An Explanation of the History of an Unusual Monument
by Felicity Lidderdale
This article gives a short history, based on contemporary letters at Hertford County Library, of the reasons for the erection of this monument. The three memorial tablets have been transcribed. Each individual shield is correctly “blazoned”, and an explanation of each family is opposite each group. There is a brief glossary of heraldic terms
A Note on Spelling
Spelling was even less consistent three centuries ago than it is today, and both family names and place-names may be different from those used currently. Within this text you will find for example: Bridgewater and Bridgwater. Generally throughout, the descriptive text uses the modern spellings, but transcriptions use the contemporary spellings. In the case of the family trees, the spellings often change at each generation.
At the church of St Peter & St Paul, Little Gaddesden there are several monuments relating to the Earls and Dukes of Bridgwater. By far the best known and least understood is the Great Monument. This article sets out to explain it.
It was erected by the second Earl in memory of Elizabeth his Countess, and of his parents, the first Earl and Countess. It used to be on the South side of the Sanctuary, near the altar. It is now on the right of the door to the Vestry, opposite the door by which you enter the church.
The Great Monument contains three shields with a large number of quarterings. The two shields at the bottom are badly defaced, because they were originally adjacent to an aisle. The one on the left represents the first Earl, the one on the right represents his wife, the first Countess, whom he impales. At the top, both of these impale the second Earl’s wife (see Figure 1, below). The second Earl died 23 years later than his wife, his memorial is over the door by which you enter the church.
Heraldry holds a fascination for some people and is a subject of interest and curiosity to this day. When knights were covered in armour, their “surcoats” and shields had to have symbols that were easy to see, so that their followers could recognize them on the field of battle. Among minstrels, whose profession allowed them the right to move around freely, some became Heralds who created a heraldic jargon using symbols that showed up well on a shield from a distance. Through the generations, every time an Heraldic Heiress married into another family her family shields would be added, eventually forming a large group of shields called an “achievement”. When a woman became an heiress, her Arms could be very complex, tracing the routes through which her family and her husband’s family descended. The heraldry in this article shows the three heiress marriages into this branch of the Egerton family.
The Egertons and the Three Heiresses
Sir Ralph Egerton of Ridley, Standard-bearer to Henry VIII, married, not without vicissitudes, Margaret, daughter and sole heiress of Sir Ralph Bassett of Sapcote. They had a son Richard, who had an illegitimate son by Mary Sparks, a dairymaid at Dodleston Manor. He was acknowledged, well educated, and through his own efforts, became Master of the Rolls and Lord Chancellor. He married three times, but had children only by his first wife, Elizabeth Ravenscroft. His third wife was the widow of Ferdinando Stanley, Earl of Derby, and her second daughter married his heir, who became the first Earl of Bridgwater. This was common practice.
The three heiresses concerned are: Margaret Bassett, Frances Stanley, first Countess of Bridgwater, Elizabeth Cavendish, second Countess. A fourth heiress, Elizabeth Cranfield, Viscountess Brackley, was the catalyst for these memorials. Her own memorial is over the door into the Sanctuary from the Bridgwater Chapel.
Death of the Second Countess
The following extract is from a group of letters at Hertford Library, written by the second Earl to John Halsey, his agent.
For my very Loving, and much respected Friend, John Halsey, Esq., at his
Chambers, in Lincolne’s lnne.
… I give you many thanks for your good prayers for me, who have great need of them after so great a losse, as hath made me ye most miserable man alive, for (as you truly say) all ye delight of my Life is taken from me … but I find myselfe falling into my wonted error, & tormenting my friends wth reiterated expressions of my griefe. I will therefore forbeare, & wish you a good journey on Saturday, but cannot conclude without desiring you (if your health will permit) to endeavour, if it be possible, to find out those papers wch concern ye Tomb my father intended for my Mother, for my thoughts beate not so earnestly upon anything in ye world, as upon my intention of making a Tomb for them both, & my deare and incomparable Wife, & without those papers my designes will be but lame, I hope therefore yt you will have ye good fortune to find them, yt I may see them, when I see you next, in ye mean time I rest,
Your Obliged very Loving
(2nd Earl of Bridgwater, My Lord, 19 Aug 1663)
During the negotiations for the marriage of the second Earl’s heir, Lord Brackley, to Elizabeth Cranfield, daughter and heiress of James, second Earl of Middlesex, her uncle Lionel, who had succeeded his brother, challenged her future father-in-law to a duel. The King (Charles II) heard about it and put both men under house arrest to try to calm things down. The second Countess insisted on coming to London with her husband to share his detention at Black Rod’s house, but she was expecting her twelfth child. Tragically, the exertion was too much and she died. The Earl was heartbroken.
