Mercurius Politicus

A blog (mostly) about early modern history

Tag: henry walker

Handwriting

A bit of a coup in recent weeks: I finally managed to view the original parish registers for Petersham chapel, where Henry Walker was curate from the 1660s until some point in the 1680s. This is part of a page written in 1667:

1667 entry in Petersham register

Transcript:

On Tuesday 11th June 1667 Mr Henry Walker was by Mr Twetty of Kingston apointed to the cure of Petersham whither he went and tooke possession of the church where he marryed a couple that morning. Mr Walker went to the Hon:ble the Countess of Disart & acquainted her of his being sent by Mr Twitty but she said the right was in her & Mr Walker being allowed by her honour had afterwards licence from my Lord Bishop of Winchester and was confirmed in the place. His first day of preaching there was June 1[illegible but must be 6 from the context as 16 June was the Sunday] 1667 upon approbation.

I am pretty certain that it was Henry himself who wrote this. Compare it to this inscription in the flyleaf of a copy of Synopsis Papismi that he gave to the Ironmongers’ Company in 1681, which seems to me to be the same hand.

DSC02687

If I am right about that, then the rest of the relevant page from the Petersham register becomes more interesting:

40815_1831101883_1060-00027

What precedes the entry about the Countess of Dysart seems to be in the same hand. Looking at what has been crossed out – an entry that then is re-written a few places down – it seems most likely that Walker was re-entering material that had already been recorded somewhere else, and made a mistake. The registers are a complete mess, with the pages out of order and the page that would have confirmed Prince Rupert’s alleged marriage of 1664 (together with entries from 1659 to 1664) missing. So Walker may just have been tidying things up.

However, one other possibility that occurs to me is whether Walker had effectively taken possession of the curacy himself, some months before he then went to the Countess of Dysart – making this an attempt to rewrite history so as to appear that he had gone to the Countess of Dysart as soon as possible? I have got quite used to Walker’s narrative of his own life being somewhat different to what actually seems to have happened, so would not put it past him, but I would welcome any thoughts.

Starting again

Four years ago I started writing a book: a biography of the seventeenth-century ironmonger, preacher, bookseller, pamphleteer and newsbook editor Henry Walker. I had done most of the research, and finished writing up the early chapters (the first three are now on my academia.edu page, if you want to read them). And then real life intervened, and I ground to a halt, and the book has sat unfinished on my hard drive for two years. My resolution this year is to start writing it again.

To help me stick to that resolution, I am going to try blogging about my progress. Every week from now on, I will aim to post an update about how I am getting on. It might be a summary of what I’ve done that week, it might focus on a particular source I’m working on, a particular text or protagonist I’m researching, or it might just be an excuse for why I haven’t done anything. But I will try to post something every week or so, even if it’s just a paragraph or two. This first post is about beginnings and ends.

How does one start – or in my case, re-start – the process of writing a book? Four years ago I did it according to the textbook: planning and plotting out each chapter based on my research, and then starting at the beginning of Walker’s life with his baptism in All Saints, Derby on 1 March 1612. I got as far as 1641 before I stopped.

Returning to the draft, though, I have had to confront an enormous mental block about picking up where I left off. Nobody really knew much about Walker’s life before the 1640s before I started researching him: the most that had been found was records of his time as an apprentice ironmonger in the late 1620s and early 1630s. I have found a lot more, but inevitably there are gaps that I have had to fill in through educated guesses and speculation. Writing up Walker’s early life, I didn’t have existing accounts to consider or react against. From 1641 onwards, however, Walker starts selling and publishing pamphlets, and becomes much more visible in the historical record. Many historians, from the the early twentieth century onwards, have written about Walker’s career from the outbreak of the civil war and onwards.

So picking up the draft chronologically where I’ve left off feels quite daunting – stepping into well-trodden ground where there is huge amounts of primary source material that has been picked over in secondary sources. Not having written anything for two years, I’ve found it hard to dive straight back in just at the point where it is hardest to say something new or original.

Instead I’ve chosen to begin at the end. According to his ODNB entry, in the early 1660s Walker more or less disappears from the historical record. After lots of digging, I have been able to reconstruct a skeleton framework for the last twenty years of his life:

  • 1667 – appointed curate of Petersham chapel.
  • 1671 – Henry’s wife, Mary, dies and is taken back to St Giles Cripplegate (where they had first lived when married) to be buried.
  • 1674/75 – is warden of the yeomanry of the Ironmongers’ Company.
  • 1681 – gives a copy of Andrew Willet’s Synopsis Papismi (1634) to the Ironmongers’ Company.
  • 1687 – dies of the stone and is buried in St Giles Cripplegate.

