Edward Barrington De Fonblanque.

Annals of the house of Percy, from the conquest to the opening of the nineteenth century (Volume v.2 pt.1) online

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" I think the Erie hath answered trewthfully. He
doth greatlye excuse my Lord of Westmoreland, and
sayeth plainlye that they could never gett howld of hym
tyll the last owre, and that by procurement of hys wyfe
• • . . who was more vehement thereyn than any other.
I assure your Majestye / dyd never tJiynke hym so
sympell as now I fynde hym, and yf his confessyon ys
trew, he was greatlye urged to yt by others ; and yett
yn this whole matter he excusyth Westmoreland more
than hymselfe" z

Sir Valentine Browne, in whose house the Earl had

m ' As before stated the Earl attributed a large share in rebellion to the
influence of the Countess of Westmoreland ; but it is difficult to under-
stand upon what grounds Lord Hunsdon asserts him to have implicated
nis own wife, for throughout his depositions and his correspondence not
one word capable of bearing such a construction can be found.

Hunsdon to Burghley, 12th Iune, 1572, Original State Papers.
3 //,,;/.

VOL. ii. II5 12


a.d. been lodged on his first arrival at Berwick, says that he

I52 _l! 572 was "nothing altered from his old opynions (the

Catholic faith), which he wolde persuade to be taken

for the cawse of the rebellion," and Hunsdon reports

him as " more than ever obstinate in relygion."

Indeed, from his reply to one of the interrogatories, it
would appear that so far from being disposed to recant
he gloried in the profession of his attachment to the
proscribed faith, declaring that their first object in as-
sembling was " for the reformacion of relygion, and for
the preservation of the second person, the Queen of
Scotts, whom we accompted by God's lawe and man's
lawe, to be right heire if w r ant should be of issue of the
Queen's Majestie's body; which two cawses I made full
accompt was greatlye favoured by the most part of noble-
men within this realme, especially for God's true religion.
I was in hope (although I had little for me) both the
Erie of Leycester and my lorde Burleigh had beene
blesst with some godly inspiracion by this tyme of the
daye to discern cheese from chalke ; the matters being so
evidently discoussed by the learned divines of thys our
tyme, and they that had swaye about the prince, and
especyally my Lord of Burleigh, who is indued with so
syngular a judgment. And now finding myself deceved
of that expectacion, I can noe more doe but shall praye
faythefully to Almyghtie God to indue Her Highnes and
them with His grace, that they may kno we "hym and feare
hym aright." '

Lord Hunsdon, although he had zealously worked for the
Earl's surrender by the Scots, fearing the effect of his escape
to the Continent, had from the first opposed the infliction
of the extreme penalty, and now lost no opportunity ol
urging upon Elizabeth the advantages she might attain

1 Memorials, p. 202.


by extending mercy in this case. For some time the A.D.^572
( hicctfs habitual irresolution in such cases ' served to
raise his hopes, but these were now dashed by a letter
from Burghley, the reply to which affords an honourable
testimony to the old soldier's character :

" My very good Lord, — Thys day syttyng downe to
dyner, having dyspatcht a pakket, not past an owre
befor, I receyved your Lordship's pakket of 8th, whyche
rave me my dyner; fyndyng myselfe hardlye delt withall to
he a carryer of any nobelman to executyon yntoo a place
wherein I have nothyng to do. My charge ys butt in
thys towne and the Este Wardenry, and therefore for mee
to be putt to bryng him to York to be executed, I can
neyther thynke that hyr Majestie deales wyth mee thereyn,
nor that I have anye suche frends abowt Her Majestie
as I accounted of ; and sewrly I wyll rather stiffer sum
ynprysonment than (too yt. Sir John Forster hathe bothe
the comodity and proffytt of all hys landes yn Northum-
berland, and he is fyttest to have the carryage of hym
to York, and / wyll dclyver hym safely att Alnzuyck,
butt 110 farther, by my wyll. Therefore, my Lord, as ever
I may thynke ye beere me any good wyll, or that Her
Majestie hath any consyderacyon of mee, lett some othar
be appoynted to receve hym of mee eyther at Alnwyck
or Newcastle. And so assuryng your lordship that though
the wrytt came to me, I wyll not styrre hens wyth hym
untyl I have answer from your lordship agayne." 2

The condemned Earl had still one untiring friend,
who now made a last effort to save him. John Lee
writes :

" My lady Northumberland has never believed in the

1 According to Fenelon, Elizabeth had signed and revoked four
* trrants for Norfolk's execution before allowing sentence to pass. Her
•'■•"Mjlution in the case of Mary Stuart's death warrant is notorious.

