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“Bone Detectives” come to Ipswich …

and other venues, with Tori Herridge and Raksha Dave.

This Channel Four series, which consists of five episodes, begins at Stoke Quay on the town’s Waterfront where a long-forgotten (St. Augustine’s) burial ground was fully explored before some new buildings were constructed. Three bodies in particular were examined:
1) A wealthy man buried in the nave between about 1250 and 1400. Provisionally identified as John de Holtby, he evidently suffered from the painful, but not deadly, Paget’s disease and suffered some spinal cuts. These could not have resulted from surgery or torture because of their post-mortem nature so he must have suffered dissection, in an era that the Church forbade such a practice.
2) A boy or youth, born abroad, who died between 880 and 1040, in the late Anglo-Saxon era.
3) A young African-born woman, who travelled via Denmark or Germany. She is likely to have suffered from tuberculosis and kyphosis, as the late Mark Ormrod revealed.

The other episodes revealed “Ava”, a mysterious young woman who was buried in Caithness, now adjacent to the A9, and Norton Priory, a monastery near an industrial estate in Runcorn. The museum on this site holds hundreds of skeletons, including:
1) A well-preserved male, who died aged 50-60 in 1150-1250. He died by a vertical sword wound whilst not wearing armour, which was evidently not an execution, to be buried near the nave. He, another Paget’s disease sufferer with thicker bones and some hearing loss, is likely to be a knight and a member of the Dutton family, who were in the Earl of Chester’s retinue and were major benefactors to Norton. Sir Geoffrey Dutton, with John de Lacy and Ranulph Earl of Chester, went on the Fifth Crusade, principally to Egypt, in 1220. Documents from seven years later show that he returned, donating land from great Budworth to the Priory, as well as a fragment of the “True Cross”.
2) Yet another wealthy Paget’s sufferer from that era, buried in the east part, who is possibly Canon William Dutton.
3) Another layman who died in the following century, in his forties. He had a fractured clavicle and a rotator cuff injury that may have resulted from jousting. This took place at nearby sites such as Beeston Castle.

The fourth episode moved on to Amesbury Down, where a housing estate was built in 2013. As a result, some 250 graves were examined, finding 291 bodies, including:
1) A socially prominent man, found with coins from c.375 AD as the Roman era ended. He had been decapitated and stabbed after his death, but why? This was not a “Valley of the Kings” style grave burial as his grave goods were still present. A Bronze Age ditch divided the settlement from the cemetery. A visit to the Temple of Minerva explained that the raid was possibly carried out to prevent the deceased from causing harm to living people.
2) A woman and child in a stone sarcophagus. Their shoes and some fabric remained but the style of burial caused their bones to decay more than others. The remains do show her to have been gracile and to have died at  a similar time to the man.
Unlike Ipswich and Runcorn, there are no suggestions of their identities.

The series concluded in Bristol, in the grounds of St. George’s Concert Hall, formerly a church, where 300 bodies were buried, mostly between 1820 and 1870. These included:
1) A boy of about nine months, from an era of high infant mortality. Identified as Edmund Chambers Moutrie (1833), the youngest of eight siblings from an affluent family, was found in a family vault and dissected, as were about a dozen other of the cases.
2) A man of at least fifty who had a hard physical life as shown by his broken bones and joint disease. His autopsy was carried out crudely, probably at the teaching hospital Bristol Royal Infirmary, visible from the churchyard.
3) A man of about forty, who was a pipe-smoker and had a leg amputated but replaced in his coffin.
BRI’s lead surgeon was one Richard Smith, who was involved in the body-snatching craze of the early nineteenth century, until executed criminals were made available for the purpose.

Did Richard II hide his treasure down a Cheshire well….?

“….To provide the castle’s inhabitants with fresh water, wells were dug into the rock. One at 370 feet (113 m) deep, is one of the deepest castle wells in England. According to legend, it was the hiding place of Richard II’s treasure which he stashed before leaving England in 1399 to quell the rebellion in Ireland. The treasure has never been found….”

Richard II leaves for Ireland, 1399 – from Froissart’s Chronicles

And where is this deep well? Beeston Castle in Cheshire, which county was, of course, one of Richard II’s main source of support. We’ve all heard of his famous Cheshire Archers, who were both loathed and feared,

To see the article which has prompted me now, go to Ancient Origins. The pink also contains a fascinating 3D reconstruction of the castle at its height, literally. Recommended.

But don’t all descend upon Beeston in search of hidden gold!

A matter of Norman logistics…?

