Monday, 23 June 2014

A lion of a gift

King Henry VII and his wife Queen Elizabeth shared a loving and affectionate marriage, during which he allowed her many freedoms and gave her numerous gifts.

In January 1592 Henry VII gave to his wife a gift of a lion, possibly as a New Years gift. The lion cost the king £2 13s 4d, which in today's money is around £1300. 
The date can be assured as the king paid on January 16th 1592; 53s 4d to "one that brought the king a lion in reward". (20 shillings in 1 pound)
It can be guessed that the lion was taken to live in the royal menagerie in the Tower of London.

Barary Lion - Illustration by Joseph Bassett Holder

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Howard baby's Royal godparents

Alethea Talbot (1585-1654) was the granddaughter of Bess of Hardwick through her daughter Mary Cavendish (1556-1632). In 1605 she was married to Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (1585-1646).

Thomas Howard

Alethea Howard, 1620

In 1607 the couple had the first of their four children, which they named James, presumably after the present king, James I. The king was to be the baby's godfather.
On the 27th of June, Thomas Howard wrote to Bess of Hardwick concerning the role of godmother to the new baby. Initially, Bess had been asked by the couple to fill the role, however Queen Anne was now requesting to be the baby's godmother. This was a unique situation for the couple as both the king and queen were to be godparents to the same child.

Letter from Arundell to Bess, 1607

Madam, as soone as euer God, out of his greate goodnes,
had blessed us with a sonne; wee all resolved, to haue bin
sutors unto your Ladyship, that you would vouchsafe, to haue
bin his godmother; but it hath pleased the Queenes majestie
(oute of her especiall fauor) to interpose her selfe; farre 
contrary to oure expectacion, (seeing it hath neuer till
this time beene seene or knowne that the kinges majesti and 
the Queene haue christened any childe together;) which
must at this time, stay the proceedinge in oure firste
desire, unlesse, eyther the unusualnes, in like cases, or some
other accidente, may diuert the Queene from her in-
tente, which, if it doe happne, then, wee will advertise
your Ladyship: thereof by poaste, and will earnestly goe
forward in oure humble suite. In the meane time, my 
wife & my selfe, beseech your Ladyship that you will make us
both, with your little one, happy, by the continuance of your
Ladyships good wishes, and daily blessinge; and cease not our
continuall prayers to God, for your Ladyships longe health
and happiness and soe I rest
Your Ladyships lovinge & dutifull son to comande
Arundell house this 27th of June

Friday, 13 June 2014

Elizabeth's marchpanes

Marchpane is an old name for marzipan; a dessert item which is made from sugar and almonds. Queen Elizabeth I was known for having a sweet tooth and therefore a beautifully crafted and decorated marchpane piece would have been an ideal gift for the queen. The detail and creativity of a marchpane, as well as the high costs of making one due to the amount of sugar which is needed, meant that it was usually only enjoyed by wealthy nobles as well as at the royal court.  

Picture of Hannah Woolley Recipe Book
Cookbook by Hannah Woolley, 1672

Gifts of marchpane given to Queen Elizabeth I at New Years celebrations;

By George Webster, Master Cook, a marchpanne, being a chess boarde.
By Richarde Hickes, Yeomen of the Chamber, a very faire marchepane made like a tower, with men and sundry artillery in it.
By John Revell, Surveiour of the Workes, a marchpane, with the modell of Powle's churches and steeples in past.

By John Smithson, a feyer marchpan. 


By John Smythesone, alias Taylor, Master Cooke, a fayre march pane with a cattell in myddes.


By John Smithson, Master Cooke, one faire marchpayne, with St. George in the middest.

John Smythson, Master Cook, 1568
John Smythson (1523-90) had become Master Cook to Elizabeth I by 1562 and later Chief Master Cook by 1575, whilst his wife Elizabeth was the queen's Laundress. John's mother Elizabeth Smythe had been Laundress to King Edward VI. Given the fact that John is recorded with two surnames, this indicates that he could have been illegitimate, and that his mother's surname was Smythe and it was only after her death that he named himself Smythson, means that his father's name was Taylor and he was not married to John's mother. The adoption of the surname Smythson in 1562 was perhaps a means to show his love for his mother and to honour her memory, but also to strengthen the link between them legally so that he would be able to inherit the property she was in control of. 
In 1562 John leased directly from Queen Elizabeth significant property in Westminster, which had previously been leased to his mother for life, who had died that year. The lease was to be for twenty-one years and included Vyne Garden, which contained a vineyard, as well as a meadow and close called Kechenors and Bergeons, Ostrey Garden and a close called Mylbancke which was situation within the grounds of St Peter's Abbey in Westminster
In 1572 John Smythson received a grant of arms; an indication of his ascension at court, which meant that he was held in high regard by the queen and therefore was able to obtain a number of properties and lands, which he could then pass on to his daughter. 
John Smythson continued to acquire property throughout his life; in 1573 he purchased ten acres of wood in Kidbrook in Kent, the lease of the church and it's lands of Worlaby in Lincolnshire, and the manor of Hide in Herefordshire along with lands in Hidehill, Aldon and Wintercote. In 1575 he acquired four acres of land in Eltham and Bexley. In 1582 John bought one third of a cottage and land in Eltham. 
John and Elizabeth Smythson had a daughter Elizabeth, who married Hugh Miller and had a son called Smythson and a daughter called Susan. A witness to John's Will in 1588 was Ambrosio Lupo, a prominent court musician - for more on this individual see my blog post on the Lupo musicians. John Smythson was buried in Eltham parish church in July 1590, where his wife joined him three years later. 

