J.M. Stone.

Studies from Court and Cloister: being essays, historical and literary dealing mainly with subjects relating to the XVIth and XVIIth centuries online

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desire, or to say nay, seeing it hath been your Highness's pleasure to
remove her person from and out of the Tower of London where I was led
to do upon more certainty by the precedent of my good Lord Chamberlain
[Sir John Gage] and also by certain articles, by me exhibited unto my
lords of the Council and by them ordered, which were to me a perfect
rule at that time, and now is very hard to be observed in this place.
Wherefore I most lowly and heartily do desire your Highness to give me
authority and order in writing from your Majesty or your Council, how
to demean myself in this your Highness's service, whereby I shall be
the more able to do the same, and also receive comfort and heart's ease
to be your Highness's daily beadsman to God for persuasion of your most
princely and sovereign estate long to endure to God's honour.

"The 21 of May, 1554."*

* This and the next following letters are taken from the fourth volume
of the publications of the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society,
"State Papers relating to the custody of the Princess Elizabeth at
Woodstock in 1554," being letters between Queen Mary and her Privy
Council and Sir Henry Bedingfeld, Knight, of Oxburgh, Norfolk,
communicated by the Rev. C.R. Manning, M.A., Hon. Sec. The originals
were formerly in Mr. Manning's possession, but have now disappeared.
The present writer has modernised the spelling.

In answer to this letter the Council wrote approving his doings, and
thanking Sir Henry on the part of the queen. A number of instructions
for his further conduct were also sent, the purport of which will be
gathered from his reply: -

"My letter answering to the former, the Council's letters.

"So it is, most honourable lords, that upon the return of my brother
Humphrey, I received instructions signed with the Queen's Majesty's
hand, and enclosed in a letter signed by your Lordships as a warrant to
direct my service how to be used during the Queen's Majesty's pleasure,
trusting only in God to make me able to do and accomplish the same. I
travail and shall do to the best of my power till God and her Highness
shall otherwise dispose for me, wishing that shortly it should come to
pass, if it may so stand with her Highness's good contention and your
honour. As touching the fifth article, which purported this in effect
that I should not suffer the lady Elizabeth's Grace to have conference
with any suspect person out of my hearing, that she do not by any means
either receive or send any message, letter or token, to or from any
manner of person, which, under your honourable corrections, must thus
answer to that, as touching conference with suspected persons, if your
Lordships mean strangers, and such as be not daily attending upon her
person by your assents and privities, with the help above said, I dare
take upon me that to do. But if you mean general conference with all
persons, as well within her house as without, I shall beseech you of
pardon, for that I dare not take upon me, nor yet for message, letter
or token, which may be conveyed by any of the three women of her privy
chamber, her two grooms of the same or the yeomen of the robes, all
which persons and none others be with her Grace at her going to her
lodging, and part of them all night, and until such time as her grace
cometh to her dining-chamber, the grooms always after going abroad
within the house, having full opportunity to do such matter as is
prohibited. And hereunto I beseech your honours ask my Lord Chamberlain
whether it will be within possibility for me to do it or no, whose
order in all things I have and do, according to my poor wit and
endeavour put in use; and upon his declaration to direct order
possible. At the present writing hereof one Marbery, my lady Grace's
servant, brought his wife, Elizabeth Marbery, to have been received to
have wait upon her Grace, in the stead of Elizabeth Sands, and because
I received no manner of warrant from you my Lords, to do it, I have
required the said Marbery to stay himself and his wife hereabouts, till
I might receive the same, which I pray you to do with all speed, for
they been very poor folks, and unable to bear their own charge as I

"Her Grace, thanks be to God, continueth in reasonable health and
quietness, as far as I can perceive; but she claimeth promise of the
mouth of my Lords Treasurer and Chamberlain to have the liberty of walk
within the whole park of Woodstock. This she hath caused to come to
mine ear by my Lady Gray, but never spoke of it to me by express words
. . . . Her Grace hath not hitherto made any request to walk in any
other place than in the over and nether gardens with the orchard,
which, if she happens to do, I must needs answer I neither dare nor
will assent unto it, till by the Queen's Highness and your honours I be
authorised that to do . . . . Cornwallis, the gentleman-usher, did move
me to assent that the cloth of estate should be hanged up for her
Grace, whereunto I directly said nay, till your Lordships' pleasures
were known therein.

