|William Seymour (1588-1660)|
The private purse accounts of the Marquis of Hertford from
Michaelmas (29th September) 1641 to Michaelmas 1642, were published
back in the 1940s (1).
No analysis of the clothing items was made, apart from the comment that they
constituted £210 3s 10d from a total bill of £1,167 15s 0d. Of the total amount
over half, nearly £600, was disbursed in personal allowances, and a further
£200 in gift and gratuities. Teasing out
the accounts shows that there were about 130 items that are clothing related
and, although there are some references to the accounts in the Cunningtons’
no full examination has been made.
William Seymour (1588 –1660), was Earl of Hertford, and was created
Marquis of the same in June 1641. He was appointed governor to the Prince of
Wales in August 1641, just before the accounts start. He became 2nd Duke of Somerset
at the restoration. His second wife was Frances Devereux (1599 – 1674), who he
married in 1617, this made him Essex’s brother-in-law, although they were on
opposite sides in the Civil War. He took
the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York to join their father at York in the
April of 1642, and appears to have had his son Robert with him, as Robert is
given in the accounts five pounds “for his private occasions when he went to
The family was closely related to both the Tudor and Stuart
dynasties. When his son Henry was sent to the Tower of London in April 1651 for
his involvement in the western association, William remarked that the Tower was
“a place entailed upon our famylie, for wee have now helde it five generations.”
William had been held in the Tower himself after his marriage to his first
wife, Arabella Stuart, a first cousin to King James. William’s father, Edward Seymour (1561–1612) had been
born in the Tower when William’s grandfather, also Edward Seymour (1539?–1621),
had married the Queen Elizabeth’s cousin Katherine Grey. His father, another Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of
Somerset (c.1500–1552), had been executed on Tower Hill. (3)
The household consisted of William and Frances and their
seven children. Two of the children are actually young adults and three are
teenagers, so only two are really children. They are referred to throughout
collectively as the young lords and the young ladies, and individually by name.
Their ages, garnered from a selection of sources and not necessarily correct as
there is a lot uncertainty about birth years (4) , should have been
much as follows: Lady Frances – 22, Lord William -20 (he died sometime during
the year), Lord Robert -19 (he succeeded to his brother’s title of Lord
Beauchamp), Lord Henry – 15, Lady Mary – 13, Lord John – 8, and Lady Jane – 4. (4) The famous painting by Van Dyck of King Charles I's five children was painted in 1637, and the two eldest, Prince Charles, aged 7 and Princess Mary, aged 5, correspond with the sort of thing Lord John and Lady Jane would have been wearing.
|Van Dyck 1637 - Five children of Charles I|
Clothing and textiles
in the accounts – overview and providers
The majority of the items bought are for the children and
not for their parents, though some items are marked for “my Lord”, presumably
William himself. Also a considerable amount of cloth is bought without being
listed for anyone in particular. It may be
that other clothes came from other accounts and this should not be taken
as all the clothing for the family. Some providers are named, but not all. There are some references just to “the
shoemaker”, but three shoemakers are mentioned by name: Reeves, Harris and Strangwaies.
Some of the gloves and stockings are provided by the aptly named Elizabeth
(Bess) Gauntlett. Frauncis Bolton and Robert Hill provide bone (bobbin) lace.
Mr Gosse makes suits for Lady Francis and Lady Mary, and Clement Smith and Mr
Hill (possibly the Robert Hill mentioned before) provide them both with bodies.
Mr. Patie receives 17s 11d for “washing my lord's linen at Windsor”, the only
indication of laundry being when Hertford was away from his own estates.
Underwear and other
linens – smocks, shirts, drawers, aprons, etc.
