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Biography of Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634

Family Trees

Ancestry

On 01 Feb 1552 Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634 was born to [his father] Robert Coke 1513-1561 (39) and [his mother] Winifred Knightley 1530-1569 (22).

On 15 Nov 1561 [his father] Robert Coke 1513-1561 (48) died at Holburn. He was buried at Mileham.

On 16 Jan 1569 [his mother] Winifred Knightley 1530-1569 (39) died at Titteshall. She was buried at the Church of St Mary the Virgin Tittleshall.

On 13 Aug 1582 Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634 (30) and [his wife] Bridget Paston -1598 were married.

In 1587 [his son] Arthur Coke 1587-1629 was born to Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634 (34) and [his wife] Bridget Paston -1598.

On 05 May 1590 [his son] John Coke 1590-1649 was born to Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634 (38) and [his wife] Bridget Paston -1598.

On 27 Aug 1591 [his son] Henry Coke 1591-1661 was born to Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634 (39) and [his wife] Bridget Paston -1598.

After 1598 Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634 and [his wife] Elizabeth Cecil Countess Berkshire 1596-1672 were married.

On 27 Jun 1598 [his wife] Bridget Paston -1598 died. Monument in Church of St Mary the Virgin Tittleshall. Arched niche with kneeling effigy at prie-Dieu which carries the inscription. Flanking pilasters with partly painted carved trophies surrounded by ribbon-work. Carved achievement in strapwork surround above and eight kneeling weepers below.
Armorials top left  and top right .
Above the monument an amorial Quarterly: , Crispin, Folkard and Pawe impaling Quarterly of Seventeen with 1 , 2 Peche 3 Leach 4 Somerton 5 Peyver 6 Walcot 7 Berry 8 Craven 9 Kerdeston 10 Wachesam or Sotherton 11 Hethersett 12 Charles 13 Tatshall 14 Hengrave 15 Gerbridge 16 Mautby 17 Basinges?.

Before 02 Sep 1602 [his daughter] Frances Coke Viscountess Purbeck 1602-1645 was born to Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634 and [his wife] Elizabeth Cecil Countess Berkshire 1596-1672.

In 1614 Thomas Howard 1st Earl Berkshire 1587-1669 (26) and [his wife] Elizabeth Cecil Countess Berkshire 1596-1672 (18) were married (he was her fourth cousin).

Thomas Overbury Murder and Trial of his Murderers

In Sep 1615 rumours about Thomas Overbury 1581-1613's death began to gain traction. The Governor of the Tower of London sent James I King England and Ireland VI King Scotland 1566-1625 (49) a letter that described how one of the warders had been bringing Thomas Overbury 1581-1613 poisoned food and medicine. James' initial reluctance avoid further investigation were overcome when he was implicated. Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634 (63) and Francis Bacon 1st Viscount St Alban 1561-1626 (54).

After 01 Oct 1615 Gervase Helwys 1561-1615, Thomas Monson 1st Baronet 1565-1641, the gaoler Richard Weston, widow of a London doctor Mrs Anne Turner, and an apothecary James Franklin were tried for the murder of Thomas Overbury 1581-1613 at the Guildhall by Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634 and Francis Bacon 1st Viscount St Alban 1561-1626. It was ruled that "poisons" had been "administered" in the form of "jellies" and "tarts" by Weston, Turner and Franklin at the direction of Frances Howard Countess Essex Countess Somerset 1590-1632. Frances Howard Countess Essex Countess Somerset 1590-1632 admitted her guilt. Her husband Robert Carr 1st Earl Somerset 1587-1645 maintained his innocence despite James I King England and Ireland VI King Scotland 1566-1625 urging him to admit his guilt to avoid James being implicated. Frances Howard Countess Essex Countess Somerset 1590-1632 and Robert Carr 1st Earl Somerset 1587-1645 were found guilty and sentenced to death. James I King England and Ireland VI King Scotland 1566-1625 commuted their sentence to life imprisonment. They, along with Monson, were subsequently pardoned.
The evidence for Gervase Helwys 1561-1615 appeared to indicated he had attempted to undermine the plot to poison Thomas Overbury 1581-1613.

Around 1628 John Hoskins Painter 1590-1664 (38) (copy from original). Portrait of Robert Carr 1st Earl Somerset 1587-1645 (41).

