Walsingham, Francis (1530?-1590) (DNB00)
|←Walsingham, Edward||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 59
Walsingham, Francis (1530?-1590)
|Walsingham, Francis (1577-1647)→|
|1904 Errata appended.|
WALSINGHAM, FRANCIS (1530?–1590), statesman, was only son of William Walsingham. The father, who was second son of James Walsingham of Scadbury in the parish of Chislehurst, and was younger brother of Sir Edmund Walsingham [q. v.], was a London lawyer who took a prominent part in the affairs of Kent and of the city of London. In 1522 he was admitted an ancient of Gray's Inn, and he was autumn reader in 1530. In 1524 and 1534 he acted as a commissioner of the peace of Kent, and was subsequently undersheriff of the county. In 1526 the king and queen each sent him letters recommending him to the office of common serjeant of London, and his candidature was successful. In 1530 he was one of three commissioners appointed to make inquiry into the possessions of Cardinal Wolsey. In 1532 he was one of the two under-sheriffs of the city. He acquired by royal grant or purchase much property in the neighbourhood of Chislehurst. In 1529 he purchased Foot's Cray Manor. But he figured at the same date in a list of ‘debtors by especialities’ (that is by sealed bonds) to Thomas Cromwell. He died in March 1533–4. His will, dated 1 March 1533–4, was proved on the 23rd of the same month. He wished to be buried in the church of St. Mary Aldermanbury, in which parish he doubtless resided. His wife Joyce, his brother Sir Edmund, and Henry White, one of the under-sheriffs of London, were his executors. To his son Francis, who was at the time in his infancy, he left his manor of Foot's Cray. Walsingham's wife, Joyce, daughter of Sir Edmund Denny of Cheshunt, was twenty-seven years of age at the date of his death. By her Walsingham had, with his only son Francis, five daughters, all of whom married; the youngest daughter, Mary, was wife of Sir Walter Mildmay [q. v.], chancellor of the exchequer to Queen Elizabeth, and founder of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Walsingham's widow subsequently married Sir John Carey of Plashy, who was knighted by Edward VI in 1547; her second husband died in 1552.
Francis was born about 1530, either in London, in the parish of St. Mary Aldermanbury, or in Kent, at Chislehurst or Foot's Cray. He matriculated as a fellow-commoner of King's College, Cambridge, in November 1548, and seems to have regularly resided in the university till Michaelmas 1550 (information from the provost of King's College). He apparently took no degree. In 1552 he was admitted a student of Gray's Inn. Brought up as a zealous protestant, he left the country on the accession of Queen Mary, and remained abroad until she ceased to reign. He put to advantage his five years' sojourn in foreign countries. He studied with intelligent zeal the laws, languages, and polities of the chief states of Europe, and thus acquired the best possible training for a political and diplomatic career. At the same time he developed a staunch protestant zeal, which influenced his political views through life.
The accession of Queen Elizabeth recalled him to England, and he at once entered the political arena. He sat for Banbury in the parliament which assembled on 23 Jan. 1558–9, and was re-elected by the same constituency to the parliament which met on 1 Jan. 1562–3, but he preferred to sit for Lyme Regis, for which town he was returned at the same time. He represented Lyme Regis until 1567. He took no prominent part in the proceedings of the House of Commons, but his knowledge of foreign affairs recommended him to the notice of the lord treasurer, Cecil, and he was soon confidentially employed in obtaining secret intelligence from foreign correspondents. He had numerous acquaintances in France and Italy, and showed from the first exceptional dexterity in extracting information from them. On 20 Aug. 1568 he was able to communicate to Lord Burghley a list of all persons arriving in Italy during the preceding three months who might be justly suspected of hostility to Elizabeth or her government (Cal. Hatfield MSS. i. 361). Next year, although he held no official appointment, he acted as chief organiser of the English government's secret service in London, and to his sagacity was partly due the unravelling of the plot of which the Italian merchant Roberto di Ridolfi [q. v.] was the leading spirit. In October and November 1569 Ridolfi was detained as a prisoner in Walsingham's house in London. For a time the Italian's astuteness baffled Walsingham's skill in cross-examination, and he was set at liberty to carry his nefarious designs many steps further before they were finally exposed and thwarted.
