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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subjects became clamorous for^ the fulfilment of the
promises he had made them, when King of Navarre, of
toleration for the exercise of their religion. 3 Elizabeth
warmly sympathised with their cause, to urge which, as
well as to hasten the pending negotiations of peace with
Spain, she determined to despatch a special embassy to
Paris, the charge of which was first offered to the Earl
of Northumberland : a strong mark of the royal con-
fidence and favour. For reasons that have not transpired
he prayed to be excused, and the Earl of Shrewsbury
became the representative of England at the formal
promulgation of the famous Edict of Nantes. 4

In the following vear there was once more an alarm
of a Spanish invasion, and defensive operations on a
large scale were set on foot. Camps were formed along

1 Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, to Earl of Northumberland,
-1th February, 1596. Alnwick M SS.

1 " The Earl of Northumberland should be warned beforehand to
Tiake himself ready to go to the French King, and it should be
■"^ccrtained whether he is not to carry the Garter to his Majesty. Sir
Anthony Mildmay should be in readiness to go with the Earl, and to
femain as lieger ambassador." — Lord Burghley to Sir Robert Cecil, 8th
July, 1596. State Papers.

J "The Huguenots were assembled at Loudun with the deputies of
*He Churches, and refused to dissolve their assembly till the king
i^ould perform his promise." — Birch's Queen Elizabeth, vol. ii. 60.

4 "Her Majesty had appointed the Earl of Northumberland to have
,-one as her embassador; but the allegation of his . . . [the word is
illegible] hath excused him, and so the charge is like to be committed to
' ; '-' Karl of Shrewsbury." — Lord Burghley to Earl of Esse::, 25th July,
'5 f A Ibid. 76.



a.d. the coast, and we are told " great Provision is made for
15 4-J 3 2 horse, as being the greater advantage we have, if the
Ennemie come, and the Noblemen about Court have rated
themselves highly." I

The Earl of Northumberland was commissioned
General of Horse ; 2 and it is illustrative of the decay of
the military power of the old English nobility under the
Tudors, that the largest force brought into the field by
any one individual was a troop of two hundred Horse,
while Northumberland, in common with a few others of
his rank and standing, is praised for his munificence in
contributing one hundred horsemen.

In spite of Elizabeth's well-known aversion to any
discussion on the subject of an heir to the English
throne, the prospect of a disputed succession caused so
much uneasiness in the public mind, that it was formally
proposed in Parliament that the Queen should be
petitioned to nominate her successor. No sooner did
this come to her ears than she caused the darine members
of the House of Commons who had proposed and
seconded this resolution to be committed to the Fleet
Prison. 3 This high-handed proceeding, however, only
served to increase the agitation, and to cause those most
nearly allied to the royal house to marshal their forces ;
while parties were formed to establish and support the
claims of their favourite competitors for the Crown.

The great-grand nephew of Henry VIII., King James
of Scotland, though an alien, was now the nearest male
heir to the English throne, but Elizabeth had persistently
refused to acknowledge him as such. The will under


1 Chamberlain's Letters. Camden Society's Publications, No. LXXIX.
a Rowland White to Sir Robert Sidney, 4th August, 1599. Sidney
Papers, vol. ii. p. 112.

3 Hume's Hist, of England, vol. iv. 115.



which Henry had settled the succession on the daughters a.d. 1599

o( his sister, the Duchess of Suffolk, having been set

aside as illegal, the nomination of the future sovereign

rested, within recognised limits, absolutely with the

Oueen, whose choice, it was understood, would be as

a matter of course affirmed by Parliament. Whether,

as was generally asserted, from a morbid repugnance

to contemplate her own death, or, as is more probable,

from a jealous apprehension that her subjects might turn

from her to worship the rising power, Elizabeth refused

to discuss the question or to hint at a preference.

A contemporary pamphlet 1 cites no less than twelve
eligible claimants for the crown. Foremost among these,
and second only to James VI. of Scotland, stands the
Lady Arabella, 2 the only child of Charles Stuart, younger
brother to Darnley, the father of James VI. ; and eighth
on the list is the name of the Earl of Northumber-
land, as lineal descendant from Mary Plantagenet, grand-
daughter of Edward Crouchback, described as the eldest
brother of Henry III.

It is by no means improbable that the proud and
ambitious Percy may have indulged in the dream of a
crown which, by uniting his claims to the more powerful
title of the Lady Arabella, would have been brought
within measurable distance of his reach. Certain it is
that the rumours of such an alliance now revived.

