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Acceded March 27, 1625;-Murdered January 20, 1648-7.
THIS Monarch, as Lord Clarendon observes, kept state to the full, which CHARLES I. made his court very orderly, and had not the subsequent civil war broken out, his Majesty would have restored the College to all its ancient rites. In this, the Earl of Arundel, Earl Marshal, would, with great satisfaction, have coincided; for that nobleman was a great patron to decayed gentry, and his love for antiquity, and every thing relative to it, is too universally known to be here mentioned. He, like his Royal Master, was every way attentive to what concerned the ancient families, and his enemies have alleged, at the expense of the yeomanry and commonalty. Except this, and a common love for the fine arts, no characters were less accommodating, than the Monarch and the Peer; for before the unhappy war broke: out, they separated in mutual disgust, and never again saw each other..
The Earl of Arundel and Surrey gave his warrant, April 30, 1625, to the clerk of the signet, for new tabards for each of the members of the College; and also to the master of the wardrobe to deliver to the officers of arms, as well such coats as have been accustomed, as also other parcels of stuffs for their liveries, because they were appointed to attend his Majesty to Dover; dated May 10, 1625. His Majesty also gave his warrant for allowances of conduct-money to the kings, heralds, and pursuivants at arms, when attending him in his journey to Dover, to meet the Queen. King Charles gave another warrant, for payment to the officers of the College their fees, relative to his father's funeral; his own marriage, the Queen's, I suppose by proxy, in France; his installment as Sovereign of the Garter; the installment of the Dukes of Brunswick and Cheveux, as knights of the order; and his largess, for the creation of one baron, one viscount, and eight earls, and for several robes allowed to them at the coronation; given May 30, anno regni 2. i. e. 1626.
The long peace England had been blessed with, brought vast wealth into the kingdom; and from the commencement of Elizabeth's reign, there had gradually been rising a middle class of people in the kingdom, who, from their property, were extremely respectable. Charles, unhappily for himself and all his subjects, did not sufficiently study to cultivate their good opinion; though he strove to enlarge the commerce of his dominions, yet wished to see no distinction whatever enjoyed by these peaceable and industrious people, not considering that the great stimulus to industry, is to acquire consequence in the state, and be enabled to display the effects of their prudence, industry, and knowledge. These are encouragements to others to pursue their steps. Though Charles only copied the precedents of his predecessors in what related to arms, yet this became very unpopular. He did not make allowances for the riches of the middle rank of his subjects: riches acquired by commerce. The merchant, the opulent tradesman, viewed with disgust such a commission as this to Sir Richard St. George, knight, Clarenceux, and Sir John Borough, knight, Norroy, the provincial kings at arms, to authorize them to visit their several provinces, with permission to examine, by day, all churches, castles, houses, and other places, at their discretion, that they might peruse and take knowledge, survey, and view all manner of arms, cognizances, crests, and other devices of arms, of all whomsoever, whether individuals or bodies politic, and to enroll the same; or if faulty, to take down and deface the same, whether in coat arms, helme, standards, penons, and hatchments, of tents and pavilions, as also in plate, jewels, paper, parchment, windows, grave-stones, and monuments, or elsewhere, wheresoever they were set or placed, whether they were in shield, escotchion, lozenge, square, cundell, or otherwise howsoever, contrary to the antiquity and ancient custom, rules, privilege, and orders of arms. These kings at arms had also liberty to reprove, control, and make infamous, by proclamation at the assizes, or general session, all that have taken, or usurped upon themselves the title of esquire, gentleman, or otherwise. Also to reform and control any funerals or interments, to see that none should use or wear any mourning apparel, as gowns, hoods, tippets, or such like, contrary to the order limited and prescribed in the time of the right noble Prince, Henry VII., otherwise, or in any other sort, than to their estates and degrees did, or should appertain. They were likewise to see, that none had
any pall of velvet at their funerals without their license; nor were they CHARLES I to suffer any painter, glazier, goldsmith, graver, or other artificer to paint, engrave, glaze, devise, or set forth, by any ways or means, any manner of arms, crests, cognizances, pedigrees, or other devices, pertaining to the office of arms, or in any other form and manner, than they might lawfully do, or should, says the King, be allowed by "our" said servants, their deputy or deputies, according to the ancient laws and statutes of arms. They were likewise to see that all sheriffs, commissioners, archdeacons, officials, scriveners, clerks, writers, or others whomsoever, should not call, name, or write in any assize, session, court, or other open place or places, or elsewhere, or in any writing, the addition of esquire, or gentleman, unless they could justify it. His Majesty, too, empowered them to take such fees as had been accustomed, and gave charge to all justices, sheriffs, mayors, bailiffs, and all other officers, ministers, and constables, and all others to be aiding and assisting. There was a power given them of appointing deputies and attornies; and any who were to be liable to any scruple, question, or misdemeanor, were to be summoned to appear before the Earl Marshal, by a certain day to be appointed. This commission is dated at Westminster, December 25, 1633, 9 Charles I. per breve de privato sigillo. The same form was continued in both his sons' reigns, and even William III.'s.
