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Friend to toleration.

His descendants.

a leader of any great political or religious party, he did not gain posthumous fame by being praised like Cranmer, or abused like Gardyner. He was too ready in seconding the measures of Burghley to get rid of a Popish successor to the Crown, who had such reason to be hostile to the ministers of Elizabeth, but he does not seem liable to any other censure; and as an Equity Judge he was regretted till the very conclusion of this reign, when Lord Ellesmere was placed in the marble chair, and so much adorned it.

It ought to be mentioned to his honour, that in an intollerant age he was free from religious bigotry, and that while Chancellor he exerted himself to soften the execution of the laws against heretics.*

He was buried with great pomp in Westminster Abbey, where a magnificent monument was erected to his memory.

By his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Adrian Fortescue, he left several sons; but his male line failed in the fifth generation, when the heiress of the family was married to John Bromley, of Thornheath Hall, in the county of Cambridge; and their son, Henry, having represented that county in several parliaments, was, in 1734, raised to the peerage, by King George II., under the title of Baron Montfort, being ancestor of the present Henry Bromley Lord Montfort. †

Of this we have a striking proof in a letter, dated July 1. 1582, addressed by him to the Bishop of Chester in favour of a Lady Egerton of Ridley, who had been sued in the Bishop's Court, and was in great danger of the flames:

"I have been acquainted with her longe, and have alwaies known her in other respects to be very well given, and in regard thereof do pitie her the more. I would be glade that by gentle meanes and by conference with some grave and learned men, she might be persuaded and wonne (yf it maie be), whereof I have some good hope. I have therefore thought good to recommend her simplicitie to y Lordship, and to pray you to use some further tolleration with her until Candlemas next."- - Peck's Desideratum, vol. i. p. 122.

+ See Grandeur of Law, ed. 1843, by Mr. Foss. Nash's History of Worcestershire, p. 594., where there is a full pedigree of the Bromleys.






Great Seal

On the death of Lord Chancellor Bromley, Queen Elizabeth retained the Great Seal in her own custody above a fortnight, while she deliberated upon the appointment of his successor. During this interval, she thrice delivered it for the sealing of in custody writs, commissions, and letters patent, to Lord Hunsdon, of Queen. Burghley, and others; and they having carried it into the Council Chamber, and sealed all the instruments with it which required immediate despatch, returned it into her Majesty's hands.*

tions as to pointment

the ap

of the new Chancellor.

There was now much speculation at Court, in Westminster SpeculaHall, and in the City of London, as to who should be the new Chancellor. Easter term was going on without any one to preside in the Chancery or in the Star Chamber, or to superintend the administration of justice. Opinions were divided between Serjeant Puckering, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir John Popham, the Attorney General, and Sir Thomas Egerton, the Solicitor General. The first was in the direct line of promotion to high legal dignities, and he had given great satisfaction from the manner in which he had managed the House of Commons, in the delicate affair of the Scottish Queen, and in repressing the motions of the Puritans. Popham, afterwards so much distinguished as Chief Justice, had now a great reputation for a profound knowledge of the common law, and Egerton had given earnest of that intimate familiarity with the general

⚫ lidem nobiles viri dictum magnum sigillum secum portabant usque in Cameram Consilii ibidem et permittebant sigillari omnes tales litteras patentes commissiones et brevia antedicta et sigillacione finita sigillum predictum in bagam de coreo albo in qua antea includebatur reponi preceperunt et cum sigillis eorum muniri fecerunt et sic sigillum predictum ad presenciam sue Majestatis in baga de velueto rubeo insigniis sue Majestatis decorata tulebant et in manus sue Majestatis redeliberabant.-R. Cl. 29 Eliz.


CHAP. principles of jurisprudence, which being fully developed when he became Lord Ellesmere, made him be considered as the earliest founder of our system of Equity.*


ment on

appointment of Sir CHRIS



of her

But what was the astonishment of courtiers, of lawyers, and of citizens, when, on Saturday the 29th of April, it was announced that her Majesty had chosen for the Keeper of her conscience, -to preside in the Chancery and the Star Chamber, and the House of Lords, and to superintend the administration of justice throughout the realm, a gay young cavalier never called to the bar, and chiefly famed for his handsome person, his taste in dress, and his skill in dancing, Sir CHRISTOPHER HATTON!!!

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In the long reign of Elizabeth, no domestic occurrence seems so strange as this appointment; but, with the exception of her choice of Burghley for her minister, she was much high offices. influenced in the selection of persons for high employment by

lovers for

Family of

personal favour; and on the same principle that Leicester was sent to command in the low countries, and Essex in Ireland, Hatton was placed at the head of the magistracy of the realm, because he was her lover. Burghley had resisted her propensity on this occasion as far as his own safety would permit; but considering that Hatton could never be dangerous to him as a rival for power, and that this freak would only be injurious to the administration of justice, which ministers often sacrifice to political convenience, he yielded, and joined in the effort to give éclat to the installation of the new Chancellor. We must proceed to trace the origin and history of this minion, that we may account for his extraordinary elevation.

