Изображения страниц

pleasure unto them in everything. Your Lordship, I think, shall shortly perceive the Prior of Ely to be of a froward sort, by evident tokens ;* as, at our coming home, shall be at large related unto you.

"At the writing hereof we have done nothing at Ramsey; saving that one night I communed with the Abbot; whom I found conformable to everything, as shall be at this time put in act.ț And then, as your Lordship's will is, as soon as we have done at Ramsey, we go to Peterborough. And from thence to my House; and so home. The which, I trust, shall be at the farthest on this day come seven days.

"That the blessed Trinity preserve your Lordship's health! "Your Lordship's most bounden Nephew,


"From Ramsey, on Tuesday in the morning."§

The other Letter is still more express as to the consanguinity; it says, among other things, 'And longer than I may have heart so, as my most bounden duty is, to serve the King's Grace with body, goods, and all that ever I am able to make; and your Lordship, as Nature and also your manifold kindness bindeth,-I beseech God I no longer live.' 'As Nature bindeth.' Richard Cromwell then thanks him, with a bow to the very ground, for 'my poore wyef,' who has had some kind remembrance from his Lordship; thinks all his travail but a pastime ;' and remains, 'at Stamford this Saturday at eleven of the clock,—your humble Nephew most bounden,' as in the other case. A vehement, swiftriding man!-Nephew, it has been suggested, did not mean in Henry the Eighth's time so strictly as it now does, brother's or sister's son ; it meant nepos, or rather kinsman of younger generation : but on all hypotheses of its meaning, the consanguinity of Oliver

* He proved tameable, Sir Richard,—and made your Great-grandson rich, for one consequence of that!

† Brought to legal black-on-white.

+ To London.

§ MSS. Cotton. Cleopatra E. IV., p. 2046. The envelope and address are not here; but this label of address, given in a sixteenth-century hand, and otherwise indicated by the text, is not doubtful. The signature alone, and line preceding that, are in Richard's hand. In the Letter printed by Noble the address remains, in the hand of Richard's clerk

Protector of England and Thomas Mauler of Monasteries is not henceforth to be doubted.

Another indubitable thing is, That this Richard, your Nephew most bounden, has signed himself in various Law-deeds and Notarial papers still extant, Richard Cromwell alias Williams;' also that his sons and grandsons continued to sign Cromwell alias Williams; and even that our Oliver himself in his youth has been known to sign so. And then a third indubitable thing on this matter is, That Leland, an exact man, sent out by Authority in those years to take cognizance and make report of the Church Establishments in England, and whose well-known Itinerary is the fruit of that survey, has written in that work these words; under the head, Commotes* in Glamorganshire :'


Kibworth lieth† from the mouth of Remny up to an Hill in the same Commote, called Kevenon, a six miles from the mouth of Remny. This Hill goeth as a Wall overthwart betwixt the Rivers of Thave‡ and Remny. A two miles from this Hill by the south, and a two miles from Cardiff, be vestigia of a Pile or Manor Place decayed, at Egglis Newith§ in the Parish of Landaff. On the south side of this Hill was born Richard William alias Cromwell, in the Parish of Llanilsen.”||

That Richard Cromwell, then, was of kindred to Thomas Cromwell; that he and his family after him signed' alias Williams;' and that Leland, an accurate man, said and printed, in the official scene where Richard himself was living and conspicuous, he was born in Glamorganshire: these three facts are indubitable;—but to these three we must limit ourselves.


[ocr errors]

* Commote is the Welsh word Cumwd, now obsolete as an official division, equivalent to cantred, hundred. Kibworth Commote is now Kibbor Hundred.

† Extendeth.

‡ Thave means Taff; the description of the wall-like Hill between these two streams is recognizably correct; Kevenon, spelt Cevn-on, ‘ash-tree ridge,' is still the name of the Hill.

§ Eglwys Newydd, New Church, abolished now.

|| Noble, i., 238, collated with Leland (Oxford, 1769), iv., fol. 56, pp. 37, 8. Leland gathered his records in six years' between 1533 and 1540; he died, endeavoring to assort them, in 1552. They were long afterwards published by Hearne.


