The Clopton Chronicles

A Project of the Clopton Family Genealogical Society




Two Hundred Men in Velvet





Mary Clopton, of Fore Hall & Her Husband

William Cordell, of Melford Hall

& An Amazing Cast of

Assorted Clopton Cousins


By Suellen Clopton Blanton,[1]




A Stately Progress


As I heard there were 200 young gentlemen

clad all in white velvet,

and 300 of the graver sort

apparrelled in black velvet coats



Clopton kinsman, Henry VIII, was in an absolute snit because the Pope did not approve of his attitude toward the sacred vows of marriage.  The King began to systematically dismantle the great wealth of the Catholic Church by closing and confiscating all the religious houses within his domain.  In April 1536, in the twenty seventh year of his reign, and a month before he was to take wife number three, more than 800 religious houses existed throughout England and Wales.  There were within them 10,000 monks, canons, nuns and friars.  By April 1540 there were none.[2]  One of the casualties of the Dissolution of the Monasteries was the Benedictine Abbey of St. Edmundsbury, in Long Melford.

William Cordell, a highly successful lawyer, was the son of John Cordell,[3] a merchant from Edmonton in Middlesex who moved to Long Melford.  He married Mary Clopton, of Fore Hall, the only child of Richard Clopton and his first wife, Mary Bozun.[4]




Fore Hall, now called Ford Hall, the home of Mary Clopton and her nine siblings.  Located just outside the village of Long Melford, the Hall is privately owned but may be viewed from a public walking path.  The beautiful timber framed house dates from the late fifteenth century.  Mary’s uncle, Francis, the eldest son, inherited nearby Kentwell Hall.



The Cloptons were considered above him on the social scale.  Mary’s father was not the son and heir, and their home, Fore Hall,[5] is very modest indeed compared to the magnificent Kentwell Hall.  William Cordell’s money and growing influence at Court more than made up for the deficiencies in his background.  The economic adjustments after the Black Death[6] may have accelerated the process by which successful merchant families ascended, usually by degrees, to the lower aristocracy through acquisition of property, fortunate marriage, or service to the king or a great lord in peace or war.  Money alone would not gain entry into the ranks of knights and gentry.[7]




Lady Mary Cordell



When King Henry dissolved the religious houses, all their lands were surrendered to the Crown, including St. Edmundsbury.  Mary Tudor, Henry’s daughter by wife number one, Catherine of Aragon, ascended the throne in 1553, and, on November 26, 1554, by letters patent the manor of Melford was granted to William Cordell in recognition of his “past good, true, faithful and acceptable service.” [8]  By 1558 he was a member of Parliament for Suffolk and became Speaker of the House of Commons under Queen Mary, better known in history as “Bloody Mary.”[9]

Mary suffered an appalling childhood.  Her father separated her from her mother and forbid her to ever see her mother again.  She was declared illegitimate by Act of Parliament.  She was a devout Catholic.  As Queen, she once again restored Catholicism as the official religion of England.  When she announced her plans to marry her cousin, heir to the Spanish throne, and also a Catholic, rebellions broke out throughout England.  She ordered hundreds of executions in her efforts to enforce the wholesale conversion of England to Catholicism.

Queen Mary’s half-sister, Elizabeth Tudor, daughter of wife number two, Anne Boleyn, was more popular than Mary for obvious reasons.  Mary lost no time in making Princess Elizabeth’s life miserable when their father died and Mary became queen.  Queen Mary had her imprisoned for eight weeks in the Tower of London, suspecting that she might be attempting a coup.  The Tower was a particularly cruel choice.  Elizabeth hated the Tower where her mother and other loved ones had died violently.  But the Queen had no evidence to send Elizabeth to trial and no justification for confining her.  Elizabeth was banished to Woodstock, County Oxfordshire, where she would stay for ten months, a prisoner, during which time Queen Mary married Phillip II, of Spain.  The sisters did achieve a sort of reconciliation, and as she lay dying Queen Mary agreed that only Elizabeth could succeed her.




Sir William Cordell



When Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1558, she found England in a sad state due to her half-sister's cruel attempts to Catholicize the people.  She in turn spent her reign making life miserable for the Catholics.[10]  She was considered intelligent and loved jewels and beautiful clothes.  She established the Anglican Church and became sovereign as its head.  During her reign England began in earnest to colonize the New World.  Walter Raleigh founded the first Virginia colony, Drake circumnavigated the globe, and the East India Company was founded.  Elizabeth was known as the “Virgin Queen,” although she enjoyed dozens of liaisons.  She is considered possibly the most influential sovereign England has ever known.

Surprisingly, William Cordell remained in the good graces of Queen Elizabeth.  He was one of only a handful of Queen Mary’s officeholders who remained at his post following Queen Mary’s death.  He was to become Solicitor General and Master of the Rolls under Queen Elizabeth.  He was also High Steward for Ipswich.




Melford Hall



                Queen Elizabeth undertook twenty-five “progresses” through her kingdom, usually during the months of July and August when the hot and steamy weather played excellent host to plagues in London.  These holidays represented a rest from the usual court routines, and offered an opportunity for her to meet her people to win their hearts and assure their loyalty.  In August of 1578, she chose to descend in all her glory on Long Melford. 

                Sir William and Lady Mary, the Queen’s kinswoman,[11] threw an extravagant reception.  Thomas Churchyard, a contemporary writer of poetry and prose, left a much quoted eyewitness account of her arrival at the Suffolk border. [12]


To write of the receiving of Her Highness into Suffolk and Norfolk in every point as matter may move me, would contain a great time in making a just rehearsal thereof:  Therefore I will but briefly recite it and commit the circumstances and manner of the same to your discretion and judgement.  The truth is, although they had small warning certainly to build upon, of the coming of the Queen’s Majesty into both of those shires, the Gentlemen had made such ready provision, that all the velvets and silks were taken up that might be laid hands on, and bought for any money, and soon converted to such garments and suits of robes, that the show thereof might have beautified the greatest triumph that was in England these many years.

