Elizabeth: December 1585, 1-5

Pages 189-199

Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 20, September 1585-May 1586. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1921.

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December 1585, 1–5

Dec. [beginning of]. “My lord of Leicester's despatch.”
His lordship's instructions.
List of letters to be sent.
Passports for Sir Robert Jermyn, Henry Blagg, Wm. Jermyn and Thos. Pooley. Also for Henry Killigrew and Captain Read.
Endd. “1585, Dec. Memorial of my lord of Leicester's despatch.” ¾ p. [Ibid. V.79.]
[Dec beginning of]. “Abstract of the Earl of Leicester's Instructions, appointed by her Majesty to be her lieutenant-general of her forces in the Low Countries.
Endd. 3pp. [Ibid. V. 80.]
[Printed by Bruce in his Leycester Correspondence (p. 12), from another copy at the British Museum.]
Dec. 1/11. Fremin to Davison.
There is a personage of Brussels named Nicolay, formerly a magistrate there and very well informed of the state of Brabant and of what passes here; and who could inform you of many things on condition that you will keep secret what he shall tell you. He is a learned man; I will give him a few lines to your lordship when he goes to Flushing that you may make acquaintance with him. He is very honest man and I knew him long at Brussels, where he was called President Nicolay.
If there is anything is which I can serve you, you will always find me your humble servant. I shall start God willing to-day to go to my company, and having settled matters there, shall return to see you lordship.—Middelburg, 11 December, 1585.
Add. Endd. “11 December, stylo novo. From M. Fleminge.” Fr. 1 p. [Ibid. V. 81.]
Dec. 1/11. The letter of introduction mentioned above.—Middelburg, 11 December, 1585.
Add. Fr. 1 p. [Ibid. V. 82.]
Dec. 1/11. Notarial attestation that William Melson, merchant of London, factor of William “Eskemor,” merchant of London, and Thomas Sile, citizen of Bristol, personally appeared at St. Lucar on December 4, before Mr. Licenciat Diego Mendez de Cabrera, of the Council of my Lord Duke, (fn. 1) Corrigidor of the city, and “me” Peter Garcia Navarro, notary, and stated that by commandment of Mr. Anthony de Guevara, “of the Council of the goods of his Majesty, and purveyor of his royal armies,” there were ordered to be taken all the English merchants trading in this city, in Seville and in all this country of Andalusia, with their goods. Many of them are taken and some retired, “and their trades and contractations are wholly standing still.” To William Melsan is due in this city 2,920 reals of merchandise, which he cannot recover, because the said debts are attached. [Further details of his losses.]
For six or seven months he has been in the church of St. George in this city, whither he fled that he might not be taken, and hath there spent more than seventy ducats in meat, drink, posts and other charges.
On his demanding to be allowed to produce his witnesses the Corrigidor commanded him so to do, and for their examination and oath gave commission to “me,” notary public underwritten, and did firm it with his name.
Whereupon, on Dec. 5, the said William Melsan produced John Davis, English merchant; Richard Turbervile, Englishman; and Humfrey Levermore, English merchant, all resident in this city, who did upon oath testify on behalf of the said william Melsan [to the same effect as he himself had done].
With further statement by the aforesaid Peter Garcia Navarro that he has caused this to be written even as it was [assed before him and in testimony thereof has “made his sign”; and certificate by Philip Fryer, Richard Birberviel [sic], Umfrey Levermore and Richard Draper attesting the “firme and sign” of the abovesaid notary public, 11 December, 1585.
Below, Certificate by Paulus Typoots, notary public, that the above has been translated by him out of Spanish and agrees with the original.—London, 2 January, 1585.
Translation. Endd. by Walsingham's clerk. 19 pp. [Spain II. 51.]
Dec. 2/12. M. de L'aubespine-Châteauneuf to Lord Howard and Walsingham.
I receive every day so many complaints of the depredations made by the English upon French merchants that if the lords of the Council do not take order in it, great dissatisfaction will arise. In which matter I pray you in particular, as I do the Council in general, so to look to it that the subjects of the King my master may receive justice and the good treatment promised them in the treaties between their Majesties.
