entry author entry date entry editor document type
Mike PIncombe May 2009 pamphlet

The Life and Death of Sir William Paulet

full name additional information

Rowland [Rowlande] Broughton


Publication Details

Composition date
1571-72. Between 12 March 1571, when news was brought to Broughton of Paulet's death (B1v); and the poem's publication in 1572. The poet seems to have waited for quite some time before releasing his work, which is not an ordinary epitaph (though one is included as item 7).
Publication date
Publication site
32 pp. in octavo, collated as A4, B8, C4; mainly blackletter with ornamental/emphatic italics and romans; romans for items 4, 5, 7; italics for items 8, 9.
Bibliographic number
STC2 3901
Stationers register
Not in SR.
full name additional information

Swithin [Swythen] Thorpe

author of commendatory verse

D. W. This author makes much of Paulet's legal career, but does not mention his royal service, so perhaps he was a lawyer?

authorof commendatory verse

Richard Jones

Printed at London, by Richard Iohnes

Sir William Paulet


Latin (items 5, 8, 9)


Title page
A briefe discourse of the lyfe and death of the late right high and honorable Sir William Pawlet Knight Lord Seint Iohn, Erle of Wilshire, Marques of Winchester, knight of the honorable order of the garter, one of the Queenes Maiesties priuie counsel, and Lorde highe treasourer of Englande. Which deceased the tenth day of Marche. Anno. 1571. and was buried at Basing the. 28. day of Aprill. Anno. M. D. LXXII. , Printed at London : By Richarde Iohnes, Anno. 1572.
Synopsis and Commentary
A handsome tribute from a servant to his late master, this poem is interesting for its frame, in which the poet is visited not by a female deity but by a male person - apparently Broughton's alter ego - and by the remarkable description of Paulet's birth, attended by fairy-godmother like virtues.

1. Literary. Broughton's poem has received scant notice. Loades says it is made of 'doggerel stanzas of no poetic merit' (5); but this is hardly criticism. The poem moves along briskly and manages to pack in a great deal of information economically if not elegantly. Broughton's style is relatively unadorned, but his imagination does take fire now and then, especially in the description of Paulet's birth. The description of the advent of the 'apparition' is very interesting: it seems to describe the appearance of a ghost (it gets cold) and yet is otherwise in line with the trance-like state required of ancient inspiration. Others must judge Broughton's Latin verses, but item 8 seems to be pretty good.

2. Historical. By his own account, Rowland Broughton was a servant of Paulet and wore his livery; Loades adds that he was a distant relation by marriage (5); his verse testifies to a Protestant sensibility. Other than that, nothing is known (by me) of the poet. Broughton's witness seems relatively reliable, however, using the ODNB entry as a comfortably compendious point of comparison (Ford). Broughton gives him an extra ten years, giving 1465 rather than 1474/5 as his year of birth; and it is surprising that he does not make more of Paulet's extraordinary longevity as a theme for poetry. Broughton also gives Paulet more eminence in the reign of Henry VII than he seems to have deserved.
References and Further Reading
Ford, L. L., 'Paulet, William, First Marques of Winchester (1474/5?-1572), Administrator and Nobleman', ODNB
Loades, David, The Life and Career of William Paulet (c. 1475-1571): Lord Treasurer and First Marquis of Winchester (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008)
Preliminary Materials
1. Title-page (A1r). - As above, in a border of ornamental blocks. The name 'Hum: Dyson' is written on the BL copy.

2. Address: 'To the Reader' (A2r-3v). - Histories - by which is meant stories of the lives of famous men and women - are useful: we learn how to avoid the tragical ends God gives to the wicked (there is a hint towards the Rising in the North); and how to follow the good example of the virtuous. Some histories are fables, but not this one, the true story of a noble English servant of the crown. Signed: 'Thy friende, Rowlande Broughton Gentleman'.

3. Authorial poem: 'The Author to carpers', 8 10-syllable lines in a non-canonical stanza (ababccdd), beginning: 'THou carping carle, thou thou [sic] that glad wouldst catche' (A3v). - Momus and Zoilus must look elsewhere for a victim, for the poet is protected by the shield of Truth.

4. Commendatory verse: Swithin [Swythen] Thorpe: 'Swythen Thorpe in prayse of the Author', 12 lines in sixains, beginning: 'THe force of death eache simple creature knowes' (A4r-v). - All must die: Cato, Tully - and now Paulet. Thorpe cannot write poetry, but Broughton has done well.

