Ralegh Miscellanea (1909)
Information about this page
Author(s): Brushfield. T. N; Year published: 1909; Origin: DA Transactions; Pages: 179-214
Topic(s): bio and Raleigh; Location(s):
By T. N. Brushfield, M.D., F.S.A. (Read at Launceston, 28th July, 1909.)
* Brief references to works quoted:—
Oldys = W. Oldys’ Life of Sir W. Ralegh (1830).
Edwards = E. Edwards’ Life of Sir W. Ralegh (1830).
Stebbing = W. Stebbing’s Life of Sir W. Ralegh (2 vols.).
D.A. = Transactions of the Devonshire Association.
Cal. S.P. = Calendar of State Papers in P.R.O.
The first meeting of the Devonshire Association was held in Exeter, under the presidency of Dr. Bowring, in August, 1862; and since then the annual gatherings have, up to the present year, always taken place within the borders of the county, so that the present assemblance in the good town of Launceston is the first occasion of its departure from its accustomed practice by accepting a cordial invitation to meet in the sister county of Cornwall.
Such being the case, it seemed to the writer to be a fitting occasion for the selection of a subject which should relate to both counties, and. hence his reason for bringing under the notice of the members an account of some matters connected with Sir Walter Ralegh and family; and although his name is more intimately connected with Devonshire, it has many claims to be included in any history of Cornwall.
In the first place, he was Lord Warden of the Stannaries of both counties, having been appointed to that office in July, 1585, on the death of Francis, Earl of Bedford. This wardenship he held until deprived of it in 1603, soon after James ascended the throne. His successor was the Earl of Pembroke, who received the appointment on 18 January, 1604.¹ In the following month (24 Feb.) he received a letter from “Westminster”, “for the tinners of Devon and Cornwall to be governed according to their ancient laws and privileges.”²
1. Cal. S.P., Jac. I, Vol. VI, s. 28.
2. Cal. S.P., Jac. I, Vol. XII, s. 90.
Ralegh was always a staunch friend of the tinners, and advocated their cause both in and out of Parliament. Some of the Stannary Laws which are still in force are stated to have been made by him.
The transcript of the following letter shows that he had, as, Warden, something to do with the local coinage of Devon and Cornwall:—
“The Coinage in Devon and Cornwall.
1599. June 4. Letter to the Wardens and all other her Majesty’s officers for the Tin.
Forasmuch as the Warden Sir W. Ralegh, Lieutenant of Cornwall, cannot make his repair down so as to be there by the day prefixed for the coinage in Devon, her Majesty hath commanded us to signify her pleasure that she would have the present time of coinage in the county of Devon deferred until the 2 July by which time the coinage of Cornwall being ended they may both receive signification of her pleasure in Devonshire and proceed to the said coinage afterwards.
Corrected draft in Cecil’s hand.
Endorsed 4 June ’99. …
Signed by the L. Treas., Mr. Secretary and the Lo. Chief Justice.”*
* Hatfield MSS., part 9 (1902), 193.
In September, 1585, he was appointed to the important office of Lord-Lieutenant of Cornwall, and in the same year he became Vice-Admiral of Devon and Cornwall. These positions needed an active, clear-headed man to fulfil the duties pertaining to them in those stirring times. The celebrated painting by Seymour Lucas, entitled “Bowls on the Hoe”, depicting Drake about to cast a bowl while the Spanish fleet was in sight, shows Ralegh as one of the lockers-on. This is an anachronism, inasmuch as he was at that time fully occupied in Cornwall in seeing the coast defences were in order, as it was unknown where the Spaniards might land. He certainly would gladly have joined Drake in his fight against the Armada if he had had the chance; as it was, it is affirmed that as soon as he heard of what was going on he hurried back to Plymouth, and in the first ship he could obtain he sailed towards the fleet in the Calais Roads.
That he was a landholder in Cornwall we learn from a State Paper printed in Appendix A. It had been purchased by Ralegh from Philip Amadas, but on the attainder of the former reverted to the Crown. This Amadas was probably a captain of one of Ralegh’s ships when Virginia was discovered in 1584.
To the foregoing may be added that two branches of the Ralegh family, belonging to the sixteenth century, are noted in An Armory of the Western Counties.*
* By the Rev. S. Baring-Gould and R. Twigge (1898), 40.
These few notes may serve to show that the Ralegh family cannot be excluded from any comprehensive account of Cornwall and of its worthies.
II. Sir W. Ralegh and Wine Licences.
In June, 1580, Walter Ralegh went to Ireland as captain of a troop, and terminated his military service there at the latter end of 1581. In December of that year he was sent by the Deputy, Lord Grey, to England with despatches. The actual date is uncertain, but the following record of payment for his travelling expenses will show he must have been in England before the beginning of 1582:—
“1581. Dec. 31 … paid to Walter Rawley Gent. for bringing letters by post for her Majesty’s affairs from Cork in Ireland 20 l.”*
* Edwards, I, 46, from Harl. MSS., 1644, fo. 77.
Whether the Lord Deputy’s action was a token of the daring bravery Ralegh had displayed on many occasions when in Ireland, or was an easy way of getting rid of him – for between the two men there had been some serious dissensions – is uncertain. Whatever may have been the actual reason, as far as Ralegh was concerned, it proved to be the turning-point in his career. That he was glad to return to England cannot be doubted. In Ireland his pay was small, and there appeared to be no chance of his immediate promotion. He was now thirty years of age, and whereas in previous years he had been a kind of hanger-on in Court circles, he must have been extremely desirous of rising to a higher position, and the time appeared to be a favourable one. His mission from the Lord Deputy would gain him access to the Privy Council, which might lead to obtaining some mark of the Queen’s favour.
Some affirm that Ralegh, with the Lord Deputy, appeared before the Queen and Privy Council when the despatches were read, in which some invidious remarks were made against Ralegh’s conduct; and from these aspersions Ralegh defended himself so vigorously and well that the Queen began to take notice of him. On the other hand, it is affirmed that the Lord Deputy was not in England at the time, nor did he leave Ireland till late in the spring. More probably Ralegh was alone when the despatches were being read, as it scarcely mattered whether the Lord Deputy was present or not. The two well-known anecdotes recorded by Fuller in his Worthies of Devon (1662, I, 261—2), viz. the cloak incident and the writing on the window-pane, some believe to have been the earliest introduction to the Queen’s favour; but this is deemed by Edwards (I, 48) “apochryphal”, and not to be relied on. Even if true, they show that Ralegh must have had previous interviews with her Majesty.
Be that as it may, there were other circumstances that forced themselves on her attention, and we cannot be surprised that she was greatly struck with his handsome and richly dressed person. Sir R. Naunton, who was contemporary with Ralegh, but who as a tool of King James did not act in a friendly way to Ralegh during the last few weeks of his life, could not help bearing favourable testimony to his character and capabilities in these words:—
“He had in the outward man, a good presence, in a handsome and well compacted person, a strong naturall wit, and a better judgement, with a bold and plausible tongue, whereby he could set out his parts to the best advantage, and to these he had the adjuncts of some generall learning, which by diligence he enforced to a great augmentation and perfection.”*
* Fragmenta Regalia (1641), 21.
With all these attributes the Queen soon regarded him as a welcome addition to her Court, where a tall and striking personality would soon be favoured by her. Of his rapid advancement at Court from this period we have ample evidence. A fitting testimony to this was shown in the following year (1583), when she conferred on him the “Farm of Wines”, a monopoly whereby every one who sold wines by retail was required to take out a licence, for which a fee or annual rent was paid to Ralegh. The immediate predecessor of Sir Walter was Sir Edward Horsey, who held the monopoly from 1577 until his death in 1582 (vide post). Each licence was made in triplicate, of which one copy was retained by Ralegh, a second was given to the licensee, and the third was filed in Chancery. Of the last mentioned from one thousand to one thousand two hundred copies are preserved among the State Papers in the Public Record Office.
Three several Patents were granted to Ralegh, and were held by him to the close of Elizabeth’s reign – I. on 4 May, 1583; II. on 9 August, 1588; and III. on 23 November, 1602, four months only before the Queen died.* Throughout the eventful period during which time Ralegh held these Patents the form and text of the licences which he granted thereunder remained much the same.
* Pat. Roll, 25 Eliz., part 9.
