Frances Parthenope Verney.

Memoirs of the Verney family .. (Volume 3) online

. (page 28 of 36)
Online LibraryFrances Parthenope VerneyMemoirs of the Verney family .. (Volume 3) → online text (page 28 of 36)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


been highly inexpedient at such a moment to arrest
and search the Westminster boys ; so the bit of
crumpled white satin remained in Robert Uvedale's
pocket, to be proudly displayed in after years, and
preserved as an heirloom in his family.

This curious little bit of wreckage that has drifted
down to us from the storms of the seventeenth century
has found a safe harbour in the dignified seclusion of
the Bursar's Room at Lincoln College, Oxford. Its
possessor, the Rev. Washbourne West, is the lineal
descendant of Robert Uvedale, and the name of every
member of the family in whose keeping the relic has
been is known to him. It is owing to Mr. West's
kindness that the story has been told here, and the
Majesty Scutcheon reproduced. The boy himself, a
great-nephew of Sir William Uvedale, Sir Edmund's
old friend, went on to Trinity College, Cambridge,
where in later years he was actually elected to a
Fellowship in preference to Sir Isaac Newton. Behind
the frame that enshrines the scutcheon is a long
inscription, in Robert Uvedale's hand, beginning thus:
' Hoc Insigne raptum est a feretro tyranni Olivarii
Cromwelli, cum effigies ejus cerea, regali cultu ornata,
in aedibus Sancti Petri apud Westmonasterienses mag-
nifice se ostentabat,' &c.

The ' quiet bones ' of the poorest men and women
who fell victims to the epidemic at Clay don were at



426 VERNE Y FAMILY DURING THE COMMONWEALTH

least permitted ' among familiar names to rest, and
in the places of their youth ' ; but to the great man
who had played so large a part in England's history
this common privilege of humanity was denied. The
body laid in the Abbey vaults with such exaggerated
pomp of ceremonial was ere long to be dug up again
by the jackals of the Restoration, in order that every
insult might be heaped upon it that petty malignity
could devise.




aftfnm rr :,

y , y y /

- Fr&rnrtaLr> to c VlCMausu/r,

,1 p,iintniij vv (. tin C)/>nifr ti/-~d tlcnifii.



427



CHAPTER XII.

OF WOMEN'S MATTEES IN DISTRACTED TIMES.
1656-1659.

How small of all that human hearts endure

That part which laws or kings can cause or cure. GOLDSMITH.

SIK RALPH'S sisters and lady friends were all, with
one exception, Royalists ; Constitutional Freedom was
a cause for men to defend ; Charles Stuart was a
person for women to love and pity. The exception
was of course Eleanor, Countess of Warwick ; she
had grasped from the first the importance of the
issues, and had followed with enthusiasm every phase
of the struggle. She was the recognised chaperone
of the young Commonwealth whom other great
ladies snubbed as a low-born and presuming crea-
ture. During the Protectorate she figured as almost
our only Peeress, as well as being latterly step-
mother-in-law to the Protector's daughter. But
when, within a few months, Lord Warwick died, and
Cromwell's family were so completely swept into
oblivion as never again to influence English history,
the widowed Countess was carried along by the tide,
and Sir Ralph was soon called upon to arrange



428 VERNEY FAMILY DURING THE COMMONWEALTH

the settlements for her fourth marriage with the Earl
of Manchester, who also wedded for the fourth time.

Edward Montagu, Earl of Manchester, had always
been too lukewarm a partisan to satisfy Cromwell,
and was shortly to welcome the incoming dynasty.
Aunt Isham regrets that the Countess's mature
charms and triple jointure were not bestowed on Sir
Ralph himself, and writes, with a sly allusion to
Mrs. Aris's wedding : ' I could wish that you was
maried to the widdoe Warwick, ether a bed or up, so
you had her anyhow.'

