Feckless Fools: Part Four

Sir Humphrey Kynaston (1468-1534), Jay Cool’s 12th Gread Grandad & 15th Great Uncle, of Myddle Castle and Nescliffe Cave, Shropshire

On awakening, bright and early, or more likely befuzzled and early, with a splitting headache, Lots-of-Greats Granduncledad Humphrey [1]needed a quick fix. What better than a ride into Shrewsbury for a little therapeutic impulse shopping at the market? Little did Humphrey know – because, in spite of sharing his home with the devil, he knew very little about crystal ball predictions – that his arch enemy, the under Sheriff, had instructed a band of armed men to dismantle a section of the bridge Humphrey and Beezlebub would cross on their way back from market.  But Beezlebub was no fool of a horse and he’d always secretly wished for a career in showjumping, (because, let’s face it, any kind of a career was a step up from being a grown man’s bed companion). Leaping across the whole width of the River Severn, Beezlebub landed his owner safely on the other side; at which point, the bushes all came to life, as the armed men, all disappointed and frustrated, bobbed their greenery up and down. [2] They looked like eejits – and Humphrey had escaped into the no-man’s land of the lawless Welsh Marshes.[3]
On depositing his master, Humphrey, safe and sound, at the top of the steep steps to their cave, the trusty stead was rewarded with a bale of hay, which had most considerately been gifted to him by the locals. Humphrey looked on jealously, as Beezlebub munched and burped, because, alas, it wasn’t Sunday yet, and his mother only brought him dinner on a Sunday. Not that Humphrey was at risk of going hungry because, along with the hay, the locals had left their protector with a good supply of corn and a bowl of deliciously cold chicken-head broth. It might be surprising that anyone bothered to reach out with a palm leaf to one such as Humphrey, but they didn’t do so out of kindness; they did so out of necessity. The locals were none too rich and Humphrey was generous, frequently sharing out his spoils. There has always been within my family an internal conflict of loyalties between the countryside and the seaside, and it may well have been that Humphrey really ought to have sought out a career at sea, as a pirate. He liked a good fight, as long as he had plenty of back up and the other person had none, and he liked to share his winnings with others. And, once he’d had his fill, he’d even abandon his women, and leave them free to be recycled.

A good fight, and plenty of back up, and Humphrey was made up! And, in the end, this even helped him to make up with the powers that be. Like all immortal Kings, Henry VII kicked the bucket, and was succeeded by his son, another Henry who, unlike his father had the very clever policy of keeping his friends close and the criminal element of society even closer. And what is even more incredible about this story, is that Henry VIII just happens to be another relative of mine – my third cousin, and only sixteen times removed!

With his hot-temper, his flaming-red-locks, and his forgiving nature, I had rather hoped we might have a closer connection than that, but on with the story …

Tired of hiding out in a cave, and with a stead ready for a career break, his last shot before retirement in equestrian heaven, Humphrey decided to put on a show of loyalty to the new and fresh-faced King. Gathering around him an army of about one hundred men, with a number of other Kynastons in their company, but otherwise mostly consisting of common folk who owed him a few favours, Humphrey set off, in 1513, across the seas to France, without even having the sanction of an official standard, to fight on behalf of the King.