• Hi.nsdon to Lord Burghley, Berwick, nth July. 1572, Sfate Pap<rs.

I I 7


• a.d. delyvery of the Erie; but now some are of opvnvon
— J that she will goe into some monastery, but others that
she will practice notwithstanding, as opportunitye shall

And in a subsequent letter he states that she had
actually gone into a convent after having vainly im-
plored the French King to intercede for her husband's
life. 1

Lady Northumberland had in fact moved for such
intercession both in France and Spain, where she had a
right to look for sympathy and support, on behalf of
one who had suffered in a cause which the rulers of those
states had professed to have warmly at heart. At
this hour, however, it did not fall in with the plans of
either Philip or Louis to display interest in the chiefs of
an abortive rebellion ; and nothing but Elizabeth's
affected scruples now stood between Northumberland
and the scaffold.

" I was readye this morning," writes Hunsdon, "to
delyver the Erie to Sir John Forster according to an
appoyntment, but receved the Oueene's Majesties letter
to staye hym at my dyscrecion, untyll I heerde from hyr
ageyne. If he went this nyght to Alnwyck he wold be
in York on Tuesday, and so either the next day or
Thursday executed ; and then too late to staye yt, though
Her Majestie myght be content to defer yt. But if she
continues in hyr resolution then it shall be presentlye

fulfylled upon worde agayne from hyr I have

sought to prolong the execution to have Her Majestic
understande his brothers doings, for suerly if Henry
Percy's affection towards the Scottish Oueene, and hys
other dealings towards her Majestic, be suche as is

1 John Lee to Lord Burghley, 13th June and 14th July, 1572, State
Papers. The king declined to interfere unless the Earl should lir^t
unconditionally submit himself to his sovereign's mercy.



compnlye spoken, 1 Her Majestie would doe hyrselfe a a.d. 1572
worse turne by setting upp the one than by keepinge the
other alyve. Besydes .... she ivy 11 have the benefitt of
his fyiyng* anc * as man y a s have any gyfte of hyr, or
.mylhyng of hys, may pycke a salade." 2

l ; or some weeks longer the poor Earl's life seemed to
hang in the balance ; twice had Elizabeth named the day
for his execution, and each time was the order counter-
manded. But now the curtain fell upon the last act of
the Rising in the North.

On the 17th August Hunsdon delivered his prisoner
to Sir John Forster at Alnwick, who conducted him to
York, by slow stages, 3 under a strong mounted escort. A
scaffold had been erected in the Pavement? and there, on
the 22nd August, Thomas Percy met his death with calm
courage and dignity.

" Remember," he said, when about to lay his head upon
the block, " that I die in the Communion of the Catholic
Church, and that I am a Percy in life and in death." 5

Sir Thomas Gargrave writes to Lord Burghley on the
day after the execution :

" So farre as may appere by any talk or doyings of the
late Erie of Northumberland, at or befor his dethe, he
contynued obstynate in relygion, and declared he wold dye

1 Sir Henry Percy was at this time a prisoner in the Tower on charges
of complicity in a plot to liberate the Scottish queen.

7 Lord Hunsdon to Lord Burghley, 9th August, 1572, 'State Papers.

3 The journey occupied four days, as appears from a " Note of the
charges of Sir John Forster for post horses, in conveying the late Earl
of Northumberland from Alnwick to York, iSth to 21st August, and
returning with his company, 23rd to 25th August, ^"154 11;. 4k' 1 —

* '1 hen the great market-place, in which the pillory stood.

5 Ueckwith, in his MS. History of York, quoted in the Memorials,
states that the head was struck off with one blow of a broad carpenter's
axe. According to others, however, a drunken executioner ' ; chopped at
hiui for half an hour with a blunt carpenter's axe." — See Historical
Portraits of the Tudor Dynasty, by S. II. Burke.



a.d. a Catholyke of the Pope's Churche. He accompted his
152 _l! 572 offence npthynge, and especyally after he knew he shold
dye; but before, he seemyd to confesse he had offendyd,
and wold qualyfy yt, sayynge he dyd that he dyd by
compulsion, and for feere of his lyffe. He confessyd he
was reconcyled to the Pope ; he affermyd this realme was
in a scysme, and that all were sysmatykes. He said
here was nether pitye nor mercye. In his talke with
dyvers he namyd hymselfe ' Symple Thome,' and sayd
' Symple TJiomc must dye, to sett vp crewell Henry.' * At
his dethe he wyshed his brother to be of his relygyon,
and that, if he had hys lyvynge, he trysted he wold pay
his dettes and helpe his chyldren and servantes. He dyd
not here either pray for the Queene's Majestie, nor even
wyshed her well, nor yet wold confesse he had offendyd
Her Majestie, whereat many was oftendyd and thoyght
he had no deutyfull consideration of her Ma tIe ; and
on the other syde, the styf-neckyd papystes rejoyed
moche of his stedfastnes in their crede of popyshe
relygyon." 2

