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CHAP. sively tried there, gave him such an advantage, that he at once rose to eminence.


A. D. 1581.
of the

House of

He next became a member of the House of Commons, where he gained considerable reputation on questions respecting regularity of proceeding and privilege, in the two Commons. last sessions of the parliament which, after continuing on foot for eleven years, was dissolved in the beginning of the year 1583.

Elected Speaker.

to the


When a new parliament assembled, in November 1585, Puckering was elected Speaker, and filled the chair efficiently, if not gracefully. During the session the Queen sent for him, and reprimanded him for allowing a bill to be introduced for a further reform of the church. He communicated her displeasure to the House, and the bill was allowed to His address drop. At the prorogation he delivered an address to the Queen, most insufferably long, perplexed, and tedious. Alluding to the Queen's complaint of their debates, he said, "I can assure your Majesty, that in this assembly there was never found in any speech, private or public, any argument or token of the mind of any person that showed any intention to be offensive to your Majesty. And for proof hereof, when it pleased your Majesty to direct me to declare your pleasure to the Commons' House in what sort you would. they should stay any further debating of the manner of reformation of such things as they thought might be reformed in that Church, I found them all ready to obey your Majesty's pleasure therein." He concluded by asking her to give her royal assent to the bills they had passed, — exhibiting a specimen of the performance of a Serjeant at law trying to be eloquent. Lastly, I am, in their names, to exhibit our most humble and earnest petitions to your Majesty to give life to the works, not of our hands, but of our minds, cogitations, and hearts; which, otherwise than being lightened by the beams of your favour, shall be but vain, dumb, and dead." *

Counsel for the Crown.


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At this time it was usual for a lawyer filling the chair of the House of Commons to continue to practise at the bar,

* 1 Parl. Hist. 830.

and Puckering was employed as counsel for the Crown in the state trials arising out of the plot to rescue the Queen of Scots. The conduct of the prosecution of Babington and Tilney, two of the principal conspirators, was chiefly conducted by him, and he made speeches against them, read confessions, put questions to the accused, and, at a pinch, gave a little evidence himself, after the manner of the times.




When a new parliament was called, with the view of Nov. 1586. carrying into execution the sentence pronounced against Speaker the Mary, Puckering was again chosen Speaker, and was ap- time. proved of by "the Lords Lieutenants," who represented the Queen. There was a special order from her, which was implicitly obeyed, "that no laws should be made at all in this session." And the only business stirred was the execution of the sentence upon Mary.*

When the preliminary forms had been gone through, the Speaker reminded the House of going upon the "Great Cause," as they termed it. Mr. Francis Bacon, on this occasion, made his maiden speech, and the Speaker was unanimously directed to wait upon the Queen, and to urge her to comply with their wishes. Puckering was received by her at Richmond, and stated five reasons why the Queen of Scots should be put to death. "1st, She and her favourers think she has not only a right to succeed to your Crown, but to enjoy it in possession. 2dly, She is obdurate in malice against your royal person, and there is no place for mercy, since there is no hope that she will desist from most wicked attempts. 3dly, She boldly and openly professes it lawful for her to move invasion upon you. 4thly, She thinks it not only lawful, but honourable and meritorious, to take your life, as being already deprived of your Crown by the Pope's excommunication. 5thly, She is greedy for your Majesty's death, and prefers it before her own life and safety; for in her directions to one of her late accomplices, she advised, under covert terms, that whatever should become of her, tragical execution should be performed upon you."

* 1 Parl. Hist. 835.

Urges the execution Queen of

of Mary




Puckering prosecutes Secretary

Elizabeth delivered an extempore harangue in answer, saying, that if, instead of Queens, they were but as two Answer of milkmaids, with pails upon their arms, and if her own life Elizabeth. only were in danger, and not the whole estate of their religion and well-doing, she would most willingly pardon the offence committed against her; but that she would, for the good of her subjects, take the matter into consideration, and send them her resolution with all conveniency. The ungainly Puckering was attended, on this occasion, and prompted by that accomplished courtier, Hatton, the Queen's Vice-chamberlain, who pleased her much more than the Serjeant, and, without any one suspecting it, was now so near to greatness. The fears of Elizabeth and the English nation being quieted by the death of Mary, for which they were all so Davison. eager, -Puckering's next appearance was as counsel to prosecute Secretary Davison, in the Star Chamber, for his presumption in sending off the warrant for her execution without due authority. The account says, that "he aggravated Davison's offence, and was forward to accuse, and yet seemed more pro forma tantum than of any matter he had to charge him withal."* And certainly those who were then assembled must have had more gravity than the Roman Augurs meeting each other, if they were able to keep their countenance while they were playing their parts in this farce; although it turned out a serious matter for the poor Secretary, who had a heavy fine imposed upon him, and was permanently deprived of his office.

