Chronicle of the Grey Friars of London Camden Society Old Series: Volume 53. Originally published by Camden Society, London, 1852.
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P. 26, 4th 1. from foot. "And this yere was brent a palmer." This is a flagrant clerical error of the MS. In Arnold's Chronicle we read "this year was brent ye towne of Paburh'm." Qu. was this Baburham or Babraham, co. Cambridge?
P. 30. Evil May-day and John Meautys. In the fuller account which Stowe gives of these riots, he relates that the mob ran from Cornhill "to a house east from Leadenhall, called the Green Gate, where dwelt one Mewtas, a Pickard or Frenchman, within whose house dwelled divers Frenchmen, whom they likewise spoiled, and if they had found Mewtas they would have stricken off his head." The present chronicle tells us how he escaped,—by hiding in the gutters of his house. The history of that house, "a fair house of old time called the Green Gate," will be found in Stowe's Survay, where he states that "John Mutas, a Pickarde or Frenchman, dwelt there, and harboured in his house many Frenchmen that kalendred wolstedes, and did other things contrary to the franchises of the citizens." This John Meutas, or Meautys, (called James in the present chronicle,) founded a family in England, of which a pedigree will be found in Clutterbuck's History of Hertfordshire, vol. i. p. 93, and some further account in the memoir accompanying the portrait of Sir Thomas Meautys, (sometime secretary to lord chancellor Bacon,) engraved for the Granger Society.
P. 31. Alice lady Hungerford. The passage relating to this execution is extracted by Stowe from the present chronicle, which is cited in his margin as the "Register of the Gray Fryars," but he has inserted after the lady's name the following words,—"a knight's wife, for murthering her husband." In order to recover some further particulars of this domestic tragedy, I applied to the Rev. J. E. Jackson, of Leigh Delamere, Wilts, who has made large collections relative to the family of Hungerford, and he obligingly favoured me with a reply, which, with the view of exciting further inquiry, was inserted in the Gentleman's Magazine for December 1851. The question is stated thus:—
It appears that Sir Richard C. Hoare, in his volume on the Hungerfords (Hungerfordiana, p. 20) has introduced the name of Alice lady Hungerford and her catastrophe as belonging to the wife of a Robert Hungerford of "Cadenham." This appropriation is most improbable, for these reasons:—
3. Supposing Sir R. C. Hoare to have had some authority which he has not produced for assigning the wife Alice and the story of the murder to the Robert Hungerford of Cadenham to whom he has assigned them, still his account is contradicted by dates. According to him that part of the Cadenham pedigree would stand thus:—
Now, Robert the grandfather died in 1558 (see his will abstracted in Collectanea Topog. et Geneal. vii. 71); Robert the father was buried at Bremhill in 1596; so that Robert the grandson, if murdered in 1523, must have been murdered 35 years before the death of his grandfather, and 73 years before that of his father. In the absence, therefore, of all reference to authority, Sir R. C. Hoare's statement must be regarded as a mere guess.
Mr. Jackson then proceeds to state that he has, in his own mind, long fixed this story upon other parties in the Hungerford family; but that, in his turn, he can produce no authority for it, except that of a little circumstantial evidence.
Now neither of the two latter persons could be the knight alluded to; for Sir John died between 24 July and 27 August 1524 (see his will, Coll. Top. et. Gen. vii. 71), leaving his wife Margaret surviving him; and Sir Anthony lived to 1558, was buried at Great Bedwyn in that year, and his wives' names were Jane (Darell) and Dorothy (Danvers).
Sir Walter Hungerford of Farleigh Castle (afterwards Lord Hungerford of Heytesbury) is the only person in the entire Hungerford history upon whom the least probability of connexion with the story can be attached. To him there is this great objection in limine, that he was certainly not murdered by his wife in 1523, because he was beheaded in 1541. But it will be observed that our Chronicle merely records the fact of the lady's execution, and that the crime for which she is stated to have suffered was inserted by Stowe from some other authority. Stowe relied, perhaps, on traditional information, which may easily have varied in some degree from the truth It is probable that the lady may have been tried and condemned on a charge of attempt to murder, instead of having actually caused death. With this variation of the fact as stated by Stowe being granted, there are circumstances in the domestic life of this Sir Walter Hungerford which lead to the conclusion that the story refers to him.
In the next place, he was married three times: 1st, to Susanna Danvers; 2dly, to Alice, daughter of the Lord Sandes; and 3rdly, to Elizabeth (or Isabella), daughter of Lord Hussey. The date of the first wife's death has not been ascertained, but he was certainly married to the third wife before the year 1532. So far, circumstances favour Mr. Jackson's conclusion.
