Paston Letters

Margaret Paston to John Paston [1449?]
[Transcribed by John F. Tinkler]

Right worshipful husband, I recommend me to you, and pray you to get some crossbows and windacs to bind them with, and quarrels [bolts]; for your houses here be so low that there may none man shoot out with no long bow, though we had never so much need.

I suppose ye should have such things of Sir John Fastolf if ye would send to him; and also I would ye should get two or three short pole-axes to keep with doors, and as many jacks, and ye may.

Partrich and his fellowship are sore afraid that ye would enter again upon them, and they made great ordinance within the house, as it is told me. They have made bars to bar the doors crosswise, and they have made wickets on every quarter of the house to shoot out at, both with bows and with hand-guns: and the holes that be made for hand-guns, they be scarce knee high from the plancher, and of such holes made five. There can none man shoot out at them with no hand-bows.

Purry fell in fellowship with William Hasard at Quarles's, and told him that he would come and drink with Partrich and with him, and he said he should be welcome. And after noon he went thither for to espy what he did, and what fellowship they had with them; and when he came thither the doors were fast sperred, and there were none folks with them but Mariot, and Capron and his wife, and Quarles's wife, and another man in a black hood somewhat halting; I suppose by his words that it was Norfolk of Gimmingham. And the said Purry espied all these foresaid things.

And Mariot and fellowship had much great language that shall be told you when ye come home.

I pray you that ye will vouchsafe to do buy for one lb. of almonds and one lb. of sugar, and that ye will do buy some frieze to make of your children's gowns, ye shall have best cheap and best choice of Hays's wife as it is told me. And that ye will buy a yard of broad cloth of black for an hood for me of 44d or four shillings a yard, for there is neither good cloth nor good frieze in this town. As for the children's gowns, and I have them, I will do them maken.

The Trinity have you in His keeping, and send you good speed in all your matters.

Paston Letters (Love)
(from English Historical Documents, vol. IV)

707. A love-match in defiance of parents, 1469
(The Paston Letters, ed. J. Gairdner, II, 350, No. 609 [<English>)

The bailiff of the Pastons, Richard Calle, fell in love with Margery Paston, who returned his affection; but the Paston family deemed the connexion to be most undesirable, as Margery would be marrying a social inferior, and when she persisted in this course she was disowned by her mother and brothers. There may have been a partial reconciliation later, for when Margaret died she left L.20 to Margery's eldest son; but Margery herself, unlike her sister Anne, was left nothing (vol. 3, No. 861).

(i) Richard Calle to Margery Paston
My own lady and mistress, and before God very true wife, I recommend myself to you with very sorrowful heart, as one that cannot be merry, nor shall it be until it be otherwise with us then it is yet, for this life that we lead now is a pleasure neither to God nor to the world, considering the great bond of matrimony that is made between us, and also the great love that has been, as I trust, yet is between us, and as was never greater on my part. Wherefore I beseech Almighty God to comfort us as soon as it pleases him, for we who ought of very right to be most together are most asunder; it seems a thousand years ago since I spoke with you. I had rather be with you than have all the goods in the world. Alas, alas! good lady, very little do they think what they do when they keep us thus asunder. . . . But what lady suffers as you have done? Make yourself as cheerful as you can, for I know, lady, that in the end God will in His righteousness help His servants that mean well, and would live according to His laws.
. . . Mistress, I am afraid to write to you, for I understand you have shown my letters that I have sent to you before this time; but I pray to you, let no creature see this letter. As soon as you have read it, let it be burnt, for I would that no man should see it in any way. You had no writing from me these two years, nor will I send you any more, therefore I remit all this matter to your wisdom. Almighty Jesus preserve, keep, and give you your heart's desire, which I know well should be to God's pleasure.
This letter was written with as great pain as ever I wrote anything in my life, for in good faith I have been right ill, and am still not truly well again. God amend it!