Amongst whom I remind you of this poor merchant of St. Jehan de Luz. According to the tenor of what Mr. Waad said to me on behalf of the Council, the merchandise in his ship having been sold, he was to be paid for it. I wrote of it to the King and to M. de la Hillière, governor of Bayonne, who, upon my assurance, prevented the inhabitants of St. Jehan de Luz from in any way ill-treating the English there. Yet the said merchant has been here for a month with his informations. The King wrote of the affair to her Majesty and ordered me to do all I could.
There are also two merchants of Calais who some days ago were pillaged and brought to Sandwich, of whom I have immediately informed you, fearing that the English vessels in the Pas de Calais may be stayed until these two are released, which I pray you to arrange as soon as possible.
Also to take order for a merchant of Bordeaux named Frangeault, that M. de Sacfort may pay him the 200l. sterling which he has owed him for three years and more and in pursuit of which the said Frangeault has spent more than the original sum. His factor who is here, seeing that he can get no right done him, although the King wrote thereof to her Majesty, has long urged me to give him a certificate of his diligence and the time he has spent, which however I do not wish to do without first informing you of it.
Further, there is a merchant named Ravenel, who has long been here pursuing the matter of a ship laden with cloth, yet has recovered nothing. He demands a commission, of which he has shown me the duplicate, as also to Dr. Cesar, who thinks it just and reasonable; whereupon I pray you, grant it to him.
Also I pray you to send me the letter her Majesty has promised me for a ship stayed at Flushing in which were some precious stones and pearls belonging to the Queen Mother; with a passport for him whom I shall send for their recovery, if her Majesty has not ordered them to be sent to her, as she said she would.—London, 12 December, 1585.
Signed. Add. Endd. “The ship of St. John de Luce, spoiled by Sir Geo. Carie's ship. Merchants of Callice, spoiled by English pirates.” Fr.pp. [France XIV. 110.]
Dec. 2. Thomas Digges to Walsingham.
Three or four days after our arrival at Flushing news came to the governor that M. La Motte, with twenty-seven ensigns of foot and three or four cornets of horse was come to Blankenburg, on the sea-side half way between Sluys and Ostend, and “therewithal” came letters from Capt. Erington declaring his suspicion of some practice for the enemy within the town, and desiring munition and victuals: whereupon the governor here resolved to send his brother Mr. Robert Sydney thither, and to solicit Count Hollock and the States of Zeeland for munition. The next day we heard that those bands were marched from Blankenburg to the siege of Ostend. Doubting they might have surprised the haven mouth, we made all speed thither, but found the enemy departed, “who (as it appeared) made a show only before the town to have trained out some choice bands,” hoping their party within the town might then be strong enough to seize it. But Captain Erington very discreetly would not let any of the English sally out, although vehemently solicited both by the governor and by divers of the young captains, “who were much discontented that they might not deal with the enemy. And among the rest, Captain Brett (upon certain brave speeches uttered by La Motte and some of his captains) sent a particular challenge to any captain that served with him to decide the matter with the sword and dagger unarmed, but his challenge was not accepted.”
So, at our coming, we found all safe, and there being no occasion of other service, I began “to platt out” the fortifications. When, with the help of Mr. Adams and three of my servants the platt was finished, “we had Captain Erington, Captain Wilford and other captains there round about the rampires, bulwarks and ditches to view and examine the same,” which platt you shall shortly receive, as it is a place of great importance, both to annoy great part of Flanders by land, and Dunkirk and Nieuport by sea.
The town in some parts is very weak, if attempted by a puissant enemy, but “with mean charge such works might be raised as should make it very strong.” Captain Erington is aggrieved that the exercise of his office of the Ordnance is taken from him by Mr. Norrys (as he says), Sir John Norrys having taken the whole managing of it into his own hands or those of his deputy.