Large quantities of holland are purchased and earmarked for
underwear. The holland ranges from 5s to 12s the ell although “fine holland to
make handkerchiefs” is listed at 9s 6d an ell. All the holland is listed by the
ell, a measure that in England was 45 inches. (5) Lady Francis and
Lady Mary receive 22½ ells of holland for smocks at 6s the ell, while the two
youngest children Lord John and Lady Jean receive 14¼ ells of Holland at 5s the
ell for shirts and smocks, cushion clothes and socks. More holland is bought
for aprons, handkerchiefs and for “my Lord” there are 10 ells of holland to
make 6 pairs of drawers, and a further 6 ells of more expensive holland to make
3 waistcoats. Pepys speaks of lying around “in my drawers and stockings and
wastecoate till five of the clock.” (6) The drawers may have
been like the later 17th century ones worn by the funeral effigy of
Charles II. (7)
At least some of the shirts were trimmed with lace, 10 ells of
bonelace at 7s the ell is purchased for
6 half shirts for Lord Henry, and a further 3¼ yards of lace
at 10s per yard is bought for shirts and boothose for Lord Robert. Again 3¼
yards of lace costing a total of 42s 3d, is purchased to make him [Lord Robert]
shirts and boothose, and Lord Henry receives 4 yards of bonelace for three pair
of boothose at a total cost of 28s 9d. It would appear that each boothose was
24 inches around at the top. We do not know, as it is not specified, what
material the boothose was made from. A pair of surviving boothose, from the
1640s in the Victoria
and Albert Museum, are actually knitted and show the extreme size the tops
Further holland, a total of 12¾ ells, is purchased for aprons for the young ladies, and another 2s
1d is spent on “tape for apron strings.” Another item of underwear is also
listed for the young ladies, they received 17 yards of white flannel at 20d the
yard to make under petticoats. The total cost of this is given as 33s 4d (this
is wrong it should be 28s 4d.)
Handkerchiefs and neckerchiefs
Handkerchiefs may not necessarily have
been handkerchiefs; they could have been worn around the neck. There is a
discussion in the examination of a plain linen square now in the Victoria and
Albert Museum, which quotes the Verney accounts and the possible distinction
inherent in, “5 handkerchers...2 pocket handkerchers.” (8) The 2½ ells of “fine
holland to make handkerchiefs” purchased for “my Lord” may well have been
handkerchiefs, and handkerchief buttons were also purchased for him. Buttoned
handkerchiefs were in fashion. Lady Francis’s “tiffiny gorgett handkercher and
cuffs” at 10s is however more likely to be for her neck. Tiffany is a thin,
transparent silk. (9) Both Lady Francis
and Lady Mary receive more: 3 yards tiffany for handkerchers at 2s 8d the yard,
and 1¼ yard for cuffs at 3s 3d with 3 ounces of thread to make this work 3s.”
Matched sets of this type rarely survive though they can be seen in portraits
such as Rembrandt’s 1639 portrait of Maria Trip. There is a linen set
dating from 1630-50 in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the lace
of which Jenny Tiramani considers is English. (10) Such handkerchiefs were
starched, 4 “laced round hancherchers” for Lady Francis and Lady Mary cost 8s,
a further 4s was paid for starching them.
Caps and hoods, masks and chin clouts
|Hollar's 1643 winter - wearing hood, mask & chin clout|
More holland is bought for caps. For Lady Mary there are 2
holland caps costing 8s, and for Lady Jane 8 holland caps, “and for holland and
making at 4s the piece - 32s” The young ladies also received a hood each with
no material listed, but costing 2s 4d each. Lady Jane got 2 white sarcenet
hoods at 3s 6d each, and Lady Francis 2 black taffeta hoods also at 3s 6d each.
Wenceslaus Hollar often engraved women wearing such hoods.
Their father and brothers on the other hand got caps. “My Lord” received a
satin cap costing 5s and a leather cap costing 2s. Lord Beauchamp received a
cap, material unspecified at 4s 6d, and a leather cap costing 2s 6d, whilst his
youngest brother Lord John had 2 black satin caps at 13s. These would appear to
be plain caps which tend not to survive, unlike the elaborately embroidered
caps which can be found in the collections of many museums, as in this example
in the Victoria
and Albert Museum. The ladies also receive
masks the young ladies costing 1s 6d each, such masks were commonly worn by
ladies to protect their faces from sun or weather. An example that survives is
listed in the Portable Antiquities
Scheme database. Chin clouts, these are cloths worn to cover the chin when
out of doors, are also purchased for the sum of 5s 2d.
