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a considerably earlier period than that at which Philips wrote. Now Aubrey twice sets down the name Bradshaw as that of the poet's mother, and twice appends to it the sketch of the arms of Bradshaw. Almost certainly his authority was Christopher Milton; and, if so, we should have the authority of the son for "Bradshaw" against that of the grandson for "Caston." Moreover, Wood adopts Aubrey's account, and Wood was a man who set down nothing hastily. Altogether, whatever connection there may have been, in fact as well as in Philips's head, with a family of Castons, the evidence seems decisive that the poet's mother was a Bradshaw.
All the Bradshaws in England prior to the year 1647, it was the common belief of genealogists, had come of one stock-that of Sir John Bradshaw, of Bradshaw in Lancashire, a Saxon landowner, who was repossessed after the Conquest. The arms of these original Bradshaws of Bradshaw were, "Argent, two bends sable," exactly as in Aubrey's sketch of the arms of Milton's mother, unless the bends there are bendlets. But from this main stock there had been many ramifications. Chief of these were the Bradshaws or Bradshaighs, of Haigh in Lancashire, respecting whom the legend was that they had issued from the marriage of a younger Bradshaw in the Crusading times with the heiress of Haigh. The arms of these Bradshaws (who remained zealous Catholics till the reign of Charles I.) were those of the original Bradshaws with a difference, being "Argent, two bendlets between three martlets sable;" but this difference, it appears, as well as the name Bradshaigh for Bradshaw, had been assumed first about 1568. Besides these Bradshaws or Bradshaighs of Haigh, there were the Bradshaws of Wendley in Derbyshire, the Bradshaws of Marple in Cheshire, and still other families of Bradshaws in Cheshire, Leicestershire, etc.
The known friendship that there was between Milton and the famous President Bradshaw, has led to the belief of some relationship between the poet and the line of Cheshire Bradshaws of whom the President was born in 1602, and who in 1606 became Bradshaws of Marple. There is, however, a difference in the traditional arms of these Cheshire Bradshaws as compared with those assigned by Aubrey to the poet's mother; nor would it be easy to find a
1 Aubrey all but says that Christopher Milton was his authority for this particular fact. In the very same line of the MS. where he has written "His mother was a Bradshaw," he writes, a little way off on the paper, the
words "Xpher Milton [his broth. Inner Temple] Bencher." Godwin, in his reprint of Aubrey's life, runs the two jottings together, as if the second were the appended authentication of the first. Perhaps it is.
place for the necessary link in. the pedigree of the Marple family as far as that has been investigated.' The difficulties would be greater with most of the other known lines of Bradshaws. On the whole-except for some reasons which point vaguely to the possibility of an unascertained connection with the Bradshaws of Haigh, at a point of their history prior to the assumption of the same Bradshaigh and the difference of martlets in the family shield we must be content with imagining a connection with yet unknown Bradshaws in Lancashire or elsewhere, purporting to be directly descended from the original stock. "Argent, two bends sable," are the arms of still existing Bradshaws in Lancashire and Kent; and one family of Bradshaws in Lancashire - that of Darcy Lever-bears arms, "Argent, two bendlets sable." There may have been Bradshaws in London about 1600, living plainly enough and yet claiming those arms.3
Bradshaw or not, Milton's mother appears to have been a very suitable wife for the prosperous scrivener. She may have been considerably younger than her husband, but in one respect he had the advantage of her. His sight, as Aubrey has told us, was so good that he could read without spectacles in extreme old age; but "she
1 Pedigree of the Bradshaws of Marple in Ormerod's Cheshire, III. 408.
2 Burke's Armory.
3 It may be worth while to indicate the reasons referred to in the text as vaguely suggesting the possibility of a connection with the Bradshaws of Haigh. From the later and more authentic part of the Bradshaw pedigree (Collins's Baronetage, etc.,) the following facts appear:
William Bradshaw of Haigh married Maud, daughter of Christopher Standish, of Duxbury, co. Lanc.. and died about 1539.
