Spain: July 1550, 1-15

Pages 118-135

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 10, 1550-1552. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1914.

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July 1550, 1–15

July 3. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 17. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: In accordance with your Majesty's letters of June 18th I presented myself immediately before the Council, and complained that certain information had come to your Majesty's knowledge respecting shelter that had been and still was daily extended in England, Cornwall and Ireland to several Scottish pirates who habitually attacked and robbed your Majesty's subjects. They took refuge and were harboured there, whence they could all the better and more easily commit their piracies; in which certain Englishmen were mixed up too, and profited by them. Your Majesty could not endure nor tolerate such conduct; and I requested that the King would establish order and enforce the law against the said Scottish pirates in the various ports of England, Cornwall and Ireland, or wherever the need arose, forbidding that they should be received, harboured or protected, and ordering them to receive condign and exemplary punishment for their transgressions, as the good friendship, perpetual alliance and commercial convention between the two sovereigns demanded.
I professed a hope that the King would do as I requested at your Majesty's command; otherwise the subjects of your Majesty would deem it expedient, for their satisfaction, to take revenge on the pirates wherever they might be caught.
They replied that they had no commerce with the Scots,—employing the word “commerce” casually,—and professed themselves to be greatly astonished at the account of the said pirates' doings, as if entirely ignorant of any such occurrences. They declared that they would not have failed to set matters right at once if they had had any knowledge of them; and that certain proclamations should be drawn up at once and published in the various harbours and ports, with penalty of death, to ensure that the said robberies and pillage should cease, as your Majesty requested. I replied that they knew best what commerce they carried on with the Scots; and that their excuse of ignorance on matters of public knowledge, which they now put forth, seemed a very unsubstantial one. The King's officers in every port and harbour ought to have done their duty and punished in an exemplary fashion the pirates, sea robbers (écumeurs de mer) and other thieves, for the reasons I had given before, according to the law. If they were about to draw up and publish ordinances and placards, let them be such, and carried out after such fashion, that some sort of result might be obtained. They persisted in asserting their ignorance, but reiterated their assurances that the said placards and ordinances should be observed and enforced hereafter. My Lord of Somerset then asked me what interpretation your Majesty would place on the word “revenge” I replied, would it not seem reasonable to him, unless the King took measures to repress the evil complained of as he was bound to do after being requested by your Majesty, if you decided to pursue and apprehend the said pirates and sea-robbers wherever they might be found, in redress of your subjects' wrongs, according to equity and justice? He did not vouchsafe any reply.
I then recounted the case of the master from Dordrecht, who was robbed about two miles from Harwich by the Scottish pirate whom I mentioned in my former letters. I added that four or five days ago the same Scottish pirate had robbed another ship from Rozendal with a cargo of corn, and two fishing-vessels from Dunkirk; but worse still, the pirate now no longer set the sailors ashore somewhere as he was wont to do, but kept them prisoners, so that they should not be able to lodge any complaints. The pirate I referred to was at that very moment somewhere about Harwich or Orford with his plunder. This, I said, could not be considered to bear out their assurances that they would have performed their duty if they had had any knowledge that pirates were anywhere about; for they had done nothing yet concerning what I had said and declared to them a few days before, when I remonstrated with them on the business of the master from Dordrecht. I finally requested that the Council would incontinently issue orders for the apprehension and exemplary punishment of the owner of the said Scottish vessel, of the other who was taken prisoner, and of those Englishmen who usually bought stolen goods, as well as of any who might have given support and help to the said pirates; and that the restitution of their goods and vessels to the seamen who owned them should be ordered to take place really and effectively, and damages and interest to be paid over to them too. They replied that they did not think matters were as bad as I had been given to understand, and that possibly the case might be found to be rather different. I replied that they might get rid of their doubts if they chose; and that they could give me no contrary instance to what I had advanced, which proved sufficiently how they had set about the matter. If they did their duty they would find that what I had said was only too true. They then said that they would provide a remedy incontinently. I replied that they assured me of the same the other day, and I could not tell how your Majesty would take it.
The goods and vessel of the master of Dordrecht are under arrest. I will further their restitution to the best of my ability.
The Scottish pirate had retired, as I said in my last letters, but came back again, as his latest exploits prove. They say that he has brought with him a warship from Calais, well equipped, to protect him in other enterprises.
The Bishop of London ordained sundry sub-deacons on the day of St. John (fn. 1) last, all laymen and mechanics; and they are to be sent throughout the country to preach the Gospel.
John à Lasco, the Pole, has returned here from the country of Emden (sic), (fn. 2) where he spent about two years, as I am told, and he intends to take a house in this town.
Some say that M. le Vidame and the other gentlemen (fn. 3) had been preparing some attempt to escape, but that they were found out. I have been told, however, that there is no truth in the report, and that the King has granted leave to the Vidame to go to Scotland for a journey.
It is rumoured that three days ago some who practised magic and the art of invocation were arrested. My Lord Treasurer's lady, being questioned by certain commissioners, confessed that she had asked to be told the fortune of her husband, of my Lord Privy Seal, Lord Warwick, and others; but that she did it only out of curiosity, to inquire what good or evil might befall her husband.
