HORSEY, Sir Jerome (-d.1625), of Great Kimble, Bucks.
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Family and Education
s. of William Horsey and ?Eleanor, da. of William Peryam. educ. travelled abroad (France, Low Countries).1 m. (1) 6 Jan. 1592,2 Elizabeth (d.1607), da. of Griffith Hampden† of Gt. Hampden, Bucks.; (2) settlement 28 Oct. 1609, Isabella, da. of Edward Brockett of Wheathampstead, Herts.;3 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da.4 kntd. 23 July 1603;5 d. 13 June 1625.6 sig. Jer[ome] Horsey.
Member, Muscovy Co. from c.1573.
Esq. of Body 1580.
Agent, Russia 1586-7, 1590-1.7
Horsey’s parentage is unclear. He was a ‘kinsman’, perhaps a nephew, of Sir Edward Horsey†, a minor Elizabethan courtier with a Dorset gentry pedigree. His father was probably the William Horsey who married into a Devon family, the Peryams, since they provide a firm link between Horsey and his ‘cousin’ William Hakewill*.15 Sir Edward, a committed Protestant, seems to have taken responsibility for Horsey’s education, sending him to France and the Low Countries, and presumably arranging his employment with the Muscovy Company. Resident in Russia from 1573, Horsey was selected by Ivan the Terrible in 1580 to deliver a message to Elizabeth I, the first of a series of diplomatic missions which continued for 11 years. Welcomed at the English Court by Sir Edward Horsey, who introduced him to Lord Burghley (Sir William Cecil†) and Sir Francis Walsingham†, Horsey found favour with the queen, who employed him formally as her agent to Russia in 1586. However, Horsey seems to have exploited his position to defraud his Company, which prosecuted him on his return in 1587. By now he had also fallen foul of elements within the Russian government, and a difficult second mission in 1590-1 ended with his effective expulsion from the country.16 Back in England, Horsey married Elizabeth Hampden, to whom he had been betrothed for some time. As both his patrons at Court, Sir Edward Horsey and Walsingham, were now dead, Horsey opted for the life of a country gentleman, settling close to his wife’s family in Buckinghamshire, where he became a j.p. in 1599. However, he represented Cornish boroughs in the final three Elizabethan Parliaments. Precisely how he obtained his burgess-ships at Saltash and Camelford is not clear. At Bossiney in 1601, where he was paired with his cousin Hakewill, he was probably backed by the latter’s uncle, Sir William Peryam†, a close friend of the borough’s principal patron, John Hender†.17
The new reign started well for Horsey, bringing him a knighthood and the receivership of Duchy of Lancaster lands in nine southern counties, including Buckinghamshire. In the 1604 general election he was again returned at Bossiney. Although not recorded as speaking during the first three sessions, he received 76 nominations to committees, conferences or audiences, making it possible to infer something of his interests. As a minor Crown officeholder making his fourth appearance in the Commons, he was unsurprisingly sometimes appointed to attend the king. On 28 Mar. 1604 he was chosen to accompany the Speaker when the latter explained how Members had proceeded in the Buckinghamshire election case, while he was named on 14 May 1606 to help present a petition of grievances about impositions and purveyance. He was also nominated to conferences with the Lords about the Union (14 Apr. 1604, 24 Nov. 1606), wardship (22 May 1604) and grievances in ecclesiastical causes (10 Apr. 1606).18 Horsey’s legislative committee appointments were spread fairly evenly across the three sessions, with 19 in 1604, 23 in 1604-5, and 22 in 1606-7. It is not known how many committee meetings he actually attended, but the sheer number of his appointments suggests that his presence was regarded as useful. He was certainly well known for his former service abroad, which was highlighted in the ‘Parliament Fart’ verses of March 1607: ‘And Sir Jerome the less said, such an abuse/ was never committed in Poland or Spruce [Prussia]’.19 This reputation may explain the frequency with which he was named to bill committees concerned with economic issues, 14 in all, the subject matter ranging from free trade (24 Apr. 1604, 3 Apr. 1606), to wine imports and sales (7 Mar. and 8 Apr. 1606) to the assignation of merchants’ debts (5 June). That Horsey did take an interest in such matters is indicated by his nomination in the third session to two select committees. One was to consider complaints about the treatment of English merchants in Spain, and the other was to examine a petition for relief from manufacturers of guns and armour (28 Feb. and 6 May 1607).20 He was also named to 15 committees to scrutinize bills with religious themes. These included the suppression of popish books, enforcement of church attendance, Sabbath observance, restoring deprived ministers, and restraining the execution of ecclesiastical canons which had not been confirmed by Parliament (6 and 27 June 1604, 29 Jan., 7 Mar. and 11 Dec. 1606). Horsey’s association with the Commons’ godly agenda is confirmed by his appointment to two select committees, to consider encouragement of a learned ministry (22 Jan. 1606), and to draft a petition to the king requesting enforcement of the laws against Jesuits and recusants (18 May 1607). As a familiar and experienced figure in the House, he was also appointed to select committees to begin work on a subsidy bill, and to investigate a recent sermon which had allegedly criticized Parliament’s behaviour (10 Feb. and 26 May 1606).21
