Imágenes de página

When the reformed and more enlightened faith had established herself on the ruins of Popery, and State policy dictated a more severe vigilance towards sectaries than happily now is necessary, the Westons were frequently presented to the provincial authorities, and through them to the State Council, as recusants. Of this the following extract from an authentic original record, which I have seen, affords evidence in point:

"A certificate of the names of the Romish recusants convicted or justly suspected within the county of Surrey, from whose houses arms have been taken since, and upon the last day of October 1625, with the list of the said armes, and how the same are disposed.

"From the house of Sir Richard Weston at Sutton, a horseman's armour for a launce, with a French pistoll and a corslett, with a pike, and a sword, and a muskett, with a headpiece, a rest, and a worme, were taken by Edward Dyall, one of the High Constables of the hundred of Okinge (Woking), whereof the armour for the horseman is placed with Sir Edward Randall, Captaine of the Horse; but the corslett and muskett with Owen Brage, Captain of one of the foote bandes."

The south-east gallery at Sutton-place is at this day a popish chapel. This portion of the building was burnt down, owing to an excessively large fire being made in one of the chimneys at the time of Queen Elizabeth lodging there in 1591, on her way to Chichester.* It lay for more than a century in ruins, when it was rebuilt by John Weston, Esq. in 1721.

The approach to this portion of the building exhibits a most forlorn and melancholy contrast to what must have been its former appearance. The visitor gropes his way darkling up a spacious staircase, the walls of which are hnng with the portraits of the Westons, fast mouldering to decay. The wide and lofty windows which gave light to the staircase, have been stopped up, and damp and obscurity now reigns in this quarter of the mansion.

The termination of the staircase brings us to the Romish chapel.

Here I found on the Sabbath Day the altar duly decorated, while a subdued light was admitted to the apartment through the broad windows, broken into compartments by numerous mullions, and closely shaded by the interweaving tendrils and foliage of the ivy.

The priest was catechising half a dozen villagers' children; and, among other questions asked them, what authority there was for the sacrament of extreme unction? They answered that it was found in the 5th chapter of the General Epistle of St. James, "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." How often does error fortify itself by a term! Had the word custom, for such it really was of the primitive church, been substituted for sacrament, no scriptural truth would, I think, have been violated, as no immutable Divine decree, such a command as established Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord, would have been asserted.

I passed down the staircase into the court, thence into the park, in a mood of pensive regret at the fallen state of the seat of an old English family. As I proceeded towards the lodge, I observed the stream brought through the park by the ingenious agriculturist and engineer in water-works, Sir Richard Weston, in the time of Charles I.; the same whom we have seen denounced as a recusant, and his household armour for a man-at-arms torn from his wall. Aubrey quaintly describes him as the inventor of “tumbling bays and turnpikes for water." A modern turnpike or dam for water has really been formed in this stream, by the fine moulded bricks of one of the demolished gate towers; the remainder lie in a confused rubbish heap in an adjoining copse. Thus, to adopt the idea of our national Poet, "like the baseless fabric of a vision," the gorgeous palaces of the great dwindle to decay, and ultimately vanish from the A.J.K.


* See Aubrey, Manning and Bray.



By the Rev. Joseph Hunter.

THE critical history of English Science is a work still to be performed; and though much research has been employed in the inquiry after particulars in the lives of many of the distinguished persons of our country, it cannot be denied that there are many who ought to be remembered, of whom little or nothing is now known.

Amongst these I place JOHN FIELD, whose name does not occur in any biographical work, except the Athenæ Oxonienses of Wood, and there the notice of him, unlike the notices in general of that invaluable work, is short, imperfect, and erroneous. In any history of English Science he is not so much as named; not even by Sir Edward Sherburn, who has appended to his Translation of Manilius, 1675, "A Catalogue of the most eminent Astronomers, ancient and modern," containing notices of many Englishmen who were early engaged in the cultivation of Science, and among them are several names, the owners of which can hardly be said to have a right to be more conspicuous, than the man whose work contains the first astronomical Tables published in England, calculated on the Copernican discoveries.

