THE ANATOMY OF THE ENGLISH NVNNERY AT LISBON in PORTVGALL. DISSECTED AND laid open by one that was some­time a yonger Brother of the COVENT: Who (if the grace of God had not preuented him) might haue growne as old in a wicked life as the oldest amongst them.


—Caecum (que) domus scelus omne retexit.

Published by Authoritie.

LONDON, Printed by GEORGE PVRSLOWE, for Robert Mylbourne, and Philemon Stephens: and are to be sold at the great South doore of Rauls. 1622.

TO THE RIGHT VVORSHIPFVLL Mr THOMAS GVRLIN, MAIOR OF THE NO LESSE ancient then loyall and wel-gouerned towne of Kings-Lynne in Norfolke, and his Worshipfull Brethren the Aldermen of the same, &c.

THE industrious and pain­full Sea-man, Right Wor­shipfull (that I may goe no farther for an example then mine owne professi­on, because quod supranos, nihil ad nos) being a long time crossed with vnfauourable windes, persisteth notwith­standing in attempting to attaine to his de­sired Port: which not beeing able to at­chieue directly and vpon a precise rhomb or point, he maketh his way by diuers Mae­anders [Page] and crooked turnings, lying some­times East, and anon West, so neere his course as the winde will permit, and by this meanes at length he ankoreth in the wish­ed harbour. Euen so my selfe hauing of a long time desired to recouer some fit oc­casion or meanes (as my most wished port) to expresse a thankefull minde vnto your Worships, for no small benefits formerly conferred vpon me, (& benè apud memores veteris stat gratia facti) could neuer through contrarie windes of aduerse fortune arriue there in safety: but haue had a long trauerse to and fro, with little likelihood of fairer weather, till now at length with my bow­lins sharpe haled (pardon I pray you my ru­der Sea-phrase) I haue doubled the Cape of good Hope: from whence I am bold to send you this first returne of what I long since tooke vp of you vpon interest, it be­ing notwithstanding no way of worth to countervaile any (though the least) part of the debt I owe you. For it is now some yeeres agone that I set sayle from the Hauen of your help, bound for the Port of Pru­dence, [Page] (the Vniuersity of Cambridge) beeing fully fraughted with your fauour & friend­ship: where, through mine owne negli­gence, (let mee euer sigh to remember it) hauing foreslowed my best market, and letting go my most precious commodity, (my Time) at an vnder-value, I remained a great loser by my voyage; not beeing able to make vnto you (my Worshipfull credi­tors) such satisfaction as you might iustly expect. And now entring into a conside­ration of your gentle forbearance of me, I doomed my selfe worthy to beare the brand of Ingratitude, if I should forget you. Whereupon, not as any part of pay­ment, but as a recognizance and acknow­ledgement of that debt and dutie, which I owe to your Wps, I presume to send you this insuing discourse, being not more plain in the manner, then true in the matter. If you shall daigne to giue it fauourable ac­ceptance, I haue what I desired, and in the hope thereof (alwaies praying for your prosperitie and welfare) I rest

Your Worships dutifull debtor, THOMAS ROBINSON.

To the indifferent Reader.

READER, if the Title of this Booke, being The Anatomy of the English Nunnery at Lis­bon, doe make thee expect some Chyrurgicall mysteries, or profound Lecture vpon a dissected bodie, let me satisfie thee, and saue thee a labour of reading it; for thou art much deceiued: the Author hereof is a man of no such Science; being better skilled in Ta [...]kes, Sheats, Braces, Bowlins, &c. (strange words perchance to thy vnderstanding, and yet no canting) then in veines, sinewes, muscles, and arteries. Yet what hee promiseth by the Title, hee hath performed in the Treatise, and hath truly anatomized this handmayd of the Whore of Babylon; laying open her principall veines and sinewes in such sort, that hee is bold to chal­lenge the proudest Doctor of her acquaintance to traduce his worke, or to taxe him of the least vntruth in what he hath written: for here is no [Page] thing published, but what his owne experience, being optima magistra, hath taught him, and whereof he hath beene oculatus testis. Onely the phrase he vseth is like himselfe, blunt and vnelegant; for ex quolibet ligno non fit Mercurius: winke therefore a little at the me­thod, and suruey the matter it selfe with the wide open eyes of thy vnderstanding, and spare not. And if thou be not already addicted too much to Poperie, thou mayst peraduenture find a preseruatiue against it. Howsoeuer, here it presenteth it selfe to the view of the world; bee it well or ill accepted, it maketh not much mat­ter: for the Authour will alwayes carry this comfort about him, A good Conscience is a continuall feast. Vale.

T. R.


HAVING by reason of my Cal­ling beene oftentimes occasioned to trauell beyond the Seas: it so chanced that I was once (through diuers accidents) driuen to haue some conference with father Seth, alias, Ioseph Foster an English Frier in Lisbon, and the sole Confessor of a Couent of English Nunnes re­siding in the same Cittie; who by his subtill and wily fetches inticed me to abide with him in the house, imploying me dayly in copying out certaine Treatises of Obedience, which hee had composed for the Nunnes. And after a while hauing depri­ued mee of meanes to depart from him, by taking away my apparell, and putting me into a disguized foolish habite (of which I was heartily ashamed) both hee and the Abbesse, with some others of the [Page 2] sisters (as they cal them) neuer ceased to vrge me by deepe-dissembled intreaties & perswasions, vntill I had giuen consent to become a holy Brother and Masse-priest in the house, for I had soone attained to more skill in the Rubrick, then euery shaueling is ordinarily accustomed to haue, and could readily There are not a few Fryers and Priests that haue no other meanes to finde their Masse; and when they haue found it, (if you would hang them) they are not able to construe two lines of it. find out and know any Masse by the great Let­ter at the beginning of it; and more then that, I could sing Aue regina, & Salue Sancta parens, which is learning enough in conscience for any Abbey­lubber, vnlesse hee bee too vnreasonable. So that now there wanted nothing to my taking of Or­ders, saue onely that my minority and want of yeeres hindred it; wherefore in the meane time I continued in writing ouer diuers bookes for them, and amongst the rest, the Register of their House, whereby I came to some vnderstanding of their e­state, beginning and successe vntill this present, which for the satisfaction of the Reader, I thought good to set downe as briefely as I could, before I proceed any farther, or speake of their manners and conuersation.