Sir Ralph and Mr. John Gary of Ditchley ' are
careful to secure that Revenues, Rents, plate, jewels,
goods & chattels belonging to the said Countesse,'
shall ' continue to be in her sole & personal disposal.'
Splendid dress and furniture were coming once more
into fashion in the latter years of Oliver's rule.
Lady Warwick has ' a faire knot of gold, enamelled
with Tulipps set with Diamonds ' ; 'a greate round
Jewell of gold, set round with Rowes of diamond, &
one great diamond in the middle ' ; ' Ropes of Pearle,'
a fan-handle of emeralds and diamonds, another fan
with rubies ; ' a sweet bag embroidered with pearles,'
and ' sixteen dozen of buttons enamelled with black
with a diamond in every button ' probably the very
ones shown in her portrait at Ditchley.

One set of her tapestry hangings represents the
four seasons, another in eight pieces ' a designe of
flower-potts,' and there is ' a fine suite of landscape
hangings with pillars, of 155f Flemish ells,' in five



OF WOMEN'S MATTERS IN DISTRACTED TIMES 429

pieces. For the withdrawing- rooms are two complete
' suites,' one of ' blue wrought velvet, fringed with
blue' ; another in ' Crimson figured satten, with silk
fringe & gilt nailes, 4 Crimson wrought window
Curtaines lined with Crimson China Satten, & 1
greate Crimson velvet Cabin ett ' ; each suite has
' chaires, stooles & carpet to match.' The bedrooms
are furnished with equal splendour. We hear of a
' Crimson figured satten Bed, trimmed with Im-
broidered buttons and loopes, with Carpet, Chaires &
stooles suteable' ; ' 2 little China Carpets with coloured
silkes & gold ' ; ' one scarlet cloth bed lined with
Satten, a Counterpane of Satten trimmed with gold
& silver ffringe & a rich gold & silver iFringe about
the vallins ' ; another room is upholstered in ' Carna-
tion quilted satin,' and a fourth in ' greene cloth, with
Isabella & greene silk lace fringes, lined with Isabella
taffety, and sheetes edged with purle.' Her widow's
bed is of fine black embroidery, with ' a sheete
wrought with black silke shaddowed,' with black
chairs, stools, and carpet to match. We also hear of
gilt leather, and of carpets from Turkey and Persia.

When we pass to any family less sumptuously
lodged than that of the great Presbyterian Earl, the
women are as little able to vie with Lady Warwick
in upholstery as in political intelligence and influence.
Busy wives and mothers knew little and cared less
about the experiments in government the country
was carrying on, but home duties never ceased to
claim their heads and hearts. Children fell sick and



430 VERNE Y FAMILY DURING THE COMMONWEALTH

must be nursed ; christenings, weddings, and funerals
claimed their pious household rites, and rare indeed
was the home in which the unsettled times had not
brought a burden of painful retrenchment on its
mistress. Law suits abounded, and quarrels engen-
dered by the Civil War blazed up by the fireside as
vehemently as those of Presbyterians, army officers,
and Levellers in the world without.

John and Penelope Denton were still wrangling
with his mother and his many creditors, and when
he was not in Oxford gaol, ' Pen's bruit of a
husband,' as 'Doctor' called him, was apt 'to lay her
at his feet ' ; ' It is not long since that upon a slit
occasion, he did cik me about the house.' They
came to Clay don, but could never persuade Sir Ralph
to visit them, though Pen drank water to keep her
ale for him, and took his constant denials very ill.

Peg Elmes's ' disordered spleene,' and the im-
perious temper that distinguished her and her hus-
band alike, led them in 1657 to discuss the terms
of a separation. Sir Thomas thinks that ' to part in
Love . . . may increase it ... donn in a way that
nobody may know, certainly guess they will, lout know
they need not.' Peg's desire to detail her symp-
toms to every new doctor she heard of was a ' charge-
able diversion,' and Sir Thomas's notions of a proper
allowance were most niggardly. Peg wished to live
with Cary, and her sister was ready to welcome her
heartily, ' if we can agree upon tarmes of diet &
other conveniences which shee must have. Bot



