G. C. Moore Smith (ed.), The Letters of Dorothy Osborne to William Temple

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John and Henry Molle(Letter 10, note 9)

'Cousin Molle', i.e. Henry Molle, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, is a well-defined figure in Dorothy Osborne's letters. The following table shows that her relationship both to Molle and the Chekes (Tom Cheke, Mrs. Franklin, &c.) was rather remote, though there was a double connexion between the families.

It will be seen that Henry Molle was first cousin to Robin and Tom Cheke, the Countess of Manchester and Mrs. Franklin, but he and they were only third cousins of Dorothy's father, Sir Peter Osborne. Sir Thomas Cheke's first marriage to Dorothy's greataunt was without issue. But Dorothy seems to have looked on Sir Thomas as her great-uncle, and on his children by his second wife as her father's first cousins. The pedigree throws some new light on the tragic history of John Molle, Henry's father.

Born, as Fuller tells us on Henry Molle's authority, at or near South Molton, in Devonshire, John Molle (or Mole) spent his early life in the public service. The State Papers Domestic, Eliz. vol. ccxxxix, show him on 5 June 1591 in service under Sir Thomas Sherley, Treasurer at War. On 26 Sept. 1593 he was serving in Brittany as vice-treasurer and was paid off for £600 (vol. ccxlv). On 26 March 1595, as Sherley's deputy, he has given a receipt for money for soldiers serving against Brest and not expended. On pg 301

pg 30228 March 1597, as paymaster of the forces in Picardy, he has had to raise money in Rouen. On 27 April he writes to Lord Burleigh that he is in fear of being arrested by the merchants for the debt (vol. cclxii), and still more urgently on 5 June (vol. cclxiii). On 31 Aug. 1597, Secretary Cecil writes to Arthur Savage, in command before Amiens: 'From henceforward you shall have as paymaster Molle an honest and proper man' (vol. cclxiv). Fuller, who gives Molle's sad story in his Church History under the year 1607, writes: 'Being treasurer for Sir Thomas Shirley of the English army in Brittany, he was in the defeat of Cambray wounded, taken prisoner and ransomed.'

In 1598, Thomas, the new Lord Burleigh, afterwards Earl of Exeter, became President of the Council of the North. John Molle's wife was the Earl's first cousin once removed, and he gave Molle a post at York under the Council. Ten years later Molle took Lord Exeter's grandson Lord Roos1 and Lord St. John on a continental tour. Against his will he accompanied the young men to Rome, and was immediately arrested by order of the Inquisition. I take what follows from the account of Molle given by Mr. L. Pearsall Smith in Sir Henry Wotton's Life, vol. ii, p. 473. 'He was arrested, Donne wrote, owing to the fact that he had in some translations from the works of Duplessis-Mornay written of Babylon and Antichrist (Gosse's Life of Donne, i. 399), and Chamberlain sent the same news to Carleton. [Fuller says, 'because he had translated Du Plessis his book on "The Visibility of the Church", out of French into English.' The book in question, by Ph. de Mornay, Seigneur du Plessis-Marly, was A Treatise of the Church … Reviewed and Enlarged by the Author. Faithfully translated according to the last French copie. This bore on its title-page the text: 'Goe out of Babylon, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sinnes, and that ye receiue not of her plagues: For her sinnes by following one another haue reached up to heauen, and God hath remembred her iniquities.' The dedication to the King, signed 'John Molle', is followed by a Sonnet, 'made upon the Anagram of his Maiesties Names, Charles lames Stuart—Claimes Arthurs seat.'] Molle remained in prison thirty years, until his death in his eighty-first year, the Roman Catholics trying their famous controversialists on him, one after the other. His constancy aroused great admiration in the Protestant world, and one of Joseph Hall's pg 303epistles is addressed to him, "exciting him to his wonted constancy, and encouraging him to martyrdom." "The hearts of all good men are with you. Neither can that place be but full of angels, which is the continual object of so many prayers." [Bp. Hall eulogizes Molle after his death in his Free Prisoner, ed. 1646, pp. 135, 136.] His wife and large family, Hall says, were as firm as Molle himself (Epistles, Decades, v, vi, London, 1610, pp. 93–105). Wotton suggested many attempts to get Molle released by exchange or other methods (Life, &c., by L. Pearsall Smith, i. 442, 508; ii. 126, 256), and Lord Exeter induced Henry IV to write to the Pope for this purpose. On 22 Oct. 1608, Chamberlain wrote to Carleton, "There is great means used for Molle, Lord St. John's and Lord Roos' tutor, as well by the Spanish and Venetian Ambassadors as by the French King, which, if they prevail not, it is thought some priests shall fare the worse, and pay the reckoning" (Court and Times Jas. I, i. 77). On 3 Jan. 1610, John Pory wrote to Sir D. Carleton, "Mr. Mowle, my lord Rosse's tutor lies still at Soul Surgery in the Inquisition, the Pope answering the French King's letter, which my Lord of Exeter procured for Mowle's release, that he shall be dolce trattato and all means used for his conversion" (S. P. Dom. James I, lii, No. 1). On 10 Jan. 1618, Chamberlain wrote that Lord Exeter complained that the Spanish ambassador had not kept his promise to procure Mole's release (Cal. S. P. Dom. 1611–18, p. 512).'

