Border Papers volume 2: March 1599

Pages 591-596

Calendar of Border Papers: Volume 2, 1595-1603. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1896.

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1046. Sir R. Carey to the Archbishop of York. [March 2.]

Warning him that the Scottish pledges have laid a plot to escape from York castle, and mean to execute it at once. Altiwick. Ro. Carey.

½ p. Contemporary copy. Addressed at foot. Indorsed: "2 Marcii 1598. The copie of the L. wardens lettre."

1047. The Council of the North to Cecil. [March 16.]

On receipt of your letter that there was some intelligence that the Scottish pledges meant to escape, colouring it, that by the hard usage and excessive rates of their victuals and necessaries in the castle, they could not ransom themselves: Mr Redhead the Queen's gaoler being then at Hull Mr Stanhope told us he had often warned the gaoler to be careful of them, and undertook to give special admonishment to the gaoler's clerk. At Redhead's return, we had him before us, both to give him such charge, and to see if he could answer his hard dealing with them. He declared they were at no further charge, but being all willing to sit at the gentleman's table, the charge was only 7s. a week their diet, and 3s. 4d. their chamber and lodging; and of 16, there were but 4 who paid him any money since they came: and since Christmas he had only taken for their lodging, and suffered them to buy their victuals where they would at the best hand.

To prove this, he brought us next day a note under their hands, which we send to your honor; and having also received a letter from the lord warden of the Middle March (the copy whereof we send you) some of us again admonished him to take heed to them; "and upon his mocion, it was not misliked" that he might find out their "intentes" of escape. Whereon he caused one Canby, a prisoner for killing a man, this last week to insinuate himself as willing to escape by their means: to whom they said first that 8, then 12 of them, meant shortly to escape, and if he guided them he should be well rewarded. They agreed to escape on Wednesday night last, and on our learning this, we sent men to watch the place where they broke out, and laid guard by one Mr Redmayne justice of peace and countrymen under him, at the other side of the castle, where they would fly; and so made sure of them. Thus on their breaking forth all 12 were taken "(with some labour and hazard)" and no hurt done, but the "watchmen of the cuntry," hearing the scuffle, "came rushing in with their bills, in the darke, and not knowing one from another, sore wounded a man of myne the Archbishop, wherof the next daye he died, and hurt a servant of me Edward Stanhope; and the lard of Whitto in leaping downe from the castle wall, broke his legg beneath the knee."The particulars will appear to your honor by the copy of Canby's examination the chief actor, and Mr Redhead's.

One James Dargon of York, detected to be a practiser to get them "horse or boote," on hearing their escape was intercepted, fled the town this morning, and we have sent after him.

We also inform your honor that Mr Henry Bowes Sir William's brother, while near the border last Tuesday, got news of this intended escape, and rode hither with speed, arriving next day an hour before the watch set for the escape, as will appear by the copy of his "discovery" herewith sent. We must "let you know that that the rowmes in the castle are verie weake for so many prisoners to be lodged in, of one consort, and for so weightie a cause: but for this presente the gaoler keepeth them in irons till her Majesties pleasure be further knowne." York. Signed: Matth. Ebor., W. Malorye, Tho. Hesketh, E. Stanhope.

pp. Closely written. Addressed. Indorsed. Small wax signet: a demilion (or griffin) issuing from a tower charged with a crescent, "E.S." at sides.

Inclosed in the above:—

(1) (Note by the pledges.)

The Scottish pledges underwritten, are weekly chargeable to Mr Redheade our keeper, for our diet and lodging at the rate of 10s. 4d. the week for 13 of us, from 22d June Jast until the 12th instant—and 3 of us from 16th September until the same day at the same rate—and subscribe our names 13th March 41st year of the reign "of our most soveraigne lady Quene Eliz., &c., 1598." Roberte Frysell, Thomas Eynesley, Dandy Hoppringle, Wm Elwood the elder, Simon Armstronge, Wm Hall, Dandye Davidson, Ralphe Mowe, James Younge, Richard Rutherforde, Ralf Bourne, Wm Taite, Richard Yonge, John Robson, Raphe Hall, Wm. Elwood the yonger. Vera copia. Signed: E. Stanhope.

½ p. Indorsed: ". . . the pledges charge at the castle."

(2) (Henry Bowes' report.)

15th March 1598.—The discovery of Henry Bowes of Stellinge in the county of Northumberland esquire, delivered to Edward Stanhope esquire one of the Council in the North.

Being keeper of Tynedale under Lord Eure's wardenry, and having done a favour in the Queen's service "to a couple of borderers," they in requital told him last week of a practice for delivery of the Scottish pledges; thinking it important, he entertained them kindly, appointing to meet them in 5 days, and coming to North Tyne on Monday last, met them on Tuesday before noon, and learned for certain that 8 of the principal pledges, viz., Simon Armstrong, Richard Rotherford, Thomas Aynesley, William Ellott the elder, Dandy Pryngle, William Hall, John Younge and Robert Fryzell were to be taken out of the castle, and would have been ere now if they could have got a guide about York as well as on the borders. And one of the Armstrongs had often passed between Liddesdale and York under colour of taking relief to Whithaugh from his friends, but really to lay the plot, &c.

