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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of this letter has been modernised.

2 Sir Henry Percy to Cecil, 2Sth June, 1560. State Papers.

3 See Sir Ralph Sadler's letter to Cecil, November 1559, ante p. r 3-

4 See his letter to Cecil, 30th April, 1560. Ibid. p. 132.

s In 1570 the Queen granted to Henry Percy a new patent of tnc
governorship of Tynemouth, upon more favourable terms, and wii
reversion to his two e'dest sons. Letters Patent, 13 Eliz ta . (13 th ^ iV ''

6 He died in 1577. Camden says : " Hoc anno titulus Baronis Lat'i
quum in Nevillorum familia ab Henrici Sexti temponbus magno honui



profligate and disordered a life, that it was more than a.d. 1560

< nee determined to place his person under restraint, and
his property under the guardianship of the Crown. His
wife (a daughter of Henry Somerset, second Earl of
Worcester, and sister to Anne, Countess of Northumber-
land) was, on the contrary, if we may believe the epitaph
on her tomb, 1 possessed of all the virtues :

" Such as she is, such surely shall yee bee ;

Such as she was, such if yee bee, be glad :
Faire in her youth, though fatt in age grew she ;

Vertuous in bothe, whose glosse did never fade.
Though long alone she ledd a widowe's life,
Yet never Ladye lived a truer wife.

From Wales she sprange, a Branch of Worcester's Race,
Grafte in a stocke of Browne's, her mother's side ; 2

In Court she helde a maide of honor's place

Whilst youth in her, and she in Court did byde.

To John, Lord Latimer, then became she wife ;

Four daughters had they breath eing yet in life.

Earl of Northumberland tooke the first to wife,3

The nexte the heire of Baron Burleigh chose, 3
Cornwallis happ the third for terme of life,

And Sir John Danvers pluckt the youngest, Rose. 3
Their father's heires, mothers all she sawe ;
Pray, or Praise her, and make your list the lawe." 4

ct opibus floruisset, extinctus est in Joanne Nevillo." — A?males, vol. ii.
p. 318. The title, however, did not become extinct, but descended to
the eldest son of Sir Henry Percy, afterwards Qth Earl of Northumber-
land. It was the widow of this Lord Latimer's father, Kalherine Parr,
who became one of the queens of Henry VIII.

1 She was buried in the parish church of Hackney under an imposing
monument, which comprised effigies of herself and her four daughters.
In a memorandum by Dr. Thomas Percy, dated in 177S, we read:
" This monument was taken down about seven or eight years agoe to make
room for a pew, and the stones, effigies, and gilt rails are at present
thrown together in a vault on the south side of the belfry." —
Alnwick MSS.

3 Her mother was a daughter of Sir Anthony Browne, Standard Bearer
to King Henry the Seventh.

3 The existing dukedoms of Northumberland and Leeds, and the

m.arquisate of Exeter, spring from these three alliances.

t 4 VVhitaker's RuhmonrfsJrire, vol. ii. p. So. The composer of this

' :v, unwilling, apparently, to lose the credit of the authorship, caused

t cc words to be inscribed upon the tablet: "'Made by Sir William

< ornwallis, knight, this ladie's sonne in lawe."



A - D - Sir Henry Percy had applied for the guardianship of

1532^5 5 fa s unru jy f-uher-in-law, " in remembrance of my poor
ability and levinge and in what uncertainty that I have," '
and, from the active part he took in negotiating the
marriage of one of the daughters, it appears probable
that they, if not the dissolute old lord himself, had been
committed to his guardianship.

In now proposing to bring about a marriage between
his sister-in-law and Cecil's eldest son, Sir Henry Percy
admits that his object was rather to strengthen his con-
nection with the powerful Lord Treasurer than to consult
the happiness of the young lady, whom he here paints in
such charming colours :

" After my humble and hartie comendacons. Whereas
I haue euer bene bound by yo r goodnes towards me to
devise by what meanes or s r uice I mighte requite the
same, and havinge no cause sufficiently worthie ffor that
I have receyued at yo r handes ; yett haue I thought good
to aduertise youe of this whiche I have had in my mynde
sence my manage and before. And altho the mater shall
not seme greatelye comodious towardes youe, but that
youe may advance youre house into muche greater
levinge, yet will I humbly requier youe to receyue it as
procedinge ffrome a faithefull ffrende. Youe shall vnder-
stand that my L. Lattymore havinge foure daughters,
whereof as youe knowe I maried one, and the secound
beinge of xv yeres, and as I supposse not muche unmete
ffor manage, I haue, sence the time of my manage, kepte
withe me this gentilwoman my suster, onelie to understand
her dispossicion. And altho I thoughte to have had
some conferance with youe in this mater at my laste
beinge at the Coo r te, yett was I lettede ffor that I wold
Haue some tryall of the conversacion of the younge

