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Spayne or Scotland, or have accompanied, to my knowledge, any that conferres wth them, I doe renownce all good from your Maty in erthe, and all grace from God in heaven; wch assurans if yor H. thinke not sufficyent, upon the knees of my harte I hu'bly crave at yor Matys handes, not so much for my satisfaction as yor own suerty, make the perfltest triaall hearof; for if upon such occasions it shall please yor Maty to syfte the chaffe from the wheate, the come of yor co'monwealth wolde be more pure, and myxt granes wold lesse infect the synnowes of yor suerty wch God must strengthen, to yor Matys best and longest preservation."*
The following letter, addressed to the young Earl of Essex while commanding the English forces at the siege of Bouen? where his younger brother, Walter, had fallen, was written by Hatton a few months before his death (as is supposed) by the command of the Queen, who had become alarmed for the safety of her new favourite; and it must have been a cruel task to impose upon the old Chancellor to pretend to take such an interest in the youth who had supplanted him: " My good Lord, lett me be bolde to warne you of a matter that many of yor frendes here gretely feare, namely, that the late accident of yor noble brother, who hadhe so valiantly and honourably spent his lyfe in his Prince's and countrey's service, draw you not, through griefe or passion, to hasard yor selfe over venturously. Yor Lop best knoweth that true valour consisteth rather in constant performenge of that whch hath been advisedly forethought than in an aptnes or readiness of trusting yor person indifferently into every danger. You have many waies and many tymes made sufficient proof yor valientnes. No man doubteth but that you have enough, if you have not overmuche; and therefore, both in regard of the services her Mafy expecteth to receive from you, and in respect of the greife that would growe to the whole realme by the losse of one of that honorable birth, and that worthe wch is sufficiently known (as greater hathe not been for any that hathe beene borne therin these many and many yeeres) I must even, before Almighty God, praye and require yor Lop to have that circumspectnes of yor self wch is fitt for a generall of your sorte." t
Of his magnificent style of living, even when his means were slender, we have a striking account in an intercepted letter of M. de Champanaye, who was ambassador to Elizabeth from the Low Countries: "I was one day by Sir Christopher Hatton, captain of her Majesty's guard, invited to Eltham, a house of the Queen's whereof he was the guardian, at which time I heard and saw three things that in all my travel in France, Italy, and Spain, I never heard or saw the like. The first was a concert of music so excellent and sweet it cannot be expressed; the second a course at a buck with the best and most beautiful grey hounds that ever I did behold; and the third a man of arms, excellently mounted,
* Lodge. Hist. Ill t Ibid 646.
richly armed, and, indeed, the most accomplished cavaliero I had ever seen.*
In 1576 the Queen dined with Sir Christopher at Eltham, and he provided hunting, music, and a passage of arms for her amusement, t
At Stoke Pogis, in Buckinghamshire, he had a country house constructed in the true Elizabethan taste. Here, when he was Lord Chancellor, he several times had the honour to entertain her Majesty, and showed that the agility and grace which had won her heart when he was a student in the Inner Temple remained little abated:
To raise the-ceiling's fretted height,
Each panel in achievements clothing
And passages that lead to nothing.
Full oft within the spacious walls,
When he had fifty winters o'er him,
The Seal and maces dane'd before him.
His bushy beard and shoe-strings green,
His high crown'd hat and satin doublet,
Though Pope and Spaniard could not trouble it.
Sir Christopher Hatton left considerable estates to the son of his sister by Sir William Newport. This nephew took the name of Hatton, and married the daughter of the first Lord Exeter, the granddaughter of Lord Treasurer Burghley, and afterwards famous as "the Lady Hatton," — a beauty at the Court of James I, courted in second marriage by Sir Francis Bacon and Sir Edward Coke. She having the bad taste to prefer the Chief Justice, he got possession of a great part of Chancellor Hatton's property, along with a companion who kept him in trouble for the rest of his days.
