Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Oldcastle, John

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OLDCASTLE, Sir JOHN, styled Lord Cobham (d. 1417), came of a family of consideration, who were lords of the manor of Almeley near Weobley, in Western Herefordshire, and whose estates touched the Wye at Letton (Cal. Inquis. post mortem, iv. 124). A parcel of their lands in Almeley was called Oldcastle, and this, no doubt, was the mound beside the church on which ruins were still visible in the seventeenth century. The name Old Castle, which was probably derived from some ancient, perhaps Roman, fortification, which had disappeared by the fifteenth century, is still, or was until recently, attached to a farmhouse occupying the site (Robinson, Castles of Herefordshire, 1869, p. 3; cf. Kelly, Directory of Herefordshire). It is probably unnecessary then to suppose that the family had ever been connected with the small village of Oldcastle in the north-west corner of Monmouthshire, which one tradition has confidently pointed to as the birthplace of Sir John Oldcastle. Oldcastle has been claimed as a Welshman (Archæologia Cambrensis, 1st ser. i. 47; 4th ser. viii. 125). But of this there is certainly no proof, least of all in the fact, if fact it be, that he was known among the Welsh as 'Sion Hendy o Went Iscoed,' which is a mere translation of John Oldcastle of Herefordshire. On the other hand, it is quite likely that a family living so close to the marches, even if originally of purely English extraction, would have Welsh blood in its veins, and some might fancy that they could detect Celtic traits in his career. Of that career practically nothing is known prior to 1401, and even his parentage and the date of his birth are unsettled. According to the pedigree which Mr. Robinson gives in the work quoted above from the 'Visitation' of 1589 (?), he was a son of Sir Richard Oldcastle, and a grandson of the John Oldcastle who represented Herefordshire in the parliaments of 1368 and 1372 (Return of Members of Parliament, i. 179, 188; cf. Cooke, Visitation of 1569, ed. F. W. Weaver). Thomas Oldcastle, who held the same position in 1390 and 1393, and was sheriff of the county in 1386 and 1391, was probably his uncle; he died between 1397 and 1402, having married the heiress of the neighbouring family of Pembridge,and his son Richard, who died in 1422, held lands in Herefordshire and Worcestershire (Robinson, Appendix, i.; Cal. Inquis. post mortem, iv. 65, 253; Devon, Issues, p. 299; Rot. Parl. iv. 99; Kalendars and Inventories, ii. 53).

Oldcastle's biographers have usually represented him as an old man of nearly sixty years of age at his death, and have placed his birth with some confidence in 1360 (Archæologia Cambrensis, 4th ser. viii. 125; Gaspey, i. 49). But the evidence available points to a considerable over-statement. Bale confused him with John, third lord Cobham [q. v.], the grandfather of his future wife, and thus erroneously made him the leader of the lollards in the parliaments of 1391 and 1395. These errors, and the way in which the fifteenth and sixteenth century writers played upon the first syllable of his name, have doubtless led to an exaggerated estimate of the length of his life (Bale, 'Brefe Chronycle' in Harleian Miscellany, i. 251). Misled by this, the Elizabethan dramatists pictured Oldcastle, 'my old lad of the castle,' the supposed companion of Henry V's early follies, as the 'aged counsellor to youthful sin.' We have the statement of a not very trustworthy contemporary that he was born in 1378, which is probably much nearer the truth (Elmham, Liber Metricus, p. 156).

