Hitchcock, Robert (fl.1580-1591) (DNB01)

HITCHCOCK, ROBERT (fl. 1580–1591), military writer, came of a family which possessed lands at Attwood and Hardmead, Buckinghamshire, in the reign of Henry VII (Cal. Ing. post Mortem, Henry VII, i. 355; cf. Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, in. 307, 357, 556). He described himself as 'gentleman of Caverfield' in that county, and in March 1572-3 his title to some lands in that parish was tried before the court of Star Chamber (Acts P. C., 1571-5, p. 86). Little is known of his life beyond what can be gathered from his books; he refers to 'the skonse of a soldioure that hath trailed the pike,' and on 29 April 1586 he was commissioned to raise a hundred and fifty volunteers in Buckinghamshire for service in the Low Countries (ib. 1586-7, p. 80). He apologises for his lack of literary style, and admits that others write with 'pleasanter wordes and sugred stile then I' (A Politique Platt, pref.) ; but he was familiar with the courtiers and politicians of the day. When urging his scheme for developing the fisheries he relates that he entertained at dinner, a few days before parliament was prorogued in 1576, nearly all the burgesses for the seaport towns, and submitted his plan to them. He also gave copies to the queen, to Leicester, and other members of the council. Thomas Digges [q. v.] introduced the subject in parliament, but an early prorogation stopped its further progress.

Hitchcock's earliest work appears to have been 'A Discourse of Martial Affairs touching the Safeguard of the Realm, and repulsing of the Enemy, if any attempt of Invasion be made,' which he wrote in 1571 and submitted to Elizabeth on 1 Sept. 1580. It is extant in Lansd. MS. cxix. art. 3, with 'Another Discourse by the same Person, concerning the Overthrow of the Enemies at their own Doors.' A similar treatise is 'Captain Hitchcock's Petition and Proposal to the Queen for stationing some Ships of War in the Ohannel to annoy Foreign Enemies and protect Friends,' extant in Lansdowne MS. cxiii. 10. A fourth tract by Hitchcock is among Foxe's MSS. (Lansd. MS. ccclxxxix.), entitled 'A Discourse for Defence against the threatened Invasion of the Holy League' (cf. Strype, Annals, n. ii. 368-70). None of these appear to have been printed, but on New Year's day 1580-1 Hitchcock published his scheme for developing the Newfoundland herring fisheries, with the title 'A Politique Platt for the Honour of the Prince, the greate profite of the Publique State, reliefe of the Poore, preservation of the Rich, reformation of Roges and Idle Persons, and the wealthe of thousands that knowes not howe to live' (London, Ihon Kyngston, 1 Jan. 1580) ; prefixed are verses by the author's brother Francis. Hitchcock's book was commended by Thomas Mun [q.v.] in his 'England's Treasure by Forraign Trade ' (cap. xix.), and Tobias Gentleman [q. v. Suppl.] and John Keymer [q. v. Suppl.] wrote books developing Hitchcock's argument. This was followed in 1590 by 'The Quintessence of Wit, being a corrant comfort of conceites, maximes, and politicke devises, selected and gathered together by Francisco Sansovino . . . translated out of the Italian tung . . . ' (London, Edward Allde, 28 Oct. 1590 ; dedicated to Robert Cecil, afterwards earl of Salisbury). Hitchcock brought 'a second part' of Sansovino's work from the Netherlands in 1586, which he promised to translate and publish, but does not seem to have done so. His last work was 'The Arte of Warre ; being the onely rare booke of Myllitarie Profession : drawn out of all our late and forraine services, by William Garrard, gentleman, who served the King of Spain in all his Warres fourteen yeares, and died A.D. 1587 . . . corrected and finished by Captain Hitchcock, anno 1591' (London, 1591, 4to ; dedicated to Robert Devereux, earl of Essex) ; to it Hitchcock appended 'A generall Proportion and order of Provision for a Yeere ... to victuall a Garrison of one thousand Souldiours.'

[Hitchcock's works in Brit. Mus. Library ; Cockle's Bibliogr. of Military History, 1900; authorities cited.]

A. F. P.