If I was updating Walker’s entry in the ODNB I would simply list these events, and that would be that. But that is hardly enough for a chapter in a full biography that is meant to be an epilogue to Walker’s life. So I am having to resort to other means to fill in the blanks – by reading the parish registers to get a sense of the rhythm of Walker’s job, by reading the court book for the Ironmongers’ Company to see what dinners he attended and when he was fined for non-attendance, and by reconstructing what his grown-up daughters were doing by this point from mentions in his will.

None of it quite adds up to a substantive chapter, at least not compared to what I will end up writing about Walker’s career in the 1640s and 1650s. At best it is a process of writing someone’s life by reconstructing the milieu in which they lived and hoping it leaves a subject-shaped gap; at worst it is simple speculation. But it does give me a gentler way in to re-starting the process of writing, with some small, manageable chunks of drafting that aren’t too scary. So I am beginning at the end, hoping that the act of going backwards is what will ultimately send me in the right direction.

Books with names but no bodies

In recent days I have been enjoying Adam Smyth and Gill Partington’s edition of Critical Quarterly on missing texts. As the title of their introduction asks, what is the material history of books with names but no bodies?

As it happens there is one particular book for whose body I have been searching recently: To Your Tents, O Israel by Henry Walker. The events which prompted its writing are well-known: on 4 January 1642, Charles I had made famous attempt to arrest five leading opponents in the House of Commons: arriving at Parliament only to find, in his own words, that ‘all the birds are flown’. Charles was determined to track down the rogue MPs, and believing that they were still in hiding in the capital, he decided to confront the Corporation of the City of London.

At about ten o’clock the following, Charles was taken by coach up the Strand towards the Guildhall. By the time he got there, a substantial crowd had assembled to meet him. After addressing the Corporation, Charles dined with London’s Sheriff, George Garrett, at his house in Aldermanbury Street next door. After their lunch was finished, he emerged and made his way back to his carriage. At this point the crowd surged and shouts went up of ‘privilege of Parliament’. This was the moment that Henry Walker, a 29-year old ironmonger turned writer and bookseller decided to throw a self-penned text into Charles’s coach.

The text has become known as To Your Tents, O Israel because of the passage in scripture it is supposed to have alluded to: 1 Kings 12:16, which told the story of King Rehoboam’s tyrannical rule over Israel. Rehoboam was a tyrant who imposed heavy taxes and harsh punishments on his people. In response, the ten northern tribes of Israel rebelled and formed their own nation. In alluding to these events, Walker was making a fairly heavy handed comparison to the extra-Parliamentary taxation that Charles had introduced under his period of Personal Rule in the 1630s.

However, it’s not actually clear if To Your Tents, O Israel was the title, or even if the text had a title. Nor is it clear what form the text took. It is described variously in contemporary accounts as a “Pamphlet”, “Petition”, “Paper” and “Sermon”. No copies survive and it’s not clear how many were made. We do know, though, that it was printed rather than hand-written. The only direct account we have of the text’s production is by a hostile witness, John Taylor:

He plotted and contrived with a Printer, the said night before to write and print a perrillous Petition to his Majesty, and borrowed the Printers wives Bible, out of which he tooke his Theame out of the first of Kings, Chap, 12. ver. 16 part of the verse; To your Tents O Israel. There was writing and printing all night, and all the next day those Libels were scattered, and when his Majesty had dined, and had taken Coach to returne to White-Hall, Walker stood watching the Kings comming by amongst the Drapers in Pauls Church-yard, and having one of his Pamphlets in his hand meaning to have delivered it to his Majesty, but could not come at him by reason of the presse of People, insomuch as Walker (most impudently sawcy) threw it over the folkes heads into his Majesties Coach.

John Taylor, The whole life and progresse of Henry Walker the ironmonger, E.154[29].