They know also of a stable of horses for them, but whether at York or by the way, he could not well understand. Also that the Tyvedale men in the castle, under Sir Robert Kerr's wardenry, lately sent to their friends for a good supply, saying they hoped to need no more: and the friends of the Liddesdale pledges had given out that they had done all they could for them "and now they must doe for themselves or els starve."

So he came with speed on Tuesday last at noon, to York on Wednesday before night, to discover the matter to the Archbishop and council, fearing "it might have been performed that same night." Henry Bowes. Vera copia.

1 p. Indorsed: "The copie of Mr Henry Bowes his discovery," &c. Another copy of same. Signed: E. Stanhope.

1 p. Indorsed.

(3) (Canby's examination.)

The examination of Laurence Canbye "yoman" taken before Edward Stanhope esq. 15 March 1598.

Saith that being committed to York castle from Howden fair where a fray chancing in the street between one Dawson and him, Dawson being hurt died: the Scottish pledges at sundry times wished him to break prison and save his life, Whittough and the laird of Everton telling him, if he took their letters to Scotland, he should be so well used he would not need to care for England. But he said he would rather abide his trial, hoping the truth of his case would save his life.

This soliciting continuing, Edward Mr Redhead's clerk, while his master was in London, told him that Redhead had lodged him in the Scotsmen's chamber to have a care of them at night: and Mr Stanhope had given him (the clerk) special charge, so he wished Canby to have the more care. Thereupon he observing closely, saw they had an eye to the likeliest places for escape, both inside and out, and thought if they saw him willing to escape, they would declare their intentions, and he from time to time told Mr Redhead: who "about this day senight," said he would use him in a matter of counsell, and as Mr Stanhope wished him to feel their minds, "which (said he to this examinate) 'you may easy lie do if you will once seme to yeld to them that you are willing to escape.'" To which end, Redhead seemed to rebuke him and threatened to keep him shorter. Whereon the lairds of Everton and Whittough said to him, he might now see what to expect unless he got away.

So he said he was never afraid of his life till now, and if they would use means for him in their country, he would be beholden to them. They said 8 of them meant to escape unknown to the rest, and if he would go too, the Laird of Cesford would give him a horse and he would have gold enough and live better than he ever did in England. They said they would get horses by the way, and meanwhile lie in the woods and moors by day, and travel at night: that 4 of them "which laye in an owter chamber should "breake ther wall into the gallery, and so unbolte the doore where the other iiij laye, and this examinate and one Cubbage within them: and would then breake the gallery windowe and leape out over the posterne towardes the water syde, having (as they sayd) helpe promysed them by one James Dargon of Yorke to get them horses. But this examinate thinking that they might by that meanes have escaped before they could have bene caughte, advised them rather to use him to get them a boat to St Georges close, and he would conduct them to the water syde, and so go along with them to the waistes towardis Lancashier; which he wished because he was sure that if they were once on foote in St Georges close, they could escape no waye for water but by the castle mylls." They liked his advice, and Dargon in his hearing, promised them a boat against Wednesday night.

About Tuesday last the lard of Whittough told him they were going to take 4 more with them: Raphe Bourne, William Elwood "the boye," Richard Yonge and William Tayte, which he told Redhead next morning, their day for escape, that he might provide more strength for their apprehending.

He says further—to save "his bed fellow" Cubbage from violence, he advised them to give him a "pottle" of wine to drink and he would sleep sound: which they did.

That betwixt 8 and 9 o'clock after locking up, Hall, Pringle, Yonge, and Rutherford burst their chamber wall, got into the gallery, and unbolted the door where the laird of Everton and three more lay, and this examinate in the inner chamber: and then with an iron they had, wrested back the bolt of their lock and so Whittough and his company broke forth of their chamber, where the examinate likewise was, and then broke the chamber where young Elwood, Bourne, Tayte, and Yonge were, and so got all 12 into the gallery, where presently they broke the iron bars of the window and threw out straw to light upon, where William Hall, Raphe Bourne, James Younge, Robert Fryssell and Richard Young leapt down: and with the noise of breaking the window, other prisoners above them awoke and cried out: but with that Whittough, Rotherford, Aynesley, William Elwood elder, Dandy Pringle and young Elwood, ran and burst 2 doors and so ran to the walls, and all leaped over save Elwood the boy: this examinate running down a pace to the postern, getting forth with the keeper's men, to help to apprehend those that got first forth, and with assistance of those at St Georges and the watch, and the keeper's men they were all taken—Whittough breaking his leg in the fall.

He does not know how long Dargon had practised with them, but has seen him with them: and rather did "harten" him to get them a boat, than any horses, lest they escaped. Thinks he was acquainted with them on the Borders when he served there, and knows of no other man that practised with them. Laurence Canby. Vera copia. Signed: E. Stanhope.

pp. Indorsed.