5. Commendatory verse (in Latin): D. W.: '[In vit]am & obitum Clarissimi Viri. D. W.', 32 lines in sapphics, beginning: 'LIteris tinctus, teneris ab annis' (A4v). - Paulet spent his youth studying the law, then as age drew upon him, he had many children and lived piously. Now his body lies in the earth, but his soul is with God.
Main Text
6. Poem: 'A briefe discourse of the lyfe and death of the late Lorde Marques of Winchester, Lorde hie Treasourer of England. &c', 516 lines in broken fourteeners (126 broken verses), beginning: 'AS season serue, so men applie | to frame their factes aright' (B1r-C3v). - There is a time and season for all things, and Lent found the poet reflecting on the prophet's word 'that all flesh is but grasse' (B1r; cf. Isaiah 40. 6). On 12 March 'last year' (B1v), whilst the poet was sitting in his closet, the temperature dropped and he lost the faculty of sight, voice, and memory. Is it Allecto, Megaera, or even Medusa, or 'other suche from furious place' (he suspects infernal inspiration - and thus a tragedy); but no - it is a softly-spoken young man. The apparition berates the poet for idleness: he should pick up his pen - but why? Perhaps he has not heard; and so the apparition tells him that his - i.e. the apparition's - master is dead and called to Jove. He sees that the poet is still dumbstruck so he tells the story. His master was born in 1465 in Fisherton Delamere [in Wiltshire]; it was a special birth, attended by a bevy of virtues, and supervised by Jove himself. No wicked spirit was permitted to attend: Prudence drove off Ignorance, Obedience Treason, and Vulcan - representing Ire - was shown the door by Forgetfulness (and there is a brief digression on Paulet's later kindness and freedom from vengefulness). The young Paulet went to school and Thavies Inn, and became an utter barrister at the Temple (Broughton is the authority for all this). Then follows a very detailed account of his various positions under various monarchs, which I shall pass over. Broughton makes surprisingly little of Paulet's longevity, especially since he makes him older by ten years than he was. He just says that it allowed him to see his great-grandchildren reach manhood. An allusion to out-Nestoring Nestor might have been useful here - but Broughton is not given to such references. The apparition ends by repeating his demand: Why does the poet not write something? Has he been bewitched by Circe? The poet comes to and explains that this is the first he ahs heard of his master's death, and that his poetic gift is slender. It needs a servant of Minerva to do the job of praising Paulet decently; he can try, but it would be like the singing-match between Apollo and Midas (as told in Ovid's Metamorphoses). His poetry would resemble Pan's song, which Midas might like, but not Mount Tmolus! he will have a go, however, despite the inadequacy of his 'rurall ryme' (C2v); the learned can write a better epitaph later, perhaps. That's about it: he remarks that Paulet was a good servant of the crown and that his soul has gone to heaven. Then the miniscule 'epitaph' follows as item 7.

7. Poem: 'An Epitaph', 6 lines in poulters measure, beginning: 'A Baron borne to blisse, a Lorde of wealth and wit' (C3v). - Paulet was a wise and loyal counsellor who lived long. The main text seems to end here as it is marked with: FINIS..
Postliminary Material
8. Poem (in Latin): 'Epitaphium D. Guilhelmi Paulets militis, Baronis diui Johannis Comitis Uolcestriae: Marchionis Wintoniae, ac vnius ab arcanis regiae magistatis, ac domini supremi thesaurarij Angliae, [et mi]litis illustrissimi ordinis Garteri, qui obit decimo die Martij. Anno Reginae, Elziabethae decimo quarto. Anno{que} Dom. 1571' [An epitaph on sir William Paulet, knight, baron St. John, earl of Wiltshire, marques of Winchester, and one of her majesty's privy councillors, and lord high treasurer of England, and knight of the most noble order of the Garter, who died 10 March in the 14th year of the reign of queen Elizabeth, A. D. 1571], 36 lines divided into two sections each of 18 lines, beginning: 'ECquis erat, supremo, felicior, vsus honore' [Was there any man more fortunate . . .] (C4r-v).

9. Poem (in Latin): 'In eodem' [On the Same], 7 lines, beginning: 'MArchio termagnus quater et memorabilis [. . .]' [Thrice-great marques . . . ] (C4v). - The marquis was a great patriot, who prospered in many things, pleased many kings and queens, and died blessed in all: now he lies in this tomb, but his death is yet more blessed than life.

10. Signature: FINIS. R. BR.
See itme 1 above.
1. biography
2. dream vision
3. dialogue
4. verse
5. epitaph
1. Queen Elizabeth
2. birth
3. commonweal
4. death
5. dreams and dreaming
6. family
7. mercy
8. law
9. obedience
10. old age
11. virtue


There no specific source, though Broughton knew his Bible and refers to a story which may be from Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Compilation editions
edition title information bib.no.

The text used is the British Library copy of STC2 3901: A briefe discourse of the lyfe and death of the late right high and honourable Sir William Pawlet Knight; as repr. in EEBO.