Page images

that she thought the yonng lady'i treatment from her mother very improper, as tending to force her into measures which might occasion much uneasiness to her family and friends.

To my cousin, John Paston, be this letter delivered. Trusty and well-beloved cousin, I commend me to you, desiring to hear of your welfare and good speed in your matters, the which I pray God send you to his plesaunce (pleasure) and to your heart's ease.

Cousin, I let you weet that Scroope1 hath been in this country to see my cousin your sister, and he hath spoken with my cousin your mother, and she desireth of him that he should show you the indentures made between the knight that hath his daughter and him, whether that Scroope, if he were married and fortuned to have children, if those children should inherit his land, or his daughter, the which is married.

Cousin, for this cause take good heed to his indentures, for he is glad to show you them, or whom ye will assign with you; and he saith to me he is the last in the tayle (entail) of his livelihood the which is three hundred and fifty marks (233/. 6s. Sd.) and better, as Watkin Shipdam saith, for he hath taken a compt (an account) of his livelihood divers times; and Scroope saith to me if he be married and have a son and heir, his daughter that is married shall have of hislivelihood fifty marks (33/. 6». Sd.) and no more; and therefore, cousin, meseemeth he were good for my cousin your sister with that (without that) ye might get her a better; and if ye can get a better I would advise you to labour it in as short time as ye may goodly, for she was never in so great sorrow as she is now-a-days, for she may not speak with no man, whosoever come, ne not (neither) may see nor speak with my man, nor with servants of her mother's, but that she beareth her an hand otherwise than she meaneth; and she hath since Easter the most part been beaten once in the week or twice, and sometimes twice on a day, and her head broken in two or three places. Wherefore, cousin, she hath sent to me by Fryar Newton in great counsel, and prayeth me that I would send to you a letter of her heaviness,

1 There was a noble family of this name at this time, but whether the gentleman here mentioned was a branch of it or not, does not appear. He was

?robably the sou of Millicent, the wife of Sir John astolf.

and pray you to be her good brother, as her trust is in you; and she saith if ye may see by his evidences that his children and hers may inherit, and she to have reasonable jointure, she hath heard so much of his birth and his conditions, that and (if) ye will she will have him, whether that her mother will or will not, notwithstanding it is told her his person is simple (plain), for she saith men shall have the more dainty [deyute]* of her, if she rule her to him as she ought to do. Cousin, it is told me there is a goodly man in your inn, of the which the father died lately, and if ye think that he were better for her than Scroope, it would be laboured, and give Scroope a goodly answer, that he be not put off till ye be sure of a better; for he said when he was with me but if (unless) he have some comfortable answer of you he will no more labour in this matter, because he might not see my cousin your sister, and he saith he might have seen her and she had been better than she is; and that causeth him to deem that her mother was not well willing; and so have I sent my cousin your mother word; wherefore, cousin, think on this matter, for sorrow oftentime causeth women to beset them otherwise than they should do, and if she were in that case, I wot well ye would be sorry: cousin, I pray you burn this letter, that your men nor none other men see it; for and (if) my cousin your mother knew that I had sent you this letter, she should never love me. No more I write to you at this time, but Holy Ghost have you in keeping. Written in haste, on Saint Peter's day, by candle light. By your cousin,

Elizareth Clere.3

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

3 [Fenn translates " dainty," but this does not seem the right word. Wo know of no authority he has for such a translation. The word is more probably intended for duty, t. e. think her the more dutiful.]

3 Elizabeth Clere was the daughter and heir of Thomas Uvedale, E*q. of Tacolneston, in Norfolk, and now the widow of Robert Clere, of Onnesby, Esq. She died in 1492.

LETTER LXVI.—(LI. vol.iii. p. 211.)

