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notabilia" in several dioceses, commendams, etc.


Touching the examination of Sir Robert Cotton
upon some information of Sir John Digby.*

may be again propoun- | majesty's service, as is fit. Howbeit, for so much
ed upon a conference as did concern the practice of conveying the
of the judges.
prince into Spain, or the Spanish pensions, he
was somewhat reserved upon this ground, that
they were things his majesty knew, and things,
which by some former commandment from his
majesty he was restrained to keep in silence, and
that he conceived they could be no ways applied
to Somerset. Wherefore it was not fit to press
him beyond that, which he conceived to be his
warrant, before we had known his majesty's
farther pleasure; which I pray you return unto
us with all convenient speed. I for my part am
in no appetite for secrets; but, nevertheless, see-
ing his majesty's great trust towards me, wherein I
shall never deceive him; and that I find the
chancellor of the same opinion, I do think it were
good my lord chancellor chiefly and myself were
made acquainted with the persons and the parti-
culars; not only because it may import his ma-
jesty's service otherwise, but also because to my
understanding, for therein I do not much rely
upon Sir John Digby's judgment, it may have a
great connection with the examination of Somer-
set, considering his mercenary nature, his great
undertaking for Spain in the match, and his
favour with his majesty; and therefore the circum-
stances of other pensions given cannot but tend
to discover whether he were pensioner or no.

I RECEIVED your letter yesterday towards the evening, being the 8th of this present, together with the interrogatory included, which his majesty hath framed, not only with a great deal of judgment what to interrogate, but in a wise and apt order; for I do find that the degrees of questions are of great efficacy in examination. I received also notice and direction by your letter, that Sir Robert Cotton was first thoroughly to be examined; which indeed was a thing most necessary to begin with; and that for that purpose Sir John Digby was to inform my lord chancellor of such points, as he conceived to be material; and that I likewise should take a full account for my lord chief justice of all Sir Robert Cotton's precedent examinations. It was my part then to take care, that that, which his majesty had so well directed and expressed, should be accordingly performed without loss of time. For which purpose, having soon after the receipt of your letter received a letter from my lord chancellor, that he appointed Sir John Digby to be with him at two of the clock in the afternoon, as this day, and required my presence, I spent the mean time, being this forenoon, in receiving the precedent examinations of Sir Robert Cotton from my lord chief justice, and perusing of them; and accordingly attended my lord chancellor at the hour appointed, where I found Sir John Digby.

At this meeting it was the endeavour of my lord chancellor and myself to take such light from Sir John Digby, as might evidence first the examination of Sir Robert Cotton; and then to the many examinations of Somerset; wherein we

found Sir John Digby ready and willing to discover unto us what he knew; and he had also, by the lord chancellor's direction, prepared some heads of examination in writing for Sir Robert Cotton; of all which use shall be made for his

* Secretary Winwood, in a private letter to Sir Thomas Edmondes, printed in the Historical View of the Negotiations between the Courts of England, France, and Brussels, p. 392, mentions, that there was great expectation, that Sir John Digby, just then returned from Spain, where he had been ambassador, could charge the Earl of Somerset with some treasons and plots with Spain. "To the king," adds Sir Ralph, "as yet he hath used no other language, but that, having served in a

place of honour, it would ill become him to be an accuser.

Legally or criminally he can say nothing: yet this he says and hath written, that all his private despatches, wherein he most discovered the practices of Spain, and their intelligences,

were presently sent into Spain; which could not be but by the treachery of Somerset."

But herein no time is lost; for my lord chancellor, who is willing, even beyond his strength, to lose no moment for his majesty's service, hath appointed me to attend him Thursday morning for the examination of Sir Robert Cotton, leaving tomorrow for council-business to my lord, and to me for considering of fit articles for Sir Robert Cotton.

