Memorials of the Guild of Merchant Taylors of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist in the City of London. Originally published by Harrison, London, 1875.
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John Stowe, An Examinant Before The Lord Mayor And Master And Wardens, In 1568.
A controversy arose between Elizabeth and the Duke of Alva about the seizure of Spanish Treasure in the Straits of Dover, which led to reprisals upon English subjects in the Low Countries. The incidents were stated on behalf of Her Majesty by a Proclamation, dated Hampton Court, 6th January; and on behalf of the Duke of Alva, by a Manifesto from the Spanish Ambassador (Don Guerau D'Espes), dated 10th January 1569.
This Manifesto gave great offence to the Privy Council, and an examination was held before the Civic authorities to find out by whose agency, currency or circulation had been given to it. On the date of its publication information was sent up from the Drapers' and Haberdashers' Companies, and one John Baptista appears from another informant to have read the Manifesto to some English Merchants at the Pope's Head, in Lombard Street.
On the 17th February, the same enquiry was pursued before the Master and Wardens of the Grocers' Company, and before the Lord Mayor, upon which latter occasion John Stowe was put under examination, as appears in this extract:—
"Coram majore Civts London'.
"Decimo septimo die ffebruarii 1568, annoqz undecimo Dñe Elizabeth Regine. "Deis die et Anno.
"John Stowe, m'chauntt, a collector of cronycles, examined, sayth that he hath a copy of one of the foresayd billes in englyshe, and he had the same of one Henry Boswell aboute fortenight paste. And he sayth that he redd the same to one Allyn a taylor, and one Snellinge a carpentor, his neigbors; but he sayth that he nev' gave copy oute of yt. And he sayth that he had an other copye of the same of one Roberte Calye Stacyon', and conferred them bothe together and made one true copye oute of them bothe. And he saythe that the sayde Boswell tolde hym that he had the same of a Spaniarde Pryson' wth Mr Osborne in the Spanishe tonge, wch one of Mr Osborne's S'vants translated into Englyshe."
As Stowe had evidently talked the matter over with his brother Taylors, the enquiry was referred to the Master and Wardens of the Guild, and it is curious to note from the depositions of the several examinants how very shy of knowing much about the matter they appear to have been. The knowledge or memory of the nine Taylors examined was too frequently failing them to bring guilt home to any ' brother of the craft,' though John Stowe possibly stood exposed to some risk. The depositions were in these words:—
"Examynacons had & taken by the Mr & Wardens of the M'chanttaillors of these psons undernamed, cons'nynge a writynge or answer made by or in the name of the Spanysshe Imbassador unto a Proclamacon of late sett forthe by the Quenes Matie for the Admonishinge of her Subjects to forbeare the traffique into Kynge of Spaynes Countrie.
"Ffirste, George Sotherton, M'chanttaillor, beinge examyned upon the p'mysses sayethe, That he aboute three weeks paste, sawe a copie of such a like writinge, written in the Englisshe tonge in thands of William Meryck, M'chantaillor wch he read unto him accordinglie. And further he saiethe, That one Hannce Browne lienge in his house sayed, That certen Douchemen had knowledge of suche a like writinge, More thereof he cannot saye.
"Itm, Reignolde Barker, M'chanttaillor, likewyse sayethe, That aboute xiiij daies laste paste he harde a talke upon the Bursse, That one of the Barns shoulde have suche a like writinge, But who it was that gave that reporte, he dothe not nowe remember.
"Itm, Rycharde Maye, M'chanttaillor, sayethe, That aboute three weeks paste, he harde one, Hannce Ontease beinge at the postm' his house, That the Spanysshe Imbassador had made answer unto the Quenes Maties proclamacon, and that the sayd Hannce had read it in the Spanisshe tonge, more he cannot saye.
"Itm, Rorarte Hulson, M'chanttaillor, saiethe, That one Thomas Steven Skynner declarid unto hym, That one John Stowe, a M'chanttaillor, hadde a Copie of the same writinge from the Spanishe Imbassador, more he cannot saye.
