Recently the rains washed off some soil in a muddy Shropshire field, and yet another metal detectorist had a lucky find–a hawking ring from the Elizabethan period. The most intriguing thing to me was the very bold lettering spelling the name JOHN TALBOT AT GRAFTON across the band of the tiny ring. As it was from the Shropshire area and the Talbots were Earls of Shrewsbury, I was interested as to whom it is thought it belonged to and if there was any connection, as seemed likely, to the family of Eleanor Talbot, Edward IV’s Secret Queen.


Of course there was a link, as expected. The ring, if its date is correct, may have belonged either to Sir John Talbot of Grafton, a recusant Catholic related by marriage to one of the Gunpowder Plot Conspirators, or to his father, also Sir John, who may be the likelier candidate, because he also owned Albrighton in Shropshire as well as Grafton in Worcestershire.

As for their descent, before that came another John Talbot who died in 1549, then prior to him, Sir Gilbert Talbot, who had supported Henry Tudor at Bosworth, commanding the right wing. Gilbert got the lands at Grafton after Sir Humphrey Stafford was executed for his part in the Lovell Rebellion of 1486; he was married to Elizabeth Greystoke, but his son John was born from his second marriage to Etheldreda or Audrey Cotton. Gilbert’s father was John Talbot, the 2nd earl of Shrewsbury and his mother was Maud Neville. John was the half-brother of Eleanor Talbot, who was born from the first earl’s second marriage to Margaret Beauchamp.


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