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 31 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 31 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the halls of his ancestors amid the ringing shouts of his
sturdy Northmen, whose love and allegiance neither the
frowns of royalty, nor the absence of many years could

Within the limits of his enlarged prison, contemplating,
with the calmness of philosophy, the turmoil of social
and political life in which he had ceased to be an actor, 1
he passed his remaining clays among his children, a few
tried friends, the learned men who had been the congenial
companions of his captivity, and those books which had
proved the chief solace of his troubled existence.
Petworth was his principal residence, but he paid period-
ical visits to London and Syon, 3 and passed some portion
of each year with his daughter at Penshurst.

1 By command of the King.

2 There is no record of his attendance in Parliament after his release
from the Tower. Chamberlain writes to Carleton on 22nd February,
1624, that "the Earl of Northumberland was either not called to Parlia-
ment, or, if writs pro forma were issued, he had been wished to forbear
and absent himself." — State Papers.

3 Shortly after his liberation he wrote to the Earl of Middlesex



Buckingham was now all powerful, and even if the a.d. 1624
Earl had been ambitious of restoration to the royal
favour, he could not have brought himself to receive it
filtered through the hands of the arrogant Court favourite.
Indeed he would have found himself sadly out of place
arnid the crowd of new names and faces, by which the
ancient English nobility had been swamped. 1

In his retirement, however, it is evident that he con-
tinued to watch with interest the progress of public
affairs ; for he caused his agents to keep him informed of
the proceedings in Parliament ; and among his papers of
this period, 2 we find full reports of the discussions on
that pretension to the exercise of an unquestioned royal

excusing himself for not having returned his visit, as he had no town
house {Eart of Dclawarre's J/SS. Knoll), but in the following year,
15th November, 1623, Chamberlain informs Carleton that " the Earl of
Northumberland has hired Sir Richard Harrison's house in the Minories,
and lives there." — Suite Papers.

1 At no period of English history had honorary distinctions been so
lavishly or so indiscriminately bestowed. James had discovered the money
value of his patronage, and each grade of rank had now its stipulated price.
A baronage cost 6,oco/., and the right of enriching themselves by the
creation of Peers was among the rewards that the King conferred upon
his favourites : —

" The Lord Hay is yet here plotting to get his t:co barons which the
King hath bestowed upon him." — Chamberlain to Carleton, 5th April,
161 7. ''Eight Barons are to be made, and Sir Robert Rich has the
benefit of one for procuring Lord Hay's marriage." — The same to the
same, 17th January, 161S. The creation of an order of hereditary
knighthood now became another fruitful source of revenue : —

"The titles of Baronet, invented by Salisbury, were sold, and two
hundred patents of that description were disposed of for so many
1,000/." — Hume's History of England, vol. iv. 2S6. Even simple
knighthood, which up to this time had been a much-coveted reward for
public service, was now made the means of supplying the King's ex-
travagance. In imitation of the course to which, in his straits for money,
Henry III. had once resorted. James caused summonses to be issued
through the sheriffs, requiring all persons possessed of 4c/. a year in
land to pay the fees of kniyhthood, or to compound with the royal
commissioners. Charles I. followed this precedent. — See Fa'dera, xvi.

P- 35°-

- They are preserved among the MSS. at Alnwick Cattle in the form
of News letters.



a.d. prerogative, which led to such important results a quarter
1564-1632 f ,

J 1_ d 01 a century later.

On Charles's accession the Earl once more took
his place in Parliament, but only to oppose the at-
tempts of the young King, and the favourite who ruled
him, to override constitutional restraints. With the
Earls of Arundel, Bristol, and Middlesex, he was con-
spicuous among the Peers in his championship of the
rights and privileges of the House of Commons, whose
cause he warmly espoused against all attempts to win
him over to the Court. The Duke of Buckingham went
so far as to use something approaching to a threat, to
induce the Earl to subscribe towards a royal subsidy
which Parliament had declined to vote :

" It is common bruit of the Town that your Lordship
is resolved to refuse the Loan to the King now on
foot. I beg your Lordship to think well of it, before
you refuse. This matter is not great, and is generally
assented to by the rest of your Rank. To refuse will not
advantage your Lordship in the Opinion of others, and
will frustrate my endeavour to settle your Lordship and
your Children in the King's Favour." x

Menace was the last argument to which Northumber-
land would prove amenable :

" Not one of the refractory Lords hath come in,'
writes a contemporary, "though generally said that
Northumberland yielded, but nothing so." 2

1 Duke of Buckingham to Earl of Northumberland, 1st February.
1627. — State Papers.

2 Lord Haughton to Sir Thomas Wentworth, 19th May, 1 f > ^ 7 •
The Writer proceeds to inform Charles's future Minister, who was at thi
time one of the most strenuous opponents of his arbitrary measures.
that Buckingham had boasted that he had reduced him to a dik

for "if you refuse [to pay the Subsidy] you shad run the fortune ol
other Delinquents: and if you come in at the last Hour, in:
Vineyard, he hopes it will lessen you in the country."— Strafford L ■
vol. i. p. 5S.



