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Notes of a Speech of the LORD CHANCELLOR in the Star-Chamber, in the cause of SIR HENRY YELVERTON, Attorney-General.

SORRY for the person, being a gentleman that I lived with in Gray's-Inn; served with him when I was attorney; joined with him in many services, and one, that ever gave me more attributes in public than I deserved; and, besides, a man of very good parts, which with me is friendship at first sight; much more joined with so ancient an acquaintance. But, as a judge, I hold the offence very great, and that without pressing measure; upon which I will only make a few observations, and so leave it.

1. First I observe the danger and consequence of the offence: for if it be suffered, that the learned council shall practise the art of multiplication upon their warrants, the crown will be destroyed in small time. The great seal, the privy seal, signet, are solemn things; but they follow the king's hand. It is the bill drawn by the learned council and the docquet, that leads the king's hand.

2. Next I note the nature of the defence. As first, that it was error in judgment: for this surely, if the offence were small, though clear or great, but doubtful, I should hardly sentence it. For it is hard to draw a straight line by steadiness of hand; but it could not be the swerving of the hand. And herein I note the wisdom of the law of England, which termeth the highest contempts and excesses of authority, misprisions; which if you take the sound and derivation of the words, is but mistaken: but if you take the use and acceptation of the word, it is high and heinous contempts and usurpations of authority; whereof the reason I take to be, and the name excellently imposed; for that main mistaking, it is ever joined with contempt; for he, that reveres, will not easily mistake; but he, that slights, and thinks more of the greatness of his place than of the duty of his place, will soon commit misprisions.


Star-chamber, October 24, 1620.

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till the king's pleasure is known. my opinion then declared plain enough; but put to votes, and ruled by the major part, though some concurred with me.

I do not like of this course, in respect that it puts the king in a strait; for either the note of severity must rest upon his Majesty, if he go on; or the thanks of clemency is in some part taken away, if his Majesty go not on.

I have cor unum et via una; and therefore did my part as a judge and the king's chancellor. What is farther to be done, I will advise the king faithfully, when I see his Majesty and your lordship. But before I give advice, I must ask a question first. God ever preserve and prosper you.

Your lordship's most obliged friend and faith-
ful servant,

October 28, 1620.



YESTERNIGHT we made an end of Sir Henry Yelverton's cause. I have almost killed myself with sitting almost eight hours. But I was resolved to sit it through. He is sentenced to imprisonment in the Tower during the king's pleasure. The fine of 4000l. and discharge of his place, by way of opinion of the court, referring it to the king's pleasure. How I stirred the court, I leave it to others to speak; but things passed to his Majesty's great honour. I would not for any thing but he had made his defence; for many chief points of the charge were deeper printed by the defence. But yet I like it not in him; the less because he retained Holt, who is ever retained but to play the fool. God ever prosper you.

Your lordship's most obliged friend and faithful servant,

Notes upon Mr.

Attorney's cause.

11 Nov. 1620.




It may be, your lordship will expect to hear from me what passed yesterday in the star-chamber, touching Yelverton's cause, though we desired secretary Calvert to acquaint his Majesty therewith.

To make short, at the motion of the attorney, in person at the bar, and at the motion of my lord steward in court, the day of proceeding is deferred

He was prosecuted in the star-chamber, for having passed certain clauses in a charter, lately granted to the city of London, not agreeable to his Majesty's warrant, and derogatory to his honour. But the chief reason of the severity against him was thought to be the marquis of Buckingham's resentment against him, for having opposed, according to the duty of his office, some oppressive, if not illegal, patents, which the projectors of those times were busy in preparing.