As I heard there were 200 young gentlemen clad all in white velvet, and 300 of the graver sort apparrelled in black velvet coats and with fair chains, all ready at one instant and place, to receive the Queen’s Highness into Suffolk: a comely troop and a noble sight to behold.  All these waited on the Sheriff Sir William Spring, and there was in Suffolk such sumptuous feastings and banquets as seldom in any part of the world there hath been seen before.  The Master of the Rolls, Sir William Cordell, was the first that began this great feasting at his house of Melford, and did light such a candle to the rest of the shire, that they were glad bountiful and frankly to follow the same example, with such charges and costs as the whole train were in some sort pleased therewith.



The Goodness of an Almighty God


He acknowledged his wealth, which had exceeded

any of his ancestors, was due to the goodness of Almighty God

and not because he deserved it.



                Although the couple were blessed in many ways, their four children all died young.  Three years after he had so lavishly entertained the Queen, Sir William died and was laid in a spectacular tomb. 




The effigy in Holy Trinity Church shows Sir William not as a lawyer, but as a knight-at-arms with a cockatrice at his feet.  Four female figures represent Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance.  The Greek god Bacchus appears on the canopy above.  His will, made in January 1580, shows him to be a deeply religious man and also humble.  He acknowledged his wealth, which had exceeded any of his ancestors, was due to the goodness of Almighty God and not because he deserved it.






Lady Mary died three years later and left to her brother, William Clopton of Groton, “my bason and ewer of silver p’cell guilt, for a remembrance of my good will unto him.”  She lies buried with her husband under the imposing canopied monument to the south of the altar.

Because they left no heirs to inherit Melford Hall and his brothers died without issue, Sir William’s sister, Lady Jane, the widow of Sir Richard Alington, inherited the great house, which they had so lavishly rebuilt.



The Passion of Christ


“If I had thought there had been the least sin in the Plot

I would not have been of it for all the world,

and no other cause drew me to hazard my life

but zeal to God’s religion”[13]



Not all these little progresses had a happy ending.  On August 10, 1578 or 79, Queen Elizabeth was once again the guest of Clopton descendants, this time at Euston Hall, the Suffolk home of the Rookwood family.[14]  During the visit someone found a statue of the Virgin Mary in the house, which was shown to the Elizabeth.  The Rookwoods, an old County Suffolk family whose members had frequently represented Suffolk in Parliament, were staunch Catholics, a fact known by all.[15]  But in high form, the offended Queen ordered it burnt, “to the unspeakable joy of everyone.”  At the end of the visit she left graciously.  Later she had Edward Rookwood,[16] Lord of the Manor, arrested and imprisoned until his death ten years later.[17]  For good measure, his estates were declared forfeit to the Crown.  It is little wonder then, that a few years later Edward’s cousin, Ambrose Rookwood, would become embroiled in an infamous plot to kill a king and blow up Parliament.

Possibly it would be instructive at this point to briefly review the history of the various and sundry English religious upheavals.  The Roman Catholic Church was in until Henry VIII established the Church of England.  When Henry died, his daughter, Mary I, “Bloody Mary,” re-established the Catholic Church, reinstating its political power and authority, and those who supported the Church of England were out.  When she died her half sister, Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen” who wasn’t, declared the Church of England as the official religion of the Crown and the Catholics were out again.  Following her death, her cousin, James I ascended the Throne, and he was Presbyterian.  Now everyone was confused and everyone jockeyed for attention.  To his credit he attempted to please everyone, including the Puritans who were now on the scene and clamoring for recognition.  It didn’t work, and by 1642, when his son, Charles I was King, England found itself in a full blown Civil War, but that is another story for another time.[18]

                Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 childless if not chaste, and her cousin, James I, who was then King of Scotland, claimed the English throne.[19]  His attitude toward religion was fairly tolerant, at least for a while.  Both the Catholics and the Puritans hoped for his support.  But the truce was uneasy and brief.   After he reintroduced the Catholic recusancy[20] laws, penalties for not attending Church of England services, the gloves came off and several attempts were made against his life.  None was more famous than what history has dubbed, the Gunpowder Plot.  It was Clopton kinsmen against Clopton kinsmen and would become the stuff of legends.

                A group of disgruntled gentlemen[21] hatched a scheme which would, they hoped, lead to the acceptance of the Roman Catholic Church once again as the One True Faith in England.  The plan was simple:  they would blow up Parliament, kill King James, Queen Anne, and their son, eleven year old Prince Henry.  In the chaos, the Catholics would seize the moment.  They would rise up throughout the land, righteously brandishing weapons, prayer books and beads, and retake the power that was Divinely theirs.[22]  And it almost worked.  The plan was to store gunpowder and other supplies at the home of Robert Catesby, a veteran of conspiracy games.[23]

                One of the conspirators, Robert Keyes, was first cousin to the beautiful Elizabeth Tyrrwhitt,[24] who was married, conveniently, to the wealthy young Catholic, Ambrose Rookwood. [25]  Ambrose inherited Coldham Hall when his father died.   He and Elizabeth promptly proceeded to make the house “a common refuge for priests” as it was in his father’s day.[26]  He was handsome but short.  He had a taste for extravagant, showy clothes and was generally rated a dandy.    He was considerably proud of his “fair scarf” with figures and ciphers upon it and his “Hungarian horseman’s coat” entirely lined with velvet.

                  The innocent Ambrose was approached in 1604 and asked to purchase some gunpowder for the use of an English regiment in Flanders.  This he did.[27]  After religion and dashing clothes, Ambrose’s great passion was horses.  It was his celebrated stable of horses at Coldham Hall that made Keyes and Catesby pursue him.  When Parliament was brought low by the planned explosion, it would be necessary to have someone relay word of the success to Catesby, who would be waiting at a distance to rally the Catholic faithful to arms. 