The conjecture that Oldcastle met Wiclif in hiding at some castle of John of Gaunt's in the west must be relented to the same category as Balers assumption that he was prominent in securing the passing of the great act of præmunire (Archæologia Cambrensis, 4th ser. viii. 125). Weever asserts, in his poetical life of Oldcastle (1601), that in his youth he had been page to Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk [q. v.], who was banished in 1398 and died ahroad in 1399. He makes his first appearance in contemporary authorities as a trusted servant of the crown in the Welsh marches under Henry IV, nearly twenty years after Wiclifs death, and we hear little of his lollard opinions until the clergy took open action against him in the first year of Henry V. In November 1401 'Monsieur Johan Oldecastille' was sent op the Wye to take charge of the castle of Huilth (Ordinances of tlus Privy Council, i. 174). A year or two later Oldcastle was told off to assist the constable of Kidwelly Castle on the Carmarthenshire coast with forty lances and a hundred and twenty archers (ib. ii. 68). In the September following the battle of Shrewsbury, the king empowered Oldcastle to pardon or punish such of his Welsh tenants as were rebels (Fœdera, viii. 331). He sat as knight of the shire for Herefordshire in the lengthy parliament which opened on 14 Jan. 1404 (Returns of Members, i. 265; Wylie, i. 400 seq.) In the summer, however, he was called upon to take temporary charge of the castle of Hay on the Wye, some eight miles south-west of Almeley (Ord. Privy Council, i. 237). A few months later he was placed on a commission entrusted with the impossible task of stopping the conveyance of provisions and arms into the rebel districts of Wales (Wylie, ii. 5). He was sheriff of Herefordshire in the eighth year of the reign (1406-7), and in the tenth joint custodian of the lordship of Dinas in the present Brecknockshire (Dugdale, Baronage, ii. 67 ; Calend. Rotul. Chart. p. 359).

The personal friendship between Oldcastle and the Prince of Wales doubtless dated from the years in which Henry was his father's lieutenant in Wales; and in the quieter times which followed the subsidence of Glendower's revolt the fortunes of the Herefordshire knight continued to rise. He was now, for the second time, a widower, and by October 1409 he had secured the hand of a Kentish heiress, Joan, lady Cobham, granddaughter of John, third lord Cobham of Kent, a prominent figure under Richard U, who died at an extreme old age on 10 Jan. 1408 (Dugdale, i. 67). Cobham Manor and Cowling or Cooling Castle, some four miles north of Rochester, at the edge of the marshes, passed to Joan, who was the only child of Cobham's daughter Joan and Sir John de la Pole of Chnshall in Essex. She was at this time thirty years of age, and had just (9 Oct. 1407) lost her third husband, Sir Nicholas Hawberk, who had served in Wales (Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, vii. 329 ; Hasted, Hist. of Kent, iii. 429 ; Archæologia Cantiana, xi. 49 seq., xii. 113 seq.) Shortly after, and probably in consequence of his marriage with Lady Cobham, Oldcastle was summoned to parliament as a baron by a writ directed to 'Johannes Oldcastell, chevalier,' on 26 Oct. 1409, and received similar writs down to 22 March 1413 (Complete Peerage, by G. E. C, ii. 317). This is now usually regarded as the creation of a new barony in his favour. He is commonly styled, even in official documents, 'John Oldcastle, Knight, and Lord Cobham [dominus de Cobham];' but we find Lady Cobham's second husband. Sir Re^nald Bray broke, called 'Dominus de Cowling,' after a portion of the property which she was to inherit from her grandfather (Collectanea Topographica, vii. 341 ; cf. Walsingham, ii. 291).

The favour of the prince presently secured the newly created oaron a further opportunity of military distinction. In September 1411 the prince, who was practically acting as viceroy for his sick father, took upon himself to despatch an English force under the Earl of Arundel to the assistance of the Duke of Burgundy, and Oldcastle was associated with Arundel and Robert and Gilbert Umphraville in the command (Ramsay, i. 130). Small as the force was, it at once turned the scale between the warring French factions in Burgundy's favour. By the middle of December the English auxiliaries were dismissed with a remuneration, to raise which the duke had to pawn his jewels. Oldcastle in these years undoubtedly stood high in the favour of the prince, to whose household he seems to have been officially attached (Elmham, Vita, p. 31 ; Walsingham, ii. 291). There is no hint, however, in the contemporary authorities, hostile as they are, to support the view adopted by the Elizabethan dramatists

that he was one of Henry's boon companions. Bale, indeed, makes him confess at his trial to ' gluttony, covetousness, and lechery in his frail youth,' but whether he had authority for this is by no means clear; and in any case he cannot refer to the time of Henry's wild life in London. For Oldcastle was then already a convinced and prominent lollard, and any inconsistency in his life would no doubt have been eagerly noted. How he became a lollard it is now impossible to say. But it is worth noticing that Herefordshire, and especially the district in which Almeley lay, was a hotbed of lollardy in the last decade of the fourteenth century. William Swinderby, the proceedings against whom in 1391 are given at length by Foxe,was charged with having denied the validity of absolution by a priest in deadly sin, at Whitney, four miles south-west of Almeley; Walter Brute, a Herefordshire layman, made himself very obnoxious to the clergy by his heretical preaching, and was supported by force, so that the king had in September 1393 to order the officials and notabilities of Herefordshire, among them Thomas Oldcastle, to see that the bishop was not interfered with, and that illegal conventicles were no longer held (Foxe, Acts and Monuments, iii. lll, 131, 196).

