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"If one by shedding blood for bliss may hope,
Under queen Elizabeth he was deprived and secured in his castle; I mean, the Marshalsea in Southwark; for, as that prison kept him from doing hurt to others, it kept others from doing hurt to him; being so universally odious he had been stoned in the streets if at liberty. One great good he did, though not intentionally, accidentally, to the Protestant bishops of England: for, lying in the Marshalsea, and refusing to take the oath of supremacy tendered to him by Horn, then bishop of Winchester, he pleaded for himself, that Horn was no lawful bishop, which occasioned the ensuing parliament to confirm him and the rest of his order to all purposes and intents.
After ten years' soft durance in all plenty (his face would be deposed for his whole body that he was not famished), enjoying a great temporal estate left him by his father, he died 1569; and was buried, saith Bishop Godwin, in Barking church-yard, amongst the thieves and murderers,* being surely a mistake in the printer; Allhallows Barking being on the other side of the Thames, nothing relating to the Marshalsea. And I have been credibly informed, that he was buried in the church-yard of St. George's in Southwark. But, so long as Bonner is dead, let him choose his own grave where he will be buried. But enough if not much, of this Herostratus, who burnt so many living temples of the Holy Ghost, and who, had he not been remembered by other writers, had found no place in my history.
SINCE THE REFORMATION.
JOHN WATSON was born at Bengeworth in this county, where some of his name and relations remain at this day; bred (I believe) in Oxford, and afterwards became prebendary, then dean of Winchester.† Hence he was advanced bishop of that see; and the ensuing passage (which I expect will meet with many infidels, though to me credibly attested) will acquaint us with the occasion thereof, and suspecting the bishopric of Winchester when vacant would be offered unto him.
Dean Watson, aged sixty years, and desirous to lead a private life; in the sickness of Bishop Horn, privately promised the earl of Leicester (in that age the Dominus fac multum, if not totum, in the disposal of church dignities) two hundred pounds, that he might not be made bishop of Winchester, but remain in his present condition.
The bishopric falling void, and the queen expressing her intention to confer it on Watson, the foresaid earl requested the
Bishop Godwin's Catalogue of the Bishops of London.
So was I informed by Mr. Venners, the minister of St. Mary's in Warwick, whose father was nephew and steward to this Bishop.-F.
contrary; acquainting the queen with the passage betwixt them, "how otherwise it would be two hundred pounds out of his way."
"Nay then," said the queen, "Watson shall have it, he being more worthy thereof who will give two hundred to decline, than he who will give two thousand pounds to attain it."
I confess, such who have read so much of the corruption of the earl of Leicester, and heard so little of the integrity of Watson, will hardly credit this story; which I am ready to believe, and the rather, because of this his epitaph, written on his marble monument in the church of Saint Mary Overies:
"D. Johannes Watson, Ecclesia Winton, Prebendarius, Decanus, ac deinde Episcopus, prudentissimus pater, vir optimus, præcipuè erga inopes misericors, obiit in Domino Januarii 23, anno ætatis 63, Episcopatus quarto,
Nothing else have I to observe, save that there were three Watsons, bishops in the reign of queen Elizabeth: Thomas of Lincoln, our John of Winchester, and Anthony of Chichester, though I believe little allied together.
Sir THOMAS COVENTRY, Knight, was born at Croone in this county, eldest son to Sir Thomas Coventry, knight, one of the justices of the Common Pleas. He was bred in the Inner Temple a student in the laws; and in the year 1618 was treasurer of the said Temple, and attorney-general to king James. He was afterwards made lord keeper of the great seal of England, the first day of November, in the first year of king Charles.
He was by the same king created, in the fourth of his reign, April 10, Baron Coventry of Aylesborough in this county.
