Thursday, 8 October 2015

The disastrous Willoughby-Littleton marriage

Image result for francis willoughby
Francis Willoughby
Francis Willoughby (1547-96) was the youngest child of Henry Willoughby (d.1549) and Anne Grey (d.1548). Francis' childhood was one of instability and confusion. Francis lost his mother when he was only a year old, and then his father a year later when he was killed during the suppression of Kett's Rebellion. Francis and his two elder siblings, Thomas (1541-59) and Margaret were then placed into the care of their mother Anne's family. Anne's brother was Henry Grey, the father of Jane Grey. Thomas as the heir became the ward of Henry Grey and his wife Frances Brandon, whilst Francis and Margaret were sent to George Medley, Henry Grey's elder half-brother. The attempt to place Jane Grey on the throne of England in 1553 cost Henry Grey his life and many of his relatives were arrested too. George Medley was sent to the Tower of London, and upon his release in May 1554 he could no longer take care of Francis and Margaret. Frances Brandon took the two younger Willoughby children into her care, she sent Francis to school and Margaret became her Lady-in-Waiting. Thomas Willoughby's wardship was bought by William Paget and was married to his daughter Dorothy. In August 1559 Thomas died from exhaustion whilst hunting, and so at the age of thirteen Francis became heir to his father's estates which he came into full possession of in 1564. Due to this change of circumstance Francis' wardship was up for sale and was bought by Sir Francis Knollys in 1560. In 1564 Francis Knollys proposed a marriage between his daughter Elizabeth and his ward Francis. However, Francis refused this match. It was his refusal that indicated to Francis Knollys that he was old enough to be in charge of his own affairs, and soon after his wardship was transferred back to the estate and Francis took possession of his estates.

Image result for elizabeth littleton willoughby
Elizabeth Littleton
In the winter of 1564 Francis Willoughby married Elizabeth Littleton (1546-94), daughter of his Warwickshire neighbour Sir John Littleton, and this marriage would consolidate Francis' connection to the powerful Midlands families. The marriage agreement dated the 20th November stated that Sir John would pay £1500, provide clothes for Elizabeth and residence with six servants at his house in Frankley for the couple for three years, and Francis gave Elizabeth a one third jointure in his estates excluding the coal mines.
Francis and Elizabeth had twelve children but only six survived to adulthood, all of whom were daughters;
+ Frances (1572-1665) m. John Drake m2. Montague Wood
+ Bridget (1566-1629) m. Percival Willoughby
+ Dorothy (1574-1632) m. Henry Hastings
+ Margaret (1570-97) m. Robert Spencer
+ Abigail (1576-1654) m. William Pargiter
+ Winifred (b.1578) m. Edward Willoughby
The couple had a number of sons, however none of them survived childhood; the last died aged six in 1580. Due to his lack of a son and heir, in 1583 Francis had his daughter Bridget married to a cousin named Percival Willoughby, and made him his heir.

Description: Description: Description: C:\Users\Kathy Emerson\Documents\My Web Sites\Kateemersonhistoricals\httpdocs\willoughby,bridget.jpg
Bridget Willoughby
Francis shared a close relationship with his sister Margaret, who married Matthew Arundell (1533-98). Margaret did not approve of Francis' marriage to Elizabeth; her initial reasoning being that her father John Littleton was not trustworthy and Francis could make a better marriage. Margaret's concerns were not unfounded as Sir John failed to provide the dowry for Elizabeth that was agreed upon, which caused huge arguments between Sir John and Francis. Margaret also did not like Elizabeth, writing to her brother in 1564 that she hoped his marriage would not turn out to be a case of 'marry in haste, repent at leisure'. Even once Francis had married Elizabeth, Margaret refused to be in the same place as Elizabeth.

