Within a fortnight of becoming a widow, the Viscountess St. Alban married Mr. John Underhill, at the Church of St. Martin's in the Fields, London, upon the 20th April, 1626.
It seems surprising that she braved public opinion in this manner, and showed such a want of taste and tact; and her character had surely changed greatly from that of the young girl who became Bacon's bride, for the marriage must have taken place within a day or two after Bacon's body was placed in St. Michael's vault.
She showed no sign of sorrow for the death of the great lawyer and philosopher she had been allied to, yet in after years, when happiness was not her lot, she must sometimes have looked backward into her early married life, and thought of the man who had raised her to such high positions, and showered so many gifts upon her, in the generosity of his big heart.
She deliberately chose in her second husband a weak personality, who failed to understand her nature, and who caused her disappointment in many ways.
Everything points to the warm friendship between Alice St. Alban and John Underhill being the cause of Bacon having added that drastic codicil to his will where for "just and great causes" he utterly revokes all gifts to his wife, leaving her to her right only, namely, her portion and her marriage settlements. This is a serious step for a husband to take, and must have been a heartbreaking proceeding for the unfortunate philosopher, who had lately fallen from his high position of Lord Chancellor of England and undergone such humiliation.
The Codicil was written some months before Bacon died.
Certainly three hundred years ago it was quite customary for rich widows to re-marry again soon after the death of their husbands, and a lady's intimate friends found that they were immediately entreated, both by male acquaintances and strangers, to be negotiators respecting a new alliance for the widow.
It must have been flattering to the lady's vanity to be so much sought after, but a woman in that position was evidently considered to require a confidential assistant in the management of her estates, and a comforter and protector in her private and domestic life.
It seems pretty plain to us that the Viscountess St. Alban had long ago made up her mind on whom she would bestow her hand en seconde noce, but we also find that this hasty marriage was repented at leisure, and even more so by the husband than the wife.
We wonder if this marriage had her mother's approval?
It is certain that many of her friends withdrew themselves from her acquaintance, and expressed their surprise at her conduct.
We have now to turn to the printed pedigree of this branch of the Underhills, of Warwickshire, to discover where the husband of Viscountess St. Alban had a place, and it may help inquirers if we here remark that he was the only "John" of the family who was knighted.
As he came of an influential family, he evidently used that influence to be raised in rank, thereby assuming a status more on a level with the Viscountess St. Alban.
On July 12th, 1626, King Charles knighted him at Oatlands.
In the pedigree we see that his father's name was Thomas Underhill, of Lox1ey and Nether Pillerton, in Warwickshire, and that his grandfather was also a Thomas (who entered Lincoln's Inn).
Going a little further back, we come upon his greatgrandfather, Thomas Underhill, of Nether Ettington, whose daughter married her cousin William. Their son sold "New Place" to William Shakespeare. This lady was, therefore, the aunt of Sir John's father.
We also find in the pedigree, Thomas Underhill, of Oxhill, Executor of Sir John's "will," and also the names of ten relatives mentioned in that document who are to receive small legacies.
It was only by carefully making note of the names and relationships in Sir John Underhill's "will'' (His will is in Somerset House) that his "pedigree " was finally confirmed and completed. The matter was put into the hands of a well-known Warwickshire expert, Mr. Richard Savage, and is considered to be correct. Three hundred years ago a nephew was spoken of as "cozen." We see by this tree that Sir John Underhill was a younger son of Thomas Underhill, of Loxley and Nether Pillerton, and that his eldest brother, Thomas, sold his Manors in 1593. The son of the latter was the Thomas Underhill, one of His Majesty's Life Guards, who was left executor of the will, and this man evidently resided with Sir John in the parish of St. Giles in the Fields, when his military duties allowed. His sister, Ann, was the niece of Sir John, who is described as being under the Viscountess and Sir John's care, and "who had little means and no other friends but himself." This young lady caused much trouble by marrying the man who almost fraudulently secured Sir John's possessions by way of "marriage portion " with the dowerless niece. Though she is thus described as almost friendless, she had a brother in the Guards, and another, John, who is said to have entered Gray's Inn, 14th June, 1651.
The Viscountess St. Alban, through her marriage, must in this way have known the Warwickshire branch of Underhills, and Sir Francis Bacon was also well acquainted with that family, for John Underhill became his gentleman usher in 1617, when York House was the important residence of the Keeper of the Seals, who was left in charge of England during King James' Northern tour.
We like to think that after Sir John received his knighthood he would take his Lady wife to beautiful Warwickshire to visit his relations there, and that together they would wander over the countryside which he knew so well.
Of course, they would visit Loxley and Nether Pillerton, which was probably his birth-place, as it had formerly belonged to his father, and he would have much to show her there.
Then they would visit Stratford-on-Avon, and see the house, "New Place," which passed from the hands of Sir John's second cousin in 1602 to William Shakespeare, who combined several trades with that of money-lender.
And Sir John would relate once more, when visiting Idlecote, how his cousin, William Underhill, had been poisoned by his own son, Fulke, and what a stir the crime made in the county. Yes, there would be much to talk about. Going on to seven miles from Stratford, they would spend some time in the beautiful Park of Nether Ettington, with its quaint Chapel of "St. Thomas ࠂecket," where the Underhills and Bacon families lie buried so closely together, for on a tablet on the tower is a long description of Thomas Underhill and his wife, Elizabeth, who lived together sixty-five years, and had twenty children (they died within a few months of each other, in 1603); and next to this table is a Bacon memorial. Further on, the name "Bacon" occurs again, and we are told that there were several colonies of that family in the County of Warwickshire.
After the death of Francis, Viscount St. Alban, the Viscountess, as she was still called, took up her residence with her second husband at Gorhambury, Hertfordshire, which estate belonged to her as tenant for life under her marriage settlement.
It has generally been understood that Viscount St. Alban, before his death, made a will in which he left Gorhambury estate under trustee for the future use of his kinsman, Thomas Meautys, but we find from the Chancery documents in the Record Office, that the Viscountess was living there while she was the wife of Sir John Underhill, and owned the place.
The misunderstanding may have arisen as the Viscountess conveyed the Manors of Gorhambury, Westwich and Praye to trustees to pay her an annuity of ?530 a year, and Thomas Meautys was one of the trustees.
Sir Thomas Meautys did become possessed of Gorhambury later on, but it is difficult to find out in what manner he secured it. Bacon may have left it to him after his wife's "life interest" in it was over, or, perhaps, he bought the estate after his marriage to a rich heiress, Miss Anne Bacon, about the year 1640.
He is called Sir Thomas Meautys of Gorhambury in the grant of letters of administration.
Mr. John Underhill was about the same age as his wife, or a little younger, and he had but small means, which fact he concealed from his wife's trustees.
We understand that on the death of Viscount St. Alban his widow came into a considerable amount of money and property, though, of course, she would have been a much richer woman had her husband retained his position of Lord Chancellor to the end of his life.
He had made considerable provisions for her, and safe-guarded her interests as far as possible before his fall. But she must have had expenses which she could not avoid, and large sums must have gone in getting clear of York House, and in the funeral charges of the Viscount, etc.
We may consider that she had over ?1,000 a year, and a large quantity of goods and chattels. Lord Bacon had settled on her the lucrative gift he had received from King James, called "The Profits of the Great Seal for Sixpenny Writs," which was one of her best possessions and brought her in ?600 a year.
Then with her "portion," and with some money added by Viscount St. Alban, she had purchased land in Redburn, near St. Albans, which brought a good return, but which was a continual source of friction between her and her second husband, as the latter claimed she had settled it upon him for his life. This land was "Butler's Farm."