However, details in this account can be checked and verified. The printer was Thomas Payne, whose shop at the sign of the sugar loaf in Goldsmith’s Alley was a stone’s throw from Walker’s establishment in Butler’s Alley in St Giles Cripplegate. It was Payne who, having thought better of his role, shopped Walker to the authorities. In 1650 he received a belated reward of £20 from the Commonwealth’s Council of State ‘‘as a gratuity for his sufferings by printing a book for the cause of Parliament, written by Mr. Walker”. So it does seem clear that the text was in printed form, although it whether it was a book or a sheet is open to question. And it was written and printed overnight, which suggests it cannot have been that long or had a significant print run.

Something which may help resolve the question of what form of printed text it was is a reference two and a half years later in another of Walker’s works: an edition of his newsbook Perfect Occurrences for 30 August to 6 September 1644. At this point Walker was not acknowledging himself as the author of Perfect Occurrences, hence the references in the third-person:

Here followeth a true copie of Master Walkers petition to the king, for which he suffered.

To the Kings most Excellent Majestie.

Humbly beseecheth that your most Excellent Majestie, would be graciously pleased to meditate on that place of Scripture written, 1 Kings. 12. 15. 16. Wherfore the King hearkned not unto his people, for the cause was from the Lord, that he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake by Ahijah the Shulanite, unto Jeroboam, the Son of Nebat, So when Israel saw that the King hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king saying, what portion have we in David, Neither have wee portion in the son of lesse: To your tents O Israel, now see to thine own, &c. The Lord blesse guide and direct your gratious Majestie, and encrease the number of your faithfull loyall Subjects. Amen.

Perfect Occurrences, 30th August-6th September 1644, E.254[28].

So if we can trust Walker’s reprint, it seems that the text was more akin to a printed version of the manuscript petitions that were common for the king and Parliament to receive at the time. And a text of this length would barely take up half a side of quarto, so it seems unlikely that it was a pamphlet or other book: more likely, a single sheet with some copies taken to distribute to the crowd or paste up on walls, and which Walker was fortunate enough to have the chance to thrust upon Charles.

And so this particular missing text is perhaps not as missing as it seems. A version of it turned up, and is still extant, in a later text – and even if it is a summary or rewrite of the original, it does give some suggestions about what the text said and what form it took. Similarly, an apparently unreliable account in a work by one of Walker’s enemies turns out, when checked against other evidence of the London print trade, to have more in it than first appears. There is something quite satisfying about the fact that it is the material traces of other texts that allows at least a partial reconstruction of another text.

Intractable

In four years of burrowing through the Thomason Tracts I thought I’d got used to George Thomason’s handwriting. This particular annotation, however, has stumped me slightly: both in terms of what it says and how to decipher it. It’s from the newsbook Perfect Occurrences of Parliament, for 15-22 November 1644.

This is what I think it says:

The author of this is Walker the Ironmonger

Who hath Wm Laud’s license to preach. Witness

John Partridge & others this 22 June.

I think this is the right transcription. The William Laud part certainly makes sense: in 1640 Walker was ordained a deacon by Laud, or at least by one of Laud’s chaplains. But why has Thomason got John Partridge – a fellow bookseller (not the astrologer of the same name, who was only born in 1644) – and others to witness it? He had scrawled much the same on a publication of Walker’s in early 1641 without feeling the need to get another person to verify it. And why the reference to 22 June given the pamphlet was published on 22 November – or could it actually say 22 Nov?

Another marginalia mystery related to Perfect Occurrences that I am trying to solve is related to its author(s). The Edwardian historian J. G. Muddiman attributed it to the antinomian preacher John Saltmarsh, citing a marginal note by Thomason. He argued that Walker only took over in 1647, when his pseudonym Luke Harruney appeared on the colophon. But as with most of Muddiman’s assertions, he doesn’t provide a citation for this. As a result, I can’t find the marginal note.

Much more recently, Carolyn Nelson and Matthew Seccombe – seemingly drawing on Muddiman – attributed the title to Saltmarsh and Walker in their short-title catalogue of newsbooks. Joad Raymond has subsequently mentioned that Saltmarsh might have had a hand in the publication – although implying heavily that Walker was the lead – and referenced Thomason’s copy of a very early edition of Occurrences from 5 April 1644. Is this the marginalia Muddiman mentions? But having looked at this on EEBO there are no annotations on it (at least none that I can make out). And the text itself doesn’t mention anything about the author. I am not sure whether it is the quality of the scan making Thomason’s scrawls illegible, an incorrect footnote, or something else.