10 April, 1616.


It is the king's express pleasure, that because his majesty's time would not serve to have conference with your lordship and his judges touching his cause of commendams at his last being in town, in regard of his majesty's other most weighty occasions; and for that his majesty holdeth it necessary, upon the report, which my Lord of Winchester, who was present at the last argument by his majesty's royal commandment, made to his majesty, that his majesty be first consulted with, ere there be any further proceeding by argument by any of the judges or otherwise: Therefore, that the day appointed for the farther proceeding by argument of the judges in that case be put off till his majesty's farther pleasure be known upon consulting him; and to that end, that your lordship forthwith signify his commandment to the rest of the judges; whereof your

lordship may not fail. And so I leave your lord- and it may be he will be in the better temper, ship to God's goodness.

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WHETHER the axe is to be carried before the prisoner, being in the case of felony?

Whether, if the lady make any digression to clear his lordship, she is not by the lord steward to be interrupted and silenced?

Whether, if my Lord of Somerset should break forth into any speech of taxing the king, he be not presently by the lord steward to be interrupted and silenced; and, if he persist, he be not to be told, that if he take that course, he is to be withdrawn, and evidence to be given in his absence? And whether that may be; and what else to be done?

Whether, if there should be twelve votes to condemn, and twelve or thirteen to acquit, it be not a verdict for the king?

hoping of his own clearing, and of her respiting? What shall be the days; for Thursday and Friday can hardly hold in respect of the summons; and it may be as well Friday and Saturday, or Monday and Tuesday, as London makes it already?


Ir were good, that after he is come into the Hall, so that he may perceive he must go to trial, and shall be retired into the place appointed, till the court call for him, then the lieutenant should tell him roundly, that if in his speeches he shall tax the king,* that the justice of England is, that he shall be taken away, and the evidence shall go on without him; and then all the people will cry away with him;" and then it shall not be in the king's will to save his life, the people will be so set on fire.


Memorial touching the course to be had in my
Lord of Somerset's arraignment.





Ye will doe well to remember lyke

WHETHER, if Somerset confess at any time be-wayes in your præamble, that infore his trial, his majesty shall stay trial in respect signe, that the onof farther examination concerning practice of trea-ly zeal to justice son, as the death of the late prince, the conveying maketh me take into Spain of the now prince, or the like; for till this course. I have he confess the less crime, there is [no] likelihood commandit you of confessing the greater?

Whether, if the trial upon that reason shall be put off, it shall be discharged privately by dissolving the commission, or discharging the summons? Or, whether it shall not be done in open court, the peers being met, and the solemnity and celebrity preserved; and that with some declaration of the cause of putting off the farther proceeding?

Whether the days of her trial and his shall be immediate, as it is now appointed; or a day between, to see if, after condemnation, the lady will confess of this lord; which done, there is no doubt but he will confess of himself?

Whether his trial shall not be set first, and hers after, because then any conceit, which may be wrought by her clearing of him, may be prevented;

* See ante, page 321.

FIRST it is meant, that Somerset shall not be charged with any thing by way of ag

gravation, otherwise than as

conduceth to the proof of the impoisonment.

For the proofs themselves, they are distributed into four ::

* The king's apprehension of being taxed by the Earl of Somerset on his trial, though for what is not known, accounts

in some measure for his majesty's extreme uneasiness of mind till that trial was over, and for the management used by prevail upon the earl to submit to be tried, and to keep him in Sir Francis Bacon in particular, as appears from his letters, to temper during his trial, lest he, as the king expressed it in an apostile on Sir Francis's letter of the 28th of April, 1616, upon the one part commit unpardonable errors, and I on the other seem to punish him in the spirit of revenge. See more on this subject in Mr. Mallet's Life of the Lord Chancellor Bacon, who closes his remarks with a reference to a letter of Somerset to the king, printed in the Cabala, and written in a high style of expostulation, and showing, through the affected obscurity of some expressions, that there was an important secret in his keeping, of which his majesty dreaded a discovery. The earl and his lady were released from their confinement in the Tower in January, 1621-2, the latter dying August 23, 1632, leaving one daughter, Anne, then sixteen years of age, afterwards married to William, Lord Russel, afterwards earl, and

at last Duke of Bedford. The Earl of Somerset survived his

lady several years, and died in July, 1645, being interred on

the 17th of that month in the church of St. Paul's, Covent Garden.

not to expatiate, nor digresse upon any other points, that maye not serve clearlie for probation or inducement

of that point, quhairof he is accused.

