Monday, 23 October 2017

Francis`s Beaumont relatives

Unlike Francis himself, most of his relatives on both sides of his family were supporters of the Lancastrian side during the Wars of the Roses. While his paternal grandfather, William Lovell, died too early to be truly involved, and his father and paternal uncles accepted the victory of Edward IV in 1461, his mother`s relatives were less ready to do so. They remained part of the fight on the Lancastrian side until the end of the conflicts. Since the family had been of note for well over a century, they attracted quite some attention for it.

Francis`s maternal grandfather, John Beaumont, was born around 1409 to Henry Beaumont and his wife Elizabeth. He became Henry V`s ward at only four years old, after his father`s death. Not much is known about his early life, but it is a fact that in or around 1428, John was married to Elizabeth Phelip, only child of William, Lord Bardolf. The couple had at least three children together: Francis`s mother Joan, born in 1441, Henry, born around 1434, and William, born on 23rd April 1438. If there were any others is unknown, though if so, they did not live until August 1441, by which time Henry, William and Joan are stated to be John`s only issue.

During the 1430s, John did not only start a family, he also established himself in Henry VI`s government, starting with him joining Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester`s, expedition for the protection of Calais in 1436. His actions there earned him quite some respect and rewards, and over the years he was given many tasks and honours by the crown. Most notably, on 12th February 1440, he was elevated from being a simple baron to a viscouncy, making him the first man in England to become a viscount.

As his biography in the ODNB points out, it is likely that personal connections to the king and those close to him played a part in him receiving preferment and, in the view of his actual actions, inordinate honours in comparison to others. Of what nature these connections were is no longer possible to say, but they stood him in good stead, and quite naturally gave him a good reason to support Henry VI and his government instead of the Yorkists when the conflicts started.

Among the perks and honours John secured for himself and his family was, after his father-in-law William`s death in June 1441, the control over all lands his wife Elizabeth inherited from him, as well as the title of Lord Bardolph for his oldest son. The royal grant confirming this was made on 10th August of that year, also stating that after his wife recent`s death, John was to have custody of the inheritance until her heirs were of age. Elizabeth`s heirs were said to be her and John`s son Henry, then "in his eight year", and any heirs he might have, then their son William and his heirs, and in case they both died without issue, their daughter Joan and her heirs.

Elizabeth`s date of death is not known, only that it must have been between 5th June and 10th August 1441, almost certainly in childbed with Joan. In her father`s IPM dated to the 30th October of the same year, she is only said to be dead. No date of death is given. Only a year later, in December 1442, her and John`s son Henry also died. He was buried in Dennington, Suffolk.

John remarried in 1443, but despite the recent loss of his oldest son, leaving him with only one son and one daughter, his choice of wife argues that he did not hope to beget more children but rather made the marriage for fiscal and political reasons. By 25th August 1443, he had married Katherine Neville, sister of Cecily Neville, who had been twice widowed before and was some nine years older than he was. At approximately 46 years of age, she would have been thought extremely unlikely to give him any more children, and in fact she didn`t. She did, however, bring him an interest in extensive lands she had a life interest in from her previous marriages. Nothing is known about their personal relationship, but the marriage lasted until John`s death without ever causing any gossip.

In 1446, John married his daughter Joan, then around 5 years old, to William Lovell, Baron Lovell,`s oldest son and heir John, then 13 years old. Whether the marriage was only arranged that year or if it had been planned longer and the two been betrothed for some years is not known. It seems, however, that Joan left her father`s household after the marriage and lived with her new husband`s family. In 1452, John also arranged a marriage for his son William, then fourteen, to Joan, daughter of Humphrey, Duke of Buckingham and niece of his second wife Katherine.

John managed to get through most of the upheaval at the end of the 1440s without suffering any loss of privileges, despite, as his ODNB article points out, having been close to William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, and having been involved in the fall of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. It seems that during the late 1440 and early 1450, he tried to avoid being openly in conflict with someone. He accepted Suffolk`s fall and even played a part in his arrest, and while he was opposed to Richard, Duke of York, in 1452, he also accepted his protectorate in 1453.

At first, it must have seemed as if he was trying to sit out the conflicts between the Yorkist side and the Lancastrian side, for he did not take part in the first battle of St. Alban`s in 1455. However, soon afterwards, he began taking the side of Margaret of Anjou. He was steward of several of her and her son`s lands, and an advocate of her rights, becoming increasingly opposed to the Duke of York. In fact, he rose to such prominence as Margaret`s man that he, along with the Earl of Wiltshire and the Earl of Shrewsbury, was named a "mortal and extreme" enemy of York in articles issued to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1460. The three men were said to be the cause of all of York`s complaints with the government, rather than Henry VI himself, who was explicitly said to be "as noble, as virteous, as righteous, and blessed of disposition, as any earthly prince."

Clearly, by this point, John`s very survival was dependant on the Lancastrian`s victory, and he fought for it. On 10th July 1460, he died fighting in the Battle of Northampton. His second wife Katherine survived him, as did his son William, his daughter Joan and two grandchildren by her, Francis and Joan.

