BL MSS Cotton Caligula b. ix, 38
BL MSS Cotton Caligula b. ix, 38
Wright Vol 1, 5 Page 12
John Knox to Mr. Raylton (1) Oct. 23 1559
Transcribed by Thomas Wright, ‘Queen Elizabeth and her times,’ London, 1838
Your letters long looked for receaved I in Edinburgh this 23 of October. It is most assured that such a jewell as your other writings due specifye is laitlie cumed to our realme. But it is keapt marvelus secreat, and the rather becaus these cold blastes of winter be able to cause the beaty of such May flowers to faid. Thus much my eis saw and my handes tuched : a trym staff for the Quen then Regent, sent from the persons whom before ye did specifye, in which were all things which ye expresse gorgiusly ingraved on silver, and double gilt. This staff was sene in the moneth of May, in the same schip in which I cam to Scotland, (2) and was schawen unto me in great secrecye. The nomber and names of my neady brethren I did signifye to such as be in your cumpany and unto the man above. The nomber is now augmented, and thair povertie also in such sort that yf releaf be not provided spedely, I fear that mo then I mum when we may not so weall amend it. What wold suffice every in plentei, I cannot weall assure you. But such I know thare necessitei to be, that some that daly fed forty and mo in houshold, is not now able to fead two. God cumfort them ! for thare battall is strong. The alteration that be heer is this the Quen-Regent, with publick consent of the Lordes and Barrens assembled, is deprived of all authoritie and regiment amonges us. Sche, Frenchmen, and assistants ar by open proclamation and denunced enemies and traiters to this commonwealth, for that being thrise required and charged to desist from fortification of Leyth, she and thei do obstinatlie procead in thare wicked enterprise. This was done this Moundaye befor none. Thare shal be appointed to occupye the authoritie a great counsall, the president and cheaf head whereof shall be my Lord Duek. The authoritie of the French King and Quen is yet received, and wil be in workes till thei deny our most just requeastes which ye shall, God willing, shortlie herafter understand, together with our hole proceadings from the beginning of this matter, which we are to sett forth in maner of historie. The battell is begun scharpe ynoufe ; God geve the issew to his glory and our cumfort ! Sche hath yet small advantaige, for for the death of two of our soldiours and for the hurting of three gentilmen, sche hath lost two captaines and hath for wounded many of her cheaf soldiours to the number of twenty upon a day. Thei brag, and the Quen especially, that ye will leave us in the myddest of the truble, and this sche hath of her last post which cam by you. My battell to this day hathe bein very bitter, but yf ye frustrat my expectation and the promesse that I have made in your name, I regard not how few my dolorus dayes shal be. What God hath wrought by me in this mater I will not now wreyte. But this I may say, that such offers ar refused, that mo do judge us fooles, then do praise our constancye. We ar determined to assay the uttermost, but first we must have three thousand mo soldiours, for if we assault and be repulsed, then shall our enterprise be in great hasard. And our commons are not able to abyde together. Geve advertisement theirfor to such as friend us, that without delay our support be sent as weall by money as by men. If your eis be single, ye may not lett to succor our present necessitie, whatsoever daunger appear therof to ensew. I most farther requyvc you to be a suyttar to all such as yon know to be imfained favorers, and especiallie to our brithren of London, to have a respect to our necessities. The Frenche shipps keap the narrow waters heir, which is to us a great noyance, and unto thame a great releafe. Provision wold be had by tymes, which we cannot mack be reasson that all our shippes ar absent, and as we fear stayed, so many as be in France. Mack ye advertisement as ye think good, for I cannot write to any especiall for lacke of opportunity; for in twenty-four hours I have not four or five to naturall rest and ease of this wicked carcasse. Remember my last request for my mother, (3) and say to Mr. George that I have nead of a good and an assured horse, for great watch is laid for my apprehension, and large money promised till any that shall kyll me ; and yet wold I hasard to cum unto you, if I wear assured that I myght be permitted to open my mouth, to call again to Christ Jesus those unthankful children who, allace ! have appeared utterlie to have forgotten his loving mercies, which sometimes I supposed they had embraced. And this part of my care now poured in your bosom, I cease farther to truble you, being trubled myself in body and in spirit for the trubles that be present and appear to grow. God give end to his glory and to our comfort. This 23 of October, 1559, att mydnyght. Many things I have to write, which now tyme suffereth not, but after yf ye mack haste with this messaige, ye shall understand more. ... 1 write with sleeping eis.
Advertise me yf all things cum to your hands close.
(1) J Knox, who had taken refuge with the Protestants at Geneva, returned to Scotland through England on the 2nd of May, 1559. “Raylton seems to have been a sort of private secretary or decypherer." Note in the Sadler Papers. I am more inclined to think by this letter, that it was a feigned name for somebody in a more conspicuous position. An explanation of some passages of this letter will be found in a postscript of one by Sir Ralph Sadler, and Sir James Croft, given a little farther on.
(2) There can be no doubt that the French had been some time maturing their designs not only upon Scotland, but through it upon England also. They had tried, on Mary's marriage, to get her kingdom made over, as it were, to her husband ; but not having succeeded in that point, they had taken advantage of the affection of the Queen-dowager (Mary of Guise) for her family, who now ruled in France, to fill Scotland, under various pretences, with French soldiers, to awe the natives. The majority of the Scots were now zealous Protestants, and, with the turbulent independence of that people, they had little inclination to be deprived by a foreign power at once of civil and religious liberty. The nobles accordingly assembled, and finding the Queen-regent inaccessible to their remonstrances, they proceeded deliberately to depose her from her office. The French, however, did not desist from their enterprise : every day saw new envoys and new preparations for the conquest of Scotland, or (as they termed it,) the reduction of the rebels. The Scots, wanting the resources which their enemies possessed, applied to Elizabeth for aid, and the English government, well aware of the designs of the French, (who made no scruple of laying claim through Mary of Scotland to the crown of England, by advertisements from every side, sent them money, and encouraged them secretly to stand up for their liberties, at the same time strengthening their own borders on the north.
(3) In a letter of Knox to Sir James Crofts, (Sept. 21, 1559,) he says, " One thing must I suite to you, to witt, that either by yourself, or ells by Sir Rafe Sadleyr .... you woolde procure a licence for my mother, Elizabeth Bowis, to visitt me, and to remayne with me for a season." We learn from another letter that she was a widow. Knox's father is supposed to have been a retainer of the Earl of Bothwell.