Monday, 23 June 2014

A lion of a gift

King Henry VII and his wife Queen Elizabeth shared a loving and affectionate marriage, during which he allowed her many freedoms and gave her numerous gifts.

In January 1592 Henry VII gave to his wife a gift of a lion, possibly as a New Years gift. The lion cost the king £2 13s 4d, which in today's money is around £1300. 
The date can be assured as the king paid on January 16th 1592; 53s 4d to "one that brought the king a lion in reward". (20 shillings in 1 pound)
It can be guessed that the lion was taken to live in the royal menagerie in the Tower of London.

Barary Lion - Illustration by Joseph Bassett Holder

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Howard baby's Royal godparents

Alethea Talbot (1585-1654) was the granddaughter of Bess of Hardwick through her daughter Mary Cavendish (1556-1632). In 1605 she was married to Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (1585-1646).

Thomas Howard

Alethea Howard, 1620

In 1607 the couple had the first of their four children, which they named James, presumably after the present king, James I. The king was to be the baby's godfather.
On the 27th of June, Thomas Howard wrote to Bess of Hardwick concerning the role of godmother to the new baby. Initially, Bess had been asked by the couple to fill the role, however Queen Anne was now requesting to be the baby's godmother. This was a unique situation for the couple as both the king and queen were to be godparents to the same child.

Letter from Arundell to Bess, 1607

Madam, as soone as euer God, out of his greate goodnes,
had blessed us with a sonne; wee all resolved, to haue bin
sutors unto your Ladyship, that you would vouchsafe, to haue
bin his godmother; but it hath pleased the Queenes majestie
(oute of her especiall fauor) to interpose her selfe; farre 
contrary to oure expectacion, (seeing it hath neuer till
this time beene seene or knowne that the kinges majesti and 
the Queene haue christened any childe together;) which
must at this time, stay the proceedinge in oure firste
desire, unlesse, eyther the unusualnes, in like cases, or some
other accidente, may diuert the Queene from her in-
tente, which, if it doe happne, then, wee will advertise
your Ladyship: thereof by poaste, and will earnestly goe
forward in oure humble suite. In the meane time, my 
wife & my selfe, beseech your Ladyship that you will make us
both, with your little one, happy, by the continuance of your
Ladyships good wishes, and daily blessinge; and cease not our
continuall prayers to God, for your Ladyships longe health
and happiness and soe I rest
Your Ladyships lovinge & dutifull son to comande
Arundell house this 27th of June

Friday, 13 June 2014

Elizabeth's marchpanes

Marchpane is an old name for marzipan; a dessert item which is made from sugar and almonds. Queen Elizabeth I was known for having a sweet tooth and therefore a beautifully crafted and decorated marchpane piece would have been an ideal gift for the queen. The detail and creativity of a marchpane, as well as the high costs of making one due to the amount of sugar which is needed, meant that it was usually only enjoyed by wealthy nobles as well as at the royal court.  

Picture of Hannah Woolley Recipe Book
Cookbook by Hannah Woolley, 1672

Gifts of marchpane given to Queen Elizabeth I at New Years celebrations;

By George Webster, Master Cook, a marchpanne, being a chess boarde.
By Richarde Hickes, Yeomen of the Chamber, a very faire marchepane made like a tower, with men and sundry artillery in it.
By John Revell, Surveiour of the Workes, a marchpane, with the modell of Powle's churches and steeples in past.

By John Smithson, a feyer marchpan. 


By John Smythesone, alias Taylor, Master Cooke, a fayre march pane with a cattell in myddes.


By John Smithson, Master Cooke, one faire marchpayne, with St. George in the middest.

