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Evelyn Caroline Bromley-Davenport Legh Newton.

The house of Lyme from its foundation to the end of the eighteenth century online

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placed upright against the north wall of the Bold Chapel.
Richard Bold is represented as a young and very handsome
man, with the long hair, moustache, and pointed beard of the
cavalier. He wears a ruff and a breast-plate of armour, and
162



A MINORITY AT LYME

armour covers his arms, full trunk hose and high square-toed
boots with spurs. His right hand is on his breast, his left hand
hangs down by his side and holds a long sword.

Anne is dressed in a plain gown which falls in folds to her
feet, a short jacket with tabs and a ribbon round her waist,
such as one sees in the portraits of Henrietta Maria, and full
sleeves ending in small ruffles at the cuffs. Her hair is dressed
in short curls, and over her head and falling to her feet behind
is a long cloak. She clasps a Bible to her breast between her
hands.



163



CHAPTER XI

" LITTLE PETER'S " SAD END

1640 We must now return to " Little Peter." He had spent most of
the year 1639 and part of 1640 at Oriel College, Oxford, which
he no doubt found a pleasant change from the " supercilous eye
of the severe schoolmaster " at Amersham, although nearly
as much strict supervision seems to have been exercised over
the University undergraduates in the middle of the seventeenth
century as was the case at the beginning. He had been
entered as a fellow commoner, who, though a privileged person
as compared with an ordinary commoner or batteler, was still
under a tutor, and had no control over his own affairs or
finances.* The expenses of a fellow commoner were about ^^50
a year or more in the middle of the century. The fees on
entering the College were ^i to the Vice- Principal, los. to the
servants, 13s. 4d. to the Bursar for entering his name, and the
same sum to the College for matriculation. His " caution "
was £5, and he had to pay his tutor (2 a quarter as tuition fee.
He had his own study and bedroom, in contrast to the commoners,
who had to share a room with their tutor and several students.
The furniture provided for him consisted of a feather bed
weighing sixty pounds, and a great box for his linen, the washing
and mending of which cost (i i8s. a quarter.

The extraordinary objection of the College authorities to any
games still prevailed. One cannot understand their reasons
for thus curbing and restraining the natural desire for some
outlet for high spirits, and the result was probably something
akin to rioting. Mr. G. H. Wakehng, M.A., Fellow of Brasenose,
in his History of the College, 1 603-1 660, writes the following :

* " Brasenose College " (Mr. Wakeling).
164



-LITTLE PETER'S" SAD END

" In 1638, Laud wrote to the Vice-Chancellor on the approach of Lent
to warn him that he must prevent disorder in the disputations. There
was a game known as ' Coursing,' which consisted first in rival Colleges
attempting to outdo each other in the schools, and then a running
fight ensued on the way home to reverse, it may be, the verdict of the
examination room. Their games were so far forbidden that it is
difficult to blame them for thus getting some sport out of Hfe."

Peter Legh can only have remained at Oxford a little over a
year, for on the 3rd of November 1640 he is mentioned as
being elected M.P. for Newton, Lancashire, having as his
colleague Mr. William Ashurst.

Newton-in-Makerfield, to call it by its full designation, was
in Saxon times of sufficient importance to give name to one of
the hundreds of Lancashire, which distinction was retained in
the reign of William the Conqueror. It came into possession
of the Legh family — with much of the other Lancashire property
— through the marriage of the second Sir Peter with the heiress
of the Haydocks, but the barony or lordship of Newton was not
acquired till the seventeenth century, when Richard Legh
bought it from Sir Thomas Fleetwood, and became, in 1661,
first Baron of Newton. In the first year of EHzabeth, 1558-9,
Newton was first given the privilege of returning two members
to parliament. At that time the members were nominated by
the Stewards of the barony and with the assent of the Lord of
Newton, and this continued till 1620, when the franchise
became vested in the free burgesses, that is to say, persons
possessing freehold estates in the borough to the value of 40s.
and upwards.* There were sixty of these free burgesses who
claimed to vote, but the burgage tenure being chiefly in the
lord of the manor, the election was as much in him after
the right came into the hands of the burgesses as it was before
that time, and he was sometimes suspected of abusing his
privileges, and successive Lords of Lyme frequently usurped
the right, f

* Baines' "History of Lancashire."

t Newton ranked among the nomination boroughs up to the time of its dis-
franchisement in 1832, after that time the return of members for South Lancashire
was always made from that place.

i6s



THE HOUSE OF LYME

The young M.P. was only seventeen when he was returned
member for Newton. It seems to have been no unusual thing
for minors to sit in parliament, but they were probably not
allowed to vote, although they seem to have enjoyed all the
other privileges of members.