Elizabeth Cranfield’s Fate
Other correspondence suggests that Elizabeth Cranfield, the Earl’s future daughter-in- law, was under great emotional stress. He says, “She has put herself under my protection.” There are hints of an elopement, and both men were called before the Bar of the House of Lords, where Cranfield admitted that he might have been “over hasty”: There are references to sending for a horse and pistols, and the second Earl states that he has never seen a girl so determined to see the settlements for her dowry.
At the end of the letters is a list of the Manors, servants, horses, etc. necessary for the young couple’s estate. The final most poignant entry is the return of the dowry, which was extremely large, because Elizabeth Cranfield, Viscountess Brackley, had died in childbirth, and her baby son had died a year later.
Memorial Tablet to Elizabeth, the Second Countess
The Memorial Tablet to Elizabeth, the second Countess, has this inscription:-
To the sacred memory of the late transcendently vertuous Lady, now glorious Saint, the Right Honourable Elizabeth Countesse of Bridgewater.
She was second daughter to the Right Honourable William Marquesse of Newcastte, &c. and wife to the Right Honourable John Earle of Bridgewater, &c. and whose family she hath enriched with a hopeful issue, six sonnes, viz. John Viscount Brackley her eldest, Sir William Egerton second sonne, both Knights of the honourable Order of the Bath, Mr. Thomas Egerton her third, Mr. Charles Egerton her fourth, Mr. Henry Egerton her fifth, Mr. Steward Egerton her sixth sonne, and three daughters, viz. Mrs. Frances Egerton her eldest, the Lady Elizabeth Egerton her second, and the Lady Katherine Egerton her third daughter; of all which children, three, viz. Mr. Henry Egerton her fifth sonne, Mrs. Frances Egerton, her eldest, and the Lady Katherine Egerton her third daughter, lye here interred, dying in their infancy; the rest are still the living pictures of their deceased mother, and the only remaining comforts of their disconsolate father.
She was a Lady in whom all the accomplishments both of body and mind did concurre to make her the glory of the present, and example of future ages. Her beauty was so unparallelled, that it is as much beyond the art of the most elegant pen, as it surpassed the skill of several of the most exquisite pencills (that attempted it) to describe, and not to disparage it. She had a winning and attractive behaviour, a charming discourse, a most obliging conversation: she was so courteous and affable to all persons, that she gained their love; yet, not so familiar to expose herselfe to contempt: she was of a noble and generous soule), yet, of so meeke and humble a disposition, that never any woman, of her quality, was greater in the world’s opinion, and lesse in her owne: the rich at her table daily tasted her hospitality; the poore at her gate her charity: her devotion was most exemplary, if not inimitable; witnesse (besides several other occasional! meditations and prayers, full of all the holy transports and raptures of a sanctifyed soule), her divine meditations upon every partictular chapter in the Bible, written with her owne hand, and never (till since her death), seene by any eye but her owne, and her then dear but now sorrowful husband, to the admiration both, of her eminent piety in composing and of her modesty in concealing them. She was a most affectionate and observant wife to her husband, a most tender and indulgent mother to her children, a most kind and bountifull mistresse to her family. In a word, she was so superlatively good, that language is too narrow to expresse her deserved character: 11er death was as religious as her life was vertuous. On the 14th day of June, in the yeare of our Lord 1663; of her own age the 37th, she exchanged her earthly coronet for an heavenly crowne.
Prov. xxxi; 28, 29.
Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
Memorial Tablet to the first Earl
The Memorial Tablet to the first Earl reads:-
Here rests (till the last trump awakens his dust}, the Right Honourable and truly noble Sir John Egerton, knt. one of the honourable Order of the Bath, Earle of Bridgewater, Viscount Brackley; and Baron of Elesmere, &c.
He was son to that renowned patriot Sir Thomas Egerton, Baron of Elesmere, Viscount Brackley, and Lord Chancellor of England, and was sole heire both of his estate and virtues. He married the Right Honourable the Lady Frances Stanley, second daughter and one of the co-heires of Ferdinando, Earle of Derby, &c. a wife worthy such a husband, by whom he was blessed with a numerous and virtuous offspring, foure sonnes and eleven daughters. Three of his sonnes died before him, viz. James Viscount Brackley, his eldest, and Charles Viscount Brackley, his second sonne, who both died in their infancy; and Mr. Thomas Egerton, his fourth son, who lies here interred, dying unmarried in the 23d yeare of his age; and three of his daughters, viz. the Lady Cecila Egerton, Mrs. Alice Egerton, and the Lady Ann Egerton. His third and only surviving sonne and heire, John Viscount Brackley, he saw happily married to the Right Honourable the Lady Elizabeth Cavendyshe second daughter to the Right Honourable William Marquesse of Newcastle, &c. Seven of his daughters he likewise saw well and honourably married, viz. the Lady Frances, the Lady Arabella, the Lady Elizabeth, the Lady Mary, the Lady Penelope, the Lady Katharine, the Lady Magdalene; and left only his eleventh daughter, the Lady Alice Egerton, unmarried.
