127:  Of Prisons High and Low

The next to bring newes were Picker and Stealer.  They came to summon us to a parlement. 

A grey cat seated before a stone wall with a wooden door set into it.
Paws, the matriarch of St Pauls, who presides over a parlement of local cats.

They sayt that Paws sought informations on the Earl of Essex and his offences.

Linkin, who loves a parlement above all things save his supper, was joyed to hear of it.

“Now,” sayt Picker, “let us talk as friends.”

I readied myself for malice.

Stealer sayt, “Know you owt of the Lord Grey who saw Essex by the river, and carried word of his coming to Mr Secretary [Sir Robert Cecil] at None-Such Palace?”

“Lord Grey?” sayt I.  “That waps who whined because he could not have my Earl’s place as General of the Horse?  Belike he now hopes to be made Lord Deputie of Ireland.  Well, all hornets think theirselves heroick.”

I was troubled, all the same.

“And know you Essex is kept close-confined?” arrkst Picker.

“I do,” sayt I.  “And would visit him, but he’s many ways from here.”

(I thought he was at None-Such.)

“Not so many ways,” sayt Stealer.  “The house where he lies is along the river, no great distance from his own.  But none may see him there.”

“True,” sayt Onix, who’d joined us.  “And Her Majestie will not permit him to send a letter to his lady, who’s new-delivered of a she-kit.  Should a wife be punished for her husband’s doings?  I think not.”

Picker and Stealer gave him blasterous looks, as they always do.

Onix bristled up, but I had need of those sly sisters.

I sayt, most civil, that I could not go to parlement.  I had other business.

They eyed me then, thinking I meant to seek out Essex.

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex – from a sketch by the minaturist Isaac Oliver.

“I’m in search of Snakes-Purr,” sayt I.  “A player that apes his betters on the stage.  And not content with that, he’s turned felon and aped my uncle’s verses.  I seek revenge.”

“Aping another’s verses,” sayt Linkin, judicious, “is not felony.”

Picker and Stealer paid him no heed.  Linkin knew the law, but they knew many felons.

“This Snakes-Purr may be dead,” sayt Stealer.  “A player was slain by a poet not long since.  We learnt of it when we last slipped into Newgate jail.”

“Then justice has been served,” sayt I.

“We can’t swear to it,” sayt Picker.  “We’ll make enquiries when we go on progress.”

“But that’s not before winter ends,” I sayt.  “It’s not begun.”

“Then find him yourself,” sayt Stealer.  And to Linkin, “Forget not our parlement.”

Head and shoulders portrait of a ginger and white cat.

Linkin answered, “Forget not Snakes-Purr.”

And I?

I went to Essex House and found my Earl.

He was in the garden, conversing with some gentlemen.

I knew him by his voice, and ran to greet him with my tail held high.  I rubbed myself against his boots.  But he had much on his mind, and did no more than glance at me.

There was a lady seated nigh, one I’d seen before.  I took her scents.  They were mixt with my Earl’s.

Puss Fur-None.

She was most joyed to have her husband nigh.  Her little dog seemed joyful too, and did nowt to vex me.

I sat a while with them, toying with a sere leaf in the grass.  And when a chill wind came from the river and Puss Fur-None rose to go indoors I followed her.

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorTricks was right to be suspicious of Thomas, Lord Grey (1575-1614).  He’d been with Essex on the Islands Voyage in 1597, and went to Ireland in 1599 as captain of a troop of horse.  

However, after he was disciplined (mildly) for ignoring an order from his General, the Earl of Southampton, he turned against him and Essex.

It’s not clear how Lord Grey came to be on his way to Nonsuch at the same time as Essex, but he raced on ahead after rejecting a request from one of Essex’ friends to let Essex be the first to tell the Queen of his return.

Lord Grey went straight to Sir Robert Cecil.  According to Rowland Whyte, Essex arrived about 15 minutes later, before “any tidings was brought upstairs”.  That might explain why Essex took the rash step of entering the Queen’s bedchamber.

A couple of days later, Essex had to account for his offences to his fellow members of the Privy Council.  

