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commission was issued to Beaumont, the Master of the Rolls, XXXVIII. and others, to hear causes in his absence.
Although he had retired from the bar a good many years, he had kept up his professional knowledge by attending the mootings in the Middle Temple, by associating with the Masters of the Bench of that learned Society, and by acting as Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations, where he had, from time to time, to hear and decide various legal questions, With discretion to conceal ignorance, a little law goes a great way on the bench, — and the new Chancellor, who was certainly much superior to his immediate predecessor, was pronounced “a great Judge” by the dependents and expectants who surrounded him, and believed to be “a tolerably good one” by the public in general. In a few terms he nearly cleared off the arrears which he found in the Court; but he afterwards became more remiss, and complaints arose of his delays, notwithstanding his liberal compliance with the usage beginning to gain ground of referring matters of difficulty to the Masters, who were often very expert officers, and although still generally churchmen, were well acquainted with the civil law, and much more familiar with the practice of the Court than “ the Keeper of the Royal Conscience.” During the last year he held the Great Seal, he seems to have found sitting in Court so irksome, or he was so much absorbed by political intrigue, that he left the hearing of causes chiefly to the Master of the Rolls and the other Commissioners, whom he appointed to supply his place. But during the whole time of his continuance in office we are to regard him much more as a minister of state than as a dispenser of justice.
A few days after his appointment, the first parliament of the new reign was to assemble, and to gratify the vanity of
his patron, he put the Great Seal to a patent directing, in giving pre
the King's name, that the Protector should be placed in the House of Lords on a stool, on the right hand of the throne,
Nov. 4. 1547.
cedence to Somerset with a non obstante.
There having been a King's warrant for putting the Great Seal to this commission, it was free from the objection for which Lord Chancellor Wriothesley was deprived of the Great Seal.
under the cloth of state, non obstante the statute 31 H. 8., by which all Peers were to have place and precedence according to their rank in the peerage.”
When the first day of the session arrived, the infant King A parliabeing placed on the throne, the Protector on his stool, and ment. the Chancellor on the woolsack, the Commons were summoned to the bar; but, unfortunately, we are disappointed in our wish to know the rest of this interesting ceremony, for the Parliament Roll abruptly terminates with these words, “ The Lord Rich, being Lord Chancellor, began his oration to the effect as follows.” We may conjecture that, after some compliments to the humane temper and mild rule of the late Sovereign, and the hopeful virtues of his living image, warm congratulations were offered upon the abilities and respect for the law of the Lord Protector, by whose stool the throne was now propped, and to whom the exercise of the royal prerogatives had been deputed till his Majesty should be of maturer years. In justice to the Lord Protector and the Lord Chancellor Wholesome
laws passed. it should be mentioned that they began with repealing some of the most fantastical and tyrannical of Henry's statutes respecting treason*, and modifying an act whereby any King of England coming to the throne during his minority might, on reaching the age of twenty-four, vacate ab initio all statutes assented to in his name, and providing that this should only be a power to repeal such statutes, leaving untouched all that had been done under them.
But the grand object was to further the Reformation. Lord ReformaRich, since the grant to him of Lighes and the other dissolved tion of
religion. abbeys, had become a sincere reformer, and was anxious that the breach with Rome might be widened as much as possible,
* The bill for this purpose being considered of great importance, it was referred to a joint Committee of both Houses. " They were appointed to meet at two o'clock after dinner, in order to treat and commune on the purport of the said bill." ~1 Parl. Hist. 384. The bour of dinner which had been eleven in the good old times, was now twelve, and sometimes as late as one. It was not then foreseen that a time would come when the two Houses meeting for public business at five, and half-past seven being the hour of dinner, — at seven the one House would break up, and the other would be deserted.
CH AP. XXXVIII.
between the Pro. tector and his brother
so that there might be no danger of his share of the plunder of the church being wrested from him by a counter revolution in religion. He therefore zealously supported the measures which were brought forward under the auspices of Cranmer for introducing the Lutheran system with modifications in England. Successively he laid on the table bills for establishing the King's power to appoint Bishops ; for dissolving chantries ; for repealing the bloody act of the Six Articles ; for allowing priests to marry, still with a recital that “it were more commendable for them to live chaste and without marriage, whereby they might better attend to the ministry of the Gospel, and be less distracted with secular cares;" and a bill for uniformity of service and administration of the sacraments, whereby the mass book was purified of its errors, and the beautiful Liturgy of the Church of England was established nearly such as it has subsisted down to our own
days. Quarrel The Lord Chancellor had, ere long, to determine with
which of the two brothers he would side, the Duke of Somerset
or Lord Seymour of Sudley ; — for a mortal rivalry had sprung Lord Sey: up between them. That quarrel was begun by their wives.
