James Gairdner.

Three fifteenth-century chronicles, with historical memoranda by John Stowe, the antiquary, and contemporary notes of occurrences written by him in the reign of Queen Elizabeth online

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Sunday he preached a violent sermon at All Hallows the Less in
Thames Street, where the incumbent, who had complied with the
injunctions, sat listening to him with a sarcastic smile quite visible
upon his features. The result was, that, after the sermon, some of
the congregation addressed a remonstrance to the incumbent, Avhich
began in argument and ended in a scuffle between the opposite
sides. The general excitement on these subjects was increased by
a host of pamphlets which were scattered freely about the streets,
and many of which were, according to the ideas of that age, nothing
less than seditious libels. Between Easter and Whitsuntide, how-
ever, the Scotchman seems to have been converted — by what
influences we are not told. On Whit Monday he found his conscience
allowed him to do duty in a surplice at St. INIargaret Pattens in
Rood Lane. But, unfortunately for Kim, his audience liked his
former preaching better than his later practice, and his appearance
caused a regular riot inside the church, especially among the women,
who threw stones at him, and pulled him out of the pulpit, tearing
his surplice and scratching his face in their violence."

Two others of the London clergy, who were prominent in their
opposition to the injunctions, were Philpot and Gough, each holding
a plurality of cures, some of which appear to have been within the
diocese of Winchester. Robert Horne^ Bishop of that see, sum-
moned them to a conference at Winchester, in which the subject
was to be discussed for one-and-twenty days. As they passed over
London Bridge into Southwark, they were accompanied by two or
three hundred women, laden with bags and bottles " to banquet at
their departing." Whether this was an open-air entertainment the
author does not say ; but it was not the only form in which the
crowd displayed their enthusiastic liberality. Presents of gold,

« pp. 138-9.


silver, spice, sugar, and other things were made in abundance, and
the travellers were everywhere exhorted to stand fast in the doctrine
they had taught, touching the important subject of caps and

On the other hand, the Bishop of London himself, on coming to
St. Margaret's church in Old Fish Street, was hooted at by the
congregation, and especially by the women, because he wore the
cornered cap belonging to his dignity. A cry of '•' Ware horns ! "
rose up, with other opprobrious language. The episcopal dignity
had certainly fallen into strange disrepute, at all events in the city
of London, when such a scene was possible. Nor was it easy to
inflict appropriate punishment on the offenders. One woman
indeed was taken on the following Saturday and placed upon two
ladders " like a cucking stool," for the space of a whole hour; but,
like Defoe in a later age, she only rejoiced in her punishment, and
was encouraged by the spectators to glory in having been thought
worthy to suffer persecution for the sake, as they declared, of
righteousness and truth in protesting against superstition.^

I leave the reader to examine for himself the notice of the original
Puritans and Brownists, which completes the religious picture of the
times,'' the minute accounts of the mortality from the plague," the
description of the tournament at the marriage of Lord Ambrose
Dudley ,'' the meeting between the Queen and Leicester in 1566,®
the proclamation for the sale of the houses on the site destined for
Sir Thomas Gresham's Exchange,^ and other matters of the like
character ; all of which possess much interest for the historical

The reader has now before him everything that is of a distinctly
historical character in the Lambeth Volume No. 306. That

* p. 140. ^ p. 143. « pp. 123-5, 144-7.

« p. 134. « p. 137. ^ pp. 134-5.


volume, however, also contains, as will be seen by the catalogue, a
quantity of poetry, medical receipts, and scraps of various kinds,
which do not, generally speaking, greatly repay perusal. I have,
however, printed two little scraps at the end of this preface (Note A)
which are not alt02:ether uninteresting as curiosities.

The " Brief Notes," which form the second portion of this volume,
are derived from a MS. (No. 448 in the Lambeth Library) which
seems to have been penned within the monastery of Ely. It is a
small quarto volume, containing 153 leaves, of which the greater
part are parchment ; but the last 37 and some in the middle are of
paper. The earlier portion is the history of the monastery and of
the bishops of Ely printed by Wharton in his Anglia Sacra,
pp. 593 — 674. It extends from the days of the founder, Queen
Etheldreda the Virgin, to the episcopate of Morton, afterwards
Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal, who succeeded to this see
in the year 1478. This history is written on parchment as far as
folio 77, and is continued for 22 pages further upon paper, the
continuation being evidently a portion of the draft from which the
whole was copied. This is shown by the fact that on the top line
of folio 78 the first four words of a sentence are cancelled, being
contained in the last line of the vellum leaf immediately preceding.
The handwriting on the paper leaves is different from that of the
portion written on vellum, but both are evidently of the same
period, the close of the fifteenth century. The work, however,
is continued by a sixteenth-century pen, from the episcopate of
Alcock, Morton's successor, to that of Thirlby.

