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SIR HENRY Wotton (whose life I now intend to write) was born in the year of our Redemption 1568, in Bocton-Hall, (commonly called Bocton, or Boughton-Place, or Palace,) in the parish of Bocton Malherbe, in the fruitful county of Kent: Bocton-Hall being an ancient and goodly structure, beautifying and being beautified by the parish-church of Bocton Malherbe adjoining unto it, and both seated within a fair park of the Wottons, on the brow of such a hill as gives the advantage of a large prospect, and of equal pleasure to all beholders.
But this house and church are not remarkable for any o so much, as for that the memorable family of the Wottons have so long inhabited the one, and now lie buried in the other, as appears by their many monuments in that church; the Wottons being a family, that hath brought forth divers persons emiment for wisdom and valour; whose heroic acts, and noble employments, both in England and in foreign parts, have adorned themselves and this nation; which they have served abroad faithfully, in the discharge of their great trust, and prudently in their negociations with several princes; and also served at home with much honour and justice, in their wise managing a great part of the public affairs thereof, in the various times both of war and peace.
But lest I should be thought by any, that may incline either to deny or doubt this truth, not to have observed moderation in the commendation of this family; and also for that I believe the merits and memory of such persons ought to be thankfully recorded, I shall offer to the consideration of every reader, out of the testimony of their pedigree and our chronicles, a part (and but a part) of that just commendation which might be from thence enlarged, and shall then leave the indifferent reader to judge whether my error be an excess or defect of commendations. Sir Robert Wotton, of Bocton Malherbe, Knight, was born about the year of Christ 1460; he, living in the reign of King Edward IV. was by him trusted to be Lieutenant of Guisnes, to be Knight Porter, and Comptroller of Calais, where he died, and lies honourably buried. Sir Edward Wotton, of Bocton Malherbe, Knight, (son and heir of the said Sir Robert) was born in the year of Christ 1489, in the reign of King Henry VII.; he was made Treasurer of Calais, and of the Privy Council to King Henry VIII., who offered him to be Lord Chancellor of England: “But,” saith Hollinshed, in his Chronicle, “out of a virtuous modesty, he refused it.” Thomas Wotton, of Bocton Malherbe, Esquire, son and heir of the said Sir Edward, and the father of our Sir Henry, that occasions this relation, was born in the year of Christ 1521. He was a gentleman excellently educated, and studious in all the liberal arts; in the knowledge whereof he attained unto a great perfection; who, though he had (besides those abilities, a very noble and plentiful estate, and the ancient interest of his predecessors) many invitations from Queen Elizabeth to change his country recreations and retirement for a court, offering him a knighthood, (she was then with him at his Bocton-Hall,) and that to be but as an earnest of some more honourable and more profitable employment under her; yet he humbly refused both, being a man of great modesty, of a most plain and single heart, of an ancient freedom, and integrity of mind:—a commendation which Sir Henry Wotton took occasion often to remember with great gladness, and thankfully to boast himself the son of such a father; from whom indeed he derived that noble ingenuity that was always practised by himself, and which he ever both commended and ches rished in others. This Thomas was also remarkable for hospitality, a great lover and much beloved of his country; to which may justly be added, that he was a cherisher of learning, as appears by that excellent antiquary, Mr. William Lambert, in his Perambulation of Kent. This Thomas had four sons, Sir Edward, Sir James, Sir John, and Sir Henry. Sir Edward was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and made Comptroller of Her Majesty’s Household. “He was,” saith Camden, “a man remarkable for many and great employments in the state, during her reign, and sent several times ambassador into foreign nations. After her death, he was by King James made Comptroller of his Household, and called to be of his Privy Council, and by him advanced to be Lord Wotton, Baron of Merley in Kent, and made Lord Lieutenant of that county.” Sir James, the second son, may be numbered among the martial men of his age, who was, in the thirty-eighth of Queen Elizabeth's reign, (with Robert Earl of Sussex, Count Lodowick of Nassau, Don Christophoro, son of Antonio King of Portugal, and divers other gentlemen of nobleness and valour) knighted in the field near Cadiz, in Spain, after they had gotten great honour and riches, besides a notable retaliation of injuries, by taking that town. Sir John, being a gentleman excellently accomplished, both by learning and travel, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and by her looked upon with more than ordinary favour, and with intentions of preferment; but death in his younger years put a period to his growing hopes. Of Sir Henry my following discourse shall give an account.
The descent of these fore-named Wottons were all in a direct line, and most of them and their actions in the memory of those with whom we have conversed; but if I had looked so far back as to Sir Nicholas Wotton, (who lived in the reign of King Richard II.) or before him others of great note in their several ages, I might by some be thought tedious; and yet others may more justly think me negligent, if I omit to mention Nicholas Wotton, the fourth son of Sir Robert, whom I first named.
This Nicholas Wotton was Doctor of Law, and sometime Dean both of York and Canterbury; a man whom God did not only bless with a long life, but with great abilities of mind, and an inclination to employ them in the service of his country, as is testified by his several employments, (vide Camden's Britannia ;) having been sent nine times ambassador unto foreign princes; and by his being a Privy Councillor to King Henry VIII., to Edward VI., to Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth; who also after he had been, during the wars between England, Scotland, and France, three several times (and not unsuccessfully) employed in committees for settling of peace betwixt this and those kingdoms, “died,” saith learned Camden, “full of commendations for wisdom and piety.” He was also by the will of King Henry VIII. made one of his executors, and chief Secretary of State to his son, that pious prince, Edward VI.-Concerning which Nicholas Wotton