Saturday, June 29, 2013

Question from Peter - Elizabethan wardship

Dear Friends,

Re Wardship

The following is from the Calendar of Elizabeth I Patent Rolls:

"16th May 1587 Grant to Anne Copleys and Robert Bradforde of the wardship and marriage of Jasper Pecke son and heir of Nicholas Pecke with an annuity of £3 from 16 July 26 Eliz. (1584)"

I believe both Jasper's parents were alive in May 1587.Nicholas Pecke died circa 1590. Jasper was born circa 1568.

Q.1 Is it possible one or both of Jasper's parents were living at the time of this wardship in 1587? I know the law on wardship changed over time.

Q.2 What is the likely relationship between Anne Copleys and Robert Bradforde? Would they have been in the same household?

Q.3 What is the annuity of £3 all about? Was this a large sum?

Q.4 What is the significance of the two dates 16th May 1587 and 16 July (1584)

Thank you so much Peter

14 comments:

PhD Historian said...

Since no one else has addressed this question, I am going to take a stab at it, though I am no expert on wardships.

First, the dates: the 1584 in parenthesis is simply a modern transcriber’s note indicating that the date at which the grant was apparently made, 16 July in the 26th year of the reign of Elizabeth, corresponded with the year 1584 (1558 + 26 = 1584). This is odd to me, however, since the beginning of the entry gives a date 3 years later, in 1587. True enough, there were sometimes significant lag-times between the making of a grant and the registration of that grant in the various Rolls, but 3 years seems to me to be an unusually long delay. I tried to find an online image of the original document in order to confirm the particulars, but the Patent Rolls have not yet been added to British-History.ac.uk, and I do not an individual subscription to Gale’s State Papers Online.

Q1: Yes, it is possible that one of his parents was still living when the wardship was granted. The most likely candidate would be his mother. Widows with male children (assuming Jasper’s father was dead in 1584) were seldom allowed to retain custody of the eldest male child, since that child was heir to the father’s estate. It was simply an accepted aspect of Tudor culture that underage heirs and their property needed to be supervised by an adult male rather than by their natural mother, even if that adult male was unrelated to the child. But it would have been unusual for the Court of Wards to become involved if Jasper’s father Nicholas was still living in 1584 ... unless Nicholas were declared “mad” or convicted of a serious crime. Is it possible that the Nicholas Pecke who died in about 1590 was some other relative and not Jasper’s father? Might Jasper’s father Nicholas have died before 1584?

Q2: The relationship between Anne Copleys and Robert Bradforde cannot be determined from the information available. It is possible that they were related and living in the same large household, but it is also possible that they were unrelated and lived in separate households. To further confuse the issue, they may have been biologically related to Jasper, or they may have been totally unrelated to Jasper!

Q3: In theory, all legitimate children who lost their father before achieving age 21 became wards of the monarch. In practice, the Crown set up the Court of Wards to oversee and capitalize on those wardships. Thus wardships were frequently sold to the highest bidder for a “cash-in-hand” price. In all likelihood, Copleys and Bradforde paid the Crown an “up-front” price for the wardship of young Jasper, and in return from the Crown they were granted full control and use of Jasper’s estate, including all money that the estate earned each year. The Crown got an instant influx of needed cash, while the purchasers of the wardship got access to lands they could exploit freely (often to the disadvantage of the young heir). But the Crown also recognized that ability of the purchasers to exploit the estate, and thus usually charged an annuity in addition to the original “up-front” fee. In this instance, Copleys and Bradforde agreed to pay the Crown an annuity of £3 per year until Jasper reached age 21. Whether or not this was a large sum of money is entirely dependent on the assessed annual revenue value of the estate as a whole. If young Jasper’s estate generated £10 per year in cash income, then the annuity was moderate. If, however, Copleys and Bradforde were able to generate £20 or even £30 annually from the estate, the annuity was small. In all likelihood, Jasper’s estate was probably valued at something between £10 and £20 per year, a respectable but not large estate.

Foose said...