Joan survived her father by almost exactly six years. Around a year after she gave birth to her and John Lovell`s third child, a daughter called Frideswide, her first husband died suddenly on 9th January 1465. Joan remarried within the year, taking as her second husband William Stanley. On 5th August 1466 she died, probably from complications while/after giving birth to William`s son.

Her brother William Beaumont, aged twenty-two at his father`s death, inherited his viscouncy as well as all his extensive lands after he was determined to be of age in September 1460. He also inherited his father`s Lancastrian sympathies, or possibly thought that he would not have a future under a Yorkist king. For whatever reason, he fought with Henry VI`s forces against Edward of March at the Battle of Towton. Following the Lancastrians` defeat and Edward`s accession, William was imprisoned and during Edward`s first parliament in November 1461, he was attainted.

Around the same time, William managed to escape from his prison. He seems to have gone into exile then, perhaps in the entourage of Margaret of Anjou and her son, the disinherited Lancastrian Prince of Wales. His wife apparently stayed in England, and in 1468, the marriage was annulled.

William returned to England during the Lancastrian readaption of 1470/1, though it is not known how much, if any, of a part he played in the then-established government. It is possible he saw his nephew Francis during that time, but we do not know if this ever came to pass or if uncle and/or nephew would even have had any interest in such a meeting.

In 1471, William fought at Barnet, and when the Lancastrian side lost, fled together with John de Vere, Earl of Oxford. The two seem to have gone to exile in first Scotland, then France, and were mentioned in 1473 together as being involved in acts of piracy. Since they were also mentioned together as having fled the then following confinement together in 1484/5, it seems likely they were together that whole time.

Perhaps their shared experiences and imprisonment made them become friends, but even if not, they would remain closely connected. They may have fought together at Bosworth against Richard III, though only Oxford`s presence is definitely certain. What we do know, however, is that upon Henry VII becoming king, William returned to England, and in Henry`s first Parliament, his attainder was lifted, and he was restored to all his titles and possessions.

A day after his 48th birthday, on 24th April 1486, William married Elizabeth Scrope, granddaughter of Henry Scrope, Baron Bolton. Perhaps he hoped to have heirs with her, but it was not to be. We do not know why, but it is quite likely that his mental state had something to do with it, for by 1487, he was clearly thought to be mentally unstable. In the parliament of that year, William was declared unable to properly administer his lands and possessions. It was declared that while they had been returned to him by Henry VII in 1485, "since the which restitution our Sovereign Lord has certain knowledge that the same Viscount is not of sadness nor discretion neither to rule and keep himself nor his said livelihood, but since that time has alienated, wasted, spoiled and put away great part thereof full undiscretely to the disinheritance of him and his heir and by all likelihood, if he should have his liberty thereof, would hereafter demean the residue in like wise".

Exactly what form this alienation, spoiling and waste took is not said, nor is there any indication found in other records. A guardian was appointed for his lands, namely his old companion, John de Vere, earl of Oxford. However, whatever it was that afflicted William, it appeared to become worse and in the parliament of the year 1495, William was announced unfit to take care not only of his possessions, but also of his own person. The reasoning given for this was that "if [William was] left at large thereby might follow such demeanour which would not be to the king`s honour nor to the worship of his lands, considering that he is a person descended of the noble blood of this land". Already having custody of his lands, the Earl of Oxford was also appointed guardian of William`s person. In consequence of this, William started living in the earl`s household at Wivenhoe, in Essex, as his ward. It may well be that his wife accompanied him; in any case, she became well enough acquainted with Oxford to marry him soon after William and Oxford`s wife Margaret died.

While it is not known what exactly it was William suffered from, it seems clear it did not completely incapacitate him. He is known to have occasionally been considered well enough to perform legal actions after 1487, such as witnessing a bond. He was also still sent invitations to attend parliament as late as 1497, though it does not seem he attended. Possibly because his condition became worse with time, he was not sent such an invitation for parliament in 1504. In any case, it seems that after being sent to live in Wivenhoe in December 1495, William did not leave there again. 

On 19th December 1507, he died aged 69. Except for his wife, he may have left an illegitimate son begot before Edward IV became king. He had no more close family left apart from them, his parents and siblings having predeceased him by several decades, and his sister`s children having already died as well, Joan in late 1484 or very early 1485, Francis most likely shortly after the Battle of Stoke. Frideswide`s date of death or even year of death is unknown, but she was said to be deceased in William`s Inquisition Post Mortem.

John de Vere seems to have given William a grand grave in St Mary`s Church in Wivenhoe. Elizabeth Scrope, wife to both of them, was also laid to rest there when she died 30 years later.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Francis in the Earl of Warwick`s household

On 13th November 1467, King Edward IV granted to his cousin Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the custody of the orphaned eleven-year-old ninth baron Lovell, Francis Lovell. This, as was common for such grants also included the "custody of all lordships, manors, lands, rents, services and possessions with advowsons, kinghts` fees, franchises, liberties, warrens, courts leet and other commodities late of John Lovell, knight, deceased, tenant in chief, or Joan his wife or any ancestor of Francis, his son and heir during the minority of said Francis", as well as his "marriage without disparagement".