The first to prove the ma- | carried himself insolently, both towards the queen, lice, which Somerset bore to and towards the late prince: that he was a man, Overbury, which was the mo- that carried Somerset on in courses separate and tive and ground of the im- opposite to the privy council: that he was a man poisonment. of nature fit to be an incendiary of a state: full of bitterness and wildness of speech and project: that he was thought also lately to govern Somerset, insomuch that in his own letters he vaunted, "that from him proceeded Somerset's fortune, credit, and understanding."

The second is to prove the preparations unto preparations unto the impoisonment, by plotting his imprisonment, placing his keepers, stopping access of friends, etc.

This course I mean to run in a kind of geneThe third is the acts of the rality, putting the imputations rather upon Overimpoisonments themselves. bury than Somerset; and applying it, that such And the fourth is acts sub- a nature was like to hatch dangerous secrets and sequent, which do vehement-practices. I mean to show likewise what jargons ly argue him to be guilty of there were and ciphers between them, which are the impoisonment. great badges of secrets of estate, and used either by princes and their ministers of state, or by such as practise against princes. That your majesty was called Julius in respect of your empire; the queen Agrippina, though Somerset now saith it was Livia, and that my Lady of Suffolk was Agrippina; the Bishop of Canterbury Unctius; Northampton, Dominic; Suffolk, first Lerma, after Wolsey; and many others; so as it appears they made a play both of your court and kingdom; and that their imaginations wrought upon the greatest men and matters.

For the first two heads, upon conference, whereunto I called Serjeant Montagu and Serjeant Crew, I have taken them two heads to myself; the third I have allotted to Serjeant Montagu; and the fourth to Serjeant Crew.

In the first of these, to my understanding, is the only tenderness: for on the one side, it is most necessary to lay a foundation, that the malice was a deep malice, mixed with fear, and not only matter of revenge upon his lordship's quarrel; for "periculum periculo vincitur;" and the malice must have a proportion to the effect of it, which was the impoisonment: so that if this foundation be not laid, all the evidence is weakened.

On the other side, if I charge him, or would charge him, by way of aggravation, with matters tending to disloyalty or treason, then he is like to grow desperate.

Therefore I shall now set down perspicuously what course I mean to hold, that your majesty may be pleased to direct and correct it, preserving the strength of the evidence: and this I shall now do, but shortly and without ornament.

First, I shall read some passages of Overbury's letters, namely these: "Is this the fruit of nine years' love, common secrets, and common dangers?" In another letter: "Do not drive me to extremity to do that, which you and I shall be sorry for." In another letter: "Can you forget him, between whom such secrets of all kinds have passed?" etc.

Then will I produce Simcock, who deposeth from Weston's speech, that Somerset told Weston, that, "if ever Overbury came out of prison, one of them must die for it."

Neither will I omit Somerset's breach of trust to your majesty, in trusting Overbury with all the despatches, things, wherewith your council of estate itself was not many times privy or acquainted; and yet, this man must be admitted to them, not cursorily, or by glimpses, but to have them by him, to copy them, to register them, to table them, etc. Apostyle of the king.

This evidence
cannot be given in
without making
me his accuser,
and that upon
a very slight
ground. As for
all the subsequent
evidences, they are

all so little evident,
as una litura may
serve thaime all.

Then I will say what these secrets were. I mean not to enter into particulars, nor to charge him with disloyalty, because he stands to be tried for his life upon another crime. But yet by some taste, that I shall give to the peers in general, they may conceive of what nature those secrets may be. Wherein I will take it for a thing notorious, that Overbury was a man, that always merset, and de

Nothing to So

I shall also give in evidence, in this place, the slight account of that letter, which was brought to Somerset by Ashton, being found in the fields soon after the late prince's death, and was directed to Antwerp, containing these words, "that the first branch that he should, ere long, send was cut from the tree, and happier and joyfuller news."

