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APPENDIX V.

EPISTLE OF POOR PRATTE TO GILBERT POTTER.


The reader is here presented with a copy of one of those libels [1] which it was customary to circulate in a written form, thrown down in some public place where they were likely to attract notice and meet with readers. The present writer had "scattered abroad" three other copies, and sent two "into the ragged beares camp," -- the army of the duke of Northumberland (see p. 120.) This "epistel" was therefore written before the failure of the duke's expedition was known; and the first copy no doubt on the 13th of July, the date mentioned in the title. A few days after, when queen Mary's authority was fully established, and when the Londoners were expecting her arrival in the city, some one -- possibly not the writer himself, thought it likely to be saleable as a book. The printer, Hugh Singleton, was not a very flourishing tradesman, but his name is attached to a few publications, chiefly of a politico-religious character, ranging during the long period from 1550 to 1588. (See the Typographical Antiquities, by Dibdin, vol. iv. pp. 289-301.)

The incident which the writer seized as the vehicle of his sentiments, has been recorded by Stowe and by Machyn. When queen Jane was proclaimed in London, a young man named Gilbert Potter, whom Stowe calls Pot, and who was drawer at a tavern called the St. John's head within Ludgate, presumed to express his opinion that the lady Mary had the better title: in consequence, he was immediately arrested, and the next day he was set in the pillory in Chepe, whereto both his ears were nailed, and then clean cut off: after which he was taken back to the Compter. Stowe further states that the poor drawer "was accused by Ninion Saunders, his maister," who the same afternoon was drowned when shooting London bridge, together with John Owen, a gun maker, both holding the place of gunners at the Tower.

It appears that this zealous tapster did not go without recompence for his sufferings. On May 30, anno 1 of queen Mary, Gilbert Potter received a grant of several messuages, lands, &c. in South Lynn, Norfolk, formerly in the tenure of Thomas Winter, and belonging to Blackburgh priory, to be held by knight's service; and he also had license to alienate them to George and Thomas Eden. (Parkin's History of Freebridge Hundred, folio, p. 165.)

The following tract, of which there is no original copy in the library of the British Museum, is here copied from the Harleian Miscellany. The 8entiments to which it gives utterance are remarkable, not only for their intense hatred of Northumberland, but for their expressions of fear that the gospel might be plucked away (see p. 118) if Mary's just title was defeated!


The copie of a pistel or letter sent to Gilbard Potter, in the tyme when he was in prison, for speakinge on our most true quenes part, the lady Mary, before he had his earea cut of. The xiij of July.

Si Deus nobiscum, quis contra nos?

Anno M.D.Liij. the firste of August.

[Duodecimo, containing sixteen pages.]

Poor Pratte, unto his frend Gilbard Potter, the most faythful and trew lover of quene Mary, doth him salute with many salutations. S.P.D.

