Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Acne through the ages

Every teenager feels like they are the first person in history to get spots and acne, and that it is the end of the world. A multitude of cosmetic companies play on the insecurities of teenagers with spots to sell hundreds of products every year which claim to eradicate spots from their lives. 
This is not a modern phenomenon. For centuries young people have experienced spots on their faces and will try any treatment available to help them.

In the 16th century not only did people have the average amount of spots, but they also had scars from smallpox and plague outbreaks. Also, the make-up that was being worn at the time contained lead powder, which was terrible for the skin and often caused it to turn grey after extended use of the make-up. Queen Elizabeth I herself wore this lead based make-up on a daily basis. 
The most popular treatment at the time for scars, wrinkles, spots and discolouration of the skin was in fact mercury. Mercury did succeed in removing any skin complaint, however this was because it chemically corroded the layers of skin and by doing so in fact caused worse scarring than it had removed. Despite it's ill effects, mercury was used in this manner for many centuries. 

In 1609 Hugh Plat wrote a book entitled 'Delightes for Ladies' which contained a number of treatments for skin complaints.

To help a face that is red or pimpled
Dissolve common salte in the juice of Lemmons, and within a linnen cloth, pat the patients face that is full of heate or pimples. It cureth in a few dreſſings. 16. To help a face that is red or pimpled. Dissolve common salt in the juice of Lemons, and within a linen cloth, pat the patient's face that is full of heat or pimples. It cures in a few dressings.

To take away spots and freckles fro- the face or hands. 
The sappe that issueth out of a Birch tree in great aboundance, being opened in March or Aprill, with a receiuer of glasse ſet vnder the boring thereof to receiue the ſame, doth perform the ſame moſt excellently & maketh the skin very cleare. This ſap will disolue pearl, a ſecret not known vnot many. 

How to take away any pimple from the face. 

Brimstone ground with the oyl of Turpentine, and applied to any pimple on houre, maketh the flesh to rise spungeous, which being annointed with the thicke oyle of butter that ariseth in the morning from new milke sodden a little ouer night, will heale and scale away in a fewe daies, leauing a faire skinne behinde. This is a good skinning salue. 


Beauty patches- made against the law

"Our ladies have lately entertained a vain custom of spotting their faces, out of an affectation of a mole, to set off their beauty, such as Venus had; and it is well if one black patch serves to make their faces remarkable, for some fill their visages full of them, varied unto all manner of shapes and figures." - Artificial Changeling, John Bulwer, 1653

A few decades later into the seventeenth century and the invention of 'beauty patches' appeared. Beauty patches were small pieces of material, usually velvet or silk, and they were cut into shapes so as to not only be placed over skin blemishes to hide them but also to look pretty. Such shapes included stars, hearts, diamonds and crescent moons. These patches were worn by both women and men, on the face and body. Soon these patches became worn for fashionable reasons rather than purely concealment of blemishes. A secret language even developed about the wearing of these patches based upon where they were positioned. If it was placed near to the mouth, this meant that the person was flirtatious. One placed on the right cheek signified that the person was married, and on the left cheek signified an engaged person. And one placed at the corner of the eye suggested that the person was someone's mistress.
The shapes and meanings attached to the patches became increasingly complex, as described in the following passage which mentions patches in shapes of a coach and horses.

"And yet the figures emblematic are,               

Which our she wantons so delight to weare. 
The Coach and Horses with the hurrying wheels, 
Show both their giddy brains and gadding heels; 
The Cross and Crosslets in one face combined, 
Demonstrate the cross humours of their mind; 
The Bra's of the bowls doth let us see, 
They'll play at rubbers, and the mistresse bo; 
The Rings do in them the black art display, 
That spirits in their circles raise and lay; 
But, oh ! the sable Starrs that you descry 
Benights their day, and speaks the darkened sky. 
The several Moons that in their faces range, 
Eclipse proud Proteus in his various change; 
The long slash and the short denote the skars, 
Their skirmishes have gaind in Cupid's wars. 
For those, that into patches clip the Crown, 
"f is time to take such pride and treason down." - On painted and spotted faces, from 'A wonder of wonders: or, A metamorphosis of fair faces voluntarily transformed into foul visages. Or, an invective against black-spotted faces', by R Smith, 1662


