4.13. The Nero A.x Manuscript in England

Nothing is known about the transfer of the Nero A.x manuscript to Henry Saville of Banke (1568 to 1617,) when we hear about it for the first time towards the end of the sixteenth century.  There is some indication [PUTTER96] (p.36.) that John Paston II owned a copy of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight prior to his death in 1479.  Humfry Newton (1466-1536) of Macclesfield produced some poems in the alliterative style and diction of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight [ROBBINS43] [ROBBINS50] [SALTER83] (p.62) suggesting that he had at least had access to a copy of the work of the Gawain-Poet.

A Savil and a Catterall were fellow monks at Whalley Abbey in the last decades of the fourteenth century [WHITAKER72].  This could be an indication, if no more, that there was a possible route for the manuscript getting into Saville hands if James Cottrell sent a copy of his work back to his relation in Whalley Abbey a century before the dissolution of the monasteries.  As far as the possible Paston manuscript is concerned, John Paston II held the manor of Paston (and other lands in north east Norfolk.)  The manor of Gimingham, about 3 miles from Paston was held of the Duke of Lancaster, who was the only major land-owner in that region.  The first of the Pastons, Clement (d. 1419), “had in Paston five or six score acres of land at most,” “much of that bond land belonging to the Gimingham Hall Manor.”  Clement's son William (1378-44) “purchased much land in Paston … he had a lordship in Paston but no manor house”  William's son, John Paston I (1421-66) claimed a manor at Paston “too the great loss of the Duchy of Lancaster” (quotations from [VIRGOE89]) and it was his son Sir John Paston II (1442-79) who probably had a copy of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  There were also marriages between the family of James Cottrell with Talbots and between Talbots and Pastons in the fifteenth century..  The Newtons of Newton and Pownall near Wilmslow were neighbours of the Booths and the family of James Cottrell   The Newtons were connected with the Booths via marriages with the Mainwarings.  Hardly strong evidence, but we do have links between Saville, Paston, Newton, the Duchy of Lancaster and the family of James Cottrell.