He was endued with incomparable parts, both natural and acquired, so that both Art and Nature did seem to strive which should contribute most towards the making him a most accomplished gentleman; he had an active body, and a vigorous soule; his deportment was gracefull, his discourse excellent whether extemporary or premeditate, serious or jocular; so that he seldome spake, but he did either instruct or delight those that heard him; he was a profound scholar, an able statesman, and a good Christian; he was a dutiful! son to his mother the Church of England in her persecution, as well as in her greatest splendor; a loyall subject to his Sovereigne in those worst of times, when it was accounted treason not to be a traitor.
As he lived 70 years a patterne of virtue; so he died an example of patience and piety, the fourth of December, in the year of our Lord 1649.
Proverb x. 7.
The memory of the Just is blessed.
Memorial to the first Earl’s Countess
The Memorial to the first Earl’s Countess, mother of the second Earl who erected the monument, reads:-
ln hope of a happy resurrection, here lieth the Right Honourable and Most Noble Lady Frances Countess of Bridgewater.
She was second daughter and one of the coheires of the Right Honourable Ferdinando Earl of Derby, &c. wife to the Right Honourable Sir John Egerton, Knt. of the honourable Order of the Bath, Earl of Bridgewater, Viscount Brackley, Baron of Elesmere, and Lord President of Wales, and the Marches thereof, by whom she was a happy mother of fifteene children, foure sons and, eleven daughters, five of which she buryed young, viz. the Lord James Viscount Brackley, her eldest, the Lord Charles, who succeeded him in birth and honour, seco,nd sonne; the Lady Cecila Egerton, her fourth, Mrs. Alice Egerton her eighth, and the Lady Anne Egerton her tenth daughter, who lyes here jnterred, dying in the eighth yeare of her age. Seven of her daughters she married richly and honourably, viz. the Lady Frances her eldest, the Lady Arabella her second, the Lady Elizabeth her third, the Lady Mary her fifth, the Lady Penelope her sixth, the Lady Katherine her seventh, and the Lady Magdelene her ninth; one of her daughters, viz. the Lady Alice her eleventh, she left unmarried; as she likewise did two of her sonnes, the Lord John Viscount Brackley, her third, and Mr. Thomas Egerton her fourth sonne. She was unparalleled in the gifts of nature and grace, being strong of constitution, admirable for beauty, generous in carriage, of a sweet and noble disposition, wise in her affaires, cheerefull in her discourse, liberall to the poore, pious towards God, and good to all.
She lived vertuously 52 yeares; she died religiously the 11th day ,of March, in the yeare of our Lord 1635; and she reigns triumphantly for ever.
Psal. cxvi. 15.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints.
To us now these memorials may seem to be much too fulsome, but at the time they would have been considered appropriate to the spirit of the age.
Some Heraldic Terms
A blazon is a heraldic shield described in heraldic terms so that it can be painted from the description alone. It always begins with the colour of the field or background.
A shield is always read from the point of view of the person carrying it, therefore the left side seen by a viewer is referred to as Dexter (Latin for Right), and the right side as seen is always referred to as Sinister (Left).
When ancestors bring shields onto a family coat of arms by marriage, the simple shield becomes divided up. This is known as quartering, although the number may be many more than four (Egerton on the Great Monument has 46 quarterings). Where the son’s arms show his father’s and mother’s arms, the father’s is shown on the left, and the mother’s on the right. Heraldically, the arms are impaled, as if hung on a fence (paling) side by side. An heiress brings in her father’s family shields together with heraldic heiress marriages to that family. The shields are arranged going backwards in time, so that the last one mentioned is the oldest in the group.
Many heraldic terms are based on Norman French language.
The background colour of a shield is called the field. The main colours used are as follows.
Metals: Or meaning Gold, shown yellow, and Argent meaning Silver and usually shown white.
Colours: Gules means Red, Azure is Blue, Vert is Green and Sable is Black. The field can also have an all over pattern e.g. Chequy is a pattern of two colours of squares, and Lozengy is the same but as diamonds. The field can also represent fur: Ermine is the winter coat of a type of weasel; it was not worn by anyone below the level of Countess. Vair looks like a pattern of letters U upside down, and represents squirrels’ furs back and front: a cloak lining material. An all over pattern of objects is usually called semé or semée e.g. “semée of fleurs de lys” as in the ancient arms of France.
When an object is shown in its natural colouring, it is described as proper.
