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Thomas BECKINTON was born at Beckinton in this county; bred in New College,* doctor in the laws, and dean of the Arches, till by king Henry the Sixth he was advanced bishop of Bath and Wells.

1. A good Statesman; having written a judicious book to prove [the right of] the kings of England to the crown of France, notwithstanding the pretended Salique law.

2. A good Churchman in the then notion of the word); professing in his will that he had spent six thousand marks in the repairing and adorning of his palaces.

3. A good Townsman; besides a legacy given to the town where he was born, he built at Wells, where he lived, a fair conduit in the market-place.

4. A good Subject ; always loyal to king Henry the Sixth even in the lowest condition.

5. A good Kinsman ; plentifully providing for his alliance with leases, without the least prejudice to the church.

6. A good Master ; bequeathing five pounds a-piece to his chief, five marks a-piece to his meaner servants, and forty shillings a-piece to his boys.

7. A good Man; he gave for his rebus (in allusion to his name) a burning Beacon, to which he answered in his nature, being "a burning and shining light :” witness his many benefactions to Wells church, and the vicars therein ; Winchester, New Merton, but chiefly Lincoln College, in Oxford, being little less than a second founder thereof.t

A Beacon (we know) is so called from beckoning ; that is, making signs, or giving notice to the next beacon. This bright Beacon doth nod, and give hints of bounty to future ages; but, it is to be feared, it will be long before his signs will be observed, understood, imitated. Nor was it the least part of his prudence, that (being obnoxious to king Edward the Fourth) in his life-time he procured the confirmation of his will under the broad seal of England, and died January the 14th, 1464.

RICHARD Fitz-James, doctor at law, was born at Redlinch in this county, of right ancient and worshipful extraction; bred at Merton College in Oxford, whereof he became warden ; much meriting of that place, wherein he built most beautiful lodgings, expending also much on the repair of St. Mary's in Oxford. He was preferred bishop, first of Rochester, next of Chichester, last of London.

He was esteemed an excellent scholar, and wrote some books, I which, if they ever appeared in public, never descended to posterity. He cannot be excused for being over busy with fire and faggot in persecuting the poor servants of God in his

• New College Register, in anno 1408. + Extracted and contracted out of Bishop Godwin's Bishops of Bath and Wells.

Pits, in Appendice.

diocese. He deceased anno 1512; lieth buried in his cathedral (having contributed much to the adorning thereof) in a chapellike tomb, built (it seems) of timber,* which was burnt down when the steeple of St. Paul's was set on fire, anno 1561. This bishop was brother to judge Fitz-James, lord chief justice, who, with their mutual support, much strengthened one another in church and state.

To the Reader. I cannot recover any native of this county who was a bishop since the Reformation, save only John Hooper, of whom formerly in the catalogue of Martyrs.

STATESMEN. Sir Amias POULETT, son to Sir Hugh, grandchild to Sir Amias Poulett (who put cardinal Wolsey, then but a schoolmaster, in the stocks,t) was born at Hinton Saint George, in this county. He was chancellor of the Garter, governor of the Isles of Jersey and Guernsey, and privy councillor to queen Elizabeth, who chiefly committed the keeping of Mary queen of Scots to his fidelity, who faithfully discharged his trust therein.

I know the Romanists rail on him, as over-strict in his charge ; but indeed without cause, for he is no unjust steward who to those under him alloweth all his master's allowance, though the same be but of the scantiest proportion. Besides, it is no news for prisoners (especially if accounting their restraint unjust) to find fault with their keepers merely for keeping them. And such who complain of him, if in his place, ought to have done the same themselves.

When secretary Walsingham moved this knight to suffer one of his servants to be bribed by the agents of the queen of Scots, so to compass the better intelligence, he would in no terms yield thereunto. Such conniving at, was consenting to; and such consenting to, in effect, was commanding of such falsehood. Whereupon the secretary was fain to go further about, and make use of an instrument at a greater distance, who was no menial servant to Sir Amias.

He died anno Domini 15..; and was buried in London, in St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, where his epitaph is all in allusion to the three swords in his arms, and three words in his motto, “ Gardez la Foy,” (Keep the Faith.) Which harping on that one string of his fidelity (though perchance harsh music to the ears of others) was harmonious to

queen

Elizabeth,

CAPITAL JUDGES. John Fitz-James, Knight, was born at Redlinch in this county, of right ancient and worthy parentage; bred in the study of our municipal laws, wherein he proved so great a pro

Bishop Godwin's words are, è materie. † Godwin, in the Life of king Henry the Eighth.

ficient, that, by king Henry the Eighth, he was advanced chief justice of the King's Bench. There needs no more be said of his merit, save that king Henry the Eighth preferred him, who never used either dunce or drone in chureh or state, but men of ability and activity. He sat above thirteen years in his place, demeaning himself so that he lived and died in the king's favour.

He sat one of the assistants when Sir Thomas More was arraigned for refusing the oath of supremacy, and was shrewdly put to it to save his own conscience, and not incur the king's displeasure : for chancellor Audley, supreme judge in that place (being loath that the whole burthen of More's condemnation should lie on his shoulders alone), openly in court asked the advice of the lord chief justice Fitz-James, “whether the indictment were sufficient or no?" To whom our judge warily returned :--“My lords all, by St. Gillian,” which was ever his oath, " I must needs confess, that, if the Act of Parliament be not unlawful, then the indictment is not in my conscience insufficient."*

He died in the thirtieth year of king Henry the Eighth; and although now there be none left at Redlinch of his name and family, they flourish still at Lewson in Dorsetshire, descended from Alured Fitz-James (brother to this judge, and to Richard bishop of London), whose heir in a direct line, Sir John FitzJames, knight, I must acknowledge a strong encourager of my weak endeavours.

