SOME NOTES ON A FAMILY IN A TIME OF TROUBLE
by Rafe de Crespigny and Anne Young June 2020
By the western door of Chester Cathedral there is a memorial relating to the Mainwaring family. It is described rather unkindly by Ormerod’s History of Cheshire as “ornamented with twisted pillars, weeping figures, and foliage in bad taste, but much laboured…” but it has a complex and quite touching story to tell of the English Civil War.1 2
The text may be transcribed as follows:
To the Perpetual Memory
of the Eminently Loyal Sir W[illia]m MAINWARING K[nigh]t
Eldest son of EDMUND MAINWARING Esqr
Chancellor of the County Palatine of Chester;
of the Ancient Family of the MAINWARINGS
of Peover in the said County.
He died in the Service of his Prince and Country
in the Defence of the City of Chester,
Wherein he merited singular honour for his
Fidelity, Courage and Conduct.
He left by HESTER his Lady (Daughter and
heiress unto CHRISTOPHER WASE in the County
of Bucks [Buckingham] Esqr) Four Sons and two Daughters.
His eldest daughter Judith married unto Sir JNo [John]
BUSBY of Addington in the County of Bucks K[nigh]t.
His youngest Daughter HESTER unto Sir
THOMAS GROBHAM HOW of Kempley in the
County of Glocester [Gloucestershire] K[nigh]t.
He died honourably but immaturely in the
Twenty-ninth year of his age Octobr 9 1644.
His Lady Relict erected this Monument
of Her everlasting Love and his neverdying
Octr 25th 1671
The shield at the top of the memorial is divided in two, with similar but different designs. The left has a white ground with two red bars; the formal blazon would be argent two bars gules, for cadency a crescent. The right hand side has six bars alternately white and red, blazoned as barry of six, argent and gules.
In heraldry, the left hand side – right from the point of view of the wearer – is referred to as dexter and is the more important. It was standard practice for a married couple to display a shield divided vertically in two [“per pale“], with the husband’s insignia on the left/dexter and his wife’s on the right/sinister. So the arms of white with two red bars are those of the husband, and they are impaled with those of the family of the wife.
In the seventeenth century the manor of Over Peover had been held by the Mainwaring family since the time of the Domesday Book of William the Conqueror in 1087. That male line of descent was extinguished in the early nineteenth century, and the main lineage of the family is now maintained by the Cavenagh-Mainwarings of Whitmore near Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire. The traditional shield of the family is white with two red bars, so the left hand side of the shield displayed here is that of Mainwaring. The small crescent in the centre is a mark of cadency indicating a second son. Though William was the eldest son of his father Edmund, Edmund was a second son: his elder brother Sir Randle was head of the family and when he died in 1632 the estate at Over Peover passed to his son Philip3
As to the right-hand half of the shield, the comprehensive list of coats of arms provided by The British Herald of Thomas Robson records several families named Wase or similar, and though they are in different counties there is a common base of six white and red bars. In the extract below, the name of the family in Buckinghamshire is given as Wasse or Washe; the link, however, is clear and such variant spelling is quite common at this time – Shakespeare spelt his surname in several different ways. And it is no more than coincidence that the shield of the Wase family has the same colours and a similar design to that of the Mainwarings.
The Mainwarings of Over Peover were among the leading families of Cheshire at this time,4 and though William’s father Edmund inherited no major property, he had matriculated into Brasenose College at Oxford University in 1594, took his Master’s degree through All Souls in 1600 and graduated as Bachelor of Civil Laws in 1605. He held substantial legal office in the archdiocese of York and was Deputy-Secretary to the Council of the North, chief agency of the king for the government of northern England.5 In 1629 he received the degree of Doctor of Civil Laws from Oxford, and in 1634 he was named Chancellor of Chester, head of the Consistory Court of the diocese, with authority over all matters of ecclesiastical law: accusations of heresy and witchcraft; failure to attend church; and the distribution of tithes; while he also held jurisdiction over claims of defamation and civil disputes regarding marriage, wills and inheritance.6
Edmund’s younger brother Philip – uncle to William – had an even more dramatic career. Born in 1589, he took his Bachelor’s degree from Oxford and then became a student at Gray’s Inn, one of the Inns of Court which provided qualification in law. Under the patronage of Sir Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel and a favoured courtier of James I, and of Sir Thomas Wentworth, a leading minister under Charles I, Philip did very well.7 In 1609, at the age of twenty, Philip received a salaried appointment at court; in 1624 he became a Member of Parliament; and in 1634 he was appointed Secretary of State for Ireland, being knighted at Dublin in that same year.
Though his father had taken his degree at Oxford, William went to Cambridge, matriculating as a Fellow-Commoner of King’s College in the Michaelmas term at the end of 1629. He is described in the cathedral memorial as being in his twenty-ninth year when he died, so he was born about 1616 and entered the university when he was thirteen years old; this was not unusual for the time.8 He graduated as Master of Arts in 1632, and in the following year he became a student at Gray’s Inn.9
On 24 September 1639 William Mainwaring married Hester Wase in the church of St Mary at Islington, Middlesex.10 He was in his early twenties, Hester was fifteen.11
Islington, some five kilometres/three miles north of Charing Cross, is now part of inner London but was countryside at the time. Hester’s father Christopher held property there at Upper Holloway and also in Buckinghamshire; his wife Judith was a daughter of Sir John Gore, a member of the Company of Merchant Taylors who had been Sheriff and then Lord Mayor of London; and Hester was named for her maternal grandmother, the mother of Judith: her father was Sir Thomas Cambell, who had been a member of the Company of Ironmongers, a Governor of the East India Company, and likewise Sheriff and Lord Mayor of London.12So the family was well-connected and prosperous, and Christopher Wase gave his new son-in-law a marriage portion of £1,500.13
By the time William married Hester, however, the political situation had become confused and dangerous. King Charles had managed to rule without calling Parliament since 1629, maintaining government finances by levies such as Ship Money. Early in 1639, however, a rebellion in Scotland proved so successful and dangerous that Parliament had to be recalled in hope it would approve the funds required to deal with the war. The “Short Parliament,” however, gave a platform to those who opposed the royal regime. It was swiftly dissolved, but by November 1640 the king was obliged to recall a new assembly, which would be known as the Long Parliament. This proved even more hostile to the king and his officials: Sir Philip Mainwaring’s patron Thomas Wentworth, lately enfeoffed as Earl of Strafford, was charged under a bill of attainder and executed in May 1641.14
Soon after their wedding, however, William and Hester had travelled north to take up residence at Chester, and in March of 1640 William sent a most agreeable letter to his mother-in-law Judith,15 with compliments and suitable courtesies to her husband Christopher; to Hester’s younger sister – also Judith – who had been born in 1635 and was not yet five years old; to Hester’s aunt Abigail, who had married Robert Busby in 1633;16 and to a cousin known here only as Kitt, short for Christopher.