The earliest evidence of Oldcastle's own lollard opinions belongs to 1410, when, owing to the unlicensed preaching of 'Sir John the Chaplain,' the churches of Hoo, Halstow, and Cooling, all on the estates of his wife, were laid under interdict (Wilkins, Concilia, iii. 329). He is said to have done his utmost to convert the prince himself to his views (Gesta Henrici V, p. 2). Elmham (Vita, p. 31) declares that Henry had already dismissed him from his service on account of his lollard heresies before he came to the throne. But this seems to be contradicted by the evidence of the proceedings against him in 1413. Oldcastle's position and earnestness certainly made him a most formidable leader of the lollard party. He was striving to secure the reformation of the clergy in the lollard sense, and, according to Thomas Netter or Walden [q. v.], he had, at the instance of John Huss, provided for the diffusion of Wiclif's writings (Goodwin, Henry V, p. 167; Bale, p. 251).

At the first meeting of the convocation which assembled at St. Paul's on 6 March 1413, a fortnight before the death of Henry V, John Lay, a chaplain there present, was denounced as a heretic, and confessed to having 'celebrated ' that very morning in the presence of Oldcastle, though unable to produce the license of his ordinary (Wilkins, iii. 338). Convocation sat well on into the summer, and accumulated fresh evidence against Oldcastle. A large number of Wiclifite tracts were seized, condemned, and burnt. In the course of the search a book containing a number of small tracts much more dangerous in tendency was discovered in the shop of an illuminator in Paternoster Row, who confessed that Oldcastle was the owner. The latter was summoned to Kennington, and in the king's closet there on 6 June the tracts were read in the presence of Henry and 'almost all the prelates and nobles of England.' The king expressed his abhorrence of the views expounded in them as the worst against the faith and the church he had ever heard. Oldcastle, being appealed to by him, is alleged to have confessed that they were justly condemned, and pleaded that he had not read more than two leaves of the book (ib. iii. 352). This encouraged the clergy to make a general attack upon him for his open maintenance of heresy and heretical preachers, especially in the dioceses of London, Rochester, and Hereford. It was thought prudent, however, in view of the close relation in which the culprit stood to the king, to consult Henry before taking any further steps. The bishops accordingly went to Kennington and laid the matter before the king, who thanked them, but begged them, out of respect for Oldcastle's connection with himself and for the order of knighthood, to postpone any action until he had tried what persuasion could do to wean Sir John from his errors. If he failed, he promised that the law should be put into force in all its rigour. The clergy, we are told, were inclined to resent the delay, but their leaders acquiesced in the king's wishes. Henry must have had good hopes of the success of his intervention, for on 20 July he issued a warrant for the payment at Michaelmas 1414 of four hundred marks, the balance of the purchase-money of a valuable buckle, perhaps part of the spoil of the French expedition of 1411, sold to him by Oldcastle and four other persons (Fœdera, ix. 41). But Oldcastle was proof against the royal arguments, and after a final stormy interview at Windsor early in August, when the king chid him sharply for his obstinacy, he went off without leave and shut himself up in Cowling Castle. Henry thereupon authorised Arundel (about 15 Aug.) to proceed against him, and issued (21 Aug.) a stringent proclamation against unlicensed lollard preaching (ib. ix. 46; Wilkins, iii. 352-3; cf. Bale, p. 255). The archbishop sent his summoner with a citation to Cowling; but Oldcastle refusing to accept personal service, another citation was affixed to the doors of Rochester Cathedral on 6 Sept. requiring him to appear before the archbishop at Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, on the 11th of the month (ib. p. 266, cf. ed. 1729, p. 117 ; Fasciculi Zizorniorum, p. 436; Walsingham, ii. 292). These citations were, according to one account, twice torn down by Oldcastle's friends, and, as he fkiled to appear at Leeds on the appointed day, he was declared contumacious and excommunicated. A further summons was issued calling upon him to appear on Saturday, 23 Sept., to show cause why he should not be condemned as a heretic and handed over to the secular arm. Bale here inserts a confession of faith, begining with the Apostles' Creed and including a definition of the functions of the three estates of the church militant — priesthood, knighthood, and commons — which Oldcastle is alleged to have taken to the king. Henry declined to receive it, and, turning a deaf ear to his further suggestions that a hundred knights and esquires should clear him of heresy or that he should clear himself in single combat, allowed a summons to be served upon him in his own presence. Whereupon Oldcastle produced a written appeal from the jurisdiction of the archbishop to the pope, whom, according to Bale, he had roundly denounced as antichrist in his previous interviews with the king. Bale's narrative is generally based upon the archbishop's official account, of which the fullest form is printed in the 'Fasciculi Zizaniorum,' but he adds a good deal from sources which cannot always be traced even when he mentions his authority.

