Libels Part 7: Oxford and the Vavasor Affair

Shortly before 23 March 1581 the unmarried Anne Vavasor, one of the gentlewomen of the queen's bedchamber, was delivered of a son. Oxford, who was known to be the child's father, fled London, but was soon captured and sent to the Tower. His release from the Tower on 8 June 1581 is recorded in a memo dated the next day (APC, xiii, p. 74); he was, however, not set free but placed under house arrest in Greenwich. The letters in this appendix reveal that his full release was being negotiated on 12 July, but was delayed for nearly a week because of a falling out between the earls of Sussex and Leicester. Once Oxford was free he was pursued rentlessly by and himself pursued various male relatives of Anne Vavasor, including both Vavasors and Knyvetts. (The confrontations are enumerated and discussed in detail in Chapter 13). Even after the last of these recorded duels, Thomas Vavasor issued a challenge as late as 19 January 1585 (7.10). The letter of challenge was turned over to Burghley, however, and no further duels are known to have ensued. (Endorsements marked "B" in the following documents are in Burghley's hand.)

7.1 Walsingham to Hastings, from court, 23 March 1581. This letter provides the most detailed account of the birth of Anne Vavasor's and Oxford's child, and their subsequent imprisonment (see also Fugger letter, cited p. 000). The full letter is transcribed in Report on the Manuscripts of the late Reginald Rawdon Hastings, Esq., vol. 2, Historical Manuscripts Commission (London, 1930), pp. 29-30.

Huntington Library HA13066 (bifolium, 310mm x 215mm; triangular piece cut from f. 2 - no text lost)


On twesdaye at nyght Anne Vavysor was browght to bed of a sonne in the maydens chambre.(1) The Earl of Oxeforde is avowed to be the father whoo hathe withdrawen him selfe with intent as yt is thought to passe the seas. The ports are layd for him and therfor yf he have¬ any sooche determynation yt is not lykely yat he wyll escape. | The gentlewoman the selfe same nyght she was delyvered was conveyed owt of the howse & the next daye commytted to the towar Others that have ben fownde any wayes partyes to the cavse have ben also commytted. Her maiestye is greatly greeved with the accydent, and therfor I hope there wyll be some sooche order taken as the lyke inconvenyence wyll be avoyded.

... At the corte the xxiijth(2) of Marche 1580.

Your Lordships to commavnd

(signed) Francis Walsyngham

No address: [seal]

Endorsed: 24/27 Martij 1581(3)

7.2 Walsingham to Burghley, 12 July 1581, from court.

PRO SP12/149[/67], ff. 156-7 (bifolium, 308mm x 215mm)

My verry good Lord I had thowght to have taken some tyme this af<ter>noone to have seen your Lordship [but] and to have acquaynted you with my proceadynge with the Earl of Oxeforde: but by reason[.] of a quarrell favlen owt betwene the Earl of Svssex and the Earl of Leycester which her Maiestye seekethe to take vp in respecte of the inconvenience that may favle owt therbye I am stayed by her Highness commavndement The cavse of the quarrell¬ grewe abowte Haveringe(4) The woordes of reproche that passed betwen them in the privye chambre were verry bytter: but in whom the favlte was yt is verry harde to ivdge for that there was no wytnesses of that which passed betwene them. They are bothe far owt of tvne: and therfor are commavnded bothe to kepe ther chambres vntyll her maiestie take some fvrther order betwene them. I see them bothe so far from any dysposytyon of agreement as I see no | waye to appease them Her maiestye is resolved in case they shall not yelde to stande to her [honor] order¬ to commyt them bothe: which message the Earl of Bedforde and I am commavnded to delyver vnto them bothe from her maiestye As this cavse shall receyve fvrther proceadyng so wyll I not fayle to advertyce your Lordship.

Her maiesty is resolved (vppon some perswatyon vsed) not to restore the Earl of Oxeford to his ^full¬ lybertye before he hathe ben dealt withall for his wyfe.(5) Mr Vycechamberlyn(6) the daye he retvrned from your Lordship dyd verry honorably acquyte him selfe towardes yow ^in that wa<..>¬. And so in hast I most humbly take my leave At the coorte the xijth of Ivlye 1581.