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think, that your Majesty mày by law, and without | patents, which we have represented to his Majesty, inconvenience, appoint an officer, that shall have the as like to be stirred in by the lower house of parengrossing of the transcripts of all wills to be sealed | liament, we have set down three, which may conwith the seal of either of the prerogative-courts, cern some of your lordship's special friends, which which shall be proved in communi forma; and like- I account as mine own friends; and so showed wise of all inventories, to be exhibited in the same myself, when they were in suit. The one, that to courts. Sir Giles Mompesson, touching the inns; the second to Mr. Christopher Villiers and Mr. Maule, touching the recognizances for ale-houses; the third, to Mr. Lieutenant of the Tower, touching the cask. These in duty could not be omitted, for that specially the two first of them are more rumoured, both by the vulgar and by the gentlemen, yea, and by the judges themselves, than any other patents at this day. Therefore I thought it appertained to the singular love and affection, which I bear you upon so many obligations, to wish and advise, that your lordship, whom God hath made in all things so fit to be beloved, would put off the envy of these things, which I think in themselves bear no great fruit; and rather take the thanks for ceasing them, than the note for maintaining them. But howsoever let me know your mind, and your lordship shall find I will go your way.

We see it necessary, that all wills, which are not judicially controverted, be engrossed before the probate. Yet as the law now stands, no officer of those courts can lawfully take any fee or reward for engrossing the said wills and inventories, the statute of the 21st of king Henry VIIIth restraining them. Wherefore we hold it much more convenient, that it should be done by a lawful officer, to be appointed by your Majesty, than in a cause not warrantable by law. Yet our humble opinion and advice is, that good consideration be had in passing this book, as well touching a moderate proportion of fees to be allowed for the pains and travel of the officer, as for the expedition of the suitor, in such sort that, the subject may find himself in better case than he is now, and not in worse.

But however we conceive this may be convenient in the two courts of prerogative, where there is much business, yet in the ordinary course of the bishops diocesans, we hold the same will be inconvenient, in regard of the small employment.

Your Majesty's most faithful and obedient

November 15, 1620.


AFTER my very hearty commendations, I have
acquainted his Majesty with your letter, who com-
manded me to tell you, that he had been thinking
upon the same point, whereof you write, three or
four days ago, being so far from making any ques-
tion of it, that he every day expected when a writ❘
should come down. For at the creation of prince
Henry, the lords of the council and judges assured
his Majesty of as much, as the precedents, mention-
ed in your letter, speak of. And so I rest

Your lordship's very loving friend at command,
Newmarket, the 24th of Novemb. 1620.


Showing his Majesty is satisfied with precedents, touching the prince's summons to parliament.


YOUR lordship may find that in the number of

Lord chief justice of the king's bench, who, on the 3d of December following, was advanced to the post of high treasurer.


I cannot express, how much comfort I take in the choice his Majesty hath made of my lord chief justice to be lord treasurer; not for his sake, nor for my sake, but for the king's sake; hoping, that now a number of counsels, which I have given for the establishment of his Majesty's estate, and have lain dead and deeper than this snow, may now spring up and bear fruit; the rather, for that I persuade myself, he and I shall run one way. And yet I know well, that in this doubling world cor unum et via una is rare in one man, but more rare between two. And therefore, if it please his Majesty, according to his prudent custom in such cases, to cast out, now at his coming down, some words, which may the better knit us in conjunction to do him service, I suppose it will be to no idle purpose.

And as an old truant in the commission of the treasury, let me put his Majesty in remembrance of three things now upon his entrance, which he is presently to go in hand with the first, to make Ireland to bear the charge thereof; the second, to bring all accounts to one purse in the exchequer; the third, by all possible means to endeavour the taking off of the anticipations. There be a thousand things more; but these being his Majesty's last commands to the commissioners of the treasury, with such as in his Majesty's princely judgment shall occur, will do well to season his place.

Your lordship's most obliged friend and faithful servant,

November 29, 1620.


As soon as I had written this letter, I received your lordship's letter, touching my lord chief justice, which redoubled my comfort, to see how his Majesty's thoughts and mine, his poor servant's, and your lordship's meet.

+ Harl. MSS. Vol. 7000.

I send enclosed names for the speaker; and if his Majesty, or your lordship, demand our opinion, which of them, my lord chief justice will tell you. It were well it were despatched; for else I will not dine with the speaker; for his drink will not be laid in time enough.

I beseech your lordship, care may be taken, that our general letter may be kept secret, whereof my lord chief justice will tell you the reason.


