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Paston, Margaret (1423–1484)

Paston, Margaret (1423–1484)

English gentlewoman who withstood a number of sieges. Name variations: Margaret Mauteby. Born in 1423; died in 1484; daughter of Margery Berney and John Mauteby; daughter-in-law of Agnes Paston (c. 1405–1479); married John Paston, around 1440; children: eight, includingMargery Paston Calle.

Margaret Paston is just one example of how upper-middle-class women in mid-15th century England routinely functioned in quasi-military roles. She married John Paston, son of Agnes Paston , around 1440. Over the years, her husband was frequently absent on business, leaving her to defend hearth and home. For example, in January 1450, the Paston estates at Gresham were besieged by a Lord Molynes and a thousand-strong armed force. To prepare for the siege, Margaret had written to her husband asking him to send crossbows, winches, and bolts. With only 12 other defenders, Margaret made a stand, but the walls were destroyed around her; she was evicted and the house was sacked. On two other occasions, Margaret Paston was forcibly attacked. She protected the manor of Drayton, even conducting forays in 1465 to seize property claimed both by her husband and the duke of Suffolk. After her husband's death in 1466, Margaret continued to oversee the family properties for her oldest son, who never married.


Bennett, H.S. The Pastons and their England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1932.

Haskell, Ann S. "The Paston Women on Marriage in Fifteenth-Century England," in Viator. Vol. 4, 1973, pp. 459–471.

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