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note, p. 44, note, and p. 127, note.

2 ' Accurate.^ This is ratlier a rash term. How could the writer know
that it was accurate ? He might see that it sinndatcd accurac}' — nothing


putrid fever. Those persons wlio possessed the best
means of fornihig u correct judgment upuu the subject
liave been uniformly of opinion that the prince's death
was not hastened l)y violence. Sir Charles Cornwallis,
who held a place in his household, has denied the fact.' ^
This writer's ' most complete proof will be found, on a
close inspection, to be a ' most complete proof ' leading to
a very different conclusion from the conclusion ' that
Prince Henry died of a violent putrid fever.'

Before I proceed to the important subject of Sir
Theodore Mayerne, I will quote what is said by tSir
Walter Scott, who will not be charged with any bias
against the royal family of Stuart, in regard to the
inchnation of Sir Charles Cornwallis's opinion. In a
note at p. 233 in vol ii. of his edition of Somer's Tracts,
Sir Walter Scott says, ' Cornwallis, in this and other
passages, seems obliquely to hint a suspicion of foul
play.' 2

It will now be necessary to say a few words respecting a
very important though not a prominent actor in this strange
and tragical drama. This actor was the celebrated phy-
sician Mayerne, who had been one of the physicians to
King Henry IV. of France, and whose skill in chemistry
was remarkable in his day. Mr. Amos, who has investi-
gated this subject with great labour and ability, speaks of
this physician's ' experience in the secret state-poisonings
of the French capital.'^ However that may be, Mayerne
had been invited to England by King James to be his own

^ Retrospective Eeview, vol. vii. p. 38.

"^ Somers's Tracts, vol. ii. p. 2?>'-\, note, Sir W. Scott's edition. This note
is given to a pas.sii;;e of Cornwallis's account of the prince's illness and death,
which will be more particularly considered in subsequent pages.

* Amos, The (jreat Oyer of IViisimiug, p. 4U4.



physician, as Dr. Julio had been invited some years before
by Eobert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, to be his physician.
Julio is reported to have aided Leicester by preparing
prescriptions that should effectually cure any upon whom
Leicester wished him to exercise his skill. ^ But
Mayerne's fate was different from Julio's, whose death
was thought to have been brought about by a dose
compounded by Leiceister without his assistance ; for
Mayerne lived and flourished under three Stuart kings :
received the honour of knighthood in 1624 ; was
appointed first physician to Charles I. on his accession ;
and Avas continued in the same post by Charles II. He
died at Chelsea in 1655, in the eighty-second year of his
age, and was buried at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields.
Mayerne left an immense fortune to his only daughter,
married to the Marquis de Montpouvillan, grandson of
the marshal Duke de la Force. ^ There is a fine full-
length portrait of him in the College of Physicians, which
represents a man with rather a good countenance —
certainly a much better one than that of his master King
James. The beard in the portrait is mostly white, but
enough of the original colour remains to show that it has
been red. There are parts of the beard of an amber or
ginger colour, showing clearly that its original colour
was such that he might be called ' a physician with a red

^ The general character of Leicester as a secret poisoner is indicated by a
remark of Fuller, who says that Sir Nicholas Throckmorton died in the house
of the Earl of Leicester, Feb. 12, 157", in the 58th year of his age, ' not with-
out suspicion of poisoning, the more that his deatli took place in the house
of no mean artist in that faculty.' — See Jardines Cmninal Trials, vol. i.
p. 01.

^ Biographie universelle, art. Mayerne-Turquet (Theodore de) ; Chal-
mers's Biographical Dictionary, art. Mayerne (Sir Theodore de). There is
also an article on Sir Theodore Mayerne in the Supplement to the Biographia



beard.' The complexion of the face in tlie portrait is
also clearly that of a fair, ruddy man, whose beard
would be of a light red colour, or a reddish brown. Tlie
reason for the employment of so many words about the
colour of this man's beard will appear in the sequel.

Mayerne was, according to a recently published
account of him, brought over to England iirst by James's
queen, Anne of Denmark. He then returned to France,
where he remained four years more ; and after the
assassination of Henry IV., in 1610, he came to England
to be physician to James 1., who sent a person over to
France for him in 1010.^

The importance of the services of this Dr. Mayerne in
the estimation of his master King James may be seen
from the following extracts, which I transcribe from ' An
Abstract of his Majesty's Eevenue, &c.' published in 1651
in the same volume w^ith the tract entitled ' Truth brought
to Lidit ' —



To Sir Kalph Winwood, Principal Secretary of

State, for his fee yearly ^
To Doctor de Mayerne
To Doctor Craig the elder
To Doctor Craig the younger
To Doctor Atkins
To Doctor Hammonde ^ .
To William Gfoddouroiis, sergeant-surgeon to the

king. ....

