the trial of the Duke of Norfolk, who A ^ 15 _ 
was the first who suffered for favouring Mary's cause ; 
but as he put the Great Seal to the commission under which 
this mockery of justice was exhibited, and must have super- 
intended and directed the whole proceeding, he is to be con- 
sidered answerable for such atrocities as depriving the noble 
prisoner of the use of books, and debarring him from all 
communication with his friends from the time of his commit- 
ment to the Tower, giving him notice of tiial only the night 
before his arraignment, keeping him in ignorance of the 
charges against him till he heard the indictment read in court, 
and resting the case for the Crown on the confessions of wit- 
nesses whom the Council had ordered " to be put to the rack 
that they might find the taste thereof." n The religious zeal 
of the Lord Keeper and the Protestant ministers was now 
greatly exasperated, and they were eager by any expedient* 
to crush the believers in those doctrines which they them- 
selves had openly professed in the preceding reign. 

Sir Nicholas, from his family connection with Burghley. 
continued opposed to the party of Eobert Dudley, Earl of 
Leicester. Through the ill offices of this favourite he had 
been expelled from the Privy Council, and a great coldness 
ever after subsisted between thm. 

1 St Tr. 958. Ellis, ii. 261. Jardine's Criminal Trials, 1. 121. 


Although the Queen's reputation never suffered from her 
attentions to this old fat Lord Keeper, as it did when she 
danced and flirted with his young and handsome successor, 
Sir Christopher Hatton, she was latterly very kind to him, 
and visited him in her progresses at lied grave and at Gorham- 
bury. It was on one of these occasions that she remarked to 
him that his house was too small for him, and he answered, 
" Not so, Madam, your Highness has made me too great for 
my house." During another visit Frank with his curly locks 
was introduced to her, and the lad showing from his earliest 
years the extraordinary genius which afterwards immor- 
talised him, she, captivated by his manners and his answers 
to her questions, called him " her young Lord Keeper." 

Old Sir Nicholas had grown exceedingly corpulent, inso- 
much that when he had walked the short distance from the 
Court of Chancery to the Star Chamber, it was some time 
after he had taken his place on the Bench there before he 
had sufficiently recovered his breath to go on with the 
business, -and the Bar, before moving, waited for a signal 
which he gave them by thrice striking the ground with his 

When unable to attend the meetings of the Council, he 

AD 1577 was ^ *ke h a bit of writing long letters to the 

Queen, explaining his views on public affairs. Thus 

he begins one of these, respecting the troubles in Scotland 

and in. the Low Countries : 

" MY MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN, T with all humbleness pray pardon 
of your Majesty that I presume by letter to do that, which bounden 
duty and service requireth to be done in person. good Madam, not 
want of a willing heart and mind, but an unable and an unwieldy body, 
is the only cause of this. And yet the body, such as it is, every day 
and hour is, and ever shall be, at your Majesty's corornandment ; and 
so should they be, if I had a thousand as good as any man hath, mine 
allegiance and a number of benefits hath so sundry ways bounden 

He had enjoyed remarkably good health, and he might still 
have done the duties of his office satisfactorily for years to 
1579 come ' na< ^ *t n t happened that in the beginning of 
February, 1579, while under the operation of having 
his hair and his beard trimmed, he fell asleep. The awe- 
struck barber desisted from his task, and remained silent. The 
contemporary accounts state, that from " the sultriness of the 
weather, the windows of the room were open," which, con- 


sidering the season of the year, I do not exactly understand. 
However this may be. the Lord Keeper continued long asleep 
in a current of air, and when he awoke he found himself chilled 
and very much disordered. To the question, " Why did you 
suffer me to sleep thus exposed?" the answer was, " I durst 
not disturb you." Sir Nicholas replied, " By your civility I 
lose my life." He was immediately carried to his bed, and 
in a few days he expired. 

He was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral, where a monu- 
ment to his memory stood till the great fire of London, with 
the following epitaph from the pen of his friend, George 
Buchanan : 

" Hie Xicolaum n Baconnm conditum 

Existima ilium, tarn din Britannici 
Regni secundum columen, exitium mails, 
Bonis asylum ; caeca quern non extnlit 
Ad hunc bonorem sors, sed jequitas, fiie9. 

Doctrina, pietas, unica et prudentia. 
Xeu morte raptum crede, quia unica brevi 

Vita perennes emeruit duas ; agit 

Vitam secundam cselites inter animus ; 

Fama imptet orbem vita qua illi tertia est, 

Hac positum in ara est corpus olim animi doinus. 

Ara dicata sempitemje memoriae." 

The character of Lord Keeper Bacon, by Camden, is very 
nattering, notwithstanding the sneer at his obesity: " Yir 
preepinguis, ingenio acerrimo, singulari prudentia, summa elo- 
quentia, tenaci memoria et sacris conciliis alterum columen." 

His son bears the most honourable testimony to his sin- 
cerity of mind and straightforward conduct abstaining from 
ascribing to him brilliant qualities which he knew did not 
belong to him : " He was a plain man, direct and constant, 
without all finesse and doubleness, and one that was of a mind 
that a man in his private proceedings, and in the proceedings 
of state, should rest on the soundness and strength of his own 
courses, and not upon practice to circumvent others, accord- 
ing to the sentence of Solomon, Vir prudens advertit ad gressus 
sitos ; stultus autem dhxrtit ad dolos, insomuch that the Bishop 
of Ross, a subtle and observing man, said of him that he 
could fasten no words upon him, and that it was impossible 
to come within him, because he offered no play; and the 

The Lord Keeper's figure seems to have doubt, the lords with white staves and the 

been the subject of much jesting at Court, ladies in waiting laughed consnmedly. Fuller 

The Queen herself, alluding to it, said, " Sir describes him as a man " cui fuit ingenium 

Nicholas's soul lodges well," whereat, no subtile iu corpore crasao." 


Queen mother of France, a veiy politic Princess, said of him 
that he should have been of the council of Spain, because he 
despised the occurrents and rested on the first plot." p 

The most valuable tribute to his memory is from the faith- 
ful Hay ward, who describes him as " a man of greate dili- 
gence and ability in his place, whose goodnesse preserved his 
greatnesse from suspicion, envye, and hate." q 

Amidst the drudgery of business and the cares of state, he 
kept up his classical learning, and was a patron of learned 
men, who repaid him for his condescension by their flattery. 
" I have come," said one of them, " to the Lord Keeper, and 
found him sitting in his gallery alone with the works of Quin- 
tilian before him. Indeed he was a most eloquent man, of 
rare wisdom and learning as ever I knew England to breed, 
and one that joyed as much in learned men and good wits 
from whose lips I have seen to proceed more grace and 
natural eloquence than from all the orators of Oxford and 
Cambridge." r 

In his own time he was "famous for set speeches, and 
gained the reputation of a witty and weighty orator ; " but I 
have been obliged to express my opinion, that the specimens 
of his eloquence transmitted to us are exceedingly dull and 
tiresome, having neither the point and quaintness of the pre- 
ceding age, nor showing any approach to the vigour and elo- 
quence which distinguished the latter half of the reign of 
Elizabeth. " 

No judicial decision of his, either in the Court of Chancery 
or in the Star Chamber, is reported, although we meet with 
much general commendation of his conduct as a Judge. He 
had the admirable qualities of patience and regularity ; and 
he would often say, " Let us stay a little that we may have 
done the sooner," truly thinking that an irregular attempt 
to shorten a cause generally makes it last twice as long as it 
would have done if regularly heard to its conclusion. When 
Lord Bacon, in his admirable essay " on Judicature," draws 
the picture of a good Judge, he is supposed to have intended 
to delineate his sire. The old gentleman's manner, however, 
seems to have had about it something of the ridiculous, for 

P Observations on a Libel. Bac. Works, There are references to a MS. collection 

ed. 1819, vol. iii. p. 96. of his speeches said to be in the public li- 

1 Hayward's Annals of Elizabeth, puiv brary at Cambridge; but after a most clili- 

lisliod by Camdeu Society, p. 13. gent search, which I have caused to be made, 

T Puttenham. it is not to be found. 




the saying went, " that some seemed Aviser than they were, 
but the Lord Keeper was wiser than he seemed." * 

He wrote " A Treatise of Treason," and other works which 
have deservedly perished. Only two of his publications are 
extant to reconcile us for the loss of the rest : 1. " An ar- 
gument to show that the persons of noblemen are attachable 

t There are a good many decrees of Sir 
Nicholas Bacon to be found in the Registrar's 
Book. I will give an abstract of one of them, 
which may amuse my female readers, and 
will strikingly illustrate the manners of the 
times. Who would have thought of a court- 
*hip being carried on under the directions of 
the Lord Keeper? Two powerful Cheshire 
families, the Traffords and the Boothes, had 
had a violent feud respecting a marriage be- 
tween young Edward Traflford and Margaret 
Boothe. " It therefore pleased her Highness 
the Queen, for the speedy end and quieting 
thereof, to direct her special warrant to her 
Lord Keeper, commanding him to hear and 
determine the same." The young lady's fa- 
ther alleged " that neither there was nor 
could be any such liking between the said 
Edward and Margaret as were convenient to 
have a marriage between them, and that the 
said Margaret could not in her heart like well 
of the said Edward." " Whereupon the said 
Lord Keeper, understanding the said Mar 
garet to have accomplished the full age of 
tu-elve years, and wishing to be informed of 
the truth of this objection before he should 
proceed to any decree, doth require and enjoin 
Thomas Stanley, Esq. [ancestor of the pre- 
sent Lord Stanley of Alderley], in whose 
indifferent custody the said Margaret now is, 
to suffer the said Edward to have access to 
the house of the said Thomas Stanley, and 
that the said Edward and Margaret shall 
there have meeting, talk, and conference the 
one with the other, two or three several 
times before the term of St. Michael next 
coming, in the presence of the said Thomas 
Stanley, and thereupon the said Thomas 
Stanley shall diligently examine and try, by 
such convenient and good means as he can, 
what liking the said parties shall have each 
of other, and shall advertise the said Lord 
Keeper of his doings and proceedings in that 
behalf, and what liking he shall find in the 
said parties." Mr. Stanley certified to the 
Lord Keeper that "he had permitted the said 
Edward and Margaret to have meeting and 
talk together at his house and in his presence, 
on the 6th day of August and ou the 19th 

day of September, on which last day the said 
Thomas Stanley, after that the said Edward 
and Margaret had had some talk and con- 
ference the one with the other, took the said 
Edward apart and demanded of him what 
liking he had of this gentlewoman ? who an- 
swered that he had very good liking of her. 
And thereupon taking the said Margartt also 
apart, demanded of her what liking she had 
of the said Edward? who likewise did an- 
swer that she had very good liking of him." 
He then gives a similar account of another 
meeting which the lovers had on the 26th of 
September, when " the said Edward declared 
that he could be very well contented to marry 
the said Margaret, and the said Margaret 
declared that she could be very well con- 
tented to marry the said Edward with a free 
good will, and farther that she had not been 
persuaded nor dissuaded to have liking or dis- 
liking of the said young Trafford." There- 
upon the Lord Keeper, by his final decree, 
bearing date the 8th of November, 15 Eliz., 
" ordered and directed that the said Margaret 
should be delivered by the said Thomas 
Stanley into the custody of the father of the 
said Edward, to the end that a marriage may 
be had between the said Edward and Mar- 
garet, and that nothing shall be done to hin- 
der the delivery of the said Margaret into 
such custody to the intent aforesaid." The 
decree then goes on to order certain sums 
of money to be paid by their relations for the 
benefit of the young couple, " all the several 
payments aforesaid to be made at or in the 
south porch of the parish church of Manches- 
ter, in the county of Lancaster, between the 
hours, be." But there is a proviso that the 
young lady shall still have free choice to take 
or refuse her suitor " without any threaten- 
ings or other constraints to be used to her;" 
and that if she should change her mind be- 
fore the marriage was celebrated, she should 
be delivered back into the custody of her 
own father. Reg. Lib. A. 1573, p. 71. This 
proceeding reminds us of the decrees of the 
French parliaments for a CONGRESS to see if 
the parties well liked of each other after 


by law for contempts in the High Court of Chancery ; " and, 
2. " A Palinode, proving the right of succession to the Crown 
of England to be in the family of the Stuarts descended from 
Henry VII., exclusive of Mary Queen of Scots, who had for- 
feited her rights." 

His bon mots have had better luck, for several of them 
which have been preserved show that, for a Keeper of the 
Great Seal, he was by no means a contemptible jester. 

Being asked his opinion, by the Earl of Leicester, con- 
cerning two persons of whom the Queen seemed to think 
well, " By my troth, my Lord," said he, " the one is a grave 
Councillor ; the other is a proper young man, and so he will be 
as long as he lives." u 

At a time when there was a great clamour about mono- 
polies created by a licence to make a particular manufacture, 
with a prohibition to all others to do the like, being asked 
by Queen Elizabeth what he thought of these monopoly 
licences, he answered, " Madam, will you have me speak the 
truth ? Licentid omnes deteriores sumus. We are all the 
worse for Licences." 

Once going the Northern Circuit as Judge, before he had 
the Great Seal, he was about to pass sentence on a thief con- 
victed before him, when the prisoner, after various pleas had 
been overruled, asked for mercy on account of kindred. 
"Prithee," said my Lord Judge, "how comes this about?" 
" Why, if it please you, my Lord, your name is Bacon, and 
mine is Hog, and, in all ages, Hog and Bacon have been so near 
kindred that they are not to be separated." " Ay, but," re- 
plied the Judge, " you and I cannot be kindred except you be 
hanged, for Hog is not Bacon until it be well hanged." 

He used to tell a story which he was supposed to have in- 
vented or embellished, that a notorious rogue, about to be 
arraigned before him, hoping that he might have some chance 
from my Lord Judge's love of humour, instead of pleading, 
took to himself the liberty of jesting ; and, as if the Judge 
having some evil design, he had been to swear the peace 
against him, exclaimed, " I charge you in the Queen's name 
to seize and take away that man in the red gown there, for I 
go in danger of my life because of him." 

At times he had a slight hesitation, which impeded his ut- 

" This sarcasm (indifferent as it is) was silly, observed to her that she had so long 
stolen from Sir Thomas More, who, when his prayed for a boy, he was afraid her son would 
wife at last had a son who turned out rather continue a boy as long as he lived. 



terance. A certain nimble-witted counsellor at the bar having 
often interrupted him, he at last said, "There is a great dif- 
ference between me and you, a pain for me to speak, and a 
pain to you to hold your peace." There was then a glimpse of 
silence, of which the Lord Keeper took advantage to finish his 

On a bill exhibited to discover where lands lay, being told 
that the plaintiffs had a certain quantity of land, but could not 
set it forth, he was wont to say, ' ' And if you cannot find your 
land in the country, how do you expect me to find it for you 
in the Court of Chancery ? " 

Soon after his death, a wag at the Chancery bar, to expose 
the practice beginning to prevail too much of referring every- 
thing to the Master (then called " the Doctor," from the 
Masters being all Doctors of the civil law), feigned a tale that Sir 
Nicholas, when he came to Heaven's gate, was opposed in re- 
spect of an unjust decree which he had made while Lord 
Keeper. He desired to see the order, and, finding it to begin 
" Veneris," &c., " Why," saith he, " this being done on a 
Friday, I was then sitting in the Star Chamber : it concerns 
the Master of the Rolls : let him answer it." Sir ^'illiam Cor- 
dell, M.E., who died soon after, following, he was likewise 
stayed upon it. Looking into the order, he found it ran thus : 
" Upon reading the report of Dr. Gibson, to whom this cause 
stood referred, it is ordered," &c. And so he put it upon 
Dr. Gibson ; who, next coming up, said that the Lord Keeper 
and his Honour the Master of the Eolls were the parties who 
ought to suffer, for not doing their own work ; whereupon 
they were all three turned back. 

Considering that he held the Great Seal above twenty years, 
he left behind him a very moderate fortune, which was chiefly 
inherited by his eldest son, Francis and the younger chil- 
dren being but slenderly provided for. His town residence 
was York House, near Charing Cross, where he splendidly 
exercised hospitality. After the visit from Queen Elizabeth, 
he added wings to his house at Gorhambury, and laid out 
large sums of money in planting and gardening there. The 
decorations of his grounds, however, displayed the bad taste 
of the age. For example, in a little banqueting house there 
was a series of pictorial designs emblematic of the LIBERAL 
GEOMETRY, and ASTROLOGY, with hideous portraits of their 

* Lord Bacon's Apophthegms Works, ii. 40] . 


most celebrated professors, and each one with a barbarous 
Latin couplet. Over the hall door was an inscription, which 
marks the period of the erection as the 10th year of his Keep- 
ership (1568) : 

" Hsec cum perfecit Nicholaus tecta Baconus 

Elizabeth regni lustra fuere duo. 
Factus Kques, rnagni custos erat ipse sigilli ; 

Gloria sit solo tola tributa Deo 

He was extremely popular with the English nation, but 
particularly odious in Scotland, from the part he took in the 
continued imprisonment of Queen Mary, and the reports 
spread of his dislike to all the inhabitants of that country. 
Gross libels against him were printed at Edinburgh, and circu- 
lated industriously in London. The Queen issued a procla- 
mation ordering them to be burnt, and highly commending 
the services of the Lord Keeper. 

Sir Nicholas Bacon was twice married: first to Jane, 
daughter of William Fernly, Esq., of West Creding, in Suf- 
folk, by whom he had several sons and daughters ; and, 
secondly, to Anne, daughter of Anthony Cooke, Esq., of Giddy 
Hall, in Essex, by whom he had two sons, Sir Anthony, and 
Francis, the immortal Lord Verulam, Viscount St. Alban's. 
It was by this latter marriage that the connection was created 
between the Cecils and the Bacons. 

The subject of this memoir would probably have filled a 
greater space in the eyes of posterity had it not been for the 
glory of his son ; but one of the grounds on which we ought to 
admire and to respect him is the manner in which he assisted 
in forming a mind so supereminent ; he pointed out the path 
by which FRANCIS BACON reached such distinction in literatiire 
and eloquence, and became the first philosopher of any coun- 
try or any age. y 

f See Rawley's Life of Bacon. Baconiana. Lord Bacon's Works, ii 407 422, 426 ; iii. 9S , 




ON the sudden death of Lord Keeper Bacon, great perplexity 
existed with respect to the appointment of his sue- Feb I5 . g 
cessor. On the day he expired the Queen sent Lord 
Burghley and Lord Leicester to York House for the Great Seal, 
and they having received it from Lady Bacon, his widow, in 
a bag sealed with his private signet, took it to the Queen, who 
was in her palace at Westminster. She retained it in her own 
keeping above two months, while she considered with whom 
she should intrust it. Luckily this period was in the interval 
between Hilary and Easter terms, so that the delay in filling 
up the office did not cause any serious interruption to the des- 
patch of business in the Court of Chancery. The sealing of 
writs and patents was accomplished under the Queen's imme- 
diate orders. To show her impartiality, she handed it over 
for this purpose, alternately, to the heads of the two opposite 
parties, Burghley and Leicester ; except that on one occasion, 
the latter being absent to prepare for receiving a royal visit at 
Kenil worth, Secretary WaLsinghamwas substituted for him. The 
Close Eoll records, with much circumstantiality, no fewer than 
seven instances of the Great Seal being so used between the 
20th of February and the 26th of April.' 

1 I shall copy as a specimen of this entry riori Camera ibidem per dominant Annam 
the recovery of the Great Seal on Sir X. Bacon Viduam nuper usem ejusdem Nichi 
Bacon's death, and the first instance of its liberatum fuit ; Qniquidem Wills Ds Burgh- 
being used while in the Queen's custody, ley et Robertas Comes Leicestr sigillum 
"Wemdum qd die Yeneris ic. (Feb. 20, predictum in baga predicts inclnsum et si- 
1 Eliz.) circa boram nouam ante meridiem gillo ipsins Nihi ut predicitur munitum de 
ejusdem diei Magnum Sigillum suum regium nianibiis ejnsdem Dne Anne Bacon recipien. 
post mortem egregii viri Nichi Bacon militis illud circa horam decimam ante meridiem 
tune nnper Custodis ejusdem Magni Sigilli predict! diei p~rte Dne Regne in sua privata 
exist, in quadam baga de corio inclus. et sig- Camera infra palacium suum Westmon. ibi- 
nato ejusdem Xichi sigillatum et cooperta dem juxta ipsins p,*, Regne benepTtnm ob- 
alia baga de velneto rabeo insigniis regiis tulerunt et presentaverunt ac eadem Dna 
oniat. nobilibus viris Willo Eno Burghley Regina," &c. (received the Seal and kept it 
Dao Thesaurario Angl. et Robo Comiti Lei- till Feb. 24, when she delivered it to Burghley 
cester ex mandate ejusdem Dne Regne apud and Leicester), " pro tempore ntend. et 
Hospicium ejusdem Xiehi vocatum Yorke exercend. Quo accepto iidem Wills Dns 
Place prope daring Crosse in quadam inte- Burjthly et Comes Leicester tune immeUi- 


There being now an outcry that no injunctions could be ob- 
tained, and that the hearing of causes was suspended, the 
Queen, who person ally made all such appointments, and some- 
times vacillated much about them, was informed that Westmin- 
ster Hall could go on no longer without a Lord Chancellor or 
Lord Keeper. She was determined that the clergy should 
be kept to their spiritual affairs ; a mere politician could not be 
fixed upon without great scandal, and there was no lawyer 
whom she considered eligible. Sir Gilbert Gerrard had been 
Attorney General ever since her accession to the Crown ; but 
although he was well learned in his profession and very in- 
dustrious, he was awkward and ungainly in his speech and 
manner, and not considered lit for such a place of representa- 
tion and dignity. Yet there was a reluctance to pass over a 
man of approved service. Sir Thomas Bromley, the Solicitor 
General, was inferior to him in legal acquirements, but was 
much more a man of the world, and had shown himself a most 
zealous partisan, and ready, without scruple, to perform any 
task that might be assigned to him. After much intriguing, 
the friends of Mr. Solicitor prevailed with the Queen ; and on 
a suggestion that, on account of his inferior rank, there might 
be a disposition not to treat him with proper respect, she added 
to their triumph by delivering the Great Seal to him, with 
the title and rank of " Lord Chancellor." a 

Sir Gilbert Gerrard, the Attorney General, was consoled 
with a promise of the office of Master of the Rolls, which 
was actually given to him on the 30th of May, 1581. 

Although Sir THOMAS BROMLEY held the Great Seal during 
eight years, he would hardly have been known to history, 
had it not been from the part he acted in the proceedings 
against the unfortunate Mary Stuart ; but he will be remem- 
bered to the latest times as the person who framed the mea- 
sures intended to bring her to the scaifold, and who actually 
presided at her mock trial in the hall of Fotheringay Castle. 

He was the son of George Bromley and Jane, daughter 
of Sir Thomas Lacon of Whitley, and was born in the year 
1530 at Bromley, in the county of Salop, where the fa- 
ate usque Mgnam Cameram Concilii infra comes a statement of their naving, at seven 
palacium prdm asportari fecerunt et sigillum o'clock, restored the Seal to its integument*, 
illud ibidem extra bagam pTm adtunc ex- and P ven 14 to th Q ueen in her P ri 
trahi fecerunt et eodem sigillo sic extracto chamber, and thnt the Queen kept it there 
divers, literas paten tes processus et brevia de tiu the 8th of March.-the whole h.story 
communi cursu Regni Angl. in presencln ^ing repeated trtieg qaotiet. 
Thorn. I'oole, &c. sigillari fecerunt." Then ' Rot - cl - 21 Ellz - P- 201 - 


mily had been seated many ages, their name being territorial. 1 " 
I do not find any information respecting his school or academi- 
cal education. He was bred to the law in the Inner Temple, 
and was there remarkable for his proficiency and the regula- 
rity of his conduct. Rapidly rising to eminence at the bar, he 
was, in 1566, elected Eecorder of London, and having secured 
the good opinion and patronage of Lord Keeper Bacon, in 
1570 he was made Solicitor General. 

His first great public appearance in his official character was 
on the trial of the Duke of Norfolk for high treason, be- Jaj ^ lc ^ 
fore the Court of the Lord High Steward. The counsel 
for the Crown were Barham the Queen's Serjeant, Gerrard the 
Attorney General, Bromley the Solicitor General, and "\Vilbra- 
hani the Queen's Attorney of the Court of Wards. ^Ve have 
a shorthand writer's report of the trial, which is extremely 
curious, and shows that Bromley was exceedingly zealous in 
bringing about the conviction. d The Court consisted of the Earl 
of Shrewsbury, appointed Lord High Steward, the Great Seal 
being in the keeping of a Commoner, and twenty-six Peers 
triers, attended by all the common-law Judges as assessors. 
The indictment had been settled at a conference of all the 
Judges before it was preferred to the grand jury. No regu- 
larity was observed, much of the time being occupied with 
dialogues between the prisoner and the Judges, and interlocu- 
tory speeches by the Lord High Steward, the Lords Triers, 
the Judges, and the counsel. The French fashion of interro- 
gating the prisoner then prevailed in England, and the Duke 
was frequently asked to admit or to deny certain facts, to 
explain his conduct on particular occasions, and to reconcile 
the evidence adduced against him with his alleged innocence.' 

Barham, the Queen's Serjeant, holding an office which had 
precedence of that of the Attorney-General till the regency of 
George TV., began, and gave in evidence copies of letters, ex- 
aminations, and confessions, mixing them up with speeches 
from himself and questions addressed to the prisoner, to show 
that the Duke persisted in his design to marry the Queen of 

b As we say in Scotland, " Bromley of that e He was first very artfully asked " wbe- 

illc." This family produced several other dis- ther he knew that the Scottish Queen pre- 

tinguished lawyers ; among these were Sir tended title to the present possession of the 

Thomas Bromley, made a Judge of the King's crown of England," and wishing to evade the 

Bench, 36 H. 8 and Sir George Bromley, a question, he is pressed, "Did you know that 

brother of the Chancellor, a Justice of Xoitb she claimed the present possession of the 

Wales. Dngd. Or. Jur. Crown .'that she usurped the arms and 

c Pat. 11 Eliz. Or. Jur. s. 3. royal style of this realm and that she made 

d 1 St. Tr. 957. no renunciation of that usurped pretence ?" 


Scots after his promise not to do so, and that he was engaged 
in a plot to further her escape. Mr. Attorney having followed 
in the same strain, Bromley ? Solicitor-General, thus began : 
" For that the time is spent, and your Lordships I think are 
weary, I will not now make any collection what hath been 
gathered of the attempt of marriage with the Scottish Queen ; 
only I will deal with the matter of Rodolph's message, and the 
effect thereof ; and the Duke's adhering to the Queen's enemies 
and rebels, shall be another part." He then proceeded, at 
considerable length, to detail the supposed plan of invading 
the kingdom by the intrigues of Eudolfi, an Italian banker, 
with the Duke of Alva, and gave in evidence a decyphered 
copy of a letter from Eudolfi to the Duke, alleged to have 
been delivered to him by one Barker, who was supposed to 
have taken the copy. Duke. " It may be Barker received this 
letter as you spake of, and that it was decyphered, and that it 
contained the matters that you allege, but it may be that they 
kept that letter to themselves, and might bring me another 
letter containing only such matter as I was contented with." 
Solic. " An unlikely matter! But thus you see the Duke con- 
fesseth the receipt of the letter ; he only denieth it was to this 
effect." Duke. " I know not. Barker presented me the letter 
out of cypher, and I had not the cypher nor saw any such 
letter as you allege." Sofa. " The Pope sent letters to the Duke 
and the Scottish Queen, that he liked well of their enterprise. 
Would Eodolph have gone to the Pope and procured letters if 
he had not had instructions accordingly ? The Duke himself 
hath confessed such a letter." Duke. " Barker indeed brought 
me about six or seven lines written in a Eoman hand in Latin, 
beginning thus, Dilecte fili, salutem. I asked what it was ? 
Barker told me it was a letter from the Pope to me, wherewith 
I was offended, and said, 'A letter to me from the Pope ! How 
cometh this to pass?' Barker excused it, and said that Eo- 
dolph had procured it for his own credit." Solic. " The Duke 
received it and read it, and said, Eodolph hath been at Eome : 
I perceive there is nothing to be done this year. By this it 
appeareth that he reproved not Barker for bringing it unto 
him." Mr. Solicitor having proved his position according to 
the law and logic then prevailing, thus concluded: "I have 
also, my Lords, one thing more to say to you from the Queen's 
Majesty's own mouth. The Lords that be here of the Privy 
Council do know it very well, not meet here in open presence 
to be uttered, because it toucheth others that are not here now 


to be named but by her Highness's order. We pray that their 
Lordships will impart it unto you more particularly. In 
Flanders, by the ambassador of a foreign prince there, the 
whole plot of this treason was discovered, and by a servant of 
his brought to her Majesty's intelligence; the minister not 
meaning to conceal so foul and dishonourable a practice, gave 
intelligence hither by letters, and hath therein disclosed the 
whole treason in such form as hath here been proved unto yon : 
whe:oupon I refer the more particular declaration thereof to 
the Peers of the Privy Council." 

So a capital charge was to be made out by the parol state- 
ment, in the absence of the accused, of the Queen's ministers 
(who had advised the prosecution) of the contents of a de- 
spatch from a foreign minister, giving an account of something 
he had heard from others abroad respecting a plot to be carried 
into effect in England ; but no doubt could be entertained 
either as to the admissibility or conclusiveness of this evi- 
dence, for it was produced by an express order from the 
Queen's Majesty's own mouth. 

After a speech from Wilbraham, the Attorney of the Court 
of Wards, said to have been the most eloquent that had then 
ever been heard at the English bar, and some more copies of let- 
ters, confes-sions. and examinations, without any witness being 
called, the case for the Crown was closed. The prisoner had 
asked for the assistance of counsel ; but the Chief Justice de- 
clared the unanimous opinion of the Judges, that to allow counsel 
against the Queen was contrary to all precedent and all rea- 
son/ He was asked whether he had aught else to say ? He 
answered, "he trusted to God and truth." He was then re- 
moved, and the Lord His;h Steward summed up the case to 
the Lords Triers, and willed them to go together. They with- 
drew from Westminster Hall into the Court of Chancery, and 
after a consultation of an hour and a quarter returned with an 
unanimous verdict of Guilty. On the prayer of the Queen's 
Serjeant, the frightful sentence in cases of high treason was 
pronounced on the undaunted Norfolk. 6 But this conviction, 
even in that age, caused such dissatisfaction, that the govern- 
ment did not venture to carry it into execution for several 
months ; nor until the public mind had been alarmed by re- 

' Before they are heavily censured for the cases of felony was strongly condemned by 

horror with which they view ed such a pro- all the Judges of England.'eicept one, in the 

let it be remembered that the bill to reign of King William IV. 

allow prisoners the assistance of counsel in 6 1 St Tr. 973. 



ports of an insurrection to rescue him from the Tower, and to 
dethrone the Queen. h 

Mary was thrown into the deepest grief by the fate of Nor- 
folk. If his manly beauty and elegant accomplishments had 
not made an impression upon her heart, at any rate -she was 
touched by his devoted services, and she considered him a 
martyr in her cause. It was hoped that while she was in this 
state of mind she might be induced to make concessions which 
she had hitherto haughtily refused. Accordingly, Bromley, 
the Solicitor-General, attended by several others, was sent to 
negotiate with her. 

Being admitted by her to an audience, he enumerated the 
injuries of which the English government complained, her 
assuming the arms of England, her refusing to ratify the 
treaty of peace between England and Scotland, her plan of 
marrying without the Queen's consent, her stirring up sedi- 
tion at home,- her attempt to engage the King of Spain in an 
invasion of England, and her procuring the Pope's bull for the 
excommunication of Elizabeth. The object was, that she 
should formally resign the crown of Scotland, and transfer to 
her son all her rights both in Scotland and in England ; after 
which she could no longer have been considered a rival, 
and the hopes of the Catholics, from having the presumptive 
heir to the Crown of their religion, would have been extin- 

But all Bromley's eloquence and ingenuity were wasted 
upon her. She either denied the grievances of which the 
English Queen complained, or threw the blame of them upon 
others : she said she never would do any thing to hazard the 
independence of Scotland, or bring dishonour on her race, or 
compromise the interests of her religion ; and she expressed a 
fixed purpose, sacrificing none of her rights, to live and to 
die a Queen. She again earnestly renewed her supplication 
that she might be admitted to the presence of Elizabeth, so 
that all doubts might be cleared up, and lasting harmony 
might be established between them. ' 

i> I onght not to have any bias in favour of against him, he considered that it required 

the Duke of Norfolk, for he seems to have no other answer than this: Duke. "He is 

thought that all my countrymen were with- a Scot." The reply was, " A Scot is a 

out honour or veracity, and he was ready, in Christian ; " * but this did not at all satisfy 

a very peremptory manner, to avow this sen- the Duke. 

timent. The written examination of I^esley, > Camden, p. 440. Strype, vol. il. p. 40, 

Bishop of Ross, being given in evidence 51. 

1 St Tr. 978. 


When Bromley reported this answer, instead of the proposed 
meeting being granted, her existence was considered incon- 
sistent with the public safety, and a determinatio'b. was formed 
to bring her to the scaffold. But this could only be carried 
into effect by great caution, and by waiting for, or contriving, 
or hasteniiig events, which should soften the atrocity of such 
an outrage in the eyes of mankind. 

In the meanwhile Bromley performed the routine duties of 
his office of Solicitor-General in a very satisfactory manner, 
and he was consulted by the Council in matters of a political 
nature, rather than Sir Gilbert Gerrard, the Attorney-General. 
Of him they were heartily tired, but they did not know how 
to dispose of him. for he would not give up his lucrative place 
to be made a puisne Judge, and his long services and re- 
spectable character forbade his unceremonious dismissal. 

Things proceeded on this footing till the death of Lorn 
Keeper Bacon, when, after the hesitation and struggle April 26, 
I have described, Bromley was put over the head of 15T9< 
Gerrard and made Lord Chancellor. 

Queen Elizabeth, when she delivered the Great Seal to him, 
addressed him in a set speech complimenting him on his good 
qualities, and giving him much wholesome advice as to the 
manner in which he ought to perform the duties of his new 
office. He thus replied : 

" I do most humblie thanke your Ma* for this so greate and singular 
good opynion which your Highnes hath conceived of me as to thinke me 
fyt for this greate service and credit under your Ma", and I am very sory 
there is not in me such sufficiency as might satisfie and answere this 
your Ma ic * good opynion. If I had all the wisdome, and all the learn- 
inge, and all other good qualities and virtues that God hath given to all 
men livinee, I should thinke them to fewe and to small to be imploied 
in your Highnes' service. But when I consider my selfe and fynde my 
greate wantes and lackes to do your Ma 16 such service as appeftayneth, 
I am driven most humbly to beseech your Ma* to tollerate with me my 
many and sondry defectes and ymjjerfections. To this humble petition 
I am the more forced for two other causes : the first is the greate learn- 
inge, wisdome, and judgmente that resteth in your Ma**, to whome my 
ignoraunce and rudeness will easily appere : the seconde is, that yf your 
Highnes shall ympose this greate charge uppon me, I shall succede one 
in whome all good qualities did abounde fyt for the due execution of 
your Ma' service in that place, wherby my want and insufficiency 
shalbe made more manifest. Yet nevertheles, trustinge in the assist- 
aunce of Almightie God, and in the noblenes and bounty of your Ma"' 
nature, 1 do, as my duty bindeth me, humblye submyt my selfe to he 
disposed of as shall stande with your Ma** good pleasure. * Concerning 

E 2 


these good pfeceptes and admonitions which it hath pleased your High- 
nes very prudentlie to give unto me, I shall pray ernestlie to Almightie 
God to give m his grace that I may follow the same, and do my best 
and uttermost endevor effectually to performe them." k 

Lord Chancellor Bromley, as an Equity Judge, followed in 
the footsteps of Lord Keeper Bacon, and gave almost as great 
satisfaction. Although he had previously practised princi- 
pally in the Court of Queen's Bench, from the time when he 
was made Solicitor-General he had been engaged in all the im- 
portant cases which occurred in Chancery, and he was well 
acquainted with the practice of the Court, which had now 
assumed considerable regularity. The common law Judges at 
this time were very distinguished men, Wray, Anderson, 
Manwood, Gawdey, Windham, Periam. The Chancellor 
showed much deference for their opinion, without hesitating 
to interfere by injunction where he thought that, from the de- 
fective or too rigid rules of the common law, justice was likely 
to be perverted. He professed to hold jurisdiction ovei 
" covin, accident, and breach of confidence," according to the 
rule that " matters cognisable by the common law ought not 
to be decided in Chancery," but by "cognisable" by the 
common law, he understood where by the common-law process 
truth could be effectually discovered, and right done to all 
parties interested. m He was likewise in the habit of calling 
in the assistance of common-law Judges when questions of 
novelty and difficulty arose before him ; and in this way the 
indecent contests which agitated the opposite sides of West- 
minster Hall in the succeeding reign were avoided. 

V " Egerton Papers," published by Camden paulisper contemplate esset prdm sigillum 

Society, p. 82. It is there supposed that precepit conjungi et in prdo loculo in coreo 

Bromley was first made Lord Keeper and af- insigillat. locari et extempore reponi in sac- 

tcrwards Lord Chancellor, and a speech is culum prdum ex purpureo veluto factum et 

given supposed to be spoken by him on the tunc pfEn in manu gua propria respidens 

former occasion; but the Close Roll demon- sa^ium ac ibidem in manibus suis ali- 

strates (hat he was constituted Lord Chancel- quant j sper retinens, illud et Mag. Sig. prdm 

lor when the Great Seal was first delivered in nobi ij um et egregiorum vrrorum Edward! 

to him, and the first speech can only be a Comitis Lincoln," &c. " presencia prfto ho- 

MS. sketch with which he was dissatisfied. UO rabili viro Thome Bromley militi tradidit 

The Close Koll takes no notice of these et deliberavit," &c. Then follows the usual 

speeches, but describes the melo-dramatic i angua g e> that he was constituted Chancellor 

part of the ceremony with great minuteness. wilh all thfi poven exorcised by his prede- 

" Quod antedictumjVIag. Sig. in binas separa- cessorSj and that llPi grat efully accepting the 

tim partes dicU Una Regina unam in sua Seal, carried it off and still retains it. Rot 

manu propria sublimitas tenuit partem et ci. 21 Eliz. See Gary's Reports, p. 108. 
prdus Comes Sussex alteram sua partem te- m See 4 ]nst. 83, 84. 
nuit manu Et cum prda Dna Regina in earn 


Bromley is not celebrated as a great jurist, or as being one 
of those who laid the foundation of our system of Equity : but 
while he held the Great Seal I find no trace of any complaint 
against him as a Judge, either on the ground of corruption, or 
usurpation, or delay ; and we may be sure if there had been 
abuse there would not have been silence, from the shout of 
discontent set up when a mere courtier was appointed to suc- 
ceed him. Camden describes him as " Vir jurisprudent 
insignis ; " aiid it was said of him that " such was his learning 
and integrity, that although he succeeded so popular a Judge 
as Sir Nicholas Bacon, the bar and the public were not sensible 
of any considerable change." 

He had to take his place on the woolsack in the House of 
Lords on the 16th of January, 1582. The Commons, AJ) 15g2 
in great perplexity on account of the death of their 
Speaker during the recess, sent a deputation to the Lord Chan- 
cellor and the Lords to request their aid and advice. The 
Lord Chancellor, having ordered them to withdraw, informed 
the House of their petition, and it was resolved to appoint 
such of the Lords as were of the Privy Council to go along 
with a select number of the Commons to represent the case to 
the Oueen. A commission thereupon passed the Great Seal 
authorising the Chancellor to require the Commons to choose 
a new Speaker. Popham, the Queen's Solicitor-General, was 
chosen accordingly and approved of. But when he claimed 
the accustomed privileges of the House, the Chancellor, by 
the Queen's order, gave him this admonition : " That the 
House of Commons should not deal or intermeddle with any 
matters touching her Majesty's person or estate, or Church 
government." n 

This injunction was not very strictly observed, especially 
by the Puritans, who now began to be very troublesome. 
Therefore as soon as a subsidy had been voted the session 
was closed, and the Lord Chancellor in his speech took care 
to exclude from the Queen's thanks " such members of the 
Commons as had dealt more rashly in some things than was 
fit for them to do." He soon afterwards dissolved this par- 
liament, which had been continued by prorogations during a 
period of eleven years. 

It is remarkable how few instances of poisoning or assas- 
sination occur in the history of England compared with that 
of France or the States of Italy. The reason may be, that 

" 1 I'arL HUt. 811. Ibid. 821. 


with, us parliament was a more ready and convenient instru- 
ment of vengeance than the bowl or the dagger, and the object 
of the ruling party could always be attained under the forms of 
law. The captive Queen of Scots, the presumptive heir to the 
(Jrown of England, had not only rendered herself odious and 
dangerous to Elizabeth, but the English ministers who had 
concurred in all the rigorous measures against her, were 
alarmed by the apprehension that, in case of any accident 
happening to the reigning Sovereign, she whom they had per- 
secuted might at once be taken from a prison and placed 
on the throne, the arbitress of their destiny. Leicester re- 
peatedly recommended that she should be taken off by poison, 
and, with all his profligacy, pretending a great regard for 
religion, defended the lawfulness of this expedient. The wary 
Burghley, consulting with the Chancellor, thought 
that it would be much better to proceed by act of 
parliament and a mock court of justice ; " thus they wotild 
make the burden better borne, and the world abrod better 
satisfy eed." p Accordingly, summonses were issued for a par 
liament to meet on the 23rd of November, 1585. 

Lord Chancellor Bromley opened the session with a speech 
stating that parliament was called to consider of a new law 
which had become necessary for the protection of her Majesty's 
person against the machinations of her enemies, and for 
securing the peace of the realm. q 

It was resolved that Mary should be brought to trial, but 
a great difficulty arose as to the tribunal before which she 
should be tried. The House of Peers, or a Lord High Steward's 
Court consisting of a selection of Peers, would have been very 
convenient ; but although of the blood royal of England, she 
was not an English peeress. A packed jury might easily have 
been impannelled to convict her ; but foreign powers would 
have exclaimed against a Sovereign Princess being condemned 
as if she were a common felon. Therefore a bill was imme- 
diately introduced, which speedily passed both Houses, enact- 
ing that a Court should be established, consisting of twenty- 
four at the least, whereof part should be of the Queen's Privy 
Council, and the rest Peers of the realm, to examine the 
offences of such as should make any open invasion or rebellion 
within the kingdom, or attempt hurt to the Queen's person, or 
any like offence, by or for any pretending title to the Crown. 
and that any such offender being convicted shall be disabled 

P Ellis, iii. 5. * 1 Parl. Hint. 831. 


to have or pretend title to the Crown, and shall be pursued to 
death by all the Queen's subjects." r 

Elizabeth was so much pleased to find her victim now at 
her mercy, that she would not trust the Lord Chancellor to 
return thanks, but herself said, ' My Lords, and ye of the 
Lower House, my silence must not injure the owner so much 
as to suppose a substitute sufficient to render you the thanks 
that my heart yieldeth you, not so much for the safe keeping 
of my life for which your care appears so manifest, as for the 
neglecting your private future peril, not regarding other way 
than my present state. Xo prince herein, I confess, can be 
surer tied or faster bound than I am with the link of your good 
will, and can for that but yield a heart and a head to seek for 
ever all your best." ' 

The Lord Chancellor now took an active part in the exa- 
mination and prosecution of Babington and his 
associates,' whose conspiracy had been under the 
superintendence of the Cabinet, and they being justly con- 
victed and executed, the time had arrived when proceedings 
might be taken against Mary herself, who was well aware 
of the plan to liberate her from imprisonment, but (as 1 
firmly believe) by no means of the intention to assassinate 
Elizabeth. A commission passed the Great Seal, appointing 
the Chancellor and forty-five others, Peers, Privy Councillors, 
and Judges, " a court to inquire into and determine all 
offences committed against the recent statute either by Marv, 
daughter and heiress of James V., late King of Scotland, or bv 
any other person whatsoever."" 