Given Thomason’s marginalia above, and other self-aggrandising references to Walker in the paper from 1644, it seems pretty clear to me that Walker was involved with it from early on in its life, not just from 1647. And Saltmarsh seems a strange candidate for editor. In 1644 he was preaching in Northampton then became vicar of Cranbook in Kent. Quite how this gave him time or the capacity to edit a London newsbook is unclear to me. There is also the fact that in 1644 and 1645, Saltmarsh’s occasional religious pamphlets were published by Giles Calvert, not by Andrew and Jane Coe, the early publishers of Occurrences.

Tongue of Saye

In the summer of 1641 the poet and waterman John Taylor wrote a polemical pamphlet called A Reply as true as Steele attacking Henry Walker, in which he claimed Walker spoke with the:

Tongue of Saye.

Given the context – Taylor was attacking Walker for his anti-episcopal brand of puritanism – one might conclude that this is a reference to Viscount Saye and Sele, the éminence grise of the Warwick-Pym faction in Parliament. By the mid-1640s Walker had attached himself to Saye and the rest of the Independent part, and at least one historian has suggested that this is an early reference to that.

However, a closer look at the context of Taylor’s accusation suggests another possible interpretation. These are the lines in which the accusation appears:

Yet thou, (well skild in foolish impudence)
‘Gainst these retorting lines will take offence
And with Mockado mouth and judgement Rash,
And tongue of Saye , thou’lt say all is but trash,
And that ’tis pitty, I should thus disperse
A businesse of such consequence in verse.

The words in italics (Taylor’s/the printer’s, not mine) are all different forms of cloth. Mockado is a woollen imitation of velvet, introduced to England from Flanders in the mid-sixteenth century. Its roughness quickly made it a pseudonym for anything of inferior quality. Rash was a term for a wide range of wool or silk products, usually of a twill weave. And saye was another form of twill, woven in the south-west of England. Samuel Pepys bought a pair of green saye curtains for his parlour in June 1661.

So Taylor here is using Saye as part of an extended metaphor to criticise Walker’s literary credentials. Never one to resist blowing his own trumpet, he is probably also showing off his own cultural capital. In Measure for Measure the clown briefly mentions a character called Master Rash who is a money-lender. John Donne had also played upon this metaphor in one of his Satires:

Sir by your priesthood tell me what ye are!
His clothes were strange though coarse and black though bare
Sleeveless his jerkin was and it had been
Velvet but twas now (so much ground was seen)
Become tuff-taffety and our children shall
See it plain rash awhile then nought at all.

Still, it’s possible that the double meaning of the word may have had resonance with contemporaries as an insult. And as it happens I have found some evidence to suggest Henry Walker may have been linked to some of Saye’s fellow-travellers, if not Saye himself, as early as 1641. During the first half of that year two members of the Cheshire gentry, Sir Thomas Aston and Sir William Brereton, traded blows with each other via a series of petitions to Parliament.The quarrel was started by the root and branch petition put together by Calvin Bruen and others for Cheshire over the Christmas of 1640, and submitted to the Commons by Brereton on 19 February 1641.

Aston was incensed by the petition and mobilised signatures for his own petition to the Lords in favour of episcopacy, which he submitted on 27 February. A printed version was also published. At some point around the end of March or the start of April, a counter-petition emerged also claiming to be from Cheshire, but criticising episcopacy. This too was published: “many thousands” of copies according to Ashton later on in the year, although it was perhaps in his interest to exaggerate its impact and a print run in the hundreds seems more likely. According to Judith Maltby the counter-petition was orchestrated by Aston’s rival, William Brereton (although she doesn’t reference this). It was also a fake: it hadn’t been anywhere near the county of Cheshire and seems to have been intended instead as a tactical riposte to Aston’s pamphlet for a London audience.

As fakes go, it was a good one though. The printed version of the counter-petition was printed on the same size paper (as a broadside), and laid out in the same style with the same starting woodcut initial. However an alert reader might have concluded something was up when they read the numbers of signatories to each petition. Here are the signatories to Aston’s petition:

This petition was subscribed to by four noblemen, 80 and odd knights and esquires, 70 divines, 300 and odd gentlemen, and above 6,000 freeholders and other inhabitants.

And here are the signatories to Brereton’s:

This petition was subscribed to by eight noblemen, 199 knights and esquires, 140 divines, 757 gentlemen, and above 12,000 freeholders, and other inhabitants.

As you can see most of the figures have just been doubled to make a point.