Street peddlers of the seventeenth century had a rhyme they sang to sell the beauty patches;
"Heer patches are of ev'ry cut for pimples and for scarrs
Heer's all the wand'ring planett signs
And some of the fixed starrs.
Already gummed to make them stick
They need no other sky
Nor starrs, for Lilly for to view to tell your fortunes by.
Come lads and lasses, what do you lack
Here's weare of all prices
Here's long and short
Here's wide and straight
Heer are things of all sizes." - Bourse of Reformation, 1658

Beauty patches pedlar

The use of beauty patches continued to be worn right up until the end of the 19th century, used by both the rich and poor.
Elizabeth, the wife of Samuel Pepys wore them, and on the 22nd November 1660 he declared her the prettier for wearing them and now she was even prettier than Princess Henrietta (daughter of King Charles I).
During the reign of Queen Anne (1702-14), the wearing of patches were used to show political allegiance; Whigs wore patches on the right cheek, and Tories wore them on the left side, and those who were politically neutral wore them on both cheeks.

The 19th century saw a change in the treatment of skin blemishes away from beauty patches and the wearing of make-up. The Victorian age brought with it a new attitude to make-up in that a natural face was more desirable and therefore the focus shifted from concealing the blemishes to curing them.
A 19th century treatment for the removal of pimples;
1oz Sulphur water
1/4oz acetated liquor of ammonia
1gr Liquor of potassa
2oz white wine vinegar
2oz distilled water
To be applied twice a day.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Spaniard and the Earl of Derby

One of the Spanish maids of honour that accompanied Princess Catharine of Aragon to England upon her marriage to Prince Arthur in 1502 was Maria de Rojas (b.1488). Maria was the daughter of Francesco, Count of Salinas. After the death of Prince Arthur, Maria remained in England with Princess Catharine, and in 1504 she was being courted by the Earl of Derby. 


Thomas Stanley

Thomas Stanley (1485-1521), at the time of the courtship, had only recently succeeded his grandfather as the Earl of Derby in November 1504, as Thomas' father had already died. 
Thomas Stanley was betrothed in 1498 to Elizabeth Wells, a granddaughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. An advantageous marriage for the future earl, however as Elizabeth Wells' mother Princess Cecily of York had died in 1498, the betrothal was cancelled as the marriage did not take place. Therefore, in 1504, Thomas Stanley was a young and wealthy nobleman - and quite without a wife. He would have a matrimonial prize among the ladies of the royal court, who would unquestioningly marry well as he had been previously betrothed to a daughter of a king.

It would appear that Catharine of Aragon approved of the match between Maria and Thomas, and wrote to her parents, the King and Queen of Spain, about giving their permission for the marriage to take place. King Henry VII of England also gave his approval for the marriage, however as Maria was a Spanish subject, he chose to leave the decision to the Spanish monarchs.
However, there was someone who was highly opposed to the marriage going ahead; Catharine of Aragon's duenna Dona Elvira Manuel. Elvira wanted Maria to marry her son Inigo Manrique. Inigo was also a member of Princess Catharine's household, as the Master of her Pages. Maria herself was a matrimonial prize, as she was the only child, and heiress, of a wealthy landowner in Spain.

The following letter was written by De Puebla, the Spanish ambassador at the English royal court, to the King and Queen of Spain.

Her Highness the Princess is writing at the present time to your Highnesses ; and, according to what she has told me, it is about a marriage of Doña Maria de Rojas, respecting which I desire to make known to your Highnesses what has taken place. Some few days ago the King's step-father, who was Constable of the Realm and Earl of Derby, died. He left as his heir, a grandson, the son of his eldest son, who is 22 years of age. But, in addition to what he has by right of succession from his father, he inherits from his mother, so that he is, at present, the best match in the kingdom. I have told Doña Rojas she must not venture to conclude such a match without the permission of your Highnesses, telling her what I had done in a similar case. At the same time I have not neglected to learn the wishes of the King of England ; and I find that it is quite certain he desires this marriage more for Doña Maria De Rojas than for any other lady in his kingdom. Notwithstanding, the King does not wish to conclude the matter, excepting with the consent of the family, who make some little difficulties. But even supposing that they might, in the end, consent, I would not meddle in the matter without being first directed by your Highnesses. I entreat your Highnesses, therefore, to inform me what you think will be most for your interests, and if you should decide that I am to conclude this business, it will be necessary to know what will be given with her for a marriage portion, since the property which Doña Maria has in Spain is in the hands of your Highnesses. For, if the future husband of Doña de Rojas should not be able to obtain her property in Spain, this, or any other marriage, would be impossible, even with a man possessed of much less money. 5 Dec 1504

