Agnes LNU


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Generation: 1

  1. 1.  Agnes LNU

    Agnes — John Bracton. John was born Norfolkshire, England. [Group Sheet]

    1. 2. Anne Bracton  Descendancy chart to this point was born 0___ 1390, (Norfolkshire, England).

Generation: 2

  1. 2.  Anne Bracton Descendancy chart to this point (1.Agnes1) was born 0___ 1390, (Norfolkshire, England).

    Anne — Geoffrey Boleyn. Geoffrey was born ~ 1380, Salle, Norfolk, England; died 0___ 1440. [Group Sheet]

    1. 3. Geoffrey Boleyn  Descendancy chart to this point was born 0___ 1406, Salle, Norfolk, England; died 0___ 1463; was buried London, England.

Generation: 3

  1. 3.  Geoffrey Boleyn Descendancy chart to this point (2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born 0___ 1406, Salle, Norfolk, England; died 0___ 1463; was buried London, England.


    Sir Geoffrey or Jeffery Boleyn (1406-1463) was a London merchant and Lord Mayor of London.


    Hever Castle.

    Blickling Hall as it is today.
    Geoffrey Boleyn was the son of Geoffrey Boleyn (d. 1440) yeoman of Salle, Norfolk, and Alice,[1] and grandson of Thomas Boleyn (d. 1411) of Salle and Anne, an heiress, daughter of Sir John Bracton, a Norfolk knight. He went to London, was apprenticed to a hatter, and became a freeman of the city through the Hatter’s Company in 1428. In 1429 he transferred to a grander livery company, the Mercers’ Company, of which he became master in 1454.[2] As a wealthy mercer he served as a Sheriff of London in 1447, as member of parliament for the city in 1449, as alderman in 1452, and Lord Mayor of London in 1457/8,[3] and was knighted[4] by King Henry VI.[5] He purchased the manor of Blickling in Norfolk from Sir John Fastolf in 1452, and Hever Castle in Kent in 1462.[5]

    He was buried in the church of St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London.[5]


    The brasses of five sons and four daughters were still in situ in Salle's parish church in 1730.[6][7]

    William Boleyn.[8][note 1]
    John Boleyn.[8]
    Thomas, prebendary of St. Stephen’s, Westminster, precentor and sub-dean of Wells, Master of Gonville Hall, Cambridge, and Master of the college at Maidstone,d.1472.[11](executor to Geoffrey's will).
    one unknown brother.
    Cecily (1408–26 June 1458[12]), died unmarried at Blickling.
    three unknown sisters.
    Simon, parochial chaplain of Salle, Norfolk died 3 August 1482.
    James of Gunthorpe, Norfolk, died 1493 (executor to Simon's will).
    Thomas of Gunthorpe, Norfolk (executor to Simon's will).
    Joan named in her brother's (Simon) will., married to Alan Roos[note 2] of Salle, died 1463, he was the receiver (responsible for collecting rents) to Margaret Paston's (nâee Mauteby d. 1484) properties in Salle.[15] Secondly she was married to Robert Aldrych, died 1474.
    According to British historian and author, Elizabeth Norton, Geoffrey Boleyn who died in 1440 was their great-uncle.[16]

    Marriage and issue

    Boleyn married Anne Hoo (1424 - 1484), the only child of Thomas Hoo, Baron Hoo and Hastings (d. 13 February 1455), by his first wife Elizabeth Wychingham, by whom he had two sons and five daughters:

    Sir Thomas Boleyn (d. 1471/2).
    Sir William Boleyn (d.1505), mercer, who married Margaret Butler, daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond.[17]
    Isabella (1434–85) who married Henry Aucher (1410–60).
    Alice Boleyn b.abt.1438 d. abt. 1480 m. Sir John Fortescue of Punsborne, Hatfield, Herts d. 1500.
    Anne Boleyn (born c.1440),[citation needed] second daughter, who married Sir Henry Heydon (d.1504), by whom she had eight children. She died c.1509.[18]
    Cecily Boleyn b.abt.1442.
    Elizabeth Boleyn b.abt.1459.
    Sir Geoffrey Boleyn died in 1471.[5] He and his wife Anne were the great-grandparents of Queen Anne Boleyn.[19]

    Arms of Geoffrey Boleyn

    The arms are Boleyn, Argent, a chevron gules,between three bulls heads couped Sable, quarterly with arms of Bracton, Azure, three mullets, a chief dauncette or.[note 3]

    end of biography

    Geoffrey — Anne Hastings. Anne (daughter of Thomas Hoo, Baron Hoo and Hastings and Elizabeth Wychingham) was born (England). [Group Sheet]

    1. 4. Anne Boleyn  Descendancy chart to this point was born (Norfolkshire) England.
    2. 5. William Boleyn  Descendancy chart to this point was born 0___ 1451, Blickling Hall, Blickling, Norfolk, England; died 10 Oct 1505.

