Saturday, 6 January 2018

9th January 1465: Death of Francis`s father, John Lovell

On 9th January 1465, Francis`s father John Lovell, 8th Baron Lovell, died. He was 31 years old, having been born on 15th April 1433, and was survived by his mother Alice Deincourt, two younger brothers named William and Robert, his wife Joan Beauchamp and three children: his only son and heir, Francis, then eight years old, a daughter called Joan, either seven or eight years of age, and another daughter, Frideswide, probably an infant of not quite a year.

It is not known what John died of, only that his death appears to have been sudden. There is no indication he left a last will and testament, though naturally there can be no complete certainty about this. If so, that would suggest he died of an illness so fast-acting he could not even dictate a will on his deathbed, or of an accident. Sadly, we do not know which it was.

On 14th January 1465, a Writ of Diem Clausit Extremum was issued. Why this was only done five days after his death, not on the day after, as happened when his father William died, we again do not know. It may have been because of the weather conditions in January, making it harder for a messager bearing the news of John`s death to travel, or because the king`s men took their time reacting to the news. It is also possible, if perhaps not very likely, that John´s death was not immediately discovered, his body only found after a day or so after an accident killed him. This is, of course, sheerest speculation, and the delay might not have meant anything at all.

John was presumably buried soon after death, though there is no agreement on where his tomb is. While most historians agree that it is lost, some, such as Monika Simon, have argued that the tomb which can still be seen in St. Kenelm`s Church in Minster Lovell is in fact his, not his father William`s as commonly assumed. While this cannot be entirely debunked, the figures and decoration of the tomb make it somewhat unlikely, as they seem to fit William`s known traits (such as a special worship for St.Christopher, who is represented by the tomb) better than John`s. Moreover, while William did request in his will to be buried in Oxford, any claim that there was in fact not only a chantry dedicated to him but also his grave is one that not only isn`t supported by any research done about it, but also one that can never be verified, as the church it was meant to be at was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monastries.

If the tomb is William Lovell`s, then John`s grave has disappeared and there is no indication where it may have been. Since he died in Minster Lovell, the usual assumption is that he was buried in St. Kenelm`s church, but if so, he was never given a sarcophagus like his father, or even a marker. St. Kenelm`s Church is, as is pointed out on its website, "virtually unaltered since construction in 1450", and would have been unlikely to lose a tomb. It is possible that he was buried in his father`s tomb, but even so, it is curious that none of the decoration for it gives any indication of it.

Again, we do not know why this is so, but it`s likely it was due to frictions between him and his family, of which this would be far from the only example. His father William seemed to want to be associated with him as little as possible, and Francis, though so young at his death, seemed to hate him, though it is sheerest guesswork why.

John`s wife of 18 and a half years, Joan Beaumont, remarried less than a year after his death, taking as her second husband William Stanley. She died in August 1466, at the age of probably 33, not even surviving her first husband by two years. John`s children all survived to adulthood, but the two oldest died at an even younger age than he did, Francis most likely shortly before his 31st birthday and Joan at the age of 27 or just 28 in very late December 1484. Frideswide`s date or even year of death is unknown, only that she was dead by December 1507.

Though Francis died childless, Joan and Frideswide had children, and John has descendants living even today.

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