Monumental Brass Society

William and George Dalison

Date of Brass:
Place:
Laughton
County:
Lincolnshire
Country:
Number:
I
Style:

Description

January 2022

In the church of All Saints at Laughton, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, is the brass of a man in the armour of the early part of the fifteenth-century. It lies on a tomb-chest of the middle of the following century and the original foot inscription has been replaced by a larger one commemorating not one but two men of the Dalison family. It has been suggested that it originally represented an earlier member of the that family but is more likely to have commemorated someone else entirely. A date in the 1550s for the appropriation points heavily to this.

In 1546 William Dalison died, followed only three years later by his eldest son and heir, George, named after his maternal grandfather Sir George Wastneys. George was survived by his infant son. George’s brother William obtained the wardship of his young nephew. It was this William who provided the monument for his father and brother, as an incised inscription dated 1556 in Latin on the side of the tomb chest makes clear. This William was an able lawyer and was made a judge, as the incised inscription tells us. He died in 1559 and was buried in Lincoln cathedral but his will had given his executors a choice of burial place, either Lincoln or Laughton, the latter specifically to be near his father and brother. He was not one of Edward VI’s commissioners for the sale of church goods in Lincolnshire but would have been well acquainted with them. The tomb chest was newly produced and has shields with the arms of both William Dalisons, the father’s impaling Wastneys and the son’s Dighton for their respective marriages. The profiles of the long edges of the cover slab suggest that the chamfers were added to what had been a plain slab.

The parts of the original brass to survive are the effigy of a man in armour under a triple canopy. It has evidently been relaid as it lacks indents for the cross piece of the sword and for the missing crocket on the central canopy. The uprights either side of the central canopy may have been more complete at the time of the relaying as there are rivets above each. What is conspicuously lacking is any heraldry. Surely there would have been at least one shield and more probably two. The deliberate omission is clearly the sign of appropriation of another family’s brass. There is a shield on the pommel of the sword but any heraldry on it has gone. Possible references to the heraldry of the person originally commemorated are the two six-pointed stars (estoiles) in the side canopies. Although there is no difference in the colour of the metal, the lower part of right-hand side shaft of the canopy is a copy of the corresponding one on the left-hand side, even to the cut out at the base to take the inscription. It should have been its mirror image. Was this a mistake by the original engraver or a restorer mistakenly not turning over the pattern taken from the other side to replace a missing element?

The brass is an important example of a product of a Lincolnshire workshop termed Fens Series 1 by Sally Badham, whose 1979 publication Brasses from the North East contains her early research into the workshop, since complemented by her work on incised slabs also emanating from the same source (‘The Fens I Series: An Early Fifteenth-Century Group of Monumental Brasses and Incised Slabs’, JBAA cxlii (1989), 46-62). The presence of a man called Richard Marbeler in Boston, evidenced by proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas in Trinity term 1415 and Easter term 1416, the latter confirming that his occupation was a marbler, provides the identity of the master of this workshop. He seems to have established it late in the first decade of the fifteenth-century in the immediate aftermath of the death of the London marbler John Mapilton, between February 1406/7 and August 1407. Mapilton ran the workshop producing the London C series of brasses and by his will sold his tenement in the parish of St Dunstan in the West, Fleet Street and his stock of marble stones in order to maintain a chantry in the church of the Carmelite Friars. As the early brasses from the Fens 1 workshop are very similar to London C products, it seems likely that Richard Marbeler was involved in producing the latter and was able to acquire patterns when the workshop finished. The distribution of brasses from the Boston workshop are to churches around the Wash, the Lincolnshire and Norfolk coasts. Laughton, although close to the River Trent, does not really fit this pattern and is geographically isolated from the workshop’s other brasses in Lincolnshire churches, suggesting it was acquired during Edward VI’s suppression of colleges and chantries, which was ongoing at the time of George Dalison’s death and only halted by the death of Edward VI himself.

 

Copyright: Jon Bayliss

Type

January 2022

In the church of All Saints at Laughton, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, is the brass of a man in the armour of the early part of the fifteenth-century. It lies on a tomb-chest of the middle of the following century and the original foot inscription has been replaced by a larger one commemorating not one but two men of the Dalison family. It has been suggested that it originally represented an earlier member of the that family but is more likely to have commemorated someone else entirely. A date in the 1550s for the appropriation points heavily to this.

In 1546 William Dalison died, followed only three years later by his eldest son and heir, George, named after his maternal grandfather Sir George Wastneys. George was survived by his infant son. George’s brother William obtained the wardship of his young nephew. It was this William who provided the monument for his father and brother, as an incised inscription dated 1556 in Latin on the side of the tomb chest makes clear. This William was an able lawyer and was made a judge, as the incised inscription tells us. He died in 1559 and was buried in Lincoln cathedral but his will had given his executors a choice of burial place, either Lincoln or Laughton, the latter specifically to be near his father and brother. He was not one of Edward VI’s commissioners for the sale of church goods in Lincolnshire but would have been well acquainted with them. The tomb chest was newly produced and has shields with the arms of both William Dalisons, the father’s impaling Wastneys and the son’s Dighton for their respective marriages. The profiles of the long edges of the cover slab suggest that the chamfers were added to what had been a plain slab.

The parts of the original brass to survive are the effigy of a man in armour under a triple canopy. It has evidently been relaid as it lacks indents for the cross piece of the sword and for the missing crocket on the central canopy. The uprights either side of the central canopy may have been more complete at the time of the relaying as there are rivets above each. What is conspicuously lacking is any heraldry. Surely there would have been at least one shield and more probably two. The deliberate omission is clearly the sign of appropriation of another family’s brass. There is a shield on the pommel of the sword but any heraldry on it has gone. Possible references to the heraldry of the person originally commemorated are the two six-pointed stars (estoiles) in the side canopies. Although there is no difference in the colour of the metal, the lower part of right-hand side shaft of the canopy is a copy of the corresponding one on the left-hand side, even to the cut out at the base to take the inscription. It should have been its mirror image. Was this a mistake by the original engraver or a restorer mistakenly not turning over the pattern taken from the other side to replace a missing element?

The brass is an important example of a product of a Lincolnshire workshop termed Fens Series 1 by Sally Badham, whose 1979 publication Brasses from the North East contains her early research into the workshop, since complemented by her work on incised slabs also emanating from the same source (‘The Fens I Series: An Early Fifteenth-Century Group of Monumental Brasses and Incised Slabs’, JBAA cxlii (1989), 46-62). The presence of a man called Richard Marbeler in Boston, evidenced by proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas in Trinity term 1415 and Easter term 1416, the latter confirming that his occupation was a marbler, provides the identity of the master of this workshop. He seems to have established it late in the first decade of the fifteenth-century in the immediate aftermath of the death of the London marbler John Mapilton, between February 1406/7 and August 1407. Mapilton ran the workshop producing the London C series of brasses and by his will sold his tenement in the parish of St Dunstan in the West, Fleet Street and his stock of marble stones in order to maintain a chantry in the church of the Carmelite Friars. As the early brasses from the Fens 1 workshop are very similar to London C products, it seems likely that Richard Marbeler was involved in producing the latter and was able to acquire patterns when the workshop finished. The distribution of brasses from the Boston workshop are to churches around the Wash, the Lincolnshire and Norfolk coasts. Laughton, although close to the River Trent, does not really fit this pattern and is geographically isolated from the workshop’s other brasses in Lincolnshire churches, suggesting it was acquired during Edward VI’s suppression of colleges and chantries, which was ongoing at the time of George Dalison’s death and only halted by the death of Edward VI himself.

 

Copyright: Jon Bayliss

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