Mary had been removed to Fotheringay in Northampton- 
shire, the place selected for her trial and death. On the llth 
of October, thirty-six of the Commissioners, headed by Brom- 
ley, arrived there, and took the command of the Castle from 
Sir Aniias Paulet, who for some time had acted as her gaoler. 
The next day a letter from Elizabeth was delivered to her by 
a notary, announcing to her that she was to be tried. She 
said, " Let it be remembered that I am also a Queen, and not 
amenable to any foreign jurisdiction ; " and she referred to 
the protest she had before made to Sir Thomas Bromley when 
Solicitor-General. Lord President Bromley was much per- 
plexed ; for if she had refused to plead before the Commis- 
sioners, although they might have passed sentence upon h< r 
as contumacious, the proceeding would have lost all its dignity 

r 27 Eliz. c. 1. 1 Parl. Hist. 822. EUis, iii. 5. " Camden. 456. 


and effect. He prevailed upon Her to meet him and a deputa- 
tion of the Commissioners in a preliminary interview in the 
hall of the Castle to discuss the question of jurisdiction. He 
then pointed out to her that the commission under which they 
acted was fully authorised by the statute 27 Elizabeth. She 
maintained that this statute did not bind her ; that she was no 
party to it ; that it was contrived by her enemies, and passed 
for her ruin ; and that, as an independent Sovereign, she was 
not subject to English law. Bromley read to her a passage in 
Elizabeth's letter, explaining that, "as she lived under the 
protection of the Queen of England, she was bound to respect 
the law of England." She eagerly and repeatedly asked him 
what was the meaning of that part of Elizabeth's letter, and 
whether she was to be considered as protected when she was 
detained in England against her will, and kept in a state of 
rigorous imprisonment y The Lord President could only give 
her an evasive answer, saying that " the meaning was obvious 
enough, and that it was not for him to interpret the letter of 
his Sovereign, nor had he come there for that purpose." She 
said that his Sovereign was her equal, not her superior, and 
that she could not be lawfully tried till they found persons who 
were her peers. The baffled President urged that " neither 
her imprisonment nor her prerogative of Royal Majesty could 
exempt her from answering in this kingdom ; with fair words 
advising her to hear what matters were to be objected against 
her ; otherwise he threatened that by authority of law they 
both could and would proceed against her, though she were 
absent." She still answered, that " she was no subject, and 
rather would she die a thousand deaths than acknowledge 
herself a subject ; nevertheless she was ready to answer to all 
things in a free and full parliament. She warned them to 
look to their consciences, and to remember that the theatre of 
the whole world is much wider than the kingdom of Eng- 
land." The wily lawyer asked her " whether she would 
answer if her protestation were admitted." "I will never," 
said she, " submit myself to the late law mentioned in the 

Sir Christopher Hatton, one of the deputation, though then 
a gay young courtier, thought he might succeed better than 
the grave old Chancellor with all his saws, and begged her 
Majesty to call to mind that if she refused to plead, the world 
might put an unfavourable construction upon her conduct. 
whereas her reputation, to the general joy, might now be 


cleared from all suspicion. But no reasoning of the lawyers, 
no threat of proceeding against her for contumacy, not even 
the imputation cast upon her fame, could at that moment 
shake her resolution. The last consideration, however, so 
artfully thrown out by Sir Christopher Hatton, on reflection 
distressed her, and receiving a second letter from Elizabeth 
saying. '' Act candidly, and you may meet with more 
favour," she sent a message to Lord Chancellor Bromley that 
' she was willing to vindicate her innocence before the Com- 
missioners," and. their jurisdiction being acknowledged, the 
trial proceeded in due form. 

The Court assembled the next day in the Presence Chamber, 
the Lord Chancellor, as President, being seated on the right 
hand of a vacant throne, erected under a canopy of estate in 
honour of Elizabeth, and the other Commissioners on benches 
at the walls on both sides. The counsel for the Crown were 
stationed at a table at the lower end opposite the throne. The 
Queen of Scots entered, and occupied a chair placed for her 
near the middle of the room. 

Silence being proclaimed, the Lord President, turning to 
her, thus spoke: " The most high and mighty Queen Elizabeth 
being, not without great grief of miiid, advertised that you 
have conspired the destruction of her and of England, and the 
subversion of religion, hath out of her office and duty, lest she 
might seem to have neglected God, herself, and her people, 
and out of no malice at all, appointed these Commissioners to 
hear the matters that shall be objected unto you, and how you 
can clear yourself of them and make known your innocency." 
Mary, rising up, said that " she came into England to crave 
aid which had been promised her, and yet was she detained 
ever since in prison. She protested that she was no subject of 
Elizabeth, but had been and was a free and absolute Queen, 
and not to be constrained to appear before the Commissioners 
or any other Judge whatsoever, fur any cause whatsoever, save 
before God alone the highest Judge, lest she should prejudice 
her own royal majesty, the King of Scots her son, her succes- 
sors, or other absolute princes. But so protesting she now 
appeared personally to the end to refute the crimes objected 
against her. r ' 

The Lord President answered, " that this protestation was in 
vain, for that whosoever, of what place or degree soever, should 
offend against the laws of England in England, was .subject 
to the laws of England, and by the late act might be examined 


and tried ; the said protestation, therefore, so made in prejudice 
of the laws and Queen of England, was not to be admitted." 

She was about to withdraw, when, to secure the great ad- 
vantage they had gained by inducing her to plead, the Court 
ordered as well her protestation as the Lord President's answer 
to be recorded. 

Gawdey, the Queen's Serjeant, then opened the case against 
her, and adduced his proof's, consisting of copies of letters in 
cipher between her and Babington, and the alleged confessions 
and examinations of her secretaries Nau and Curie, and the con- 
fessions of Babington, and Ballard his associate. She asked 
that an advocate might be assigned to her to plead her cause, 
and this prayer being refused she defended herself with great 
spirit and presence of mind. 

Without formally admitting, she did not struggle against 
the charge of being privy to the plan for procuring her en- 
largement, and she contended that even consenting to a foreign 
invasion for this purpose would not subject her to the pains of 
treason. All complicity in the plot to assassinate Elizabeth 
she most solemnly, and earnestly, and with many tears, denied. 
This charge resting entirely on certain expressions in the copy 
of a letter she was supposed to have written in cipher to Ba- 
bington, and on the private depositions of her secretaries, 
she said her letter had been interpolated, and dared them to 
produce the original, she urged that if her secretaries had so 
deposed, it was from compulsion and to save their own lives, 
and she repeatedly required that they should be produced as 
witnesses, so that she might be confronted with them. 

Burghley, that he might not appear too conspicuous, had 
put forward the Chancellor and others as his puppets to move 
as he guided them, but he was in truth both the adviser and 
the conductor of the prosecution. Now becoming alarmed lest 
she should make an impression on some of her Judges, he 
superseded the Chancellor as well as Gawdey and the Attorney 
and Solicitor General, and himself undeitook to answer her, 
attempting to show the regularity of the proceedings, and the 
sufficiency of the proof against her. Still, not entirely trusting 
to his artful pleading, he did not venture to call for the verdict 
in her presence at Fotheringay, and at the end of the second 
day of the trial, the Court was adjourned to the 25th of Octo- 
ber, in the Star Chamber at Westminster." 

* In the reign of George III. it was justly the Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bvicb 
thought unconstitutional and improper that should be a member of the Cabinet, lest hf 


Then and there the Chancellor having taken his place as 
President, Nau and Curie were produced and examined, while 
the accused was immured in a distant prison, and the Com- 
missioners all agreed in a general verdict of guilty against her, 
with the exception of Lord Zouch, who was for acquitting her 
on the charge of assassination. 7 

But Elizabeth, though she had resolved that the sentence 
should be carried into execution, had to prepare the nation for 
this appalling step, and a few days afterwards parliament as- 
sembled. Thinking it not decent to appear in person, she was 
represented on the first day of the session by the Archbishop 
of Canterbury, Burghley, and the Earl of Derby. The letter 
patent appointing them being read, they left their places, and 
went to a seat prepared for them on the right side of the 
throne ; and then the Lord Chancellor Bromley, after going 
first to them and conferring with them, addressed the two 
Houses from his accustomed place to the following effect : 

" That the present parliament was summoned for no usual causes ; 
not for making new laws, whereof her Majesty thought there were more 
made than executed ; nor for subsidies with which, although there was 
some occasion for them, her Majesty would not burden her faithful sub- 
jects at this time, but the cause was rare and extraordinary ; of great 
weight, great peril, and dangerous consequence. He next declared what 
plots had been contrived of late, and how miraculously the merciful pro- 
vidence of God, by the discovery thereof, beyond all human policy, ha'd 
preserved her Majesty, the destruction of whose sacred person was most 
traitorously imagined, and designed to be compassed. He then showed 
what misery the loss of so noble a Queen would have brought to all 
estates : that, although some of these traitors had suffered according to 
their demerits, yet one remained, that, by due course of law, had re- 
ceived her sentence, which was the chief cause of this assembly and 
wherein her Majesty required their faithful advice." 2 

After the election and confirmation of the Speaker, the Lord 
Chancellor made another speech to the Lords, " setting forth 
the foul and indiscreet dealings practised by the Queen of 
Scots against her Majesty and the whole realm, notwithstanding 
the many great benefits and favours which had been bestowed 
upon her since her arrival in this kingdom." This perform- 
ance, however, was not at all satisfactory ; and the prime 
minister himself standing up, said : " The whole proceedings 

should sit as Judge on the trial of a prose- most valuable in the world, and he was at 

cation which, as minister, he had concurred once judge, jury, and prosecutor, 

in instituting. Upon the success of this pro- 1 I St. Tr. 1161. 

ecution depended Jil that Bnrghley beld * 1 ParL Hist 334. 


of the said Queen of Scots were better known to him from his 
having had the honour to serve her Majesty from the com- 
mencement of her reign ;" and he showed, at great length, the 
justice of the prosecution, and the necessity for carrying 
the sentence into effect. iS'o one ventured to say a word 
for the condemned criminal, or even to hint that she had not 
had a fair trial. 

Both Houses agreed upon an address to the Queen, which 
was delivered by the Lord Chancellor, urging that the sentence 
against the Queen of Scots might be immediately carried into 
execution ; " because, upon advised and grave consultation, 
we cannot find that there is any possible means to provide for 
your Majesty's safety, but by the just and speedy death of the 
said Queen, the neglecting whereof may procure the heavy 
displeasure and punishment of Almighty God, as by sundry 
severe examples of his great justice in that behalf, left us in the 
sacred Scriptures, doth appear ; and if the same be not put in 
present execution, we, your most loving and dutiful subjects, 
shall thereby (so far as man's reason can reach) be brought into 
utter despair of the continuance amongst us of the true religion 
of Almighty God, and of your Majesty's life, and of the safety 
of all your subjects, and the good estate of this most flourishing 
common wealth ." 

Elizabeth, in her answer, in justifying the recent statute, 
and the trial under it, fell foul of the poor Lord Chancellor 
and the gentlemen of the long robe: " You lawyers are so 
curious in scanning the nice points of the law, and proceeding 
according to forms rather than expounding and interpreting 
the laws themselves, that if your way were observed, she must 
have been indicted in Staffordshire, and have holden up her 
hand at the bar, and have been tried by a jury of twelve men. 
A proper way, forsooth, of trying a Princess ! To avoid, there- 
fore, such absurdities, I thought it better to refer the examina- 
tion of so weighty a cause to a select number of the noblest 
personages of the land, and the most learned of my Judges." 
However, she would not yet give a decisive answer as to the 
execution of the sentence ; but concluded with a prayer to 
Almighty God, so to illuminate and direct her heart, that she 
might see clearly what might be best for the good of his Church, 
and the prosperity of the commonwealth. 

This irresolution was affected, in the hope that Mary might 
!>L removed by a natural death, or some other means, so a.s to 

a 1 Hsrl. Hist. 8*2. 


avoid the odium to be incurred by beheading upon the scaffold 
a Queen, her guest, her nearest relative, and the heir Feb. i, 
presumptive to the throne ; but she at last signed the 1587 - 
warrant for Mary's execution, directed to the Earl of Shrews- 
bury, as Earl Marshal, and ordered it to be earned to the Great 
Seal by Davison, her secretary'. The Chancellor immediately 
appended the Great Seal to it ; and having informed Burghlej 1 
that the instrument was now perfect, a Council was called, and 
they unanimously resolved that it should be sent off imme- 
diately, on the ostensible ground that the Cmeen had done all 
the law required on her part, and that to trouble her further 
was needless, and would be offensive to her feelings. Bromley, 
being at the head of the administration of justice, incurred the 
greatest responsibility in taking this step ; but he considered 
himself safe in co-operating with Burghley, who had before 
settled with Elizabeth that Davison should be the scape-goat. 

In two days the warrant was executed, and Mary Stuart, in 
the last scene of her life, displayed such fortitude, composure, 
dignity, tenderness, kindness of heart, resignation, and piety, 
as to throw a shade over the errors she had committed, and to 
make us disposed to regard her as one less criminal than un- 
fortunate, and more to be pitied than condemned. 11 

Bromley, who presided at her trial, was soon to present 
himself with her at the bar of that great Judge to whom all 
secrets are known. He had suffered much anxiety while the 
prosecution was going on; he was deeply affected when he 
heard of the catastrophe ; and he felt dreadful alarm when he 
found that the Queen affected indignation and resentment 

t> I am far from being her indiscriminate ments of the upper classes may be learned 

defender, and I am sorry to acknowledge that from the unanimous petition of the two 

the proofs of her being privy to the murder Houses of parliament that the judgment 

of Darnley are quite overwhelming. Yet might be immediately carried into execution, 

her death was not creditable to the English The national character of Sc aland was 

nation. It was a national act. When the tarnished by the Scottish army delivering up 

judgment of the Commissioners was pro- her grandson, on condition that their arrears 

claimed in London by sound of trumpet, the of pay were discharged ; but this was the 

bells tolled merry peals for twenty-four tordid act of a few leaders, of which nil 

hours, bonfires blazed in the streets, and the Scotsmen have since been ashamed, while 

citizens appeared intoxicated with joy, as if the murder of Mary for political expedien.-y 

a great victory had been obtained over a has still defenders in England. If I am ac- 

foreign enemy. TLese rejoicings were re- cused of national prejudice in my strictures 

ioubled on the news of her execution. " La on the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. I 

nouvelle de cette execution vint a Londres ; will cite the words of Clarendon, a true Eng- 

furent sonnes les cloches de toutes les e"g!ises lishman, who describes it as a great blemish 

vingt-quatre heures durant, et sur le solr on Elizabeth's reign, and as " an unparalleled 

furent faites feux de joie par les rues de la act of blood upon the life of a crowned neigh- 

vil\.e." dlierre'3 Detpatch. The sentt- boor, queen, and ally." 


against all who were concerned in it. Suddenly he took to hia 
bed, and parliament meeting by adjournment on the 1 5th of 
February, no business could be done on that or the following 
day on account of his sickness, for which no provision had been 
made. On the 17th, Sir Edmund Anderson, Chief Justice of 
the Common Pleas, read publicly, in the House of Lords, a 
commission from the Queen, directed to himself, by which ho 
was authorised, in the absence of the Chancellor, to act in his 
stead ; and on the 23rd of March, by reason of the continued 
sickness of the Chancellor, the deputy closed the session and 
dissolved the parliament. 

Bromley never rallied, and on the 12th of April following 
he expired, in the fifty-eighth year of his age. The Close Eoll 
is quite pathetic in giving an account of the transmission of 
the Great Seal to the Queen on his demise. After stating that 
he breathed his last at three o'clock in the morning, and that 
the Queen, being informed of this event, ordered John For- 
tescue, Master of her Wardrobe, to go and fetch her the Great 
Seal, observes, that he proceeded to the house of the late Chan- 
cellor, and entering it between seven and eight o'clock, found 
a large number of distinguished persons bewailing the loss of 
so great a man. d 

From incidental notices of him by his immediate contem- 
poraries, he appears to have enjoyed considerable reputation 
in his own time, but afterwards he rather slipped from the re- 
collection of mankind. He had not the good fortune to have 
his life written by a secretary or relative, and not being a 
leader of any great political or religious party, he did not gain 
posthumous fame by being praised like Cranmer, or abused 
like Gardyner. He was too ready in seconding the measures 
of Burghley to get rid of a Popish successor to the Crown, who 
had such reason to be hostile to the ministers of Elizabeth, but 
he does not seem liable to any other censure ; and as an Equity 

c 1 Parl. Hist. 853. Court at Greenwich, waited with it in the 

d " Eodem die inter boras septimam et oc- Queen's outer chamber where he remained 

tavam ante meridiem ejusdem diei idem lo- for a little time, till her Majesty coming from 

hannes Fortescue ad domum dicti nuper her inner chamber where she had slept, re- 

Cancellarii veniens ac in diversorum genero- ceived it from his hands, and retained it in 

sorum mortem dicti nobilis viri plagentium her own custody. "Idem Johannes Fortoscue 

presencia," &c. It then goes on to narrate exteriorem privatam cameram dicte Dne Ke- 

how the Great Seal in its leather and velvet gine cum predlcto sigillo solus intravit ac 

bags under three private seals wa.* found ibidem paulisper moram faciens dicta sacra 

locked up in a chest, was delivered to For- Majestas Regina ab intcriore privata camera 

tescue, the Queen's messenger, by Henry ubi requiesccbat veniens," &c. Rot. Cl. 28 

Bromley, the eldest son of the Chancellor, Eliz. 
tiud how Fortescue arriving with it at the 


Judge he was regretted till the very conclusion of this reign, 
when Lord Ellesruere was placed in the marble chair, and so 
much adorned it. On one occasion he very creditably main- 
tained the independence of his office. Having refused, at the 
solicitation of Knyvet. a groom of the privy chamber, who had 
slain a man of the Earl of Oxford's in a brawl, to issue a special 
commission for his trial, Sir Christopher Hatton, in the Queen's 
name, sent him an order to do so. But he still resisted, show- 
ing that the interference was unconstitutional, and that thus to 
grant special commissions to humour the accused would lead 
to a failure of justice/ 

It ought likewise to be mentioned to his honour, that in an 
intolerant age he was free from religious bigotry, and that 
while Chancellor he exerted himself to soften the execution of 
the laws against heretics/ 

He was buried with great pomp in Westminster Abbey, 
where a magnificent monument was erected to his memory. 

By his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Adrian Fortescue, he 
left several sons ; but his male line failed in the fifth gene- 
ration, when the heiress of the family was married to John 
Bromley, of Thornheath Hall, in the county of Cambridge : 
and their son, Henry, having represented that county in 
several parliaments, was, in 1734, raised to the peerage bv 
King George II., under the title of Baron Montfort, being 
ancestor of the present Henry Bromley, Lord Montfort. 8 

e See Sir Harris Xicolas's Memoirs of Sir by gentle and by conference with 

Christopher Hatton, p. 256. some grave and learned men, she might be 

i Of this we have a striking proof in a persuaded and wonne (yf it male be), where- 

letter, dated July 1 , 1582, addressed by him of I have some good hope. I have therefore 

to the Bishop of Chester in favour of a Lady thought good to recommend her simpiicitie 

Egerton of Ridley, who had been sued in the to y* Lordship, and to pray you to use some 

Bishop s Court, and was in great danger of further tolleration with her until Candlemae 

the flames: next." Peck's Desiderata, vol. i. p. 122. 

"I have been acquainted with her longe, e See Grandeur of Law, ed. 1S43, by Mr. 

nd have alwaies known her in other respects Foss. Nash's History of Worcestershire, p. 

to be very well given, and in regard thereof 594, where there is a full pedigree of the 

do pitie her the more. 1 would be glade that Bromleys. 




ON the death of Lord Chancellor Bromley, Queen Elizabeth 
April 12, retained the Great Seal in her own custody above a 
1587. fortnight, while she deliberated upon the appoint- 
ment of his successor. During this interval, she thrice deli- 
vered it for the sealing of writs, commissions, and letters 
patent, to Lord Hunsdon, Burghley, and others ; and they 
having earned it into the Council Chamber, and sealed all the 
instruments with it which required immediate despatch, re- 
turned it into her Majesty's hands. h 

There was now much speculation at Court, in Westminster 
Hall, and in the City of London, as to who should be the 
new Chancellor. Easter term was going on without any one 
to preside in the Chancery or in the Star Chamber, or to super- 
intend the administration of justice. Opinions were divided 
between Serjeant Puckering, the Speaker of the House of 
Commons, Sir John Popham, the Attorney-General, and Sir 
Thomas Egerton, the Solicitor-General. The first was in the 
direct line of promotion to high legal dignities, and he had 
given great satisfaction from the manner in which he had 
managed the House of Commons, in the delicate affair of the 
Scottish Queen, and in repressing the motions of the Puritans. 
Popham, afterwards so much distinguished as Chief Justice, 
had now a high reputation for profound knowledge of the 
common law, and Egerton had given earnest of that intimate 
familiarity with the general principles of jurisprudence, which 
being fully developed when he became Lord Ellesmere, made 
him be considered as the earliest founder of our system of 

l> lidera nobiles viri dictum magnum runt et sic sigillum predictum ad presenciam 

sigillum sccuin portabant usque in Came- sue Majestatis in baga de velucto rubeo in- 

ram Cotisilii ibidem et permittebant sigil- rignii* sue Majegtatig decorate tulebant rf in 

lari omues tales litteras paientes commis- manus sue Majestatis redeliberabant. R. Cl. 

siones et brevia antedicta et sigillacione 29 KHz. 

finita sigillum predictum in bagam de coreo i Catnden says there was a speculation 

albo in qua antea Includebatur reponi pre- likewise at Court that Edward Karl cf Kut- 

ceperunt et cum sigillis eorum muniri fece- land, whom he describes as "juris scientift ct 


But what was the astonishment of courtiers, of lawyers, and 
of citizens, when, on Saturday the 29th of April, it was an- 
nounced that her Majesty had chosen for the Keeper of her 
conscience, to preside in the Chancery and the Star Chamber, 
and the House of Lords, and to superintend the administration 
of justice throughout the realm, a gay young cavalier never 
called to the bar, and chiefly famed for his handsome person, 
his taste in dress, and his skill in dancing, Sir C'HRISTOPHEI: 
HATTON ! ! ! 

In the long reign of Elizabeth, no domestic occurrence seems 
so strange as this appointment ; but, with the exception of 
her choice of Burghley for her minister, she was much influ- 
enced in the selection of persons for high employment by 
personal favour ; and on the same principle that Leicester was 
sent to command in the Low Countries, and Essex in Ireland, 
Hatton was placed at the head of the magistracy of the realm, 
because he was her lover. Burghley had resisted her pro- 
pensity on this occasion as far as his own safety would permit ; 
but considering that Hatton could never be dangerous to him 
as a rival for power, and that this freak would only be injurious 
to the administration of justice, which ministers often sacrifice 
to political convenience, he yielded, and joined in the effort to 
give eclat to the installation of the new Chancellor. We must 
proceed to trace the origin and history of this minion, that we 
may account for his extraordinary elevation. 

He was born in the year 1539. being the third and youngest, 
son of William Hatton, Esq., of Holdenby, in Northampton- 
shire, a family originally from Cheshire, of considerable anti- 
quity, but very moderate wealth. His father died when he 
was a child, and he had soon to lament the loss of his two 
elder brothers, so that when still very young he inherited the 
small patrimonial estate. Under the care of his mother he 
imbibed with difficulty, from a domestic tutor, the first rudi- 
ments of knowledge. He is said to have been idle and vola- 
tile, but to have been remarkable for good humour and vivacity, 
as well as for comeliness. 

At the age of fifteen he was entered a gentleman commoner 
at St. Mary Hall, Oxford. While at the university, he was 
exceedingly popular with his companions ; but he spent much 
more time in fencing and archery than in perusing Aristotle 

ornti politiori emditione ornatissimns." improbable, for he conki have had no pro- 

vtuld bo appointed Chancellor had he not fessional experience, and he was not a per- 

suddenly died; but this seems exceedingly sonal favourite. Camden, Bi.'t. *., 1475. 




and Aquinas, and from the fear of being plucked, he left Oxford 
without trying for a degree. 

Being intended for the bar, he was now transferred to the 
May 26, Inner Temple ; but it was said, that " he rather took 
1560. a k^ than made a meal at the inns of court, whilst 
he studied the laws therein." k He was, in truth, a noted 
roisterer and swash buckler, hearing the chimes at midnight, 
knowing where the bona robas were ; and sometimes lying all 
night in the Windmill, in St. George's Fields. But while he 
spent much of his time in dicing and gallantry, there were two 
amusements to which he particularly devoted himself, and 
which laid the foundation of his future fortune. The first was 
dancing, which he studied under the best masters, and in which 
he excelled beyond any man of his time. The other was the 
stage ; he constantly frequented the theatres, which, although 
Shakspeare was still a boy at Stratford-on-Avon, were beginning 
to nourish, and he himself used to assist in writing masques, 
and took a part in performing them. We first hear 
of his being admired as "Master of the Game" in a 
splendid masque with which the Inner Temple celebrated 
Christmas, and in which Lord Eobert Dudley, afterwards the 
Earl of Leicester and his rival in love, held the mimic rank of 
" Constable and Marshal." He was afterwards one of five 
students of the Inner Temple who wrote a play entitled 
"Tancred and Gismund," which was acted by that Society 
before the Queen." 

k When he became a great man, his flat- 
terers pretended that he never meant to 
make the law a profession, and that he was 
sent to an inn of court merely to finish his 
education in the mixed society of young men 
of business and pleasure there to be met 
with ; but there can be no doubt that it was 
intended that he should earn his bread by 
" a knowledge of good pleading In actions 
real and personal." 

m See Justice Shallow's career at the 
inns of court, Second Part Henry IV. act iii. 
sc. 2. 

n This piece was not printed till 1592. It 
then came out thus entitled : " The Tragedie 
of TANCKBD and G-ISMUKD, compiled by the 
gentlemen of the Inner Temple, and by them 
presented before her MAJESTIE. Newly re- 
vived, and polished according to the decorum 
of these dales, by R. W." This edition was 
by Robert Wilmot, who is often called the 
author of the tragedy, but there is no doubt 

that the five students contributed each an 
act. The future Lord Chancellor's contribu- 
tion was the fourth act, at the end of which 
there is this notice, "Composuit Chr. Hatton.' 
This edition is so scarce, and so much valued 
by book collectors, that a defective copy of it 
sells for ten guineas. There is one In the 
British Museum which belonged to Garrick. 

The story which has been the subject of so 
many poems and dramas is taken from the 
first novel of the fourth day of the Decameron. 
I am afraid that Hatton could not read Boc- 
caccio in the original, but he might find this 
fable in " Paynter's Collection," and in an old 
ballad printed by Wynkin de Worde in 15.')2. 

Sir Christopher's contribution being as yet 
the only tragic effort of a Lord Chancellor, I 
will offer the reader as a specimen the fourth 
scene of the fourth act, between Tancred and 
Guiozard, after the King has discovered the 
guilty loves of the Count and Sigisrouuda. 

A.D. 1564. 



He did not act in this piece himself; but his fashionable 
accomplishments and agreeable manners introducing AJ) 15g4 
him into the best company, he at last had a part 
assigned him in a masque at court, which gave him a very 
favourable opportunity to show off his accomplishments. 

The tender heart of Elizabeth was at once touched by his 
athletic frame, manly beauty, and graceful air ; and she openly 
expressed her high admiration of his dancing. An offer was 
instantly made by her to admit him of the band of gentlemen 
pensioners. He expressed great willingness to renounce all 
his prospects in the profession of the law, but informed her 
that he had incurred debts which were beginning to be trou- 
blesome to him. She advanced him money to pay them off 
at the same time (more suo) taking a bond and statute merchant 
to repay her when he should be of ability. He little thought 
he should ever hear of these securities, which afterwards were 

" Tuner. And durst then, villain, dare to 

Our daughter's chamber? Durst thy 
shameless face 

Be bold to kiss her ? th' rest we will con- 

Wherefore content thee that we are re- 

That thy just death, with thine effus'd 

Shall cool the heat and choler of our 

" Guioz. My Lord the King, neither do I 


Your sentence, nor do your smcaking sighs, 
Eeach'd from the entrails of your boiling 


Disturb the quiet of my calmed thoughts. 
Such is the force and endless might of 


As never shall the dread of carrion death, 
That hath envy'd our joys, invade my 


But unto her my love exceeds compare : 
Then this hath been my fault for which I 


That in the greatest lust of all my life 
I shall submit for her sake to endure 
The pangs of death. Oh, mighty lord of 


Strengthen thy vassal boldly to receive 
Large wounds into this body lor her sake ; 
Then use my life or death, my Lord and 


For your relief to ease your grieved soul ; 
Knowing by death I shall bewray the 

Of that fond heart, which living was her 

And died alive for her that lived mine." 

" Tancr. Thine, Palnrin? What I lives 

my daughter thine ? 
Traytor, thou wrong' st me, for she live:b 


Bather I wish ten thousand sundry deaths 

Than I to live and see my daughter thine.' ' 

[The King hasteth into hit palace. ,] 

" Guioz. (jo?u*). thon, great God, who 

from thy highest throne 
Hast stooped down and felt the force of 


Bend gentle ears unto the woful moan 
Of me, poor wretch, to grant that I require ; 
Help to persuade the same, great God, that 


So far remit his might, and slack his fire 
From my dear lady's kindled heart, that 


May hear my death without her hurt- 
Let not 

Her face, wherein there is as clear a light 
As in the rising moon, let not her cheeks 
As red as is the party-colour'd rose, 
Be paled with the news hereof : and so 
I yield myself, my silly soul, and all, 
To him, for her for whom my death shall 


I Hv'd ; and as I liv'd I dy'd, her thrall." 
Act iv. sc. 4. 

There is a chorus somewhat after the 
Greek fashion, and the tragedy is a curious 
illustration of the state of the drama in Kng- 
land in the beginning of Qoeen Elizabeth's 
reign ; although we shall iu vain lock in it 
for such felicity of thought and haniionv of 
numbers as in Dryden's exquisite poiu of 
" Sigismonda and Guiscardo." 

s 2 


supposed to have contributed to his death; and before he 
had even reached the degree of apprentice or utter barrister, 
he joyfully transferred himself from, his dull chambers in the 
Temple to a gay apartment assigned him in the Palace, near 
the Queen's. He was at first only a gentleman pensioner, or 
private in the body-guard/ but being henceforth the reigning 
favourite, his official promotion was rapid. He was succes- 
sively made a gentleman of the Queen's privy chamber, captain 
of the band of gentlemen pensioners, Vice-Chamberlain, and a 
member of the Privy Council, at last receiving the honour of 
knighthood, which was then considered as great a distinction 
as a peerage is now. q He likewise obtained royal grants of 
houses in London, and of lands in Pembrokeshire, Dorsetshire, 
Leicestershire, and Yorkshire. 

This delight of the Queen to honour and enrich him caused 
much envy and some scandal. Complaints were uttered, that 
under the existing government nothing could be obtained by 
any others than " dancers and carpet knights such as the 
Earl of Lincoln and Master Hatton, who were admitted to the 
Queen's privy chamber." r Sir John Perrot, a stout soldier, 
could not conceal his indignation, when he found himself 
neglected for one who he was used to say " came into court by 
the gdliard, coming thither as a private gentleman of the Inns 
of Court, in a masque, and for his activity and person, which 
was tall and proportionable, taken into favour." * Elizabeth's 
undisguised partiality for the new favourite naturally excited 
the jealousy of Leicester, and in ridicule of the accomplish- 
ment which had in this instance excited her admiration, he 
proposed to introduce to her a dancing master who outdid all 
that had been before seen in this department of genius : but 
her Majesty, drawing a proper distinction between the skill of 
a professional artist and of an amateur, exclaimed " Pish ! I 
will not see your man ; it is his trade ! " 

The Vice-Chamberlain, on account of his dancing propensity, 
was particularly obnoxious to the Puritans ; and Burchet, a 
student of the Middle Temple, one of the leaders of this sect, 
in a fit of religious enthusiasm resolved to kill him, but by 
mistake murdered, first, in the public street, Hawkins, an 

P There is extant a warrant, dated June paying according to the just value thereof." 
30, 15G4, from the Queen to the Master of 1 The Secretary of State and the Treasurer 

the Armoury, commanding him " to cause to of the Household were knighted along with 

be mads one armour complete, fit for the him by the Queen at Winil>or. 
body of our well-beloved servant Christopher r Murdin, 124-210. Camden, 264. 
Haiton, o:ie of our gentlemen pensioners, he Naunton. 


officer, and then Longworth, the keeper of a house in which 
he was confined. ' 

But Hatton, though so lightly esteemed by the multitude, 
began to feel the stings of ambition as well as love ; and in 
spite of his want of book-learning, from his natural shrewdness 
and mother wit, he had a considerable aptitude for business. 
He was returned to parliament for Higham Ferrars, and with 
a little practice in speaking, he became a popular and useful 
debater. Such a position did he acquire that on Cecil's eleva- 
tion to the peerage, having become member for Northampton- 
shire, his native county, he was the organ of the government 
in the Lower House, and with the assistance of the Speaker 
managed it according to the Queen's directions. ^\ hen Went- 
worth the Puritan made his famous speech, which 
'gave such offence to the courtiers, Hatton moved his 
commitment to the Tower, and afterwards brought down the 
message from her Majesty, that "whereas a member had 
uttered divers offensive matters against her for which he had 
been imprisoned, yet she was pleased to remit her justly oc- 
casioned displeasure, and to refer his enlargement to the 
house ; " whereupon, after an admonition from the Speaker, 
he was set at liberty. u 

Our senator, however, continued sedulously to practise the 
arts by which he first established himself in the royal favour. 
At court balls he danced with the same spirit as ever, and he 
particularly distinguished himself as one of the challengers in 
"a solemn tournay and barriers " before the Queen at West- 
minster his colleagues being the Earl of Oxford, Mr. Charles 
Howard, and Sir Henry Lee, " who did very valiantly.'' x 
Yearly he presented the Queen with a new-year's gift, such 
as ''a jewel of pizands of gold adorned with rubies and 
diamonds and flowers set with rubies, with one pearl pendent 
and another at the top. " J In return he received a present of 

The unhappy man was evidently insane, Mr. Charles Pnrton Cooper. He says that the 

but in those days they did not stand on such combatants fought "a la pique et a 1'epee, a 

a nicety as criminal responsibility. He was la barriere." " Le Compte d'Oxford avoit 

convicted and executed. Camden, 234. dresse la partie, lequel, avec Sire Charles 

u 1 Parl. Hi:r I Havart, Sire Henry Lay, et M. HATTOX, ont 

* Nichol's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, e'te' los quatre tenans centre aultres vingt sept 

There is a particular description of this pas- gentishomnies, de bonne mayson, assaillans, 

sage of arms in the Despatches of Dt la Mothe et n'y est ad^enu nul inconvenient" .\ote 

Fenelon, the French ambassador at the Court to 4th Fdition. 
of Elizabeth, lately published by the French 7 New Year's Day, 1572. 
Government, under the direction of my friend 


silver-gilt plate ; and it is remarkable that while the portion 
of other courtiers never exceeded two hundred ounces, and 
was seldom more than fifty, his never fell short of four 
hundred. z 

These marks of fondness gave rise to malicious whispers 
about the Court ; and among the vulgar the Queen was 
openly charged with lavishing her favours on the Vice- 

One Mather made a traitorous speech before a large as- 

A D 1571 sem bly of people, in which he said, " The Queen de- 
sireth nothing but to feed her own lewd fantasy, and 
to cut off such of her nobility as are not perfumed and court- 
like to please her delicate eye, and to place such as are for 
her turn, dancers, who have more recourse unto her Majesty 
in her privy chamber than reason would suffer if she were so 
1572 vrr tuous and well inclined as some noise her." a In 
a letter written soon after by Archbishop Parker to 
Burghley, he gives information that a man examined by the 
Mayor of Dover and another magistrate, " uttered most 
shameful words against the Queen's Majesty, namely, that 
the Earl of Leicester and Mr. Hatton should be such towards 
her as the matter is so horrible that they would not write 
down the wards, but would have uttered them in speech to 
your Lordship if ye could have been at leisure." b 

Hatton, who for a time had triumphed over Leicester, being 
himself neglected for the eccentric, but young, handsome, and 
accomplished Earl of Oxford, was thrown into a state of deep 
despondency, and imparted to his bosom friend Mr. Edward 
Dyer a resolution he had formed to reproach Elizabeth for her 
inconstancy. He received a very long letter in answer, con- 
taining the following sage reflections and advice : 

" One that standeth by shall see more in the game than one that is 
much more skilful, whose mind is too earnestly occupied. First of all, 
you must consider with whom you have to deal, and what we be 
towards her ; who though she do descend very much in her sex as a 
woman, yet we may not forget her place, and the nature of it as our 
Sovereign. Now if a man, of secret cause known to himself, might in 
common reason challenge it, yet if the Queen mislike thereof, the world 
followeth the sway of her inclination ; and never fall they in considera- 
tion of reason, as between private persons they do. And if it be after 

See lists of royal presents, Nichol's Pro- b Strype's Life of Archbishop 1'arkcr, u. 
greases, vols. ii. and iii. a Murdin, p. 204. 127. 


that rate for the most part in causes that may be justified, then much 
more will it be so in causes not to be avouched. A thing to be had in 
regard ; for it is not good for any man straitly to weigh a general dis- 
allowance of her doings. That the Queen will mislike of such a course, 
this is my reason : she will imagine that you go about to imprison her 
fancy, and to warp her grace within your disposition ; and that will 
breed despite and hatred in her towards you : and so you may be cast 
forth to the malice of every envious person, flatterer, and enemy of 
yours ; out of which you shall never recover yourself clearly, neither 
your friends, so long as they show themselves your friends. But the 
best and soundest way in mine opinion is, to put on another mind ; to 
use your suits towards her Majesty in words, behaviour, and deeds ; to 
acknowledge your duty, declaring the reverence which in heart you 
bear, and never seem deeply to condemn her frailties, but rather joy- 
fully to condemn such things as should be in her, as though they 
were in her indeed; hating my Lord of Ctm, c in the Queen's" under- 
standing for affection's sake, and blaming him openly for seeking the 
Queen's favour. For though in the beginning when her Majestv 
sought you (after her good manner), she did bear with rugged dealing 
of yours until she had what she fancied, yet now, after satiety and 
fulness, it will rather hurt than help you ; whereas, behaving yourself 
as I said before, your place shall keep yon in worship, your presence 
in favour, your followers will stand to you, at the least you shall have 
no bold enemies, and you shall dwell in the ways to take all advan- 
tages wisely, and honestly to serve your turn at times. 

" You may perchance be advised and encouraged to the other way 
by some kind of friends that will be glad to see whether the Queen will 
make an apple or a crab of you, which, as they find, will deal ac- 
cordingly with you ; following if fortune be good ; if not, leave, and go 
to your enemy : for such kind of friends have no commodity In- 
hanging in suspense, but set you a fire to do off or on, all is ore 
to them ; rather liking to have you in any extremity than in any good 
mean." d 

Hatton accordingly wrote a long and respectful letter to the 
Queen, in which, he does not allude to the new favourite, but 
supposes that he has fallen into disfavour fur imputed faults of 
his own, " un thankfulness, covetousness, and ambition." 
Against these he proceeds to justify himself: 

" To the first, I speak the truth before God, that 1 have most entirely 
loved your person and service ; to the which, without exception, I have 
everlastingly vowed ray whole life, liberty, and fortune. Even so am I 
yours, as, whatever God and you should have made me, the same had 
been your own ; than which I could, nor any can, make larger recom- 

c Oxford d Harleian MSS. 78*. foL 88. 


pense. This I supposed to have been the true remuneration of greatest 
good turns, because I know it balanceth in weight the greatest good 
wills. Neither hath the ceremony of thanksgiving any way wanted, 
as the world will right fully witness with me ; and therefore in righte- 
ousness I most humbly pray you condemn me not. Spare your poor 
prostrate servant from this pronounced vengeance." 

After showing, at great length, that he had " ever found her 
largess before his lack, in such plenty as he could wish no 
more," and that he had "never sought place but to serve 
her," he goes on to say, 

" Believe not, I humbly beseech you for your wisdom and worthi- 
ness, the tale so evil told of your most faithful : be not led by lewd- 
ness of others to lose your own, that truly loveth you. These most 
unkind conceits wonderfully wring me : reserve me more graciously to 
be bestowed on some honourable enterprise for you ; and so shall 1 die 
a most joyful man and eternally bound to you. But would God I 
might win you to think well according with my true meaning ; then 
should I acquiet my mind, and serve you with joy and further hope of 
goodness. I pray God bless you for ever. 

" Your despairing most wretched bondman, 


^Nevertheless, the Earl of Oxford was preferred till Hatton 
fell into a serious illness, which revived the Queen's 
affection for him. 

The Court scandal of that day is recorded in a very lively 
letter written by Gilbert Talbot to his father the Earl of 
Shrewsbury : 

" My Lord of Oxford is lately grown into great credit ; for the 
Queen's Majesty delighteth more in his personage, and his dancing and 
valiantness, than any other. At all these love matters my Lord Trea- 
surer winketh, and will not meddle any way. Hatton is sick still : it 
is thought he will very hardly recover his disease, for it is doubted 
it is in his kidneys : the Queen goeth almost every day to see hi.w 
he doth." 

lie slowly recovered, and Talbot in another letter, after 
stating that the Queen had postponed a projected progress to 
Bristol, adds, " Mr. Hatton, by reason of his great sickness, is 
minded to goto the Spa for the better recovery of his health." 
Strype says, "Mr. Hatton (not well in health) took this op- 
portunity to get leave to go to the Spa, and Dr. Julio (a giv.-it 
Court physician) with him; whereat the Queen showed her- 


self very pensive, and very unwilling to grant him leave, for 
he was a favourite."" 