Touching this town of Flushing I send enclosed a copy of such notes as I delivered to the governor after my full view thereof. And surely, although I know it had been hardly possible to appoint a governor better able to retain this people in love and obedience to her Majesty and to defend the town against the enemy, yet I think it utterly impossible with this garrison to hold it against any royal force who may be strong enough on the seas to supply their landed force with victuals, even though they be not so strong as to cut off all victuals from the town, “nor yet the towns men by faction induced” to betray it. I hope there shall never be occasion to bring it to trial, out forces by sea being so strong and those of the enemy so weak; yet I thought it my duty to trouble you thus far. “And so, wishing with many 'moe' for the speedy and prosperous coming of our lord Lieutenant General with convenient number to supply these weakened and decayed bands,” I take my leave.—2 December. 1585.
Add. Endd. 2 pp. [Holland V. 83.
Notes upon “the imperfections of the present fortifications of Flushing,” the chief being: 1. That the walls are unnecessarily extended, thus requiring far more men to guard them than would otherwise have been needful; 2. That the curtains are so laid that much valuable ground is wasted; 3. That there is not a single “close flanker” where ordnance may be placed, and 4. That the “vamures” are too low to cover the shot sent to guard them, and “the rampires are made with so great a scarp that they are saultable of themselves,” without battery.
Offers suggestions for remedying the above imperfections.
1 ¼ pp. [Ibid. V. 83a.]
Dec. 3. Leicester to Walsingham.
“I have written a letter to her Majesty which I send you open, and if you think it needful, it may please you to deliver it. You may speak with Mr. Vice-Chamberlain also therein.
“I have not stood upon any particular matter in it, but the cause is such, as truly I had as 'lief' be dead as be in the case I shall be in if this restraint hold for taking the oath there, or some more authority than I see her Majesty would I should [have]. I trust you all will hold hard for this, or else banish me England withal.
“I have sent you the books to be signed by her Majesty. I beseech you to return them with all haste, for I get no money till they be under seal. I perceive by your message, your peace with Spain will go fast on, but this is not the way.
“I go early in the morning away.”—3 December.
Postscript.—If you deliver the letter, seal it with hard wax and your little seal.
Holograph. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Holland V. 84.]
[Partly quoted by Motley, United Netherlands, i., 328.]
Dec. 3. Leicester to Davison.
Means, if possible, to come directly to the Brill, and prays Davison not to fail to meet him there, as he cannot possibly be without him at his arrival; which will be (God willing) on Tuesday or Wednesday next at the farthest.—London, 3 December, 1585.
Signed. Add. Endd. ½ p. [Ibid. V. 85.]
Dec. 3. Ortell to Walsingham.
Yesterday, at your departure from the Court, I delivered to you a memorial for the poor mariner who some days ago lost his ship upon the Goodwins (Goddins), and now send you Dr. Cæsar's reply, praying you to weigh the whole in equity and justice; for the business chiefly concerns a very honest man, Sir Jacques Gelley, one of the principal magistrates and merchants of your town of Flushing.
I am informed from another source that the merchants of London who have been the cause of this misfortune boast that it does not concern them and that the parties must apply to the pilot, who was merely employed by order of these merchants or their deputies; they thinking by this means to put everything on the poor man's back. I assure myself that her Majesty, the Lords and yourself will not listen to such baseless excuses.
As to the other merchants, whose goods are still detained by the Admiral and his men at Dover, Sandwich &c., I spoke to his lordship yesterday, at the same time giving him a letter written to him by the States General on the same subject. He has deferred his answer till he comes to court, when he will confer with your honour on these matters. I pray you to lend a helping hand therein, for truly the wrong is too evident and insupportable to the States, concerning so much as it does not only their authority and reputation but also their “subjects” [qy. motives] in the negotiation in general, however certain officials here may colour the thing to their liking.
The deputies depart to-morrow morning at seven o'clock, and commend themselves very humbly to your honour, especially M. Buys. We two beg, if it is possible, that we may have Vander Aa's letter again to use as we shall find fitting on the other side.—London, 3 December, 1585.