The ward here mentioned, I should suppose, was Thomas Fastolf of Ipswich, of whom Sir John Fastolf (in his letter to J. Paston, dated 11th of November, 1454) so much wished to have obtained the guardianship. This transaction might have happened previously to Sir John's letter in June, 1454, or in the December following in the same year, as Saint John Baptist's day is in the former, Saint John Evangelist's day in the latter month, but the exact date is immaterial. [It is, however, probably December 28, as that was the Saturday preceding Saint John the Evangelist in 1454.] The letter presents us with a curious instance of the methods used to obtain and secure the persons of minors, and shows us the warlike manner in which those travelled, who supposed they should meet with any resistance. The taking of a child like the ward with them, when most probably the real ward was conveyed another way, was an ingenious artifice to deceive those who might lay in wait to attack them, and endeavour to get possession of his person.

Unto my right worshipful master Paston be this bill delivered in haste,

weet and (if) any man would come against them; and he said how he should not let his way neither for Sir John Fastolf, nor for Paston, nor for none of them all.

And as for the ward he was not there, but there was had another child like him, and he rode next him, and when that he was two miles beyond Colchester, he sent him home again with a certain meny (fellowship); and Sir Philip Wentford, and Guybon of Debenham, and Timperley, and Bernard, they took a man of Stratford, a sowter (a shoemaker), and his name is Pearson, and they inquired him of every man's name of the other party; and he told them as many as he could; and they bade him inquire further for to know all; for they desired of him for to inquire as far as he could, and he should have well for his labour. No more to you at this time, but the Holy Ghost have you in his keeping. Written at Hadley, the Saturday after Saint John's day, and I beseech you heartily recommend me to my master Alblaster. By your man,

R, Dollay.5

Right trusty and well-beloved master, I recommend me unto you, desiring to hear of your good prosperity and welfare; and as touching for Sir Philip Wentford,i he rode unto London ward upon Saint John's day, and on the evening afore he sent to my master for to have some of his men for to ride with him to Colchester, and for because he should not have no suspicion to me, I rode myself and a fellow with me; and he rode with an hundred horse with jackets* and salets», and rusty haubergeons; * and there rode with him Guybon of Debenham, and Timperley, and all the fellowship that they could make; and Guybon said that he would indict as many as he could understand that were of the other party; and Long Bernard was there also, and he made Sir Philip Wentford to turn again, and made every man to bend their bows and alight down off their horse, for to

1 Though this name is here written Wentford, I rather believe it means Sir Philip Wentworth, of Nettlested, in Suffolk, who married Mary, thcdaugh-ter of Lord Clifford.

2 The jack or jacket, was a military vestment, calculated for the defence of the body, composed of linen stuffed with cotton, wool, or hair quilted, and commonly covered with leather.

3 A salet was a light helmet of various construction.

* The haubergeon was a coat composed either of plate or chain-mail without sleeves. For a fuller aceonns and view of these the reader is referred to Mr. Grose's accurate 'Treatise on Ancient Armour and Weapons.' Quarto, 1785.

Hadley, in Suffolk, Saturday, 29th of June, or 28th of December, 1454. 32 or 33 H. VI.

5 R. Dollay seems to have been a senant belonging to some one of the party opposed to J. Paston, in J. Pastou's interest.

LETTER LXVII.—(LII. vol. iii. p. 215.)

Edmund succeeded his grandfather, Reginald Lord Grey, of Kuthyn, in 1441. In 1464 he was appointed Lord Treasurer to Edward IV. and the next year created Earl of Kent. He died in 1489. The barony of Hiith\n is now in the Earl of Sussex. [It is now, 1840, vested in the Haroncss Greyde Kuthyn, married to the Marquis of Hastings.] These letters discover to us the great attention paid by families to the proper disposition of the female branches in suitable and advantageous marriages. [But in this case a subsequent letter shows Lord Grey was only labouring for his own private interest; and the following letter from J. Paston seems not to place any great degree of confidence in him.]

To my trusty and well-beloved John Paston, Esquire, be this letter delivered.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

LETTER LXVIIL—(LIII. vol. iii. p. 217.)

The following is transcribed from a copy of the original letter (in J. Paston's own hand) which he had sent to , Lord Grey; it was preserved with the preceding one of his lordship to J. Paston. He shows himself in this letter not only a kind brother, but one who was attentive tonis sister's welfare, for though this alliance came recommended by a nobleman, who assured him that the gentleman proposed was not only well born but had an handsome livelihood, yet he would give no positive answer till he knew for whom the application was made, and in what county his estate was situated. This letter, being only a copy, has no .concluding subscription.