However, on the 29th of May, an order was made by the 
Privy Council for allowing Hatton " to pass over the seas for 
recovery of his health." and having taken a tender leave of 
Elizabeth he proceeded on his journey in company with Dr. 
Julio, on the 3rd of June following. 

During their separation, the lovers kept up a constant cor- 
respondence. All her letters are unfortunately lost, but the 
originals of many of his have lately been discovered in the 
State Paper Office written in the style of an ardent and suc- 
cessful admirer to his mistress his passion being rendered 
more romantic by distance and illness. She had given him 
the pastoral name of " Lydds," and they had agreed on certain 
ciphers expressing sentiments of endearment, the exact mean- 
ing of which is not disclosed to us. Here is his first, written 
to her only two days after their separation, showing that he 
had received several from her in the interval : 


" If I could express my feelings of your gracious letters, I should 
utter unto you matter of strange effect. In reading of them, with my 
tears I blot them. In thinking of them I feel so great comfort, that I 
find cause, as God knoweth, to thank you on my knees. Death had 
been much more my advantage than to win health and life by so loath- 
some a pilgrimage. The time of two days hath drawn me further from 
you than ten, when I return, can lead me towards you. Madam, I find 
the greatest lack that ever poor wretch sustained. Xo death, no, not 
hell, no fear of death shall ever win of me my consent so far to wrong 
myself again as to be absent from you one day. God grant my return. 
I will perform this vow. I lack that I live by. The more I find this 
lack, the further I go from you. Shame whippeth me forward. Shame 
take them that counselled me to it. The life (as you will remember) is 
too long that loathsomely lasteth. A true saying, Madam. Believe 

e Strype, it 449. 


him that hath proved it. The great wisdom I find in your letters, with 
your Country counsels, are very notable, but the last word is worth the 
Bible. Truth, truth, truth. Ever may it dwell in you. I will ever 
deserve it. My spirit and soul (I feel) agreeth with my body and life, 
that to serve you is a heaven, but to lack you is more than hell's tor- 
ment unto them. My heart is full of woe. Pardon (for God's sake) 
my tedious writing. It doth much diminish (for the time) my great 
griefs. I will wash away the faults of these letters with the drops from 
your poor Lydds and so inclose them. Would God I were with you 
but for one hour. My wits are overwrought with thoughts. I 
find myself amazed. Bear with me, my most dear sweet Lady. Passion 
overcometh me. I can write no more. Love me ; for I love you. 
God, I beseech thee witness the same on the behalf of thy poor ser- 
vant. Live for ever. Shall I utter this familiar term (farewell) ? yea, 
ten thousand thousand farewells. He speaketh it that most dearly 
loveth you. I hold you too long. Once again I crave pardon, and so 
bid your own poor Lidds farewell. 1573 June. 

" Your bondman everlastingly tied, 


He wrote her a long letter on his arrival at Antwerp, in 
which he says, 

" This is the twelfth day since I saw the brightness of that Sun that 
June 17, giveth light unto my sense and soul. I wax an amazed crea- 
1573. ture. Give me leave, Madam, to remove myself out of this 
irksome shadow, so far as my imagination with these good means may 
lead me towards you, and let me thus salute you : Live for ever, most 
excellent creature ; and love some man, to show yourself thankful for 
God's high labour in you. I am too far off to hear your answer to this 
salutation ; I know it would be full of virtue and great wisdom, but I 
fear for some part thereof I would have but small thanks. Pardon me ; 
I will leave these matters, because I think you mislike them. But, 
Madam, forget not your Lydds that are so often bathed with tears for 
your sake. A more wise man may seek you, but a more faithful and 
worthy can never have you. Pardon me, iny most dear sweet Lady, I 
will no more write of these matters. I wish you like welfare your pre- 
sence might give me ; it is, I assure you, the best farewell that evei 
was given you." g 

From Spa his letters are equally amorous. In one he 

" It might glad you (1 speak without presumption), that you live so 
dearly loved with all sincerity of heart and singleness of choice. I love 
yourself. I cannot lack you. I am taught to prove it by the wish and 

e Autograph in the State Paper Office. No address or superscription. 


desire I find to be with you. Believe it, most gracious Lady, there is 
no ittiol m it ius, you are" the true felicity that in this world I know or 
find. God bless" you for ever. Pardon me, most humbly on my knees 
I beseech you. The abundance of my heart carrieth me I know not to 
what purpose ; but guess you (as the common proverb is), and I will 
c-rant. I suess by my servant you should not be well, which troubleth 
me greatly: I humbly pray you that I may know it, for then will I 
presently come, whatever befal me. Humbly on the knees of my soul, 
J pray God bless you for ever. Your slave and EveB h your own, 

Hatton returned to England in the autumn of the same year, 
when Elizabeth was so much alarmed by the attempt made 
upon his life by Burchet, the fanatical Puritan, that she could 
hardly be prevented from issuing a commission for executing 
the offender by martial law. 

Oxford was now discarded, and she continued steadily at- 
tached to Hatton for some years. In the following summer 
she accomplished her visit to Bristol accompanied by him, and 
she issued a mandate to the Bishop of Ely to alienate to him 
the greatest part of the ground in Holborn belonging to that 
see. The Bishop at first promising to do so, and then plead- 
ing scruples of conscience, she sent him this reprimand : 

" Proud Prelate ! I understand you are backward in complying with 
your agreement, but I would have you know, that I who made you 
what you are, can unmake you ; and if you do not forthwith fulfil your 
engagement, by God I will immediately unfrock you. 

" Yours, as you demean yourself, 


This menace had the desired effect, and where grew the 
famous strawberries so much praised by Eichard III. now 
stands " Hatton Garden." 

Notwithstanding these grants, the favourite, from his ha- 
bitual extravagance, being still embarrassed, we find, soon 
after, a royal mandate to Burghley, requiring him " to apply 
50J. as he might think most fit for her to part with to the use 

b The E and R are capitals, and are so JElizabetha .Regina. 

written by him in subsequent letters, evi- i Autograph in the State Paper Office 
demly in allusion to the (Queen's initials. 


of Hatton, for that she is content to bestow so much on him 
presently towards the payment of his debts." k 

Now he received his appointment of Vice-Chamberlain, and 
Nov 1577 being sworn of the Privy Council, he became what 
' we should call a Cabinet Minister. The existing dis- 
tinction, between the " Household " and the " Cabinet," which 
even requires that the Lord Chamberlain, the Lord Steward, 
and the Master of the Horse shall withdraw when the Queen's 
speech is to be read in Council for her approval, was then un- 
known ; and all privy councillors were summoned to deliberate 
on important affairs of state in the presence of the sovereign. 
Hatton was chiefly relied upon for making any communi- 
Apni, cation to the Queen of peculiar delicacy. Thus the 
1578. Prime Minister writes to him, begging him to sug- 
gest to her that the only cure for a tooth-ache, from which 
she then suffered, was to have the tooth extracted, informa- 
tion which her physicians were afraid to communicate to her, 
chloroform being then unknown. 

" Mr. Vice-Chamberlain, I heard of her Majesty's indisposition by 
some pain in her head; and then how can any of her poor members, 
having life by her as our head, be without pain ? If my coming thither 
might either diminish her pain, or be thought convenient, I would not be 
absent ; although in grief I am present, and do most heartily beseech 
God to deliver her from all grief, praying you to let me know of her 
Majesty's amendment : not doubting but you are careful by the physi- 
cians to provide the remedy, which is said to be only the withdrawing 
of some one tooth that is touched with some humorous cause, and, 
except that be removed, her Majesty's pain shall not be quit. And 
though her Highness doth not or will not so think, yet I assure you it is 
said that the physicians do of knowledge affirm it, howsoever they for- 
bear to impart it unto her. Besides my prayer, I cannot tell what to 
yield for her Majesty's ease more than this information ; praying you to 
examine the truth, and further truth to her Majesty's service, and to 
her ease in this point. 21st April, 1578. 

" Yours assuredly, 


The Earl of Leicester writes to him. in a strain which shows 
that, though rivals, they were now friends. The Queen be- 
ing on a visit at Wanstead, while the gallant host was kept at 
a distance by illness, he thus addresses the Vice Chamberlain, 
who was in waiting upon her : 

k 12 Dec. 1571. Lansdowne M.SS. 18, art. 96. 


'* I humbly thank God to hear of the increase of her Majesty's good 
health, and am most glad that she took that happy medicine that 
wrought so well with her, as I perceive by your letter it did. I trust it 
will help to prolong and perfect that which we all daily pray for. I 
hope now, ere long, to be with you, to enjoy that blessed sight which I 
have been so long kept from. A few of these days seem many years, 
and I think I shall feel a worse grief ere I seek so far a remedy again." 

Xay. Leicester soon after, having quarrelled with Elizabeth, 
employs Hatton to soothe the Queen, and to excuse 
his absence from. Court : 

" I do most earnestly desire you to excuse me that I forbear to come, 
being as I wrote to you this morning troubled and grieved both in heart 
and mind. I am not unwilling, God knows, to serve her Majesty, 
wherein I may, to the uttermost of my life, but most unfit at this time 
to make repair to that place where so many eyes are witnesses of my 
open and great disgraces delivered from her Majesty's mouth." 

Hatton soon after incurred much discredit by taking a very 
active part in prosecuting what was called " a seditious libel,"' 
being a pamphlet showing the dangers which would arise to 
the state from the Queen's proposed marriage with the Duke 
of Anjou. Stubbes the author, and Paget the publisher, were 
condemned to lose their right hands, and to suffer peipetual 
imprisonment. Camden, who was present, says that ' their 
right hands were cut off with a cleaver, driven through the 
wrist with the force of a beetle." Stubbes, in hopes of a 
remission of the rest of the sentence, soon wrote a letter to the 
Yice-Chainberlain. in which he says, " the judgment-seat 
which gave sentence against my fault, will yet testify my 
humble and dutiful reverence throughout all my defence and 
answering for myself. The scaffold of execution can witness 
my loyal care to give all good example of meet obedience ; 
insomuch as, notwithstanding the bitter pain and doleful loss 
of my hand immediately before chopped off, I was able, by 
God's mercy, to say with heart and tongue, before I left the 
block, the^e words, ' God save the Queen ! * ' 

Ytt Hatton himself, on every account, highly disapproved 
of the French match, and actually took a prominent 
part in breaking it off. He is represented as having 
then assisted Elizabeth to answer the reproaches of her dis- 
carded suitor, by a speech which few would have ventured to 
make in her hearing ; for he pointed out the disparity of age 
between them, and the improbability of her having issue if 


she were to marry. The Puke declared that " the women 
of England were as changeable and capricious as the waves 
which encircled their island." m 

Yet Sir Christopher himself continued, now and long after, 
to address her as a lover. 


"I most humbly with all dutiful reverence beseech your sacred 
Majesty to pardon my presumption in writing to your Highness. Your 
kingly benefits, together with your most rare regard of your simple and 
poor slave, hath put this passion into me to imagine that for so exceeding 
and infinite parts of unspeakable goodness I can use no other means of 
thankfulness than by bowing the knees of my own heart with all 
humility to look upon your singular graces with love and faith per- 

" I should sin, most gracious Sovereign, against a holy ghost most 
damnably, if towards your Highness I should be found unthankful. 
Afford me the favour, therefore, most dear Lady, that your clear and 
most fair eyes may read and register these my duties, which I beseech 
our God to requite you for. 

" The poor wretch my sick servant receiveth again his life, being as 
in the physician's opinion more than half-dead, through your most 
princely love of his poor Master, and holy charitable care, without 
respect of your own danger, of the poor wretch. We have right Chris- 
tian devotion to pray for your Highness, which God for His mercy's 
sake kindle in us for ever to the end of our lives. 

" I should not dissemble, my dear Sovereign, if I wrote how unplea- 
sant and froward a countenance is grown in me through my absence from 
your most amiable and royal presence, but I dare not presume to trouble 
your Highness with my not estimable griefs, but in my country I dare 
avow this fashion will full evil become me. I hope your Highness will 
pardon my unsatisfied humour, that knoweth not how to end such com- 
plaints as are in my thoughts ever new to begin ; but duty shall do me 
leave off to cumber your heavenlike eyes with my vain babblings. 
And, as most nobly your Highness preserveth and royally conserveth 
your own poor creature and vassal, so shall he live and die in pure and 
unspotted faith towards you for EveR. God bless your Highness with 
long life, and prosper you to the end in all your kingly affairs. At 
Bedford, this Wednesday morning, September, 1580. Would God I 
were worthy to write 

" Your bounden slave, 

"Cim. HATTOX."" 

m Camden, 375. n Original in State Paper Office. 


Still more strange is the following letter, written in a time 
of epidemic sickness by him to the confidant of Elizabeth and 
himself, Sir Thomas Heneage, evidently intended to be shown 
to her. I hardly venture to copy it, and have not the courage 
to comment upon it : 

" My good Sir Thomas, I thank you much for your happy letters, 
assuring ~our dear Mistress her present health unto me ; pray God con- 
tinue it" for Eve P. I have one servant yet free of infection, which I 
trust I may use to deliver my care and duty, to my singular comfort 
and satisfaction. I have presumed to send him, that I may daily know 
either by my own or yours the true state of our Mistress, whom through 
choice I love no less "than he that by the greatness of a kingly birth and 
fortune is most fit to have her. "l am likewise bold to commend my 
most humble duty by this letter and ring, which hath the virtue to 
expel infectious airs, and is, as is tailed to me, to be wearen betwixt the 
sweet dugs, the chaste nest of most pure constancy. I trust, Sir, when 
the virtue is known, it shall not be refused for the value." 

In recompense for this charm, he received from the Queen 
a very tender epistle, which revived his romantic passion to 
its pristine fervour, and he is again her "Lyds" and her 


A A 

" The gracious assurance which your Highness's grave letters do most 
liberally give me of your singular favour and inestimable 
goodness. I have received on my knees with such reverence ^ >t " 
as becometh your most obliged bondman ; and with like humility, in 
my most dutiful and grateful manner, I do offer in God's presence 
myself, my life, and all that I am or is me, to be disposed to the ecd, 
and my death to do your service, in inviolable faith and sincerity. 

" The cunning of your Highness' style of writing, with the convey- 
ance of your rare sentence and matter, is exceedingly to be liked of; but 
the subject which it hath pleased your Majesty to endite for my parti- 
cular, exceedeth all the eloquence, yea, all the eloquence of the world. 
Your words are sweet, your heart is full of rare and royal faith : the 
writing of your fair hand, directed by your constant and sacred heart, 
do raise in ine joy unspeakable. Would God they did not rather puff 
up my dejected spirits with too much pride and hope. I most humbly 
thank God for these admirable gifts in your Majesty ; they exceed and 
abound towards your Highness unequally in the measure of His. graces 

o Original in Hartdan MSS. 4)6, L 200. 


amongst men, so far as, God knoweth, there is not your like. I crave 
most humbly your gracious favour and pardon for the offence I have 
made you. Frogs, near the friends where I then was, are much more 
plentiful, and of less value, than their fish is ; and because I knew that 
poor beast seasonable in your sight, I therefore blindly entered into that 
presumption, but Misericordia tua super omnia opera tua. 

" God bless your Highness in all your kingly affairs, and direct them 
through your wonted wisdom in that course that shall EveR succeed to 
your comfort. I find the gracious sign of your letters of most joyful 
signification, and the abbreviation of delays will breed a much more 
delightful hope in that great cause. p Against love and ambition your 
Highness hath holden a long war ; they are the violent affections that 
encumber the hearts of men : but now, my most dear Sovereign, it is 
more than time to yield, or else this love will leave you in war and dis- 
quietness of yourself and estate, and the ambition of the world will be 
most maliciously bent to encumber your sweet quiet, and the happy 
peace of this most blessed Kealm. I pray God bless your kingly reso- 
lutions what EveR. I trust your Highness will pardon this part of my 
presumption, because your little $ siphere hath proffered the occasion. 
And so your Highness' most humble Lydds, a thousand times more 
happy in that you vouchsafe them yours, than in that they cover 
and conserve the poor eyes, most lowly do leave you in your kingly 
seat in God's most holy protection. Your Majesty's Sheep and most 
bound vassal, 

" CHR. HATTON." > 

Hatton seems now to have enjoyed a great influence over 
April, the Queen, and to have lived very quietly for some 
1584. y ear s, often receiving letters from Bishops and Arch- 
bishops, as well as from lay courtiers, praying him to inter- 
cede with her Majesty in their behalf. However, he suffered 
such ill-usage from her again that he withdrew from Court to 
his house at Holdenby in Northamptonshire, where he re- 
mained in great sorrow and perplexity many days. At last 
she took compassion upon him, and sent a kind message beg- 
ging him to return. Thereupon he wrote her the following 
letter full of humility and contrition, yet showing a deep sense 
of her arbitrary and capricious demeanour : 

" On the knees of my heart, most dear and dread Sovereign Majesty, 
I beseech pardon and goodness at your princely hands. I fear I offend 
you in lack of attendance on your princely presence, wherein, before our 
God, frowardness and obstinacy of mind are as far from me as love rad 
duty would have them ; but that the griefs and sorrows of my soul no 

These and other allusions in this letter are very obscure 
q Autograph in the State Paper Oflico. 


oppress me as I cannot express unto you, and so entangle my spirits 
that they turn me out of myself, and thereby making me unlit to be 
seen of you, is the true cause that I forbear access. I most humbi\ 
thank your sacred Majesty for your two late recomfortations. Would 
God I had deserved your former goodness ; for, God knoweth, your 
good favour hack not been ever, or at any time, evil employed on me 
your poor disconsolate wretch. I will leave all former protestations of 
merit or meanings ; only I affirm, in the presence of God, that 1 have 
followed and loved the footsteps of your most princely person with all 
faith and sincerity, with a mind most single, and free from all ambition 
or any other private respects. And though, towards God and Kings, 
autiot l>e tree of faults, yet, wilfully or wittingly, He knoweth 
that made me, 1 never offended your most sacred Majesty. My negli- 
gence towards God, and too high presumptions towards your Majesty, 
have been sins worthily deserving more punishments than these. But, 
Madam, towards yourself leave not the causes of my presumptions 
uuremcmbered ; and, though you find them as unfit for me as unworthy 
of you, yet, in their nature, of a good mind they are not hatefully to be 
despised. I Lumbly prostrate myself at your gracious feet, and do most 
heartily recorv.ze that all God's punishments laid on me by your 
princely censuie are taken by me with singular humility ; wherein I 
stand as free from grudging of heart as I am full of intolerable and vain 
perplexity. God in Heaven bless your Royal Majesty with a long life, 
a joyful heart, a prosperous reign, and with Heaven at the last. Your 
Majesty's most lowly subject and most unworthy servant, 


Huttou. -was next alarmed by the Queen's growing partiality 
for Sir Walter Raleigh : but when New Year's Day came 
round he sent her a true lover's knot, with bracelets and 
other presents. Sir Thomas Heneage, who had been the 
bearer of these tokens, greatly comforted him by stating that 
they had been much prifced, and that his new rival was 
slighted : 

" Sir, Your bracelets be embraced according to their worth, and the 
good-will of the sender, which is held of such great price as AJ) 15g5 
your true friend tells you, I think in my heart you have sreat 
cause to take most comfort in, for seldom in my life have I seen more 
hearty and noble affection expressed by her Majesty towards you than 
she showed upon this occasion, which will ask more leisure than is now 
left me particularly to let you know. The sum is, she thinks you faith- 
fullest and of most worth, and thereafter will regard yea : so she saith, so 
I hope, and so there is just cause. She told me, she thought your 
absence as long as yourself did, and marvelled that you came not. I 
let her Majesty know, understanding it by Vamey, that you had no 
place here to rest yourself, which after standing and waiting you much 



needed ; whereupon she grew very much displeased and would not 
believe that any should be placed in your lodging, but sending 
Mr. Darcy to understand the matter, found that Sir Wa. R. lay there, 
wherewith she grew more angry with my L. Chamberlain than I wished 
she had been, and used bitterness of speech against R., telling me before 
that she bad rather see him hanged than equal him with you, or that 
the world should think she did so. Messengers bear no blame ; and 
though you give me no thanks. I must tell you, that her Highness 
saith you are a knave for sending her such a thing and of that price, 
which' you know she will not send back again ; that is, the knot r she 
most loves, and she thinks cannot be undone ; but I keep the best to 
the last. This enclosed, which it pleased her to read to me, and I must 
be a record of, which if I might see surely performed, I should have one 
of my greatest desires upon earth ; I speak it faithfully." 

Hatton's hold of the Queen's heart was, in truth, consider- 
ably weakened; but he now gained her good opinion and 
friendship more than ever, by his exertions to free her from 
the dread which she entertained of Mary Queen of Scots. He 
began with a piece of hypocrisy, which, considering his 
notoriously profligate life, must have a little shocked the reli- 
gious feelings of his audience, though no one present ventured 
to oppose him. Eising in his place in the House of Commons, 
and detailing the plots which he alleged to be concocted 
against Elizabeth and the Protestant faith, he moved, " that 
besides the rendering of our most humble and loyal thanks 
unto her Highness, we do, being now assembled, forthwith 
join our hearts and minds together in most humble and 
earnest prayer unto Almighty God for the long continuance 
of the most prosperous preservation of her Majesty, with 
most due and thankful acknowledgment of his infinite benefits 
and blessings poured upon this whole realm through the 
mediation of her Highness's ministry under him." This being 
carried unanimously, the gentleman of her Highness's Privy 
Chamber, acting the part of Chaplain to the House, pulled a 
form of supplication from his pocket to the above effect, and all 
the members present, dropping down on their knees with 
seeming devotion, joined with him in his litany. 8 

He was very active in passing through the House of Com- 
mons the bill under which Mary was to be tried.' 

He sat on the bench as a commissioner at the preliminary 

,. trials of Babington, Savage, Ballard, Abington, Til- 

ney, and the other conspirators. Savage's confession 

' "The true love knot." Marginal note. 
1 Parl. Hist. 828. 27 Kliz. c. 1. 


being proved, with a view to the use to be made of it as evi- 
dence against Mary, Lord Commissioner Hatton thus addressed 
him : " Savage, I must ask thee one question : Was not all 
this willingly and voluntarily confessed by thyself without 
menacing, without torture, and without offer of any torture ? " 
The poor wretch, in the vain hope of mercy, eagerly replied, 

Although the two Chief Justices, May and Anderson, and 
Chief Baron Manwood, were present, Hatton took the lead in 
the conduct of the trial ; and when it was getting late in the 
evening observed, they should hardly be able to finish the 
business if they sat up all night, and ordered the Court to be 
adjourned till seven o'clock next morning." 

He then strongly urged Ballard to a full confession, saying 
to him, " 0, Ballard, Ballard, what hast thou done? A sort of 
brave youths, endowed with good gifts, by thy inducements 
hast thou brought to their utter destruction and confusion." 
The young man exclaiming, " Howbeit, say what you will, I 
will say no more ! " Hatton added, " Nay, Ballard, you must 
say more, and shall say more, for you must not commit high 
treasons and then huddle them up. But is this thy Rdigio 
Catholica / Nay, rather it is Diabdica" 

He next took in hand Barnewell, another prisoner, admi- 
nistering to him this string of interrogatories. " 0, Barne- 
well, Barnewell, didst not thou come to Eichmond, and when 
her Majesty walked abroad, didst not thou there view her and 
all her company what weapons they had, and how they 
walked alone ? and didst traverse the ground, and thereupon 
coming back to London didst make relation to Babington, how 
it was a most easy matter to kill her Majesty, and what thou 
hadst seen and done at the Court ? Yes, I know thou didst 
so." Taking all this for confessed, he then, without being 
sworn, gives some evidence himself: " Nay, I can assure thee, 
moreover, and it is most true which I say, that her Majesty 
did know that thou didst come to that end, and she did see 
and mark thee how thou didst view her and her company : 
but had it been known to some there as well as unto her, thou 
hadst never brought news to Babington. Such is the magna- 
nimity of our Sovereign, which God grant be not overmuch 
in not fearing such traitors as thou art." 

The sentence on the prisoner was pronounced by Lord 
Chief Justice Anderson, but this was prefaced by "an excel- 

1 St. Tr. 1137,1131. 

T 2 


lent good speech from Sir Christopher Hatton, showing how, 
stirred up by wicked priests, the ministers of the Pope, they 
had conspired to murder the Queen's Majesty, to deliver the 
Queen of Scots" (charges which were proved); "to sack 
the city of London ; .to rob and destroy all the wealthy sub- 
jects of the realm ; to kill divers of the Privy Council ; to set 
fire to all the Queen's ships, and to clog all the great ord- 
nance " (charges unsupported by any evidence). He con- 
cluded by pointing out the falsehood of a book recently 
printed at Rome, and made by the Papists, wherein they 
affirm that "the English Catholics who suffer for religion be 
lapped in bear-skins and bated to death with dogs." 

But although he had very roughly refused a prisoner's re- 
quest to have a pair of writing tables to set down what was 
alleged against him, another, after sentence of death, praying 
that his debts might be satisfied out of his property, the Vice- 
Chamberlain good naturedly asked the amount ; and being 
told that six angels would be sufficient, he said, " Then I pro- 
mise thee it shall be paid." 

He was next engaged in the very delicate task of interro- 
gating Xau and Curie, Mary's secretaries, whose examinations 
were to be used as the chief evidence against their mistress. 
He was prepared for this by a letter from Burghley, saying 
" they wold yeld soewhat to confirm ther mystriss, if they 
war persuaded that themselves might scape, and the blow fall 
upon ther M re . betwixt hir head and shoulders."" Most 
strangely, the original letter, supposed to establish Mary's 
complicity, was not shown to them, and " an abstract of the 
principal points of it " being read, they were required to say, 
upon oath, whether they could not recall these points to their 
recollection as having been contained in it. y 

Hatton was named as one of the Judges for the trial of the 
unhappy Mary. While the proceedings against her were 
pushed forward at Fotheringay, he slept every night at Ap- 
thorpe, the seat of Sir Walter Mildmay, about five miles off. 
Here he carried on a private epistolary correspondence with 
Elizabeth, and it is curious to observe that on such a solemn 
occasion he still addressed her as a lover. 

I suspect that when the Court rose on the morning of the 
12th of October, he had sent off an express to inform Elizabeth 
that Mary had hitherto resolutely refused to recognise the 

* Burgliley to Hatton, Sept. 4, 1586, a written to be shown to Elizabeth. 
sjn-fj vc anticipation of Mary's fate, probably J Ellis, iii. 5. 


authority of the tribunal, and that Elizabeth had returned 
an answer which had reached him early next morning, re- 
proaching him and the other Judges with their ill success. 
In the State Paper Office, at Westminster, there is extant 
the following reply in the handwriting of Sir Christopher 

A .A 

" MAT rr PLEASE TOUB SACKED MAJESTY, Your princely goodness 
towards me is so infinite, as in my poor wit I am not able to compre- 
hend the least part thereof. I must therefore fail in duty of thankful- 
ness as your Mutton, and lay all upon God, with my humble prayers 
to requite you in Heaven and Earth in the most sincere and devout 
manner, that, through God's grace, I may possibly devise. Your Ma- 
- good servant, Mr. Conway, hath taken a wonderful sore journey. 
He hath from your Majesty a little daunted me. I most humbly crave 
your Majesty's pardon. God and your Majesty be praised I have re- 
covered my perfect health ; and if now for my ease or pleasure I should 
be found negligent in your service, I were much unworthy of that life 
which many a time your Royal Majesty hath given me. I might like- 
wise sustain some obloquy, whereof I have heard somewhat ; but my 
will and wit, and whatever is in me, shall be found assuredly yours, 
whether I be sick or whole, or what E\eR become of me deem they 
what pleaseth them. God in Heaven bless your Majesty, and grant me 
no longer life than that my faith and love may E\eft be found inviola- 
ble and spotless to so royal and peerless a Princess. At Apthorpe, 
this 13th of October, 1586. Your Royal Majesty's most bounden poor 


Conway, charged with this missive, having started on " a 
wonderful sore journey " back again to Westminster, Hatton 
had hastened to Fotheringay, resolved to show that his mil 
and his irit were wholly devoted to his mistress, let others 
deem of him what they pleased. And now he did good ser- 
vice, for it was entirely by his artful persuasion that Mars- 
was this day induced " to lay aside the bootless privilege 
of royal dignity, to appear in judgment and to show her 
innocency, lest by avoiding trial she might draw upon her- 
self suspicion, and lay upon her reputation an eternal blot 
and aspersion." ' 

* I St. Tr. mi. Caoftcten, b. iii. p. 37. Ante, p. 249. 


The trial now proceeding, he left the conduct of it to Burgh- 
ley and the other counsel for the Crown, silently enjoying the 
effect of the confessions and examinations which he had so 
dexterously prepared. 

But when judgment had been given he delivered a violent 
speech in the House of Commons, urging the House to pe- 
tition that it might immediately be carried into execution. 
" He explained, at great length, the practices and attempts 
caused and procured by the Queen of Scots, tending to the 
overthrow of the true and sincere religion established in this 
realm ; yea, and withal (which his heart quaked and trembled 
to utter and think on), the death and destruction of the 
Queen's most sacred person, to the utter desolation of this 
most noble realm of England. He therefore thought it good 
for his part, that speedy consultation be had by this House for 
the cutting off this great delinquent by due course of justice ; 
concluding with these words of Scripture Ne pereat Jsrael, 
pereat Absolon." 

Hatton afterwards brought down a message, " that her 
Highness, moved by some commiseration for the Scottish 
Queen in respect of her former dignity and great fortunes in 
her younger years, her nearness of kindred to her Majesty, 
and also of her sex, could be well pleased to forbear taking of 
her blood, if by any other means, to be devised by the great 
Council of the realm, the safety of her Majesty's person and 
government might otherwise be preserved. But herein she 
left them, nevertheless, to their own free liberty and dispo- 
sition." He concluded his speech by moving a resolution, 
which was carried unanimously, " That no other way, device, 
or means whatsoever could or can possibly be found or ima- 
gined, that such safety can in anywise be had, so long as the 
said Queen of Scots doth or shall live." " 

The zealous Vice-Chamberlain was subsequently instru- 

Feb. 2, mental in causing the death-warrant to be sent off to 

15S7. })Q executed. Being informed by Secretary Davison 

that the Great Seal was appended to it, and that the Queen had 

pretended to chide him for his precipitancy, he immediately 

went to Burghley, and they called the meeting of the Council, 

at which it was resolved that, the forms of law having been 

all duly observed, it was their duty, without giving further 

needless trouble to her Majesty, to take all the remaining 

responsibility on themselves. 

8 1 Part. Hist 844. 


"WTien the news arrived of the close of Mary's sufferings at 
Fotheringay, Hatton was of course a marked object of Eliza- 
beth's assumed indignation, and he was ordered, with the other 
Councillors who had concurred with him, to answer for their 
misconduct in the Star Chamber; but Secretary Davison, ac- 
cording to the preconcerted plan, being made the only victim, 
all the others were speedily pardoned, and the Vice-Chamber- 
lain, for his recent services, was in higher favour than ever. 
Balls and masques were resumed ; and still the handsomest 
man, and the best dressed, and the most gallant, and the most 
graceful dancer at Court, he gained new consequence, being 
hailed as a successful orator and statesman. 

It was at this conjuncture that Lord Chancellor Bromley 
died. and the Great Seal was to be disposed of. Love and 
gratitude filled the mind of Elizabeth, and after some mis- 
givings, whether he who would have made a most excellent 
Lord Chamberlain was exactly fitted for the duties of Lord 
Chancellor, she resolved at all hazards to appoint him. The 
intention, however, was kept a profound secret from all ex- 
cept Burghley, till the time when the deed was done. The 
Court then lay at the Archbishop of Canterbury's Palace at 
Croydon, and there, in a walk near her private chamber, the 
Queen, in the midst of a numerous circle of nobles and cour- 
tiers, taking the Seal in its velvet bag, delivered it to her Vice- 
Chamberlain, ordered him before the assembled companv to 
seal a writ of subpcena with it, and then declared that he was 
to hold it as Lord Chancellor of England. b 

Some of the courtiers at first thought that this ceremony 
was a piece of wicked pleasantry on the part of the Queen ; 
but when it was seen that she was serious, all joined in con- 
gratulating the new Lord Chancellor, and expressing satis- 

b " Memdum qd die Sabbati, &c. (April 29, torii ac ibidem in presencia prda dicto Egre- 

29 Eliz.) Mag. Sigill. in custodia One Kegine gio Viro Xtofero Hatton militi tradidit et ite- 

existens apnd Croydon in Com. Sarr. sua rum immediate e minibus dicti egregii viri 

serenissima Majestas ibidem residens ad be- recipiebat et extrabi jubebat et nudari.'' 

nepltum snum in Palacio Reverendissimi in Then comes the sealing of the subpoena, with 

Xto 1'atris Johannis Cantuar, &c. ac ibidem si- the restoration of the Seal to the bag. " Et 

militerinprivatoambulatoriojnxtaprivatam sigill. prdm in bagam predictam de velneto 

cameram sue Majestatis sua sereuissima Majes- mbeo impositum dicta sacra Majestas regia 

tas essend. presens circa horam quartam post dicto nobili viro Xtofero Hatton militi in 

meridiem ejusdem diei ac in presencia dicti presencia prda redeliberabat Ipsaque Xtofe- 

reverendissimi Patris, &c. &c. Sigili. Mag. rum Hatton militem Dnm Cancellarium 

prdni jacens in fenestra in fine dicti ambulato- Anglic ad tune et ibidem fecit ordiiiavit et 

rii in baga de velueto rnbeo incluso sua sere- constituit Habendam," &c. tc. Rot. Cl 

nissima Majestas accepit in manibus suis et 29 Eliz. p. 2*. 
tulebat secum ad medium ejoadem ambula- 


faction that her Majesty had been emancipated from the pre- 
judice that a musty old lawyer only was fit to preside in the 
Chancery, whereas that Court being governed not by the strict 
rules of law, but by natural equity, justice would be much 
better administered there by a gentleman of plain good sense 
and knowledge of the world. 

Very different were the reasonings in Westminster Hall 
and the Inns of Court when the news of Hatton's appoint- 
ment arrived from Croydon. " The gownsmen grudging 
hereat, conceived his advancement their injury, that one not 
thoroughly bred to the laws should be preferred to the place. 
They said, how could he cure diseases unacquainted with 
their causes, who might easily mistake the justice of the com- 
mon law for rigour not knowing the true reason thereof ': " c 

Considering that the Great Seal had now been held for 
thirty years successively by eminent lawyers who had esta- 
blished a procedure, and laid down rules which were well un- 
derstood, and had been steadily adhered to, the prospect must 
have been very alarming of practising before a Chancellor 
who, when he was appointed, could hardly know the distinction 
between a subpoena and a latitat ; for surely no greater misfor- 
tune can befall an advocate than to lose a consummate Judge 
whose decisions might have been confidently anticipated by the 
initiated, and to be obliged to practise under an incompetent 
successor, before whom no case is safe and no case is desperate. 

Meetings of the bar were held, and it was resolved by many 
Serjeants and Apprentices that they would not plead before 
the new Chancellor ; but a few who looked eagerly for ad- 
vancement dissented. The Chancellor himself was determined 
to brave the storm, and Elizabeth and all her ministers ex- 
pressed a determination to stand by him. 

The 3rd of May was the first day of Trinity term, and the 
great officers of state, and the heads of the law, were enter- 
tained at breakfast at the Chancellor's mansion in Ely Place, 
Holborn. Thence there was a procession to Westminster 
Hall, exceeding in magnificence any thing seen on a similar 
occasion since the time of Cardinal Wolsey, whose crosses, 
pillars, and pole-axes some old men could still remember. 

c Naunton. Camden's account of the runt. Illi cnim ex quo Ecclesiastic! de 

grumbling of the leaders of the bar is like- gradu deject), hunc magistratuvn, summarn 

wise very striking. " Christopherus vero togatre dignitatis culmen, viris ecclesiastic-is 

Hattonus, florentissima apud l"rincipem gra- et nobilibus plerunque olim delatum, niagna 

tia, suffectus erat ex aula Cancellarius. quod cum aquitatiset prudentise Inude gesseraat.' 

juris Anglici cmsultissimi permoleste tule- Camd. Eliz. vol. i. p. 475. 


First went forty gentlemen of the Chancellor's household, all 
in the same liven', with chains of gold about their necks. 
They were followed by divers pensioners and gentlemen of 
the Queen's Court upon splendid foote clothes ; then came 
the Masters in Chancery and the officers of the Court ; next 
rode the Lord Chancellor on a palfrey richly caparisoned, 
having on his right hand Burghley, the Lord Treasurer, and 
on his left the Earl of Leicester : after whom came many of 
the nobility, riding two and two ; then all the Judges in their 
robes and coifs, with Serjeants and Apprentices ; and last of 
all many Knights and a great troop of their retinue. d 

This was a much more gallant show than the line of close 
carriages now to be seen moving from the Chancellor's levee 
on the first day of term ; though our predecessors must have 
.been in an uncomfortable plight when it rained during their 
march along the Strand to Charing, and thence to "West- 
minster, and though there were many traditionary stories of 
the misfortunes which had befallen the Judges on their 
march, notwithstanding the skill in horsemanship which they 
acquired from riding their circuits." 

It is said that Hatton was received in the Court of Chan- 
cery with cold and silent disdain. Nevertheless there was, 
from the first, some little business brought on before him T 
The Attorney and Solicitor-General, lest they should them- 
selves be dismissed, were obliged, however discontented they 
might be, to appear to countenance him. He made no public 
complaint of his reception, and gradually gained ground by 
his great courtesy and sweetness, to say nothing of the good 
dinners and excellent sack for which he was soon famous. 

It would appear that there was much public curiosity to see 
" the dancing Chancellor " seated upon his tribunal, and the 
crowds of strangers in the Court of Chancery were so great 
that there came out an order ''by the Right Honourable Sir 
Christopher Hatton, Knight of the most noble Order of the 
Garter, and Lord Chancellor of England," in these words : 
"For the avoydinge of suche great numbers of suitors and 
others as doe daylye pester the Courte in the tyine of sittinge, 
by reason whereof heretofore yt hath manye tymes happened 
that the due reverence and sylence which ought to be kepte 
and observed in that honourable courte hathe bene undeuti- 

d Stow, Eliz. 741. his horse near Charing Cross, while attending 

e The last which has reached ns is that of Lord Chancellor Shaftesbury. 
Mr. Justice Twisden, who was thrown from 



fully neglected, and contrayewise muche unmannerlye and un- 
seemlye behavyour and noise hath bene there used to the hin- 
deraunce of the due hearinge of such matters and causes as 
were there to be handled, and to the great derogacion of the 
honour of this courte and due reverence belonging to the 
same ." Then follow regulations by which none were to 
come into court but counsel, attorneys, officers and their 
clerks, and parties who were " to continue soe longe as the 
cause shal be in hearinge and no longer, and all other suytors 
whatsoever (excepte noblemea and suche as be of her Majesties 
Privy Counsell) were to stand without the courte, and not suf- 
fered to come in without special licens."' 

He was quite at home when presiding in the Star Chamber, 
where he had before been accustomed to sit as a Privy Coun- 
cillor, and he had the Chiefs of the common law to assist him. 
To this Court, according to usage, he dedicated Wednesdays 
and Fridays. On other days he sat for equity business in the 
Court of Chancery, in Westminster Hall in the mornings, 
and in his own house in the afternoons. g He made an order 
that four Masters in Chancery should always attend and sit on 
the bench with him in Court, and two in his own house. h 

f Reg. Lib. B. 31 & 32 (Eliz. 1589, p. 498). 
I once saw the Court of Chancery crowded 
and overflowing, like Drury Lane when Mrs. 
Siddons appeared as Lady Macbeth; but it 
was to he*r Sheridan address Lord Eldon. 
This was shortly before the death of Thurlow : 
he said, " I am told that Jack Scott has been 
acting plays in Lincoln's-lnn-Hall." 

B Morning seems to have been from eight 
to eleven, and afternoon from two to five ; the 
intermediate space being allowed for dinner 
and recreation. 

h Ordo Curias. Decimo viij 3 . die Aprilis 
Anno Regni Elizabeth Regine xxx. 

"The R' Ho. Sir Christopher Hatton, 
Knight, Lo. Chauncelor of England, having 
bene enformed that of late yeres the Courte 
of Chauncery bathe bene for the most parte 
unfurnished of such Masters of the Chaun- 
cery as are in ordynary and have her Ma tic 
fee to attende there, whereby the dignitye of 
that honorable courte hath bene in gome sort 
blemished, and the same destitute of such 
assistauntes and advice of theirs as were 
meete and necessary. For remedy thereof 

the said Lo. Chauncelor dothe order that 
fower of the said ordynary Masters of Chaun- 
cery shall dayly in their course attende at or 
in the said Courte of Chauncery upon the 
benohe there, unles some speciall cause shall 
draw them from thence, and then he or they 
whose course it shalbe,* to procure some 
other of the ordynary Masters of this Courte 
to supply their places in their absence. And 
also the Lo. Chauncelor dothe also farther or- 
der that two of the said Masters being in ordy- 
nary, shall lykewise daylye attende on every 
Monday, Tuysday, and Thursday, in the af- 
ternoonts, at the said Lo. Chauncelor's bowse, 
to assist his Lop. in such causes as there 
shalbe opened and heard before him in every 
terme." The order then makes some regu- 
lations about fees, " secluding all Extraordi- 
nary Masters within three myles compasse 
of the Citty of London, and suburbs of the 
same, and in all other places where t'i" <-;iid 
ordynary Masters shalbe from doinge any 
manner of actes or exercisinge any autho- 
ryty belonging to the offyce and cleeve to 
the same." 

* It was not yet settled what particles and parts of the auxiliary verbs should be used at 
separate words. 


He was exceedingly cautious, " not venturing to wade be- 
yond the shallow margin of equity, where he could distinctly 
see the bottom." He always took time to consider in cases of 
anv difficulty ; and in these he was guided by the advice of 
one Sir Richard Swale, described as his " servant-friend," who 
was a Doctor of the Civil Law, a Master in Chancery, and well 
skilled in all the practice and doctrines of the Court. 

By these means Lord Chancellor Hatton contrived to get on 
marvellously well ; and though suitors might grumble, as well 
as their counsel, the public took part with him, and talked 
with contempt of " the sullen Serjeants," who at first refused 
to plead before him. All were dazzled with the splendour of 
his establishment ; and it was said that he made up for his 
want of law by his constant desire to do what was just.' But 
the more judicious grieved ; and. in spite of all his caution and 
good intentions, he committed absurd blunders, and sometimes 
did injustice. 1 

The attention of the nation was soon taken from all such 
matters by the danger which threatened the reli- 
gion and liberties of the country. The IXVIXCIBLE Julj '' 15j 
ARMADA was now afloat ; and Elizabeth was reviewing her 
army at Tilbury. The Chancellor attended her ; and, if 
the Spaniards had landed, was ready to have fought va- 
liantly by her side. 