Your Lordships to commavnd

(signed) Francis Walsyngham

Addressed: To the right honorable my very good Lord the Lord treasurer of England [seal]

Endorsed (B): 12 Iulij 1581; Mr secretary Walsyngham; Erl oxford;




7.3 Walsingham to Burghley, 12 July 1581, from court.

PRO SP12/149[/68], ff. 158-9 (bifolium, 305mm x 210mm)

My verry good Lord bothe the Erles after the delyverye of her Maiestys message vnto them and sence [=since, following upon] perswatyon vsed towardes them [they] dyd bothe submyt them selves to sooche order as yt shoold please her Maiestye to take in the cavse betwene them: with request notwithstandynge made by bothe of them that they myght be lycensed to retyre home to ther howses: for that yt coold hardly favle owt in respect of the woordes of reproche that passed betwen them but that of necessyte [ther] ther must favle owt some sooche axstremyte remayning[?] bothe in one place¬ as myght breed the dystvrbavnce of the present quyet of the coorte. Hereof relatyon being made to her maiesty she is not yet resolved what ende this cavse shall take. As thinges shall favle owt, so wyll I not fayle to advertyce your Lordship In the meane tyme I most hvmbly take my leave At the coorte the xijth of Iulye 1581

(sideways in left margin)

Your Lordships to commavnde

(signed) Francis Walsingham

Addressed: To the right honorable my verie good Lord the Lord Thresourer of England. [seal]

Endorsed (B): 12 Iulj 1581; sir francis walsyngham; ye 2




7.4 Oxford to Burghley, about 13 July 1581, from "my house". This letter suggests the defense Oxford was prepared to offer against the charges brought by Howard, Arundel, and Southwell: that they were lying, and had suborned his own servants to testify against him. (Previously printed by Ward, pp. 223-4; and by William Plumer Fowler (ed.), Shakespeare Revealed in Oxford's Letters, Portsmouth, NH, 1986, pp. 283-4.)

BL Lansdowne 33[/6], ff. 12-13 (bifolium, 238mm x 160mm)

My lord, Robine Christmas dyd yester day, tell me, how honorably yow had delt withe her magestie as touchinge my Lybertye, and that as this day she had made promes to yowre lordship that it showld bee. vnles yowre Lordship shall make sume some¬(7) to put her magesty in mynd therof, I feare, in thes other causes of the too [=two] Lords,(8) she will forget me. for she is nothinge of her owne disposition, as I find, so ready to deliuer, as spedie to commit. and every littell trifell, giues her matter for a longe delay. I willed E. Hamond(9) to report vnto yowre Lordship, her magestys message vnto me by mr secretarie Walsingham whiche was to this effect, first that she wowld have hard the matter agayne touchinge Henry Howard, Southwell and Arundell. then that she vnderstood I ment to cut doune all my woods, especially abought my housse; whiche she dyd not so well leke of, as yf I showld sell sume land els other wheare. and last that she hard I had bene hardly vsed by sum of my servants, duringe this time of my committe [=commitment, incarceration]. whearin she promised her ayd so far as she could withe iustice, to redres the loss I had susteyned therby. to whiche I made answear, as I willed Hamond to relat vnto yowre Lordship | further my lord, whearof I am desirous sumthinge to write, I have vnderstood of certeyne of my men(10) hathe resorted vnto yowre lordship, and sought by fals reportes of other of ther fellowes, bothe to abuse yowre lordship and me.(11) but for that this bearer(12) semes most herin to be touched, I have sent him vnto yowre lordship, as is his ernest desire, that yowre lordship myght so know him, as yowre evill opinion, being conceyved amis [=amiss] by thes lewd fellowes may be removed. and truly my lord, I heare of those thinges wherwithe he is charged, and I can assure yow [.] wrongfully and slaunderously. but the world is so conninge, as of a shadow they can make a substance, and of a leklihode a trothe. and thes fellowes, yf they be those, whiche I suppos, I do not dought but so to decyfer them to the world, as easly yowre lordship shall loke into ther lewdnes and vnfaythfulnes. whiche tyll my liberte I mean to defer, as more mindfull of that importinge me most at this time, then yet sekinge to revenge my self of suche peruers and impodent [=impudent] dealinge of servants. whiche I know have not wanted incoragment and | settinge on. but lettinge thes thinges pas for a whyle, I must not forget to giue yowre lordship those thankes, whiche ar due to yow, for this yowre honorable dealinge to her magesty in my behalf. which I hope shall not be wythought effect. the whiche attendinge from the court, I will take my leaue of yowre lordship, and rest at yowre Commandment, at my howse this morning

