One of my 12th-great-grandmothers was Anne Bray nee Vaux (1550 – 1619), daughter of Thomas Vaux (1509–1556) and Elizabeth Vaux nee Cheney (1505 – 1556).
In 1556, when she was about six, Anne’s parents died: Thomas in October and Elizabeth in the following month, possibly from the plague. Her brother William was then 21, and sister Maud about 17.
The Vaux enjoyed considerable wealth. Their estate, Harrowden Hall in Northamptonshire, was
… a household of almost fifty people that included grooms, laundresses, the cook, the baker, an embroiderer, the chaplain and the steward. An account book survives for the year of [the birth of Anne’s brother William in 1535 showing] payments for a birdcage, soap, swaddling and, on 14 August, five shillings to buy ale for the nurse.
(Harrowden Hall was rebuilt in 1719; the Tudor house does not survive.)
After her parents died Anne would have been placed in another household.
About 1568 Anne Vaux married Reginald (or Reynold) Bray (1539 – 1583), the fifth and youngest son of Reginald Bray and Anne, daughter and heiress of Richard Monington of Barrington in Gloucester. Three of Reginald’s older brothers died without issue. His brother Edmund inherited the estate of Barrington; the estate at Steyne (Stean) and Hinton in Northamptonshire was settled on Reginald.
Reginald, aged about 44, died in October 1583 and was buried at Hinton in the Hedges.
Anne and Reginald had one son, William, who died in his father’s lifetime aged about 7. They had five daughters, all Reginald’s coheirs:
- Mary, born about 1569. On 16 August 1586 at Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire, she married Sir William Sandys (c 1562 – 1641) of Fladbury, Worcestershire. She appears to have died by 1597 about the time of his second marriage, to Margaret Culpepper. She appears not to have had children.
- Anne, born about 1573; she was later the wife of John Sotherton (1562 – 1631), a judge and later a Baron of the Exchequer. John Sotherton married two more times and had two sons and a number of daughters. Anne was possibly the mother of one or more of these children. Anne had died by 1602..
- Alice, born about 1577. In 1592 she married Nicholas Eveleigh, a lawyer. Nicholas Eveleigh died aged 56 in 1618 when the Chagford Stannary Courthouse collapsed killing him, two of his clerks and seven others, also leaving a further 17 injured. She secondly married Elize (Ellis) Hele, a lawyer and philanthropist who died in 1635. The trust from his will was used to found a number of schools including Pympton Grammar School. Alice died on 20 June 1635, probably childless. She and her second husband are buried at Exeter Cathedral. There is a monument to both of her husbands at Bovey Tracey Church.
- Temperance, born about 1580. She married Thomas Crew, a politician.
- Margery, born about 1581. She married Francis Ingoldsby of Boughton and they had a son John.
The Vaux family of Harrowden were a notable Catholic family. Anne’s brother William, 3rd Baron Vaux of Harrowden ( 1535 – 1595), was several times convicted of recusancy during the reign of Elizabeth I. He was committed to the Fleet Prison by the Privy Council, and afterwards was tried in the Star Chamber on 15 February 1581 along with his brother-in-law Sir Thomas Tresham for harbouring the Jesuit Edmund Campion and contempt of court. He was sentenced to imprisonment in the Fleet and a fine of £1,000 (about £263,000 as of 2018).
Anne and her sister Maud however appear to have married Protestants.
Maud (abt 1539 – abt 1581) married Anthony Burgh / Burroughs / Burrows of Burrow on the Hill, Leicestershire. Following Maud’s death, her daughter Frances (abt 1576 – 1637) went to live with her cousin, Eleanor Brooksby nee Vaux, the widowed daughter of Maud’s brother William. Eleanor raised Frances as a Catholic. In about 1595 Frances joined the Canonesses Regular of the Lateran at Louvain in Belgium. According to one history of these Lateran Canonesses, as a child Frances was taken to with her family to attend ‘heretical’ (Protestant) services on Sundays and holy days, but during them regularly fell asleep, a sure sign of her firm commitment to Catholic orthodoxy.
That Anne Bray nee Vaux named one of her daughters Temperance is clearly a mark of her Protestant Puritan leanings. Thomas Crew, Temperance’s husband, was noted for his strong Puritan convictions.
Anne Bray died on 7 May 1619 at the age of 69. She was buried on 12 May at Hinton in the Hedges, Northamptonshire. A plaque in the chancel features the arms of Bray (Ar. a chevron between three eagle’s legs erased a la cuisse S. armed G.) and the arms of Vaux (impaling chequy Ar. & G. on a chevron Az. three roses O.) and the following text:
HERE LYES BURIED REYNOLD BRAY LATE OF
STEANE IN THE COUNTY OF NORTH. ESQ. AND
ANNE HIS WYFE, THE ONE, A YONGER SON OF REYNOLD
BRAYE THAT WAS BROTHER TO EDMOND LORD BRAY
AND THE OTHER A DAUGHTER OF THOMAS LORD VAUX
OF HARROWDON: THEY HAD ISSUE ONE SON NAMED
WILL’M THAT DIED OF THE AGE OF 7 YEARS, AND
5 DAUGHTERS. VIZ. MARY MARRYED TO WILL’m SAND
ESQUIER, ANNE MARRYED TO JOHN SOTHERTON ESQUIER
ALICE MARRYED FIRST TO NICHOLAS EVELEGH
ESQUIER AND AFTER HIS DEATH TO ELLIS HELE
ESQUIER, TEMPERANCE MARRIED TO THOMAS CREWE
ESQUIER, & MARGERY MARRIED TO FRANCIS
IN’COLDSBY ESQUIER. THE SAID REYNOLD DIED Ye
28th OF OCTOBER THE 25th OF ELIZABETH ABOUT
THE AGE OF 44 YEARES. AND THE SAID ANNE
DIED 7th OF MAY 17 JAC: ABOUT THE AGE OF 77
YEARES : AND THEY BOTH ARE NOW AT REST IN THE LORD.
The arms of Bray (Ar. a chevron between three eagle’s legs erased a la cuisse S. armed G.) and the arms of Vaux (impaling chequy Ar. & G. on a chevron Az. three roses O.) Bray arms by Wikimedia commons user Lobsterthermidor [CC BY-SA 3.0], retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. Vaux arms generated using Drawshield https://drawshield.net/create/index.html