A third source of income was two houses in Bishopsgate Street, London, which were let to a goldsmith called Underwood.
Some of the law documents mention land in Middlesex and Essex, and it is evident that she still owned the property in Kent which her father left her in his will, and which she devised to her nephew, Stephen Soames, at her death.
Tenements in Kensington and Paddington are also named.
She lived rent free in Gorhambury, and received money from the rents of houses and fields on that property, and also from the Manors of Westcott and Praye. Verulam House was part of her estate also. Besides the above, Sir John quotes that she had great riches in jewels, plate, furnishings, etc., and some property in Chelmsford, in Essex.
But, as we have said, these properties and the money derived from them were a continual source of contention between husband and wife, and trustees and lawyers, for most of her property was held for her under trustees, which was fortunate, for in fits of generosity and good humour she might have parted with her inheritance.
She had extravagant tastes, which no doubt were annoying to her husband, and she would also sometimes give away with her right hand, and hold back with her left.
She certainly had made promises to Sir John that he would be her heir and succeed to her estates at her death, and she had made certain deeds to this effect, but always with the power to revoke them if she wished to, and when Sir John applied to her trustees to sign the documents they delayed doing so at her instigation, and kept postponing all settlements as long as possible. He was constantly irritated by being told that he did not show any income to match his wife's, as he had formerly boasted he would.
Even after the Lady's death, Sir John had to file bills in Chancery to secure the estate, which was to bring him in ?400 a year, as promised, and he then declared her estate amounted to ?30,000.
Very likely this second marriage had been kept secret until after Underhill was knighted, but why he was thus raised we have not discovered. The probability is that he held some post at King Charles' recent coronation.
No sooner had the Viscountess St. Alban taken a second husband to protect her and her interests, than she became aware that she was expected to pay some of Viscount St. Alban's debts out of the handsome inheritance he had left her, and that his creditors might sue her in some way for the same.
Some of her estates had formerly been held in trust by Sir John Constable (her sister's husband), and William Hatcher, who were to convey the rents to the Viscount and Viscountess, and on the death of either of them the trustees should hand over the estates to the "Longer liver" of them.
In Bacon's will he says, "I do reckon that Gorhambury and my lands in Hertfordshire will be worth unto her seven hundred pounds per annum."
The widow had also other estates in Hertfordshire.
When the death of the Viscount occurred, his widow demanded these estates, but we had better give an extract from the document, as it names a good deal of her property, and is dated a year after Bacon's death, 6th February, 1626/7. (*Chancery proceedings Charles I. U. 15/85)
"Alice, Viscountess St. Albans, now the wife of Sir John Underhill, about April 16, James I (1618) paid to Henry Axtell, of `Butlers,' Co. Hertford, yeoman, the sum of ?800 for the farm called 'Butlers' in the parish of Redbourne, Co. Herts, together with one close called 'Nutthasell field' containing 12 acres, one field called 'Thisby field' containing 16 acres, one field called 'Peckfield' containing 171 acres, one field called 'Great Baule' containing 40 acres, one field called 'Little Baule' containing 210 acres, one field called 'Rockscroft' with a spring there unto adjoining, containing 7 acres, one field called 'Gravel Pitt' field with a spring adjoining to the same containing 9 acres, one field called 'Beescroft' with a spring also round about the same containing 9 acres, one wood called 'Baule Grove' containing 5 acres, one field called 'Great Tyngers' containing 6 acres, one field called 'Little Tyngers' containing 4 acres, one field called 'Plettens' containing 8 acres, and one meade lying at a certain bridge called 'Stafford Bridge' containing 5 acres, all of which lands, etc., are in the parishes of Redbourne and St. Michael near the town of St. Albans, Co. Hertford, and Sir John Constable and William Hatcher held the premises in trust, that Sir Francis Bacon, then her husband, and she his wife, and the longer liver of them, should receive the rents of the same, but upon the request of the Viscountess St. Albans to convey the same to her, her heirs and assigns, Constable and Hatcher refuse to convey the premises to her."
"Sir John Constable says the premises were purchased with part of the Lady's "portion" money, with the consent of her husband, the Viscount. The Viscountess and her now husband, Sir John Underhill, are possessed of a great part of the Viscount's estate-being no part of the said lands purchased in trust as aforesaid, nor any part of the Lady's jointure-which estate this defendant is fully persuaded that in equity they have no right to, and that the same ought to be disposed to pay the late Viscount's debts; and he says that "if the Viscountess and her now husband, Sir John Underhill, will pay him the ?280 owing to him from the late Viscount he will assign over to them the said trust."
These documents are interesting and throw light upon the way in which Viscount St. Alban's estate was to some extent pilfered instead of being disposed of to pay his creditors, and also shows that Sir John Constable was anxious the debt to himself should be paid off first of all.
And now the Viscountess St. Alban entered on a very different life, and her whole position was changed, for she dropped from being a grand lady down to the unimportant wife of a middle-class man, so far as one can judge, and gradually quarrels, disputes, and lawsuits assailed her.
According to documents in the Record Office of Chancery proceedings, she continued to live at Gorhambury, and claimed to have the power to leave it in her will to whom she chose, but it was an estate which more than one man was anxious to secure, and who thought they had as much right to it as anyone else, considering that the Viscountess had no heirs of her body to succeed her. In later documents mention is made that the widow of Viscount St. Alban had only a life interest in Gorhambury. She had promised Sir John Underhill that he should inherit her house and lands if he "overlived" her, but she reserved the right of revoking this arrangement if she chose, probably with a view to keeping some power over her second husband.
Sir John, on the other hand, found he had married a lady of high temper, who often changed her mind, and blew hot or cold, according to her emotions at the moment, and who still demanded much deference. She had, moreover, a haughty, interfering mother. So he used to escape down to his lodgings in the Strand, where he could have peace and quiet, and do as he liked, with his men friends about him.
Within two years of Viscount St. Albans death, the Viscountess had to take Chancery proceedings against a Goldsmith of London called Daniel Underwood - about a house, or two houses, in Bishopsgate Street, which she inherited under her father's will. We also remember that, in 1594, Anthony Bacon was living in Bishopsgate Street, having taken a house there to be near the Bull Inn, where plays were performed, which attracted the fashionable men about town, such as the Earl of Essex (who employed Anthony Bacon on secretarial work), and other theatre haunting gentlemen. Anthony Bacon's property in Bishopsgate Street may have been inherited by his brother Francis.
We first hear this property mentioned about the year 1594, after Anthony Bacon's return from the Court of Navarre, where he had occupied an official position in Henri Quatre's Court. It was then that the play of "Love's Labour's Lost" was acted in London. All the dramatis personae of this play were contemporary characters of that date, the plot is laid in the King of Navarre's Court, and the chief characters are called by the names of the principal Commanders in the Navarre army - Biron, Dumain, and Boyresse - who were well known to Anthony Bacon, and who signed his passports when he travelled home again. These passports are now in the British Museum MS. department. Anthony Bacon may have wished to reside near the Bull Inn, where plays were acted.
We may here remark that all documents now mentioned concerning the Viscountess begin in the same manner ; namely, by calling her the wife of the late Viscount St. Alban, but now the wife of Sir John Underhill, Knt. So there is no mistake as to who is intended. One runs as follows, and is dated 1 July, 1628. Charles I. U. 1/62. :
"Alice, Viscountess St. Albans, now wife of Sir John Underhill, during the life of her late husband, Francis, Viscount St. Albans, were seized in their demesne as of fee in the right of Alice, of and in the messuage in Bishopsgute Street in the parish of St. Martyns it to one Daniel Underwood of London, Goldsmith, in Out-wiche, London, and being so seized, they leased January, 1621-2, for the term of 10 years, he paying yearly ?10 as expressed in the said Indenture."
