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equally artful and persistent. It is from one of
the old manuscripts preserved among the archives
of Surrenden Dering, and given to the world
under the auspices of the Camden Society,f that
I may gather such information on the subject
as I am enabled to lay before my readers.

The lady's first husband had died only in the
April of 1628, but by the end of that year she
was already besieged by a host of worshippers,
all more or less bent, we may believe, on securing
a share of her money ;

" Juventus
Non tantum veneris quantum studiosa culinae ;"

for it was publicly reported at the time that she
was " a twenty thousand pound widow." The

* The house is said to have stood very nearly on the site
now occupied by Kensington Palace, and part of Kensington
Palace Gardens formed part of Sir H. Finch's handed estate.

t Proceedings in the County of Kent ; from certain MSS. in
the possession of Sir E. Dering, Bart., at Surrender Dering.
Edited by the Rev. L. B. Larking ; published by the Cambridge
Camden Society, 1862.



THE WOOIXG OF SIR HENEAGE FINCH. 173

first bird who flew citywards to find her out
was apparently a wise specimen of his kind;
at all events, Sir Sackville Crow, for such was
his title, was making a desperate effort at that
time to relieve himself from the consequences of a
serious deficit in his public accounts, which
shortly afterwards compelled him to retire from
his office of Treasurer of the Navy. He came,
he saw, he proposed, and he did not conquer.
The widow, though amorously inclined, was not
to be easily caught; he had to return to his
nest discomfited, and we do not hear of him again
eastwards of Temple Bar.

The next person who tried his luck with the
widow was determined not to be so easily baffled,
and accordingly resolved to take her literally by
assault. This was Dr. Raven, a fashionable and
successful physician of the day. In despair of
other and gentler means, this foolish man thought
that Mrs. Bennett could be won by a coup de main,
if the bold stroke could be made with sufficient
vigour. Accordingly, by tampering with her
servants, so as to silence her personal attendant
or get her out of the way, he made his entry into
the lady's chamber after she had retired to rest
on the 19th of November, in the year already
mentioned. His reception was such as might
have been imagined. The lady screamed



174 TALES OF OUR GREAT FAMILIES.

" Thieves !" and " Murder !" so as to be heard
by the " Charleys " in Cheapside ; the servants,
male and female, rushed to the rescue ; the
doctor was secured, and handed over to the
constable, who next day brought the intruder
before " Mr. Recorder." As Mr. Recorder in
other words, Sir Heneage Finch was himself
one of the rival suitors for the lady's hand, we
may imagine the pleasure with which he signed
the order for committing Dr. Raven to durance
vile until he could be brought to trial. The
Court refused to allow him to be bailed. He
was ultimately tried, fined, and imprisoned for
the affair ; but the loss of his professional guineas
no doubt was a still severer penalty.

On the next'day Sir Edward Dering, as he tells
us, was in the field. His tale is told with much
nalvet^ and shows us that servants were as
accessible to golden arguments as they were in
the days of Jupiter and Danae, or as they can
be now. "Nov. 20, Edmund the King. I
adventured, but was denied. Sent tip a letter,
which was returned after she had read it."

This repulse rendered it necessary to resort
to other, and we fear that we must add crooked,
means. Servants are amenable to bribes ; and
accordingly Sir Edmund's diary continues: "Nov.
21. I inveigled G. Newman with 20s. Nov.



THE WOOING OF SIR HENEAGE FINCH. 175

24. I did re-engage him (20s). I did also oil the
cash keeper (20s). Nov. 26. I gave Edmund
Aspull (the cash keeper) another 20s."

This looks unpromising, but it appears as if
Sir Edward did not readily lose courage along
with his cash. The next entry, consequently,
shows a faint glimmer of hope: "Nov. 27. I
sent a second letter, which was kept."

But in spite of his rising hopes, the worthy
knight feels that he must not relax his efforts.
Accordingly he writes, the same day : " I set
Sir John Skeffington upon Matthew Cradock."

This Matthew, we may remark, was a cousin of
the widow, and her trusty adviser in matters of
business. The diary continues, under the same
day's date : " The cash keeper supped with
me."

Neither Sir John Skeffington, however, nor
the "cash keeper" appears to have been of
much practical use, or possibly they did not do
their best on his behalf. Accordingly Sir Edward
begins to act seriously for himself: "Nov. 30.
I was at the Old Jewry Church, and saw her,
both forenoon and afternoon. Dec. 1. I sent
her a third letter, which was likewise kept."

