Letter and articles, Countess Elizabeth to Cecil, re Henry, 22 July 1611

Letter: PRO SP14/65, ff. 76-7
Articles: PRO SP14/65, ff. 78-9

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Letter: PRO SP14/65, ff. 76-7

Addressed: To the right ho{nora}ble my very good Lord the Earle of Salisbury lord highe Treasourer of England and the Earle of Northampton lord privie seale

Endorsed: 22o Iulij 1611 / Countesse of Oxenford to my Lo{rd} and Lord Priuy Seall / Concerning hir Sonn

My very good Lords, the apparant danger of my sonnes ruyne (not to be prevented without present remedy) enforceth me (with noe little greife) once againe to craue your Lordshipps helpe. Being bold to commend my suit to you both ioyntly, for that eyther of ^\\you// are interessed in him, one as M{aste}r of his Ma{ies}ties wardes (whereof he is one) the other by a neare coniunction in bloode: and both of you, as you are principall councellors of State, and he a yong nobleman, neyther of yeares, nor iudgment to advise himselfe, wanting the guidance of a father, and past the gouernment of a mother.

About a yeare since, I acquainted your Lo{rdshi}ps with some courses, dangerous, and dishonorable to him, whereinto he had then bene misled by one Hunt a man of noe worth, but extreamely needy, and beggerly in his estate, and noe lesse dissolute and prodygall in his life.

Wherevppon you then vouchsafed me your ho{nora}ble assistance, which for the present tooke such good effect, as gaue me much hope, that neyther Hunt durst euer after wards haue presumed to seduce him, nor my sonne haue yeelded to be drawne by him into the like errors.

But shortely after Hunt agayne attempted by vnderhand messages, and letters to sollicitt my sonne to with drawe himselfe from my government, and to returne to his former courses. pretending to my sonne fayre shewes of liberty, delights, and pleasures (the ordinary baytes for his mis-iudgeing yeares) but intending meerely to compasse to himselfe the absolute commaund, and disposall [being] both of my sonnes person, and estate, as may euidently appeare to your Lo{rdshi}ps by the pervsall of the perticulers in this inclosed paper, which i humbly present vnto you. for euer since (hauing noe mennes [=means], or estate of his owne) he hath liued at a very highe proporcion, more suteable to the estate, and degree of a noble man, then to the meanes, or estate of his father, or himselfe

And least my interest in my sonne should (eyther in respecte of his duty to me, or of my loue to him) crosse those his intended purposes, this Hunt hath plotted first to cause my sonne to neglect me, and my directions, afterwardes to distast, and contemne them, and now at length openly to oppose himselfe agaynste me, which he hath effected by continuall suggestions, that ^\\it// is dishonorable for him at these yeares to be guided by me, that it is fitt he shoulde haue the absolute commaund and disposing of all his owne maintenance without my oversight, that I [.] am a miserable, and vnkinde mother to him, affording him nothing of mine, but reseruing yearely a good part of his proper maintenance to my owne vse.

Whereas (at your lo{rdshi}ps pleasure) i am ready to make it appeare vnto you, that (euer since he was put to the prince, which is nowe about eight yeares) I haue yearely disbursed (besides all his) a greate parte of myne owne little estate for his maintenance And haue allwaies bene well contented to confine my selfe to a priuate Life, and lowe course of expence, that I might in some smalle mesure repaire the decayed fortunes of his howse. And soe shalbe willing to doe hereafter in whatsoeuer course your Lo{rdshi}ps shall propound, or approue as fitting, and hono{ra}ble for him: soe as he may by your [.] good meanes be reclaimed to order, duty, and honor: and this Caterppiller, and his confederates be by your power, and authority restrayned from any resort, intercourse, or priuate intelligence w{i}th him. for till then i shall neuer hope for, nor expect any comfort from any course, or fortune of his, by trauayle [=travel], mariage, or otherwise: well knowing that all your Lo{rdshi}ps, myne, and all other his freindes endeuours for his good, wilbe wholy frustrated by the crosse, and opposite counsells, and disswations of this lewde seducer. |