IT MAY PLEASE YOUR MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY, ACCORDING to your commandment, we have heard once more the proctors of the prerogative-court, what they could say; and find no reason to alter, in any part, our former certificate. Thus much withal we think fit to note to your Majesty, that our former certificate, which we now ratify, is principally grounded upon a point in law, upon the statute of 21 Henry VIII. wherein we the chancellor and treasurer, for our own opinions, do conceive the law is clear; and your solicitor-general concurs.

Now whether your Majesty will be pleased to rest in our opinions, and so to pass the patents; or give us leave to assist ourselves with the opinion of some principal judges now in town, whereby the law may be the better resolved, to avoid farther question hereafter; we leave it to your Majesty's royal pleasure. This we represent the rather, because we discern such a confidence in the proctors, and those upon whom they depend, as, it is not unlike, they will bring it to a legal question.

And so we humbly kiss your Majesty's hands, praying for your preservation.

Your Majesty's most humble and obedient



York-house, December 12, 1620.



OUR VERY Good lord,

Ir may please his Majesty to call to mind, that when we gave his Majesty our last account of parliament business in his presence, we went over the grievances of the last parliament in 7mo,‡ with our opinion by way of probable conjecture, which of them are likely to fall off, and which may perchance stick and be renewed. And we did also then acquaint his Majesty, that we thought it no less fit

* Sir Thomas Coventry, who was made attorney-general, Jan. 14, 1620-1.

+ Sir Henry Montagu of the king's bench, and Sir Henry Hobart of the common pleas.

to take into consideration grievances of like nature, which have sprung up since the said last session, which are the more like to be called upon, by how much they are the more fresh, signifying withal, that they were of two kinds; some proclamations and commissions, and many patents; which nevertheless, we did not trouble his Majesty withal in particular: partly, for that we were not then fully prepared, as being a work of some length, and partly, for that we then desired and obtained leave of his Majesty to communicate them with the council-table. But now since I, the chancellor, received his Majesty's pleasure by secretary Calvert, that we should first present them to his Majesty with some advice thereupon provisionally, and as we are capable, and thereupon know his Majesty's pleasure before they be brought to the table, which is the work of this despatch.

And hereupon his Majesty may be likewise pleased to call to mind, that we then said, and do now also humbly make remonstrance to his Majesty, that in this we do not so much express the sense of our own minds or judgments upon the particulars, as we do personate the lower house, and cast with ourselves what is like to be stirred there. And therefore if there be any thing, either in respect of the matter or the persons, that stands not so well with his Majesty's good liking, that his Majesty would be graciously pleased not to impute it unto us; and withal to consider, that it is to this good end, that his Majesty may either remove such of them, as in his own princely judgment, or with the advice of his council, he shall think fit to be removed; or be the better provided to carry through such of them, as he shall think fit to be maintained, in case they should be moved; and so the less surprised.

First, therefore, to begin with the patents, we find three sorts of patents, and those somewhat frequent, since the session of 7mo, which in genere we conceive may be most subject to exception of grievance; patents of old debts, patents of concealments, and patents of monopolies, and forfeitures for dispensations of penal laws, together with some other particulars, which fall not so properly under any one head.

In these three heads, we do humbly advise several courses to be taken for the first two, of old debts and concealments, for that they are in a sort legal, though there may be found out some point in law to overthrow them; yet it would be a long business by course of law, and a matter unusual by act of council, to call them in. But that, that moves us chiefly to avoid the questioning them at the council-table, is, because if they shall be taken away by the king's act, it may let in upon him a flood of suitors for recompence; whereas, if they be taken away at the suit of the parliament, and a law thereupon made, it frees the king, and leaves him to give recompence only where he shall be pleased to intend grace. Wherefore we conceive

That which began February 9, 1609; and was prorogued July 23, 1610.

the most convenient way will be, if some grave and discreet gentleman of the country, such as have lost relation to the court, make, at fit times, some modest motion touching the same; and that his Majesty would be graciously pleased to permit some law to pass, for the time past only, no ways touching his Majesty's regal power, to free the subjects from the same; and so his Majesty, after due consultation, to give way unto it.

