during the session of 1621, that in the time of Henry VI. no more than four hundred subpoenas issued one year with another out of the Chancery, whereas in the reign of James I. the number was not less than thirty-five thousand.”





CHARLES having returned from Theobald's the evening of his March 27, father's death, next morning sent for the Lord Keeper

Williams to St. James's, continued him in his office, employed him to swear in the Privy Councillors, and desired him to prepare two sermons, one for the funeral of the late King, and another for the coming coronation. * But Williams soon saw that his downfall was at hand, and before the coronation of Charles it was accomplished. The power of Buckingham was now, if possible, greater than it had been in the late reign, and he was resolved to have a new Lord Keeper. He therefore took every opportunity of slighting and trying to disgust the present holder of the Seal, with a view to induce him to resign it; for it was then a very unusual thing forcibly to turn a man out of an office which he held, even during pleasure, without a charge of misconduct being judicially substantiated against him. The courtiers were quick-sighted enough to anticipate Williams's disgrace. “ Laud, as soon as he saw that his advancer was under the anger of the Duke, would never acknowledge him more, but shunned him as the old Romans in their superstition walked aloof from that soil which was blasted with thunder. However, as cold looks and rebuffs were preferred to voluntary resignation, it was necessary to wait till a decent pretext could be found for the change, -particularly after the éclat which the funeral sermon on the late King had conferred

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? See Barr. on Stat. 404, 405.

was written to him in the name of the new & On this occasion the Seal was surrendered King, desiring bim to use the old Seal till the to Charles and delivered back by him to new Sual was e graved.-Rot. Pat. 1 Car. 1. Williams as Lord Keeper, and a formal letter 13.

b Hacket, part ii. 23.




upon the preacher. Some thought that he would have objected to a proclamation for suspending the penal laws against Papists, but he put the Great Seal to it without remonstrance.

So impatient was Charles to have a supply, and so unconscious of what he was to suffer from popular assemblies, that he wished to continue the sitting of the last parliament, but he was told by the Lord Keeper that it was ipso facto dissolved by his father's death.

A new parliament summoned by him met on the 18th of June. Prayers were said in the presence of both Houses, while the King, uncovered, knelt at the throne. He then delivered a short speech, which has the appearance of being his own extempore composition. But a laboured oration followed from the Lord Keeper, urging a supply from the state of affairs in the Palatinate, in the Low Countries, and in Ireland, and inculcating loyalty on the maxim amor civium regis munimentum.

There was a much greater inclination in the Commons to inquire into grievances than to grant liberal supplies; and the plague breaking out in London,-at a council called to consider what ought to be done, a prorogation was proposed to Oxford, where it was thought the inalcontents might be more manageable. This was strongly opposed by the Lord Keeper, who urged that when they came together there, they would vote out of discontent and displeasure, and that his Majesty was ill-counselled to give offence in the bud of his reign,

quæ nulli magis evitandæ sunt quam juveni et principi, cujus gratia cum ætate debet adolescere.” Buckingham grinned at him while he spoke.

At Oxford the Commons were more refractory, and the attempt ended in an abrupt dissolution. The Lord Keeper was now most unjustly accused by Buckingham of having intrigued with Sir Edward Coke and the popular leaders, and having stirred them up to oppose the Court; and, to justify himself, he drew up and privately put into the King's hand a paper

entitled -“ Reasons to satisfy your most excellent Majesty concerning my carriage all this last parliament." This made a favourable impression on the King, and the young Queen Henrietta was disposed to protect him,-pleased by his

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© He begins by thanking God that the able to do it, nor doth it stand with my business to be treated required no eloquence nature to spend much time in words." to set it forth; "for," says he, “ I am neither d 2 Parl. Hist. 36.

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forbearance to the Roman Catholics, and by a speech he had addressed to her in French, when he presented the Bishops to her on her arrival in England.

But Buckingham was not to be diverted from his purpose. He revived the charge of intriguing with the discontented parliamentary leaders at Oxford, and he reminded the King that when Williams was first made Lord Keeper, he himself had proposed the rule that “ the Great Seal ought never to be held by the same person more than three years.

Charles yielded; and Lord Conway, deputed by him, came to the Lord Keeper's lodgings at Salisbury, and said" that his Majesty understanding that his father, who is with God, had taken a resolution that the Keepers of the Great Seal of England should continue but from three years to three years, and approving very well thereof, and resolved to observe the order during his own reign, he expects that you should surTender up the Seal by All Hallowtide next, --alleging no other cause thereof,—and withal, that having so done, you should retire yourself to your bishopric of Lincoln.”. Williams respectfully professed his submission to the royal mandate, thanking God that the Seal was not demanded on any other ground. He said the late King had continued it to him after the expiration of the three years, and the present King had restored it to him without condition or limitation of time, -"yet it is his Majesty's, and I will be ready to deliver it up to any inan that his Majesty shall send with his warrant to require

He strongly remonstrated against the order that he should be restrained to his diocese, or any place else. Lord Conway tried to soothe him by saying, he understood this was merely meant, that he should not, after parting with the Seal, be obliged to attend the council-table, but that he should be free to go to his bishopric."

