The unfortunate Moss family

This is the story of how I depressed myself one day:

The other day I was trying to track down Elizabeth Moss.  The Moss(e) family was connected to William Clarke and Gilbert Mabbott, though the relationship is still unclear to me.  One HMC editor thought that Clarke may have been adopted into the Moss family, though there isn’t enough proof for that kind of assertion.  Certainly, Clarke does receive a letter from someone he calls “Mother Mosse.”

I found that there were a John and Elizabeth Moss who were having children, also named John and Elizabeth, in the later 1640s and early 1650s, this would have made them around the same age as Gilbert and William.  The baptisms were held at St. Margaret’s, the same place that Mabbott would have his children baptized.

My next piece of evidence was a letter (29 October 1650) from Mabbott’s and Clarke’s brother-in-law, Hilliard Kympton, to Clarke.  He said that he was “from my hart sorry for Mr. Moss” and that Elizabeth was “like a woman distracted” and a “miserable wretch.”  He then says the kinds of things that a person says when something terrible had happened.  At this point, I was excited by the mystery, and dug into my materials to see what I could find.

From there I found in an HMC volume two letters, drafted by Clarke, in which Elizabeth was trying to negotiate with the royalists for the release of her husband.  They were dated 1 January 1651.  Okay, so it looks like she was upset because John had been captured by royalists.  It is also clear that Elizabeth and Clarke had been trying to arrange some kind of prisoner transfer, but Cromwell decided that Moss was not worth the trade offered.  Elizabeth then tried to offer money.

I’m still not sure what exactly John Moss did, but it was apparent from the above letters that he was not part of the army, but he was connected to the war effort.  I found in the CSPD that there had been a John Mosse who brought some news to the Committee of Both Houses about the capture of Col. Powell.  At this point, I wonder about this whole family group.  Since I know that Hilliard was also involved with the New Model, it’s clear that there was a whole series of connected families that made their livings as civilian support for the military.  I guess I shouldn’t find that surprising, but I do.

Now I finally find the last piece of the puzzle.  On 25 June 1652, Elizabeth Mosse received £50 from the Council of State, “her husband having lost his life in the service.”  It looks like John was captured by royalists, held for negotiations, and when Clarke and Elizabeth couldn’t convince Cromwell to make a trade and couldn’t put together enough money to make it worthwhile, the royalists executed him.

For some reason, I just keep imagining how painful that must have been.  Can you imagine?  So much anger and pain and guilt.  I don’t know why, I just can’t shake it.  I think it might be because of that letter by Hilliard Kympton.  I just imagine how distraught Elizabeth must have been.  Then, she had the hope of some kind of prisoner exchange. Everything was going to be alright!  Then Cromwell said no, and they didn’t have the resources to pay the ransom.  It’s just awful.

Well, now I’ve gone and depressed myself again.  On a more positive note, Kympton married a Susan Moss, who, I’m guessing, was the offspring of John and Elizabeth.  However, since I know that Kympton remarried once, if not twice, Susan probably didn’t last all that long either.  I still have more looking to do in the parish registers, but at least I’ve figured the broad outlines of the Moss family tragedy.  Now I need a drink.

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Filed under Mabbott, New Model, William Clarke

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