The last will and testament of Alphonsus Fowle, ‘sometime servant to Queen Elizabeth, King James, Prince Henry and Prince Charles’ and ‘sometime keeper of the house and gardens of St James’, when combined with information from the Visitation pedigrees and other contemporary records, can help us to build up a fairly comprehensive picture of Alphonsus’ family.

Fowle family pedigrees in the records of the Visitations of London and Middlesex

The two Visitation pedigrees of the London branch of the Fowle family differ slightly as to the number of children born to Alphonsus. The London pedigree gives him two sons – Mathias and Alphonsus – and two daughters – Anne and Frances. The Middlesex pedigree lists Mathias as the eldest son, but then gives him a second son Adolphus, who is said to have died during the lifetime of his father. (I mentioned the baptismal record for Adolphus Fowle, as well as an apparent legal dispute with his father, in an earlier post.) The same pedigree features Alphonsus Fowle the younger as the third son, but also mentions a fourth son, Samuel, who also died while his father was still alive. There is a record in the parish register of St Martin in the Fields of a Samuel Fowle, baptised on 6th January 1590/91.  The Middlesex pedigree agrees with the London record in giving Alphonsus Fowle the elder two daughters, Anne and Frances.

In this post, I’ll summarise what I’ve been able to find out about the four children of Alphonsus Fowle who survived him: Mathias, Alphonsus, Anne and Frances.

Mathias Fowle

While the pedigree in the London Visitation records states that Mathias married the daughter of a Mr Fisher of London, the Middlesex pedigree gives the additional information that her name was Catherine and that she was the daughter of Edward Fisher, and the sister of Sir Edward Fisher. The couple were married on 6th September 1608 at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch, whose parish register records the marriage of Mathias Fowle to ‘Katharin Fisher’.

The Fishers are probably the family of that name whose pedigree is included in the record of the Visitation of London. According to this record, Edward Fisher the elder was originally of Mickleton in Gloucestershire. His son, Sir Edward Fisher, was also originally from Mickleton, but as of 1634 was living in London. The latter’s eldest son, yet another Edward Fisher, was a theological writer of some note.

According to the Fowle pedigree in the record of the Visitation of London, Mathias and Catherine Fowle had two children, Edward and Frances. However, the Middlesex pedigree gives them three additional children: Anne, Lucy and Catherine.

In the early 1620s Mathias Fowle was involved, together with Christopher Goodlake, in a legal dispute with William Ashley, about the ownership of Montague House in the parish of St Saviour, Southwark. Interestingly, this property was formerly part of the Priory of St Mary Overy, of which Mathias’ supposed great great uncle Bartholomew Fowle was the last prior. Ownership eventually passed to the faithfully Catholic Browne family of Sussex, and the area became a refuge for recusants. In the time of James I, Anthony Browne, the second Viscount Montague, was forced to lease property to pay fines resulting from his recusancy. I’ve written elsewhere about Matthew Woodward, Montague’s former housekeeper who took out one of the leases. According to a footnote in Michael Questier’s Catholicism and Community in Early Modern England, Woodward assigned his interest to William Ashley (or Ashby?), who in 1622 passed it by lease to Christopher Goodlake and Matthias Fowle. Whether there was any connection, religious or otherwise, between Mathias and the Montagues, or whether the association with St Mary Overy is purely coincidental, is not known.

Mathias Fowle seems to have been a merchant of some kind. In about 1616, a ‘royal grant or licence of liberty and power’ was granted to Mathias, together with Richard Dike and Francis Dorrington, ‘to use and exercise the art and mastery of making of gold and silver thread commonly called Venice Gold and Silver Thread’.  Elsewhere Mathias is described as ‘deputy for the gold and silver thread patent’ to Sir Giles Mompesson, a politician whose name became a byword for corruption. Sir Giles Overreach, the anti-hero of Philip Massinger‘s 1625 play A New Way to Pay Old Debts, is based on Mompesson.

In 1621 Mompesson absconded while being investigated by the House of Commons, and some members called for Fowle’s arrest. It was claimed that the patent for gold wire-drawing had been granted to Mathias ‘to the exclusion and ruin of the regular trade’. At some stage Matthias Fowle must have been arrested and consigned to the Fleet Prison, though his father Alphonsus seems to bailed him out, as noted in this extract from the House of Lords Journal for 15th May 1621:

Fowles’s Bill.

 MATHIAS Fowles recognovit, se debere Domino Regi Mille Libras.