At first the grant was made to “Walter Raleigh”, but after his knighthood “Sir” was prefixed to his surname, and in all cases he was stated to be of “Collyton Raleigh”, blanks being left in the form in order to enter the names and addresses of the licensees, etc. It may here be stated that in 1584, the year following her gift to him of the “Farm of Wines”, she bestowed Durham House upon him so that he might be able to dwell near the Court. The text of an early licence is given in the following transcript, and as it has never before been printed it is now given in extenso:—
“THIS INDENTURE TRIPTITE made the XXIXth daye of JULYE in the five and twentith yeare of the raigne of our Soveraigne Ladye Elyzabeth by the grace of God Queene of Englande Fraunce and Irlande defender of the faith &c. Betweene Walter Raleigh of Collyton Raleigh in the Countie of Devon Esquyre of the one partie and WILLIAM CHESBROWGHE OF HORNECASTELL IN THE COUNTIE OF LINCOLNE VYNTENER & WILLIAM CHESBROWGHE HIS SONNE of the other partie WITNESSETH that whereas our sayde Soueraigne Ladye the Queenes Maiestie by her highnesse Letters Patentes bearinge date at Westminster the fourth day of May in the fiue and twentith yere of her Maiesties raigne for diuers consyderations comprysed and conteyned in the sayde Letters Patents hath giuen and graunted full and free lybertie lycence power and authoritie vnto the sayde Walter Raleigh his deputies and assignes and euery of them duringe the terme of twentie and one yeres for such consyderations and summes of money to be payde to his and their owne onely vse as to him or any of them shalbe thought most meete and convenient by wryting tripertite Indented to be made sealed and delyuered by the sayde Walter Raleigh his deputies and assignes or any of them as aforesayde TO GIVE power and authoritie to all and euery such person and persons as by the sayde Walter Raleigh his deputIes and assignes or any of them shalbe thought necessarie and conuenyent duringe the naturall life of euery such person and persons so nominated assigned or appoynted or Wth shalbe so nominated assigned or appoynted by the sayde Walter Raleigh his deputies and assignes or any of them as aforesayde TO KEEPE such number of Taverne or Tavernes over and aboue the number lymited and assigned by one Acte of Parlymente recyted in the sayde Letters Patentes aswell in Citties Boroughes Portes and Market townes as also in other places lymited and appoynted in the sayde acte of Parlyment and also in such other place and places as be omitted and not prouyded for in the sayde statute the sayde statute or any other lawe statute proclamation restraint lymitacion of pryce or other thing whatsoeuer to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding as by the sayde letters patentes more plainly doth and may appeere THE SAIDE Walter Raleigh by force and vertue of the sayde letters patents doth by these presents nominate assigne and appoynt the sayde WILLIAM CHESBROWGHE AND WILLIAM HIS SONNE and also doth giue and graunt full and free lybertie lycence power and authoritie vnto the sayde WILLIAM CHESBROWGHE AND WILLIAM HIS SONNE that HE the sayde WILLIAM THE FATHER by HYM selfe HIS servaunts deputies and assignes or any of them during HIS naturall lyfe and that the sayde WILLIAM CHESBROWGHE after the death of the sayde WILLIAM CHESBROWGHE HIS FATHER if HE shall happen to surviue and over liue HYM by HYM selfe HIS servants deputies and assignes or any of them during HIS naturall life may haue vse and keepe one Taverne or wine Cellar within the sayde TOWNE OF HORNECASTELL aswell within the now mansion howse wherein HE or THEY now dwell or hereafter shall dwell as elsewhere within the sayde TOWNE onely And also to buy sell and vtter in grosse or retale by the Gallon or lesse or greater measure all and euery good holsome wyne and wynes of whatsoeuer kinde nature or name soever the same shalbe at HIS and their pleasure, and at and for what pryce and pryces whatsoeuer to HIS and their most profite commoditie and advantage Any law statute or other thing or matter whatsoeuer to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding PROVIDED neuerthelesse that if French wynes Gascoigne Guyan Rochell and such lyke may be bought for Eleuen poundes the Tonne or vnder not to be sold aboue sixteene pence the gallon and Sacke Malmseyes and all other sweete wynes sauing Muskadell to be bought for eight pounds the Butte or Pipe or vnder not to be solde aboue two shillings the gallon And Muskadell onely to be solde to HIS and their most profite and commoditie The sayde statute or any other lawe statute or proclamation restraynte lymitacion of pryce or other thinge whatsoeuer to the contrary in any wyse notwithstandinge ALL WHICH lybertie lycence power and authoritie our sayde Soueraigne Lady hath promysed by the sayde letters patentes for her her heires and successors not onely that her Justices Barons of the Eschequer Serieaunts at law Attorney and Solicitor generall and other her learned Counsell in the lawes of this Realme shall and will at all and euery tyme and tymes hereafter accepte and alow in all and euery Courte and Courtes of Recorde and other places as a good and suffycient barre release and discharge against her her heyres and successors BUT ALSO that the sayde letters patentes or the enrolement thereof and this Indenture Tripertite being shewed forth and certefyed into the sayde Courte of Chauncerie shalbe a sufiycient warrant to and for the sayde WILLAM AND WILLAM to haue her and their letters patents vnder the great seale of Englande in due forme of lawe to be had and made in HIS and their names according to the purporte and true meaning of these presents And also to the Lorde Chauncellor and Lorde Keeper of the greate scale of Englande and to eyther of them for the tyme beeing a suffycient warrant to make passe and deliver the sayde letters patents vnto the sayde WILLAM CHESBROWGHE AND WILLAM HIS SONNE or any of them vnder the greate seale of Englande without bearing or payinge any other charge than onely such ordinary fees for wrytinge enrollynge examyninge and for the seales of the same both at the Signet Privy scale and Great Seale as heretofore hath beene accustomed to be made and graunted WHERFORE the sayde WILLAM CHESBROWGHE & WILLAM HIS SONNE being nowe lycensed to keepe a Tauerne and to sell wyne as aforesayde doe most humbly require that they may have the Queenes highnesse letters patents vnder the great seale of Englande in due forme of lawe to be made and graunted accordinge to the purporte tenor and effect of this present lycence and accordyng to the true intent and meaning of the letters patentes before in these presents mentioned PROVIDED also that if the sayde WILLAM CHESBROWGHE & WILLAM HIS SONNE their executors admynistrators or assignes do not well and truely content and pay all and euery such summe and summes of money as are mentioned in one obligation or byll obligatorie bearing the date of these presents That then this present lycence and all and euery sentence and clause herein conteyned to be voyde Any thinge in these presents to the contrary notwithstanding
“IN WITNES whereof the parties aboue named to euery parte of these presents their Seales Interchangeably haue put Dated the day and yeare first aboue wrltten
“(Signed) W RALEIGH
by me Wm CHESBROWGHE”*
* Chancery Files, 1610.
The form was printed on vellum from an engraved plate, the text measuring about 16 1/2 in. by 9 in. The earliest notice of it in the Registers of the Stationers’ Co. appears in the following extract:—
1587. “Maij ij do (Licensed to Robert Robinson.)
Entred for his copie in Court holden this day. Th(e) Indenture for Sir WALTER RALEIGH for the licence for Wynes … vj d.*
* Ed. Arber, III, 84.
Two other licences bearing different dates have been collated with the one above quoted, and any variations are duly noted. The following is a brief account of each, containing the names, etc., of those to whom the licences were issued:—
1. Licence to William Chesbrowghe and his son of Horncastle, co. Lincoln, dated 29 July, 1583 (two months only after the date of the Patent).*
* Chancery Files, 1610.
2. Licence to John Kyngeston and his daughter, of Salcombe, co. Devon, dated 26 April, 1593 (the text above quoted in full, vide facsimile)*
* Chancery Files, 1610.
3. Licence to Anne White and her son, of Plymouth, co. Devon, dated 10 November, 1599.*
* S.P. Dom. Eliz., Vol. 273, Case G.. Eliz., No. 11.
In the first licence there are several points of interest to notice.
The large decorated initial letter T contains a shield of arms of six quarterings, the first being those of Sir Walter, viz. five fusils in bend. The shield is surmounted by a knight’s helmet and the Ralegh crest of a stag statant, and with mantling.
The date of the Patent is distinctly stated to be May 4, “in the fiue and twentith yeare of her Maiesties reigne” (1583). Mr. A. L. Simon, the author of the History of the Wine Trade in England (1907, II, 150), assigns it to 9 August, 1588; but this is incorrect, that being the date of the second Patent, as will be shown post. Previous to 1583, Ralegh had been simply “a poor gentleman”, his riches, it is said, having been confined to the rich clothing he wore; but the revenues he now derived from the “Farm of Wines” soon made him a comparatively rich man.
Sir Walter was granted the Patent for twenty—one years. But the licensees held theirs for the term of their natural lives, being continued to the survivor of either. At the base of the document they subscribed their names, and to this was added the official stamp of the pseudo-autograph of Sir Walter.