OF WOMEN'S MATTERS IN DISTRACTED TIMES 431

from an eldar brother's tabill & the command of a
hous, & a coach & 4 horsis to an inconsiderabill
younger brother, & a father of many children & a
littell hous, it will be a great fall.' Margaret had
fed so long on the ' stalled ox and hatred therewith '
that she silenced Gary's scruples, but she herself
proved a troublesome addition to the ' dinner of
herbs' at Preshaw. To prepare for the trials of a
small establishment she desires her brother to order
' a plain sillvor woch ... as good a goeing one as
I coulde, for I have it merely to know how the time
goes away, & att Preshaw I am sertan, the nevor
have ather clock or woch.' She is to pay 5*. a cwt.
for the transport of her goods from London to
Hampshire, and is sending them off, but being very
unwell she lingers in the neighbourhood of physicians.
Sir Ralph fears her ' too greate love to London ' may
be misconstrued ' by Norton . . . and if you Falter
with your friendes at Preshaw, perhapps theire inindes
may alter too, and then I know not where you will
finde soe fit, soe good and soe honorable a retiring
place. By this time I know you are more then a
little angry.'

Sir Ralph was not mistaken. Peg's displeasure August,

*

fills two folio sheets : ' I may justly make yous of the
owlde fraise & say you tooke me up be foare I was
downe . . . sertenly brother you cannot thincke as I
stay heare now out of love to the plaise, when theare
is hardly a cretur in it that I know, but if theare ware,
I hope I have nevor caryed myselfe soe . . . but that



432 VERNEY FAMILY DURING THE COMMONWEALTH

I may stay in any plaise ... as I take the being 1
parted from my husband as no wayes to my honer soe
I take it for noe sich great dishoner as to be tied to
live in obscurity all my dayes.' Sir Ralph calls her 'as
captious a sister as she has been a wife,' and bids her
' steere what corse you please, you have now made
it very indifferent to your Brother Verney.' Peg
Sept. 23, retorts, but at this point Gary and the Doctor insist
that there shall be peace : ' Your D r & you must
. not thinke to tell every body of theire faults and goe
untold yourselves,' he writes, ' you, if theire father
had been alive, durst not use your sisters soe slightly
& pick quarrels . . . for feare they should be a
burden to you. ... I know noe reason why we
should be out of the common lot of all men. Christe
himselfe had his share herein, he was a Samaritan &
had a Divell, & why should we speed better than our
Master?.'

Sir Ralph once more took the Doctor's reproof
in good part, and soon busied himself again in
Margaret's interest. Before .the fretful invalid settles
at Preshaw, we may glance back at the family story
of the Stewkeleys during the two preceding years.

There had been a sad outbreak of small-pox there
in 1656 ; Gary had sent a note to a neighbour's
house not knowing they had it, and the coachman
brought back the infection. All the children and

o

step-children sickened ' of this disease, as loathsome
as dangerous ' ' we ware all one among another,
bot what fled.' The little ones should have been



OF WOMEN'S MATTERS IX DISTRACTED TIMES 433

sent out of the house, but Gary's maid was away on
a holiday, and ' infints are not essely disposed on.'
Cary ' never went to bed in seven nights together
besides many halfe nights ' ; she kept up while the
children were in danger and then broke down utterly,
whether ' from long woching,' as the Doctor said,
or from ' a sorfet of eating pigg,' as she herself
surmised, Mr. Stewkeley could not decide. He had
in vain preached prudence, and could only hope ' that
the seasonable advertisement of a brother may make
deeper Impressions then of a Husband in doing of
what many of us need noe remembrancer to love
ourselves. . . . As she lives in her children more
then in herself, so I wish the result of her maternall
care would center in the preservation of herself.'
Peg Gardiner narrowly escaped total blindness and
was * much worne out,' she ' is to keep on a mask
& searcloths this winter.' Ursula, who refused to
do the same, is deeply pitted.

