Thursday, 22 January 2015

Samuel Pepys' illegitimate niece

Samuel Pepys' younger brother Thomas Pepys (1634-64) was a tailor like their father, he also had a speech impediment which made him awkward socially. This may have contributed to the fact that Thomas remained unmarried at the time of his early death. However, Thomas did have an illegitimate daughter.

Samuel Pepys

Thomas Pepys had gotten his maid Margaret, "an ugly jade" as Samuel Pepys describes in his diary, pregnant. Margaret in fact gave birth in the parish of St Sepulchre to twin girls named Elizabeth and Anne, however Anne died shortly after being born. The twins were given the surname of Taylor and their father was recorded as a John Taylor - probably using Thomas' trade as an alias for himself.
Elizabeth Taylor was placed in the household of a Mr Cave to be cared for.

Thomas Pepys died on the 15th March 1664 and his brother Samuel Pepys was informed of the existence of his niece on the 6th April 1664 by an old servant of his fathers called John Noble.

The child, Elizabeth Taylor, must have been born around August 1663 as it was told that Thomas had gotten Margaret pregnant on 'November 5th', and therefore the business of her care seems to have been an ongoing issue for some time. Thomas Pepys had firstly trusted a man called Mr Crawly with helping him with the matter, and who would take money from Thomas for the child. However, Thomas discovered that Mr Crawly had been taking the money for himself rather than for the child, and was requesting more and more money from him. Thomas found himself backed into a corner, as he was not well off financially, and therefore turned to John Noble for help.
With John Noble's help, Thomas' first idea was to go to "the other side of the water" and pay a poor woman who would be willing to take the child in. They did go but did not go through with this plan as John Noble pointed out that if the child's mother Margaret did in the future want to see her child, if they could not produce the child to show her, Thomas could be accused of murder.
A poor pensioner from the parish of St Bride's named Mr Cave was found to be willing to take the child into his care, for the price of 5l and he was to keep the child without future demand for money. However, as the parish was already a poor one and Mr Cave had brought another child into it, that wasn't his own, he was sent "to the Counter", meaning prison, for adding more financial burden upon the parish. Mr Cave then wrote to Thomas Pepys from prison, begging him to help him get released. It seems that Thomas did indeed help Cave as he was released from prison soon after. Once released, he asked Thomas for 5l more for the keeping of his daughter Elizabeth, which he gave to him. Thomas entered into a bond with Cave of 100l to secure 'John Taylor' from 'all trouble, or charge of meat, drink, clothes, and breeding of Elizabeth Taylor'. It was Noble who gave Thomas the money to pay the bond, and will also pay him a futher 20s.

After the death of Thomas, Mr Cave then tried to get money for the child from Thomas' parents, with Samuel himself then becoming involved. Samuel did not want his parents to have to pay for the child, and used the ambiguity of their parentage to his advantage. There was only a very small number of people who could prove that Thomas had been the father.
It appears that John Noble later chose to support Mr Cave's claim rather than that of Samuel Pepys concerning payments towards the child, and that if the matter was brought to court, he would bear witness for Mr Cave. As there were witnesses who could attest to the fact that Thomas Pepys had admitted to them that the twins were his; a Mr Randall, who was a carpenter, and his wife, as well as the midwife who attended Margaret had all heard from Thomas himself that the children were his and he had told them the circumstances of the conception.

Samuel Pepys was angry about the whole situation and refused to pay any of his own money for the child. Samuel used the fact that the child had been christened with the surname 'Taylor' to argue that there was no real proof that the child was his brother's and therefore the Pepys family were under no financial obligation to the child. Samuel and his father were both 'vexed to think what a rogue my brother was in all respects'. Samuel had no concern for the child that was his niece and saw the situation as just another problem caused by his brother. Thomas Pepys had also left at his death a number of debts, which Samuel had to deal with.

There is no further mention of Elizabeth Taylor or what happened to her after the 25th August 1664. It can be surmised that neither Samuel nor his parents paid any money towards the child's upbringing.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Bounteous Buckingham

The festive period of 1507 was a time of great extravagance - and food - for the household of Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham (1478-1521). Edward Stafford was the nephew of Queen Elizabeth of York through her younger sister Katherine, and was therefore a first cousin of King Henry VIII.

The Christmas period of 1507 was celebrated by the Stafford family at their manor of Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire. Christmas Day saw the Duke host 299 people for dinner, and even more astoundingly hosted 459 people on Epiphany Day on the 6th January 1508. For this extravagant feasting and hospitality shown by the Duke, he was named 'Bounteous Buckingham'.

