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cious about his dignity, should regard a son (real or
nominal) who overawed him with any very vehement
affection. The prince's warlike propensities, too, must
have been a source of constant irritation and annoyance
to James, as being in such direct opposition to all his
own tastes and habits.

' This statement is confirmed by Osborne, -who says that ' the king, though
he would not deny anytliing he plainly desired, yet it appeared rather the
result of fear than love.' — Trad. Mcni. of King James, c. xxxviii.

"^ Birch's edition of Sir Walter Raleigh's "Works, vol. i. pp. cxri. cxvii.

* It came out in the course of the examinations taken by Sir E. Coke in
connection with the murder of Sir T. Overbury, ' that Northampton snid
the prince, if ever he came to reign, would prove a tyrant." — >'State Trials,
vol. ii. p. 9G5.

394 JiSSAYS o^' historical truth.

But the evidence goes farther than this. In addition
to the direct testimony of Bacon/ that the Lord Chief
Justice, Sir Edward Coke, was desirous of bringing
forward on the trial for the murder of Overbury, the
question of Prince Henry's death ; Coke, on the arraign-
ment of Sir Thomas Monson, who was accused as an
accessory in Overbury's murder, made use of the following
remarkable expressions : ' For other things, I dare not
discover secrets ; but though there was no house
searched, yet such letters were produced which make
our dehverance as great as any that happened to the
children of Israel.' ^ And Bacon, in his celebrated ex-
postulation with Sir Edward Coke, says : — ' This best
judgments think ; though you never used such speeches
as are fathered upon you, yet you might well have done
it, and but rightly ; for this crime was second to none hut
the powder jylot ; ^ that would have blown up all at one
blow, a merciful cruelty ; this would have done the same
by degrees, a lingering but a sure way ; one might by
one be culled out, till all opposers had been removed.
Besides, that other plot was scandalous to Eome, making
popery odious in the sight of the whole world ; this hath
been scandalous to the truth of the whole gospel ; and
since the first nullity to this instant, when justice hath
her hands bound, the devil could not have invented a
more mischievous practice to our state and church than

J State Trials, vol. ii. pp. 9G2 and 965. ^ ji^^^ y^i [i p_ 949.

' It is a fact of great significance that the Lord Chief Justice Coke and
the Attorney-General Bacon, use language as strong as, and in some instances
identical with, the language of the suppressed examinations. In a paper
in Sir E. Coke's handwriting published by Mr. Amos from the original in
the State| Paper Office, Franklyn says : * I think, next to the Gunpowder
Treason, there was never such a plot as this is.' — Amos^ p. 228.


tliis hatli been, is, and is like to be. God avert the evil.' ^
And in his heads of the course he meant to take on
Somerset's trial. Bacon says : ' 1 sliall also give in evi-
dence, in this place, the slight account of that letter
which was brought to Somerset by A.shton, being found
in the fields soon after the late prince's death, and was
directed to Antwerp, containing these words, ' that the
first branch was cut from the tree, and that he should,
ere long, send happier and joyfuller news.' ^ Bacon, in
the same paper, thus proceeds : ' And for the rest of
that kind, as to speak of that particular, that Mrs. Turner
did at Whitehall show to Franklin the man, who, as she
said, poisoned the prince, which, he says, was a physician
with a red beard. ^ . . , Tliat Somerset with others
would have preferred Lowbell the apothecary to Prince
Charles. . . . That the countess [of Somerset] told
Trankhn, that when the queen died, Somerset should liavc
Somerset House. That Northampton said, the prince, if
ever he came to reign, w^ould prove a tyrant. That
Franklin was moved by the countess to go to tlie
Palsgrave, and should be furnished with money.' *

Now the postils '" of the kin"; to these sujir^ested

^ Bacon's Works, Montaf;:u's edition, vol. vii. pp. 300, 301.

' Birch's 4to. edition of Bacon's Works, vol. iii. p. 4i)3, et seq. State
Trials, vol. ii, pp. 9G4, 9G5.

^ See ant. p. 3G8, the description of Mayerne's portrait. Mrs. Turner, fiom
her confidential intimacy with Lady Frances Howard, knew more than any
of the others who were executed for Overliury's murder ; and it was from
her that Franklin and Weston and others received information which made
Chief Justice Coke give considerable weight to their statements made in
their various examinations.

* Birch's 4to. edition of Bacon's Works, vol. iii. p. 493, et seq. ; State
Trials, vol. ii. pp. 904, 9G5. See also Amos, The Great Oyer of Poisoning,
pp. 44.5-447.

