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August 2017 - Hercules Raynsford, 1583, & wife Elizabeth, Clifford Chambers, Warwickshire

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Copyright: Jon Bayliss


Reference: J. Maclean, 'History of the Manor and Advowson of Clifford Chambers, and some account of its Possessors', Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 14 (1889-90), 50-116

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Clifford Chambers was a former monastic property puchased in 1462 by Charles Raynsford, Hercules' father. The family were connected to Sir Henry Sidney, who described Hercules in a letter of 1576/7 as a necessary and honest servant whose father and whole lineage were devoted followers of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Sidney's brother-in-law.  Sidney was serving as Lord Deputy of Ireland during this period. Hercules was constable of Dublin Castle and had been appointed collector of wine duties at Kinsale in 1569. It is possible that this description belongs to another older Hercules Raynsford, lord of the manor of Tew in Oxfordshire, but it seems to fit better with the future lord of the manor of Clifford Chambers, who would have been in his early thirties at the time.

    Charles Raynsford lived until 1578. He had nine children, all by his first wife Jane Morgan, Hercules being his second son. Hercules died at the early age of 39, presumably unexpectedly as he made no will. His stepmother, Frances, and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Parry of Denbigh, survived him. His inquisition post mortem, taken at Chipping Campden, reveals that his son and heir, Henry was not yet eight years old. Henry lived until 1622 and has an alabaster monument in the church. It was found that the manor of Clifford Chamber was worth £29 13s 8d, of which an annuity of £13 6s 8d was payable to Thomas Raynsford, Hercules's elder brother.

    The brass was formerly on a tomb-chest, all trace of which has disappeared. It belongs to what John Page-Phillips termed the Daston style. Daston may be viewed as a stylistic grouping in which two or three sub-styles may be distinguished. It is likely that the family continued to patronise the same workshop, for Elizabeth Raynsford, Hercules' daughter and wife of Edward Marrowe, was commemorated in the church by a brass in the succeeding style when she died, presumably in childbirth as she is depicted holding a swaddled infant in her arms. Hercules' brass lies close to the latter end of the sub-style and his widow's figure is not too dissimilar to the earlier figures of the succeeding style but with the facial features that are shared with all the adult females figures from the later style. His figure's armour is very different from that that succeeded it only a couple of years later. It has distinctive characteristics that allow this Daston type to be easily separated from others wearing different armour. The knees are protected by plates with a lower pattern decoration, a feature shared with the large armoured figure of Francis Clopton at Long Melford, while the legs are too long to be in proportion. The tassets that give defensive cover to the upper parts of the front thighs are worn over breeches. The sons wear long gowns while the daughter Elizabeth is dressed much the same as her mother. The inscription is still in black-letter and was classified as Script 12 by Page-Phillips, an inscription style that lasted into the next century. There is a heraldic achievement of arms over Hercules's head on the characteristic inverted shield shape plate much employed on brasses of this era, while the elder Elizabeth has a shield over hers.