Noy, William

, attorney-general in the reign of Charles I. the son of William Noy, of St. Burian, in Cornwall, gent, was born in 1577. In 1593 he was entered of Exeter-college, where he continued three years in close application to his studies. Thence he was removed to Lincoln’s- inn, to study the common law, in the knowledge of which he became very eminent. He was chosen to represent the borough of Helston in his own country, towards the end of James’s reign, in two parliaments; in both of which he shewed himself a professed enemy to the king’s prerogative. In 1625 he was elected a burgess for St. Ives, in which parliament, and another following, he continued in the same sentiments, until he was made attorney-general in 1631, which produced a total change in his views, and he became not only a supporter of the prerogative where it ought to be supported, but carried his | notions of this power so far as to advise the measure of ship-money, a tax levied without consent of parliament. He was unquestionably a man of great abilities, but flattered so much upon that account, that Clarendon says he thought “he could not give a clearer testimony that his knowledge in the law was greater than all other men’s, than by making that law, which all other men believed not to” be so. So he moulded, framed, and pursued the odious and crying project of soap; and with his own hand drew and prepared the writ for ship-money; both which will be the lasting monuments of his fame. In a word,“adds this excellent historian,” he was an unanswerable instance, how necessary a good education and knowledge of men is to make a wise man, at least a man fit for business.“Noy, however, did not live to see the full effect of his measures. In 1634 his health was much impaired by the fatigue arising from his professional duties, and he retired to Tunbridge Wells, where he died in August, and was buried at New Brentford. His will, which is dated June 3, about a month or six weeks before his death, contains the following singular clause:” All the rest of my estate I leave to my son Edward (who is executor to this my will), to be squandered as he shall think fit I leave it him for that purpose, and I hope no better from him.“Steele, in the Tatler, No. 9, observes that this” generous disdain, and reflection upon how little he deserved from so excellent a father, reformed the young man, and made Edward from an arrant rake become a fine gentleman." No such effect however followed; and within two years he was killed in a duel.

The king is said to have been much affected with attorney-general Noy’s death, and Laud paid him this compliment in his. “Diary:” “I have lost a near friend of him, and the Church the greatest she had of his condition, since she needed any such.” But the commons in general rejoiced; and the vintners, says Wood, or rather Howell, drank carouses, in hopes to dress meat again, and sell tobacco, beer, &c. which by a sullen capricio Noy restrained them from. The players too, for whom he had done no kindness, introduced him on the stage, and made him the subject of ridicule, in a comedy entitled, “A Projector lately dead, &c.” He was allowed, however, to have been a very profound lawyer .*


Lloyd informs that it was Noy who decided the curious case of the three graziers. "Three graziers at a fair had left their money with their hostess


while they went to market; one of them calls for the money and runs away; the other two come upon the woman, and sue her for delivering that which she had received from the three, before the three came and demanded it. The cause went against the woman, and judgment was ready to be pronounced; when Mr. Noy being a stranger, wisheth her to give him a fee, because he could not else plead and then moves in arrest of judgment, that he was retained by the defendant, and that the case was this: the defendant had received the money of the three together, and confesseth was not to deliver it until the same three demanded it; and therefore the money is ready: let the three men come, and it shall be paid; a motion which altered the whole proceedings."

This character of him appears | justifiable from the writings he left behind, and from the following books afterwards published, mostly during the common-wealth, when their merit only could have recommended them. 1. “A Treatise of the principal Grounds and Maxims of the Laws of England,1641, 4to, afterwards 8vo, and 12mo. 2. “Perfect Conveyancer; or, several select and choice Precedents,1655, 4to. “Reports of Cases in the time of Queen Elizabeth, K. James, and K. Charles the First; containing the most excellent Exceptions for all manner of Declarations, Pleadings, and Demurs, exactly examined and laid down,1656, fol. and reprinted in 1669. 4. “Complete Lawyer or, a Treatise concerning Tenures and Estates in Lands of Inheritance for Life, and other Hereditaments and Chattels real and personal,” c. 1661, 8vo. 5. “Arguments of Law and Speeches.

He also left behind him several choice collections that he had made from the records in the Tower of London, reduced into two large paper books of his own hand-writing: one contained collections concerning the king’s maintaining his naval power according to the practice of his ancestors and the other about the privileges and jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts. 1


Ath. Ox. I. 594.—Clarendon’s Hist.—Lloyd’s State Worthies.—Fuller’s Worthies.—Howell’s Letters, Book I. Sect. VI. Letter XVII.