Because of this grant, it is often assumed that Francis only arrived in Warwick`s household in late 1467. Which is of course a very logical assumption, but nonetheless one that is most likely untrue. All that it definitely says is that with the grant, Warwick legally had the wardship of Francis and his possessions. It does not state if this was simply an affirmation of rights Warwick had informally held for a while, and if not, who else had custody of Francis and his inheritance.

Since a similar grant to someone else between the death of Francis`s father and 1467 would have been recorded, it follows that either the king himself held Francis`s custody and lands, as he indeed did from mid-1473 until Francis came of age in late 1477, or that Warwick did so informally.

Both is, of course, possible, but it seems likely that Warwick had at least some control over Francis as soon as his father died, for only around five weeks after John Lovell`s death, he was married to Warwick`s niece Anne FitzHugh. This could mean that Warwick already had full power of decision over Francis, but it could also mean that Edward granted him the right to pick a bride for the young boy - perhaps as a compensation for marrying his sister-in-law Margaret Woodville to Warwick`s nephew Thomas FitzAlan - but not his entire lands.

Of course, all this does is show that Warwick had some control over young Francis in 1465. It does not indicate exactly how many, or where Francis lived. In 1465, Francis`s mother was still alive, so it is possible that after the marriage, the little boy continued living with her. If it was indeed Edward IV holding his inheritance at that point, this is somewhat more likely than if it was the Earl of Warwick; there is no indication Francis ever lived at court, and it might not have mattered much to Edward whether the eight-year-old boy was raised in the households of one of his men, or in his mother`s household.

However, Francis`s mother Joan died on 5th August 1466, leaving him and his sisters Joan and Frideswide full orphans, with neither father nor mother left to take charge of their upbringing if they were so allowed. There is no definite proof where they went immediately after their mother`s death, but evidence indicates that at least Joan and Frideswide - and Francis if he was indeed still living in his mother`s household when she died - were raised in the household of Alice and Henry FitzHugh following their mother`s death. They were recorded to be there, together with Francis, in 1470, in the pardon for Henry FitzHugh`s rebellion, their inclusion clearly suggesting that they had not just newly arrived there but were considered established members of the FitzHughs` household and extended family.

It is, of course, possible that they only arrived at their household when their brother Francis`s wardship was granted to the Earl of Warwick, but there is no obvious reason to assume this was so. The only other households they could have likely stayed at after their mother`s death would have been that of their paternal grandmother, Alice Deincourt, and her husband Lord Sudeley, or that of their stepfather William Stanley. For neither of whom any documents contradict that they stayed there, but they were both apparently still in good health and finances, allowing them to take care of the children well after 1467. Though Francis might have been forced to leave to join the Earl of Warwick`s household when his custody was granted to him, there would have been no reason for his sisters to leave either the Stanley or the Sudeley household, had they stayed there, at the same time, or really at any time between their mother`s death and 1470.

It seems, therefore, that at least Joan and Frideswide were raised with the FitzHugh children from 1466 on. It stands to reason, therefore, that Francis was either with them or in Warwick`s household at the time. The fact that a grant of 1000 pounds to the Earl of Warwick, for "costs and expenses incurred by him on behalf of the Duke of Gloucester, the king`s brother, and for the exhibition and marriage of the son and heir of the Lord Lovell" exists from 1466 suggests it was the latter. While Warwick could have been compensated for the costs of the the children`s wedding without Francis having to live with him, the fact that "exhibition" was included suggests that he was also responsible for his education and upbringing as a lord, with all that entailed.

The grant is also interesting in that the 1000 pounds were in fact taken from revenues which were part of Francis`s inheritance. This suggests that it was Edward, not the Earl of Warwick, who controlled them at this point, and that the right to arrange Francis`s marriage had been especially granted to the earl, not been part and parcel of getting custody of him and his lands. The fact Edward reimbursted the earl for his upbringing suggests that he had sent Francis to his household, probably to raise him as a good, loyal, lord - like he did with his own brother Richard, equally mentioned in the grant.

It seems pretty certain, therefore, that Francis was in the earl`s household from at least summer 1466 on. It is less certain where he was immediately following his father`s death, but given the customs of the days, it is quite likely Edward made arrangements for him to be sent to be raised in one of his lords` households then, rather than after his mother`s death. The fact that his "exhibition and marriage" were mentioned together in the grant made the earl also suggest so, although this of course speculation.

