Memorials of the Tower of London

De Ros, William Lennox






PHILIP HOWARD, Earl of Arundel (called by this, his minor title, on account of the attainder of the Duke of Norfolk, his father), was one of the most unfortunate of men. Queen Elizabeth restored him in blood about 1580, and for a short time he enjoyed her favour, and was among the gayest of the Queen's courtiers; but the Earl of Leicester caused him to be accused of conspiracy, and in 1584 he received an order to confine himself to his own house; his real offence in the Queen's eyes being his reconciliation to the Roman Catholic faith. As no act of treason could be charged against him, he was shortly liberated, but his distrust of the Queen, and the daily severities exercised by her upon those who adhered to the Romish faith, induced him to take steps for flying the country. Before doing so, he, however, resolved to write a full justification of his conduct to the Queen, which was to have been delivered as soon as he should make known to his friends in England that he had reached a place of safety on the Continent. By some mistake or treachery, his letter fell into the hands of Secretary Walsingham, before he had effected his intended


flight, and, being betrayed by his attendant, he was seized, when on the point of embarking on the Sussex coast, and at once thrown into the Tower. Charges, as groundless as the former ones, were now brought against him, and, after a very unfair trial before the Star Chamber, he was fined 10,000L., and sentenced to imprisonment during the Queen's pleasure.

While he lay prisoner in the Tower, the Spanish Armada arrived in the Channel (1588), on which event he had the imprudence (as asserted by his enemies) to express his joy and hopes of freedom, and even to have caused masses to be said for the success of the Spaniards, by a priest who was brought to him in disguise. Fresh charges of high treason were now framed against him, one of which was, an intention of serving under the Prince of Parma, against England; and although he ably defended himself, and proved the falsehood of all the accusations against him, except his adhesion to the Roman Catholic faith, he received sentence of death.

This barbarous condemnation seems, however, to have been only intended as a pretence for his perpetual imprisonment, since it was never carried into execution. After he had been some time in the Tower, he petitioned the Queen that his newly married wife might visit him; or at all events, that he might be allowed the sight of his infant son, born since his imprisonment. Both these favours were cruelly refused by Elizabeth, and he continued to languish in his solitary prison for several years. He sent in, however, a second petition, and it was said that the Queen not only offered to grant it, but to release


him altogether, if he would renounce the Roman Catholic faith. This he had the resolution and constancy to refuse, and died in 1595, worn out with sorrow and the severe exercises of religious penance, to which he latterly devoted himself, in the fortieth year of his age; his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather having perished on the scaffold, by a far more merciful destiny. His name is roughly inscribed over the chimney of the Beauchamp Tower. He was buried in the Tower graveyard, but afterwards removed, in 1624, to Arundel, where, on opening a vault in 1777, his coffin was discovered, with an inscription in Latin, describing his unhappy fate, and adding that it was suspected that his death had been hastened by poison; but of this suspicion there is no historical record; nor was it likely that Elizabeth would thus have taken the life of an almost forgotten prisoner, who, after so many years' seclusion from the world, could by no possibility conspire, or cabal, against either her throne or life, even had it been in his nature to enter into any such designs, whereas there never was a man more unfit or unequal to take a leading part in such affairs--still less is it likely, that his conscience would have allowed him to lend his hand to the murder even of his bitterest enemy.