Although it is alien to this paper to make any extended remarks on the prices of wines detailed in the licence, a few notes are necessary. Spanish wines receive no mention, and were almost unknown in England in the sixteenth century. Those named consist of “French wynes, Gascoigne, Guyan, Rochell, … Sacke, Malmseyes, and all other sweet wynes sauing Muskadell.” Excepting the last named, limitations of prices are recorded. A somewhat similar list will be found in the Act of 7 Edw. VI, c. 5, but the stated prices are lower, and Muskadell is not mentioned. Those interested in the latter part of this subject will find in Simon’s work an extremely valuable list of the prices of wines in England during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.*
* Records, II, 255—291, by A. L. Simon.
The licensees were fully empowered “to buy, sell, and vtter in grosse or retaile, by the gallon or lesse or greater measure, all kinds of wines, and for what pryce and pryces whatsoeuer to his and their most profite … and advantage.” But the licence placed a great restriction on the sellers by recording the prices of certain wines beyond which they were not permitted to charge. In this manner the interests of the consumers were attempted to be safeguarded by the authorities; this was a remnant of the Sumptuary Laws which appear to have been abolished in the reign of James I. That the Government frequently interfered in such matters will be evident from the following paragraph:—
“1576. July 15. The Council to the Lord Mayor of London. Directing him to recall the proclamation fixing the retail prices of wines, until wines may be procured at a lower price than 10 l. the ton.”*
* Cal. S.P. Dom. Eliz., Vol. 108, s. 58.
“1576. Dec. 5. The Council to the Lord Mayor of London. Directing him to take order with the merchants, for the sale of Wines at reasonable prices.”*
* Cal. S.P. Dom. Eliz., Vol. 110, s. 1.
“1576. July. Memorial against the unrestricted liberty of retailing wines, and of the evils likely to ensue thereby.”*
* Ibid., Vol. 108, s. 66.
The last quotation will show there were temperance advocates in the sixteenth century.
The measures used for retailing Wine by the Vintners differed in some places as to the amount of their contents. This was so manifest at Sarum as to be the cause of much contention between the Vintners and the Mayor, and the State Papers contain several references to it. Peace was ultimately restored through the exertions of the Lord Baron, Sir R. Manwood, in a letter dated 3 March, 1583, addressed to the Earl of Pembroke, Steward of the city, from which the following passage is transcribed:—
“Thinks it convenient they should sell and retail by the measures as are used in London, Southampton, Poole, Exeter and Bristol.”*
* Ibid., Vol. 159, s. 3.
Ralegh had power under his grant of Letters Patent to issue licences to persons “to keepe such number of Taverne or Tavernes over and above the number lymited and assigned by one Acte of Parlymente.”* Above the number limited in that Act each licence permitted one to be added. According to another paragraph in the same licence, the holders of the licence may “haue use and keepe one Taverne or wine Cellar within the said Towne … aswell within the now mansion house wherein he or they now dwell”, etc. The wording of the licence seems to be in direct contradiction or defiance of the statute; be this as it may, it is unknown whether this point was ever raised in Parliament or elsewhere.
* 7 Edw. VI, c. 5.
The fourth section of the above-quoted Act runs thus: No one “shall sell utter by Retail any kind of Wine or wines, to be drunk or spent in his or their Mansion House or Houses or other place in his or their Tenure or Occupation by any Colour, Craft, engine or Mean.”
The number of taverns allowed by statute varied a great deal in different places. In London and the city of Westminster three were permitted; in Gloucester and Oxford two was the number, “and no more”.
Looking back to the period when the grant was held by his predecessor Sir E. Horsey, who held it from 1577 until his death on 23 March, 1583, as recorded on his tomb in Newport Church, Isle of Wight.* On this portion of the subject the following quotations from the Cal. S.P. are important:—
* Inf. of the Incumbent, the Rev. H. C. Sharpe.
“1581 (?). The Humble memorial and request of the Clerks of the Signet and Privy Seal, touching their offices, addressed to Sir Thomas Bromley, Lord Chancellor of England.
Reduction of their fees by the grant to Sir Edw. Horsey, for licence for selling wines; by the passing of bills by immediate warrant and by grants of benefices and prebends of small value.”
* Cal. S.P. Dom. Eliz., Vol. 151, s. 58.
Seven short sections relating to the same matter are continued on the same page as the above. The additional subjects consist of manumissions and dispensation to tanners. That the Clerks were not at all backward in “asking for more” is shown in another section on the same page:—
“Note of certain offices that may, if it so please Her Majesty, be granted to the Clerks of the Signet.”
For eleven years no response seems to have been made to the petitions of the Clerks; but in 1592 the following Royal order is recorded:—
“1592. Feb. The Queen to the Lord Keeper. … The fees for licences to sell wines were paid to the clerks of the Signet and Privy Seal until the grant made to Sir Edward Horsey, deceased, since which they have been taken from them, contrary to her intention, and are therefore to be restored.”*
* Ibid., Vol. 241, s. 73.
According to Edwards (I, 66), “Sir Edward Horsey had been paid, it seems by fines, not by yearly rents”. This statement is apparently incorrect. The Clerks complained of their fees being reduced and not as being abolished. They were probably those pertaining to the preparation and issuing of the licences, and had nothing whatever to do with the annual amounts to be paid by the licensees.
The Letters Patent gave Ralegh full “lycence, power and authoritie … for such consyderations and summes of money to be payde to his and their owne onely use.” Moreover, it is provided in the licence that if the licensees do not pay all “such summes of money as are mentioned in one obligation or byll obligatorie … that then this present lycence … to be voyde.”
The licence affords no clue to the fee to be paid by the licensee. That the total sum received was considerable is very probable, inasmuch as at that time he was busily engaged in fitting out his fleet, which sailed in 1584 and discovered Virginia in the same year. His available funds were materially increased by his sub-letting his rights under the Patent to a Richard Brown for £700 (some say £800) a year. The subsequent history of this transaction will be related presently.
According to Stebbing (36), the fee was one pound, and was most probably recorded in the Bond (of which a copy has not been seen by the writer) entered into for the due payment of the annual fee, or else the licence was forfeited. The document issued on 26 April, 1593, contains the names of two of the bondholders, George Raleigh being one. He must have been Sir Walter’s elder step-brother, who died 22 February, 1598, and was buried in the church of Withycombe Ralegh.
The attempt to enforce the wine licences in the two University towns caused great annoyance, trouble, and expense to Ralegh. His agent in Cambridge, a vintner named John Keymer, endeavoured in 1584 to carry out his directions and collect the fees for the licences. A riot ensued; both Town and Gown joined in the fray, during which Keymer’s wife was severely maltreated. On 9 July, 1584, Ralegh wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge, reporting the “hard part and riotouse demeanor done by some of your Universitye, which I can as yet but take in contempte of her Majesties Graunt to me.” He notes he had offered to place the matter before the “Councell”, but the offer was refused. Requires “some reformacion or correction to be done to the malefactors.” … “I doe rest assured that yourselves will take such directe and lawfull course herein.” Although he asked for a reply, we have no record of his having received one; nor did he again write until after the lapse of nine months, when he sent his second epistle, dated 10 February, 1584 o.s., relating to the “unseemly outrages lately committyted by the young and unbridled hedds of the same, in contempte of the Quenes Majesties Prerogatyve”, etc. Complains of the unjust and unlawful treatment of Keymer, who he is informed must appear “before yow”, and to prevent him from following his trade. Expresses the hope of the proceedings against him “will be with him just and lawfull.” He again wrote on 20 February in a tone of indignation at the “peremptory” proceedings in having committed Keymer to prison unlawfully, “yoursealves supposing a privilege by Charter.” He ends by declaring he “would try the uttermost of my rights”, and alludes to no answer having been sent to his last letter.*
* From the Baker MSS. in the Univ. Lib. Cambridge. Reprinted in Edwards, II, 24-9.
Cooper in his Annals of Cambridge states that “on the 19th of February 1584-5”, Keymer was “for selling wine without lawful licence committed to prison by Dr. Norgate, Vice-chancellor. … On the 2nd of December 1586 Dr. Copcott, Vice-Chancellor, released Keymer from custody, but warned and forebad him not thereafter to sell wine within the Town of Cambridge or the suburbs of the same either in gross or by retaile, under the penalty of £10 per month”.*
* Vol. V, pp. 317 at seq., 431—6, from Baker MSS., 431-6.
Both sides communicated their views to the Chancellor, Lord Burghley, but the old peer was very cautious and would not venture an opinion of his own, and referred the whole matter to two of the judges, who decided against the claims of Ralegh on the question of privilege, and so the matter ended. Lord Burghley’s letter enclosing the decision of the judges will be found in Appendix B.
We may feel assured that both the civil authorities, as well as those of the University of Oxford, were fully alive to the proceedings that were taking place in Cambridge with respect to the attempted enforcement of the wine licences, and of their satisfaction at the decision given by the judges that it was against their established privileges – privileges of so long standing that no Royal order could set aside.
