Page images





I RECEIVED this morning from you two letters by the same bearer; the one written before, the other after his majesty had received my last.

In this difference between the two courts of chancery and king's bench, for so I had rather take it for this time, than between the persons of my lord chancellor and my lord chief justice, I marvel not, if rumour get way of true relation; for I know fame hath swift wings, specially that which hath black feathers : but within these two days, for sooner I cannot be ready, I will write unto his majesty both the narrative truly, and my opinion sincerely; taking much comfort that I serve such a king that hath God's property in discerning truly of men's hearts. I purpose to speak with my lord chancellor this day; and so to exhibit that cordial of his majesty's grace, as I hope that other accident will rather rouse and raise his spirit, than deject him, or incline him to relapse. Mean while I commend the wit of a mean man that said this other day, "Well, the next term you shall have an old man come with a besom of wormwood in his hand that will sweep away all this." For it is my lord chancellor's fashion, specially toward the summer, to carry a posy of wormwood. I write this letter in haste to return your messenger with it. God keep you; and long and happily may you serve his majesty. Your true and affectionate servant,

Feb. 15, 1615.


Sir, I thank you for your inward letter; I have burned it as you commanded: but the fire it hath kindled in me will never be extinguished.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]



To Sir GEORGE VILLIERS, about Rawley's swearing him into the privy council.


My lord chancellor's health growing with the days, and his resignation being an uncertainty, I would be glad you went on with my first motion, my swearing privy counsellor. This I desire not so much to make myself more sure of the other, and to put it past competition, for herein I rest wholly upon the king and your excellent self, but because I find hourly that I need this strength in his majesty's service, both for my better warrant and satisfaction of my conscience, that I deal not in things above my vocation; and for my better countenance and prevailing, where his majesty's service is, under any pretext, opposed, I would it were dispatched. I remember a greater matter than this was dispatched by a letter from Royston, which was the placing of the archbishop that now is; and I imagine the king did it on purpose, that the act might appear to be his own.

My lord chancellor told me yesterday in plain terms, that if the king would ask his opinion touching the person that he would commend to succeed him upon death or disability, he would name me for the fittest man. You may advise, whether use may not be made of this offer.

I sent a pretty while since a paper to Mr. John Murray, which was indeed a little remembrance of some things past, concerning my honest and faithful services to his majesty; not by way of boasting, from which I am far, but as tokens of my studying his service uprightly and carefully. If you be pleased to call for the paper, which is with Mr. John Murray, and to find a fit time that his majesty may cast an eye upon it, I think it will do no hurt; and I have written to Mr. Murray to deliver the paper, if you call for it. God keep you in all happiness.

Feb. 21, 1615,

Your truest servant,



Rawley's CXXXI. To the KING, concerning the præmunire in the king's bench, against the chancery.


It may please your most excellent Majesty,

I was yesterday in the afternoon with my lord chancellor, according to your commandment which I received by the master of the horse, and find the old man well comforted, both towards God, and towards the world and that same middle comfort which is divine and human, proceeding from your majesty, being God's lieutenant on earth, I am persuaded, hath been a great cause that such a sickness hath been portable to such an age. I did not fail in my conjecture, that this business of the chancery hath stirred him; he sheweth to despise it, but he is full of it, and almost like a young duellist that findeth himselfbehind-hand.

I will now, as your majesty requireth, give you a true relation of that which hath passed; neither will I decline your royal commandment for delivering my opinion also, though it be a tender subject to write on; but I that account my Being but as an accident to my Service, will neglect no duty upon self-safety.

First, it is necessary I let your majesty know the ground of the difference between the two courts, that your majesty may the better understand the narrative.

There was a statute made 27 Edw. III. cap. 1. which no doubt, in the principal intention thereof was ordained against those that sued to Rome; wherein there are words somewhat general against any "that

[ocr errors]

questioneth or impeacheth any judgment given in "the king's courts, or in any other court." Upon these doubtful words, other courts, the controversy groweth. For the sounder interpretation taketh them to be meant of those courts, which though locally they were not held at Rome, or where the pope's chair was, but here within the realm; yet in their jurisdiction had their dependence upon the court of Rome; as were the court of the legate here, and the courts of the archbishops and bishops, which were then but subordinate judgment-seats to that high tribunal of Rome.

And for this construction, the opposition of the words, if they be well observed, between the king's courts and other courts, maketh very much; for it importeth as if those other courts were not the king's courts. Also the main scope of the statute fortifieth the same. And lastly, the practice of many ages. The other interpretation, which cleaveth to the letter, expoundeth the king's courts to be the courts of law only, and other courts to be courts of equity, as the chancery, exchequer-chamber, dutchy, etc. Though this also flieth indeed from the letter, for that all these are the king's courts.


There is also another statute, which is but a simple prohibition, and not with a penalty of a pramunire, as the other is, "that after judgments given in the king's courts, the parties shall be in peace, except "the judgment be undone by error or attaint," which is a legal form of reversal. And of this also I hold the sounder interpretation to be to settle possessions against disturbances, and not to take away remedy in equity, where those judgments are obtained ex rigore juris, and against good conscience.

But upon these two statutes there hath been a late conceit in some, that if a judgment pass at the common law against any, that he may not after sue for relief in chancery; and if he doth, both he, and his counsel, and his solicitors, yea and the judge in equity himself, are within the danger of those statutes.

Here your majesty hath the true state of the question, which I was necessarily to open to you first, because your majesty calleth for this relation, not as news, but as business. Now to the historical part.

It is the course of the king's bench, that they give in charge to a grand jury offences of all natures, to be presented within Middlesex, where the said court is ; and the manner is, to enumerate them as it were in articles. This was done by justice Crook, the Wednesday before the term ended. And that article, If any man, after a judgment given, had drawn the said judgment to a new examination in any other court, was by him specially given in charge; which had not used to be given in charge before. It is true, it was not

but as it were thrown in amongst

solemnly dwelt upon,

the rest.

The last day of the term, and, that which all men condemn, the supposed last day of my lord chancellor's life, there were two indictments preferred of præmunire, for suing in chancery after judgment in common law; the one by Rich. Glanville, the other by William Allen: the former against Courtney, the party in chancery, Gibb the counsellor, and Deurst the clerk; the latter against alderman Bowles and Humphrey Smith, parties in chancery; serjeant More the counsellor, Elias Wood solicitor in the cause, and Sir John Tindal, master of the chancery, and an assessor to my lord chancellor.

For the cases themselves, it were too long to trouble your majesty with them; but this I will say, if they were set on that preferred them, they were the worst marksmen that ever were that set them on. For there could not have been chosen two such causes to the honour and advantage of the chancery, for the justness of the decrees, and the foulness and scandal both of fact and person, in those that impeach the de


The grand jury, consisting, as it seemeth, of very substantial and intelligent persons, would not find the bills, notwithstanding they were clamoured by the parties, and twice sent back by the court; and in conclusion, resolutely seventeen of nineteen found an Ignoramus; wherein, for that time, I think Ignoramus was wiser than those that know too much.

Your majesty will pardon me, if I be sparing in delivering to you some other circumstances of aggravation, and of concurrences of some like matters the same day; as if it had been some fatal constellation. They be not things so sufficiently tried, as I dare put them into your ear.

For my opinion, I cannot but begin with this preface, that I am infinitely sorry that your majesty is thus put to salve and cure, not only accidents of time, but errors of servants; for I account this a kind of sickness of my lord Coke's, that comes almost in as ill a time as the sickness of my lord chancellor. And

« PreviousContinue »