Wycliffe, Queen Anne of Bohemia and the Tyndales of Hockwold, Norfolk


The link between John Wycliffe (c.1320-84) and the country of Bohemia was created by the strong religious influence of Wycliffe upon the Bohemian reformer John Huss (1369-1415), and thus upon the people of that land. Anne of Bohemia (1366-94), the first wife of Richard II King of England, was the eldest daughter of the Emperor Charles IV by his fourth wife. Elizabeth of Prague, and was half-sister to Wenceslaus and Sigismund, both of whom had ruled over Bohemia at different times.

John Wycliffe was born nearly one hundred and seventy years before William Tyndale, and two hundred years before the nailing by Martin Luther of his ninety-five theses on indulgences to the door of the castle church at Wittenburg. Although a church document at the end of the fourteenth century condemning those followers of his who became known as Lollards, and which referring to him (in Latin) as the Evangelical Doctor, Wycliffe would have recognized nothing of Anglicanism or Evangelicalism.

Nevertheless, it is remarkable how many of his ideas anticipated those of the Reformation. Until 1381 he lived most of his time in Oxford. When in English history no clear separation between the sacred and the secular was marked, Wycliffe served both the Black Prince and John of Gaunt (Duke of Lancaster). The English government had sent Wycliffe to Bruges, as an ambassador to conduct negotiations with papal representatives In Ghent over, a series of disputes between the English authorities and Pope Gregory XI. His handling of these negotiations won him support among the English nobility and the informed citizens of London.

When the Roman Church began to censure him for what they saw as his increasingly heretical views, both John of Gaunt and the Black Prince's widow, Joan Countess of Kent (the 'fair maid of Kent' and mother of Richard II) protected him. However he argued that a secular government had a right to control the clergy , this annoyed the bishops who summoned him to appear before the Archbishop of Canterbury, Wycliffe arrived accompanied by John of Gaunt, Lord Henry Percy, the Lord Marshall of England, and four friars.

The Bishop of London addressed Lord Percy,
'If I had known before what authority he would have assumed in the church I would stopped him from coming here'.

Then intervened John of Gaunt,
'He will keep that authority whether you like it or not'.
As the result of a most undignified quarrel between the Bishop of London and John of Gaunt, the proceedings were never concluded and no charges were brought against Wycliffe. For his continuing bold preaching and writing Pope Gregory XI instructed King Richard II, the bishops and the University to imprison Wycliffe and make him answer before the archbishop and himself. When proceedings against Wycliffe were again undertaken at Lambeth in 1373, the prosecution had little effect on Wycliffe.

In that same year he Roman Church was shaken by the election of rival popes, Urban VI and Clement VII. Warming to his task Wycliffe asserted that everyone had a right to read the Bible for themselves, arguing that the Bible, as the eternal 'exemplar' of the Christian religion, was the only criterion of doctrine, to which no church authority could lawfully add.

Anne of Bohemia has borne the reputation of having favoured the doctrines of Wycliffe, though evidence has emerged of active patronage by her of the reformer. In fact Wycliffe died three years after Anne came to England at the end of January 1381. She was invited to become the wife of Richard I (1367-1400) and Queen of England (and probably of France). She was a scholar of ability and had for her own reading and reflection the use of gospels in several languages. There is no doubt that she was highly educated. Her father knew the importance of learning, and had been the founder of the University of Prague.

Anne, however was at the least indirectly instrumental in spreading Wycliffe's views by the mere fact of her marriage for it was the Bohemians in her train who first introduced his writings to Huss. A passage, cited by Huss from Wycliffe's writings and quoted below does suggest that she read the gospels in three languages, Bohemian, German, and Latin. A substantial number of students. eager to study the work of Wycliffe at Oxford University, would bring the results of their studies on return to Bohemia. [DNB 423a]. At this time a close connection existed between the universities of Prague and Oxford, and the King's marriage stimulated the creation of scholarships at Oxford for worthy Bohemian scholars. [See map of Bohemian student movement].

In 1379 Anne's half-brother Wenceslaus began to make overtures to Richard II touching the support of Urban VI against his rival Clement VII at Avignon. England, Germany, and Flanders very soon made common cause against France. Towards the end of the following year the Earl of Kent and two others were sent over to Flanders to conclude with the other ambassadors named by the emperor for the King of England's marriage to his sister Anne of Bohemia. In the commissioning given to the English plenipotentiaries it is expressly stated that Richard had selected her on account of her nobility and her reputed gentleness of character.

It was intended to receive the bride in England before Michaelmas, but in June the frightful insurrection of Wat Tyler took place. An embassy, however, was commissioned on 1 December to receive her and bring her to England; and on the 13th of that month a general pardon to the rebels was issued at her intervention. Twelve armed vessels, full of Normans, were sent by the King of France to intercept her! The Duke of Brabant, Anne's uncle, sent to remonstrate with the French King, Charles V, who thereupon ordered the Normans into port, declaring that he did so merely for the love of his cousin Anne, and out of no regard for the King of England. From all that is known of her disposition and character we may believe that her coming did something to secure a brief interval of peace to a distracted country.

