In the previous post I wrote about my possible ancestor Adam Fowle, described in contemporary records as a servant to Elizabeth I and as ‘Keeper of the house and garden of St James.’ His son Alphonsus Fowle must have inherited his father’s position, following the latter’s death in 1582, since the family pedigree in the record of the Visitation of London describes Alphonsus as ‘sometime servant to Queen Elizabeth King James Prince Henry and Prince Charles sometime keeper of the house and gardens of St James’. The pedigree in the record of the Visitation of Middlesex provides the additional information that Alphonsus Fowle was a Justice of the Peace in Middlesex ‘dwelling nere St James beyond Westminster’.
As I noted in the last post, Alphonsus was christened at St Martin in the Fields in January 1559/60. It seems that he was married twice. His first wife was Eleanor Medley, and they must have married when Alphonsus was not yet twenty years old, since their first child Mathias was baptised at St Martin’s on 26th February 1579/90. I’ve yet to find a record of the marriage of Alphonsus and Eleanor, or anything definite about the latter’s background. There is a Medley family of London, with Kent connections, listed in the Visitation of Kent records, but no mention in the pedigree of Eleanor.
After Mathias, the next child born to Alphonsus and Eleanor was their daughter Elizabeth, who was baptised at St Martin’s on 30th May 1582, but she lived for less than two weeks, being buried there on 10th June. Another daughter, Anna or Anne, was born in the following year and christened on 2nd June 1583. Frances or Francisca Fowle was baptised on 12th September 1585.
The transcription of the St Martin’s parish register records that, on 27th January 1587, a child by the name of Aldolphus Fowle (sic) was christened at the church, though the name of his father is not given. The Visitation pedigrees, and Alphonsus’ own will, inform us that he had a son who was his namesake. So is ‘Aldolphus’ a transcriber’s error, or was this the son of another member of the Fowle family? According to a record in the National Archives, in the early 1620s Alphonsus Fowle would be involved in a legal dispute over ‘money matters’ with an Adolphus Fowle, though it’s unclear from the reference what (if any) was the relationship between the two men.
On 6th August 1607 the parish register at St Martin’s recorded the burial of ‘Robert’ famula Mri Fowle’, or Mr Fowle’s female servant.
If the Visitation records are to be believed, Alphonsus Fowle served two monarchs – Elizabeth I and James I – as well as two of James’ sons. Prince Henry, the Prince of Wales, was the elder son of King James and was expected to become king after him, until his death from typhoid fever in 1612, at the age of eighteen. A record of the household of Prince Henry published in 1610 includes an entry for Alphonsus (£160 equates to approximately £16,000 or about $20000 in today’s money):
Alphonsus Fowle listed in a record of Prince Henry’s household
According to the Middlesex pedigree, Alphonsus Fowle’s first wife Eleanor died on 8th October 1624. There is no mention in that record of another marriage, but the London pedigree claims that Alphonsus had a second wife: ‘Ellen widow of John Lawrence of Essex and da. of Henry Chapman of Tutsam Hall in Kent’. The entry in the Survey of Kent for the village of West Farleigh, near Maidstone, includes the following:
THE MANOR OF TOTESHAM-HALL, usually called Tutsham, in this parish, was antiently the residence of a family, who assumed their surname from it.
John de Totesham was one of the recognitores magnæ assisæ, or judges of the great assize in the reign of king John, as appears by the pipe rolls of that reign, and bore for his arms, Gules, within a bordure a cross argent, between twelve billets of the last; as appears by his seal appendant to a deed in the Dering library.
From him this manor and estate descended in a direct line to Anthony Totesham, esq. who about the latter end of the reign of king Henry VIII. alienated Totesham, with an appendage to it, called Henhurst, to Thomas Chapman, gent. one of the grooms of the king’s chamber, in whose name they staid till the middle of queen Elizabeth’s reign, when they were sold to John Laurence, esq. captain of Tilbury fort, who by Anne, one of the two daughters and coheirs of Robert Gidding, esq. left a son and heir, Edward Laurence, esq. who was of Totesham-hall, and died in 1605.
Tutsham Hall in the early eighteenth century
If one of Ellen’s relatives was a groom of the king’s chamber, then it might explain how she came to meet Alphonsus. However, the exact relationship between Ellen’s father Henry Chapman and the Thomas Chapman of Tutsham is unclear. It’s also not clear whether the John Laurence of Tilbury Fort mentioned in this source is the ‘John Lawrence of Essex’ who was Ellen’s first husband, if the Visitation pedigree is to be believed. If so, she must have been his second wife. However, according to one source, Captain John Lawrence of Tilbury fort died in 1557, while other sources claim that Ellen Chapman married her first husband on 16th June 1594.
There was obviously a connection of some kind between Ellen and the Lawrences of Tilbury, since in his will of 1625 Alphonsus Fowle makes a bequest of ‘all that my Annuity rent charge and yearely rent of Twenty Pounds issuinge, and going forth of all that the Mannor of Gobyons with th’appurtenances in the Parish of East Tilbury in the County of Essex which I lately purchased to me and my heires of John Lawrence Cittizen, and Grocer of London’. It may also be significant that the ‘notary public’ who was one of the men to witness Alphonsus’ will was a certain Oliver Lawrence. A Sir John Lawrence, grocer, would serve as mayor of London in 1665.
Alphonsus Fowle made his will in December 1635, when he was seventy-five years old. I’ll share my transcription of the will, and discuss what it can tell us about Alphonsus and his family, in the next post.