Nonfiction > Lucy Hutchinson > Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson
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Lucy Hutchinson (1620–1681).  Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson.  1906.
 
The Life of John Hutchinson
[1616]
 
Of Owthorpe, in the County of Nottingham, Esquire

HE was the eldest surviving son of Sir Thomas Hutchinson, and the Lady Margaret, his first wife, one of the daughters of Sir John Biron, of Newstead, in the same county, two persons so eminently virtuous and pious in their generations, that to descend from them was to set up in the world upon a good stock of honour, which obliged their posterity to improve it, as much as it was their privilege to inherit their parents’ glories. Sir Thomas was he that removed his dwelling to Owthorpe; his father, though he was possessor of that lordship, having dwelt at Cropwell, another town, within two miles of which he had an inheritance, which, if I mistake not, was the place where those of the family that began to settle the name in this county, first fixed their habitation. The family for many generations past have been of good repute in Yorkshire, and there is yet a gentleman in that county, descendant of the elder house, that possesses a fair estate and reputation in his father’s ancient inheritance. 1 They have been in Nottinghamshire for generations; wherein I observe that as if there had been an Agrarian law in the family, as soon as they arrived to any considerable fortune beyond his who was first transplanted hither, they began other houses, of which one is soon decayed and worn out in an unworthy branch (he of Basford), another begins to flourish, and long may it prosper. 2 It is further observable in their descent that though none of them before Sir Thomas Hutchinson advanced beyond an esquire, yet they successively matched into all the most eminent and noble families in the country; which shows that it was the unambitious genius of the family rather than their want of merit, which made them keep upon so even a ground, after their first achievements had set them on a stage elevated enough from the vulgar, to perform any honourable and virtuous actions. I spoke with one old man who had known five generations of them in these parts, where their hospitality, their love to their country, their plain and honest conversation with all men, their generous and unambitious inclinations, had made the family continue as well beloved and reputed as any of the prouder houses in the country. 3 Although they changed not their titles, yet every succession increased the real honour of their house. One disadvantage they had, that few of them were so long lived as to prevent their sons from the bondage of wardship, whereby they fell into the hands of wicked guardians, that defaced instead of cultivating their seats, and made every heir a new planter. Sir Thomas Hutchinson, as I have heard, was not about eight years of age when his father died, and his wardship fell into the hands of an unworthy person, Sir Germaine Poole, who did him so many injuries, that he was fain, after he came of age, to have suits with him. This so raised the malice of the wicked man that he watched an opportunity to assassinate him unawares, and as Sir Thomas was landing out of a boat at the Temple stairs in London, Poole having on a private coat, with some wicked assistants, before he was aware, gave him some cuts on the head and his left hand that was upon the boat; but he full of courage drew his sword, ran at Poole and broke his weapon, which could not enter his false armour; whereupon he run in to him, resolved not to be murdered without leaving some mark on the villain, bit off his nose, and then, by the assistance God sent him of an honest waterman, being rescued, he was carried away so sorely wounded that his life was in some danger: but the fact being made public, his honourable carriage in it procured him a great deal of glory, and his adversary carried the mark of his shame to the grave. 4 After this, returning into the country, he there lived with very much love, honour, and repute; but having been tossed up and down in his youth and interrupted in his studies he grew into such an excessive humour for books, that he wholly addicted himself to them; and deeply engaging in school divinity, spent even his hours of meat and sleep among his books, with such eagerness, and though he himself attained a high reputation of learning thereby and indeed a great improvement in wisdom and piety, yet he too much deprived his dear friends and relations of his conversation. When he was entered into this studious life, God took from him his dear wife, who left him only two weak children; and then being extremely afflicted for so deplorable a loss, he entertained his melancholy among the old fathers and schoolmen, instead of diverting it; and having furnished himself with the choicest library in that part of England, it drew to him all the learned and religious men thereabouts, who found better resolutions from him than from any of his books. Living constantly in the country, 5 he could not be exempted from administering justice among them, which he did with such equity and wisdom, and was such a defender of the country’s interest, that, without affecting it at all, he grew the most popular and most beloved man in the country, even to the envy of those prouder great ones that despised the common interest. What others sought, he could not shun, being still sought by the whole county, to be their representative, to which he was several times elected, and ever faithful to his trust and his country’s interest, though never approving violence and faction. He was a man of a most moderate and wise spirit, but still so inclined to favour the oppressed saints and honest people of those times, that, though he conformed to the government, the licentious and profane encroachers upon common native rights branded him with the reproach of the world, though the glory of good men—Puritanism; yet notwithstanding he continued constant to the best interest, and died at London in the year 1643, a sitting member of that glorious Parliament that so generously attempted, and had almost effected, England’s perfect liberty. He was a person of great beauty and comeliness in all ages, 6 of a bounteous and noble nature, of clear courage, sweet and affable conversation, of a public spirit, of great prudence and reputation, a true lover of all pious learned persons, and no less of honest plain people; of a most tender conscience, and therefore declaring much for and endeavouring moderation, if it had been possible in the beginning of our wars that the greatest wisdom could have cast on any drops of healing counsel, to have allayed the furious rage of both parties. Though never man was a deeper nor truer mourner than he for his first wife, yet that long drooping grief did but soften his heart for the impression of a second love, which he conceived for a very honourable and beautiful lady, who was Katherine, the youngest daughter of Sir John Stanhope, of Elvaston, a noble family in Derbyshire, by whom he had a son and two daughters surviving him, not unworthy of their family.
  1
  Mr. John Hutchinson, the eldest of his surviving sons, by his first wife, was born at Nottingham in the month of September in the year 1616. 7 That year there had been a great drought, by reason of which the country would not afford his father any provision for his stables, so that he was forced to remove from Owthorpe to winter in the town of Nottingham, somewhat before his lady’s time of account. She being in the coach on her way thither, and seeing her husband in some danger by reason of a mettled horse he rid upon, took a fright, and was brought to bed the next day, as they imagined some three weeks before her time, and they were confirmed in that opinion by the weakness of the child, which continued all his infancy. When he was born there was an elder brother in the family, but he died a child. Two years and a half after this Mr. George Hutchinson, his younger brother, was born at Owthorpe; and half a year after his birth the two children lost their mother, who died of a cold she had taken, and was buried at Owthorpe. She was a lady of as noble family as any in the county, of an incomparable shape and beauty, embellished with the best education those days afforded; and above all had such a generous virtue joined with attractive sweetness, that she captivated the hearts of all that knew her. She was pious, liberal, courteous, patient, kind above an ordinary degree, ingenuous to all things she would apply herself to; and notwithstanding she had had her education at court, was delighted in her own country habitation, and managed all her family affairs better than any of the homespun housewives, that had been brought up to nothing else. She was a most affectionate wife, a great lover of her father’s house, showing that true honour to parents is the leading virtue, which seldom wants the concomitancy of all the rest of honour’s train. She was a wise and bountiful mistress in her family, a blessing to her tenants and neighbourhood, and had an indulgent tenderness to her infants; but death veiled all her mortal glories in the 26th year of her age. The stories I have received of her have been but scanty epitaphs of those things which were worthy of a large chronicle, and a better recorder than I can be; I shall therefore draw again the sable curtain before that image which I have ventured to look at a little, but dare not undertake to discover to others. One that was present at her death told me that she had an admirable voice, and skill to manage it; and that she went away singing a psalm, which this maid apprehended she sung with so much more than usual sweetness, as if her soul had been already ascended into the celestial choir.  2
 
