Margery (Brews)

c1460-1495

Margery Brews, the daughter of Sir Thomas Brews, demonstrates just how the story of the Paston family can veer from hard-nosed ambition to deeper personal feelings.

Although she was betrothed to John Paston III, he was reluctant to marry her unless her parents increased her dowry, which inspired her to write what is considered to be the earliest existing Valentine (or ‘Voluntyne’) in the English language, where she promises to be a good wife, telling John III ‘if you love me, I trust… you will not leave me’ (If that ye loffe me as Itryste verely that ye do ye will not leffe me’)..

Whether this heartfelt missive swayed John III we cannot say, although the couple did marry later that same year, and their son William continued the story of the Pastons. Whether Margery’s letter was a genuine expression of love or a shrewd move to ensure she married well, her letter continues to have a charm and attraction over 500 years later.