Oldcastle was arrested under a royal writ ; and when the archbishop opened his court in the chapter-house of St. Paul's on 23 Sept., he was produced by the lieutenant of the Tower (Devon, Issues, p. 324 ; Fasciculi Zizaniorum, p. 467). Arundel, with whom sat Richard Clifford, bishop of London, and Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, was clearly unwilling to go to extremities, and gave Oldcastle another opportunity of securing absolution by submission. But he presented instead a written confession of faith in English, in which he defined his position on the four or five points on which his orthodoxy was principally impugned. He expressed his belief in all the sacraments ordained by God, believed the sacrament of the altar to be 'Christ's body in form of bread,' and, with regard to the sacrament of penance, held that men must forsake sin and do due penance therefor with true confession, or they could not be saved. Images, he said, were merely calendars for the unlearned, to represent and bring to mind the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and the martyrdom and good living of other saints. 'Hoso putteth feyth, hope, or trust in helpe of hem, as he scholde do to God, he doth in that the grete synne of mawmetrie [idolatry].' As to pilgrimages, he held that a man might go on pilgrimage to all the world and yet be damnea ; but that if he knew and kept God's commandments, he should be saved, 'though he nevyr in hys lyff go on pilgrimage as men use now, to Cantirbery or to Rome, or to eny other place' (ib. p. 438 ; cf. Bale, ed. 1729, p. 121). Arundel, after consultation with his assessors, informed Oldcastle that his 'schedule' contained much that was good and sufficiently catholic, but insisted on a fuller statement of his belief on the two points, whether in the eucharist the consecrated bread remained material bread or not, and whether confession to a duly qualified priest where possible was or was not necessary to the efficacy of the sacrament of penance. Oldcastle, however, refused to add anything to what he had said in his schedule on these sacraments, although warned by the archbishop that by refusal he ran the risk of being pronounced a heretic. Informed by the court of what the 'holy Roman Church had laid down on these points in accordance with the teaching of the fathers, he professed perfect willingness to believe and observe what 'holy church' had decreed and God wished him to believe and observe, but denied that the pope, cardinals, and prelates had any power of determining such things. The inquiry was then adjourned unto the Monday (25 Sept.), when the court met at the convent of the Black Friars 'within Ludgate ' (ib. p. 263 ; Gregory, p. 107). It. was now reinforced by the presence of Benedict Nicolls [q. v.], bishop of Bangor; besides the bishops, twelve doctors of law or divinity sat as assessors, including Philip Morgan [q. v.], John Kemp [q. v.], and the heads of the four mendicant orders, among whom was Thomas Netter or Walden. Urged again to seek absolution, Oldcastle declared he would do so from none but God (Fasciculi Zizaniorum, p. 443). The scene described by Bale — Oldcastle going down on his knees and imploring the divine absolution for the sins of his youth — is perhaps only an expansion of this declaration. The archbishop then demanded what answer he had to give to the summary of the church's faith and determination on the eucharist, confession, the power of the keys and pilgrimages which had been handed to him 'in English for his better understanding thereof on the Sunday. In reply, he defined quite unmistakably his position on the two critical points raised at the end of his first examination. If the church had determined that the consecrated bread was bread no longer, it must have been since the poison of property had infected her. As to confession to a priest, it was often salutary, but he could not hold it essential to salvation. There followed an argument of which Bale gives a much fuller account than Arundel, partly based on Walden's writings, and in the main, perhaps, trustworthy. Both sides quoted scripture freely in support of their views, and grew so warm that at length Oldcastle roundly denounced the pope as the head of anti-christ, the prelates his members, and the friars his tail. He finally turned to the bystanders and warned them against his judges, whose teaching would lead them to perdition if they listened to it (ib. pp. 443-6 ; Bale, pp. 264-72). Arundel then delivered sentence. Oldcastle was declared a heretic, and handed over to the secular arm. But the king, if not the archbishop, was anxious to save his life if possible, and a respite of forty days was allowed him in the hope that he would recant (Gesta Henrid, p. 3; cf. Walsingham, ii. 296). Nevertheless, the Lollards were driven desperate by the prospect of what awaited them if the king's own friend were only spared on such conditions, and a hundred thousand men were declared to be ready to rise in arms for the lord of Cobham. The government is said to have replied by publishing the abjuration purporting to be made by Oldcastle, which IS printed in the 'Fasciculi Zizaniorum' S). 414 ; cf. Ramsay, i. 178, n, 6). It is undated, and may only be a draft prepared for a signature which was withheld.

