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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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you do know, I have continued this service by the space of fifteen
weeks, in care of mind and some travail of body, which I would be glad
to make suit to be relieved of, if I might know it should be taken in
good part. And having no friend whom I believe myself to be so assured
of as your lordship, even thereupon I am bold by these heartily to
desire your travail in my behalf [if it so stand with your good
opinion] to the Queen's Majesty, to grant me my discharge from the
same. Wherein I trust my Lord Chancellor* will join with you, if it
content you to move him thereunto, who, by words of marvellous effect
comprising both the Queen's commandment that I should enter into it,
and his earnest request at that time also, did cause me to take in hand
the same. And lest my, said Lord should forget, I pray you put him in
remembrance that he had this talk with me upon the causeway betwixt the
house of Saint James and Charing Cross. And what it shall content you
to do for me herein, I shall desire you to be ascertained by your
letters, upon the return of the messenger. I made late a suit to you
for your house at Blackfriars, and received answer that you had
otherwise disposed the same; yet remembering that you had an house of
my Lord of Bath in Holborn, which, as the case now standeth, I think
your Lordship will have little pleasure to use, and if, by your good
mean, I might obtain the same at my Lord of Bath's hands, you should do
unto me a great good turn, which have no house of refuge in London, but
the common inn, and would be glad to give large money to be avoided of
that inconvenience. And thus remaining at the Queen's Majesty's house
of Woodstock [out of which I was never, by the space of six hours, sith
my coming into the same], I leave to trouble your Lordship with this my
rude writing.

"At the house aforesaid, the 16th day of August 1554."

* Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester.


But nothing came of his efforts to get himself released, and the
unequal contest between his "scrupulousness," and Elizabeth's astute,
unfathomable diplomacy was still to be waged for many months. Her
request to be allowed to send a verbal message to the Council by one of
her servants was indeed declined, but she received permission to commit
her petition to paper. On the 20th September, Sir Henry wrote to the
Council: -

Upon the return of my brother Edmund with your honourable letters dated
at Hampton Court the 15th of this present month, I did take knowledge
that your lordships had obtained of the Queen's Majesty that my lady
Elizabeth's Grace might write unto your lordships, delivering the same
unto me to be addressed unto your honours, inclosed in my letter, by
one of her grace's extraordinary servants; whereupon the Monday, being
the 17th day in the forenoon of the same, I declared that your
lordships had granted her Grace's late desire in form above said, which
was glad tidings as I took it. Yet her Grace at that time did neither
command me to prepare things for her Grace to write with nor named who
should be her messenger, and so I departed. Her Grace never spake words
of that matter more till the Sunday following, in the time of her
Grace's walk at the afternoon, at which time her Grace commanded to
prepare her pen and ink and paper against the next day, which I did.
Upon Monday in the morning her Grace sent Mistress Morton, the Queen's
Highness's woman for the same, to whom I delivered a standsel [an
inkstand] with five pens, two sheets of fine paper and one coarse
sheet, enclosing the same with this request unto the said Mistress
Morton, that she should make suit to my lady's Grace on my behalf, that
it would please her Grace not to use the same but in the sight of
Mistress Tomio or her. And the same Mistress Morton did this, and
brought me word that her Grace had consented to my said suit, and that
I should also send word unto Francis Verney, her Grace's ordinary
servant lying in the town of Woodstock, with her cofferer to be
messenger. Where I perceive they use as much privy conference to her
Grace and from her as they list, even as I advertised your lordships
long ago. The house also being a common inn wherein they do lie, and
they so politic as they be, I can get no knowledge of their doings by
any espyal; this only I am sure of they meet not together in person. At
the afternoon, in her Grace's going to walk, I heard her say she had
such pain in her head that she could write no more that day. Tuesday in
the morning, as I learned of Mistress Morton, she washed her head."

On the 4th October he wrote to the queen: -

"May it please your Highness to be advertised that this great lady,
upon whose person ye have commanded mine attendance, is and hath been
in quiet state for the health of her body this month or six weeks, and
of her mind declareth nothing outwardly by word or deed that I can come
to the knowledge of, but all tending to the hope she saith she hath of
your clemency and mercy towards her. Marry, against my lords of your
most honourable Council I have heard her speak, words that declare that
she hath conceived great unkindness in them, if her meaning go with her
words, whereof God only is judge."