Cary hopes to be free from infection by Christmas
' set the norsary aside, ther is no danger, I have
ared all plasis so well.' But prudence was thrown
to the winds and the house filled with guests on the
happy occasion of the wedding of a step-daughter in

November. ' Joy is comino* into our house againe, NOV. 27,

"
for this day Page & Jane is marryed, & I wish more

may follow ... I am going to gine in Merth with
the rest of our Company.' Ursula, with her deeply
scarred face, and Peg with her mask and searcloth,
were not very eligible bridesmaids. Gary's wish that

VOL. III. FF



434 VERNE Y FAMILY DURING THE COMMONWEALTH

' more may follow ' is explained by Ursula's conduct,
who questioned her step-mother's authority on other
points besides the care of her health and complexion.

June?, A daughter, Penelope, was born the next summer,
Gary's third child by John Stewkeley.

In the spring of 1658 Gary is preparing for the
wedding of another step -daughter, Anne, three years
older than Ursula, and much more amiable. The
snow is still deep in Hampshire in February and

Feb. 17, nas l a i n long;. ' The flock hath eat nothing but

1658

straw this 6 weekes, nethar can ther sarvant help it
for hay he had none, and if hee byes it hee must pay
4 pound a tonn and tis feared it will destroy the
flock, bot look on the least harme it can doe them
and ther woll must fall short, and bee an ill case to
be sold off at mickellmas nethar can they plow for
barley.' She is nevertheless full of her hospitable
preparations : ' For now I can acquant you that
nancy is to be marryed to one Mr. Grove a wellshe
gentelman of near 3 hondred a yeare in present
possestion, he is young and hancome and, I think,
very desarving every way, her banns are once asked,
bot shee is not to be inarryed till thursday senet
aftar yesterday, and your company is so ernestly
desiared that wee resolve to give you this timely
notis. You will meat heare S r John Cotton and his
lady with some relations of his, bot tis only near
kindred so wee acount it privat. Pray let not the
smallnesse of our house disharten you, for I shall
only troble you in haveing your sonn loay with you,



OF WOMEN'S MATTERS IN DISTRACTED TIMES 435

which I hope you will bare with, in a great bed.'
Sir Ralph hopes to come : ' But why do you Feb. 19,
Tantalize the poore young creature & make her
keepe soe strict a Lent. I love not Fish & were
she of my diet & humour (or perhaps of yours)
ceatainly she might well account it a very greate
severity.' Gary's household compilations increase ;
she has extended her hospitality to Betty, though
' trobled with the specktikill of a discontented
Sister ' ; Mr. Stewkeley's elder brother pays them
long visits and must be humoured, lest he leave his
money elsewhere ; Daughter Grove has returned in
a state when ' she is not to be crossed in anything '
and now Peg Elmes is expected.

Betty is wild to go off to London ' Hid Parck
and the cheries ther is veri plesant to me.' Gary is
always pleading for her with Sir Ralph ' I cannot
bot pety her when I consider the world hath frouned
uppon her, in that she cannot regain her own, though
tis A calamyty thousands have soffared with her . . .
her misfortune was not to be bred under parents, so
she was spoyled in her education by sarvants . . .
we must bare with her the more.' ' Truly Sister,'
Sir Ralph replies, ' if you yourselfe were of such a
humour, that you should sit wishing for death &
sigh & sobb & pout yourselfe into a sicknesse, could
you then with any confidence expect a more then
common comiseration ? . . . I must confesse your
proportion of good nature doth very farre exceed my
owne, for had I a sister in my house (nay a Wife)

F F 2



436 VERNEY FAMILY DURING THE COMMONWEALTH

that would have beene noe better pleased, my stock
of kindnesse & patience would have been soe wholly
spent, that shee could not have been neare soe long
suffered to inhabit there with me.'

When Peg was ill at Preshaw, ' Sis Betty,' to do

her justice, ' did as much as any sarvant for her.'