That for the time being it was the cause of much uneasy feeling and anxiety in that city is manifest from a long account of it in their Municipal archives copied in the Records of Oxford, by W. H. Turner (1880, 214).
All the events are arranged in chronological order; but this particular record is wrongly dated 1553, a year when Ralegh was only twelve months old. It should be 1584 or 1585. It is headed, “Touchinge the University charters for ye sellinge of wine” (vide Appendix C).
After the result of the Cambridge fiasco, we need not be surprised that Oxford escaped any trouble connected with these licences.
The following paragraph belongs to this period:—
“Drafting indenture setting forth what the ‘Vintners, sellers and drawers of wine in the burrough of Plymouth, have time out of mind paid and ought of right yearly to pay vnto the Mayor and Commonalty.’ Undated, the 16th century.” (Plymouth Municipal Records, ed. R. N. Worth, 1889, 234.)
PATENT No. II. (Pat. Roll, 30 Eliz., part 6).
This has a somewhat curious history, and our earliest knowledge respecting it is a letter from Ralegh to Sir Thomas Egerton, at that time Solicitor-General, the full text of which runs thus:—
“Sir Whereas the Quene’s Majestie hath heretofore given unto me by her Letters Patentes, authoritie to graunte Licences for the sellinge of Wynes by retayle; her Highnes pleasure is to revoke and make voyde the same, and by new Letters Patentes to graunte unto me the authoritie and benefytt thereof for a further terme of yeres. Wherefore, I pray you hartely to peruse the drafte which this bearer, my servante, shall bring unto you, and sett your hande thereunto, redie for her Highnes to signe, and I wilbe redie to requyte your courtesie So hopinge your carefull delinge for me, accordinge to my requeste, I bid you hartely farewell.
Your lovinge Frend,
“The 8th of March, 1587” (legal style).*
* Edwards, II, 40.
Sir T. Egerton endeavoured to dissuade him from this course, but without effect, as on 9 August of the same year (1588) the cause of this great change is thus affirmed in the Patent:—
“Sondrye abuses and inconveniences have happened by and through the deputies of the said Sir Walter Ralegh by collor and pretence of the said deputacons by reason that the same were contryved and made in more large and ample sorte then by vertue of our said letters Patentes or by the true intencion of the said Sir Walter Ralegh they should or ought to have bene Whereby hath ensued muche troble and disquiet to dyvers our good and lovynge subiects and greate piudice and hynderance to the said Sir Walter Ralegh contrarye to the true meanynge and intent of our said graunt.”
On this subject consult:—
“1585 (?). Exactions under the grant of wines to Sir Walter Raleigh.”*
* Cal. S.P.D. Eliz., Vol. 185, s. 67.
Ralegh was often unfortunate in trusting those who were unworthy of it. He sublet the “Farm” to Richard Brown, with whom he had many disputes and ultimately litigation. There can be little doubt that Brown, as after events proved, was a fraudulent fellow, and acted as such throughout his entire connection with Ralegh. He came under the notice of the Privy Council, and that body in May, 1589, made the following order:—
“That the said Richard Brown shall … deliver unto … Sir Walter Ralegh copies of all the books concerning the matter in variance … the said Brown to grant no licenses and to receive no monies until further order by us herein.”
But Brown continued his dishonest practices, “and under the power of the assigned patent, considerably increased the number of licensees, so as to raise the aggregate rental to about eleven hundred pounds a year. Four hundred pounds a year he contrived to keep to himself during the lives of the tenants in being, having taken their bonds in his own name. His (Ralegh’s) maximum revenue from the farm, for all England and Wales was about eleven hundred pounds a year.”*
* Acts of the Privy Council, 1589, p. 166; Edwards, I, 63-66; Stebbing, 36.
An examination of the dates will show that between the revocation of the first Patent on 4 May, 1588, and the granting of the second one on 9 August of the same year, no new licences could legally be given to licensees; but after our knowledge of the proceedings of R. Brown, some of the old forms were probably given to holders for the sake of the fees.
The most important point in the second Patent consisted in the extension of the duration of the time granted to Ralegh, which was from twenty-one years to thirty—one.*
* In the Cal. S.P.D. Eliz., Vol. 273, the period of thirty years is noted – an evident error.
There is one other curious point to be noticed with regard to this licence set out above. It will be noticed that the date is 26 April, 1593; that is to say, after the revocation of the first Patent and the granting of the second, which took place in 1588. On looking at the text, however, it will be seen to be the first Patent which is recited as the authority for the granting of the licence. The explanation is, of course, simply that the old form of licence which was in use before the revocation of the first Patent was apparently continued to be used thereafter.
PATENT No. III. (Pat. Roll, 45 Eliz., part 6).
The second Grant of 1588 was itself succeeded by a third, and was under the Privy Seal of Elizabeth dated 23 November, 1602, one year only prior to her death. By its provisions the term granted to Ralegh by the second Patent was now ordered to revert to the original period of twenty-one years.
In the Patent Roll the whole of the engrossing of the second grant is cancelled by a set of crossed diagonal lines in ink. At its commencement there is a long note in contracted Latin, dated 24 November, 1602, to the effect that the grant was cancelled by Sir Walter surrendering the Patent on that day, and bears the signatures (autographs) of “Sir Thos. Egerton” and “W. Ralegh”. On this being done Ralegh received the new Patent (3rd) dated on the previous day.
Apparently based solely on the statements contained in A Compleat History of Mary Queen of Scots and of James, as well as in An Answer to a Scurrilous Pamphlet, etc., both published in 1656 and written by Sir W. M. Sanderson, it is affirmed that Ralegh leased the licence under the second Patent to him; and the information is thus epitomized by Stebbing: “The lessee was William Sanderson, the husband of his (Ralegh’s) niece, Margaret Snedale. At a later period he had disputes with Sanderson … on the profits. By an account of 1592, he estimated them at a couple of thousand a year” (36). There is no allusion to this matter in any of the standard biographies (except that of Stebbing), nor in any of the State Papers that have yet been examined. Margaret Snedale was the granddaughter of Ralegh’s brother Carew.
On the death of the Queen, whose faithful servant he had been for twenty years, his position, income, and everything belonging to him underwent a sudden and complete change. Before the close of the fatal year 1603 he had been condemned to die for alleged high treason, of which, as affirmed by the historian S. R. Gardiner, he was “undeniably innocent”. He was deprived of all offices and sources of income, and was literally turned out of his dwelling. Even the residence at Sherborne, which belonged to his son, was forfeited on account of an alleged flaw in the deed of ownership. The sole mercy shown him consisted in his reprieve from execution and in lieu thereof being sent to the Tower to be imprisoned for many years. Everything belonging to him was forfeited to the King.
On 7 November, 1603, four days only after his arrival in England, James issued a proclamation concerning those monopolies which still remained in force, commanding all persons to abstain from making use of them till they could satisfy the Council that they were not prejudicial to the King’s subjects. The patentees were accordingly allowed to state their case before the Council, and the greater part of the existing monopolies were called in. No doubt this was done by the advice of the Council.*
* S. R. Gardiner, History of England (1883), I, 100—1.
Our earliest information respecting the wine licences after the attainder of Ralegh is the following:—
“1604. April 28. The King to (John) Shelbury. Appoints him his officer in granting and gathering the rents, revenues, &c., of wine licences, which the Council have determined shall be continued, but yet they have not been able to settle the business.”*
* Cal. S.P. Jac. I, Vol. 6, s. 84.
“1604. Feb. 8. Grant to John Shelbury and Robt. Smith of such goods, debts, &c., reverting to the Crown by attainder of Sir Walter Raleigh, as are not already paid into the Exchequer.”*
* Ibid., Vol. VI, s. 53.
We pass on to consider a matter, as to which there has been a divergence of opinion, as to whether the Earl of Nottingham had the Patent given him by the King, under which he was able to issue wine licences for his own personal benefit, or whether he simply acted as the Kings agent or deputy. The earliest intimation relating to this matter is noted in the following transcript:—
“1604. Dec. 8. Grant to the Earl of Nottingham and Lord Effingham his son, to treat with persons holding taverns for fines for licences, &c. …”*
* Cal. S.P. Jac. I, Vol. 10, s. 56.
This is evidently the entry on which writers have relied for affirming that the Earl held the Patent on his own account. But on referring to the full text in the State Paper, as shown in the following transcript, another explanation seems necessary:—
“A warrant granted by his Majestie unto the Earl of Nottingham and to the Lo: of Effingham his sonne to treate from tyme to tyme by such persons as they or either of them shall appoint with any person holding any Taverne for some reasonnable Fyne and consideracons as well for License to be made to persons of honest conversacon for XXI yeares or 3 Liues or under in possession for selling of wynes by retaile within the Realme of England as for dispensation for offences of that kinde past contrary to the Statute in that behalfe, provided, The said Fynes and consideracons to be unto the said E and L of Effingham. Dated at Westminster the VIIIth of December 1604. Passed by Mr. Faunt.”