In a very curious letter, written about the year 1536, to Cromwell Lord Privy Seal, Elizabeth Hussey, the third wife, applies for justice and protection against her husband, on account of his cruelty. He had charged her, most falsely as she declares, with incontinence; had arbitrarily shut her up and kept her close prisoner for four years in one of the towers of his castle, without money, and with only such food as was brought to her by a chaplain, a creature of his, who, she says, "had undertaken to get rid of her out of his lord's way." That she was afraid to eat what this person brought her, and was secretly supplied by the poor women of the village at the window. She goes on to say "that she could tell, if she dared, many detestable and urgent crimes on the part of her husband, as he well knew," and especially of his notorious cruel conduct "always to his wives."
With this letter to illustrate the character of Walter lord Hungerford, considering also that names and dates are all consistent, it may at all events be admitted as a fair suggestion that the lady executed at Tybourn may have been the second wife, Alice Sandys; that his cruelty to her may have driven her to attempt to get rid of him by poison, or that he, wishing to get rid of her (as he did afterwards of his third wife), may have brought some accusation against her, and procured her condemnation. Such things were done in those days. Above all, when the reader is referred to p. 42, and is apprised of the crime for which this wretched man at last suffered the extreme penalty of the laws there is so much reason to conclude he had long outraged, it will not be thought unjust that the stigma should at length, in the pages of history, be removed from one of his victims to himself.
P. 31, 1. 14. For "master George Monop," read Monoux. A large MS. volume of vellum, filled with transcripts of deeds and other documents relating to the estates of Sir George Monoux, was sold in the auction room of Messrs. Puttick and Simpson, Dec. 4, 1851, Lot 163, for 5l. 10s. and has since taken its place among the Addit, MSS. of the British Museum.
P. 35. Poisoning of the household of the bishop of Rochester, and the punishment by Boiling. This crime occasioned great popular excitement at the time, which was probably increased both by the supposition that the life of the bishop (John Fisher) had been attempted, and by the rumour that many of the poor which had partaken of his alms had died, which is directly asserted as the fact by Stowe. Such, however, was not actually the case: only one of the episcopal household, and one poor widow, lost their lives. As the parliament was sitting, the matter was brought before it, and an act (22 Hen. VIII. c. 9) was passed, reciting that "now in the tyme of this presente parliament, that is to saye, in the xviijth daye of Februarye in the xxij. yere of his moste victorious reygn, one Richard Roose late of Rouchester in the countie of Kent, coke, otherwyse called Richard Coke, of his moste wyked and dampnable dysposicyon dyd caste a certyne venym or poyson into a vessell replenysshed with yeste or barme stondyng in the kechyn of the Reverende Father in God John Bysshopp of Rochester at his place in Lamebyth Marsshe, wyth whych yeste or barme and other thynges convenyent porrage or gruell was forthwyth made for his famylye there beyng, wherby nat only the nombre of xvij. persons of his said famylie whych dyd eate of that porrage were mortally enfected and poysoned, and one of them, that is to say, Benett Curwen gentylman therof is deceassed, but also certeyne pore people which resorted to the sayde Bysshops place and were there charytably fedde wyth the remayne of the saide porrage and other vytayles, were in lyke wyse infected, and one pore woman of them, that is to saye, Alyce Tryppytt wydowe, is also thereof now deceassed: our sayde Sovereign Lorde the Kynge, of hys blessed disposicion inwardly abhorryng all such abhomynable offences because that in maner no persone can lyve in suertye out of daunger of death by that meane yf practyse therof should not be exchued, hath ordeyned and enacted by auctorytie of thys presente parlyament that the sayde poysonyng be adjudged and demed as high treason. And that the sayde Richard for the sayd murder and poysonynge of the said two persones as is aforesayde by auctoritie of this presente parlyament shall stande and be attaynted of highe treason: And by cause that detestable offence nowe newly practysed and comytted requyreth condygne punysshemente for the same; It is ordeyned and enacted by auctoritie of this present parlyament that the said Richard Roose shalbe therfore boyled to deathe withoute havynge any advauntage of his clargie. And that from hensforth every wylfull murder of any persone or persones by any whatsoever persone or persones herafter to be comytted and done by meane or waye of poysonyng shalbe reputed, demed, and juged in the lawe to be highe treason; And that all and every persone or persones which hereafter shalbe lawfully indyted, appeled and attaynted or condemned of such treson for any maner poysonyng shall not be admytted to the benefyte of hys or theyre clargye, but shalbe immedyatly committed to execucion of deth by boylynge for the same."
