149:  Sir Rabbit Rules, and Crows Gather

What toyles and tanglings our citie was in as we awaited the Honorable Trial!  Armed men everywhere, to keep the peace.

I kept myself peaceful, for we friends of Essex were hunted in the town.  And across the river.  Some poor servants, who’d stayed hid in Essex House long after all the lords and gentlemen were taken, had fled to the south bank.

A thin-faced, bearded man in dark clothes, with papers and an official red, embroidered, dispatch bag beside him.
Sir Rabbit – Sir Robert Cecil.

Miscreants, Sir Rabbit now named us.

He sent instruction for all the preachers in the churches.  They were to speak against Essex on the day of sermons.  Viz.   

Tell all that Essex is an enemy of the Church of England, a friend to Popish and Protestant malcontents, who wisht to set the Crown of England upon his own head.  Etcetera.


Offer thanks for the citie’s loyalty and for Her Majestie’s safe deliverance.  Etcetera.

Then came a complaynt from the Bishop of London.  He sayt the Privy Council had commanded all to stay at home that day, and the Lord Mayor had commanded that none but women could go to church – saving the 500 armed men he planned to have in Paws yard.

And he, I mean the Bishop, did not think such a sermon should be imparted to women.

Paws: St Paul’s Cross, an open air pulpit in St Paul’s Churchyard.

That newes made our mistress merrie.

“Sure,” sayt she, “we witless women will come away from the sermon wondering, Why is Essex afeared that the Crown is sold to Spain if he be so great a friend to papists?”

And:  “We may even be tempted to put our question to the preacher, even with armed men there to hear us.”

A drawing of a mature well-dressed man extending his hand to two women.
Women – much the better for male guidance.

I guessed Sir Rabbit had that same thought, for then men were permitted to go to church too.

So at Paws (the Bishop sayt) there were great applauds, and satisfaction upon every man’s countenance.

Sayt I to Linkin, “Well, there would be, wouldn’t there.  With 500 soldiers standing nigh.”

We also heard of crows (the well-feathered kind, who have stummicks but no wings) awaiting pickings from dead men.

A lord that was friend to Sir Rabbit sought two fine pieces of stone that Sir Killie Murk [Sir Gelly Meyrick] – one of Essex’ men – had brought from Cadiz to make pillars for his tomb.  This lord sayt they was too good for a traitor, and should be his so he could complete a piece of work.  And he promised Sir Rabbit a fine hawk.

What a piece of work that lord were!

A gentleman told Sir Rabbit that one of the Queen’s trumpeters had a horse of Sir Killie’s, and was offering him for sale.  The gentleman sayt this was wrong, for Sir Killie was not yet convicted.  He sought a warrant to seize the horse, and promised to pay a fair price in good time.

Another sought the lease of Drury House that Sir Charles Daffers [Danvers] had, but was now Sir Rabbit’s to bestow.  (Or so he hoped.)

Then came Linkin, hot-foot from the master’s chamber, with newes that was musick to mine ears.  A player had been taken!  One of the Lord Chamberlain’s men from the Glob.

Why?  Because they’d enacted the play that some of Essex’ friends saw the day before our actions in the citie.

Oh, how I prayed that player were Snakes-Purr.  And that he might be cast into a stinking jail.

But no.  This player’s name was Gusty Flips [Augustine Phillips], and he sayt nowt of Snakes-Purr.  Onlie what the Player Cat had already told us.  Viz.

Some gentlemen had arrkst for a play about the deposing and killing of a king, and the players made them pay forty shillings above the ordinary because they feared none else would come.  The play being so old and out of use.

Certes, Gusty Flips then went his way rejoycing because he was not punished, nor was the forty shillings confiscate.

And Linkin swore that Essex and my Earl were to be tried for treason on the morrow.  “Just they two.  More will follow, but Earls go first to trial as they do to dinner.”

“But,” sayt I, “another earl was also named in the Proclamation of Treason.  When will he be tried?”

“He sang,” sayt Linkin. “As caged birds do.  Confessed his ill-doings, and our Earl’s too.”

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorI haven’t attempted an exact count of those arrested, but 50 or so were taken after the siege of Essex House on Sunday 8 February.  The number of named participants soon rose to about 100, but not all were in custody.

In the absence of state-controlled radio and TV, the pulpit came in handy.  Essex was denounced on Sunday 15 February, and again a week later.

Tricks’ Sir Killie Murk is Sir Gelly Meyrick (c.1556-1601), Essex’s long-term household, estates, and finance manager.  He’d accompanied Essex on his military campaigns, organizing supplies and pay, and disposal of the spoils of war. 

Sir Gelly was one of the group that went to see the play at the Globe on Saturday.  He was called back urgently to Essex House that evening, and left in charge there on Sunday when Essex made his panicked entry into the city.

The actor/manager from the Globe, Augustine Phillips, was examined on 18 February.  By then the case against Essex must surely have been complete.  He and Southampton stood trial the next day.  The unfortunate choice of play was to be used against Sir Gelly.

The Earl who Linkin says “sang” was the Earl of Rutland, a friend of Southampton’s from their days as wards of William Cecil, Lord Burghley.