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

. (page 23 of 31)
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 23 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

all the same gudgeon that hee hadde bestowed on me
before, as alsoe to my brother Charles, my brother
Alan, Sir Edward Ffrannces Edmund Powton, Giles
Greene and Captain Witlock, as may appeare if they
be examined. Soe as, my Lords, it is probable I
should not have seen him at Sion uppon Monday, if
one accident had not happened ; and that was this :
A man of his came to the Courte to my lodging uppon
Sonday to enquire for Thomas Percy ; 3 this man was
a stranger to all the Companie, and never seene before
by anie of them ; the fashion of the man your lordships

1 The Earl's northern rents used, according to the universal practice,
to be conveyed to London in hard cash by pack-horses.

2 Meaning " deceived me with a falsehood." This is confirmed by
the deposition of Robert Keyes, one of the conspirators, who states :
"Percy boasted that he had told the Earl of Northumberland a lie to
get money from him." — Gunpowder Plot Bock.

3 This is borne out in full detail in the deposition of Sir Joceiy^ 1 -'
Percy, Appendix XIII.



shall understande, to the ende he may bee caught here-^c;
after. If this man by this meanes, had not discovered
[divulged] that his master, Thomas Percy, had byne
in towne by this Accidente ; and that he fownde that
my followers of necessitie must knowe it, I thinke I
should not have seene him uppon Monday at Syon,
and the rest of my companie that afternoone at Essex
Howse, one of the greatest arguments of suspition laid

Ito my chardge. Though I be somewhat tedious in
these trifrles I say to your Lordships they be matters
of moment to me, and I hope you will pardon me, for
I saie still, the more you knowe, the better it will be
for me" '

On the following day Northumberland addresses the
King in terms which indicate that while he was
conscious of having given offence, and of having justly
incurred the royal displeasure by his negligence, he does
not admit the possibility of James seriously harbouring
any suspicion of his complicity in the plot.

" Sir,

" The true integrity of my soule towards you
hastens me to put all conceits of anger owt of y r Ma ts
hart towards y r faithfullest seruant. the want of y r presence
besides that it is disgracefull to me in the world grieues
my inwardest thoughts. Y r Ma : in y r function vppon earth
is a God ; your self owt of y r justice and mercy seekes to
imitate that great Master. He forgiues those that repent.
I auowe that I am sorrie in my minde of y r displeasure
(now got by my passions, and neuer imbraced in my

1 Ahinnck J/SS., voL ci. p. 4. The copy of this letter bears the
following marginal note in the handwriting of the Earl : —

"By this narrative I endeavoured to make probable that Thomas
Percy would not have come uppon Monday to S,on, if, by his man's
enquiry for him at my lodginge at Courte, hee had not byne discovered
to be in London."



a.d. thoughts w th the lest jot of Intention) I beseche y r ma:
i5 6 42[ 6 3 2 therefore hold on that imitaon the world takes notice of
in you in this case of mine ; for y r ma ty knowes not how
much it stinges me y r displeasure. At this time the
burden is much more heauy, because the world may take
jealosy as things fall owt at this pnt, and lay a greater
imputaon to my charge, then euer they can rite me in
hereafter. Saue, I humbly craue y r ma ty , the bird in my
bosome : I meane my loyalty, or the lestimaginaon y l may
fall w th in the compas of fooles censures. If I haue not
endured enough allready of y r indignaon for my offence,
returne me hereafter to begin againe fro whence y r Ma ty
shall free me for the pnt. If my seruice at anv time haue
deserued this fauor, or may hereafter, lett these lines moue
his hart to forgett it, to whose person and seruice he is
deuoted for euer that desires the attribute of one of

" Y r ma ts loyallest subiects and

" humble vassals,


" Croydon, this pnt

It was not until the morning of the ioth November
that the Earl received the tidings of Thomas Percy
having fallen, sorely wounded, into the hands of
his pursuers. Had he been conscious of the slightest
blame in the matter charged against him, he would have
been but too rejoiced at the prospect of the removal of such
an accomplice ; but he now, on the contrary, urged the
authorities to employ the best surgical skill for the pre-
servation of the life of the culprit, with a view to his
own vindication : —

