Following on from my discussion of the last will and testament of William Fowle of Mitcham, Surrey, who died in 1547: I’ve uncovered some additional information about the family of Nicholas Burton of Carshalton, who married William’s widow Eleanor after his death.

According to the records of the heraldic visitations of Surrey, made in 1530, 1572 and 1623, Nicholas Burton of Carshalton had three sons and two daughters. It’s not clear how many of these children, if any, were the product of Nicholas’ marriage to Eleanor Fowle, or indeed whether he had been married before.

Martin Barnham, future Sheriff of Kent (right), with his mother and brother (via wikimedia)

Martin Barnham, future Sheriff of Kent (right), with his mother and brother (via wikimedia)

As I reported in the last post, Nicholas Burton’s eldest son Richard married Anne Hampton, daughter of Barnard Hampton, who was Clerk of the Council under Edward VI, Queen Mary, and Elizabeth I. Richard and Anne Hampton had four surviving children. Their eldest son Henry Burton was made a Knight of the Bath; he married firstly Winifred Lodbrooke, daughter of London merchant Jonas Lodbrooke, and secondly Judith, daughter of Sir Martin Calthorp of Hickling, Norfolk, and Lord Mayor of London, and widow of Sir Martin Barnham, Sheriff of Kent (see image above). A second son, Barnard Burton of Croydon, was ‘one of the Privy Chamber to King James’; he married Martha, daughter of John Bray of Surrey and widow of John Guilpen. A third son was Charles Burton, about whom there is no further information. Richard and Anne Burton also had a daughter Anne who married Richard Fenton of Madingley.

The other two sons of Nicholas Burton were Nicholas the younger and William, a ‘doctor of phissick’, who married the daughter of a man named Ball of Cambridge, who was a Justice of the Peace. Nicholas’ daughter Mabel married Thomas Howard, the first Viscount Bindon (see the previous post). His other daughter, Maria or Mary, married Robert Fowle; it seems highly likely that the latter was a relative of William Fowle.

The Visitation document helpfully describes Robert Fowle as ‘a Captaine in Ireland’. I’m fairly certain that he is the Captain Robert Fowle who was Provost Marshall of Connaught in 1581. According to a note to the Selected Letters of Edmund Spenser, Fowle was ‘appointed by Grey on Maltby’s recommendation’, a letter by the former to the Privy Council of 9th December 1581 describing his ‘sufficiencie in service, and his well deserving of longe tyme’.

The defeat of the Armada

The defeat of the Armada

Following the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, when many Spanish sailors and soldiers were shipwrecked in Ireland, the Calendar of State Papers contains the following entry (my emphasis):

Upon Monday the 16th of September, it was thought good by the Governor and Council, forasmuch as many of the Spaniards who escaped shipwreck were kept by divers gentlemen and others of the province, and used with more favour than they thought meet, to set forth a proclamation, upon pain of death,that every man who had or kept any of them should presently bring them in, and deliver them to Robert Fowle, the Provost Marshal, the justices of peace, the sheriffs, or other head officers, or else that any man who should detain any of them above four hours after the publication of the said proclamation to be held and reputed as a traitor, which he published in every place for avoiding of further peril. Whereupon Teige Ne Bully O’Flaherty and many others brought their prisoners to Galway, and for that there were many Spaniards brought to the town of Galway from other parts of the province, besides those which the townsmen had taken prisoners beffore, he despatched Robert Fowle, the Provost Marshal, Captain Nathaniel Smythe and John Byrte [thither] with warrant and commission to put them all to the sword, saving the noblemen or such [principal] gentlemen as were among them, and afterwards to repair to O’Flaherty’s country [to make] earnest search who kept any Spaniards in their hands [and to] execute them in like manner, and take view of the great ordnance, munition, and oth[er] things which were in the two ships that were lost inthat country, and see how it might be sa[ved for] the use of Her Majesty. Whereupon they executed 300 men at Galway.

There are many other references in the same document to Fowle’s role as Provost Marshall, including his involvement in negotiations with Irish rebel leaders and his disagreement with the tactics of Sir Richard Bingham, the governor of Connaught, whose ‘intemperate dealings and bad instruments’ he blamed for a rebellion in the province. Another officer, a Captain John Merbery, described Captain Fowle as ‘a professed enemy to Sir R. Bingham and always a stirrer of the State.’ (See Wikipedia’s account of Bingham’s controversial career.)

16th century map of Connacht (Connaught)

16th century map of Connacht (Connaught)

Another opinion, which seems to be that of Bingham himself, claimed that ‘no officer in Connaught hath so much broken the composition and exacted from the subjects inordinately as Mr. Fowle hath, what by cessing of his horses and horse boys, and placing his deputy marshals in every county, who hath gone up and down with 20 or 30 horses, eating and spoiling and exacting of money.’ On the other hand, Fowle himself claimed in a letter to Lord Burghley: ‘The general discontent in Connaught grew upon some unruly proceedings of bad officers. The Burkes and others still continue in those mistrustful terms towards Sir Richard Bingham and all his ministers.’ The dispute resulted in both men petitioning Queen Elizabeth against the other.

The British Museum and the National Library of Ireland hold copies of a ‘statement of the accompts of Capt. Robert Fowle, late Provost-Marshal of Connaught, set down and signed by Philip Hore, Feb. 26, 1599’, suggesting that he died some time in the 1590s.

Unfortunately, I’ve yet to discover anything about Captain Robert Fowle’s origins, or his possible connection to my own Fowle ancestors.

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