Category Archives: Marriage

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Then trudgeth he into the Kitchin


From The Brideling, Sadling, and Ryding of a rich Churle (1594)

 
 
The following is an extract from The Bachelor’s Banquet by Thomas Dekker. Published in 1603, Dekker’s entertaining pamphlet explores the numerous ways in which a typical wife makes her husband’s existence a living hell, but hen-picked spouses aside, the real joy is in the illuminating detail of daily life in the early seventeenth century, and in the contemporaneous dialogue. What follows here is an account of the wearying role of a husband during a wife’s pregnancy.

When her husband sees her belly to grow big, this breedes him new cares and troubles, for then must he trot up and downe day and night, farre and neare, to get with great cost that [which] his wife longs for: if she let fall but a pin, he is diligent to take it up, least she by stouping should hurt her selfe. She on the other side is so hard to please. And oft times through ease and plentie she growes so queasie stomackt, that she can brooke no common meates, but longs for strange and rare things, which whether they be to be had or no, yet she must have them there is no remedie. She must have Cherries, though for a pound he pay ten shillings, or greene Peascods at foure Nobles a pecke: he must take a horse, and ride into the Countrey, to get her greene Codlings (apples), when they are scarcely so big as a scotch button. In this trouble and vexation of mind and body, lives the silly man for five or seven moneths, all which time his wife doth nothing but complaine, and hee poore soule takes all the care, rising earely, going late to bed, and to be short, is faine to play both the husband and huswife. But when the time drawes neere of her lying downe, then must he trudge to get Gossips, such as she will appoint, or else all the fatte is in the fire.

Consider then what cost and trouble it will be to him, to have all things fine against the Christning day, what store of Sugar, Biskets, Comphets (comfits, a sweetmeat made with fruit and sugar) and Carawapes (confection), Marmalet (quince jelly) and marchpane, with all kind of sweete suckets, and superstitious banqueting stuffe, with a hundred other odde and needlesse trifles, which at that time must fill the pockets of daintie dames. Besides the charge of the midwife, she must have her nurse to attend and keepe her, who must make for her warme broaths, and costly cawdels (a type of gruel mixed with wine or beer given to the sick), enough both for her selfe and her mistresse, being of the minde to fare no worse then she. If her mistresse be fedde with partridge, plover, woodcocks, quailes, or any such like, the nurse must be partner with her in all these dainties. Neither yet will that suffice, but during the whole moneth she privily pilfers away the sugar and ginger, with all other spices that comes under her keeping, putting the poore man to such expence, that in a whole yeare he can scarcely recover that one moneths charges.

Then every day after her lying downe will sundry dames visit her, which are her neighbours, her kinswomen, and other her speciall acquaintance, whom the good man must welcome with all cheerefulnesse, and be sure there be some dainties in store to set before them: where they about some three or foure houres (or possible halfe a day) will sit chatting with the Child-wife, and by that time the cups of wine have merily trold about, and halfe a dozen times moystned their lips with the sweet juyce of the purple grape.

Here Dekker pauses to reveal the sort of gossip the women in the bedchamber exchange:

They begin thus one with another to discourse; Good Lord neighbour, I marvaile how our gossip Frees doth, I have not seene the good soule this many a dayAh God helpe her, quoth another, for she hath her hands full of worke, and her heart full of heavinesse. While she drudges all the weeke at home, her husband, like an unthrift, never leaves running abroad to the Tennis court, and Dicing houses, spending all that ever he hath in such lewd sort. And if that were the worst it is well. But heare you, Gossip, there is another matter spoyles all, he cares no more for his wife then for a dog, but keepes queanes (prostitutes) even under her nose. Jesu! saith another, who would thinke he were such a man, he behaves himselfe so orderly and civilly, to all mens sights? Then the third fetching a great sigh says, I pray you tell me one thing, when saw you our friend mistresse O? Now in good she is a kind creature, and a very gentle. I promise you I saw her not since you and I dranke a pinte of wine with her in the fish market. O, saith the other, There is a great change since that time, for they have bene faine to pawne all that ever they have, and yet God knowes her husband lies still in prison.

