09 April, 2020

More Proofs of Age

Following posts here, here, here, here and here, some more examples of my favourite thing ever: fourteenth-century proofs of age.

- John of Aylesbury, kinsman and heir of Philip of Aylesbury, was born in Weldon Basset, Northamptonshire on 6 May 1334. One of his godfathers was Sir Ralph Basset (d. 1341), lord of Weldon, who was asked by Richard Reve during John of Aylesbury's baptism why John was not named after him or after his other godfather Sir Warin Latimer. Ralph Basset became so angry at this entirely innocent-sounding question that he hit Richard Reve on the neck. At John's proof of age on Thursday in Whitsun week, 1355, Richard Reve, now aged fifty-six, recalled his assault at the hands of a nobleman. John Dyre, born c. 1305, was in the household of Sir Warin Latimer in 1334, and Warin had breakfast with Sir Ralph Basset of Weldon after the baptism. Once the two godfathers had eaten, Warin and his household set off for Braybrooke also in Northamptonshire, and, as John Dyre recalled at John of Aylesbury's proof of age in 1355, "there was a great tumult and assembly of people for a certain robber called William Ade, who was taken at the wood called ‘le Lound’ by Braybrok, and the said robber was killed there at that time." At the proof of age in 1355, Robert Botiller, then aged about fifty, remembered John of Aylesbury's year of birth because his (Robert's) uncle Robert Jacob "was digging in the quarry of Weldon and the earth fell on him, whereby he was overwhelmed." Guy Watervill, also aged about fifty in 1355, recalled John of Aylesbury's year of birth because around the time that John's mother was churched after giving birth to him, jousts were held in the village of Weldon.

- John, son and heir of John Burghersh, was born in Ewelme, Oxfordshire on 29 September 1343, and proved his age there on 14 November 1366 when he was twenty-three. John Beek, aged about sixty in 1366, stated at the proof of age that on the day of John Burghersh's birth in 1343, he went hunting with John Burghersh the father, and "at a certain leap he broke his leg and has ever since walked lame." "Eustace Roser, aged 50 years, William Wayte, aged 56 years, Philip Grenefeld, aged 53 years, Walter Fairman, aged 54 years, William Motte, aged 50 years, Richard Smyth, aged 56 years, and Henry Houstwey, aged 56 years, agree and say that on the day of the birth they started with other neighbours of the countryside for Santiago."

Interesting to see a few residents of an Oxfordshire village setting off on pilgrimage to northern Spain together in 1343!

- Thomas, son and heir of John Larcher, was born in Bolton, Yorkshire on 19 August 1345, and proved his age in Pocklington on 10 October 1366. Richard Veile, aged fifty-six in 1366, remembered Thomas Larcher's date of birth because in the same month "he had three sons born of his wife." Yowza, triplets! Unfortunately, Richard did not specify whether any of the three infants survived the birth. Ralph Mikelfeld, aged sixty in 1366, remembered the date because in the same month, he married his wife Eleanor (or rather, Alianore), and Adam Fenton, aged fifty-six in 1366, remembered because in the same month, William Cotum killed William Mikelfeld in Pocklington.

- Edmund Mortimer, third earl of March, was born in "Langoyt in the parish of Leeswen, which is in the march of Wales" on 1 February 1352, and was the son of Roger Mortimer (b. November 1328), second earl of March, and the earl of Salisbury's sister Philippa Montacute. He proved his age on 2 April 1373, which reveals that his godfathers were Sir Peter Grandison and Humphrey de Bohun, future earl of Hereford, Essex and Northampton, born on 24 March 1342 and not yet ten years old at the time, who was the younger half-brother of Edmund's father Roger Mortimer. Edmund's godmother was Elizabeth Badlesmere Mortimer de Bohun, countess of Northampton, who was the mother of Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun, and hence was Edmund's paternal grandmother. Baldwin Brugge, aged sixty in 1373, recalled the date because "he was at Langoyt on that day and gave to the lady Philippa, the earl's mother, a gold ring having in it a stone called 'dyamand'," i.e. a diamond.

