(A) Proceedings on a Case in London (1558-59)

[3 December.] Where the chief justice of the king's bench did of late make out an attachment against the judge of the admiralty, upon pretence that he had intermeddled in his jurisdiction in a matter depending between one Adam Wyntropp of London and John Combes, a Frenchman: it was this day ordered by my lords of the council, upon the hearing of both the said judges and what either of them could allege for himself, that as well the process awarded out against the said judge of the admiralty as the said matter in controversy between the said Wyntropp and Combes shall be stayed until their lordships, upon consideration of what hath been alleged on both sides for the maintenance of their several jurisdictions, shall take some further order therein; for the better doing whereof they were commanded to bring to my said lords of the council a note in writing of the cases wherein they have or may contend for their said jurisdictions, so as thereupon their lordships may determine some stay and order between them according to equity and justice. The said Wyntropp, being this day brought before my lords, was commanded that he shall not any further proceed in the matter between Combes and him until their lordships shall take further order therein, upon pain of double the sums of the action that is taken against him.

[27 February.] A letter to Alderman Marten, Thomas Hunt, Thomas Huett, William Holland, and Edward Castelin of London, merchants; with a supplication enclosed and exhibited unto the lords of the council containing matter of variance of long depending between one Adam Wyntropp and one John Combes, Frenchman: by which letter the said alderman and the others are authorized to call the parties before them from time to time and to hear and determine all matters of controversy between them, and to take such final order in the same as may both be agreeable to equity and the good quiet also of the parties hereafter, wherein they be required to travail and take some pains and to certify thereupon what they shall have done in the premises.

Acts of the Privy Council, N. S., VII, 12, 62.

(B) Committees of the Council (1558)

[23 December.] For care of the north parts towards Scotland and Berwick: the earl of Arundel, the earl of Shrewsbury, the earl of Bedford, the earl of Pembroke, the lord admiral, Sir Ambrose Cave. To survey the office of the treasurer of the chamber and to assign order of payment: the lord chamberlain, Mr. Comptroller, Mr. Secretary, Sir Walter Mildmay. For Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight: marquess of Winchester, the earl of Arundel, the earl of Pembroke, the lord admiral, the captain of Portsmouth, Richard Wurseley, Peter Smith. For consideration of all things necessary for the parliaments: the lord great seal, the judges, the serjeants-at-law, Mr. Attorney, Mr. Solicitor, Sir Thomas Smith, Mr. Goodericke. To understand what lands have been granted from the crown in the late queen's time: the marquess of Winchester, the lord great seal, the lord Rich, the lord North, Mr. Mildmay.

Ibid., VII, 27 f.

(C) Letters on Judicial Matters (1559-66)

[15 March 1559.] A letter to the lieutenant of the Tower: that, where there remaineth in his custody the bodies of one Pytt and Nycholles, for the robbing of a widow called Bate in Saint Ellyn's in London, he is required to call the knight marshal unto him in this matter; and, upon examination of the parties, if they shall obstinately persist in the denial of their fact,[1] he is willed to cause them to be brought to the rack and to feel the smart thereof as they by their discretions shall think good for the better bolting out of the truth of this matter.

[25 February 1565.] A letter to Sir John Rogers, knight, George Rogers, Thomas Morton, Robert Coker, John Lewsten, esquires, or to two of them: to cause one Agnes Mondaye, of the county of Dorset, to be apprehended and committed to ward, to be further ordered according to the quality of her fault; and further to make search in her house or other resorting places for all such things as they think may tend to witchcraft, and to advertise hither what they shall do herein — which Agnes, besides many other devilish parts, hath of late bewitched one Mistress Chettell that she hath been in peril of her life.

[16 March 1565.] A letter to the commissioners in Cornwall: that they should proceed to the execution of three pirates indicted of piracy, unless by the justices of assize it should be thought otherwise good; and also to send up the twelve men that acquitted one Akers, being indicted also of piracy, and with them their bonds and evidences against the said Akers, to the end the matter shall be heard the first day of the next term in the star chamber.

[20 October 1566.] A letter to the judge of the admiralty, signifying unto him that the queen's majesty, upon information given to her highness that John Hawkins of Plymouth hath prepared a ship to be sent into the king of Spain's Indias, did give order that the said ship should be stayed and the said Hawkins commanded to repair hither to answer his doings in this behalf. Forasmuch as the said Hawkins, being now come hither for that purpose, hath affirmed that he meaneth not to send any ship of his, or by his setting forth, to any of those places that are suspected, the said judge is willed to take sufficient bonds of him, not only that he shall forbear to send any ship or ships to any of those ports of the Indias which are privileged to any person or persons by the king of Spain, but also that neither he nor any other that shall go in any ship of his, or of his setting forth, shall rob, spoil, or evil-handle any of the queen's majesty's subjects, allies, confederates, or friends; and thereupon to signify hither what he shall have done herein, to the end order may be taken to cause his said ship to be set at liberty.

