The parting of Sir Thomas More and his daughter
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More was a ready writer and not a few of his works remained in manuscript until some years after his death, while several have been lost altogether. Of all his writings the most famous is unquestionably the Utopia, first published at Louvain in 1516. The volume recounts the fictitious travels of one Raphael Hythlodaye, a mythical character, who, in the course of a voyage to America, was left behind near Cape Frio and thence wandered on till he chanced upon the Island of Utopia ("nowhere") in which he found an ideal constitution in operation. The whole work is really an exercise of the imagination with much brilliant satire upon the world of More's own day. Real persons, such as Peter Giles, Cardinal Morton, and More himself, take part in the dialogue with Hythlodaye, so that an air of reality pervades the whole which leaves the reader sadly puzzled to detect where truth ends and fiction begins, and has led not a few to take the book seriously. But this is precisely what More intended, and there can be no doubt that he would have been delighted at entrapping William Morris, who discovered in it a complete gospel of Socialism or Cardinal Zigliara, who denounced it as "no less foolish than impious" as he must have been with his own contemporaries who proposed to hire a ship and send out missionaries to his non-existent island. The book ran through a number of editions in the original Latin version and, within a few years, was translated into German, Italian, French, Dutch, Spanish, and English.
- "Luciani Dialogi . . .compluria opuscula . . . ab Erasmo Roterodamo et Thoma Moro interpretibus optimis in Latinorum lingua traducta . . ." (Paris, 1506)
- "Here is conteigned the lyfe of John Picus, Earle of Mirandula . . ." (London, 1510)
- "Historie of the pitiful life and unfortunate death of Edward the fifth and the then Duke of York his brother . . .", printed incomplete in the "English Works" (1557) and reissued with a completion from Hall's Chronicle by Wm. Sheares (London, 1641)
- "Thomae Mori v.c. Dissertatio Epistolica de aliquot sui temporis theologastrorum ineptiis . . ." (Leyden, 1625)
- Epigrammata. Thomae Mori Britanni, pleraque e Graecis versa. (Basle, 1518) Eruditissimi viri Gul. Rossi Opus elegans quo pulcherrime retegit ac refellit insanas Lutheri calumnias (London, 1523), written at the request of Henry VIII in answer to Luther's reply to the royal "Defensio Septem Sacramentorum"
- "A dyaloge of Syr Thomas More Knyght . . .of divers maters, as of the veneration and worshyp of ymages and relyques, praying to sayntys and goyng on pylgrymage . . ." (London, 1529)
- "The Supplycacyon of Soulys" (London, 1529[?]), written in answer to Fish's "Supplication of the Beggars"
- "Syr Thomas More's answer to the fyrste parte of the poysoned booke . . . named 'The Souper of the Lorde'" (London, 1532)
- "The Second parte of the Confutacion of Tyndal's Answere . . ." (London, 1533) these two works together form the most lengthy of all More's writings besides Tindal, Robert Barnes is dealt with in the last book of the whole
- "A Letter impugnynge the erronyouse wrytyng of John Fryth against the Blessed Sacrament of the Aultare" (London, 1533)
- "The Apologye of Syr Thomas More, Hnyght, made by him anno 1533, after he had given over the office of Lord Chancellour of Englande" (London, 1533)
- "The Debellacyon of Salem and Bizance" (London, 1533), an answer to the anonymous work entitled "Salem and Bizance", and vindicating the severe punishment of heresy
- "A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation . . ." (London, 1553).
- An unfinished treatise "uppon those words of Holy Scripture, 'Memorare novissima et in eternum non peccabis'", dated 1522
- "Treatise to receive the blessed Body of our Lorde, sacramentally and virtually both"
- "Treatise upon the Passion" unfinished
- "Certein devout and vertuouse Instruccions, Meditacions and Prayers"
- some letters written in the Tower, including his touching correspondence with his daughter Margaret.
The last letter of Sir Thomas More, 1535
The following letter was written to More’s daughter Margaret on 5 July 1535, the day before his execution. More wrote with a stick of charcoal on cloth King Henry VIII had ordered his books and writing materials to be removed.
More had been appointed Lord Chancellor upon Wolsey’s fall in 1529. He was already a respected philosopher and writer throughout Europe. But to his English contemporaries, he was most famous as a lawyer. He was a brilliant jurist he served in parliament and on diplomatic missions. Unlike most royal servants, he had unimpeachable integrity. He could not be bribed. He believed, above all else, in the impartial supremacy of the law. As Chancellor, he worked industriously to promote justice and faith in the courts. However, he resigned in 1532 when the king’s determination to annul his marriage to Katharine of Aragon caused Henry to reject papal authority in England.
More was deeply pious. He recognized the abuses of the Catholic church, but he believed it could reform itself from within. He could not accept spiritual reformation via secular power. As a young man, he had been torn between a career in the church and a career in law. Though he had chosen the latter, he never lost his passion for theology.
After resigning the chancellorship, More retired to his family home. He attempted to live modestly and quietly, hoping to be left alone. But he was too famous and respected to be forgotten. Henry VIII knew that his controversial reformation would be far more credible if men such as More accepted it. As the premier intellectual in England, More’s opinion was too important to remain his own.
It should be noted that More accepted parliament’s ability to decide the succession in favor of the king’s children with Anne Boleyn, for it was a legal issue and parliament was within rights to decide it. However, he would not take an oath recognizing Henry’s position as Supreme Head of a new English church. He simply could not repudiate the spiritual authority of the papacy.
And so he was arrested in the spring of 1534. He was kept in the Tower of London for over a year, under increasingly harsh conditions. The king hoped that imprisonment would alter More’s disposition. It did not. More was finally charged with high treason and tried at Westminster on 1 July 1533. Despite his brilliant defense, he was found guilty and executed on 6 July. The news shocked all of Europe. It remains the most famous example of judicial murder during Henry’s reign. More was later canonized by the Catholic church.
Our Lord bless you, good daughter, and your good husband, and your little boy, and all yours, and all my children, and all my god-children and all our friends. Recommend me when ye may to my good daughter Cecily, whom I beseech Our Lord to comfort and I send her my blessing and to all her children, and pray her to pray for me. I send her a handkercher, and God comfort my good son, her husband. My good daughter Daunce hath the picture in parchment that you delivered me from my Lady Coniers, her name on the back. Show her that I heartily pray her that you may send it in my name to her again, for a token from me to pray for me.
I like special well Dorothy Colly. I pray you be good unto her. I would wot whether this be she that you wrote me of. If not, yet I pray you be good to the other as you may in her affliction, and to my good daughter Jane Aleyn too. Give her, I pray you, some kind answer, for she sued hitherto me this day to pray you be good to her.
I cumber you, good Margaret, much, but I would be sorry if it should be any longer than to-morrow, for it is St. Thomas’s even, and the utas of St. Peter and therefore, to-morrow long I to go to God. It were a day very meet and convenient for me.
I never liked your manner towards me better than when you kissed me last for I love when daughterly love and dear charity hath no leisure to look to worldly courtesy. Farewell, my dear child, and pray for me, and I shall for you and all your friends, that we may merrily meet in heaven. I thank you for your great cost. I send now my good daughter Clement her algorism stone, and I send her and my godson and all hers God’s blessing and mine. I pray you at time convenient recommend me to my good son John More. I liked well his natural fashion. Our Lord bless him and his good wife, my loving daughter, to whom I pray him to be good, as he hath great cause and that, if the land of mine come to his hands, he break not my will concerning his sister Daunce. And the Lord bless Thomas and Austin, and all that they shall have.
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Sir Thomas More & Daughter - History
“I wish we were a humble family,” said Margaret passionately to Mercy. “Then we might stay together and attract no attention to ourselves.”
“We should have no education,” Mercy reminded her. “And can you imagine Father as a man of no education? No, as he says, there is good and bad in life and there is bad in the good and good in the bad and the only way to live is to accept the one with the other. Enjoy one endure the other.”
“It is borrowed wisdom … borrowed from Father.”
Mercy was happy that year in spite of the pending departure of Thomas, and the reason was that there was a new member of this ever-growing household. This was John Clement, a protégé of the Cardinal's, a young man in his late teens who was to accompany Thomas as his secretary and attendant on the mission to Flanders.
John Clement was a serious and very learned person—a young man after Thomas's own heart—and a warm welcome was given him in the house of his new master. Young Clement quickly became a member of that happy family group, but he found that she who interested him most was not one of the Mores, but Mercy Gigs.
He sought every opportunity of talking with her. He was several years older than she was, but it seemed to him that he had never met a girl of her age so solemnly self-contained and if she was not quite so learned as Margaret, her scholarship lay in that subject which most interested him.
He never forgot the rapt expression in her eyes when he told her that he had studied medicine at Oxford.
“You are interested in medicine, Mistress Mercy?” he asked.
Now they had a subject which they could discuss together Thomas watched them with pleasure. My little Mercy is growing up, he thought. They are all growing up. In two or three years it will be necessary to find husbands for Mercy and Margaret—and Ailie too, though she will doubtless find one for herself.
It was a dream materializing, an ideal becoming palpable. When he had decided on giving up the monk's life for that of a family man, he had visualized a household very like the one which was now his. Had he ever imagined such love as he had for Margaret? Nay, the reality was greater than he had foreseen. And when she marries she must never leave me, he thought, for without Margaret I would not wish to live. And Mercy here is as dear to me as are my own children. Did ever a man possess such a learned and aflectionate daughter as Margaret, such charming children as those who made up his household? And Alice herself, she was neither a pearl nor a girl, but he was fond of her and he knew that her sharp words often hid kindly motives. Where could he find a better housekeeper? And surely she was the best of mothers to his children, for it was well to have a touch of spice in the sweetest dish. There might be times when his beloved children were in need of chastisement, and how could he administer a whipping? He was a coward where such matters were concerned. What could he whip his children with but a peacocks feather? Yet Mistress Alice shirked not the task.
He was a lucky man. He must not complain that his life away from his family was not all that he could wish. So many men craved the King's favor so many would have been honored to call the Cardinal their friend. He wanted too much of life. He must make the best of his new honors he must steal away from them as often as he could, to be with his books and his family and he must be grateful to God for the good life which was his.