It can be presumed that the response from the Spanish monarchs was not one of approval as Maria returned to Spain not long after this letter was sent. She was replaced in her position in Catharine's household by Maria de Salinas. Once back in Spain, Maria was married to Don Alvero de Mendoza y Guzman. The couple had four children together; Luis, Alvero, Ines and Francisca. 
It was not long after that Thomas Stanley married, on the 17th December 1505, to Anne Hastings. Thomas and Anne had three children together; Edward, Margaret and John.

Due to Maria's close relationship with Catharine of Aragon during the period of her first marriage to Prince Arthur of England and the few years after, Maria was sought out in Spain for her testimony concerning the divorce of Queen Catharine and King Henry VIII. Maria was questioned via written correspondence from the English royal court to the Lord Mayor of Madrid, near to where Maria was living with her husband and children.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

More neede of a good mistress than a new fashioned gowne

Alice Scudamore (1569-80) was the youngest daughter of John Scudamore (1542-1623) and his first wife Eleanor Croft. Alice's mother Eleanor died giving birth to her and her father did not remarry until 1574. When her father did remarry to Mary Shelton (1550-1603), it was kept a secret from all so that the queen did not find out and punish the couple. Mary Shelton could not have played a large role in her step-children's lives as she lived at court, in constant attendance upon the queen, whilst the children lived away from court. Therefore young Alice was left without a mother figure in her life, as well as her father being away firstly studying law and then later living at court. This lack of adult supervision in her life appears to have resulted in her being badly behaved, which was noticed by her family members.

One Christmas during her childhood, her father John's younger brother George Scudamore (1552-1633) came to stay with the family at their home of Holme Lacy in Hertfordshire. After this stay George wrote to John and complained of Alice's behaviour.

Januarie the 13
Sir: I was so carried awaie with Christmas though[t]s that I altogeather forgote to
speake of what I intended towchinge my cosine Eles [Alice]. Your daughter, who
have more neede of a good mistress than a new fashioned gowne. I knowe wher she
nowe leaveth, that her rome is better well come than her companie, for she never
inquereth when hit is daie before tenne of the clocke, that she maybe reddie for
dinner by xi [11 o’clock].This can not prove well; Mrs. Pie or my Lady Aubrie
(gentlewoman of great sobrietie fit to tame so unrulie a young gentelwoman as she is
if report may be beleaved) are to be inquered and that speadelie. So wishinge that some spedie course may be taken for reformacion and that homlacie (thoughe to your
trouble) may holde her for a time. I end and bid you fare well restinge yours to
command: George Scudamore. 

Alice Scudamore died in November 1580 in Hertfordshire, at the age of just eleven years old.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

No one ever bought her husband more dearly

Mary Shelton

Mary Shelton (1550-1603) was a maternal cousin of Queen Elizabeth I, she became a Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber to the queen in November 1568, and later in January 1571 a Chamberer of the Privy Chamber. Mary's grandparents, John and Anne (nee Boleyn) Shelton had been governors of Hatfield when Queen Elizabeth was an infant.

Queen Elizabeth had a reputation for her dislike of marriage and her refusal of permission to many of her ladies in waiting for their proposed marriages. This attitude of the queen often led to her ladies, often relatives of the queen, marrying in secret. When the queen discovered these secret marriages and pregnancies of her ladies, they could be punished by having their titles removed, banishment from court and even imprisonment in the Tower. 

