The well-used and cheerful church at Wiveliscombe, Somerset, contains the somewhat defaced monument to Humphrey and Margery Wyndham (Figs 1, 2, 3).
The monument is of high quality, but the main interest is in the inscription. There are two panels. The dexter reads
HEERE REST IN ASVRED HOPE OF A IOIEFVLL RESVRECTION
THROVGH CHRIST IESVS, YE BODIES OF HVMPHREY WINDHAM OF
GOVLDER HILL, IN YE PARISH OF WIVELISCOMBE IN YECONTEY
OF SOMERSET ESQR. THIRD SONNE OF SR IOHN WINDHAM OF
ORCHARD IN THE SAME COVNTY KNIGHT (LONG SINCE
DECEASED) AND MARGERY HIS WIFE ELDEST DAVGHTER
AND COHEIRE OF IOHN STEPHENSON OF HODSDON IN
YE COVNTIE OF HERTFORD ESQR: WHO LIVED TOGETHER
ABOVE 43 YEARES HAVING ISSVE A SONNE AND ONE DAVGHTER
WCH SONNE DYING YOVNG, ELIZABETH THEIR SOLE DAVGHTER
AND HEIRE MARRIED IOHN COLLES OF BARTON IN YE COVNTEY
OF SOMERSET ESQR: BY WHOME HEE HATH HAD ISSVE AT YE
ERECTING OF THIS MONVMENT, 6 CHILDREN, A SON &
5 DAVGHTERS, WCH SON DIED AN INFANT, AND LYETH IN
THIS VAULT. YE SAID HVMPHRY WINDHAM DEPARTED THIS
MORTALL LIFE THE 29 DAY OF MAY IN THE YEARE OF
OVR LORD GOD 1622, BEEING AGED 84 YEARE AND
VPWARD. MARGERIE HIS WIFE DIED THE FIRST OF
SEPTEMBER IN THE YEARE OF OVER LORD GOD 1620
IN THE 72 YEARE OF HIR AGE OR SOMWHAT ABOVE.
HABETE PARES INCOMPARABILIS!
The sinister panel has a verse epitaph
TO THE ETERNALL MEMORIE
OF HVMPHREY WINDHAM ESQR:
AND MARGERY HIS WIFE.
HEERE LIES A PAIRE, WHOME FOR THEIR EQVALL LOVES
LET AFTER AGES TERME, THE TVRTLE DOVES:
HEE AND SHEE, WHOSE LIKE THIS WESTERN SOILE
SHALL HARDL [sic] MATCH, NAY SCARCE AGAINE OVR ILE:
THAT FAME HERSELF ADORES THE MEMORIE
OF HVMPHREY WINDHAM, AND HIS MARGERIE,
HIS MATCHLES WIFE WHOSE HEAVEN BLEST SKILL AND COST
CVRD SVNDRY (WHOME THESVRGEON HELD FOR LOST)
OF DANGEROVS WOVNDS, DYM EIES, AND FESTERD SORES
SENT MAYMED CRIPLES CRVTCHLES FROM HER DORE
TO FOWER SCORE FOWER OF YEARES HE DID ASPIRE,
A COVNCELLER A IVSTICE AND A SQVIRE
HENCE WAS HEE WISE TO IVDGE AND IVST TO DOE
RELIGIOVS, GOOD AND NOBLY MINDED TOO.