Was ever man so loved? Very few, he believed. Only yesterday, when the children were talking together of what they wished for most, he had wandered by and heard their talk. Mercy had said: “If I could wish for something, I would wish I were Fathers true daughter.”
And when he had found her alone, he had said to her: “Mercy, you have no need to wish for what is already yours. To me you are exactly as though you are my true daughter.”
She had blushed and faltered and said: “Father, I meant that I wished I were your daughter as Margaret, Elizabeth and Cecily are.”
“That matters not at all, Mercy, my child. I see you as my daughter—my true daughter—as much as any of the others. You are as dear to me.”
“I know it, Father,” she said. “But…”
“But, Mercy, if that love which is between us two is as strong as the love which is between me and the daughters of my own body, what difference can there be! You delight me, Mercy. You are all that I could wish for in a daughter. You must not wish for something which is already yours … in all that matters. I remember when you were a little girl and I took you to task for some small fault, your distress hurt me as much as the distress of any of the others would have done.”
She caught his hand and kissed it. “In those days,” she said, “I sometimes committed those faults that you might talk to me alone … even though it was to reprimand me.”
“Poor little Mercy! You felt you were left out then? You were the foster child? You wished to have attention … even if, to gain it, you must seem at fault?”
“It was that,” she answered. “But it was also that I might have the pleasure of standing before you and that you should be thinking of me … me … alone. Me … by myself, without Margaret.”
“Oh, Mercy … Mercy … you must not have such a high opinion of me. We must not set up gods on Earth, you know.”
She said: “I have set up nothing. I have lifted up my eyes and seen.”
He laughed. “Now to talk sense. Your wish was that you could be my true daughter. Now that you know there was no need for such a wish, what other wish have you, my child? Suppose I were a king with all the wealth in the world at my disposal, and I said I would grant you a favor, what would you say?”
She did not hesitate. “I would ask for a big house to which I could bring the sick and care for them, and gradually learn more and more, that I should know not only how to cure but prevent disease.”
“That's a noble wish, Mercy. Would I were a king… solely that I might grant it.”
So he watched her with John Clement, and his heart warmed toward them both for he wished his girls to marry and have families. That was the happiest life, he was sure he had proved it. And while Thomas was preparing to depart on his embassy, Mercy and John Clement were often together, and they talked of the terrible sickness which had taken a hold of the City.
“ 'Tis a marvelous thing,” said Mercy, “that there is not a single case of sickness here in Bucklersbury.”
“I have a theory on that matter,” said John Clement eagerly. “This street lacks the maleficent odors of other streets. Here we do not smell unpleasantness, but sweetness … the smell of musk, the smell of spices and perfumes and unguents.”
“Do you think, then, that the sickness comes from evil smells?”
“I believe this may be so and if this street, as I believe has been the case in past epidemics, has not a single sufferer of the sweat while scarce a house in the rest of the City escapes, then might there not be something in the theory?”
“Why,” she cried, “when Erasmus was here he condemned our houses. He did not like them at all. He said the rooms were built in such a way as to allow no ventilation. Our casements let in light, but not air and the houses are so drafty. He said our custom of covering our floors with clay on which we laid rushes was a harmful one—particularly as in the poor cottages those rushes are not changed for twenty years. I know how angry Mother used to be when he complained about our rushes, although they were changed once a week. He said we should have windows that opened wide. He said that we ate too much—too many salted meats. He said our streets were filthy and a disgrace to a country that called itself civilized.”
“He sounds a very fierce gentleman.”
“He was … in some ways. In others he was mild. But I think there may be something in what he said about our houses, do you not, Master Clement?”
“I am terrified that the sickness will come to this house. But I am glad that Father is leaving the country just now
. He at least will get away from these pestiferous streets. You also, Master Clement…. But… it would be terrible if anything happened here … while he is gone. What should I do if any take die sickness?”
“You can do nothing about the drafts and the lack of good air in the house, of course. But I believe more frequent sweetening would prevent the disease coming here. Here is a good mixture for any afflicted: marigold, endive, sowthistle and nightshade—three handfuls of all seethe them in conduit water—a quart of this strain into a vessel with a little sugar. This will remove the sourness. Let the patient drink it. The patient should keep warm and lie in his bed when first the sweat takes him. If he is dressed, keep him dressed and if he is undressed let him stay undressed, but cover up the bed… cover it well. I have known men and women recover when so treated.”
“Marigold, endive, nightshade and sowthistle. I will remember that.”
“I will tell you how to make the philosophers egg. Now, that is an excellent remedy for the sweat. It can be prepared in advance and you can keep it for years. In fact, it improves with keeping.”
“That would delight me greatly. Do tell me.”
“You take an egg and break a hole in it and take the yolk from the white as cleanly as you can. Fill the shell with the yolk and some saffron then close the ends with eggshell. Put it in the embers and leave it until it be hard and can be made into a fine powder.”
Ailie came over to where they sat she eyed them mischievously.
“What is it that interests you so much that you forget aught else?” she wanted to know.
“Master Clement is telling me how to make the philosopher's egg.”
“The philosophers egg! You mean that which changes base metals into gold or silver? Oh, Master Clement, I beg of you to tell me your secret.”
“You misunderstand,” said John Clement soberly.
“The philosophers egg” explained Mercy. “You think of the philosophers stone”
“And what magic powers hath this egg?”
“It cures the sick,” said Mercy.
“I would rather the stone,” said Ailie.
“Heed her not,” said Mercy with some impatience. “She loves to jest.”
Ailie stood by smiling at them, and John Clement went on: “You will need white mustard, dittony and termontell with a dram of crownuts you must also add angelica and pimpernel, four grains of unicorns horn if you can get it. All these must be mixed with treacle until they hang to the pestle. I will write this out for you to keep. When this substance is made it can be put into glass boxes, and kept for years. Its great virtue is that the longer you keep it the better.”
“Oh thank you. I shall never forget your kindness.”
Ailie went to Cecily and whispered: “See how friendly they are becoming.”
“What is it he gives her?” asked Cecily.
“It is a love letter,” said Ailie. “To think that Mercy should have a lover before me.”
“Love letter! You are wrong, Ailie. It is a recipe for some medicine, I'll swear.”
“Ah, my dear little Cecily, that may be. But there are many kinds of love letters.”
And Ailie pouted, for she said she liked it not that any of the girls should have a lover before she did.
Alice laughed at the two young people. “Master More, what strange daughters you have! They love Latin verse better than fine clothes, and exchange recipes when other youths and maidens exchange love tokens.”
“That may be,” said Thomas, “but with my family—and this fits every member of it—with my family, I am well pleased.”
“Tilly valley!” said Alice but she herself was no less pleased.
THOMAS WROTE home regularly while he was away from them.
They must write to him for, he said, he missed them sorely, and it was only when he received their letters that he could be happy. He wanted to hear everything, no matter how trivial it seemed to them if it concerned his home, that was enough to delight him. “There is no excuse for you girls,” he wrote. “Cannot girls always find something to chatter about? That is what I want you to do, my darlings. Take up your pens and chatter to your father.”
There was always a special compliment if Jack wrote anything. Poor Jack, now that he was growing up he was beginning to realize how difficult it was for a normal, healthy boy to compete with such brilliant sisters. Alice said it was God's rebuke on his father for having prated so much and so consistently about the equality of men's and women's brains when all the rest of the world opined that men were meant to be the scholars. Here are your brilliant daughters, perhaps God had said. And your son shall be a dullard.
Not that Jack was a dullard by any means he was merely normal. He could not love lessons as he loved the outdoor life. Therefore his father wrote to his son very tenderly and cherished his efforts with the pen, encouraging him, understanding that all cannot love learning as some do.
He wrote enthusiastically to Margaret. He could not help it if writing to Margaret gave him pleasure which was greater than anything else he could enjoy during his sojourn abroad.
He was writing a book, which had long been in his mind, he told her. It consisted of imaginary conversations between himself and a man who had come from a strange land, which was called Utopia. They discussed the manners and customs of this land. The writing of this book was giving him great pleasure, and when he came home he would enjoy reading it to her.
“I showed one of your Latin essays to a very great man, Margaret. He is a great scholar, and you will be gratified when I tell you who he is. Reginald Pole. My dearest, he was astonished. He said that but for the fact that I assured him this was so, he would not have believed a girl—or anyone your age, boy or girl—could have done such work unaided. My dearest child, how can I explain to you my pride?”
He was a very proud man. He kept his children's writings with him, that he might read them through when he felt dejected and homesick nor could he refrain from showing them to his friends and boasting a little. His pride and joy in his family was profound. He wrote to them:
I hope that a letter to you all may find you in good health and that your father's good wishes may keep you so. In the meantime, while I make a long journey, drenched by soaking rain, and while my mount too frequently is bogged down in the mud, I compose this for you to give you pleasure. You will then gather an indication of your father's feelings for you—how much more than his own eyes he loves you for the mud, the miserable weather and the necessity for driving a small horse through deep waters have not been able to distract my thoughts from you.…
Then he went on to tell them how he had always loved them and how he longed to be with them:
At the moment my love has increased so much that it seems to me that I used not to love you at all. Your characteristics tug at my heart, so bind me to you, that my being your father (the only reason for many a father's love) is hardly a reason at all for my love for you. Therefore, most dearly beloved children, continue to endear yourselves to your father, and by those same accomplishments, which make me think that I had not loved you before, make me think hereafter (for you can do it) that I do not love you now….
And so they waited, while the sweating sickness passed over Bucklersbury, for the return of the father whom they loved.
ONE DAY after his return when the family were gathered at the table, Thomas said to them: “I have a surprise for you all. There is to be a new addition to our family. I hope you will all make him welcome. I find him an interesting and charming person. I am sure you will too.”
“Is it a man?” asked Ailie, her eyes sparkling.
“Not a gray-bearded scholar this time, Father!”
“Half right and half wrong. A scholar but not a gray-bearded one. He is, I gather, some twenty years of age.”
