No one ought to expect any pleasure from the annals of the Great Rebellion period. There is sensation enough in this chapter, chiefly the sensation of shame and degradation; records enough, the records of perverted efforts after Reverence, Truth and Righteousness. What is painful in every sense of the word to write can hardly be delectable reading. When men would do good, evil was present with them.
In the fierce heat of their controversy, the subtle aroma of the Teaching which was the Life of the world was evaporated, and the commonplace of regulations remained, changed a little in form, but the same in its inevitable necessity, the Westminster Directory instead of the Book of Common Prayer.
It is true that our local narrative will not set before us the gory battle-fields and blasted verdure of other counties. There is no Chalgrove Field, Cropredy Bridge, or Marston Moor in our bounds. The Suffolk heroes fell in scores and hundreds in these quarrels not their own, dying for God and the King, or for God and the Cause, or in many cases simply for their pay, all over the length and breadth of the land. Their names are irrecoverably gone. Old parchment registers record their baptism, perhaps their marriage, but not their burial. None the less, ay, all the more, for years and years the lonely cottage mourned the day when John or Harry was torn from the home never to be seen again.
Then the ruined manor-houses, the exiled rectors and vicars and their starving families, the desecrated churches on the one hand, and on the other the snipped ears of ecclesiastical convicts, the practical banishment of many a worthy man for conscience’ sake under the severity of episcopal rule, the ejectment of many another on St. Bartholomew’s Day, 1662, present a picture with no tender neutral tints. The working of the devil is as plain through the whole accursed business as it is in the Ten Persecutions or in the funeral rites of the King of Dahomey.
An additional element of discomfort arises from the fact that this misery and disgrace was so largely the work of theologians, and from the apprehension that a theologian in treating of it may perpetuate the evil which he deplores. Yet should the perusal of the Long Parliament period deter any from the eager pursuit of an impossible ideal by the perception of what is inseparably bound up with that pursuit, our work will not be fruitless. Through the clouds the sun shines. The establishment of the British Constitution, the beneficent effect of Imperial England, the great United States of America, spring out of this seeming chaos. Powers of destruction work their dread work and quench themselves. “The remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain”.
The Scotch had been treating by commissioners with Charles I. for some time before 1640, with the usual negative result when each side is bent on having its own way, and large contributions had been made for the royal service. The smallest were thankfully received, as we find from the Cratfield book, where the moderate sum of sixpence was thrice doled out, on March 28, 1640, to two “gentleman soldiers”, and afterwards to a “gentleman traveller with a pass which had great loss”, and again to three “gentleman soldiers with Sir Thomas Glembam’s hand to their pass”. “Many travellers” sent by Sir Thurston Smyth, on July 10, only bled the parochial authorities of eightpence among the “many”; but warily they handed over £3 to Mr. Eland, the Vicar, thus avoiding responsibility as to the disposal of it. Among the Suffolk names in the Army List of the expedition under the Earl of Northumberland against the Scotch, to join which these gentleman travellers were hasting, we find Peter Gleane, Lieutenant of the 15th Regiment, of the Southelmham family: Captain Thomas Cornewallis, from Brome, of the 18th; and Captain Thomas Pettus, from Chediston, of the 20th. In the autumn these gentlemen soldiers retired before their Presbyterian opponents, and shortly after the election scene under the elm at Ipswich a cessation of arms was agreed upon, and Dewes and Crane, Barnardiston and Parker, the two Bences, and the rest of the Suffolk burgesses, met their fellows from the other shires, cities, and towns of England, and in hot haste that work began which had to be repented of at leisure.