Henry's chaplain, who wrote before 1418, says that Oldcastle was relieved of his fetters by promising to recant and submit to the judgment of the convocation which was to meet in November, and seized the opportunity to escape from the Tower. His escape, which some of his enemies ascribed to demoniacal agency, was certainly, rather mysterious (Elmham, Liber Metricus, p. 99). One William Fisher, a parchment-maker in Smithfield, in whose house he secreted himself, was hanged in 1416 on a charge of arranging the escape (Ramsay, i. 180; Chron. ed. Davies, p. 183). Sir James Ramsay gives evidence to show that it was effected on 19 Oct. ; but a royal prohibition to harbour Oldcastle, dated 10 Oct., the very day on which Arundel finally ordered the sentence to be publislied throughout England, points to nn earlier date (Fasciculi Zizantorum, p. 449 ; Tyler, Life of Henry V, ii. 373). That a widespread lollard conspiracy was presently on foot, and that the fugitive Oldcastle was engaged in it, cannot be seriously doubted, though the evidence is imperfect, and their treason is perhaps painted Blacker than it was. The official indictment afterwards charged them with plotting the death of the king and his brothers, with the prelates and other magnates of the realm, the transference of the religious to secular employments, the spoliation and destruction of all cathedrals, churches, and monasteries, and the elevation of Oldcastle to the position of regent of the kingdom (Rot. Parl. iv. 108). A plan was laid to get possession of the king at his quiet manor of Eltham under cover of a 'mommynge' on the day of the Epiphany, 6 Jan. (Gesta Hen. p. 4 ; Gregory, p. 108). But it was detected or betrayed beforehand, and Henry removed to Westminster. News had reached him that twenty thousand armed lollards from all parts of the kingdom were to meet in the fields near St. Giles's Hospital on the western road out of London, and little more than a mile from the palace, on Wednesday the 10th (Rot. Parl. iv. 108 ; Gesta Hen. p. 4). The night before the king ordered the city gates to be closed, thus cutting off the London lollards from those who would presently be flocking from the country into St. Giles's Fields, and drew up his force either in the fields themselves, or, as the mention of Fickett's Field, now Lincoln's Inn Fields, may seem to imply, between St. Giles and the city (Elmham, Vita, p. 31 ; the editor of the 'Liber Metricus' is probably wrong in translating 'In Lanacri luce' (p. 97) by 'In Longacre.' It occurs in the passage relating the Eltham attempt, and the glossator renders it 'in festo Epiphaniæ'). The darkness, which caused several bodies of lollards to take the royal force for their friends, and the absence of the London contingent, which no doubt would have been the largest of all, made the task of dispersing a force which was never allowed to consolidate itself an easy and almost a bloodless one (Walsingham, ii. 298). The greater part, perhaps, heard of what was happening in time to turn and hasten homewards. Many, however, were taken prisoners, and at once brought to trial, but Oldcastle was not among them.