For the third, we do humbly advise, that such of them, as his Majesty shall give way to have called in, may be questioned before the council-table, either as granted contrary to his Majesty's book of bounty, or found since to have been abused in the execution, or otherwise by experience discovered to be burdensome to the country. But herein we shall add this farther humble advice, that it be not done as matter of preparation to a parliament; but that occasion be taken, partly upon revising of the book of bounty, and partly upon the fresh examples in Sir Henry Yelverton's case of abuse and surreption in obtaining of patents; and likewise, that it be but a continuance in conformity of the council's former diligence and vigilancy, which hath already stayed and revoked divers patents of like nature, whereof we are ready to show the examples. Thus, we conceive, his Majesty shall keep his greatness, and somewhat shall be done in parliament, and somewhat out of parliament, as the nature of the subject and business require.

We have sent his Majesty herewith a schedule of the particulars of these three kinds; wherein, for the first two, we have set down all that we could at this time discover: but in the latter, we have chosen out but some, that are most in speech, and do most tend, either to the vexation of the common people, or the discountenancing of our gentlemen and justices, the one being the original, the other the representative of the commons.

There being many more of like nature, but not of like weight, nor so much rumoured, which, to take away now in a blaze, will give more scandal, that such things were granted, than thanks, that they be now revoked.

And because all things may appear to his Majesty in the true light, we have set down, as well the suitors as the grants, and not only those in whose names the patents were taken, but those whom they concern, as far as comes to our knowledge.

For proclamations and commissions, they are tender things; and we are willing to meddle with them sparingly. For as for such as do but wait upon patents, wherein his Majesty, as we conceived, gave some approbation to have them taken away, it is better they fall away, by taking away the patent itself, than otherwise; for a proclamation cannot be revoked but by proclamation, which we avoid.

For those commonwealth bills, which his Majesty approved to be put in readiness, and some other things, there will be time enough hereafter to give his Majesty account, and amongst them, of the extent of his Majesty's pardon, which, if his subjects do their part, as we hope they will, we do wish Sir Thomas Coventry.

Harl. MSS. Vol. 7000.

may be more liberal than of later times, a pardon being the ancient remuneration in parliament.

Thus hoping his Majesty, out of his gracious and accustomed benignity, will accept of our faithful endeavours, and supply the rest by his own princely wisdom and direction; and also humbly praying his Majesty, that when he hath himself considered of our humble propositions, he will give us leave to impart them all, or as much as he shall think fit, to the lords of his council, for the better strength of his service, we conclude with our prayers for his Majesty's happy preservation, and always rest, &c. Indorsed,

The lord chancellor and the two chief justices to the king, concerning parliament business.




His Majesty is pleased, according to your lordships' certificate, to rely upon your judgments, and hath made choice of Sir Robert Lloyd, knight, to be patentee and master of the office of engrossing the transcripts of all wills and inventories in the prerogative-courts, during his highness's pleasure, and to be accountable unto his Majesty for such profits as shall arise out of the same office. his Majesty's farther pleasure is, that your lordship forthwith proportion and set down, as well a reasonable rate of fees for the subject to pay for engrossing the said transcripts, as also such fees, as your lordship shall conceive fit to be allowed to the said patentee for the charge of clerks and ministers for execution of the said office. And to this effect his Majesty hath commanded me to signify his pleasure to his solicitor-general† to prepare a book for his Majesty's signature. And so I bid your lordship heartily well to fare, and remain

Your lordship's very loving friend,

Royston, December 17, 1620.


I WAS so full of cold, as I could not attend his Majesty to-day. Yesterday I despatched the proclamation with the council. There was a motion to have sharpened it; but better none, than over sharp at first. I moved the council also for supplying the committee for drawing of bills and some other matters, in regard of my lord Hobart's sickness, who, I think, will hardly escape; which, though it be happiness for him, yet it is loss for us.

