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was Alexander Belsire; the first four "scholars" were Leonard Stopes, Will. Elye, Ralph Windon, and John Bavant.* "Leonard Stopes, Priest and Fellow of St. John's, sup. for B.A. 12 Oct., 1557, adm. 23 Oct., det. 1558, sup. for M.A. 25 Nov., lic. 5 Dec., inc. and disp. 21 Mar., 155, of St. John's."†
The rapidity of his advancement is explained in Gutch's edition of Wood's History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford, 1796, vol. ii., p. 133; "There being now a great scarcity of Masters in the University, it was decreed and appointed on the 25th June, 1556, that for the space of one year to come, all the Bachelors of Art, then in the University, might take the degree of Master at two years' standing complete. . . . There was also a great scarcity of divines, as it appears in our records for 1557 and 1558."
Either before, or early in his time of residence, he must have written and printed, as a broadside, the first poem, which might almost entitle him, especially when connected with the after-events of his life, to be considered Mary's "Laureate ;" self-elected, it is true, and without stipend, or honour, or encouragement. That, nevertheless, proves all the more his good faith in praising a woman rarely praised.
An Ave Maria, in commendation of our most virtuous Queene. Imprinted at London, in Pater-noster Reaw, by Richard Lant.
God of His goodnesse, hath lent to this lande:
Full well I may liken, and boldly compare
Her highnesse, to Hester, that vertuous Queene; The envious Hamon, to kyll, is her care,
And all wicked workers, to wede them out clene.
See Wood's History and Antiquities of the Colleges of Oxford, p. 538.
+ Boase, Registrum Universitatis Oxon, vol. i., p. 234.
Of sectes and of schysmes, a riddaunce to make, Of horrible errours, and heresies all
She carckes and cares, and great trauell dooth take That vertue may flourish, and vice haue a fall.
Grace and all goodnesse, doth garnish her Grace
Our life is a warfare, the worlde is the fielde,
Her Highnes, her army, hath alwayes at hande; For Hope is her Helmet, Faith is her shielde And Loue is her breastplate, her foes to withstand.
Lorde for thy mercy, vouchsafe to defende
Her Grace from all griefes, and dredfull distresse Whom Thou hast vouchsafed so frendly to sende Our maners to mende, our deedes to redresse.
Is not this Ilande, of duty most bounde,
To pray for her Highnesse, most prosperous state By whom, all our enmies be cast to the grounde Exilyng all errour, all strife and debate.
With wisdome, her wisdome, most witty and wise Most wisely dooth welde us, in wele and in wo, In rest to rule us, this dooth she devise
In grace and in goodnesse, with vertue also.
Thee humbly we honour, most mercifull Lorde, Beseechyng thy goodnesse, to graunt us thy grace That we, in faith, as one may accorde,
All vices exiled, may vertue embrace.
Who of his mere mercy, hath lent to this lande,
Art thou not ashamed, thou caitif unkynde
To whisper, to whymper, with traitourous tene, To mutter, to mourmure, with mischievous mynd Against thy so lovyng, and gracious a Quene?
THOU Thou wishest and woldest: But all is in vayne (God dooth abhorre) to thinke in thy harte; Or speake in secrete, of them that doo raigne: The birdes wyll bewrai thee: to prat is thy parte.
Among al the scriptures, wher hast thou but sene
The murmurers punishte and neuer had their wyll Agaynst their heade: our sovereigne Queene Whose grace, I pray God, preserue from all yll.
Coventry, I could hardly have understood how anyone could honestly have written thus. But the womanhood in that face seemed to reveal a true soul buried under the hardness, engendered by years of oppression and conflict and disaster, and by her intense belief in the religion of her mother and her youth. Therefore to a young man, of the same religion, preparing for Holy Orders, ardent in faith like her, and willing to brave all for it, there is possible honesty and faith in this address to the Queen of his Country, thus associated with the Queen of Heaven.