It is clear from the letter that Hester is pregnant, and that there are plans for her to have her first child at her family home in Holloway. Indeed, their first son was baptised at Islington St Mary on 7 July 1640, and named in honour of his grandfather Christopher Wase.17
This letter of March, however, suggests that Hester was suffering from morning sickness, an affliction which normally affects women only in the first three months of pregnancy, so it is possible that the infant was premature, and he may have been sickly. In any event, it appears that he died shortly before his second birthday, and was buried at the Church of St Mary on 10 May 1642. He may well have been considered too frail to travel to his parents’ home in Chester, and stayed in the care of his maternal grandparents.18
After that first pregnancy, however, the following children were born at Chester: the baptism of Edmund the second son was recorded at Holy Trinity Church on 22 May 1641;19 he was followed by his sister Judith, born in 1642, probably in July; and then by William, who was christened in August 1643 but died in November just three months later.20
By the time Judith was born, however, England was on the verge of civil war. After months of uncertainty and negotiations, as Parliament applied increasing pressure to his royal authority and power, King Charles raised his standard at Nottingham on 22 August 1642 and issued a call to arms. The immediate response was not impressive, but Francis Gamull, a former Mayor and Member of Parliament, raised a troop at Chester and brought volunteers to join the assembly. William Mainwaring accompanied him as a Sergeant-Major, and one of his letters, written to Hester at that time, survived to be copied and printed in The Biographical Mirrour:21
Some notes may be offered:
- Both from the address and from the enquiry about the journey it is clear that Hester had lately moved with the children from Chester to her father’s property at Islington. Edmund was just over twelve months old – he would die in the following year – and Judith had been born only a couple of months before. It may well have been felt that Hester would be more comfortable with her father and mother than in the north.
- In the fourth paragraph, William says that he believes “all will end in a bonfire.” One might assume this anticipates the conflagration of war, but in this context – confirmed by his confidence of peace at the beginning of the final paragraph – he seems to expect that the trouble will blow over and that there will be negotiations and agreement and celebrations. He was, of course, mistaken.22
- In similar fashion, despite the threat of war, neither he nor Hester appear to have been particularly concerned about any difficulty or danger of travel for a woman and small children. This is discussed further below.
Samuel Tuke (c.1615-1674), a gentleman from Essex almost the same age as William Mainwaring and also a member of Gray’s Inn, was obviously a personal enemy: they did not exchange a word but glared at one another; and William is pleased at Tuke’s financial embarrassment. There is no way to tell the reason for their hostility.
Samuel Tuke had a moderately successful war in the king’s service and later accompanied the prince, future Charles II, during his exile overseas. Known for his wit, he was a favourite at court after the Restoration and was made a knight and then a baronet. He was a founding member of the Royal Society, and his successful play The Adventures of Five Hours was thought by Samuel Pepys to be better than Shakespeare’s Othello.23
Paul Neile (1613-1686), son of Richard, Archbishop of York, had been at Cambridge with William Mainwaring.24 A courtier of King Charles, he was knighted in 1633 and was a member of the Short Parliament of 1640. He became a distinguished astronomer and was a founding member of the Royal Society.
On 13 September, a few days after William wrote to Hester, the king left Nottingham for Shrewsbury, further to the west, where he received reinforcements, and a few weeks later he began a march towards London. He was opposed by the Earl of Essex with a Parliamentary army and they met at Edgehill, northwest of Banbury in Warwickshire, on 23 October.25 The forces were evenly matched – some fifteen thousand on each side – and the result was effectively a draw, but most of the men and their leaders were unaccustomed to war, discipline was weak, and the deaths and other casualties came as a shock. Though Charles continued his advance, he was faced near Reading by a powerful array from London and was obliged to withdraw. On 23 November the royal court and headquarters were established at Oxford.
The “Memoirs of Sir William Mainwaring” record that he “was knighted at Oxford, Jan 9, 1643, by the description of ‘Sir William Mainwaring, of West Chester.'”26 The accolade was surely granted by King Charles himself, and it was a notable honour for a comparatively junior officer: Francis Gamull, commander of the troop in which William served, was awarded a title only in the following year; so William had distinguished himself in some way, presumably on the campaign or at the battle of Edgehill.
Since Hester and William’s third child, William, was baptised in Holy Trinity Church at Chester on 3 August, Hester and the children must have joined William at Oxford and returned with him there soon afterwards. Civilian travel was possible, though it was neither easy nor secure:
Alice Thornton, whose royalist father Christopher Wandesford had been a close friend and associate of the Earl of Strafford, described how her mother travelled from Chester to the family home in Yorkshire at that time. At an early stage of the journey,
With these and several servants and tenants, though with much difficulty, by reason of the interchange of the king’s armies and the Parliament’s, she was brought into the town of Warrington [in Lancashire]…: she finding more favour by reason of the captain’s civility and by a pass from Colonel Shuttleworth [of Gawthorpe Hall] than usual.27
Gawthorpe Hall near Burnley is now a National Trust property, but it was at that time the seat of the Shuttleworth family, and Colonel Richard Shuttleworth was a member of the Long Parliament which had demanded Strafford’s execution. Though they were on opposite sides in politics and Burnley is sixty kilometres/thirty-five miles from Warrington, Shuttleworth was prepared to assist a gentlewoman and her family and his influence extended far enough to be effective.