The story of this exchange, and how it subsequently developed, was first told by John Morrill in his monograph on Cheshire and then developed by Maltby, who sees Aston’s petition as an example of prayer-book Anglicanism rising up to counter the growing anti-episcopal tendencies within Parliament. A classic example of the growth of a royalist opposition, then. But this account has subsequently been subject to an important revision by Peter Lake, who argues that Aston actually showed Laudian tendencies during the 1630s. He argues instead that Aston was trying to rally a wide spectrum of religious positions behind an inclusive definition of episcopal Anglicanism, to marginalise the hotter sort of Puritans such as Brereton.

However what none of the accounts mention is Henry Walker’s involvement with Brereton’s counter-petition. On 2 April Aston petitioned the Lords to complain about Brereton’s fake petition, and calling for justice on those involved in its circulation:

After this, a Petition of Sir Tho. Aston’s was read, in the Behalf of the County Palatine of Chester, against a Printed Petition, dispersed abroad as a Libel, in the Name of that County, which was supposed to be made by one Henry Walker, and sold by divers Stationers, and dispersed by others, whose Names were annexed unto the Petition; whereupon it was Ordered, That Henry Walker, Henry Hoode, Bankes, Thomas Bates, John Harrison, Bernard Alsop, and Tho. Fossett, be sent for, by the Gentleman Usher attending this House, to appear and answer the said Fact.

Six days later a number of these printers and booksellers named were brought to justice:

Ordered, That such of the Printers and Stationers, that were sent for upon the Complaint of Sir Thomas Aston, Baronet, and are charged in particular to have Hand in the libellous Petition, are to go upon reasonable Bail; and the Matter is referred to the Committee for examining the Printing of Libels, etc. But such of those that are not charged, are presently to be released out of the Custody of the Gentleman Usher.

What’s interesting about this is the number of people involved. Walker appears to have been the writer of the petition. At this point in 1641 he was drifting into writing and selling anti-episcopal books. Bankes (Thomas Banks) and Bates were two booksellers who were partners together. Walker’s books occasionally appeared in their stocks during the first half of 1641, although he seems to have had a quarrel with Bates later in the year while the pair were in prison for another offence. Harrison and Hoode are two other booksellers. Alsop and Fawcett were both printing partners about whom I’ve blogged previously, who would frequently be in trouble with the Long Parliament during 1641 and who printed many of Walker’s books in the same year.

So we have four booksellers distributing the fake petition. This is unusual: it could suggest a high print-run that needed to be dispersed quickly; or an attempt to share the blame if things went wrong; or something else entirely. And it’s equally unclear how they all came to be involved. Were they in it for the money? The flurry of petitions arriving at Parliament in the spring of 1641 may have meant this kind of product was particularly marketable. Or were their motives more political? Aston’s distinction between some of the stationers selling the petition, and others dispersing it, may mean some of them were giving it away. They would presumably have been funded to do so: either from their own money, suggesting strong political views, or by others who wanted to get this petition circulated as widely as possible.

Like most case studies of this type, we can ultimately only guess at what happened. But read in one way, it is possible that this is an early example of politicians making use of networks of stationers to get their messages out to a wider audience. Perhaps Brereton commissioned Walker directly to write the petition, recompensing him in return, and Walker in turn used his contacts in the book trade to get the pamphlet distributed quickly. Or perhaps it represents a more popular form of politics: Brereton only seems to have become associated with the counter-petition because of his rivalry and subsequent exchanges with Aston. If Walker was the instigator, it becomes instead an example of a relatively obscure individual, at home with underground religious and print networks, participating actively in a propaganda war. Either possibility is intriguing.

  • omas Aston’s original petition in favour of episcopacy read in the Lords.
  • Unknown date – Henry Walker’s fake petition against episcopacy.
  • Unknown date – Aston produced his own petition, not circulated in the county. Is this the same as the critique of Walker et al?
  • 2 April – Sir Thomas Aston’s petition against Walker’s libel. House adjourned into Committee but let him off after he explained himself.
  • 19 April – petition of Calvin Bruen and others. Is this the Attestation? Refers back to another petition presented by William Brereton – but presumably this is the root and branch one?
  • Unknown date – Aston drafted an answer to the Attestation.
  • Unknown date – 43 gentry wrote a letter of support for Aston.
  • November 1641 – Remonstrance against Presbytery.
  • Unknown date – An Humble Remonstrance (E.178[4]) was the response.