"On December 5, 1558, Leonard Stopes took his degree of Master of Arts in Oxford; but in the year following, refusing to conform, he either resigned or was ejected, and going beyond the seas, to Douay in the first instance, he was ordained priest, much about the same time that Ralph Windon, another ejected fellow of that house, was also ordained. He returned to England on a religious mission with Ralph Windon, his fellow-student. They were taken and committed to custody in Wisbeach Castle, Cambridgeshire, where they, with others of the like character, endured a tedious imprisonment of many years, and were, therefore, accounted by those of their own persuasion as confessors. One of his fellow-students was Edmund Campion, afterwards the famous Jesuit; and one of his fellow-exiles was William Allen, of Oriel, the founder of the English College at Douay, and the noted English Cardinal. There is little known of his later life. From St. John's College, John Bavant, Ralph Wendon, Leonard Stopes and Henry Shaw, Masters of Arts and Fellows, were turned out or voluntarily left their places, all which, being made Catholic priests, were seized and imprisoned at Wisbeach in Cambridgeshire. What was the end of them, beyond exile, I know not.”*
Dodd seems in error, when, repeating this fact, he says of him, "refusing to conform, the 1st of Elizabeth he was deprived. Afterwards going over to the English College of Douay, he was ordained priest, and returned upon the mission." (Dodd's Lives of Elizabethan Clergymen, Book II., art. iv., p. 87, with note referring to Douay Diary.) But from Knox's transcript of the Douay Diary,
* Wood's Annals of Oxford University, ed. Gutch, 1796, Book I., p. 145.
I find that the English College was not then in existence. It was founded by Allen in 1568, and I see no reference to any of the name either in the first or second part. Therefore, Leonard must have been ordained from a French College at Douay, probably Her perfecte life in all extremes, her pacient hert dyd St. Peter's, whose papers were destroyed during the Revolution of 1789.
Now in the same volume of Broadsides, bound together and preserved by the Society of Antiquaries, there is another, printed later by the same printer, though at another address. It is unsigned, but the general style, a few of the phrases, and the audacity that ventured to glorify Mary after the accession of Elizabeth, and to praise Elizabeth only in so far as she resembled Mary, is sufficient to suggest that it might be by Leonard Stopes, especially when connected with the significant events of his after life. It was quite natural and likely for him to write as follows:
The Epitaphe upon the Death of the Most
Augmented by the first author.
Vayne is the blisse, and brittle is the glasse, of worldly wished welth
The steppes unstayde, the life unsure, of lastyng hoped helth
Witnes (alas) may Marie be, late Quene of rare
Whose body dead, her virtues live, and doth her fame
In whome such golden giftes were grafte, of nature
As when the tongue dyd ceasse to say, yet vertue spake
What vice is there, that can be sayde, wherein she had delight.
She neuer closde her eare to heare, the righteous man distrest
Nor neuer sparde her hande to helpe, wher wrong or
power opprest. When all was wracke, she was the porte, from peryll unto joye.
When all was spoylle, she spared all, she pitied to destroye.
How many noble men restorde, and other states also Well shewed her princely liberall hert, which gaue both friend and fo.
Where conscience was, or pitie moved, or juste desertes did craue
For justice sake, all worldy thynges, she used as her slaue.
As princely was her birth, so Princely was her life
And all her care she cast on him, who forst her foes
For in this worlde she neuer founde, but dolfull dayes and woe.
All worldly pompe she set at nought, to praye was her delight.