So many men did Humphrey slaughter on the battlefields of France – just a few lonely shepherds who happened to be walking the same path – that Henry, on hearing of Humphrey’s heroic deeds and his ability to recruit so many fighters, invited his new pal to court in London, whereupon he forgave him all of his past crimes (20th May 1571). I have the suspicion that his motive for this, however, may have been more to do with the fact that Humphrey and his brothers, could boast of the type of murder, that of a Cat
holic priest, that the new King, who fancied himself to be the only authority of the matter of religion, approved of.
In 1486, Humphrey and a gang of twenty-four men, who again included his older half-brother Thomas Kynaston, undertook a nightly raid on Owestry Castle, at which they murdered several of the inhabitants therein, including a priest, who went by the name of Sir Thomas Kyffin. Humphrey left the scene a little better off, with a loot including two hundred pounds, me plate and other apparel. Not content with that, he followed up with a raid on Felton Aber, taking sixty pounds and a good supply of corn from the stocks which had been held therein at the order of the recently deceased Sir Thomas Kyffin, who had the responsbillity of being the keeper of the grain for the Lord of Owestry Castle, Thomas FitzAlan (also the seventh Earl of Arundel).
Here was a man who could take on the Catholic church singlehandedly, albeit with a gang of sycophants in tow, and not only that, but could summon up as many sycophants as might be required to suit any occasion. Uncle Humphrey was the kind of man, my cousin, Henry, could rely on. And, as he was once more a free man, some kindly relatives assisted Humphrey in a house move, from cave to town house, in Welshpool. Now an eligible bachelor, if a little battle-worn and suffering from a complete lack of conscience with regards to his past misdemeanours, Humphrey, with scant regard for Beezlebub’s feelings, cast aside his old be pal, and replaced him with wife number three, Isabella Maredudd.
Six children later, Humphrey realized that the responsibilities of being a father were far more wearing to his good health, than were all his days of criminality and deviance, and in 1535, with white hair, chest pains and chronic fatigue syndrome, he passed away, leaving most of his lands and tenements to his eldest son Edward  by Isabella [4], and some property in Knockyn to Isabella, and his younger son Roger. [5]
Some say that poor old Granduncledad Humphrey passed away in his house at Welshpool, but the messages from my DNA tell me otherwise, and I rather prefer to believe that Humphrey preferred to meet his maker in the location he thought most likely to result in a reunion with a long, lost kindred spirit – the one and only true love of his life – Beezlebub. Feeling that the end was near, Humphrey departed from his Welshpool abode in the middle of the night, was transported via a curtesy car – a horse and rider, provided by the landlord of The Three Pigeons – and carried back to his cave at Nesscliffe; where, all snug as a bug, inside a horse-hair rug, we once more find Humphrey. Dead and gone forever. [6]
Copyright owned by Jay Cool (Who is Jay Cool?)

[1] Without recourse to Paracetamol!
[2] Looking like some potato grass-head growing kits that children now pay good money for at Poundland!
[3] The best equivalent today, being the Costa del Sol in Spain, where many a wanted English man has hidden out, to avoid conviction in a British court of law.
[4] There is some confusion here about which Edward, as, in between Mariona and Isabella, it has been rumoured, by some, that Humphrey had an interim wife, named Margred William, whom he married in about  1497, with whom he had two children, Elsbeth (c. 1502) and Edward (c. 1515).
[5] Needless to say, I haven’t yet seen any of this inheritance, but my door will be open when t
he ‘Heir Hunters’ from the BBC come knocking. I have my eye on a small cottage, called Dracup’s Cottage, in Bridgenorth, Shropshire (as featured in in the article ‘For Sale: Curious Cottage Complete with Cave’, published by The Shropshire Star, on Feb 11th2009). This unique structure
expands down into a basement cave of endless hand-chiselled, chambers – surely be an appropriate expenditure and fitting abode for a descendant of Humphrey’s!
[6] Fortunately, all is not lost, because Humphrey Kynaston, my 12th Great Grandfather married Lady Isabella Maredud, my 12th Great Grandmother; and one of his siblings, Jane Kynaston (1466-1531, my 14th Great Grandmother, had the wisdom to marry Roger Thornes (1445-1531, my 14th Great Grandfather) and now, I am here to carry on Humphrey’s legacy – not the murdering part – I’m skipping that bit – but, being a vegetarian, I am a living tribute to Humphrey’s true love Beezlebub! And, also, I do rather like the idea of going for a run, hiding out for a while, and then re-emerging to a white-gloved handshake and a big-fat cheque from the Queen. But, failing the cheque, I’ll settle for one of her purple hats (Yes, I know they are expensive, but I’ve already made my own version, in lieu of getting hold of the real article! [Plate *], and the loan of a handsome body guard!


The following sources were referred to during Jay Cool’s research:
https://www.revolvy.com/topic/Humphrey%20Kynaston&uid=1575 – Revolvy


‘Antiquities and Memoirs of the Parish of Myddle: County of Salop (A.D. 1700)’ by Richard Gough  (Henry Sotheran & Co., London, 1875).

‘Pursing an Outlaw – The Real Wild Humphrey Kynaston’ by David Hamilton, in (The New English Review Press, June, 2011).

Credits: The photo of Henry VIII is licensed for use as a ‘Creative Commons’ image and comes from the following blog: https://goodgentlewoman.wordpress.com/tag/henry-viii/

Disclaimer: Please refer to Jay Cool’s ‘About the Author’ blog post.

Published by The Silly-Savvy Salopian

Freelance writer and descendant of the cave dweller and outlaw, Humphrey Kynaston. Banished from Shropshire for my eccentricity, I have made my home in Suffolk. I write poetry, short stories, travel journals, comedy gig reviews and non-fiction articles. My wish is to write my way back into the heart of my birth land. All writing commissions (and free holidays in Shropshire!) considered.

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