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LIFE OF LORD CHANCELLOR GOODRICH.
THE Duke of Northumberland having the Great Seal so unexpect edly surrendered to him, was very much at a loss on
whom he should bestow it. There was no lawyer in [Dec. 1551.]
whom he could place entire confidence; and he began to have aspiring projects, to which a lawyer with any remaining scruples must object. After a little deliberation he therefore resolved to recur to the old practice of putting an ecclesiastic at the head of the law, taking care to select a man of decent character, who would not disgrace the appointment, and of. moderate abilities, so as not to be dangerous to him. Such a man was THOMAS GOODRICH, Bishop of Ely, elevated because he was in no way distinguished — whose name would hardly have come down to us if at that time he had been less obscure.
On the 122d of December, 1551, the day after Lord Rich's resignation, the Great Seal was delivered by the King, in the presence of Northumberland and other grandees, to the Bishop, with the title of Lord Keeper.*
I do not find any account of his origin.† His name is often spelt Goodrick; but from the following epigram upon him, indicating that he had emerged from poverty, it must have been pronounced Goodrich :
"Et bonus et dives bene junctus et optimus ordo;
He was a pensioner of Benn'et College, Cambridge, and afterwards a fellow of Jesus College; and was said to have made considerable proficiency in the civil law as well as in Divinity. He took, however, only the degree of D.D. He early felt an inclination in favour of the reformed doctrines; which he openly avowed, when it was safe for him to do so, in the reign of Edward VI. He was accordingly employed to assist in revising the translation of the New Testament, and in compiling the Liturgy, and, as a reward for his services, was made Bishop of Ely. But he was a quiet bookish man, not mixing with state affairs.
While he held the Great Seal he was a mere cypher in the Council; and his appointment was a contrivance of Northumberland to have the power and patronage of Lord Chancellor in his own hands. It was thought, however, that this object would bẹ
*Rot. Cl. 5 Ed. 6. p. 5.
† My friend Mr. Pulman has found for me, by searches in the Herald's College, that he was the son of Edward Goodrich, of East Kirby, in the county of Lincoln, and grandson of John Goodrich, of Bolingbroke. 3rd edition.
more effectually gained if Goodrich were treated with apparent respect; and on the 19th of January following he delivered up the Great Seal to the King, and received it back with the title of Lord Chancellor.*
On the day before a commission had passed the Great Seal, authorising Beaumont, the Master of the Rolls, and others, to hear causes; and upon them devolved all the judicial business of the Court of Chancery while Goodrich was Chancellor.
The grand object now was to obtain the royal warrant for the execution of the illustrious convict lying under sentence of death in the Tower. Access to the King's presence was strictly denied to all who were suspected of being friendly to Somerset; and the new Chancellor, probably conscientiously, gave an opinion that he was guilty, and that the safety of the state required that the law should take its course. After a long delay, Edward [JAN. 22, 1552.] was induced to sign the fatal in trument, and the Protector was executed on Tower Hill, amidst wishes construed into prophecies that Northumberland might soon share his fate. Parliament met a few weeks after, and a bill was introduced to confirm the attainder of the Duke of Somerset, and
[APRIL, 1552.] to set aside an entail of estates upon his family. It easily passed the Lords, but it was thrown out by the Commons. Thereupon the Chancellor, in the name of the King and by command of Northumberland, dissolved the parliament which had now lasted about five years †
In the beginning of the following year a new parliament was summoned, which Northumberland was determined [A. D. 1553.] should be more subservient, and for this purpose he caused the Chancellor to send, along with the writs, a letter, in the King's name, to each Sheriff, which, after setting forth the importance of having able and experienced representatives to serve in the House of Commons, concluded in these words: -"Our pleasure is, that where our Privy Council, or any of them, shall recommend men of learning and wisdom, in such case their directions be regarded and followed, to have this assembly to be of the most chiefest men in our realm for advice and good council.”‡ This extraordinary breach of privilege passed without complaint.
