Tag Archives: Richard Cromwell

23 December – Of Samuel Pepys, three nuns, a turkey and that man Cromwell.

pepysWith only two days of my metaphorical advent calendar to go I really should be getting a bit more festive – so with no further ado allow mw to introduce the turkey – property of one Samuel Pepys. In 1660 Mrs Pepys was troubled by the art of spit roasting the aforementioned bird. In fact you can read every single 23rd December that Pepys ever recorded should you feel the urge by following the link:

http://samuelpepystoday.com/?day=1123

 

A swift search of the net reveals that in the UK ten million turkeys are eaten each Christmas. I had thought it was a relative new comer to the Christmas table. After all, you only have to think of Ebenezer Scrooge and the prize goose that graced the Cratchets’ table to realise that the turkey has not always been the bird of choice but apparently, and I really am sorry about this because I had hoped to avoid him today, that the first turkey arrived in England in 1526 and, yes, the first monarch to eat turkey was Henry VIII though it was Edward VII who made them into a popular festive meal.  For more about festive birds read the History Extra article here.

Since it’s proved impossible to bypass the terrible Tudor I should probably also mention that Dr Legh, one of Cromwell’s monastic visitors, was wandering around Huntingdonshire on his way north on the 23 December 1535. He took it upon himself to visit Hinchinbrooke  Priory.  Sadly the prioress, Alice Wilton, was very unwell and the sight of Legh was enough to finish her off.  Legh promptly took charge of the keys and the money coffers before asking Cromwell what he should do next.

There being only three nuns in addition to the prioress and it being a poor establishment the priory was swiftly suppressed. Ownership passed on to Richard  Cromwell who was the son of Morgan Williams who married Katherine Cromwell, Thomas Cromwell’s sister. Richard took his uncle’s name and benefited from his uncle’s patronage to the tune of several large chunks of monastic land including Hinchinbrooke Priory and Ramsey Abbey.  Hinchinbrooke was to become famous as the birthplace a couple generations down the line of  Oliver Cromwell.
‘Henry VIII: December 1535, 21-25’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 9, August-December 1535, ed. James Gairdner (London, 1886), pp. 340-350. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol9/pp340-350 [accessed 6 December 2016].

‘Houses of Benedictine monks: The priory of Hinchinbrook’, in A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 1, ed. William Page, Granville Proby and H E Norris (London, 1926), pp. 389-390. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hunts/vol1/pp389-390 [accessed 7 November 2016].

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Richard Cromwell

640px-Cromwell,Thomas(1EEssex)01Richard Williams was the son of Morgan Williams who came from Putney and Catherine Cromwell, the sister of Thomas (pictured here). Morgan was a brewer, possibly originally from somewhere near Cardiff.

Richard entered Thomas Cromwell’s household in 1530 having previously done a stint as a servant with Thomas Grey the second Marquis of Dorset. In 1529 Thomas made a will, in the aftermath of the sweating sickness which killed his wife and two daughters.  Richard can be found here listed along with ‘poor relations.’ Thomas remedied that particular problem when he arranged his nephew’s marriage with financial advantage in mind. The lady in question was called Frances Murfyn, the daughter of Sir Thomas who had been Lord Mayor of London. She came with several properties.

Richard remained in Thomas’s household and conducted business on his uncle’s behalf ultimately taking on the surname Cromwell – incidentally he was also the great grandfather of Oliver.

In addition to the change of name Richard demonstrated many of the hardheaded attitudes towards wealth that his uncle exemplified. Richard was noticeably enriched by the suppression of the monasteries both at the time and in the years afterwards when the crown first rented the confiscated lands out and then sold them. His reputation was such that the Pilgrims of the Pilgrimage of Grace singled him out as someone who was responsible for the despoiling of centuries of monastic tradition. Richard, apparently not unduly concerned, was part of the posse headed up by the Duke of Suffolk which put down the Pilgrimage in the eastern counties.

In 1537 Richard began to buy up properties in Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire. He was also knighted by Henry VIII at this time. By 1542 he was the first knight of the latter shire. In 1543 he was made a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and found himself in charge of infantry when war broke out with France. In 1544 he was made Constable of Berkely Castle – which wasn’t at all bad for a man who’d made no secret of his sorrow when Uncle Thomas had been executed.  He was also a very wealthy man by this time and an MP as well.  No doubt his uncle would have been very proud of him.

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Ann Cromwell and Dr Gibson

gibson_smallBrowsing through an old book with yellowed  whispering pages, I came across this little link between Cumbria and Oliver Cromwell. It’s tenuous  but it appealed to me simply because so little seems to be known about either of the characters involved and because reading between the lines there is a tale of a family torn asunder as a result of the English Civil war and its aftermath and also of infant mortality.

Dr Thomas Gibson was born at Bampton, near Shap.  He graduated from the University of Leiden in 1675 became the Physician General of Cromwell’s Army and went on to write The Anatomy of Human Bodies which drew extensively on other sources but which remained in print for many editions.  Little is known about his early life or indeed the death of his first wife.

Ann was Dorothy and Richard Cromwell’s sixth daughter – Oliver’s grand-daughter.  She died in 1727, aged 69.  Only her eldest sister Elizabeth was as long-lived amongst the girls in the family.  The other lasses died in infancy.  Ann, then, was born in 1659 while her father was  Lord Protector- it was a short-lived venture for him and led to his exile on the restoration of the Stuart monarchy.  His wife and family remained at home.  Richard’s letters to his daughter are written under cover of an alternative name always RC or CR and speak at his grief of not being with his family.

She was widowed early, and throughout the rest of her life she lived with her sister Elizabeth in respectable Presbyterian seclusion under the watchful eye of her husband’s nephew who became the Bishop of London.  The Bishop bequeathed £200 to Bampton Church.

 

 

 

 

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