Fuller writes, on the strength of a letter received from Mr. Henry Molle, his son: 'In all the time of his durance, he never heard from any friend, nor any from him, by word or letter: no Englishman being ever permitted to see him, save only one, viz. Mr. Walter Strickland, of Boynton House [near Bridlington] in Yorkshire.' Mr. Strickland's moving account of the interview was sent in 1889 to the late Mrs. Francis D. Longe (Judge Parry's 'fellow-servant') by Miss Emily Osborn from Chicksands Priory, and I give it from Mrs. Longe's copy, by the kindness of Miss Julia Longe. (For Walter Strickland's political activity after 1642, see the D.N.B. and the Alumni Cantabrigienses. He died 1670.)

June 16th 1636. Mr. Strickland his account of his having seen Mr. Molle in the Inquisition who had been there about 26 years, what passed between them:

Touching my seeing Mr. Molle at Rome, you may be pleased to tell Mrs. Molle & [?Mr. Dr.] Stanhope that my affectionate & infinite esteeme of Mr. Molle's worth made mee deligent in the endeavor which had not I think been attempted by others, & thee better to effect it it was my pg 304fortune to meete one Father John Mitford as hee now entitles himself, a Benedikten, one that is an agent there for his order, who had heretofore beene my schoolfellow in Newcastle, he was well seen by the Popes nephew the Cardinal Barberini who he moved in my behalfe. The Cardinal told him, the next time they met in the Holy Office (for so the inquisition is called) he would moove it to the rest of the Cardinalls & Prelates of the Inquisition, & if they were not against it, hee should do mee the favour, which being done accordingly, a motion of the Pope's nephew was not likely to be denyed, it was granted & moved both together. Notice was given to the Inquisition to suffer mee to speak to Mr. Molle, which I did the 13th of June this day twelvemonth—the Manner was this—Father John Mitford, Father Dominic Bourg of the House of My Lord Clanricard, as he told mee, and another Irish Father, his companion whose name I know not, we went into the Inquisition together. Father John made known my errand which the Inquisitor allowed of, provided that Father Domine Bourg as he called himself were present to give him an account of our discourse who spoke English very well.

Mr. Molle was sent for by an officer. notice being given that he was at the Chamber doore, into which there was 3 or 4 doors, the Inquisitor before Mr. Molle entered, intreated Father John (my friend) and the other Irish Father, companion of Father Dominic to retire, alledging his authority was only to allow mee to speak to him, and that he for his own justification if he should hereafter be questioned would have Father Dominic to be present, and hear our discourse, he himself not understanding English. they being put out, Mr. Molle came in. Father Dominic told him I was an Englishman who knew somme of his friends and had obtained leave of the Cardinal Barberini to let him know of their estates.

