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He was a
in his appearance, of a just and honest disposition, incapable either of doing bad things, or of seeing them done without exposing them. nobleman whose courage no danger could daunt, whose fidelity no temptation could impeach, much less corrupt.” Another tells us that his fidelity was impregnable; and Naunton says, he was a good, honest, and brave man. Under Elizabeth he held three of the greatest offices in the kingdom--Earl Marshal of England, High Steward of the Household, and Lord High Admiral of England; and in addition, a Privy Councillor, and Knight of the Garter. So high did he stand in the Queen's confidence, that in 1600, when a serious alarm took place in the public mind, she appointed the Earl of Nottingham Lord Lieutenant
General of all England, with the sole and supreme command of both fleet and army, which caused him to be sometimes with the fleet in the Downs, and sometimes on shore with the army.
He was twice married : first to a daughter of Lord Hunsdon, by whom he had William, who died in his father's life-time, and Charles, who succeeded to his estate and honours; he had, besides, three daughters. By his second marriage with the daughter of James Stuart, Earl of Murray, he had also two sons, James, who died young, and Charles, who succeeded his half-brother of the same name to the Earldom of Nottingham.
CAPTAIN THOMAS FENNER.
1588 To 1600.
It is not a little remarkable that this gallant naval officer, who appears to have seen more service and to have been employed in more expeditions than almost
other naval officer during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, should never have had the command of a fleet or squadron conferred on him; and the more extraordinary, as he had the good fortune to serve under almost every great sea officer of her Majesty's navy, and was highly spoken of by all. The Lord High Admiral generally includes him, by name, in his reports to the Queen, as one among those whom the nation highly esteems, Drake, Frobisher, Hawkins. Neither do we meet with his name, except incidentally, as being in command of a ship of war attached to some expedition; and what is most extraordinary of all, neither does the name of Fenner occur in any biographical shape; who, or in what condition of life his parents were; where they resided; what was his education; or, in short, in what line of life he was brought up. Even Fuller cannot afford him a niche in his temple
of worthies. The name and services of such a man are too valuable to be overlooked.
The Fenners, however, would appear to have been a family belonging to, or connected with, naval concerns, as we find from a trading voyage to Guinea and the Azores, about the year 1566, described by Hakluyt, that the admiral was George Fenner, and the vice-admiral Edward Fenner. Lancaster also, in the year 1594, fell in with a George Venner (Fenner), in command of a small squadron, who assisted him in the capture of Fernanbuco; and, moreover, we have no fewer than three brothers, each commanding a ship of war, in the fleet employed against the Spanish Armada—Thomas Fenner, in the Nonpareil; Edward Fenner, in the Swiftsure; and William Fenner, in the Aid. But, before this, Thomas was captain to Sir Francis Drake in the Elizabeth Bonaventure, on the West India voyage in 1585; and again accompanied Drake on his expedition to Cadiz in command of the Dreadnought. Of the result of this voyage we have, from the pen of Drake, a graphic description, chiefly of that portion of it which relates to the destruction of the ships of war and merchantmen, together with the preparations which had for some time been making for carrying into execution the plan of the invasion of England; the overthrow of which Drake laconically called “singeing the King of Spain's beard.” Drake, however, treats but slightly of the capture and destruction of the forts in the vicinity of Cape St. Vincent on his return : Fenner has supplied that defect in the following letter to Sir Francis Walsingham, the original MS. of which is in the State Paper Office* :THOMAS FENNER TO Sir F. WALSYNGHAM.
1587, May 17th. Sythence my laste letters of the accidentes at Cales, some exploytes which hath happened in her Majestie's sarvice by our Generall and army, I thinke it my duetie to laie them downe as neare as God will geve me grace and favour in
The second of Maye, some 15 leagues from Cape St. Vincent, a flyboote of Dunkyrke of 150 tunnes, her lading being Spanishe goodes from fflaunders, and as I gesse of some good importaunce, I gather about ten thowsand powndes, and one other flybott laden with tymber sowld to the Spanyardes, of 140 tunnes, taken.
The 4th of Maye we drewe into the baie of Sawgust, where, in a sandy bay somwhat to the westwarde of the towne of Saugust, we landed about a thowsand men very early uppon the 5th of Maie, and so marched very neare three myles unto the towne as our march laye. There presented in sight of us divers troupes of horsemen, whearat nothing amazed, but allwayes bendinge uppon theire marche before theire ffortress with our whole bandes, within muskett shott, where we exchanged some shott, and by vewe and surveighing the place fownde it, as nowe they have made it, of greate streinght and very warrelykely flanked, so that they had in vewe of us nyne platformes and flankers furnished with nyne auncients; which considered, we thought it more meate uppon some pause, the place being surveighed, honorably and treatablie to departe than raishly to attempte the hazard of our companyes, carienge ourselves in that course of streinghte that we made no estimate of theire fforces; two of theire horses slaine and one of theire horsemen, and so spent in standes expecting theire values the most parte of that daie before we drewe abourd and bourden in good sorte without the losse of any one man.
eatest troupes, with curtezie, gave us passaige ; so as, before we cam unto the towne, they were above 400 horse, which semed brave but bad masters. They suffred us to
* Several MS. letters of Captain Thomas Fenner are to be found in the State Paper Office, from which copies of three, relating to three different services, will be introduced herein, as exhibiting his epistolary talent, by no means inferior to the common run of the Elizabethan period.
The fifte of Maye we drewe neare unto Cape Sacre, where we landed and marched towardes a castle with some companyes, some of our shippinge landing at a villaige some league to the eastward, wheare the houses and villaige weare presently fyred with some barks and botes. They of that castle made no longe abode, havinge in it sixe peeces of brasse, but fled unto another castle within one myle standing upon Cape Sacre, a place of greate streinght, but one way to come to it, with greate scope of grownd within it and fayer buyldinges, I gesse some hundred acres invironed with the sea, and a merveylous highe upright cliffe on three partes, the ffront only to approche which was about one hundred and eightie passes broade, with a walle batylmented of fortye fote of height, a gate in the myddest, a platforme at the corners and fower flanckes on every syde of the gate ; God styrred the mynde of the Generall and his company to approche it, and somoned, whose answeare was, as he (the General) was to assaulte in the behaulf of his ladye and mistress, he (the Spanish officer) was to deffend in the behaulf of his lord and master. Whereupon, the weightynes and honor of the cause considered, in that it was meete