First therefore for the House. The Nuns there­of doe challenge (and indeed truely) a succession from the Abbey of Sion in England, now belonging vnto the Earle of Northumber land, See Stowes Chronicle at large. which house, together with another Monasterie of Carthusian Monkes, called Shyne, beeing both scituated vpon the Thames, were erected and built by King Henry the 5. at his returne from his famous Conquest in France. In which two houses, he established an Or­der, [Page 3] that to the end of the world there should bee an alternate course of Prayer; so that when the one had finished their deuotions, the other should in­stantly begin. And beeing thus founded, that of Shyne was peopled with Carthusian Monkes, & the other with Nuns and Friers of St Brigets Order.

But when it pleased the Lord of his infinit mercy to disperse and scatter those thicke clouds of igno­rance and Superstition, which had a long time be­dimmed the eyes, and darkned the vnderstanding of our forefathers, and that the glorious light of the Gospell began to bee more and more resplen­dent in the latter end of the Reigne of King Henry the 8. then as well these Houses, as all other of the like superstition were subuerted, and abolished, and the people of them either dismissed and sent home to their friends, or else continuing more obstinate­ly in their blinde zeale, exiled; saue onely some few who for withstanding the Kings Supremacy, recei­ued the reward of Traitors. Amongst which Father Raynolds the Confessor of these Nunnes was exe­cuted. In memory of whom, they haue painted his Picture & manner of execution vpon their Church walles, esteeming him as a holy Martyr amongst them, as good as either Althongh that Campian, Garnet, and such other of the Iesuites as dyed for Treason, are no canonized Saints; yet are they beatified by the Pope, which is the highest step to canonization: and euery one of them is painted vp in the Iesuites Churches, with the Title of Bea­tus Pater. St Campian, or Beatus Pa­ter Henricus Garnet, although that amongst the Iesuites these are little lesse then Saints.

After the death of this their ghostly Father, both they and the Carthusians of Shyne, translated them­selues, and diuers of their If they carried no reliques with them, it maketh not much matter, for little worth is that scull or dead mans bone, which will not by be­comming a holy relick, adde some­thing to the Popes Exche­quer. Reliques and trinkets beyond the Seas into Flanders. And the successors [Page 4] of these banished runnagates, are now the onely stumpe which remaineth of that huge tree, that whilome ouerspred and shaddowed our whole Country: which the Papists (in regard these two houses had both one foundation, and were as it were linked and tyed the one to the other) do hold as miraculous, and doe take it as a sure signe and token of their future returne from banishment; The Register booke of their bouse, telleth of many of these prophesies which were spoken by sundry of the Sisters vpon their death-bed. nay, some of the holiest of our vnholy Sisters, haue not doubted (I thinke in imitation of the old Sybils) to prophesie of another golden age, when they shall againe be installed in Syon: but ‘Admiranda canunt, sed non credenda sorores.’

I know my Sisters at Lisbon for false prophets in more things then one. In the meane time they of Shyne remaine at Macklyn in the Low-Countries; and the Nunnes of Syon, after many transmigrati­ons from Sierick-zee to their brethren at Macklyn, and from thence to Roan, doe now reside at Lis­bon. And this shall suffice for the foundation of the house, and the successe thereof till this present. And now (by the way) it shall not be likewise much amisse for the satisfaction of such as haue not been acquainted with Friers businesse, in a word or two to declare the originall of both these Orders, and from what Patrons they first descended. For in the Catholique Romane Church, amongst all the disordered orders of swarming Locusts, which are almost innumerable, there is none but take their beginning from one supposed Saint or other: and as the rest, so these.

[Page 5] For the Carthusians sprung vp from Reade Surius vpon the life of Bruno. one Bru­no in the kingdome of France, who is said to haue beene present at the Funerall of a certaine Priest reputed for a holy man in his life: but when they were executing the office of the dead for him, (ac­cording to the vse of the Papists) it seemed they had beene deceiued in their imagination. For when the Deacon was come to the Lesson which beginneth Responde mihi quantas habeo iniquita­tes, &c. the dead man suddenly start vp, and said, Vocatus sum, or accufatus sum, chuse you whether; whereupon they deferred his Obsequies vntill the next day, being all amazed at what had happened; when proceeding the second time, and comming to the same words againe, the dead body made answer, Iudicatus sum. Then the third time they be­gan their Seruice, and at the same Responde he sate vp and said, Condemnatus sum: wherewith this Bruno beeing stricken into an extreme feare, and much troubled, to thinke, that a man so generally reputed for holy, should yet be damned; determi­ned to lead a most austere and solitary life: and to that end being accompanied with a few others, whom he had made priuy to his purpose, he depar­ted to a desart stupendious mountaine called Car­thusia, where he liued (as they say) in great regula­ritie, and from the name of that hill, they came to be called Carthusians; and to this day they pretend more seuerity and strictnesse of discipline, then any other Order of Monks or Friers what soeuer. How­beit they remained not long in such solitarie and [Page 6] vnfrequented places, but by little and little obtai­ned their houses in euery great Cittie and towne, as magnificent, yea and more sumptuous then their fellow-Locusts, witnesse the Charter-house in London, which was once a Cage of these vncleane birds.

Now for the other house of Syon: the Nunnes thereof take their beginning from their holy mo­thers Reade the re­uelations of Saint Briget. Saint Briget, and her daughter Saint Ka­therine. This Saint Briget was of the blood Royall of Suetia; a woman (questionlesse) of a good vnder­standing and singular memory, howbeit miserably seduced and led away by the subtill allurements of her ghostly father, by whose perswasions and counsell, she went to Rome as a Pilgrime, and com­ming before the Pope, she pretended to haue di­uers reuelations from God; amongst which, one was for the founding of this Order of Nunnes, which was indeed the chiefe marke, that both her ghostly father and she aymed at. The rest of her pretended inspirations, were for the reforming of sundry abuses in the Church. Yea, she spared not to tell the Popes holinesse of many faults in him­selfe: but he (like a good blood-hound) quickely scented her, and followed her footing, till he plain­ly perceiued from whom she was sent: who (being a fellow that might vpon distaste prooue a Schis­matique, and make some reuolt in those remote Countries, from the Romane Church) he thought best to be winked at; and thereupon condescended vnto her request, touching the erecting of a house [Page 7] of this Order, and so dismissed her. But she liued not long after, (whether his Holinesse had procu­red some modicum to bee ministred vnto her or no, it is doubtfull) yet in her daughters dayes the busi­nesse came to perfection: and the first House of this Order was at a place called Watsteen in Sweth­land, from whence certaine Nunnes were procu­red into England, to propagate their Rules and Ceremonies in Syon house, at the time when it was first built.

