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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well as his influence in the State, at their full value.

" I am heartily glad," he writes to him, " that it is my
good fortune to be acquainted with a nobleman carrying
so honorable a mind, as also, that doeth rightly interpret
and discern of my honest intentions as you do. In both
your letters, may clearly be seen the upright sincerity of
your affections towards me ; which, if I do not requite
with thankfulness, I should more wrong myself than you."

These professions were no doubt at the time, made

1 Lord Henry Howard to Mr. Edward Bruce, May, 1602. Secret
Correspondence, p. 107.



a.d. in all sincerity, and it must have been the reverse r f
15 111 52 gratifying to Cecil to find the King's agent cxpressir
himself in terms of unqualified praise of the tone of tin
Earl's correspondence :

" The letter sent from o (the Earl of Northumberland •
to 30 (the King) ... is very discreetly and temperate! v
written, and in all points very near the truth. He sru
not that he is a Catholic himself, but that sundry of his
retinue and dependants hath oars in their boat ; and th;it
they are not able to resolve in any course with the which
he shall not be made acquainted." 2

By this time the condition of Queen Elizabeth had
ceased to be a subject for speculation. The end was
rapidly drawing near, and one week before the event,
Northumberland thus prepares the Scottish King for his
accession to the throne of England.

" Her Majesty hath been evil now almost one month.
In the twelve first days it was kept secret under a mispri-
sion, taking the cause to be the displeasure she took at
Arabella, the motions of taking in Tyrone, and the death
of her old acquaintance, the Lady Nottingham. 3 Those
that were nearest her, did imagine these to be the reasons.
More days told us it was an indisposition of body ;
sickness was not in any manner discerned ; her sleep
and stomach (appetite) only bereft her, so as for a twenty
days she slept . very little. Since, she is grown very
weak, yet sometimes gives us comfort of recovery ; a few
hours after, threatens us with despair of her welldoing.

1 The names throughout this correspondence are represented by
ciphers — the King being expressed by the' figure 30, Elizabeth by -4-
Cecil by 20, and Northumberland by o.

2 Mr. Edward Bruce to Lord Henry Howard. Correspondence of
Kins, James VI., Camden Society, p. 47.

3 Lady Nottingham's deathbed revelation on the subject of Essex s
ring, and the effect it had upon the Queen, was evidently then unknown
to the Earl.



j hysic she will not take any, and the physicians conclude a.d. 1603
■ a if this continue, she must needs fall into a distem-
•r; not a phrensy, but rather into a dullness and a

I Ie proceeds to urge that the recognition of the King's
ri-'ht to the throne was almost universal, and that the
Council were taking the necessary steps to insure his
l«-aceful accession. On the subject of the English

J Catholics he says : — ■
" Some Papists I have in my family, who serve me as
watches how others are affected ; and some that I am
acquainted with ; but yet did I never hear any of them

(say, but that they all of them wished your Majesty the
fruition of your right ; and that, if supplication might
procure them toleration of their consciences, they should
hold themselves happy ; if not they must by the laws of
God and Right endure it with patience, to which hopes
I ever give comfort that it would be obtained. Your
Majesty may do in this case as your wisest judgment
shall direct you. 1

Now, Sir, matters standing thus I must still rest upon
the text of my first letters, in which I think I shall not
much have erred, and that was, that your Majesty would
come in all peace, with all joy and gladness to us all, and
tree from all opposition. •. . . . I speak it confidently,
^nd therefore I hope your Majesty will pardon my ryche
{sic) thoughts, which are devoted with eagerness to your
Majesty's service, and my country's good." In a post-
cript the Earl once more expresses his generous trustful-
ness in the supposed friend, whose persistent policy it had
been to undermine him in the good opinion of the King.

11 I discover daily by circumstances that the Secretary


1 These were the passages upon which, three years later, one of the
articles of indictment against the Earl in the Star Chamber was



a.d. is more persuaded to the right of your cause than othi r
15 ill 32 If your Majesty can win him sure to you, you shall gi\
a great help to your business and to all our eases. 1

The correspondence closes with this letter from
the Kino;:

" Right truely, and well beloved Cousin :

" The more I hear from you, the more am I rejoice-':
and do think myself infinitely happy that one of your
place, endowed with such sincerity of love towards me,
and with all other parts of sufficiency, should be borr.
one day to be a subject unto me ; for I protest unto you.
that in your letter you have confirmed the very sum
of all the true news of the state of things then:.
according as I was, by divers hands, advertised this
month past.

