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anno 1500.* He was second son unto sir Richard Pole, knight of the Garter, and frater consobrinust (a relation which I cannot make out in reference to him) to Henry the Seventh. His mother Margaret countess of Salisbury was niece to king Edward the Fourth, and daughter to George duke of Clarence.
This Reginald was bred in Corpus Christi College in Oxford; preferred afterward dean of Exeter. King Henry the Eighth highly favoured and sent him beyond the seas, allowing him a large pension, to live in an equipage suitable to his birth and alliance. He studied at Padua, conversing there so much with the Patricians of Venice, that at last he degenerated into a perfect Italian; so that neither love to his country, nor gratitude to the king, nor sharp letters of his friends, nor fear to lose his present, nor hopes to get future preferments, could persuade him to return into England, but that his pensions were withdrawn from him.
This made him apply his studies the more privately in a Venetian monastery, where he attained great credit, for his eloquence, learning, and good life. Such esteem foreign grandees had of his great judgment, that cardinal Sadolet, having written a large book in the praise of philosophy, submitted it wholly to his censure. Pole as highly commended the work, as he much admired that a cardinal of the church of Rome would conclude his old age with writing on such a subject,‡ applying unto him the verses of Virgil,
Est in conspectu Tenedos notissima famâ
Insula, dives opum, Priami dum regna manebant,
"From Troy may the isle of Tenedos be spied,
These far-fetched lines he thus brought home to the cardinal, that though philosophy had been in high esteem whilst paganism was in the prime thereof, yet was it but a bad harbour for an aged Christian to cast his anchor therein.
It was not long before he was made deacon-cardinal, by the title of St. Mary in Cosmedin, by Pope Paul the Third, who sent him on many fruitless and dangerous embassies to the emperor and the French king, to incite them to war against king Henry the Eighth. Afterwards he retired himself to Viterbo in Italy, where his house was observed the sanctuary of Lutherans, and he himself became a racking, but no thorough-paced Protestant; insomuch that, being appointed one of three presidents of the council of Trent, he endeavoured (but in vain) to have justification determined by faith alone.
During his living at Viterbo, he carried not himself so cautiously, but that he was taxed for begetting a base child, which
* Camden's Britannia, in English, in Staffordshire.
Idem, p. 345.
Pasquil* published in Latin and Italian verses, affixed in the season of liberty on his lawless pillar.
This Pasquil is an author eminent on many accounts. First, for his self-concealment, being "noscens omnia, et notus nemini." Secondly, for his intelligence, who can display the deeds of midnight at high noon, as if he hid himself in the holes of their bed-staves, knowing who were cardinals' children better than they knew their fathers. Thirdly, for his impartial boldness. He was made all of tongue and teeth, biting whatever he touched, and it bled whatever he bit; yea, as if a General Council and Pasquil were only above the Pope, he would not stick to tell where he trod his holy sandals awry. Fourthly, for his longevity, having lived (or rather lasted) in Rome some hundreds of years; whereby he appears no particular person, but a successive corporation of satirists. Lastly, for his impunity, escaping the Inquisition; whereof some assign this reason, because hereby the court of Rome comes to know her faults, or rather to know that their faults are known; which makes Pasquil's converts (if not more honest) more wary in their behaviour.
This defamation made not such an impression on Pole's credit, but that, after the death of Paul the Third, he was at midnight, in the conclave, chosen to succeed him. Pole refused it, because he would not have his choice a deed of darkness, appearing therein not perfectly Italianated, in not taking preferment when tendered; and the cardinals beheld his refusal as a deed of dulness. Next day, expecting a re-election, he found new morning new minds; and, Pole being reprobated, Julius the Third, his professed enemy, was chosen in his place.
Yet afterwards he became "alterius orbis Papa," when made archbishop of Canterbury by queen Mary. He was a person free from passion, whom none could anger out of his ordinary temper. His youthful books were full of the flowers of rhetoric; whilst the withered stalks are only found in the writings of his old age, so dry their style, and dull their conceit. He died a few hours after queen Mary, November the 17th, anno 1558.
EDMUND STAFFORD was brother to Ralph first earl of Stafford, and consequentially must be son to Edmund baron Stafford.+ His nativity is rationally with most probability placed in this county, wherein his father (though landed every where) had his prime seat, and largest revenues.
He was by king Richard the Second preferred bishop of Exeter; and under king Henry the Fourth, for a time, was chancellor of England. I meet with an author who doth make him bishop first of Rochester, then of Exeter, and lastly of York.‡
* Antiquit. Brit. in Vità Poli, p. 348.
+ Bishop Godwin, in the Bishops of Exeter.
Mr. Philpot, in his Catalogue of Lord Chancellors, p. 53.
But of the first and last altum silentium in bishop Godwin, whom I rather believe. He was a benefactor to Stapleton's-Inn in Oxford, on a three-fold account, viz.
1. Of Credit; first calling it Exeter College, whereby he put an obligation on the bishop of that see, favourably to reflect thereon.
2. Of Profit; adding two fellowships unto it, and settling lands to maintain them.
3. Of Safety; which consisteth in good statutes, which here he wisely altered and amended.
He sat in his see twenty-four years; and, dying 1419, was buried under an alabaster tomb in his own cathedral.
WILLIAM DUDLEY, son of John Dudley, the eighth baron Dudley, of Dudley castle in this county, was by his parents designed for a scholar, and bred in University College in Oxford, whence he was preferred to be dean of Windsor, and afterwards was for six years bishop of Durham.* He died anno 1483, at London, and lies buried in Westminster on the south side of St. Nicholas Chapel.