The Ipswich burgesses, John Gurdon of Great Wenham, and William Cage, one of their own portmen, who had a seat at Bungay, and was “reputed a wise man”, as Gipps testifies of him, had experienced some whetting of the anti-prelatical appetite under the episcopate of Matthew Wren, formerly Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge, who succeeded Bishop Corbet in 1635, and was translated to Ely in 1638. Though it pleased Harbottle Grimston to describe him in opprobrious terms, “the least of all these birds, but one of the most unclean”, after-ages will do him the justice to acknowledge that much that he was striving after was not at all in excess of common decency and propriety, without bringing in the vexed matter of any peculiar reverence due to places set apart for sacred purposes. In many Suffolk churches, which as yet have escaped the ecclesiastical decorative metal standards, there remain the Communion-rails of a well-known balustrade type, set so closely together that no dog should run between them, an arrangement which can hardly fail of commending itself to the unprejudiced mind. His zeal for pulpit cushions will seem a little strange to the admirers of the antependium of the present day. Other matters of greater importance, however, had claimed his episcopal care. No lecture had been held at Ipswich since Mr. Ward’s suspension, which evil might have been avoided by letting that worthy divine alone. Catechizing had fallen through, and, worse than all, half the churches in the town were unserved. Hence had come a commission under Clement Corbet, Doctor of Laws, the Bishop’s Vicar-General, and others, a riot, the hustling of the commissioners, and a bill of the Attorney-General against the bailiffs, burgesses, commonalty of Ipswich, William Cage, Esq., and twenty-one others. The rioters proclaimed that the Bishop’s own conduct had led to the churches being unserved, and that they had never been at such a pass since Queen Mary’s days. It was fever-heat. From high words they soon came to blows. Jonathan Skynner, a learned and conformable minister, being peaceably in the streets, was set upon by Philip Coatnell and others, struck with a cudgel, and threatened with a drawn knife, besides being called drunken parson, base knave, etc., by Thurston Ashley, who challenged him to fight. It was alleged that the authorities were cognizant of all this, and that Cage in particular, who lived close to Bishop Wren’s house, was aware that the house had been entered riotously, and Thomas Kidder-master, Stephen Sheppard, Richard Holland, and divers of his lordship’s servants, had been beaten and wounded; and yet, so far from any notice being taken of these unlawful deeds, there had been open encouragement and secret counsel given to the rabble. This kind of thing had brought about a remarkably unchristian and uncharitable feeling, and when such men as Cage on the one hand, and Sir Robert Crane on the other, met at Westminster, there would be no lack of mutual recrimination. Compliments would pass from one to the other in full-flavoured provincial dialect, not always comprehensible when the disputants came from distant shires; and the fuel being collected in abundance, and the flame already prepared to be applied to it, the grand conflagration came as a matter of course. It is time to lessen, if it may be, the reverence felt for the men of that day. They were in a measure victims to wicked sentiments beyond their control, but to some extent controllable had there been a desire to control them. But as to great virtues and remarkable godliness on either side, those may conscientiously believe in them that really find them, and do not unconsciously fabricate them. The wholesale destruction of peace and goodwill receives but a slender compensation in the occasional blaze o. some noble scene.
“It is well”, says the present Bishop of Peterborough108, to abandon all illusions about the sixteenth century. There were strong men; there were powerful minds; but there was a dearth of beautiful characters. A time of revolt and upheaval is a time of one-sided energy, of moral uncertainty, of hardness, of unsound argument, of imperfect self-control, of vacillation, of self-seeking. It is difficult in such a time to find heroes, to discover a man whom we can unreservedly admire. The Church of Rome had fortified itself against attack by the Inquisition, and by the passionate zeal of the Society of Jesus, which soon degenerated into unprincipled intrigue. Calvin raised against it a massive system, which bound together the members of his community by an overpowering sense of their direct dependence on God through His particular election of each individual soul. Beside these two great systems all else seemed inconclusive, poor, feeble, and doomed to failure. Yet where in either of them was there place for the aspirations of the devout scholar, of the man who reverenced liberty, who believed in progressive enlightenment, who longed for an intelligent order of things in which the Christian consciousness should seek for spiritual truth? It was not merely by accident that the great scholar Isaac Casaubon ended his days in England, made happy by the society of Andrewes. It is significant of the temper of the times that the Puritans pelted him with stones in the street when they found that he was not a partisan on their side. Still,, despite this, Casaubon, with his vast learning and his wide experience of the Continent, found peace for his soul in England, which he called ” the isle of the blessed”. In it, despite all drawbacks, still lingered a reverence for knowledge, a love of truth, and a sense of the problems of the future”.