(ii) Margaret Paston to Sir John Paston (Ibid, 363, No. 617)
I greet you well, and send you God's blessing and mine, letting you know that last Thursday my mother and I were with my lord bishop of Norwich, and desired him that he would do no more in the matter touching your sister, until you and my brother and sister who were executors to your father might interview together, for they had the rule of her as well as I; and he said plainly that he had been required as often to examine her, that he might not nor would delay it any longer, and charged me, on pain of excommunication, that she should not be deferred, but that she should appear before him the next day. And I said plainly that I would neither bring her nor send her; and then he said that he would send for her himself, and charged that she should be at liberty to come when he sent for her; and he said by his troth that he would be as sorry for her if she did not well as he would have been if she had been right near to his kindred, both for my mother's sake and mine, and other of her friends, for he knew well that her behavior had struck sore at our hearts.
My mother and I informed him that we could never understand by her saying nor by any language she ever had to him, that either of them was bound to the other, but that both of them were free to choose. Then he said that he would speak to her as well as he could, before he examined her; and it was told to me by diverse persons that he did as well and as plainly as if she had been right near to him. . . . The chancellor was not so guilty in this matter as I thought he had been.
On Friday the bishop sent for her by Asschefeld and others that are right sorry about her behaviour. And the bishop spoke to her right plainly, and put her in rememberance of what rank she was born, what kindred and friends she had, and how she should have more if she were ruled and guided by them, and if she did not, what rebuke and shame and loss it should be to her. . . and said that he had heard say that she loved such a one that her friends were not pleased with what she should have, and therefore he. . . said that he would understand the words that she had said to him, whether that made matrimony or not. And she rehearsed what she had said, and said boldly that if those words made it not sure, she would make that sure before she went thence, for she said she thought she was bound in her conscience, whatsoever the words were. These outrageous words grieved me and her grandmother as much as all the rest. And then the bishop and the chancellor both said that neither I nor any friend of hers would receive her.
And then Calle was examined apart by himself, and her words and his agreed, and the time, and where it should have been done. And then the bishop said that he supposed that there might be found other things against him that might cause the prevention thereof; and therefore he said he would not be too hasty to give sentence thereupon and said that he would make a postponement until the Wednesday or Thursday after Michaelmas, and so it is delayed. They would have had her will performed in haste, but the bishop said he would not do otherwise than he had said.
I was with my mother at her place when Margery was examined, and when I heard say what her behaviour was, I charged my servants that she should not be received in my house. . . . I sent to one or two more that they should not receive her if she came. She was brought again to my place to be received; and Sir James (the chaplain) told those who brought her that I had charged them all that she should not be received; and so my lord of Norwich has set her at Roger Best's, to be there till the day beforesaid, as God knows, very much against his will and that of his wife, but they dare not do otherwise. I am sorry that they are encumbered with her. . . I pray you and require that you take it not to heart, for I know that it goes right near your heart, and so it does to mine and to those of others; but remember, and so do I, that we have lost of her but a wanton, and set it less to heart. . . for if he were dead at this hour, she should never be at my heart as she was. I would that you would make enquiry whether any action is being taken in the Court of Canterbury about the wicked matter aforesaid.

Be my olde Valentine: The script dates back to 1477

Unto my ryght welebelovyd Voluntyn, John Paston, Squyer, be this bill delyvered, &c.

Ryght reverent and wurschypfull, and my ryght welebeloved Volutyne, I recomande me unto yowe, ffull hertely desyring to here of yowr welefare, whech I beseche Almyghty God long for to preserve un to Hys plesur, and yowr herts desyre. And yf it please yowe to here of my welefar, I am not in good heele of body, nor of herte, nor schall be tyll I her ffrom yowe;

            For there wottys no creature what peyn that I endure,
            And for to be deede, I dare it not dyscure [discover].

And my lady my moder hath labored the mater to my ffadur full delygently, but sche can no mor gete than ye knowe of, for the whech God knowyth I am full sory. But yf that ye loffe me, as I tryste verely that ye do, ye will not leffe me therefor; for if that ye hade not halfe the lyvelode that ye hafe, for to do the grettest labur that any woman on lyve myght, I wold not forsake yowe.

            And yf ye commande me to kepe me true wherever I go,
            I wyse I will do all my myght yowe to love and never no mo.
            And yf my freends say, that I do amys,
            Thei schal not me let so for to do,
            Myne herte me bydds ever more to love yowe Truly over all erthely thing,
            And yf thei be never so wroth,
            I tryst it schall be better in tyme commying.

No more to yowe at this tyme, but the Holy Trinite hafe yowe in kepyng. And I besech yowe that this bill be not seyn of none erthely creatur safe only your selffe, &c.

And thys letter was indyte at Topcroft, with full hevy herte, &c.

      By your own,

                  Margery Brews.

To my ryght welebelovyd cosyn, John Paston, Swyer, be this letter delyveryd &c.

Ryght wurschypfull and welebelovyd Volentyne, in my most umble wyse, I recommande me un to yowe, &c. And hertely I thanke yowe for the letter whech that ye sende mebe John Bekarton, wherby I undyrstonde and knowe, that ye be purposyd to come to Topcroft in schorte tyme, and withowte any erand or mater, but only to hafe a conclusyon of themater betwyx my fader and yowe; I wolde be most glad of any creatur on lyve, so that the mater myght growe to effect. And ther as ye say, and ye come and fynde the mater no more towards yowe then ye dyd aforetime, ye wold no more put my fader and my lady my moder to no cost ner besenysse, for that cause,, a good wyle aftur, wech causeth myne herte to be full hevy; and yf that ye come, and the mater take to some effecte, then schuld I be meche mor sory and full of hevynesse.

And as for my selfe, I hafe done and undyrstond in the mater that I can or may, as Good knowyth; and I let yowe pleynly undyrstond, that my fader will no more money parte with all in that behalfe, but an C li. And l. marke, whech is ryght far fro the acomplyshment of yowr desyre.

Wherfore, yf that ye cowde be content with that good, and my por persone, I wold be the meryest mayden on grounde; and yf ye thynke not yowr selffe so satysfyed, or that ye hafe mech mor good, as I hafe undyrstonde be yowe afor; good, trewe, and lovyng volentyne, that ye take no such labur uppon yowe, as to come more fo that mater, but let it passe, and never more to be spokyn of, as I may be yowr trewe lover and bedewoman duryng my lyfe.

No more unto yowe at thys tyme, but, Almyghty Jesus preserve yowe, both body and sowle, &c.

Be your Voluntyne,

[The Paston Letters, 1422-1509 A.D., ed. James Gairdner (John Grant: Edinburgh, 1910), vol. iii, pp. 170-2] This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents,including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.