Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Murderous duel of Cavendish servants

About the year 1570, Henry Cavendish (1550-1616), the eldest son of Bess of Hardwick (1527-1608), wrote to his mother and stepfather George Talbot (1528-90) concerning an incident which had occurred between two members of his household. 
Henry Cavendish had married in 1568 to Grace Talbot (b.1560), the daughter of his stepfather George Talbot, and as the heir to his father William Cavendish who died when Henry was only seven years old, at this time Henry had his own household and was residing at Tutbury Castle.

The incident that took place, was a duel between two of Henry Cavendish's servants which resulted in the death of one at the hand of the other. It appears that the two servants involved had been with the family for a long time, as Henry had a strong affection for them as well as Bess herself knowing their characters well. The two servants were named Swenerton and Langeford; it was Swenerton who won the duel and killed Langeford. There was a family called Swynnerton from the town of the same name in Staffordshire, and a Langford family in Derbyshire. Therefore it would seem that they were locals to the area surrounding Tutbury Castle who went to work there.

Henry Cavendish wrote a letter to his mother Bess of Hardwick the day after the duel had happened between his servants. Bess then forwarded the letter to her husband George Talbot, with the instruction that it be returned to her. The fact that Henry waited an entire day before writing to his mother about the matter, which could have caused a scandal against the family, is surprising. As Swenerton, despite being pursued, was not yet caught and had indeed been permitted to flee in the first place, along with the blatant affection that Henry Cavendish felt for him, it is entirely possible that Henry Cavendish was perhaps trying to help Swenerton to escape the law, or at least delay it.

To my Lady.
To my lorde of some affecte
to my Lady
Maye yt please your Honor, I thought yt good to let your Ladyship vnderstande of a mysfortune that happened in my howse. On thursday at nyght last at supper ij of my men fell owt abowte some tryflynge woordes and to all theyr felloes iudgementes that harde theyr iangelynge, wear made good ffrendes agayne, and went and Laye togeether that nyghte, for they had byn bedfelloes of longe before, and loved one thother very well as every boddye tooke yt in the howse. On ffryday mornynge very early, by breake of daye they wente forthe, by name Swenerton, and Langeford with ij swordes a peece, as the sequele after showed, and in the fyeldes foughte together, and in fyghte, Swenerton shlewe Langeford, to my great greyfe booth for the sodeyne deathe of the one, and for the vtter dystructyon of the tother whom I loved very well. Good Madam let yt not trowble you in any thynge, we are mortall, and borne to many and strange adventures, and thearfore must temper owr myndes to bear shuche burthens as shall be by God layd on owr shoulders. My greattest greyffe, and so I iudge yt wyll be some trowble to your Ladyship that yt shoulde happen in my howse alas madam what coulde I dooe with yt, altogether not once suspectynge any thynge betwyxte them. I haue byn ryghte sorofull full for yt, and yt hath trowbled and vexed me, more then in reason yt should haue donne a wyese man. I would to God I could forget that theyr never had byn any shuch matter. Vpon the facte donne I sent for Master Adderley, and vsed hys counsell in all thynges. Swenerton ffledde presently, and ys pursued but not yet harde of. Thus humbly cravynge your Ladyship's dayly blessynge I end, more then sadde to trowble your Ladyship thus longe with thys sorrofull matter. Tutbury thys present Saturday.
Your Ladyship's most bounden humble and obedyent sonne:
Henry Cavendyshe.

retarne thys

my Iuwell thys saterday at nyght I resauyed thys later meche to my greffe for the myshape yett was euer lyke that swenertone shulde comete some great fayte he was a vane lewe felow. fare well my deare harth your faythefoull wyffe


Saturday, 27 December 2014

So bring us ye olde figgy pudding

We Wish You A Merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas,
We wish you a merry Christmas,
We wish you a merry Christmas,
And a happy New Year
Good tidings we bring to you and your kin.
We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Now bring us some figgy pudding,
Now bring us some figgy pudding,
Now bring us some figgy pudding,
And bring some out here.
Good tidings ...

For we all like figgy pudding,
For we all like figgy pudding,
For we all like figgy pudding,
So bring some out here.
Good tidings ...

And we won't go until we got some,
And we won't go until we got some,
And we won't go until we got some,
So bring some out here.

A 'figgy pudding' is now known simply as 'Christmas pudding'. The description of the pudding as 'figgy' refers to its appearance as being like the inside of a fig, meaning filled with dried fruit.
Recipe for 'Figgy Pudding' from Liber Cure Cocorum which was written c.1420.

For stondand fygnade.

