Wednesday, 3 December 2014

More neede of a good mistress than a new fashioned gowne

Alice Scudamore (1569-80) was the youngest daughter of John Scudamore (1542-1623) and his first wife Eleanor Croft. Alice's mother Eleanor died giving birth to her and her father did not remarry until 1574. When her father did remarry to Mary Shelton (1550-1603), it was kept a secret from all so that the queen did not find out and punish the couple. Mary Shelton could not have played a large role in her step-children's lives as she lived at court, in constant attendance upon the queen, whilst the children lived away from court. Therefore young Alice was left without a mother figure in her life, as well as her father being away firstly studying law and then later living at court. This lack of adult supervision in her life appears to have resulted in her being badly behaved, which was noticed by her family members.

One Christmas during her childhood, her father John's younger brother George Scudamore (1552-1633) came to stay with the family at their home of Holme Lacy in Hertfordshire. After this stay George wrote to John and complained of Alice's behaviour.

Januarie the 13
Sir: I was so carried awaie with Christmas though[t]s that I altogeather forgote to
speake of what I intended towchinge my cosine Eles [Alice]. Your daughter, who
have more neede of a good mistress than a new fashioned gowne. I knowe wher she
nowe leaveth, that her rome is better well come than her companie, for she never
inquereth when hit is daie before tenne of the clocke, that she maybe reddie for
dinner by xi [11 o’clock].This can not prove well; Mrs. Pie or my Lady Aubrie
(gentlewoman of great sobrietie fit to tame so unrulie a young gentelwoman as she is
if report may be beleaved) are to be inquered and that speadelie. So wishinge that some spedie course may be taken for reformacion and that homlacie (thoughe to your
trouble) may holde her for a time. I end and bid you fare well restinge yours to
command: George Scudamore. 

Alice Scudamore died in November 1580 in Hertfordshire, at the age of just eleven years old.

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