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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you withal, only I think good to preoccupate with you
another Circumstance if they hear it, which is the going

1 Rowland White to Sir Robert Sydney, 23rd June, 1600. Sydney
Papers, vol. ii. p. 203.

2 So much importance was attached to the capture of Ostend that
the Archduchess had solemnly vowed not to change her linen until the
place should fail. The siege occupied three years and four months, and
cost the Spaniards over one hundred thousand men.

3 Worthies of England, vol. i. p. 35 r.

4 Afterwards created Lord Vere of Tilbury.

5 Sir Henry Neville to Ralph Wmwood, 23rd July, 1600. Wihweod's
Memorials of Affairs of State, vol. i. p. 23 t.

2 1 X


a.d. over of my Lord of Northumberland and my Lord oi
15 £2. 32 Rutland, and now my Lord Cobham and Sir Walter
Raleigh. Of whom, if they speak but not otherwise, y, . .
may use this argument : that they have no charge, nor
carried either horse or man, but some half a dozen of
their own; but, finding the Queen is so resolved to have
Peace (if good conditions could be had), they obtained
leave with importunity to see this one Action, before they
should become desperate of seeing any more of that
kynde in Her Majesty's Tyme." '

There was just now, however, a temporary lull in the
military operations on both sides :

" The likelihood of those cold Wars makes the Earls
of Northumberland, Rutland, and Grey, to repent their
journey, being half in mind to go into France, where
there is some appearance of a War, whereby Spain may
be lapped into the quarrel." 2

". ... It is bruited that the Earl of Northumberland
either is, or will be, sent for to go from Her Majesty to
the French King, to congratulate his Marriage, and
victorious proceedings against the Duke of Savoy." 3


* *

It was at this time that the Earl en^a^ed as his
secretary, a gentleman who became warmly attached to
him through life ; and whose correspondence with John
Chamberlain and others, throws much light upon the
history of the period. 4

1 Sir Robert Cecil to the Commissioners for the Treaty of Boulogne
14th July, 1600. IVinwood's Memorials, vol. i. p. 215.

3 Sir Robert Cecil to Sir George Carew, 29th August, 1600. CalenJ.
Carew JfSS., vol. iii. p. 436.

3 Rowland White to Sir Robert Sydney, 26th August, 1600. Sydney
Papers, vol. ii. p. 213.

* Dudley Carieton rose to the highest offices under the Crown,
becoming a Privy Councillor and Secretary of State, and was ultima!
raised to the peerage under the title of Viscount Dorchester. He du •
in 163 r, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.



Sir Calisthenes Brook " writes to Dudley Carleton a.d.

/• , . 1G00-1601
in loo i :

" I have spoken of you to the Earl of Northumber-
land, who is too wise to promise anything ; but he would
gladly take you as his principal Secretary. I think you
may venture with him. I was with him at the taking
of Berghen and the siege of Ostend, which is not likely
to be taken, but he has gone to England now/' 2

The Earl himself writes :

"You say Mr. Carleton wishes to serve me. I am
obliged by his good opinion, but have little means of
doing him good. I have no office under Her Majesty,
and am no Privy Counsellor, and cannot advance him
to my liking out of my fortunes ; but if he still wishes
to abide the hazard of such fortunes as I run, if they be
good his share will be better; if nought, he is like to
thrive the worse. If he were my brother I could give
him no sounder counsel." 3

At the end of the year Dudley Carleton writes to his
friend John Chamberlain :

"Lord Northumberland uses me with much favor.
He is gone to Syon House and means to live privately,
to recover his last year's expences in the Low Countries
and to provide for another journey the next." 4

Elizabeth had begun to grudge the heavy charges
upon the exchequer which her support of the United
Provinces involved, and was more than ever anxious for

1 A distinguished soldier who had been General of Horse under
Essex in Ireland. 2 State Papers.

3 Earl of Northumberland to Sir Calisthenes Brook, oth fulv, 1601.

* Ibid. The cost of these expeditions was great, for the Earl thought
it due to his rank and position to be magnificently equipped and accom-
panied by a large retinue. In a memorandum relating to his accounts
we find the following entry: "Earl of Northumberland in the Low
Countries for 2,1 weeks, in i6co and 1601, Expenses ^4018 igs. t\d.\
besides jQwzi i&r. \od. for purchase of horses."— Alnwick MSS.



a.d. the conclusion of peace with Spain ; but the negotiation.
15 4-i 3 2 ma d e but little progress.