English bravery, assisted by the elements, having swept 
from the seas the armament which was to overpower and to 
subjugate England, a parliament was called ; and, on the first 
day of the session, the Queen being on the throne, Lord Chan- 

1 " Splendidissime omnium qnos vidi- sir Ckritt, Sat. True, gallant Ra- 
mos gessit et quod ex juris wientia defuit, leigh; 
squitate supplere studuit." Camden. But 0, thon champion of thy country's 

k There was one ceremony which he must , fame, 

have performed with peculiar grace-install- T 1 h ,! re '? * ?SS55 wWch l ?!J l ^ nst ask ' 

V, ,. A question which I never ask d before, 

lug a Master, May 16, 1537. This present what mean ^^ mighty armamenu ' 

day Richard Swale, gentleman, Doctor of the This general muster" and this throng of 

Civil Law, was placed as a Master of the chiefs? 

Chancery in ordinary in the room of Mr. b <?,, Tn,i t j? r\ 

Doctor Barley deceased, by the Right Ho- *<%& I tad""*' Kam ^ A 

nourabie Sir Christopher Hatton, Knight, Thy stanch sagacity still tracks the fn- 

Lord Chancellor of England-: and Au Lord- tnre 

tkip did put on the said Mr. Steal*' t cap." I? the fresh P rint of the o'ertaken past. 

&c. Reg. Lib. B. p. 492. A hat being sub- * on know ' ^ frien d, scarce two revolving 

stunted for the cap the ceremony remained And J revoWn 

down to Lord Brougham's time. their co nrsei 6 

m It is upon this occasion that the famous Since haughty Philip, in despite of peace, 

dialogue is supposed to have passed between With hostile hand has struck at England' 1 ! 

dim and Sir Walter Raleigh : trade." Critic. 


cellor Hatton eloquently opened to the two Houses the cause 
of the summons : he told them " that her Majesty had made it 
her constant sttidy, from the very beginning of her reign tc 
this time, to preserve peace, not only at home, but also abroad. 
That she had given no occasion to the many princes about her 
to invade her dominions, nor had taken arms to revenge the 
many injuries which others had inflicted upon her. Neither 
the infant state of Scotland, nor the treachery of France, nor 
the divisions of her enemies, nor the frequent solicitations of 
the Dutch, nor all these things combined, could move her to war. 
And when she heard that mighty preparations were making 
against her and her kingdom, she chose rather to propose 
peace than to cast all hopes of it aside ; for she sent a set of 
grave, prudent, and noble persons as her ambassadors to treat 
of it. Which, while they were labouring to eiFect, behold a 
vast navy of Spanish ships were seen on our English coasts ; 
such a navy, that, for numbers and greatness of the ships, for 
quantity of arms and military forces, and for all kinds of ne- 
cessary stores, were never seen to float on the ocean before. 
But God Almighty, her Majesty's hope, defender, and pre- 
server, rendered this vast armada of her enemies vain and use- 
less. For the British navy, by far inferior in numbers and 
strength, happily attacked once and again those huge raised- 
up rocks and mountains of ships, and, at the third conflict, so 
dispersed, shattered, and disabled them, that, never thinking 
to renew the fight, they fled for it. and took a long course 
hitherto unheard of; for they steered round Scotland, Ireland, 
and the most northern regions, and by those means hoped to 
regain the Spanish coasts. But what shipwrecks they suffered, 
what hardships they bore, how many ships, soldiers, and 
seamen they lost, neither can they yet know, nor we for 
certain learn. But do you not imagine that they are ardently 
studious of revenge ? and that they will employ the power and 
riches of Spain to accomplish it? Know you not the pride, 
fury, and bitterness of the Spaniard against you ? Yes : behold 
the great cause of summoning this parliament, that, in this full 
assembly of the wisest and most prudent persons of this king- 
dom, a diligent preparation may be made, that forces, arms, 
and money may be in readiness, and that our navy, our greatest 
bulwark, may be repaired, manned, and fitted out for our pro 
tection and safeguard."" 

n Taken from Lords' Journals. See 1 Parl. than any performance of his predeci'swira 
Hist 353. I must say that this speech of either ecclesiastical or lei^ai 
" the dancing Chancellor " is in better taste 


Although not a peer himself, he was anxious for the honour 
of the House over which he presided as Speaker, and he men- 
tions in a letter a vain attempt he had made to remove a com- 
plaint which for centuries has been tittered there : " The use 
of the higher House is not to meddle with any bill until there 
be some presented from the Commons ; and so, by reason 
thereof, the first part of the sitting should be spent idly, or 
to small purpose, I thought it fit to inform myself what bills 
there were remaining since the last parliament, of which the 
Lords had good liking, but could not be passed by reason of 
want of time, and those I meant to offer to their Lordships till 
euch time as there came some from the Lower House." 

Sir Christopher was now installed Knight of the Garter, 
(being the third Chancellor on whom this honour was con- 
ferred.) and he was at the height of his greatness. But al- 
though he was never turned out of office, he met with much 
mortification before his death. Camden represents that his 
appointment was maliciously suggested to the Queen by his 
rivals in her good graces, that by his absence from Court, and 
the troublesome discharge of so great a place, which they 
thought him not able to undergo, his favour with the Queen 
might flag. They were mistaken if they supposed that he 
would be utterly disgraced by the incompetent manner in 
which he must discharge his judicial duties ; but they calcu- 
lated rightly in anticipating that, prevented from showing her 
the devoted attention with which he had hitherto ever culti- 
vated her as an admirer of her person as well as a member of 
her government, he would gradually lose his interest in her 
affections. The Earl of Leicester, who had occasionally been 
superseded by Hatton, now completely regained his ascen- 
dency, and he prevailed upon her to create for him the new 
office of ' Lord Lieutenant of England and Ireland," which 
would have conferred upon him almost royal authority 
throughout the empire. A warrant had been made out for this 
appointment ; but the Chancellor, on constitutional and per- 
sonal grounds, highly disapproved of it. He ventured to re- 
monstrate against it, and he induced Burghley to join with him 
in trying to convince the Queen of the impolicy of the mea- 
sure. Without any open rupture with the Queen, the Chan 
cellor contrived still to withhold the Great Seal from the 
patent, when the man who had so long swayed her inclina- 
tions and had compromised her reputation, was opportunely 

Hart. MSS. 6994. t 148. 


seized with a violent disorder which, whether it arose from 
natural causes, or from, the anguish of disappointed ambition, 
or from poison administered by his wife and her paramour, 
quickly terminated his existence. 

The Queen's extravagant purpose was thus concealed from 
the public, and after a plentiful effusion of tears in memory of 
her worthless favourite, tranquillity was restored to the Court. 
Had Hatton been still Vice-Chamberlain and Gentleman of 
the Privy Chamber, at leisure to masque it as in former days, 
he probably would now have filled, without dispute, the va- 
cancy which Leicester's death created ; but while he was 
sitting in the Star Chamber and in the Court of Chancery, and 
listening to applications at his private house for injunctions 
in cases of great emergency, and consulting anxiously with 
Dr. Swale how he should dispose of petitions, and what decrees 
were to be pronounced in the causes which he had heard, 
(besides, that he was now somewhat declining into the vale of 
years), the young Earl of Essex, not yet twenty-one, was 
sighing at her feet, and by his songs and his tilting, by his 
spirit and address, by his flowing locks and unrazored lip, had 
captivated her affections, and had been rapidly promoted to be 
Master of the Horse, Captain General of the cavalry, a Knight 
of the Garter, and Prime Favourite* The spoiled school-boy, 
tired of the fondness of "the old woman," as he called her, 
had fled the Court and clandestinely joined the expedition 
fitted out under Sir Francis Drake, for the coast of Spain, to 
avenge on Philip the insults of the Armada. Still Hatton was 
1589 * muc h occupied to avail himself of this conjunc- 
ture, and he had the deep mortification of finding 
himself, on his occasional visits to Whitehall or St. James's, to 
Richmond or Greenwich, entirely neglected and slighted for 
younger men. 

The handsome youth from Devonshire who had thrown his 
brave silken cloak into the mire for a foot-cloth to the Queen 
had been appointed to the post which he himself had once held, 
and which he would now have been delighted to exchange for 
the Great Seal: Sir W alter Ealeigh was intrusted with the 
special care of her person as " Captain of her band of Gentle- 
men Pensioners." 

Once, while Hatton was holding the Great Seal in its red 
velvet bag, at a tilting match, to which he had been invited 
during the vacation, he was present when the Queen singled 
out Charles Blount, the second son of Lord Mountjoy, then a 


student in the Inner Temple, expressed her approbation of his 
looks and agility, presented her hand for him to kiss, and sent 
him a chess queen of gold as a token which he openly bound to 
his arm with a crimson riband. p 

These youths could not have any serious apprehensions from 
the rivalry of the Chancellor, but they combined with other 
more experienced courtiers, who marked his declining favour, 
to set the Queen against him, and there was a general disposi- 
tion at Court to vex and annoy him. We may remember that 
the Queen had lent a sum of money to free him from the em- 
barrassments occasioned by his youthful extravagance, and 
he had since become farther indebted to her in respect of cer- 
tain crown rents he had received, for which he was liable to 
account. Perhaps without any prompting (for she 

i >. i A.D. 1591* 

was always very mean in money concerns), she now 
desired that all these debts should be discharged, and she re- 
presented to him that as he had been for two or three years in 
possession of the most lucrative office in her gift, he could no 
longer plead poverty. He acknowledged the debt and her 
Majesty's forbearance, but represented his total inability yet 
to discharge it on account of the great charges brought upon 
him by the manner in which his installation had been con- 
ducted for her Majesty's honour, and by reason of his having 
confined himself strictly to the ancient fees, which, from the 
increased expense of living, had become very inadequate. He 
did not ask her to forgive him the debt, but he earnestly im- 
plored that further time might be allowed him for its ' pav- 
ruent. She was inexorable, and believing that this excuse was 
a mere pretence for cheating her, she directed her Attorney 
and Solicitor-General to institute legal proceedings against 
him on his bond and statute merchant, under which the whole 
of his goods and lands might have been seized, and his person 
would have been liable to imprisonment. 

All contemporary accounts agree that the Queen's neglect 
and cruelty had such an effect upon Lord Chancellor Hatton's 
spirits that he died of a broken heart. In Trinity term, 1591. 
it was publicly observed that he had lost his gaiety and good 
looks. He did not rally during the long vacation, and when 
Michaelmas term came round he was confined to his bed. His 

P This incident afterwards gave rise to a tbeir quarrel." Had the Chancellor been 

duel between Blount and the Earl of Essex, the challenger, he might have recovered his 

to the great delight of the Queen, who said lost ground, 
"that her beauty had been the object of 


sad condition being related to Elizabeth, all her former fond- 
ness for him revived, and she herself hurried to his house in 
Ely Place with cordial broths, in the hope of restoring him, 
These she warmed and offered him with her own hand, while 
he lay in bed, adding many soothing expressions, and bidding 
him live for her sake. " But," he said, " all will not do : no 
pulleys will draw up a heart once cast down, though a Queen 
herself should set her hand thereunto." He died in the even- 
ing of Friday the 21st of November, in the 52nd year of his 
age. q 

He was immediately compared to Jonah's gourd, and de- 
scribed as " a mere vegetable of the Court, that sprung at 
night and sunk again at noon." r 

He had, however, a most splendid funeral ; and now that he 
was gone, the Queen, to divert her grief, did all that lay in her 
power to honour his memory. On the 16th of December, his 
remains were interred in St. Paul's Cathedral, more than 300 
Lords of the Council, nobles and knights, attending by her 
order, and her band of gentlemen pensioners, which he had 
commanded, guarding the procession. A sumptuous monu- 
ment was raised to him, which perished in the fire of London. 

Looking only to the frivolous accomplishments to which 
chiefly he owed his elevation, we must not forget the merits 
which really belonged to him. Although he possessed a very 
slender portion of book-learning, he had a very ready wit, and 
was well versed in the study of mankind. " He was a person," 
says Naunton, " that besides the graces of his person and 
dancing, had also the adjectirnents of a strong and subtle 
capacity, one that could soon learn the discipline and garb 
both of the times and the Court." 

He is said to have shown great industry when he was made 
Lord Chancellor, and to have made himself tolerably well ac- 
quainted with the practice of the Court of Chancery ; but with 
a mind wholly unimbued with legal principles, his knowledge 
of it must have been very superficial. He issued several new 
orders to improve it, which were much applauded. \\ ith 

1 Camden, without descending intoparticu- hoc edictum publicatum ex diabete et animi 

tars which he considered inconsistent with the muerore, quod Regina ingentem pccuniam ex 

dignity of history, and although showing hia di-cimiset primitiisquibus praefuit, eollectum 

usual tenderness for the reputation of Eliza- paulo acerbius rxagerat quam pro ea qua 

beth, confirms the general account we have of apud ipsam floruit gratia coridonandam spt;- 

tlie dc;ath of Ilatton. Speaking of the severe rarat. Ncc honiinem verbo dejectiim relo- 

proclamation against Catholics which it was varepotcratquamvisinviseretet -onsolatione 

supposed tlip Chancellor condemned, he dimulceret." 

says, " Verum obierat Hattonus pridie quam ' Naunton. 


respect to these he could only have had the merit, so useful to 
Chancellors, of availing himself of the experience and talents 
of others. Again, it is said that none of his decrees were re- 
versed ; but if Dr. Swale and he had erred ever so much, there 
were hardly any means of correcting them ; for there was no 
appeal to the House of Lords in Equity suits till the reign of 
Charles II., and there was no chance of bringing, with any 
effect, before the Council the decree of a Chancellor still in 
power. To give the public a notion that he had attended to 
the study of the law, he composed a " Treatise concerning 
Acts of Parliament, and the Exposition thereof;" but it was a 
very poor production. 

When presiding in the Court of Chancery, he disarmed his 
censurers by courtesy and good-humour, and he occasionally 
ventured on a joke. At one time, when there was a case 
before him respecting the boundaries of an estate, a plan being 
produced, the counsel on one part said, " We lie on this side, 
my Lord ;" and the counsel on the other part said, " And we 
lie on this side, my Lord ;" whereupon the Lord Chancellor 
Hatton stood up and said, " If you lie on both sides, whom 
will you have me to believe ?" ' 

Although none of his decisions in Chancery have come down 
to us, we have a full account of a trial before him in the Star 
Chamber for a libel, when he presided with great gravity, 
and with many apologies for the leniency of the sentence, he 
fined the defendant 2000Z., and directed the Judges to testify 
this punishment on their circuits, to the end the whole realm 
might have knowledge of it, and the people no longer be 
seduced with these lewd libellers.' 

His most elaborate effort while he held the Great Seal was 
his address " on the elevation of Mr. Clerke to the dignity of 
a Serjeant." After some preliminary observations on the 
gratitude due to her Majesty for such a distinction, he thus 
continued : " No man can live without lawe. Therefore I do 
exhort you that you have good care of your dutie in the calling, 
and that you be a father to the poore. That you be carefull 
to relieve all men afflicted. You ought to be an arm to helpe 
them, a hande to succoure them. Use uprightness and followe 
truthe. Be free from cawtell. Mix with the exercise of the 
lawe no manner of decepte. Let these thinges be farre from 
your harte. Be of an undoubted resolution. Be of good 

1 Recorded by Lord Bacon in his Apophthegms, or Jest Bock. 

1 Regina r. Knightley, 1 St. Tr. 1270. 


courage, and feare not to be carried away withe the authoritie, 
power or threateninges of anye other. Maynteyne your 
clientes cause in all right. Be not put to sylence. As it is 
alleged out of the booke of Wisdome, ' Noli qucerere fieri Judex, 
ni forte extimescas faciem potentis, et ponas scandalam in agilitate 
tua.' u Know no man's face. Go on withe fortitude. Do it 
in uprightnes. ' Redde cuique quod suum.' Be not parciall to 
yourself. Abuse not the highest guift of God which no doubt 
is great in equity. Theis thinges be the actions of nobilitie. 
He that doth theis thinges dewlie deserves high honour, and 
is worthy in the world to rule. Let trathe be famyllier with 
you. Eegard neither friende nor enemye. Proceede in the 
good worke layed upon you. And the laste point that I am 
to saye to you Use diligence and carefulnes. And althoughe 
I have not been acquainted withe the course of the lawe, 
albeit in my youthe I spent some time in the studye thereof, 
yet I find by daily experience that diligence bringes to pas 
greate thinges in the course and proceedinge of the lawe, and, 
contrarilie, negligence overthrowes many good cawses. Let 
not the dignitie of the lawe be geven to men unmeete. And I 
do exhorte you all that are heare present not to call men to 
the barre or the benche that are so unmeete. I fiiide that 
there are now more at the barre in one house than there was 
in all the Innes of Courte when I was a younge man." He 
concludes by an exhortation to avoid Chancery and to settle 
disputes in the Courts of Law. " Wee sit heare to helpe the 
rigor and extremities of the lawe. The holy conscience of the 
Queene for matters of equitie in some sorte is by her Majesties 
goodness committed to mee, when summum jus doth minister 
summam injuriam. But the lawe is the inheritance of all men. 
And I praye God blesse you and send you a much worshipp 
as ever had anie in your cawlinge."" 

The only very serious suspicion ever thrown upon Hatton's 

conduct arose out of his connection with the death of 

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. After this 

nobleman had been long confined in the Tower, without being 

brought to trial, the Lieutenant received an order to remove 

the Earl's keeper, and to substitute for him a servant of Sir 

Christopher Hatton. The same night the prisoner was found 

dead in his bed, having been shot through the heart with three 

u Ecclesias. cap. 7, v. 6. This is the Vul- the Septuagint the word is fvOvrqrt'. 
gate still always quoted. In the margin, * Keg. Lib. B 1580, t 661. 
14 ..Equitate " is proposed for Agilitate. In 


slugs. A verdict of felo de se being returned by the coroner's 
jury, the subject was taken up in the Star Chamber, and there 
Sir Christopher and other members of the Court delivered 
harangues to prove that the deceased had been guilty of treason, 
and that to escape a public trial and conviction, with the for- 
feiture of his houses and estate, he had put an end to his exist- 
ence/ Sinister inferences were drawn by the multitude from 
the change of his keeper, the difficulty of conveying fire-arms 
to A prisoner in the Tower, and the eagerness of the govern- 
ment to have him found guilty of suicide ; but there is no 
ground for imputing such a crime to one to whose disposition 
and habits it must have been most repugnant. 

Even while holding the Great Seal his highest delight con- 
tinued to be in dancing, and, as often as he had an opportunity, 
he abandoned himself to this amusement. Attending the mar- 
riage of his nephew and heir with a Judge's daughter, he was 
decked, according to the custom of the age, in his official 
robes ; and it is recorded, that when the music struck up, he 
doffed them, threw them down on the floor, and saying, 
there, Mr. Chancellor !" danced the measures at the nuptial 

He affected to be a protector of learned men, and Spenser 
presented to him a copy of his immortal poem, " The Faery 
Queen," accompanied by the following sonnet : 

To the R. H. Sir C. ffjtton, Lord Hi-jh Chancellor of England. 

Those prudent beads, that with their counsels wise, 

Whilom the pillars of th' earth did sustain ; 
And taught ambitions Rome to tyrannise, 

And in the neck of ail the world to reign, 
Oft from those grave affairs were wont t' abstain, 

With the sweet lady-muses for to play. 
So Ennius, the elder Africain ; 

So Maro oft did Caesar s cares allay. 
So, yon, great Lord ! that with yonr counsel s-way 

The burden of this kingdom mightily ; 
With like delights sometimes may eke delay 

The rugged brow of careful policy ; 
And to these idle rhymes lend little space, 

. -h,for their title t take,* may find more grace. 

Thus was he celebrated by Ockland in his character of 
Queen Elizabeth's ministers : 

T See Stow's Ann '.-. p. : t. Gunden, p. 56. 

D. iv. 50. Seiners' Tracts, i. ~ 3. a " The Faery Ojieen," representing Queen 

1 Captain Allen's Lett, in Birch, ibeth. 

U 2 



" Splendidus Hatton, 
Ille Satelitii regalis ductor, ovunti 
Pectore, Maecenas studiosis, altoi 
Et fautor verae virtutis, munificusque.'' 

Much, erudition and great acquirements were now found to 
isss belong to the scape-grace student of the Temple, 
and the University of Oxford elected for their Chan- 
cellor him to whom they would not grant a degree. 

He was celebrated, or rather censured, in the intolerant age 
in which he lived, for trying to screen from persecution both 
Papists and Puritans. b 

The nature of his intimacy with Elizabeth, it is to be hoped, 
was not such as to deprive her of the right to the title that she 
so often boasted of in public, and much allowance ought to be 
made for the manners of the age ; but, notwithstanding the 
warmth of language and the freedoms between the sexes then 
supposed to be consistent with innocence, this intimacy cer- 
tainly caused much scandal in their own time. 

Lord Chancellor Hatton was never married, which, if we may 
trust the representation upon this subject in Mary's celebrated 
letter respecting the private life of Elizabeth, arose from the 
jealousy of his royal mistress, who even broke oif a match 
between him and a daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, after- 
wards married to the Earl of Lennox. 

b " Qui in religionis causa non urendum non 
secaudum censuit." Camden. 

c The most striking proof of the prevalent 
suspicion is to be found iu this letter of Mary 
to Elizabeth, relating the stories circulated 
by the Countess of Shrewsbury, -which a re- 
gard to historical truth requires me to insert, 
cautioning my female readers against pe- 
rusing it, though written by a Queen to a 
Queen. After some prefatory remarks, she 
says, " J'apelle mon Dieu a tesmoing que la 
Comptesse de Schreusbury madit de vous ce 

qui suit au plus pres de ces tcrmes 

Premierement, qu'un, auquel elle disoit que 
vous aviez faict promesse de mariage devant 
une Dame de vostre chambre, avoit couscho 
inflnies foys auvesque Vous avec toute la li- 
cence et privaulte qui se pent user entre 
marl et fumme ; Mays qu'indubitabtement 
Vous nestiez pas comme les aultres fammes, 
et pour ce respect cestoit follie a touz ceulx 
qui affectoient vostre Mariage avec Monsieur 
le Due d'Anjou, d'aultant qu'il ne ce pourroit 
accomplir ; et que Vous ne vouldriez jamays 
perdu la liberte de Vous fayre fayre 1'amour 

et auvoir vostre plesir tousjonrs auveques 
nouveaulx amoureulx, regretant ce, disoit 
elle, que vous ne vous contentiez de Maitttr 
llaton, et un aultre de ce Royaulme ; mays 
que pour 1'honneur du pays H luy faschoit le 
plus, que vous aviez non seullement CULMS'.-.' 
vostre honneur auveques un estrnngier 
Nomine" Simier, 1'alant trouver de nuit en la 
chambre d'une dame, que la dicte Comptesse 
blasmoit forte a ceste occasion la, ou Vous 
le baisiez et usiez auvec luy de diverges pri- 
vaultcs deshonnestes ; mays aussi luy revel- 
liez les segretz du Royaulme, trahisant vos 
propres Counseillers avvesques luy : Que 
Vous vous estiez desportee de la mesnu* dis- 
solution avec le Due son Maystre, qui vous 
avoit este trouver une nuit a la porte de 
vostre chambre, ou vous laviez rancontre au- 
vec vostre seulle chemise ctmantcau <lc nuit, 
et que par apres vous laviez laisse cntrer, et 
qu'il demeura avveques Vous pres de treys 
heures. Quant au diet Ifaton, que vous If 
couriez a force, fayfant si ]inl>li<iiii'm<nt 
paroitre 1'amour que luy portief, qui luy 
metmes ettoit contreint de s'en retirer, et qut 


Notwithstanding these tender sentiments, Elizabeth did not 
distinguish him from her other courtiers, by abstaining from 
the public manifestation of her resentment when he otiended 
her ; for as she gave a box on the ear to the Earl Marshal, and 
spat at Sir Matthew Arundel, on one occasion she collared 
Hatton before the whole Court. d By this missive, he tritd to 
appease her: "If the woundes of the thought wear not luost 
dangerous of all w^out speedy dressing, I shold not now 
troble yo r Ma' 7 w" 1 the lynesof my co'playnt ; and if whatsoever 
came from you wear not ether very gracious or greevor.s to 
me, what you sayd wold not synke so deepely in my bosome. 
My profession hath been, is, and ever shalbe, to your Ma* 7 all 
duty w th in order, all reverent love w^out mesure, and all 
trothe w th out blame ; insomuch as when I shall not be fownde 
soche as to yo r Highnes Caesar sought to have hys wife to him- 
selfe, not onely w m out synne, but also not to be suspected, I 
wish my spright devyded from my body as his spouse was from 
his bedde ; and therefore, upon yesternight's wordes, I am 
driven to say to yo r Ma 17 , either to satisfye wronge concerts or 
to answer false reports, that if the speech you used of yo r 
Turke did ever passe my pen or lippes to any creature owt of 
yo r Highnes' hearing, but to my L. of Burghley, w th whom 
I have talked bothe of the man and the matter, I desyre no less 
condemnation then as a traytor, and no more pardon then hys 
ponyshment ; and, further, if ever I ether spake or sent to the 
embassad. of France, Spayne or Scotland, or have accompanied, 
to ray knowledge, any that conferres w* them, I doe renownce 
all good from your Ma* in erthe, and all grace from God in 
heaven ; w 1 * assurans if yo r H. thinke not sufficyent, upon the 

Vous donnaites un soujflet a Kiliyreu pour Baton : Qn'a tontz anltres Vous estiez fort 

ne mus amir ramene U diet Baton, que vous inarate qu'il ni avoit que troys ou 

avviez enmiay rappeller par luy, s'etant da- quatre en vostre Royaulme a qui Vous ayes 

parti en chollere d'auveques vous pour quel- jamuys faict bien : Me conseillant, en riant 

qua injures que luy auriez dittes pour cer- extresmement, mettre mon filz sur les rancs 

tiens teutons dor qu'il aumit sur ion habit, pour vous fayre 1'amours, comme chose qui 

Qu'dk aumit traaiiUe de fayre espouser an. me serviroit grand ^ment et metroit Monsieur 

ditffaton,laffuComtessedeUnoxiaJiUe, le Due hors de quartier." She then gives 

mays que de creinte de Vous, il ne osoit en- various other disgusting particulars respect- 

tendre ; qne mesme le Comte d'Oxfort nosoit ing Elizabeth's person and her habits, which, 

ce rappcanter auveques sa famme de peur de as they do not affect my hero, I am glad that 

perdre la faveur qn'il esperoit recepvuir par I am at liberty to pass over. This letter, 

vous fayre 1'amour: Que vouz estiez prodi- written by Mary very indiscreetly a short 

gue envers toutes telles gens et ceuU qui ce time before her trial, must have cut off from 

mesloient de telles mesnees, comme a un de her all chance of mercy. See it at full length 

Vostre Cbambre Gorge, auquel Vous avriez as copied from Lord Salisbury's Papers.! St. 

donne troyg centz ponds de rante pour vous Tr. 1202. 
accoir apporte les nouvellet du rttour de d \uga Ant. 167, 176. 


knees of my harte I hu'bly crave at yo r Ma ty9 handes, not so 
much for my satisfaction as yo r own suerty, make the perfitest 
triaall hearof ; for if upon such occasions it shall please yo r 
Ma ty to syffce the chaffe from the wheate, the corne of yo r co'mon- 
wealth wolde be more pure, and rnyxt granes wold lesse infect 
the synnowes of yo r suerty w ch God must strengthen, to yo r 
Ma tys best and longest preservation." 

The following letter, addressed to the young Earl of Essex 
while commanding the English forces at the siege of Rouen, 
where his younger brother, vValter, had fallen, was written by 
Hatton a few months before his death (as is supposed) by the 
command of the Queen, who had become alarmed for the safety 
of her new favourite ; and it must have been a cruel task to 
impose upon the old Chancellor to pretend to take such an in- 
terest in the youth who had supplanted him : " My good Lord, 
lett me be bolde to warne you of a matter that many of yo r 
frendes here gretely feare, namely, that the late accident of 
yo r noble brother, who hathe so valiantly and honorably t>pent 
his lyfe in his Prince's and countrey's service, draw you not, 
through griefe or passion, to hasard yo r selfe over venturously. 
Yo r Lo p best knoweth that true valour consisteth rather in con- 
stant performenge of that wh ch hath been advisedly forethought 
than in an aptnes or readiness of thrusting yo r person indiffer- 
ently into every danger. You have many waies and many 
tymes made sufficient proof of yo r valientnes. No man doubt- 
eth but that you have enough, if you have not overmuche ; and 
therefore, both in regard of the services her Ma ty expecteth to 
receve from you, and in respect of the greife that would growe 
to the whole realme by the losse of one of that honorable birth, 
and that worthe w ch is sufficiently known (as greater hathe not 
been for any that hathe beene borne therin these many and 
many yeeres), I must even, before Almighty God, praye and 
require yo r Lo p to have that circumspectnes of yo r selfe w ch is 
titt for a generall of you r sorte." f 

Of his magnificent style of living, even when his means were 
slender, we have a striking account in an intercepted letter of 
M. de Champanaye, who was ambassador to Elizabeth from 
the Low Countries : " I was one day by Sir Christopher Hatton, 
captain of her Majesty's guard, invited to Eltham, a house of 
the Queen's whereof he was the guardian, at which time I 
heard and saw three things that in all my travel in France, 
Italy, and Spain, I never heard or saw the like. The first was 

Lodge, Hist. 111. f Iblil. 646. 


a concert of music so excellent and sweet it cannot be 
expressed; the second a course at a buck with the lx>.-t 
and most beautiful greyhounds that ever I did behold ; 
and the third a man of arms, excellently mounted, richly 
armed, and, indeed, the most accomplished eavaliero I had 
ever.seen." e 

In 1576 the Queen dined with Sir Christopher at El than:, 
and he provided hunting, music, and a passage of arms for her 
amusement. 11 

At Stoke Pogis, in Buckinghamshire, he had a country house 
constructed in the true Elizabethan taste. Here, when he was 
Lord Chancellor, he several times had the honour to entertain 
her Majesty, and showed that the agility and grace which had 
won her heart when he was a student in the Inner Temple 
remained little abated : 

To raise the ceiling's fretted height, 

Each panel in achievements clothing; 
Rich windows that exclude the light, 

Aud passages that lead to nothing. 

Full oft within the spacious walls, 

When he had fifty winters o'er him, 
My grave Lord Keeper' led the brawls, 

The Seal and maces danc'd before him. 

His bushy beard and shoe-strings green, 

His high-crown'd hat and satin doublet, 
Mov'd the stout heart of England's Queen, 

Though Pope and Spaniard could not trouble it. 

Sir Christopher Hatton left considerable estates to the son 
of his sister by Sir "William Newport. This nephew took the 
name of Hatton, and married the daughter of the first Lord 
Exeter, the granddaughter of Lord Treasurer Burghley, and 
afterwards famous as "the Lady Hatton," a beaiity at the 
Court of James I., courted in second marriage by Sir Francis 
Bacon and Sir Edward Coke. She having the bad taste to 
prefer the Chief Justice, he got possession of a great part of 

8 Segal's Tournaments, in Walpole's " Mis- no doubt for washing down the buck, as 

cellaneovu Antiquities." good eating requires good drinking. Com- 

h It would appear likewise that he was municated to me by Geo. R. Corner, Esq., of 

very kind to his poorer neighbours. In the Eltham. 

churchwardens' accounts of the parish of i By a pardonable contraction, Gray might 

Eltham for the year 1573, there is the follow- have allowed Sir Christopher to retain his just 

ing item : rank of Lord Chancellor, instead of reducing 

" Paid at the eating of the buck which Mr. him to " Lord Keeper." 
Hattoti gave to ye parishe, xxxvij*. vjj. ;" 


Chancellor Hatton's property, along with a companion who 
kept him in trouble for the rest of his days. 

The heir male of the Lord Chancellor, sprung from a col- 
lateral branch of the family, was ennobled in the reign of 
Charles I., by the title of Baron Hatton, of Kirby, in the 
county of Northampton ; and his son, in the year 1682, was 
created a Viscount by the title of Viscount Hatton, of Gretton. 
The family in the male line is now extinct, but is represented 
through a female by the present Earl of Winchelsea and 
Nottingham. 11 

k Grandeur of Law, ed. 1684, p. 16. Sir Harris Nicolas's Memoirs of Sir Christopher 




THE Queen heard of the death of Sir Christopher Hatton in 
the evening of the 20th of November, but, from an- 
cient recollections and a little remorse, she was too 
much affected to give any directions respecting the Great Seal 
till the next morning. She then ordered two Knights of the 
Garter, Lord Cobhain and Lord Buckhurst, to bring it to her. 
They found it locked up in an iron chest," in the house of the 
late Chancellor in Holborn, and forthwith delivered it to 
her Majesty in the palace at Westminster. She was still 
more perplexed than she had ever been before as to the dis- 
posal of it. 

Although the last experiment had turned out better than 
could have been reasonably expected, such heavy complaints 
had reached her ears against the appointment, that she would 
not venture again to select a Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper 
merely from his good looks and fashionable accomplishments. 
Her court consisted of two orders, favourites and men of bu- 
siness. She now felt that it was among the latter she was 
bound to look for the first Judge of the land. But Puckering, 
her Prime Serjeant, who was next in succession to the office, 
a profound Jurisconsult it is true, was in manners and ap- 
pearance such a contrast to his gay and gallant predecessor ; 
he was so dull, heavy, and awkward ; his whole deportmont 
was so " lawyer-like and ungenteel," that sho fur a long time 
could not summon resolution to consent lo his appointment. 
Meanwhile an expedient was resorted to which, I believe, was 
quite new, and has never since been followed, of having two 
Commissions for doing the duties of the Great Seal. Lord 
Burghley, Lord Hunsdon, Lord Cobhain, and Lord Buckhurst 
were appointed to seal writs, patents, and decrees ; and Sir 
Gilbert Gerrard, the Master of the Eolls, and others, were 

m " In cista de ferro colons rubei sub clavi nnper Cancellarii reclusa." R. Cl. 34 


authorised to hear and decide causes in the Court of Chan, 

Things went on according to this plan for seven months, 
but not very satisfactorily ; for there were disputes between 
the two sets of Commissioners respecting jurisdiction and 
fees ; and Gerrard's colleagues not deferring, as he expected 
they would, to his experience and rank, from their division 
of opinion the decrees pronounced by them had less weight. 

Prime Serjeant Puckering had about this time pleased her 

April 27, Majesty by the able manner in which he had con- 

1592. ducted the trial of Sir John Perrot, the Lord Deputy 
of Ireland, before the Star Chamber, and at last she consented 
to his having the Great Seal, with the lower rank of Lord 

JOHX PUCKERING is an instance of a man, without possessing 
brilliant parts or committing any dishonourable action, by 
industry, perseverance, and good luck, raising himself from 
obscurity to the highest civil office in the state. 

He was the younger son of a gentleman of very small for- 
tune, residing near Flamborough Head, in the county of York, 
who had great difficulty in giving him a decent education, and 
could give him nothing more. 

It is doubtful whether the future Lord K eeper ever had the 
advantage of being at a University. He studied law with 
great assiduity in Lincoln's Inn, and in the mootings in which 
he engaged he displayed much familiarity with the Year Bocks, 
which he pored over day and night. As an apprentice, or 
utter barrister, he had not much practice in common matters ; 
but he had a high reputation for learning, and he was con- 
sulted in cases of weight and difficulty. He was 
called to the degree of Serjeant at Law in the twenty- 
second of Elizabeth, along with Clench, Walmesley, Fleetwood, 
Periam, and other distinguished lawyers ; and now being en- 
titled to practise in the Court of Common Pleas, his extraor- 
dinary knowledge of the law of real actions, exclusively tried 
there, gave him such an advantage, that he at once rose to 

He next became a member of the House of Commons, where 
he gained considerable authority on questions re- 

AJ). 1581. , i , <? j- j -i 

spectmg regularity of proceeding and privilege, in 

" " Eodem die altera Commissio directa rabili curia Cancell. slgillata fuit." R. Cl 
fiilherto Gerrarde, militl, Magro Rot. et allis 31 Eliz. 
pro audiendo et terminando causas in hono- 


tin.- two kst sessions of the parliament which, after continuing 
on foot for eleven years, wao dissolved in the beginning of the 
year 1583. 

"\N hen a new parliament assembled, in November 1585, 
Puckering was elected Speaker, and filled the chair efficiently, 
if not gracefully. During the session the Queen sent for him, 
and reprimanded him for allowing a bill to be introduced 
for a further reform of the Church. He communicated her dis- 
pleasure to the House, and the bill was allowed to drop. At 
the prorogation he delivered an address to the Queen, most 
insufferably long, perplexed, and tedious. Alluding to the 
Queen's complaint of their debates, he said. " 1 can assure your 
Majesty, that in this assembly there was never found in any 
speech, private or public, any argument or token of the mind 
of any person that showed any intention to be offensive to your 
Majesty. And for proof hereof, when it pleased your Majesty 
to direct me to declare your pleasure to the Commons' House 
in what sort you would they should stay any further debating 
of the manner of reformation of such things as 1 hey thought 
might be reformed in that Church. I found them all ready to 
obey your Majesty's pleasure therein." He concluded by 
asking her to give her royal absent to the bills they had passed, 
exhibiting a specimen of the peifoimance of a Serjeant at 
law try ing to be eloquent : " Lastly. I am, in their names, to 
exhibit our most humble and eamest petitions to your Majesty 
to give life to the works, not of our hands, but of our minds, 
cogitations, and hearts ; which, otht-i wise than being lightened 
by the beams of your favour, shall be but vain, dumb, and 

At this time it was usual for a lawyer filling the chair of the 
House of Commons to continue to practise at the bar, and 
Puckering was employed as counsel for the Crown in the stale 
trials arising out of the plot to rescue the Queen of Scots. 
The prosecution of Babington and Tilney, two of the principal 
conspirators, was chiefly conducted by him, and he made 
speeches against them, read confessions, put questions to the 
accused, and. at a pinch, gave a little evidence himself, after 
the manner of the times. 

\\ hen a new parliament was called, with the view of carrv 
ing into execution the sentence pronounced against 
Mary, Puckering was again chosen Speaker, and was 
approved of by ' the Lords Lieutenants," who represented the 

1 Parl. Hist 330. 


Queen. There was a special order from her, which was 
implicitly obeyed, " that no laws should be made at all in this 
session." And the only business stirred was the execution of 
the sentence upon Mary. p 

When the preliminary forms had been gone through, the 
Speaker reminded the House of going upon the " Great Cause," 
as they termed it, and was unanimously directed to wait tipon 
the Queen, and to urge her to comply with their wishes. 
Puckering was received by her at Eichmond, and stated five 
reasons why the Queen of Scots should be put to death. " 1st, 
She and her favourers think she has not only a right to suc- 
ceed to your Crown, but to enjoy it in possession. 2ndly, She 
is obdurate in malice against your royal person, and there is no 
place for mercy, since there is no hope that she will desist 
from most wicked attempts. 3rdly, She boldly and openly 
professes it lawful for her to move invasion upon you. 4thly, 
She thinks it not only lawful, but honourable and meritorious, 
to take your life, as being already deprived of your Crown by 
the Pope's excommunication. 5thly, She is greedy for your 
Majesty's death, and prefers it before her own life and safety ; 
for in her directions to one of her late accomplices, she advised, 
under covert terms, that whatever should become of her, tra- 
gical execution should be performed upon you." 

Elizabeth delivered an extempore harangue in answer, 
saying, that " if, instead of Queens, they were but as two 
milkmaids with pails upon their arms, and if her own life only 
were in danger, and not the whole estate of their religion and 
well-doing, she would most willingly pardon the offence com- 
mitted against her ; but that she would, for the good of her 
subjects, take the matter into consideration, and send them her 
resolution with all conveniency." The ungainly Puckering 
was attended on this occasion, and prompted by, that accom- 
plished courtier, Hatton, the Queen's Vice-Chamberlain, who 
pleased her much more than the Serjeant, and, without any one 
suspecting it, was now so near to greatness. 

The fears of Elizabeth and the English nation being quieted 
by the death of Mary, for which they were all so eager, 
Puckering's next appearance was as counsel to prosecute Se- 
cretary Davison, in the Star Chamber, for his presumption in 
sending off the warrant for execution without due authority. 
The account says, that " he aggravated Davison's offence, and 
was forward to accuse, and yet seemed more pro forma tantum 

P 1 Part. Hist. 835. 


than of any matter he had to charge him withal." q And cer- 
tainly those who were then assembled must have had more 
gravity than the Roman Augurs meeting each other, if they 
were able to keep their countenance while they were playing 
their parts in this farce ; although it turned out a serious 
matter for the poor Secretary, who had a heavy fine imposed 
upon him, and was permanently deprived of his office. 

For these services, Puckering was now made Queen's Ser- 
jeant, and thereby put over the Attorney and Soli- AJ) J58g 
citor General/ 

He was soon after leading counsel for the Crown in 
the celebrated prosecution of Knightley for a libel before the 
Star Chamber,* and the important trial of the Earl of Arundel 
for high treason, before the Court of the Lord High Steward.' 

On this last occasion he had rather a curious dialogue with 
the noble prisoner, who desired to know how he was a traitor ? 
Puckering, Serj. " The traitors have a good conceit of my Lord 
of Arundel, knowing him to be affected to the Catholic cause. 
It is denned, that the Catholic cause is mere treason. Petro 
Paulo Eosetto came over to sound noblemen and gentlemen 
in England." There was a picture produced, found in my 
Lord's trunk, wherein was painted a hand bitten with a ser- 
pent, shaking the serpent into the fire. about which was 
written this posy, Quis contra nos ? on the other side a lion 
rampant, with his chops all bloody, and this posy, Tamen Leo. 
The noble prisoner in vain said " he had received it innocently 
as a new year's gift." He was found guilty by his Peers ; but 
being respited, he died a natural death in the Tower." 

Puckering's last appearance at the bar was on the trial of Sir 
John Perrot, late Lord Deputy of Ireland, for high treason. 
This rough soldier had always been very loyal to the Queen ; 
but, when in a passion, had been in the habit of speaking of 
her very disrespectfully ; and being recalled in disgrace, his 
enemies, taking advantage of his hasty expressions, were re- 
solved to bring him to the scaffold. 

Puckering, in opening the case to the Jury, gravely con- 
tended, that words were sufficient to establish the charge 
against the prisoner, for " the original of his treasons proceeded 
from the imagination of his heart, which imagination was in 
itself high treason, albeit the same proceeded not to any overt 

1 1 St. Tr. 1233. r Or. Jnr. 97. exorsus primam accn<ationis partem futiut 

1 St. Tr. 1263. explicavit" Camd. Eliz. vol. ii. 4. 

1 " PrcKEBTxcrs, Regius ad legem semens, u 1 St. Tr. 1253. * Ib. 1263. 


act ; and the heart being possessed with the abundance of his 
traitorous imagination, and not being able to contain itself, 
burst forth in vile and traitorous speeches, for Ex abundantia 
cordis os loquitur" y 

Evidence was then given that the prisoner, when Lord 
Deputy, had said at the Council table, " Stick not so much on 
the Queen's letters of commandment, for she may command 
what she will, but, we will do what we list." " Nay, God's 
wounds ! I think it strange she should use me thus." " This 
fiddling woman troubles me out of measure." " It is not safe 
for her Majesty to break such sour bread to her servants : " 
and that he had used other such uncourtly expressions. 
A feeble attempt was likewise made to show that he had 
been engaged in a treasonable correspondence with the 
Prince of Parma. 