Master Cooks

King Henry VIII - John Brickett, who was pensioned off after King Henry's death in 1547 after serving
                           him for many years
King Edward VI - Richard Curry, who had been Edward's cook when he was a child, served until his                                          death.
                           George Webster, employed in Edward's kitchens after the death of his previous 
                           employer the Duke of Richmond in 1536.
Queen Mary I - Thomas Burrage, who had served King Henry since the 1530's and had been in 
                          Mary's service from 1547.
Queen Elizabeth I - Francis Piggott was given the position of Master Cook upon her accession; his 
                              father had been a yeoman cook to Princess Mary in the 1520's and by 1534 was 
                              her Master Cook.
                              John Smythson.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

England's monarchs, Madras Courier 1791

The study of our history is ongoing and is continuously developing and expanding with each new discovery and interpretation. It is always fascinating to find evidence of people's interest in history throughout the centuries, in this particular case it is in a non-academic source. From this particular text we can see which fact about each monarch was the most important to their rule according to contemporaries, and therefore chosen to be included in the poem.

This poem is taken from the Poet's Corner in the Madras Courier, dated the 8th December 1791 (Volume 7, Issue 322).


ENGLAND by Prior.

ENGLAND, the conqueror, in First William owns

Rufus and Henry are the victors sons;

His daughter Alice, weds the Earl of Blois,

Stephen their offspring was the peoples choice.

Maud, Henrys daughter, who was Empress first;

Then Anjou from this later issue nurst,

The Second Henry, to whom Stephen left,

The Crown, of which he was alas! bereft.

Henry did Ellen Guiennes heiress wed;

Richard and John were children of their bad:

From John sprung Henry, of that name the Third,

Who felt the cruel wars his Barons stir'd,

Long time he reign'd first Edward he begot

Who join'd the Welshman and subdued the Scott

From Edwards Loins a second Edward rose,

Him fav'rites spoil'd, him parliaments depose,

And raise his son, third Edward, to the throne,

For France's wars and Englands parter known;

He against Valois sought as Isbells heir,

The daughter, she, of Philips, call'd the fair;

His Grand-Sires Crown the second Richard wore,

Hard sate, the warlike Father went before,

For the unhappy King the crown must grant,

To Henry, fourth, bold son of John of Gaunt,

Fourth son of Edward third; tho' Edmund's claim

Was best, from Lionel third son he came,

Lancasters race, in Henry thus begun,

He leaves his question'd title to his son,

Fifth Henry is his name; his arms advance,

The English standard over trembling Frances;

Whose King, sixth Charles, hequeath'd to Henry's power,

His daughter Katherine, and his realm her dower,

Henry the sixth does from his marriage spring,

How good a Saint, and yet how poor a King!

He lost the realm his mighty Father seiz'd,

Crown'd and uncrown'd as fate and Warwick pleas'd.

On England's Throne fourth Edward next does shine,

Sir-nam'd Plantagenet, of Yorkshire Line,

Nearer than Lancaster by one degree:

He sprung from Richard; from Philippa he,

From Lionel, third Edward weak and young,

Over his head the Honor only hung;

Spoil'd of his Crown he in his Prison bleeds,

Third Richard, cruel Uncle, next succeeds;

But Fate is just, and he in, Bosworth fields,

To Henry Seventh both Life and Scepter yields.

This mighty Prince of the Lancastrian race,

Does thus from Edward Third his Lineage trace,

Edward had Gaunt John, of Sommerset;

John did another of that Name beget:

He Margaret had, who gave our Henry Birth,

His Father's race descends from wallish Earth;

For Owen Tudor did in secret Wed,

French Kathrine, Widow of Fifth Henry's bed,

From whence sprung Edward, who was Henry's Sire

Both Coats did therefore to his Right conspire,

And great Elizabeth receiv'd his vows,

Fourth Edward's Daughter, last of York's great House,

Thus Henry ended Britain's civil strife,

By Father, Mother, Conquest, Choice and Wife,

Eighth Henry stream'd from this united Flood,

His passions boundless, but his judgment good:

None but a Couyaye, heat as his cou'd break,

The Romish yoke, from [ILL]ghing Britain's Neck,

Amongst his Six, Jane Seymour, his third Wife,

In Child—bed Dy'd to give Sixth Edward Life;

Happy had Fate his thread but longer spun,

To Crown the Work his Father had begun;

But Katherine, whom King Henry first did wed,

The relict of his Brother Arthur's Bed,

Bad Mary, Philip's Wife, who did retain,

The zealous fury of her Mother Spain,

Elizabeth whom Anne of Boullen bore

To Henry, did the ancient Church restore;

She Dy'd Maid! - the Line of Tudor ends,

And Englands Crown to James of Scots descends;

From the Seventh Henry's Eldest Daughter He,

Margaret her Name) derives his pedigree,

And thus in line direct, his right is fix'd

Margarett Fifth James, Maria, James the Sixth.

From James the First, Charles rose, unhappy King!

Whom cruel Subjects to the Scaffold bring;

Mysterious Heavn' his Exil'd Son restor'd,

And Britain own'd the Second Charles her Lord.

Charles has no offspring by the Legal Bed;

The Line Colateral did in James succeed:

Mary and Anne were His, his Sister's Son

Great Orange, was for Arms and Justice known:

Blest in his Match, for Mary was his Bride

Thus to to the Crown by blood and love Alli'd.

James breaks the Laws, presents a doubtful Son,

Misles his strange designs, and leaves the Throne.

William and Mary fill the Vacant place,

The Rule design'd to their united Race,

But Mary dies, so William reign alone;

And Anne, with Glory, wears the British Crown.