[From Manx Soc vol XXX]
THOMAS BUSHELL was born in Worcestershire in 1594, and educated at Baliol College, Oxford. He was afterwards in the service of Lord Chancellor Bacon, on whose disgrace he retired into Oxfordshire, to reside on his estate. He was strongly attached to the royal cause, and had the honour to entertain Charles I. and his queen at his seat at Road Enstone, near Woodstock, in 1636, when he submitted his celebrated water-works to them with much pageantry, and many speeches and songs took place. Dr. Plot gives a long description of the place. For his services to the king he was made Master of the Royal mines in Wales. In this new appointment he, by permission, established a mint at Aboresky in conjunction with Lord Godolphin, and coined money, which he sent to his sovereign at Oxford. Their mine yielded at one time one hundred pounds worth a week of silver, besides half as much lead.
At the Restoration he was permitted, by Act of Parliament, to work and improve the lead mines of Mendip in Somersetshire.
Bushell, it is said, gloried in a coat splendidly buttoned all over ; whence arose the common jest, on the disgrace of the Chancellor, that he made buttons and his man Bushell wore them,
He died in 1674, and was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey.
It may be added that Charles I. wrote to Bushell a letter, dated " Oxford, 12th June 1643," recounting and attesting his great services, which is printed in Ellis's Original Letters, 2d s. iii. 310. Also, it appears from his petition in August 1660, for the renewal of the lease of Belsize manor, Hampstead, that BusheH married Anne, widow of Sir Wm. Waade, the well-known Lieutenant of the Tower. (Domestic Calendars. Charles II)
With reference to Bushell's burial, Colonel Chester, the ever ready and courteous contributor of any information within his reach, writes as follows, under date 21st August 1869 :-His burial is not recorded in the Official Register of Westminster Abbey, which is. I am sorry to say, very imperfect at that period, and I had some doubt about the fact, inasmuch as some authorities say that he was buried at Lambeth. But, in an old note book of one of the minor canons (which we have recently unearthed among the rubbish in the library of the Abbey), and which I accept as authoritative, I shall print, I find his burial simply as " Coll. Bushell, in the Cloisters, under date of 24th Apl. 1674."
The same gentleman has also furnished from his stores the following nuncupative will :-
"Wee, whose names are hereunder written, having been seuerall tymes to visitt Mr. Thomas Bushell in his sicknes, often heard him expresse himself, with full resolution to make the honourable Colonell Thomas Colleper [" oril sic." in margin] of St. Stephen's, in the county of Kent, his Executor, and, imediatly before he departed this lyfe, being in perfect memory, did, on the one and Twentyth of Aprill present, declare and constitute the said Thomas Collepeper his sole Executor, as his last Will and Testamt. In witnes whereof wee haue hereunto sett our hands this twoe and twentyth of April 1674,-Thomas Coppinger, John Lord, Anthony Winter, the mark of Mary James."
(Proved 23d May 1674 by Thomas Collepeper, the exor. named.)
[In the Probate Act Book the testator is described as late of Euston, co. Oxon, but in the parish of St. Martin's-in-theFields, co. Middx. deceased.]
It is from the MS. history of the island, written by William Blundell, Esq., 1648, and lately printed in the Manx Society's Series, vol. xxv., that we first became acquainted with the " Recluse of the Calf," on which he remarks,-" All Man much glorieth in its calf, and do still retain the memory of that vast wit for inventions, where he late had an hermitical life in ye cave of a hollow rock in this island, and do still talk of his pendant bed (such as the hammocks in ships), and strange diet, but because neither himself is truly under stood, nor his diet related by ye Manksmen, I shall here take ye boldness to insert his own relation of his residence there, which I found set down in his mineral overture to the parliament, thus expressing himself :-'The embrions of his mines proving abortive by the sudden fall and death of my late Lord Chancelour Bacon, in King James's reign, were the motives which persuaded my pensive retirements to a three years' unsociable solitude in ye desolated isle called the Calf of Man, where in obedience to my dead lord's philosophical advice, I resolved to make a perfect experiment upon myself, for the obtaining of a long and healthy life, most necessary for such a repentance as my former debauchedness required, by a parsimonious diet of herbs, oil, mustard, and honey, with water sufficient, most like to yt our long liv'd fathers before the flood, as was conceiv'd by yt lord, which I most strictly observed as if obliged by a religious vow, till Divine Pr. called me to a more active life."'
