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THE LIFE OF SIR HENRY WOTTON.
CIR HENRY WOTTON (whose life I now intend to write) was born D in the year of our Redemption, 1568, in Bocton-Hall (commonly called Bocton, or Bougton-Place, or Palace) in the parish of Bocton Malherbe, in the fruitful country of Kent: Bocton-hall being an ancient and goodly structure, beautifying, and being beautified by the parish-church of Bocton Malherbe adjoining unto it, and both seated within a fair park of the Wottons, on the brow of such a hill as gives the advantage of a large prospect, and of equal pleasure to all beholders.
But this house and church are not remarkable for any thing so much as for that the memorable family of the Wottons have so long inhabited the one, and now lie buried in the other, as appears by their many monuments in that church'; the Wottons being a family that hath brought forth divers persons eminent for wisdom and valour, whose heroic acts and noble employments, both in England and in foreign parts, have adorned themselves and this nation, which they have served abroad faithfully in the discharge of their great trust, and prudently in their negociations with several princes; and also served at home with much honour and justice, in their wise managing a great part of the public affairs thereof in the various times both of war and peace.
a Bocton Malherbe, alias Boughton Malherbe, lies in the middle of the county of Kent. Sir Nicholas Wotton, Lord Mayor of London in 1416 and 1431, obtained the possession of this place by marrying the only daughter of Richard Corby. It continued in the ancient family of the Wottons, until it came to Thomas Lord Wotton, whose eldest daughter the Lady Katharine Stanhope, by marrying Henry Lord Stanhope, son of Philip Earl of Chesterfield, transferred it into another family. (Harris's Hift. of Kent.)
Of these monuments see “ Hafted's History of Kent,” vol. II. p. 437;—"Harris's History of Kent,” p. 48.
But lest I should be thought by any that may incline either to deny or doubt this truth, not to have observed moderation in the commendation of this family; and also for that I believe the merits and memory of such persons ought to be thankfully recorded, I shall offer to the consideration of every reader, out of the testimony of their pedigree and our chronicles, a part, and but a part, of that just commendation which might be from thence enlarged, and shall then leave the indifferent reader to judge whether my error be an excess or defect of commendations.
Sir Robert Wotton of Bocton Malherbe, Knight, was born about the year of Christ, 1460: He, living in the reign of King Edward IV. was by him trusted to be Lieutenant of Guisnes, to be Knight Porter, and Comptroller of Calais, where he died, and lies honourably buried.
Sir Edward Wotton of Bocton Malherbe, Knight (son and heir of the said Sir Robert) was born in the year of Christ, 1489, in the reign of King Henry VII.; he was made Treasurer of Calais, and of the Privy Council to King Henry VIII. who offered him to be Lord Chancellor of England; “ But,” saith Hollinshed, in his Chronicle, “ out of a virtuous modesty he “ refused it.”
Thomas Wotton of Bocton Malherbe, Esquire, fon and heir of the said Sir Edward, and the father of our Sir Henry that occasions this relation, was born in the year of Christ, 1521: He was a gentleman excellently educated, and studious in all the liberal arts; in the knowledge whereof he attained unto a great perfection; who, though he had (besides those abilities, a very noble and plentiful estate and the ancient interest of his predecessors) many invitations from Queen Elizabeth to change his country recreations and retirement for a court, offering him a knighthood (she was then with him at his Bocton-hall), and that to be but as an earnest of some more honourable and more profitable employment under her; yet he humbly refused both, being a man of great modesty, of a most plain and single heart, of an ancient freedom and integrity of mind. A commendation
which · Hollingshed informs us that the family of the Wottons was very ancient, and that " Some persons of that surname for their lingularities of wit and learning, for their honour “ and government in and of the realm, about the prince and elsewhere, at home and abroad, “ descrve such commendations, that they merit niveo lignari lapillo." (Chron. Vol. I. p. 1402.)
which Sir Henry Wotton took occasion often to remember with great gladness, and thankfully to boast himself the son of such a father ; from whom indeed he derived that noble ingenuity that was always practised by himself, and which he ever both commended and cherished in others. This Thomas was also remarkable for hospitality, a great lover and much beloved of his country; to which may justly be added, that he was a cherisher of learning, as appears by that excellent antiquary, Mr. William Lambert", in his Perambulation of Kent.
This Thomas had four sons', Sir Edward, Sir James, Sir John, and Sir Henry. Sir Edward was knighted' by Queen Elizabeth, and made Comptroller X
d William Lambard of Lincoln's Inn, gent. a pupil of Lawrence Nowell the learned Antiquary, and known to the country magistrate as the author of “ Eirenarcha, or of the Office “ of the Justices of Peace, 1599," and of the “ Duties of Constables, Borsholders, Tithing“ Men, and such other Lowe and Lay Ministers of the Peace, 1601.” His “ Perambulation “ of Kent,” much applauded by Camden, encouraged many more men of learning to endeavour the like services for their country. His chief work is “ The Archaionomia live de priscis Anglorum Legibus, 1568," being a translation of the Anglo-Saxon Laws.
e Sir Henry Wotton, in a letter to Lord Zouch, dated Florence, Aug. 14, 1592, mentions his brother Edward, as having lost his wife, a gentlewoman, in his opinion, of most rare virtue; his brother James as gone to serve in the Low Countries; and his brother John as retired to a folitary life, and at some difference with his lady.
