By Hillary Nunn with Rebecca Laroche
In my last posting, I reported on a possible new match for the Layfield hand that appears in CPP 10A214. It looked so promising that my collaborator Rebecca Laroche and I immediately began exploring how a new identity for Layfield would change our understanding of the manuscript. If Edward Layfield, Archdeacon of Essex, was behind Hand 2, rather than Edward Layfield (rector of Wakes Colne) or Edmund Layfield (the first candidate we considered) what would that mean?
A great deal, it turns out. Both letters bearing Edward Layfield’s signature carry the date 1660, and he is identified with the title Archdeacon of Essex in both. If this Edward is linked to the CPP manuscript, his associations with the Church of England, both before and after the Civil War, would indicate that the book ended up in a Royalist home. That would be significant, since Calybute Downing, the manuscript’s first compiler, ended up siding with the Parliamentarian cause.
The Edward Layfield who became Archdeacon of Essex was nephew to Archbishop Laud, and Joseph Maskell identifies him as vicar of the church at Allhallows Barking on London’s eastern edge (147). We know he fits the CPP manuscript’s story in a significant way: in 1637, he was married to a woman named Ann. According to Maskell’s nineteenth century history of Allhallows Barking, the couple’s daughter, Elizabeth, was baptized in 1637 (68).
In 1642, after dissent from a faction of puritans within the congregation, Layfield was “taken into custody as a Royalist and voted unfit to hold any ecclesiastical preferment.” According to the editorializing Maskell, no charges of “moral or intellectual unfitness” were required; “it was sufficient that he was … a friend of the King, and a relative of the Archbishop.” Other churchgoers petitioned on Layfield’s behalf, to no avail. During the Interregnum, he was “confined in most of the gaols about London, and on one occasion, with other clergy, taken on board ship, clapped under the hatches” and purportedly threatened with being sold into slavery (148).
If the manuscript’s Layfield is the archdeacon, though, then we have to wonder what happened to his wife and family during his time in prison. We know the archdeacon’s estate was confiscated, but we cannot immediately tell where his wife Anne lived during his imprisonment. Church records indicate that she died in 1678, and her archdeacon husband died two years later.
How does this all come back to recipes? Well, if the Anne Layfield who owned the CPP manuscript in 1640 is the archdeacon’s wife, the book’s history becomes even more remarkable. How would she have gotten the book from Calybute Downing, who died in 1644 while firmly aligned with the Parliamentarians? How would the book have crossed this political divide to end up in a Royalist household? Or did the book follow a friendlier path, moving among friends whose political and religious divisions lay a few years in the future? With luck, more archival research will eventually help us find out.
Maskell, Joseph. Collections in Illustration of the Parochial History and Antiquities of Ancient Parish of Allhallows Barking in the City of London. London, 1864.