John Smythson, Master Cook, 1568
John Smythson (1523-90) had become Master Cook to Elizabeth I by 1562 and later Chief Master Cook by 1575, whilst his wife Elizabeth was the queen's Laundress. John's mother Elizabeth Smythe had been Laundress to King Edward VI. Given the fact that John is recorded with two surnames, this indicates that he could have been illegitimate, and that his mother's surname was Smythe and it was only after her death that he named himself Smythson, means that his father's name was Taylor and he was not married to John's mother. The adoption of the surname Smythson in 1562 was perhaps a means to show his love for his mother and to honour her memory, but also to strengthen the link between them legally so that he would be able to inherit the property she was in control of. 
In 1562 John leased directly from Queen Elizabeth significant property in Westminster, which had previously been leased to his mother for life, who had died that year. The lease was to be for twenty-one years and included Vyne Garden, which contained a vineyard, as well as a meadow and close called Kechenors and Bergeons, Ostrey Garden and a close called Mylbancke which was situation within the grounds of St Peter's Abbey in Westminster
In 1572 John Smythson received a grant of arms; an indication of his ascension at court, which meant that he was held in high regard by the queen and therefore was able to obtain a number of properties and lands, which he could then pass on to his daughter. 
John Smythson continued to acquire property throughout his life; in 1573 he purchased ten acres of wood in Kidbrook in Kent, the lease of the church and it's lands of Worlaby in Lincolnshire, and the manor of Hide in Herefordshire along with lands in Hidehill, Aldon and Wintercote. In 1575 he acquired four acres of land in Eltham and Bexley. In 1582 John bought one third of a cottage and land in Eltham. 
John and Elizabeth Smythson had a daughter Elizabeth, who married Hugh Miller and had a son called Smythson and a daughter called Susan. A witness to John's Will in 1588 was Ambrosio Lupo, a prominent court musician - for more on this individual see my blog post on the Lupo musicians. John Smythson was buried in Eltham parish church in July 1590, where his wife joined him three years later. 

Master Cooks

King Henry VIII - John Brickett, who was pensioned off after King Henry's death in 1547 after serving
                           him for many years
King Edward VI - Richard Curry, who had been Edward's cook when he was a child, served until his                                          death.
                           George Webster, employed in Edward's kitchens after the death of his previous 
                           employer the Duke of Richmond in 1536.
Queen Mary I - Thomas Burrage, who had served King Henry since the 1530's and had been in 
                          Mary's service from 1547.
Queen Elizabeth I - Francis Piggott was given the position of Master Cook upon her accession; his 
                              father had been a yeoman cook to Princess Mary in the 1520's and by 1534 was 
                              her Master Cook.
                              John Smythson.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

England's monarchs, Madras Courier 1791

The study of our history is ongoing and is continuously developing and expanding with each new discovery and interpretation. It is always fascinating to find evidence of people's interest in history throughout the centuries, in this particular case it is in a non-academic source. From this particular text we can see which fact about each monarch was the most important to their rule according to contemporaries, and therefore chosen to be included in the poem.

This poem is taken from the Poet's Corner in the Madras Courier, dated the 8th December 1791 (Volume 7, Issue 322).


ENGLAND by Prior.

ENGLAND, the conqueror, in First William owns

Rufus and Henry are the victors sons;

His daughter Alice, weds the Earl of Blois,

Stephen their offspring was the peoples choice.

Maud, Henrys daughter, who was Empress first;

Then Anjou from this later issue nurst,

The Second Henry, to whom Stephen left,

The Crown, of which he was alas! bereft.

Henry did Ellen Guiennes heiress wed;

Richard and John were children of their bad:

From John sprung Henry, of that name the Third,

Who felt the cruel wars his Barons stir'd,

Long time he reign'd first Edward he begot

Who join'd the Welshman and subdued the Scott

From Edwards Loins a second Edward rose,

Him fav'rites spoil'd, him parliaments depose,

And raise his son, third Edward, to the throne,

For France's wars and Englands parter known;

He against Valois sought as Isbells heir,

The daughter, she, of Philips, call'd the fair;

His Grand-Sires Crown the second Richard wore,

Hard sate, the warlike Father went before,

For the unhappy King the crown must grant,

To Henry, fourth, bold son of John of Gaunt,

Fourth son of Edward third; tho' Edmund's claim

Was best, from Lionel third son he came,

Lancasters race, in Henry thus begun,

He leaves his question'd title to his son,

Fifth Henry is his name; his arms advance,

The English standard over trembling Frances;

Whose King, sixth Charles, hequeath'd to Henry's power,

His daughter Katherine, and his realm her dower,

Henry the sixth does from his marriage spring,

How good a Saint, and yet how poor a King!