* That this is the proper word is evident from the derivation from the
Latin postilla, thougli the French apustille would seem to have led to the

39G ussAYS oy historical truth.

charges of Bacon form a commentary which lets in some
hfrht upon the words in the passage just quoted from
Bacon's expostulation with Coke, ' since the first nullity
to this instant, when justice hath her hands bound.' For
though we have the authority of Coke the lord chief
justice, and Bacon the attorney-general, tliat there had
been a plot or conspiracy ' second to none but the
powder plot,' only that it was to be carried out or
executed by arsenic and other poisons, and not by
o-unpowder, yet King James in his postills to Bacon abso-
lutely forbids the momentous subjects indicated in the
above-cited Av-ords of Bacon to be inquired into or even
whispered. What was the exact nature of the plot
cannot now be known with any degree of certainty. But
the evidence indicates that it went so far as the removal
by poison, not oniy of Prince Henry, but of Prince
Charles and the Princess Elizabeth, and of all who might
be opposed to such a course — such as Cecil, the earl of
Salisbury, and Lord Treasurer ; and the friends of Prince
Henry, as Lord Harrington and his son.

The following passage in Sir Simonds D'Ewes's auto-
biography throws further light on this dark business : —
' He [Prince Henry] had formerly expressed his distaste
against Henry earl of Northampton, second son of
Henry Howard earl of Surrey, and disdained there
should be any the least motion of a marriage between
Theophilus Lord Howard of Walden, the eldest son of
Thomas earl of Suffolk, and the Princess Elizabeth his

English apostyle. There is a passage of Bacon himself quoted by Johnson
under the word ' To postil, to gloss, to illustrate with marginal notes,' which
exemplifies the usage of the word. ' I have seen a book of account of
Empson's, that had the king's hand almost to every leaf by way of signing,
and was in some ^\&cgb postilkd in the margin with the king's hand.'


sister. He was a prinro rathor afldirtod to martial
studies and exercises than to gofi", tennis, or other boys'
play ; a true lover of the English nation, and a sound
Protestant, abhorring not only the idolatry, superstition,
and bloody ])ersecutions of the Eomish synagogue, but
being free also from the Lutheran leaven. He esteemed
not buffoons and parasites, nor vain swearers and atheists,
but had learned and godly men, such as were John
Lord Harrington of Exton, and others, for the dear
companions of his life ; so as had not our sins caused
God to take from us so peerless a ])rince, it was very
likely that popery would have been well purged out of
Great Britain and Ireland by his care.' ^ Sir Anthony
Weldon has also recorded, in terms somewhat similar to
those here used by D'Ewes, Prince Henry's dislike of the
Howard family, and has indeed used language implying
that if they did not destroy him, he would destroy them.^
If there was any good ground for believing that the
language which Weldon represents Prince Henry as
usino; concernino; the Howard fjimily came to the
knowledge of Northampton and Suffolk, they Avould
have had strong reasons for taking measures for the
prince's destruction. D'Ewes also alludes, but very
cautiously, to the story of Prince Henry's having been
poisoned with grapes. ' It is not improbable but that he
might overheat and distemper himself in some of those
sports and recreations he used in his company ; but the
strength of his constitution and the viwur of his youth

^ Sir Simonds D'Ewes's Autobioofraphy and Correspondence, vol. i.
p. 48, printed from the Ilarleian MSS. in the Britisli Museum : London,
Bentley, 184.5.

■^ Weldon, p. 8o.


might have overcome that, had he not tasted of some
grapes as he played at tennis, supposed to have been
poisoned.' ^

D'Ewes may be supposed here to set down in his
diary merely a report he had heard, without having any
special authority for such report. But Mrs. Turner had
better means of obtaining accurate information on this
point ; and, in her conference with Dr. Whiting on
November 11, 1615, she says 'She heard say that the
prince was poisoned at Woodstock with a bunch of
grapes.' ^

There is little doubt that Mrs. Turner could have
told more ; for did she not show to Franklyn at White-
hall the physician with the red beard who poisoned the
prince ?

In the same conference between Dr. Whiting and Mrs.
Turner, in Sir E. Coke's handwriting, and indorsed by him
'Mrs. Turner's confession after judgment, November 11,'
Mrs. Turner said : —

' " If any were in it that I know, it was tlie Lord Privy
Seal " [the Earl of Northampton]. Wliereupon the doctor
[Whiting] said, " But you know some were in it, there-
fore," &c. ; to whom she said, " Conclude what you will."
And being demanded whether the earl [of Northampton]
was poisoned, or that he did poison himself, as the world
talked, she said, " I cannot tell that, but he could die
when he list. All the letters that came from the Lord

' D'Ewes's Autobiography, vol. i. p. 47.