To Peter Cliamberlaine, surgeon to the queen
To Ealph Cleyton, apothecary to the prince, his

fee by the year * .

. 100

. 400

. 100

. 100

. 100

. 100


. 26



. 40


^ See the account of him in Dr. Munk's Roll of the College of Physicians,
vol. i. pp. 152-157 : London, 1861.

^ Abstract of Ilis Majesty's Revenue, p. 45 : London, 1^51,
» Ibid p. 41). ' * Ibid.


To Sir Edward Coke, knight, Lord Chief Justice £ s. d.
of England, for his fee at 224L 19s. 9d. by
the year, and 33^. 6s. 8d. by the year for his
circuits ^ . . . . . 258 6 5

The puisne judges of the King's Bench have each

188/. 65. 8cZ., besides their yearly allowances for their

diets in their circuits.

£ s. d.

To George Colmer, the king's cockmaster . 200

To Sir Greorge Moore, Chancellor of the Order of

the Garter, for his fee per annum . . 100

To John Wood and Eobert his son, for keeping and

breeding of cormorants, by the year "^ . 45126

If the master of the cockpit and the keeper and
breeder of the cormorants were not likely to have such
valuable additional fees and perquisites as the judges
and the Principal Secretary of State, it is to be observed
that Mayerne, the king's chief physician, had probably as
large an addition of fees from his private practice among
the nobility and the wealthiest people of the kingdom as
the Principal Secretary of State and the judges ; conse-
quently as his yearly salary was nearly double that of the
Chief Justice of England, and quadruple that of the Prin-
cipal Secretary of State, it may be concluded that his ser-
vices were more valuable to King James than those of the
Chief Justice of England or of the Principal Secretary of
State. In the following pages we may perhaps be able
to obtain some slight indication — some glimpse, though
by no means a full view — of the nature and value of those

Ilavinji now introduced to the reader Dr. or Sir
Theodore de Mayerne as a sort of connecting medium

1 Abstract of Ilia Majesty's Ilovenue, p. 39. '•^ Ihid. p. 47.


riinnin!^ along tlic chain, the links of wliirh consist of

1, Eobert Cecil caii of Salisbury, Lord Treasurer ;

2, Prince Henry; o, Sir Thomas Overbury ; 4, Lord
Harrington ; 5, his son ; and G, the Earl of Northampton ;
I proceed to endeavour to discover what light has been
thrown upon this matter by papers not accessible to his-
torical inquirers till more than two centuries after the
author of 'Truth brought to Light by Time' wrote his
history.^ I will first state what is known of the deaths
of the persons above mentioned, in the order of time in
which those deaths occurred.

Eobert Cecil — created by King James Baron Cecil,
Viscount Cranbourne, and Earl of Salisbury — was the
second son of William Cecil, created Lord Burleii^h by
Queen Elizabeth, under whom he held office for forty
years, first as Secretary of State and then as Lord Treasurer.
Whatever difference of opinion may exist respecting the
services of the Cecils to England, there can be none res-
pecting their services to themselves. Of Lord Burleigh
it has been said by Lord Macaulay that ' he never deserted
his friends till it was very inconvenient to stand by them ;
was an excellent Protestant when it was not very advan-
tageous to be a Papist ; recommended a tolerant policy to
his mistress as strongly as he could recommend it without
hazarding her f\ivour ; never put to the rack any person
from whom it did not seem probable that useful information

1 The title of the work referred to — Truth brought to Light by Timo—
was probably suggested by the date of publication, 1651, nearly forty years
after the events related ; but there is internal evidence that tlie work was
written Ion? before 1G51. It is observable that much of what is called the
Secret History of King James's reign, whether written then or not, was pub-
lished during the Commonwealth. Indeed it was only the result of the
battles of Marston Moor and Naseby that decided that kings were mortal
men, and like other mortal men might be called to account for their deeds.

