Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Volume 31 Section V

Archaeologia Volume 31 Section V is in Archaeologia Volume 31.

Letter of Sir Thomas Stanhope, of Shelford, co. Notts., to Lord Treasurer Burghley, respecting the Funeral of his Mother, Anne Lady Stanhope. Communicated by RICHARD ALMACK, Esq. F.S.A., in a Letter to ALBERT WAY, Esq. M.A., Director.

Read 16 May, 1844.

Melford, Suffolk, May 8th, 1844.


In the valuable collection of Original Letters edited by Sir Henry Ellis (Vol. II. second Series), I observe two in 1569 and 1570 from Lady Stanhope to Sir William Cecill, respecting the unhappy marriage of her daughter with Mr. afterwards Sir John Hotham of Scorborough in Yorkshire, and also Sir John's letter to Cecill, as "Master of the Wards and Lyveries," defending himself, and in which he expatiates on the "Stanhopes eville delinge many wayes," but with less asperity than the lady, who not only reviles him, but, in fact, the whole county of York, and says "especially in Yorkshire, where he may suborne men and women to say what he listeth to serve his devilishe purpose." The lady had purchased the wardship of Hotham, and married him to her daughter, but it appears that after all it was a bad bargain, as she had not purchased his love. The Lord Treasurer Burghley found time for everything, and this lady even troubled him after her death. I shall be glad if you think the letter which I inclose worthy of notice by the Society of Antiquaries; the foolscap sheet is very neatly folded up, and endorsed in Lord Burghley's business-like manner, "6. Ap. 1588, Sr Thomas Stanhoppe, Towchinge his Mothers funeralls." Anne Lady Stanhope was the widow of Sir Michael Stanhope, who was beheaded in 1551 on a charge of conspiring with the Protector Somerset, who had married his half-sister, to assassinate the Duke of Northumberland, the Marquess of Northampton, and the Earl of Pembroke, at a banquet at the Lord Paget's, but his chief offence appears to have been that he was brother-in-law to Somerset. His widow is described by Collins as having "kept continually a worshipful house, relieved the poor daily, gave good countenance and comfort to the preachers of God's word, spent the most of her latter days in prayer, and using the church where God's word was preached." Her son, Sir Thomas, dates his letter from Shelford1 in Nottinghamshire, a dissolved monastery, which with the manor had been granted by Henry VIII. to his father. Sir Thomas was ancestor of several noble families, and his letter shows the magnificence of his ideas, but the dole to the poor at his gate was probably only a continuance or revival of the old custom in the time of his predecessors the monks.

Believe me to be

Very faithfully yours,


ALBERT WAY, Esq., M.A., Director S.A.

Note 1. Shelford House was a garrison for King Charles the First, under the care of Philip Stanhope, son of the first Earl of Chesterfield, the grandson of this Sir Thomas Stanhope. In Mrs. Hutchinson's Memoirs of Col. John Hutchinson is a very interesting and minute account of the storming of this house, the miserable death of Philip Stanhope, and the destruction of the house by fire.

Ryght honorable. My humble duty p̃mised, may it please the same to be adv'tyd I receaved this 5. of Aprill yor Lp [Lordship] l]re of the last of Marche, by whiche I fynd the honorable care yor honor dothe carye to my late good mouther & to the children she hathe leafte behynd her. The contentes of yor Lp pleasure (as I take it) consystethe now in thease too poyntes, the fyrst that it should not be stand in but that my mouthers men should have suche lyvery cotes att her funeralls as her exequytor my brother Mychaell shall geve them, the other for her almes to have it destributed to the Touneshipes nere unto the paryshe wheare she is buried. The duty, right honorable, I beare to my mouther, hathe moved me to desyer her funeralls may be pformed somewhat according to her callyng & to the wyf of him to whom she was wyddow, and to the state of substance whiche she leafte. Toching the tyer of her servantes I stand not muche uppon it, thoughe her will (as I conceave theroff) that thear lyvery cotes should be blacke of cullor is not repugnant to it, but neythar gounes nor clokes ar spoken of to be geven them. Other costes of desency for her buriall & for the relyf of the power [poor] that shall resort thearto my thinkes her will is playn under these wordes. Also, I will that the costes for and aboute my buriall, as well for the power people that shall resorte to the same, as for all other nesessary dutyes, shalbe well and treuly payd and discharged by my Exequtor. Now, ryght honorable, forsomuche as my mouther dyed worth 2000li., as I am credebly informed, and also that her body is interred att the place whear I dwell, my thinkes, under yor favr, it tocheth me muche in reputačon & credit that her funerals should be selebrated here otherwayes then appartayneth in ordinary custome to those of her sort. And the same not being forbydden by her will, the wourld I know will repute the not doing, ayther to the myssery [ie miserly disposition] or carelessenes of her children, & to me in espetiall, or to the want that she leafte not whearwith to bury her self. Agayn, that the power [poor] wch shall resort thethar, being the place wheare I inhabite, & att my one mouthers funeralls, who lykewyse was so charitable to them all her lyf-tyme, should then depart empty would be a reproche I would be most lothe to incurre, for that, I thanke God, & without bost be it spoken, my self doo releve twysse a weeke for the most part 200 att my gates, besydes comers uppon other dayes, whiche custome thoughe it beganne chefely in the dere yere yett is it not leafte, but is the more borne with because of the multytude of the goo abrode, Whearfore what defects of necessary accomplymentes that shalbe att my mouthers funeralls being selebrated here, wilbe attributed & the dyscredit thearof only to me, wch I humbly beseche yor honor to consyder. And to the end I would doo my part therin as becometh me, I have prepared of my prop charges threscore blacke cotes for my men to attend on me att her funeralls. To conclude, ryght honorable, yf the executor refuse to be att suche convenient charges as appartayne, I will not refuse, iff it be put to me, to beare them myself, & will aske hym no alowance thearof, or otherwayes yf he will have the funeralls selebrated att Nottyngham whear she died, wheare her housse & all pvičon of necessaryes to her use were & arre in my Brother Mychaels posession, and where the banyshing of the accesse of the power shalbe no reproche to me, I will come to it having helthe, & that without his charge, & will not contrary any cours he thear taketh, nor will I willingly have varience with any my bretherne, for I have found the most of them very loving unto me. And I know non of them can truly say but that I have ben naturall & resonably benefytiall unto eche of them for my small power, having in effecte no more leafte me then to them, nor have injoyed any wourthe of landes or goodes from my father untell now the death of my dere mouther. dere mouther. And albeit that by her I ought to have a portion att the least as the learned doo informe me, because nothing moveth by desent from her, & that the custome of thease dioses doo geve it so, Yett I assuer yo honor I meane not to trouble my brothers comodety for the wourth of what soevar is dieu to me in this behalf. The maner of using, takynge, or deniing of my right, may phappes move me; howbeit, yf any suche thinge happen, yo' honor shalbe adv'tysed & judge therof yf it please you, and the lyke of all that I posesse, for I have erar found you my espetiall good Lord, & you arre the man from whom I have hade more benefitt then from any other that lyveth. Therfore I honor you from my hart, and doo dayly pray to the Allmyghty that as muche goodnes as can happen to any may be geven from him to you. And so doo humbly take my leave. Shelford, this vj. of Aprill, 1588.

"Yor honors humble coussin

to command ever more,


"To the right honorable his espetiall good L. The L. Burleyghe, L. hyghe Tresaror of England, geve thease."

Sealed on a wafer, with the crest of Stanhope placed between the initials T. S. viz. a tower, issuant therefrom a demi-lyon, crowned, and holding between the paws a fire-ball.