Thursday 21 August 2014

A Little Bit Of History Part Two

This second part deals with the family of Carew of Beddington.  They were a branch of the main Carew family and rose to the heights of society  by means of marriages and closeness to King Henry VIII.  It adds more background to the period and indicates its complications and the risks.


Nicholas was three times Sheriff of Surrey and a Member of Parliament in 1439.  He is thought to be a supporter of the Duke of Exeter, fought in the Wars of the Roses, and at the Battle of St. Albans.  In consequence he was twice pardoned for being on the losing side, probably at some cost to his purse.  He was Sheriff of Surrey in 1440, 1444, and 1448.

He married Margaret, daughter of Sir Roger Fiennes of Herstmonceaux in Sussex, a leading figure of the period.  Sir Roger was a veteran of the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, Treasurer to King Henry VI, and Constable of the Tower of London.  Margaret’s mother, and Sir Roger’s wife was Elizabeth Holland, sister of Sir John Holland of Northamptonshire.

The Holland’s were a major Lancashire family, one of whom, Sir Thomas Holland, rose swiftly by marriage to Joan,  the daughter of Edmund of Woodstock, Earl of Kent, son of King Edward I. Sir Thomas became  Earl of Kent, and it is thought that Sir John Holland was one of a cadet branch of that family.

The Fiennes family arrived in England in 1066 as Kinsmen and Companions of the Conqueror, and take their name from a place close to Guisnes near Boulogne.  Two forebears are known to have been present at the Battle of Hastings, of the nineteen known for certain.  They were Count Eustace of Boulogne, and Hugh de Grandesmil.  An ancestress, Sybil de Tingries, circa 1170, was heiress to the Dukes of Ponthieu, and descendant of the Emperor Charlemagne.

Sir Nicholas Carew died in 1548 and he and Margaret had six known children:

1.  Nicholas Carew, who married Margaret Langford.  He died aged 30 on 3rd August 1466 leaving three year old son, Nicholas, and three young daughters.  The son died young, but after 1474, and Margaret remarried; to John Carent, and contested the probate on behalf of her three daughters, and the litigation being in the hands of the Crown Attorneys took a long time to come to a conclusion.
3.  Isabel, who married a Bukton.
4.  Rose.
5.  Margaret.
6.  Emmeline.


As a younger son whose own inheritance from his brother and nephew was delayed by a series of lawsuits, he found his own fortune in a marriage to a double heiress of high standing.  She was Eleanor of Hoo, who shared with her three sisters and half sister the estate of her father, Sir Thomas of Hoo, Lord of Hoo and Hastings, Knight of the Garter, and son of the Sir Thomas of Hoo who had distinguished himself at the Battle of Agincourt.

Eleanor’s father, Sir Thomas of Hoo had married twice, the second being to Eleanor of Welles, a co-heiress of Lionel, Lord Welles, one of the leading Lancastrian magnates of the period.  The Hoo owned extensive lands in the counties of Sussex, Kent, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire (Luton Hoo), and Norfolk.

There are Hoo chapels at both the Parish Church of Luton, that now houses the organ, and at St. Paul’s Walden where the Hoo chapel shares a prominence with the memorials to the more recent Bowes-Lyon family who are amongst their descendants.  The marriage of James to an heiress of the Hoo gave entry to the complicated life and world of the landed elite of the 15th Century.

Sir Thomas of Hoo, Lord of Hoo and Hastings, was a major figure during the early reign of King Henry VI active in both government and military expeditions.  During one campaign in France in the Caux area in Normandy five thousand peasants died, and twenty thousand more were driven into Brittany causing misery and chaos on a large scale.  This may have been a punitive expedition in retaliation for and to deter the persistent raiding and slave taking of the French and other Corsairs and Pirates along the south coast of England.

He was made Baron, and Knight of the Garter.  A daughter, Anne, by his first marriage to Elizabeth of Wytchingham in Norfolk married Sir Geoffrey Boleyn of Blicking.  They were the great grandparents of Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, and so forebears to Queen Elizabeth I.   The tomb of Anne of Hoo is in the chancel of Norwich Cathedral.  Above on the arches are the arms of her family and ancestors, including Hoo and St. Leger.  During her reign, Queen Elizabeth I paid a state visit to Norwich and was enthroned in Norwich Cathedral facing the tomb as a mark of respect.

Sir Thomas of Hoo was succeeded by his half-brother, also Sir Thomas of Hoo who also left no male heir, so the Hastings title later was given to William Hastings the chief minister to King Edward IV.  William Lord Hastings was executed by King Richard III.  Sir Thomas of Hoo died in 1455, and was buried at Battle Abbey near Hastings.  At the time of the Reformation, when the Abbey was destroyed, the Fiennes family, then low on funds, and unable to complete the family tomb at Herstmonceaux, removed the Hoo effigies and recycled and repainted them to become memorials to the Fiennes.

Sir Thomas’ second marriage to Eleanor Welles, the daughter of Lionel, Lord Welles, brought close connections to the Plantagenet Beaufort family through the second marriage of Lord Welles.  This Eleanor was the daughter of Lord Welles first marriage to Cecilia Waterton of Methley, Yorkshire, grand-daughter of the Sir Robert Waterton who rode with King Henry IV and the Teutonic Knights in the Crusade of Lithuania, before Henry overthrew King Richard II.  Waterton was Constable of Pontefract Castle when the deposed King Richard II died there.

Lionel Lord Welles was also a Knight of the Garter and his second wife, Margaret, widow of John, Duke of Somerset, was the grandmother of King Henry VII.  Lionel’s son by her, John, was made Viscount when he was given the hand of Cecilia, daughter of King Edward IV in marriage on the overthrow of King Richard III at the Battle of Market Bosworth in 1485 in which John had a leading role.  Lionel was one of the thirty thousand casualties at the Battle of Towton, near Tadcaster in Yorkshire, in 1461, and is buried with his first wife, Cecilia, in the Waterton Tomb at the Parish Church of Methley, in Yorkshire.

