Excerpta Historica is in Letters.
Excerpta Historica: or, Illustrations of English History. Edited by Samuel Bentley.
It has been justly remarked that England, though abounding in talent, and excelling in various branches of literature, is so far from possessing a complete National History, that many of the most important events in her annals are still enveloped in mystery. The principal cause of this fact is, that the materials from which alone a more perfect History can be formed, are so extensive, so dispersed in different repositories, and frequently so difficult to decypher, that no individual can possibly devote sufficient time and labour to their examination. Our historians, therefore, availing themselves only of such documents as have been printed, have generally proceeded in one beaten track, copying each other's errors, and perpetuating each other’s misrepresentations.
Since the publication of the " Fœdera,'''' no effort has been made to form a collection of early muniments in illustration of British History. It is perhaps to be lamented that Rymer’s work is confined to public instruments alone; since, as might be expected, the omission of articles, which, for the sake of distinction, may be termed "private and domestic," has had a sensible effect on subsequent historians, who, with few exceptions, have superciliously neglected Antiquarian information. An intimate acquaintance with the manners and customs, the literature, the arts, and, in a word, with the moral condition of society, is however indispensably necessary to an historian; for it is his peculiar province to probe the motives of human actions: and unless he is capable of judging of men by the standard of contemporary opinion, of appreciating the agency by which events have been produced, and of viewing the times of which he writes as they were seen by those who lived in them, his opinions will be often erroneous, and his conclusions false.
The knowledge requisite for writing History must therefore be gained from contemporary records; and a perfect History of England never can be written until a very extensive series of miscellaneous documents shall have been collected, illustrated, and printed. For this purpose no collection can be too diversified, since every article may, besides information on the subject to which it peculiarly refers, yield facts in corroboration, or contradiction, of some other point of history; and it often happens that an entry in a book of expenditure overthrows the hypothesis from which important conclusions have been drawn; and that a single letter establishes beyond controversy how mistaken the world has been in its estimate of the character of some eminent personage, or in the cause to which some great event has been assigned.
Under these impressions the Excerpta Historica is undertaken. Its plan is to elucidate public events domestic and foreign, our ancient relations with France, Spain, and other nations, the laws and constitution of England, the state of the Navy and Army, the economy of the Royal Household, the splendour, magnificence, and personal character of our Monarchs, the history of Monastic Establishments, the lives of distinguished men, the costume, modes of living, manners and customs of our ancestors, the moral and political condition of society, the state of language and literature, the introduction and progress of the Arts, Heraldry, Courts of Chivalry, and Genealogy: in short, to collect whatever may present vividly to the mind the characteristic features of former ages. It is proposed in every case, when the original can be consulted, to give the entire document, or extracts from it, in as exact a form as typography will admit, with such comments as may be necessary to render the articles more generally useful and interesting. In a work of this miscellaneous nature, a strict arrangement cannot be observed; but this defect will be supplied by a digested Table of Contents and copious Indexes. — The aim of the Editors is to form a collection of the utmost consequence to Historians and Antiquaries; and their labours will, they trust, have a value as great and permanent as those of Leland, Hearne, Dugdale, and others, to whom Antiquarian Literature has been so eminently indebted.
The "Excerpta Historica" will be published in Royal Octavo, in Quarterly Parts, each consisting of not less than one hundred pages, accompanied by wood-cuts whenever the subjects may require them, at the price of Five Shillings. The Second Part will appear in July. — Gentlemen who may be disposed to encourage the work, are requested to signify their intention to their respective Booksellers, or to the Printer,
S. Bentley, Dorset Street, Fleet Street.
The Editors respectfully invite the contribution of curious and interesting articles, which will be properly acknowledged, and the originals returned.
Books, Letters, Excerpta Historica Page 3
[31 May 1444.] Grant Of The Wardship Of Margaret (age 1), Daughter And Heiress Of John Beaufort (deceased), Duke Of Somerset, To William De La Pole (age 47), Earl Of Suffolk, In The 22nd Hen. Vi. 1443.
Until the reign of Charles the Second, the custody of the lands of minors formed a profitable branch of the royal prerogative, their wardship being either sold by the Crown, or conferred on some faithful servant or needy favourite. The death of John de Beaufort (deceased), Duke of Somerset, grandson of John of Gaunt, in 1443, leaving by Margaret (age 34), daughter of Sir John Beauchamp of Bletsho, a daughter Margaret (age 1), only three years of age, his heir, afforded the King an opportunity of rewarding, in a substantial manner, Michael de la Pole (age 47), Earl of Suffolk, who was the next year created Marquess, and soon afterwards Duke, of Suffolk; but who, after attaining the highest honours, having been Lord Chancellor, and Lord High Admiral, was beheaded in a cock-boat near Dover in 1450.
The young heiress became one of the most distinguished women of her age: the foundress of a college, the patroness of literature, the mother of a sovereign, and progenitrix of every subsequent monarch of England. When very young, she married Edmond Tudor (age 13), Earl of Richmond, by whom, at the age of fifteen, she was mother of King Henry VII. The Earl (age 13) died in 1456, and she married, secondly, Sir Henry Stafford (age 19), a younger son of Humphrey, Duke of Buckingham (age 41); and thirdly, Thomas, Lord Stanley (age 9), first Earl of Derby. This illustrious lady lived just long enough to see her grandson on the Throne, and dying on the 29th of June, 1 Hen. VIII. 1509, aged about sixty-nine, was interred in the south aisle of Henry the Seventh's Chapel at Westminster.
Right Reverend fader in God Right trusty and Right welbeloved we grete you wel. And for as moche as oure Cousin the Duc of Somerset (deceased) is nowe late passed to God mercy the whiche hath a doughter and heir to succede after hym of ful tender age called Margarete (age 1). We considering the notable services that oure Cousin the earl of Suffolk (age 47) hath doon unto us and tendering hym therfore the more spially as reson wol have of oure grace and espialle propre mocion and mere deliberacion graunted unto hym to have the warde and mariage of the said Margarete withouten eny thing therfore unto us or oure heires yelding. Wherfore we wol and charge you that unto oure said Cousin of Suffolk (age 47) ye do make upon this oure graunte oure tres patent souffisant in lawe and in deue forme. And that ye faille not hereof. As we spially truste you and as ye desire to do unto us singuleir plesir. And that ye sende unto us oure said tres patent seeled by the berer of these. Lating you wite that ye shal hereafter at suche tyme as ye come unto oure presence have suche warrant for youre discharge in this behalve. As shal be souffisant unto you and as the cas requireth. Yeven under oure signet at oure Castel of Berkhampstede [Map] the laste day of May.
To the Right Reverend fader in God oure Right trusty and Right wel beloved the archebisshop of Caunterbury oure Chancellor of Englande.
Books, Letters, Excerpta Historica Page 152
Letters Patent Of King Henry The Fourth Certifying The Legitimacy Of Sir Thomas Swynford; With Notices Of The Swynford Family.
Every one is aware that John of Gaunt, "time-honoured Lancaster," formed an illicit connection with Katherine, the widow of Sir Hugh Swynford, and daughter and coheiress of Sir Payne Roet, Knight, a native of Hainault, and Guienne King of Arms, and that he subsequently married her.