On 20 Nov 1616 Gervase Helwys 1561-1615 (55) was hanged at Tower Hill. He gave a speech to the crowd ...
... many others of seuerall dispositions. All you beeing thus assembled to see mee finish my dayes, the number of which is sum'd up, for the very minutes of my life may now be reckoned. Your expectation is to have mee say something, to give satisfaction to the World, and I will doe it so farre as I can, albeit in that speech of mine, I shall (as it was spoken unto me the last night) but chatter like a Crow. But whatsoeuer I deliuer, I beseech you to take from a wounded bosome, for my purpose is to rip up my very heart, and to leaue nothing there which may proue any clogge to my Conscience. Hither am I come to performe a worke which of all others is to Man the most easie and yet to Flesh and Blood is the hardest, and that is, To die. To hide therefore any thing, for any worldly respect, were to leaue a blot upon my owne Soule, which I trust shall be presented (through the mercies of my Maker, and merits of my Sauiour) acceptable before GODS high Tribunall. And first I will labour to satisfie some, who before my apprehension were well conceipted of mee, but since my Arraignment, as I vnderstand, carryed of mee but hard opinions, for that at the Barre I stood stiffly upon the Justice of my Innocence; and this they impute as a great fault, beeing afterwards that I was found guilty of the Crime. To which I answer, that I did it ignorantly: Nay I was so farre from thinking my selfe foule in the Fact, that untill these two Gentlemen, (Doctor Felton and Doctor Whiting, the Physitions for my Soule) told mee how deepely I had imbrewed my hands in the blood of that gentleman, making mee by GODS law as guilty in the Concealing, as if I had beene a personall Actor in it: till then I say, I held my selfe so ignorant of the deede, and my Conscience so cleere, that I did never aske GOD forgivenesse, nor once repent mee of the Fact, such was my blindnesse. So that it was not onely an error, or rather a horrible sinne, in mee to consent, but a worse, to deny it, so Bloody, so Treacherous, so Foule, so Filthy a Fact as that was; for which I must confesse the King, and the State have dealt honorably, roundly, and justly, with mee, in condemning mee unto this death. And thus have I laboured and done my best to cleere this point, being willing by all good meanes to reduce your first opinions of mee; that as formerly your conceipted well of mee, so you would now with a charitable affection performe the last duty of your Christian loues towards mee, praying to GOD, both with me, and for mee; to the intent that this Cup, whereof I am to drinke, may not be greiuous unto mee, but that it may be a ioyfull conueiance to a better and more blessed comfort.
Some perhaps will thinke it to be a Rigor of the State, or aggravation of my iudgement, that I should die in this place, but this doe I take as an honor unto me, & herein doe I acknowledge my selfe to stand much bound to the State, in that I have this favour vouchsafed me to suffer Death in sight of my Charge, even where I had sinned, on the Tower-hill, rather than in the place of common Execution, where every base Malefactor dyeth.
Many doe I see here whom I know well, and of whom I am likewise knowne: and now am I a Spectacle for them to be looked on, whom in former times (and in all mens accounts) they held never likely to come to such an end. But herein he hold the justice of God, who is so oppos'd against sinne, because that if we forget to seeke him whilst we may, he will finde us out when we would not be found of him.
It is expected I should say something of the fact which I have committed: And hither am I come resolued to cleare my conscience (before I depart this world) of all matters which I either knowe, or can now remember. And so much I have already delivered in writing to my Lo. Chiefe Justice (64) and to prove that which I wrote is true, I yesterday confirmed it with the receiuing of the blessed Sacrament, wishing unto you all as much comfort by those holy Mysteries, as I tooke by them: and I doe heere (though not with such a bloud) yet with mine own bloud, seale that which I have written. For my selfe, I will hide nothing to make my fault seeme lesse, but will rip open this very heart of mine, and confesse before God myne owne uncleannesse. I have sinned exceedingly against thee O my maker, and in this am I most faulty, that I did not reveale to the King (50), so soone as I my selfe had knowledge of the busines. But (alas) feare to loose these worldly pleasures, and the loue to promotion, made me forget my duty to my Soueraigne, and not to regard my God, who is a swift auenger of blood: and would to heaven I had trusted to his providence, and set the thinges of this world at nought, for heavens sake, and a good conscience. You see, Gentlemen, promotion cannot rescue us from the justice of God, which alwaies pursues after sinne: And therefore I exhort you not to trust in men (how great soeuer) for they cannot hide themselues when God is angry; neither can they protect you from shame, when God will consume you: he that sitteth in heaven, will deride and scorne their foolish Inventions. As for me, I will not spare to lay open my owne shame: Thinke you I care for the reputation of this world? No, I weigh it not. This my soule shall receiue more comfort from God in my upright dealing.
