Object in focus: Lady Hawyse de Powys seal matrix

Lady Hawyse de Powys (Lady Hawyse of Powis was born on 25 July 1291.  This seal matrix shows that she was a lady with a status of her own, able to write and sign documents, just like her husband but unlike most women of her day.

An image of a silver seal matrix belonging to Lady Hawyse de Powys dating back to the 14th century.

Seal Matrix of Lady Hawyse de Powys

She was known as Hawise Gadarn (the Hardy) as her immediate family died before she reached 18 years old.  In 1309, as an heiress but under age she became a ward of her uncles.  Because she was a woman, her four her uncles disputed her claim to inherit her father’s property, and sought to split the land between themselves and send her to live out rest of her life in a nunnery.

Hawise travelled to the Parliament of Shrewsbury and petitioned Edward II of England in person. She met with him twice, and on the second occasion he asked her to nominate someone to act on her behalf as the champion of her rights. She named John Charleton, whom she subsequently married. Together with Charleton and a company of English knights, she returned to Powys Castle and successfully defeated her uncles.

#MuseumWeek #WomenMW

For the latest news and updates, follow Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.