Fowle vs. Holden: deciphering an Elizabethan legal document

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Last week I mentioned that I’d taken delivery of a copy of a document relating to a case in Chancery involving my 12 x great grandparents Magnus and Alice Fowle, who lived in the village of Mayfield, Sussex, in the second half of the fifteenth century. I ordered this item from the National Archives mainly because, according to Walter Renshaw, the historian of the Byne family, it provides evidence that Alice was the daughter of Richard Lucke of Mayfield. Analysing the document might help me to explore a new and earlier branch of my family tree – i.e. the Lucke family.

Unfortunately, the original parchment seems to have become scrumpled over time, so that some parts of the text are obscured and it’s difficult to follow some sentences. Even more unfortunately, this problem applies mostly to the opening lines, which seem to include the crucial information about Alice Fowle’s connections to the Fowle family.

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However, I’ve done my best to transcribe the document and I present the results of my labours below. I’ve used empty brackets [ ] to indicate both obscured and illegible words. Proper names are emboldened thus on their first appearance. I’ll discuss what the text reveals about Alice’s possible origins in the next post.

To [ ] Sir Nicholas Bacon knyght Lorde keeper of the Greate Seale of Englande In [ ] wyse coplayning [ ] Orator Magnus [ ] [May]feld in the county of Sussex yoman & Alyce Ffowle wyfe of the saide Magnus one [  ] the daughters of [   ] Richard Lucke late of Mayfield deceased that whereas one [ ] Lucke clarke brother to the sayde Richard Lucke [ ] to the sayde Alyce one of yr sayde Orators by his last will in writing made & declaryd at Lythyngton in the sayde county [ ] the xxivth date of October in the yere of our Lorde god a thousand one hundred fifty & one dyd will [ ] bequeathe to the sayd Alyce one of yr sayde Orators certen severall sumes of monye to the sume of tenne pounds together[ ] two p[ar]cells of Sylver [ ] pounds & too [ ] called tablets of Sylver gylt sett with certen parcells to the value of five pounds And where [ ] also the sayde Thms Lucke did by his last will also give unto one Elizabeth Lucke lately deceased an other of the daughters of the sayde Richard Lucke certen sumes of money [ ] in the sayd last [ ] now at large doth approve the [ ] sumes of mony bequeathed to the sayde Elizabeth doth also applayne unto yr sayde Orators by virtue of [ ] Administer [ ] Of the goods of the sayde Elizabeth Lucke grantyd unto yr sayde Orators by the ordinary of the peculiar Jurisdiction of South Mallynge in ye sayde co[unty] of Sussex And the sayd Thms Lucke by his sayde wyll dyd make & ordeyne one Robt Holden nowe of Mayfield in ye sayd county [ ] executor of [ ] wyll [ ] hym ye sayd Robt Holden with the payment of his detts and legacy owynge to the sayd Robt Holden goods [ ] for the executing of the sayd will & last [ ] to the value of forty pounds & upwards the wych sayd good & [ ] came accordingly to the hands & possession of the sayd Robt Holden [ ] sayd Robt Holden hath had the use p[ro]fytte of the sayd goods whereby he hath [ ] hymselfe [   ] And where also [ ] Mayghfeld aforesaid was Sealyd of [ ] tenne acres of arable pasture & woods lands in his demeanes as of fee beinge seasyd the sayd [ ] at Mayghfeld aforesaid dyd by goode & [ ] conveyance on the same bargen sell & [  ] the [ ] p[ar]cell of the sayd lands & tenements to the sayde Magnus yr Orator & to his [ ] by reason whereof the sayd Magnus yr Orator entyrd into the premisses so to hym bargained & [ ]& th’of lawfully seased [ ] demeanes as of fee & taketh the p[ro]fytts of the same accordingly [  ] so yr right honorable Lorde that he sayd Robt Holden & Wyllyam Penkeherst pretend [   ] utterly to defete yr sayd Orator of the sayd sumes of money to the [ ] and wyllyd by the last will of the sayd Thms Lucke the [ ] & also of the [ ] of money dew to yr Orator by reason of the sayd administracion of the goods and chattels of the sayd Elyzabeth Lucke but also by [ ] of certen deads wrytinge [ ] the sayd lands that are casually common to the hands of the sayd Wyllyam Penkherst & to the hands of the sayd Robt Holden [ ] the lands purchased by yr sayd Orator & the sayde Wyllyman Penkeherst claymeth a yerely rent charge of [   ] goinge oute of the sayd lands to the sayd Wyllyam Penkehurst claymynge the sayd rent by the gyft of the sayd Robt Holden by reson whereof yr Orator is vexyd and troublyd by the sayd Robt Holden some tyme by entryes made [   ] the sayd lands some tyme by distress taken by the sayd Wyllyam Penkeherst and of the maynetayninge the [ ] in dyde [ ] at the common land of the realme agenst yr sayd Orator withoute any iust cause only to vex & trouble yr [   ] yt may please yr goode Lordeship therefore the [   ] & also for [   ] yr Orators same no remedy by the common lands of the realme for the obteyninge of [   ] somes of moneye & jewelry by reason yf the same are [   ] & not demandable by the order of the common lawe of the realme And also for yf the dates of the sayd [   ] deads & wrytinge are not certeynely knowen to yr sayd Orators or where they are in boxe bagge or chest selyd or lockyd yr Orator therefore lykewyse [   ] remedy to record By the locke ordere to grant unto yr sayd Orators the Queenes maieste wryte of Sub pena that by demanding the sayd Robt Holden & Wylllyam Penkeherst & any of the[m] at a certen day & under & surety To abyde [ ] order & direction sowe in [ ] as to yr [   ] to stande with right, equity & goode [   ]And yr sayd Orators shall dayly pray to Almyghty god for yr p[ro]sperous estate in [   ] longe to endure.

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2 Responses to Fowle vs. Holden: deciphering an Elizabethan legal document

  1. Chancery Bills often follow a very similar pattern of introduction wording and looking at the picture, the missing wording in one of the gaps is “wyse complaining showeth unto your Lordship and duly your Orator Magnus”

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