In the autumn of 1570 Walsingham was for the first time formally entrusted with public duties commensurate in dignity with his talents and experience. He was sent to Paris to second the efforts of Sir Henry Norris, the resident ambassador at the French court, in pressing on the French government the necessity of extending an unqualified toleration to the Huguenots (11 Aug. 1570; Digges, Compleat Ambassador). The task was thoroughly congenial to Walsingham; for he held the conviction that it was England's mission to nurture protestantism on the continent—especially in France and the Low Countries—and to free it from persecution. The French government gave satisfactory assurances, and Walsingham returned to London. But by the end of the year delicate negotiations on the subject of the queen's marriage with Henri, duc d'Anjou, the brother of the French king, Charles IX, were opened with the French government, and Cecil saw the need of supplanting the English ambassador Norris by an envoy of greater astuteness. In December 1570 Walsingham revisited Paris to take Norris's place. He believed in the wisdom of maintaining friendly relations with France in view of the irrevocable hostility of Spain, but he regarded it as essential to English interests for England to seek definite and substantial guarantees that the English queen's marriage with a catholic should not weaken the position of protestantism either in England or in France. He was sanguine that the Huguenots would ultimately sway the councils of France, and that, if the marriage scheme were prudently negotiated, France might be induced to aid the protestants in the Low Countries in their efforts to release themselves from the Spanish yoke. Facts hardly justified such prognostications; but, though Walsingham's strong personal predilections coloured his interpretation of the future, he was no perfunctory observer of events passing before his eyes. He sent home minute reports of the French duke's personal appearance and way of life, and chronicled in detail views of the projected match held by Frenchmen of various ranks and influence. But all his efforts were hampered by the queen's vacillation. He was soon led by her vague and shiftless communications to doubt whether she intended to marry or no. He was building, he feared, on foundations of sand.
After a short leave of absence at the end of 1571, owing to failing health, he resumed his post early in 1572 in the hope of giving more practical expression to that sentiment of amity with France which he deemed it of advantage to his country and religion to cherish. On 2 Feb. 1571–2 a commission was issued to him, Sir Thomas Smith, and Henry Killigrew, who had temporarily filled Walsingham's place at Paris during his recent absence, to conclude a defensive alliance between France and England. The preliminary discussions disclosed profound differences between the contracting parties, and Walsingham's anticipations of a satisfactory accommodation were not realised. The idiosyncrasies of his own sovereign again proved one of the chief stumbling-blocks. Elizabeth showed no greater anxiety than the French diplomatists to commit herself to any well-defined action in regard to the burning question of the future of Scotland and the fate of her prisoner, Queen Mary; nor was she prepared to spend men and money in protecting protestantism from its assailants on the continent. In the result Walsingham was forced to assent to a vague and ambiguous wording of the treaty which left the genuine points of controversy untouched. The unsatisfactory instrument, which amounted to little more than a hollow interchange of friendly greetings, was signed at Blois by Walsingham and Sir Thomas Smith on the queen's behalf on 19 April 1572.
In the months that followed Walsingham spent all his energies in seeking to stiffen the backs of Queen Elizabeth and her ministers at home. England, as the chief protestant power of Europe, could not, he declared, permanently avoid active interference in the affairs of Europe. The maintenance of her prestige, he now pointed out, obliged her to intervene in behalf of the prince of Orange in the civil war that he was waging in the Low Countries against Spain. He repeated his belief that the French king was not unwilling to join England in an armed intervention if Elizabeth openly declared her resolve to support the Flemish protestants effectively. But Walsingham's hopes were temporarily frustrated by the massacre of protestants in Paris on St. Bartholomew's day (24 Aug.), which the French king's profligate mother, Catharine de Medicis, secretly devised. Walsingham was completely taken by surprise, but by order of the French government the English embassy was afforded special protection. Many English protestant visitors took refuge under Walsingham's roof and escaped unharmed (Strype, Annals, ii. i. 225 seq.). Among his guests at the time was the youthful Philip Sidney, with whom he thenceforth maintained a close intimacy. At the instant the wicked massacre strained to the uttermost the relations of the two governments. But the Duc d'Anjou, who was nominally suing for Elizabeth's hand in marriage, protested to Walsingham his disgust at his brother's and mother's crime, and the situation underwent no permanent change. Walsingham was as confident as ever that the clouds that darkened the protestant horizon in France, as in the rest of Europe, would disperse if the prince of Orange were powerfully supported by Elizabeth in the Low Countries. The rebellion was spreading rapidly. Spain's difficulties were growing. But Elizabeth remained unconvinced, and Walsingham, distrustful of his ability to drive her into decisive action from so distant a vantage-ground as Paris, sued for his recall. On 20 April 1573—some eight months after the St. Bartholomew's massacre—he presented to the French king his successor, Valentine Dale [q. v.], and three days later returned to England. When he had audience of Elizabeth, he spoke with elation of the embarrassments that his recent encouragement of the prince of Orange was likely to cause Spain. ‘She had no reason,’ he told her by way of spur, ‘to fear the king of Spain, for although he had a strong appetite and a good digestion,’ yet he—her envoy—claimed to have ‘given him such a bone to pick as would take him up twenty years at least and break his teeth at last, so that her majesty had no more to do but to throw into the fire he had kindled some English fuel from time to time to keep it burning’ (cf. Epistolæ Ho-elianæ, ed. Jacobs, i. 120).
Walsingham's frankness often stirred the queen to abusive wrath. But she recognised from first to last his abilities and patriotism, and he was not many months in England before she took him permanently into her service. On 20 Dec. 1573 she signed a warrant appointing him to the responsible office of secretary of state jointly with Sir Thomas Smith. He was sworn in on the following day, and retained the post till his death. Shortly after his appointment as secretary he resumed his place in the House of Commons, being elected M.P. for Surrey, in succession to Charles Howard, who was called to the upper house as Lord Howard of Effingham. Walsingham retained that seat for life, being re-elected in 1584, 1586, and 1588.