Puckering, as leading counsel for the Crown, then summed 
up, and (seemingly without any speech from the prisoner, or 
direction from the bench) " prayed the jury to consider well 
of that which had been said, and willed them to go together." 
Perrot, however, burst out in a passion, desiring them to have 
a conscience in the matter, and to remember " that his blood 
would be required at their hands." The jury departed from 
the bar, and in three quarters of an hour returned with a ver- 
di t of (jtuilty* 

The Queen was much pleased with the report brought to 
her of Serjeant Puckering's zeal on this occasion, and she 
forthwith rewarded him for it ; but it should be remembered 
to her honour, that when she afterwards read an account of 
the trial, she refused to allow the sentence to be carried into 
execution, repeating with applause the rescript of Theo- 
dosius : " If any person speak ill of the Emperor through a 
foolish rashness or inadvertency, it is to be despised ; if 
out of madness, it deserves pity ; if from malice, it calls for 

Puckering's honours were showered upon him at Greenwich 
in the evening of Sunday the 28th of May, 1592. First he 
was conducted into the Queen's closet and there knighted." 
He was next admitted of the Privy Council, and having taken 
the oaths, he was led into the Council Chamber, placed at the 
lower end of the Council table, and made to sign a paper as 
Privy Councillor. He was then conducted back to the Queen's 

7 1 St. Tr. 1313. Ib. 1326. vata camera sufl in Equestrem dignitatem 

" J'er semetipsanc Dnarn Reginam in pri- receptus fuit et ornatus." 


closet, where her Majesty having addressed to him an eloquent 
discourse upon the duties of the office she was about to bestow 
upon him, and exhorted him to strive to please God and to do 
justice to all who should come before him as suitors," 3 delivered 
into his hands the Great Seal, with the title of " Lord Keeper." 
He then with the other Councillors returned to the Council 
Chamber, and took his place at the upper end of the table ac- 
cording to his new rank. 

Other memorable legal promotions took place at the same 
time, Sir John Popham being made Chief Jus- ljgo 
tice of the Queen's Bench, Sir Thomas Egerton, 
Attorney General, and Sir Edward Coke, Solicitor General. 

On the 4th of June, the Lord Keeper rode in great state 
from York House, near Charing Cross, which became the 
official residence of several successive Lord Keepers and Lord 
Chancellors, to Westminster Hall, attended by a long retinue 
of Lords, Knights, Judges, and lawyers, and publicly took 
the oaths in the Court of Chancery. Four days afterwards 
he sat the first time in the Star Chamber. 

Puckering held the Great Seal as Lord Keeper till his 
death, a period of four years, with the character of judicial 
ability and personal integrity. But although profoundly 
versed in all the mysteries of the common law, he was nothing 
of a civilian, and his mind was not much imbued with the 
general principles of jurisprudence. His practice had been 
confined almost entirely to the Common Pleas, till, in his 
capacity of Queen's Serjeant, he was obliged to conduct Go- 
vernment prosecutions. He had occasionally of late gone 
into the Court of Chancery ; but from Lord Chancellor 
Hatton his knowledge as an Equity lawyer did not much 
improve. He was thought therefore to take too narrow and 
technical a view of the questions which came before him, 
and he left the field of equity almost virgin ground to his 
successor, Lord Ellesmere, by whom it was cultivated so 

There being a call of Serjeants soon after his installation, he 
gave his brethren these admonitions, some of which would be 
very serviceable to the bar at the present day : 

" If you find the cause to be unconscionable, cruel, unmerciful, or 

b - Quoad tarn placitandum Deo, qm nt ab eo In omnibus satisnerent." Rot. CU 
ppli sui omnes coram ipso causas ad agendum 34 Eliz. 
bentes, bono moderamine tractarent et recte 


grounded upon malice or for vexation, reject it and deal not therein. 
Dissuade your client from it, which if you cannot do, leave him in his 
madness and phrensy. In all your pleadings seek not advantages to trip 
one of you the other by covin or niceness ; and as you are of one pro- 
fession, so lovingly and brotherly warn the one the other of anything 
mistaken or misconceived in pleading. / am to exhort you also not to 
embrace multitude of causes, or undertake more places of hearing causes 
than you are wett able to consider of or perform, lest thereby you either 
disappoint your clients when their causes be heard, or come unprovided, 
or depart when their causes be in hearing. For it is all one not to come, 
as either to come unprovided, or depart before it be ended." 

A new parliament was called in the beginning of the year 
Feb. 19, 1593, and Lord Keeper Puckering, in the presence 
1593. o f t, ne Queen, delivered the initiatory harangue to 
the two Houses. With all the prolixity and tediousness of 
Serjeants in old times, he dilated upon the relations of 
England with Spain, France, the Empire, the Low Coun- 
tries, and Scotland: He drew a piteous picture of her 
Highness's necessities, " which had actually caused her to 
sell part of her Highness's Crown : " He warned them that 
the calling of this parliament was " not for the making of any 
more new laws, for there were already so many that, rather 
than burden the subjects with more, it were fitting that an 
abridgement were made of those there were already ; and/' 
said he, " whereas, heretofore, it hath been used that many 
have delighted themselves in long orations, full of verbosity 
and of vain ostentations, the time that is precious should not 
be so spent." d 

The Speaker elected was the famous Edward Coke, latel.y 
made Solicitor General, who when presented at the bar of the 
House of Lords disqualified himself to the Queen in quaint 
phrase, saying, among other things, "as in the heavens a star 
is but opacum corpus until it have received light from the sun, 
so stand I corpus opacum, a mute body, until your Highness's 
bright shining wisdom hath looked upon me and allumed me. 
How unable I am to do this office my present speech doth tell : 
of this House I am most unfit ; for amongst them there are 
many grave, many learned, many deep wise men, and those of 
ripe judgments ; but I am untimely fruit, not yet ripe, a bud 
scarcely blossomed. So, as I fear me, your Majesty will say, 
Neglecta fruyi, eliguntur folia, amongst so many fair fruit ye 
hare plucked a shaken leaf." * 

c Keg. Lib. A. 1580, f. 189. A 1 Parl. Hist. 858. e Ib. 861. 


The Lord Keeper, by the Queen's command, thus addressed 
him : 

" Mr. Solicitor, her Grace's most excellent Majesty hath willed me 
to signify uiito you, that she hath ever well conceived of you since she 
first heard of you, which will appear when her Highness elected you 
from others to serve herself. By this, your modest, wise, and well- 
composed speech, you give her Majesty further occasion to conceive of 
you above that which ever she thought was in you. By endeavouring 
to deject and abase yourself and your desert, you have discovered and 
made known your worthiness and sufficiency to discharge the place you 
are called to. And whereas you account yourself corpus opacum, her 
Majesty, by the influence of her virtue and wisdom, doth enlighten you. 
and not only alloweth and approveth you, but much thanketh the 
Lower House, and commendeth their discretion in making so good a 
choice, and selecting so fit a man." 

Speaker Coke then delivered another florid oration in her 
Majesty's praise, concluding with the triple prayer in the name 
of the Commons, for freedom of speech, freedom from arrest, 
and access to her royal person. 

Lord Keeper Puckering. " Liberty of speech is granted you ; but 
you must know what privilege you have ; not to speak even- one what 
he listeth, or what cometh in his brain to utter but your privilege is 
Aye I or No I Wherefore, Mr. Speaker, her Majesty's pleasure is, that 
if you perceive any idle heads which will not stick to hazard their own 
estates, which will meddle with reforming the Church, and transposing 
the Commonwealth, and do exhibit any bills to that purpose, that you 
receive them not until they be viewed and considered by those who it 
is fitter should consider of such things, and can better judge of them.'" f 

The famous Peter Wentworth, the Puritan, and three other 
members, thought to evade this injunction by presenting a peti- 
tion to the Lord Keeper, instead of making a motion in the 
House, that the Lords would join in supplicating her Majesty 
that she would agree to settle the siiccession to the Crown, for 
which they had a bill ready drawn. But they were immedi- 
ately called before the Council, and the Lord Keeper telling 
them that the Queen was highly displeased at their presump- 
tion, they were all committed to prison. A motion was made 
for their release ; but it was answered that her Majesty had 
committed them for caiises best known to herself, and that she- 
would release them whenever she thought proper, and would 
be better pleased to do it of her own proper motion than from 
their suggestion. 8 

f I Parl. Hist. 8a E FEwes, r- -197 



At the close of the session Speaker Coke, having delivered 
an oration comparing her Majesty to the queen bee, sine aculeo, 
Lord Keeper Puckering was not very complimentary to the Com- 
mons, saying that " her Majesty thought that, in some things, 
they had spent more time than they needed. She misliked also 
that such irreverence was shown to Privy Councillors, who were 
not to be accounted as common knights and burgesses of the 
House, who are councillors only during the parliament ; whereas 
the others are standing councillors, and for their wisdom and 
great service are called to the service of the state." So was 
privilege dealt with by these great lawyers, Puckering and 
Coke, who were probably applauded by many for assisting in 
restraining the usurpation of the Commons ! 

During Puckering's time parliament did not again meet, 
and no other public event occurred in which he was con- 
cerned, entire tranquillity prevailing at home, and the atten- 
tion of the nation being absorbed by the expeditions fitted 
out against Spain. 

He died of an apoplexy, at York House, on the 30th 
of April, 1596, and was buried in Westminster 
Abbey, where there is a monument erected to his 

Lord Keeper Puckering was a mere lawyer, having no 
intercourse with scholars or men of fashion, and mixing 
with statesmen only when, in the discharge of his official 
duties, he was drawn among them from the society of Judges, 
Benchers, and Readers, in which he delighted. No sonnet 
was ever addressed to him. He probably never read the 
" Faery Queen," or heard of WILLIAM SHAKSPEARK, who was 
now rising into fame. Hence no personal anecdotes of him 
have descended to us, and for his history we are obliged 
chiefly to resort to musty rolls and records. Nevertheless, 
there can be no doubt that he was much respected, and looked 
up to in his own time. h 

'" Luw books were dedicated to him in maison.ponrle soulagementde ma veeillesBe, 

fluttering phrase. CROMPTON, the author of et aiant employe" journellement quelque 

" I/Authoritie et Jurisdiction desCourtsde la heure de loisir a composer ce petit reciieil 

Majestic de la Koygue," thus addresses him : pour aider al'industrie de ceux qui sans id'n's 

. ,, . collections seroicnt aulcunes fois, peult estre, 

eur> empesches a passer de 1'oeil tant et de si 

Monseigneur Jehan Puckering, Chiv. volumes, Jay trouves bon, me confiant 

Gardien dn Grand Sceau Dangleterre en VQStre J]aifue bonte et courtoisiep de voua 

Et Conseillier destate a Sa MajesUS. dedier treslmmWemcnt cc mien pe t j t ouvra?c . 

Monseigneur . . Et cela dautant plus hardomr nt, que .Te sachs 

M'egtarit retire aux champs et en ma ny estre contenue aulcuuc chose qui noit de 



The only charge ever brought against him was. that he sold his 
church patronage ; and this was supposed to have arisen from 
the corrupt practices of some of his officers, which never came 
to his knowledge. 1 

Lord Keeper Puckering was the last of four individuals 
who successively died in the reign of Elizabeth holding the 
Great Seal. In spite of the foibles iinputable to her, it is im- 
possible not greatly to admire her enlightened and steady 
administration of the state. In the preceding and succeed- 
ing reigns we find frequent changes in the high offices under 
the Crown from the personal caprice of the Sovereign or the 
uncontrolled struggles of opposing factions ; but she had the 
same prime minister for forty years, and she never took the 
Great Seal from any Keeper or Chancellor to whom she had in- 
trusted it. 

Puckering left behind him a large estate, acquired by his 
industry, without such royal grants as had swelled the pos- 
eessiens of his predecessors. In the reign of Charles II. his 
family ended in a female.* 

ma propre invention, ou qui pnisse pnr sa 
nouveaulte estre desagreable nya sa Majeste" 
ni a vostre Seignenrie, que tant Je houore et 
au quel Je souhaite le comble de tout honeur 
et felicite. 

De vostre Seigneurie 
Le tres humble et affectione Serviteur, 

This is a curious specimen of the dialect 
which English lawyers then used in their 
writings, and continued to use till the 18th 

" Intra hunc annum (MDXCVI) nonnulli 
insignioris notae et nobilitatis ex hujos vitae 
statione evocati fuerunt ; e quibus inprimis 
memorandns Joannes Puckeringus. Magni 
Angliae Sigilli Custos, qui ob famulorum 
sordes et corrnptelas in ecclesiasticis bene- 
ficiis nundinandis, ipse vir integer apud 
ecclesiasticos hand bene audiviu" Camden, 
voL u. p. 128. 

k This lady, whose name was Jane Pucker- 
ing, when only sixteen years of age, while 
walking in Greenwich Park on the 26th of 
September, 1649, was seized by several armed 
men, who put her on horseback and carried 
her to Erith. There she was introduced to 
one James Welsh, who pretended to have been 
long in love with her. Forcing her intoa cutter 
he set sail for Flanders, and confined her many 
months in a nunnery there, till at last 
she was induced through fear to marry him. 
As soon as she recovered her liberty she fled 
to England, and took legal means to invali- 
date the marriage. It was accordingly de- 
clared nail by Chief Justice Rolle and other 
commissioners appointed by the parliament 
to adjudicate upon it. She afterwards inter- 
married with Sir John Bate of Carl too, in 
the county of Leicester, but died without 
issue. Stem, in Coll. Arm. Clutterbuck't 
History of Herts. 




Ox the death of Sir John Puckering, Queen Elizabeth, accord- 
April 30, ing to her usual practice, was herself Chancellor ; but 
1596. on thjg occasion only for a very short time, having 
speedily made up her mind as to the mode in which the office 
was to be disposed of. On Saturday, the 1st of May, she sent 
Sir John Fortescue to York House for the " Clavis Eegni," and 
he, having received it from the officers of the late Lord Keeper, 
brought it to her at Greenwich. At the palace there a sealing 
took place on the 3rd of May, when Lord Cobham and Lord 
Buckhurst, by her orders, and in her presence, and in her 
name, sealed all writs and processes ready to be issued, restor- 
ing the Seal to its silken purse, and leaving it with her Majesty, 
who kept it in her bed-chamber." 1 

Three days afterwards she delivered it, with the applause 
of the whole nation, to Sir THOMAS EGERTOX, and he held it 
uninterruptedly for a period of twenty-one years. 

It is refreshing no wto have to contemplate the life of a man 
remarkable alike for talent, learning, and probity, who raised 
himself from obscurity by his own exertions, and who reached 
the highest honours without affixing any stain on his character, 
and with merit so acknowledged that he did not even excite 
the envy of rivals. 

He was the natural son of Sir Eichard Egerton, of an old 
knightly race in Cheshire, and was born in the parish of 
Doddlestone, in that county, in the year 1540. His mother's 
name was Sparks, from whom he is said to have inherited 
great beauty of countenance." The tradition of the country 
is that he was nursed by a farmer's wife at Lower Kinnerton, 
in the neighbourhood, and that being carried, while a child, 
to Doddlestone Hall, which he afterwards purchased when 
Chancellor, he expressed an eager desire to rise in the world, 

m Rot. Cl. 38 Kliz. p. 14. pointed out to travellers under the name of 

n The place where his parents met is still "Gallantry Banke." 

A.D. 1555. HIS EDUCATION. 309 

and to become the owner of it. He appears to have been 
very tenderly and carefully reared, and to have been acknow- 
ledged and cherished by his father's family. From their 
kindness, he had the advantage of a regular education. Every 
thing else he achieved for himself. 

Having been well grounded in Latin and Greek under pri- 
vate tuition, in his sixteenth year he was entered of Biasen 
Nose College, Oxford. Here he remained three years, to the 
great contentment of his teachers ; and, besides extending his 
knowledge of the classics, he particularly distinguished himself 
by his proficiency in the logic of Aristotle, which then consti- 
tuted, and still constitutes, so important a branch of the studies 
of that University. He was destined to the profession of the 
law, for which it was well judged that, by his habits and turn 
of mind, he was apt ; and having taken his bachelor's degree, 
he was removed to Lincoln's Inn. He now not only gave 
himself to the perusal of Bracton and Fleta, but he diligently 
attended the lectures of the " Eeaders," and the " Moot- 
ings," to which students were admitted in his Inn; and 
he was present at all remarkable pleadings and trials which 
took place at Westminster. It is related that he first gave 
earnest of his future eminence by interposing as Amicus Curia, 
while yet a student, when a verdict was about to be pro- 
nounced which would have ruined a worthy old lady who 
kept a house of public entertainment in Smithfield. Three 
graziers had deposited a sum of money with her, to be returned 
to them on their joint application. One of them, fraudulently 
pretending that he had authority to receive it, induced her to 
give him the whole of the money, and absconded with it. 
The other two brought their action against her ; and (as the 
story goes) were about to recover, when young Egerton 
begged permission to befriend the Court by pointing out a 
fatal objection which had escaped her Counsel as well as mv 
Lord Judge. Said he : " This money, by the contract, was 
to be returned to three, but tico only sue ; where is the third? 
let him appear with the others ; till then the money cannot be 
demanded from her." This turned the fortune of the day ; the 
plaintifis were nonsuited, and our young student was from that 
day considered to be of great mark and likelihood. 

This " traditionary story," although the junior in a case at nisi priut to trv the 

ill of personal property, 

Aw turn to address the jury 
e by bringing out an objection 


He by no means confined himself, like Serjeant Puckering, 
to the learning of real actions, but made himself a general 
jurist; and although there was not then such a custom as 
has been established within the last forty years, for young 
gentlemen to prepare themselves for the Court of Chancery 
exclusively, by spending their whole time, while they are 
keeping terms, in drawing bills and answers, he paid more 
attention than perhaps any one before him had done to the 
nature, extent, and history of the equitable jurisdiction of 
the Lord Chancellor ; and he now laid the foundation of that 
knowledge which he afterwards displayed in his writings on 
this subject, and in his decrees when he himself held the 
Great Seal." 

Being called to the bar, he soon got into respectable prac- 
tice, which steadily increased. In a few years, although he 
never took the degree of the coif, and therefore could not 
practise in the Court of Common Pleas, there were few caees of 
importance in the Court of Queen's Bench, in the Chancery, or 
the Exchequer, in which he was not counsel. 

It is well known that Queen Elizabeth took a lively interest 
in all suits in which her revenue, or any of her. rights, were 
concerned, and personally exercised a superintendence over the 
manner in which they were conducted. It is related, that hap- 
pening to be in court when Mr. Egerton was pleading in a 
cause against the Crown, her Majesty exclaimed : "On my 
troth, he shall never plead against me again ! " and immedi- 
ately made him one of her counsel ; whereby he was entitled 
to wear a silk gown, and to have precedence over other barris- 
ters. But he continued not only to argue the cases of his clients 
in Court, but most laboriously to assist in advising upon the 
witnesses to be called and the evidence to be adduced ; rather 
mixing what we consider the distinct functions of the attorney 
and the counsel. 1 * 

which, he had carefully concealed from his called to the bench next moot, and that he 

leader. But the fair writer had an undoubted should have ancientie of Mr. Clerke and Mr. 

right to dispense both with the forms of legal Owen;" and one of 29 Eliz., when, being 

process, and with professional etiquette. Solicitor General, he was appointed Trea- 

I take my anecdote from the Reverend surer. He appears to have attended Councils 

Francis Egerton's "Life of Lord Ellesmere," regularly till 27th May, 35 Eliz., after which 

the worst piece of biography I have ever had his name is not to be found in the list of 

the misfortune to be condemned to read. benchers present. 

P On an examination of the books of tho 1 I give as a specimen a letter from him 

Society of Lincoln's Inn, the only entries to a country client, respecting the progress of 

respecting him are one of 22 Eliz., when it a suit in Chancery. There can be little 

was resolved that " Mr. Egerton should be donbt of his perfect sincerity respecting Utt 

A.D. 1531. 



In the year 1581, there was a move in the law on the death 
of Sir William Cord well, the Master of the Rolls, June 23, 
when Gerrard, the Attorney General, succeeded him ; 1681 - 
Popham, the Solicitor General, was made Attorney ; and 

evidence of the entry to avoid the fine, but 
his language reminds me of an anecdote I 
have heard of the manner in which a similar 
difficulty was obviated in a case tried on the 
Oxford circuit. At a consultation the night 
before the trial, the plaintiff's attorney, whose 
name was Timothy Tickler, intimated that 
the defendant had discovered that there had 
been a flue levied, which was to be given in 
evidence nest day. Counsel, "That will 
be fatal, unless there has been an entry to 
avoid the fine." Tickler. "What is the 
meaning of an entry to avoid a fine?" 
Counsel. " The party who claims the land, 
after the fine is levied goes upon the land 
and says, / enter to avoid all fines." The 
consultation broke up without a ray of hope. 
But next morning, a supplemental brief was 
delivered, " to prove that after the fine 
levied in this case, an entry was duly made 
by the plaintiff to avoid it, call TIMOTHY 

" The right Richard Brereton, 

eaq r ., thes be delivered at Worsley." 
"Your cause touchinge Peudleton Heye 
hath bene twyse hearde, upon Thursdaye 
last, and this Saterdaye, beinge the xv* of 
this October, and hath houlden the Court 
bothe the same dayes without dealinge in 
any other matter. Yt hath sythens fallen 
out very well, and this daye, when 1 expected 
an order for you, M r . Sherington dyd stande 
upon a relesse, which he supposeth to have 
bene made by your grandmother to M r . 
Tyldesleye, and a fyne with proclam. levyed 
by >P. Tyldesleye to W. Sherington, beyen 
selfe in the viij" 1 yere of the queue's MaT 
raigne ; which fyne as yt came unloked for, 
and for my parte was never hearde of before, 
so I affynned that you had made severall 
entries to avoyde the same and all such lyke 
incombrances ; which, yf you can prove, the 
opynyon of the Court semeth to waye fullye 
with you, and so all your counsel! thynke. 
The Courte, therefore, is desyrous to be 
satysfyed by some prooffe to be made by you 
touchinge that poynt : twoo wytnesses alone 
wyll suffyse. You maye at your choyse 
eyther snde tbm by thes, or else have a 
commyssion returnable the next tenne, 

wherin M 1 . Sherington must then joyne with 
you. Wherfore, in myne opynyon, the better 
waye bothe for spedye procedinge, and ease 
of charge, is to sende &pp twoo by thes so 
soone as you can. I woulde you shonlde 
make choyse of twoo such as are of good 
credyte kud uuderstandinge, which can depose 
the fyrst entree which you made into Pelton 
Heye after your grandmother's death, which 
(as I thynke) was before you came to yonr 
full age ; yf the same can also testyfye the 
other entrees which you made synce, it will 
be the better. 1 thynke il r . Wyll. Leycester 
and James Russell have bene with you at all 
the entrees you have made. Such as you 
sende may brynge the notes which you dyd 
sette downe of the tyme and manner of your 
entree Into Pelton Heye, and also a copye of 
the offyce roule after the death of your grand- 
mother, by which it maye appere what daye 
and yere she dyed. I doe think that this 
course wyll be lesse charge then to have a 
commission, besydes the delaye, and as yet 
nothing is sayed of the fyne which was levyed 
for the assuring of your Aunt Dorothye's 
annnytye, which I feare more then all the 
rest, and which, by longe de'.aye, maye 
happelye come to lyght. Yf that fyne be 
not objected, I doubt not but before thende 
of this tenne, upon prooffe of your entree, 
you stall have such an order for Pelton 
Heye, as you shall have no cause to mys- 

" For Swynton Moore this daye, at rysinge 
of the Court, the matter was a litle entred 
into, but for want of tyme, deferred untyll 
Thursdaye next, and is then to recey ve order, 
for that I suspecte (as I have done alwayes) 
that you are lyke to be dismissed to the com- 
mon lawe ; but what maye be done shall, for 
now I begynne to learne to playe the Soly- 
cytor pretylye. Your wytnesses are all 
charged with perjurye by IT. Sherington, for 
it semeth he is perswaded that no man can 
speake true. Yf you shoulde deal with hU 
wytnesses in lyke sort. I thynke you shoulde 
but requyte hym as he deserveth, but of that 
you maye consyder.and leite me knoweyour 
mynde before thende of the tenne. 

" Thus, in hast, I take my leave, with my 
hartye commendations to you acd yout 


Egerton, who, on account of his unrivalled eminence, had 
been long destined to the honours of the law, both by the 
Queen and the voice of his profession, was the new Solicitor 
General. He held this office near twelve years, during which 
time he took a very prominent part in conducting state pro- 
secutions, and all the business of the Crown; for, though 
inferior in rank, he was superior in eloquence and address to 
the Queen's Serjeants and the Attorney General. Conforming 
to the practice of the times, when prosecuting for high trea- 
son, he put questions to the prisoner, and stated facts of which 
he oftered no proof beyond his own assertion. For example, 
on the trial of Tilney, charged with being concerned in a 
conspiracy along with Babington and Ballard to assassinate 
the Queen, the prisoner having answered, "As for Ballard' 8 
coining to me, I do confess it ; but it was in such public man- 
ner as no man in the world could judge his coming for any 
such intent as treason : he came openly in the day-time, and 
undisguised ;" this retort is made by the Solicitor General : 
" Tilney, you say true ; he came not disguised, but I will tell 
you how he came ; being a popish priest, he came in a grey 
cloak laid on with gold lace, in velvet hose, a cut satin doublet, 
a fair hat of the newest fashion, the band being set with silver 
buttons." r 

\\hen the unfortunate Mary was to be tried before her pro- 
secutors, Egerton was particularly consulted as to the 
586 ' designation by which she ought to be indicted. 
There was a great scruple about calling her " Queen of 
Scots," because many thought a Sovereign Prince could not 

wyffe, and M r . Wyll. Leycester, and all other sende uppe also the copye of the receverye 

my frendes. Lyncolne's lime, this Saterdaye, at Lancaster, and the copye of the indenture 

15 Octobris, 1580. inrolled at Chester, and dcdes of refeffmenl 

" Yours assured, in all I can, m^ 6 a 9 H - 8 ' y u sha11 doe wel l. You 

" THO EGERTON " have all but the dede of refeffment layed to- 

gyther to have used the same at Lancaster 

" After I had wrytten thus much, and so agaynst Tho. Brereton, and the dede of 

had fynyshed my letter, I had understand- refeffment I thought good to suppresse and 

inge that Mr. Sherington meant to stande not to shewe in that matter, but now, for the 

upon the former oulde tytle of Worseley of better answering of all thes and such lyke 

Brothes, and that you were not the right quarrellinge objections, I woulde have you to 

heyro, and so to call in question your tytle send all uppe to me, and then they niaye be 

and the oulde poyntof the bastardye agayne. used as occasyon shall requyre. And so I 

For doubt of this you shall doe well to .sende bidd you agayne fare well. 16 Octobris, 15SO. 

uppe the Pope's bull touching that mariage, " Your's, all I can, 

and the copye of the recorde in the seconde "Tno. KC.KRTOS.'' 

yoare of Kinge Henrye the Fourthes tyme. From Lord praneit Egertm's .MM. 
by which your auncestor recovered in the 

assyse agaynst Worseley of Brothes. Yfyou ' 1 St. Tr. 1150. 


lawfully be tried before any earthly tribunal ; therefore he 
recommended, that she should be named ''Maria, filia et haere* 
Jacobi Quinti, nuper Eegis Scotomm, conmiuniter vocata Ee- 
gina Scotorum, et Dotaria Franciae." The indictment being 
framed, he went special, with Gawcley and Popham, to Fother- 
ingay, to conduct the prosecution. He summed up at the 
conclusion of the second day. putting the Commissioners in 
mind what would become of them, their honours, estates, and 
posterity, if the kingdom were to be transferred from her pre- 
sent Majesty to a Popish successor.' The Lord Treasurer, 
though the directing Judge, followed on the same side before 
he asked the royal prisoner for her defence ; when she begged 
to be admitted to the presence of Elizabeth, and to be heard 
before a full parliament. 

Mr. Solicitor was particularly severe as Counsel against tho 
Earl of Arundel, arguing that, because it was proved AJ) 15g9 
he had said he would be ruled by Cardinal Allen in 
any thing that should concern the Catholic cause, My Lord 
must needs be culpable for all the treasons Allen hath practised 
or procured. When the Spanish fleet was upon our coast, and 
news was brought to the Tower (where he was confined) that 
the Spaniards sped well, then the Earl would be merry ; and 
when news came that the English fleet sped well, the Earl 
would be sorry. When the Spanish fleet was upon the coast 
of Kent, my Lord said. It is a great wood, and a puissant fleet ; 
we shall have lusty play shortly, and I hope we shall plague 
them that have plagued us." ' On such overt acts of treason, so 
proved, was the head of the house of Norfolk convicted ; but 
Elizabeth wished only to daunt him and his adherents, and 
she suspended the execution of his sentence till, after a long 
imprisonment, he died a natural death. 

On the 2nd of June. 1592, Egerton succeeded Popham as 
Attorney General, and had for his new colleague, as Solicitor, 
the famous Sir Edward Coke, who had already fixed the atten- 
tion of the public by his extraordinary vigour of intellect, his 
profound knowledge of the common law, and his unexampled 

" Solicitator Delegates submonuit quid de rator secundarius, his snmmatim repetitis, 

illis et eorum honoribus fortunis et poster-is Majestatem laesisse argnit ex triplice temporia 

fieret si regrmm ita transferretur." Camd. distinctione, scilicet priusqnam classis His- 

Eliz. vol. i. p. 430. See 1 St. Tr. 1138. panica adveneret, cum advenent, com 

- ' Camden's account of this proceeding fugeret," &c. Camd. Eliz. vol. li. p. 6. 1 

sprees substantially with that in the State St. Tr. 1249. 
Trials. " Kgertonus Solicitator, sive proca 


The only official act of Mr. Attorney General Egerton which 
has come down to us is his praying for judgment against Sir 
John Perrot, late Lord-Deputy of Ireland, who had been pre- 
viously convicted of treason for using some discourteous lan- 
guage respecting the Queen. Mr. Attorney now complained 
much that " Sir John protested his innocency to seduce and 
deceive the audience to think him innocent, whereas it was 
most manifest that he was most justly condemned of most 
heinous treasons, and that in his trial he received most favour- 
able bearing." Whereunto Sir John Perrot replied, and said, 
" Mr. Attorney, you do me wrong now, as you did me before." 
"I never did you wrong," said Mr. Attorney. " You did 
me wrong," said Sir John. " Instance wherein I did you 
wrong," said Mr. Attorney. "You did me wrong," said Sir 
John. "I never did you wrong," said Mr. Attorney. All 
these speeches were spoken with great vehemency, each to 
the other." But notwithstanding this unseemly altercation, 
Egerton was a man of mild demeanour, and was never known 
to be betrayed into such invective and vituperation as his 
successor indulged in upon the trials of the Earl of Essex and 
Sir Walter Kaleigh. 

He now reached the honour of knighthood, which was in 
, that age highly esteemed, and conferred only as the 

A.I>. 1593. i r i v 

reward 01 long service. 

While Attorney General he was appointed Chamberlain of 
the County Palatine of Chester, an office of considerable power 
and dignity. 7 

On the 10th of April, 1594, he was made Master of the 
Eolls, as successor to Sir Gilbert Gerrard. In this new office, 
ably disposing of certain suits which were referred to him, and 
occasionally assisting the Lord Keeper, he speedily showed the 
highest qualifications as an Equity Judge, and the Great 
Seal was considered his on the next vacancy. 

During this interval, having comparative leisure, he exer- 
cised his pen, and, amongst other things, wrote a little treatise, 
which we should have found a great curiosity if it had been 
preserved to us, "On the Duties of the Office of Solicitor 
General." This was dedicated to young Francis Bacon, 
who was then impatiently expecting the office, whom he 

u 1 St. Tr. 1329. Solicitor General, Chancellor of the Kx- 

x I have observed various instances during chequer, or Speaker of the House of Com- 

the Tudor reigns of men being knighted after niong. 

having been long in the office of Attorney or >' Eg. Pap. 192. 


always patronised, and whose claims he thought he might thus 

On the sudden death of Lord Keeper Puckering, Egerton 
was immediately hailed as his successor. The Queen May s, 
having made up her mind in his favour, he was sent 139 - 
for to the Court at Greenwich. On the landing at the top of 
the stair, Lords Cobham and Buckhurst and Sir Eobert Cecil 
were ready to receive him. They conducted him into the 
Queen's outer private room, where her Majesty was standing 
upon a piece of embroidered carpet, Lord Burghiey, the Lord 
Treasurer, attending her. Him alone, on account of his age 
and infirmity, she desired to be seated, and she begged him to 
lean his back against the tapestry. a Egerton having then 
knelt down on his right knee, the Queen made a speech mag- 
nifying his fame and fitness for high judicial dignity ; and, 
taking the Great Seal with both her hands, she delivered it 
into his keeping. He, remaining on his knee, made a suitable 
reply, acknowledging his insufficiency, and comparing himself 
disparagingly with his predecessors. Her Majesty placed both 
her hands on his shoulders, and offered to raise him from the 
ground. 11 He was then sworn of the Privy Council ; and, 
having sealed a writ, and gone through the usual forms, he 
gave the Seal to his purse-bearer, to be borne before him. 
After which it pleased her Majesty to hold a private conversa- 
tion with him for near half an hour, and then very graciously 
to permit him to walk off with the Great Seal. c 

As a special mark of her Majesty's favour, Egerton still 
continued Master of the Kolls ; and he held this office, along 
with the Great Seal, during the remainder of the present 

1 Sir Robert Cecil thanked Egerton in a Dns Bnckhurste et Rohertus Cecil miles 

letter, in which be says, " I have understood, aderant qnando cranes tres dcm Th' mam 

by my cousin Bacon, what a friendly and Egerton militem Serenissime line Regin* 

kind offer you have made him, the better to presentabant qne adtunc in exteriorc privata 

arm him with your observations (for the camera insimnl aderat ibique stetit super 

exercise of solicitorship), which otherwise polymitam Phrigiam infra ptristroma; Regale 

may be got with time. I will study to let honoratissimo Dno Bnrghley Magno Thesan- 

you know how great an obligation any man's rario Anglie illam attenden. quern ob aetatem 

kindness to him doth throw upon me." But infenn et imhecillem Regina sedere jussit 

as we shall see hereafter, the Cecils were et dorsum suum ad aulea attalica declinare." 

jealous of their kinsman, and tried to depress b Dna Kegina utrisqne suis manibua 

him. super bumeros ejns impositis modo quodam 

a The Close Roll, after stating that Egerton illam ab humo quasi obtulit snblevare." 

was sent for to Greenwich, thus proceeds : c " Serenitati sue visnm est secnm pe 

Et eo nbi ventum est inter horas quintam dimidiatam fere horam colloqni et tune cum 

et sextam ejusdem diei in mcsanla juxta ca- maeno sigill. graciosissime abire permiiiu" 

cnmen gradus honoratissimi Dns Cobham CL R. 38 Eliz. 


reign. He was so familiarly acquainted with the practice of 
the Court, and so devoted to the discharge of his judicial 
duties, that he could easily get through the business of Chan- 
cery without any assistance, and the suitors never had such 
cause to be satisfied since the time of Sir Thomas More, although 
there had been at the same time both a Lord Chancellor or 
Lord Keeper and a Master of the Bolls to act as his assistant 
or deputy. 

His appointment to the Great Seal seems to have given 
universal satisfaction. " The Master of the Eolls," says 
Eeynolds, in a letter to the Earl of Essex, " has changed his 
style, and is made Lord Keeper only by her Majesty's 
gracious favour and her own choice. I think no man ever 
came to this dignity with more applause than this worthy 
gentleman." d 

So Anthony Bacon, the elder brother of Francis, writing at 
this time to a friend at Venice, after mentioning the death of 
Lord Keeper Puckering, thus proceeds, " into whose place, 
with an extraordinary speed, her Majesty hath, ex proprio motu 
et spedali gratia, advanced Sir Thomas Egerton, with a general 
applause both of court, city, and country, for the reputation 
he hath of integrity, law, knowledge, and courage. It was 
his good hap to come to the place freely, without competition 
or mediator." e Camden's testimony, though more moderate, 
is more valuable. " Successit Thomas Egertonus, prima- 
rius Kegis Procurator, magna expectatione et integritatis 
opinione." f 

High as the expectations of the public were of the new 
Lord Keeper, they were by no means disappointed. Having 
taken his seat in the Court of Chancery in Easter term with 
as little parade as possible, he immediately proceeded to the 
despatch of business, and from the beginning he afforded the 
example of a consummate Judge. He was not only courteous 
in his manner, but quiet, patient, and attentive waiting to 
be instructed as to the facts and law of the case by the coun- 
sel who had been studying them never interrupting to show 
quickness of perception or to anticipate authorities likely to 
be cited, or to blurt out a jest yet venturing to put a ques- 
tion for the right understanding of the points to be decided, 
and gently checking wandering and prolixity by a look or a 
hint. He listened with undivided attention to the evidence, 

d Birch's Memoirs of Quoon Elizabeth. e Ibid. 

( Cam. Eljz. vuL ii. 128. 

A.D. 1596. HIS DECISIONS. 317 

and did not prepare a speech in parliament or write letters 
to his correspondents under pretence of taking notes of the 
arguments addressed to him. Nor did he affect the reputation 
of great despatch by deciding before he had heard both parties, 
or by referring facts and law to the Master which it was his 
own duty to ascertain and determine. "When the case admitted 
of no reasonable doubt, he disposed of it as soon as the hearing 
was finished. Otherwise, he carried home the papers with 
him, not throwing them aside to moulder in a trunk, till, 
driven by the importunity of counsel asking for judgment, he 
again looked at them, long after the arguments he had heard 
were entirely forgotten and he could scarcely make out from 
his " breviate book " the points that had been raised for his 
decision but within a short tune spontaneously giving judg- 
ment in a manner to show that he was complete master of the 
case, and never aggravating the anguish of the losing party 
by the belief that if the Judge had taken more pains, the re- 
sult would have been different. Being himself Master of the 
Rolls, and there being no Vice-Chancellors he was tried as a 
Judge of appeal only in hearing exceptions to the Masters 
reports ; but on such occasions he did not grudge the neces- 
sary trouble to understand the matters submitted to him, nor 
shrink from the responsibility of reversing what he considered 
to be erroneous. 

Although a few of his judgments are mentioned in Tothill 
and other compilers, none of them have come down in a 
shape to enable us to form an adequate opinion of their 
merits: but they are said to have been distinguished for 
sound learning, lucid arrangement, and great precision of 

The only persons by whom he was not entirely approved 
were the Common-law Judges. He had the boldness to ques- 
tion and correct their pedantic rules more freely than Lord 
Keeper Puckering, Lord Keeper Bacon, or any of his prede- 
cessors had done, and after judgment in actions at law he not 
unfrequently granted injunctions against execution, on the 
ground of fraud in the plaintiff, or some defect of procedure by 
which justice had been defeated. He thus not only hurt the 
pride of these venerable magistrates, but he interfered with 
their profits, which depended mainly upon the number of suits 
brought before them, and the reputation of their respective 
Courts. These jealousies, which began soon after his appoint- 
ment, went on constantly increasing, till at last, as we* shall 


see, they produced an explosion which shook Westminster Hall 
to its centre. 

In this struggle he finally triumphed over the Common-law 
Judges ; but they entirely defeated him in an attempt which 
he made to strengthen the jurisdiction of his Court by the 
imposition of fines. It had always been held, as it now is, 
that a decree in Chancery does not directly bind the laud like 
a judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, and that it can 
only be enforced by imprisonment of the person. Egerton 
imposed a fine upon Sir Thomas Thornilthorp for not per- 
forming his decree in Chancery concerning lands of inherit- 
ance, and estreated it into the Exchequer, with a view of its 
being there levied by Crown process. The party pleaded that 
the fine was illegal, " and upon debate of the question in 
Court and good advisement taken, it was adjudged that the 
Lord Chancellor had no power to assess any such fine, for 
then, by a mean, he might bind the interest of the land where 
he had no power, but of the person only, and thereupon the 
said Sir Thomas Thomilthorp was discharged of the said 

Not satisfied with this, Egerton made another experiment 
with the like view and the like success. For non-perform- 
ance of a decree against one Waller he fined him, and upon 
process of extent out of Chancery seized his lands in Mid 
dlesex, " whereupon Waller brought his assize in the Court of 
Common Pleas, where the opinion of the whole Court agreed 
in omnibus with the Court of Exchequer." h 

We have on record a very striking instance of the vigour 
with which he strove to correct the prolixity of the written 
pleadings in his Court. In a case of Mylward v. Weldon, 
there being a complaint of the length of the Replication, and 
the Lord Chancellor being satisfied that " whereas it extended 
to six score sheets, all the matter thereof which was pertinent 
might have been well contained in sixteen," an order was 
made in these words : " It appearing to his Lordship, by the 
confession of Richard Mylward, the plaintiif 's son, that he did 
devise, draw, and engross the said Replication, and because 
his Lordship is of opinion that such an abuse is not in any 
sort to be tolerated proceeding of a malicious purpose to in- 
crease the defendant's charge, and being fraught with much 
impertinent matter not fit for this Court, it is therefore ordered 
that the Warden of the Fleet shall take the said Richard 

I Sir Thomas Thomilthorp's case, 4 Inst.84. h Waller's case, 4 Inst. 84. 


Mylward into his custody, and shall bring him into Westmin- 
ster Hall on Saturday about 10 of the clock in the forenoon, 
and then and there shall cut a hole in the myddest of the 
same engrossed Eeplication, which is delivered unto him fur 
that purpose, and put the said Bichard's head through the 
same hole, and so let the same Eeplication hang about his 
shoulders with the written side outward, and then, the same 
so hanging, shall lead the same Eichard, bareheaded and bare- 
faced, round about Westminster Hall whilst the Courts are 
sitting, and shall show him at the bar of every of the three 
Courts within the Hall, and then shall take him back again to 
the Fleet and keep him prisoner until he shall have paid 1 0?. to 
her Majesty for a fine, and 20 nobles to the defendant for his 
costs in respect of the aforesaid abuse, which fine and costs are 
now adjudged and imposed upon him by this Court for the 
abuse aforesaid." ' The order should have gone on to require 
that a print of the unlucky Eichard, with his head peeping 
through the volumes of sheep skin, should, in terrorem, be 
hung up in the chambers of every equity draughtsman. 