On the following Sunday Sir Edward, "true
to his tryste," went to St. Olave's, when, on
coming out of church, George Newman whispered



176 TALES OF OUR GREAT FAMILIES.

in his ear, " Good news, good news !" Sir
Edward who had taken a lodging in sight of
the widow's house, pressed his informant to come
in. George Newman the same who had
been " inveigled" and " oiled" quietly and con-
fidentially told Sir Edward that his lady " liked
well his carriage, and that if his lands were not
already settled on his eldest son, there was good
hope for him." The bearer of such good news
certainly deserved a repetition of the oiling
process, and accordingly, says Sir Edward, " I
gladly gave him another twenty shillings."

Elated and hopeful. Sir Edward, in the course
of the evening, proceeded to call on the Recorder.
Sir Edward, being a man of Kent, very naturally
stayed to supper, and as naturally grew very
confidential as he drank the worthy knight's wine.
Sir Heneage, too, grew confidential in his turn,
gave him to understand that he quite despaired
of success himself, and, indeed, meant gradually
and quietly to withdraw ; in fact, he went so far
as to promise his aid to Sir Edward's cause.
So in the course of the evening the two suitors
frankly and freely chatted over the widow and
her affairs, and the Recorder put Sir Edward
wholly off his guard. Good easy Kentish
baronet ! you are no match for a lawyer like Sir
Heneage Finch, let alone a wily and wary



THE WOOING OF SIR HENEAGE FINCH. Ml

widow, whose choice in the matter is well
known to him, as he carries the game in his
hands.

It so happened that one great obstacle in the
way of the widow's remarriage was the wardship
of her little boy, which belonged to a certain
Mr. Steward, but which he was willing to
relinquish for a money payment. The widow
offered what she (and Sir Heneage too) thought
a fair sum ; but he refused, and raised his price
to so extortionate an amount that the widow
refused to see him or speak to him again.

Sir Edward thought that this was the juncture
to push his suit. It appears from the narrative
that for a few days the lady, like many others,
did not quite know her own mind, and would
neither say ' yes ' nor ' no ;' so, weary of waiting,
on the 1st of January he wrote and demanded
the return of his letters and billets-doux. His
cause was now irretrievably lost ; for, in spite
of all arguments and recommendations in his
favour from the lady's " companion," Mrs. Norton,
and his friend, the celebrated angler and man-
milliner of Fleet-street, Izaak Walton, and the
clever machinery of some dreams, real or fictitious,
which were told to the lady in one of her softer
moods by cousins and friends of the baronet, and
the (of course) accidental waylaying of her

VOL. I. N



178 TALES OF OUR GREAT FAMILIES.

little boy and his nurse in the fields of Finsbury
and plying them with cakes, wine, and money,
the widow stood to her guns, and positively
refused to think of him any more as a suitor. In
fact (so she gave it out),' she never meant to
marry again at all. Suitors came and weot.
Great ladies from the Court the cream of
" carnage folk" visited the mansion in St.
Olave's in shoals, and set forth the merits of
.sundry knights and gentlemen and lords, but all
without effect. Lady Skinner called to plead
the cause of one Mr. Butler ; but her description
of him as a " dark, blunt-nosed gentleman"
extinguished his hopes and ended his suit. Sir
Peter Temple, of Stowe, a man of high birth,
and the owner of lands which have since enriched
the ducal house of Buckingham, came forward,
backed by the aid of a dashing countess, but
found only a cold reception, being told to go
back to Buckinghamshire. The Countess of
Bridgwater introduced the battered old sailor Sir
Henry Maiuwaring, who, in spite of his Cheshire
pedigree, was steeped in poverty to the very lips,
and he and another knight had an interview of an
hour with the lady, but neither of them was
suffered to call again. Lord Bruce the head
of the Braces of Tottenham, now Earls and
Marquises of Ailesbury put in a claim for



THE WOOING OF SIR HENEAGE FINCH. 179

himself; but he too very soon retired. More
persevering than the rest of the candidates for
this very prudent Penelope, and, indeed, the
only dangerous rival of Sir Heneage, was the
newly-made Lord Lumle}% whose chances were
all the better as he came backed by one Loe,
or Lowe, a brother-in-law of the lady herself.