I wanted to mention that there may be a possible transliteration error in the rendering of "Anne Copleys." When I went hunting around Google Books for the genealogy I found the same entry, but instead of "Anne Copleys and Robert Bradforde," the wardship was granted to "Avery Copleye and Robert Bradforde," which puts a slightly different complexion on the case (Avery being presumed to be a masculine name in this era). Sometimes, the Google scan mangles names in this way.

The pairing of the names Nicholas Pecke and Jasper Pecke led me to the Rhode Island Historical Society, which identifies a father and son by that name in discussing "The English Ancestry of Joseph Peck of Rehoboth," in which the father Nicholas was married to "Alice, Da. [daughter] of Briant Bradforde," which might indicate that Robert Bradforde was a kinsman of the boy. Unfortunately there are no dates in this document, so I can only conjecture this on the possible rarity of "Nicholas Pecke" and "Jasper Pecke" turning up in conjunction, with a Bradforde in the mix. There is also the consideration that one of Jasper's children is named "Avery."

"Avery Copley" may be an interesting lead. One "Avery Copley of Batley" turns up in various records of the late Elizabethan period, a Yorkshire-born lawyer of Lincoln's inn who married the elder sister of the poet John Donne, wasted her dowry and his mother's loan, and died in debt in 1591. I can't find any substantiating evidence that he had a joint wardship of young Jasper Pecke, though, so it might be another Avery Copley; this one's father was also Avery (or Alvary, or Alvery) and possibly there were others in the family, described as an "old Catholic clan of Yorkshire."

With reference to Bradforde, a "Briant Bradford(e)" of Stanley (in Yorkshire again) also turns up in the records, having married one "Alice, d. and coh. of ... Amyas," and "Robert their son was living at Stanley in 1585, having a son and h. 22 years old." (Dodsworth's Yorkshire Notes). The correspondence of the names (Jasper's mother Alice may have been named after her mother Alice) suggest this may be the maternal family. The bequest of a chalice to Wakefield Church in Briant Bradforde's will is dissected in Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars.

Regarding the dates of the deaths of Jasper's parents - I found A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain(Volume 2), which states:

"Nicholas Pecke, Esq. of Topcliffe, near Wakefield, m. Alice, dau. of Bryan Bradfield, of Stanley, co. York, and by her (who d. before 20 May 1588 [or 1583, Google's bad transliteration may be in play]), had issue. Mr. Peck's will ... was proved 24 Nov. 1590."

I'm not sure how long it took to prove a will in the 16th century, but perhaps if extensive property or interests were involved, it could take months or even years. However, I'm not sure a wardship could be settled before a will was proved. Confusing! Also, note this source says Bradfield, not Bradforde, and in the listing of Jasper's children no Avery is mentioned.

But it looks like Jasper passed into the wardship of a kinsman (possibly his uncle) and someone perhaps unrelated but from Yorkshire.

PhD Historian said...

Thanks for doing all that leg-work, Foose! The potential transcription error, Anne v Avery, is precisely why I wanted to find a digital image of the original wardship document. Just as Google sometimes gets it wrong, so too do the “official” transcribers who generate the printed Calendars from the original documents.

And in the context of wardship, Avery actually makes far more sense than does Anne. The very purpose of wardship was to prevent control of property from passing into or remaining in the hands of an “unsupervised woman” ... that is, a woman who was not under the direct legal control of a father or husband. To grant a wardship to a woman, especially a woman who was not the child’s legitimate mother (and it seems unlikely that Jasper Pecke’s mother was named Anne *Copleys*), would have been counter-intuitive. (Illegitimate children could not inherit from their natural fathers, and thus had no property to make wardship necessary. Anne Copleys therefore cannot have been Nicholas’s mistress.)

I suspect Foose is on the correct track. Bradford/Bradfield may well have been a maternal uncle of young Jasper, and Avery Copleys some other male relative, perhaps a husband of one of Jasper’s female siblings or relatives.

In general, wills were proved very quickly in this period. Comparison of dates in probate registers with those in burial registries and/or on grave markers usually indicate that probate occurred within 30 days of death. Thus if Nicholas Peck’s will was proved 24 November 1590, it is a pretty safe bet that he died within the thirty days prior to that, i.e., in November 1590.

