The Story Of Sir Thomas Howard And Sir Andrew Barton


In the third year of the reign of Henry VIII., Sir Andrew Barton, a

Scots seaman, with two stout vessels--the Lion and the Jenny

Perwin--ranged the coasts of England and interrupted all trade and

navigation; his authority being letters of reprisals against the

Portuguese, granted him by James III., late King of Scotland, under

which he did not hesitate to attack and appropriate ships of all

nations, alleging that they had Portuguese goods on board. On complaint

of these grievances being made to the Privy Council of England, the Earl

of Surrey, afterwards Duke of Norfolk, treasurer to Henry VIII. and

father of Sir Edward Howard referred to in the previous story, and of

Sir Thomas Howard, who forms the subject of this sketch, said the narrow

seas should not be so infested while he had estate enough to furnish a

ship and a son capable of commanding it.

Upon this, two ships were immediately fitted out by the brothers,

probably at their own, or at their father's cost; for if they had gone

with the king's commission they would most likely have sailed at the

head of a squadron. Upon an expedition of this kind, however, they

needed no commission, for pirates being hostes humani generis, enemies

to mankind in general, every man was at liberty to act against them.

The brothers having been some days at sea, were separated by a storm,

which gave Sir Thomas Howard an opportunity of coming up with Sir Andrew

Barton in the Lion, whom he immediately engaged. The fight was long

and doubtful; for Barton, who was an experienced seaman, and who had

under him a determined crew, made a most desperate defence; cheering his

men with a boatswain's whistle to his last breath. On the loss of their

captain, however, they were induced to submit, and were received to

quarter and fair usage. In the meantime, Sir Edward fought and took the

consort of the Lion, which was likewise a strong vessel, and

exceedingly well-manned. Both these ships, with as many men as were left

alive, being in number one hundred and fifty, they brought on August

2nd, 1511, into the River Thames, as trophies of their victory.

King James IV., who then governed the Scots, exceedingly resented this

action, and instantly sent ambassadors to Henry to demand satisfaction;

on which the king gave the memorable answer: "That punishing pirates was

never held a breach of peace among princes." King James, however,

remained still dissatisfied; and, from that time to his death was never

thoroughly reconciled to the king or English nation.

Sir Thomas Howard accompanied the Marquis of Dorset in his expedition

against Guienne; which ended in King Ferdinand's conquering Navarre; and

the commander-in-chief falling sick, Sir Thomas succeeded him, and

brought home the remains of the English army. He had scarcely returned,

however, before the news arrived of the death of his brother, Sir Edward

the lord-admiral; whereupon the king instantly appointed him his

successor. The French ships were at that time hovering about the English

coasts; but Sir Thomas quickly scoured the seas, so that not a barque of

that nation durst appear; and, on July 1st, 1513, landing in Whitsand

Bay, he pillaged the country adjacent and burnt a considerable town.

Henry VIII. was at this time engaged in Picardy, and in the absence of

the king and his admiral, James IV. seized the opportunity to invade

England with a mighty army, supposing he should find it without defence.

Thomas, Earl of Surrey, father of the admiral, however, quickly

convinced him of his mistake, marching towards Scotland with a powerful

army, which strengthened as it moved; while Sir Thomas Howard,

returning, on the news of the invasion, landed five thousand veterans,

and made haste to join his father. The Earl of Surrey despatching a

herald to bid the Scots king battle, the lord-admiral sent him word, at

the same time, that he was come in person to answer for the death of Sir

Andrew Barton. This defiance produced the famous battle of Flodden

Field, which was fought on September the 8th, 1513, when Sir Thomas

Howard commanded the van-guard, and, by his courage and conduct,

contributed not a little to the glorious victory in which James IV. of

Scotland fell, with the flower of his army.

King Henry, for this and other services, restored Thomas, Earl of

Surrey, to the title of Norfolk, and created the lord-admiral Earl of


The war being ended with France, the admiral's martial talent lay some

time unemployed; but certain disturbances in Ireland calling for

redress, the active Earl of Surrey was sent thither, with a commission

as lord-deputy, where he suppressed Desmond's rebellion, humbled the

O'Neals and O'Carrols, and, without affecting severity or popularity,

brought all things into good order, leaving, when he quitted the island,

peace and a parliament behind him, and carrying with him the affections

of the people.

The pretence for recalling him was the breaking out again of a French

war. Before it was declared, the French ships of war interrupted

(according to custom) the English trade, so that we suffered as their

enemies, while their ambassadors were treated as our friends. The

lord-admiral, on his arrival, immediately fitted out a small squadron of

clean ships, under a vigilant commander, who soon drove the French

privateers from the sea. In the spring, Sir William Fitz-William, as

vice-admiral, put to sea, with a fleet of twenty-eight men-of-war, to

guard the narrow seas; and it being apprehended that the Scots might add

to the number of the king's enemies by sea as well as by land, a small

squadron of seven frigates sailed up the Firth of Forth, and burned all

such vessels as lay there and were in a condition of going to sea. In

the meantime, the admiral prepared a Royal Navy, with which that of the

Emperor Charles V. (of Spain) was to join; and as it was evident that

many inconveniences might arise from the fleets having several

commanders-in-chief, the Earl of Surrey, by special commission from

Henry VIII., received the emperor's commission to be admiral also of the

united navy, which consisted of one hundred and eighty tall ships.

With the united fleets, the admiral sailed over to the coast of

Normandy, and landed some forces near Cherbourg, wasted and destroyed

the country; after which they returned. This seems to have been a feint;

for, in a few days, the admiral landed again on the coast of Bretagne a

very large body of troops, with which he took and plundered the town of

Morlaix; and having gained an immense booty, and opened a passage for

the English forces into Champagne and Picardy, he first detached Sir

William Fitz-William with a strong squadron to scour the seas and to

protect the merchants, and then returned to Southampton, where the

emperor, Charles V., who had visited England to confer with Henry VIII.

and Cardinal Wolsey, embarked on board his ship, and was safely convoyed

to the port of St. Andero, in Biscay.

The Earl of Surrey succeeded to the office of Lord Treasurer on the

retirement of his father, and on the duke's death was appointed to

command an army against the Scots and employed on various other

commissions of importance.

Towards the close of his reign the king was led to believe that he (now

Duke of Norfolk) and his son, Henry, Earl of Surrey, the most

distinguished poet of his time, were in a plot to seize upon his person,

and to engross the government into their own hands. For these supposed

crimes, he and his son were imprisoned and attainted almost on

suspicion. Henry, Earl of Surrey, lost his head in his father's

presence; nor would the duke have survived him long, if the king had not

died at that critical juncture and thereby opened a door of hope and

liberty. After all these sufferings, he survived King Edward VI. and

died in the first year of Queen Mary, at the age of sixty-six, when his

attainder was repealed, and the act thereof taken from amongst the


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