Roger Bradshaw, son and heir of the preceding, married Jane, daughter of Alexander (or Ralph) Standish, of Standish co. Lanc., in 1567; shortly thereafter (as I am informed) he assumed by grant, the name of Bradshaigh and the difference of martlets in the family shield; and he died in 1599, having had eight sons and five daughters. The eldest of the sons, James Bradshaigh, heir of Haigh, had married, before his father's death, Jane, sole daughter and heiress of Thomas Haughton of Haughton Tower, and had a long lawsuit with her uncles for the Haughton Tower property; and one of the daughters, Ellen Bradshaigh, married a Ralph Haughton of Kirklees, Cheshire, of the same Haughton race.
James Bradshaigh, succeeding his father in 1599, continued the main line.
The fact of interest to us in the foregoing
is the double intermarriage of Bradshaighs and Haughtons towards the end of Elizabeth's reign. Other intermarriages of Bradshaws and Haughtons are referred to in the pedigree; insomuch that, could we attach also to the pedigree the Milton ancestry with its contained conjunction of the same names, we should be entitled to say that there was for the time a natural tendency for Bradshaws and Haughtons to come together. To complete the hypothesis, we may find the point at which the link with Milton's ancestry could be most easily attached. If we suppose Milton's mother's father to have been a younger son of the William Bradshaw who stands first in the above list, we place him in circumstances where he would have Bradshaw in its old form for his name, and the Bradshaw arms without the difference. There also we should be in close contact with the name Christopher. Mr. Henry Bradshaw, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, who has conveyed this conjecture to me, with other information respecting the Bradshaw pedigree, adds: "I can readily understand how, in the reign of Charles II., when the pedigree was drawn up, younger brothers of a century or more back, who had perhaps gone to London and lost sight of their relations or turned Puritan [the main stem continuing Catholics], came to be omitted." All, however, is conjecture.
had very weak eyes, and used spectacles presently after she was thirty years old." The poet speaks of her, as "a most excellent mother, and particularly known for her charities in the neighborhood (matre probatissimâ et eleemosynis per viciniam potissimùm notú.) "1
To the worthy pair, thus wedded in or about 1600, there were born, in the course of the next fifteen years, six children, as follows:
1. A "chrisom child”—i. e. a child who died before it could be baptized,2 – respecting whom there is this entry in the Register of Allhallows, Bread-Street: "The 12th of May A° 1601 was buried a Crysome Child of Mr. John Mylton's of this parish, scrivenor.” 3
2. Anne, the register of whose baptism has not been found, but who may be supposed to have been born between 1602 and 1607.
3. John, born Dec. 9, 1608, and baptized Dec. 20, as appears from the Allhallows Register: "The 20th daye of December 1608 was baptized John, the sonne of John Mylton, scrivenor."
4. Sarah, baptized at Allhallows July 15, 1612, and buried there Aug. 16 in the same year.
5. Tabitha, baptized in the same place Jan. 30, 1613-14, and buried elsewhere at the age of two years and six months.
6. Christopher, baptized at Allhallows Dec. 3, 1615.*
By the death of three of these children in infancy the family of the scrivener and his wife was reduced to three-a daughter Anne, the eldest, and two sons, John and Christopher. The poet, therefore, grew up with one sister and one brother; the sister several years older than himself, and the brother exactly seven years younger.5
1 Defensio Secunda: Works, VI. 286.
2 "The chrisom' was a white vesture which in former times the priest used to put upon the child at baptism. The first Common Prayer Book of King Edward orders that the woman shall offer the chrisom when she comes to be churched; but if the child happened to die before her churching, she was excused from offering it, and it was customary to use it as the shroud in which the child was buried." Properly, therefore, a "chrysom child" was one that died, after baptism, before the churching of the mother; but the term had come in practice to mean a child that died before baptism. (See Hook's Church Dictionary.)
3 This entry, it will be seen, proves that the elder Milton was in business as a scrivener in or near Bread-street, if not in the SpreadEagle, as early as 1601.
4 The date of Tabitha's death is from the Pedigree of Milton by Sir Charles Young,
Garter King. As usual, Philips makes an error in his account of the number of the scrivener's children. He says, "three he had and no more," whereas there were six, of whom three died in infancy. It is possible there were others who also died early.