Meanwhile, as I propounded to the king, which Lord chief justice of the common-pleas.


he allowed well, I have broken the main of the parliament into questions and parts, which I send. may be, it is an over-diligence; but still methinks there is a middle thing between art and chance: I think they call it providence, or some such thing, which good servants owe to their sovereign, especially in cases of importance and straits of occasions. And those huffing elections, and general licence of speech, ought to make us the better provided. The way will be, if his Majesty will be pleased to peruse these questions advisedly, and give me leave to wait on him; and then refer it to some few of the council, a little to advise upon it. I ever rest

Your lordship's most obliged friend and faithful

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His Majesty hath commanded me to signify his pleasure unto you, that you give present order to the clerk of the crown to draw a bill to be signed by his Majesty for Robert Heath, late recorder of London, to be his Majesty's solicitor-general. So I rest Your lordship's faithful friend and servant, G. BUCKINGHAM.

Theobald's, 20th of January, 1620.



His Majesty hath commanded me to signify his pleasure unto your lordship, that Sir Thomas Coventry, now his solicitor-general, be forthwith made his attorney-general; and that your lordship give order to the clerk of the crown to draw up a grant of the said place unto him accordingly. And so I rest Your lordship's faithful friend and servant, G. BUCKINGHAM.

Whitehall, 9th of January, 1620.


I HAVE been entreated to recommend unto your lordship the distressed case of the lady Martin, widow of Sir Richard Martin, deceased, who hath a cause to be heard before your lordship, in the chancery, at your first sitting in the next term, between her and one Archer, and others, upon an ancient statute, due long since unto her husband; which cause, I am informed, hath received three verdicts for her in the common law, a decree in the exchequer chamber, and a dismission before your lordship: which I was the more willing to do, because I have seen a letter of his Majesty to the said Sir Richard Martin, acknowledging the good service that he did him in this kingdom, at the time of his Majesty's being in Scotland. And therefore I desire your lordship, that you would give her a full and fair hearing of her cause, and a speedy despatch thereof, her poverty being such, that having nothing to live on but her husband's debts, if her suit long depend, she shall be enforced to lose her cause for want of means to follow it: wherein I acknowledge your lordship's favour, and rest

Your lordship's faithful friend and servant,
Whitehall, the 13th of January, 1620.

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I THANK God I number days, both in thankfulness to him, and in warning to myself. I should likewise number your Majesty's benefits, which, as, to take them in all kinds, they are without number; so even in this kind of steps and degrees of advancement, they are in greater number, than scarcely any other of your subjects can say. For this is now the eighth time that your Majesty hath raised me.

You formed me of the learned council extraordinary, without patent or fee, a kind of individuum vagum. You established me, and brought me into ordinary. Soon after you placed me solicitor, where I served seven years. Then your Majesty made me your attorney, or procurator-general; then privy counsellor, while I was attorney; a kind of miracle of your favour, that had not been in many ages; thence keeper of your seal; and, because that was a kind of planet, and not fixed, chancellor: and when your Majesty could raise me no higher, it was your grace to illustrate me with beams of honour, first making me baron Verulam, and now viscount St. Alban. So this is the eighth rise or reach, a diapason in music, even a good number, and accord for a close. And so I may, without superstition, be buried in St. Alban's habit or vestment.

Besides the number, the obligation is increased by three notes or marks: first, that they proceed from such a king; for honours from some kings are but great chancels, or counters, set high; but from your Majesty, they are indeed dignities, by the co-operation of your grace. Secondly, in respect of the continuance of your Majesty's favour, which proceedeth, as the Divine favour, from grace to grace. And, thirdly, these splendours of honour are like your freest patents, absque aliquid inde reddendo. Offices have burden of cares and labours; but honours have no burden but thankfulness, which doth rather raise men's spirits, than accable them, or press them down.

Then I must say, quid retribunam? I have nothing of mine own. That that God hath given me, I shall present unto your Majesty; which is care and diligence, and assiduous endeavour, and that, This seems to have been written by lord St. Albans, just after he was created a viscount by that title, January 27, 1620.

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