1.5. Interview via FAQs (2002)

Helen Moorwood 2013

1.5. (4) A few more ‘Hows and Whys’ about ancestries

 How did you discover John’s ancestry?

I didn’t need to discover it. He told us so himself in almost as many words in his application for a coat of arms in 1596 and various subsequent documents at the College of Arms. His final refinement was that his great-grandfather had been awarded ‘lands and tenements’ in Warwickshire because of service for Henry VII. The most obvious reason for this was participating in the winning army at Bosworth, composed almost exclusively of Lancashire and Cheshire men. For the full transcriptions and facsimiles of the coat of arms documents, see Gough Nicholsand Howard.

Why has no one else realised this before?

I honestly have no idea. Many in the past have interpreted his claim of ‘service to Henry VII’ because of fighting at Bosworth. It seems, amazingly to me, that none of those who have made this suggestion knew that 90+% of Englishmen on Henry’s side were from Lancashire and Cheshire, in the two Stanley armies. Read Michael Bennett’s Bosworthfor all the numbers and details. Contemporary estimates in the Stanley armies were twenty thousand, since scaled down to about five thousand, but the Earls of Derby regularly mustered armies much larger than five thousand in the following century. (One muster list in 1536, to counter the Pilgrimage of Grace, had well over seven thousand just from Lancashire. Coward(pp. 98, 108) gives the muster list (P.R.O. SP, Hen. VII, fols 157-160) and references to sources for later Lancashire musters.) Henry’s own army consisted of about two thousand French (provided by the King of France), about a thousand Scots (in the service of the King of France) and about two thousand Welsh (picked up on the way largely because of his Welsh Tudor ancestry and the Stanley interest in North Wales), plus a few hundred English fellow-exiles. Work out for yourself the ratio between 5-20,000 from Lancashire and Cheshire and 500(?) English exiles on Henry’s side and you already have the chances that any Englishman at Bosworthand immigrant to the Midlands in the generation after Bosworth was a Stanley tenant. Whichever figures you choose, you will arrive at 90+%.

If John’s ancestor was granted an estate in Warwickshire, why did he become a glover?

His coat of arms grants make it clear that it was his great-grandfather who had inherited the estate, but that others had subsequently inherited it and were still living there and in other local areas in 1599. The obvious explanation from the law of primogeniture is that he or his father was a younger brother, who had to make his own way in the world.

Who was his father?

I don’t know, but as his eldest son was William (from Stratford Registers and from early reports), in all likelihood his own father was William. It certainly wasn’t Richard of Snitterfield, the only candidate on offer so far.

Why are you so sure it wasn’t Richard?

Several reasons, but the main one is that his son John was never labelled ‘Mr’ or ‘Gent.’, whereas ‘our’ John always was. There really were very strict rules in operation at the time, which were apparently not known by 19th century researchers who found Richard the best candidate. He was obviously another recent immigrant in the generation after Bosworth, however, so might well have been a relative.

How did you discover Mary’s ancestry?

By reading Earwakeron the Ardernes of Cheshire, where I immediately spotted Thomas Arderne, Esq., founder of the branch in Leicestershire. He turned out to be Mary’s great-grandfather, by total elimination of all other candidates and his and Mary’s coat of arms. The story was rather tangled in the Midlands because of various 19th century muddles, but Mary’s coat of arms made it very clear that her grandfather was a fourth son of the Cheshire family. Robert Glover(1544-88), herald and King of Arms, had recorded Visitation Pedigrees of Cheshire families in 1566 and 1580 (Rylands)and recorded many coats of arms of Midlands Arde(r)n(e) families in the 1580s, which allowed him, and later me, to sort out the whole story and disentangle most Ardernes from Ardens. I realise I am making this claim without offering the ultimate proof, just indicating where I found it, but the proof really is there. The main problem was all the 19th century muddles, which led to later muddles, which led to the ‘conventional’ story, which require several chapters (in a future book) to sort out. Or maybe we can just forget about the intervening muddles and go back to the primary sources from people who actually knew the real story and reported it in the 16th century, and start again from scratch? Glover presents most of the answers; Frenchpresents most of the muddles.

If his father was a Shakeshafte, why did he change his name?

 I don’t think we will ever know, but there are several examples in the Midlands of people using both names in the 16th century, and also Shakestaff (Stopes, Eccles).Shakespeare was the local Midlands name and I suspect it was under pressure of the local version that they just got fed up of trying to insist on Shakeshafte. (They have my sympathy, as we Moorwoods have to fight long and hard to be recorded as this rather than better known versions of Moorehead, etc.  I had Moorcroft recently from an old school-friend - shame on you, Dr Chadwick!) Or maybe they thought it sounded nicer? Keenin 1954 reported that a solicitor in the Midlands had seen a document where Shakeshafte had been crossed out and Shakespeare inserted, but unfortunately no one since seems to have managed to locate this. However, we know that the Shakeshaftes of Snitterfield ended up as Shakespeares. We also have the evidence of the peculiar hyphen in William’s surname, printed so often as Shake-speare, and Robert Greene’s‘Shake-scene’ in 1592. (Greene’s story is told in all recent Shakespeare biographies; start with Schoenbaum.)The hyphen really is so strange that this in itself demands an explanation, but no one so far has produced a convincing one for me or anyone else. I conclude that it had something to do with the Shakespeare/shafte puzzle.


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