“It is to be hoped he has not the finical manners of that Erasmus,” said Alice. “I want no more such foreig
ners in the house.”
“Nay, Alice, he is not a foreigner. He is an Englishman and I doubt you will find him overfinical. He is of a very good family, I must tell you, and he comes to study the law with me.”
“Father,” cried Margaret, “how will you have time to help a young man with his studies, do your law work and serve the King and the Cardinal? You do too much. We shall never have you with us.”
“Do not scold me, Meg. I'll warrant you'll like Friend Roper. He is a serious young man, a little quiet, so he'll not disturb you overmuch. I think he will be ready to join our family circle.”
So William Roper came to the house—a young man of quiet manners and seeming meekness, but, Margaret noticed, with an obstinate line to his mouth. There was one thing about him that Margaret liked, and that was his devotion to her father. It was quite clear that the young man had decided to follow in Thomas's footsteps whenever possible.
John Clement, who had returned to the household of the Cardinal, came to the house whenever he could and in a few months it became clear that Will Roper and John Clement looked upon The Barge in Bucklersbury as their home.
Margaret was thirteen when Will Roper came he was twenty yet in spite of the difference in their ages, Margaret felt as old as he was. As John Clement sought Mercy's company, Will Roper sought Margaret's and this fact made Ailie pout a little. There was she, by far the prettiest of the three of them, and yet the two eligible young men at the house seemed to seek the friendship of Margaret and Mercy.
“Not,” she said to Cecily who was herself a little frivolous, “that we could call such as John Clement and Will Roper men one is always sniffing herbs and cures, and the other always has his nose in his law books. Now that Father is at Court, perhaps he will bring home some real men … for you, Cecily, and for me. I doubt whether Margaret or Mercy would be interested.”
The King stopped and stared at her. Then she must have become aware of the fact that he was not alone. She jumped to her feet and fell on her knees.
“What do you here, girl?” demanded the King.
“I crave Your Grace's pardon. I… but… I thought… Your Grace desired my presence here.”
She rose, and Thomas recognized her as Mary Boleyn, the King's mistress. Her gaze was almost defiant as she looked at Thomas. There was in that look a certainty that the King's displeasure could not last.
“You have our leave to retire,” said the King.
She curtsied and took two or three steps backward to the door.
Thomas noticed how the King watched her, his mouth slackening, his eyes a brighter blue.
“Come in, come in, man,” he said almost testily. “Ah, there is where you may sit. Now, look you, these notes are to be made into a great book. You understand me? A great book! You know how to write books. Well, that is what you must do for me.”
The King's attention was straying, Thomas knew his thoughts had left the room with that dark-haired girl.
Henry said: “If there is anything you want, ask for it. Start now. See what you can do with these notes … and later … when you have something ready, you may bring it to me.”
The King was smiling. His mood had changed he was already away with the girl who had just left.
“Do your work well, Master More. You will not regret it. I like to reward those who please me….”
The King went out, and Thomas sat down to look at the notes.
He found it difficult to concentrate. He thought of the King and the dark-eyed girl he thought of Surrey and Bess Holland he thought of the sharp eyes of Suffolk, the wily ones of old Norfolk, and of Thomas Wolsey, who was cleverer than any of them.
And he longed, as he had never longed before, for the peace of his home.
ADJUSTING THE King's notes was a pleasant task, except that it kept him more than ever away from his family. Many times he had been on the point of slipping home to Bucklersbury when a messenger had come to tell him that the King was asking why he was not in his presence.
Henry liked him. He liked the way in which the work was shaping. He read it and reread it and he glowed with pride.
“Ah,” he would cry, “here's the answer to Master Luther. Read it, Kate.”
The Queen would read, and she also was delighted, for she hated the German monk even more than Henry did.
“Would I had him here … that German monk!” the King would cry. “He should die … die for the insults he has heaped upon my mother. For my mother is the Church. Ha, Kate, you will see what we shall do with this trumpeter of prides, calumnies and schisms. He is a member of the Devil. He is a low-liver. Mark my words on that. Only the immoral could lose the faith of their fathers in such a way. We are bound to the See of Rome. We could not honor it too much. Anything we could do would not be too great. I swear it.”
“Your Grace will forgive me,” interjected Thomas, “but those words you have uttered would, in a court of law, be called maintaining papal jurisdiction in England.”
“What's that? What's that?” cried Henry.
“I was thinking, my lord King, of the Statute of Praemunire.”
“Ha!” laughed the King. “Here's a lawyer for us, Kate. A writ issued against a King in his own realm, eh? Ha, Thomas More, they are right to call you an honest man. You do well to speak thus before your King. He likes you for it. But I say this: So do I love the Papacy that I would hold nothing back to defend it. Remember, Master More, from that See we receive our Crown Imperial.”
“I must put Your Highness in remembrance of one thing,” said Thomas. “The Pope, as Your Grace knows, is a Prince, as you are yourself, and is in league with other princes. It could fall out that Your Grace and His Holiness may at some time vary in your opinions. I think therefore that his authority might be more lightly touched upon in the book.”
“But I tell you, Master More, so are we bound to the See of Rome that we could not do too much to honor it.”
“Then it is my bounden duty to remind Your Grace again of the Statute of Praemunire.”
“Have no fear, Master More. Have no fear. We know well how to look to these matters. And continue with us as you always have been. We like your honesty.”
And as the book progressed, so did the friendship between Thomas and the King and Queen. He must sup at the King's table he must walk with the King on the terraces and he must linger at the Palace until darkness fell, for the Queen had heard that he knew as much of the spheres that moved in the heavens as any man at Court and the Queen wished him to instruct her.
“The King himself would like to be there at the instruction,” said Henry. “For while governing this kingdom here on Earth, he would like to learn something of the kingdom of the skies.”
So in the evenings Thomas would be on the balconies of the Palace, the Queen on his left hand, the King on his right, the courtiers ranged about them while he pointed out the constellations to the watching group.
“How the King favors this man!” said the courtiers. “He is next to the Cardinal himself in the King's favor.”
They would note the Queens smile as she pointed out how brilliant Orion was that night, and humbly asked if she was right in assuming that the two brilliant points of light in the western sky were the twins, Castor and Pollux, and was that Procyon down in the west-south-west?
They would hear the loud, booming laughter of the King as he declared that the constellation called Cassiopeia did not to him look in the least like a lady in a chair they would notice how many times the glittering hand would come down upon the somberly clad shoulder of Thomas More.
“The King seems more interested in the Pleiades than in Mary Boleyn!” it was whispered among the ladies who watched such matters, for many of them hoped that one day the royal eyes would be turned from Mary Boleyn toward them.
When the book was finished, and such learned men as Fisher, Stephen Gardiner and Wolsey himself had studied it and declared it to be of sound good sense in perfect literary style, the King was so pleased that he said he would have no more of Master More in attendance in future it should be Sir Thomas More.
HENRY THE King was deeply gratified. The book was acclaimed throughout Europe by all those who stood against Martin Luther. It was hailed now as a work of genius. The Pope was delighted with his English champion, but he demurred a little at bestowing the title asked for he had to consider the wrath and jealousy of Francis and Charles, of whom he lived in perpetual fear. But eventually Henrys bribes and offers of friendship prevailed, and the King of England was known throughout the Catholic world as “Defender of the Faith.”
But Martin Luther was not the man to ignore the publication of the book he poured scorn on it and the King of England at the same time. Henry nominated Sir Thomas More to answer Luther in the name of the King of England.
Thomas had not only his title he was now made Under-Treasurer of the Exchequer—Norfolk himself was the Treasurer— and so had become an important member of the King's Council. Thus did the man in the hair shirt become one of those ministers in constant attendance upon the King.
Luther wrote scurrilous attacks on Henry Thomas replied with equally scurrilous attacks on the German monk. And Margaret, reading those replies her father was writing in the name of the King, would often feel depressed and uneasy. It seemed to her that she had lost the father she had once known. The gentle, courteous man had become a master of invective. It made Margaret shudder to read: “Reverend brother, father, tippler, Luther, runagate of the order of St Augustine, misshapen bacchanal of either faculty, unlearned doctor of theology …” How could her gentle father have written such words? How could he have gone on to say that Luther had called his companions together and desired them to go each his own way and pick up all sorts of abuse and scurrility—one to gambling houses, another to the taverns and b
arbers' shops, another to the brothels?
What is the Court doing to my father? she asked herself.
When he came home she saw the change in him. There was a fierceness of manner about him. She knew that the hair shirt, which she still washed for him, was worn more frequently she knew that he used a piece of wood for his pillow, so that he might not find easy sleep. There was a new emotion in his life, which had never been there before it was hatred for the heretics.
“Father,” she said, “you have changed.”
“Nay, daughter, I am the same as ever.”
“I do not altogether understand,” she said, “for you and Erasmus at one time would talk of the wickedness in the monasteries. You planned to set certain matters right in the Church. This Martin Luther … does he not think as once you and Erasmus did?”
She thought of Erasmus, essentially a scholar. Now that the work he had started had been taken up by another, he wanted none of it he would retire to his scholars desk, to the life of reflection, not of action. Margaret felt that that was the life her father should have chosen. But the King had forced him to the forefront of the fight, and it was the King's battle he was using words the King would have used. If he had been any other man she would have believed he did so in order to curry favor.
“A change has been wrought in these affairs, Meg,” he said. “Erasmus and I once sought to set right what was wrong. This monk seeks to destroy the Church and to set up in its place another which is founded on heresy.”
“But those words you have written of him … I… I could not believe that you had written them.”
“I have written them, Meg. Doubt not that. As I see it, we have to fight a greater evil, in those who would destroy the Church, than we had when we fought those who only abused it. Meg, the Church still stands … the Holy Catholic Church. To destroy it would bring horror to the world. Evil would break its bounds. At all costs the Church must be upheld. Oh yes, let us have evil driven from the monasteries, let us have a stricter rule for our priests if we must… but those who seek to destroy the Church must be themselves destroyed, for if we allow them to destroy the Church, then evil will prevail.”
“But this monk, Father … can you really call him a heathen?”