Why the earl was granted custody of Francis and his inheritance in late 1467, we do not know. Perhaps it was an attempt by Edward to save the slowly fracturing relationship with the earl, or it was a reward for something. However, it seems that for Francis and his upbringing at the time, the grant made no difference, since he had been in the earl`s household for quite a while by then.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Anne FitzHugh Lovell

Sadly little is known about Anne FitzHugh Lovell, Viscountess Lovell, wife of Francis. Though a first cousin to Richard III`s queen Anne Neville and wife of his closest friend, she has been often overlooked. This is understandable for her contemporaries - Francis himself did not cause a lot of comment and was apparently seen as a good but unremarkable man, and since Anne does not seem to have done much out of the ordinary while in the public eye, there was not much to comment on for them. However, even historians looking at Francis`s life have traditionally not assigned her much importance, neither in Francis`s life nor as an independent subject of study. While, again, this is understandable in the light of the lack of evidence about her and her life, it is nonetheless an oversight. Though there are only few facts, they indicate she was far from an uninteresting person, nor someone her husband did not care about.

Anne was born to Henry FitzHugh, 5th Baron FitzHugh and his wife Alice Neville, probably in 1460, according to the Testamenta Eboracenses. This squares with what evidence we have for the ages of her siblings and is therefore likely correct, meaning Anne was four years younger than her husband Francis. At the time of her birth, she had two older sisters, Alice and Elizabeth, and one older brother, Richard. While Alice was significantly older than her, having been born around 1448, Elizabeth and Richard were closer to her in age, Elizabeth being around Francis`s age and Richard`s birthday most likely being in late 1458 or very early 1459. This is supported by the fact that on 25th February 1479, he was given license to enter the lands he had inherited from his father, and clearly means he was, at most, two years older than Anne.

The little girl was born at a very tense time in history. After several years of conflicts, Richard, Duke of York - the baby`s great-uncle by marriage - had either recently claimed the throne for himself and his descendants or was just about to do so, naturally causing protests by the supporters of the sitting king, Henry VI. The rift that caused among the nobility went right through little Anne`s family; her father Henry was a supporter of Henry VI, while her uncle, the famous Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, supported Richard of York and was instrumental in putting Richard`s son, Edward, on the throne after Richard`s death.

When this had happened, Henry came to terms with the new king, but at the time of his third daughter`s birth, he was still fighting to support Henry VI. Naturally, this would have limited the contact with the Earl of Warwick`s family, and despite the fact that Anne`s mother Alice, Warwick`s brother, is said to have resembled him and been close to him, she seems to have fully supported her husband in 1460. This also means it is unlikely that little Anne was called after her aunt by marriage, Warwick`s wife Anne Beauchamp. However, "Anne" was a Neville family name, and it is quite possible the baby was called after her great-aunt Anne Neville, dowager duchess of Buckingham, or her first cousin once removed, Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter, both of whom were also on Henry VI`s side in the conflict - though Anne of York may very well have felt unhappy about this. Maybe one of these two women was even little Anne`s godmother, but sadly we do not know.

Almost nothing is known about Anne`s childhood. As she grew up, she became an older sister several times, to brothers named George, Edward, Thomas and John. In later, non-contemporary sources, it is sometimes stated that she also had two more sisters, Margery and Joan, the former the first wife of Sir Marmaduke Constable, the latter a nun, but no contemporary source mentions them as the children of Henry FitzHugh and Alice Neville. It is possible they were Henry`s illegitimate daughters, or from another branch of the family, but their connection to Anne is shaky at best.

The exact birth dates of Anne`s siblings are not known, any more than hers, nor is it known how much of an upbringing they shared. If the FitzHugh family, as was usually done in noble families, gave their sons a different (though not necessarily a better) education than their daughters, she would have most likely only shared her lessons with Elizabeth, as Alice was around 12 years older than her and might not have had too much to do with her.

Despite this age difference, however, it was Anne who was married first, not Alice. In fact, it seems that Anne was married first of all her siblings, at the age of four or just five in February 1465. In a match almost certainly arranged by Anne`s uncle, the above-mentioned Earl of Warwick, she was married to the then eight-year-old Francis Lovell, who had become Baron Lovell only around five weeks earlier after his father`s sudden death. How much Anne, or even Francis, understood of what was happening at that age is of course guesswork, but it was not uncommon for children, even that young, to be married at the time.

However, it was rather out of the ordinary for a younger sister to be married before a match for her older sister had been arranged. We have no knowledge why the FitzHughs choose to do it that way, and why Alice, then around eighteen, was only married to in November 1466, and then "only" to Sir John Fiennes, the heir to a barony, and therefore for the time being of lesser status than Anne`s youthful husband. Perhaps Henry and Alice decided that, while age gaps in arranged marriages were hardly out of the ordinary, it would be better to marry Alice to Sir John, who was her age, and Anne to a boy only four years older than her, rather than marry Alice to a boy eight years her junior and Anne to a man twelve years her senior. Perhaps, despite the fact that Francis was already a baron and stood to inherit lots of lands in due time, Henry and Alice also saw that he had probably inherited massive debts from his father and considered him a less good prospect than Sir John. Perhaps it was a mixture of these reasons, or something else entirely. It is all speculation, as is any explanation why Elizabeth, the second sister, was apparently not considered for either match.