On the 1st of March the parliament met in the palace of Whitehall, the King, on account of his declining health, not being able to go to the usual place of meeting in London or Westminster.
*This ceremony took place "apud Greneweche in quodam interiori deambulaterio sive galerio ibidem inter horas secundam et terciam post meridiem" The entry, without stating any swearing in or installation, thus concludes:-"Et superinde predicus Reverendus Pater Sigillum preum de manibus dei Dni Regis gratutent. accepiens illud extra bagam in qua repositum erat in presencia predica extrahi et quidam brevia ibidem sigillarii mandavit deindeque in bagam prcam iterum reponi et sigillo suo prpro muniri fecit ac curam et custodiam ejusdem spr se assumpsit et illud penes se retinuit et retinet."-1 Rot. Cl. 5 Ed. 6.
1 Parl. Hist. 590.
The Lords spiritual and temporal being assembled in their robes, in the King's chapel, Ridley, Bishop of London, preached a sermon to them, and they received the communion. They then adjourned to the King's great chamber, which was fitted up as a House of Lords, “the King sitting under his cloth of state, and the Lords in their degree." The Commons being called in, Lord Chancellor Goodrich made a speech in the King's name, which is said to have been "brief on account of the King's sickness,”—and no part of it is preserved.
The object of the summons was chiefly to obtain a subsidy, and this being granted, and the Commons showing symptoms of discontent with the existing rule, the Lord Chancellor, at the end of a month, dissolved the Parliament, the King being present, and then seen the last time in public by his subjects.*
This Sovereign, of so great promise, was now drawing to his untimely end, and Northumberland wished to be at liberty, without the control of Parliament, to carry on his machinations for changing the succession,-well knowing that if the Lady Mary, who was next heir both by right of blood and by parliamentary settlement, should be placed on the throne, his power would be gone, and his personal safety would be compromised. Although a majority of the nation had become attached to the Reformation, there was no chance of a parliament being induced to disturb the succession. Mary could not, with any show of reason, be set aside in favour of Elizabeth; a regard for hereditary right and respect for the memory of Henry VIII, who had always been a favourite with the common people, would have been strongly opposed to any attempt to set aside both. Northumberland himself was daily becoming more unpopular; and the last House of Commons, which he had taken such pains to pack, had shown considerable hostility to him. He resorted, therefore, to another expedient.
A statute of the realm had conferred on Henry VIII. personally a power to dispose of the Crown by will,-and a will had accordingly been made by him, under this statute, by which he excluded the Scottish line, and called the issue of his younger sister to succeed after his own children. Edward had no such power, but Northumberland pretended that it belonged to him by the common law, and was in hopes that the nation would not nicely inquire into the distinction.
He had easily succeeded in inculcating this doctrine on the debilitated mind of the dying King, through the medium of the Chancellor and other creatures, whom he employed for that purpose. They represented to Edward that both his sisters having been declared illegitimate by parliament, and their legitimacy never having been restored-though they were nominally put into the succession, they could not constitutionally succeed;-that be
* 1 Parl. Hist. 602.
ing of the half blood to him, according to a well-known rule of law, they were not his heirs ;-that the succession of Mary would be the restoration of Popery;-that the Scottish line had already been justly set aside as aliens ;-that the true heiress was the Marchioness of Dorset, daughter of Mary the Queen-dowager of France; that, as she waived her rights, the next to succeed was her eldest daughter, the Lady Jane Grey, married to Northumberland's fourth son, a young lady of rare beauty and accomplishments, and a zealous Lutheran; and that to secure Edward's fame with posterity, and his salvation in another world, he should exercise the power which belonged to him, by securing that glorious reformation of religion which he had established.
The sick Prince was so far misled by this sophistry, that with his own hand he drew a sketch of a will settling the Crown, if he should die without issue, on "the Lady Jane and her heirs masles," and by direction of the Chancellor (who in the whole of this transaction was under an apprehension of the penalties of treason) he put his royal signature to this instrument above, below, and on each margin.