The document goes on to say that Daniel Underwood assigned over his lease of the messuage to one William Swarland, who tried to defraud them not only of the rent, but also of the inheritance of the messuage, "which he is rather encouraged to do, for that he knoweth that the complainants lost the counterpart of the Lease, so they cannot recover the same at the common law."
The answer of William Swarland denies he intended to defraud the complainants, or that he ever had the counterpart of the lease in his hands, and he also denies that he hath said that the inheritance of the messuage is in him, or that he owes ?20 for rent. He is ready to give a copy of his lease and of the assignment made to him if they will pay for it, and further says that the messuage was made over to him by Underwood, deceased, and by no other." This affair must have been a troublesome one to settle, and we are not sure how it ended.
When Sir John Underhill married the Viscountess he had certainly secured a rich prize, and looked forward to inheriting a good deal should he survive his wife, but in 1631 quarrels had already begun, and we find he had a case in Chancery* about this same inheritance. (*Public Record Office, Charles I. U 8/59)
At that early date he had not calculated on coming across a man who was just as eager as himself to inherit the handsome estates of Lady St. Alban, and who was much cleverer and more unscrupulous in his dealings. This latter was Mr. Nicholas Bacon, of Gray's Inn, who was either a son of Bacon's eldest half-brother, Sir Nicholas Bacon, of Redgrave, in Suffolk, or a son of his youngest half-brother, Edward, of the Alienation Office, who had married Helen Little, of Shrubland Hall, Suffolk. He was most likely a Redgrave man, and, therefore, a near relative of the late owners of Gorhambury, and knew all that related to the inheritance. He was already intimate with Sir John Underhill, for, in the list of "Gentlemen in Waiting" on the Keeper of the Seals at York House, we find the two names bracketted together, "Mr. Underhill and Nicholas Bacon."
This Nicholas became Lady St. Alban's intimate friend and Law Agent, and was entrusted by her with the business connected with all the estate. He evidently was quite familiar with the lady's hasty and excitable spirit, and was ready to turn it to his own advantage.
But, from being a friend to both parties, he turned into their clever enemy, for they found he had traded on the lady's changeable temper and had also taken advantage of Sir John Underhill's weakness and good nature. To comprehend the position better we must "chercher la femme." It appears that the Viscountess, after her marriage, had allowed a niece of Sir John's to reside with them in some capacity or other, which was of no importance.
We hear that this girl, whose name was Anne Underhill, was one to whom her uncle "bore great affection," but the Viscountess "little or nothing esteemed her," and her position in the household must have been rather anomalous and trying.
We are also given to understand that she was almost alone in the world, having "little means and no other friends," and that Sir John declared she would be his heiress.
The crafty Nicholas Bacon saw that Anne Underhill could become the pivot round which he could work and gain his ends, the most important of which appears to have been the inheritance of Gorhambury. But there were other pickings a little easier to secure, as they belonged to Sir John alone, and these Nicholas quickly made sure of. His line of deduction was that Anne was her uncle's heiress, and that Sir John was Lady St. Albans heir, so after both her relations were deceased Anne would inherit a good estate, to bring to any man she might choose as a husband. Mr. Nicholas Bacon determined he would be the husband in this case, and he set about casting his net.
The whole story is told in the lengthy documents (some are 25 inches broad by 22 long) on vellum in the Record Office, and describe the workings of the various parties concerned, but we will shorten the law language and use an easier medium. The document reads as if Sir John was not in residence with his wife at the time of the suit.
Nicholas first sounded Sir John Underhill upon the subject of becoming a suitor for the hand of the girl, Anne, who was probably unconsulted. The idea pleased the uncle, who had already given Nicholas the impression that he intended to make this niece his heiress. This was all right as far as it went, but Nicholas firmly insisted that if he married the young lady he would require some portion down, and he kept arguing (as we see by the Vellum Roll) that by this arrangement "he aimed not at any portion by her, but only for the satisfaction of the World that he did not marry and take a wife without some portion, which he pretended was the chief thing he required."
The document goes on to say,
"Whereupon Sir John, having formally taken upon himself the care of his said kinswoman, who had little means and no other friends but himself, and being desirous to see her well married, gave his consent to the propounded marriage, which he the rather did because Nicholas Bacon had before informed him that his said Lady wife had given, or that he would undertake to gain, her consent thereto, and Sir John believed that Nicholas Bacon did really mean what he had then pretended, without any fraudulent intention, and Nicholas Bacon only to gain some show of advancement to the World as he pretended by the marriage, desired Sir John to make a covenant with him for assurance of ?100 from land per annum, and ?100 per annum out of the 'profits of the Great Seal for sixpenny writs and commissions' (granted formerly by Patent from the late King's Majesty to the said late Viscount St. Alban, and now come to Lady St. Alban), to commence after the death of the present owners. And Nicholas Bacon also desired to have Sir John's Covenant for leaving him some household stuff after the death of the said Lady without issue. Which covenants, he said, would give him some credit, and the World some satisfaction touching his intended marriage, and that was all the use he intended to make of them, and that he had no intention to encumber the Lady's estates without her full consent. Nicholas Bacon added that as these propositions only depended on casualties, and hopes of my Lady's consent, that Sir John might hand him a lease of certain Tithes in Lancashire which belonged to his own estate, and Sir John, having trust and confidence in Nicholas, allowed him to draw up some indentures, and signed them."
But no sooner had Sir John signed the paper, after merely glancing at it, than he found that, contrary to his meaning, the clever Nicholas had induced him to agree to parting with his Tithes arising in Barton, in Amoundernes in Co. Lancashire, and also a lease of Verulam House, and other lands about it in Hertfordshire, worth ?50 per annum, being part of the Viscountess' jointure, and also a covenant to assure to Nicholas, and his wife, and their heirs, ?100 per annum out of the profits of the Seal, which really belonged to Lady St. Alban, and also to give lands worth ?100 per annum within three months of their marriage. But Nicholas, having got so much, did not see why he should not try to have a little more, so he added a covenant on Sir John's part to assure also all the lands of inheritance the lady and gentleman possessed in London, Middlesex, Essex and Hertfordshire, being about ?400 per annum, upon Nicholas and Anne and their heirs after the death of the present owners. Nicholas easily persuaded Sir John that Lady St. Alban could revoke all these testaments at any time, and Sir John, thinking the paper only contained further arrangements to take place after his death, signed away his property, and then found he must take his case to Chancery to get back some of it, especially what belonged to Lady St. Alban. Nicholas had quickly married the lady, who was to be the means of bringing him a handsome income, but when the full force of this semi-secret arrangement was found out by the Viscountess, she fell into a storm of reproach, surprise and anger with Sir John, and a serious quarrel took place between them. She demanded back the control over her property, and she must have been much chagrined to find her husband was counting upon inheriting her estates so far ahead.
Nicholas cared nothing at all what the Lady said, and he at once sold the Tithes in Lancashire for ?500, and did not make any jointure to his wife for her livelihood in case she survived him.
The argument in Chancery declared that Nicholas had induced Sir John Underhill, "who was an almost totally deaf man, and by reason of the weakness of his eyes and the infirmity in his head, could not read writings of that nature without much pain," to sign a paper thinking it contained quite other matter. This is the first time we hear of Sir John's infirmities.
