Biography of Thomas Overbury 1581-1613

In 1581 Thomas Overbury was born to Nicholas Overbury of Bourton on the Hill in Gloucestershire.

Old and New London Volume 6 Chaper XIX The Old Kent Road. 1593. John Henry, the author of some of the "Martin Mar-Prelate Tracts," was hung here [Map] in 1593; and Franklin, one of the agents implicated in the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury (age 12), was executed at the same place in 1615.

Around 1601 Thomas Overbury (age 20) met Robert Carr 1st Earl Somerset (age 14) and the two became close friends returning to London together.

Around 1612 Henry Vane "The Elder" (age 22) and Frances Darcy (age 21) were married. She being one of the heirs, possibly the only heir, of her father Thomas Darcy. She brought considerable wealth to the marriage as evidenced by Henry's subsequent spending on court positions. Immediately after the marriage Vane writes ... I put myself into court, and bought a carver's place by means of the friendship of Sir Thomas Overbury (age 31), which cost me £5,000.' Next year he devoted the £3,000 of his wife's portion to purchasing from Sir Edward Gorges a third part of the subpoena office in chancery, and later so ingratiated himself with the king (age 45) that James (age 45) gave him the reversion of the whole office for forty years.

Letters of the Court of James I 1613 Reverend Thomas Lorkin to Sir Thomas Puckering Baronet 24 Jun 1613. 24 Jun 1613. London. Reverend Thomas Lorkin to Thomas Puckering 1st Baronet (age 21).

If these letters did not assure you to the contrary, you might judge me dead; at least that some strange accident hath befallen me, who have kept so deep silence so long a time; for to imagine that either I could forget or neglect your so infinite merits towards me, were a censure too hard and rigorous once to enter into the conceit of so generous a disposition. None of these therefore have been the occasion, but only a mere necessity, first of drawing forth my journey into a longer tract than ever I propounded to myself, and then of making a farther abode in France, than at the beginning I intended, thereby to accommodate certain businesses of your brother [Note. brother-in-law] Newton's (age 33)1, which began through my absence to grow into some untowardly disorder. But now that I am safely arrived here, I shall promise to dedicate myself wholly to your affairs, and will hope to improve my industry and diligence such as you shall find no fault to complain that ever you reposed in me that trust which you have done. Touching your design in the prince's' service, I had already communicated it with Mr. Newton, who giveth small encouragement of proceeding farther in it, at least till his highpess grow near upon the point of bis creation [as Prince of Wales], which is yet likely to hold us in expectance three years longer.

There hath been already some contestation had between your brother (age 33) and Mr. Murray2, the prince's tutor, touching the place of secretaryship, this man making it, as your brother formerly did, the chief end of his hopes; so that at length Mr. Newton hath been content to relinquish his right thereunto, upon condition to be made his highnesses Teceiver»general, which is like to be no less beneficial than the former. The mastership of his highness's horse hath divers competitors. Sir Thomas Howard is the most importunate suitor; and Ramsey, who is first escuyer to the prince, thinks it great wrong if he do not enjoy it. In the bedchamber, you know there are already two, Sir Robert Carey and Sir James Fullerton (age 50): David Murray sues to be the third, hoping by that means to recover himself of what he is so much cast behind in, having made a very weak and uncertain estate unto himself, notwithstanding all his former service. But he is like to meet with difficulty enough before be obtain it, notwithstanding all the furtherance he finds from Mr. Murray, his kinsman.

Among the grooms, Sandilands began the suit first, and had procured the king's grant for his present entrance into that charge: but this giving occasion to Gibb and Ramsey to do the like, their importunity hath been a means to revoke and cross that which the other made sure reckoning to have before fully effected for himself.

The first day of this next month the prince begins to keep house at Richmond, where Sir Arthur Mainwaring (age 33) and Sir Edward Varnam (age 23) (so I think they call him, for I am a bad treasurer-up of names) are like to exercise their former places, though they both sue to exchange them with being gentlemen of the privy-chamber. Mr. Alexander likewise shall be pat again into the possession of his. So shall Mr. Peter Newton and his fellow Shaw also. Few others shall be admitted above stairs at this present; and for them below, the first clerks in every office shall execute their proper charge as before.

The great places of the court are not yet disposed of. The manifest faction which is between the family of the Howards on the one side, and the Earl of Southampton (age 39) and Viscount Rochester (age 26) on the other, is supposed to be the cause thereof. For the treasurership, the general voice confers it still upon Northampton (age 73), as it did that of the secretaryship upon Sir Harry Neville; though, for this latter, I suppose his hopes quite dashed; for merely depending upon my Lord Rochester (age 26), he wants not opposition; and then, besides, Overbury (age 32) being fallen into disgrace3, he is thereby deprived of his best instrument. The most likely man to carry it, in the judgment of those who are not al- together unacquainted with those businesses, is Sir Charles Cornwallis, late treasurer to the prince deceased, who is reported very sufficient for foreign affairs: and with him it is thought shall be joined Sir Thomas Luke, though in a far meaner condition than were their predecessors, by reason of the lord treasurer's present greatness.