On 14 January 1383 royal rings were exchanged with the King, and she and Richard were married that day. The same day she was crowned ('coronated') as Queen of England. The two families had not always lived in peace. Her father, Charles was the son of the blind King John of Luxembourg and Bohemia, who was slain at the battle of Crecy (August 1346) while aiding the French. On the other side of the fighting at Crecy, Edward the Black Prince, later Edward III, and father of Richard II, was present when King John was found dead. Thus ironically. Richard's father had fought against Anne's grandfather. A family tradition states of eight. plumes on John's crown, the Black Prince took three (and the Tyndales five!) See Black Prince & Blind King John.

The queen had brought with her to England, besides Bohemian fashions such as ladies' side saddles and the extraordinary cap worn by ladies in those days, a numerous body of Bohemian followers, who not only excited national prejudice against them, but added to the expenses of an already very expensive court. There was, however, no appearance that the queen shared their unpopularity. The respect with which she is spoken of by contemporary writers leads us to infer the contrary. The devoted attachment of her husband, who seldom allowed her to quit his side, was of a kind unusual among royal personages.

In time these Bohemian Oxford students brought back to Bohemia further writings of Wycliffe. According to Huss, it was not until 'twelve years later' that the theological writings of Wycliffe were known in Bohemia. In that year (Autumn 1401) Jerome of Prague, who in 1398 had obtained his licentiate and permission to go abroad, returned back from Oxford, bringing with him it copies of Wycliffe's Dialogue and Trialogue, and others. All these Jerome had written out with his own hand. 'Young men and students' he said in a public disputation, 'who did not study the books of Wycliffe would never find the true root of knowledge'. In this conviction he introduced the works to John Christian and John Huss [Hardt, iv. 634, 651 & H.B.Workman, The Dawn of the Reformation. Vol. 2. 117­9; 121,2; 241]

Despite the persecution of Lollard followers of Wycliffe by Archbishop Arundel, yet he praised the Queen with these words,

'though a stranger and foreigner, she was diligently meditating a translation of the Gospels into English'.
John Wycliffe writes:

... scilicet legem gracie, tunc sunt vere legittimi quomoducunque lex homium contradicat, et ex eodem stulicia, qui volunt scripta tamquam heritica propter hoc, quod scribuntur in anglico et acute tangunt peccata, que conturbant, illam provinciam. Nam possible est, quod nobilis regina Anglie soror cesaris, habeat ewangelium in lingwa triplici exaratum, scilicet in lingwa boemica, in lingwa latina et hereticare ipsam properterea implicite foret lucierina superbia. ['in three languages. bohemian, german and latin']. Wycliffe. Latin Works: Polemic Work Vol. 1. 168. HBW. 1.202­5.

(I am grateful for the kind assistance in translating this passage of Wycliffe's old Latin into English for me by Dr Black of the Pontifical Institute of Toronto:

... because of this same thing it is clear from the foolishness of those who wish to condemn writings as heretical on of the fact that they are written in English and acutely touch upon sins which affect their province. For it is possible that the noble queen of England, the sister of the emperor, might have a gospel edited in three languages, namely in Bohemian, Teutonic and Latin, and it would be devilish presumption to consider her a heretic implicitly for that reason. And just as the Teutons understandably wish to defend their own language in this. [I found it ironic to leave the Institute with gratitude by two doors engraved with the names of More and Fisher]).

Having examined the link between Wycliffe and Huss, and the Bohemian followers, and the part Anne of Bohemia played in the spread of the influence of Wycliffe what relation is there which connects this story of Bohemia and its Princess, to the Tyndales of Hockwold or with Wycliffe and his Lollards? Let us turn to the family of Tyndale which had made its way over several centuries down the eastern coast of England. From the Tyne southward to Northumberland, further still south to Northampton, and on to Norfolk and Essex in this critical period of its family history. [See the movement of the Tyndales down the Eastern Coast of England] The main sources for information on this remarkably resilient family are Francis Blomefield's Norfolk Under Hockfold in the Hundred of Grimeshou, and Samuel Rudder's A New History of Gloucestershire. The two do not always agree.

Rudder begins with Langley Castle, the residence of Robert de Tyndale and his three sons, Adam, Robert, and John. Adam was living in 1199. Robert, the second son, seated himself at Transover in Northamptonshire, temp. E.I. and had two sons, Sir William Tyndale, knight, who died without issue, and Robert Tyndale, living in 1293. Robert's second son, Sir William Tyndale of Transover married Elizabeth, niece and heir of Sir Henry Deane, of Deane in Northamptonshire. Blomefield writes that 'it becomes clear that the Tyndales were able to make powerful and rich friends and neighbours'.