€“ My brother Edward hath, either against his will, as some say, or with it, as I say, been knighted.” (Letter to Lord Zouch, dated Sienna, Dec. 13, 1592.) Sir Edward Wotton was, in 1585, sent Ambassador into Scotland, for the purpose of contracting a league offensive and defensive with the king, to counteract the holy league, which the Pope, the Spanish King, the
Guises, and others had made to extirpate the reformed religion. (Spotswood's Hift. p. 339.) da'are Sir Henry Wotton's character, while he was engaged in that embassy, is thus drawn by
Dr. Robertson. " This man was gay, well-bred, and entertaining , he excelled in all the “ exercises for which James had a passion, and amused the young king by relating the adven“tures which he had met with, and the observations he had made during a long residence in " foreign countries, but under the veil of these superficial qualities, he concealed a dangerous " and intriguing spirit. He soon grew into high favour with James, and while he was seem“ ingly attentive only to pleasure and diversions, he acquired influence over the public coun“ cils, to a degree which was indecent for a stranger to possess.” (History of Scotland, B. VII.)
of her Majesty's Household. “He was,” faith Camden, “ A man re“ markable for many and great employments in the state during her reign, “ and sent several times Ambassador into foreign nations. After her death, “ he was by King James made Comptroller of his Household, and called to “ be of his Privy Council, and by him advanced to be Lord Wotton, Baron “ of Merley in Kent, and made Lord Lieutenant of that county.”
Sir James, the fecond son, may be numbered among the martial men of his age, who was in the thirty-eight of Queen Elizabeth's reign (with Robert Earl of Sussex, Count Lodowick of Nassau, Don Christophoro, son of Antonio King of Portugal, and divers other gentlemen of nobleness and valour,) knighted in the field near Cadiz in Spain, after they had gotten great honour and riches, besides a notable retaliation of injuries by taking that town.
Sir John being a gentleman excellently accomplished, both by learning and travel, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and by her looked upon with more than ordinary favour, and with intentions of preferment; but death in his younger years put a period to his growing hopes. Of Sir Henry, my following discourse shall give an account.
The descent of these fore-named Wottons were all in a direct line, and most of them and their actions in the memory of those with whom we have conversed: But if I had looked so far back as to Sir Nicholas Wotton (who lived in the reign of King Richard II.) or before him, upon divers others of great note in their several ages, I might by some be thought tedious ; and yet others may more justly think me negligent, if I omit to mention Nicholas Wotton, the fourth son of Sir Robert, whom I first named.
This Nicholas Wotton was Doctor of Law, and sometime Dean both of York and Canterburys; a man whom God did not only bless with a long
He was installed Dean of York, Dec. 4, 1544, as in 1542 he was constituted the first Dean of Canterbury by the Charter of Incorporation. He held both these preferments to the time of his death, Jan. 26, 1566-7.-What Sir Henry Wotton faid of Sir Philip Sidney, has been applied to Nicholas Wotton. “ That he was the very measure of congruity.” Henry VIII. thus addressed him on his appointment to a foreign embassy; “ I have sent a head by
life, but with great abilities of mind, and an inclination to employ them in the service of his country, as is testified by his several employments (vide Camden's Britannia), having been sent nine times Ambassador" unto foreign princes; and by his being a Privy Councellor to King Henry VIII. to Edward VI. to Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth; who also, after he had been, during the wars between England, and Scotland and France, three several times (and not unsuccessfully) employed in committees for settling of peace betwixt this and those kingdoms, “ died,” saith learned Camden, “ Full of commendations for wisdom and piety.” He was also by the will of King Henry VIII. made one of his executors, and chief Secretary of State to his son, that pious Prince Edward VI.--Concerr Nicholas Wotton, I shall say but this little more; that he refused (being offered it by Queen Elizabeth) to be Archbishop of Canterbury—(vide Hollingshead); and that he died not rich, though he lived in that time of the dissolution of abbeys.
More might be added; but by this it may appear, that Sir Henry Wotton was a branch of such a kindred, as left a stock of reputation to their posterity; such reputation as might kindle a generous emulation in strangers, and preserve a noble ambition in those of his name and family, to perform actions worthy of their ancestors.
And that Sir Henry Wotton did so, might appear more perfectly than my pen can express it, if of his many surviving friends, some one of X 2
* Cromwell, a purse by Wolsey, a sword by Brandon, and must now send the law by " you." (Lloyd's State Worthies, p. 107.) He was considered as possessing the qualifications of a statesman in a very eminent degree. “Every younker speaks as politic as Bishop “ Gardner or Dr. Wotton.” (Spenser's Letters to his friend Immerito.)
It appears from the inscription on his monument that he was sent Ambassador twice to the Emperor Charles V. once to Philip King of Spain, once to Francis I. the French King, thrice to Henry II. his son, once to Mary Queen of Hungary, governor of the Low Countries, and twice to William Duke of Cleves: That he was also a Commissioner at the renewal of peace between the English, and French and Scots, at a place between Guisnes and Ardes, in 1546, and also at the castle of Cambray, in 1559, and lastly at Edinburgh, in 1560.-See his life in a very valuable work lately published, entitled, “ Some account of the Deans of “ Canterbury, from the new Foundation of that Church by Henry VIII. to the present Time. “ By Henry John Todd, M. A.”