At Michaelmas[28] – September 29, 1605 – Ambrose was let in on the plot.  Although he professed to be shocked at first, the golden boy who would dare anything for “a cause that was good,” was brought into the inner circle of the conspirators.  Innocent no more, he threw himself with great enthusiasm into the fray.[29]

To be closer to the action, Ambrose rented Clopton Manor,[30] one of the homes of George Carew, Baron Carew of Clopton and Earl of Totnes, and his wife, Joyce Clopton.  He took up residence there soon after learning of the plot.  He brought with him two chalices, several crucifixes, vestments with colors for various feasts of the church (red for martyrdom and black for a Requiem Mass), Latin books and ‘praying beads,” rosaries made of bone.  To conceal this he had constructed, in record time, a large cellar stretching under the garden which could be reached by an underground passage.

            The plot thickened, and on October 30 Guy Fawkes, who had agreed to fire the gunpowder, inspected the cellar in Westminster and was satisfied.  Ambrose, honestly believing he was entering upon a sacred crusade for the Glory of God, traveled down from Clopton Manor and joined his wife’s cousin, Robert Keys at his London lodging.  John Craddock a cutler from the Strand, brought Ambrose a fine sword engraved with the words ‘The Passion of Christ’ upon them, with which he was to defend himself.



A Traitor’s Reward


For which cause also he shall be strangled,

being hanged up by the neck between heaven and earth,

as deemed unworthy of both or either; as likewise,

that the eyes of men may behold, and their hearts condemn him.



                Of course too many people knew about the plot to keep it a secret, and soon word reached King James of the scheme.  Ironically, it was yet another kinsman of the Cloptons, Sir Thomas Knyvet,[31] who headed the search party of the Westminster cellar.  There they discovered around midnight on Monday November 4, a figure in a cloak and hat, booted and spurred as though for flight, and surrounded by thirty-six barrels of powder in casks and hogsheads, all primed and ready to blow.  On examining the prisoner’s garments, they found tinder and three match cords.  He immediately confessed to the crime adding that it was just as well they had found him “before the hour” as he was all ready to light the gunpowder.  Fawkes coolly passed himself off as John Johnson, a servant, a story he would cling to for the next forty eight hours.

                Upon learning of his capture, everyone except Ambrose scattered, most of them galloping madly to join Catesby.  Lord Chief Justice Sir John Popham, a ‘huge, heavy, ugly man,’ with an excessive hatred for Catholics was set in pursuit of the conspirators.  His first target was Ambrose’s Clopton Manor were his damning Papist articles were discovered.

Because he was not well known in London, Ambrose remained behind to see if he could gather more news and did not begin his flight until 11 o’clock in the morning of the 5th,  setting out on an heroic ride.  Thanks to his celebrated horsemanship and the superb quality of the horses he had arranged along the way, he managed to ride 30 miles in two hours on one horse, an astonishing achievement  He managed to overtake all the conspirators who had already left and was the first to reach Catesby, the man who had planned it all.[32] 

                The tattered and shattered band headed frantically northward for Holbeach House.[33]  They reached Holbeach in record time and may have been able to either continue their flight or at least meet their pursuers with a good show of strength except for one exhaustion induced, incredibly stupid decision.  They had some gunpowder with them that had gotten drenched with rain.  Someone decided to spread the gunpowder out in front of a fire at Holbeach  And the rest, their wits no doubt also dulled by their fatigue, stood around.  A spark flew and at last they got their explosion!  The blaze engulfed Catesby, Ambrose and John Grant.  John Grant was blinded, but Ambrose and Catesby were still in good enough condition to vow to carry on and die if necessary.  But two hundred men were closing in on Holbeach.  They never had a chance.[34]

                Ambrose was the fourth man shot – this time his famous swordsmanship could not save him.   Now he was not only scorched but wounded by musket fire.  Mortally wounded, Robert Catesby survived long enough to crawl painfully inside the house.  There he managed to find a painting of the Virgin Mary, and was clutching this in his arms as he died.  He was the lucky one.[35]

                The survivors of the shootout were taken to the Tower of London.  Later the bodies of Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy, who also died in the raid,  were dug up, and their heads cut off to display in London.  The name ‘Ambrose Rookwoode’ was etched in a wall and may still be seen in the upper Martin Tower.[36]

On Monday, January 27, 1606 Ambrose and seven of his fellow wretches were brought by barge from the Tower to the Court of Star Chamber in Westminster Hall. 

The charge were lengthy.  Basically, they were accused of traitorously conspiring to kill King James I, Queen Anne, and Prince Henry; to incite a rebellion in order to produce a “miserable slaughter in the realm;” to subvert and change government and the true worship of God established in the Realm; and also to invite foreigners to invade the Realm and make war against the King.”  They pleaded not guilty as Queen Anne, Prince Henry and King James himself listened to the proceedings from a secret place.

After the evidence was heard, each of the prisoners was allowed at last to speak if he so wished, “wherefore judgement of death should not be pronounced against them.”  Only Ambrose took this privilege.  He admitted that his offences were so dreadful that he could not expect mercy, and yet maybe there were some extenuating circumstances since he had been “neither author nor actor,” but had been drawn into the Plot by his feelings for Catesby,” whom he “loved above any worldly man.”  In the end, he craved for mercy so as not to leave “a blemish and blot unto all ages” upon his name and blood.  Kings, he helpfully noted, might imitate God who sometimes administered bodily punishments to mortals, but did not actually kill them.

Chief Justice Popham pronounced a judgment of high treason for them all.  The King, always sensitive, promised the traitors he would not exceed the customary punishment of the law for their crimes nor invent any new torture or torment for them.  How generous.  The convinced plotters thus faced no greater punishment than the one provided by law for high treason:

A drawn to the place of execution from his prison, as being not worthy any more to tread upon the face of the earth whereof he was made: also for that he hath been retrograde to nature, therefore is he drawn backward at a horse-tail. And whereas God hath made the head of man the highest and most supreme part, as being his chief grace and ornament, he must be drawn with his head declining downward, and lying so near the ground as may be, being thought unfit to take benefit of the common air.  For which cause also he shall be strangled, being hanged up by the neck between heaven and earth, as deemed unworthy of both or either; as likewise, that the eyes of men may behold, and their hearts condemn him. His bowels and inward parts taken out and burned, who inwardly had conceived and harboured in his heart such horrible treason. After, to have his head cut off, which had imagined the mischief. And lastly, his body to be quartered, and the quarters set up in some high and eminent place, to the view and detestation of men, and to become a prey for the fowls of the air.  And this is a reward due to traitors, whose hearts be hardened; for that it is a physic of state and government, to let out corrupt blood from the heart.