This is clearly not the grant of a Patent, but simply an authority for the Earl to act as the King’s deputy. Nevertheless it was this “grant” that led to the piteous letter of Lady Ralegh to Lord Viscount Cranborne, in protest of the Earl’s apprOpriation of the emoluments attached to it. A copy of her letter is given in Appendix E, but no answer to it is recorded. Her letter is dated “1603” (?) by Edwards (II, 408), but the extract from the calendar shows it must have been written some time after the above—quoted warrant. The last-named author states: “The Lord Admiral Nottingham succeeded Ralegh in the lucrative office of Patentee of wine licences. The Taverners soon found themselves to be far from gaining by the change.” To this he adds this important note: “I have been unable to trace any grant of this office of farm of wines to Lord Nottingham. The statement in the text is founded on Lady Ralegh’s letter.”*
* Ibid., I, 458.
The authority under which the Earl was empowered to act was not allowed to lie dormant, and the licensees soon found they had to deal with a sharper master, and, as a consequence, the income derived from the wine licences became rapidly larger. The following examples will display the activity of the agents who acted under Lord Nottingham. They are transcribed from the Letter Books contained in the Municipal Records of Exeter.*
* For which I am indebted to Prof. W. J. Harte.
Letter 114, and dated 11 February, 1604, o.s. “The Privy Council notifies to the Mayor that at the suit of the Earl of Nottingham the Lords of the Council have appointed Thos. Isack gentleman & Geo. Leach clothier to be commissioners to receive compositions from & grant licences to Vintners & Taverners at Exeter.”
Letter 115, dated 1 March, 1694, o.s. “The Mayor was to call on all Taverners who had not taken out the new licences & compel them to do so.”
Letter 117, dated 27 July, 1695. “The Mayor is upbraided for negligence in enforcing the last order, and is ordered to compel the Vintners to comply with the order, otherwise the Mayor is to shut up their doors.”
Professor Harte remarks: “Evidently the local authorities were passive resisters.”
The State Papers from 1610 et seq. contain records of many grants of wine licences, but whether they were additional to those already granted is not stated; but in view of the increasing income from this source it is probable they were entirely new ones, perhaps from the laxity of the local authorities, as shown in the Exeter letters above quoted.
If there be any doubt as to the King’s retaining the issue of wine licences for his own personal benefit, the next extracts from the Cal. S.P. Dom. Jac. I, Vol. 56, s. 13, should remove it:—
“1610. July (?). Declaration by the King that the granting of wine licenses is a branch of Royal prerogative, pronounced lawful by the Council and judges, and confirming those already granted.”*
* Cal. S. P. Jac. I, Vol. 56, s. 13.
.“1618. Nov. 20. Note by Sir Lionel Cranfield that the King promises not to licence more than four retailers of wines 1n the town of Greenwich.”*
*Ibid., Vol. 103, s. 100.
The Commons had been gradually opposing the Royal prerogative, and on 7 July, 1619, had petitioned the King for a redress of grievances, and amongst them is specially mentioned that of the wine licences.*
* Cal. S.P. Jac. I, Vol. 56, s. 10.
In a speech he made in Parliament on 21 May, 1610, he (James) said he would “not allow his prerogative to be called in Question.”* That the King continued to retain the powers over the licences will be manifest from the next entry:—
* Ibid., Vol. 54 s. 65.
“1618. June 15. Commission to Lord Treasurer Suffolk to pay £5400 to Sir William Cockaigne out of the issues upon licences of wine.”*
* Ibid., Vol. 97, s. 106.
It was most probably to appease the Parliament that the Act of 21 Jac. I, c. 3, was passed, by which all monopolies, etc. etc., were abolished as being, according to sec. I, “altogether contrary to the Laws of this Realm”. But after the sweeping assertion in the first section, whereby all monopolies were to be got rid of, there were sundry exceptions to it. Under the twelfth section the Act was not to apply to any grant, Letters Patent, etc., “heretofore granted or hereafter to be granted, of for or concerning the licencing of the keeping of any Tavern or Taverns or selling uttering or retailing Wines to be drunk or spent in the Mansion House or Houses, or any other place in the Tenure or occupation of the Party or Parties so selling or uttering the same; or for or concerning the making of any composition for such Licences so as the benefit of such composition be reserved and applied to and for the Use of His Majesty his Heires or Successors and not for the private use of any other Person or Persons.”
That the monopoly of the Wine licences continued through the rest of James’s reign into the reign of his successor, and for some years after, will be evident from the next extract, as follows:—
“1638. Jan. (6). Of the increase of the profitts which generally hath byn made by Wine Licences since the 12th of Elizabeth.”*
* Cal. S.P. Charles 1.
The first-mentioned is Sir E. Horsey, who received £500 per annum. Under his successor, Sir W. Ralegh, it increased to £1299 yearly. _He was followed by the Earl of Nottingham and his son, who made “by their commission” at its best £2768 1s. 8d. per annum. To them succeeded Sir Lionel Cranfield, who received £2821 17s. 11d. in addition to £643 00s. 08d. yearly for “Arrears”. The last on the list is John Williams, the statement of whose receipts seems to be rather involved, but is set down as £2952 7s. 8d, in addition to £683 12s. as arrears.
The Commonwealth put a stop to all monopolies.
III. “Ralegh” and “Raleigh”.
Although the modern place names, Ralegh and Pilton, are not mentioned in the Domesday Book of Devonshire, they are, according to the Domesday Identifications of the late Mr. R. N. Worth¹ and the Rev. 0. J. Reichel,² represented in it by Radeleia and Pillanda. That the small manor of Ralegh was the cradle of the family of that name is generally admitted. The author of the Records of the Rawle Family remarks, “the original seat of the Raleghs was at Ralegh in Pilton, near Barnstaple” (6). But, curiously enough, on another page is this entry: “RAWLEIGH, the original seat of the Ralegh family in England” (130). In this the terminal “-leigh” was not used by the Raleghs for several centuries after the Conquest.
1. D.A., XXV, 334, 335.
2. Ibid., XXXIII, 633, 634.
By what change or succession of changes, phonetic or otherwise, Radeleia of Domesday gradually merged into Ralegh of the latter part of the twelfth century is at present unknown. At that period many variants of the name are on record: Raule, Rawle, Rale, Raley, Raleg, Ralega, Raleia, etc. It is possible that the first three on this list may have been dissyllables, in which case the addition of y would explain several changes in the surname. Thus Rale would become Raley, the name of the Bishop of Winchester of the thirteenth century. Raule would be Rauley, the name Sir Walter signed when he was a captain in Ireland. Then Rawle became Rawley, the name of Bacon’s “learned Chaplain”.
The foregoing list assists us in another way. The change from Radeleia to Ralegh may possibly have arisen from one of two causes. (1) From a mistake of the scribe, who made occasional errors; and (2) by the elision of de from the first-named word, so as to form Raleia; and this accords with the entry in Pole’s work that the name was “aunciently written de Ralega, and de Raleia” (403).
The biographer of the Rawle family adduces “evidence in support of the theory that Rawle and Ralegh are but variants of the same name.”* At an early period there were many branches of the Ralegh family (Pole mentions five in Devonshire). The Rawle branch seems to have migrated into Somersetshire not long after Domesday, and the name still continues there, but the Raleghs are now to be found in this county.
* Records, etc., 5.
A list of a large number of variants of the original name, Ralegh, will be found in D.A., XVIII, 451. This was certainly the family patronymic of the ancestors of Sir Walter for several centuries down to the middle of the sixteenth century, as a reference to Feudal Aids will demonstrate. At the same time the phonetic form of the name was frequently employed by the family and by their friends. From about 1550 the original name was adhered to, but after that date the name of Raleigh was introduced and rapidly increased, and in the nineteenth century writers generally with the public rarely used any other form. It is true that biographers and historians, such as Oldys, Edwards, and Stebbing, have devoted much attention to the subject, and adhered to the old surname; nevertheless many eminent literary men, such as Andrew Lang, Dr. Garnett, and Bishop Creighton, cited the Raleigh surname. The well-known historian S. R. Gardiner, in his History of England (all editions), employed the same form; but in his last work, Britain under James I, saw reason to change his opinion and fell back on the original Ralegh (Cambridge Modern History, III, 549—7 8).
There is a curious tendency in some writers, usually due to indifference in referring to proper authorities, to change the ordinary surname of a family or of an individual in their writings. A notable example of this may be cited in that of “William de Raleigh, Bishop of Winchester”, and so noted in Cassan’s Lives of the Bishops of that See; in Foss’s Lives of the Judges; and in the Dictionary of National Biography. Again, in Prince’s Worthies, and in E. J. Rawle’s Records, etc., he is called Ralegh. Whereas in Godwin’s Bishops of England (editions of 1601 and 1611) and in Bishop Stubbs’ work on the Episcopal Succession in England (1858) he is entered as “William de Raley”. Now, as the latter died in 1250, it is evident he could not have the name of Raleigh, as the term was not employed till the sixteenth century.
