Margaret Flemmyng was evidently something of a marital catch, with youth, a substantial marriage portion, and probably also personal charm. Her parents evidently had one idea for her marriage – Robert Walsh, whom they encouraged in his attentions to their daughter – and she another. Margaret Flemmyng herself had initially been inclined towards Walsh (as she admitted in her examination) but then lost interest in him when he left the country on business, turning instead towards another man, Mark Patenson, whom she appears to have met secretly. While Flemmyng herself did not admit to making a contract of marriage with Patenson (though she indicated she would like to), one witness testified that she had in fact contracted marriage with Patenson in November 1490 at the witness’s bedside as she recovered from childbirth; another witness to this alleged contract was more vague, in theory having been present but unsure exactly what they said. In any case, her parents objected and one witness testified that her father ripped a ring Patenson had given Margaret from her finger. When Robert Walsh returned from Ireland in January 1491, her parents completed the financial arrangements for the marriage and arranged for the two to exchange consent in a formal domestic contract with several high-status men as witnesses.
LMA, MS DL/C/A/001/MS09065, fols. 80r-82v.
Administration of case, 22 Jan. 1491
Robert Walsh of the parish of St. Martin Ludgate constituted Nicholas Tollis, Master William Boteler, Turnour, and Evilyn as his proctors, jointly and severally, in all matters, with the power of [?substitution]. Proctor Turnour exhibited in the presence of Coke and Tollis, and brought forward the libel, a copy of which Coke requested in the interests of his party, and the lord assigned Tolls to respond by the next Friday. And then Turnour on the libel produced as witnesses Richard Lynch, John Smyth, William Snowdon, and Thomas Kent, whom the lord admitted and had sworn in. And the lord assigned to Coke to produce first and to Tollis to see what was thus produced the same day, Coke protesting by saying the contrary etc., to whom the lord assigned to record the interrogatories by next Monday. And Coke on his libel produced John Martyn, Thomas Havell, Alice Martyn, and Agnes Agar as witnesses, who were sworn in the presence of Tollis. Tollis, protesting, was given until [?Wednesday] to record the interrogatories.
Testimony of Margaret Flemmyng, Defendant, 22 Jan. 1491
1490 [i.e. 1491]
Personal responses of Margaret Flemmyng, 22 January, before the lord Official in the presence of Master Richard Spencer, in the cathedral church of St. Paul, London
Margaret Flemmyng sworn etc. on the [positions]. To the first position, she says that on several occasions, as she believes three times, Mark implored this witness to take him as her husband. Mark last asked her in the house of John Martyn before the wife of the said John and Agnes Agar, about three weeks before last Christmas, saying thus to this witness, “be ye the same woman that Mistress Martyn saith ye be?” And she answered, “Yea, forsooth.” Then Mark took her by the hand, “Mistress Margaret, ye shall be sure of good love, and there is no woman I will set my mind on but you, and I pray you do to me the same.” And this witness said that he would be safe in her love and favour, and at that time this witness was willing to have Mark as her husband. She says, however, that before that time this witness and Robert Walsh discussed together contracting marriage, and she loved him, and was willing to have him as her husband, but after that he left to go overseas. Because she heard that Robert had turned away from his love for her and was to have Maude the servant of Master John Reed as his wife, this witness stopped loving Robert. And at the time of the aforesaid discussion she intended to have Mark as her husband, if Robert contracted with Maude, and not otherwise. And she says that before the last discussion, this witness asked John Martyn’s wife to speak with Mark so that he would contract marriage with her. She says that Mark gave her after the discussion a pair of gloves and a gold ring, which she gratefully accepted as from her husband, and she gave him a gemew1 of silver gilt. To the fourth position, she does not believe it. To the fifth position, she believes what should be believed, denies what should be denied, and does not believe the fame, as she has not heard of such fame, as she says.