Yowre lordships assured

(signed) Edward Oxenford (sec f; 4+8)

Addressed: For my lord Thresorer [seal]

Endorsed (B): Iulij 1581 Erl. of oxford thanks

Second endorsement: Thanks his lordship for obtaining ye promise of¬ his Liberty of ye Queen: entreating him to remember ye Queen of him. The Quenes message to him to Walsingham

7.5 Burghley to Walsingham, 13 July 1581.

BL Add. 15891, f. 77 (Nicolas, pp. 177-8)

Sir, though I can not alwayes paye my debtes, yet I vse to acknowledg them many tymes, to moue my creeditors to accept my goodwill, in towardnes of payement: and so at this tyme, though I knowe my self many wayes indebted vnto you for your good will, except you will accept for acquytall my reciproque goodwill, I shall not be able to pay you, that I owe you. Yet, yesterdaie, beeing aduertised of your good & honorable dealing with her maiestie, in the case of my dawghter of Oxford,(13) I could not suffer my thanckes, to growe above one daye olde, and therefore in these fewe lynes, I doo presentlie thanck you, and doo pray you in anye proceeding therin, not to haue the Earle dealt withall straynably, but only by waye of advise, as good for him self: for otherwise, hee maye suspecte, that I regard my self, more for my dawghter, then hee is regarded for his libertie. I knowe only the Quenes maiesties motions, shall further the cause,(14) and more then [.] her motions, I wishe nott. you see, beeinge a debter, I prescribe my manner to increase the debt / butt yf I can not acquite it, I knowe it belongeth to Almightie God to doo itt. I am most sorry to here of the disaster fallen oute yesterdaye, betwixte two greate planettes,(15) but I hope they knowe their Iupiter, and will obey her maiestie, rather to content her, then to followe their owne humors/. It is far oute of season, to haue these [b.e.ches] ^breaches¬: our adversaries ar ever ready to make them greater, and to leape in also, to our common harme. I am not yet fully recouuered: this north west wynde keepethe me back from my porte of health: which God send you ever, with increese of honor. 13 Iuly 1581(16)

Yours assuredlye

William burghley

7.6 Walsingham to Burghley, from court, 14 July 1581. This letter discloses Elizabeth's intention to stage a direct confrontation between Oxford and his three accusers. Walsingham pledges to Burghley to do everything in his power to avoid such a confrontation, which would almost certainly have led to a challenge.

PRO SP12/149[/69], ff. 160-1 (bifolium, 310mm x 212mm)

My verry good Lord I have ben all this daye by her maiestys expresse commavndement set a woorke about the examynatyon of certeyn persons charged to have conspyred to have [^att¬] attempted ^somewhat¬ ageynst her owne person. But as far as I can gather by thos examynatyons yat I have alreadye taken I thinke yt will prove nothinge. And yet it is happye that the partyes charged are taken for that they be Rvnnegat prestes sooche as have ben bredd vp at Rome and Dovey [=Douai] and seeke to corrvpt her maiestys good subiectes within this realme

Her maiesty is determyned to howld on her resolvtyon towchinge the two Lords wherwith she dyd yesterdaye acquaynt your Lordship [withall] and yet dyd I acquaynt her with the alteratyon of your opynyon [.] in respect of the present servyce her highnes is to vse them in.

I dealt verry earnestly with her towching the Earl of Oxefordes lybertye pvttyng her in mynde of her ^promyse¬ made bothe vnto your Lordship and the Ladye his wyfe.(17) The only staye growethe | thorrowghe the importenat svte yat is made for the delyverye of the Lord Henry and Mr Charles Arvndel whom before there delyverye her maiesty thinkethe meet they shoold be(18) confronted by the Earl. Whoo hathe made hvmble request to be sett at lybertye befor he be browght to charge them, as he was at the tyme he geve [=gave] fyrst informatyon ageynst them. Her maiesty notwithstandyng the reasonablenes of his request and the promyse made vnto yowre Lordship that he shoold be fyrst sett at lybartye before he be browght to confronte them, can not as yet be browght to yelde.