Four days later, on January 31, 1606, four executions were to take place in the Old Palace Yard at Westminster.  Ambrose asked to be informed when he reached his temporary lodgings in the Strand so that he might get one last glimpse of his beautiful wife.  She was watching from a window.  Straining against the ropes that bound him, he raised himself up as far as he could and cried to her “Pray for me, pray for me!”  “I will, and be of good courage,” his faithful wife shouted back.  “Offer thyself wholly to God.  I, for my part, do as freely restore thee to God as He gave thee unto me.”

On the scaffold Ambrose asked God to bless the King, the Queen and all the “royal progeny,” that they might live long “to reign in peace and happiness over this kingdom.”  At the very last, Ambrose couldn’t resist, and added, to the astonishment of the crowd, that he besought God to make the King a Catholic!  His little speech did secure him a long hanging, and he was cut down almost as he breathed his last breath.  A great kindness.[37]

                In a stunning display of either generosity or short term memory loss, Ambrose’s eldest son, Robert, was knighted by James I in 1624.




        1.  Richard12 Clopton, Gent, of Fore Hall Long Melford  (William11, John10, William9, Thomas8, Walter7, William6, Walter5, William4, Walter3, William2, Guillaume1 Peche, Lord Of Cloptunna and Dalham)1 was born in Long Melford, County Suffolk, probably, about 3 miles northwest of Sudbury and 10 miles south of Bury St. Edmunds, and probably baptized at Holy Trinity Church, and died Bef. November 28, 1615 in Fore Hall, Long Melford, probably,  and buried Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford2.  He married (1) Margaret Playters, of Sotterley, Suffolk3, daughter of William Playters and Jane Jenney.  She was born in Sotterley, County Suffolk, probably, about 5 miles southeast of Beccles and about 24 miles northeast of Clopton, Suffolk, and probably baptized at St. Margaret, Sotterley, and died in Fore Hall, Long Melford, probably,  and possibly buried Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford.  He married (2) Margaret Bozun, of County Lincolnshire4, daughter of Richard Bozun, Knt., of County Lincolnshire. 

        Margaret Playters' ancestral church,  St. Margaret, features a fifteenth century glass in the east window, one panel showing Sir William  Playters, a Yorkist, in complete armor with his seven sons.  Her father, William's effigy was stolen in 1843.  The brass kneeling effigy of his second wife remains.  The inscription on the tomb reads:  "Here lieth buried the bodie of William Playters esquier, sonne and heire of Thomas and Ann his wife, who married Ann [sic. Jane], daughter to Sir Edmond Jenny of Knotshall, Knight, by whom he had issue. . ."   His first wife, and Margaret's mother, is buried at St. Mary, Henstead, County Suffolk, about five miles southeast of Beccles.  There are a number of other brasses and monuments dedicated to various Playters.


Children of Richard Clopton and Margaret Playters are:

        2                 i.    William13 Clopton, armiger Lord of Castlings Manor4, died August 19, 1616 in Castlings Manor, Groton, County Suffolk, about 10 miles southeast of Long Melford, and buried August 19,1616  at St. Bartholomew's Church, Groton, County Suffolk5.  He married Margery Waldegrave, of Lawford Hall6 in Lawford Hall, probably.  The 1558 Visitation of Essex refers to William of Bretton in Essex.  There is no Bretton in Essex, however, the Visitation of 1612 refers to "Castlyns in Grotton"; born in Lawford Hall, Lawford, County Essex, probably, about six miles northeast of Colchester; died Aft. 1616 in Groton, County Suffolk, about 10 miles southeast of Long Melford, buried St. Bartholomew's Church, Groton7.

               In light of the family’s unerring ability to irritate kings, it was probably a good thing we migrated to Virginia.  With breathtaking regularity one kin or another was being hauled to the Tower of London and threatened with beheading or worse.  The close connections with royalty gave the family ample opportunity to hone this questionable talent.  And our grandparents, Edward Waldegrave and Joan (Acworth) Bulmer established a benchmark in this arena that has not been surpassed by any of their Clopton descendants despite the passage of centuries.  Tempting fate, they careened about the palace with Queen Katherine Howard indulging in amorous escapades right underneath the nose of the infamous Henry VIII.  Had their tender necks not escaped the axe, then their daughter, and our grandmother, Margery, would not have been born.  See Midnight Romps & Wilted Roses

        3                ii.    Thomasine Clopton, of Fore Hall Long Melford8.  She married (1) Thomas Kighley, of Greys, County Essex9; born in Greys, County Essex, possibly, about 2 miles northwest of Tilbury, County Essex, and about 18 miles southwest of Chelmsford.  She married (2) Thomas Aldham, Gent, of Sapiston, County Suffolk10; born in Sapiston, County Suffolk, probably, about 8 miles northeast of Bury St. Edmunds and about 3 miles northwest of Ixworth, and possibly baptized at St. Andrew; died Bet. July 30, 1581 and May 12, 158211.

        4               iii.    Frances Clopton, of Fore Hall Long Melford12, died Aft. 1585.  She married (1) Martin Bowes12.  She married (2) Matthew Hutton, Archbishop of York November 20, 158213; born 1529 in Priest Hutton, Warton Parish, North Lancashire; died January 16, 1605/06 in Bishopthorpe, England and buried York Minster, South Aisle of the Choir13.

