Saturday, December 12, 2009

Question from Jacque - More on wardship

I often see references to aristocratic children in Tudor times going to be brought up or raised in the household of another aristocratic family or person. Was this the same thing as wardship or is there a difference? Also, regarding wardship, if a child was made a ward while their parents were still living (I'm thinking of a situation like Lady Jane Grey's where I think she became Thomas Seymour's ward while her parents were still living) could the guardianship of that child ever be legally returned to their parents even if their guardian was still alive? Or could they only go back to their parents if their guardian died?

1 comment:

kb said...

This was not the same as official wardship.

It was a sign of good parenting to try to place your children in the household of someone of higher status. The ultimate household for placement was the royal household. This is why there was such competition for placement as maid of honour or groom of the chamber.

This was not a legal arrangement but one of courtesy and reciprocity, except for the oath of duty sworn upon entry to the royal household.

So for example by 1560, one of the Knollys girls was placed in the household of the Duchess of Suffolk. The Duchess of Suffolk then became responsible for her behavior. (I think this placement happened earlier when Francis and Katherine Knollys left the country during Mary's reign.)

This parental responsibility is one reason why Queen Elizabeth was so upset when her maids of honour behaved badly or got married, or worse pregnant - without her permission.

Returning to living parents would have been seen as a sign of disgrace. That somehow the child had behaved too badly to remain part of an elite household. The other exception would be if the behavior of the guardian was disgraceful. If that was the case, caring parents would remove their child to their own home or directly to a new placement.