The heir male of the Lord Chancellor, sprung from a collateral branch of the family, was ennobled in the reign of Charles I., by the title of Baron Hatton, of Kirby, in the county of Northampton; and his son, in the year 1682, was created a Viscount by the title of Viscount Hatton, of Gretton. The family in the male line is now extinct, but is represented through a female by the present Earl of Winchelsea and Nottingham.}
* Segar's Tournaments, in "Walpole's Miscellaneous Antiquities."
t It would appear likewise that he was very kind to his poor neighbours. In the churchwarden's accounts of the parish of Eltham, for the year 1573, there is the following item:—
"Paid at the eating of the buck which Mr. Hatton gave to yeparishe xxxijs. y]d.f—no doubt for washing down the buck, as good eating requires good drinking.— Communicated to me by Geo. R, Corner Esq. of Eltham.
J By a pardonable contraction, Gray might have allowed Sir Christopher to retain his just rank of "Lord Chancellor, instead of reducing him to Lord Keeper."
§ Grandeur of Law, ed. 1684, p. 16. Sir Harris Nicholas's Memoirs of Sir Christopher Hatton.
LIFE OF SIB JOHN PUCKERING, L0RD KEEpER Qy THE GREAT gEAL_
The Queen heard of the death of Sir Christopher Hatton in the [a. D. 1591.1 evenJ"g of the 20th of November, but from ancient . recollections and a little remorse, she was too much affected to give any directions respecting the Great Seal till the next morning. She then ordered two Knights of the Garter, Lord Cobham and Lord Buckhurst to bring it to her. They found it locked up in an iron chest*, in the house of the late Chancellor in Holborn, and forthwith delivered it to her Majesty in the palace at Westminster. She was still more perplexed than she had ever been before as to the disposal of it.
Although the last experiment had turned out better than could have been reasonably expected, such heavy complaints had reached her ears against the appointment, that she would not venture again to select a Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper merely from his good looks and fashionable accomplishments. Her Court consisted of two orders,—favourites and men of business. She now felt that it was among the latter she was bound to look for the first Judge of the land. But Puckering, her Prime Searjeant, who was next in succession to the office,—a profound Jurisconsult it is true,—was in manners and appearance such a contrast to his gay and gallant predecessor;—he was so dull, heavy, and awkward; —his whole deportment was so " lawyer-like and ungenteel,"—that she for a long time could not summon resolution to consent to his appointment. Meanwhile an expedient was resorted to which, I believe, was quite new, and has never since been followed -of tejfl T, CoTMmissTS f01' doinS the duties of the Great Seal. Lord Burghley, Lord Hunsdon, Lord Cobham, and Lord Buckhurst were appointed to seal writs, patents, and decrees; and Sir Gilbert Gerrard, the Master of the Rolls, and others, were authorised to hear and decide causes in the Court of Chancery t 1S6Cl
Things went on according to this plan for seven months, but not very satisfactorily; for there were disputes between the two sets of Commissioners respecting jurisdiction and fees; and Sard's colleagues not deferring, as he expected they would, to his experience and rank,—from their division of opinion the decrees pronounced by them had less weight aecrees pio
Prime Serjeant Puckering had about this time pleased her Ma34*Elizn dSta ^ ferr° C°l0riS mbe! Sub Clavi nuP« Cancellarii recIuSa.»-R CI jesty by the able manner in which [ApRiL 2? may 28 isg2] he had conducted the trial of Sir L 'J
John Perrot, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, before the Star Chamber and at last she consented to his having the Great Seal, with the lower rank of Lord Keeper.
John Puckering is an instance of a man, without possessing brilliant parts or committing any dishonourable action,—by industry, perseverance, and good luck, raising himself from obscurity to the highest civil office in the state.
He was the younger son of a gentleman of very small fortune, residing near Flamborough Head, in the county of York, who had great difficulty in giving him a decent education, and could give him nothing more.