His task grew daily more complicated, and the next letter is a key to
the situation: -

"My humble duty remembered unto your honourable Lordships, these shall
be to advertise the same, that this present 21st day of October, my
lady Elizabeth's Grace commanded me to prepare things necessary for her
to write unto your lordships, whereupon I took occasion to declare onto
her Grace that the express words of your honourable Letters, dated at
Hampton Court, the 15th of September, did trot bear that the Queen's
Majesty was pleased that her Grace, upon any occasion from time to time
moving, and as often as it pleased her, might write unto you. And
therefore I prayed her Grace to stay her determination therein until I
might signify this my doubt unto your lordships, and receive your full
and plain determination therein for my discharge; which my suit she
took in so ill part that her Grace of displeasure therein did utter,
with more words of reproach of this my service, about her by the
Queen's commandment than ever I heard her speak afore: too long to
write. At afternoon her Grace sent for me by Mrs. Pomeyow, and then in
a more quieter sort, required me to write unto your honours, and
thereby to desire the same to be means for her unto the Queen's
Highness to grant that Drs. Wendy, Owen, and Huick, or two of them, may
be licensed with convenient speed to repair hither, for to minister
unto her physic, bringing of their own choice one expert surgeon to let
her Grace's blood, if the said doctors or two of them shall think it so
good, upon the view of her suit upon their coming . . . . Most heartily
desiring your honours to return with the same your absolute opinions to
the first matter which shall be done accordingly, with our Lord's leave
and help, to understand your pleasures and commandments aright, which
this great lady saith may have good meaning in me, but it lacketh
knowledge, experience, and all other accidents in such a service
requisite, which I must needs confess. The help only hereof resteth in
God and the Queen's Majesty, with your honourable advice; from whence
to receive the discharge of this my service, without offence to the
Queen's Majesty or you my good lords, were the joyfullest tidings that
ever came to me, as our Lord Almighty knoweth, to whom no secrets be
hidden."

The physicians were sent to Woodstock, and Elizabeth was "let blood,"
Sir Henry testifying that "by her own commandment" he saw it done "by
the bleeding of her army); and some hours later he saw her foot
"stricken and bled, since which time, thanks be to God, as far as I see
or hear she doeth reasonably well as that case requireth."

Some months later "the joyfullest tidings that ever came" were conveyed
in a letter from the queen. It was the herald of his longed-for
"discharge": -

"Marye The Quene. By the Quene.

"Trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well. And for as much as we have
resolved to have the lady Elizabeth to repair nearer unto us, we do
therefore pray and require you to declare unto her that our pleasure is
she shall come to us to Hampton Court in your company with as much
speed as you can have things in order for that purpose; wherein you
shall not need to make any delay for calling of any other numbers than
these, which be yourself and those now there attendant upon her. And of
the time of your setting forwards from thence, and by what day you
shall think you may be there, we require you to advertise us by your
letters with speed.

"Given under our signet at our honour of Hampton Court, the 17th of
April the 1st and 2nd of our reign."

On their arrival at court Sir Henry Bedingfeld was relieved, Sir Thomas
Pope being appointed to replace him. Elizabeth was soon afterwards
allowed to retire to Hatfield, where she remained under supervision
till her accession. In the meanwhile, Bedingfeld was appointed
Lieutenant of the Tower, and the following selection of letters from
the family archives at Oxburgh not only affords us a further insight
into his character, but shows at the same time in what manner the State
prisoners were treated by the Queen, the Council, and the Lieutenant.

The two first letters relate to Sir John Cheke who, together with Sir
Peter Carew, had been arrested in Flanders, and brought to the Tower
for implication in Wyatt's rebellion. Carew was released in October
1555.

"Sir Robert Rochester to Sir Henry Bedingfeld.

"Mr. Lieutenant, - My Lord Cardinal his Grace* being gone to Lambeth of
express purpose, there to have before him Mr. Cheke, hath required me
to write unto you, and to require you that the said Mr. Cheke may be
sent unto him unto Lambeth, in the company and with the Dean of Paul's.
Wherefore I pray you take order with the said Dean so as he may convey
him thither accordingly. The meaning is that no officer of the Tower
should be troubled with his conveyance thither, but only the Dean to be
charged by you with his person to bring to my Lord Cardinal's presence,
and he to bring him again when it shall please my said Lord to command
him, who hath the whole order and disposition of this case. This must
be done when Mr. Dean he cometh to you for the man. And so bids you
most heartily well to fare, from the Court this present morning, your
assured friend, R. Rochester."

