Perdita woman: Mary Love


While Mary Love's "The Life of Mr. Christopher Love" gives details of her husband's early life, it provides almost no record of her own. The author mentions only that her father was Matthew Stone, a reputable London merchant, who died by 1639, leaving her under the guardianship of John Warner, then sheriff of London (p.58).1 It was in this year that she met Christopher Love, who was serving as chaplain to Warner's family. Although Mary Love claims that she and her future husband lived together in the Warner household for the next six years, Christopher Love appears to have traveled extensively during this time, and he served as a parliamentary army chaplain in Colonel John Venn's Windsor regiment from October 1642 to May 1645 (Anne Laurence, Parliamentary Army Chaplains 1642-1651, p.149). On 9 April 1645, the couple wed at St Giles in the Field Church, London. Mary Love notes that she brought an "Estate" to the marriage, which was managed by herself and her brother, since her husband chose to immerse himself in his ministerial duties (p.66). Christopher Love had been ordained as a Presbyterian minister at Aldermanbury Church in 1644, and in 1647 became lecturer at St Ann's, Aldersgate, moving three years later to St Lawrence Jewry. From 1646 to 1651 the Loves had five children. The first, a daughter named Mary, lived only a few days. The second, also named Mary, died at the age of two. A son, Christopher, and another daughter, Mary, reached adulthood. Their last child, James, was born thirteen days after his father's death, and lived less than seven months (Don Kistler, A Spectacle Unto God, pp.33-36).

During the late 1640s Christopher Love, like many Presbyterians, became disillusioned with Parliament, and in 1651 the minister was condemned to death on charges of corresponding with exiled Stuart royalty and guaranteeing English Presbyterian support for an alliance between Charles and the Scots. The previous December, a pass to Amsterdam had been obtained for the minister's wife, possibly in connection with these intrigues (Dictionary of National Biography entry for Christopher Love). Whether or not Mary Love ever actively engaged in plots against Parliament is unclear, but her support for her husband appears to have been unwavering. The couple's correspondence during Christopher Love's imprisonment, which bears witness to a devout mutual respect and love, was published after his death in collections entitled Loves Letters and Love's Name Lives. The latter also contains four of Mary Love's petitions to Parliament on behalf of her husband. These petitions contributed to his sentence being suspended for one month, but on 22 August 1651 he was beheaded on Tower Hill.

Within two years of his death, Christopher Love's widow married Edward Bradshaw, mayor of Chester in 1648 and 1653. The parish records for St Peter's Church in Chester testify that between 1653 and 1662 four daughters and two sons were born to the couple. Yet despite remarrying and moving, Mary Love appears to have retained both an interest in her first husband's memory and a relationship with London Presbyterians. The 1654 edition of The Combate Between the Flesh and the Spirit is dedicated to Edward and Mary Bradshaw by Christopher Love's executors, Edmund Calamy, Simeon Ashe, Jeremiah Whitaker and William Taylor. Taylor's introduction to the sermon collection highlights the "special interest" that the couple have "to any thing of Master Loves" (sig. A2r). At the Restoration Mary Love seems to have lost little time in pleading her first husband's cause, for the Journals of the House of Commons record that on 12 June 1660 the "humble petition of Mary late wife of Christopher Love and Major James Winstanley, her brother, Citizen of London, was read". (Winstanley may be the unidentified "brother" mentioned in the "Life", the difference in his surname and her maiden name indicating that he was either a step-brother or brother-in-law.) The petitioners asked that Richard Keeble, one of the officers involved in Christopher Love's trial, be excepted from the Act of Oblivion; this was granted, although Keeble's life was spared. On 7 July, another motion was made to prosecute the judges who had condemned Christopher Love to die, but this was immediately rejected. No information is given as to who prompted this second motion, but it is probable that the widow and her brother at least knew about it. A letter written by Edward Bradshaw on 19 March 1660/1 reveals that both he and his wife were once again in London, watching the city election (State Papers, Domestic, 29.32.99). The letter also mentions that his wife had been frequently ill. The fact that she was pregnant at this time could account for her sickness; alternatively, her ill health could reflect a more serious condition that might have led to her death less than two years later. Although Kistler claims that Mary Love must have been alive in 1670 since she is listed as a beneficiary in Edward Bradshaw's will written that year, the person mentioned is actually her daughter of the same name. According to the St Peter's Church records, "Mary wife unto Mr Edward Bradshaw" died on 14 May 1663.

See also new ODNB entry for 'Love (nee Stone), Mary (1639-1660)'.

British Library: Sloane MS 3945, fols. 78-113
Biography of Christopher Love (after 1660)
Mary Love (Author)

Dr. Williams's Library: MS 28.58
Biography of Christopher Love (after 1660)
Mary Love (Author)

Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies: D/EP F32
Diary, Volume 4 (1706-1709)
(Author, Scribe) Sarah Cowper