The magnificence of this Couent in former times hath beene by the report of the now-liuing Nunnes very admirable: at this present it is not of any extraordinarie repute; neither are the people of it for birth and parentage equall to their prede­cessors, who were wont to bee of good discent: whereas now (saue onely a few) they are Recusants daughters of the meaner sort, and silly tender-hear­ted chambermaids, who haue had the custodie of such Seminaries and Iesuits, as resorted to their Masters houses in England, at such times as they haue beene mewed vp for feare of Crosse and his A perillous Curre to smell out a Iesuite, or a Seminary, though they had beene neuer so closely cooped vp. Dogge, and durst not aduenture abroad in any of their ruffling disguises, to seeke out for more change of pasture; (like fathers Strange the Iesuite) where, making a vertue (or rather a vice) of neces­sitie, the ghostly children haue ministred to their spirituall fathers in all things. And by such meanes hauing gotten a clap, diuers of them It is no great miracle for a whore to become a Nunne; nor for a Nunne to be­come a whore. become Nunnes. And with a rabble of such like stuffe, is this house of Syon much replenished, there beeing [Page 8] of them in all betweene 40. and 50. whereof onely fiue are strangers, and the rest all English. The names of so many of them as I can at present re­member, I haue at the end of the Booke set downe, for the satisfaction of such as desire to know them.

There are likewise three Friers, the Confessor and two more; and a simple besotted fellow, who hath the title of a familiar. And well may they call him so: for he will be drunke familiarly foure or fiue times euery weeke; by reason whereof hee is not apparelled in any religious habit, but goeth like an ordinary secular man, to the end the House should be the lesse scandalized by him: for now so many doe not take notice of his drunkennesse as would, if they should see him in a religious habite.

And this is the whole company of the House at this time: but now if any man demand, how and by what meanes they are brought thither; and by whom they are maintained: let him know, that there lurketh in England an arch-Traytour, one This Flood caused the Iesu­ites at Lisbon to spend a great deale of money vpon Powder, on a Festiuall day, a little before the Powder-trea­son in England should haue been effected, thereby to make experi­ence of the force thereof. And also perswaded one Iohn How (a Merchant whom be had peruer­ted) and diuers other Catholikes, to goe ouer into England, and to expect their re­demption there (as be called it) awhile. Henry Flood a Iesuit, who is the chiefe Agent for the transporting of Nunnes, both to In all these places there are Engl [...]sh Nunne­ries, but none that hath conti­nued euer since the suppression of Abbots in En­gland, saue onely that at Lisbon. Bruxels, Greueling, Lisbon, or any other place; and whither he pleaseth to send them, thither they must goe. If they haue no portion, and perhaps some little ho­nestie, they are not for the Iesuits tooth, Aquila non capit Muscas, they must packe to Greueling, to the poore bare-footed Clares. If they haue a small portion, that likes not the Iebusite neither: a pound of butter is nothing amongst a cure of hungry Hounds; nec vacat exiguis rebus adesse loui: then a­way [Page 9] they trudge to Lisbon, where they are allowed daily fiue crownes, and their bread, and many a good almes beside is often bestowed vpon them. But if they haue a good round summe for their dowrie, ab Inferno nulla est redemptio, there is no plucking them out of the Iesuites Iawes; they are stamped for Bruxels, and thither must they goe; where Fitz-herbert and his fellow-Iesuits wil quick­ly dispossesse them of all worldly cares and vani­ties, and (like subtill Alchymists) refine them out of their siluer and golden drosse, into a more sub­lime estate and condition, and will cherish and nourish them, euen in their owne bosomes: such a burning zeale haue they towards them.

And this is the manner after which our Recu­sants daughters in England are trāslated into other Countries, to take vpon them the profession of a solitary life, and to liue in pouerty, chastity, and obedience: which how well they performe, I shall now (God willing) in part declare.

First therefore for their pouertie, I meane of these Nuns of Syon, and they professe themselues the poorest of any English, except them of Saint Clares Order. It is well knowne, that they haue ten thousand pounds at vse in the Towne-house of Antwerpe; a great part whereof hath beene giuen them by sundry deceased Gentlemen in Flanders and Portugal; and beside their yeerly pension. Like­wise when they remained in France, they had the custodie of no small summe of money, which was sent to them to keepe for Doctor Lopez the Portu­gese, [Page 10] as his reward for poysoning our late Queene Elizabeth of famous memorie, which after that Traitor (hauing missed of his intent) was executed, was remitted vnto them as an almes, as the Regi­ster-booke of their house, (from whence I had it) shameth not to make mention.