Few counties had been more remarkable for beautiful carving than Suffolk, and the churches of the county will long bear the marks of the commission acting by the authority of the Long Parliament, “for the defacing, demolishing, and quite taking away of all images, altars, or tables turned altar-wise, crucifixes, superstitious pictures, monuments, and reliques of idolatry, out of all churches and chapels”. The Earl of Manchester received his commission as General of the Associated Eastern Counties in 1642, and William Dowsing of Laxfield, one of the visitors employed for this purpose in the following two years, has left his diary behind him. It is worth inquiry whether he was descended from the man of the same name and village who burned Noyes in Mary’s reign. The diary is a witness to the ignorance and conceit of that class of Puritan. Everything appeared superstitious to his narrow, ill-informed mind. The memorials of martyrs of the best-attested records, who had witnessed for the faith in fire and under the edge of the knife when Decius or Diocletian wore the imperial purple, had to perish because silly people in the Middle Ages had invested them with miraculous qualities. Because a bushel of St. Apollonia’s teeth (or, as some of our Roman friends say, teeth which had acquired the healing influence by contact with St. Apollonia’s teeth) had . been found in England at the Reformation, the very memorial of the pious old woman of Alexandria, whose teeth had been beaten out with a club, must perish. The wonder was that a picture in a family Bible, a title-page woodcut, an engraved capital letter,, was allowed to remain. The Saviour’s monogram was thought to be the “Jesuit’s badge”. How Dowsing found “1,000 superstitious pictures at Clare”, and, by a strange coincidence, the same number at King’s College, Cambridge, through which last, happily, he did not throw brickbats, and the rest of his acts, may be found in his own diary. It is really a blessing not to have room for the doings of this portentous clown, of whom the bitterest Puritan of the present day is probably ashamed.
Next comes the commission to inquire about “scandalous ministers”. It was a cruel choice of a day that the Earl of Manchester made (St. Matthias, February 24, 1643) for the appointment of these committees for Lincolnshire, Huntingdon, Essex, and Hertfordshire, though probably he did not notice it. The Suffolk committee followed on March 12. The examples of the Star Chamber and High Commission were followed in all the iniquity of their procedure, and surpassed by bringing into every district the vile office of an informer. “New Presbyter was but Old Priest writ large”. Let any man with the merest suspicion of love for civil and religious liberty, whether he be Conformist, Nonconformist, believer or unbeliever, read the accusations made, and if again he calls the Long Parliament “passionate lovers of liberty”, language will have lost its meaning. They wanted liberty for themselves and coercion for others, and to these ends they worked as eagerly as the most rigorous of the bishops, and far more effectually. A list, by no means perfect, of the ejected is to be found in Walker’s “Sufferings of the Clergy”, from which a few particulars are extracted: Aggas, Rector of Rushbrook, afterwards got his livelihood (such as it was) by his fiddle; Alcock, Rector of Brettenham, spoke lightly of the Parliament and declaimed earnestly against the rebellion; Ambler, Vicar of Wenhaston, refused to take the Covenant or assist in the rebellion; Dr. John Crofts, Rector of Barnham and West Stow, had nothing besides this alleged against him; Dalton, Rector of Dalham, was first driven by the troopers from his parish, and then had his living sequestrated for deserting his cure; Keeble of Ringshall, in addition to remarks about cobblers and tinkers in the pulpit, had in his house pamphlets against the Parliament, but none for it; Mayor of Finningham ridiculed Sir Nathaniel Barnardiston, saying that all the speech he made was, “Sirs, shut the doors, lest wee get cold”; Jeremiah Raven, of