A while back, to satisfy a question I had, I had someone transcribe Jasper Tudor’s will for me. (There’s an abstract of it in Testamenta Vetusta, but I wanted the whole thing.) Jasper died on December 21, 1495, at around age sixty-four.
Jasper starts his will, dated December 15, 1495, and given at his manor of Thornbury, by bequeathing his “soul to almighty God to our blessed lady his mother the Virgin Mary and to all saints.” Most of the rest is concerned with monetary bequests to religious houses and provisions for the welfare of his own soul, those of his parents, and that of his brother Edmund. (The transcriber supplied me both transcriptions in the original spelling and in modern English. In the modern English version, Jasper asks that land be amortised “for the finding of 4 priests to sin perpetually.” I was disappointed to find out that this was a typo by the transcriber and that the priests were to sing perpetually. The former request sounds like a lot more fun, and lends itself to considerable creativity.)
A number of religious houses received rich garments from Jasper. His chosen burial place, Keynsham Abbey, received his best gown of cloth of gold, which was to be made into vestments “to the honour of God and his blessed mother.” The monastery of St. Kenelme of Winchcombe received a gown of crimson velvet for a cope. The church of Thornbury got a black velvet gown for the same purpose. A second gown of cloth of gold was given to the Grey Friars of Haverford, where Owen Tudor was buried, for a cope or vestments. Another black velvet gown went to the church of Pembroke for a cope. Jasper left the Blessed Trinity of Crichurch (the Priory of Holy Trinity in London) a jacket of cloth of gold, which was to be used to make two jackets. (Did Jasper’s jacket contain a lot of excess fabric, or had Jasper grown a trifle plump following his return from his long exile?)
Jasper left his household servants a year’s wages and asked that his household be kept from the day of his death until the following Easter. The land that Jasper held in fee simple was to be retained for 20 years for the payment of his debts and the satisfaction of his will, after which it was to go to Jasper’s nephew, King Henry VII, “and to his heirs kings of England forever.” Jasper also asked that Henry see the will executed “for my old since devotion to his Grace.” He appointed the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, Giles, Lord Dawbeny, Dr. Owen Poole, Richard Newton, John Browne, and Morgan Kydwelly as his executors. When the will was probated on July 2, 1496, Dawbeny and Kydwelly were appointed the executors.
The reason I requested a transcript of the will was to determine whether the online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography was correct in saying that Jasper failed to mention his wife, Katherine, in his will. (Katherine, for those of you don’t follow this blog breathlessly, was the former Katherine Woodville, sister to Queen Elizabeth Woodville and widow of the executed Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. She married Jasper after the Battle of Bosworth.) To my delight, Katherine, who had wealth of her own thanks to her jointure from Buckingham, did indeed get a mention in Jasper’s will, albeit of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it variety. Jasper placed the residue of his goods in the hands of his executors and asked that “my Lady my wife and all other persons have such dues as shall be thought to them appertaining by right law and conscience.”
It’s interesting, though, to note that Katherine was not made one of husband’s executors. Perhaps she was a bit of a ditz regarding business affairs, for Carol Rawcliffe, noting her son Edward’s meticulous record-keeping, described her as “rather negligent over the care and custody of her muniments.” In any event, Jasper was probably wise in omitting his widow from the list of executors, for just two months after Jasper’s death, Katherine showed that she had other things on her mind: she married, without royal license, Richard Wingfield, a young man probably about twelve years Katherine’s junior.