Francis and Elizabeth's marriage was a disastrous one and it appears that both sides were at fault. Arguments turned into abusive behaviour. Francis placed restrictions on his wife; Elizabeth was allowed access only to her rooms and Francis refused to provide for her attendants. She was allowed to only occupy herself with raising her daughters, needlework, reading, playing the virginals, card games and conversing with her attendants. Elizabeth was almost constantly ill and often visited her physician in London and took visits to Buxton, which was an expense that Sir Francis was not happy to maintain. By the 1570's the couple's relationship was crumbling and only worsened throughout that decade. In 1572 Elizabeth only had a handful of women attendants in her household; Elizabeth Mering and Marjory Gardner - two gentlewomen to attend her, two nurses for the children, a fool named Mary and two other women, whereas her husband had around 50 men in attendance. This situation worsened over the decade; eventually Elizabeth found herself under house arrest by her husband; he complained that she led a 'disorderly life', kept company with people he disapproved of and continually reviled him to his face. These reports may not be entirely inaccurate as when Elizabeth was asked by Sir Fulke Greville why she refused to be ruled by her husband she replied that she was 'the Queen's sworn servant and knew not but Sir Francis might command her something against Her Majesty's proceedings'. She was confined to her own rooms, was not allowed to 'discharge or receive any servant' or 'strike or evil entreat any servant' and she was not allowed to see her children who were then in the care of their nurse Joan. Elizabeth had to follow the orders of two household Captains, was banned from the household stores and from buying anything and had 'no authority to command anything in the house except necessary diet for herself'. It didn't help the situation that Margaret was making the couple's arguments public knowledge, and the household servants were also interfering and taking sides.

The couple separated in 1579, and Sir John asked Francis to provide an allowance for Elizabeth to live on. When the couple's only son died in 1580 Elizabeth offered to reconcile with Francis in the hope that they could have another son, but this did not happen. In 1582 Queen Elizabeth ordered Francis to pay his estranged wife £200 per year 'for Elizabeth's separate maintenance'. Elizabeth went to live with her father and had to rely upon him for 'comfort in my griefe, assistance in my troubles and succor in my necessities'. During the years of her separation from her husband, the malicious rumours against Elizabeth eventually convinced even her father of her bad character, and she was required to plead with him to 'take pitie of me as yor naturall childe, have compassion of me as a distressed woman'. Elizabeth became unhappy with this separated state of her marriage and often wrote to Francis asking him to take her back, despite all of their previous marital disharmony. Francis fathered an illegitimate son in 1585. Francis and Elizabeth reconciled in 1588, however Elizabeth's health deteriorated and her behaviour became the same as before. Her visits to Buxton recommenced but seem to have had little effect; Francis writing in April 1589 that 'my wife hath beene longe sicke, and for the recoverie of her health is at Buckstones, wheare havinge receaved noe healpe is growne to suche weakenesse, that nowe beinge desyrous to retorne home is not able to adventure the iorneye eyther on horsebacke or in a coache'*. Elizabeth died on the 4th of June 1594.

In August 1595 Francis married an 'astute widow', Dorothy Colby, daughter and heiress of Thomas Colby. Dorothy was the widow of John Tamworth (1562-94) whom she had married in 1583 and had two daughters, Dorothy and Katherine, with. Dorothy and Francis were married for only fifteen months before Francis' death on the 16th November 1596. There were suspicions that Dorothy had murdered her husband with poison, however she was never formally accused. At the time of his death Dorothy was pregnant. She gave birth to a daughter Frances on the 3rd May 1597, however the child died soon after. Dorothy married her third husband Philip Wharton (1555-1625) within two months of giving birth to Frances. After an unhappy third marriage, Dorothy Wharton died in 1621.

For a more complete view of the family, Francis and Elizabeth's descendant Cassandra, Duchess of Chandos, compiled and published the family papers which give an intimate look at the couple's marriage.

* = Letter from Francis Willoughby to Bess of Hardwick, 26 April 1589

Friday, 11 September 2015

Cavendish-Pierrepont marriage negotiations

Frances Cavendish (1548-1632) married Henry Pierrepont (1546-1615) before 1568 and the couple went on to have six children;
+ Robert Pierrepont (1584-1643) m. Gertrude Talbot
+ Elizabeth Pierrepont (1568-1621) m1. Sir Edward Norreys m2. Sir Thomas Erskine
+ Grace Pierrepont (1575-1650) m. Sir George Manners
+ Frances Pierrepont (1575-1648)
+ Mary Pierrepont (1580-1670) m. Fulk Cartwright
+ William Pierrepont (b.1591)

Bess St Loe, otherwise known as Bess of Hardwick, the mother of Frances, and George Pierrepont, father of Henry, exchanged letters discussing a future marriage between their children. It is perhaps interesting to note that Sir Henry wrote to Frances' mother rather than her step-father William St Loe. This could perhaps indicate that George Pierrepont believed Bess to have more power over the marriage of her daughter than her husband. Perhaps it was the case that Bess was in charge of the marriage of her daughters rather than William St Loe, as she does play a key role in all of her children's marriages. William St Loe was only a step parent to her children and was away from the family home often at the royal court and Bess was comfortably in charge of all domestic matters. George Pierrepont seems to be the one who is pushing the marriage forward, in particular in the second letter here where he is urging that the paperwork be signed as soon as possible. The letters shown here are from 1561 and 1562 respectively.