Generation: 4

  1. 4.  Anne Boleyn Descendancy chart to this point (3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born (Norfolkshire) England.

    Anne — Henry Heydon. Henry (son of John Heydon and Eleanor Winter) was born (England). [Group Sheet]

    1. 6. Dorothy Heydon  Descendancy chart to this point was born 0___ 1470; died 29 Mar 1566, Norfolk, Norfolkshire, England.

  2. 5.  William Boleyn Descendancy chart to this point (3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born 0___ 1451, Blickling Hall, Blickling, Norfolk, England; died 10 Oct 1505.


    Sir William Boleyn (1451 – 10 October 1505) was the son of Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, a wealthy mercer and Lord Mayor of London, and his wife, Anne Hoo. He was the father of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and the paternal grandfather of King Henry VIII's second Queen, Anne Boleyn.


    William Boleyn was born at Blickling, Norfolk,[citation needed] the younger of the two sons of Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, a wealthy mercer and Lord Mayor of London, and his wife, Anne Hoo.[1] Sir William was heir to his elder brother, Sir Thomas Boleyn, in 1471/2.[2]

    Boleyn married Margaret Ormond (otherwise Butler) (d. before 20 March 1540), the daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond (died 3 August 1515), by his first wife, Anne Hankford. They had six sons, Sir Thomas, William (Archdeacon of Winchester), Sir James, Sir Edward, John and Anthony, and four daughters, Margaret (wife of John Sackville), Anne (wife of Sir John Shelton), Alice (the wife of Sir Robert Clere) and Jane (wife of Sir Philip Calthorpe).[3]

    Boleyn was created a Knight of the Bath by Richard III and was charged by Henry VII to take care of the beacons that were used to warn in case of an attack on England.[4] Sir William served as High Sheriff of Kent in 1489 and High Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in 1500.[citation needed]


    Anne Boleyn (18 November 1475 – 6 January 1555)[citation needed] married Sir John Shelton[5]
    Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire (c. 1477 – 12 March 1538/9) married Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and his first wife, Elizabeth Tilney[6]
    John Boleyn (1481 – 1484)[citation needed]
    Anthony Boleyn (c. 1483 – 30 September 1493)[citation needed]
    Jane Boleyn (c. 1485 died after 1521)[7] married Sir Phillip Calthorpe[8]
    Alice Boleyn (c. 1487 – 1 November 1538)[citation needed] married Sir Robert Clere (died 10 August 1529)[9]
    Margaret Boleyn (born about 1489)[citation needed] married John Sackville[10]
    William Boleyn (c. 1491 – 18 December 1571)[11]
    Sir James Boleyn (c.1493 – 5 December 1561)[12] married Elizabeth Wood[citation needed]
    Sir Edward Boleyn (born about 1496)[13] married Anne Tempest[citation needed]


    William — Margaret Butler. Margaret (daughter of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond and Anne Hankford) was born 0___ 1465; died 0___ 1537. [Group Sheet]

    1. 7. Anne Boleyn  Descendancy chart to this point was born 18 Nov 1475, Blickling, Norfolk, England; died 6 Jan 1555.
    2. 8. Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire  Descendancy chart to this point was born 0___ 1477, Bickling, Norfolk, England; died 12 Mar 1539, Hever, Kent, England.

Generation: 5

  1. 6.  Dorothy Heydon Descendancy chart to this point (4.Anne4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born 0___ 1470; died 29 Mar 1566, Norfolk, Norfolkshire, England.

    Dorothy — Thomas Brooke. Thomas (son of John Brooke, 7th Baron Cobham and Margaret Neville) was born 0___ 1465, (Cowling, Kent, England); died 19 Jul 1529, Cowling, Kent, England. [Group Sheet]

    1. 9. Elizabeth Brooke  Descendancy chart to this point was born 0___ 1503; died 0Aug 1560, Cobham, Kent, England.

  2. 7.  Anne Boleyn Descendancy chart to this point (5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born 18 Nov 1475, Blickling, Norfolk, England; died 6 Jan 1555.