Wood says, without referring to any authority, that he was born at London. The time of his birth he seems disposed to carry back to the very beginning of the 16th century, supposing him to be a person of that name, who supplicated for a degree in Arts, in the University of Oxford, in 1519. Whether he was or was not born in London, I have no means of ascertaining. He himself made an entry of his marriage and issue at the Heralds' Visitation of Yorkshire in 1584 and 1585; but so little regard had he to handing down the place of his own birth, or of his father's residence, that he has not even made an entry of the name of his father, mother, or any relation beside his wife and children. And as to the time of his birth, unless there was better evidence, than that in 1519 some one named John Field supplicated for a degree, so early a date cannot be admitted, as his eldest son was aged only 22 in 1585; and the Preface to his first Ephemeris, which was published in 1556, is throughout written in the spirit and with the feeling of a young man new from his studies.

What could be his inducement to omit doing what almost every other person did who appeared at that Visitation, entering the name of at least his parents, if not of more remote ancestors, it is hard to form a plausible conjecture; especially as he was born of a father who had a right to coat-armour, the right being formally acknowledged by the Heralds in 1558, when they granted to him a crest, and confirmed to him the arms he had inherited; and as the circumstance that he had this grant and confirmation, shows that at one period of life he was not indifferent to the subjects of which the Heralds take cognizance. Hitherto, obscurity rests upon this part of his history. The best, and indeed the only probable chance of removing it, would be a perusal of the wills left by persons of the name about the time. Some few of them have been read for this purpose: but this source of biographical knowledge is of too difficult access. The only guide I at present possess to assist in future inquiries in this direction is, that he had relations of the name of Nowell, as he leaves something by his will "to my cousin Nowell and Christopher his son." What Nowells these were can only be conjectured. In the Heralds' College there is no account of the parties to whom the coat was granted, which was confirmed to him, viz.-Sable, a chevron between three wheat-sheaves Argent. Wood claims him for a member of the University of Oxford; and it is manifest, as well from his mathematical attainments, as the fluency and elegance of his Latin style, that he had the benefit of a regular education. It is clear, from what Wood says, when speaking of another John Field his contemporary, a divine and celebrated preacher, that there were about that time several

persons of the name connected with that University. Of all these, it would seem the most probable that he is the John Field who was admitted Fellow of Lincoln College in 1555. He can scarcely be the John Field who took the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1564; still less the John Field who took the same degree in 1570. Identity of name thus, even in those times, when names were in a much higher ratio to men, produces embarrassment and uncertainty. Wood says, that he removed to another University. Cambridge has not yet her Athenæ; but she has had diligent labourers: and the papers of Kennett, Baker, and Cole, contain a vast fund of information respecting the men who have studied within her walls. Yet I cannot find that any of them have found a place for Field.

He himself speaks with affection and respect of one tutor. The passage will be quoted immediately. Who that person was has not been discovered. It was some person versed in mathematical studies. But it could not well be Dee, who was never, as far as appears, a professed tutor of mathematics, who refused to undertake to teach them at Oxford, and who was too much absent from England at the time when Field was pursuing his studies, to be supposed to have had the direction of them. Field felt, however, the advantages which he had enjoyed under this tutor; and he thus gives expression at once to his grateful recollections, and to the enthusiasm which had been inspired into his mind for the prosecution of these studies.-Tanta est autem tamque admirabilis hujus artis voluptas, ut nunquam possim sane desinere, vel suavissimo hoc cibo humanitatis et scientiæ animum meum alere, vel immortales illi gratias agere, a quo primum hujus disciplinæ præceptis imbutus sum et instructus. Mei vero laboris et operæ hanc a te unam mercedem efflagito, has ut primitias studiorum meorum æquo animo feras; quibus plura propediem et majora adjiciam, si Deus mihi vitam suppeditaverit, et facultatem.

This is from the Preface to his astronomical work written in May 1556. He was then residing in London, as may be inferred from the date, “Londini, ex Museo nostro." Nothing is to be collected from that Preface respecting his manner of life; but we may collect from the volume to which it is prefixed, that he had then gained the acquaintance and friendship of Dr. John Dee, a man whose many and brilliant excellencies have been too much overlooked, and his eccentricities, and it may be his faults as well as his follies, placed too fully in the view of the world.

