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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longing to Shakespeare and mentioned in his a.d.

.K ill." 1585-1590

Fashion, however, was beginning to set westward, and
,n 1590 the Earl hired Russell House in St. Martin's
Field, near Charing Cross, for ^"60 a year. Shortly after
:hc accession of James he bought Walsingham House
for something over ^2,ooo. 2

During the stormy and unsettled lives of his uncle and
his father, their residences in the north had been allowed
to fall into decay, and after their deaths had been so
completely rifled of the contents that, as he quaintly
expresses it : —

" I came to be an Earl of Northumberland soe well
left for moveables, as I was not worth a fyer shovel or a
paire of tonges. What was left me was wainstcoates
revited with nails ; for wyfes commonly are great
scratckers after their husband's death, if things be
loose? 3

This undutiful reflection upon his mother is not the
only indication of the bad terms upon which they lived ;
and the following letter of remonstrance from the
widowed Countess of Northumberland to Lord Burghley,
ihough in some respects exaggerated (notably so as
regards the strictures upon her daughter's suitor and

nira complaining to the Lord Mayor of a title pretended by the Aldermen
of London to the garden attached to this house, " which garden I
* r jld to Mr. Chamberlain, and I thought good rather to satisfy you
concerning the title than that there should be any unnecessary suit for
'•"- same. That I, and those from whom I claim, have quietly enjoyed
( ne House with the upper ar.d lower garden without interruption for
5: >e space of 100 years at least, is manifest." — Original State Papers.

"That messuage or tenement with the appurtenances wherein John
Kobinson dwelleth, situated, lying and being in the Blackfriars in London
f '.'ir the Wardrobe. " — The Last Will and Testament of Widiam

We learn from an entry in the account rolls at Syon that the Earl
1 this time also had a house at Barking.
' Instructions to my Son.



a.d. future husband, who ever bore the reputation of an
15 111 32 honourable gentleman), certainly presents the young Earl
in no favourable lififht : —

" My good Lord, I was twise to waite vppon your
Lordship at yo r Howse, but could not finde yo r Lp. at
home, whereby I am enforced to complaine vnto you in
writinge my great Disquiett and Discomfort. I have longt:
scene the disordered Lif of my Sonne the Earle, and,
asmuch as a Mother might out of whose rule he knew.:
himself, pswaded the Amendement. But nowe, pceavinge
to my great Greif that he regardeth neither Parent.
Frende, nor Kinsman, and lacketh Grace to governe him-
self like one of his callinge, I make vnto yo r Lp. my most
humble Request that it maie please yo r Lp. to be well
enformed of his Mann r of Lif, and nowe of his Behavio'
towards me, that when I shall offer the same to the
wholle Councell, yo r Lp. maie be the redier to iudge and
see Redresse of the Wronge and Disgrace he hath don me.
and to take some course for correcting his mispendingc.
and misordered Lif, soe as he might hereafter be able to
serve the Quenes Ma tle and his Countrey ; and that I
maie be put in better Assurance of Ouiett in myne owne
Howse, growinge into Yeres and Sicklines. My Sonne
hath taken to his speciall Companion Mr. John Wotton,
not with standeincre he had knowen before his enterteyn-
inge of his Sister, my eldest Daughter, in Love and
Follies, whereof six or seaven Monethes since I warned
him againe by my lf'es, whereunto he made a short ami
slaight Aunsweare. Within theis fewe Daies by diligent
Care had of this Enterteynement of Love, not Love but
his desier and hope to gett Money by the gettinge ot her.
a lfe was intercepted, wherein appeared there had ben
practise to entice my Daughter to an Assuraunce, anu
since, by the ptie about whome the letter was taken.
confessed, that she should have ben pswaded in some