John Scudamore

In January 1574 Mary Shelton married in secret to John Scudamore (1542-1623). It is likely that the couple were married by a Catholic priest, due to John's faith. Mary became his second wife after his first wife Eleanor Croft had died in 1569, leaving him to raise their five children; Henry (b.1561), John (b.1567), James (b.1568), Ursula (b.1568) and Alice (b.1569). 
John was a Catholic, which may have contributed to the fact that Queen Elizabeth disapproved of the match between John and Mary. In 1573 John had asked his father-in-law James Croft to speak to the queen and question whether she would permit him to marry Mary Shelton. The queen refused. It was essential that the queen give permission for Mary's marriage as not only was Queen Elizabeth the head of the Boleyn family, but also Mary was her ward due to both of her parents dying within two weeks of each other in 1558. 

It was impossible to hide their marriage from the queen for long, and she found out about it soon after. When the queen found out about their marriage, she was furious and flew into a rage; she hit Mary with a hairbrush which broke one of her fingers. The reason for Mary's broken finger was later blamed on a falling candlestick. Mary was sent away from court, however by October 1574 she was back at court and had been promoted to Lady of the Privy Chamber. 

A maid of honour to the queen, Eleanor Brydges, wrote a letter to Edward Manners, Earl of Rutland which mentioned the aftermath of Mary Shelton's marriage.
"the Queen hath used Mary Shelton very ill for her marriage: she hath dealt liberal both with blows and evil words, and hath not yet granted her consent...no one ever bought her husband more dearly"

Mary remained with Queen Elizabeth until the end of her reign, becoming one of her closest friends and favourite sleeping companions. As a result of this, Mary was hardly away from court and very infrequently managed to visit her husbands estates of Holme Lacy in Hertfordshire. However, due to this position Mary became one of the most influential ladies of Queen Elizabeth's court. Mary outlived her queen by only a few months, dying on the 15th August 1603. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Catherine Willoughby, Queen of Poland

In June 1545 Elisabeth of Austria (b.1526), the first wife of Sigismund Augustus (1520-72), King of Poland, died, and therefore the Polish king was searching for a second bride. King Sigismund sent an ambassador to the English royal court of King Henry VIII a year later in 1546.


Catherine, Duchess of Suffolk by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg
Catherine Willoughby

The Polish ambassador had come to the English court to offer a proposal of marriage to King Henry's eldest daughter Princess Mary. However, King Henry refused this match. The Polish ambassador then turned to the second choice of English bride for King Sigismund, Catherine Willoughby, the Duchess of Suffolk. Catherine's husband Charles Brandon had died in August 1545 and as a woman of only twenty seven years old and having had two sons already, she could be considered an ideal bride for a king needing an heir. 

The match between the King of Poland and Catherine Willoughby did not proceed, whether Catherine refused the idea or the Polish king did not find her to be of high enough status, is unknown. 
King Sigismund married in 1547 in secret to his mistress Barbara Radziwill (1520-51). And later in 1553 he married for a third time to Catherine (1533-72), the younger sister of his first wife Elisabeth.

In 1555 Catherine Willoughby was forced to flee England due to the Catholic rule of Queen Mary I. Catherine and her second husband Richard Bertie (1516-82) were of the Protestant faith and therefore faced persecution if they remained in England. Taking their daughter Susan with them, as well as Catherine being pregnant at that time with their son Peregrine, the couple fled to Protestant mainland Europe. The Berties fled to Germany, however there were warrants for their arrest for heresy from Queen Mary which followed them wherever they went.


A portrait of Sigismund II Augustus, in a black hat with a white feather, a white ruff on his neck, and an ornate gold chain around his neck.
King Sigismund Augustus of Poland

King Sigismund was highly tolerant of religious differences, and managed to maintain a successful balance between the Catholics and Protestants in his kingdom throughout his reign. His second wife Barbara was a Calvinist. 
In 1557 King Sigismund heard about the Berties' situation through Jan Laski, the reformer, and gave the family refuge in his kingdom. In addition to this, he named Catherine regent of the province of Samogitia - modern day Lithuania - which gave the couple rank and status during their exile. Samogitia was a largely Protestant area at this time, and the Berties were given a castle in the county of Crozan to live in. He also granted Richard Bertie the Earldom of Crolan as well as the position of Governor of Samogitia. The Bertie family lived quite contentedly in Samogitia, and the education of Catherine and Richard meant that their rule of the province was successful. The Berties returned to England in 1559 after the accession to the throne of Queen Elizabeth I.

