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

The following is an inventory of the goods of William Blancher, the shoemaker husband of Nashe's cousin Elizabeth. The valuation was taken after his death in 1602, and indicates Blancher had 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 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" 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 hobnobbed with earls. Most were of humble middle class origins, though they sometimes travelled far from them. 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 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
12. sprete - spit
13. Currienge - poss. curing, or dicing up meat
14. Chaffendish - 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
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:
    This is not an uncommon name in Norfolk. Oddly enough, Nashe uses the spelling in Have With You To Saffron-walden, when he accuses Gabriel Harvey of borrowing money and not repaying:
    ...it is a world to heare how malicious tongues will slaunder a man with truth, and giue out, how of one Mighell (somtimes Dexters man in Powles Church-yard, though now he dwells at Exceter) he should borrow ten shillings to buy him shooes and stocking, and when it came to repayment, or that he was faine to borrow of another to satisfie and paye him (as he will borrow so much fauor of him he nere saw before) no less than halfe a crowne out of that ten shillings he forswore, & rebated him for vsurie. Conte~t your self, it was a hard time with him; let not Mighel and Gabriell (two Angels) fal out for a trifle:...

    Whether this means Dexter's man was a fellow-countryman of Nashe, or just someone called 'Michael' whose name Nashe automatically spelled in the usual east-country way, I can't say.

    June 22, 2002: Curiously enough, I just stumbled across a reference to a Michael Harte, bookseller of Exeter, who trained in London under Robert Dexter:

    'At the end of the sixteenth century Michael Harte appears to have run a large and successful business in Exeter. He was the son of John Harte, shoemaker of Exeter but left his native city to learn his trade, being appenticed to John Windet, citizen and stationer of London on 29 September 1585 and turned over to Andrew Maunsell and then to Robert Dexter when he succeeded Maunsell at the Brazen Serpent in about 1590. He became a freeman of the Stationers' Company on 5 October 1592 and his name appears in the imprint of George Gifford's Dialogue concerning witches and witchcraft. He left London soon after to return to Exeter where he became a freeman by succession on 31 December 1593, operating as a bookseller in the parish of St Martin until his death twenty years later.'
    Is this Nashe's 'one Mighell', who was certainly Dexter's man in 1592 though now (i.e.1596) he dwells at Exeter? If so, it was perhaps during the time Harvey stayed with the printer John Wolfe in late 1592 that he allegedly borrowed ten shillings off 'Mighell'.
    [Extract taken from 'Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History :13 The inventory of Michael Harte, bookseller of Exeter' at http://bookhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2007/01/harte.html]

  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.

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