Guto composed a poem of praise to Sir John Burgh of Wattlesborough (poem 80) as well as another poem of praise to his wife, Joan (poem 81). Only one other poem for John survives, namely a poem by Llawdden to request a horse from him on behalf of one Dafydd Llwyd ap Gruffudd (GLl poem 9).
The genealogical table below is based on the sources below and on WG1 ‘3’, ‘12’, ‘41’, ‘42’, ‘Bleddyn ap Cynfyn’ 1, 29, 31, ‘Elystan Glodrydd’ 31, ‘Gruffudd ap Cynan’ 1, 3, ‘Rhys ap Tewdwr’ 1, ‘Tewdwr Mawr’ 1. Those named in Guto’s two poems for John and Joan are shown in bold print, and the names of his patrons are underlined.
As is shown above, John and Joan had four daughters (or three, possibly, if both Elizabeths were the same woman), namely Elizabeth (who married William Newport), Angharad (who married John Leighton), Isabel (who married Sir John Lingen, Burgess 1877: 374–85), and Elizabeth (or Eleanor, who married Thomas Mytton, Baugh 1989: 71–118). The latter was the poet Lewys Aled’s mother-in-law (see GILlF 173–5, where uncertainty is expressed concerning the lineage of John’s mother, Elizabeth daughter of John de la Pole).
Sir John Burgh ap Hugh Burgh
Sir John Burgh was born at Wattlesborough, Shropshire, on 12 June 1414. Through his mother, Elizabeth daughter of John de la Pole (or Siôn Mawddwy), John inherited the title lord of Mawddwy in 1430 (Smith and Smith 2001: 611–12), but the lordship formed only a small and relatively poor part of his estate, and the exact location of the family residence in the area is unknown. He was much more occupied in Shropshire, where he had most of his wealth and held his most important posts, and his main residence was in Wattlesborough. He was sheriff of Shrewsbury four times, in 1442, 1449, 1453 and 1463–4 (for two years) and a justice of the peace. He seems to have married Joan (see below) during the 1430s. He was knighted by 1444–5 and died in 1471. He is described by Bridgeman (1868: 96) as a ‘person of great magnificence’, and Guto confirms this. See further, Smith 2001: 163–7; Bridgeman 1868: 96–100.
Joan Burgh daughter of William Clopton
Joan Burgh’s family originated from Clopton near Quinton in Gloucestershire. Her father, William Clopton, was the son of John Clopton, the first husband of Juliana de Morehall (of Moor Hall, Wixford, Warwickshire). Although William’s mother remarried, he was the only heir when his stepfather, Thomas Crewe, died in 1418 (a brass effigy of both Crewe and William’s mother survives in Wixford church). In 1407/8 William was appointed the deputy sheriff of Worcestershire and consequently served Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick (his name occurs on the earl’s muster roll in 1417).
Around 1403 William married Joan Besford, daughter of Sir Alexander Besford of Besford in Worcestershire (Willis-Bund 1924: 20–1). Besford was a member of parliament and a lawyer and he served Thomas Beauchamp, twelfth earl of Warwick (Roskell 1992: 194). As well as Joan, he had another daughter, Agnes, who married Thomas Throgmorton of the famous Throgmorton family. Roskell (1992: 722–3) identifies Thomas Throgmorton as one of the shire’s most powerful noblemen, and his son, John, also served Richard Beauchamp (on the family, see DNB Online s.n. Throgmorton family). The union of two influential families also guided the marriage of Besford’s other daughter, Joan, with William Clopton. Indeed, Carpenter (1992: 652) demonstrates how many noblemen who served the earls of Warwick were intricately interconnected through their wives, a connection described as ‘the Beauchamp affinity’. The last reference to William Clopton occurs in 1419, probably the year of his death (ibid. 652). His wife, Joan Burgh’s mother, died in 1430 (Willis-Bund 1913: 313–16). Their effigies survive in Quinton chapel, Gloucestershire, where both families’ coats of arms can also be seen (Davis 1899: 30–3).
Joan Burgh’s family is associated with the famous Clopton Manuscript from the west Midlands, which contains six Middle English texts, including a copy of ‘Piers Plowman’ (composed c.1360–87). It is generally accepted that William Clopton commissioned a professional English copyist to write the book sometime between 1403 and 1419 (Turville-Petre 1990: 36). However, Perry (2007: 154–5) believes that his wife, Joan, was responsible, or possibly a member of the Throgmorton family. The first folio displays three coats of arms: i. combining the Clopton and Besford families’ heraldry; ii. the coat of arms of William’s stepfather, Thomas Crewe; iii. the Throgmorton family’s coat of arms (ibid. 137). These three noble families were related to each other through their wives, as noted by Cross (1998: 48). This seems to complement Guto’s poem (poem 81), where he praises Joan’s pedigree, for Turville-Petre (1990: 38) describes the three branches of nobility as ‘three wealthy and pious gentry families, closely bound together by loyalties and marriage, all much involved in local administration and with strong local associations, and all long standing retainers of the Earl of Warwick’. See further Salzman 1945: 54–5, 190–1.
G.C. Baugh, A History of the County of Shropshire, Volume 4 (Woodbridge, 1989)
Bridgeman, G.T.O. (1868), ‘The Princes of Upper Powys, Chapter IV’, Mont Coll 1: 5–194
Burgess, J.T. (1877), ‘The Family of Lingen’, The Archaelogical Journal, 34: 374–85
Carpenter, C. (1992), Locality and Polity: A Study of Warwickshire Landed Society, 1401–1499 (Cambridge)
Davis, C.T. (1899), The Monumental Brasses of Gloucestershire (London)
Perry, R. (2007), ‘The Clopton Manuscript and the Beauchamp Affinity: Patronage and Reception Issues in a West Midlands Reading Community’, W. Scase (ed.), Essays in Manuscript Geography: Vernacular Manuscripts of the English West Midlands from the Conquest to the Sixteenth Century (Hull), 131–59
Roskell, J.S. (1992), The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1386–1421 (Stroud)
Salzman, L.F. (1945) (ed.), A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3 (Woodbridge)
Smith, J.B. (2001), ‘Mawddwy’, Smith and Smith 2001, 151–67
Smith, J.B., and Smith, Ll.B. (2001) (eds.), History of Merioneth Volume II: The Middle Ages (Cardiff)
Turville-Petre, T. (1990), ‘The Relationship of the Vernon and Clopton Manuscripts’, Derek Pearsall (ed.), Studies in the Vernon Manuscript (Woodbridge), 29–44
Willis-Bund, J.W. (1913) (ed.), A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3 (Woodbridge)
Willis-Bund, J.W. (1924) (ed.), A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4 (Woodbridge)