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The World of the Stonors

The World of the Stonors: A Gentry Society

Elizabeth Noble
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 234
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  • Book Info
    The World of the Stonors
    Book Description:

    The Stonor letters and papers are second in quantity only to the Paston letters. Nevertheless, while studies of the parvenu Pastons of Norfolk abound, no historian has used the Stonor archive to write about this significantly longer-established gentry fam

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-779-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. List of Tables and Maps
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-x)
    Elizabeth Noble
  6. Introduction: Approaching the Stonors and Their Papers
    (pp. 1-14)

    It is more than three-quarters of a century since Charles Lethbridge Kingsford first edited and published the Stonor letters and papers.¹ Nevertheless, no historian has used the abundance of material they contain to study the life and times of this particular late-medieval family. This is surprising, given the wealth of available studies about some other gentry families. For example, it is more than eighty years since the famous Pastons were first set in their England, and, following this pioneering study, a number of other authors have used the Paston letters to write about the family. Among the more recent of...

  7. 1 The Stonors: A Gentry Family Biography
    (pp. 15-38)

    The members of the late-medieval Stonor family are less well known than those of the Paston family, in spite of the Stonor family archive that is second in volume and interest only to that of the far more famous Pastons.¹ Eight generations of the Stonor family appear in their late-medieval papers, compared to the four generations covered by the Paston correspondence. A history of the Stonor family, written by a family member, Julian Stonor, in 1948, gives the reader an account of the many family members, from the fifth century through to the near present.² This work, unfortunately, documents its...

  8. 2 Lineage
    (pp. 39-66)

    When William Harleston wrote to his ‘neve’, William Stonor, in 1480, warning him against excessive expenditure, he also told Stonor that he trusted to God ‘to see you the worshipfullest of the Stonors that ever I sawe or shall se be my days’.¹ While Harleston has provided historians with an apposite and much-used quotation to illustrate one of the ways that the concept of ‘worship’ was used in the fifteenth century, in his letter he also advances the idea of the Stonors as a sequence of holders of the name who can be knowledgeably compared, one with another. He is...

  9. 3 Landed Estate
    (pp. 67-98)

    The importance of lands for the gentry has been extensively shown in what is now a substantial body of studies of such families on both a county and an individual basis.¹ The greatest asset that the gentry possessed, providing both an economic and a social base, was their land. As well as its obvious function of providing livelihood, land determined status and contributed towards one’s worship. A landowner, to maintain his social status, had to retain his land and keep it in good order. Involvement in the management of lands was central to success, for even if the daily running...

  10. 4 The Stonors’ Lords
    (pp. 99-128)

    Because of their extensive lands, the Stonors could number themselves among the greater or élite gentry, their income, too, being commensurate with this elevated status. Like other gentry, they were concerned with their lineage and with their lands. But with a comfortable income from their estate, they did not necessarily have to look for lordship, at least not to provide them with more than small additions to their income in the form of retaining fees. H. L. Gray has argued that the greater and lesser gentry held a larger share of national wealth compared with the baronage, but criticism of...

  11. 5 Early Social Networks: Judge John to Thomas I
    (pp. 129-159)

    Those who provided the Stonors with ‘good lordship’ account for only some of the connections that this gentry family had. It remains to consider the other relationships that the Stonors had with a variety of people. There were those who, in their turn, viewed the Stonors as their lords, or who served them in some capacity. Then there were connections with other gentry, who themselves had their own web of connections. Historians have adopted the terms ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ relationships from sociology, and applied them to the late-medieval context. These terms have been used to distinguish between the experience of...

  12. 6 Later Social Networks and Gentry Values: Thomas II and William
    (pp. 160-191)

    An increased volume of Stonor correspondence survives from the second half of the fifteenth century, and the correspondence is matched by a greater number of other types of documents, too, including memoranda, bills, estate and household accounts. The letters of this period in particular offer insight into part of what was shared in the culture, namely, cultural capital, by providing examples of some of the vocabulary, ideas and symbols that were circulating throughout the network. Not all members and not all parts of the network are represented in the correspondence, but to the extent that some members and parts are...

  13. Conclusion: Gentry Networks, Culture, Mentality and Society
    (pp. 192-198)

    When Leland wrote of his visit to Stonor in the sixteenth century, he explained that ‘the Stoners hathe longe had it in possessiyon. Syns one Fortescue invadyd it by marriage of an heire generall of the Stoners but aftar dispocessyd’.¹ Indeed, on 29th January 1532, there had been something of a battle at Stonor, even if the accounts in the petitions to Star Chamber exaggerate the course of events. Sir Walter Stonor’s supposedly peaceable visit to collect his revenues and profits, as he said, had turned into an altercation, with Sir Adrian Fortescue’s second wife, ‘grete with child’, being cast...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 199-216)
  15. Index
    (pp. 217-230)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 231-231)