They haue likewise of late yeeres, through the politicke plodding of their Confessor, Sic figulus figulum, sic & fabrum faber odit. giuen the Iesuites noses a wipe of two thousands pounds, being the portion of the two daughters of Sir A. B. Viscount M. whom a Nunne of the house (some­times a Chamber-maid of their fathers) had inti­ced from the Iesuites. For which, and some other like trickes about a Portugese Gentlewoman, the posteritie of lame Ignatius Loiola, a lame souldier, a Spa­niard, the glori­ous Patron of the Popes Iani­zaries, the Iesuits Ignatius could almost find in their hearts to re-assume their Patrons first profes­sion, and vi & armis to take reuenge vpon that old hypocriticall Frier, which durst presume to be bet­ter studied in Nic. Machiauell then themselues: yea they so threatened him once, that he durst not goe abroad, lest they should worke him a mischiefe. Moreouer, they haue a daily pension of 5. crowns, and wheat more then sufficeth for to spend in the House. They haue Vineyards, Oliue fields, corn­ground and houses, to the value of foure hundred Euery mil-reis is twelue shillings and sixe pence. mil-reis by the yeere, which was the portion of the Portugese aforesaid, whom (being sole heire to her father, a man of great wealth) they perswaded to become a religious sister in their Couent. What should I speake of the sale of their Masses. I meane the reuenues in generall of the Sacristia or Reue­strie? [Page 11] where, though there bee but three Priests of them, and therefore but three Masses; and that ne­uer but vpon Festiuall dayes, for the Confessor himselfe will not say Masse vpon a worke-day, yet they will take money of twenty men, and tell euery one they will say for him. Then haue they their boxes sent foorth in the Indian and Brasilian ships, with S. Brigets image vpon them; to which, in a storme the poore blinded people will contribute li­berally; and sea-men that go on such long voyages will take vp a moneths pay or two aforehand, and giue it for Masses to bee said for their good suc­cesse. I haue knowne this in one yeere woorth sixe hundred mil-reis vnto them. Diuers other meanes they haue to get money: as by putting a good summe into the hands of a couple of young Mer­chants, whom they haue peruerted to their Reli­gion: and these men deale for them vnder a co­lour. So that I may boldly say, (for I haue heard Foster himselfe speake it, and I haue partly seene it) that all charges and expences of the House being payed, they doe yeerely lay vp And it is no small summe of money that he sendeth to his kindred in York­shire, that are Papists: but he will acknowledge none of them that are Prote­stants. sixe hundreth pounds. For the siluer that inshrineth their Re­liques, and for their Church-plate, I know not how to value it; but it is without doubt both plentifull and massie; for there bee few of their rotten Re­liques but are set in siluer. They haue two armes of Thomas of Canterbury, notwithstanding all his bones were burned in England, when Popery was suppressed; so that they wil make of him a Briareus, or a centimanus Gygas, as doubtlesse he was in his [Page 12] life, a very obstinate Prelate to his Prince. And for Saint Vrsula, she must needes bee a diua trifor­mis, or a triceps Hecate; for they haue one of her heades; and there is another of them at Collen, and the third at Rome. Then haue they the bones of S. Briget and her daughter, and sundry Reliques of Saint Augustine, from whose rule theirs is deriued. There is Beleeue it who list. the milke of our Lady, the blood of Hales, which was held so precious in England; and (sir reuerence) there is a piece of old Although they cannot abide the Iesuits, yet they loue their Gallowes, because thereby they get money. Tyborne, which the Iesuites stole away out of England, be­cause it had beene honoured by so many of their brethren, which is had in little lesse esteeme then the holy Crosse: for (say they) as the Master died on that, so his Disciples died vpon this. And these are all set in siluer, and richly adorned. Then haue they a little childs legge, which I thinke they may truly call as they doe; for they say it is a legge of the Innocents; and doubtlesse so it is, for I could (if I were in the house) goe very neere Saxa ipsa trabésque lo­quentur. a place in a wall, where I could fetch out both legges and armes of poore innocent bastards, which might e­uidently proue, that there is knauery in dawbing.

And hauing hereby giuen a sufficient instance of their pouerty, I will now proceed to speake a lit­tle of their chastitie, which is as scarce and penuri­ous, as their pouerty is plenteous. Neither can it be otherwise; for they haue Sodoms prouocations to sinne, Pride, Fulnesse of bread, and abundance of Idlenesse. As for their pride, though it bee not outwardly in gorgeous and curious attire, yet are [Page 13] they possessed with a vain-glorious pride of hypo­crisie, and dissembled sanctitie. For their fulnesse of bread, who knoweth not that they (like the Ca­terpillers of Egypt) doe eate vp the fat and best fruits of the Land? for what the purueyors of the Vice-rey haue forsaken in the Market, (as too deare) I haue knowne the Cator of this house to buy at vnreasonable rates for their ghostly fathers Table, and for such of his Chickens as hee most affected: whose greatest (and indeed onely) care is, to proue skilfull in the confection and dressing of such dain­ty cates as may best please their wanton palats. And well doe they manifest the abundance of idle­nesse that is in them, when at sundry times playing vpon their instruments for their fathers recreati­on, they sing him ribaldrous Songs and jigs, as that of Bonny Nell, and such other obscene and scurrilous Ballads, as would make a chaste eare to glow at the hearing of them, and which I would scarce haue beleeued would haue proceeded out of their mouthes, had I not heard them with my owne eares.

And now againe for the House. Whereas all o­ther Religious Houses are vnder the Iurisdiction of Prouincials of their owne Order mediatè, and vn­der the Bishop of the Diocesse immediatè, yet this is not subiected to either: For as for a Prouinciall they haue none, in regard there are no more Hou­ses of that Order; neither would the Arch-bishop of Lisbon take them into his iurisdiction at their first comming into Portugall, fearing lest that being [Page 14] stranger, and at that time pretending want and pouerty, he should afterward be driuen to sustaine and relieue them; they being forbidden to begge by their rule. And so he put them off with a non no­ui vos, telling them hee neuer knew or heard that At their first comming into Lisbon they were little set by. And euery one maruelled at their order, and liuing so together. But now their dissembling hath wonne them a little more credit. frayles y freiras Friers and Nunnes should keep & dwell together all, sub eodem tecto, vnder the same roofe. Wherevpon they were constrained to en­tertaine that famous Arch-Iesuite Father Parsons to be their sollicitor to the Pope, who then tooke them into his protection, and appointed his nuncio apostatico, resident in Lisbon to haue the care and charge of them. And he againe being bribed and presented with gifts by Father Foster, and dwelling farre from the house, is satisfied with what he tel­leth him, and neuer commeth to visit the Nunnes, as he ought, and to inquire and demand their grie­uances; but permitteth him to play rex ouer them at his own pleasure. Wherevpon it is pittifull and miserable to behold the condition of these silly se­duced women: for they neither dare nor can com­plaine to any body, beeing seldome permitted to speake euen to them that are of the house as well as themselues, but onely at such times when the Ab­besse is present: except it be shee that keepeth the Grate, and some others that are in office amongst them: and these are all the yonger and more per­sonable Women, beeing by this Fosters politique contriuing so placed of purpose, that by and with them he may the more freely enioy the scope of his lasciuious and sacrilegious desire. And these wo­men [Page 15] hauing predominance ouer the others whom want of beauty and fauour hath made despicable in the eyes of this old Sinon, doe (according to the passionatenesse of their mindes) more and more vexe their poore fellow-prisoners. For it is the sub­tiltie of this perfidious wretch, to set them at vari­ance among themselues, and to cause them to ac­cuse one another, to th'intent they should not dare to trust one another with the complaint of their griefes; and so whilst they remaine in a iealousie of each others secrecie and aide, they should neuer be able to contriue any meanes to free themselues from his thraldome.

