Monday, 13 January 2014

The Reeds Oatlands: A Tudor Marriage Settlement

I have an article published in the new volume of the journal, Surrey History (vol XII, 2013), which is printed by the Surrey Archaeological Society.

The article, which is called 'The Reeds of Oatlands: A Tudor Marriage Settlement', considers the marriage arranged between the gentlewoman, Isabel Blount of Kinlet (the younger sister of the famous Bessie Blount) and the goldsmith, William Reed of Oatlands in Surrey. Although of lower social status that his bride, William Reed, who was a widower and twice the bride's age, was very wealthy. As the nephew and heir of the prosperous goldsmith, Sir Bartholomew Reed, it had been hoped that he would take over the family business. William, however, wanted to be a gentleman and quickly expelled from the goldsmith's company.

William made his home at his uncle's manor at Oatlands, which was so splendid that Henry VIII ultimately acquired it. He already had an heir when he sought marriage to Isabel but, in spite of this, his wealth and connections made him a good match. Due to William's age, the marriage settlement was tightly drafted to ensure that Isabel and her future children were protected when he died. In addition, William promised to pay for the wedding food and, even, the bride's wedding dress!

The marrriage settlement - which is a rare survival - provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the upper middle class in Henrician England.

Isabel Blount from her parents' tomb

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