William Blancher's House:
How Nashe's kinsman lived

William Blancher was the shoemaker husband of Nashe's cousin Elizabeth. The following is an inventory and valuation of his goods, taken after his death in 1602. The document indicates Blancher lived in the usual house of the time, comprising a hall (i.e. living room), shop and kitchen on the ground floor, with two chambers above - all of them crammed with the considerable paraphernalia of household and trade.

One has the feeling William Blancher was a respectable tradesman, but nothing more genteel. He ate off pewter and wood, and though he seems to have been well off for beds, having two fourposters, two trundle beds and a featherbed in all, his bedlinen is rather meagre. Perhaps one of his "Twoo paire of sheets" was that given to his wife by Margaret Nashe in her will 13 years earlier? The modest list of his apparel does not suggest a snappy dresser, the only book he owned was a bible and his only luxury items are two drinking glasses and the "Danske Chyste" (Danish chest) kept in his bedchamber. The weapons listed - a watch bill, a poleaxe and four bow staves - suggest former civic duties; there's no mention of the gentlemanly sword.

One of the reasons I think it's worthwhile presenting this little piece of background to Nashe's social origins is because, too often, amateurs are left with the impression that Elizabethan writers moved in high circles and constantly hobnobbed with earls. Most were of humble middle class origins, though they sometimes travelled far from them. Jonson began life as a bricklayer, Drayton had been a servant and Shakespeare's father built up a business as a glover. But like Christopher Marlowe (the son of a Canterbury shoemaker), Nashe said goodbye to a life of humdrum respectability when he left to become a scholar at Cambridge. In his short career he would see a great deal more pomp and glory than his kinsman William Blancher the cordwainer, but perhaps have less to show for it. It's very likely that any postmortem inventory of Nashe's goods would have been much briefer than the one below.

Note:The document from which this copy was taken is available from Norfolk Record Office, INV 18/57.
I would like to thank Mr David Butcher who kindly supplied the transcription from which this page was made. He did this as I was having great difficulty reading my photocopy from the NRO, and he did it in no time at all - though I believe the photocopy he worked from was actually poorer in quality, and missing a few lines here and there. Where I have used my copy to supplement Mr Butcher's transcription, and made my own best guesses, I've put the text into red to indicate it's less reliable. Any errors or mistypings are the fault of the webmaster.

 A trewe and pfight Inventorie of the
goods and Chattalls of William Blancher
Late of Lowestofte in the Countie of Suff
Cordiner Deceasd made xxiiiith daie
of Aprill 1602 and prised by Edward
Depden Anthony Mighell Edmund
Hill Symond Page & Robart Little

In the hall
Inprimis on posted bedstead wth a Flockbead
Three pillows a Coverlett a strawsack a
bolster wth a natte and Corde
Itm one olde Framed Table one Longe forme
Two great Joyned stooles & ii smale stooles
Itm one Cubberde wth a Cubbord cloth
Itm ii pewter platters and ii pt water dishes
xviiid iii porringers & one saucer iiiid
One dubble salt vid & ii Candlestickes xxd
And ii Olde Cuppes iiiid
Itm ii Chaires
Itm iiii Cusshings
Itm vi smale Chaires
Itm ii Coffers
Itm a paire of Tongs
Itm a paire of Andierns
Itm ii Rost Irons
Itm a Iron Candlesticke
Itm ii peces of olde Iron
Itm iiii smale Tables
Itm one pitchforcke
Itm one old stoole
Itm ii Racks
iis viiid
iis vid

In the Chamber

Itm one posted bedsteede a Featherbed
a Coverled a blankett a Bolster a
pillow a natt and Corde
Itm a Trindle bedsted a Flockbed a
strawe sacke a Feather pillowe And
an olde Coverlett
} xs
Itm one other Trindle bedstede & a strawe
} iiis
Itm on woodden Candlesticke
Itm a Danske Chyste
Itm Twoo Drinkinge glasses
Itm one Framed Table
Itm one Hogside
Itm a pack sadle Fower Bowe staves
One olde saddle and other triflinge things
Itm a Barrell and hogside with shredds
Itm a watch Bill
Itm a Busshell and haulf of wheate
iiis iiiid
iiiis ixd

In the shoppe

Itm Thre dozen and ii paire of New shoos
Itm Fower paire of Childrens shoos
Itm xiiiitene paire of Armsleves
Itm iii pair Skupper Leathers
Itm One other Skupper of leather
Itm iii paire of [New boots?]
[End of first page]
xliiis iiiid
xviis iiid
Itm a whetstone
Itm Two Cuttinge bordes
Itm a hammer
Itm a Iron Stiffe
Itm Two paire of Leather Britches
Itm a paire of hamppers
Itm one other Cuttinge borde
Itm Five seats and Fower poles
vis viiid
iiis viid
vis viiid
Itm iii paire of boote Trees and one
paire of trees for Armsleves
} iiiis
Itm Eight dozen and ix paire of lastsixs
Itm a shave a shopp tubbe a wanton
and other [smale things?]
Itm ii blocks a fr[     ] block & a forme