A Martha in her Kyngdemes charge, a Mary named aright,
She conquered death in perfect life, and feared not She liued to dye, and dyed to liue, with constant his darte:
Her restles ship of toil and care, these worldly wracks
And safe arrives the heavenly porte, escapt from
These eyes no earthly syght shall see, and so lefte light
O mirrour of all womanhed, O Queene of vertues pure,
O constant Marie filde with grace, no age can thee obscure,
Thyne end hath set thee free, from tongues of fickle
I have not been able to find the date or place of his death, or whether he wrote any more poems. We have in our possession a beautiful Sarum Missal (once among the treasures of Messrs. Quaritch), which has his name written in a delicate clear hand on the right upper corner of the titlepage, "Leonardus Stopæus." This edition was that of 1555, published partly in Paris and partly in Old Sarum, and is a rare specimen of the printer's art. There are two volumes, which have been unfortunately rebound within this century in modern good morocco, and the margins cut too close.
Under the date of the Missal there is a scrawling signature "Jacobus Stopes," that of the brother of Leonard; and on the flyleaf and margins of the first part are many marginal notes in an Elizabethan hand, some of which are cut in the rebinding.
There are not many public records of his family, but as early as 1380 there were monks of the name in Britwell Priory in Oxfordshire. Richard Stopes was probably an uncle of Leonard's. Another of the name, a senior, yet a contemporary, resembling him in his attachment to the old faith, might have been his uncle or elder brother; Robert Stopes, the prebendary of Sneating, called by Strype, in error, John.
Stopes, or Stoppes, Robert, sup. for B.A. 30 May, 1537, mar. 1537-8, adm. 8 April, det. 1539, sup. for M.A. May, 1545, lic. 1545, inc. 8 Feb., 1545-6." (Boase, Reg. Univ. Oxford, vol. i., p. 188.)
"Prebendaries of St. Paul's. . . . Robert Stopes, A. M. 10th Oct., 1556, vice John Wymmesley, deceased, 28th Dec., 1559. David Pade, vice Stopes, deceased. (Register, Bonner, G. 468.)
"The visitation of St. Paul's began on 11th August, 1559. The Commissioners sat at St. Paul's again on November 3. Then Richard Marshall, Will Murmure, John Murren, John Stopes, not appearing, and not satisfying the Royal Commission, they pronounced them contumacious, and deprived them of their prebends by sentence definitive. (Strype's Annals of the Reformation under Queen Elizabeth, vol. i. 253.)
In December 7, 1521, 13 Henry VIII., among the "Batchelors of Divinity" in St. Bernard's College, Oxford, is entered "Richard Stoppys or Stopes," afterwards Abbot of Meaux or Melsa, in Yorkshire.*
Boase, Registrum Universitatis Oxon, vol. i., p. 119: "Richard Stopys, Cistercian, sup. for B.D. 9 May, 1521, adm. to oppose, 9 July, B.D. 7 Dec." And in the Athenæ Oxoniensis, "Batchelors of Divinity, 7th December, 1521, 13 Hen. VIII. Richard Stopys or Stopes, Abbot of Meaux or Melsa, in Yorkshire, of the Cistercian Order, now studying in St. Bernard's College."
The Chronica de Melsa, written by Thomas Burton, the Abbot, gives the history from the foundation of the Abbey, in the deanery of Holderness, and the archdeaconry of the East Riding of Yorkshire, in 1150, and gives the lives of the Abbots down to 1406. This has been edited and printed by Mr. Bond, of the British Museum. In Dugdale's Monasticon Anglicanum, vol. v., p. 388, we find that by the 26th Henry VIII. "Richard Stolpes was Abbot." He returned the "Valor Ecclesiasticus of the Abbey to Henry as £299 6s. 41d., after all expenses paid. This duty seemed to have been too much for him, for in the 31st Henry VIII. it was not he, but Richard Draper, who received the retiring annual pension of £40, when each of the Presbyters received £6.
Leonard Stopes, poet and priest, was probably of the Hertfordshire branch of the family. On March 21, 1546-47,† we have an entry of the marriage of his brother, James Stoppys or Stopes, to Margery Nuce, of the city of London. The Newces had made their money as goldsmiths, and settled in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, where they became distinguished. The earliest parish
* Wood's Fasti, B. I. 56.