Equally, it is speculation how much Anne and Francis saw of each other in the first years of their marriage. It is recorded that in the summer of 1466, her father Henry spent some months as the Earl of Warwick`s guest at Middleham, where Francis was also staying at that time. It is possible that Anne and her mother and siblings joined him there - after all, it was her mother who was Warwick`s sister, and since Anne was already married to a boy in her uncle`s care, there may have been an effort made to get the children to know each other, as sometimes happened with such matches. We cannot know for certain, though.

It is known, however, that it was in the summer of 1466 that Anne`s mother-in-law, Joan Stanley, died, leaving Francis and his sisters Joan and Frideswide full orphans. Joan was around Elizabeth`s age, being almost certainly Francis`s twin, while Frideswide was likely around two years old and therefore likely of an age with Anne`s youngest brothers. After their mother`s death, it seems they were raised together with Anne and her siblings in her parents` household. If Alice and her children joined her husband Henry at Middleham, it was likely there that Joan and Frideswide joined their household, and Anne first met them.

Since almost nothing is known of their relationship, it is impossible to make any speculations what Anne may have thought or felt at the addition to her parents` household, if she was pleased to have more girls to be raised alongside with or not. She may not even have thought too much of it, for it was rather common for nobles to have several wards in their households.

It is quite likely that during this time, Anne knew her sisters-in-law far better than her husband, who even if it is possible she sometimes saw him during visits, did not live in the same household she did. It was only some years later that he seems to have started living in her parents` household. We do not know when exactly he left the Earl of Warwick`s care - possibly during his first rebellion of 1469 - but it is known that by 10th September 1470, he was definitely there, for he is included, together with Anne, her siblings and his sisters, in a pardon granted to Henry FitzHugh for his rebellion that year. While Francis was just a week shy of his fourteenth birthday when this pardon was granted, and therefore too young to have been involved, and the inclusion of ten-year-old Anne and approximately six-year-old Frideswide clearly shows this was nominal in the cases of the children, it clearly argues he was staying with the FitzHughs during the time of rebellion.

If his presence made any difference to Anne, we can`t know. Both were naturally still too young by far to even think of being anything but married in name only, but perhaps there would have been some effort made to acquaint the two with one another, so that when the time came for them to live as man and wife, they would not be complete strangers to each other. It is also possible they did not see much of one another, or that they just saw as much of each other as Anne also saw of her brothers, however much this was.

The next mention of Anne found in contemporary sources is from 1473, by which time quite a lot in her life had changed. Now thirteen, she had lost her father the year before and seen her brother Richard become Baron FitzHugh. Though her father`s death meant that she and her siblings, like her husband, were the king`s wards until they became of age, or in the girls` cases, were old enough to live with their husbands, it seems that their mother Alice, despite her apparent involvement in her husband`s rebellion against Edward IV, had been allowed to keep custody of them. Francis`s wardship had been granted to Edward`s sister and Anne`s first cousin once removed, Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk and her husband, on 11st July 1471, an appointment that was confirmed again in February 1472. Francis and his sisters moved into the Suffolks` household. Anne, it seems stayed with her mother and siblings, though she may have visited her husband occasionally.

Whereever she was for most of the time, at least by summer 1473, Anne saw her husband again, for it is recorded that in this year, they joined the prestigious Corpus Christi Guild together with Anne`s mother and some of her siblings. The Register of the Guild of Corpus Christi in the City of York reports this, listing "Dom. Alicia Feithew, Franciscus Lovell, comes, et Anna uxor ejus, Ric., Rog.,Ed.,Tho. et Eliz., filii dictæ Aliciæ Feithew". ("Lady Alice FitzHugh, Francis Lovell, count, and Anne his wife, Richard, Roger, Edward, Thomas and Elizabeth, children to Alice FitzHugh.") The fact that this includes Francis and Anne in the same way the pardon of 1470 does, including them in the midst of the family though as a married couple, suggests it was seen as a family decision of some sort, and it is possible Francis explicitly travelled to York for this, though it is also possible he was visited Anne and her family for a longer while that summer.

The list of family members who joined the guild with Anne is also illuminating in that it shows that with the apparent exception of John, who may have died or simply been too young to join the guild at that time, all of Anne`s siblings survived infancy, or at least all those whose birth was known about. The inclusion of a Roger in the list is somewhat baffling, since it is the only mention of a brother of that name that is known, but while it is possible that he died soon afterwards and/or other mentions of him were lost, it is far more likely this was a scribe`s mistake, and refered to George FitzHugh. His absence is rather inexplicable otherwise, and the register is known to have sometimes made mistakes of such a sort, even calling Richard of Gloucester`s consort "Elizabeth" instead of Anne.

It is possible that Francis stayed with the FitzHughs regularly until Anne was old enough to be his wife in more than name, but there is no way to be certain. Nor do we know when Anne was considered old enough. Marriages were often made when the girl was around 14, as in the case of Cecily Neville for example, but there is some evidence that consummation was often delayed until she was at least 16.