“Yet he claims to be a man of God. It is not God whom he reviles it is the Church of Rome.”
“But the Church of Rome is the Church of our fathers. You know that, Meg.”
She looked at him and thought: For the first time in my life I doubt his wisdom. I have never known this ferocity in him before. I have never before known him show such anger as he does toward these heretics.
“Father,” she said uneasily, “the King has said that if this heathen—meaning the monk Luther—does not recant, he should be burned alive. Burned alive, Father! You cannot believe that that should be done! You used to say that we should be kind to others, treat them as we ourselves would be treated.”
“Meg, if your right hand was evil, if it was touched with a poison that would infect the rest of your body, would you not cut it off?”
She was silent, but he insisted on an answer. “Yes, Father.”
“Well, then. The suffering of the body is as naught to the eternal damnation of the soul. If, by setting the flames at the feet of this monk Luther, we could restore his soul to God, then would it not be well to burn him alive?”
“Meg, it is a glorious thing to subdue the flesh, to become indifferent to pain. What happens to these bodies cannot be of importance. And if those who deny God are to suffer eternal damnation, what can a few minutes in the fire mean to them?”
Margaret covered her face with her hands. I have lost a part of him, she thought.
He drew her hands from her face and smiled at her all the gentleness was back in his eyes.
She saw that he was tired, that he longed to escape from the life at Court, to retire to the quietness and peace of family life.
It was a strange revelation to find that she did not entirely agree with him. Yet how she loved him! Even more, now that she believed she had detected a certain weakness in him, than she had when she had loved him for all his strength.
She almost wished that he had not educated her so thoroughly, that he had not trained her mind to be so logical. She wished that she could have gone on seeing him as perfect.
He was begging her to return to the old relationship. He wanted to laugh and be gay.
“Now you have talked to me, Margaret,” he said. “You have examined me with many questions, and you look at me quizzically, and you are turning over in your mind what I have said, and you doubt the wisdom of my words. Very well, my Meg. We will talk of this later. Now I have something to say to you. Can you guess what it is?”
“Well then, it is about Will.”
“Who else? Do you not like him a little, Meg?”
She blushed, and he smiled to see her blush. “I like him, Father.”
“He loves you dearly. He has told me so.”
“I would rather he did not burden you with his foolish feelings.”
“Is it foolish to love you? Then, Meg, I must be the most foolish man on Earth.”
“ 'Tis different with us. You are my father, and it is natural that you and I should love.”
“ 'Tis natural that Will should also. He is good. I like him. I like him very much. There is no one I would rather see as your husband, Meg. For although he may not be as rich or handsome as our gay young Allington, although he may not make a lady or a duchess of you one day… he is none the worse for that.”
“Do you think I should care to be a lady or a duchess, Father? I am not like your wife, who has been so proud since she has become Lady More.”
He laughed. “Leave her her pleasures, Meg. They are small ones, and we understand her delight in them, do we not? But to return to Will. You are fond of him, I know.”
“As I am of the others. To me he is no more than… any of them.”
“But, Meg, he is personable and clever… a pleasant boy. What do you look for in a man?”
“He seems to me to be overyoung.”
“He is seven years your senior.”
“Still, he seems young. He lacks seriousness. He is no great scholar. If he had written something like Utopia … something that showed his ideals and … Oh, you have set us a high standard, Father. Your daughter measures all men against you, which means that she finds them sadly lacking.”
He laughed those words to scorn, but he could not help showing his pleasure.
Now he was himself again, full of laughter, enjoying every moment. This evening they would be together … all of them they would converse in Latin as they were wont to do and Alice would chide them, but only mildly. Her title, to her, was a bright bauble. They all smiled to see her face when the servants addressed her as “My Lady.”
It was good to have him back, to forget his fierceness against heretics, to sing and be gay as in the old days.
PERHAPS THERE is always something good in what seems to be evil, thought Margaret. She longed for the days when her father had been a humble lawyer and Under-Sheriff of the City she remembered with a tender pain the walks through the City but this was not the case with all the members of the family.
Ailie was bright-eyed with happiness as she came into the schoolroom where Margaret sat with her books.
How lovely she is! thought Margaret. And more beautiful now that she is a member of this distinguished family than she was in the days of our humility.
Ailie pulled off the net which held back her golden hair from her face. That beautiful hair now fell about her shoulders and down to her waist.
“Such news, Meg! I am to be married. My Lady Allington! What do you think of that?”
“So Giles is to be your husband?”
“I shall be the
first in the family to find one.”
“That does not really surprise us.”
“To tell the truth, Meg, it does not surprise me. Giles says what a good thing it is that Father has written this book with the King and become such an important person at Court. His father could not withhold his consent to a union with the stepdaughter of Sir Thomas More. Oh Meg, is it not a marvelous thing … what great happenings are set in motion by such little things? A mere book is written and I become Lady Allington!”
Margaret laughed. There was that in Ailie which amused her as it did her father. Perhaps Ailie was selfish because she saw herself as the center of the world, but it was a charming little world, and Ailie herself was so pretty and pleasant in her ways that it was impossible not to love her.
“Ailie, you will go away from us, for Giles will not live here.”
“He will certainly have his estates to attend to. But, depend upon it, I shall insist on many visits to my darling family.”
“Then I doubt not that there will be many visits, for I believe you will have your way as Lady Allington just as you have as Alice Middleton.”
“So do not fret, dearest Meg. We shall be together often. I shall bring you tales of the great world. I shall tell you what the ladies are wearing and what new dances are being danced… and all Court matters which Father never notices. Meg, it will be your turn next… yours or Mercy's. I wonder who will first find a husband.”
Margaret turned away, but Ailie was looking at her slyly.
“There is Master Clement who comes here so often. Have you noticed how he looks first for Mercy? It would not greatly surprise me if our solemn Mercy told us she was to be Mistress Clement one day.”
“Mercy is too interested in her studies to think of aught else.”
Ailie laughed. “John Clement an I her studies both interest Mercy very much. There they sit, heads close together, talking of drugs and disease. Sometimes when I see them I think I shall die of laughter. I do indeed, Meg. I say to Giles: ‘You talk of my beauty … of my charming ways … and that is by far the best way of courtship. But there are other ways, I have discovered, for I live in a strange household. Some lovers exchange recipes and talk of the internal organs of the sick instead of the eyelashes of the loved one.’”
Thomas More – Letter to His Daughter Margaret
This Letter was written by St. Thomas More to his daughter Margaret (Meg) from his cell in the Tower of London where he had been imprisoned by King Henry VIII. Soon after writing this Letter, Thomas was condemned to death on trumped up charges.
A lthough I know well, Margaret, that because of my past wickedness I deserve to be abandoned by God, I cannot but trust in his merciful goodness. His grace has strengthened me until now and made me content to lose goods, land, and life as well, rather than to swear against my conscience.
God’s grace has given the king a gracious frame of mind toward me, so that as yet he has taken from me nothing but my liberty. In doing this His Majesty has done me such great good with respect to spiritual profit that I trust that among all the great benefits he has heaped so abundantly upon me I count my imprisonment the very greatest. I cannot, therefore, mistrust the grace of God.
By the merits of his bitter passion joined to mine and far surpassing in merit for me all that I can suffer myself, his bounteous goodness shall release me from the pains of purgatory and shall increase my reward in heaven besides.
I will not mistrust him, Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to him for help. And then I trust he shall place his holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning.
And finally, Margaret, I know this well: that without my fault he will not let me be lost. I shall, therefore, with good hope commit myself wholly to him. And if he permits me to perish for my faults, then I shall serve as praise for his justice. But in good faith, Meg, I trust that his tender pity shall keep my poor soul safe and make me commend his mercy.
And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.
Banner/featured image Sir Thomas More and His Daughter by John Rogers Herbert. Public domain.
Saint Thomas More was born in 1477 and was educated at Oxford. He married and had one son and three daughters. While Chancellor in the king’s Court, he wrote works on politics, culture, and in defense of the Catholic faith. At one time one of King Henry VIII’s most trusted ministers, More was beheaded on July 6, 1535 by order of the King whom he and St. John Fisher had resisted in the matter of the King’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and remarriage to Ann Boleyn. His memorial occurs on June 22 together with that of St. John Fisher whose execution occurred on this date.
For more on St. Thomas More, see the apostolic letter by Pope John Paul II proclaiming him patron saint of statesmen.
The name of this place was anciently written Ealdham, i. e. the old mansion or dwelling.
Extent of the land, and how occupied.
Eltham lies in the hundred of Blackheath, at the distance of eight miles from London, on the road to Maidstone. The parish is bounded by Woolwich, Plumsted, and the extraparochial hamlet of Kidbrook, on the north by Bexley on the east and south east by Chislehurst on the south by the extraparochial hamlet of Mottingham, on the south-west, and by Lee on the west. It contains about 2880 acres: of which about 360 are woodland about 60 waste about three fifths of the cultivated land are arable (fn. 1). The soil near the town is principally gravel in the more distant parts of the parish (towards Shooter's Hill on the north, and towards Chislehurst on the south), clay. The quota paid to the land-tax is 443l. 19s. which is at the rate of 1s. 9d. in the pound. This place had formerly a market on Tuesdays, and two fairs one at the festival of the Holy Trinity, and the other at that of St. Peter and St. Paul both of which have been long discontinued (fn. 2).
Frederic Prince of Wales was created Earl of Eltham in 1726. This title is now vested in his present Majesty.
An ancient coin was found here in 1751, which would not be worthy of mention, but as it occasioned the publication of some conjectures by Mr. Clarke, of Baliol College, who endeavoured to prove it to be a coin of Richard I., and an answer by G. North, M. A. F. A. S. who contended that it was a piece of base money, called a Peny-yard penny.