The gossips having left the house, the saintly husband finally returns home:

Hee having bene forth to provide such meates as shee would have, he commeth home (perhappes at midnight,) and before hee sitteth downe to rest himselfe, hath a very earnest desire to knowe how his Wife doth. He asketh the Chamber-maide, or else the Nurse, how his Wife doeth: they answere, shee is very ill at ease, and that since his departure shee tasted not one bit of meate, but that towards the Evening she beganne to be a little better, all which be meere Lies. But the Poore-man hearing these wordes, grieves not a little, though he be weary and wet, having gone a long journey through a filthie way. Yet will he neither eate or drinke, nor (so much as once sit downe) till he have seene his Wife. Then the prattling Idle Nurse beginnes to looke verie heavily, and to sigh inwardly as though her Mistresse had bene that day at the point of Death, which he seeing, he was more earnest to visit his wife: whom at the entrance of the Chamber, he heares lye groaning to her selfe. Comming to the Beds side, [he] kindly sits downe by her, saying How now my sweet heart, how doest thou?Ah Husband (saith she) I am very ill, nor was I ever so sicke in my life as I have bene this day. Alas good soule (saith he) I am the more sorrie to heare it. I pray thee tell mee where lies thy paine? Ah Husband (quoth she) you know I have been weake a long time, and not able to eate any thing. But Wife (quoth he) why did you not cause the Nurse to boyle you a Capon, and make a messe of good Broath for you? So shee did (saith his wife) as well as she could, but it did not like me, and by that meanes I have eaten nothing since the broath which your selfe made me: Oh me thought that was excellent good.

Marry, Wife (saith he) I will presently make you some more of the same, and you shall eate it for my sake. With all my hart good Husband (saith shee) and I shall thinke my selfe highly beholding unto you. Then trudgeth hee into the Kitchin; there playes hee the Cook, burning and broyling himselfe over the fire, having his eyes ready to be put out with smoake. While hee is busie making the Broath, hee chides with his Maides, calling them beasts and baggages, that knowes not how to doe any thing, not so much as make a little broath for a sicke body but he must be faine to doe it him selfe. Then comes downe Mistris Nurse as fine as a farthing Fiddle, in her petticoate and Kirtle, having on a white wast-coate, with a Flaunting cambricke ruffe about her necke, who like a Doctris in Facultie, comes thus upon him: Good Lord Sir, what paines you take, here is no bodie can please our Mistresse but your selfe: I will assure you (on my credite) that I doe what I can, yet for my life, I cannot in any way content her. Moreover, here came in Mistresse Cot. and Mistresse Con. who did both of them what they could to have your Wife eate something. Nevertheless, all that they did could not make her taste one spoonefull of any thing all this live-long day. I know not what she ailes, I have kept manie Women in my time, but I never knewe any so weake as shee is; I (quoth he) you are a companie of cunning Cookes, that cannot make a little Broath as it should be.

And by this time the broath being ready, hee brings it straight to his Wife, comforting her with many kind words, praying her to eate for his sake, or to taste a spoonefull or twaine, which she doth, commending it to the Heavens, affirming also that the Broath which the others made had no good taste in the world, and was nothing worth. The good man hereof beeing not a little proude, biddes them make goode in his Wife’s chamber, charging them to tend her well. And having given this direction, hee gettes himselfe to Supper, with some colde meate set before him, such as the Gossips left, or his Nurse could spare, and having this short pittance hee goes to Bedde full of care.
 


From The Merry Cuckhold (1629)

If you enjoyed this, you may like another extract from The Bachelor’s Banquet, an argument between husband and wife over clothes and money, which you can find here

Family Marriage Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Grand-daughter, David Garrick, and A Mulberry Tree

Elizabeth Hall and Thomas Nash c.1626. 
 On display at Nash’s House, Stratford-On-Avon  © SBT   

Shakespeare’s last known living relative, his grand-daughter Elizabeth, is an elusive figure in Shakespeare scholarship and little is known about her. I found the following snippets in a little leaflet from Abington Park Museum in Northamptonshire, which is located on the site of Elizabeth’s former home.

In 1607, Shakespeare’s eldest daughter Susannah married Dr John Hall of Stratford-on-Avon. In 1608, Susannah gave birth to Elizabeth. Elizabeth eventually married Thomas Nash, but he died in 1647, and in 1649, she married for a second time. Her husband was Mr (later Sir) John Bernard of Abington. He was a widower; his first wife, also an Elizabeth, was the daughter of Sir Clement Edmonds.