1 Sir Henry Percy to Secretary Cecil, 12th January, 1564. Statt



woman, whiche I assure youe is so good and vertuous as a.d. 1564
hard it is to find suche a sparke of youthe in this Realme;
dor bothe is she very wise, sober of behavoure,
womanly, and in hir doinges so temperate as if she bare
the age double hir yeres. Of stature like to be goodlie,
■ ti \\d of Beutie verry well ; hir haire browne, yet hir com-
plexion very ffaire and cleare ; the ffavoure of hir face
cuery Bodie may iudge it to haue bothe grace and
wysdome. S r , altho it be a dangerous matter thus much
to write of a younge woman, yet, do I assure youe, I have
said nothinge more than she deserueth. S r , for that my
cousen youre sone is vnmarried, and that God haithe
induede youe w th suche gifts as is like to leave him greate
possessions, yet do I thinke it not amise if that he were
planted in some stocke of hono r . And if this should so
fortone as my harte desiers, bothe should he be matched
in a greate house ; as also the likelyhoode of possessions
to come thereby. And consideringe the evill gouermente
of my Lord, as also the good meanes you haue to estab-
lishe and devise a saftie of that house, we who alredie be
matched w th that stocke should haue iuste occasion to
thinke oure selues bound to youe, as also rejoice to matche
w ,h such one who might stave that whiche w th oute helpe
were in greate daunger. Pchance this shall seme vnto
youe that I write ffor my owen cause ; I proteste before
^»od, I do not. Mary, I muste confesse, glad I wold be
that the follye of my Lord should not hasard that whiche
mighte come to his childerin ; But the chief cause [by
wy ffaithe) is ffor that I had rather to be lynked w** youe,
"ten zuithe any man in this Realme, and so I hartely
desier youe to excepte it. S r , when you have posed this
and pawsed of the same, I pray youe lett me be aduer-
Usede. But in any case lett it not be knowen vnto any,
!: ^r that there is nobilitye whiche ernestly goethe about
' r > conquo r this. Howbeit my credit is so good withe my



a.d. Lady, my mother in Lawe, as also withe the youtvje
1532-15 5 gentlewoman, as be my advise they will be much
gouerenede. And yfore if they should vnderstand that I
had practised in this without there consents, it should be
an occasion to make my credit the worse withe them. I
do p r ceyue my L. is nowe at London, where he is Better
to be talked w th all then in the country ; but if youe be
amynded to speke in the matter, in no waves talke w th my
Lord in it before I Breake it to my Ladie and the gentle-
woman ; ffor women be willfull if they be not first
soughte vnto. S r , if youe advise of this mater as mete
it is, yet I praye youe to aduertise me whethere yo u wold
have it stayed or not any tyme, ffor that there is that
goethe earnestly aboute to obteyne the thinge. Thus
lavinge to trouble youe any ffurther, trustinge in shorte
tyme to haue aduertisemente frome youe, I wyshe the
encrease of yo r hono r . Frome the Ouenes maiesties
castell of Tynemouthe this xxv of January, 1561. Your
most faithful and assured cousen to comaund,

"H. Percy." 1

The negotiation thus cautiously opened proved suc-
cessful, and the marriage between Cecil's eldest son 2 and
Lord Latimer's second daughter was celebrated in the

following year.

* *


Sir Henry Percy, as we have seen, had shown con-
spicuous zeal in the suppression of the northern rebellion.
Lord Hunsdon, Sir John Forster, Sir William Drewry,
and other of the Queen's most loyal soldiers and coun-
sellors had borne testimony to the value of his services

1 Sir Henry Percy to Sir William Cecil. Original State Papers.
vol. xxi. No. 26.

3 Thomas, afterwards second Baron Burghley, and first Earl of Exeter.
It was his younger brother Robert, afterward first Earl of Salisbury, who
attained such high power under Elizabeth and James, and from whom
the present Marquis of Salisbury is directly descended.