He was born in the year 1539, being the third and youngest son of William Hatton, Esq., of Holdenby, in Northamptonshire, a family originally from Cheshire, of considerable antiquity, but very moderate wealth. Although he never left home till he was sent to the University, he was early remarkable for sprightliness and vivacity as well as comeliness;

Camden says there was a speculation likewise at Court that Edward Earl of Rutland, whom he describes as "juris scientiâ et omni politiori eruditione ornatissimus," would be appointed Chancellor had he not suddenly died; but this seems exceedingly improbable, for he could have had no professional experience, and he was not a personal favourite. Camden, Hist. El., 1475.


but he was idle and volatile, and he imbibed with difficulty, CHAP. from a domestic tutor, the first rudiments of knowledge. He already showed the vanity which always distinguished Early him; and being much spoiled as the child of his father's old vanity of age, he succeeded in prevailing upon the indulgent Squire to topher. enter him a gentleman-commoner at St. Mary Hall, Oxford, Gentleman although the additional expence thus incurred could ill be Commoner


Sir Chris

at Oxford.

His idle

ness at


His profligacy at

the inns of


While at college, he was exceedingly popular with his companions; but he spent much more time in fencing and archery than in perusing Aristotle and Aquinas, and from the fear of being plucked, he left Oxford without trying for a degree. Being intended for the bar, he was now transferred to the Inner Temple; but it was said, that "he rather took a bait than made a meal at the inns of court, whilst he studied the laws therein." He was, in truth, a noted roisterer and swash buckler, hearing the chimes at midnight, knowing where the bona robas were; and sometimes lying all night in the Windmill, in St. George's Fields. † But while he spent much of his time in dicing and gallantry, there were two amusements to which he particularly devoted himself, and which laid the foundation of his future fortune. The first was His skill in dancing, which he studied under the best masters, and in dancing. which he excelled beyond any man of his time. The other was the stage; he constantly frequented the theatres, which, although Shakspeare was still a boy at Stratford-on-Avon, were beginning to flourish, and he himself used to assist in writing masques, and took a part in performing them. He was one of five students of the Inner Temple who wrote a play entitled “Tancred and Gismund,” which, in the year 1568, was acted, by that Society, before the Queen. ‡

When he became a great man, his flatterers pretended that he never meant to make the law a profession, and that he was sent to an inn of court merely to finish his education in the mixed society of young men of business and pleasure there to be met with; but there can be no doubt that, as a younger brother of a poor family, it was intended that he should earn his bread by "a knowledge of good pleading in actions real and personal;" and the news of the manner in which he dedicated himself to dancing, which made his fortune, must have caused heavy hearts under the paternal roof in Northamptonshire.

+ See Justice Shallow's career at the inns of court, Second Part Henry IV. act iii. sc. 2.

This piece, though composed and acted in 1568, was not printed till 1592.

His fond

ness for the


Joined in
a tragedy
acted be

fore Queen.


He did not act in this piece himself; but his fashionable accomplishments and agreeable manners introducing him into

Tragedy of It then came out thus entitled: "The Tragedie of TANCRED and GISMUND, com



Scene written by Sir


pher Hat


piled by the gentlemen of the Inner Temple, and by them presented before her MAJESTIE. Newly revived, and polished according to the decorum of these daies, by R. W." This edition was by Robert Wilmot, who is often called the author of the tragedy, but there is no doubt that the five students contributed each an act. The future Lord Chancellor's contribution was the fourth act, at the end of which there is this notice, “Composuit Chr. Hatton." This edition is so scarce, and so much valued by book collectors, that a defective copy of it sells for ten guineas. There is one in the British Museum which belonged to Garrick.

The story which has been the subject of so many poems and dramas is taken from the first novel of the fourth day of the Decameron. I am afraid that Hatton could not read Bocaccio in the original, but he might find this fable in Paynter's Collection," and in an old ballad printed by Wynkin de Worde


in 1532.

Sir Christopher's contribution being hitherto the only tragic effort of a Lord Chancellor, I will offer the reader as a specimen the fourth scene of the fourth act, between Tancred and Guiozard, after the King has discovered the guilty loves of the Count and Sigismunda.

"Taner. And durst thou, villain, dare to undermine
Our daughter's chamber? Durst thy shameless face
Be bold to kiss her? th' rest we will conceal.
Wherefore content thee that we are resolv'd
That thy just death, with thine effus'd blood,
Shall cool the heat and choler of our mood."

"Guioz. My Lord the King, neither do I mislike
Your sentence, nor do your smoaking sighs,
Reach'd from the entrails of your boiling heart,
Disturb the quiet of my calmed thoughts.
Such is the force and endless might of love,
As never shall the dread of carrion death,
That hath envy'd our joys, invade my breast,
But unto her my love exceeds compare :
Then this hath been my fault for which I joy,
That in the greatest lust of all my life

I shall submit for her sake to endure

The pangs of death.

Oh, mighty lord of love,

Strengthen thy vassal boldly to receive
Large wounds into this body for her sake;
Then use my life or death, my Lord and King,
For your relief to ease your grieved soul;

Knowing by death I shall bewray the truth

Of that fond heart, which living was her own,

And died alive for her that lived mine."

"Taner. Thine, Palurin? What! lives my daughter thine? Traytor, thou wrong'st me, for she liveth mine.

Rather I wish ten thousand sundry deaths

Than I to live and see my daughter thine."

[The King hasteth into his palace.]

"Guioz. (solus.) O thou, great God, who from thy highest throne
Hast stooped down and felt the force of love,
Bend gentle ears unto the woful moan
Of me, poor wretch, to grant that I require;
Help to persuade the same, great God, that he

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