During a year and a half, Lord Keeper Egerton had few 
distractions from the discharge of his judicial duties ; ^ D 
but in the end of 1597, the exhausted state of the Ex- 
chequer, from the great charges of the Spanish war, compelled 
Elizabeth reluctantly to call a parliament. On the first day 
of meeting, the Queen being seated on the throne, he, by her 
command, declared to the two Houses the cause of the sum- 
mons. After confessing that the royal presence of her Ma- 
jesty, the view of such an honourable assembly, the weighti- 
ness of the service, and his own weakness, appalled him much, 
he gives a florid description of the prosperity of the kingdom, 
with a compliment to the Queen's extraordinary modesty. 
" This Her Majesty is pleased to ascribe to the great power and 
infinite mercy of the Almighty ; and therefore it shall well be- 
come us all most thankfully, on the knees of our hearts, to 
acknowledge no less unto his holy name." Next comes a most 
excellent passage on Law Beforni, very applicable to the pre- 
sent time. " And whereas the number of the laws already made 
are very great, some also of them being obsolete and worn out 
of use ; others idle and vain, serving to no purpose ; some again 
over heavy and too severe for the offence ; others too loose and 
slack for the faults they are to punish, and many of them so 
full of difficulties to be understood that they cause many con- 

i Reg. Lib. A. I59t>, f. 672. 


troversies ; you are therefore to enter into a due consideration 
of the said laws, and where you find superfluity to prune, 
where defect to supply, and where ambiguity to explain, that 
they be not burthensome, but profitable to the commonwealth." 
He then strongly presses for a supply, thus concluding, 
" Quod justum est necessarium est ; nothing can be more just 
than this war ; nothing ought to be more necessary than care- 
fully to provide due maintenance for the same." 

Serjeant Yelverton being presented at the bar as Speaker- 
elect, the Lord Keeper, in the Queen's name, overruled his 
disqualification, 11 and gave her assent to his prayer for the 
ancient liberties and privileges of the Commons, " with admo- 
nition, however, that the said liberties and privileges should 
be discreetly and wisely used, as was meet." m 

The Lord Keeper not yet being a Peer, during the session 

he had only to put the question in the House of Lords, without 

taking any share in the debates ; but he was once asked his 

Feb. 9, opinion on a question of precedence. Thomas Howard, 

1598. second son of the Duke of Norfolk, being created 

Baron Howard de Walden, claimed to take place next after 

Earls, because the younger son of a Duke is considered by the 

heralds of higher rank than a Viscount ; but, by the advice of 

the Lord Keeper, he was placed below all Barons, without 

prejudice to his precedence elsewhere. 

A subsidy being granted, the attempts in the Commons at 
reform became very distasteful to the Queen ; particularly a 
bill to put down the nuisance of monopolies, which now caused 
deep and universal discontent ; and she brought the session, 
to a speedy close. The Lord Keeper then, by her order, re- 
buked the Commons for their presumption : " Touching the 
monopolies, her Majesty hoped that her dutiful and loving 
subjects would not take away her prerogative, which is the 
chiefest flower in her garden, and the principal and head 

fc We have not the particulars of Yelver- all nothing but my daily industry. Neither 

ton's disqualifying speech at the bar of the from my person nor nature doth this choice 

House of Lords, but it was probably a repe- proceed ; for he that supplieth this place 

tition of that in the Commons, where he ex- ought to be a man big and comely, stately 

pressed wonder how he came to be chosen, and well spoken, his voice great, his courage 

" as it could not be for his estate, his father majestical, his nature haughty, and his purse 

dying having left him only a small annuity." heavy : but contrarily, the stature of my 

Then," said he, " growing to man's estate body is small, myself not so well-spoken, my 

and some small practice of the law, I took a voice low, my carriage lawyer-like and of the whom I have had many children, the common fashion, my nature soft and bashful, 

keeping of us all being a great impoverish- my purse thin, light, and never yet plentiful." 

meiit to my estate, and the daily living of us 1 Part. Hist. 898. * Ib. 895. 


pearl in her crown and diadem, but that they would rather 
leave that to her disposition." " 

After the death of the great Lord Burghley, although his 
son, Sir Robert Cecil, was the Queen's chief Councillor, she 
never was under the sway of any one minister, and Egertou 
enjoyed a considerable share of her confidence. He was ac- 
cordingly named chief Commissioner to negotiate in London a 
treaty with the Dutch, and after long conferences with their 
ambassadors, an advantageous treaty was signed by which 
the Queen was eased of an annual charge of 120,000?., the 
payment of the debt due to her was secured, and a large 
subsidiary force was stipulated for in case of a Spanish in- 

In 1601, the Lord Keeper was again employed as a diplo- 
matist in concluding a treaty with Denmark, whereby an im- 
portant ally was secured, and the Protestant interest in Europe 
was materially strengthened. 

He nowhere appears to greater advantage than in his con- 
duct to the Queen's favourite, the Earl of Essex. This young 
nobleman had high and generous qualities along with great 
faults. Egerton did not, like others, flatter his vices during 
his prosperity, nor abandon him when his imprudence had in- 
volved him in difficulties, and ruin was impending over him. 
Although unequal in age, and of very dissimilar characters 
and pursuits, a strict intimacy had subsisted between them 
almost from the time of Essex's first appearance at Court ; and 
now that Sir Thomas was in the dignified position of Lord 
Keeper, he exercised all his influence and authority to correct 
the irregularities of his youthful friend, and to rescue him 
from the consequences of his imprudence. 

Queen Elizabeth, in a fit of anger, having given her favourite 
a box on the ear, accompanied with the w r ords " Begone and 
be hanged," he thought that, though the insult came from a 
woman, as she was his Sovereign it ought to be resented, and 
clapping' his hand to his sword, he swore " he would not bear 
such usage were it from Henry VIII. himself." In a great 
passiou he withdrew from Court. The Lord Keeper imme- 

1 ParL Hist. 906 doubt Dot bnt very famous effects will dailr 

" They live and join very honourably spring to her Majesty's honour, the good of 

together out of which correspondency and the state, and the comfort of both their 

noble conjunction betwixt Mars and Pallas, Lordships' particular true friends." Birch s 

bctwtxt justice and valour, I mean betwixt Memoirt of Queen Elizabeth. Letter of Air- 

to admirable a nobleman as the Earl, and thony Bacon. 
co worthy a justice as the I-ord Keeper, I 

VOL. H. T 


diately gave him salutary advice in a long and most excellent 
letter, of which I will give a passage : 

" It is often seen, that he that is a stander by seeth more than he 
that played the game, and for the most part any man in his own 
cause standeth in his own light. You are not so far gone but you 
may well return. The return is safe, but the progress dangerous and 
desperate. If you have any enemies, you do that for them which 
they could never do for themselves, whilst you leave your friends to 
open shame and contempt, forsake yourself, overthrow your fortunes, 
and ruin your honour and reputation. My good Lord, I want wisdom 
to advise you, but I will never want an honest and true heart to wish 
you well ; nor, being warranted by a true conscience, to forbear to speak 
what 1 think. I have begun plainly. I hope your Lordship will not 
be offended if I proceed still after the same fashion. Bene cedit qui 
iempori cedit. And Seneca saith, Lex si nocentem punit, cedendum 
st justitice ; si innocentem, cedendum est fortunes. The best remedy is 
not to contend and strive, but humbly to submit. Have you given 
cause, and take scandal to yourself? Why then all you can do is too 
little to make satisfaction. Is cause of scandal given to you? Yet 
policy, duty, and religion enforce you to sue, yield, and submit to 
your Sovereign, between whom and you there can be no proportion of 
duty." P 

Essex, unsubdued, thus replied : 

" Although there is not that man this day living whom I should 
sooner make a judge of any question that did concern me than yourself, 
yet must you give me leave to tell you, that, in such a case, I must 
appeal from all earthly judges, and if in any, then surely in this, where 
the highest Judge on earth hath imposed upon me without trial or 
hearing the most heavy judgment that ever hath been known. When 
the vilest of all indignities is done unto me, doth religion enforce me 
to sue, or doth God require it ? Is it impiety not to do it ? Why, 
cannot Princes err ? Cannot subjects receive wrong ? Is an earthly 
power infinite ? Pardon me, my Lord, I can never subscribe to these 
principles. Let Solomon's fool laugh when he is stricken ; let those 
who mean to make their profit of Princes show no sense of Princes' in- 
juries. As for me, I have received wrong, I feel it ; my cause is good, 
1 know it ; and whatsoever happens, all the powers on earth can never 
exert more strength and constancy in oppressing than I can show in 
suffering every thing that can or shall be imposed upon me. Your 
Lordship, in the beginning of your letter, makes me a player and your- 
self a looker-on, and me a player of my own game, so you see more 
than I : but give me leave to tell you that, since you do but see and I 
do suffer, I must of necessity feel more than you." 

P Birch, Mem. Eliz. vol. li. 384. 


Tliis correspondence, when circulated and brought to the 
notice of the Queen, incensed her for a time still more again&t 
Essex ; but he was at last induced, by the verbal advice of 
the Lord Keeper, to apologise, and never having lost his place 
in her heart, he soon regained his ascendency in her Councils, 
and after the death of Burghley, who always strove to depress 
him, he was for a time considered her chief Councillor, till he 
imprudently took upon himself the office of Lord Deputy of 
Ireland to quell the rebellion in that country. whereby he 
exposed himself to the hazards of a very disagreeable service, 
and left the field at home open to the intrigues of his 

During Essex's absence in Ireland, the Lord Keeper did 
what was possible with the Queen to place his actions in the 
most favourable point of view, but she was so much disap- 
pointed by his want of success against Tyrone, and so much 
provoked by his presumption and obstinacy, and so much ex- 
asperated by the representations of the Cecils, who turned 
every incident to account in their struggle for undivided 
power, that he thought his only chance was to try the effect 
of his personal presence, an experiment that had once suc- 
ceeded with Leicester, her former favourite. He pre- _ 
sented himself in her bed-room at Nonsuch, while 
she was still at her toilette, and her hair was scattered over 
her face. Thus surprised, she at first gave him rather an 
affectionate welcome ; but when she had leisure to reflect upon 
his conduct she was very much dissatisfied, and (according to 
English fashion) would have brought him to trial for high 
treason, had it not been that, by an extraordinary effort of 
courage, the Judges and law officers reported that disobedi- 
ence of orders and return without permission did not exactly 
amount to that offence. 

Nevertheless, he was examined before the Privy Council, 
suspended from all his employments, and committed to the 
custody of the Lord Keeper, to be kept in ward at York House. 
It seems strange to find a great noble, or an officer of state. 
turned into a gaoler ; but this was by no means an unprece- 
dented course where a milder and more honourable imprison- 
ment was to be inflicted ; and the Queen of Scots had been for 
many years in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury. 

The Lord Keeper now rendered to his prisoner all those 
kind offices that humanity the most sensible, and politeness 
the most delicate, could suggest; and, when he had to sit 

Y 2 


judicially upon his case, tempered justice with compassion, 
preserving a proper medium between the duty of the magis- 
trate and the generosity of the friend. There is preserved a 
warm-hearted etfusion of his in the shape of a letter from the 
Court at Eichmond by way of consolation and advice to his 
prisoner : 

" Her Majesty is gracious towards you, and you want not friends to 
remember and commend your former services. Of these particulars you 
shall know more when we meet. In the mean time, by way of caution, 
take this from me : there are sharp eyes upon you ; your actions, public 
and private, are observed ; it behoveth you, therefore, to carry yourself 
with all integrity and sincerity both of hands and heart, lest you over- 
throw your own fortunes and discredit your friends, that are tender and 
careful of reputation and well-doing. 

" So in haste I commit you to God with my hearty commendations, 

" And rest 
"Your assured loving friend, 

" At the Court at Eichmond, " THOMAS EOERTON, C.S. 

October 21, 1599." 

The first public proceeding against Essex was in the Star 
Chamber, and a sketch of it may be interesting, as showing 
how this tribunal was then used, not only to punish obnoxious 
individuals, but as an instrument to lead public opinion in the 
absence of government newspapers and parliamentary reports. 
On the day after Michaelmas term, the Lord Keeper, the Lord 
Treasurer, the Lord Admiral, the Lord Chamberlain, most of 
the other ministers, and nearly all the Judges assembled in 
the usual place of meeting at Westminster, and an immense 
crowd from the City of London attended. The object was to 
check " the dangerous libels cast abroad in court, city, and 
country, as also by table and alehouse talk, both in city and 
country, to the great scandal of her Majesty and her 

The Lord Keeper opened with a long speech. He first de- 
clared it to be her Majesty's pleasure and express command, 
that all justices of the peace should forthwith repair to the 
country, there to exercise hospitality and to preserve the 
public tranquillity. He lamented that, at this time, there 
were very many seditious people breeding rebellion by vomit- 
ing abroad many false and slanderous speeches against her 
Majesty and Council concerning the affairs of Ireland, and 
publishing many scandalous libels, " which kind of people he 

A.D. 1599. EGERTOVS SPEECH. 325 

did censure to be no better than traitors." " Therefore, in her 
Majesty's name, he commanded all Judges, Justices, and other 
officers, to proceed diligently against all such talkers of sedition 
and makers of such libels, and all who kept company with them, 
that the authors thereof might be the better boulted out and 
known, and those who, by the ancient laws of this realm, were 
traitors might receive due punishment." He added, " to stop 
the mouths of all seditious dLscoursers and traitorous libellers, 
and to satisfy all that have true and faithful hearts to judge, 
and any common sense to discern, it shall not be amiss, in a 
matter so manifest, to remember some particularities, to the 
end that it may demonstratively appear that there was never 
Prince did, with greater care and more royal means, provide 
to suppress rebellious subjects, and to preserve a torn and 
declining kingdom, than her Majesty hath done for this accom- 
modation of Ireland." The Lord Keeper proceeds with a nar- 
rative of the formidable preparations for putting down Tyrone's 
rebellion, of the great military force and resources intrusted to 
Essex, and the wise instructions he had received. He then 
complains of the General's inaction, and still more of his con- 
ference and composition with the arch-rebel, and his unwar- 
ranted return from Ireland. " In this dangerous and miser- 
able state he presumed to leave that realm, and to come over 
hither under pretext to present unto her Majesty this dis- 
honourable and deceitful composition, with no better assurance 
than the rebel's own word for temporary cessation of arms. 
These things being thus, what malicious and traitorous hearts 
can bear these insolent and wicked persons, that dare intrude 
into the counsels of a Prince, and take upon them to censure 
their Sovereign for that which either she hath done or which 
God shall direct her heart to do in a matter of so high and 
weighty importance ?" 

The Lord Treasurer Buckhurst, the Earl of Nottingham, 
High Admiral, Mr. Secretary Cecil, and others of the Council, 
severally addressed the assembled multitude to the same effect, 
and then the Court adjourned, the ministers having had the 
advantage of publicly praising their own measures, and in- 
veighing against all opposition to them, without any danger of 
a reply or a division. 1 

* The reporter, Francis Woodward, in a and presse so mightie, that I was driven so 

letter to Sir Robvrt Sydney, after giving the far back that I could not hear what they said. 

first three speeches at great length, says, I came not in time to take a place where I 

Ibe rest did speak so softly, and the throngc might convenientlie hear all such matters a* 


Essex remained in the custody of the Lord Keeper above six 
leoo mon ^ s without being brought to trial, the Queen 
saying that she wished " to correct, not to ruin him." 
During this time he fell, or pretended to fall, dangerously ilL 
She ordered eight physicians, of the best reputation, to visit 
him ; and being informed that the issue was much to be appre- 
hended, she sent him some broth, with a message that rf she 
thought such a step consistent with her honour she would her- 
self pay him a visit. He recovered ; but a suspicion being in- 
stilled into Elizabeth that his distemper had been counterfeit 
in order to move her compassion, she relapsed into her former 
rigour against him. She was, however, so far softened by his 
protestations, that she released him from his imprisonment 
under the Lord Keeper, and allowed him to reside in his own 
house in the Strand, and he probably would have escaped with 
entire impunity had not the complaints of his family and 
friends raised such a public clamour against the harsh treat- 
ment of the individual, who had the rare fortune to be much 
beloved by the people as well us by the Sovereign. She at 
last ordered him to be tried not before the Star Chamber, or 
any recognised tribunal, but before eighteen Commissioners, 
consisting of the Lord Keeper, the Lord Treasurer, the Lord 
Admiral, most of the great officers of state, and five of the 
Judges. They assembled in the hall of York House, and sat 
in chairs at a long table for eleven hours, from eight in the 
morning till seven at night. 

His treatment gives us a strange notion of the manners of 
the times. At his entrance the Commissioners all remained 
covered, and gave no sign of salutation or courtesy. He knelt 
at the upper end of the table, and for a good while without a 
cushion. He was at last supplied with one on the motion of 
the Archbishop of Canterbury ; but he was suffered to kneel 
till after the Lord Keeper had expounded the nature of the 
Commission, and till the end of the speech of the Queen's Ser- 
jeant, who opened the case for the Crown. He was then 
allowed to stand up, and by-and-bv., through the interference 
of the Archbishop, he was indulged with liberty to sit on a 

were there declared." Sydney State Papers, the testator's black and white horses, PTB- 

vol. ii. p. 146. This reminds one of the ab- BALLED HORSES passed, as reported by Mur- 

rupt termination to the report of the famous tinus Scrihlerus : " Le reste del argumcn; 

case of STKADLIX v. STYLES, in which the leo ne pouvois oyer car leo fui disturb eu 

question was, whether, under a bequest of all mon place." Pope's HUcell. voL 'v. p. 210. 


He opened his defence by offering thanks to God for his 
mercy, and to the Queen for her clemency towards him, and 
was proceeding to justify his conduct, when the Lord Keeper 
(probably from a friendly motive) interrupted him, telling him 
' this was not the course that was likely to do him good ; that 
he began well by submitting himself to her Majesty's mercy 
and pardon, which himself and the rest of the Lords were glad 
to hear, and no doubt her princely and gracious nature was by 
that way most likely to be inclined to favour; that all ex- 
tenuation of his offence was but the lessening of her Majesty's 
mercy in pardoning ; that he, with all the other Lords, would 
clear him of all suspicion of disloyalty, and that therefore he 
might do well to spare the rest of his speech, and save time, 
and commit himself to her Majesty's mercy." 

Es*ex replying " that he spoke nothing but only to clear 
himself from a malicious corrupt affection," the Lord Keeper 
told him, that " if he meant the crime of disloyalty, it was 
that which he needed not to fear, all that was now laid to him 
being contempt and disobedience, and that it was absurd to 
cover direct disobedience by a pretended intention to obey. 
If the Earl of Leicester did evil in coming over contrary to 
the Queen's commandment, the Earl of Essex did more in imi- 
tating the Earl of Leicester, and was so much the more to be 
punished for it." After a warm panegyric on the Queen and 
her Irish government, he then proceeded to pronounce sen- 
tence, which, he said, " in the Star Chamber must have been 
the heaviest fine ever yet imposed, and perpetual imprison- 
ment in the Tower ; but in this mode of proceeding the Court, 
out of favour to him, merely ordered that he should not 
execute the office of Privy Councillor, nor of Earl Marshal of 
England, nor Master of the Ordnance ; and that he should 
return to his own house, there to remain a prisoner during the 
Queen's pleasure." 

The sentence, or " censure," as it was called, so pronounced 
by the Lord Keeper, was dictated by the Queen, who, to 
bring him again near her person, had directed that the office 
of " Master of the Horse " should not be included among those 
for which he was disqualified ; and the Court may be absolved 
from any great violation of the constitution on this occasion, 
as the whole of the punishment might have been inflicted law- 
fully by her own authority with the exception of the impri- 
sonment. which she immediately remitted. 

But Egerton had still to pass through extraordinary scenes 


in connection with Essex, to whom Elizabeth now behaved with 
a mixture of fondness and severity, which drove him to de- 
struction. He for some time seemed completely restored to her 
favour, and then she refused to renew his monopoly of Sweet 
Wines, saying that " an ungovernable beast must be stinted ;n 
his provender." He thought that she had completely sur- 
rendered herself to the Cecils and Sir Walter Raleigh, and he 
entered into the conspiracy to raise the city of London, where 
he was so popular, and by force to get her person into his 
power, and to rid himself of his enemies. 

On the memorable Sunday, the 8th of February, 1601, 
A D leoi w ^ en h e had collected a large force in Essex House, 
in the Strand, and was about to execute his project 
with the assistance of the Earls of Southampton and Rutland, 
the Queen being informed of these designs, and having 
ordered the Lord Mayor and Aldermen to take measures to 
secure the peace of the city, she directed the Lord Keeper, 
with Chief Justice Popham, the Earl of Worcester, and Sir 
William Knollys, controller of the household, to repair to 
Essex House, and demanding admittance, to require in her 
name that the disturbers of the public peace should disperse, 
and that the law should be obeyed. 

This was a service by no means free from danger, for it was 
well known that Essex had for some weeks been collecting 
under his roof many desperate characters who had returned 
from the wars in Ireland and in the Low Countries, and who 
were likely to pay very little respect to civil magistrates, 
however exalted their station. The Lord Keeper proceeded 
on his mission with becoming firmness, being preceded by his 
purse-bearer carrying the Great Seal, and followed only by the 
ordinary attendants of himself, the Chief J ustice, and his other 

Arriving at the gate of Essex House, a little before ten in 
the forenoon, they were refused admittance. They desired 
that it might be intimated to the Earl that they came thither 
by the express command of her Majesty. He gave orders that 
they should be introduced through the wicket, but that all 
their attendants, with the exception of the purse-bearer, should 
be excluded. On entering, they found the court-yard filled 
with armed men. The Lord Keeper demanded in the Queen's 
name the cause of this tumultuary meeting. Essex answered, 
" There is a plot laid for my life; letters have been counter- 
feited in my name, and assassins have been appointed to mur- 


der me in bed. We are met to defend our lives, since my 
enemies cannot be satisfied unless they suck my blood." The 
Chief Justice said, ' the Queen would do impartial justice ; " 
and the Lord Keeper desired Essex to explain his grievances 
in private, when several voices exclaimed, " They abuse you, 
my Lord ; they are undoing you. You lose your time." The 
Lord Keeper, undaunted, turned round, and putting on his 
hat, in a calm and solemn tone, as if he had been issuing an 
order from his tribunal, commanded them in the Queen's 
name upon their allegiance to lay down their arms and to 
depart. Essex entered the house, and the multitude, resolved 
to offer violence to these venerable magistrates, but divided as 
to the mode of doing so, shouted out, " Kill them, keep them 
for pledges, throw the Great Seal out of the window." A 
guard of musketeers surrounded them, and conducting them 
through several apartments filled with insurgents, introduced 
them to a small back room where they found the Earl, who 
was about to sally forth in military array to join his friends 
at Paul's Cross. He requested that they would remain there 
patiently for half an hour, and himself withdrawing, ordered 
the door to be bolted, and left them as prisoners in the care 
of Sir John Davis and Sir Gilly Merrick, guarded by sentinels 
bearing muskets primed and cocked. Here they remained for 
some hours listening to the shouts of the insurgents and the 
distant discharge of fire-arms. They frequently required 
Sir John Davis to allow them to depart, or at least to pennit 
some one of them to go to the Queen to inform her where 
they were ; but the answer was, " My Lord has commanded 
that ye depart not before his return, which will be very 

They were at last released by the intervention of Sir Fer- 
dinando Gorges. He had accompanied the assailants into the 
city, but there being no assemblage of citizens at Paul's 
Cross as had been promised, the Sheriff, on whose aid much re- 
liance was placed, having refused to join them. Lord Burgh- 
ley and the Lord Admiral having arrived with a considerable 
force from Westminster, and a herald having proclaimed the 
leader of the insurrection a traitor, Gorges saw that the en- 
terprise was desperate, and he thought only of his own safety. 
A\ ith this view he asked authority from Essex to go and release 
the Lord Keeper and the other prisoners, representing that 
for their liberty they would undertake to procure the Queen's 
pardon for all that had happened. Essex consented to the re- 


lease of Chief Justice Popham. upon his entering into such an 
undertaking, but positively required that the others should be 
detained as hostages. Gorges hastening to Essex House 
reached it about four in the afternoon. Being admitted to the 
presence of the prisoners, he offered Popham his liberty on 
condition of his intercession and good offices ; but the Chief 
Justice magnanimously refused the offer unless the Lord 
Keeper should be permitted to accompany him. ' After some 
consultation Gorges concluded that the best plan for himself 
would be that he should forthwith release all the four, and, 
accompanying them to the Court, leave Essex to his fate. 
Accordingly, pretending that he had authority to that effect, 
he conducted them by a back staircase into the garden on the 
bank of the river Thames. Here they found a boat which 
they immediately entered, and by a favourable tide they were 
quickly conducted to the Queen's palace at Whitehall. They 
had h-ardly got clear from their imprisonment when Essex 
himself arrived at the spot where they embarked, having re- 
turned by water *from Queen Hithe, after all his friends in the 
city had deserted him. His rage was excessive when he found 
that his prisoners had escaped ; and now despairing of success 
or mercy, he resorted to the vain attempt of fortifying his 
house, and resisting the ordnance brought from the Tower to 
batter it down. 

The Lord Keeper remained at Whitehall with the Queen 
till news was brought of the surrender of Essex, and then he 
sorrowfully took leave of her. She had behaved with the 
greatest composure and courage while danger existed, but 
she could not without emotion give directions for bringing to 
trial for high treason the unhappy young nobleman, who, not- 
withstanding all his faults, had still such a strong hold of her 

The trial speedily took place in the Court of the Lord High 
Steward in Westminster Hall. The Lord Keeper, not being 
a peer, was spared the pain of joining in the sentence of con- 
demnation ; but he was summoned as a witness. Trials for 
treason were at this era in a sort of transition state. The 
great bulk of the evidence against the Earl of Essex and the 

' Some accounts are silent as to the mapia- nisi Gustos Sigilli una liberator, Gorging lil>e- 

nimity of Popham; but Camden's contempo- ravit singulos, et cum illis per flumon ad 

rary testimony can leave no doubt upon the Regiam se contulit." Camd. Eliz. vol. ii. 

girbject : " Comes annuit ut solus Pophamus p. 225. 
Justitiarius libcretur, qul cum liberari nollet. 


Earl of Southampton, who was tried along with him, consisted 
of written examinations, and among them was "the declara- 
tion of the Lord Keeper, the Earl of Worcester, and the Lord 
Chief Justice of England," containing a narrative of their im- 
prisonment, and signed by the three. They were likewise 
called as witnesses, and "proved in Court upon their honours,' 
that they heard the words ' Kill them, kill them ; ' but they 
would not charge my Lord of Essex, that they were spoken 
either by his privity or command."' They were much more 
forbearing than the counsel for the Crown, Coke and Bacon, 
who, to the disgrace of both, showed very unnecessary zeal 
in procuring a conviction, for the Judges declared, according 
to what has ever since been held for law, " that in case where 
a subject attempteth to put himself into such strength as the 
King shall not be able to resist him, and to force the King to 
govern otherwise than according to his own royal authority 
and discretion, it is manifest rebellion, and in every rebellion 
the law intendeth as a consequent the compassing the death 
of the King, as foreseeing that the rebel will never suffer the 
King to live or reign who might punish or take revenge of his 
treason and rebellion." The prisoners did not deny that they 
intended forcibly to seize the Queen's person, although they 
insisted that they loved and honoured her, and only wished to 
rid her of evil councillors. 

After his conviction, Essex, at his own request, had an in- 
terview in the Tower with the Lord Keeper and other mi- 
nisters of the Queen, and asking pardon of him for having 
imprisoned him, took a tender leave of him, and thanked him 
for all his kindness. The unhappy youth might still have 
been saved by the good offices of Egerton and other friends, 
and the inextinguishable regard which lurked in the royal 
bosom, if the Queen had not waited in vain for the token of 
his true repentance which he had intrusted to the false 
Countess of Nottingham, and which being at last produced 
gave such agony to the last hours of Elizabeth. 

In the meanwhile her grief was somewhat assuaged by ap- 
pointing the Lord Keeper, under a Commission, to summon all 
who had been implicated in Essex's plot, in order to treat and 
compound with them for the redemption of their estates, and 

Nevertheless they appear to have been ' 1 St. Tr. 1340. The prisoner spoke of 

sworn. Camden says, " Summus Anglic Jus- them with great respect. " Essexius respot> 

titiarius Pophamos rogatus et juratut quam del se in honoratissimos illos Tiros nihil ir.ali 

indigne Consiliarii habiti fuerunt." Camd. cogitasse at summo cum bonore observasse.' 

EUz. voL ii. p. 231. Camd. Eliz. voL ii. p. 231 . 




the Exchequer was filled by the fines imposed upon them as 
the condition of their pardon. u 

We must now look back to the events which were happening 
to the Lord Keeper in domestic life. In January, 1599, he 
had the misfortune to lose Lady Egerton, his second wife, 
to whom he was most affectionately attached ; x and when he 
was beginning to recover his composure, he received the sad 
news of the death of his eldest son in Ireland, a very fine 
young man, who had been struck with a passion for military 
glory, and was serving under the Earl of Essex. y 

However, in the following year, he comforted himself by 
marrying his third wife, the Countess Dowager of Derby, 
celebrated in her youth by Spenser, under the name of Ama- 
ryllis, and afterwards the patroness of the early genius of 
Milton, who wrote his Arcades for her amusement. 

u Rym. F. torn, xvi. 421. 

* " My Lady Egerton died upon Monday 
morning : the Lord Keeper doth sorrow more 
than the wisdome of soe greate a man ought 
to doe. He keapes privat, hath desired Judge 
Gawdey to sit in Chancery, and it is thought 
that he will not come abroade this terme." 
Letter from Rowland Whyte, Esq. to Sir 
Robert Sydney, 24th January, 1599. Sydney 
Papers, vol. U. p. 164. 

J His father had wished to breed him to 
the law, but consented at last to his becoming 
a soldier. 

" I wysh my sonne woulrte have gyven 
hym selfa to have attended these things ; but 
his mynde draweth hym an other course to 
folowe the warre, and to attende My L. of 
Essex into Irelande.and in this he is so farre 
engaged that I can not staye him, but must 
leave hym to his wille, and praye to God to 
guyde and blesse him." Letter of Lord 

Keeper to his brother-in-law, dated 6th March, 
1598. Ellesmere MS. 

Letters of condolence on his son's death 
poured in from all quarters. I give as a spe- 
cimen one from George More of Lesley : 
"Yt was the providens of God that your 
sonne was borne ; so was it that he died : he 
was your's but for a terme of his life, whereof 
the thred once spunne cold not be length- 
ned, and the dayes nombered one day cold 
not be added by all tbvrorldes power. In 
bis byrth as in his death was the hand of the 
Lord God ; in the one for your comfort ; in 
the other for your tryall ; in bothe for your 
good, if in bothe you glorifie God. What 
comfort greater can be than to have a sonna 
brought up in the feare of God, to spend the 
first and to end the last of his strength ia 
the favour and service of his Prince ? " 
Ellesmere MS. 




WE have seen that when Egerton was intrusted with the 
custody of the Great Seal, he still retained his former 
office in the Court of Chancery. In the first instance, 
it was intended that this arrangement should only be tem- 
porary ; and there were, as might be expected, several as- 
pirants to the Rolls. Among these, the most pushing and 
importunate was Serjeant Heele, a lawyer of considerable 
vigour and capacity, who had raised himself to extensive 
practice, and amassed great wealth by very doubtful means. 
His promotion would have been exceedingly disagreeable to 
the Lord Keeper, who therefore wrote the following memo- 
rial that it might be submitted to the Queen. 

" The name and office of a delator ys odeous unto me ; I abhorre yt in 
nature, and besydes yt fytteth not my place and condition : yet my 
duetye to my gracious Sovereign & countrye informeth me specallye 
being commanded to set down what I have hearde S. H. charged with, 
that thereuponher Ma* may make judgement howunfytt & unworthye 
this man ys for so worthye a place as he seketh. 

"1. He is charged to have bene long a grypinge and excessive usurer. 
A^ynst such persons the Chancerye doeth gyve remedye, which yt is 
not lykelye he will doe, beinge hym self so great & so commen an 
offender in the same kynde. 

" 2. He is charged to have bene longe a most gredye & insatiable 
taker of excessive fees, and (which is moost odious) a notorious & com- 
mon ambodexter, takinge fee on both sydes, to the great scandale of his 
place & profession. 1 

" 3. By these wycked vyle meanes he is growne to great wealthe & 
lyely-hood, and therby puffed uppe to such extreme heyghte of pride 

* In the middle of the last century snch side," and in Westminster Hall " Sir Bullfac* 
practices at the bar were still suspected, Doublefee." 
there being on the stage " Mr. Seijeani Either- 


that he is insociable, and so insolent & outrageous in his words & 
behaviour towards such as he hath to deale with (though men much 
better then hym selfe) as is too offensive & intolerable. As, namelye, 
against the Byshoppe of Excester, Sir Richard Champeron, Sir Edmunde 
Morgan, Mr. Benjamin Tychbourne, and many others. 

" 4. He is noted to be a great drunkarde, and in his drunkennesse 
not onlye to have commonly used quarrelynge and brawlenge words, 
but sometyme blowes also ; and that at a common ordynarye, a vice 
ille beseeminge a Serjeant, but in a Judge or publicke Magistrate in- 
tollerable." * 

The Serjeant persisting in his suit, the Lord Keeper out- 
wardly kept on good terms with him, found it convenient to 
pretend to support him, and, strange to say, was all the while 
indebted to the " grypinge usurer, ambodexter, drunkarde, & 
brawler" in the sum of 4007. for money lent. At last the 
Serjeant, finding that he was effectually thwarted by the 
superior influence of the Lord Keeper, wrote him. the follow- 
ing curious epistle : 

" To the Right ho. the Lo. Keeper of the Greate Scale of England, &c. 

" It hath byne my spetiall desyre to have your Lo. holde a good 
opynion of me. 1 have dealte as became me in all things : what the 
cause of your sudden mislike with me is I can not gesse, for sure I am I 
have ever respected and dealte with yo;i as it became me. You know 
how I came fyrste to intertaine the hope of the Rolles, and have followed 
your own directions. 

" I fynde now that my hope, through your hard conceite against me, 
is desperate. I shall therefore praie your Lo. to delyver to this Bearer 
my Bandes, and, at your Lo. pleasure, to sende me the 400?. you owe 
me. I shall humblee entreate your Lo. to use me as you doe the 
meanest of my Brothers. Thus resting humblie your's : from Serjeants 
Inue, the 14th of November, 1600. 

" Your Lp's in all humblenis, 

" JOHN HELE." b 

8 Among Tx>rd Ellesmere's papers there is happe, that my 20 yeares services waye so 

a draught of this memorial in his own hand- light that Serj. H. and his purse should be 

writing, with the following introduction, put in balance agaynst me, a man of so in- 

\\hich upon consideration he had omitted : solent behaviour and indiscrete carriage, and 

" 1 see myne error in presumynge that my of so little worthe, and taxed with so mauve 

services bad deserved this favour to have a enormyous crymes and disorders in the 

socyable person placed so neare me, yf there course of his lyfe," as none of his profession 

were none other respecte. But sythence I hath these many yeres bene noted of the 

must open the gate to lett in another, 1 ne- lyke." 

ver suspected that I shonlde be constrayned to b There is among Lord Kllesmere's papers, 

leu in anye agaynst my lykinge and opinion, a letter to him from Sir Edward Coke, in- 

" I accuse and bewayle myne owne mis- doreed, " Ser. Hele, Mr. Attorney, ' Indicating 

A.D. 1601. 



Serjeant Heele then thought that he might undermine the 
Lord Keeper, and perhaps clutch the Great Seal instead of the 
Rolls by getting into parliament, and slavishly outbidding 
the whole profession of the law for the Queen's favour. There 
being a strong opposition to the subsidy demanded by the 
Court, thus spoke the legal aspirant, now a representative of 
the people : " iir. Speaker, I marvel much that the House 
will stand upon granting of a subsidy when all we have is her 
Majesty's, and she may lawfully, at her pleasure, take it from 
us : yea, she hath as much right to all our lands and goods as 
to any revenue of her Crown." But, to the honour of the 
House, he was speedily coughed down, d and he confined him- 
self to usury for the rest of his days. 

that it originated from some intrigue between 
these parties. 

" Right honourable my singular good Lord, 
Secrete inquirie have bene made whether 
your Lo. having not a patent (as all your pre- 
decessors had, Cardinall Woolsey excepted, 
who therefore (as they save) ranne into a 
premunire), of the custody of the Greate 
Seale, be Lord Keeper or no. Howe redicul- 
ous this is, and yet how maliceous, your Lo. 
knowes, and yet thoughe it be to noe purpose, 
yet my purpose is thereby to signifie a litle 
parte of that greate dutie I owe unto your 
Lo., and that in your wisdom you may make 
some use of it. And so resting ever to doe 
your Lo. any service with all thankful! readi- 
nes, I humblie take my leave this 25 of Jan. 
" Your Lo. humblie at commandment, 
" ED. COKE." 

From the Egerton Papers * published by 
the Camden Society, and very ably edited by 
Mr. Payne Collier, it appears that this Ser- 
jeant Heele afterwards had a suit before the 
Lord Keeper respecting a sum of money 
claimed by him from the executors of Lord 
Cobham, which, notwithstanding an attempt 
to make the King interfere in his favour, was 
determined against him, and that he there- 
upon wrote the following letter : 

"To the right honorable my very good Lo. 
the Lo. EUesmere, Lo. Chancellor of Eng- 

" Eight Honorable, 
"I proteste unto God that ever synce I 

knewe you, I did traelie desyre your Lo. 
fryudshipp and favor. The contrary con- 
ceite hath disquieted me more than the order 
againste me. If your Lo. wilbe pleased to 
remove that opyuion, I will acknowledge 
myselfe moste bounde unto you. Thus with 
remembrance of my humble duetye, 
" Your Lo. in all service, 

" Serjeants' Inn, 5 January, I604."f 

c 1 Part. Hist. 921. 

d It distinctly appears that this wholesome 
parliamentary usage was then established. 
D'Ewes, after giving an account of the Ser- 
jeant's speech, thus describes the scene which 
followed : "At which all the House hemmed, 
and laughed and talked. Well,' quoth Serj. 
Hele, ' all your hemming sfiall not put me oat 
of countenance,' So Mr. Speaker stood up 
and said, 'It it a great disorder that thit 
should be toed, for it it the ancient vte of 
every man to be silent tchen anyonespeaketk; 
and lie that it speaking should be suffered to 
deliver hit mind trithout interruption.' So 
the Serjeant proceeded, and when he had 
spoken a little while, saying he could prove 
his former position by precedent in the times 
of Hen. III., King John, and King Stephen, 
the House hemmed againe, and so he sat 
down." 1 Parl. Hist. p. 922. King James 
seems to have taken his law from the Ser- 
jeant In his famous conversation with the 

P. 391. 

f Egerttm Papers, p. 399. 


This scene took place in Queen Elizabeth's last parliament. 
The opening of it was rather inauspicious. The Queen, though 
she still allowed herself to be flattered for her beauty, was 
conscious of increasing infirmities, and had taken unusual 
pains to conceal them from the public gaze ; but, after being 
seated on the throne, her enfeebled frame was unable to sup- 
port the weight of the royal robes, and she was sinking to the 
ground, when the nobleman bearing the sword of state caught 
her in his arms, and supported her. The Commons were then 
approaching ; but, in the confusion, the door by which they 
were to enter was shut, and they were all excluded. 

The Lord Keeper however, that Elizabeth might as soon as 
possible get back into the open air, proceeded with his oration, 
explaining the causes of the summons. He inveighed bitterly 
against the Pope and the King of Spain, whom he denounced 
as enemies to God, the Queen, and the peace of this kingdom, 
and engaged in a conspiracy to overthrow religion, and to 
reduce us to a tyrannical servitude. He charged them with 
attempts to poison the Queen. " I have seen her Majesty," 
said he, " wear at her girdle the price of her blood : I mean 
jewels which have been given to her physicians to have that 
done unto her which I hope God will ever keep from her." 
He advised that no new laws should be made ; but he exhorted 
them to make provision for our own defence and safety, seeing 
the King of Spain means to make England miserable, by 
beginning with Ireland and the territory of the Queen herself. 
He showed that treasure must be our means, as treasure is the 
sinews of war. e 

Three days after, the Queen again appeared in the House of 
Lords, and the Commons presented as their Speaker, Crook, 
Recorder of London/ who, when his disqualification had been 
overruled by the Lord Keeper, delivered a florid harangue on 
the peace and prosperous state of the kingdom, which he said 
had been defended by the mighty arm of our dread and sacred 
Queen, when she interrupted him piously and gracefully 
with these impressive words, " No, MR. SPKAKER, BUT BY THK 


When he prayed for freedom of speech, the Lord Keeper 
said, " Her Majesty willingly consenteth thereto with this 
caution, that the time be not spent in idle and vain matter, 
with froth and volubility of words, whereby the speakers may 
seem to gain some reputed credit by emboldening themselves 

e 1 Peal. Hist. 906. f Ibid. 907. 


to contradiction, and by troubling the House of purpose with 
long and vain orations to hinder the proceeding in matters ol 
greater and more weighty importance." 

The first act of the Commons after the choice of a Speaker 
was to complain bitterly of breach of privilege, in being shut 
out from the House of Lords the first day of the session, say- 
ing they were yet in ignorance of the causes of calling the 
parliament. Mr. Secretary Cecil having excused the Lord 
Keeper, repeated to them the heads of his speech, and they 
were appeased. 

Notwithstanding the exhortation against any new legisla- 
tion, there was passed in this session the famous Poor Law of 
forty-third Elizabeth, with several other important statutes 
still in force, and a liberal subsidy being granted in return 
for the abolition of monopolies, the Queen being seated on the 
throne in the House of Lords, the Lord Keeper, " with what 
brevity he might not to be tedious to his most gracious Sove- 
reign," returned thanks in her name, and said, " We all know 
she never was a greedy grasper, nor straight-handed keepr, 
and therefore she commanded me to tell you that you have done 
(and so she taketh it) dutifully, plentifully, and thankfully." 
He then dissolved the parliament, and Elizabeth was never 
again seen by the public with the Crown on her head. 

In the following year, however, she paid the Lord Keeper 
a visit of three days at Harefield, his country house, 
in Middlesex, near Uxbridge. This delightful place, 
with the river Colne running through the grounds, was first 
made by a distinguished lawyer. Lord Chief Justice Anderson, 
from whom it was purchased by the Lord Keeper, and it 
afterwards gained higher celebrity than could be conferred 
upon it by a royal visit. Horton, the country-hotise of 
Milton's father, where the divine poet wrote some of his most 
exquisite pieces, was in the neighbourhood, a little lowe: 
down the stream. b and hence the connection between hi:.; 
and the Egerton family, which led to the composition of the 
ARCADES and of COMUS. The former masque, in which the 
widow of the Lord Keeper is so much complimented, was 
written to be performed here. 

