Household items listed in great detail
PHILIPPA DID NOT SURVIVE long to enjoy the fishing rights granted to her in the will of husband Ralph (1470-1546) as she died within two years of him.
She had little land to bequeath, but she had many other valuable possessions which say much about the lifestyle the wealthy couple had enjoyed through their nigh on 50 years of marriage.
The eldest son of the union, William was bequeather a basin and a ewer of silver, a set of 12 apostle spoons, and a double gilt spoon which Barnard presumes may have had a representation of Mary or a patron saint engraved upon it.
Apostle spoons were particularly popular and fashionable at society table in pre-reformation times, when belief in the services of a patron saint was still strong. They symbolise the Last Supper of Christ in the company of the Apostles.
William was also to receive a double gilt goblet and six gilt cups, a feather bed of down, various items of linen, the greatest pot in the house, and the biggest pan.
In addition, he was to have “all those sheep that are now at Combe and all my wool at Broadway and Combe if God call me, And if I live, then to pay me for it with all the right and interest that I have in the said farm”. Finally he was to have her best diamond and a ring, and his wife was to have a little diamond.
Son Henry was bequeathed six spoons, a silver salt cellar, a little gilt cup with a cover, a ring, two feather beds and bedclothes and other linen, two pots and two pans, and six oxen, six cows, 100 sheep and eight pigs.
Son Thomas was to have linen and six oxen, six cows, 50 sheep and six pigs; his daughter was to receive £40 in addition to Ralph’s bequest to her; and his son Ralph was to be kept at school for two years and his son Thomas for one year and then to be apprenticed and paid a wage.
Philippa’s son Francis was bequeathed 100 sheep and all her sheep at Broadway, and the rest of her plate and household goods. Her sister Joan was given four silver spoons, ten ewes and one of her best gowns or a frock, while Joan’s husband John Fulwood was to have a gold ring and £3 6s 8d and their son John a similar sum that he owed for rent.
Daughter Elizabeth’s were bequeathed £5, Joyce’s children were given £4, and all the rest of her clothes were to be shared among her daughters. Her brother-in-law Richard Sheldon was bequeathed £4, Gillian Ruding £2, her servant Margot 10 shillings, all her other women servants 3s 4d, and all her tenants a quarter of malt.
Her sons William and Francis were to be executors and residual legatees, and they proved the will on 30 January 1548/9. There was no mention in the will of her son Baldwin, because he had predeceased her.
‘Black sheep’ daughter written out of will
There was no mention in Phillipa’s will of daughter Mary, who had been a trouble to the family. The story is surprising, as told in official documents of the complaint made by Philippa and her eldest son William at the Court of Star Chamber against Dame Ursula Knightley of Offchurch near Warwick.
Apparently, Dame Ursula had taken Mary into her service at the request of Philippa’s husband Ralph, and while there the girl had engaged herself to marry one of the Dame’s servants named Sylvestre.
When Ralph died, Philippa sent Mary to live at Balford Hall in Beoley, and from there Mary secretly informed Dame Ursula that she was pregnant by Sylvestre, and she asked to be taken away as she did not want her mother to find out.
Dame Ursula wrote to William, then in London, and told him the story, saying she would take Mary before the crime was publicly known and be like a mother to her. William refused, and sent Mary to the house of John and Alice Fox, but Mary escaped and came to Dame Ursula at Offchurch, and of her own free will married Sylvestre.
The subject of the Star Chamber complaint was that six of Dame Ursula’s tenants rode to John Fox’s house and took Mary away, and that Dame Ursula had been at fault in allowing Mary to become pregnant, and in persuading her to marry the servant (Star Chamber, cited in Barnard’s Sheldon Miscellanea).
The outcome of the case is not known, but the pedigrees show that the marriage to Sylvestre did not last, and that Mary took as her second husband George Ferrers of Wetherley, the third son of Sir Edward Ferrers of Baddesley Clinton, between Birmingham and Warwick.
This was an amazing social comeback after such a scandal, as the Ferrers family were well-known aristocrats descending from Norman royalty.
Baddesley Clinton was inherited in 1564 by Henry Ferrers, who was an antiquary and provided Dugdale with information for his Antiquities, and he was responsible for remodeling the interior of the house, which is now owned by the National Trust.
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- William Sheldon at the Battle of Bosworth
- The details of Ralph Sheldon’s will
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