Ibid., VII, 66, 200, 206, 315.

(D) Memorandum on the Statute of Artificers (1565)[2]

[8 July.] Where, according to the statute made in the fifth year of the queen's majesty's reign for the limiting and appointing of wages for artificers, husbandmen, and any other labourer, servant, or workman, it was ordered that the justices of each county of this realm should yearly certify before the twelfth of July, under their hands and seals, what they thought meet to be allowed unto every of them, with the causes and considerations thereof, into the chancery; and that thereupon the lord chancellor or lord keeper should make declaration of the same to the queen's majesty or her highness's privy council, and so cause it to be published by print, as in the said statute more at large appeareth: this day the lord keeper of the great seal showed unto their lordships such certificates as he hath received in this matter, which his lordship was by their lordships desired to cause to be imprinted and sent abroad according to the tenor of the said act.

Ibid., VII, 230.

(E) Memorandum on Appeals from Jersey (1572)

[13 May.] Where certain petitions have been exhibited to my lords of the council by ... one of the jurats and justices [of the isle of Jersey] ... for the reformation of certain inconveniences arising in some point of the laws of that isle, and the manner of prosecuting the same ... , it was commanded by my said lords that an order touching those petitions and for reformation in those cases to be had should be written down in the council book in manner and form following ...: first, that no appeal be admitted ... from any sentence or judgment in any matter ... not exceeding the value ... of £7 sterling ...; that no appeal in any cause ... be permitted ... before the same ... be fully examined and ended by definitive sentence ...; that every appeal shall be prosecuted within three months next ensuing the sentence or judgment given therein, except there be just cause of ... impediment ...; [but] no appeal be hereafter received without the copy as well of the sentence or judgment as also of the whole process of the cause closed together under the seal of the isle; and, that there may be no let to the appellant in having thereof, it is ordered by the said lords that the bailiff and jurats of the isle from whom the appeal shall be made, shall, upon request made to them, deliver ... to the said party appellant the said copy within eight days after such request.

Ibid., VIII, 75 f.

(F) Oath of the Clerk of the Council (1572)[3]

The oath of Robert Beale, esquire, to be one of the clerks of the privy council. You shall swear to be a true and faithful servant unto the queen's majesty as one of the clerks of her highness's privy council. You shall not know or understand of any manner thing to be attempted, done, or spoken against her majesty's person, honour, crown, or dignity royal, but you shall let or withstand the same to the uttermost of your power, and either do or cause it to be revealed either to her majesty's self or to her privy council. You shall keep secret all matters committed and revealed unto you, or that shall be treated of secret in council, and if any of the same treaties or counsels shall touch any of the same counsellors, you shall not reveal the same unto him, but shall keep the same until such time as, by consent of her majesty or the council, publication shall be made thereof. You shall to your uttermost bear faith and true allegiance to the queen's majesty, her heirs and lawful successors, and shall assist and defend all jurisdictions, pre-eminences, and authorities granted to her majesty and annexed to her crown [against] all foreign princes, persons, prelates, or potentates, etc., by act of parliament or otherwise; and generally in all things you shall do as a faithful and true servant and subject ought to do to her majesty. So help you God and the holy contents of this Book.

Ibid., VIII, 78 f.

(G) Miscellaneous Letters (1573-93)

[7 June 1573.] A letter to the justices of assizes in the county of Kent: to make an agreement betwixt Antony Parkehurst and his father that meaneth to disinherit him, or to return in whom the fault is.

[24 October 1576.] A letter to Sir Henry Nevill, knight, Richard Ward, esquire, cofferer of her majesty's household, and Richard Lovelace, esquire: to examine a complaint exhibited by one Humphrey Kerry of London, merchant, that, being robbed in a thicket near Maidenhead, hue and cry being raised and followed to the said town, they made not such pursuit after the offenders as by law they were bound; and if upon examination of the matter any default shall appear in the officers, to commit them until they should hear further; and besides, the information being true, to advise how the said Kerry might be recompensed for his losses according to law.