               Frances Clopton was Matthew Hutton's third wife.  In previously published Clopton genealogies, his name was mistakenly given as Henry.  No doubt this was due to an error in the pedigree of Clopton registered at the Visitation of Suffolk, 1613.  A copy of this record is located at College of Arms, London.  The text reads:

               Richard Clopton 2d sone to Sir William Clopton by Tomazen sister & haire to Edward Knevet of Stanway in Essex his 2nd wife married to his first wife [Margaret] daughter of [Richard] Bozun of Lincolneshire, & had [issue] Mary  [who] married to Sir William Cordall Knight of Longe Melford & he married to his 2d wife Margery daughter of [William] Plater of Soterley hall in Suffolk & had [issue] William sone & heire, Richard & Edward [both of whom] died and [a daughter] Tomazen [who] married to Thomas Aldham of Saxham in Suff(olk) .   Francis married to her first husband Martin Bowes 2d sone of Sir Martin Bowes of London.  [After married] to her 2nd husband Henry [should be Matthew] Hutton Archbyshop of Yorke.  Eliz [Clopton] married to Nicholas Hobart of Linley in Suff(olk). Em(me Clopton] married to George Smith of Cavdish [Cavendish] in Suff(olk)  Jelian [Clopton] married to Thomas Wye of Luppiest [Luppitt] in Gloucestershire & to her 2nd husband John Throgmorton  of Oxfordshire.  Mary [Clopton] married to Edward King of Lincolneshire.  William Clopton of Groton sone & heire of Richard married Margery  daughter of Edward Waldegrave of Laweforde in Essex & had issue,  William sone & heire Walter 2d Waldegrave 3d Thomas 4th Ann married to John Maidstone of Bartede in ---  Bridget married to John Sampson of --- in Suff(olk) Thomazen, Mary, Margery, Eliz

               Suspected of leaning to the puritans,  Dr. Hutton became involved in a dispute with Archbishop Sandys, who in 1586, brought charges against him.  Dr. Hutton defended himself with spirit.  He was eventually found guilty of nothing more than the use of violent and indiscreet expressions.

Obviously his "violent and indiscreet expressions" were not considered a serious crime, because he was elected to the bishopric of Durham, June 9, 1589, and Archbishop of York, February 14, 1595.

               In 1594 he wrote moving appeals on behalf of Lady Margaret Neville, who had been condemned to death along with her father, Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmoreland.  He was successful in his efforts and was also able to gain a pension for her.

One of his last public acts was to write a letter to Robert Cecil, Lord Cranborne, counseling a relaxation in the prosecution of the puritans.

        5               iv.    Elizabeth Clopton, of Fore Hall Long Melford14, died Aft. 1559.  She married Nicholas Hobart, Gent., of Lindsay, Suffolk15; born in Lindsey, County Suffolk, probably, about 5 miles northwest of Hadleigh, and about 8 miles east of Long Melford; died Bet. February 14 and 26, 1605/06 in Lindsey, probably,  and buried in the Chancel of St. Peter, Lindsey16.

        6                v.    Richard Clopton, of Fore Hall Long Melford17, died Abt. September 14, 1639 in Groton, probably, and buried St. Bartholomew's Church, Groton18.

        7               vi.    Emma Clopton, of Fore Hall Long Melford19, died Aft. 158420.  She married George Smyth, Esq., of Haverhill Manor & Hersham21; born in Haverhill, County Suffolk, probably, about 6 miles west of Clare and about 12 miles west of Long Melford, and possibly baptized at St. Mary, Haverhill.

        8              vii.    Julian Clopton, of Fore Hall Long Melford22, died Aft. 1584.  She married (1) Thomas Wye, of Lyppicot, Gloucestershire23.  She married (2) John Throgmorton, of County Oxfordshire24.

        9             viii.    Mary Clopton, of Fore Hall Long Melford25, died Aft. 1584.  She married Edward Kinge, of County Lincolnshire26.

        10              ix.    Edward Clopton, of Fore Hall Long Melford26.



Child of Richard Clopton and Margaret Bozun is:

        11               i.    Mary13 Clopton, of Fore Hall26, born in Long Melford, County Suffolk, England; died Bet. February 2 and March 18, 1583/84 in Long Melford, County Suffolk, England and buried Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford, March 18, 158427.  She married William Cordell, Knt, of Melford Hall28; died Bet. January 1, 1579/80 and June 19, 1581 in England and buried June 19, 1581, Holy Trinity Church in a tomb within the altar rails29.



The Hospital of the Undivided Trinity founded by William Cordell in 1573 for twelve poor men and two servants.  Located at the top of the village green in front of Holy Trinity Church, it commands a wonderful view of Long Melford.  It has seen much renovation through the years but the surrounding walls are original.  This photograph was taken from the bell tower of Holy Trinity from which both Melford Hall and Kentwell Hall may be viewed.






1.  Dorothy, his half-sister, mentions him in her will, and states:  "Item, I geve unto my brother Richard my litell ryng of gold."  Also named as one of his father's executors in 1530.  See also  Visitations of 1561 and 1612.

2.  His will was probated November 28, 1615.

3.  Hervy, The Visitation of Suffolk 1561,  (Courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 25, She is named in her mother's will as Margery Clopton as is her son-in-law, Richard Clopton.

4.  Visitation of Suffolk, 1613.

5.  Groton Parish Register Commencing 1562,  (Courtesy of Martin Wood, LL.B, MA), "1616.  William Clopton, Esqre., was buried the 19th day of August."

6.  Visitation of Suffolk, 1613.

7.  Groton Parish Register Commencing 1562,  (Courtesy of Martin Wood, LL.B, MA).

8.  Erwin, Ancestry of William Clopton of York County,  (Courtesy of William Purcell Clopton), p. 11, 101, 124, Thomasine's grandmother, Jane Playters, of Henstead, County Suffolk, mentions Thomasine in her will dated 1540:  "To Thomasine Clopton daughter of Richard Clopton, a standing cup gilt with a cover, a featherbed of downe &c.She was also mentioned in the 1559 will of Francis Clopton, her uncle:  "An also if Mr. Hunte do marrye with Thomasyne Clopton my nece, that then she shall have one hundrred markes to be paied her so sone as ytt may be levied out of the revenues and proufettes of my said landes; and if the saide Thomasyne do decease or dye before ytt be payed to her, that then ytt shall remayne to Brygett my saide wife."