With a small escort and some assistance from local gentry, therefore, a lady could make her way; but it was often difficult and certainly risky.
The memorial inscription composed by William’s widow Hester says that they had four sons and two daughters, but names only the daughters Hester and Judith. Familysearch, whose entry for Edmund is cited above, has just three other children,28 and while some family trees on ancestry.com give six names, the information is erratic, few original sources are cited, and some names and dates are clearly mistaken; in most cases, one table does no more than copy another. On the basis of sources currently available, the children of William and Hester can be identified as follows:29
- Their first son, Christopher Wase [?] was born at Holloway, Islington, in July 1640, and died there in May 1642.30
- Edmund was born in 1641 and baptised in Holy Trinity Church, Chester, on 22 May; he died in 1643 and was buried on 10 August.
- Judith was born in 1642 and baptised in Holy Trinity Church, Chester, on 23 May; as below, she married John Busby in 1658 and died in 1661.
- William was born in 1643 and baptised in Holy Trinity Church, Chester, on 3 August 1643; he died just three months later and was buried on 6 November.
- Hester was born in 1644 and baptised in Holy Trinity Church, Chester, on 10 July; as below, she married first Sir Thomas Grobham How and later the Hon Robert Paston; she died about 1688.
- William, second of that name, was born in September 1645, just before his father was killed at Chester; he died at London in the following year, and was buried on 29 July at the chapel of St Michael, Highgate, some three miles/five kilometres northwest of Holloway.31
We may note further that
- Some sites identify children born in 1634. Since William and Hester married in 1639, however, when Hester was only fifteen, they cannot have had children so early.
- Some sites list a child named Horo, but there is no evidence for any person of that name; it may be a corruption of Hester, but the reference cannot be usefully used.
- Some sites list a son named Thomas, born in 1634. As above, the date must be mistaken, while there is no record of a son of that name born to William and Hester. There was a Thomas Mainwaring who became a baronet, but he was the son of William’s cousin Philip, son of Sir Randle of Over Peover.32.
So none of William and Hester’s sons survived into manhood; it was no doubt for this reason that the memorial mentions only the number and gives no names.
It is a large number of children born in not many years, but Hester was evidently well able to manage physically, and she and her husband were surely fond of each other.
The two references to William as “Chancellor’s Son” in the death entries of Holy Trinity recognise the position of his father Edmund as Chancellor of the diocese,33 but William himself already held a leading position in the community of Chester. The city was important to King Charles, for it controlled access to north Wales, where much of his support could be found, and it also provided a port through which royalist troops might be brought from Ireland. Late in September 1642 the king visited Chester from his base at Shrewsbury and urged that its fortifications be strengthened.34 William Mainwaring had probably been a member of his escort at that time, but when he returned in the following year his recent award of knighthood gave him a position of authority among the defenders of the city.
Sir William Brereton had been appointed to command the Parliamentary forces in the county, and in March 1643 a substantial victory at Middlewich established his ascendancy over the royalists.35 Establishing his headquarters at Nantwich, some thirty kilometres/twenty miles southeast of Chester, he came to attack the city in July. Alice Thornton has an anecdote:
The wars falling out hot at the time, being we were beleaguered in Chester by Sir William Brereton’s forces for the Parliament, there happened a strange accident which raised that siege, July 19th, 1643. As I was informed, there were three granadoes shot into the town, but, through Providence, hurt nobody. The first, being shot into the sconce [earthwork] of our soldiers within, two men of Captain Mainwaring, having an oxhide ready, clapped it thereon, and it smothering away in [its] shells did not spread but went out.
The second light[ed] short of the city, in ditch within a pasture amongst a company of women milking, but was quenched without doing them harm at all, praised be the Lord our God. The last fell amongst their own horse, short of the town, slaying many of them, and by that means the siege was raised.36
Besides this account of men under William Mainwaring’s command, Ormerod’s History has two further references. In December 1643 he is listed as a member of the council approving the despatch of troops to assist an attack on Hawarden castle in Wales, and in March 1644 he is identified as a senior commissioner, required by the king’s general Prince Maurice of the Rhine to enforce an oath of allegiance to the royal cause from all within the city.37
We may note at this point that members of the Mainwaring family were on opposing sides of the civil war. In many parts of England, the choice of allegiance to the king or to Parliament was determined by family interest and local alliances rather than by any political or religious conviction,38 but in this instance circumstances divided the family. Very likely through the interest of his uncle Sir Philip, former associate of the Earl of Strafford and now in difficulties for his royalist connections, William supported the cause of King Charles. His cousin Philip, however, son of the late Sir Randle and now squire of Over Peover, was firmly for Parliament and commanded a troop of horse in the local army under Sir William Brereton.39
Though the inscription of the memorial in Chester Cathedral states that Sir William Mainwaring died “honourably but immaturely” on 9 October 1644, it gives no detail of the circumstances, and the date is mistaken.
A royal army had come to Cheshire in November 1643 and gained initial success against the Parliamentary forces under Sir William Brereton, but he was soon afterwards reinforced, and he defeated the invaders at Nantwich in January 1644.41 He made another attack on Chester in late October of that year, but the threat from royalist troops in April caused him to withdraw once more and the summer of 1645 was comparatively peaceful.
