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These statements being reported to the Lords at Westminster, they ordered a committee of three to search the Journals for the truth of this matter, who immediately reported, "That the Lord Keeper was present when the petition to the King concerning the militia was agreed on; that he was present, argued and voted for the following resolution, that in case of extreme danger, and of his Majesty's refusal, the ordinance of both Houses doth oblige the people, and by the fundamental laws of this kingdom ought to be obeyed; and, lastly, that he himself, under the MILITIA ORDINANCE, named deputy-lieutenants, and consented to the several forms of deputations of the militia.”*

In the history of the Great Seal I ought here to mention that the two Houses, in their celebrated petition and advice of 2d of June, 1642, proposed that the Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper, with some other officers, should always be chosen with the approbation of both Houses; but the King received the proposal with mockery and scorn.


Exposure of Little

ton's du



Although Littleton was continued in his office by the His subse King till the time of his death, and although he ever after quent adhered to the royal cause, he does not seem to have been much trusted, and his name seldom occurs in subsequent transactions. He was not admitted with Hyde and Falkland into the secret consultations of the royalists, and his only official duty was to put the Great Seal to proclamations and patents. As Lord Keeper he was allowed, according to his precedence, to put his name first to the declaration issued by forty-eight Peers, just before the commencement of hostilities, "that to their certain knowledge the King had no intention of making war upon the parliament." He fixed his residence at Oxford, now considered the seat of government, but was sometimes called upon to attend the King in his campaigns. Without a bar, solicitors, or suitors, he pretended to sit in Chancery, and he went through the form of passing a commission under the Great Seal, appointing certain other persons to hear and determine causes in his absence.† His most solemn judicial act at Oxford was

CHAP. calling Sir Richard Lane to the degree of Serjeant at Law, and swearing him in Chief Baron of the Exchequer.



tion at


After the battles of Edge Hill and Newbury there was in or convoca- the beginning of 1644 the form of a parliament at Oxford, and a much greater number of Peers attended here than at Westminster, although the Bishops were not allowed to sit, in consequence of the act for excluding them from parliament, to which the King had given his assent. The Hall of one of the Colleges was fitted up in the fashion of the House of Lords, and Littleton presided on the supposed woolsack. But though Charles so far complied with the forms of parliament as to make the two Houses a short speech at the opening of the Session, he did not say, according to the precedents, that the Lord Keeper would further explain to them the causes of their being assembled. Littleton still being allowed his rank, subscribed next after the Princes of the blood the letter to the Earl of Essex, proposing an accommodation; and the two Houses, without venturing to impose a tax, having resolved to raise 100,000l. for the public service by loan, he jointly, with the Speaker of the House of Commons, addressed to all who were supposed able to contribute to it official letters of solicitation, bearing a very considerable resemblance to privy seals for the raising of a "Benevolence."*

Letters to

raise loans for the King.

By the kindness of my friend, Lord Hatherton, I am enabled to lay before the reader a copy of one of these letters, which must be considered a very interesting historical document :


"Trusty and well-beloved, We greet you well. Whereas all our subjects of the kingdome of England and dominion of Wales, are both by their allegiance and the Act of Pacification bound to resist and suppresse all such of Our subjects of Scotland as have in a hostile manner already entred, or shall hereafter enter into this kingdome. And by law, your personall service, attended in a warlike manner for the resistance of this invasion, may be required by Us, which we desire to spare, chusing rather to invite your assistance for the maintenance of Our army in a free and voluntary expression of your affections to our service and the safety of this kingdome. And whereas the members of both Houses of Parliament, assembled at Oxford, have taken into their consideration the necessity of supporting our army, for the defence of Us and Our people against this invasion, and for the preservation of the religion, laws, and liberties of this kingdome, and therefore have agreed upon the speedy raising of the summe of one hundred thousand pounds by loane from particular persons, towards the which themselves have advanced a very considerable proportion, and by their examples hope that Our well-affected subjects, throughout the kingdome, will in a short time make up the remainder, whereby We shall not only be enabled to pay and

He had fled so suddenly from London, that he had been obliged to leave all his books and manuscripts behind him. The parliament did not generously send them after him for his consolation, but made an order that "in respect to the learning of Mr. Whitelock, and his other merits in regard to the public, all the books and manuscripts of the Lord Littleton, late Keeper of the Great Seal, which should be discovered, should be bestowed on Mr. Whitelock, and that the Speaker grant his warrant to search for them, seize them, and put them into his possession."

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Being practically without civil occupation, the Lord Keeper thought that he might agreeably fill up his leisure, and that he might raise his reputation, by looking like the times and becoming a soldier. We have mentioned that he was a famous swordsman in his youth. Though so notorious for moral cowardice, he

recruit Our army, but likewise be enabled to put Our armies in such a condition,
as Our subjects shall not suffer by free quarters, or the unrulinesse of Our soldiers,
which is now in present agitation, and will (we no way doubt, by the advice of
the members of both Houses assembled), be speedily effected. We doe, towards
so good a worke, by the approbation and advice of the said members of both
Houses here assembled, desire you forthwith to lend us the summe of one hundred
pounds, or the value thereof in plate, toucht plate at five shillings, untoucht
plate at foure shillings foure pence per ounce; and to pay or deliver the same
within seven daies after the receipt hereof, to the hands of the high sheriffe of
that our county, or to such whom he shall appoint to receive the same (upon his
acquittances for the receipt thereof), who is forthwith to returne and pay the
same at Corpus Christi College in Oxford, to the hands of the Earle of Bath,
the Lord Seymour, Mr. John Ashburnham, and Mr. John Pettiplace, or any of
them, who are appointed treasurers for the receiving and issuing thereof by the
said members (by whose order only the said money is to be disposed), and to
give receipts for the same, the which We promise to repay assoone as God shall
enable Us; this summe being to be advanced with speed, We are necessitated to
apply ourselves to such persons as your selfe, of whose ability and affection We
have confidence, giving you this assurance, that in such farther charges, that the
necessity of Our just defence shall enforce us to require of Our good subjects,
your forwardness and disbursements shall be considered to your best advantage.
And so presuming you will not faile to expresse your affection herein, We bid
you farewell. Given at Our Court at Oxford, the 14th day of February, in the
nineteenth year of Our raigne, 1643.