I hope yet this evenyng to prevayle so farefoorthe [to prevayle] as to procvre that he may be inlarged to morrowe ffor my owne opynyon I doe vtterly myslyke the confrontyng, and as I svppose they [.] are awthors of that advyce[?] [+and] doe yt to that ende yat the Earl may be charged by them. And so being sent for by her maiesty I am dryven to ende.

(sideways in left margin)

most hvmbly takyng leave At the coorte the xiiijth of Ivlye 1581.

Your Lordships to commavnd

(signed) Francis Walsyngham

Addressed: To the right honorable my verie good lord the Lord Thresorer of England [seal]

Endorsed (B): 14 Iulij 1581 Mr secretary walsyngham

7.7 Inquiry 22 June 1582, into the skirmishes which occurred at Blackfriars Monday 18 June between Oxford's men and Sir Thomas Knyvett's men. Previously printed by Bowen (1967).

PRO SP12/154[/11], ff. 20-1 (bifolium, 310mm x 208mm)

xxijto Iunij 1582

Gerrard Ashebye servaunte to Stodard a Butcher in St Nicholas Shambles sayeth that he went by his masters comandment to the marshes at Redryffe havinge nothinge in his hand but a sticke & when he returned he landed att the black ffryers stayres & ther he hard emongest the watermen that ther should be a freye [=fight] betwene my Lord of Oxford[es men] & mr Knevit & that they should fyght on thother syde [of] in¬ the marshe [.] & heringe that he tarryed there to see the same And thervppon he went to Cave[ll]rleyes(19) schole of ffence in the blacke ffreyres & ther fyndinge the schole open he toke a staffe about ix or x foote longe with a Pycke in the end & so he went to the bridge againe & shortly after Mr Knevet came & then the freye begonne & he seinge that they were but ij of my Lords men & many men on thother syde he went in emongest them to kepe the peace he sawe besydes iij with staues / besydes watermen with ther hookes & staves which they occupye in ther botes

Examined the xxiiijth of Iune 1582 towchinge affreye [=a fray] at the blackefryers Betwene [my Lord of oxfordes] mr Knevetes [men] & my Lord of Oxfordes men Vppon his othe affirmeth the said examination to be [lev] trewe & the whole trewth & no more or otherwyse cannot depose

Roger Daobye servaunt to one Mistris brekley in St Nicholas Shambles sayth that he was goinge to Croydon & went to take a boote at powles wharffe & ther a watterman whome he knoweth not tould him that ther should be afrey at Blackfryeres betwene my Lord of Oxford & mr Knevet whervppon he went to the blacke freyres by water & tarryed ther aboute a quarter of an houre to see the freye & had in his hand a staffe aboute iij yerdes longe with a picke shortly after he hard ij or iij watermen saye | yonder cometh mr Knevet & then he went to see what should be donne & so he drewe nere to kepe the peace & denyeth that he had any other entent to take parte or that he was spoken to by any of my Lord servauntes or any other to be there / but he sayth that he knewe harsley the glasier

he sawe iij more with staves & some of the water men with ther hookes that were also ther

he vppon his othe also taken the said xxiiijth of Iune towchinge the said affreye saithe in effect as he said before & otherwyse cannot depose

William Brooke servaunt to Smyth a Butcher in St Nicholas Shambles

Examined the xxiiijth of Iune vppon his othe sayth that vppon munday last his master sent him a brode to buye a cuple of calves & myndinge to go to battersey went by ludgate strete where he did see some people runninge into the blacke freyers

whervppon he followed them & so went to the watersyde & seinge no busines there toke a bate [=boat] & then he did se the water men that stoode att the gate runne vpward whervppon he came owte of the boote & toke his staffe with him being ij yerdes

longe & more & came to the affreye before yt was ended & seinge diuers men [p......inge] assaultinge two which after they sayd was my Lord of oxford and he did helpe to rescowe them beinge then in some daunger as he thought & denyeth that he was

procured or spoken [vp] vnto by any to come thether or that he knewe the names of ether of my Lord of Oxfordes men