The full assault on the city of Chester began on 20 September, when a Parliamentarian assault over-ran part of the eastern defences. King Charles himself brought an army to aid the defence, but on 24 September he saw his troops defeated at Rowton Heath, just outside the walls. As the failed relief force withdrew, the city was left to its own resources, and was subjected to a long siege with constant attacks. The final surrender on 3 February 1646 was compelled by starvation.42
Before this, however, during the summer of comparative inactivity in 1645, Hester and the children moved south to Holloway. Her father Christopher had died in October 1643, but her mother had inherited his estates. Though London was firmly in Parliamentary hands it is unlikely that too many questions were asked of women living quietly in the country, and it was certainly more secure than Chester. By 13 September William was writing to Hester at Holloway, and it appears they have been parted for some weeks:43
Much of the letter is self-explanatory, though it may be helpful to say that the “two Judes” are William and Hester’s daughter Judith, three years old, and Hester’s sister Judith Wase, who was now ten; Hester’s mother, of course, was also named Judith. The “old people heare” refers to William’s own parents, Edmund and his wife Jane nee Pickering. Boughton is a neighbourhood just to the east of the city of Chester, but there is no further information about the little girl William mentions.
Two days later, William wrote again, on this occasion from Holt Castle, a stronghold near Wrexham in Wales, some fifteen kilometres/ten miles south of Chester.44
From the reference to “your delivery,” it appears that Hester had just lately given birth to their sixth child William, second of that name: the news must have reached Cheshire between this letter and the preceding one, dated two days before. In both letters, William expresses interest and hope for a position which will allow them to be together, while he appears confident that although Hester is in an area under Parliamentary control and Oxford is held for the king she can nonetheless travel safely there and back.
In his letter of 13 September, William spoke clearly of his wish
that wee may but live together, our being asunder being (next never seeing one another againe whiche God of Heaven forbid) the greatest curse and vexation can happen to mee.
But the worst did happen: William was killed just one month later, fighting on the city wall, and they never saw one another again.
Some three weeks after the event a friend named Thomas Gardener sent an account of the death to Hester’s mother Judith Wase, with a postscript explaining that he had delayed writing until he had confirmation of the “sad sertenty:”45
3 November 1645 was a Friday, so the Friday three weeks before, which Thomas Gardener indicates as the day of William’s death, was 13 October. The memorial in Chester Cathedral has miswritten the year as 1644, and the date as 9 October. Since the text of the inscription was composed in 1671, twenty-five years after the event, Hester’s memory may have been at fault, but is also quite likely that the engraver misread her text and she was not there to check. If the latter is the case, then we may suspect that the day of William’s death was actually Friday 6 October: the single digit 6 is more easily confused with 9 than with the doublet 13; and Gardener perhaps delayed writing a few days longer than he says.
Correspondence was in any case erratic, and Hester and her family may have heard the news before Thomas Gardener’s report reached them. Ten days earlier, on 24 October, William’s parents Edmund and Jane nee Pickering had also written to Judith Wase, enclosing a more detailed report – now lost – with the request that she pass on the news to Hester. Given the “straite” [tight] siege to which Chester was subject and the general confusion and difficulty of the time, it is not possible to judge when the letters arrived or in what order. It is appears, however, that William had been dead some weeks before Hester learned of his fate.46
Hester was in a sad and difficult position: a widow of twenty-one with several small children in a time of war. Three sons, Christopher, Edmund and William, had already died, in 1642 or 1643, so she was accompanied by two daughters and her youngest child, a second William. This William had been born at Holloway just a few days before his father’s death. He died in July of the following year,47 and Hester was left with just her daughters, Judith aged four and Hester two years old.
The will composed by Hester’s father Christopher Wase left his property in first instance to his wife Judith nee Gore, with the estate to be divided between his daughters after her death: Hester should then receive his properties in Buckinghamshire and Judith his holdings in Islington, these last amounting to some fifty acres with a “Mansion House built of brick.” Though he died in 1643, probate was not granted until 5 February 1647.48
We may assume that Hester stayed with her mother and sister at Upper Holloway: it was her original home, and a young widow with small children would be glad of any support they could offer. A little over two years from the death of her husband William, Hester married Sir Henry Blount; the wedding took place in the church of St Michael Paternoster Royal on 23 December 1647.49
Born in 1602, Henry Blount was more than twenty years older than Hester.50 A graduate of Oxford and of Gray’s Inn, he had travelled widely in the eastern Mediterranean and Egypt and his Voyage to the Levant was widely circulated. Knighted by Charles I in 1640, he fought at Edgehill and attended the royal court at Oxford, but was later a commissioner on a number of enquiries during the Interregnum.
Henry Blount’s contemporary John Aubrey has an entry for him in his Brief Lives, and tells how he came back to London and
… walked into Westminster Hall with his sword by his side; the parliamentarians all stared upon him as a Cavalier, knowing that he had been with the king; was called before the House of Commons, where he remonstrated to them that he only did his duty, and so they acquitted him.51
It is not known when or how Hester met Sir Henry Blount, but after their marriage they evidently lived at Hornsey, just three kilometres/two miles north of Holloway, and Sir Henry may already have established himself as the resident of a neighbouring property.52 When his elder brother died in 1654, he inherited the family estate, including the manor of Tittenhanger or Tyttenhanger at Ridge, south of St Albans in Hertfordshire, and built a large new house there. He was High Sheriff of Hertfordshire in 1661 and later served again as a commissioner for trade.
The first child of Hester and Henry Blount was a daughter, Frances (1648-1699), and she was followed by seven sons, three of whom died in infancy – the youngest, Ulysses (1664-1704), was born when Hester was forty years old.53 The eldest son, baptised Thomas Pope (1649-1697), became a noted scholar and a Member of Parliament, and was made a baronet by Charles II.54
There was still contact with William’s parents in Chester, and one kind and courteous letter survives from Edmund to his former daughter-in-law.55
Born in 1579, Edmund was now over seventy, and it is likely that his wife Jane was already dead: she had signed the letter of October 1645 but not this one, and the privations of the siege would not have been good for her health; so we are not certain who the Jane is mentioned by Edmund in his postscript. Sir Philip Mainwaring, Edmund’s younger brother, was the former assistant to the late Lord Strafford, now in an enforced retirement.56 Lady Brerewood was the wife of Sir Robert Brerewood, member of a leading family of Cheshire; his first wife was Edmund’s sister Anna nee Mainwaring, but she died in 1630 and this was the second Lady Brerewood, Katherine nee Lee.