cveninge downe to the Gate, and there before two a.d. 1587
Gentfemen fitt for such a Councell contracted unto
Mr. Wotton, a Man of noe Livinge, of evill Name, and
more then double my Daughters Yeres. Yet the Plott
went further, howe by meanes of some highlie in the
quenes favo r I should be forced (the Contract beinge
once past,) to geve him two or three Thousande Pounds
with her. Whereof he beinge disapointed by the Dis-
cou r ie of this Ire, he hath threatned Revenge vppon my
Scrvaunts, and namelie vppon my Steward, who openlie
in Pawles he reviled, and threatned to thurst his Dagger
in him had he ben out of the Church. The next daie
ibllowinge this Behavio r of Mr. Wottons, cometh my
Sonne (after he and Mr. Wotton had supped at Arrundells
together) to my Howse, and p r tendinge for Curtesie to
see me, tarryinge a smalle while, and vsinge almost noe
Words to my self, he departed. On whome nowe, as
he accustomed, my Cosen Frauncis Fitton (his fathers
Cosen Jermaine, and cheif Dealer in matters of his
livinge as still he is for me), wayted on him downe into
the Hall, where, without any cause knowne or worde
spoken, he drew his Rapier (which he seldome vseth to
carry, but of purpose that night), strake at him, beinge in
his Night Gowne, amased at the matter, cutt his Head,
and brake his Rapier vppon his Arme, havinge nothinge
to defende his life withall but his handes, till at length
some of mv Servantts rescued him. Since w ch nights
Behavio r , beinge Saturdaie last, he hath come by my
Gate w ,h Mr. Wotton, and in scorne asked for Mr. Fitton,
kravinge and storminge the rest of my Servants that
attended at my Gate. And after Supper cominge by,
caused- a Page to rapp at the Gate, asking in more
s cornes whether he might come in or noe.

"This hath ben my Sonnes and his Companions
h'^havio r iustly and truly sett downe, and the cause of it



a- d - (I saie) onelie this matter and Ouarrell of Wotton to mv
— men, and to my Kinsman Mr. Fitton, whome he suspecu I
did my Comandement in takingeof a badd Boy (who on
served me) the Carrier of these Ires betwene him and m\
Daughter, for in all his Lif my Cosen Fitton hath neve r
offended my Sonne that ever he or I can tell of. 1 Nowc
humblie I besech yo r Lp. to consider the Wronge thai
this Wotton hath gon aboute to doe me, the House,
and my vnfortunate Daughter, nowe to my Servants ; and
next the Vnnaturallnes of my Sonne takinge his newe
Companions part against his owne Mother, whose Lief
belike he desirs to shorten with Greif if he cannott do<
it otherwise, and howe unkinde and vndiscrett he is to be
content to cast awaie his Sister into Beo-aerie and Want,
to please his newe Acquaintaunce. Hopinge y* for the
Howse sake (though it hath ben vnfortunate) as for
coition Example of outragious Misorder, and Contempt
of me his Mother, your Lp. and the rest of my Lord?,
when I shall exhibitt my Peticon, will take some Order
w ch maie in tyme to come be good for him, yf euer he
will be good. Thus even hartely greved I take my leave
of yo r Lp. From my Howse in S c Martyns this ffifte o:
December 1587.

" Yo r Lp. assured frende


" I had forgotten to declare vnto yo r Lordship howe on
Sundaie last came to my Howse diu r s Citizens of good will,
warninge my Folkes to beware of Cominge forth of my
Howse, for that Streats were laid by Mr. Wotton, and
namely for Legg my Steward. And within lesse then

1 The cause of offence, which the lady expresses herself at a loss t<
account for, was doubtless the fact that the Earl disapproved or n -
mother's intention to confer her hand upon this " Cosen Fitton," a son
of her late husband's Auditor and Receiver, whnrn she married shorr. 1 -
after the date of this letter. See note to Appendix VIII.



half an Hower came one Forrest, a Man of my Sonnes, a.d. 1588
into my Howse, gevinge Warninge that this Legg, my
man, should not goe forth to waite vpon me, for that
Streates were laid for him by Mr. Wotton, his Men
and Frends." '