Which is a matter I would not use, but that my Lord Coke, who hath filled this part with many frivolous things, would think all lost, except he hear somewhat of this kind. But, this it is to come to the leavings of a business.

And, for the rest of that kind, as to speak of that par

clared by Franklin after condemnation.

Nothing to Somerset, and a loose conjecture.

No better than a gazette, or passage of Gallo Belgicus.

Nothing yet proved against Lowbell.

Nothing to So


Declared by Franklin after condemnation.

Nothing to So


Nothing to So


ticular, that Mrs. Turner did | time between the use of the little charm, or, as
at Whitehall show to Franklin his majesty better terms it, "the evangile,"* and
the man, who, as he said, poi- the day of his trial† notwithstanding his majesty's
soned the prince, which, he being so far off, as advertisement of success and
says, was a physician with a order thereupon could not go and come between,
red beard.
was chiefly, for that his majesty, from whom the
overture of that first moved, did write but a few
hours, that this should be done, which I turned
into days. Secondly, because the hope I had of
effect by that mean, was rather of attempting him
at his arraignment, than of confession before his
arraignment. But I submit it to his majesty's
better judgment.

That there was a little picture of a young man in white wax, left by Mrs. Turner with Forman the conjurer, which my Lord Coke doubted was the prince.

That the Viceroy of the Indies at Goa reported to an English factor, that Prince Henry came to an untimely death by a mistress of his.

That Somerset with others, would have preferred Lowbell the apothecary to Prince Charles.

That the countess laboured Forman and Gresham, the conjurers, to enforce the queen by witchcraft to favour the


That the countess told Franklin, that when the queen died, Somerset should have Somerset House.

That Northampton said, the prince, if ever he came to reign, would prove a tyrant.

That Franklin was moved by the countess to go to the Palsgrave, and should be furnished with money. The particular reasons, why I omit them, I have set in the margin; but the general is partly to do a kind of right to justice, and such a solemn trial, in not giving that in evidence, which touches not the delinquent, or is not of weight; and partly to observe your majesty's direction, to give Somerset no just occasion of despair or flushes.

But, I pray your majesty to pardon me, that I have troubled your majesty with repeating them, lest you should hear hereafter, that Mr. Attorney hath omitted divers material parts of the evidence.


The person, by your first description, which was without name, I thought had been meant of Packer: but now perceive it is another, to me unknown, but, as it seemeth, very fit. I doubt not but he came with sufficient warrant to Mr. Lieutenant to have access. In this I have no more to do, but to expect to hear from his majesty how this worketh.

The letter from his majesty to myself and the serjeants I have received, such as I wished; and I will speak with the commissioners, that he may, by the lieutenant, understand his majesty's care of him, and the tokens herein of his majesty's compassion towards him.

I ever had a purpose to make use of that circumstance, that Overbury, the person murdered, was his majesty's prisoner in the Tower; which indeed is a strong pressure of his majesty's justice. For Overbury is the first prisoner murdered in the Tower, since the murder of the young princes by Richard the Third, the tyrant.

I would not trouble his majesty with any points of preamble, nor of the evidence itself, more than that part nakedly, wherein was the tenderness, in which I am glad his majesty, by his postils, which he returned to me, approveth my judgment.

Now I am warranted, I will not stick to say openly, I am commanded, not to exasperate, nor to aggravate the matter in question of the impoisonment with any other collateral charge of disloyalty, or otherwise; wherein, besides his majesty's principal intention, there will be some use to save the former bruits of Spanish matters.

There is a direction given to Mr. Lieutenant by my lord chancellor and myself, that as yesterday Mr. Whitings the preacher, a discreet man,

Somerset's business and charge, with his majesty's and one that was used to Helwisse, should preach

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before the lady,* and teach her, and move her generally to a clear confession. That after the same preacher should speak as much to him at his going away in private: and so proof to be made, whether this good mean, and the last night's thoughts, will produce any thing. And that this day the lieutenant should declare to her the time of her trial, and likewise of his trial, and persuade her, not only upon Christian duty, but as good for them both, that she deal clearly touching him, whereof no use can be made, nor need to be made, for evidence, but much use may be made for their comfort.

