Proceedings in Star Chamber: 13th February 1602

Pages 352-356

Historical Collections: Or, An Exact Account of the Proceedings of the Four Last Parliaments of Q. Elizabeth. Originally published by T. Basset, W. Crooke, and W. Cademan, London, 1680.

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13th February 1602

44 Eliz.

After the Parliament, at the end of Hillary-Term next following, the Lord Keeper, by her Majesties express Command, made a Speech in the Star-chamber, on the 13th of February, all these Personages being present, viz.

Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Keeper of the great Seal.
The Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Lord Buckhurst, Lord Treasurer of England.
The Earl of Shrewsbury.
The Earl of Worcester.
Sir William Knolls, Controuler of her Majesties Houshold.
The Bishop of London.
Sir John Fortescue, Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Sir John Popham, Lord Chief Justice of England.
Mr. Secretary Herbert.
Sir Edmond Anderson, Lord Chief Justice of the Common-Pleas.
Sir-----Peryam, Lord Chief Baron.
Mr. Baron Clarke.
Mr. Baron Savelle.
Mr. Justice Fenner.
Mr. Justice Kingsmell.
Mr. Justice Warberton.

After a silence made, and some sew Motions made by Mr. Atturney-General, and the Queens Counsel, and some others, the Cryer of the Court again made silence, and the Lord Keeper putting off his Hat, and then putting it on again, spake to this effect.

The Lord Keeper's Speech in the Starchamber.

My Lords,

"I Am by her Majesties commandment to deliver unto you her gracious pleasure, and those things which out of her Princely wisdom and care she hath thought fit to be made known.

"I scarce know how to enter into this matter, and I am sorry that now in speaking I shall lay open the looseness of the times: neither are her Majesties Proclamations regarded, neither her Councils Letters respected, neither her late-made Statutes and Decrees obeyed, nor put in so due execution as they ought.

"These things deserve to have a more round and strict course than have been used; and we deserve not so gracious a Pardon as it hath pleased her most gracious Majesty, out of her meer goodness, lately to bestow upon us: but this onely to divers persons and offences, of those which live in degree of private men.

A Charge for the keeping of Lent strictly.

"But I am to speak of Offences of Mayors, Justices of Assize, and men of that condition. The time of Lent and abstinence from Flesh, if it be not duely observed, what Dearth and Penury will not almost ensue? And therefore was the time of Lent well placed, even in the Spring, and the beginning of the increase of Beasts. Her Majesties express command is, That it be strictly observed, and that with this caution, That where fault shall be found, that there extremity shall be inflicted, and that no toleration of such offences shall be suffered.

"Next, That ye inquire what Places and persons are fit to be suppressed and looked unto; Ordinary-tables, Tippling-houses, some even Brothel-houses or worse, in which both of Muttons, Veals, and Lambs, there is continually made an unmeasurable expence.

"But consider who are the men that devour the Substance of the Land, which should sustain us all; what kind of men be they? even your discoursers, which do introduce Novelties, and slander the State; the most pestilent, seditious, and dangerous Members of the Land. In rooting out these men, you shall shew the best part of your duties to God and her Majesty; which her Majesty expressly chargeth you to take special heed of.

To relieve poor Souldiers.

"I am also to remember you what good Laws were lately made for the punishment of vagrant Rogues and sturdy Beggars, and for the provision of poor Souldiers; the neglect of which duty, in not seeing these good Laws executed, will draw Gods curse and displeasure upon us: And therefore order by you ought to be taken, that those which be poor be relieved, and idle persons suppressed, which do mispend the good gifts of God plentifully bestowed upon us: That you look the poverty of Souldiers be relieved according to their quality and degree, and that twenty pounds by the year be not given to some, when others, far poorer, have but forty shillings by the year: And therefore look that those Laws that were last made be not last, but first put in execution. These be matters and crimes, which if they be not amended, the Commonwealth and State may still stand, and languish, though not perish.

