Elizabeth: December 1586, 21-25

Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 21, Part 2, June 1586-March 1587. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1927.

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'Elizabeth: December 1586, 21-25', in Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 21, Part 2, June 1586-March 1587, (London, 1927) pp. 282-287. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/foreign/vol21/no2/pp282-287 [accessed 20 April 2024]


December 1586, 21-25

Dec. 21. "Brevait of the accounts [of the Anticipations] of the Low Countries." With apostiles in the margin, and notes of the figures by Burghley on the dorso. Endd. with date. Fr. 3 pp. [Ibid. XI. 81.]
As they are sending certain deputies to beseech her Majesty to enlarge her aid for the preservation of these provinces and their defence against the King of Spain and his adherents ; and knowing his honour's great affection to their welfare, they pray him to lend a helping hand to persuade her said Majesty to be pleased to consider the present state of their affairs, and their war against the enemy, which still continues, notwithstanding the succours she has given them and their own forces, and to grant these their humble requests ; whereby his honour will do service to God and a great favour to themselves. W. Roelsius, president. The Hague, 31 December, 1586. Signed by Aerssens. Add. Endd. Fr. 1 p. [Ibid. XI. 82.]
The bearer of this, Captain "Wynkeffeld," a kinsman of Sir Philip Sydneys, "and one who he made more account of than of all the captains in this garrison," is since his death, put from the Queen's pay into that of the States, a thing very strange, and against her Majesty's contracts. It breeds much confusion that four companies are to be paid and the other to have nothing, for the States have flatly denied to pay them, and the town will not victual them. His Excellency sent order since he went that the merchants of Middelburg should send twenty pounds a week to six companies in this town and one in the Rammekins, with a proviso that the two companies in the States' pay should have nothing ; so that only four companies here "have of that money." This gentleman's company is one of the strongest in the town, "and he one that hath more care of the soldier and of the discharging his duty than any other of them that be captains here. His putting him out of the Queen's pay hath proceeded by Master Digges, as I understand. I beseech your honour, be good to the gentleman. You shall find him very honest and wise." For myself, I remain here at your honour's pleasure. The wages I have are but four shillings a day, "which is not able to find me here." I pray your honour think of one who will be your faithful servant as long as life remains in me.Flushing, 21 December, 1586. Add. Endd. 2 pp. [Holland XI. 83.]
I send your honour herewith my Lord President's letter (fn. 1) in my favour. I was at the Brill, about to bring it you myself, but my Lord President sent a post to stay me, "because he is determined to go presently upon a piece of service," so that I cannot myself make my griefs known to your honour (from whom alone the martial minded men find relief). Wherefore I send this bearer with the letters, praying that I may be restored to my office of serjeant-major again ; or else that one of the young captains in the Brill might be called into the field, and I and my company placed there. And, understanding that the Marshal, who is lieutenant governor there, wishes to leave, that it will please your honour to stand my friend in procuring me the same, for I should be lothe to serve in the field as a private captain, "having had the place of commandment before." Brill, 22 December, 1586. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Ibid. XI. 84.]
Dec. 24. WILKES to WALSINGHAM. (fn. 2)
I formerly wrote to you of the controversy at Utrecht, (their Estates being compounded of the nobility, clergy and towns, containing three several members), the towns having inhibited the clergy to appear in their public assemblies, and meaning to cass them, upon pretence that this third member is a hindrance to their good proceedings. The nobility take part with the clergy, and do not think it fit "that one third member, inferior to the other two, should take upon him to depose the first member, being the clergy, without the authority of the sovereign governor or the general assent of the Union." This Council deputed the Count Meurs, M. de Medekerk and Dr. Hotman to hear the controversy and take order therein until the return of the Lord General or some other to take his place, "showing it to be an overboldness in the towns to take the same upon them, without the privity of his lordship, and in prejudice of his authority. And as the Count Meurs and the rest were travailing to reduce them to a good accord, there came a letter to the captains of the Bourgeoisie of the town of Utrecht (being the principal movers of this dissension) written from Mr. Herle, I know not by what authority and direction (a copy of which I send herewith) by the which they have taken heart to persist obstinately in their purpose, persuading themselves that their proceeding will be avowed by her Majesty ; and albeit that letter of Mr. Herle do not directly touch the matter, yet the large