Chattisham. and Blakenham, was a pluralist, malignant, Arminian, superstitious, and popishly affected. As though these crimes were too few, he was also an ale-househaunter. Dr. Robert Warren, of Long Melford, was turned out, according to Walker’s belief, as early as the latter end of August, 1641, when he was plundered of five very good horses and his household furniture. His case is therefore not to be charged on the Earl of Manchester. Among his offences was the revival of the use of the sanctus-bell, an instrument which was incapable of propagating Arminianism or any other “ism” contrary to Long Parliament theology. As he was returning home after being forced out of his pulpit, one of the party beat a frying-pan before him in derision, saying, “This is your saints’ bell”. As to the accusations about false doctrine, considering the source from which they are derived, they clearly cannot be assumed to be well grounded. Neither, again, can they fairly be dismissed as baseless. Nothing but such knowledge as is impossible for us can enable us to estimate the value of these charges. The same consideration affects the charges of immorality. Among the many cases, few are more remarkable than that of James Buck, B.D., Vicar of Stradbroke, of whom Walker gives the following account:
“About the beginning of the Rebellion, when he had been Vicar here upwards of Twenty Years, he was seized and carried Prisoner to Ipswich Jayl; in which Durance he was for a time allowed part of the Profits of his Vicaridge”. When this ceased he told the gaoler that he must live upon the allowance of the country.”This the jailer told him could never be, for the utmost Allowance was but a Penny per Diem for Bread and Water to drink”. To this he submitted for two months with an admirable result: “For whereas before he was Forty Years old he was so extremely afflicted with the gout that the Physicians did not believe he could live Two Years longer; his Constitution was by this Change of Diet and Abstemiousness so altered, that he never bad the gout after, but enjoyed great Degrees of Health, notwithstanding his being a very hard Student even till after Eighty Years of Age”. Another instance of the “survival of the fittest” is to be found at Ufford, near Woodbridge. The date of the Mandate of the Induction of Richard Lovekin, Clerk, to the rectory of that parish bears date June 2, 1631. It is recorded that in the Great Rebellion he was plundered of all his goods, except one silver spoon, which he hid in his sleeve. Yet he lived through the Commonwealth, renamed to his benefice at the Restoration, and performed his duties to the last, preaching on the Sunday before his death. He was buried September 23, 1678, in the one hundred and eleventh year of his age. In the First Century of Scandalous Ministers appear the following:
|Paragraph||20,||case of||Robert Cotesford, Rector of Hadleigh.|
|“||31,||“||Richard Hart, Rector of Hargrave.|
|“||36,||“||Alexander Clarke, Vicar of Bredfield.|
|“||52,||“||William Evans, Rector of Sandcroft.|
|“||57,||“||Cuthbert Dale, Rector of Kettleburrough.|
|“||59,||“||Nicholas King, Vicar of Friston and Snape.|
|“||61,||“||John Wells, Rector of Shimplyn.|
|“||62,||“||Thomas Geary, Rector of Bedding6ekL|
|“||69,||“||John Ramew, Rector of Kettleb”ton.|
|“||71,||“||Miles Goultie, Vicar of Walton.|
|“||72,||“||Samuel Alsop, Vicar of Acton.|
|“||77,||“||Matthew Clay, Rector of Chetsworth.|
|“||86,||“||James Buck, Vicar of Stradbrooke.|
|“||94,||“||Robert Shephard, Rector of Hepworth.|
|“||99,||“||Samuel Scrivener, Rector of Westhropp.|
