Tudor Letters

Tudor Letters is in Tudor Books.

Circular Letter To The Lieutenants Of Counties, Announcing The Accession Of The Lady Jane To The Crown

SOURCE: Tudor History Blog

Cecill, in the "submission" and apology which he presented to queen Mary on his meeting her at Newhall, (a document prejerved in the MS. Lansdowne 104, and printed in Tytler's Edward the Sixth and Mary, vol. ii p. 192,) alleges, "7. I eschewed the wrytyng of the Quenes highnes bastard, and therfore the duke wrote the lettre himself whioh was set abroode in the realm."

The very paper here alluded to, wholly in the writing of the duke of Northumberland, is now preserved in the Lansdowne MS 3, art. 24. It is now printed with all its erasures and interlineations, the former shown by Italic types, the latter by parentheses, and the reader will thus be enabled to follow the thoughts of the wily politician in its composition: --

Ryght trusty and ryght welbeloved cousen. We grete you well. Adutising ye same that where yt hathe pleasyd (allmighty) God to call to his mercy out of this lyffe o[u]r deereste cousyne the Kinge yo[u]r late sou[vr]ayne L. By reason wherof And suche ordena[n]ce[s] as the sayd late Kinge dydd establishe in his lyffe tyme for the securyte and wellthe of this Realme, we are enteryd into o[u]r rightfull possesyo[n] of this kingdo[m] as by the (laste wyll1 of o[u]r sayd derest cosen o[u]r late p[ro]genytor and other) se[vr]uall instrume[n]te[s] to that affect, signed w[ith] his owne hande, and sealyd w[ith] the greate seale of England (this Realme2) in his owne p[re]sence. And the same beinge allso subscribyd w[ith] the handes of the mooste p[ar]te of the nobles of o[u]r Realme. (Where unto the nobles of this Realme for the most p[ar]te, And all o[u]r Councell & Judges w[i]t[h] the mayor and alldermen of o[u]r cytty of London, and dy[vr]us other greate officeres of this o[u]r Realme of England, have allso subscribed theyr names,) as by the same wyll & instrume[n]t yt may more evydently (& playnly) apere. We therfor do you to understand that by thordynaunce and sufferaunce of god, the the hevenly Lorde3. And by th'assent and consent of o[u]r sayde nobles. and councellors and others before specyfyed, We do this daye mak o[u]r entry into o[u]r tower of Londo[n] as Rightfull quene. of this Realme and have accordingly. sett forthe. o[u]r p[ro]clamat[i]o[n]s. to all o[u]r lovinge subiect[s] of the same. a (gyveinge theym therby to understand) theyr dutys of aledgeaunce w[hi]c[h] they now of Right owe unto us (as more amply by the same you shall brefly p[er]ceyve & understand) nothinge doubtinge Right trusty & Right welbelovid Cousen in yo[u]r aprovide fydelite and trust but yt you wyll indevour yo[u]r syiffe in all thing[s]. to the uttmoste of yo[u]r powre (nat only) to deffend and (o[u]r just title and possesyon but allso to) assyst us in o[u]r right full posessyon of this kingdome and t'extyrppe to disturbe, repell and resyste the fayned and (untrue) clayme of the lady Mary. basterd dought[er] to o[u]r sayde derest Cousen and progenitor great unckle Henry the eight of famous memory. Wherin as you shall do that w[hi]c[h] to yor honor truthe and duty apertayneth. so shall we rem[ember] [the] same. unto you and yo[u]rs. accordingly. Willing and requir' all. At o[u]r manor &c.

Indorsed by lord Burghley,

12 Julij 1553. first copy of a l're to be wrytte[n] fro[m] [th]ye lady Jane, wha she ca[me] to [th]ye Tower, writte[n] by [th]ye Duk of Northu[mber]la[nd].

Note 1. By inserting this passage the duke assumed the existence of a Last Will. So far as we know, there was no such document, other than the Letters Patent, to which we find several writers concurring in applying the term "Will". Northumberland probably thought it convenient to adopt that term, because the country was already familiar with the fact that the Last Will of Henry VIII had been legalised as limiting the succession. No doubt the Letters Patent were, almost from the first, spoken of as king Edward's Will, as Cranmer so wrote of them in his Apology to queen Mary.

Note 2. Here will be observed an attempt of the duke to give the great seal of "this Realme" an authority of its own, rather than merely its legitimate authority as testifying the will of the sovereign. This reliance upon the great seal was the very error which was fatal to him.

Note 3. This alteration of the name of "God" to "the heavenly Lorde," is not wholly undeserving of observation, because the latter expression was considered most acceptable to the Protestants. Bishop Gardiner, when examining a prisoner, is represented by Foxe as speaking contemptuously of such as had "the Lord" always in their mouths. In the letter as finally sent out, the expression was "the heavenly Lord and King."

Two copies of this letter, having the sign-manual of "Jane the quene" prefixed, are in existence:

Letter 1. In the Lansdowne MS. 1236. It is the Copy preserved by secretary Cecill, who has indorsed it subsequently with these fatal words, "Jana no[n] Regina." It is thus dated:

"Yeven under our signet at our Toure of London the xth of July the first year of our reign."

And thus directed, "To our right trustie and right welbeloved cousyn and counsellor the lorde marques of Northampton, lieutenante of our counties of Surrye, Northampton, Bedford, and Berkshire."

The only alteration from Northumberland's draft, excepting the slight variation of expression in allusion to the Deity already mentioned in a note, is the following addition, continuing the authority of the persons to whom it was addressed:

"And our further pleasure is that you shall continue, doo, and execute every thing and thinges as our lieutenant within all places, according to the tenor of the commission addressed unto you from our late cousyn king Edwarde the sixte, in such and lyke sort as if the same had been, as we mynde shortely it shall be, renueedd and by us confirmed under our great sesl to you."

This copy was edited by Sir Henry Ellis in the Archaeologia, vol. xviii. p. 269.

Letter 2. The other copy was certainly sent into the county of Surrey, and is preserved among the archives at Loseley House. The date is written by a different hand to the body of the document, and is the 11th not the 10th of July. The direction is thus, "To our right trusty and right welbeloved cousyn and counsellour the marques of Northampton, our lieutenant of our county of Surrey, and our trusty and welbeloved the deputies of that lieutenancye, and the sheriff and chief justices of peas and the worshypfull of that shire." From this copy the letter was printed in Ellis's Original Letters, First Series, ii. 183; in Nicolas's Memoir of Lady Jane Grey; and (somewhat less correctly) in Kempe's Loseley Manuscripts.