The latter, it must be owned, lost no oppor-
tunity of prosecuting his suit by overt attentions
to the widow. As being one of " the devout
female sex," it appears she went to daily prayers
at St. Olave's Church ; and accordingly five times
in one week did the coach of Lord Lumley stop
the way at the door of the church in Old Jewry,
its owner being intent on worshipping there,
though possibly the rich widow may have been
one object of his worship. His suit was backed
by no less a person than the Earl of Dorset, Lord
Chamberlain to the Queen, an influential person
in the political world, and especially at the Admi-
ralty. But all was in vain ; weeks and weeks
drew on, yet the lady was still obdurate; she
would not listen, she said, to any proposal of
matrimony ; her mind had been long made up.
Isaak Walton now again appears upon the scene,
to plead once more the cause of his old friend,
Sir Edward; but her answer was the same.
Lord Lumley had even proceeded so far at one

N 2



180 TALES OF OUR GREAT FAMILIES.

time as to present her with a ring, which she
accepted at his hands ; but it was not a plain
gold one, and on the 14th of February his hopes
were crushed by the return of the pledge of
attachment.

And so it was : the widow all along, at all
events from the preceding Christmas, had made
up her own mind ; but, like most rich and pretty
widows, not at all in the direction of a life-long
celibacy. She did not use the deepest of black-
bordered note paper, or mount a long flowing
white widow's cap on a rope of black silk, talk of
herself as a "wreck," and of her life as a vie
manquee, and carry on private flirtations in a
dark room with charlatans and adventurers. But
she kept her own counsel, and had her own way
in the end; and having contrived to delude Sir
Edward into an idea that the resumption of his
place as a suitor was not absolutely a fruitless
and hopeless task, one fine morning she surprised
both him and the fashionable world, and every-
body else except the worthy Recorder of London ,
by going quietly on the 16th of April, 1629
after exactly twelve months of widowhood to
the Church of St. Clement Danes, where she was
married, no doubt by special licence, to Sir
Heneage Finch, with whom the affair no doubt
had been pre-arranged ever since the previous



THE WOOING OF SIR HENEAGE FINCH. 181

Christmas. It may interest our lady friends to
learn that Sir Edward Bering took his defeat in
good part, and soon set about retrieving his
lost ground, time, and trouble by electing as his
third wife he had already buried two a
daughter of Sir Ralph Gibbes, of Honington,
Warwickshire, with whom, no doubt, he "lived
happy ever afterwards."

Before we dismiss our notice of the pretty
widow, it may be well to add that her son Simon
whom Sir Edward Bering treated with cakes
in Finsbury Fields became in the end a man of
great wealth, which was carried by three
daughters, his coheiresses, into several noble
families, and that his uncle, Richard Bennett, or
Bennet as the name is now spelt, was the
ancestor of the Earls of Arlington and Tanker-
ville. Of Mrs. Bennett's second manage all that
we know is bright and fortunate, except its brief
continuance ; and it is probable that among the
many suitors, both bachelors and widowers, who
sought her hand, she really chose the best, or one
of the best. Of the issue of Sir Heneage Finch's
first marriage, three sons and one daughter lived
to grow up ; and the eldest of these, named as his
father, became Lord Chancellor of England and
Earl of Nottingham, a title with which his
descendants and representatives have joined the



182 TALES OF OUR GREAT FAMILIES.

Earldom of Winchelsea. By the pretty and
wealthy widow, Sir Hen cage had two daughters,
Elizabeth, wife of Edward Maddison, Esq., and
Anne, married to Edward, third Viscount and
first Earl of Conway, ancestor of the present
Marquis of Hertford. Sir Heneage Finch sur-
vived his marriage little more than two years, as
he died on the 5th of December, 1631.



THE DUCAL HOUSE OF LEEDS.



OUT of all the great families who have at-
tained to the honour of a ducal coronet in
England, most owe their existence either to the
accident of being sprung from . royalty by a
left-hand marriage, or from successful statesman-
ship subsidised by a run of luck in the way of
alliances with well-endowed heiresses. Some few
dukedoms, I am aware those of Wellington
and Marlborough, for instance have been
purchased by a series of brillant achievements
in the field ; one, and one only so far as I know
that of Norfolk is sprung out of the success-
ful career of an able lawyer ; but there is one
house, namely, that of the Osbornes, Dukes ol
Leeds, in whose early history is to be found an
episode of city life so strange and so singular



184 TALES OF OUR GREAT FAMILIES.

that I need scarcely ask the pardon of my readers
for introducing it to them here.

