Memorials of the Tower of London

De Ros, William Lennox





THE day after Sir Thomas Wyatt broke out into open rebellion, Sir Richard Southwell, Sir Edward Hastings, and Sir Thomas Cornwallis, were despatched to the house of the Princess Elizabeth, at Ashridge, in Hertfordshire, with a guard of two hundred and fifty horse, to bring her a prisoner to London; and the manner in which these gentlemen executed their commission, reflects but little honour on their names. Elizabeth was at the time confined by severe illness, and, notwithstanding that the messengers did not arrive at Ashridge till ten o'clock at night, they immediately sent her word, that they were bearers of a message from the Queen, and forced their way straight to her bedroom, a rudeness at which her high spirit revolted. Although worn down by sickness, her manner of receiving them marked her indignation at their conduct. She expressed surprise that they should, unbidden, have intruded themselves there at such an hour of the night; inquiring, "Is the haste such, that you could not have waited till the morning ?" But their answer was, that they came to do their duty, by orders of the Queen, whose pleasure it was that


she should repair with them without delay to London, adding, that "They must take her with them whether quick or dead." Nor could her own remonstrances, or the entreaties of her household, prevail upon them to have any consideration for her state of health. She was strictly guarded that night, and on the following morning, at nine o'clock, was placed in a litter, and compelled to commence her journey towards London; yet, so serious was her illness, that they could proceed no farther than Redburne, where she rested that night. On the following day, they reached St. Albans, where she lay at Sir Ralph Poulet's, and on the next, arrived at " Maister Dodde's house," at South Mymmes, where she remained that night; and thence, on the fourth day, they brought her to Highgate; but her illness was now become so much more dangerous, that it was found necessary on the following morning to delay her further journey, and many messengers in the interim passed to and fro from the Queen and Council, as to the question of her ability to proceed.

During her journey, the people had assembled in crowds upon the road to see her, and Elizabeth had everywhere the gratification of receiving the strongest demonstrations of the interest that was so generally felt in her fate; on the sixth day especially, when she was conveyed from Highgate to London, many gentlemen rode out to meet her, as a mark of their attachment to her person, and multitudes thronged about her litter, "lamenting and bewailing her estate."

Upon Elizabeth's arrival at Whitehall, she was shut up


a close prisoner, under the charge of the Chamberlain and Vice-Chamberlain, without communication with any one for near a fortnight; when, on the Friday before Palm Sunday, the Bishop of Winchester, and nineteen others of the Council, came from the Queen, and charged her with being privy to Wyat's conspiracy, alleging that she had held correspondence with the Carews and other gentlemen in the west; and although she utterly denied these things, and protested her innocence, they informed her that it was her Majesty's will and pleasure that she should go to the Tower, until the matter should be further tried and examined.

At the idea of going to the Tower Elizabeth was struck with dismay; she reiterated the vows of her innocence, and of her truth and loyalty to the Queen; and desired the Lords to intercede with her sister, that, being neither in thought, nor word, nor deed, untrue towards her Majesty, she might not be committed to so notorious and doleful a place. But nothing could avail! The Lords departed, assuring her that there was no remedy, for that it was The Queen's Majesty's determination that to the Tower she should go; and, in an hour afterwards, the Lord Steward and the Earl of Sussex returned with a guard, and, removing all her servants and attendants, substituted a gentleman usher, two grooms of the chamber, and three gentlewomen of The Queen's in their place; "and there were put an hundred of northern soldiers in white coats, watching and warding about the garden all that night; a great fire being made in the midst of the hall, and two Lords watching there also, with their band and company."



On the following morning the Earl of Sussex, and another Lord whose name does not appear, came to inform her, that forthwith she must go to the Tower, and that the tide served, and the barge was in readiness. In great distress, she begged for delay, and implored permission to see or write to The Queen. The unnamed Lord. however, answered sternly, that he durst not permit it. adding, that in his judgment it would rather hurt than profit her in doing so; but Sussex, more courteous and feeling than his companion, kneeled down, and told her Highness, that she should have liberty to write to The Queen her sister, pledging his honour that he would convey her letter, and bring an answer to it; and so for that day her removal was delayed. On the morrow, being Palm Sunday, in order that she might be conveyed to the Iower with more privacy, it was directed throughout the capital, that the people should all repair to church and carry their palms ;" and in the mean time Sussex and the other lord again waited upon her, declaring that she must immediately accompany them to the Tower.