The Earl's head was set on a high pole above Mickle-
gate Bar, 3 but his body was saved from the indignity

1 Thomas Wright, in his Queen Elizabeth and Her Times (vol. i. p.
439), following some of the old historians, makes the Earl say not
" cruel Henry" but " cruel Heresy." This version is also given in a
popular work, Knight's Pictorial History of England (London, 1847).
Other writers make the Earl describe his brother as " cunning " Henry,
perhaps the more appropriate term, besides conveying antethetic point ;
but the report of the sheriff who superintended the execution may be
assumed to be the more accurate.

2 Cott. MSS. Calig. C. iii. Fol. 394. Oldmixon says that the Earl
was "very obstinate in his last speeches and moments. He asserted
the Pope's supremacy, denied subjection to the queen, his lawful sovran,
and affirmed the nation to be in a schysm, or rather heresy, for he
called all her leige subjects heretycks." The Spanish Ambassador re-
ported to his Government that the Earl had said upon the scaffold that
if he had a thousand lives he would give them all for the Catholic faith
in which he died. — Apimtamientos para la historia del Key, Don Felipt
Segundo de Espana, p. 128,

3 According to popular rumour the head had been removed during the



of mutilation by the intercession of some influential A.D.J572
citizens of York, who caused it to be laid in Crux
Church, "no one attending the funeral save two men
and three maid domestics, and a stranger in disguise,
who, causing suspycyon, immediately fled." ■

No memorial marks the grave of the seventh Earl of
Northumberland, and the only local record of his death
is contained in this entry in the parish register of St.
Margaret's, Walmgate, York, for the year 1572 :—

Dominus Percy decollatus erat
xxii. die Augusti.

The Scottish Queen had given a strong proof of her
grateful appreciation of the services which the Earl of
Northumberland had rendered in her cause, by a gift
which to her must have been of inestimable value.
This was a relic purporting to be a thorn of the crown
which the Jews had in mockery placed on the Saviour's
brow. The Earl had worn it, mounted in a golden cross,

night in fulfilment of a prophecy made many years before oy Mother
Shipton, who had said to him : " My Lord, shoot your horse in the
quicke and you shall do well ; but your bodie will be buried in Yorke
pavement, and your head shall be stolne from the Barre, and carried

into France." , .. . . ta

If the date of this prophecv be correctly given, however, it must have
been addressed not to the seventh, but to his uncle, the sixth, Lad, who,
before his accession, had been sent by Wolsey to have his fortune told by
Mother Shipton. See a pamphlet in the British Museum entitled The
Prophesie of Mother Shipton in the reigne of Henry the Eighth, for-
feiting the death of Cardinal Wolsey, the Lord Peny and others as
also what should happen in suing times."— " London, printed tor
Richard Lownds, in his shop adjoining to Ludgate, 1641.

The author or editor of the pamphlet (which is in the collection pre-
sented to the British Museum by King George the Third) was apparently
under the impression that it was Wolsey's pupil who had been executed
at York. The seventh Earl was never called " Lord Percy Those
who prophesy after the event should be very caretul in the matter
f't names and dates.

1 Bcckwith's MS. History of York.



A - D - around his neck to the day of his death, when he bc-
i5 2 _j5 - q ueat | iec { j t to hi s eldest daughter Elizabeth. 1

The relic is now at Stonyhurst College, 2 enclosed in a
golden casket bearing this inscription : —

" Hccc spina de Corona Domini Sancta fuit prima
Maria; Regina Stotice, Martyris, et ab ca data Comiti
Northumbrian Martyri, qui in morte missit illam filue
sua, Elizabeth<z, quce dedit societati!'


