Henry Martyn Dexter.

The England and Holland of the Pilgrims online

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Windsor. For a month the experts had been going over the
intercepted correspondence, with the result of absolute assur-
ance of her connection, always as a consenting and often as an
oriffinatiu"' force, ^\^th most of the recent troubles of the kin" -
dora. Elizabeth declared the demonstration perfect and the in-
ference unavoidable. She told the French ambassador that
Mary had plotted to kill her.^ He, for his master, hoped that
she would not be hard with Mary, and she replied that she
could make no more promises. On Oct. 8 the twelve judges
conferred at Westminster with as many peers as could be as-
sembled and decided that Mary must be formally tried. Where-
upon they, with all other peers of age in England, were re-
quired to gather at Fotheringay for that purpose.

ley — Sept. 5, 1572 — enclosing- earnest recommendations of what should be done
at once for the safety of the queen and the realm, the first of which was : " Furth-
with to cuTTE OF the SCOTTISH QUENE'S heade : ipsa est nostri fundi calam-
itas." — f.ans. ifs. lo : 41.

* E'jerton T'apers, Oct. 4, l.'SO.


The assize began on Oct. 12. As Walsingliam, because of
his close connection with the evidence, was obHged to attend,
Davison remained at Court in waiting upon the queen. Still
shrinking from the last extremity, Elizabeth now through Davi-
son instructed AValsingham ^ that, if Mary would confess in
private, before the formal opening of the court, to one or more
of the Privy Council, " her request was not to be refused."
But Mary assumed the airs of injured innocence." And, as all
the hacriminating evidence was in the cipher handwriting of her
two secretaries, she had the meanness to insist that, if they
were guilty, she had not Ivnown of their criuie. Her intention
clearly was to caj^ture the court by her womanly arts, which so
seldom had failed her. So consmnmate an actress was she that
she emphasized an indignant denial of plotting against the
queen's life by bursting into tears as she exclaimed : " I would
never make shipwreck of my soul by conspiring the destruc-
tion of my dearest sister." ^ AU resulted in the only way in
which an honest trial could result, in the unanimous conviction
of Mary as having conceived and plotted Elizabeth's destruc-

Parliament, which, after having been prorogued twice, met on
Oct. 29, considered the e\adence down to its smallest particulars
and thoroughly debated every debatable point ; and unanimously
sent up to the queen their joint petition "* that '•'■ a just condem-
nation might be followed by as just an execution." To this the
queen replied ^ that, so far as her own interests were concei'ned,
she willingly would pardon her cousin now, if penitent ; that she
gladly would lay down her o^^Tl life if England thereby could be
better governed : and that her situation was so cruel and unpre-
cedented that she must have time to reflect.

Froude states the perplexities of the case very well : ^ —

To Protestant England tlie Queen of Scots was a menace of civil
war and ruin. To Elizalieth, if individually dangerous, the Queen of
Scots was also a political security. To put her to death would be at
once dreadfully distressing to herself, and would be construed by the

» S. P. Dom. Oct. S. - Cot. Ms. Calig. c. ix : 533.

' S. P. Mary Q. of Scots. Xurrative of Proceedings. Oct. 12.

* D^Ewes's Journals. Petit, of Pari.

« Speech of Q. Eliz. Camden, ii : 526. » xii : 313.


charity of the world into private revenge. The execution would involve
an entire change of policy. The shifts which had served her so long
would serve her no longer. For the remainder of the reign she was
almost certain to be involved in war, while she would risk offending
France and Scotland, whose friendship was of vital consequence to

After three clays' delay Elizabeth requested Parliament to
find " some other way." She seems to have favored an Act fix-
ing the succession of her crown upon James VI. of Scotland,
then twenty, the son of Mary by Lord Darnle}', and remitting
his mother to solitary confinement for life. But, after further
discussion for a whole week, Parliament voted imanimouslv that
the scaffold alone offered security, and sent the Lord Chancellor
and the Speaker to the Court, then at Richmond, to urge that
longer delay " would be likely to provoke the anger of Almighty

They found the queen still vacillating. Parliament adjourned
until February, and the utmost that could be gained from her
was that their action, which had been kept secret until it " was
more than a month old," was published. The eiTect was almost
startling. For twenty-four hours all bells were ringing for joy
in all steeples. London was ablaze with iUuminatioiis and bon-
fires lit up the land, the exultation of a now mainly Protestant
people over what they took to bo the assurance of a long delayed
safety. The Court migrated to Greenwich for Christmas, and
the sentence Mas sent down to Fotheringay by Lord Buckhurst
and Secretary Beale, whom Mary received with defiance, and an
embassy from Scotland and one from France appeared upon the