Elizabeth now began to think that every hope had vanished; she declared she marvelled what the nobility of the realm could mean, in suffering her to be thus led to prison; and, desiring the Earl of Sussex and his companion to proceed, she followed them down the garden to the barge. There went with her, besides the guards, the two Lords, three of the Queen's gentlewomen, and three of her own, her gentleman usher, and two grooms of her chamber. In passing London Bridge, owing to the great fall of water at halftide, the whole party narrowly escaped with their lives.


When they came to the Tower, the barge was steered to that dismal entrance, known by the name of the Traitors' Gate, where Elizabeth would fain have avoided the

degradation of landing, till the unnamed lord resolutely told her, that " she should not choose." It rained, and he offered her his cloak, but, "putting it back with her hand with a good dash," she indignantly refused it, and, as she set her foot upon the steps, said with her wonted spirit, " Here landeth as true a subject, being a prisoner, as ever landed at these stairs, and before Thee, 0 God, I


speak it, having none other friends but Thee !" On her ascending into the fortress, she found the Guards and Warders drawn out in order, at which she expressed surprise; and, on being informed that it was the custom, when prisoners entered, she desired that, if it were so, for her cause they might be dismissed: "whereat the poor men kneeled down, and with one voice prayed God to preserve her; for which, on the next day, they were all discharged '" Passing a little further, she sat down on a stone, and there rested herself. The Lieutenant pressed her to rise out of the rain, but she answered, " Better sit here than in a worse place; for God knoweth whither you will bring me ;" and, turning to her gentleman usher, she rebuked him: "You ought rather to comfort than dismay me," said she, " especially for that I know my truth to be such, that no man shall have cause to weep for my sake."

She then arose and was conducted to her prison; and when the doors were locked, and she was close shut up, the Lords of the Council " had great conference how to keel) ward and watch, every man declaring his opinion in that behalf, agreeing streightly and circumspectly to keep her:" but the Earl of Sussex, who still continued her friend, and was influenced by a nobler soul, said with an oath, " My lords, let us take heed, and do not more than our commission will bear us out in, whatever shall happen hereafter; and, further, let us consider that she is The King's our Master's daughter, and therefore we should use such dealing, that we may answer to it hereafter, if it shall so happen :for just dealing," said he,


"is always answerable." This advice in some degree prevailed, and so the Lords departed.

Of the many prisoners accused of sharing in the insurrection of Wyatt, who were confined at this time in the Tower, some were closely examined, while on others every art was tried, either by the torture of the rack, by hopes of pardon, or promises of reward, to obtain evidence that might have afforded Mary any pretext for wreaking her vengeance on a sister who was so much the object of her jealousy and hatred. Nor were any endeavours neglected to entrap the Princess into criminating herself. She had been but a few days in the Tower, before Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, and many others of the Council, came and examined her, touching a conversation which they charged her with having held at Ashridge, with Sir James Crofts, on the subject of her removal from thence to her castle at Donnington. To which, after a moment's recollection, she answered, " Indeed I do now remember that I have such a place, but I never lay in it in my life; and as for any that may have moved me thereto, I do not remember." Yet, "to enforce the matter," they brought Sir James before her, and Gardiner, who was ever Elizabeth's bitter enemy, demanded what she had to say to that man? She answered that she had little to say to him, or to any others who were then prisoners in the Tower. " But, my Lords," said she, "you do examine every mean prisoner of me, wherein methinks you do me great injury. If they have done evil, and have offended the Queen's majesty, let them answer to it accordingly; and I beseech you, my Lords,


join not me in this sort, with any of these offenders. As concerning my going to Donnington Castle, I do remember that Mr. Hobby and mine officers, and you, Sir James Crofts, had such talk; but what is that to the purpose, my Lords? May I not go to mine own houses at all times ? " To which the Earl of Arundell, kneeling, replied, "Your Grace saith true, and certainly we are sorry that we have so troubled you about such vain matters." " My Lords," said she, " you do sift me very narrowly; but well am I assured you shall not do more to me than God hath appointed, and so God forgive you all."