In a nother Chamber
Itm one Featherbed a bolster & ii pillows
Itm a Greene bed Rugge
Itm a blanket
Itm a polaxe
Itm a Certen old Iron

In the kitchinge
Itm Twoo smale kettils & one braspot
Itm Twoo Skilletts
Itm a Latch panne a skomer & bastinge ladle
Itm an Iron sprete and olde frienge panns
Itm one olde Currienge panne of brasse
Itm ix pewter dishes
Itm Twoo Butter dishes Twoo Sawcers
one pewter bason a porringer & a salte
Itm on Chaffendish & ii Candlesticks brasse
Itm a Chalderne of brasse
Itm Twoo trene platters Certen trenchers
and wooden dishes & a smale bole
Itm Certen Earthen vesseles
Itm Two woodden Bottles
Itm on brewinge Tubbe & iiii killers
Itm Certen olde Caske & a olde quart pot
Itm a Little forme and other Trumperye
Itm ii bordes and Twoo Cannes
Itm a Tubb a Choppinge borde a Cussinge
Itm half a Barril ii [kinderkings?] ii pails

Certen Linnen

Itm Twoo paire of sheets
Itm Twoo pillowberes
Itm v Table napkins
Itm a bible

His Apparell

Itm a Cloke Twoo Dubletts ii shirts a bond
Itm more on Dublet Cloth at the Taylors
Itm a Hatte



xiiis ivd

} iis
iiis iiiid

iiis ivd
iis vid
vis viiid


iis vid

  Som totall xvii li xix s ixd
                                                Edward Depden
    Robtt Lytell                  Anthony Mighell
Summa tolis }                            Edm. Hill
[hunis Fur?] }    xvii li xix s ix d
Symonds Page
[End of second sheet]
Detts out of his Dett book
good and badd theise as Followeth
Settawaie of pakefieldxvd
William Mihells of Cothivexiid
William Bacon of Lowestoftexviiid
Harry Coue a barrel of Fish}xiiis vii d
and for Ward
Thomas Clarkevis iid
Thomas Ellis of Ashbyevis xd
Matthew Lansley a devonshiremanvis iid
Nicholas Burton of Cothiveiis viid
Mathew witchinghm of yarmouthiis vid
Thomas gray of Lowestofteiis vid
Edward godson of the same towneiis iid
John Stephens of hastingevis xd
Lawrance Corbettxviiid
Thomas brooke of Beclesxiiiid
      Springole of yarmouthvis ixd
Thomas gray of Lowestoftexixd
Robt h[al?]willxs vid

Edward Depden [merchant]
Edm:Hill [merchant]
Simon Page [weaver]
Anthony Mighell [gentleman]
Robtt Lyttell [cordwainer]
[End of third sheet]
[Probate executed 17 May 1602 by William Edglie]


1 natte - mat
2 Danske - Danish: chests were often made of imported Danish softwood
3 Hogside - hogshead, i.e. barrel
4 shredds - ? possibly pieces of wood, metal or leather
5 skupper - perhaps "scuppet", a scoop or shovel, sometimes with a leather blade
6 stiffe - ? possibly some kind of tool/artefact
7 seats - possibly pieces of leather sewn to boots/shoes as heel foundations
8 shave - a cutting/paring tool
9 wanton - rope which secured load to packsaddle or horse
10 Latch pan(ne) - vessel used to catch grease dropping from roasted meat
11 skomer - skimmer
12sprete - spit
13Currienge - poss. curing, or dicing up meat
14Chaffendish - chafing dish: a shallow metal pan used to keep food warm
15 Killers - keelers: shallow tubs for cooling liquids
16 Cussinge - prob. cushion (the h being missed out.)
17 Pillowberes - pillowcases
18 Bond - band (a shirt band)
19 Cothive - Covehithe, Suffolk
20 Devonshireman - perhaps literally so; also a generic term for someone from south/southwestern coast
21 Hastinge - Hastings


  1. 'Mathew Witchingham':
    Mathew Witchingham was of course a cousin of Nashe on his mother's side, a fisherman who had moved from Lowestoft to Yarmouth.

  2. Mighell:
    i.e., Michael. This is not an uncommon variant of the name in Norfolk. Nashe himself uses the spelling in Have With You To Saffron-walden, when he accuses Gabriel Harvey of borrowing money off an apprentice printer called Mighell, and not repaying.

  3. 'kinderkings': this is my best guess at a word which is very indistinct on the photocopy. I'm guessing it's a local variant for 'kilderkins', small barrels.

Site maintained by R. Lamb
Top of page