" I heare Mr. Percy is taken," he writes to the Council,

1 Original State Papers— Dom. ; James I. Record Office, vol. xvi.
No. 41.



"(if that I heare is true); but withall shotte through the * ».• if.
shoulders with a muskett. Our Surgeons in tin .
countryes are not over excellent for a shott ; if Heatc
take it, the patient with a fever will soone make an crulc.
None but hee can showe me as clear e as the day, or <n
darke as the night. Therefore I hope it shall not offendc
you if I require Haste ; for now will hee tell truely,
if ever ; being readie to make his accompt to Almightie
God." '

While these words were being written the wretched
conspirator had passed away, and there is no record of
his dying deposition having been taken. There is good
reason for believing, however, that the King felt relieved
of a oreat burden when he learnt that his former
confidential and much-trusted messenger was dead. 2

A report was now spread that the Earl had received a
warning to absent himself from the opening of Parlia-
ment, and that he had determined to do so without
communication with the authorities. Not one atom of
evidence was adduced in support of this charge ; even
Salisbury, at this time, refers to it as only a vague rumour.'

1 All the Earl's letters from the Tower, in the course of this chapter,
for which no authority is quoted in a footnote, are derived from the
originals, or from copies collated by the Bishop of Dromore, in the
collection of MSS. at Alnwick Castle.

a The following memorandum, in the handwriting and_ under the
signature of the Bishop of Dromore, is preserved among the Alnwuk
MSS. .—

"The present Earl of Hardwick informs me that he had heard \m
father, the late Lord Chancellor, tell this remarkable anecdote coi
cerning the gunpowder conspirators. That when the accoi
brought to King James of some of them having been purs'ied ti '
Worcester, where part of them were secured, and the rest killed by t»«
Posse Comitates, the King eaeerly inquired what they had done wsth
Percy, and when they told him that he was killed, the Km- could m t
conceal his satisfaction, but seemed relieved from an anxious suspense,
that evidently showed he was glad that Percy was in a condition to tell
no tales."

3 Other of the Earl's enemies did not hesitate to name him as one ol
the chief conspirators, and to circulate their calumnies at foreign courts.



a.d. " Northumberland," he writes to Lord Dunfermline on

' 5 6 4^ 6 3 2 t jj e j st December, " was supposed to have received a general
warning from Percy, but not of any reasonable knowledge
of the real plot ;" l yet it was against imputations resting
upon such grounds as these that he was required to
defend himself.

" Pardon me, I pray your Lordships, if I insiste still
upon this Ground, that the more particulars yow know,
the better it will be for me ; and in that kind to becom
an humble Sutor that I may be an Agent. The
seruis that I can doe in this case is but to present to
your memories sutche things as are most lykely to give
means of discovery. Therefore consider, I desier your
lordships, the course of my lyfe ; whether it hathe not
leaned more of late yeares to private domesticall
pleasures, than to other ambitions. Examin but my
humors in Buildings, Gardenings, and Private Expenses,
theas two yeares past. Looke but upon those few arms
at Syon ; my stable of hors at this instant ; the Dis-
persednes of them and of my seruants ; the littell
concours of followers; and your Lordships will fynd
they be very consonant one to another, and all of them
to put by all iealousy. Weighe but a little further, that
not any one of theas men yett knowen, or that have
busied themselves in this action, soe mutche as their faces
have been noted of me (Percy only excepted). Besides

On the strength of such reports his own kinsmen turned against him. Sir
William Browne writes to Lord Lisle from Flushing on 9th November :—

" The States haue, on Wensday next, proclaymed a solemne day of Fast
and Prayer, and that only for a Thanksgiving to God for the Kings late
deliueraunce. . . . Seing the Earle of Northumberland hath so vilain-
ously and deuilishly forgot himself, I am sory that ever I honored
him, and more sory that I have a chyld that carryes his name." — Sidney
Papers, vol. ii. p. 316.