In the following year the young Earl found a more
healthy and legitimate outlet for his aggressive instincts.
Elizabeth's open support of the oppressed Protestants
in the Low Countries, and the blow inflicted upon the
Catholic party by the execution of Queen Mary of Scot-
land, had led to a declaration of war by Spain, whose
fleet, the Invincible, now threatened our shores. It
needed but this danger and this insult, to impel all
England to rise as one man, and the great nobles vied
with one another in the extent of their contributions to
the national defence. 2 Foremost among those who at
their own cost built, equipped, and manned vessels of
war, and who in return for these sacrifices demanded
only the right to fight the Queen's enemies under Drake
and Howard, we find the Earl of Northumberland. 3
To attack as well as to resist the haughty Spaniard,
triumphantly balked of his expected prey, now became
the prevailing fashion ; and the Queen smiled approvingly
upon expeditions which, if successful, not only added to

1 Original State Papers, Record Office, Domestic, Elizabeth, Vol. 206,
No. 9.

2 These private contributions to the cost of defence were of inestimable
v alue, since, even at this critical moment, when the very existence of the
English nation depended upon the result, Elizabeth's parsimony threat-
ened to neutralise the courage of her sailors and the patriotic efforts of
the people. But for the tempest that opportunely swept over the Channel,
'he Spanish Fleet, though defeated, might have regained foreign ports
'omparatively unharmed, in consequence of the failure of ammunition,
0v er the outlay upon which the Queen had haggled with her Ministers.

3 "A great manv of the young nobility and gentry entered themselves
•is volunteers in the navy, hired ships at their own expense, and from a
; <-al to serve their country joined the grand fleet in vast numbers, among
which were the Earls of Oxford, Northumberland, and Cumberland."' —
"ichols, Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, vol ii. 532.

VOL. II. I93 O


a.d. the honour of England, but generally involved laiv
3 !l_ * 2 contributions of treasure to the exchequer, but whi
might be disavowed, or even punished, in case of failun

The Earls of Essex and Cumberland, Rutland an
Southampton, Lords Grey and Rich, and Sir Walti r
Raleigh, were conspicuous among the commanders w!.,
scoured the seas and captured Spanish ships in their
own ports. Of Northumberland there is no spec:..!
mention in these raids, but some formidable items in his
accounts prove that he took a lively interest, if not an
active part, in the adventures of the freebooters.

He appears at this time to have been in high favour
with the Queen, 1 who in 1591 restored him to the
Governorship of Tynemouth Castle, and two years later
created him a Knight of the Garter. 2

1 The Earl's name occurs with much regularity among the donors and
recipients of royal new years' gifts, and he appears to have had a taste foi
artistic jewelry.

In 1589 he presented Her Majesty with "one jewel of golde like a
lampe, garnesshed with sparks of diamonds and one oppall," and tea
years later with "one carcanett of golde, conteyninge nine square peeces,
four pendants like mulettes and half moones, garnished with sparkes o\
dyamondes, rubyes and pearles, threeded betweene." The value of these
gifts seems to have increased year by year, rising from ^"40 in 15S6 to
^"200 in 160 r, the entry for which year runs thus :

" Eor Her Majesty's New Yeer's Gift, an embroidered petic
provided by Lady Walsingham, and for a jewel to Her Majesty, bou. 1
of Mr. Spilman, the Queen's jeweller, ^"200." — Rolls, Muniment Re, '"■
S\on House. The Queen's return gifts generally consisted of from twenty
to thirty ounces of gilt plate. — See Nichols's Progresses of Qua '•
Elizabeth, vol. iii. pp. 2 and 446.

2 The fees paid at the instalment are entered in the Account Rolls at
Syon House as follows :

Mr. Dethick, garter ^46 14 8

The Dean of Windsor 28 o o

Mr. Yorke and the other heralds ... 41 13 4

Mr. Bowyer, for fees to officers of Her 1 ,

Majesty's House j _

£ 158 5 6

In the following year there is a further entry of "^£20 to a King-at-arnis

for bringing the Patent of the Order."



