Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Volume 27 Section XIX
Archaeologia Volume 27 Section XIX is in Archaeologia Volume 27.
On the Measures taken for the Apprehension of Sir Thomas de Gournay, one of the Murderers of King Edward the Second, and on their final Issue: in a Letter to Hudson Gurney, Esq, F.R.S., V.P. from the Rev. Joseph Hunter, F.S.A. Read 7th December, 1837.
Torrington Square, November 20, 1837.
Among the ancient compotuses in the Exchequer which have been lately brought to light by the exertions of the Honourable Board of Commissioners on the Public Records, are several which relate to the measures taken by King Edward the Third to bring to justice Sir Thomas de Gournay, the principal actor, as was alleged, in the murder of his father in Berkeley Castle: and as they place the circumstances of his capture, and his ultimate fate, in a light entirely different from that in which they are placed by the old Chroniclers De la Moor and Walsingham, and by modern historians, who, in addition to the Chronicles, have had the benefit of the letters relating to this affair which are printed in the Fcedera, it has occurred to me, that it might be acceptable to the Society of Antiquaries if I were to lay a summary of the contents of these documents before it.
It appears by the Pleas of the Crown before the King in his full Parliament at Westminster, held on the Monday next after the feast of Saint Catharine the Virgin, in the 4th Edward III. (1330), when Sir Thomas de Berkeley was called to answer touching the death of the late deposed King, that the King had been committed to the keeping of himself and John Maltravers, in whose custody he was at the time of his death. Sir Thomas de Berkeley defends himself from the charge of any participation in the murder, alleging, that at the time of the King’s death he was lying ill at Bradley, and was so extremely ill that his life was despaired of: but he admits that he placed as keepers of the King, and as ministers under him, the two persons, namely Thomas de Gournay and William de Ocle, who had been adjudged in Parliament to be guilty of the murder of the King, and on that account Berkeley is not released, but committed to Ralph de Nevil, the Steward of the King’s household. (Rolls, ii. 57.)
In the same Parliament judgment was passed on Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, "et autre de sa covyne," namely, Simon de Bereford, John Maltravers, Bogo de Bayous, John Deveroil, Thomas de Gournay, and William de Ocle. Mortimer and Bereford were in custody, and both adjudged to death. The former was executed on November 29, in the 4th of Edward III. (1330), and Bereford on the Monday next after the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle following.a The rest were also adjudged to death; but not being in custody, rewards were offered for their apprehension. Only Gournay and Ocle are expressly charged with the murder of the King. The rest, even including Maltravers, are considered as convict of other treasons and felonies. The reward offered for the apprehension of Gournay was £100, if brought alive, and 100 marks if brought dead. For Ocle the reward proposed was 100 marks if brought alive, and £40. if dead.b
Note a. Bereford had made preparation for a flight, by depositing a treasure valued at no less a sum than £2000. in the care of Andrew de la Done, Prior of Takkeley, and Nicholas the valet of the said Prior, at the Prior’s house in Silver Street, in the ward of Cripplegate. It consisted in vessels of gold and silver, in sterling money to the amount of £700. and in florins valued at £268. sterling. They were brought soon after the arrest of Mortimer and Bereford and the committal of them to the Tower, by one Richard, clerk to Simon de Bereford, whose surname (cognomen) says the record is unknown, to be kept for Bereford’s use, to be carried beyond sea, or elsewhere at his pleasure, if he escaped or were delivered out of prison. It was seized by the King.
Note b. Gournay is throughout considered as the principal malefactor, or at least the person of highest rauk concerned in the deed. There is much to be found concerning him in Palgrave’s Parliamentary Writs, vol i. and ii.; in the Rolls of Parliament; and in the Fœdera. He had been of the party of Thomas Earl of Lancaster, on whose defeat and death his lands were forfeited, but restored in 1 Edward III. Fœdera, 689 and 690. The chief of his lands lay in the county of Somerset.
So far from the printed Rolls of Parliament, vol. ii. p. 52-54. It is at this point that I propose to take up the thread of the life, and adventures (so I may call them) of Sir Thomas de Gournay, having first shewn what the ancient ehroniclers and the modern historians have related concerning him.