9.  Muskett, Suffolk Manorial Families,  (Courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 144.

10.  Visitation of Suffolk, 1613, See also "Suffolk Manorial Families," p. 144.

11.  He names William Clopton in his will as his brother-in-law.

12.  Visitation of Suffolk, 1613.

13.  Dictionary of American Biography, p. 357-358.

14.  Erwin, Ancestry of William Clopton of York County,  (Courtesy of William Purcell Clopton), p. 11, 101, Elizabeth is mentioned in her uncle Francis Clopton's will dated 1559:  "Item, I give unto Elizabeth Clopton my nece, one hundrred poundes, to be paied to her so sone as ytt may be levied of the yssues and proufettes aforesaide.  And yf ytt fortune the saide Elizabeth to dye before the day of payment, than then ytt shall remayne unto Brygett my wife."

15.  Muskett, Suffolk Manorial Families,  (Courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 144.

16.  Erwin, Ancestry of William Clopton of York County,  (Courtesy of William Purcell Clopton), p. 11, Will dated February 14, 1606, ARch. Subd. 14 Feb. 1606, page 26.

17.  Visitation of Suffolk, 1613.

18.  Groton Parish Register Commencing 1562,  (Courtesy of Martin Wood, LL.B, MA), "1639.  September 14th, Mr. Richard Clopton."

19.  Erwin, Ancestry of William Clopton of York County,  (Courtesy of William Purcell Clopton), p. 11, 102, Emma is mentioned in the will of her uncle, Francis Clopton:  "Item, I gyve unto Emme Clopton my nece, one hundred markes, to be paied unto her so sone as ytt may be levied; and if ytt fortune that she die before ytt be paied unto her, that then ytt shall remayne unto Brygett my wife."

20.  Muskett, Suffolk Manorial Families,  (Courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 144.

21.  Corder, The Visitation of Suffolk, 1561,  (Courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 104.

22.  Erwin, Ancestry of William Clopton of York County,  (Courtesy of William Purcell Clopton), 11, 102, Francis Clopton names Jullian in his 1559 will:  "Item, I give unto Juliane Clopton, fourtie poundes, to be paide unto hir so sone as ytt may be levied; and if she die before ytt be paied, that then ytt shall remaine unto Brygett my wife."  It is interesting to note he does not identify her as "my nece."

23.  Visitation of Suffolk, 1613.

24.  Visitation of Suffolk, 1613, See also "Suffolk Manorial Families," p. 144.

25.  Erwin, Ancestry of William Clopton of York County,  (Courtesy of William Purcell Clopton), p. 11, 102, Mary's uncle, Francis Clopton, names her in his 1559 will:  "Item, I give unto Marye Clopton my nece, fourtie poundes, to be paide unto her so sone as ytt may be levied; and if she dye before ytt be payed, that then ytt shall remayne unto Brygett my wife."Mary was named in 1584, an Executrix by Dame Mary Clopton Cordell of her will.  Mary's husband served as Clerk to Sir William Cordell, Dame Mary's husband.

26.  Visitation of Suffolk, 1613.

27.  Hervy, The Visitation of Suffolk 1561,  (Courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 30, Her will, dated February 2, 1584, proved October 13, 1585, as 'Dame Mary Cordell, Wydowe of Sir William Cordell, Knight.  Of Long Melford."  She is to be buried in Melford church, "as nighe to the place wheare my late dear husband lieth buried as conveniently maybe."  She was buried March 18, 1584.

28.  Visitation of Suffolk, 1613, See also Howard, "Visitation of Suffolke, 1561," Vol. I. pp. 245-68; "Callendar of Suffolk Wills; P.C.C."; "Dictionary of National Biography," Vol. XII. pp. 213-4.  Parker, "History of Long Melford," Conder, "Church of Holy Trinity, Long Melford," Copinger, "Manors of Suffolk," Vol. I. pp. 133-6.

29.  Hervy, The Visitation of Suffolk 1561,  (Courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 29-30, His will dated January 1, 1580, proved 1581, as "Sr. William Cordell, Knt., Master of the Rolls.  Of Long Melford."  Will mentions "my Wife, Dame Mary Cordell." Sumptuous monument, with recumbent effigy in armour and two long eulogistic Latin inscriptions, within the altar rails of Melford church.  Married Mary, daughter of Richard Clopton, of Melford and Groton.





Comments?  Questions?  Corrections?


[1]Two Hundred Men in Velvet is an excerpt from The Ancestors and Descendants of Sir Thomas Clopton, Knight & Dame Katherine Mylde, and is the property of the Clopton Family Genealogical Society which holds the copyright on this material.  Permission is granted to quote or reprint articles for noncommercial use provided credit is given to the CFGS and to the author.  Prior written permission must be obtained from the Society for commercial use.

Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton is Founder and Executive Director of The Clopton Family Genealogical Society & Clopton Family Archives.

The Society wishes to thank Jennifer O’Brien of The Gunpowder Plot Society; Peter Knevitt, a descendant of John Knyvet, Lord Chancellor of England and his wife, Alinore or Eleanor Basset, and a founding member of the Clopton Family Genealogical Society and serves on its Editorial Advisory Board; Brian Smith, Brentwood, County Essex, England; Mary Ann Webb, of Bridge Street Farm, Long Melford;  Martin Wood, LL. B., M.A., author and historian living in Groton, County Suffolk, England, who serves on the United Kingdom Editorial Board, The Winthrop Papers, A Project of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Also thanks to Clopton descendants William Purcell Clopton, James M. McMillen, and Isabel Lancaster (Clopton) Steiner.

[2] Dissolution of the Monasteries, John McIlwain, Editor, Pitkin Unichrome Ltd., Andover, England.

