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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hee never desired more Advantage of him that hee loved
not, than once make a Prince doe him a shrewd Turne ;
for then was he safe, for ever holding upp his Head with
the least Labour in the world.

" But that it is to satisfie Your Ma ties Debts with your
Majesty's Will, I must confesse my Incredulitie therein ;
or, if I did beleeve that it weare soe, then should I aske
your Ma tie if a worthie and greate Oueene of England
could feare arresting, or the not paying of her Debts,
unless by the Ransacke of her most faithful Servants ?
But these Thoughts beingr soe farre remoued from the

1 It is not apparent what Salisbury's object was in spreading the
report that the Queen had solicited the grant of Northumberland's fine
as a means of satisfying her numerous creditors. There is no evidence
of her having made such a claim, and the act would have been quite
inconsistent with her friendship for the Earl, unless, indeed, she haU
applied for the grant in order to relieve him from the payment. In
such a case, however, she would hardly have failed to communicate
her intention to the person most nearly concerned.



Harte of Your Ma ties , as it is most devoted ever to obay, a.d. 1613

I must ende as I begann,to craue Your Ma" ts Helpe and

Succoure." *

To the King he writes about the same time :

"If Your Ma tie shalbe but pleased to take a View of

the Particulars of my Estate herunto annexed, or referre

it to those Your Ma tie shall please shall consider and

inform You of the Truth thereof, if Your Ma ties greater
I . .

Occasions shall not permitt Your owne occulare Examina-

cion as what I-receave, what I pay out in Pentions, what
is necessarry for the present Mayntenance of myselfe, Es-
tate and Children, and my Debts which must be satisfied.

" Your Ma tie out of Your iudicious Understandinge will
conceave, I shall assuredly hurte my Children in theire
future Preferrment, for out of this little Meanes I have
I must Yearlie lay by for them, or they must suffer a
harder Fortune than their Birth would require, which,
under Your Ma ties Correction, is not intended for the Use
of cessinge or levying of Fynes."

To the Council he represents that it is impossible for
him to raise money upon his lands while these are under
sequestration, and that, although quite ready to give his
own bonds for annual payments, he cannot obtain security
for them since " noe Man will willinHie be bownde for
me in soe greate a Somme ; neither can I, with Reason,
require Men to hazarde themselfes, how inocent soever I
knowe myselfe ; for it is not the Setlednes of my Mynde
can conhrme the Doubts and Feares of another Man's."

On his being finally informed that the King would
grant him an acquittance upon the immediate payment of
14,000/., he urged that such a sum in ready money
" would amount to much more than 20,000/. to be paid in
seven Yeares ; but since it is Your Lordships Pleasure to

1 Earl of Northumberland to the Queen, January, 1613.



a.d. barre me of the mayne Wayes to satisfie you, in which

15 4-i 3 2 j am mos t capable of, I mean Securitie by myne owne

Bondes and my Landes, I beseech Your Lordships moue

His Ma tle to take 10,000/. in readie Monie . . . and I

will endeavour to procure it as soon as I can." 1

The royal creditor, however, proved extortionate ; and
the Earl, who had hitherto shown himself as determined
to resist the payment of the fine, as the King had been to
enforce it, weary perhaps of further haggling, now gave a
proof of his readiness to satisfy the claim upon him,
by offering to transfer to the Crown the only one of
his landed possessions which it was within his power
absolutely to dispose of :

" May it please Your Ma tie to give me Leave to open
partly the State as it now standeth with my Children, and
humblie presente you with an Offer that may helpe them,
and be of more Value to Your Ma tie . My Daughters are
of 15 and 14 Yeares of Age ; the Tyme of their Prefer-
ments for all theire Lives is at Hande and will not admitte
long Delay. The Installmente of the Fine, as Your Ma ,ie
hath imposed it, cannot be payed in 7 Yeares, they
provided for, and all the Rest, and myselfe releived as they
ought and as the World will expect from me, in Dutie of
a Father.