"And as to the form of my entry there, whenever It
shall please ,God to call your Sovereign, as in my first
letter I wrote unto you, so now by these presents, do I
confirm and renew the same ; that is to say, as God is
my witness, it never was, is, or shall be my intention, to
enter that Kingdom in any other sort, but as the son and
righteous heir of England ; with all peace and calmness.
and without any kind of alteration in State and Govern-
ment as far as possible I can. All men that hath truly
served their present Sovereign, shall be alike welcome to
me, as they are presently, or were in times past, unto her ;
claiming nothing in that turn as King of Scotland, but
hoping thereby to have the means to knit this whole Island
in a happy and perpetual amity. As for the Catholics, I
will neither persecute any that will be quiet, and give but
an outward obedience to the law ; neither will I spare t<>
advance any of them that will, by good service, worthii;

1 Earl of Northumberland to King James VI. 17th March, i-
Corresfcndencc, Camden Society, p. 74.



Jcserve it, and if this course will not serve every particu- a.d. 1603

; ir honest man, my privy dealing with any of them can

avail but little. — And thus I end, praying you for your

own part to rest fully assured that you shall, in the own

time, have proof in what high account you are with your

most loving friend,

"James R." 1

While James^ was inditing this letter, Sir Robert
Carey 2 and Sir Charles Percy were riding a race to
Edinburgh with the tidings of Elizabeth's death.

Sir Francis Bacon had been no friend to the cause of
the Scottish King, and only two years before had
conspicuously paraded his opposition to his Majesty's
pretensions, by volunteering to undertakethe prosecution

1 To the Earl of Northumberland, from Holyrood House, 24th March,
1603. Correspondence of King James VI., Camden Society, p. 75.

a A younger son of the first Lord Hunsdon, who had hovered around
the deathbed of his royal cousin, with the view of being the first to
convey the tidings of her decease to her successor. He had written
three days before to prepare the King for the event, and prayed him
not to leave Edinburgh until his arrival. Without the knowledge of the
Council, but with the connivance of his eldest brother, a Privy Coun-
sellor and Captain of the Band of Pensioners, he started a few minutes
after the Queen had ceased to breathe, performing the journey, in spite
of a severe fall on the way, within three days."— See Nichols's Pro-
gresses ; Elizabeth, vol. iii. p. 606, and James J. vol. i. p. 34. The
Lords, in ignorance of Carey's departure, subsequently despatched Sir
Charles Percy, who reached Edinburgh only a few hours after the first

The French Ambassador writes to Villeroi that immediately after
the Queen's decease the Earl of Northumberland had appeared at the
Council, attended by one hundred armed men, and had declared that he
would put his sword through any man who should presume to question
the election of King James. — Ambassades, i. 1S1. The only foundation
for the report was probably the fact that the Earl had somewhat per-
emptorily reminded the Council that their functions ceased with the
demise of the Sovereign ; adding that the peerage had too long been
treated with neglect and contempt, and that they were now determined
to assert their rights — See Additional MSS., British Museum, 17S6. fol.
76. His letters to the King prove that he had always been opposed
to the display of military force, for which moreover there was no

VOL. II. 241 R


AD - of his former patron and benefactor, the Earl of Essex.

5 . No sooner however did the popular tide set in that

direction than he took pains to cultivate the good wij
of James's most influential adherents in England, an .
among others of Northumberland, to whom he now
addressed the following adulatory letter :

" As the time of sewing of seed is known, but the tim
of coming up is casual, or according to the season, so 1
am a witness to myself that there has been covered in nr.
mind for a long time a seed of affection and zeal towards
your Lordship, shown by the estimation of your virtue?.
and your particular honors and favors to my brother
deceased and to myself. To be plain to your lordship it
is very true, and no winds or noises of civil matters can
blow this out of my head or heart, that your great
capacity and love towards studies, and contemplation
of an higher and worthier nature than popular, — a
nature rare in the world, and in a person of your
Lordship's quality almost singular, — is to me a great
chief motive to drawing affection and admiration towards
you ; and therefore, good my lord, if I may be of any use t< i
your lordship by my head, tongue, pen, means or friends,
I humbly pray you to hold me your own ; and herewithal
not to do so much disadvantage to my good mind, nor
partly to your own worth, as to conceive that this com-