In 1624 playwright Thomas Drue (1586-1627) wrote a play called 'The Duchess of Suffolk', which incorporated the story of the King of Poland courting Duchess Catherine. The play was a heavily biased and emphasised Catherine's Protestant beliefs as well as her second marriage to Richard Bertie, who had previously been a servant in her household, after being sought out by many noblemen for her hand in marriage. By describing the perils which Catherine survived due to Protestant persecution, having to flee her country, travel through storms and be hunted down across Europe, only served to criticise Catholics and their actions. 

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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Barlow Brides of Bishops

William Barlow (1500-68) was the Bishop of Winchester under Queen Elizabeth I.
William was Bishop of St Asaph and St David's in 1536, then in 1548 he became Bishop of Bath and Wells. William Barlow and his family can be seen as key players in promoting the religious changes in England during the Tudor period.

William Barlow was the first Protestant Bishop in England. His elder brother Thomas had been chaplain to Queen Anne Boleyn. A third Barlow brother, John, who was also a chaplain, was also a friend to Queen Anne Boleyn. John was involved in the Great Matter, the divorce of King Henry VIII from his first wife Queen Catharine of Aragon. In 1528, it was John Barlow who discovered evidence that Cardinal Wolsey had betrayed the king whilst in Rome discussing the matter with the Pope. This only strengthened Anne Boleyn's hatred of the Cardinal and aided in his downfall in the following year.

William Barlow was the first English Bishop to marry, before marriage was an option for clergymen in England. By 1553 William had married Agatha Wellesbourne (1505-95), and due to clerical celibacy being a requirement for Catholic bishops, William resigned his bishopric when Queen Mary I succeeded the throne in 1553. He and his family were forced to flee to Germany and Poland for the duration of Queen Mary's reign, and only returned to England after her death in 1558.

Children of William and Agatha's marriage include;

+William Barlow (1544-1625) After attending Oxford University, William took Holy Orders and eventually became Treasurer of Lichfield Cathedral in 1588. In the reign of King James I he became chaplain to the king's son Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, and later in 1615 he was made Archdeacon of Salisbury. He married a woman called Julia and the couple had six children together. William left university with a keen interest in mathematics, and developed key theories about magnetism.

+John Barlow (d.1634)
+Arthur Barlow (1550-1620)
+Hugh Barlow
+Marmaduke Barlow
+Thomas Barlow (d.1558)

William and Agatha also had five daughters, all of whom went on to marry bishops.

+ Anne (d.1597) m1. Augustin Bradbridge (d.1567)
                           m2. Herbert Westfaling (1531-1602), Bishop of Hereford (1586)
                            + Herbert Westfaling
                            + Anne Westfaling m. William Jeffries
                            + Margaret Westfaling m. Richard Edes, Dean of Worcester
                            + Elizabeth Westfaling m. Robert Walwyn

Herbert Westfaling

+ Elizabeth (1538-75) m. William Day (1529-96), Bishop of Winchester (Nov 1595- Sept 1596)
Children of Elizabeth and William were;
                                      + William Day
                                      + Richard Day
                                      + Thomas Day
                                      + Susan Day m. Mr Cox
                                      + Rachel Day m. Mr Barker
                                      + Alice Day m. Thomas Ridley
                                      + Elizabeth Day

+ Margaret (1533-1601) m. William Overton (1525-1609), Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (1580)
                                         + Susan Overton m. Thomas Playsted
                                         + Valentine Overton (1565-1646) m. Isabel Higgenson