Gloves are one of the
standout points of the accounts. Surviving gloves from the period tend to have
elaborately embroidered gauntlets, such as those in the collection of the Worshipful Company of Glovers,
but the gloves in the accounts are bought in large numbers, and may well have
been plain, as worn in this
painting. There are eight orders for
gloves, the largest order is for “5
dozen & 10 (that is 70) paire of gloves £2 9s 8d”, which works out at just
under 8½d each. This price accords well with the
gloves appearing in the 1642 inventory of William Mackerrell, a chapman, who
had 99 pairs of gloves in stock worth less than £1 10s 0d. (11) There is a further order in the accounts
for 43 pairs at £2 4s 0d. The larger order is for “the young ladies” and the
smaller for the “young ladies and Lord John.” Two dozen are ordered for 22s, and
a further five orders do not mention the quantities involved. This means that at the very least 150 pairs
of gloves were ordered over the course of a year for the seven children. There is no indication of what material they
are made from, the inclination is to say they must be leather, but knitted
gloves are certainly around at this time, as in this example in the Museum of London. Patterns taken from a pair of surviving linen
gloves and a pair of surviving leather gloves show that the style and
construction are very similar. (8)
Boothose have already been mentioned,
but both linen and worsted stockings also appear in the accounts. For Lord John
4 pair of linen stockings cost 10s and 2 pair of worsted 3s 6d. A pair of linen
stockings from this period survives, they are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and have a very subtle silk
decoration at the ankle and back seam. A single pair of stockings for Lord
Robert cost 5s 6d. Surprisingly no stockings were bought for the young ladies,
so their provision may have come from another account, or out of the monies
they received personally.
Boots and shoes
There are eleven orders for shoes and
boots, again the numbers are rarely mentioned but Lady Francis received in one
order 12 pairs of shoes for 34s 8d and her sister Lady Mary 11 pairs of shoes
for 25s 4d. The young lords receive boots rather than shoes, and their father
is seen receiving boots on three occasions, two pair of boots for 35s, a pair
of boots and a pair of shoes for 25s, and five pairs of boots for £6. Lord
Harry received a pair of waxed boots for 18s 6d. With the accounts for boot
hose it is to be assumed that at least some of these boots where of the “bucket
top” variety, as seen here being worn by William’s brother in law, the Earl of Essex.
The total may seem to be high but the LeStrange accounts for the period
1610-1625 for a slightly smaller, slightly less wealthy family show an average
of 23 pairs of boots and shoes being purchased each year. (11)
Pairs of bodies
A pair of bodies is an item which
later, in the eighteenth century, is referred to as stays, and in the
nineteenth century as a corset. Such garments rarely survive. Janet Arnold wrote
about, and took a pattern from, the 1603 pair that are on Queen Elizabeth I’s
effigy in Westminster Abbey (13), and the pink silk
pair in the Victoria and Albert Museum, that date from 1660-1680, are examined
in North and Tiramani (10). Three pairs of
bodies are purchased in the Hertford accounts. Those bought on two occasions
for Lady Francis cost £3 each, one pair coming from Mr. Hill. The pair bought
for her youngest sister Lady Jane, who was only four, cost 5s 6d and came from
Clement Smith. Jane’s bodies were probably lighter and less boned, more like
the “little fustian bodies” that Elizabeth Hatton wrote in 1670 that her
children wore (14) , though Lady Anne
Clifford remarks of a three year old girl that “the 28th was the
first time the child put on a pair of whalebone bodies.” (15) Bodies are not
bought just for the ladies, Lord Beauchamp also has a pair of bodies costing
£5, though what precisely was meant by this we don’t know.
Mr Gosse is paid for making garments
for the three young ladies, in each case he is paid for providing the canvas
stiffening silk, and for making. The purchase of fabric appears separately. For Lady Francis there are two outfits, a “suit
of black wrought satin”, and a “serged boys suite.” Lady Francis is obviously
still growing as Mr Gosse is also paid 5s 6d
“for taby to make longer the pincke coloured petticoat and for silke.”