\ munication of my humble service proceedeth out of

any straights of any occasions, but merely out of an
election, and indeed the fullness of my heart. 1

Northumberland had by this time attained a high

1 Sir Francis Bacon to Earl of Northumberland, Cabala, p. 23. The
letter bears no date, but was evidently written very shortly bei
Elizabeth's death. In the same work, a few pages further on, a letter
couched in almost identical words, is quoted as having been address
to the Earl of Northampton ; but this is an evident error, for there »'.ii
no one at the time bearing that title, which had become extinct in i57 ! <
and was not conferred upon Lord Henry Howard until a year later.



reputation for the pursuit of those literary and scientific ad. 1603
studies, to which he afterwards devoted so much of
his enforced leisure. He had continued to busy himself
in forming a great library at Syon House, and employed
agents on the Continent in the collection of rare and

! valuable books. 1 The haughty peer who would recognise
few equals among his own order, eagerly courted the
society of men of learning or genius. Hariot, 2 the
mathematician, found in him an assiduous pupil, and
munificent patron. The sorrowful old age of Edmund
Spenser was soothed by his friendship and sympathy.
Philosophers and historians, poets, geographers, and
physicians were his chosen and intimate companions.
His purse was ever open for the promotion of science,
and no poor scholar ever turned disheartened from his

Bacon's tribute to the Earl's higher culture was thus no
unmerited compliment ; but in spite of the pretence of
disinterested affection, his letter betrays rather the
ambitious politician appealing to a powerful ally, than
the philosopher addressing the patron of literature and
learning. Indeed, the concluding appeal was needed,
though it could hardly have had the effect of disguising

1 Sir Henry Savile writes to Carleton(26 February, 1603), introducing
one Dalrimple, as a person about to proceed to France, Germany, and
Italy, « with bookish matters in hand, for the Earl of Northumberland."
— State Papers.

2 Thomas Hariot, or Harriot, had accompanied Raleigh on his voyage
to Virginia. "After his return to England Sir Walter got him into the

acquaintance of that noble and generous Count, the Earl of North-
umberland, who finding him to be a gentleman of an affable and peace-
able nature, and well read in the obscure part of learning, did allow
him a yearly pension of .£120. . . . About the same time Robert Hues
and Walter Warner, two other mathematicians, who were known also to
the said Count, did receive from him yearly pensions also, but of less
value ; as did afterwards Nicholas Torperley. - ' Wood's Athena: Oxon-
itnses. Bliss, p. 209. Hariot's great work, Artis Analyticct Praxis,
was dedicated to the Earl, whom Dr. Alexander Rhead, in a medical
treatise of that period, describes as " the favourer of all good learning,
and Mecrenas of learned men."

243 K 2


ad. the writer's object. Bacon's antecedents were, as hi

5 t ° 2 knew, against him, but he determined to make a bold bit]

for the royal favour. If the King were once seated upon
his new throne, personal approach might be difficult to
one who had openly opposed his accession; but the
ambitious lawyer might forestall the crowd of expectant
courtiers, and by timely zeal atone for past errors. He
accordingly drew up a proclamation, to be issued on the
entry of James, and begged Northumberland to father
the document, and to make him the bearer of it to the
Scottish Court. 1 It was not until after his arrival in
Edinburgh that he became aware that Cecil had antici-
pated him, and that James was already in possession oi
a proclamation which proved sweet music to his ears/
. Here is Bacon's account of his somewhat abortive
mission :

"It may please your Lordship,

" I would not have lost this journey, and yet I have
not what I went for ; for I have had no private Con-
ference to purpose with the King, no more hath almost
any other English ; for the Speech His Majesty
admitteth with some Noblemen is rather matter of
Grace than matter of Business. With the Attorney
he spake, urged by the Treasurer of Scotland, but no
more than needs must.