Just at this juncture an exciting incident occurred, as to
which Brewster may have shared DaA-ison's experiences in some
degree. AValsingham, indignant with the queen, especially be-
cause she had allowed him, as Sir Philip Sidney's security, to
be ruined financially by having to pay Sidney's debts incurred
on her behalf, liad retired from Court to his own house at Barn-
Elms. To him there came, on Jan. 10, 158G-87, one Stafford,
with what seemed a cock and bull story of a fresh conspiracy to
kill Elizabeth, to which ]\L Chasteauneuf, the French ambassa-


dor in Loiulon, was priv}'. Stafford's repute was Lad, and Wal-
singliam sliut the door in his face. Stafford at once went to
Davison, who heard him through. Perhaps the younger secre-
tary had as little real faith as his senior in the story, but he saw
that the rumor might be played off against the French remon-
strances in regard to Mary.

It was alleged that Du Trappes, Chasteauneuf's servant, and
Cordallion, his secretary, had conspired, on Chasteauneuf's ur-
gency, with one ]Moody, a prisoner in Newgate, to kill the queen
in order to serve the Queen of Scots. Moody was to explode
powder under the queen's bedroom. ^ Du Trappes was sent to
the Tower and, on Jan. 12, Chasteauneuf was summoned to
Burghley's house, Exeter House, Strand, where Burgliley,
Leicester — at home on leave from Holland — Vice-chamberlain
Ilatton and Davison were present. Chasteauneuf indignantly
insisted that Stafford had made the original suggestion and had
been threatened with exposure. On being confronted with both
Stafford and Du Trappes. it appeared that the ambassador was
at least so far connected with the plot, if there were one, as
to have said nothing about it. The matter had force enough,
and probably this was precisely what Davison foresaw, to pre-
vent the king of France from meddling further with Mary's

Almost contemporaneously five envoys from the Low Coun-
tries arrived, to appeal for additional English aid both in troops
and funds ; a demand exasperating to the queen. On Jan. 28
they had audience in the Privy Council chamber at Greenwich,
Davison being present, and her Majesty made some vigorous
utterances in French. Two days later the envoys assembled
again - in Burghley's apartment in the palace, Davison being pre-
sent, and the discussion was in Latin. In the manuscript report
of these occasions a significant remark is accredited to Davison.
Lord Admiral Howard asked if the Dutch could not avoid put-
ting an army into the field just then, because England was likely

* S. P. Dom. Eliz. cxcvii : 15. This statement is another proof that, in spite of
the usual ri^or of imprisonment, some prisoners now and then were allowed more
or less liberty.

* Hague Archives. Conference des Deputes avec les Commissaires de S. M. Feb.


to have her hands full at once with Spain. Then said Davi-
son : —

We are on the brink of open war with Spain ; with France, which
is arresting all English persons and property within her dominions ;
and with Scotland, which countries are thought to have made a league
on account of the Queen of Scotland, whom it will be absolutely neces-
sary to put to death in order to preserve the hfe of her Majesty the
Queen of England, and to be about to make war upon us. All tliis wiU
cost us, in tliis current year, at least eight hundred thousand pounds
sterling. Nevertheless her ilajesty is sure to help you so far as she
can, and I, for my part, will do my best to keep her well disposed to
your cause, even as I have aheady done, as you very weU know.

"When the report of the Stafford conspiracy came out, it ex-
asperated the public to an ahnost furious demand for Mary's
immediate execution. But Elizabeth still demurred, although
the death-warrant awaited only her signature and the Great

While matters were lingering thus the stinging news came
that Sir William Stanley and his confederate, Rowland York,
had betrayed Deventer and the fort of Zutphen to the Span-
iards. The former was considered, next to Amsterdam and Ant-
werp, the most important mart of the Provinces. It was thriving
with commerce and manufactures, and was the centre of the
Dutch ti-ade with the Baltic. The latter had been immortalized
a little before by the death of Sir Philip Sidney in fighting for
it, and was the only frnit of Leicester's recent campaign. How-
ever he might mitigate these tidings to the royal ear, the sturdy
English commonalty could contain themselves no longer. These
places fell on Jan. 19, 1586-87, and on Feb. 1, by which time
the slow-moving news had reached the English ear. Lord Ad-
miral Howard, soon to lead the English ships against the Span-
ish Armada, waited upon the queen at Greenwich and told her
plainly that it was unsafe to hesitate longer, and that the only
safe course for her JNIajesty, the government and the nation was
to execute ^lary.

