The First Matriarch, c.1398 - 1479
This is the first public page dedicated to the character of Agnes (de Berry) Paston; yet her voice and story have been hiding in plain sight, within the letters. By creating this page we're writing Paston women back into history.
Image of a letter from Agnes Paston, 1436/40.
© British Library, Add MS 34888, f.4r.
Possibly Agnes' handwriting, as the letter closes with 'for defaute of a good secretarye. Yowres, AGN. PASTON'.
Find out more about Agnes
Explore a 3D medieval reconstruction of St Margaret's Church in Paston where Agnes and her husband William worshiped for most of their lives.
Agnes Paston, c. 1398-1479
Biography by Dr Karen Smyth
Agnes de Berry married Judge William Paston when he was 42; she was 20 years his junior. The co-heiress of Hertfordshire knight Sir Edmund Berry, she brought more to the marriage than mere financial gain. While William was away attending to his legal duties, Agnes was in charge of the estates in Norfolk, acting as a more than capable deputy, dealing with the demands placed upon her as well as providing William with several children. The marriage was not only advantageous: it appears also to have been happy, judging from their correspondence. Following William's death in 1444, Agnes remained as the matriarch of her family as they continued on their upward path. She was buried in Whitefriars, Norwich. Our date of Agnes' birth is an estimate, based on her being 22 years younger than her husband William at the time of their marriage in 1420.
Full biography coming soon
How do you imagine Agnes?
Browse through some examples below of how people have bought Agnes Paston to life. Inspired to imagine the Paston women in your own way? Share your performance, poem, blog, drawing, cake, or any other kind of creative work and find yourself featured on the creative gallery below.