It is thought, at the day of her trial the lady will confess the indictment; which if she do, no evidence ought to be given. But because it shall not be a dumb show, and for his majesty's honour in so solemn an assembly, I purpose to make a declaration of the proceedings of this great work of justice, from the beginning to the end, where in, nevertheless, I will be careful no ways to prevent or discover the evidence of the next day. In this my lord chancellor and I have likewise used a point of providence: for I did forecast, that if in that narrative, by the connection of things, any thing should be spoken, that should show him guilty, she might break forth into passionate protestations for his clearing; which, though it may be justly made light of, yet it is better avoided. Therefore my lord chancellor and I have devised, that upon the entrance into that declaration she shall, in respect of her weakness, and not to add farther affliction, be withdrawn.

It is impossible, neither is it needful, for me, to express all the particulars of my care in this business. But I divide myself into all cogitations as far as I can foresee; being very glad to find, that his majesty doth not only accept well of my care and advices, but that he applieth his directions so fitly, as guideth me from time to time.

I have received the commissions signed.
I am not forgetful of the goods and estate of
Somerset, as far as is seasonable to inquire at this
time. My Lord Coke taketh upon him to answer
for the jewels, being the chief part of his move-
able value: and this, I think, is done with his
majesty's privity. But my Lord Coke is a good
man to answer for it.

God ever preserve and prosper you. I rest
Your true and devoted servant,

May 10, Friday, at 7 of the clock
in the morning, [1616.]


I do very much thank your majesty for your
Jetter, and think myself much honoured by it.

* Frances, Countess of Somerset.

For though it contain some matter of dislike, in which respect it hath grieved me more than any event, which hath fallen out in my life; yet because I know reprehensions from the best masters to the best servants are necessary; and that no chastisement is pleasant for the time, but yet worketh good effects; and for that I find intermixed some passages of trust and grace; and find also in myself inwardly sincerity of intention, and conformity of will, howsoever I may have erred; I do not a little comfort myself, resting upon your majesty's accustomed favour; and most humbly desiring, that any one of my particular notions may be expounded by the constant and direct course, which, your majesty knoweth, I have ever held in your service.

And because it hath pleased your majesty, of your singular grace and favour, to write fully and freely unto me; it is duty and decorum in me not to write shortly to your majesty again, but with some length; not so much by way of defence or answer, which yet, I know, your majesty would. always graciously admit; as to show, that I have, as I ought, weighed every word of your majesty's letter.

First, I do acknowledge, that this match of Sir John Villiers is "magnum in parvo" in both senses, that your majesty speaketh. But your majesty perceiveth well, that I took it to be in a farther degree, "majus in parvo," in respect of your service, But since your majesty biddeth me to confide upon your act of empire, I have done. For, as the Scripture saith, "to God all things are possible;" so certainly to wise kings much is possible. But for that second sense, that your majesty speaketh of, "magnum in parvo," in respect of the stir; albeit it being but a most lawful and ordinary thing, I most humbly pray your majesty to pardon me, if I signify to you, that we here take the loud and vocal, and as I may call it, streperous carriage to have been far more on the other side, which indeed is inconvenient, rather than the thing itself.

Now, for the manner of my affection to my Lord of Buckingham, for whom I would spend my life, and that which is to me more, the cares of my life; I must humbly confess, that it was in this a little parent-like, this being no other term, than his lordship hath heretofore vouchsafed to my counsels; but in truth, and it please your majesty, without any grain of disesteem for his lordship's discretion. For I know him to be naturally a wise man, of a sound and staid wit, as I ever said unto your majesty. And, again, I know he hath the best tutor in Europe. But yet I was afraid, that the height of his fortune might make him too secure; and as the proverb is, a looker-on sometimes seeth more than a gamester.

answer to it, to have been written at Gorhambury, July 25, 1617. That printed with this date in his Works, should be †This letter appears, from the endorsement of the king's August 2, 1617, as I find by the original draught of it.

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