From the Cracks of History

Philip Carter celebrates the lives reclaimed by the newly-published Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Here are three people you may not have heard of and who rarely make it into the history books.
Frances Matthew (d.1629) was the wife of Tobie Matthew, dean of Durham and, from 1606, archbishop of York. Frances complemented her husband throughout his promotion in the church. Ever ‘busy with Scripture’, she was much in demand by mothers seeking to place their daughters in her household. But Frances’s own family life was less steady. Of her surviving sons, one was a wastrel and one a convert to Roman Catholicism who later became a Jesuit. A disappointed father all but wrote his children from his will, bequeathing his property to Frances. In the year before her death she transferred his collection of 3,000 books to the dean and chapter at York and so established the York Minister Library – evidence, according to her monument, of ‘exemplary wisdom [and] ... virtues not only above her sex, but the times’.

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