The romance to which I allude is nearly three
centuries old, though it reads like an affair of
yesterday. But before I come to tell it, I will
beg my readers' patience while I sum up in a few
words all that is known of the earlier history of
the Osborne family. It is agreed among the
heralds and the peerage makers that the Os-
bornes were of considerable antiquity in Kent
long before they attained to the honours of the
peerage, or even to a title at all. We are told
that one John Osborne, esquire and landholder,
was seated at Ashford in that county as far back
as the reign of King Henry VI., when his name
is returned in a list of the local gentry, as sub-
scribing to the oath of allegiance. His lineal
descendant, Richard Osborne, married a Kentish
lady, Elizabeth Fylden or (more probably) Tylden;
and his son, also Richard, marrying a Broughton
of Westmorland, became the father of a certain
Edward Osborne, who, entering early upon a
commercial life, served as one of the Sheriffs of
London and Middlesex in the seventeenth year of
Elizabeth's reign, and eight years later was
chosen in due course Lord Mayor of London.
He received the honour of knighthood at West-
minster in 1584, and not long afterwards was



THE DUCAL HOUSE OF LEEDS. 185

chosen one of the representatives of the City of
London in Parliament. He died in the year
1591, and was buried in the church of St. Dionis
Backchurch, where a monument recorded, and
perhaps still records, .his public and private
virtues. Collins, in his elaborate "Peerage,"
simply says of him that " he married Anne,
daughter and heiress of Sir William Hewitt, also
in his time Lord Mayor of London," adding
incidentally also that " Sir William died in the
year 1566, when his said daughter, Anne, was
just twenty-three years of age."

Sir William Hewitt appears to have been a
charitable and benevolent person. He was a
benefactor to several of the hospitals of London,
and to the poor of more than one parish. Thus
he left to the poor in the hospital of St. Thomas's,
Southwark (of which he was a vice-president),
.20 ; and 4s. 8d. to every poor maiden that
should be married within a year of his decease
in two parishes in Yorkshire, with which it may
be presumed that he was connected by family
ties. The disposal of the rest of his property is
already incidentally recorded in the present
paper. By his will, dated Jan. 3, 1566, I find he
ordered his body to be buried in the church of
St. Martin's, in Candlewick Ward (of which he



186 TALES OF OUR GREAT FAMILIES.

was a parishioner), near to the place where his
late beloved wife Alice was interred.

But, for the sake of my lady readers, I must not
pass quite so rapidly over a marriage out of
which such important consequences flowed to the
Osbornes. Respectable and even ancient as the
family might have been at Ashford, in Kent, it
is pretty clear that they must have suffered
severely in purse and pocket when, in the reign
of Mary or of Elizabeth, Richard Osborne sent
his eldest son, no doubt the eldest of a large
family up to London to fight for himself the
battle of life. And doubtless either a special
Providence or a very lucky star looked down
with more than a kind smile on young Edward
Osborne, when the latter, at the age of eighteen
or nineteen summers, reached London from
Ashford, and entered the family of Sir William
Hewitt and of Dame Alice Hewitt, of Philpot
Lane, as an " apprentice " to learn his trade. At
that time youthful apprentices were not left to
pass their time in suburban lodgings, walking
backwards and forwards to their daily work, and>
when the day's task was over, enlivening their
evenings at theatres and music halls. When
they were bound as apprentices, they became
inmates of their master's household, and were
expected, as members of his family, to conform



THE DUCAL HOUSE OF LEEDS. 187

to the rules and regulations of the homes of which
which they formed a part. Of course, if their
masters happened to have grown-up or growing
daughters, the young fellows had so many more
attractions to keep them at home and out of
mischief; and equally of course was it a matter
of constant occurrence that the best and the
worthiest of such apprentices were enabled to
climb the first rung of the ladder of commercial
advancement by securing the affections of one of
the pretty and well-endowed daughters of their
master. And it was only the old old story after
all that was enacted in the family of Sir William
Hewitt, that I have to tell. It appears that,
having no other incumbrance but his daughter,
and having made a fair fortune in business, Sir
William and Lady Hewitt, with " Mistress "
Anne and their Kentish apprentice, had removed
from the worthy knight's place of business in
Philpot Lane, and were occupying a fashionable
residence on old London Bridge, every arch of
which, as shown in old pictures, was at that time
crowded with houses. The windows on one side
at least looked down upon the never-ceasing ebb
and flow of the Thames ; and, as bad (or good)
luck would have it, one day while fair Mistress
Anne was hanging her favourite bird in its cage
outside the parlour window, she lost her balance