The same kind of commission was given to Sir William le Neve, knight, Clarenceux, and another to Sir Henry St. George, knight, Norroy, each dated January 20, 1636-7. In these it is observed, that in 1568, an order had been made by the Duke of Norfolk respecting arms, forbidding any to be granted, without license from the Earl Marshal, which his Majesty commanded to be confirmed. All these regulations in the different commissions extended to the principality of Wales.
There was, undoubtedly, a wide difference between the English in the reign of Elizabeth and Charles I. Learning had produced knowledge; trade, wealth; and printing had diffused a love for the sciences into all orders of men. A prodigious change was effected; the people became greatly refined, they neither wanted, nor was it expedient to confine them to such rigid rules and precise laws. We may suppose that these commissions were drawn from preceding ones; but what is expedient and meritorious in one century, in one age, may be highly improper and dangerous
CHARLES I. in another. This was seen in every department of Charles' government. Should such orders be now issued, and a sufficient power given to enforce them, what confusion and disgust would it occasion in that truly valuable part of the community, the middle rank of people! what destruction of plate and seals, what ruin to monuments. How degraded would families be, to have their departed friends interred, without having their vanity gratified, by a velvet pall being thrown over the coffin which inclosed the defunct; how mortifying would it be to them, to follow the corpse without à long mourning cloak trailing upon the ground. What would be the sensations of such, who could neither legally claim arms, nor justify the title of esquire as to that of gentleman, so few imagine it worth assuming, that scarce any would think themselves affected by it. How many heralds would it take to discover the errations from the strict rules of arms; and how many attendants upon them, to effect a compliance with their orders!
There was nothing, perhaps, that injured the Heralds' College more, than the Earl Marshal's Court, which proceeded to fine and imprisonment, for mere words spoken against the gentility of the person supposed aggrieved. Had it only decided upon what now usually ends in duels, it would have been a most praise-worthy institution; but during the long and peaceful reign of James I. the middle ranks were acquiring consequence, and real respectability by their praise-worthy industry. With wealth, distinction follows. Too little allowance was made for the improvement of this class in the scale of society, of which they began to make a very prominent feature. Not bearing their wealth with modesty, they brought down upon them the whole weight of the Court of Honor. This severity became deservedly odious; so that Mr. Hyde, afterwards Earl of Clarendon, and Chancellor, April 16, 1640, "remembering what great grievances had "been mentioned in that house, did present the Earl Marshal's court, for σε as great, if not greater, than any of them. He said, that he was not igno"rant that it was a court in times of war anciently, but in the manner it was now used, and in that greatness it was now swollen into, as the youngest man might remember the beginning of it, so he hoped the oldest might see the end of it. He descended to these particulars: That a citizen of good quality, a merchant, was by that court ruined in his estate, and his body imprisoned, for calling a swan, a goose." None can suppose that Mr. Hyde wished to effect a levelling system; but it is remarked by Mr.
Dallaway, that it was supposed he was instigated to this attack from mo- CHARLES I. tives of resentment, having had a relation censured by the heralds, in the visitation in 1623, being branded as an usurper of armorial distinctions. Be this as it might, the matter was referred to a Committee, and the College petitioned the House of Commons; and in consequence of it, the following order was made by the head of the Committee.
66 Wednesday, 25th November, 1640. It is ordered, by a Committee appoint"ed by the House of Commons to receive all petitions concerning the Herald's Court, "and the Earl Marshal's Court, that the commission, and other instruments by "which the heralds claim certaine fees, upon the death of persons of several degrees, be brought before the said Committee: according to which order, I desire "the officers of arms to cause the said commission and instrument to be brought to "the Committee, on Friday next, at three o'clock, at the Middle Temple Hall. "EDWARD HYDE."
In Mr. Dallaway's Work, there are several instances given of the decisions in the Court of Honor, in the reigns of Elizabeth, James I., and in this, in which the fines became enormous. The particular grievances upon which the House proceeded upon, are thus noticed by Rushworth : "About this time, West, Lord Delaware, commenced a suit in the "Court of Honor, or Lord Marshal's Court, against one who went by "that name. The case was, a person of a far different name by birth, “and but an hostler, having by his skill in wrestling in Lincoln's-Innfields, got the name of Jack of the West,' coming afterwards to be an inn-keeper, and getting a good estate, assumes the name of West, " and the arms of the family of the Lord Delaware, and gets from the heralds
his pedigree, drawn through three or four generations, from the fourth "son of one of the Lords Delaware; and his son whom he bred at the inns of "court, presuming upon this pedigree to take place of some gentlemen, "his neighbours in Hampshire, they procured him to be used by the Lord "Delaware in this court, where, at the hearing he produced his patent "from the heralds. But so it fell out, that an ancient gentleman, of the "name of West, and family of Delaware, and named in the pedigree, "who had been long beyond sea, and conceived to be dead, and now "newly returned, whose son, as it seems, this young spark would have "had his father to have been, appeared in court at the hearing; which "dashed the whole business, and the pretended West, the defendant, was Gg fined