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very well until they were taken'; and then were taken the said Constable? and Chamberlain, and to the amount of one hundred Knights, and one hundred and twenty, or one hundred and forty Esquires, and a great many Knights, Esquires, and other people of the town were killed in the streets, houses, and in gardens; but no one could ascertain how many were persons of consequences, because they were so stripped that it was impossible to recognise them; and no Gentleman of ours was slain, excepting an Esquire who was wounded and died two days afterwards. And there were found in the town wines, provisions, and other goods and chattels innumerable, and the town is larger than any town in England excepting London. And when the King quitted La Hogue, he left about two hundred ships, which went to Rothemasse“, and proceeded and burnt the country two or three leagues in land, and took many goods and brought them to their ships; and then they went to Cherburgh, where was a good town and a strong castle, and a fine and noble abbey, and they burnt the said town and abbey; and all on the sea coast was burnt from Rothemasse as far as Hostrem on the haven of Caen, extending to one hundred and twenty English leagues', and the number of ships which were burnt is sixty-one of war, with castles before and behind, and twenty-three craiers, besides other smaller vessels, many laden with from twenty-one to thirty tuns of wine. And the Thursday after the King arrived before Caen, those of the city of Bions? offered our Lord the King that they would render to him themselves and their town, and to perform homage to him ; but he would not receive them upon any terms whilst it was in their power to do him harm8.
The next letter is from Robert Lord Willoughby, of Eresby, to his father-in-law Henry Lord Fitz-Hugh, and is what may be termed a domestic letter. It derives its principal claim to attention from the early period in which it was written, and from the rank of the parties to whom it relates. Although it contains no other date than “Tuesday, after the feast of the Nativity,” it is certain,
Saunz assent & saunz arraie assaillerent le pount qe fust mult bien afforce des Bretages, et barrer, et avoient mult affeare, et les Fraunceys defenderent le dit pount fortment, et a eaux porteront mult bien devant qil poel estre pris sour eaux. Roquefort explains “ Bretages to be, fortresses, citadels, parapets, strong places, moveable towers of wood to attack and defend places, &c.
2 Hollingshed asserts, that the Constable was taken by a person named Leigh, ancestor of the family of Leigh of Hanleigh, in Cheshire.
3 Gentz de bien.
5 Qamounte a vi lieges Engleis; but the writer must have meant "miles," as it is about that distance from Rouen to Cherburgh.
6 July 27th.
8 Query- The original is, “ meas il ne lez voleit resceure pour ascuns enchesouns, et tanq’ les purreit salver de damage.”
from internal evidence, that it was written on Tuesday, the 9th September, 1411; hence, with the exception of a few printed in one of the volumes of Collins's “ Peerage,” and to which we shall, probably, on some occasion refer, it is, perhaps, one of the earliest family letters which is extant. Robert Lord Willoughby was then nearly twenty-six years of age; and, as is evident from the address, had married the daughter of Lord Fitz-Hugh, though Dugdale attributes no other wife to him than Maud, the cousin and heiress of Ralph Lord Cromwell. In the pedigree of Fitz-Hugh, however, that eminent genealogist says, that Lord Fitz-Hugh had a daughter “ Joan, wife of Sir Robert Willoughby," a statement which this letter proves to be correct. The indefinite meaning which was formerly attached to the words “ father," "mother," * brother,” &c. renders it necessary to observe, that William, the son and heir of Henry Lord Fitz-Hugh, is said to have married Margery, the sister of this Lord Willoughby; but independent of the improbability that this connexion should induce him to style Lord-Fitz Hugh “ his most honoured father," it must be remembered, that, in 1411, the said William was only about fourteen years old ; a fact which, though it does not absolutely negative the possibility of his being then married, makes it extremely unlikely. William Lord Willoughby, the father of the writer of this letter, had two wives; first, Lucy, daughter of Roger Lord Strange, and secondly, Joan, sister and coheiress of Edmund Holland, Earl of Kent, and widow of Edward Plantagenet, Duke of York, but by her he had no issue, and died on the 4th December, 1409. The duchess, his widow, re-married in the 12th Henry IV. 1410-11, Henry Lord Scrope of Masham, who was appointed Lord Treasurer in the 1lth Henry IV., from which dates the year in which this letter was written has been fixed; since he is described in it as “ Treasurer of England," and it is manifest that he was not then married, though he was to be so “in all haste.”