 

Here’s an amusing typo:

“….Earl Ranulph III in his Magna Carter gave many of Mondrem’s inhabitants, including free tenants, increased liberties which allowed them to exploit the natural landscape….”

I won’t say where I found it, but it provided me with a welcome laugh. Is the author implying that Earl Ranulph was the Eddie Stobart of his day???

Edward IV, Dame Eleanor and the Phantom Web of Impediments

Introduction

The precontract (i.e. prior marriage) between Edward IV and Eleanor Butler, née Talbot, has long been a subject of debate, but what has not previously been claimed is that Edward and Eleanor were so closely related as to have been unable to make a valid marriage without a special dispensation from the Pope.  Recently, however, a writer using the pen name of Latrodecta has claimed (https://ricardianloons.wordpress.com/2018/09/08/the-trial-that-should-have-happened-in-1483/#comment-454)  that they shared a relationship within the prohibited degrees, viz. “3rd degree consanguinity, 3rd degree affinity”.

Latrodecta has identified this impediment as arising from Edward’s mother Cecily Neville being the first cousin of Maude Neville of Furnivall, the first wife of Eleanor’s father, John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, and the mother of Eleanor’s older half-siblings. The claim is apparently that – despite the relationship involving no blood tie between Edward and Eleanor – it counts as an impediment of both consanguinity and affinity because half-siblings are included in the prohibited degrees of kinship. The author further claims that “Corroboration can be found in the dispensation granted for the marriage of his son [i.e. Edward IV’s younger son] and her niece [i.e. Anne Mowbray] – the relationship between her sister [i.e. Elizabeth Talbot Duchess of Norfolk] and Edward would have been the same” (that is to say, the same as between Edward and Eleanor herself).

I shall return to these claims, but first it will be necessary to explain these two types of impediment, what they are and how they were calculated at the period under consideration.

Consanguinity and Affinity

Consanguinity and affinity are the chief types of relationship that, under canon law, can produce a diriment (nullifying) impediment to a marriage. Of these, consanguinity is the easiest to understand as it is a simple blood tie: where there is no common ancestor, there can be no impediment of consanguinity. Impediments of affinity arose in those days from sexual intercourse (now only from marriage).[1] The two sexual partners were deemed to have become, as it were, ‘one flesh’. Latrodecta should therefore not have been the least bit surprised to have ‘seen a case where the bridegroom had to obtain a dispensation because he’d already slept with his future mother-in-law’.

It is a common, indeed almost ubiquitous, misconception amongst ordinary historians that the relationship thus formed barred the couple’s respective blood relatives from marrying each other, but this is not so.[2] Prior to 1215, the impediment of affinity had, it is true, been slightly complicated by the rule that a person’s second partner contracted affinity not only with the consanguines of the spouse but also with his or her closest affines (i.e. their new step-kin); at no time, however, had any couple shared a relationship of affinity without one of them having had a prior sexual relationship to cause it; two virgins could never be each other’s affines. Hence, when St. Augustine asked of Pope Gregory: ‘Is it permissible for two brothers to marry two sisters, provided there be no blood ties between the families?’ the great pontiff had replied: ‘This is quite permissible.’[3] The rules had been further simplified by the Fourth Council of Lateran (1215 AD), which had abolished the impediment between certain blood relatives of a person’s two spouses.[4] The unifying principle of the remaining impediments is encapsulated in the maxim affinitas non parit affinitatem (‘affinity does not beget affinity’).[5]

By the 15th century, therefore, there were no longer any step relationships that created impediments other than those (such as stepfather and stepdaughter) that just happened to involve direct affinity. In fact, it was almost de rigueur at this period for a widow and widower to cement their own union with at least one marriage between the offspring of their former marriages.

In the late Middle Ages, both consanguinity and affinity created an impediment to marriage up to the level of third cousins (another rule brought in by the Fourth Lateran Council).[6] The method of calculation in use at the time – the so-called Germanic method – is extremely simple to use.

Edward and Eleanor: Consanguinity

To check for an impediment of consanguinity, one simply draws up two direct-ancestry trees, one for each party to the proposed marriage, with the prospective bride/ groom at one end, their parents (1st-degree consanguines) in the next row, after them their grandparents (2nd-degree consanguines), then their great-grandparents (3rd-degree consanguines), and lastly their great-great-great-grandparents (4th degree consanguines).[7] Then one stands back, looks for any names common to both trees and counts the generations from each partner up to the closest match in any given line. Most often, the common stock, as it is called, (stirps in Latin) will be a couple, but it can also be a single individual, as would occur if an ancestor had married twice and the bride was descended from one of those marriages and the groom from the other. This is what is meant, and all that is meant, by half-siblings counting in the same way as full siblings: the only relevant half-siblings are those who link the couple via their shared ancestor.