To judge from the registers, the new men appointed under the Earl of Manchester’s commission were as scholars far inferior to their predecessors. The fine, precise, clerkly hand generally gives place to an illiterate scrawl, and sometimes for years in large parishes there are very few entries. Births instead of baptisms, contracts of marriages before justices of the peace, and burials, amount to an insignificant number, which rises again when the Commonwealth chaos ends and the old order returns. The gentry of Suffolk were divided not very unequally between King and Cause, as far as I can judge. Sir Thomas Glemham of Little Glemham, belonging to the same family as the Elizabethan sea-rover, Edward Glemham, takes a prominent place among the Cavaliers. Clarendon describes him as of courage and integrity unquestionable, but not of a sufficiently stirring and active nature. The Yorkshire gentlemen procured his appointment as commander in York, and he justified their choice by holding Newcastle against the Scotch in January, 1644. After Marston Moor he had no choice but to surrender York on honourable conditions. “And so”, says Clarendon, “he marched with all his troops to Carlisle, which he afterwards defended with very remarkable circumstances of courage, industry, and patience”. Under which head the making drunk of two Scotch envoys sent to treat about surrender, as related by Tullie 109, should be classed, is not manifest. Afterwards, though sorely vexed by the grant of the barony of Brandon, where some of his inheritance lay, to Sir Charles Gerrard, he still served his Sovereign faithfully, ruled Oxford for him, went into exile when he had compounded for his estate, and died in Holland in 1649- Colonel Robert Gosnold of Otley, who had married a daughter of Bishop Jegon’s, and Major Naunton of Letheringham, were acting under Glemham at Carlisle. Sir Sackville Glemham was an active Cavalier. Henry Glemham, D.D., survived the troubled times, became Bishop of St. Asaph in 1667, died two years afterwards, and lies in Little Glemham Church with his gallant brother. On the other side, the regicide William Heveningham of Heveningham may be named. The Heveninghams can be traced back far into the Middle Ages, but Gipps, who calls him a “daring monster”, notes with evident satisfaction that soon after the execution of Charles I.”the family wither’d and came to nothing”.
Intense grief was felt at the King’s execution, and that not only among Royalists, though they experienced the sharpest pangs. Francis Sancroft of Fressingfield, father of the Archbishop, died in the course of about three weeks, and his son evidently regarded sorrow as a main cause of the death. The Sunday following the execution was February 4, and the occurrence of Psalms xx. and xxi. in the morning service cheered the hearts of those who, amidst all turns of weal and woe, followed hereditary right. A portrait of the Archbishop, who was then a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, was painted the next year, and remains at Gawdy Hall, the residence of John Sancroft Holmes, Esq., the representative of the family. It depicts William Sancroft as holding a Hebrew Bible open in his hand, and in Hebrew characters Tehilim, Caph, Caph Aleph (Psalms xx., xxi) may be clearly seen at the top of the page. Truly, the patience of the defeated party was tried. The events at Dunbar and Worcester put the young King far from them. Yet the hand of the victorious Puritan touched the county lightly in confiscation. There is a great paucity of Suffolk names in those acts. In the third of them, 1652, we find Thomas Webb, son to Roger Webb (of Long Parliament election fame, under the elm at Ipswich) of – – – (Ixworth no doubt fills the blank); Henry Fernes, late of Walderswick (sic); Thomas Allen of Laystuff, mariner (belonging probably to the Somerleyton family); and Anthony Mowsey of Cattam, deceased.
The dreary Commonwealth period passed away, and to do the ruling powers justice, there was a marked absence of that greed which distinguished the reign of Edward VI. Elizabethan church-plate remained unmelted, and bells, though perhaps loved but little, were let alone. In some instances there was recasting, and in one (Stansfield) an entirely new peal. This was in 1652, and the founder was Miles Graye the younger, whose father, of the same name – one of the best bell-founders England has ever seen – died in June, 1649, “weak in body and crased with age, but yet in p’fect mind and memory”. In the previous year the old man had witnessed the burning of his “capitall messuage” below Headgate, in Colchester 110.
