Some were saying, “We should fight our way out after the ladies are gone.” More argued for yielding and hoping for mercie.
Others sayt it were more honourable to die fighting than by ax or rope.
We guessed these last did not wish to see their own heads on spikes above the citie gates.
Onix and I were out of patience. We could think of nowt but our empty bellies and our warm hearths.
And Onix was afeared we’d be taken when we ran out with the ladies. He arrkst me to learn him the neck verse so he could ’scape hanging.
I told him the neck verse was no help if it were a matter of treason.
Then I bethought me of the advices Linkin had given that very morn, and told Onix, “Best to say you’re a poor ignorant cat who never meddled in affairs of state in all your days.”
Onix took it into his head to be offended by those words.
“I’m not poor,” sayt he, hawtie. “My master and I keep a good shop, and my mistress receives gifts from the women she tends in their travails. No, nor ignorant neither. I may not be a law cat, but whose advices do you seek on women’s herbs when – ’’
“Enough!” cried I, and ran up the stairs to see what all were doing. I came just in time to join my Earl and Essex on the roof again.
Essex was telling the Captain in the garden that they would yield upon certain conditions. Viz. They wished to be treated as honorable prisoners, to have anything they sayt in their own defence faithfully reported unto Her Majestie, and to have an honorable trial.
(Small hope of that, thought I.)
And Essex arrkst that he might have his choice of ministers to instruct him in religion.
(Oh, that proved a mistake.)
The Lord Admiral seemed willing.
The Earls went down to the hall and oped the door. They knelt to show they meant no harm and offered their swords to an old gentleman I guessed was the Lord Admiral.
Essex sayt that he alone should be punished for the day’s doings, because the other gentlemen had acted onlie out of friendship for him or were his servants.
Then they was taken. Not yet to the Tower, because the night was foul and the river high. It weren’t safe to pass ’neath the bridge. They and a few of their friends were rowed up river, I know not where.
No sooner had the Pretty Penny quit the house than Onix and I (free ourselves) saw her made prisoner.
The Lord Admiral’s promise of safe conduct for all the ladies was a lie.
The first of many.
Essex, Southampton, and a few others were taken to Lambeth Palace (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s London residence), then transferred to the Tower in the early hours of Monday morning after the river had dropped. Most of their other supporters were spread around the already overcrowded public prisons.
Penelope Rich, the only woman arrested, was sent to a private house. Lady Essex – a seemingly quiet woman, but certainly not one who’d led a sheltered life – wasn’t under suspicion. (I’ve just added her brief bio note to the About the People page.)
The extent of Penelope’s involvement isn’t known. We only have Tricks’ word that she’d been helping Essex burn his papers earlier that day. However, it’s a matter of record that on Saturday night she was one of the group – with Southampton, his brother-in-law Sir Robert Vernon, his friend Sir Charles Danvers, and Essex’s stepfather Sir Christopher Blount – that made the snap decision to enter the city the next day.
She’d also rounded up one potential supporter for Essex later that night, and another (the Earl of Bedford) on her way to Essex House on Sunday morning. Otherwise, I haven’t come across much about the women who were in Essex House that Sunday.
The Elizabethan historian, William Camden (1551-1623), refers to “…the Countesse his [Essex’s] wife, the Lady Rich his sister, and their wayting-Gentlewomen, which filled all places with their womannish lamentations…” That’s a statement typical of the times. Women were, by definition, weak in brain, body, and soul.
I think that Elizabethan women were, of necessity, made of sterner stuff.
One of the first things the Earl of Southampton did after his arrest was dash off a quick letter addressed “To my Bess.” With modernized spelling, it reads:
Sweet heart, I doubt not but you shall hear ere my letter come to you of the misfortune of your friends, be not too apprehensive of it, for Gods will must be done & what is allotted to us by destiny cannot be avoided; believe that in this time there is nothing can so much comfort me as to think you are well & take patiently what hath happened, & contrariwise I shall live in torment if I find you vexed for my cause, doubt not but that I shall do well, & please yourself with the assurance that I shall ever remain
Your affectionate husband
Unless he was asked to make two copies – one for her and one for his captors – Bess didn’t receive it, because it’s held among the Cecil papers.