"After I had received His Majesty's first Welcome,
and was promised private Access, yet not knowing what
matter of Service your Lordship's Letter carried, for I saw
it not, and knowing that Primeness in Advertisement is
much, I chose rather to deliver it to Sir Thomas Hoskin*

1 For Bacon's letter to the Earl see Cabala, p. 86.

2 " As to the proclamation it is set of musicke that sondeth so
sueitlie in the ears of the king that he can alter no nots in so agreeable
ane harmonic" — Mr. E. Bruce to Lord Henry Howard. Correspondent
of King James IV., Camden Sue, p. 47.



than to let it cool in my hands upon expectation of A.n. 1603


" Your Lordship shall find a Prince the farthest from

I vain-glory that may be, and rather like a Prince of the
. indent Form than of the latter Time ; his speeches
swift and cursory, and in the full Dialect of his Nation ;
in Speech of Business short, in Speech of Discourse
large. He affecteth popularity by gracing them that
are Popular, and not by any Fashions of his own. He is
thought somewhat general in his Favours, and his virtue
of Access is rather because he is much abroad, and in
press, than he giveth easie Audience. He hasteneth to
a mixture of both Kingdoms and Nations, faster perhaps
than Policy will well bear. I told your Lordship once
before my Opinion that methought His Majesty rather
asked Council of the time past, than of the time to come,
but it is yet early to ground any settled opinion." l

Elizabeth had died on the 24th March ; on the 4th
May following we find the King at Enfield Chase,
preparatory to his entry into London : —

" He rid the most part of the way from the Chace,
between two honourable personages of our land, the Earl
of Northumberland upon his right hand, and the Earl of
Nottingham upon his left hand ; " 2 and so, amid the loud
acclamations of the citizens, James Stuart ascended the
throne of the Tudors.

The new King of England treated Northumberland
with marked distinction, making him a Privy Counsellor,
and conferring upon him the then important office of
Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners. Shortly after his
brother Allan 3 was appointe d Lieutenant of the corps.

' Sir Francis Bacon to Earl of Northumberland (no date) Cabala p. 50^
* See " Papers by John Saville " in Nichols's Progresses of James I.

V °3 The sixth son of the eighth Earl. He was a constant correspondent



a.d. Among other marks of his favour, James gracious!-.

15 tli 32 complied with the following petition : —

"That Henry, late Earl of Northumberland, Petitioner
great uncle" (the sixth Earl), " was induced by the wicked
persuasion of some of his own servants to disinherit hi
brother and heir, Petitioners grandfather, and to give all
his lands to King Henry VIII. after his own decease
without male issue ; and thereupon after the Earls death.
His Majesty, having the lands in his hands gave the
Manors of Hunmanby, Nafterton, Wanford, Gembling-.
and Kirk-Leventon in Co. York, to your Majesty's
ancestors, Mathew, Earl of Lennox, and the Lady
Margaret his wife, and their heirs. Afterwards Queen
Mary of her princely bounty for the raising up of your
subjects ancient house of nobility, did not only restore
Petitioners late Uncle Thomas, and his father, Henry
to their ancient titles, but withal gave them all the
possessions of the said Earldom which then remained in
the Crown, and amongst the rest the reversion of the
Manors above named.

"And now seeing it has pleased God to give your
Majesty the said manor, together with the Imperial
Crown of this realm, to the universal comfort of us all,
your Petitioner beseeches your Majesty to bestow the
said manor, being part of the ancient possessions of his
Earldom, upon him and he be always ready therewithal

of John Chamberlain and Dudley Carlcton, to whom he writes pleasant
gossiping lelters^ on current topics. He was created a Knight ot
the Bath with Prince Charles on Twelfth Day, 1605, and in the follow;;.-'
August Edward Lascelles prays the assistance of the Earl of Shrewsbury
for promoting a marriage between Sir Allan Percy, and a daughter of a
Mr. Curzon in Derbyshire, "that is a very good matringe. she being his
only daughter and heire, and himself a man of Seven Hundreth Pound
land by yeare, or thereabouts." Lodge's Illustrations, vol. iii. p. 297. TIi -
lady, however, prefeired the Earl of Dorset, and Sir Allan consoled himsell
for the loss by taking to wife the daughter of Sir John Fitz of Fitzford,



:iS with all the rest of his lands and goods, his life and
whatever else may be his, to serve your Majesty to the
utmost of his powers and courage." r

About the same time a grant of lands lately belonging
to Sir John Perrott, of the value of ^500 a year, was
made in favour of the Countess of Northumberland, in
lieu of a pension of ^400 a year allowed her by
Klizabeth. 2