[3] John Cordell witnessed the wills of Sir William Clopton, indicating that he was a servant of rank, and was literate.  A lease of a house in Long Melford, dated 1538, describes him as a “yeoman.”

[4] An abbreviated genealogy follows.  Richard’s brother, Francis, was to inherit Kentwell Hall and the vast share of the Clopton fortune.  Childless, Francis left his estate to his nephew, William Clopton.

[5] Fore Hall, now called Ford Hall, is located on Bridge Street (134A), at the intersection of Bridge Street and Bridge Road which leads directly into Lavenham, about two miles to the east.  As the crow flies, Ford Hall is just over a mile from Kentwell Hall.  Bridge Street (134A) is the road one takes to Bury St. Edmunds to the north.

[6] Actually a series of epidemics beginning about 1346.  It is estimated that about 1 million people died between 1349 and 1377.  The deaths of so many people from every rank permitted those who survived and were ambitious and wise to accumulate wealth and advance themselves socially.  See Disease and History, Frederick F. Cartwright in collaboration with Michael D. Biddiss, Barnes & Noble, Inc., New York, 1991.

[7] Frances and Joseph Gies, Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages, Perennial Library, Harper & Row, New York and Cambridge, 1989, p. 251.

[8] Barry L. Wall, Long Melford Through the Ages, East Anglian Magazine Ltd., Ipswich, Suffolk, 1986, p. 61, note the house is now a National trust property.  Mr. Wall gives a lengthy history of the house along with many photographs.

In 1557 Queen Mary also gave Sir William a license to keep 12 liveried retainers.

[9] Her coffin lies beneath her half-sister's, Elizabeth I.  The Latin inscription on their tomb, states in part, "Consorts both in throne and grave, here rest we two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, in the hope of one resurrection."

[10] One of her victims was Clopton descendant, Robert Southwell.  A devoted Jesuit Priest, Robert Southwell would pay for his unyielding faith dearly.  Through his poetry, prudently signed “R.S.,” he expressed his love for Christ and the Roman Catholic Church.  His name was not publicly associated with any of his writings, Queen Elizabeth’s minions were suspicious of him and watched him closely.  He took refuge in the home of his great friend Richard Bellamy, a staunch Catholic.  Young Anne Bellamy, first arrested, then seduced by the infamous Richard Topcliffe, would betray him.  He was brutally tortured and his execution went horribly wrong.  See Where Mightier Do Assault Than Do Defend

[11] Both Clopton descendants, the women were fourth cousins, twice removed.

[12] She was always met at the county boundary by the local sheriff and his officers, and they would remain with her during her stay. 

Nor was this the first time Clopton kin in County Suffolk entertained the Virgin Queen.  William Clopton, Esq., of Kentwell Hall, married Margaret Jermyn, of Rushbrook Hall.  Sir Robert Jermyn entertained Elizabeth I on two occasions.

[13] Words uttered by Sir Everard Digby, the only major Gunpowder Plot conspirator to give himself up.

[14] Mary (Clopton) Cordell’s grandaunt, Anne Clopton, daughter of John Clopton and his wife, Alice Darcy married Thomas Rokewood or Rookwood, Esq., of Stanningfield, County Suffolk.  It is from this marriage that Edward and Ambrose Rookwood descend.  Queen Mary was officially visiting Thetford County Norfolk, but chose to stay at Euston Hall, which is in County Suffolk and located about four miles southeast of Thetford.

[15] It was the notorious sadist, Richard Topcliffe who told the Queen that Edward Rookwood was a criminal and a “blackguard.”  A few years later Topcliffe would apprehend and torture Clopton descendant, Father Robert Southwell.

[16] Edward Rookwood was the son of Robert Rook, II, and his wife, Bridget Kempe.

[17] Dictionary of National Biography, Founded in 1882 by George Smith; Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee, Editors; Published since 1917 by the Oxford University Press, London: Humphrey Milford, Volume 17, p. 211.  States he was arrested in 1578 and died in 1588.  He was buried at Bury St. Edmunds ‘from the jail.’  Antonia Fraser in her Faith and Treason, p. 144, mentions the incident and states the time spent in jail was ten years, however, in her The Life of Elizabeth I,  p. 315, the author claims he spent twenty years in jail.  She gives the year as 1879.  She also maintains he was imprisoned in “Norwich goal.”

[18] See For Conscience Sake

[19] The Lives of the Kings & Queens of England, Antonia Fraser, Editor, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1995, p. 216.  James was crowned James VI, King of the Scots when he was thirteen months old in 1567.  He was crowned James I when he ascended the English throne on March 24, 1603  He was raised as a Presbyterian and received a classical education.  He was a well known homosexual, although he married and fathered five children, including Charles I, who would next become King of Great Britain.  James I ordered the preparation of a new translation of the Bible which we know as the King James’ Version of the Holy Bible.  James I is a Clopton descendant by both his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, and her husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.

[20] A person who refuses to obey or conform to an established authority or its regulations.  In English history, a person, especially a Roman Catholic, who refused to attend the services of the Church of England or recognize its authority was said to be a recusant.  It is pronounced rec (as in wrecking) you sant.

[21] Although a goodly number of individuals were involved to one extreme or another in the plot, history regards only thirteen men as the main Gunpowder conspirators:  Sir Everard Digby, Robert Winter, Thomas Winter, Ambrose Rookwood, John Grant, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, Guido “Guy” Fawkes, Robert Catesby, Thomas Percy, Christopher “Kit” Wright, John Wright, Francis Tresham.  Others would be executed at later dates for their involvement.

[22] Following the murders of her parents and brother, nine year old Princess Elizabeth was to be made a puppet queen.   Then the Catholic powers on the international scene, such as Albert and Isabella of Spain, would certainly be convinced that it had been a holy duty to blow up the King, the Royal Family and the English government, and would then quickly rally in support.