He lost the realm his mighty Father seiz'd,

Crown'd and uncrown'd as fate and Warwick pleas'd.

On England's Throne fourth Edward next does shine,

Sir-nam'd Plantagenet, of Yorkshire Line,

Nearer than Lancaster by one degree:

He sprung from Richard; from Philippa he,

From Lionel, third Edward weak and young,

Over his head the Honor only hung;

Spoil'd of his Crown he in his Prison bleeds,

Third Richard, cruel Uncle, next succeeds;

But Fate is just, and he in, Bosworth fields,

To Henry Seventh both Life and Scepter yields.

This mighty Prince of the Lancastrian race,

Does thus from Edward Third his Lineage trace,

Edward had Gaunt John, of Sommerset;

John did another of that Name beget:

He Margaret had, who gave our Henry Birth,

His Father's race descends from wallish Earth;

For Owen Tudor did in secret Wed,

French Kathrine, Widow of Fifth Henry's bed,

From whence sprung Edward, who was Henry's Sire

Both Coats did therefore to his Right conspire,

And great Elizabeth receiv'd his vows,

Fourth Edward's Daughter, last of York's great House,

Thus Henry ended Britain's civil strife,

By Father, Mother, Conquest, Choice and Wife,

Eighth Henry stream'd from this united Flood,

His passions boundless, but his judgment good:

None but a Couyaye, heat as his cou'd break,

The Romish yoke, from [ILL]ghing Britain's Neck,

Amongst his Six, Jane Seymour, his third Wife,

In Child—bed Dy'd to give Sixth Edward Life;

Happy had Fate his thread but longer spun,

To Crown the Work his Father had begun;

But Katherine, whom King Henry first did wed,

The relict of his Brother Arthur's Bed,

Bad Mary, Philip's Wife, who did retain,

The zealous fury of her Mother Spain,

Elizabeth whom Anne of Boullen bore

To Henry, did the ancient Church restore;

She Dy'd Maid! - the Line of Tudor ends,

And Englands Crown to James of Scots descends;

From the Seventh Henry's Eldest Daughter He,

Margaret her Name) derives his pedigree,

And thus in line direct, his right is fix'd

Margarett Fifth James, Maria, James the Sixth.

From James the First, Charles rose, unhappy King!

Whom cruel Subjects to the Scaffold bring;

Mysterious Heavn' his Exil'd Son restor'd,

And Britain own'd the Second Charles her Lord.

Charles has no offspring by the Legal Bed;

The Line Colateral did in James succeed:

Mary and Anne were His, his Sister's Son

Great Orange, was for Arms and Justice known:

Blest in his Match, for Mary was his Bride

Thus to to the Crown by blood and love Alli'd.

James breaks the Laws, presents a doubtful Son,

Misles his strange designs, and leaves the Throne.

William and Mary fill the Vacant place,

The Rule design'd to their united Race,

But Mary dies, so William reign alone;

And Anne, with Glory, wears the British Crown.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Caesars of Elizabethan London

The Caesar family of Elizabethan London can be seen as a shining example of the importance of education during this era. The medical education which Dr Guilio received in Italy was key to his immigration to England and led to his court career. As a result of this, he was able to ensure that his children also were highly educated and could forge out successful careers for themselves. They were an immigrant family who used education to gain connections and to integrate themselves into leading contemporary events which dominated English culture, such as expeditions to the New World.

Dr Guilio Caesar Adelmare, born in 1540 in Treviso, Italy, was a court physician under Queens Mary and Elizabeth Tudor. He came to England around 1550 and became naturalized as an English citizen in 1558. Guilio (Julius) was the son of Dr Pietro Maria Adelmare and Paola Caesarino - Paola was descended from the Dukes of Caesarino.
He and his wife Margery Peryent (d.1583) had several highly accomplished children together;
+ Julius Caesar, a judge, MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer (1558-1636)
+ Henry Caesar, Dean of Ely
+ Thomas Caesar, lawyer and MP (1561-1610)
+ Charles Caesar
+ Elizabeth Caesar, married Dr John Hunt
+ William Caesar, merchant in the Mediterranean
+ Anne Caesar, married Damian Peck, lawyer of Grey's Inn
+ Margaret Caesar, married Nicholas Wright, lawyer of Grey's Inn