Signed. Add. Endd. Fr. 2 pp. [Holland V. 86.]
Dec. 3/13. Paul Ive to Walsingham.
The Council of Artois met at Brussels to see what force they they could make against the English army. It is not, as I understand very strong and victuals are very scanty in Artois. If none come out of Holland or England, we shall be in great extremity. There are four regiments before Ostend, viz.: those of Montigny, M. Manvell [? Mansfeld], Count Egmont and La Motte, and they were all in a mutiny because they were not paid as the Spaniards were, wherefore some of the captains were cashiered and some of them were hanged. They have made two forts on the south-east and one on the south-west, and you must have a special care to the victualing and guarding of the town. The Prince was never so weak in field as at this time. “Now is the chiefest time for her Majesty to win honour; marry, you must not altogether begin at one end of the staff.”
For other occasions, Bate knows them as well as if they were penned down. He was straitly examined by M. La Motte, but he handled his matters well. An hour afterwards, M. La Motte, mistrusting some matter, asked me divers questions of my country, but I told him I could inform him little.
“I laid out the platforms of those two forts which are made at Ostend” and was sent back in all haste; why I know not.
“If your honour will command me home, I will lay such 'tumbling blocks' in their way as I will devise, knowing their dealings as I do.”
In Antwerp they are in as great misery as before the town was won, and in Bridges and other towns. I have got Bate leave to come and go freely, but he must bring some trifling things to sell, to blind their eyes, and by that means I can do you some service.
The Spaniards that came last are drowned and starved, the most part in Bomeland. “I do think the Prince's head was never so troubled in his life as it is now at this time. I think he knoweth not how to save his honour that he hath gotten, if things be well looked upon in time.—13 December, 1585.
Add. “Advertisements out of the Low Countries.” 1¼ pp. [Flanders I. 46.]
Dec. 4. Stafford to Burghley.
By my two letters to Mr. Secretary, you will see how things go here, and what cause I have (though I thought it not fit when I wrote by Tupper to speak with the King till I knew her Majesty's pleasure) to speak now, both upon the receipt of letters from him since of the coldness of the Princes of Germany, and because the Duke of Lorraine's advertisement that the number of reiters will not be great and that it will be three months before they come, hath “puffed us up here to think more upon wars than peace.” Also I know that the enterprises of Montpensier and others depended upon the assurance of the coming of these reiters, “to back anything they took in hand.” This makes it more than necessary for me to speak before there is any more certainty of coldness, but the King is not yet come out of his monkey. I hope however to have audience on Sunday.
“I have also written to him [Mr. Secretary] of the secret sending of the Queen of Navarre to the Duke of Guise, to egg him to stir again, and to put a distrust in him of intelligence of the French King with the King of Navarre against him; and of the two vile letters she hath written to the French King and Queen Mother and of the great storm they are both [in] at it.
“Also of the Duke d' Epernon and Duke of Guise meeting with great kindness and how, in my conscience, they one seek to deceive the other, as all the advertisements I can secretliest get assure me.” This is all I can until my audience.—Paris, 4 December, 1585.
Add. Endd. by Burghley. 1 p. [France XIV. 111.]
Dec. 4/14. M. de Combes to Walsingham.
Since leaving England, I have been for six weeks in the field with the “Conte de Nuenart” and “General Noris,” which is the reason why I have not written to your honour.
Our men are still about Nimeguen, strengthening the fort. The delay in the Earl of Leicester's arrival much retards matters and gives a great advantage to the enemy, who is on the other side the Rhine, strong in number, but miserably in want of victuals and very badly paid.
If her Majesty keeps the passages closed, so that no victuals can come from Holland and Zeeland, the enemy will not be able to keep an army in the field; for in Artois and Hainault (Enau) the country of Liége and Luxembourg, victuals are dear and growing dearer every day. In Flanders and Brabant there is no one at all in the country, and in the towns such high prices that a rasiere of wheat costs ten florins in Antwerp. In the last fortnight more than five or six hundred persons have left that city, so that the tradesmen have no custom and are obliged to leave the town.
