Brass of the Month

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    Page last updated 15 November 2017

November 2017 - Nicholas (1522) & Elizabeth Boone, Edmonton, Middlesex

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This month's brass is one of those seen by those who attended the Society's meeting at Edmonton at the end of October.


    The figures of Nicholas Boone and his wife Elizabeth, now on a wall at the west end of All Saints's church in Edmonton, are unexceptional, belonging as they do to that group of brasses designated as debased F by Malcolm Norris. As such they are in stark contrast to the figures of the London F style of the late fifteenth century, which mark a high point in the design of brass effigies. What separates the brass from the run-of-the-mill is the inscription, both for its engraving and its content.

    Nicholas Boone (the name also occurs as Bone and Bowne) had been appointed bailiff of Edmonton by Sir Thomas Bourchier when he and his wife Agnes Charlton had been given a grant of the manor of Edmonton in 1486. The manor had belonged to Sir Richard Charlton, who was killed fighting for Richard III at Bosworth in 1485. It had been forfeited by attainder in the first year of Henry VII's reign. Agnes Charlton was Sir Richard's sister. Bourchier had also appointed Nicholas Boone as farmer of the manor for his life for a fee. This meant that Boone was able to use his position to make as much profit as he could from the manor. His method of doing so was one much exploited during the early sixteenth century: enclosure. Enclosing the common lands on which the local people grazed their livestock by hedging and ditching it, he could make money by leasing it. Boone was following the precedent of Sir Richard Charlton, who had made two attempts to enclose John a Marsh field, the first in 1475 meeting with failure when two to three hundred commoners (those who used the common land for grazing) broke down hedges and filled ditches. These commoners were from not only Edmonton but Enfield as inhabitants of both shared common land. They were joined by others from Hadley and South Mimms. Bone had enclosed 200 acres by 1515 and another 100 had been enclosed by others. Enfield manor had become part of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1420. This mean that the inhabitants of Enfield were able to take a case against Boone and others to the Duchy court to try to enforce their rights on the common lands. They were successful in a case against Boone's successor,  John Grimston, but this did not halt the enclosure process. Nicholas Bone was a man of property and not just in the immediate neighbourhood as mentions in documents of property at Chigwell, Essex, and Southwark and Bermondsey in Surrey demonstrate.   

    William Robinson, in The history and antiquities of the parish of Edmonton (1819) described the Boone brass thus:

 On the pavement at the east end of the north aisle, the effigies of Nicholas Boone and  Elizabeth Boone, in brass with the following inscription, in the old letter:—

    Of dethe we have tastyd the mortall rage,

    Now lying bothe to gedore onder thys stone,

    That somtyme were knytt by bond of marrage,

    For'terme of lyfe, two bodies in one.

    Therfore good peple to God in throne,

    Pray frome the one body two soulys procede,

    The whiche in one company to hevyne may gone,

    That teporall marrage everlastyng succede.

It is not only the verse that marks this brass out as being a bit different but the lettering, in particular the capital letters at the beginning of each line, which are not those normally employed on brasses of this style, a characteristic also found on the small plates of brass under each effigy giving the names of those depicted. There is also interest in the line fillers of foliage The verse, on the subject of temporal and eternal marriage, is an unusual one and presumably indicates that the brass was laid down before Nicholas Boone's second marriage to Rose, widow of George Assheby of Harefield. This marriage did not take place until sometime after 24th of April 1516, when Rose Assheby of Harefield, widow, took a lease of Moor Hall in Harefield. A new lease of the same property to Rose Bown of Harefield, widow, was made on very similar terms on 18th of September 1522, indicating that Nicholas was dead. He may have been dead by 18th July 1522 when a lease was made of the messuage called the Lyon in Edmonton which Nicholas Bone, gentleman, lately held. An action brought Richard Ade to recover a debt of Nicholas after Rose Bone had initially refused administration of his will presumably accounts for some of the delay in the probate. For the next few years (1523-6) Rose Boone, widow, as executrix of Nicholas, was named among the defendants in various Common Pleas court proceedings for debt and using the same court herself in the latter year to try to reclaim sheep seized by her neighbour at Harefield, John Newdegate, sergeant at law.

Rose survived Nicholas by quite a number of years and was certainly still alive in 1548. She is represented on the brass to her first husband and herself at Harefield, believed to have been laid down around 1537.



References

S Freeth, H M Stuchfield, P Whittemore, Edmonton, Middlesex  (2017)

Online searches of the following sites:

The National Archives: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Searching this site also brings up results from local archives such as London Metropolitan Archives

:http://aalt.law.uh.edu contains a lot of TNA material, some of which has been indexed. This is a site run by thee University of Houston’s O’Quinn Law Library.

http://www.lamas.org.uk/archives/transactions - Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society



Copyright: Jon Bayliss