Oldcastle had been lying concealed in London since his escape from the Tower. The day after the collapse of the rising (II Jan.) a thousand marks was offered by proclamation to any one who should succeea in arresting Oldcastle. If the capture were effected by a corporate community, it should be granted perpetual exemption from taxation (Fœdera, ix. 89; Bale, ed. 1729, App. p. 143). Redman (p. 17), who wrote under Heniy VIII, says villeins were promised their liberty if they took him ; but there is no such promise in this proclamation. At all events the loyalty of his lollard friends was proof against the temptation, and he remained at large for nearly four years. He was summoned in five county courts at Brentford to give himself up, and as he did not appear was (1 July) formally outlawed {Rot. Parl. iv. 108). He took refuge in the first place, it would seem, in his own county, for in 1415 he was lurking near Malvern, and a premature report of the king's departure to 'ranee emboldened him to send word to Richard Beauchamp, lord Bergavenny, at the neighbouring Hanley Castle, that he intended to have revenge upon him for the injuries he had suffered at his hands. On receiving this notification Bergavenny hastily collected nearly five thousand men from his estates, and tried to hunt Oldcastle down. He escaped, but some of his followers were taken, and torture elicited from them information as to the place where Oldcastle kept his arms and money in the hollow of a double wall. His standard and banner, on which were depicted the cup and the host in the form of bread, were found with the rest. The news of the failure of Scrope's conspiracy in July 1415 compelled him to lie in strict concealment again (Walsingham, ii. 306). It was at this time that Hoccleve wrote his appeal to Oldcastle to abandon his lollard errors [see below]. When the impression made by Agincourt had lost its first freshness, the lollards began to move again. An alleged plot against the king's life when he was at Kenilworth at Christmas 1416 was ascribed to a follower of Oldcastle, and fresh proclamations were immediately issued for the arrest of the 'Lollardus Lollardorum' (Ramsay, i. 254 ; Kalendars and Inventories, ii. 102). He was believed to have been deeply engaged in intriques with the Scots. His 'clerk and chief counsellor,' Thomas Payne, a Welshman from Glamorganshire, was thrown into prison on a charge of arranging an escape of King James from Windsor, and Oldcastle himself was credited with instigating the attack which the Duke of Albany and the Earl of Douglas made upon Berwick and Roxburgh in October during the king's absence in France (Ramsay, i. 254-5). Walsingham (ii. 325) asserts that this was arranged in an interview between William Douglas and Oldcastle at Pontefract, and that he urged the Scots to send the pseudo-king Richard into England. Otterboume adds (ii. 278) that indentures to this effect between Albany and the lollard leader fell into the hands of the government. If the former writer may be trusted, he lay concealed for some time in the house of a villein at St. Albans. His presence was at length discovered, and the house surrounded by the abbot's servants. They found the bird flown, but seized some of his friends and books, in which the images and names of the saints and of the Virgin had been carefully erased. This may be doubtful, at least as to the time assigned, for local tradition declares that he had been in hiding for a twelvemonth or more in the Welsh marches among the hills between the upper Severn and the Vymwy. A secluded spot on Moel-y-sant, overlooking the latter river near Meifod, and on the Trefedrid estate, is still known as Cobham's Garden. But his refuge became known to his enemies, and towards the close of this year (1417) he was surprised by a number of the followers of Sir Edward Charlton, fifth lord Charlton of Powis [q. v.], one of the chief lords-marcher, headed by the brothers Ieuan ab Gruffydd and Grunydd Vychan of Garth, near Welshpool. The scene of the encounter lay in the hilly district of Broniarth, between Garth and Meifod, and still bears the traditional name of Cae'r Barwn (Baron's field). Oldcastle was only taken after a desperate resistance, in which several on both sides were injured or slain and he himself sorely wounded (Chron. ed, Davies, p. 46). In one version of the story a woman is said to have broken his leg with a stool as he struggled with his assailants (Liber Metricus, p. 158). His injuries were so serious that when an order of the regent Bedford (dated 1 Dec.) reached Welshpool or Powis castle, whither he had been taken, that he should be brought up to London at once, he had to make the journey in a 'whirlicote' or horse-litter (Bale, ed. 1729, p. 144; Tyler, ii. 391). Sir John Grey, son-in-law of the lord of Powis, conveyed him safely to the capital. No time was lost in bringing him before parliament on 14 Dec, when he was summarily condemned as an outlawed traitor and convicted heretic. Walsingham says he first implored his judges to temper justice with mercy, and afterwards denied their jurisdiction on the ground that King Richard still lived in Scotland ; but the official record says nothing of any protest, and none would have availed him. He was taken back to the Tower in the 'whirlicote,' and drawn thence the same day on a hurdle to the new lollard gallows at St. Giles's Fields, where he was 'hung and burnt hanging' {Rot. Parl. iv. 108). It is generally supposed that he was suspended horizontally in chains and burnt alive, but the statements of the authorities are conconsistent with his having been hung first and afterwards burnt. The lord of Powis received the thanks of parliament, but the payment of the reward had not been completed when he died in 1421 (ib. iv. Ill; Tyler, ii. 391; Archæologia Cambrensis, 1st ser. i. 47 ; Ellis, Letters, 2nd ser. i. 86).

