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general, and Sir Francis Bacon became the new solicitor-general, an office to which he had long aspired, but which, as he imagined, he had been debarred from filling by the influence of Sir Edward Coke. To this feeling, whether just or not, may be traced the animosity which distinguished the intercourse of these two eminent men in after life. But whilst
acon “prostrated one of the noblest intellects with which man was ever endowed” in the pursuit of the royal favour, Coke maintained the most unsullied integrity of judicial character, He opposed the arbitrary and unconstitutional proceedings of the high-commission court, and hesitated not to grant prohibitions, when moved for, against that court and the council of York and Wales, and afterwards to vindicate this bold line of conduct on the part of the judges of the common law, when summoned before his majesty in November, 1608. Four years afterwards, a vehement controversy ensued between Archbishop Abbot and Sir Edward, as to the power of the judges of the common pleas, which ultimately led to a resolution that the court of high-commission should be reformed. To the reformed commission Sir Edward objected that it contained many points contrary to the laws and statutes of England, and refused to sit under it. In 1612, Coke intimated his opinion against the legality of the proclamation, or edicts, which King James had been in the habit of issuing, and in which he assumed to himself the prerogatives of parliament. The opinion presented on this occasion by Sir Edward and his brother Justices bore “that the king by his proclamation cannot create any offence which was not an offence before, for then he may alter the law of the land by his proclamation in a high point; for if he may create an offence where none is, upon that ensues fine and imprisonment,” and “that the king hath no prerogative but that which the law of the land allows him."
The discovery of the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury, in 1615, afforded another opportunity for the display of Sir Edward's professional tact and judicial integrity, and drew forth an encomium even from Bacon himself. The result of this "grand oyer of poisoning,' was the conviction and execution of the prisoners, with the exception of the earl and countess of Somerset, who were pardoned, and even pensioned by the king. In 1616, the attorney.general was ordered to notify to the chiefjustice, that a cause before the king's bench, in which certain positions had been laid down by the council, injurious to the royal prerogative, should proceed no farther until his majesty should have been consulted thereon. This proceeding Coke and his brother-judges declared to be contrary to law and their oaths; and, on being summoned to appear before the privy-council, Sir Edward shrunk not from affirming that the postponement required by the king was a delay of justice, and contrary to law and the judge's oaths. On the following question being propounded to each of the judges : “ Whether if at any time, in a case depending before them, which his majesty conceived to concern him either in power or in profit, and thereupon required to consult with them, that they should stay proceeding in the mean time, they ought not to stay accordingly?" with the single exception of Sir Edward Coke, all the judges acknowledged that it was their duty so to do; but the reply of the lord-chief-justice was, " that when that case should be, he would do that should be fit for a judge to do." The odium inio which, in all probability, this conduct brought the chief justice at court, was farther increased by the dispute in which he involved himself with the lord-chancellor, Ellesmere, with regard to the authority o! their respective courts. Bacon artfully fomented the contest, and incited the king to take part in it against Coke. On the 26th of July, 1616, he was cited before the privy-council and reprimanded for “cer. tain acts and speeches wherewith his majesty was unsatisfied.” On the 15th of November, in the same year, Sir Henry Montague was appointed chief justice, Coke having been previously deprived of his high judicial rank by a writ of supersedeas.
The marriage of Sir Edward's daughter to Sir John Villiers, the brother of the earl of Buckingham, facilitated the restoration of Coke to the royal favour. He had at a former period expressed himself averse to this alliance, but now saw reasons sufficient to induce him to give his consent to the match, which was likewise eagerly promoted by Secretary Winwood, betwixt whom and Sir Francis Bacon a coolness had arisen, and who saw in the restoration of the late chief-justice to power the surest means of humbling the lord-keeper. Bacon did what he could to prevent the match, but drew upon himself the severe censure of the king for his interference, and being soon after convicted of bribery, was disgraced. To the honour of Sir Edward Coke—who was one of the committee appointed to prepare the charges against the chancellor_he displayed great moderation and forbearance in his conduct towards his fallen enemy.