The Earl was appointed one of the Commissioners for
putting in force the laws passed in Elizabeth's reign
against the Jesuits and Seminary priests, which had not
hitherto been executed in their full rigour ; and in the
following year he was a signatory to the deed, issued
under the great seal, by which King James established
the practice of settling the jewels appertaining to the
sovereign upon the English Crown. 3 In this year he also
officiated as godfather, and his Countess as godmother,
at the christening of the Princess Mary. 4

So far Cecil had not succeeded in diverting the royal
favour from Northumberland, who was indeed too power-
ful to be overlooked in the distribution of honours and
rewards, and who always proved ready to assert his
rights if neglected ; 5 but Lord Cobham and Raleigh
were more defenceless, and found themselves treated
with a coldness which aroused their bitter resentment

~ « Alnwick MSS^LvtT * State Papers Dom. James I.

3 Fadera, xvi. pp. 606 and 643- 4 Stow s , A ™ a f s > £ ??3- • .

s Thus in Tune the Earl, not having been included in the Commission
appointed for examining and allowing of suits of law, addresses Cecil,
still under the impression that he might count the Lord Treasurer as a
faithful friend and ally, in these terms :

" I trust of your ancient love and professions that you hold me worth)
to be one of them ; if I should not, the disgrace would wound me very
nighe, and the dishonour would appeare palpable to the whole worlde ;
the eies of many lookes upon me and soe mutche the more I am
sensible in this point. My ambitions are within limits, and they are not
great matters I desier. Therefore you may well, out of your judg-
ment and professed love, stand with me it I be forgotten. -State Papers,
James I.


AD. 160'


a.d. against Cecil. There are no means of gauging tl ,
1564-1632 . , r . . . , . ? to &

— ° nature and extent of the conspiracy in which they were

now accused of having engaged ; x but the opportunity 1 1
ridding himself of hateful opponents was eagerly seized
by the Secretary. The evidence could not sustain a
higher charge than misprision of treason, upon which thev
were accordingly tried ; but by the shameful subservient
of a carefully-composed Commission or Special Jury, and
by the indecent zeal of Coke, the Attorney-General, 3 a
verdict of high treason was obtained, and sentence 0]
death was passed upon the accused.

Northumberland hastened to Windsor to intercede for
the life of his friend and former ally. He appealed to
the King, declaring his conviction of Raleigh's guiltless-
ness of the treasonable acts imputed to him ; and finding
James obdurate he addressed himself to the Queen, with
whom he was in much favour, and whose tears succeeded
in wringing a respite from the King. 3 This intercession
on the part of the Earl was the more generous since
he knew that attempts had been made to involve him in
these intrigues ; and he had thus, while pleading for his
friend, to justify himself against suspicions of complicity :

1 Raleigh could have had but little sympathy with the English
Catholics, on whose behalf the plot was set on foot, and even less with
the Court of Spain ; but he appears to have sounded Arabella Stuart
as to her willingness to be put forward as a claimant for the throne
under Spanish protection. This unhappy lady, whose personal aspirations
did not now soar above the sphere of reasonable domestic happiness,
but who so frequently became a pretext for the political intrigues of
more ambitious spirits, decisively declined the perilous honour.

2 " Thou viper ! ay, I will thou thee ! for thou art a traitor ! " were
among the words which Coke flung at the defenceless prisoner on trial
for his life.

3 Fifteen years later the death sentence, which after his release from
the Tower had remained in abeyance, was carried into effect upon the
brave and accomplished soldier ; nominally for the long-past offence
imputed to him, but in reality as a peace-offering to the King of Spain,
for Raleigh's descent upon his settlements in the island of St. Thomas
in 1 61 6








*kvi^*rt*M6a»»ng .trtt. I


*«I have sent you herewith," he writes to Cecil, "a a.d.
ktter directed to His Majesty. By the contents of it l6o 3^ 6 °4
you may gather what friendship I require at your hands.
If you think it sufficient let it passe. I have sent you
my seal, and therefore I pray you make it up. If you
dislike it, out of your judgment and advice, send it back
a^ain with your opinion.

" Perhaps I should have knowen more of these matters,
if Rawleighe had not conceived, as he told me, that I
could keepe nothing from you. I am now glad of those
thoughts in him, and your friendship and mine never
stood in better stede, if he have done anything not
justifiable." l

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 21 of 31)