[23] Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 3, p. 1190-1193.  Robert, the son of Sir William Catesby of Lapworth, Warwickshire, and Anne Throckmorton, of Coughton, Warwickshire, also came from a staunchly Papist family.  Both he and his father paid a small fortune in fines as recusants.  He was thrown in jail several times during the reign of Elizabeth I for conspiracy, but escaped the hangman by paying a huge fine, the Virgin Queen  deciding there was more money to be made by letting him live than by killing him.

[24] Antonia Fraser, Faith and Treason, The Story of the Gunpowder Plot, Nan A. Talese, New York, 1996, p. 108.  Elizabeth’s father, Sir Robert Tyrrwhitt, of Kettleby, near Brigg, County Lincolnshire, had a sister who married the Reverend Keyes, Rector of Staveley, North Derbyshire.  Their son, Robert Keyes, embraced the Catholicism of the Lincolnshire Tyrrwhitts.

[25] Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 17, p. 211.  Ambrose’s parents, Robert Rookwood and Dorothy Drury were imprisoned as recusance, and he and his siblings were whisked to France to escape persecution.  Ambrose was one of the first pupils at the Jesuit school of St. Omer, near Calais, founded in 1593.  The school soon attracted many children of wealthy Papist families throughout Europe. Ambrose sister, Dorothy, became a nun at St. Ursula’s, Louvain ‘the talk of the place for her holiness’ – another Susanna, also a nun was one of the earliest and closest associates of Mary Ward.  Mary Ward was the founder of the educational religious order, the Institute of the Blessed Virgin.”  Mary was the niece of conspirators John and Christopher Wright.  His brother became a priest.

[26] Coldham Hall, Stanningfield, County Suffolk, is located about 5 miles southeast of Bury St. Edmund and about 5 miles northeast of Long Melford.  In the year 2000 it was in private hands and not open to the public.  The house still contains some of the hidden closets where the priests could hide.

[27] Fraser, Faith and Treason, p. 108-109.

[28] The Feast of St. Michael, the archangel.

[29] The youngest and wealthiest of the conspirators, he was known and loved throughout the Catholic Community.  Ruminating why Ambrose was chosen, Father John Gerard wrote:  “But that which moved them specially to make choice of Mr Rookwood was, I suppose, not so much to have his help by his living as by his person, and some provision of horses, of which he had divers of the best:  but for himself, he was known to be of great virtue and no less valour and very secret.  He was also of very good parts otherwise as for wit and learning, having spent much of his youth in study.  He was at this time, as I take it, not past twenty-six or twenty-sever years old and had married a gentle woman of a great family, a virtuous catholic also, by whom he had divers young children.”  See The Condition of Catholics under James I:  Father Gerard’s Narrative of the Gunpowder Plot, John Morris, S.J. Editor, 1872.

[30] The irony here must not be lost.  Baron Carew served faithfully and well, both Elizabeth I and James I.  He was named Queen Anne’s Vice-Chamberlain in October 1603.  He was created Baron Carew June 4, 1605.  The Cloptons of Warwickshire were most certainly connected to the Cloptons of Suffolk.  However, only the most circumstantial evidence exists to connect the families, namely the time frames all synchronize and the uniqueness of the surname.  Until more substantial documentation is found, the Cloptons of Warwickshire will be treated as separate and distinct from the Cloptons of Suffolk.  Although books regarding the Gunpowder Plot habitually refer to the house as Clopton Hall, it is properly called, Clopton Manor.  See The Cloptons of Warwickshire

[31] Sir Thomas, also a Clopton descendant, is a very distant cousin, cousin twice removed, of Ambrose Rookwood.  The son of Sir Henry Knyvet, Lord Knyvet of Escrick,  and his wife, Anne Pickering, he died in 1622 without issue.  At the time of the plot he had a town house in King Street, Westminster.  Various references are made to this house ‘on part of the site of which Downing Street now stands.  Sir Thomas was knighted at the Charterhouse by James I, on May 11, 1603, and he was created Baron Knyvet of Escrick in July 1607.  His wife, Lady Elizabeth, one of Queen Anne’s Council, due to her trustworthiness, was appointed to oversee the education of their Majesties’ two younger daughters Mary and Sophia at the Knyvet home at Stanwell in County Middlesex.  Entry in the House of Commons Journal for November 5:  “This last night the Upper House of Parliament was searched by Sir Thomas Knevett; and one Johnson, Servant to Mr Thomas Percy was there apprehended; who had placed 36 Barrels of Gunpowder in the Vault under the House with a Purpose to blow the King, and the whole company, when they should there assemble.  Afterwards divers other Gentlemen were discovered to be of the Plot.”  The original entry has been framed and hangs in the “noes” voting lobby of the House of Commons.

[32] Fraser, Faith and Treason, p. 170.

[33] Holbeach House, near Kingswinford, just inside County Staffordshire and about twelve miles west of Birmingham.  This was the home of Stephen Littleton, who would later be executed for his role in the failed plot.

[34] Fraser, Faith and Treason, p. 184.

[35] Fraser, Faith and Treason, p. 187.

[36] Richard Topcliffe took great pride in his methods of torture.  Father Gerard wrote in his narrative of the gunpowder plot that “the cruelest Tyrant of all England, Topcliffe, a man most infamous and hateful to all the realm for his bloody and butcherly mind.  The Dictionary of National Biography, Sir Leslie Stephens and Sir Sidney Lee, Editors, Oxford University Press, London, 1917, Volume 19, p. 979-980.

[37] Fraser, p. 232-233.  It must be clearly understood that the judgment called for the conspirators to be strangled by hanging, but not hung unto death.  The condemned were removed from the noose before death.  His fellow conspirators were not so fortunate.  They only swung once or twice before being brought down to observe for themselves their gruesome fate.

                Although his wife, Elizabeth, was interrogated, as were the other wives.  She came to no harm.

                In 1696, Brigadier Ambrose Rookwood (1664-1696) was involved in a plot to assassinate King William III.  He was caught and found guilty of high treason and executed.  Although some have jumped to the conclusion that he is the grandson of Ambrose Rookwood, no evidence has been offered to prove the relationship.