Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Palavicino, Horatio

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939758Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 43 — Palavicino, Horatio1895Albert Frederick Pollard

PALAVICINO, Sir HORATIO (d. 1600), merchant and political agent, came of a celebrated Italian family, the elder branch of which possessed a district on the Po called the Stato Palavicino, while the younger branch settled at Genoa; several members of it were appointed regents of Genoa by the Dukes of Milan, and more than one became a cardinal. One was in the service of the English kings, Henry VIII and Edward VI. Horatio's father, Tobias Palavicino, was probably a merchant, and was living in 1579. Horatio was born at Genoa, but early in life was sent into the Netherlands, where he resided for some time; thence he proceeded to England, where he was recommended to Queen Mary, and appointed collector of papal taxes. On Mary's death, Palavicino, according to tradition, abjured his Romanism, and, appropriating the sums he had collected for the pope, laid the foundations of an enormous fortune. Devoting himself to commercial enterprise, he seems to have extended his business operations to most quarters of the globe. The wealth he thus acquired made him an important financial agent. He lent largely to Queen Elizabeth, Henry of Navarre, and the Netherlands, and always at a usurious interest; so greatly was Elizabeth indebted to him that the fate of the kingdom was said to have depended upon him; while on one occasion he furnished Henry of Navarre with no less than one hundred thousand French crowns. Palavicino's position as a collector of political intelligence was equally important, and his numerous commercial correspondents frequently enabled him to forestall all other sources of information. He was himself often employed by the government to furnish intelligence from abroad; he was acting in this capacity in 1581. In June he appears to have experienced some trouble for refusing to go to church (Strype, Annals, i. iii. 57, 273). In 1583 he was at Paris befriending William Parry (d. 1585) [q. v.] In April 1584 Richard Hakluyt [q. v.] wrote to Walsingham that Palavicino was willing to join in the western voyage. In 1585, when Philip Howard, first earl of Arundel [q. v.], was imprisoned, he sought the aid of Palavicino, as being ‘an honest man,’ in preparing his defence. On 7 Feb. 1585–6 Palavicino was recommended by Burghley to Leicester in the Low Countries, and in the same year he was granted a patent of denization. In 1587 he was knighted by Elizabeth, on which occasion Thomas Newton [q. v.] addressed to him an ode, which was printed that year in his ‘Illustrium Aliquot Anglorum Encomia,’ and republished in the second edition of Leland's ‘Collectanea,’ 1770, v. 174. Early in 1588 he was in Germany; he returned before the summer, and asked to serve against the armada. He was consulted by Burghley about raising money to meet the invasion, equipped a vessel at his own cost, and was present as a volunteer during the operations in the Channel and at Calais. It is generally stated that he commanded a vessel against the armada, and his portrait is among the captains commemorated in the House of Lords' tapestry (Morant and Pine, Tapestry of the House of Lords, p. 16); but his name does not appear in the list of captains (Murdin, pp. 615–20; cf. Papers relating to the Armada, ed. Laughton, passim).

In the following October Palavicino attempted on his own account a political intrigue, in which the English government was probably not implicated, though Walsingham may have suggested some such scheme to Palavicino (ib. ii. 199 n.) He wrote to Alexander Farnese, the Spanish commander in the Netherlands, suggesting a scheme by which Alexander was to assume the sovereignty of the Netherlands to the exclusion of Philip, was to guarantee the cautionary towns to Elizabeth until her advances to the Dutch had been repaid, and to receive the support and perpetual alliance of England. Alexander rejected these proposals with indignation, declaring that had Palavicino recommended them in person he would have killed him; he sent a detailed account of the affair to Philip, who suggested that Palavicino should be invited to Flanders, and should be punished after he had disclosed all the information he could (Motley, United Netherlands, ii. 539–41).

In February 1589–90 Palavicino was sent into Germany, with an allowance of 50s. a day for diet; in July he went as envoy to the French king; in November he was again in Germany, which he revisited in 1591 and 1592, maintaining a correspondence with the government, Sir Thomas Bodley [q. v.], ambassador at the Hague, and other diplomatists. His principal business was the negotiation of loans for the English and Dutch governments. In 1594 he once more applied for license to go abroad, but his active employment ceased soon afterwards, and he retired to his manor of Babraham, near Cambridge, where he died on 6 July 1600. He was buried there on 17 July, and his funeral was kept on 4 Aug. His will is given in the ‘Calendar of State Papers.’ The queen owed him nearly 29,000l., which subsequently formed a matter of frequent dispute between his sons and the government, and was never fully paid.