As the queen's principal secretary, Walsingham shared with Lord-treasurer Burghley most of the administrative responsibilities of government. But he mainly divided with Burghley the conduct of foreign affairs—a department of government which was finally controlled in all large issues by the queen herself. His work was mainly that of a secretary of state for foreign affairs in the cabinet of an active despot. His advice was constantly invited, but was rarely acted on. The diplomatic representatives of the country abroad received most of their instructions from him, and he strenuously endeavoured to organise a secret service on so thorough a basis that knowledge of the most furtive designs of the enemies of England—and especially of England's chief enemy, Spain—might be freely at the command of his sovereign and his fellow-ministers. He practised most of the arts that human ingenuity has devised in order to gain political information. ‘Knowledge is never too dear,’ was his favourite maxim, and he devoted his private fortune to maintaining his system of espionage in fullest efficiency. At one time he had in his pay fifty-three private agents in foreign courts, besides eighteen spies who performed functions that could not be officially defined. From all parts of England intelligence reached him almost daily. A list of ‘the names of sundrie forren places, from whence Mr. Secretary Walsingham was wont to receive his advertisements,’ enumerated thirteen towns in France, seven in the Low Countries, five each in Italy and in Spain, nine in Germany, three in the United Provinces, and three in Turkey (Burgon, Life and Times of Sir Thomas Gresham, i. 95 n.) His system of espionage was worked with a Macchiavellian precision at home and abroad. ‘He would cherish a plot some years together, admitting the conspirators to his own and the queen's presence familiarly, but dogging them out watchfully: his spies waited on some men every hour for three years: and lest they could not keep council, he dispatched them to forraign parts, taking in new servants’ (Lloyd). One of his most confidential associates was Thomas Phelippes, an expert in deciphering, at whose house he was a frequent visitor. He was commonly represented to outshoot the jesuits with their own bow, and to carry the art of equivocation beyond the limits that were familiar to the envoys of the Vatican. ‘Tell a lie and find a truth’ was a Spanish proverb that was held by his contemporaries truthfully to describe his conversation with his fellow-diplomatists and all suspected persons. His methods, which were those of all the politicians of contemporary Europe, and cannot claim the distinction of genuine originality, relieved Elizabeth and the country of an extraordinary series of imminent perils, with which they were menaced by catholic zealots. It is inevitable that catholic writers should suggest that much of the evidence which he amassed against suspected catholics was suborned and fraudulent. Many of his agents were men of abandoned character, but Walsingham was keenly alive to their defects, and never depended solely on their uncorroborated testimony. In no instance that has been adduced is there conclusive proof that he strained law or justice against those whom his agents brought under his observation. He patiently and very narrowly watched the development of events before recommending decisive action.
Elizabeth, although she treated Walsingham's political advice with scant respect, showed him in the early days of his secretariate many personal attentions. On 1 Dec. 1577 she knighted him at Windsor Castle. At the new year following she accepted from him a gown of blue satin, and sent him in return sixty and a half ounces of gilt plate. On 22 April 1578 he was constituted chancellor of the order of the Garter.
Walsingham's general views of foreign policy underwent no change on his promotion to the office of secretary. Elizabeth must be spurred into open resistance of Spain in the Low Countries and throughout the world. France might possibly prove an ally in the pursuit of England's arch-enemy; but whether France joined her or no, England's duty and interest, as far as her attitude to Spain went, were the same. At home Spanish catholic intrigues, of which Queen Mary Stuart was the centre, must be exposed and defeated, even at the cost, if need be, of Queen Mary's life. No effort was to be spared to bring Scotland, under James VI, into friendly relations with England. But Walsingham had little influence with Elizabeth, and Lord Burghley was inclined to temporise on most of the great foreign questions in regard to which Walsingham desired England to take a firm stand.
With an irony that exasperated him to the uttermost, Walsingham was in 1578 sent to the Low Countries to pursue a policy that was diametrically opposed to his principles. In June 1578 he and Lord Cobham were sent on a diplomatic mission to the Netherlands with a view to bringing about a pacification between Don John of Austria, the Spanish ruler of the Low Countries, and the prince of Orange, the leader of the protestant rebels. The mission was doomed to failure, and Walsingham came home in September more convinced, he declared, than before that Elizabeth's pusillanimous indifference to the fortune of her Dutch coreligionists not merely destined her to infamy in the sight of posterity, but rendered England contemptible in the sight of contemporaries.
Soon after Walsingham's return to London from the Low Countries he sold his property at Foot's Cray, where he had frequently resided. He thus broke off his connection with the county of Kent. In 1579 he obtained from the crown a lease of the manor of Barn Elms, near Barnes in Surrey, which was within easier reach of London. There he subsequently spent much time. He maintained a somewhat dignified establishment, despite his constant pecuniary embarrassment, and he entertained Queen Elizabeth at Barn Elms in 1585, in 1588, and in 1589.