^ The whole of the paper in which these words occur, which paper is in
the handwriting of Sir E. Coke, was published by Mr. Amos from the MS.
in the State Paper Office.— See The Great Oyer of roimninfl, pp. 219-222.
The paper \» endorsed by Lord Coke ' Mrs. Turner's Confession after Judg-
ment, 11th November,'


of Somerset to the lady came in the packet of tlie Earl
of Northampton, and from liini slie liad them.

• ••••• •

' She vehemently exclaimed against the court. " the
court, the court ! ... it is so wicked a jjlace, as I wonder
the eartli did not open and swallow it up. Mr. Sheriff,
put none of your children thither." ' ^

At the end of the paper in Coke's hand, from which
these passages are extracted, there are these words : —

' Written out of Dr. Whiting's notes, instantly written
with his own hand. Edav. Coke.'

In reference to Mrs. Turner's expressions respecting
the Earl of Northampton, it may be observed that the
part taken by Northampton in the murder of Overbury
gives strong support to the opinion expressed both by
Coke and Bacon ; and to the assertions of the witnesses
examined by Coke, and conferred with by Whiting and
others, that a plot existed much more extensive than the
murder of Overbury, which was only one item of it, the
murder of Prince Henry being another. It is improbable
that a man of Northampton's rank, wealth, and abilities,
should have involved liiuLseU" in the murder of Overbury
merely to gratify the vindictive passions of a daughter of
his nephew the Earl of Suffolk.

The place which so competent a judge as Sir Walter
Ealeigh has assigned to this Earl of Northampton by the
side of two such men as tlie two cousins, Eobcrt Cecil
earl of Salisbury, and Sir Francis Bacon, proves that he
was really a remarkable man, something more than a
very learned and studious nobleman, something more than

' Ibid.


Bishop Godwin called him, ' the learnedest man among the
nobihty, andthe most noble among the learned.' Sir Walter
Ealeigh's saymg implies much more, if he said, or, as has
been reported, used to say, that the Earl of Salisbury was a
good orator but a bad writer ; the Earl of Northampton
a good writer but a bad orator ; but that Sir Francis
Bacon excelled both as an orator and a writer.

Henry Howard, created Earl of Northampton in 1604
by King James, very soon after his accession to the crown
of England, was the second son of the unfortunate and
accomplished Earl of Surrey, distinguished both as a
soldier and a poet, who was the eldest son of Thomas
Howard, second Duke of Norfolk of the family of
Howard, and who never succeeded to the dukedom or
the other titles of his father — though he is generally styled
Earl of Surrey — having been beheaded by Henry VIH.
in 1547. Henry's elder brother, Thomas Howard, who
became Duke of Norfolk in 1554 on the death of his
grandfather, and was beheaded in 1572 by Queen Eliza-
beth, was one of the many victims of Eobert Dudley
earl of Leicester, who employed Candish, one of his
creatures, to inveigle the weak and unfortunate Duke of
Norfolk into the toils which his artifice had prepared for
him in the matter of Mary Queen of Scots, The
treacherous artifice of Leicester is shown in the mode by
which he worked upon his victim's vanity, telling him
he could not see how there could be a good end to the
Queen of Scots' matter unless she should marry some
Englishman, adding, ' and, to be plain with you, I know
no man so ht as yourself ; ' and artfully employing
Candish to report favourably to the duke of the Queen
of Scots, and to declare that '' he had been so bold with

riilXCE HENRY. 401

her tliat lie liad charged her witli all that was objected
airainst her, and foiiiid her answers sufficient to ovcrthrrjw
her enemies' allegations.' ^ Thomas Howard, a younger
son of the Duke of Norfolk, who suffered death for liis
unfortunate correspondence with Mary Queen of Scots,
a nephew of Henry Howard eai-1 of Northampton, and
the father of Frances Howard, liist Countess of Essex,
and afterwards Countess of Somerset, was created Earl of
Suffolk July 21, 1G()3, only a few months after the ac-
cession of King James, who showed a disposition to favour
the near relatives of that Duke of Norfolk wlio had
suffered on account of his mother ; for Henry Howard
was not only made Earl of Northampton, but Lord Privy
Seal, warden of the Cinque Ports, and constable of Dover
Castle ; and Thomas Howard, besides being created Earl
of Suffolk, was made Lord Chamberlain, and afterwards,
on the death of Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, Lord High
Treasurer. But King James's favour would seem to have
had a strange effect upon them. For if the family of
Howard had suffered the loss of life, and estates, and
honours under the Tudors, they suffered the loss of
honour^ which is a somewhat different commodity from
honours^ under the Stuarts.