A mighty wind arises on September 3, 1658. Tiles and chimney-pots are flying like hail. Trees which had witnessed many a vicissitude in human affairs meet their own great change. The spire of Whepstead Church comes down with a frightful crash, and in this turmoil of things material the iron spirit of Oliver Cromwell passes away. Public-house signs bearing the figure of a man defying the laws of gravitation by tumbling off the world, and designated Tumble-down Dick, still mark the derision which was excited by the collapse of Richard Cromwell. Meanwhile, the friends of Charles II. were actively, though secretly, working for him; and in Henham Hall the following letter to John Rous, shortly afterwards created a Baronet, attests the gratitude of the exiled prince :
Breda, 27 April, 1660
It is no newes to me to heare of your good affection, which I always promised my selfe from your family, yett I was very well pleased with the accounte this bearer brought to me from you, of the activity you have lately vsed for the promoting my interest, in which so many have followed the good example you gave, that I hope I and you and the whole nation shall shortly receave the fruite of it, and that I may give you my thankes in your owne country: in the meane time you may be confident I am, Your affectionate firinde,
Then comes the Restoration. The survivors of the gloomy days of Civil War, and subsequent liberty to do the will of the presiding Major-General, return to the old rectories and vicarages. James Fate comes back to Fressingfield, and Lionel Playters to Uggeshall. The registers show the old scholarly handwriting again, and baptisms, marriages, and burials are recorded as in the pre-Mancestrian days. Our acquaintance Buck of Stradbroke becomes Master of the Temple, and remains an everlasting monument of the benefits of total abstinence. The subscribers to the Solemn League and Covenant, as at Dennington, experience no qualms of conscience in expressing the utmost abhorrence of that famous instrument. Effigies of Oliver Cromwell and Hugh Peters, lists of the regicides, the Westminster Directory, the Covenant, and sundry other miscellaneous articles, were burnt by the hangman in a general infection of joy. Bury and Halesworth are prominent in this outburst of feeling.
Bishop Hall, in piety and pleasant wit inferior to no man of that period, after undergoing the afflictions recommended in his “Hard Measure”, had died in 1656, and the see of Norwich was filled by the learned and moderate Edward Reynolds, who died in 1676, and was buried at Norwich on August 9, with great state. To him succeeded Anthony Sparrow, of liturgical fame.
One institution, which remained till my early days, was certainly encouraged, if not set on foot, by Bishop Sparrow. This was the Bury Wednesday Lecture, largely attended by the families of wealthy farmers and others who went in to Bury market. The printed sheet remains at Hardwick Hall, dated 1685, and was published in the East Anglian 111 by Mr. G. Milner-Gibson-Cullum. The list for the year includes the names of Erasmus Warren, Rector of Worlington, author of “Geologia”; Dr. Battie., of Hitcham; Dr. Trumbull, of Hadleigh; Dr. Bisby, of Melford; Mr. Voyce, of Oakley, of whom Thomas Martin says, “I have his Life written by Mr. Bryars in MS”.; and other beneficed clergymen. It is signed by Thomas Burrough, Mayor; Martin Spensley and Robert Sharpe, Aldermen; Nicholas Clagett and Michael Batt, Ministers, who preached the first and second sermons of the year; and countersigned “Anth. Norw:”
Many have been the opinions as to the operation of the Act of Uniformity of 1662. One thing, however, admits of little dispute – there was no desire to retain the Puritans. The insertion of Bel and the Dragon in the Lectionary is sufficient proof of this, for it is incredible that any admiration should be excited by that graphic Apocryphal story of which we are so happily rid. Of the 2,000 ejected on St. Bartholomew’s Day, about an average number seem to have belonged to Suffolk, and their cases are involved in much obscurity.
Where the incumbent expelled by the Long Parliament was alive, he generally took possession of his old place without question. Otherwise, many difficulties would arise about the ordination and nomination of the Parliamentary incumbent, and some of these difficulties. might be insuperable. It seems strange that any additional complication, even the smallest, should have been introduced, much more Bel and the Dragon, etc.