Alphonsus Fowles, de Civitate Westm. in Comitatu Midd. recognovit, se debere Domino Regi Quingentas Libras. 

Gulielmus Bennett, de Westm. prædicta, recognovit, se debere Domino Regi Quingentas Libras. 

Johannes Sharpe, de Westm. prædicta, recognovit, se debere Domino Regi Quingentas Libras.

Condition, That Mathias Fowles shall appear here in Court, upon Two Days Warning in Writing left at the now House of the said Alphonsus Fowles, in St. James’s Street (otherwise called Pettie France) in Westm.

Fowles released from Prison.

Whereupon the said Mathias Fowles was discharged out of the Prison of The Fleet.

During the 1624 session of Parliament, the Commons petitioned the King ‘for the redress of diverse grievances, occasioned by monopolies, etc’:

Amongst other things they stated, that the trade of gold wire-drawing had been exercised, within the city of London, by various persons being members of the corporation of goldsmiths, whereby they not only maintained themselves and their families, but also set many other persons to work, until one Mathias Fowle and others (men never bound apprentices to the said trade according to law) obtained letters patent, bearing date on the 16th of June, in the 21st year of his majesty’s reign, whereby they were incorporated, by the name of gold wire-drawers of the city of London, upon suggestion that they would import so much foreign gold and silver coin and bullion, to be converted into current coin of the realm, as should countervail the bullion they should use in making gold wire, etc.; and the Commons petitioned his Majesty would be graciously pleased to publish and declare that the said letters patent should ever hereafter be put in execution’.

According to the Fowle family pedigree in the record of the Visitation of London, Matthias Fowle was living in Ireland by 1634. In 1641 he was the victim of a robbery, by thieves who seem to have been in league with Irish rebels. Fowle’s deposition reveals him to be a resident of the county of Longford, and (judging by the catalogue of his losses) a man of some property:

Mathias ffowle late of Ballilough in the Barrony & parrish of  Granard in the County of Longford Esquire sworne and examined deposeth: and saith That: on or betwixt the xxvth of october last, and the 20th of November next after hee was robbed and dispoiled of his goodes, at Ballyloughe aforesaid of the values following vizt. of Corne worth 285 li. Beastes and cattle 1368 powndes horses mares and geldings 198 powndes swyne 12 powndes, sheepe 400 pownds housholdstuff plate and furniture 300 li. debts and rents 376 powndes ready mony 180 powndes hay and turffe 60 powndes And this Deponent was alsoe at the same time expelled and Driven from his houses and growndes whereon hee had bestowed in building and improvement 350 powndes In all 3519 powndes besides the proffitts of his howse and growndes which are worth by the yeare 200 powndes: And this Deponent further saith that hee was absent when hee was soe robbed and dispoiled but is credibly informed that one James mcThomas of Colamber in the Countyes of Longford and westmeath Esquire under Colour of freindshipp and upon upon promise to secure the howse and goodes tooke some parte of the goodes away and after brought in a number of Rebells whoe tooke all the rest of his said goods away and have restored noe Parte thereof but still in rebellious manner deteine them.

Granard is a town in the north of County Longford. Colamber or Coolamber Hall was on the borders of Longford and Westmeath, about eight miles to the south of Granard. The attack on Matthias Fowle’s home was in all probability part of the wider Irish Rebellion of 1641. It’s not clear whether Matthias Fowle ever recovered his property.

Mathias received a bequest of forty shillings in the 1635 will of his father Alphonsus, while his daughter Frances received one hundred pounds, to be paid to her at the age of twenty-one, by far the most generous bequest in the will.

Alphonsus Fowle the younger

According to the Visitation of London pedigree, Alphonsus Fowle the younger, the second son of Alphonsus Fowle the elder, ‘married for 1st first wife Suzan daughter of Sr Simon Hervy Kt’. The Middlesex Visitation pedigree supplies the additional information that Sir Simon Harvey held the post of ‘Controuller to King James’, adding that ‘hee was somtime the sayd Kings Grocer’. He owned property in the village of Whitton near Twickenham, the website of the local museum noting:

Harvey was appointed Clerk of the Green Cloth in 1625 by Charles I. Prior to this he had been Royal Grocer and, as an ex tradesman, was relatively unpopular. He died in office on 1 Dec 1628. The Clerk of the Green Cloth was a position in the British Royal Household. The Clerk acted as Secretary of the Board of Green Cloth, and therefore was responsible for organising royal journeys and assisting in the administration of the household. His elder brother, Sir John Harvey (c1582-1650) was Governor of Virginia 1630-35 and 1637-39.

