Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fitzherbert, Nicholas

FITZHERBERT, NICHOLAS (1550–1612), secretary to Cardinal Allen, second son of John Fitzherbert of Podley, Derbyshire, by the daughter of Edward Fleetwood of Vache, was grandson of Sir Anthony Fitzherbert [q. v.], and first cousin to Thomas Fitzherbert [q. v.], the jesuit. He became a student in Exeter College, Oxford, and was 'exhibited to by Sir Will Petre, about 1568, but what continuance he made there,' says Wood, 'I know not.' His name appears in the matriculation register as a member of Exeter College in 1571 and 1572, he being then the senior undergraduate of that college. About that time he went abroad in order that he might freely profess the catholic religion. He matriculated in the university of Douay during the rectorship of George Prielius (Douay Diaries, p. 275). He studied the civil law at Bologna, where he was residing in 1580. During his absence from England he was attainted of treason, 1 Jan. 1580, on account of his zeal for the catholic cause, and especially for his activity in raising funds for the English College at Rheims. Afterwards he settled in Rome, and received from Pope Gregory XIII an allowance of ten golden scudi a month. When Dr. Allen was raised to the purple in 1587, Fitzherbert became his secretary, and continued to reside in his household till the cardinal's death in 1594. He strenuously opposed the policy adopted by Father Parsons in reference to English catholic affairs. An instance of this is recorded in the diary of Roger Baynes, a former secretary to Cardinal Allen: 'Father Parsons returned from Naples to Rome, 8 Oct. 1598. All the English in Rome came to the College to hear his reasons against Mr. Nicholas Fitzherbert,'

He never could be induced to take orders. When a proposal was made to the see of Rome in 1607 to send a bishop to England, Fitzherbert was mentioned by Father Augustine, prior of the English monks at Douay, as a person worthy of a mitre. Fitzherbert, however, deemed himself unworthy even of the lowest ecclesiastical orders (Dodd, Church Hist. ii. 159). While on a journey to Rome he was accidentally drowned in an attempt to ford a brook called La Pesa, a few miles south of Florence, on 6 Nov. 1612. He was buried in the Benedictine abbey at Florence.

His works are: 1. 'Ioannis Casæ Galathaevs, sive de Moribus, Liber Italicvs. A Nicolao Fierberto Anglo-Latine expressvs,' Rome, 1595, 8vo. Dedicated to Didacus de Campo, chamberlain to Clement VIII. Reprinted, together with the original Tuscan 'Trattato . . . cognominato Galateo ovvero de' Costumi, colla Traduzione Latina a fronte di Niccolò Fierberto,' Padua, 1728, 8vo. 2. 'Oxoniensis in Anglia Academiæ Descriptio,' Rome, 1602, 8vo, dedicated to Bernardinus Paulinus, datary to Clement VIII. Reprinted by Thomas Hearne in vol. ix. of Leland's 'Itinerary,' 1712. 3. 'De Antiquitate & Continuatione Catholicæ Religionis in Anglia, & de Alani cardinalis vita libellus,' Rome, 1608 and 1638, 8vo, dedicated to Pope Paul V. The biography was reprinted at Antwerp, 1621, 8vo, and in Knox's 'Letters and Memorials of Cardinal Allen,' 1882, pp. 3-20.

[Biog. Brit. iii. 1941; Boase's Register of Exeter Coll. pp. 185, 208, 223; Dodd's Church Hist. ii. 158; Foley's Records, ii. 229, 230; Knox's Letters and Memorials of Card. Allen, pp. 3, 190,201, 375, 465; Oliver's Jesuit Collections, p. 93; Pits, De Scriptoribus Angliæ, p. 814; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), vol. ii.]

T. C.