Madam: I received letters from your Majesty, dated the 23rd of June, on the last day of the same month. The Council had already given me an answer on the matter mentioned therein, as your Majesty will have seen by my last letters.
London, 3 July, 1550.
Signed. Cipher. French.
July 4. Brussels, E.A. 368. M. d'Eecke (Cornille Scepperus) to the Queen Dowager.
If your Majesty desires to hear of the doings of your fleet, may you be pleased to know that we arrived early last Sunday off the English coast with a strong head wind, large and small boats keeping together for fear the French and English might have some force in those waters, though we saw no signs of them.
We then steered our course away from the mouth of the Thames and the sandbanks that lie near there, and ran northwards that night, in the course of which we were overtaken by a fog so dense that we could not see from bow to stern of our ship. However, (thanks be to God!) we found our vessels all together in the morning when the fog lifted, and then decided that Captain Meeckere with the four larger ships should remain at sea outside the sandbanks, which abound along this coast, while I with the four smaller should run along inside the sandbanks, between them and terra firma, as far as I should be able to go, to see whether I might not discover some of the Scots and pirates who haunt these parts and are assisted by the English. Indeed it sometimes happens that a gang of Englishmen only includes one, two or three Scots. Thus, separated from the larger ships, I came up with the four smaller in front of the town of Harwich, in the county of Suffolk (fn. 4), which is one of the chief towns of these parts, and affords much shelter to pirates. There I left three of my ships, and coasted along Essex in the fourth towards the mouth of the Thames until I arrived at a place where there is a passage for vessels through the sand-banks, called Speidtz (sic), (fn. 5) which is always frequented by Scots and pirates. This passage is near St. Orsis (fn. 6) and Maldon, and there I remained Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. While I was there two armed Scottish pinnaces, with a Flemish boat taken from some Flemings, also armed, came up to Harwich hugging the shore, without being seen by the three ships I had left there. I was informed of this on my return here (off Harwich), and also heard that the said pinnaces had run far up a little river (fn. 7) between here and Ipswich out of fear of us. There is not enough water for us to follow them, and besides they are men of these parts, and their ring-leader lives at Ipswich and is called Jems Greyn de Donde (i.e. James Green of Dundee). He it was who recently brought two vessels from Dunkirk into this place and sold them; and he has been mentioned in Ambassador Scheyfve's letters. The pirates have all the peasants and inhabitants of the neighbourhood at their command, as we found last night on sending our people with three boats up the said river (Orwell) to find out where they were, and how strong. They discovered the pirates to be so much on their guard, and so well posted by the English, that they were unable to approach them. We have now received more detailed information from a boy, whom we suspect to have been sent as a spy. He came aboard with an English boat, saying he would give us news of the Scots. We will see what we are able to do without rousing the country-side, and whether it will be possible to attack them. At any rate the experience has made us eye-witnesses of the fact that the English, in defiance of the treaty between the Emperor and the King of England, and even of that between England and France, are supporting the Scots in their war against the Emperor, or rather they themselves are waging war against the Emperor.
Madam, even if this episode of the Scots had not occurred we would have been unable to leave this place while the storm that started yesterday went on. We are in a fairly favourable position, in which we cannot be attacked by the men of Harwich nor by the two castles on the banks near the harbour-mouth. The castles are of small account, but the town looks well enough from a distance; and this is all the news I can give your Majesty for the time being. (fn. 8)
Off Harwich, 4 July, 1550.
Holograph. French.
July 12. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 18. The Queen Dowager to Jehan Scheyfve.
We send herewith an account of our conference with the new English ambassador, which will help you by keeping you all the better informed on matters respecting your charge.
We have received your letters of the 3rd of this month, and noted your remonstrance to the Council concerning the Scottish pirates. The form of it was excellent; and you will insist that the prohibition under penalty of death against harbouring pirates in English ports, which they promised should be published, if it is not published yet, shall indeed take effect and not be rendered useless by connivance and dissimulation, or set aside altogether. We have written to the Emperor about the said Scottish pirate, so that he may order a strong remonstrance to be made to the English ambassador residing at his court. For your further information on the subject of the piracies, we are sending you a copy of a letter to us from M. d'Eecke. You will see that the English themselves are practising piracy, and you may make your complaints about it without giving M. d'Eecke's name as the source of the information. You will insist that exemplary punishment be dealt out to the culprits, such as to deter others from following their example, and that the stolen goods be promptly restored to their rightful owners.
We have recently been informed that the chief officers at Calais compel our subjects from Western Flanders, notably such as have been employed to work for them at Calais, to observe their new religion and be satisfied with their ceremonies, using threats if our people refuse to live according to their laws. We find these proceedings very strange and not to be tolerated. We request you, and command you in the name of his Majesty, to complain to the Council about it. Make them understand that they are wronging his Majesty as well as his subjects, and ask them to forbear at once from their unusual courses. The matter allows of no discussion, and unless they provide a remedy at once, we shall forbid our subjects in Western Flanders and elsewhere to work for them again under penalty of incurring the indignation of his Majesty, who is greatly displeased by these novel attempts.
