Looking through my mothers old family tree information I came across an interesting story of Simon Lidbetter (Ledbetter) and Anne Bolyne and Henry VIII that members may be interested in.
This story is taken from the Steyning Parish (Sussex England) Magazine No.120 December 1929......
"...this was addressed to us through a mutual friend by the Rev.S.Lidbetter, until lately Vicar of Loys Weeden, Northants. Mr Lidbetter, who has now attained an age of more than four score years, received about three years ago from one who is no longer living a statement relating to a certain Andrew Lidbetter who is said to been Vicar of Steyning in the early days of Henry VIII and who, apparently, came to an untimely end at the Vicarage here.
The statement runs this way : - "One Simon Ledbeter, married Rosa Swift in 1405. Their son was William who had the gift of necromancy (or magic). His sister Julia (ie William’s sister) married John Lake who took the name of Ledbeter; their son John married Margaret (surname unknown). John and Margaret Ledbeter had a little boy. Andrew, who rose to be one of the most learned Clerks (or Clergy) of his day, and was given the cure (or benefice) of Steyning. He edited a work on Philosophy, wrote a Treatiseon Theology, various Essays on Nature, and a Book of Sermons. You may pick these up in some old curio shop when least expecting to do so. Andrew died comparatively young; but his fame was brought to the notice Henry VIII, who promised him a high position at Court if he would write a sonnett (or short poem) wxtoolling his (Henry’s) charm. Andrew refused to do this, greatly to the indignation of his foolish but pretty wife Tilly, who gave him no peace thereafter, and is said to have aided and abetted the King’s envoys in administering poison to poor Andrew when he returned to his country vicarage. An inscription was put up somewhere in the church (in the choir) by his sons many years after, on discovering a letter written by him when in death’s agonies; - his sons were Simon and Peter. There is a rumour that, at the Court of Henry VIII, a fair lady, Lady Margaret Beaulieu, pressed her attentions upon this humble but learned Clerk and that he fled, more to escape her allurements than meaning to offend the King. But he held the King’s Court in deadly horror and wrote a statement to that affect; and he mentions in that letter the Lady Anne Bolyne as helping his escape from the Court, whereby the Lady Anne Bolyne made an enemy of the Lady Margaret of Beaulieu by so doing. All this can be proved by reference to ancient Histories.
Simon did credit to his father, and married one of gentle birth a lady of great beauty and poverty, of Italian extraction, a refugee daughter of Simon de Monlief. “There is a little place near, (Bramber), and Simon bought some land there; and through the fortunes of war, he was knighted. But he was the only knight of his ancestry as the line descended only indirectly after that and chiefly through the female sex.
The family certainly boasts honest renown; but there appears to have been no renewal of the clerkly lore until about the 17th Century when one, Simon Edward Ledbetter, became Rector of Stillingford, near Bexhill; and his son was tutor to Lord Malmesbury’s sons, and was greatly beloved by them. But the line was now carried on by his brother William.”
“It has given me much pleasure in thus helping you in your investigations of the history of your ancestors. You should go to Bramber, and in that neighbourhood seek for further information.”
“It is no wonder that Mr. Lidbetter, who has kindly entrusted this statement to us should desire to know whether this remarkable story can be substantiated. It is a great pity that the writer of the statement does not give the precise sources of his information. We can, however, fix an approximate date for the fact that Anne Boleyn (who aided Andrew Ledbeter) was beheaded in 1536, and that Andrew was “comparatively young” when he died, limits the events to the early parts of that century. But locally theare are only two ways by which the statement that Andrew was vicar of Steyning could be confirmed. The first was the memorial inscription said to be in the Choir; but all the memorials at the east end of the church perished when the central tower fell about 1578, and the other is our list of Vicars; - but that is blank between 1441 and 1535. Thus we have no local confirmation of the story. “
This was the earliest reference to the Ledbeter (Lidbetter and the twenty four different spellings of the name) in the Sussex area. The Lidbetter name is still around in Bramber, Sussex area in which I am descended. I hope this is of interest to members. This is not the only story of Lidbetter run ins with royalty in the Bramber area...you can find another Quaker story “Was it High Treason”.