Brass of the Month

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Page last updated 06 March 2015

Copyright: Jon Bayliss

March 2015 -  John, 1493, & Elizabeth Sothill, Stockerston, Leicestershirr


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The church of St Peter at Stockerston in Leicestershire is close to the former county boundary with Rutland. It is well worth a visit, with incised slabs, sculpted effigies and late fifteenth-century glass among the attractions. Stockerston was previously known at Stoke Faston.

    There are two brasses of the second half of the fifteenth-century that have particularly large figures for that time. Both lack inscriptions. That of the first was recorded before its loss but the second had gone by 1747. The earlier one commemorates John Boyville, died 1467, the last male member of the family that had held the manor of Stockerston since 1303, and his wife Isabell. The remaining heraldry suggests she was a member of the Cheyne family. The later one has a single surviving shield that establishes it as the brass of John Sothill and his widow, Elizabeth Plumpton. The shield has the arms of, quarterly, 1 & 4, Plumpton and, 2 & 3,Foljambe representing the marriage of Elizabeth's grandparents, Sir William Plumpton and Alice, daughter and heir of Sir Godfrey Foljambe. The manor of Stockerston had passed from John Boyville to  his daughter Anne and her husband Henry Sothill, who served as Attorney-General 1461-1471. John was their son. In 1463/4 Elizabeth Plumpton had been contracted to marry John when she was only three years old. When they eventually married, probably when she was fourteen, they had seven sons and three daughters. Their eldest son Henry married Joan, daughter of Richard Empson, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Speaker of the House of Commons, one of Henry VII's new men. John Sothill died in 1493 and willed to be buried in the chapel of St Botolph at Stockerston. Elizabeth died in 1506 and requested burial of her body near her son Henry, who had died earlier that year and was buried in the Greyfriars's church in London, and burial of her heart beside her husband at Stockerston. Her son's widow Joan was later buried with him in London. The manor of Stockerston passed to the Drury family of Suffolk with the marriage of one of Henry and Joan's twin daughters.

    The brass of John and Elizabeth Sothill is a late product of the London D workshop, presumably still under the control of the long-lived James Remes. Remes had been responsible for the brass at Wollaton, Nottinghamshire, to Richard and Anne Willoughby, engraved in 1466. By the early 1470s military brasses by Remes had become quite standardised but can be dated by the length of the subject's hair, which lengthened as fashions changed, and the change from pointed sabatons to broad-toed Maximilian ones. By the early 1490s the large elbow defences had disappeared and it is at this stage at which the brass at Stockerston was made. Although the marginal inscription had gone, the wording of scrolls on this brass was recorded by a Mr Smith in 1747. Over John's head O pater in celis, me tecum pascere velis. D’ne miserere, etc, the small scroll with D’ne miserere still remaining. From her mouth, a label read Nos precibus matris salvet sapiencia patris. Smith reported the arms over their heads as quarterly, 1 and 4, Sotehill; 2 and 3, quarterly, Boyvile and Murdac, impaling, quarterly, her coat, 1 and 4, Plompton of Plompton, Ebor. ; 2 and 3, Foljambe of Kenalton, co Nott. The brasses were removed from their slabs and places on wooden boards a long time ago.