An ingenious gentleman in his history* giveth him this character, in relation to his keepership, "that he enjoyed that dignity fifteen years, if it was not more proper to say, that dignity enjoyed him: this latter age affording none better qualified for the place." Adding," that he knew enough, and acted conformable to his knowledge; so that captious malice stands mute to blemish his fame." To which we will only add some few operative words taken out of his patent when he was created baron:
"Nos igitur in personâ prædilecti et perquam fidelis consiliarii nostri Thomæ Coventry, Militis, custodis magni sigilli nostri Angliæ, gratissima et dignissima servitia, quæ idem consiliarius noster tam præcharissimo Patri nostro Jacobo Regi beatæ memoriæ per multos annos, quàm nobis ab ipsis Regni nostri primis auspiciis fidelissimè et prudentissimè præstitit et impendit, indiesque impendere non desistit; necnon circumspectionem, prudentiam, strenuitatem, dexteritatem, integritatem, industriam, erga nos et nostram coronam, animo benigno et re
H. L. Esq. p. 171,
gali intimè recolentes constantiam et fidelitatem ipsius Thomæ Coventry, Militis, &c. In cujus rei, &c. T. R. apud Westm. decimo die Aprilis, anno regni Regis Caroli."*
He died about the beginning of January 1639, before our civil distempers began, so that it is hard to say whether his honourable life or seasonable death was the greater favour which God bestowed upon him.
I must not forget, that it hath been observed, that never lord keeper made fewer orders which afterwards were reversed, than this Lord Coventry, which some ascribe to his discretion, grounding most of his orders on the consent and compromise of the parties themselves interested therein, whose hands, so tied up by their own act, were the more willing to be quiet for the future.
WRITERS ON THE LAW.
Sir THOMAS LITTLETON, Knight.-Reader, the nimiety of my cautiousness (loath to prejudice the seeming right of any) made me to bestow part of his character on Staffordshire, who since am convinced that he wholly and solely belongeth to this shire, as born at Frankley therein; and I request the reader to rectify some mistakes I formerly wrote by that which followeth. He was a man remarkable in many respects.
First, for his extraction. He was son to Thomas Wescot, Esquire, and Elizabeth Littleton his wife, who, being a double inheritrix, by her father to the Litletons, mother to the Quatremains, indented with her husband that her heritable issue should assume her surname. Say not her husband might say, Accepi dotem, cognomen perdidi;" seeing it was done before his marriage by his free consent. Besides, we find even in Scripture itself, Joab being constantly named the son of his mother Zeruiah.†
Secondly, for his happiness: that two great kings had a great sympathy to him, who had an antipathy each to other; Henry the Sixth, whose serjeant he was, and rod judge of the northern circuit; and Edward the Fourth, who made him a judge, and in his reign he rode the Northamptonshire circuit.
Thirdly, for his exquisite skill in the laws; witness his book of "Tenures," which, though writ about two hundred years since, yet at this day retaineth an authentical reputation. Insomuch that when in the reign of king James, it came in question upon a demurrer in law," Whether the release to one trespasser should be available or no to his companion?" Sir Henry Hubbard, and judges Warburton, Winch, and Nicolls, his companions, gave judgment according to the opinion of our Littleton; and openly said, that "They would not have HIS CASE disputed or questioned."
* In Staffordshire.
† 2 Sam. ii. 13.
Lastly, for his happy posterity; having left three families signally fixed and flourishing, in this and the neighbouring counties of Stafford and Salop. And one saith very truly, that these quarter the arms of many matches after the best manner of quartering them (other are scarce half-half-quartering them*); viz. they possess at this day good land on the same account.
Indeed the lord Coke observeth, that our lawyers seldom die either without wills or heirs. For the first, I believe it; for our common lawyers will not have their estates come under the arbitrary disposal of a civilian judge of the Prerogative, and therefore wisely prevent it. For the second, the observation as qualified with seldom may pass; otherwise our grandfathers can remember Sir James Dyer, lord chief justice, and Periam, lord chief baron, both dying without issue. His book of "Tenures" hath since been commented on by Sir Edward Coke's most judicious pen.