Edward Stafford 3rd Duke of Buckingham 1520.jpg
Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham
Christmas Day 1507 saw the Duke entertain 182 strangers, with 176 in attendance for supper in the evening - this number is in addition to the Duke's family and household members.
In attendance;
95 Gentry, 107 Yeoman, 97 Grooms attended Dinner
84 Gentry, 114 Yeoman, 92 Grooms attended Supper 

Food eaten: 4 swans, 4 geese, 5 suckling pigs, 1 carcass and seven rounds of beef, 9 carcasses of mutton, 4 pigs, 1 1/2 calves, 14 capons, 18 chickens, 21 rabbits, 1 peacock, 3 mallards, 5 widgeons, 12 teals, 3 woodcocks, 22 syntes, 12 large birds, 400 hens eggs, 2 dishes of butter, 10 flagons of milk, 1 flagon of rum, 2 flagons of frumety, and herbs. 

Drink consumed: 11 bottles and 3 quarts of Gascony wine, 1½ pitchers of Rhenish wine, ½ pitcher Malvoisey and 171 flagons and 1 quart of ale.

Thornbury Castle
On the 6th of January the Feast of the Epiphany was celebrated with the grand total of 459 people present. The majority of those in attendance being strangers whom the Duke had opened his home to; 319 at dinner and 279 at supper. Due to the huge number of people attending the feasts, the Duke of Buckingham brought in two extra cooks from Bristol to cope with the demand.
In attendance; 
134 Gentry, 188 Yeomen, 197 Grooms attended Dinner
126 Gentry, 176 Yeomen, 98 Grooms attended Supper

The guest list: The Duke's sister Lady Anne with fifteen attendants, Robert Poyntz with nine, Edmund Gorges with seven, John Rodney and six, Maurice Berkeley and nine, Richard Berkeley and five, James Berkeley and three, Thomas Welsh and three, Richard Frye (duke's cousin) and three, William Kingston and three, Doctor Thower and four, two Auditors and five, Robert Peverell and two, Humphrey Blount and two, John Burrell and two, Edward Garth and two. Bailiff of Hatfield Broadoak, and two. Bailiff of Oakham, and two. The Bailiff of Navisby, the Bailiff of Rowell, two of the Duke's tenants of Penshurst, one of Blechingley, Hugh Boughey and two, William Kemys, Thomas Morgan and three, William Morgan, the Receiver of Newport and two, two men in service to the Lord of Newport, twelve in service to the Lord of Brecon with ten attendants, chaplain John Barton, eighteen singers and nine chapel boys, the Receiver of Surrey and Kent and three, three tenants of the Lord of Brecon, the vicar of Christchurch and two, Henry Dunstan, the Abbot of Kingswood and four, a hermit, a bondman, a joiner, a brickmaker, and embroiderer with two assistants, a goldsmith from Bristol and two hardwaremen, as well as 42 people from the town and 95 from the country.

Food eaten on Epiphany; 678 loaves of bread, 2 manchets*, 36 rounds of beef, 12 sheep, 2 calves, 4 pigs, 1 dried ling, 2 salt cod, 2 hard fish, 1 salt sturgeon, 3 swans, 6 geese, 6 suckling pigs, 10 capons, 1 lamb, 2 peacocks, 2 herons, 22 rabbits, 18 chickens, 9 mallards, 23 widgeons, 18 teals, 16 woodcocks, 20 snipes, 9 dozen large birds, 6 dozen small birds, 3 dozen larks, 9 quail, 1/2 fresh salmon, 1 fresh cod, 4 dogfish, 2 tench, 7 small beams, 1/2 fresh conger, 21 small roaches, 6 large fresh eels, 10 small whitings, 18 flounders, 100 lampreys, 3 plaice, 400 eggs, 24 dishes of butter, 15 flagons of milk, 3 flagons of cream, 2 gallons of frumenty and 200 oysters.

Drink consumed; 8 gallons and 6 pitchers of wine, 259 flagons and 3 quarts of ale, 33 pottles** and 1 pitcher and 1 quart of Gascony wine, four pitchers and a half of Malvoisey wine, 7 pitchers of Rhenish wine, 1 pitcher of Ossey wine.

Also used was; 8 prickets***, 20 quarriers, 9 sises, 46/5 of candle, 10 loads of fuel, 12 quarters of charcoal, hay and litter for 49 of the Duke's horses as well as 62 horses of the Duke's attendants.

The entertainment which was enjoyed during these great feasts included the Duke's own household members such as minstrels, an idiot and a bear. Also, he made payments for two minstrels, six trumpeters, four waits from Bristol and four players sent by the Duke's brother-in-law the Earl of Northumberland from Writhill. It is also likely there were harpists and wrestlers present.

*A manchet is a loaf of the finest white bread, weighing 6oz

**Pottles were a quantity of two quarts

***Prickets were spikes used to hold candles