There hath lately come forth a proclamation against one Cotton, a west-country gentleman and a great recusant, charging him with high treason against the king and State, for having published a very scandalous and railing book against his majesty; and promising a very large reward to whosoever could apprehend him and bring him in. At the very self-same time, this Cotton being to cross the Thames, and inquiring of the watermen what news, they, not know- ing the man, told him what was newly happened concern- ing himself. Whereupon being landed, he muffled himself in his cloak, thinking thereby to pass unknown to any of his acquaintance that he might haply meet. But he had not passed thence many paces, when one Maine, a follower sometimes of the late Lord of Devonshire, and a sure friend of his meeting him in the street and discovering well what he was, [warned] him likewise of danger, with protestation nevertheless not to make any benefit of the discovery of his friend, but wishing him to provide for his own safety. Thereupon Cotton demanding his opinion what he thought fittest to be done, he advised him to submit himself to the king's mercy: whose counsel he followed, and presently went and surrendered himself into my Lord of South* ampton's hands, and so rests at his majesty's mercy.

Your brother Newton (age 33), Mr. Southcot, and one Mr. Wood, have all, jointly together, lately obtained letters-patents for the putting in practice of an invention of the said Wood's, who by steeping all kind of com and grain in a certain liquor, undertakes thereby to render it more fruitful with five shillings' cost, than would ever have been before done with forty. They are now very busy in projecting a course for the [spread]ing of it throughout the realm, and hope to reap no small profit and advantage by it. When that is settled, your brother meaneth to make a journey to Durham4, whither Sir Thomas Grantham and his lady purpose to accompany him. He despatches away before great store of provision by sea, both of wine, beer, and divers other commodities, and means to be at the charge of a very honourable entertainment. Only Mrs. Newton stays behind, being hindered by a very happy occasion, finding herself quick with child.

Sir Thomas Mildmay5 keeps Whitehall close, not daring to venture abroad, for Sir John Wentworth's debt. He intends [to sell] Moulsham away shortly, and so to procure his own liberty.

About four or five days since, the Duke of Savoy's (age 51) ambassador took his leave, who hath been here honoured with a very royal entertainment. The occasion of his ambassage, I suppose, is well enough known unto you, namely, to treat of a second motion of marriage between our prince and one of the daughters of Savoy. His offers are very great, and such as none other cometh near to. His wars upon the Duke of Mantua do, in a manner, furnish the whole subject to the Frenchmen's discourse. To write anything of them, I hold it needless; for, being much nearer, you cannot but understand those things likewise, much better than myself. Only I shall, in a word or two, inform you in how doubtful a deliberation the state of France stands, touching those affairs. The Prince of Conde (age 24) and the Duke of Bouillon press both very earnestly for the relief of the Mantuan against the Savoyard. The Duke d'Espemon, on the contrary, travaileth all he may to overthrow and hinder it. And not long since, this point being debated in open council. Monsieur le Prince, in the heat of his contestation with the said duke, spared not to tell him that there was now carried so much respect to the affairs of Spain, as in the mean time they quite forgot that natural affection which they owed unto France, threatening therewithal that, in case they continued to reject the wholesome counsel which he gave in a matter of that importance, he would go and make his protestations to the Court of Parliament. It is that which keeps the adverse part somewhat in bridle, though yet the queen seems rather inclined to authorize the advice of the others than his. For, as touching the little aid which the Chevalier de Guise hath lately carried over, it is rather by permission than any commission from the queen, and is wholly composed of mere voluntaries.

The Duke de Vendome having lately retired himself from court to a certain house of his, not far from Paris upon a discontentment taken in the behalf and favour of the Prince of Conde (age 24), and there threatening never to return again so long as the regency of this queen lasteth; the queen, being advertised thereof presently, sent and con- fined him to his house. But the said duke, not able to brook any such confinement, contrary to the queen's in- junction, made a journey into Bretagne, and there put himself into a very strong castle, named Ansenis. Where- upon, the queen presently despatched Monsieur de la Yarenne towards him, to command him to return; and, in case of his refusal, threatened to deprive him of his goyemment. The duke thereto made a very humble and submissive answer, yet no way disposes himself to obey her commandment Hereupon, the queen hath renewed it a second time by letters; but these are thought will as little avail as the former. And yet, nevertheless, the Prince of Conde (age 24), employing himself very earnestly in favour of the said duke, it is not like that there will be any rigorous proceeding against him, as is threatened.

Note 1. Adam Newton, Esq (age 33). He is styled by Dr. Thomas Smith, "Vitre quorandam eruditise et illost. virorim," printed in 4to., in 1707, vir elegantissimi ingenii."

Note 2. This appears to refer to Mr. Thomas Murray, who was tutor to the Duke of York, Charles I (age 12).

Note 3. He had ventored to remonstrate with the favourite (age 26) respecting his intimacy with the Countess of Essex (age 23).

Note 4. See the letter of August 12. Mr. Newton (age 33) was, as we have stated, Dean of Durham, though a layman: such an appointment being allowable at this period.

Note 5. Knighted by King James I., at his majesty's arrival at Whitehall from Scotland, July 23, 1603, and created a baronet, Jane 29, 1611.