Some of the symbolic shapes used are:-
Ordinaries – the term used generally for the main symbols: “charges” on the shield
Fess – a horizontal bar straight across the middle
Chief – a bar straight across the top of a shield
Pale – a straight line from top to bottom; “paly of” when more than one.
Bend – a bar running from top left to bottom right.
Cross – a bar down the middle and one across the centre <b
Saltire – a St. Andrew’s Cross
Canton – a small square, usually in top left corner
Roundle – a circle, often described differently if coloured: if azure, it is a hurt (bruise)
Annulet – a ring
Billet – a rectangular shape
Many of these shapes can have more complex outlines: “wavy”, “lozengy”, “engrailed” (a pattern of semicircles), “indented”.
Some objects have unique heraldic terms: “garb” (a wheat-sheaf), “maunch” (a sleeve), “gamb” (a leg).
Note. On these monuments the appearance of some shields may have changed with time. The metal Argent may have been either white paint or unpainted marble; also some colours were applied over a gold leaf background. The pigments of the original paints may have altered with time: blue and green can turn black, and paint may have flaked off the gold or the stone beneath. Colours used in later restoration may have been incorrect. Each shield shown and blazoned here is described as we believe it would have appeared originally.
Plan of the Memorial Tablets and Shields on the Bridgwater Great Monument.
These are the second Earl of Bridgwater’s Arms
The keys e.g. A1 indicate the positions of the groups of family arms on the monument, and show that the arms appearing on the lower shields also appear on the upper one. The shields are shown opposite and are described in detail below.
Explanation of the Individual Shields that appear on the Second Earl’s Coat of Arms.
Dexter A: Egerton & Bassett. A1 to A16.
The reason why these shields are here is because Ralph Egerton of Ridley, Standard Bearer to Henry VIII and the Lady Mary, married Margaret Bassett of Blore, daughter and sole heiress of Ralph Bassett of Blore and Sapcote.
On a quartered shield, the main family is always at the top left.
Egerton brings in Malpas. Bassett brings in de Grey and Braylesford.
A1: Thomas Egerton, who became Viscount Brackley, and founder of this branch of the family. Under James I, he became Lord Chancellor, after a brilliant career at the Bar. He was offered the Earldom of Bridgewater, on his deathbed. He had by then lost interest, which was a pity, because his eldest surviving son, John, had to pay at least £20000 or more for the same Earldom to Buckingham, the King’s favourite, to procure his interest with the King.
A2: Phillip le Clerc of Malpas, having obtained the manor of Egerton i.e. taken it by force, assumed “according to the custom of the age” the surname Egerton. David de Malpas, sometimes Le Clerc, married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Ralph ap Eynion by Beatrix, daughter of Ranulph, the second of that name, Earl of Chester. Uryan, brother of Phillip, added the lion as a reward for services on the Scottish wars. The Egertons took the de Malpas arms, but changed the colours. This happened several times in this and other branches of the family, but these are the only Egerton shields shown on the monument.
A3: “Few families in the early annals of England can boast a more eminent progenitor” thunders Burke: Ralph Bassett, son of Thurston the Norman, was Justicier of England under Henry I. The Bassetts were about before 1066. The Barony of Drayton was the first from which all the other branches developed.
A4: These are the undifferenced arms of de Grey, and very early. Ralph, second Baron Bassett of Drayton, 1294, married Joan, daughter and heiress of John Grey, Justice of Chester.
Braylesford brings in Twyford. Bassett also brings in Beke and Dethick.
A5: Sir Jey Bassett of Cheadle, married in 1340 his second wife, Joan, daughter and heir to Sir Henry Braylesford. It was fascinating to see a printed copy of some of his duties, including choosing a new incumbent. Knights were representative officers for law and order.
A6: Sir Henry Braylesford, Knight, married Jane, daughter and co-heir of Sir Robert Twyford of Twyford.
A7: Ralph Bassett of New Place and Cheadle, in 1407 married Maud, daughter and heir of Thomas Beke.
A8: Ralph Bassett of New Place, Cheadle, Blore and Grendon, (inherited manors were added to the title) in 1451 married Margaret, daughter and heir of Sir Reginald Dethick.
Dethick brings in Allestrey, Stafford and Meynill. Meynill brings in Savage.
A9: William Dethick of Dethick Hall, during the reign of Edward I married Ellena, daughter and heir of ? Allestre.
A10: Geoffrey Dethick, during the reign of Edward Ill, married Emma, daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Stafford. The canton suggests a minor branch of this family, Stafford of Grafton.