LM: xxijdo Iunii 1582

Turboughe [Mr..g..yes] magrice¬(20) vsher to Caverley sayth that he was in the house of one Andrewe Berrye not knowinge nor heringe of any entent of a freye but beinge ther by chaunce & seinge swordes drawne & havinge [a] onlye aboute him a single

sworde he went in emongest them | only to kepe the peace & did nothinge ells & none otherwyse did meddle in the matter he taketh ther were aboute v [.] or vj men with staves & diuerse of the water men with ther hookes He knewe [Castwood]

gasterill¬ & horsley but nether they nor any other mayd him acquaynted with any suche thinge nor desyered him to take parte therin

Thomas Wilcockes a Bocher but no mans servante (rest blank)

Endorsed: 224¬ Iune 1582; Examinations touching the fray between ye Earl of Oxford and mr Knyvet.

7.8 Inquiry 24 June 1582, into the skirmishes which occurred Friday 22 June between Oxford's men and Sir Thomas Knyvett's men.

PRO SP12/154[/12], ff. 22-2bis (bifolium, 310mm x 208mm)

xxiiijto Iunij 1582

Danyell Bothame of fleetrete [=Fleet Street] [C..] Chirurgon sayth vppon his othe that vppon ffryday last in the afternowne he did se one which they called gastrill & maned [=named] to be my Lord of oxfordes man & drewe his sword vppon iij or iiijor of Mr Knevetes men whervnto one of them sayd gastrill we will not deale with the [=thee] here ther ys no place here & desyered the strete(21) to bere witnes therof, gastrill replyed & sayd he would fyght with theim & thervppon stroke at one of mr Knevetes men v or vj blowes wherin the said gastrill was hurte the rest of mr Knevetes men had ther swordes drawne but stroke not & one Harvye(22) my Lord of oxford[+s man] with [ther] his¬ swordes drawne would have parted the affrey & as he thinketh was hurte by chaunce by gastrill for he did not see any of mr knevetes men strycke at him or he att any of them

^< Harvie woold have parted the fraye

LM: xxvjto Iunij 1582

William Crowche of fletstrete mercer sayth vppon his othe that vppon fryday last in the afternowne he did see one which was called gastrill & maned [=named] to be my Lord of oxfordes man drawe his sword vppon iij or iiijor of mr Knevetes men & one of mr Knevetes men whos name he knoweth not sayd twyse or thrise gastrill putt vpp thy sword we will not meddle with the & desyered the strete to bere withes & thervppon one Harvye my Lord of oxfordes man willed gastrill to put vpp his sworde which he did accordinglye & then [& other tyme] one of mr Knevetes men said gastrill an other tyme vse thy discretion whervppon gastrill drewe againe & rane vppon [them] one of mr knevetes men [berrye](23) furyouslye¬ & they stroke v or vj blowes & mr knevetes man hurte gastrill the other of mr knevetes men & harvye stroke not at all that he did marke

^< Harvie willed Gastrel to put vp his sworde |

Endorsed: 24 June 1582; Examinations touching the fray between Gastrel and mr Knyvets man.

7.9 Testimony of Roger Townsend, following an incident of Monday 18 June 1582. Previously printed by Pollen (1919), pp. 34-6.

PRO SP12/154[/13], ff. 23-4 (single sheet, folded as bound, 400mm x 295mm; undated)

According to your Honors comaundementes, I have sett downe my knowledge, & remembraunces of my speches concerning cawsis of my Lord of Oxforthes & Mr Knevetes which is as followith /

Vppon the xviijth of Iune I was intreated by one Ihones [=Jones] to dyne that daye at his howse, which house before Mistris Arrunndell(24) did kepe hir Table in, Theare to accompany sondry noblemen & gentlemen that meant to further, & gyve Credytt & cowntenaunce vnto his newe erected Table /

