Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

titled to a seat amongst the barons of the realm', though he appears never to have received a writ of summons. On the death of her brother John (who at her father's decease in 1412 was but two years of age), she succeeded, 5 as his heiress, to the family estates. She married, in the first instance, Sir Oliver St John knight of Lydiard Tregoze, and from their issue have descended the barons St John of Bletsoe and the earls and viscounts Bolingbroke. After the death of Sir Oliver St John, which 10 occurred in 1438, she married the duke of Somerset, and the illustrious subject of this memoir was the only issue of this latter marriage.

The duke of Somerset died on the 27th May, 1444, being then about forty years of age. He left considerable 15 estates, situate in the counties of Lincoln, Worcester, Kent, Southampton, Middlesex, Norfolk, Essex, Somerset, Lancaster, Westmoreland, York, Gloucester, Sussex and Stafford. Of these a portion had been held by him as tenant in tail male and descended with the earldom of Somerset 20 to his brother Edmund (subsequently created duke of Somerset'): other portions were allotted to the duchess for her dower, and the remainder descended to his infant daughter.

[blocks in formation]

3 Dugdale's Baronage 11 398. Nicolas's Synopsis of the Peerage 1 51. 4 MS. Cole XLIV 353.

5 Dugdale's Baronage II 123. Collect. Topog. et Geneal. I 278. There is reason to believe that the duke of Somerset died by his own hand in consequence of his having incurred the royal displeasure. See Hist.Croylandensis Continuatio 519. Sharon Turner, Hist. of England, II 446.

6 Calend. Inquis. post mortem Iv 218, 225.

7 Reports on the dignity of a Peer, vol. v p. 258.

8 Hutchins's Dorsetshire 1 277. III 6. Miss Halsted (Life of Margaret Beaufort 17) is in error in stating that in all besides the title the subject of this memoir was the

At this period the custody of the lands of minors was an important part of the king's prerogative, and would have formed a profitable branch of the royal revenue, had not wardships been so frequently conferred on needy suitors or powerful favorites1. If the following warrant 5 were (as there seems little reason to doubt) issued in 1444, four days were not suffered to elapse from the time of her father's death, before the person and property of Margaret Beaufort, with the right of disposing of her in marriage, were committed to William de la Pole, then earl but IO afterwards duke of Suffolk, the then powerful but subsequently unfortunate favorite of Henry the Sixth.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"By the King.

"Right Reverend fader in God Right trusty and Right "wel beloved we grete you wel. And for asmoche as oure 15 "Cousin the Duc of Somerset is nowe late passed to Goddes mercy, the whiche hath a doughter and heir to succede "after hym of ful tender age called Margarete, We con"sidering the notable services that oure Cousin therl "of Suffolk hath doon unto us and tendering hym therfore 20. "the more specially as reson wol, haue of oure grace and especialle propre mocion and mere deliberacion graunted unto hym to have the warde and mariage of the said Margarete withouten eny thing therfore unto us or oure "heires yelding, Wherfore we wol and charge you that 25. "unto oure said Cousin of Suffolk ye do make upon this "oure grant our lettres patentes souffisant in lawe and in "deue forme, And that ye faille not hereof, As we specially trust you and as ye desire to do unto us "singuleir plesir, And that ye sende unto us oure said 30 "lettres patentes seeled by the berer of thees, Lating you wite that ye shal hereafter at such tyme as ye come unto

sole heiress to her parents' vast possessions.

1 In 1455 the commons in parliament presented a petition to the king, complaining that the grants of wards and marriages diminished the royal revenue, and praying that all such grants, made since Michaelmas in the 27th year of the king

(with a few specified exceptions),
should be annulled. The royal
answer to this petition was in the 35
following decisive terms: "It is
thought to the Kyng, and to all
the Lordes, that this Bille is un-
resonable, and therfore the Kyng
woll that it be leyd aparte." Rot. 40
Parl. v 330.

5

our presence have suche warrant for youre discharge in "this behalve, As shal be souffisant unto you and as the "cas requireth. yeven under oure signet at oure Castel "of Berkhampstede the laste day of May.

"To the Right Reverend fader in God "oure Right trusty and Right welbe"loved tharchebisshop of Caunterbury "oure Chancellour of Englande1."

Her education was no doubt of a very superior charac10 ter for an age in which writing was deemed an extraordinary acquirement in a female; she understood French, as appears by her translations from that language, which will be hereafter adverted to, but her acquaintance with Latin seems to have been limited, for Bishop Fisher tells 15 us, "Full often she complayned that in her youthe she ‘had not given her to the understanding of Latin, wherein "she had a lytell perceyving, specyally of the Rubryshe of "the Ordynall for the saying of her Servyce, which she did "well understand?" Of her skill in needlework a speci20 men remained at Bletsoe as late as the time of James I, and that monarch constantly called for it when passing through that place on his progresses. She possessed

[ocr errors]

1 Excerpta Historica 3, 4, where the (apparently premature) date of 25 1443 is assigned to this document

(see Hall's Chronicle, Henry VI lxviiia). It may be remarked as singular that in a work of such general accuracy as the Excerpta 30 Historica the earl of Suffolk's

Christian name is in two instances (pp. 3 and 433) incorrectly stated as Michael. A brief abstract of the preceding letter is given in Forsyth's 35 Antiquary's Portfolio 1 277, 278, where the date mentioned is 22 Hen. VI (1444).

