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79. PROCEEDINGS OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL (1526-57)

(A) Regulations for the Council (1526)

... To the intent that as well matters of justice and complaints touching the griefs of the king's subjects and disorder of his realm and otherwise ... as also other great occurrences concerning his own particular affairs may be the better ordered and with his grace more ripely debated, digested, and resolved from time to time, as the case shall require; it is ordered and appointed by his highness, that a good number of honourable, virtuous, sad, wise, expert, and discreet persons of his council shall give their attendance upon his most royal person, whose names hereafter follow: that is to say, the lord cardinal, chancellor of England; the duke of Norfolk, treasurer of England; the bishop of London, keeper of the king's privy seal; the duke of Suffolk, marshal of England; the marquess Dorset; the marquess Exeter; the earl of Shrewsbury, steward of the king's household; the lord chamberlain; the bishop of Bath; the bishop of Lincoln; Lord Sandys; Sir William Fitz-William, treasurer of the king's household; Sir Henry Guilford, comptroller; the secretary; Sir Thomas More, chancellor of the duchy; the dean of the king's chapel; Sir Henry Wyat, treasurer of the king's chamber; the vice-chamberlain; the captain of the guard; Doctor Wolman.

And forasmuch as the said lord cardinal, the lord treasurer of England, lord privy seal, lord steward, and divers other lords and personages before mentioned, by reason of their attendance at the terms for administration of justice and exercising of their offices and other reasonable impediments, shall many seasons fortune to be absent from the king's court, and specially in term times; to the intent the king's highness shall not be at any season unfurnished of an honourable presence of councillors about his grace, with whom his highness may confer upon the premises, at his pleasure: it is ordered that the persons hereafter mentioned shall give their continual attendance in the causes of his said council, unto what place soever his highness shall resort — that is to say, the lord chamberlain, the bishop of Bath, the treasurer and comptroller of the king's household, the secretary, the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, the dean of the king's chapel, the vice-chamberlain, the captain of the guard; and (for ordering of poor men's complaints and causes) Doctor Wolman.

And because ... it may chance some of these aforenamed persons to be absent for some reasonable cause; be it always provided and foreseen that either the bishop of Bath, the secretary, Sir Thomas More, and the dean of the chapel, or two of them at the least, always be present, except the king's grace give licence to any of them of the contrary. Which said councillors, so appointed for continual attendance, shall apply themselves effectually, diligently, uprightly, and justly in the premises; being every day, in the forenoon by ten of the clock at the furthest and at afternoon by two of the clock, in the king's dining-chamber, or in such other place as shall fortune to be appointed for the council chamber, there to be in readiness, not only in case the king's pleasure shall be to commune or confer with them upon any cause or matter, but also for hearing and direction of poor men's complaints on matters of justice; which direction well observed, the king's highness shall always be furnished of an honourable presence of councillors about his grace, as to his high honour doth appertain.

Nicolas, Proceedings of the Privy Council, VII, v-viii.

(B) Letters of the Council (1547)

[24 March.] Letters to my lord Wharton: that, being advertised by his letters of a late raid of the Scots ... , the lords here thought good ... to require him that, by one letter apart, he should inform them of the very certainty of their number and damage done by them at that time as truly as he himself was instructed therein; and by another letter to enlarge the matter, describing their number to have been upon seven hundred, and that they burned three or four villages on our borders, took notable Grays,[1] prisoners, and cattle away, with such other aggravations of that their raid as his wisdom in that behalf could set forth.

[28 August.] To Sir Thomas Chenye, lord warden of the Cinque Ports: to recommend Sir John Baker so to those that have the naming of knights of the shire as at the next parliament he may be made knight of the shire of Kent accordingly.

[28 September.] To the sheriff of Kent: that, where the lords wrote to him afore to the end to make his friends for the election of Sir John Baker to be knight of the shire, understanding that he did abuse towards those of the shire their request into a commandment, their lordships advertise him that, as they meant not nor mean to deprive the shire by any their commandment of their liberty of election whom they should think meet, so nevertheless if they would in satisfaction of their lordship's request grant their voices to Mr. Baker, they would take it thankfully. A like letter written to the lord warden of the Cinque Ports with this addition, that, being informed he should abuse their request to menace them of the shire of Kent, as they would not believe it, so they advised him to use things in such sort as the shire might have free election.

Acts of the Privy Council, N.S., II, 461, 516, 518 f.

(C) Minutes of 28-29 April 1550

At the star chamber. The lord chancellor, the lord high treasurer, the lord privy seal, the bishop of Ely, the lord Paget, the lord Mountague, Sir John Baker, Sir John Gage, Sir Edward North....