He said he was much beholden to mee, asked me my country and my home. He asked me if I was of the house of Thorn-Brigges, he sayde he knew Sir Thomas Strickland very well. I told him I was of that of Boynton. He tolde me our house were not Catholics, but he thought I was one, else I should not have had the favour to see him. Whereupon Father Dominick interrupted him and told him he was not to aske me of my religion, my leave was only to let him know of the affairs of some of his friends. Whereupon he asked me if I knew his wife, I told him I had seen her at Sir Henry Griffins his house, whether she came often to visit a daughter of hers who is married to Mr. Dr. Stanhope who lived there—he told mee he knew Sr Edward Stanhope, but had never heard of any brother of his, who was a Divine. I told him Yes & the dew merits of Mr. Dr., he being the King's Chaplin eminent in the Church—he asked me the name of Mr. Dr. Stanhope's wife, but that I could not tell him—After I told him Sir Edward Stanhope's son had married another, but knew not which it was, and told him of Dr. Wright's marriage with another.

He was exceedingly comforted and joyed in my good news. He asked me of his sonne. I told him I knew him not but heard he was bred a scholar, but could give him no particular account of him, as not knowing him. After this or thee like discource was past, the Inquisitor asked me if I were pg 305satisfied, and if I were donne, and told mee having seen Mr. Molle & given him a short account of his friends that I knew [ ].

Whereupon I asked Mr. M. if he would say any more to me, for now we were to part. He prayed me to commend him to his wife & children, and tell them he prayed for them daylie, often, every day, said hee. when he told me he did conjure me as I was a gentleman to do that which St Austin sayde, every man ought to another, which was to testify the truth and therefore (sayde he) whether you be Catholicke or nott—yet testifie to my wife & children and all that shall aske for mee, that I have continued ever constant in the religion I was born & baptized in & will even to my life's end.

Father Dominic would have interrupted him, but he would not, ending this 'Well, I will pray for all your conversions' so he went into the room from which he came. and I left with such an impression of his sufferings, as all my companions at Rome knew, I could think of nothing else but Mr. Molle for many days after. He tolde me that he had been in the Inquisition 26 years & some odd months & dayes. Mr. Molle is all white for his beard & head, his stature tall, rather inclining to leane yet not in any extremity. He seems not to be infirme, more than all men are of his age wch seems to me (for I asked him not) to be 68 or 69. He wore a little straite horseman's coat of a sad brown, his other apparel of a middle value. He seemed to me to have his sences very good, and I saw no signe of any ill usage, but durst not aske him                     Walter Strickland

June 13th 1636.

In 1621 a second translation by John Molle was brought out by Richard Baddeley, probably his son-in-law,1 with a prefatory letter to John Williams, Bishop Elect of Lincoln and Lord Keeper, in which Baddeley says that Molle on leaving England had entrusted the work to him as a fidei-commissum and prays that some course may be found for Molle's return. The work, fancifully entitled The Living Librarie, was a translation of the first century of the Opera Horarum Subsecivarum sive Meditationes Historicæ of Philipp Camerarius, originally published about 1591. Molle's translation was, however, not from the Latin but from the French translation, Les Meditations Historiques of S. G. S. [Simon Goulart of Senlis].

Henry Molle, born at Leicester on Christmas Day 1597, was admitted Scholar from Eton at King's College, Cambridge, 26 Aug. 1612. On the 20 July 1616 (S. P. Dom. lxxxviii) the office pg 306of Examiner of Witnesses before the Council of the North was granted in reversion after William Nevill and John Mole to the letter's son, Henry.

Having been admitted Fellow of King's 26 Aug. 1615, he became B.A. in 1616/17 and M.A. in 1620. From Michaelmas 1618 he was college Lecturer in one subject after another, in 1627–9, Bursar. Essex, Lady Cheke, on 20 Feb. 1624/5 begged of Secretary Conway the next reversion of a prebend at Windsor, for her husband's nephew, the son of Mr. Mole, in prison in the Inquisition at Rome. In 1638 he became a Senior Fellow of the College, and in 1639 Vice-Provost. He was University Proctor in 1633 and Public Orator from 1639. In 1650 he lost his Fellowship and the Oratorship for refusing to take the Engagement, and being expelled from King's lived as a Fellow-Commoner at Trinity College, which must have been his home at the time Dorothy Osborne writes of him. He appears to have found a friend in Cromwell, perhaps owing to his relationship to the Earl of Manchester, and at Lady Day 1654, or soon after, was reinstated in his fellowship at King's. On 29 Aug. 1654 he made his will. He left bequests to his four sisters, Mrs. Susan Stanhope £200, Mrs. Cassandra Baddeley, Mrs. Attwood and Mrs. Mary Wright £100 each, and to his nieces, Elizabeth Stanhope, daughter of his sister Anne Stanhope deceased £20, and Elizabeth, Frances, and Arbella, daughters of Mrs. Susan Stanhope, £40 each. By a codicil he bequeathed £5 to the College to buy 'humanitie' books for the Library. His executrix was his sister Mrs. Mary Wright.1

Henry Molle died in King's College 10 May 1658 and lies buried in the first vestry on the north side of the chapel. His will was proved in the College 26 May 1658.