Thomas Caesar married three times within four years;
1) Susanna Longe in January 1589, who then died in 1590
2) Anne Beeston (nee Lynne)
3) Susan Ryder on 18th January 1593, with whom he had eight children including Alice and Thomas. Susan was the daughter of Sir William Ryder, a haberdasher and the Lord Mayor of London.
Like his father before him, Thomas served the monarchy of England. Thomas was raised to the position of Clock Keeper to Prince Henry and in 1610 was made Cursitor Baron of the Exchequer and was knighted, however later that year Thomas died.

It is a result of Guilio's own experience of education at Padua University that his sons were also sent to university to gain Bachelor's and Masters degrees. His eldest son Julius was educated at Oxford University, and later as University of Paris, gaining four degrees within six years. Henry Caesar had studied at Cambridge University in his younger years, after which he was a Roman Catholic priest abroad, however he later on renounced his faith and became a Protestant preacher. Julius organised for his younger brother Henry to study at Oxford University in the 1590's, where he gained a BA, MA and Phd in Divinity. Julius was also responsible for promoting his brother William to the service of William Harborne in Turkey in September 1584. Julius and Thomas both being lawyers often consulted each other concerning cases as their focuses were different; Julius often asked for Thomas' help with cases concerning the law of property. Although family loyalty did not mean that Julius always found in favour of his brother's clients; Julius found in favour of his opponent on several noted occasions.

Julius Caesar, MP and Judge

In 1563 when the plague was rife in England, Dr Caesar wrote to William Cecil from Hatfield that in order to contain the spread of the disease, Italian practices should be employed. Possibly influenced by Caesar's ideas, on the 12th March 1564 Cecil issued a proclamation in Westminster, which was an area of particular concern as this is where the government convened and was therefore key to the spread of the disease, of plague orders.

After Dr Guilio Caesar died in 1569, his widow Margery married Michael Lok after 1571, when his first wife had died. It is possible that the couple had up to seven children together as in 1579 Lok states he has fifteen children, and he had at least eight with his first wife. Lok was a merchant and traveller, having been captain of a ship which traded in the Levant, as well as the governor of the Cathay Company, founded in 1577, who funded the explorations of Martin Frobisher. It is this family connection which meant that in 1577 when Lok was finding sponsors and funding for Frobisher's exploration of Cathay, four of Lok's Caesar step-children each gave £25; Julius, Thomas, Charles and Elizabeth. Lok and his own children all gave money towards the expedition too; Lok himself invested £900, whilst seven of his sons each gave £25; Matthew, Henry, Michael, Zachary, Eleazer, Gerson and Benjamin. The expedition was not financed solely by fellow merchants, it also included payments from many prominent court figures; Dr John Dee, Robert Dudley, Francis Walsingham, William Cecil and Queen Elizabeth, to name a few.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A St Loe murderer

Bess of Hardwick

In January 1559 Bess of Hardwick married her third husband William St Loe, a widower with two grown daughters; Mary and Margaret.
William was the eldest son of his parents, Sir John St Loe and his wife Margaret, and therefore inherited the family fortune upon his father's death in 1559. When John St Loe died, he left his eldest William, as well as his youngest two sons, Clement and John, and his only daughter Elizabeth well provided for with money and properties, however to Edward he left nothing. This was probably due to him knowing of Edward's lack of responsibility when it came to money; in 1553 Margaret had encourage John to give Edward the lease of Whitchurch Manor in Somerset, however he had sold it three years later and had quickly spent all of the money. In 1559 William gave Edward the stewardship of Sutton Court with residential rights for life. After William's death, Edward claimed that on his deathbed he had given Edward a lifetime interest in Sutton Court.

