David Pook first appears in service at the Scots court in September 1548 when he was recorded in the Lord High Treasurer’s accounts as a ‘servand’ to Lady Barbara Hamilton. She was the eldest daughter of the Earl of Arran, regent of Scotland while Mary Queen of Scots was a child. Lady Barbara was about 15 years old when David Pook received his first livery courtesy of the royal purse. During the next five years, he acted as her lackey, running errands for her.
Between 1548 and 1550 David received three sets of new clothes worth between £5 and £7 – on two out of these three occasions he had a bonnet which cost 16s. Nearly three quarters of the bonnets described by colour at the royal Scots court were red. In total, 108 royal servants received red bonnets, and nine out of the 12 lackeys wore them suggesting they were the conventional choice of headwear for them.
In March 1549, David Pook accompanied Lady Barbara on a journey to the highlands of Scotland, which was one of the occasions when he received new clothes. By then, Lady Barbara was married to her first husband Alexander Gordon, the son of the Earl of Huntly. She and David Pook were probably travelling to Strathbogie, the seat of the Huntly family and home of Lady Barbara’s in-laws, where she lived after her marriage.
David Pook was given £4 to buy clothes for himself instead of being issued with livery cloth in December 1551. The following February, his annual ‘fee’ was recorded as £5. This shows how his livery was a very valuable addition to his wages since its cost matched them.
A precious parcel wrapped in heavy canvas and tied securely with cord was entrusted to David Pook on 13 November 1552, when he once again travelled to Strathbogie. He was reimbursed 3s 12d for the packaging, which paled into insignificance in value against its contents. In it were costly materials for new clothes for Lady Barbara. The total value was recorded as £52 9s 12d. This was more than ten times David’s own annual pay. He must have clutched it very tightly as he rode to deliver it to his mistress.
Lady Barbara was widowed on 18 September 1552 when she was about 19 years old. In the same month, David Pook was provided with a blue coat bordered in yellow English cloth, a canvas doublet, with money to buy lining for both garments and to pay for their making, along with a blue bonnet.
These modest clothes may reflect the fact that his mistress was in mourning or they may have been a more practical choice for travelling than his previous livery of ‘pile gray’, which would not wear as well on the road. The blue bonnet was also a more sombre choice than a red one and at 3s it was substantially cheaper than the red bonnets provided for other royal servants - some of which cost as much as the 16s provided for his own previous livery bonnets. David may well have preferred to wear a red bonnet to keep up appearances with his fellow lackeys.
David Pook’s blue livery coat with matching hose was not a common colour at the royal Scots court. In the 1550s, most of the royal servants had black coats so David Pook would have stood out from the crowd. Blue was the conventional choice for garments given to poor people by the Scots sovereign on Maundy Thursday each year. In Scotland, blue had a festive air since the act of apparel passed in 1458 (and still in force in 1552) said ‘no labourers nor husbandmen wear on the work day anything but grey and white and on holidays anything but light blue or green or red and their wives likewise’. Blue was not such a desirable colour elsewhere because it was achieved with woad, a cheap dyestuff. Beyond the royal court, it was a very typical choice for serving men’s coats. However, blue silks were highly prized and restricted by the acts of apparel. Blue velvet was reserved for high ranking people, such as the Knights of the Garter from 1515. This restriction was extended to blue satin and damask in 1562.
The reconstruction of a manservant’s coat shown here and the pattern for it in The Typical Tudor are based on descriptions in wills and inventories, artwork from books in Germany and London, and plasterwork in Somerset.
1550s to 1603
Item, coft thre elnis blew to be ane leveray coite and hois to ane allakey of my lady Gordonis, price of the elne ix s; summa xxxvj s
Item, half ane elne Inglis yellow to bordour the samyn, price thairof xij s
Item, v quarteris canves to be hym ane doublet, price of the elne iij s iiij d; summa iiij s ij d
Item, gevin to hym to by lynyng, and to pay for the making of this leveray xx s For ane blew bonett to hym, price iij s
David Pook is just one of the many individuals whose wills make up the data on which The Typical Tudor is based. It breaks new ground with a thorough survey of evidence for ordinary people's clothing in the 16th century. The book also features sewing patterns and knitting instructions for more than 50 garments and headwear, including a manservant's coat.