There are three books in the College Library which were probably given by him in his lifetime as well as two probably bought out of his legacy. He was an extraordinarily fine Musician and himself composed some services for the chapel.2

[The whole of the above account is based on notes supplied to Mrs. F. D. Longe, by Mr. F. L. Clarke, Bursar's Clerk, in 1903, some of them taken from Anthony Allen's MS. Catalogue of the pg 307Provosts and Fellows. They were kindly put at my disposal by Miss Julia Longe.] The arms of 'John Mole of Molton in Devon' are given in Add. MS. 5524 fo. 226, and of Henry Molle (the same) in Add. MS. 5849, p. 439.

Henry Molle, though in his last years Dorothy made fun of him and professed not to admire his letters, had been in earlier life a writer of light verse and witty squibs and prose characters. His first work was of a serious kind. In 1625 a second edition of his father's translation of the First Century of Camerarius, The Living Librarie, appeared 'with additions by H. Molle'. The additions were eight meditations taken from Camerarius' Second Century (translated from the Latin, not from the French) and prefaced by a short letter 'to the Reader'. He has Latin poems in various University collections and one on Sir Roland Cotton in Parentalia, 1635.

His natural inclination is seen better perhaps in the verses and 'characters' found in seventeenth-century commonplace books. Of these I have found:

  1. 1 'Witt in a Tempest; a Translation.' 16 lines in octosyllabic couplets. (Ashmolean MS. 36, fo. 173 b.; Rawl. MS. Poet. 147, p. 2; Rawl. MS. Poet, 210, fo. 49.)

  2. 2 'On a man stealing a candle from a lanthorne.' 6 lines in heroic couplets. (Rawl. MS. Poet, 147, p. 2; Rawl. MS. Poet. 210, fo. 49.)

  3. 3 'To a Gentlewoman with one eye.' (Rawl. MS. Poet. 147, p. 13.)

  4. 4 'Twilight at foure a clock in winter.' 76 lines in heroic couplets, preceded by 'The Occasion' in six 8-line stanzas. (Rawl. MS. Poet. 147, p. 25; Rawl. MS. Poet. 210, fo. 47 v.)

  5. 5 'On Fucus.' i. e. on the performance of the Latin comedy Fucus Histriomastix (printed 1909) by members of Queens' College, Cambridge, before King James at Newmarket in 1623, in rivalry with the performance of Hacket's Loiola by Trinity College men, given at Cambridge, 12 March. The lines were printed in E. E. Kellett's Book of Cambridge Verse, 1911, p. 406. Nine 8-line stanzas. (Rawl. MS. Poet. 147, p. 4; Rawl. MS. Poet. 210, fo. 51.)

  6. 6 'To ye Queenes Mty on ye birth of James D. of Yorke.' (1633.) Three 6-line stanzas. (Rawl. MS. Poet. 147, p. 27; Rawl MS. Poet. 210, fo. 57 v.)

  7. 7 Four short 'characters' in the manner of Earle.

    1. 1 'The Author of ye 3 following Characters.' (This is anonymous, but is probably by Molle.)

    2. pg 3082 'A Bedell.'

    3. 3 'A Rambler.'

    4. 4 'Sturbridge Fair.' (Rawl. MS. Poet. 246, fo. 48 and 49.)

As a specimen of Henry Molle's skill in light verse I give his introductory lines to 'Twilight'.