B B 2


niiolit be derived ; and was so moderate in liis desires that
lie left only three hundred disthict landed estates, though
he miiiht, as his honest servant assures us, have left much
more, if he Avould have taken money out of the Exche-
quer for his own use as many Treasurers have done.' ^

The difference between the reign of Elizabeth and that
of her successor James I. is marked by this among many
other things, that of the statesmen who surrounded her
throne, only the one above described, William Cecil Lord
Burleigh, her Lord Treasurer, Avas made a peer ; and he
only obtained the lowest rank in the peerage. Neither
did he aspire to assume any great old historical title,
which might provoke invidious comparisons. In this, as
well as in one or two other matters, there was a strongly
marked difference between Lord Burleigh and his son
Eobert, who had however been educated w4th the utmost
care, had been early initiated in diplomacy and court
intrigue, and in these became perhaps more able and
adroit than his father had been. When the earldom of
Salisbury, which had been held by the Montacutes, the
riantaf^enets, and the Nevills, was conferred on Eobert
Cecil, whose name was unknown in the rolls of England's
ancient nobility, the contrast might force itself upon the
minds of the Eng;lishmen of that time between warrior
nobles clad in mail who could raise armies and give battle
to kings far more powerful than the Stuart Solomon, and
a man of feeble health and deformed body who pursued
his ends more after the manner of Lewis XL's barber
Oliver than of Warwick the King-maker.

Eobert Cecil followed the example of his prudent father
in paying due attention to his own interest. The old

^ Lord Macaulay's Essay on Lurleigli and liia Times.


palace and manor of Ilatfield were made over to liim in
exchange for Theobalds, in the parish of Cheshunt, soon
after the accession of James I., who preferred Theobalds
from its proximity to Enfield Chase, which was liis
favourite hunting-ground ; and who never scrupled to
dilapidate the Crown property in the gratification of any
of his appetites. Sir Walter lialeigh affirms that the
Crown was grossly overreached in this exchange by
the device of Eobert Cecil, who took advantage of
his office of Treasurer to value what he received or
bought from the Crown at the old rent, while he valued
what he gave in exchange at the improved rent. ' He
would never,' says Ealeigh, ' admit any piece of a good
manor to pass till he himself had bouglit, and then the
remaining flowers of the Crown were culled out. Now
had the Treasurer suffered the king's lands to have
been raised, how could his lordship have made choice of
the old rents, as well in that book of my lord Aubigne,
as m exchange of Theobalds^ for which he took Haf/ield,
which the greatest subject or favourite of Queen Elizabeth
had never durst have named unto her by way of gift or
exchange. Nay, my lord, so many other goodly manors
have passed from his Majesty, as the very heart of the
kiiiodom inourneth to remember it.' ^ Ealeif:^h's statement
is supported by La Boderie, the French ambassador,
who writes under date June 3, 1G07, that the Earl of
Salisbury had made an exchange of Theobalds for a much
better estate, and two hundred thousand francs to build
another house.^ Though Weldon's authority standing

' The Prerogative of rarliaments, Birch's edition of Raleigh's "Works,
vol. i. p. 201.

" Ambassacles de M, de la Eoderie, torn. ii. p. £oO. Under date Oct. 11,


alone might uot be conclusive, it may be quoted in con-
firmation of those given above. ' Salisbury had one trick
to get the kernel, and leave the Scots but the shell, yet
cast all the envy on them. He would make them buy
books of fee-farms, some one hundred pounds per annum,
some one hundred marks, and he would compound with
them for a thousand pound ; which they w^ere willing to
embrace, because they were sure to have them pass with-
out any control or charge, and one thousand pound
appeared to them that never saw ten pounds before an in-
exhaustible treasure. Then would Salisbury fill up this
book with such prime land as should be worth ten or
twenty thousand pound, which was easy for him being
Treasurer so to do ; and by this means Salisbury
enriched himself infinitely, yet cast the envy upon the
Scots, in w^hose names these books appeared.'^ In another
place Sir Anthony says, ' in the exchange of Theobalds
for Hatfield Sahsbury made such an advantage that he
sold his house for fifty years' purchase.' - Salisbury availed
himself of this exchange to enclose Hatfield Chase, a very
unpopular act so near London, Weldon goes on to say :
' He fleeted ofi" the cream of the king's manors in many
counties, and made choice of the most in the remotest
counties, only built his nest at Hatfield. . . And to fit the
king's liumour as well as to serve his own ends and
satisfy his revenge upon some neighbour gentlemen tiiat
formerly would not sell him some convenient parcels of

1G03, M. de la Boderie writes respecting a passport from tlie King of
France for COO tons of stone of Caen for the Lord High Treasurer's (Earl of
Salisbury's) buildings. — Tom. iv. p. 28. See further information (which if
true presents a dark picture not only of the Court of James but of that of
Elizabeth) in La Boderie's Dispatches, torn. iv. p. 100.