He built for himself a hut on the very summit of the island, at a height of 470 feet above the sea, and on the verge of an almost perpendicular precipice. It consists of a single room, with a narrow entrance to it, and at one side a recess of about three feet wide and six feet deep, probably intended to contain a bed. The ruins of this hut exist at the present day.
Mr. Thomas Bushell published several papers on mining matters, etc., and among others " An Extract of his late Abridgement of the Lord Chancellor Bacon's Philosophical Theory on Mineral Prosecutions; Testimony of the Miners of Mendyp; Charles I. ; Letter of Invitation ; Certificate from Miners, late of the Mine Royal; Cardigan Judged; the Miner's Contemplative Prayer in his Solitary Delves; Lord Bacon's Atalantis ; the Hermit's Speech, in verse; Hermit's Contemplations upon the Rock, in verse, Mr. Bushell Presenting the Rock by an Echo to the Queen; Sonnet sung to the King and Queen, etc. London, printed by Thomas Leach, 1660."
This very curious book contains a portrait and impression of Mr. Bushell's "Golden Medal."
In the Bookworm (1869), is a very interesting notice of these tracts, which leaves no doubt in the mind of the writer of the article that Bushell " was the canal through which ran the fortunes of Lord Bacon to be sunk in unprofitable mining schemes." The article is illustrated by an engraving of the "Golden Medal." -Vide also Manning and Bray's Survey, iii. 523, and p. cxlix.; and Chambers' Biography of Worcestershire, p. 120.
It is only necessary to add that the Memoir was forwarded to the editor by Charles Jackson, Esq., of Doncaster, some years ago, in order to ascertain if it was suitable for insertion in one of the series of " Manx Miscellanies." The writer, Mr. de la Pryme, was descended from an ancient family of the city of Ypres in Flanders, who afterwards settled at Hatfield, co. York. Francis, a great-great-nephew of "the Diarist," married Jane, daughter of Joseph Cosnahan, Vicar of Braddan, 4th November 1782, for his first wife [Braddan 04Nov1782]; and Hester, daughter of Lewis Geneste, of Douglas, for his second wife [no record found]. Francis' twin brother, Abraham de la Pryme [m. Elizabeth Wheelhouse dau Mary, bp 13Jan1790,Malew], established, in 1779, the first and only cotton-spinning and weaving mill, at Ballasalla, in this island, which had afterwards to be abandoned on account of some difficulty connected with the duties on the importation of yarn from the island into England.1
A pedigree of the de la Pryme family was compiled by Charles Jackson, Esq., of Doncaster, in 1870, and published in the Diary of Abraham de la Pryme by the Surtees Society.
It would appear that Bushell was not the only recluse that had made the Calf of Man his residence ; for there is a tradition that it was formerly tenanted by a man who retired to this wild spot in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, imposing upon himself a solitary residence as a penance for having killed a beautiful woman in a fit of jealousy. This legend of The Island Penitent is printed in the Manx Society's Series, vol. xxi. p. 281. W. H.
ROCK MOUNT, May 1878.
1 His petition to the "Commissioners of inquiry," dated 21st October 1791, is printed in Appendix B, No. 92, of their Report, 1792.