Robert Lord Willoughby, who thus complains that his property was withheld from him, became one of the most distinguished warriors of his time; and is said by Sir William Dugdale to have served at Harfleur, Agincourt, the siege of Rouen, Vinoil, Mouns, and other battles in France, in the reigns of Henry the Fifth and Sixth. He died on the festival of St. James, 30th Henry VI. 25th July, 1452, leaving by Maud, the cousin and co-heiress of Ralph Lord Cromwell, and who must have been his second wife, (his first, the daughter of Lord Fitz-Hugh, having died, probably without issue, before 1425,) Joan, the wife of Sir Richard Welles, his daughter and heiress, then twenty-seven years old.
The original of this letter is preserved in the Bodleian Library; it is written on a piece of paper 11. inches by 5', and the space occupied by the writing is 10 inches by 11, with the exception of the signature; and was sealed with red wax in the form of a cross, which extends from 3 to 3. inches.
[MS. Dodsworth, 118, f. 53, Original.] A HONNURE Sr ET MOUN TRESSOUN'AIGNEMENT biex AME Pier'
HENRY Fire Hugh' SEIGNEUR DE RAVENSWATH'. Honure S. et tressoun’aignement bien ame Pier. Je me comank a vous en taunt com Je say ou plus puisse. Desiraunt toutduz a oier et savoir bones novelx de vous et de v’re honurable estat quels ieo prie adieux q' toutz iours sibones soient come vous mesmez sauetz mieulx deviser ou sohaider et come Je vorroie sentier de moy mesmes. Et vous please de savoir honure S'. q' iay p’sue a ma treshonuree dame et mier' la duchesse Dev'wyk på c'tainez chosez q' a moy deussent descender p' voie del heritage et unqore ie nay null’ deliv'rance decelts et cett cause moy fate destre absente de vous si longement. Vous enprie q' ne soiez displeasez dautre p't ma d'ce t's honuree dame soy ppose destre mariez ove le Sire de Scrope Tresorer dengleterre en tout le hast si come jeo suy enfo’mez et pr. tant qele ferroit carier lez biens avu’ntdiz hoes du pays tanq' ils furent deliv'ez Jeo suy demo'antz et exspectantz en la pays. Et touchant lez novels n’re Sr le y sey p’pose daler vers voz parties si come Jeo suy enfourme. Honure S. si rien soit q' ieo p'ra faire moy voillez c'tifier et ieo lez p'foʻnera de treslee coer a tout mun poair. Autres ne say a vous escrier mes ie prie a n’re Sr. tout puissant vous eit en sa t'sentisme garde et vous ottroie tresbone vie et long'a endure. Escr' a Eresby le Marsdy ap's le fest del nativite n're Dame.
Tout le vre' fitz Rob't de
Wylughby Sr de Eresby.
[TRANSLATION.] TO MY HONOURED LORD AND MOST ENTIRELY BELOVED FATHER, :
HENRY Fitz Hugh, LORD OF RAVENSWATH. Honoured Lord and right entirely well-beloved Father, I commend me unto you as much as I know how or most can, desiring always to know and hear good news of yourself, and of your honourable estate, which I pray to God may always be as good as you yourself can best devise or wish, and as I should desire to feel myself. And may it please you to know, honoured Lord, that I am claiming from my most honoured lady and mother, the Duchess of York, certain things which ought to have descended to me by right of inheritance, and which have not yet been delivered to me; and this has caused me to be absent so long from you. I entreat that you will not be displeased. On the other hand, my said most honoured lady intends to be married with the Sire de Scrope, Treasurer of England, in all haste, as I am informed; and for as much as she would cause the before-mentioned goods to be conveyed out of the country, until they be delivered I am remaining and waiting in the country. And respecting news, our Lord proposes to proceed toward your parts, as I am informed. Most honoured Lord, if there be any thing that I can do, be pleased to mention it to me, and I will perform it with a willing heart to the best of my power. Other matters I have not to write to you upon; but I pray our Lord all powerful to have you in his most holy keeping, and grant you happy life, and long to continue.
Written at Eresby, the Tuesday after the Feast of the Nativity of our Lady.
Entirely your son, Robert de
Wylughby Sire de Eresby.
