Stubbs, John (DNB00)

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STUBBS or STUBBE, JOHN (1543?–1591), puritan zealot, born about 1543 in Norfolk, was son of John Stubbe, a country gentleman of Buxton, Norfolk, by his wife Elizabeth. A sister was wife of Thomas Cartwright the puritan [q. v.] John matriculated at Cambridge as a pensioner of Trinity College on 12 Nov. 1555, and graduated B.A. early in 1561. Although he studied law at Lincoln's Inn, he chiefly resided in Norfolk, and made his home in the manor-house of Thelveton, which he inherited from his father, together with other estates at Buxton and elsewhere in the county. An ardent puritan of some learning and literary taste, he in 1574 seems to have published a translation of the ‘Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury’ which John Joscelyn [q. v.], Archbishop Parker's secretary, had drawn up in Latin, and incorporated in the archbishop's ‘De Antiquitate Britannicæ Ecclesiæ’ (1572). Subsequently Stubbe developed a fiery zeal against catholicism which led him into a dangerous situation. He viewed with dismay the negotiations for Queen Elizabeth's marriage with the Duke of Anjou, which were in progress from 1578 onwards. In August 1579 he published a protest in a pamphlet which he entitled ‘The Discoverie of a gaping gulf whereinto England is like to be swallowed by another French mariage, if the Lord forbid not the banes by letting her majestie see the sin and punishment thereof.’ Stubbe wrote of the queen in terms of loyalty and affection, but freely discussed questions of policy, virulently denounced the French duke, and especially roused the queen's resentment by referring to the undue influence that a husband would be likely to assert over her, and the improbability that at her age she could bear children. On 27 Sept. 1579 a royal proclamation prohibited the circulation of Stubbe's pamphlet, and on 13 Oct. following Stubbe, with his publisher, William Page, and his printer, Hugh Singleton, was tried at Westminster on a charge of disseminating seditious writings, under the act 2 Philip and Mary, which was passed to protect ‘the queen's husband’ from libellous attack. The court held that the statute applied equally well to ‘the queen's suitor.’ The three defendants were found guilty, and were sentenced to have their right hands cut off. Many lawyers questioned the legality of the proceedings on the ground that the statute under which the men were indicted was a temporary measure passed for the protection of Philip during Queen Mary's lifetime, and was abrogated by Queen Mary's death. One of the judges of the common pleas, Robert Monson [q. v.], openly asserted this view, and, having been in consequence sent to the Fleet prison, was removed from the bench on refusing to retract (cf. Camden's Annales, translated 1625, bk. iii. 14–16). Meanwhile Singleton was pardoned, but on 3 Nov. Stubbe and Page were brought from the Tower to a scaffold set up in the market-place at Westminster. Before the barbarous sentence was carried out Stubbe addressed the bystanders. He professed warm attachment to the queen, and the loss of his hand, he added, would in no way impair his loyalty (see his speech in Harington's Nugæ Antiquæ). When he ceased speaking he and Page ‘had their right hands cut off by the blow of a butcher's knife (with a mallet) struck through their wrists.’ ‘I can remember,’ wrote Stow the chronicler, who was present, ‘standing by John Stubbe [and] so soon as his right hand was off, [he] put off his hat with his left, and cryed aloud “God save the queen.” The people round about stood mute, whether stricken with fear at the first sight of this kind of punishment, or for commiseration of the man whom they reputed honest’ (Stow, Annales, 1605, p. 1168; the date is wrongly given 1581). Page, when his bleeding stump was being seared with hot iron, exclaimed, ‘There lies the hand of a true Englishman.’ Stubbe was carried back to the Tower in a state of insensibility. His wife vainly petitioned the queen for his release. On 31 Aug. 1580 he appealed to Lord Burghley for his discharge, on the ground of his wife's ill-health. He repeated the request on 3 Dec. in an appeal to the lords of the council, and he was set at liberty some months later, after an imprisonment of eighteen months.

Stubbe's fidelity to his sovereign answered all tests. Persecution so brutal and undeserved failed to excite in him any lasting resentment. He could now write only with his left hand, and added the word ‘Scæva’ to his signature. But he readily accepted the invitation of his former persecutor Burghley to pen an answer to Cardinal Allen's ‘Defence of the English Catholics.’ He is also stated to have aided William Charke [q. v.] in his ‘Answere to a Seditious Pamphlet’ by Edmund Campion [q. v.] (1580), and John Nicholls [q. v.] in his ‘Recantation’ (1581). Less controversial, but equally indicative of his puritan piety, was his translation from the French of Theodore Beza's ‘Meditations on Eight of the Psalms,’ which he dedicated from his house at Thelveton, on 31 May 1582, to Anne, wife of Sir Nicholas Bacon, the lord keeper. It was not printed, and the manuscript is now at Arbury.

Meanwhile Stubbe played some part in municipal and political affairs in Norfolk. He was sub-steward of the borough of Great Yarmouth in 1588–9, and was elected member of parliament for the borough early in 1589. He paid occasional visits to France, and is said to have at length volunteered for military service there in behalf of Henry IV. He died in 1591 at Havre, soon after his arrival. He was buried with military honours on the seashore.

By his wife Anne he had two sons, Edmund and Francis. Two sons of the latter, Edmund (d. 1659) and Wolfram (d. 1719), were fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge. John's widow is said to have married one Anthony Stapley.

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 111–12; Strype's Annals; Hallam's Constitutional Hist.; Retrospective Review, new ser. ii. 407.]

S. L.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.261
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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118 i l.l. Stubbs, John: for Britanniæ read Britannicæ