An Elite Family in Early Modern England

An Elite Family in Early Modern England

The Temples of Stowe and Burton Dassett, 1570-1656

Rosemary O'Day


Boydell Press



Provides a full, detailed picture of the life of an aristocratic family in early modern England.
The Temples of Stowe were a leading Midland landed family, owning land in, and with strong connections to, Buckinghamshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. In the seventeenth century they were one of the wealthiest and most prominent local families, building in the eighteenth century a large and beautiful country house, now Stowe School. The family also left voluminous records, housed mainly in the Huntington and the Folger Shakespeare libraries. Based on very extensive research in these records, this book provides a detailed picture of the family life of the early Temples. It examines household, financial and estate management, discusses social networking and the promotion of family interests, and considers the legal disputes the family were engaged in. It focuses in particular on the happy and effective marriage of Sir Thomas and Lady Hester Temple, exploring their relationship with each other, with their children, and with their siblings. Lady Hester, who outlived her husband by twenty years, is a good example of a formidable matriarch, who took a strong lead in managing the family and its resources. Overall, the book provides a full and detailed picture of the family life of an aristocratic family in early modern England.

ROSEMARY O'DAY is Professor of History at the Open University and author of, amongst numerous other works, Women's Agency in Early Modern Britain and the American Colonies: Patriarchy, Partnership and Patronage (Pearson. Longman 2007) and Cassandra Brydges (1670-1735) First Duchess of Chandos: Life and Letters (Boydell Press 2007).


13 black and white, 6 line illustrations
516 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Hardback, 9781783270873, April 2018
eBook, 9781787442719, April 2018
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS015000, HIS037040, SOC028000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: A Multiple-Plot Late-Renaissance Drama: A Midland Gentry Family, the Temples of Stowe, Buckinghamshire
Meet the Temples
The Geographical and Social Connections of the Temples of Stowe
How the Temples Interacted with Changing Rules of Inheritance
Thomas and Hester Temple's Partnership
After the Fall, 1629-1637
The Temples and their Servants
Hester's Widowhood, 1637-1656
Early Modern Wives
The case of John and Mary Farmer
The Strange Case of Peter the Lunatic
Relations with Daughters from Birth to Marriage
Daughters, Daughters-in-law and Grand Daughters
Care of Wards
The Temples and the Abusive Marriage of Sir William and Lady Anne Andrewes
Bringing up Sons
Patriarchal Authority in Practice
Relations with Younger Sons


Taking a micro-historical approach, the author offers a prodigious amount of detail derived from correspondence, estate records, and litigation. . . . Hester [Temple] proved herself the domus ducere of the household and ordered the lives of her 13 surviving children. Hester's assertiveness proved essential to the Temples' fortunes because she would experience an extended widowhood and intrafamily squabbles. Hester serves as an example of the variable nature of the matriarchal role in an elite household. CHOICE

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