Monday, June 09, 2008

Medieval soldiers

A new database was mentioned on the Forum at the end of May - The Soldier in later Medieval England, which covers the period between 1369 and 1453. I didn’t expect to find any Parrys in it (and I didn’t), since these dates are before the name developed as a surname.

However, it does have 5 ap Harr(y/i) and 9 ap Henry entries, as well as other names which are possibly early variations (such as ap Herry) or that researchers have contacted me about (like Appenreth). Most Parry families will have started through an “ap Harry” and amongst the progenitors of the Golden Valley Herefordshire family are John ap Harry, and his brother Thomas, who are reputed to have fought at Agincourt. I already knew that a Thomas ap Henry and a John ap Henry are listed in Anne Curry’s book about Agincourt, as having taken out indentures to serve on the 1415 campaign. But here I find that, in 1415, a Thomas ap Harri and a John ap Harry both appear on a list as “sick”. There is then both a Thomas and a Henry ap Harry fighting under Edmund, Earl of March, in 1417, and a Thomas ap Harry under Richard, Duke of York, in 1441.

Of the ap Henrys, a David, two Jeuans, a Gwilym and a Ricard, were all under the command of John ap Rys et al, in 1415. A David and a Jeuan were also listed as sick. Then, in 1441, a Davy fought under Sir Lewis John, and a Philip under Henry Bourchier, Count of Eu. In the 1415 campaign, there was also an archer, John ap Herry, listed under the command of Griffith ap Jeuan Iscoid. This is notable because the John from the Golden Valley family was occasionally listed as “ap Herry”, but, since he was sheriff of Herefordshire around 1400, I imagine he is unlikely to be fighting as an archer in 1415.

I noticed a (probably irrelevant) fact, that all of the ap Harrys were men-at-arms whereas the ap Henry entries are all just archers (or “archer foot”). That some individuals do appear as men-at-arms is itself a promising sign, given that the Parrys from the Golden Valley were armigerous. But it is clear that more information will be needed to make sense of the various entries. Thomas ap Harry was supposedly killed at Agincourt (according to various Golden Valley pedigrees) so there are probably many people of the same names. The project details do mention that the research team will be linking records and building up career profiles, although such details does not appear to be accessible through the web site. This is something I will need to enquire about – I certainly don’t have the experience and knowledge to work on these records, even if I did access the originals.

The results generally are very interesting to browse through – one gets some idea of why names such as Powell are more common than Parry nowadays, of how many Welsh soldiers were involved in the armies, and also some idea of the differences in frequencies of particular names in England and Wales (eg there are 30 Harrys to only 4 ap Harrys, whereas there are 37 Howells, but 88 ap, or “appe”, Howells.)

I just hope that further information will be obtainable on the ap Harry/Henrys and also others who appear in the pedigree books as relevant in some way, such as “David Gam”, who died at Agincourt, supposedly saving Henry V’s life.

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