« EdellinenJatka »
of time in one place. They more speedily adopted old English feelings and sympathies; and the great leaders were indebted to them for much of their best strength during the struggles and the trials which ended in renewing the England of former days, and in welding into one strong-hearted people the conquerors and the conquered.
There are few more interesting books than those which, like the Lives of the Lindsays' or the delightful • Memorie of *the Somervilles' edited by Sir Walter Scott, deal with the history of a single family so far as it can be traced, and enable us to follow (as is almost always possible) the common character and tendencies which, displaying themselves in different fashions and in various proportions, descend through all the generations from the founder—the “Sholto Douglas' who first emerges from the dark-to the many-acred peer or commoner of the present day. There exists, we believe-its whereabouts we do not care to disclose—the pictorial record of a Kentish family, in which, passing from sire to son, its members are represented
in their habits as they lived,' taking part in the various events of the centuries to which their respective fates had conducted them. The series begins with the opposition of a valiant chief to the landing of Cæsar--for we are to suppose that the race thus recorded was one to which Derings and Colepepers are of yesterday. But from beginning to end, whether the costume be a' painted vest' won from some ‘naked Pict,' the chain-mail of the Crusaders, the ruff and trunk hose of Elizabeth, the flowing periwig and ribbons of the Pepysian era, or the well-powdered Ramillies of the Georgian, the same remarkable nose, and the same countenance of bland, well-satisfied stupidity, distinguish the long procession. On such very marked characteristics as these, whether corporeal or mental, we do not mean to insist, but we do maintain that the general turn and temperament of an ancient house are often, when we have the means of tracing them, not less clearly evident than the likeness which may run through the family portraits in the great gallery. In the beautiful volumes which Lord Clermont: has privately printed we have the records of one of the most ancient and honourable houses in England ; and we believe that we may trace the same type of character, and that a very high and noble one, showing itself with more or less distinctness, in nearly all its more prominent members. Lord Clermont's memorials of the Fortescues are contained in two very handsome folios, and are enriched with illustrations of all kinds heraldic and topographical, engravings from authentic portraits, examples of handwriting, and facsimiles of ancient manuscripts. The first volume contains a most careful life of the Lord Chief Justice, whom we regard as displaying the most pronounced type of the family character, together with a complete edition (with English translation) of his works, the De
Naturâ Legis Naturæ,' the De Laudibus Legum Angliæ,' the • De Dominio Regali et Politico,' and some smaller treatises. In the second volume the history of the family is traced through all its branches, and everything that could be recovered concerning the lives of the more distinguished Fortescues has been collected and preserved. The cost of preparing and of printing two such volumes must have been considerable. The labour was no doubt one of love; yet the mere arrangement of materials so extensive, and gathered from so many quarters, cannot but have taken much time and care, and the power of producing from them a narrative so pleasant and so readable is not given to every writer of family history. The book has not been published; but, with great liberality, copies have been sent to the chief public libraries of the country, so that the valuable results of Lord Clermont's labours are accessible to others besides members of the family, who must necessarily regard them with more interest than the rest of the world.
When we first get clear sight of the Fortescues we find them settled at Wimondeston or Wimpstone, in the parish of Modbury, in South Devon. This is late in the twelfth century; and there exists, or did exist, a confirmation of Wimpistone by King John to a Sir John Fortescue, who, during the troubles of that reign, had been active on the side of the king. At what time the first Fortescue appeared in Devonshire is uncertain. The Domesday Survey gives us no help, and the family tradition, which Lord Clermont pronounces venerable 6 and almost uniform, can only be taken for what it is worth. *This asserts that a certain Richard le Fort, Duke William's cupbearer, fought by the side of his master at Senlac (Hastings), and after the duke had three horses killed under him, protected him with his shield, and thus saved his life. He was thenceforward known as Richard le Fort-escu, or 'strong • shield.'* It is true that a Richard le Fort or Forz appears in certain copies of the Battle Abbey Roll, but this tells us little. The tradition adds that this first Fort-escu returned to Nor
* It is true that William, at different stages of the battle, had three horses killed under him. The authorities are William of Poitou and William of Malmesbury (quoted by Freeman, Norm. Conq.,'iii. 485); but there is nowhere any record of such an action as that attributed to the Fort-escu.'
mandy, whilst his son, Sir Adam, remained in England, received a grant of Wimpstone, and became founder of the English family. However the truth may be, we have here at any rate a curious and early instance of the continuance of a 'byename' as that of a family. It is found on either side of the Channel. Wimpstone became the cradle of a numerous race. There were Fortescues of Preston, of Spridlestone, of Wood, and of Fallapit, all which places lic near together in that part of Devonshire between the Dart and the Yealm ; and in Lord Clermont's words, 'that retired region must have been almost • peopled by families of Fortescues, held together both by neigh'bourhood and frequent intermarriages. In the same manner the Fortescues of Normandy were clustered in a corner of the Côtentin—the cradle of so many Anglo-Norman families—a region of apple-orchards, steep hills, and winding valleys, much like that in which their English cousins increased and prospered. One branch became Seigneurs of St. Evremund—a noticeable name; and another was of St. Marie du Mont. None of their older possessions in South Devon remain to the Fortescues, and Wimpstone, with the rest of their houses (except Falla pit) have sunk into farms deep set in orchards, showing only by an occasional carved portal or moulded chimney that they have fallen from a higher estate. But in England the old seats were abandoned in order that the family might flourish elsewhere. In Normandy, although the race still exists, and is recognised as d'une vieille et bonne ' noblesse,' it has sunk into porerty, and retains but few records of its former importance. It is remarkable that the shield of arms borne by these Norman Fortescues, although not exactly the same as that of the English house, has so much resemblance to it that it is difficult to suppose but that one must have affected the other. *
Wimpstone itself can never have been a large estate, and the house, at its best, was but small. The life, indeed, in these lesser manor houses must always have been poor and rough, and the joys of the chase, to which the country lent itself, must have been greatly checked in those early days by the
The shield of the English Fortescues is azure, a bend engrailed, argent, between two bendlets, or. That of the Norman Fortescues varies. Guillaume Fortescu, killed at Agincourt, bore argent 3 bends azure.