"There is no talk here of peace or war," writes North
umberland from Court; ''we are all in charity and free
from faction, and, according to that old fashion at home,
delays are in as high estimation as ever." x

In an age when the blow was too often the answer to
the word, it is not surprising that a man with the temper
of the Earl of Northumberland should frequently have
been engaged in what it was in those days already the
fashion to describe as " affairs of honour," and we have
here an illustration of the punctilio of the duel in
Elizabeth's reio-n.

Sir Francis Bacon having inquired as to the founda-
tion of certain rumours relating to a quarrel with the
Earl of Southampton, who was alleged to have spoken
disparagingly of Northumberland, the latter gives this
account of the transaction : —

" Lord Southampton 2 sent to me a gentleman with his
rapier, which seeing I embraced him, saying that if he
brought a challenge I accepted it beforehand. His
answers were that he did not ; only he brought his rapier,
which the night before he promised to send, without
appointing time and place that same day. My reply was
that Southampton had not a novice in hand. I knew
well when I was before or behind in points of honor ; and
therefore I had nothing to say farther, unless I were
challenged. After his departure he returned within the
space of [a half hour and brought me a challenge

1 Earl of Northumberland to Dudley Carleton at the Hague, 6th April,
1 60 1. State Papas.

2 Henry Wriorhesley, third Earl of Southampton. He was implicated
in Essex's conspiracy, and very narrowly escaped the fate of his asso-
ciate. He appears to have been weak and devoid of judgment in
public life, but is honourably known as the patron and friend of



absolutely ; but in mine opinion stuffed with strange a.d

conditions, for he would both have assigned the place
.1 the time, and have chosen the rapier single, because
his arm was hurt with the ballon. My reply was that
I knew that the Earl played not with his left hand, and
lhat I would stay to press him till his arm were well.
Afterwards I would appoint everything apt in such a case
But within one hour after, Her Majesty's commandment

i 600-1602

was laid upon us with the bond of allegiance. We went
to Court, where we were called before the Lords. The
conclusion was this : that they assured of their honours
ihey knew that he had not spoken those words ; which
afterwards he affirmed. My answer was, that I rather be-
lieved their lordships than any other ; and therefore the lie
I had given was nothing ; and so revoked he his challenge,
and we made friends. This is the end of an idle tale." '

More serious was the Earl's next quarrel, which, although
it came to be unduly raised into historical importance, is
interesting as an illustration not only of the manners of
those times, but of the character and temper of the parties.

As General-in-chief Sir Francis Vere necessarily ex-
acted strict discipline and subordination on the part of
the volunteers who joined his army ; and he may possibly
have exercised his authority with excessive severity.
On the other hand, it is evident that some of the young
nobles, who found their way to the Low Countries to
see fighting, showed themselves indisposed to yield im-
plicit obedience to a Commander of inferior social rank. 2

1 Birch's Queen Elizabeth, vol. ii. p. 274.

3 There are several indications of such feeling in the correspondence
0' those times ; among others :

" The Lord Grey prepares to go into the Low Countries and to have
'"C command of a troop of three or four hundred Horse. . . . He stood
at first upon some punctilios to be commanded by Sir Francis Vere, but
s nce, they be agreed and become good friends." — Chamberlain to
Dudley Carleton, 8th May, 1602. Chamberlain's Letters, p. 131.

2 17


a.d. Between him and Northumberland there had ahead-,

1564-1632 existed some previous ill-feeling, as we learn from o;
of Cecil's letters : —

" For the point you touch concerning the Earl 1
Northumberland and Sir Francis Vere, there was nev< r
any such matter; only being both given to emulation
there grew some dryness between them at the Eari'
being last in the Low Countries, fed by some of their
followers, but never growing to more than reserved-
ness. Since this, Sir Francis Vere chanced, as he lay,
in his return some months since to the Low Countries,
to be windbound at Yarmouth, until the Earl of North-
umberland, who was likewise to pass over unto the Low
Countries, came into that town. Sir Francis Vere visited
him, but in a dry form, saying that as they were both in
a town, although otherwise he would not have troubled
him, he thought good to visit him. The Earl replied
he was sorry he had troubled both himself and him,
seeing he might thank the wind for his courtesy, and
so they parted." 1

About the same time Chamberlain had written that there
were rumours that "at a banquet in the Low Countries
the Erie o^ Northumberland had stroken him (Sir Francis
Vere), whereas it is most certain that they have not met
there since their last going over." 2

Again we are told that the Earl, having put a question
to the great commander on a military question, he ha 1
" answered him home." 3

It was some time after this that Northumberland
called Vere to account for certain expressions reflect-
ing upon his character which he was reported to have

1 Secretary Cecil to Lord Burghley, 15th July, 1601. State Paters.

2 Chamberlain to Carleton, Sth July, 1601. Chamberlain's Lett .

P- II2 ' 3 Jbid. p. 12 6.