Although thus restored to favour, Sir Edward received no other appointment than that of privy-councillor. In 1620, he appeared in parliament as one of the representatives for the borough of Liskeard, in Cornwall. In this capacity he strenuously upheld the authority of parliament and the privileges of the commons; and he took so active a part in the question of privileges arising out of the case of Sir Edwin Sandys, that, on the 27th of December, 1621, he was committed to the Tower, and soon afterwards he was again dismissed from his place at the council-table. On the accession of Charles I., Coke took a conspicuous part in opposing the subsidies. To get rid of his opposition in the house of commons, he was nominated sheriff of Buckinghamshire, but, notwithstanding this appointment, he was returned as knight of the shire for Norfolk. In the third parliament of Charles I., Sir Edward appeared as one of the representatives for Buckinghamshire, and gave his assistance to the framing of the famous petition of right. Sir Robert Heath, the attorney-general, having, on the first discussion, treated some of Coke and Selden's precedents for the ancient liberties of England slightingly, Coke replied, restating them, and declaring, in the full confidence of his powers and his cause, that "it was not under Mr Attorney's cap to answer any one of those arguments." He also boldly attacked the duke of Buckingham, whom he openly denounced as the cause of all the nation's misfortunes. On the dissolution of this parliament, in March, 1628, 0. S., Sir Edward Coke retired from public life to his seat at Stoke-Pogis, where he spent the remainder of his life. He died on the 3d of September, 1634, and was buried at Titeshall church, in Norfolk. A short time previous to his death bis house was searched by an order from the privy-council, for treasonable and seditious papers, and many of his valuable MSS. carried away.
“Sir Edward Coke," says a writer in the • Retrospective review,' “has been emphatically and truly called, the oracle of the law, for his name alone confers an almost undisputed authority. His learning was at once profound, excursive, and curious. When he applied the powers of his strong mind to the illustration of a legal question, he wholly exhausted the subject, and rather than quit it he would resort even to remote analogies. With the grounds and reasons of the common law he was perfectly familiar, and, upon the whole, he may be considered the most consummate lawyer of his own or any other time. His works, the honourable monuments of his unconquerable industryfor they were composed in the precious intervals of a more than usually active professional life—have received from succeeding times those marks of distinction which are due to their merit. His Institutes and Reports are called par excellence, The Institutes' and 'The Reports, and his first Institute, the Commentary upon Littleton, has become the bible of the law. In the course of his laborious researches, some inaccuracies and incongruities necessarily occur, more especially in the posthumous portions of his works. The incorruptible integrity which he displayed in his professional character is, even more than his learning, worthy of the highest praise. His preferment was always obtained, to use his own words, without either prayers or pence, and in an age more than usually corrupt, he avoided the general contamination.”
BORN A. D. 1577.-DIED A. D. 1634.
This strenuous supporter of the royal prerogative was the son of William Noy of St Burian in Cornwall
, gent. He was born there in 1577, and, at the age of sixteen, he became a student at Exeter college, Oxford. Here he continued about three years a severe student, and from thence proceeded to the study of the common law in Lincoln's inn, where he persevered with extraordinary diligence in that pursuit, and where he laid the foundation of his great reputation for a knowledge of old records and precedents.
Toward the close of the reign of James the First he was chosen to represent Helston, in his native county ; and in two successive parliaments appeared as “a professed enemy to the king's prerogative.”
In 1625, soon after the accession of Charles Ist, he was elected for St Ives, in Cornwall, and in this and the following parliament persevered in his opposition to the royal claims. Having thus distinguished himself on the side of popular rights, he was sent for by Charles, who told him that he would make him his attorney-general. Noy appeared at first indifferent to the proposed honour ; but, after much solicitation, accepted the office, and, from that moment, commenced a course diametrically opposed to the former, and became the most able and determined advocate of the prerogative of the crown, advising and assisting the king, in his measures for raising money without consent of parliament. Clarendon remarks of him, that on this advancement, “ the court made no impression upon his manners : upon his mind it did ; and, though he wore about him an affected morosity, which made him unapt to flatter other men, yet even that morosity and pride rendered him the most liable to be flattered himself that can be imagined. And by this means, the great persons who steered the public affairs, by admiring his parts and extolling his judgment, as well to his face as behind his back, wrought upon him by degrees, for the eminency of the service, to be an instrument in all their designs; thinking that he could not give a clearer testimony that his knowledge in the law was greater than all other men's, than by making that law which all other men believed not to be so. So he moulded, framed, and pursued the odious and crying project of soap; and with his own hand drew and prepared the writ for shipmoney, both which will be the lasting monuments of his fame."
Noy was an indefatigable student and antiquary; and, being exhausted with severe application, went, in 1634, to Tunbridge wells, for the benefit of the waters ; but, receiving no benefit from them, he sunk under his complaint—a disease of the heart—and died there on the 9th of August, in that year. His body was conveyed to New Brentford, in Middlesex, and buried there under the communion-table of the parish church.