John Portman, Knight, was born of wealthy and worshipful extraction at Portman's Orchard in this county; a fair manor, which descended to him by inheritance; the heir of the Orchards being matched into his family. He was bred in the study of the common law, attaining to such eminency therein, that, June 11, the second of queen Mary, he was made chief justice of the King's Bench, continuing two years in the place, and dying therein for ought I find to the contrary; and a baronett of his name and lineage flourisheth at this day with a great and plentiful estate.

DAVID BROOKE, Knight, born at Glastonbury, son to John Brook, esquire, whó (as I read in Clarencieuxt) was serjeant at law to king Henry the Eighth. Our David was also bred in the study of our laws; and, in the first of queen Mary, was made chief baron of the Exchequer ; but whether dying in, or quitting the place, in the first of queen Elizabeth, I am not informed.

He married Katharine daughter of John Lord Shandois ; but died without issue.

Mr. More, in the printed Life of his Grandfather Sir Thomas More, p. 334. The baronetcy is extinct.-Ed. : In the original of his last visitation of Somersetshire.

VOL. III.

H

JAMES DYER, Knight, younger son to Richard Dyer, Esquire, was born at Roundhill in this county, as may appear to any by the heralds' visitation thereof, and doth also to me by particular information from his relations.

He was bred in the study of our municipal law; and was made lord chief justice of the Common Pleas, primo Eliz., continuing therein twenty-four years,* longer (if my eye or arithmetic fail me not) than any in that place before or after him. When Thomas duke of Norfolk was, anno 1572, arraigned for treason, this judge was present thereat, on the same token, that, when the duke desired counsel to be assigned him, pleading “ that it was granted to Humphry Stafford, in the reign of king Henry the Seventh ;” our judge returned unto him, “ that Stafford had it allowed him only as to point of law, then in dispute,t viz. whether he was legally taken out of the sanctuary; but as for matter of fact, neither he nor any ever had, or could have, any counsel allowed him ;” a course observed in such cases unto this day.

But let “his own works praise him in the gates," I is known for the place of public justice amongst the Jews. Let his learned writings, called his “Commentaries,” or “ Reports,” evidence his abilities in his profession.

He died in 25 Eliz. (though married) without any issue ; and there is a house of a baronet of his name (descended from an elder son of Richard, father to our judge) at Great Stoughton in Huntingdonshire, well improved, I believe, with the addition of the judge's estate.

Sir John Popham, of most ancient descent, was born at Huntworth in this county. In his youthful days he was as stout and skilful a man at sword and buckler, as any in that age, and wild enough in his recreations. But oh! if quicksilver could be really fixed, to what a treasure would it amount ! Such is wild youth seriously reduced to gravity, as by this young man did appear. He applied himself to a more profitable fencing, the study of the laws, therein attaining to such eminency, that he became the queen's attorney, and afterwards lord chief justice of England.

Being sent, anno 1600, by the queen, with some others, to the earl of Essex, to know the cause of the confluence of so many military men unto his house, the soldiers therein detained him for a time, which some did make tantamount to an imprisonment. This his violent detention Sir John deposed upon his oath at the earl's trial,|| which I note the rather for the rarity thereof, that a lord chief justice should be produced as witness in open court.

* Sir Henry Spelman's Glossary. † Camden's Elizabeth, anno 1570. | Proverbs xxxi, 31. § So it appears to me, on my best examination. Il Camden's Elizabeth, anno 1600.

In the beginning of the reign of king James, his justice was exemplary on thieves and robbers. The land then swarmed with people which had been soldiers, who had never gotten (or else quite forgotten) any other vocation. Hard it was for

peace to feed all the idle mouths which a former war did breed ; being too proud to beg, too lazy to labour. Those infected the highways with their felonies; some presuming on their multitudes, as the robbers on the northern road, whose knot (otherwise not to be untied) Sir John cut asunder with the sword of Justice.

He possessed king James how the frequent granting of pardons was prejudicial to justice, rendering the judges to the contempt of insolent malefactors; which made his majesty more sparing afterward in that kind. In a word, the deserved death of some scores preserved the lives and livelihoods of more thousands; travellers owing their safety to this judge's severity many years after his death, which happened anno Domini 16 ..

He was

SOLDIERS. John COURCY, baron of Stoke-Courcy in this county, was the first Englishman who invaded and subdued Ulster in Ireland; therefore deservedly created earl thereof.* afterward surprised by Hugh Lacy (co-rival for his title), sent over into England, and imprisoned by king John in the Tower of London.

A French castle, being in controversy, was to have the title thereof tried by combat, the kings of England and France beholding it. Courcy being a lean lank body, with staring eyes (prisoners, with the wildness of their looks, revenge the closeness of their bodies) is sent for out of the Tower, to undertake the Frenchman; and, because enfeebled with long durance, a large bill of fare was allowed him, to recruit his strength. The Monsieur, hearing how much he had eat and drunk, and guessing his courage by his stomach, or rather stomach by his appetite, took him for a cannibal, who would devour him at the last course ; and so he declined the combat.

Afterwards the two kings, desirous to see some proof of Courcy's strength, caused a steel helmet to be laid on a block before him. Courcy, looking about him with a grim countenance (as if he intended to cut with his eyes as well as with his arms), sundered the helmet at one blow into two pieces, striking the sword so deep into the wood, that none but himself could pull it out again.

Being demanded the cause why he looked so sternly, “ Had I,” said he, "failed of my design, I would have killed the kings and all in the place;" words well spoken because well taken, all persons present being then highly in good humour. Hence it is, that the lord Courcy, baron of Kingrone, second baron in

* The effect of what follows is taken out of the Irish Annals, at the end of Camden's Britannia._F.

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