    Anne married John Shelton Bef 1503. John was born 1472-1477, Carrow, Norfolk, England; died 21 Dec 1539, Norwich, Norfolk, England. [Group Sheet]

    1. 10. Anne Shelton  Descendancy chart to this point was born Aft 1505, Norwich, Norfolk, England; died 17 Sep 1563.
    2. 11. Margaret Shelton  Descendancy chart to this point was born (England).
    3. 12. John Shelton  Descendancy chart to this point was born ~ 1503, Norwich, Norfolk, England; died 15 Nov 1558; was buried Norwich, Norfolk, England.
    4. 13. Mary Shelton  Descendancy chart to this point was born 1510-1515, (England); died 1570-1571.

  3. 8.  Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of WiltshireThomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire Descendancy chart to this point (5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born 0___ 1477, Bickling, Norfolk, England; died 12 Mar 1539, Hever, Kent, England.


    was an English diplomat and politician in the Tudor era. He was born at the family home, Hever Castle, Kent, which had been purchased by his grandfather Geoffrey Boleyn, who was a wealthy mercer.

    He was buried at St. Peter's parish church in the village of Hever. His parents were Sir William Boleyn (1451 - 10 October 1505) and Lady Margaret Butler (1454-1539).

    He was the father of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII of England. As such, he was the maternal grandfather of Queen Elizabeth I.

    Thomas married Elizabeth Howard, Countess of Wiltshire Abt 1500, Bickling, Norfolk, England. Elizabeth (daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and Elizabeth Tilney, Countess of Surrey) was born Abt 1486, Norwich, Norfolk, England; died 3 Apr 1537. [Group Sheet]

    1. 14. Mary Boleyn  Descendancy chart to this point was born 1499-1500, Blickling Hall, Norfolk, England; died 19 Jul 1543.
    2. 15. Anne Boleyn, Queen of England  Descendancy chart to this point was born 0___ 1501, Blickling Hall, Blickling, Norfolk, England; died 19 May 1536, Tower Hill, London, England.

Generation: 6

  1. 9.  Elizabeth Brooke Descendancy chart to this point (6.Dorothy5, 4.Anne4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born 0___ 1503; died 0Aug 1560, Cobham, Kent, England.


    Elizabeth Brooke (1503–1560) was the wife of Thomas Wyatt, the poet, and the mother of Thomas Wyatt the younger who led Wyatt's Rebellion against Mary I. Her parents were Thomas Brooke, 8th Baron Cobham and Dorothy Heydon, the daughter of Sir Henry Heydon.[1] She was the sister of George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham and was considered a possible candidate for the sixth wife of Henry VIII of England.

    Marriage and issue
    Elizabeth married twice.

    First Marriage

    Sir Thomas Wyatt, (1503–1542) Hans Holbein the Younger
    In 1520, Elizabeth married Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-6 Oct 1542) and a year later, bore him a son:[1][3]

    Sir Thomas (1521–1554), who led an unsuccessful rebellion against Mary I in 1554. The aim of the rebellion was to replace the Catholic Queen Mary with her Protestant half-sister, Elizabeth.[4]

    Sir Thomas Wyatt (1521–1554)
    Early in the marriage, marital difficulties arose, with Wyatt claiming they were 'chiefly' her fault. He repudiated her as an adulteress, although there is no record linking her with any specific man. Elizabeth separated from Thomas Wyatt in 1526 and he supported her until around 1537, when he refused to do so any longer and sent her to live with her brother, Lord Cobham. In that same year, Lord Cobham attempted to force Wyatt to continue his financial support. He refused.[5] It wasn't until 1541, when Wyatt, accused of treason, was arrested and his properties confiscated, that the Brooke family was able to force a reconciliation as a condition for Wyatt’s pardon.[6]

    In a letter to Charles V, the imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys wrote that Wyatt had been released from the Tower at the request of Catherine Howard. Chapuys noted that the king had imposed two conditions; that Wyatt 'confess his guilt' and that 'he should take back his wife from whom he had been separated upwards of 15 years, on pain of death if he be untrue to her henceforth.' [7][8] It is unclear, however, whether this provision was ever enforced. After pursuing Anne Boleyn, before her relationship with the King, Wyatt had begun a long-term affair with Elizabeth Darrell and he continued his association with his mistress.[6]

    On February 14, 1542 the night after Catherine Howard had been condemned to death for adultery, Henry VIII held a dinner for many men and women. The king was said to pay great attention to Elizabeth and to Anne Bassett and both were thought to be possible choices for his sixth wife.[2] In early 1542, more than a year before Wyatt’s death, Elizabeth Brooke's name appeared in Spanish dispatches as one of three ladies in whom Henry VIII was said to be interested as a possible sixth wife.[2]