4 November 1561, Sir George Pierrepont to Bess St Loe

To the right worshipffull and my Singuler goode ladye my ladye Sentloo at London this be delivered.

Right wurshipffull. and my vereye good ladye
after my hertiest maner I comende me to your good ladishepe
even so preye yow I meye be to good Master Sentloo
most hertelye thanckinge yow boothe
for your great paynes taken with me at holme
acceptinge euerye thinge (thoughe it were neuer so rewdlye handlyde) in suche gentill sorte as ye dyde which doithe and will cause me to love yow the better whuell I lyve
yf I were abill to doo yow othere pleassure or service and the rathere because I vnderstand
that your ladishipe hathe not forgotten my sewte to yow at your goinge awaye as speciallye to make Master Sackvile & Master attorneye my ffrendes
in the matter betwene Master whalleye and me wherin he doithe me playne wronge (as I take it in my concyence) onelye to kepe trouble & vnquyett me
But I trust somoche in godes helpe
and partlye by your ladishipes good meanes
and contynewance of your goodnes towardes me
that he shall not ouerthrowe me in my rightiose cause
and touchinge suche cominication. as was betwene vs at holme
yf your ladishipe. & the gentillwoman your doughtour
lyke our boye vppon sight
aswell. as I & my wife lyke the yonge gentillwomman
I will not shrincke one worde. ffrome yat I said or promysed
by the grace of gode who preserve your ladishipe
and my master your husbande longe togethere
in wealthe. healthe and prosperytie. to his pleasure. and your gentill hertes desyer
ffrome my pover house at woodhouse. the iiijth of november .1561.

by the rewde hastie hande. of your goode ladishipes. assuredlye allwaye to comaunde

George. pierponnte. K.

18 May 1562, Sir George Pierrepont to Bess St Loe

To the right worshipfull and my vereye good ladye my Ladye Sentloo at Chattesworthe this be delivered

Right wurshipffull. and my vereye good ladye
after my hertiest comendacions to your good ladishepe remembred even so require yow I meye be to good Master Sentloo. with most entyer thanckes for my wyne yat I haue ben bolde to take of his lyberalytie
most hertelye thanckinge yow ffurthere for your bountiouse goodnes & cost bestowed of henrye my sonne & of those yat were with him at London as also for the good will and ffauour that I perceave ye beare to my said sonne
which I preye gode he maye deserve
and perceaved ffurthere yf ye coulde geat leave ye woulde come to Chattesworthe this whitsontide whethere ye would be glade to haue me & my wiffe to come. lyke as I vnderstand the same. by a lettre receaved this morninge ffrome Master Hardwycke
wherbye I do not onlye perceave ye be come to Chattesworthe but would haue me & my wife to come over to make merrie
but to procede ffurthere to the perffytinge of the wrytinges accordinge to our former comunication 
trulye madame I woulde as gladlie come as ye woulde be to haue me
but I am not abill to goo nor ryde
but to my great payne trouble & shame
and because I woulde ye shoulde not thincke I doo yt to staye of anyethinge
which I am as willinge to haue performed and perfyted as ye arre
after the wrytinges be maed & sealled
yt shull be at your pleasure to cause the same to be drawen in paper accordinglye as I thincke ye haue goode remembrance of tharticles of our agreament
ye recyted them so fformallye a lytill before our partinge
and so send them to me
or else I to geat them done
thoughe learned men be skaunt in the countrye at this presente
and so I to sende them to yow. which ones agreede vppon by vs boothe and our councelles then to ingrose the same readye to seallinge. which for my parte I shall doo. so ffare as I can with my helthe and after to haue the matrymonye so sone accomplyshed. as ye shall seame goode & conveynyent at your pleasure
and forasmoche as I am even nowe & haue bene for this fourtnight or iij. weekes. moche troubled. with payne of my disease I shall require yow to take this rewde wrytinge in good part. yat wrytes with moche payne
vntill I know furthere of your pleasure in the meane season leavinge to trouble yow anye ffurthere. doo beseche allmightie gode to haue yow and Master Sentloo euermore in his kepinge. ffrome holme in hast the xviijth of maij 1562.

in hast & leasureles by your good ladishipes to his lytill powere

George. pierponnte K.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Margaret Wotton and her son Henry Grey

Margaret Wotton (1487-1541) was the mother of Henry Grey (1517-54), the future father of Queen Jane Grey, by her second husband Thomas Grey. After the death of her husband, Margaret and Henry's relationship deteriorated and only worsened over the years. 

