MARTEN, Sir Henry (1562-1641), of Aldersgate, London and Longworth, Berks.
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Family and Education
bap. 2 Aug. 1562,1 2nd s. of John Marten (d.1563), baker, of London and his w. Rose.2 educ. Winchester Coll. Hants 1574; New Coll. Oxf. 1581, BCL 1587, DCL 1592; adv. 1595; L. Inn 1623.3 m. 1597, Elizabeth (d.1618), sis. of John Harding, pres. of Magdalen Coll. Oxf. 2s. 3da.4 kntd. 21 Dec. 1616.5 d. 26 Sept. 1641.6 sig. Henry Marten.
Fell. New Coll. Oxf. 1582-97;7 official, archdeaconry of Berks. c.1593-1630;8 member, Doctors’ Commons 1596, treas. 1617-20;9 j.p. Berks. 1601-d.;10 commr. recusants, Berks. 1602,11 piracy, Mdx., Kent and Surr. 1617, Southampton, Hants 1618-19, 1636, home counties 1619-25, Devon 1619-30, Dorset 1622-31, Pemb., Carm. and Card. 1623, Cornw. 1634-d., Norf. 1624-7, Suff. 1627, 1640, London 1630-39, Cumb. 1631, Hants and I.o.W. 1635, Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorks. 1637, Suss. 1637, Exeter, Devon 1639,12 assurances, London 1618-40;13 chan., London dioc. 1619-27;14 commr. sewers, Suff. 1620, river Gleane, Lincs. 1621-35, Mdx. 1629-39, Oxon. and Berks. 1634, Glos. and Wilts. 1635, Wilts. 1635,15 subsidy, Berks. 1624,16 Admlty. causes, London, Mdx., Essex, Kent and Surr. 1625,17 oyer and terminer, Berks., Oxon. and Glos. 1633-d., Glos., Mon., Herefs. and Salop 1634.18
Adv.-gen. 1609-20;19 commr. jointure of Princess Eliz. 1613;20 judge of Admlty. 1617-d.;21 commr. negotiations with Dutch E.I. Co. 1619;22 member, High Commission, Canterbury prov. 1620-d.;23 judge, Prerogative Ct. of Canterbury 1624-d.;24 dean of Arches 1624-33;25 gov. Charterhouse hosp. 1624-d.;26 commr. trade 1625,27 repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral 1631;28 surrogate, Ct. of Chivalry by 1632.29
Marten was born in the parish of St. Michael, Bassishaw, the younger son of a prosperous baker. His parents have elsewhere been given as Anthony Marten, citizen and grocer of London, and Margaret, daughter of John Yate of Lydford in Berkshire; however, this identification is unlikely. The families may well have been more distantly related, but the latter had only one son, whereas our Member was certainly the younger of two brothers. He has also sometimes been confused with his wife’s kinsman, Henry Martyn*, though they do not seem to have been related by birth.30 Marten’s inheritance was sufficient to provide him with an excellent education; he followed his elder brother to Winchester and Oxford, and into the study of the Civil Law, eventually ascending to the top of the profession.31
Although active as an advocate in the London courts by 1596, Marten maintained his household at Oxford for some years after his marriage to the sister of John Harding, a fellow of Magdalen College.32 Marten first came to the notice of James I as a disputant in the academic exercises held during the royal visit to the University in 1605.33 Only four years later he was appointed advocate-general. In 1613 he accompanied Princess Elizabeth to the Palatinate as a commissioner for the settlement of her jointure,34 and in September 1617, on the death of Sir Daniel Dunne*, he was appointed judge of the High Court of Admiralty. He bought Longworth in 1618, and his Berkshire estate was subsequently enlarged by various grants of Crown property at favourable rents.35
Marten became known for his vigorous enforcement of ecclesiastical discipline as chancellor to the bishop of London; as judge of the Admiralty, a member of the High Commission, judge of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury and dean of the Arches, he was once aptly described by James as ‘a mighty monarch in his jurisdiction over land and sea, the living and the dead’.36 At the general election in 1620, Marten was recommended for a seat in the Cinque Ports by the lord admiral, the marquess of Buckingham; however, he failed to obtain the support of the lord warden, Lord Zouche, and was unsuccessful.37 A petition accusing him of corruption and injustice was anonymously delivered to the Commons in May 1621, and later presented to the Lords, by a disgruntled ex-officer of the Admiralty Court, but nothing further seems to have come of it.38 There is no evidence that Marten stood at the next general election.