There evidence that this was also the age that Anne began living together with Francis, such as a letter written by Elizabeth Stonor in early March 1477 refers to her and Francis, clearly as their Oxfordshire neighbours. The context makes it clear that their relationship, while friendly, was still comparatively new and uncertain, which would fit perfectly with the Lovells, aged 20 and 16, first moving into Francis`s ancestral home of Minster Lovell Hall together around a year before the letter was written.

The letter also contains an interesting minor mention of Anne, as the recipient of a present, like her husband, to win their good will. This indicates that the Stonors knew, or at least assumed, that Anne held some sway over her husband or meant something to him, and that her friendship as well as his was worth cultivating. Naturally, it does not say too much about what their relationship may have been like it private, but clearly they at least fulfilled convention by appearing as a functional and contented couple.

Sadly, we do not know how much time they spent together and if this was an impression they struggled to uphold at that point or if it was one that was truthful, though there are indications in later years they were close. It is known that Francis spent some time in his mother-in-law`s household, visiting her, in 1482, but while it is quite likely that Anne was with him then, we cannot know for certain, just as we do not know whether she was present when her husband was created viscount and she became a viscountess on 4th January 1483. However, since no one ever commented on any open rift between them and the evidence does not suggest anything of the sort, it is almost certain she was with him then.

What is definitely known, and again points towards at least an impression of conventional happiness being created, in February 1483, Francis included her in a request for prayers to be said, every year on 17th September, in perpetuity.  

It is also known that when her first cousin once removed, Richard of Gloucester, her husband`s closest friend, became king, Anne was present for his coronation. She was in the new queen`s train, like her mother Alice and older sister Elizabeth, and like them and several other ladies of high standing, such as for example the famous Margaret Beaufort, Lady Stanley, she was given "a long gown of blue velvet with crimson satin" and "one gown of crimson velvet and white damask" for the festivities.

It seems, and is supported by Anne Sutton and Peter Hammond`s research presented in "The Coronation of Richard III: The Extant Documents", that unlike her mother and Elizabeth, she was not made a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne, who was her first cousin, and unlike them, she does not seem to have been favoured in any other way by the new queen. In fact, it seems that after the coronation, she was not even present in her household, suggesting her appointment as one of the queen`s ladies had been nominal.

As to why Anne did not join her mother and sister in becoming a favour lady of the queen, we can once more only speculate. It is possible, of course, that the two women simply did not like each other. However, had Anne wished to be a lady-in-waiting, it is almost impossible Queen Anne could have denied her this, as she was the wife of one of the most important men in the government and lady-in-waiting were often appointed not simply because of the queen`s affections, but also because of political causes. It is therefore most likely Anne herself decided that she was not interested in the position, which may indeed have been because of dislike, as postulated above. It is, however, equally possible that this was due to the fact that Anne`s position in life was different at that point to her mother`s and sister`s. Her mother had been a widow for slightly over a decade when Richard III became king, while Elizabeth`s husband William Parr was ill and could not attend court. It is sometimes postulated that he also opposed Richard`s accession, but there is no evidence for that. Conversely, it is sometimes postulated that he wished for his wife to stay at court to show their suppurt which he, due to illness, could not. Whether Elizabeth went against her husband to make a statement for her support for Richard`s kingship, or whether she stayed at court with his approval and to show both their support, neither of the couple seem to have shown much of a wish to see each other.

Anne, however, was neither required to make a political stand for or to set her apart from her husband nor was she a widow, and part of her reasons not to join her mother and sister in becoming the queen`s ladies may have been because of that. The king`s and the queen`s households were often apart - such as when the king visited her and her husband`s home of Minster Lovell Hall in July 1483, soon after Edward of Middleham`s investment as Prince of Wales, and presumably after Prince Edward`s death, to name a few occasions - and Anne`s husband Francis was, in his capacity as the king`s lord chamberlain, and closest friend, always at court unless dire necessity forced him to leave, like the so-called Buckingham rebellion in autumn 1483 did shortly. It is therefore possible that Anne, when having to choose, chose to stay with her husband, rather than in the queen`s household as her lady-in-waiting.

We cannot know, of course, without a doubt that their relationship was so good at that point that she could have feasibly made such a decision. However, there is a hint in a surviving legal document from 1485 which definitely speaks to affection in the marriage. In an indenture made on 10th June, Francis arranged for Anne to receive several manors in the event of his death, not just to keep for the rest of her life, but to own and be able to pass on to her descendants after her death. This was an unusual arrangement, and not at all one he would have needed to make, indicating he had trust in her and cared for her welfare.

The fact that this arrangement would have enabled her to pass these manors on to her descandants also shows up an oddity. It is certain that Anne never had a child by Francis, yet even after what were likely nine years of living as man and wife, he does not seem to have at all blamed her for it, or, as can be seen from the indenture, even doubted she could have children. Since this arrangement could have disadvantaged any children Anne had by him, giving their half-siblings she potentially could have had by another man after Francis`s death a claim to these manors, it seems he thought or knew that their childlessness was his fault. 