The only contemporary chronicler who has given any account of the subsequent fate of Gournay is Sir Thomas de la Moor. His account is plain and consistent, containing facts, about which it would appear that there could hardly be any dispute, and surmises, which the known circumstances of the case render sufficiently probable. "Proditorios ministros, scilicet Thomam de Gorney et Johannem de Maltravers, persecutio Isabellas et Episcopi Herefordensis (ut proinde viderentur manus innoxias et mentes habuisse) utlegavit, et in exilium egit. Thomas de Gorney Massiliam fugitivus claneulo post triennium cognitus, captus, et versus Angliam reductus, poenam pro demeritis recepturus, in mari fuit decapitatus, ne forte magistros et magnos praelatos, et quam plures alios de regno sibi suum nefas monuisse, et in illud sibi assensum praebuisse accusasset. Alter vero Maltravers partibus Teutonicorum agens poenitentiam, diu latuit." p. 603.
Walsingham has merely copied De la Moor: "Dominus Johannes Maltravers et Thomas Gorney timentes poenas solvere pro morte regis, repente fugerunt. Sed dictus Thomas fuit post tres annos notus et captus apud Marciliam, et remissus versus Angliam, poenam pro demeritis recepturus; qui tainen illuc non peivenit, sed in mari decapitatus fuit, et sub quodarn colore ne forte magnas personas et magnos prselatos Angliae de consensu necis regise et conniventia accusaret." p. 128.
I have not found that any other Latin chronicler has added any thing to the statement of these two writers, who are indeed the chief and almost only authorities for the events of the reign of Edward the Second. Chroniclers since the invention of printing have done little more than translate what they found in De la Moor and Walsingham. Thus Barnes, the latest of those who lived before the publication of the Fœdera, says: "Sir Thomas Gournay, three years after, being taken at Marseilles, in France, and delivered up to be brought over for England, in order to his trial, was beheaded on the sea, before he came hither, by private instructions, as was thought, from some grandees at court, whose interest it was that he should not be brought to examination." p. 23.
The publication in the reign of Queen Anne, of even that small selection from the national records, which is known by the name of Rymer’s Fœdera, forms an important era in English Historiography. Several documents relating to the pursuit of Gournay were printed in that collection, taken from the Chancery Rolls at the Tower. What effect they had on the history of this affair may be seen by the two following quotations from Rapin and Carte: The former says, "Three years after, Gurney was seized at Burgos (it is no longer Marseilles), and by order of the King of Castile carried to Bayonne, from whence Edward commanded him to be conveyed to England. But by some practices, not fully cleared in history, he was beheaded at sea." i. 408. Carte’s account is this: He was "seized in A. D. 1331 at Burgos, in Castille, and delivered to the Seneschal of Guienne, or Mayor of Bavonne, and put on ship-board to be brought to England; but was beheaded at sea on some pretence or other, lest he should discover certain prelates and nobles that were consenting to the King’s murder."
The authority of De la Moor and Walsingham, whose information in this particular we shall see to be entirely undeserving of credit, has influenced later historians down to our own time. Mr. Turner yields himself so implicitly to them, that he has entirely overlooked the testimony borne by the few fragments of record evidence printed in the Fœdera. He says that Gournay "was taken at Marseilles, and beheaded on his way to England, that he might not impeach his employers." ii. 157. Dr. Lingard, like Rapin and Carte, has endeavoured to combine the facts of both in a consistent narrative: "What became of Ogle I know not. Gournay fled into Spain, and was apprehended by the magistrates of Burgos. At the request of the King of England he was examined by them in the presence of an English envoy. What disclosures he made were kept secret: but we may suppose that they implicated persons of high rank, as the messengers who had him in charge, received orders to behead him at sea, on his way to England." ii. 552. It is perhaps not matter of surprise, though it may be of regret, that the Fœdera does contain a document on another subject indeed, but containing a clause relating to Gournay, which has not been allowed its due weight even by Dr. Lingard, and which is in fact inconsistent with the account which he has given of this transaction. It is found, II. ii. 870; but I shall have occasion to advert to it hereafter. Vast and beneficial as hath been the influence of the Fœdera on our national history, it is so truly a work of mere fragments, that the most careful historians must be constantly under the temptation to overlook or to suspect evidence which it presents to them, where is a seeming inconsistency with other evidence in the same work, arising from the want of some connecting link which the chain of evidence has lost.