A significant State paper on this subject has been

"Certen Notes of Remembrance owt of y e ex-
aminacons of H. Walpoole, Jhon Boust, and

1 The State of England, Anno Domini 1600, by Thomas Wilson.
See Appendix YIII.a.

3 Born in 1577. She was still a child when by her father's death she
succeeded to his name and great possessions.



a.d. " It appeareth amongst diuerse seditious libells w ch arc

1564-1632 now j n t j ie f or g e a broad, thear is in hand a treatise com-
piled by fa. Persons [Father Parsons ?] of all y e Com-
petitors to y e Crowne of England and their Titles and
pretenses. Of which booke speciall Caueat would be
gyuen that no such be dispersed hear as that which is
most apt to breed seditious whisperings and expectations.
... It should seame there is some ey abroad and some
project of contryuing a match between y e Erl of North-
umberland and y e La Arbella ; not that there appeareth
any practise thereof on this side, but if they abroad
conceyue it to be apt for y r purpose, at one tyme or other,
they will sett the traffique a foote, and therefore more ey
would be had vpon it." 1

There was no chance, however, of the union of two
such powerful subjects being tolerated by Lord Burghley,
who had his own projects to carry out, nor by the jealous
Queen, who had a summary way of dealing with high-
born lovers bent upon matrimony in opposition to her
policy or wishes. Not only had she peremptorily forbid
the banns, and placed the young lady under close re-
straint, 1 but she had taken the precaution of providing the
Earl of Northumberland with another and, as she con-
ceived, more suitable wife. This was Dorothy, daughter
of Walter Devereux, first Earl of Essex, and widow of
Sir Thomas Perrott, 3 who had settled a large jointure

1 Original State Papers, Record Office. Dotn. Eliz?, vol. 235.
No. 19.

3 It will be remembered that James, profiting by Elizabeth's example
when in 16 10 the Lady Arabella privately married Lord Beauchamp's
son, sentenced her to pass her married life in close and solitary con-
finement in the Tower, where she died, bereft of reason, in 1615.

3 Son of the famous John Perrott, Lord Deputy of Ireland, who, after
a long life of brave and faithful service under the Crown, only escaped
the scaffold by a lingering death in the Tower. He was reputed to have
been a natural son of Henry VIII. Sir Thomas Perrott had served
under his father in the Irish Wars, and in 1590 succeeded Sir George



ur)on her ; but this was declared to have been invali- a.d.
il.ited by his father's attainder and the confiscation of T 595^599
his estate by the Crown. Elizabeth, to make the
marriage more acceptable to Northumberland, had con-
sented to forego her claim to the property contained in
the settlement ; but Coke, the Attorney-General, and
Lord Burghley clung obstinately to the legal rights of the
Crown, against which the Queen must have shown but
little disposition to enforce her authority, for the case long
continued the subject of litigation and angry discussion. 1
In these circumstances the marriage, which took
place in 1595, had only served to increase the Earl's
pecuniary embarrassments, while the clashing of two
violent tempers produced the usual results. Unfor-
tunately the lady was addicted to seeking redress for
domestic grievances out of doors, and to carrying her
complaints to various friends. We find her in correspon-
dence on the subject of her family troubles with the Queen,
Sir Francis Bacon, 2 and Lord Burghley, while, to make

Carew as Master of the Ordnance. His marriage with the Lady Dorothy
gave great offence to her family. It had been a runaway match, and
the ceremony was performed by an unknown minister officiating under
a special licence, irregularly granted ; while armed men stood at the
church door to prevent interruption. — See Strype's Life of Aylmer,
p. 217. (Edition, 1S21.)

1 "I heare that what troubles him [the Earl of Essex] greatly, is
certain lands of Sir John Perrot's which is now again called in question,
for the Queen who, since his death, by due course of law was adjudged
to be the right of my lady Northumberland and her daughter [by
her former husband]. Mr. Coke is said to be the occasion of it." —
Rowland White to Sir Robert Sydney, 21st February, 1596. Sydney
fiipers, ii. p. 18. The litigation was a lengthy one, for we read that three
years later :

" The Lady Northumberland was in [at] Court ; she spoke with the
Queen, complained of the little means she had to live and besought
Her Majesty's favour." — The same to the same, 12th January, 1599.
Jbid. ii. p. 159.

