Laughton doubts Oxford's involvement

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John Knox Laughton, the great nineteenth-century authority on the Armada who assembled more documentary evidence on the subject than anyone before or since, considered the list of noble warriors which occurs in the literary-historical tradition:

Of these, only three are mentioned in these [=Armada] papers as having joined the fleet: - the Earl of Cumberland, Charles Blount, and Thomas Gerard. Robert Cecill was at Dover, writing to his father, and, on the 30th of July, neither was nor had been on board any of the ships. That Oxford, Burghley's son-in-law, or Thomas Cecill, Burghley's son; that Northumberland, Seymour's first cousin; Robert Carey, Howard's brother-in-law, and Sir Walter Ralegh, a man of high repute and official rank, could be in the fleet and not be once mentioned by Howard, by Robert Cecill, by Seymour, or by any of the correspondents of Burghley and Walsyngham, or by these, would seem incredible if we had not Robert Carey's own statement to the effect that, at the battle of Gravelines, he was on board the E[lizabeth] Bonaventure. It must therefore be admitted as possible that the others were also in the fleet, though - without corroborative testimony, it remains extremely improbable. That Ralegh had a command in the fleet and "led a squadron as rear-admiral" is virtually contradicted by the evidence now before us.

From John Knox Laughton (ed.), State Papers Relating to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, 2 vols. (London: HMSO, 1894), i, lxxvi-lxxvii.

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