"But there is another matter of great importance, which if it be not looked unto, will overthrow even the body of the State it self; which none can or will deny, unless he be given over to a senseless stupidity. It is not unknown what Plots have been and are laid against the Queens Person (whom God preserve) and the body of the State, by those we call Jesuits, unnatural Vipers ready to eat out the belly of their Mother; who being now grown to some strength and head, do proceed with more violence and greater malice in their actions, than ever heretofore.

About Jesuits and secular Priests, their practices.

"They have made unto them an Archpriest and Ruler, the principal Agent against God, the Queen, Religion, and the State, because they might execute their dangerous Enterprizes and Designes with a kind of conjoyned Unity. They do not stick to determine even in the height of their pride, great, yea even the greatest matters. In this the Secular Priest is no Agent, neither dangerous in that degree to the State: for as there be degrees of Offences, so are there degrees of Offenders. But I excuse not the Secular Priest, and therefore therein I pray you mistake me not; for what Writings and Books have been extant and are given out, of their Quarrels and Controversies! and I warn you to take heed of them.

"There be three Workers in the subversion of the State: First, the Jesuit; secondly, the secular Priest; and thirdly, a kinde of Parson of our own Religion, yet as he thinketh of a more pure spirit, disliking onely the government of the Church and State. These her Majesties pleasure is, That you should be more diligent to search out than you have been, and to observe who entertains these in their houses which be of the Catholick Roman Religion.

"Those that incur the danger of the Law, let them now look for execution, howsoever offences heretofore have been tolerated by Magistrates not doing of their duties. Many are Justices of the Peace, but what do they but maintain Quarrels, Stirs, Controversies and Dissention betwixt their Neighbours? We have two evident Examples; the one in Gloucestershire, the other that was moved this morning, viz. in Sir Thomas Throgmorton's Case.

Concerning Justices of the Peace.

"The thirst after this Authority, proceedeth from nothing but an ambitious humour of gaining of Reputation amongst their Neighbours, that still when they come home, they may be presented with Presents, and that they may sit high on the Bench in the Quarter-Sessions, that they may maintain and buy Titles. Is there any more servent than others in the business of the Commonwealth? he straight hath given him the Epethite of a busie Jack: but I know there be many good, and I wish their number were increased; but who be they? even the poorer and meanest Justices, by one of which more good cometh to the Commonwealth, than by a hundred of greater condition and degree. And thus much I had in commandment to say to Justices of Peace, to Commanders, to Constables, and other inferiour Officers.

"To you who be Justices of Assize, there yet remaineth, by her Majesties express commandment, a further Charge and Admonition to be delivered: That you see the great offences, which heretofore have not been, to be hereafter punished. And her Majesty said, she hath chosen you to be Justices for your wisdom and integrity; and she hath divided you by two's in several Circuits, to ride twice every year, that the one might be aiding and assisting to the other, not onely to try a Nisi prius, or decide some petty Cause, but with special care and diligent observance, to look into the disorders of your Circuits, suppose for the purpose in Norfolk, although truely I think that County is best govern'd; and I would say more, if he which rideth that Circuit were absent.

"To examine Justices touching Misdemeanours, to inform her Majesty how many Ale-houses they have pulled down, how many Priests they have taken, and who harbour them; and of all these matters to give an account to her Majesty at your return, that she taking notice from you, the good Justices may be rewarded, and the evil removed.

An. 1601.

" Your not doing of this, breedeth nothing but impunity, which is dangerous in the State, and the very root of Sedition and Rebellion: And Clemency of this nature, is Crudelis Clementia, but the other Securitas Salutaris. Her Majesty commanded me to say unto you, that she would have you spend more time in understanding the faults and grievances in every of your Circuits, than you have heretofore done; for she faith, that she hath not been informed of any more than of one onely.

"This you may well do, and she commandeth it to be done, the times being so peaceful, which I hope will continue. And as God hath blessed her Majesty these Forty four years amongst us, so I hope God will yet lengthen her days: for the continuance of which, weought all to pray for.