One gathers that Peter Legh must have been intelHgent and
cultivated above the average. A letter to his Uncle Francis,
written from London on January lo, 1641-2, shows him to have
had a good handwriting, he expresses himself clearly and well,
and gives a very interesting account of the excitement that was
caused by the impeachment of the Bishops and five members.
The King came down to the House of Commons in person, and
occupying the Speaker's chair demanded the surrender of the
persons of Messrs. Hollis, Pym, Hampden, Strode, and Sir
Arthur Hazelrigge, who, however, had in the meanwhile be-
taken themselves to the City. We learn "that the same is a
high Breach of the Rights and Privileges of Parliament, and
inconsistent with the Hberties thereof." *

As a result the House adjourned, to meet again a few days
later at the Guildhall.

Peter Legh's interesting letter begins with excuses for his
long silence, but explains that his reason for not writing was the
fact that it was his

" ill fortune to lodge in a house where the sicknes [the plague] chanced
to fall upon now some 3 weeks or a month agoe, but God be thanked
neither I nor anything concerning mee as yet hath caute anie harme."

He had not written, fearing the danger of infection to his
uncle.

" For the news ther is but httle, but I make noe question but that you
have heard of glassing [?] betwene the Kinge and us aboute the pr.
[privileges?] of our hous of impeaching our members of hie Treason and
coming himselfe in person into the hous to demand them, wheruppon wee
presently adjourned into the citie and his Maistie his court to hampton
court and from thence to Winsor where [it] is now. Ther hath been
divers ialouses [fears] amongst us of divers fals reports of troupes of

* From the " Journals of the House of Commons" for January 4, 1641-2.
166



"LITTLE PETER^S" SAD END

horse assembled together by his Ma^* commanded by my lord Digbie,*
Coronell Lunsford f and divers others for surprising, which makes us
sitte everie day with a stronge guard uppon us or els adjourn into
London, my lord Digbie is gone into Flaunders, hee beinge the supposed
man to have framed the accusation against our members, putting it
into the Queens hand and so to have put the Kinge uppon it, and some
privatly say that her Maistie ere longe will be for France, which I
partly beheve but cannot affirme it, for truth the Kinge and wee are
not so well united together as I could wish but wee receive dayUe
gratious expressions of his mind and good intentions towards us
which makes us hope to see better times then now wee doe, but yett
hee doth not desert from his former charge against our members, but
saith hee will proceed against them in a tryall way. Wee have voted
all the lords in the privie cQunceU voide, but whether his Maiestie will
condescend to it or noe God knoweth. Wee have also petitioned his
Maiestie to put the kingdom into a posture of defence, the magseens
cinqsport and havens into secure hands such as both houses shall
thinke fitt, wee have also beene in chousing [choosing] of lords Lieu-
tenants, my lord Strange | is for our countie, but with much adoe, for
Sr Ralph Aston sonn and Mr Regbie § did mightily oppose us, for
Lord Wharton || and your nechbour did stand neuter till hee saw
which was the stronger side. Wee are now in making choice of
ministers for a sinode, Mr Hearle ^ is pitch uppon and our knight,
Ash ton would put in the warden of Manchester, which shall not bee by
my consent and manie more, how it will goe I know not ; wee are
voting a declaration of heads of grievances of the subjects so to remove
away all jealousies between the Kinge and his people. Wee hear of
20 saile of french loaded with armes and amunition. The merchants
have made proposition of 50 saile of ships to be readie once in 20 days
at what reasonable conditions wee shall thinke fitt for the guard of our
seas uppon this day. The 10 Bishopps are to come to triall this day
sennet : wee receive almost dayly petitions from severall counties

* George Digby, second Earl of Bristol (1612-1677), succeeded as Baron Digby,
1641 ; fought for Charles at Edgehill ; gave up his command after a quarrel with
Prince Rupert.

f Sir Thomas Lunsford (1610-1656), Royalist colonel, made prisoner at Edgehill;
died in Virginia.

X James Strange, seventh Earl of Derby ; married Charlotte de la Tr6mouiUe,
the defender of Lathom House ; he was beheaded in 1651.

§ Alexander Rigby (1594-1650), Parhamentarian colonel and Baron of the
Exchequer.

II Phihp WTiarton, fourth Baron (1613-1696), champion of the popular party in the
Lords ; abandoned soldiering on his regiment being defeated at Edgehill.