For the first time the queen seemed to be moved, and she
bade him tell Davison, who, Walsingham still being in retire-
ment, was sole Secretary in attendance, to bring her the war-


rant. Howard at once gave Davison her message. Davison
accordingly procured the warrant, with other papers awaiting
signature, and placed them before her. She asked him what he
had, and he replied, " Warrants and other papers." She inquired
if the Admiral had not du'ected him to bring her the warrant
for the execution of the Queen of Scots, and he handed it to
her.^ She read it, signed it and laid it down for the bold signa-
ture to dry, explaining to him that she had delayed so long that
the world might see that the act was done reluctantly, as a neces-
sity, and in neither malice nor revenge. She then ordered him
to carry the warrant immediately to the Lord Chancellor for
the Great Seal,^ showing it to AValsingham on the way, and
then to send it down with all speed to the Commissioners. She
directed that the execution take place at Fotheringay, and ab-
solutely forbade him to trouble her more about the matter until
the deed should have been done. She also directed him to man-
age all as quietly as possible, because of her own danger.

She complained of Sir Amyas Paulet and Sir Drew Drury,
as if — no other interpretation is possible — they might have
relieved her of this dreaded responsibility by poison or other-
wise ; and she had the assurance to ask Davison if they coidd
not be prevailed upon, even then, to do her that favor. He was
certain that they could not be. But she insisted so earnestly,
putting into his mouth the very words which she would have
used to them, that he was forced to promise to state her wish to
Walsingham. Stopping to see Walsingham, he reported what
had taken place and went on to Sir Thomas Bromley, the Lord
Chancellor, who affixed the Great Seal.

The next morning the queen sent Davison word that, if he
had not been with the Lord Chancellor already, he might for-
bear until he should hear further from her. He hurried to
Greenwich to tell her that, in accordance with her express com-

^ The different accounts are here harmonized, so far as possible, reliance being
placed especially upon Davison's own. Cot. Ms. Titus, cvii : 4S.

'■^ Froude (xii: old, n.) quotes a rumor that the Seal was affixed by the Lord
Chancrllor under the impression that he was certifying some petty warrant for
the affairs of Ireland (C/iastfaumuf au lioi/- Mars. l.")S7). But, as Davison liimself
pleaded afterwards (BoiiUian. •furidici. TS4o : Si'i:.', '_'".')) that the Lord Cliaueellor
'' 'v Sealing- must needs haue knowledge," it may be doubted whether this were
not mere Court gossip.


mand and extreme urgency, the warrant had passed the Great
Seal the previous afternoon. She sulked, and he asked if she
had changed her purpose. She declared tliat she had not, but
again suggested how Sir Amyas Paulet might relieve her. Davi-
son replied that for any private person to take life was murder,
and that the most open way was safest and best, if the act were
to be done at all ; whereat she swung out of tlie room. He com-
prehended tlie state of her mind so clearly that he at once told
Sir Christojiher Ilatton, the Vice-chamberlain, aU the circum-
stances ; adding that, as in the case of the Duke of Norfolk's exe-
cution, she meant to throw off the odium upon some one else ; and
that he was resolved to do nothing that coidd leave the respon-
sibilit}' upon him. Hatton replied that he was heartily glad tliat
the matter was so far advanced, and that any man unwilliu"- to
share the responsibility ought to be hanged. The two then went
to Burghley, and the three agreed to report the matter to the
Privy Council.

When the Council met they agreed that Elizabeth had done
as much as reasonably could be expected, and each declared liis
willingness to bear his share of responsibility. They decided,
especially as she had forbidden expressly that the subject he
mentioned to her until all should be over, not to trouble her
further, but to dispatch Robert Beale, Walsingham's secretary,
and sometimes an acting Secretary of State, with the warrant
to Lord Kent and Lord Shrewsbury, the Commissioners named
to see it executed.

