A Scaffe at the battle of Agincourt 1415 ?

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A Scaffe at the battle of Agincourt 1415 ?


The National Archives holds some surviving muster rolls relating to the Agincourt campaign. The original manuscript entitled KNIGHTS, ESQUIRES, SERVITEURS, AND OTHERS THAT WER WITHE THE EXCELLENT PRINCE HENRY THE FIFTE, AT THE BATTELL OF AGINCOURT survives because the English exchequer had an obsession with wanting to be sure that the King’s money was being spent as intended. Consequently heralds produced lists, called indentures, of those present at the battle. As a consequence of this bureaucratic efficiency we now have the remarkable survival of indentures of service detailing the forces raised, muster rolls showing this service and naming every soldier from duke to archer. The rolls are accounts from the captains demonstrating how the money had been spent, and entries showing when the exchequer made the requested payments. Intriguingly, amongst the many names listed there is a possible Scaife treasure.

Sir Thomas Erpingham provided the king's herald with a list of names of his longbowmen and their numbers in what is now referred to as the Agincourt Honor Roll. Sir Thomas became famous as the commander of Henry V's longbowmen at the Battle of Agincourt. He was later immortalised as a character in the play Henry V by William Shakespeare. This muster roll comprises the captains known to have taken out indentures to serve on the 1415 campaign, and the men-at-arms and archers known to have served under them in the English army. A Tudor copy of the muster rolls and retinue lists can be viewed at the National Archives. (National Archives, E101/ folios 45-47). Another copy of the muster roll thought to be earlier than that in the national Archive is held by the Bodleian Library Oxford, (Ashmolean MS 825 Folios 15-35.) There are 422 men-at-arms and 5,116 archers listed of the 5,700 English participants in the battle. However, of particular interest to the Scaife researcher is the entry for Frederyk Scoffe or Scaffe an archer indented in the retinue of Raulfe Shyrley.

The possible relevance of these two surnames Scaffe/Scoffe and Shyrley appearing together on the roll may be more fully appreciated by referring the reader to an earlier article of mine entitled “These unruly people - The Percy-Bellingham-Skayf affinities and the Wars of the Roses.” "Occasional Booklet No. 20 which is available for viewing on this website. Does the 1415 muster roll indicate an earlier Scaife connection with Sussex than the Wars of the Roses or is this truly a Scoffe rather than a Scaffe and consequently a totally different surname group? After many years searching through numerous potential Scaife variants I am unaware of an English or British surname SCOFFE and cannot locate it in any of the classic British Surname Dictionaries such as those edited by C.W. Bardsley or P.H. Reaney. However, I have come across Scoff and Scoif as a mispronunciation of our surname in the Midlands (see my article Variations on a Genealogical Theme Pt.2 in the August 1999, Scaife Sentinel, Issue 7)
Which raises the intriguing question who is the Raulfe Shyrley in the 1415 muster roll? There were two branches of the Shirley family in the fifteenth century, both descended from Sir Ralph/Raulfe/Raff Shirley (1413-1466).The Shirleys of Wiston,Preston and East Grinstead, Sussex are dealt with in ”These unruly people” and are descended from the second marriage of Sir Ralph Shirley and Elizabeth Blount but the senior branch of the family descending from Sir Ralph’s first marriage to Margaret Staunton held their estates at Ettington in Warwickshire and Staunton Harold in Derbyshire. I believe it is the progenitor of these two families Sir Ralph Shirley of Ettington, Derbyshire and later Lord of Staunton Harold, Warwickshire, (1392-1455) who is the captain in the 1415 indenture. Might this Midland origin more logically explain the mispronunciation of the northern English surname Scafe as Scoffe at this date and hence a scribal entry as Scoffe by the herald? Moreover at this early date I believe it is more reasonable to find a Scafe originating in Derbyshire than Sussex.