Buckingham’s client (Sir) John Eliot*, secured Marten a seat in the first Caroline Parliament at St. Germans, recommending him to the borough as a man of ‘great years, great knowledge, great experience, and great abilities of nature to support them’.39 Marten’s appointments included a committee to frame the heads of a petition on religion (24 June 1625), and those to consider bills concerning ecclesiastical estates (24 June), excommunication (27 June), and subscription (27 June).40 One article in the petition to the king, a defence of more moderate nonconforming ministers, threatened to divide the Commons on 28 June, at which point Marten ‘propounded a form of entry for that article which for the present settled the debate’.41 He successfully moved a further, and purely technical, amendment when the draft of the petition was presented to the House on 30 June.42 In the meantime he had been appointed to consider a bill against judicial corruption (29 June). On 1 July he was added to a committee to hear Archbishop Abbot’s report of his dealings with the notorious Arminian divine Richard Montagu, and he was named to two later committees on Montagu (4 and 7 July).43 In the debates on grievances, he complained on 4 July of the consignment of popish and seditious books to ambassadors to be ‘sold in their houses’.44 Another grievance, a patent for trade with Africa, he affirmed ‘was never allowed in the Admiralty’.45 He successfully moved for privilege for himself on 7 July, after a subpoena had been served on him; later the same day he opposed the proposed adjournment to avoid the plague in London, adducing the inconvenience of the extension of privilege in the summer of 1621 as ‘a worse burden than the subsidies’.46
When the Parliament reconvened at Oxford on 1 Aug., Marten made a lengthy speech against the pardons given to Catholics at the suit of the French ambassadors.47 He extended the issue beyond religion, and, after testily observing that even the ‘old ambassadors’ - a jibe at Buckingham and the 1st earl of Holland (Henry Rich*), the youthful negotiators of the French marriage - employed in former times had not been successful, claimed ‘that the dexterity of Englishmen was in fighting, not in treating, and by that many millions had been gained, as then exhausted by the other’.48 He was named to consider a bill against simony (2 Aug.), and appointed to attend the conference on religion of 9 August.49 His speech of 11 Aug., advocating an additional grant of supply in support of the fleet, was interpreted by some as ‘an act of expiation’ for the offence given to Buckingham, but in fact it was wholly consistent with his earlier advocacy of the war with Spain.50 He reminded the Commons that ‘a subsidy is quickly lost at sea’ and concluded that they should ‘take heed how we discontent a prince whom we have put into a course of war’.51
Marten was again returned for St. Germans in 1626, this time with Eliot himself as his colleague. On 13 Feb. he spoke against a bill to subject the moral conduct of the clergy to the secular courts.52 With Eliot, he was chosen to prepare for a debate on the seizure of English and Scots ships and goods in France (18 February).53 On 22 Feb. Eliot reported that the principal reason for the French action was the stay of the St. Peter of Le Havre. This ship had been released on the orders of the Court of Admiralty (that is, by Marten), but re-arrested at Buckingham’s command.54 Marten, with Eliot’s support, vigorously rebuffed an attempt by Sir John Strangways* to lay the blame on him and have him ‘suspended from his service’, and he was cleared the same day by a general vote.55 He argued on the contrary that the stay of the St. Peter was not the cause of the French action, and warned that to treat it as such might seem to be ‘allowing their embargo to be good’.56 After telling the full story in committee on 24 Feb., he clashed violently on 1 Mar. with Secretary Coke, who claimed that Marten himself had advised the second arrest. Marten maintained that he had merely agreed after the event that the ship might be lawfully stayed on new evidence, but had refused to give any judgment until he had seen that evidence.57