5 In this chapter I have been purposely excursive in discussing the poet's pedigree, in the hope that, by multiplying indications to the utmost, I may make farther information possible. From the position in life of the poet's father and mother, I expect more from examination of wills than from search in Herald's Visitations and the like. I have myself turned over many wills of Miltons, Jeffreys, Haughtons and Bradshaws, at Oxford and at Doctors' Commons; but lucky hits may be made by others. A search in a Registry of Wills is like fishing - twenty throws for one bite; and at Doctors' Commons it costs a shilling a throw.
THE SPREAD-EAGLE, BREAD-STREET, OLD LONDON.
In vain now will the enthusiast in Milton step out of the throng of Cheapside and walk down Bread-street, to find remaining traces of the house where Milton was born. The Great Fire of 1666 destroyed this with so many other of the antiquities of old London. Bread-street, indeed, stands almost exactly in the centre of the space over which the Fire extended. Nevertheless, as the city was rebuilt after the Fire with as strict attention to the old sites as the surveyor's art of that day could ensure, the present Bread-street occupies relatively the same position in the map of London as the old one did. Exactly where the present Bread-street strikes off from the present Cheapside did old Bread-street strike off from old Cheapside; and, allowing for recent improvements, with the same arrangement of streets right and left, north and south. If, therefore, nothing of the material fabric of the house where Milton was born, nor of the objects which once lay around it in that spot, now remains, at least the ghosts of the old tenements still hang in the air, and may be discerned by the eye of vision.
Till lately, more remained. Describing Bread-street as it was in 1720, or more than fifty years after the Fire, Strype1 enumerates several courts in it, and among these, one called "Black SpreadEagle Court." It was the first court on the left, going from Cheapside. He describes it as "small, but with a free-stone pavement, and having a very good house at the upper end." The information is repeated in the last edition of his work in 1754; and in the map of Bread-street Ward in that edition, "Black Spread-Eagle Court" is very distinctly marked. There can be no doubt that this "Black Spread-Eagle Court" was a commemoration of the house which had been occupied by Milton's father. We know, from Aubrey, that the house had acquired celebrity as the poet's birth-place while he was yet alive, and that foreigners used to go
1 Strype's Stow: 1720.
and see it up to the very year of the Fire; and it is not likely that, when Bread-street was re-built, the honor of the name was transferred to another spot. The court itself remains -the first on the left hand going from Cheapside, and at the depth of three houses back from that thoroughfare. It no longer, however, bears any name. -neither "Black Spread-Eagle Court" nor any other; the warehousing firms who occupy it not finding any such name necessary to ensure the safe delivery of their goods and letters. The name probably fell out of use soon after 1766, when the house-signs were taken down over London, and houses began to be designated by numbers. Walk down Bread-street, therefore, on the left hand from Cheapside; single out the now anonymous little court which lies at the depth of three houses from that thoroughfare; realize that as having been Strype's "Black Spread-Eagle Court" of 1720 and 1754; and then again demolish in imagination this little "Black SpreadEagle Court," and rear in its room an edifice chiefly of wood and plaster; finally, fancy this house with its gable end to the street, ranging with others of similar form and materials on one side, and facing others of similar form and materials opposite; and you have the old Spread-Eagle in which Milton was born as vividly before you as it is ever likely to be!
This house, as we have said, was as much in the heart of the London of that day as the houses in the same site are in the heart of the London of this. The only difference is that, whereas the population of London now exceeds two millions, it was then perhaps not more than 200,000 souls. The future poet, then, was not only a Londoner, like his predecessors Chaucer and Spencer, but a Londoner of the innermost circle, a child of the very heart of Cockaigne. Bow Church stood at the back of Spread-Eagle, and so close that, had the famous bells fallen, they might have crushed the infant in his cradle. This circumstance is to be distinctly conceived. A great part of the education of every child consists of those impressions, visual and other, which the senses of the little being are taking in busily though unconsciously amid the scenes of their first exercise; and though all sorts of men are born in all sorts of places-poets in towns, and prosaic men amid fields and woody solitudes-yet, consistently with this, it is also true that much of the original capital on which all men trade intellectually through life consists of that mass of miscellaneous fact and imagery which they have acquired imperceptibly by the observations of their early
1 In 1603 the population of London was estimated at little over 150,000, which I sus
pect was under the truth. (See Cunningham's Handbook of London, p. xxiv.)