Reblogged from A Medieval Potpourri

Being of somewhat a silly old romantic I was pleasantly surprised to read in the blurb of Kingsford’s Stonor Letter and Papers 1290-1483 that there were love letters to be found among them. And what could possibly be nicer than a medieval love letter? And there they were, letters from the three wives of Sir William Stoner c.1449-1494. I wonder if having kept these letters indicated that Sir William was of a romantic bent himself although to be fair all Stonor correspondence was kept so that would be pushing it a bit. 

Sir William has an interesting history and was the recipient of some well known letters written by Simon Stallworth during the period just after Edward IV’s death and Richard III taking the throne describing the turmoil that was going on in London (1). Sir William did eventually choose to go over to the ‘dark side’ joining the Buckingham rebellion (why Sir William, why, why WHY?) but more of that later as I want to focus here on his wives letter to him. I should mention he couldn’t have been all bad as he managed to annoy Queen Elizabeth Wydeville who wrote a stiff letter of reprimand to him. 

Sir William married three times, and although all three marriages would have been typical of the times, made to improve status and finances, these letters show that these marriages could often lead, happily, to love for the participants.

ELIZABETH RYCHE nee Croke d.1479

Elizabeth was Sir William’s first wife marrying him in the summer of 1475.  A rich widow, her husband Thomas Ryche was the son of Richard Ryche, a wealthy London mercer, her father John Croke was a London alderman.  Elizabeth had three daughters from her first marriage but no children with Sir William.  

The 12 September 1476 found a worried Elizabeth writing to her husband ‘gentyll Cosyn …I understonde that my brother and yowris is sore seke of the poxes. wherfore I am right hevy and sory of your beyng there, ffor the eyre of the poxe is fful contageous and namely to them than ben nye of blode.  Wherfore I woulde praye you, gentyll Cosyn, that you wolde come hedyr, yif hit wolde plese you so to doo &c.  And yif that hit lyke you not so to doo, lettith me have hedyr some horsis I pray you that I may come to you..ffor in good faith I can fynde hit in my herte to put my self in jupardy there as ye be, and shall do whilst my lyffe endurith.. For in good faith I thought never so long sith I saw you…         By your ovne Elysabeth Stonore

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  1. I keep thinking that Elizabeth Croke Stonor had one more husband in there — the children were certainly Ryches, though. Also, don’t forget the Thomas Betson love letter.


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