Walsingham's position in the council was strengthened after 1580 by the consistent support which was accorded his views by the Earl of Leicester. The French marriage was still vaguely contemplated by the queen, although since 1575, when her suitor, the Duc d'Anjou, succeeded to the throne of France as Henri III (on the death of Charles IX), that duke's brother Francis, known at first as the Duc d'Alençon, and later as the Duc d'Anjou, had taken the place of Elizabeth's first French suitor. Gradually, however, Walsingham reached the conclusion that the cause of protestantism, with which the interest of England was in his mind identical, was compromised by the queen's halting attitude to the proposed match. Like Leicester, he believed it was the wisest course to break it off, but at the same time France must not be alienated. In July 1581 he personally undertook the task of negotiating a new treaty with France which should destroy the possibility of any agreement between France and Spain. Arrived in France, he lost no opportunity of deprecating the continuance of the matrimonial negotiations. The queen had given him no definite instructions on the marriage question, and she resented his independent handling of it. On 12 Sept. 1581 Walsingham wrote to her, defending himself with exceptional plainness of speech. He ridiculed her views of matrimony. Her parsimony would ruin, he told her, all her projects. She had thereby alienated Scotland, and, unless she regarded her responsibilities with a greater liberality of view, there was not, he warned her, a councillor in her service ‘who would not wish himself rather in the furthest part of Ethiopia than to enjoy the fairest palace in England’ (Digges). He managed to ingratiate himself with the Duc d'Anjou, who on 18 Sept. wrote to the queen that he was ‘the most honest man possible, and worthy of the favour of the greatest princess in the world’ (Cal. Hatfield MSS. ii. 428). But the queen declined to ratify his proceedings, and he returned home leaving the situation unaltered.
Such an experience made Walsingham reluctant to undertake other diplomatic missions. The queen's indecision had allowed the king of Scotland to fall under the influence of the catholic party among his councillors; but when Elizabeth realised the danger in which a breach with Scotland would involve her, she bade Walsingham go to Edinburgh and judge at close quarters the position of affairs. James was to be dissuaded at all hazards from negotiating with Spain in behalf of his mother. Walsingham did not complacently face a repetition of the humiliation that he had suffered in France. On 6 Aug. he wrote to Bowes that he never undertook any service with ‘so ill a will in his life’ (State Papers, Scotl. i. 452). On 19 Aug. 1583 Mendoza wrote that Walsingham ‘strenuously refused to go, and went so far as to throw himself at the queen's feet and pronounce the following terrible blasphemy: “he swore by the soul, body, and blood of God, that he would not go to Scotland, even if she ordered him to be hanged for it, as he would rather be hanged in England than elsewhere. … Walsingham says that he saw that no good could come of his mission, and that the queen would lay upon his shoulders the whole of the responsibility for the evils that would occur. He said that she was very stingy already, and the Scots more greedy than ever, quite disillusioned now as to the promises made to them; so that it was impossible that any good should be done.’ Elizabeth turned a deaf ear to his expostulation, and bade him obey her orders. Ill-health compelled that he should travel to Scotland very slowly, and he was long delayed at Berwick. Arrived in Edinburgh in August, he gave James much good counsel, and warned him against the Earl of Arran, whose influence was, as he suspected, supreme at the Scottish court. After a month's stay Walsingham set out on the homeward journey, with all his prognostications of the inutility of his embassy confirmed. By way of avenging himself on him for his interposition, Arran substituted ‘a stone of crystal’ for the rich diamond in the ring which James assigned to the English envoy on his departure (State Papers, Scotl., ed. Thorpe, i. 452–9; Cal. Hatfield MSS. iii. 124–7; Melvill, Memoirs, 1683, pp. 147–8; Hume, The Great Lord Burghley, pp. 381–2).
Walsingham's purpose was unchanged. The queen must still be driven at all costs into effective intervention in behalf of the protestants in the Low Countries. The chances of the queen's surrender on the point seemed small. In 1584 Walsingham wrote to Davison, the English envoy in the Netherlands: ‘Sorry I am to see the course that is taken in this weighty cause, for we will neither help these poor countries ourselves nor yet suffer others to do it.’ At length, in 1585, mainly owing to his untiring pressure, he had the satisfaction of negotiating with the Dutch commissioner in London the terms on which the queen was willing to make war on Spain in behalf of the revolted protestants in his Flemish dominions. But even then the queen's parsimony and caprice prevented any blow being struck with fitting force. ‘He is utterly discouraged,’ wrote Leicester of Walsingham when setting out to take command of the protestant army in Holland. Dissensions in the council grew rapidly after the offensive alliance with the States-General had been carried into effect. Burghley, Hatton, and others of her intimate friends encouraged the queen in her vacillation. Walsingham urged her to pursue warlike operations with sustained vigour, but he was hampered by his being kept, at the queen's suggestion, in ignorance of much of the correspondence that was passing between her and English envoys in the Low Countries. Walsingham boldly warned her of the danger and dishonour of her undignified proceedings. The queen equivocated when thus openly challenged. Walsingham had means at his command to track out the disingenuous negotiations which the queen and her friends vainly hoped to keep from his knowledge. But the practical direction of the campaign lay outside his sphere, and none of the decisive results he anticipated came from the active support that Elizabeth temporarily extended to her coreligionists in the Low Countries in their prolonged struggle with Spain.