1 State Papers. Sir Edmond Hoby writes to Sir Thomas Edmonds
on 19th November : "Some say that Northumberland received the like
letter that Monteagle did, but concealed it.' ' — Ibid.



looke but into the store of Treasor that I had gathered a.d. 1605
into my purse against thys tyme (whiche I will be
aschamed to write but your lordships may understande
uppon Enquire), and there will, in somme of them be
found circumstances that will leade on to a better and
certainer knowledge of the thing in question. In what
sorte, or howe, or to whome, out of theas perticulars your
Lordships shall procede. I leaue to your graver iudgments ;
but suere I am out of theas, coniectures may be made and
somewhat bolted out, if the sentence be not true Qui
vadit plane vadit sane. Theas things I write not but in
way of rememoracons, bycause they are things pryuat
and not open to your lordships' knowledges ; yett sutche
things as may give satisfaction if they be scanned.

e< I hope your Lordships will pardon me if I be earnest
in this cause, for the Obloquie lies as yett heauy vpon
me ; and that your Lordships will as well embrace, and
bundle upp circumstances out of your charites that
makes for me, as thos that gives suspitions." ■

On the same day he requested Salisbury to examine
one of his confidential servants as to the recent pro-
ceedings of Thomas Percy, " by which meanes I shall
lay myselfe the more open, and perhapps get some of
my lost goodes againe."

The attempt directly to incriminate the Earl in the
plot having failed, his enemies now endeavoured to
establish his connection with the general intrigues of
the Catholic party. With this object in view, Popham,
the Lord Chief Justice, subjected him to a lengthened
examination ; but all that could be elicited was, the un-
welcome evidence that King James, before his accession
to the English throne, had authorised Northumberland

1 Earl of Northumberland to the Council, 15th November, 1605. —
Original State Papas, Record Office, vol. xvi. No. 77.



a.d. to promise indulgence to the Catholics in return for their
15 4-^ 3 2 adhesion to his cause.

" In the late Queen's time the King allowed me to
give hopes to the English Catholics, which I did, but
went no farther " ; and although it suited the policy of
James to deny having given such encouragement, the
fact stands established on the unquestionable evidence of
letters written under his own hand. The Earl, indeed,
had no personal sympathy with the Catholic party ; and,
as Thomas Winter stated in his confession, although the
conspirators had at first believed that he was in favour
of their cause, they soon discovered that they had
nothing to hope from him, being informed by
Thomas Percy that "for matters of religion the Earl
troubled not much himself." '

On the day following his examination the Earl sup-
plemented his evidence by this letter to the Council : —

" My Lords, yesterday with standing soe long and
talkinge soe long, my spiritts weare soe wearied as
perhapps I opened not some circumstances soe at
lardge as was requisitt for me. Your Lordships pro-
mised all circumstances should be wayed with one another,
therefore I make bolde to presente you with this more
at lardge. Whereas one interrogatory was, whether I
had at any time promised the Papists to stande with
them, or take theire partes ? or some such like kinde
of promise or protestacon, (I doe not perfectly re-
member the interrogatory,) I dare avow that since the
Queen's death, never any man livinge hearde me say
such a worde. Before her Majesties death, tippon
commatindmente I receaved from the Kinge, (if that
commaundmente Percy brought me weare true,) what
I might saie to give them comforte of tolleracons, or

1 Gunpmvder Plot Beck.


that the Kinge would be indifferent, or that I could a.d^6o 5
doe them all the good I could, to the ende to holde them
firm to his Majestie, suspecting by the gencrall opinion and
voyce, that they affected the Infantas title, or might doe so
if they were not helde on with hopes ; and to this ende
shall you finde all my letters to his Ma tie in this sorle, and
then perhapps I said that which would not have byne well
saidnoiv; yet I protest I remember no Particulars.''

No statement could be more honest or straight-
forward; and the alleged facts are so fully confirmed
by the secret correspondence, that it is difficult to under-
stand how the King could have ventured to call them
in question. Equally clear is it that Northumberland's
plea for the Catholics had been dictated solely by
consideration for James's better reception in England,
and of this also no one was so well aware as the


" Nowe my Lords," so the letter proceeds, " it is
requisitt that I doe lay downe circumstances and truthes
that will cleare ivhatsoever was said in that tyme, was don
with an honest intention to obey the King, and doe him
service, and one is this : the wordel (world) knowes that
I am no Papist ; the wordel knows no man is more
obedient to the laws of the Church of England than I
am ; and the wordel may knowe I am noe Supporter of
Recusants, neither is my house pestered with them,
some one or two old servants to my House excepted.
Doth your lordships thinke that my counsels,
both to the King and amongst your lordships, ever
leaninge and stiff for upholding the States (of Holland),
and favouring them in all that little power I had, could
meane to make myselfe a partner with the Papists ?
and was there not one mayne example to witnesse this
last Summer, by being so earnest against my brother
Charles his going to the Arch Dukes, that I diswaded



a.d. him, crossed him with it underhand, and made the
15 — ° 2 Kinge acquainted with it as some of your lordships
doth very well understand ? x