It has been supposed that this was an ex-post facto enactment, so far as Richard Roose was concerned; and yet we find by the present chronicle, p. 30, that, at an earlier period of Henry's reign, nine years before, a man was sodden in a cauldron at Smithfield, "because he would have poisoned divers persons." Therefore the same punishment appears to have previously attached to the offence. It has not, however, been traced to still earlier times. (See "Notes and Queries," 1852, vol. v. pp. 32, 112, 184.) A third instance of its execution has been found in the chronicle of King's Lynn, about the same time as Roose's case: "1531. This year here was a maid boiled to death in the Market-place for poisoning her mistress." (Ibid. p. .) A fourth occurs in 1542, which is briefly mentioned in p. 45 of the present volume, and somewhat differently by Stowe, as follows: "The 17 March [i. e. a week later] Margaret Davy, a maid, was boiled in Smithfield for poisoning of the household that she had dwelled in." Sir Walter Scott, in his Border Minstrelsy (notes to Leyden's ballad of Lord Soulis), gives this passage with the erroneous date of 1524, following a misprint in Stowe's margin. The punishment by boiling is supposed to have been repealed by the statute 1 Edward VI. c. 12, by which all new treasons were abolished.
P. 65. Peter college, next the dean's place in Paul's church-yard. Stowe, in his Survay, does not tell us what Peter college was, but he thus mentions the accident recorded in the text, somewhat differently as to the particulars: "Then is the Stationers' hall on the same side [south-west of the cathedral church], lately built for them in the place of Peter college, where, in the year 1549, the 4th of January, five men were slain by the fall of earth upon them, digging for a well." I am inclined to think that "Peter College" was a perverted name of the Petty-canons' college, of the foundation of which in 17 Ric. II. Stowe gives some account in a previous passage.
P. 72. The fairest lady that she had of her country was stolen away from her (Mary of Guise dowager queen of Scots). It has been kindly suggested to me, (Notes and Queries, v. 305,) in answer to an inquiry on this passage, that the lady in question was probably the same lady who is mentioned in the following passage of a letter of sir John Mason, the English ambassador in France, to the privy council, dated the 18th April, 1551: "The Scotish queen's shipping is hasted very much. It is thought she shall embark a month sooner than she intended. The lady Fleming departed hence, with child by this king [Henri II.] and it is thought that, immediately upon the arrival of the dowager in Scotland, she will come again to fetch another. If she so do, here is like to be a combat, the heartburning being already very great; the old worn pelf [Diana of Poictiers, then aged fiftythree,] fearing thereby to lose some part of her credit, who presently reigneth alone, and without empeasche." And again, from Amboise, April 29, "The said post hath brought word, that the lady Fleming is brought to bed of a man-child, whereat our women do not much rejoyce." Mr. Tytler (History of Scotland, 1842, 8vo. vol. vi. pp. 374, 375) states his suspicion that this lady was Jean, widow of Malcolm third lord Fleming, herself a natural daughter of James the Fourth of Scotland, by Agnes Stewart, countess of Bothwell, or by her sister lady Isabel Stewart, who were the natural children of James earl of Buchan, natural brother of king James II. (Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, by Wood, i. 52, 227, 268). Were this the frail lady Fleming of the year 1551, it might have been said that she was but following the bad examples of her forebears: but as she was married in 1524–5, and had two sons and four daughters, and two of the latter became widows in 1547, their husbands being then killed together with lord Fleming himself (in his 53d year), at the battle of Pinkie, it is pretty clear that Mr. Tytler was mistaken. It is to be feared that the lady Fleming was not a widow, but the wife, of James fourth lord Fleming, who was employed as one of the representatives of the Scotish nation to negociate the marriage of their queen, and who died at Paris on the 15th Dec. 1558, æt. 24. She was the lady Barbara Hamilton, eldest daughter of James duke of Chatelherault (at this time regent of Scotland); whose only child named in the family pedigree is Jane (afterwards the wife successively of lord chancellor Thirlestane and of John fifth earl of Cassilis,) who, as she died in 1609, æt. 55, was born in or about 1554. (Wood's Douglas, i. 332; ii.634.)
P. 94. The shrine of Edward the Confessor. This and the other royal monuments in Westminster abbey have recently engaged an unusual degree of attention in consequence of the proposals made for their restoration. It has been remarked that a memento of the re-erection of the shrine in the reign of Mary—a work which, as shown in the note already given in p. 94, occupied some time,—still exists in a monogram of the initials of abbat Feckenham (I F A i. e. Johannes Feckenham Abbas) at the end of the inscription on the cornice. Originally there was a different inscription (see Dart, ii. 23, Neale and Brayley, vol. ii. p. 69), part of which has been recently seen, from the plaster having fallen away. It may be presumed that the wooden superstructure of the shrine, the classical architecture of which has puzzled many critics, was a portion of the work renewed by abbat Feckenham.