Walsingham soon determined that Elizabeth should strike a more decisive blow at home against the designs of Spain and the machinations of the catholics. The reports of his spies convinced him that the safety of the country was endangered by the presence of Mary Queen of Scots and by the catholic intrigue of which she was the centre. He frequently protested that his attitude of hostility to catholics was a purely political necessity. Assassination of the queen and her advisers was the weapon which they designed to use in order to restore England to the old faith. Consequently catholic conspirators were to be dealt with as ordinary criminals and murderers in posse. This conviction was brought home to him in 1584 by his investigation of the aims and practices of William Parry (d. 1585) [q. v.] Walsingham long watched, through his spies, Parry's movements. Naunton remarks, ‘It is inconceivable why he suffered Dr. Parry to play so long on the hook before he hoysed him up;’ but Walsingham was very cautiously surveying the whole field of catholic conspiracy. He was in the special commission of oyer and terminer for Middlesex, issued 20 Feb. 1584–5, under which Parry was convicted of high treason. Next year he unravelled a more dangerous plot. The detection of the conspiracy of Anthony Babington, John Ballard, and their accomplices was wholly owing to his sagacity. Gilbert Gifford [q. v.], the chief agent in the discovery, was not an agent of high character, but there is no legitimate room for doubt that the young catholics against whom Gifford informed were guilty of the designs against the life of Queen Elizabeth for which Walsingham caused them to be arrested and tried. He was a member of the special commission for Middlesex issued 5 Sept. 1586 by which they were convicted.
It was the unravelling of the Babington conspiracy that involved Mary Queen of Scots in a definite crime of treason—of abetting the murder of Elizabeth. The intercepted letters that had passed between her and Babington bore no other interpretation. It has been urged by Queen Mary's advocates that Walsingham's agents interpolated in Mary's letter of 17 July 1586 a postscript begging Babington to send her immediate intelligence of the successful assassination of Elizabeth. The history of the passage is obscure, and there seems ground for doubting whether it figured in Mary's first draft. But the rest of Mary's letter, which is of indisputable authenticity, supplied damning evidence of her relations with the conspirators. Walsingham indignantly vindicated himself from the imputation that any of the evidence that he caused to be produced against the queen was forged. He sat in the commission that tried and convicted her in October 1586 at Fotheringay, and was present at Westminster on 25 Oct. when sentence of death was passed. In the months that followed he was one of those councillors who sought most earnestly to overcome Elizabeth's scruples about signing the death-warrant. He has been charged by Mary's champions with employing a confidential secretary, one Thomas Harrison, to forge Queen Elizabeth's signature to Mary Stuart's death-warrant (Strickland, Lives of the Queens, iii. 404; cf. Cotton. MS. Caligula C. ix. f. 463); but Elizabeth personally delivered the death-warrant to William Davison [q. v.], after she had signed it at his request in his presence on 1 Feb. 1586–7. Davison in the previous autumn had been nominated Walsingham's colleague in the office of secretary. Subsequently the queen charged Davison with procuring her signature by irregular means, and although Walsingham was equally open to the charge, which had its source in the queen's reluctance to strike with her own hand the final blow against Mary Stuart, Davison was suffered by the queen and her councillors to serve alone as scapegoat. Walsingham endeavoured throughout this crisis to strengthen Elizabeth's resolution, and he had to defy many ethical considerations in order to achieve success (cf. Labanoff, Lettres de Marie Stuart, vi. 383–98; Poulet, Letter-book, pp. 227 et seq.) There is no doubt that a few hours after the queen had signed the warrant, on 1 Feb. 1586–7, he drafted a letter by the queen's order to Mary Stuart's warders, Paulet and Drury, hinting that the assassination of their prisoner would relieve Elizabeth of her dread of the consequences of a public execution.
Walsingham justly claimed that he sought no personal profit from the energetic discharge of his duties. On 27 July 1581 he asked Sir Christopher Hatton ‘to put her majesty in mind that in eight years' time wherein I have served her I never yet troubled her for the benefitting of any that belonged unto me, either by kindred or otherwise; which I think never any other could say that served in the like place.’ His public services did not go wholly without recognition, but he never received any adequate reward. In 1584 he was custos rotulorum of Hampshire and recorder of Colchester, and in the same year the bailiffs, aldermen, and common council of Colchester entrusted to him the nomination of both their burgesses in parliament. In May 1585 he was high steward of the city of Winchester. On 17 Aug. in the same year the queen granted him a lease (which was subsequently renewed) of the customs payable at certain ports. In 1587 he was appointed chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. But his revenues were to the last placed freely at the service of the state, and the result of his self-denial was a steady growth of pecuniary difficulties.