Oldcastle was thrice married. By his first wife, Catherine, he had a son Henry, and three daughters—Catherine, Joan, and Maud —one of whom married a Kentish squire, Roger, son of that Richard Cliderowe who was parliamentary admiral in 1406 (Archæologia Cantiana, xi. 93; James, Poems, ed. Grosart, p. 187). His second wife, whose name is unknown, bore him no children. By Lady Cobham he had apparently one daughter who died young. His widow married before 1428 a fifth husband, Sir John Harpeden (d. 1458), and, dying in January 1434, was buried in Cobham Church, where a fine brass to her memory still remains (Archæologia Cantiana, u.s.; Hasted, Kent, iii. 429). His son, Henry Oldcastle, ultimately retained possession of the entailed Herefordshire estates of his father, and represented the county in parliament in 1437, 1442, and 1453 (Cat. of Patent Rolls, pp. 275, 277 ; Cal. Inquis. post mortem, iv. 124 ; Return of Members, i. 329, 333, 347). Almeley afterwards passed, through females, first to the Milbournes, and then, under Henry VII, to the Monningtons of Sarnesfield close by, who held it until 1670 (Robinson, Castles of Herefordshire, p. 5).

Until the heat of the battle, in which he was one of the first to fall, had passed away, a calm judgment of Oldcastle was hardly to be expected. His orthodox contemporaries, who had felt the ground trembling beneath them, could of course make no allowances for his violent language and his treason. The best of them, the churchmen, Walsingham, and the author of the' Gesta Henrici' not excluded, did full justice to the knightly prowess and the uprightness which had commended him to young Prince Henry, but his heresy they could not pardon. Hoccleve, in the balade which he wrote at Southampton in August 1415, on the eve of Henry's setting sail for France, entreated him to abandon a position where

No man with thee holdith
Sauf cursid caitiffs, heires of darknesse:
For verray routhe of vheo myn herte coldith.

This poem has been recently twice printed: by Dr. Grosart in 1880, in his 'Poems' of Richard James [q. v.], who prepared an annotated edition of it about 1625 ; and by Miss Toulmin Smith from the unique manuscript (Phillipps, 8151) in' Anglia' (v. 9-42). The fierceness of the hatred Oldcastle aroused is best reflected in the verses of the prior of Lenton (Liber Metricus, pp. 82, 158; cf. Political Songs and Poems, ii. 244). He was popularly believed to have declared that he was Elijah, and that he would rise again on the third day. Capgrave charges him with denouncing civil property and marriage. With the rise of protestantism in the next century the tables were turned, and Bale, followed by Foxe, surpassed Elmham himself in their invectives upon the enemies of the 'blessed martyr of Christ, the good Lord Cobham.' But on the Elizabethan stage the old contempt of the heretic knight still lingered, and, on the strength of his friendship with Henry in his wild youth, he was pictured in Fuller's words as' a boon companion, a jovial royster, and yet a coward to boot. He appears in the anonymous 'Famous Victories of Henry V,' written before 1588, as a cynical comrade of the prince in his robberies; and Shakespeare, it seems clearly proved, elaborated the character into the fat knight of Henry IV, retaining the name in his first draft, and only substituting that of Falstaft in deference, so we learn on the authority of Richard James, writing about 1625, to the protests of the Lord Cobham of the time, and perhaps of the growing puritan party. This feeling was reflected in the old play, of which two editions were published in 1600, entitled 'The First Part of the True and Honourable Historie of Sir John Oldcastle, the good Lord Cobham,' attributed to Munday, Drayton, and two other hands, and also in John Weever's poem, 'The Mirror of Martyrs; or the Life and Death of Sir John Oldcastle,' which appeared in 1601, and was reprinted by Mr. H. H. Gibbs in 1873 for the Roxburghe Club. But 'Henry IV' seems to have been acted with the name of Oldcastle even after Shakespeare had made the change, and 'fat Sir John Oldcastle' makes an occasional appearance in the literature of the first half of the seventeenth century. In the eighteenth century the controversy between the supporters and opponents of divine right touched for a moment the career of the lollard martyr and rebel (Matthias Earbery, The Occasional Historian, 1730). In our own day Lord Tennyson has dealt with it in his 'Ballads and Poems,' November 1880.