And am therefore absolutely resolved, vnlesse I shall presently obteyne the absolute banishment of him, and his confederates from my sonne (whereof my assurance of your ho{nora}ble loue, and respect, vnto him geueth me much hope) fourthw{i}th to rennounce, and disclayme any further chardge, or government of him. As being loth (besydes my dayly private obiectes of greife) to drawe vppon my selfe a generall, and publique imputation, that his ruyne ^\\hath// happened in his nonage, and vnder my chardge and by consequence through my want of care, or respect vnto him. for the world will neuer beleeue (except I make it knowne by a publique renouncing of his further government) but I might with suite vnto his greate, and powerfull allyes, and friends haue easily procured this ivey [=ivy] to be plucked away from this yonge oke, whose grouth is soe much hyndred by it

I therefore humbly beseech your L{ordshi}ps (in the middest of your many seryous, and weighty affayres of the state) to afford soe much tyme for the redeeming of an vnfortunate yong noble orpahn out of extreme, and imminent ruyne, as to convent the sayd Hunt before you, there to answere to such articles as are conteyned in this inclosed paper. and therevppon to inflict vppon him such examplarie punishment, as to your Lo{rdshi}ps in your wisedomes shall seeme fitt: soe as he, and others of like disposition may be hereafter discouraged from the like attempts. But especially that your lo{rdshi}ps will carefully prouide, that he may be absolutely bannished from my sonnes company, and from all priuate intercourse, and intelligence by sending, or writing to him.

Lastly i beseech your L{ordshi}ps to make my sonne fully, and playnely to knowe his errors, and to afford him your graue, and iudisious [=judicious] advise, whereby (through gods blessing vppon it) he may be w{i}thdrawen out of these dangerous waies, soe much tending to his dishonor, and vtter overthroughe [=overthrow]. hopeing that when ripenesse of yeares shall discouer to him the true differences betweene good and euill, he will thankfully acknowledge your honorable care herein vouchsafed to him.

In the meane tyme, my selfe for this, and sundry other your honorable favours shall nowe, and ever rest exceedingly bound vnto your Lo{rdshi}ps. And thus crauing pardon for this my boldenesse I humbly take my leaue ffrom my howse in Channon rowe. this 22th of Iuly 1611.

Your Lo{rdshi}ps assured freind

(signed) Eliza: Oxenford

Articles: PRO SP14/65, ff. 78-9

Articles preferred by the Lady Elizabeth Countesse dowager of Oxenford agaynst Iohn Hunt for misleading and corrupting the Earle her sonne and for praying vppon his estate

About this tyme two yeares Hunt (vnder pretence of kynredd) first insinuated himselfe into my sonnes acquaintaunce: who till then (both in his attendance on the prince and exercises of learning at his appointed tymes) had alwayes geven me good satisfaction. Hunt shortly after his first acquaintaunce w{i}th him would ofte intrude himselfe into my sonnes Chamber at his appointed tymes for learning, and soe [wth] withdrawe him from his booke. whereof being advertised, I caused my dislike thereof to be made knowne vnto him, requiring him to forbeare the same. But ^\\not// prevayling, and being certeinly informed of his loose, and dissolute disposicion (w{hi}ch could not chuse but make his company very dangerous to my sonne) I did cause him directly to be forbidden both my house, and my sonnes company. Yett would he not cease to resort vnto him sometymes openly, sometymes priuily (taking opportunityes by lurking secretly about my house) to haue accesse vnto him

In Lent after I sending my sonne from Heningham to London to attend the prince, Hunt imediatly after his departure from me mett with him, accompanyed him to Chensford, procured him greyhounds, and drew him to course in the fforest of Waltham, as he hath ofte done since in his company. whereby his Ma{ies}tie hath bene much offended, and my sonnes right, and interest in the saide fforrest much preiudiced.

By these, and other lyke seducements, my sonne (contrary to my direction and knowledge) was kept a good space from repayring to the prince. And being come thither was presently w{i}thdrawne from thence by Hunt to taverns, ordinaryes, playes, and other places, exercises, and companyes, much to his dishonor and quite contrary to all his former breeding. but agreable in all respects w{i}th Hunt. his former, and continuall practise, and course of lyfe. My sonne thus misled, hath in effect euer since neglected his attendance on the prince, delighting wholy in such companyes, exercises, and places as aforesaide, wherein Hunt hath euer bene an vndividuable companyon with him.

He hath from the very first of his acquaintance w{i}th my sonne, laboured by continuall vse of cursing, swearing, filthy and rybaldry talke, and all other leude, and licencious courses to corrupt, and poyson my sonnes tender yeares with the lyke infection.

