Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Squire, Edward

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628713Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 53 — Squire, Edward1898Albert Frederick Pollard

SQUIRE, EDWARD (d. 1598), alleged conspirator, originally followed the calling of a scrivener at Greenwich, where he married and had children. He then obtained a post in Queen Elizabeth's stables, but, being ‘a man of wit above his vocation,’ gave up his position to become a sailor. In August 1595 he started with Drake on his last voyage to the West Indies, being on board the Francis, a small barque. Late in October the Francis separated from the rest of the fleet off Guadeloupe, and was captured by five Spanish ships. Squire was taken prisoner to Seville in Spain, where, having been released on parole, he seems to have formed a plan for discovering jesuit secrets by a pretended conversion. By his attacks on the Roman catholics he got himself imprisoned, and then sent for Richard Walpole, a brother of Henry Walpole [q. v.], and ‘a kind of vicar-general to Parsons.’ Walpole, finding Squire ‘a man of more than ordinary sense and capacity for his quality and education,’ is said to have instigated him to assassinate the Earl of Essex and Queen Elizabeth. In order to disarm suspicion, a pretext was found for having Squire tried as a protestant by the inquisition. The design was the fantastic one of poisoning the pommel of the queen's saddle, for which Squire's previous experience in the royal stables afforded him exceptional facilities. Soon afterwards Squire was exchanged for some Spanish prisoners, and he arrived in England in June 1597. Late in that month he is said to have rubbed on the pommel of the queen's saddle some of the poison with which Walpole had supplied him, but naturally without any result. A week or so later Squire, partly to escape detection and partly to make an attempt on Essex's life, embarked on the earl's fleet then about to set out on the Islands voyage. Between Fayal and St. Michael's he rubbed some poison on Essex's chair with equal lack of success [see Devereux, Robert, second Earl of Essex]. Soon afterwards either Squire himself or the jesuits, believing that Squire had played them false, informed the English government of these designs. Early in the autumn of 1598 Squire was arrested, and on 9 Nov. he was indicted for high treason. Repeated examinations by Bacon and others produced varying results; at first he denied all knowledge of the plot; then he confessed both Walpole's machinations and his own attempts; subsequently he retracted the admission of his own misdeeds, but finally he repeated his confession, probably under torture, notwithstanding the official statement that it was made ‘without any rigour in the world.’ He was condemned and on 23 Nov. was ‘hanged, bowelled, and quartered’ at Tyburn, repudiating his former confessions (Stow, p. 787). A special order of prayer and thanksgiving was issued to celebrate the queen's escape (printed in Liturgical Services of Queen Elizabeth, Parker Society, p. 681).

Squire's alleged treason was the subject of a literary war between the government and Roman catholic apologists, and their respective versions differ in almost every detail, the latter being perhaps the less incredible of the two (see Lingard, vol. vi. app. note BBB). The official account, attributed by Spedding to Bacon and printed among his works (Letters and Life, ii. 109–19), was certainly written by one who was either present at Squire's examinations or had access to the official documents, which it closely follows (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1598, pp. 108–112). It is dated 23 Dec. 1598 (cf. Chamberlain, Letters, p. 47), and was published as a ‘Letter written out of England to an English Gentleman remaining at Padua, containing a true report of a strange conspiracie contrived betweene Edward Squire … and Richard Walpole,’ London, 1599, 8vo (British Museum). It was reprinted in Bishop George Carleton's ‘Thankfull Remembrance,’ 1624; and again, in 1733, as ‘Authentic Memoirs of Father Richard Walpole,’ London, 1733, 8vo (for other pamphlets taking the same view see Brit. Mus. Cat. s.v. ‘E.O.’ [see Sutcliffe, Matthew], and A Defense of the Catholyke Cause, 1602, Pref. p. 2). A reply to the official story (attributed to Walpole) appeared as ‘The Discoverie and Confutation of a Tragicall Fiction devysed and played by Edward Squyer, yeoman soldiar … wherein the argument and fable is that he should be sent out of Spain … but the meaning and moralization thereof was to make odious the Iesuites, and by them all catholiques. Written … by M. A. Preest, that knew and dealt with Squyer in Spain,’ 1599, sm. 8vo (the only copy known to be extant is in the Huth Library). Another reply, ‘A Defence of the Catholyke Cause,’ was composed the same year by Thomas Fitzherbert [q. v.], but not printed until 1602 (St. Omer, 8vo).

[Works mentioned above in the Brit. Mus. Libr.; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1598, passim; Chamberlain's Letters (Camden Soc.), pp. 26, 28–9, 47; Speed's Historie, pp. 1163–5; Camden's Elizabeth; Stow's Annals, p. 787; Baker's Chron. p. 101; Foulis's Romish Treasons, p. 465; Foley's Collections, ii. 228–53; Spedding's Bacon; Lingard's Hist. vi. 285, 364–5; Jessopp's One Generation of a Norfolk House, pp. 262–9; Hazlitt's Bibl. Collections, passim; Cat. Huth Libr. iv. 1391.]

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