Despite the good will and good wishes, it is unlikely that Edmund Mainwaring saw his grand-children again.
Hester’s mother Judith Wase nee Gore died in the 1660s. Hester’s sister Judith nee Wase married George Master, a lawyer of Lincoln’s Inn, in 1660 and died after childbirth in 1669. She was buried with her father Christopher in the church of St Mary at Islington, where a memorial set up by her husband recorded that:
… during their ten year intermarriage, she was ever a most affectionate and observant wife, a real and judicious friend, by whom she had many children; but left him with only one son.57
Hester herself died in 1678; she was buried in the Blount family vault of St Margaret’s Church at Ridge in Hertfordshire on 6 November.58
Hester’s eldest daughter, Hester nee Mainwaring, married Sir Thomas Grobham Howe of Kempley in Gloucestershire and later, after his death,59 the Hon Robert Paston, a son of the Earl of Yarmouth who was a Member of Parliament for Norwich.60 She died about 1688, with no children by either husband.
The younger daughter, Judith nee Mainwaring, born in 1642, married John Busby of Addington in Buckinghamshire; the wedding was held in St Margaret’s church at Ridge on 15 February 1658. Born in 1635, John was the son of Robert Busby and Abigail nee Gore the sister of Judith Wase nee Gore, so husband and wife were first cousins once removed. On 5 June 1661 John Busby was knighted by King Charles II, and the Biographical Mirrour quotes from Kennett’s Register:61
This morning his Majesty was graciously pleased in his bed-chamber to confer the honour of knighthood on John Busby, of Addington, in the county of Bucks, Esq, which gracious favour had an honourable reflection upon the memory of that valiant knight Sir William Mainwaring, slain in the defence of Chester, whose daughter Sir John married.
So William Mainwaring was still remembered, and his service was recognised in the honour granted to his posthumous son-in-law.
Six months later, on 7 December, Judith gave birth to a daughter, Hester, but she herself died just three weeks later, no doubt from the after-effects of the birth. Birth and death took place at Tittenhanger House at Ridge in Hertfordshire, now the home of her mother Hester, Lady Blount, and Judith was buried at St Margaret’s Church in Ridge.62 She had previously borne a son, most likely in 1659, but it appears that he died young, and there is no further information about him, not even his name.63
In 1705, more than forty years after the death of Judith Busby nee Mainwaring, the Reverend Thomas Busby, son of Sir John by his second wife Mary nee Dormer, had a memorial set up to his father’s memory in the church of St Mary at Addington:
Near this place resteth in Hope to Rise
in the glory the body of the learned SIR JOHN
BUSBY Kt, late Deputy Lieut[enant] and Colonel
of the Militia of the County, deceased
the 7th January 1700 Age 65.
He had by his first lady JUDITH daughter of Sir
Wm MAINWARING Kt, Governor of West
Chester, a son and a daughter.
By his second lady MARY eldest daughter of
JOHN DORMER of Lee Grange Esq five sons
and nine daughters whereof most are
gone before. May the rest prepare to follow him.
To whose pious memory THOMAS BUSBY
D[octor] of Laws his son and heir consecrates
this Monument Anno 1705.63
So an enquiry which began with a memorial to Sir William’s death concludes with another which remembers his daughter.
1 The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester: compiled from original evidences in public offices, the Harleian and Cottonian mss., parochial registers, private muniments, unpublished ms. collections of successive Cheshire antiquaries, and a personal survey of every township in the county; incorporated with a republication of King’s Vale Royal, and Leycester’s Cheshire Antiquities, by George Ormerod (1785-1873), Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor and Jones, London 1819 [archive.org], at 245.
The two works incorporated are The Vale Royal of England: or, the county palatine of Chester illustrated, by Thomas Hughes (1822-1896) and Daniel King (d. 1664?), J G Bell, London 1852 [online at archive.org]; and Historical antiquities in two books; the first treating in general of Great Britain and Ireland; the second containing particular remarks concerning Cheshire, and chiefly of the Bucklow hundred. Whereunto is annexed a transcript of Domesday-Book, so far as it concerneth Cheshire, by Sir Peter Leycester (1614-1678); first published in 1673, it is often cited as Historical antiquities or, as above by Ormerod, extracted as Cheshire Antiquities.
2 Major sources on the general political and military history of the period discussed in this essay, leading up to and including the civil war, are C V Wedgewood, The King’s Peace 1637-1641 and The King’s War 1641-1647, both published first by Collins, London 1958, then by Penguin 1983; also Austin Woolrych, Battles of the English Civil War, published first by Batsford, London 1961, then by Pan 1966; and William Seymour, Battles in Britain and their political background, volume 2 (1642-1746), Sidgwick and Jackson, London 1975 and Book Club Associates 1976
3 The Biographical Mirrour: comprising a series of ancient and modern English portraits, of eminent and Ddstinguished persons, from original pictures and drawings, compiled by Francis Godolphin Waldron and Sylvester Harding, published at London by S[ylvester] and E[dward] Harding 1795-98 [archive.org: Google], Volume 1 at 19-22, has “Memoirs of Sir William Mainwaring, of West-Chester, Knt, Ob Oct 1645,” followed immediately by an account of his widow Hester. [The Dictionary of National Biography states that Francis Waldron was the author of all the biographies: wikisource.org/wiki/Waldron,_Francis_Godolphin_(DNB00)]
The “Memoirs” include a brief account of the Mainwaring family, including William’s father Edmund. The Christian name of his grandfather and his uncle, both styled Sir Randle, may also appear as Randolf and other variants. The uncertainty on the date of William’s death is discussed below.
On Philip Mainwaring of Over Peover, see further below at note 39.
4 There is a general discussion of the family at chester.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Mainwaring.
5 Alumni Oxonienses: the members of the University of Oxford, 1500-1714; their parentage, birthplace, and year of birth, with a record of their degrees, compiled by Joseph Foster; Parker and Co, Oxford and London 1891 [archive.org], Early Series volume III, 960 (all alumni of the Mainwaring surname are listed at 959-960).
