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Programme 2002-2003
A Short History of the Knolles and Frowick Families

Researched and compiled by Rosie Bevan

Note: Click on thumbnails to reveal larger images - download will be slow

The arms of Sir Robert Knolles in a window at North Mymms Church -glass8s.jpg (9268 bytes)
The arms of Thomas Knolles in a window at North Mymms Church - click on image for full version
Located only 20 miles from London, North Mymms must have been an ideal country retreat for the wealthier inhabitants of the City in medieval times, especially during the summer months when disease was rife, owing to lack of sanitation.

Simon Swonlond, merchant and one time Lord Mayor of London, certainly thought so, and so did Sir Thomas Knolles when he purchased three quarters of the Manor of North Mymms from Simon’s descendants in 1428.

Sir Thomas and his wife Joan had already purchased a quarter share from Beatrix Bakston in 1391 for 100 marks of silver and this later consolidation now meant that Sir Thomas was Lord of the manor of North Mymms.

Sir Thomas is said to have been son of Sir Robert Knolles who is mentioned in Froissart's Chronicles and captain in the wars against France, Spain and Brittany under three kings Edward III, Richard II and Henry IV, and was buried with full military honours in Whitefriars, London in 1407.

His arms displayed in the church window at North Mymms suggest, at least, that the family believed themselves descended from him.

The West Tower at St Mary's North Mymms thought to have been built by Sir Thomas Knolles - westtower200.jpg (8212 bytes)
The West Tower at St Mary's North Mymms thought to have been built by Sir Thomas Knolles - click on image for full version
Whether or not Sir Thomas and his family spent much time there is impossible to gauge, for his business and political interests were centred around London. He lived in Cordwainer Street, was an Alderman, and Lord Mayor twice in 1399 and 1410.

Click here for a picture gallery of the Knolles family brasses in St Mary's, North Mymms.

Stow relates in his Survey of London:

"This Sir Thomas Knollys, the Lord Mayor, with the aldermen of his brethren, began in 1400 to build the new Guildhall. He re edified St Antholin's Church in Watling St and gave to the Grocer's Company, of which he was a member, his house near that church for the relief of the poor for ever; and caused water to be conveyed to the gate of Newgate and Ludgate for the use of the prisoners.”

Also attributed to him is the church tower of St Mary’s at North Mymms, dated around 1428 which would be in keeping with his philanthropic and religious benefactions.

Sir Thomas died in 1435, and was buried with his wife, Joan, in St Antholin’s Church in the north aisle. On their tomb was the following epitaph.

“Here lyeth graven undyr this ston
Thomas Knolles, both flesh and bon,
Grocer and Alderman yeres fortye,
Sheriff, and twis Maior truly:
And for he should not ly alone,
here lyeth wyth him his good wyff Jone:
They weren togeder sixty yere,
And nineteen children they had in feer;
Now ben they gon wee them miss:
Christ have there Sowlys to heven bliss. Amen”

Thomas Knolles, citizen and grocer, son of Sir Thomas, inherited the manor of North Mymms but only enjoyed possession for ten years. He was also a great benefactor to the church of St Antholin in Budge Row, where he was buried beside his father "under a faire marble stone, thus sometime engraven but now quite taken away for the gain of the brasse". The following was the epitaph:

Thomas Knolles lyeth undre this ston
And his wyff Isabell, flesh and bone;
They weren togeder nyntene yere,
And x chyldren they had in fere.
His Fader and he to this Chyrch
Many good dedys they did wyrch.
Example by him ye may see
That this world is but vanitie;
For, wheder he be smal or gret, All sall turne to wormy mete.
This seyd Thomas was leyd on Bere
The eighth day the moneth Fevrer,
The date of Jesu Crist truly
An Mcccc five and forty.
Wee may not prey, hertely prey ye
For owr Soulys, Pater Noster and Ave,
The sooner of owr peyne lessid to be,
Grant us the holy trinite. Amen

Sadly, St Antholin’s church and these memorials were destroyed in the Fire of London in 1666.

Headless children stand alongside a brass of Elizabeth Knolles in St Mary's Church - brass1s.jpg (9615 bytes)
Headless children stand alongside a brass of Elizabeth Knolles in St Mary's Church - click on image for full version
Thomas Knolles, in his will dated 7 & 8 February 1445 (PCC Luffnam fo 30, refers to his wife Isabel already deceased; mentions his son Robert (to whom he left the manor of North Mymms), his son Richard, and his son John. He mentions also his daughter Beatrice as a nun at Dartford; his daughter Johanna as wife of William Baron, and a daughter Isabella.

