ORB Masthead with site navigation toolbar; see bottom 
of page for text version of toolbar

Encyclopedia | Library | Reference | Teaching | General | Links | About ORB | HOME

Two Letters from Margery Brews to John Paston in February 1477.
A Valentine's Day question from Paul Hyams: Are these the first known Valentine messages, or can anyone find an earlier one? 
And how did it all come out? Did Margery get her beloved?

Unto my ryght welebelovyd Voluntyn, John Paston, Squyer, be this bill delyvered, &c.

Ryght reverent and wurschypfull, and my ryght welebeloved Volutyne, I recomande me unto yowe, ffull hertely desyring to here of yowr welefare, whech I beseche Almyghty God long for to preserve un to Hys plesur, and yowr herts desyre. And yf it please yowe to here of my welefar, I am not in good heele of body, nor of herte, nor schall be tyll I her ffrom yowe;

      For there wottys no creature what peyn that I endure,
      And for to be deede, I dare it not dyscure [discover].

And my lady my moder hath labored the mater to my ffadur full delygently, but sche can no mor gete than ye knowe of, for the whech God knowyth I am full sory. But yf that ye loffe me, as I tryste verely that ye do, ye will not leffe me therefor; for if that ye hade not halfe the lyvelode that ye hafe, for to do the grettest labur that any woman on lyve myght, I wold not forsake yowe.

      And yf ye commande me to kepe me true wherever I go,
      I wyse I will do all my myght yowe to love and never no mo.
      And yf my freends say, that I do amys,
      Thei schal not me let so for to do,
      Myne herte me bydds ever more to love yowe Truly over all erthely thing,
      And yf thei be never so wroth,
      I tryst it schall be better in tyme commying.

No more to yowe at this tyme, but the Holy Trinite hafe yowe in kepyng. And I besech yowe that this bill be not seyn of none erthely creatur safe only your selffe, &c.

And thys letter was indyte at Topcroft, with full hevy herte, &c.

    By your own,

        Margery Brews.

To my ryght welebelovyd cosyn, John Paston, Swyer, be this letter delyveryd &c.

Ryght wurschypfull and welebelovyd Volentyne, in my most umble wyse, I recommande me un to yowe, &c. And hertely I thanke yowe for the letter whech that ye sende mebe John Bekarton, wherby I undyrstonde and knowe, that ye be purposyd to come to Topcroft in schorte tyme, and withowte any erand or mater, but only to hafe a conclusyon of themater betwyx my fader and yowe; I wolde be most glad of any creatur on lyve, so that the mater myght growe to effect. And ther as ye say, and ye come and fynde the mater no more towards yowe then ye dyd aforetime, ye wold no more put my fader and my lady my moder to no cost ner besenysse, for that cause,, a good wyle aftur, wech causeth myne herte to be full hevy; and yf that ye come, and the mater take to some effecte, then schuld I be meche mor sory and full of hevynesse.

And as for my selfe, I hafe done and undyrstond in the mater that I can or may, as Good knowyth; and I let yowe pleynly undyrstond, that my fader will no more money parte with all in that behalfe, but an C li. And l. marke, whech is ryght far fro the acomplyshment of yowr desyre.

Wherfore, yf that ye cowde be content with that good, and my por persone, I wold be the meryest mayden on grounde; and yf ye thynke not yowr selffe so satysfyed, or that ye hafe mech mor good, as I hafe undyrstonde be yowe afor; good, trewe, and lovyng volentyne, that ye take no such labur uppon yowe, as to come more fo that mater, but let it passe, and never more to be spokyn of, as I may be yowr trewe lover and bedewoman duryng my lyfe.

No more unto yowe at thys tyme, but, Almyghty Jesus preserve yowe, both body and sowle, &c.

Be your Voluntyne,


[The Paston Letters, 1422-1509 A.D., ed. James Gairdner (John Grant: Edinburgh, 1910), vol. iii, pp. 170-2] This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents,including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

[Back to Late Medieval England Index]

Encyclopedia | Library | Reference | Teaching | General | Links | About ORB | HOME

The contents of ORB are copyright © 1995-1999 Laura V. Blanchard and Carolyn Schriber except as otherwise indicated herein.