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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not already done, you are to proceed thereunto, for the
terror of others, with expedition." 2

In a subsequent letter Elizabeth accuses Sussex of
want of zeal, and a leaning towards her disaffected
subjects, to which he replies : " If, after all my service,
this hard opinion be conceived, it is durus sermo, which
has been the sauce to my service for twelve years past." 3
With Thomas Gargrave, the Sheriff of Yorkshire, the
Queen is better satisfied, for she writes to thank him for
his " diligent service " in hanging matters, and bids have
special regard to "preserve for our use all goods and
lands within your sheriffwyck belonging to rebels." 4

Cecil, not to be outdone in zeal, recommends that, as a
preliminary to execution, the culprits " be putte to some
feare, and thereto also, as nede should be, being pynched
tuith some lack of foode and 'with pay tie of imprisonment. "
Lord Hunsdon, whose instincts (when deference to the
harder nature of his royal cousin did not warp them.)
were ever humane and generous, pleaded more than once
for mercy to these " pore simple creatures ; " but this
was not to be, and the scenes which ensued were hardly

1 Sussex to Cecil, 4th January, 1570. Original State Papers.

2 Queen Elizabeth to Sussex, nth January, 1570.. Ibid.

3 Sussex to Cecil, 10th January, 1570. Ibid.

* In a letter to Cecil dated 6th January Gargrave urges that all
obstinate Catholics who still "refuse service and communion"
should be '.'attainted in pnamaiire for one year, and then death for



surpassed in barbarity, though necessarily more limited a.d. 1570
in extent, by those enacted under the authority of the
Duke of Alva in the Low Countries. Sussex had ap-
pointed Sir Robert Bowes his Provost- Marshal and, if
report did not belie him, the gallant defender of Barnard
Castle, (whose treatment by the rebels had not, it must
be allowed, been calculated to soften his heart towards
them) showed no backwardness in the performance of
the duties of his orim office. 1

On the 10th January the Lord Lieutenant writes to
him (he is speaking, not of heads of cattle, but of
Englishmen) : " I have sett the nombres to be executed
in every towne, under the name of every towne, as I did
in your other booke, which draweth nere to two hundred ;
wheryn you maye use your dyscretyon in takyng more or
lesse in every towne as you shall see juste cause for the
offences and fitness for example ; so as in the whole, you
pass not of all kynde of such, the nomber of two hundred ;
amongst whom you maye not execute eny that hathc
f?'cholds or is noted welthye ; for so is the Queues
Majestyes plesier, by her speciall comandment" 2

Sir George Bowes,- severe as he was, showed a desire
to discriminate between the innocent and guilty, 3 but the
Queen was on economical grounds impatient of the tardi-
ness of his proceedings :

" Her Majesty doth much marvell that she doth not
hear from me that the execution is yet ended, and that
she is disburdened of her charges that was consydered
for that respect ; and therefore I praye you to use

1 In hanging one Harrison in his own orchard he is said to have
remarked that "The best fruit a tree can bear is a dead traitor." Sadler
Papers, ii. 82.

2 Memorials, p. 143.

3 " But the time is convenient to be somewhat prolonged, for in this
course I find the constables in sundrie places hath accused thes that did
leaste, and excused the greatest offenders." — Bowes to Cecil. Ibid.



a.d. expedytion for I fear this lyngering will brede displeasure
1528-1572 for us both; . ,

Once again : " It is thought that the executions be
very longe in doynge, and I fere the Oueene's Majestye
will find cause of offence that her chardge contynued
so long for that purpose ; 2 therefore I praye you make
all the haste you can to avoyde offence, for a lyteil
matter will styrre offence where charge groweth by it." 3

A lyteil matter ! Only the time required to make sure
that innocent men might not be included among the
seven hundred wretches sentenced to be hanged as an
example. 4

On the 19th of January Cecil writes : —

" I would have you make the examples grete in Ripon
and Tadcaster ; and therefore, if you find not sufficient
nombres within the towns that be in the doings of the
late rebellion, take of other towns and bryng them to the
execution in those places." s

In December Sussex had written : " I guess the number
that shall be executed will be 600 or 700 of the common
sort besides the prisoners taken in the field, 6 " and this

1 Cecil to Sussex. State Papers. Addenda.

a In reference to the cost of the garrisons, which it was thought nec-
essary to maintain, during the course of these wholesale executions.