The manor of Eltham was, in the time of Edward the Confessor, held under the Crown by Alwold. William the Conqueror gave it to his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Baieux and Earl of Kent, under whom it was held by Haimo, sheriff of the county (fn. 3). About four years after the survey of Doomsday was taken, Odo fell into disgrace, and all his estates were confiscated (fn. 4). This manor belonged afterwards partly to the Crown and partly to the Mandevilles. King Edward I. gave his moiety of Eltham to John de Vesci (fn. 5), who afterwards obtained, in exchange for other lands, Walter de Mandeville's share (fn. 6). William de Vesci, his son and successor, was a baron of great note, and much in the King's confidence. He died in 1297, having settled this manor, together with most of his estates, on his natural son, William de Vesci, who was slain in battle at Strivelin in Scotland, anno 1314 (fn. 7). Leaving no issue, the manor of Eltham with other estates, devolved (pursuant to his father's settlement) on Sir Gilbert de Aton, as his right heir (fn. 8). Sir Gilbert granted the manor of Eltham Mandeville to Geoffrey le Scrope, of Masham (fn. 9), who, in 1318, procured a confirmation of it from the Crown (fn. 10). Soon afterwards he gave it to Queen Isabel (fn. 11). In 1444, the manor of Eltham was granted to Robert Dauson, for seven years (fn. 12) in 1522, by King Henry VIII. to Sir Henry Guildford, for forty years (fn. 13). King Edward VI. anno 1550, granted the manor of Eltham, which had fallen into his hands by the death of Sir Thomas Speke (fn. 14), to Sir John Gates, for life (fn. 15). He enjoyed it but a short time, being executed for high treason in 1553. William Cromer, Esq. held the manor of Eltham in 1568 (fn. 16). Lord Cobham had a lease of it in 1592 (fn. 17). In Charles the First's reign the lease was in the Earl of Dorset's hands. After the death of that monarch the manor was seized by the Parliament, and having been valued (fn. 18), was sold with the manor-house (Eltham palace), and a great part of the demesne lands, to Nathaniel Rich, Esq. of Eltham (fn. 19). After the Restoration, Sir John Shaw, having purchased a subsisting term of this manor, procured a renewal of the lease in 1663. The lease having been several times renewed, is now vested in his descendant Sir John Gregory Shaw, Bart. to whom it has been renewed for eight years from April 1796, and again for seven years from 1804. The manor of Eltham extends over the whole of this parish, the hamlet of Mottingham, and a part of Chislehurst. The tenants of this manor have had various grants of privileges and exemptions (fn. 20).
Residence of the Kings of England there.
John King of France entertained there.
Robert Earl of Essex resides there.
The Kings of England had a palace at Eltham at a very early period, a moiety of the manor having remained in the Crown till granted away by Edward I. to John de Vesci. Henry the Third, in the year 1270, kept a public Christmas at his palace of Eltham, being accompanied by the Queen, and all the great men of the realm (fn. 21). Anthony Bec, Bishop of Durham, and Patriarch of Jerusalem, bestowed great cost, we are told, on the buildings at this place, and died there on the 28th of March 1311 (fn. 22), having, as it is said, some time before given Eltham-house to Edward the Second, or, as some say, to Queen Isabel, reserving only a life-interest for himself (fn. 23). Edward frequently resided here. In 1315, his Queen was brought to bed of a son in this palace, called, from that circumstance, John of Eltham (fn. 24). Edward the Third held a Parliament at Eltham in 1329, and again in 1375, when the Commons petitioned him to make his grandson Richard, Prince of Wales (fn. 25). In 1364, he gave a magnificent entertainment here to John King of France. Lionel (son of Edward III.), being regent during his father's absence, kept a public Christmas here in 1347 (fn. 26). Richard II. kept his Christmas at Eltham in 1384, 1385, and 1386 (fn. 27). The last-mentioned year he gave a sumptuous entertainment to Leo King of Armenia (fn. 28). Henry IV. kept his Christmas here in 1405 at which time the Duke of York was accused of an intention of breaking into the palace by scaling the walls, for the purpose of murdering the King (fn. 29). Henry kept his Christmas at Eltham again in 1409 and in 1412 he was residing there when he was seized with the sickness which occasioned his death (fn. 30). Henry V. kept his Christmas at this palace in 1414 (fn. 31) as did his successor Henry VI. with much splendor, in 1429 (fn. 32). Edward IV. bestowed much charge upon the repairs of this palace (fn. 33). Here his daughter Bridget (who became a nun at Dartford) was born in 1480 (fn. 34), and baptized in the chapel of the palace by the Bishop of Chichester. In 1483, the King kept his Christmas here with most magnificent entertainments, two thousand persons being fed daily at his expence (fn. 35). Henry VII. built the front of this palace towards the moat, and frequently resided here (fn. 36). Henry VIII. preferring the situation of Greenwich, came seldom to Eltham. He kept his Whitsuntide here in 1515 (fn. 37), and his Christmas in 1526, with few attendants, on account of the plague (fn. 38) it was called therefore the still Christmas. King Edward VI. on the death of Sir Thomas Speke, made Sir John Gates keeper of Eltham palace and park (fn. 39). He was beheaded in 1553. Queen Elizabeth spent a few days at Eltham in 1559 (fn. 40). Sir Christopher Hatton was keeper of the palace in her reign (fn. 41) and after him Lord Cobham, who had a grant of that office in 1592 (fn. 42). King James was at Eltham in 1612 (fn. 43). I have not been able to find that it was visited by any of the Royal Family at a later period. The palace was, during the civil war, for some time in the occupation of Robert Earl of Essex, the parliamentary general, who died there Sep. 13, 1646 (fn. 44), and was buried in Westminster Abbey. After the death of Charles I. the manor-house was surveyed (fn. 45), and valued at 2754l. for the materials. It was sold with the manor to Nathaniel Rich, Esq. After the Restoration, the palace, with its appurtenances, reverted to the Crown. It is included in Sir J. G. Shaw's lease, and the site is now occupied as a farm. The manor-lodge in the great park, is now the manerial residence.
Hall of Eltham Palace
Remains of Eltham Palace
Present state of Eltham palace.
The principal buildings now remaining on the site of the palace are, the great hall, where the Parliaments were held, and the public entertainments given (now used as a barn) and some of the offices. The hall is 100 feet in length, 36 in breadth, and 55 in height. It has a wooden roof, wrought with Gothic ornaments.
A ground plan of part of the ancient palace of Eltham, as taken in 1509, was engraved for Hasted's History of Kent. A view of the palace was published upon a very small scale, by Stent, in 1650. There are several prints of it in its present ruinous state.
The ordinances for the establishment of the Royal Household, which contain precedents for the government of the King's house to this day, were made at Eltham in 1526 (fn. 46).
The great park at Eltham contained 596 acres, according to the survey taken in 1649 Patrick Maule, Esq. Groom of the Bedchamber, was then Ranger and Master of the Game. The little or middle park contained 333 acres Horne, alias Lee park, in Eltham and Lee, 336 acres. The deer in all these parks had been destroyed by the soldiery and common people. In the three parks, 3700 trees had been marked for the Navy (fn. 47). A book called the Mysteries of the Good Old Cause, published in 1660, says, "Sir Thomas Walsingham had the Honour of Eltham given him, which was the Earl of Dorset's, and the middle park, which was Mr. White's he has cut down 5000l. worth of timber, and hath scarcely left a tree to make a gibbet." Sir Theodore Mayerne, physician to the King, had been for many years chief ranger and master of the game of Horne park, and resided in the lodge (now a farm-house) during the reign of Charles the First before 1649 he had removed to Chelsea and left an underkeeper in the lodge as is stated in the survey (fn. 48).
The manor of Henle, or Henleys, was, in the early part of Edward the Third's reign, the property of John de Henley who dying without issue, it was given by William de Brantingham, his feoffee, to the King and has been annexed ever since to the manor of Eltham (fn. 49).
The manor of West-Horne, being part of the ancient demesnes of the Crown, was inclosed by King Edward the Third (fn. 50) since which time it has been called Horne-park, alias Lee-park. It is included in Sir J. G. Shaw's lease.
Corbye-hall, in this parish, was, at an early period, the property of a family of that name (fn. 51). In the reign of Edward VI. it was in the Crown, and was included in the grant to Sir John Gates (fn. 52) it was afterward granted, with the manor, &c. to Lord Cobham (fn. 53) and is now a part of Sir J. G. Shaw's estate.
Manors of East-Horne, and Well-hall.
The manors of East-Horne and Well-hall (or Well-hawe) were, in the year 1100, the property of Jordan de Briset (fn. 54). In the reign of Edward I. Matthew de Hegham held this estate (fn. 55). In 1346, it was the property of John de Pulteney (fn. 56). In 1386, Thomas Conduyt, clerk, brother and heir of Nicholas Conduyt, citizen of London, deceased, granted the manors of East-Horne and Well-hawe to Gilbert Purneys, Esq. and his heirs (fn. 57). In 1432, John Foxholes, clerk, released to William Basket, citizen of London, all right in these manors, lately the property of Margery, relict of Nicholas Sernefelde (fn. 58). Soon afterwards (probably by purchase) they came to John Tattersall, who died in 1446, leaving two daughters coheirs (fn. 59). Margery married John Roper, Esq. who, in her right, became possessed of these manors John, his eldest son, who succeeded him in this estate, was Attorney-General to Henry VIII. From him it descended to Edward Roper, Esq. whose daughter, Elizabeth, married Edward Henshaw, Esq. and on the death of her brothers without issue, became sole heir to her father. Mr. Henshaw left three daughters Catherine, married to William Strickland, Esq. Elizabeth, to Sir Edward Dering, Bart. and the third daughter, to Sir Rowland Wynne, Bart. These coheirs sold the manors of East-Horne and Wellhall, about the year 1733, to Sir Gregory Page by whom they were bequeathed to Sir Gregory Page Turner, Bart. who is the present proprietor.
Picture of Sir Thomas More's family.
At Well-hall was formerly one of the celebrated pictures of Sir Thomas More's family which was removed into Yorkshire by Sir Rowland Wynne, in 1731. Sir Thomas More's amiable daughter, Margaret, married William Roper, Esq. Prothonotary of the King's Bench, and proprietor of Well-hall.