In the morning I went to my Lord of Arrundell,(25) And after I had dispatcht my busines with hym, he asked me wheare I dyned, I answered him, at the place above recyted / Then he tolde me that hymself was thither bidden / Thervppon I sayd vnto hym that I wolde goe to Westminster hall, & come backe ageyne and attende on hym to the place wheare he dyned, which I did, And at my commyng to Arrundell house(26) there was no bodye with hym (to my remembraunce) but his owne men / And being readye to goe foorth, My Lord Thomas Howard and Mr Knevett came in, and vnderstoode whither my Lord went, and did accompany hym to the place wheare we dyned / Wheare we mett my Lord of Ormonde, & other noblemen & gentlemen / Presentlye after dynner one of my men came vnto me & tolde me that he heard some speech, that my Lord of Oxforthes(27) company meant to sett vppon Mr Knevet in the Company of whomesoever theye mett hym, or in the company of my Lord of Arrundell & my Lord Thomas / This in effect, but the veary direct woordes I cannot perfectly remember / I asked my man wheare he heard yt, & what proofe he had of yt / He answeared me, He heard yt at my Lord Willoughbies house, wheare my Lord of Oxforth & my Lord Willoughbie weare, And that some of the company had borrowed a swoorde or swoordes of my men & a buckler, I thinkinge yt was but some rashe suspicion or speech of some yll disposed person, willed hym to repaire thither ageyne to bring me certen knowledge therof, And so accordinglye he retorned to my Lord Wylloughbies house, and there stayed some while and inquired further of the matter / In the meanetyme, being desysrous to prevent the woorst, [+I] willed my man not to speake to any bodye of yt, And I made choyse of my Lord of Ormonde to make hym pryvie to the speeche I heard, hoping of his good advice and ayde to prevent this myscheif yf there weare any intendid He answered me, He thought the reporte was not true, But notwithstanding wished me to send one of my men to vnderstande further of the cause / I tolde hym that I had so done alreadye, And further I tolde hym that [I] my Lord of Arrundell was determyned to goe presentlye to Haward House, which I did very mych myslyke till I had heard some certeyntie, howe the company before spoken of weare determynd, Thervppon there was some perswacion for my Lord of Arrundell to goe to playe, who wolde not playe hym self, but willed me to playe his mony, I answered I wolde not playe vnlesse his Lordship stoode by / He answered me, he wolde not goe awaye vntill such tyme as we had made an end of our playe, Our playe contynued very litle while, and then my Lord of Arrundell sayed he wolde goe to Haward house, for he had appoynted his officers to meete with hym there concerning his owne busynes, I answered hym that yt weare very good for his Lordship this after noone to talke with his Cownsell, He answered me that he had taken order with Mr Buxton & Mr Dyx so to doe, and wolde goe to dispatche some other busynes, I sayed to hym ageyne that yf his Lordship wolde goe hym self to his Cownsell, His presence wolde doe more good with them then a wikes [=week's] attendaunce of his officers, Then he desired me to will one of his men, to cause Mr Buxton & Mr Dix to come to hym to Arrundell house, And thervppon we went presentlye downe the stayres to goe to the blacke ffryers, And even at the dore my man came to me, and tolde me that he had bene at my Lord Willoughbies, wheare my Lord of Oxforth & my Lord Willoughbie both weare, and that he did perceive there was no such intent as was before spoken of / And so we went to the blacke ffryers, wheare Mr Knevet (going before vs) was sett vppon / But who they were that did it I knowe not, for I was so farre behynde as I colde not discearne what they weare / And so I tooke boate with my Lord of Arrundell & went to Arrundell house / Being in the boate with hym, he asked me why I did not tell hym of that I had tolde my Lord of Ormonde, I answered hym ageyne, I was very vnwilling to tell any body of yt / But that I was desirous of all the quiet that might be aslonge as he & thers weare in the company, And therfore I made choice of my Lord of Ormonde, as a man best experienced to advise in the cause, yf there had bene any such accon [=action] in hand / He answered me ageyne, you might very well haue made me privie, for you maye be sure, I wolde not Ioyne with any man willingly to be partye in any quarrell /

In the evening, fynding my Lord Wylloughbie walking in his garden, I desired to speake with hym, So going talking with hym, I told hym, that I thought my Lord of Oxforth & he, wolde not thincke me so Idely occupied, as that I wold Ioyne in any quarrell ageynst them / Then he sayed to me that he did perceive there had flying tales commen [=come] to vs, aswell as to them, for saieth he, yt was told my Lord of Oxforth, that mr Knevett with others came braving hard by the dore here / Thervppon my Lord of Oxforth hym self (and also his men) was somwhat greived at yt, I answered my Lord I thought that was very vntrue, for Mr Knevet was not out of my company, all the afternoone, & before dynner, we came altogither, & went no farther then Aldersgate / And that truly I did thincke in my conscience there was no such intent for there was none in the company prepared to any such purpose, Truly Cosyn Townishend (sayd my Lord Willoughbie) yf the matter had growen to any further extremytie, I wolde have sent both to the Mayor, & to the recorder, But whither he sayd he did send or no, I doe not very well remember.