THE ORPHANES FATHER, AND THE WIDOWES FREND
LEARNED, WISE SINCERE AND CONSTANT TO THEEND
YET FROM THIS NONE SVCH COVPLE DID PROCEED
BVT ONE SOLE DAVGHTER FAIRE, AND HEIRE INDEED
BOTH OF THEIR VIRTVES AND ESTATES, WHO LIVES
AND IN HER LIFE THEIR SECOND BEING GIVES:
HERE ONLY DOTH THEIR EARTHLY PAWNE REMAINE
WHICH AT CHRISTS COMING MVST BE FETCHT AGAINE
The interest in this epitaph is its celebration of Margery Wyndham’s skills as a healer. All Early Modern gentlewomen were expected to possess a knowledge of basic nursing and herbalism: the recipe books compiled by women such as Anne, Lady Blencowe and Anne, Lady Brockman usually combined culinary and medical recipes in varying proportions, and early twentieth century editions of Mrs Beeton’s Cookery and Household Management still included sections on nursing and first-aid. Were Margery Wyndham’s medical skills of this order, they would probably not have warranted inclusion in her epitaph. The wording suggests that her medical knowledge was different. Her curing ‘dangerous wounds, dim eyes and festered sores’ would depend on herbal knowledge and common sense, and may indicate an awareness of the need for antiseptic precautions (which might simply involve swilling wounds out with distilled liquids, or the use of infusions of herbs with antiseptic properties, such as thyme or rosemary). The most intriguing statement is that she ‘sent maimed cripples crutchless from her door’. This suggests that she had chiropractic/manipulative skills, (even if they consisted of a knee in the back and a twist of the shoulders).
Margery Wyndham is not well-documented, but other women with specific healing skills mentioned in their epitaphs are. Grace Sharington, Lady Mildmay (c.1552-1620) is particularly well-studied. She did not practice surgery, but was a skilled physician on a large scale, experimenting with remedies and keeping copious notes: her papers ‘contain a sophisticated analysis of the causes and treatment of various diseases, accompanied by instructions for the large-scale manufacture of medicines, many of them based on minerals and chemicals’. She was also ‘one of the most excellent confectioners in England’. Her epitaph on the lavish monument at Apethorpe (Northants) which she shares with her husband, almost certainly by Maximilian Colt (Figs 4, 5) alludes to her medical (although not her culinary) skills:
HERE ALSO LYETH GRACE LADIE MILDMAY THE ONLY WIFE OF THE SAIED SR
ANTHO: MILDMAY ONE OF THE HEYRES OF SR HENRY SHERINGTON KNT OF
LACOCK IN THE COVNTY OF WILTES WHO LIVE 50 YEARES MARIED
TO HIM AND 3 YEARES A WIDOW AFTER HIM. SHE WAS MOST DEVOVT,
VNSPOTEDLY CHAST MAYD, WIFE, AND WIDOW, COMPASSIONATE IN HEART
AND CHARITABLY HELPFVL WITH PHYSICK CLOATHES, NOVRISHMENT OR
COVNSELS TO ANY IN MISERY, SHE WAS MOST CAREFVLL AND WISE IN
MANAGING WORLDLY ESTATE. SO AS HIR LIFE WAS A BLESSING TO
HIRS AND IN HIR DEATH SHE BLESSED THEM WHICH
HAPNED IVLY. 27. 1620.
Another lady celebrated on her epitaph for her medical skills is Dame Catherine Cromwell Tollemache (c.1558-1620/1), whose epitaph at Helmingham (Suffolk) (Fig 6) reads
HEERE SLEEPETH IN YE LORD EXPECTING YE RETVRNE OF YE SVNNE OF
RIGHTEOVSNESS, CHRIST IESVS, DAME CATHARINE TALLEMACHE, SOMME
TIMES WIFE OF LIONELL TALLEMACHE, OF HELMINGHAM IN YE COVNTIE OF
SVFF: KNI: & BARONET, WHICH CATHARINE WAS YE SOLE DAVGHTER OF
THOMAS LORD CROMWEL, BARON OF ELMHAM IN YE COVN: OF NORF: &
WHILE SHE LIVED, FOR HER PIE TIE [sic] TOWARDES GOD, PITIE TOWARD
YE POORE, & CHARITIE IN RELEEVING (THROVGH HER SKILL AND SINGVLAR
EXPERIENCE IN CHYRVRGERIE,) YE SICK & SORE WOVNDED, WAS BELOVED
& HONOVRED OF ALL, AS NOW MISSED & LAMENTED IN HER DEATH,
SHEE HAD ISSVE YET LIVING) [sic] THREE SONNES, VIZ: LIONELL YE E’DEST
NOW KNT: & BARONET: WHO MARRIED ELIZABETH, YEELDEST DAVGHTR
OF IOHN LORD STANHOPE, BARON OF HARRINGTON IN YE COVNTIE
OF NORTHAMTON, ROBERT, WHO MARRIED DORO: YE DAVGH: OF IOHN
LANE, IN YE COVN: OF STAFF: ESQ: EDW: YET VNMARIED: & 4 DAVGHS: SVSA:
MARRIED VNTO SR: HEN: DOILY OF SHOTTESHAM, MARY VNTO ROG: CASTLE
OF RVNNINGHAM ESQ, CATHA: VNTO DRAKE WILLIAM PLATER OF HARDLEY,
ALL IN YE COVNOF: NORF: LASTLY ANNE, MARRIED VNTO ROB: GOSNOLD OF OTLEY
IN SVFF: WHICH SAID DAME CATHARINE HAVING BEENE MARRIED BY YE SPACE
OF 40 YEARES, SHEE IOIEFVLLIE IN YE FAITH OF CHRIST DEPARTED THIS
LIFE, AT IPSWICH, VPON YE 24 DAY OF MARCH ANNO 1620 & IN YE 63
YEARE OF HIR AGE.