But it is time to attend to the work which Field himself calls the primitiæ of his studies.

It is a small quarto, without pagination, printed at London, by Thomas Marsh. There is a copy in the library at the British Museum. To understand the nature of it, we must take a hasty glance at the then state of astronomical science.

The Alphonsine Tables continued till the time of Copernicus, to be the basis in all astronomical calculations. That distinguished astronomer not only showed the errors of the system of the universe on which they were founded, but some particular errors. His work, which was published in the same year in which he died, appeared in 1543. Rheticus, a German astronomer, who had assisted Copernicus in his Observations, published Ephemerides according to the doctrine of Copernicus, calculated till 1551. Reinhold, another German astronomer, published his Tables of the Celestial Motions in 1551. The works of Copernicus and these his followers, excited attention among the mathematicians of the time; and especially Dee, who saw at once the necessity for the immediate adoption of the principle, and was strenuous for the diffusion of the new truth which opened to the view of the world.

In a short epistle which he prefixes to Field's work, he complains of the errors in the existing Ephemerides, and the neglect among his countrymen of the writings of Copernicus, Rheticus, and Reinholt. He says that he has on that account exhorted his friend John Field to take in hand the preparation of new Ephemerides, who had executed the task, and from whom there might be hoped similar works for future years, and something even more important than this. It is not improbable that Dee, who was much abroad in the interval

between 1543 and 1556, had there acquired his zeal for the new philosophy, and that he was the person who sent the books to his mathematical friends in England.

Field sets out with apprising the reader that the mistakes of those who followed the Alphonsine Tables, became every day more and more apparent; that he had perfected other Tables, not so much for the purpose of correcting the mistakes of his predecessors, as to testify the regard he had at once for that noble art, and for the persons who delighted themselves in it. Many, he says, are learned in this art, to whom rather than to me the labour should have devolved, on account of their superior authority and their better acquaintance with it; but since they are either unwilling, or unable through attention to other affairs, I have thought of undertaking this work, not that I might exalt myself, or set myself in this art before others, in which I know that my pretensions are small, but that I thought it better this obscurity should be removed even by my hand, rather than not at all. Wherefore, I have published this Ephemeris for the year 1557, following in it Copernicus and Erasmus Reinholt, whose writings are established and founded on true, sure, and plain demonstrations: stabilita sunt et fundata, veris certis ef sinceris demonstrationibus.

The full title of the work is this,

"EPHEMERIS anni 1557 currentis, juxta Copernici et Reinhaldi Canones fideliter per Joannem Feild, Anglum, supputata ac examinata ad meridianum Londinensem, qui occidentalior esse judicatur a Reinhaldo quam sit Regii Montis, per horam, i. scr. 50.

"Adjecta est enim brevis quædam Epistola Joannis Dee, qua vulgares istos Ephemeridum fictores merito reprehendit.

Tabella denique pro cœlesti Themate erigendo juxta modum vulgariter rationalem dictum, per eundem Joannem Feild confecta, Londinensis poli altitudine inserviens exactissime. Londini, M.D.LVI. Septembris xii."

This then was the first publication in which the Copernican system was made the basis of calculations for practical purposes by any English_mathematician; and there is reason to believe the first publication by any Englishman, in which the discoveries of Copernicus were noticed. The same author published in October 1558, similar Ephemerides for that and the two following years, calculated for the meridian of London, from the Tables of Reinholt. The copy in the Museum of this second work, to which other astronomical Tables are added, has no preface.

Field, however now forgotten, was thought by his contemporaries to have performed a not unimportant service. We have seen the testimony borne to him by Dee, then in the best and brightest period of his remarkable and varied life. Another mode in which his contemporaries bore testimony to his services, was somewhat peculiar, though not unprecedented. By patent, bearing date the 4th of September, 5th and 6th of Philip and Mary, A.D. 1558, which was just at the time when he had completed his larger collection of Ephemerides, the Clarencieux King at Arms, William Harvey, gave him to bear as a crest over his family arms what, in the language of Heraldry, would be described a dexter arm, habited Gules, issuing from clouds Proper, supporting an armillary sphere Or. There was meaning, if not poetry in this: a red right arm issuing from the clouds, and presenting a golden sphere, intimated the splendour of the Copernican discovery, a light from the heavens above.