The Lords were then about to depart, but Sir James Crofts first kneeled down before the Princess, declaring that he was sorry to see the day that he should be brought as a witness against her; "but I assure your Grace," said he, " I have been marvellously tossed, and examined, touching your Highness, which, the Lord knoweth, is very strange to me; for I take God to witness, before all your honours, I do not know anything of that crime which you have laid to my charge, and will thereupon take my death, if I should be driven to so strait a trial."

Elizabeth's confinement in the Tower was of a harsh and severe description; mass was constantly obtruded upon her in her apartment; for a whole month she was shut up, without the liberty of even passing the threshold of her prison; and, afterwards, when she had obtained permission from the Council to take the air in the Queen's garden, she was always attended by the Constable, the Lieutenant, and a guard; indeed,


so rigidly was she watched, that a little boy only four years of age, who was wont to pay affectionate visits to her and other prisoners, and to bring them flowers, was suspected of being employed as a messenger between her and the Earl of Devonshire; and his father, an inferior officer in the fortress, was charged by the Constable and Lieutenant, to prevent his little son from repeating his visits to the prisoners. They strictly examined the child, and, with promises of figs and apples, endeavoured to extract some ground for accusation. After questioning the little fellow when he had been last with Lady Elizabeth and the Earl of Devonshire, they asked him what the Earl had sent by him to her Grace ? And notwithstanding the simplicity of the child's reply, " That he would go and know what he would give to carry to her," the Constable, who was also Lord Chamberlain, gravely declared his suspicion that there lurked beneath a plot. "This same is a crafty boy," said he; "how say you, my Lord Chandos ? " " Ay, my Lord," cried the child, "but pray give me the figs you promised me." "No, marry," quoth the suspicious officer, " you shall be whipped if you come any more to the Lady Elizabeth, or to the Lord Courtenay."

A quarrel narrated by Hollingshed between the Constable and the Princess's attendants, about her provisions, gives a fair instance of the manner in which prisoners, even of her high rank, were exposed to the extortion of the chief officers of the Tower in those days.

Sir John Gage, the Constable, had given order that the Princess's servants, when they brought her dinner to


the gates, were not to be allowed to enter, but were to deliver it to the hands of the " common rascall souldiers." This the servants objected to, on the ground that much of the victuals might be consumed on the way to her Grace's lodgings; but the only answer they received from the Constable to their remonstrance was, that, " if they presumed either to frown or shrug at him, he would sette them where they should see neither sunne nor moon."

An appeal was then made to the Lords of the Council, who appointed, that fourteen of the Princess's own servants should be admitted to superintend the cooking of her Grace's viands. Though forced to submit, the Constable was ill pleased at this decision. " And good cause why," says Hollingshed, " for he had good cheare and fared of the best, while her Grace paid for it."

Though examined closely from time to time by the Commissioners from the Council, the shrewdness and presence of mind of Elizabeth enabled her to avoid every snare that was laid for her, on these occasions; and Wyatt having to the last persisted, to his honour, in asserting her total ignorance of his schemes, she was eventually released from the Tower on the 19th of May, and conveyed to a less rigid restraint at Woodstock, under the charge of Sir Henry Bedingfield.

It was during her stay at Woodstock, that Elizabeth received great kindness from the family of Sir Thomas Williams, and formed that grateful friendship for one of his daughters, which in after life brought out one of the rare instances where Elizabeth was known to exhibit any true tenderness of affection for one of her own sex.



Miss Williams became the wife of the gallant Sir John Norris, and had four sons by him, who were each of them renowned in the land, or sea service of their country. It was on occasion of the younger of these being killed in battle, that the Queen addressed to Lady Norris that touching letter of condolence quoted by Miss Strickland, beginning " Mine own dear Crow," a familiar nickname given by Elizabeth to this lady in the early days of their Woodstock friendship, on account of the raven black of her long and beautiful hair.

There is a tradition that on the removal of Elizabeth from the Tower some of the City churches rang their bells for her deliverance, and that she afterwards, in token of gratitude, presented them with silk bellropes. On an inquiry made a few years ago, it was ascertained that some silk bell-ropes, of very ancient date, had long been preserved in a chest in the vestry of the church of Aldgate, but no proof of their present existence could be found.

Upon the death of Mary in November, 1558, Parliament being then sitting, the Commons were summoned to the Bar of the House of Lords, and the event of Elizabeth's accession was announced by the Lord Chancellor, Archbishop Heath, to the whole Assembly. It was received with acclamations, such as had probably never before greeted a new Sovereign. The news spread through London, accompanied by every demonstration of joy, and was carried to every part of the kingdom amidst the rejoicings of all classes of the Queen's subjects.