Elizabeth Nash and John Bernard were married on 5th June 1649, near Stratford-on-Avon. They moved to Abington Manor in Northamptonshire after their wedding and lived there for twenty years. During their marriage, Elizabeth gave birth to eight children, all of whom tragically predeceased her. She died in February 1670, just a few weeks after her husband Sir John had sold their home to William Thursby of Middle Temple, London. Besides an entry in the burial register, there are few formal records of Elizabeth, and certainly little surviving recognition of her as the last living descendant of Shakespeare. No stone marks the spot where she was buried. However, since Abington Church was partially destroyed in 1823, it is possible that a monument or inscription related to her disappeared at this time.

Possible portrait of Elizabeth c.1660

Elizabeth’s husband followed her to the grave in 1674. In 1902, a member of the Bernard family had the following inscription added to his memorial:

Also to Elizabeth, second wife of Sir John Bernard, Knight (Shakespeare’s Grand-daughter and the Last of the Direct Descendants of the poet), who departed this life on 17th February, MDCLXIX, Aged 64 years. Mors set janua vitae.

It is impossible to know if any of Shakespeare’s manuscripts or personal papers went with Elizabeth to Abington Manor. Elizabeth’s mother Susannah was still alive when her daughter married John Bernard in 1649, and it would seem reasonable to suppose she visited her daughter in her new home at least once. However Susannah died in July 1649, just a month after the wedding. She was Shakespeare’s sole surviving executor, her husband having died c.1636, and as such she may have had some of Shakespeare’s papers in her possession. It is impossible to say whether Susannah passed on her father’s papers to Elizabeth. If she did, it is (tantalisingly!) and theoretically possible they still exist somewhere, but they are unlikely to be at Abington Manor, since William Thursby pulled down most of the old house when he rebuilt it in 1678.

Postcard of Abington Manor c.1901-10

Abington Manor also has another connection with Shakespeare. Anne Hanbury, wife of John Harvey Thursby, who owned the house in 1764, was a big Shakespeare enthusiast, and a close friend of the actor David Garrick. Garrick visited Abington Manor in 1778, and supposedly planted a cutting from the Mulberry tree in Shakespeare’s Stratford garden. It seems unlikely the cutting did indeed originate from Shakespeare’s tree, since Francis Gastrell, owner of New Place, famously cut down the Mulberry tree in 1756. The wood was supposedly sold to a Thomas Sharpe who, in a rather enterprising manner, is said to have carved Shakespeare mementos from it. (Some of these can be seen at Nash House in Stratford-on-Avon).
Garrick as Richard III (William Hogarth, 1745) 
However, a more recent owner of Abington wrote that Garrick had been occupied with organising Shakespeare celebrations in Stratford prior to retiring from the stage in 1776, and might have had access to a cutting or sapling of Shakespeare’s tree. In any event, the tree at Abington once sported a brass plate, now in Abington Park Museum, which bears the following inscription:

David Garrick, Esq. planted this Tree, at the request of Anne Thursby, as a growing Testimony of their Friendship, Feby, 1778.

Anne Thursby died on 22nd April 1778. She was apparently a woman of high spirits who was rumoured to gamble. Her epitaph reads:

Here lies the Daughter of William Hanbury of Kelmarsh in the country of Northampton and wife to John Harvey Thursby the Second. What sort of Woman she was the Last Day will determine.

      Woodcut of Mulberry Tree (1607)

Source: Abington Park Museum, Northamptonshire. Thanks to Paul Fraser Webb.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved
Crime Death Execution Marriage Murder

A woman given to looseness and lewdness of life

These snippets come from an early 17th Century account of a murder allegedly committed in London by a wife and brothel owner.

Margaret Ferne-seede, a woman given to all the loosenesse & lewdnesse of life, which either unlawfull lust, or abhominable prostitution could violently cast uppon her, with the greatest infamie, yea, and with such a publique and unrespective unchastitie, that neither beeing chaste nor caught, she regarded not into what eare the loathsomnesse of her life was sounded, or into what bed of lust her lascivious bodie was transported. This more than beastiall lasciviousnes, having consumed the first part of her youth, being then confirmed in some more strength of yeares, she tooke a house neare unto the Iron-gate of the Tower, where she kept a moste abhominable and wilde brothell house, poisoning many young women with that sinne wherewith her owne body long before was filthilie bebotched. From this house at the Iron-gate, she was married unto one Anthony Ferne-seede a Taylor, dwelling in Ducke-lane, but keeping a shop upon Addle-hill neare Carter-lane. This Anthony was amongst his neighbors reputed to be both sober and of very good conversation.

