King James and Ireland

king-james1Where do I begin? I suppose considering James’ view would be as good a starting point as any.  James was king of England, Scotland and Ireland.  They were three separate kingdoms – i.e. they had parliaments and laws of their own.  The union within the person of James as monarch was an imperfect one, unlike Wales (and I apologise in advance – I’m stating James’ point of view  not mine) which was a perfect union because it had no parliament. Its laws were those of England – Edward I and Henry IV had seen to that. James also began with the view that Ireland was just like his other two kingdoms in that he believed that it had a hierarchical system that worked on a pyramid principle with the king at the top, then the nobility. He was of the view that the nobility were essential for the sound governance of the regions – the only thing was that the Irish hierarchy didn’t work in quite the same way as the English and Scottish systems (more on that shortly).

The Anglo-Norman arrival in Ireland during the medieval period was an invasion but it wasn’t a conquest.  Various Plantagenet monarchs invested men and money in Ireland but the effect was to create independent Anglo-Norman magnates who married the locals and ruled from Dublin in an area known as the English Pale.  They did not take kindly to royal interference.

The sixteenth century saw a change in the Anglo-Irish relationship because suddenly the English were officially Protestant whilst the Irish remained Catholic.  Ireland became a potential jumping off point for a Spanish invasion.  Henry VIII negotiated with the Irish with no understanding of the way land was viewed or the way in which people elected new chieftains — who weren’t always the son of the previous one. The English began to try to impose their will on the Irish.  Inevitably there was a rebellion which only escalated under Elizabeth.  1594-1603 saw The Nine Years War and Sir Humphrey Gilbert who would have found himself at the Hague being found guilty of war crimes – he had the path to his tent lined with the decapitated heads of men, women and children.

James began his reign somewhat differently to the Tudors by issuing pardons all round- remember he believed that a country needed its nobility to act as the arms and legs to the royal head- but Ulster lost its O Neil chieftain and the English declared the old Irish laws to be abolished.  Cutting a long story short,  a number of earls fled the country and were immediately declared traitors which meant that under English law their lands were forfeit to the Crown.   Sir John Davies, the attorney general in Ireland, wrote “[You] have a greater extent of land than any prince in Europe has to dispose of.” He recommended that it be planted on a large scale, because it would not work ” if the number of civil persons who are to be planted do not exceed the number of natives who will quickly overgrow them as weeds overgrow the good corn”.

James liked the idea of the Ulster Pale – it would reward men who had fought in Ireland, provide land for those turned off it in England, provide a force to keep those pesky Spanish at bay and also break the links between the Scottish Gaelic speaking highlanders and their Celtic counterparts in Ireland.  It was also be an opportunity for him to prove his Protestant credentials because ultimately he believed that the Irish would leave off being Catholics and become good Protestants if only thy were provided with education.  It would, in theory, also turn a profit for him.

In 1609 there was a survey and the land in Ulster divided into Church land and Crown property.  The Crown property was divided into estates of 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 acres. 59 Scots and 51 English landlords undertook to transport at least ten families to Ulster. They were also permitted to rent out to native Irish tenants.  These wealthy landlords were called undertakers. Undertakers were also required to build a sturdy stone house for every 1500 acres.  These were designed to keep the Irish out in the event of armed conflict.

There were also a group of men called servitors. These men had been soldiers and were being rewarded for their service.

And of course not all the settlers were men – Davies wanted growing communities to counterbalance the Native Irish.

The third group were the “deserving Irish” – who were deserving because they hadn’t recently done much in the way of rebelling.  Many Irish were relocated specifically to be closer to Protestant churches – and garrisons.  To describe the Irish as becoming increasingly disgruntled is something of an understatement. James’ representative in Ireland, Sir Arthur Chichester, became ever more concerned that the rights of the native Irish were being ignored, especially when more land was acquired by the English when they claimed that inheritance through gavelkind (inheritance in equal part by all children) wasn’t an English way of doing things and only led to confusion – so confiscated property divided this way.  Davies claimed that Brehon Law which included gavelkind was a “lewd custom.”

There was also a lack of understanding about the way in which the land was farmed  and the fact that there were no walled towns which was regarded as backward.   Essentially the English were warming up to declare the Irish a bunch of barbarians in need of a spot of civilising – a legal conquest justified by a failure to recognise the way that Irish society worked.

Inevitably there was conflict between the settlers and the Irish.  In Munster the settlers were forced to flee and whilst there had been enthusiasm for resettlement in Ireland initially- it being closer to home than America- it rapidly became clear that rents and hostile locals were rather large flies in the ointment. There was also the issue that not all the land was that desirable. It wasn’t long before some of the settlers arranged themselves on land that had been designated as belonging to the Irish because it looked more appealing that the patch with which they had been issued.

All of this, is of course, a very straight forward account. It does not take account of revisionist views nor does it look at the complexities of Irish politics – or the generations of conflict that would ensue. Religious identity  of either variety would be enough to get you killed, if you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, for centuries to come and its consequences still resonate.  James I changed the population of Ireland whilst the armies that followed throughout the seventeenth century did nothing to help the situation.

Fergal Keane’s 2011 Story of Ireland which is currently being repeated on television presents the brutality of Irish history alongside the resilience and creativity of its peoples.  It is a good starting point for anyone wanting to find out more.

 

The decline of witches

250px-Daemonologie1By 1619 James, according to Borman, was becoming skeptical about witches. None the less, events such as the Belvoir Witch Trial meant that witchcraft remained a topic of much interest.

 

I’ve posted about the Belvoir Witches previously but just a quick reminder, the Earl of Rutland’s two young sons died.  Blame was ultimately placed on Joan Flowers and her two daughters, Margaret and Philippa.  They had been dismissed from their posts at Belvoir accused of theft and had left muttering curses.  The family had fallen on hard times – probably because Joan’s husband, John, had died.  It was rumoured that the three women were offering a range of services to community – at any rate both daughters were described in the records as “abandoned and profligate.”  It probably didn’t help that Joan liked a good argument.