After this follow 25 leaves of parchment, filled with matter
relating to the statutes and benefactors of the monastery, all in
fifteenth-century handwriting, and containing much that is of
considerable interest to the student of monastic usages. In the


middle of this portion, however, are a few leaves which had been
left blank, and which have been filled up by a later scribe with the
genealogy of Robert Steward, the last Prior and first Dean of Ely,
who died in 1557. This genealogy has also been printed by
Wharton, pp. 686-8.

From folio 117 to the end is again paper, filled with writing of
the fifteenth century; and it is from this portion alone that our
extracts are taken. The contents, however, are very miscellaneous,
being partly jottings and extracts from various sources, in which
the only point of real interest is an account of the great fire at Bury
St. Edmund's in 1140, and partly an exceedingly rough and careless,
but still contemporary, register of current events. The entries here
have not even been written in consecutively as the events occurred,
but later occurrences precede earlier ones, although the date of the
year is invariably given at the head of the paragraph. Evidently
this part of the volume was a mere memorandum book, filled up
irregularly at intervals, and intended merely to aid in the com-
pilation of some more polished chronicle. Even the dates given
prior to the year 1450 are very inaccurate ; indeed a good number
of the occurrences in that year are referred to the year 1449. But
in point of fact these brief notes are, with one exception, of little
or no consequence before the year 1459, and most of the preceding
entries are probably derived from some other source. An exception,
however, ought certainly to be made as to the paragraph relating
to the Parliament at Bury in 1446-7, and the suspected murder of
the Duke of Gloucester. The strong Impression produced by that
event is shown by all the historical evidences of the period; and it
is all the more interesting to read what appears to have been a first
impression produced when the news was fresh, in a monastery not
thirty miles distant from the scene of its occurrence.

This paragraph moreover contains circumstantial information not


found elsewhere. Whatever the facts may have been, Suffolk pro-
fessed to apprehend danger to the King from the machinations of
his uncle, and caused him to be protected by a very strong guard
(about 60,000 men and villeins, says our MS.) at every town in
which he stopped on his way to the Parliament. The writer how-
ever altogether discredits the dangei', and tells us that Duke
Humphrey came up from Wales in obedience to the King's com-
mand without a thought or suspicion of evil in his mind, merely
hoping to obtain the King's favour for Dame Eleanor his wife,
who had been for some time imprisoned. The writer's incredulity
as to the conspiracy was doubtless shared by the majority of the
people, as it is by most of the writers of this period; but it seems
strange that, such being the case, the strong bodyguard is not even
noticed by any other writer.

Great confusion exists in some parts of the narrative; in one
place the writer actually speaks of Pomfret Castle being near
Southwark (p. 154). The battle of Northampton is dated 1459,
instead of 1460 (p. 153), and in the account of the circumstances
which led to it the name of Northampton seems to be introduced
prematurely where Ludlow was the place that is really referred to.*^
These and a variety of other errors show the carelessness with which
these notes of occurrences were drawn up.^

" "Anno Domini Mcccc.lix" (1460), et anno Kegis Henrici vj''xxviij", mense Jiilii
venemnt comes de "Wanvyk, comes de March, et comes de Salisbery ; quia cum
prius venissent ad JVortha)njjto7t, (Ludlow), et audito quod Rex erat prsesens clam
fugierunt ad mare," &c.