This would seem to be the ‘right’ Sir Simon Harvey, yet a confusion arises from the fact that some sources claim that his daughter Susanna married Richard Hopton of Kington, Herefordshire. However, Susanna was the daughter of Sir Simon’s second wife Ursula, so perhaps he had two daughters with the same or similar names? Susanna Hopton née Harvey (1627 – 1709) converted to Catholicism in the 1650s and became a devotional writer, though her husband later reconciled her to Laudian Anglicanism and she was a close friend to a number of nonjuring clergymen. The Hoptons lived close to, and may have known, the Anglican poet and clergyman Thomas Traherne, and indeed Susanna is said to have drawn on his unpublished work in her own writings.

As for the Susan Harvey who married Alphonsus Fowle, she was obviously born at a much earlier date and must have been a product of her father’s first marriage, since the couple were married on 29th July 1617 at the abbey in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

The London pedigree gives Alphonsus and Susan Fowle just one daughter, Jane, whereas the Middlesex pedigree adds two sons, Alphonsus and John (who died young), and two further daughters, Helen and Sarah. Jane was baptised at St Matthew, Friday Street, on 21st July 1618 and Helen or Eleanor on 10th October 1619 at the same church, while Alphonsus, probably the youngest child, was christened at St Margaret’s, Westminster on 26th September 1634. He was born just in time to receive a bequest of five pounds from the will of his grandfather, the first Alphonsus Fowle, which was signed and sealed in the following year. His older sister Jane was to receive the same amount ‘to be paid to her att her age of twenty and one yeares’. Their grandfather’s will makes no reference to Helen or Sarah Fowle, perhaps because they did not survive, or possibly because by this time they were already married and provided for. Their father Alphonsus also received a bequest of five pounds.

Anne Fowle

The 1635 will of the first Alphonsus Fowle reads, in part, as follows:

Item I give and bequeath unto Sir Walter Alexander knight, and Ann his wife, To each of them fforty shillings to buy them Rings in remembrance of my love unto them. Item I give, and bequeath unto Lucy Harbert, Charles Alexander, Henry Alexander, and Anne Alexander children of the said Sir Walter Alexander fforty shillings  peece to buy them Rings in remembrance of my love unto them. Item I give and bequeath unto Tenetia Harbert daughter of the said Lucy Harbert Tenn Pounds

This is a reference to Alphonsus’ daughter Anne and her family. According to the London Visitation pedigree, Anne Fowle, who had been born in 1583, married Sir Walter Alexander, ‘gentleman usher to King Charles’ in 1605, while the Middlesex pedigree notes that he had also served Charles when he was still a prince. Apparently he had previously served Prince Henry, for which he was paid a salary of £20 and was given a gilt cup by King James on his marriage to Anne.

Neither pedigree mentions any children born to the couple, but from the will extract above we can conclude that they had at least four: Lucy, Charles, Henry and Anne. From Lucy’s marriage allegation of 1630 we can deduce that she was born in about 1608, though I haven’t found a record of her baptism. Charles Alexander was baptised at St Margaret’s, Westminster, in February 1614/15 and Anne at the same church in March 1618/19. A Henry Alexander was christened at St Martin in the Fields in February 1614/15, but since this was only a month after Charles’ baptism at a different church, it’s unlikely to be the son of Walter and Ane.

Sir Thomas Herbert (via

On 16th April 1632 Lucy Alexander married Sir Thomas Herbert, baronet, who was originally from Yorkshire and was an historian, traveller and (like Lucy’s father) a gentleman of the bedchamber to Charles I, while the King was in the custody of Parliament. According to Wikipedia:

He was gentleman of the bedchamber to King Charles I from 1647 up to the king’s execution. In his earlier years he went in connection with an embassy to Persia, and he later published an account of his travels. During the first civil war he was a keen supporter of Parliament, and when he was in the king’s service the New Model Army found no reason to suspect him of disloyalty.

There is varied opinion on the matter of Herbert’s devotion to King Charles. In 1678 he published Threnodia Carolina, an account of the last two years of the king’s life. In this account Herbert seems devoted in the extreme, being too distraught to be with the king on the scaffold and bursting into tears when the king seemed upset by some news he had brought. It is true that many of the staunch Roundheads Parliament appointed to the king’s service were converted into royalists on getting to know him. However Threnodia Carolina may have been an attempt to give Herbert a good name in Charles II’s government (the king made him a baronet) and to clear the name of his son-in-law Robert Phayre, who was a regicide.