Then Henry Manners, Lord Ros died. The doctors had been unable to decide what his illness might have been.  Shortly after that the Earl of Rutland’s other son also died. Initially the earl and his wife Cecilia (incidentally a Tresham of Gunpowder Plot connections) didn’t believe that the deaths were witchcraft but ultimately the Flowers women were arrested and taken off to Lincoln for trial where they inevitably confessed.

However, times so far as James were concerned, were changing.  When the Leicestershire witch trials took place James was on progress and interrogated the women and their accusers.  They were released.  James was beginning to develop skepticism.  When he wrote a commentary on the Lord’s Prayer he made no mention to the existence of evil in the form of witches – as he lost interest so the number of witch trials declined. It was becoming more common to make jokes about witches rather than to string up hapless little old ladies who had the misfortune to be poor, ill looking cat owners. This was unfortunate for witch hunters who were usually paid by result which probably accounts for the fact that once one was discovered several more popped up in the same place.

Some of the women accused of witchcraft now took the opportunity to take their accusers to court.  One of them Agnes Fenn, a Norfolk widow of mature years, went to the Star Chamber and named the men who’d set upon her, beaten her, forced her to sit on knives and set off gunpowder in her face in an effort to make her confess to being a witch. Despite having been terrorised and stabbed in the face the Norfolk gentlemen who had carried out the attack declared themselves innocent of the accusation and Agnes received no further redress – demonstrating that being old and poor wasn’t a good starting point from which to hope for justice.

By the 1630’s killing witches was almost a thing of the past – but then the English Civil War came along and with one thing and another witch hunting once more became a popular pastime.

Sir Walter Raleigh’s treason

William_Segar_Sir_Walter_Raleigh_1598On Thursday 17th November 1603 Sir Walter Raleigh was tried at Winchester for his part in the Main Plot. The jury took 15 minutes to arrive at their verdict and even Lord Coke the attorney general was taken by surprise at the speed of the delivery – he was still taking a stroll round the gardens when the jury returned.  No one was particularly surprised by the outcome, probably least of all Sir Walter, but the consensus was that he had arrived in Winchester one of the most disliked men in the kingdom but departed as one of the most pitied.

Essentially Sir Walter was caught up by the Main Plot which conspired to kill James and his children and replace them with Arbella Stuart having been financed by the Spanish and the Hapsburgs. Much of the evidence against Raleigh was based on Lord Cobham’s evidence.

The King’s Sergeant when introducing the case announced that Cobham revered Raleigh and that the former was a simple untravelled man whilst Raleigh was much more worldly.

Raleigh defended himself ably and with humour noting that the entire content of his trial was based on hearsay by one man and that man had received a letter from his wife telling him to pin it on Raleigh.  He went on to say that under a law dating from the reign of Edward III that two men were required to condemn a man.  Coke, objected saying that horse thieves used that stratagem to avoid condemnation and that to argue against the king’s court on a point of law suggested treasonable intent in itself.

He continued to observe that he was not charged with the Bye Plot which was to kidnap James I – and that if he was part of the conspiracy why hadn’t he been trusted to take part in that particular hare-brained scheme.

Raleigh also made the very good point that the Spanish had never been his friends and that they didn’t look particularly kindly upon him in any event so to accuse him of being in cahoots with the Spanish verged upon the absurd.  He continued in that particular vein picking holes in the evidence and observing that he had thought that Lord Cobham was offering him a pension to work for peace- something that Cecil himself had accepted- so it was hardly treasonous.

Looking at the trial transcripts it is clear that under today’s laws the case would have been thrown out.  Somewhat ironically James and Cecil needed Raleigh out of the way so that they could make peace with the Spanish.

 

Robert Cecil

00cecilR3Robert was born in 1563, the second son of William Cecil.  His mother was Mildred Cooke.  Robert had an elder half-brother called Thomas who would become the 1st Earl of Exeter but it was this younger, much more clever son, upon who William lavished his affection as well as training him to take over the reins of government.

When he arrived at court he initially seemed at a disadvantage when compared with the young and handsome Earl of Essex.  Robert was small and had a twisted back.  He had only is mind to recommend him and for a while the contest between the new young favourites cannot have been comfortable but in 1596 Elizabeth made Robert, who she called her “pygmy”, her Secretary of State.

In 1601 the Earl of Essex rebelled against the queen and suffered the ultimate penalty.   Robert had blamed his uprising upon the queen’s poor advisor’s of whom Cecil featured.  In the aftermath of the short-lived uprising Cecil counselled clemency but it did him no good in popular imagination.  People had rather liked the flamboyant Essex whereas Cecil was regarded with suspicion in part because of his physical disability – body reflecting godliness etc- there were ballads placing the blame for Essex’s death squarely on Robert’s head.

Interestingly when the conspirators of the Main  and Bye Plot were brought to trial – and bear in mind one of them was his brother-in-law Lord Cobham- it was Cecil who expressed some doubt over Raleigh’s guilt.  Modern historians tend to look at the transcript of the trial and wonder how anyone could have thought Raleigh guilty and are more inclined to consider the possibility that Cecil was helping a political opponent out of the picture.

Robert, like his father before him was a loyal servant to the queen but he opened a secret correspondence with James VI of Scotland.  The stability of the country was largely due to Cecil’s careful management of the transition between monarchs.   The reward for the ease with which James became king was an elevation to the peerage in 1605.  Cecil also became Lord Treasurer.

The Earl of Salisbury was at the root of James’ good governance in the years between 1603 and 1612.  It was he who negotiated the peace with Spain in 1604 – which although unpopular helped to stabilise the economy which was leaking money into the ongoing war. It was he who introduced a Book of rates in 1608 and it was he who attempted to negotiate the Great Contract between King and Parliament in 1610.  This particular venture didn’t come to fruition as neither side particularly trusted the other – and yes it will be a post very shortly.  Robert’s financial policy wasn’t helped by the king’s expenditure, his generous gifts to his favourites or the cost of maintaining a royal household that contained a king, his wife and their children.

