Underhill, Edward (DNB00)

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UNDERHILL, EDWARD (fl. 1539–1561), the ‘hot-gospeller,’ came ‘of a worshipful house in Worcestershire,’ and was born probably about 1515 (Collectanea Top. et Gen. vi. 382). His grandfather, John Underhill, originally of Wolverhampton, acquired in 1509 a lease of Eatington, Warwickshire, and left two sons, Edward and Thomas. Edward inherited Eatington, and was father of Thomas Underhill (1518?–1603), a leading protestant, to commemorate whose memory an annual sermon was founded in St. Mary's Church, Warwick; a poetical epitaph on his son Anthony, who predeceased him on 16 July 1587, is said, on flimsy evidence, to have been composed by Shakespeare (Colvile, Warwickshire Worthies, pp. 767–9). John Underhill's younger son, Thomas, possibly the Thomas Underhill who, as ‘one of my lord mayor's sergeantes and carver,’ was ‘petty captain’ of the city's contingent of a hundred men sent to the French war in 1543 (Wriothesley, Chron. i. 142; he must be distinguished from Thomas Underhill, the leader of the Cornish rebellion in 1549, Troubles of 1549, Camden Soc. pp. 49, 54, 188); he settled at Honingham, and married Anne, daughter of Robert Winter of Hudington, Worcestershire.

His son Edward, the ‘hot-gospeller,’ was in December 1539 appointed one of the gentlemen pensioners when that body was revived by Henry VIII. In 1543 he served as man-at-arms under Sir Richard Cromwell at the siege of Landrecy in Hainault, and in 1544 was one of the men-at-arms appointed to attend Henry VIII during his campaign in France. In 1545 he sold Honingham, according to his own account, to provide for his expenses as gentleman pensioner, which his salary of seventy marks (46l. 13s. 4d.) did not cover, but, according to his enemies, to satisfy his spendthrift propensities. During Edward VI's reign Underhill developed that religious zeal which earned him the sobriquet of ‘hot-gospeller;’ he caused great offence by his attention to concealed papists and his homilies to worldlings and dicers like Sir Thomas Palmer (d. 1553) [q. v.] and Sir Miles Partridge [q. v.]. In the winter of 1549–50 he was sent as controller of the ordnance under Lord Huntingdon to the defence of Boulogne. Soon afterwards he incurred the enmity of the London woodmongers by exposing the fraudulence of their returns to the ordnance department. He seems to have been high in the confidence of Bishop Hooper and the Duke of Northumberland. At the time of the ‘vestments’ controversy he nailed a defence of Hooper on the gate of St. Paul's (Hooper, Works, Parker Soc. vol. ii. p. xi). In July 1553 Lady Jane Grey, then nominally queen, stood godmother to one of Underhill's daughters, and in the same month he published a ballad attacking Queen Mary. For this offence he was arrested in his house in Limehouse on 4 Aug. and brought before the council, which committed him to Newgate. Through the influence of his ‘kinsman,’ John Throckmorton (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom., Addenda, 1547–65, p. 439), and the Earl of Bedford, whose eldest son, Lord Russell, Underhill had saved from drowning in the Thames, he was released on account of his illness. The council's order is dated 21 Aug., but Underhill himself states that he was not released until 5 Sept. (Acts P. C. iv. 324). His interesting account of his examinations by the council and imprisonment was partially printed by Strype and in the ‘Chronicle of Queen Jane and Queen Mary’ (Camden Soc.); it is printed in full in ‘Narratives of the Reformation’ (Camden Soc.); with a ballad by Underhill from Harl. MS. 424, f. 9), in Arber's ‘English Garner’ (vol. iv.); it supplied some details for Miss Strickland's ‘Queens of England’ and Harrison Ainsworth's ‘Tower of London.’

In spite of the efforts of his enemies, Underhill retained his place among the gentlemen pensioners. In that capacity he defended Queen Mary during Wyatt's incursion into Southwark, 6–7 Feb. 1553–4, and attended her to Winchester in July 1555 to meet Philip of Spain. During the ensuing persecution he had his books walled up in his house, and escaped molestation. On 12 May 1562 he seems to have been employed as ‘master of the common hunt’ to suppress a disturbance in the city (MACHYN, p. 282). He is said to have lived to a considerable age, but no reference to him after 1562 has been traced. His wife Joan, whose maiden name is variously given as Perrins, Sperynes, Price, and Downes, was the daughter of a London merchant; they were licensed to marry at St. Antholin, Budge Row, on 17 Nov. 1546 (Registers of St. Antholin, Harl. Soc. p. 5; Chester, London Marr. Licences, col. 1375). By her Underhill had issue five sons and seven daughters, the youngest being born on 6 Sept. 1561. His wife was buried in St. Botolph's, Aldgate, on 14 April 1562 (Machyn, p. 280).

[Underhill's Narratives and authorities cited above; Strype's Works (general index); Notes and Queries, 4th ser. passim, 7th ser. iv. 367, v. 14.]

A. F. P.