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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Antigone Plantagenet

Antigone Plantagenet was born about 1425 as the illegitimate daughter of Humphrey Plantagent, Duke of Gloucester (1390-1447), the younger brother of King Henry IV of England. The mother of Antigone is a mystery; she is sometimes listed as Eleanor Cobham (1400-52) who was his mistress at the time and later his wife, however her mother is also known simply as 'an unidentified Frenchwoman'. If her mother had been Eleanor Cobham, it would have been likely that after her parent's marriage she would have been legitimized.

Humphrey and Eleanor of Gloucester

Antigone was married to Henry Grey, Earl of Tankerville and Powys (1419-50) with whom she had three children; Richard (1436-66), Humphrey and Elizabeth (1440-1501).
After her husband died in 1450, leaving Antigone a widow at only 25 years old, she soon married again. However, her second husband was not a nobleman or landed gentry which would be expected of her as a member of the royal family. With both her husband and father dead, Antigone left England for France where she married Jean D'Amancy in 1451; he was the Esquire of the Horse for Charles VII of France. "An alliance utterly alien to her dead father's policy"(Beaucourt). The marriage occurred before June of that year as the King of France issued papers legitimising Antigone and declaring her already married for a second time. On the 9th November 1452 the King of France granted the castle of Rumilly-sous-Cornillon to Jean and his descendants, who held it until 1518. Jean D'Amancy died in 1459. It is unknown when Antigone died.

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Chateau Rumilly-sous-Cornillon

Friday, 19 June 2015

Jilting Bernard Ezi

Princess Isabella (b.1332) was the eldest daughter of King Edward III of England and his wife Philippa. Isabella was spoiled and over-indulged by her father, who allowed and forgave her anything.
In 1351, when Isabella was 19 years old it was announced that she was to marry Bernard, second son of Bernard Ezi Lord d'Albret (1295-1358) and Mathe D'Armagnac (1300-48). Lord d'Albret was a Gascon lord and King Edward's chief lieutenant in the region.

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King Edward III
Due to Isabella's willful nature, she must have at the very least agreed to the match, rather than her father arranging it. There was very little to be gained by King Edward by marrying Isabella into the Ezi family as they were not politically prominent. It is possible that it was a love match, and that Isabella had met the diplomat's son and fallen in love with him, and told her father that she wished to marry the young Frenchman. In early May the king wrote to Lord d'Albret agreeing to the betrothal "with mutually glad hearts", again showing that this match was not initiated by the king, and it is doubtful that Lord d'Albret would suggest such a marriage.

The wedding was to take place in Gascony, where the Ezi family were seated, at the request of Lord d'Albret. King Edward settled a marriage portion on Isabella of 4000 marks as well as £1000 per year, along with the condition that if for any reason the marriage does not go ahead, Isabella was to keep the money. Isabella's impressive wedding trousseau was an array of expensive materials and jewels, including; cloth of gold, Tripoli silk, Indian silk lined with ermine, all embroidered in silver and gold - using seven ounces of gold thread.

Isabella was to sail to Gascony immediately after Christmas, and on the 15th November five ships were placed west of the mouth of the Thames River ready for her journey. As well as this, all ships bound for Gascony were told to dock at Plymouth so that they could accompany the Princess' fleet on their journey. However, a week before she was set to sail Isabella suddenly changed her mind and called off the wedding. King Edward showed no signs of being angry with his daughter, and in fact seemed delighted with her decision. He rewarded her with money, estates and honours over the next few years.

Bernard Ezi was devastated by Isabella's actions. He signed all of his rights and possessions over to his younger brother, and then entered a Franciscan monastery where he died later that month.

It is possible that Isabella's actions were related to her own experience when she herself was jilted by Louis de Male, Count of Flanders in 1347. After nine years of refusing, Louis finally agreed to the marriage, however as soon as the engagement was formalised in Flanders the whole court absconded. Isabella was quite literally left at the altar by her fiance. Isabella had to make the return journey to England and returned humiliated. For a spoiled child who was accustomed to having her own way, this may have been a slight she could not forget. Or perhaps, she remembered how only three years earlier, her sister Joan had sailed to France on the way to her wedding and how she had died of the plague during the journey through France. A third, more selfish, reason is possible; Isabella saw herself gaining nothing by marrying. She had money and was the most important woman at the royal court after her mother the queen. Whatever the reason, Isabella had made her decision and there was no changing her mind. 

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Marriage of Isabella and Enguerrand, 1365
Isabella did finally marry on the 27th July 1365 at the age of 33. Having the eldest daughter of a king marry so late in life would have been highly unusual, especially as by the end of 1561 Isabella was their only surviving daughter. Enguerrand, Lord of Coucy, was brought to England in 1360 as a hostage to be exchanged for an English prisoner, King John II of France. Enguerrand was seven years younger than Isabella, and the son and heir of a wealthy French lord. It seems that while he was in England, Isabella fell in love with him; again she was allowed to choose her husband rather than have an arranged marriage. Isabella and Enguerrand had two daughters; Marie (1366-1404) and Philippa (1367-1411). King Edward did not stop indulging his daughter; he released Enguerrand from being his prisoner without demanding a ransom, and he later made him Earl of Bedford and Count of Soissons.

Isabella was with her father when he died on the 21st June 1377. She spent most of her time at the English royal court, as her husband returned to France only a few years into the marriage, so Isabella and her daughters lived at her father's court. After the accession of her nephew King Richard II, Enguerrand cut all ties with England. Isabella died suddenly in England in 1379.