A BIT OF SCANDAL-AGNES NEEDHAM
Agnes was a Needham, the family believed to have financed the re-building of St Luke’s Holmes Chapel in the 1400s. They had two estates, one at Cranage and the other at Shavington in Shropshire. Agnes was born at Shavington in 1547 but would have visited Cranage Hall.
She became the second wife of Sir Richard Bulkeley, Sheriff of Anglesey and Constable of Beaumaris Castle. They lived at Baron Hill in Anglesey. The house was rebuilt by Sir Richard’s son by previous marriage, Richard.
Agnes gave Sir Richard two sons, Launcelot (later Archbishop of Dublin), and Arthur. She and stepson, Richard did not get on. Once Agnes’s husband, Sir Richard had died after an illness, stepson Richard demanded his younger brother John marry a local heiress.
However Agnes had arranged for Arthur to marry her. Next thing, Agnes is accused of murdering her husband. Poison is found in a chest in her room under some slippers. She is also accused of adultery with William Kendrick “a young gallant” who “did use to walk under her window in the night time, play upon an instrument and make love to her” when Sir Richard was away.
After a court case lasting three years Agnes was acquitted of murder but found guilty of adultery. Having married again, to Lawrence Cranage of Keele, she lived the rest of her life and was buried (January 1622/3) in Holmes Chapel.
Holmes Chapel U3A, Local History Group