I have carried out this very exercise for Edward and Eleanor, highlighting any common ancestors in red. As can be seen, there are none.

Note that Maud Furnivall, identified in the above article as the route to the alleged 3rd-degree impediment, appears on neither Edward’s nor Eleanor’s table; this is because she was only a collateral relation of Edward and no blood relation of Eleanor at all.

Let us now turn to the assertion that the dispensation for Anne Mowbray and Richard of Shrewsbury corroborates this alleged 3rd-degree consanguinity. There are, I fear to say, two problems with this, one of them terminal. First (to be picky) the Anne Mowbray dispensation is for consanguinity in the 3rd and 4th degrees (i.e. one of them was 3 degrees removed from the common stock, and the other, 4 degrees),[8] whereas an even 3rd-degree consanguinity between Edward and the Talbot sisters would have resulted in an even 4th-degree consanguinity between little Richard and Anne. But rather more seriously, Latrodecta has overlooked the salient fact that all children have two parents. As the following consanguinity chart for Richard Duke of York and Anne Mowbray clearly shows, they were indeed related in the 3rd and 4th degrees but Anne’s relationship to Edward’s family lay on her father’s side and in no way involved her Talbot ancestry.

Edward and Eleanor: Affinity

Now let us turn to affinity. By sexual union, the consanguines of the one partner become the affines of the other. So, for instance, if Harry’s previous partner was Sally’s second cousin, then Harry and Sally would be related by affinity in the 3rd degrees. The check for affinity therefore works on the same principle as for consanguinity,[9] except that the bride/groom needs to compare her/his consanguinity tree with that of the prospective spouse’s previous partner(s). This exercise I have carried out for Edward and Eleanor by drawing up this chart showing Sir Thomas Butler’s ancestry. Unfortunately Thomas’s chart is not complete in all areas, and not 100% verified in others, because much of his ancestry is relatively humble and not recorded, but it is highly unlikely that any of these obscure Cheshire ancestors would feature on the table of Edward of March. In short, there was no affinity between them either.

Conclusion

There was no relationship preventing Edward Plantagenet and Eleanor Butler from marrying each other.  Readers do not need to take my word for this: there are plenty of sources available online that set out the different prohibitions and methods of calculating degrees of relationship in use by the Catholic Church at different periods. To be sure one has the correct understanding, all that is needed is to perform a few test calculations on couples whose ancestry and marriage dispensations are both known. Or some may wish to begin, as Edward IV’s councillors must have done in 1464, by checking for (non-existent) common ancestors on the trees of Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville and Sir John Grey.  


[1] The impediment of affinity arising from extramarital relationships was also to be gradually abolished.  The first step was taken in the 16th century by the Council of Trent, which limited its effect to the 2nd degree (first cousins), but it was not until 1917 that this impediment was wholly confined to the consanguines of previous spouses. 

[2] The most notable recent intrusion of this error into late-fifteenth-century English history is Michael Hicks’ claim that Clarence’s marriage to Isabel Neville prohibited Richard’s marriage to Isabel’s sister.

[3] Mary O’Regan, ‘Marriage Dispensations According to St Augustine’, Ricardian Bulletin, Autumn 2008, pp. 34-35.

[4] https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/lateran4.asp, canon 50.

[5] Thomas de Charmes, Theologica Universa ad Usum Sacræ Theologiæ Canditatorum, vol. 7 (1765), p. 357.

[6] https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/lateran4.asp, canon 50.

[7] A particularly clear explanation is given in the 1917 Catholic Encyclopaedia under ‘Consanguinity (in Canon Law)’: ‘Mode of Calculation’ (https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04264a.htm).

[8] ‘Dispensation . . .  notwithstanding that they are related in the third and fourth degrees of kindred’ (Calendar of Papal Register Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, ed. J. A. Twemlow, vol. 13 [London, 1955], p. 236).

[9] Again, The Catholic Encyclopaedia gives a useful summary under ‘Affinity (in Canon Law)’ (https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01178a.htm).

The castles of Lancashire….

 

taken from the article mentioned below

I have to admit that when I think of England’s many castles, I don’t always think of Lancashire. But this article names and features no fewer than twelve.

So read and enjoy!

 

‘I saw something shining…’ Metal Detecting Finds..

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The Staffordshire Hoard.  One of the biggest hoard of Anglo Saxon artefacts every discovered.  See more of this hoard below..

