that there had been a ‘generall plage of
rebelling,’ but that Kent, Sussex and Essex, and all the parts near
London have meekly confessed their folly and pray for the king’s most
gracious pardon.63 In May 1550, letters were directed
by the Council to Mr. Culpeper, the sheriff, and others to assemble the
gentlemen and prevent ‘a conspiracy wrought among the commons as well
of that shire as of Sussex’ for an insurrection.63 One
Upcharde, of Bocking, was brought before the Council for having an
unlawful assembly of more than 6o persons in his house in January 1551.
The meeting seems to have been concerned with matters of religion, with
which indeed most of the risings at this time were probably connected.65
Though the accession of Queen Mary took place without disturbance
in the county, the announcement of her Spanish betrothal led to an ‘unlawful
scurrye.’66 Sir Thomas Wyatt’s rebellion would have been
more serious than it was, had not the precipitancy of his Devonshire
confederates forced him to act before his preparations were complete,
but even so, it was the most formidable of the insurrections that
resulted from ‘the coming of the Spaniards into the realm.’ Wyatt
made an armed demonstration at Maidstone67 25 January
two days earlier Sir Robert Southwell, sheriff of Kent, had sent the
Council depositions concerning words spoken by William Isley, son of Sir
Harry Isley, inciting to rebellion.68 Depositions of
witnesses show that Sir Harry Isley and Sir Thomas Culpeper were
responsible for the alarm being rung at Hadlow 69 and
Tonbridge70 and probably many other places, and Sir Harry
Isley’s name appears with those of Wyatt, Sir George Harper and
Anthony Knevett in a proclamation declaring Lord Abergavenny, Sir Robert
Southwell, and George Clark to be traitors to God, the crown and the
commonwealth.71 This testifies to the activity of these
gentlemen in dealing with the insurrection. By 28 January, the Duke of
Norfolk was able to inform the Council that Sir George Harper had come
over from the rebels,72 and Lord Cobham and Sir John Fogg
were at Gravesend with a force not exceeding 300 men. On being informed
by Norfolk that he intended to march against Wyatt, who had fortified
Rochester Bridge, Cobham warned him not to advance too far. It seems to
have been the opinion of the local gentry that Norfolk’s proceedings
were altogether too hasty.73 The desertion of the Londoners
under Brett to Wyatt’s camp at Rochester had been followed by that of
a considerable number of Lord Abergavenny’s men. These desertions had
hampered Norfolk, who with the aid of the Lord Warden attempted to fall
on the rear of Wyatt’s forces and to cut him off on his march to
Deptford.74 Cobham was attacked by Wyatt on 30 January, and
obliged to surrender Cowling Castle.75 In spite of his
previous exertions and his refusal to join Wyatt, Cobham fell under
suspicion, and was imprisoned in the Tower. He was, however, pardoned at
the intercession of Count D’Egmont.76
In a skirmish near Wrotham, 28 January, the rebels, who were led by Sir
63 Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. XII, App. iv, p. 42.
64 Acts P.C. iii,
65 Ibid. iii, 117; iv, 168.
66 So described by the Council, writing for the queen, February
MSS. Com. Rep. X, App. iv,
449. This letter declares that the examination of the prisoners shows
that really ‘their smale meaning was to have destroyed our person.’
67 His own home, Allington Castle, where he was born, was in the
68 Cal. S.P. Dom. 1547-80, p. 56.
60. 70 Ibid.
73 Cal. S.F. Dom. 1547-80, p.
58. 74 Ibid. 58, 59.
76 Ibid. 61.