On 25 Feb. Marten was granted privilege in a Chancery suit against the bishop of Oxford.58 He was named to committees to consider a bill on administrations (7 Mar.); Sir Dudley Digges’ proposal for financing the war at sea ‘by the voluntary joint stock of adventurers’ (14 Mar.); a bill on ecclesiastical citations (17 Mar.); and to prepare for a conference on merchants’ petitions (17 March).59 He greatly approved of Digges’s scheme, even in the more radical form propounded by Sir Nathaniel Rich, and argued on 14 Apr. that the proposed West India Company should pay no customs.60 On 15 Apr. he was named to the committee to consider a bill concerning ‘the laws for shipping’, and on 29 Apr. to draft a contagion bill.61 However, later the same day he was excluded from the House while it debated the case of Sir Robert Howard, who had been imprisoned and excommunicated by High Commission while privileged as a Member of the 1624 Parliament.62 Marten, as one of the High Commissioners responsible for the decision, successfully defended himself on the grounds that at the time he had no experience of Parliament, ‘never had read anything about it, nor knew what a prorogation meant, nor the difference between that and an adjournment’.63 On 8 May he was added to bill committees on excommunication and recusancy.64
In the impeachment proceedings against Buckingham, Marten was appointed, on 9 May, to consider how the Commons’ case should be presented to the Lords.65 He seems to have taken little further part in business, save that towards the end of the Parliament, on 13 June, he unsuccessfully objected to a phrase in the Remonstrance against the duke, which described him as an enemy to the commonwealth.66 A fortnight after the dissolution, Marten again participated in a potentially controversial action of the High Commission: the order that no books should be printed or sold against Richard Montagu.67 He clashed repeatedly with Buckingham over his handling of cases in the Admiralty Court concerning prizes, leading him to offer to resign his Admiralty office in May 1627. The duke refused to accept his resignation, however, and returned Marten’s commission to him.68
From the following September onwards Marten distanced himself, by agreement, from Eliot.69 At the next general election he was nominated for Oxford University by the 3rd earl of Pembroke, who recommended him to the scholars as ‘a gentleman of so good parts, and so well known unto you, as I will not borrow from your patience that fruitless time which I might spend in his commendation without being able to add anything to the opinion you have already of his worth’.70 Although Marten had long ceased to be an Oxford resident his brother was still living there in comfortable circumstances; and he gained the university convocation’s favour by promising to serve without wages.71 His first appointments, on 21 Mar. 1628, were to consider a bill to prevent the education of recusants’ children overseas, and to attend a conference with the Lords on the petition for a fast.72 In the committee of the whole House on 2 and 4 Apr. he spoke for supply. He urged the Commons not to concentrate all its effort on grievances, dashing the ship twice against the same rock but to ‘draw out from the king the opinion he hath conceived against us. ... Let us show as ready desires to serve him again, and let us put gold into his hand’.73
From 18 Apr. Marten engaged in a series of clashes with Sir Edward Coke* and other champions of the Common Law over the key issue of martial law. Marten believed that where there were soldiers there must be martial law. In such circumstances, he argued, the speedy administration of justice was of prime importance, a need which he illustrated by reference to his own office, where if he did not on occasion settle the demands of 500 sailors for their wages in a few hours, ‘I think they would tear me out of my chamber’.74 In such cases, the Common Law courts would insist upon separate actions, with consequent delay and expense. Marten thought that the two jurisdictions might stand together and, after assuring the House on 19 Apr. that ‘no man loves the Common Law better than I’, he demanded the right not to be ‘pointed at’ by his accusers. ‘In this and in other debates’, he added, ‘let all that is intended tend to the safety of the kingdom, without pleasure or distaste’. There could be no meeting of minds between Marten and Coke, but the latter nevertheless replied that the civilian was ‘an honest man of old English honesty’.75