Sutton Court
Edward's marital life was also a source of scandal. In 1558 Edward married Bridget Scutt (nee Malte). Bridget was the second wife of John Scutt, a former tailor to King Henry VIII, and they had a twelve year old son Anthony as well as eighteen year old Margaret who was John Scutt's daughter from his first marriage. John Scutt died suddenly in 1558 and only a month later Bridget married Edward. At the time of this marriage it was found that Bridget was three months pregnant by Edward. Only two weeks after John Scutt died, Edward had purchased from Bridget the property leases that Scutt had owned; the manors of Stanton Drew and East Cranmer. If the situation was not suspicious enough already, only a few months after the wedding Bridget herself mysteriously died. Six months after Bridget's death, Edward married again. The lucky bride was Margaret Scutt, Bridget's step daughter from her first marriage. Despite everything that had happened, Edward and Margaret had a long marriage, she outlived him by thirteen years, and they had two children together; John and Ann.

William St Loe

As William's first younger brother, Edward, was his heir as William only had daughters from his first marriage and his current marriage to Bess was yet to produce any children. However, Edward feared greatly that if Bess gave birth to a son, it would be this child that inherited and not him. 
In 1560 Bess was poisoned but luckily she recovered. This occurred during a visit from Edward to the newly married St Loe's in London, so that he could meet his new sister-in-law. For this, William and his mother Margaret both thought Edward to have been behind it. 
In December 1564 Edward went to visit William and was staying with him. It was during this visit that William suddenly died. William was only forty seven years old. It can be assumed that Edward thought he would then inherit William's fortune and properties, however William may have forseen this eventuality and in his Will he left everything to Bess. William had started to move his properties into the hands of Bess after the 1560 poisoning. 
The picture that we have of Edward St Loe is not a positive one, and the number of sudden and mysterious deaths that he is connected to, and profits from, is suspicious. It is entirely possible that Edward spent his life using poison to murder those around him whom he perceived as a threat, as it was only through their deaths that he would get what he wanted. 
This following letter was sent from Margaret St Loe to her daughter-in-law Bess on the 13th June 1560, after the event of Bess being poisoned in London, stating that she had been told of Edward's involvement in it from a lady, possibly a cousin or close friend of Edward's. 

To my good lady Sayntloo be thys delyueryd

good madam with my very harty commendacyns as sche that desyrys to here how yow & my son sayntloo doth & also to sertyfy yow wat I here of dyueres & I haue ben exed wat the maters ys be twexte my son sayntloo & hys brother edward I haue made anser I was suer my sone Sayntloo wolde not mysse leke with hym with owte a gret caues/ & many hath sayde to me thay here say Edward scholde go abowte to powson hys brether & yow & I haue tolde them I know hyt not so here hys a gret talke of hyt/ & apone amonth or more ther cam alady hether to me/ & was very ernest with me to know wher euer I harde eny sych thyng & sayde sche scholde here hyt at longeys moth who browte hor leter or token from besse sayntloo & sche wolde ahade me synde to long & I wolde not// but I tolde hur I was suer yow where powsonyd when I was at London & yeffe yow had not ade a present Remedy ye had dyed wych sche made hyt straynge sche neuer harde of hyt afor/ wych I am suer sche dyd/ sche hath byn more & senyte & yet is at Edward sayntloes besdon schall tell yow more of hur talke to me now I know suer sche cam hether to here wat I wolde say & wat sche code vnderstand by me/ sche tolde me how hur coson edward had send to hur often to cometo hym but sche wolde not but I tolde hur wat I thowght of hym wych I am suer sche myslekyd me for/ but sche sayde sche was sory ther scholde beeny varyances be twen vs for sche dyd know I haue vsed hym wery well but I thynk sche sayth the contrary now to hym/ I perceue ther heddes be foll of thys mater as thay haue letell grace so god send them letell powre to do my son sayntlo or yow eny horte thys was the good wyll he bare yow when he cam vp to London to se yow as he sayde was nonother caues hys comyng/ wych I know the contrary for he lekyd no thyng your maryege/ hys good frynchyppe to yow & to me ys all on/ the lyuyng god defende vs all from sych fryndes I pray yow madam send me worde how thys deuell deuysys be gan & how hyt can to lyte thankes be to god ye know hyt I wyll troboll yow no lenger but I pray god sende yow both long lyffe & good helth

with moch worchyppe wryton the xiij of Iune by yowres most assurydly as long as I haue lyffe

margret Sayntloo

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Elizabeth I and her care for Robert Dudley