Now it happened that some few monthes agoe in the fieldes of Peckham neare London, there was found a man slaine having his throate cut, a knife in his hand, golde ringes uppon his fingers, and fortie shillings in money in his purse. His woundes [were] of so long continuance that his body was not onely corrupted, but there was also Maggots, or such like filthie wormes ingendered therein, which gave testimony to the beholders that he had not slaine himselfe in that place, as well because the place was free from such a spectacle the day before, as also that such corruption could not proceede from a present slaughter. Againe, what the person slaine no man knewe, both because his phisionomie was altered in his death, and because his acquaintance was little or none in those partes about Peckham. In the end, searching his pockets, and other parts of his apparaile, amongst other notes and reckonings, they found an Indenture wherein a certaine youth which did serve him was bound unto him: this Indenture gave them knowledge both of his name, and of the place of his dwelling, whereupon, certaine discreete persons of Peckham, sent to London to Ducke-lane.

Inquiring for the house of one Anthony Ferne-seede, [they] delivered to his wife the disaster and mischance which had befallen her husband, which her hardoned heart received not as a message of sorrow, but as if it had bene the report of some ordinarie or vulgar newes. She embraced it with an irrespective neglect and carelesness & demanded instantly (before the message would tell her how he dyed) whether his throate were cut, or had he cut his own throate, as either knowing or prophesing how he died. She [then] prepared herself & her Servant in all haste to go to Peckham to behold her husband.

When she & her boy came where the bodie was, where more for awe of the Magistrate than any terror she felt, she made many sower faces, but the drinesse of her braine would suffer no moisture to descend into her eyes: many questions were asked her, to which she answered with such constancie, that no suspition could be grounded against her: then was her boy taken and examined, who delivered the abhomination of her life and that since her mariage with his maister, she had lived in all disquietness, rage, and distemperature, often threatning his life and contryving plots for his destruction. That she had ever since her mariage, in most publique and notorious manner, maintained a yong man, with whom (in his view) she had often committed adultrie: that the same young man since his maisters losse was fled he knew not whither, and that his mistris had even then before the message of his maisters death, sold all his goods (as he supposed) to fly after him whom she loved: all these speeches were not only seconded, but almoste approved by some of her neighbors, which lived neare unto her.

She was taken into a more strict examination, and in the end, by authoritie of Justice she was committed to the White Lyon in Southwarke: during the time of which imprisonment, till her time of tryall, thinking to out face truth with boldnesse, and sin with impudence, she continued out all her examinations taken before severall Justices in her former denialls. She was seldome found to be in charitie with any of her fellow prisoners, nor at any time in quiet with her selfe, rather a provoker then an appeaser of dissentions, given to much swearing, scarce praying but continually scoulding, so that she was as hatefull to all them that dwelt with her in the prison, as shee was to people of honest conversation while she lived abroad. In this uncivill order, spending her houres, the time of tryall comming on, this Margaret Ferneseed was indighted, & arraigned, the purpose of which inditement was to have practised the murther of her late husband Anthony Ferne-seede, who as before was found dead in Peckham field nere Lambeth.

She pleaded not guiltie, putting her cause to God and the Countrie, then were these severall witnesses produced against her, namely of the incontinentness of her life past, her attempt to poyson her husband before this murther, as also to prepare broth for him, and put powder in it, her slight regard of him in his life, and her carelesse sorrow for him after death: with other circumstances as the flight of the fellowe whome she had lived long in adulterie with all, her present sale of her goods uppon her husbands murther, as it may be justly thought, with purpose to flie after him: on which lawfull evidence, she was convicted, & after judgement given her to be burned: and from thence she was conveyed backe to the White Lyon, till the time appointed for her execution.