*Cardinal Pole.


"Sir John Feckenham, Priest,* to Sir John Cheke.

* Abbot of Westminster, who was appointed to examine Cheke in matters
of religion.


"Gentle Mr. Cheke, - It was this day somewhat past l0 of the clock
before I could have any determinate answer of your coming unto the
Court, which is now appointed to be at 2 of the clock in the afternoon.
I shall send two of my servants to wait upon you from the Tower unto my
house, at 1 of the clock, and from thence I will go with you unto the
Court myself. I do think that Mr. Lieutenant is already put to
knowledge thereof, but if it be forgotten give unto him this my letter,
and he will not stay you. Your submission is very well liked, and the
Queen's Highness hath seen the same, with which her Majesty has found
no fault, but only that you had forgotten to make mention in the latter
end thereof of the King's Majesty. And therefore you must write it all
whole again, and in the latter end add these words which I have added
touching the King's Majesty, or else everything is as it was in your
own copy save that I added in one place the real presence of Christ's
Body and Blood. I pray you leave not out these words, and at your
coming I shall hear your cause, where notwithstanding your few lines
which is wrote unto me thereof, be you of good comfort; all things are
well, and imagined best for your furtherance. You have more friends
than you be ware of. Thus fare you well, this present 5 of Sep. 1556,
by your assured friend, John Fecknam, Priest.

"I pray you fail not to write it all again, and that as large and plain
as you can, for I am commanded to request you that you duly so do."

Dr. Cheke, having proved his innocence of conspiracy to the
satisfaction of the Council, and having recanted his heresy, was
released, and "through the efficacy of his language," about thirty
others followed his example, and saved their lives. He died the next
year, the heretics said, of remorse for what he had done against the
reformed religion.

Edward Lewkner, who according to Machyn's Diary had been groom-porter
to Edward VI. and Mary, "was cast to suffer death" in the third year of
Mary's reign for participation in the Dudley conspiracy. While in the
Tower he fell so grievously ill as to excite the Lieutenant's
compassion, and Sir Henry appears to have interceded with the Queen on
his behalf.

"To the Right Worshipful Sir Henry Bedingfeld, Knight, Lieutenant of
the Queen's Highness's Tower of London. Francis Malet, Priest.

"Right Worshipful, - After my hearty commendations these shall be to
certify your Mastership that where your charity was declared in that it
pleased you to take pains to declare by your wise and discreet letters
the piteous state of Lewkner, your prisoner, I was thereby the more
ready and yet not wanting the counsel of a counseller to move the
Queen's goodness in the matter. And her Grace being content to take
into her hands your letter, and going with it into her privy chamber,
said she would consider the matter, and that I should learn what her
Grace's resolute mind will be therein. And therefore to tarry this
messenger any longer at this time I thought but folly, for that I shall
be ready sooner at night if it please her Highness to understand what
answer she will make to my suit; or if it will not be known this night,
as I doubt, for her Grace is as it were ever defatigate with her late
business in dispatching the King of Bohemia's ambassadors, I shall know
as soon as I may what her Grace's determination shall be; and that
known, I shall with all expedition intimate the same unto you, that so
the poor man may be certified of her Grace's pleasure. And in the
meantime I shall most heartily beseech your Mastership to continue your
favour towards the man; and divers of those that be most nigh unto her
Grace's person desire the same at your hands, and saith plainly that
the Queen's Grace will not be discontent that he may have all the
commodity that may be showed him for the recovery of his health within
the Tower. I pray God show His will mercifully upon him, and I trust
the Queen's goodness shall be extended withal unto him to his great
comfort, as knoweth Almighty Jesus, who send you with much worship long
to live and well to live in both soul and body. Scribbled in haste with
the running hand of yours to command, Francis Malet, Priest."

The above letter is undated, but the sequel to the story is related by
the Lieutenant himself in the minutes of a letter to the Council.

