The Twickenham Museum
People : Landowners and Gentry

Richard & Agnes Burton
Two 15th century burials

The memorial to Richard and Agnes Burton in St Mary's church, Twickenham

Principal cook to Henry VI

The oldest surviving memorial in St Mary's Church, Twickenham dates from 1443. The Latin inscription reads:

Hic jacet Ricus Burton Armigr nup Capitalis Cocus dni Regis
Et Agnes Uxr ejs qui obiit xxiiiio die Julii Ao dni moccccoxliii
qor animabs ppiciet des

Which can be translated as:

Here lies Richard Burton Esquire lately principal cook to his Majesty
the King and Agnes his Wife who died the 24th day of July 1443
of whom may God have mercy on their souls.

The inscription is on a brass plate mounted in two fragments of a stone slab. The stone bears the royal arms both of the House of Lancaster and France, a privilege then accorded to those who had been members of the royal household.

The King was Henry VI, who ascended the throne in 1422 aged 9 months and within two months was also King of France. For the first 20 years of his 40 year reign government was in the hands of his uncles and cousins. During this time Joan of Arc was burned at the stake and by 1453 all that was left of England's possessions in France was Calais.

The description of Richard's position as cook (more properly

coquus) may reflect Latin usage in mediaeval England: as, apparently a person of gentle birth entitled to bear arms he could perhaps be better described as Steward in the English court, or Maitre d'Hotel in the French.

At present nothing more is known of Richard and Agnes or their life in Twickenham but they must have left somebody prepared to erect the memorial to their lives. Its original position in the church is not known; it was, presumably re-erected when the nave was re-built in 1714. Although set now in the vertical positon, it may originally have been laid flat as a ledgerstone.

Further reading

R S Cobbett, Memorials of Twickenham, Smith Elder, 1872

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