Margery Brewes, wife of Sir John Paston

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Rosie Bevan

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May 16, 2002, 1:34:04 AM5/16/02
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Leo recently pointed out to me two erroneous entries in Paget concerning
Margery Brewes c1458-1495, da. of Sir Thomas Brewes.
They are that:

1.Margery Brewes (Paget Q 116398) was daughter of Joan Calthorpe

2.William Paston, (P 58199), the son and heir of Margery Brewse and Sir John
Paston, was born in 1464.

1. It is generally accepted that Margery Brewes was daughter of Elizabeth
Debenham, but it always useful to re-examine the reasons why. CP II : 306,
from the will of Ela (Stapleton) Brewes, tells us that Sir Thomas Brewes and
Elizabeth Debenham were married before 16 Oct 1456. Margery Brewes and John
Paston were married in 1477 and going by the dates available, had she been
daughter of Joan Calthorpe, would have been at least 21 years old at that
time, which is rather old for a first marriage.

This is itself is not conclusive evidence that she was daughter of Elizabeth
Debenham, but it is revealed in James Gairdner's compilation of the Paston
letters, that on the back of the first letter in the protracted marriage
settlement negotiations, was written in the hand of John Paston, "Letrae
dominae Elizabethae Brews et Margeriae filae (sic) ejus". [James Gairdner,
'The Paston Letters 1422-1509'. 1910, p.167]. John Paston refers to Margery
as daughter of Elizabeth Brewes. The latter played a dominant role in the
matchmaking between Margery and John Paston, stressing her own advantageous
family connection to "my nowncle Hastynges", John Hastings of Gressenhall
who died in April 1477, shortly after the letter was written.

The names of Elizabeth (Debenham) Brewes' children strongly reflect their
Hastings heritage -
John - (John Hastings of Gressenhall de jure Lord Hastings, d.1477 - CP VI :
360, great uncle of Elizabeth) ;
Edward - (Sir Edward Hastings d.1438 - CP VI : 358, great grandfather of
Elizabeth);
Muriel - (Muriel Dinham, Sir Edward's first wife);
Margaret - (Margaret Hastings, grandmother of Elizabeth Debenham); Margery -
(Margery Clifton, second wife and maternal great-grandmother of Elizabeth
Debenham). That Margery is named after a great grandmother suggests that she
one of the youngest daughters of Thomas and Elizabeth Brewes.

Margery and John Paston had one daughter called Elizabeth, clearly named
after Margery's mother Elizabeth Debenham. Elizabeth Paston married first
William Clere, son and heir of Sir Robert Clere of Ormesby and secondly Sir
John Fineaux, Chief Justice of the King's Bench. [Blomefield, 'County of
Norfolk', v.6, p.487].

The Hastings ancestry gives Margery Brewes a descent from Edward I.

2. After the marriage negotiations, which took place between February and
June 1477, Margery Brewes and John Paston were married about July of that
year. On 18 Dec 1477 Margery wrote to her husband, and the letter reveals
that she was already pregnant, that the pregnancy has become obvious and
that the baby's movements were keeping her awake at night. [James Gairdner,
'The Paston Letters 1422-1509'. 1910, p.214]. She was probably about 5
months into her pregnancy and the baby was born about April/May 1478. From
a letter written by William Paston to his father, we know that he was
attending Cambridge University in 1495 and had to leave temporarily owing to
the 'sweating sickness'. Entrance to university generally took place at the
age of 15, which indicates he was born by 1480. This narrows down Sir
Williams Paston's birth to about 1478-80, and certainly not 1464 as Paget
suggests.

Thanks, acknowledgements, and credit go to John Ravilious for uncovering the
Hastings/Debenham connection.

Cheers

Rosie

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