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THE LIFE OF SIR HENRY WOTTON.
SIR HENRY WOTTON—whose life I now intend to write-was born in the year of our Redemption 1568, in Bocton-Hall,-commonly called Bocton, or Boughton-Place, or Palace,-in the Parish of Bocton Malherbe,* in the fruitful country of Kent. Bocton-Hall being an ancient and goodly structure, beautifying and being beautified by the Parish Church of Bocton Malherbe adjoining unto it, and both seated within a fair Park of the Wottons, on the brow of such a hill, as gives the advantage of a large prospect, and of equal pleasure to all beholders.
But this House and Church are not remarkable for any thing so much, as for that the memorable Family of the Wottons have so long inhabited the one, and now lie buried in the other, as appears by their many monuments in that Church : the Wottons be. ing a family that hath brought forth divers persons eminent for wisdom and valour; whose heroic acts, and noble employments, both in England and in foreign parts, have adorned themselves and this nation; which they have served abroad faithfully, in the discharge of their great trust, and prudently in their negociations with several Princes; and also served at home with much honour and justice, in their wise managing a great part of the public affairs thereof, in the various times both of war and peace.
* A parish situate five miles westward from Charing, and about a mile and a half south of Lenham, almost in the very centre of the county. The present state of this once princely mansion, is extremely ruinous, but some fragments of its former splendour are yet remaining in the fine oaken staircase, and in the first story of the house, where there is an immense apartment with carved wainscot walls coloured in partitions, having a ceiling also divided into pannels, and painted in water-colours. This part of the building is now inhabited by a farmer, but much of its ancient character is lost by the principal front being modernized, the large apartments divided, and the arched doorways, bay-windows, &c. being blocked up; though a very fine specimen of the latter, formed of octangular panes, is yet perfect. Several dates cut in stone, principally of the sixteenth century, are still remaining on the ruins. The Church of Bocton Malherbe, dedicated to St. Nicholas, stands nearly in the centre of the Parish ; on the eastern side of the Hall; and within the rude dwarf wall of flints which surrounds the building of Bocton Place.
But lest I should be thought by any, that may incline either to deny or doubt this truth, not to have observed moderation in the commendation of this Family; and also for that I believe the merits and memory of such persons ought to be thankfully recorded, I shall offer to the consideration of every Reader, out of the testimony of their Pedigree and our Chronicles, a part—and but a part-of that just commendation which might be from thence enlarged, and shall then leave the indifferent Reader to judge whether my error be an excess or defect of commendations.*
Sir Robert Wotton, of Bocton Malherbe, Knight, was born about the year of Christ 1460: he, living in the reign of King Edward the Fourth, was by him trusted to be Lieutenant of Guisnes, to be Knight Porter, and Comptroller of Calais, where he died, and lies honourably buried.
Sir Edward Wotton of Bocton Malherbe, Knight,-son and heir of the said Sir Robert-was born in the year of Christ 1489, in the reign of King Henry the Seventh; he was made Treasurer of Calais, and of the Privy Council to King Henry the Eighth, who offered him to be Lord Chancellor of England; but, saith Holinshed, † out of a virtuous modesty, he refused it.
Thomas Wotton of Bocton Malherbe, Esquire, son and heir of the said Sir Edward, and the father of our Sir Henry, that occasions this relation, was born in the year of Christ 1521. He was a gentleman excellently educated, and studious in all the Liberal Arts; in the knowledge whereof he attained unto a great perfection ; who, though he had—besides those abilities, a very noble and plentiful estate, and the ancient interest of his predecessors—many invitations from Queen Elizabeth to change his country recreations and retirement for a Court, offering him a Knighthood,-she was then with him at his Bocton Hall—and that to be but as an earnest of some more honourable and more profitable employment under her; yet he humbly refused both, being “a man of great modesty, of a most plain and single heart, of an ancient freedom, and integrity of mind.” A commendation which Sir Henry Wotton took occasion often to remember with great gladness, and thankfully to boast himself the son of such a fa. ther; from whom indeed he derived that noble ingenuity that was always practised by himself, and which he ever both commended and cherished in others. This Thomas was also remarkable for hospitality, a great lover and much beloved of his country ; to which may justly be added, that he was a cherisher of learning, as appears by that excellent Antiquary Mr. William Lambarde, * in his Perambulation of Kent.
* Hollingshed informs us that the family of the Wottons was very ancient, and that “Some persons of that surname for their singularities of wit and learning, for their honour and government in and of the realm, about the prince and elsewhere, at home and abroad, deserve such commendations, that they merit niveo signari lapillo.”
+ In his Chronicle.
This Thomas had four sons, Sir Edward, Sir James, Sir John, and Sir Henry.
Sir Edward was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and made Comptroller of Her Majesty's Household. “ He was,” saith Camden, " a man remarkable for many and great employments in the State, during her reign, and sent several times Ambassador into foreign nations After her death, he was by King James made Comptroller of his Household, and called to be of his Privy Council, and by him advanced to be Lord Wotton, Baron of Merley in Kent, and made Lord Lieutenant of that County.”
Sir James, the second son, may be numbered among the martial men of his age, who was, in the thirty-eighth of Queen Elizabeth's reign-with Robert, Earl of Sussex, Count Lodowick of
* William Lambarde, an eminent Lawyer and Antiquary, was the son of an Alderman of London, and was born Oct. 18th, 1536. In 1556, he entered Lincoln's Inn, and studied the law under Lawrence Nowell, brother to the Dean of St. Paul's. In 1597, he was made Keeper of the Rolls by Chancellor Egerton; and in 1600, Queen Elizabeth appointed him to be Keeper of the Records in the Tower. He died Aug. 19th, 1601, and his principal works are a collection and Latin Translation of the Saxon Laws, a Discourse of the English Courts of Justice, another on the Office of Justices, and the Perambulation of Kent.