Another Raleigh case may be alluded to here. In 1700 there was published An Abridgement of Sir Walter Raleigh’s History of the World, and according to the title-page it was “Publish’d by PHILLIP RALEIGH Esquire, the only Grandson to Sir Walter.” (It did not appear in the original edition of 1696.) Now all the direct descendants of Sir Walter had the surname of Ralegh, and his grandson Phillip was no exception to the rule, as will be manifest by the following facsimile of his autograph.*
* Copies from Harrison’s Raleigh Pedigree. (Vide Plate II, d.)
Respecting the introduction and prevalent use of Raleigh, two causes may have operated to the promotion of this result:—
I. The wine licence which Sir Walter was empowered to issue in 1583 and subsequent years contains his name as Raleigh (vide Plate II, a), repeated several times in the document. It is repeated in the place name, as well as in the fictitious autograph at the base (an i having been inserted in an original autograph). A copy of this licence was required to be taken out by every vintner and retailer of wine; so that one would be circulated in every village and town throughout the kingdom, and Sir Walter’s name must soon have been known to every person.
II. Whereas the children of Sir Walter retained their original patronymic, the descendants of his brother Carew appear to have adopted that of Raleigh at an early period. The second son of the latter was Dean of Wells. The Rev. W. Raleigh was the author of Reliquiae Raleighanae, published in 1679.
Amanuenses, copyists, heralds, and officials were the careless causes of many variants of the name, in which the public generally followed suit. Six heralds’ pedigrees are recorded in D.A. XXXII, 317—331, and in each the surname differs. In one, Rawley is continued through the whole of the descents. In a second, Ralega heads the list, all the rest being Raleigh. Raley appears in the first pedigree, the remaining descents bearing no surnames.
In one by W. W. Yerley (Rouge Croix, 1604—18) there are thirteen descents; all are noted as Raleigh except the eighth, which is Rauleigh. Pole has Ralegh throughout his work; whereas there is a facsimile of a pedigree by Henry St. George, Windsor Herald, of thirteen descents, all noted as Rawleigh.* The pedigrees in the Visitations of Devon, by Col. Vivian, contain many variations.
* Edwards, I, 8.
That Ralegh and not Raleigh was the proper name of Sir Walter and his predecessors of many generations is the only conclusion that we can arrive at, in this supplement to “A Plea for a Surname”, a paper that appeared in the Transactions of this Association in 1886.*
* D.A., XVIII, 450—61.
IV. “Ralegh” as a Place Name.
Several parishes and districts in Devonshire have double place names in which “Ralegh” forms the second part. The question is not unfrequently asked whether such names had anything to do with Sir Walter Ralegh. To this a decided negative may be given.
From an early period of English history every family that held landed property derived their surnames from the district or parish where their land was situated. To this they linked, by means of the territorial de, the Christian name of the owner. After the lapse of several centuries the de was eliminated. In several places in Devonshire, and at a later period, the reverse of this took place when the property differed in name from that borne by the owner; then his name was added as a separate word to the place name. Of this we have the four following examples. They are so clearly described in Pole’s Devonshire, from which the various accounts are taken:—
1. “COLATON RALEGH was in Kinge Henry 3 tyme (1216—72) given in marriage unto Sir Wimond de Ralegh, by Robert de Chilton, with Constance his daughter, & hath continewed in the name of Ralegh unto Sir Walter Ralegh which hath lately sold the same.”*
* Pole, 162—3.
In the wine licence quoted in extenso in Section II, it is termed “Collyton Raleigh”. In the first edition of Risdon’s Survey of Devonshire, published in 1714, it is called “Collaton” (II, 80); but in the second, issued in 1811, it appears as “Colyton or Colliton” (25). As there is another Colyton in the Axe valley, some confusion ensues at times.
2. “COMB RALEGH parish lieth in Axminster hundreds. This place hath often altered in name, first named Comb singlely, after Comb Baunton, & Comb Mathew … in Kinge Edw. 2 tyme Walter de Sutton after him Sir John Ralegh, of Beaudport, removed his dwellinge unto this place; whereupon it tooke the addicion of Ralegh, & contyneweth unto this day.”*
* Pole, 131—2.
The frequent change of name is noteworthy.
3. “STRETE RALEGH taketh his name of the great street way which passeth through it, & of the names of the lords & owners thereof. … The first Ralegh that I finde to have had this land was in Kinge Henry 3 tyme named Sir Henry de Ralegh unto whom succeeded Sir Henry de Ralegh de Strete, & Sir Henry de Ralegh the third, whom did follow Sir John de Ralegh, of Beaudport, Kt., & Sir John Ralegh, the last of the family.”*
* Ibid., 161.
4. “WITHECOMBE CLAVIL aunciently, now WITHECOMB RALEGH, the names of addicion from the owners thereof, first Clavil, & the last Ralegh. It hath bine many discents in the name of Ralegh, of Smaleridge, or Fardell, & by Sir Carew Ralegh sold unto George Ralegh, base sonne unto George, elder brother unto Sir Carew, whose sonne doth nowe enjoy it.”*
* Ibid., 155.
George and John, the two elder sons of Walter, were buried in Withecomb Church.
The alteration from Ralegh to Raleigh, so generally employed from the middle of the sixteenth century, does not appear to have been followed immediately by a change in that of the place names; but from the beginning of the next century it also became common. It was not confined to the Ralegh patronymic, but extended to such places that ended in “ley” or “legh”. Thus Budley and Hatherley became respectively Budleigh and Hatherleigh. In Pole’s work the old form of spelling was retained.
There is a Cutcombe Ralegh in Somersetshire.
V. Ralegh’s “Epitaph”.
Ralegh was executed on 29 October, 1618, the day after he had been brought before the judges at Whitehall, and although he pleaded for a day or two so as to arrange his worldly affairs it was denied him. The King was imperative that he should be executed without delay, and had already signed the death-warrant and then had gone hurriedly into the country. Such was James’s idea of justice and mercy.
Removed to the Gatehouse at Westminster, he received farewell visits from his friends; then came the parting interview with his wife, followed by that with Dr. Tounson, the Dean of Westminster, who had received orders from the Council to visit Ralegh in prison and on the scaffold. The Dean was apparently the last person whom he saw prior to his removal to the place of execution. His interview with him must have been a long one, and was described very fully in a letter he addressed to Sir John Isham, dated 9 November, 1618.¹ He states that after Ralegh “had received the Communion in the Morning, he was very cheerful and merry, and hoped to persuade the World that he dyed an innocent Man.” “He was”, remarked the Dean, “the most fearlesse of Death that ever was known; and the most resolute and confident, yet with reverence and conscience.” We can hardly surmise as to the time when he wrote his “Answer to some things at his Death”;² we know not, possibly at intervals during the afternoon. They are recorded in Edwards, II, 494—5 as his “Second Testamentary Note”. They were due to his fear that he might not be allowed to make a speech while on the scaffold. However, when there he made a long one, and it is reported that the sheriff was reproved for allowing it. That remarkable couplet:—
“Cowards may fear to die; but courage stout,
Rather than live in snuff, will be put out”
was probably written by Ralegh at this time. It is probable that before he lay down to rest for a brief period he wrote the following memorable and well-known lines in his Bible:—
“Even such is Time which takes in trust
Our Youth, our joys, and all we haue,
And payes us but with age and dust,
Which in the darke and silent graue,
When we have wandred all our wayes,
Shuts up the story of our dayes:
And from which Earth, and graue, and dust,
The Lord shall raise me up I trust.”
1. Vide Collectanea Curiosa. (1781), II, 421—4.
2. Cayley, ‘Life of Sir Walter Ralegh’, II, 190.
Ten years after Ralegh’s execution there appeared on the dorso of the last leaf of The Prerogative of Parliaments, a work “Written by the worthy (much lamented and learned) Sir Walter Raleigh, Knight, deceased.” Stated to have been printed at “Midelburge 1618”. There were several issues of this work, some with the same imprint; while others had “Hamburg” substituted for “Midelburge”.*
* Vide Bibliography of Ralegh (1908), 123.
The work was printed surreptitiously and issued with a spurious imprint, London being the place where it was most probably printed and published. James I died on 27 March, 1625, and up to the time of his death the censorship was very strict, anything relating to Sir W. Ralegh being especially tabooed. The sole work of his that was issued during James’s reign being the History of the World, which, after its publication, a strong attempt was made to suppress, but failed. The Prerogative of Parliaments does not appear in the Registers of the Stationers’ Co., and we may feel sure was not submitted to the censor. It was issued in the third year of Charles I, and the censorship seems to have been gradually relaxed to a certain extent. Apart from the certainty of the “Epitaph” being widely circulated in MS., the general knowledge of it would be increased by the printed version. And yet it remained dormant, as far as the press was concerned, until it reappeared in the Chap Book tract of “To-day a man, to—morrow none”, printed in 1644.