THOMAS BUSHEL, Esquire, lived in King James the First, King Charles the First, and King Charles the Second's time; was descended of a good- family, and was a very ingenious and learned man, but of no great estate, so that he was in some sort of office several years under the famous Chancellor Bacon, and became so in love with the experimental studies of that worthy lord that he spent all the money therein that he could possibly spare, so that, in the year 1623, when his great master was accused and convicted of bribery, which he was never really guilty of, but his men, and amongst the rest this Mr. Bushel, yet did not commit the same neither the one nor the other out of love of money, but only for the carrying on of his ingenious studies ; yet the storm fell so severe, beyond all expectation, that the Lord Chancellor never regained his post again, nor Mr. Bushel his neither, for he, to wit Mr. Bushel, thinking it not wise to stay to see what the severe parliament would do to him, who had dealt severely enough with his master, got away in disguise and went into the Isle of Wight,2 and turned a poor fisherman there. Some months after that he had with a great deal of patience and labour followed that calling, he met, by chance, near unto the Needles in the same Isle, with an old man. He fell into discourse with him, and asked him several questions of his sad condition, who gave Mr. Bushel to understand that his profession was a begoar by descent, saying that his father before him was one, and was born lame by a natural cause, and that the same grief became hereditary to himself, being his only son, which he willingly embraced as a legacy given him from a Divine power. Ever since his deceased father had assured him that he which was born lame, blind, or deaf, was a true beggar to ask in Christ's behalf the charity of the rich, and that they should be the only witnesses of their stewardship at the great day of account. After that the ingenious old bee, ar had said thus, and a great deal more, Mr. Bushel, as they were walking alono, o' th'road, asked him furder if he was really contented in his heart with his condition, and did not repine at other people's prosperity when he was denied at their doors alms to relieve his neces sity? to which he modestly replied that there was a God above that well knew that he never envied any man's great ness, nor wished to change his poverty affliction for their daily felicities, because that, as he said, his own account would be the more easy to make at the great judgment than the others that live in variety of pleasures, etc.; which discourse, with a great deal more to the same purpose, was so exceedincy pleasant to Mr. Bushel that he was almost ravished therewith, so that at their departure he put his hand in his pocket and gave him a half-faced groat to get his acquaintance, telling him that Providence had given him it in the value of a draught of fish the day before, which he took very kindly, and promised Mr. Bushel that if Providence ever brouoht him near his little fisher's cottage he would call and see him, which Mr. Bushel took exceedingly kindly. After tliis, as soon as Mr. Bushel got home, he writ the following letter to his master the lord Bacon *~-- (c My only lord-Observing your precepts as oracles that if my prodigality continued it would certainly berewarded with reproach and Poverty I did, upon second thoughts, think fit, in the first step to my amendment, to become a fisherman's cottager from your princely service rather than such high b tructions should remain in me by conveniency to the 0 S years of old age, and to embrace raither the conversation of a beggar's society, with his principles here enclosed which I look upon as the shepherds star to guide my perverse will in the rules of reason; for, since my profuse carriage did sway me so much as I could not withstand a temptation when I beheld the object of evil, but raither grew to be worse and worse, I am resolved now to become your lordship's beadsman in some solitary cell, and endeavour to make myself worthy of your honours command in the other world," etc.
About Sunday month after Providence brought the old man into the church porch of the town whete Mr. Bushel dwelt, to hear divine service, and, as it happened, Mr. Bushel was set there too, with his fisher's weeds on, by his master, where he lodged. As soon as he came in Mr. Bushel rises up and would have had him take his place, but he would not, but told him he, would stand. But as soon as service was ended they complimented one another mightily, so that several took notice of it, and inquired of the old man who Mr. Bushel was, and how they came acquainted, etc., which the old man telling, a rumour began to run over the island that Mr. Bushel was a disauised French spy, such a one as lately but a while before attempted to betray the island to the French. In order to which inquest the chief man of the parish invited the fisherman and his wife (where Mr. Bushel lodged) to supper, and desired them to bring Mr. Bushel along with thein, who, being accordingly come, was very civilly and kindly entertained by the gentleman, who, afterwards, in very obliging terms, began to tell Mr. Bushel what the country thought of him, and told him, saying that if he would be but pleased to relate unto him the truth of his coming thither, no man should be more his servant than himself, adding that it might be possible for public distastes to cause private resolutions in the hearts of the greatest persons ; and, therefore (if it might be suitable to his own reason to unfold the cause and make him of his cabinet council), the interest he had as lord of the place, "You, sir," says he, "shall command, without the least prejudice to yourself for fear of invading those composers of your quiet."