188 TALES OF OUR GREAT FAMILIES.

and fell out into the river. It was fortunately
just high water, so that she had not many feet
to fall, and the tide was running very slackly ;
but the river was deep, and in a few minutes
more she would have been drowned, had not the
young gentleman from Kent, who counted
swimming among the other accomplishments
which he had learned at his native Ashford,
thrown off his shoes and surcoat, and leaped
into the water after her. It was the work of an
instant. He caught by her hair the struggling
maiden, and dragged her towards a barge which
was passing through the bridge ; the crew hove
to, and took on board the half-drowned lady and
her preserver ; and the latter being landed at the
steps between the bridge and Fish-street-hill,
brought back his prize with no small joy and
triumph to her father's house, where doubtless
every attention was paid to them both. It was
fortunately Summer, and so they both escaped
with no further bad results than a sound ducking,
and possibly a slight cold.

Perhaps it was scarcely a priori probable that
the matter would end there. Mistress Anne,
as I have reason for believing, had long secretly
admired the young gentleman of good family
from Kent, who had been for so many months
an inmate of her parents' house, and who in all



THE DUCAL HOUSE OF LEEDS. 189

matters, great and small, had shown himself
a thorough gentleman in deed as he was by birth.
He shot well with the long bow, whenever the
young apprentices of the city went out to what
is now Moorfields and Clerkenwell in order to try
their skill. In Winter time he was the best
skater and curler among all the city-youths ;
he could sing a loyal song with spirit ; and was
always in the best of tempers. In fact, if the
truth must be told, she admired him above all the
young men whom she had seen east of what is
now Temple Bar; and into the far western
region of the mansions of the Strand and of
Westminster it had not been her fortune to have
often entered, except on one day in the year
when she went regularly with her papa and
mamma in the family coach to visit an 'old aunt
at St. Giles-in-the-Fields, "from whom she had
expectations."

Edward Osborne also had long admired in
silence the young lady whose cage-bird had
given rise to this unexpected adventure, and the
keen eyes of Dame Alice Hewitt had not been
inattentive to the fact. The old people too were
rich and without a son. What arrangement more
simple, obvious, and easy than that Edward
Osborne should become their son-in-law ? The
young people, for their part, took the same view



190 TALES OF OUR GREAT FAMILIES.

of the matter as their elders ; interest and
inclination for once ran in the same direction;
and within a fortnight from the day of the
apprentice's bold leap into the Thames it was
arranged that the banns of " Edward Osborne,
bachelor, and Anne Hewitt, spinster," should be
put up in their parish church.

As neither Sir William nor Dame Hewitt was
at all disposed to forbid the banns, everything
was sooii settled ; and one fine morning in
August, 1559, the church bells of St. Magnus
and the neighbouring parishes rang out a merry
peal in honour of Edward Osborne and his fair
young bride.

Sir William Hewitt, before his death, which
happened at no very distant date, constituted
his son-in-law Osborne executor of his will,
along with two members of his own family ; and
while he left to his brother and nephews the
place of business in Philpot Lane above men-
tioned, he bequeathed the bulk of his money to
his only child Anne Hewitt, now Anne Osborne.

The accession of the money of the Hewitts
to the exchequer of the Osbornes appears to have
come just at a favourable moment, and to have
given to that ancient house a chance of rising in
the world a change of which its members were
not slow to take advantage. Edward Osborne



THE DUCAL HOUSE OF LEEDS. 191

was wise enough not to play the fine-gentleman,
or to turn his back upon the city where his
fortune had been and was still being made. He
persevered in the mercantile career which he had
chosen when a lad, and he resolved to stick to
it faithfully to the last. Accordingly we find
him filling the civic chair as Lord Mayor and
receiving the honour of knighthood ; aud when
he died, in 1591, Sir Edward Osborne was
lamented as a good and upright citizen, and one
of the worthiest magistrates of the city of
London.

His wife brought him a son and two daughters.
The latter married into the OiHey and Peyton
families respectively ; while his son, entering the
army, and fighting under the banner of the Earl
of Essex in quelling a rebellion in Ireland in the
year 1599, received from that nobleman the
accolade of military knighthood. Sir Hewitt
Osborne in his turn married Joyce, daughter of
Thomas Fleetwood, Master of the Mint, and
sister of Sir William Fleetwood, of Cranford, in
Middlesex, who is styled by Collins " Receiver of
the Court of Wards." By this lady he had a
son, Edward, successively knighted aud created
a baronet by Charles I., who constituted him
Vice-President of the Council for the North of


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