2 See a letter of condolence and advice from Bacon in reply to one
'mm the Lady Northumberland, dated 9th July, 1600, in Birch's
Queen Elizabeth.



ad. matters yet worse, she ostentatiously took the side of her
15 4^ 3 2 brother Essex in political questions, in direct opposition
to her husband. 1

It is not surprising to find that within four years < f
their marriage they had been two or three times

*' Yesternight, somewhat late, the Countess of North-
umberland came to Essex House. A muttering there is
that there is unkindness grown between her and the Earl
her husband upon which they are parted." '

At one time we are told : —

" My Lord Northumberland is reconciled with his
lady, for which [the rupture] he was a while in disgrace
in higher place." 3

And a few months later : —

" I heard the Earl of Northumberland lives apart
again from his lady now she hath brought him an heir,
which he said was the solder of their reconcilement.
She lives at Sion with the child, being otherwise of
a very melancholy spirit." 4

Their first-born child had died in infancy ; 5 two
daughters followed, 6 and then a second son, who lived

1 Lord Henry Howard describes a scene between the Earl and his
wife on the subject of the claims of King James VI. to the English
throne, and concludes ; " Thus being newly reconciled which was not in
more two years, before they departed in passion." — Lord Henry Howard
to Mr. Edward Bruce, 4th December, 1601. Secret Correspondent
with King James the Sixth. Edinburgh, 1766. p. 31.

2 Rowland White to Sir Robert Sydney, 16th October, 1599. Sydney
Papers, ii. p. 133.

3 Dudley Carleton to John Chamberlain, 5th January, 1602. State

4 Dudley Carleton to John Chamberlain, November, 1602. Harl.
MSS. 5353. The Earl of Northumberland at this time held Syon
House on a lease from the Crown.

5 " My Lord of Northumberland is much grieved at the death of the
Lord Percy, his sonne." — Rowland White to Sir Rob. Sydney, 2nd June,
1597. Sydney Papers, vol. ii. p. 55.

6 Lord Henry Howard, whose statements, however, must be accepted
with caution, asserts that the Earl had told Cecil that "he had much



; .it a short time. 1 The third son, Algernon, the future a.d.
Lord High Admiral, was born in 1602 and is the r 595^599
, |)jld referred to in the foregoing paragraph.

As time passed, however, their domestic relations im-
proved, and when adversity overtook the Earl, she proved
herself an affectionate, if not always a very judicious, wife.

There was too much in common in the natures of
Essex and Northumberland to allow of their occupying
the same sphere without collision. Both were proud,
fearless, generous, ambitious, and impulsive ; and before
long the divergence in their political views caused an
open breach between them. During the first few years
of the marriage, however, they appear to have lived on
very friendly terms, and when Essex fell into displeasure,
and having had his ears boxed by his capricious Queen,
and been bid to " Go, hang thyself," had retired from
Court, Northumberland maintained an affectionate corre-
spondence with him, and used his best efforts to restore
him to the royal favour.

From the following somewhat enigmatical letter we
gather that Essex at this time already entertained designs
of opening negotiations with the Scottish King : —

"Worthy Brother,

" Your trusty Ambassador made as much haste
as if the affair had imported the Peace of England
with Spain. My Return hath been the slower, for that
I knew he and his Horse were both weary, wherein

ado to love his own daughters because they were of that generation " [the
Kssex blood], and that the secretary had consoled him with the
assurance that "they might turn out like himself" rather than like his
wife. — See Secret Correspondence with King James the Sixth, p. 32.

"The Countess of Northumberland, always reputed a very honorable
and virtuous lady, is brought to bed of a goodly boy who, God grant,
j»ay resemble her, and inherit as well his mother's and'his noble uncle's',
her most worthy brother's, virtues as his father's antient nobility." — Sir
rrancis Bacon to his mother, June, 1600. Birch's Queen Elizabeth.



a.d. I did a deed of Charity. Your lordship, though in .
15 4-i 3 2 g rea ter matter, must do the like in helping Jades that are
tired in their courses, which willingly would lie in ti
Ditch to be freed from farther spurring. I can gath< r
that this is necessary out of your Sentence, 'major par
vicit melioremi because they will follow great uncertain
Kings to lose true friends; or else they will embrace their
own wills, to neglect Argument and Reasons that were
more forcible.