Note 1. At Wykeham Abbey, in the county of York, where it is believed they still reside.—J. H. [back]
Note 2. It stood only two generations; the last possessor, who was the great-grandson of Sir Thomas Hutchinson, directing by his will the estate to be sold, and the produce given to strangers.—J. H. [back]
Note 3. Sir Thomas Hutchinson’s son and grandson fell no way short of him in this.—J. H. [back]
Note 4. This is a singular tale, and savours almost too much of the ridiculous for the gravity of an historian: however, Rushworth recites a story of this same man not a little resembling it, in the appendix to his second vol. ‘Sir German Poole vowed revenge against a Mr. Brighthouse, shot two pistols at him out of a window, set two servants on him with swords, who ran him through the cloak between the arm and body, but killed him not, he defending himself effectually till Sir German came on, who wounded him, and for which he and another were committed to the Fleet, fined £1100, etc’. This does not seem to have cured him; perhaps the mark set on him by Sir Thomas H. succeeded better. Did Charles the Second take the hint from this when he set assassins to slit Mr. Coventry’s nose, which caused the Coventry act to pass?—J. H. [back]
Note 5. Country here and in many other places in these Memoirs signifies county. [back]
Note 6. His picture remained at Owthorpe, and very well justified this description, and is now in the editor’s possession in high preservation. For the bounty and nobleness of his nature take this instance from Thoroton’s History of Notts. ‘Henry Sacheverell, Esq., being dissatisfied with his only daughter for an improper marriage, left the whole estate at Ratcliff upon Soar to Sir Thomas Hutchinson, his sister’s son, who willingly divided it with the disinherited lady’. His moiety came afterwards to Alderman Ireton, being sacrificed to him through necessity by Col. Hutchinson, as will hereafter be shown.—J. H. [back]
Note 7. Mrs. Hutchinson is here in error. The great drought took place in 1615; and it also appears from the registers of St. Mary’s, Nottingham, that John, son of Mr. Thomas Hutchinson, was born on September 18, 1615. Vide Brown, Worthies of Nottinghamshire, p. 190. [back]
 
 
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