This lady had been governess of the Duke's daughters by his first wife, when his attachment to her, perhaps, commenced. In March 1377, Lady Swynford obtained a confirmation from Edward the Third of a grant from the Duke of Lancaster, of the manors of Gryngelley and Wheteley for life.1 On the 27th December, 3 Ric. II. 1379, the Duke granted her the wardship of the heir of Bertram de Sanneby, "pour le bone et greable service quelle nostre treschier et bien amee Dame Katherine Swynford, Maistresse de noz tresames filles Philipe et Elizabeth de Lancastre, ad fait a nos dittes filles;" and in September, 5 Ric. II. 1381, he gave her an annuity of two hundred marks, payable out of his honor of Tickhill.2 The Duke's second wife Constance, daughter and heiress of Peter, King of Castile and Leon, died in 1394; and two years afterwards, namely, on the 13th January 1396, being then about the age of fifty-four, he married Lady Swynford at Lincoln, to the great displeasure of the Duchess of Gloucester and other ladies of the blood royal.3 As Lady Swynford was then upwards of forty, and had been the Duke's mistress above twenty years, it may be inferred, that gratitude and conscientious motives were his only inducements for making her his wife. The Duke of Lancaster had by her, before his marriage, four children, who were surnamed Beaufort, from being born in Beaufort Castle in France: namely, John, who became Earl and Marquess of Somerset; Henry, Bishop of Winchester and Cardinal of England; Thomas, Duke of Exeter;4 and Joan, who married Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmoreland. All these children obtained letters of legitimation from Richard the Second, in February 1397, which was preceded by a similar act by the Pope. The King's patent for the purpose was read in the Parliament then sitting at Westminster;5 and the proceeding was ratified and confirmed by its authority. On the same occasion, Sir John Beaufort was created Earl of Somerset to hold to him and the heirs male of his body.6
Note 1. Fœdera, vii. 140.
Note 2. Sandford's Genealogical History, ed. 1707, p. 253.
Note 3. Ibid. and Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 119.
Note 4. He was buried at Bury St. Edmund's, and on the 20th of February 1772, his corpse being accidentally discovered, the coffin was sold as old lead, and his remains shamefully exposed.
Note 5. Rot. Parl. iii. p. 343a.
Note 6. Rot. Parl. iii. p. 343.
It has been generally considered that the instrument by which the Beauforts were legitimated contains a special exception with respect to the Royal dignity; but a very remarkable fact has been recently discovered on the subject. The patent, as originally granted, contains no such reservation, nor was it introduced into the copy which was entered on the Rolls of Parliament when it received the sanction of the legislature; but when Henry the Fourth exemplified and confirmed the grant of Richard to the Earl of Somerset in 1407, the words, "Excepta dignitate regali," appear to have been added to the enrolment of the grant on the patent Rolls, for those words occur on it as an interlineation, and from the difference in the colour of the ink, are presumed to have been inserted at a subsequent period, though the hand is very nearly the same. In the exemplification by Henry the Fourth in 1407, the words are inserted; and the following explanation of the circumstance is probably not far from the truth. Henry the Fourth was the son of John of Gaunt, and finding that the grant to his father's children by Katherine Swynford might authorize them to assert a claim to the throne, on the failure of his own issue, as representatives of the line of Lancaster, probably thought it prudent to prevent such an occurrence by assuming a power which would now be held illegal, of adding a reservation to the grant of his predecessor, and obliging one of the grantees to receive a confirmation of that grant with the exception introduced into it, as if it had formed part of the original document. It escaped Henry, however, that the grant had become an act of Parliament, and that even if he had the right, of his own authority, to qualify a former grant, he could not interpolate a statute; so that in a legal view the addition to the patent of the 20 Ric. II. on the patent Rolls is of no effect. From this singular fact it may be concluded, that as the issue of John of Gaunt were recognized by Parliament as being legitimate, and as being capable of possessing all honours, dignities, pre-eminences, &c. without any reservation whatever, Henry the Seventh was, as he described himself, the lineal heir of John of Gaunt, and the representative of the House of Lancaster. If however, as is not impossible, though the dates render it improbable, John Beaufort, the eldest son of John of Gaunt by Katherine Swynford, was born before Henry the Fourth, the King's motive for introducing this exception into the patent is still more obvious, because without such a reservation a question might have arisen whether Beaufort, as the eldest son, had not by that instrument a prior right to the crown to Henry himself, supposing any legal claim to the throne could have been derived from John of Gaunt, whilst descendants of his elder brothers existed.
The following is a translation of the patent by which the issue of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford were legitimated.
"Be it remembered, that on Tuesday the fifteenth day of Parliament, the Chancellor, by the King's command, declared how our Holy Father the Pope had, in reverence of the most excellent person of the King, and of his honorable uncle the Duke of Guyenne and of Lancaster, and of his blood, enabled [habliez] and legitimatized Sir John de Beauford, his brothers and his sister, and that therefore our Lord the King as entire Sovereign [entier Emperor] of his Realm of England, for the honour of his blood, wills, and hath of his full royal power enabled and of his own proper authority made the said John, his said brothers and sister, muliers1, and also pronounced and published the ability [l’abilite] and legitimatization according to the form of the King's charter thereof made. The which charter was read in full Parliament and delivered to the said Duke, father of the said John, and his said brothers and sister, the tenor of which charter ensueth. Richard by the grace of God, King of England and France, and Lord of Ireland, to our most dear cousins the noble men, John the Knight, Henry the Clerk, Thomas 'Domicello,'2 and to our beloved the noble woman Joan Beauford 'Domicelle,'1 the most dear relatives of our uncle the noble John Duke of Lancaster, born our lieges, greeting and the favour of our royal majesty. Whilst internally considering how incessantly and with what honours we are graced by the very useful and sincere affection of our aforesaid uncle, and by the wisdom of his counsel we think it proper and fit that, for the sake of his merits, and in contemplation of his favors, we should enrich you (who are endowed by nature with great probity and honesty of life and behaviour, and are begotten of royal blood, and by the divine gift are adorned with many virtues,) with the strength of our royal prerogative of favour and grace. Hence it is, that, yielding to the entreaties of our said uncle your father, we do, in the fullness of our royal power and by the assent of Parliament, by the tenor of these presents empower you, who as it is asserted suffer from the want of birthright, (notwithstanding such defect which, and the qualities thereof, we take to be in these presents sufficiently expressed) to be raised, promoted, elected, assume, and be admitted to all honours dignities, [except to the royal dignity]3 pre-eminencies, estates, degrees and offices public and private whatsoever, as well perpetual as temporal, and feodal and noble, by whatsoever names they may be designated, whether they be Duchies, Principalities, Earldoms, Baronies or other fees, and whether they depend or are holden of us mediately or immediately, and to receive retain bear, and exercise the same as freely and lawfully as if ye were born in lawful matrimony, and you and every of you do restore and legitimatize: any statutes or customs of our realm of England to the contrary thereof made or observed (which we consider to be herein fully expressed) in anywise notwithstanding. Witnessed by the King at Westminster the 9th day of February."
Note 1. A man hath a son by a woman before marriage, which is a bastard and unlawful; and after he marries the mother of the bastard, and they have another son, this second son is called mulier, and is lawful, and shall be heir to his father. You shall always find them with this addition when compared. "Bastard eigne et Mulier puisne." Blount's Glossary, Coke's Institutes, 243 &c.