My sinne, in this foule fact, was great, for upon me lay all the blood, shed, and to be shed: I have made many children fatherles, many wives husbandles, many parents childelesse: and I my selfe leave a comfortlesse wife and eight children behinde me for it too: for if I had revealed it when I might, I had freed much blood from being spilt, in so much as I could wish (Gods Justice and charity reserved) I might hang in chaines, till I rotte away by peecemeale: nor cared I what tortures my body were put unto, so I might expaite or free the bloud of so many, (some in one place, and some in another) which is both like to bee shed, and is already shed, and the Lord knowes when it will have an end. Concerning my selfe, I will aggravate the crime, by speaking of every circumstance I can remember. And now it comes into my mind, what trust that gentleman put into me: hee reputed me to bee most faithfull unto him; (Oh the wildnesse of my heart!) I proved unfaithfull, and was his deadly deceitfull friend. And here (Gentlemen) I exhort you all that you would take notice of this, ever to bee faithfull to those who put you in trust. Sir Thomas O. trusted me, and I was unfaithfull and treacherous to him, in drawing tickets for him to his disadvantage. I promised him secrecy, yet betrayed him, onely to satisfy greatnesse: But God, who sees the secret thoughts of mans heart, will disclose all unuist actions at last: nay, I am perswaded that whosoeuer they bee that commit sinne in their child-hood, at one time or other it will be revealed. In this place it commeth to my mind, that in my yonger dayes (as wel beyond the Seas as here) I was much addicted to that idle veyne of Gaming, I was bewitched with it indeed: And I played not for little for final sums neither, but for Great-ones, yet ever haunted with ill lucke: And upon a time, being much displeased at my losse, I sayd, not in a carelesse maner, Would I might be hanged; But seriously, and advisedly (betweene God and my selfe) clapping my hands upon my breast, I spake thus, If ever I play again, then let me be hangd. Now gentlemen here you may behold the justice of God, paying mee my wish and imprecation home. Bee carefull therefore I exhort you, that you vow nothing but that unto which you will give all diligence to performe: for the powerful God, before whom you make such vowes, will otherwise bee auegned: Jn this place Doctor VVhiting putting him in mind to satisfie the World touching his Religion thus he went on. THe matter you speake to mee of, faith hee, is well thought upon: for I heare that abroad hath beene some murmuring and questions made about mee for my Religion; Some giving out that I was infected with Anabaptisme: A fond, ridiculous, foolish and phantasticall opinion, which I never affected but rather despised. Many may thinke that the manner of my death doth much discourage mee, that I should dye in a halter: I would have you all to thinke that I scorne all such worldly thoughts: I care not for it, I value not any earthly shame at all, so as may have honour and glory anon in Heaven: and I make no doubt, but I shall sodainely be more happie then you all, and that I shall see GOD face to face: and if there be any point of innocency in mee at all, I doe utterly cast it from mee, and I doe commit it wholly to GOD.
And for any matter of Glory, I doe with the Saints of GOD expect it through the merits of Christ, at the Resurrection: yea it is my glorie to die thus. I might have died in my Bedde, or shooting the Bridge or else have fallen downe sodainly, in which death I should have wanted this space to repent, being the sweet comfort and assured hope of Gods favour which of his mercy he hath vouchsafed mee; So that it swalloweth up all feare of death or reproch of the World: wishing unto all you (Gentlemen) who now behold mee, that wheresoeuer you shall dye, (either in your Beddes or else-where howsoewer) you may feele such comfort and resolution as God in his mercy hath bestowed uppon mee and my wounded Soule for this and the rest of my grieuous Sinnes. But mee thinkes I heare some of you conjecture and say, that I expresse no great Arguments or signes of sorrow: You think my heart should rather dissolue and melt into teares, then to appeare so insensible of feare as I may seeme: but I must tell you, teares were never common in mee: I may therefore feare though I do not weepe. I have been couragious both beyond the Seas and heere in mine owne Country: but (Gentlemen) that was when there was no perill before mee. But now the stroke of death is upon mee. It affrights mee, and there is cause to feare: yet notwithstanding, my heart seemeth unto you to be rather of stone than of flesh. But I would have you understand, that this boldnes doth not proceed from any manly fortitude, for I am a man, fraile as you are, and dare as little look death in the face as any other: ther terors of death doe as much trouble my humane sense, as of any man whatsoeuer: but that which swalloweth up all manner of feare in me, & maketh me to glory and to reioyce in, is, the full assurance which I conceiue of the vnspeakable love of God to those who are his, of which number I perswade my selfe to bee one, and that I shall presently enioy it.
I confesse I have sinned exceedingly, against thee (oh God) many wayes, in prophaning thy holy Sabaoths, in taking thy glorious name in vaine, in my concupiscence in turning all thy graces into wantonnes, in my Riotous wasting so many of thy good Creatures, as would have belieued many poore people, whose prayers I might have had this day. I have sinned against thee in my Child-hood: but Childrens sinnes are childishly performed: but I confirmed them in my manhood, there was my sinne. I am perswaded, there is no sinne, that a man committeth in his life, knowing it to be a sin, and not repenting of it, but the Lord will iudge it. I admonish you therefore that are heere assembled, to take good notice of your sinnes, and let none escape you vnrepented. And yet when you have done the best you can, there will lie buried some one sinne or other sufficent to condemne you. O Lord clense mee from my secret sinnes, which are in me so rife. I abused the tender education of my Parents. You perhaps that knew mee will say no; I liued in an honest forme, and was not bad in my life. But I know best my selfe what I was: & if I who was so esteemed of amongst Men, shall scarcely be saued, what will become of those, whom you point at for notorious lievers? The last night God put into my mind the remembrance of one sinne of mine, which heere I will lay open, that others may take heed. I tooke a vaine pride in my pen, and some of my friendes would tell me I had some induments and speciall gift that way: (though I say nor so my selfe) but mark the iudgement of God in this; that Pen which I was so proud of, hatch struck mee dead, and like Absolons hayre hath hanged me: for there hath dropt a word or two from my Pen, in a letter of mine, which upon my Saluation I am not able to answer, or to give any good accompt of. At my Arraignment I pleaded hard for life, & protested my Innocency, but when my owne Pen came against mee, I was forthwith not able to speake anything for my selfe: for I stood as one amazed, or that had no Tongue. See (Gentlemen) the just Iudgement of GOD, who made that thing of which I was most proud, to be my bane: take notice how strangely sinne is punished, and learne every-one to striue against it.