The queen made no allusion to the matter, excepting that one
day she told Davison that slie liad been so vexed by dreaming
the night before that Mary liad been executed tliat she could
have done to him '• I wot not what." He inquired if she " had
not a full and resolute meaning to go through with the said exe-
cution according to her warrant." She replied, swearing a vehe-
ment oath, that she had not changed her mind, but she wanted
all done so as to relieve her of blame. She asked if any answer
had come from Paulet, and suggested a certain Wingfield, who,
she thought, woidd do the deed. Davison remonstrated that she
must either endorse or disallow such an agent. If the forme]-,
she would assume a much more serious responsibility than by


■proceeding according to law. If the latter, she would do griev-
ous injustice to faithful servants. The next day, Feb. 5,
brought Paulet's answer. He covdd not leave upon his posterity
the stain of his having taken life without full warrant of law.
When Davison informed the queen, she sneered at Paulet as
" precise." ^ But on Feb. 7, Davison having to see her on
another matter, she '' swore a great oath, that it was a shame
for us all that it [Mary's execution] was not ah-eady done, con-
sidering that she [Elizabeth] had, for her part, done all that
law or reason could require of her."

On Feb. 9 Henry Talbot brought to Greenwich the tidings
that the once beautiful, and always brilliant and daring.
Queen of Scots had been executed on the pre\4ous day. Eliza-
beth heard the news with calmness. She seems to have said
nothing when the bells in all the steeples were ringing for joy.
But she sent for Vice-chamberlain Hatton the next morning
and complained that Davison had betrayed her. Davison was
informed by the Privy Council of her charge. But, convinced
of her purpose to lay her responsibility upon some one else, the
accusation did not astonish, or at first, perhaps, much alarm
him, especially as the other members of the Council freely
avowed themselves jointly responsible with him. They advised
him, however, to keep out of her way for a few days, which
he did. But on Feb. 11 Elizabeth formally convoked the
Council and rated them soundly. Burghley, who acknowledged
that he had taken the lead, she particularly denounced. Davi-
son, absent because of illness, she accused of violating her posi-
tive commands and ordered to the Tower. The Council begged
her to pause, Burgliley protesting with especial firmness. But
she was inexorable.

Davison hardly could credit the rumor which reached him
until Lord Buekhurst came with the warrant. The only clemency
to be had was a short delay at home, and on Feb. 14 he was
taken to those strong lodgings on the Thames bank, whither
for more than a century no privy councillor had been sent ex-
cepting upon the charge of high treason. Doubtless Brewster
accompanied his master, for Bradford says distinctly : —

^ He was a Puritan or " Precisian," as they often were called.


He afterwards remained \vith him [Davison] till his troubles, that
he was put from his place aboute y*" death of y* Queene of Scots ;
and some good time after, doeing him manie faithfull offices of servise
in y* time of liis troubles.

Da-v-ison soon was harcUy in a financial condition to keep up
his London house with Brewster there acting for him, and his
health was so poor i that he must have needed an attendant ; so
that, as State prisoners in the Tower were allowed one or two
retainers, probably the young man, then about twenty-one,
served his master there in whatever capacity service was needed.
If not resident with him, Brewster must have gone in and out
daily. If lodged within the gates, probably he had a room in
the Beauchamp Tower, assigned to retainers. Its windows
looked down Great Tower St. as far as Allhallows, Barking, the
church at which Pepys says that the Great Fire stopped.

The Tower was in charge of a Constable of high rank. In
time his lieutenant became the actual keeper. A bare room, with
a stone or oaken floor, an iron-clamped door and a grated window
or two, was furnished by the State. All else, even food, tlie
occupant must obtain for himself. Probably Brewster's first
service here was to superintend the procuring of a little furni-
ture, with a few books and other comforts. As a Secretary of
State Davison may have been permitted to be fed from the
table of the lieutenant, then Sir Owen Ilopton, for which privi-
lege, as for everj-tliing else, he would have had to pay smartly.

As soon as this committal to the Tower proved that the queen
actually proposed severity, effort was not lacking to mollify
her. While she still was infuriated towards himself, Buroliley
sent her an earnest appeal in belialf of Davison.