"Please it your Grace and my Lords to be advertised that this present
Sunday, the 6th September, Edward Lewkner, prisoner, attainted by long
sickness, departed this transitory life to God, about the hour of eight
of the clock of the night. Who was a willing man in the forenoon of
this day to have received the blessed Sacrament, but the priest that
did serve in the absence of the . . . * did think him so well that it
was meet to be ministered to him but after he had heard his confession.
He did minister unto him the Sacrament of Oiling, or Extreme Unction,
at the which I was present. Tomorrow I intend by God's grace to see him
buried in form appertaining to his condition in life, as I have learned
of those that have seen the like order. Instead of a will he charged me
with his service to the Queen's Majesty, that it might please her
Highness, after forgiveness of his offences towards the same, to
vouchsafe to have pity of his wife and ten poor children, which I
promised to do upon my next waiting upon her Majesty, humbly beseeching
your Lordships all in time most meet to be good lords to the same his
petition. And so as your poor beadsman I take my leave of you.

"From the Queen's Majesty's Tower of London 1556, the night aforesaid,
about 11 of the clock.

"Henry Bedyngfeld."

* Illegible in the manuscript.


Many other letters among this collection give evidence of the kindness
and pity bestowed by the Lieutenant on the prisoners in the Tower, and
the consideration with which their friends were treated, these being
admitted to see them whenever it was practicable. His relations with
nearly all the members of the Privy Council were intimate and cordial,
but perhaps his closest friend was Sir Henry Jerningham, who was not
only a colleague, but the chosen companion of the rare occasions that
were devoted to recreation and pleasure. Their two families had always
been on terms of affectionate intimacy, although it was not until two
generations later that they became allied by marriage, when Thomas
Bedingfeld of Oxburgh, Sir Henry's grandson, married Frances, daughter
and co-heir of John Jerningham of Somerleyton.

On the 16th February 1557, Sir Henry Jerningham, having occasion to
write to the Lieutenant of the Tower on business, ended his letter thus:

"I do and will labour all that I can to have your company into Norfolk
this Lent, to course the hare and hawk the heron. And thus I commit you
to God, praying Him to send us our prosperity. Your assured friend,
Henry Jerningham."

During the years 1553, 1554, and 1557, Sir Henry Bedingfeld sat in
Parliament as one of the knights of the shire for Norfolk. In 1557 he
succeeded Sir Henry Jerningham as Captain of the Yeoman of the Guard,
at which time he was also made vice Chamberlain. But Mary's death in
1558 closed his public career, and he retired to Oxburgh, which, hemmed
in on the south side by miles of fen country, was in those days for all
practical purposes entirely cut off from the world. It was probably
during a temporary absence, and when he was purposing to entertain
guests in his beautiful Norfolk home, that the following letter was
written to him presumably by his steward: -

To the right worshipful and my especial good friend Sir Henry
Bedingfeld, Knight, be this delivered.

"Pleaseth it your Mastership that according to your Mastership's
commandment, I did write to Mr. R and he was not at home. I shall go to
him again, and you shall know by the next messenger; you shall
understand what plate and bedding may be had at his hand. What number
of capons and hens your Mastership would have me to provide I would
desire to know by the next messenger. I doubt fat capons are hard to be
gotten in these parts, therefore if you had any that were ready fed, or
could get any that were fed in Suffolk they might be stayed till the
time you should require them, and have them killed, and carried dead,
and have again instead of them fine lean capons. Lean capons are at 8d.
the piece, and 9d. and 10d. and 12d. Geese are at 6d. and 7d. a piece.
Lean hens 4d. and 5d. Wild fowl was never so hard to be gotten. There
is little taken; the fowlers do say the cause is the weather is so
rainy, and there is as much wait laid for the getting of it as ever
there was for my Lady's Grace and for divers others. I have done as
much as I could to have gotten some for your Mastership, and for my
masters your sons, and could get but six teals. Since Christmas there
is sent you of your own hawk's killing, eleven teals, two mallards, and
eleven bitterns. And I humbly take my leave of your Mastership. From
Oxburgh, 20 of December 1563, by your poor servant,

"Wm. Deye."