There can be little doubt that the verse already quoted in full, was as nearly as possible similar to Ralegh’s MS. This form will be found in all the standard biographies; also in many MSS. among the State Papers, in the Harleian MSS., in those in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and in the University Library at Cambridge.
Minor variations are contained in most of the copies, such as in the varying positions of the relative pronouns “who” and “which.” In a few, “earth” replaces “age” in the third line. A more distinct one is found in several collections of Ralegh’s poetry. Thus, in Reliquiae Wottoniae, the last line reads:—
“My God shall raise me up I trust.”
This version is used by Stebbing, and by Sir E. Brydges in his Poems of Ralegh, published in 1813. Dr. Hannah (Courtly Poets, 1870, 54) adopts the same words; and in a footnote enumerates a number of works in which it is “found”.
A singular version comes to us from an American source in a pamphlet entitled:—
“The Confession and Execution of SIR WALTER RALEIGH, by the Hon. Robert C. Winthrop.”
“Read at a meeting of the Massachusetts Historical Society on 11 September, 1873, the above-named paper on the execution of Ralegh, which had been found in a Common Place Book, of his ancestor, Adam Winthrop, the father of Governor WINTHROP.”*
* Transcribed from the proceedings of that Society’s pamphlet, p. 16
The same book also contains in MS. a copy of the familiar lines said to have been found in Sir Walter’s Bible after his death, with some variations from the commonly received version, as follows:—
“Even so dooth tyme take up withe truste,
Our youthe, and ioies and al we have;
And paies us but wth age and duste,
In darkenes, scilence and the grave,
So havinge wandred all our waes,
Shuttes up the story of our daies.
From darkenes, silente, age and duste,
The Lord shal raise me up I truste.”
Until a recent period Ralegh’s “Epitaph”, as it is frequently designated, was generally believed to have been composed by Ralegh in its entirety on the night previous to his execution. We now learn, through the researches of Mr. A. H. Bullen, that such is not the case. The first six lines are almost a replica of a poem written by him (Ralegh) in the days of his bachelorhood, some years prior to his marriage with Elizabeth Throgmorton. Mr. Bullen unearthed it from the Harl. MSS., 6917, f. 28. It is there headed, “A Poem of Sir Walter Raleigh”, and consists of six verses of six lines each, of which the following is a transcript of the first verse:–
“Nature that wash’d her hands in milk
And had forgot to dry them,
Instead of earth took snow and silk
At Love’s request to try them,
If she a mistress could compose
To please Love’s fancy out of those.”
It is printed at length in Speculum Amantis (1889), 76—7. The fifth verse is somewhat coarse; but the last, of the most interest to us in this inquiry, runs thus:—
“O cruel Time which takes in trust,
Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
And pays us but with age and dust;
Who in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wander’d all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days.”
We feel assured these lines were written by Ralegh, and were utilized by him on his last night on earth.
If carefully examined, it is at once seen only six lines of the later version are contained in them; also that the first three words contrast strongly with those of the latter.
“O cruel Time” is a reproach against Time for depriving us of all our earthly pleasures, without the slightest allusion to any hope beyond the grave. But in his old age, chastened by misfortunes continued for fifteen years, he softened these lines to “Even such is Time”. “All” is omitted, and in lieu of anything like reproach, we have that additional couplet which throws a halo of religious feeling over the whole of the lines preceding it. The original six-line verse does not contain a particle of religious sentiment; it is essentially Pagan, and might have been recited at a Pompeian banquet or at a Medicean supper.
P.S. — Owing to the defective eyesight of the writer, this paper could not have been compiled had it not been for the valuable assistance he received from his daughter, Mrs. Shepherd, as well as from his nephew, Mr. Harold C. Brushfield. To the latter he is under especial obligations for his researches among the State Papers in the Public Record Office, whereby much information was obtained of the history of the wine licences that were issued in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
“To our right trusty and right welbeloved cousin and Counsellor Robert Earle of Salisbury our high Trer of England, Right trusty and welbeloved cousin and Counsellor we greet you well. At the humble sute of John Shelbery gent, and for divers good causes and consideracons us at this pnte moving we are pleased to graunt unto him and his assigns a lease in possession of certain landes lying in our county of Cornewall heretofore purchased by Sir Walter Raleigh Knight of Phillip Amadas gent, deceased, and afterwards evicted from the said Sir Walter Raleigh by the heires of the said Amadas, without restitucon of such some of money as was by the said Raleigh paid to the said Amadas for the said landes. The right whereof ought to apptaine to us by the attainder of the said Raleigh for the term of yeares and at such Rent as now yelded for the said landes by the Tenntes thereof. Wherefore we will and require you to give order to some of our learned Councells to cause a Booke to be drawne in due forme conteyning a lease of the said landes with their appurtenances to be by us graunted to the said John Shelbery and his assigns for the terme of years above mentioned for the yearly Rent now reserved for the same and without fyne in regard the said Shelbery is yet ingaged in sondry somes of money for the said Raleigh and with such other clauses and covenantes as in like leases have ben usuall and accustomed And the same by you and our said Councill subscribed to send unto us to passe our signature and seales as apperteyneth And this our tres shalbe your sufficient warrant and discharge in this behalf. Given under our Signet at (sic).”
“To my verie loving Frend Mr D. Norgate, Vicechanc. &c. After my verie hartie Commendacions: Whereas uppon the Question growen to the infringing of your Charter, wherby you pretend to have authority by the same to nominate such persons as should sell anie wine in that Universitye, & for the setting of prices uppon the same wine, I was bold to require my two Lordes the Chief Justices to deliver their opinions in lawe, how farre forth you might so doe, which after the hearing of your Counsell, & the adverse parties, they have delivered their opinions to be such as is expressed in this Paper included, subscribed with my hand, being a doble of that which they sent unto me, subscribed with both of their handes. And therefore you shall doe well to acquaint your learned Counsell therewith. & according to their opinions, how farre furth you maie procede thearin by lawe, to maintaine the same accordingly, & to impeach all others, Which should goe abowte to impugne the same. So fare you well. From the Court this 26th of Julie 1585.
“Your verie Lovinge Frend,
“For the matter towching the University of Cambridge and Mr Rawleie, for the nomination of Vinteners, and setting price of Wine theare.
“First towching the nominacion of Vinteners theare, we think it apperteineth to the Universitye by usage & Charters from her Majestie confirmed by Parlement & that Mr. Rawleie can nominate none theare.
“For the price it seemeth, theie maye sett prices, so as it be according to the Statute & not otherwise, & if the Vinteners sell at higher prices, theie are to be punished by lawe, with Penaltie Mr. Rawleie may dispence withall, & yet cannot sewe for the Penalty by his Patent against the Statute lawes, for thearin all liberties to the Universitye is excepted.
“W. Burghley. C. Wraye. Ed. Anderson.”*
* From Baker MSS., Vol. XXIX, pp. 344, 345, University Library, Cambridge.
“(1553) Touchinge the University charters for the sellinge of wine.
“The Mayor of the City of Oxon and the Vice-Chauncler of the University doe by virtue of the statuts of Edward the sixt, challenge free libertie to sett uppe sixe Vintners to sell Wine by retaile within the same City, and suburbs, viz 3 for the City and 3 for the University and noe more as ever hath beene used since the statute. And as touchinge the prices, assise, and assay of Wines the Universitie hath the liberties by charter within the same City and Universitie to rate the same both for all citizens, and priviledged persons, and others which shaall retaile wynes their accordinge to their ancient liberties and customes and privilidges that are saved by the said statute.
“Soe that noe citizens above the number of three nor any priviledged persons of the Universitie above the number of three, may sell Wines by retaile Within the City or suburbs by vertue of the said statutes at such as shall please the University to appoint.
“Since that statute the late graunt to Sir Walter Rawley doth inable him to give libertie to as many such as he shall appoint to sell wines by retaile to their most advantage within cities, boroughes, townes, &c. Notwithstandinge this taketh not away the liberties of the Universitie to sett the prlces of wmes solde by retail within the City and suburbs, neither doth nor can the charter graunted to Sir Walter Rawley take away the former charters and liberties graunted to the citizens of Oxon, graunted to them in these words: ‘Et quod nullus qui non sit de eorum Gilda vina aliqua seu mercimonia aut quaecunque alia bona venalia infra dictam villam Oxon, vel ejus suburbia ad retailia vendat, &c.’