.md his zeal in her interests. Sussex described him as a.d.
a man " holly at the Queen's Majesty's devotion in the * 5 9 ~'
< iwse of the Scottishe maryage, sownde from this
rebellion, redie with all his force to serve against them,
and willing to venter his person with the first." "

Elizabeth lost no time in making sure of him by the
promise of her gracious favour :

" Lyke as we have alwayes had an assured good
opinion of your fidelity towards our estat, and a special
devotion towards our self, so are we very gladd to
understand as we do at this time, of your constancye
and forwardnes in our service, although the same be
against your brother of Northumberland ; whom as we
have loved hertofore, and trusted upon his sundrie pro-
mises made to us of his Allegiance, so we are sorrie to see
him by his disorders, against his loyaltie, to hazarde the
overthrow of his Howse. But considering your fidelitie
to us, we wold have you well assured that, continuing
your service and duty, we will have regard to have the
Continuance of such a House in the Person and Blood
of so faithfull a servant as we trust to find you." 2

It was at this juncture, after he had materially and
ostentatiously contributed towards the suppression of the
abortive rebellion, and had witnessed its feeble collapse ;
when the cause in which his brother had been wrecked
was discredited at home and abroad; and when Elizabeth,

1 Sussex to Cecil, yth January, 1570. State Papers.

' Queen Elizabeth to Sir Henry Percy, 17th November, 1569. —
Haynes, p. 555. The promise of favour and public employment is
intelligible ; but as the attainder of the seventh Earl did not affect the
v :< cession, which, by virtue of the entail made by Queen Mary fell to
Henry Percy, it is difficult to understand why the Queen held out the
I inspect of the "continuance" of the Earldom in his person as an act
' ' -'race on her part. There may have been good reasons for not
I ' nnitting him to claim the succession during his attainted brother's
'"c'ime, but on that brother's death Sir Henry Percy became legally
« .id of Northumberland. He was not, however, summoned to Parliament
•* such, or officially recognised under the title, until four years later.

v OL. n. I45 L


a.d. having triumphed over all her enemies, had promised
32-15 5 n : m } lcr countenance and favour, that Henry Percy
allowed himself to be drawn into a secret conspiracy on
behalf of the Scottish Queen.

The principal evidence to implicate him in the plot is
contained in the several depositions of the Bishop of
Rosse 1 and other State prisoners, according to whom
Percy had come forward unsolicited, and volunteered to
provide men and horses to enable Mary to escape,
undertaking himself to escort her across the border.
So unexpected was aid from this quarter that the Duke
of Norfolk would not believe in the sincerity of the
proposal, though he thought that if Henry Percy would
undertake the service, he were the fittest man for it
in England. 2

The Bishop, however, stated that he had " found Sir
Henry Percy wylling ynow, but not yet resolvit ; for he
stode upon some terms that if he were well usid here,
he wold not deale for the Queen of Scotts, but remane
a frend till tyme might serve ; but if he were not well
usid, he wold go through with the matter ; " 3 and, again,
that Henry Percy had told him that he " had a sute at
this Parlament to be Enheritour to his brother, and that
yf that toke not effect he wold do the best he could for
the delivery of the Scotts Quene ; " but that if it did,
" he wold not meddle because of his nere children, but
he wold loke through his fyngers if she eskapid away." 1

1 Some time Queen Mary's envoy at Elizabeth's court; now a prisoner
in the Tower.

2 Murclin, p. 22. In the depositions of William Barker we read, " My
Lord Norfolk did not believe that Sir Henry Percy, of all other, wold
deale in the matter." — Ibid. p. 119.

3 Ibid. At this time Sir Henry Percy's petition to be placed in
possession of the titles and estates of the attainted, but still living, Earl • ;
Northumberland, was before the Queen (there is a copy of the do< urnes I
at Sycn Hcuse) ; and his " usage " evidently refers to Elizabeth's reluctance
to accede to his prayer during his brother's lifetime. 4 Ibid. p. 21.



At their next meeting he informed the Bishop that he a.d.
had "resolvid to take the matter in hande, for he saw he j 57°^j 1 not answerd to his expectation here. . . . He wold
U-come hir (Queen Mary's) servant, and shift well ynow
with the Worlde, for he shuld have frends ynow in
those partes to do any enterprise to serve the Scottishe
Queene's, or his oivnc, turne, and that way wold he occupie
hymselfe." J

The more closely Henry Percy's proceedings at this
juncture are scrutinised, the greater becomes the diffi-
culty of assigning an intelligible motive to his action.
There was no trace of that enthusiasm which had in-
spired other of the conspirators in his suddenly-aroused
sympathy for Mary ; on the contrary, a prudential regard
for his own interests is observable throughout. His
brother's strong attachment to the Catholic faith had
enabled him to justify rebellion to his conscience ; but
Henry Percy had never allowed his mind to be troubled
with the merits of conflicting creeds ; had remained a
Catholic while Queen Mary reigned, and become a
Protestant as soon as Elizabeth's accession promised
to make his conversion advantageous. He had never
seen the Queen of Scots, so there could have been
no personal attachment ; nor had any persuasions been
used to win him over, for, as has been shown, he was
deemed to be the very last man whom the plotters could
hope to enlist in their enterprise, besides being little
amenable to the influences of others, in any matter in
which his personal interests were involved. Yet, ap-
i'lrently for no reason but that there had been some
delay in the consideration of his prayer to be allowed to
r >se upon the ruin of his unhappy brother, he took the
course which was of all others most certain to arouse

1 Mnrdin, pp. 119, 120.


a.d. Elizabeth's implacable resentment ; and risked estate.
i532-i5 8 5 liberty, and life in a cause of the success of which so
sagacious a man could hardly have entertained a hope.

