Sunday, 28 September 2014

Agnes ap Rhys, the rebel's daughter

Agnes Rice (ap Rhys) (1522-74) was the daughter of Catherine Howard (1508-54) and Rhys ap Gruffydd (1508-31), a Welsh landowner who was executed for treason as it was believed he was plotting with the Scottish king against King Henry VIII. Due to her father's death, and the confiscation of his estates by the crown, Agnes was sent to live in the household of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. As Agnes' mother, Catherine, had been the daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk.

In the 1540's Agnes became the mistress of William Stourton, Baron Stourton.

William Stourton, Baron Stourton (1505-48) and his wife Elizabeth Dudley (1488-1560), had nine children together;
+ Charles Stourton (1521-57) m. Anne Stanley
+ Ursula Stourton (1518-51) m. Edward Clinton
+ Arthur Stourton (1524-58) m. Anne McWilliams
+ William Stourton (1526-81) m1. Thomasine FitzJames m2. Mary Wogan
+ Andrew Stourton
+ Dorothy Stourton m. Richard Brent
+ John Stourton (1531-81)
+ George Stourton (b.1527)
+ Giles Stourton (b.1529) m. Joan Gifford

William Stourton left his wife and children, and moved Agnes in with him where she lived as his wife. Agnes later claimed in 1553 that they had indeed been married in 1547 in the chapel at Stourton House, however William's wife Elizabeth was still living at this time.

Agnes and William had a daughter together; Mary Stourton (1547-1620), who married Richard Gore (1543-83) on the 13th July 1565. At the time of her marriage Mary was given the manor of Aldrington and half of the manor of Yetton Keynel. They sold their share of Yetton Keynel Manor in 1577.
Mary and Richard had six children together;
+ Edward (1565-1622) m. Elizabeth Jennings (d.1627)
+ Mary (b.1570)
+ Susannah (b.1582) m. Robert Edwards
+ Agnes
+ Elizabeth
+ Walter

Upon William's death in 1548, his Will left nearly everything he owned to Agnes, and with the exception of his heir, his eldest son Charles, his wife and children were left nothing. Agnes took all jewels and money and moved back to Stourton House, refusing to be evicted by Charles; she had the servants take up arms in defense of the estate and locked all gates. Charles was not able to evict her from the property until 1550, and even then he was not able to regain the jewels and money she had taken. Charles attempted to act against the wishes of his father's Will, and Agnes sued him through the courts. The settlement of the estate of William Stourton was not settled until 1557, after the death of Charles.

After William Stourton's death, Agnes married, or remarried if her claims of being married to Stourton are to be believed, to Edward Bayntun (1517-93). The couple had thirteen children together, including;
+ William (d.1564)
+ Henry (1571-1616)
+ Anne (d.1587)
+ Margaret
+ Elizabeth
+ Catherine (d.1582)

The couple lived at The Ivy, a large house at the Manor of Rowden in Chippenham which Edward had inherited from his father. Agnes and Edward continued to live there until 1564 when Edward's elder brother died and he inherited the entirety of the Manor of Rowden, and so moved their family into Bromham House. Edward was highly involved with local government, being MP for several areas - Wiltshire County, Devizes, Caine and Chippenham Borough - as well as High Sheriff of Wiltshire (1570) and Justice of the Peace. Edward was knighted in 1574.

The Ivy

In 1564 the eldest son of Agnes and Edward, William, died as an infant. The sudden nature of his death led to the accusation that witchcraft had been behind his demise. Dorothy Mantell, the wife of Edward's younger brother Henry Bayntun was accused of employing Agnes Mills to bewitch the child, hoping to kill him. Dorothy's motives were that if William died, then her husband Henry would become Edward's heir and inherit the family estate. A witness to the crime was one Jane Marshe, who gave evidence against Dorothy. However she then changed her testimony and said that Edward and Agnes had bribed her into incriminating Dorothy. Agnes Mills was hanged for witchcraft, but Dorothy went unpunished for her part.

Agnes Bayntun died on the 19th August 1574, and was buried in St Nicholas Church in Bromham, where she was later joined by her husband Edward. At the time of her death, only five of her children by Edward were still alive, as well as her elder daughter Mary Stourton. Edward married for a second time to Anne Packington, with whom he had one son, before himself dying in 1593.

Brass on Bayntun tomb, St Nicholas; Edward, son Henry, Agnes, daughter Anne, missing brass of daughter Elizabeth, and second wife Anne.

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