Horsey’s involvement in religious matters seems to have attracted attention outside the Commons, since in August 1607 Dudley Carleton* stated that he was one of the ‘puritan Parliament men’ who had just been removed from the bench. If this was correct, then Horsey’s punishment must have been shortlived, since he appears in the surviving lists of Buckinghamshire j.p.s in early 1608.22 In the meantime, he found himself in dispute with some of his poorer neighbours at Monks Risborough, who in early 1607 had begun to attack woods and a warren which he owned there following rumours that he intended to enclose the land. When the local assize judges failed to settle the matter, Horsey launched a Star Chamber suit in April 1609, and the same issue came before King’s Bench that autumn.23
On 26 Apr. 1610, during the fourth parliamentary session, Horsey was granted a stay of trial in King’s Bench, possibly in relation to this case. If the saga of the warren was known in the Commons, this might explain his addition on 21 Apr. to a bill committee concerned with the theft of deer and conies.24 During this session Horsey was named to 18 other legislative committees, and was also involved in some less routine business. On 15 Feb. he was nominated to the conference where Lord Treasurer Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) spoke on supply and the forthcoming creation of Prince Henry as Prince of Wales. Around 10 July, the chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Julius Caesar*, announced concessions on the fees payable by sheriffs on passing their accounts, specifically informing ‘some principal gentlemen of the House’, who presumably included Horsey, since Caesar handed him a letter which confirmed the new arrangements. 25 This may imply that Horsey was regarded as one of the more troublesome Members, and on religious matters at least he probably remained critical of official policy. Indeed, he was named to committees to prepare a petition on ecclesiastical grievances (11 May) and to scrutinize a bill opposing subscription to the 1604 canons (14 March). He also seems to have expressed reservations about the Great Contract on 20 July, though his precise meaning was mangled by the clerk.26 As Horsey was named to the bill committee for William Essex’s Berkshire estates, and also to the committee which considered amendments proposed by the Lords (16 Feb., 3 May), he presumably took an interest in this measure. He also apparently chaired the committee appointed on 16 July to examine Robert Browne’s naturalization bill, since he delivered the report the following day, in what may have been his maiden speech. No connection between Horsey and either man has been established.27 In the brief final session of this Parliament, Horsey made one speech, on 7 Nov. 1610, which again concerned the Great Contract. Highlighting the fact that the proposed deal offered no concessions over impositions, he requested a consultation with the Lords, but without success.28
Horsey was pricked as sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1611, though he possessed only a small estate in the county. He represented Bossiney once again in 1614, enjoying a higher profile in the Commons from the outset. On 8 Apr. he was nominated to both the privileges committee and the committee established to consider the revival of business left unfinished in 1610. On the same day, he was instructed to help search for precedents to establish whether the attorney-general was entitled to sit in the Commons. On 13 Apr. he was named to the committee to prepare a protestation against undertaking; the following day he was nominated to a conference about the Elector Palatine’s naturalization bill; and on 5 May he was selected to help prepare for a conference concerned with impositions.29 Horsey made 21 recorded speeches during the Parliament, though many were essentially procedural observations. On 5 May, when Sir Herbert Croft criticized Sir Edward Giles for interrupting a speech, a prerogative which belonged to the Speaker, Horsey rounded on Croft for ‘assuming too much regularity to himself’. In a kindlier mood on 23 May, he excused Sir William Cavendish, who had caused offence by reading out a pre-prepared speech, and noted that ‘divers of the House have usually helped their memories with their notes’. Later that day Sir Anthony Cope objected to a proposed petition against baronetcies, but Horsey dismissed his complaints by observing that Cope, himself a baronet, spoke ‘for his penny’. This remark evidently hit home, since it reached the ears of the newsletter writer John Chamberlain.30