Oct. 22, p e o- had been l even to death's dore, to coldness &

1658 t '

stiffness these 20 daies ' ; her husband was ' in great
hopes of her death,' and Aunt Isham considered that
' she would be Little Lamented, the more is hir
misery.' But Death himself was in no hurry to
possess Peg Elmes, and she managed to get back to
town leaving her kind hosts much dissatisfied with
the 20 she had left to defray the heavy expenses of
Jan. 4, her long illness. ' Truly I thought Pegff would a delt

1659

hansomber with me,' Gary writes, ' bot I will try my
wits to make the best of it to my husband ... as
we came together in love so wee will part ; bot I
dare boldly say shee will not be so obsarved in any
Jan. 11, family againe in hast nor so waighted on.' ' Peg
thinks she can live cheaper in London then hear . . .
bot I have cast it up 80 a year it will cost her,
besids wine & breckfasting & washing & candle &
bear ; & for the coach 5 a yeare, & hear she had
two sarvants & thar will have bot one, & for fuell
you may ges the diferanc. . . . The D r heare thinks,
bot shee is angry to heare him ... if shee taks not
much physick shee will be the better . . . all this is
tresone.' ' I am shur a door did not shot hard in my
hous bot it disordered her, though now it semes the



OF WOMEN'S MATTERS IX DISTRACTED TIMES 437

noys of musick & so much company can be indured ;

& heare she did punctually take something every '2

howars or elc shee was faint. If Jornes can make

one gaine so much stringth ... I think it ware a

good way for me to torn travelar : bot I thang God

for the remove for I feind much ease to my mind &

to my body sine she went away.' ' Tis well Pegg Feb. u,

could stay so long out of her chamber,' Gary writes

again, ' hear was not a window cortains undrane &

shee sat in a clos wickkar char, with a rogg rapt

all about her, & a choshen under her feet besids.'

' Doctors' Fines will be her constant chamber fol- April 19,

lowars. Truly D r Are & D r Care is my chef physis-

tions, though I am fain to have a more chargabill

D r many times, bot ther is one D l Yerney, would

due as great a cuare on mee as the othar three.'

Of Sir Ralph's remaining sister, Mary Lloyd,
there are few memorials during these years, except
'her piteous begging letters ' I have not a gowiie
that will hange on my Bake, it is so olde that as I
mende it in one place, it teares out in a nother, so
that I am clothed with rages ... & all most nacked.'
Robert Lloyd seems to have settled in Wales ' for
there all things are cheaper.' Their son Humphrey
w r as born in June 1657 ; in 1659 Dr. Denton and
Mr. Gape are ' mediating with Sir Ralph.' to grant
his sister a cow ; and Mary writes ' Pray dericthe
your letters for to be lefte att Mrs. Magdalen Lloyd's
shoope in Wrixham for mee.'

Sir Ralph had set his heart upon a family gather-



438 VERNE Y FAMILY DURING THE COMMONWEALTH

ing in the autumn of 1659. It was six years since
Gary Gardiner had been at Claydon ; it was difficult
for her to travel either with or without her large
party, but she will come ' if general trebles befall us
not/ Sir Ralph urges Aunt Sherard to join them :
Aug. 10, ' Tis but a stepp to Claydon & my Coach shall
attend your daughters and my Cozen Fust, when &
where you please to command it, & for theire sakes I
shall double my endeavour to save my Horses from the
soldiers who at this hower doe s war me at Brickill,
Stratford, Alisbury, & in some little villages neare
me, & I heare are unruly enough in all places, but
these only pass towards Cheshire, and make no stay
in these parts, therfore you need not feare them.
The first week in September (if Times are quiet) my
Sister Gardner brings Preshaw heather ; Sister Elmes
Sister Denton and Brother Harry meet her heere ; in
the interim Sister Elmes visits Ratcliffe, and Harry,
Stowe, because tis a more confiding Place then Clay-'
don. Doubt not want of Lodging for we Virgins
are resolved to Ligg l alltogeather. On Mounday
there was about a Thousand Foot marched through
my grounds about halfe a mile off, & on Tuesday
some 5 hundred horse & Dragoons with theire Ord-
nance & 9 wagons of Ammunition & I was soe very
a cloune as not to invite them to my house : but to



1 Ligg, to lie down :

And they were bidden for to slepe
Liggende upon the bed aloft.