" 15,000/. if it should be paid, taking Use uppon Use,
not resting one Minute of an Houre idle (which cannot be
done), in seaven Yeares will come but to 20,000/. or
thereabouts ; and to be bought by anie Chapman in readie
Money, 10,000/. would be the most that would be given.
Sion, 2 and please Your Ma ,ie , is the onlie Lande I can
putt away, the rest being entayled. I had it before
Your Ma ties happy Entrie, 48 Yeares by Lease, without
paying anie Rent, but such as was given backe againe

1 Northumberland to the Council, 24th July, 16x3.

2 For an account of Syon House, see Appendix XVII.



in certaine other Allowances. It hath cost me since Your A.^613
Ma ,ie bestowed it uppon me, partlie uppon the Howse,
partlie uppon the Gardens, almost 9000/. The Landes, as
it is now rented and rated, is worth, to be sold, 8000/.
within a little more or lesse. If Your Ma tie had it in
Your Hands it would be better than 200/. a Yeare more
by the Coppieholders Estates, which now payeth^but two
Yeares old Rente Fine. Dealing with them, as you doe
with all Your Coppieholders in England, is worth at the
least 3,000/. This Howse itselfe, if it weare to be pulled
downe and sold by View of Workmen, comes to 8000 and
odde Pounds. If anie man, the best Husbande in Build-
ing, should raise suche another in the same Place 20,000/.
would not doe it, soe as according to the Worth it may
be reckoned at these Rates : 3 1,000/. and, as it maybe sold
and pulled in Peeces, 1 9,000/. or thereabouts. Thus Your
Ma ue seeth the Estate of the Thinge, what it is ; howe
the Care of a Father (in which arte Your Ma tie is under-
standing and will iudge other Men by yourselfe), behold-
ingethe Fortunes of my Daughters, rather choosing to lay
a Losse uppon myselfe and my Heire, which Tyme may
recover, than uppon them which may not endure Tyme,
to make upp theire Advancements.

" In humble Maner, therefore, I lay the same at Your
Ma ties p eet) to gi ve Your Ma tie Satisfaction. It being a
Mark of Your Ma ties Favour towards me in those Tymes,
makes me unwilling to offer it to anie but to Yourselfe,
or Yours, neither will I. . . ■
" This 14th April, 161 3."

It was possibly a feeling of shame at the thought of
accepting, as an expiatory offering, that which he had
conferred upon a subject in reward for important personal
services, that induced the King to decline so advan-
tageous a proposal. In the end he consented to accept
an immediate payment of 11,000/. in satisfaction of the

3 2 7


a.d. balance of the fine ; and on this sum having- been received
i$ 6 4^ 6 3 2 into the Exchequer, he granted to the Earl what he was
pleased to call a full " Pardon and Release." l

While the sequestration of his estates was withdrawn
he was, however, still debarred from all public offices
that he had held under the Crown ; including those
which he had received by inheritance from his father,
and which had been made revertible to his own son.

Shortly after his conviction in the Star Chamber the
Earl of Dunbar had applied to the King for the Governor-
ship of Tynemouth, against which grant Northumberland
remonstrated, on the ground that that office had " been
given by the late Queen to my Father, and two of his
Sonnes, for Life, in recompense for Norham, which was
taken from him. It hath alsoe pleased His Ma tie to give
me his Graunte by Woorde, for the Reversion to my
Sonne for his Life." 2

Lord Dunbar thereupon withdrew his claim ; the office
was, however, subsequently conferred upon Sir William
Selby, during the King's pleasure, and Northumberland
now demanded its restoration, not as a favour, but as
a right.

" Matters of my Fine being ended," he writes ....
" that which I justlie desire is but that I have under
the Greate Seale, as due to me as the Coate uppon
my Backe, if any Pattente under the Great Seale of
England be authenticall. . . .

" I can saie nothing more for my Right, but that I
have it under the Greate Seale, and by Patent for Life ;
neither mean I to dispute the King's Prerogative, which
I know Mr. Attorney will not fault in scanting. But

1 For the text of this document, of which the title is misleading,
see Appendix XVIII.

2 Northumberland to Earl of Dunbar, 14th October, 1606. — State



these are not the Things I meane to handle in this Letter, a.d.
for I knowe Pretences may be made upon slighter l6o 5~ l622
Grounds than these, and to greater Matter if the State
pleases. If your Lordship can doe me this Favour I
shall thinke myselfe beholdinge unto you ; if you cannot,
I will cast it over my Shoulders with the Rest of my
Misfortunes, and there lett it lie till a more favourable
Tyme." '

James, however, considered that he had exhausted
the sources of his grace when he accepted, in composi-
tion for the fine, the largest sum that it was in his
power to extort from an unwilling and obstinate debtor ;
and the Earl, debarred from all places of profit or
honour, and his private resources seriously impaired by
the late proceedings, disdained to make further appeals
to the King's clemency. His enemies had prevailed ;
but they should not enjoy the triumph of bending his
pride or shaking his philosophy.