Whether it arose from his havinfif inherited some larcre
estates, or from the revenues of those various high offices
he held under the crown, the wealth of the Earl of
Northampton was reckoned to be very great,^ and far
beyond his necessities, for he died unmarried. He built

^ See Jardine's Criminal Trials, vol. i. pp. 177, 178, and note.

'^ Besides the offices above mentioned it appears, from the folloTvinf>- pas-
sage in the letter he wrote to the Earl of Somerset just before his death, that
he had otlier large sources of revenue from the Crown : — • If I die before
Midsummer, the farms of the Irish customs are not to paj- me, though it be



the lioiise at the Channg Cross end of the Strand, wliicli
still remains, under the name of Northumberland House,
as a rehc of past times. It was first called Northampton
House, then Suffolk House, having passed to Northampton's
nephew, the Earl of Suffolk.^ ' If the generally received
opinions,' observes Mr. Amos, ' concerning the murder of
Sir T. Overbury are true, it was most prol^ably in this
edifice, which forms a remarkable constituent in our
earliest impressions derived from the London streets, that
the imprisonment and poisoning of Sir T. Overbury were

Historical inquirers passing in review the many advan-
tages of Northampton — great wealth, high rank, high
ofiice, and very considerable abilities — have been struck
with the apparent inconsistency of his conduct in engaging
himself in such transactions as the divorce of the Countess
of Essex and the murder of Sir Thomas Overbmy.
Mr. Amos ^ mentions a learned and philosophical work of
the Earl of Northampton, of which the object was to ex-
pose the vulgar errors connected with prognostications
of future events by dreams, oracles, astrology, and other
delusive means. And it would seem from the expression of
Mrs. Turner, quoted in a former page, who, when asked
whether Northampton was poisoned or poisoned himself

"but one day before, whicli were a great wound to my fortune.' This letter is
published in j\[r. Amos's valuable volume entitled The Great Oyer of Poison-
ing, The Trial of the Earl of Somerset, &c., p. 2.3L'.

1 See Osborne's Trad. Mem. of King James, c. 5 ; and Sir Walter Scott's
extract from Lloyd's Worthies, p. 780, in Secret Hist, of the Court of King
James, vol. i. p. 15.3. See also the tract printed from the Harleian MSS.
under the title of Secret History of the Reign of King James I. and the
same as Truth brought to Light in D'Ewes's Autobiography and Corres-
pondence, vol. ii. p. •'iOS.

* Amos, The Great Oyer of Poisoning, p. 43. ^ Ihicl. pp. 43, 44.

PlilAXE JIEMiV. 403

ns the world talked, answered, ' I cannot tell that, but
he could die when he list,' that she judging probably from
his repute for learning and his studious habits, thought
him a sort of wizard; an opinion which, if adopted by
his Majesty, who was much addicted to tlie burning of
witches, mif=^ht have ])ut him in damrer of bcin^i; burnt for
a wizard. Besides the published work above mentioned,
the Harleian, Bodleian, and Cottonian collections con-
tain several manuscripts of this Earl of Northampton,
consisting of speeches, small treatises, poems, devotional
works, and prayers. ' A letter to the Archbishop of
Canterbury,' says Mr. Amos,^ ' accompanies one collection
of prayers, wherein the Earl writes " that he had tasted,
by experience of private devotional exercises for the space
of many years, what comforts they work in a laithful soul."
The earl's piety and charity have been lauded on account
of his having erected and endowed three hospitals, one at
Greenwich, another at Clare, in Shropshire, and another
at Castle Eising, in Norfolk. It is a singular circumstance in
the history of mankind, that a person of such exalted rank
and station, so eminently distinguished for learning and
abilities, so respected and admired during his life, so
benevolent in the outward manifestations at least of charity,
so pious in the language at least of prayer and holy medi-
tation, should now be generally represented by historians
as a principal agent in a murder accompanied with circum-
stances of consummate craft and the deepest malignity.'