    The imperial ambassador, Chapuys, wrote that the lady for whom the king 'showed the greatest regard was a sister of Lord Cobham, whom Wyatt, some time ago, divorced for adultery. She is a pretty young creature, with wit enough to do as badly as the others if she were to try.' It would appear that the ambassador was mistaken, as at the time, Elizabeth Brooke was nearly forty years old. It is probable that Elizabeth Brooke had been confused with her beautiful young niece, Elisabeth Brooke, the eldest daughter of George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham, who married William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton. Elisabeth Brooke, Lord Cobham’s daughter, may have been at court on this occasion, since she was definitely there the following year. She would have been nearly sixteen in January 1542 and in later years was accounted one of the most beautiful women of her time. More important to a king who had just rid himself of a wife (Catherine Howard) who had committed adultery, this second Elisabeth had a spotless reputation.[6]

    Second marriage

    Following Wyatt’s death, Elizabeth Brooke married Sir Edward Warner (1511–1565), of Polstead Hall and Plumstead, Norfolk, Lord Lieutenant of the Tower. The couple had three sons:[9]

    Edward, who died in infancy
    Warner was removed from his position on July 28, 1553, at the start of the reign of Mary I, and was arrested on suspicion of treason the following January at his house in Carter Lane when Thomas Wyatt the younger rebelled against the Crown. Warner was held for nearly a year. Elizabeth’s son was executed. Edward, the son she had with Warner, died young. Two other sons died in infancy. The family fortunes were restored under Elizabeth I and Warner reclaimed his post at the Tower of London. His wife died there in August 1560 and was buried within its precincts.[6]

    [hide]Ancestors of Elizabeth Brooke (1503–1560)

    end of biography

    Elizabeth married Thomas Wyatt, Knight 0___ 1520. Thomas (son of Henry Wyatt and Anne Skinner) was born 0___ 1503, Allington Castle, Maidstone, Kent, England; died 6 Oct 1542, Sherborne, Dorset, England; was buried Sherborne, Dorset, England. [Group Sheet]

    1. 16. Thomas Wyatt  Descendancy chart to this point was born ~ 1522, Allington Castle, Maidstone, Kent, England; died 11 Apr 1554, Tower Hill, London, England.

  2. 10.  Anne Shelton Descendancy chart to this point (7.Anne5, 5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born Aft 1505, Norwich, Norfolk, England; died 17 Sep 1563.


    Anne SHELTON

    Born: AFT 1505, Shelton, Norfolk, England

    Died: 17 Sep 1563

    Notes: buried by her second husband, though in the burial records named Dame Anna Knevet, 13 Dec 1563. Her will is also under the name of Dame Anne Knyvet (that title being superior to that of her second husband) and she mentions her brother Thomas Shelton, sister Amye, sons Edmund, Henry, Anthony Knyvett, god daughter Anne Coote, Richard Coote, god daughter Anne Woodward and others.

    Father: John SHELTON (Sir Knight)

    Mother: Anne BOLEYN
    Married 1: Edmund KNYVETT (Sir Knight) ABT 1527, Buckenham Castle, Norfolk, England


    1. Thomas KNYVETT of Buckenham (Sir)

    2. Edmund KNYVETT

    3. Henry KNYVETT

    4. Anthony KNYVETT

    Married 2: Christopher COOTE of Blonorton (Esq.) (son of Richard Coote) (w. of Elizabeth Witchingham)


    5. Richard COOTE

    end of profile

    Shelton, which is nearby...

    Anne married Edmund Knyvet BY 1527. Edmund (son of Thomas Knyvet, Knight and Muriel Howard) was born ~ 1508, Norwich, Norfolk, England; died 1 May 1551, London, England. [Group Sheet]

    1. 17. Thomas Knyvett  Descendancy chart to this point was born ~ 1528; died 22 Sep 1569.

    Anne — Christopher Coote. [Group Sheet]

  3. 11.  Margaret Shelton Descendancy chart to this point (7.Anne5, 5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born (England).

  4. 12.  John Shelton Descendancy chart to this point (7.Anne5, 5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born ~ 1503, Norwich, Norfolk, England; died 15 Nov 1558; was buried Norwich, Norfolk, England.


    in Shelton...

    John — Margaret Parker. Margaret was born ~ 1510, Bletsoe, Bedfordshire, England. [Group Sheet]

  5. 13.  Mary SheltonMary Shelton Descendancy chart to this point (7.Anne5, 5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born 1510-1515, (England); died 1570-1571.


    Mary Shelton (1510×15–1570/71)[1] was one of the contributors to the Devonshire manuscript. Either she or her sister Margaret (Madge) Shelton may have been a mistress of King Henry VIII.