"John William Kympton, M'chanttaillor, sayethe, That he harde saye, That one of the Barns hadde a copye of the same writinge made by the Spanisshe Imbassador, wch sayde Copie the saide Barns shoulde delyver unto the Quenes Counsell, But of whome he harde the same, he dothe not nowe remember.
"Itm, John Stowe, M'chanttaillor, sayethe, That he aboute xiiij daies paste or more, hathe hadde two sev'all Copies of the saide answer made to the Quenes Maties Proclamacion in englisshe, The firste Copie whereof, he hadde of one Robte Caley stacion' in Paternuster Rowe, and the other Copye he hadde of Harry Boswell abidinge wth Maister Osborne, M'chante, oute of the wch two Copies he sayethe, That he drewe oute one pfecte Copie, the wch he deliv'ed unto my L. Mayor, And likewyse the Copie wch he hadde of the acide Harry Boswell, And the Copie wch he hadde of the saide Harry Boswell, And the copie wch he hadde of the saide Caley was by the saide Stowe unto hym delyv'ed againe. And further he sayethe, That he harde saye, That the firste Copye of the sayde writinge was in the Spanysshe tonge in the custodie of a Strainger lienge in Osborne his house and was translated into englisshe by one of the s'vants of the saide Maister Osborne but by wch of them he knowethe not.
"And further the saide Stowe sayethe, That he did reade one of the sayde Copies unto one Thomas Steven Skynner, and whiles that he was readinge the same unto hym ther came two of his neighbors, viz., Robte Allyn, draper, & Willm Snelinge, carpenter, and also he the saide Stowe tolde Willm More, M'chantaillor, that he hadde sene suche a copie.
"Itm, Thomas Langton, M'chanttaillor, saiethe, That he sawe a Copie of the same answer in thands of one Hanse Wouters, factor for John Debend, beinge at the Postm' his house, wch answer was in Douche, and translated oute of Spanysshe as the sayde Hanse reported unto the saide Thomas Langton, and more he cannot saye.
"Itm, Abraham Smythe, M'chanttaillor, saiethe, That he aboute a monthe paste Did see a Stranger whose name, beinge at the Postm' his house translatinge of the sayde answer oute of Spanysshe into Douche, more he cannot saye.
"Itm, Willm Merick, M'chanttaillor, saiethe, That he hadd a Copie of the Answer that Kinge Phillipps Imbassador made to the Quenes Maties Proclamacon, deliv'ed to hym by John Baptyst Sanvittaris, in the Spanysshe tonge, wch Copie after the sayde Willm Merick had written it oute, woorde for woorde, in the Spanysshe tonge, deliv'ed it againe unto the saide John Baptist, myndinge to have p'sented the same answer unto Mr Secretory Cycell, did translate it into englisshe, And in the meanetyme did send woorde thereof unto Mr Secretory Cysell, by one Blase Sanders, of London, Grocer, that if his honor hadde not the same Copye, he woulde bringe it unto hym, who made answer to the saide Blase Sanders, that he hadde it frome the Imbassador And the Copie wch the saide Wm Merick translatid into englisshe oute of the Spanisshe tonge did deliv' it unto one William Burrowe to shewe it unto Mr Tamworthe of the Prevye Chamber, wch is not as yett come unto his hands. And for because he woulde have had the foresaide Copie fayre, written to have p'sented it as afforesaide, deliv'ed it unto one Xpofer Hudson, m'chante, that his s'vant mighte Copie it oute, who made two Copies thone for the saide Wm Merick, and the other to remayne wth hymself, also Robte Dowe, M'chanttaillor, requested to have a Copie of the same writinge wchhe gave unto hym And also the saide Wm Merick sayethe that the saide John Baptyste de Sarvitorris deliv'ed the same Copie unto Ozias Dearanda to translate it into the englisshe tonge the wch the saide Wm Merick did see, and readde it, more he cannot saye."
My attention was called to these papers by Mr. Martin, and they are numbered 17, 26, 38–9 and 40, and 120–2 and 143, in the Catalogue of State Papers (F.S.) Elizabeth, 1569–71, London, 1874.