At this slay doth he keep them: and not so con­tent, hee will make them to Article one against the other in writing. It was my chance one day to finde a paper of these Articles in a walke in the Friers Garden, which had vnawares fallen from him; be­ing drawne by one Sister Anne, alias Iosepha Bing­ham, against Sister Suzan Bacon: Wherein the said Sister If these silly op­pressed women were examined by men of autho­ritie, and were assured to be free from such a ty­rannous Confes­sor, they would tell of horrible abuses, Susan stood accused, for blaming her ghostly Father, and the Abbesse and Prioresse of partialitie to some of their children more then to others. Also that she had vpbraided this sister Iose­pha (being a deare darling of Father Fosters) of too much familiaritie with Father Garnet the Powder Traitor, This Sister Io­sepha is a stout defender of the miracle in the Wheat Straw, which hapned as was said at Gar­nets execution, although it be now proued a very counterfet and a falselye. whose carefull keeper shee had of a long time been, when he lurked in England at her Mrs house. Also that another of her ghostly Fa­thers minions had a Bastard by a Priest in England (whose name because she is lately dead, I wil passe [Page 16] ouer in silence) and that if shee had been a little more honest, & a little lesse personable, she should not haue beene one of the vpper Regiment. With this and a great deale more of such like stuffe was this paper farsed; and with these and the like accu­sations one of another are these silly women daily busied. So that I haue generally obserued in the superiours of this house, an egregious neglect and contempt of their rule and vowed profession: and in the rest, an extraordinarie maligning and enuy­ing against one another. And so much the better could I obserue this and all other my Narrations, by how much I grew to be a more neere and dayly attendant about the Confessor; for at length, what with my long continuance in the house, and the small suspect they had of my forsaking them, and what for want of one to serue him at all occasions, I became to be oftentimes admitted euen into his priuate house of iniquitie, where he vseth to sit and heare the Confessions of the Nunnes. In which house being very darke, there is a grate of iron that looketh into the Nunnes partition or side; and this grate (howsoeuer it seeme substantiall and firme) may be, and is with a sleight easily taken out, where­by the sisters haue free egresse and regresse into his chamber when they list, and hee to them: for the Abbesse hath her bed not farre from this Grate, where there is also a chimny so conuenient that he may take the benefit of the fire into this his roome, in which he vseth to dine and sup, hauing his meat serued him by the Nunnes through a Wicket in [Page 17] the wall. And when he is merrily disposed (as that is not seldom) then must his dearling Kate Knightley play him a merry fit, and sister Mary Brooke, or some other of his last-come Wags must sing him one bawdy song or other to digest his meat. Then after supper it is vsuall for him to reade a little of Venus and Adonis, the iests of George Peele, or some such scurrilous booke: for there are few idle Pamphlets printed in England which he hath not in the house, being either brought ouer to his sonne Peter, the drunken Familiar aforesaid, by Sea-men: or else hapning into the hands of Father Newman an Eng­lish Priest, who hath an office in the Inquisition house to peruse all English books that are brought into Lisbon. And hee, I trust, shall haue the sight of this, wherein if he vse a good conscience, hee must needs testifie with mee the truth of many things herein contained; for he is one that knoweth more of these people then any but themselues, or some that haue liued amongst them.

If I should repeat all their vnchaste practises, I should make the Christian Reader blush at them: or if I should tell of all the obscene bawdry which I haue seene, I might recount as many irreligious prankes as would fill a great Volume: but it shall suffice for the skilfull by the length of their foot, to iudge of the proportion of their whole body.

And now for their Obedience, beeing the third and last part of their Vow; I will not goe about to vse any Theologicall Definitions or proofes to tell what Obedience is, and how it ought to be perfor­med; [Page 18] for it is beyond my element, and the Cob­lers checke shall be my warning, I will not goe vl­tra crepidam: but as I first determined, so I will proceed; that is, to declare in what sort they per­forme their vow of obedience; referring it to the censure of the iudicious, whether they do wel or no.