1 Weldon, p. CO, edition IGul. ^ Ihid. p. 51.


lands neiglil)Ouring on Theol^alds, lie puts tlie king on en-
larging the park, walling and storing it with red deer.' ^

The reason for the opinion of those who said that Cecil
was poisoned, ' not without the privity of Carr,' is given
in a story told both by Osborne and by the author of' Truth
brought to Light.' This story is illustrative at once of the
character of King James, who, according to Weldon, ' was
very hberal of what he had not in his own gripe, and
would rather part with 100/. he never had in his keeping
than one twenty-shilling piece within his own custody,' '^
and of Cecil's adroitness in dealing with it. Tlie king
having on one occasion given CaiT an order for the sum
of twenty thousand pounds upon the Lord Treasurer, the
latter took the following course to evade the payment of
so large a sum. Ilaving told out five thousand pounds, he
laid it in a passage gallery in several papers, and invited
the king to breakfast, bringing him through that gallery.
The king demanded whose money that was. Cecil
answered that is was but the fourth part of that which his
Majesty had given to Sir Kobert Carr, whereupon the king
tlirew himself upon the heap of money, and scratching
out two or three hundred pounds, swore Carr should have
no more.^ Osborne adds that Cecil, not caring to incense
the minion too far, gave him the moiety of the sum
originally mentioned in the King's order.'*

^ Weldon, p. 52.

* Sir Anthony Weldons's cliaracter of King James, given at the end of his
Court of King James. This will be found at the beginning of vcl. ii. of the
compilation, anonymous, but known to be edited by Sir "\V. Scott, entitled
Secret History of the Court of James the First, 2 vols. 8vo. : Edinburgh, 1811.

^ Osborne's Traditional Memoirs, c. xxix.

* Ibid. The author of Truth brought to Light says tliat the king retired
from his former grant, and wished Sir IJobert Carr to satisfy himself with
the fourth part, that is, the five thousand pounds placed in the gallery. —
Truth brotiyht to Li<jJit, p. 11; and see Somerss Tracts, vol. ii. r. 270.


The author of ' Truth brought to Light ' concludes his
version of this story in these words : ' He [Carr] being
thus crossed in his expectancies, harboured in his heart
then a liope of revenge, which after happened, as was
suspected, but it was not certain, therefore I omit it.'

Cecil died on May 24, 1612, in the 51st year of his tige,
at St. Margaret's, near Marlborough, on his way from
Bath. Sir Walter Scott says, in his note to the above
cited passage of 'Truth brought to Light,' 'His deatli
was owing to a tertian ague, with a complication of
dropsy and scurvy. But the calumnious ascribed it to
the consequences of debauchery, and the suspicious
to poison.' ^

Those modern writers who, like Hume, save themselves
all the trouble of research by answering, with a sneer at
the credulity of an age that believed in witchchraft and
magic, all the stories which ascribed the deaths of princes
and ministers to poison, only show thereby their igno-
rance of the age of which they profess to write the
history. It will be shown that, in the opinion of those
who have applied to the question the practised skill of
thoroughly trained lawyers, the most probable cause of
the death of Sir Thomas Overbury was the poisoned
clyster applied by the French apothecary Lobell, who
was acting under the written prescriptions (of which he
delivered twenty-eight leaves or pieces of paper to the
hands of the Chief Justice) of the French physician to the
king. Dr. May erne ; and that the next probable cause
was the constant repetition, during a long space of time,
of arsenic or other drugs, in small doses, scientifically ad-

^ Somers's Tracts, vol. ii. p. 270, note by Sir Walter Scott ; and see Sir
Simonds D'Ewes'a Autobiography, &c. vol. i.pp. 50,51, andvol.ii. pp. 334,335.


ministered. It will ul^o be shown that everything re-
lating to the illness and death of Prince Henry, in Dr.
Mayerne's ' Ephemerides ' or ' Diaries of Cases,' has been
torn out of the volume to which it belonged. In the face of
such evidence as this, it can hardly be considered out of
the bounds of probability that though Robert Cecil earl
of Salisbury may have been suffering from both dropsy
and scurvy in the spring of 1012, and though he might
never have altogether recovered from those diseases, his
death within two months after he came under the
chemical operations of Dr. Theodore Mayerne may have
been due to Somerset's and Northampton's psychological
and moral operations upon Mayerne. In Mayerne's
' Ephemerides ' for 1012,^ the case of Cecil commences at
folio 207—13 Martii 1012— and is continued to foho 229.
Each folio means two pages. The case is thus generally
described by the physician : — ' Dominus Thesaurarius de
Salisbury — Hydropicus, Scorbuticus — ubi fusius reccn-
sentur remedia varia pro Hydropicis, historio3 et methodi.'
As it was not judged necessary to tear out these leaves of
the doctor's ' Ephemerides,' it is not to be expected that
they should contain any confirmation of the suspicion of
poison. Neither, however, does the absence of such con-
lirmation prove, in the face of such evidence as exists
against Mayerne, that Mayerne did not poison Salisbury.
Whether James had or not, Nortliampton and Somerset
had reasons so weighty for getting rid of Salisbury, that
they would offer a fee proportionally weighty for his