Whereas thou hast of late showed thy selfe (most faithful Gilbard) to be a true subjecte to Mary, quene of England, not only by wordes but by deedes, and for the farther triall of thy true heart towardes her, did offer thy bodye to be slayne in her quarell, and offered up thy selfe into the hands of the ragged beare most rancke, with whom is nether mercy, pitie, nor compassion, but his indignation present death. Thy promis (Gilbard) is faythfull, thy heart is true, thy love is fervente towardes her grace; and, wheras you did promis me faythfullye (when I last visited thee in prison) "to be torne with wild horses, thou wouldest not denye Marye our quene," and to that whiche thou tofore dyd saye, no deuial shalbe found in thee; so styll do thou continue in the same mynde, have a respect of thy conscience, feare not to saye the truth; if thou dye, thou shalt dye in the ryght; Pugna pro patrid, "Fighte for thy countrey" (sayeth the philosopher). For, as it shalbe to thi great honour and prayse in this world, and in heaven, to dye in her grace's quarell, and in the defence of thy coun trey; so wold it be to the utter destruction both of thy body and soule to do the contrarye. But (O thou true Gilbard) stand stiflye in her cause, and do thou according to thy last promis made me (as I do not doubt but thou wilt) then wil God kepe thee and preserve thee. If thou shuld dye, thou shalt dye innocent; so shal you be assured to possesse the everlastyng kyngdom of heaven. If you fortune to lyve, then shal it be also accompted praise to thee; and fully perswade with thy selfe, that her grace wil consider thy faythful and true heart, as she hath juste occasion. For, who could have bene more faythfuller, then thou haste bene? What man coulde have showed him selfe bolder in her grace's cause, then thou hast showed? Or who dyd so valiantlye in the proclamation tyme, when Jane was published quene (unworthy as she was) and more to blame, I may say to thee, are some of the consenters therunto. Ther were thousandes more then thy selfe, yet durst they not (suche is the fragility and weakenes of the flesh) once move their lippes to speake that whiche thou did speake. Thou offerest thy selfe amongst the multitude of people to fight agaynste them all in her quarell, and for her honour dyd not feare to runne upon the poynt of the swordes. O faythfull subject! O true hearte to Mary our quene I can not but wryte of the condign prayse that thou deservest for thys thy boldnes. I may compare thee to Sidrack, Misack, and Abdenago, whych, rather then they wold forsake their Mayster, were contented to suffer the tormentes in the hoate burnyng oven. And as young Daniel, when he was broughte before such a ruler (as that false duke of Northumberland), rather then to denye his Lord, would suffer the paynes of imprysonment, and to be cast in the denne of lions: even so (faythful Gilbard) rather then thou wouldest consente to their false and trayterouse proclamation for Jane, when thou dyd hear it, havyng a clear conscience, wold not consent to the same most trayterous fact. And, so little regarded thy life, boldly stode in thy mistres cause, and offered thy bodye to be imprisoned, and to suffer death, then to denye our vertuouse Mary to be quene. And therfore trust to it, my faythfull Gilbard, as the God of Sidrack, Misack, and Abdenago, saved them from al hurt in the hoat burnyng oven, that not so much as one heare of their heade was perished: so shall the same God save thee out of the handes of the cruell beare, and give hym no power of thy lyfe. Agayne, as God preserved Daniel when he was cast in the denne amongest the lions, at the commaundement of the king Nabuchodonosor: and, when he was in the middeste of them, the lions played with him, (which was admirable:) so do thou trust to, albeit thou art now in the denne amongest devourers (I meane under the power of the beare and ragged staf) yet the God of Daniel shall safely delyver thee out of all their handes; and the rather, if thou dost still continue stedfast, and hold on Mary our quene, and forsake thy mayster no more then Daniel and the brethren did their God and mayster. Dispayre not, but lyve in hope to se a good day, and the soner will it come, if we continue in praier. For my part (faithful Gilbard) I wyl never sease day nor nyght from praying for our good Mary, that her grace might once obteyne the crowne, and that it wold please Him of his omnipotent power to strengthen and helpe her grace, Mary, thy quene and mine; so say I to the death, and to conquere that beare. So here I shall desire thee also to offer up to the Almighty Lord godly contemplations, that she maye overcome hir enemies.

For, as the inhabitants of the great city of Ninive continued in praier, and clothed themselves in sackecloth, caste duste upon their heades, repented, and bewailed their manifold sinnes and offences, at what tyme as the prophete Jonas had preached to them the destruction of their citye; knew that it was time to do al the same, els destruction wold folow: so shulde we now not sease praying to God to send us quietnes, and that the lady Mary might enjoye the kingdom.

For we have had manye prophetes and true preachers, whiche did declare unto us, that oure kinge shal be taken awaye from us, and a tyrant shal reygne; the gospel shall be plucked awaye, the right heyre shalbe dispossessed, and al for our unthanckfulnes. And thinkest thou not (Gilbard) the world is now come? Yea, truely. And what shal folow, yf we repent not in tymes. The same God wil take from us the vertuouse lady Mary, oure lawfull quene, and send such a cruel Pharao, as the ragged beare, to rule us; which shal pul and pol us, spoyle us, and utterly destroy us, and bring us in great calamities and miseries. And this God wil send us; and al for our iniquities. For, yf unto oure quene Mary any evell shuld happen, let us fully perswade with our selves, that it not for her small sinnes only, but for our evel livinges And this litle troubles (whiche be grevous to hir grace) doth chaunse to her for thy sinnes and myne, let us so thinke. For truely (faythful Gilbard) God is displeased with us many wayes: and here, I dar be bold to say, that her grace is more sorowful for the death of king Edwarde her brother, then she is glad that she is quene. For her part (good vertuouse lady) she would have bene as glad of her brother's life, as the ragged beare is glad of his death. Agamemnon, the heathen king, was never more unquieted with his highe estate; when he lamented for that he was king over so manye people; as her grace is nowe troubled, to rule and governe so manye evell persons. Plato was never gladder, when he was exiled from the kinges courte, because his mind was more addict therby, and geven to the study of philosophie; as she wold be, if she might once be exiled from the company of such traitours, wherby she might be more quieter, and possesse this hir kingdome peasablye. Even so, I dare advouche, that her grace was farre quieter, and better contented with her olde estate, then now she is quene, (yf it had pleased God.) But now, praised be Almighti God, because he hath so provided us a right and lawful ayre, and so vertuous a princesse, to possess this imperial crown of England; and so are we all bounde highlye to thanke him therfore. Trustyng that the same God wil shortlye exalt her grace, and set her in her perfect dignitie, and plucke downe that Jane; I can not nominate hir quene, for that I know no other quenes but the good lady Mary hir grace, whome God prosper!