Take the Milk of a red Cow

If you had bought a copy of the newsbook Severall Proceedings on Thursday 1 February 1655, you would have found this advert on pages two, three and four. Its format and style is remarkably similar to advertorials in today’s newspapers.

I am desired to insert this following Advertisement for a generall good, by Mr Nathaniel Holeday.

Upon my thoughts touching the Small Pox, of which now many sicken and dye, and I having had experience for this 20 years, I discover this meerly for the publique good, and question not of using the means, as you love your life, though they seem never so weak, neither bee disswaded by the perswasion of others. Yet let not any put confidence in the means though never so probable, without seeking unto the Lord for a blessing.

The Causes of the Small Pox.

They are caused by overcharging the Stomack with meat, which quickly corrupteth there, or by too much bad blood.

Signes of the Small Pox.

Pain of the back, Itch of ears and Nose, pricking of the whole body, rednesse of Face and eyes, and somewhat swelling, and very sleepy, untill they bee out.

Remedies for this disease, before they come forth.

1 Let there bee a publique, or at least private humiliation, generally through the whole City, This (as far as we know) may bee but a warning peece from the Lord in mercy, to warn you and us of a greater judgement. If wee are not bettered by this gracious Visitation of Tryall, and this is Gods usuall course which hee hath formerly taken with his people, whom he loves, Amos 4. from vers. 6, to verse 12. But if neither you nor wee mend not this, fear left (the Plague) a worse thing come among you, and seize upon you. Yet if you humble you truly, you have a Promise 2 Chron 12.7.

2 Although I hope there are none of such a wicked spirit as Ahaziah had, 2 Kings 1.2. Yet take heed wee are not of the mind of Asa, that wee seek not to, nor look not upon the Phisitians or physick, rather, or more than unto God.

3 Now at this time a good order of diet is to be observed.

4 None ought to eate till hee feel and find his former meat digested.

5 Go not abroad into the City with an empty stomack, but first eate and drink.

Excellent Medicines to bring forth the small Pocks.

Take the Milk of a red Cow, and make a posset therewith of Ale, and take the curd off clean, then take the quantity of a spoonfull of red Fenell and seeth it in the posset Ale, and strain it, then put into it, the quantity of a Nutmeg of fine Treakle, and a little Sedwel, and twopenny worth of English Saffron, mingle it well together and give it warm to drink. Or use this.

Take Milk, Saffron and Hony, and seith them well together and give it to drink. Or give it to a little child but a spoonful of sweet sack, and it will drive them out.

Means to be used while the Pocks is on them.

1 Keep the party warm, not too hot nor too cold, but in a middle temper, but be sure you keep the clothes about him that hee be not naked.

2 Put a peice of cypris about the neck, to prevent the worst there.

3 Make this broth and give it. Boyle a peice of Veal or rather a Chick or young Pullet in water, then pound some great Oatmeale finely in a morter, and strain it through a fine cloth with some of the liquor, (but put in none of the husks) then put in a small handfull of red sage, a liitle Mace, a little Saffron. Some Currans and Raysons of the Sunne, with a Nutmege slised, and when you find it well boyled, drink the Brtoh only.

A Remedy if the Pocks be all struckin, and the party be as whise as your Band, or be distracted, and so bring them out again in the space of two hours or a little more at the furthest.

If this happen unto a child fill a spoonfull of sweet Sack, & mingle with it the quantity of a pease of the best Methridate, and give a clear spoonfull of Sack after. But if it be for a middle age body or some what antient, give a halfpenny worth in the same manner as before, in their bed. This was tryed by my self upon a Knight and effected.

But if the Pocks stick in the Throat, and the party be in danger thereby, this must be used by some Friend.

Chew some Cummin Seed in your mouth, and after they are chewed, breath your breath into the mouth of the party infected, and this cures in a short time, you will find ease, in a quarter of an houre.

A Principal Oyntment for the small Pocks.

When any Colt is killed take the Gall out of him, put it upon a clean Spit and rost it, but bast it very little with new Butter without Salt, and put underneath the Spit, some clean vessel, with a good quantity of Rosewater, and let the driping fall therein; and when it is rosted dry and no moysture left therein, take the dripping and beat it well with the Rose water wherein it first dropped, and as any froth tryeth scum it off clean, and so put it into a Pot, untill you have occasion to use it, and then let the party be annoynted therewith, and this will cause all the Scabs and Scales to shel off.