GOWER, HalliwelVs Diet.



OF WOMEN'S MATTERS IN DISTRACTED TIMES 439

bee more searious, God be thanked I did not suffer
by them. I am informed that greater numbers of
horse & foot then wee have yet seene are to passe
very suddenly ; all immaginable haste is made to
reduce Chesheire, soe that I hope they will finde no
leasure to bee injurious to me.' John Stewkeley
returns thanks, from ' Pickadilly,' for the invitation.
' The late noysis of riesings puts mee in a fear/ Gary Aug. 16,
writes later. ' that I have no fortune to see Claydon,
the plas I do much long to be at ; for if distorbances
incres I would not be so uncevell to trobell your
house, knowing strangers are unseasonabill at souch
tims.'

Sister Betty came with the Gardiners, Mun and
Jack were at home, and so complete was the gather-
ing that there is not a single family letter written to
Sir Ralph during that month of September. It cer-
tainly required some courage on his part to receive
his four sisters ; they usually discovered in their old
home some piece of furniture or linen which they
claimed as a right under their mother's will, or
begged as a favour. This time Pen and Peg took a
fancy to the same chair, and called each other hard
names about it ; Pen considered that Peg's self-will
' hath grone up with her from her cradell ; all
together she cannot make her great brags, her one

will, hether two, hath maide her unfortinate

I must follow Sister Gardiner's good humer and
forget her ill humer to us both.'

Gary writes to her brother, on the way home,



440 VERNEY FAMILY DURING THE COMMONWEALTH

Oct. 21, ' At the bare ' at Reading : ' In souch paper as the
Inne affords me, I cannot but let you know wee are
safely arived at Reding before sunset, and your
horsis have performed ther joriiey very well. I ac-
knowledg the gretest of thanks is due to you though
I cannot expres it to you. I know by this time you
have the hapy chang of your quiet which you could
not have in souch a rout. My sarves to all your
good company and till them I would have them
pounc the pety-coat still and charg Hary to frighten
Ante I sham with his ugly faces elc I shall take it
ill.'

Penelope and her husband stayed two months at
Claydon, and John Stewkeley thus describes their

NOV. 3, return journey : ' The Squier had a sad martch to
London : hee had a great contest with Pen for a
place in the coach, but Scartlett was preferd before
him : hee rode as near the coach as if his horse had
been tied to it, and was wett to the skin before hee
came halfway.'

We can see Sir Ralph's carriages and the party
of riders clattering into the market-palce at Ayles-
bury, all splashed and dripping after fourteen miles
of heavy November roads ; we hear the hard words
and hard blows exchanged as the passengers struggle
for places in the public coach ; while the Claydon
servants, the post-boys and ostlers are grinning to
see Squire Denton foiled in his efforts to push
away his wife, in order to secure an inside seat for
himself.



OF WOMEN'S MATTERS IN DISTE ACTED TIMES 441

Peg Elmes describes the ' great disorder ' the
1 Squier ' was put into, ' for he was turned a horse-
back in all the wett . . . soe he had noe good luck
after all his long feasting.'

No wonder that his ill-humour lasted beyond the
journey ; ' his black eye,' writes Brother Stewkeley,
' hath made him very nice of admitting any to see
him since hee came up ; hee is scarce in charity yet
with his playfellows, but time will doe it.'

Anne Hobart, staying with Daughter Smith at
Ratcliffe, and looking back upon Claydon hospitali-
ties, writes to Sir Ralph : ' I pety you from my
hart, that you have so much compeny, but when I
conseder how near and dear they ar all to you it tis
a recreaton, espeshally when it corns but sildom.'

Betty Yerney returned with the Stewkeleys to Pre-
shaw where she relapsed into sad fits of grumbling ;
but it is impossible not to sympathise with the poor
orphan girl, who had missed all the petting and spoil-
ing that were her due as the youngest of a large family,



Online LibraryFrances Parthenope VerneyMemoirs of the Verney family .. (Volume 3) → online text (page 28 of 36)