- John, son and heir of William Mathewe, was born in 'Wynterborn Malruard', Dorset on 30 September 1361, and proved his age on 10 August 1384. "John Bromhull, aged 52 years, Robert Scot, aged 48 years, and John Stoke, aged 56 years, agree and say that towards nightfall on the said morrow of Michaelmas they met John Hobekyns, the child’s godfather, going towards the church, and asked him for news of the child’s mother, and he said that she had a son and that he was asked to be godfather, whereupon they went towards the house of the child’s father and met him, and he asked them to drink, and as they went towards his house the said Robert Scot fell on the highway and broke two of his right ribs. John Chipir, aged 64 years, John Coleman, aged 58 years, William Bridde, aged 54 years, and William Michel, aged 61 years, agree and say that on the morrow of the birth a tall tree called ‘Notebemtre’ growing on the highway there was blown down by a storm of wind on to a cottage of the said William Mathewe, so that the whole house was destroyed."

- Ivo Harleston, son of Margaret, daughter of Margaret, wife of Sir John de Wauton, was born in Cambridge on 11 April 1378, and was named after his godfather Ivo Zouch, chancellor of the University of Cambridge. Ivo's father was Roger Harleston, and Ivo proved his age on 27 January 1400 (and died in 1403). His cousin and co-heir Robert Pekenham was born in Dunton, Essex on 20 July 1378, and was the son of Margaret de Wauton's other daughter, Elizabeth. John Wattes, aged fifty-one in 1400, "heard on the Monday after Palm Sunday that Margaret was delivered of Ivo, and sent her a gallon of sweet wine...Thomas Caldecote, 59, and Thomas Skynnere, 70, were with Master Ivo Zouch, then chancellor of Cambridge University, in Trinity Hall, when Roger Harleston, the father, sent his servant John Dyne to ask Zouch to be godfather. John Broun, 48, ran in the afternoon to the house of Thomas Arwe, smith, to heat an iron rod with which the water in the font was heated for the baptism of Ivo in St. Clement’s church."

- Two sisters, the daughters and heirs of John Frechevyle and Beatrice Nettleworth, were Margaret Segrave and Isabel Ulkerthorp. Margaret was born on 12 May 1383 and Isabel on 20 January 1385, both in their grandfather William Nettleworth's manor of Nettleworth and both baptised in nearby Warsop, Nottinghamshire, and they jointly proved their age in Chesterfield, Derbyshire on 20 October 1403 when they were twenty and eighteen. Roger Somur, aged about sixty in 1403, remembered Margaret's birth because he "was in company with John their father at Pleasley Park, saw a sitting hare, shot it in the head with an arrow and sent it to Beatrice the mother of Margaret on the day of the birth; and on the day of Isabel’s birth William Netylworth, grandfather of Isabel, bought a black horse from him for 40s." Ralph Glapwell, aged forty-four in 1403, remembered because he "came to the house where Margaret was born on that day, and on the day that Isabel was born met a forester of Sherwood carrying on his shoulder a quantity of game, and he said that he was going to Beatrice who had borne Isabel on that day." William Chaumbur, forty-one, "was staying with the lady of Longford at Park Hall and bought a palfrey for her from a chaplain celebrating in the church of Warsop, and he was in the church and heard the parish chaplain baptising, and afterwards the chaplain told him that it was a daughter of John Frechevyle; and on the second occasion he heard Nicholas Goushyll, knight, saying at Chesterfield that Beatrice had given birth to Isabel and, John the father being dead, Margaret and Isabel were co-heirs." Ralph Cachehors, sixty, "on the first occasion was building a house at Woodthorpe when William de Netylworth, the grandfather, gave him a beam and told him of the birth; and he was at Nettleworth on the day of the baptism of Isabel and gave a hare to William the grandfather, who told him that his family had been increased because Beatrice his daughter had given birth to Isabel."

- Thomasia, one of the daughters and heirs of Sir Ralph Meynyll, was born in Derby on 6 January 1386, and proved her age on 19 February 1400. William Payne, aged forty-five in 1400, recalled the date because his wife Magote was one of the midwives at Thomasia's birth. Edmund Timley, aged fifty-five in 1400, remembered because he sold a grey horse to Ralph Meynyll on 6 January 1386, and Ralph told him that his wife (unnamed) had borne their daughter that day. Richard Hewstre, aged fifty in 1400, "rode to London to get various colours for his art on that day. Ralph asked him to buy various fowl for him, if they were for sale there, and told him that his wife had a daughter Thomasia on that day."

That last one is fascinating. In the middle of winter in 1386, a man rode all the way from Derby to London - about 130 miles - to buy 'various colours for his art'.