Your well wished Friend N Holiday living at Mr. Habbakuk Kerbys in the Parish of Edmonton in Middlesex 17 January 1654 [Old Style dating, ie 1655].

1655 was, as the start of the advert implies, a peak year for smallpox outbreaks in London.

Sadly I don’t know much about who Nathaniel Holiday or Habbakuk Kerby are, or why they would have wanted to place this advert. I can’t find any trace of Holiday at all. There is a record in the parish register St. Andrew’s, Enfield of a Habbakuk Kerby being baptised on 31 Janauary 1618. There is also a record from St. Dunstan’s, Stepney of a Habbakuk Kerby marrying Elizabeth Lewes on 29 June 1637. If it’s the same person, Habbakuk would have been twenty, which constituted marrying young by the standards of the times but is not implausible. That would make him thirty-seven in 1655. The couple seem to have had a son, Henry, who was baptised in St. Botolph’s in June 1638. Beyond that, I’ve drawn a blank.

I also wonder how much it would have cost to place this ad. In 1649 the standard price charged by editors for a short advert of a few sentences seems to have been 6d. In 1655 Marchamont Nedham seems to have charged up to half a crown, but that was in the context of a near monopoly of the press. Nevertheless three pages out of an eight-page quarto cannot have been cheap and one wonders what Holiday’s motive was: even though he gives his address, he doesn’t seem to be selling anything directly.

The pen is mightier than the stick

As Prince Charles reflects on the recent attempt by protestors to force their way into his car, he may not realise that his namesake and ancestor had a similar encounter.

At about ten o’clock on the morning of 5 January 1642, Charles I set out from his palace at Whitehall to the Guildhall, the seat of the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London. The day before, he had made his famous, abortive attempt to arrest the Five Members: arriving at the Commons only to find, in his own words, that ‘all the birds are flown’. Believing that they were in hiding somewhere in the City, Charles’s intention was to demand that the Common Council of the Corporation assisted him in tracking down the rogue MPs.

As Charles’s carriage trundled along the Strand, up Fleet Street and towards the Guildhall, sat next to him were four members of the nobility: the Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Essex, and the Earl of Holland. One account states that a rumour spread that Charles was taking them to the Tower. At any rate, the carriage soon attracted attention, and a crowd was waiting for Charles when he arrived at the Guildhall.

Once there, he addressed members of the Council and demanded their assistance in tracking down the Five Members. John Rushworth gives this account of his speech:

Gentlemen, I am come to demand such persons as I have already accused of High Treason and do believe are shrouded in the City. I hope no good man will keep them from me; their offences are Treason and Misdemeanour of a high nature. I desire your loving assistance herein that they may be brought to a legal trial. And whereas there are divers suspicions raised that I am a favourer of the Popish Religion, I do profess in the name of a king that I did and ever will and that to the utmost of my power, be a prosecutor of all such as shall any ways oppose the laws and statutes of this kingdom, either papists or separatists; and not only so, but I will maintain defend that true Protestant Religion which my Father did profess and I will continue in it during life.

Despite leavening his words in this way, Charles got a mixed reception. Robert Slingsby, who was in the train of carriages following the king to the Guildhall, wrote this account to Sir John Pennington:

After a little pause a cry was set up amongst the Common Council, ‘Parliament! Privileges of Parliament!’, and presently another, ‘God bless the King!’; these two continued both at once a good while. I know not which was louder.

Leaving the Guildhall, Charles then dined at the house of one of the Sheriffs of London, Sir George Garrett, before emerging at about three o’clock and climbing into his carriage. As he got in, the crowd surged around the carriage, taking up the Council’s cry of ‘Privilege of Parliament’.

Amongst the crowd was Henry Walker, an ironmonger turned bookseller and pamphleteer, who over the previous twelve months had published a steady stream of anti-episcopal pamphlets. Seeing his chance, Walker pushed his way through the crowds towards the coach. He got close enough to throw a copy of a self-authored pamphlet entitled To Your Tents, O Israel into the coach. One account also states that he shouted this slogan out loud.

No copies of To Your Tents survive: few may have been printed, and those that were may have been confiscated and destroyed afterwards. But even from the title we can deduce the pamphlet’s message, which would have been obvious to any contemporary. It was a reference to 1 Kings 12:16, which tells the story of how King Rehoboam introduced heavy taxes and arbitrary punishment to Israel. The ten northern tribes of Israel rebelled and formed their own nation:

So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.