While I make these remarks, it is with the feeling that other evidence may still be discovered which may add other particulars to those which the evidence before me enables me now to exhibit.
The particulars of the capture and death of Gournay, as the evidence now7 stands, are these:
On December 3rd, 4th Edward III. (1330), four days after the execution of Mortimer, and above three years after the death of King Edward II., writs were issued to the Sheriffs of counties, and to the Mayors and Bailiffs of certain ports, commanding them to arrest any of the following persons, who were accused of certain crimes, and who, it was supposed, were about to leave the realm, namely, John Maltravers, Thomas de Gournay, John Wyard, William de Exon, late Constable of the Castle of Wallingford, John Deveroill, and William de Ocle. (Fœd. ii. 801.)
And on December 15th writs tested at Westminster on that day, not in the Fœdera, were issued to the Sheriffs, commanding them to take into their hands the manors, lands, tenements, goods and chattels of John Maltravers, Thomas de Gournay, Bogo de Baiocis, John Deverel, and William de Ocle, adherents of Roger Mortimer, the enemy of the late King and the realm, who having committed divers felonies and excesses against the peace of the King and kingdom, had clandestinely withdrawn themselves, and not appeared to be judged according to the customs of the realm.
Also on the 23rd of April, in the 5th Edward III. (1331), a writ, not printed, was addressed to John de Staunford and Thomas de Gargrave, commanding them to examine the contents of a chest and certain casks which Gournay, when he was Constable of the Castle of Bristol, had sent to the neighbouring abbey of Keynsham, there to be safely kept for him: and, on May 17 following, another writ issued to William de Bath, clerk, commanding him to open the chest, and to sell the contents of it and of the casks in the presence of the Mayor of Bristol.
About this time the King received information of the country to which Gournay had withdrawn himself, and at the same time that he was in custody there. In the Liberate Rolls is a writ dated June 23, in 5th Edward III. (1331), addressed to the Treasurer and Chamberlains of the Exchequer, directing the payment of £50. to one Ferandus Ivaynes de Greynoun, for his expenses in coming from Spain and returning thither, he having brought information of the capture of Sir Thomas de Gournay: and on the Gascon Rolls is another writ, dated on the same day, addressed to the Constable of Bourdeaux, directing the payment of £300. to John Martin de Leyna, for his great expense and labour in the capture of Thomas de Gournay, our enemy and traitor, in Spain, and in his detention there, which £300. were to be paid to him on the delivery of his captive at Bayonne. Both these writs are in the Fœdera, p. 820 and 821.
This intelligence had been received before the 20th day of May; for on that day the King addressed a letter, which is also in the Foedera, to Alphonso King of Castille, informing him that he has received information from various persons, that Sir Thomas de Gournay, who is accused of the death of the late King, and has fled from judgment, had been arrested at Burgos, within his dominions, and is now detained in prison under his authority: he gives him thanks for so acceptable a service, and asks that the King would cause Gournay to be delivered to John de Haustede, his Seneschal of Gascony, or to persons deputed by him, in order that he might be brought to England. On the same day the King wrote to the Mayor, Eschevins, Consuls, and community of the city of Burgos, reciting the same facts, and praying them to deliver up Gournay to John de Haustede, or his deputies. (Fœd. 819.)
Eight days after the King wrote a second letter to the King of Castille, and also to the authorities of Burgos, repeating his request that Gournay might be delivered to the Seneschal of Gascony, but also requesting that he might be examined touching the charges, by the authorities of Burgos, or persons deputed by them, in the presence of Bernard Pelegrym his serjeant-atarms, who was sent for that purpose, and who was no doubt the bearer of these letters. Whatever confession the prisoner might make, and whoever they might be whom he might implicate, he requests that a faithful report may be made of it under the common seal of the city, and delivered to his said serjeant. (Fœd. 820.)