Nicholas Bacon's answer in Chancery showed him to have used several unnecessary weapons to clear his character. In it he declared "he did not know what to think, for the Viscountess when he saw her at Gorhambury sometimes expressed great love for her husband, and at other times quite the contrary, and sometimes, after declaring she would leave everything she had to her husband, she would insist that he should have nothing from her; and at one time when her husband was quite out of favour with her, Nicholas declared she had conference with him how he, Nicholas, could have the disposing of the greatest part of her estate after her death without issue and also how he might get in the inheritance of Gorhambury at her death, protesting how glad she would be of it."
He made out quite a good case in his own favour, and had not only the newly signed paper in his hands, but all former documents belonging to the Viscountess in connection with her properties.
He threatened the unfortunate Sir John, and insisted that ?200 was owing to him, which Sir John was obliged to pay, so Nicholas gained a good deal of money in a very short time, besides a wife whom he did not care much about, and who had not a very happy life by all appearances.
This document in Chancery also states "that Nicholas at one time persuaded or cheated the Viscountess into a belief that there was likely to be some question in law about certain houses which belonged to her in London, worth ?50 per annum, and that it was safer for her to establish the estate thereof in him, Nicholas, than to continue it in herself, and the conveyance thereof was made to him accordingly without consideration, and in trust only for her, and to be at her disposal, and she having asked him to re-convey the same to her and her heirs, he refused and kept the deed of conveyance."
Lady St. Alban and her husband seem to have been at the mercy of this self-interested lawyer, and his sharp practice was the means of breaking up their joint establishment, for it seems that the Lady had lost affection for a husband who was calculating what estates he would inherit from her when she died, and Sir John was impatient because the Viscountess had not yet signed any deed conveying money or property to him during his lifetime, and he was, therefore, entirely dependent on her bounty.
So it appears that, about five years after the second marriage, quarrels arose between the Viscountess and Sir John Underhill about one thing and another, and their natures seemed to have become violently opposed, unfortunately.
The Viscountess loved excitement and gay society, which she could hardly expect to have while her husband was in a frail state of health, for we are given to understand, in this last document, that "Sir John was a man totally deaf, and with an infirmity in his eyes and head which prevented his being able to read." Sir John must have depended on quiet and good nursing to bring him round, and that was just what his wife could not give him, with her impatient nature; in fact, she constantly left the house and separated herself for a time from him, after some outbreak of temper. Married life was monotonous, and failed to bring happiness and enjoyment.
And yet the couple had been fond of each other in their own way if no one had interfered between them. (*We find by the "Verney Memoires" that Gorhambury was let to George Redcliffe. sixth Earl of Sussex, and his wife, from 1638 to the date of the Earl's death in 1643.)
It is unfortunate that we have no letters or correspondence of any sort to help us, but in tracing the character of Alice, Viscountess St. Alban, as revealed by law documents, one is struck by the resemblance she bears to her mother in temperament and behaviour, and it is evident that the mother's character had a good deal of influence on the daughter.
Dorothy, n饠Smith, who married Benedict Barnham for her first husband, and Sir John Pakington for her second, owned a strong temper, and was a self-willed, emotional creature, who is called "the little violent lady," by a contemporary writer.
Notwithstanding her temper, she could be charming to those she wished to attract to her side, and, with her pretty face and clever ways, men were only too willing to linger in her presence.
She evidently was a good organiser in a household, and could entertain large parties, and steer ceremonial banquets in the right order very successfully. Nothing was too big for her in that way.
She strove to rise in the social scale all her life, and succeeded!
If a genealogist turns the pages of an old "Peerage," he will find that the blood of Dorothy Smith runs through many of our great families, and that her name crops up as connected with Lords and Earls in a rather surprising manner, considering she was not born in the purple. In one particular the tastes of the mother and daughter differed extremely, for while the mother constantly exercised her fascinations over people who were in a higher grade of life than her own, her daughter, Alice, gradually descended in the scale, and influenced, or came under the influence of, men in a much lower position than the one she was entitled to, and to which Bacon had raised her. Alice loved being looked up to with deference, and rejoiced in lording it over those who found they could be the gainers by flattery and submission. This was an unfortunate trait in the character of the Viscountess, and led her into many scrapes and quarrels, for often subterfuges and underhand dealings had to be exercised to gain her consent, which roused her anger when revealed.
She found that by promising reward of future gifts, to be given either during her life or after her death, that she gained service from people about her, whom otherwise she could not hold, as she had no personal affection or sympathy to give them. But when these hangers-on became impatient or importunate, they aroused her passionate nature, and she stormed loudly. The older she grew, the more difficult did she become to live with, and the further did her relatives shrink from her, whereas her mother sailed gaily along into rich and secure havens to the end of her long life, connecting herself with high families by third and fourth successful marriages. Widow Barnham could not be resisted! The mother became the Grand Lady, while her daughter lost that position entirely.
Shortly after the Viscountess condescended to marry John Underhill, her widowed mother bestowed her own hand on Sir Robert Needham, of Stavington or Shuston, in Adderley, Salop, who had been created Viscount Kilmorey on the 8th April, 1625.
He had entered the matrimonial state three times, but was ready to try the experiment yet again, and so laid his hand and fortune at Lady Pakington's feet. This union did not last long, for the Viscount died in November, 1631, and was buried at Adderley, leaving his widow some money and estates.
But she needed neither land nor pelf to attract men. What though she was past her prime and a grandmother to many children! Had she not the charm which she could throw round a man like a net? And while her daughter, Alice, was alienating her husband and making friends with the wrong men, her mother only consorted with the highest, and for her fourth husband married the Earl of Kellie, who, though an old man, knew an attractive woman when he saw one, and persuaded her to marry him. Her circumstances did not compel her to seek a guardian, but she was evidently ready to have a companion.
At the time of her fourth marriage, the Countess of Kellie must have been over sixty years of age, while the Earl was approaching seventy.
He was a well-known man, and circumstances had been very kind to him, for his luck had been proverbial. First known as Sir Thomas Erskine, of Gogar, this Scotsman was born in the same year as his Sovereign, James VI of Scotland and I of England (1566), and they had been companions and fellow students under the learned Scotch professors who had the training of the young King. So together they grew up and remained on intimate terms.
In the year 1600, King James nearly lost his life in the mysterious affair called "The Gowrie Conspiracy," when he had been enticed to the Earl of Gowrie's house in Perth, under the pretence that a man had discovered a treasure of gold buried there. The King, who was quite unarmed, was taken up alone to a chamber in a tower, and there murderously set upon by Alexander Ruthven, the Earl's brother.
Fortunately, the King's cry for help was heard, and Sir Thomas Erskine rushed to the rescue, and, with others, managed to give both the Earl of Gowrie and his traitor brother their coups de gr⣥. For this timely help to their King, all concerned were remembered, and later on Sir Thomas was created Earl of Kellie and Viscount Fentown (12th March, 1619).
The Earl had been married twice already when he raised Viscountess Kilmorey yet another step. He died in London in 1639, and at that time the Countess of Kellie must have been ailing, for her death occurred about the same period.
In her letters of administration she is described as of Eyworth, Bedfordshire, and she probably retired there for her health's sake, and to be near her friends, the Andersons, for we find that her daughter, Alice, Viscountess St. Alban is buried in the parish church of Eyworth, and one of the Andersons is named in her will.
It may be remembered that the daughters of the Countess of Kellie had all married well - Elizabeth Barnham becoming the wife of Mervin Touchet, Earl of Castlehaven; Alice Barnham married Sir Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Alban; Dorothy Barnham became Lady Constable; and Bridget Barnham, Lady Soames.