Like his predecessor, James  had a predilection for nicknames – Cecil moved from “pygmy” or “elf” to “little beagle.”  The little beagle became increasingly over worked.  In addition to finances there was the matter of religion and the Gunpowder Plot. James also had a new favourite – the handsome but somewhat brainless Robert Carr. Cecil found his advice increasingly spurned in favour of that provided by Robert Carr – or more truthfully- Sir Thomas Overbury who advised Carr.  Francis Bacon’s political aspirations also made life difficult for Cecil who was increasingly adrift in the Stuart world.

And then there is the matter of the Gunpowder Plot – Cecil presents himself as the saviour of king and parliament but there are some doubts about exactly how much provoking Cecil might have done beforehand – he’d learned from that master of espionage Sir Francis Walsingham how to implicate suspects in a web of guilt.

He died in 1612 having swapped his father’s home at Theobalds in 1607 for the Royal Palace at Hatfield on account of the fact the king had taken a shine to Cecil’s house and garden. Cecil demolished the medieval palace and used the bricks to rebuild a new house.

 

The Millenary Petition and Hampton Court Conference.

king-james1I’ve posted a James I timeline before.  It can be opened here in a new window.  Many of James’ problems at home stemmed from the religious changes that were underway during this period.

He hadn’t even been crowned when he found himself being asked to change the way religion was viewed.  In the Spring of 1603 as he travelled south he was presented with the so-called Millenary Petition.  The Petition, signed by Puritan ministers, commented on the state of the Anglican Church (thy weren’t wildly enthusiastic) however, they had a fine line to walk as criticism of the Church implied criticism of the monarch.  For that reason the preamble made it very clear that the Puritans had no desire to move a way from the Anglican Church.  They did not wish to be regarded as separatists.

The fact was though that they didn’t think the Church had gone far enough with its reformation. Their objections were to do with the rites and rituals of the Church such as the wearing of the surplus and even the wearing of wedding rings. Currently there is no original copy of the Millenary Petition available which is odd because no one could cause Robert Cecil of being sloppy with his filing – but on the other hand during the opening months of James’ reign he was being petitioned about all manner of issue.

They went on to say that they would appreciate it if the king would discuss matters.  James got their hopes up by indicating that he was prepared to debate these things.  The only problem was that at this point no one was aware that James liked to show off his knowledge.  Thus when The Hampton Court Conference was convened in January 1604 Puritans, and rather surprisingly Catholics alike, were hopeful that there would be steps towards religious toleration.  The Puritans had been forced into secrecy at the end of Elizabeth’s reign whilst Catholics faced heavy recusancy fines depending which part of the country they lived in.

 

The conference opened its doors on the 14th of January 1604. Archbishop Whitgift of Canterbury was also there as were eight other leading clerics all dolled up in the ecclesiastical finery which irritated the Puritans so much.  The Puritans chose their representatives carefully.  They opted for moderate men.  The king was very pleased with himself – he felt that he was leading a discussion of learned men.  During the next three days he listened to what they had to say – or rather he told them what he thought of what they said.  He had no wish to live under presbyterianism, felt that standards of preaching needed to improve and agreed that clerics should be able to debate theological matters – Elizabeth had banned such discussions.

The Puritans must have had cause for hopefulness after all of that so it came as a bitter disappointment when the official outcome, announced by proclamation in July, was one of conformity and business as usual.  The only real outcome was the commissioning of the King James Bible.

Part of the problem was that despite his education as a protestant, James believed in the Devine Right of Kings.  The Puritans want the Church to govern itself and this in James’ mind detracted from the monarch’s special relationship with the Almighty.

On the other hand someone somewhere must have told James not to go poking sticks into ants’ nests because by the end of his reign only two puritan ministers had been turfed out of their livings for non-conformity and George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1611 to 1633 was known to protect Puritan ministers on account of his sympathy with many of their beliefs.

As for the Catholics – their hopes of toleration dashed- a number of men sought to blow up the Houses of Parliament and paid the ultimate penalty but in all only twenty Catholic Priests were executed during the period of James’ reign.  It doesn’t sound particularly kindly but in relation to Elizabeth’s tally of executed priests it looks positively tolerant!

 

Cavendish, Richard. (2004) “The Hampton Court Conference.” History Today. Vol 54, i

 

The earls of Northumberland and the Percy family part 4 of 4

Lady Elizabeth Percy, Duchess of Somerset (1667-1722)by Sir Godfrey Kneller (Lübeck 1646 - London 1723)

The 9th earl of Northumberland:

The nineth earl, yet another Henry was the eighth earl’s son born in 1564 and like his father spent time in the Tower. He was complicit in the Gun Powder Plot, gambled rather too much and had a nicotine habit.

Prior to getting himself into a treasonous sort of trouble he served under the Earl of Leicester in the Low Countries during the 1580s and was in the fleet facing the Spanish Armada.   Not withstanding his evident loyalty to the throne there were suggestions that he might marry Lady Arbella Stuart during the early 1590s.  Arbella had a claim to the throne via her father Charles Stuart the younger brother of Henry Stuart (Lord Darnley).  The earl also had a claim to the throne albeit a rather distant one.  It was suggested that the pair might make a winning team as with the death of Mary Queen of Scots a Catholic alternative was required to Protestant James.  Instead of marrying Arbella he  married Dorothy Devereaux, the sister of the 2ndearl of Essex (the one executed by Elizabeth I for treason in 1601) and step-daughter of the Earl of Leicester.  It was not necessarily a wildly happy marriage although they did have a shared friend in Sir Walter Raleigh.

Initially it appeared that the ninth earl would rise to prominence under the Stuarts.  He was made a Privy Councillor in 1603 but Percy was not happy about the way Raleigh was treated and the promised tolerance for catholicism never materialised. He also regarded Prince Henry as a more regal alternative.  In short when Thomas Percy was found to have conspired in the gunpowder plot it was one short step from there to the incrimination of the earl himself.

