The Bertie Legend
|THE BERTIES HAVE GENUINE CLAIMS TO FAME. Not only did they produce successful soldiers, but they produced also Lady Priscilla ~ whose adolescent passion for a landed gentleman of small estate, Peter Burrell, Member of Parliament for Haslemere (she was then 17 and he 23), forced her father, the 3rd Duke of Ancaster (one of the kingdom's richest noblemen), to persuade the reportedly reluctant groom ("a young man of the most graceful person and the most engaging manners" and reputedly the best cricketer in England) to marry her. Earlier, the family's most famous member was probably Richard Bertie, accused by the Earl of Arundel of being "no gentleman" (by ancestry, that is), who in 1553 married Katherine, the widowed Duchess of Suffolk, and produced the following narrative of his ancestral origins.|
|The reflexes of our regular readers doubtless flicked immediately
they recognised the invitation to draw the inference that this
"ancient" family gave its name to an old (and unknown) province
of Prussia at a time long before hereditary surnames existed.
(The Saxons began their invasion of England in the 5th century.)
|Here is a quick jump of some 500 years, so fast indeed that perhaps
it was intended not to be noticed, not to be allowed to impede
the smooth flow of data.
(This King Ethelred would be Ethelred II, known as "the Unready" because he attempted to govern without a "Raad" or Council. He succeeded to the throne in 966 and was murdered in 1016.)
The shield bearing these three battering rams no longer exists. Nor does the pillar.
|Sweyn, King of Denmark and Norway, conquered England in 1013 and, Ethelred having fled to Normandy, was proclaimed King by right of conquest.|
|"Burbach" (Burbachius in the Latin version of the text ~ an extraordinary name) does not go to Normandy, from where he or his sons might somewhat embarrassingly be expected to return in 1066, but to Paris. This ensures he has an excuse for the family lands not to be included in the Bertie name in 1086 when the great Domesday work was completed. The document from which the extract printed here (copied from Collins's Peerage 1800) was taken then gives a continuous lineage down to Philippe de Bertie who apparently returned to England with King Henry II in 1154 and recovered his patrimony as a royal gift for his valour in battle.|
|This Jerome, incredibly spelt "Jherosme" in the French version of the story, is the Hieronymous de Bertie of the first paragraph (although Collins's Peerage may not have recognised the name in this form).|
|This English version varies substantially from the Latin and French versions in which no mention is made of a monk's murder in the fracas four hundred years earlier, and suggests only that a murder might have been done this time "se il ne eust este empesche de ceulx qui estoient presents."|
|For the murder of a monk only "two pieces of gold"!!!
and "the souls of his ancestors" thrown in, as it were, for free.
|Now with this Robert, the son of Robert, we at last reach authentic
history, for he was indeed the father of William Bertie who married
a daughter of a man surnamed Pepper, but the Thomas said to be
William's son was actually William's elder brother.
Thomas began his professional life in 1532 earning 13 shillings and 4 pence per annum maintaining the fabric of Winchester Cathedral. He was a mason and this was a time when the building trade was flourishing, primarily because the dissolution of the monasteries released vast amounts of building materials for the "new men" to build the fine houses we now so readily associate with the late Tudor reigns. Then in 1539 King Henry VIII decided to erect blockhouses for coastal defence and Thomas Bertie as "Mr Bert" was the master mason for the project. The rise of the Berties had begun, and in 1550 "Thomas Bartue" was designated as Captain of Hurst Castle when he received a grant of arms in which the text noted that he had "of long tyme used himself in feates of armes and good works" ~ Elizabethan hyperbole used when a man could afford to "bear the port, charge, and countenance of a gentleman, he shall for money have a coat and arms bestowed upon him by the heralds (who in the charter of the same do of custom pretend antiquity and service, and many gay things)."
Thomas sent his son Richard to read law at Oxford University, from which he entered the service of the Duchess of Suffolk as her gentleman usher. When he married her in 1552, his father having been granted arms two years earlier classed Richard as a noble (but by the custom of the time, a gentleman of coat armour, not a gentleman of blood) which, while society disapproved of the wide difference in rank, allowed the duchess to escape the ignominy inflicted on her stepdaughter, also a Duchess of Suffolk, who took from her household as her second husband an unarmigerous usher (gaoled for his presumption).
|Volume II ~ No. 1 ~ De Vere|
|Mists of Antiquity ~ Volume I|
|Volume II ~ No. 2 ~ Hay|
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