Complaint was made by certain clothiers that the Merchants Adventurers by agreement had set such a price upon their cloths that, without the loss of 20s. in a piece, they could not utter them; for the more perfect knowledge whereof all manner of clothiers that then were in London appeared in the star chamber by commandment, where the more part denied to be privy or of counsel with the said complaint, finding great fault with the multitude of clothiers lately increased in the realm, affirming that, as long as every man that would had liberty to be a clothier, as they have now, it was impossible to have good cloth made in the realm. For he that is not bred up in that faculty must trust his factors, and so is commonly deceived; and now the good making is decayed, the cloths are out of estimation, by reason whereof the prices must also decay. Wherefore it was concluded that some device should be had for a law that none should meddle with cloth-making but such as have been apprentices to the occupation.

For the clothiers' matter the Merchants Adventurers were called before the council, for whom the mayor of London with certain of the chiefest of the company appeared, and to the complaint of the clothiers answered that they agreed not together to hinder the clothiers' prices; but the truth is that there lie at Antwerp such a number of our cloths unsold, that till they were uttered these here would not well be bought, which, together with the naughtiness of the making, hindered the prices; and besides that it was commonly not used to ship any between Easter and Whitsuntide.

Further divers reasons were made by them touching the decay of our money by exchange, with other devices touching the commonwealth, which they were commanded to put in writing....

Upon a letter received from the mayor and citizens of Newcastle, declaring the restraint made for uttering of coal into strange parts, and desiring now to know whether they might sell any to such Frenchmen as were already come thither for them: it was agreed that for the present time, to the intent we should not seem uncourteous to the French upon the conclusion of this peace,[2] they therefore that were there might carry coals away; nevertheless, forasmuch as the price of coal is wonderfully increased within the realm, and will daily be dearer if strangers may carry it oversea, therefore the restraint shall continue, and warning be given to the Frenchmen that be there now to come no more, and to warn their countrymen not to lose their travail; with further commandment to the mayor and his brethren to write the names of the carriers and the quantity of the coal that should be sent to Calais or Dover, that if it be transported otherwise the parties may be punished, for the more surety whereof they that do ship it shall at their return bring a testimony in writing where and how they have delivered it....

Ibid., III, 19 f.

(D) Report to the Council on Princess Mary (1551)[3]

First having received commandment and instructions from the king's majesty, we repaired to the said Lady Mary's house ... , where shortly after our coming I, the lord chancellor, delivered his majesty's letters unto her, which she received upon her knees, saying that, for the honour of the king's majesty's hand wherewith the said letters were signed, she would kiss the letter, and not for the matter contained within them. "For the matter," said she, "I take to proceed not from his majesty but from you of the council." In reading of the letter, which she did read secretly to herself, she said these words in our hearing: "Ah! Good Master Cecil took much pain here." ... We told her ... that the king's majesty's pleasure was we should give straight charge to her chaplains that none of them should presume to say any mass or other divine service than is set forth by the laws of the realm.... Hereunto her answer was this: first, she protested that to the king's majesty she was, is, and ever will be his majesty's most humble and most obedient subject and poor sister, and would most willingly obey all his commandments in anything, her conscience saved; yea, and would willingly and gladly suffer death to do his majesty good. But rather than she would agree to use any other service than was used at the death of the late king her father, she would lay her head on a block and suffer death. "But," said she, "I am unworthy to suffer death in so good a quarrel. When the king's majesty," said she, "shall come to such years that he may be able to judge these things himself, his majesty shall find me ready to obey his orders in religion; but now in these years, although he, good sweet king, had more knowledge than any other of his years, yet is it not possible that he can be a judge in these things...." Finally, when we had said and done as is aforesaid and were gone out of the house, tarrying there for one of her chaplains who was not with the rest when we gave the charge aforesaid unto them, the lady Mary's grace sent to us to speak with her one word at a window. When we were come into the court, notwithstanding that we offered to come up to her chamber, she would needs speak out of the window, and prayed us to speak to the lords of the council that her comptroller might shortly return. "For," said she, "since his departing I take the account myself of my expenses and learn how many loaves of bread be made out of a bushel of wheat, and I wis my father and my mother never brought me up with baking and brewing; and, to be plain with you, I am weary with my office, and therefore, if my lords will send my officer home, they shall so give me pleasure.... And I pray God to send you to do well in your souls, and your bodies, too, for some of you have but weak bodies."

Ibid., III, 347 f.

(E) Letters of the Council (1552-53)

[19 January 1552.] A letter to the sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire: to elect a new knight of that shire in lieu of Sir Henry Parker, deceased, at the next county day; and to use the matter in such sort as Mr. Sadlier may be elected and returned, for that he seemeth most fittest of any other person thereabouts.