* *

The Tower of London was a place of evil associations
to its new inmate.

Barely seventy years had elapsed since the Earl's
grandfather was drawn from thence to ascend the scaffold
at Tyburn ; twenty years since, his father had died a
violent and mysterious death within those grim walls ;
three years since, the headless body of his brother-in-law,
Essex, was cast into the rude grave, which the captive
had to pass in the monotony of his daily walks.

Many a familiar name carved upon the prison stones
met his eye, to tell the tale of successive victims to
Royal resentment ; and to remind him of the fate of
members of his own house who, in times past, had
lingered in this abode of misery.

1 Northumberland to the Earl of Suffolk, 19th November, 1614, and
20th February, 1615.— State Papers.

3 2 9


a.d. Men of his passionate temperament are, as a rul<;,

»5 4^i 3 2 exceptionally sensitive to the pains of personal re-
straint ; but there was a stoicism underlying the Earl's
impetuous nature which enabled him to bear misfortune
with admirable equanimity.

Up to the time of his trial in the Star Chamber he had,
in the consciousness of his innocence, submitted uncom-
plainingly enough to a captivity from which he could not
doubt an honourable release. Even when his sentence
was pronounced, he continued to hope that the penalty
would ere long be mitigated ; now, however, he felt that
his persecutors would resolutely stand between him and
liberty, and he seems to have resigned himself to the
prospect of a life-long captivity.

" It pleased your Lordships," he writes to the Council
" when you were last here, amongst other Speeches, to
say if I wanted anything I might complain, and let your
Lordships know of it. Now, my Lords, as the Summer
groweth on, I find this little Garden, that lieth all the
Day upon the Sun, to be very close ; these Galleries
very noysome with the Savours from the Ditches, and
Invalidities oftener to threaten me than they were wont.

" These lower Parts are so wet after every Shower of
Rain, as there is no stirring in the Garden ; neither is the
Air so wholesome as the Hill. Therefore, if it please
your Lordships that I may have the Benefit thereof, as
other Prisoners hath had, bein^ here in the same Nature
that I am, I shall acknowledge myself much favoured." 1

He was hereupon removed to the Martin Tower, 2 on

1 Earl of Northumberland to the Council, 9th May, 1606. — State

2 " Martin Tower over against the Green Mount near Mr. Sherburn's
House." — List of Prison Lodgings in the Power of London. Rarl.
MSS., No. 1326. The Earl also rented the Brick Tower close to the
Jewel House, the official residence of the Master of the Ordnance,
for the use of his sen, in order to enable him personally to superintend
his education.



the north-east angle of the Bastion wall, where he passed a.d.
the next fifteen years of his life in the ardent pursuit of l6 ° 5 ~ l622
his favourite studies, and in constant intercourse with
men of learning, whose companionship, with that of his
beloved books, reconciled him to a fate which, to one
devoid of intellectual resources, must have proved
a terrible infliction. 1

The well-filled shelves of his library at Syon House
kept him supplied with the means of wide and varied
reading ; and scholars and critics, alchemists and
astrologers, assembled in his rooms, to discuss the
theory of numbers and the law of optics, sun spots and
the Satellites of Jupiter ; to read and criticise the
"Faerie Qucene" and Sidney's Arcadia; to cast horo-
scopes, and to burn the midnight oil in the attempt
to discover the secret of the transmutation of metals,
perpetual motion, and the elixir of life.?

Many a time during the still hours of night the
sentinel beneath the Earl's window may have stood,
startled and amazed, as strange and mysterious sounds
fell upon his ear : the whirl of wheels, the monotonous
click of many a pendulum, the crackling of unseen fires, and
the solemn tones of incantation. The jailer indoors who
should intrude upon his privacy would gaze in awe upon
his prisoner, as, clothed in quaint garments and inhaling
through a tube the fumes of a burning weed, 3 he sat with
his familiars engaged in mysterious rites amidst curiously

1 "The Earl of Northumberland .... cares little for restraint except
for the disgrace." — Chamberlain to Dudley Carleton, 21st December,
1614. State Papers.

2 Alchemy and astrology were at that time still practised, and con-
scientiously believed in, by men of science ; though the more enlightened
had already begun to denounce these pursuits as vain and illusory.
Bacon, for instance, advises a friend "to abandon these fabulous and
foolish traditions, and to come nearer to the experiments of sense." — Sir
Tobie Mathews's Letters, p. 25.