A11: Sir Reginald Dethick married Thomasine, daughter and co-heir of Sir Hugh Meynill, Knight. Two Dethicks married two Meynill sisters, which always causes confusion. It is the younger that we are concerned with here, Thomasine, for she had an heiress daughter Margaret, who married Ralph Bassett of Blore, and it was their heiress daughter who married Sir Ralph Egerton of Ridley. She was such an important heiress that she was captured from her manor at Sapcote by a Vernon and a Foljambe and kept in durance vile for seven years. It was nine years before she was able to marry Sir Ralph Egerton.
A12: Hugo de Meignell, Steward to Ferrers, Earl of Derby, was given five manors by Fitzhugh. He married Phillipa, sister and co-heir of William le Savage. The Meignells added the bend with horseshoes to their arms to show their adherence to Ferrers. (Stewards were very important officials in a great Household. Any Knight had to say he was a knight of such-and-such a household, as a form of identity check. Nowadays we would call it solidarity. In the Age of Chivalry total loyalty to your lord, right or wrong, was essential).
Meynill also brings in de la Warde and de Verdon. Bassett brings in Byron and Colwicke of Clayton.
A13: Hugh de Meignell, M.P. for Derbyshire, in 1333 married Joanna, daughter and heir of Robert, Lord de la Warde, Steward of the Household of Edward I. The Meignells took these arms as their own, and the heiress who brought them into the family was completely forgotten.
A14: The normal Verdon arms, which come into our next group, are totally different. Sir Hugh de Meignell, K.B. fought at Crecy, 1346, and Poitiers, 1354. He married Alice, daughter to Nicholas Audley, (same descent as Verdon), cousin and heir of Roger de Verdon, and who was the widow of Ralph, Lord Bassett of Drayton.
A15: William Bassett, Sheriff of the county of Stafford (died 12 Nov. 1489) in 1466 married Joan, daughter and co-heir of Richard Byron.
A16: The Byron marriage, which gave them the Clayton estate in Lancashire, was before the recording of arms began, and has become confused with a later but also very ancient marriage to the heiress of Colwicke. As early as Ballard’s Roll (time of Edward II) the two shields were always shown together. These are Margaret Bassett’s mother’s parents.
Dexter B: Stanley, Earls of Derby and Strange B1 to B30
Stanley brings in Audley and Verdon. De Lacy brings in de Burgh and de Clare.
B1: John, first Earl of Bridgewater, married Frances, daughter and co-heiress of Ferdinando Stanley, Earl of Derby. Her mother, Alice Spencer, her father’s widow, had then married Thomas Egerton, Lord Brackley, founder of the family, as his third wife. The discrepancy in age, and her determination to cut a dash, caused him to have a very unrestful old age. Luckily, her new son-in-law could cope with her.
B2: Adam de Audley granted a holding at Stoneleigh (Stanley) to his cousin William, who changed his name to Stanley.
B3: These arms are the original arms of the large Barony of Verdon, from which Audley and Stanley descend.
B4: These are for the junior branch of de Lacy, Earls of Ulster. Their heiress married the feudal Lord of Connaught, de Burgh, who became Earl of Ulster in her right.
Stanley brings in Lathom, which brings in Alfreton.
B5: The Earldom of Ulster lasted three generations with de Burgh, and then passed to the very powerful de Clare family.
B6: De Clare, Earl of Hertford and Gloucester. The eventual heiress, Margaret, married Hugh d ‘Audley as her second husband. She devoted her vast revenues to building Clare College, Cambridge. It is worth noticing how simple these shields are: it shows that they are very early.
These two shields, B7 & B8 relate back to Stanley, but are probably not shown in the correct order.
B7: Sir John Stanley, acquired Lordship of the Isle of Mann, married the daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Lathom, who brought the Knowsley estates into the family, and the Eagle & Child crest. (One day Lady Lathom, who was childless, was walking with her husband in a wild place on their estate, when the cries of a babe were heard from an eagle’s eyrie. A Squire, sent to investigate, found a robust and very well-clad infant. Taking the hint, she claimed it as her own, and it became the next Lord Lathom).
B8: Robert Lathom, father of Sir Thomas, married the daughter and co-heiress of Thomas de Alfreton. The other co-heiress married a Chaworth.
Stanley brings in Kingdom of Mann and Goushill. Goushill brings in Fitzalan, D’Albini, Keveliock, Lupus, le Scot, Warrenne, Plantagenet, Marshall, de Clare and MacMurrough.
B9: Sir Thomas Stanley, d. 1521, created first Baron Stanley, assumed the title of Lord of Mann acquired by his father John. Everyone knows this one: three legs in armour, with knees bent, kicking like mad. A Norse Kingdom, originally sacred to a Celtic god.
B10: Thomas, Lord Stanley, married the daughter and heiress of Sir Robert Goushill. Sir Robert Goushill had married a most important heiress, but had only one daughter who carried the famous feudal Earldoms of d’Albini, Fitzalan and Chester.