A story has broken of four ‘metal detectorists’ who have been convicted of stealing a hoard of Anglo-Saxon coins and jewellery worth 3 million pounds, most of which is, tragically, still missing.  You can tell from the pictures of the stuff that has been recovered the quality of the still missing items, which now may never be recovered,  after probably being sold on the black market.

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A gold ring dating back to the reign of King Alfred the Great

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A crystal rock pendant chased in gold  dating back to the 5th century

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Gold arm bangle with a dragon or serpents head design dating from the 9th century..

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A gold coin from the reign of King Alfred the Great..

Just before this story broke I was intending to write a story about metal detectorists that have made some wonderful discoveries and have done the right thing handing them over,  also being paid quite handsome sums.  I list some of these discoveries below.    Although I have had to mention the fact that a small handful of people wielding metal detectors have behaved despicably, for which they will now being paying the price –  long prison sentences –  the majority of finds are declared most of which would have lain undiscovered if not for metal detectorists.  So I say as long as they behave honourable and do not disturb places of historical importance then long may they continue to find beautiful items of great historical interest.

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Medieval garnet and turquoise ring circa 1250-1450.  Found at Barnham Broom, Norfolk.

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The Escrick Ring.  900-1100 AD -Viking.  Only the second time a use of a sapphire has been recorded in England (1)  Found in 2009 and  now in the Yorkshire Museum.

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The famous Middleham Jewel.  Gold with a sapphire.  Dated between 1475 and 1499.  Discovered in 1985 near Middleham Castle.  Now at the York Museum.  

 

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A gold 15th century hat pin found inches below the surface of a newly ploughed Lincolnshire field.  

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Seventeen Medieval coins.  A Welsh find.

image.pngSword Pommel.  Bedale Hoard.  Late 9th to 10 Century.  One of 48 items.  Now in the Yorkshire Museum.

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Gold Brooch – two hands clasped together, note the decorative sleeves.  Only the size of a pound coin.  Found in a field in Cheshire.  Circa 1350.  Thought to be a betrothal gift.  

image.pngA fitting from hilt of a Seax (a large single bladed knife) – one of the items from the Staffordshire Hoard  discovered in 2009 in a field near Lichfield and the largest collection of Anglo Saxon Gold and silver to be ever discovered.image.png

A helmet from the Staffordshire Hoard and fit for a King..image.png

The helmet has been reconstructed as it was  badly damaged before it was buried.

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A mystery object from the Hoard that has left archaeologists  baffled.    Suggestions have been the lid of a container, an extension of a helmet, a saddle fitting?

And so its clear that metal detectorists are a valuable asset in recovering lost treasures frequently  alerting archaelogists to a site and further finds that would have remained undiscovered.  How many more finds are out there awaiting the intrepid metal detector to discover them?  Bring it on!

 

  1. Online article.  University of York.  The first earliest example of a sapphire being used in jewellery in England was 5th century Roman.

 

Richard III sold Northwich to the Stanleys….

Joe Allman’s shop on Winnington Hill in the 1950s

On 17th September 1483, Richard III sold the manor and village of Northwich, Cheshire, to the Stanleys. Did that grasping family do some good for once? Or did Northwich wish Richard had kept it? Who knows. The Stanleys were certainly expert at acquiring property and then hanging on to it—Northwich remained theirs until the late 18th century.

Regarding Northwich itself, this site deals with photographs of its 1950s self. It’s always astonishing to see how much things have changed in the last half-century or more…and how much some things haven’t. The house in the above image (Joe Allman’s shop) looks as if it should have fallen in on itself centuries ago, yet there it stood…until removed by the soulless powers-that-were.

Regarding Joe Allman’s shop in the image, according to Francis Frith :-

“…. This shop had solid soil floors. It was full of old junk which now I suppose would be classed as antiques. Joe Allman was the owner and was made to leave as the Council stated that the building was unfit for human occupation; another great blunder by the local council that seems to be hell bent on removing anything of interest in Northwich.  The shop was situated at the bottom of Winnington Hill, next door to the barrel roofed house (again destroyed) reputed to have been built by navvies who put their canal tunnel building to use….”

Oh, isn’t this example of wanton vandalism by councils just typical? So much of our heritage was lost this way. It’s something that makes me so angry, because almost all of it was unnecessary. Medieval buildings and whole streets could have been saved with a little thought. Instead they were swept away, usually for modern buildings that won’t stand any test of any time! And aren’t worth preserving anyway.