"Dic mihi, num textus vel commentatio prestat ?
He died in the 21st year of king Edward the Fourth; and lieth buried in the cathedral of Worcester, having formerly constituted doctor Alcock (his faithful friend, and then bishop of Worcester) supervisor of his will, who saw it performed to all critical particulars.
RICHARD BEAUCHAMP, earl of Warwick, was born at the manor house of Salwape in this county, January the 28th, 1831.† King Richard the Second, and Richard Scroope then bishop of Coventry (afterwards archbishop of York) were his godfathers.
A person so redoubted for martial achievements, that the poetical fictions of Hercules' labours found in him a real performance.
1. Being hardly twenty-two years old, in the fifth of king Henry the Fourth, at the queen's coronation, he justed, and challenged all comers.
2. He bid battle to Owen Glendour the Welch rebel; put him to flight, and took his banner with his own hands.
3. He fought a pitched field against the two Percies at Shrewsbury, and overcame them.
4. In his passage to the Holy Land (whither he went on pilgrimage) he was challenged at Verona, by an Italian, Sir Pandulph Malacet, to fight with him at three weapons; viz. with axes, arming swords, and sharp daggers; whom he had slain at the second weapon, had not some seasonably interceded.
5. Fighting at justs in France with Sir Collard Fines, at every stroke he bare him backward to his horse; and when the
Lord Coke, in his Preface to Littleton's Tenures. † Idem, ibidem. Mr. William Dugdale, in his Survey of Warwickshire, in the Earls of Warwick.-F.
French suspected that he was tied to his saddle, to confute their jealousies, our earl lighted, and presently remounted.
6. He was eminently active in the king's victorious battles in France, and might truly say, "Quorum pars magna fui.”
7. He was one of those whom king Henry the Fifth sent to the council of Constance, whose whole retinue amounted unto eight hundred horse.
8. Here he killed a Dutch duke who challenged him, Sigismond the emperor and his empress beholding it.
9. The empress, affected with his valour, took the badge from one of the earl's men (being a plain bear of silver), and wore it on her shoulder. But the next day our earl presented her with a bear (which was his crest) made of pearls and precious stones. 10. Being sent by king Henry the Fifth, with a thousand men in arms, to fetch queen Catherine, sole daughter to the king of France, he fought with the earls of Vendosm and Linosin, killed one of them with his own hand, routed the forces of five thousand men, and brought the lady whom he saw safely married to the king.
11. He was, by the said king's will, appointed governor to his son in his minority, and made lieutenant of all France.
12. During his life our success in France was progressive, and retrograde after his death.
It must not be forgotten, how Sigismond the emperor, coming into England, told king Henry the Fifth, that no Christian king had such another knight, for wisdom, nature, and manhood. He obtained leave of the king (because in his dominions) that he might by imperial authority fix a title of honour upon him; and caused him to be named the Father of Courtesy, as indeed true courage and courtesy are individual companions.
The last time he went over into Normandy, he was tossed with a hideous tempest; so that, despairing of life, he caused himself to be bound (for who could bind him against his will?) with his lady and infant son, to the main mast, on this design, that, having his armour and coat of arms upon him, he might thereby be known, that such who should light on his corpse, if either noble or charitable, might afford him a Christian burial.
Yet he, escaping the tempest, and landing safely in France, died in his bed, (no usual repose for so restless and active a spirit) at Rouen, of a lingering disease, April 30, 1439; and lieth buried in a most stately tomb, in a chapel of the collegiate church of Warwick, where his epitaph graven in brass is pointed with bears, serving for commas, colons, periods, and all distinctions thereof. His deeds of charity † (according to the devotion of those days) were little inferior to the achievements of his valour.
* Mr. William Dugdale, in his Survey of Warwick, in the Earls of Warwick, where the preceding particulars are proved out of authentic records.-F.