[31 December 1552.] A letter to Thomas Gresham: to take order for the sending over of the king's majesty fustians by piecemeal by forty or fifty bales at once; so as thereby the matter may be so warily and circumspectly handled as the prices of the same fustians may be in any wise furthered to the king's majesty's best advantage.

[15 March 1553.] A letter to the lord treasurer: to suffer Thomas Galiard to transport beyond the seas 200,000 pair of old shoes; providing that under colour thereof he do convey beyond the seas nothing prohibited to be carried out of the realm.

Ibid., III, 459; IV, 199, 236.

(F) Committees of the Council (1554)

The names of all such as be appointed for the purposes following. To call in debts and provide for money: my lord chancellor, my lord Paget, my lord chamberlain, Mr. Comptroller. To give order for supply of all wants at Calais, Guisnes, and all other pieces of those marches; to give like order for Berwick and other places upon the borders of the north; to give like order for Ireland, Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight, and the islands: my lord treasurer, my lord steward, my lord privy seal, my lord of Sussex, my lord of Pembroke, Sir John Bourne, master of the horse, Sir Richard Southwell, Sir Thomas Cornewalles. To give order for the ships and to appoint captains and others to serve in them: my lord admiral. To give order for victuals necessary to be sent to Calais, Berwick, etc.: Mr. Comptroller, Sir Thomas Cornewalles, Sir William Drury. To consider what laws shall be established in this parliament and to name men that shall make the books thereof: my lord chancellor, my lord treasurer, my lord of Durham, my lord Paget, Mr. Petre, Mr. Baker, Mr. Hare. To appoint men to continue in the examination of the prisoners: [left blank]. To consider what lands shall be sold and who shall be in commission for that purpose: [left blank]. To moderate the excessive charges: my lord steward, etc., for the household; my lord chamberlain, etc., for the chamber. To consider the patents and annuities payable in sundry places, so as the same may be paid all in one place: my lord chancellor, my lord treasurer, my lord steward, Mr. Baker, my lord Paget, Mr. Petre. To appoint a council to attend and remain at London: my lord Riche, Mr. Peckham, the master of the rolls, Sir Thomas Pope, Sir John Mordant, the lieutenant of the Tower.

Ibid., IV, 397 f.

(G) Letters of the Council (1555-57)

[3 May 1555.] A letter to George Colte and Thomas Danyell: to make search for John Barnarde and John Walshe, who have used to repair to Sudbury and, carrying the bones of one Pygott that was burned about them, do show the same to the people as relics and persuade them to stand in their error; and upon their apprehension to examine them and, if they be found faulty herein, to commit them to ward; and further to order them according to the laws, and to signify their doings hither.

[29 June 1555.] Several letters to the sheriffs of Kent, Bucks, Berks, and Oxon: to make search for one Francis Baringden, who is thought to lurk in those counties with the wife of one Fallowfelde, merchant of London, whom he hath enticed from her husband; and to apprehend them both and to commit them to ward, and to signify what they shall have done herein hither.

[7 January 1556.] A letter to the mayor and aldermen of the city of Coventry: to cause some Catholic and grave man to be chosen to their mayor for this year coming; and for that the queen's majesty is advertised that John Fitzherbert, Richard Whestler, and one Colman, of the said city, are Catholic and honest persons, they are required to give their voices to one of them to be mayor.

[14 January 1556.] A letter to the lord mayor and sheriffs of London: to give substantial order that, when any obstinate man condemned by order of the laws shall be delivered to be punished for heresy, that there be a good number of officers and other men appointed to be at the execution, who may be charged to see such as shall misuse themselves, either by comforting, aiding, or praising the offenders, or otherwise use themselves to the ill example of others, to be apprehended and committed to ward; and besides to give commandment that no householder suffer any of his apprentices or other servants to be abroad, other than such as their masters will answer for....

[27 June 1557.] A letter to John Fuller, mayor of Canterbury: of thanks for his diligence in the apprehending and committing of the players to ward, whom they are willed to keep so until they shall receive further order from hence; and in the mean [time] their lewd play book is committed to the consideration of the king and queen majesty's learned counsel, who are willed to declare what the same weigheth unto in the law, whereupon they shall receive further order from hence touching the said players.

[18 October 1557.] A letter to the master of the horse, the lord chief justice of the king's bench, Sir Richard Southwell, and Mr. Newdigate: to call before them one Newport and his man, remaining presently in Newgate, and one Cowley, remaining in the king's bench, and to examine them by the best means and ways they can touching certain counterfeit crowns taken with the said Newport, and to put them to the torture if they shall think so convenient.

Ibid., V, 120, 154, 218, 224; VI, no, 187.


[1] Presumably men by that name.

[2] Signed 24 March 1550.

[3] Made by commissioners who had been sent by the council to warn her to obey the law concerning religious usages.


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