Another copy. Laurence Canby. Vera copia. Signed: E. Stanhope.

3 pp. Indorsed.

(4) (Redhead's examination.)

Examination of Mr Robert Redhead keeper of her Majesty's castle of York, taken before Edward Stanhope esq., &c., 15th March 1598:—

First—He says he was straitly charged by Mr Stanhope before Christmas and often since, and his deputy in his absence, to take great heed to the Scottish pledges, as they meant to escape if they could: wherefore he placed some Englishmen among them, to discover their intent.

Farther, some 10 days since, Mr Stanhope and Mr Hesketh gave him special charges, as Mr Secretary and the lord warden of the [Middle] Marches had written of the Scots' intent to escape: and on Mr Stanhope's advice, he bethought himself of "a verie tall man " one Laurence Canby a prisoner for manslaughter, and in favour with the Scots, who might be trusted "to enter in league" with them for escape, if some favour was held out to him: and by Mr Stanhope's order, "adventered" to make trial of him, apparently using him more straitly than before, and threatening him "he would do his best to gett him hanged." Whereon Canby "made his mone" to the Laird of Whittough and some others, of these threats, and that he would lose his life without their help to get away before the Assises. So they "discovered" themselves to him, and said if he helped them as guide, Sir Eobert Carr would reward him, and he should "want neyther horse nor mony" in Scotland: all which discourse be reported to this examinate, and their further intentions, "with the very hower" when they meant to break out; who acquainted Mr Stanhope and Mr Hesketh, and dealt as they directed. At his request the Council sent 20 men to a place called St Georges, and Mr Redmaine a justice, with another company to lie on the other side of the castle, if they broke out there. And on Wednesday the 14th before 9 P.M., 8 of Mr Stanhope's men and 12 of his grace's, with Mr Redmaine and his, were placed as directed: when 12 of the chiefest Scots broke the chambers and an iron-barred window towards St Georges and 2 of the strongest doors, broke out, and when going to take the boat to cross the river of Owse, this examinate encountered them at St Georges, taking every man unhurt, save Whittough who broke one of his legs leaping a wall, and he now has them in irons in the strongest places of the castle: and says if he did not so keep them "and well garded with men to his great charge, that the strongest place in that castle would not keepe them one hower, the castle is so weake." Signed: Robert Redhead. Vera copia. E. Stanhope.

pp. Indorsed: "Mr Readheades examinacion."

1048. William Selby to the Archbishop of Yoek. [March 17.]

There is an intention to steal away all, or at least some of the best, of the Scottish pledges, either by breaking their chamber window towards the Owse, and taking a boat down to a ship or pinnace lying "redy for the nonce"; or by having led horses brought over the waste from "Teffedayle" as near York as possible, to wait for the pledges' escape, and if they cannot have horses for all, 3 or 4 of the best to escape thus: and they think they can do it easily, for they go into their chamber at 5 P.M., and no body sees them till 9 next morning.

They intend this presently, before the nights grow shorter. "I told Redheade the gaoler of a practise, but this advertisement is new comde."

I beseech your lordship to keep this secret, for if they hear, they will know what Scotsman advertised it. At the Court at Richmond. William Selbye. Vera copia. Signed: E. Stanhope.

¾ p Addressed at foot: "To the right reverende father in God my verey good lorde my lorde Archbishop of Yorke." Indorsed.

1049. Sir R. Carey to the Privy Council. [March 20.]

I received the inclosed this day from the Council of York showing the Scots' pledges attempt to escape, which if they had effected, would have been a great loss to this poor country, and a glory to their directors: for I assure you it is Sir Robert Ker's own doing to overthrow the borders, he being already tired of the justice begun and like to continue, "which is his fall, if his theeves fall."

I wish it would please your lordships on this occasion to solicit her Majesty to be pleased to set at liberty Mr Woodrington and Mr Fenwick, still prisoners with me: for they are much needed, the March being wide and myself not able to look to all the corners thereof. And very like that Cesford being disappointed of this purpose, will attempt some new device, which by their help I should the "redylier" prevent. I will "pawne" my credit for their appearance when required by her Majesty.

I pray you to direct the Council of York to be "verie cercumspect" in examining the business: for I assure myself there be Englishmen of good sort on the March that have been Cesford's instruments, and cannot be too sharply punished. Alnwick. Signed: Ro. Carey.

¾ p. Addressed: To the Council. Indorsed: " . . . Sir Robert Carey to my master."

Inclosed in the same:—

(The Archbishop, &c., to Carey.)

Thanking him for his letter advertising the intended escape of the pledges—which had been prevented through their confederates, and the 12 recaptured, Whithaughe's leg being broken, and one of their own men slain. York, 17th March 1598. Signed: Matth. Ebor., Tho. Hesketh, E. Stanhope.

¾ p. Addressed: To Sir Robert Carey as lord warden, &c.