Elizabeth and Robert

The close relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester was a constant and fixed feature throughout her reign until Robert's death. The relationship was often viewed as a romantic one despite Elizabeth declaring herself to be a 'Virgin Queen'. It is probable that Elizabeth did consider marriage with Dudley as from her proposition in 1563 for him to be the husband to Mary, Queen of Scots we can understand that she considered him good enough to marry a queen. However, the suspicious death of his first wife Amy Robsart meant that his reputation was tarnished enough for him to be unacceptable as the husband to England's monarch. In their personal relationship, to put it simply, Elizabeth and Robert loved each other. Elizabeth needed him by her side and he acted as an unofficial consort, often not allowed to leave court. When Robert died in 1588, Elizabeth shut herself away in her apartments for days until the door was broken down. They had been friends since childhood and Elizabeth was now to live another fifteen years without him.
Countess Bess
Robert Dudley was to be hosted by the Shrewsburys, Countess Bess and Earl George, in June 1577 at Buxton and Chatsworth, as he was visiting Buxton to treat a boil on the calf of his leg. The Shrewsburys were important people at this time as they were the hosts of the captive Mary, Queen of Scots. As well as Bess' daughter Elizabeth having married Charles Stuart, the queen's cousin and member of the royal family, and having had a daughter, Arbella. They enjoyed a friendly and close relationship with both Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley. Robert Dudley helped to further the marriage arrangements of the Shrewsbury children, Charles and Elizabeth. Also, when the Shrewsbury's marriage fell apart in 1580, the queen became involved in trying to reconcile the couple.
The revised version of this letter which was sent to the Countess, was incredibly different to this draft as all considerations concerning Robert Dudley had been removed. In this draft Queen Elizabeth writes about the well being of Robert, concerning how much food and drink he is allowed to have, showing Elizabeth to be explicitly concerned with his health. This draft was written on the 4th June, and the revised version was not written until the 25th of June 1577. 

4 Iunii. 1577 memorandum of her majestes lettre to the Erle and Countesse of Shrewsbury. of thankes for the good vsage of my Lord of Leicester

Ryght Trvsty &ct. being geven to vnderstande from owre cosyn of Leycester howe honorably he was lately receyved and vsed by you owre cosyn the Cowntesse at Chatswoorth and howe his dyet is by you bothe dyscharged at Bvxtons we shoolde doe him great wronge howlding him in yt place of owre favor we doe in case we shoold not let you vnderstande in how thankefoll sorte we accept the same at bothe your handes which we doe not acknowled to be don vnto him but to owre selfes and therfor doe mean to take vppon vs the debt and to acknowledge you bothe as credytors so you can be content to accept vs for debter wherin is the daynger vnles you cvt of some parte of the large allowavnce of dyet you geve him. lest otherwyse the debt herby may growe to be so great as we shall not be able to dyscharge the same and so become banke rowte and therfor we thinke yt meet for the saving of owre credyt to proscrybe vnto you a proportyon of dyet which we mean in no case you shall exceed: and that is to allowe him, by the daye for his meate two ownces of fleshe referring the qualytye to your selves so you exceed not the quantytye and for his drynke the ... parte of a parte of a pynte of wyne to comphorte his stomocke and as myche of St Ames sacred water as he lvstethe to drynke On festyvall dayes as is fyt for a man of his qualytye we can be content you shall enlarge his dyet by allowng vnto him for his dyner the showlder of a wren and for his svpper a leg of the same besydes his ordenary ownces. the lyke proportyon we ... you shall allowe vnto owr brother of warwycke saving yt we thinke yt ... in respekt that his boddye is more replete then his brothers yt the wrens legg allowed at svpper on festyvall dayes be abated for that lyght svppers agreeth best with rvles of physyke. This order owre meanyng is you shall inviolably observe and so may you ryght well assvre your selfes of a most thankfull debter to so well deservng credytors.