Hans Holbein the Younger (after) - Margaret, Marchioness of Dorset (Anglesey Abbey).jpg
Margaret Wotton, early 1530's
Margaret's husband died on the 10th October 1530, and her son Henry succeeded as the Marquis of Dorset. Due to Henry still being a minor, Margaret was granted custody of her late husband's estate until her son reached maturity. This was the first problem created as Margaret was now in charge of providing Henry with an allowance, which had been outlined in her late husband's will. Henry believed this allowance was not sufficient for someone of his position. This control over her son's finances and restrictions upon him shocked her peers as they saw it as a lack of generosity and motherly care. They also said her actions were not appropriate towards a man, like Henry, who was a close kinsman to the king - through the king's mother Elizabeth of York. In 1534 Margaret felt the need to respond to the allegations against her being an 'unnatural mother'. She agreed to increase his allowance and help to strengthen his position 'as my small power is and shall be'.

In late 1530 or early 1531 Henry Grey broke his pre-contract of marriage to Katherine FitzAlan, daughter of the Earl of Arundel. It seems that the couple disliked each other greatly, and that this was the reason for it being called off by Henry. For this breach of contract, a fine of 4000 marks was to be paid to the Earl of Arundel by Henry, or rather by Margaret, in yearly installments of 300 marks - which would take around 13 years to pay off in its entirety. 
This huge, and unexpected, debt left Margaret worried that she may "not set forth my daughters in marriage" - of which she had four - "neither continue in the keeping of my poor house". She argued that her husband's estate was "right small" in comparison to the debts her husband left as well as the everyday expenses of her children and household. 
On 19th November 1531 Margaret wrote to Thomas Cromwell asking him to negotiate with the Earl of Arundel on her behalf, so that he would reduce the debt she owed him by 1000 marks. She felt this was justified as the marriage contract between her daughter Katherine Grey and the Earl of Arundel's son and heir Henry had only cost 3000 marks and therefore why should the marriage of his daughter cost more. 
In 1537 Katherine FitzAlan was exchanging letters with Thomas Cromwell which stated that he supported her in her dispute with Margaret Wotton in relation to the debt she owed; it is possible that Margaret was behind on payments or was refusing to pay them.

For the marriage between Henry and Frances Brandon to go ahead in 1533, Margaret agreed to it solely upon the condition that Frances' father Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, supported the couple financially for the duration of Henry's minority.

In 1538 Henry Grey reached his age of majority and therefore came into possession of his inheritance from his father. Soon after, Henry took his financial problems with his mother to the King's Council, where she did admit that Henry's allowance was not 'meet or sufficient to maintain his estate' and she offered to increase the amount he was receiving. However, this did nothing to ease the tension between the two and as a result Margaret moved out of the family home of Bradgate House. Henry would not allow his mother's servants to retrieve her personal possessions so she could take them with her. Margaret wrote to Thomas Cromwell asking for his help with her son and that he could persuade Henry to give her her possessions as she was a 'poor widow...unkindly and extremely...handled by my son marquis'.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Anne Dormer's Hungerford marriage

Anne Dormer (1525-1603) became the second wife of Walter Hungerford (1526-96) in May 1558 and the couple had four children; Susan (b.1564), Edmund (1562-85), Jane (b.1566) and Lucy (b.1560). However this was not a happy marriage, and within ten years Walter was suing his wife for a divorce.

In 1568 Walter Hungerford sued his wife for a divorce on the grounds of adultery and attempted murder. He claimed that Anne had tried to poison him in 1564, as well as her having had an affair with their neighbour William Darrell (1539-89) from 1560 to 1568 and having a child by him. 