% Charles Herle (1598-1659), Puritan divine. Presented by Stanley family to
living of Winwick, Lancashire, in 1626,

167



THE HOUSE OF LYME

accompanied with 2 or 3 thousand a piece against Bishopps and
poppish Lords in the hie hous, and that they will maintaine the rights
and privileges of parlament with their Hves and estates ; this most of it
is all that is now extante, ther is nothing left now but our prayers to
God for you which shall not bee wanting, with my love to my Aunt and
cousens I rest Your most truely honoring and obseruant

" Neaphew Peter Legh."

[642 An interesting letter from Elias Ashmole,* the great anti-

quary and astrologer, addressed to Francis Legh from Clement's
Inn, London, on June 24 of this same year, gives hopes of a
settlement of the negotiations between the King and his people,
but these hopes were unfortunately never to be realized.

" Worthy Sr,

" The Baron [Peter Venables "j"] hath given me in Comand, to give
you many thankes for yor last letter, and to Certifie you that he was not
more disconsolate at his first arrival here (when leaving soe many good
frends, he encountered with soe many appearances of ruin and Con-
fusion) as he is now Joyfull, to perceive some dawnings of a Cleere
understanding betwixt the King and Parliam* ; for yesterday the house
fell into debate about the Kings Answer to the 19 Proposicons made by
both houses (which is amongst other bookes yt he comanded me to
inclose). In wch debate it appeared yt there were many of the other
side much afected to Accomodation and Moderation, being infinitely
troubled yt such things wch were propounded (and which is by all
Confest to have been heretofore sometymes denyed as well as yeilded
imto) should by the overpressing of them and standing too much upon
them, be the occasion of any Civill warr, and therefore were thought
fitter to be declyned. To those things which the King is pleased to
give noe answer to, a Comitee is appointed to take Consideration of
them and to back them with as good Arguments and Precedents as
may be produced, but altogether to declyne their former way of de-
manding them. When this vote had passed (in which was included
many other things tending to Accomodation) Mr Pym | Mr

* Elias Ashmole (161 7-1 692) held several Government appointments ; presented,
in 1677, his collection of curiosities to Oxford University, to which he subsequently
bequeathed his library.

t Peter Venables, Baron of Kinderton, a cousin of the Leghs ; married, first, JMary,
daughter of Sir R. Wilbraham of Woodley, secondly, Frances, youngest daughter of
Sir Robert, afterwards Lord, Cholmondeley.

X John Pym (1584-1643), Parhamcntary statesman; impeached with Hampden
and others ; buried in Westminster Abbey, whence his body was ejected after the
Restoration.

168



"LITTLE PETER'S" SAD END

Hollis * Mr Stroude f Mr Hampden J and divers others of that side
went out of the house in a discontent before the Speaker could
reassume his Chaire.



" Thus with my due respects to you I remaine

" Yor faithfull servant,

" Elias Ashmole."

There was no reconciliation possible, things had gone too
far and neither side would yield an inch. The tone of both
Houses had risen with threats of force, the air was highly-
charged with electricity, it only required a spark to set everything
in a blaze. The King rejected the nineteen propositions of the
Parliament, which included the demands for the control of the
militia and of all fortresses by officers of its own choosing ; the
reform of the liturgy and church government ; the appointment
and dismissal by Parliament of all royal ministers and of
guardians for the royal children, and the power of excluding
from the House of Lords all peers created after that date, June
1642. Henceforth war was certain.

The Queen fled to Holland to raise money on the Crown
jewels, and the King left London never to return again except
to die. It was, in short, the beginning of the end.

The sympathies of Peter Legh, belonging as he did to so
strongly royalist a family, must certainly have been with the
King, but it will be noticed that, following the habit of corre-
spondents of the time, he does not give any expression of his
owm views, confining himself strictly to a statement of facts.

He was greatly attached to his Uncle Francis, who had always
been glad to see as much of him as the jealous guardianship of
his mother allowed, and whose sole desire was to supply the
place of father to his dead brother's children. The bringing up
of the boy had perhaps not been quite judicious. From quite
a baby he had been under the care of a tutor at Lyme, with

* Denzil, first Baron Holies of Ifield (1599-1680) ; impeached among the five
members. Ambassador at Paris, 1663-6.

t William Strode (1599 ?-i645), politician; after 1640, one of Charles I's bitterest
enemies.

{ John Hampden (1594-1643), statesman: impeached, but escaped attempted
arrest ; killed in a skirmish with Prince Rupert at Chalgrove Field.

