Page images
PDF
EPUB

absolute property of the widow is clear, from their being forfeited to the Crown, which would not have been the case had they been hers only for life.

* But though this inventory assists materially in clearing up three points in this transaction—viz., Ist, the lady's Christian name; 2d, whose wife she had been ; and 3d, that her crime was “ felony and murder "—the rest of the story remains as much as ever wrapped in mystery. It is not yet certain who was the person murdered ; and of the motive, place, time, and all other particulars, we are wholly ignorant. John Stow, the chronicler, who repeats what he found in the Grey Friars Chronicle, certainly adds to that account the words, "for murdering her husband.But as Stow was not born until two years after Lady Hungerford's execution, and did not compile his own chronicle until forty years after it, and as we do not know whether he was speaking only from hearsay or on authority, the fact that it was the husband still remains to be proved.

Excepting on the supposition that the Lady Agnes was a perfect monster among women, it is almost inconceivable that she should have murdered a husband who, only a few weeks or days before his death, in the presence of eleven clergymen and gentlemen known to them both, signed a document by which he made to her (besides the jointure from lands above alluded to) a free and absolute gift of all the personal property, including the accumulated valuables of an ancient family; and this to the entire exclusion of his only son and heir ! When the character of that son

and heir, notoriously cruel to his own wives, and subsequently sent to the scaffold for an ignominious offence, is considered, and when it is further recollected that he was not the son, but only step-son of this lady, certain suspicions arise which more than ever excite one's curiosity to raise still higher the curtain that hides this tragedy. We have also yet to learn of what family this lady was; for so far we have only just succeeded in obtaining accurately her Christian name. It is to be hoped that the particulars of the trial may hereafter come to light among the public records.'

The Inventory describes an extraordinary accumulation of valuable property, and is therefore proportionally curious in illustration of the manners and habits of the times. It commences with a list of plate and jewels. Much of the former was adorned with the Hungerford arms, and with the knot of three sickles interlaced, which was used as the family badge or cognizance. A spoon was inscribed with the motto, Myn assuryd truth ;' which same motto, under the form Myne trouth assured,' occurs also on the beautiful seal of Margaret Lady of Hungerford and of Bottreaux, who died in 1476.

1 The ancient badge of the Hungerfords was a single sickle, or handled gules (Collectanea Topograph. et Geneal. iii. 71). The sepulchral brass in Salisbury Cathedral of Walter Lord Hungerford (ob. 1449) and his wife, and another supposed to be that of his grandson Robert Hungerford (ob. 1463), were both semé of sickles (see their despoiled slabs or matrices engraved in Gough's Sepulchral Monuments, vol. ii. plate lvii.). The Hungerford knot was formed by entwining

H

Among the plate we notice 'forks with spones, to ete grene gynger with all,' the usual destination of the forks mentioned in English inventories. Thus, in an inventory of plate belonging to Edward 111. and Richard 11., we find these forks set with sapphires, pearls, etc. The forks are mentioned also as spoons: they may have either had prongs at one end and a bowl at the other, or have been made like the folding spoons of a more recent period, where a bowl fits over the prongs of the fork.

The vestments and ornaments of the chapel are next described; and then the furniture of the hall, parlour, an adjoining chamber, the nursery, the queen's chamber, the middle chamber, the great chamber, the chapel chamber, the lily chamber, the knighton chamber, the wardrobe chamber, the gallery, the chamber within the gallery, the women's chamber, the cellar, the buttery, the kitchen, the

three sickles in a circle. Three sickles and as many garbs, elegantly disposed within the garter, formed one of the principal bosses of the cloisters to St. Stephen's Chapel, Westminster. The standard of Sir John Hungerford of Down Ampney (temp. Hen. VIII.) was as follows : Red and green in the first compartment out of a coronet, or a garb of the same (charged with a mullet), between two sickles, crest argent, handled gules, banded or ; and in the same compartment three similar sickles, each charged on the blade with a mullet ; in the second compartment, three sickles interlaced around a mullet ; in the third, three like knots of sickles between two single sickles charged as before. The Hungerford crest was a garb between two sickles, all within a coronet : the garb is supposed to have come from the family of Peveril, one of whose co-heirs married Walter Lord Hungerford, K.G., who died 1449. By that alliance the silver sickle met the golden wheatsheaf.

storehouse, and the brewhouse. In the parlour furniture we notice 'a joined cubeboard'-a joined cupboard. It must be remembered that cupboards were not, as they are now, closets set even into the walls, but literally a board or table on which plate was set out, more like the modern sideboard. A considerable list of cupboard clothes may be found in the inventory of the wardrobe stuffs of Catharine of Aragon.

Then follows a list of the agricultural stock belonging to the Grange Place,' and the particulars of some parcels of armour “left in the Castle of Farley,' including brigandine, formed of small plates of metal quilted with linen or other tissue. Among the curious items is boy de money, or bent money. In the will of Sir Edward Howard, Knight, Admiral of England, 1512, occurs: 'I bequeath him [Charles Brandon] my rope of bowed nobles that I hang my great whistle by, containing ccc. angels. Money was often bent or bowed when intended to serve as love tokens, a custom perpetuated to the days of Butler :

* Like commendation ninepence bent,

With “ from and to my love” he went.' In the present instance it appears to have been bowed for offerings to saints.

A long and curious catalogue of the lady's own dress and personal ornaments is next given, with a list of some obligations or bonds for money, some items of household stuff remaining in her husband's house at Charing Cross (where the Hungerford name still lingers); and lastly, the raiment of her husband, which was in the keeping of her sonin-law.

The particular dwelling-house at which the principal part of the goods and furniture here described lay, is not positively mentioned by name ; but as, from the expression above quoted regarding the arms and armour, it would seem not to have been Farleigh Castle, there is every probability that the document chiefly relates to the manorhouse of Heytesbury, where Sir Edward Hungerford died. The manor is thus described in a survey made upon the attainder of Walter Lord Hungerford in 31 Henry vill. : “The sayde lordship standeth very pleasauntly, in a very swete ayer, and there ys begon to be buylded a fayre place, whiche, if it had bene fynyshed, had bene able to have receyved the kynges highnes; a fayre hall, with a goodly new wyndow mad in the same; a new parlor, large and fayre ; iiij. fayre chambers, wherof one is gyhted, very pleasant; a goodlie gallerie, well made, very long ; new kitchen ; new larder ; and all other houses of office belonging unto the same ; moted round aboute; whereunto doth adjoyne a goodly fayre orchard, with very pleasaunte walkes in the same' (Sir R. C. Hoare's Modern Wiltshire).

This account seems to describe a house that had been erected by Walter Lord Hungerford within the space of the last five years. However, it is certain that his father Sir Edward had also resided at Heytesbury, and the present document shows that in his time the manor-place was already out of 'good receipt' and ample furniture.

« PreviousContinue »