288. CONCERNING THE CHILDBED OF QUEEN MARY, AS IT WAS RUMOURED AMONG THE PEOPLE.
Long persuasion had been in England with great expectation, for the space of half a year or more, that the queen was conceived with child. This report was made by the queen's physicians, and others nigh about the court; so that divers were punished for saying the contrary: and commandment was given, that in all churches, supplication and prayer should be made for the queen's good delivery; the certificate whereof ye may read before in the letter of the council sent to Bonner, and also the same, moreover, may appear by provision made before in act of parliament for the child.
And now, forasmuch as in the beginning of this month of June, about Whitsuntide, the time was thought to be nigh that this young master should come into the world, and that midwives, rockers, nurses, with the cradle and all, were prepared, and in a readiness; suddenly, upon what cause or occasion it is uncertain, a certain vain rumour was blown in London of the prosperous deliverance of the queen, and the birth of the child; insomuch that the bells were rung, bonfires and processions made, not only in the city of London, and in most other parts of the realm, but also in the town of Antwerp guns were shot off upon the river by the English ships, and the mariners thereof rewarded with a hundred pistolets, or Italian crowns, by the lady regent, who was the queen of Hungary. Such great rejoicing and triumph was for the queen's delivery, and that there was a prince born. Yea, divers preachers, namely, one the parson of St. Anne within Aldersgate, after procession and Te Deum sung, took upon him to describe the proportion of the child, how fair, how beautiful, and great a prince it was, as the like had not been seen.
In the midst of this great ado, there was a simple man (this I speak but upon information) dwelling within four miles of Berwick, that never had been before half way to London, which said concerning the bonfires made for Queen Mary's child, "Here is a joyful triumph; but at length all will not prove worth a mess of pottage" as indeed it came to pass; for in the end all proved clean contrary, and the joy and expectations of men were much deceived. For the people were certified, that the queen neither was as then delivered, nor after was in hope to have any child.
At this time many talked diversely. Some said this rumour of the queen's conception was spread for a policy; some others affirmed that she was deceived by a tympany, or some other like disease, to think herself with child, and was not; some thought she was with child, and that it did by some chance miscarry, or else that she was bewitched; but what was the truth thereof the Lord knoweth, to whom nothing is secret.
One thing of mine own hearing and seeing, I cannot pass over unwitnessed: There came to me, whom I did both hear and see, one Isabel Malt, a woman dwelling in Aldersgate Street in Horn Alley, not far from the house where this present book was printed, who before witness made this declaration unto us: that she, being delivered of a man-child upon Whit Sunday in the morning, which was the eleventh day of June, anno 1555, there came to her the Lord North, and another lord to her unknown, dwelling then about Old Fish Street, demanding of her if she would part with her child, and would swear that she never knew nor had any such child; which if she would, her son (they said) should be well provided for, she should take no care for it; with many fair offers, if she would part with the child. After that, came other women also, of whom one they said should have been the rocker; but she in no wise would let go her son, who at the writing hereof being alive, and called Timothy Malt, was of the age of thirteen years and upward.
Thus much, I say, I heard of the woman herself. What credit is to be given to her relation, I deal not withal, but leave it to the liberty of the readers to believe it they that list: to them that list not, I have no further warrant to assure them.
Among many other great preparations made for the queen's deliverance of child, there was a cradle very sumptuously and gorgeously trimmed, upon the which cradle for the child appointed, these verses were written, both in Latin and English.
"Quam Marić sobolem, Deus optime, summe, dedisti,
Anglia incolumem redde, tuere, rege."
"The child which thou to Mary, O Lord of might! hast send,
To England's joy, in health preserve,--keep, and defend!"