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The Wardship of Francis Englefield Junior
A Shameful Affair

This account, given by one Andrew Blundel, concerns an incident in which the honourable and kindly nature of Sergeant Edmund Plowden, Treasurer of the Middle Temple, is well shown.

Through the intercession of the Earl of Pembroke, Plowden had received, from Queen Elizabeth I, the guardianship of young Francis Englefield, nephew of his friend, the famous Catholic recusant, Sir Francis Englefield of Englefield; but, instead of taking advantage of the office for his own profit, as was usually done in such cases, by bestowing his ward in marriage in exchange for a sum of money paid to himself, he formally made a gift of his authority to his ward. The scene is described as follows:

About the pointe of younge Englefielde's agge of XXI yeres Mrs. Englefield (the mother) Mr. Francis Fitten, her brother & young Englefield were at Shiplake. After dinner Mr. Plowden went into his newe parlor, called them unto him, called also Mr. Perkyns who then before had married his eldest daughter, ould Mr. Wollascott, younge Edmund Plowden, my cozen Humfry Sandford & myselfe & I know not whether any others. Then turned his talke to younge Mr. Englefield & said thus in effecte, Mr. Englefield you are my ward . . . your expectation is greate and according to that I may now here receive for your wardship & marriage, & my ould Lord Montague hath offered for you, 2,000. Take it (says he) as a gift of 2,000 & in recompense I crave for no benefitte for myself or my own children.

The only request that the Sergeant made to Francis Englefield in return, was that he should continue to Humfrey Sandford, his son-in-law, the three lives' lease of lands at Englefield then held by Richard Sandford the father. A promise to this effect was readily made, but, sad to say, after the death of Edmund Plowden the Sergeant, as readily forgotten. Francis Englefield not only did not renew the lease, but turned the old man Richard Sandford out of his home. He exclaiming: Wife, carry me to Plowden. He hath killed me! he hath killed me! with these words continually in his mouth, languished for about a month, & then for very sorrow & conceyte died.


    Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.