^ Carelessness, however, is contagious, and I take this opportunity both to confess
and to explain a curious slip of my own occasioned by the slovenly character of the
MS. At page 159, in the account of the sieges in Northumberland in 1462, occurs
the sentence: — "At the seege of Hem sunt comes de Wyceter, comes de Arundel,
dominus de Ogyl, et dominus de Muntegew cum x. M*." I could not but suppose
when I transcribed the MS. that " Hem " was a place, though I was unacquainted
with it. I find, however, the word should have been spelt with a small h,
" hem " being here a personal pronoun referring to the Duke of Somerset and others,



But, while inaccuracies such as these might seem to detract from
the value of the record, its importance as an original source of infor-
mation on many points cannot be overlooked. The news of the
battle of Hedgley Moor has evidently been taken down when it
was quite fresh, prefaced by the words, " These tidings hath my
lord of Lincoln, and the same be come to Stamford " (p. 156).
Again, the exploits of Earl Douglas in 1462, of which no other
account has been preserved to us, are introduced in like manner,
with the words, " These been the tidings sent out of Scotland "
(p. 159). It may be added that the sieges in Northumberland in
1462 (p. 159) are described in the present tense, as if they were
still going on, and the account of them is concluded by the state-
ment, "Rex tenet Natale suum apud Dorham" (the King is keeping
his Christmas at Durham). Even the errors as to matters of fact
in some cases are such as could only have been made at the time;
as, for example, in the list of those killed at Towton (p. 160), which
includes not only Queen Margaret and her son, but at least seven
noblemen besides/ who certainly survived that day, and some of
whom lived after it for twenty years or more.

who were keeping Bamborougli Castle for Henry VI., as mentioned in the pre-
ceding sentence! Of all writings in the world illiterate writings are certainly the
easiest to misinterpret.

" The Dukes of Exeter and Somerset, the Earls of Cumberland and Shrewsbury,
Lords Scales, Willoughby, and Roos. "Dominus Henricus de Bokyngham" is
probably an eighth; for I imagine the person intended was the Duke of Buckingham,
afterwards beheaded by Richard III., whose succession to the title was not yet
acknowledged, his grandfather from whom he inherited it having been slain at
Northampton in the preceding year. In the list of knights slain also we meet with
" Dominus R. de Percy," probably Sir Ralph Percy who was killed three years
later at Hedgley Moor, and Sir Ralph Gray who also survived for three years and
was beheaded for treason in 1464. The error in the case of Sir Ralph Gray was
however discovered and the name is accordingly erased. At page 161 again we
have another list of those slain in this battle, including, as the former one did, the
Earl of Devonshire. Yet the Earl of Devonshire is stated on the same page to have
been beheaded after the battle, which of course is more accurate.


Inaccuracies of this kind ai'c instructive, for in the present case
they testify to the exagfrcratcd impression produced by a great
victory. Even wliat may be called the official report, written just
after the battle by King Edward himself, wrongly enumerated among
the slain Lords AVilloughby and Scales, while it spoke with rather
less certainty of the death of Northumberland, who certainly was
one of them ; and mentioned truly that King Henry and Margaret
with their son, the Dukes of Somerset and Exeter, and Lord Roos,
had escaped to Scotland."^ But the report which first reached the
monastery of Ely confounded those who had fled with those who
had flillen in battle, and added two more noblemen besides to the
appalling list. Almost anything must have seemed credible as to
the fatal results of a conflict after which it was positively stated
that 28,000 corpses had been numbered upon the field by heralds.''

Tliere can be no doubt, therefore, whether its statements be
accurate or the reverse, that this MS. contains the first intelliarence
of a number of occurrences as they were reported in the monastery
of Ely in the beginning of Edward the Fourth's reign. And after
the fullest allowance made for error these brief notes certainly make
a considerable addition to what was already known of that obscure
and turbulent period. Here we have not only the account of several
actions fought and sieges laid, but of Lancastrian conspiracies
detected, and of the foreign alliances by which it was believed the
defeated party would be enabled to invade England at several points
at once (p. 158). The account of the discovery of the conspiracy
of the Earl of Oxford in 1461-2 (pp. 162-3) is also new and not
altogether unimportant. Nor must we pass by in silence the long

* See Past on Letters (new edition), ii. 5.

^ Paston Letters, ii. 6. Here in this Ely MS. we are told with hcautiful precision
that the number of the slain " was reckoned at 85,091, as it was reported" (percesti-
mationcvi xxxvM'.iiij^'' et xj, ut dicehatnr), and a little lower that it was 33,000
and more (quasi xxxiij milia etplures).


catalogue at p. 157 of the noblemen and knights who accompanied

King Edward to the borders of Scotland in December 1462. But

on these things, as on the minute fragments of information in the

Short English Chronicle, it is quite impossible to enlarge in a

Preface like this, and we must be content with having thus briefly

indicated the sort of material which this MS. contains.