It was at Hatfield that Elizabeth received the intelligence of this great change in her fortunes. As soon as preparation could be made for her reception, she arrived at Lord North's residence in the Charter-house, and after staying there a few days, to give time for suitable arrangements, she moved into the Tower, the scene of her former danger and captivity, and established her Court with all the solemnity and splendour suitable to the great occasion.

In the early part of the month of December, Queen Elizabeth removed from the Tower, by water, to Somerset House, and sojourned there with her Court till after her sister's funeral, when she proceeded to her palace at Westminster, and there celebrated the festival of Christmas.

In the mean time great preparations were being made for the accustomed cavalcade through the city, and for the ceremonies of the Coronation. The day appointed was Sunday, the 15th of January, and on the Thursday preceding she returned by water to the Tower, where she was welcomed by the nobility and great officers of state, who had assembled to receive her. She was " attended by the Mayor and aldermen in their barge, and all the crafts in their barges, decked and trimmed with the targets and banners of their misteries;" and thus, " with great and pleasant melody of instruments, which played in most sweet and heavenly manner," her Majesty passed the bridge about two o'clock, and entered the fortress at the well-remembered Traitors' Gate, under which, but a few years before, she had been landed an oppressed and calumniated prisoner.



The day of her Majesty's procession from the Tower had been prepared for by the citizens with greater pains and expense than was ever before witnessed; and we are expressly told, that the splendid and more than usually magnificent pageantry and decorations which ornamented the streets on that occasion, were entirely accomplished without the aid of any foreign person.

The procession from the Tower began in the afternoon with trumpets and heralds, and we are informed by a contemporary writer that the Queen, previous to her leaving the royal apartments, lifted up her hands towards heaven, and returned most hearty thanks " to the Almighty and ever-living God, that He had been so merciful unto her as to spare her to see that joyful day, acknowledging that He had dealt as mercifully and wonderfully with her, as He did with his true and faithful servant Daniel, the prophet, whom He delivered out of the den, from the cruel and raging lions." Her Majesty was seated in an open chariot sumptuously adorned, and "most honourably accompanied, as well with gentlemen, barons, and other nobility of her realm, as also with a notable train of goodly and beautiful ladies, richly appointed." The streets through which the Queen had to pass were decorated with costly drapery, and lined with the various crafts or companies of the City, " well apparelled with many rich furs, and their livery hoods upon their shoulders;" and before them stood " sundry persons clad in silks and chains of gold." In several parts of the City stages and triumphal arches were erected. The first of these was in Fenchurch Street, where Her Majesty's


progress was arrested by a child in costly apparel, who, on behalf of the City, addressed her with a welcoming oration: the next was a magnificent arch, spanning the street near Gracechurch, and adorned with " goodly pageaunts," representing the union and emblems of the houses of York and Lancaster: a third, in Cornhill, equally magnificent, was denominated "the seate of worthy governaunce;" in which, besides the eight Beatitudes, and other representations suitable to the occasion, were the cardinal Virtues, treading under foot the opposite Vices; among which were Ignorance and Superstition. At the standard in Cheapside, the Recorder, in the name of the City, presented a thousand marks of gold, in a purse of crimson velvet, as a token of their affectionate loyalty to a sovereign "whose prosperity they wished, and whose protection they implored:" there she also received a Bible in English, which was let down to her as if from heaven, by the hand of a child representing Truth; a gift which she accepted with the strongest marks of reverence; declaring that it gave her more real gratification than all the other endearing proofs that she had that day experienced of her people's love.

The last and grandest of all the Pageants was another triumphal arch, on which, represented sitting under a palm-tree, was " a seemly mete personage richly apparelled in parliament robes, with a sceptre in her hand, as a queen," with the superscription, " Deborah, the judge and restorer of the house of Israel." At Temple Bar, the western limit of the City, the two giants, Gogmagog and Corineus, were stationed, with a scroll in Latin verse,


expounding the meaning of all the representations that Her Majesty had previously passed: and there, "with her hearty commendations," she bade the citizens farewell. It was observed of Elizabeth that, by her kind and affable deportment on that day, she gained more on the affections of the people than many other princes had been able to do, by more real and substantial acts of grace and favour.