Turnhout, 12 July, 1550.
Copy. French.
July 14. Brussels, L.A. 47. M. d'Eecke (Cornille Scepperus) to the Queen Dowager.
Madam . I have heard from MM. Van Buren and de Praet your Majesty's annoyance at not learning the details of our expedition. I am unable to express in writing my regret that this should be so, for I have always striven to serve your Majesty to the best of my humble ability; and you may be convinced that the only reason for this omission was a long spell of heavy weather that prevented Jehan Duboys from drawing up his report in writing, and even from remembering the exact words he exchanged with the person in question, for only time and repose could enable him to do so. Though he has now put down a certain amount on paper, he wishes to add more to it. Besides, as we two know that M. de Praet alone is in the secret, we thought we had better go to him and report it all, as we have done to-day in M. Van Buren's presence. Your Majesty will hear it from Jehan Duboys, who managed everything except the navigation, which I conducted in exact obedience to your Majesty's commands, as you will find to be true, and I have already written to you.
The above-mentioned gentlemen have commanded me to appear before your Majesty, as I had already resolved to do. Still, were it not for your Majesty's orders, they would have approved of my going to Zeeland to help getting the ships ready and seeing to the payment of the tonnage-dues, so that they may be kept up for the protection of the herring-fisheries. This would have silenced many rumours; and I have since mentioned to the gentlemen another consideration. In the Duke of Cleves' court there are many persons who often go to England, and all know me. However discreetly I might come, they would be sure to hear of it, and might start fancying all sorts of things, all of which might be avoided were I to go to Zeeland. Therefore, if it please your Majesty, I will go as far as Grave and there await your Majesty's orders as to whether I am to return to Zeeland or continue towards Cleves, (fn. 9) and I beg your Majesty to signify your pleasure to me. Of what has happened I shall be unable to tell you anything more than what Jehan Duboys will report to you. I implore your Majesty to pardon my remissness, which was due to the above-mentioned circumstances. I will endeavour to efface its memory from your mind by good and loyal service in the future.
Buren, 14 July, 1550.
Holograph. French.
Middle of July. Brussels, R.A. Prov. 13 “Report of Jehan Duboys on the matter concerning the Lady Mary, drawn up in full and as nearly as possible in the actual words spoken.”
The men-of-war arrived off Harwich, after much bad weather, on the evening of Monday, June 30th, and I, Jehan Duboys, left M. d'Eecke the next morning, as the passage I took was not navigable during the night, to go to Maldon. M. d'Eecke was to follow the next day, and proceed to Stansgate, (fn. 10) five miles from Maldon, with only one ship. There was a flat calm, and I had to have my boat rowed, so the tide turned when I reached Stansgate and prevented me from advancing any farther for that day; but as it was only two o'clock in the afternoon I decided to send out a small boat (boitkin) with one of my men who speaks English and my brother-in-law, whom I had taken with me as my partner in business, together with a sample of my corn. This I did in order that my Lady might be informed that I was coming with the next tide, as in fact I came, arriving at Maldon before three in the morning of Wednesday (July 2nd). I then wrote a letter in my simple Latin to my Lady's controller, (fn. 11) in order to avoid the necessity of meeting him and causing delays. The letter ran as follows:—
“Sir: I believe you are in receipt of my letters sent with Henry from Antwerp. I arrived here with the corn at about three this morning in a six-oared boat. Yesterday I sent my brother, Peter Marchant, to announce in this town that we had brought the corn, and were coming with the next tide; and this I did in order that you might the sooner be advised of my arrival. However, as far as I know, there was nobody there to take the corn or receive the said Peter. Therefore I am obliged to write now to point out to you that there is danger in delay, especially as M. Scepperus is now coming to Stansgate with a war-ship, and near Harwich there are three other ships waiting, and moreover four larger ships are out at sea. Consider therefore whether we must not hurry. There is yet.another reason as well: the water will not be as high to-morrow night as to-night, and will be lower every night until next moon, and we now have the advantage that the tide serves our purpose late at night and towards morning, that is, about two o'clock. By that hour or immediately afterwards all ought to be here, so that we may be on our way while the tide is still rising, and be carried out beyond the banks below Stansgate with the ebb, for my vessel draws a good deal of water. There is lying near me, however, a smaller vessel that would be much better, I do not know whether it belongs to you. I will sell my corn at once, and will be ready to-night. Please let me know your intentions. There would be danger were there to be many women.”
While I was writing these last words in my boat, the said Henry, the Lady Mary's servant, and my brother made their appearance. From them I learned that they had spoken with the Controller late the evening before, and that he had raised several difficulties tending to delay us in taking our load on board. He told them that as soon as I came he would visit me and give me a fuller explanation. I then added these words to my letter:—
“But they might still escape in disguise; and I beg you once more to give me an answer in writing with which I may satisfy the Emperor. I must add that I see no better opportunity than the present one; and this undertaking is passing through so many hands that it is daily becoming more difficult, and I fear it may not remain secret. However, I will yield to a better opinion, and I pray God to inspire you now; for the Emperor has done all he could.”