George Peele, a popular poetaster of those times, took a.d. 1593.
advantage of the occasion to print a composition entitled
The Honour of the Garter, which he dedicated to the
Earl of Northumberland, of whom frequent mention is
made in the course of his high-flown rhymes in celebra-
tion of that noble order : —

"But specially in honour of those five,
That at this day this honour have received
Under Elizabeth, England's great Soveraigne
Northumberland and Worcester, noble Earls
Borough and Sheffield, Eords of lively hope,,
And honorable old Knollys famed for his Sons,
And for his service gracious and renowned."

The poet thus exhorts his immediate patron : —

" Young Northumberland,
Mounted on Fortune's wheel, by Virtue's aim
Become thy badge, as it becometh thee,
That Europe's eyes thy worthiness may see ! " '

The following letters addressed "to my Honorable
good friend, Sir John Pickering, Knyght, Lord Keeper
of the Great Seale of England," show that the earl did
not live upon the most friendly terms with his southern
tenantry :

"My very good L : synce the receipt of your Lrds, and
lVticion exhibited by the Tenaunts of my hono r of
i'etworth, unto whose uniust Complaints according to the
truth I answered, albeit not in such aggravating
manner as iust cause required, yet nevertheless (tender-
ing as by all dewe Constructions may be gathered theire
( "iid peticion for Reformacion of Injuries offered by me)
'Hey have oftsoones renewed theire secreit and rioutious
pulling downe in the night season, by themselves and
-complices my Pales and Inclosures, as well of those

' The value which the Earl attached to these adulatory verses is
tsted by the following entry in the accounts for 1593 :
^Deliver to Mr. Warnour, at my Eord's appointment, to give to one
■ j rge Peel, a poett, as my Lord's liberalise, £3." — Syon House Rolls.

195 O 2


A.t». Lands in Questeon before you in the Chainciry (whereof
15 4_* 3 2 m y p a ther and self have hadd quiett possession by the
space of this syxtene yeres or therabouts) as of my
ovvne Freehold and Demesnes, no whitt Touched by the
said Controversie. All \v ch Abuses no whitt remembered,
they have over and besides in violent mailer broken and
entred those Conduit Howsesand hedds apperteyning &
by mere charge belonging to my Howse, stopped and
restrayned the Water for my necessarye use, supposing
the same theire lewde Behavio r not to come to lieht, and
themselves by their unwise ExclamacOns to receive Favor.
For Regard & wherof I thought good to advertise yo r
L : to th'end you may censure accordingly. Andsoew ,h
my hartie Comendacions I bidd y w Farewell. From my
Howse of Pettworth this xxjx th of July, 1592.

" Your Lo. very assured Freind,

" NorthCberlAd."

" My verie good Lo : I am informed of yo r kinde and
iust Dealinge betwene my Tenaunts & me, for w ch I most
hartelie thanke yo w , restinge ever readie to requite the
same wherinsoever I may. Touching the points allreadie
heard I do willinglie agree unto yo r Order for the Comon
& the two yeares fine (albeit I cold content myselfe w ,h
lesse), yet for that I wold not alter it to the Preiudice o(
my selfe & Successors I leave it to yo r Consideracon.
For the other mattere of theyre Coplaint I am willinge to
deale better w th them (reservinge alwaies the Propertee oi
my Right), than theyre Usage towards me doth anie waie
deserve. Neverthelesse till by some iudiciall Censure
theyre mynds bee altered as touchinge theyre supposed
Wronge (whereof no one point of theyre Coplaint toucheth
anie dealinge by myselfe), I see they will not take anie
thinge thankefully at my Handes. And therefore I wold