Endorsed: Mr Townesend declaration towching the brute geuen owt yat ye Earl of Oxford shoold haue attempted somewhat ageinst Mr Thomas Knyvet

7.10 Thomas Vavasor's letter of challenge to Oxford, 19 January 1585, apparently in response to some provocation given by one of Oxford's own men. Previously printed by Ward, p. 229.

BL Lansdowne 99[/93] ff. 252-3 (bifolium, 300mm x 200mm).

If thy body had bene as deformed as thy mind is dishonorable my house had bene yet vnspotted and thy self remayned with thy cowardise vnknowne. I speake this that I feare thow art so much wedded to that shadow of thine yat nothing canne haue force to awake thy base and sleapye spyrytes. Is not the reveng alredy taken(28) of thy vildnes [=vileness] sufficyent but wylt thou yet vse vnworthy instrumentes to provoke my vnwytting mynd? or dost thow feare thy self and therfore hast sent thy forlorne kindred whom as thow hast left nothing to inheryte so thow dost thrust them vyolently into thy shamefull quarelles? If yt be so (as I too much doubt) then stay at home thy self and send my abusers. but yf ther be yet left any sparke of honour in the, or iott [=jot] of regard of thy decayed reputation, vse not thy byrth for an excuse for I am a gentleman but meete me thy self alone and thy lacky to hould thy horse for the weapons I leaue them to thy choyse for yat I challendge, and the place to be apoynted by vs both at o<u>r meeting which I think may convenyently be at Nuington or els where thy self shalt send me¬ word by this bearer. by whom I expect an answere

Thomas Vavasor

No address or seal.

Endorsed (B): 19 Ianvary 1584; a lewd lettre from Vavaser to ye Erl of Oxford

Second endorsement: Mr Vauesor. Erl of Oxford. challenge.

1. Presumably in Westminster Palace.

2. Exact date unclear, not necessarily 24th as given in the endorsement; perhaps xxij or xxiij.

3. Perhaps the first date refers to the sending of the letter, the second to its receipt.

4. Havering Park, Havering atte Bower, near Romford in Essex. Apparently this was a property dispute.

5. Anne, Burghley's daughter, from whom Oxford was then estranged. Burghley has added a marginal note: "This is more [=less?] easyer to be doone, than Courtyers do thynk." Lady Oxford is mentioned again in 7.5.

6. Christopher Hatton.

7. Interlineation in a different hand.

8. Leicester and Sussex (7.2-3).

9. Error for John Hammond?

10. See esp. 4.3/6.4, where Henry Lok is named as a willing witness.

11. I.e., you and I are equally the victims of their prevarication.

12. Could the bearer be Power, Oxford's page?

13. Anne, Oxford's wife and Burghley's daughter-in-law (see also 7.2).

14. the cause may be the reconciliation between Oxford and his wife Anne, Burghley's daughter.

15. Marginal note: "these two greate planetts, were the Earle of Sussex & the Earle of Leycester: which were fallen out:".

16. The figure 13 is oddly formed, but the date is fairly certain.

17. Anne Cecil, Burghley's daughter (see also 7.2 and 7.5).

18. b changed from w.

19. Francis Caverley or Calvert: see Herbert Berry (1991), esp. pp. 4, 35.

20. i followed by mark of abbreviation normally indicating er, probably otiose.

21. I.e., everyone standing in the street.

22. Could this be Gabriel Harvey?

23. Presumably Andrew Berrye.

24. Mrs Arundel was the keeper of a victualling and gaming establishment.

25. Philip Howard.

26. Here, not the dining house, but the residence of the earl of Arundel on the Strand.

27. Originally Oxforth.

28. Oxford had been severely wounded 3 March 1582.