It is certain that these silly women thus muzzled in blindnesse, doe liue in very seruile obedience vn­to their Superiours; and, in such sort, that without standing to discusse or examine the thing that is commanded them whether it be lawfull or no, they will readily performe it. For their ghostly father hath composed sundry Treatises for them of Obe­dience, wherein hee pronounceth no lesse then damnation for the least scruple or hesitation in the performance of their Superiours commands. And here let me tell the aforesaid It behooueth father Newman for his own credit to looke to this. The like also hath he done with cer­taine meditations vpon the Passion, which hee reque­sted Father Iohn Kensington an English Iesuite at St Rocks in Lisbon to peruse and approue; beeing gelded likewise as the other bookes of Obedience were. Father Newman what a tricke his old friend Foster hath put vpon him, which is this: Hauing made these bookes of Obedience, he caused mee to write them out faire, omitting in many places a Leafe, and in some two or three together, which contained any false do­ctrine and vnallowable perswasions to draw them to obedience in vnlawfull things; and being finish­ed in this sort, he bringeth them to Father Newman to be signed with his approbation and testimonie, that there was nothing in them repugnant to the Catholique saith; which beeing done, hee then interserreth and soweth in the aforesaid omitted Leaues, and so deliuereth them to his daughters to be practised, who take the approbation at the end [Page 19] of the booke for a sufficient warrantie of all the do­ctrine therein contained. And this is a principall furtherance to his sacrilegious lusts: for I am ve­rily perswaded that not one amongst them will (for feare of being disobedient) refuse to come to his bed whensouer he commands them: and that they doe so, I haue manifestly seene and knowne. For when I haue been his Chamberlain in the absence and times of drunkennes of the familiar aforesaid; hauing a Key to the Chamber doore, They forgate the old caueat, Cauté si non casté. I haue come sometimes vnawares early in a morning, when one might haue seene as great a miracle as Scoggin spake off when he tooke a Frier a bed with a Whore, & called out to see a wonder, viz. a Frier with foure legges. And now I will a little digresse to aske a question of my Ignatians, who are the chiefe teachers and allowers of equiuocation and mentall euasion; whether these kinde-hearted soules being professed Nunnes, and hauing vowed neuer to come ouer the threshold, did breake their Vow or no, in comming thorow a grate? If they say they did: why, their ghostly father will dispence with their Vow: but if they say they did not; (as I thinke they will) what then? Marry I thinke that when their blacke Synagogues at Rome, Valladolid and Siuill doe send forth their Locusts into England, and they chance to bait by the way at Lisbon, as they doe oftentimes: they deserue to enter commons with old father Seth for their legit­timation of the action. And to the end that no man should doubt, but a Iesuite hath a carnall af­fection, [Page 20] as well as a spirituall, to any of his ghostly children, it shall not be amisse to intersert a merry Tale for the Readers recreation of one father Strange an English Iesuite, as it was reported for Inter caenan­dum bilares este. table-talke by a Nun of this house to her ghost­ly father; she hauing then beene a chamber-maid in the place where it was done.

This Father Strange was a yong man, and had been lately before profest and priested among the Iesuites: and being come of good friends, and ten­derly brought vp in England, he fell very sick short­ly after his profession, perhaps by reason of the vn­wholesomnesse of the aire which neither at Rome nor Valladolid is very pleasant: wherevpon hee ob­tained licence of the Rector to goe into England, where he hoped both to recouer his health, and to employ his talent of Priesthood, for the reducing of Heretiques to the Catholique Church of Rome. And being arriued, he took vp this Nunnes Ladies Chamber for one of his places of rendezvous: where it so fell out, that as this sister Anne (for that is her name) sate sowing with her backe to her La­dies backe and the Iesuites, who were sitting by the fire, shee chanced to looke vpon a great Looking-glasse which hung right before her, wherein she e­spyed what paines the late sicke Iesuite tooke to shriue her Lady: neither had he ended his shrift, before he also espied her looking in the Glasse; and suspecting that shee had seene all, (as indeed shee had) Shee might haue knowne by this, what she should trust to when she was a Nunne: but it seemes she was as good as her Mistresse: and I am sure that her Father Foster is a good as the Iesuite. he tooke her aside in priuate, and told her that he was flesh and bloud, and could abstaine no [Page 21] more then another man, although at his professi­on he had vowed chastitie: and vsing many per­swasions to win her to be secret, he promised her, that if she stood in need of a ghostly father to ab­solue her from any of her sweet sinnes, (as he cal­led these) he would be the man should doe it; nei­ther should her penance be ouer-burthensome vn­to her.

By which may appeare both the carnall affection of a Iesuite, and the chaste and sober conuersation of a profest Nunne, and her ghostly father: of the Iesuit in doing it; of her, in not shaming to tell it as a tale for recreation; and of the old fornicator, in making himselfe merry at the hearing of it; yea, and reporting it againe in his iolly humors to my selfe, and one Father Viuian a Frier of the house; a­mong a great sort of such like inuectiues which he vsed against the Iesuits, because, a little before I came away, they went about (if it had beene pos­sible) to extrude the succession of any more Friers in the House, and to bring it vnder their gouerne­ment; which I beleeue they will ere long effect. For I was told by an English Iesuite at the Court of Spaine, that father Foster is bound vnto the Iesu­ites, neuer to ordaine any more Friers in the house, that so for want of successors it may of force fall into their hands; and vpon this condition the Ie­suites permit him to liue quietly; which, if hee should not obserue, they would quickly informe a­gainst him of sundry of his prankes which they know well inough. And if this be so, (as like it is) [Page 22] the Nunnes haue no knowledge thereof, for hee feedeth them with hope of making new brothers, which they seeme earnestly to wish for: The Nunnes thought surely it should be so, and if he did not meane so, yet I was loth to trust to it, in regard of his daily earnest­nesse with me concerning that matter. and they would often tell me, they hoped ere long to see me a profest brother of the Couent: but it plea­sed God to dispose better for me, and not to suffer me to bee any longer lulled in sinne and superstiti­on: for after I had beene two yeeres and an halfe with them, I found a meanes to free my selfe from them, before I had made any profession or vow of religion either to that or any other Order: for I plainely saw, that these were led by a wrong guide, who was so deepe plunged, and had continued so long in all wickednesse and dissembling, that hee was growne insensible of sinne; according to that saying, Consuetudo peccandi, tollit sensum peccati. For he shamed not, vnder pretext of Religion, to per­swade a young man, a Merchant in Lisbon (one How doe you call him) to defraud his These two bre­thren are both liuing in Lisbon at this present, and well knowne to most English­men that vse Portugall. owne el­der brother of his estate; which matter was thus effected.