Rudder also quotes from a letter of February 3, 1663, written by Thomas Tyndale, great great-grand son of Edward of Harst Manor (brother of William the Translator), addressed to his cousin Thomas Hutchyns of Melksham Court, in which he writes:

The second brother of that seated himself in Northamptonshire at a place called Transover, and after they married the heir of Sir Henry Deane, of Deane by Transover and after then the heir of Sir Symond Bygod, of Felbrigge, one of the knights of the garter and it was a great match, and one with the lord Scales of Nacelles, dividing that inheritance with the earl of Oxford ....

Effective progress!

The Tyndale (or De Tyndale) Family Crest is described by Burke's General Armoury. 1884 p 1041:

TYNDALE co Northampton, Hockwold, co. Eastwood co. Gloucester and Bathford. co. Somerset. descended from Robert De TYNDALE, feudal Baron of South Tynedale, and Langley Castle, co. Northumberland, temp Henry II). 'Quarterly of six,

1st. ar. a fess gu, 'between three garbs sa. banded or, for TYNDALE;

2nd, ar. a fess dancettee gu. in chief three crescents of the last, for DEAN; co. Northampton'.

3rd, or, a cross gu., for BIGOD.

4th, ar. three fleur­de­lis gu. for MONTFORD, co Norfolk;

5th, or a chev. gu between three cinquefoils slipped of the last for LE BON

6th, ar. three boars' heads erect and erased sa BOOTH.

Crest ­ Out of a ducal coronet composed of five leaves or, a plume of as many ostrich feathers or. banded. erm.

Motto: Confide non confundar 'I trust ­and am not confounded'. From the last verse of the Te Deum Laudas and is also reflected in Psalm 25:1 & 2 'my God, I have put my trust in thee. 0 let me not be confounded', and in Psalm 7 1: 'In thee 0 lord, have I put my trust let me never be put to confusion.'

Rudder shows on pp 756,7, the line of Tyndales from Robert I of 1150 to the early 17th century

first half of Tyndale family tree from 1150 first half of Tyndale family tree

That there had been many profitable marriages by the Tyndales is signified by the number of women espoused were daughters and heirs of knights, or their nieces.

The evidence is clear that the Tyndales of Gloucestershire and their close friends were in contact with the Tyndales of Norfolk and their local relatives and can be demonstrated through the marriage of Sir Robert Poyntz (whose family was close to the Gloucestershire Tyndales) with Margaret, the natural daughter of Anthony Woodville, Lord Scales and Second Earl of Essex. Blomefield informs us that

Robert de Scales held during the Reign of Henry VI three Quarters of a Fee, in Hockwold and Wilton
and
After this, it was held by Anthony Woodville, Lord Scales, and Elizabeth his Wife, Daughter and Co-heir of the Lord Scales, and on the Death of the said Elizabeth, sans issue, it descended to Will. Tindale, who was Knighted at the Creation of Arthur Prince of Wales.

When (Queen) Anne first came to England in 1381, one of the ladies in her royal train was Margaret, daughter of Premislaus Duke of Teschen, and thus niece to the King. Margaret married Sir Simon Bigod alias Felbrigge, K.G., (1422-61), Standard Bearer and close friend to the King. The Bigods had two daughters, Anne a nun, and Alana who became the heiress of the Felbriggs (alias Bigods), and married Sir William Tyndall K.G., (1442-97), of the Manor of Deene, Northamptonshire, and Redenhale, Norfolk.

At the death of both half-brothers of Queen Anne, King Wenceslas in 1419 and that of King Sigismund in 1437, and with Anne's having died before both of them in 1394, Bohemia was now without a clear Heir to the Crown. The next in line, writes Blomefield, 'in right (royal) of Margaret of Teschen his Great Grandmother, Daughter to the Duke of Theise, and Neice to the King of Bohemia, the Wife of Sir Simon Fellbrigg, whose Daughter and Heiress Alana, was married to Sir William Tindale, of Dean in Northamptonshire, and Redendale in Norfolk, Etc. was his Grandson, also Sir William Tyndale of Hockwold, who kept his first Court here with Mary his wife, in 6 Ed.IV.'

Blomefield continues 'in right the basis of Margaret's and Alana's inheritance to the Bohemian Throne, the States of Bohemia sent a deputation to her male heir, Sir William Tyndale, grandson to William the husband of Alana. He being knighted at the Coronation (Creation) of Arthur Prince of Wales, it was the occasion of his declaration as Heir of the Kingdom of Bohemia. Sir William, K.B., nevertheless declined this offer to become the Bohemian King. No reason is known.