I heare say (faythfull Gilbard) that the true subject, Sir Edmond Peck hame, is gone, with al his power and treasure, to assist her grace, ex fructu scimus quid sit arbor; "by the frute, we may knowe what the tree is:" So, by his frutes, that is, by all his doinges, we may knowe what he is; howe true and faythfill hath he shewed him selfe to be at al times to Henry theight, of famous memory. What man deserved more commendation then he? He never robbed his grace, when he had al the rule of his treasure; he used not to buy silver for fowre shillinges an once, and make the kinge paye five shillinges fowre pence (as other false traitours did); but loke, what he payd, the kinge payde no more. He was ever true and faythfull by reporte, aswel of al other, as of hys owne servauntes. And now for the full triall of his true hearte, howe hath he showed him selfe to her grace? Left house, lands, and al, and gone to help her. Truly, we have to few such faythfull men. I heare also, that ther is come more to helpe her grace, the erle of Darbey, the erle of Oxford, the erle of Bath, and diverse other nobles, whiche I can not rehearse nominarly. The God of Hostes, the God of Abraham, prosper them, kepe them, and geve them power to withstand al their enemies; and the moost mighty Lord take part with them (as I do not mistrust) for the right sake! I hear no other newes, but that here is continually great preparation, and many cartes appoynted to carry harnes and artilery, God send them evell to spede! The good erle of Arundel and the erle of Shrosburye be here still, but, as I am informed, the erle of Arundel will not consent to none of thir doynges. O God, I most hertely desire thee, heare my praier; kepe and preserve the good erle of Arundel from the tiranny of that devouryng beare. For, as thou hast from the beginning endued him with al truth; so doth he stil continue stedfaste in the same, like a worthy noble. Preserve hym, I beseche thee (O my God), and geve hym grace still to stande stedfaste. The earl of Shrosburye bear eth hymselfe equal; God kepe hym! and send al those, that wolde the ladye Mary to be quene, long life and pleasure; and they which wold not, I wyshe them the paynes of Satan in hell.

I have (faythfull Gilbard) scattered abroad thre of the bokes more, and two also have I sent into the ragged beares campe. Kepe that close whicl thou hast; the world is daungerous. The great devell, Dudley, ruleth; (duke, I shuld have sayd): wel, let that passe, seing it is oute, but I truste he shall not longe I have proved, if I could get a M. of them imprinted in some straunge letter, and so a nomber of them to be disparsed abroade.

Forasmuch (Gilbard) as I perceave that thou art strayghtly kept, and not suffred to have liberty, I shal brievely visite thee with my letters form time to time. And here, Gilbard, I exhort thee to continue in praier; and to take in good parte this yoke, layd upon thy shoulders, and beare this crosse patiently. For adversity is a good thinge, and shall make thee to know God the better. For I trust in the Lord, to live to se the day her grace to mary such one, as knoweth what adversity meaneth [2]; so shal we have both a merciful quene and king to their subjects. And wold to God that I might live (if it so pleased her grace) to have an other vertuouse Edward [3]! And God make her grace fruteful, and send hir frute to inherite the kingdom after her. I promised you to salute your frend Robert in your name: accordingly I have done, and desired hym to pray with you for our quene Mary, that it wold please the Lord to give hir the crowne, which she oughte to have of right. And thus, to breviate my long processe, I end; desiryng thee (my constant Gilbard) not to beholde the gorgiousnes of my letters, which be void of al; but to weygh in an equall payre of ballans the good wil of the writer; who beareth thee no worse wil, then to his owne soule: prayinge God to strengthen thee, and give thee grace to abide faythfilll towardes oure most excellent true aud only quene Mary. So shalt thou be assured to have God thy faythfull frend againe; and, at the last, thou shalt inherit his kingdom: To the which kingdome, bringe both you and me, and us all. Amen.

Fayre you well.

Finis. Quod poore Pratte.

Imprynted at London, in Temstrete, over agaynste the Stiliardes, at the signe of the Dobbel Hood, by Hewghe Singelton.