B11: Sir Robert Goushill married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Richard Fitzalan, tenth Earl of Arundel.
B12: John Fitzalan married the sister and heiress of Hugh d’Albini, fifth Earl of Arundel. There is a wonderful story of how William d’Albini got the lion on his shield, but space does not permit. He married Adelisa, widow of King Henry I; her “portion” (dowry) was Arundel Castle. Because the Earldom derived, not from a Royal creation, but from the tenure of Arundel castle, the numbering of the Earls continued from one family to another.
B13: The next two represent the Norman Earls of Chester. Hugh Keveliock, named from the town he was born in, was the last Norman Earl. His daughter married David le Scot, Earl of Huntingdon, brother of William the Lion, King of Scots. The feudal Earls were petty kings in their own territory, many deriving from the original Saxon Earldoms. Mabel, daughter and heir of David le Scot, Earl of Chester, married William d’Albini, second Earl of Arundel. The arms of David le Scot, Earl of Chester, should be shown, but they are not. They are included here as B13A.
B14: Hugh Lupus (wolf) was son of the Conqueror’s half-sister, and was given the vast Earldom of Chester. Like Henry I, he lost all his legitimate heirs on the White Ship. The Earldom went to his sister’s son, Ranulph de Meschines. All the Norman Earls had different names and showed different numbers of garbs (corn stooks) on their shields (the current arms of the County of Cheshire are still corn stooks). The Earldom was too powerful not to be a threat to the Crown, and it is now a title borne by the Prince of Wales.
B15: The only daughter of the last Warrenne, Isobel, married firstly a bastard son of Stephen of Blois, and secondly Hammeline Plantagenet, a bastard half-brother of Henry II. The family was known as Plantagenet-Warrenne thereafter. William Plantagenet-Warrenne’s second wife was Maud, daughter of William the Marshal, and widow of Hugh Bigod, Duke of Norfolk. In 1216, when King John died and Henry Ill was only 9 years old, Louis of France invaded England. A Plantagenet-Warrenne was one of the barons with him. They camped on White Hill to besiege Berkhamsted Castle. The garrison sallied forth one morning and captured a banner; in the afternoon, with this at their head, they came again and utterly ruined Louis’ barons’ meal. Eventually the garrison had to surrender, “but their lives, goods and houses were spared.”
B16: A kinsman of William the Conqueror, William de Warrenne, came to England with him. Created Earls of Surrey by William Rufus, the last Warrenne died on crusade.
B17: John Marshall, who as Steward of the Royal Household, had a very important job: seeing that the Army was equipped. He had risked his own life to help Henry ll’s mother Matilda escape. Henry II encouraged him to divorce his first wife and marry “a lady of very good birth” called Sybilla. Heiresses were handed out by the King without any regard for their happiness. Sometimes they would be brought up in one Household, only to be taken away and passed on to someone else then in higher regard.
B18: By his second marriage, John Marshall had a second son, William. This William was very large and very strong, and was able to make a living at winning at tournaments. A model of chivalry, he was totally loyal to the Crown. Richard I gave him the greatest heiress in the land, “The Jewel of Striguil” and created him Earl Marshal, while John created him Earl of Pembroke in right of his wife, the daughter of de Clare, Earl of Pembroke. Always known as “William the Marshal”, he was renowned for his wisdom, as well as his valour. He was able to persuade the Barons to have the small child Henry Ill crowned King, and by common consent became Protector of the Realm. Guardian of the peace, and of the King, he died in his eighties. We know so much about him because his son commissioned a “chanson”: a sung biography in rhyming couplets, which is still extant.
B19: The father of “The Jewel of Striguil” (an old name for Chepstow) was Richard “Strongbow” Clare. Son of a branch of the de Clares, Strongbow was invited by the King of Leinster to take a mercenary force over to Ireland to help him overcome his enemies, against the express wish of his own King. Strongbow cut such a swathe through Wales and Ireland, burning and sacking Dublin, that the Irish gave him the king of Leinster’s only daughter to wed, if only he would go away. In the meantime the King threatened to take his Welsh lands. He died “untimely” (probably murdered) which is why his heiress was put in the Tower. William the Marshal’s wife had 10 children but none of his sons had a son.
B20: Eva, the daughter of Dermot McMurragh, King of Leinster, was married to “Strongbow” Earl of Pembroke, to stop him conquering half Ireland. His shield at Ashridge is quite different from this one.
Strange brings in Somery and Mohun.