. 2lS


uttered,' and not receiving a satisfactory explanation, a.d. 1602
he addressed to him the following challenge :


" I told you at Ostend y l then was noe fitt tyme
to expostulate matters ; now I hold it proper to call you
to accompt for those wronges I have heard you have
done me. You love to take y e air and ride abroad.
Appoint, therfore, a place "betyme to your owne likinge,
y l I may meet you : Bringe you a friend w th you, I
will be accompaneyd w th another y c shall be wittnes to
y e thinges I will lay to your charge. If you satisfye me
we will be good Friendes ; if not, we will doe as God
shall put into our myndes. I wyll eschew all bitter
wordes as unfitt for men of our occupation. Seeke not
by frivolous shiftes to divert this course of satisfaction ;
for all other means than this y' I have proscribed, I shall
take as an affirmacon of y* I have heard, which will cause
me to proceed in righting myselfe as the wronges require.
Make me no replyes by letters, but send me your minde
by this Bearer directly, whether you will or will not,
for from me you shall have no more. Give no cause of
noyse in the world to hinder this course least you baffle
your own reputacon. Whatsoever else I shall doe in this
just cause of offence, fewer wordes I could not have used
to have exprest my mynde." 2

This peremptory missive was conveyed by the hands
of one Captain Whitlock, who demanded a verbal reply,

1 Sir Francis Vere emphatically denied having in any way wronged
the Earl's reputation, asserting that "those sinister reports" were made
"by base and factious persons," to whom the Earl was to be blamed for
giving credence.

2 From the Earl of Northumberland to "the Valorous and worthy
Capt. S r Francis Vere, L. Governor of the Brill and Commander of y e
Kng.lish Forces under the States," 24th April. 1602. This letter and
the ensuing correspondence on the some subject are transcribed or
extracted from the Harleian MSS. No. 787, fob 62*.

2 19


a.d. but was told by Vere that " upon such a subjecte as that
1564-1632 wag ne cou ld not soe suddainlye gyve aunswere;" but on
the following morning Sir Francis sent Captain Ogle to
the Earl with this letter :

" Your Lordshipp requyred in the letter sent me by
Captayne \\ nitlocke that I should retourne a directs
aunswere by worde of mouthe to the contents, which nr
the instance I forebore, the matter beinge of momente,
and not to bee resolved of soe suddainly. And nowe, for
good respects, I chose rayther to lett your Lordshipp to
knowe my mynde by writinge, than by any man's reporte.

" If your Lordship's meaninge be, by the meetinge
you appoynte, to drawe a verball satisfaction from mee,
in the objections you are to make, the manner of the
meetinge, in my opinion, is not the best ; in regard that
truthe delivered, where swordes might bee drawn, is
subjecte to hard construction, which I desire to avoyde.
Your Lordshipp shall therefore be pleased to nominate
some fitt place for communication, whither I will repayre
with much Willingness, to cleare myselfe of havinge
given your Honnour the first cause of offence, for Truthes
sake, for the Respect of your Greatness requyred, and
for that I despise private Combatinge, especially att this
Tyme, that I am ingaged in soe greate and important an
action as your Lordshipp knoweth.

" This course, rejected by your Lordshipp, I shall not
leave to follow the occasion that drew mee [over], with the
poor Trayne attendinge me ordinarilye ; confident that
your Lordshipp will attempte noethinge unfitting your-
self upon mee, that have alwayes lived in good Reputation,
and am descended from a Grandfather of your owne
Ranke." ■

1 Sir Francis de Vere to the Earl of Northumberland, Alder?gate
Street, 25th April, 1602. The writer was the grandson of John clc
Vere, sixteenth Earl of Oxford,



The Ear], haying refused to receive this communication, a.d. 1602
and insisted upon a verbal reply, Captain Ogle read out
the contents; and Sir Francis subsequently consented to
meet his adversary at any place he chose to name, " soe
he might have some gentleman qualliffyed, such as
Sir Edward Stafford," to be a witness to whatever should
take place.