On hearing from the said Henry that he arrived with my letters eight or ten days ago, I instructed him to tell the Controller when he should present my letter, that if the packet was to be sent at all, now or never was the time. Holding many conferences with him was too dangerous a matter, and he must make up his mind and answer in writing; for as he well knew I had told him to look for our arrival any time after June 27th, by which time we should certainly be at sea.
When Henry had been gone about an hour, he came back saying he had met the Controller on the way, and the Controller desired me to come and speak with him in the grave-yard, (fn. 12) where he was walking up and down with a friend of his called Mr. Schurts (fn. 13) (sic) from the village. I went thither with a handfull of corn, and after we had bargained for the price of it, he said in a low voice that I was to follow him to his friend's house, who was the man he had formerly told me he desired to trust in this affair. We went to the house, and the Controller and I walked up and down in the garden. The gist of his talk was that he saw no earthly possibility of bringing my Lady down to the water-side without running grave risks, because of the watch that was posted every night at all the passages, the suspicions of certain of her household, which was not so free of enemies to her religion as she imagined, and the danger she would incur of being held back. Also, were she to go now that there was no pressing reason, for she was still as free to live as she liked as she ever had been, it might be imagined a mighty scandal would be raised. He also mentioned that she would lose all hope of the succession were her brother to die, and asserted that she still had plenty of time in which to escape. He was convinced that she would be in no way molested before the end of the Parliament that was to meet the following Michaelmas at the earliest, and then she would have the advantage of the winter, and of a house of hers called St. Ouses, (fn. 14) which had a garden from which it was easy to reach a place giving on to the open sea, and most favourable to such an undertaking. As I let him talk without interrupting, seeing clearly enough which way he was heading, he ended at length by saying that all his words were only considerations, and he knew not what my Lady would wish to do on seeing all things so ready on our side. For his part he could not refrain from speaking out the dangers he saw, as if everything did not go well he might be blamed for not having warned us. He asked my opinion, and when, if I thought she ought to go, my Lady must be prepared to start. I told him it was impossible to be too cautious in weighing all dangers; but as for the question he put to me, he must know that it was not my business to answer it, and also that I was nobody to advise one way or the other in a matter of so great importance. I could not state any given time, for we had only come for the following purposes: M. d'Eecke to command the ships and carry my Lady to safety, and I to report the preparations and provide a little boat as she had requested me. For the rest we were ready to do anything she might command us. There was no reason why our coming should put her in any danger, for we might go as quietly as we had come if my Lady desired us to do so, which would astonish me beyond measure, remembering in what disposition I had last quitted her Grace. The morning I left her I asked her once more, as my late master, Van der Delft, had instructed me, whether she was still as anxious to go as she had been the evening before. She then replied to me. “Yes; but your master and you must come for me, as he promised me.” Since then had come a letter of hers in which she said she was awaiting us. But as he (the Controller) was now of another opinion, although no new difficulty had arisen, I must pray him to show my letter to my Lady, and request her to give me her decision in writing for my discharge. He then said to me:
“Sir: I beg you do not judge me thus; for I would give my hand to see my Lady out of the country and in safety, and I was the first man to suggest it. And if you understand me, what I say is not that my Lady does not wish to go, but that she wishes to go if she can. Therefore I open my mind to you, asking the same from you in return.”
I told him I understood him well enough, and that I had written him all the opinion or mind I had to speak on the matter. Such communications were dangerous as well as wasteful of time; and as the thing was now a question of Yes or No, and he had the choice, he must be so good as to make up his mind and be quick about it, if it were to be done at all. As our ships had been seen by the men of Harwich, it would not be long before the Council were informed of their presence, and the Council might easily ruin all, even supposing them to have no suspicion of what we were about; for the Emperor greatly feared the lapse of time, which often discovered matters that passed through so many hands, whether they were put into execution or not. As for the difficulties he mentioned, especially the question of the succession to the throne, they were the very considerations the Emperor had some time ago caused his late ambassador to submit to my Lady, with many others, that she might think them over. She had replied, as he who had written the letters well knew, that the greatest necessity compelled her to leave the country. And since then, at the late ambassador's leavetaking, while the risks and perils of staying or going were being discussed, I had heard her, in his (i.e. the Controller's) presence, say these words:
“I am like a little ignorant girl, and I care neither for my goods nor for the world, but only for God's service and my conscience. I know not what to say; but if there is peril in going and peril in staying, I must choose the lesser of two evils. What gives me most pain is the thought of leaving my household, which, though small, is composed of good Christians who may, in my absence, become lost sheep, and even follow these new opinions. Thus might I incur God's censure, which would be a heavy grief to me. But if, in your opinion, I had better go, so be it in God's name; for I know of no danger in going that will not be as great or even greater (at any future time). (fn. 15) So I would willingly stay were I to be able to live and serve God as I have done in the past; which is what I have always said. But these men are so changeable that I know not what to say. What say you, Mr. Ambassador?” (fn. 16)
The ambassador, I went on, then repeated what he had said on other occasions: how he had written to the Emperor that he could form no other opinion from what the Council had said to him, and must believe they would eventually go so far as to forbid my Lady the observance of the old religion. He could say nothing else, and must repeat his opinion for his discharge. He was astonished that they were still lingering over the discussion, for it had all been gone over before. Here the Controller interrupted me with: “You say well; but this is not a matter to be hurried. I have done all I could; only quite recently I sent a good sum of money through Bonnisers, the merchants. And as for what you say of my Lady's words, they were that she wished to stay if she could, but yet have all things in readiness.” I said, Yes, but that he was putting the wrong interpretation on them. Then he told me that my Lady wished to speak with me, and asked when I could go to her. I begged him to present my most humble excuses, for I could not risk being recognised by members of her household nor court suspicion by remaining away from Maldon, and I must also see to keeping my men together. “No,” said he, “You may go off as if to demand payment for your corn; and I will lead you to our house through the woods, where no one shall see you.” But I insisted on not going, saying that when my Lady had seen my letter and heard his report I should have nothing more to say; so I must beg him to make up his mind and let me know. “Well then,” he said, “let your brother come at one in the afternoon to fetch the reply.” To this I agreed, saying it was better so, for as I was in disguise it was all the more important that I should avoid those who might recognise me. At that we parted, and the Controller told his friend Schurts to take over my corn after dinner and measure it. The Controller remained to dine with him, and they wished to keep me, but I thanked them, said it would not be wise, and went my ways.