" If I conjecture amiss, pardon my Error; if rightly, it
is no Wonder; for it is apparent to every weak Under-
standing. I do wish, for the Sfood of the State, that it
be not hurt for their Hopes in the one, and by Malice an.:
private respects in the other; and so put honest men to
a greater plunge hereafter. You may expect nothing
from this poor End of the World but the faithful Love oi
a Brother, and the Service of a true Friend to be recom-
mended, which is ever at your Disposition.


a " 1

The next letter is more intelligible : —


11 Noble Brother,

" I long to know whether we shall have you a
Countryman long, or a Courtier shortly. We, that are
your Friends, are impatient at the delays ; all th< -
service we can do for you at present. What shall I say
but that still I am at your Devotion ? Many word*
are idle, howsoever meant, so long as there wants means
in me to demonstrate them otherwise. Therefore, wishing
you no worse than to my own Soul, I rest,

" Your faithful Brother in whom you have all Power,

" Northumberland." 1

1 Earl of Northumberland to Earl of Essex, Petworth, 8th May, if''"
Birch's Queen Elizabeth, vol. ii. p. ^2.

3 The Same to the Same, 16th August, 159S. Ibid. p. 391.



Lady Northumberland appears to have been more ab- Ab-
sorbed in her own troubles than in those of her brother : — 5 — D

" I long to know how you will dispose of yourself in
this froward World, which yields nothing but Discontent-
ments, and the more to them that are apt to receive them,
among which number I wish I were not. But I will
seek to put it from me as much as possible, though I
never look but to have cause sufficient. I will no longer
trouble you with my melancholy style, but end in wishing
you all Contentment.

" Your most affectionate Sister,

" D. N d ." '

Towards the end of the year the Queen relented
towards her favourite and, contrary to the advice of
her Council, acceded to his prayer to be entrusted with
the command of the army dispatched to Ireland for the
suppression of Tyrone's rebellion, which had assumed
formidable dimensions owing to the material support
afforded by the King of Spain.

Essex, with the commission of Lord Lieutenant, em-
barked in the spring of 1599; but, with all his love of
military adventure and his indomitable courage, he proved
to be utterly wanting in generalship ; and, after an abor-
tive campaign, in the course of which the enemy and
the climate had reduced his magnificent army of twenty
thousand men to nearly one half their number, he re-
turned to England to justify himself against his numerous
enemies and his incensed mistress.

Two of the Earl of Northumberland's brothers,
Charles and Richard, 2 had been for some time engaged

1 Countess of Northumberland to same. Birch's Queen Elizabeth,
vol. ii. p. 391.

a Another brother. George, was one of the " Adventurers " who accom-
panied Raleigh to Virginia. He also had served in the Low Country
ft ars, where he lost one of his hngers, as appears in his picture at Syon
House. He died in 1632.

VOL. II. 209 P


a.d. in these wars, and honourable mention of both names
J 5 4-i 3 2 f frequent occurrence in the official reports.

In the disastrous action at Blackvvater, in August i 59S
when the Marshal, Sir Henry Bagnall, was slain with
1,500 of his men, Colonel Charles Percy, in comman I
of the vanguard, had materially assisted in keeping tl.
enemy in check after their victory, and in protectino- the
retreat by a masterly manoeuvre. In the following year
Essex appointed him to lead the assault upon Cahir Castle,
which he carried, after gallantly repelling a sortie in
force from the garrison; and in an action near Dundalk.
which the Lord Deputy described as " one of the greatest
skirmishes in this kingdom," he is reported to have
completely overthrown the rebels, who, in overpowerin .;
numbers, had attacked his regiment i n front and on
both flanks. 1

Sir Richard no less distinguished himself in these
wars. He was in command of Kinsale when the
Spaniards under Acquila invaded Minister, and although
his garrison did not exceed 150 men, he made an
obstinate defence, and finally succeeded in effecting his
retreat without loss. On Lord Mountjoy's assumption < :
the command, in succession to Essex, Richard Percy
solicited the duty of recapturing the place, and success-
fully carried it by assault. 2

Though somewhat out of chronological order, a few
extracts from correspondence relating to this excellent
soldier may here be quoted.

He appears to have claimed the intercession of .1
friejid at Court on his behalf for military advancement,
and for some compensation for losses incurred in the
course of his service in Ireland : —

"The rebels have made me so poor by intercept!:'.:

1 For these and other details see Carew MSS. ; also Fynes Moryson
Itinerary, pp. 26 and 66. * Ibid. p. ij"-


my carriages that I shall now have to begin the world a.d.

