Brass of the Month

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Page last updated 07 April 2015

Copyright: Jon Bayliss


April 2015 -  Edward & Margaret Gage, 1595, Framfield, Sussex


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This month's brass is part of a monument bearing the date 1595 that has been mistaken for a date of death.

    Edward Gage was a member of a Sussex family whose brasses have provided much information on the activities of Garret Johnson, an immigrant tomb-maker based in Southwark. Johnson provided drawings of two brasses and an alabaster monument he was to make for John Gage of West Firle in Sussex. The brasses were for John Gage himself, his father Sir Edward Gage and grandfather Sir John Gage KG. The latter had left property at Bentley in the parish of Framfield to another son, James Gage, who left it in turn to his son Edward. Edward had succeeded his father in 1572 at the age of twenty-seven and was John Gage of Firle's first cousin.

Edward married Margaret, daughter of John Shelley of Michelgrove in the parish of Clapham, Sussex. According to the inscription on their monument they had three sons and seven daughters but only one son and five daughters are depicted on the brass. Edward Gage acquired the lease of the rectory of Framfield in 1570 at a time when the chancel,  damaged by fire fifty years earlier, was in need of re-edifying. The lessee was required to make repairs. He built the chapel on the south side of the chancel, once called the Bentley chapel but now known as the Gage chapel. In this chapel his brass is fixed as part of his monument at the east end of the south wall. Gage was a lawyer but also, as were his and his wife's families, an adherent of the Roman Catholic faith. He appeared before the Privy Council as a recusant on various occasions and was imprisoned at least twice. His role as executor of the wills of the Earl of Southampton and Viscount Montague meant that he was let out on bail for extended periods and consequently suffered less than some. Looking back in 1612, when he had been living in self-imposed exile for six years, he regarded his time under the rule of Elizabeth I as untroubled. He had been able to sell two-thirds of his estates to support his family. He died in 1614 and was succeeded by his nephew, Edward Gage of Wormley.


    Evidently the one remaining son shown on his brass died before him but he had six daughters who survived to be married, although he outlived three of them, children of these three being named in his inquisition post mortem alongside his three living daughters. Unless a mistake had been made on the brass, he must have had a further daughter after 1595, the date of his monument. This date has been mistaken for his date of death.

    It has been acknowledged for some time that this brass, the monuments and brasses ordered by John Gage of West Firle, one of them dated 1595 on the tomb-chest, the monument to Edward Gage at Framfield and the monument at Clapham, Sussex, commemorating John Shelley and his family were all made at the same time in the workshop of Garret Johnson at Southwark.  The Clapham monument was originally of the same design as that at Framfield, All three use the wrong arms for the Shelley family. These arms are those used by another branch of the family, a mistake that has led to the incorrect identification of John Gage's second wife in many sources. She was a widowed sister of Edward Gage's wife, making the men not just cousins but brothers-in-law. John Shelley was brother-in-law to both Gages and had died in 1592.

    The inscription on the alabaster above the Framfield brass reads

 HERE  LYETH  YE  BODIE  OF  EDWARD  GAGE  ESQVIRE  &  MARGARETT

 HIS WIFE (DAVGHTER OF IOHN SHELLIE OF MICHELGROVE) & HAD 3 SONNES

     & SEAVEN DAVGHTERS · ANNO DÕNI · 1595  ·

  On the alabaster below the brass:

 DOMINE SECVNDVM ACTVM MEVM NOLI ME IVDIARE : NIHIL DIGNVM

 IN CONSPECTV TVO EGI : IDEO DEPRECOR MAIESTATEM TVAM VT

 TV DEVS DELEAS INIQVITATEM MEAM    AMPLIVS LAVA ME

 DOMINE AB INIVSTITIA MEA ET A DELICTO MEO MVNDA ME VT

   TV DEVS DELEAS INIQVITATEM MEAM

This inscription, from the Office for the Dead also occurs on the monument at Clapham and the translation given by Mrs Davidson-Houston in her description of the Shelley brass is:

 Judge me not, O Lord, according to my sin: I have done nothing worthy in Thy sight: I beseech Thy Majesty therefore that thou, O God blot out my iniquity. Wash me throughly from my wickedness, O Lord: and cleanse me from my sin, that thou, O God, mayst blot out my iniquity.



Reference

Mrs C E  D Davidson-Houston, ‘Sussex Monumental Brasses’, part 2, Sussex Archaeological  Collections, Vol LXXVII, pp 146-147 (Clapham), 190-191 (Framfield).