Marten was appointed to attend a conference with the Lords on the liberty of the subject (23 Apr.), and to consider various bills concerning maritime and ecclesiastical measures.76 On 3 May, following the receipt of a message from the king threatening the imminent end of the session, Marten advised against sending too hasty a reply, warning that already ‘every man has his mouth full of the distance between the king and his people; the Papist begins to mutter; every letter is full of complaints from friends and insultations of enemies’.77 On 13 May he was added to the committee for alterations in the Petition of Right.78 Three days later, in debate on a bill against scandalous ministers, he objected that it took ‘away Magna Carta from the clergy’, by subjecting them to the secular courts.79 On the same day he again drew on his own experience to comment on a bill for liberty to hear preaching, declaring that ‘it is my duty to tell you that if any ordinary do trouble a man for going to another sermon when he has none at home, it is against the law; and I have upon appeals given good costs against the ordinary, and I will ever do it’.80
In the debate of 21 May on the subscription bill, Marten declared his adherence to the Book of Common Prayer, and expressed his satisfaction at belonging to a Church which was ‘made by supreme authority, and so was no other’.81 He and Thomas Eden II were later ordered to bring in the form of subscription then in use for examination by the committee considering the bill.82 On 22 May, in committee of the whole House, he joined in the general condemnation of the Lords’ proposed amendment to the Petition of Right, an assertion of the king’s sovereign power, reminding the House of Aesop’s fable of the lion, the fox and the ass, ‘the moral whereof shall be that when actions are regulated by law you may guess at the proportion, but if it be regulated by the prerogative, there is no end’.83 Appointed to present the ‘rational part’ of the Commons’ argument at a subsequent conference with the Lords on 23 May, he successfully appealed to the Lords to stand by the original Petition, overturning their amendment because ‘it concludes against our right in the premises, and utterly frustrates all our petition’. He added that ‘the time is not seasonable now for this addition’, focusing attention, as it did, upon powers which were already being questioned. Moreover, the Petition would ‘run through many hands’, since voters would undoubtedly wonder ‘what their knights and burgesses have done in Parliament upon their complaints, [and] what they have brought home for their five subsidies’. He wished to avoid all mention of sovereign power in such a context, ‘for I have ever been of opinion that sovereign power is then best worth when it is had in tacit veneration, not when it is profaned by vulgar hearings or examinations’. In the afternoon it was ordered that Marten and John Glanville, who had presented the legal arguments, should bring in their speeches, ‘that every man that will may have copies thereof’.84
Three days later Marten was appointed to help report the outcome of a further conference with the Lords on the Petition.85 He had unsuccessfully moved for a second reading of the subsidy bill on 24 May, and when on 3 June Eliot proposed a Remonstrance in response to the king’s unsatisfactory first answer to the Petition of Right, Marten again bade the House to think of the king’s supply, ‘and he will certainly harken to us’.86 The bill was read, and four days later Marten was appointed to the committee to draft the preamble.87 He spoke on 9 June of the decay of the Navy as one of the heads of the Remonstrance, and was named to the committee appointed to draft this document. The details of his argument are now lost, but two days later he opposed the naming of Buckingham as a cause of the evils complained of, urging the House to ‘abstain from all unnecessary acrimony of language’.88 He also ‘vindicated the duke in point of religion’, saying of Arminianism: ‘I have often heard him protest and vow against these opinions. It is true many that have skill therein may have some credit with him, and make use of his noble nature for their own ends’.89 He was then named to a select committee to prepare charges against Montagu (13 June).90
On 18 June Marten and Sir Edward Coke found themselves in agreement over a petition concerning the father-in-law of Sir Edward Wardour*, William Bowdler, who had died intestate in 1625. Administration of the estate had been granted to the relatives by Marten, only to be claimed by the Exchequer on the ground that Bowdler was a bastard. In 1627 Marten had petitioned the king, together with several bishops, against this interference with the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts. He now pointed to the difficulty of showing whether or not Bowdler had been a bastard, and Coke denied the Crown’s right in any case. Both were named to the committee to consider the petition (18 June).91 Marten was appointed to attend the final conference with the Lords on the title of the Petition of Right (20 June), to draft ‘a message to His Majesty to know his pleasure how long we shall sit’ (21 June), and to draft a shipping petition (24 June).92