But the singularity and inconsistency are not so apparent
when the case is more minutely examined. For, though
his learning and abilities may be admitted, the greater
number of contemporary historians are very far from re-

* Amos, The Groat Oyer of Poisoning, p. 44.
V V '2


presenting him as ' respected and admired during his Hfe/
Against the writer of 'Anhcus Coquinariee,' and the
autlior of Samiderson or Sanderson's ' History of James I.,'
who are the same person and by no means a trust-
worthy authority, are to be placed Wilson, Weldon, Sir
Simonds D'Ewes, and the author of ' Truth brought to
Light.' Sir Simonds D'Ewes's opinion of Northampton
may be concluded to have been very unfavourable from
the passage quoted in a former page in reference to Prince
Henry's ' distaste against Henry earl of Northampton/ and
his esteem for 'learned and godly men, such as Lord
Harrington, and not for buffoons and parasites, nor vain
swearers and atheists.' Sir Anthony Weldon, in his strong
and coarse but characteristic style of drawing, describes
Northampton as a great clerk, yet not a wise man, but
the cerossest flatterer of the world ; ' ^ as never lovincr his
nephew the Earl of Suffolk ' but from teeth outwards,'
after the loss of the Treasurer's place, which was given to
Suffolk and not to him upon the death of Cecil.^ Ac-
cording to Wilson, Northampton was ' a known Papist,
bred up so from his infancy, yet then converted, as he pre-
tended, by the King, being the closest way to work his
own ends.' ^

But the writer who throws most light on the expression
of Mrs. Turner, ' if any were in the plot that I know, it was
the Lord Privy Seal,' is the author of ' Truth brought to
Light,' who says : ' Henry Howard, continuing a Papist
from his infancy even unto this time, being famous for his

1 This account agrees with that of Beaumont, the French ambassador, -who
describes him as one of the greatest flatterers and calumniators that ever


2 Weldon's Court of King James, p. 14: London, 1651.

3 Arthur Wilson's Life and IJcign of King James L, folio, lGo3, p. 3,


learning, having been trained up a long time in Camljridge,
by the persuasion of the King changeth his religion in
outward appearance, and tu the intent to reap unto him-
self new honours, became a Protestant, from which cau^e
he was created Earl of Northampton, and had the king's
favours bountifully bestowed upon him ; first the ofHce of
Privy Seal, then the wardenship of the Cinque Ports, and
lastly the refusal ^ of being Lord Treasurer. This man was
of a subtle and fine wit, of a good proportion, excellent in
outward courtesy, famous for secret information and for
cunning ihitteries, and by reason of these qualities became
a fit man for the conditions of these times, and was sus-
pected to be scarce true to his sovereign, but rather en-
deavouring, by some secret ways and means, to set and
broach new plots for to procure innovation. . . The
Papists being a strong faction, and so great a man being
their favourer, grew into great malice.' ''^. . . ' In this man
[Sir T. Overbury] may we see the misery of such as fall
into the hands of Popish Catholics, for by Northampton's
means was this strictness shown towards him.'^

There are two letters of Northampton to the Lieutenant
of the Tower in reference to the disposal of Sir Thomas
Overbury 's body, which afford conclusive evidence of
Northampton's hatred not only to Overbury but to the
Protestant party. Both these letters are without date.

1 This, it will be observed, differs from Sir A. Weldon's account, and is
probably the more correct statement.

'^ Truth brought to Light, &c. : London, 1G51, chap. '?,.

^ Ibid. chap. '2(j. The expression ' Popisli Catholics ' requires some ex-
planation. La 15oderie, the French ambassador in England from IGOG to
iGll, notices a distinction which at that time seemed to be made in England
between Catholics and rapids, Catholics being ' those who only seek the
exercise of their religion under the obedience of the Prince,' Papists being
'those who wish to spread some doctrine to his prejudice in favour of tho
Vo^pe^ — Amhassades de M. de la Bodeiie en Anf/htcrre, toni. i. p. 1(U.


In the first lie says, ' If tlie knave's body be foul, bury it
presently ; I'll stand between you and harm ; but if it will
abide the view, send for Lidcott,^ and let him see it, to
satisfy the damned crew. When you come to me, bring
me this letter again yourself with you, or else burn it.

' Northampton.' ^

In the second letter Northampton uses these words : —

' Let me entreat you to call Lidcote and three or four
friends, if so many come, to view the body, if they have
not already done it ; and so soon as it is viewed, without
staying the coming of a messenger from the court, in any
case see him interred in the body of the chapel witliinthe
Tower instantly.

' If they have viewed, then bury it by and by ; for it it
time, considering the humors of that damned crew, that
only desire means to move pity and raise scandals. Let
no man's instance cause you to make stay in any case, and
bring me these letters when I next see you.

' Fail not a jot herein, as you love your friends ; nor
after Lidcote and his friends have viewed, stay one
minute, but let the priest be ready, and if Lidcote be not
i^^here, send for him speedily, pretending that the body

Online LibraryAndrew BissetEssays on historical truth → online text (page 31 of 40)