On weightier matters, Horsey maintained this obstreperous mood. On 5 May he objected to holding a vote on supply so early in the Parliament, though he subsequently backed Hakewill’s compromise proposal that the king should be led to expect satisfaction in due course. Like many Members, Horsey reacted violently on 25 May to the aspersions cast on the Commons by Bishop Neile of Lincoln, supporting calls for a message to be sent to the king, and insisting that this was simply the latest of a series of interruptions to the smooth progress of the Parliament. Neile himself he denounced as a devil. On 27 May he argued that a copy of the Commons’ complaint about Neile should not be left with the Lords, as when a message had been entrusted to them in 1607 no good had come of it. Later that day, when the king accused the Commons of ceasing business without permission, Horsey asserted that James had been misinformed, and implied that the Speaker himself might be the guilty party. On 28 May he was selected to accompany the Speaker when he presented the formal response to the king’s letter. When it emerged on 30 May that the Lords were still refusing to confirm Neile’s words, Horsey’s temper again boiled over. Bitterly complaining that the peers’ failure to oblige the Commons was merely par for the course, he claimed that ‘this stop in business would hinder the king more than the bishop was worth’. Indeed, he wished that the Commons ‘should use the bishop as Moses used his rod, which, while it was a rod he used it familiarly, but when a serpent he fled from it’. This analogy caused some consternation in the House, and Horsey was a little later obliged to confirm that he had been talking about Neile only, not the Lords in general. Over the next week his attitude hardened, and on 7 June, with the dissolution imminent, he opposed the last-ditch offer of subsidies to the king.31
Apart from this political drama, Horsey had a relatively quiet Parliament, receiving only 12 committee nominations. Just one, a bill against non-residence, related to religious matters (12 May), though he followed the progress of the Sabbath bill, protesting when he thought that Edward Alford was employing blocking tactics during the third reading on 21 May. His puritan sensibilities inclined him to act as a teller for the yeas when the House divided (1 June) over whether to sit on Ascension Day. Horsey recommended on 24 May that a particular importer of fish should be invited to attend the bill committee on fish-packing, and was the first Member named to that committee. He may well have taken a personal interest in a bill concerned with the Buckinghamshire manor of Winslow, a dozen miles from his home at Great Kimble, and was again the first person named to the committee (31 May). On the following day, too late for it to receive more than a first reading, he preferred a bill for the peace of subjects after judgment, a measure which may have been self-serving given his long-standing difficulties at Monks Risborough.32
In September 1614 Horsey petitioned the Privy Council regarding the continuing attacks on his troublesome warren. Lord chief justice Sir Edward Coke*, another Buckinghamshire resident, was instructed to arbitrate, and no further trouble was reported. Three years later Horsey bought Monks Risborough manor, though whether as an investment or as a means of strengthening his position is unclear. His early life and travels were still remembered in government circles, and in January 1619 he was called in to assist the commissioners appointed to negotiate with the United Provinces’ representatives over disputes in the East India trade.33
In the 1620 parliamentary elections, Horsey found a seat at East Looe rather than at Bossiney. His old patron Sir William Peryam was long dead, and he probably relied instead on the support of an even more distant kinsman, Sir Reginald Mohun*, recorder of East Looe.34 Once back in the Commons, Horsey garnered the usual selection of high profile appointments. He was nominated on 5 Feb. to the committee for privileges, and two days later objected to one of the parties in the Gatton election dispute being allowed to defend himself in the House when he had already addressed the committee. That same day, Horsey was appointed to monitor the Members’ communion, doubtless a congenial task. He was named or added to two committees set up to examine grievances (2 Mar. and 2 