William Darrell, known as 'Wild Will', was a notorious scoundrel already having a mistress at his home when he began his affair with Anne Hungerford. Many of her letters to her 'dear Dorrell' still survive and provide evidence that the accusations of her husband were not unfounded. Despite one quite damning letter from Anne saying "I, by the oath I have sworn upon the holy evangelist, do acknowledge that if Sir Walter Hungerford, my husband now living, do depart out of this life ... I will take you to my husband". The court case for the divorce stated that "in Easter term 1565 Walter Hungerford was sick in London...during his sickness William Darrell frequented his house at Farley and sojourned there...with Dame Anne careless of his sickness". Indicating that perhaps a poisoning wasn't too far fetched.
Anne and William had a son together, also named William Darrell. From the divorce case submitted by Walter Hungerford it stated that there were several eyewitnesses from the Hungerford household to the affair - William Jones, Hugh Richards, Alice Jones. "William Darrell was wont to enter the bedchamber of Dame Anne in the absence of Sir Walter Hungerford and lie down with her 'solus cum sola familiariter jocando, ridendo, osculando, palpando, et amplectando' (alone together, familiarly talking, laughing, kissing, touching and embracing). One Christmas time Darrell had broken a bone and had it set in a plaster cast - "the said plaster was found in Dame Anne's bed between the sheets". "John Golif...wente to my ladies chamber dore and there harkening hard Mr Darrell and my Lady in bedd together. Wheruppon he called Alice Check, in the nurcery chamber going to bedd, who came forth unto him and they two went togetheres to my Ladies chamber and secretlie conveyed themselves into the chamber behind the portal and the hangings of the chamber when they hard and sawe the saide Darrell and Lady in bedd together". One witness, Hugh Richards, who was appointed to serve William Darrell while he was staying at the Hungerford house testified that William Darrell was often at the house, especially when Sir Walter was away, and he would stay over and would spend the night in Anne's bed rather than his own and his bed was often unslept in. An example from the testimony which seems to exemplify the couple's relationship was that; "when Mr. Hungerford the same Xmas time hath byn absent a hawking she hath come into my ladie's chamber. Darrell lyeing on the bedd by my Lady dalieng with her and embrasing, kissing and toying. And when Sir Walter hatli come in he hath slipt away to his own chamber at a back paier of stayres towards the nurcery and then by and by has fayned to cum up the other staires and call to Sir Walter asking him if he wer up as though he had not known him to be abrode".
In 1567-8 it was said that William would visit Anne in London in secret and that he wore "pore man's apparell because he would not be knowen in as secret sort and maner as possible he could because they would have no evell suspicion conceyved of their lewd cumunyng or resorting together."

Two years later the case seemed to be resolved finally as on April 19th 1570 Sir Francis Englefield, a cousin of Sir Walter, reported that 'my Lady Hungerfords great suit has ended by sentence to her sufficient purgation, though neither sufficient for her recompense nor his punishment'. Sir Francis seems to have been on Anne's side during this case and tried to help her. He was sympathetic to her situation and that although she had friends to help her financially as much as they could, he thought that she would be stuck in this miserable situation "untyll God send that the justyce of her cause may be better hearde,and that greate beaste my cosen compellyd bothe to recompensthe injuryes doone her, and to furnyse her wythe yerely lyvyng accordyng to the portion that she brought hym". Surprisingly, Walter had failed to prove his case in court. He was ordered to pay Anne £250 compensation and told to support her financially despite the couple being separated; he refused to do either of these things but said he was willing to take her back as his wife. For this, Walter then spent three years in Fleet prison. 

By 1570 Anne was living in unhappy and impoverished circumstances, as evidenced in letters she wrote on the 25th March to Dorothy Essex, lady in waiting to her sister Jane Dormer. Anne had had to sell her possessions to afford her accommodation; "I have byn in that nesessete y' I have solde all my weringclothes and my tabell clothe and suche linens as you knowe I hade " and all to helpe me to maintane my sute in lavve inclering me of myn innoseence..O my deare Doll what endelles messeres do I live in ! O what frendes had I that this most vrechedly hathe utterly caste me and all mine away. I am not abell to write ye one quarter of my trobeles whiche I have indured". Anne claimed she had not seen her children in more than a year; "My cheldrene I have not harde of this xj mountes and more. Y? ar loste for wante of good plassing; Susane is as I hear clen spoilled, she has forgotten to rede and hur complexsione clengone w' an yeche, and she hathe skante to shefte her w' all. Jane is a semster in Malboro very evel to [do]. Surly I werhappy if God wolde take them out of this Hfe."

In 1571 Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, obtained for Anne a licence to travel to Louvain to visit her dying grandmother, Jane Dormer, nee Newdigate (b.1487). Jane Newdigate had become a prominent figure in the English Catholic exiles community in Louvain since her arrival there in 1559. After her grandmother Jane Newdigate's death on the 7th July 1571, Anne took over her household in Louvain and remained living there until her own death.  In August 1571 Anne's sister Jane Dormer, Duchess of Feria, wrote to Queen Elizabeth requesting that Anne's licence be extended from six months to two years so that she could live at a safe distance from her husband. In 1573 Anne was granted a pension of 1100 livres a year by the King of Spain and in 1583 a further 50 escudos per month; this may have been due to her sister Jane's influence as her husband was a close confidant of the Spanish King. Anne became involved in Flanders politics, often in collaboration with her sister Jane in Spain.