And on the same 28th of May the King wrote to Sir John de Leynham, the Chamberlain of the King of Spain, intimating that he had heard ol Gournay’s arrest by him, and of his being detained in prison, and requesting that he would cause him to be taken to Bayonne, there to be delivered to the Mayor, Jurates, and probi homines of the city, who would receive instructions from Egidius de Ispannia, whom he calls "dilectus valettus noster," concerning the bringing him to England. (Fœd. 820.) This John de Leynham seems to be the same person in whose favour the warrant for the payment of £300. was issued, although the designation of him on the Close Rolls differs from that on the Liberate Rolls. The King wrote at the same time to the Mayor, & c. of Bayonne concerning the receipt of the prisoner.
No information has been obtained respecting the journey of Bernard Pelegrym, nor have any confessions, if made, of the prisoner been preserved. Pelegrym’s duties seem to have been confined to the confession; but to Egidius de Ispannia was committed the duty of gaining possession of the prisoner, and conveying him to England. On the 30th of May, by another writ, also in the Foedera, 820, addressed to all Sheriffs, Mayors, Bailiffs, Ministers, masters of vessels, mariners, and other faithful, as well within liberties as without, they are commanded to render every assistance to the said Egidius who is sent to bring to England Thomas de Gournay. And on the 8th of June following, Edward addressed the King of Navarre, whose name is lost on the roll, but who must have been Philip the Third, entreating that he would give safe conduct to the persons who might pass through his dominions taking Gournay to the city of Bayonne. (Feed. 820.)
Egidius set out on this service from Saint Edmundsbury, where the King then was, on May 31st, 1331; and on his return he delivered into the Exchequer an account of the expenses of his journey, in which are several important particulars.
He did not leave England till the 11th of June, on which day he crossed to Whitsand. In four days he reached Paris, where he was detained four days more, waiting for a letter from the King to the King of Spain. He was ten days in going to Bourdeaux, and there he remained seven days. When he left Bourdeaux his first object was to obtain an interview with the King of Navarre. After many days’ search he found him at Tudela, and remaining a short time with him proceeded to Burgos. He gives no account of any thing which passed at Burgos: but it is quite clear that Gournay was not delivered up; for the next item in the account relates to his proceeding from Burgos to " Bitoria" (Vittoria) with the King’s letter to "John Martyn de Lene" for the delivery of the body of Gournay, from whence he returned to Burgos. It now becomes quite evident from these accounts, that the authorities in Spain were by no means willing to comply with the request of the King of England, though so urgently made, and in a case in which it might be supposed that all the sovereigns of Europe would have been interested, to say nothing of the natural feeling of horror at a crime so peculiarly atrocious. Egidius had to seek the King of Spain. Through bad information he went first to Valla de Leet (Valladolid), expecting to find the King there, but being in this disappointed he proceeded to Madrich (Madrid), where the King then was. He remained at Madrid not less than thirty days. When the King removed to Avilla, Egidius accompanied him. Not less than fifteen days were spent there; and the King going to Segovia, Egidius went also, and was there not less than another thirty days. All this time he was amused with expectation of the coming of John Martyn, and this expectation continued while he followed the court to Coylla (Cuella), where he spent thirteen days, and to Valladolid, where he was twenty days.
In this manner the whole winter was spent, Gournay still lying in prison at Burgos.
At length the King must have consented to deliver the prisoner to him, or Egidius must have so understood him; for we next find him proceeding from Valladolid to Bourdeaux, for the purpose of obtaining the three hundred pounds which were to be paid for the delivery of Gournay. The money was to be paid at Pampeluna. Two and twenty days were consumed in this expedition; but on his return to Spain, he discovered that the prisoner had found means of making his escape.
Egidius seems to have transmitted intelligence to England that the prisoner was in his hands before he was actually in possession, for in no other way can we account for a document printed in the Foedera, 832, from the Gascon Rolls, which is a letter addressed to the Mayor, Jurates, and probi homines of Bayonne, dated February 13, and there placed in the 6th of the King (1332), commanding them to deliver the body of Gournay, then in prison in their city, to Peter Bernard de Pynsole, to be by him brought to England.
