Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/72

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


As a boy it is probable that Richard, who succeeded as heir to the property of his uncle, Sir Thomas Elyot, in 1546, accompanied Elyot on his embassies to Charles V. In 1550, when he purchased land about his father's estate at Sherfield, he was doubtless with his friends in Berkshire. But in April 1561 he was convicted of rape (Cal. State Papers, 1547–80, p. 175), and, although he appears to have been pardoned, he retired to the continent immediately afterwards for an extended period. He was absent, we know, from 1563 to 1566, and in all probability till 1570, when he received a pardon for having prolonged his sojourn abroad without a royal license. During these years George was at home, and a decree of the court of requests, dated 7 Feb. 1565–6, directed him to contribute to the support of his brother Richard's wife until Richard's return. Richard had married in early life Mary, only daughter of Sir William Warham of Malshanger, near Basingstoke, and he had a daughter Ann, who before 1567 married Francis Morris of Coxwell, Berkshire.

In 1579 the author of the ‘Arte’ says that he presented to the queen, as a new year's gift, a series of poems entitled ‘Partheniades.’ This collection is extant, without any author's name, in Cotton. MS. Vesp. E. viii. 169–78, and consists of seventeen attractive poems in various metres. The whole is printed in Haslewood's edition of the ‘Arte’ and some fragments in Nichols's ‘Progresses of Elizabeth’ (iii. 65). It is likely that the poems were a peace-offering from Richard, who, after his long absence and disgrace, was endeavouring to regain his lost reputation. If Mr. J. P. Collier's unsupported assertion that Richard was one of the queen's yeomen of the guard be accepted, it is possible that he received the appointment at this period. But Richard was soon in trouble again. On 31 Oct. 1588 he was imprisoned for a second time, and petitioned the council to appoint him counsel to speak for him in forma pauperis. He also contrived to interest in his misfortunes the lord mayor of London. The latter appealed to Thomas Seckford, the master of requests, who seems to have been Richard's prosecutor, to treat him mercifully. On 9 Nov. 1588 the anonymous ‘Arte’ was licensed to Thomas Orwin for publication. Richard had probably sold the manuscript secretly and hastily while awaiting trial, in order to meet some pressing necessity. On 22 April 1597 ‘Richard Puttenham, esquire, now prisoner in Her Majesty's Bench,’ made his will, leaving all his property to his ‘verily verily reported and reputed daughter, Katherine Puttenham.’ Mr. Collier says that he was buried at St. Clement Danes on 2 July 1601.

Besides the works mentioned above, the author of the ‘Arte’ claims to have composed several other pieces, none of which are extant. Among his dramatic and poetic essays he enumerates ‘Ginecocratia,’ a comedy, and two interludes called respectively ‘Lusty London’ and ‘Woer,’ as well as ‘Triumphals,’ in honour of Queen Elizabeth, and ‘Minerva,’ a hymn also addressed to the queen. Among his prose treatises were ‘Philocalia’ (showing the figure of ornament), ‘De Decoro’ (on decency of speech and behaviour), ‘Ierotechi’ (on ancient mythology), and a work tracing the pedigree of the English tongue.

The chief argument against the identification of Richard with the author of the ‘Arte’ lies in the fact that the latter further claims at the age of eighteen to have addressed to ‘King Edward the Sixt, a prince of great hope,’ an eclogue called ‘Elpine,’ from which he supplies a brief quotation. If the passage is to be interpreted to mean literally that the poem was written after Edward VI's accession to the throne in 1547, it is clear that the author, if only eighteen when he composed it, was not born before 1529. But Richard Puttenham, when he succeeded to the property of his uncle, Sir Thomas Elyot, in 1546, was about twenty-six years old. It is possible, however, that ‘Elpine’ was written some years before Edward ascended the throne—his precocity evoked much poetic eulogy in his infancy—and that the description given of him as king in the title of the eclogue is anachronistic.

George married Elizabeth, daughter of Peter Coudray of Herriard, near Basingstoke. He was her third husband, she having previously married, first, Richard Paulet, and, secondly, William, second lord Windsor (d. 1558). On 21 Jan. 1568–9 the bishop of Winchester expressed alarm lest George was to be placed (as rumour reported) on the commission of the peace, apparently for Hampshire. His evil life, the bishop wrote to Cecil, was well known, and he was a ‘notorious enemy of God's truth’ (Cal. Hatfield MSS. i. 393). In 1570 George was said to be implicated in an alleged plot against Cecil's life (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–80, pp. 363–4), and at the close of 1578 he was involved in a furious quarrel with his wife's family. Summoned before the council, he replied that he was intimidated from obeying, and in December 1578 he was apprehended with difficulty by the sheriffs of London and imprisoned. He sought distraction from his troubles by transcribing passages from the life of Tiberius, by way of illustrating the