After Anne and Walter's only son Edmund died in 1585, Anne was convinced that Walter was trying to defraud their three daughters of their marriage portions and she wrote many letters to her daughters as well as other family members in England. On the 29th March 1586 Anne wrote to Sir Francis Walsingham asking for him to protect her daughters from their father's attempts to disinherit them. Anne's fears may not have been unfounded; around this time Walter made a deed of conveyance to his half-brother Edward, which contained the clause that the property in question would pass to any sons that he may have in the future by any woman - legitimate or not - which suggests that Walter did intend to have more children and make them his heirs in place of his daughters with Anne.

Whilst Anne was living in Louvain, her husband Walter Hungerford in England had taken a mistress who lived with him; Margery Bright who was a 'poor tenants daughter'. Walter and Margery had four children together; two sons, a daughter and another son born after Walter's death.

On the 14th November 1596 Walter Hungerford wrote his will. He left two farms to Margery Bright, and the residue of his estate to his half-brother Edward Hungerford and his heirs. Soon after, Walter heard rumours that his wife Anne had died in Louvain, and therefore he believed himself a widower, and as such he married Margery just weeks before his death 'for her better colour or excuse of ill life'.

When Walter Hungerford died in December 1596 there were then two claimants to his estate, as both Anne and Margery claimed their rights to inherit as his widow in place of Edward Hungerford. Margery also demanded financial support for her youngest son until he reached his age of majority. She claimed that Walter had given Edward lands worth £3000 a year during his lifetime - a claim which supports Anne's previous claim that he was defrauding their daughters - and the remainder he received at his death was worth either £20,000 or £80,000. Unsurprisingly Anne won and was granted a 'generous dower'.

Anne Hungerford died in Louvain in 1603, never having returned to England.

Friday, 21 August 2015

The search for Henry VIII's sixth wife

Image result for henry viii 1542
King Henry VIII, 1542

In February 1542, even before the death of Queen Katherine Howard on the 13th of that month, it appears that King Henry VIII was already looking for a sixth wife, and the rest of the court were also speculating who the lucky lady would be. The ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Eustace Chapuys, was among those trying to guess where the king's eyes would rest next. 

The lady for whom he showed the greatest regard was the sister of lord Cobham, whom Wyatt sometime ago repudiated for adultery. She is a pretty young creature, with wit enough to do as badly as the others if she were to try. The King is also said to have a fancy for the daughter of Madame Albart, niece, of the Grand Esquire, Master Anthony Brown, and also for a daughter (by her first marriage) of the wife of Mons. Lyt, late deputy of Calais—a surmise which rests partly on the fact that after nearly two years' close confinement in the Tower, her father has been liberated, and the King has ordered his arms, which had been removed from their place in the chapel of the Order, to be replaced. - Chapuys to Charles V, 9th February 1542

'Madame Albart' = Lucy Somerset, Lady Herbert (1524-83). Lucy was the daughter of Henry Somerset and Elizabeth Browne, and came to court to serve as Maid of Honour to Queen Katherine Howard. In 1545 she married John Neville (1520-77) who was a stepson of Queen Katheryn Parr, whom she then served as Maid of Honour. Lucy and John Neville had four daughters.

'Sister of Lord Cobham' = Elizabeth Brooke (1503-60). She was married to Thomas Wyatt (d. 11 October 1542) in 1520 but they had long been separated. They separated in 1526 and he supported her financially until 1537. At which time she then moved in with her brother. They separated due to adultery, which Wyatt said was on Elizabeth's side. She remarried after her husband's death to Edward Warner (1511-65). Elizabeth had a son, Thomas (1521-54), with her first husband. and then had three more children with her second husband; Edward, Thomas and Henry. At the time the letter was written, Elizabeth was still legally married to Thomas. It has been suggested that the Elizabeth Brooke that Chapuys refers to in the letter is in fact this Elizabeth's niece of the same name born in 1526 - putting her in the same age range as the other two women mentioned. However, as Chapuys knew her marital history and therefore this younger Elizabeth would seem too young at only sixteen to have been married to Wyatt and separated for a long period of time, it seems unlikely that he would make that mistake. 