Three generations later, Umphrey Tyndall, D.D. fourth Dean of Ely Cathedral, President of Queens' College, Cambridge, and Chancellor of Lichfield was described in the words of that day 'descended of a very ancient and noble Family of his Name, seated in Redenhall in Norfolk, and Son of Sir Thomas Tyndall, Knight of Hockwold in that County', where probably he was born about the year 1550. Umphrey was thus great-grandson of the Sir William Tyndale, husband of Alana and the daughter of Margaret of Bohemia. A second invitation to the Throne of Bohemia was received by this worthy man.

History and Antiquities of The Cathedral Church of Ely (deans.) p229 states that

'He was elected Fellow of Pembroke Hallin Cambridge, Nov.24, 1567, being then Bachelor of Arts; Master of Queen's College in 1579; and was elected Vice-chancellor of the University in 1585. The following year he was made Chancellor of the Cathedral Church of Lichfield, (being installed there, Apr. 14.) and Archdeacon of Stafford, about the same time and was removed to the Deanery of Ely in 1591, in the room of Dr. Bell: which Dignit having enjoyed about Twenty-three years, he died Oct. 12, 1614; and was buried under a Marble Grave-stone, having theron hi Effigies engraved in brass, with an Inscription on a fillet round the verge, and another on a large Plate at the feet, and are as follow.
Vmphridus Tindall, nobile Norfolcienium Tyndallorum Familia oriendus, Decanus quartus istius Ecclesiae, obiit die Octob. Anno Salutis Millisimo Sexcentissimo Decimo quarto, Anno Aetatis suae Sexagesimo Quintd. Usquequo, Domine, usque

The body of the woorthy and reverend Prelate Vmphry Tyndall Doctor of
Divinity, the Fourth Dean of this Church, and Master of Queenes Colledge in
Cambridge doth here expect the coming of our Saviour.
In Presense, Goverment, good Actions, and in Birth,
Grave, wise, courageous, noble was this Earth.
The Poor, the Church, the Colledge saye here lyes
A Friende, a Deane, a Maister, true, good, wise

The honourable and reliable tradition concerning our Dean Tyndale was that in the reign of Queen Elizabeth he was profered by a Protestant Party in Bohemia to be made King thereof, which he refused alledging, That he had rather be Queen Elizabeth's subject, than a foreign Prince. - These words are engraved on the brass plaque on the Cathedral floor, and his response is crystal clear! [See the dean's gravestone]

As to Bohemia: In August 1619 the Czech diet again proclaimed the throne elective and invited a Calvinist, the elector palatinate, Frederick V, to fill it. This would be consistent with the date at which the offer to Dean Umphrey was made by a Protestant Party in Bohemia, and follows his death in 1614. Frederick, the 'winter's king', fled, followed by many of the magnates, abandoning the country to Ferdinand, who had become emperor in August 1619, and to the Jesuits.

On a recent visit to my sister Mrs Diana Daniell, she requested that I would look carefully at a portrait that she had received many years ago from the Tyndale family. Always interested, I lifted it down from the wall and read carefully from the back:

This portrait, believed at one time to be that of an unidentifiable STAFFORD [a family married into the Tyndale family in Henry VIII and Mary and Elizabeth Ist] is more probably (auctore Mr Adams of the National Portrait Gallery) that of FREDERICK V, King of Bohemia, Elector Palatinate of the Rhine, K.G. 1612, who married 1623 Elizabeth, daughter of KING JAMES I, and was the grandfather of KING GEORGE I. Thus ends this regal tale!

Those Tyndales most closely involved:

relevant portion of Tyndale family tree

Sir William Tyndale mortgaged the Manor of Deene in 1483, the family having lived there since 1376. The Manor was 'for the sum of cccl bargained and sold to Henry Collet citizen and alderman of London the Manor of Dene (and Kirby).' Collet later returned Dene to William. It was then sold to the Blackwalls, passed on to the Littons, and finally came into the possession of the family of Brudenells (Brudnells, Brutnells) on Jan 18, 1515, and remains to this day.

Occupancy of the Manor of Deen by the Tyndales (Tendals, Tindales, Tindalls): After the decease of Henry de Deen, Catherine his relict married John de Tendale. On the death of Catherine, Clement de Dene, son and heir of the said Henry ... gave up all his right and claim to Dene to John Tendell and his heirs in 1385. Successor to John Tyndale was John Tyndale Esq, in possession of Dene in 1398. In 1414 Richard Tyndale inherited, but he died in 1416 leaving the manor to his brother William. In 1427 his son Thomas in turn succeded him; in 1451 Sir William Tyndale (of Hockwold) was Thomas's heir and successor, the last Tyndale to own the Manor of Deen, after occupying it for sixty-six years.

[Bridges VOL II, History and Antiquity of Northamptonshire. CORBY HUNDRED, pages 300 & 301]

© Tony Tyndale