Then in the second family, Mary Pakington married Lord Brooke, and Anne Pakington was, first, Lady Ferrars, and, secondly, the Countess of Chesterfield. Their brother, John Pakington, was made a baronet when he was 20 years of age and married early, but his death occurred when he was only 25. His daughter married Col. Washington. His son, John, married Lady Dorothy, authoress of "The Whole Duty of Man."
We learn much of the inner lives of Viscountess St. Alban and Sir John Underhill from a Chancery document marked "Bridges 403/278," and dated 27th May, 1654, which is a few years after the death of Viscountess St. Alban. Sir John, had already, as we have described, lost the little possessions he held, and some of his wife's money as well, owing to the sharp practices of Nicholas Bacon, of Gray's Inn, who married Ann Underhill almost in secret, and yet another serpent was to enter their household and cause dire disaster, named Robert Tyrrell, or Turrell (The name is spelt in various ways, meaning "Manager.") Sir John had taken this man into the service of himself and his wife out of charity. He is described in the Vellum Roll "as poor and meanly habited, and Sir John, being informed that Turrell's father was a gentleman of good family, bestowed good clothes upon him, thereby fitting him for Sir John's service; but Turrell most ungratefully did such ill offices towards Sir John and the Lady Viscountess that Sir John could not, by any fair means remove (prevent) Turrell from disturbing the peace and quiet of Sir John and his said Lady, altho' much desired by Sir John; and the more he desired the same, the more vehement the said Lady was that Sir John should live apart from her and the said Turrell, her then servant, and to be bound not to cohabit with her contrary to her consent. Whereupon Sir John, finding that the said Lady had thus alienated her affections from him for ye reasons aforesaid, and for avoiding further inconvenience and mischief that might happen through her violent passions and a quiet settlement of ye differences, Sir John and the said Lady fell to this agreement 'that Sir John might have out of the great estate, whereof he was the master - as aforesaid, the farm called "Butler's Farm," well conveyed to him and his heirs, and ?400 per annum duly paid to him out of the residue of the estate during his life, and he would be content to bar himself from all interest in the residue of the estate, and he would live apart from her, seeing it could not be otherwise, without great danger to himself; which agreement was put into writing in an Indenture dated 21st Feb., 1639.'
"And it was agreed by all parties to the Indenture that the ?400 should be paid to him out of the ?530 a year reserved to the said Lady out of a lease of Gorhambury, Westcott and Praye, as in the Indenture may appear.
"And if the said Lady should happen to die first, and the yearly payments out of the Manors should cease, then he should receive after her death the ?400 per annum out of the ?600 per annum for 6d. writs and out of the rents of all the other lands, and that he should be paid the ?400 per annum during his life and that after his death the ?600 and all the rents, etc. (other that Butler's Farm) should be conveyed to such persons as the Lady should direct by a deed signed before witnesses."
This document goes on to describe that, according to a former deed which Sir John signed, in consideration of receiving the ?400 a year and Butler's Farm, he debarred himself from cohabiting with his wife, and from any interest in the residue of her estate, but that this deed of 1641 was delayed by the trustees not sealing it as they ought to have done, and that Sir John had been compelled to file a bill of complaint in Chancery against them. But that still the Lady had caused more delay, and, "taking advantage of the troubles of 1642, she sought to advance Turrell, whom she all the time kept by her, and afterwards gave him one-half of her estate, as he himself boasteth."
In Turrell's answer to the bill of complaint which Sir John Underhill had filed in Chancery, dated 25th May, 1654, he declares that he came to wait upon the Viscountess as her "gentleman" and not as an ordinary servant, but that she had asked him to "condescend and to be servant to Sir John," which he was unwilling to do, but at last consented, and did many good offices between the lady and Sir John, which Sir John then acknowledged.
He denies that he did any ill offices between them and believeth, after he entered their service until they wholly separated themselves from each other, that they lived more quietly than they had done for many years before.
He believed that the cause of discontent between the parties was that Sir John, having no estate to support himself after her death, did importune her to settle her estate upon him, which she refusing to do, he would oftentimes leave her habitation for a long time, and threaten to go beyond the seas, which discontents grew so high that divers of their servants left.
He added that Sir John often threatened to take away her wearing jewels, so she was forced to deliver them to some friends.
I am indebted to my friend, Mr. Harold Hardy, of Gray's Inn, for a fuller report of this Chancery proceeding concerning Robert Turrell, and he has made the matter so clear that it may be well to give the story in his own words, as he has abstracted it from the lengthy roll. It is the answer to Sir John Underhill's allegations.
In answer to the allegations made by Sir John Underhill, the story of the defendant, Robert Turrell, is as follows:
" For many years the Viscountess and her husband had lived unhappily together, and the trouble arose through the persistent demands made by Sir John that the Viscountess should make a settlement of her estate upon him. The Viscountess was wealthy and Sir John was poor, and in the event of the Viscountess dying, Sir John would be without means to maintain himself. When the Viscountess refused, Sir John treated her with great unkindness.
He would leave the house and stay away for long periods, telling her he was going overseas, and he threatened to make away with her jewellery; on account of this threat the Viscountess was obliged to place her jewels in the safe custody of her friends until a reconciliation was effected through the mediation of Lord Coventry, then Lord Keeper. Many of her servants left because 'they could not endure to live in a family where such great discontents were between husband and wife.'
This was the state of affairs when Lady Egerton suggested to the Viscountess that she should take Robert Turrell into her household. Turrell had been gentleman usher in the service of Lady Egerton, and the Viscountess having heard that he was 'gentleman born,' believed that he 'could do some office between her and her husband.' At that time Turrell lived about 60 miles from London, and was persuaded by his elder brother, William Turrell, and Dr. Cademan, the physician of the Viscountess, to come up to London to wait upon the Viscountess, supposing the said Lady to be a person of honour, and it might be for his advantage and preferment and no disgrace to wait upon so honourable a personage. His intention was to serve her as gentleman usher, not as an ordinary servant, and his position was better than that of Sir John when the latter first became related to the Viscountess. But at the earnest solicitation of the Viscountess he condescended to be servant to Sir John, though very unwillingly, 'as he knew that such service could not tend to his preferment.' The Viscountess, however, persuaded him to accept the service, 'promising to look upon him as one of her servants.'
In this situation he was able to do many good offices between the Viscountess and her husband, for which Sir John had often expressed his thanks, and during the period when he was with them 'they lived more quietly and contentedly than they had for many years before.' But evidently Sir John became jealous of Turrell, and domestic strife continued because the Viscountess would not consent to make a settlement of her estate upon her husband. Eventually, in order to appease Sir John, the Viscountess ordered Turrell to leave their service. So, despairing of any reconciliation between them, Turrell departed, and shortly afterwards Sir John complained of other servants. These the Viscountess offered to remove also in order to effect a reconciliation, but Sir John refused her offer, 'and nothing would content him but present maintenance to be settled upon him out of her estate, he having now very little of his own, and there being a total parting between them.'
Some years later a deed of separation was made, (Tri partite Indenture, 21 Feb., 14. Charles I.), under which Sir John agreed to live apart and not to cohabit with the Viscountess, who settled upon him an annuity of ?400 per annum and the property known as Butler's Farm. Turrell was one of the Trustees of this deed, and returned again to the Viscountess. He was afterwards appointed an executor under the will of the Viscountess, and became entitled to a half-share of the residue of her estate. His explanation of this benefaction is that the Viscountess 'having no children of her own, out of her own true worth and nobleness was pleased at her death to bestow a part of her estate upon him, as she did upon her other servants, whereby he and they might live without further service, in despite of all calumny and reproaches."'
This, then, is the story of Robert Turrell and Viscountess St. Alban.