But if Jasper was the son of the same Nicholas Peck who died in November 1590 and Alice Bradfield Copleys (died before 1588), why was he placed in a Crown-supervised wardship in July 1584? The Crown became involved in wardships only if the father was deceased or legally incompetent (through mental disease or major criminal conviction). Yet we know that Nicholas was fully competent in 1584 since he was eligible to leave a will and that will was accepted for probate in 1590. Even had Nicholas callously “sold” his son into a privately-arranged warship, there would not have been any Court of Wards documents generated. More probably, and as is so often the case in the sixteenth century, we are dealing with two different families that happen to have very similar given names in very similar arrangements (husband, wife, son). Again, to figure it all out, one needs to access the original handwritten Court of Wards documents (not the printed Calendar) so as to glean as much information as possible about the various parties (where they lived, the names of signing witnesses to the document, etc), then compare those details to what Foose has uncovered.

Foose said...

Always a pleasure working with you, Ph.D.

Here we are! Revisiting Dugdale's Visitation of Yorkshire, Brian Bradforde's children are listed, including Grace, identified as having married in 1556 "Alvary Copley, of Batley Hall." Grace was Copley's second wife; by his first (Beaumont) wife he had the Alvary/Avery who married Anne Donne, and died during the lifetime of his father. So one paternal uncle and one maternal (by marriage) uncle were Jasper Pecke's guardians, if the identifications are correct.

But yup, get hold of the originals if possible, there's too much room for error working from Google Books or transcribed docs.

Foose said...

Sorry, I meant one maternal (by blood) uncle and one maternal (by marriage) uncle shared the wardship of young Pecke.

Nicholas Pecke had at least 4 brothers, but none of them apparently participated in the wardship. I don't know if this is common (the exclusion of one side of the family) or if it is suggestive of something else going on.

PhD Historian said...

Foose, if you have indeed identified the family (and it looks as though you have), and if Nicholas lived until 1590 but the Crown became involved in a wardship for young Jasper as early as 1584, that suggests to me some serious issue with Nicholas ... and thus potentially with his family. Perhaps that issue rendered the Pecks incapable or unwilling to assume wardship of Jasper? Since Crown-supervised wardship during the life of the father is so unusual, I'd love to know why Jasper was warded out. Very odd occurrence, to my mind.

Peter Cockerill said...

Dear Foose and Phd I cannot thank you both enough for your help with this. I now need to go away and put a cold towel over my head to work out the implications.

I will also endeavour to get a copy of the wardship.I will let you know what I find.

Thank you both.
Peter

Foose said...

You are very welcome!

One speculation that occurred to me, although I couldn't find anything to back it up - perhaps Nicholas Peck had some sort of protracted illness, like tuberculosis, where he realized he would die before his eldest son reached his majority and tried to "fix" a familial wardship before his death, so his son's wardship would not be sold to strangers?

Or, maybe, seeing that the wardship went only to Jasper's maternal relatives, they might have approached an ailing Nicholas and made the suggestion? The genealogy indicates that Jasper had three younger brothers and a sister; perhaps they were farmed out to the numerous Pecke siblings of Nicholas.

I don't know whether you could arrange pre-death wardships like this under Tudor law, but I did find one reference that "the Crown did not scruple to sell a wardship before the death of a reputedly ailing parent" (Children in Tudor Times: From Tudor Times to the Eighteenth Century, by Ivy Pinchbeck and Margaret Stewart, 1969, snippet-view only on Google Books). This argument, however, is used to explain why sickly parents sanctioned child marriages; however, Jasper's wardship and marriage are covered in the 1584 agreement, so maybe that is something else to consider. He married Jane Hanslap (or Hanslapp) from Warwickshire, who does not appear to be related to any of the principals; however, he is described as "Jasper Peck of Copley Hall," which might suggest he was actually reared by the comfortably situated uncle by marriage.

Peter Cockerill said...

Dear Foose and PhD Historian I promised to keep you posted.