Note 2. See a long note in Blount's Glossary on these words as used in this charter! He denies the definition given of it by Coke, that it meant 'a young soldier not yet knighted, or nobly born,' 4 lnst. f. 37, and contends, that it is an obsolete Latin word anciently applied to the King of France's natural sons, and sometimes to the eldest sons of noblemen there. It would appear however to be the appellation of persons of birth who were attached to the royal household or the establishments of individuals of high rank. "Domicelle" was constantly used to describe the ladies in waiting on the Queen or royal family. See the Wardrobe Accounts of the 28th Edward I. and various other records.
Note 3. Interlined in the copy on the Patent Rolls, 20 Ric. II. p. 2. m. 6.
Note 4. Rot. Parl. 20 Ric. II. No. 28. vol. iii. p. 343. The date in italics does not occur on the Rolls of Parliament.
John of Gaunt died in February 1399, and by his will gave to his "most dear wife Katherine" his two best nouches, excepting the one he had given to the King, his large gold cup which the Earl of Wilts gave the King, and which his Majesty bestowed on the Duke when he last went into Guienne, with all the buckles, rings, diamonds, rubies, and other things that would be found in a little box of cypress wood of which he himself carried the key, as well as whatever might be found in the purse which he wore himself; together with his vestment of cloth of gold, the bed and appurtenances, with all the copes, tapettes, cushions, 'closet oreillers,' &c. which he bought of the Duchess of Norfolk; his large bed of black velvet embroidered with a circle of fetterlocks and garters, all the beds made for his body, called in England 'trussing beds;' "mon meillour cerf ov le bonne rubie, & mon meillour coler ovecq' touts les diamandes ensemble," and other articles, and all the goods and chattels which were hers before her marriage with him, together with all the jewels, &c. which he had given her since.1
The Duchess Katherine survived the Duke only four years, dying on the lOth of May 1403, and was buried in the Cathedral of Lincoln.2
Note 1. Royal Wills.
Note 2. "The escotcheons of this Katherine and the Duke of Lancaster are inlaid in brass on her tomb in the Cathedral Church of Lincoln: that above her head, on the right side, being charged with the arms of England, with a label Ermine; the other, on the left, contains the arms aforesaid impaling those of this Katherine, which were Gules, three Katherine wheels Or." — Sandford's Genealogical History. The inscription is — "Icy gist Dame Katerine Duchesse de Lancastre, jadys feme de la tres noble et tres gracious Prince John, Duk de Lancastre, fitz a tres noble Roy Edward le tierce, La quelle Katerine morust le x jour de May l’an du grace M.cccc. tierz, de quelle alme Dieu eyt merci et pité. Amen." — Dugd. Bar. ii. 119.
Great labour has been bestowed on the history and descent of the children of Katherine Swynford by the Duke of Lancaster; but of her issue by her first husband, or of his pedigree, nothing has been hitherto collected. The following document and other notices will throw some light on the subject; and as the Swynfords, besides being closely connected with the blood-royal, were, according to the poet's biographers, though the fact is very questionable, nearly allied to Chaucer, this article may be deemed to possess more interest than is generally found in genealogical statements.
Sir Payne Roelt, a Knight of Hainault, and Guienne King of Arms, had, it is said, two daughters and coheirs, Philippa and Katherine. No particulars of his pedigree have been discovered: his arms, in allusion to his name, were Gules, three Katherine wheels Or.
Philippa (age 24), his eldest daughter, is stated to have been the maid of honour to Philippa Queen of Edward the Third who by the name of "Philippa Pycard" obtained a grant of one hundred shillings per annum on the 20th January 1370, and married Geoffrey Chaucer (age 27), to whom, in consequence, it is supposed, of this connexion, the Duke of Lancaster granted the Castle of Dodington. Of John of Gaunt's connexion with Chaucer, however, no proof has been found; and the circumstance of the lady assigned to him for his wife being styled "Philippa Pycard," instead of Roelt, renders the assertion, that she was the sister of the Duchess of Lancaster, extremely doubtful.
Katherine, the second daughter, was born about the year 1350, and married Sir Hugh Swynford, Knight, in or shortly before 1367, by whom (who died abroad in the 46 Edw. III 1372,) she had one son, Thomas Swynford, who was a child only four years old at his father's death.1 It is highly probable that she was then in Guienne with her husband; and that she gladly accepted the offer of taking charge of the Duke of Lancaster's daughters, who were at that time under ten years of age. The precise period when the guilty connexion commenced between her and the Duke cannot be ascertained, because the ages of their children can only be inferred. As however John, their eldest son, was a Knight in 1391, and Henry, their second son, was made Bishop of Lincoln in 1397, the former must have been born at least as early as 1375, which proves that the connexion quickly followed, even if it did not precede, the decease of her husband. If it could be established that the Earl of Somerset was not born until the year following the decease of his mother's first husband, the reproach which Richard the Third used against his descendant the Earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry the Seventh, that the Earl of Somerset was "son unto Dame Kateryne Swynford, and of her in double advoutrow goten,"2 would be ill founded.
Note 1. Esch. 46 E. III. No. 54.
Note 2. Ellis' Original Letters, Second Series, i. 164. and Paston Letters, vol. ii. p. 319.
The family of Swynford were ancient and respectable, and seem to have been originally seated in Huntingdonshire, in which county a William Swynford died seized of the manor of Stivekley in the 50 Hen. III. 1266.1
Note 1. Escheat 50 Hen. III.
In the 30th, 33rd, and 34th Edw. I. a Sir John Swynford represented Huntingdonshire in Parliament1, and was probably the person who is included among the Knights Bannerets of that county in the Roll of Arms of the reign of Edward the Second, when he bore "Argent, three boars' heads Gules." The branch of the family from which Sir Hugh Swynford descended, was seated in Lincolnshire before the reign of Edward the Second; though in the same Roll of Arms a Sir Thomas Swynford of Hunts is stated to have borne the arms of his branch, namely, "Argent, on a chevron Sable three boars' heads Or;" a distinction perhaps from the other family of the same name, both coats being derived from their name Swyneford. Although several persons, women as well as men, called Swyneford, died seized of lands in the counties of Huntingdon, Lincoln, and Northampton, between 5 Edw. III. and 46 Edw. III. the pedigree of Sir Hugh cannot be connected with them2, and records only admit of its being commenced with
Sir Thomas Swynford, Knight, who bore "Argent, on a chevron Sable three boars' heads Or,"3 and who died seized of lands in Colbye and the manor of Ketelthorp in Lincolnshire in the 35 Edw. III. 1361, leaving his son3 and heir.
Sir Hugh Swynford, twenty-one years of age. He received letters of protection, being in the retinue of John Duke of Lancaster in Gascony, on the 2nd February, 40 Edw. III. 1366;5 and died beyond the seas in the 46 Edw. III. 1372, being seized of the manors of Coleby and Ketelthorp, with other lands in Lincolnshire, leaving by Katherine Roelt, afterwards Duchess of Lancaster, his son and heir,
Thomas de Swynford, then four years old.6 He made proof of his age in the 18 Ric. II. 1394-5;7 but if he was four years old in 1372, he must have attained his majority about 1389. There is reason to believe that he formed part of the suite of his father-in-law, the Duke of Lancaster, who styled him in his will, dated 3rd February 1397, "mon tres chere bacheliere," and bequeathed him one hundred marks. In 1404 he was employed on an embassy in France; and several letters from him and his colleague, Nicholas de Ryssheton, to the French commissioners and to King Henry the Fourth, dated at Calais in September and October 1404, relative to the negotiation, are preserved.8
Note 1. Parliamentary Writs, vol. i. 855.