"By the advice of the members of both Houses assembled at Oxford,

The above letter is among Lord Hatherton's family papers. The direction on it is torn and illegible; but no doubt it was addressed to the owner of his estate, at that time, Sir Edward Littleton, Bart., of Pillaton Hall. In a corner of the letter are a few lines, signed "Tho. Leveson Arm. Vic. Com. Staff," which lines are almost illegible. They begin, "I am commanded to send you this letter;" the remainder evidently refers to the time and manner of remitting the money.





raises a
corps at

His military zeal, for which

was by no means deficient in natural bravery, and on whichever side he had happened to fight, he would have shown an English heart. He now proposed to raise a volunteer corps, which he himself was to command, to consist of lawyers and gentlemen of the Inns of Court and Chancery, officers of the different Courts of Justice, and all who were willing to draw a weapon for Church and King under the auspices of the Lord Keeper. The offer was accepted, and a commission was granted to him, of which the doquet remains among the instruments passed under the Great Seal of King Charles I. at Oxford: "A commission granted to Edward Lord Littleton, Lo. Keep. of the Greate Seale, to raise a regiment of foot souldiers, consisting of gent. of the Inns of Court and Chauncy, and of all ministers and officers belonging to the Court of Chauncy, and their servants, and of gent. and others who will voluntarily put themselves under his command to serve his Matic for the security of the Universitie and Cittie of Oxford. Te apud Oxon. xxi° die Maij A° R. R. Caroli, xx°.*

per ipsm Regem.Ӡ

The Lord Keeper devoted himself to this new pursuit with great zeal and energy, acting the part of Adjutant as well as he is made Commander, and as he was a remarkably tall, handsome, atha Doctor of letic man in a green old age, he made an excellent officer. All connected with the law flocked to his standard, and their number was greatly increased by recruits from the different colleges who mixed military exercises with their logical con

Civil Law.

*May 21. 1645.

† According to a statement by the Editor of his " Reports," the Lord Keeper's military zeal was felt by all members of the profession of the law then at Oxford, the judges included. "He was colonel of a foot regiment, in which were listed all the Judges, lawyers, and officers belonging to the several Courts of Justice." -Pref. ed. 1683. This reminds me of the gallant corps in which I myself served in my youth, "the B. I. C. A.," or " Bloomsbury and Inns of Court Association," consisting of barristers, attorneys, law students, and clerks, raised to repel the invasion threatened by Napoleon; but none of the reverend sages of the law served in this or the rival legal corps named the " Temple Light Infantry," or "The Devil's Own," commanded by Erskine, still at the bar. Lord Chancellor Eldon doubted the expediency of mixing in the ranks, and did not aspire to be an officer; Law, the Attorney General, was in the awkward squad.-Lord Keeper Littleton has, therefore, the glory of being recorded as the last successor of Turketel, Thomas-à-Becket, and the Earl of Salisbury, who ever carried arms while head of the law.


tentions in the schools. As a mark of respect for his military CHAP. prowess, the University now conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of the Civil Law.* Whether these learned volunteers could ever have been made capable of facing the psalmsinging soldiers of Cromwell-commanded by "Colonel Fightthe-good-fight-of-faith" and "Captain Smite-them-hip-andthigh,”—is left in doubt, for the "Lord Keeper Commandant," while drilling his corps one morning in Bagley Wood, was overtaken by a thunder storm, and caught a violent cold. This His death. being neglected, turned into a fever, which carried him off on the 27th of August, 1645, — to the great regret of the royalist party, notwithstanding his backslidings and the grave suspicions which had formerly been entertained of his fidelity.

He was buried with military honours in the cathedral of Christchurch, not only his own regiment, but the whole garrison attending. All the nobility at Oxford, and the heads of houses, joined in the procession. The solemnity was closed with a funeral speech made for him, by the "incomparable Dr. Hammond," then Orator of the University.

After the Restoration, a monument was erected over his grave recording his origin, the high offices he had held, and the virtues his family wished to have attributed to him, above all

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In quiet times he would have passed through the world His chawith honour and applause. Had he died Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, he would have left behind him, if not a splendid, a respectable reputation. But his elevation placed him in situations for which he was wholly unfit; and if he is saved from being placed with the treacherous, the perfidious, and the infamous, it is only by supposing him to be the most irresolute, nerveless, and pusillanimous of mankind. So completely did his faculties abandon him after he received Inefficiency as the Great Seal, that he drivelled as a Judge,-not only in po- Equity litical cases before the Privy Council,—but also in the common Judge. run of business between party and party. His deficiency in

I do not find any account of the ceremony, but I presume the public orator, after enumerating his high civic distinctions, added, "et militavit non sine gloriâ," the compliment paid on a similar occasion to Sir WILLIAM GRANT, Master of the Rolls, who had served as a volunteer in Canada.

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