Fyrst play þy water with hony and salt,
Grynde blanchyd almondes I wot þou schalle;
Þurghe a streynour þou shalt hom streyne,
With þe same water þat is so clene.
In sum of þe water stepe þou schalle
Whyte brede crustes to alye hit with alle;
Þenne take figgus and grynde hom wele,
Put hom in pot so have þou cele;
Þen take brede, with mylke hit streyne
Of almondes þat be white and clene;
Cast in þo fyggus þat ar igrynde
With powder of peper þat is þo kynde,
And powder of canel; in grete lordys house
With sugur or hony þou may hit dowce;
Þen take almondes cloven in twen,
Þat fryid ar with oyle, and set with wyn
Þy disshe, and florysshe hit þou myt
With powder of gynger þat is so bryt,
And serve hit forthe as I spake thenne
And set hit in sale before gode menne.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Acne through the ages

Every teenager feels like they are the first person in history to get spots and acne, and that it is the end of the world. A multitude of cosmetic companies play on the insecurities of teenagers with spots to sell hundreds of products every year which claim to eradicate spots from their lives. 
This is not a modern phenomenon. For centuries young people have experienced spots on their faces and will try any treatment available to help them.

In the 16th century not only did people have the average amount of spots, but they also had scars from smallpox and plague outbreaks. Also, the make-up that was being worn at the time contained lead powder, which was terrible for the skin and often caused it to turn grey after extended use of the make-up. Queen Elizabeth I herself wore this lead based make-up on a daily basis. 
The most popular treatment at the time for scars, wrinkles, spots and discolouration of the skin was in fact mercury. Mercury did succeed in removing any skin complaint, however this was because it chemically corroded the layers of skin and by doing so in fact caused worse scarring than it had removed. Despite it's ill effects, mercury was used in this manner for many centuries. 

In 1609 Hugh Plat wrote a book entitled 'Delightes for Ladies' which contained a number of treatments for skin complaints.

To help a face that is red or pimpled
Dissolve common salte in the juice of Lemmons, and within a linnen cloth, pat the patients face that is full of heate or pimples. It cureth in a few dreſſings. 16. To help a face that is red or pimpled. Dissolve common salt in the juice of Lemons, and within a linen cloth, pat the patient's face that is full of heat or pimples. It cures in a few dressings.

To take away spots and freckles fro- the face or hands. 
The sappe that issueth out of a Birch tree in great aboundance, being opened in March or Aprill, with a receiuer of glasse ſet vnder the boring thereof to receiue the ſame, doth perform the ſame moſt excellently & maketh the skin very cleare. This ſap will disolue pearl, a ſecret not known vnot many. 

How to take away any pimple from the face. 

Brimstone ground with the oyl of Turpentine, and applied to any pimple on houre, maketh the flesh to rise spungeous, which being annointed with the thicke oyle of butter that ariseth in the morning from new milke sodden a little ouer night, will heale and scale away in a fewe daies, leauing a faire skinne behinde. This is a good skinning salue. 

Beauty patches- made against the law

"Our ladies have lately entertained a vain custom of spotting their faces, out of an affectation of a mole, to set off their beauty, such as Venus had; and it is well if one black patch serves to make their faces remarkable, for some fill their visages full of them, varied unto all manner of shapes and figures." - Artificial Changeling, John Bulwer, 1653

A few decades later into the seventeenth century and the invention of 'beauty patches' appeared. Beauty patches were small pieces of material, usually velvet or silk, and they were cut into shapes so as to not only be placed over skin blemishes to hide them but also to look pretty. Such shapes included stars, hearts, diamonds and crescent moons. These patches were worn by both women and men, on the face and body. Soon these patches became worn for fashionable reasons rather than purely concealment of blemishes. A secret language even developed about the wearing of these patches based upon where they were positioned. If it was placed near to the mouth, this meant that the person was flirtatious. One placed on the right cheek signified that the person was married, and on the left cheek signified an engaged person. And one placed at the corner of the eye suggested that the person was someone's mistress.
The shapes and meanings attached to the patches became increasingly complex, as described in the following passage which mentions patches in shapes of a coach and horses.

"And yet the figures emblematic are,               

Which our she wantons so delight to weare. 
The Coach and Horses with the hurrying wheels, 
Show both their giddy brains and gadding heels; 
The Cross and Crosslets in one face combined, 
Demonstrate the cross humours of their mind; 
The Bra's of the bowls doth let us see, 
They'll play at rubbers, and the mistresse bo; 
The Rings do in them the black art display, 
That spirits in their circles raise and lay; 
But, oh ! the sable Starrs that you descry 
Benights their day, and speaks the darkened sky. 
The several Moons that in their faces range, 
Eclipse proud Proteus in his various change; 
The long slash and the short denote the skars, 
Their skirmishes have gaind in Cupid's wars. 
For those, that into patches clip the Crown, 
"f is time to take such pride and treason down." - On painted and spotted faces, from 'A wonder of wonders: or, A metamorphosis of fair faces voluntarily transformed into foul visages. Or, an invective against black-spotted faces', by R Smith, 1662

Street peddlers of the seventeenth century had a rhyme they sang to sell the beauty patches;
"Heer patches are of ev'ry cut for pimples and for scarrs
Heer's all the wand'ring planett signs
And some of the fixed starrs.
Already gummed to make them stick
They need no other sky
Nor starrs, for Lilly for to view to tell your fortunes by.
Come lads and lasses, what do you lack
Here's weare of all prices
Here's long and short
Here's wide and straight
Heer are things of all sizes." - Bourse of Reformation, 1658

Beauty patches pedlar

The use of beauty patches continued to be worn right up until the end of the 19th century, used by both the rich and poor.
Elizabeth, the wife of Samuel Pepys wore them, and on the 22nd November 1660 he declared her the prettier for wearing them and now she was even prettier than Princess Henrietta (daughter of King Charles I).
During the reign of Queen Anne (1702-14), the wearing of patches were used to show political allegiance; Whigs wore patches on the right cheek, and Tories wore them on the left side, and those who were politically neutral wore them on both cheeks.