The enemy greatly desires to besiege Neuss (Nus) and the Prince of Parma has got the Duke of Cleves (Clef) to make a fort close to the town on the German side, saying to him that it is only in order to guard his own country from being pillaged; but I know the contrary, for it is to prevent our people from coming out and getting provisions. The Prince of Cleves and his Council are just as good Spaniards as the Prince of Parma, and great enemies of her Majesty.
There is nothing new in Germany except that the King of Navarre's ambassadors are at Heidelberg, and are levying 6,000 reiters and two regiments of Swiss. The money has “for certain” arrived there. The King of France has sent Caspar ditz de Schonnenberg's pensionaries towards the Duke of Deuxponts. I do not much understand their negotiations, but I am quite sure that the King of France and M. de Guise are seeking to corrupt all the colonels &c. who wish to go into the service of the King of Navarre, and already it has been plainly discovered that the said M. de Guise has been plainly discovered that the said M. de Guise has gained some of them.
The King of Spain is being urged to make the King of Scots take arms against her Majesty. I have that from a native Spaniard. The Prince of Parma seeks eagerly to make a levy of 4,000 reiters, and has already written to Marshal d' Elx and others, but I do not believe it will go forward although the first who shall his army in the field next spring will have a great advantage.
Our soldiers have surrounded three thousand men of the enemy who have gone into the island of Bommelwert, so that they are encompassed by our ships of war. I hope they will have to surrender at mercy, for they have no provisions.
Touching France, her Majesty will never find but that the King of France and the King of Spain are all one, and if she does not take better care, I greatly fear that the fate of the late Prince of Orange may overtake her also. You know what has been proposed to me. When I was with your honour I did not wish to make too much of the matter, lest her Majesty might think I was doing it in order to gain a great reward. I am and always shall be her humble servant and shall recognise no other prince as my master. Thanks to her good offices, the States have confirmed my pension.—Wesel, 14 December, 1585, n.s.
Add. Endd. Fr. 3 pp. [Holland V. 87.]
[Dec. 5.] Leicester to Walsingham.
“I have received your letter but not Mr. Vice Chamberlain's which I perceive yieldeth but cold answer; above all other things yet that her Majesty doth stick at I marvel most at the refusal to sign my book of assurance, for there passeth nothing in the earth against her profit by that act nor any good to me but to satisfy the creditors, who were more scrupulous than needs; and for being privy to the matter, I did once tell her of it and I think so did you, but I said so much as I did complain of those which did refuse to lend me money and she greatly offended with them, but if her Majesty should stay that, if I were half seas over I must of necessity come back again for I may not go without money. I have left Atye and Thomas Dudley to deliver the assurance to the merchants and to receive the money. I beseech Sir, if the matter be refused by her Majesty bestow a post upon me to Harwich, where I shall be a Tuesday by noon. I lie this night at Sir John Peters and but for this doubt had I been to-morrow at Harwich. For all other matters I leave to God, and [torn] that I know will never blame my friends [for that] yll happ.
“I pray God make you all that be counsellors plain and direct to the furtherance of all good services for her Majesty and the realm, that with good consciences you may uprightly discharge yourselves; and if it be the will of God to plague us that go and you that tarry for our sins, yet let us not be negligent to seek to please the Lord in our service.” Sunday morning.
Holograph. Add. 1 p. [Holland V. 88.]
[Mostly quoted by Motley, United Netherlands, i, 328.]
[Dec. 5.] Leicester to Walsingham.
I have received your [second] letter and see that you have not spoken with her Majesty since your letter of this morning . I mean to go to the camp “where my authority must wholly lie” and there do my duty; but I am sorry her Majesty deals in this sort, and so overthrows her own cause. If I can salve this sore I will; “if not, I tell you what shall become of me as truly as God lives.”