    Both Margaret and Mary were daughters of Sir John Shelton and his wife Anne, the sister of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, the father of King Henry VIII's second Queen consort, Anne Boleyn. Margaret and Mary were thus first cousins of the Queen.[2] Mary wrote poems, and it was said she was chided "for writing 'ydill poesies' in her prayerbook".[3]

    Mary was part of a social group which included the poets Sir Thomas Clere (d. 14 April 1545), Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and Thomas Wyatt,[4] with all of whom she was romantically linked. In an epitaph he composed at the death of Sir Thomas Clere, Surrey identified Mary as Clere's "beloved".[1] Mary's two closest friends were Lady Margaret Douglas, a niece of King Henry VIII, and Mary Howard, Duchess of Richmond, wife of the King's illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond. Shelton was the main editor and a contributor to the famous Devonshire MS, where members of their circle wrote poems they enjoyed or had composed.[5]

    Her father, John Shelton (1472 – December 21, 1539), was the son of Sir Ralph Shelton and Margaret Clere. He was a high sheriff in 1504, and knighted in 1509. Her siblings were; John, Ralph, Elizabeth, Anne, Gabriella, Emma, Thomas, Margaret and Amy Shelton (Mary was one of 10 children). She was married three times and had seven children. After the death of her fiance, Thomas Clere, she married Anthony Heveningham of Ketteringham, her first cousin. She had seven children with Heveningham: Arthur, John, Abigail, Bridget, Elizabeth, Mary and Anne. Another son, Anthony, died on November 22, 1557. Mary's final marriage was to Phillip Appleyard.[6]

    King's mistress

    One of the Shelton sisters is believed to have been King Henry's mistress for a six-month period beginning in February 1535, according to statements about mistresses made by the Imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, who referred to Mistress Shelton.[7][8] According to biographer Antonia Fraser, this was Margaret Shelton.[9][10] Chapuys was always at court when in England, more frequently so than most contemporaneous writers. Hugh Latimer identified Madge Shelton as the woman attendant on Anne when she miscarried within hours of Queen Katherine of Aragon's death. Madge was the "concubine's" closest companion in waiting owing to her familial ties, yet would be dismissed at the end.[11]

    However recent research has suggested that it was Mary who was rumoured to be Henry's mistress, and was rumoured to have been selected to become his fourth wife. Supposedly, the confusion of earlier historians arose from the label "Marg Shelton", in which the "y" resembled a "g", a common confusion in sixteenth-century writing.[12]

    Mary would have been a ‘lady-in-waiting’ to Anne, and although the two were cousins, according to Hart, “...this did not mean that their families were allies--not all Boleyns supported the queen...” [13] In point of fact, Queen Anne has been said to have been deeply in love with Henry and also very jealous of his attention to other women. Mary, known for having contributed greatly to the Devonshire MS, wrote many poems about love. Queen Anne was especially jealous that Mary could have been writing love poems about her husband, the King.[14] To make matters worse, Mary has been described as a young girl of great beauty[15] and talent, and her friends at court were a great influence on her, most of them also being highly literate.[16] According to one historian "Rumour twice linked Mary amorously with Henry VIII".[1] This other rumour, that Madge Shelton might become Henry's wife in 1538, appears in one of the Lisle Letters.[17]

    In 1536 Madge was betrothed to Henry Norris, a high-flying courtier, and strong supporter of the Boleyns' reformist cause. But already, Norris was in "very great favour with the King"; just as he was about to be accused of treason because the Queen misinterpreted his feelings, which coloured the testimonies they were all later forced to give.[18] Madge seems to be a faithful servant, yet fearfully duped by her mother Lady Shelton's spying, determined as she was to bring down Norris and Weston for using her daughter.[19] Unfortunately Mrs Coffin, had already been groomed as a spy when the Queen inadvertently told her of Sir Francis Weston's flirtations with Madge, of which she reproved. Norris may have been her betrothed, but Weston naively insinuated that he was in the Queen's Chambers to see her and not her servant.[20] Because there is still some speculation as to when Mary was born, it is believed that she could have been as young as fifteen when she began her affair with King Henry VIII.[12] Their affair together was short-lived, only lasting about six months. Mary seemed to have been very accepting of the situation with the king, and did not press him to give her land, money, or a title.[14]

    Her engagement to Norris was broken off when her father died at the age of sixty-two and left his family with financial troubles. Disconsolate Mary went away to a convent. After returning home, Mary became engaged to Thomas Clere the poet. However, he died soon after their engagement, leaving Mary his lands in his will.[21]