During the second session Marten was named to bill committees for measures concerning preaching (23 Jan. 1629), judicial corruption (23 Jan.), and recusancy (28 January).93 On 29 Jan. and again on 9 Feb. he answered a petition against Montagu’s confirmation as bishop of Chichester.94 He was named to the committee to compare various printings of the Thirty-Nine Articles (5 Feb.), and took part in the investigation into the affair of the Jesuit college in Clerkenwell, acting as messenger to the recorder of London and the lord chief justice.95 He was the first named to the committee to consider a bill for the increase of trade (11 February).96 On 16 Feb. a petition was presented against him, alleging that he had dealt fraudulently with the substantial fortune of an intestate. He explained his conduct at length, saying that if he were ‘such a man as is expressed in this petition, I were unworthy to be kept in my place, being known beyond sea as well as any judge in England’.97 He asserted that of £6,000 which had been set aside by the deceased for pious uses, ‘the accounts are in the prerogative court to a penny’. Far from having profited from the business, he claimed to be £25 out of pocket, and to have gained nothing more than ‘a little plush for a pair of breeches, a chair and stool, and a cabinet which I wished to have for my money, but have not yet paid for it’. He also admitted to having got for the duke of Buckingham, now dead, ‘a fantastical of piece of plate’.98 At Marten’s own request, the petition was referred to the committee for the courts of justice.99 On the following day he was again granted privilege in a Chancery suit, and his final appointment was to consider a simony bill (23 February).100
As bishop of London, Laud was convinced that Marten was ‘a schismatical puritan in his bosom’, and on the great prelate’s promotion to Canterbury, Marten lost his post as dean of the Arches.101 He sat for another Cornish borough in the Short Parliament, aged 77, while his elder son, Henry, a later regicide, served as knight of the shire for Berkshire. Marten drew up his will on 23 Aug. 1641 leaving an estate reputedly worth £3,000 a year, and died almost a month later; he was buried at Longworth.102
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Alan Davidson / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. St. Michael Bassishaw Par. Reg. (Harl. Soc. reg. lxxii), 72.
- 2. Ibid. 144; GL, ms 9051/3, f. 58.
- 3. T.F. Kirby, Winchester Scholars, 146; Al. Ox; LI Admiss.
- 4. PROB 11/118, f. 1; E. Ashmole, Antiqs. of Berks. i. 160-2.
- 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 160.
- 6. Lansd. 985, f. 14; CSP Dom. 1641-3, p. 126.
- 7. Ath. Ox. iii. 17.
- 8. Ibid.
- 9. G.D. Squibb, Doctors’ Commons, 48, 166.
- 10. C231/1, f. 115v; C66/2858.
- 11. C181/1, f. 34.
- 12. C181/2, ff. 299v, 309, 339, 340, 348; 181/3, ff. 1v, 72v, 79v, 97v, 113, 115v, 130, 176, 195v, 230v, 232; 181/4, ff. 37, 52v, 81, 95v, 104, 138v; 181/5, ff. 24, 26, 43v, 58, 68v, 80, 130v, 132v, 176, 187v.
- 13. C181/2, f. 306v; 181/4, f. 129v; 181/5, f. 175.
- 14. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 205; B.P. Levack, Civil Lawyers, 252.
- 15. C181/3, ff. 13, 35v, 214v; 181/4, ff. 93v, 23, 63v, 179; 181/5, f. 44; 181/5, ff. 10, 21v, 142v.
- 16. C212/22/23.
- 17. HCA 1/31/1, f. 13.
- 18. C181/4, ff. 144, 185v, 194v; 181/5, ff. 6v, 200v.
- 19. C66/1762; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 496; Addenda 1580-1625, p. 621.
- 20. Chamberlain Letters, i. 433.
- 21. HCA 49/106, packet A, no. 13; HCA 30/1035, pt. 1, f. 4.
- 22. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 197, 254.
- 23. R.G. Usher, Rise and Fall of High Commission, 354.
- 24. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 579; Levack, 252.
- 25. Levack, 252; Squibb, 166.
- 26. G.S. Davies, Charterhouse in London, 352; Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 469; LMA, ACC/1876/G/02/02, f. 32.
- 27. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 1, p. 59.
- 28. CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 6.
- 29. CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 251; Squibb, 34, 57.
- 30. Oxford DNB; J.C. Cole, ‘Notes on Henry Marten, Regicide, and his Fam.’, Berks. Arch. Jnl. xlix. 26.
- 31. Gent. Mag. c. pt. 2, pp. 403-4.
- 32. Cole, 27; W.D. Macray, Reg. Magdalen, iii. 72-80.