Palavicino was ‘an extreme miser,’ and ‘in every way distant from amiable, but he possessed the best abilities.’ Horace Walpole says he was an arras painter, and certainly he supplied Elizabeth with arras, but that he painted arras himself is not so clear. He was also Italian architect to the queen. A number of his letters, written in a beautiful hand, are extant in the Cotton MSS. in the British Museum; his ‘Narrative of the Voyage of the Spanish Armada,’ &c., is printed in the ‘Calendar of State Papers,’ under date August 1588, but it contains many errors; he is also said to have published some Italian psalms (ib. 1594, p. 406), but these are not known to be extant. Theophilus Field [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Hereford, contributed to, and edited, ‘An Italian's Dead Bodie stucke with English Flowers; Elegies on the Death of Sir Oratio Pallavicino,’ London, 1600, which he dedicated to Palavicino's widow. Bishop Hall also wrote ‘Certaine Verses written and sent, in way of comfort, to her Ladiship,’ which were printed in ‘Album seu Nigrum Amicorum in obit. Hor. Palavicini,’ London, 1600, 4to. The following quaint epitaph, quoted by Horace Walpole, was found among the manuscripts of Sir John Carew of Ushington:

    Here lies Horatio Palavazene,
    Who robb'd the Pope to lend the Queene;
    He was a thiefe. A thiefe? Thou lyest,
    For whie? He robb'd but Antichrist,
    Him death with besome swept from Babram
    Into the bosom of old Abram.
    But then came Hercules with his club,
    And struck him down to Belzebub.

It had, however, been previously printed in a small volume of poetry, ‘Recreations for ingenious Headpieces, or a pleasant Grove for their Wits to walk in,’ &c., 1667.

While in the Low Countries Palavicino married a certain ‘very mean person,’ whom he did not wish to acknowledge as his wife while his father was alive; by her he had one son, Edward, whom, in deference to the wish of his second wife, he declared illegitimate and disinherited. Many years after his first wife's death Palavicino married at Frankfort, on 27 April 1591, Anne, daughter of Egidius Hoostman of Antwerp; she received patent of denization in England in the following year. By her Palavicino had two sons and a daughter—Henry, who died on 14 Oct. 1615, without issue; and Tobie, who was born on 20 May 1593 at Babraham, which was probably the occasion of an ode of twenty stanzas in Additional MS. 22583, f. 146, beginning, ‘Italæ gentis decos atque lumen.’ Tobie squandered his father's wealth, was imprisoned in the Fleet, and died, leaving three sons and a daughter. Palavicino's family became closely connected with the Cromwells by a remarkable series of marriages. His widow, a year and a day after his death, married Sir Oliver Cromwell, the Protector's great-uncle; the two sons, Henry and Tobie, married, on 10 April 1606, Sir Oliver's two daughters by a previous marriage, Catharine and Jane; and the daughter, Baptina, married Sir Oliver's eldest son and heir, Henry. Subsequently another member of the family, Peter Palavicino, came to England as a merchant, was knighted on 19 June 1687, and died in February 1694 (Le Neve, Knights, p. 412).

[Authorities quoted; Cotton MSS. passim; Addit. MSS. 22583 f. 146, 24489 f. 446 (Hunter's Chorus Vatum); Cal. State Papers, Dom. and Spanish Ser. passim; Murdin's State Papers, pp. 784, 796, 800, &c.; Hatfield MSS. passim; Collins's Letters and Memorials, ii. 319, 323, iii. 206; Rymer's Fœdera (Syllabus), ii. 812, 814, 815, 821; Chamberlain's Letters, p. 112, and Leycester Corr. passim (Camden Soc.); Sir H. Spelman's Hist. of Sacrilege, ed. 1853, pp. 306–7; Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Wornum, i. 186; Noble's Memoirs of the House of Cromwell, ii. 173–80; Peck's Desiderata Curiosa, ii. 52; Camden's Britannia, ii. 138–9; Leland's Collectanea, ed. Hearne, App. i. 174; Coryat's Crudities, pp. 255, 259; Nichols's Progresses of James I, i. 100–3, 159, ii. 408, et seq.; Lit. Anecd. i. 676, v. 255–6; Gough's Camden, ii. 138; Papers relating to the Armada (Navy Records Soc.); Masson's Milton, ii. 207, 357; Somers Tracts, i. 445; Morant's Essex, i. 8, 26; Lysons's Environs, iv. 275; Markham's Fighting Veres, p. 52; Collier's Bibl. Lit. i. 282–4; Gent. Mag. 1815 i. 298, 1851 i. 238–9; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. viii. 432, 533, 5th ser. xi. 216, xii. 38, 215, 7th ser. ix. 238–9.]

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