The attention of Egidius was now turned to the pursuit and recovery of the fugitive. He went into Arragon, and spent nearly a month in a fruitless search, after which he proceeded to Burgos, to inqure into the manner in which the escape had been effected. He there found that, though the principal criminal had escaped, his valet remained behind, and was still in prison in that city. This was John Tilly. Nearly a month was spent in endeavours to obtain possession of Tilly. In this he succeeded; and we next find him traversing Navarre, with Tilly in his custody, on his way into Gascony. At the town of Olyt he met, by chance as it appears, with another of the minor actors in this affair, namely Robert Lynel, on whom he seizes. He deposited both at Castrum Stellee (Estella?); and he then set himself a second time to endeavour the recovery of Gournay. Another month is devoted to this search; but having no success, he deposits Tilly in the Castrum Mallionis, in Gascony, and returns by sea to England. He landed at Dover on the 17th of June 1332, having been absent on this service 372 days.
Such is the remarkable history of this mission, as it is to be gathered from the items of an account containing his claims on the Exchequer, which are very moderate, amounting to no more than £44 7s. 8 d. The part respecting Tilly and Lynel might be illustrated from documents in the Foedera; but of these I shall notice only one. Tilly we have seen was carried forward into Gascony, while Lynel remained in Navarre. There is in the Foedera a letter from the Close Rolls, dated June 25, 6th Edward III. (1332), addressed to Philip King of Navarre, desiring him to deliver the said Lynel, whom Egidius de Ispannia had arrested in his dominions, and who was then in the custody of Henry Lord of Soilly, to the person who is the bearer of the letter.
Egidius appears to have lost no credit by the ill success of his mission. Immediately on his return to England, he was employed in the pursuit of other persons who had been concerned in the death of King Edward. The writ, commanding all Sheriffs and others to assist him in this second commission, dated July 1, 6th Edward III. (1332), is in the Foedera, 840; and, corresponding with it, is an account in the Exchequer of what was done by him. As this does not relate to Gournay, of whose place of retreat we shall hear immediately, I shall be brief in my notices of it, but it contains some facts too intimately connected with this subject, and too much unknown, to be passed over, so convenient an opportunity of noticing them being presented.
On July 25 he took at Rochester William de Kingsclere, accused of the King’s death, whom he delivered to Ralph de Cromwell, Constable of the Tower of London. On September 8 he took Sir Richard de Well, accused of the same crime, at Weston, near Northampton, and brought him to London, but he was afterwards committed to William de Elland, Constable of the Castle of Nottingham. On January 31st he took John le Spicer, under the same charge, at London, and delivered him to John Hamont, one of the Sheriffs. On the 9th of February he went abroad. He travelled in various parts of France in search of fugitives, from whence he crossed into Spain, and made a second arrest of John Tilly at Burgos on June 10. On August 20, he delivered him to Raymund deMeyncent, Constable of Castrum Mallionis, in Gascony. It would seem that he had been released, or had made his escape.
King Edward the Third was not to be diverted from his purpose of gaining possession of Gournay, by the lucky escape which the prisoner had effected, when just on the point of being delivered up. We have nothing to show by what channel information was communicated to him of the place to which Gournay had withdrawn himself. But as early as the 16th of January 1333, he had learned that the fugitive was at Naples, and that there he had been arrested at the suit of William de Cornwall, who was probably an emissary of the King’s sent in pursuit of him. On that day the King being at York, delivered instructions to a knight of that county, Sir William de Thweng, to proceed to Naples, and to bring Gournay to England. We have no writs, letters of credence, or other documents relating to this expedition in the Foedera, and only one allusion to it, which will be noticed hereafter: but we need no better evidence than the account which Thweng rendered of the expenses of his mission, a document of which the following is the title:
" Particulae Coinpoti Williehni de Tweng militis, euntis in obsequium Regis ad partes Seciliae pro quibusdem negociis Regis in curia Domini Roberti Regis Seciliae de Naples -expediendis mense Januarii anno vii. Regis Edvvardi tercii a conquestu, per breve Regis: videlicet ad querendum et in Angliam ducendum Thomam de Gournai militem rectatum de morte Regis Edwardi patris Regis nunc, attachiatum ad sectam cujusdem Williehni de Cornewayl apud Naples in curia Roberti Regis Seciliae."