- 33. J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas.I, i. 535.
- 34. Chamberlain Letters, i. 433.
- 35. VCH Berks. iv. 224, 467; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 136.
- 36. O.U. Kalu, ‘Bps. of London and Religious Dissent in Early Stuart Eng.’, JBS, xvii. 35-7.
- 37. Add. 37818, f. 52; Cole, 27.
- 38. HMC 4th Rep. 122.
- 39. Procs. 1625, pp. 531-2.
- 40. Ibid. 238, 241, 253.
- 41. Ibid. 259, 265.
- 42. Ibid. 277.
- 43. Ibid. 259, 284, 300, 335.
- 44. Ibid. 303.
- 45. Ibid. 304.
- 46. Ibid. 330, 336, 341.
- 47. Ibid. 376, 531.
- 48. Ibid. 531.
- 49. Ibid. 378, 422.
- 50. Ibid. 461-2, 463-4, 563-4; Gardiner, Hist. Eng. 1603-42, v. 429.
- 51. Procs. 1625, p. 462; C. Russell, PEP, 251.
- 52. Procs. 1626, ii. 26, 27.
- 53. Ibid. 68.
- 54. Ibid. 86-8.
- 55. Ibid. 91-2.
- 56. Ibid, 88, 91, 95, 97.
- 57. Ibid. 117, 161, 164, 169; R. Lockyer, Buckingham, 311.
- 58. Procs. 1626, ii. 126.
- 59. Ibid. 216, 280, 306, 307.
- 60. Ibid. 441-2.
- 61. Ibid. 446; iii. 97.
- 62. Ibid. ii. 328, 333; C115/108/8633.
- 63. Procs. 1626, iii. 99, 101-4, 414; HMC 4th Rep. 307; HMC Lonsdale, 10.
- 64. Procs. 1626, iii. 189, 190.
- 65. Ibid. 201.
- 66. Ibid. 434.
- 67. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 116.
- 68. CSP Dom. 1627-8, pp. 184, 208; Lockyer, 368; G.E. Aylmer, King’s Servants, 353.
- 69. Eliot’s Letter-Bk. ed. A.B. Grosart, ii. 25.
- 70. Oxf. Univ. Arch. Reg. Convoc. N. (23), ff. 251-2v.
- 71. PROB 11/161, f. 48v.
- 72. CD 1628, ii. 41, 42.
- 73. Ibid. 258; Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, i. 521; Lansd. 494, f. 32v.
- 74. CD 1628, ii. 542, 549.
- 75. Ibid. 569; Russell, 353, 357.
- 76. CD 1628, iii. 44.
- 77. Ibid. 238.
- 78. Ibid. 387.
- 79. Ibid. 431.
- 80. Ibid. 433.
- 81. Ibid. 513-14.
- 82. Ibid. 526.
- 83. Ibid. 532.
- 84. Ibid. 558-9, 572-80; C. Hill, ‘Parl. and People in Seventeenth-Cent. Eng.’, P and P, xcii. 116-17; Historical Collections, i. 579-84.
- 85. CD 1628, iii. 611.
- 86. Ibid. 600; iv. 70.
- 87. Ibid. iv. 178.
- 88. Ibid. 204, 238, 255.
- 89. Historical Collections, i. 617.
- 90. CD 1628, iv. 291.
- 91. Ibid. 360, 362, 367.
- 92. Ibid. 390, 403, 446.
- 93. CJ, i. 921b, 922a, 923b.
- 94. CD 1629, pp. 118, 184-5.
- 95. CJ, i. 926b; CD 1629, pp. 78, 149, 248-9.
- 96. CJ, i. 928b.
- 97. Ibid. 930b; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 425; HMC Lonsdale, 55, 71.
- 98. CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 276; CD 1629, pp. 212-13.
- 99. CD 1629, p. 80.
- 100. CJ, i. 931a, 932b.
- 101. Works of Abp. Laud ed. J.Bliss, iv. 225.
- 102. PROB 11/187, ff. 149v-50; C.M. Williams, ‘Anatomy of a Radical Gent.’, in Puritans and Revolutionaries ed. D. Pennington and K. Thomas, 119.