The king, it is said, was much affected by the death of his attorneygeneral ; and, on the news of his decease reaching Laud, archbishop of Canterbury, then at Hoydon, he inserted in his diary :—“I have lost a dear friend of him, and the church the greatest she had of his condition since she needed any such." The clergy in general sympathized with this prelate on their loss; but the people, in general, rejoiced. Lloyd, in his State Worthies, observes of Noy, that “ he was very vigilant over the adversaries of the church. Witness his early foresight of the danger, and industrious prosecution of the illegality of the design of buying impropriations, set up by persons not well-affected to the constitution.” He adds, that “he loved to hear Dr Preston preach, because he spake so solidly, as if he knew God's will."
Noy, however, was no friend to the puritans, but eagerly seized those occasions which his office admitted for visiting them with the penalties of the law. This appears in his prosecution of Prynne for a passage in his · Histrio-mastix,' which Laud and the bishops pretended was treasonable, or at least scandalous to the character of the queen, Henrietta, who had acted a part in a play at Somerset-house.
Noy's will created much surprise, from its singularity, and affords some idea of his peculiar manner. After bequeathing his son, Humphrey, a hundred marks per annum, he says, “the rest of all my lands, goods, &c., I leave to my son, Edward Noy, (whom I make my executor,) to be consumed and scattered about, nec de eo melius sperari, nor do I hope any better of him.” But Edward, whatever effect so harsh a censure might have had upon him, lived only two years after his father, either to squander the estate or to reform, being killed in a duel in France, by one Captain Byron. Noy left many MSS. prepared for publication, and several of which were printed during the commonwealth.-1. ‘A Treatise of the principal grounds and maxims of the laws of England.' 1641.-2. “Perfect Conveyancer, or several select and choice precedents.' 1655.-3. • Reports and cases in the time of Queen Elizabeth, King James, and King Charles I., containing the most excellent exceptions for all manner of declarations, pleadings, and demurs, exactly examined and laid down.' 1656.-4. · The Complete
Lawyer; or a treatise concerning tenures and estates in lands of inheritance for life and other hereditaments, and chattels, real and personal, &c.' 1661.-5. Arguments of law and speeches.'
He also left behind him several choice collections that he had made from the records in the Tower of London, reduced into two large paper books of his own hand-writing. One contained collections concerning the king's maintaining his naval power, according to the practice of his ancestors; and the other about the privileges and jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts. To the latter collection, Dr Thomas James of Oxford, in the compilation of his · Manuduction or Introduction unto Divinity,' printed in 1625, confesses himself indebted.
This celebrated statesman was the fourth son of Thomas Wotton, of Bocton-Malherb in Kent, and grandson of Sir Edward Wotton, privyo councillor, and treasurer of Calais, under Henry VIII. He was born in 1568, and received his early education at Winchester, whence he was removed to Oxford, where he entred as a gentleman-commoner of New-college in 1594, but soon after removed to Queen's college. While at Oxford, he distinguished himself by close application to his studies ; his proficiency in logic and philosophy was highly satisfactory to his tutors, but he peculiarly attached himself to the instructions of Albericus Gentilis, an Italian refugee of the protestant faith, who at this time filled the chair of jurisprudence at Oxford. This able man honoured young Wotton with his confidence, and assisted him in the attainment of Italian. He appears also to have occasionally sought relief from severer studies in the society of the muses, for we find him receiving the thanks of the society of Queen's college for the gratification which his tragedy of • Tancredo' had afforded them.
In 1589 his father died, and he succeeded to a small annuity of one hundred marks. On this slender pittance he determined to set out on his travels; and accordingly he appears to have spent several years in France, Germany, and Italy. He resided but one year in France ; the next three years he spent in Germany, chiefly at Ingolstadt and Vienna, where he passed for a German and a catholic. At Vienna he lodged with the emperor's librarian, and enjoyed an opportunity of inspecting numerous important manuscripts relating to the state of the empire. From Germany he passed into Italy, where he remained five years. His long residence in the latter country, though ostensibly devoted to the pursuit of literature and the fine arts, was doubtless connected with some purposes of a political nature, for we find him using many precautions to conceal his nation. In May, 1592, he thus writes to Lord Zouch from Florence, giving an account of his journey from Ve. nice to Rome: “ I had the company of the baron, with whom, notwith standing the catholic religion, I entered into very intrinsical familiarity, having persuaded him that I was half his countryman, himself being born, though under the duke of Cleve, not far from Colen, which went for my town.
I found him by conversation to be very indiscreet, soon