Some Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VII

In my gambling post, I mentioned some of Henry VII’s expenses for gambling. Here are some more of his expenses. They give a rather broader view of Henry than that of the miserable miser:

To a fello with a berde a spye in rewarde, £1.

To Carter for writing of a boke, 7s. 4d.

To one that brought the King a lyon in rewarde, £2. 13s. 4d.

To my Lady [of] York mynstrels in rewarde, £1.
[This lady was Cecily, Duchess of York]

To the childe that playeth on the records, £1.

To bere drunken at a fermors house, \s.

To the folysshe Duke of Lancastre, 3s. 4d.
[This was for a fool nicknamed the Duke of Lancaster]

To the children for singing in the gardyn, 3,y. 4d.

10. To a woman for a neste of leveretes, 3*\ 4d.

To one that brought the King a fresh stirgeon, 13s. 4d.

To Grifhth Aprice, a man with a berde, 6s. 8d.

To the making of the bonefuyr on Middesomer eve, lOs.

To a woman that presented the King with cheryse and strawburyers in rewarde, ls. 8d.

To Savage wiffe for a partrich neste, 6s. 8d.

For burying of a man that was slayn in my Lady Grey
chamber, 6s. 8d.
[I would love to know the story behind this one.]

To three string mynstrels for their wags, £5.

For new furnishing casting and reparing of the round organes, £7-

To an Italian, a poete, £20.

To a Walshe man that maketh rymes, 6s. 8d.

To Mutis for a glistning stone, 13s. 4d.

Delivered to the Quenes grace for juels, £31. l0s.

To a woman for aqua vite, 5s.

To Sir Edward Wingfieldfor finding ij hares aboutes Master Vaux place, 6s. 8d.

To a mayden for presenting floures, 1s.

To a woman for a rede rosse, 2s.

To Mastres Brente for a forke of silver, pois iij oz. 12s.

To a felow for eting of coles, 6s. 8d.

To John Sudborough for a songe, £1.

To Ruge Dragon for crabbes and creves, 13.s\ 4d.

To the Quenes grace for the disguysing, 10s-
To a mariner that brought an eagle, 6s. 8d.

To one that brought haukes from the Newfounded Island, £1.

To Clays goying to Richemount with wylde catts and popyngays of the Newfound Island for his costs, 13s. 4d.

To Portyngales that brought popyngais and catts of the mountaigne with other stuf to the Kinges grace, £5.

More expenses (which include grimmer expenditures like those for the burying of the Earl of Warwick) can be found in Excerpta Historica, edited by Samuel Bentley. It’s on the Internet Archive and Google Books.

Speaking of works available in the public domain, I’ve added a section to my website featuring letters written by some of the historical figures in my novels. I’ll be adding regularly to the collection, which is taken from books that have gone out of copyright. So far, I’ve got letters from William de la Pole, Margaret of Anjou, and Margaret Beaufort up there, and will be adding more, including letters from Richard III and Henry VII to their respective mums.

8 thoughts on “Some Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VII”

  1. Fascinating! I've read about the 'eating coal' one before, which is so funny and gives such a different impression of Henry VII! Does 'berde' mean bird or beard, by the way?

  2. Susan Higginbotham

    Good question! I think "berde" means "bird," because there's a payment to a "Scottish boy with the beard."

    I wonder what coal tastes like?

  3. I don't know whether you've read Arlene's book on 'Elizabeth of York' yet but there's plenty mention of H7's expenses much of which I picked up on in a fascinating book entitled ' The Early Tudors at Home' by Elizabeth Burton in the section 'Of Pleasure and Pastimes'

    Ms Burton feels that H7 has been unfairly maligned by allegations that he mistreated his wife and provides some quite interesting items to suggest otherwise.

    The section 'Of Food and Drink' begins with a detailed description of the magnificent banquet he provided for his wife's coronation. There is also an item again in 'Of Pleasures and Pastimes' that relates to the special five-part anthem ‘O Maria et Elizabeth’ composed by a guy called Gilbert Banestre especially for EOY for the occasion of the wedding. The same event saw the first recorded use of fireworks for a Royal occasion and again fireworks were part of EOY’s coronation celebration including ‘a dragon that spewed out fire into the Thames’.

    There’s another endearing piece in the section ‘Of Gardens and how they grew’ that relates to the money H7 paid out on to one Henry Smith for erecting an arbour for EOY in the gardens of Windsor Castle. All in all hardly suggests either a miserly or unloving husband.

    It ‘s a fascinating book only some 300 pages yet throws some interesting light on the pre-Elizabethan Tudors including ‘Bloody Mary’ who it turns out was not only an talented musician but supported musicians at her court as well and was also something of a talented linguist. Yet where does one find that in the ‘official’ histories of Mary 1 all about the gloomy doom-laden monarch famed for her executions of Protestants but actually executed less people than either her father or sister? Perhaps it’s time she was added to Alianore’s support group for distressed gentlefolk.