    By 1546 Mary had married her cousin Sir Anthony Heveningham (1507–1557) by whom she had five children, including Arthur Heveningham, and her youngest daughter, Abigail (wife of Sir George Digby of Coleshill, Warwickshire), who was later in attendance on Queen Elizabeth in 1588.[1] Interestingly enough Kelly Hart writes, "...through Arthur, Mary is thought to be an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales."[5] Meanwhile, there was suspicion of a conspiracy between Mary and Surrey, which was noted for investigation by the Privy Council. Mary married Philip Appleyard (b. c.1528) in 1558. She was buried in Heveningham church, Suffolk, on 8 January 1571. A probable portrait of Mary by Hans Holbein is in the collection at Windsor Castle.[1]

    Involvement in the Devonshire Manuscript

    Circulation and Mary's Possession of the MS

    The Devonshire manuscript passed through many hands during its circulation in the 1520s and 1530s. A few months after the confinement of Margaret Douglas and Thomas Howard for an impolitic affair in 1536, the MS was passed to Mary Shelton for the first time, where it is likely she added poems and allowed others to add poems to folios 22-50.[22] The MS returned to Mary Shelton (and Mary Fitzroy) in 1539, with the return of Mary Fitzroy to the Court. During this time, at Kenninghall, Mary Shelton is believed to have largely completed the manuscript with the addition of many Medieval fragments in folios 88-92.[22]

    Authorship Ambiguity

    Of the roughly 184 poems included in the collection, 80 have not been attributed to a definitive author. The majority of poems are ascribed to Thomas Wyatt. Others are attributed to Chaucer and other Medieval poets, and still others are assumed to have been created by Mary Shelton’s contemporaries, including Edmund Knyvet, Thomas Howard, and Henry Stuart, along with some ambiguous notations of “A.I.” and “Jon K.” as well as “Ann,” which may refer to Anne Boleyn.[22] Although Harrier (1975) discounted that 'an' had anything to do with Anne Boleyn and denied it was evidence of any signature.[23] Yet that author also assumes "a face should content me" were lines addressed to Madge's friend Mary Howard, another beauty, married to Wyatt's friend the royal Duke of Richmond. Although there is much debate and ambiguity surrounding the manuscript, Shelton is argued by scholars to be the main contributor and editor of the document.[22] Margaret Douglas is sometimes also credited with this.[24]

    The 'Courtly Love Lyric'

    Women and the Court

    Mary Shelton, as a part of the Court of Anne Boleyn, was subject to a culture of fine lines of social acceptability. Tudor culture expected a level of both amorous and self-restrained behaviour from women. As Ann Jones assesses, a woman was encouraged "to be a member of the chorus prompting men to bravery in tournaments and eloquence in conversation; she was expected to be a witty and informed participant in dialogues whose subject was most often love.[25]

    The poetry of the time reflected this. In Tudor Court, poems, like the ones ascribed in the Devonshire MS, were an integral part of social interaction, exchanged between members perhaps for songs, perhaps for rumor and the innuendo of gossip.[24]

    'Ydill Poesies'

    Along with the poetry she 'lifted' from medieval poets, Mary is thought to have added few original poems to the Manuscript. What is thought to be Mary Shelton’s handwriting has been identified in the following folios of the manuscript: 3, 22, 26-29, 30, 40-44, 55, 58-60, 61-62, 65, 67-68, 88, 89-90, 91-92.[22] An "unsentimental, plain-speaking" tone is often associated with her contributions.[24]

    Folios 6 and 7 of the document include the poem 'Suffryng in sorow in hope to attayn,' a poem about a despondent lover who cannot figure out her lover's pain. Above the poem in the folios, Margaret Douglas expresses her disappointment with it, saying 'forget thys,' but Mary Shelton, in her handwriting below Douglas', asserts the poem's worthiness: 'yt ys worhy.' This poem is usually ascribed to Mary Shelton because the first letters of the first seven stanzas spell out "SHELTVN"[24]

    There are a number of poems in the collection that are written from a woman's point of view, but it is unclear if the author is Shelton, or if, for that matter, the author is a woman at all.[a]