I have heard the word of GOD, and often read it (but without vse) for I must tell you these two worthy, Gentlemen (to whom I am so much bounden, God reward them for their loue) even they begat mee very lately, for I am not ashamed to confesse that I was to be begotten unto Christ within these three daies: yea I have often prayed against sinne, and made many vowes to forsake it, but uppon the next occasion, my foule heart hath beene ready to runne with the wicked. Had I learned but this one lesson in the 119. Psalme, (Depart from mee ye wicked, I will keepe the Commandements of my God &c.) I had beene likely to have enioyed many dayes heere on eath: whereas now you all see mee ready to bee cut short by reason of my sinne. But (O LORD) albeit thou slayest mee, yet will I put my trust in thee: let the LORD doe to me what hee will, I will dye upon this hand (of trusting in him) if I faile many a soule hath miss'd, but I have sure hope of mercy in him; hee hath sufficed and succoured mee, I am sure, euer since the sentence of death hath passed uppon mee: such comfort flowing from the Godly indeauors of these Gentlemen (the Diuines) that neither the Reproach of this Death, nor the Torment of it hath any whit discouraged me; nay, let me tell you, the last night when I heard the time was appoynted, and saw the warrant in Master Sheriffs hand for my death, it no whit daunted me: But what put this courage into me? onely the hope which I had in GODS mercies. This Hope was a Seede, and this Seed must come from a Roote; I looked upon my selfe, and there was rather cause despaire; and just cause, that I should not approach GODS presence. Thus then I disputed with GOD: This Hope being a Seede must have a Roote, and this Roote is not any thing in Man, no, it is Praescientia (thy fore-knowledge,) O God, who hast elected me from eternity. I will tell you, I receiued more comfort this morning, comming along the streetes, than euer I did in all my life. I saw much people gathered together, all the way as I came, to see mee brought to this shamefull end: who with their hearty prayers and well wishings gladded and comforted my very soule: insomuch as I could wish that I had come from Westminster hither. I protest unto you, I thinke I could never have dyed so happily in my bed. But you will say, these are but speechees, and that I being so neere death, my heart cannot be so free, as I seeme in my speech: I confesse, there are in my brest frailties, which doe terrifie, and will still be busie with me, but I beseech you when I am at the stroake of death, that you would praie to GOD (with mee) that neither Sathans power, nor my weakenesse, may hinder my confidence. And I beseech God that amongst all who this daie heare mee, some may profit by my end: If I get but one Soule, I shall have much comfort in that; for that one soule my beget another, and that other another. I have held you too long, but I will draw to an end: intreating you all to ioyne in praier to God for me.
The summe of his Prayer.
O Lord God omnipotent, who sittest in Heaven, and seest all things which are done on earth: to whom are knowne all occasions of men; And who dost deride and laugh to scorne their Foolish inuentions: thou (Lord) who art powerfull to Saue at an instant, bow downe the heavens, and behold Mee (wretched sinner!) vnworthy to looke up, or lift up my hands unto thee. Remember not (O Lord) the sinnes which I have committed. Driue away this Mist which is before mee; and breake those thick Clowdes which my sinnes have made, and may let my request to come into thy presence. Strengthen mee in the middest of Death, in the assurance of thy.
Mercies; and give mee a ioyfull Passage into thy Heavenly Rest, now and for euer. Amen.
After hee had thus Prayed, hee tooke his leaue of all, with these words.
Gentlemen, I shall see your faces now no more: and pulling down his Cap in his eyes, said some privat prayer; in which time the Doctors prayed, and called to him, that hee would remember his assurance, and not be dismaied at the Cup, that hee was not drinke of: Hee answered, I will drinke it up, and never looke what is in it. And after a little time more spent in privat prayer, hee said, Lord receaue my Soule: And so yeelded up the Ghost. His Meditation and Vow. not long before his Death. When I considered Herods State, who though hee heard John Baptist gladly, yet was he intangled with Herodias: and how Agrippa liked so well of Paul as hee was perswaded almost to become a Christian, and how young mans will was good to follow Chirst yet was there one thing wanting: meethought the state of sinfull man was not vnlike. For also how the Angler though hauing caught a Fish but by the the chaps accounts it as his owne: the Bird taken but by the heele is a prey unto the Fowler: the Iayler also holds his prisoner by one ioint as safe, as cast in iron chaines: then did I think what do these motions good, if not effected to the full? what though not notoriously evill? one sinne sufficent to condemn: and is he guilty of all that guilty is of one? then said I vnto the Lord I will freely cleanse my waies and wash my hands in innocency: I will take heed that I offend not in my tongue. Lord let my thoughts be such as I may al-waies say, try and examine mee if there be any vnrighteousnes in mee. Sir Geruase Ellowis.