[blocks in formation]

Gough II 50. "While Henry VIII was warring in France, the needle of Catherine was employed at home in the same cause: in writing to Wolsey she says I am horribly busy with making standards, banners and badges,' and when she was visited by the two cardinals to obtain her consent to the divorce, she met them in housewife fashion with a skein of white thread hanging about her neck and excused herself from answering suddenly, as she had been at work among her maids. Mary and Elizabeth, while princesses at least, were also industrious needlewomen: the latter presented to Edward VI as a new year's gift a cambric shirt of her own making; and Anne Boleyn embroidered the tester of a bed for her husband." Pictorial History of

good abilities, had a retentive memory and was moreover of a studious disposition. Bishop Fisher says: "She was of "singular wisedom ferre passyng the comyn rate of women. "She was good in remembraunce and of holdyng memorye, "a redy wytte she had also to conceive all thyngs, albeit 5 "they were ryghte derke. Right studious she was in Bokes, which she had in grete number, both in Englysh "and in Frenshe1."

About 1447 her mother was married for the third time, to Lionel lord Welles, who left her a widow in 1461, 10 being slain at the battle of Towton: the issue of this marriage was a son named John, afterwards the first viscount Welles".

According to a custom very prevalent at that period3 Margaret Beaufort was married at an extremely early age; 15 Bishop Fisher relates the following extraordinary incident respecting her marriage:

"In her tender Age she being endued with so grete "towardness of Nature and lykelyhode of Enherytance, many sued to have had her to maryage. The Duke of 20 "Suthfolk, which then was a Man of grete experyence, "moost dylygently procured to have had her for his Son "and Heyre. Of the contrary part Kyng Henry the "Sixth did make meanes for Edmunde his Brother then "the Erle of Richemonde. She, which as then was not 25

England II 884. See in Warton's Life of Sir Thomas Pope, 2nd edit. 74 an account of a book-cover curiously embroidered by queen Elizabeth previously to her accession to the throne.

1 Mornynge Remembrance 7. 2 Dugdale's Baronage 11 12, 13, 123.

3 Littleton says "The age of discretion is called the age of 14 years. For at this age, the infant which is maried within such age to a woman, may agree or disagree to such marriage;" and lord Coke, in commenting on this passage, observes, "The time of agreement or disgreement, when they marry infra

annos nubiles, is for the woman at
twelve or after, and for the man at
fourteen or after; and there need
no new mariage if they so agree;
but disagree they cannot before the 30
said ages, and then they may dis-
agree and marry again to others
without any divorce. And if they
once after give consent, they can
never disagree after." Coke upon 35
Littleton 1 79. See a note by Mr
Stapleton respecting early mar-
riages in the feudal ages, Plumpton
Correspondence 260, 261, and a
paper entitled Sponsalia by Mr J. 40
S. Burn in Collect. Topog. et Geneal.
III 320.

"fully nine years old, doubtfull in her mynde what she were best to do, asked counsayle of an old Gentlewoman "whom she moche loved and trusted, which dyd advyse "her to commend her self to St Nycholas the Patron and 5 "helper of all true maydens, and to beseche him to put in "her mynde what she were best to do. This counsayle "she follow'd and made her Prayer so full often but "specyally that nyghte when she sholde the morrowe after "make answere of her mynde determynately. A mervay10"lous thyng! the same nyght, as I have herde her tell "many a tyme, as she lay in Prayer calling upon St Nycholas, whether slepynge or wakeynge she could not assure, but about four of the clocke in the mornynge one ap“pered unto her arrayed like a Byshop and naming unto her 15 "Edmonde bad take hyme unto her Husbande. And so "by this meane she dyd encline her mynde unto Edmonde, "the Kyng's Broder and Erle of Rychemonde"."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

As however she was at this period the ward of the duke of Suffolk, she had in reality no choice, and there is 20 evidence to shew that he, in the exercise of his rights as her guardian, married her to his own son, John de la Pole, afterwards duke of Suffolk.

[ocr errors]

In the articles presented by the commons to the king against the duke of Suffolk in 1450, they charge him with 25 conspiring to induce the king of France to invade England "to leve reyse and make open werre ayenst you, Soverayn "Lord, with a grete puyssaunce and arme, to distroy your "moost Roiall persone and youre true subgettes of the same 'Reame, to th' entent to make John, sonne of the same 30" Duke, Kyng of this youre seid Reame, and to depose you of youre high Regalie therof, the same Duke of Suff" 'havyng then of youre graunte the warde and mariage of "Margarete Doughter and heire to John late Duke of "Somers', purposyng to marie her to his seid sonne, pre35 "sumyng and pretendyng her to be next enheritable to "the Corone of this youre Reame for lakke of issue of you, "Soverayne Lord; in accomplishment of his seid traiterous "purpose and entent wheruppon the same Duke of Suff' "sith the tyme of his areste hath doo the seid Margarete Mornynge Remembrance 8, 9. See Bacon's Historie of Henry VII p. 247.

40

[ocr errors]

1

« AnteriorContinuar »