Despite the fact that Lord Salisbury (Robert Cecil) wrote that there was no evidence against him the earl was charged with treason and fined £30,000 – £11,000 of the fine fell due immediately.  Percy was in the Tower, his wife appealed to Anne of Denmark and James I confiscated some of the earl’s estates.  The earl’s years in the Tower were not badly spent in that he and Sir Walter Raleigh spent their time conducting scientific experiments and reading.  He also had plenty of time to fulminate on his dislike of all things Scottish which can’t have been good news when his daughter fell in love with one.  In all the earl spent almost sixteen years inside the Tower.

The earl, upon release, having taken the waters in Bath retired to Petworth where he died in 1632.

The 10th Earl of Northumberland:

The tenth earl broke with tradition in that his first name was Algernon but like the rest of his family he didn’t get along with the current occupant of the throne.  Whilst he was on his European educational tour his father wrote to him from the Tower giving him advice about what to look at and how to behave.  He was the MP for Sussex in 1624 and served as an admiral in various campaigns. Charles I favoured him with assorted promotions over the years but ultimately despite looking like a Royalist with his flowing hair and lace collars he fought on Parliament’s side during the English Civil War. By 1649 he was doing everything possible to prevent the king’s execution.  Essentially after Charles I was executed Algernon threw all his toys out from his pram and refused to play with Oliver Cromwell.  In 1660 when he returned to politics along with a restored monarchy he petitioned against the actions that Charles II took against the regicides.

 

The 11th Earl of Northumberland:

The 11thearl was called Josceline – born 1644, he had been a page at Charles II’s coronation. When he died in Turin in 1670 there was just one daughter Elizabeth.  She was married to Charles Seymour, the Sixth Duke of Somerset.  It was her third marriage and she was only  fifteen at the time!  Her son Algernon became the Duke of Somerset – the title being superior to that of an earl. Normally his eldest son would have taken the title earl of Northumberland until he inherited the dukedom but he also had only one child – a daughter, Elizabeth Seymour  pictured at the start of the post.  The dukedom of Somerset would pass elsewhere on Algernon’s death but the earldom of Northumberland was held suo jureor in her own right  by Elizabeth as indeed her grandmother  had held it.  So, her husband Sir Hugh Smithson took the surname Percy in much the same way that had happened back in the thirteenth century.  In 1766 Sir Hugh Smithson changed his name to Percy by act of Parliament. It was a move to see that an ancient name and title did not die out. He was created the Duke of Northumberland the same year.

From an earl to a duke.

The Dukedom of Northumberland has been created on three different occasions: John Dudley made himself Duke of Northumberland in 1551 – but he had a nasty accident with an axe thanks to the whole Lady Jane Grey gambit.   Charles II revived the title for one of his illegitimate sons but  George Fitzroy had no heirs.  There was a Jacobite duke in 1715 but he is considered not to count because he was installed by the Old Pretender.

 

 

Yan, Tyan, Tethera and other sheep related historical facts…and a cross stitch sampler

yantyantether.jpgTraditionally shepherds counted their sheep in scores – or lots of twenty – twice a day, morning and evening, just to check that they hadn’t lost any in the night.    When the shepherd got to twenty he or she would place a pebble in their pocket and start again and so on until they ran out of sheep or pebbles.

There are various regional versions of sheep counting but my own favourite is Cumbrian sheep counting. Some sources believe that this form of counting goes back to the Vikings – and given that there are studies that suggest that iconic Cumbrian sheep,the Herdwick, was introduced by non other than the Vikings it is easy to see how this conclusion was arrived at.

Others identify this particular form of counting as a Celtic form of counting – Brythonic Celtic if you want to be accurate.  The ancient kingdom of Rheged of which Cumbria was a part was Celtic and for those of you who like unexpected links – was once ruled by Coel Hen – or Old King Cole (the merry monarch).

There is also a theory that sheep counting, which is rhythmic, is the reason that counting sheep is supposed to send you to sleep: yan, tan, tethera, methera, pimp, sethera, lethera, hovera, dovera, dick, yan-a-dick, tyan-a-dick, tethera-dick, methera-dick, bumfit, yan-abumfit, tyan-a-bumfit, methera bumfit, giggot.  It’s also hugely repetitive with only the light relief of number fifteen as a diversion.

Wool is historically one of England and Wales most important industries.   Dre-fach Felindre in the Teifi valley was once the centre of a thriving woollen industry, earning the nickname ‘The Huddersfield of Wales’ – the two don’t have many other similarities.  It is now home to the National Wool Museum of Wales. We visited one very wet summer’s day to find out more about sheep farming and the production of textiles and in its turn it inspired me to create the cross stitch sampler at the start of this post with its varous methods of counting and various sheep or wool related images including the teasels which were once grown in industrial quantities to tease the tangles from the wool.

medieval sheepIn medieval England wool was produced for export to the Low Countries where weavers were prepared to pay best prices for English wool. Even before that time sheep had been important – the Domesday Book reveals that there wherefore sheep than any other kind of animal. From the thirteenth century onwards wool generated huge wealth for the country and it explains why from Yorkshire to the Cotswolds not to mention East Anglia there are so many magnificent churches. Let’s not forget that Norwich was once England’s second city based entirely on the wealth generated from wool. The Merchants of the Staple are one of the oldest corporations still in existence. The Cistercians built their great monasteries on the wealth of wool based on their use of the grange system – or specialist farms.  By the fourteenth century there were something like 150,000 sheep in Yorkshire alone.  The sheep in question turn up in sculpture and manuscripts.  Interestingly whilst sheep milk and sheep cheese was important to the agrarian society of the time meat was a later addition to the sheep’s versatility with mutton finding it’s way onto the menu.