To this the Earl objected that such men would be " like
enough to acquaynt the Oueene and Councill, if they
sawe any differences betwixte them both, that might
breed further contention, and bringe them under the
power of Her Majesty's commandmente, by their in-
formation or ... . hinder them for goinge together
into the Field if either partye should have just cause
soe to doe .... and because he held Sir Francis
for a gallant gentleman and a worthye Commander, hee
was resolved to deal with him in the style of a soldier ;
and, to bee short, lest Sir Francis Vere should in his
scoffinge vayne save, that he knewe howe to handle a
Lord, hee would not accepte of statesmen (civilians),
but willed Captayne Ogle to tell him that hee would
be stedfast to his first designe to bringe with him
a gentleman and a soldier, over whose sworde hee was
assured hee had absolute authoritye for the tyme and in
this matter betwixt them two, and could command him
in honorable courtesye not to drawe, but only to be
witness of their conference and appoyntment, lest Sir
Francis Vere, or himselfe, after they were parted, should
saye more or lesse of each other than indeed had been
said." On Sir Francis declining this proposition the
Earl desired Captain Ogle to inform him that " hee was
thoroughly persuaded that hee had done him these
wronges which hee meant to laye to his charge, and that
hee would laye upp this injurious dealinge in his hearte and
righte himselfe thereafter as hee should think fitt." At

11 j


a.d. this juncture Sir Noel Caron, Agent in England for the
15 4-* 3 2 Low Countries, having become acquainted with the pro-
ceedings, reported the matter to the Queen, who laid h< 1
commands upon the Earl " to forbeare any action against
Sir Francis Vere, att that instant employed in her service,
which commandment hee, in all humility, did accept of,"
protesting, however, that " Sir Francis Vere was a knave
and cowarde, and that in fleeringe and gearinge like a
common buffoon, would wronge men of all conditions, and
had neyther the honestye or the courage to satisfye any.'

This denunciation he caused to be published in English,
French, and Italian, whereupon Sir Francis replied :

" Because I refused to meete you, uppon your per-
emptorye and foolishe summons, you conclude mee, in a
discourse sent abroade under your Name, to bee a knave,
a coward, and a buffoone; wheruppon you have procured
mee to set aside all Respecte to your person, and to
saye that 'You are a most lyinge and unworthy Lord.*
You are bounde by Her Majestye's commandmente not
to assayle mee, and I, by the Business committed to
mee, not to seeke you. When you shall bee freer, as
God shall make us meete, I will maintayn it with my
sworde." r

It must be allowed that Sir Francis Vere had from first
to last the best of the quarrel, and acquitted himself with
a temper and dignity in which his adversary proved sadly
deficient. 2

1 John Chamberlain sums up this part of the story very succinctly :
" Mons r Charon, en ayant senty le vent, went and informed the Quene
of it, who sent expresse charge to the Erie upon his alleagaunce not to
molest Sir Francis any way, for that she had special service to employ
him in. The Erie obeyed, but sent Her Majestie word she shold find
Sir Francis a knave, a coward, and a buffon, which comming to -'" r
Francis's eare he gives out that the Erie is a liar and a base minded man."
Chamberlain's Letters, p. 132.

3 This was evidently the prevalent opinion on the subject : " North-
umberland is unhappy, for both Court and Town exclaim against his

22 2


By the failure of his Irish campaign and, yet more, by a.d. 1601
his repeated disobedience to the Queen's commands, and
his return to England without her permission, Essex had
" again fallen into disgrace. Arraigned before the Privy
Council to answer to grave imputations upon his conduct
of the war, he was stripped of his military appointments,
and committed a prisoner to his own house. Finding

I Elizabeth obdurate to his passionate appeals, and smart-
\n<? under the insulting manner with which she received
the most humble offers of submission, his impatient
temper drove him into defiance, and finally into open
rebellion. He made proposals to the Scottish King to

(place him upon the throne of England, by means of the
army ; surrounded himself with bands of notorious mal
contents and, after a futile attempt to raise the city of
London in his favour, expiated his criminal folly upon 21st
the scaffold. February.