Lady Mary also receives two suits, one of which is of wrought satin. The
charges for the two older girls range from 28s 6d to 30s, while their younger
sister, Lady Jane, gets two “coats” at 15s 8d each. The making of the outfits
is listed immediately after the purchase of a considerable amount of fabric.
The colours mentioned are black, grey, sage and scarlet, and the prices range
from 5s the yard for narrow taffeta to 32s the yard for superfine black,
Italian gray and ratteen (ratiné). There is serge in both sage coloured (12
yards) and scarlet “bowdye” (3⅜ yards) which was presumably used for Lady
Francis’s boy’s suit. For her other outfit there is 16 yards of black wrought
satin at 14s the yard. What the other fabrics, which include velvet, sarcenet,
plush and taffeta, were used for we do not know.
There are only two mentions of major
clothing items for the young lords. Clem Smith is paid for making a suit of
Lord John. Lord Robert receives “a cordevant waiscott” that is a cordovan leather
waistcoat, costing 15s. The only other clothes mentioned are not for the
family. Two clerks of the spicery received 9¾ yards of black satin at 15s 6d
the yard for three doublets.
Ribbons and bonelace
Quite a lot of ribbon and bone lace is
purchased without any indication what it is used for. Taffeta ribbon costs
between 2d and 6d the yard, satin ribbon is 10d the yard, while gold and silver
ribbon is 3s the yard. Bobbin lace is more expensive, running from 2s to 15s
the yard. Some cheap edging laces were attached to a letter from Elizabeth
Isham (1609-1654) to her father, these cost only between 2d and 10d a yard, but
were very simple. (16)
|Bosse 1636 Gallerie du Palais Royale|
The sort of items
bought in these accounts are typical of a rich family of the time. It gives a
snapshot, but does not contain all of the clothing that would have been
purchased, though it does include most of the accessories. In London such items
could be purchased at the Royal Exchange, and in Paris at the Palais Royal.
Bosse’s image of the Gallerie du Palais Royale gives an inkling of what was
available, and many items equating to those appearing in these accounts can be
seen. Time to play I –spy.
1. Morgan, F. C. Private purse accounts of the
Marquis of Hertford, Michaelmas 1641-2. Antiquaries Journal. 1945, Vol.
2. Cunnington, C. W.
and P. Handbook of English costume in the seventeenth century. 3rd ed. London :
3. Smith, David L.
Seymour, William, first marquess of Hertford and second duke of Somerset
(1587–1660). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/25182]. Oxford : Oxford
University Press, 2009.
4. Sources include the
Dictionary of National Biography, and Debrett’s Peerage.
5. Oxford English
Dictionary. ell. OED Online. [Online] Oxford University Press, 2014.
[Cited: 06 January 2014.]
6. Pepys, S.
Diary 16th June 1664. [Online] [Cited: 8th January 2014.] http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1664/06/16/.
7. Cunnington, C. W.
and P. The history of underclothes. London : Michael Joseph,
8. North, S. and
Tiramani, J eds. Seventeenth century women's dress patterns, book 1. London :
Victoria and Albert Museum, 2011.
9. Oxford English
Dictionary. tiffany. OED Online. [Online] 09 January 2014.
10. North, S. and
Tiramani, J. eds. Seventeenth century women's dress patterns, book 2. London :
Victoria and Albert Museum, 2012.
11. Spufford, M.
The great reclothing of rural England: petty chapmen and their wares in the
seventeenth century. London : Hambledon Press, 1984.
12. Whittle, J and
Griffiths, E. Consumption and gender in the early seventeenth century
household: the world of Alice Le Strange. . Oxford : O.U.P., 2012.
13. Arnold, J.
The "pair of straight bodies" and "a pair of drawers"
dating from 1603 which clothe the effigy of Queen Elizabeth I in Westminster
Abbey. Costume. 2007, Vol. 41, 1-10.
14. Buck, A. Clothes
and the child. Carlton : Ruth Bean, 1996.
15. Cunnington, P
and Buck, A. Children's costume in England 1300-1900. London :
16. Levey, Santina.
Lace: a history. London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983.