Mutton, incidentally, comes from a sheep which is more than a year old.  Sheep of course can be ewes, rams, tups, hoggets or wethers.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  Cheviot sheep with their startled ears and dense wool have been around since the fourteenth century whereas the blackfaced suffolk sheep with their black legs, faces and downturned ears have only been recorded since the eighteenth century.  An article in Country Life identifies twenty-one native breeds of sheep and provides a handy identikit summary for sheep spotters.  It can be found here http://www.countrylife.co.uk/out-and-about/dogs/shaggy-sheep-stories-21-native-british-sheep-breeds-recognise-153367

french sheep illustrationInevitably  it wasn’t long before someone came up with the bright idea of taxing wool – let’s not forget that the Lord Chancellor sits on a woolsack.  Edward I was the first monrch who slapped a tax on wool.   Henry VI licensed the export of  Cotswold Sheep such was their value.  Even Henry VII got in on the act in 1488 with his own wool act in Wakefield and the west Riding encouraging skilled foreign workers to settle in the country to promote the wool industry.  He also prohibited sale abroad as detrimental to the making and finishing of cloth . In 1523 dyers found themselves coming under regulation thanks to Henry VIII and  the Capper’s Act of 1571 required every male in the kingdom aged six and above to wear a wool hat on a Sunday.  A three shilling fine could be levied for anyone not conforming to the sartorial requirements.  And that’s before we get to the Dissolution of the Monasteries or the land enclosures which troubled the Tudors (e.g. Kett’s Rebellion of 1549).  No wonder Sir Thomas More had something to say about sheep in Utopia – that the sheep ate the men.  Or put more simply the big landowners kicked their tenants and little men off the land so that their herds of sheep could increase in size.Luttrell Psalter sheep

James I was persuaded by Sir William Cockayne to launch a project designed to boost the earnings of those involved in the manufacture of undyed cloth setting up a dyeing industry to do the job at home. The government was promised £40,000 p.a. from increased customs through the importing of dyestuffs. James gave control to Cockayne and the new company was given permission to export in 1615. It was clear by 1616 that Cockayne had not the resources to buy the cloth from the clothing districts and hold it until it could be marketed. Matters became worse when the Dutch banned the import of cloth. Merchants went bankrupt, weavers rioted, cloth exports slumped and the industry stagnated. By 1617 James abandoned Cockayne and the Merchant Adventurers regained control.  It should also be noted that James wasn’t without his own share of riot and rebellion related to sheep and enclosure – the Midland Revolt of 1607 demonstrates that problems didn’t go away for a few years before returning with a vengeance during the eighteenth century.

Times change and by the mid seventeenth century there was a requirement to be buried in a woollen shroud to help keep the wool market going (The Burying in Woollen Acts) This act of 1666 required all the dead to have woolly shrouds apart from plague victims and presumably that was because no one wanted the job of checking to see whether the deceased was complying with the law – families were liable to a five pound fine if the shroud was anything other than English wool.  The law was in force for about a century although it remained on the law books for much longer.

James I banned the sale of untreated wool to Flanders and ultimately the ban on sales of wool was not lifted until 1824. In 1698 there was even an act that meant that farmers with flocks of sheep near the cost had to give an account of the numbers in their flocks to prevent wool smuggling.

In 1699 it was forbidden that any of England’s colonies should export wool anywhere other than England – so it was sold to Enlgish markets and then sold on elsewhere.  It doesn’t take a genius to see why the colonists felt somewhat out of sorts about the matter. And of course wool is one of the reasons behind the Highland Land Clearances that began in about 1750 and lasted for the next century.

If you like the sampler pictured at the start of this post and you do cross stitch it is now possible to buy and download it from the HistoryJar shop which can be accessed at the top of the page or by clicking on the link.

 

The Cavendish Connection part two – the earls of Devonshire.

bessofhardwickBess of Hardwick disowned her eldest son Henry but he had still inherited Chatsworth despite the fact that Bess entailed what she could to William and his heirs.  Due to his debts Henry sold Chatsworth to his brother William.

William was not what might be called dynamic.  He was still living at home  in Hardwick with his mum when he was a middle aged man with a family.  Nor was he interested in a London based career as a courtier.  Instead he concentrated on the role of administration traditionally allotted to the gentry.  He was for example the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire.

William_Cavendish,_1st_Earl_of_DevonshireIn 1605 thanks to the auspices of his niece Arbella Stuart he became a baronet.  In 1618 with the aid of £10,000 paid to James I he became an earl.  In addition to his land holdings in Derbyshire he was also investing in foreign trade – the East India Company, the Muscovy Company, the Bermuda Company and also in the settlements in Virginia.

The first earl was Anne Keithley of Yorkshire with whom he had three children.  Two of them died young.  His daughter Frances married the first baron Maynard.  His second wife was also from Yorkshire and this marriage produced one son, John, who was knighted in 1618 when Prince Charles became Prince of Wales.  He died soon afterwards.

William’s eldest son was another William, called Wylkyn within the family.  It was intended that he should marry Christian Bruce of Kinross when he was eighteen.  She was only twelve but the matter had been arranged to King James’ approval.  The dowry was a very lucrative £10,000.  The problem was that young William didn’t want a wealthy bride of the kind that his father and grandmother Bess might have approved nor was he unduly concerned about the first earl’s political aspirations.  No, what William wanted was his mistress Margaret Chatterton who had been one of Bess’s ladies.  It didn’t help that Christian was still a child to William’s eighteen years. Despite Wylkyn’s dislike of the marriage he was wed to Christian Bruce.  The Devonshires would not be known for their love matches.

Lord-Cavendish-Later-Second-Earl-of-Devonshire-and-His-Son-G_58_4_1-827x1024By the time he was in his twenties young William was a polished courtier (pictured left).  He also had a reputation of brawling, drinking and womanising.  He also spent money as though it was water.  This Cavendish was behaving as though he was a member of the aristocracy.

Perhaps in a bid to curtail his son’s rather un-Cavendish habits William senior appointed him a new tutor in the form of Thomas Hobbes.  The reason for this was that married men could not attend university and William senior saw that his son required a layer of culture to add to his fashionable persona.  The pair were sent on a tour of Europe.  These days we tend to think of the Grand Tour as an eighteenth century phenomenon but despite the on-going religious wars the English were keen to visit foreign climes – especially when Prince Charles (to be Charles I) made it a fashionable thing to do.