Cecil was far too well served by his spies to have
remained in ignorance of the fact • that a plot for the
liberation of the Scottish Queen had been set on foot ;
and it was not long before he held in his hands the
threads of the whole conspiracy.

Several different plans for liberating Mary had been
proposed by the conspirators in conclave, all of which
were duly communicated to the Earl of Shrewsbury,
whose timely precautions frustrated their plans.

" Besydes Sir Thomas Stanley's enterpryse," writes
Lord Burghley, 1 "Sir Henry Percy, for whom I am right
sorrie, was a great devisor to have hyr (Queen Mary)
from you about Ester last, and the Bishop of Rosse had
taken the measure of a window where she sholde have
been lett downe. Your change of hir lodgynge altered
the enterpryse, whereat she was much offendid." 2

To this Lord Shrewsbury replies : " If Sir Henry
Percy will be a traitor, I had as leve deel with him as
another ; for that in resisting him, being a soldier, 1
should win more credit. If they pursue any attempt . •
. . . we shall be able to give them such a banquet as
they should repent." 3

1 Cecil had been raised to the peerage under this title early in this year.

2 Lord Burghley to Earl of Shrewsbury, 19th October, 157 1. Stat*

3 Shrewsbury to Burghley, 24th October, 1571. Ibid. Lord Shrews-
bury suspected the old Countess of Northumberland (widow of the
sixth Earl) of complicity in these attempts. In August 1 37 x '•'-'.
informed Cecil that she was "of great age, both impotent and <
no ability to govern herself; but like a child led and seduced I >
popery, and such dangerous inconveniences, by such as she had ai
her;" and on 4th October following he writes: "Hearing last nu 1
that the old lady of Northumberland would privately remove t!
morning with her household to Shropshire, and with the pretence
going to the Earl of Pembroke, whereas her full meaning is to remain



A few days later Sir John Forster received orders for a.d. 1571
the apprehension 1 of Sir Henry Percy, who, informed of
the proceedings in progress, escaped to London, where
he was arrested. On the 15th November the Privy
Council acquaint Forster that "for certain considerations
Sir Henry Percy is committed to the custody of Sir Ralph
Sadler," who is at the same time directed to visit Tyne-
mouth Castle and to report upon its condition. Henry
Percy's foresight in having established a close family con-
nection with the Lord Treasurer now becomes apparent,
and Cecil's friendship stands him in good stead. In his
instructions, Forster is admonished " to leave off all
remembrance of unkindness " in the performance of this
duty, and further to make his inspection at Tynemouth
in company with " two justices of the peace, who shall
not be suspected of bearing the accused any ill-will."

Upon receipt of the report on the condition of Tyne-
mouth Castle, which was stated to have been greatly
neglected and devoid of ordnance, 2 Percy was committed

in one of Sir Thomas Fitzherbert's houses in Staffordshire, I thought it
best to stay her this morning in the Queen's name, until her Majesty's
pleasure were further known. The more unwilling I saw her the more
earnest I was, though with quiet manner, and as gentle words as I
could use ; offered, if she wished change of air for her health, or lacked
any necessity, she should have any house or commodity I had, and
would do anything for her health or comfort of mind. I thought it
good also to take order, by attendance of some of the servants, that
she shall be kept from the resort of suspected persons who still seek
to abuse her impotent age to the contempt of her Highness's proceed-
ings. She is not yet brought to take the communion, and uses no
divine service in her house. Though ner example is intolerable, I trust
no great inconvenience will ensue, as long as she remains where I can
keep my eye upon her and those who resort to her." — State Papers.
See also Mary, Queen of Scotland, in Captivity, by T. Leader. London,

1 Privy Council to Sir John Forster, 23rd October, 1571. State

2 The inquiry appears to have been instituted with regard to a rumour
?hat Percy had been in treaty for surrendering the castle to the Scots,
but which must have proved entirely unfounded, since it is not even
referred to in the official report.



a.d. to the Tower, whence a few months later he made this
1532-1585 a p pea ] f or t h e Queen's grace :