3 Memorials, p. 153.

*■ An instance of the result of the hasty proceedings thus en-
joined is given in a letter written by Mathew Shafto, in January 157°-
to implore Sir Henry Percy's intercession on behalf of his brother
James, under sentence for immediate execution. " The truth is, that
James Shafto of Tamfieldlighe, tenant to the Erie of Northumberland, is
prycked to die. which is meant for my father and not for my brother, tor
he was never tenant to any man .... but was a household servant
and a young man and no retayner. For Chryst's passion helpe now to
save his lyfe, for tomorrow he will suffer unless your letters helpe."—
Original State Papers. Record Office. 5 Memorials, p. 1 60.

6 Sussex to Cecil, December 28th, 1569. He came to be thoroughly
ashamed of the work in which lie was employed. " I was first a lieu-
tenant, I was after little better than a marshal!, I had then nothing leit
but to direct hanging matters." — To Sir Robert Cecil, 23rd January,
1570. State Papers.



estimate is borne out by the detailed report drawn up in a.d. 1570
October 1573 by Lord Huntingdon, who put the number
of rebels actually executed at " seven hundred and odd,
. . wholly of the meanest of the people, except the
Aldermen of Durham, Plomtrie, 1 their preacher, the con-
stables, and fifty serving-men." 2 Of the gentlemen con-
cerned in the rising many had succeeded in making their
escape ; but those who submitted or were apprehended,
were tried by a royal commission assembled at York
in March, and were as a rule convicted, but pardoned
on payment of a fine, the principle of these proceedings
being thus laid down : —

" We mean not onely to receive to composition all
such persons as shall submit themselves to our orders
and have not above v li in lande . . . according to our
commission and instruction in that case, but also to staye
execution of such persons as have no landes and shall be
for the Queens benefit attainted." 3

So the royal exchequer was filled and " the meaner
sort" paid with their poor lives the penalty of overstrained
allegiance to their Lords.

1 Sir Thomas Plomtrie described as "an old Queen Mary's Priest,"
who had celebrated mass in Durham Cathedral on the first outbreak.
The refrain to a popular ballad on his execution is :

" Well adaye, well adaye, well adaye, woe is mee !
Syr Thomas Plomtree is hanged on a tree ! " —

Sadler Papers.

3 Memorials. The Bishop of Durham, whose legal right to all forfeitures
by attainder, or in course of law, Elizabeth had arbitrarily set aside in her
own favour, in consideration of her " heavy charges in suppressing this
rebellion," informed Cecil that among the people within his jurisdiction
" the number of offenders is so grete that few innocent are left to trye
the guiltie." — Lansdowne AJSS., 12, 29. It must be borne in mind,
however, that suspicion of attachment to the ancient faith constituted

3 Sussex to Cecil, March 1570. State Papers.

VOL. II. 8l G


a.d. ' The death of the Regent Murray had thrown Scottish

J 5 2 _^57 2 affairs into inextricable disorder, and given strong
encouragement to Queen Mary's party on both sides of
the border. Not only were the negotiations for the
surrender of the English insurgent chiefs completely
broken off, but their sympathisers made several
destructive raids into England. 1 In reprisal for these
acts, and even yet more to punish and intimidate those
border lords who had been most conspicuous in
harbouring her rebel subjects, Elizabeth now directed
an invasion of Scotland on a formidable scale. 2

In the middle of April the English forces to the
number of 12,000 horse and foot, crossed the frontier in
three columns; Sussex and Hunsdon from the East
Marches into Teviotdale, Forster from the Middle
Marches, Lord Scrope from the West Marches. They
met with little organised opposition but, as in the
progress of Atilla's hordes, it was long ere the grass
grew again where their horses' feet had trod. For five
days the fair and fertile vales of Teviot and the adjoin-
ing districts were ravaged with fire and sword, and on
his return- to England Sussex reported to the Queen that
his .armies had levelled fifty castles and burnt above five
hundred villages. 3

1 The Earl of Westmoreland was charged by Sadler with having taken
part in these expeditions. See Memorials, p. 297.

2 " Since the Regent's death the Borderers have maintained our
rebels and invaded England; wherefore for which purpose my Lord of
Sussex is now crossed with an army to invade them and make revenge,
whereof the Scotch heering do make all the meanes they can to be
reconciled, but they must feel the sword and the firebrand." — Cecil to
Sir Henry Norris, 22nd May, 1570, Cabala, 162.

