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SIR RALPH SADLER.1
THE birth of this able and celebrated statesman was neither obscure and ignoble, nor so much exalted above the middling rank of society, as to contribute in any material degree towards the splendid success of his career in life.
Ralph Sadler was the eldest son of Henry Sadleir, or Sadleyer, Esquire, through whom he was heir, according to Fuller, to a fair inheritance. He was born in the year 1507, at Hackney, in Middlesex, where his family had been for some time settled, and had a younger brother, John Sadler, who commanded a company at the siege of Boulogne, in the year 1544. The circumstances of Henry Sadleir, their father, were not such as to exempt him from professional labour, and even from personal dependence. Indeed the chain of feudal connexion was still so entire, that the lesser gentry of the period sought not only emolument but protection, and even honour, by occupying, in the domestic establishments of the nobles, those situa
1 [This Memoir was originally prefixed to an edition of Sadlers' State Papers, &c., in two vols. 4to, Edinburgh: 1809.]
2 Sir Ralph seems to have dropped the i in spelling his name. But the orthography of proper names in this period was far from uniform. We have adopted that which he used most frequently.
tions, which the nobility themselves contended for in the royal household. The pride of solitary and isolated independence was unknown in a period when the force of the laws was unequal to protect those who enjoyed it, and the closer the fortunes of a private individual were linked with those of some chieftain of rank and power, the greater was the probability of his escaping all mischances, save those flowing from the fall of his patron. It does not, therefore, contradict what has been handed down to us concerning Henry Sadleir's rank and estate, that he seems to have acted in some domestic capacity, probably as steward or surveyor, to a nobleman, proprietor of a manor called Cillney, near Great Hadham, in Essex.
His office, whatever it was, consisted in keeping accounts and receiving money; so that his son had an early example of accurate habits of business, not very common in that rude military age, which proved not only the foundation of his fortune, but continued to be the means of his raising it to the highest elevation. Ralph Sadler was fortunate enough to gain a situation in the family of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, who rose in the favour of the capricious Henry VIII. by facilitating his divorce from Queen Catharine, and who fell by procuring his union with Anne of Cleves. While Cromwell was yet in the ascent of his grandeur, Sadler acquired so much influence with him, as to be able to solicit a place under the crown for his father, whose noble patron had become unable to support the expense of a feudal household. These
minute particulars we learn from a letter which the elder Sadler writes to his son.1
1 "Henry Sadleyer to his son Ralph, living with Mr Cromwell, concerning some demands and private concerns. Original from Cilney. Titus, B. I. No. 48, page 153.
"Son Raff, I hartely recomaund me unto you, and send you Godd's blessing and myne. I praye you send me woord whether ye have spokyn to hym; yf ye have, I praye you, that I may have knowledge in writynge from you of his answer to you made. I trust he will knowledge, that I doe owe to the kynges grace but iiiili and odde money. Yf it please hym to looke upon my booke which remayneth in his handes, therein he shall feynde a labell that shall showe the truths, (desyre hym to be good to me). Son Raff, wheras I shoulde have had of my lorde, now at this audite, above xx markes, I can gett never a peny but fayre wordes, with whyche I cannot lyve. My lorde hathe putt away many of his yemen at this audite, and dothe intende after Christmas to putt many moe awey, and both his lordeshippe and my ladye wil to the court after Christmas, and kepe a smalle house; wherefore I praye you that I may be recomanded to your good maister, and desyr hym by your humble sute, to gett me the office in the Towre as in others, so that I shall be nigh London. Good son, doe the best you can for me. I truste to be at the next terme by Godd's grace. I assure you bothe my lord and my lady shall be very lothe to depart with me, but with them I can have noe livinge; if I had, I wold not depart from them. I pray you sende for your mother, and rede this letter to her; and farder, my lorde dothe intend to lye at Cilney all this Christmas, and there to kepe a smalle Christmas, though your mother, my mate, as yet is not come to Cilney; whereof I marvell, for diverse cartts of Great Hadham hath byn at London diverse tymes syns I came from home. I can noe more at this tyme, but the holy Trenytye cummfort us all to.... pleasure. Written at Cilney, the xvith day of December, in hast, as apperyth. Your father,
" HENRY SADLEYER. "To Raff Sadleyer, dwelling with Master Cromwell, be thes gevin.