3 The average payment for tobacco during the Earl's captivity was
over'50/. a year.


a.d shaped instruments : retorts, alembics and crucibles ;
15 U 32 zodiacal tables suspended from the walls ; celestial globes
slowly revolving upon their axes; automatic figures
moving by some hidden power, and a human skeleton ■
grasping an hour-glass in its claw-like fingers. No
wonder that strange rumours went abroad as to the dark
practices of " the Wizard Earl and his three Magi." 2

Sir Walter Raleigh had remained in the Tower after
the commutation of the death-sentence passed upon him
in 1603, ancl now, shut out from the active pursuits
congenial to his restless mind, joined the Earl in his
studies and experiments. 3

A mass of memoranda relating to the Earl's house-
hold expenditure during the first ten years of his im-

1 In the accounts at Syon House we find a payment " to Pr. Turner's
man that brought a skeleton." This Turner was the Earl's medical
attendant, and in 1607 received a fee for having provided him with "a
Pomander for the Plague," a pomander being a strongly perfumed ball
composed of materials for warding off infection.

2 Thomas Heriot. or Hariot, Walter Warner, and Robert Hues, eminent
mathematicians, whose devotion to the study of the exact sciences did
not prevent them from placing faith in the occult arts of necromancy ;
or from employing themselves in the construction of elaborate theories
based upon the wildest speculations. Nathaniel Torperlev, the learned
Rector of Saiwarpe, Nicholas Hill, James Allevne, and Dr. John Dee
(for^ accounts of whom see Wood's Athens) were also constant com-
panions of the Earl throughout his captivity.

3 "Northumberland, the Mecamas of the age, had converted this
abode of misery into a Temple of the Muses, and Raleigh was gradually
inspired by the genius of the place."— Lingard's History of England
(edition, 1849), vol. vii. p. i 9 S. This statement is justified by the evi-
dence ot a contemporary writer, Wallis the mathematician, who says :
"Their prison was an academy where their thoughts were elevated
above the common cares of life ; where they explored science in all its
pleasing forms, penetrated her most intricate recesses, and surveyed the
whole globe till Sir Walter Raleigh's noble fabric arose, his History of
the World, probably by the encouragement and persuasion of his noble
friend." Fraser Tytler tells us that the Earl "established a literary and
philosophical society in his apartments, and diverted the melancholy
confinement by keeping an open table for such men of learning and
genius as were permitted to visit him. Splendid in his entertainments,
and lavish of his immense wealth, he was readv to pay any sum for the
company and conversation of men of genius."— Life of Raleigh,?. 32Q.

*> -, ^


prisonment has been preserved, 1 and serves to throw a.d.
much light upon his habits and mode oflife. 1605-1622

The privilege of providing the diet of prisoners
formed an important feature in the Revenues of the
Lieutenant of the Tower. By an annual payment of
100/. Northumberland, however, acquired the right of
keeping his own table, which was on a very liberal scale,
costing on an average over 1400/. a year. 3 His cellar
was stocked with a variety of wines, including French,
Rhenish and Greek vintages, and " Muscatel, Hypocras,
Malmsey, Canary, and Sherrie." He had a large retinue
of servants and, for the use of his family and visitors,
maintained stables of horses in Drury Lane, on Tower
Hill, and in the Minories.

His expenditure on his library, during the term of his
captivity averaged no more than 200/. a year ; but the
purchases were of the most varied character, compris-
ing works on Theology, Philosophy, Medicine, Politics,
History, and the Art of War, in English, French, Italian,
and Latin. He had in his pay a foreign and an English
Reader 3 and from time to time exchanged the books in
use at the Tower, for others from his library at Syon. 4

Losses or gains at cards now become comparatively rare
items in his accounts; he played chess and drafts, however,
and among other such recreations, we find him engaged
in, what would appear to have been, a game of military

1 Rolls in the Muniment Room of Syon House.

2 The kind-hearted Queen, who had never ceased to interest herself
in the Earl, or to intercede in his favour, occasionally 9ent him
delicacies from the royal table; and we meet with several entries
of "rewards" paid to the servant who brought him "jellies from

3 To Francesco Petrozani for reading Italian to the Earl 7/. — Syon
House Rolls. The English reader was the John Elkes, who, in 161 1,
brought charges against his maste r in relation to the Gunpowder Plot.
See ante, page 303.

4 See Appendix XIX.

03 J


a.d. tactics, or Kriegspiel. 1 There is also a payment for " trim-
15 4^ 3 2 m ing and rigging" the model of a war vessel, probably for
the instruction of the future Lord Admiral of England.

