Robert Recorde and William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke
William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and Robert Recorde, Doctor of Physicke seem unlikely and unevenly matched antagonists. Herbert was a courtier, soldier and magnate, Recorde the son of a merchant and an intellectual. Their clash arose from Recorde’s Crown appointments. In January 1549, Herbert’s men wrecked the iron mill which Recorde had set up for the Crown at Pentyrch near Cardiff, seized property there and pursued Recorde relentlessly for the profits from the operation for 2 years. Later that year Recorde, as comptroller of the Mint at Bristol, refused to hand over its assets to Herbert, and was confined to Court. Part of his next Crown appointment placed Recorde as overall Surveyor of the Dublin Mint, where he suspected Herbert of interference with the intent of diverting profits to his benefit. Matters were brought to a head in 1556 by a letter that Recorde wrote to Queen Mary in which he accused Herbert, by this time Earl of Pembroke, of a range of financial peculations and, as Herbert interpreted it, of traitorous behaviour. At the subsequent trial Pembroke asked for damages of £12,000 but Recorde was fined £1,000 and costs. Portions of Recorde’s case were rebutted with the aid of William Cecil. Unable to pay the fine, Recorde was committed to the Kings Bench prison, Southwark, where he died.