After the execution Herbert followed the New Model Army to Ireland arriving that summer to take up a position as a parliamentary commissioner. He was to remain in Ireland during the following decade serving in various governmental offices. In December 1653 he was appointed secretary to the Governing Commission for Ireland, which was redesigned in the August 1654 the Governing Council of Ireland. He served as its Clerk until 1659. Henry Cromwell knighted him for his services in July 1658. At the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 Herbert returned to London to take advantage of the offer of a general pardon. On 3 July 1660, shortly after his arrival in England, he had an audience with King Charles II who created him a baronet (his previous Cromwellian knighthood having passed in to oblivion at the restoration). After this Herbert dropped out of public life, but initially he remained in London residing in York Street, Westminster, until the Great Plague in 1666, when he retired to York, where he died (at Petergate House) on the 1 March 1682,and was buried in the church of St. Crux in that city, where his widow placed a brass tablet to his memory

Apparently Thomas and Lucy, also known as Lucia, had four sons and six daughters, but only one son and three daughters survived their father. Their daughter Tenetia, who is mentioned in her grandfather Alphonsus’ will, was baptised on 12th June 1634 at St Margaret’s, Westminster.

Their daughter Elizabeth married Colonel Robert Phaire of Cork, on 16th August 1658. As mentioned in Thomas Herbert’s Wikipedia entry cited above, Phaire or Phayre was a regicide. According to Wikipedia, he was an officer in the Irish Protestant and then the New Model Army, and was one of the three officers to whom the warrant for King Charles’s arrest was addressed. However, he apparently escaped severe punishment at the Restoration through his marriage to Sir Thomas Herbert’s daughter. Phayre was initially arrested and sent to the Tower, but his connection to Sir Thomas led to his provisional release into the latter’s custody:

On 3 July 1661 he was released for one month, on a bond of £2,000. He was not to go beyond the house and gardens of Sir Thomas Herbert, his father-in-law, in Petty France, Westminster. On 19 July another month’s absence was permitted him, with leave to go to the country for his health. On 28 February 1662 he was allowed to remove to Sir Thomas Herbert’s house for three months. After this he seems to have gained his liberty.

It was during this period that Phayre made the acquaintance of the Protestant religious thinker Ludowicke Muggleton and joined his sect. According to Wikipedia:

Some time in 1662 he brought Muggleton to Sir Thomas Herbert’s house and introduced him to his wife, who also became a convert. Their example was followed by their daughters Elizabeth and Mary, and their son-in-law, George Gamble, a merchant in Cork, and formerly a Quaker.

Frances Fowle

The will of Alphonsus Fowle the elder includes the following bequest:

I doe give, and bequeath unto my Grandchildren Alexander Bennett, Mathias Bennett, and ffrances Bridgman their sister ffforty shilings a peece, to buy them Rings in Remembrance of my love to them

The pedigree in the record of the Visitation of London tells us that Frances, daughter of Alphonsus Fowle married William Bennett, servant to Prince Henry, whereas the Middlesex pedigree describes him as a servant to Prince Charles, presumably after the former’s death in 1612.

William, who was born in about 1568, was the son of Hugh and Jane Bennett of Cheshire and was one of four sons, all of whom held posts in the royal household. John Bennett worked in the Armoury under Elizabeth I, Rafe in the Larder under King James, and Richard was employed alongside William in ‘the Pastry’ under both Elizabeth and James. There is also a suggestion in one source that their father Hugh may also have held a post at court, as Pursuivant in the Office of Arms.

As with her sister Anne, our information about Frances’ children comes not from the Visitation records, but from other sources, including the will of their father Alphonsus. I’ve been unable to discover any information relating to Alexander and Mathias, the sons of William and Frances Bennett. However, as suggested by her grandfather’s will, Frances Bennett the younger married a man named Bridgeman. He was in fact Dove Bridgeman, the second son of John Bridgeman, Bishop of Chester, and himself a clergyman, and they were married in about 1633. Bridgeman’s unusual first name derives from the fact that he was named after Bishop Dove of Peterborough, in whose palace he was born on 21st March 1609/10.

John Hackett

Sir Lewis Dyve

(both images via

Dove and Frances Bridgeman had two sons, Charles, born in 1636, and Francis, born in the following year, shortly before his father’s death. Frances Bridgeman née Fowle then married, as his second wife, John Hackett, Bishop of Lichfield, by whom she had a son, John, who died when still young, and Theophila, who married Francis Dyve, Esq., son of the noted Royalist Sir Lewis Dyve of Bromham, Bedfordshire.