Park-place-farm, which had been the seat of Mrs. Sarah Nunn, was purchased of Lord Harry Pawlet, (afterwards Duke of Bolton,) who married her daughter, by Sir William James. It is now the property of his widow, and in the occupation of Sir Benjamin Hammet.
At Southend, a hamlet of Eltham, (about a mile from the village, on the road to Maidstone,) is an ancient seat, which was the property of Sir William Wythens, High-Sheriff of the county in 1610 from him it descended to Sir Francis Wythens, Knt. Serjeant at Law, who died in 1704 (fn. 60). It soon afterwards became the property of Sir Comport Fitch, Bart. whose daughter and sole heir, Alice, married Sir John Barker, Bart. Sir John Fitch Barker, Bart. dying without issue, in 1766, left it to Robert Nassau, Esq. (fn. 61) It was sold a few years ago by George Nassau, Esq. to Joseph Warner, Esq. the present proprietor, who resides there.
Sir Anthony Vandyke. John Philipott.
Sir Anthony Vandyke had a summer residence at Eltham (fn. 62).
His botanic garden. Dillenius.
John Philipott, Somerset Herald, who collected the materials for the Survey of Kent, and is said to have written it (fn. 63), was of Eltham as was his son Thomas, who published that work, and assumed the merit of it to himself. That eccentric character John Lilbourn, who offended all parties, being pilloried by one, and shut up in the Tower by another who had been a captain in the Parliamentary army, and was taken prisoner at the battle of Brentford at last turned Quaker, and settled at Eltham where he held forth to his brethren of that persuasion (fn. 64). He died at this place, Aug. 28, 1657 (fn. 65). His corpse was removed to the Quakers' meeting in Aldersgate-street, where there was some disturbance about putting a velvet pall over his coffin, which the Quakers would not suffer. He was interred in the burial-ground near Moorfields, the funeral being attended by an immense concourse of people (fn. 66). Dr. James Sherard, an eminent physician in the early part of the present century, formed a botanical graden at Eltham in which he was assisted by Dillenius, who spent much of his time here (fn. 67) and published a catalogue of Dr. Sherard's plants, in two volumes, in folio, under the title of Hortus Elthamensis. A new edition of it was published at Leyden, in 1775, with the Linnæan names. Dr. Sherard died at Eltham, Feb. 12, 1738–9 (fn. 68). His house is now in the tenure of John Dorington, Esq. Some of the exotics planted by Dr. Sherard still remain, among which is a fine cedar of Lebanus, close to the house: its girth, at three feet from the ground, is nine feet.
The parish church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, consists of a chancel, nave, and two aisles. At the west end is a spire.
On the east wall of the chancel are the monuments of Richard Peter, vicar, 1748 and Peter Pinnell, D. D. vicar of Eltham, and prebendary of Rochester (fn. 69), 1783. On the north wall is one to the memory of Ann, wife of Richard Owen, D. D. vicar, 1653, and some of his children (fn. 70) there are inscribed achievements also to the memory of "Susanna, widow of John Philipott (fn. 71), Somerset Herald, designed Norroy, daughter and sole heir of William Glover, Esq. by Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Henry Herlackenden, Esq." 1664 and Thomas Trenchfield (fn. 72), 1670. On the floor is the tomb of John, son of Edmund Colleton of Milverton, Somersetshire, 1635.
In the nave are the tombs of Katherine, wife of John Bowles, merchant, 1670 Mr. Phineas Bowles, 1718 Rebecca Lady Henley, his daughter, 1743 Charles Bowles, Gent. 1727 Elizabeth de Bert, widow (no date) Elizabeth de Bert, her daughter, aged 95, 1759 Henry Smith, Gent. 1757 Elizabeth, his wife, greatgrandaughter of Mrs. de Bert, 1750 Nicholas Smith, Esq. 1718 Reverend Clement Hobson, 67 years vicar, aged 91, 1725 Mrs. Ann Peake, 1742 and Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Smith, and wife of Calverley Bewicke, Esq. 1762.
At the east end of the south aisle, which was enlarged in 1766, are the monuments of Robert Bright, 1785 and Joseph Middleditch, merchant, 1788. On the south wall are those of Mrs. Amy Barton (fn. 73), relict of George Cooke, merchant, and wife of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Barton, prebendary of Westminster, 1738 (erected by her brother Andrew Osborne) Elizabeth Dodson, 1749 and Elizabeth, daughter of Anthony Hodges, Esq. and wife of Godschall Johnson, Esq. (fn. 74), 1788. At the west end is a monument in memory of John Cox, Gent. 1721 John Cox, 1766 Anne, wife of George Cradock (fn. 75), daughter of John Cox, 1772 and Gilbert Burton, 1785. On the floor are the tombs of George Cooke, merchant, 1699 John Stanyan, Esq. 1714 and Mrs. Susan Stanyan, his daughter, aged 93, 1762.
The north aisle was built in 1667, by Sir John Shaw, Bart. who had a faculty for that purpose. Whilst the vault was digging under this aisle, the roof of the nave fell in, June 24, 1667 after this accident, it was rebuilt, new pewed, and a new pulpit was given, all at the expence of Sir John Shaw. In this aisle is the monument of Mr. John Parker of Frenches near Ryegate, 1720.
There were formerly memorials in this church for Thomas Pierle, 1369 John Pasley, yeoman—porter to Henry VIII. 1509 Margery, wife of John Roper, Esq. daughter and coheir of John Tattersall (fn. 76), 1518 John Morton, son and heir of Margaret Morton, (who had been the wife of Thomas Squiers,) no date and Margery, wife of Edward Isam of Walmer, Esq. (daughter of John Fletcher, Esq. (no date) (fn. 77).
In the churchyard are the tombs of Richard Savill, 1729 Samuel Savill, Esq. 1745 Benjamin Tilden, merchant, 1752 Grace, wife of William Fauquier, Esq. 1754 William Fauquier, Esq. 1788 Tilman Henckell, Esq. 1761 Captain Leonard Pattison, 1764 Martha, wife of John Henderson, Esq. 1765 Mrs. Eliza Cadell, 1785 Mr. John Latham, 1788 Felicia, more than 52 years the wife of Philip Burton, Esq. 1791 Philip Burton, Esq. (fn. 78), 1792 and George Horne, D. D. Bishop of Norwich (fn. 79), 1792.
The church of Eltham, which is in the diocese of Rochester, and in the deanery of Dartford, was given by William Earl of Gloucester to the abbot and convent of Keynsham (in Somersetshire) to whom, in 1242, the rectory was appropriated. After the dissolution of that convent, it was granted to Sir John Henley who left three daughters, coheirs (fn. 80). Helen, who married Thomas Colepepper, Esq. had this rectory, which was sold, about the year 1550, to William Roper, Esq. of Well-hall. Mr. Roper, reserving the advowson of the vicarage, gave the rectory to the Provost and Fellows of Oriel College, Oxford, on condition that they should grant, from time to time, a lease for three lives or 21 years, to his heirs of the family of Roper they paying a rent of 14l. per annum, and a fine of 100l. at each renewal. The Ropers having neglected to renew according to these conditions, the College granted a lease of the rectory to Christopher Comport, Gent. whose only daughter and heir married Sir Thomas Fitch. Alice, daughter and heir of Sir Comport Fitch, Bart. (who died in 1720), married Sir John Barker, Bart. whose son, Sir John Fitch Barker, dying without issue, in 1766, left his interest in this rectory to Robert Nassau, Esq. (fn. 81) The lease was purchased of the Nassaus by Mr. John Green, who is the present lessee. The rectory of Eltham was valued at twenty marks per annum, in 1287.
The advowson of the vicarage having been reserved by William Roper, as before mentioned, descended with the estate of Well-hall, and is now the property of Sir Gregory Page Turner, Bart.
The vicarage was rated, anno 1287, at 100 shillings in 1650, it was valued at 27l. 5s. per annum. In the King's books it is among the discharged livings, the clear yearly value being stated at 32l. 8s. In 1734, it was augmented by Queen Anne's bounty, Sir Gregory Page contributing 100l. towards that purpose.
John Foord, who was vicar of Eltham from 1597 to 1627, has inserted many useful notes in the register relating to the vicarage (fn. 82), for the benefit of his successors.
Richard Owen, instituted to this vicarage in 1636, was turned out by the Parliament in 1653 (fn. 83). After the Restoration he had the living of St. Mary Cray, but it does not appear that he ever recovered the possession of Eltham Clement Hobson, who succeeded Mr. Overton in 1658, enjoying it till his death in 1725. Dr. Owen was buried at Eltham, Jan. 22, 1682–3. He translated most of Juvenal's Satires, and published some controversial tracts (fn. 84).
The present vicar is John Kennard Shaw, M. A. who succeeded Dr. Pinnell in 1783.
There was formerly a perpetual chantry in this parish, in the gift of the Crown, which, with the chantry-priest's house, was granted by Henry VIII. anno 1528, to Robert Burste, clerk (fn. 85).
The earliest date of the parish register is 1583.
Comparative state of population.
|Average of Baptisms.||Average of Burials.|
|1630–9||20 2/5||20 1/10|
|1680–9||25 1/2||27 1/10|
|1730–9||27 9/10||35 3/10|
The present number of houses is about 240.
Burials in the plague years.
In 1603, there were 52 burials, 17 persons dying of the plague, among whom was the vicar's son in 1625, there were 61 burials in 1665, 44: thirty-two persons died of the plague that year. In 1666, there were 28 burials.
Extracts from the Register.
William, son of S r Nicholas Stoddard, of Mottingham, baptized Mar. 8, 1603–4."
"A man-child of John Grace, born, baptized by the midwife of necessity (fn. 86), and buried the 19th of Jan y 1605."
"Mr. Cornelius Orts, a Hollander, a servant unto the King, for providing hawks, under S r Anthony Pell, buried May 1, 1621."
"Mr. Ambrose Gurney was buried the 23 d of May 1621, in the chancel, at 11 of the clock at night, because of his infirmity: Mrs. Elizabeth Gurney was buried in the chancel, the 20 th day of August 1623, by her husband, in the night, because of her infirmity."