as to the origin of this same alias Williams,' whether it came from the general Williamses of Berkshire,* or from Morgan Williams, a Glamorganshire gentleman married to the sister of Thomas Cromwell,' or from whom or what it came, we have to profess ourselves little able, and indeed not much concerned to decide. Williamses are many there is Richard Cromwell, in that old Letter, hoping to break fast with a Williams at Ely,—but finds both him and Pollard gone! Facts, even trifling facts, when indisputable may have significance; but Welsh Pedigrees, 'with seventy shields of arms,''Glothian Lord of Powys' (prior or posterior to the Deluge), though written on a parchment 8 feet by 2 feet 4, bearing date 1602, and belonging to the Miss Cromwells of Hampstead,'t are highly unsatisfactory to the ingenuous mind! We have to remark two things: First, that the Welsh Pedigree, with its seventy shields and ample extent of sheepskin, bears date London, 1602; was not put together, therefore, till about a hundred years after the birth of Richard, and at a great distance from the scene of that event: circumstances which affect the unheraldic mind with some misgivings. Secondly, that learned Dugdale,' upon whom mainly, apart from these uncertain Welsh sheepskins, the story of this Welsh descent of the Cromwells seems to rest, has unfortunately stated the matter in two different ways,—as being, and then also as not being,—in two places of his learned Lumber-Book. Which circumstance affects the unheraldic mind with still fataller misgivings,—and in fact raises irrepressibly the question and admonition, "What boots it? Leave the vain region of blazonry, of rusty broken shields, and genealogical marine-stores; let it remain for ever doubtful! The Fates themselves have appointed it even so. Let the uncertain Simulacrum of a Glothian, prior or posterior to Noah's Deluge, hover between us and the utter Void; basing himself on a dust-chaos of ruined heraldries, lying genealogies, and saltires checky, the best he can !"

[ocr errors]

The small Hamlet and Parish Church of Cromwell, or Crumwell (the Well of Crum, whatever that may be), still stands on

† Noble, i., 1.


Biographia Britannica (London, 1789), iv., 474.
Dugdale's Baronage, ii., 374, and ii., 393.


the Eastern edge of Nottinghamshire, not far from the left bank of the Trent; simple worshippers still doing in it some kind of divine service every Sunday. From this, without any ghost to teach us, we can understand that the Cromwell kindred all got their name,—in very old times indeed. From torpedo rubbish. records we learn also, without great difficulty, that the Barons Cromwell were summoned to Parliament from Edward Second's time and downward; that they had their chief seat at Tattershall in Lincolnshire; that there were Cromwells of distinction, and of no distinction, scattered in reasonable abundance over that Fen-country,-Cromwells Sheriffs of their Counties there in Richard's own time.* The Putney Blacksmith, Father of the Malleus, or Hammer that smote Monasteries on the head,—a Figure worthy to take his place beside Hephaistos, or Smith Mimer, if we ever get a Pantheon in this Nation,—was probably enough himself a Fen-country man; one of the junior branches, who came to live by metallurgy in London here. Richard, also sprung of the Fens, might have been his kinsman in many ways, have got the name of Williams in many ways, and even been born on the Hill behind Cardiff, independently of Glothian. Enough: Richard Cromwell, on a background of heraldic darkness, rises clearly visible to us; a man vehemently galloping to and fro, in that sixteenth century; tourneying successfully before King Harry,† who loved a man; quickening the death-agonies of Monasteries; growing great on their spoil;and fated, he also, to produce another Malleus Cromwell that smote a thing or two. And so we will leave this matter of the Birth and Genealogy.

*Fuller's Worthies, § Cambridgeshire, &c.

† Stowe's Chronicle (London, 1631), p. 580; Stowe's Survey, Holinshed, &c.




THE few ascertained, or clearly imaginable, Events in Oliver's Biography may as well be arranged, for our present purpose, in the form of annals.


Early in January of this year, the old Grandfather, Sir Henry, 'the Golden Knight,' at Hinchinbrook, died :* our Oliver, not quite four years old, saw funeralia and crapes, saw Father and Uncles with grave faces, and understood not well what it meant, -understood only, or tried to understand, that the good old Grandfather was gone away, and would never pat his head any more. The maternal Grandfather, at Ely, was yet, and for above a dozen years more, living.


The same year, four months afterwards, King James, coming from the North to take possession of the English crown, lodged two nights at Hinchinbrook; with royal retinue, with immense sumptuosities, addressings, knight-makings, ceremonial exhibitions; which must have been a grand treat for little Oliver. His Majesty came from the Belvoir-Castle region, hunting all the way,' on the afternoon of Wednesday, 27th April, 1603; and set off, through Huntingdon and Godmanchester, towards Royston, on Friday forenoon.† The Cambridge Doctors brought him an Address while here; Uncle Oliver, besides the ruinously splendid entertainments, gave him hounds, horses and astonishing gifts at his departure. In return there were Knights created,

*Poor Noble, unequal sometimes to the copying of a Parish-register, with his judgment asleep, dates this event 1603-4 (at p. 20, vol. 1), and then placidly (at p. 40) states a fact inconsistent therewith. + Stowe's Chronicle, 812, &c.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »