A Suffolk Treasure in California

Published: August 23, 2013



In 2009, we posted a Clog article about an elaborately made manuscript version of a wedding sermon  in our collection.  Last year, history columnist John Blatchly wrote in detail about our manuscript in his weekly column for the East Anglian Daily Times.  This week he sent us a scan of the article and we thought we would share it with you.   (Click on the image to see it at a more readable size; the full text of the article is below)

Courtesy of John Blatchly and the East Anglian Daily Times:

At the University of California, Los Angeles, there is a rare and delightful Suffolk manuscript [MS.1951.018]. The William Andrews Clark Memorial Library paid less than $14 for it in 1951, a trivial sum even then. It is a unique handwritten copy of a marriage sermon preached on 28 August 1649 in Chilton Church near Sudbury. It was specially commissioned by the preacher and bound in vellum for presentation to the father of the bridegroom, Sir William Armyne, 1st Baronet, of Osgodby Hall in Lincolnshire. Its beauty lies in the way the scribe, John Raymond, wrote it in imitation of printing.

When printing began some two hundred years earlier, the style of manuscripts of the day was imitated. Here the hand mimics print and there is the luxury of two titlepages. There were Raymonds in St Lawrence parish, Ipswich, and it could be that John had gone to London to work as a writing-master and calligrapher. He was not a printer in either place.

The 18 year-old bride was Anne Crane, third of four daughters of Sir Robert Crane of Chilton who had died in 1642 aged 55. Robert was knighted by James I at Newmarket, and created a baronet by Charles I in 1627. As he left no son, his estate was divided equally between his daughters. Anne’s mother was Robert’s second wife, Susan, daughter of Sir Giles Allington of Horseheath and Halesworth, and she later married Isaac Appleton of Holbrook Hall in Waldingfield.

Sir William Armyne chose his protegé Matthew Lawrence to preach the sermon partly because he was local. From 1643 until his death in 1652, Lawrence was Town Preacher of Ipswich, presiding over the Classis of ministers which ran the Town Library and provided Godly ministers for the twelve parishes of the town. But Armyne and Lawrence were also both Lincolnshire men, for Matthew was christened the son of William Lawrence at Saxby All Saints on February 1596. Although Saxby is a parish or two south of the estuary it was then known as Saxby on Humber.

The sermon was some 30 pages long, as one would expect from such a painful Puritan as Lawrence. (His posthumous Use and Practice of Faith runs to 624 pages.) Couples would not put up with it today. In those days, longevity was far rarer than today, and William and Anne were together for only nine years, for the husband died aged 36, having having enjoyed his father’s title for only seven years before his remains were interred in the Armyne family vault at Lenton, Lincs.

Anne, who had borne her husband two healthy daughters, was still only 27, and in 1659 she married another Lincolnshire man, John, 1st Baron Belasyse or Bellasis of Worlaby in that county, where he built, in Pevsner’s words ‘a bizarre brick house in the familiar Fen Artisan Mannerism’. Unfortunately it is no longer there. Clearly Lord Belasyse was wealthy, for he commissioned Anne’s portrait from Sir Peter Lely. She died in 1662, aged 30.

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