Humphrey Newton (1466-1536): an early Tudor Gentleman
The public and political lives of the fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century gentry have been extensively studied, but comparatively little is known of their private lives and beliefs. Humphrey Newton of Pownall, Cheshire, offers a rare and fascinating opportunity to redress the balance, thanks to the fortunate survival of a commonplace book he compiled c.1498-1524. Drawing upon this unique manuscript, this interdisciplinary and multi-dimensional study of Newton explores his family life, landed estate, legal work, piety, and his literary skills [he composed nearly twenty courtly love lyrics]. It charts his social advancement and the self-fashioning of his gentle image, while placing him in the context of current discussions of gentry culture. What makes Newton even more noteworthy is that he was among the unsung and little known stratum of English society historians have labelled the 'lesser' gentry. As such, this book provides the first comprehensive biography of an early Tudor gentleman. Dr DEBORAH YOUNGS is lecturer in medieval history at Swansea University.
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