Note 2. As so little is known of the Swynford family, it may be useful to insert such particulars, not introduced into the text, as have been brought to light on this occasion.
Thomas Swynford died in the 5 Edw. II. seized of the manors of Knayth and Nocton in Lincolnshire, leaving by Margaret his wife, who died in the 15 Edw. III. John, his son and heir, who was thirty years old in 1341. — Escheats 5 Edw. II. No. 45, and 15 Edw. III. No. 38.
John de Swynford, who died in 6 Edw. III. seized of Stivekle Magna and Broughton, co. Hunts, and some lands in Essex, leaving his son John, four years old, (Escheat 6 Edw. III. No. 23,) was, according to Morant's History of Essex, the son of a John de Swyneford, and held the manor of Little Chishale in Essex in the 12 Edw. II.
John de Swynford died seized of Nocton and Donston, co. Lincoln, in the 17 Edw. III. leaving Margaret his daughter, aet. 24. — Esch. 17 Edw. III. No. 11.
Margaret de Swynford, wife of Thomas Fitz Eustace, died seized of Magna Stivekle and other lands, co. Hunts, in the 23 Edw. III. leaving her kinsman William Swynford her heir, who, by Eleanor his wife, had issue, Thomas, then æt. 1, Isabel, and Elizabeth — Esch. 23 Edw. III. No. 5.
Sir John Swynford,Knight, died in the 44 Edw. III. seized of Sprotton Haldenby and the Manor of Newbottlegrave, co. Northampton, leaving by Alice his wife, Elizabeth, his daughter and heir, æt. 13, and wife of Sir Thomas Broughton, Knt.— Esch. 46 Edw. III. No. 57.
By deed dated at London on Thursday next after the Feast of St Leonard, 31 Edw. III. John Warrender and Henry Calle citizens and clothiers of London, executors of the will "Ric’i de Swynford dudum Civis et Lanarij" of the same city, late executor of the will of Edmund de Saunford citizen and clothier of London, sell to Walter de Kent Clerk and another, (by authority of the said Edward's wiIl) certain houses in Powrtes lane in the Parish of St. Dunstan near the Tower of London.
Thomas Pauncefote, who was living towards the end of the reign of Edward the Fourth, married Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Swynford. — Vincent's MS. in the College of Arms, No. 56.
Sir John Swynford married Joan, daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Arden, and had by her a daughter, who married William Abberbury, early in the reign of Henry the Sixth. — MS. marked F. 1. in the College of Arms; but in Baker's History of Northamptonshire Sir John Swynford of Spratton jure uxoris, who was Alice daughter and heir of Thomas Arden of Hanwell co. Oxon, and of Spratton, died in 46 Edward III. leaving Elizabeth his daughter and heir wife of William Alderbury, who was seized of Spratton in 48 Edward III.
Sir William Tyrrell, in the reign of Edward the Third, married Joan, daughter [and coheir, Wotton's Baronetage, vol. ii. p. 453] of Sir William Swynford of Essex. Their grandson, Sir John Tyrrell, was treasurer of the Household to Henry the Sixth. — Philpot's MS. marked a in the College of Arms. The arms there assigned to Swynford are those borne by Sir Norman de Swynford, namely, with the difference of a cinquefoil in the upper quarter.
Note 3. Roll of Arms, temp. Edw. II.
Note 4. It is very probable that he had a brother called Norman, for a Sir Norman Swynford, Knight, who bore the same arms differenced by a cinquefoil in the canton, and was in the retinue of the Prince of Wales in Gascony in February, 30 Edw. III. 1356, died in the 42 Edw. III. seized of lands in Brauncewell, and of the manor of Lee in Lincolnshire, leaving by Margaret, sister and heir of John de Trehampton and widow of Sir John de Braose, a son, John Swynford, æt. 23. — Roll of Arms, temp. Edw. III. Fœdera, v. 844; and Escheat 42 Edw. III. No. 50.
Note 5. Escheat 46 Edw. IIL No. 54.
Note 6. Calend. lnquis. post Mortem.
Note 7. Escheat 46 Edw. III No. 54.
Note 8. Cotton MS. (ialba B. 1. Nos. 36, 37, 38, 39, 48, 52, 54.
By the death of his mother, some lands in Hainault devolved upon him; but in consequence of doubts being entertained of his legitimacy, he found difficulty in obtaining possession of them. To obviate this objection, Henry the Fourth, in October 1411, addressed a letter to his subjects to the following purport:-
"The King to all and singular the faithful in Christ, to whom these present letters shall come, greeting, and to these presents be given undoubted faith. We believe it to be a pious deed and acceptable to God, and it is meet for the royal dignity, to cause to be enlightened by the testimony of truth those minds which are obscured by the darkness of doubt. Hence it is that divers inheritances in the country of Hainault having lately descended to our beloved and trusty Knight, Sir Thomas Swynford, from the most renowned lady Katherine de Roelt, deceased, late Duchess of Lancaster, his mother, certain persons of those parts doubting that the said Thomas, son and heir of the aforesaid Katherine, was begotten in lawful matrimony, have not, by reason of such doubt, permitted the same Thomas to possess the aforesaid inheritances, or to receive the farms, rents, or issues thereof. Wherefore be it known unto you all, that the aforesaid Thomas is the son and heir of the aforesaid Katherine, begotten and born of the same Katherine in lawful wedlock, and that a certain writing of the said Thomas to these our present letters annexed, sealed with the seal of arms of the said Thomas, is his deed, and that he and his father and all his paternal ancestors have in all times past borne the said arms and used the like seal. And this we do by these presents make known unto all whom it may concern. In witness of all and singular which premises, we have caused these our letters to be made patent. Given in our Palace of Westminster, under the testimony of our great seal, on the fifth day of October."
The deed with the arms is not enrolled; but in a miscellaneous collection of extracts from the Patent Rolls, made many years since, the following arms are sketched in the margin: "Argent, on a chevron Sable three boars' heads couped Or;" which agree with the arms assigned to Sir Hugh Swynford, the father of Sir Thomas. The suspicion of his legitimacy may have arisen from his mother losing her reputation when she became the mistress of John of Gaunt, and from the idea that he was the Duke's child.
[1433.] Nothing more has been discovered of Sir Thomas Swynford (age 66), excepting that the Duke of Exeter, his half-brother, bequeathed him, by the appellation of "my brother," a silver-gilt cup, and that he died in the 11 Hen. VI. 1432-31, having alienated his lands in Lincolnshire, as the inquisition on his death finds that he held nothing in that county. He appears to have had issue two sons, Thomas (age 27) and William (age 25). Of William, all that is known is, that his half-uncle, Cardinal Beaufort (age 58), by a codicil to his will, dated in 1447, in which he called him "William Swynford my nephew," left him 400l. with a certain quantity of silver vessels.
Note 1. Esch. 11 H.VI. No. 4.
Sir Thomas Swynford, the eldest son, was twenty-six years of age, and a knight at his father's decease.1 He seems to have been the Thomas Swynford who was one of the esquires to his uncle Thomas Duke of Exeter, to whom that nobleman by his will, dated in December 1426, bequeathed fifty marks, at which time he was just twenty years old. He died before the 5 Edw. IV. 1465, and was probably the father of Thomas Swynford, who in that year made proof of his age2, and obtained livery of lands in Lincolnshire.