  • The Occasion.
  • On a Decembers afternoone,
  • Betweene ye times of Sun & Moone,
  • For day too late, for night too soone,
  •                It fortun'd
  • Dick Goad1 & I resolv'd together
  • To go, we knew nor car'd not whither,
  • To seeke some shelter as ye weather
  •                Importun'd.
  • And as we wandred up & downe
  • To find a fire in Cambridg towne,
  • It seem'd yt angry fate did frowne
  •                Upon us,
  • For not a fire or great or small
  • We could procure or find at all
  • In Parlor, or in Hall
  •                Of one house.
  • The Morning fire was dead & gone,
  • The evening fire was very none,
  • But the materialls of each one
  •                Lay scat'tring;
  • There did ye silent ashes lye
  • The stony-hearted cinders by,
  • No help, no hope, no remedy
  •                For shatt'ring;
  • 'Fye o' this ugly time,' quoth Dicke,
  • 'That we must needs be colde i' th' nick2
  • When ther's no coale of fire, no stick
  •                To shew light,
  • Methinks it were a merry straine
  • And worthy of a Poetts vaine
  • To character ye Interreigne
  •                Of owle-light.
  • pg 309For sure Dame Nature ne're did breed
  • A time whereof there is no need,
  • But some promiscuous wanton seed
  •                Did whelpe it,
  • Then if some angry Poetts quill
  • Make it ye subject of his skill,
  • He shall have heart and my good will
  •                To helpe it.'
  • Then I, who yett (as all men know it
  • And as my following rime will show it)
  • Was neither borne nor bred a Poett
  •                Nor thought one,
  • Since Indignation doth supply
  • The verse that nature doth deny,
  • The good will of my Muse to try
  •                Was brought on.

A specimen 'character' follows.

Sturbridge Fayre

Is a stubble feild overgrown with booths, a peaceable camp, or a towne sticht up1: a place where men thinke they are couzend and are not deceiv'd. The Londoners bring downe theire sick commodityes to take the ayre, & ye Countrey tradesmen to sweare & utter their wares wth crediti: ye heavyest wares go lightest of, & ye Pedler & Tobaccho [man?]2 are the last that are borne. It is a resort of divers humors accustomed to flow to such a place at such a season, wch ye heate of a few daies commerce spends & disperses. The schollers make it their suburbs & though they buy but superfluities yet they thinke their journey necessary. The countrey Gentleman makes his provision in his best cloaths, & hath brought his wife with him to save her longing. Cold meate & hot drink are in fashion & ye greatest affront to ye fayre is foule weather. The buyers & sellers like Gamesters worke one upon ye other & ye victualer like ye box takes on both sides. The northern man maintaines his Prerogative of being lowdest & his speech is as broad as his cloath. The tradesmen like Pœnitentiaryes live in sackcloath, & keep their familyes in booths as ye Hollanders doe in ships. At last like an inchanted Castle, it is resolved into dust & oyster shells, & ye corruption of this one faire is ye generation of divers others.


1 Lord Roos and Dorothy Osborne were second cousins, his grandmother, Dorothy, Countess of Exeter, and her grandmother, Elizabeth Danvers, being both daughters of John Nevill, Lord Latimer. For the same reason Sir R. Cooke of Epsom, and Mary (Alington), Sir T. Hatton's wife, were her second cousins.

1 R. B. for fifty years was secretary to Bishop Thos. Morton and wrote a life of him. Morton was a native of York and from 1598 held the living of Long Marston near York. So Baddeley might naturally be thrown with the Molles, and Molle's daughter, Mrs. Cassandra Baddeley, was doubtless his wife.

1 Mrs. F. D. Longe conjectured that Dorothy's friends, Mrs. Goldsmith and her sister, Jane Wright, were connexions of Henry Molle. It seems more likely from Jane's visit to Guernsey that they were connected with Sir Peter Osborne's old agent at Jersey, Thomas Wright.

2 The Jebb collection of church music in Peterhouse Library contains an anthem, 'Great and marvellous', and five services by Henry Molle (Dr. T. A. Walker's Admissions to Peterhouse, p. 682).

1 Richard Goad was two or three years senior to Molle. He became a scholar of King's in 1610 and B.A. 1613/14. Like Molle, he became a Fellow.

2 The O.E.D. has nothing nearer to this use of 'i' th' nick' than Jonson's 'A very Sharke, he set me i' the nicke t' other night at primero' (Silent Woman, iv. 4).

1 Vamped up, extemporized.

2 Mr. F. P. Wilson, who has kindly looked at the MS. for me, suggests that 'ā' here stands for 'man'.

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