Edmund’s appointment to the Council of the North is discussed by Ronald A Marchant, The Church under the Law: justice administration and discipline in the diocese of York 1560-1640, Cambridge UP 1969 [Google], 47 and 250..
6 Marchant, The Church under the Law, 47, says that Edmund Mainwaring was appointed Chancellor of the diocese in 1634, but that he appointed deputies to act for him in that office until 1638. The List of Chancellors in Ormerod, History, 87 at item 6, says that Edmund Mainwaring LlD is described by the antiquarian Sir Peter Leycester [in his Cheshire Antiquities (see note 1 above)] as being chancellor of Chester 1642, but “his patent is not in the office.” It is probable that he was appointed in 1634 but then took up full responsibility in 1638: the certificate of his appointment was evidently missing from the archives.
In 1635 Edmund heard a case concerning the distribution of tithes and other revenues from the parish of Whalley in Lancashire. In 1644, when William Laud the Archbishop of Canterbury was point of trial by Parliament, it was at one point claimed that he had interfered in Edmund’s decision: british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/chas1/1641-3/pp517-553 at 50. [The trial ended without a verdict, but – like the Earl of Strafford as below – Laud was later impeached and executed.]
The memorial to his son William Mainwaring describes Edmund as Chancellor of the County Palatine of Chester, but this is incorrect: his office was in the diocese of Chester, not in the county of Cheshire. England had three county palatinates, so-called because they occupied marcher territories close to the borders of Wales and Scotland. The county palatinates of Lancaster and Durham were administered by chancellors – and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is still maintained as a cabinet minister in the present-day United Kingdom. Cheshire was also a palatinate county, but the administration was headed by a Chamberlain: see, for example, “The rights and jurisdiction of the county palatine of Chester, the earls palatine, the chamberlain, and other officers; and disputes concerning the jurisdiction of the Court of exchequer with the city of Chester, &c., now first printed from the original manuscript in the possession of the editor,” by Joseph Brooks Yates [editor], in Remains, historical & literary, connected with the palatine counties of Lancaster and Chester, XXXVII; The Chetham Society, Manchester 1856 [archive.org; Google]. Edmund Mainwaring’s legal offices and membership of the Council of the North were important, but he was not the Chamberlain of the County Palatine of Cheshire.
7 On Thomas Wentworth, later Earl of Strafford, see C V Wedgewood, Strafford, Jonathan Cape, London 1953.
8 His father Edmund had been fifteen when he entered Brasenose College at Oxford: Alumnii Oxoniensis and Marchant, Church under Law cited in note 5 above.
9 Alumni cantabrigienses; a biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge, from the earliest times to 1900; compiled by John Venn and John Archibald Venn; Cambridge University Press [archive.org; Microsoft], Part I [From the Earliest Times to 1751] volume 3 (1924), 127 (all alumni of the Mainwaring surname are listed on this page).
On William’s age at admission, compare notes 8 above and 24 below.
10 London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 for Islington St Mary, Islington 1557-1649; Hester’s name appears to be either wrongly or badly written as “Hoster.”
As in the discussion of the shield at the top of the memorial, her maiden surname is found in many different forms: Wace, Wasse, Waste etc. The will of her father Christopher, however, has the form Wase, and this seems preferable.
11 findagrave.com/memorial/185934914 notes that Hester’s gravestone of 1678 states that she was born in 1620; other sources suggest 1617.
London, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, however, records the wedding of Christopher Wase and Judith nee Goare at Holy Trinity the Less in the City of London on 10 February 1623/4 [modern 1624: see immediately below in this note]. Since there is no account of any previous marriage of Christopher Wase and it is most unlikely that Hester was born out of wedlock, while Judith nee Gore is regularly referred to as her mother in family correspondence below, Hester can have been born no earlier than 1624.
The official year in England at this time began on 25 March – it was not recognised as 1 January until 1752. The date of the marriage of Christopher Wase and Judith nee Gore is therefore recorded as 10 February 1624; here and in other such cases, however, we adjust to the modern form.
12 Sir John Gore and Sir Thomas Cambell have entries in Wikipedia and citations elsewhere.
The surname Gore appears also as Goare, and the surname Cambell, though well attested, is obviously a variant of the more common Campbell.
13 In his will of 18 October 1643, Christopher Wase mentions the marriage portion, then divides his estate between Hester and her younger sister Judith. Hester received his property in Buckinghamshire and Judith his holdings in Islington. His wife Judith nee Gore was named as executor. On the division of property, however, see further below.
Christopher died a few days after signing the will, and he was buried at St Mary, Islington, on 25 October: London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812.
The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 199 retrieved from ancestry.com . On its probate, see below at note 48.
14 The process is described by Wedgewood, Strafford, 277-341.
William Laud the Archbishop of Canterbury suffered the same fate early in the following year, with some implication for William’s father Edmund Mainwaring: note 6 above.
15 The letter is the first of six collected by the journal The Topographer andpublished in volume I, number 2 of May 1789 [Google Books], pages 68-74; there is an introduction at 68 and Letter I is at 69-70.
The date is given as 20 March 1639. As in note 11 above, however, the official new year did not begin until 15 March, so the year was 1640 by modern reckoning.
16 The wedding is recorded at the church of Holy Trinity the Less in the City of London on 12 April 1633. The church was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. On a later connection to the Busby/Busbye family, see below.
17 On the possible confusion of names, see note 18 immediately below.
18 The record of baptism at Islington St Mary gives the Christian name of the child as Wase, which is most unusual. A record of burial in the same church almost two years later has the name as Christopher and the surname is transcribed as “Mankinge.” Both records very likely relate to the same person: the baptismal name was miswritten as Wase rather than as Christopher, while the surname Mainwaring appears in several different guises and is often scrawled.
19 Edmund Mainwaring 1641 – 1643 on FamilySearch familysearch.org/tree/person/details/MQ6J-31M.
The original Church of the Holy Trinity may have dated from the fourteenth century, but it was substantially altered in the latter part of the seventeenth century and the eighteenth century and was rebuilt in the nineteenth century. It was decommissioned in 1960 and is now – known as the Guildhall – used for secular functions.
