Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Francis`s older brother, John Lovell jr?

In 1456,at some point before September, and therefore the birth of Francis and Joan Lovell, their grandfather John Beaumont, Viscount Beaumont, wrote his will. Though he lived for another four years after writing it, he did not change it again. After his death in battle in 1460, fighting against Yorkist forces, the then victorious Yorkist allowed the terms of the will to be followed and his son William Beaumont was granted licence to enter his lands after proving his age.

The original will is still extant and held in the National Archives. Some of the writing has become very faint over the years, but most of it is still legible. The will in itself is neither particularly long nor particularly unconventional. As expected, John made arrangements that "my obytt be held yerely" and left money and belongings to friends and relatives.

There are only two notable facts about the way the will is written. For one, though John started writing the will in (somewhat shaky) Latin, he switched to English about half-way through. The second interesting fact is the very emotive language he used in the bequest to his daughter Joan. Leaving her 1500 marks, John describes her as "my daughter Lovell, my life", which he then followed with the statement that she was "to the wrath of God my son John`s wife". Perhaps unsurprisingly in the light of such condemnation, John Lovell is not left anything in the will.

There is, however, another very interesting bequest in the will. After the bequests to his son and heir William, right in the beginning of the will, and just before the bequest to his daughter Joan, John left "John my son 990 shillings when 10 [??] years after his birth."

This is notable because John Beaumont did not have a son called John. Though he might have had unrecorded children by his first wife Elizabeth Phelip, by 1441, only Henry, who died at the age of eight in 1442, William and Joan survived. John`s second wife, Katherine Neville, was 46 years of age when he married her and therefore too old to give him any more children. Though it is of course possible John had illegitimate children, those would not have been mentioned before his legitimate daughter. "John my son" can, therefore, not have been John Beaumont`s actual son. 

It was, however, perfectly common to both describe not only children-in-law but also stepchildren and grandchildren simply as children. An example of that is found in Cecily Neville`s will, in which she describes her grandson Edmund, Earl of Suffolk, as "my son Edmund" and his brother William as "my son William". Another example is Anne Neville, Duchess of Buckingham`s will in which her grandson Henry is described as her son.

John Beaumont did, in fact, have a stepson called John - John Mowbray, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. However, it is very unlikely he is the "John my son" meant in the bequest. Not only would it be very strange for John Beaumont to mention his stepson before his own daughter, John Mowbray was only six years younger than his stepfather and therefore the condition that something should only happen ten years after his birth would make no sense. The same counts for his son, John Beaumont`s step-grandson, who was already twelve when the will was made.

This means that "John my son" cannot be John`s stepson. Since his son-in-law John Lovell is explicitly identified as his daughter Joan`s husband, it also cannot have been him who was meant, since surely if so, the identifier would have been added to this first mention. It would also make little sense for John Beaumont to mention a son-in-law he obviously despised before his daughter.

This means that "John my son" must have been a grandson, a son of either William or Joan. Though William was 18 when the will was made and could very well have fathered a son by then, it is once more unlikely that John Beaumont would mention an illegitimate grandson before his legitimate daughter. Since William was married to Joan Stafford, daughter of Humphrey, Duke of Buckingham and Anne Neville (mentioned above), who was only born in 1442, it`s all but impossible that he could have had a legitimate son by 1456.

Which means that "John my son" was most likely the oldest son of John Lovell and Joan Beaumont. Though Joan Beaumont was only a year older than her sister-in-law Joan Stafford, she would have just been old enough to have been able to conceive a child that fits the criteria. If so, John Lovell jr must have been born between June 1455, when William Lovell`s will makes it clear that he did not yet have any grandchildren by his sons, and November 1455, seeing as Francis and his twin sister Joan would have to have been conceived in December 1455 to be born in September 1456. Joan, who was born between June and early August 1441, would have been 13 or just turned 14 when he was born, while her husband would have been 22.

There is no other reference I have been able to find for John Lovell jr, but this does not have to mean anything, since there is also no contemporary reference to Francis before 1465. In fact, if he had an older brother who was still alive when he and Joan were born, it might explain why Francis was given his unusual name, rather than named after his father, especially since his father does not seem to have been the type of person who was very tolerant.

There is no evidence how long John Lovell jr might have lived. Possibly, he lived until he was around 8, dying in 1463, which might explain his younger sister Frideswide`s birth a year later, but it is sheerest guesswork.

All that seems clear is that it is almost certain that, despite his mother`s extreme youth even when she had Francis and Joan jr, Francis had an older brother called John, who is mentioned in his grandfather John Beaumont`s will.