nraie y r L. to iudge betwene us & heare the rest of a.d.
iheyre Coplaint ; & then I doubt not, but such Offere as I 1 S0 2 - l s9A
shall deliver to yo r L. will be a sufficient Testimonie &
Satisfaction of my better Regard towards them, than they
have deserved, considering theyre Clamo res , w th w ch & the
like you are dailie acquainted. Yet if yo r L. shall thinke
the Causes too longe or troblesome for the Court, I shalbe
then well contented (if it maie so stand w th y r L.
likinge) that two Judges do heare the rest of the points
& certifie the same to yo r L., and then will I after

fhearinge deliver Offeres likewise unto you, such I

(hope, as shalbe most reasonable, and if yo r L. wold I
shold nominate one Judge, I do appointe Mr. Malmesley
for me. So refering myselfe & the Cause wholly to
your honorable CosideracOn, I take my Leave of yo r L.
From my House at London, this 8th Nov., 1594. 1

In December, 1594, the Queen complied with the Earl
of Northumberland's petition to be discharged of the
fine of 5,000 marks which had been imposed upon his
father by the Star Chamber in 1573. 2

In the meantime the raids on the northern borders
continued as frequent and as destructive as ever, as we
learn from this report from Lord Eure, the warden of
the Middle Marches : —

" My verie good Lord, I am sorie I have not to
-icquainte your Lordship with better tydings then the,
^vhich necessarilie 1 must now deliver your Lordship ;
Att my furst entrie, on Tewsdaie before Newyeresdaie
'ast, the Burnes, Youngs and Mowes, with xxvij horsses,
^•une to your Lordships Towne hard by Alnwick called

1 FFarl. MSS. Nos. 6995, fol. 75 and 6996, vol. 115, p. 1.
State Papers. By the Royal Warrant the Earl was relieved from tlie
*hole claim, less about ^200 — probably the court fees and law ex-
enses — as also of " all escheats, seizures and executions on his lands
■' the said sum."



a.d. Rugley, and there brake up the dooers of two of your
15 til 32 Lordships Tenants, and tooke from them xl tl Cattel and
Horse 4. They contynewed in the Towne twoo howers
or thereabouts. The fray came to AInewick towne, the
common Bell was rounge, and there was in S r John
Forsters house many Strangers, that nighte. In his
stable xxx" horsses, as M r Fenwicke, your Lordships
Cunstable, saicth, two bands of footte from Barwicke,
captaine Carvell his fyftie, Captaine Twyford his com-
panie of other fyftie. Yett none rise to the ayde of your
poore Tenants, but two men of S r William Reades, and
one Roger Fenwicke, servant to M rs Bednell, so that the
goods were not rescued.

"And one other of your Lordships Tenants in that
Towne, to whose house they came, was by the Burnes
saved from deathe and spoile, whereuppon the Youngs
quarrelled with the rest ; yett in all this space, noe ayde
came, neyther in the whole cuntrie had they anie helpe.

" The satterday after new yeres daie these Youngs, not
satisfied with there former facte, came with xxv horse and
spoiled the whole towne, save one Salkeld, that married
Richard Forster's syster, kinseman to S r John Forster,
and att that tyme, the cuntrie did rise and by chaunche
did not finde the Trod, so that the cattle went there ways.
This misfortune your Lordships tenants had, and this
smale helpe.

" I beseeche your Lordship acquainte the LLs. herewith,
as I will myself, and lett yt not be kepte from the Queen ;
for yf your Lordship seeke not, according her majesties
Law, to gett remidie for this, the Cuntrie will not rysc
neyther for your Lordships tenants nor the Queens ; and
S r John Forsters fait, a layt wardaine and so well accom-
payned y e firste night, would be agravated to the full for

"Your Lordship may easelie Judge the cause of your



[cnants spoile, and I assure your Lordship M r Fenwicke a n

telleth me, that amonge all your Tenants he cannot show ly '.
me xij able Horses, so pittifull is there Estate, and stand-
cth need of your Lordships present Helpe, all which
refcrringe to your honorable Wisdome. Lamentinge the
^cnerall Misserie Northumberland is fallen into, and like
to contynew yf God rayse not some good meanes dalie
to crave her Majesties gratiouse Ayde and Assistance,
whereof yf your Lordship vouchsafe your Labores your
Lordship shall not onlie strengthen your distressed
Tenants, but gayneworthie Honor which I wishe to your
Lordship, with humble Thankes for your honorable
Libertie for the use of your Lordships House at Alnwicke,
and rest

" Your Lordships assured to comaund,

"Ra: Eure. «
"Hexham, xxix Januarie, 1595 — 96."