    In Fictional portrayals

    She appears in The Lady in the Tower by Jean Plaidy.
    The character of Madge Sheldon, played by Laura Jane Laughlin in the Showtime series The Tudors is loosely inspired by the two sisters.
    Mary Shelton appears in the series of books "The Lady Grace Mysteries" as a maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth I.
    She is the main character in "At the Mercy of the Queen" by Anne Clinard Barnhill.
    She is called Margaret Shelton in Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl as a mistress of King Henry VIII in the summer of 1524 when Mary Boleyn is away from court at Hever Castle with her and Henry's daughter, Catherine Carey, and is later a minor character at the end of the book from 1533-1536 when she comes to court as Madge Shelton (possibly a younger sister or cousin to Margaret) where the king has a brief affair with her through 1534-1535 before his affair with Jane Seymour. She tells Mary Boleyn that she had a fling with Henry Norris (a courtier who by some accounts actually married Madge in the mid-1530s before his execution for being a supposed lover of Anne Boleyn, along with various other men at court) and wanted desperately to kiss him, and was afraid for Mary because of all the suspicion against Anne Boleyn, Mary's younger sister and Madge's cousin. She asks Mary if she can leave court and go somewhere safe with her, but Mary explains that she has her husband, William Stafford, her son, Henry Carey, her daughter, Catherine Carey, who is in the Tower of London with Anne, and her younger daughter, also called Anne, to worry about. Mary tells Madge to go stay with the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.

    See also

    icon Poetry portal
    List of English royal mistresses
    Henry VIII
    Anne Boleyn


    Jump up ^ Mary Shelton is one of the main subjects of The Mistresses of Henry VIII by Kelly Hart, and Rethinking the Henrician Era: Essays on Early Tudor Texts and Contexts by Paul G. Remley.

    end of biography

    Mary — Anthony Heaveningham. [Group Sheet]

    Mary — Philip Appleyard. Philip was born (England). [Group Sheet]

  6. 14.  Mary BoleynMary Boleyn Descendancy chart to this point (8.Thomas5, 5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born 1499-1500, Blickling Hall, Norfolk, England; died 19 Jul 1543.

    Other Events:

    • Also Known As: Lady Mary


    Mary Boleyn, also known as Lady Mary [1] (c. 1499/1500 – 19 July 1543), was the sister of English queen Anne Boleyn, whose family enjoyed considerable influence during the reign of King Henry VIII.

    Mary was one of the mistresses of Henry VIII, from a period of roughly 1521 to 1526. It has been rumoured that she bore two of the king's children, though Henry did not acknowledge either of them as he had acknowledged Henry FitzRoy, his son by another mistress, Elizabeth Blount. Mary was also rumoured to have been a mistress of Henry VIII's rival, King Francis I of France, for some period between 1515 and 1519.[2]

    Mary Boleyn was married twice: in 1520 to William Carey, and again, secretly, in 1534, to William Stafford, a soldier from a good family but with few prospects. This secret marriage to a man considered beneath her station angered both Henry VIII and her sister, Queen Anne, and resulted in Mary's banishment from the royal court. She spent the remainder of her life in obscurity. She then died seven years later.

    Early life

    Mary was probably born at Blickling Hall, the family seat in Norfolk, and grew up at Hever Castle, Kent.[3] She was the daughter of a rich diplomat and courtier, Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, by his marriage to Lady Elizabeth Howard, the eldest daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk.

    There is no evidence of Mary's exact date of birth, but it occurred sometime between 1499 and 1508. Most historians suggest that she was the eldest of the three surviving Boleyn children.[4] Evidence suggests that the Boleyn family treated Mary as the eldest child; in 1597, her grandson Lord Hunsdon claimed the earldom of Ormond on the grounds that he was the Boleyns’ legitimate heir. Many ancient peerages can descend through female heirs, in the absence of an immediate male heir. If Anne had been the elder sister, the better claim to the title would have belonged to her daughter, Queen Elizabeth I. However, it appears that Queen Elizabeth offered Mary's son, Henry, the earldom as he was dying, although he declined it. If Mary had been the eldest Boleyn sister, Henry would have inherited the title upon his grandfather's death without a new grant from the queen.[5] There is more evidence to suggest that Mary was older than Anne. She was married first, on 4 February 1520;[6] an elder daughter was traditionally married before her younger sister. In 1532, when Anne was created Marchioness of Pembroke, she was referred to as "one of the daughters of Thomas Boleyn". Were she the eldest, that status would probably have been mentioned. Most historians now accept Mary as the eldest child, placing her birth some time in 1499.[7]

    Mary was brought up with her brother George and her sister Anne by a French governess at Hever Castle in Kent. She was given a conventional education deemed essential for young ladies of her rank and status, which included the basic principles of arithmetic, grammar, history, reading, spelling, and writing. In addition to her family genealogy, Mary learned the feminine accomplishments of dancing, embroidery, etiquette, household management, music, needlework, and singing, and games such as cards and chess. She was also taught archery, falconry, riding, and hunting.[8]

    It is possible that Mary began her education abroad and spent time as a companion to Archduchess Margaret of Austria, Regent of the Netherlands, but it is believed that it was Anne who was chosen to go to the court of the Archduchess.[9] Mary remained in England for most of her childhood, until she was sent abroad in 1514 around the age of fifteen when her father secured her a place as maid-of-honour to the King’s sister, Princess Mary, who was going to Paris to marry King Louis XII of France.