The widowed Countess of Northumberland survived
her husband for nearly twenty years — weary and lonely
years of exile and poverty ; 3 parted from her children,
forgotten or ignored by the many friends of earlier
days, but still zealous in the cause to which her worldly
hopes and happiness had been sacrificed. While residing
at Liege she was in constant communication with
Queen Mary, and had exerted herself to bring about
a marriage between her and Don John of Austria. 4

1 She in her turn gave, or bequeathed, it to the Jesuit Father Gerard,
who says :

'* At this time I had given me some very fine relics which my friend
set for me very richly. Among these was an entire thorn of the He !y
Crown of our Lord, which the Queen of Scots had brought with her
from France (where the whole Crown is kept), and had given to the
Earl of Northumberland, who was afterwards martyred. He always
used to carry it in a golden cross about his neck as long as he lived,
and at his death made it over to his daughter." — Life of Father Gerard,
some time Superior of Stonyhurst. London: Burns and Oates, i88i._

2 The present rector, the Rev. W. H. Eyre, has in reply to my inquiries
on the subject courteously furnished me with a photograph of the relic.

3 Ller only means of subsistence were derived from a small pension,
very irregularly paid, from the King of Spain, and out of this she main-
tained several poor ladies who had followed her into exile. In a
memorandum in the handwriting of Lord Burghley, dated in 1590, and
relating to the English recipients of foreign pensions we read. " I ho
Countess of Northumberland, furiously mad, hath 100 crowns a montii
at Namur." — State Papers.

♦ "The Jesuit Nicholas Saunders assured the King of Spain that h
had the authority of Queen Mary's most confidential advisers, '
F. Englefield and the Countess of Northumberland, for saying that she was


rWi'ii ■•f.' i




The English Government was kept well informed of a.d.
her doings. In 1573 Lee describes her as "one of the I572 ~ 159 *
principal practicers at Mechlin/' and another of Burghley's
agents reports : —

" The rebells hold counsell at the howse of the
Countess of Northumberland in Brussells, and many
bad wordes they speke of your lordship, as that you are
a heretyck, and that it was a grete pitty that Paulus
Ouintus did not burn you when you was in prison, and
some had vowed to shorten your dayes. I have shown
the Government of this lady's assemblies and practices,
and travailled very much to find out the author of that
lewde book against your lordship. The Countess of
Northumberland hath given ^"ioo for the printing, and
one Heighgates, secretary to her late husband, collected
the book after divers persons had done their mind in
writing 1 . . . The Countess is a bad woman in
every way, and has spoken very lewdly of your lordship,
avowing that in that collection there is nothing but truth
and that if she might speak of it to the Queen she might
tell wonders." 2

A few scattered and destitute refugees plotting for
the restoration of the Church of Rome and the Scottish
Queen could hardly have been considered a source of
danger to the English Government ; yet Lord Burghley

extremely well affected towards Don John of Austria," .... with
whom the Countess was stated to have been in frequent communication,
being " supposed to be the channel through which the prayers and com-
plaints of the captive Queen of Scots reached his willing ears." — Don
John of Austria, by Sir William Stirling Maxwell, vol. ii. pp. 23
and 208.

1 This refers to a work published in Paris under the title of Discours
des Troubles du Co?ntc de Northumberland, composed in the interests of
the Catholics, and purporting to reveal the true causes' of the Northern
Rebellion. It is written in a very violent spirit, but from the fact that
Lord Burghley thought it necessary to circulate a laboured reply, it
may be presumed to have produced some effect.

3 Dr. Wilson to Lord Burghley. State Papers.


a.d. lost no opportunity of persecuting these unhappy people,
152^-1572 e ven now that they were beyond his jurisdiction. The
English ambassador at the French court was more than
once instructed to remonstrate against the protection
afforded to the disaffected English in Paris ; and in 1576
Dr. Wilson informs his chief that he had succeeded in
prevailing upon the Spanish Government to expel Lady
Northumberland and other refugees from Brussels at
fifteen days' warning, " which all did take very heavily
as a thing unlooked for." '

But adversity only served to stimulate this indomitable
woman to fresh efforts, and no failure or misfortune could
discourage her. She lived to see another Catholic plot
in England organised and defeated ; her husband's
brother, to whom, personally, she owed little enough,
but who now represented the cause she had at heart,
murdered, as was believed, by her enemies ; the Scottish
Queen, in whose life and freedom her dearest hopes
were bound, die on the scaffold ; the faith for which she
would herself have died more than ever persecuted ; and
still she worked and plotted and hoped, till, attacked by
the fatal epidemic of that time, her troubled life ended
in a convent near Namur in 1591.

Charles Paget, then himself a refugee at Antwerp,
writes : " I want meenes to signify to Lady Jane Percy
that her mother, the Countess of Northumberland, died
fourteen days ago of the small-pox, and has left jewels
and goods behind worth having ; and to advise her to
come over soone, for unlesse she is present she cannot
enjoy them, and besides, she may procure the discounts 3
of her mother, which arise to two thousand crowns of
gold. I must not be known to have advysed this, nor

1 State Papers.

2 This would appear to refer to the arrears of the Spanish pension,
which had always been very irregularly paid.



with having intelligence with her ; but hearing that she is a.d.
not in the best state for wcalthe, she would be unwise to I 57 2 ~ I 59 I
luse this commodity." z

Four daughters 3 had survived the unfortunate Earl of
Northumberland, of whom Elizabeth, the eldest, married
Richard Woodruffe of Wolley, in Yorkshire.