B21: The next group concerns the heiress of Strange, who became Baroness Strange in her own right. She married Lord George Stanley, who became George, Lord Strange in her right. Lord George had been a hostage of Richard Ill at the Battle of Bosworth, which made things very awkward for his father, whose second wife was Margaret Beaufort, Dowager Countess of Richmond, heiress of the Beauforts, and through her first husband, Edmund Tudor, mother of the future Henry VII. He was her only child, sent into France for his safety, and she spent he life scheming to get him on the throne. She was implicated in Stafford, Earl of Buckingham’s plot, but her husband was strong enough to protect her from Richard lll’s vengeance. Lord Derby, therefore, havered and hovered, eventually joining the battle when he could see who was likely to win. He is remembered because it was he who placed the coronet, found in a thorn bush, on his stepson’s head.
B22: John le Strange of Knockyn married Joan, daughter and heiress of Roger de Someri, Lord of Dudley.
B23: The Mohuns were based at Tor Mohun, near Dunster in Devon. The “maunch” or long sleeve in their arms was part of what was known as “conspicuous display”: quite impossible to do any manual work in, just as was the crinoline many centuries later.
B24: Two Mohuns, father and son, married two daughters of William de Ferrers, seventh Earl of Derby. William, third Baron Ferrers of Groby, married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Robert de Ufford, Earl of Suffolk, who died in 1381, over a hundred years after the Mohun-Ferrers marriages. It is impossible to explain this without looking at the family tree:
B25: The brother of Mohun of Dunster married the local Lord of the Manor’s daughter and heiress, de Briwere.
B26: John Strange, eighth Baron Knockyn, whose daughter married Lord George Stanley, married Jacquetta Woodville, daughter and eventual heiress of Lord Rivers. She was a younger sister of Queen Elizabeth, wife of Edward IV and mother of the Princes in the Tower.
B27: Their mother, also Jacquetta, was a daughter of the Count of Luxembourg, Peter I, Count of St. Pol and Brienne, a knight of the Golden Fleece (a Burgundian Honour, similar to the Garter). Her first husband had been John, Duke of Bedford, Regent of France for Henry VI, eldest brother of Henry V, and much underestimated.
B28A: There is another omission of an important shield here. The monument should show the arms of Clifford, Earls of Cumberland, for the marriage of Margaret Clifford to Henry, fourth Earl of Derby, d.1593. Their son Ferdinando, fifth Earl of Derby, was “murdered for his nearness to the throne”, and his daughter Frances married John, first Earl of Bridgewater. Margaret Clifford was daughter and sole heiress of Henry Clifford and his wife Eleanor. Eleanor’s parents were Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and his wife Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII and widow of the King of France.
B28: Charles Brandon married, as his third wife, Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII. He was Henry’s jousting partner and knock-about friend, the son of William Brandon, Standard-bearer at Bosworth. Richard Ill had killed William himself, because the standard acted as a rallying-point near the leader. Charles Brandon was sent to collect Mary Tudor, widow of Louis XII; when asked why he had married her, he explained that she had cried her eyes out, terrified that she would be used as a political pawn. They were forgiven their deceit (princesses were very valuable diplomatic currency) but a sum of money had to be paid to the Exchequer. The two sons died in childhood “of the sweating sickness.”
B29: Brune and Rokeley are always shown together, like de Burgh & de Clare. The Brune heiress married William Brandon, Standard-bearer at Bosworth.
B30: Mr. Mathieson found an early 16th C. record in Hutchins’ “History of Dorset”, after 10 years’ searching. Sir William le Brun, (died 1301) married lsolda, daughter and heir of Phillip Rokeley. Sir Maurice le Brun, (died 1354), married Matilda, daughter and heir of Sir Phillip Rokeley.
Sinister C: Cavendish, Ogle and Bassett C1 to C30
Cavendish brings in Scudamore and Smith. Smith brings in Brecknock.
C1: Charles, second son of Sir William Cavendish and his wife Elizabeth, married secondly, Catherine, daughter of Cuthbert, seventh Baron Ogle, who becoming eventually his lordship’s sole heiress, succeeded to the barony of Ogle in 1628. They had an only son William, who became Baron Ogle and Viscount Mansfield. He was governor of Charles II, and created both Baron Cavendish of Bolsover, and Earl of Newcastle. He raised an army called “The Whitecoats” and after escorting the Queen, who came with arms and ammunition to Oxford safely, was made Marquis of Newcastle in 1642. He had a misunderstanding with Prince Rupert (who probably called him a bumbling old fool). He retired to join the exiled Royalists and was created Earl of Ogle and Duke of Newcastle in 1664, “as some compensation for the immense losses he had sustained.”
C2: Chief Justice Cavendish was murdered by the Wat Tyler rebels, at Bury St. Edmunds. His son John was knighted for having later killed Wat Tyler. His grandson Thomas married Katherine Scudamore, (d.1499) .