These two brethren were by profession Iewel­lers, and aduentured their stocke ioyntly together: the yonger brother (for that hee was a Bachelor) being Factor for it beyond the seas. At length ha­uing made many good returnes, hee tooke vp his abode in Lisbon, as a place most conuenient for his Trade; and falling into familiarity with this Father Foster, and Father Flood a Iesuite, who then liued in Lisbon, they perswaded him to become a Romane Catholique, and so soone as he could get his bro­thers [Page 23] Stock againe into his hands, to professe him­selfe such; which he accordingly did: and so (be­ing instructed by them, that it was meritorious to coozen an Heretique, as they account all Prote­stants) defrauded his brother, and would come to no accompts with him, relying vpon the suppor­tation of these Hypocrites, on whom he bestowed liberall almes; giuing them many faire pictures for their Church, and a horse of twenty mil-reis price, to fetch home their prouisions to the House, be­sides diuers other things: whilst in the meane time his brother was vndone, and could get nothing at his hands by Law, in regard hee was a Protestant. Whereupon hee was faine to petition in England for redresse many times, and yet could not preuaile to recouer any thing: yea, he refused to come into his owne Country, or to obey the command of the Councell, in giuing satisfaction for what hee had in his hands. At length the Lord Rosse com­ming Ambassadour into Spaine, and staying by the way at Lisbon, (where he landed) decided the matter betwixt them; and articles of agreement were drawne by Father Newman, which my selfe afterward wrote out faire for them: the tenour whereof was this in effect: That either of the bro­thers should by a day prefixed, bring in a iust ac­compt of all debts due vnto them, as likewise of all debts which either of them ought: also that they should bring in all such moneys and goods as did any way as their owne belong vnto them: and that they should both depose and sweare, that they had [Page 24] truly laid open their estates. And this being done, their debts which they ought, were to be payed out of the whole summe, and the debts which were owing to them, were to be added vnto it; and so they to share equally betwixt them whatsoeuer re­mained, that by this meanes their estates might be both alike. Now a few dayes before this was to be put in effect, the yonger brother knowing his e­state to be farre better then the others, commeth very pensiuely to his ghostly Father old Foster for counsell; who instructed him to come to the Ab­besse, and some other of the sisters at their Grate, where they vse to talke with strangers, and there to tell them that he was weary of the troubles and ve­xations which attended a Merchants life, and ther­fore he would renounce the world, and become a religious man: and seeing that God had bestowed sufficient wealth vpon him, he could not do better, then to impart it to them; being such holy Saints as had preferred that kind of life in a strange coun­try, before all worldly contents in their owne. And thereupon at his fained request, they sent their horse to his house, and had him laden backe with plate, iewels and money, which my selfe helped to take from the horse-backe, and carry into Fosters Cell. He had likewise at that time a great quantity of Cochenill in sundry bagges, being at least foure­teene or fifteene hundred waight, amounting to no small summe of money, which he had a little be­fore bought of the Indian Fleet, who that yeere, and about that time put into Lisbon; and this was [Page 25] brought into the Nunnery by night out of the shippes, to defraud the King of his right, and was vnder a colour, together with the other things, gi­uen to the Sisters of the House. By which dealing he so imbezeled his estate, that when his brother and he came to an accompt, there remained little or nothing for him to receiue; being by this means defrauded of all hee should haue had. When as presently after this conclusion was made betweene them, Father Foster and the Abbesse send for their ghostly child, giuing him thankes for the good wil he had to bestow his estate vpon them: but they told him, (as was before determined) that so much money and wealth was an hinderance to their de­uotion; and therefore they requested him to haue it away againe: to which he soone condescended; telling them, that now also his chiefest troubles were ouerpast, (meaning, because hee had done with his brother) and that he perceiued it was not Gods will to make him so happy, as (such another youth) Father Nicholas Price, who awhile before, of a Merchant, became a Dominican Frier: and therefore hee would liue as aforetimes; and when he died, hee would bequeath all hee had to the Church: and thereupon tooke home all his estate againe, after he had by these aequiuocations and euasions, defrauded his brother.

And now lest this Treatise should rise to an o­uer-bigge Volume, I will hasten to an end, after I haue in a few words set downe the manner of my departure from them, which was thus:

[Page 26] After I had continued with them for the space of two yeeres and an halfe, and had plainly percei­ued, that all their outward shew of holinesse was nothing but dissimulation, hypocrisie and lustfull sacriledge, I began to consider in what a misera­ble estate I should be, if God should at that time call me out of the world; for I could well say with the Poet, Video meliora, proboque, deterior a sequor, I saw and allowed of the best way, yet followed the worst: at length the feare of my soules health, and a naturall affection to my kindred and countrey so wrought with me, that I waxed resolute in my de­termination of forsaking them: but not knowing how to effect my purpose without hazard of my life, (for they would haue poysoned me, if they had knowne I would haue gone from them, because I should not bewray their secrets) it came in my mind to draw out certaine Articles in manner of an information against them, which I thought to exhibite to the chiefe Inquisitors of the Citie. And this might haue beene very dangerous vnto me, if they should not haue proceeded according to E­quitie; of which I was doubtful, fearing that Reade Mus­graue his Mo­tiues, for forsa­king the Carthu­sian Monkes, and Romish Religion after he had bin 20. yeeres pro­fessed. ma­ny great men of other Monasteries (being perhaps in the same predicament) would haue stopped the course of Iustice, propter honorem Monastica vitae, for the credit of a Monasticall life, as is many times done: yet notwithstanding I was resolued to vndertake this course, and had prouided my Ar­ticles, which were these:

1. That Father Seth, alias Ioseph Foster, the Con­fessor [Page 27] of the English Nunnes of Saint Brigets Order in Lisbon, did compell diuers youths his countrimen, a­gainst their wils to remaine with him in the house: who if they had any good affection to the Romish Catholike faith before they came there, were soone brought into dislike of it, by reason of the ill gouernement which is vsed in the house. And of this sort I could haue in­stanced in twenty, who within a few yeeres haue beene recorded in their Register booke, for Apo­state runne-awayes.

2. He would daily without any companion goe into the Nunnes Cloister or Side, and remaine there halfe a day together, yea and sometime, sit and dine at their Table with them: but euery day in their sight, which is expressely against their Rule. And this I could haue prooued by the testimonie of diuers Portugeses our neighbours, who frequenting the house, haue of­tentimes obserued and seene him going in, and comming foorth; and haue spoken of it to my selfe and others. Also the Nunnes themselues would haue auouched it vpon their examinations.

3. He hath in his Cell, where he heareth their con­fession, a Grate, which I can shew how he vseth to take downe with a sleight, thorow which the Nunnes passe to his bed by night. And for the further auouching of this, I would haue brought in the drunken fami­liar aforesaid, who will many times in his drinke, tell how he helped to make it firme, against a time when there was a Visitation intended by the Popes Nuncio, and expected by them of the House, al­though it was not performed.

