v 6.30.00
28 Jan 2022
updated 28 Jan 2022

Arnold the third son of Alexander Cosbie and his wife Dorcas Sidney, followed arms as his profession, and in 1580 was serving in one of the Irish regiments in the Low Countries at the same that Sir William Stanley traitorously surrendered the town of Deventer to the Spaniards, carrying over with him the greater part of the Irish. Cosbie remained with Sir William upon the subject of the surrender of Deventer, as a letter written by him from Utrecht to Sir William is mentioned in Oldy's Diary (1) as one of the articles in a MS miscellany, found, it would seem, by Henry, Earl of Derby. His conduct seems to have been highly meritorious, as a pension of 3/- per day, no inconsiderable amount in those times, was granted to him. (1).

In 1589, Captain Cosbie is mentioned among the Captains about to serve under Lord Willoughby.(2)

Unbridled passions, however, brought this fair beginning to a tragical and shameful ending. In 1591 he quarrelled with Lord Bourke of Castle Connell, in consequence of some report that the latter had spoken injuriously of him.

Lord Bourke appeared at first reluctant to give him satisfaction, alleging his rank as a peer, but he gave way upon that point, and they met early on the 14th January, on Wandsworth Common, without seconds. Lord Bourke was found desperately wounded, and conveyed to a house in Wandsworth, where he died two or three hours afterward, having, in the hearing of the Earls of Essex and Ormonde, accused Cosbie of having attacked him while he was unbuckling his spurs,and thrust his rapier twelve inches into his breast, and afterwards given him twenty-three wounds with his dagger.

Upon this evidence, Cosbie was, on the 23rd January, tried for wilful murder at Southwark, and found guilty, and on the 27th of the same month executed at Wandsworth Townes End, having been attended on the scaffold by Doctor Fletcher, Lord Bishop of Bristol.

These particulars are derived from two tracts, the (it is believed) unique originals of which are preserved in the Library at Lambeth Palace, which have been re-printed by Mr. Collier.

The first is entitled "The most horrible and tragicall murther of the right honourable, the vertuous, and valorous Gentleman, John, Lord Bourgh, Baron of Castle Connell, committed by Arnold Cosbie, the fourteenth of Januarie. By W. R. a servant of the said Lord Bourgh. - Printed by R.R., 1591." This is written in an extremely bombastic style, and with the utmost virulence against Cosbie.

The second, printed for William Wright, 1591, is entitled, "The manner of death and execution of Arnold Cosbie, for murthering the Lord Boorke, who was executed at Wandsworth Townes End, on the 27th Januarie, 1591, with certain verses written by the said Arnold Cosbie in the time of his imprisonment, containing matter of great effect, as well touching his life, as also his penitence before his death." The verses in question, which follow, are by no means without merit, and are said by Mr. J. Payne Collier to be amongst the earliest examples of blank verse in the English language. These are headed:

An Elegie written by himself in the Marshalsea, after his condemnation

Breake hearte, be mute, my sorrow's past compare,
Cosbie complains no more, but sit and die.
Tears are no token of such dreriment
As thy true griefe pours to the angelic heavens
O great Commander of this glorious round!
The workmanship of Thine immortall hand!
Thou that dost ride upon the Cherubims,
And tunest the deepe in dreadfull harmonie,
Cast down Thine eie upon a wretched soule;
And from Thy throne of grace, great Jacob's God,
Raine mercie on me, miserable man!
Falne into snares of sinne, and shameful death,
From thee, sweete Saviour, Saviour of the worlde.
O worlde, vaine worlde, inconstant and unkind,
Why hast thou bred me, nurst me, brought me up,
To see this daie of sorrow and of shame?
Cosbie complaine, Captains and men of warre
With whom I whilome spent my careless daies,---
Daies dated but to this, to end in shame.
Farewell! adieu to you and all the rest
That follow armes, and armes and life adieu!---
From armes and life I passe, drencht in the pit
Digde by my desperate hands, hands full of blood.
Bleede heart to think what these accursed hands
Have perpetrated. Pardon, heaven and earth,
And gentle Lord, misled by my amis,
Fouly by me sent to thy longest home,----
O pardon Cosbie's cruel minde!
His mind enraged, and gentle bloud by wrath
And furie tainted and empoisoned;
Why do I kill my doleful dying hearte
With this sad rehearsall of this heavie shame?
O death, rocke me asleepe! Father of heaven,
That hast sole power to pardon sinnes of men,
Forgive the faults and folly of my youth,--
My youth misspent in waste and wantoness,
And for sweete Jesus' sake, forgive my soule
Fouly defild with this above the rest,--
This wickedness, this hard unworthy deed!
And, lastly, you whose fame I have defild
My kin, my countriemen, friends and allies,
Pardon! O pardon! such as , men to men
Can give, I beg for wronging you in all,--
For shaming you, in this my wretched end,
The fruitless crop, the mead of my desertes,
My bad, my base desertes. Sweete friends, forget
My name, my face, my fact,O blot me out,
Out of the worlde: put me out of your thoughts,
Or if you thinke, O thinke I never was;
Or if your thinke I was, thinke that I fell
Before some forte, dome holde in Belgia.
With this suppose, beguile your sorrows, friends;
Thinke that I fell before the canon's mouth,
Even in mine honor's height; that blessed day,
When in advancement of my name I left
My counytrie's ennemie in his base revolt.
O wretched man! to talke of honor's height,
Falne so basely into the pit of shame,
The pit of death. My God, my God, forgive me!
Whose honor I have stained, and laws infringe;
And thou my soveraigne, mistris, and my Queene!
Brighte starre of Englandes globe! forgive my fact,
Nor let it touch that royall princely hearte
That Cosbie hath misdone so hainously.
The circle of my time is compressed,
Arrived to the point where it began:
Worlde, countrie, kin and friends, farewell, farewell!
Flie thou my soule to heaven, the heaven of blisse!
O bodie! bear the scourge of thine amisse."

I'd say that the word remained is the very opposite of what was intended – Cosby surely remonstrated with the vile Stanley for his treachery:


Depositions of William Goghe, clerk of Capt. Brereton's band under Sir William Stanley. Left Deventer on the day the town was delivered up and came to England on Sunday. The day before the surrender Sir William assembled all the officers and required them to swear that they would do as he would do; whereunto they assented so that he would not attempt anything against the Queen's Majesty, and then he persuaded them that he would only bridle the townsmen because they did slackly furnish him and his soldiers with money and victuals which they thought he would do by taking more forces of Englishmen into the town. On the morning of the day Sir Wm. went forth of the town taking Capt. Cosby with him and about fifty soldiers, and appointed Capt. Brereton to ward at the gate. When they were come to a bridge about 2 miles out Sir Wm. left them secretly and went to the place where he had appointed to meet Taxis, so that his company thought they had lost him. He then came with the Spaniards and said to his soldiers, "now masters you are all the King of Spain's men, and bade them march towards the town. So they did and Taxis followed with 300 horse and 300 foot. They were let into the town by Owen Eaton, the sergeant-major, who kept the keys, and let in 1000 or more of the enemy. Capts. Cosby, Brereton and some others refused to stay although Sir Wm. offered them large sums of money, 300l. to Cosby. Winter, the clerk of his band kneeled down four times to have licence to depart, but could not obtain it. Capts. Groin, Eaton, Owen Eaton, Salsbury (who was messenger between Sir Wm. and Mr. Yorke) and some other new captains did stay with Sir Wm. and most of the kernes, but altogether against their will. The speech was that Sir Wm. had two tons of gold for delivering the town and some said that he had but 50000l and a chain of gold that Taxis gave him. Endd. 1 p. [Holland XIX. f. 340.]