The offences included his “contemptuous disobedience of Her Majestie’s letters and will”, and his “presumptuous letters”.  Plus not proceeding in Ireland as originally agreed, rashly returning and making an overbold entry to the bedchamber.  He’d also bestowed too many knighthoods in Ireland.

Apparently Essex acquitted himself well, and the Council referred the matter to the Queen.  She wasn’t satisfied, and Essex was sent to York House – up river from his own house – to remain in the custody of Sir Thomas Egerton who held the office of Lord Keeper (i.e. Keeper of the Great Seal – the seal used on state documents).

Rowland Whyte continued to hope for the best, but his letters to Sir Robert Sidney over the next few days become increasingly uneasy.


19 thoughts on “127:  Of Prisons High and Low

  1. Christine Valentor March 8, 2018 / 6:13 pm

    Snakes-Purr, haha! In reality, there were about 12 different recorded ways to spell Shakespeare — Shaxbur, Shakspere,etc.

    Liked by 3 people

    • toutparmoi March 8, 2018 / 7:08 pm

      True. Most Elizabethans weren’t too fussy about the way their names were spelled, and members of the same family often used different spellings for the surname.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. April Munday March 8, 2018 / 7:55 pm

    I recently read a book which said that Bess Vernon’s brother (and presumably Bess herself) was a descendant of a Roman emperor, King Arthur and Robin Hood. In addition he was the keeper of the Holy Grail.

    The only part of the book that really interested me was a story about Sir Robert Vernon giving information to Anthony Munday so that the latter could write his plays about Robin Hood.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 8, 2018 / 10:02 pm

      Good Heavens!! Perhaps the Vernons did like to claim descent from Robin Hood. I doubt he’s included in the Devereux family tree on their mother’s side. Or maybe Robert just enjoyed traditional tales. Did the writer give a source for the Anthony Munday connection?

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday March 8, 2018 / 11:36 pm

      The writer gave sources for very few things, I’m afraid, which is why I don’t believe any of it.

      He said the Vernons were descended from Fulke Fitzwarin, who was the model for Robin Hood and keeper of the grail, or one of them, because the author claimed there were many. As well as the cup there was also a copy of the Gospel of Thomas. The book also went on about an alternative apostolic succession. You can probably work out where that one was going.

      There was a lot of descent through mothers in the book, but I can’t remember how the Vernons were descended from the Fitzwarins.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 9, 2018 / 8:52 am

      No surprises there, then. To be fair, the Vernons could have been descended from Fitzwarin. They came from Hodnet Hall in Shropshire, though I don’t think the house Puss Fur-None grew up in has survived. The gardens are open to the public, but the day a friend and I dropped by, they’d just closed.

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday March 9, 2018 / 7:28 pm

      That’s a shame. I just had a peek at their website and the gardens look stunning.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 9, 2018 / 7:45 pm

      They do. We wished we’d planned our day better, because we hadn’t realised we’d be so handy to Hodnet.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. leggypeggy March 8, 2018 / 9:31 pm

    Snakes-Purr tickled me too. I guess you could call him the cat’s meow.

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi March 8, 2018 / 10:05 pm

      Now he’s on Tricks’ hit list, he might have something to meow about.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Timi Townsend March 9, 2018 / 7:31 pm

    It had to have been so scary to live under an absolute monarchy. Of course, there was Parliament, but the Star Chamber often put paid to that. You could be sent “up river” just like Essex was, on mere suspicion or whim even. Although I guess that that is true to a certain extent of every place and every time when you consider how those in power can wield it. Still, I’d rather take my chances in a democracy, faulty though it may be.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Robyn Haynes March 10, 2018 / 3:46 pm

    The intrigue is fascinating. A thoughtful portrait of the Earl of Essex. He looks like a sensitive individual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 10, 2018 / 8:25 pm

      That’s probably the best portrait there is of him. I understand that Isaac Oliver would have made the sketch preparatory to painting a more glamorous and stylised miniature portrait.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Robyn Haynes March 11, 2018 / 10:28 am

      Have you seen the painting that came from it?


    • Robyn Haynes March 13, 2018 / 6:21 pm

      I definitely prefer the sketch to the painting. It certainly seems to be the preparatory sketch though

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 13, 2018 / 7:06 pm

      The sketch shows more of the individual than the image does, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

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