Testimony of Richard Lynch, Witness for Plaintiff Robert Walsh, 27 Jan. 1491
On behalf of Robert Walsh c. Margaret Flemmyng
27 January, in the home of the lord Official, in the presence of Master Richard Spencer
Richard Lynch of the parish of St. Augustine at the Gate, City of London, where he has lived for almost a year, and before that time in the parish of St. Gregory, London, for three years of thereabouts, illiterate, of free condition, thirty years old. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he has known Robert Walsh for six years, and Margaret Flemmyng for four years. To the first article of the libel, he says that after the last feast of the nativity of St. John the Baptist [24 June], and before Robert’s departure overseas, which day he cannot otherwise specify, this witness, coming from the home of Margaret’s father to the house of this witness, [met Robert Walsh and asked him] why he frequented the house of John Flemmyng. He replied, for the sake of having Margaret as his wife, and he wished to take her as his wife before all the other women in the world. Asked immediately by this witness when he intended to solemnize marriage between them, Robert answered as soon, God willing, as he returned from overseas, even if he has not a halfpenny from Margaret’s friends. He says also that after Robert left, this witness asked Margaret in the presence of her mother whether she would have Robert, and she said yes, by her faith. And he says moreover that on a certain day since Robert now last came to the city, and as he believes since the feast of Christmas last past, he was present in John Flemmyng’s house together with Robert, Margaret, John Smyth, a man named Mylard the landlord at the Hart’s Horn next to the Blackfriars, and others whom he does not now recall, where and when Robert and Margaret contracted marriage together by these words, Robert taking Margaret by her right hand and at the instruction of John Smyth saying to her, “I Robert take thee Margaret to my wife, and thereto I plight thee my troth.” And Margaret said to him, “I Margaret take thee Robert to my husband, and thereto I plight thee my troth.” This witness deposed these things from his own sight and hearing. To the second article, he says that before this contract, Robert told this witness that he would have Margaret as his wife, and that on the occasion of contracting marriage between them he had conveyed to her a groat [a coin worth 4d] and a […] ring, and she had given him forty pence. To the third article, he says that he believes that its contents are not true. To the fourth article, he says that what he said above is true, and that public voice and fame circulated and circulates concerning it in the parish of St. Gregory and in other neighbouring places.
Testimony of Thomas Kent, Witness for Plaintiff Robert Walsh, 27 Jan. 1491
Thomas Kent of Gray’s Inn,2 where he has lived for a year and a half, literate, of free condition, twenty-eight years old, as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he has known Robert Walsh for seven years, and Margaret Flemmyng for a year. To the first article, he says that around the last feast of Easter, Margaret’s mother asked this witness to advise Robert to contract marriage with Margaret, and this witness having done this, Robert afterwards went frequently to Margaret’s parents’ house and wanted to have her as his wife. And afterwards around a fortnight after the last feast of St. John the Baptist [24 June], this witness was present in the home of Margaret’s parents, and it was agreed and promised between Margaret’s parents and Robert that Robert would not contract with another woman before the next Michaelmas [29 Sept.], nor Margaret, but that she would wait for Robert until he returned from Ireland. After this was finished, Margaret’s mother promised regarding this that her daughter would wait for Robert to come up to the feast of All Hallows [1 Nov.], and then again promised up to the feast of the Epiphany [6 Jan.], at about which time Robert came to England. And he says that a fortnight ago, this witness was present in the convent church of the Blackfriars,3 and he settled with Margaret’s father that Robert would have her in marriage, and afterwards, that night, as he heard, they contracted marriage together in the presence of several trustworthy men. And otherwise he knows nothing to depose concerning the marriage contract. To the second article, he says that its contents are true as he has heard from Margaret’s mother. To the third article, he says that he knows nothing to depose concerning its contents. To the fourth article, he agrees with Richard Lynch examined above.
Testimony of John Smyth, Witness for Plaintiff Robert Walsh, 27 Jan. 1491
John Smyth of the parish of St. Gregory, city of London, where he has lived for almost forty years, literate, of free condition, sixty years old, as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he first saw Robert Walsh as he recalls on the day about which he will depose below, and he has known Margaret Flemmyng for twelve years and more. To the first article of the libel, he says that a fortnight ago, in the afternoon around the hour of three, this witness was asked by Margaret’s parents to hear a contract of marriage between her and another man, and there he found the said man. And in the presence of Richard Mylard, William Snowdon, Richard Lynch, and Margaret’s mother, this witness there and then asked first Robert, whom he saw for the first time there, whether he would have Margaret as his wife, and he said yes, and then Margaret, similarly questioned, said that she would have him as her husband. And both parties saying that they were free and clear from any matrimonial bond, Robert took Margaret by her right hand and at the instruction of this witness said to her, “I Robert take thee Margaret to my wife,” etc., “and thereto I plight thee my troth.” And then Margaret took Robert by his right hand and said to him, “I Margaret take thee Robert to my husband, and thereto I plight thee my troth,” and they kissed one another. This witness deposes these things from his own sight and hearing. To the second and third articles, he says that he has nothing to depose concerning their contents. To the fourth article, he says that what he has said above is true and that public voice and fame circulated and circulates concerning it in the parish of St. Gregory and in other neighbouring places.
