Monumental Brass Society

John Newdegate

Date of Brass:
London G


May 2021

The brass of John and Anne Newdegate has been discussed in print by the society's then president, Dr H K Cameron in the early 1960s and more recently by Robert Hutchinson and Bryan Egan. It is situated on the south wall of the chancel at Harefield. The accompanying photographs were taken when the MBS visited the church in March 2010. As they show, the brass is on the back wall of a canopied Purbeck marble monument that also has a chest with shields set in lozenges. On the top of the chest is an indent for a shroud brass. It is clear from the latter and traces of a larger inscription plate formerly on the back panel that this is an appropriated monument re-used for the Newdegates but relatively new at the time of the Reformation. Did John Newdegate acquire it from a dissolved monastery for himself in the second half of the 1530s?

The Newdegate family had acquired the manor of Harefield following the marriage of an earlier John Newdegate, a second son, to the heiress Joanna de Swanland in 1327. Although this John was knighted by Edward III none his successors at Harefield merited this recognition again until the end of the sixteenth-century. Indeed, few of them were commemorated by brasses at Harefield. John's father, a sergeant at law and also called John, died in 1528 and is pictured in his legal robes on his own brass there with his wife Amphelice. She died less than a year before John and the date was added to his parents' inscription. Perhaps this was done at the time John's brass was installed, presumably around 1546. Both are shon in the costume of the period. Cameron noted that his figure had different characteristics to his wife and Hutchinson and Egan identified this as marking the change in the running of a monumental brass workshop, placing John's figure as belonging to the London G Gyfford style and Anne's as in the succeeding Fermer style. Cameron's observation that the desks before which the figures kneel differ markedly is one that aids stylistic analysis. Both figures appear to be on re-used thick plate at the back edges of which indications that the backs are engraved but the backs of their brasses have yet to be examined. John figure has the figures of seven sons, one with his head missing. His eldest son, John, succeeded him and was later an MP for Middlesex. His other surviving sons, named in his will, made the day before his death on 19 June, Thomas, Francis, Nicholas, Robert, Anthony, and George. The latter was a monk at the Benedictine Abbey at Chertsey. He may later have become a chantry priest at Cogenhoe, Northamptonshire, where a priest of that name was aged 38 in 1548. The will mentions a daughter, Gardyner, the wife of William Gardyner of Grove. His family were evidently around him as he died, for John, Nicholas, George and Robert were witnesses along with his cousin Richard Newdegate and others. His will was proved on 29 January 1545/6. Cameron mentioned the baptism of a George, son of John Newdegate, in the parish register in October 1545 but, as it is evident that John's eldest son John was over the age of twenty-one by 1543, when he and his father obtained the advowson of the church, this is most likely the younger John's offspring. However, the younger John was survived only by one son, another John.

The inscription of the brass reads:

Off yor charite pray for the Soules of John Newdegate Esquyer & Anne

his wyff ye whiche John decessyd the xixth day of June in the yere of or lorde

God a Thousand fyve hunbred fourtie & fyve and the said Anne decessyd ye

day of in the yere of or Lorde God a Thousand fyve hundred

On whose Soules and all Christen Soules Jhu have mercy Amen

Although there are indents for scrolls leading from the mouths of the couple, it may be these were associated with the brass that previously occupied this stone.


Copyright: Jon Bayliss



H K Cameron, 'The Brasses of Middlesex', Part XII, Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archeological Society, Vol 21, part 2 (1865), 103-4

Robert Hutchinson and Bryan Egan,'History Writ in Brass - the Fermer Workshop', Part II(i), TMBS, vol XV, Part 3 (1994), 256-60


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