Note 1. Ibid.
Note 2. Calend. Inquis. post Mortem, vol. iv.
Books, Letters, Excerpta Historica Page 260
16 May 1536. Translation Of A Letter From A Portuguese Gentleman To A Friend In Lisbon, Describing The Execution Of Anne Boleyn (age 35), Lord Rochford (age 33), Brereton, Norris (age 54), Smeton (age 24), And Weston (age 25).
The following extremely interesting Letter, which has been translated and obligingly communicated by Viscount Strangford, from the original in the Cartorio of the Monastery of Alcobaja, in Portugal, conveys an account of the execution of Anne Boleyn and her presumed accomplices, by, probably, an eye-witness.
Several letters from Sir William Kingston (age 60), the Lieutenant of the Tower, to Secretary Cromwell (age 51), have been printed1, which afford minute information on the conduct of the unfortunate Queen, from the time of her committal to the Tower until the day before her execution, together with notices of Lord Rochford, whose request to receive the sacrament was thus alluded to:-
"I have told my Lord of Rochford," says Kingston, on the 16th of May, "that he be in readiness to-morrow to suffer execution, and so he accepts it very well, and will do his best to be ready, notwithstanding he would have received his rights [i.e. the sacrament] which hath not been used and in especial here."2
From the same letter it is manifest that the Queen still entertained hopes of mercy, as Sir William Kingston adds — "Yet this day at dinner the Queen said that she should go to Antwerp, and is in hope of life." Her desire to go to Antwerp may be ascribed to its being the residence of many persons of the reformed religion, to one of whom she had rendered some service.3
Note 2. Ibid. p. 63.
Note 3. Ibid. p. 46.
17 May 1536. Lord Rochford suffered on the next day, Wednesday, the 17th of May; but the letter now printed contains a fuller account of his execution than has hitherto appeared. On Thursday the 18th, Kingston wrote again to Cromwell, and as his letter illustrates and corroborates that which is here given, it will be inserted at length.
Syr thys shalbe to advertyse you I have resayved your Lett' wherin yo...aa have strangerys conveyed yowt of the Towre and so thay be by the... of Richard Gressum, & Will-m Loke, & Wythepoll, bot the umbrb of stra... not xxx. and not mony; Hothe and the inbassit'of the emperor had a... ther and honestly put yowt. Sr yf we have not anowrec serten... d be knowen in London, I thynke he wilbe bot few and I thynk... humbur ware bes: for I suppose she wyll declare hyr self to b... woman for all men bot for the Kyng at the or of hyr de... mornyngk she sent for me that I myght be with hyr at... asshe reysayved the gud lord to the in tent I shuld here hy... towchyng hyr innosensy alway to be clere1 & in the writy... she sent for me, and at my commyng she sayd M. Kyngston I he... not dy affore none, & I am very sory ther fore; for I thowth... be dede... d past my payne. I told hyr it shuld be now payne it w... hard say the execut was very gud and I have a lyt... r hand abowt it lawyng hartely.
I have sen also wemen executed and atp they have bene in gre... ige. Thys Lady hasse meche joy and plesur in dethe... newaly with hyr and hasse bene syns ij of the co... the effect of hony thyng that ys here at t... well.
To Mastr. Secretory.
Note 1. This passage appears to mean that she requested Kingston to be present when she received the sacraraent ("good Lord" being probably used in the sense of "Bon Dieu") that he might witness her declaration of innocency at that Solemn moment.
Note 2. MS. Cotton. Otho C. x. fol. 22.3. Printed in Ellis's Original Lctters, First Series, vol. i. p. 65.
19 May 1536. The next morning, Friday the 19th of May, a little before noon, Anne Boleyn was brought to the scaffold. Though they agree in the main points, there is some variation between the speech assigned to her by Hall and Bishop Burnet, and that which this letter attributes to her; but if the two reports be estimated according to what it is probable she would have said, the letter is certainly entitled to most credit. The allusion to her head, and her affecting address to her waiting-women, are not noticed by Burnet or Hall. Not a word occurs of the romantic story told by a modern writer1, that Anne refused to allow her eyes to be bandaged, and that the executioner was so affected by their tender glances as to be incapable of performing his office until he had recourse to a stratagem to attract her attention to another part of the scaffold. On the contrary, this writer expressly says, that her eyes were bandaged by one of her ladies.
In the fact of her being executed with a sword instead of an axe, all writers agree; but the author of this letter adds, that it was the first time that method was used in England. Bishop Burnet says each of the persons implicated in the charge against Anne Boleyn was beheaded, excepting Smeton, who was hanged; but according to this writer he also was decapitated.
That this Letter is of the highest interest is certain; and as the communications of the Lieutenant of the Tower close on the day preceding Anne Boleyn's execution, it is also very valuable as being perhaps the most authentic narrative of the affair which is now extant.
Note 1. D'I'sraeli's Curiosities of Literature, vol. ii. p. 297.
Having within these few days discoursed largely to your good Lordship, touching the manner in which the Queen of England had been found guilty, and the sort of punishment which the King's Council did doom her to suffer, as also how his said Majesty had willed that the brother of the Queen should be put to death; And having likewise fully discoursed to you concerning that person, who more out of envy and jealousy than out of love towards the King, did betray this accursed secret1, and together with it, the names of those who had joined in the evil doings of the unchaste Queen, it now seemeth proper, and, in truth, mine especial duty, to write to you all the circumstances which belonged to that act of cruel justice.
[17 May 1536]. When that sorrowful day came, which was to bring their last hour to those unhappy wretches who had bought a brief pleasure with a dreadful peril, even the peril of their life and honour, a scaffold was built up before the Tower of London, on a Wednesday, which was the 17th day of May. And then they led out of the Tower wherein they had been imprisoned, the Queen's brother and the four accused gentlemen, all closely guarded as they are wont to guard those guilty of such things. And my Lord of Reujafort, [Rochford,] for that was the name of the Queen's brother, said, three several times, with a loud voice, to the whole city there gathered together — "O ye gentlemen and Christians, I was born under the law, and I die under the law, forasmuch as it is the law which hath condemned me." And then he proceeded to speak in this wise. "Ye gentlemen here present, I come not hither to preach unto you, but to die. Nor do I now seek for any thing, in the sorrowful plight in which I here stand, save that I may soon bathe my dry and parched lips in the living fountain of God's everlasting and infinite mercy. And I beseech you all, in his holy name, to pray unto him for me, confessing truly that I deserve death, even though I had a thousand lives — yea even to die with far more and worse shame and dishonour than hath ever been heard of before. For I am a miserable sinner, who have grievously and often times offended; nay and in very truth, I know not of any more perverse or wicked sinner than I have been up until now. Nevertheless, I mean not openly now to relate what my many sins may have been, since in sooth it can yield you no profit, nor me any pleasure here to reckon them up; enough be it that God knoweth them all. And ye, Gentlemen of the Court, mine especial and ancient familiars, I beseech you, of all love, that ye take heed not to fall into the error of my ways, and that ye be warned by my example; and I pray to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Three Persons in One God, that ye may wisely profit by the same, and that from my mishap ye may learn not to set your thoughts upon the vanities of this world, and least of all, upon the flatteries of the Court, and the favours and treacheries of Fortune, which only raiseth men aloft that with so much the greater force she may dash them again upon the ground. She in truth it is who is the cause that, as ye all witness, my miserable head is now to be dissevered from my neck; or rather, in greater truth, the fault is mine, and it is I who ought to be blamed for having adventured to lean on Fortune, who hath proved herself fickle and false unto me, and who now maketh me a sad example to you all and to the whole world. And do ye all, Sirs, take notice, that in this my sorrowful condition, I pray for the mercy of God Almighty, and that I do moreover forgive all men, with all my heart and mind, even as truly as I hope that the Lord God will forgive me. And if so be that I should in aught have offended any man not now here present, do ye entreat him, when ye chance to meet him, that he also may of his charity forgive me; for, having lived the life of a sinner, I would fain die the death of a Christian man.