169



THE HOUSE OF LYME

occasional and rare visits to his mother, and Sir Peter, following
the example of most grandfathers, had greatly relaxed his stern
disciphne, and had shown far more indulgence to his grandson
than he had ever done to his own children. The boy, in fact,
was rather spoilt. After the old man's death he had — as we
have seen — returned to the guardianship of a not very judicious
mother, who seems to have kept him in leading-strings and to
have refused to realize that her son was growing up. High-
spirited, headstrong, and wilful, impatient of restraint and
control, capable of being led but never driven, he needed the
most careful and tactful management, and the severity and
harsh discipline of school and college were only calculated to
cause him to break out directly he obtained his much-longed-for
liberty. His own master at the age of seventeen, beset with all
the dangers and temptations of the day, it is not surprising
that he should have adopted the Hfe and habits of a fashionable
gallant of the period. His handsome face and charming
personality made him all the more Hable to be assailed by many
flatterers, always ready to fawn upon a good-looking and w'ealthy
youth, and to use him for their own ends.*

There had been some project of a marriage between Peter
and a daughter of Sir Lewis Watson, afterwards first Baron
Rockingham, a friend of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.
Most unfortunately this came to nothing, or the tragic event
which we are about to relate might never have happened.
1641-2 Little more than a fortnight after his letter to his Uncle Francis

was written, Peter seems to have been engaged in a duel with one
Browne, eldest son of a Sir John Browne "]* and a nephew of
Lord Herbert of Cherbury. What the cause of the duel was

* A miniature, possibly by Cooper, represents him as a pale-complexioned,
delicate-looking young man, with long fair hair worn in the Cavalier fashion of the
time, a small moustache and imperial, and large dark blue eyes. The mouth is
beautifully shaped and chiselled but the expression indicates a certain weakness of
character. He wears a wide white linen and lace collar tied with a large loose blue
ribbon bow, and over the right shoulder a red cloak which partially covers a brown
and white doublet. This miniature is painted on the back of the two of hearts ;
playing cards were frequently used by miniature painters of the seventeenth century,
the smooth surface being very suitable for the purpose.

t Frances, youngest sister of Edward, first Lord Herbert of Cherbury ; married
Sir John Brown, Kt., of Lincolnshire.

170



"LITTLE PETER'S" SAD END

has never been discovered. A hasty word, a fancied sHght were
in those days, and even much later, enough to produce a quarrel
ending in a duel, and the senseless sacrifice of a human life.
This was how poor young Peter met his death. He lingered for
six days, succumbing finally to his injuries on February 2, 1641-2.
He made his will on the day before his death in a document
as short as it is pathetic ; it runs as follows :

" Peter Leighe Esq being dangerouslie wounded maketh his desiers and
requests as foUoweth, viz :

" The Barron of Kinderton to take the moneyes in his trunk vvch is
about 70'. Desired him to speak to his Unckle Frrannces to be good
to his Mother and Sist''®.
" Sr William Gerrarde to haue his dun nage.
"I. Frebr. 1641.
" He desireth his Unckle Frrannces over and aboue his owne
bountie to his Sisters he wiU for his sake give them c'. apeece. To
his man Raphe Arnefeilde the xiiii'. he oweth him to be made up
xi', the boy here wth him, Myles Leighe, v\ his footeboy at Blackley
v\ and every servant at Blackley xs apeece, Raphe Swindells x'.
" He giveth his gray Nage he had of Mr Bratherton to Captain
Broughton.

" His Sworde at his lodging in Towne to Mr Carrell Mulineux and
praieth God he may make better Use of it then he hath done, and
his case of Pistolles.

'* His watch to his Aunt Lettice Leighe.

" His cloathes to his three servants, the boy at Blackley, Raphe
Arnefeid and Myles Leighe.

" Desireth his father the Barron to see his bodie buried at Winwicke,
and Mr Jones, whom hath beene wth him all his sicknes to preache at
his funerall,

" To his brother Tom,* his Sword at Blackley, and a gray Nage he
bought of the Barron.

" To his father f his whit mare and best sadle.

" Praieth his Unckle Frrannces to consider the debts he oweth Sr
Wm Gerrarde J and all the debts he oweth to others,
" To his frend Mr Roger Mosten his Caen [cane].
" To his Unckle Frrannces the Sword that was his grandfathers, his
great seale and his greate fowling peece.

* Probably brother-in-law — he had no brother.

t No doubt godfather.

t Sir William Gerard, second son of Sir Thomas, first Baron Gerard.