The Lord Grey.

Right worshipful and my right good lord, I recommend me to your good lordship, and whereas it pleased your lordship to direct your letter to me for a marriage for my poor sister to a gentleman of your knowledge of 300 marks (200/.) livelihood, in case she were not married; wherefore I am greatly bound to do your lordship service; for sooth, my lord, she is not married, nor insured to no man; there is and hath been divers times and late, communication of such marriages with divers gentlemen not determined as yet, aud whether the gentleman that your lordship

meaneth of be one of them or nay I doubt: and whereas your said letter specifieth that I should send you word whether I thought you should labour farther in the matter or nay. In that my lord I dare not presume to write so to you without I knew the gentleman's name; notwithstanding, my lord, I shall take upon me, with the advice of other of her friends, that she shall neither be married nor insured to no creature, nor farther proceed in no such matter, before the feast of the Assumption of our Lady (15th of August,) next coming, during which time your lordLETTER LXIX.—(LIV. vol. iii. p. 221.)

ship may send me, if it please you, certain information of the said gentleman's name, and of the place and country where his livelihood lieth, and whether he hath any children; and after I shall demean me in the matter as your lordship shall be pleased; for in good faith, my lord, it were to me great joy that my said poor sisler were, according to her poor degree, married by

your advice, trusting then that ye would be her good lord.

Right worshipful and my right good lord, I beseech Almighty God to have you in his keeping. Written at Norwich, the 15th day of July.

Norwich, Monday, 15th of July, 1454. 32 H. VI.

By the conversation that had passed between my Lord Grey and Billing, we find that his lordship had his own interest in view in the match he had proposed to John Paston tor his sister, but on finding that his ward was not willing to give up to him the lady s fortune, he would proceed no farther in the proposal. Some part of this account, however, appears obscure.

To my right worshipful brother, John Paston, be this delivered.

Right worshipful brother, I recommend me to you, desiring to hear of your welfare. Hilling' the Serjeant hath been in his country, and he came to London this week; he sent for me and asked me how I fared; I told him here is pestilence; and said I fared the better (that) he was in good hele (health) for it was noised that he was dead; a toke (he toot) me to him, and asked how my sister did, and I answered well, never better; he said he was with the Lord Grey, and they talked of a gentleman which is ward to my lord: I remember he said it was Harry Grey that they talked of; and my lord said, " I was busy within this few days to a maryd (have married) him to a gentlewoman in Norfolk, that shall have 400 marks (266/. 13». id.) to her marriage, and now he will not be (q? buy2) me, for 400 marks would do me ease, and now he would have his marriage money himself, and therefore, quoth he, he shall marry himself for me.''

These words had my lord to Billing, as he told me, he understood that my lord laboured for his own avail; and counselled to bid her he wise; and I thanked him for his good counsel.

I sent you an answer of your letter of Sir John Fastolf 's coming home as he told me himself, nevertheless he bode (staid) longer

1 Thomas Billing was made a scrjeant in 1453, and about 1469 was appointed Chief Justice of the King's Bench.

2 [Perhaps be me for be with me—agree with me.]

than he said himself he should ado (have done).

He told me he should make an end betwixt Scroop» and my sister while he is in Norfolk; many would it should not prove, for they say it is an unlikely marriage.

In case Cressener* be talked of any more, he is counted a gentlemanly man and a worshipful, ye know who is most worshipful better than I; at the reverence of God draw to some conclusion, it is time.

My Lord Chancellor5 come not here, since I came to London, neither my Lord of York.8

My Lord of Canterbury7 hath received

3 Scroope was a widower, and most probably much older than the lady, and therefore it is spoken of as an unlikely (disprupvrtioned) marriage, lie was the son-in-law of Sir John Fastolf.

* Who Cressener was I cannot discover.

5 Richard Nevile, Earl of Salisbury, was appointed chancellor in April, 1454.

0 This must be either Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, or William Booth, who was translated to the province of York in 1452, from Coventry and Litchfield.