20 There is confusion about the identities and the dates of birth of the children of William and Hester; the question is discussed below.
21 Bibliographical details of the “Memoirs” are in note 3 above. The transcript of the letter is on pages 20-21.
22 There is no reference to the phrase “end in a bonfire” in either The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs [compiled by William George Smith with an introduction by Janet E Heseltine; second edition 1948 revised by Sir Paul Harvey], or in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations [third impression 1956].
A bonfire, however, can be both destructive – as a conflagration or a funerary pyre – or, alternatively, a sign of celebration. Both meanings were well attested in William’s time, and he is clearly using the second and more favourable one.
23 Pepys saw the play at its first night on 8 January 1663 and was greatly impressed with it then. His favourable comparison to Othello appears in his Diary entry for 20 August 1666.
24 Alumni cantabrigienses I.3, 236, records his admission in 1627, noting that he was fourteen years old at the time. As above at note 9, William Mainwaring was about thirteen when he was admitted in 1629.
25 The campaign and the battle are described in detail by Seymour, Battles in Britain, 37-51, also by Wedgewood, King’s War, 134-139.
26 Biographical Mirrour, 23. The date would therefore have been recorded as 9 January 1642, but the Mirrour has made the adjustment.
27 Roger Hudson [editor], The Grand Quarrel: from the Civil War memoirs of Mrs Lucy Hutchison; Mrs Alice Thornton; Ann, Lady Fanshawe; Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle; Anne, Lady Halkett, & the letters of Brilliana, Lady Harley, Folio Society, London 1993, 93.
28 Note 19 above. From familysearch.org/tree/person/details/LHN1-M38 Besides Edmund, they are Judith, said to have been born in 1636 and to have died in 1661; Hesther [sic] born in 1637; and William, born and died in 1643.
29 A summary of this list appears on the page for Hester Mainwaring nee Gore at ancestry.com.au/family-tree/person/tree/38869109/person/132195171613/facts
30 See the discussion at note 18 above.
31 In his letter from Holt Castle near Chester, written on 15 September and reprinted below at note 44, William speaks to Hester of “your delivery,” most likely referring to her giving birth. It would appear that the news had only just reached him, for there is no mention of the event in his letter written from Chester on 13 September. Given the military activity at the time, it is not possible to judge how long a letter would have taken, but the child had probably been born a week or two before.
St Mary, Islington, appears to have been the parish of the Wase family: Christopher Wase had been buried there, his daughter Hester had married William Mainwaring there, and up to this time those of their children recorded in London had been baptised or buried there. It is therefore is a little surprising to find William buried at Highgate, but the entry clearly names the parents of the infant as William and Hester Mainwaring. As below, two sons of Hester by Sir William Blount would also be buried there, but that was a few years later: note 52.
32 Philip Mainwaring of Over Peover (c.1600-1647), son of Sir Randle (d.1632), is discussed below; he must be distinguished from Sir Philip (1589-1661), who was his father’s younger brother and uncle to both him and to William: see at note 7 above.
Philip’s son Thomas (1623-1689) became a Member of Parliament for the County of Cheshire in 1660. Though he was not politically active, his tacit support of the new royal government was recognised by a baronetcy in the following year: historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1660-1690/member/mainwaring-thomas-1623-89.
33 Above at note 6.
34 Ormerod, History, 203-204, has an account of the king’s visit and the development of the fortifications.
35 Ormerod, History, xxxv-xxxviii, has a general history of the war in Cheshire, and there is a modern account, with a detailed plan of the city’s fortifications, in “Early Modern Chester 1550-1762: the civil war and interregnum, 1642-60,” 115-125; digitised by British History Online [BHO] from A History of the County of Chester, Volume 5 Part 1 “The City of Chester: General History and Topography,” published by Victoria County History, London 2003; online at british-history.ac.uk/vch/ches/vol5/pt1/pp115-125.
Sir William Brereton (1604-1661) was a long-serving Member of Parliament and an energetic Puritan magistrate with a record of opposition to the corporation of the city of Chester. He has a biography at historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1604-1629/member/brereton-sir-william-1604-1661 and an entry in Wikipedia.
36 Hudson, Grand Quarrel, 92.
“Granado” is an archaic form of the modern “grenade,” in this case describing a small explosive shell which had been shot – somewhat erratically – against the city defences. Unlike a modern hand-grenade which disintegrates as it explodes, or shrapnel which throws out pieces of metal, early grenades relied upon their explosive force for effect – which could be considerable.
37 Ornerod, History, 205.Prince Maurice was the younger brother to the more celebrated Prince Rupert; they were sons of Princess Elizabeth, elder sister of King Charles and Electress of the Palatinate in the Holy Roman Empire, Germany.
38 See, for example, Alan Everitt, “The Local Community and the Great Rebellion,” in The Historical Association Book of The Stuarts, edited by K H D Haley, Sidgwick and Jackson, London 1973, 74-101 [first published as a Historical Association pamphlet in 1969].
39 A cadet branch of the family had acquired the property of Whitmore Hall in Staffordshire by marriage in the late sixteenth century. There, however, both Edward Mainwaring (1577-1647) and his son, also Edward (1603-1675), supported Parliament, and the Hall was fortified against royalist troops. See J G Cavenagh-Mainwaring, The Mainwarings of Whitmore and Biddulph in the County of Stafford; an account of the family,, and its connections by marriage and descent, with special reference to the manor of Whitmore, with appendices, pedigrees and illustrations, 1934, available through archive.org., at 65-67; also historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1660-1690/member/mainwaring-edward-i-1603-75.
40 Photograph by David Schenk at findagrave.com/memorial/81535564; information from A History and Guide to the Church of St Lawrence at Over Peover, kindly provided by Ms Vicki Irlam.
Though the guide refers to Sir Philip and to Dame Ellen, there is no evidence that Philip received a knighthood. As in note 32 above, however, Philip and Ellen’s third and eldest surviving son Thomas was made a baronet by King Charles II.
