Internet Shakespeare Editions

Authors: Anonymous, Michael Drayton, Richard Hathway, Antony Munday, William Shakespeare, Robert Wilson
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

The History of Sir John Oldcastle (Folio 3, 1664)

The History of Sir John Oldcastle,
M. Mayor of Hereford M. Sheriff o'th'Shire,
85Commit Lord Powess to safe custody,
To answer the disturbance of the peace,
Lord Herberts peril, and his high contempt
Of us, and you the Kings Commissioners,
See it be done with care and diligence.
90Sher. Please it your Lordship, my Lord Powess is gone
Past all recovery.
2. Jud. Yet let search be made,
To apprehend his followers that are left.
Sher. These are some of them: sirs, lay hold of them.
95Owen. Of us? and why? what has her done I pray you?
Sher. Disarme them, Bailiffs.
May. Officers assist.
Davy. Hear you, Lord Shudge, what resson for this?
Owen. Cossoon, pe puse for fighting for our Lord?
1001. Jud. Away with them.
Davy. Harg you my Lord.
Owen. Gough my Lord Herberts man's a shitten kanave.
Davy. Ice live and tye in good quarrel.
Owen. Pray you do shustice, let awl be prison.
105Davy. Prison, no,
Lord Shudge, I wool give you pale, good surety.
2. Jud. What bail? what sureties?
Davy. Her Cozen ap Rice, ap Evan, ap Morice, ap
Morgan, ap Lluellyn, ap Madoc, ap Meredith, ap Griffin,
110ap Davy, ap Owen, ap Shinken Shones.
2. Jud. Two of the most sufficient are enow.
Sher. And't please your Lordship these are all but one.
1. Jud. To Jayl with them, & the Lord Herberts men,
We'll talk with them, when the Assize is done.Exeunt.
115Riotous, audacious, and unruly Grooms,
Must we be forced to come from the Bench,
To quiet brawls, which every Constable
In other civil places can suppresse?
2. Jud. What was the quarrel that caus'd all this stir?
120Sher. About Religion as I heard, my Lord.
Lord Powess detracted from the power of Rome,
Affirming Wickliffs Doctrine to be true,
And Romes erroneus: hot reply was made
By the Lord Herbert, they were Traitors all
125That would maintain it. Powess answered,
They were as true, as noble, and as wise
As he, that would defend it with their lives,
He nam'd for instance Sir John Oldcastle
The Lord Cobham: Herbert replyed again,
130He, thou, and all are Traitors that so hold.
The lye was given, the several Factions drawn,
And so enrag'd, that we could not appease it.
1. Jud.This case concerns the Kings Prerogative,
And 'tis dangerous to the State and Common-wealth.
135Gentlemen, Justices, M. Mayor, and M. Sheriff,
It doth behoove us all, and each of us
In general and particular, to have care
For the suppressing of all mutinies,
And all assemblies, except souldiers musters,
140For the Kings preparation into France.
We hear of secret Conventicles made,
And there is doubt of some Conspiracies,
Which may break out into rebellious armes
When the King's gone, perchance before he go:
145Note as an instance, this one perillous fray,
What factions might have grown on either part,
To the destruction of the King and Realme:
Yet, in my conscience, Sir John Oldcastle's
Innocent of it, onely his name was us'd.
150We therefore from his Highnesse give this charge:
You Master Mayor, look to your Citizens,
You Master Sheriff, unto your Shire, and you
As Justices in every ones precinct
There be no meetings. When the vulgar sort
155Sit on their Ale-bench, with their cups and cans,
Matters of State be not their common talk,
Nor pure Religion by their lips prophan'd.
Let us return unto the Bench again,
And there examine further of this fray.
160Enter a Bailiff and a Serjeant.
Sher. Sirs, have ye taken the Lord Powess yet?
Bail. No, nor heard of him.
Ser. No, he's gone far enough.
2. Jud. They that are left behind, shall answer all.
Enter Suffolk, Bishop of Rochester, M. But-
ler, Sir John the Parson of Wrotham.

Suf. Now, my Lord Bishop, take free liberty
To speak your mind; What is your suit to us?
170Bish. My noble Lord, no more then what you know,
And have been oftentimes invested with:
Grievous complaints have past between the lips
Of envious persons to upbraid the Clergy,
Some carping at the livings which we have;
175And others spurning at the Ceremonies
That are of ancient custome in the Church.
Amongst the which, Lord Cobham is a chief:
What inconvenience may proceed hereof,
Both to the King, and to the Common-wealth,
180May easily be discern'd, when like a frensie
This innovation shall possesse their minds.
These upstarts will have followers to uphold
Their damn'd opinion, more than Harry shall,
To undergo his quarrel 'gainst the French.
185Suf.What proof is there against them to be had,
That what you say the Law may justifie?
Bish. They give themselves the names of Protestants,
And meet in fields and solitary groves.
S. Joh. Was ever heard (my Lord) the like till now?
190That thieves and rebels, sbloud hereticks,
Plain hereticks, I'le stand to't to their teeth,
Should have to colour their vile practises,
A Title of such worth, as Protestant?
Enter one with a Letter.
195Suf. O but you must not swear, it ill becomes
One of your coat, to rap out bloudy oaths.
Bish. Pardon him, good my Lord, it is his zeal,
An honest country Prelate, who laments
To see such foul disorder in the Church.
200S. Joh. There's one they call him Sir John Oldcastle,
He has not his name for nought: for like a Castle
Doth he encompasse them wilhin his walls,
But till that castle be subverted quite,
We ne're shall be at quiet in the Realme.
205Bish. This is our suit (my Lord) that he be tane
And brought in question for his heresie:
Beside, two Letters brought me out of Wales,
Wherein my Lord Hertford writes to me,
What tumult and sedition was begun,
210About the Lord Cobham, at the Sizes there,
For they had much adoe to calme the rage,
And that the valiant Herbert is there slain.
Suf. A fire that must be quencht. Well, say no more,
The King anon goes to the Council Chamber,