Sir Christopher Hatton

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Hatton, Sir Christopher (1540–91). Lord chancellor. Of Northamptonshire gentry stock, and not wholly studious at the Inner Temple, his good looks and graceful dancing brought him to Queen Elizabeth's attention. Despite total dedication and devotion to her, his governmental career was slow to develop, though he early on became her recognized spokesman in the House of Commons. Vice-chamberlain and a privy counsellor by 1577, member of the commissions which tried Babington and Mary, queen of Scots (1586), and regarded as most likely to know Elizabeth's real mind, he was appointed lord chancellor in 1587, when any shortfall in legal training was outweighed by impartiality, common sense and Star Chamber experience; his moderate attitude that ‘neither fire nor steel’ should be used in settling religious matters helped maintain internal quiet. A lover of literature, occasionally a patron, he died unmarried and was buried in St Paul's cathedral.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Sir Christopher Hatton, 1540–91, English courtier. He became a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, from whom he received offices, honors, and lands. Knighted in 1578, he acted as Elizabeth's spokesman in the House of Commons and, although not a lawyer, was lord chancellor from 1587 until his death. He was a friend and patron of Edmund Spenser. Hatton himself wrote the fourth act of Tancred and Gismund (first pub. 1591), a tragedy by Robert Wilmot, Henry Noel, Hatton, and others. Ely Place in Holborn, formerly in the possession of the bishops of Ely, was granted to him, and the name of the garden there was changed to Hatton Garden.

See A. G. Vines, Neither Fire Nor Steel: Sir Christopher Hatton (1978).