Another matter to be care fully considered is money. That already gone and this now given to the Treasurer will do no more than pay the end of this month. “I beseech you look to it, for by the Lord, I will bear no more so miserable burdens; for if I have no money to pay them, let them come home or what else; I will not starve them nor stay them. There was never gentleman nor general so sent out as I am; and if neither Queen nor Council take more care to help it, but leave men desperate, the inconvenience will follow which I trust in the Lord I shall be free of.
“For my own part, I have taken upon me this voyage not as a desperate or forlorn man, but as one as well contented with his place at home and calling as any subject was ever; and my cause was not nor is other than the Lord and on him I see I am wholly to depend. I can say no more, but pray to God that her Majesty never send general again as I am sent; and yet I will do what I can for her and my country. . . . In all haste, ready to horse.”
Postscript.—Prays that the bill for his creditors may be hastened. Has left a bill for a lease, “not to be asked for but to be paid for to her Majesty,” which he begs may be sent to John Morley. There is 3,000l. forfeit if he do not deliver it by the 15th inst.
Holograph. Add. Endd. 2 pp. [Ibid. V. 89.]
Dec. 5. Walsingham to Davison.
I need not write a long letter, as my Lord of Leicester left London yesterday, purposing to take shipping about Wednesday at Harwich, and so to land at the Briele, where he would be glad to meet you. “I wish he may find more comfort in his being there than he hath received in his departure from hence.”—Richmond, 5 December, 1585.
Signed. Add. Endd. ½ p. [Holland V. 90.]
Dec. 5. Thomas Brune to Walsingham.
By my last, of October 24, I told your honour how far I had proceeded in my charge of victualling, the whole of the small imprest made me being employed therein, and issued to the soldiers, for which I have the captains' bills, “with a good deal more provision here made upon my credit, to serve the moneyless garrisons of Ostend and Barrow. And that I could get no more money, though I offered to deliver the captains' bills to the Treasure's hand for more than the sum impressed to me, besides my loss by leakage of the beer, being brewed in August, the worst time of the whole year; no again made by the beef, butter and cheese; and the very heavy charges for freight and unlading, and the transporting thereof to Utrecht, Barrow and Ostend, by several deputies, whose daily charges were 13s. 4d., while may allowance was but 3s. 4d.
I wrote to you further “how needful it was to have our provision of bread-corn and beer-corn out of England, which I find very dear in these parts.” I would have them transported from Lynn, Yarmouth, Royston [sic] and Woodbridge and from the North parts as shall be found “best cheap” and most commodious. The port towns would be benefited, “some licence thereupon paid to you, which the said grain will bear well enough, and so the benefit thereby come wholly into your honour's chest. A month ago I embarked at Flushing to solicit this to you by word of mouth, thinking I might be spared here, where I can get no supplies to feed the soldier, but the wind changed and two days afterwards occasion was offered to give a new supply of victuals to Barrow, which I was constrained myself to see done, because I had no money to give to my deputies, but found means, being present, to furnish by credit. “My toil is great, my charge as much, my profit nothing, but is hitherto loss.” If a greater imprest may not be made to provide the necessary victuals I should soon be weary to continue as I do.
I beseech you be a means to her Majesty that the victualler may have licence to transport out of England the bread-corn and beer-corn for the troops, and also beer without paying licence. If the soldier must still pay the excise thereupon, he were better to drink good water than the bed beer which he can afford, unless he spends two-thirds of his day's pay upon beer “not being better than court beer brewed in England.”—Middelburg, 5 December, 1585.
Seal of arms. Add. Endd. 2 pp. [Ibid. V. 91.]
Dec. 6. Sir Philip Sidney to [Burghley].
“When I have better satisfied myself of knowing something then will I write to your lordship what I know. In the mean time I will only wish your son's coming over, assuring your Lordship that it is a government not to be thought smally of, if it please her Majesty to go forward with the action. For my part I am in the midst of the worst humoured people, but while they hope of her Majesty's taking their part so long I comfort myself with opinion that they will continue constant, but when that begins to fail it is time that both the garrisons were better replenished.”—Middelburg, 6 December, 1585.
Holograph. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Holland V. 92.]


  • 1. Medina Sidonia.