There is no telling why. While it would have been typical for the time to blame the woman if a couple was childless, there are several reasons why Francis could have suspected or known he could not have children. The most obvious would be, of course, that they were not having sex, but since they seemed to get at least along and having an heir would have been expected of them, there would have to have been a good reason for this. All we know is that if that was the reason for Francis`s apparent certainty, the problem lay with him.

What Anne thought of this is, as always, up for speculation, but it does seem that she did not hold it against her husband. Nor does she seem to have held it against her husband that when Richard III was killed in battle, he chose not to accept Henry VII`s pardon. It is of course possible that she would have wished for him to do the same her brother Richard FitzHugh did, accept Henry VII and work against him in secret, or even just accept him and not risk it, but there are indications that she supported his decision. 

There is no telling if she ever saw him again after the Battle of Bosworth, but it is clear that she was at least suspected to be in contact with him and to support him, for in a letter to John Paston written on 16th May 1487, Sir Edmund Bedingfeld warned him that there were rumours he had met with "Lady Lovell", and cautions him that "yt ys well doon we dele wysly thereafter". This suggests Anne was possibly involved in some sort of plotting to support her husband and the then-imminent so-called Simnel uprising, but naturally, there is no indication what exactly she did, or if she was perhaps entirely innocent and it was simply her association to Francis that made her suspect in the eyes of the new government.

Though Henry VII was famously paranoid, it is well possible that in the case of Anne, his suspicions were well-founded. Only three months earlier, Paston had been chided by the Earl of Oxford, one of Henry`s closest men, for accidentally passing on wrong information regarding Francis`s whereabouts, and in May 1486, Oxford`s own wife had written a letter with false information about this. Notably, Margaret of Oxford was Anne`s aunt, and while it could, naturally, have been a coincidence, it is remarkable that two people connected with Anne were provided with wrong information about Francis`s whereabouts at moments crucial for his escape.  

Certainly, if she was connected with this, or in some other way involved in her husband`s rebellions, it was likely never discovered or else could never be proved, for Henry VII`s government enacted no punitive measures against her. While her husband`s attainder of course meant she lost the wealth she must have been accustomed to, she had a rich mother and family who could support her, and it was a sad consquence for the wife of attainted traitors, not limited only to Anne. Similarly, while the lands that made up her jointure were taken, this was standard despite being against the law, and clearly not thought to be a punishment, for in Francis`s second attainder, passed in 1495, her rights were protected. In the face of what had happened to lands she was still entitled to, this was somewhat ironic, but clearly shows she herself was not meant to be punished. 

Interestingly, Anne does not seem to have been afraid of being punished, or else her concern for Francis overrode her fear, for in 1488, she was looking for her husband. We know this from another letter to John Paston, this one from Anne`s mother, in which Alice FitzHugh mentions "my doghtyr Lovell makith great sute and labour for my sone hir husbande." She then goes on to explain that "Sir Edwarde Franke hath bene in the North to inquire for hym; he is comyn agayne, and cane nogth understonde wher he is. Wherfore her benevolers willith hir to continue hir sute and labour; and so I can not departe nor leve hir as ye know well..." 

This has sometimes been taken as meaning that Anne was trying to secure a pardon for her husband, but the complete text of the letter and its context, plus the fact that Francis had in 1485 already rejected a pardon, make it clear that this is not so, and that she was instead trying to find out where Francis was, and perhaps why he was no longer communicating.

What is especially intriguing about this is that, as J.M.Williams points out that Edward Franke, whom Anne sent to look for Francis, was himself a traitor at that point, and knowing of his whereabouts without reporting them would have been treason in itself. It speaks volumes about Anne`s feelings for her husband that she did not care for the danger to herself when trying to find out what had happened to him. It is also an indication that she was courageous, and determined to find the truth. Though so little is known about her, this action does give a telling insight into what kind of person she seems to have been.

The concern Alice expresses in the letter also shows that Anne was close to her mother, and the mention of the "benevolers", whom she seem to have trusted and who seem to have supported her in this risky undertaking, could well show that she was a well-liked woman who had several close, trusted friends. Once more, it is speculation, but in this case it is speculation based on solid evidence.

We do not know if Anne ever found out what happened to her husband. It seems that sometime between February 1488, when her mother wrote the letter to John Paston, and December 1489, she gave up looking. Whether this was because she had learnt what had happened or stopped hoping she ever could, we do, once more, not know, but we do know that by then, she had taken a religious vow, for when Henry VII`s government granted her an annuity of 20 pounds, she was called "our sister in God". This was quite common for noble widows, but it suggests she knew her mind well and had by the age of twenty-eight or twenty-nine already decided she did not want to marry another time and with that, gave up the chance to have children as well. Though of course her marriage prospects were diminished significantly due to her being a traitor`s widow, she was still of high birth and a relative of Henry VII`s queen, so that had she wished, it is likely she could have found someone willing to overlook who her first husband had been. Another option would have been for her to contemplate marrying for her own pleasure, but clearly she had no interest in either of these options. Again, it can be taken as an indicator of feelings of affection for Francis.