The above site is well worth a visit because of the photographs…and to learn of Northwich’s development since the 15th century.

A Peterborough mystery

Peterborough is a well-planned city. The walk from station to Cathedral passes through two short subways, with an optional detour to start of the Nene Valley Railway heritage line, to a semi-pedestrianised street with the Cathedral ahead,  with a range of shops, restaurants and even a parish church on the approach. The Queensgate Centre includes a footbridge over the main road from the centre back to the station. The Cathedral is adjacent to a cafe and bank in other ancient structures.

The building itself was converted from of the remains of Peterborough Abbey and the last Abbot, John Chambers, became the first Bishop, a fate very unlike that of his counterparts. Katherine of Aragon (left) is buried there, as was Mary Stuart (below) until her son removed her remains to Westminster Abbey. It is, however, the second Bishop that concerns us here.

As the plaque in that Cathedral relates, his name was David Pole and he held the see from 1556-9. At first light, it is easy to conclude that this was a misprint for Reginald, who was Cardinal and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1555-8, whilst there had been many high-level pluralists in ecclesiastical history, such as Thomas Wolsey. Furthermore, David is a highly unusual name in sixteenth century England. However, the ODNB reveals that David had a separate existence from Reginald and the clinching argument is that he was demonstrably Vicar-General of Coventry and Lichfield whilst Reginald was in exile in Italy and his mother and nephew were in the tower. Reginald died on 17 November 1558 and Matthew Parker was not appointed to succeed him until the following year. David Pole played a part in this process before being deprived and is thought to have died in 1568.

So where would David Pole, who the ODNB suggest was possibly related to Reginald, fit in to the great family? He was definitely not a son or grandson of Sir Richard and Margaret, Countess of Salisbury as their issue can all be accounted for, but that he was a Fellow of All Souls, Oxford, by 1520 show that he was approximately of Reginald’s age, the latter having been born in 1500. Before that, Sir Richard’s father was Geoffrey Pole I of Cheshire or North Wales, possibly descended from the Princes of Powys, who is not thought to have had other sons. At best, therefore, he was Reginald’s second cousin, but evidence of any such relationship is missing.

My, my, some families really do not change their spots….!

Arms of Sir John Stanley I

While researching fourteenth-century Northamptonshire, I happened upon Sir John Stanley (1350-1414). “Stanley’s father was Master-Forester of the Forest of Wirral, notorious for his repressive activities. Both Stanley and his older brother, William (who succeeded their father as Master-Forester), were involved in criminal cases which charged them with a forced entry in 1369 and in the murder of Thomas Clotton in 1376.” Nice guys, right?

Stanley was found guilty, and outlawed. But because he was proving himself as a military fighter, he was pardoned—helped in this by Sir Thomas Trivet, who had a habit of getting scoundrels off the hook. He did the same for Sir John Cornwall, Senior, who was definitely a bad lot, but that’s another story.

Well, although Sir John Stanley was a younger son, in 1385 he made a very fortunate marriage. In the teeth of strong opposition from John of Gaunt, he wed Isabel Lathom, who was heir to swathes of land in Lancashire. Stanley was on the up!

He did well under Richard II, becoming the deputy in Ireland of Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland. Richard II chose Stanley as justiciar of Ireland, and he was very much part of Richard’s successful first expedition to that land. Next, Stanley was prominent in soothing trouble in Cheshire, and took part in Richard’s second, ill-advised expedition to Ireland. This expedition came to an abrupt end when Henry of Bolingbroke, Gaunt’s heir as Duke of Lancaster, who had been exiled by Richard, invaded England to take the throne as Henry IV. Returning to England, “Stanley, who had long proved adept at political manoeuvring, turned his back on Richard and submitted to Henry IV.” Richard was imprisoned and soon died under mysterious circumstances.

So, the Stanleys were at it in 1399/1400 as well. Political jiggery-pokery, deserting their rightful King Richard, and smarming up to the wrongful King Henry. But this one did well, becoming King of Man, a privilege he and his descendants enjoyed until the 18th century.

Spots? Never change?

Stanley is granted the Isle of Man

http://www.cheshirenow.co.uk/stanley_family.html and http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/people/lords/stanleys.htm. And see this list of offices held by Sir John Stanley.

 

 

 

 

Thomas Stanley, or, the man with the evil beard….

Thomas Stanley

For anyone interested in knowing what made slippery Lord Stanley tick, here is an excellent evaluation, save that Sir William was executed for refusing to oppose “Perkin”, not for supporting him. The man was a born opportunist and survivor. Full stop. Oh, and he had an evil beard!

 

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