41 Ormerod, History, xxxvii-xxxviii; Wedgewood, King’s War, 493; and Wikipedia entries for the second battle of Middlewich and the battle of Nantwich.
42 Ormerod, History, 206-206; Wedgewood, King’s War, 493-495, 529 and 538; and Wikipedia entries for the Siege of Chester and the battle of Rowton Heath.
43 Letter II published in The Topographer [note 15 above] at 69-70.
44 Letter III published in The Topographer [note 15 above] at 71-72. The wording of the first sentence implies that William had written to Hester also on the day before, 14 September, but that may be an echo of Letter II, which is dated to 13 September.
Holt castle was held by royalist troops for most of the civil war until it was compelled to surrender in 1647; its fortifications were then destroyed and only the foundations now remain.
As background to the items of news that he mentions, we may note that the citizens of Chester resented the Welsh troops who had been brought in to boost the garrison, while Sir Francis Gamull was personally unpopular and William clearly disapproves of his conduct. The Savage family were leading gentry based on Frodsham, some fifteen kilometres/ten miles northeast of Chester.
45 Letter IV published in The Topographer [note 15 above] at 73. The relevant passage is quoted by the “Memoirs of Sir William Mainwaring” in the Biographical Mirrour [note 3 above] at 23, with a footnote referring to The Typographer.
The writer of the letter may have been Sir Thomas Gardiner, a leading royalist who has an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography. There is no recognised place-name Darleston in England; the closest is Darlaston in the south of Staffordshire, now part of the borough of Walsall.
46 Letter V published in The Topographer [note 15 above] at 73-74.
47 Note 31 above.
48 Note 3 above gives the site of the will at ancestry.com (The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 199). The will is in English, while the record of probate – in Latin – is attached at the end. Judith as executor is identified as Christopher’s widow [relicta]. The date is given as 1646, but February is a month before the formal New Year of that time, so it was 1647 on a modern calendar.
Ten years later Hester and her sister Judith – now twenty-one – agreed to a different and apparently more equal division, so that each held property at Holloway and in Buckingham. No doubt with their mother’s approval, the document was endorsed at a “Court Baron” or manorial court in December 1656; it contains a description of the property at Islington, including the “Mansion house:” London Metropolitan Archives, Halliday Collection 169, quoted by WHPRA [The Whitehall Park Area Residents Association] at whpara.org.uk/history/.
49 The church is just north of Southwark Bridge. The building of that time dated from the thirteenth century, but was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. The present-day church was designed by Wren; damaged in the Second World War, it has since been restored. Though the surname in the marriage entry appears as Blunt, but it is generally written as Blount.
50 Henry Blount has an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography: there is an account of him and of his family in The English Baronetage: containing a genealogical and historical account of all the English baronets … illustrated with their coats of arms, III.2, published by Thomas Wotton, London, 1741 [Google Books (as volume 4)] 668-673]. As in note 51 immediately below, there is a contemporary biography in John Aubrey’s Brief Lives.
51 Richard Barber [editor], Brief Lives by John Aubrey: a selection based upon existing contemporary portraits, Folio Society, London 1975, 48-50 at 48-49. Also online at Google Books.
52 English Baronetage at 669-670 says that the couple’s second son, named Henry (1650-1651) and their third, also Henry (1653-1653) were both buried at St Michael’s Chapel, Highgate, in the parish of Hornsey.
53 As in note 52 immediately above, the first two children were baptised Henry, and a third Henry was born and died in 1657 – it was not a fortunate name.
54 There are biographies of Sir Thomas Pope Blount in the Dictionary of National Biography and at historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1660-1690/member/blount-thomas-pope-1649-97.
55 Letter VI published in The Topographer [note 15 above] at 74.
56 See above at note 7.
57 The History, Topography, and Antiquities of the Parish of St. Mary Islington in the County of Middlesex, including biographical sketches of the most eminent and remarkable persons who have been born, or have resided there, by John Nelson, Islington 1811 [Google Books], 298-299 and also at 62.
58 The precise date is given by English Baronetage, 669.
59 The memorial to her father Sir William Mainwaring spells the surname as How, but it appears more commonly as Howe. Grobham was a supplementary personal name held by several members of the family at this time.
Since the memorial to Hester’s father Sir William, composed in 1671, mentions only her marriage to Sir Thomas, we must assume that he died after that time.
60 There is a biography of Robert Paston, with a summary of his marriages, at historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1660-1690/member/paston-hon-robert-1657-1705.
Biographical Mirrour, 21, says that her picture was painted by Sir Peter Lely, a Dutchman [Pieter van der Faes] who was most fashionable at the time, and that she appears to have been “most handsome.” The portrait, however, has either not survived or can no longer be identified as hers.
61 Biographical Mirrour, 21.
White Kennett (1660-1728), Bishop of Peterborough, wrote several political and historical works, including his Register and Chronicle, Ecclesiastical and Civil: containing Matters of Fact delivered in the words of the most Authentick Books, Papers, and Records; digested in exact order of time; with papers, notes, and references towards discovering and connecting the true History of England from the Restauration of King Charles II. Only the first volume was actually published, at London in 1728, but it dealt with the period up to the end of 1662; the Mirrour cites page 482.
62 Hertfordshire Parish Registers retrieved from FindMyPast.
63 The only reference to a son of John and Judith Busby is in the text of the memorial, as immediately follows.
Sir John’s son Thomas, who arranged the memorial and composed the inscription, describes himself as the heir to his father. We must therefore assume that his elder half-brother, the son born to Judith nee Mainwaring in 1659, was already dead; otherwise he would have been the heir.
From the portrait with his mother – in which we believe he has been wrongly identified as his sister Hester – it is probable that the boy was born in 1659, the year after his parents’ marriage. His name was likely William or Roger for one of his grandfathers, or John for his father.
64 FindAGrave Memorial for Sir John Busby died 1701 findagrave.com/memorial/147906503.