The Lord Keeper afterwards addressed a valedictory epistle to the King, and had an audience of leave preparatory to his formal surrender of the Seal. Charles, on this occasion, belaved to him with courtesy, and promised to comply with several requests which he made, -amongst others, that be inight have leave to retire from Salisbury, where the Court then lay, to a little lodge lent to him by the Lord Sandys, and there my Lord Conway might receive the Seal, when his Majesty commanded it, in his journey towards Windsor. He immediately went to this retreat, finding "those suddenly

, strangers to him who were lately in his bosom, and that a

A.D. 1623.



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cashiered courtier is an almanack of the last year, remembered by nothing but the great eclipse.”

At last, on the 25th of October, the following warrant was produced to him :“ CHARLES, R.

" Trusty and well-beloved Councillor, we greet you well. You are to deliver, upon the receipt hereof, our Great Seal of Englanıl, whereof you are our Keeper, unto our trusty and well-beloved Councillor Sir John Suckling, Controuler of the Household, the bearer hereof; and this shall be a sufficient warrant unto you so to do. Given under our Signet, at our Court at Salisbury, &c.”

The Seal was immediately put into a costly cabinet in Sir John Suckling's presence, and the key of the cabinet was inclosed in a letter to the King, sealed with the episcopal seal of Lincoln, and containing the last words of St. Ambrose and St. Chrysostom, thus translated, “Non ita vixi ut me vivere pudeat : nec mori timeo, quia bonum habemus Dominum ; that as I have not lived in my place so altogether unworthily as to be ashamed to continue in the same, so am I not now perturbed in the quitting of the same, because I know I have a good God and a gracious Sovereign. Moriar ego, sed me mortuo, vigeat ecclesia. Let me retire to my little Zoar, but let your gracious Majesty be pleased to recommend unto my most able and deserving successor an especial care of your church and churchmen. So

may God make your Majesty more victorious than David, more wise than Solomon, and every way as great a King as your Majesty's blessed father.”[

This is the last time that an ecclesiastic has held the Great Seal of England, and notwithstanding the admiration in some quarters of mediæral usages, I presume the experiment is not likely to be soon repeated. No blame can be imputed to Williams while Keeper, for he seems to have been most anxious to perform the duties of the office to the best of his ability. Clarendon represents him as corrupt; but I think without any proof to support the charge. It is quite clear e Hacket, ii. 26.

who attended him being in the affirmative,

he added, “and he shall not fare the worse 8 Touching his bribery, the following plea- for building of churches.” The gentleman sant anecdote is told. Having retired one being told this saying of the Lord Keeper, summer to Nonsuch House, it chanced as he sent next morning a taste of the fruit of was taking the air in the Great Park, that his orchard and the poultry in his yard to seeing a new-built church at a distance, and Nonsuch House. “Nay, carry them back, learning the name of the chief benefactor, he George,” said the Keeper, "and tell your said, “Has he not a suit depending in Chan- 'friend he shall not fare the better for send. cery?” and the answer from George Minorsing of presents."Philips.

f Ibid. 27.


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" m

that he was not swayed in his decrees by the solicitations of Buckingham, which was probably one cause 'of his dismissal. James said that, in sometimes withstanding Buckingham, “he was a stout man that durst do more than himself.”

He is blamed for having made a vast many orders privately on petitions, for the sake of the fees, amounting to 30001. a year; but his friends asserted with much probability, that this complaint arose from the barristers who lost the glut of motions they were accustomed to have in Court.h

It is admitted that, at first, he showed his Cambrian origin by his irascibility; "yet when he had overgone three years in the Court of Chancery, he watched his passions so well that the heat of his old British complexion was much abated, and he carried all things with far more lenity than choler. He would chide little and bear much. His anger on the bench, if sharp, was short-lived, and the sun never set before he was returned to patience and loving-kindness.

Although he was very charitable and munificent, he did not, like some of his predecessors and successors, court popularity by dinner-giving. He never feasted the King, and very rarely gave any lavish entertainments to others.

If (as it was alleged) a good many of his decrees were reversed by his successor, he was little answerable for them, as he still continued to have the Master of the Rolls or common-law Judges for his assessors,--and these reversals are said to have been chiefly on rehearings, with new evidence.

I have now done with Williams in his judicial capacity, and in my strictures upon him I hope I have not forgotten the good-natured admonition of Bishop Hacket: I do not blame

if they would have us believe that none is fit for the office of Chancellor but one of their own profession. But let them plead their own learning and able parts, without traducing the gifts of them that are excellently seen in theological cases of conscience, and singularly rare in natural solertiousness.”

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h One of these petitions, with the Lord least they fall from the frieing pan to the Keeper's answer, is still extant in the Report fire.'--Jo. Linc. L. K.” Office: “Fitchell con. Hickman. The petition i It is said that the great Welsh case of of two orphan children prayed that their Choleric v. Choleric, wbich was pending so uncle and brother might be appointed to put long in the Court of Chancery, began in his certain bonds in suit for their benefit. time, and caused some mirth when called on Answer. 'I must be certified from the two by the Registrar. justices next adjoyning of a sufficient man who I may trust for the use of the children,

k Hacket.
m Ibid. 79.

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