In 1623, Mr. Foord, the vicar, in his zeal against popery, has thus recorded a fatal accident, which is mentioned by some of the historians of that time (fn. 87) : "Let this be a pitiful remembrance to all posteritie, that in the year of our Lord 1623, the 26th day of October, in the 21 st year of King James his reign, there lay a French Embassador in the Blacke Friers in London, who being at masse the same Sabbath-day in the afternoone, with a multitude of blind ignorant people, there fell (in the chapel in his house) a gallery in the said chapel, that crushed to death fourscore and sixteen souls, besides a great multitude that had their arms and legs broken, so much was God offended with their detestable idolatrie."
"S r Richard Brann's daughter, buried Oct. 12, 1625."
"David Oliver, miles, Scotigenus, sepult. Dec. 15, 1628."
"S r William Withens, buried Dec. 7, 1630 Francis Withens, Kn t , May 12, 1704."
"Domina Cotton, ux. Joannis Cotton, militis, sepult. Dec. 7, 1638 Joannes Cotton, miles, Feb. 18, 1645–6."
"Patrick, fil. Magistri Maule, equitis, sepult. May 7, 1639 Stephanus, fil. Th. Maule, Arm. bapt. Mar. 18, 1647–8, sepult. Mar.29, 1649 Maria, fil. Th. Maule, equiti bapt. Mar. 29, 1649 sepult. July 2, 1649."
"S r John Rheyne and Frances Gibbes, married Oct. 3, 1639."
"Elizabeth, uxor Thomæ Fletcher, militis, sepult. Dec. 23, 1650."
John, son of S r John Jessat, baptized Mar. 2, 1653–4."
"Johannes Shaw, Eq. Aurat. et Domina Brigetta Nedham, relicta Roberti Nedham, Vicecomitis Kilmurrey, conjunct. matrimonio Jun. 24, 1663." Sir John Shaw was created a baronet in 1665, as a mark of the Royal favour for his having lent large sums of money to the King during his exile, when there was little prospect of repayment. He was appointed also one of the farmers of the Customs (fn. 88). Sir John Shaw died in London in 1679–80. His corpse was carried through the city with great funeral pomp (fn. 89), and he was buried at Eltham, March 6th. "Bridget Countess of Kilmurrey, widow of S r John Shaw, buried July 11, 1696."
"Elizabeth (fn. 90), daughter of S r John Shaw, Bar t , baptized Feb. 26, 1688–9 William (fn. 91), his son, Feb. 27, 1689–90 Margery (fn. 92), wife of S r John Shaw, buried Aug. 29, 1690—William (fn. 93), son of S r John Shaw, baptized, Dec. 7, 1696 Catherine (fn. 94), his daughter, Dec. 17, 1697 Paggen (fn. 95), July 7, 1700 Mary, baptized May 30, 1701, buried Mar. 22, 1766 Rebecca (fn. 96), baptized Nov. 28, 1702. Peter (fn. 97), Jan. 27, 1703–4 Jane, Ap l 12, 1708 Anne (fn. 98), July 13, 1709 S r John Shaw, Bar t , buried Dec. 21, 1721 the Lady Peake, (mother of his first wife,) Jan. 23, 1723–4 Dame Sarah Shaw (fn. 99), his widow, Jan. 12, 1742–3."
"John, son of S r John Shaw, Bar t , born Nov. 11, 1728 Peter Delmé, Esq. and Anna Maria, daughter of S r John Shaw, married July 2, 1737 S r John Shaw, Bar t , buried Mar. 13, 1739 Dame Anna Maria Shaw (fn. 100), Dec. 10, 1755."
"Elizabeth Lady Shaw (fn. 101), buried Feb. 12, 1750–1 John Gregory, born July 25, 1756 John Barnardiston, son of S r John Shaw, born Aug. 26, 1757 buried Dec. 10 John Kenward, Dec. 22, 1758 S r John Shaw, Bar t , buried June 26, 1779, in his 51 st year Dame Martha Shaw (fn. 102), Nov. 4, 1794."
"Theodosia, daughter of S r John Gregory Shaw, Bar t , and the Hon. Theodosia Margaret (fn. 103), buried Feb. 8, 1785 Theodosia Martha, June 20, 1794."
"Thomas Fitch, Kn t and Bar t , buried Sep. 19, 1688 William, son of the Lady Anne Fitch, Sep. 30, 1689 Thomas, son of S r Comport Fitch, Bar t , June 3, 1712 Dame Anne, relict of S r Comport, April 29, 1737 S r William Fitch, Bar t (fn. 104), June 19, 1736."
"Mary, daughter of S r George Pierce, Bar t , buried Sep. 30, 1698."
"The Hon ble Philippa Mohun, buried Sep. 8, 1703."
"Thomas Dogget, buried Sep. 25, 1721." A comic actor of great eminence. He was a native of Dublin, where he made his first appearance upon the stage. Not finding the success he expected, he came over to England, where he soon established himself on the London theatres. He was for some time joint-manager of Drury-lane with Wilks and Cibber but retired in disgust, both from the management and the stage, in 1712, upon Booth's being admitted to a share. The last time of his acting was in the Wanton Wife, for Mrs. Porter's benefit, the 28th of April in that year. It is probable that he had a residence at Eltham, where his wife, Mary Dogget, was buried Nov. 8, 1712. It is said that he afterwards married a lady of large fortune. Cibber, in his Apology, says, that Dogget was the most an original, and the strictest observer of nature, of all his contemporaries he borrowed from none of them his manner was his own he was a pattern to others, whose greatest merit was, that they sometimes tolerably imitated him. In dressing a character to the greatest advantage, he was remarkably skilful the least article of whatever habit he wore seemed, in some degree, to speak and mark the different humour he presented: he could be extremely ridiculous, without stepping into the least impropriety. His greatest success was in characters of low life. In songs, and particular dances of humour, he had no competitor. Congreve was a great admirer of him, and found his account in the characters he expressly wrote for him. In those of Fondlewife, in the Old Batchelor, and Ben in Love for Love, no author and actor could be more obliged to their mutual masterly performances (fn. 105). Dogget wrote the Country Wake, a comedy, since altered to a farce, which has been frequently revived, called Hob in the Well. For many years before his death he gave yearly, on the first of August, (being the anniversary of George the First's accession,) a coat and silver badge to be rowed for by six watermen and, by his will, left a sum of money for the purpose of perpetuating the custom (fn. 106).
"Lady Pollet (fn. 107), buried June 8, 1764."
"Deborah Lady Hudson (fn. 108), relict of S r Charles Hudson, Bar t , buried Jan. 8, 1780."
Tower erected to his memory on Shooters-Hill.
"S r William James, Bar t , buried Dec. 22, 1783." This brave officer (who resided at Park-place-farm in this parish) had for some time the command of the Company's marine forces in the East Indies, where he particularly distinguished himself by the taking of Severndroog Castle on the coast of Malabar, April 2, 1755. Lady James has erected a triangular tower on Shooter's-hill, about forty-five feet high, in memory of this event. It consists of three floors: on each of the upper stories is a room, with two closets adjoining, neatly fitted up. The vestibule, at the entrance, is ornamented with armour and trophies taken at Severndroog Castle. On the front of the building is an appropriate inscription (fn. 109). This tower commands a very extensive and beautiful prospect of the metropolis, Greenwich, Woolwich, the river Thames, and the adjacent counties of Kent, Surrey, and Essex. Sir William James was created a baronet in 1778. Sir Edward William James, his only son, was buried at Eltham, Nov. 24, 1792, in the 18th year of his age.
George Horne, Bishop of Norwich.
"The R t Rev d George Horne, D. D. L d Bishop of Norwich, died Jan y 17, aged 62 years, buried Jan y 26, 1792." This amiable and learned prelate was a native of Otham in Kent. He was educated at University College, whence he was elected a Fellow of Magdalen, in 1750. In 1768, he was elected President of the latter college in 1781, was made Dean of Canterbury and in 1789, promoted to the See of Norwich. His principal work was a Commentary on the Psalms, in two volumes quarto, published in 1776. He was author also of Considerations on the Life and Death of John the Baptist a Letter to Adam Smith Letters on Infidelity a Letter to Doctor Priestley Observations on the Case of the Protestant Dissenters and the letters marked Z. in the Olla Podrida. Dr. Horne was much admired as a preacher, as his epitaph justly says, "in the university, in the city, and in the country parish." Two volumes of his sermons are in print, besides several single discourses, preached upon public occasions. A life of Bishop Horne has been published by the Rev. Mr. Jones of Neyland.
Native of New South Wales.
"Yemmurravonyea Kebarrah, a native of New South Wales, died May 18, 1794, supposed to be aged 19 years, buried May 21."
"John Pennard, aged 100, buried Nov. 15, 1727 Margaret Harrod, widow, aged 95, Sep. 9, 1728 Catherine Castleman, widow, aged 98, Dec. 18, 1728 Elizabeth Mason, aged 94, Mar. 9, 1746–7 Sarah Small, aged 96, April 12, 1749 Mary Smith, widow, aged 95, July 6, 1786 Mrs. Catherine Pittman, widow, aged 96, June 27, 1790."
Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts.
Expences of making the butts.
|1554. Paid for setting up of the sepulchre||0||4|
|—For taking downe of the same||0||4|
|1554. For watching of the same two nightes||0||8|
|1557. Rec d for the burial of Sir Chaplene to Sir Henrye Gernygane, Knighte, who was buried within the churche||6||8|
|1562. Paid to the boyes for the maypole||0||6|
|1566. Paid for watchinge the beacon on Shutters Hill (N. B. This occurs several times)||5||0|
|1573. Paid at the eatinge of the buke (buck) which Mr. Hatton gave the parish||37||8|
|1574. Paid to John Petley for making the beacon||2||4|
|1583. Laid out for three arming girdells, and one girdell for a shese of arowes||3||4|
|Item for two bowestrings and one mache||0||4|
|1603. Paid for felling three trees for the buts, and cutting them out||0||12|
|— For carring the same timber||0||12|
|— To Hamshere for two daies worck to make the posts and pails for the buts, and set them up||2||4|
|— Paid to four men that digged turf, and laboured at the buts||4||0|
|— For one hundreth and a half of nails||0||9|
|— Paid in charges for their suppers for all them that wrought at the buts, which ware three or four more than wee hyred, becas wee would end them in one day||4||0|
|— For the two bars for the butts, with the staples and iron work thereunto||2||2|
|1608. Payd to Henry Byrde for ditching before the butts in Eastfylde||0||12|
|1612. Paid for ryngers when the Kinges Majestie came to lye at Ealthom||0||12|
|1642. Paid to four Irish gentlewomen||1||6|
|1642. Paid to the Irish gentlewomen, who had their pass from the Parliament||2||0|
The schoolhouse at Eltham was built in 1634 (fn. 110) but it does not appear that there was any endowment for a school, till Mrs. Elizabeth Leggatt, widow, anno 1714, left lands, now 18l. per annum, for that purpose: in this school sixteen boys are now taught.