"I thynke Richard Crumwell... to London now at this tyme, and will be at Cilney before; then ye may send your
Ralph Sadler's favour with Lord Cromwell, and the trust which he reposed in him, soon brought him under the eye of Henry VIII. It was emphatically said of that monarch, that Henry loved a MAN; by which we are to understand, that the objects of his favour were distinguished by external strength, figure, and personal accomplishments, as well as by their temper and talents. In both respects Sadler was fortunate; for, though of a middling, or rather low stature, he was well skilled in all exercises, remarkable both for strength and activity, and particularly accomplished in horsemanship.1 Neither was his address in public business inferior to his feats of horsemanship, hunting, and chivalry. It was probably before he attracted the King's notice, that Mr Sadler became the husband of the widow of one Ralph Barrow, who does not seem to have been a person of high rank, although no good grounds have been discovered for the scandal with which Sanders and other Catholic writers have stigmatized this union. That
lettres by him; if he be not, Mr Antony will be at Cilney before Christmas; the lettres ye send to me close them surely for openying."
1 This is established by the testimony of his natural son Richard; who in dedicating a treatise on Horsemanship to his father, Sir Ralph, acknowledges to have derived from his instructions whatever skill he had attained in the knowledge of that noble animal, the horse.
["It has been asserted, whether truly or not, we do not pretend to say, that she was a laundress in Cromwell's family: but this much is certain, that the name of her first husband I was not Ralph Barrow, but Matthew Barre; that she was not a widow at the time of her marriage to Sir Ralph; but that her first husband was then, and long after, living; and consequently, that she could not have been a woman of credit
she was a woman of credit and character, must be admitted; since Lord Cromwell, to whom she was related, not only countenanced their marriage, but was godfather to two of their children, the first of whom died in infancy.1
and character. On the 9th of December, 1554, an act of Parliament was passed for legitimating the children of Sir Ralph Sadleir, by Ellen his wife; and Mathew Barre, her former husband, is therein stated to be at that time alive. These seemingly trifling remarks are not made in the spirit of hypercriticism, but under the clear conviction that, as accuracy is the very soul of biographical relation, it is our duty to correct whatever errors may fall within our notice."—Quarterly Review, Nov. 1810.]
1 « R. Sadler to Sec. Cromwell. Titus, B. I. p. 343. Original.
"Syr, after myn humble comendacions, with like request, that it may plese you to gyve me leve to trouble you, amongst your weightie affaires, with these tryffels: it is so, that my wyfe, after long travaile, and as payneful labour as any woman could have, hathe at last brought furth a fayre boy; beseching you to vouchsafe ones agayne to be gossip unto so poore a man as I am, and that he may bear your name. Trusting ye shall have more rejoyse of him than ye had of the other; and yet ther is no cause but of gret rejoyse in the other, for he dyed an innocent, and enjoyeth the joyes of heven. I wold also be right glad to have Mr Richard's wyf, or my Lady Weston, to be the godmother. Ther is a certain supersticious opinion and usage amongst women, which is, that in case a woman go with childe, she may christen no other man's childe as long as she is in that case. And therfor, not knowing whether Mr Richard's wyf be with child or not, I do name my Lady Weston. I desyre to have one of them, because they do lye so near Hackney; to-morrow in the after none shall be the tyme, and that the holy Trinyte preserve you in long lyf and good helth, with much honour. At Hackney, this Saturday, at iii of the clocke at after none, with the rude and hastie hand of
"Your most assured and faithful servante duringe his lyf, "RAFE SADLER.
"To the right honourable and his singuler good Mr, Maister Secretarye, be thes geven."