It is doubtful whether the future Lord Keeper ever had the advantage of being at a University. He studied law with great assiduity in Lincoln's Inn, and in the mootings in which he engaged he displayed much familiarity with the Year Books, which he pored over day and night. As an apprentice, or utter barrister, he had not much practice in common matters: but he had a high reputation for learning, and he was consulted in cases of weight and difficulty. He was called to the degree of Serjeant r . ^ftn -,
at Law in the twenty-second of Elizabeth, along «■ • • -J
with Clench, Walmesley, Fleetwood, Periam, and other distinguished lawyers; and now, being entitled to practise in the Court of Common Pleas, his extraordinary knowledge of the law of real actions, exclusively tried there, gave him such an advantage, that he at once rose to eminence.
He next became a member of the House of Commons, where he gained considerable authority on questions respect- r ._01 -,
• -\ •* P v i ■ -i • +i + I A. D. 1581.1
mg regularity of proceeding and privilege, in the two L J
last sessions of the parliament which, after continuing on (foot for eleven years, was dissolved in the beginning of the year 1583. When a new parliament assembled, in November, 1585, Puckering was elected Speaker, and filled the chair efficiently, if not gracefully. During the session the Queen sent for him, and reprimanded him for allowing a bill to be introduced for a further reform of the church. He communicated her displeasure to the House, and the bill was allowed to drop. At the prorogation he delivered an address to the Queen, most insufferably long, perplexed, and tedious. Alluding to the Queen's complaint of their debates, he said, "I can assure your Majesty, that in this assembly there was never found in any speech, private or public, any argument or token of the mind of any person that showed any intention to be offensive to your Majesty. And for proof hereof, when it pleased your Majesty to direct me to declare your pleasure to the Commons' House in what sort you would they should stay any further debating of the manner of reformation of such things as they thought might be reformed in that Church, I found them all ready to obey your Majesty's pleasure therein." He concluded by asking her to give her royal assent to the bills they had passed, —exhibiting a specimen of the performance of a Serjeant at law trying to be eloquent; "Lastly, I am, in their names, to exhibit our most humble and earnest petitions to your Majesty to give life to the works, not of our hands, but of our minds, cogitations, and hearts: which, otherwise than being lightened by the beams of your favour, shall be but vain, dumb, and dead."*
At this time it was usual for a lawer filling the chair of the House of Commons to continue to practice at the bar, and Puckering was employed as counsel for the Crown in the state trials arising out of the plot to rescue the Queen of Scots. The conduct of the prosecution of Badington and Tilney, two of the principal conspirators, was chiefly conducted by him, and he made speeches against them, read confessions, put questions to the accused, and, at a pinch, gave a little evidence himself, after the manner of the times.
When the new parliament was called, with the view of carry* r?T -\r<^C~\ m8" m^o execution the sentence pronounced against L "° '-* Mary, Puckering was again chosen Speaker, and was approved of by "the Lords Lieutenants," who represented the Queen. There was a special order from her, which was implicitly obeyed, "that no laws should be made at all in this session." And the only business stirred was the execution of the sentence upon Mary.t
When the preliminary forms had been gone through, the Speaker reminded the House of going upon the " Great Cause," as they termed it. Mr. Francis Bacon, on this occasion, made his maiden speech, and the Speaker was unanimously directed to wait upon the Queen, and to urge her to comply with their wishes. Puckering was received by her at Richmond, and stated five reasons why the Queen of Scots should be put to death. "1st, She and her favourers think she has not only a right to succeed to your Crown, but to enjoy it in possession. 2dly, She is obdurate in malice against your royal person, and there is no place for mercy, since there is no hope that she will desist from most wicked attempts. 3dly, She boldly and openly professes it lawful for her to move invasion upon you. 4thly, She thinks it not only lawful, but honourable and meritorious, to take your life, as being already deprived of your Crown by the Pope's excommunication. 5thly, She is greedy for your Majesty's death, and prefers it before her own life and safety; for in her directions to one of her late accomplices, she advised, under covert terms, that whatever should become of her, tragical execution should be performed upon you."
Elizabeth delivered an extempore harangue in answer, saying, that, "if, instead of Queens, they were but as two milkmaids with pails upon their arms, and if her own life only were in dan
* 1 Pari. Hist. 830. t 1 Pari. Hist. 836.