Thomas Overbury Murder and Trial of his Murderers

Letters of the Court of James I 1613 Reverend Thomas Lorkin to Sir Thomas Puckering Baronet 29 Aug 1613. 29 Aug 1613. London. Reverend Thomas Lorkin to Thomas Puckering 1st Baronet (age 21).

Yoa may please to remember how, in some of my former letters, I made mention of my Lord of Essex's (age 22) case, which was to rest in dependance till next term. But the king showed himself so affectionate in it, as the commissioners have been forced (to give his majesty satisfaction) to yield a more speedy hearing of it, which was done (though with little effect) upon last Wednesday. But it is believed generally that unless the commission be changed, the nullities which his majesty desireth will never be pronounced. For the Archbishop of Canterbury (age 50) and the Bishop of London (age 54), together with Dr. Bennet, and Dr. Edwards, who are like to have the greatest sway in deciding this controversy, are directly against it; insomuch as my Lord of Canterbury (age 50), being with his majesty at Windsor for some three or four days before the hearing, fell down upon his knees twice or thrice, to entreat his majesty that he might be dispensed with from being on the commission; which he would esteem a greater favour that all that he had received from him in being raised from a private condition, and in so short a space, to the highest dignity ecclesiastical. At the last hearing, my Lord of Rochester (age 26) stayed here in town, as is supposed, to hear the success, and rode presently past unto the king, [to acquaint] his majesty thereof, and showeth himself so passionate in this business only in favour [of the countess (age 23),] with whom a new match would be presently concluded, if the old one were now abolished.

Sir Thomas Overbury (age 32) is like to run a short course, being sick unto death1. The lieutenant of the Tower, and the physicians that were there about him, have subscribed their hands, that they hold him a man past all recovery.

Mr. Albert Morton (age 29), secretary of Sir Henry Wotton, is to be sent presently ambassador to the Duke of Savoy (age 51), and there [remain], which gives occasion of conjecture here that the old treaty of marriage is now [on foot] again; and that that other of France is like to fall to the ground. But in these [conjectures] haply it would be fit to be more sparing.

I received news lately from a gentleman, that heard it from Sir Ralph Winwood's (age 50) own mouth, that the States are resolved to make war upon the King of Denmark, if either our king will join them, or otherwise be [persuaded] to stand by a neuter. Their quarrel is, for that the King of Denmark hath imposed a grievous tax upon all merchandize that pass the Sound, and he hath in effect blocked up that passage: for it is held that of every three ships that pass, one falls by this means to his share, which is a thing intolerable.

The differences between them of the Religion in France are grown so violent as the deputies'-general have petitioned the queen, in the name of all the provinces, for liberty to hold a general assembly for [consideration] and pacification of them. But they find this request to be nothing pleasing, nor without great difficulty to be ob- tained, out of a jealousy the States hath that they may grow to new complaints and demands, after the example of the last assembly.

There hath been lately a proposition of marriage between the daughter of M. D'Ancre, and M. De Villeroy's grand-child, who is the heir of his house; there having been a former intention of matching her with the young Duke D'Elboeuf, which gives occasion of great jealousy and suspicion to M. De Guise and his faction, fearing by this news that M. De Yilleroy will be disjoined from them.

Note 1. He died on the 15th of September following, from poison, which Rochester and his countess had caused to be administered in his food.

On 14 Sep 1613 Thomas Overbury (age 32) died from poisoning at the Tower of London [Map].

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

After 01 Oct 1615 Gervase Helwys (age 54), Thomas Monson 1st Baronet (age 50), 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 at the Guildhall [Map] by Edward Coke (age 63) and Francis Bacon 1st Viscount St Alban (age 54). 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 and Somerset (age 25). Frances Howard Countess Essex and Somerset (age 25) admitted her guilt. Her husband Robert Carr 1st Earl Somerset (age 28) maintained his innocence despite King James I of England and Ireland and VI of Scotland (age 49) urging him to admit his guilt to avoid James being implicated. Frances Howard Countess Essex and Somerset (age 25) and Robert Carr 1st Earl Somerset (age 28) were found guilty and sentenced to death. King James I of England and Ireland and VI of Scotland (age 49) commuted their sentence to life imprisonment. They, along with Monson (age 50), were subsequently pardoned.

The evidence for Gervase Helwys (age 54) appeared to indicated he had attempted to undermine the plot to poison Thomas Overbury.

On 20 Nov 1616 Gervase Helwys (age 55) was hanged at Tower Hill [Map]. 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 [Map], rather than in the place of common Execution [Map], 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 (age 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 (age 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 unrighteousnes in mee. Sir Geruase Ellowis.

On 22 Apr 1613, before Robert Carr 1st Earl Somerset and Frances Howard Countess Essex and Somerset were married, the Howard family sought to undermine Thomas Overbury's influence over Robert Carr 1st Earl Somerset. King James I of England and Ireland and VI of Scotland offered Thomas Overbury an ambassadorship, possibly on the Howard's advice, which Overbury declined to James' annoyance who put Overbury in the Tower of London [Map].