'Daughter of the wife of Lord Lisle' = Anne Bassett (1521-58). Anne had been in royal service since 1533, as part of Queen Anne Boleyn's household. She did not marry until 1554 to Walter Hungerford. She was rumoured to be Henry's mistress in 1538-9, despite being related to the king by marriage as her stepfather was King Henry's uncle. Anne had also been considered a possible wife by many to become the king's fourth wife in 1540.

The day after the execution of Katherine Howard, the king held a banquet for many men and women and he was said to favour Elizabeth Brooke and Anne Bassett the most.

However, as we know King Henry did not marry any of these three women. On the 12th July 1543 he married Katherine Parr. Katherine had joined Princess Mary's household by the 16th of February that year, her second husband having recently died. 

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Darrell-Wyatts

Elizabeth Darrell, born around 1513, was the youngest daughter of Edward Darrell, Chamberlain to Queen Catherine of Aragon, and his third wife Alice Flyte. By 1530 Elizabeth was serving Queen Catherine of Aragon as a Maid of Honour until her death in January 1536. She did not take the Oath of Supremacy, perhaps out of loyalty to Queen Catherine rather than for her religious beliefs. Elizabeth served as a mourner at Queen Catherine's funeral. Queen Catherine left Elizabeth £200 in her will which was to be used for her dowry, however this was not given to her until 1554 when Catherine's daughter Mary was on the throne. Elizabeth then went on to serve Gertrude Courtenay, Marchioness of Exeter, who had been a close friend of  Queen Catherine, after applying to join Queen Jane Seymour's household and being turned down.

By 1538 Elizabeth had begun an affair with the married Thomas Wyatt (1503-42), possibly as early as 1537 as testimony given in October 1538 states that the couple had been together since the previous June when Wyatt returned from Spain. They had three sons together; Henry - who died young, Francis (b.1540) and Edward (1541-54). Francis took the last name Darrell. Some historians list Thomas Wyatt's legitimate son Thomas the younger as the father of Edward, as due to the men's ages either could be, but for this post I am placing him as the son of the elder Thomas Wyatt as I feel Elizabeth Darrell would not have children with both the father and son within such a short space of time. Thomas Wyatt was married during this time to Elizabeth Brooke, but the couple had been separated since 1526, only six years after marrying.

Image result for allington castle
Allington Castle, Kent
By 1541 Elizabeth was openly living with Thomas Wyatt as his mistress at Allington Castle in Kent. When Wyatt was arrested on the 20th January 1541 for suspected Lutheran tendencies, Elizabeth was pregnant with their third son Edward. Due to her pregnancy she was allowed to continue living in one of Wyatt's houses that were confiscated by the crown upon his arrest. After his release from the Tower later that year, he returned to Elizabeth at Allington Castle despite the fact that his release was conditional upon his returning to his wife. Thomas Wyatt's legitimate son Thomas (1521-54) and his wife Jane were also living at Allington Castle during this time.

Thomas Wyatt died on the 12th October 1542. Wyatt left Elizabeth his properties in Dorset and Somerset in his Will dated 1541, with the instruction that after her death they would pass to their son Francis, and by 1543 Elizabeth was indeed in possession of those properties. That Thomas only mentioned one son in his will, we can guess that their son Henry had already died and that the youngest son Edward was not yet born at the time the will was written.

Upon his death on the 11th April 1554 Thomas Wyatt's legitimate son, Thomas the younger, also left Elizabeth Darrell properties in his Will, including the estate at Tarrant in Dorset on the 25th February 1544 which was to pass to her son Francis after her death. Due to his arrest and execution for treason, the properties which Elizabeth held for her lifetime and were supposed to pass to the younger Thomas after her death, were then confiscated by the Crown. The manor of Tintinhull in Somerset was left by Thomas the younger to Elizabeth, and failing her heirs, would revert to his son Thomas. However due to his attainder the crown declared that after Elizabeth's death it would go to Sir William Petre. The parsonage at Stoke in Somerset was leased to Elizabeth in 1548 and remained in her possession until her death, at which time it passed to her husband.

