Friday, 7 August 2015

Thomas Cromwell's Catholic daughter

Image result for thomas cromwell painting
Thomas Cromwell

Jane Cromwell was the illegitimate daughter of King Henry VIII's right hand man Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540). Jane was born 1520/5 and died 3rd November 1580. She married William Hough (1525-85) of Leighton in Cheshire between 1535 and 1540.
Jane and William had only one child together;
+ Alice Hough m. William Whitmore (d.1620)

William Hough was the son of Richard Hough (1505-74) and his wife Christian Calverley, daughter of Sir George Calverley.
Richard Hough was a servant in the house of Thomas Cromwell during the years 1534-40.
In 1536 Richard appeared as one of the Lord Privy Seal's men, and was described as a 'sage and sober person'. In January 1538 Richard reminded Cromwell of a promise he had made to make Richard a Rider of Delamere Forest in Cheshire. In 1540 Richard carried messages and letters from Cromwell to the council in Ireland.
In the spring of 1544 Richard Hough was accused of murder by a man named John Massey. Hough and Massey were both at this time petty captains of companies raised for the Scottish War. Massey alleged that whilst leaving Chester one afternoon, he and his servants had been attacked by Hough and others. Randolph Davenport who was one of Massey's servants was killed and Massey and his other servants were injured and left for dead. At the inquest on the matter, the coroner worked to 'obtain lightly the pardon of the said Hough and to save his lands, which be yearly 20 marks in lands and above', which he managed to do with the aid of the Sheriff and 'by the maintenance of divers gentlemen, being near kinsmen to the said Hough, who caused their own tenants and servants to be put upon the said inquest'.
In 1558 Richard Hough was a senior Knight of the Shire for Cheshire and this post suggests that the Massey scandal had been forgiven and forgotten.
Richard died in 1574 and at that time his lands were worth £50 a year, which included a number of monastic properties.

The Hough family were known Catholics. Richard Hough however supported the Religious Settlement which Queen Elizabeth I created upon her accession to the throne. The Bishop of Chester credited him for this move in 1564 and Richard was appointed to the Cheshire Bench.
Richard's son William responded differently than his father to the Religious Settlement. William refused to compromise his beliefs and maintained his Catholic faith, making him a recusant. This difference caused a rift between father and son, and in his Will Richard included a clause which read that if William did not follow his father's wishes relating to religion then he would lose his inheritance.

In direct opposition to her father, Jane Cromwell was much like her husband William in her religious beliefs and both were listed as recusants from 1576 onwards. In 1576 she was first listed as an 'ostinate recusant' on the Diocesan list, and later in 1578 was listed as an absentee and non-communicant at the Metropolitan Visitation at which time she was excommunicated for non-appearance, but later this was rescinded.
In 1581 William was imprisoned by the High Commission, and later indicted at the October Quarter Sessions for absence. He was given a fine of £120 and was returned to Chester Castle Prison. In December he was transferred to New Fleet in Salford, where he joined a group of recusants and remained there until his death in February 1585. The news of his death did not reach the government for a long time. In autumn 1585 he was assessed as a recusant and in June 1586 he owed £600 in recusancy fines.

Jane and William's daughter Alice and her husband William and their children were also known recusants. From 1581 onwards Alice was frequently listed as a non-communicant and recusant. She was fined £960 in April 1593, a further £240 in September 1600. Her husband William Whitmore, however, was listed as a non-communicant, not a recusant, and was loyal to crown. Alice and William had at least four children; William, Christina, Eleanor and Jane. The three daughters were listed as absentees for the 1598 Diocesan Visitation and were fined £240 each in 1600 for their absences. Christina and Eleanor were listed again in 1601 and 1605.

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