She had again fallen under the influence of a man beneath her, and made a "favourite" of him, to the detriment of her happiness with her husband.
We can only judge of the man's character by these documents. Attempting at first to honestly reconcile husband and wife, and bring them to a better understanding, he, failing in that, attached himself to the more powerful of the two, and threw all his energy into the lady's service.
Sir John Underhill must have been much humiliated to find that a servant had become so important to the Viscountess that she preferred the company of Robert Turrell to that of the man she had been so determined to marry. Nothing Sir John did or said was right in the Lady's eyes, and the more he tried to please, the more he failed. There was nothing for it but to part company. This he was willing to do, but only if he was allowed a certain sum to live on. He evidently had no profession, or means, away from his rich wife, and if he consented to leave her, she must make some sacrifice and really settle an income upon him.
How galling for him to contemplate Robert Turrell living with the Viscountess in the luxury which he himself used to enjoy.
Well, all was over now, and Sir John had to retire into a quiet life in St. Giles in the Fields. He still had the friendship of several members of his clan in Warwickshire, as we see by his will.
His pride was to be lowered still further when his wife's will was published, and he found that the Viscountess had left Robert Turrell a large share of her property, and he had to take further Chancery proceedings against Turrell to secure his income. This income was to go to Turrell at his decease.
As for Turrell, he was not entirely to be envied, for he was in a position that if he did not please his patroness, she might throw him over also, and he required to be careful and make no false steps with her, if he wanted to be a gainer at the end. He had married a widow named Mary Causson, whom he describes in his will as " my dearly beloved wife."
Lady Egerton's good natured offices in introducing Turrell to the Viscountess had far-reaching effects which she never can have contemplated, and which must have surprised her.
And now we are drawing to the end of the life of the once "Grand Lady."
She and her mother are both named as "of Eyworth in Bedfordshire," so, she probably spent the final years of her life there. Her friends, the Andersons, were Lords of the Manor in that quiet district. The Viscountess St. Alban was one of her mother's heiresses. The Countess of Kellie departed this life in 1639, having kept up her position of Grand Lady to the end of her days.
Gorhambury had been let to the Earl and Countess of Sussex, as we have mentioned, and Sir John Underhill was living in the fashionable district of St. Giles, in London.
Her sisters were all society ladies of title. Her nephew, Stephen Soames, was her favourite relative, and to him she left her lands in Kent and other property.
We cannot tell if Robert Turrell was with her at Eyworth, or what he was doing. He is described as "Gent.," so, of course, he was no longer a servant, and lived at ease.
The life the Viscountess lived was not the life Bacon intended his wife should pursue, but who can arrange for the future? Neither Francis Bacon nor Alice Barnham.
We now give an extract from the first page, copied from the "will" of Viscountess St. Alban, wife of Sir John Underhill.
" In the name of God, Amen, the fifteenth day of October in the year of our Lord God, one thousand six hundred forty and nyne. I, Alice Verulam Viscountess St. Alban, wife of Sir John Underhill, Knight.
"Item: I give unto my sister the Lady Brooks my best table diamond, in lieu and in steed of my topaz dropp by my said declaration given and appointed unto her.
"Item: I give unto my sister, the Countesse of Chesterfield, my best greene emmerold with fower diamonds at it, in lieu and in steed of my tophas bodkin, by my said declaration given and appointed unto her.
"Item: I give unto my cousin and goddaughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Aunstrodder, my knott of diamonds and emmerodds. Item: I give and bequeath unto my niece, the Lady Alice Cotten, and to my nephew, Marvin Tuckett, Esqr., and unto my nephew, Stephen Soames. Esqr., all my messuage, lands, tenements, and hereditaments with their and every of their appurtenances scituate lyeing and being in the County of Kent to have and to hold to them and their heires for ever equally to be devided. Item: I give and bequeath unto the poore of Saint Clements, Eastcheape, the sume of tenn pounds and noe more. Item: I give unto the poore of St. Martin's parish in the feilde the sum of twenty pounds and noe more. Item: I give and bequeath unto my niece Mrs. Dorothy Cotton my best pointed facett diamond, in liew and in steed of my white wheele bodkin with nynetenee diamonds and the chaine and bynder with goldsmith's work that is with little flowers of greene and white innamell, by my said declaration given and appointed unto her. Item: I give unto my worthy brother Sir William Soames, Knight, my crowne facett diamond, in steed and in liew of the thirty pounds by my said declaration given and appointed unto him. Item: I give unto my good friend Sir William Waller, Knight, my lesser pointed facett diamond, in steed and in liew of the twenty pounds by my said declaration given and appointed unto him.
"Item: I give unto my loveing friend Mr. Jerrom Freer five pounds a year during his natural life and noe longer, besides the twenty pounds given him in my said declaration.
" All the residue of my landes, messuages, and tenements, goods and chattells, plate, jewells, readdy money, debts, houshold stuffe stenselle whatsoever, my funeralls discharged, my debts and legacies paid, I give and bequeath the same landes and goodes unto my executors hereafter named that is to say unto my nephew Stephen Soames, Esq., and unto my trusty servent Robert Turrell, gent.," etc.
Fos. 7. O.B.
N.B.-It is not to be inferred that the foregoing extracts contain the only portions of the said will referring to the matters therein mentioned.
After 1649 we hear nothing of the movements of Alice and John Underhill. The only further record we have of the once Grand Lady is that she was buried in the old Parish Church of Eyworth, Bedfordshire.
The Register runs:
"Alice, Viscountess St. Alban, Widdowe Dowager to Francis Viscount St. Alban, Lord Chancellor of England, was buried in Ye Church of Eyworth on the South Side thereof the 9th July, 1650."
There she lies, beneath a slab in the Chancel of the ancient Church of All Saints, which was founded in the 14th century. Some of the original stained glass still glitters in the old windows, and the Church is adorned with some very fine old carved monuments to the Manorial families, mostly Andersons. Their life-size marble figures give a good idea of the ornate dress of Charles I. reign.
There are other Bacons buried there, and their arms, a boar's head with the motto, is on the Church plate, the cup and paten.
A fine old Church in a quiet rural village.
The reason for her retirement to Eyworth probably was to be near her mother and sister, Lady Dorothy Constable, who is buried there also, and who was still on friendly terms with her, for by her will we see she had quarrelled with various relatives to whom she had left legacies in a former document, but had now revoked these gifts on account of "their withdrawing themselves from me," and in all the long will she only mentions Sir John Underhill as being her husband, and he is never named again throughout the paper, and is not even left a remembrance: they had quarrelled and separated for ever. Her last years cannot have been happy ones. Her jewels she distributed among her relatives, and her lands in Kent to her nephew, Stephen Soames, and Robert Turrell.
And so ends the history of a once Grand Lady, Alice St. Alban. Let her rest in peace.
Signature to the original will.
On paying a visit to Ettington, Warwickshire, in October 1918, the writer was much struck with the name "Bacon" being in close proximity to that of "Underhill " on the various "tablets" and tombstones there, and it appears that two or three hundred years ago the name of "Bacon " was a Warwickshire County name.
In the old Church tower of St. Thomas ࠂeckett, at Ettington, which is all that remains of the building, there is a tablet on the wall to Margaret Underhill, daughter of Hercules Underhill, buried in 1784. She was grand-daughter of Sir William Underhill, Bart. She died on 3rd January, 1784, aged 91.
The neighbouring tablet on the wall, hanging alongside the above, is to William Bacon, late of this place, who died 1801.