Robert, eldest son and heir of Thomas, appears to have invested more time at North Mymms and was unfortunately responsible for cutting down much timber belonging to the manor, which, until then, appears to have been thickly wooded. Perhaps he was under some financial pressure, for just after the death of his father he came to an agreement with his brother, Richard, to pay him 100 marks yearly from the North Mymms estate. Robert married Elizabeth, daughter of Bartholomew Seman, a goldsmith of London.

The inscription in the Robert Knolles brass - brass2s.jpg (9785 bytes)
The inscription in the Robert Knolles brass - click on image for full version
Their son and heir, Robert, married Elizabeth Troutbeck of Dunham, Cheshire, widow of Sir Hugh Venables and daughter of Sir William Troutbeck, Chamberlain of Chester. Elizabeth's brother, Sir John Troutbeck, was killed at the battle of Blore Heath in 1459 (the first battle of the War of the Roses), fighting on the Lancastrian side. Robert and Elizabeth had four children, two boys who died young, as represented on the brass memorial in the chancel of St Mary's Church at North Mymms, and two daughters, Anne, who married Henry Frowick, and Elizabeth who married James Stracheley.

The date of Robert’s death is not known for he did not leave a will and on the memorial inscription there is left a blank, suggesting that Robert’s wife died before him. A translation of the inscription (in Latin) reads

"Here lie Robert Knolles, esquire, who died [blank] day of the month [blank] the year of our Lord one thousand four hundred [blank] and Elizabeth his wife, who died the 28th day of the month of November, the year of our Lord four hundred and fifty eight : and their sons ; God have mercy on their souls. Amen"

With his death the main branch of the Knolles family died out, to be continued in a cadet line by his brother Richard, ancestor of Sir Francis Knollys, and the current Viscount Knollys. North Mymms manor was divided into two halves with each daughter receiving a moiety.

Click here for a picture gallery of the tomb of Elizabeth Frowick and stained windows from St Mary's, North Mymms.

The tomb of Elizabeth Frowick, later Coningsby in the St Catherine's Chapel, St Mary's Church, North Mymms - tomb2200.jpg (7217 bytes)
The tomb of Elizabeth Frowick, later Coningsby in the St Catherine's Chapel, St Mary's Church, North Mymms - click on image for full version
The Frowicks were neighbours of the Knolles, having owned the South Mimms manors of Old Fold (which comprised 132 acres) since 1271, and Durhams (comprising 350 acres) since 1368, and whose memorials are to be found in the church at South Mimms.

Prosperous London mercers and goldsmiths, they had also held the mayoralty in 1435 and 1444 and had married into notable families such as the Throckmortons and Lewknors through whom they were descended from the Plantagenets.

However, by the time Henry Frowick married Anne Knolles, the family was in financial trouble, having sold off large properties to meet debts. Henry and Anne had two children - a son, Thomas, who married Mary, daughter of Sir William Sandys, and a daughter Elizabeth who married John Coningsby of Lincoln.

Thomas Frowick died without issue during his father’s lifetime, so Henry left the moiety of North Mymms manor to his daughter, Elizabeth, and her children by John Coningsby, in his will, dated 1527. Henry and Anne were buried in the Frowyk Chantry in the church of St Giles, South Mimms.

The two moieties of the North Mymms manor were reunited in 1529 when James and Elizabeth Stracheley conveyed their half of the manor to John and Elizabeth Coningsby. Elizabeth, surviving John, continued living at North Mymms with her second husband, William Dodds, whom she married about 1557. Sir Henry Coningsby, her son, died in possession of the manor in 1590 and it was held by his descendants until sold in 1658.

1.Victoria County History of Hertfordshire v.2, p.251-261
2.Victoria County History of Middlesex v.3 p.283-285
3.Herald and Genealogist, v.7 p. 553-558
4.Public Records Office Attornment by Robert Knolles, esquire, son and heir of Thomas Knolles, late citizen and grocer of London, deceased, to Richard Knolles his brother, whom he has put in peaceable possession, by the payment of 1d. of a yearly rent of 100 marks issuing from the manor of North Mymmes. 29 March, 24 Henry VI.
5.George Ormerod. A History of the County Palatine and City of Chester. v.3 p.42
6.Sylvia Thrupp, The Merchant Class of Medieval London, (University of Michigan Press, 1989) p.351

June 2001

A Short History of the Knolles and Frowick Families
Picture gallery of the Knolles family brasses.
Picture gallery of the tomb of Elizabeth Frowick and stained glass windows.

A Fujifilm MX-2900 zoom digital camera courtesy of Fujifilm was used. All images have been heavily compressed to help reduce download time.

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