My first completed read of 2011 is a download from Google Books, rejoicing in the title: The Hiſtory of That moſt Eminent Stateſman, Sir John Perrott, Knight of the Bath and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, a 1728 edition of a manuscript probably written by his son Sir James Perrot in the 1590s, after Perrot’s death but before Elizabeth I’s. Perrot is important in my project on my ancestor Nicholas White in that they worked together in Ireland when Perrot was a senior English appointee and White one of the most senior Irish-born government officials; also, they both died in the Tower of London (awaiting execution in Perrot’s case, awaiting trial in White’s) in the trails of the bizarre Denis O’Roghan conspiracy. I was particularly hoping to find our more about this last from this book, since it actually promises on the front page that it will describe “His Fatal CATASTROPHEILL and TESTAMENT and his DEATH in the Tower, 1592″, but unfortunately the writer decides to skip the crucial details with frustrating discretion:
Now havinge related Sir John Perrott’s Life and Services thus farre, my wearied Pen is unwilling to proſecute his Storie any farther; partly becauſe the Finiſhing thereof will be laborious, and aske ſome Lengthe of Time and of Diſcourſe; but principally for that the Cataſtrophe of his Life was very tragicall; and to writte all that happned therin, may, perchaunce, breede Offence, and touch the Proceedings of Times paſt too much: Therfore for this time, there ſhall noe more be ſayd of hym, but this, that his whole Life was lyke to a tragical Comedie, in the Beginninge prosperous and joyfull; in the Ende unfortunate and lamentable
So we will not find here the reasons for Perrott’s fall from grace, let alone the unfortunate fact that he was unable to convincingly deny having described the Queen as a ‘base bastard piss-kitchen’. We do, however, have Perrott’s own will, written when he was already under sentence of death, in which he explains of course that it is everyone else’s fault, inspired by a startling though perhaps not very surprising source:
And nowe I make my Complaints to God and all good Men, that I have bene moſt falſelie accuſed through the Malice and Envie of ſome wicked and evill diſpoſed Perſons, Schollers of Machiavelli, that I have been a Tratour to my Soveraygne Queene and Countrie
Sir Nicholas White gets three direct mentions, first as helping to deal with the ‘Canenaughs’ (presumably the Kavanaghs of Carlow), then as one of a number of officials writing a joint letter to the Queen in defence of Perrott in 1585, and then writing a farewell poem to commemorate Perrott’s departure from Ireland in 1588.
It’s an interesting enough primary source, but I’ve done enough reading by now to know that it somewhat exaggerates Perrott’s achievements and almost completely omits his failings. There are more recent and more scholarly (but also much more expensive) books about Perrott, so I will just have to obtain them somehow.