Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 9.djvu/508

This page needs to be proofread.


502


NOTES AND QUERIES. pi s. ix. Jo 27,


been if there had been no marriage to be dissolved.

Bishop Burnet, ignorant of the existence of these two writers, simply disbelieved San- ders' s story. He pointed out that Ponet wrote a book defending clerical marriage ; that this book after this date was severely handled in another book published with the name of Dr. Thomas Martin, though it is attributed by Ponet himself to Gardiner and others ; that the later book says nothing of the scandal, and that it must have mentioned it if it were a fact. Martin's book, of 1554, against clerical marriage, devotes chaps, xi., xii., xiii., to a special confutation of Ponet's work. It is not more abusive than sixteenth- century controversy usually was, less so than some of Ponet's own writings ; but the maxim, " If your case is weak, abuse the plaintiff's attorney," is acted up to, as usual. Without going so far as Burnet does, it is permissible to disbelieve that a contro- versialist who knew of a flagrant act of adultery by an opponent on such a subject would have failed even to hint at it. I can see no such hint in the book. A scandal there was ; but the charges of deliberate adultery or bigamy fall to the ground.

A very probable explanation of what happened can be suggested, though in want of complete evidence it can only remain probable. The statute 2 & 3 Ed. VI., c. 23, restored the old Canon Law rule about pre- contracts of marriage annulling subsequent marriage with another party. The statute 32 Henry VIII., c. 38, had overridden this ; but Edward's statute specifically repealed this part of Henry's act, and enacted that a marriage was voidable if either party could be shown to have been precontracted to another, without consummation. If such precontract were proved, " pains " could be inflicted upon " the disobedients and dis- turbers thereof," which explains the damages paid to the butcher. I submit that probably Ponet, before he became a bishop (29 June, 1550, of Rochester), but after 1 May, 1549 the date when Edward's statute came into force had married a woman of low degree ; that she could be shown to have been pre- contracted to a butcher, that the marriage was therefore voidable, and that he was left free to marry a gentlewoman. It is a dis- creditable story, but credible, while the other is not. As this avoidance of the first marriage was possible owing to a partial .return to the Canon Law, which the Parlia- ment of Mary restored in all its strictness, it was scarcely open to Thomas Martin, a supporter of the Canon Law, to take any


particular notice of it as a scandal. It appears to me that this hypothesis, that Ponet married a precontracted woman, and that therefore his marriage could be dis- solved, is the only one that satisfies the evidence that we have.

When and where his first marriage was celebrated does not appear. The Registers of Nottingham are not extant before Eliza- beth's reign, and those of Nottinghamshire parishes which go back to an earlier date do. not contain it.

Ponet's wife married at Croydon, 25 Oct.,. 1551, was Maria Heyman, genc.rosa, daughter of Peter Heyman of Selling, Kent. The Heralds' 'Visitation of Kent' in 1613 calls her Margaret, and says that she married, secondly, John Hill of Fordwich. It gives her a sister Maria, and has made a confusion of the names no doubt, for Ponet's widow signed herself Maria in a letter printed by the Parker Society (No. 57 of ' Original Letters/ vol. i.) a letter which shows her to have- been an honest and sensible woman.

H. E. MALDEN..


'THE TIMES.' (Ses ante, p. 421.)

The Times, in continuation of its new policy of giving the public information as to its sale (see ante, p. 425), announced on the 6th inst. that the net sale during the month of April had exceeded 140,000 copies daily,, after deducting all unsold copies.

The Times of the 8th inst. may claim to* have achieved the greatest triumph of the penny press : the number of that day con- tained 68 pp. of matter, well printed on good paper. Of these, 44 pp. were devoted to an account of the provisioning of these crowded islands. The entire story is placed before us, and it is shown that, notwithstanding the comparative smallness of the amount we produce for our own consumption, the country has not for hundreds of years been short of supplies.

In the introductory article ft is stated that

"the import of our food from practically every country en the face of the globe amounts to the value of 275 millions sterling per annum, rather less than a third of which is credited to British oversea possessions."

Among contributing countries the largest is Argentina (35,000,000;.), and of other coun- tries outside Europe the United States- comes next with about 2,000,OOOZ. less.