EDMUND AUDLEY, son to the lord Audley of Heyley in this county, whose surname was Touchet. I am informed by my worthy friend, that skilful antiquary Mr. Thomas Barlow of Oxford, that this Edmund in one and the same instrument writeth himself both Audley and Touchet. He was bred in the university of Oxford; and, in process of time, he built the choir of Saint Mary's therein anew on his own charge, adorning it organis hydraulicis, which, I think, imports no more than a musical organ.
He was preferred bishop, first of Rochester, then of Hereford, and at last of Salisbury. He died at Ramsbury, August 23, 1624; and is buried in his own cathedral, on the south side of the altar, in a chapel of excellent artifice of his own erection.
Not meeting with any bishops born in this county SINCE THE REFORMATION, let us proceed.
Sir THOMAS LITTLETON, Knight.-Reader I have seriously and often perused his life, as written by Sir Edward Coke; yet, not being satisfied of the certainty of his nativity, am resolved to divide his character betwixt this county and Worcestershire. He was son to Thomas Westcote, esq. and Elizabeth Littleton his wife; whose mother being daughter and heir of Thomas Littleton, esq. and bringing to her husband a great inheritance, indented with him before marriage, that
Godwin, in the Bishops of Durham.
† Bishop Godwin, in the Bishops of Sarum.
her virgin surname should be assumed and continued in his posterity.*
He was bred student of the laws in the Inward Temple; and became afterwards serjeant and steward of the court of the Marshalsea of the king's household to Henry the Sixth. By king Edward the Fourth, in the sixth of his reign, he was made one of the judges of the Common Pleas; and in the fifteenth of his reign by him created Knight of the Bath.
He is said by our learned antiquary† to have deserved as well of our Common as Justinian of the Civil law; whose "Book of Tenures" (dedicated by him to Richard his second son, who also studied the laws) is counted oraculous in that kind, which since hath been commented on by the learned endeavours of Sir Edward Coke.
He married Joan, one of the daughters and co-heirs of William Boerley, of Bromscraft castle in Salop, by whom he had three sons, founders of three fair families still flourishing:
1. William, fixed at Frankley, in this county, where his posterity is eminently extant.
2. Richard, whose issue, by Alice daughter and heir of William Winsbury, remain at Pillerton Hall in Shropshire.
3. Thomas, who, by Anne, daughter and heir of John Botreaux, hath his lineage still continuing in Worcestershire.
This reverend judge died the 23rd of August, in the one and twentieth of king Edward the fourth; and lieth buried under a very fa monument in the cathedral of Worcester.
EDMUND DUDLEY, Esq. was son to John Dudley, Esq. second son to John Sutton, first baron of Dudley, as a learned antiquary hath beheld his pedigree derived. But his descent is controverted by many, condemned by some, who have raised a report, that John, father to this Edmund, was but a carpenter, born in Dudley town (and therefore called John Dudley), who, travelling southward to find work for his trade, lived at Lewes in Sussex, where they will have this Edmund born, and for the pregnancy of his parts brought up by the abbot of Lewes in learning. But probably some who afterwards were pinched in their purses by this Edmund, did in revenge give him this bite in his reputation, inventing this tale to his disparagement. I must believe him of noble extraction, because qualified to marry the daughter and heir of the viscount of Lisle, and that before this Edmund grew so great with king Henry the Seventh, as by the age of John his son (afterwards duke of Northumberland) may probably be collected.
He was bred in the study of the laws, wherein he profited so well, that he was made one of the puisne judges, and wrote an
Sampson Erdeswicke, MS.
* Lord Coke, in his Preface to Littleton's Tenures. † Camden's Britannia, in Staffordshire.
excellent book, compounded of law and policy (which hitherto I have not seen), intituled "The Tree of the Commonwealth."*
But what saith Columella? "Agricolam arbor ad fructum perducta delectat," (a husbandman is delighted with the tree of his own planting when brought to bear fruit.') Judge Dudley knew well how to turn a land into the greatest profit of his prince, which made him employed by king Henry the Seventh to put his penal statutes in execution; which he did, with severity, cruelty, and extortion; so that, with Sir Richard Empson, viis et modis (vitiis et modis rather) they advanced a mighty mass of money to the king, and no mean one to themselves.
King Henry the Eighth coming to his crown, could not pass in his progress for complaints of people in all places, against these two wicked instruments, who, with the two "daughters of the horse leech,"+ were always crying, Give, give; and therefore he resolved to discharge their protection, and to resign them to justice; so that they were made a peace-offering to popular anger 1510, and were executed at Tower-hill.
Sir THOMAS BROMLEY, Knight.- Reader, I request thee that this short note may keep possession for his name and memory, until he may be fixed elsewhere with more assurance. He was, in the first of queen Mary, October 8, made lord chief justice of the King's Bench, holding his place hardly a year; but, whether quitting his office, or dying therein, is to me unknown.‡
JOHN BROMLEY, Esq., branched from the Bromleys in Shropshire, but born and living in this county at Bromley, followed the fortunate arms of king Henry the Fifth in France.§
It happened that, in a battle near Corby, the French (according to their fashion, furious at first) fell so fiercely on the English, that they got away the king's standard of Guienne, to the great dismay of our army. But Bromley's heart had no room for fear or grief, anger had so wholly possessed it: insomuch that valiantly he recovered the captive standard, and by his exemplary prowess largely contributed to that day's victory. Hereupon Hugh Stafford lord Bourchier conferred on him a yearly pension of forty pounds during his life.|| Afterwards, in the sixth of king Henry the Fifth, anno 1418, he was not only knighted by the king for his venturous activity, but also made captain of Dampfront, and great constable of Bossivile le Ross in France; yea, and rewarded by the king with forty pounds in land a year to him and his heirs, the patent whereof is extant in the Tower, and exemplified in my author. He
J. Bale, and J. Stow. † Proverbs, xxx. 15.
S Holinshed, page 551.