+ See Chester's Marriage Licenses of the City of London.
registers of Much Hadham show that the Stopes family "also lived there, and that this pair had children born to them," James Stopes, gentleman, "dying on October 31, 1572." Among the baptisms, August 11, 1588, appears the name "Leonard, the sonne of John Stopes," showing it was a family name. James Stopes and Margery Newce seem to have had a large family, and of their son James there is one point worth noting in connection with Tudor history. He was a clergyman in London of the Reformed Faith in the church of St. Mary Magdalene, Old Fishe Street, London, where he was inducted October 4, 1577. There he seemed to have been much liked. He was probably the father of Katherine Stopes, who married William Neile, Registrar or Chapter Clerk at Westminster, and brother of the most Reverend Richard, Archbishop of York. She was buried in the cloisters of Westminster, August 5, 1620. (See Chester's Registers of Westminster Abbey.) There was also a Mary Stopes, who on September 20, 1613, married Richard Morgan by licence, in St. Mary le Strand, London. (See Selby's Genealogist, new series, vol. iv., p. 108.) But we are certain that he had a son John, and that through him is continued the history of the family. In the possession of Mr. Willett, the well-known collector in Brighton, is a cup, made of a silver-mounted ostrich egg, with stand, mount, lid, and flag of silver-gilt, hallmarked, 1621, a beautiful specimen of work of the period. It bears the inscription: "This Cupp was given to Mr. John Stopes, our Parsonn's Sonne, by the Parishioners of the Parish of St. Mary Magdalene, in or neere Olde Fish Streete, London, for his painestakinge with us by his often preaching with us, hoping that he will so friendly accept it, as we most frankly and willingly meane it. The first day of January, 1623." On the Flag topping the cup are these words: "On the 4th of October, 1577, Mr. James Stopes came to be our Parson." On the reverse a crucifix, a kneeling woman, with a pot of ointment in front of her, a rock behind her, a building in the background, and "M. Magdalene" in writing over the woman's head. This James Stopes, therefore, had officiated in that modest edifice throughout more than the whole of the Shakespearian
period. The gift was evidently presented on the son's departure for the living of Crowell, in Oxfordshire, though it took some time in making. From the Register of Crowell, we know that he married twice-first, the little Judith Squire, mentioned in the will of Bishop Aylmer (his granddaughter, and niece of Theophilus Aylmer, the Rector of Much Hadham); and that he had a large family by her. In 1639 he christened Thomas Ellwood, afterwards the Quaker, and friend of Milton. He has a good many entries in connection with the Civil War, and two memorandaone of his bequest to the poor of four acres, still called "The Poor's Field," and one of another bequest of sixty-three acres, which has disappeared, but which might be restored by a thorough investigation. His daughter Rebecca presented, in 1637, the silver communion chalice, still used in the church. A handsome tombstone was designed for him by his son James, on his death in 1666, but was removed on the restoration of the church in 1877, and has since disappeared. Fortunately the words were copied before the removal. For up till then we could find “the following inscription on the stone that lyeth under the Chancel gate opposite the communion-table in the parish church of Crowell, in Oxfordshire: Here lyeth the body of John Stopes, which came to be parson of this parish of Crowell in the year of our Lord 1621, being the 8th day of May. He was eighty-four years of age the 7th last past 1666. And of his wife Judith, daughter of Adam Squires, D.D., and of his wife Judith, daughter of John Aylmer, Bishop of London. He begat three sons and four daughters; he survived them all except James." "
We have a square old calf-bound Bible, with double silver clasps of the period, belonging to this James Stopes, "clerk," "* and giving his pedigree, dating his marriage to Mrs. Anne Marriott on April 2, 1650. Ever since the marriage of John, to the granddaughter of Bishop Aylmer, Judith has been a name among the daughters, and Aylmer a Christian name among the sons of the family, taking the place once held by "Leonard." None of the race have shown any tendency to produce poetry. In Dodd's Church History
* See Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, 1880, p. 123.