Before finally taking leave of it, however, it may be interesting

to give here an extract from the earlier part of the volume relative

to an earthquake in the year 1488. On the back of folio 116 occurs

the following note : —

Anno Domini M'>CCCC°lxxx™°Tiij°, in festo Sancti Thome Martins erat terre
motns magnus per quartemium unius hore ante horam duodecimam in nocte, ex quo
plures audientes et sensientes erant exterriti ; qui duravit per spacium unius * Ave

The third source from which the contents of this volume are
derived is the MS. numbered 5 in the Arundel Collection in the
College of Arms. It is a great parchment folio still preserved in
the old wooden covers, and, as mentioned in the catalogue, *' on
the right hand one is a curious horn tablet, covering a piece of
parchment, with the titles of the contents written by the original
scribe." Nothing seems to be known of the history of this volume
beyond the fact that it once belonged to Fox the Martyrologist and
afterwards became the property of Lord William Howard of
Naworth — a collector whose historical and religious views being
totally opposed to those of his predecessor, he has left a note in one
place accusing Fox, but it must be said most untruly, of interpolating
a passage in the text concerning the death of King John.

The contents are, first, what is called a Scala Mundi, or tabular
chronology of universal history, with dates extending down to the
year 1619, the events however being only filled in to the year 1469.
'^ The word dimldii here followed, but is erased.

niEFACE. xxi

Second, a double history of Popes and Emperors on opposite pages,
the former carried down as far as the year 1334, and the latter to
the period of the Guelph and Ghibelline factions. And third, a
" Compilacio de Gestis Britonum et Anglorum," continued to the
year 1-471. It is the concluding portion of this last work that alone
has any value for the historian, because there is no doubt that for
the reign of Edward IV. at least it is a strictly contemporary
record. As such it has been already cited by Mr. Halliwell
Phillipps, who quoted some extracts from it in his Appendix to
Warkworth's Chronicle — the first work ever published by this
Society.** But the whole narrative for the reign of Edward IV. is
full of interest, and, as it is difficult to say at what point the work
begins to be an original composition, I have given a complete
transcript from the beginning of Henry VI.'s reign.

Whoever the compiler was, he certainly lived in the days of
Henry VI. and Edward IV. Yet for the most part, if not the
whole, of Henry VI.'s reign his narrative is of very little value.
So slender is his record of events that the first battle of St. Alban's
is altogether omitted, though there is a retrospective allusion to it
in connection with the pacification of 1457-8 (p. 168). The
disgrace of Bishop Pecock in the same year is related with a good
deal of the usual theological bitterness (pp. 167-8). But there
is really nothing in this Chronicle that cannot be found elsewhere
before the year 1460, and little even in that year, though the
circumstances connected with the battle of Northampton and the
Duke of York's claim to the crown are recorded somewhat more
fully than previous events. An abstract of the Duke of York's
claim in parliament is quoted in English (p. 170), and it is clear
the writer has much sympathy both with him and with his son.

Just after Edward the Fourth was proclaimed King in London,
we find that his title was set forth in a sermon at Paul's Cross by
» Warhvortlis Chronicle, pp. 39, 40, 43, 44, 45, 4G.


George Nevill, Bishop of Exeter, the Earl of Warwick's brother.
When the sermon was finished. King Edward rode throus;h the
streets to Westminster in a great procession of lords spiritual and
temporal, and sat down in the royal seat {sedes regalis) in Westmin-
ster Hall, as if taking formal possession of the throne.^ This intel-
ligence is very remarkable, and suggests at once the question how
far Richard III. intended to use the case as a precedent when Dr.
Shaw preached in behalf of his title from the same pulpit. That
Richard hoped to be made King (or make himself so) by acclama-
tion like his brother is the belief that has always been accepted ;
and it is remarkable that, though Dr. Shaw's sermon was a failure,
and Richard took no steps that day to secure possession of the
throne, he actually did on the day of his accession, which was only
four days later, take his seat in the marble chair in Westminster
Hall, the sedes regalis mentioned by our chronicler.