On Munday being the last of February; she had notice given her, that in the after-noone she must suffer death, and a Preacher commended unto her to instruct her for her soules health, who laboured much with her for the confession of the fact, which she still obstinately denied, but made great showe of repentance for her life past, so that about two of the clocke in the after-noone she was stripped of her ordinary wearing apparell, and uppon her owne smocke put a kirtle of Canvasse [a sort of long tunic] pitched cleane through [painted in tar to speed up the burning process], over which she did weare a white sheet, and so was by the keeper delivered, on each hand a woman leading her, and the Preacher going before her. Being come to the place of execution, both before and after her fastening to the Stake, with godly exhortations hee admonished her that now in that minute she would confesse that fact for which she was now ready to suffer, which she denying, the reeds were planted about, unto which fire being given she was presently dead.

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Clothing Court Marriage

Upon her heade a crowne of refined golde

These fragments come from an account of the marriage of Elizabeth, daughter to James I, and Frederick V of Palatinate ( a region of Germany), on 14th February 1613 at the Royal Chapel, Whitehall.  The celebrations began on the Thursday with a spectacular firework display on the river Thames, and continued into the weekend with mock sea battles, masques, and all manner of ‘triumphant sportes’.  The weekend culminated in the royal wedding itself.

The Court being placed full of people of many Estates, sortes, and Nations, first came the Bride-groom from the newe built Banquetting-house, attired in a white Satten sute, richly beset with Pearle and Golde, attended on by a number of young gallant Courtiers, both English, Scottish, and Dutch, all in rich manner, every one striving to exceede in sumptuous habilliaments, fitte for the attendants of so princely a Bride-groome.  After came the Lady Elizabeth, in her Virgin-robes, clothed in a gowne of white Satten richly embroidered, led betweene her royall brother Prince Charles, and the Earle of Northampton.  Upon her head a crowne of refined golde, made imperiall by the Pearles and Dyamonds thereupon placed, which were so thicke beset that they stood like shining pinnacles.  Upon her amber coloured haire, hanging plaited down over her shoulders to her Waste, betweene every plaight Gold spangles, Pearles, Riche stones, and Diamonds, and many Diamonds of inestimable value embroidered upon her sleeves, which dazzled and amazed the eyes of the beholders.  Her traine in most sumptuous manner carried up by fourteene or fifteene Ladies, attired in white Satten gownes adorned with many rich Jewells.

Elizabeth

After went a traine of Noble-mens Daughters, in white Vestements, gloriously set forth.  These Virgin Brides-maides attended upon the Princesse like a skye of Celestiall starres.  After them came another traine of gallant young Courtiers in sutes embroidered and Pearled, who were Knightes, and the sonnes of great Courtiers.  After them came four Heralds at Armes, in their rich coates of Heraldrie, and then followed many Earles, Lords, and Barrens, of Scotland as well as England, in most noble manner, then the king of Heralds bearing upon his shoulder a Mace of Golde, and then followed the honourable Lords of his Highness privie Councell, which passed along towards the Chappell.  And then came four reverend Bishops of the Land in their Church habilliaments.  After them four Seargiants of the Mace, bearing upon their shoulders foure riche Enamelled Maces.

Then followed the right Honourable the Earle of Aundell carrying the kings Sword. And then in great Royaltie the Kings Majestie himself in a most sumptuous black sute with a Dyamond in his hatte of a wonderfull value.  Close unto him came the Queene attired in white Satten, beautified with much embroidery and many Diamonds.  Upon her attended a number of married Ladies, the Countesses and wives of Earles and Barrons, apparelled in most noble manner which added glory into this triumphant time and Marriage. Then went the passages of our States of England, accompanying the princely Bride and Bridegroome to his Highness Chappell, where after the celebration of the Marriage, contracted in the presence of the King, Queene, prince Charles and the rest, they returned into the banquetting house with great joy.

 Frederick

The Lady Elizabeth thus being made a Wife was led backe by two Batchellors as before.  At the Bridegrooms returne from Chappell went five of his own Country gallants clad in crimson Velvet laide exceedingly thicke with gold lace, bearing in their hands five silver Trumpets. They presented him with a melodious sound of the same, flourishing so delightfully that it greatly rejoyced the whole Court, and caused thousands to say at the same time ‘God give them joy, God give them joy’.  Thus preparing for dinner they passed away a certain time and after fell to Dancing, Masking, and Revelling, according to the custome of such Assemblies, which contined all the day and part of the night in great pleasure.

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