In addition to all the gallivanting he found time to become the MP for Derbyshire and on account of the Cavendish investments was also Governor of the Bermuda Company.  However he had managed to get himself into a huge amount of debt and ultimately an act of parliament would have to be sought to break Bess’s entail on part of the estate so that land could be sold to save the rest of the estate.

The second earl died in 1628 in London of “excessive indulgence.”  His heir, another William, was a minor so for a while at least the Cavendish lands were in the hands of Christian Bruce who was by now thirty-two-years old and a canny woman managing to secure full wardship for her son.  An economy drive was instituted and Thomas Hobbes was given the boot, only returning when finances recovered and there was further need for a tutor.  William was knighted at Charles I’s coronation in 1625.  His royalist credentials are evidenced by the fact that he spoke against the attainder on the Earl of Strafford in 1641. The network of family ties was strengthened with a marriage to Elizabeth Cecil, daughter of the Earl of Salisbury in 1639.

William_Cavendish,_3rd_Earl_of_Devonshire.jpgWhich brings us to the English Civil War.  Christian Bruce was a friend of Henrietta Maria.  The Cavendishs were Royalists.  In 1642 the 3rd Earl presented himself in York with his younger brother Charles who joined with Prince Rupert and his cavalry, took part in the Battle of Edgehill and ultimately became the Royalist commander for Derbyshire and Lincolnshire prior to his death at the Battle of Gainsborough.  Meanwhile the earl, no doubt on his mother’s advice, took himself off to Europe until 1645 when he compounded for his Royalist sympathies – paid a fine of £5000 and returned to live in England at Leicester Abbey where his mother had her residence (it had been purchased by the first earl in 1613) and from there he went to Latimer Place in Buckinghamshire until the Restoration when he returned to Chatsworth.

The third earl laid the foundations for Chatsworth’s library, was a fellow of the Royal Society and a friend of the diarist John Evelyn.  He does not seem much like his father, or indeed his son.

 

(c) National Trust, Hardwick Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationBorn in 1641, yet another William became the fourth earl upon his father’s death in 1684.  There had been an older brother but he died in his infancy. The third earl had preserved the Cavendish estates largely by keeping his head down and letting his cousin (William Earl, Marquis and the Duke of Newcastle) of and younger brother get on with Royalist soldiering.  The fourth earl was described by Bishop Burnet as being of “nice honour in everything except the paying of his tradesmen.”  Like his father he had been sent on the Grand Tour and like his Uncle William (Newcastle) he fancied himself as  a bit of a poet. It is easy to see how this particular Cavendish fitted into the court of King Charles II who was also known for his late payments.  Like his monarch Cavendish also had a reputation for womanising. He had several children by a mistress called Mrs Heneage. Apparently Charles II had told Nell Gwynn not to have anything to do with him – re-arrange the words pot, kettle and black into a sentence of your choice.  It could be that Charles took against William Cavendish because he publicly snubbed the Duke of York (James) at Newmarket on account of his catholicism.  Aside from seduction the fourth earl also seems to have spent a lot of time picking fights and duelling.

In 1661 the fourth earl entered Parliament and the following year married Lady Mary Butler the daughter of the Duke of Ormonde.  Ormonde had been at the forefront of the Irish campaign against Oliver Cromwell and had been with Charles II in exile. Upon the Restoration he became a key political figure.  In this instance the Cavendish alliance was for political advancement.

Somehow or other the brawling, womanising, verse-writing earl became a serious politician.  By the 1670s he was using his position to wage war on behalf of Parliament against James III.  This particular Cavendish was not a die-hard royalist like his father or uncles).  The Fourth earl was a Whig – he was anti-court and anti-Catholic and, of course alongside that, he was first and foremost a Cavendish.

 

Part of the reason for his being involved in the Glorious Revolution, to depose James III in favour of his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange, was because of a dispute over land.  Colonel Culpepper, a supporter of James III, had made a claim to some Devonshire lands stating that they should have come to him as part of his wife’s dowry.  The pair had a brawl when Culpepper called Cavendish’s loyalty to the Crown into question and Cavendish called Culpepper a liar.Culpepper ended up in the Marshalsea Prison was released and the pair met again.  Culpepper having been imprisoned  for fighting refused a further confrontation so the earl grabbed him by the nose and dragged him from the room before beating him about the head with his cane. It was the earl’s turn to be imprisoned unless he paid a £30,000 fine.  The earl had no intention of paying so he simply walked out of the prison gates and headed for Derbyshire. A warrant for his arrest was issued but in the short term everything was smoothed out with a letter of apology and an I.O.U. – which the earl clearly had no intention of paying.

It was a short step from that event to conspiracy in Whittington and a letter inviting William of Orange to come to England – William Cavendish was able to stand up for Protestantism and get one over on Colonel Culpepper. It also made him one of the so-called “Immortal Seven” having signed the letter inviting William to come and take the crown. The new king was very grateful to the fourth earl who would shortly become the First Duke of Devonshire.  The two times great grandson of Bess of Hardwick had moved the family further up the social hierarchy.

 

Hattersley, Roy. (2014) The Devonshires: The Story of a Family and a Nation. London:Vintage Books

Pearson, John. (1984) The Serpent and the Stag. New York: Holt Reinhart

 

 

 

Sir William Brooke, royal favourite and duelling victim

Lord Cobham.jpgSir William Brooke (1565-1597) was the son of William Brooke, 10th Lord Cobham Warden of the Kent Cinque Ports (1527 to 1597) pictured at the start of this post. He was of a similar vintage to Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex and Elizabeth’s replacement for Dudley in the royal favourite stakes after his death in 1588. Like other Elizabethan gentlemen he did a stint in the continental religious wars being knighted by Essex in 1591 at Dieppe.  He was, in short, one of the new breed of men in Elizabeth’s court.

