Monday, 27 October 2014

The Life Of Fr John Gerard S.J. (A Hunted Priest) Part 29.


The following inscriptions are still to be seen in the soffit of one of the windows of Father Gerard's cell, and as they are anterior in date to the time of his imprisonment his eye has often scanned them.

Father Gerard probably recognized all these his predecessors in captivity. We do not know who the F. Digby was, whose limping verse, in exquisitely cut letters, tells us that he held his captivity there after his former felicity to be the greatest possible grief that could befall him. The year that he has noted is that of the death of Edward the Sixth, of Lady Jane Grey's short reign, and of Mary's accession. Chetwode we do not know, nor Buxton; but John Fixer was one of a party of twelve priests who left Seville for England at the end of 1590, of which number three, John Cecil alias Snowden, James Young alias Dingley alias Christopher, and this John Fixer alias Wilson, are shown by Lord Burghley's letters in the Public Record Office to have become spies and traitors. " Godsa " is probably the beginning of the name of a Douay priest, named John Godsalfe, who was imprisoned.

John Colleton, or Collington, and Thomas Ford were the two priests who lay side by side with Father Campion in the hiding-place at Lyford, and were taken with him on the 17th of July, 1581. We do not know which cell it was in which Campion was confined, but we learn from Bayly that Thomas Ford, who was afterwards martyred, was imprisoned in the Broad Arrow Tower. The date of the 22nd of July, which Colleton has left on the wall of the Salt Tower, is the very day when they were handed over to the custody of the Lieutenant of the Tower. Colleton was therefore confined here in the first instance. He was afterwards transferred to the Beauchamp Tower, where his name appears again; probably after his acquittal at Father Campion's trial on the alibi proved by Mr. Lancaster, who witnessed " that he was with him in Grays Inn the very day that he was charged with plotting at Rheims." The Douay Diary gives his name as sent into banishment in January, 1585, one of the seventy-two priests who were transported at the same time. He soon returned to England, and lived till 1635. He was the first Dean of the Bishop of Chalcedon's Chapter.

Egremont Radcliffe, Bayly tells us, was the only son of Henry RadclirTe, second Earl of Essex, by his second wife, Anne, daughter of Sir Philip Calthorpe of Norwich, knight. His life was an unhappy one, and it was unhappily ended. Having been engaged in the rebellion of the North in 1569, he fled to Spain and Flanders, but pining for home he wrote earnest letters to ask Burghley's intercession with Elizabeth. His enemy, however, was his own half-brother, the Earl of Sussex, then Lord Chamberlain to the Queen. He crept nearer and nearer to England, as the dates of his letters show, first to Bruges, then to Calais; and at last, despite a warning that Elizabeth sent him, he landed without leave, and was at once sent to the Tower of London. He was at one time in the Beauchamp Tower, where, as in the Salt Tower, he has cut his name and his motto Pour parvenir. On being banished once more, he entered the service of Don John of Austria, but—it is said, by Walsingham's contrivance— he was executed for conspiring against Don John's life. Sanders has the worst opinion of him, calling him "an assassin, with daring enough for any deeds of the kind." He was executed by the Prince of Parma after Don John's death, and at his execution he is said to have confessed that he was sent over to murder Cardinal Allen.

These are all that remain of the inscriptions of prisoners in Father Gerard's cell. In Father Walpole's cell we find the following.

These are of less interest, as we do not know the names. Michael Moody alone is recognizable, for he was committed to the Tower on account of the fictitious plot of the younger Stafford, the Ambassador's brother, against Elizabeth's life, which was invented in order to hasten the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. On the left hand side of the room there was a shield bearing three crosses, and a long memorial in French, which was whitewashed over when Bayly wrote.

Besides these inscriptions there is a carving, and a very curious one, in the cell. It is a circle intersected by many lines, inclosed in a square divided into degrees, and at the side are the signs of the Zodiac arranged in seven columns. In the middle the word " afternoon " is still decipherable. The inscription on it is—

In another part of the room there is a globe carved by the same man. He was committed March 20, 1560, "accused by John Man, an astronomer, on a suspect of [being] a conjurer or sorcerer, and thereby to practise matter against Sir William St. Lowe [spelt also Sentlo] and my lady." So writes Sir Edward Warner, Lieutenant of the Tower, to the Lords of the Privy Council, dating his letter four days before poor Draper dated his inscription. The Lieutenant adds, " He is presently very sick. He seemeth to be a man of good wealth, and keepeth a tavern at Bristowe [Bristol], and is of his neighbours well reported."