The 19th century saw a change in the treatment of skin blemishes away from beauty patches and the wearing of make-up. The Victorian age brought with it a new attitude to make-up in that a natural face was more desirable and therefore the focus shifted from concealing the blemishes to curing them.
A 19th century treatment for the removal of pimples;
1oz Sulphur water
1/4oz acetated liquor of ammonia
1gr Liquor of potassa
2oz white wine vinegar
2oz distilled water
To be applied twice a day.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Spaniard and the Earl of Derby

One of the Spanish maids of honour that accompanied Princess Catharine of Aragon to England upon her marriage to Prince Arthur in 1502 was Maria de Rojas (b.1488). Maria was the daughter of Francesco, Count of Salinas. After the death of Prince Arthur, Maria remained in England with Princess Catharine, and in 1504 she was being courted by the Earl of Derby. 

Thomas Stanley

Thomas Stanley (1485-1521), at the time of the courtship, had only recently succeeded his grandfather as the Earl of Derby in November 1504, as Thomas' father had already died. 
Thomas Stanley was betrothed in 1498 to Elizabeth Wells, a granddaughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. An advantageous marriage for the future earl, however as Elizabeth Wells' mother Princess Cecily of York had died in 1498, the betrothal was cancelled as the marriage did not take place. Therefore, in 1504, Thomas Stanley was a young and wealthy nobleman - and quite without a wife. He would have a matrimonial prize among the ladies of the royal court, who would unquestioningly marry well as he had been previously betrothed to a daughter of a king.

It would appear that Catharine of Aragon approved of the match between Maria and Thomas, and wrote to her parents, the King and Queen of Spain, about giving their permission for the marriage to take place. King Henry VII of England also gave his approval for the marriage, however as Maria was a Spanish subject, he chose to leave the decision to the Spanish monarchs.
However, there was someone who was highly opposed to the marriage going ahead; Catharine of Aragon's duenna Dona Elvira Manuel. Elvira wanted Maria to marry her son Inigo Manrique. Inigo was also a member of Princess Catharine's household, as the Master of her Pages. Maria herself was a matrimonial prize, as she was the only child, and heiress, of a wealthy landowner in Spain.

The following letter was written by De Puebla, the Spanish ambassador at the English royal court, to the King and Queen of Spain.

Her Highness the Princess is writing at the present time to your Highnesses ; and, according to what she has told me, it is about a marriage of Doña Maria de Rojas, respecting which I desire to make known to your Highnesses what has taken place. Some few days ago the King's step-father, who was Constable of the Realm and Earl of Derby, died. He left as his heir, a grandson, the son of his eldest son, who is 22 years of age. But, in addition to what he has by right of succession from his father, he inherits from his mother, so that he is, at present, the best match in the kingdom. I have told Doña Rojas she must not venture to conclude such a match without the permission of your Highnesses, telling her what I had done in a similar case. At the same time I have not neglected to learn the wishes of the King of England ; and I find that it is quite certain he desires this marriage more for Doña Maria De Rojas than for any other lady in his kingdom. Notwithstanding, the King does not wish to conclude the matter, excepting with the consent of the family, who make some little difficulties. But even supposing that they might, in the end, consent, I would not meddle in the matter without being first directed by your Highnesses. I entreat your Highnesses, therefore, to inform me what you think will be most for your interests, and if you should decide that I am to conclude this business, it will be necessary to know what will be given with her for a marriage portion, since the property which Doña Maria has in Spain is in the hands of your Highnesses. For, if the future husband of Doña de Rojas should not be able to obtain her property in Spain, this, or any other marriage, would be impossible, even with a man possessed of much less money. 5 Dec 1504

It can be presumed that the response from the Spanish monarchs was not one of approval as Maria returned to Spain not long after this letter was sent. She was replaced in her position in Catharine's household by Maria de Salinas. Once back in Spain, Maria was married to Don Alvero de Mendoza y Guzman. The couple had four children together; Luis, Alvero, Ines and Francisca. 
It was not long after that Thomas Stanley married, on the 17th December 1505, to Anne Hastings. Thomas and Anne had three children together; Edward, Margaret and John.

Due to Maria's close relationship with Catharine of Aragon during the period of her first marriage to Prince Arthur of England and the few years after, Maria was sought out in Spain for her testimony concerning the divorce of Queen Catharine and King Henry VIII. Maria was questioned via written correspondence from the English royal court to the Lord Mayor of Madrid, near to where Maria was living with her husband and children.

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.