This sedes regalis, or marble chair of royalty, was apparently the
King's Bench, from which the court derives its name;'' and it is
interesting to find, a little further on (p. 175), that it was not a
mere antiquated tradition in Edward the Fourth's days that kings
might administer justice in person ; for we are told that Edward
himself in 1462, sitting in the King's Bench {in hancho suo regali)
at Westminster, heard a particular cause tried before him, his Chan-
cellor and Justices assisting him with their advice.

« Page 173.

'' I had written this -without referring to any other work upon the subject, bnt I
find the same ojiinion put forward in a note in Smith's Antiquities of Westminster^
p. 258; and it appears from a reference there to Bailey's Antiquities of London
and Westminster, p. 240 (ed. 1734), that this marble chair was beliered to be still
in existence at the beginning of the last century, though it was then hidden from
view, being built oyer by the two Courts of Chancery and the King's Bench. What
has become of it ? My friend Mr. Henry Brewer, who has always taken much
interest in the architectural history of Westminster Hall, believes that Bailey was
labouring under a mistake, and that the chair had been destroyed before his time.
See note B at the end of this Preface.


Of the military and naval movements at the commencement of
Edward IV. 's reign this is perhaps the clearest contemporary account
that we possess; Worcester's narrative, though rather more minute,
being defective in some places, and particularly in the year 1403,
where a leaf of the original MS. is lost.* From what we read in
the present Chronicle that does not appear to have been a very
eventful year; but the tone of the writer's comments upon it is
noteworthy. He takes note of the assembly and prorogation of
parliament, and observes that he is not aware that it had re-
dressed any evils or initiated any reforms during its seven weeks'
sitting. He makes no mention of what was apparently the only
business transacted — the vote of 37,000/. for the defence of the
kingdom.'' But this was a matter that only affected the laity, and
evidently the writer was a churchman. The taxation of the laity
was a mere trifle to what was extorted at the same time from the
clergy, and on this subject our author writes feelingly. The Con-
vocation of Canterbury granted the king the sum of one mark, or
thirteen shillings and four pence, on every ten marks clerical income ;
'' at which," he says, " many were aggrieved and complained, both
because they were poor and because moneys so extorted from the
clergy rarely or never lead to any good result, but rather to the
confusion and disgrace of those who use them. For after the feast
of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin JMary King Edward mustered
a great army and prepared to subdue his adversaries by land and
sea. I know not, however, what good he did in that expedition.
And the Earl of Worcester with his ship and sailors, lurking as it
were by the shores and havens of the sea and consuming their pro-
visions, returned empty without doing anything. unhappy result,
shame and confusion !"

The King^s necessities about the same time, or shortly afterwards,
» W. Wyr. 49 r. "• Rolls of Parliament, v. 497.


led him to enhance the value of the coinage and seize upon the
revenues of the two Colleges founded by his predecessor at Cam-
bridge and Eton, the latter of which he had some thought of sup-
pressing altogether by the aid of a papal bull. Happily he was
persuaded to abandon this intention ; but the endowments of both
Colleges were reduced and a large portion went to meet the King's

It is evident that the cause of Henry YI. was at this time by no
means desperate, and might even have triumphed without the un-
expected aid which it afterwards received from the Earl of Warwick.
For the civil war was by no means so intermittent and spasmodic
an aifair as the meagre contemporary notices might well lead us to
imagine. Through the early part of King Edward's reign it was
quite continuous, and we now learn for the first time that in 1464
the Lancastrians obtained possession of the castles of Norham and
Skipton in Craven. The news took Edward by surprise while he
was feasting with his lords in London, and presently he proceeded
to the North to resist the enemy. But his going seemed to produce
very little result, and after a good deal of time had been wasted
Edward's Chancellor, George Nevill Bishop of Exeter, the brother
of Warwick and Lord Montague, took his journey also to the North
for the relief of the latter lord, who had to sustain the brunt of the
conflict. But on the 2nd May, we are told, a decisive battle was
fought by Montague, in which the Lancastrian party were defeated,
the Duke of Somerset and others put to flight, and Sir Ralph Percy

So the facts are related, but I am bound to state that the narrative

in this place does not seem quite so accurate as elsewhere. From

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Online LibraryJames GairdnerThree fifteenth-century chronicles, with historical memoranda by John Stowe, the antiquary, and contemporary notes of occurrences written by him in the reign of Queen Elizabeth → online text (page 2 of 20)