Image result for tintinhull manor
Tintinhull Manor, Somerset
Elizabeth and Thomas' son Edward was executed for treason in 1554 for his part in the rebellion against Queen Mary. The rebellion was led by his half-brother Thomas Wyatt, his father's legitimate son. On the 21st January 1554, the thirteen year old Edward was present at a meeting at Allington Castle led by Thomas Wyatt, which discussed the date for the rebellion. And three days later on the 24th he was listed alongside the main conspirators and local gentry who were sleeping on the floor of the hall of Allington Castle. The next day, the 25th, Edward marched into London with his brother, however the rebellion failed and the men surrendered. Edward was imprisoned in the Tower and tortured. Bishop Gardiner told Sir William Petre, Governor of the Tower, to find out any information about Thomas Wyatt's relationship with Princess Elizabeth "whether ye press him to say the truth by sharp punishment or promise of life". On February 19th, Edward was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

In 1554 Elizabeth married Robert Strode shortly after receiving her long overdue £200 legacy from Queen Catherine. However. Elizabeth died before the end of 1556. Her husband Robert was still living in 1560.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Thomas Cromwell's Catholic daughter

Image result for thomas cromwell painting
Thomas Cromwell

Jane Cromwell was the illegitimate daughter of King Henry VIII's right hand man Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540). Jane was born 1520/5 and died 3rd November 1580. She married William Hough (1525-85) of Leighton in Cheshire between 1535 and 1540.
Jane and William had only one child together;
+ Alice Hough m. William Whitmore (d.1620)

William Hough was the son of Richard Hough (1505-74) and his wife Christian Calverley, daughter of Sir George Calverley.
Richard Hough was a servant in the house of Thomas Cromwell during the years 1534-40.
In 1536 Richard appeared as one of the Lord Privy Seal's men, and was described as a 'sage and sober person'. In January 1538 Richard reminded Cromwell of a promise he had made to make Richard a Rider of Delamere Forest in Cheshire. In 1540 Richard carried messages and letters from Cromwell to the council in Ireland.
In the spring of 1544 Richard Hough was accused of murder by a man named John Massey. Hough and Massey were both at this time petty captains of companies raised for the Scottish War. Massey alleged that whilst leaving Chester one afternoon, he and his servants had been attacked by Hough and others. Randolph Davenport who was one of Massey's servants was killed and Massey and his other servants were injured and left for dead. At the inquest on the matter, the coroner worked to 'obtain lightly the pardon of the said Hough and to save his lands, which be yearly 20 marks in lands and above', which he managed to do with the aid of the Sheriff and 'by the maintenance of divers gentlemen, being near kinsmen to the said Hough, who caused their own tenants and servants to be put upon the said inquest'.
In 1558 Richard Hough was a senior Knight of the Shire for Cheshire and this post suggests that the Massey scandal had been forgiven and forgotten.
Richard died in 1574 and at that time his lands were worth £50 a year, which included a number of monastic properties.

The Hough family were known Catholics. Richard Hough however supported the Religious Settlement which Queen Elizabeth I created upon her accession to the throne. The Bishop of Chester credited him for this move in 1564 and Richard was appointed to the Cheshire Bench.
Richard's son William responded differently than his father to the Religious Settlement. William refused to compromise his beliefs and maintained his Catholic faith, making him a recusant. This difference caused a rift between father and son, and in his Will Richard included a clause which read that if William did not follow his father's wishes relating to religion then he would lose his inheritance.

In direct opposition to her father, Jane Cromwell was much like her husband William in her religious beliefs and both were listed as recusants from 1576 onwards. In 1576 she was first listed as an 'ostinate recusant' on the Diocesan list, and later in 1578 was listed as an absentee and non-communicant at the Metropolitan Visitation at which time she was excommunicated for non-appearance, but later this was rescinded.
In 1581 William was imprisoned by the High Commission, and later indicted at the October Quarter Sessions for absence. He was given a fine of £120 and was returned to Chester Castle Prison. In December he was transferred to New Fleet in Salford, where he joined a group of recusants and remained there until his death in February 1585. The news of his death did not reach the government for a long time. In autumn 1585 he was assessed as a recusant and in June 1586 he owed £600 in recusancy fines.

Jane and William's daughter Alice and her husband William and their children were also known recusants. From 1581 onwards Alice was frequently listed as a non-communicant and recusant. She was fined £960 in April 1593, a further £240 in September 1600. Her husband William Whitmore, however, was listed as a non-communicant, not a recusant, and was loyal to crown. Alice and William had at least four children; William, Christina, Eleanor and Jane. The three daughters were listed as absentees for the 1598 Diocesan Visitation and were fined £240 each in 1600 for their absences. Christina and Eleanor were listed again in 1601 and 1605.