C3: Thomas Cavendish, son of the above, married Alice, daughter and co-heir of John Smith or Smyth of Podbrooke Hall, Suffolk .
C4: John Smythe, second son to the above, married Alice, daughter and co-heir of Sir John Brecknock of Buckinghamshire.
Carnaby brings in Hardwick and Ogle. Ogle brings in Hepphale, Gobion, Heaton, Atton, Bertram, Kirkby and Hilton.
C5: Sir William Cavendish, second son of William, the second son of of Thomas, married as his third wife, Elizabeth, daughter of John Hardwicke, and widow and heiress of Robert Barley. This was “Bess of Hardwicke”. Her story in any age is astounding. She was the younger daughter of an obscure country squire, and died the second richest lady in the land. Bess was a gentlewoman in the Zouche household, and the young man she married died a year later, leaving her everything. She then married Sir William Cavendish, a courtier and civil servant, by whom she had a number of children. After his death, she managed to obtain the dowries of the ladies of both his first marriages and went to Court. She married Sir John St. Loe, another busy and harried courtier. She was extremely shrewd, an excellent businesswoman, and a good wife. After the death of her third husband, she went back to Court, and this time caught one of the richest men in the kingdom, Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury. Part of the bargain was that two of his children by another wife should marry two of her children by Sir John Cavendish. This was a frequent practice.
“Hardwicke Hall, more glass than wall” was built by Bess. Her initials “E.S” for Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury, still stand out on the skyline. She lived into her 80s. Foundress of the Dukedoms of Devonshire and Newcastle, many of her buildings remain to this day.
C6: These are for Elizabeth Cavendish’ grandmother, Catherine Ogle. The Ogles were Barons in the North, who married the feudal heiress of Bertram. These shields are not in their correct order, and some are obscure.
C7: Sir Robert Ogle married Joan, daughter and heir of Sir Robert Hepphale.
C8: This has not been fully researched: Chartnam or Chartney. It is not certain where it should appear.
C9: Sir Robert Ogle married Margaret, daughter and heir of Sir Hugh Gobion.
C10: Sir Robert Ogle, captured by the Scots in 1416 and ransomed, married Joan, third daughter and co-heiress of Sir Alan Heton of Chillingham.
C11: Ada Bertram married a de Vere, and had a daughter Isabel, whose son Gilbert de Aton, was one of the heirs to the Barony and lands of Agnes Bertram. These arms should appear after Bertram and Gobion, but before Hepphale.
C12: Robert Ogle, son of Sir Robert and his wife Joan Hepphale, married Helen, daughter and heir of Sir Robert Bertram, feudal knight of Bothal.
C13: Sir Robert Ogle (d .1469) married Isabel, daughter and heir of Alexander de Kirkby.
C14: Cuthbert Ogle, sixth Baron, married Catherine, daughter and heir of Sir Reginald Carnaby of Halton.
C15: William Carnaby of Halton married, before 1345, Margaret, daughter and co-heir of Sir John Halton of Halton, widow of Thomas Lowther. She died 26 Nov 1361 .
C16–C29 are for Elizabeth Cavendish’ mother, Elizabeth Bassett, who was descended from Ralf Bassett’s elder brother William. They are the same as A3–A16 on the Egerton shield. C30 is a repeat of C1, the Cavendish arms.
Grateful thanks are due to the following people and organizations without which this work would not have been possible.
John Dunbar-Lidderdale Esq., for allowing me free access to Burke’s Dormant, Extinct, Abeyant and Forfeited Peerages, and other books in his library. Mrs. Robson, previously Heraldry Expert at St. Albans Abbey, who identified many of the names for us. Various members of Gade Valley Church Recorders, for patience, help and encouragement. The Heraldry Society, for help and access to Collins’ Peerage. The Genealogical Society, for the Family History Files and its very helpful staff. Finally, Michael Stanyon, the Dacorum Heritage Officer, who has given us great encouragement and provided the means of its publication.
Special thanks are due to Colin Hughes, for the photographs and shield reproductions, and for putting himself, his expertise, and his equipment at our service. Also in loving memory of his late wife, Lysbeth, who did the calligraphy for the Heraldry at an exhibition at the church at Little Gaddesden.
Special thanks are also due to R. A Mathieson, Heraldry Expert at Salisbury Cathedral, with whom it has been a great privilege to work. His knowledge, erudition, and kindness have been liberally given to us. It is due to him that the sources are complete.
Little Gaddesden Church is very grateful to the author for giving us permission to publish this material online. It was first published in booklet form in 2001, and that publication was supported by The Heritage Service of Dacorum Borough Council.
Header artwork: Tim Hockings; Main photo: Barbara Sheard