Archive reference: MS Hunter 3, fol. 59. Special Collections, Glasgow University Library
Date: February 1569 (February 1570 in fact, see our Transcription Policy for more information on dating issues and why the original Old Style dating should read as February 1570)
Document details: Signed by Queen Elizabeth. Declaring pardon to those ordinary citizens who rose up in rebellion under the earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland during the Northern Rebellion of 1569.
Transcription policy: https://huntingrebels.wordpress.com/transcripts/
PDF edition of Modernised Transcript of fol. 59
1. Elizabeth R By the Queen
2. The Queen’s most excellent Majesty considering that the great and horrible conspiracies, treasons and rebellions lately
3. practised, attempted and with open action prosecuted in the north parts of Her Highness’ realm by the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland
4. and others their confederates, contrary to the commandment of Almighty God and their duties of allegiance to their natural and most undoubted
5. Sovereign Lady and Queen, and to the great disturbing of the common quiet and peace of the realm of England their native country,
6. be, by the great goodness of Almighty God, Her Majesty’s great providence and the faithful service of her true and loyal subjects, discovered
7. frustrated and utterly suppressed. And understanding by her right trusty and right well-beloved cousin the Earl of Sussex, Her Majesty’s Lieutenant
8. General of those north parts, that sundry of the meaner sort of such as did forcibly and rebelliously assist the said rebellious earls in their traitorous
9. attempts, have by the martial law suffered pains of death according to their just deserts, and to the terror and example of others. And that
10. great numbers of Her Majesty’s common people that were like offenders in that rebellion do earnestly repent and be grievously sorry for their heinous offences
11. past, and do bewail and lament their unhappy and miserable estate, and be fully persuaded and earnestly bent to be from henceforth faithful,
12. loyal and dutiful subjects to Her Majesty if it might please Her Highness of her royal clemency to grant to them their lives and her gracious pardon
13. for their offences past, and to receive them to her grace, in such sort as may best please Her Majesty. For the which they will acknowledge themselves bound
14. to Her Majesty as her true and natural subjects, and as persons that have received their lives and beings from Her Highness as the minister of Almighty God.
15. For the which they bound by double bond to serve Her Majesty faithfully and truly during the continuance of their lives to come, and to spend in her service
16. that which from her clemency they have received. Like as when Her Majesty lookith upon their grievous offences and detestable actions practised and
17. executed in this rebellion against Her Majesty, having never given to them or any other of her subjects (as is well known) any occasion to neglect
18. their duties in such sort as they have done, she is by their unnatural dealings moved to think every of them unworthy to receive any drop
19. of her mercy and grace. So her most excellent Majesty nevertheless laying a part that rigour, whereunto they have justly provoked her, and following
20. that natural inclination that she hath ever been disposed unto in showing of mercy, and hoping herewith upon report made to Her Highness
21. that the common sort of her subjects lately in this rebellion do indeed see how wickedly they have been seduced, and do know and repent
22. from the bottom of their harts their offences towards God and Her Majesty, and will from henceforth be faithful and true subjects to Her Majesty, doth by
23. this Her Majesty’s proclamation grant and give her free pardon of life to all and every such of her subjects within the counties of York, Durham
24. Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland, who neither hath at this present nor heretofore hath had any lands, tenements or hereditaments of any
25. estate of inheritance. And that they and every of them as above is said shall remain and continue without any arrest, vexation or disturbance to be
26. done by any of Her Majesty’s officers and ministers or any other person, to their bodies or goods. So that every such subject do repair to the said Earl of Sussex,
27. Her Majesty’s Lieutenant, and other Her Highness’ Commissioners appointed for those causes within forty days next after the publication hereof, and do
28. submit himself to all such orders and directions as by the said Commissioners shall be appointed. Whereupon every such subject shall receive a note
29. in writing under the hands of the said Lieutenant and other the said Commissioners, or three of them, testifying his submission which shall be a sufficient
30. warrant to the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England for passing of his pardon under the Great Seal without any further special
31. bill or warrant to be obtained for the same from Her Majesty. So as he do sew out the same within three months after the date of the
32. same note. Provided always that this Her Majesty’s pardon do not extend to any person now out of the realm, or in prison, or committed to the
33. custody of any person, or delivered upon bail, promise or other to appear at any day or time. Nor to any person that hath had (as above is said) any lands,
34. tenements or hereditaments of any estate of inheritance. Given at our honour of Hampton Court the xviiith day of February
35. in the year of our Lord God 1569. And in the twelfth year of our reign.
Commissioners: the official state investigators almost following the Northern Rebellion, the Commissioners were appointed to their positions
Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland: Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland (1528 – 1572) and Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmoreland (1542 – 1601) led the Northern Rebellion of 1569 alongside other minor nobles. Having fled into Scotland as the rebellion began to fail, Northumberland was captured and held prisoner first in Edinburgh and later at Loughleven Castle under William Douglas, Laird of Loughleven. In August 1572 he was handed over to the English and taken to York where he was beheaded as a traitor. He refused to renounce his Catholic faith. Westmoreland was slightly more fortunate. He managed to reach supportive Scottish lairds including Lord Ferniehurst and Lord Hume who were supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots who was herself held captive in England. He succeeded in taking ship to Flanders where he spent the remainder of his life in exile. See our pages on the Northern Rebellion for more on both Northumberland and Westmoreland as well as other prominent figures in the rebellion.
Earl of Sussex: Thomas Radcliff, 3rd Earl of Sussex (1525 -1583) was a prominent noble during Queen Elizabeth’s reign. He was appointed Lord President of the North in 1568 (hence his title of Lieutenant General of the northern parts of the realm in the proclamation). Upon the outbreak of the Northern Rebellion, Sussex was initially cautious in his response and spoke in defence of the northern earls, favouring a moderate approach. However in 1570 he led a force into the Borders of Scotland and raided the area around Dumfries. In 1572, in part perhaps because of his success as Lord President of the North, he was appointed Lord Chamberlain.
hereditaments: any item of property that can be passed on as inheritance
Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England: the Great Seal was used to symbolise royal approval of state documents. The most obvious duty of the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal was to keep and maintain the seal, but he also had various legal and ecclesiastical duties. Lord Keeper of the Great Seal was a distinguished and sought after position and at the time of our proclamations it was held by Sir Nicholas Bacon (1510 – 1579). Bacon was appointed to the position in 1558. He was the father of the philosopher and author Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626).
martial law: usually only enacted when the government or civilian authorities are unable to function effectively, martial law can also be used in terms of crisis or civil war. Here the martial law is invoked in response to the Northern Rebellion of 1569 in order to quickly deal with rebels who were captured. Martial law allows the execution of rebels without any need for a trial since they are found to be endangering the Queen’s life and by extension the safety of the realm. Effectively martial law is a convenient tool governments or authorities use to control the public and unfortunately can still be seen to be used by modern states around the world in times of civil war, coup d’états and even public protests in some cases.
minister of Almighty God: Elizabeth is referred to as the “minister of Almighty God” not just for dramatic effect. The Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland had declared that one of their aims was the restoration of Catholicism in England. Many Catholics refused to acknowledge Elizabeth as the head of the Church and thus by referring to Elizabeth as the “minister of Almighty God” the proclamation makes it clear that those pardoned men were now acknowledging her position as head of the Church.