Our preparations to have at Spain go well. Queen Puss is most amiable to the Earl of Essicks. And to Sir Water Rawly [Walter Ralegh]. He has his old place as captain of her guard again. She chased him from it after he offended her by marrying another Puss.
I do not believe the Puss he wed will ever win back her place in the Queen’s household.
My lord was never so high in the Queen’s favour as to be offered employment by her, but he hopes his service against the Spanish might give her a better conceit [opinion] of him.
We shall see.
But oh, how troubles come!
My lady Moll’s husband Thoms (he of the Imperial Dog Collar, but no employment) has brought fresh scandal on us all.
Some say that Thoms has harboured cheese-wits [Jesuits], and sent Catlick spy newes to the Emperor whose dog he is.
Thoms and one of his friends were taken up for examination. Another of Thom’s friends, a small man, has hid hisself, for fear he might be stretched [on the rack].
I arrkst Linkin our Law Cat what he’d heard of this.
Linkin sayt, “Nowt has yet been proven. Thoms is in the keeping of a gentleman who has read him a lecture or three on his folly.”
“By folly, mean you his dog collar or his religion?” arrkst my niece.
“Both,” sayt Linkin. “But now Thoms’ keeper says he can no longer afford to feed him. He also writ that Thoms fears for the health of your Lady Moll. She being a sick and weak woman.”
“Not sick,” sayt I. “Suttle.” For I do not believe my lady Moll is weak. I think she fayns [feigns] it, in hopes of seeing her husband freed.
Linkin had more to tell.
Thoms’ friend that was taken is confined in the Fleet prison. There is a stinking privy not two feet from his door. He must light a candle if he wants to write after three of the clock.
He sayt that if Her Majestie could see him there, she would pity him.
But Queen Puss don’t grace her prisons with her presence.
So this fellow writes to Mr Secretary [Sir Robert Cecil] telling of all he did to find the small man and perswayde him to offer hisself for questioning. Which the small man would not do, but demanded money of my lady Moll.
She gave him none, saying it was against her will that Thoms ever entertained him.
“I believe you’ve made our unfortunate prisoner’s akwayntance,” sayt Linkin. “His name is Drool [Drewell/Druell]. He was in your household with Thoms when the murderers were hid there. You keep wicked company, my friend.”
“I do,” sayt I.
Talk of Thoms always makes us merry.
Linkin then told how Thoms had writ to Sir Rabbit Cecil, saying the small man was nowt but a private soldier whose akwayntance he’d made in Hungrie [Hungary].
And Thoms learnt that the small man meant to travel to Prague to collect pay he was owed. Thoms arrkst him to carry proof of his own pedigree to the Emperor, so that he should know he had not conferred an honour on a base person.
“Who is not wearie of this geck Thoms?” arrkst Linkin. “Other than your Lady Moll? And even she, at times.”
“But,” sayt he, “Essicks and Sir Rabbit may bring an end to this. They’ve writ to Thoms’ old father to tell him ’tis the Queen’s pleasure that he should house and feed son, daughter-in-law and all, till Thoms mends his ways.”
Thoms’ old father does not like his son, and he hates my lady Moll.
Sayt I, “That letter will make all hearts glad.”
Linkin doesn’t always get the details right.
The elusive “small man” was named Smallman. Being of inferior social status to Thomas Arundell and Sir Humphrey Drewell/Druell, he may well have been at risk of torture if he were thought to be part of a pro-Spanish Catholic spy ring.
While I feel for Sir Humphrey in the Fleet prison, I can see why Gib and Linkin find the Arundell saga so entertaining.
The letters from this latest episode, through May and June 1597, are in the Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquis of Salisbury (“the Cecil papers”) Vol VII, available on line.
Humphrey Drewell was indeed at Titchfield during the escape of the Danvers brothers in 1594. He was with John Florio, the young Earl’s tutor, in the Itchen-Southampton ferry when Florio threatened to throw the sheriff of Southampton overboard. In 1596 he took part in the Cadiz expedition, and was knighted there by Essex.