Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 18.djvu/314

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Felton
308

Thames, on his journey to London, he was greeted with the cry ‘God bless thee, little David!’ When the fleet left Portsmouth the sailors and soldiers appealed to the king ‘to be good to John Felton, their once fellow-soldier.’ At Oxford his health was drunk repeatedly. Alexander Gill was summoned before the Star-chamber for following the practice; while numberless poems and ballads described him as a national benefactor. At first the government thought to implicate the parliamentary opposition in Felton's crime, but, although he insisted that the ‘remonstrance’ was ‘his only confederate and setter-on,’ it became clear that he had no political associates. Puritan preachers visited him, and the Earl and Countess of Arundel with Lord Maltravers saw him before his trial. The king suggested on 13 Nov. that he should be racked, but the judges declared that torture was illegal, and the proposal dropped, although Laud and Dorset had supported it. On 27 Nov. Felton was tried in the court of king's bench, pleaded guilty to the fact, and was hanged at Tyburn on the next day. His body was afterwards removed to Portsmouth, and there hung in chains. Epitaphs, in which Felton was liberally eulogised, abounded. One poem by Zouch Townley, ‘to his confined friend Mr. Felton,’ protests against the threat of torture. A collection of these poems was made by F. W. Fairholt in 1850, and published by the Percy Society. A rare print, ‘The lively portraiture of Iohn Felton, who most miserably kild the right Honoble George Villeirs, duke of Buckingham, August ye 23 1628,’ is in the Bodleian Library. A worthless print of the assassination was reissued in 1822. A double-bladed knife at Newnham Paddox, Warwickshire, the seat of the Earl of Denbigh, is stated to be the weapon used by Felton (the first Countess of Denbigh was Buckingham's sister). The paper pinned in his hat came into the possession, through Sir Edward Nicholas, of John Evelyn, and, with other Evelyn papers, was some years ago the property of William Upcott of the London Institution. Sources

The best contemporary account of Buckingham's murder is Dudley Carleton's letter to the queen, sent on the day of the occurrence, see Ellis's Orig. Letters, 1st ser. iii. 256. Clarendon's version adds some details, but is not at all points correct. See also Howell's Epistolæ; Wotton's Life of Buckingham; Gent. Mag. 1845, ii. 137–44 (with portrait of Felton); State Trials, iii. 367–72; Fairholt's Poems and Songs relating to Buckingham and his assassination (Percy Soc.), 1850; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1628–9; Diary of John Rous (Camd. Soc.); Suffolk Institute of Archæology, iv. 14–64 (Playford and the Feltons); Forster's Life of Sir John Eliot; Gardiner's Hist. of England, vol. vi.

S. L.

FELTON, NICHOLAS (1556–1626), bishop of Ely, son of a seafaring man, who, ‘by God's blessing and his own industry, had attained a competent estate,’ was born at Yarmouth in Norfolk in 1556. He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, of which he was chosen fellow 27 Nov. 1583. He became B.A. in 1580–1, M.A. in 1584, B.D. in 1591, and D.D. 1602. He was chosen Greek lecturer of his college in 1586. Felton acquired a high character as a scholar and theologian by his wide erudition, moderation, and sound judgment. He was brought under the notice of Whitgift, by whom, 17 Jan. 1595–6, he was collated to the rectory of St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, which he held till his consecration as bishop of Bristol in 1617, obtaining great celebrity as a learned and edifying preacher. He also held at various times the rectories of St. Antholin, Budge Row, Blagdon in Somerset, and Easton Magna, Essex, to which last benefice he was appointed 23 Oct. 1616. He also received the prebendal stall of Chamberlainswood in St. Paul's Cathedral, 4 March 1616, and held it in commendam with his impoverished bishopric till his translation to Ely. When in 1612 there was a prospect of a vacancy of the mastership of Pembroke College, then held by Harsnet, bishop of Chichester and afterwards archbishop of York, Andrewes, then bishop of Ely, used his powerful influence in favour of his ‘most worthy, upright, and learned friend,’ as one likely to ‘heal the dissensions then long prevailing, and prove a good head to a good house else likely to sink’ (RUSSELL, Life of Andrewes, p. 354).

Harsnet continued to hold the mastership for five years longer, and Felton, to the great joy of all well-wishers of the college, was elected his successor, 4 March 1616–17, holding it with the bishopric of Bristol till his translation to Ely, 1618–19. Felton secured the favour of James I, who, Andrewes writes, ‘signifies his good liking of him, and his wishes for his preferment.’ Royal wishes in that age differed little from royal commands, and Felton was speedily raised to the episcopate, being consecrated bishop of Bristol by Archbishop Abbot, his friend Andrewes assisting, 14 Dec. 1617. Andrewes, on his translation to Winchester, had the satisfaction of seeing his place filled by his trusted friend, who was elected his successor 2 March 1618–19. Felton, a few months previous, had been nominated to the see of Lichfield, on Bishop Morton's translation to Durham. The college