May), and on 7 Mar. he was a teller in a vote on clauses for inclusion in the subsidy bill. He was also nominated to attend conferences on recusancy, on informers, and on bills concerned with the Sabbath and writs of certiorari (15 Feb., 19 Apr. and 24 May). As the first sitting came to an end, Horsey was named on 2 June to attend the king when Parliament accepted the royal offer of adjournment rather than prorogation, a move of which he approved. Altogether during this sitting he was appointed to 29 bill committees and seven other select committees.35 He also made 18 speeches, some of them colourful. During the debate on 16 Feb. about punishing Thomas Sheppard for attacking the Sabbath bill the previous day, he regaled his listeners with the tale of an anonymous Elizabethan MP who had failed in his duty during a critical vote on a Sabbath observance bill, and subsequently collapsed unconscious in the House.36 Naturally he continued to pronounce on procedure and the behaviour of other Members, on 19 Apr. insisting that the clerk read out a list of all the bills before the Commons, to confirm his opinion that there was an excessive volume of business. On 24 Apr. he moved for better attendance by lawyer-Members during morning sessions. Later the same day he perhaps tried to offset any offence caused to the legal profession by praising a discourse on trade by Sir Edward Coke: ‘he never heard a better speech in all his life etc. etc.’. However, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that he most enjoyed the sound of his own voice.37
On 23 Apr., as the storm broke over Sir John Bennet’s* corrupt practices at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Horsey joined calls for him to be sent to the Tower, and was included in the group of MPs sent to ensure that Bennet did not evade arrest.38 As ever, though, it was religion which got Horsey most worked up. On 5 Feb. he responded to a proposal that Catholics should be cleared out of London with a lengthy diatribe against recusants. Alleging that they were undermining support for the Elector Palatine, he argued that their movements must be restricted as a matter of national security: ‘they eat their God; would eat us’. Now in full flow, he concluded with a warning that the Commons must be careful how they approached the king, since messages could be misreported. Attempting to justify this particular concern, he strayed into recollection of the problems caused in 1614 by the ‘unreverend bishop’ of Lincoln, and had to be shouted down before he derailed the entire debate. He was, nevertheless, named to the resultant committee for preparing a petition about recusancy.39 Horsey was nominated to the committee for the Sabbath bill attacked by Sheppard, and to two others dealing with bills for tightening up recusancy legislation (15 Feb., 2 Mar. and 11 May). The last of these measures had been prepared by a committee of the Whole House during the Easter recess, and he was chosen to prefer it on 26 April.40 The investigation into the Catholic Edward Floyd once again brought Horsey to the fore. On 1 May he helped search Floyd’s study for incriminating evidence, and later that day returned to the Commons brandishing a rosary, a crucifix, and ‘diverse relics and popish trinkets’. In the ensuing competition to identify a suitably exemplary punishment, Horsey’s suggestion of cutting out, slitting or boring Floyd’s tongue was relatively mild, though he believed that when all the facts were known, stronger measures would be appropriate. Once again, he justified his opinion with an anecdote, this time drawing on his early life to recount the penalty meted out to a spy at a foreign court.41 He apparently resented the king’s decision shortly afterwards to question the Members’ power of judicature in such cases. On 8 May, with Floyd’s case once again under debate, Horsey provided a lengthy list of past occasions when the Crown had interfered with the Commons’ liberties.42
The grand assault on monopolies brought comparatively few interventions by Horsey. He was a teller for the yeas in a vote on expanding the charges against (Sir) Giles Mompesson*, and for the noes in a division over whether the Commons needed a copy of the king’s speech of 26 Mar. about monopolies (6 and 27 March). Probably his most significant contribution came on 22 Mar., when he interrupted a discussion about elections to announce that several petitions had just been delivered into the House, thereby allowing Sir Robert Phelips to move for early consideration of Lepton’s Council in the North patent.43 Horsey took at least as much interest in efforts to restrict the export of ordnance, perhaps because of its implications for war against Spain. On 26 Mar. he was named to the committee established to draft a bill against such exports. He later recommended that the transportation of carriages should be added to the measure, and was named to the bill committee (14 May).44 However, he reserved his most fervent speech on economic affairs for the debate on 18 Apr. about tobacco. Asserting that thousands had died from using this ‘vile weed’, he demanded that all imports of tobacco should be banned, both in England and Virginia.45 Horsey is known to have attended the committee for Viscount Montague’s estates (15 Mar.), though no connection with the peer has been found. He is also likely to have shown interest in his patron Sir Reginald Mohun’s estate bill (17 May).46