Among the physical exercises of the prisoner mention
is made of fencing, battledore, tennis and bowling. 2

When after the payment of his fine, the Earl could still
discover no disposition on the part of the King to restore
him to liberty, he set to work to make his prison life
as agreeable as circumstances would allow, and his
expenditure in luxuries now became very much larger
than during the earlier period of his captivity. In 16 16
he disbursed no less than 3,368/. in silver plate ; 3 in-
cluding " Chargers, Scantlings, Plates and Bowls," and
in the preceding year his account for personal apparel
exceeded 1,000/. To an inmate of the Tower the
opportunities of wearing the Garter must have been
few ; yet we find him purchasing " a new George," in
order, perhaps, not to be outdone in magnificence by
the Earl of Somerset, who was at that time under
sentence of death for Overbury's murder, and who
was seen " with his Garter and George about his neck,
walking- and talking with the Earl of Northumberland." *

£ s. d.
1 " For an inlaid Table for the practice of the art

militaire 4180

For making a mould of Brass to cast soldiers in, and

making 140 of them with wire for pikes .... 2 16 8

Making 300 leaden men with a box to put them in . 178

The Table and points, and gilding the same .... 317 6 "

a " Paid for making a Bowling Alley in Lord Cobham's garden in
the Tower, 14/. 8s. gd." — Syon House Rolls.

3 It is difficult to reconcile such expenditure with the Earl's frequent
pleas of poverty, which appear indeed to have rested rather on the hope
of escaping payment of the fine, or procuring it to be greatly reduced,
than upon his actual circumstances.

* Chamberlain to Dudley Carleton, 20th July, 1616. The writer
expresses surprise that James's infamous favourite should have been
allowed to retain the Garter : " It is much spoken of how foreign Prim t s
of that Order (to let our own pass) can digest to be coupled in society



Rewards and donations to the prison attendants figure a.d.
largely in the Eari's accounts. Every official within the )0 l_!
walls of the Tower, from the Lieutenant and his family, 1
down to the keeper of the lions, 2 participated in his
liberality, so that it is not surprising to learn that
" warders made great moan " when they ultimately lost
so profitable a prisoner. 3

Adversity had not, it appears, had the effect of taming
the Earl's violent temper : John Chamberlain writes to
his friend Carleton, " It may be you have heard of the
Earl of Northumberland swaggering not long since in
the Tower, and beating Ruthven — the Earl Gowrie's
brother — for crossing him in his walk." 4

Although the noble Prisoner seems to have claimed a
monopoly of this particular walk, 5 yet Ruthven would
appear to have incurred the Earl's wrath for a more
serious offence than merely coming between the wind
and his nobility during a morning stroll ; for there was

with a man lawfully and publicly convicted of so foul a fact ; or how a
man civilly dead, and corrupt in Blood, and so no Gentleman, should
continue a Knight of the Garter." — Birch's James the First, vol. i. p. 419.
The King, however, chose to lay it down in this case, that Felony, unless
accompanied by Treason, did not justify expulsion from the order.

1 Among numerous other such payments we find a charge for "two
pendant rubies, presented to the Lieutenant's daughter."

2 " The reward by Lord Percy for seeing the lions, with Lady
Penelope, and his two sisters, six shillings." As early as in the reign of
the third Henry we hear of a white bear and an elephant (the first
landed in England) being kept in the Tower. Lions were first imported
in the sixteenth century, and the Lieutenant was allowed sixpence a day
for the food of each of these. The allowance for feeding " poor
prisoners " was only a penny a day. — See Bailey's Tower of London.

3 See'page 359. 4 Original State Papers.

s Fifty years later Pepys writes to Sir William Coventry: "To
the Tower .... we walked down to the Stone Walk, which is
called, it seems, My Lord of Northumberland's Walk, being paved
by some one of that title that was Prisoner there : and at the end of it
there is a piece of stone upon the wall with his armes upon it, and holes
to put in a peg for every turn they make upon that walk." — Diarv,
vol. ii. p. 314. The charge for materials for paving this walk appears in
the Earl's accounts.



a.d. an old standing grievance against him in consequence of
15 ill 32 Ruthyen having many years before accused Lord North-
umberland of being the author of some defamatory versis
written against a lady, who was alleged to have rejected
and resented his addresses. 1

During the twenty years that had elapsed between
his accession and his committal to the Tower, the Earl
had, to a great extent, succeeded in re-establishing the
damaged fortunes of his house ; but his long absence

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 28 of 31)