A. D. 1588.

His conduct on trial of

Earl of

For these services, Puckering was now made Queen's Serjeant, and thereby put over the Attorney and Solicitor General. †

He was soon after leading counsel for the Crown in the celebrated prosecution of Knightley for a libel before the Star Chamber ‡, and the important trial of the Earl of Arundel for high treason, before the Court of the Lord High Steward.§ On this last occasion he had rather a curious dialogue with

Or. Jur. 97.

1 St. Tr. 1233. St. Tr. 1263. SPUCKERINGUS, Regius ad legem serviens, exorsus primam accusationis partem fusius explicavit." --- Camd. Eliz. vol. ii. 4.

the noble prisoner, who desired to know how he was a traitor? Puckering, Serj. "The traitors have a good conceit of my Lord of Arundel, knowing him to be affected to the Catholic cause. It is defined, that the Catholic cause is mere treason. Petro Paulo Rosetto came over to sound



noblemen and gentlemen in England." There was a picture produced, found in my Lord's trunk, wherein was painted a hand bitten with a serpent, shaking the serpent into the fire,about which was written this posy, Quis contra nos?—on the other side a lion rampant, with his chops all bloody, and this posy, Tamen Leo. The noble prisoner in vain said he had received it innocently as a new year's gift. He was found guilty by his Peers; but being respited, he died a natural death in the Tower.t Puckering's last appearance at the bar was on the trial of Conducts Sir John Perrot, late Lord Deputy of Ireland, for high treason. This rough soldier had always been very loyal to the Queen; but, when in a passion, had been in the habit of speaking of her very disrespectfully; and being recalled in disgrace, his enemies, taking advantage of his hasty expressions, were resolved to bring him to the scaffold.

Puckering, in opening the case to the Jury, gravely contended, that words were sufficient to establish the charge against the prisoner, for "the original of his treasons proceeded from the imagination of his heart, which imagination. was in itself high treason, albeit the same proceeded not to any overt act; and the heart being possessed with the abundance of his traitorous imagination, and not being able to contain itself, burst forth in vile and traitorous speeches, for Ex abundantia cordis os loquitur."+

Evidence was then given that the prisoner, when Lord Deputy, had said at the Council table, "Stick not so much on the Queen's letters of commandment, for she may command what she will, but we will do what we list." “ Nay, God's wounds! I think it strange she should use me thus." This fiddling woman troubles me out of measure.'

"It is

of Sir John



• 1 St. Tr. 1253.

† Ib. 1263.

Ib. 1318.


not safe for her Majesty to break such sour bread to her servants :" and that he had used other such uncourtly expressions. A feeble attempt was likewise made to show that he had been engaged in a treasonable correspondence with the Prince of Parma.

Puckering, as leading counsel for the Crown, then summed up, and (seemingly without any speech from the prisoner, or direction from the bench,) "prayed the jury to consider well of that which had been said, and willed them to go together." Perrot, however, burst out in a passion, desiring them to have a conscience in the matter, and to remember that his blood would be required at their hands." The jury departed from the bar, and in three quarters of an hour returned with a verdict of guilty.*

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The Queen was much pleased with the report brought to her of Serjeant Puckering's zeal on this occasion, and she forthwith rewarded him for it; but it should be remembered to her honour, that when she afterwards read an account of the trial, she refused to allow the sentence to be carried into execution, repeating with applause the rescript of Theodosius, "If any person speak ill of the Emperor through a foolish rashness or inadvertency, it is to be despised; if out of madness, it deserves pity; if from malice, it calls for mercy." Puckering Puckering's honours were showered upon him at Greenwich is knighted, and receives in the evening of Sunday the 28th of May, 1592. First, the Great he was conducted into the Queen's closet and there knighted.†


He was next admitted of the Privy Council, and having taken the oaths, he was led into the Council Chamber, placed at the lower end of the Council table, and made to sign a paper as Privy Councillor. He was then conducted back to the Queen's closet, where her Majesty having addressed to him an eloquent discourse upon the duties of the office she was about to bestow upon him, and exhorted him to strive to please God and to do justice to all who should come before

* 1 St. Tr. 1326.

"Per semetipsam Dnam Reginam in privatâ camerê suâ in Equestrem dignitatem receptus fuit et ornatus.

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