NICHOLAS BROME & the Three Murders: Part Three
The Plantagenet Kings represented the richest family in Europe and they ruled the English throne from 1154 to 1485 while also holding Anjou in France. The name Plantagenet comes from “planta genista,” Latin for the yellow broom plant. A symbol of humility, the broom sprig was chosen as the badge of the royal house of Plantagenet and was worn by the Counts of Anjou on their caps. It is believed to have been worn during the crusades to the Holy Land. So the surname BROME has a connection to both the crown and to the church.
As you can see above the BROME family Coat of Arms had 3 sprigs of Broom and the seal of Nicholas was a sprig of broom below.
As mentioned earlier the BROME family were devout Catholics. Nicholas’ older sister Joyce BROME was the prioress of nearby Wroxall Abbey [see map for proximity] from about 1501-1525. Joyce died there on 21 June, 1528. And Nicholas’s brother-in-law, John ARUNDEL becomes in 1496 Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, and later Bishop of Exeter in 1502. The BROME family are intertwined with the church but this devotion to the church is about to take an ironic twist.
Fragments of cloisters, Wroxall Abbey Together with the north aisle of the abbey, now Wroxall church, this is all that remains of the 12th century Benedictine nunnery at Wroxall by Robin Stott and Plan of Wroxall from A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred.
“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;Shakespeare Othello Act 3
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger.”
Now that we have set the stage let us commence with the telling of the Third Murder. There is not a lot to tell but a short reference in William Dugale’s 1656 The Antiquities of Warwickshire. As follows “of Nich. [‘olas Brome] I have further seen, that comming on a time into his Parlour at Badsley, he found the Parish-Priest chocking his wife under the chin, whereat he was so enraged that he presently kil’d him.” Chocking , or stroking a woman’s chin in the 15th century, would have been an inappropriate intimacy for any man to undertake with another man’s wife and certainly not appropriate for the parish priest. We know no more details with which to fill in the story as it stands, in its stark soberness. So we will take Dugale at his word and can only guess if there were other extenuating circumstances. We do not know the date of the attack, or even the name of the priest for sure, but we know it had to happen between the appointment of William FOSTER as the parish priest 29 Nov 1478, by Nicholas BROME and the later appointment of Alex AWEN in 13 May 1493. We also know that Nicholas’ wife, Elizabeth, is alive 10 July 1496 when she is mentioned in a deed.
As you read in the Part Two, Nicholas paid blood money for the life of John HERTHILL to HERTHILL’s his wife. The amount or value placed on a person’s life was based on their status. When Nicholas killed a priest the value was much higher than for other mortal souls. He had to reckon with the church. The price Nicholas BROME paid for the death of the priest, was dear in monetray terms. He was “joyn’d to do something towards the expiation thereof; whereupon he new-built the Tower Steeple here at Badsley, from the ground, and bought three Bells for it and raised the body of the church ten feet higher: all which was expressed in his Epitaph, now torn away : and likewise built the Steeple of Packwood; in which Church Windows was this inscription, Orate pro anima Nicholas Brome qui Campanile de Pacwood fieri fecit” [Pray for the soul of Nicholas Brome who made the Bell tower of Packwood]. This would not been a small sum to renovate Baddesley Clinton’s church and add a tower to it and the church at Packwood nearby. [see map above –NW of Baddesley Clinton] Below are the two towers Nicholas BROME funded—know to some as the “Towers of Expiation [or Atonement].”
We do not know where Nicholas mother resided at this time but we do know she was buried 10 July 1483 in the Chancel at St Michael’s Baddesley Clinton, which at that time would have been in what is now the central section. The tower being added after the murder and the new Chancel wing added by the FERRER’s after Nicholas death.
Nicholas Petitioned the King of England for a pardon for all his crimes he committed before 7 Nov 1485. This date was not long after Henry VII succeeded to the throne 22 August 1485, and his coronation was 30 October 1485. This further narrows the priest’s murder to between 29 Nov 1478 and 7 Nov 1485. In fact I would venture a guess that the murder was in 1485 when Nicholas was about 35. And for his mother’s sake I hope it was after her death in 1483.
King Henry VII’s mother was a Lancastrian and Henry VII was the first of the House of Tudor, combining the Houses of Lancaster and York, when he married Elizabeth of York 18 January 1486. Pardons were very common at this time and were used for political as well as healing purposes. For Nicholas this was a welcome opportunity. His pardon did not specify the crimes, when granted 7 May 1496. In an event getting a pardon for two murders must have been very welcomed by Nicholas.
Nicholas also petitioned the Pope. His pardon was granted by Alexander VI (Rodigio Borgia) who was Pope from 11 Aug 1492- 1 Aug 1503. I would surmise that he may have needed this pardon in order to remarry in the church.
But he paid a deeper price which we will cover in part 4.
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