- Date of Brass:
This month’s brass demonstrates the difficulties involved with identifying exact family relationships in the days before parish registers, especially at the level of esquires and below.
The church of St Mary, Chartham, Kent, is known for the excellent early brass representing Sir Robert de Septvans, one of the cross-legged knights of the first half of the fourteenth century. However it has other brasses too. Sir Robert’s figure lies in the north transept, his head to the north and feet to the south, an obvious repositioning at odds with the east-west axis along which it would originally have been laid. Immediately south are the brasses of Robert London, rector, died 1416, and Jane Eveas, died 1530, both sharing their orientation with Sir Robert’s figure and in cut-down slabs.
Jane Eveas' inscription names her as the ‘dowtter of lewys clefforht squyuur'. The inscription is quite well lettered, but the names suggest the engraver was relying either on his own spelling or that of the person who commissioned it.
The late Peter Heseltine’s self-published Heraldry on Brasses (1994) described the heraldry of the shield above Jane’s head as Evens: Sable a fess between three cinquefoils argent impaling Clifford: Chequy or and azure a fess gules and a bordure also gules. The latter arms relate to the Clifford family, earls of Cumberland after Henry VIII gave Sir Henry Clifford the earldom in 1525. The bordure differentiates Lewys’s arms from those of the earl.
The earls of Cumberland and the Cliffords of Bobbing in Kent were both descended from Roger Clifford, 5th Baron Clifford. Lewys Clifford, Jane’s father, inherited a share, along with his five younger brothers, of the manors of Shorne, Sutton Valence and Trascis from his father Alexander in 1494 at the age of 41. He was Sheriff of Kent in 13 Henry VII (1497-8). He married Mildred, daughter of Bartholomew Bourne, following the death in 1488 of her previous husband John Evias the elder. The marriage took place before 1494, when it was recorded that Lewys was to have the manor of Trascis on the death of his wife Mildred.
John Evias the elder, who died in 1488, and his wife Mildred have a brass at Murston in Kent. This has only Bourne heraldry on the four shields. Their heir was their son Alexander, aged 17. His parents’ brass shows two other sons, so it seems likely that Alexander's brothers had predeceased him. He died in 1511-12.
Jane Clifford seems to have been the wife of John Evias (or Eveas) the younger. (There seems to have been only one other John Evias after the death of John Evias the elder.) If so, her husband was more than twenty years her senior. Like his contemporary John Paston, John Evias the younger shared his forename with his older brother. Along with another brother, Thomas, both were named in the will made on 12 April 1478 will of their mother Theobald, widow of Humphrey Evias, who had died in 1453-4. John the younger had a son named Humphrey who probably died in 1540-1 (although another Humphrey Evias of Kent died in 1545-6), perhaps the offspring of a previous wife rather than Jane’s son. It is strange that John is not mentioned on Jane’s brass.
Jane Evias’s brass belongs to a group of minor brasses in Kent thought to have been made in Canterbury in the years running up to and slightly past the beginning of the Reformation. Mill Stephenson termed these brasses ‘local’ (though some may simply be poor London work). The brass at Murston commemorating John Evias the elder and Mildred is London work of a reasonable standard, but that of his younger brother’s wife is not as well designed, as might be expected from such a minor workshop.
Copyright: Jon Bayliss (text and photos)
Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem and Other Analogous Documents, Henry VII, vol. 1 (1898), item 996: Alexander Clyfford
Vol 3 (1915), item 927: Mildred Cyfford
Patricia Hyde, Thomas Arden in Faversham: The Man Behind the Myth (1996), 399-401, gives a much fuller transcript of Theobald Evias’s will than that previously published in Testamenta Vetusta.
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