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CHAP. science, and for the love, dread, and fear that I chiefly owe unto God and my Sovereign Lady the Queen's Highness, and unto your Lordships all; when otherwise, and without mature consideration of these premises, your Honours shall never be able to show your faces before your enemies in this matter; being so rash an example and spectacle in Christ's church as in this realm only to be found, and in none other. Thus humbly beseeching your good Honours to take in good part this rude and plain speech that I have used, of much good zeal and will I shall now leave to trouble your Honours any longer."




and Pro-

July, 1558. Heath refuses to acknowledge Queen's

After the second reading of the Bill, the expedient was resorted to of a conference between five Roman Catholic Bishops and three Doctors to argue against it, and eight reformed divines on the other side,-Heath, as Ex-chancellor, and Sir Nicholas Bacon, the new Lord Keeper, being appointed moderators. This conference ended in the commitment of two of the Bishops to the Tower, and binding over the other six Catholic disputants to appear before the Council. The Supremacy Bill, and another in favour of the new book of Common Prayer, passed the Lords by a small majority, but were supported almost unanimously in the House of Commons, to which, by Cecil's management, very few Catholics were returned.

Heath was now called upon to conform to the law, and himself to take the oath of supremacy. He pleaded conscience and the divine commandment as superior to all human law. He was therefore deprived of his archbishopric, and, the supremacy. difficulty being surmounted of consecrating new Bishops, a successor was appointed to him. He retired to a small property of his own at Cobham, in Surrey, where he devoted bishopric. the rest of his days to study and devotion. He was here compared to Abiathar, sent home by Solomon to his own field, and he was said to have found himself happier than he had ever been during his highest elevation. Queen Elizabeth

He is deprived of his arch

His retire


1 Parl. Hist. 660. Ibid. 643. This speech shows, among other curious particulars, that the expletives" My Lords,” and “Your Lordships," now so copiously introduced almost into every sentence by most speakers in the House of Lords, were then nearly unknown.





Is visited

herself, remembering how promptly he had recognised her title when he was Lord Chancellor, and believing that he afterwards acted from conscientious motives, was in the frequent habit of visiting him in his retreat, and, with a certain by Queen hankering after the old religion, she probably, in her heart, honoured him more than she did Archbishop Parker, whom she found living splendidly at Lambeth, with a lady whom she would neither call his "mistress" nor his "wife."


Heath survived till the year 1566, when he died deeply His death. lamented by his friends, and with the character of a good, if not of a great man.

State of conduct of

the law and

Before proceeding with the Lord Keepers and Lord Chancellors of Elizabeth, we ought to take a glance at the juridical history of the preceding reign. It was begun with an act of Chancellors during the parliament, which we should have thought unnecessary, to reign of declare that a Queen Regnant has all the lawful prerogatives Queen of the Crown, and is bound by the laws of former Kings.† Change of religion afterwards completely occupied the attention of the people, this change being still effected by acts of the legislature.

The law of treason was now brought back to the constitutional basis on which it had been placed by the celebrated statute of Edward III., and where religion was not concerned the Queen and her ministers showed considerable respect for the rights of the people. ‡

• A most beautiful panegyric is pronounced upon him by Hayward, a contemporary historian, whose works have been lately published by the Camden Society. Speaking of the changes upon the accession of Elizabeth, he says, Among thes Doctor Heath, Archbishopp of Yorke, was removed from being Lord Chancellour of England, a man of most eminent and generous simplicity, who esteemed any thing privately unlawfull which was not publickelye beneficiall and good. But as it is noe new thing for merchants to breake, for saylers to be drowned, for soldiers to be slayn, so is it not for men in authority to fall.” — Hayward's Annals of Elizabeth, p. 13.

+ Mary, sess. 3. c. 1.