“Hereby you may see that Sir Walter Raughley may give libertie to as many free men of the City to sell wine by retalle as he listeth, notwithstandinge ye statute of Edw. ye sext, but not to forriners. And the liberties, francheses, and Jurisdlctions of the Chauncelor and Schollers of Oxon. and Cambrldge, and of the inhabitants their are alwayes saved by a speciall proviso in the said statute, 7 Ed. vi. c. 51.” *
* Records of the City of Oxford, by W. H. Turner (1880), 214.
MEMO.—The date 1553, to which this document is assigned, is clearly erroneous. It should be 1584 or following year.
PATENT No. 2.
“Elizabeth by the grace of God Queene of England France and Ireland defender of the faith &c To all men to whome these present lres shall come greeting WHEREAS we by our lres patente vnder our great scale of England bearing date at Westm the nynthe daye of August in the thirtith yere of our raigne have given & graunted full and free libtie licence power and aucthoritie vnto our trustie and wellbeloved sruant Sir Walter Raleigh Knight his deputies and assignes and eury of them during the terme of Thirtie and one yeres for such consideracons and somes of money to be paid to his and their owne only vse as to hym or any of them shalbe thought meete and conuenient by writing triptite indented to be made sealed and delyured by the said Sir Walter Raleigh his deputies and assignes or any of them according to the tennor of the said lres patente To giue power and aucthoritie to all and eury such pson and psons as by the said Sir Walter Raleigh his deputies or assignes or any of them shalbe thought necessary and convenient during the naturall lyfe of eury such pson and psons so noiated assigned or appoynted or which shalbe hereafter so noiated assigned or appoynted by the said Sir Walter Raleigh his deputies or assignes as aforesaid to keepe such nomber of Tavern or Taverns our and aboue the nomber lymyted and assigned by one act of Parliament recyted in the said lres patente as well in Cities Borroughes Portte and markette townes as also in other place lymited and appointed in the said act of Parliament and also in such other place and places as be omitted and not provided for in the said statute The said statute or any other law statute proclamacon restraint lymytacion of price or other thing to the contrarie in any wyse notwithstanding AND FURTHER we have by our said lres patente given & granted full power and aucthoritie to the same pson and psons so to be appoynted or licenced by the said Sir Walter Raleigh his deputies or assignes that they and evry of them by meanes of such licence and licence and of our said lres patents shall sell and vtter wynes by Retayle by the gallon or lesse or greater measure during the naturall lyfe of evry or any the said pson and psons now noiated assigned or appoynted or which shalbe hereafter so noiated assigned or appoynted as is aforesaid at his and their pleasure at and for what price and price whatsoever to his or their most pfitt and comoditie as by the said lres patente more at larg appereth AND whereas also by vertue of the said grant and hes patente the said Sir Walter Raleigh by writing triptite indented made betwene the said Sir Walter Raleigh of the one ptie and Anne White of Plimouth in the Countie of Devon widowe and George White her sonne of thother ptie bearing date the seaventh days of November in the one and fortith yere of our raigne whereof evry pte is sealed by either of the said pties whereof one pte remayneth to and with the said Sir Walter Raleigh and one other pte remaineth to and with the said Anne and George her sonne and one other pte thereof is delyured by the said Sir Walter Raleigh into our Court of Chancerie according to the force and effect of the said lres patente AND by vertue and aurthoritie of the same for & in consideration of a crten some of money payd by the said Anne and George her sonne unto the said Sir Walter Raleigh noiated assigned and appoynted the said Anne and George her sonne. AND also hath given and graunted full and free libtie licence power and aurthoritie unto the said Anne and George that shee the said Anne by hymself (sic) her sruante deputies and assignes or any of them during her naturall lyfe And that he the said George after the death of the said Anne if he shall happen to srvive and oulive her by himself his srvante deputles and assignes or any of them during his naturall lyfe may have use and keepe one Tavern or wyne seller within the said towne of Plymouth And to buy sell utter in grosse and by retaylle by the gallon or lesse or greater measure all and evry good and wholesome wyne and wynes of what nature kynd or name soevr the same shalbe to their prfitt and comoditie PROVIDED neverthelesse that yf french wyne Gascoigne Ewion Rochell and such like may be bought at eleven pounds the Tonne or under that then the said wynes and evry of them not to be sold above sixteene pence the gallon And yf also that sackes malmesies and other sweete wynes saving muscadle may be bought at eight pounds the Butt or Pipe or under shall not be sould above twoe shillings the gallon muscadle only to be sold to his or their most pfitt and comoditie as by the same Indentures more at lardg appereth AND WHEREAS also by the said lres patente wee have further granted that the said pte of the triptite Indenture made and sealed as ys aforesaid and crtified into our Courte of Chancerie shalbe unto the lord Chancelor of England or lord keeper of the great seale of England and to either of them for the time being an imediat & sufficient warrant to make passe & delyur unto all & evry & as many of the said pson and psons ioyntlie and sevrally such and as many good lres patente under the great seale of England in due forme of lawe to be made as they or any of them will or shall desire or require as by the said lres patente amongst other things more plainlie appereth Know ye therefore that wee of our grace espiall crten knowledg and mere moton aswell at the humble petition and request of the said Anne and George as also for and in pte of the accomplishment of our said lres patente & the contente and prmisses therein exprssed are pleased and contented and by these prsente for us our heires and successors doe give and grant full and free libtie licence power and aucthoritie to the said Anne from hensforth that shee the said Anne by herself her srvante deputies and assignes or any of them during her naturall lyfe and that he the said George after the death of the said Anne if he shall happen to srvive & outlive her by hymself his srvante deputies and assignes or any of them during his naturall lyfe may have use and keepe one Tavern or wyneseller within the said towne of Plymouth as well within the now mancion house where shee the said Anne now dwelleth or hereafter shall dwell or elsewhere within the said towne only and to buy sell utter in grosse and by retaylle by the gallon or lesse or greater measure in his or their said mancion house or elsewhere within the said towne all & evry good and wholsome wyne & wynes of what nature kynd or name soevr the same shalbe to his and their will and pleasure SOE that in the sale uttrance & retaylle of their said wynes they shall not exceede the price lymited or expressed in the said Indentures without any mannr of payne forfecture ymprisonment or penaltie to be by them their srvante or deputies or any of them hereafter sustained lost or incurred to vs our heires and successors or any of vs’ The statute made in the seaventh yere of our late dere brother Kyng Edward the sixth or any other law statute prclamacon restraint lymytacon of price or other thing whatsoevr to the contrarie in anywyse notwithstanding IN WITNESS whereof wee have caused these our lres to be made patente WITNES our self at Westm the tenth daye of November in the one & fortith yere of our raigne.
“(Signed) Tho. Cowper.”
(Endorsed) “A lycense to sell wynes graunted to Anne White and George her sonne to sell wynes in Plymouth.”
(Also) “10th Nov. 1599. No. 546.”*
* State Papers, Domestic, Case G. Eliz., No. 11.
“Lady Ralegh to Secretary Lord Viscount Cranborne.
“My Good Lord,
As it hath plesed your Lordshept hetherto to be our only cumfort in our lamentabell misfortuns, so I most humbly beseich your Lordshept, both in cumpassion and justes, to speke one word to me Lord Admirall not to take from us by strong hand that which his Magesti hath geven us for our relife.
“I might have hoped that me Lord Admirall – if wee might hope for anithing from any leving man – would rather have geveng us sumthing back agayne of his great porcion. His Lordshepe hath six thowsand pound, and three thowsand pound a yeare, by my husban’s falle. And, since hit pleseth God that his Lordship shall build uppon our ruines, which wee never suspected, yet the porcion is great and I trust sufficient, out of onn poour gentelman’s fortun to take all that remaines, and not to louke backe before his Magisti’s grant, and take from us the debts past, wich your Lordshept knoos ware stayed from us, by a proclamation, befor my husban was suspected of ani offence.
“If me Lord’s grant do beare them, and his conscience warrant hime, wee must yeild willingly to Gode’s will and the King’s. But if me Lord Admiral] have no onn word, in his grant, for them, then what neither the Keng, lawe, nor conscience, have geven from us, I trust his Lordship will espare us willingly.
“God knous that our debts ar above three thoussand pound, and the bread and foode taken from me and my children will never augment my Lorde’s table, though hit famish us. If your Lordshept, without his Lordship’s ofens, can in charitie parswade his Lordshept to relinquish ether all, or but the half, of that wich belongs not unto him, wee shall be more and more bound to your Lordshept.
“Who, being unworthi to be a frind, will remaine your Lordsheptes poour servant,
Addressed: “to the right honorable the Lord Vicount CRANBORNE”, &e.
Endorsed, in Lord Cranborne’s hand: “1604, Lady Ralegh.”*
* Edwards, II, 408—9.