Testimony of William Snowdon, Witness for Plaintiff Robert Walsh, 27 Jan. 1491
William Snowdon of the parish of St. Gregory, where he has lived for four years and a half, literate, of free condition, thirty-three years old as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he first saw Robert Walsh on the day about which he will depose below, and he has known Margaret Flemmyng for a year. To the first article, he agrees with John Smyth examined above, except that this witness did not instruct those who were contracting how to contract, and he agrees with him regarding the other articles, also concerning the fame.
Testimony of Alice Martyn, Witness for Plaintiff Mark Patenson, 1 Mar. 1491
On behalf of Mark Patenson c. Flemmyng, 1 March, A.D. 1490 , in the home of Master Millet, by him, and in my, Richard Woode’s, presence
Alice Martyn, wife of John Martyn, of the parish of St. Faith the Virgin, city of London, where she has lived from the last feast of Michaelmas [29 Sept.], and before that time in the parish of St. Gregory of the said city for four years, of free condition, twenty-five years old, as she says. Inducted as a witness on the libel, etc., she says that she has known Mark Patenson for four years or thereabouts, and Margaret Flemmyng for eight years or thereabouts. To the first and second articles of the libel, she says that their contents are true. To the third article, she says that she believes its contents are true because, as Margaret Flemmyng told this witness, Mark gave to Margaret a certain gold ring, which ring Margaret’s father ripped away from Margaret, as she asserted. To the fourth article, she says that on a certain day last November, in the dwelling-house of this witness, this witness lying in childbed, with Agnes Agar, Joan Baker, the contracting parties, and several others present, there and then Mark said to Margaret, their hands joined, these words in English, “Mistress Margaret, I will have you to my wife, and all other forsake, by my faith and troth.” And Margaret responded in a similar fashion and said the words to Mark, and they unclasped their hands and kissed and drank together in the name of the pledge of marriage. To the fifth article, she says that what she has said above is true, and that public voice and fame circulated and circulates concerning it in the parish of St. Gregory and other neighbouring parishes and places. And she says that she is related by neither blood nor marriage, and nor is she corrupted by influence or money, nor does she care who has victory as long as justice is done.
Testimony of Agnes Agar, Witness for Plaintiff Mark Patenson, 1 Mar. 1491
Agnes Agar, living with William Agar her father, of the parish of St. Gregory, city of London, with whom she has lived from the time of her birth except for eight years, of free condition, twenty-two years old, as she says. Inducted as a witness etc., she says that she has known Mark Patenson for a year, and Margaret Flemmyng for sixteen years or thereabouts. To the first, second, third, and fourth articles, she says that she believes that Margaret loved Mark with the intention of having Mark as her husband, because as she says on a certain day last November, Margaret came to this witness and asked her to go to Alice Martyn’s dwelling-house and ask her in Margaret’s name to solicit and move Mark to make a contract between Mark and Margaret, which she did indeed do. And as for the gifts, she says that she saw a gold or gilt ring in Margaret’s hands, which, as Margaret told her, Mark had given her in the name of marriage. And she says that, as Mark told this witness, Margaret gave Mark a certain gold or gilt ring, called a gemew, in the name of marriage. And as for the words of the contract, she agrees with Alice Martyn, who together with others told this witness the words of the contracting parties. And otherwise she knows nothing to depose concerning their contents. To the fifth article, she says that what she said above is true and that she has nothing to depose concerning fame. She says also that she does not love one party more than the other, nor does she care who has victory as long as justice is done. But she says that she was present in the chamber with Alice Martyn, who was then lying in her childbed, together with others, when Mark and Margaret, standing by the bed in which Alice was lying, talked together and spoke many words, but what they said this witness does not know.
1 A double ring (OED, s.v. gemew, 3).
2 Gray’s Inn was one of the four Inns of Court, where students learned the law and which had lodging for lawyers; given his age, Thomas Kent would be unlikely to be a student and was more likely a practising lawyer.
3 Blackfriars Priory was the convent of the Dominican friars at the southwest corner of the City.