Horace Walpole reckons Oldcastle as the first English 'noble author;' but the only foundation for this is Bale's mistaken ascription to him of the lollard articles of 1395 (Fasciculi Zizaniorum pp. 360-9).

[The official record of Oldcastie's trial, drawn up by Archbishop Arundel, has often been printed: in Blackbourne's Appendix to his edition of Bale's Chronycle, in Rymer's Fœdera (ix. 61–5), in Wilkins's Concilia (iii. 353–6), and, in its best form, in the edition of the Fasciculi Zizaniorum in the Rolls Series. Walsingham's Historia Anglicana, in the same series, contains an abridgment of it. It forms the basis of John Bale's Brefe Chronycle concernyne the Examinacyon and Death of the Blessed Martyr of Christ, Syr John Oldecastell, the Lorde Cobham. The first edition, printed in black letter, and in octavo, was published in 1544, probably at Marburg; another edition—according to Ames, the second—was printed at London apparently in 1560, also in black letter and octavo. It was reprinted by the nonjuring Bishop Blackbourne in 1729, in the Harleian Miscellany (in vol. ii. of the 1744 edit. from the 3rd edit. of the work, and in vol. i. of the 1808 edit. from the 1st edit.), and in vol. xxxvi. of the Parker Society's Publications (1849). In addition to Arundel's record, Bale also drew upon the Fasciculi Zizaniorum, and the Doctrinale Fidei contra Wiclevistas of Thomas Netter or Walden [q.v.] , and two sources vaguely described as Ex vetusto exemplari Londinensium and Ex utroque exemplari. He mentions a brief account by a friend of Oldcastle's, printed by Tyndale in 1530, of which no copy is now known to exist (cf. ‘Three Fifteenth-century Chronicles,’ p. 90). Foxe, in his Acts and Monuments of the Church (ed. Cattley, 1841), embodied Bale's narrative almost without change, and the special lives of Oldcastle which have appeared in this and the last century have been mainly based on Foxe. These are: 1. W. Gilpin's Lives of Wycliffe, Cobham, &c., 1765, which was several times reprinted. 2. Thomas Gaspey's Life and Times of the Good Lord Cobham, 2 vols. 12mo, 1843. 3. Andrew Morton Brown's Leader of the Lollards: his Times and Trials, 8vo, 1848. 4. C. E. Maurice's Lives of English Popular Leaders (1872, &c.), 8vo, vol. ii. To these may be added The Writings and Examinations of Walter Brute, Lord Cobham, &c., 8vo, 1831. The general authorities for Oldcastle's life are: Rotuli Parliamentorum; Ordinances of the Privy Council, ed. Nicolas; Rymer's Fœdera, original edit.; Calendars of Inquisitions post mortem and Patent Rolls, published by the Record Commission; Walsingham, Elmham's Liber Metricus and Redman's Historia Henrici V, in the Rolls Series; Elmham's Vita Henrici V (1727), and Otterbourne (1732), ed. Hearne; Gesta Henrici V, ed. English Historical Society; English Chronicle, 1377–1461, ed. Davies, and Three Fifteenth-century Chronicles, published by the Camden Society; Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, ed. Nichols; Montgomeryshire Collections (Powysland Club), vol. i.; Pauli's Geschichte Englands, vol. v.; Wylie's History of Henry IV; Ramsay's Lancaster and York. Other authorities in the text. For the literary history of Oldcastle, see Richard James's Iter Lancastrense, Chetham Soc. 1845 (Introd.), and his Poems, ed. Grosart, 1880; Fuller's Church History and Worthies of England, ed. 1811; Halliwell's Character of Falstaff, 1841; New Shakspere Society's Publications, 1879 (Ingleby's Centurie of Prayse); Gairdner and Spedding's Studies in English History, 1881; Anglia, v. 9.]

J. T-t.