Domestic affairs were in part responsible for the financial distresses of his later years. His daughter Frances had on 20 Sept. 1583 become the wife of his young friend Sir Philip Sidney. Walsingham became security for the debts of his son-in-law, and after Sidney's death in November 1586 he found himself at the mercy of Sidney's creditors. A legal informality in Sidney's will rendered its provisions, which were designed to lighten Walsingham's obligations, inoperative. In these circumstances Burghley appealed to the queen for her assistance. The estates not only of Babington but of many other convicted traitors in recent years had been forfeited to the crown through Walsingham's watchfulness, but the queen with characteristic waywardness turned a deaf ear to Burghley's appeal. Most of Babington's property was bestowed on Ralegh. Walsingham retired in disgust to his house at Barn Elms, and wrote with pain to Burghley of her majesty's ‘unkind dealings’ (16 Dec. 1586). He returned to his work depressed and disappointed, and for the remaining years of his life was gradually overwhelmed by his private embarrassments, in addition to the anxieties of public life.
It was in connection with Philip's scheme of the Spanish armada that Walsingham's elaborate system of espionage achieved its most conspicuous triumph. Through the late months of 1587 Walsingham's agents in Spain kept him regularly informed of the minutest details of the preparations which the Spanish admirals were making for their great naval expedition. He knew the numbers of men who were enlisted, the character of the vessels that were put into commission, with full inventories of the purchases of horses, armour, ammunition, and food supplies. The queen, as usual, turned a deaf ear to Walsingham's solemn warnings, and declined to sanction any expenditure of money in preparing to resist the designs of Spain. Walsingham grew almost desperate. ‘The manner of our cold and careless proceeding here in this time of peril,’ wrote Walsingham to Leicester (12 Nov. 1587), ‘maketh me to take no comfort of my recovery of health, for that I see, unless it shall please God in mercy and miraculously to preserve us, we cannot long stand.’ In the following year Walsingham's information failed him. As late as May he was in doubt as to the exact intentions of the Spanish fleet, and on 9 July, ten days before the armada appeared off Plymouth, he was inclined to believe that it had dispersed and returned to Spain. Throughout August, while the armada was in the Channel, Walsingham was with the queen at the camp at Tilbury, vainly urging that every advantage should be pressed against the enemy's disabled ships. But the English admiral was not equipped with sufficient ammunition to pursue effectively the flying Spaniards, and Walsingham, at Tilbury, wrote justly of this new exhibition of the queen's indecisive policy (8 Aug. 1588): ‘Our half-doings doth breed dishonour and leaveth the disease uncured’ (Wright, Queen Elizabeth, ii. 385).
Walsingham, who never enjoyed robust health, died at his house at Seething Lane in London on 6 April 1590. He left directions in his will that he should ‘be buried without any such extraordinary ceremonies as usually appertain to a man serving in his place, in respect of the greatness of his debts and the mean state he left his wife and heir in.’ Accordingly he ‘was, about ten of the clocke in the next night following, buried in Paules Church without solemnity’ (Stow, ed. Howes, 1631, p. 761). A long biographical inscription to his memory was fixed on a wooden tablet in the north aisle adjoining the choir of the old cathedral (Dugdale, St. Paul's Cathedral, ed. Ellis, p. 67).
Walsingham bequeathed to his only surviving child, Frances, an annuity of a hundred pounds, and ordered his ‘lands in Lincolnshire’ to be sold for the payment of his debts. His widow was appointed executrix. The will, which was dated 12 Dec. 1589, was proved on 27 May 1590 (Wills from Doctors' Commons, Camden Soc. pp. 69–71).
Camden summed up the estimation in which Walsingham was held at the time of his death in the words: ‘He was a person exceeding wise and industrious … a strong and resolute maintainer of the purer religion, a diligent searcher out of hidden secrets, and one who knew excellently well how to win men's affections to him, and to make use of them for his own purposes.’ Of his patriotism it is impossible to doubt. Almost alone of Queen Elizabeth's advisers, he always knew his own mind, and expressed his opinion fearlessly and clearly. He achieved little, owing to the distrust of the queen. His methods of espionage were worked at the expense of some modern considerations of morality, but his detective weapons were those of England's enemies, and were employed solely in the public interest.