I have managed to glean the rest of the entry on the Wardship of Jasper Peck(e)from the Index to Patent Rolls on Google. The full entry reads;

29 Eliz 142 16th May 1587 Grant to Avery Copleye and Robert Bradforde of the wardship and marriage of Jasper Pecke son and heir of Nicholas Pecke with an annuity of £3 from 16 July 26 Eliz. (1584) when Nicholas died to be assigned from lands in Marleye, Chirwell,Toplcliff, Tyngleye, Ludyate and Westeardeslowe with appurtenances in Yorkshire. Yearly value of inheritance £8.(m32)

The place names fit with the
Peck(e)place names I have so I am certain we are talking of the right Jasper.

I wonder if there is a transcriber's error re '29 Eliz...May'.Should it be '26 Eliz...May'? This would make more sense with the 'July....26 Eliz' date.(Or Vice Versa) Clearly my date of death for Nicholas in 1590 is wrong if either of these is correct.

PhD Historian has warned I have a challenge to find the original Patent!

Any further reflections most welcome and thank you both for all your help.
Peter

Peter Cockerill said...

Dear Foose and PhD Historian I promised to keep you posted.

I have managed to glean the rest of the entry on the Wardship of Jasper Peck(e)from the Index to Patent Rolls on Google. The full entry reads;

29 Eliz 142 16th May 1587 Grant to Avery Copleye and Robert Bradforde of the wardship and marriage of Jasper Pecke son and heir of Nicholas Pecke with an annuity of £3 from 16 July 26 Eliz. (1584) when Nicholas died to be assigned from lands in Marleye, Chirwell,Toplcliff, Tyngleye, Ludyate and Westeardeslowe with appurtenances in Yorkshire. Yearly value of inheritance £8.(m32)

The place names fit with the
Peck(e)place names I have so I am certain we are talking of the right Jasper.

I wonder if there is a transcriber's error re '29 Eliz...May'.Should it be '26 Eliz...May'? This would make more sense with the 'July....26 Eliz' date.(Or Vice Versa) Clearly my date of death for Nicholas in 1590 is wrong if either of these is correct.

PhD Historian has warned I have a challenge to find the original Patent!

PhD Historian said...

As I read the more complete transcription, it does appear to indicate that Nicholas died in July in the 26th year of the reign of Elizabeth (1584) and that Jasper was ... at least in practice ... immediately made a ward of Copleye and Bradforde. The wardship was not recorded with the Crown until 3 years later, however. The value of the estate was relatively small at £8 per year in generated revenue (in the sixteenth century, land was most commonly valued according to the income it produced per year in rents or production, rather than on a per-acre basis). An annuity of £3 is consistent with the revenue value ... Copleye and Bradforde get roughly 2/3 of the income from the lands (with which they are supposed to support young Jasper), while the Crown gets 1/3.

But now we have the question of why Nicholas’s will was not proved until 6 years later, in 1590. When added to the delay in recording the wardship, I have to wonder if we are perhaps dealing with some kind of simple human “dawdling” ... perhaps even for pecuniary reasons. Did Copleye and Bradforde deliberately delay the paperwork process in order to skim off as much money as possible from young Jasper’s inheritance? Certainly that was common enough in the period. One critical bit of evidence will be the will itself. You need to find out who Nicholas’s executors were. I’m betting they were Copleye and Bradforde. If so, they gained financially by delaying probate, though their action would have been unethical at best, illegal at worst.

You do have one good bit of information in that full transcription, though. “m32” almost certainly means “membrane 32”. If you are really lucky, the box of Court of Wards documents containing this specific wardship will have all of the documents (membranes, since they are on vellum) numbered, probably in pencil in a modern hand in the upper righthand corner. That should make it easier to find the Peck wardship within a box of perhaps 100 other very similar documents.

Peter Cockerill said...

Many thanks Phd Historian. I am most grateful to you. Is the original Wardship Document likely to have much more information?

Best wishes.
Peter

PhD Historian said...

Probably not, but for the sake of thoroughness, it should be checked.

Peter Cockerill said...

I have now obtained a copy of the Wardship document. Can anyone advise where I might get it 'translated'.

Many thanks.
Peter