At Ettington Park, three miles from the village of Ettington, now belonging to the Shirleys, is the ruined Chapel (almost up against the large family mansion) of St. Thomas ࠂeckett, and on a tablet in the tower is a long description of Thomas Underhill, of Nether Eatington, Gentleman, and his wife, Elizabeth, who lived together sixty-five years and had twenty children, and who died within a few months of each other in 1603.
At the door of the Chapel, lying flat on the ground so that everyone entering the Chapel must step on it, unfortunately, is a tombstone to Anne Bacon, daughter of John and Anne Bacon, his wife, of Upper Ettington, who - departed this life September 8th, 1780, aged 1 year and 3 months, also of Elizabeth, daughter of said "parets," who died in infancy.
We are given to understand that long ago a lawsuit took place between the Shirleys and the Underhills families over the Ettington Park estates in Warwickshire, and that finally the Shirleys retained the property.
Sir John Underhill survived his wife nineteen years, notwithstanding his disabling infirmities of deafness and blindness, which we hear of in 1631, and he must have reached a good old age when he died.
As to who nursed the feeble old man, whose marriage to a grand lady in 1626 had brought unhappiness to both, we know not.
The Register of the fine old Parish Church of St. Giles in the Fields, London, shows he was buried there on 14th April, 1679.
Sir John Underhill's Will, made 20th November, 1678, is to be seen in Somerset House - whereby he leaves certain sums of money, but his estates and lands were evidently arranged for disposal in a "Declaration," which is most likely in some lawyer's office.
To my neece, Mrs. Anne Scott, ?30 a year.
To Sir William Underhill of Idlecott, Knight, ?20.
And to his sonne, my Godson, Compton Underhill, ? 50.
To the rest of Sir William Underhill's children, ?10 a piece.
Unto Hercules and Dorothy Underhill, brother and sister of the said Sir William Underhill, ?5 apiece.
To Elizabeth Keynett, daughter of my niece, ?20.
To my couzen, Margaret Gibb, ?20.
I give to Mrs. Mabella Keyne, sister to Mrs. Clarke, late of Oxhell, ? 10.
I give to my godson, John Platt, ?5.
To Thomas James, Stationer and Printer, ?50.
I give to Benedict Aprice, eldest son of my servant, Benedict Aprice, ? 10.
Unto my kinswoman (couzen), Mrs. Elizabeth Guest, of Worcester, ?40, to remain in the hands of her brother, Mr. Thomas Underhill the younger of Oxhill, one of any executors.
Unto Mrs. Anne Chamberlayne, eldest daughter of Col. William Chamberlayne, ?10.
To Benedict Aprice, senior, all my wearing apparrel with the lease of my house and, all the goods therein.
Unto Jeffrey Bayley, Clockmaker, 40 shillings.
And I do herebye nominate my loving couzen Thomas Underhill the younger, of Oxhill, in the County of Warwick, gentleman, being one of His Majesty's Life Guard and now living with me, at the time of my signing hereof in the Parish of St. Giles in the Fields, executor of my last will and testament. My couzen Thomas Underhill knows these legacies are to be raised out of my arrears of rent from the lands I now possess by decree in Chancery made with my wife and her trustee's consent.
Witnesses: CHARLES TWIBERT.
Robert Tyrell's will was published in 1673.
WILL OF ROBERT TYRELL.
30th Jan. 1672.
(1673. Pye. 1)
Robert Tyrell of St. Martins in the Fields, gent. My body I commit to the earth to be buried in the parish church where I shall depart, by the discretion of my dearly beloved wife, or of my Exor. hereaftre named.
Legacies to my friends etc., including -
To my honoured friend Sir Roger Burgoine Knt. Bart, ?50, to his virtuous Lady, ?10.
To Mrs. Eliz. Burgoine my god-daughter ? 50.
To my brother Thomas Tyrell ? 10.
To my beloved sister Mrs. Susan Prettyman ?10, and my emerald ring set about with 13 little diamonds.
To my niece Mrs. Dorothy Smithe ?60 for her kind love to me begun in her infancy, and continued until this very time.
To my nephew Robert Tyrell ?5.
To the poor of St. Martin's ?5.
I give and devise unto my dearly beloved wife the lease of my dwelling house, with all my household stuff plate jewellery, and ready money for present maintenance. But in case she shall outlive Sir Jhn. Underhill then I give and devise unto her ?400 p.a. to be paid unto her half-yearly during her life out of my lands in the parish of Paddington and Chelsea now in the occupation of Mr. John Lyle.
All the other above mentioned legacies not to be paid until one year after the death of Sir Jhn. Underhill, and then I will that my lands lying in the Count of Essex be sold and likewise the moiety of a house which I have in Bishopsgate St. to be sold by my Exor.
To my brother Mr. George Prettyman ?20.
And lastly to my loving nephew and godson Mr. Tyrell Prettyman whom I make my sole Exor. I give the residue of my lands etc. in the City of London and Counties of Middlesex Essex or elsewhere and his heirs for ever.
28th April 1673. Richard Jones of Grays Inn Esqr. and Francis Vere of St. Andrews Holborn gent. made faith as to the publishing of the Will of the deceased Robert Tyrell.
Probate-28th April, 1673.
(SUFFOLK MANORIAL FAMILIES, MUSKET).
(Extract from Sir John Underhill's Bill of Complaint Chanc. Proc. Bridge's 1672. Bundle 569. No. 10).
"Some differences between your orator and the Sd. Lady arose which at last ended in a separation, and your O, then being sickly and not then likely to live long to purchase his quiet was contented and did agree to part with the whole real and personal estate aforesaid of about ?30,000 value and to accept ?400 p.a. for his life only and thereupon by the Indre. Tripartite 21st Feb. 4 Chas. 1. (Ibid.) "
"Since which decree Robert Tyrill is dead leaving Thos. Tyrill, of Gipping Hall, Suffolk, his elder brother and next heir, and Tirrill Prettyman, gent. his sole executor, etc."
In our researches to try and discover who was "next heir " to Sir Francis, Viscount St. Alban, we found a document in the Public Record Office, from which we give a short extract, and the reference where it says- . . . after the death of Francis, Lord Bacon, late Viscount St. Alban's, deceased, . . . . Thomas Bacon, Esq. at the time of the death of Francis was his kinsman and next heir and was aged 26 years and more.
We have traced this Thomas Bacon to be the youngest son of Edward Bacon, youngest half-brother to Sir Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Alban.
INQUISITION POST MORTEM, CHANCERY, SERIES II.
Vol. 515. No. 75.
