Randle Holme I of Chester (1570-1655)
You were born to Thomas Holme of Chester, a blacksmith, and went onto become a member of the Chester Company of Painter-Stainers, Glaziers, Embroiderers, and Stationers, as part of which you occupied a trade as a herald painter. You were also a keen genealogist, establishing an early tradition for antiquarian research in this corner of the country (one your children would keenly continue!).
You were apprenticed early in life to Thomas Chaloner, the Norroy King of Arms, in 1587, and so despite a relative lack of higher education you had close connections with individuals in such high office. (Chaloner was also an early portraitist—something crucial for both you and your talented artist children…).
Much of your writing and manuscripts will survive you to prove interesting to future historians.
Much of your money came from painting hatchments and marshalling funerals, and in fact you created 121 heraldic/funeral certificates across your career! As noted, Chaloner’s influence brushes off on you, and you even branch out into portrait painting—a profession or “art” your son, Randle Holme II, helped extend, with both of you proving influential in introducing a new style of formalised figure painting to Cheshire and surrounding areas (an exciting development for gentry seeking selfies!).
Amelia Lanyer (1611) (as an adult)
After your early years and education, you went on to use your humanist knowledge and literary skills to earn a living. You style yourself, audaciously perhaps, as “mistress” on the title page of your 1611 poetry publication, Salve Deus Rex Iudaeorum (a tour de force in which you attack patriarchal privilege in no uncertain terms). The title even indicates your own independence as a writer, quite separate from any marital ties.
Indeed, the opening addresses in this collection illustrate the range of elite social networks with which you engage or from which you seek patronage, including patrons from Queen Anne and Lucy, Countess of Bedford to a wider remit of broader social groups—to “vertuous Ladies in generall.”
Although your and your husband underwent financial difficulties in the late 1600s and 1610s, your writing indicates the ability to make use of literate skills for survival—even if your claim on “middling” status remains “precarious”…
Inventory: Thomas Langlie (St John’s, Bristol), scrivener (1624)
BRO, EP J/4/18, Bundle 1624
A true and p[er]fect inventerie of all and singular the goods cattles
Chattles creditts and rights of Thomas Langlie late of the parish
of St John Baptist within the cittie of Bristoll scrivener
taken prised and valued the XVth daie of March in
the yeere of our lord god 1622 by Henry
Parson and Alexander Comberbatch as
Followeth viz /
Imprimis a ^flock^ bed a paire of sheets and a boulster Vis
Item in pewter XVIs
Item two crocks and a kettle XIIs
Item a paire of Iron dogs & iiii small broaches IIIs
Item two little halfe headed bedsteeds VIIIs
Item two chests at Vs
Item two little table boords & a halfe a dozen of stooles Vis
Item one chaire and a box IIs