7 Thomas Bourchier was elected by the convent to the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury in April, 1454, from the see of Ely. He lived fifty-one years after his first consecration, dying in 1486, after he had been archbishop thirty-two years. No Englishman ever continued so long a bishop, nor has any archbishop either before or since his time enjoyed this dignity so many years. [The present Archbishop of York already nearly equals this. He was consecrated in 1791, forty-nine years, and has been archbishop since 1807, thirty-three years.

his cross, and I was with him in the king's chamber when he made his homage; I told Harry Wilton the demeaning betwixt the king and him, it were too long to write.

As for the priest that did arrest me, I cannot understand that it is the priest that ye mean.

Here is great pestilence j1 I purpose to flee into the country. My Lord of Oxford2 it come again fro the sea, and he hath gotten him little thank in this country; much more thing I would write to you, but I lack leisure.

Harry Wilton saw the king. My Lord of Ely3 hath done his few the (faith or fealty). God have you in his blessed keeping.

Written at London, on the Friday before our Lady's-day 4 the nativity, in great haste. I pray recommend me to my sister and to my cousin Clere.

By your brother,

William Paston.5

London, Friday, 6th of September,
1454. 33H.VI.

LETTER LXX.—(LV. vol. iii. p. 225.) ]

On the back of this letter, in an ancient hand, is written as follows:—" Sr Jo. Fastolf willing to have maried T. Fastolf to one of the daughters of Jo. Paston if he had obteyned the wardshipp of hym." This Thomas Fastolf appears by the pedigrees of the family to have been the son and heir of Nicholas Fastolf of Ipswich, by Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of Sir John Braham, Knt., and cousin to Sir John Fastolf. He4vas at this time about ten years old, as appears by a subsequent letter, where his mother complains of those who had obtained the wardship of him, endeavouring to make him younger than he was, that they might keep longer possession of his livelihood. In 1465 she says he was above twenty-one years old.

i This is a very curious letter, as it affords us a true representation of the address made use of to get possession of a minor, not only that the management of his estate might be in the hands of the guardian, but likewise the power of marrying him to whom, and on what terms, he pleased. In this case the match proposed seems to have been a proper one if the young people, whose inclinations were never consulted on these occasions, happened to approve of each other; if they did not, they were both perhaps rendered miserable during their lives. This power of marrying the ward, when under the direction of a covetous or bad guardian, was often most shamefully abused; and, tyrannical as it was, it continued in force till the reign of Charles II. I should suppose that Sir J. Fastolf did not accomplish his purpose, both from what the mother of the young man complains of in the letter above alluded to, and from no marriage taking place between him and a daughter of J. Paston.

To the worshipful and my right

Worshipful and right well-beloved cousin, I commend me to you; like you to weet that I have received a letter at this time from -John Bocking, with a copy of the patent concerning the wardship that ye wote of, by which I understand that ye have both wrought and holpen, by your great wisdom, to bring this matter about which I desired your friendship and good advice for, the surety of the said ward; and for expedition of which I thank you right heartily, and pray you to continue forth your good labours in the same, in such wise as it may be made sure in all wise, though it cost me the more of my good.

And whereas it is remembered me by the said letters that I should labour to get the

1 I do not find this year marked as a year of pestilence by our historians.

2 John de Vere Earl of Oxford, beheaded in 1461.

well-beloved cousin, John Paston.

said ward into my governance, truly I cannot see how I could do it to be done, for I have none acquaintance in that country that I could trust to, without the sheriff might be my tender friend in this cause, or other such as ye think best; wherefore I pray you heartily to take this matter tenderly to heart, and that ye like (to) seek a mean of such friends as ye can best advise, and may verily trust upon, to guide this matter in such wise as mine intent might be sped for the possession of it; for now that I have gone so far in the matter,

3 William Gray, a man of noble birth and great learning: he continued bishop of Ely till 1478, when he died at Downham in Norfolk, and was buried in his own cathedral.

4 8th of September. 5 William Paston was the fourth son of Sir William Paston, the judge; and having been asteady Lancastrian, had a pardon for all treasons, &c., under the Great Seal, dated 16th of July, 1468. .» E. IV.

« PreviousContinue »