When I found my seaman, whom I had already sent to the officials of the place to obtain permission to unload my corn and fish, and to pay the accustomed dues, he told me that he had as yet achieved nothing, and had been sent by one official to the other. So I sent him to Mr. Schurts, whom I begged to have the matter attended to. The seaman came back and told me he had found them at table, and that they had sent one of their men to beg the officials to come and speak to them.
I then went off to dine at my lodgings with my brother, the said seaman who knows English, and my host. Soon afterwards there arrived the bailiff of the place, the customs officer and a third person, who said they had heard that I had sold my corn to my Lady's Controller. I replied that such was the case, and made them sit down. During the conversation that followed they displayed some dissatisfaction that my Lady's Controller should have bought the corn before they had priced it (as they are in the habit of doing in certain places), and said they would have preferred to have it sold to the people. I told them I had a passport and power to bring more corn, as good as what I had there; but I would have to make a better profit if they wanted it. As for their valuing it, it was not my fault that the formalities had not been gone through, but theirs, for my seaman then present had been trying to find them all day long. Then came more talk, in the course of which they asserted that I must have more corn at sea and within the King's jurisdiction, for they said they had heard I had sold a larger quantity to the controller, over and above what I had already brought. Therefore I must pay duty on the whole lot together. I told them they would not find that to be true, but only that I was able to bring more, though not at the price the Controller had paid for this lot, which was only 10 English stooters (fn. 17) a measure for corn that cost me 19 patards. However, if I could make a decent profit I would gladly bring more to Maldon, for they harassed merchants to such an extent in London that I did not intend to go there for so little. They bade me come confidently, for I should sell as well and get my money as quick there as anywhere else in England. I told them I would do so, but that I did not understand why so simple a matter needed so much talk. “No,” said they, “you are welcome, and always will be”; and then, interrupting one another, “the Controller would have done better to have waited until we had done our duty; still, as it is for my Lady's Grace, whom we hold as high as the King's person, though she knows nothing of this affair, we will let it pass this time, but otherwise we might confiscate the lot.” I replied that I was quite content that they should do as they pleased. It was not my fault that the formalities had not been fulfilled, and as for the people, many of them had come to see my corn, but none had offered me more than 8 groats the measure, and it was obvious that a dealer must always close with the highest bidder. I was not so bound to the Controller but that I could leave them this lot of corn, if they outbid him, and bring more. But I wished to know how I was to be treated, and exactly how much duty I must pay. They told me it was nothing much, and as the corn was for my Lady it should be nothing at all. At that I offered them a piece of money as a present, but they refused to take it, and thanked me for the good cheer. I then asked if I might unload my goods. They told me I might do so as soon as I liked; and on the stroke of one o'clock I told my brother it was time to go, and that he might inform the Controller that these people were ill-pleased because he had bought the corn.
Soon after his departure I went down to my boat to have the corn measured out and handed over. And in the meantime M. d'Eecke's boat came up with twelve or thirteen men for beer and fresh provisions; but as the gentleman in command of the boat saw on my craft none of the tokens agreed upon between M. d'Eecke and me, he put off again with his stores without speaking with me, and I made no sign of knowing him. The bailiff of the place, on seeing the boat, asked me whether it had come from the ship I had out at sea with more corn on board. I replied that I had no other corn nor ship than what he saw before him, but that the new-comers might be from a man-of-war, for on my way I had seen the Emperor's ships that were said to be in search of the Scots on this coast. Said he, “That is what I think. They seem to have come for supplies.” And with that he left me and went towards them.