Although at his trial he tried to disown authorship of this pamphlet, saying he had bought it for 2s. 6d. from a scholar in Westminster Hall, it seems pretty clear that Walker did write it. This was not his first scandalous pamphlet. In March 1641, he was hauled before the House of Lords for publishing scurrilous verses about Lord Keeper Finch and Bishop Wren. He was imprisoned in the Fleet and only released after pleading poverty and apologising for his actions. In April, Walker and a number of booksellers and printers were summoned once again to the Lords for publishing a fake petition claiming to be from the people of Cheshire. One of them, Thomas Bates, seems to have fallen out with Walker while in custody. According to a later account by Walker, Bates borrowed his bible and pawned it to buy alcohol. Whether or not this is true, they were certainly not friends by December 1641. On the 20th of that month, Bates testified to the House of Commons that Walker was the author of another scandalous pamphlet, A terrible outcry against the loytering prelates. The Commons ordered that Walker be arrested and brought before them.

When Walker hurled his pamphlet into Charles’s carriage, then, he was a wanted man who had previous form. This may be what inspired him to be so reckless. Perhaps he was also motivated by frustrations with his inability to engage with the political process: mass petitions to Parliament from across England had not produced the political and religious settlement that the godly wanted, and the attempt on the Five Members seemed to confirm that Charles could yet revert to behaving like Rehoboam. The chance to directly petition a king who had largely withdrawn from his people during the Personal Rule may have seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

Walker’s accomplice was a printer called Thomas Payne. Eight years later, when the king was dead and the political climate had altered, Payne received a gratuity of £20 from Parliament for his role in the events. In the aftermath of Walker’s actions, however, both Payne and Walker were wanted men. As Walker’s pamphlet landed in the coach, it was picked up by the Earl of Essex, who on the next day sent for the Lord Chief Justice to track down anyone involved with it.

Both were arrested the same day. Walker stuck to his story about a mysterious encounter in Westminster Hall; but Payne seems to have known the game was up. He confessed that Walker wrote the pamphlet, and that he had used Payne’s wife’s bible as a reference. Both were sent to the King’s Bench prison in Southwark as a result. They were then scheduled to be transferred to Newgate prison and tried at the sessions. However, in an extraordinary mobilisation by sympathisers in the London crowd, they were rescued after crossing the river and landing at Blackfriars. A group descended on them, overpowered the guards and spirited them away.

From then on, Walker played a game of cat and mouse with the authorities. He was spotted at the house of a barber called Edward Fisher – who acted as a clearing-house for separatist manuscripts – but escaped. He was then discovered in a tavern called the Castle in St. Martins, but again escaped thanks to the intervention of some apprentices. Finally he was tracked down to an upholsterer’s house near the Tower of London. Running from his apprehenders, he tried to get into a boat and across the river. No watermen would take him; but the officers pursuing him did not want to risk clashing with the water bailiff’s jurisdiction. So Walker sat there until the officers fetched the Lieutenant of the Tower, after which he was chased across the river and eventually caught.

Walker then tried his best to make amends. In early May he petitioned the House of Lords, claiming that he had spent the most part of what little estate he had on funding the cost of imprisonment, and protesting that he had no ill intent to Charles I in presenting his pamphlet to him. He added that his wife, Mary, was ‘bigg wth child, and a young infant besides’.

The petition did not do him much good. On 5 July, it was ordered that he be transferred to Newgate and tried before the sessions at the Old Bailey. Luckily for Walker, though, Charles had intervened and ordered that he only be tried for a misdemeanour, and not for treason. If the latter charges had gone ahead, and Walker had been found guilty, he would have paid for his petition with his life. Instead, he got away with being sentenced to stand in the pillory in Cheapside. By March 1643 he was once again in trouble, summoned to the Lords to account for publishing a fake declaration of Parliament, and for writing a critical ‘remonstrance’ against the Commons.

I have cheated ever so slightly with the image: it does show a coach belonging to Charles I outside the Guildhall,  but is a depiction of Charles’s meeting with Marie de Medici in 1639. It is an etching by an unknown artist that was one of the illustrations in Jean Puget de la Serre’s Histoire de l’entrée de la Reyne Mère dans la Grande Brétaigne (1639). AN260314001, © The Trustees of the British Museum.