[25 October 1576.] A letter to the customers, comptrollers, and searchers, and other officers of the port of London: to release certain of Holland ordinarily bringing in victuals for the provision of the city of London, who were stayed by them, and that also they may be permitted to pass and repass to and fro from time to time as they shall have occasion for the bringing in of any such victuals; and because the same is a great relief to the poor people of London, they shall from henceforth freely suffer all such as trade hither with victuals to come and return until they shall be further directed from the lords in that behalf.

[6 March 1577.] A letter to the lord president in the north, signifying unto him that, where this last year there was a voyage taken in hand by Martin Frobisher for discovery of some parts of the world unknown, wherein there is great likelihood that the continuance thereof will be beneficial both to the whole realm and particularly to such as are venturers in the same, and for that some encouragement might be given for the following thereof, her majesty is pleased to contribute largely towards such charges as are now to be employed. Wherefore their lordships, understanding that divers merchants in the city of York, towns of Newcastle, Hull, and other places under his lordship's jurisdiction would also be willing to venture somewhat in the said voyage, so as they might be assured of her majesty's and their lordships' good liking ... , his lordship would signify to the inhabitants thereabouts that, if any merchant or others shall be willing to contribute and adventure any portion of money in this matter at this time, he shall rateably be admitted to the profit thereof as others are. Only their lordships require of them that some expedition be made in the certifying of the names and abilities of such persons as shall be found willing to contribute anything, to the intent the voyage now shortly intended might neither be hindered nor they anywise disappointed. And what shall be done herein their lordships desire to be advertised. The like letter to the mayor and his brethren of the city of Bristol.

[6 March 1577.] A letter to the commissioners for the restraint of grain in the county of Essex, requiring them to suffer Walter Persons and Henry Pometell, bakers ... , to transport out of the said county eighty quarters of wheat which they have already bargained for ... , which said wheat is to be employed in biscuit necessary for the furniture of certain barks of Martin Frobisher and others now intending a voyage to the seas; and that bonds be taken of the said bakers or their factors that they shall return certificates from the customer of London that the said wheat hath been brought to London and employed as aforesaid.

[26 February 1579.] To the lord mayor of London: that, whereas, their lordships were informed that one Béton, a surgeon, entertained in a ship called The Thomas of Ipswich in a voyage towards the northwest, had entered an action before him against Thomas Bonham, owner of the said ship, and that the mariners of the said ship intend to do the like, and that the misdemeanours of the said mariners in the said voyage hath been such as they rather deserve punishment than wages; and, the matter not yet examined and determined, their lordships pray him to give order that all suit in any of his courts may be forborne, as well of the said Beton as of all others for this cause, until the matter may be farther considered and ordered according to right.

[19 February 1581.] A letter unto Barnard Randall, Thomas Gardner, and the constable: that, where it pleased the queen's majesty for certain good considerations to grant unto Jacomo Vertolini under the great seal of England a privilege to erect a glass-house and to make drinking glasses, prohibiting thereby that no person whatsoever should to the prejudice of his said grant make and erect any glass-houses and make glasses of that kind within the realm; forasmuch as complaint is made unto their lordships by the said Jacomo that one Sebastian Orlandini and one John Smith have very lately set up a furnace at the gunpowder mill by Ratcliffe intending to make glasses ... , they are therefore required forthwith, upon the receipt hereof, to repair unto the said gunpowder mill and there, by virtue of these their lordships' letters, to cause the said furnace to be presently defaced in their own presence before they do depart from the place, and to enjoin them both in her majesty's name that they forbear to attempt the like hereafter, upon pain to receive such punishment for their contempt as by her majesty's said grant is prescribed....

[29 July 1593.] A letter to the vice-chancellor of Cambridge: whereas the two universities of Cambridge and Oxford are the nurseries to bring up youth in the knowledge and fear of God and in all manner of good learning and virtuous education, whereby after they may serve their prince and country in divers callings; for which respect a special care is to be had of those two universities that all tneans may be used to further the bringing up of the youth that are bestowed there in all good learning, civil education, and honest manners, whereby the state and commonwealth may receive hereafter great good ...: we therefore as councillors of estate to her majesty, amongst other things concerning the good government of this realm, cannot but have a more especial regard of these principal places, being the fountains from whence learning and education doth flow and so is derived into all other parts of the realm. And for that cause, understanding that common players do ordinarily resort to the university of Cambridge, there to recite interludes and plays, some of them being full of lewd example and most of vanity, besides the gathering together of multitudes of people whereby is great occasion also of divers other inconveniences, we have thought good to require you, the vice-chancellor, with the assistance of the heads of the colleges, to take special order that hereafter there may no plays or interludes of common players be used ... , either in the university or in any place within the compass of five miles ... , nor any shows of unlawful games that are forbidden by the statutes of this realm....