Soon after six in the evening my brother returned with the aforesaid Henry, who brought me a horse to carry me to my Lady, saying that he would lead me by a secret way. This he did, without anyone seeing me who could possibly recognise me. I was met by the Controller, and had a long talk with him while my Lady was making ready to receive me. He told me he had reported our former conversation to my Lady, and then went on in the same strain as before, saying that the Emperor was wise in considering that my Lady might wait until she had been further pressed, in order to go with greater justification, for it must not be forgotten that she would lose all chance of the succession. He told me as a mighty secret, adjuring me to give no hint of it to anyone, that he was quite persuaded the King could not outlast the year; for he and others knew his horoscope to say so. I remarked that his mistress and he must know what facts they had to take into consideration, though on the same facts my Lady had twice declared that she wished to go. I myself had been present on the latter occasion, and had asked her Grace by my master's orders, before taking leave of her, whether she was quite decided to go. She had replied in the affirmative, as I had told him before dinner. I would be so bold as to make no secret of my thankfulness to the Creator, now that all these difficulties were coming up, that my Lady's letter had reached me at Antwerp, that I had presented it to the Queen after my master's death, and that it had been sent to the Emperor; for it might otherwise be imagined that we had given a false account in our reports. God knew that my master's illness had partly been brought about by his disappointment when he learned he was deceived in his hopes that the undertaking might be carried out when he left the country, after the many letters he had written to his Majesty on the subject. However, there was no reason why they should consider themselves obliged to act in one way rather than another, and if my Lady wished to stay she should be welcome, and no harm done, except that the whole business was so near being discovered that it was most improbable that it could be kept secret.
“For the love of God,” said he, “do not say that to my Lady! She is a good woman and really wants to go; but neither she nor you see what I see and know. Great danger threatens us!” I told him I would take care to say nothing that might unnecessarily alarm my Lady, but I could not conceal from her anything that she might afterwards regret she had not known. I knew we were on the point of making peace with the Scots, and would have done so already on advantageous terms had it not been for this matter. Once peace was made the Emperor would have no pretext for keeping at sea the armed ships which he had ordered to serve an additional month for this purpose. For my part, I added, I could see no peril greater than that incurred by delaying and neglecting to seize this opportunity, such as it was. Some of our ships' company had been heard to say they suspected they were going for the Princess of England, as they had done ten years before, as my Lady might know better than I. Also one of my men had told me he had been in a house at Maldon where the Council's dissatisfaction with my Lady, because of her religion, was discussed, and someone had said they would be glad to see her out of the country, and with the Emperor.
While talking we were summoned to my Lady's presence. According to her custom, she inquired after the Emperor's and Queen's health, expressed her gratitude and regretted the trouble M. d'Eecke and I were taking on her behalf. I replied that our trouble was small if it could do her any service; but that time pressed, as I had written in bad Latin to her controller. “I have your letter here,” said she, “and also the one you wrote before; but I am as yet ill-prepared, and it seems you wish it to be for to-night.” I replied, “Any time your Majesty (sic) pleases; but I have spoken and written to your controller the reasons for which prolonged delay appears to me dangerous.” She then mentioned the preparations she had made, packing up some of her property in great long hop-sacks, which would not look as if they contained anything heavy. I made so bold as to say that once she had crossed the water she should lack nothing, and that her effects did not matter so much, for the great thing was to conduct her person to safety, which was the point upon which she must now make up her mind. “I do not know,” said she, “how the Emperor would take it if it turned out to be impossible to go now, after I have so often importuned his Majesty on the subject.” I replied that if she was satisfied the Emperor would also be content, and she might safely write such a message and send it by me. “And were I to do so,” said she, “would you take my rings now?” I answered that I would do anything her Majesty (fn. 18) commanded me, but she already knew how that question had been considered, as it would be dangerous to send things first that might betray the principal secret. I humbly begged her first to take care of her person, for as she was minded to risk her rings she might as well go with as after them. She then spoke with her Controller, and also called in her principal woman of the bed-chamber, who was keeping the door. They all three then appeared to come to a decision, and my Lady turned to me saying that she could not be ready before the day after next, Friday; but that she could then leave her house at four in the morning under the pretext of going to amuse herself and purge her stomach by the sea, as her ladies did daily. Four o'clock was just the time when the watch retired; and my Lady asked me whether the tide would also serve. I replied that it would do very well, and that the Queen had also approved of carrying out the enterprise at daybreak or evening, rather than at night; but it was to be feared that, in the meantime, the Council might be informed that our war-ships were so near. “Well then,” said she, “the Queen and I are of one mind. And know you that the very day your master left London two of the King's galleys, called the Sun and the Moon, also left and came up to Stansgate, where they stayed three or four days? Such craft have never been known to come so far up the river. And their captain was the Vice-Admiral, (fn. 19) the greatest heretic on earth. It is more than time I was hence, for things are going worse than ever. A short time ago they took down the altars in the very house my brother lives in.”