Thomas Philipott, anno 1680, founded an alms-house at this place for six poor persons (four of whom are to be of this parish, and two of Chislehurst) and gave lands (now 31l. per annum) for its support (fn. 111).
Three of the pensioners in Queen Elizabeth's College at Greenwich are to be of this parish.
|Date.||Donors Names.||Present Value.||Use.|
|1492.||King Henry VII.||Lands, now 56l. 9s. per annum,||To the poor inhabitants for the payment of fifteenths.|
|1509.||John Passey,||Lands, lately let at 60l. 10s. per ann. (fn. 112),||One mark to pay the fine called head-silver, 1 mark for masses, requiems, &c. the remainder left to the disposal of his wife Agnes the whole applied from time immemorial to the use of the poor.|
|1583.||Thomas Roper, Esq. and his son William,||Lands in exchange, now 8l. per ann.||Poor.|
|1620.||Henry Keightley (fn. 113),||12d. per ann.||Twelve poor persons.|
|1624.||Thomasine Sampson,||Lands, now 14l. per ann.||Apprenticing children, and for the poor, in moieties.|
|1656.||Abraham Colfe,||8s. 8d. per ann.||To purchase two penny loaves, weekly, of sweet wheaten bread, for two of the godliest and poorest inhabitants.|
|1671.||Nicholas Hayley,||Lands, lately let at 10l. per ann.||Poor.|
|1707.||Dame Sarah Pritchard,||2l. 10s. per ann.||Ten poor widows or maids.|
|1733.||Mary Clapham, widow,||100l. 3 per cent.||Coals for twenty poor housekeepers.|
|1751.||William Smith, Esq.||200l. 3 per cent.||To purchase religious books and coals.|
|1754.||Dorothy Smith, widow,||100l. 3 per cent.||The same purpose.|
|1779.||William Hewitt,||50l. 3 per cent.||Residue of the interest, after keeping Robert Street's tombstone in repair, to buy bread for the poor.|
|1787.||John Wall,||80l. 5 per cent.||A chaldron of coals for six poor widows, to be purchased April 11, the residue in money.|
|Unkn.||Richard Slyan,||12s. per ann.||Bread.|
Two houses were given by a benefactor, now unknown, for the habitation of poor persons.
At the north-east extremity of this parish lies Shooter's-hill, over which is the high road from London to Dover. The beautiful prospect from this hill and Lady James's tower have been already mentioned (fn. 114). Not far from the tower is erected one of the telegraphs, which communicates between London and Dover. On the top of the hill is a mineral spring, an account of which was published by William Godbid, in 1673. Shooter's-hill was formerly a place much dreaded by travellers the steepness and narrowness of the roads, and the harbour which the neighbouring coppices afforded to the robbers, rendering it a very fit place for their depredations. Shakespeare makes it the scene of Falstaffe's, and his companions' robberies, in Henry IV. Measures had been taken for improving the highway on this hill, so early as Richard the Second's time (fn. 115), but they proved ineffectual and it was not till the year 1739 that any very material improvement was made, when a road of easier ascent, and of great width, was laid out at some distance from the old one (fn. 116).
Henry VIII. and Queen Katherine entertained by archers.
King Henry VIII. is said to have visited Shooter's-hill on May-day 1511, with his Queen Katherine when he was met by 200 archers, clad in green, with a captain at their head personating Robin Hood: after exhibiting their skill in archery, they entertained the Royal party with venison and wine, in booths decorated with pageants (fn. 117).
Modingham, or Mottingham, is an extraparochial hamlet, adjoining to this parish and Chislehurst to both which it has been supposed to belong. The inhabitants served parish-offices at Chislehurst in the last century but, for the most part, they frequent Eltham church, and christen and bury there. The number of houses in this hamlet is 17. The inhabitants of Mottingham enjoy the same privileges as those of Eltham this hamlet having been included in the grants referred to in p. 397. The great tithes of Mottingham were given by Ansgot, Chamberlain to William Rufus, to the priory of St. Andrew at Rochester (fn. 118) on the dissolution of which, they were granted to the Dean and Chapter of that place. In 1639, they were leased for twenty years to Nicholas Buckeridge, at the rent of 5l. per annum (fn. 119). They are now in the tenure of Robert Dinely, Esq. This hamlet has been attached to the manor of Eltham ever since the reign of Edward I. at an earlier period it seems to have belonged to Lewisham (fn. 120).
Thomas Banquel, who died in 1361, was seised of certain lands in the hamlet of Mottingham (fn. 121) (late Legh's). This estate was, in 1445, the property of Robert Cheseman who, by his marriage with Joan, daughter of Benjamin Cavell, obtained also certain other lands, which had long been in possession of the Cavells (fn. 122). Alice, daughter and heir of Thomas Cheseman, Esq. a descendant of the said Robert, married Robert Stoddard, Esq. whose son George, in 1560, rebuilt the ancient mansion called Mottingham-place, which, with the lands belonging to it, continued in that family till the death of Nicholas Stoddard, Esq. (in 1765) who dying unmarried and intestate, a long litigation ensued in the court of Chancery. At length this estate was adjudged to William Bowerman, Esq. of the Isle of Wight. It was purchased a few years ago by Robert Dynely, Esq. the present proprietor, who has repaired and modernized the house.
Fairy-hill within the precincts of this hamlet, which was the villa of the late Earl Bathurst when Lord High Chancellor of England, has since been in the successive occupation of Henry Hoare, Esq. General Morrison and John Randall, Esq. It was sold a few months ago to — Naylor, Esq. who is fitting it up for his own residence.
Extraordinary sinking of ground at Mottingham.
"On the 4th of August 1585, betimes in the morning, in the hamlet of Mottingham, in the parish of Eltham, the ground began to sink in a field belonging to Sir Percival Hart, so much that three great elm-trees were swallowed into the pit and before ten of the clock no part of them could be seen. The compass of the hole was about 80 yards, and it was suddenly filled with water." This is Fuller's narrative (fn. 123) Philipott adds, that "a sounding line of fifty fathoms could hardly find or feel any bottom and that at ten yards distance another piece of ground sunk in like manner, near the highway, and so nigh a dwellinghouse, that the inhabitants were greatly terrified therewith (fn. 124). The spot where this accident is said to have happened, is near the road leading to Fairy-hill it presents now only a slight inequality of surface, and is supposed to have been occasioned by the falling in of what had, at some remote period, been a chalk-pit.
More, while pursuing his legal career and entering Parliament in 1504, was drawn to the Christian humanist circle. This philosophy (the study of knowledge) coupled the study of Greek with the study of the gospel in seeking a more direct message. He spent his mid-twenties in close touch with London's strict Carthusian monks and almost became one. But More then decided that he could fulfill a Christian call to ministry while remaining a layman (non-clergy).
More first married Jane Colt, who bore three sons and a daughter before dying in 1511. He then married Alice Middleton. His legal career grew and led to an appointment as London's undersheriff in 1511. This meant additional work and income as public lawyer at Henry VIII's court and as court representative with foreign merchants.
More's first official trip abroad, at an embassy at Antwerp in 1515, gave him leisure time in which he began his greatest work, Utopia. Modeled after Plato's (c. 427𠄼. 347 B.C.E. ) Republic and finished and published in 1516, it describes an imaginary land, free of the prideful greed and violence of the English scenes that More had witnessed.
Capt. Sir Tom Moore’s Daughter Says She Shielded Him from ‘Vile’ Trolls Before Death
The family of Capt. Sir Tom Moore says they were flooded with hateful comments by trolls in the weeks leading up to his death, but shielded the late British hero from the "outrageous negativity" to protect him.
Moore, 100, who rose to prominence after raising more than $40 million for the U.K.&aposs National Health Service, died on Feb. 2 after testing positive for COVID-19 and battling pneumonia.
His daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore said the family was hit with extreme "trolling" after a family vacation to Barbados in December, something she said was the "holiday of a lifetime" for her father.
Ingram-Moore told the BBC the family leaned on their "family resilience" and "emotional resilience" to power through the pain, but made sure to keep the hate from Moore, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in July.
"We never told him, because I don&apost think he could ever have understood it," she said. "I think it would&aposve broken his heart, honestly, if we said to him, &aposPeople are hating us.&apos I couldn&apost tell him. Because how do you rationalize to a 100-year-old man that something so incredibly good can attract such horror? It&aposs hard."
Still, the grieving daughter says that focusing on her father&aposs legacy of "hope and joy" has helped her remain focused on what really matters.
"It really did hurt and it really is hard to deal with but we have dealt with it and they will not win, they will never make this amazing thing negative," she told the BBC, per Reuters.
Ingram-Moore also noted that the family is staying focused on the "massive majority of people who we connect with" as opposed to a "vile minority."
She said she and her family were able to share "lovely goodbyes" with Moore before his death, and that they will remain focused on looking on the bright side.
"He wouldn&apost have wanted us to feel sorrow. He just wouldn&apost," she told the BBC. "It&aposs okay to grieve. And we know that you&aposre grieving with us, but let&aposs never lose sight of the fact that for him, this was all about, &aposTomorrow will be a good day,&apos and being hopeful. No reason to sit around and mourn for too long. Get on with it, and make a good job of it."