The Beale Memorial
The Beale Memorial in the east corner of St. Thomas Beckett Chapel shows a pictorial history of this local Maidstone family spanning 200 years from 1399 onwards.
The Beale's held an honourable position in Maidstone at least 600 years ago, contemporary with Archbishop Courtenay the builder of All Saints church.
The memorial itself is a plate of copper 30" long and 18" wide containing a genealogy of six generations of the family the designer himself representing the seventh. It is divided into six spaces vertically, each space representing a generation. Each space is then divided into three compartments horizontally.
The central compartment contains the figures of the parents, the Christian name of the wife - or two where there was more than one wife - and the relationship of the husband to the person who erected the memorial.
The left compartment represents the sons, with the name of the one who succeeded the family honours.
The right compartment represents the daughters, all kneeling. The first and third sections, there apparently being no daughter, a short Latin sentence is introduced. In the fourth section the skull is emblematic of an early death of a daughter.
The inscription reads:-
(To the reader.)
"Etsi pietas pro defunctis flere jubeat,
Fides tamen pro eis lugere vetat"
(Even though affection bids us shed tears for the faithful dead,
Yet faith forbids us to mourn for them.)
"Thomas Beale trinepos Johannis Beale tritavi sui bis Major hujus ville, Deo Regi vivens supplex, frugali vita sua sorte contntus, vicinis charus, et boni publici hujus ville studiosus, duarum uxorum maritud, et ex illis xxi liberorum pater, obit ij die Februarii Ao. 1593, & filios sex, filiasque duas reliquit. Cujus Pater Willelmus Beale nper bis Portgrevius istius ville, egentibus jusdem sua Štate subveniens, obit Ao. 1534. Cujus Avus Robertus vivens hac villa Ao. 1490. Proavus Johannes, Ao 1461. Atavus Willelmus, Ao. 1429, sua Štate etiam Portgrevius, etunus de primus fratribus Domus Fraternitatis hujus ville, postea sepultus in Ecclesia Sti (sic) Fidei ; et Johannes ejus tritavus Ao. 1399, hic etiam obit. Viventes hic etiam bene merentes hic etiam morientes modo resurrectionem carnis in adventu Christi expectant. Quorum posteritati benedicta Deus. Quorum memoria Thomas filius dicti Thome hoe monumentum construit."
"Thomas Beale, thrice grandson (a) of John Beale his great-grandfather’s great-grandfather, twice Mayor of this town, humbly loyal to God and the King, of frugal and contented spirit, beloved by his neighbours, and studying the good of this town, the husband of two wives, and the father of twenty-one children, died February 2nd 1593, and left surviving six sons and two daughters. Whose father William Beale, lately Portreve of that town, who succoured its needy in his time, died in the year 1534 ; whose grandfather, Robert, lived in this town, and died in 1490. His great-great-grandfather, William, in 1429, having also in his time been Portreve, and one of the first of the Brethren of the Fraternity (of Corpus Christi) in this town, was buried in the Church of St. Faith. And John, his great-great-great-grandfather, also died in the year 1399. Here they lived, earning a good report ; here too, dying, look for the resurrection of the flesh at the advent of Christ. May God’s blessing rest on their posterity. Thomas, the son of the said Thomas, erects this monument in their memory."
(a)Through three sets of generations a grandson
The Genealogical Table below may better explain the line of family descent in the reverse order.
'Tritavus' whose wife's name
not given died in 1399.
One son (William) 'filius' and, on the right hand side no daughters, but the inscription 'Aerumnarum requies mor's (death is a rest from trouble).
WILLIAM 'Atavus' Portreve one of the Corpus Christi Brotherhood married Katherine died 1429. Two sons and two daughters survived him, all unnamed. John 'nepos' (below) was the second son.
JOHN 'Pavus' was a Wine Cooper (Merchant) married Agnes and Alice. Died 1461. Two sons survived him, Robert 'puepos' the elder, and another whose name is not know. On the right hand side 'non potest male mori qui bene vixerit' (whoever has lived well cannot die badly).
ROBERT also a Vintner married Agnes. Died 1490. Two sons and a daughter survived him, of which William 'adepos' was the elder son. A skull fills part of the right hand side, indicating that other children died young.
WILLIAM twice Portreve 'pater' married Joan. c. 1485 - 1534 Four sons and three daughters survived him. John (c. 1520 - 1573) a Maidstone Jurat; Thomas 'Trinepos' the second; Alexander of Frittenden, William, a Tailor, of Maidstone, Margery Mrs John Clarke of Bredgar, Lucy (Mrs Austri?) and Alice.
THOMAS twice Mayor married Joan Cobb and Alicia Wolgate. c. 1525 - 1594. Of his 21 children, six sons and two daughters survived him; Clement, Thomas, William, John, Edward, Ambrose, Alice Mrs Thomas Emmott, and Elizabeth Mrs Thomas Baldock of Egerton.
THOMAS (his son) who commissioned this monument, is pictured as the second son kneeling with his brothers. Thomas married Elizabeth Master and had two children who both survived him but died in their teens.
When Thomas died in 1606, leaving two under-age children, his will requested his brother and executor William to live in his 'mansion house' in Maidstone and instructing him, and his other executor, William Masters (his wife's brother) to sell his property in Westree to pay his debts. His son was to inherit the mansion house and an annuity from lands in Frittenden, and his daughter was left some houses in East Lane. Neither of them reached the age of 21, and so the property must have gone to their father's brothers families.
Thomas's next brother was John 'Pepper' Beale was a Merchant in London. He married the daughter of a lord Mayor, and their son Sir John Beale was created a Baronet in 1660. The grove and Spain map reconstructing Maidstone in 1650 shows a large plot on the east side of Week Street owned by 'John Beale of London'.
Another younger brother Ambrose [1575-1655] was a Maidstone Jurat who married a Maplesden and had 10 children, one of whom was a Maidstone Jurat. In 1650 Ambrose lived in East Street.
In this chapel aisle, by the Priests door, can be found the Stoop originally used to hold Holy Water when the church was built and when all places of worship were Roman Catholic. This changed with Henry VIII when the break from Rome meant that certain parts of doctrine were abandoned and so the stoop ceased to be used.
This photograph has been digitally enhanced to show what it might have looked like when new
This photograph has been digitally enhanced for better clarity
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