This sermon also illustrates the mysteries that remain to be unravelled as researchers use the GEMMS database to locate and examine the sermons themselves. Both library catalogues and the headings of sermons provide varying amounts of preaching information, often frustratingly incomplete. While most preachers and auditors of funeral sermons did record the subject’s name, often along with the date and location of the sermon, many subjects of manuscript funeral sermons have left no other traces of their lives. For example, we are unlikely to learn much about the Mrs. Roe (or Row) whose funeral sermon was preached by Nathaniel Harding in Plymouth on 7 December, 1690 (GEMMS-SERMON-003708), although we can use the sermon to confirm and/or qualify conclusions about the generic characteristics of funeral sermons.
The situation of GEMMS-SERMON-010000 is more unusual: an identifiable subject commemorated by an obscure preacher. The sermon appears in the British Library’s Sloane MS 1470, and the library’s manuscript catalogue provides a full description of both the sermon and its accompanying material:
A Commemoracion of the Right Honourable the Lady Bridget Viscountess Beaumont, the truly pious, virtuous and loyal consort of the Right Honourable Sapcotes Lord Viscount Beaumont of Swords, delivered at her funerall in the parish church of South Carlton, (the antient burying place of her worthy progenitors) upon Munday the first of June, anno Domini, 1640, by John Hodgson, Rector of Motton; written Aug. 3 1658, by me Wm. Bannister.' ff. 249-267.
Prefixed are dedicatory letters from Wm. Bannister, to Mrs. Anna Simpson, dat. London, 3 Aug. 1658, and from John Hodgson to Sir Thomas Monson, Bart., dat. Motton, 19 Jan. 1640; and at the end are two letters from the last named writer upon the same date, the first to Thomas, John, and Elizabeth, children of Sapcotes Viscount Beaumont of Swords, by Bridgett, daughter of Sir Thomas Monson, Bart., the second to Ursula, wife of Sir John Monson, K. B.The deceased was the youngest daughter of Sir Thomas Monson and the first wife of Sapcote Beaumont, whom she married on 28 May, 1632, as well as the mother of three children. Her father was a man of some notoriety. Having risen to prominence in Lincolnshire under Queen Elizabeth, he had progressed to national offices under James I through the patronage of Henry Howard, earl of Northampton. His rising career hit a snag, however, when he was implicated in the Overbury affair after fulfilling Frances Howard’s request that he recommend Richard Weston as Overbury’s keeper. Although pardoned in 1617, Monson never quite got his career, or his finances, back on track.
The preacher, John Hodgson, cannot be identified with certainty. The catalogue record identifies him variously as rector of Motton or Moulton, Lincolnshire, but he does not appear in the list of ministers at Moulton in The Clergy of the Church of England Database (CCEd). He cannot be the John Hodgisson appointed rector at Morton in 1562, but the name may suggest a family connection to this area. The most likely candidate for the preacher of this sermon seems to be a John Hodgson ordained by William Laud and instituted rector at Burton by Lincoln in 1628. As Burton was the home of the Beaumonts it seems reasonable that the local rector would have been selected to preach the funeral sermon at nearby South Carlton, where Lady Beaumont was buried among her ancestors.
The various dedicatory letters Hodgson prepared in January 1640/41 suggest that he hoped either for encouragement to print the sermon or for some other form of patronage. If these were his motives, however, it is odd that he addressed these letters not, as might have been expected, to the widower, but to the deceased’s father, her sister-in-law, Ursula Monson, and her three children. With the possible exception of Ursula Monson, none of these individuals were in positions to assist the preacher. Thomas Monson, who was in poor health, would die in May 1641, while Lady Beaumont’s children were all under eight years old. Ursula’s husband, however, would become Sir John Monson when he inherited his father’s baronetcy a few months later, and had already established his loyalty to Archbishop Laud by participating in a controversy over John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln, and would offer legal advice to Charles I during the civil wars. Although the sermon never seems to have been printed, if the identification of Hodgson above is correct, then he may have received some benefit from the sermon, since in 1642 he resigned at Burton to become rector of Donington, Lincolnshire, where he apparently remained until 1669.
The sermon’s paratexts present other puzzles involving the motives of William Banister (1614/15-1685) of Turkdean, Gloucestershire, who copied the sermon eighteen years later, on 3 August, 1658, and penned a new dedication to a Mrs. Anna Simpson. The occasion may have been the death of Sapcote Beaumont that year, but Banister’s connection to the deceased and her family is unclear, although there may be a family relationship through a Dorothy Banister in the sixteenth century, whose first husband was Thomas Monson of Belton. Anna Simpson remains unidentified. The fact that the sermon was recopied and newly dedicated is important in revealing how complex the transmission history of such a text might be. Even if we cannot yet identify motives and connections to explain the fact, we can register this history, and investigate further into the ways in which this manuscript found its way into the Sloane collection.
The library catalogue describes Lady Beaumont in conventional terms as a “truly pious, virtuous and loyal consort” to her husband. One additional piece of information provided by the manuscript heading is the biblical text, 2 Corinthians 4:17 (For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison), which also seems conventional rather than offering any clues about the deceased. Only a reading of the sermon and the paratexts will show whether Hodgson’s commemoration reveals anything of her as a person.
While some of the funeral sermons for women in the GEMMS database commemorate upper class women like Bridget Beaumont or the wives of well-known preachers, such as Philip Henry’s wife Katherine, we hope that the database’s identification of sermons preached for Mrs. Roe and other anonymous women – few of which would ever be printed – will increase our understanding of funeral sermons for women, of their transmission in manuscript, and of a religious culture with roots in a wider range of classes, social contexts, and religious piety than hitherto known to scholars.
 British Library, “Sloane 1470,” in Explore Archives and Manuscripts, http://searcharchives.bl.uk/IAMS_VU2:IAMS040-002113821 (Accessed 16 July 2017).
 Alastair Bellany, “Monson, Sir Thomas, first baronet (1563/4–1641),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: OUP, 2004; online edn, Jan. 2008. http://www.oxforddnb.com.libproxy.uregina.ca:2048/view/article/18990 (Accessed 16 July 2017).
 “Moulton (CCEd Location ID: 172889),” and “Morton (CCEd Location ID: 8335),” The Clergy of the Church of England Database 1540-1835 (CCEd) http://theclergydatabase.org.uk(Accessed 17 July 2017).
 Bertha Porter, “Monson, Sir John, second baronet (1599–1683),” rev. Sean Kelsey, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: OUP, 2004; online edn, Jan. 2008. http://www.oxforddnb.com.libproxy.uregina.ca:2048/view/article/18986 (Accessed 17 July 2017).
 This information is pieced together from three separate records in the CCEd (Person IDs 80933, 98863, and 146188). The date of resignation from Burton by Lincoln (20 April 1642) in record 98863 matches the date of institution at Donington in record 146188, which indicates that the records refer to the same person. He also may be the John Hodgson admitted to Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1623 who graduated BA from Clare College (1626/27) and MA in 1630 (A Cambridge Alumni Database, http://venn.lib.cam.ac.uk/acad/enter.html [Accessed 17 July 2017]).
 The marriage produced two daughters, Margaret born in 1562 and Dorothy born in 1574, A. R. Maddison, Lincolnshire Pedigrees (London: Harleian Society, 1902), 2.681.
 There are two funeral sermons for Katherine Henry in GEMMS: two witnesses of a sermon by Samuel Benion (GEMMS-SERMON-002401 and GEMMS-SERMON-007569) and one witness of a sermon by Matthew Henry (GEMMS-SERMON-oo7570).
~ Anne James and Jeanne Shami