' . ii ! l soo-1602

., Mill. DJ —

'Hie suit having been referred to Sir Robert Cecil, he
writes to the Master-General :

*• My beloved George, I have written to your worthy
Deputy, that he will confer upon Sir Richard Percy the
•Lice of a Colonel, which he may now do without breach
of instructions, because his army riseth in the list. You
know how much I love and honour the noble Earl, who,
notwithstanding his obligation in former times to those
who esteemed us as Jews, did ever love us for the
Truth's sake. Whereof, because I am well acquainted
with the interest he hath in your Affection, I think it
superfluous to say more of this request than this : that it is
very reasonable in all men's opinions, the Merit of the
gentleman considered, and that you must use your best
Assistance in the Motion, and, in all such Occasions as
run within your Circle, make our noble Friend perceive
that we are willing to advance his good Desires." 2

Lord Mountjoy showed all readiness to befriend one of
whose merits he was not ignorant : —

" I pray send Sir Richard Percy to me presently, for I
intend that he shall have a Regiment of those men that
are now come over, and there must be immediate care
taken of them, for they are very raw." 3

Sir Richard, however, came to England in person to
prosecute his claim.

" I have according to your desire," writes Cecil, " pre-
sented this gentleman, Sir Richard Percy, to her Majesty,
^nd withal used those Arguments for her Acceptation of

' Sir Richard Percy to Mr. Edmund Wilson, April, 1602.
Alnwick MSS.

1 Secretary Cecil to Sir George Carew, 13th October, 1602.
CaUnd. Carerc MSS., vol. iv. p. 152.

3 The Lord Deputy Mountjoy to Secretary Cecil, 16th November,
:6 °2. Ibid. vol. ii. p. 162.

211 P 2


a.d. him which your clear testimony so largely confirmed,
1564-^632 j_j e mac ] e me not acquainted with any other Suits of his,
for, if he had, you know so well my Affection to the E
as I should not have sticked to the uttermost of m\
power. To conclude, Sir, Her Majesty hath used him
very graciously, and recommendeth him back again f r
one, who by his orderly following in the Wars, as w< 1]
as in his Courage, may be noted for an Example of this
difference, when a Gentleman of a noble House, and
others, that care but to make Merchandise of the War,
are employed." "

The suit languished, however, as far as it related to the
modest claim for pecuniary compensation, for in the
following year Richard Percy wrote to his friend :

''You have been eight weeks a Courtier and you have.
I doubt not, learned a Courtiers lesson ; which is to bear-
brazen Face, and not to be put out of Countenance witl
three or four Denyals. Please sue well, and forget n I
the 50/. Land, in Fee simple or Fee farm.

'• There is a flying Report of certain Dukes, Marquise
and Earls to be created, amongst whom my Lonl
Northumberland is nominated. Of this, and all other
Occurrences, let me be partaker.'' 2

The opportunity of witnessing war on a large scale, at
this time, drew numbers of England's most adventurer^
spirits to the Low Countries, where many of our youn : ;
nobles enrolled themselves as volunteers.

"My Lords of Northumberland, Rutland, and Mount-
eagle have leave from Her Majesty to goe see this Service,
and very speedily they will be with you, for they arc
now preparing Horse and Furniture . . . and . . • m>

1 Secretary Cecil to Sir George Carew, 3rd January, i6e.;.
Calend. Carezv AfSS., vol. iv. p. 398.

2 Sir Richard Percv to Mr. Edmund Wilson, Cork, 26th February
1603.4. Almvick MSS.

21 2



Lord Northumberland bought here at Court six faire a.d
Horses, and paid well for them."'

They were shortly after joined by Lord Cobham and
Sir Walter Raleigh, and found their way into Ostend,
then undergoing that memorable siege which, if she kept
her vow, must have caused the Archduchess Isabella of
Spain, as well as her ladies-in-waiting, considerable
inconvenience. 2

Sir Francis Vere, rigidus ad milium, as old Fuller
describes him, 3 was in chief command of the English
forces; and the best soldiers of England, including his
brother Horace, 4 the Sidneys, and Sir John Norris, served
under his orders.

It seems to have been generally believed that North-
umberland and his companions were not mere amateurs
in this expedition, but that they were charged with a
secret mission, relating to the concessions demanded by
Spain on behalf of the English Catholics, as a condition
to the conclusion of peace :

" I hear their journey was not altogether idle, but that
they carried some message which did no harm." 5

This supposition is confirmed rather than weakened
by the pains taken by Cecil to explain that it was un-
founded :

" I have little more, therefore, at this time to trouble

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 18 of 31)