Having done his time abroad he was then returned to Parliament as MP for Rochester at the behest of his father.  Lord Cobham was not terribly amused that of the two MPS for Kent it was Sir Robert Sidney (brother of Sir Philip Sidney, nephew of Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester) who was returned as the senior parliamentarian.  Elizabeth noted that it wasn’t very helpful that  both men were abroad at the time. The fact that Brooke was also outlawed was also an issue. Elizabeth had decreed that members could not take their place until they had settled with their creditors. The matter must ultimately have been settled to Elizabeth’s satisfaction because he is described by Margaret Cavendish as one of her favourites.  Certainly, in June 1597 William had been made Keeper of Eltham Great Park though whether it was because he was a royal favourite or because his family was an important one is something that probably bears further consideration.

 

The family links with Elizabeth are in themselves interesting. Clearly being a Kent family the Boleyn equation  and Kent gentry affinity comes into play. Anne Boleyn sent George Brooke 9th Lord Cobham (1497-1558) a letter telling him about the birth of Elizabeth in September 1533 but he was also one of the judges that tried the queen just three years later. The following year at the christening of young Prince Edward it was Lord Cobham – our William’s grandfather- who carried consecrated wafers for both the illegitimised Tudor princesses.

 

George’s story continued to be tied to that of Henry VIII’s children and it is evident that he was of the reforming persuasion in his beliefs and the way in which he had chosen to have his children educated. The reign of Mary Tudor was made difficult not only by his faith but by the fact that he was related to Sir Thomas Wyatt through marriage. Wyatt even wrote to him demonstrating the belief that Cobham would side with him against Mary to put Elizabeth on the throne. He and his sons were arrested and there can be no doubt that Thomas Brooke had sided with Wyatt until the end. After that Lord Cobham who spent some time in the Tower kept his head down. He entertained Cardinal Pole and he made enquiries about heritics.. He died just before Mary so never saw Elizabeth ascend to the throne but the new Lord Cobham, William who had also been imprisoned in the Tower for his suspected part in Wyatt’s rebellion was on hand to play his allotted part in Elizabeth’s court and the administration of Kent as well as the Cinque Ports.

Clearly our Brooke was a bit of an Elizabethan wild boy and this led to his untimely end when he insulted Elizabeth Leighton the slightly pregnant lover of Sir Thomas Lucas of Colchester. Lucas called him out and he was mortally wounded one cold December morning in Mile End at a rapier’s end.  He was carried home where friends and family visited him as he lay dying.

Brooke had made his will in June having gone on a sea voyage but on the morning of his death he had added an undated codicil to the will which left everything to his brother George:

‘Your jest and my haste would not suffer me to acquaint you with what I am gone about this morning, what hath called me out so early. I send you enclosed within these what I shall leave behind me. My will and meaning is you should have all lands, leases and prisoners which I desire you may as quietly enjoy as I sincerely mean…Wishing you the best fortune, your loving brother William Brooke

The will was proved on the 25 December 1597. For those of you who like to know these things, George Brooke was executed for plotting against James I in 1603.

One letter described William Brooke as “misfortunate.”  Two arrest warrants were issued for Lucas by the privy council – on on the 24th of December and a second on the 30th. This was was very unfortunate for Elizabeth Leighton who bore an illegitimate child also called Thomas who would not meet his father until he was six years old when James I pardoned Lucas and he was able to return home. He and Elizabeth went on to have seven more children of whom the youngest, Margaret would go on to serve Queen Henrietta Maria and marry the Marquis of Newcastle going down in history as Mad Madge.  She would also write her biography, just because she felt like it even though society disapproved of the idea of women writing books for publication and tell the story of her father’s duel.

Henry_Brooke,_11th_Baron_Cobham,_by_circle_of_Paul_van_Somer.jpgIt is perhaps not surprising that Lucas found himself at the wrong end of an arrest warrant, William Brooke’s father the 10th Lord Cobham (who had died on March 6 1597)  was a man with clout. Brooke’s sister Elizabeth was the wife of Sir Robert Cecil – the most important man in the kingdom. She had also died at the beginning of 1597 but there were still family and political ties that were wielded by the new Lord Cobham – Henry Brooke – pictured left. He had been invested as Warden of the Cinque Ports on the same month that his father died.

In addition to which Whitaker makes the salient point that Elizabeth was already tetchy with the Lucas family because Sir Thomas’s sister Anne had gone to court to serve as a lady in waiting but then married for love against the queen’s wishes.  Anne had defied the queen to marry Arthur Throckmorton who was the younger brother of Bess Throckmorton who, of course, irritated Elizabeth monumentally by marrying Sir Walter Raleigh demonstrating once again that everyone in the Tudor court is related somehow or another!

 

And who would have thought that in reading around the topic of Margaret Cavendish as part of the Stuarts in Derbyshire course I am currently delivering that I should encounter a tale of Tudor passion that correlates to Elizabeth I and her various favourites which happens to be  part of another course that I am currently teaching.

Whitaker, Katie. (2003) Mad Madge. London: Chatto and Windus

http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1558-1603/member/brooke-alias-cobham-william-1565-97

http://www.kentarchaeology.org.uk/Research/Pub/ArchCant/Vol.012%20-%201878/012-08.pdf

 

 

 

The Earl of Essex

essex3.jpgRobert Devereux was the son of the Queen Elizabeth’s favourite – the dashing one that managed to get himself executed for treason in 1601.  Grandpapa on his mother’s side was Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth’s spymaster.  Obviously having been attainted for treason the entire Devereux family, including young Robert who was ten at the time of his father’s misdeeds, were tainted as being of bad blood and all property returned to the Crown.