Thweng proceeded to Nice, from whence he crossed by sea to the port of Pisa, where he hired horses, which took him to Pisa, and he proceeded by the same mode of travelling to Naples. Here the first items in the account are for the purchase of certain armour: next of a silver cup which was presented to Sir John de la Play, the Seneschal of the King of Sicily. This cost twentyfive florins, equal to £4 3s 4d sterling. He presented seven florins to the porter and chamberlain of the King and Queen of Sicily. The next items show that Gournay was in his hands: " Item, pro indumentis ad usum domini Thomse Gournay vi flor." then for linen and shoes bought for him, and finally, " pro lecto habendo ad usum ejusdem Thomse in carcere." He then charges for things bought for the use of William de Cornwall, and for presents to the servants of John de la Have, and to the valets of the King’s Admiral.
He freighted a ship at Naples for the port of Agmort (Aigues-mortes) which cost him 400 florins. Aigues-mortes is an obscure, and now greatly decayed, port in Languedoc, not far from Montpellier. Whether Thweng and his prisoner landed there seems doubtful, as we find them very soon at Coloure, another port more to the south in the neighbourhood of Perpignan, where they purchased horses, mules, and saddles, as if there they began to travel by land.
But at Coloure they met with an unexpected interruption. It was no business of Thweng, in drawing up this account, to give a history of his mission, but only to account for the charges which he made. All therefore which we have in the account itself, respecting this interruption, is, that six florins were paid, "pro deliberatione sua habenda, cum ille et omnes qui cum illo attachiati fuerunt apud Coloure;" and again thirty-two florins at Bolon on the same account.
But a satisfactory and clear light is thrown upon this interruption, by a letter in the Foedera, 870, dated October 6, 1333. It is addressed to Alphonso, King of Arragon, and was written soon after the return of Thweng. It relates to certain claims which the heirs of Berengerius de la Tone had upon England; and in the course of it, the King thanks the King of Arragon for having set at liberty William de Thweng, who, travelling through his dominions, having in his custody a certain flagitious person called Thomas de Gournay, had been arrested by the heirs aforesaid. These unexpected correspondencies in documents, different in their origin and character, and preserved in different departments, give a confidence which a single document or a single chronicler might fail to inspire.
This accident would probably occasion the detour which we now find that the party made. Coloure is in Roussillon, and it was, no doubt, the intention of Thweng to proceed with as much dispatch as possible to Bayonne or Bourdeaux; but, instead of this, he passed into Catalonia, going southward almost as far as Tarragona. A place called Bolon is the only place named in the account after he left Coloure, till we find him at Mount Blaunk, a small town about four leagues north of Tarragona. Here he and his charge arrived under the conduct of two officers, one of whom is styled Vicarius Bolon, and the other the King’s Herald. At Mount Blaunk they were delayed by the illness of Gournay. There is an entry of thirty-nine florins paid to physicians, and for medicines for his use. There is also a charge of two florins paid to the minstrels of the King of Arragone while they were at Mount Blaunk. Nor did the civility of King Alphonso end here, for he allowed one of his own servants to conduct the party through his dominions on their way to Bayonne.
Note e. Thus I confidently translate the "Item, menestrallis Regis Arragoniae," of the record; though "menestrallus" seems to have been sometimes used for any officer in a household. The other is its more usual acceptation; and the word "serviens" is immediately afterwards applied to another officer of the King of Arragon.
No circumstance is noticed of this part of the journey, and when we next find them they have traversed Arragon, crossed the Pyrenees, and are at Sordes, a little town on the Gave de Pau, within a short distance of Bayonne. Here they hire a vessel, in which they proceed down the river to Bayonne.