VENI CITO IESV
Catharine Tollemache, whose notebooks survive, was an accomplished cook, perfumer and maker of medicines. It is striking, therefore, that the skill which is particularly remarked on her epitaph is surgery. This was an unusual accomplishment for a woman and involved a detailed knowledge of anatomy. Catharine Tollemache’s son, Sir Lionell Tollemache, 2nd Bt (1591-1640) was also noted for his skill in surgery, presumably following the example of his mother.
Donna la Rue has given us an important example of a monument to a colonial American midwife on this Society’s website. These near-contemporary English gentlewomen did not earn their livings from their medical skills, as Elizabeth Phillips did, but those skills were sufficiently remarkable for them to be included in their funerary inscriptions. It is possible that other epitaphs celebrate female healers: perhaps readers of this might be able to supply some?
 For this topic, see the Wellcome Foundation’s EMROC [early modern recipes online collective] project < https://emroc.hypotheses.org>
 Grace Sharington Mildmay was the mother of the Countess of Westmorland, employer of Sarah Voysin Pollard (MotM August 2019).
 Both quotations are from The ODNB entry for Grace Sharington Mildmay, written by Linda Pollock, whose With faith and physic: the life of a Tudor gentlewoman, Lady Grace Mildmay, 1552–1620 (1993) is the definitive study.
 There is disagreement about her date of birth: the memorial inscription suggests 1557/8 but some genealogies give 1562.
 There is an error in this inscription – Catherine Cromwell Tollemache’s father was not Thomas Cromwell (her great-grandfather), but Henry Cromwell, 2nd Baron (>1538-1592).
 For Catharine Tollemache, see Moira Coleman, Fruitful Endeavours: The 16th-Century Household Secrets of Catherine Tollemache at Helmingham Hall (2012). She features in many general studies of women as compilers of recipe books in the Early Modern period.
 See his entry in The History of Parliament Online, < https://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1604-1629/member/tollemache-sir-lionel-1591-1640>
 Monument of the Month November 2019 https://churchmonumentssociety.org/monument-of-the-month/a-colonial-midwife-and-a-schoolteacher-two-womens-gravestones-in-the-phipps-st-burying-ground-charlestown-ma-usa, Blog entry https://churchmonumentssociety.org/2019/11/10/elizabeth-phillips-licensed-midwife-1685-1761-lamson-stones-in-phipps-street-burying-ground-charlestown-ma-usa
Fig. 1 Wiveliscombe, Somerset, monument to Margery †1620 & Humphrey Wyndham†1622.JPG
Fig. 2 Wiveliscombe monument to Margery & Humphrey Wyndham, detail.JPG
Fig. 3 Wiveliscombe monument to Margery & Humphrey Wyndham, detail.JPG
Fig. 4 Apethorpe, Northamptonshire, monument to SirAnthony †1617 and Lady †1620 Mildmay, by Maximilian Colt.JPG
Fig. 5 Apethorpe, Northamptonshire, monument to Sir Anthony and Lady Mildmay, detail.JPG
Fig. 6 Helmingham, Suffolk, monument to Dame Catharine Tollemache †1620.jpg