8 1 Parl. Hist 908. i " Here yon shall have greater grace 

h Milton describes this scenery in the To serve the Lady of this place ; 

Fpiuiph. Damon ?<* a niral Qu*n, 

A.: Arcadia hath i. 
' imas ? et arguta panlum recutamus 

in nmbra, 
Aut ad aquas Colni," Sec 

VOL. ' Z 


At this visit of Queen Elizabeth to Harefield, Milton was 
yet unborn, and no inspired bard wrote a piece for the occa- 
sion ; but the Lord Keeper did his utmost in all respects for 
the entertainment of his royal guest, although the weather 
was most unpropitious, and the hunting and falconry which 
had been projected were impracticable. A constant succession 
of in-door amusements made the three days pass off veiy 
agreeably. Shakspeare had lately brought out his immortal 
tragedy of OTHELLO, and the Queen had not seen it played. 
Accordingly, Burbidge's company were sent for, and a theatre 
being fitted up in the hall, for which little scenery was then 
required, the piece was admirably performed by the original 
actors, whose rehearsal of their parts had been superintended 
by the author. Succeeding so much better as a writer than as 
an actor, he himself had now almost entirely withdrawn from 
the stage, and if he was present it was probably only to assist 
Burbidge in the management of the entertainments. 1 ' 

The less intellectual shows of dancing and vaulting were 
likewise exhibited for her Majesty's amusement, and a LOTTERY 
was drawn, with quaint devices, perhaps composed by Ben 
Jonson, who was the great deviser of amusements for the 
Court in this and the following reign. I give a sample of the 
Prizes and Blanks. 


" Want you a maske ? Here, Fortune gives you one ; 
Yet nature gives the Rose and Lilly none." 

k Some critics have supposed that Othello the Lord Keeper received on this occasion 

was not produced till 1604, and Dr. Warbur- from the Lord Treasurer, the Lord Mayor of 

ton postpones it to 1611; but there can be London, and near a hundred other friends, 

no doubt that it came out in 1602, and that Among the contributions is a buck from Sir 

it was acted before Elizabeth at Harefield. Thomas Lucy, son of the Sir Thomas who 

In the Egerton Papers, published by the had prosecuted Shakspeare for deer-stealing. 

Camden Society, are to be found the accounts Sir George Moor sends, " stagge, 1 ; lobsters, 

of the Lord Keeper's disbursements for this 17 ; prawns, 200 ; trouts, 19 ; breames, C ; 

visit, containing the following items: pheasantes, 12; partridges, 14; quailes, 2t 

" Rewardes to the vaulters, players, and dozen ; swannes, 4 ; Salsie cockles, 8 cwt. ; 

dauncers. Of this, xi. to BURDIDGK'S players : puettas, 2 dozen ; guiles, 6 ; pullets,2 dozen ; 

for OrHELLO, Ixigi. xviij". xd. Rewarde to pygeons, 2 dozen ;" the whole valued only at 

Mr. Lillye's man, which brought the lotterye 20'. The Lord Mayor was very liberal with 

boxe to Harefield, x'." his " sacke, sturgeon, herons, gulls, peralles, 

These accounts are exceedingly interesting, parterages, semomles, and phesantes.'* Lord 

and give great insight into the manners of JSorres, besides bucks, sends 2 oxen. The 

the times. In the same collection there is quantity of "preserved apricux, preserved 

an equally curious account of the presents of siterons, marmallet, sugirloves, and Bamburj 

" oxen, muttons, bucks, swans, capons, fish, cakes,' 1 is quite enormous, 
game, cheeses, fruit, and sweetmeats," which 


" A Looking-Glasse. 

" Blinde Fortune doth not see how fare yon be, 
But gives a Glasse that yuu yonrselfe may see." 

" A Hand-kerchief e, 

" Whether yon seeme to weepe, or weepe indeede, 
This hand-kerchiefe will stand you well in steed.'' 

" A Pairs of Garters. 

" Though you have Fortune's garters, you must be 
More staid and constant in her steps than she." 

" Blanke. 

" yothing's your lot; that's more than can be told, 
For notliiwg is more precious than gold." m 

At her Majesty's departure there was a somewhat cliunsy 
pageant, which I think must have been the invention of the 
Lord Keeper himself. HAREFIKLD was personified, and, at- 
tired as a disconsolate widow in sables, thus bade the Queen 
farewell : 

" Sweete Majestie ! 

" Be pleased to looke upon a poore vviddowe, mourning before Tour 
Grace. I am this place which at Your coming was full of joye, but 
nowe at your departure am as full of sorrowe ; as 1 was then, for my 
comforte/ accompanyed with the present cheerful Tyme, but nowe he 
must depart with You, and blessed as he is must ever flye before yon. 
But alasse ! I have no wings as Tyme hath, my heaviness is suche as I 
must staye, still amazed to see so greate happiness to some, berefte me. 
O that I could remove with You as other circumstances can ! Tyme can 
goe with You ; Persons can goe with You : they can move like Heaven ; 
but I like dull Earthe, as I am indeed, must staye immoveable. I 
could wishe my selfe like the inchanted castle of love, to hould you 
here for ever, but Your venues would dissolve all my enchantments. 
Then what remedie ? as it is against the nature of an angell to be cir- 
cumscribed in place, so it is against the nature of place to have the 
motion of an angell. I must staye forsaken and desolate : You may 
2oe, with Majestic joye and glorie. My onely suite before you go, is 
that You will pardon the close imprisonment which You have suffered 
ever since Your comming : imputing it not to me, but to St. Swithen, 
whoe of late hath raised so many stonnes as I was faine to provide this 
anchor for You (j,resentiny tlie Queen with an anchor jeicel) when I 
understoode You would put into this creeke ; but nowe since I perceave 
the harbour is too little for you, and that you will hoiste saile ar.d 

IP Nich. Prog. vol. iii. 

z 2 


begon, I beseech You take this anchor with You, and T praye to Him 
that made both tyme and place, that in all places wherever You shall 
arrive, You may anchor as safely as You doe and ever shall doe, in the 
harts of my Owners." n 

The Lord Keeper had now the merit of introducing a prac- 
tical mitigation of the extreme severity of the penal code. 
Eobbery and theft where clergy could not be effectually 
prayed, as in the case of illiterate persons and of the female 
sex, were actually capital crimes, and after conviction the law 
was invariably allowed to take its course, notwithstanding any 
circumstances of mitigation. The consequence was, that in 
the reign of Henry VIII. there were 72,000 executions; and 
notwithstanding the improvement in police and manners, in 
the end of the reign of Elizabeth forty felons a year were 
hanged in the single county of Somerset. A commission was 
now issued, with the Lord Keeper at the head of it, author- 
ising the Commissioners to reprieve all such persons convicted 
of felony as they should think convenient, and to send them 
to serve for a certain time in the Queen's galleys as a commu- 
tation of their sentence. Transportation to the colonies was 
the improvement of a succeeding reign. 

Another commission was issued which had the aspect of 
severity. By this the Lord Keeper and others were required 
to summon before them all Jesuits and Seminary Priests, 
whether they were in prison or at large, and, without ob- 
serving any of the usual forms of trial, to send them into 
banishment, under such conditions and limitations as might 
be thought convenient. The object, however, was to draw 
the execution of the laws against the Catholic religion from, 
the ordinary tribunals, where they were enforced with relent- 
less rigour, and these novel proceedings, though they seemed 
to be dictated by a spirit of persecution, were hailed by many 
as a new era of toleration. The prospect of a popish 
successor, and the dread of the introduction of the 
Inquisition by Spanish subjugation, had reconciled the nation 
to measures of cruelty of which they were beginning to be 
ashamed, since the succession of the Protestant James was 
considered to be certain, and Spain, effectually humbled, had 
been compelled to sue for peace. 

The Catholics prepared an address of thanks to the Queen, 

n Talhot Papers, vol. iv. 43. In a petition was put by this visit at 2000Z. 
to the Crown for a grant of lands in the next liym. F. xiv. 473, 476, 489. 
reign, be estimated the expense U> which he 


who had been driven to persecute them from policy rather 
than any violent horror of their faith, to which she had once 
conformed, and which she still greatly preferred to puritanism ; 
but before it could be presented she was beyond the reach 
of human censure or praise. 

During her last illness, the Lord Keeper, with the Lord 
Admiral and Secretary Cecil, remained at Eichmond to watch 
the hour of her dissolution, while the other Councillors A\ ere 
stationed at "Whitehall to preserve the public tranquillity, and 
to prepare measures for the peaceable accession of the new 
Sovereign. ^Vhen she had lain ten days and nights upon the 
carpet, leaning on cushions, and her end was visibly approach- 
ing, the Lord Keeper, accompanied by the Lord Admiral and 
the Secretary of State, presented himself before her, concluding 
that she had no longer any motive for reserve upon the subject 
which she had made so mysterious during the whole course of 
her reign, and that her recognition of the true heir to the 
throne would strengthen his title with the multitude. Kneel- 
ing down, he said ' they had come to know her will with re- 
gard to her successor." She answered with a faint voice that, 
" as she had held a regal sceptre, she desired no other than a 
royal successor." Cecil requesting that she would graciously 
condescend to explain herself more particularly, she subjoined 
" that she would have a King to succeed her. and who should 
that be but her nearest kinsman, the King of Scots ?" p They 
then withdrew, leaving the Archbishop of Canterbury with 
her to administer to her the consolations of religion. She ex- 
pired at three in the morning of the 24th of March, and by 
six the Lord Keeper joined the other ministers in London, 
and concurred in the order for the proclamation of King 

It will now be proper to take a brief general retrospect of 
the proceedings in Chancery during this reign. The equitable 
jurisdiction of the Court was greatly and beneficially extended, 
and by the appointment of men to preside in it who had been 
regularly bred to the profession of the law, it acquired the 

P A somewhat different account of this will of Henry VIII, she exclaimed, " I will 

conference is given by a Maid of Honour have no rascal's son in my seat," this was a 

who was present ; but, even according to clear expression of preference for the Scottish 

her, the designation of James must be con- line. Lady Southwell's MS. She is partly 

RI lercd genuine, and not the invention of corroborated by Camden, who thus translate! 

tiie ministers ; for if, on the mention of the the expression " Xolim vilis mihi succedat." 

2.>nie of Lord Beanchamp, the representative Cam. Eliz. vol. ii. 2-5. 
A the house of Suffolk, claiming under the 


confidence and good will of the public. We no more have 
hills in the House of Commons for restraining it, and the at- 
,empts to prevent injunctions against fraudulent judgments in 
the courts of common law originated from the jealousy of the 
common-law Judges, and their regard for their own power 
and profit. The statute 27 Ed. III. st. 1, c. 1, forbidding an 
application to other jurisdictions to impeach the execution of 
judgments in the King's Courts, which was unfairly resorted 
to in this dispute, had been passed merely with a view to pre- 
vent appeals to Borne. In the 31 Elizabeth there was an in- 
dictment on this statute against a barrister for signing a bill 
filed in the Court of Chancery, praying an injunction against 
execution on a common-law judgment ; q but it was not brought 
to trial, and a truce was established, which was observed till 
the famous battle between Lord Coke and Lord Ellesrnere. 

The process of the Court to enforce appearance, and the 
performance of decrees, was materially strengthened and im- 
proved by the introduction of the commission of rebellion and 
of sequestrations, whereby, substantially, property and per- 
son were rendered subject to equitable as well as legal exe- 

Full power was now assumed of granting costs in all cases, 
which gradually superseded the practice introduced by 17 
Richard II. c. 6, and 15 Henry VI. c. 4, of requiring, before 
issuing the subpoena, security to pay damages to the plaintiff, 
if the suggestions of the bill should turn out to be false ; and 
the scruple was at last got over of allowing costs to the de- 
fendant on a demurrer to the bill for want of equity, although 
the suggestions contained in it were thereby admitted to be 

The statute 5 Eliz. c. 18, respecting the office of Lord 
Keeper, prevented the recurrence to the ancient practice of 
having the aid of a deputy, under the name of Keeper of the 
Seal or Vice-Chancellor ; but the Master of the Eolls, from 
being the first clerk in the Chancery, was now described in 
books of authority as " Assistant to the Chancellor in matters 
of common law, with authority, in his absence, to hear causes 
and make orders." 8 The practice was likewise established, 
which continued down to the time of Lord Thurlow, of the 

1 Crompton on Courts, 57,58. instead of murder, it would be justifiable 

1 Sequestration was long resisted by the homicide, se defewlendo.See 5 Rene, H. of 

common-law Judges, who said, if a sequestra- L. 160. 

tor were killed in an attempt to enter a house, Crompton, tit. " Chancery." 


Chancellor deputing a puisne Judge to sit for him in case of 
sickness or political avocations. Common-law Judges were 
likewise called in as assessors in cases of difficulty. Questions 
of law arising incidentally were sent to be determined by a 
court of common law, and if the certificate reruined was not 
satisfactory to the Chancellor, he sent the question for the 
consideration of all the twelve Judges in the Exchequer 

The Clerks, or Masters, in Chancery being freed from all 
trouble in superintending the issuing ofwiits, had abundant 
leisure, and were of great service in working out the details 
of decretal orders. But the complaint already began, that 
the Equity Judge, to save himself trouble, and to acquire a 
character for despatch which he did not merit, instead of 
patiently examining the facts and the equity of the case, as he 
might and ought to have done himself, hastily referred every- 
thing to a Master, who was sometimes found listless or incom- 
petent ; and if (as it might happen) he possessed more know- 
ledge as well as industry than his superior, still the suitor was 
vexed with undue delay and expense." 

Bills of discover}- and bills to perpetuate testimony became 
common. The old practice of requiring sureties of the peace 
in Chancery was still preserved ; and we find one instance of 
a criminal jurisdiction being directly assumed upon a bill filed 
to punish a party for corrupt perjury, where there was not 
sufficient evidence to convict him at common law. He de- 
muned, but was compelled to answer/ The practice of 
granting protections, on the ground that the party was in the 
service of the Crown, still continued/ 

There being a great clamour in the time of Lord Keeper 

' Gary, 46. times of late) refers matters which Lave 
n In a MS. treatise on the Court of Chan- depended in that Court, and are ready for 
eery, written by the famous lawyer and hearing, unto their examinations, which 
antiquary, Sir Robert Cotton, which I have upon their certificate, are decreed accordingly, 
perused by the kindness of my friend, Mr. But it is a true saying, that new meats and 
C. P. Cooper, to whom, with many other valu- old fates are bett for ate. And I know not 
able documents of the same description, it how, but the people do much complain of the 
now belongs, I find the following passage, new employment of them." He then pro- 
showing the rtcent origin of the practice of ceeds invidiously to praise the publicity, 
references to the Master : regularity, and despatch, which characterise 
Forasmuch as the Masters of the Chan- the proceedings in the courts of common 
eery at this day are grave and wise men, law. 

though many of them of another profession, * Woodcock r. Woodcock, 19 Eliz. Cary, 

and are not employed in framing of writs as 90. 

at the first, yet they do sit upon the bench r Eeynzt r. Pelserbocio. lab. Eeg. B. 4 & 

with the Chancellor ; and he taking advan- 5 Eliz. "f. 1 24. 
tages of their opportunities and leisure (many 


Puckering against excessive fees, he undertook to reform them 
with the assistance of Egerton, then Master of the Rolls ; and 
on his sudden decease, Egerton, become Lord Keeper, went 
on with the inquiry, and corrected some abuses ; but he was 
effectually thwarted by a combination of the Masters ; z and 
when he was extending his reform to the Star Chamber, he 
received a remonstrance from Francis Bacon, who had a grant 
in reversion of the registrarship of that Court." 

Although there was nothing approaching to an exclusive 
bar in Chancery, there were particular barristers who ac- 
quired reputation by their cunning in drawing bills. One of 
these being found too subtle, an order was made by Lord 
Keeper Egerton that no bills signed by him should be put 
upon the file. b Sometimes the whole bar refused to be em- 
ployed against a great man ; whereupon the Court assigned 
counsel to the other side, and compelled them to act. c 

Towards the end of this reign the business of the Court of 
Chancery was increased by a decision of the Court of Queen's 
Bench, which virtually abolished the Court of Requests. This 
was an inferior Court of Equity, which had taken its origin in 
the reign of Edward III. or Richard II., and was held before 
the Lord Privy Seal for the suits of poor men, or of the King's 
servants ordinarily attendant on his person. The Lord Privy 
Seal sitting there was assisted by the Masters of the Requests, 
who acted like Masters in Chancery, and it had attracted 
much practice, when the Judges decided that it had no con- 
tentious jurisdiction. d An order was afterwards made, allow- 
ing plaintiffs and defendants to sue in the Court of Chanceiy 
in forma pauperis. 

By statute 43 Eliz. c. 4, facilities were given to the Court 
in investigating abuses in charities. The most important 
cases arose out of trusts and executory contracts respecting 
land. However, looking to the Chancery cases in print down 
to this time, it is wonderful how few and trifling and jejune 
they appear, when we consider that Plowden's Commentaries, 

1 See a petition against altering fees signed Court to be of counsel with the said plain tiff." 

by nine Masters. Kgenon Papers, 214. Lib. Reg. 3 & 4 Eliz. f. 302. 

a Ib. 272,426, 427. d 41 Eliz. Palgr. 79,99. 3 Bl. Com. 5. It 

b Cary, 38. was finally abolished by 16 Car. I.e. 10. The 

"27 April, 1562. Brande v. Hyldrache. old "Court of Requests," which Hume refers 

Forasmuch as it is informed that because the to as a place of exercise while debates .\\<- 

matter in question toucheth Mr. Wray, of going on in parliament, afterwards became 

Lincoln's Inn, the plaintiff cannot get any to the Chamber of the Peers, and is now that of 

bo of counsel with him, therefore Mr. Bell the Commons, 
and Mr. Manwood are appointed by this 


Dyer's Keports, and Sir Edward Coke's Reports were already 
published, containing masterly judicial reasoning, and satis- 
factorily settling the most important questions which have 
ever arisen in the history of the common law of England. 



EGERTOV haviug joined in proclaiming King James, waited 
anxiously to .--ee whether he was to be continued in March 24, 
his office by the new Sovereign. Elizabeth died at 1603 - 
Richmond on a Thursday morning, and, by what then seemed 
the miraculously swift journey of Sir Robert Carey, the news 
was brought to Holyrood House on the following Saturday 
night ; but Jarnes waited for the arrival of the messengers 
despatched by the Council before he made it public, or would 
begin to exercise the authority of King of England. 

He soon declared his intention to continue in office the wise 
councillors of his predecessor ; and by a warrant under his 
sign manual, dated the oth of April, he directed that Eliza- 
beth's Great Seal should be used as the Great Seal of England, 
and that it should remain in the custody of the former Lord 

Egerton's joy was a little damped by hearing at the same 
time that he had been represented to the King by some enemy 
as " haughty, insolent, and proud ;" and he immediately sent 
off his son with a letter to Sir T. Chaloner, who was acting 
under Cecil, and had gained the King's confidence, to justify 
himself. He there says 

" Yf I have bene taxe 1 of hautenes, insolencye, or pryde in my place 
(as I partly hear relations), I ho; e it is by tlieym that have cot 
teamed to speake well ; and against this poyson I have two precious 
antidotes : 1. The religious wyssdome, royall justice, and princelye 
virtues of the King my soveraigne, which wyll soon disperse such 

e CL R. 1 Jac. 1. 


foggye mystes. 2. The innocencye and cleerness of myne owne consci- 
ence, which is more than mille testes. 

" I must confesse that in the place of justice which I have helde I was 
never so servile as to regarde parasites, calumniators, and sycophautes, 
but always contemned them, and therefore have often fealte the malice 
of theyr thoughtes, and the venym of their tonges. I have learned no 
waye but the kinge's highe waye, and travelling in that, the better to 
guyde me, I have fastened myne eyes on this marke, Judtcem nee de ob- 
tinendo jure orari oportet, nee de injuria exorari. Yf this have 
offended any I will never excuse yt ; for 1 take yt to be incident to the 
place by severe examynyng of manie men's actions to offende many, and 
so to be hatefull to many, but those alwayes of the worst sorte, agaynst 
whom I wyll say no more, but, with Ecclesiasticus, Beatus qui tutus 
est a lingua nequam." 

He likewise wrote a letter to Lord Henry Howard, to 
be laid before the King, in which he makes an effort at 

" I have readde of Halcyonis dies, and Lcetus Introitus, and Sol oc- 
cubuit, nox nulla secuta : we see and feele the effectes of that which they 
fayned and imagined. Wee had heavynes in the night, but joy in the 
mornying. Yt is the great work of God : to hyin onlye is due the 
glorye and prayse for it ; and we are all bounden to yelde to hym our 
contynuall prayers, prayse, arid thankes." f 

These letters being received when the King had reached 
York on his way to the south, Sir Thomas Chaloner wrote in 
answer, " As for the objection of haughtines, which, by mis- 
takinge of the relator, hath been imputed unto your Lp., I 
must cleave the Kinge's Majesty of any such suspition in your 
honor. For the woords hee used weer only bare questions, as 
being rather desirous to bee informed of the quality and affec- 
tions of his subjects and principal counseylores, than any note 
or prejudicate opinion against your Lp., or any others." But 
he was much more relieved by Lord Henry Howard. " Your 
Lo. letter was so judiciously and sweetely written, as although 
on two sundrie tymes befor, in private discourse, I had per- 
fi irmed the parte of an honest man, yet I could not forbear to 
present it to the sacred hand of his Majesty, who not onely 
redde it over twice with exceeding delight, witnessed by his 
owne mouth to all in his chambers, but besid, commanded me 
to give you verie greate thankes for the strong conceit you 
liolde of him, and to let you knowe that he did hope that 
Jonger acquaintance would not make you like him worse, 

f Eg. Pap. 361. 


i'ur he was pleased with persones of your partes and 
quality." = 

Thus reassured, the Lord Keeper calmly expected James's 
approach ; and on the 3rd of May he met him at Broxboume, 
in Hertfordshire. Having then surrendered the Great Seal 
nto his Majesty's hand*, it was forthwith restored to him. 
rftill with the rank of Lord Keeper. But, on the 19th of July, 
at Hampton Court, the old Great Seal being broken, a 
new one, with the King's name and style engraved upon it, 
was delivered to him as Lord Chancellor of England ; h and, 
at the same time, the King put into his hand a warrant for 
creating him a Peer, by the title of Baron Ellesmere, with 
many compliments to his merits and his services. In a few 
days after he was duly installed in his new dignities ; and he 
officiated at the coronation of the King and tjueen in West- 
minster Abbey. 

He now gave up the office of Master of the Bolls, which 
he had held nine years since his appointment to it. and seven 
years while Keeper of the Great Seal. 1 Having, during this 
period, done nearly all the judicial business of the Court of 
Chancery, it was thought that the office of Master of the 
Bolls might be treated as a sinecure ; and, to the great scandal 
of Westminster Hall, it was conferred on an alien, who must 
have been utterly unacquainted with its duties, and incapable 
of learning them, Edward Bruce, Lord Kinlosse, one of 
James's needy Scotch favourites, who had accompanied him 
to England, and most unconstitutionally had been sworn of 
the English Frivy Council. This and similar acts much 
checked the popularity of the new Sovereign, and naturally 
excited great jealousy of his countrymen ; whereby all his 
attempts to bring about an incorporating union between the 
two countries were defeated. 15 

8 Eg. Pap. 365. the custody of the Rolls Honse, and the safe 

h CL R. 1 James 1. Two years after, this keeping and ordering of the records. See 

Great Seal was altered under a warrant to Discourse on Judicial Authority of M. R., p. 

the Lord Chancellor, beginning thus : " Fur- 34, where the author, in combating the argn- 

asmucb as in our Great Seal lately made for ments against the ancient judicial authority 

our realm of England, the canape over the of this officer arising from bis power to make 

p cture of our fare is so low imbossed, that a deputy, shows that this applies only to his 

thereby the same Seal in that place thereof administrative duties. 

doth easily bruise and take disgrace," ic. k The Lord Chancellor, in his judgment in 

Eg. Pap. 402. Calvin's case, tried, though very lamely, to 

i Under the power given to the Masters of apologise for such appointments. In answei 

the Rolls by the grant of the office to appoint a to the argument that if the Scottish Postnau 

deputy, he did in 1597 appoint Mr. Lambard, were acknowledged for natural-born subjects 

but the deputation i expressly confined to they would overrun England, he says, " Xay 


The new Master of the Eolls had the merit of not interfering 
farther than taking an account of the fees and emoluments of 
his office ; and the Lord Chancellor was still the sole Judge of 
the Court, continuing to give the highest satisfaction to the 
profession and to the public. 1 

In the end of this year, before any parliament had met, he 
acted as a Peer, being appointed Lord High Steward, to pre- 
side at the trial of Lord Cobham and Lord Grey de Wilton, 

if you look upon the Antenati, you shall find 
no such confluence hither, but some few (and 
very few in respect of that great and po- 
pulous kingdome) that have done longe and 
worthie service to his Majestie, have and still 
doe attend him, which 1 trust no man mis- 
likes ; for there can be none so simple or 
childish (if they have but common sense) as 
to thinke that his Majestie should have come 
hither alone amongst us, and have left behind 
him in Scotland, and as it were caste off, all 
his ould and worthie servants." 2 St. Tr. 

1 In the Egerton MSS. there is a curious 
account, in the handwriting of the Lord 
Chancellor, of the presentation of the Ixjrd 
Mayor of London in the first year of King 
James, for the royal approbation. First 
come the heads of the Recorder's address, 
which he seems to have sent beforehand to 
the Chancellor : 

"Reception of Lord Mayor." 

After the humbling of our selves unto the 
Kin^' is noted 

" Tlte Person. What glory we take in yt: 
to count the now Lord Maior the King's 
owne Maior, because he was the first 
his Ma 1 ? made, and therefor wee present 
him tanquam simbolum of like succeed- 
inge happiness to who shall follow him 
in London, government under his MaT. 

The Place. And as an augur of more than 

ordinary felicyty to follow, though the 
present dayes were heavy, it is noted, 
where others were wont in foro he in 
Cnpitolio : at the Tower of London tooke 
liis othe of office. 

Tte Tyme. When affliction had taken hold 

of us: at this tyme it was his lott to 
take the sword, yet within a few weeks 
after it pleased God we were recovered : 
after a few moneths wee had the honor 
of his Mai* triumphall entry, and ever 

sence have enjoyed happiness and helth. 
The tearmes and parliament kept with 
us, and contrary to what was feared. 
Theyre resydinge hath made us freer 
than at theyr comminge. Concluded that 
A domino factum est istud. 

" Of London, this on thinge observed, that 
amyd the variable fortune of all places 
in all tymes, even from the cominge of 
the Romans untyll now, still London 
hath florished, emynent amongst all 
cyttyes, Quantum inter riburna cupre.s- 
sits. The reason [not legible] her fydelity 
and that she alwayes wont with right. 
For witness, instanced that ladyes ere 
our I/)rd King James his day, when in 
company of so many councelors and 
nobles, auspitiosly before all other 
cyttyes wee did him right. Concluded 
with this, 

" We sayde it then, wee vow it still, to his 
Ma"y and his posteryty, to be the truest, 
surest, and loyalest that ever cytty or 
was or shalbe to a kinge." 

[At the back Lord Ellesmere has made the 
following memoranda of topics he should 
advert to in his reply] : 

" Jesuites and Seminarycs. 

" Conventicles and Sectaryes. 

" Novellistes. 

" New Donatistes. 

" Factions, Seditions. 

" Machiavellian Atheistes, not secrett 

but publike 
" Delite and desire of alteration and 

ruyne of all states. 
" Contemners of Lawes. 
" Discoursers and Censurers of Princes. 
" Syckenesse. 
" Noysances. 
" Vitaylles. 
" liuylders. 
' Proclamations. 
' Rogues and Vacaboundes.'' 


implicated in the conspiracy along with Sir Walter Raleigh, 
to place upon the throne the Lady Arabella Stuart, or the in- 
fanta of Spain. He had the rare felicity of escaping any re- 
proach in obtaining the conviction of state criminals, as there 
was ample legitimate evidence against both the prisoners, in 
their voluntary confession, of plotting with the Flemish am- 
bassador for an invasion to change the order of succession to 
the Crown, although the ultimate objects of the plot have 
ever remained a mystery. 1 " James boasted, as a proof of his 
kingcra/t, that he contrived that they should lay their heads 
on the block before he pardoned them ; but that their lives 
were spared we may fairly ascribe to the mild counsels of the 

The parliament, which had been long deferred on account of 
the plague, was at last summoned. In the writs. March 19, 
which were very carefully prepared by the Lord 1604 - 
Chancellor," the Sheriffs were charged not to direct any pre- 
cept fur electing any burgesses to any ancient borough-town 
within their counties " beying soe utterly ruyned and decayed 
that there are not sufficient resyantes to make such choice, and 
of whom lawfull election may be made." Nevertheless, repre- 
sentatives were returned for Old Sarum, Gatton, and all the 
villages to which, for the sake of Court influence in the 
House of Commons, the elective franchise had been granted 
by the Tudors, and there was no real intention of bringing 
about a parliamentary reform by the prerogative of the 

On the first day of the session, the King going to West- 
minster in a chariot of state, the Lord Chancellor followed, 
on horseback, in his robes, being placed on the left hand of 
Prince Henry, who had the Archbishop of Canterbury on his 
right, the other Lords, spiritual and temporal, following in due 

The King, on this occasion, introduced the present fashion 
of the Sovereign personally declaring the causes of the. 

m Chief Justice Popham and the other 2 St. Tr. 1. 

Judges who tried and convicted Raleigh were n Eg. Pap. 3S4, 337. 

by no means so fortunate ; for there was Although the scandal of small constitu- 

not a particle of evidence against him, ex- encies had begun thus early, it isawell-asrer- 

cept a written declaration of Lord Cobham, tained fact that the abuse was iu first giving 

which he afterwards retracted ; but the an- the power of sending representatives to what 

swerthey gave to the request that he should were called the " rotten boroughs." as al- 

be called as a witness and examined in open most all of them were more populous in 1833 

court, was that this was by no means to be than they had been at any former era, 
permitted in the case of an accomplice. 


summoning of parliament, but ho still adhered to the an- 
cient custom of doing so before the choice of a Speaker. 
James's speech was exceedingly long and learned, and he 
would have been highly incensed if any one had treated it 
as the speech of the minister. When he had eonchided, the 
Lord Chancellor desired the Commons to withdraw and 
choose a Speaker ; and, on a subsequent day, the King being 
present, he announced the royal assent to the choice they had 
made. p 

The first measure of the session was a bill brought in by 
the Lord Chancellor, entitled " A most joyful and just Eecog- 
nition of the immediate, lawful, and undoubted Succession, 
Descent, and Eight of the Crown," which was forthwith una- 
nimously passed by both Houses. 

But he was soon involved in a very unpleasant dispute with 
the House of Commons, in which he was happily defeated. 
Sir Francis Goodwin had been chosen member for the county of 
Bucks, and his return, as usual, had been made into Chancery. 
Before parliament met, the Chancellor, assuming jurisdiction 
over the return, pronounced him ineligible, there being a 
judgment of outlawry against him, vacated his seat, and issued 
a writ for a new election. Sir John Fortescue was elected in 
his place, and claimed the seat ; but the House reversed the 
sentence of the Chancellor, and declared Sir Francis entitled 
to sit. The King took part with the Chancellor, saying, that 
all the privileges of the Commons were derived from his 
royal grant, and the Judges, being consulted, gave the same 

The Commons remained firm, and would not even agree to 
a conference on the subject with the Lords. " A Chancellor," 
exclaimed a popular orator, " may by this course call a parlia- 
ment of what persons he pleases. Any suggestion, by any 
person, may be the cause of sending a new writ. It is come 
to this plain question Whether the Chancery or parliament 
ought to have authority ? " q 

A compromise was at last agreed to, whereby Goodwin and 
Fortescue were both set aside, and a new writ issued, under 
the Speaker's wan-ant, and the House has ever since en- 
joyed the right to judge of the elections and qualifications of 
its members. 

The Lord Chancellor next brought forward the important 

P 1 Purl. Hist. 967. 1 Jouru. March 30, 1604. 1 Purl. Hist. 1014. 


measure of the union with Scotland, which the King had 
strongly recommended in his speech from the throne. It w;ts 
very coldly received, from the apprehension that if carried, 
England would be overrun with Scotsmen. A bill was how- 
ever passed for the appointment of English commissioners, to 
meet commissioners appointed by the parliament of Scotland 
to treat upon the subject. The Lord Chancellor was the first 
commissioner ; and conducting the negotiation on the part of 
England, earnestly endeavoured to comply with the wishes of 
his master, but he soon found the project impracticable ; " for," 
says an English writer, " the Scotch, though we had taken 
their King, absolutely refused to be governed by any of our 
laws." ' However, not only were the arms of both kingdoms 
quartered on all standards, military and civil, but, contrary to 
the opinion of the Judges, who thought that the name of 
England could not be sunk or altered in the royal style with- 
out the authority of parliament, James, by the advice of the 
Chancellor and his Council, was now proclaimed afresh as 
King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, "that the 
names of England and Scotland might from henceforth be 
extinct. " 

On the 5th of November, 1605, was discovered the famous 
Gunpowder Plot. A few days after, the King and 
the Chancellor gave a full narration to the two Houses 
of all the particulars respecting it ; and there was ordered the 
form of thanksgiving "for our deliverance from the great and 
apparent danger which threatened us in this place," still re- 
peated in the daily prayers of the House of Lords. The 
Chancellor, assuming a power not conceded to his suc- 
cessors, who are not allowed to have more authority than any 
other Peer, gave direction to the clerk of parliament to 
take special notice of the names of such Lords as should 
fail in their appearance next session, having no licence 
from his Majesty for their absence; and some of the ab- 
sentees were imprisoned on suspicion that they were impli- 
cated in the plot. No other subject could command attention 
for the rest of the session. 

The following year, the Chancellor had again upon his 
hands the difficult measure of the union with Scot- 
land. He ze dously supported it in the Lords ; and 
that House was inclined to yield to the King's wishes. 

* 1 Part. Hist. 1C23. Ibid. 1052. 


but the Commons were refractory, several members throwing 
out the most biting sarcasms against his countrymen and 

They agreed that all hostile laws between the two king- 
doms should be repealed, and that the Border courts and 
customs should be abolished ; but they would not even go so 
far as that the subjects of each kingdom should be naturalised 
in the other. To carry this point, the Chancellor called in 
the Judges, and obtained an opinion from eleven out of twelve 
of them, "that such of the Scotch as have been, or shall be 
born in Scotland since his Majesty's coming to the Crown, are 
not aliens, but are inheritable by the law, as it now stands, as 
Jiative English." u But the Commons denied this opinion to 
be law, and refused to abide by it. 

Thereupon, to have a regular judicial decision, the Chan- 
cellor directed a friendly suit to be instituted in his own 
Court ; and hence arose CALVIN'S CASE, or the famous " Case of 
the Postnati" A piece of land, in the county of Middlesex, was 
purchased in the name of Eobert Calvin, a minor, born in 
Scotland since the accession of James to the Crown of Eng- 
land, and a bill in Chancery was filed by his guardian, com- 
plaining that the deeds were improperly detained from him by 
one who held them as his trustee. The defendant pleaded 
that the plaintiff was an alien, showing his birth in Scotland 
since the King's accession. There was a demurrer to the plea. 
At the same time, an action claiming the land was brought in 
the Court of King's Bench, to which a similar plea was pleaded. 
Both suits, on account of the importance and alleged difficulty 
of the question which they raised, were adjourned into the 
Exchequer Chamber before the Lord Chancellor and all the 

* Jfr. Fuller : " Suppose one man is owner of Sir Christopher Pigott : " I will speak my 

two pastures with one hedge to divide them conscience without flattery of any creature 

the one pasture bare, the other fertile and whatever. The Scots have not suffered above 

good. A wise owner will not quite pull down two kings to die in their beds these 200 years, 

the hedge, but make gates to let the cattle His Majesty hath said that through affection 

in and out at pleasure ; otherwise they will for the English he dwells in England ; but I 

rush in iii multitudes, and much against their wish he would show his affection for the Scots 

will return." " There are tenants of two by going to reside among tin m, for procul a 

manors, whereof the one hath woods, fisheries, numine procul a fulmiiie." 1 Parl. Hist, 

liberties: the other, a bare common without 1097. Boderia, vol. ii. 223. But for this speech 

profit, only a little turf, or the like. The he was afterwards, on the King's complaint, 

owner maketh a grant that the tenants of sent to the Tower, the Commons exm-i'i;: 

this shall be participants of the profits of the themselves for not sooner noticing it upon 

former. This beareth some show of equity, the maxim, " Leves cura; Icquuntur, ingente. 

but is plain wrong, and the grant void." stupent." 

1 Parl. Hist. 1082. u i Parl. Hist. 1078. 


Judges. Two of them, Walmesley and Foster, Justices of the 
Common Pleas, had the firmness, at the risk of being dismissed 
from their offices, to hold that " if a King of England should 
hold foreign dominions not in right of the crown of England, 
those foreign dominions must ever form separate states, the 
subjects of each standing in the same relation to each other as 
if they had still separate sovereigns, without acquiring new 
rights* and without the rights they before enjoyed being pre- 
judiced." Such, I apprehend, would be the opinion of all 
constitutional lawyers at the present day. The arguments on 
the other side rest chiefly on the notion of England being 
an absolute monarchy, so that when it was joined under one 
Prince to another such kingdom, the inhabitants of both owed 
him a common allegiance, and, for purposes of empire, formed 
one state, though the ancient municipal laws of each might 
remain. No attempt was made to show that Scotland was 
under feudal subjection to England, and the reasoning em- 
ployed would have applied equally to the inhabitants of all 
the countries under the dominion of Philip II. if he had had a 
son by Queen Mary. 

The Lord Chancellor delivered a very long and elaborate 
judgment, in which, it must be confessed, he shows much 
more anxiety to please the King than to cultivate his own 
reputation. As a fair specimen, I will transcribe his answer 
to the objection that this was a question which ought to 
be settled in parliament, as there was no known law to 
solve it. 

" I would aske of the novelists what they would have done in Sibbel 
Belknappe's case if they had lived in Henry the Fourth's time ? Sir 
Eobert Belknappe, that revered and learned Judge, was banished out 
of the realm, rdegatiis in Vase* niam. The lady, his wife, continued in 
England ; she was wronged ; she brought a writ in her own name alone, 
not naming her husband. Exception was taken against it, because her 
husband was living, and it was adjudged good, and she recovered ; and 
the Judge Markham said, 

Ecce modo mirum qnod foemina fert breve regis 
Non nominando virum conjuncture robore legis.' 

" Here was a rare and a new case ; yet it was not deferred until a par- 
liament ; it was adjudged ; and her wrong was righted by the com- 
mon law of England ; and that ex arbitn'o judicum et ex respcmsis 
prudtntxm, and yet it was accounted mirum with an eccel Xow, to 
apply this to R. Cal vine's case. His case is rare and new : eo was 
that. There is no direct law for him in precise and expresse tearmes ; 
there was never judgement before touching any born in Scotland since 

VOL. II. 2 A 


King James begannc his happie raigne in England ; hee is the first thai 
is brought in question : so there was no direct law for Sibbel Belknappe 
to sue in her owne name without her husband, who was then living ; 
nay, rather, there was direct law against it. Yet by the lawe of England, 
shee had judgement to recover with an ecce modo minim : so by the 
lawe of England judgement ought to be given for Robert Calvine, but 
not with an ecce modo mirum, but upon strong arguments deduced d 
ex dictamine rationis* 

But the Chancellor, no doubt, chiefly piqued himself upon 
the passage where he combats the apprehension of a Scottish 
invasion : 

" Another argument and reason against the Postnati hath been lately 
made out of diffidence and mistrust that they will come into England 
sans number, and so as it were to surcharge our common ; and that this 
may be in secula seculorum. I know not well what this means. The 
nation is ancient, noble, and famous ; they have many honourable and 
worthie noblemen and gentlemen, and many wise and worthie men of 
all degrees and qualities : they have lands and fair possessions in Scot- 
land. Is it therefore to be supposed, or can it in reason be imagined, 
that such multitude sans number will leave their native soile, and all 
transport themselves hither? Hath the Irish done so, or those of 
Wales, or of the Isles of Man, Guernsey, and Jersey? Whie should 
we then suspect it now more for Scotland ? " 

The dissentient Judges were treated with great scorn, the 
Lord Chancellor saying that " they did not amount to the 
plural number in Greek ; " and what the legislature had re- 
fused was obtained by this judge-made law ; " but the project 
of a legislative union was so much prejudiced by the partiality 
displayed for the Scots, that the King was obliged to drop it, 
and it was not revived till the reign of Queen Anne, the last of 
the Stuarts. 

In 1612 Lord Ellesmere was employed in assisting the King 
to institute the new order of hereditary knighthood, whereby a 
sum of 200,000?. was raised, two hundred Baronets being 
made at the price of 1000/. a piece. 7 

x A question arose while I was Attorney Normandy and Aquitaine, were considered 

General, whether a person born in Hanover natural-born subjects ; but all these places 

during the reign of Georgr-III. was to be con- were, however inaccurately, soon considrnd 

sidered an alien ? Happily no doubt can as belonging to the Crown of Kngland, and so 

exist as to Hanoverian Postnati since the loose were the notions on such subjects pre- 

accession of Queen Victoria. See Moore's vailing in early times, that Norman barorm 

Rep. 790. Lord Coke's Rep. part vii. 2 St. will be found, as such, sitting in the English 

Tr. 559. The only colour of argument in fa- parliament. 
vour of the Postnati was that persons born Y Kgert. Pap. 4 19. 
*t Calais or Guernsey ami Jersey, arid even in 


The next measure of the Government was not contrary to 
law, but it was so conducted as to give rise to much petty 
vexation. By the feudal constitutions the King was entitled 
to an aid from his military tenants to knight his eldest son, 
to marry his eldest daughter, and to redeem his own person 
should he fall into captivity. This had not been put in force 
in England for many ages ; but Prince Henry having reached 
his fifteenth year, and being about to be knighted, it was 
revived as an expedient to fill the Exchequer without calling a 
parliament. The mode of proceeding was so little known, that 
the Chancellor was obliged to have many consultations on the 
subject with the Judges and the officers of the Exchequer. At 
last, a writ of Privy Seal was directed to him, commanding 
him to issue commissions into all the counties of England for 
assessing the aid ; and under these commissions, inquiries were 
made into the tenure of all lands, and their ancient and present 
value. 1 These led to a negotiation for giving up entirely 
' wardship" and the other burthensome incidents of tenure by 
" knights' service," which would have been most advantageous 
for all parties ; but the Chancellor discouraged it. and this 
improvement was not accomplished till the reign of Charles II. 
Before any considerable sum had been collected on this occa- 
sion, Prince Henry died, to the unspeakable grief of the nation, 
for he had given more earnest of great qualities than any of his 
race ; but the event was probably favourable to our liberties ; 
for if he had survived, and shown the genius for war < f which 
he had given manifestation, such battles as Edge Hill. Xew- 
bury, and Xaseby, would probably have had a different result, 
and the Long Parliament would have been the last that would 
ever have assembled in England. 