Nor must I fail (while it be yet time) to tell you all, gentle and simple, now hearkening to me, that I was a great reader and a mighty debater of the Word of God, and one of those who most favoured the Gospel of Jesu Christ.2 Wherefore, lest the Word of God should be brought into reproach on my account, I now tell you all, Sirs, that if I had, in very deed, kept his holy Word, even as I read and reasoned about it with all the strength of my wit, certain am I that I should not be in the piteous condition wherein I now stand. Truly and diligently did I read the Gospel of Christ Jesu, but I turned not to profit that which I did read; the which had I done, of a surety I had not fallen into so great errors. Wherefore I do beseech you all, for the love of our Lord God, that ye do at all seasons, hold by the truth, and speak it, and embrace it; for beyond all peradventure, better profiteth he who readeth not and yet doeth well, than he who readeth much and yet liveth in sin."
Having made an end of speaking, he knelt down upon his knees, and his head was stricken off. And so befell it likewise to the other four gentlemen; one was called Monsire Nestorn [Weston]; another Breton, [Brereton]; another Norris, Chamberlain to the King's Majesty; and the fourth of this sorrowful company was Mark [Smeton]; the which said no more than that they besought the bystanders to pray for them, and that they yielded themselves to death with joy and exceeding gladness of heart.
Note 1. E daquelle q' mais com emveija e ciumes q' amor q' tivesse ha El Rey, descubryo ho malvado segredo.
Note 2. Que eu fuy grande ledor e argumentador da palavra de Ds. e eu fuy hū daquelles q' mto favorecerao ho Evangello de I. C.
[19 May 1536]. After this, on the next Friday, which was the 19th of the same month, the Queen was beheaded according to the manner and custom of Paris, that is to say, with a sword, which thing had not before been seen in this land of England.1 And a scaffold, having four or five steps, was then and there set up. And the unhappy Queen, assisted by the Captain of the Tower, came forth, together with the four ladies who accompanied her; and she was wholly habited in a robe of black damask, made in such guise that the cape, which was white, did fall on the outer side thereof. And she then besought the Captain of the Tower that he would in no wise hasten the minute of her death, until she should have spoken that which she had in mind to say: which he consenting to, she said as followeth:
"Good friends, I am not come here to excuse or to justify myself, forasmuch as I know full well that aught that I could say in my defence doth not appertain unto you, and that I could draw no hope of life from the same. But I come here only to die, and thus to yield myself humbly to the will of the King my Lord. And if in my life I did ever offend the King's Grace, surely with my death I do now atone for the same. And I blame not my judges, nor any other manner of person, nor any thing save the cruel law of the land by which I die. But be this, and be my faults as they may, I beseech you all, good friends, to pray for the life of the King my Sovereign Lord and yours, who is one of the best princes on the face of the earth, and who hath always treated me so well that better could not be: wherefore I submit to death with a good will, humbly asking pardon of all the world."
Then, with her own hands, she took her coifs2 from her head, and delivered them to one of her ladies, and then putting on a little cap of linen to cover her hair withal, she said, "Alas, poor head! in a very brief space thou wilt roll in the dust on this scaffold; and as in life thou didst not merit to wear the crown of a queen, so in death, thou deservest not a better doom than this. And ye, my damsels, who, whilst I lived, ever shewed yourselves so diligent in my service, and who are now to be present at my last hour and mortal agony, as in good fortune ye were faithful to me, so even at this my miserable death ye do not forsake me. And as I cannot reward you for your true service to me, I pray you take comfort for my loss; howbeit, forget me not; and be always faithful to the King's Grace, and to her whom with happier fortune ye may have as your Queen and Mistress. And esteem your honour far beyond your life; and in your prayers to the Lord Jesu, forget not to pray for my soul."
And being minded to say no more, she knelt down upon both knees, and one of her ladies covered her eyes with a bandage, and then they withdrew themselves some little space, and knelt down over against the scaffold, bewailing bitterly and shedding many tears. And thus, and without more to say or do, was her head stricken off; she making no confession of her fault, and only saying, "O Lord God, have pity on my soul;" and one of her ladies then took up the head, and the others the body, and covering them with a sheet, did put them into a chest which there stood ready, and carried them to the church which is within the Tower, where, they say, she lieth buried with the others.
Note 1. Segundo ho modo e costume de Pariz, com espada; q' nom hera aynda uzado fazer-se em aquela terra de Ingraterra.
Note 2. Tyrou hos toucados de ha cabeça.
The Council then declared, that the Queen's daughter was the child of her brother; and that as the child of a private person, the child be forthwith removed from that place; and that the King should again receive that Princess who was the daughter of the former and the true Queen, as his own and real daughter, and as being his successor in the kingdom; and the King did so receive her with the utmost graciousness. Other matter have I not to write to you, saving that I kiss your hands, and do recommend myself humbly to your favour. From London, the day of June, 1536.
"Acha-se no Codex 475, e nao no Codex 275 Alcobacense, donde foi tirada fielmente esta Copia; o q' attesto soh o attestado de qm a leu e fez copiar. Lxa 28 de Marqo de 1830. Fr. Joaquim da Cruz, Protr Genl da Congm de S. Bernardo."
This is found in Codex 475, and not in 275 of the Alcobaça MSS. from which this copy was faithfully extracted, as I certify on the attestation of him who examined and caused it to be copied. Signed (as above.)
The above is an attestation of the fidelity of the copy from which this translation is made. The original exists in the valuable Conventual Library of Alcobaça, and is erroneously referred to Codex 275 of the MSS. there, in the catalogue printed in the Memonas da Literatura Portugueza, tom. v. p. 336.
Books, Letters, Excerpta Historica Page 278
Imprisonment of Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester.
Sandford in his Genealogical History of the Kings of England, says, that Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, after her condemnation for treason and sorcery, was committed to perpetual prison, under the ward of Sir Thomas Stanley, in the Isle of Man. It would appear, however, that she was, at least for some time, confined in Calais, and under another keeper. In 1447, a Sir John Sleward, or as he describes himself, "Johannes Seneschallus miles filius Johannis Seneschalli aliter dicti Scot Angli," made his will, by which it seems that he was a resident, and had an important command in Calais, in the mother church of which town he desires to be buried. He names John Roos as his confessor; bequeaths to his eldest son Thomas all his harness of war, and his ship the Grace de Dieu, which his master, the Duke of Bedford, had given him, together with his lands in the Marches of Calais. To Sir Thomas Criell he leaves "a ring with a diamond, which Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, gave me while she lived with me as my prisoner." His lands in Norfolk and Suffolk, and mansion of Soffham, he bequeathed to his son Robert; and to his aunt Alice Talmashe, the gilt cup, which was given him by Queen Katherine on the day of her coronation.