We are now fast approaching the close of this narrative. At Bayonne Gournay, who must have been harassed in body and mind, was again suffering extremely from sickness. He had the assistance of two physicians, to whom twenty florins were paid for their attendance upon him. Thirty-two florins were paid for medicine, sums which show that there was a serious intention to save him if possible. He died at Bayonne. "Item, pro quadam navi pro corpore dicti Thomse tunc inortui ducendo de Bayon usque Burdeux xxvii flor." "Item pro corpore dicti Thomse mortui prima vice prseparando xvi flor." "Item pro eodem corpore preparando alia vice xviii flor." Two notarial instruments, doubtless relating to the circumstances of the death, were drawn up, one at Bayonne and the other at Bourdeaux.
The body was brought to England. The vessel touched at Sandwich for provisions, and then proceeded onward to Tynemouth, the King being then at Berwick. On the 7th of July 1333, Thweng presented himself to the King, to give an account of his mission. His charges amounted to £350. 7s. 10d. his own fee being ten shillings per diem. He remained with the King in his army at Berwick to July 20, thirty of his men, as well sailors as others, remaining in the ship "cum corpore Thomae de Gournay mortui ducto de dictis partibus de Naples." Nothing is said of any interment.
Such then is the narrative of the end of Sir Thomas de Gournay, as collected from evidence which appears to be unquestionable. It will be seen that almost every statement of De la Moor and Walsingham is contradicted by this new evidence: 1st. That the arrest was at Marseilles; 2nd. That he was put to death at sea; and 3rd. That he was put to death under orders from England, lest he should implicate certain great persons in the crime, meaning probably the Bishop of Hereford, if not Queen Isabella herself. The last is a point of no small historical importance. As the narrative now stands, Edward appears to have acted throughout the business with the utmost sincerity and integrity of purpose; and indeed the letter which is published in the Foedera respecting the examination of Gournay at Burgos, and the certificate to be made of it with all particulars, whoever they might be that were implicated, under the common seal of the city, ought to have relieved him, in the eyes of modern historians, from the unworthy surmise of the contemporary chronicler, that he sought to suppress evidence by the destruction of the witness.
As to Walsingham, he is to be regarded only in the light of one who, in this part of his history, has followed an earlier chronicler who may be presumed to have had excellent means of information. But, one part of De la Moor’s narrative thus brought to the test of its agreement with the existing contemporary record being found entirely undeserving of credit, it is impossible to prevent a certain amount of suspicion gathering in the mind respecting other information that was given to him concerning the last year of the life of that unhappy prince, which he has exhibited with so painful a particularity.f
Note f. In Leland’s notes out of the Scala Chronica (Coll. I. 555) we find the following passage, which seems to show that there was a strong feeling in England against Gournay; "There was a great trobyll in Balliols hoste for an esquier caullid Gurnay, whom the Marchers killid upon a surmise that one of [his] name was consenting to the deth of the kinges father." This was some time after the execution of Mortimer.
Bat in respect of the bearing of this communication on the evidence used by later writers on our national history, a far more important consideration is this: that, though not fewer than ten or twelve documents selected from the public records, relating to this transaction, are printed in the Foedera, they fail to correct the errors of the chroniclers, and in fact perplex where they ought to explain. The effect has been, that by one historian of deserved emience, their testimony has been entirely disregarded, and he has adhered to the narrative of De la Moor and Walsingham; and by another they have been partially used, a material document entirely set aside, and that which it ^ was only requested might be done, is assumed to have been done accordingly. This must ever be the case when we have only such slight and partial selections from the national records as the Foedera gives us.
I transmit copies of the three Compotuses which have supplied the facts now for the first time brought to light; and, as a document interesting in itself, and closely connected with the subject of this communication, I add, as an Appendix, the account rendered into the Exchequer of the expenses attending the removal of the body of King Edward the Second from Berkeley to Gloucester, and its interment in the Abbey there, which has not, I believe, before been published. It forms a very useful commentary on the statements of chroniclers and historians.
I am, dear Sir,
Your very faithful and obedient servant,
To Hudson Gurney, Esq. F.R.S. V.P. &c. &c.