"Postscript. - There was some peril of fire within the house, which we
have without any loss to be regarded, escaped. Thanks be to God."

In answer to the above the Council thanked and commended Sir Henry for
all that he had hitherto done, adding: -

"Where ye desire to be resolved of certain doubts which you gather upon
your instructions, ye shall understand that although we well know ye
cannot meet such inconvenience as may happen by those that attend upon
the lady Elizabeth, in bringing unto her letters, messages or tokens,
yet if ye shall use your diligence and wisdom there as ye shall see
cause, it shall be your sufficient discharge. As for strangers, ye must
foresee that no persons suspect have any conference with her at all,
and yet to permit such strangers whom ye shall think honest and not
suspicious, upon any reasonable cause to speak with her in your hearing
only. As for placing Elizabeth Marbery in lieu of Sands, letters be
already sent from the Queen's Highness unto you therefore, which we
pray you to see executed accordingly. Where she claimeth promise of the
Lord Treasurer and me the Lord Chamberlain to walk in the park, as we
have heard nothing before this time thereof, so do not I the Lord
Chamberlain remember any such promise."

The queen's letter was as follows: -

"Marye The Quene. By the Quene

"Trusty and right well-beloved, we greet you well. And where we be
informed that Sands, one of the women presently attending about our
sister the Lady Elizabeth, is a person of an evil opinion, and not fit
to remain about our said sister's person, we let you wit, our will and
pleasure is, you shall travail with our said sister, and by the best
means ye can persuade her to be contented to have the said Sands
removed from her, and to accept in her place, Elizabeth Marbery,
another of her women, who shall be sent thither for that purpose: whom
at her coming we require you to be placed there, and to give order that
the said Sands may be removed from thence accordingly.

"Given under our signet, at our manor of St. James, the 26th day of
May, the first year of our reign."

It was soon found necessary to cancel the permission for strangers to
have access to the captive princess, and the Council accordingly wrote
to Sir Henry: -

"And forasmuch as it appeareth hereby that such private persons as be
disposed to disquiet will not let to take occasion if they may, to
convey messages or letters in and out by some secret practice, her
Majesty's further pleasure is for the avoiding hereof, that ye shall
henceforth suffer no manner person other than such as are already
appointed to, be about the Lady Elizabeth, to come unto her or have any
manner, talk, or conference with her, any former instructions or
letters heretofore sent you to the contrary notwithstanding."

Elizabeth made difficulties with regard to every detail of her custody,
and the substitution of Marbery, although she was one of her own women,
for Sands, was not effected without a struggle; but on the 5th June Sir
Henry was able to report that: "The same was done this present day,
about 2 of the clock in the afternoon, not without great mourning both
of my Lady's Grace and Sands. And she was conveyed into the town by my
brother Edmund, and by him delivered to Mr. Parry, who at my desire
yesternight did prepare horse and men to be ready to convey her either
to Clerkenwell beside London to her uncle there, or else into Kent, to
her father, towards the which he promised she should go. This I do
signify unto your lordships, because I think her a woman meet to be
looked unto for her obstinate disposition."

In another very long letter he certifies that the princess has asked
for an English Bible "of the smallest possible volume," desiring that
he would send to her cofferer for one. But the cofferer replied that he
had none at all, but sent a servant with three books, one of which
contained the Psalms of David and the Canticles. Leave was given for
her to have an English Bible, and for her to write to the Queen as she

On the 12th June Sir Henry wrote to the Council a letter highly
informative as to the difficulties of his position: -