The testator was descended from a younger son of the Royal House of Stewart, and was ancestor of a family of Stewart, or Steward, which flourished for many generations in Norfolk, Suffolk, and the neighbouring counties.
Books, Letters, Excerpta Historica Page 282
Mar 1470. Confession of Sir Robert Welles.
This confession throws some light on the conspiracy of the Earl of Warwick to place his son-in-law, George Duke of Clarence, on the throne, in March 1470. Having raised an army in Lincolnshire, the Earl gave the command of it to Sir Robert Welles, son and heir-apparent of Richard Lord Welles. With these forces Sir Robert drove Sir Thomas Borough, a Knight of the King's body, out of that county, pulled down his house, and despoiled his goods, his followers, according to Stow, shouting "King Henry!" The moment Edward the Fourth was aware of the insurrection, he sent for Lord Welles the father, and Sir Thomas Dymock, who had married his sister. Lord Welles pleaded sickness and infirmity as his excuse for not obeying the command; but finding this only increased the King's suspicion, he proceeded to London accompanied by Dymock. On their arrival, Edward's displeasure was represented to them as being so great, that they became alarmed, and threw themselves into sanctuary at Westminster. Upon promise of pardon, however, they quitted their place of refuge, and Lord Welles, at Edward's desire, wrote to his son, commanding him to abandon the Earl of Warwick's cause. In the mean time the King marched against the rebels, and was so incensed at the obstinacy of Sir Robert Welles, that his Majesty forfeited his engagement with his father, by causing both him and Dymock to be beheaded, "to the terrible example of other," says Hall, " which shall put their confidence in the promise of a prince." This act, and the approach of the royal army, astounded Sir Robert Welles, who was doubtful whether he ought to risk a battle until reinforced by the Earl of Warwick. But courage and revenge predominated over prudence and he resolved to engage the royal forces. A conflict took place at a village near Stamford; but being deserted by his followers, who, in their eagerness to save themselves, threw away their coats, whence the battle was named "Lose-cote Feild," Sir Robert Welles was taken prisoner, and immediately afterwards, namely, on the 13th March, he was beheaded. Ten thousand men are said to have fallen on this occasion. — Such is the narrative of historians, and Sir Robert's confession supplies many interesting facts. It appears that the Duke of Clarence took a much more active part in the conspiracy than is generally supposed; that the motive which actuated the multitude was chiefly the fear of the King's vengeance; that a servant of Clarence's was in the battle, and afforded Welles considerable assistance; that when Lord Welles went to London pursuant to the King's commands, he desired his son, in the event of his hearing that he was in danger, to hasten to his assistance with as many followers as possible; that the real object of the rebellion was to place the crown on Clarence's head; and that both Clarence and Warwick had, for some time been urging Lord Welles and his son to continue firm to their cause.
After the defeat and execution of Sir Robert Welles, the Duke of Clarence and Warwick, with their respective families and servants, fled to Calais, probably dreading the effect of the disclosures in this confession.
About Candelmass last a chaplain of my lord of Clarence called master Jolin Barnby, & with him Father John Clare, priest, came to my lord my said & me to Hellow with letters of credence given to the said master John which he opened in this wise that my lord of Warwik was at London with the King, whereupon for their both sureties he praised us in both their names to be ready with all the fellowship we couth or might make & assemble of the commons what time save my said lord of Clarence should send us word. Nevertheless he willed us to tarry & not stir to such time as my lord of Warwick were com again from London for doubt of his destruction. And anon after my lord of Clarence sent me a patent of the stewardship of Cawlesby in Lincolnshire by the said Father John Clare.
The cause of our great rising at this time was grounded upon this noise raised among the people, that the King was coming down with great power into Lincolnshire, where the King judge should sit and hang & draw great number of the commons. Wherefore with as many as we might make be at all meanes possible we came to Lincoln upon the Tuesday. And upon the Wednesday a servant of my said lord of Clarence called Walt... yeoman of his chamber, by his commandment told vis the same, & that the gentlemen of the country should passe upon us in such wise that nedely great multitude must die of the commons. Thereupon desiring us to arise and proceed in our purpose as we loved ourselves. And for that my lord my father was at London & paventur should there be endangered, which he ne would, for that cause himself would go to London to help excuse my said lord my father & to delay the King coming forth.
The said Walter.... Servant of my lord of Clarence went with me to the field &. tooke great part of guiding of our host, not departing from the same to the end. And afore that as sone as I come to Lincoln I sent Father John Clare to my lord of Warwick to have understanding; from him how he would have us guided forward, but for us seemed he tarried long. We sent hastily after him one John Wright of Lincoln for the same cause, and thereupon I departed with our host toward Grantham. And in the way about Temple Brewer Father John Clare met with me, saying of my lord of Warwick behalve that he greet us weft & bad us be of good comfort, for he & my said lord of Clarence would arise all the people they could in all haste & come toward us & utterly take such part as we should take, saying [ov pt] he saw my said lord of Warwik lay his hand on a book that he would so do, and so the said Father John Clare oftentimes declared for the people.
The Sunday after came John Wright to Grantham & brought me a ring from my said lord of Warwick, & desired me to go forward, bidding me & us all be of good comfort, for he was in arising all that he might make and would be at Leicester on Monday night with XX. Ml. men and join us. Wherefore he willed me to suffer the fellowship that came with the King from by south to passe northward and gave him the way, to the intent he and we might be betwixt them and the south.
Also when my lord my father went to London, he charged me that if I understood him at any time to be in jeopardy, I should with all that I might make com to succour him.
Also my lord of Clarence servant Walter... that came to us to Lincoln, stirred &. moved often times our host and in many places of the same that at such time as the matter should come near to the point of battle they should call upon my lord of Clarence to be king, and to destroy the King that so was about to destroy them and all this realm so fervently that at such time as the King was before us in the field, he took a spear in his hand & said he would there with as freely run against the King as against his & his master’s mortal enemy.
Also I have well understand by many messages as well from my lord of Clarence as of Warwick, that they intend to make a great rising as ferforthly [?] as ever I could understand, to the intent to make the duke of Clarence king, and so it was oft & largely noised in our host.
Also I say that he had been the said Duc & Earls provoking we at this time would not durst have made any commotions or stirring but upon their comfort we did that we did.
Also I say that I and my father had often times letters of credence from my said lord of Clarence & Warwick of thanking for our devoir, & praised us to continue our good heart & wiles to the above said purpose. One that brought from my lord of Clarence was called Wilham Werk; one that brought letters from my lord of Warwick was called Philip Strangways; of the other I remember not the names. The credence in substance rested only in this giving of thanks, praying to continue, and to stir and move the people to do the same. Which letter is to be brought forth.
(Endorsed) The declaration of the Lorde Welles. Lorde Welles his Confession being charged with Treason. E. 4. in Parliament [Harl. MS. No. 283. fo. 2.]
Books, Letters, Excerpta Historica Page 366
20 Jun 1475. Will Of King Edward The Fourth.
The editors of the "Collection of all the Wills known to be extant of the Kings and Queens of England,"1 inserted in their work proofs of a Wiil of King Edward the Fourth having existed, which were extracted from the Registers at Lambeth;2 and they conjectured that the Will itself was intentionally destroyed during the usurpation of Richard the Third.3 This opinion is shewn to be erroneous by the following copy of that document, which is printed, for the first time, from a transcript made by Rymer4, from the Rolls' Chapel.