Besides the personal revenge of Carr towards Cecil for
crossing him in his plunder of the public treasury, as

1 Sloane MSS. 2CG3, British Museum.


above described, there were other reasons of considerable
weight for the supposition tliat since, as will be shown,
there was undoubtedly a plot to take off the principal
members of the Protestant party, not as before by gun-
powder, but by poison, Cecil was the lirst victim to this
plot, as Prince Henry was the second. Cecil is des-
cribed by contemporaries such as Sir Simonds D'Ewes,
wdio disapproved of the profligacy of his private life, as a
man, ' that howsoever he miglit be an ill Christian, yet
was a good statesman and no ill member of the common-
wealth.' ^ And another contemporary writer describes
Inm as ' a good statesman, the only support of the Pro-
testant faction^ the discloser of treasons, and the only
Mercury of our times.' ^

By the death of Cecil the whole power of the govern-
ment fell into the hands of the Eoman Catholic family of
Howard. Thomas Howard, Lord Chamberlain and earl
of Suffolk, succeeded Cecil as Lord Treasurer ; and it may
be concluded that he, partly through his daughter
Frances Howard, joartly through his uncle Henry Howard
earl of Northampton, a man of great skill in the court
arts of that time, exercised considerable influence on such
a mind, neither powerful nor cultivated, as that of the
favourite Eobert Carr, who at that time was all-powerful
witli tlie king. Moreover, while Thomas Howard earl
of Suffolk, was the nephew of Henry How^ard earl of
Northampton, Thomas Howard earl of Arundel, the
grandson and heir of the unfortunate Duke of Norfolk
who had been beheaded in 1572, w\as the nephew of
Thomas Howard carl of Suffolk. Charles Howard, a

* Sir Simond D'Ewes's Autobiography, vol. i. p. 50 : London, 1845.
^ Truth brought to Light, chap. vi. : London, 1U->1.

riilXCE HEXRY. 379

grandson of tlie second JJiike of Xorfolk, of the family of
Howard, was also at this time earl of Notthigham.
Thus, altliough the dukedom of Norfolk, wliich had
been forfeited in 1572, Avas not yet revived, there were
at this time four earls of the family of Howard, wliich
in some measure might seem to have become almost as
powerful as the fomil}^ of Nevill had been about 150
years before. But it was a very difl'erent sort of power,
and the difference indicates the vast chanije that had
taken place smce ' the last of the barons,' Eichard Nevill,
earl of Warwick and Salisbury, ' Warwick the King-
maker,' fell at Barnet. The Nevills made revolutions
and made and unmade kings by their own swords and
those of their warlike vassals. They retained a large
portion of the warlike and independent spirit which
had animated the De Montforts, the Bigods, and tlie
Hotspurs ; and their proceedings were directed by no
small portion of military genius. The Howards of the
beginning of the seventeenth centur}-, who had succeeded
to some of the titles and honours of the Bigods, attempted
to make a revolution not by the sword and by military
genius, but by arsenic and by the genius of Dr. Theodore

We now proceed to relate what can be ascertained
respecting the death of Prince Henry, Avhich took place
just six months after that of Cecil earl of Salisbury.

Sir Charles Cornwallis, Treasurer of Prince Henry's
Household, informs us that one of Prince Henry's habits
was frequent eating of abundance of grapes ; ' ^ a circum-
stance which also appears from some of Sir Edward
Coke's memoranda, and from his examination of the wife

' Somers's Tracts, vol. ii. p. 2^3.

380 i:ssAYS ox historical truth.

of a confectioner of liigli Holbom, taken November 28,
1615. This witness, who said she was a Catliohc, stated
that the Earl of Arundel's steward came about one of the
clock in the morning, on May day 1G12 to her house, and
called her up to provide a banquet for Prince Henry and
liis brother, ' both of them going .a Maying to Highgate
with many others.' ' And the banquet was all of dried
fruit and rough candied ; and was set on the table about

Online LibraryAndrew BissetEssays on historical truth → online text (page 29 of 40)