Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bonaventura, Thomasine

BONAVENTURA, THOMASINE (d. 1510?), Cornish benefactress, was a peasant girl, born at Week St. Mary, five or six miles south of Baile, soon after the middle of the fifteenth century. She arrived, successively, three rich London merchants, the last being Sir John Percyvall, who in 1486 was sheriff, was knighted by Henry VII, and in 1498, the year of the marriage, was elected lord mayor of London. He died about 1504, and had a chantry in the church of St. Mary Woolnoth. Dame Percivall survived her third husband, and at his death retired to her native place, where she occupied herself in ‘repairing of highways, building of bridges, endowing of maidens, relieving of prisoners, feeding andappareling the poor,’ &c. (Carew). She also built and endowed a chantry and college there, of which some slight remains still exist, including the initial letter of her christian name over a doorway. Here ‘divers of the best gentlemen’s sons of Devon and Cornwall’ were educated. Her will is said to have been dated about the year 1510. The chantry was suppressed temp. Edward VI.

[Carew's History of Cornwall; Churchwardens’ Accounts of St. Mary Woolnoth in Gent. Mag. xiii. 41 (1854); Herbert's History of the Livery companies of London; Hawker's Footprints of Men of Former Times in Cornwall.]

W. H. T.