promises he maketh in her Majesty's name of her absolute purpose to embrace their cause avec la plaine main as he termeth it, hath been the occasion that they have uttered in public speeches that the letters of her Majesty's ambassador Herle hath given them sufficient hope that her Majesty will not mislike of their doings in going about to banish popery out of that province, which they make to be a show and countenance of their dealings ; but as I am informed, the most part of those that are of this Clergy and do hold the ecclesiastical livings are married and of the Religion ; and in truth, as far as I can perceive, this quarrel is not against the persons of the ecclesiastics, because they are content that the persons shall continue in their assemblies, but against the livings, which they mean to convert to some other uses. And although for my own opinion I think the church livings were most fitly to be converted to the defence of the public cause ; yet the manner of the doing thereof (as now it is attempted) accompanied with so great danger, 'would' be speedily prevented ; for all men of judgment here are of opinion that if it be not stayed, it will hazard the loss of the town and consequently of the whole province." I hear that the magistrates have sent Herman Modet, their chief minister to acquaint her Majesty with the matter and make good their proceedings. He is unknown to me, "but by the report of M. de Villiers the minister and Seravia, a great learned preacher of Leyden, with whom I have lately had conference.... he is taken to be the greatest 'mutyne' in all these countries, and it is avouched by them and others of the best credit and judgment here that he was the only occasion of the loss of the town of Ghent..... The Prince of Orange in his time could never brook the same Modet, and as the Count Maurice telleth me, he did always oppose himself against the counsel and designs of the Prince his father..... I know that my Lord North, Mr. Killigrew and Webbe (fn. 3) have greatly supported him in his humours at Utrecht, and it is not to be doubted but they will do the like at home." If her Majesty tenders the preservation of Utrecht, being the key of Holland towards Frise &c., she should speedily send some person of credit to the States of the province and interpose her authority for the staying of this disorder. I think no man were more fit than Mr. Dr. Clarke, who knows those men and their humours.The Hague, 24 December, 1586. Copy. 2 pp. [S.P.F. Archives XCI., p. 23.]
Before your lordship's departure certain ships of war of this country were sent into the river of Ems, to impeach the transporting of corn and victual to the enemy at Hamburg. The ships have continued ever since in the mouth of that river, whereby those laden for the enemy have been stayed from passing, as also divers others, bound for other places. The magistrates of Hamburg having sent to our Admiral to depart and to suffer their ships to pass, and withal to signify the cause of his abode within the river, he answered "according to such instructions as for that purpose were given unto him." Whereupon the magistrates wrote hither to your Council, entreating that order might be given to remove him with his fleet and no longer to encumber the traffic to and from the town. To which answer has been made in your lordship's name, a copy whereof is enclosed, (fn. 4) by the which you will see "that it is not thought convenient to remove the ships, and much less to suffer the provision made by the enemy to pass. It hath been also found expedient here to give express charge to the Admiral that he permit not any ship laden with corn or victual within that river, of what nation soever, to pass unless it may appear sufficiently unto him that the same is not coloured for the enemy. And because I was unwilling that the resolution so generally taken should be put in execution without a provision for her Majesty's subjects, who either in their own vessels or others might in this time of dearth have made provision of corn for England, it was thereupon agreed that such of them as had laden corn within the river for the time present should not be molested upon any reasonable proof that the same were expressly provided for England" ; and for the time to come, I was desired to entreat you to be a mean to her Majesty and the lords of the Council to give order that such of her subjects as should hereafter trade to any place in the river of Ems for corn or victual must have your lordship's passport ; that not only all colourable means of relieving the enemy by the English may be prevented but also that no just offence be given to her Majesty by staying any of her subjects in case of suspicion. "There hath been, sithence your lordship's departure, much spoil and disorder committed here by the soldier upon the platt country, to the great hindrance of the common contributions, grown by two means ; the one in respect that the towns have refused to accept the garrisons appointed them ; which thereby were constrained to live upon the villages, and the other for lack of pay." The money promised by the States comes in so coldly that we cannot reduce the companies ; we do not know when or how the soldiers shall be paid, "who stand upon terms to mutiny almost in every place," and so, as also to avoid the spoil