The Bishop of Dunbar draws this melancholy picture
of the state of Northumberland : —

" Five thousand Ploughs have been laid down within
25 yeeres, and a number of good men ready to serve the
Queen have been converted to a few men's Benefit. . . .
I he Poor are multiplied, and Hospitality w r hich was
much regarded is greatly decayed. ... If foreign Nations
did not supply Corn the People would starve." 2

1 From the Lord Eure to the Earl of Northumberland. Alnwick MSS.

7 Dr. James, Bishop of Dunbar, to Lord Burghley, May, 1597,
State Papers. The depopulation complained of appears to have been
in great part due to a change in the rural life of England brought about
at this time by the conversion of arable into pasture land, and the con-
sequent destruction of small farms ; — a practice evidently viewed with
disfavour by the Government of the day, since several enactments were
passed to check this tendency, or to mitigate its evil effects.

In the Quarter Sessions Records of the North Riding for the year
1607 we read :

"The tounes undernamed are inclosed and pitifully depopulated.
Maunby by William Middleton about xvi. yeares since ; Gristhwaite by
the late Earl of Northumberland (the eighth Earl) about xxx. yeares

vol. 11. 199


a.d. While his county was reduced to this lamentable

15 4-^ 3 2 condition the Earl of Northumberland, although he was
the first of his family to make Alnwick Castle his chief
residence in the north, showed a marked disinclination
to exercise official authority, or to take that active part in
local administration and defence which had long been
considered as appertaining to his position.

Sir Robert Cecil writes : —

" The Borders are ill-governed, and the Wardens
threatened to be remoued, and, because their Equality
breeds Emulation and Contention, it was offered to the
Earl of Northumberland to be Warden of the Myddle
March, and Lieutenant for the time (to countenance
factions) of the three shires, like to a proposed overture
made by the Scottish King .... to constitute the Duke
of Lennox to be a Superintendant over the residew ;
but my Lord this conceipt hath spent, and we, that love
him, whom he hath seriously importuned to keep him
from it, have now delivered him from the Impositions,
with which he is very well contented ; and joys, I per-
ceive, rather in his pryvate Lyfe, than to be placed from
it soone, when he doubts his Purse will be picked." x

The Earl showed the same indifference to his magis-
terial duties in the South, and is reproached by Lord
Buckhurst for declining to join the justices of Sussex in
searching out certain abuses connected with the ex-
portation of corn and munitions of war from that county,
I being reminded that even though he would not assist
them in their labours, he should at least afford such

since ; North Kilvington by Mr. Mansell." Also that 209 roods of
tilled land on Newsham Moor having been inclosed by the Earl ol
Exeter, the Lord of the Manor, in 1609, the people had pulled down
the wall, for the rebuilding of which a rate was levied upon the parish. —
North Riding Record Society Publications, vol. i. London, 18S3-S4.

1 Sir Robert Cecil to the Earl of Shrewsbury, June, 1597. Talbot
Papers, fol. 415.



.-formation as he possessed on the subject, in order to a i>.
, -vihle them to trace the offenders. 1 »5 f /^_|5-;

lie continued however to be assiduous in his attend-
ance at Court, and in this year accepted a ceremonial
mission to Paris ; 2 but declined a more interesting and
important diplomatic employment.

Nine years had now passed since Henry of Bourbon
had ascended the throne of France, and his Huguenot

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 17 of 31)