"Pleaseth it your honourable lordships to be advertised, that the same
day I last wrote unto you, my lady Elizabeth's Grace demanded of me
whether I had provided her the book of the Bible in English of the
smallest volume, or no. I answered, because there were divers Latin
books in my hands ready to be delivered if it pleased her to have them,
wherein as I thought she should have more delight, seeing she
understandeth the same so well; therefore I had not provided the same,
which answer I perceived she took not in good part, and within
half-an-hour after that, in her walking in the nether garden, in the
most unpleasant sort that ever I saw her since her coming from the
Tower, she called me to her again, and said in these words: 'I have at
divers times spoken to you to write to my lords of certain my requests,
and you never make me answer to any of them. I think (quoth she) you
make none of my lords privy to my suit, but only my Lord Chamberlain,
who, although I know him to be a good gentleman, yet by age, and other
his earnest business, I know he hath occasion to forget many things.'
To this I answered that I did never write in her Grace's matter to any
of you my lords privately, and said unto her Grace further, that I
thought this was a time that your lordships had great business in,* and
therefore her Grace could not look for direct answer upon the first
suit. 'Well,' said she, 'once again I require you to do thus much for
me, to write unto my said lords, on my behalf to be means unto the
Queen's Majesty, to grant me leave to write unto her Highness with mine
own hand, and in this I pray you let me have answer as soon as you
can.' To this I answered: 'I shall do for your Grace that I am able to
do, which is to write to my said Lords, and then it must needs rest in
their honourable considerations whether I shall have answer or no,'
since which time her Grace never spoke to me. Surely, I take it that
the remembrance of Elizabeth Sands' departing, and the only placing
Marbery in her room, clearly against her late desire, is some cause of
her grief [grievance]."

* On account of the Queen's approaching marriage.

The effect produced by the princess's letter to Mary may be gathered
from the following reply, written by the Queen to Sir Henry: -

"Marye The Quene. By the Quene.

"Trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well. And where our pleasure was
of late signified unto you for the Lady Elizabeth to have licence to
write unto us, we have now received her letters, containing only
certain arguments devised for her declaration in such matters as she
hath been charged withal by the voluntary confessions of divers others.
In which arguments she would seem to persuade us, that the testimony of
those who have opened matters against her, either were not such as they
be, or being such should have no credit. But as we were most sorry at
the beginning, to have any occasion of suspicion, so when it appeared
unto us, that the copies of her secret letters unto us were found in
the packet of the French ambassador, that divers of the most notable
traitors made their chief account upon her, we can hardly be brought to
think that they would have presumed to do so, except they had had more
certain knowledge of her favour towards their unnatural conspiracy than
is yet by her confessed. And therefore, though we have for our part,
considering the matter brought to our knowledge against her, used more
clemency and favour towards her than in the like matter hath been
accustomed; yet cannot these fair words so much abuse [deceive] us, but
we do well understand how these things have been wrought. Conspiracies
be secretly practised, and things of that nature be many times judged
by probable conjectures, and other suspicions and arguments, where the
plain, direct proof may chance to fail; even as wise Solomon judged who
was the true mother of the child by the woman's behaviour and words,
when other proof failed and could not be had. By the argument and
circumstances of her said letter with other articles declared on your
behalf by your brother to our Privy Council, it may well appear her
meaning and purpose to be far otherwise than her letters purported.
Wherefore our pleasure is not to be hereafter any more molested with
such her disguise and colourable letters, but wish for her that it may
please our Lord to grant her His grace to be towards Him as she ought
to be; then shall she the sooner be towards us as becometh her. This
much have we thought good to write unto you, to the intent ye might
understand the effect of those letters, and so continue your accustomed
diligence in the charge by us committed to you.

"Given under our signet at the Castle of Farnham, the 25th day of June,
the first year of our reign."

The gist of this letter was communicated to Elizabeth by Sir Henry in
the manner he himself describes: -