Before 1634 Gilbert Jackson Painter 1595-1648. Portrait of Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634.

On 03 Sep 1634 Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634 (82) died. Monument in Church of St Mary the Virgin Tittleshall. Simple sarcophagus on pedestal with lying effigy. Pair of flanking Tuscan columns supporting a full entablature with putti on frieze and broken segmental pediment. Carved and painted achievement in and above tympanum flanked by four reclining figures of the Virtues on pediment extrados.
Above. Quarterly of eight: , Crispin, Folkard, Sparham, Nerford, Yarmouth,  and Pawe. The crest is broken. Farrer says it was: On a chapeau Azure, turned up Ermine, an ostrich Argent, holding in its mouth a horseshoe Or. The motto reads Prudens qui Patiens.
The effigy was carved by John Hargrave, the rest of the memorial was made by Nicholas Stone Sculptor 1587-1647 (47).
Below the effigy are three shields. Left  implaling . His first wife [his wife] Bridget Paston -1598. Middle . Right  impaling ; his second wife [his wife] Elizabeth Cecil Countess Berkshire 1596-1672 (38).

In 1672 [his former wife] Elizabeth Cecil Countess Berkshire 1596-1672 (76) died.

[his daughter] Anne Coke was born to Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634 and [his former wife] Bridget Paston -1598.

[his father] Robert Coke 1513-1561 and [his mother] Winifred Knightley 1530-1569 were married.

[his son] Clement Coke was born to Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634 and [his former wife] Bridget Paston -1598.

[his brother] [his son] Robert Coke was born to Edward Coke Lord Chief Justice 1552-1634 and [his former wife] Bridget Paston -1598.

Family Trees

Paternal Family Tree: Coke

Ancestry

Father: Robert Coke 1513-1561

GrandFather: Robert Coke of Sparham 1480-1512

Great GrandFather: John Thomas Coke of Ryston and Sparham 1445-1520

Mother: Winifred Knightley 1530-1569

GrandFather: William Knightley 1486-1548

Great GrandFather: Thomas Knightley 1455-1534

Great x 2 GrandFather: John Knightley 1434-

Great x 3 GrandFather: Richard Knightley 1395-1442