Unfortunately Harvey's patent, from which some further particulars of the life, situation, studies, or character of Field at this period, might doubtless have been recovered, cannot now be found among the records of the Heralds. But the fact, that such a grant was made, and at the time which I have mentioned, is indisputable; for when in 1584-5, Field, as we shall afterwards show, appeared at the Visitation of Yorkshire then holden, he produced the patent, or sufficient proof of it, and an entry was made accordingly in the Herald's book, containing the business of that Visitation, now in the office. And this fact serves to identify the Field of that Visitation with the Field of whom

we have been speaking, without even the assistance of the will of the Yorkshire Field, which puts an end to all doubts, if doubt could be.

Some time about the date of this patent, he married. His wife was Jane Amyas, a daughter of John Amyas of Kent. I have looked in vain in the Kentish Visitations, and in the genealogical and topographical collections which have been made for that county, to discover any thing respecting this lady or her family. Yet she must have been connected with some of the principal people of that county. Mr. Field became bound at the time of his marriage, to John Franklyn, of Little Chart in Kent, esq. the head of a family extensively connected among the gentry of that county, in two or three hundred pounds (thus the words of his will run), that he would leave his wife 1001. in money and goods.

From the time of his marriage to 1584, we hear scarcely any thing of him; but in 1584-5, he answered the summons of the Heralds Flower and Glover, who in those years visited the county of York, when he gave account of his right to arms and crest, of his marriage, and of his issue, with the other gentlemen of the county. His issue was eight sons and one daughter; and his residence at Ardsley or Ardslowe, a village of the wapentake of Morley, situated about four miles north of the town of Wakefield, on the public road to Bradford.

It is an important point in such an inquiry as this, to determine how it happened that he, "a Londoner born," according to Wood, educated in the English Universities, married in Kent, and not without reputation and friends in the world of science, should be found residing in this remote and obscure situation and the difficulty is increased, when it is added that we do not find him inheriting lands in that place, and that thus he might be induced to settle there. The lands of Ardsley were at that period for the most part the possessions of the coheirs of Sir John Constable of Kinalton in Nottinghamshire, and Jane his wife, one of the coheirs of Henry Sothill, by Jane, daughter of Sir Richard Empson; and as Field can have settled at Ardsley only in some connection with those lands, and as he describes himself in his will as "fermor," that is, renter, and indeed speaks of his “farm-hold," the most probable conjecture that can now be formed is, that he was the tenant to those coheirs, of their lands of Ardsley; and perhaps, what we might now call a scientific practical agriculturist, like his friend John Francklyn of Chart, who is said by Barnaby Googe, in his Whole Art and Trade of Husbandry, 4to, 1614, p. 136, to have been in his life-time" a skilful husband and a good housekeeper."

At what time Field became settled at Ardsley, I have not ascertained; the earliest date at which I find him there being 1577, when there was a general survey of the lands in Yorkshire belonging to the Duchy of Lancaster, the returns being made by juries, and the name of Field appearing among the jurors for the wapentake of Morley. The next in 1584, on the occasion already mentioned. There, as we shall soon see, he died and was buried.

No research has been able to discover that he published any astronomical work, or indeed any other work, after his second volume of Ephemerides, when he was living in London. The ardour of his youth, when he professed so much zeal for these studies, and when more was expected from him, may have cooled, or may have yielded to the necessity which his numerous family created, of cultivating a soil more grateful and more productive than the barren sky. In the country in which he placed himself he would not be, however, entirely without congenial minds. Ardsley not being a regularly ordained vicarage, we have no close catalogue of incumbents, to show us who in his time was the incumbent of that living. But Saxton, who made the maps of England, was of a family at Dunningly, a short distance from Ardsley; Allott, who was a supervisor to his will, was a nephew of Armigael Waad, an early navigator: there were the Saviles at Bradley, at no great distance; and Briggs was born about 1560, at Warley-Wood, in the neighbouring parish of Halifax. The five friends who in those parts of Yorkshire and the southern part of Lancashire,

« AnteriorContinuar »