James Carew, on the other hand, lived out his life until 1492 on one or other of his Sussex manors whilst the nobility engaged in their wars of attrition.  When his elder brother, Nicholas, died he left one son, who died young, and three daughters, and it was litigation amongst these that held up the inheritance of Beddington.  James and Eleanor had one known surviving child, RICHARD CAREW, who had an inheritance that brought him close to the ruling monarchs.


Richard was Knighted by the Kings own hand in 1497 on the field of Blackheath where a force, hastily assembled from the local counties, faced an army of 15,000 Cornishmen in arms over the levels of taxation.  In 1501 he was Sheriff of Surrey, and in 1509 was Lieutenant of Calais.  Also, he was Master of the Ordnance, and in 1520 had responsibility for the arrangements for the Field of the Cloth of Gold, when King Henry VIII and his Court met with King Francis of France for a long period of feasting, tourneys, and political negotiation.  Richard is said to have died from overwork as a consequence.

He married Malyn or Matilda, the daughter of Sir Robert Oxenbridge of Brede Place in Sussex, who was the widow of William Cheney of Sheppey, also connected to the Boleyn family.  There are five known children of the marriage:

1.  Margaret, who married John St. John.
2.  Elizabeth, who married Sir Thomas Fettiplace.
3.  Anne Carew who married Nicholas Leigh of Addington
4.  Sir Nicholas Carew (see below), 1496-1539.
5.  Mary, who married Sir William Pelham.

Sir Nicholas Carew, picture above by Holbein, was one of the major figures in the court of King Henry VIII.  He was at Court at a young age, and was with his father in Calais.  Groom of the Privy Chamber, Keeper of Greenwich, Esquire of the Body (one of the six Companions to the King), Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex 1518 and 1519, Master of the Horse from 1515 until his death, Nicholas was one of the King’s closest men, and King Henry attended his wedding to Ann Bryan in 1514.

He was a notable figure at the tournaments that were such a feature of the reign of King Henry.  He was in attendance on the King at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520, and served in the expeditionary force to Picardy in 1522.  Also, Nicholas was a Member of Parliament as a Knight of the Shire for Surrey.

By the end of the 1520’s stresses had become evident in the Court.  The publication of the New Testament in English by Tyndale and the rise of Protestant feeling, the great question of the King’s Divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and the serious budgetary problems arising from the King’s expenditures and wars that had spent the surplus accrued by his father, all began to tear at the old relationships.

Nicholas was sympathetic to the cause of Queen Catherine and her daughter Mary, despite his blood relationship to Anne Boleyn.  Also, he had become close to the French during a period as Ambassador there from 1527, King Francis asked King Henry to make Nicholas a Knight of the Garter as a personal gesture.

The death of Queen Catherine in 1536, the beheading of Anne Boleyn in the same year, and then the death of Queen Jane, with the fiasco over Queen Anne of Cleves, all contributed to the uncertainty.  Moreover, the health of the King had begun to deteriorate; contenders for the succession had begun to jostle for position, and the King’s paranoia worsened.  Worse for Sir Nicholas, the King had embarked on a scheme to make most of Surrey a Royal Hunting Forest, and the lands of Sir Nicholas were largely in Surrey.

It is said that Nicholas fell into final disfavour because of his connections with the Pole family and the Marquess of Exeter, on several of whom the axe fell, as well as his close connections with France.  All these had become suspect to the King.  On a visit to the Great Hall at Beddington, the King could not fail to see the large shield bearing all the full achievement of arms of the Carew lineage over several generations.  These included families of Plantagenet blood, and in descents of lines that were wholly legitimate, and superior to that of the questionable Beaufort ancestry of the King’s.

When King Henry VIII declared his marriage to Catherine of Aragon void, and decreed that the Princess Mary was a bastard, he raised the ghost of the Beaufort issue of the children of John of Gaunt by Katharine Swynford.  Additionally, it is likely that the Carew descents from the Kings of Wales and Scotland were superior to those of the King, as well as the French ancestry embedded in the Plantagenet.

Sir Nicholas was only one of a number of men in this position, any of whom might attempt a coup if they could raise the necessary support, just as King Henry VII had done in 1485.  So King Henry VIII had cause for constant vigilance, and in time this became an element in his tyranny, and cost many people their lives.  Sir Nicholas was arrested, brought quickly to trial, and executed in March 1539, as yet another victim of the King’s suspicion and intolerance of criticism.

Sir Nicholas Carew and Ann left a son and four daughters, one of whom Anne, married Sir Nicholas Throckmorton of Coughton Court, Warwickshire, one of the chief ministers and ambassadors of Queen Elizabeth I in the early years of her reign.  Their son and heir, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, added the name of Carew to his own, and their youngest daughter, Elizabeth, also known as Bess, became one of the Maids of Honour to Queen Elizabeth.

As such she was a personal favourite in whose interest the Queen took a close interest.  In 1592 however, she became with child by Sir Walter Raleigh, married secretly, and as a consequence found herself confined to the Tower of London with her husband.  In order to try and win back favour he made further expeditions to the America’s.

These were not successful and he fell more out of favour in 1603 when King James came to the throne.  Raleigh returned to the Tower in 1606 until his execution by beheading in 1618.

There is a legend that he was finally buried at Beddington, despite the belief that he is at St. Margarets’, Westminster.  Bess kept his head in a red bag that was always with her and lay on her bed at her death in 1647 at the age of 82.


So much of history seems to have a certainty and logic in what we are told.  It was very different.


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