of the countries, it has been thought fit to employ some of them against the enemy, Sir John Norreys being appointed General, with a commission to attempt upon the enemy as he shall think convenient ; being furnished with artillery, munition and some ships of war to assist him on the Rhine. The rendezvous is at Campervene, whence I think he will march towards Wesel, about which town are three regiments of the enemy. "The enemy continueth his preparations in Brabant, and hath brought down to Stenberghen some 3000 men. It is doubted that he intendeth to besiege Berges op Zome, for the defence whereof we make as good provision here as the present necessity of means and money will permit us. The castle of Wauue continueth in mutiny, and now he that we suppose to have been the cause thereof, can do no good to repress it, whereat he stormeth greatly. We fear still it will be lost, the enemy being now so near unto it. "I see no great haste made here to send away the deputies. The States say that there be yet some difficulties undecided for the matter of the sovereignty. First some towns of Holland made bones thereat, and now they say that Zeeland is not resolved." Mr. Hotman will write the matters of Utrecht at large.The Hague, 24 December, 1586. Copy. 2 pp. [S.P.F. Archives XCI., p. 26.]
It having pleased the Earl of Leicester to give me the charge of this town and the English garrison here until her Majesty shall appoint a governor ; whom I daily wish to see, it being a place of such importanceI am humbly to let your lordship understand how our case stands for the relieving of these companies weekly until their pays may be made to them. The Earl, at his departure, granted a warrant for the weekly imprest to the seven companies here and at the Rammekins to the English Merchant Adventurers of 20l. a company, and ten pounds for the Marshal and other officers. "Who considering very honestly the furtherance of the service....make weekly the said payments to five of the said companies, to our great aid and relief." But Captain Winckfeild and Captain Randolph, who are in the States' pay get no part of this, by reason of a proviso in the warrant that none in the States' pay shall receive any of it ; which has been like to breed some discontent in these two companies, especially as in Sir Philip Sydney's time, they were paid as the rest. And the States refuse them any money or relief at all. Wherefore I have presumed to borrow of the said merchants upon my own bond 160l. stirling, to be paid within six weeks, which I receive as shall be needful, until it please your lordship to give order in the cause. And as I have no commission to discharge them from this town or to bring any others in, I continue them here until I have direction from your lordship ; praying you to pardon me if any way I have done amiss. I will use all dutiful means to keep things in good and quiet order, and shall husband the money as need shall require until your pleasure be known. I must either have the said sum answered in England, by your lordship's good means, "or else to have the proviso in his lordship's warrant unto them by some letter allowed ; either else, to pay it at the day myself....although my ability will hardly stretch thereunto. I have taken the more money and the longer day for fear that wind and weather should hinder your lordship's resolution."Flushing, 25 December, 1586. Postscript. The pay of 20l. weekly to these two companies begins in December, 24. Annexed, a slip of paper, perhaps meant for his lordship privately. "Pardon my long silence ; but if there be not a more orderly war and better discipline used in this service than hitherto hath been, it will breed a general discontentment ; loss of men, consuming of treasure, and danger [to] the State and cause. And therefore better an honourable peace than an uncertain war, not maintained thoroughly. I leave the particularities for fear of blame, which to your lordship cannot be unknown. I accuse none, but my conscience moveth me thus much." It is reported that the castle of Waugh, near Bergen is sold to the enemy by the discontented captain and company, for want of pay. It is to be feared more will follow. Add. Endd. by Burghley. 2 pp. Seal of arms. [Holland XI. 85.]
I have received your letter on behalf of a gentlewoman here, and will stand her in stead all I can for your sake ; for you well know I have desired your goodwill more than any others. "Make trial of me when you will, you shall find it true and in good faith. I crave you as news come from England....acquaint me therewith, for I rest here in the confines of the world, neither expecting or accepting any good, but hardly bestead. Money we have none, nor any other joy save this, that I merit heaven with patience. I desire your favour that these poor men may be better looked unto. I know you may further us towards the States, and herein doing....I shall, as I am already, be yours wholly at commandment."Deventer, 25 December, 1586. Copy. Endd. p. [Ibid. XI. 86.]


  • 1. See Norreys' letter of Dec. 18, above. He was President of Munster.
  • 2. Printed by Motley United Netherlands II., 117-8.
  • 3. Thomas Webbe. He was still at Utrecht in 1588. See letter from him to Lord Willoughby, H.M.C. Report in the Earl of Ancaster's papers, p. 174.
  • 4. At page 280 above.