Things changed in 1604 when James I restored titles and lands to Robert and arranged his marriage to a wealthy Howard heiress. Perhaps this was because young Robert was close to the ill-fated Prince of Wales, Henry Stuart.  Unfortunately young Robert wasn’t old enough to actually marry his bride, Frances, so was sent abroad on his own version of Frances-Howard.jpgthe grand tour.  Whilst he was securing a gentleman’s education Frances Howard took up with the king’s favourite  Robert Carr and married him instead having divorced Robert for impotency in 1613 (and I should imagine that no 20 year-old wants that particular label)- France’s marriage would end in murder, a visit to the Tower and a Jacobean scandal that historians are still writing about but that’s beside the point.  The marriage ended amidst much hilarity and popular balladry.  Robert insisted that even if he was impotent so far as Frances was concerned he was more than capable with other ladies of his acquaintance.  To add insult to injury, Frances who had been carrying on with Robert Carr, was declared to be a maiden – the mirth this enjoindered can only be imagined.

Robert, the third earl, undertook a military career in continental Europe perhaps to escape the ribaldry.  The thirty years war was well under way by this time. He served in the Low Countries and or the Palatinate of which James’ daughter Elizabeth was the queen. In 1625 he was part of the Duke of Buckingham’s disastrous Cadiz Campaign.

It would have to be said that his relationship with Charles was not good.  He absolutely refused to pay Charles’ forced loans.  And things can’t have been much worse when in 1639 having been appointed as second in command of the the king’s armies in Scotland in the run up to the First Bishop’s War he was demoted so that the role could be given to one of the queen’s favourites.  Charles then became a bit sniffy about the fact that the Scots approached the earl to try and prevent the english army from marching north.  There was nothing machiavellian in the earl of Essex’s actions that warranted the king’s distrust as evidenced by the fact that Essex handed the letters he’d received from the Scots to Charles unopened.  In 1640 he wasn’t offered any role at all in the Second Bishop’s War which must have galled.

In 1640 when the king finally ran out of money and the Long Parliament sat Essex emerged as the principal speaker for the opposition to the king in the House of Lords.  He and John Pym worked together to prosecute the Earl of Strafford.  Charles, perhaps realising that insulting the earl of Essex in terms of military leadership hadn’t been one of his better ideas offered him a place on the Privy Council in 1641 and by July he was in control of the king’s army south of the River Trent and Lord Chamberlain.

It was Essex who received the news from his cousin Lady Carlisle in January 1641 that Charles intended to arrest five members of the House of Commons and one peer. After that Charles left London for Hampton Court, then Windsor.  From there he went north to York.  Once in York he ordered the earl to join him but Essex refused and was promptly removed from the post of Lord Chamberlain.  Parliament had come to regard him as a potential leader for some time and Charles as evidenced above had never really trusted him.  Essex was a bit prickly about his honour having had his father executed for treason so its perhaps not surprising that he chose to side with Parliament rather than the king.

In 1642 Essex was appointed to the Parliamentary Committee of Safety.  He also became one of Parliament’s key military figures during the early years of the English Civil War.  He wanted to negotiate a peace but from a position of military superiority – his was the middle way if you wish when Parliament was increasingly split between the War Party and the Peace Party.

He commanded the parliamentary forces at Edgehill and as with his continental campaigns he shared the experiences of his ordinary soldiers to the extent that he was actually seen at push of pike.  Edgehill was technically a draw but since Essex failed in his objective to prevent the king from marching on London it is usually deemed that he lost the battle.  But it was Essex who petitioned Londoners to send as many men as they could to Chiswick on 13 November at Turnham Green and thus ensured that the king withdrew from London rather than be responsible for untold bloodshed.

In 1643 Essex captured Reading but was unable to advance and capture Oxford where the king’s court was based.  He became embittered by his armies lack of pay whilst Parliament grew testy about his lack of success.  Despite this he raised the siege on Gloucester and won a victory at Newbury.

The king was not alone in mistrusting Essex’s military capacities.  When John Pym died in 1643 he was replaced by Sir Henry Vane who was not one of Essex’s fans. A point which seems to have been proved when, in 1644, Essex lost the Parliamentary army in Cornwall and had to escape in a fishing boat. Lostwithiel was the end of Essex’s military career. In addition to the Cornish disaster he had been militarily overshadowed by men like Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell.  He resigned his commission in 1645. Whilst he wasn’t a hugely successful military figure on account of his lack of imagination and flair he was respected by his men because ehe shared their hardships.

The earl of Essex wasn’t hugely successful as a husband either.  Having been divorced by Frances Howard he went on to marry Elizabeth Paulet in 1630 having returned from his soldiering in Europe to take up his other career as a politician – and an earl needs a wife.  The marriage lasted a year, after that it was a marriage in name only.  Six years after they married Elizabeth gave birth to an illegitimate baby which Robert accepted as his own after some hesitation, mainly because he didn’t need the embarrassment of a second errant wife and he did need an heir.  The child, a boy named Robert, died when it was little over a moth old and the earl was left without an heir.

walterdevereux.jpgThere are three earls of Essex during the Tudor/Stuart period – the title was not used after the third earl’s death in 1646 until the Restoration. The First Earl of Essex was Walter Devereux – he is associated with Tudor rule in Ireland and is more famously Lettice Knollys’ husband.  Lettice was the daughter of Catherine Carey – making her the grand-daughter of Mary Boleyn.  Historians speculate whether Catherine was the daughter of Henry VIII  – Lettice certainly looked rather a lot like her cousin Queen Elizabeth I.  In fact Lettice managed to get into rather a lot of trouble with her cousin after the first earl of Essex’s death when she secretly married Elizabeth’s long time squeeze, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

2nd earl of essex.jpgThe second Earl of Essex was Robert Devereux.  He was Walter and Lettice’s fifth child and after Robert Dudley’s death became a favourite with the aging Elizabeth I.  Like his father he was associated with Ireland.  His campaign was not a rip-roaring success from Elizabeth’s point of view.  Handsome but petulant the earl rebelled in 1600 having already sailed pretty close to the wind when he returned from Ireland and burst in on Elizabeth having been expressly forbidden from crossing the Irish Sea and winning no friends when he saw the queen without all her finery.  He was executed for treason on 25th February 1601 – leaving a young son, also called Robert, who would eventually become the third earl.