The like letter to vice-chancellor and heads of the houses and several colleges in Oxford.

Ibid., VIII, 111; IX, 218 f., 302 f.; XI, 59; XII, 336; XXIV, 427 f.

(H) Instructions to Local Government Officials (1598)[4]

[25 March.] A minute of letters directed unto the high sheriff and justices of the peace in the several counties of the realm.... Although we doubt not but the justices of the assize in their several circuits have had special regard ... to admonish you and other justices at the last assizes to have extraordinary care for the due execution of divers good statutes yet in force, and especially of those lately made this last parliament for the good and benefit of the whole state of the realm concerning the relief of poor people, maimed soldiers, the punishment of vagabonds and rogues, and maintenance of tillage, the care whereof is specially recommended to you by the said statutes: nevertheless, considering the remissness that hath been used generally by the justices of the peace in many parts of the realm and the great good that may ensue by the due execution of so good and necessary laws, her majesty ... hath commanded us very earnestly ... to recommend unto your better and more due regard that which belongeth to your duties and the law requireth of you....

To which end it is thought meet that at the next general sessions after Easter you do assemble together and take special order amongst yourselves for one strict and uniform course to be holden for the due observing ... of the same laws and statutes; and further that you do from thenceforth, from time to time so often as it shall be found requisite ... , assemble within your several limits to take account of the constables and other under-officers of their proceedings to be informed of those abuses that are to be reformed.... Which service if you shall effect according to the trust reposed in you, and with that care which public officers ought to use, and according to her majesty's most earnest desire, yourselves and the whole country shall be partakers of the benefit of the same and her majesty receive that satisfaction which she looketh for. But if you shall neglect the same, her majesty cannot but account you to be unmeet and unworthy for the authority and places which you hold under her. And because her majesty hath had report diversely made unto her that, although there are a great number commonly in every county of the realm by common made justices of the peace, whereof some sort of them do not give their attendance but at times when they have special causes of their own or their friends to treat upon, her majesty, meaning to be more certainly informed of that abuse, commandeth you that shall be present at these sessions next after Easter to certify unto her council who shall they be that should be present to attend the service, so as thereby it may be understood who shall be absent, and they to answer thereunto; whereby her majesty shall be pleased with your service and shall enter into consideration how to reform the negligence of the others....

Ibid., XXVIII, 388 f.

(I) John Herbert's Memorandum (1600)

Titles of matters whereof I am charged to have regard as a councillor and secretary: first, to inform myself of all treaties with foreign princes ... , to be acquainted with the particular actions and negotiations of ambassadors to her majesty and from her; to inform myself of the power and form of proceeding at the council of the marches in Wales and the council in the north, and to understand the manner of the warden's government; to be well informed of the state of Ireland, both the yearly charge of the army and the extraordinary, the state of revenue there and the state of the undertakers, the charge of the Low Country wars, the charges of the French king, the state of their debts to the queen, what the assurances are and where they are; to oversee the order of the council-book and muster-book of the realm; to have the custody of letters from foreign princes to the queen and answers made to them; to have care to the intelligences abroad.

Memorandum, that all causes to be treated on in council and resolved are either only for her majesty or betwixt party and party or betwixt some party, either subject or stranger, and the queen's majesty. The first doth handle principally questions and consultations of state growing from foreign advertisements or some extraordinary accidents within the realm. The second, between party and party, are very seldom heard particularly, but rather ended by overruling an obstinate person who is made to acknowledge his fault; or else the parties are remitted to some court of justice or equity, or recommended by some letters to some justices in the country to compound the differences either by consent of the parties or by direction; or if the cause be great, then to write letters to some principal persons, to have some circumstances better understood and examined concerning matter of fact whereof the council cannot be so well informed when they have only the suggestions of one party against another, upon which report it often happeneth that quarrels and differences are taken up by the council when it appears clearly who is in default. When there is anything in question wherein the queen is a party, it is commonly either by the breach of peace or for some other title. If there be breach of peace, the lords do either punish the offender by commitment or do refer the matter to be further proceeded in the star chamber, where great riots and contempts are punished. If it be matter of title, then the lords refer it to the queen's learned counsel and recommend the same to the judges' care. If there be some suits to the queen of poor men, then do the lords endorse their petitions with their opinions and recommend the dispatch to the secretary or for the poorer sort to the master of the requests.

Prothero, Constitutional Documents, pp. 166 f.

[1] Deed.

[2] No. 81C.

[3] This is virtually the same as the privy councillor's oath of office; cf. no. 53.

[4] Cf. nos. 73C, 74I, 81H, 82C.