Brass of the Month
October 2007: Christopher Daubeney, 1587, Sharrington, Norfolk
October's brass of the month was made at a time of crisis for the family commemorated.
Christopher Daubeney died in 1587 but it was not until 1593 that his wife Philippa put up this memorial. Rather strangely, the inscription refers to her father as Mr Roberts in the county Essex esquire. He was Thomas Roberts of Little Braxted, one of the auditors of the Exchequer to Henry VIII.
Although the inscription of his brass stresses his good name and fame as well as his ancient patrimony, Christopher Daubeney had been prepared to cut the odd corner when he saw the prospect of making more money than a purely legal route would have given him. In 1573 he was one of a number of people implicated when widespread evasion of customs duties at the port of King's Lynn was exposed. The principal culprit, Francis Shaxton, did not suffer unduly and was elected mayor of Lynn for a second time not long afterwards. He had employed various methods to avoid paying customs duties, including using counterfeit cockets and only bonding half the value of shipments. It was the latter offence that Christopher Daubeney had also committed in relation to a shipment he had sold at Antwerp for £500. Although Sharrington is a considerable distance to the east of King's Lynn, the port of Lynn encompassed a long stretch of the north Norfolk coast with various creeks and harbours, meeting the coast belonging to the port of Yarmouth not far from Sharrington , so it is likely that Daubeney's Antwerp cargo was actually loaded at Blakeney. He also shipped corn from the port of Yarmouth but again it was no doubt actually loaded much nearer Sharrington. Despite his own customs evasion, in 1578 Daubeney and Sir William Heydon were ordered to take the oath of the Lynn Customer, Thomas Sydney, that his books and moneys were correct.
Daubeney's ancient patrimony rested on his family having been lords of Sharrington since the 1360s, while his fame and good name were most likely particularly related to his holding of the post of Feodary of Norfolk from the mid 1560s. His customs problem seemingly had no affect on his tenure of this office, which continued into the 1580s. His role as feodary meant that he was always a member of inquisitions post mortem, and any other inquisitions relating to the inheritance of property in Norfolk, sitting with whichever local magnates had been nominated to take part in a particular inquisition, and thus very widely known throughout Norfolk.
When he died in 1587 leaving five sons alive, the future of the family must have looked secure. Less than fifteen years later, in 1601, William Hunt was lord of Sharrington. What went wrong? Henry, Christopher Daubeney's eldest son, undertook to collect taxes in Wayland hundred and other hundreds. He presumably undertook to collect a certain amount, hoping to profit by collecting more than that sum. If he failed to collect enough, he would still have been liable for the remainder, which is what most likely happened. By 1591 Henry was a prisoner in the Fleet. Despite the queen herself agreeing to the stalling Henry's debt in the mid1590s, the Daubeneys' time as lords of Sharrington drew to an end. While brasses and other monuments were often placed to the last members of long established families, this brass instead commemorates the social eclipse of a such a family.
One of the daughters, Joan, is commemorated on brass with her husband Edward Brampton and children at Brampton, also in Norfolk, but nothing is heard of Henry after 1599.
Like all the other brasses at Sharrington, Christopher Daubeney's brass is now mural on a board. Stylistically, it comes towards the end of a period of rapid evolution of the brasses designed in the workshop of Garat Johnson in Southwark and just a couple of years before the documented Gage brasses at West Firle, Sussex, with which a period of stability of design commenced.
Copyright: Jon Bayliss
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Page last updated 08 October 2007