[Page 28] 4. That in many yeeres past there neuer came any Visitor to the House, to examine and vnderstand their grieuances: neither haue they any Confessor extraordi­narie, as all other Religious haue, to whom they might freely complaine of their Superiours oppressions. And this needed small proofe, for it would soone haue beene apparant enough of it selfe.

5. Through his politique plotting, he causeth whom he list to be elected Abbesse, (for they hold their pla­ces but three yeeres) and her to dispose of the House as he thinketh good. This also the Nunnes them­selues would quickly complaine of, if they had one to heare their complaint.

6. That my selfe (being diuers times called into the Nunnes partition or side, to helpe them to nayle vp boords, set vp their Vines in the walkes of their Gar­den, and doe such like things which women could not so well doe) did chance to make a hole in a hollow place in a wall, (which had beene latelier dawbed vp then the rest) to set vp a Sparre to vnderprop the Vines; out of which hole I pulled sundry bones of some dead children, and left many more remaining behind. And this the place it selfe would haue testified to be true.

Hauing thus prouided my Articles in a readi­nesse, I absented my selfe from helping the Priest at Masse that day, who being readie to go into the Church, and missing mee, was faine to take ano­ther Clerke, whilst I walked vp and downe my chamber, with a resolute mind to depart the house. At length commeth Father Foster, (for he vsed e­uery day to visit me at vnawares, to see if he could [Page 29] finde mee writing of any thing that disliked him) and espied vpon my table (which I had negligent­ly forgot) a blotted Copy of my Articles, beeing the first draught of them: which when I saw him take vp, I proffered to snatch out of his hand, but missed of my purpose; and therevpon went downe the staires, and so tooke my way out at the gates: but he (hauing soon perceiued to whom they were intended) followed mee amaine, and quickly ouer­tooke me, yea, euen before I was past his own wals; and demanding of mee what I meant by such do­ings, I told him my intent; and bade him peruse the Articles at large, giuing him a faire copy of them out of my bosom, where I had three or foure more.

But as soone as he had read them, he waxed pale as ashes, and was so terrified, that he began earnest­ly to intreat me that I should not proceed with my purpose, and told mee that if I would bee secret, I should haue his good will to depart; whereof bee­ing glad, I not onely promised, but performed se­crecie, (although indeed I ought not to haue done it) not bewraying any of his prankes to my neerest acquaintance and friends; vntill such time as ha­uing occasion a few months after to be at Lisbon a­gaine, he suspected mee vniustly of telling tales of his house; and meeting mee one day in the street, he called me to him, and told me, that if I did not presently depart the City, he would haue my throat cut. Vpon which his diuellish speech I could not refraine any longer, but in the open street I told him of many of his vngodly actions, which came to the [Page 30] hearing of diuers of our Nation, beeing men of good qualitie, whereof some haue testified in Eng­land to Honorable Personages in my behalfe, how ready and willing I was to auouch and maintaine whatsoeuer is herein contained, and much more: which (although it be here omitted) I am ready at all times truely to declare and set forth for the sa­tisfaction of all that desire it: but especially for such as haue either Daughters or Kinswomen in that house, in whose behalfe I am bound to intreat their friends to enter into a further search of their mise­rable estate and condition; and (hauing found my words true) to vse meanes, if it be possible, to free them from such horrible and sacrilegious rapine and spoile; themselues not being able to send any word thereof, because all their Letters must bee gi­uen to him to be sent into England; which if they contain any thing contrary to his mind, shal neuer be sent; for hee will peruse them all. And likewise when their friends send to them, the Letters must first come to his hands, wherein also if there be a­ny thing that he misliketh (for he will breake them all vp) they shall neuer know of it. And here I will conclude, hoping that the friendly Christian Rea­der wil be no way scandalized with any thing here­in contained. But as for the curious and captious (especially Romanists) if they taxe me for any thing I haue written, let them know I haue done neither them not any of their sect any wrong in publishing the truth. If any of them amongst these insuing names finde either a Sister or Kinswoman, or [Page 31] Friend, let him sigh to thinke on their misery, and vse his best indeuours to free them. I haue not set downe-all their names, because I cannot well call them to remembrance; neither are many of these christen names the same which they had in Eng­land, it being vsuall at the Bishops confirmation to take what name they will: as also some of the sir­names are not their true names indeed; for the Pa­pists do many times change their names: but there are few of these which are not right; and howso­euer, they are knowne to their friends by these.

The Friers of the House.
  • Seth, alias Ioseph Foster, Confessor.
  • Iohn Viuian. Nicholas Barrowes. two Priests.
  • Peter Consul, a Familiar, that is, a Lay-Brother, but a drunken one, God knowes.
The Nunnes of the House.
  • Barbara Wiseman, Abbesse.
  • Anne Wiseman Prioresse.
  • Elizabeth Hart, Chantresse.
  • Anne Wharton, Treasuresse.
  • Anne, alias, Iosepha Bingham, Portresse.
  • Lucy Iohnson, Notaresse.
  • Dorothy Fowler, Keeper of the Reliques & Church stuffe.
  • Briget Browne, Lucy Browne, Daughters of St Anth: Browne, Visc. Montacute.
  • Elizabeth Preston, sometime Abbesse, but now in [Page 32] disgrace with old Foster.
  • Anne Martin.
  • Anne Markenfield.
  • Susan Bacon.
  • Sisly Arundell.
  • Margaret Smith, alias Becket, and her Sister.
  • Mandlyn Shelly, Katherine Dendy, Elizabeth Cole, three of the Kitchin.
  • Martha.
  • Clara Dowman, indeed Anne Foster, the Confessors Kinswoman.
  • Kath: Knightly. Mary Brooke. two merry singing wagges.
  • Anne, A Chambermaid of St Anth: Browne.
  • Mary Barnes, a welbeloued friend of Fosters.
  • Mary Dimmock, a discontented yong Nunne.
  • M. Blinksop, falsely reported by Father Foster, to be allied to diuers of the Nobilitie.
  • Agatha.
  • Elianor and Angela: two Dutchwomen.
  • Briget Mandanha. Maria Suarez. Maria Rodriguez. three Portugeses.

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