For which great courtesy Mr. Bushel heartily thanked him, but withal told him that if he desired his name, and the occasion of his repose, it would not be in his power to do him a private civility, for, being once known, the place of his residence would be then as obnoxious to his mind as it was now pleasing to his senses, and theTOunto added that to be forward in searching more after him was to disoblige a stranger that coveted his acquaintance and friendship, etc.; and so they parted.
Mr. Bushel, being not at all afraid of any mischief that could come, heeded not, but followed on his fishing trade, and meeting by chance with the old man aforesaid, a day or two after, they sat them down on the green grass, and the beggar, opening his budcet, drew forth bread and cheese, and after that they had eaten together heartily thereof, and had had a great deal of discourse of the begging trade, they departed.
But, a while after, Mr. Bushel was summoned by the governor of the island upon the old score of his being a spy, who found him so rigidly bent to make him his prisoner, refusing to be satisfied with any answer made, Mr. Bushel was forced to contrive a sudden way to get off, which was this :-He turned him suddenly about to three ladies that stood by at his examination, and made a most pathetic speech and lamentation to them, that he was a poor, unfortunate, dis(yuised, discontented lover, that he had lost the mistress of his heart by death, which had almost made him distracted, and that he could not assuage that passion of affection remaining with him in remembrance of her fidelity, unless he should inter himself in her tomb, or use this means of solitude to ease his groanincy spirit and afflicted mind; that therefore he hoped that their compassionate natures would favour him with their pity, and palliate the governor's fury through their familiar acquaintance. If they had ever been in love themselves, or did believe that there was such a prevalent power in that passion after the death of his or her dearly beloved friend, etc. Which speech, uttered with a great deal of grace and pretended affection, wrought so upon the tender hearts of the ladies, that they rose up like lightning, got the warrant for his commitment and tore it in pieces. But the governor, being too hard to be conquered in his old age by women, caused a new warrant to be made, and accordingly signed it to secure this person his prisoner. When Mr. Bushel saw this he fell into a great passion, and then disclosed his name, having before heard that the parliament had made his master, the Chancellor, make an atonement for all their crimes by divesting him of his honourable employment. Having heard all this before, but being willing to live in that way he had gotten in a while longer, he let himself be suspected as before, and then, at his last examination, disclosed his name, in a great passion, and whose servant he was, -with contempt to the governor's power, who no sooner knew his name but dismissed him.
Dinner then comme, in, he took his leave, particularly of the ladies, complimented them exceedingly, and gave them an interpretation of the mistress of his heart that was dead, etc., and told them that the mother should sooner forget her child than he their noble civilities, adding that he would wait upon them in another habit before that he set forth to London, and that he would perpetually commemorate their goodness unto him.
No sooner was all quiet and peaceable again at London but that this gentleman returned thither again from his fishing trade to his old mother, who was exceeding kind to him, and kept him in continual talk of mineral prosecutions, the secrets of nature in mines, and the ways of digging for metals, which was a study so grateful to Mr. Bushel that he was reckoned one of the most knowing in such things of any of his time.
In 1626 his great lord and master, the Chancellor, departed this life,3 which struck Mr. Bushel into a great damp; yet not so suddenly but that he gave Mr. Bushel a great many rules and directions how to proceed in the search of mineral beds, to impose the task upon himself of going and living privately by some mines, where he might study and see things done, etc.; which advice LMr. Bushel accordingly took, for, as soon as the funeral pomp was ended, he accordingly disposed of things relating to his estate in the best order he could, and then, taking leave of all his friends, he went with a man to the Isle of Lundy,4 in the Irish Sea, in the mouth of Severn, famous for its being not only moated about by sea, but walled likewise so with inaccessible rocks that there is no ascending up to the same but by one place, and that with great difficulty, too.