During this reign the lawyers devoted much of their attention to the regulation of their own dress and personal appearance. To check the grievance of "long beards," an order was issued by the Inner Temple "that no fellow of that house should wear his beard above three weeks growth on pain of forfeiting 20s." The Middle Temple enacted "that none of that society should wear great breeches in their hose made after the Dutch, Spanish, or Almain fashion, or lawn upon their caps, or cut doublets, under a penalty of 38. 4d., and expulsion for the second offence." In 3 & 4 P. & M. it was ordained by all the four Inns of Court, "that none except knights and benchers should wear in their doublets or





Great reproach was brought upon the two Chancellors, Gardyner and Heath, for the furious religious persecution which they prompted or sanctioned; but the former gained much popularity by his resistance to the Queen's matrimonial alliance with Philip of Spain, and the latter was respected for the general moderation of his character and his personal disinterestedness. They issued writs, under the Great Seal, for the election of representatives to the House of Commons to fourteen new places, (generally very small towns,) which had not before sent members to parliament,-imitating the conduct of Edward's Chancellors, who, to strengthen the reformation, had enfranchised no fewer than twenty-two similar boroughs. None of their judicial decisions have been handed down

to us.

hose any light colours, save scarlet and crimson, nor wear any upper velvet cap, or any scarf or wings in their gowns, white jerkins, buskins, or velvet shoes, double cuffs in their shirts, feathers or ribbons in their caps, and that none should wear their study gowns in the city any farther than Fleet Bridge or Holborn Bridge, nor, while in Commons, wear Spanish cloaks, sword and buckler, or rapier, or gowns and hats, or gowns girded with a dagger on the back."1

1 Dug. Or. Jur. 148



We now come to the life of a man who held the Great Seal above twenty years, but whose selected motto being "Mediocria firma," was of very moderate ambition, aiming only at the due discharge of his judicial duties, and desirous to avoid mixing himself up with any concerns which were not connected with his office. Till we reach the Earl of Clarendon, we shall not again find the holder of the Great Seal Prime Minister, and in the interval it will not be necessary for us to enter minutely into historical events guided by political chiefs under whom the individuals whose lives we have to narrate acted only a subordinate part.



A. D. 1558.

business in

The business of the Court of Chancery had now so much State of increased, that to dispose of it satisfactorily required a Judge the Court regularly trained to the profession of the law, and willing to of Chandevote to it all his energy and industry. The Statute of cery. Wills, the Statute of Uses, the new modes of conveyancing introduced for avoiding transmutation of possession, the questions which arose respecting the property of the dissolved monasteries, and the great increase of commerce and wealth in the nation, brought such a number of important suits into the Court of Chancery, that the holder of the Great Seal could no longer satisfy the public by occasionally stealing a few hours from his political occupations to dispose of bills and petitions, and not only was his daily attendance demanded in Westminster Hall during term time, but it was necessary that he should sit, for a portion of each vacation, either at his own house, or in some convenient place appointed by him for clearing off his arrears.

Elizabeth having received the Great Seal from Lord Chancellor Heath on the second day of her reign, she kept it in

Great Seal


to Sir


her own possession rather more than a month before she determined how she should dispose of it. At last, on the 22d of DeNICHOLAS cember, 1558, "between the hours of ten and eleven in the



His pre

vious career.

His birth.

forenoon, at the Queen's Royal Palace of Somerset House, in the Strand, the Queen, taking the Great Seal from its white leather bag and red velvet purse before the Lord Treasurer and many others, delivered it to Sir NICHOLAS BACON, with the title of Lord Keeper, and all the powers belonging to a Lord Chancellor; and he, gratefully receiving it from her Majesty, having sealed with it a summons to the Convocation, returned it into its leathern bag and velvet purse and carried it off with him, to be held during the good pleasure of her Majesty."

This new functionary had not passed through any dangers, or difficulties, or interesting vicissitudes before his advancement; but, without being once in prison or in exile, or engaged in foreign embassies, much less having, like some of his predecessors, led armies into the field, he had risen in the common place track of the legal profession as dully as a prosperous lawyer of the eighteenth or nineteenth century, who going through Eton or Westminster, Oxford or Cambridge, and a special pleader's or an equity draughtsman's office, is called to the bar, pleases the attorneys, gets a silk gown, and is brought into parliament by a great nobleman to whom he is auditor, there to remain quietly till for some party convenience he is farther promoted.

Nicholas Bacon was of a respectable gentleman's family long seated in the county of Suffolk. He was the second son of Robert Bacon, of Drinkston, Esquire, and was born at Education. Chislehurst, in Kent, in the year 1510. He received his education under his father's roof till he was sent to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Having taken his degree, he travelled for some time in France.

On his return he studied the law diligently at Gray's Inn, and without brilliant talents, by industry and perseverance he gained considerable practice at the bar. When the dissolution of the monasteries took place, he was appointed by

* See all this and much more of the ceremony related, Rot. Cl. 1 Eliz.

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