Parliament resumed for a second sitting on 14 Nov. 1621, but was immediately adjourned for six days. Despite the convention that no business could be conducted when Members had assembled only for this purpose, Horsey attempted unsuccessfully to get agreement for a sermon to be delivered on 20 November. Reporting this incident to (Sir) Dudley Carleton*, Chamberlain dryly observed: ‘it seems we grow into a superstitious opinion of sermons as the papists do of the mass, that nothing can be done without them’.47 Horsey was named on 1 Dec. to the conference with the Lords about the informers bill, while on 18 Dec. he was chosen to deliver to the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, (Sir) Humphrey May*, the Commons’ message of thanks for the king’s letter about the forthcoming adjournment. He also received six bill committee nominations, mostly on legal or social issues.48 Several of Horsey’s remaining seven speeches during this sitting dealt with procedural issues, but religion remained a major preoccupation. On 23 Nov. he made a personal attack after Barnaby Gooch defended the quality of the clergy. Repeating the jibe employed against Sir Anthony Cope in 1614, he accused Gooch of speaking ‘for his penny’, although this time Horsey was reproved for his remark. He was also appointed to help with the inquiry into the alleged abuse of Exchequer writs by (Sir) Henry Spiller*, who was accused of protecting recusants (29 November).49 On the following day he called for some London brewers imprisoned for refusing to pay composition for purveyance to be bailed, and delivered a petition on this matter.50
In the aftermath of this Parliament, Horsey again experienced government displeasure. The Proclamation of dissolution on 6 Jan. 1622 had asserted that, like the 1614 assembly, this latest session should be regarded as a Convention, rather than a full Parliament. If this was accepted, then Acts continued from 1610 until the end of the next Parliament should still be in force. However, in May 1622 Horsey questioned the judges at the Aylesbury assizes about the status of certain Acts which fell into this category. He was removed from the Buckinghamshire bench in the following month, and Chamberlain heard that he had also been confined. Horsey was not restored to the bench until December 1623.51
Towards the end of his life Horsey prepared to publish a memoir of his foreign travels, drafting a postscript about his career in England. This he concluded with the observation that he was now like ‘an old ship that hath done good service, to be laid up in the dock unrigged’.52 He appears to have drawn up his will shortly before his death, though the date is not recorded. Its predictably lavish religious preamble affirmed his conviction that his sins were forgiven and that he would be ‘placed among the saints in glory’. He wished his burial to be ‘with such expedition and little ceremony as conveniently may be, a sermon only to be made ... by some godly preacher’. To 50 poor people of Great Kimble and Monks Risborough he bequeathed 6d. and half a peck of wheat each, firmly stating that this was ‘not in any superstitious means of dole, but as the last deed of love’ that he was showing to his neighbours. Having fallen out with his eldest son William, who had married without parental approval, he grudgingly left him only an annuity of £10, with an additional £100 provided on condition that he did not dispute the will. His three daughters were each to receive £500, even though one had married without permission. The residue of his property was left to his younger son John, though Horsey expected his lands to be sold in order to cover his debts and bequests. He died in June 1625. His principal monument, the Travels of Sir Jerome Horsey, was published in the following year. None of his immediate descendants sat in Parliament.53
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paul Hunneyball
- 1. Russia at Close of Sixteenth Cent. ed. E.A. Bond (Hakluyt Soc. xx), pp. cxxix, cxxxii; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 603.
- 2. St. Peter Cornhill (Harl. Soc. Reg. i), 238.
- 3. Russia at Close of Sixteenth Cent. p. cxxxi.
- 4. PROB 11/148, f. 60r-v; IGI Bucks.
- 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 126.
- 6. C142/625/40.