But her circumstances disposed her to be unyielding. Scot-
land years before had sought to dispose of Mary, but her di<^-
nity was hurt by England's action. And James, now twent}',
whose acquaintance with his mother had been chiefly political,
seems to have thought that it would look well were he to profess
regret. Elizabeth sent Sir Robert Carey to him at Edinburgh

1 A few days before his arrest he had " an attack of palsy " and was " ill in
bed " at home, and, more than a month after his imprisonment, he sfill was si:fF( r-
ing from that attack and wore his left arm in a sling. — Nicolas, Life, 115, 116, ILIL


with one of the meanest letters which stain the pages of history.
She said in it : ^ —

My dearest Brother: I would to God thou knewest . . . the in-
comparable Grief my Mind is perplexed with, upon this lamentable
Accident which is happened contrary to my Meaning and Intention.
... I request you, that as God and many others can witness my
Innocence in this matter, so you will also beheve, that if I had com-
manded it, I would never deny it. I am not so faint-hearted, that for
Terrour I should fear to do tlie tiling which is just ; or to own it when
it is once done : No, I am not so base nor ignobly minded. . . . Per-
suade yourself tliis for Truth, that as I know this is happen'd deserv-
edly on her part, so if I had intended it, I would not have laid it
upon others, but I will never charge myself with that which I had not
so much as a Thought of.

James hardly could equal her as a liar, but in thrifty mean-
ness he was quite her peer. He had sold himself to her a twelve-
month before for " hounds, horses and <£5000 a year '" - and the
prospect of succession to her throne indirectly held out, for
which his mother had cursed him ; 3 and, having received a copy
of Mary's will, disinheriting him, seized at Chartley, he had
intimated that he would make no trouble, and hoped that for
the rest of her life she would be *■' so bestowed that she would
have to confine herself to saying her prayers.'' * And, now that
all was over, he suggested that, if P^lizabeth would persist in her
excuses to save his credit, he would have nothing to do with
Spain. The French had not forgotten that ]\Iary Stuart had
been a queen of France, and they now talked of war ; while of
course Spain was furious that all plotting for a Romanist insur-
rection in England around her as a centre was ended, and
thence idso came threats of strife.

How far Elizabeth really was alarmed may be a question.
But it suited her to take advantage of all to shift the responsi-
bility of Mary's death upon others. She almost dismissed her
whole ministry. She meditated a charge of high treason against

1 Camden, ii : o3G. - S. P. Scot. July 9, l.'So.

' Lets, of Mary. Qudn of Scots. Trans, from Coll. of Prince Lobanojf. Mar. 12,
15S5. " If my son persists in this, you can assure him . . . that I -will invoke the
malediction of God on him."'

* Eg. Paps. Oct. 4, l.JSO.


Davison, but her judges declared that, since she had signed the
death-warrant, he only could be charged with misunderstanding
or contempt. She even projjosed to send him to the Scotch, that
they might w-reak their rage upon hhn, but saw that this would
be generally abhorred.

On Mar. 12 he was visited by Vice-chamberlain Hatton
and John Wolley, Latin secretary to the Council, and five for-
mal questions were put to him.i The visit was repeated on
Mar. 14 and again on Mar. IG. The clear design of these
interviews was to obtain admissions to be used ao-ainst him.
But his cautious and honest answers offered no encouragement,
excepting only that out of regard for her Majest\-'s reputation
he remained silent as to Sir Amyas Paulet. Had his conscience
permitted him to pretend to admit her representations, and
throw himself upon her mercy, very likely she would have pai -
doned and restored him. As it was, his calm persistence left
her no alternative but to abandon her own false position or to
treat him as if really guilty.

Of course she did the latter, and a commission was appointed
to try him. It had thirteen members.2 including Sir Christopher
Wraye, Chief Justice, who presided as Lord Pri\7 Seal, and
Archbishops AVhitgift and Sandys. It met in the famous Star
Chamber on Mar. 28, 1587. At least four members, it is said,
were known to be in sympathy with the euemy.3 Davison still
had his left arm in a sling and obviously needed attendance,
which Brewster seems most hkely to have rendered : which ser-
vice would have brought him face to face with some of the chief
dignitaries of the land on a very exigent occasion.

The charge was of misprision and contempt. Davison was
accused of having disobeyed the queen in sliomng the warrant,
after it had been signed, to the Privy Council, and in abetting
their sending it to execution without her knowledge and order.

J Harl. 3/s. 419: IfiS.

23/5. ,•„ Cains Coll. Camh. A. 1090, 8: 207. Bodleian Ms. Juridki. 7S43 :
862, 235. J. S. Burn, Star Chamber, .^O.

« Froude, xii : 373. '• Of these Lumley and Worcester had been in everv Cith-
ohc conspiracy since the becrinning of the reign ; Cumberland was in Ballard's

Online LibraryHenry Martyn DexterThe England and Holland of the Pilgrims → online text (page 31 of 65)