    There was, however, something I picked up on which Ms Burton seemed to have missed and again it was because of something personal to me. On 12th February 1496 Henry VII ‘paid 6s 8d to a Portingale’ for oringes’. Portingale means ‘imported from Portugal’ and oringes a well known citrus fruit that we take for granted these days but fairly rare then and hideously expensive – the cost is far more than that paid for Master Smith’s labour or the cost of a chair or table.

    I latched onto it because it so happens my birthday is 12th February and then I remembered that EOY’s birthday was 11th February and that in 1496 it would have been her thirtieth so I’m treating this item as an extra special birthday present. I’m sure that Neddy, Maggie, Izzy and Co wouldn’t cavil about that!

    By the way does your compendium of Margaret of Anjou include William Cotton’s ‘The Household of Margaret of Anjou’ – he was her Receiver General – or ‘Letters of Queen Margaret and Bishop Beckington – Bishop Stillington’s predecessor no less – and others written in the reigns of Henry V and VI’ edited by Cecil Munro which latter is available on Amazon?

    That reminds me I have not yet taken a look at Betty King’s ‘The Lord Jasper’(Tudor) one of QM’s reported beaux and may have been the earthly version of Henry VI’s ‘Holy Ghost – ’BK also has a book on QM – she’s something of a Beaufort expert -or those works on QM by French historians. I’m particularly fascinated by Michel Baudier’s “ History of the memorable and extraordinary calamities of Margaret of Anjou ‘ – sounds like it could be a sympathetic take. I shall remedy the omission when I drop into the BL later this week.

    Incidentally both you and Alianore might care to take a look at Amazon UK historical fiction forum ‘Am I the only one to cringe at PC historical fiction?’

    Finally it seems Ashmodai, Marie Burton and I have two other things in common besides being women – we’re all three Aquarians and born in the Year of the Ox. An astrological twist on the saying ‘Great minds think alike’?

  4. Susan Higginbotham

    Thanks, Trish! I found the Elizabeth Burton book cheap on Amazon and promptly ordered it. I enjoyed Arlene Okerlund's book on Elizabeth of York too–great to have all that information in one place!

    I have the Betty King book on Margaret of Anjou and have seen the Jasper book as well. Won't say anything about the Jasper book in the way of spoilers, though!

    For the Household of Margaret of Anjou, do you meant the records that have been published by Myers?

    You might want to check out Linda Porter's new biography of Mary.

  5. To an Italian, a poete, £20.

    Well, that's more than most writers get these days, lol, if you account for the different value of money

  6. Yes the Household Book is edited by A R Myers. If you know about Jasper already I’ll give him a miss as he’s only a minor character – bet you can’t guess who isn’t – my jealously guarded secret!

    I shall wallow instead in Antoine Francois Prevost des Exiles ‘Histoire de Marguerite d’Anjou, Reine d’Angleterre’ and follow that up with F Romani's ‘Margherita d’Anjou’. Always interesting to find out what another country’s take on your national history is!

    Maurer and Laynesmith you know about and I presume Hookham and Strickland too. What about Philippe Erlanger, Chris Corbett, JJ Bagley, Jock Haswell and Keith Dockray?

    Been spending the weekend attending to my somewhat neglected opus. Just finished writing up on an angst-ridden teenage Richard III – Penman/Worth eat your heart out! – and Henry VII who starts out as a precocious and pompous prat/brat until he gets a right ticking off aaaaah but from whom? It’s not Mum that much I will tell you and Henry VI is remarkably sane thanks ironically to being left alone for six years – oh how he curses Warwick who also ends up getting a ticking off from ? for not leaving him in peace. And another who pops up is Dr. Thomas Linacre Royal Physician and Founder of the Royal College of Physicians – first came across him in Burton ‘s book – who starts the story off which ends with my solution to the mysterious death of Margaret Beaufort – mentioned it on Brian’s blog a few months back. I wonder what Dr. David Starkey the H8 specialist will make of that one! Especially as H8not only gets a bad dose of teenage angst but a touch of the Oedipal blues too.

    It seems all the kings from Henry VI to H8 (excl. Ed V) suffered from traumatic childhoods and teenage angst in one form of another – no or absent fathers and maternal deprivation largely for political reasons. No wonder the Plantagenet dynasty went down the pan and the Tudor didn’t last too long either. I suppose these days it would be the social worker and/or the child psychologist and what’s known this side of the pond as ASBOs (Anti Social Behaviour Orders). 🙂

  7. I rather like "the childe that playeth on the records" – conjures up an irrestible image of a sort of medieval DJ 🙂

  8. Some funny entries in there! I, too, wonder at the story behind the man slain in Lady Gray's chamber! Must be a plot bunny hiding in there somewhere!

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