Lord Seymour having married the Queen Dowager so soon after the King's death, that had she immediately proved pregnant it was said, a doubt would have arisen to which husband the child belonged,—the Lady Protectress professed to be much shocked at this indecorum, but was, in reality, deeply mortified that the wife of a younger brother should take the pas of her, and raised the question whether, by a disparaging alliance, the reginal precedence was not lost?
This controversy was terminated by the death of the Queen Dowager in childbed. But Lord Seymour himself was ambitious and presumptuous, and, dissatisfied with the power he enjoyed as Lord High Admiral, — being now a widower, he aspired to marry the Lady Elizabeth, who was certainly attached to him, and whose reputation had been a little scathed by the familiarity to which she had admitted him.* He like
* From the indignant denial by Elizabeth of the reports then circulated, they are believed to be untrue; but certainly the courtship was not conducted with
wise insisted that Somerset could not, according to constitu- CHAP. tional principles, be Protector of the realm and guardian of the royal person, and during Somersets absence in the Scottish war, he prevailed upon the young King to write a letter to the two Houses, intimating his wish to be put under the care of his younger uncle.
uncle. But the Protector arriving from the North, and expressing a determination to crush his rival, notwithstanding the ties of blood, - Lord Rich at once agreed to concur in the necessary measures for that purpose.
On the 19th of January, 1549, the Admiral was committed Lord Seyto the Tower of London by order of the Council, and, ac- mour.comcording to the usage of the times, the Chancellor and other the Tower. Councillors went there to interrogate him upon the charges brought against him. He repelled them with disdain, and required that he should be confronted with his accusers, or, at least, have a copy of their depositions ; but he was told that the demand was unprecedented, unreasonable, and inadmissible. Under the directions of the Lord Chancellor, articles were regularly drawn up against the Admiral for treason, - chiefly on the ground that, with the aid of one Sharington, the Master of the Mint at Bristol, who was to coin false money for him, he had laid a plan for an insurrection to carry off the King and to change the present form of government. He, denying the fact, insisted that the charge did not amount to treason; for the Protector's power being usurped, contrary to the will of the late King founded on an act of parliament, resistance to it was lawful.
much delicacy. Her governess being examined upon the subject, stated that the moment he was up he would hasten to Elizabeth's chamber “in his night. gown and bare-legged;” if she were still in bed “he wold put open the curteyns, and make as though he wold come at hir;” “and she wold go farther in the bed so that he cold not come at her.” If she were up, he “wold ax how she did, and strike hir upon the back or the buttocks famyliarly." Parry the cofferer also says, “she told me that the Admirale loved her but two well ;” at one time as he came into her room while she was beginning to make her toilette, she was obliged to run behind the curtains, “ her maidens being there; ” that “ the Quene was jelowse on hir and him, and that suspecting the often accesse of the Admirale to her, she came sodenly upon them wher they were all alone, he having her in his armes." See 7 Ling. 34 n. The Council deemed it prudent to dismiss her governess.
A bill of attainder against Seymour was, however, laid on
the table by the Lord Chancellor. To take from himself the Bill of at- responsibility and odium of the proceeding, he then sum
moned the Judges and King's Council", and a question was against
put to them, “whether the charges, or any of them, amounted to treason ?” The expected answer was given, “ that some of them amounted to treason,” and the bill proceeded.
The principal evidence consisted of Sharington's conviction, on his own confession; and several Peers, rising in their places, — to please the Protector, who was present in the House, repeated evidence which they had before given before the Council, to show the Admiral's dangerous designs. The bill passed the Lords without a division or dissenting voice, but met with a very unexpected opposition in the Commons. There the first principles of natural justice were beginning to be a little attended to, and several members, to the horror of the old courtiers, contended that it was unfair to legislate by bill of attainder without evidence, and to condemn a man to death who had not been heard in his defence.
his defence. The Peers, hearing of this factious opposition, twice sent a message to the Commons, “that the Lords who were personally acquainted with the traitorous designs of the Admiral would, if required, repeat their statement to the nether House." There were a few ultra-radical members still not satisfied. Thereupon another power
in the state, to resist which no one was yet so hardy as to venture, was called into action, and the Protector sent a message to the Commons, in the King's name, declaring it to be the opinion of his Majesty that it was unnecessary to hear the Admiral at the bar of the House, and repeating the offer of the evidence which had been considered so satisfactory by the Lords. On receipt of this message there was a cry of “ Divide ! divide !” and a division immediately taking place, the bill was passed by a majority of near 400. There were only nine or ten members who had the courage to vote against it.f
• Viz. the King's Serjeants, and the Attorney and Solicitor General.
+ 2 & 3 Ed. 6. c. 18. Burnet, vol. ii. p. 99. 1 Parl. Hist. 587. Tr. 497.