THE HOUSE OF LYME

" Desireth his Unckle to give his Mother c' ayeare duringe her life,
if she give the porcon in money she hath to his Sisters wch if she so
otherwaies dispose of, then c' in money.

" Peter Legh
" I say my hand.
'* Witnesses hereof
" Raphe Assheton.
" John Jones.
" Roger Mostyn.
" Thomas Munckas.
" 1641."

It is impossible to find out exactly where the duel was
fought. It was probably somewhere near London as Parliament
was sitting at the time. The fact that the dying boy was
ministered to in his last hours by a Dr. Featley, author of
devotional works, who is described as being the Rector of the
parish in which he died, makes it probable that the place was
Acton, near London, a Dr. Featley, also a writer, being Rector
of that parish at this date.

We get an account of Peter's last hours from a certain Rev.
John Jones, who writes a sort of summary of his illness and
death and seems to have nursed him with great devotion.
None of his near relations were with him. His Uncle Francis
was too much of an invalid to undertake so long a journey,
and the six days would not have given time enough for his
mother to reach London to see her only son die. Peter
Venables,* Baron of Kinderton, Mr. Bradshawe (but whether
this was Henry or John the regicide judge is not clear), and
Mr. Jones appear to have been the only persons present with
the dying boy.

He bore his sufferings with much patience, submitting
uncomplainingly to the painful dressing of his wounds, and
in those days, when palliatives were unknown, this must have
been an agonizing process. He faced death with the greatest
courage and fortitude, his chief anxiety being for his mother and
sisters, whom he left to the care of his Uncle Francis, beseeching

* See note, p. 168.
172



"LITTLE PETER'S" SAD END

him that he would be good to them. His assailant he freely
forgave, receiving the Holy Communion with him the day after
the duel. In the pharisaical spirit of the Puritans of the time
it was considered to be " a wicked inconsiderateness " that he
should have received the Sacrament at all, it being supposed
that he could not be sufficiently prepared after so late an offence
as his duel. Mr. Jones, however, considers this

" overstrictness on the part of some, for [he adds] he was excused by
the Minister that gave it him, who assured mee (having had halfe an
hours conference with him) hee found him soe richlie quallified with
Faith, Repentance, Charitie, and other Graces requisite for such a
Condition, that hee could not refuse the delivery of it, knoweing
that Mr Legh would receive it with much benefit, and to his great
comfort."

Mr. Jones seems to have gone to Peter two days after the
duel, which took place on Thursday, January 27, 1 641-2.

" On Saturdaie I came to visit him, and after that was seldome from
him ; And can witnes thus much. That verie often, everie Night
betwixt his slumber (which was but short) Hee would call for Praiers ;
and therein Joyne with us, going along with us in the words and verie
earnestlie, as did appeare by those importunate gestures of lifting up
his Eyes, and Hands, and strikeing them on his breast : And verie
often hee would call for a Praier-booke, and therein read such Praiers
himselfe as were propper for One in his weake state, untill his sight and
Spirrits would begin to faile him."

In answer to a question in what faith he died, his answer
was that he died in the reHgion in which he was baptized, that
of the Church of England.

" Hee would often expresse a willingnesse of dying, in respect of the
miseries of this world and hope of Heaven, and that nothing retarded
that desire, but the prejudice which his death would bee to his Mother
and Sisters to whom he desired manie to remember his humble dutie
and dearest love.

" He was free in his good advice to others (whom he conceived not to
have been soe strict in their life as they ought) pressing them to have
care of their life hereafter, . . . hee would often intimate how he would
leave ye companie of those yong Gallants that had abused his too
easie and flexile nature ; and consulted with Doctor Featley (a

173



THE HOUSE OF LYME

reverend and Learned Divine, the Parson of the parish where hee died)
and myselfe (but the day before his departure when wee had most
hopes of him) what Bookes were fittest for him to read . . . Being
much taken with a Booke of devotion which Doctor Featley made
himselfe and used in his visiting of him. About 4 of the clocke on the
Wednesdaie (after his hurt) being his Critical daie, hee began to decHne,
and the symptomes of Death began to appeare upon him, which
mcreased untill ten, the hower of his death ; In all which hee would
often call for praier, still joining with us therein (soe long as hee was
able) And ever and anon, hee would breath forth sweet ejaculations,
as, * Lord forgive mee my Sinnes : Lord Jesus (for on him onelie would
he often expresse himselfe that hee relyed for salvation, renouncing



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