Rowland Vaughan, of Court, Pembrey, was a wealthy and important landowner, who died in 1635. In a previous newsletter article, I wrote about the inventory of his estate, which was mainly concentrated on his lands on Gower. In this article, I shall deal with the inventory of the contents of Court at that time.
Unfortunately, no names of rooms are given, but the inventory shows that Court was a well furnished house for the period. Five men ‘prised and valued’ the contents of the house, including Lewis Morgan and David Bennett. They were probably professional men, a mixture of lawyers and auctioneers.
There was a large collection of plate, including silver and pewter. The most valuable silver item, valued at fifty shillings, was a ‘sylver beer bowle with a cover guilte’ (gilt). Other silver items included wine bowls, a salt cellar and spoons. Pewter was in widespread use for plates, candlesticks, a basin, saucers and even ‘two pewter chamber potts’. The only jewellery that was mentioned were ‘three gould rynggs’, valued at thirty three shillings.
There were some 14 chairs in the house, including ‘ffive chayres of greene cloath frynged’, which were valued at sixteen shillings. There were also 2 stools ‘of yellow cloth unfrynged’. There is no mention of tables or benches which must have been in the house. A possible explanation for this is that these would have been huge, solid items which were non-portable and therefore regarded as part of the fixtures rather than moveable (and saleable) contents. Clothes and other possessions were stored in trunks, and 5 are listed, valued at twenty shillings. A four-poster bed ‘with 3 courten rodds’, was valued at a mere four shillings, whilst a large collection of bedlinen was valued at five pounds.
Fabrics and soft furnishings are itemised in great detail, including kersey (a type of woollen cloth), Holland sheets, broadcloth, ‘courtens’, ‘sylken searge’ and ‘sylke’. Kersey must have been a particularly valuable material (imported from Kersey in Suffolk), as ‘one piece of newe kersie’ was valued at £5. Table carpets were popular and highly valued, which is why they were not used as floor coverings; Court had some five of them.
Other miscellaneous items include ‘one ffowling piece’ (a gun) and a pistol, valued together at 30 shillings; a brass kettle, pans, skillets and a wooden voyder (tray). There were 2 Bibles and other small books, valued together at 16 shillings.
A small quantity of livestock is valued. The most valuable animal was a white gelding (perhaps Rowland Vaughan’s riding horse?), valued at £6. Other animals listed include cattle, pigs and poultry.
The most valuable item, though, in the inventory was ‘the decedentes wearing apparel with one sworde one belt one girdle and hangers’, valued at £30; in other words, Rowland Vaughan’s best clothes. The reason for the extremely high value is that clothes were extremely expensive and the sword would have cost a lot of money. Carrying a sword in the 1630s was a real status symbol, and marked Rowland Vaughan out as a gentleman.