Inquisition indented taken at Chipping Barnett in Co. Hertford, 15 October, 10 Charles I. (1634) before Richard Luckin, Esq., Escheator of the King by virtue of a writ of mandamus, after the death of Francis, Lord Bacon, late Viscount St. Alban, deceased, by the oath of Roger Marshe, gent., and other jurors who say that Francis, Viscount St. Alban, long before his death, was seized in his demesne as of fee of and in the manors of Gorhambury, Westwicke and Praye, with their appurtenances, and of and in 12 messuages, 3 mills, 6 dovecotes, 12 gardens, 1,200 acres of land, 100 acres of meadow, 500 acres of pasture, 400 acres of wood, and the view of frank-pledge with appurtenances in the parishes of St. Michael, St. Stephen, St. Peter, St. Alban, and in Redburne and Hemsteed in Hertford, and of and in the advowsons of the Vicarage of the Churches of St. Michael and Redburne aforesaid. And that Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Alban, so thereof being seized by his indenture triparty bearing date 9 May, 6 James I. (1608) between the said Francis, Viscount St. Alban, and Alice, his wife, by the name of Francis Bacon, of Grayes Inne, Co. Middlesex, Knight, Solicitor General of the King, and Lady Alice Bacon, his wife, of the one part, and Thomas Underwood and John Younge, of Grayes Inn, gent, Ralph Youarte, Christopher Traverse, gent, of the second part, and Michael Hyper, Knight, Martin Barneham, Knight, Richard Godfrey, of Chancerie Lane, esq., and William Gerrard, of Grayes Inn, esq., of the third part, levied in consideration of the marriage then lately solemnized between the Viscount St. Alban and Alice, his wife, also for the love and affection which the Viscount then enjoyed towards Alice, and to the intent that all the manors and premises should be well and sufficiently assured by jointure to Alice for her life, he was assured the manors and premises to Ralph Youarte and Christopher Traverse, their heirs and assigns, to the use of Alice during her life for her jointure, and after her death to the use of Francis, Viscount St. Alban, by the name of Sir Francis Bacon, and the heirs of his body begotten upon the body of Alice, and for default of such tail issuing, to the use of William Cooke, of London, Knight, John Constable, of Grayes Inne, Knight, Thomas Crewe, of Grayes Inne, esq., Thomas Hetley, of Grayes Inne, esq., and Roger Fenton, Bachelor of Theology, and their heirs and assigns for ever, as in the said Indenture a fine and recovery more fully appears, and the jurors say that Francis being seized as aforesaid of and in the manors and premises of Gorhamburie, 9 April, 1626, died, of such his estate so seized without heirs of his body lawfully begotten and that Thomas Bacon, esq., is, and at the time of the death of Francis, was kinsman and next heir of the same Francis, and was aged at the time of the death of Francis 26 years and more, and that Alice, Viscountess St. Alban, is still alive.
And the jurors say that the Manors of Gorhamburie, Westwicke and Praye, and all the other premises in Herts are held, and at the time of the death of Francis were held, of King Charles in chief by Knight service, and are worth by the year in all issues beyond reprises ? 25.
And the jurors say that from the death of Francis unto the taking of this Inquisition, Alice, Viscountess St. Alban, and John Underhill, Knight in the right of the Viscountess, occupied the premises and received the issues and profits.
And Francis had no other manors or premises at the time of his death.
Mr. Harry Paintin, of Oxford, who has most kindly put his great knowledge of family records at our service, points out that in the 16th Century a branch of the Underhills kept the Golden Cross and the Crown Tavern in Oxford, and that they subsequently sold their interest in the latter to the D'Avenant family, who entertained Shakespeare.
One of the daughters married the first librarian of the Bodleian Library. Another of the family, John Underhill, became Rector of Lincoln College, 1577, and Bishop of Oxford, 1589, and died in 1592, and was buried at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.
It will be noticed that, in one way or another, the name Underhill is mixed up with Shakespeare's, of Stratford-on-Avon, and also with Sir Francis Bacon's wife and family, for Sir John Underhill, who married Lady Bacon, was born at Eatington, in Warwickshire, and was closely related to the family who arranged to sell "New Place" to William Shakespeare in 1597-8.
Simon Underhill lived in the latter half of the thirteenth century, and married the co-heiress of Richard de Grymenhull, of Minton, Salop.
Robt. Underhill, one of the Proctors for the University of Oxford in 1372.
John de Underhill held the prebend of Longdon, Staffordshire, 1380, and exchanged it next year for other preferment.
William Underhill, of Wolverhampton, "Armiger," living in 1423, was progenitor of the Eatington and Hunningham branches of the family.
John Underhelde, sen. (alias Underhill), granted in 1489 land at Lingfield, Surrey, to one Alice Croker.
Thos. Underhill, of Little Bradley, Suffolk, esquire, and Anne, his wife, buried under a tomb in Great Thurlow Church, Suffolk, 1508.
John Underhill, of Nether Eatherington, Warwickshire, gentleman, married the heiress of Porter and acquired the Manor of Hunningham, 1510.
John Underhill became Rector of Harlington, Middlesex, 1510.
Edward Underhill, gentleman, died 1546. His marble monument is in Eatington Church.
John Underhill, of London, a freeman of the Brewers' Company, 1537.
Thos. Underhill, one of the "chief gentleman captains" in the Cornish rebellion, executed for treason in 1549.
Edward Underhylle, of, Hunningham, known as the "Hot Gospeller," on account of his Protestant zeal, a gentleman at arms to Henry VIII. and Edward VI.
Guildford Underhill, son of last-named, was a godson of Lady Jane Grey.
Thos. Underhill, of Nether Eatington, gentleman, and Elizabeth, his wife, lived together sixty-five years, and had twenty children. Both died in 1603.
William Underhill, of the Middle Temple, gentleman, brother of the foregoing, acquired various estates in Warwickshire, and died in 1570.
Elizabeth Underhill, sister of the foregoing, and wife of Edward Bury, of Barton an the Heath, Warwickshire, died shortly after 1608.
John Underhill, D.D., Bishop of Oxford and Chaplain to Queen Elizabeth, died in London, 1592, and was buried in the Cathedral Church, Oxford.
William Underhill, of Stratford-on-Avon, gentleman, sold "New Place" to Shakespeare, and died 1597, aged 43.
Edward Underhill, of Barton on the Heath, gentleman, married Margaret, daughter of above and cousin of the first Earl of Donne, died 1611.
Nicholas Underhill became Vicar of Whitchurch, Warwickshire, 1571.
Sir Hercules Underhill, of Idlecot, High Sheriff of Warwickshire, 1623, married a sister of Viscount Dorchester, died 1650.
Capt. John Underhill, the Puritan, Governor of Dover, United States, died at Killingworth, Long Island, 1671.
Sir John Underhill married Alice, Viscountess St. Alban, widow of the great Lord Bacon, in 1626, at St. Martin in the Fields, London.
Sir Edward Underhill, of Eatington, Knight, High Sheriff of Warwickshire, 1638, died without issue, 1641.
George Underhill, of Ludlow, the Royalist, killed by the rebels at the battle of Hopton Heath, 1642.
Frances Underhill, gentlewoman, gave, in 1672, land to the poor of Bushbury and Moseley, Staffordshire.
Walter Underhill, citizen of London, a warden of the Fishmongers' Company in 1661 and 1666, buried at Godalming, Surrey, 1679.
Edward Underhill, Alderman of London, Master of the Grocers' Company, 1688.
Sir William Underhill, of Idlecot, married Alice Lucy, of Charlcote, niece of the Bishop of St. David's, died 1710.
Cave Underhill, a comedian for three generations, died 1711.
Hester Underhill, married, first Sir Hale Hook, Bart., and, secondly, Dr. Lilly.
Edward Underhill, Vicar of Prittlewell, Essex, was living 1737.
Margaret Underhill, gentlewoman, died 1784, aged 90, leaving money to the poor of Eatington Idlecot, and Loxley, Warwickshire.
Dr. Richard Underhill, a Roman Catholic Priest, died in 1808, having been forty years connected with the Sardinian Chapel, London.
Michael Underhill, upwards of fifty years Presbyterian Minister at Boston, Lincolnshire, died 1816.
William Underhill, brother to the above.
Michael Underhill, son of the above William Underhill, died 1868.
The Underhills of Wolverhampton bore "Argent a chevron Sable, between three trefoils, stepped vert 'Crest' on a hill Vert, a hind lodged Or."
The arms of the Underhills of Little Bradley, Suffolk, bore "Gules six armulets Or, three, two, one," and were wrought in the masonry of Little Bradley Church.
A branch of the Underhill family has long settled in Oxford, where they have occupied important positions as Mayor and Aldermen in that City for many years. A brief account of their public lives has been published by Mr. Harry Paintin, in the Oxford Chronicle for 1911.