The Tower Of London by W. Harrison Ainsworth

How, in 1458, jousts were held on the Tower Green by the Duke of Somerset and five others, before Queen Margaret of Anjou. How in 1471, Henry the Sixth, at that time a prisoner, was said to be murdered within the Tower; how seven years later, George Duke of Clarence, was drowned in a butt of Malmsey in the Bowyer Tower; and how five years after that, the youthful Edward the Fifth, and the infant Duke of York, were also said, for the tradition is more than doubtful, to be smothered in the Bloody Tower. How in 1483, by command of the Duke of Gloucester, who had sworn he would not dine till he had seen his head off, Lord Hastings was brought forth to the green before the chapel, and after a short shrift, “for a longer could not be suffered, the protector made so much haste to dinner, which he might not go to until this were done, for saving of his oath,” his head was laid down upon a large log of timber, and stricken off.

How in 1512, the woodwork and decorations of Saint John’s Chapel in the White Tower were burnt. How in the reign of Henry the Eighth, the prisons were constantly filled, and the scaffold deluged with blood. How Sir Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley, the father of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, were beheaded. How the like fate attended the Duke of Buckingham, destroyed by Wolsey, the martyred John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, the wise and witty Sir Thomas More, Anne Boleyn, her brother Lord Rochford, Norris, Smeaton, and others; the Marquis of Exeter, Lord Montacute, and Sir Edward Neville; Thomas, Lord Cromwell, the counsellor of the dissolution of the monasteries; the venerable and courageous Countess of Salisbury; Lord Leonard Grey; Katherine Howard and Lady Rochford; and Henry, Earl of Surrey.

How, in the reign of Edward the Sixth, his two uncles, Thomas Seymour, Baron Sudley, and Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, were brought to the block; the latter, as has been before related, by the machinations of Northumberland.

Passing over, for obvious reasons, the reign of Mary, and proceeding to that of Elizabeth, we might relate how Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, was beheaded; how the dungeons were crowded with recusants and seminary priests; amongst others, by the famous Jesuits, Fathers Campion and Persons; how Lord Stourton, whose case seems to have resembled the more recent one of Lord Ferrers, was executed for the murder of the Hartgills; how Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, shot himself in his chamber, declaring that the jade Elizabeth should not have his estate; and how the long catalogue was closed by the death of the Earl of Essex.

How, in the reign of James the First, Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded, and Sir Thomas Overbury poisoned. How in that of Charles the First, Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, and Archbishop Laud, underwent a similar fate. How in 1656, Miles Sunderland, having been condemned for high treason, poisoned himself; notwithstanding which, his body, stripped of all apparel, was dragged at the horse’s tail to Tower Hill, where a hole had been digged under the scaffold, into which it was thrust, and a stake driven through it. How, in 1661, Lord Monson and Sir Henry Mildmay suffered, and in the year following Sir Henry Vane. How in the same reign Blood attempted to steal the crown; and how Algernon Percy and Lord William Russell were executed.

How, under James the Second, the rash and unfortunate Duke of Monmouth perished. How, after the rebellion of 1715, Lords Derwentwater and Kenmure were decapitated; and after that of 1745, Lords Kilmarnock, Balmerino, and Lovat. How in 1760, Lord Ferrers was committed to the Tower for the murder of his steward, and expiated his offence at Tyburn. How Wilkes was imprisoned there for a libel in 1762; and Lord George Gordon for instigating the riots of 1780. How, to come to our own times, Sir Francis Burdett was conveyed thither in April 1810; and how, to close the list, the Cato Street conspirators, Thistlewood, Ings, and others, were confined there in 1820.

The chief officer appointed to the custody of the royal fortress, is termed the Constable of the Tower; a place, in the words of Stow, of “high honour and reputation, as well as of great trust, many earls and one duke having been constable of the Tower.” Without enumerating all those who have filled this important post, it may be sufficient to state, that the first constable was Geoffrey de Mandeville, appointed by William the Conqueror; the last, Arthur, Duke of Wellington. Next in command is the lieutenant, after whom come the deputy-lieutenant, and major, or resident governor. The civil establishment consists of a chaplain, gentleman-porter, physician, surgeon, and apothecary; gentleman-jailer, yeoman porter, and forty yeomen warders. In addition to these, though in no may connected with the government or custody of the Tower, there are the various officers belonging to the ordnance department; the keepers of the records, the keeper of the regalia; and formerly there were the different officers of the Mint.

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