My sonne wayting on the king in the morning on St. George his day was twelue moneth (according to his place, and duty) was after dynner Drawne away by Hunt who kept him in his company all the day after w{i}th neglect of his [duty] service to the king in the afternoone, by whome he was missed, called, and sent for, but could not be found.

About Midsommer was twelue moneth Hunt privily, & altogether without my knowledge w{i}thdrew my sonne from my house in Cannon Rowe into Essex, where[in] in his company he gott much dishonor by disorderly hunting in diu{er}s p{ar}kes, and other like disorderly, and ryotous actions. Hunt in all that iourney taking vppon him to be my sonnes purse bearer, and to commaund the same at his pleasure.

My sonne being recalled home to me by my Lord Treasuorers ho{nora}ble letter, wherein he expressed a great deale of care, and respect vnto him, and being advysed by my Lord of Northampton to be guided by me, Hunt neu{er} ceased by letters, messengers, and private meetinges to sollicitt and seduce my sonne to the lyke courses. Soe as by his continuall sollicitations (a little before Michaelmasse last) he sodeynly, and w{i}thout my knowledge w{i}thdrew him againe from my house at Henningham to a lodging in Milford Lane, being an ordynary, a greate howse of play, and whose host is the tennis Court keeper there. where he kept him from me till sithence Easter last: the place, company, and exercises exceedingly tending to my sonnes dishonor, and preiudice.

During this last absence of my sonne from me, Hunt hath impudently presumed to be his bedfellow, and otherwyse vsed him most vnrespectiuely. In perticuler Hunt haueing drawne my sonne from his olde shoemaker vnto one of his choyce who asked my sonne 15 shillings for a payre of shoes w{hi}ch his olde shoemaker offered to haue made the like for 4 shillinges and six pence, and therevppon my sonne telling Hunt, that he [.] had persuaded him to 3 cosening knaves, viz. a shoemaker, taylor, and bandseller, Hunt openly replyed, that Lords might lye by authoryty.

Item Hunt (in my sonnes name) hath borrowed, and taken vpp diu{er}s somes of money, wares, and com{m}odityes of sondry persons greatly to my sonnes dishonor: soe as my sonne (sithence his last departure from me) is indebted <(as the>mselves report) 700li or 800li besides 150li of his pensyon w{hi}ch they have procured to be receaved out of the Eschequer. And haue pawned and sold all his apparrell, horses, rapyers, and other thinges he had. All w{hi}ch hath principally beene consumed by Hunt himselfe, who lyveth wholy vppon my sonnes purse, in all shewe, and course of expence lyke a noble man, himselfe neyther having any meanes, or maintenance, nor his father able to afford him any.

Besydes many other base, and vnworthy shifftes they haue made to procure money (w{hi}ch as yett are kept secrett from me) Hunt hath bene a principall instrument to borrowe and morgage iewells of my Lady willoughby his aunt worth 700li or 800li w{hi}ch they pawned for two hundreth poundes, or there abouts. ffor which his pencion in the Eschequer is now assigned to S{i}r Ewstace Hart till 300li be payd him. Hunts host, and hostes sonne in law being the only witnesses to the deede of assignement. | [[verte folium]]

He hath moved, and persuaded my sonne to misinforme the Kinge, that I receaue and dispose his Anuity out of the Eschequer to myne owne vse, and vppon that misinformation to procure his Ma{ies}ties L{ett}res for his owne receaving it. Whereas I haue yearely (for diu{er}s yeres past) disbursed not only that but and all other his owne proper maintenance, but alsoe a greate parte of my owne \\estate// in his education. he hath alsoe of late vsed diu{er}s meanes to procure six hundreth poundes due in Iune now last past out of the low Countreyes for two yeares annuity to be paid vnto my sonne himselfe, and not to me. The end of all w{hi}ch Hunts endeuors is to gett the money into his owne handes that soe he may make what pray thereof he pleaseth, and then turne my sonne home empty to me, to be maintained by me out of myne owne estate, as already in parte he hath begonne to doe.

Hunt[s] daily draweth my sonne from my house to his the said Hunts lodging in Milford Lane at the ordinary aforesaid: where he causeth him to spende all his tyme w{i}th him in play, and other lyke exercises, soe as my sonne for 14 nightes together now last past hath not come home vntill twelue, one, two, or three of the Clock at night. At w{hi}ch houres I am driven (night after night) to be disquieted for the keys to lett him into my house. Soe as eu{er}ie day (by this Hunts allurement) my sonnes courses growe more, and more exorbitant.

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