The ninth Earl of Northumberland was one of those a.d. 1632
men whose faults and vices are patent to all the world,
while their higher and nobler qualities are discernible by
only the few. He was, moreover, prone to depreciate
himself by the profession of a cynicism of which there
was no trace in the actuating motives of his life. It is
difficult to delineate such a character ; but the portrait
which he has drawn of himself, if it fails to do justice
to his unfailing kindness of heart, his generosity, and his
fortitude under afflictions, presents no unfaithful picture
of the man's nature :

" I will saye thus much confidentlye, and boldlye,
though not proudly nor arrogantlye, for my defence : I
was neuer Extortioner ; I neuer gayned by Oppression ;
I was neuer Perfidious ; I neuer ought any Man any
thinge that he had not satisfaction for ; I neuer sought
any Man's Blood ; I was euer true to my Prince and
Contry howesouer I might be mistaken ; and I haue euer
held the Course of iuste Proceedings in so highe a
Veneration, as I neuer could consente to make a Fault a
Vertue in my Freind, and Vice in my Enemy ; nor a
Vertue in my Enemy other then a Vertue ; being sorry
with my Harte whensoeuer I saw a good deede in my
Enemye punnishte. Any man that shall hould this
ground, shall neuer be esteemed partiall ; and he that
will not be partiall, the World, I assure you, shall neuer
be fearefull ho we he will deale with them. Howesoeuer
some doe lay uppon me the Taxe of an euill Nature,
when I will not be ledd with their Willes : for the Wiser
sorte I dare putt mysclff to their Censure ; for the Weaker
sorte, iff they wilbe angry or unreasonable, I must beare
it with patience, and not be angry because they are
angry." *

1 See the Earl of Northumberland's Letter to Lord Lnollys, Appendix

5 f\ 1


a.d. We catch some pleasant glimpses of the old Earl

15 ill 32 as, with children and grandchildren by his side, he
strolled under the magnificent old trees at Petworth, or
busied himself among the flower-beds and hot-houses
at Syon. " I hope time will bring it about again," he
writes in inviting his former secretary, now advanced
to the dignity of a peerage and ambassadorship, " that
we may commemorate some old passages, and laugh at
what is past, joy at the present, and hope for better
to come, which none shall be gladder of than your old
master." '

In the summer of 1632 we find him at Penshurst,
on his last visit to his favourite daughter. He died a
few months later, in his seventieth year, and on the
twenty-seventh anniversary of the discovery of the
miserable plot which had cast so dark a shadow over
his life. 3

Of the ninth Earl of Northumberland's seven
brothers, only three survived him. 3 William, who is de-
scribed as " a man of learning a-id genius," 4 appears to
have turned these advantages to little account. He was

1 Earl of Northumberland to Viscount Dorchester, 14th August, 1620.
— State Papers. And again, a few weeks later : " You may remember
having said, when walking under the vine wall at Syon, that you were
drunk with eating of grapes. I pray you be drunk again : you may
take what you will of any fruits there." — Ibid.

3 He was buried at Petworth, and from his hasty interment, within
twenty-four hours of his decease, we may conclude that he had died of
one of those malignant disorders then so prevalent in England.

3 Sir Alan Percy had died of palsy on the nth November, 161 1.
Chamberlain writes to Carleton on 27th November : —

" Epsley was long in the Gate House, and being delivered about a
fortnight since went that morning to visit Sir Alan Percy, and was the
first that discovered him to be dead in his bed." — Birch's James the
First, vol. i. p. 650.

* Collins.



in constant trouble — at one time in the Tower on a a.d. 1632
charge of homicide ; at another in the Fleet Prison for
debt. In 1638 mention is made of him as living ob-
scurely at Oxford, where " he drinks nothing but ale ;" l
and ten years later he is stated to have died "an aged
Bachelor, in Penny Farthing Street (Oxford), after he had
lived a melancholy and retired life many years ; and
was buried in the cathedral of Christchurch, near to
the grave of Sir Henry Gage, 2Sth May, 1648." 2

George Percy, one of the original " Adventurers for
Virginia," whither he had accompanied Sir Walter
Raleigh, is mentioned as being Governor of James
Town in 161 1 3 and as having there married Anne
Ffloyd. Of Richard, whose early life gave promise of
much military distinction, nothing is recorded after his
elder brother's committal to the Tower, except that he
died abroad in 1647.

1 Letter from the Reverend G. Garrard, 10th May, 1638. — Strafford
Letters, vol. ii. p. 166.

a Wood's JlfSS., Ashmole Museum, 8466, folio 4.

3 General Historie of Virginia, by Captain John Smith (London
1627), p. 130.



aigcnton 19trcg,

Born 29th September, 1602.
Died 13th October, 166S.

Contempora ry

English Sovereigns.

James I.
Charles I.

[Commonwealth, 1649.]
Charles II. ace. 1660.

a.d. a afcgs^ ^ssstfr HE Earl of Northumberland is now a
1602-166S 1k&£[email protected]^

happy man, for God hath blessed
him with a yonge soonn, to which
Her Majesty intendith to be God
Mother." L

" Yesterday was the Earl of North-
umberland's sonne christened at Essex House ; the
Queen and the Lady Marquise (of Northampton), her
deputie, being Godmother ; and the Lord Treasurer
and Lord Admiral Nottingham, Godfathers. The
child is called Algernon, after one of his first Ancestors
that came of the House of Brabant. It is thought

1 Sir Robert Cecil to Sir George Carew, 1st October, 1602.— Co/.
Cdrew MSS. vol. in. p. 345.






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 31 of 31)