But to give validity to the settlement, the Chancellor insisted that it must be approved of by the Council, and being reduced into due form, must pass under the Great Seal,-adding, that in a matter of such importance he could not act without the opinion of the Judges. On the 11th of June, 1553, Sir Edward Montague, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and two or three other Judges who were supposed to be most complying, together with the Attorney and Solicitor General, were summoned to Greenwich, where the Court then lay. They were immediately conducted by the Chancellor into the royal presence, and Edward made them a formal speech to the effect, "that he had seriously weighed the dangers which threatened the laws and liberties and religion of the country if the Lady Mary should inherit the Crown and marry a foreign Prince; that, to prevent so great an evil, he had determined to change the order of the succession; and that he had sent for them to draw up a legal instrument according to the instructions which he produced to them."
Being quite unprepared for such a proposal, they were thrown into the greatest perplexity. They expressed doubts to which the King listened with impatience; but they at last obtained a respite that they might peruse the various acts of succession which had been passed in the preceding reign, and consider the best mode of accomplishing the object which his Majesty for the good of his people had in view.
On deliberation they were more convinced of the entire illegality of the scheme, and of the personal peril in which they would themselves be involved by assisting in it. Accordingly, two days after, at a Council over which the Chancellor presided, and from the commencement of which Northumberland chose to be absent, -being asked for the instrument they had been ordered to pre
pare, they boldly answered that such an instrument would be a flat violation of the statute of the 35th of the late King, and would subject both those who should draw it and those who had advised it to be prosecuted for high treason. Northumberland, who had been within hearing in an adjoining room, finding that the persuasions of the Chancellor could make no impression upon them, and that his project was in danger of instantly blowing up, rushed into the Council Chamber with the most indecent violence, threatened to proceed against them as traitors, and declared that "he was ready to fight in his shirt with any man in so just a quarrel."* They still considered there was less peril in disobedience, and they departed expressing a resolute refusal.
Northumberland was not thus to be baulked. Gryffith, the Attorney General, was supposed to be the chief instigator of the opposition. He was therefore dismissed†, and the others were again summoned to Greenwich the following day. Edward, prompted by Northumberland, sternly asked them "why his command had not been obeyed?" The Chief Justice answered, that to obey would have been dangerous to them, and of no service to his Grace; that the succession having been settled by parliament, could only be altered by parliament; and that nothing could be done but to call a parliament and introduce a bill for that purpose. The King replied, that he intended to follow that course, but that in the mean time he wished to have the deed of settlement prepared which should be ratified in the parliament to be held in September. The Chancellor and the whole Council who were attending in a body joined in the request,-with a hint of their power to commit to the Tower for a breach of allegiance.
Montague at last agreed,-on condition that the Chancellor would make out a commission under the Great Seal to draw the instrument, and a full pardon under the Great Seal for having drawn it. This arrangement still was not satisfactory to Gosnald the Solicitor General, but means were found to bring him over the following day; and the Chancellor having made out the commission and the pardon in due form, the official instrument was engrossed on parchment, settling the Crown on the Lady Jane Grey.
The Chancellor himself now began to waver, and he refused to set the Great Seal to it unless it was signed not only by the King, but by all the Judges and all the members of the Council. The Judges all signed it except Sir James Hales, a Justice of the Common Pleas, who, although a zealous Protestant, could not be prevailed upon by any solicitations or threats to derogate from the rights of the Princess Mary, the lawful heir to the Crown. The
*This language would not appear so indecorous then as now, for instead of proposing a prize-fight according to the rules of the ring, it referred to judicial combats, which at that time occasionally took place before the Judges.
† He was rewarded for his fidelity by being re-appointed by Mary, while Mr. Solicitor was dismissed.
* He had a very unsuitable return for his fidelity when Mary was upon the throne. See Life of Gardyner, post.