A solution for the conformity problem was found by William Gurnall, M.A., an Emmanuel man, who held the vicarage of Lavenham, author of the treatise, “The Christian in Compleat Armour”. Unable personally to don the abhorred surplice, he had a curate to whom all surplice work was delegated, while his own ministrations were confined to the pulpit and pastoral visiting. It appears from this book 112 that he had no objection to the ring in marriage.
Immediately after the Restoration a new Order of knighthood of the Royal Oak was instituted by Charles II., which soon fell into abeyance. To the ribbon was to be appended a silver medal, with a device of the King in an oak. There were seventeen Suffolk knights of this Order, Charles Stutteville, Esq., of Dalham, by Newmarket; Captain Bennett, Esq.; Sir Edmund Poley, Knight; John Warner, Esq.; Richard Cooke, Esq.; Joseph Brand, Esq. (of Edwardston, Knight); Edmund Sheppard, Esq.; Clement Higham, Esq.; Roger Kedington, Esq.; John Gibbes, Esq.; John Brookes, Esq.; Richard Style, Esq.; William Barker, Esq.; Randal Williams, Esq.; Henry Warner, Esq.; Robert Crane, Esq. Of these, the first and last had estates of £1,500 a year, and the rest £1,000 a year, except Kedington and Gibbes, who had £800, and Style, Barker and Williams, who had £600.
In 1665 our quarrels with the Dutch, mainly on this Occasion about the African and North American colonies, resulted in war. Our fleet blockaded their ports for a while, but the east wind drove it to sea, and the Dutch came out. A battle ensued off the Suffolk coast, sometimes called the battle of Lowestoft, ending in the defeat of the Dutch. In it Lord Muskerry, of the Deane family, was killed. The Duke of York, a young man of thirty two, nominally commanded. In the course of the next few years he avowed himself a Roman Catholic, and the alliance with France was carried out. It was determined to pick a quarrel with the Dutch, and the withdrawal of Sir William Temple from the Hague afforded a slender opportunity. But the instructions given to the captain of the yacht sent to bring Lady Temple home, offensive as they were, were frustrated by the conciliatory attitude of the Dutch Admiral. After diplomatic iniquity in 1671, and naval violence early in 1672, England declared war, alleging injuries to the Indian Company, disavowed by the company; detention in Surinam of some Englishmen, who declared that they remained of their own accord; the yacht affair; and lastly the existence of a portrait of Cornelius de Wit, at Dort, with burning ships in the background, which were construed to glorify the Dutch in the Medway. The battle of “Sowle” (the common abbreviation of Southwold) Bay, the roar of which was heard throughout the county, took place on May 28 and following days. Cannon-balls are sometimes dredged up off this part of the coast, which probably were fired in the heat of this engagement; and the Red Lion at Martlesham is a figure-head of one of the ships engaged113.
The reaction came, and the hatred of the nation was turned against Rome and France. To judge from the names of the Suffolk knights and burgesses of the Caroline Parliaments, there was rather a change in the opinions than in the personality of the men returned. Indeed, we find a prominent Suffolk man, Archbishop Sancroft, in 1681, requiring from his suffragans a “wholesome seueritie” against Popish recusants, which would have had the effect of driving out of the kingdom that same Prince for whose cause eight years later the Archbishop was content to depart from Lambeth and end his days in Fressingfield. So hard is it to be consistent!