While we were consulting as to how the affair had best be managed for Friday, and how we might let M. d'Eecke know, so that he might retire for a day or two, there came a knock at the door of the room where we were, and the Controller went out. In the meantime I asked my Lady why she did not avail herself of her house of St. Osyth, of which her Controller had spoken to me. She answered that it was too much under observation, for a lord was residing there who had just been admitted to the Council. The Controller came in at this point, with: “Our affair is going very ill. There is nothing to be done this time, for here is my friend Mr. Schurts, who has ridden hard from Maldon to warn me that the bailiff and other folk of the village wish to arrest your boat (this to me), and suspect you of having some understanding with the war-ship at Stansgate. Some men from the village have been to see the ship, but were not allowed to go on board. Therefore they intend to send expressly on behalf of the village by next tide, and ask the ship its business, holding you and your men in the meantime to examine you here.” In fact he represented the matter as so serious that we might expect to see the beacon-fires, that are wont to be lit on the approach of enemies, blazing along the coast by the following evening. He added that he was thankful I had not stayed to dinner, for it would have proved the destruction of his friend Schurts. We were greatly troubled by these tidings, and knew not what to do or say. I put some questions to the Controller, wishing to know exactly what was happening; but he went out again, saying he would obtain fuller details. Meanwhile, my Lady said, “What shall we do? What is to become of me?” And she also asked me what the Emperor had said when my master returned, and when I took the despatch to him at Aix-la-Chapelle. I replied that I knew nothing, for I had addressed myself to M. d'Arras, who sent me back again as soon as he had spoken to the Emperor; for his Majesty had decided to leave the conduct of the undertaking to the Queen.
The controller then came in and said, “I see great danger. My friend here says there is something mysterious in the air (aliquid latet quod non patet), and that you had better depart at once, for these men of the town (i.e. Maldon) are not well-disposed” I told him that I could not go before the tide, and if I was going to be arrested it would mean too grave danger for my Lady in case I were recognised; so it would be better to hide me than to risk discovery by my arrest. But as the matter was so desperate, it might be best of all to take my Lady down to the boat and get her off in secret, as I also should have to go; for if I failed to escape, my Lady's danger would be as great as if she had made the attempt. “No,” said the Controller, “that is impossible, for they are going to double the watch to-night, and what is more post men on the church-tower, whence they can see all the country round—a thing that has never been done before. So all we can do is to see to getting you out of this.” We went on discussing for some time in great perplexity, my Lady repeating, “but what is to become of me?” all the while, until at last I said we must come to some decision, for it was beginning to get dark, and once the watch was set I should be unable to go. The Controller then went out once more, and on his return said that he had asked his friend to wait, and given him to understand that I had come for the money for my corn; he would take me with him and get me past the watch. I was to say I had received my money, and he (i.e. the Controller's friend, Mr. Schurts) would enable me to return in safety and go at the next tide. I asked whether I might be certain that all would go as he said, for though it was very important for me, I cared much more for what concerned my Lady. “I assure you truly it will,” he replied, “and I have told Schurts to request the bailiff on my behalf not to give you any trouble, saying I have friends in your country whom I would not like to know that you had been bothered with my knowledge, especially after I had bought from you.”
So we finally decided, my Lady still repeating “but what is to become of me?” that within ten or twelve days the Controller should send me one of his servants, called Baker. This was a man of confidence, the very one who had waited for the corn's arrival, and by him the Controller would send me some part of my Lady's effects and would write the exact day when they could be ready to put the plan into execution immediately upon the arrival of our ships. It seemed to them that the best place would be Stansgate, whither my Lady might repair from New Hall to purge her stomach, as above. New Hall was fourteen miles away, so she would set out in two or three days from the place (fn. 20) where, as she said, she had always awaited me, and proceed to New Hall, where she would be able to arrange everything with greater convenience, and whence the said Baker should be despatched to me. I told them that in that case they had better make haste, for besides the reasons already stated, I knew the Emperor had other affairs pending with England, which he had put off so long because of this matter that further delay would be impossible. The Controller assured me they would not fail, and asked me if I still wanted a reply in writing; I told him I had too good cause for breaking off the undertaking to please me. My Lady instructed me to commend her most humbly to the Emperor and Queen, and thank the Queen warmly for accepting the gentlemen from her household. I replied that her Majesty had done so right willingly, and hoped soon to see my Lady in person. “You see,” said she, “that it is not our fault now.” “No,” said the Controller, “but his (Duboys') for not bringing more corn.” I asserted that I had had corn enough, and that was not the trouble, but he ought not to have bought it, which he did contrary to my plan. Then I humbly took leave, and my Lady wished the said Henry to go with me so that he might report after seeing me off. The Controller went out and saw us mount, recommending me to Schurts, who took charge of me. It was nearly mid-night before we reached Maldon.
At that place Schurts and I passed the watch without difficulty. There were quite twenty men, with the bailiff in person, and Schurts talked a long time with him, but I only heard, as it seemed to me, that he was offering on the Controller's part to let the bailiff and others have the corn. We then went to my lodgings, where I found my brother; he told me the bailiff and some of the watch had been there shortly before, asking to see the permission I said I had to export corn out of our country. It was shown to him, and he went away.
Thence Mr. Schurts took us down to my boat, which was lying ready by the bank. He told me through Henry that he had spoken to the bailiff about my departure, but that I would do well to go as soon as the water should serve, without further talk.
