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LORD COBHAM. Friars despisen lords and ladies that bee given to leave pride and vanitie of the world ; and saien it was not merrie sithen lords and ladies tooken regard to the Gospel, and leften their ancestors manners, that weren worshipful to the world.
In the year 1544, John Bale, afterwards bishop of Ossory, published A brefe Chronycle concernynge the Examinacyon and Death of the Blessed Martyr of Christ Sir Johan Oldecastell the Lorde Cobham. It would have been more agreeable to the design of the Editor, who aims at the production of original authorities, in preference to subsequent abridgments and compilations, to have reprinted that volume intire. But there is a degree of coarseness in the style of this, as well as every other work of that zealous, but impure and inconsiderate writer', and so much intemperance in his language, wherever the Romish church, and its religion fall in his way, that it was impossible for the Editor to comply with his first desire. With one exception therefore, the following Narrative is taken from Fox; whose account comprises nearly all that is valuable in Bale's. The exception referred to consists in the description of the death of Lord Cobham, which is left very imperfectly told by Fox, and therefore is here borrowed correctly from Bale. The principal part of the whole process is derived from the Register of Archbishop Arundel, which is still extant in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth; and from other documents of incontestable authenticity.
· Inconsiderate writer.] Of whom Henry Wharton, who was not in the habit of speaking at random, has said, “But Bale is scarcely to be believed, when he relates a matter upon his own knowledge, much less when he delivers any thing at 1200 years distance, without any authority.”-Specimen of Errors, &c. p. 85.
Of the earlier life of Sir John Oldcastle, prior to the commencement of Fox's narrative, not many particulars are known. His services appear to have been confined chiefly to Wales. In Nov. 1401, he was constituted captain of Buelt, having under his command twenty men-at-arms and forty archers, and in 1403 he was captain of Kidwelly castle, with forty lances and 220 archers. In 1404 he had the custody, jointly with John Ap Herry, of the castles of Hay and Brecknock, and in the 8th Henry IV. (1406-7) he was high sheriff of Herefordshire. Hitherto his station had been, comparatively speaking, unimportant, and his influence small; but by his marriage with the heiress of the rich and powerful lord Cobham, he became possessed of great estates, and was summoned to parliament as a baron jure uxoris.
John de Cobham, Lord Cobham, who appears in many of the most important transactions of the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II., and whom Walsingham calls “a very old man just and upright,” died on the 10th of January, 1408 ; having had by his wife Margaret, one of the daughters of Hugh Courtenay, earl of Devonshire, an only daughter, Joane, who died in her father's lifetime, leaving issue by her husband, Sir John Delapole, a daughter of her own name, Joane. This lady, the granddaughter of the old lord, married first Sir Gerard Braybroke, knt., and secondly Sir Nicholas Hawberk, knt., governor of Flint Castle, who was living at the time of Lord Cobham's death, but died soon after; for in 1409 his widow, then about thirty years of age, had become the wife of Sir John Oldcastle.
It was on the 26th of October, 1409 (11th Henry IV.) that Sir John Oldcastle was first summoned to parliament, and in his own name: but he was summoned in the 12th and 14th years of Henry IV. and in the 1st of Henry V. as Lord Cobham, by which title he was afterwards known. In the 12th of Henry IV. he was sent beyond sea with the Earl of Arundel, and a considerable force, to aid the duke of Burgundy against the French. He was burned in the beginning of the year 1418, leaving no child: his widow married for her fourth husband Sir John Harpden, knt., and died in the 12th year of Henry VI. (1433-34.) Sir John Harpden was never summoned to parliament, but in the 23rd of Henry VI. the title of Lord Cobham was revived in the person of Sir Edward Brooke, the grandson of Joane Cobham and her first husband, Sir Gerard Braybroke.
It is necessary to give these particulars, as Bale and Gilpin have in some instances confounded the actions of Sir John Oldcastle and his wife's grandfather, the old Lord Cobham, and their errors have been copied by writers in our own time.
AFTER Henry the fourth, raigned Henry the fifth his sonne, which was borne at Monmouth in Wales, of whose other vertues and great victories gotten in France, I have not greatly to intermeddle ; especially seeing the memory of his worthy prowesse, being sufficiently described in other writers in this our time, may both content the reader, and unburden my labour herein ; especially seeing these latter troubles and perturbations of the church offer me so much, that unneth any vacant leasure shal be left to intermeddle with matters prophane.
After the coronation then of this new king, which was the ninth day of Aprill, (A.D. 1413) called then Passion Sunday', which was an exceeding stormy day, and so tempestuous, that many did wonder at the portent thereof; not long after the same, a parliament began to be called, and to be holden after the feast of Easter, at Westminster, an. 1413. At which time, Thomas Arundel, the archbishop of Canterbury, collected in
| Passion Sunday.) The fifth Sunday in Lent was so called, “ Though I think (says Wheatly) that would be a more proper name for the Sunday following: but the reason, I suppose, why that title is thrown back to this, is because the Sunday next before Easter is generally called Palm-Sunday, in commemoration of our Saviour's triumphal entry into Jerusalem.” Illustration of the Common Prayer, p. 205, edit. 1794. But, I apprehend, a much better account of the origin of this name may be derived from the Festival. “ Dere frendes, this day is called the sondaye in passyon weke. This daye our Lord Jhesu Cryste begane his passyon : for this daye the Jewes hadde such an envye to hym, bycause he tolde theyr defautes and vyces and meslyvynge, and soo for this cause they repreved hym: so this daye they were full assented to do hym to dethe.” Fol. 25. The gospel, appointed to be read in the church on that day, was then, as it still is, the 8th chap. of St. John, v. 46, &c. where the Jews take up stones to cast at Jesus; and thence the name appears to have originated.