3 Full details of this merciless raid will be found under the misleading
heading of " A Note of a Journey into Teviotdale. by the Earl 01"
Sussex," and " The Rode of the Lord Scrope." — Ibid. p. 164.

In his official Report, Sussex, alter enumerating the ravages com-
mitted, says : " So as there be few in that country that have received the
rebels or invaded England, that have either castles for themselves or



While the Queen was thus engaged in chastising a.d. 1570
the Scots for the cold hospitality they had afforded to
her subjects, Lady Northumberland continued her weary
efforts to effect the liberation of her husband, now in
the charge of William Douglas of Lochleven ; her main
object being to raise such a sum of money as would in-
duce his custodian to set him free or, at the least, to
connive at his escape. The royal displeasure, however,
created an insuperable barrier between her and her former
friends, who turned a deaf ear to her appeals, even her
own brother refusing to hold communication with her : ■
and when Lord Hunsdon answered her letter to him
with a few kindly words and the promise of his good
offices on her behalf, 2 the Queen angrily censured him
for maintaining relations with the rebels.

Such was the dread which she could inspire that
even the old soldier, whose loyalty might have been
thought beyond question, endeavoured to deprecate the

(suspicion of his sovereign by falsely attributing to
himself a most unworthy motive for his courteous and
kindly act.

" And so I wrote a few lynes tohyr, the coppy whereof
I send you, as also the coppy of hyr letter to me : by
thyse meanes I gott parfytt knowledge where they wer all,
as also of her removynge to Hewme ; whereof I dyd
present lie advertise the Regent, whereof he had no
certayne knowledge byfore ; for both Ferneyhead and

houses for their tennants, besides the loss and spoil of their other

I 1 " The Earl of Worcester declined to receive a servant who came
with a message from his sister the Countess of Northumberland, until
she should submit herself to the Queen." — State Papers.

J The Countess of Northumberland gratefully acknowledged Lord
Hunsdon's "comfortable letters, though I had thought that nothing
but death could have separated me from my husband," and begs of him
to make intercession with the Queen for her children and servants.
17th January, 1570. — Ibid.

33 G 2



a.d. Buckleugh had dcnyed the havynge of them to the
Regent, and this was the cawse of my sending to hyr,
whereyn I trust I have gyven Hyr Majesty no cawse of
offense." x

Henry Percy's connection with Cecil's family gave
him a certain influence which he might now doubtless
have turned to good account in favour of his unfortunate
brother, and Lady Northumberland urgently appealed
to him to exert it. He was too careful of his own
interests, however, to incur the risk of exposing him-
self to suspicion of sympathy with the disaffected, and
accordingly demanded authority for entering into a
correspondence with the Earl with a view to induce
him to submit himself to the Queen's mercy. Having
obtained this he sent Cecil, for approval, the draft
of his letter which was certainly well calculated to
remove all apprehension of undue fraternal affection on
his part. 2

" Sir, with my humble and hearty commendations. I
have spoken with my lord-lieutenant concerning that
liberty the Queen's Majesty did give me in advising my
brother ; and finding him nothing willing, neither of him-
self nor fur me, to enter into the matter without some
commission to be showed, makes me to stay of my inten-
tion ; and before that I proceeded further I thought good
to show unto you the sum of my meaning which I send
herewith ; most humbly desiring that if it be such as may-
be allowed of, I might understand the same by your good
means ; and if it be to the contrary to give me your
friendly advice, as far as is reason for you to do, how

1 Hunsdon to Cecil, Berwick, 24th January-, 1570. Original State
Papers. Record Office.

a This letter, though more properly belonging to the life of the 8th
Earl, refers so directly to the incidents under review that it is here



I shall proceed. The cause I am so scrupulous is that I a.d. i.
have many enemies, and such as both for ill-will to myself,
and gain of my title, goeth about by undue means to take
me in trap, and by practice hath put the same in use since
my coming home, whereupon I am the more afraid to
deal. Yet considering that it is the office of a natural
brother to seek all means possible to make help in time
of extremity, I would be loth to leave that which, by
the goodness of God and mercifulness of the Prince,
might be attained for his commodity ; for I hear that he
is very penitent and his wife in great misery. This I
have written is so gross that I am ashamed any of
judgment should have sight of it, but, Sir, for God's
cause .... think I am no lattenist nor secretary, nor
know the rules of congruity, and therefore if there be any
matter offensive in it, impute it to ignorance, for my
meaning is as firm towards her Majesty, without respect
of brother, as ever parent's 'care was towards his child ;
and until I hear from you I live in this behalf. Sir,
whereas my brother had one hundred pounds land in
fee-simple of the old inheritance of my ancestors, and
one hundred marks' by my mother, I perceive that there
is great and earnest means to get the same lands, or
at least a lease thereof if the other cannot be obtained,
and this done by my enemies, which I humbly desire your
friendship to hinder their intentions ; for the patrimony
now belonging to the house is not great, and if the
Queen's mercy might be extended towards my brother,
I trust that his behaviour should be such, and service, as
by all means possible he would do to win again that
which he hath justly lost ; and if it should come to me
there should no man, whatsoever he were, be more
forward with body life and lands to advance the Queen's
Majesty's service or pleasure than I. And so shall her
Majesty have of these talents God hath presently sent
I 35


a.d. me. And thus being ashamed to trouble you in your

152S-157- we Jghty causes, I humbly take my leave. From Beamish

Lodge, 1 my mother's house that was, this vij of June


" Your most assured cousin to command,

" H. Percy."

Enclosed was this draft of a letter from Sir Henry
Percy to his brother :

" My Lord, the great misgovernment of your doings
is such —

" First towards God whom you have in outward show
professed ;

" Secondly towards your sovereign and gracious and
merciful Mistress, which by your words you have
affirmed devoutly to her own person, the Loyalty of
your service towards her Majesty's crown and dignity,
the breach whereof is much against your honour.

" Thirdly the great offence to your commonwealth
and country, by the bloody spoil of a great number of poor
innocent .persons, which hath suffered by your means
and occasion which, the simplest and meanest of the
same, is not inferior unto you before the face of God,
whose blood shall be required at your hands : which
more troubleth my conscience than any of the rest
of your facts (although the whole to be condemned

utterly). ^ <

" And these your attempts most misliked by yourselt
in other persons, as in France and in other countries
the attempts against their Prince when you have heard
thereof. For then you did manifestly affirm that no
subject ought to levy arms against their Prince, which

1 The seat of his wile's family, the Harbottals, in Durham. See ante,
page 3-



now is less to be excused in you, having that con- a.d. 1570
sideration before.

" My Lord, you know very well I am not an orator
whereby I can sufficiently set forth in words your
offences. But I am sorry that your doings are such as
the grossest-headed man of the world may make
manifest the wickedness of your acts. Wherefore I
will leave further to speak of them presently, trusting
that God hath given you such grace ere this that you
have lamented the same.

" My Lord, now considering what miseries and plagues
that God suffereth to light upon his people, and that there
can be no such offence done to his Majesty but by
repentance the same might be forgiven, moveth me to
advise your lordship that chiefly and principally you
seek favour at his hands.

"And next, in the which thing I do most condemn you
for : I neither see nor can learn by what means you have
sought the favour or pardon of your sovereign since
your departure ; which truly, my lord, you have offended
so grievously both to her own self, to the disturbance of
her commonwealth and subjects, as also to her great
charges and impoverishment of her people, that I am
ashamed to give you my advice to seek for that which
in mine own opinion is scarce pardonable.

" Nevertheless, having good proof of the unspeakable
mercy of my mistress, as hath well appeared from the
first of her reign, and also the motion of nature makes
me, contrary to the bonds of experience discretion or
reason, by these to move you by all the means you may
possibly to attain unto her highness' favour : which if you
will not do by all that wisdom that God hath lent you,
and also by the means and use of all your friends that
either will or dare attempt for you, I shall utterly
renounce the part of nature that is atwixt us, as also



a.d. condemn you for the "wickedest imp that any of our

J * 2 " 2 race or country hath brought forth.

"Wherefore, my Lord, I require you to avoid and cast
off all such Instruments as hath made you obstinate or
stiff-necked to enter into these ill and ungodly actions,
which I know hath not only sprung of your own self, and
that the same be no means or occasion to keep you from
doing the part of an humble subject, which is in this,
seeking, as I have said before, by all means to attain
unto the favour and mercy of the Prince : which if you
do seek earnestly may by the grace of God attain to
some crood end : or at the least to do vou no hindrance


but to show your dutiful inclination towards her Majesty.
I shall by all the means I can, both by friends and my
own travel, prefer the sum of your request, so that I
may perceive it doth come of your own mere disposition.
And before I give you further advice to direct you by
my opinion which way to compass this thing, I will
leave until I have heard from you, and what your
inclination is thereunto ; and so for that part I end.

" My Lord, as I have said before, the rightful causes
that men-have to condemn you both towards God, your
Prince and country, yet have I, who is your sole and
natural brother, occasion to burthen you also ; whose
advice of long time you have had no will to follow.

" And by the uncarefulness of yourself, and vour own
posterity, you have left them in miserable case, not
knowing either where harbour, nor yet any sustenance to
have relieved them withal ; had it not been the bounti-
ful goodness of the Queen's Majesty, who hath graciously
considered them.

"And for myself, who is as yet heir male unto your
house, which every godly wise and good natural man
would be careful of to preserve, you have done by your
means without care thereof utterly to ruin and destroy the



same. And more: had I not lived under such a gracious a.d. 1570
mistress (as I do) my own life, by suspicion of your
doings, might have been in hazard. 1

11 My Lord, to be plain, had her Majesty been as willing
to have executed extremity as my enemies ready to procure
displeasure against me, I had tasted thereof; and not only
I but, for your cause many of your honourable and great
friends had in suspicion by your means. But in us the
old proverb was fulfilled, that truth sought no corners.
I would you had been in the same case, for so had your
doings neither have been so grievous to yourself nor
heavy to your friends.

" My Lord, as I have said before, I cannot further
advise you till I have tasted of your inclination, and I
see it is hard means to convey any letters to you, and
in drift of time may grow inconvenient. And for God's
cause have good consideration of this I write unto you,
and think you cannot do anything that may justly
deserve the Prince's favour unless it come of her only
and mere goodness. And forget not in what case you
have left your four children the young ladies ; I may
term them the young beggars, for so had they been had
not the Prince's liberality been more than the goodness of
their friends.

" And what injury you have done unto my poor children,
for that it toucheth myself, I will leave unto your own

" My Lord, I pray let no fantastical bruit make you
have opinion of a future time, nor any aid, assistance, or
maintenance that shall come from any other places to
support the action you have entered in ; for they be but
devices, and who trusteth unto them shall be deceived.
And, to make an end, if that I find your lordship not

1 Originally "myght haue hassard the same," but altered as in text.

S 9


a.d. willing and glad to seek means to attain unto the Queen's
1 5 2 _^_[57 2 Majesty's favour, accept and take me for one of the
greatest enemies you have living, and one that shall be
most glad to be employed to correct your offence, which
otherwise you shall find me as natural diligent and
travelsome a brother as any man shall have.

" And thus, desiring of God that you may give occasion
to attain unto the Queen's mercy, as also her Majesty
willing to receive the same, which shall be my daily
prayer. From Beamish, the vij th of June 1570.

"H. Percy." 1

The studied harshness of this letter 2 was probably
intended to gratify Elizabeth, but must none the less
have proved cold comfort to the unfortunate Earl, who,
not deigning to defend himself against his brother's
reproaches, now appealed to some of his former friends,
claiming their intercession in his favour with the
Queen : —

" My good Lord, I have contynued a long tyme not
only a banisht man but also a prisoner, and glad wold seke
the favor" of her Majestye my sovereign. I praye your
lordship to stande my good lorde and frende, not only
for your furtherance for the obtaynyng of the same, but
also your help with the rest of the lordes at this con-
vencion to grante me some rasement and libertye

1 From Original State Papers {Domestic ; Elizabeth), Record Office.
vol. 71, Nos. 5 and 5 1 . The spelling, which is very peculiar, has been
modernised throughout.

2 In justice to Sir Henry Percy it must be admitted that he entertained
more affection for his brother than he allowed this letter to betray, for

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 8 of 31)