- 7. Russia at Close of Sixteenth Cent. pp. xlvi, lxviii, lxxiii, xciii, cx, cxxix.
- 8. C231/1, f. 65; 231/4, f. 159.
- 9. C66/1571.
- 10. SP14/31/1; C212/22/20-1, 23.
- 11. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 9.
- 12. C93/7/3.
- 13. Duchy of Lancaster Office-Holders ed. R. Somerville, 224.
- 14. SC6/Jas.I/1680-7.
- 15. Russia at Close of Sixteenth Cent. pp. cxxix, 155; Dorset Vis. Add. ed. Colby and Rylands, 1-3; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 603; PROB 11/148, f. 60v.
- 16. Russia at Close of Sixteenth Cent. pp. lvi, lviii, lxviii, lxxxi-v, lxxxix, xciii, cvii, cix-xi, cxxix, cxxxii.
- 17. Russia at Close of Sixteenth Cent. p. cviii; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 603; C142/519/94; SP14/48/116.
- 18. CJ, i. 157a, 172a, 222b, 296b, 309a, 324b.
- 19. J. Mennes, Musarum Deliciae, 70. The diminutive suffix distinguished him from the courtier Sir Jerome Bowes. It is unclear whether it signified lesser social standing, physical stature, or possibly the fact that Horsey had been agent in Russia, but Bowes had served there as ambassador: Russia at Close of Sixteenth Cent. p. li.
- 20. CJ, i. 183b, 279a, 292b, 295a, 344b, 369b, 379b.
- 21. Ibid. 233b, 247b, 258a, 261b, 266b, 279a, 312b, 329b, 375a.
- 22. SP14/28/37; 14/33, f. 7v; C66/1748.
- 23. STAC 8/168/17; Croke’s Reps. (1669) comp. H. Grimston, ii. 229-30.
- 24. Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 364; CJ, i. 419b.
- 25. Procs. 1610, ii. 382; CJ, i. 393b.
- 26. CJ, i. 410b, 427b, 453a.
- 27. CJ, i. 394b, 424b, 450a-b.
- 28. Procs. 1610, ii. 317.
- 29. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 33-5, 76, 82, 152.
- 30. Ibid. 148, 320, 322-3; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 534.
- 31. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 153, 344, 366, 368, 372, 377, 381-2, 386, 441.
- 32. Ibid. 217, 309, 314, 332, 393, 405, 407.
- 33. APC, 1613-14, pp. 550-1; VCH Bucks. ii. 256; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 197-8.
- 34. Dorset Vis. Add., 2-3.
- 35. CJ, i. 507b-8a, 512a, 522b, 534a, 544a, 582b, 602b, 626a, 636b, 637b.
- 36. Ibid. 524b; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 52-3; CD 1621, iv. 64; v. 502. This incident is not recorded elsewhere, and its date is uncertain.
- 37. CD 1621, iii. 19, 64; v. 346.
- 38. CJ, i. 588a; CD 1621, iii. 51.
- 39. CJ, i. 508a; CD 1621, ii. 26; iv. 11; vi. 437.
- 40. CJ, i. 523a, 534a, 617a; Nicholas, i. 325; CD 1621, iii. 86.
- 41. CJ, i. 600b, 601b; CD 1621, iii. 121, 124; v. 129, 359.
- 42. CD 1621, v. 155; vi. 145-7.
- 43. CJ, i. 541a, 569a, 577b.
- 44. CJ, i. 572b, 621b.
- 45. Ibid. 581b.
- 46. Ibid. 551b, 554a, 559b, 563a-b, 570b, 583a, 584b, 593b, 622a, 623b, 628a; HLRO, main pprs. 22 Feb. 1621.
- 47. Nicholas, ii. 175; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 408.
- 48. CJ, i. 654b, 668b.
- 49. Ibid. 643a, 652a; CD 1621, iii. 433.
- 50. CD 1621, ii. 476; vi. 217.
- 51. SP14/131/90-2; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 439.
- 52. Russia at Close of Sixteenth Cent. pp. cxxxiii, 266.
- 53. PROB 11/148, f. 60r-v; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 198; Russia at Close of Sixteenth Cent. p. cxxxi.