" Ryght honorable, and my singuler good LI, — Find-
ynge my selffe destytute of my nerest and derest frendes
by nature, (and of many others by thare fauittes,) without
any offense I thanke God, I am forsed to flye to your
honors as to my beste refuge in this my harde case, and
to craue your honorable fauores in fortherynge me to the
grace and marcy of the Quene,hyr most exselent Maiestic;
wyche I most humbly seke and sue for, as one that
conffesses my selffe to haue offendytt hir hyghnes. And
aithoughe I myght here (I call God to wyttnes) iustly
and truly laye for my selffe that this my fautte, for wyche
I nowe suffer, hathe bene a forgetfulnes of duty to hir
maieste in consealynge of other men's inordenat deuyses,
rather thene any dysloyall yeldynge of my partte, or
vndutyfull meanynge to exsecute the same in any sorttc
to the offens of hir hyghnes : yet leuynge all excussc
and deffense of my selffe hearin (houe iust or true so
euer the same be), I do here most humbly and dutyftuly
submytt, nott only the quallyte of my offense to be iuged
of by hir maieste, but my selffe also, to any punesment
what so euer it shall please hir hyghnes to lay a pone me
for the same. And altho' I ame fully detarmyned lyke-
wysse, without any grudginge or repinynge tharat, duty-
ffuly to abyde the tyme of suche corectyone as hir
hyghnes shall thynke suffesent to satisfy hir displesure
consauyd aganst me for my fautte, yet yff it shall please
hir maieste to stand so myche my good and grasius lady,
(and the rather by your LI. good meanes for me) as to
releasse, or releue me of this harde imprasonement wyche
I suffer, beinge more hurtffull to my wake body thene
greuous to my mynde (I thanke God), I wyll promys to
hir hyghnes by your honors, nott only my best and vtter-
most endeuyre to contenue suche true and fathefull saruy^

l 5°


as I haue bein heretofore always redy and wyllynge to a.d.j^i

,-,, for hir maieste, but to better it hereafter yeff I may

ixwsably by any meanes. And as I shall haue iuste

cause to cary this your LI. grett fauore, and vndesaruyd

(rendshipe of my partte in gratffull remember anse, so

uvil I nott sease to trauell, tyll bysume thankfull plesure

or sarvys to youe or sume of yours, I haue requited your

honorable cortosies in this behalffe. And thus wyshinge

inoste honor to your LI. I comytt the same to the

Almyghtye. Frome the towre this xxiij day of

February 157 1-2.

" Your LI. humble at comandment,

" H Percy " '
"Pervsed by me, \Vy m Hopton,


Percy's assurance of his having up to this time had no
ulterior views beyond Queen Mary's liberation from her
prison, is borne out by the testimony of several of his
accomplices in this design, among others, by Edmund
Powell, who in ' a long letter addressed to Cecil from
the Tower says :

" The chefe matter you stande with me upon, whereyn
also you tell me her hyghness is unsatysfyed, is to express
what intention Sir Harry Percy, and I, or any body els
v. th whom I delt in this matter, had and what we ment to
have done with the Skottysh Oueene yf we had stollen
her away ; whereunto I annswer that in that poynt we
never waded so farr, and as we were unresolved in all
other, so most of all in that, whereof we never commoned.

Sir Harry P cy and I cold not dete.rmyne to doo

a thyng before we knew whether we cold doo it or no ;
our commonication was nothing but which way,

' Addressed to "the Right Hon" 8 and very singular good Lords the
Erie of Laycester and My Lord Burleghe." — Original State Papers,
Record Office, vol. 85, No. '51.

I =; I


a.d. when, by day or nyght, with how few, such a thing mowght
1 532-i5 8 5 best be done, and yff a man should goo about it

"In talke, when I asked Sir Harry P cy what he wold
doo, yff such a thinge should be gon about, ' Marry ! '
seythe he ' never for my parte sturr foote, for yff she may be
delivered she mowght be conveyed away with a man or two,
and never be knowen who dyd it. Marry, I wold thanck
God, yff it wer, that you wer wyth her yff you could.' l

11 Whereunto I made no direct answer, yea or no. Now
yff neythre he wold ever sturr out of doores, neythre he
knew whether I wold or no, what end could we two
apoynt upon ? "

The Queen was not, however, disposed to show Henry
Percy any indulgence, and even resented the degree of
liberty which, by Burghley's favour, had been allowed to
the prisoner within the Tower.

" I brake with Her Majestie also about Sir Henry
Piercy," writes Leicester; "she was in some doubt
what was best to do, but in the end she concluded he

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 13 of 31)