Walsingham's statesmanlike temper is especially conspicuous in his attitude to religious questions. Although he was personally a zealous protestant, he was no fanatic. The punitive measures which he urged against disturbers of the peace of the established church were due to no narrow-minded attempt to secure uniformity either of belief or of practice in matters of religion. To him was attributed the axiom that the consciences of those who dissented from the belief and practice of the established church were ‘not to be forced, but to be won and seduced by force of truth, with the aid of time, and use of all good means of instruction and persuasion.’ But when conscience was pleaded as a justification for covert rebellion or for habitual breach of statute law and violent disturbance of the peace of state or church, it passed, in his view, beyond the bounds within which it could command the respect of government, and grew ‘to be matter of faction.’ ‘Under such circumstances sovereign princes ought distinctly to punish practices and contempt, though coloured with the pretence of conscience and religion.’ These views were defined in a letter which, it was pretended, Walsingham wrote to a Frenchman, M. Critoy, towards the end of his life. That he held the opinions indicated is clear, but that he was himself the author of the exposition of them that was addressed to M. Critoy is doubtful. Spedding gives reasons for regarding the letter to the Frenchman, assigned to Walsingham, as an innocent forgery, and attributes it to Francis Bacon writing in collusion with his former tutor, Archbishop Whitgift (Spedding, Bacon, i. 96–102). It was first printed in ‘Scrinia Sacra,’ 1654, p. 38, and was reprinted in ‘Reflections upon the New Test’ in 1687, and in Burnet's ‘History of the Reformation,’ ii. 661–5.
Walsingham was an enthusiastic supporter of the contemporary movement for the country's colonial expansion. He subscribed to Fenton's voyage in 1582–3; he took Richard Hakluyt [q. v.], the chronicler of English travel, into his pay; he corresponded with Lane, the explorer of Virginia, with Sir Richard Grenville [q. v.], and with Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and was the patron of all the chief writers on the exploration of the new world. Almost all forms of literature and learning interested him. Spenser, in a sonnet prefixed to the ‘Faerie Queene,’ apostrophised him as
The great Mecænas of this age,
As well to all that civil artes professe,
As those that are inspired with martial rage.
To him were dedicated Angel Day's ‘Life of Sir Philip Sidney’ in 1586, and many religious works of a puritan tendency, including Bright's abridgment of Foxe's ‘Actes and Monuments’ in 1589. In 1583 Henry Howard, earl of Northampton [q. v.], dedicated to him his ‘Defensative against the Poyson of supposed Prophecies’ (Strype, Annals, ii. i. 295). In 1586 he established a divinity lecture at Oxford, which was read by John Rainolds [q. v.], afterwards president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, but it was not continued after Walsingham's death. To the library of King's College he gave a copy of the Antwerp Polyglot Bible (1569–73), which he seems to have purchased in Holland. To Emmanuel College, of which the founder was Sir Walter Mildmay, his brother-in-law, he gave the advowson of Thurcaston in Leicestershire.
Thomas Watson wrote a Latin eclogue on Walsingham's death which he entitled ‘Melibœus.’ He translated the poem into English under the title ‘An Eglogue upon the death of the Right Honorable Sir Francis Walsingham.’ Both the Latin and the English version were published in 1590, the Latin being dedicated to Walsingham's cousin, Thomas Walsingham, and the English one to Walsingham's daughter Frances, lady Sidney. In the poem Walsingham figures under the pastoral name of Melibœus, his daughter appears as Hyane, and his cousin Thomas Walsingham as Tityrus. Both Latin and English versions were reprinted, face to face on parallel pages, in Mr. Arber's edition of Watson's poems.
Walsingham was twice married. His first wife, by whom he had no children, was Anne, daughter of Sir George Barnes (lord mayor of London 1552), and widow of one Alexander Carleill. She died in the summer of 1564, possessed of a private fortune, and made many bequests by will (dated 28 July and proved 22 Nov. 1564) with Walsingham's consent. To him she gave the custody of her son by her first marriage, Christopher Carleill [q. v.], then under twenty-one years of age. About 1567 Walsingham married his second wife, Ursula, daughter of Henry St. Barbe, and widow of Sir Richard Worsley of Appuldurcombe. Her two sons by her first husband, John and George Worsley, were accidentally killed by an explosion of gunpowder in the porter's lodge at their late father's house at Appuldurcombe soon after her marriage to Walsingham. Although she never ingratiated herself with Elizabeth, she was frequently at court after Sir Francis's death, and exchanged new year's presents with the queen. She died suddenly at Barn Elms on 18 June 1602, and was buried the next night privately near her husband in St. Paul's Cathedral (Chamberlain, Letters, Camden Soc. p. 143). She left property at Boston and Skirbeck in Lincolnshire to her only surviving child by Walsingham, Frances, the wife successively of Sir Philip Sidney, Robert Devereux, second earl of Essex, and Richard de Burgh, earl of Clanricarde. Walsingham by his second wife had a daughter Mary, who died unmarried in June 1580.