The King did not venture to resort again to an aid from 
his military tenants, when he married his daughter 
Elizabeth to the Elector Palatine, but was obliged to 
submit to the disagreeable necessity of calling a parliament, 
a step never taken during the Stuart reigns, except for the pur- 
pose of obtaining money. a 

* Egert. Pap. 435. " Another thinge of greatest importance ys 

In contemplation of the meeting of par- the contynuall and excessive importation of 
liament, the Lord Chancellor wrote a paper foreyn superfluous and vayne wares and mer- 
respecting the various subjects to be dis- chandizes, farre exceeding the exportat: r. 
cussed. I will give as a specimen what he of the rych and royal commodities of this 
proposes " to equal exportation and importa- kyngedome, by which the realme ys daylye 
tion," and the friends of " Protection " must more and more impoverished and wasted, 
not be too severe upon his political eco- and yf It be not remedyedin tyme, the state 
numy. can not longer subsyste. This requireth great 

2 A 2 


On the first day of the session, the King himself delivered a 
long oration ; and the Chancellor's functions, in declaring the 
causes of the summons, were entirely superseded, he being 
merely allowed to go through the forms respecting the choice 
of a (Speaker. The royal eloquence, however, produced veiy 
little impression on the Commons; and, instead of voting a 
supply, they complained to the Lords of a speech which (as 
reported by common fame) had been made by the Bishop of 
Lincoln, reflecting upon them, and questioning their right to 
withhold a supply. b Lord Ellesmere was the adviser of the 
Lords in this controversy with the other House, and certainly 
showed that he had very undefined notions on the subject of 
privilege. Having asceitained, by a question he put to the 
messengers of the Commons, that they merely made a verbal 
complaint against the Bishop of Lincoln without following it 
up with any written charge, instead of standing upon the 
freedom of debate claimed by each House, and the exclusive 
right of each House to judge of its own proceedings, he recom- 
mended a conciliatory answer to the Commons, " that although 
common fame was not a sirfficient ground to proceed upon, 
nevertheless they would give to the Commons all good satis- 
faction in this business." 

The Commons sent another verbal message, insisting that 
common fame was sufficient, and repeating the substance of 
the words which the Bishop was supposed to have spoken ; 
" desiring the Lords, if these words were not spoken, so to 
signify it to the House, otherwise that the Lords would do as 
they had promised." " The Bishop made a solemn protestation, 
on his salvation, that he did not speak any thing with an evil 
intention to the House of Commons, which he did with all 
hearty duty and respect highly esteem; expressing, with 
many tears, his sorrow that his words were so misconceived 
and strained further than he ever intended them." On the 

consideration, care, and industrye of men b This is the Bishop who, according to 

skylfull in the trade of merchandize, but such Waller's story, being asked by King James 

as feare God and love the Kynge and com- whether he could not take his subjects' mo- 

mon weale, and wylle not preferre theyre ney without all this formality of parliament, 

private gayne for the present before the replied, " Goil forbid you should not, for 

Kinges welfare and the publicke state of the you are the breath of our nostrils;" which 

realme. Yf this poitite for equallinge the led to Bishop Andrews' witty answer when 

exportation and importation bo not effectu- the same question was put to him, "Why 

ally and spedilye dealte in, whatsoever else then I think your Majesty may lawfully 

shall be attempted for abatinge our supplye take my brother Neale's money, for r-e of 

\vyll be to little purpose, fur this isaconsum- 1'crs it." 
yngc canker." Ef/ .'/>'.-' 


motion of the Chancellor, a message was sent to the Commons 
to inform them of this apology; and that "if the Bishop's 
words had been spoken or meant to cast any aspersion on the 
Commons, their Lordships would forthwith have proceeded to 
the censuring and punishing thereof with all severity ; hut 
that hereafter no member of their House ought to be called 
in question, when there is no other ground for it but public 
and common fame." c Still the Commons were unappeased, 
and they would proceed with no other business till they had 
more satisfaction. 

The Crown now interposed in a very irregular manner ; and 
a commission was passed under the Great Seal (to be used as a 
threat), authorising the Lord Chancellor and others to dissolve 
the parliament. The Lord Chancellor then, according to the 
entry in the Journals, " in a very grave and worthy speech, 
gave the Lords great thanks for having so nobly borne with 
the many motions he had so unreasonably made unto them." He 
concluded by moving that a message be sent to the Commons, 
to say "that forasmuch as they thought to have heard some- 
thing from that House this morning, they had hitherto stayed 
the publishing of the commission, which had passed the Great 
Seal, to dissolve the parliament." An equivocal answer being 
received, they adjourned till the following day; and then, no 
concession being made, the Lord Chancellor directed the com- 
mission to be read, and in the King's name dissolved the 
parliament. No other parliament met till 1620. when a 
Lord Chancellor was impeached, and convicted of bribery and 

c 1 Par]. Hist. 1159. 




LORD ELLESMERE, for the rest of his time, had only to attend 
1614 * k* s ^ u ti es i n tne Court of Chancery, in the Privy 
Council, in the Star Chamber, and in the Court of 
the Lord High Steward. 

He had obtained the assistance of an able Master of the 
Rolls, Sir Julius Csesar, who had been regularly bred to the 
profession of the law, and a commission had issued in which 
several common-law Judges were included, to hear causes in 
his absence. From his age and infirmities, he could no longer 
master the whole business of the Court single-handed, as he 
had done in former times. He showed, however, that his 
mental vigour remained unbroken. 

The youthful minion who was now grasping at all power 
and patronage, tried to get into his hands even the appoint- 
ment of the officers of the Court of Chancery, but this attempt 
was manfully resisted by the Chancellor. The following is a 
copy of the letter which he wrote to the Earl of Somerset on 
that occasion : 

" My Lord, 

" I woulde be gladde to gyve you a good accompt of the late projecte 
of Sir W. Uvedall's sute. I wysh well to the Gent, in regarde of hym 
selfe, but specially for your recommendation, being desirous to accom- 
modate any thinge you shall commende unto me. But the more I 
haue laboured to understand what is lykely to be the scope and ende of 
this projecte, the more I am perplexed. I doubt that, by the successe, he 
shall fynde yt more in shewe then substance. I perceyve yt maye con- 
cerne many, some in the very right of their places, as they pretende, 
namely, the Clerke & Comptroller of the Hanaper, but specially the 
Clerk who is Clericus & Gustos Hanaperii, and so a recey vor & accompt- 
ant to his Ma 1 ? 6 , and conceyveth, as his Counsell advise hym, that yt 
wyll prejudice hym in his frehoulde, havinge his office for terme of his 
lyfe by his Ma ty " letters patent. The Controller hath a kynde of rela- 
tion to the same office, and can not well be severed the one from the 
other. The poore Sealer and Chaffewaxe, and ther dependantes, are 
a frayed of they know not what, suspecting that this innovation, which 

A.D. 1612-15. "CASE OF DUEL 359 

they understands not, can not be for ther good, but lykely to ende to 
ther harme, whatsoever is pretended. And these poore men, whose 
labour and paynes are greatest, deserue moost to be pytyed & relieved, 
and so yt is lykely that some upon pretence of right, and some from 
necessitye, wyll move more discontentement & clamour then they can 

" Cut leavinge these to theym selues, I must lett your Lordship know 
playnelye that yf I be pressed to deliver myiie opinion, I can not gyve 
any furtherance to the sute. For where the constitution & frame 01 
Hanaper hath contynued setled as yt is, I know not how many hun- 
dred yeares, this newe projecte wyll make such a breach and rupture in 
yt as I can not foresee yt ; and your Lp. in your wysedome can not 
but know that all innovations be dangerous, and yt was, upon great 
reason, observed and saved longe agoe, that ipsa mutatio consuetudinis 
etiam quae adjuvat utilitate novitate perturbat. Such perturbations, by 
a newe projecte, after so many hundred yeares quyette, I woulde be son" 
to see in this place in my tyrne, which can not be, and I desire not to 
be, longe. So, recommending the further consideration thereof to your 
wysedom, I rest 

" Your Lps very lovinge frende, 

" assured and redy at your command, 

" T. ELLESMERE, C." d 

In the case of the Countess of Shrewsbury, brought before 
the Privy Council, for being concerned in the mar- 
riage of the King's cousin-german, the Lady Arabella 
Stuart, without the King's consent, the Lord Chancellor laid 
it down for law, that this was a great misdemeanour, and that 
the defendant, though a Peeress, by refusing to answer on oath 
the questions put to her respecting it, ought to be fined 
20,000?. e The right of the reigning Sovereign to regulate the 
marriages of all members of the royal family was then enforced 
by the power of arbitrary fine and imprisonment ; and when 
this power was gone, the right was found to be without any 
remedy till the passing of the royal marriage act, in the reign 
of George III. 

As a specimen of the mode of proceeding in the Star Cham- 
ber, while Lord Ellesmere presided there, I will give 
a short abstract of the famous *' Case of Duels." Sir 
Francis Bacon, Attorney-General, filed an information against 
William Priest for writing and sending a challenge, and 
against Richard Wright for carrying it, although it had been 
refused. The case was very clear, and not attended with anv 
circumstances of aggravation ; yet, to check the practice of 

d Egerton 11SS. e 2 St. Tr. 770. 


duelling, which had then increased in a most alarming manner, 
the trial occupied a tedious length of time, and was conducted 
with great solemnity. After a most elaborate opening from 
Mr. Attorney, he called his proofs, and the defendants con- 
fessed their guilt. Still Lord Coke was called upon by the 
Chancellor to lay down the law, that " to send or carry a 
challenge is a misdemeanour, though there be no duel." Then 
the Lord Chancellor pronounced sentence, " that both de- 
fendants be committed to Fleet; Priest to pay a fine of 
500/., and Wright of 500 marks ; that at the next Surrey 
assizes they should publicly, in the face of the Court, the 
Judges sitting, acknowledge their offence against God, the 
King, and the laws ; that the sentence should be openly read 
and published before the Judges on all the circuits ; and lastly, 
that the Lord Chief Justice Coke should report the case for 
public instruction." f 

It was a sore disappointment to the Lord Chancellor 
that he was prevented by illness from being present 
at the hearing of the case of Oliver St. John, prosecuted 
by Mr. Attorney-General Bacon in the Star Chamber, for 
denying the legality of " Benevolences." The hearing had 
been put off to accommodate him, and he had expressed a 
strong hope to be able to attend, " and it were to be his 
last work to conclude his services, and express his affection 
towards his Majesty." However, he took occasion to express 
his approbation of the sentence, " that the defendant should 
pay a fine of 5000/., and be imprisoned during the King's 
pleasure." e 

Though not chargeable with counselling acts of wanton 
cruelty, he always supported the King in all his pretensions 
to arbitrary power, never in a single instance checking the 
excesses of prerogative ; unlike his great contemporary, Lord 
Coke, who was redeemed from many professional and political 
sins, not only by acting the part of a patriot when turned out, 
of office and persecuted by the existing administration, but 
who, even when Chief Justice holding at the pleasure of the 
Crown, with the Great Seal within his reach. stepped for- 
ward on various occasions as the champion of the laws and 
constitution of his country. 

The High Commission Court, established in the reign of 
Henry VIII. on the separation from Borne as a substitute for 
the papal jurisdiction, had been made an instrument of more 

f 2 St. Tr. 1034. Ibid. 899. 


odious vexation than the Star Chamber itself. The Lord 
Chancellor stood up for its legality, and its power to fine and 
imprison ; but Coke refused to sit upon it, denying that it had 
any such authority, either by the common law or act of par- 
liament, and the Chancellor was obliged to excuse his absence 
from its meetings. h 

So James arrogated to himself the power of issuing procla- 
mations, not merely to enforce, but to alter the law not 
limiting this prerogative to any particular subject, and merely 
taking this distinction between a proclamation and an act of 
parliament. that the former is in force only during the life of 
the Sovereign who issues it. whereas the latter is of perpetual 
obligation. He had accordingly issued (amongst others) pro- 
clamations against erecting any new buildings in or about 
London, and prohibiting the making of starch from wheat. 
The legality of these coming in question, the Judges were 
summoned before the Council with a view to obtain an opinion 
that they were binding on all the King's subjects. Coke at 
first evaded the question, expressed doubts, and wished to 
have farther time to consider. The Lord Chancellor said, 
' that every precedent must have a first commencement, and 
that he would advise the Judges to maintain the power and 
prerogative of the King ; and in cases in which there is no 
authority and precedent, to leave it to the King to order it 
according to his wisdom and the good of his subjects, for 
otherwise the King would be no more than the Duke of 
Venice." Coke answered, " True it is that every precedent 
hath a commencement ; but where authority and precedent 
are wanting, there is need of great consideration before any- 
thing of novelty is established, and to provide that this is not 
against the law of the land ; for the King cannot change any 
part of the common law. nor create any offence by his pro- 
clamation, which was not an offence before, without parlia- 
ment : but at this time I only desire to have a time for con- 
sideration and conference with my brothers, for deltLerandum est 
din qvod statuenehtm tt sand" Being taunted with having him- 
self decided cases in the Star Chamber upon the proclamation 
against building, he said, " MeStu est recurrere quam male cur- 
re re it is better to recede than to persevere in evil. Indict- 
ments conclude contra leges et statuta, but I never heard an 
indictment conclude contra regiam proclamationem" 

h 12 Rep. 87. In the next reign this Conrt by Land against the Puritans, but it was abo 
berame still more tyrannical when directed lished by 16 Car. 1, c. 11. 


Time was given, and an unfavourable answer returned, 
which saved us from the uncertainty which, to this day, pre- 
vails in France, even under the Orleans dynasty, as to what 
may be done by royal ordonnance, and what can be done only 
by an act of the legislature. ' 

Lord Coke acquired great popularity by these proofs of 
> IBIS s pi r i* an( ^ independence ; and the Government not 
then thinking it prudent to cashier him, he fondly 
conceived the notion that, on account of his reputation for 
learning and integrity, he never could be in jeopardy. The 
insolence of his nature in consequence broke out against the 
Chancellor, who had suffered some humiliation from such con- 
troversies, and who was now supposed to be dying. The 
Chief Justice deemed this a fit opportunity to revive the dis- 
pute between the Courts of common law and equity, denying 
that the Chancellor had any right to interfere by injunction 
with an action in its progress, and insisting that the suing 
out of a subpoena in Chancery, to examine the final judgment 
of a court of common law, was an offence which subjected all 
concerned to the penalties of a premunire. He now boldly 
pronounced judgment in a case in which the Chancellor had 
granted an injunction to stay proceedings ; k he bailed and 
afterwards discharged a person who had been committed by 
the Lord Chancellor for breach of an injunction against suing 
out execution on a judgment ; m and in another case, n he got 
Justice Dodderidge, a puisne Judge of the King's Bench, to 
express a strong opinion, along with him, that the interpo- 
sition of equity in actions at law was illegal. 

Still the Chancellor continued to exercise his jurisdiction as 
before ; and in a case where a judgment had been fraudu- 
lently obtained in the Court of King's Bench, he pronounced 
a decree to set it aside, and granted a perpetual injunction 
against execution. The verdict had been gained in this action 
by decoying away the defendant's witness, who could have 
proved payment of the alleged debt, and making the Judge 
believe that he was dying. During the trial, this witness was 
carried to an adjoining tavern, and a pottle of sack was ordered 
for him. When he had put this to his mouth, the fabricator 
of the trick returned to Court, and arrived there at the mo- 

i 12 Rep. 14. Written in 1845. While pleted. MarchU, 1848. 

this sheet is passing through the press, the k Heath v. Ridley. 

Orleans dynasty is swept away and a Re- * Courtenay v. Glanvil. 

public is substituted which may perish n The King v. Dr. Gouge, 
before the printing of this volume is com- 


ment when the witness was called. The Judge was asked to 
wait for a few minutes, but the cunning knave swore ' that 
delay would be vain, for that he had just left the witness in 
such a state, that if he icere to continue in it a quarter of an hour 
longer, he would be a dead man." Coke (we must hope, uncon- 
scious of the deceit which had been practised) sent for the 
attorney for the plaintiff at law, and recommended him to 
prefer an indictment for a premunire against the party who 
had filed the bill in Chancerv, his counsel and solicitor. In 
another case of the same nature, he gave the like advice : with 
a recommendation that the Master in Chancery, who had been 
assessor to the Chancellor when the order was made, should 
be included in the indictment. 

In charging the Grand Jury in Hilary term, 1616, Mr. 
Justice Crook, on the suggestion of the Chief Justice, for the 
first time that such a matter had been mentioned to any in- 
quest, gave them in charge " to inquire of all such persons as 
questioned judgments at law, by bill or petition, in the Court 
of Chancery." I now copy a paper indorsed in the hand- 
writing of Lord Ellesmere : 

" Prooffes of the proceedinges, the last daye of Hillary Terme : 

" Glanvill, informing the Lord Coke that the Jury wold not finde 
the bills of Premunire, the Lord Coke sent for the Jury, yet protested 
he knewe nothing of the matter. 

" The Jury, for the waightines o the case, desired farther tyme and 
counsill, though at theire owne charge ; but both denied, by the Lord 
Coke affirming that the case was plaine. 

" The Lord Coke, perceiving the Jury were inclined not to find the bills, 
they alleadging that they were promised better evidence then the oath 
ot the parties, and that they were not satisfied that the judgement was 
dtilve gotten, being obtained out of Terme, he stood upp and said to 
them, ' Have you not seen copies of the proceedinges in Chancery ? 
Have not Allen and Glanvill made oath for the King that the same are 
true '? Is not a party robbed a good wirnes for the King against a 
theefe, and is there not a judgement in the case ? ' 

"At the Jurors' second comeing to the Barre, the Lord Coke said 
iinto them, that yf they wold not find the bills, he wolde comitt them, 
and said that he wold sitt by it untill the busines were done, and willed 
them to goe together againe. After which, a Tipstaff attending that 
Court came into the private room where the Jury were conferring touch- 
ing those indictments, and told them the Lord Coke was angrye they 
staid soe long, and bade them feare nothing, the Lord Chancellor was 

"At the Jurors' third comeing, the Lord Coke caused them to be 
called by the poll, and perceiving that 17 of the 19 were agreed to re- 


turn Ignoramus, he seemed to be much offended, and then said they had 
been instructed and tampered withall, and asked Glanvill and Allen to 
prepare themselves against the next Terme, when he wold have a more 
sufficient Jury, and evidence given openly at the Barr. 

" Note, that upon the Lord Coke's threatening wordes one of the 
Jury formerly agreed with the rest fell from them, saving he found 
the Bills, Lord Coke said, ' I think theis Hills wilbe found 

" Upon a motion made there that day between Goodwin and Gold- 
smith concerning a judgment in that Court, the Lord Coke said openly 
to the lawyers, ' Take it for a warning, whosoever shall putt his hand to 
a bill in any English Court after a judgement at lawe, wee will foreclose 
hym for ever speaking more in this Court. I give you a faire warning 
to preserve you from a greater mischief. Some must be made example, 
and on whome it lighteth it will fall heavy. Wee must looke about us, 
or the common law of England wilbe overthrowne.' And said further, 
that the Judges shold have little to doe at the assizes by reason the light 
of the lawe was lyke to be obscured, and therefore, since the said case 
then moved was after judgment, he willed the party to preferr an indict- 
ment of praernunire. 

"Note, the Lord Coke said the Judges of that Court were the 
superintendents of the realm." 

The Chancellor meanwhile was confined to his bed, and this 
proceeding of Coke was considered the more reprehensible as 
an attempt to crush a dying rival. But Sir Francis Bacon, 
the Attorney-General, gave information of the collision to the 
King, " commending the wit of a mean man, who said the other 
day, ' Well, the next term you shall have an old man come with c. 
beesom of wormwood in his hand that will sweep away all this,' for it 
was My lord's fashion, especially towards the summer, to carry 
a posy of wormwood." 

Accordingly the Chancellor, having unexpectedly reco- 
vered, prepared a case, which he laid before the King, con- 
cluding with the question, " "Whether, upon an apparent 
matter of Equity which the Judges of the law by their place 
and oath cannot meddle with or relieve, if a judgment be 
once passed at common law, the subject shall perish, or that 
the Chancery shall relieve him ? and, whether there be any 
statute of premunire, or other, to restrain this power in the 
Chancellor ? " p The King referred it to the Attorney and 

Unpublished MS. in possession of Lord " theise thinges can be further proved by 

Francis Kgerton. In the margin there is a sundry other witnesses not yet examined, yf 

list of twelve witnesses by whom this state- it be requiml." 

tuent is to be proved, with an intimation that V 5 Bacon's Works, 416. 

A.D. 1616. KING'S DECISION. 3G5 

Solicitor General, the King's Serjeants, and the Attorney 
General of the Prince of \\ales. who made a report to him, 
" that the statutes of premunire did not apply to such a case, 
and that, according to reason and mny precedents, the 
Chancellor had the jurisdiction which he had exercised, to 
examine the judgments of the Courts of common law, and to 
stay execution, if he should find that they had been obtained 
by fraud, for which the Courts of common law could not afford 
sufficient remedy." 

James, however, in deciding for the Chancellor, thought fit 
to rest on the plenitude of his royal prerogative, assuming 
that " it appertained only to his princely office to judge over 
all Judges, and to discern and determine such difference > ;u- 
at any time might arise between his several Courts touching 
their jurisdictions, and the same to settle and determine as he 
in his princely wisdom should find to stand most with his 
honour." q To settle the question, of jurisdiction in all time 
to come, the royal decree was ordered to be enrolled in the 
Court of Chancery. Coke made rather a humiliating sub- 
mission, and during the short remainder of his judicial career 
offered no further resistance to injunctions ; but, being con- 
vinced against his will, he retained his opinion, and in his 
"Third Institute" he stoutly denies the jurisdiction of the 
Chancellor on this subject, which he maintains is contrary to 
2 7 Ed. 3; and after citing the pretended authorities in 'his 
favour, he says, "The Privy Seal of 1616 to the contrary was 
obtained by the importunity of the then Lord Chancellor, being 
vehemently afraid ; sed judicandum est legibus, and no precedent 
can prevail against an act of parliament." r 

Some thought that this would have been a good opportunity 
for getting rid of Coke as Chief Justice. But Bacon writes to 
the King : " My opinion is plainly that my Lord Coke at this 
time is not to be disgraced, both because he is so well habitu- 
ate for that which remaineth of these capital causes,' and also 
for that which I find in his breast, touching your finances and 

1 1 Chanc. Rep. Append. 26. Council Book, before judgment, has been ever since exer- 

July 26, 1616. 3 Bl. Com. cised without controversy or interruption. 

r 3 Inst, c. 54, p. 125. After Lord Coke's See all the authorities collected by Mr. Har- 

death the question of equitable jurisdiction grave in a note to the Life of Lord Ellesinere, 

was again mooted, and it was revived at in the Biogr. Brit. vol. v. p. 574. 1 Hall, 

intervals down to 1695, when an elaborate Const. Hist. 469. 2 Swanst. 24, n. 
treatise in support of Lord Coke's doctrine * The prosecutions arising out of the mm* 

was publish*<1 by Lord Chief Baron Atkyns, der of Sir Thomas Overbury. 
but the jurisdiction of equity, as well after as 


matters of repair of your estate. On the other side, this great 
and public affront, not only to the reverend and well-deserving 
person of your Chancellor (and at a time when he was thought 
to lie on dying, which was barbarous), but to your high Court 
of Chancery, which is the Court of your absolute power, may 
not, in my opinion, pass lightly, nor end only in some formal 
atonement ; but use is to be made thereof for the settling of 
your authority and strengthening of your prerogative, accord- 
ing to the true rules of monarchy. If it be true, as is reported, 
that any of the puisne Judges did stir this business, or that 
they did openly revile and menace the jury for doing their 
conscience as they did, honestly and truly, I think that Judge 
is worthy to lose his place. And to be plain with your 
Majesty, I do not think there is any thing a greater poly- 
chreston, or ad multa utile to your affairs, than upon a just and 
fit occasion to make some example against the presumption 
of a Judge in causes that concern your Majesty, whereby 
the whole body of those Magistrates may be contained the 
better in awe." He concludes, however, by giving the 
milder advice, which appears to have been followed, " that 
the Judges should answer it on their knees before your Ma- 
jesty or your Council, and receive a sharp admonition.'" The 
Attorney General was directed to prosecute in the Star Cham- 
ber the parties who had preferred the indictments ; but the 
matter was allowed to drop without any farther judicial 
proceeding, the attention of the nation being now entirely 
absorbed in the prosecutions going forward for the murder of 
Sir Thomas Overbury. 

The occurrences connected with this murder throw a deep 
stain on the reign of James ; and Lord Ellesmere cannot be 
entirely cleared of the disgrace in which all concerned in them 
were involved. He was not answerable for the King's fond- 
ness for Car, the handsome unlettered youth, nor the favours 
bestowed upon this minion, nor the young Countess of Essex's 
preference of him to her wedded husband ; but he was answer- 
able, as Head of the Law, for countenancing the infamous 
process instituted to dissolve her marriage, and for putting 
the Great Seal to a commission for that purpose. Though 
Archbishop Abbot, to his honour, refused to concur in the 
divorce, which was pronounced on the fantastical plea of 
" maleficium versus hanc," produced by witchcraft, which James 
himself wrote a treatise to support, the Chancellor, several 

t Bacon's Works, Vol. iv. 606. 


Bishops, and the most eminent statesmen, concurred in the 
judgment ; and Sir Thomas Overbury became the victim of the 
advice he honestly gave to his friend, not to unite himself in 
marriage with an abandoned woman. 

The Earl and Countess of Somerset being now detected as 
the instigators of the murder, they were lodged in the Tower. 
It was indispensably necessary that they shoiild be brought to 
trial, and the greatest consternation prevailed at "Whitehall. 
Little sympathy was felt for the favourite, whose fall had been 
foreseen, as he had been supplanted in the King's affections 
by the younger, the handsomer, and the more sprightly 
Villiers ; but he and his wife had some royal secrets in their 
keeping, which there was a dreadful apprehension that they 
might disclose when they stood at the bar, and had nothing 
more to hope or to fear on this side the grave. The plan 
adopted, with the sanction of the Chancellor, was to hold out 
to them an assurance of mercy, if they demeaned themselves 
discreetly ; but, by way of precaution, along with some 
frivolous questions, such as "whether the axe was to be 
carried before the prisoners, this being a case of felony ? " 
and " whether, if there should be twelve votes to condemn, 
and twelve or thirteen to acquit, it would not be a verdict 
for the King ? " the Judges were asked " whether, if my Lord 
of Somerset should break forth into any speech taxing the 
King, he be not presently by the Lord Steward to be inter- 
rupted and silenced ? " 

The inferior agents in the murder having been convicted 
tinder a special commission sitting at the Guildhall, London, 
Lord Ellesmere, the Chancellor, was appointed Lord High 
Steward for the trial of the Earl and Countess of Somerset 
before their Peers. It was concerted that the Lady was to 
plead guilty, and her trial was appointed to come on the first. 
Lord Ellesmere, as Lord High Steward, rode on horseback in 
great state from York House to Westminster Hall, attended by 
the Peers who were summoned to sit on the trial. Then came 
the Judges and Serjeants at Law who were to act as assessors. 
The Court being constituted, the Countess was brought into 
the Hall ; but the ceremony of carrying the axe before her was 
omitted. She stood pale and trembling at the bar, and when 
addressed by the Lord High Steward she covered her face with 
her fan ; but I do not find any question made as to her having 
been personally present on this occasion, although in a prior 
judicial investigation she was supposed, concealing her face, 


to have been represented by a young virgin of her age and sta- 
ture. Making a low courtesy to the Lord High Steward, she 
now confessed that the charge against her in the indictment 
was true, and she prayed for mercy. 

The Lord High Steward, holding his white wand in his 
hand, thus addressed her : " Frances Countess of Somerset, 
whereas thou hast been indicted, arraigned, and pleaded 
guilty , it is now my part to pronounce judgment ; only thus 
much before, since my Lords have heard with what humility 
and grief you have confessed the fact, I do not doubt they 
will signify as much to the King, and mediate for his grace 
towards you ; but in the mean time, according to the law, the 
sentence must be this, that thou shalt be carried from hence to 
the Tower of London, and from thence to the place of execu- 
tion, where you are to be hanged by the neck till you be dead ; 
and the Lord have mercy upon your soul." 

Ten days after, the Earl of Somerset was brought to his trial 
with the like solemnities ; but as he refused to plead guilty, the 
Lieutenant of the Tower told him roundly that "if in his 
speeches he should tax the King, the justice of England was 
that he should be taken away, and the evidence should go on 
without him, and then all the people would cry Away with him ! 
and then it should not be in the King's will to save his life, the 
people would be so set on fire." 

When he had been arraigned, Ellesmere, as Lord High 
Steward, affected to desire him to make his defence boldly, 
" without fear," but evidently attempted to intimidate him by 
adding, " To deny that which is true increases the oifence ; 
take heed lest your wilfulness cause the gates of mercy to be 
shut against you." u 

The prisoner abstained from any attack on the King, and the 
trial was conducted decorously to its close, the counsel for the 
Crown first reading the written depositions of the witnesses, 
and then presenting the witnesses themselves to be examined 
by the prisoner or the Peers. The proofs were complete, the 
verdict of guilty unanimous, and sentence of death was pro- 
nounced in due form. 

These two titled culprits were far more guilty than the in- 
ferior agents employed by them, on whom the rigour of the law 

Who would suppose that a poetical could hardly be accidental : 

thought should be borrowed from a Lord FoT\>nd to wade through slaughter to 

High Steward on a trial for felony? Yet the throne, 

coincidence between Kllesmere and Gray And shut the gates of mercy on mankind." 


had taken its course ; yet, according to the understanding 
which had been entered into with them, they were respited 
from time to time, and at last a pardon was granted to them, 
reciting that Lord Ellesmere, and the other Peers who tried 
them, had undertaken to intercede in their favour. 1 In the 
aunals of crime there is not a murder more atrocious for pre- 
meditation, treachery, ingratitude, and remorselessness, than 
the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury by the Somersets. The 
execution of Lord Sanquhar for killing the fencing-master, was 
the subject of much self-laudation to James ; but the guilt of 
this nobleman was venial in comparison. Although it be pos- 
sible that the remains of tenderness might alone have now 
actuated the royal mind, there must ever remain a suspicion 
that Ellesmere assisted him in screening from justice persons 
who, while convicted of a crime of the deepest malignity, were 
ha possession of some secret which the monarch on the throne 
was desirous should be for ever buried in oblivion. 

These prosecutions being over, the Lord Chancellor joined 
in a scheme, not much to his credit, to dismiss Sir Edward Coke 
from his office of Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench. 
This is supposed to have originated with Buckingham, who 
then had a private quarrel with him about the appointment to 
a lucrative place in his Court ; but the Chancellor, instead 
of standing up, as would have become him. for the independent 
administration of justice, rejoiced in the opportunity of being 
revenged upon a man who had injured him little conscious 
that he was lowering his own character, and giving fresh lustre 
to that of his hated rival. 

A cause happened to be argued in the Court of King's Bench 
wherein the validity of the grant of a benefice to be held in 
coining I '.dam, or along with a bishopric, came into question, and 
counsel at the bar had denied the prerogative of the King 
to make such a grant. For the purpose of involving the Chief 
Justice in a quarrel that might give a pretence for cashiering 
him, the Chancellor and the Attorney General concocted a 
letter to him in the King's name, under the Privy Seal, forbid- 
ding the Court to proceed further in the cause, " Rege incon- 
sulto." until the King's advice should be taken upon a matter 
touching his prerogative. At Coke's request, similar letters 

* " Cnmqne Tho. Dominus Ellesmere Can- humil. petltionem ejnsdem Franciscae pnbl;c 

cellar nr" Angliae at Magnus Senescallus nr* fact, promisso suo ad intercedend. pro miseri- 

Angliz ea vice existens necnon omnes pares cordia nostra regia erga earn solemniier e 

^jus per quorum judiciom convicta full ad obstrinserunt, 

VOL. II. 2 B 


were written to all the other Judges, so that the obligation 
created by such a prohibition might be solemnly consi- 

The twelve Judges having assembled, by a writing which 
they all subscribed, they certified his Majesty that " they were 
bound by their oaths not to regard any letters contrary to law, 
and that the letters in question being contrary to law, they 
were bound to proceed to hear the cause argued, and to do 
justice between the parties." They were summoned, as cri- 
minals, before the Council, and the King, with the Chancellor 
on his right hand, inveighed against the manner in which 
popular lawyers were allowed to tread on his prerogative, and 
pronounced the remonstrance of the Judges highly indecent, 
as they ought at once to have submitted to his princely judg- 
ment. All the twelve dropped down on their knees, and 
acknowledged their error as to the form of their answer ; but 
Coke manfully entered on a defence of the substance of it, 
maintaining that " the delay required was against law and 
their oaths." 

James appealed to the Lord Chancellor, who, showing an 
utter want of dignity and courage, said he should first like to 
hear the opinion of the Attorney-General. Bacon, without 
hesitation, asserted that " putting off the hearing of the cause, 
in obedience to his Majesty's command, till his Majesty might 
be consulted, to his understanding, was, without all scruple, 
no delay of justice nor danger of the Judges' oaths, and begged 
the Judges to consider whether their conscience ought not to 
be more touched by their present refractory conduct, for it is 
part of their oath to counsel his Majesty when called ; and if 
they will proceed first to give judgment in Court in a business 
whereon they are called to counsel, and will counsel him when 
the matter is past, it is more than a simple refusal to give him 

The Chief Justice fired up at this impertinence, and took 
exception that the counsel, whose duty it was to plead before 
the Judges, should dispute with them. Mr. Attorney retorted, 
that " he found that exception strange, for that the King's 
learned counsel were by oath and office, and much more where 
they had the King's express commandment, without fear of 
any man's face, to proceed or declare against any the greatest 
peer or subject of the kingdom, or against any body of subjects or 
persons, wer-e they Judges or were they of the upper or lowet 
House of Parliament in case they exceed the limits of theii 

.D. 1616. DISMISSAL OF COKE. 371 

authority, or take anything from his Majesty's royal power or 
prerogative; and concluded that this challenge, in his Ma- 
jesty's presence, was a wrong to their places, for which he and 
his fellows did appeal to his Majesty for reparation." James 
affirmed that " it was their duty so to do, and that he would 
maintain them therein." 

The Lord Chancellor, now plucking up courage, declared 
his mind plainly and clearly that the stay by his Majesty 
required was not against the law, nor a breach of the Judges' 

This question was then propounded to the Judges, " \\ hether 
if at any time, in a case depending before the Judges, his 
Majesty conceived it to concern him either in power or profit, 
and thereupon required to consult with them, and that they 
should stay proceedings in the mean time, they ought not to 
stay accordingly ? " \V ith the exception of Lord Chief Justice 
Coke, they all submissively said they icotdd, and acknowledged 
it to be their duty so to do. " Having been induced," says 
Hallam, " by a sense of duty, or through the ascendency Coke 
had acquired over them, to make a show of withstanding the 
Court, they behaved like cowardly rebels, who surrender at 
the first discharge of cannon, and prostituted their integrity 
and their fame through dread of losing their offices, or rather 
perhaps of incurring the unmerciful and ruinous penalties of 
the Star Chamber.'' J Not so the undaunted Chief Justice. 
He returned this memorable reply, which for firmness, mode- 
ration, simplicity, and true grandeur, is not surpassed by any 
recorded saying of a constant man threatened by power in the 
discharge of a public duty, " ^Vhen the case shall be, I will 
do that which shall be fit for a Judge to do." 

The recreant puisnes, from whom nothing was to be feared, 
were pardoned, but the Chief had shown a spirit which might 
be troublesome in the execution of the plan now adopted of 
trying to govern without a parliament, and he was to be pu- 
nished. First he was suspended from the public exercise of 
his office, being directed, instead of sitting in Court and going 
the circuit, to do business at chambers, and to employ himself 
in correcting his reports ; and soon afterwards he was super- 
seded, and a successor was appointed in his place. 1 Although 
he soon rallied from the blow, and had his revenge by be- 
soming leader of the opposition when it was found necessary 
to call a parliament, his enemies had the gratification to hear 

r Const. Hist. vol. i. p. 476. * Bacon's Works, vi. 123, 125, 127 130 

2 B 2 


that when the supersedeas was put into his hand, he trembled 
and wept, indicating that he would have been better pleaded 
to involve himself in his robes than in his virtue. a 

Although the aged Ellesmere, prompted by Bacon, took a 
very active and cordial part in the dismissal of Coke, he 
decently pretended to regret it. In a letter written by him 
to the King on that occasion, he says, " I know obedience is 
better than sacrifice ; for otherwise I would have been an 
humble suitor to your Majesty to have been spared in all 
service concerning the Lord Chief Justice. I thank God I 
forget not the fifth petition, Dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut, &c. 
But, withal, I have learned this distinction : there is, 1. Ee- 
missio vindictcti ; 2. Remissio pcence ; 3. Remissio judicii. The two 
first I am past, and have freely and clearly remitted. But the 
last, which is of judgment and discretion, I trust I may, in 
Christianity and with good conscience, retain. " b 

His speech on swearing in Sir Henry Montagu, Coke's suc- 
cessor, however shows that he had neither remitted his desire 
of vengeance nor of punishment. He ungenerously took the 
opportunity of insulting his fallen foe, by cautioning the new 
Chief against the supposed faults of the one dismissed, and by 
an affected contrast between the latter and Montagu's grand- 
father, who had been Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in 
the reign of Elizabeth. 

Lord Ellesmere. " This is a rare case, for you are called to a place 
vacant not by death or cession, but by a motion and deposing of him 
that held the place before you. It is dangerous in a monarchy for a 
man holding a high and eminent place to be ambitiously popular ; take 
heed of it. In hearing of causes, you are to hear with patience, for 
patience is a great part of a Judge ; better hear with patience prolixity 
and impertinent discourse of lawyers and advocates than rashly, for 
default of the lawyer, to ruin the client's cause : in the one you lose but 
a little time, by the other the client loseth his right, which can hardly 
be repaired. Eemcmber your worthy grandfather, Sir Edward Montagu, 
when he sat Chief Justice in the Common Pleas : You shall not find 
that lie, said, vauntingly, that he would make Latitats Latitare ; when 
he did sit Chief Justice in this place, he contained himself within the 
word of the writ to be Chief Justice as the King called him ad placita 
coram nobis ttnenda, but did not arrogate or aspire to the high title of 
Capitalis Justitia Angliaa or Capitalis Justiciarius Anglia; an office and 
title which Hugh de Burgh, and some few others, held in the times of 
the Barons' Avars, and whilst the fury thereof was not well ceased. c He 

Bacon's Works, v. 433. c There had bocn a keen controversy re 

>> Ibid. vi. 399. specting Coke's nglit to cull nimsolf " Chief 

A..D. 1616. WISHES TO RESIGN. 37o 

devised not any new construction of laws against Commissioners and 
Judges of sewers, nor to draw them into the danger of premunire. Be 
-ever strained the statute of 27 Edward 3, c. 1, to reach the Chancery, 
and to bring that Court, and the ministers thereof, and the subjects that 
sought justice there, to be in danger of premunire, an absurd and inapt 
construction of that old statute. He never made ' Teste Edwardo 
Montagu ' to jostle with Teste meipso, but knew that the King's writ 
teste meipso was his warrant to sit in this place. He doubted not but if 
the King, by his writ under his Great Seal, commanded the Judges that 
they should not proceed Rege inconsulto, then they were dutifully to 
obey. Be challenged not powers from this Court to correct all mis- 
demeanours, as well extra-judicial as judicial, nor to have power to 
judge statutes void if he considered them to be against common right 
and reason, but left the parliament and the King to judge what was 
common right and reason.* 1 Kemember the removing and putting down 
your late predecessor, and by whom, which I often remember unto you, 
that it is the great King of Great Britain, whose great wisdom, and royal 
virtue, and religious care for the weal of his subjects, and for the due 
administration of justice, can never be forgotten." 

This may be considered Ellesmere's dying effort. His 
indisposition returned, and he seems sincerely to have 
wished to retire from public life. He thus wrote to the 


" I find through my great age, accompanied with griefs and infirmi- 
ties, my sense and conceipt is become dull and heavy, my memory 
decayed, my judgment weak, my hearing imperfect, my voice and 
speech failing and faltering, and in all the powers and faculties of my 
mind and body great debility. Wherefore conscientia imbecilitatis, my 
humble suit to your most sacred Majesty is, to be discharged of this 
great place, wherein I have long served, and to have some comfortable 

Justice of England." Ellesmere is quite and sometimes shall judge them to be merely 

wrong in supposing that this was a title void; for where an act of parliament is 

only during the Barons' wars, as the office of against common right and reason, the law 

Chief Justice of England, the highest both in shall control it and judge it void." Dr. Bon 

the law and the state, certainly subsisted ham's cage, Rep. When questioned foi 

from the Conquest till the reign of Edward I. this doctrine before the Council, he was so 

From the time when that monarch re- absurd as to defend it, and give as an PX- 

modelled the judicial system, the head of the ample, " that if an act of parliament were tt> 

King's Bench was generally called "Chief give to the lord of a manor couosance of all 

Justice to hold pleas before the King him- pleas arising within his manor, yet he shall 

self," and he became subordinate to the hold no plea whereonto himself is a party, 

Chancellor. for iniquum est aliqmm sua rei este judi- 

d This is Ellesmere's best hit, for Coke con, 1 ' thus proceeding on the consti-uction, 

had written such nonsense (still quoted by not the repeal of the Act by the Court.- - 

silly people) as " that in many cases the Ste Bacon's Works, vi. 397 
common law shall control acts of parliament, 


testimony, under your royal hand, that I leave it at this humble suit, 
with your gracious favour ; so shall I with comfort number and spend 
the days I have to live in meditation and prayers to Almighty God to 
preserve your Majesty, and all yours, in all heavenly and earthly felicity 
and happiness. This suit I intended some years past, ex dictamine 
ratiouis et conscientite ; love and fear staid it : now necessity constrains 
me to it : I am utterly unable to sustain the burthen of this great ser- 
vice, for I am now come to St. Paul's desire, Cupio dissolvi et esse cum 
Christo : Wherefore I most humbly beseech your Majesty most favour- 
ably to grant it. 

" Your Majesty's most humble and loyal 
" poor subject and servant, 


The King sent him a kind answer, saying, among other 
things, " When you shall remember how ill I may want you, 
and what miss your Master shall have of you, I hope the 
reason will be predominant to make you not strive with, but 
conquer, your disease, not for your own sake, but for his of 
whom you may promise yourself as much love and hearty 
affection as might be expected from so thankful and kind a 
Master to so honest and worthily deserving a servant." Prince 
Charles likewise wrote him a kind letter, concluding with a 
prayer " that God would give him health and stren