The death of Archbishop Sheldon in 1677 had taken him by a bound from the deanery of St. Paul’s to the Primacy. He was regarded as a quiet, studious man who would not trouble himself to resist Court abuses, but the detail of his life shows that he had been quite misread. Resistance to Rome was as active a principle in him as resistance to the Covenant. Grave and decorous, a bachelor without a family to keep, and blessed with private means, he remembered Emmanuel, the college of his education, and Fressingfield, his native village, both in life and death. When the Court tried to force the disreputable Leopold Finch into a Fellowship at All Souls’, the Archbishop, as visitor, backed up the college in its opposition, and frustrated the attempt. When the laws and liberties of England were in jeopardy through the illegal Declaration of Indulgence, he headed six of his suffragans in disobedience to the mandate of James II. His connection with the county, however, after the days of his youth is chiefly as a Nonjuror. Euston, once the home of a branch of the Rookwoods, passed to Henry Fitzroy, a natural son of Charles II., by his marriage with Isabella, only child of Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, who had purchased the Hall. He was created in 1672 Baron. of Sudbury, Viscount Ipswich, and Earl of Euston, and three years afterwards Duke of Grafton. Of all Charles’s children he bore the best-regarded name, for whatever his principles or absence of them might have been, there was no question of his courage. He had served in the navy, and had the plain, blunt bearing which marks the sailor’s calling. Of this he gave proof when James II twitted him for his conduct at the Revolution. The Court was all agitation after the landing of William of Orange. Nineteen peers who had signed a petition to the King to call a Parliament brought the petition into his presence. Grafton’s signature stood next to Sancroft’s. James turned on his nephew, asking him how he dared to pretend to have a conscience. Burnet records that he answered that, though he had little conscience, yet he was of a party that had conscience. Bluntness does not always mean sincerity, and Grafton’s protestation of devotion, made a day or two before this scene, was followed by desertion directly afterwards. He was killed by a shot at the siege of Cork in 1690.
In 1682 a truly noble lady, who “went with the century”, died at Cockfield Hall in Yoxford – Lady Elizabeth Brooke, a sister of the Lord Culpepper who was among the best counsellors of Charles I. Her funeral sermon was printed, and a copy remains in the library of Sir Ralph Blois, with a collection of aphorisms taken from her own manuscript. No one can read them without being impressed with the high qualities both of intellect and heart possessed by this remarkable woman, who in all vicissitudes retained her calm trust in her Creator, and amidst exasperating discussions remained unruffled in spirit.
From these family notices we pass to a picture of municipal life in Sudbury presented to us in our county Archaeological Proceedings114.
It is April, 1665, and Mr. John Catesby, the Mayor, the favourer of certain Dissenters who meet in a barn, is about to resign his office. He is robed in scarlet, and the twenty-four burgesses appear in their murrey gowns. After proclamation made, the two serjeants, ceremoniously kissing their maces, deliver them to the Mayor, who repeats the kiss. The Steward then asks the Mayor, having thanked him for his services in the past year, whether he will surrender the maces to the newly-elected Mayor. The old Mayor solemnly answers “Yea”, and delivers the maces, to the Steward, who again kisses them. The new Mayor is then sworn in and takes his seat. Then the petty officers are sworn, amongst whom, not the least important, are the overseers of the poultry market, flesh market, and fish market. Those of the flesh market are to see that butchers do not “sell rotten mutton, measled pork, morryn flesh, or unwholesome meate of any sorte. They are to p’sent all such p’sons as shall kill, or allow to be killed, or offer to selle any bull’s flesh which hath not before been well and sufficiently bayted accordynge to the aunciente orders, decrees, and customs of this Kingdom”. The Hayward, or Hogwarden, and the freemen depasturing cattle on the common lands having been sworn, the court is closed in ancient form; and amongst other improving occupations for the people in the afternoon is the baiting of the bull, for the improvement of his flesh, in spite of the worshippers in the barn, of whom Macaulay rather cruelly said that they objected to bull-baiting, not because it gave the bull pain, but because it gave the spectators pleasure.
- Lecture delivered at All Hallows, Barking, on Laud’s position in the history of the Church of England, January 10, 1895.
- Ferguson’s “Cumberland”, p. 261.
- See my “Church Bells of Suffolk”, p. 119.
- N. S., iii. 188.
- P. 179.
- See Chamber’s “Cyclopaedia”, 1892, art.”Signboards”.
- Vol. viii. 1, etc.