Tobie (or Tobias) Matthew from NPG.jpg
Tobias Matthew

+ Frances (1551-1629) m1. Matthew Parker (1551-74), son of Archbishop Parker
                                       + Matthew Parker (1575-6)
                                      m2. Tobias Matthew (1546-1628), Bishop of Durham (1595), Archbishop of York (1606)
                                       + Tobie Matthew (1577-1655) MP
                                       + John Matthew (b.1580)
                                       + Samuel (d.1601)
When Tobias was given the post of Dean of Durham in 1583, the couple moved to the north of England so that he could take up the posting, this move did not please Frances and she wished to return to the south as soon as possible. Frances and Tobias fell out with, and later disinherited, their eldest son Tobie due to his conversion to Roman Catholicism. Tobias eventually forgave his son in 1623, however Frances never did. Frances also fell out with her son John, however she raised John's two daughters Frances and Dorcas. Frances had a reputation in Durham for the education of young girls. Frances' pride in her family was reflected in her memorial which read in part that 'a bishop was her father, an archbishop her father-in-law; she had four bishops her brethren and an archbishop her husband'. 

+ Antonia (1552-98) m. William Wickham (1539-95), Bishop of Lincoln (1584), Bishop of Winchester (1595)
William Wickham preached at the funeral of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587.
Children of Antonia and William were;
                                  + Henry Wickham (d.1641), Archdeacon of York
                                  + Thomas Wickham
                                  + Barlow Wickham (d.1617)
                                  + William Wickham (b.1598)
                                  + Frances Wickham m. Thomas Wolriche
                                  + Susan Wickham
                                  + Anne Wickham
                                  + Elizabeth Wickham

Agatha Barlow, nee Wellesbourne, died in 1595. She was extremely proud of her achievement of marrying all of her daughters to bishops. This was reflected in her memorial.

"Barlow's wife, Agatha, doth here remain Bishop, then exile, Bishop again. So long she lived, so well her children sped. She saw five bishops her five daughters wed". - St Mary's, Eaton, Hampshire

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Execution of a Prince

On the 19th March 1330, Edmund, Duke of Kent (b.1301), the youngest son of King Edward I of England was executed for treason.

The crime which Edmund accused of was that he believed his brother King Edward II, who had died in 1327, was in fact still alive. He was described as being part of a plot to rescue Edward II from Corfe Castle in Dorset. It would appear that Edmund had been convinced by someone that his brother was alive and well, and his wife wrote letters to Edward which were intercepted and used as evidence against Edmund. By writing to his brother, Edmund had performed a treasonous act against the current king, his nephew Edward III, through his disloyalty to him in his offer to help his brother to regain his throne.

The Earl and Countess of Kent, Prince Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret Wake, Baroness Wake of Liddel
Edmund and Margaret

On the 14th March the arrest warrant for Edmund's wife Margaret Wake and their children was issued. Margaret and their three children - Edmund (1326-31), Margaret (1327-52) and Joan (1328-85) - were imprisoned at Salisbury Castle with only two maids to attend on them. It was there that Margaret gave birth to the couple's fourth child, John (d.1352), on the 7th April.

On 16th March, Edmund's confession was read out in Parliament. Edmund offered to walk barefoot from Winchester to London with a rope around his neck as punishment for his actions, however this request was denied.

"The will of this court is that you shall lose both life and limb, and that your heirs shall be disinherited for evermore, save the grace of our lord the king".

On the morning of the 19th of March, Edmund was taken to the scaffold wearing only his shirt. The executioner who had been employed for that day had fled and could not be found. The search to find a replacement executioner took several hours as it was proving impossible to find someone willing to execute a royal prince, especially considering the charges brought against him were viewed by many as nothing more than trumped up charges to rid Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer of a political enemy. The offer was made to all prisoners who had been sentenced to death themselves, that if they were to step forward and perform the execution, they would be granted a royal pardon. A latrine cleaner who was awaiting execution stepped forward and offered to execute the prince in exchange for his own life.

It was this execution which led to King Edward III seizing power from his mother Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer, a few weeks shy of his coming of age in October 1330. In the Parliament of November 1330 King Edward passed a Bill posthumously pardoning Prince Edmund of all charges. Which indicates that the truth was that the charges had been fabricated and exaggerated to suit Isabella and Roger's aims. King Edward took on the responsibility of the family that Edmund had left behind; the children were raised at the royal court and Edmund's daughter Joan became a favourite of Edward's queen, Philippa of Hainault.

Through his daughter Joan, Edmund was the grandfather to King Richard II, as well as the ancestor to King Henry VII and all subsequent monarchs of England.