"Yesterday I went to hear Mass in her Grace's chamber; that being
ended, in the time of doing my duty, thinking to have departed from her
Grace, she called me, and asked whether I had heard of any answer that
was or should be made by the Queen's Majesty to her late letters. Upon
which occasion, fitly as I took it, I made her Grace answer that I had
to declare unto her an answer on the Queen's Majesty's behalf,
whensoever she should command me. 'Let it be even now,' said her Grace.
'If you will,' I answered, 'because I was fearful to misreport;
therefore I have scribbled it as well as I can with mine own hand, and
if you will give me leave to fetch it,' and, being ready to go in to
her Grace with it, I received word from her Grace by one of the Queen's
Majesty's women to stay till her Grace had dined, and then she would
hear it. Within a mean pause after dinner she sent for me, and having
Mr. Tomiou in my company, who going with me into the outer chamber,
there staying, I went in to her Grace, and required her if it so stood
with her pleasure that he might hear the doing of the message. She
granted it, and I called him in, and kneeling by with me, I read unto
her Grace my message according to the effect of the Queen's Majesty's
letter. After once hearing of it she uttered certain words, bewailing
her own chance in that her Grace's letter, contrary to her
expectations, took no better effect, and desired to hear it once again,
which I did. And then her Grace said: 'I note especially to my great
discomfort [which I shall, nevertheless, willingly obey] that the
Queen's Majesty is not pleased that I should molest her Highness with
any more of my colourable letters, which, although they be termed
colourable, yet not offending the Queen's Majesty, I must say for
myself that it was the plain truth, even as I desire to be saved afore
God Almighty, and so let it pass. Yet, Mr. Bedyngfeld, if you think you
may do so much for me, I would have you to receive an answer which I
would make unto you touching your message, which I would at the least
way, my Lords of the Council might understand, and that ye would
conceive it upon my words, and put it in writing, and let me hear it
again. And if it be according to my meaning, so to pass it to my
lordships for my better comfort in mine adversity.' To this I answered
her Grace: 'I pray you, hold me excused that I do not grant your
request in the same.' Then she said: 'It is like that I shall be
offered more than ever any prisoner was in the Tower, for the prisoners
be suffered to open their mind to the Lieutenant, and he to declare the
same unto the Council, and you refuse to do the like.' To this I
answered her Grace that there was a diversity where the Lieutenant did
hear a prisoner declare matters touching his case, and should thereof
give notice unto the Council, and where the prisoner should, as it
were, command the Lieutenant to do his message to the Council.
Therefore, I desired that her Grace would give me leave with patience
not to agree to her desire herein, and so departed from her Grace.

"Yesterday morning again, about x of the clock, in the time of her
walk, she called me to her in the little garden, and said: 'I remember
yesterday ye refused utterly to write on my behalf unto my Lords of the
Council, and therefore, if you continue in that mind still, I shall be
in worse case than the worst prisoner In Newgate, for they be never
gainsaid in the time of their imprisonment by one friend or other to
have their cause opened or sued for, and this is and shall be such a
conclusion unto me, that I must needs continue this life without all
hope worldly, wholly resting to the truth of my cause, and that before
God to be opened, arming myself against whatsoever shall happen, to
remain the Queen's true subject as I have done during my life. It
waxeth wet, and therefore I will depart to my lodging again;' and so
she did. Thus much concerning her Grace, I thought it my duty to give
your lordships advertisement of, to be considered as it shall please
your honours, clearly omitting any part of the message, and such which
my lady's Grace would have had me to have taken upon me, and shall do
so, unless I have the Queen's Majesty's warrant for the same."

This report had the desired effect, and the Council gave Sir Henry
leave "to write those things that she shall desire you, and to signify
the same to us of her Majesty's Council, sending your letters touching
that matter enclosed in some paper directed to her Highness, so as she
may herself have the first sight thereof."

Mary's next letter was personal to Sir Henry himself: -

"Trusty and right well-beloved, we greet you well. And where we
understand that by occasion of certain our instructions lately given
unto you, ye do continually make your personal abode within that our
house at Woodstock, without removing from thence at any time, which
thing might, peradventure in continuance, be both some danger to your
health, and be occasion also that ye shall not be so well able to
understand the state of the country thereabouts, as otherwise ye might;
we let you wit that in consideration thereof; we are pleased ye may at
any time, when yourself shall think convenient, make your repair from
out of our said house, leaving one of your brethren to look to your
charge, and see to the good governance of that house in your absence,
so as, nevertheless, ye return back again yourself at night, for the
better looking to your said charge. And for your better ease and
recreation, we are, in like manner pleased that ye and your brethren
may, at your liberties, hawk for your pastime at the partridge, or hunt
the hare within that our manor of Woodstock, or any of our grounds
adjoining to the same, from time to time, when ye shall think most
convenient; and that also ye may, if ye shall so think good, cause your
wife to be sent for, and to remain there with you as long as yourself
shall think meet.

