This is the first biography of Sir Walter Mildmay, who dutifully served Queen Elizabeth I for thirty years as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sir Walter Mildmay and Tudor Government, by Stanford E. Lehmberg, brings Mildmay into proper historical perspective alongside other prominent Tudor leaders.
Virtually none of Mildmay’s writings had been printed, and his activities had not been studied, partly because of the inaccessibility of necessary materials. In the mid-twentieth century, however, the Northamptonshire Record Office was able to acquire family papers, of which Lehmberg happily took advantage. These, together with materials in the British Museum and the Public Record Office, yield a detailed account of Mildmay’s contributions to English financial administration.
But Mildmay was not merely an Exchequer official. As a Member of Parliament he gained towering stature; his model orations and indefatigable work in committees provided invaluable leadership from 1576 to 1589. As a Privy Councillor he was twice sent on important embassies to Mary, Queen of Scots; he gave carefully considered advice about Scottish and Dutch affairs; and he was called on to examine numerous minor matters. As a trusted administrator he helped oversee the great recoinage of 1560. As a private citizen deeply concerned for good learning and true religion he founded Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and engaged in other philanthropic enterprises. By the time of his death in 1589 he had led a full and dedicated life serving his country and his Queen.
Into Lehmberg’s scholarly, readable volume have been blended aspects of Mildmay’s public life and his associations with historically famous contemporaries, discriminately selected segments of his speeches, elements of his personal philosophy, and the achievements and failures of his political life. Enhancing the value of this study are carefully annotated footnotes and a complementary bibliography. Tudor specialists as well as lay readers will undoubtedly profit from this significant biography.