- John, brother and heir of Robert Derle, was born in Ashleyhay, Derbyshire on 7 February 1286, and proved his age on 18 August 1308. Sir Robert Dethek, aged about sixty in 1308, remembered the date because in January 1286 he and Henry Derle, father of Robert and John Derle, rode from Nottingham to Derle, and Henry "fell ill of the excessive cold" and died a fortnight later, shortly before his widow Alice gave birth to John. Simon Hopton, aged forty-eight in 1308, "says the same, and recollects it because Henry de Hopton his father was in company with the abovesaid Robert de Dethek and Henry de Derle on the journey from Nottingham to Derle."

- Edmund, son and heir of John Benstede, was born in 'Rosamunde' (?), Middlesex, on 2 July 1312, and proved his age on 15 July 1333. Roger Presthope, aged about fifty in 1333, knew the date because "in May of the said year he was injured in the head and right arm at the stone cross of Cherryngge [Charing Cross, London], by certain of his rivals, almost to death." Nicholas Beek, also aged about fifty in 1312, knew the date because "at the same time he was one of the household of Sir Louis of France and was sent into England to make provision against the coming of the said Sir Louis to Westminster, who was then coming to England and remaining there until the birth of the present king [Edward III], who was born on the feast of St. Brice the bishop then next coming [13 November 1312]."

The reference to 'Sir Louis of France' means Louis, count of Evreux (1276-1319), half-brother of Philip IV of France and the uncle of Edward II's queen Isabella, who was chosen as one of the infant Edward III's seven godfathers in November 1312. Louis arrived in England very early, months before Isabella gave birth, as his brother King Philip sent him to negotiate between Edward and the barons who had killed Piers Gaveston on 19 June 1312. I find it interesting to note that Nicholas Beek, a servant in Count Louis's household and presumably French (unless he was an Englishman who had settled in France) decided to stay in England and to make his home there, as he was still in England in 1333 when this proof of age took place.

- Henry, son and heir of Henry Whissh, was born in 'Brudenestret', Winchester, Hampshire, on 24 March 1334, and proved that he was now twenty-two years old in Southampton on 11 June 1356. John Url, aged forty in 1356, knew the date because he came to Winchester to work for the baker Robert Dymaund, and Robert's wife Agnes was Henry's godmother and told John Url about the boy's birth. John Marchaunt, aged fifty in 1356, married his wife Joan the year after Henry's birth, and "remembers the wedding well" (I should hope so!). The interestingly-named Valentine Hamond, aged thirty-five in 1356, "agrees and says that in the same year he submitted himself to be an apprentice of the art of a skinner." Richard Midhurst, aged forty in 1356, "agrees and says that in the same year he married a woman, Agnes by name, who was his wife for eighteen years and died four years ago." So here we see that Valentine became a skinner's apprentice at the age of thirteen (approximately) and that Richard married Agnes when he was about eighteen.

- Maud, daughter of John Stafford and the kinswoman and one of the heirs of Philip Somervill, was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire on 29 December 1340, and proved on 23 March 1356 that she was fifteen. Simon Wavere, aged fifty-six in 1356, knew the date because his wife Alice was buried in the churchyard in Banbury on the same day as Maud's baptism. John Lyndraper, aged sixty, stated that his sister Alice was hired as Maud's nurse, "altogether against his will" (he did not explain why).

- Katherine, wife of William Bermyngeham and one of the daughters and heirs of William atte Plaunke, was born in 'Berscote', Staffordshire on 6 January 1341, and proved on 3 July 1356 that she was fifteen. Thomas Morf, aged fifty-four in 1356, was in the household of Katherine's father William in 1341, and announced her birth to him. Philip Roo and William Emmesone ('Emma's son'), both about sixty, recalled Katherine's baptism because they saw her carried back from the church "to the manor of Berscote with singing and a great concourse of people praising God for her birth."

So there we have it, people rejoicing over the birth of a girl in 1341! Brilliant.


Undine said...

Thanks for sharing more of these! I just love them.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Undine! They're fab, aren't they? I particularly love the first one with Sir Ralph Basset, but poor Richard Reve! :o :D

sami parkkonen said...

Fantastic stuff! And dare I say some of these are bordering comedy.

"At the proof of age in 1355, Robert Botiller, then aged about fifty, remembered John of Aylesbury's year of birth because his (Robert's) uncle Robert Jacob "was digging in the quarry of Weldon and the earth fell on him, whereby he was overwhelmed."

Obviously this is very tragic but it still sounds like something from a sketch of Monty Python, sorry if I'm being rude here but it does. I can see Eric Idle saying this to Michael Palin with a straight face. Or perhaps I am just tired right now. Maybe so...