Doubts may be entertained whether this was the last will of Edward the Fourth, because some of the persons who are stated to be the King's executors in the Lambeth Registers, are not mentioned in this will, though four of them were the same individuals. The King may, however, have made some alteration on this point, by a subsequent document, without revoking his will.
Note 1. 4to. 1780.
Note 2. Registr. Morton, Dene, Bourchier, and Courtney, fol. 175. a. b. in the Archiepiscopal Registry at Lambeth.
Note 3. "Collection of Wills," &c. p. 345.
Note 4. In the Additional MS. 4615, in the British Museum, being part of his miscellaneous collections for the "Fœdera."
Rymer has made a query in the margin of his transcript opposite several places where there is an obvious error, and which it is therefore unnecessary to point out. Application has been made at the office of the Rolls for permission to collate the Will with the record from which Rymer transcribed, and the request would have been complied with, but, unfortunately, the Index at the office contains no reference to it, anu Rymer has not specified the press in which it was reposited.
R. E. [20 Jun 1475].
In the name of the moost holy and blessed Trinitie, the Fader, the Sonne and the holy Goost^ by and undre whoom alle Kings and Princes reigne. We Edward, by the grace of God, King of England and of Fraunce and Lord of Irland, remembring inwardly that we as other creatures in this world, bee transitorie and have noon abidunt therin certain, considering also that we bee nowe upon oure journey and in taking oure passage, by Godds sufferance and assistence, toward oure Reame of Fraunce, for the recouveryng of oure undoubted right and title unto the same, Willing therfore to dispose us in alle things to the pleaser of God, for the helth and relief of oure soule, as ferforthly as we by his grace and assistance can call to oure mynde, the xx day of Juyn, the yere of oure Lord God M.cccc.lxxv, and the yere of oure Reigne the xvth, beeing in helth of body and hole of mynde, thanked bee his Grace, at oure Towne of Sandwich make this oure last Wille and testament in the manere and fourme herafter enswing.
Furst we bequeth [our soul] to allmighty God and to his glorious Moder oure Lady Saint Marie, Saint George, Saint Edward and all the holy Companie of heven, and oure body to bee buried in the Church of the Collage of Saint George within oure Castell of Wyndesore by us begonne of newe to bee buylded, in the place of the same Church by us limited and appointed and declared to the Reverende Fader in God oure right trusty and welbeloved the Bisshop of Sarum, where we will oure body be buried lowe in the grownde, and upon the same a stone to bee laied and wrought with the figure of Dethe with scochyne of oure Armer and writings convenient aboute the bordures of the same remembring the day and yere of oure decease, and that in the same place or nere to it an Autre bee made metely for the rome as herafter we shall devise and declare.
Item we wol that overe the same Sepulture ther bee made a vawte of convenient height as the place wil suffre it, and that upon the said vawte ther bee a Chapell or a Closet withan Autre convenient and a Tumbe to bee made and set there, and upon the same tumbe an Image for oure figure, which figure we wil bee of silver and gilte or at the lest coopre and gilt, and aboute the same tumbe scripture made convenient remembring the day and yere of oure deceasse.
Item we wol that nere to our said Sepulture ther bee ordeigned places for xiij personnes to sit and knele in, to say and kepe such observance divine service and praiers as we herafter shall expresse and declare.
Item we wil that all oure debtes that can bee proved due bee contented and paid afore all things excepte the costs of oure buryeing; and where as it is ordeigned by auctorite of oure Parliament last holden at oure Palois of Westmr that all debtes due by us to eny personne wherof assignation or assignement was made for contentation therof by letters patents tailles debentures or billes or otherwise before the furst day of Decembre in the xth yere of oure Reign, that he to whoom eny such assignation or assignement was made shuld appiere before the Barons of oure Eschequier in his personne or by his attourney or servant afore certain daies limited there to shewe and prove the sommes of money specified in such assignation to bee due unto him upon a trewe grownde or cause at the making or rearing therof shuld after that doon have assignement made unto him for paiement of the same duelie to bee had unto him his executours or assignes in xx yeres, and that all assignations made by lettres patents taille or bille not soo shewed before the saide daies limited shuld bee voide and we therof acquited and discharged, as more at large and more clerely is expressed in the said Act: We wol and in the straitest wise charge oure son Edward the Prince or such as shall please almighty God to ordeigne to bee oure heires and to succede us in the Corone of England that he suffre every personne that have proved his debte or dueties according to the said Acte to bee contented and paied therof according to the tenour and fourme of the same Acte without let or interruption, and that in the next Parliament to bee holden after our decease the said acte bee auctorised and confermed by auctoritie of the same Parliament for the more seurtie of paiement of the same debte.
Item where in the said Parliament last holden at oure said Palois by auctoritie of the same the moost Reverende Fader in God oure entierly beloved cousin Thomas the Cardinall Archbisshop of Cantrebury, William Bisshop of Ely, Ric' Bisshopp of Sarum, Robert Bisshop of Bathe, Thomas Bisshop of Lincoln, Henry Erl of Essex, Antonie Erl Ryvers, William Lord Hastyngs, John Lord Dynham, Maister John Russell Clerk Keper of oure Prive Seall, Maister William Dudley Deane of oure Chapell, Thomas Borugh, William Parre, Thomas Mountgomery Knights, Maister John Gunthoys Clerk, Richard Fowler and William Husee have astate in fee of and in the honours Castelles Lordships and Manors of Tuttebury Kenelworth Leycestre Bolyngbroke Longebenyngton Pountfrete Tykhull Knaresburgh Pykeryng and Dunstanburgh with thair membres and appertenances and of all other lands and tenements and other the premisses in the said Shires of Warr' Leyc' Staff' Derby Not' Lincoln' York and Northumbr' as wil serve and suffise to the full paiement of asmuch of oure said debte after the said rate of xx yeres as shal remaigne unpaied the tyme of such interrupcion had, and that thay in noo wise make astate unto oure said Son or unto oure said heires or eny other unto the tyme the same oure debte bee fully contented and paied and restitucions and satisfaccions made according to this oure Wille.1
Note 1. Thei-e is evidently an error in this paragraph, but so if is iii Rymer's transcript.
Item we wol that all oure other debtes bee contented and paied by oure said executours with the residue of the said revenues in as hasty wise as it may bee borne, respecte had to the other charges that we have and shall by this oure Wille and testament ordeigne to bee doon with the same.
Item in cas it can bee proved before oure said executours that eny debte or dueties be owing to eny personne upon a true grownde and that he to whoom such debte is owing have not proved it for his duetie according to thacte above rehersed concernyng the paiement of oure debtes for litelnesse of the debte or for povertie or for lakke of knowlege of the same Acte or other cause reasonable and that duely proved before oure executours, that then we wil that he have paiement therof after the rate of xx yeres paiement and as it may bee borne of the said revenues appointed by this oure Wille to the paiement of oure said debte.
Item we wol that if it can bee shewed unto oure said executours that eny personne to whom eny such debte is due by us and hath made his prove therof according to the saide Acte or have not proved it for eny of the causes above shewed and may nat for povertie abide the length of paiement of xx yeres and that duely proved before oure executours, then we wil that every such personne have paiement of his debte as hastely as it may bee borne of the said revenues appointed to the paiement of oure debtes afore declared, consideracion had to the other charges to bee borne therof as afore is declared.