Sir Ralph Pudsay, his third wife Edwina & his son William
- Date of Brass:
The brass this month is affixed in a most unusual position.
The church of Bolton-by-Bowland (Yorkshire) boasts a large and imposing octagonal font of Egglestone marble. There are a number of such fonts in Yorkshire and Durham in particular, but this one is distinctive due to the inscription engraved on pairs of brass strips on four of the concave panels of the bowl.
The inscriptions run from the southernmost panel to the northernmost in sequential order. They read ‘Orate p[ro] a[n]i[m]ab[u]s / d[omin]i Radul / phi Pudsay / milit[is] & de / Edinie uxor[is] / euis ac d[omi]ni / W[i]li Pudsay / filij ea[rum] (for eorum) co[n]d[am] (for quondam) rec/tor[is] hui[us] eccl[es]ie (Pray for the souls of Ralph Pudsay knight and of Edwina his wife and Sir William their son once rector of this church). William was the second son of the much married Sir Ralph Pudsay (d. 1468) by his second wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Tubstall of Thurland Castle and of Soargill near Leeds. Edwina, referred to in the inscription was Sir Ralph’s third wife, by whom he had 17 children. Sir Ralph and his family are commemorated by a low relief slab in the church, also carved from Egglestone marble. William is shown in academic dress on the incised slab to his father in the top line of the children, 3rd from the right
William Pudsay, who was appointed to the living of Bolton-by-Bowland by his father in 1448, where he remained until his death in 1507. He also held the living of the church of Croft-on-Tees in the North Riding; he is recorded there between 1465 and 1482. In 1472, when he was recorded as receiving the King’s pardon for an unnamed offence, he is named as ‘William Puddyssay, parson of the parish of Crofte, Co. York, alias Willliam Pudsey, parson of the parish church of Bolton in Craven, Co. York’. Most of the references to him in the public records concern a long-running dispute over a debt of 8 ½ marks William owed to George, Archbishop of York and Master of the Hospital of St Leonard. William was proceeded against from court to court, but failed to appear; in consequence he was outlawed in June 1466, only surrendering himself to the court in 1482 when he was committed to the Fleet prison. The King ordered an enquiry into his case, the result of which does not appear.
The font has carved arms on each of the eight sides, which were undoubtedly originally coloured, making this a most eye-catching furnishing. The arms of Pudsay, vert, a chevron between three mullets pierced gold, faces east towards the altar. Following clockwise are:
1. Bank, silver a cross gold between 4 fleur-de-lis gold, for the marriage of Emily Pudsay, youngest daughter of Sir Ralph’s heir, Sir John Pudsay, to John or Thomas Bank of Bank Newton. The date of the marriage is unknown.
2. Pudsay impaled with Tunstall, sable 3 combs silver. This is for Sir Ralph’s marriage to his second wife, Margaret, the mother of William Pudsay, rector of Bolton-by-Bowland, who is also mentioned in the inscription.
3. Percy, gold a lion rampant azure, for the original feudal overlords of Craven.
4.Clifford, checky azure and gold a fesse gules, for the second marriage of Florence Pudsay, daughter of Henry Pudsay, the son and heir of Sir John Pudsay, to Henry, 10th Lord Clifford (d. 1523). This marriage took place after c. 1506 when Lord Clifford’s first wife, Anne de St. John, died, but before 11 July 1511.
5. Tempest, silver a bend between 6 martlets sable, for the marriage of Henry Pudsay, the second son of Henry Pudsay, the son and heir of Sir John Pudsay, to Margaret, daughter of Roger Tempest of Broughton. This marriage took place before 1514.
6. Hammerton, silver 3 hammers sable, for the marriage of Sir Ralph’s heir, Sir John Pudsay (d. 1492), to Grace, daughter of Laurence Hammerton.
7. Pudsay quartered with Layton, silver a fess between 6 cross crosslets fitchée sable, for the marriage c. 1353 of Sir Ralph’s grandfather, Henry Pudsay, to Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John de Layton.
The heraldry provides a good guide as to when the font was made and by whom it was commissioned. The inscriptions on the font do not give dates of death for any of the three members of the Pudsay family who were commemorated. It might, therefore, be thought that it could have been commissioned by William Pudsay, rector of Bolton-by-Bowland, in his own lifetime. However, the inclusion of the arms of Clifford demonstrates that it could not have been made before c. 1506, when the marriage allaying this family to the Pudsays took place.
William’s brother, Sir John Pudsay, had died in 1492 and it is thus to the next generation that we must look for the patron who commissioned the font. Although two of the shields display William’s descent, far more reflect the descent of Henry Pudsay, heir to Sir John Pudsay, and of the marriages of his siblings and children. Curiously Henry’s own marriage to Margaret, daughter of Christopher Conyers of Hornby, is not featured, nor are the arms of Edwina, Ralph Pudsay’s widow shown, even though she is one of the three family members commemorated in the inscription. It might also be thought odd that there are no arms to denote the marriage of Henry’s heir, Thomas Pudsay, to Margaret, the daughter and coheir of Sir Roger Pilkington; the likely explanation for this is that the font was made before this marriage took place in 1517. These arms and the events they record thus indicate that the font and the brass inscriptions on it were made between 1507 and 1517, but it is most likely that it was made soon after William’s death in 1507.
Copyright: Sally Badham
S. Badham and J.G. Blacker, Northern Rock: the Use of Egglestone marble for Monuments in Medieval England, British Archaeological Reports 480 (Archaeopress, Oxford, 2009)
R. Pudsay Littledale (ed.), The Pudsay Deeds. The Pudsays of Bolton and Barforth and their Predecessors in those Manors, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 56 (Leeds, 1916)
T.D. Whitaker, The History and Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven: in the County of York, (London, 1805)
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