The ensuing letter, though very short, discloses one or two facts connected with a subject of unfading interest—the death of Mary Queen of Scots. The writer was John Wolley, the clerk of the council; and, as the superscription states, it was addressed to the Earl of Leicester. Our readers do not require to be informed, that Queen Elizabeth's conduct with respect to the execution of Mary was a mixture of unrelenting cruelty, despicable cowardice, and flagitious hypocrisy; that whilst it was the dearest wish of her heart to deprive her kinswoman of her existence, she attempted to remove the odium of the act from herself, by endeavouring to induce those to whose custody she was intrusted to assassinate their prisoner; that when she found she could not succeed, she commanded the warrant to be forwarded ; and that when she knew it was too late to recall it, asserted that she never intended it should be carried into execution, threw herself into a paroxysm of affected rage and grief, upbraided her counsellors, and first imprisoned and then sacrificed the fortunes of Secretary Davison, one of her most virtuous servants, as a victim to her own fame, and the resentment of the King of Scots. These damning facts in the character of Elizabeth are too well known to require to be dilated on: they have eclipsed the few noble actions of her life, and remain indelible spots on her reputation as a woman and a sovereign ; but we learn from this letter the humiliating efforts made by her ministers to appease her fury, and her implacable resolution to overwhelm the unfortunate Davison with the effect of her assumed, or perhaps, real repentance. In his “ Apology,” that statesman informs us that on the Friday after Mary's execution, namely, on the 10th of February, arriving at the court he learnt the manner in which the queen had expressed herself relative to the event; but being advised by the council to “ absent himself for a day or two 1;” and being moreover extremely ill, he left the court and returned to London. Wolsey's communication, if dated on Sunday, for the manuscript is so excessively badly written, as to be almost illegible, shows that Elizabeth did not summon her council, and evince her displeasure at their conduct, until Saturday the 13th of February, two
!" Apology,” Life of Davison, p. 248.
days after she was informed of Mary's fate. Davison had been attacked with a stroke of the palsy shortly before; and all he says of his committal is, that he was not sent to the Tower until Tuesday the 14th, on account of his illness, though some days previous, probably on Saturday the 10th, the queen assembled her council. This letter also exhibits a specimen of Leicester's characteristic meanness; for, notwithstanding that he was a party to the act of forwarding the warrant for Mary's death, as his name occurs among those of the council who signed the letters to the Earl of Shrewsbury, the Earl Marshal, and to the Earl of Kent, both of which were dated on the 3rd February, 1586-7', commanding them to cause it to be put into execution; he took care to withdraw from court before Elizabeth performed the rôle which has so justly excited the scorn of posterity. It may also be remarked, as another example of the official duplicity of the period, that Sir Francis Walsingham likewise affected not to have been concerned in the affair of despatching the warrant, as, in his letter to Lord Thirlstone, the secretary to King James, dated at Greenwich, on the 4th March 1586-7, less than a month afterwards, he says, “ Being absent from court when the late execution of the queen your sovereign's mother happened?," though we find that he signed both the letters just mentioned.
[Cottonian MSS. Caligula, C. ix. f. 168. Original.] TO THE RIGHTE HONORABLE MY SINGULAR GOOD LORDE THE EARLE OF LEYCESTER ONE OF HER MATIES MOSTE HONORABLE PRYVIE COUNCELL.
Ryght Honorable and my most especiall good L. It pleased her M'tye yesterday night to call the L. L. and other of her Counsell before her into her withdrawing chamber, where she rebuked us all excedingly for our concealing from her our proceding in the Queen of Scotts case; but her indignation particularlye lighteth most upon my L. Treasorer and Mr. Davison, who called us togeather and delivered the commission ; for she protesteth she gave expresse commandement to the contrarye and therefore hath taken order for the committing of Mr. Secretarye Davison to the tower yf she contenew this morning in the mynd she was yesterday night, albeit we all kneled upon our knees to praye her to the contrarye. I thinke your L. happy to be absent from those broiles, and thought it my dewtye to lett you understand them. And so in haste I humblye take my leave. At the courte this present Sonday, 15863, Your L. ever most bounden
Life of Davison, p. 96, and Ellis's Original Letters, second series, vol. iii. p. 111.
Sanderson's Mary Queen of Scots, p. 128. 3 Sunday, 12th February, 1586-7. VOL. 1.- PART I.