Perdita woman: Margaret Pelham


Margaret Pelham, the author of William Andrews Clark Library MSS P 381 M3 P921 [164-?] Bound v. I and III, two volumes of prayers, was the daughter of Sir Henry Vane and his wife Frances Darcy. Sources are contradictory on the exact number of children they had (11, 12, or 17), but Margaret was probably the oldest daughter, given that she was the first of the daughers to get married (John Willcock, The Life of Sir Henry Vane the Younger: Statesman & Mystic (1613-1662), London: St. Catherine Press, 1913, pp. 351-354 "Appendix II: Particulars of Family History of the Vanes"). Her eldest brother was Sir Henry Vane, the Younger, the politician and author, and friend of Milton. On 3 June 1640 Margaret Vane married Sir Thomas Pelham, Baronet, of Halland, Sussex (Willcock). It is uncertain how many children were born to them, but they had at least one daughter, Philadelphia, who was baptized in 1654 (Warren M. Billings, "Francis Howard", The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.) From the evidence of Pelham's prayers, in addition to their daughter they had at least one son, and at least one other child who died young. Thomas Pelham's father seems to have been a prominent puritan in Sussex during the Caroline period, helping to institute a puritan lectureship in Lewes (see the entry in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for Anthony Stapley by Bertha Porter, rev. J.T. Peacey). His son may have shared those sympathies. Margaret's theology certainly leans in that direction, with its careful charting of her spiritual highs and lows, emphasizing her sin and God's mercy.

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library: MSS P 381 M3 P921 [164-?] Bound v. I and III
Prayers (c. 1640-1680)
Margaret Pelham (author, scribe)