"Given under our signet at our Castle of Farnham, ye 7th of July, ye
second year of our reign."

Elizabeth was not slow to profit by the permission obtained for her to
write to the Council through the intermediary allowed, and Sir Henry's
letter-book contains the following transcript of his report written in
his own hand.

"My lady Elizabeth's Grace's suit: -

"My lady Elizabeth, this present 30th of July, required me to make
report of her Grace's mind as her suit to your honours to be means to
the Queen's Majesty on her behalf to this effect. To beseech your
lordships all to consider her woeful case, that being but once licensed
to write as an humble suitress unto the Queen's Highness, and received
thereby no such comfort as she hoped to have done, but to her further
discomfort in a message by me opened, that it was the Queen's
Highness's pleasure not to be any more molested with her Grace's
letters, that it may please the same, and that upon very pity,
considering her long imprisonment and restraint of liberty, either to
charge her with special matter to be answered unto and tried, or to
grant her liberty to come unto Her Highness's presence, which she saith
she would not desire, were it not that she knoweth herself to be clear,
even before God, of her allegiance. And if also by your good mediations
she might not enjoy the Queen's Highness's most gracious favour without
any scruples or suspicions of her truth, she had rather willingly
suffer this that she doth, and much more, than her Majesty should in
any case be troubled or disquieted, touching her whose honour surely
and preservation she saith she doth desire above all things in this
world. Requiring me further to move chiefly as many of you my lords as
were a Council, parties, and privy to and for the execution of the will
of the King's Majesty her father, to further this her Grace's suit
above said. And if neither of these two her suits may be obtained by
your lordships for her, that then it might please the Queen's Highness
to grant that some of you my lords may have leave to repair hither unto
her, and to receive her suit of her own mouth to be opened. Whereby she
may take a release not to think herself utterly desolate of all refuge
in this world."

To this the Council made reply on the 7th August that "the Queen's
Highness" would "take a time to consider, and at convenient leisure
make such answer thereunto as shall be` necessary"; but Elizabeth's
imperious temper brooked no delay, and Sir Henry was soon prevailed on
to jog their lordship's memories: -

"Upon Friday last," he wrote, "my lady Elizabeth's Grace, in the time
of her walk in the over garden here, in the forenoon of the same day,
said unto me, 'I have very slow speed in the answer of any of my suits,
and I know it is ever so, when that there is not one appointed to give
daily attendance in suit-making for answer. And therefore,' saith she,
'I pray you let me send a servant of mine own to whom I will do the
message in your hearing that he shall do by my commandment; and this I
think,' said she, 'is not against the order and service appointed unto
you.' To which I answered requiring her Grace to be contented, for I
neither could nor would assent to any such her request. 'Then,' said
she, 'I am at a marvellous afterdeal [disadvantage], for I have known
that the wife hath been received to sue for her husband, the kinsman,
friend or servant for them that hath been in the case I now am, and
never denied.' To that I answered: 'I myself am of small experience in
such case; that notwithstanding, I trust ye shall not be long, or my
lords of the Council will remember your suit, and answer the same.'"
And so her Grace ended.

Harsh as this refusal may appear at first sight, it must be admitted
that Sir Henry, in reporting his conversations with Elizabeth to the
Council often obtained for her if not exactly what she had asked for,
at least some concession, which, had she been entirely in good faith,
would have served her purpose as well. But in spite of her jailor's
"scrupulousness " she contrived to communicate pretty freely by means
of Parry, her cofferer, and others, with the outside world. Bolts and
bars were ineffectual so long as those who surrounded her were willing
intermediaries between her and the enemies of the queen, and Sir Henry
knew it well. He desired nothing more than to be rid of his onerous
charge, as is seen by the following letter to Thirlby, Bishop of Ely: -

"After my hearty commendations to your good lordship, so it is that as

Online LibraryJ.M. StoneStudies from Court and Cloister: being essays, historical and literary dealing mainly with subjects relating to the XVIth and XVIIth centuries → online text (page 6 of 28)