Here King Edward the Second fled to shelter himself from his wicked wife and rebellious subjects; here likewise William Marsh, a famous pirate, kept himself in King Henry the Thirds tiine ; and here now did Mr. Bushel betake himself to spend some time in solitary contemplations and studies, before that he would dare to attempt the public showiin(y of any of the vast mineral knowledge that was lodged in him, both by his great master's discoveries and his own labour and study.
Having abided here in this solitary place almost three years, he took his leave of the same about the latter end of August 1628, and came into Oxfordshire to see his friends and relations and the little estate that he had left. Having viewed all, he could not settle amongst them, but betook himself to one of his own houses in Oxfordshire, where, hard by, in his own ground, was a great natural cave outof a rock, and out of the same flowed a curious spring. This he began to contemplate on as soon as he got here, and was so exceedingly taken therewith that he was resolved',there to make all the curious fine waterworks and artificial conclusions that could be imaained ; and when that he had turned it to a kind of a paradise, to take up his habitation therein all the days of his life, like as the famous Guy, Earl of Warwick, did in his cliff yet to be seen near Warwick.
Mr. Bushel had no sooner thought of those things but that he begins immediately to contrive and get workmen to perform the same, who in a year's time made a wonderful pretty place of the same, which attracted the admiration of all the gentlemen round about, so much that in 1636, when King Charles the First happened to be in that county, hearing thereof, went on purpose out of his way to see it,, where Mr. Bushel, though he was taken unawares, yet gave a royal moderate entertainment, and showed him all the wonders of his solitary habitation. He made them see and hear such artificial thunders and lightnings, rain, hail showers, drums beating, organs playing, birds singing, waters murmuring all sorts of tunes, etc., that nothing almost could be more natural and more surprising unto the king and all his company. After all which, the king falliner into discourse with Mr. Bushel, he told him that he had been a servant for many years of the famous Chancellor Bacon, that he had been employed by him in all philosophical studies, but that his inclination and genius had almost ruined him, by leading him to mineral studies and discoveries ; that therefore he was forced to keep his mind employed with these artificial curiosities for fear that it should lead him to the searching into the bowels of the earth, or to travel, either of which might ruin him, who had but a small estate left. Having said this, and a great deal more, the king was exceedingly pleased, and said he would remember him, not only for the Chancellor's sake, but also for his own worthy parts ; and then, after abundance of thanks and compliments, they all departed.
The year after both the king and queen made a journey to behold all the rarities of Mr. Bushel's paradise again, which Mr. Bushel getting private knowledge of before, prepared niany more fide curiosities against their coming, and accommodated them with curious songs, echoes, and music, all sounding out of rocks, stones, and trees, that lay or stood before them.
1 Taken from the MS. Diary of the Rev. Abraham de la Pryme, in the possession of Francis Westby Bagshawe, Esq., of the Oaks, near Sheffield.
2 It would appear from this that Bushell had made a temporary retirement to the Isle of Wight before he retired to the Calf of Man for his three years' sojourn.
3 Lord Bacon died April 9, 1626, aged 66.
4 Lundy, an island in the mouth of the Bristol
Channel, near the middle, between Devonshire and Pembrokeshire. Lon.
4, 33 W., lat. 51, 15 N. (Brookes's Gazetteer). This may have
been another of his places of retirement, but we have chiefly to rely
on his own statement, made in his Mineral Overture to the
Parliament, that the Calf of Man was the place he had selected for
his place of study.
At one time it appears that Bushell was in charge of Lundy Isle for Charles I., and during the king's falling fortunes he writes for permission to surrende it up quietly, and concluded as follows:-" But if otherwise your Majesty shall require my longer stay here, be coiifident, sir, I shall sacrifice both life and fortune before the loyalty of your obedient servant. -THOMAS BUSHELL. " To this letter the king replied from Newcastle :- " Bushell-We have perused your letter, in which we finde thy care to answer thy trust we first reposed in thee. Now, since the place is inconsiderable in itself, we do hereby give you leave to use your discretion in it. "