" My lords, I will make an end abruptlie, but with the
request that, as your lordships hath byne so iust as to saie
that circumstances should be waied with circumstances,
soe your lordships in your examinacon will as well picke
out circumstances to cleare me, as to caste me. And
soe I humblie take my leave, and rest,

" Your Lordships to doe you service,

" H. Northumberland." 2

From the postscript attached, it appears that it was
also now attempted to implicate the Earl in Raleigh's
plots, and that he was required to furnish explanations
of his correspondence with him several years before.

" To be daintie (reticent) I knowe breeds suspition,
yet oftentymes forgettfulnesse appears to be dainties
when it is not. Therefore, for the letter received from
Sir Walter was by Fitz James himselfe, as
I remember, to be knighted ; and one more, but by
whome I knowe not, I protest, but that it was for some
arguments to be delivered the King for his delivery
(liberation) and at least two years since. Hee never
had letters from me since his troubles. Thus much I
write because I would have your lordships to know all,
and I to appeare in my right cullors, and let interpre-
tacon to be made accordinge to your consciences which
I refferr to God."

Two days later he writes again : —

" As your lordship's interrogetories are generall for the

1 This refers to Charles Percy's desire for a command under the
Archduke in the Low Countries. — Seea/i/e, foot note 4, p. 251.

2 Northumberland to the Council, 14th November, 1605. — Original
State papers.

2 68


most, soe it cannot but chuse, but the memorie of man a.d. 1605
must be forgetfull in the particulars unexprest yet un-
foulded in thease generallitees. To one interrogetory last
demanded I answered negatively as my remembrance
then served me .... the interrogetory was this : — ' What
discourse of matter of importance was at my table the
Monday the 4th of November?' My answere was
' none ' (as farr as I did remember), since which tyme a
poore man of myne, that waiteth in my chamber, by way
of other talke, made me remember that as wee sate at
dinner Percy asked Sir William Lowre what newes of
the parlemente, who answered none that hee heard of.
With that Percy drawes out a little paper wherein was
the somme of the articles agreed of by the Commissioners,
which weare five, as I remember, saying : ' we have then
more newes in the north than you have heare.' They
lookinge uppon those articles, I asked what they weare ;

they shewed them me and I red them What they

said one to the other I knowe not, but as I hearde was
not materiall, neither do I speake it for that, but as an
argumente wherefore Percy came thither that day, not to
give vie waminge but to have some light, and whether he
could discover anythinge or me. How probable this is,
that it was put out for a bayte, to see whether I under-
stood anythinge of the Lord Monteagle's letter; and this
doth not much disagree from that your Lordships said,
that Percy (to some of his companions said), ' I- will go
to Syon and then I will tell you more,' for it is to be
supposed that either out of my Lord Monteagle's
inwardnes with me, or out of being a Privy Counsellor.
I must understand somewhat if things were discovered,
and yet durst hee not aske me whether there weare
anythinge or noe.

" Now your Lordships know the circumstances, I
referr it to your wisdomes what constructione to make



a.d. of it, and whether, if I had been warned, such a tale had
i5 6 4^ 6 3 2 no t better have byue in private than at dinner"

Is the following, addressed to the Earl of Exeter, the
letter of one conscious of any fault in the matter charged
against him ?

" My Lord, Because I know how neare you are to
me, and that I knowe you love me, I cannot chuse but
thinke that a protestacon of inocency wilbe wellcome to
you. For your satisfaction I rather undertake this letter
than for any other Ende. Before this tyme, and whiles
matters weare in Heate, I did forbeare, because then it
was not proper to vow and to protest. Tyme, I knew,
would clear matters better, and therefore now I will vow
and protest uppon my saluation, and that ys : that I prayc
the Greate God of Heaven may lay all the plagues that
ever zvas inflicted uppon mortall man uppon me and my
whole posteritic, and that neither I nor they may euer see
his face, or euioye the blessinge and conforte of heaven, if
either in knowledge or conjecture or practice or conceal-
mente, or any kinde else to me knowne, I weare pnvie
i to this horrible Act ; and this keep as a memoriall from

me to the shame of myne honor and the blotte of my whole
House, if it be not true. Your noble brother doth deale
noblie and iustlie with me, and it is no shame for him to
receave thanks from you for doinge iustlie with me.
Comende me to my Lady my aunte, 1 and tell her that I,
that have byne an honest man in a tyme that I receaved
no favours, cannot chuse but be one in a tyme that I
receaved some. And soe with my best wishes I rest

14 Your Lordships true frend and nephew,

"H. N.