We do not know what sort of vow she took, whether she joined a convent or was simply a lay sister. The last mention of her in the sources is in Francis`s second attainder of 1495. As mentioned above, in it, her rights were protected, showing that she was still alive at the time, then 35 years of age. Her brother Richard had died in 1489 at the age of around 31, but her mother was still alive, dying after 1505. Whether Anne outlived her and when she died, we do, like so much of her life, not know, only that it must have been before 1513.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Francis and the rebellion of 1483

In October 1483, Richard III`s first royal progress was abruptly ended by news that there was a rebellion brewing, which found encouragement especially in the southern part of England and which involved (one of) his most important supporter(s), his first cousin once removed, Harry, Duke of Buckingham.

The king`s reaction to his cousin`s betrayal has been amply discussed elsewhere, as have the duke`s possible reasons for his actions. There is no consensus on the latter, though it is mostly accepted that greed of some sort played a part, while the former is more clear. King Richard was obviously shaken and personally insulted by the duke turning traitor, and a postscript written in his own hand on a letter to the Bishop of Lincoln, he labeled Buckingham as "the most untrue creature living" and complained that "there was never false traitor better purveyed for".

However, emotional though he seems to have been, this did not prevent Richard at all from making arrangements to stifle the rebellion, which eventually saw it ended without fighting. Already in the postscript mentioned above, written on 12th October Richard mentioned that "[h]ere, loved be God, is all well and truly determined, and for to resist the malice of him that had best cause to be true, the Duke of Buckingham", and the arrangements he made support his words. He gave orders for the protection of London, among others, to John Howard, Duke of Norfolk.

Francis, too, was given orders to help crush the rebellion. Unlike Howard, he was still with Richard when the news of the rebellion came, which must have been around the time the king left Pontefract for Lincoln on 8th October. By 10th October, Howard was notified of it and wrote a letter pertaining to it to John Paston. A day later - a day before the king penned his emotional letter to the Bishop of Lincoln - still in Richard`s company, Francis was issuing orders to raise men to fight for him. Perhaps already somewhat wary of his alliance, he implored his Oxfordshire neighbour William Stonor to meet him in Banbury on 18th October together with his men, so they could meet up with Richard in Leicester two days later, on 20th October.

It is not known when he and Richard learnt of Stonor`s deflection to the rebels` side, but if it was before the assigned day of meeting, it clearly did not change Francis`s plans, for on 17th October, he is reported to have left the king`s company to go to Banbury to gather what men he could. More likely, he went there expecting to meet with Stonor and his men and  it was there that he learnt of his betrayal.

By 20th October at the latest, Francis would have known for certain that Stonor had turned traitor, and most likely passed the information on to Richard. His reaction to the news is not known, any more than Francis`s is known, but clearly Richard did not blame Francis. On the contrary, shortly afterwards, on 23rd October, Francis was granted a general commission of array "for the resistance of the rebel Henry, Duke of Buckingham".

There is no telling how many men Francis raised, nor even a number how many were raised in total to squash the rebellion. Since it seems to have been roughly equivalent in size and threat to the Stafford&Lovell Rebellion against Henry VII three years later, it can perhaps be speculated that a similar number to the 3000 men raised then were mobilised by Richard and his men. However, this is of course sheerest guesswork.

However many men were raised, they did not have to fight. In another parallel to the rebellion against Henry three years later, it was defused without fighting. Less than a week after the commission of array was granted to Francis, the biggest threat was over, and the Duke of Buckingham had been captured. He was executed for treason on 2nd November 1483.

Despite this, the fallout of the rebellion had to be dealt with, and Francis was employed for that as well. On 13th November, he led a commission "to arrest and imprison all rebels in the counties of Oxford and Berks[hire], to take their castles, lordships, manors,lands, chattels and possessions into the king`s hands and to enquire into the value and receive the issue of the same, and to certify thereon to the king and council." This commission also included Francis`s close associate Edward Franke, as well as William Catesby and one Richard Harcourt. Since William Stonor fled after the rebellion failed, he was not among those this commission arrested. If they were more successful finding and detaining other rebels is not known.

Whatever the success or lack thereof of the commission, Richard was clearly happy with Francis, and he was to receive several of the lands forfeited by the rebels, especially in the Midlands, including a lot of Stonor`s former property. This may have been, as Rosemary Horrox for example speculated, to foster more loyalty to Richard through Francis, but Francis is not known to have ever even visited or taken an interest in his new lands. It may also simply have been a reward or gift, though it is unlikely this was done without some sort of political motivation.

How much Francis actually managed to accomplish to help quell the rebellion and earn the reward is, again, sadly not known. He clearly tried, but what is remembered most of his involvement in it is his lack of success in getting William Stonor to support Richard. It is possible he was more successful in the other tasks he was given, and whatever his actual success, he remained very high in Richard`s favour, but the only known outcome of one of his actions in connection with it was a failure.