90: Of Lords, Ladies, and Leave-Taking

An idealised image of Queen Elizabeth (late 1590s) by the miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard.

My lord has come hither.  He offended Queen Puss.  But who has not?

He did no more than strike an insolent rogue, who then ran squealing to her.

What a cowbaby.

My lord greeted me most loving.  He sayt he feared we were not like to meet again.

Soon he goes into France with Sir Rabbit [Sir Robert Cecil], and onward on his travels.  To Italy, I believe. 

But I must set down all in order, as I learnt it.

Item:  Nero sayt that the lady who arrkst the learned doctor about our Earl’s marrying is Mistress Howit [Frances Howard], but she has another name because she has a husband.

Nero did not know the doctor’s answer.

“That’s not newes,” sayt I. “Our Earl shall marry Puss Fur-None [Bess Vernon].  But that’s a secret.”

“I have more,” sayt Nero. “London newes from Linkin.”

Item:  Mistress Fur-None is much grieved at our Earl’s leaving.  And the rogue that turned cowbaby told her something that caused an unkindness betwixt her and our Earl.

None knows what it were.

Item:  The rogue was insolent to our Earl and Sir Water Rawly while they was playing at cards.  Then our Earl came upon the rogue near the tennis court, and struck him a blow.  The rogue pulled his hair, and when Queen Puss heared of this she praised him!

Our Earl and that cowbaby were arrkst to explain theirselves by Essicks and another great lord.

I knowed that.  But I (and my lord) do not know why Queen Puss is so unkind to him.  Small wonder my lord is full of discontentments.   

And if that weren’t newes enough, I hear my lord’s mother the Countess thinks to take another husband.

His name is Swillem Harfie [Sir William Hervey/Harvey].  He went with Essicks to Cadiz.  And to the Asores as captain of the Bonaventure.

“A good ship,” sayt Nero.  “But I never heared that Swillem did owt to tell of.”

My niece sayt, “Perchance he lacks money, and hopes to get his living from the Countess.  And she wants a lusty young man.”

I know not the truth of that.  My niece swore to discover it.

After I had writ all, she sayt to me, “Uncle, when you go from this world I shall not bide in this place.”

“What?” I cried.  “You have employment here.  The book-chamber will be yours.”

“But I wish to see the world,” sayt she.  “And when our Earl is oversea, this house may be closed to all.  Even us cats.”

I had not thought of that, but I shall not live to see it.  I have immortal longings in me.

“How would you go hence?” I arrkst.

“How came my mother hither?”

“That you know,” sayt I.  “She hid herself on a cart that carried her from the stable where we was born.”

“Then you have your answer,” sayt my niece.


Editor's Note. Small image of a quill pen.Gib would have written this in early February 1598.  It seems the Earl visited Titchfield before he and Sir Robert Cecil left for France.  Sir Robert hoped to dissuade Henri IV from making peace with Spain.

Now for an Elizabethan soap opera.

Frances Howard (1578-1639) – then Prannell, next Seymour, and finally Stuart – was a poor relation of the powerful Howard family.

A portrait (c. 1611) of Frances Howard – now Frances Seymour, Countess of Hertford.  By Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. Via Wikimedia Commons.

She married three times and died a Duchess, but was slow to give up on the Earl of Southampton.

The cats might have been more interested in her if they’d known that in July and August 1597 she was feeling poorly, and sent urine samples to astrologer and medical practitioner Simon Forman.

The samples would have been no help; reliable diagnoses from urine were not yet possible.

According to historian A. L. Rowse, she thought she might be pregnant.  Forman assured her she wasn’t.  But where was Mr Prannell, a wealthy vinter?  In London or away on business?  Nothing is recorded.

The man Gib calls a rogue and a cowbaby is Ambrose Willoughby, a gentleman of the Queen’s Bedchamber.  He’s unlikely to have entered that sanctum – his job would have been to guard the door.

Rowland Whyte (writing in early 1598 to Sir Robert Sidney) says that the Earl of Southampton, Sir Walter Ralegh, and another gentleman were playing primero – similar to poker – in the Presence Chamber, a large reception room for people admitted to the Queen’s public presence.

The Queen had gone to bed, so Willoughby “desired them to give over”.  Then he spoke to them again, threatening to call in the guard to take their table.

Sir Walter Ralegh (captain of the guard) gathered up his money and left, but the Earl “took exceptions”.  It was shortly after this that he hit Willoughby, who retaliated by pulling his hair.

Was an interrupted card game the only reason for the spat?  Had Willoughby told Elizabeth Vernon about it, or made some other remark that annoyed her?

Rowland Whyte writes of the Earl being “troubled at her Majesty’s…usage of him.  Somebody hath played unfriendly parts with him.”   And Elizabeth Vernon “…doth wash her fairest face with too many tears”.  He hints that her reputation could be at risk.  But whether she was quite as weepy as he suggests is debatable: a doleful face before Queen Elizabeth would have got no sympathy, and maybe a slap.

Next, Whyte reports that it was secretly said that she and the Earl were to be married.  Had they contracted to wed on his return?

Whatever, the Earl seems to have been, in modern parlance, Over It.

He was 24 with no career to speak of, and in debt.  There was none of the hoped-for glory from the Islands Voyage.  In his absence his executors had leave to sell off any of his properties except those still held by his mother.  He was probably all too keen to get away from Queen Elizabeth’s Court.

83: More Trouble for Lady Moll

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.

A thin-faced, dark-haired woman in formal Elizabethan attire.
Elizabeth Ralegh (nee Throckmorton) who lost her position as a Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber after she and Sir Walter secretly married. From a full-length painting by Robert Peake the Elder, c. 1600

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, 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.

The portrait show a solidly-built bearded nan with the long Habsburg chin.
Rudolf II (1552-1612) – by Joseph Heintz the Elder. He created Thomas Arundell a Count of the Holy Roman Empire in reward for his military service.  Arundell’s acceptance of the honour (his “dog collar”) infuriated Queen Elizabeth.

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 feigns it, in hopes of seeing her husband freed.

Linkin had more to tell.

The Fleet River, from a 1572 map of London. The river runs from north to south, coming into the Thames at Blackfriars.  The prison is on the east side above Fleet Street.
The River Fleet, from a 1572 map of London. The prison (I think) was on the east side above Fleet Street. Possibly the building in the upper half of the picture which sits beside the river and curves around the crescent?

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.”

Prague Castle, where Rudolf II had his court, by 1595. Via Wikimedia (by Sokoljan own-work CC By SA 3.0)
Prague Castle, where Rudolf II had his court, by Joris Hoefnagel, 1595. Via Wikimedia (Sokoljan, own work, CC By SA 3.0)

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorHow Linkin’s mistress must have enjoyed her lawyer son’s visits and news.  He seems to have had a reliable source in the Cecil household.

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.