" 17 of Novemb r 1605/'

1 Lord Exeter, it will be remembered, had married a sister of the Earl s
mother, a younger daughter of the last Lord Latimer.



''Postscript a ; I might have chosen whether I would have a. 0^1605
given you this satisfaction, for it neither furthers me nor
hinders in my inocency, which must be proved by other
circumstances of which I hope you have already seene
some, or els this will doe noe good but to discharge my
soul to you for your satisfaction."

So far the examination had only served to establish
the complete absence of incriminatory evidence against
the Earl ; but King James, smarting under that sense
of past obligations so painfully felt by ignoble natures,
and glad of an opportunity of humbling the haughty
English peer who had refused to mingle in the servile
throng that crawled and cringed around the throne,
allowed no exculpatory facts, however, well proven, to
divert him from his course, and three weeks after the
discovery of the plot signed the warrant for committal 27th
of the Earl of Northumberland to the Tower, as a November,
preliminary to his trial in the Star Chamber.

Once more Burghley, or, as we should now call him,
Salisbury, 1 thought it necessary to give to his agents
at foreign courts an explanation of these proceedings, in
order to justify in the public mind the harsh treatment of
one who had many powerful friends and sympathisers at
home and abroad.

After stating that the Lords Montagu, Stourton, and
Mordaunt, had been sent to the Tower because of their
connection and intimacy with some of the principal
conspirators, and because Catesby had declared that they
had been warned and would certainly absent themselves
from London, which they actually did, he proceeds in this
apologetic tone : —

"You may the better satisfy your own judgment in
the like course taken with the Earl of Northumberland,

1 He had been created Earl of Salisbury in the previous May.



a.d. on whom though it cannot be cast that he was absent, yet
1564-1632 because p erC y on ly named him and the Lord Mom-
eagle, 1 and that Monteagle had a letter of warning,
together with the circumstances of Percy's inwardness.
and his coming- out of the North three days before the
time, and his resort to the Earl not twentie hours before
this villainy should have been acted, the presumption ha! i:
been thought sufficient to commit him to the like place
and custody ; and thus much the rather, because the Earl.
upon the death of the Queen, and af^er, had declared
often to the King, that the Catholics had offered them-
selves to depend upon him in all their courses, so far as
His Majesty making him know his pleasure ; and he
doubted not but to contain (restrain) them from any

" Thus you have as much as may satisfy all reports
of more or less than I have written ; wherein, assure your-
self, that such is the justice of this time, as if no more
appear than this, which may well deserve as much as is
done, there shall be no such rules of rigorous policy
practised upon a Nobleman of his "blood and qualitie, as
not to set him free again without touch of his estate :
assuring you, for mine own parte, that although it is not
improbable that Percy gave him some general warning,
according to his resolution (?) with his confederates, and
that there is no direct proof whether the Earl would have
b:eii present at the Parliament or not, because the hour
was prevented of the execution, wherein it may be said
he might in discretion have forborne to offer any show
of absence till the very instant ; yet I believe that Percy
never durst acquaint a nobleman of his birth, alliance and

1 This refers to the fact of some of the prisoners having confessed
that, when the question of warning their friends was under discus-ion by
the conspirators, Percy had expressed a wish to save the lives ol North-
umberland and Monteagle, if it were possible.



disposition, with so unnatural and savage a ptot, as that a.d. i6o=
wherein so many whom himself loved must have perished.
Only this is the misfortune, that Catesby and Percy being
dead, his innocency, or his guiltiness, must both depend
upon circumstances of other persons and times." "

The animus of the King and his minister towards the
Earl is strikingly illustrated by the contrast presented in
their treatment of the Lords Montagu, Mordaunt, and
Stourton ; against the two latter of whom there existed, if

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 23 of 31)