What happened to the daughter of Thomas Paycocke?
For many years we have told the story of Thomas Paycocke and his house here in Coggeshall, Essex. However, with the advent last year of 500 years since his death, a few of our volunteers decided to investigate further into the mystery of what had happened to his only child; a daughter. The following explains the fascinating story which unfolded...
Intricacies of Tudor Inheritance
Thomas Paycocke, the wealthy cloth merchant who built Paycocke’s House, died in 1518 shortly after writing his will. In the will, he reveals that his second wife, Anne Cotton is “with child” – she is expecting his heir. He makes financial provision in his will for the child, but the house and business will only be inherited if the child is male and survives to adulthood. Several months after Thomas Paycocke dies, his child is born – and it is a girl.
Visitors to the house have been intrigued by this story and by the fate of the child. Until now we have known very little, but recent research has revealed some astonishing facts, not only about the child and what became of her but also about the daughter of her second marriage. Following this trail has involved transcribing Tudor wills and court documents, visiting ancient churches and tracking down manor houses.
What did we discover?
Paycocke’s daughter, Anne, married three times bearing a total of eight children, the last when she was already in her late thirties. Her first husband was William Butler, a cloth merchant from Bedfordshire whose father had been Lord Mayor of London. Perhaps Thomas Paycocke had met the family on his trips to London. After William Butler’s death, Anne took a second husband, Thomas Godwine, who had made a fortune buying and selling church lands in Devon after the dissolution of the monasteries. He also owned a house in London which is where they lived.
With Thomas' Grandaughter, the saga continues...
Their only daughter, Anne Godwine, was nine when her father died. Her story is in many ways more interesting than her mother’s. As an heiress of former church land she was a ward of the Crown under an arrangement known as Knight’s Service. By the age of fourteen she had agreed to a marriage contract with the son of a Suffolk landowner. By nineteen she had borne a daughter but was accused of adultery by her husband who applied to the courts for a legal separation. Further court proceedings were needed to separate the lands and property of the families.
After such a setback, could Anne hope for a prosperous future? In fact, after the death of her first husband freed her to marry again, she went on to marry the grandson of William Stumpe of Malmesbury, one of the wealthiest clothiers in England, whose granddaughters were to marry the Earls of Lincoln, Suffolk and Rutland. Anne Godwine’s home was to be the Abbey House in Malmesbury, and, after her death, a memorial to her memory was erected in Malmesbury Abbey by one of her daughters.