Mary, after her mother's death, founded and became
Prioress of the Convent of English Benedictine Dames
at Brussels, a community which subsequently removed to

Lucy became the wife of Sir Edward Stanley of
Eynsham, Oxon, a brother of the Earl of Derby, 3 and
Jane, the youngest daughter, of Lord Henry Seymour,
a younger son of Edward, Earl of Hertford.

1 Charles Paget to Giles Martin, London, 23rd September, 1591,
State Papers.

* One son had died in infancy, and was buried at Leconfield, 18th
August, 1560.

J Two daughters, Frances and Venetia, were born of this marriage, who
respectively married Sir John Fortescue of Salden, and Sir Kenelm
I |»gby. It was the younger daughter to whom Ben Jonson thus refers in
his Euphemia :

" I sing the just and uncontrolled descent
Of Dame Venetia Digby, styled the fair.
In mind and body the most excellent
That ever nature or the latter air
Gave two such Houses as Northumberland
And Stanley, — to the which she was co-heir."



A D.

I532-I5 8 5

<£t'3&ti) Carl of Sortfiumficrtanli.

Born at Newburn Manor, circa 1532.

Acceded, 1576.

Died in the Tower, June 21, 1585.

English Sovereigns.

Henry VIII.
Edward VI.

EAVING out of account the martial spirit
which had been the common inheritance
of the two brothers it would not be
easy to draw a stronger contrast than is
=*« presented by the characters of " Simple
Tom " and " Cruel Henry."

In the one we see a generous, affectionate and earnest
nature ; guileless and confiding, but devoid of judgment ;
easily influenced by stronger minds, and at once irresolute
and obstinate.

The other was a man of powerful will and clear intel-
lect ; ambitious in his aims, unscrupulous in his means :
with a cold heart, and a pliant conscience. Calculating
and self-seeking, yet ever prone to sacrifice his personal



interests to the impulses of momentary sympathy or a.d. 1557

As skilful in diplomacy as he was daring in warlike
operations, Queen Mary had, while he was yet in his
minority, employed Sir Henry Percy 1 in both capacities,
and rewarded his services by the important governorship
of Tynemouth Castle.

The military assistance which the King of France now
rendered to Scotland had aggravated the lawless condition
of the Border population, which Sir Henry Percy was
engaged in repressing and chastising.

On 6th August, 1557, he writes from Alnwick to the
Karl of Shrewsbury, then President of the Council of
the North :

" I perceive your both Lordships [Shrewsbury and
Westmoreland] to accept my repair to this country of
Northumberland in such good part, as I have cause
to rejoice thereof; and further, to be desirous to know
the occurrents from time to time happening in these
parts. It may please your good Lordship to under-
stand, that upon my repair to Alnwick, the last of July
past, sundry gentlemen of this country, with many other
honest men of the same, repaired thither unto me ; with
whom I continually travelled untill Wednesday at night
last in such sort as we were suffered to take very small
rest, either by night or day : but by the more part of
nights and days on horseback, attended the invasion of
tne enemy. And for the better resistance thereof, I placed
myself and my company nigh to the frontiers, as at
Lslingtone and other places thereabout. And yesterday,
being the fifth of this instant, about five of the clock in the
morning, the Lord James and Lord Robert, the late
Scottish Kind's .bastard sons, Lord Home, and others

1 There is no record to establish when knighthood had been conferred
tJ Pon him.



a.d. of Scotland, with all the power they could make in
iS3*-»535 three days assembly of men from Edinburgh hither-
wards, and with certain pieces of ordnance, did invade
on the East march of this realm ; minding, as I learned
by credible intelligence, to have attempted to win the
castle of Ford and have burnt sundry towns thereabouts,
called the ' Ten Towns of Glendale ; ' which their pur-
pose, upon my repair towards them, with a good number
of gentlemen, and others of this country, they did quite
alter and change : And after they had burnt a house or
two in the town of Fenton [where was taken, and wounded
to death as is supposed, one of their best borderers and

Online LibraryEdward Barrington De FonblanqueAnnals of the house of Percy, from the conquest to the opening of the nineteenth century (Volume v.2 pt.1) → online text (page 11 of 31)