Michael Linton's Bayeux Tapestry: 1066 - A Medieval Mosaic and Puzzles
BATTLE ABBEY ROLL.
ACCOUNT OF THE NORMAN LINEAGES.
IN THREE VOLUMES.—VOL. I
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.
This electronic edition
was prepared by
Michael A. Linton, 2007
William de Braye was one of the subscribing witnesses to the charter of Battle Abbey in 1088; but does not appear in Domesday. His name was derived from Bray, near Evreux. "Milo de Brai, father of Hugh Trussel, married, c. 1070, Litheuil, Viscountess of Troyes, and c. 1064, founded Longport Abbey, Normandy (Ordaric Vitalis). Milo de Brai, his son, was a crusader 1096 (Idem). In 1148 Richard de Braio held lands at Winchester from the Bishop (Winton Domesday). The De Brais possessed estates in Cambridge and Bedford 1165 (Liber Niger). A branch was seated in Devon in the thirteenth century."—The Norman People. In Bedfordshire we find Eaton Bray, in the hundred of Manshead, a village about four miles from Dunstaple. "The family of Bray were of consequence in the county," says Lysons, "at an early period. Thomas de Bray was knight of the shire in 1289, and Roger de Bray in 1312. When they settled at Eaton-Bray, to which they gave their name, does not appear; but it was long before they were possessed of the manor. Edmund Bray, grandfather of Sir Reginald, the faithful minister of King Henry VII., was described as of this place, and it appears on record, that the parish was called Eaton-Bray in the reign of Edward III. It is probable that the Brays held the manor under the Barons Cantilupe and Zouche. Sir Edmund Bray, nephew of Sir Reginald, was summoned to parliament in 1530 as baron of Eaton-Bray. The title became extinct by the death of his son John Lord Bray without issue in 1537. The manor of Eaton-Bray passed to the posterity of William Lord Sandys, who married the only child of John Bray, uncle of the first Lord Bray. In the chancel of the parish church is the monument of Jane, wife of Edmund Lord Bray, who died in 1538. In the S. aisle is a fragment of stone-work, richly carved and ornamented with the Royal arms, and the arms and device of Sir Reginald Bray." This was the same Sir Reginald, who, on the battle-field of Bosworth, found the Royal crown in a hawthorn bush, "where, apparently, after falling from Richard's head, it had been secreted during the engagement." Like Henry V. at Agincourt, he had come to battle wearing his crown upon his helmet, and he wore it to the last. When the tardy interference of the temporizing Stanleys had decided the fortunes of the day, and one of his knights came to tell him that all was lost, adding, "I holde it tyme for you to flye": he replied by calling for his battle-axe. Then he took a solemn oath—"By Him that shope both se and lande, Kynge of Englande this day will I dye; one foote away will I not fie whil brethe wyll byde my brest within." He kept his word right royally. Making way with his sword, "high in blood and anger," he slew Richmond's standard-bearer, Sir Charles Brandon, with his own hand, thinking his next stroke should reach the Earl himself; and when Sir John Cheney interposed to raise the fallen banner, hurled him from his saddle with a single blow. But his foemen closed in on all sides, and overpowered and out-numbered, he fell, pierced with many wounds, ere he could cross swords with his rival. "They hewed the crowne of golde from his head with dowtful dents": and while his mangled and dishonoured corpse, flung across a horse's back, was being conveyed to Leicester, Sir Reginald Bray brought his trophy to Sir William Stanley, who, amidst the shouts and acclaims of the soldiers, crowned the new Lancastrian King on the field of battle.
"Courageous Richmond, well hast thou acquit thee!
Lo, here, these long usurped royalties
From the dead temples of this bloody wretch
Have I pluck'd off, to grace thy brows withall;
Wear it, enjoy it, and make much of it."
Sir Reginald was amply rewarded. He was a Knight Banneret, a Knight of the Garter, and Lord Treasurer of England. "He was noted," says Lord Bacon, "to have had the greatest Freedome of any Councillor, but it was but a Freedome, the better to set off Flatterie. Yet he bare more than his just part of Envie, for the Exactions." He left no posterity.
The first Lord Braye had two younger brothers, who are still represented: 1. Sir Edward, Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex, 30 Henry VIII., ancestor of the Brays of Shere in that county; and 2. Reginald, seated at Barrington in Gloucestershire. His son, the second and last Lord, had no less than seven married sisters, among whom the barony fell into abeyance in 1537; and thus, hopelessly merged in a crowd of claimants, it continued till 1839, when it was adjudged to Mrs. Otway Cave, as the descendant of the second sister, Elizabeth Verney. None of her four sons lived to succeed to it, and none of them left children; and once more it was fated to lapse among co-heiresses. But of her four daughters, the three eldest also died childless; the last of them in 1879, and Mrs. Wyatt Edgell, the youngest, became Baroness Braye. She had two sons; the eldest of whom was killed in 1879 in the war at the Cape; and the second succeeded to the barony on her own death soon afterwards. Finally, in 1880, after the lapse of nearly three hundred and fifty years, a Lord Braye again took his seat in the House of Lords.
- ↑ "In memory of this event, Henry adopted this device of a crown on a hawthorn bush, which is seen in the great window of his chapel at Westminster."—Ibid.
- ↑ It was a challenge to the Earl of Richmond. "And to provoke and single him with a more glorious invitation, he wore the Crowne Royall upon his head, the fairest marke for Valour and Ambition; Polidore saies he wore it, thinking that day should be either the last of his life, or the first of a better."—Buck's History of Richard III.