When the time came, about two o'clock as it was beginning to dawn, I set out imagining myself to have all my men on board, for I had found them asleep without lights. However, they told me that the best among them, he who knew the turns of the river, had been on shore since the evening before. I was greatly put out at this, but I did not dare to send after him. So we left him behind and made every effort to get out of the bay where the village (i.e. Maldon) is. On looking up at the church tower to see if the watch was there, I was relieved to see no one aloft, nor down below on the ground either. But the said Henry failed to come to take over from me another counter-cipher which I was to send to the Controller.
The same morning, about nine o'clock, I came up with M. d'Eecke, whom I found riding at anchor between Stansgate and Harwich, just off St. Osyth, and on the main route from London towards the North of England. I reported the above occurrences to M. d'Eecke; but when I heard from him that he had not moved from that place, I suspected that the Controller had made out the situation at Maldon to be more dangerous than it was in reality. When the seaman we left ashore, Cornelis Linghelsman by name, returns, we shall know more about this. We have since heard that he has gone off safely towards London in order to find a passage.
From the day I rejoined M. d'Eecke until July 7th such a storm raged, with a wind in the wrong direction, that we could not return to this country. It seemed to me wise to recall these facts to my mind during the journey, and set them down plainly in writing, in order to omit nothing that might elucidate this affair; for were I to relate so complicated a story by word of mouth, it would be difficult to form an opinion on it. It also seems to me, subject to correction, that in my present position I had better come to court as little as possible, especially if M. d'Eecke, or other persons of my acquaintance, are to be there. But I might stay with M. d'Eecke, as we had decided at sea, remaining as near court as possible in case the Queen's Majesty wished to question me further. I also ought to go to await the said Baker, who is to look for me at the late ambassador's house in Antwerp, because the Controller already had the address in writing.
And now to make an end, I humbly beg her Majesty's forgiveness if I took too much or too little upon myself in the communications recorded above. I was so amazed at not being met as I had expected, that I could think of no better course.
Written and signed by Duboys. French; the direct quotations, with the exception of a few words, are in Latin.


  • 1. i.e. June 24th.
  • 2. John à Lasco, the famous Polish reformer, who had been Bishop of Vestrim (1529) and Archdean of Warsaw (1538). He spent about a year—Spring 1549 to Spring 1550—at Emden on the Dollart.
  • 3. French hostages to remain in England until the second payment for Boulogne, due in August, 1550, should be effected.
  • 4. Harwich is really in Essex.
  • 5. Probably St. Peter's, a point on the south shore of the Blackwater, near its mouth.
  • 6. St. Osyth, on the north side of the Blackwater.
  • 7. The river Orwell.
  • 8. If this letter is compared with Jehan Duboys' report dated “middle of July, 1550,” it will be seen that Scepperus is here informing the Queen Dowager, in veiled and conventional language, of the occurrences related by Duboys. From this letter the Queen Dowager would understand that the attempt to carry off the Lady Mary had failed; though were it to be intercepted by the English it would not betray the real object of Scepperus's expedition.
  • 9. Grave is on the Meuse, in Holland, some 20 miles from Cleves.
  • 10. Stansgate Abbey is about six miles by water from Maldon, and twelve by road. The one remaining trace of the abbey is port of a church, now used as as barn, which possesses no feature of interest. Near it stand two or three houses, one of which may have sheltered the Lady Mary when she came to Stansgate to take sea-baths.
  • 11. Sir Robert Rochester.
  • 12. The grave-yard here referred to must be that of S. Mary's, which church stands overlooking the river. Its tower is doubtless the one referred to farther on in this letter, at which Duboys glanced up from the river to see whether a watch had been posted on it. There are two other churches in Maldon, S. Peter's and All Saints'; but they stand in the middle of the High Street, and their grave-yards would not be chosen as secluded spots.
  • 13. Of what English name is Schurts a garbled version? An examination of the Maldon parish registers, which go back as far as 1556 and 1558 respectively, yields nothing better than Sherbourne, Shovelard, Studd, Shuxberry.
  • 14. This must be St. Osyth, on the north shore of the mouth of the Blackwater.
  • 15. The passage in italics is underlined in the original.
  • 16. Marginal note, also in Duboys' hand: When I was speaking with my Lady she reminded me of her using these words, and repeated them to me in substance, asking me if I remembered. I replied in the affirmative; but I do not now remember exactly when she made the remark, though it was on the occasion when the Controller throw the whole affair into confusion, as shall be seen presently.
  • 17. The stooter was of the same value as the groat, at this time nominally fourpence. Nine patards went to a shilling.
  • 18. It will be noticed that Duboys addresses the Lady Mary as “your Majesty.” Neither the Emperor, the Queen Dowager, nor any of their ministers used that style in writing to her before the death of Edward VI, doubtless because documents were occasionally lost, and such a statement would have proved a dangerous weapon in the hand of an enemy. I have found one other letter only in which an instance occurs. It is from Scheyfve to Mary, of December—, 1551. The French had often attempted to persuade the English that the Emperor regarded Mary as rightful Queen of England, and Edward as illegitimate. In reality this was the Emperor's view; but not officially.
  • 19. Henry Dudley.
  • 20.