Genealogy of Thomas Fitzhugh of Walcot.
Manuscript, England, c.1600.


Three rolls on vellum, first separate, second and third detaching, I) 82.6x22cm and II+III) 129x22cm. English secretary hand. Genealogical diagrams decorated with 18 coats of arms in gold, red, blue and black, roundels bordered green, linked by red lines, five roundels in black ink in a contemporary hand added to II and III. Four small holes to corners made to attach the roll to a wooden support or hang on the wall, some marginal dust-soiling and dampstaining, heavier at head and foot, rare marginal foxing, lightly rubbed in a few places, minor loss to lower outer blank corner of III. I) Later inked inscription to upper left corner ‘Abbey of [Charity] [i.e., Jervaulx] in the Deanery of Catterick in the Archdeaconry of Richmond. Vide Tanner Not[itia] Monast[ica]’ (1744), a few inked and pencilled marginal inscriptions in a contemporary and later hand, shelfmark ‘Phillips MS 26561’ at rear; III) later pencilled inscriptions at foot.

Handsomely illuminated armorial pedigree roll c.1600 of the recusant Thomas Fitzhugh (c.1569-1613) of Walcot, Oxfordshire; the strong heraldic colours have retained their freshness. The handwriting points to a period of production no later than the turn of the C17—between c.1600, when he married Elizabeth Cromwell, and 1613, the year of his death. The Fitzhughs of Walcot were related to the Throckmorton family and to Robert Catesby, a
supporter of the Essex rebellion of 1601, executed as a traitor in the aftermath of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, in which the Throckmortons were also implicated.

The pedigree begins with the origins of another branch: that of the Barons Fitzhugh of Ravensworth, North Riding of Yorkshire. The first ancestor is Akarius Fitz Bardolph, Lord Ravensworth, an early Norman settler who donated money for the foundation of Jervaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, and who was the first to bear the Fitzhugh baronial arms in the earliest days of English heraldry (az. three chevronels in base or, and chief of the second). In the first two rolls the pedigree traces the fortune of the family from Henry Fitzhugh (d.1356), 1st Baron, ending with George, 7th Baron, after whose death in 1521 the line became extinct.

On the third membrane is the first ancestor who does not belong to the baronial line: Thomas Fitzhugh of Beggary, Bedfordshire, great-grandfather to Thomas of Walcot; his roundel is situated to the left of Richard, 6th Baron, and no information is provided on his origins. His grandson, Richard (1544-1602), sold Beggary and purchased Walcot, Oxfordshire, in 1572. A contemporary hand added roundels and annotations highlighting Thomas of Beggary’s (and that of his Walcot descendants) alleged connection with the Barons. First, the annotator sketched two roundels showing Thomas of Beggary’s descent from Geoffrey (1406-36), son of the 4th Baron, through the latter’s son Nicholas and grandson Richard. Second, he penned some information on Elizabeth Fitzhugh, daughter of the 5th Baron and wife of the great-grandfather of Richard’s wife, Elizabeth Gifford. Elizabeth Gifford was the Walcot Fitzhughs’ recorded and soundest, albeit feeble, link to the Barons’ arms, first quartered with those of the Bedfordshire Fitzhughs by Thomas of Walcot’s grandfather, Richard. Their retroactive attribution to Thomas of Beggary is justified on the basis of his patrilineal kinship to the Barons, of which, however, we have not found evidence. The pedigree traced the line of the Walcot Fitzhughs to that of the Barons, probably to uplift Thomas’s heritage in light of his union with Elizabeth, daughter of Edward, 3rd Baron Cromwell. The end of the genealogy, which shows the ‘impaled’ arms of Thomas of Walcot and Elizabeth Cromwell, suggests it was completed around the time of their wedding.

The roll was the work of a skilled professional heraldic artist. The holes on the corners show that, as was most frequent with such genealogies, the roll was originally hung for display.

The provenance can be traced to the library of Sir Thomas Phillips (1792-1872), 1st Baronet, an antiquary who owned 40,000 printed books and 60,000 early mss. The roll is not listed in the catalogue edited by Munby which only includes the c.24,000 purchases to 1871, this manuscript being n. 26561.

H.A. Fitzhugh and T.V.H. Fitzhugh, The History of the Fitzhugh Family (Bloomington, 2007); T.V.H. Fitzhugh, Fitzhugh: The Story of a Family through Six Centuries (Ottershaw, 2001).


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