Among those who had joined him in his mad enter-
prise were Sir Charles, and Sir Jocelyn Percy, but after
some months' imprisonment in the Tower they were,
through their brother's intercession, liberated on payment
of a fine of .£500. *

indiscretion for challenging a great Commander of the State at such a
time as without breach of duty he could not, nor might not, answer him."
— Lord Henry Howard to Mr. Edward Bruce, April 1602. Secret
Correspondence with James VI.

From this passage in Sully's Memoirs it would appear that after
Elizabeth's death the Earl took the first opportunity of revenging himself
upon his adversary : —

' " The conversation of the Court turned entirely upon the disputes and
quarrels which happened between particular persons. The Earl of
Northumberland struck Colonel Vere in the presence of the whole
Court and was confined in Lambeth by the King's (James I.) order, who
*as justly offended at so disrespectful and outrageous an insult." — -
Book xvi. sub. anno, 1603. There is no mention, however, of any such
occurrence in contemporary English Histories or Correspondence.

1 Ftvdera, torn. xvi. p. 452. The Statement in one of Lord Henry
Howard's letters (Secret Correspondence, p. 32) that the Earl was
only desirous to have a son in order to exclude his brothers, "whom


a.d. The Earl of Northumberland had long since ostein ;

15 JZl ^ 2 tiously dissociated himself from the political tactics .
Essex, and had indeed latterly, bv countenancing tl
factions of Raleigh and Cobham, become the dirc< 1
antagonist of his policy.

In this he was probably to some extent actuated by .
spirit of opposition to his wife, who, after her brother'
disgrace and execution, had vehemently espoused the
cause of King James. 1

It was not long, however, before a change came over
the Earl's political views, and that he too began to look
northward for the rising sun.

None knew better than Northumberland, living, as he
did, much at Court, that in spite of her brave efforts
to conceal her growing infirmities from the public eye,
Elizabeth's glorious reign was drawing to a close.
He was in personal attendance upon her, during her
last " Progress," and writes from Sir William Clarke'.-^
house at Burnham : —

" Wednesday night the Queen was not well, but would
not be known of it, for the next day she walked abro;: i
in the Park lest any should take notice of it. . . . The day
of the remove Her Majesty rode on horseback all the way,

he hates damnably, and protesteth to some of his friends that, next t
his wife, he abhorreth them above any," is obviously untrue, for there
remain on record numerous proofs of his affection for them, and of his
frequent efforts to promote their interests.

1 " He (Northumberland) told his wife that he had rather the King of
Scots were buried than crowned, and that both he, and all his friends,
would end their lives before her brother's great God should reign ii
this element. The lady told him again that, rather than any other than
King James should reign in this place, she would eat their hearts in
salt, though she were brought to the gallows instantly. He told her tli it
the Secretary had too much wit ever to live under a foreign stock, havin
been so fortunate under a woman that was tractable, and to be c<
selled. The lady told him that he need not long triumph upon i : ;
brother's mishap, for if he kept in this mind she could expect no bet: - !
of him than that same, or a worse destiny." — Lord Henry Howard •
Mr. Edward Bruce, 4th December, 1601. Secret Correspondence, p. 3 : -



whuh ivas ten miles, and also hunted; and whether she a.d._i6o2
was weary or not, I leave to your leisure." *

The Earl of Northumberland was a true lover of his
country, and no patriotic mind could contemplate without
dismay the prospect of a disputed succession, on the throne
falling vacant. It is probable, too, that the distracted
and impoverished state of the Borders may have in-
fluenced him in wishing to bring about a lasting peace
between England and Scotland by the union of the two
kingdoms under one crown, as the only means of ter-
minating that hereditary antagonism which had for
centuries proved so destructive to the prosperity of the
northern provinces, and had fostered a chronic spirit of
lawlessness among the population. 2

» Northumberland to Lord Cobham, 6 August, 1602 State Papers.
It is recorded that when, in the previous year, the Queen opened
Parliament, her altered appearance attracted general attention, and that,
but for those about her person, she would have fallen once or twice
under the weight of her robes.

> « Many murders and manslaughters have taken place these last
three years, and more murderers and felons executed within four years
last past than within ten years before The power of these male-
factors is such that when indicted by the grand jury they escape for
want of evidence, none daring to inform against them for fear ot their
lives Murderers frequently compound for money and the former dare
take 'no verdict till the parties be agreed, so that odious murders are
found manslaughter."-'- Information of the Estate ot Northumberland in
matters of the peace, 1602." State Papers. A long list of outrages on

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 19 of 31)