In all contemporary pictures Walsingham's expression of countenance suggests the crafty disposition with which he was credited. Bust-portraits, in which he wears a tight-fitting black skull-cap, are at Hampton Court, and in the possession respectively of Mrs. Dent of Sudeley, of Lord Zouche, and Lord Sackville (at Knole Park). A similar picture, commonly stated to be at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, cannot be traced there. A portrait by Zucchero, formerly at Strawberry Hill, was sold in 1842 to Beriah Botfield for thirty-six guineas. This was engraved by Houbraken. According to Evelyn (Diary, iii. 443), the great Earl of Clarendon owned a full-length portrait of Walsingham, of which the whereabouts does not now seem known. The painting at Knole was engraved in Lodge's ‘Portraits’ in 1824 (Law, Catalogue of Pictures at Hampton Court, p. 208; Lodge, Portraits, vol. ii.; Portraits at Knole, 1795). An engraving by an unknown artist is in Holland's ‘Herωologia.’ Other engravings are by P. à. Gunst, Vertue, and H. Meyer. Miniatures of Walsingham are at Penshurst (the seat of Lord De L'Isle and Dudley) and in the possession of Mr. William de Vins Wade of Dunmow, Essex. A picture assigned to Sir Antonio More (now in the possession of Mrs. Dent of Sudeley), and including portraits of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Queen Mary, Philip II, and Elizabeth, is inscribed at the foot in gold letters with the distich:
The Queene to Walsingham this Tablet sente,
Marke of her peoples and her owne contente.
Walsingham's official papers form an invaluable mine of historical information. Almost all the foreign state papers preserved at the Public Record Office which belong to the important period of Walsingham's secretaryship (1573–90) consist of letters or drafts of letters written by him or under his instruction, or of despatches and reports addressed to him by his agents abroad. There are also at the Record Office his ‘Entry book’ or departmental register of his correspondence, and a volume of letters written for him by one of his clerks, Lisle Cave. These papers are being calendared by Mr. A. J. Butler for the foreign series of state papers of Elizabeth's reign. Similar documents connected with Walsingham's official career are at Hatfield, and have been calendared by the historical manuscripts commission in the Hatfield ‘Calendars.’ Almost as numerous are Walsingham's letters and papers in the Lansdowne, Cottonian, and Harleian collections at the British Museum. Others of his papers are calendared in the Spanish and Venetian series of state papers. A long series of his letters written while he was in Scotland in 1583 is printed in Thorpe's ‘Calendar of Scottish State Papers.’ Many official letters on home topics from him to the lord mayor of London are in the archives of the city of London and are epitomised in ‘Remembrancia’ (1878 passim).
Walsingham's letters and despatches while ambassador in France are printed in full in ‘The Compleat Ambassador’ by Sir Dudley Digges, London, 1655, fol. They cover the periods 11 Aug. 1570 to 20 Aug. 1573 and 22 July 1581 to 13 Sept. following. A journal of Walsingham's daily movements and engagements, with the names of persons with whom he corresponded day by day—from 3 Dec. 1570 to 20 April 1583—was printed in the Camden Society's ‘Miscellany’ (vol. vi.) in 1871 from a manuscript written by Walsingham's secretary, in the possession of Colonel Carew of Crowcombe Court. Another copy belonged to Sir Thomas Phillipps. There are four breaks in the entries. ‘An Addition [by Walsingham] to the Declaration, concerning two Imputations that were layed upon the Queen by a published Pamphlet, 1576,’ is printed in Murdin's ‘State Papers,’ p. 295. A purely military disquisition, ‘An Order for the readie and easie trayning of Shott, and the avoyding of great expence and wast of powder’ (among the Talbot MSS. in the College of Arms), was printed as Walsingham's composition in Lodge's ‘Illustrations,’ ii. 284 (cf. Kempe, Loseley Manuscripts, p. 296 n.) There is no ground for the association of Sir Francis Walsingham's name with ‘Arcana Aulica; or Walsingham's Manual of Prudential Maxims for the Statesman and Courtier’ (1652); this was a translation from the French by Edward Walsingham [q. v.] Among the more important unprinted papers attributed to Walsingham are: ‘A Discourse touching the pretended Matche between the D. of Norfolk & the Queene of Scotts’ (Harl. MS. 290, f. 114), and ‘Speeches to her Majesty touching the diseased state of Ireland’ (Cott. MS. Tit. B. xii. 365).[Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr.; Wright's Queen Elizabeth; Cal. of Foreign State Papers noticed above; Cal. State Papers, Dom.; Cal. Hatfield MSS.; Froude's Hist. of England; Motley's Hist. of the United Netherlands; Lodge's Portraits, vol. ii.; Naunton's Fragmenta Regalia; Strype's Annals; Lloyd's Worthies; Fuller's Worthies, ed. Nuttall, ii. 143; Hume's Great Lord Burghley. 1898; Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth; Nicolas's Life of Hatton; Brown's Genesis of the United States; the Duke of Manchester's Court and Society from Elizabeth to Anne, edited from the papers at Kimbolton, 1864, i. 218 et seq.; Archæologia Cantiana, xiii. 386–403, xvii. 390–391; Hasted's Kent; History of Chislehurst, by Messrs. E. A. Webb, G. W. Miller, and J. Beckwith (London, 1899); Sir Francis Walsingham und Seine Zeit, von Dr. Karl Stählin, Heidelberg, 1908.]
|240||ii||2-3||Walsingham, Sir Francis (1530?-1590): omit in other manuscript collections than those named|