Fortescu, Seigneur de Corainville, has the bends gules. The Sieur de Tailly has the field azure, like that of the English Fortescues, with the bends argent; and Tristain Fortescu of MesnilAngot, has the field argent with a single bend azure, thus coming nearest to the Englislı coat.
operation of the forest laws. The first Fortescues of Wimpstone can hardly have ‘roused the red deer from his lair 'with half the freedom and delight that their successors enjoyed in more recent times, when riding to hounds' over the same pleasant hills and uplands. But at the beginning of the fifteenth century, William Fortescue, of Wimpstone, is reported as master of broad lands in various parts of South Devon; and after his death occurs the first offset from the main trunk. His eldest son continued to represent the race at Wimpstone; his second, Sir John, became, through his sons, the founder of at least three distinct houses. He is generally known in the family records as Sir John of Meaux, of which strong place, the capital of the province of La Brie, he was made Captain after it was taken by the English in 1422. Sir John, according to Westcote, was a worthy and fortunate commander under that terror of France and Mirror of Martialists, Henry V.' He fought at Agincourt, where his third son, then a mere youth, was present with him; and where also fought and fell, of course in the French ranks, one of his Norman cousins, Guillaume Fortescue, lord of St. Evremond. Sir John married Eleanor, daughter and heiress of William Norreis of Norreis--a house in the valley of the Avon, at no great distance from Wimpstone. Here, as it seems most probable, their three sons were born, the second of whom was the famous Chief Justice and Chancellor. With the recollection of his life and of his writings full upon us, it is hardly possible to look without much interest on even the comparatively modern walls and roofs of the farm which now represents the ancient dwelling.
But the site is the same. The low, green hills sheltered the old house as they shelter its successor; and the river sparkles onward as freshly as when the future lawyer caught (as we take it for granted he did catch) his first trout among its' stickles.'
Sir Henry Fortescue, eldest son of the Captain of Meaux, became Chief Justice of Ireland; where, if Fuller is to be trusted, he was justly of great esteem for his many virtues, especially ' for his sincerity in so tempting a place.' He seems to have brought back with him into Devonshire a number of Irish retainers; for a bill filed in Chancery in 1431, at the suit of Richard Sackville, complains that · Herry Fortescue, late Jus* tice of Irlond,' wrongfully dispossessed Sackville and his wife of land and houssing' at Nethercombe (now Combe in the parish of Holbeton), coming to the house with “grete peuple of
Irysshemen and others in the manore of werre arraied,' where Sackville, “hys wyfe, here moder and here children beynge in • thair bedde, he brake thair dores and cofres, with horrible
gov-'naunce (?) cryinge and shotte,' frightened the women out of their wits, and carried off Sackville himself prisoner to Exeter. The whole gives us a curious picture of the lawlessness of the times, and indicates that the Justice's many virtues were not inconsistent with an occasional recourse to the strong hand; a result, perhaps, of Irish experiences. The life of his second brother, the English Chief Justice and Chancellor, must be dwelt upon at somewhat greater length.
Sir John Fortescue was born at Norreis about 1394. He was educated at Exeter College, Oxford; and was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn. In 1430 he was made Sergeant ; and soon afterwards married Isabella Jamyss, of Norton St. Philips in Somersetshire, where the Fortescue arms may still be seen on one of the houses in the village. His practice was large, and his knowledge of English law so conspicuous that, without any intermediate steps, he was raised in 1442 to the high place of Lord Chief Justice. He was an ardent Lancastrian; but this did not interfere with his zeal for truth and justice, and Fuller, comparing him with Chief Justice Markham, his immediate successor, says, “ These may call two Chief • Justices of the Chief Justices, for their signal integrity ; for * though the one of them favoured the house of Lancaster and
the other the house of York in their titles to the Crown, both of them favoured the house of Justice in matters betwixt • party and party. In 1461, after the defeat of the Yorkists at St. Alban's, Fortescue, who had nearly reached his seventieth year, passed with King Henry to the north of England, where they joined the queen and her forces; and in spite of his years the Chief Justice fought bravely in the terrible battle of Iowton-one of the most fatal and destructive that has ever been fought on English soil
. The Lancastrians never recovered the loss of this battle. Henry, Margaret, and the young Prince fled from York to Berwick, and soon afterwards took refuge with the King of Scots at Edinburgh. Fortescue accompanied them; but not before he had again shown his prowess in two lesser encounters with the Yorkists, at Brauncepeth and at Ryton near Newcastle. Two months after Towton he was superseded as Chief Justice by King Edward. It must have been at this time that Henry VI. made him his Chancellor.* He was with the king and queen in the campaign
It has been doubted whether Fortescue was ever Chancellor within the realm of England, although it is not questioned that he acted as Henry VI.'s Chancellor after the flight from Bamborough.