It would not have been surprising if Sir Henry Bedingfeld had fallen
more or less into disgrace at this time, for Elizabeth might now, if
she had wished, made him feel the effects of his "scrupulousness"
during the period of her captivity. The following letter from the queen
shows, however, that such was not the case:

"To our trusty and well-beloved Sir Henry Bedingfeld, Knight.

"Elizabeth R By the Quene.

"Trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well. Like as we doubt not, but
by the common report of the world, it appeareth what great
demonstrations of hostility the French make towards this realm, by
transporting great powers into Scotland, upon the pretence only of
their going about the conquest of the same, so have we thought meet
upon more certainty to us of their purpose, to have good regard thereto
in time. And being very jealous of our town of Berwick, the principal
key of all our realm, we have determined to send with speed, succours
both thitherward and to our frontier, as well horsemen as footmen, and
do also send our right trusty and entirely beloved cousin, the Duke of
Norfolk, to be our Lieutenant-General of all the North, from Trent
forward. For which purpose we have addressed our letters to sundry our
nobility and gentlemen in like manner as we do this unto you, willing
and requiring you as you tender and respect the honour of us and surety
of your country, to put in readiness, with all speed possible, one able
man, furnished with a good strong horse or gelding, and armed with a
corselet, and to send the same to Newcastle by such day, and with such
further order for the furniture as shall be appointed to you by our
trusty and well-beloved Sir Edward Wyndham, Knight, and Sir Christopher
Heydon, Knight, whom we have advertised of our further pleasure in that
behalf. And at the arriving of the said horseman at Newcastle, he shall
not only receive money for his route and conduct, but also beside his
wage shall be, by the discretion of our said cousin of Norfolk, so used
and entreated as ye shall not need to doubt of the safe return of the
same, if the casualty of death be not impeached. And herein we make
such sure account of your forwardness as we thereupon have signified
among others to our said cousin this our appointment and commandment.
So shall we make account of you in that behalf, whereof we pray you
fail not.

"Given under our signet at our Palace of Westminster, the 25th day of
September, in the second year of our reign."*

* The original letter is at Oxburgh.


It was in consideration of this or of some other service rendered about
this time that Elizabeth granted to Sir Henry Bedingfeld and to his
heirs for ever, the manor of Caldecot, in Norfolk "with the
impropriation thereof."

An undated manuscript, preserved at Oxburgh, containing a plan of an
itinerary for the queen's progress into Norfolk, would seem to support
the tradition that Elizabeth visited that place. Perhaps she intended
to visit it, for immediately after Walsingham, which then belonged to
the Sidneys, occurs the sentence: "Thence to Oxburgh, Sir Henry
Bedingfelds."* This document is printed in Blomefield's History of
Norfolk, and the date assigned to it is 1578, presumably because this
was the only time at which Elizabeth visited Norfolk. There are,
however, no details of any visit to Oxburgh, and Dr. Jessopp,
considering that the place was quite out of the line of progress, is of
the opinion that she never went there at all.**

* The so-called Queen's room, a large apartment above that in which
Henry VII. undoubtedly slept may, it appears to the present writer,
have been occupied by Elizabeth of York, wife of Henry VII., who, it is
well known, accompanied him on, at least, one pilgrimage to Walsingham.
As she also was Queen Elizabeth, this may account for the tradition,

** One Generation of a Norfolk House, p. 61.


But there are other and more weighty reasons than those of distance for
arriving at this conclusion. From the year 1569, when the foremost
English Catholics attempted to liberate Mary Queen of Scots, the penal
laws against Papists were redoubled in severity, and those who still
clung to the old religion fell into disfavour. Elizabeth did indeed
visit Euston Hall, near Thetford, in 1578, and Mr. Rookwood presumed to
kiss her hand. But the Lord Chamberlain severely reprimanded him for so
doing, sternly bade him stand aside, and charged him with being a
recusant, unfit to be in the presence, much less to touch the sacred
person, of his sovereign. He was required to attend the Council, under
surveillance, and when he reached Norwich, in the queen's train, was
committed to jail.

Many other recusants were treated in 1578 as Rookwood was. Two of the
Lovells, Humphrey Bedingfeld of Quidenham, Sir Henry's brother, one
Parry, and two others, "not worth memory for badness of belyffe," were
confined in Norwich Castle" for obstinate papystrie."*



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 7 of 28)