    After a few weeks, many of the Queen's English maids were sent away, but Mary was allowed to stay, probably due to the fact that her father was the new English ambassador to France. Even when Queen Mary left France after she was widowed on 1 January 1515, Mary remained behind at the court of Louis' successor, Francis I and his queen consort Claude.[10]

    Royal affair in France

    Mary was joined in Paris by her father, Sir Thomas, and her sister, Anne, who had been studying in France for the previous year. During this time Mary is supposed to have embarked on several affairs, including one with King Francis himself.[11][12] Although some historians believe that the reports of her sexual affairs are exaggerated, the French king referred to her as "The English Mare", "my hackney",[12] and as "una grandissima ribalda, infame sopra tutte" ("a great slag, infamous above all").[11][13][14]

    She returned to England in 1519, where she was appointed a maid-of-honour to Catherine of Aragon, the queen consort of Henry VIII.[15]

    Royal mistress

    Signature of Mary Boleyn as "Mary Carey" after her marriage to William Carey
    Soon after her return, Mary was married to William Carey, a wealthy and influential courtier, on 4 February 1520; Henry VIII was a guest at the couple's wedding.[16] At some point, Mary became Henry's mistress; the exact date is unclear, but it probably began some time in 1521.[17] Her first child, Catherine, was born in 1524. Henry's involvement is believed to have ended prior to the birth of Mary's second child, Henry Carey, in March 1526, at which point his involvement would have lasted for five years.[17][18]

    During this time, it was rumoured that one, or both, of Mary's children were fathered by the king.[19][20] One witness noted that Mary's son, Henry Carey, bore a resemblance to Henry VIII.[17] John Hale, Vicar of Isleworth, some ten years after the child was born, remarked that he had met a 'young Master Carey' who was the king's purported bastard child.[17] No other contemporary evidence exists to support the argument that Henry was the king’s biological son.

    Henry VIII's wife, Catherine of Aragon, had first been married to Henry's elder brother Arthur when he was a little over fifteen years old, but Arthur had died just a few months later. Henry later used this to justify the annulment of his marriage to Catherine, arguing that her marriage to Arthur had created an affinity between Henry and Catherine; as his brother's wife, under canon law she became his sister. When Mary's sister Anne later became Henry's wife, this same canon law might also support that a similar affinity had been created between Henry and Anne due to his earlier liaison with Mary. In 1527, during his initial attempts to obtain a papal annulment of his marriage to Catherine, Henry also requested a dispensation to marry Anne, the sister of his former mistress.[21]

    Sister’s rise to power

    Anne had returned to England in January 1522; she soon joined the royal court as one of Queen Catherine's maids-of-honour. Anne achieved considerable popularity at court, although the sisters already moved in different circles and were not thought to have been particularly close.

    Although Mary was alleged to have been more attractive than her sister, Anne seems to have been more ambitious and intelligent. When the king took an interest in Anne, she refused to become his mistress, being shrewd enough not to give in to his sexual advances and returning his gifts.[22] By the middle of 1527, Henry was determined to marry her. This gave him further incentive to seek the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. A year later, when Mary's husband died during an outbreak of sweating sickness, Henry granted Anne Boleyn the wardship of her nephew, Henry Carey. Mary's husband had left her with considerable debts, and Anne arranged for her nephew to be educated at a respectable Cistercian monastery. Anne also interceded to secure her widowed sister an annual pension of ¹100.[23]

    Second marriage

    In 1532, when Anne accompanied Henry to the English Pale of Calais on his way to a state visit to France, Mary was one of her companions. Anne was crowned queen on 1 June 1533 and on 7 September gave birth to Henry's daughter Elizabeth, who later became Queen Elizabeth I. In 1534, Mary secretly married an Essex landowner's younger son: William Stafford (later Sir William Stafford). Since Stafford was a soldier, his prospects as a second son so slight, and his income so small, many believed the union was a love match.[24] When Mary became pregnant, the marriage was discovered. Queen Anne was furious, and the Boleyn family disowned Mary. The couple were banished from court.

    Mary's financial circumstances became so desperate that she was reduced to begging the king’s adviser Thomas Cromwell to speak to Henry and Anne on her behalf. She admitted that she might have chosen "a greater man of birth and a higher" but never one that should have loved her so well, nor a more honest man. And she went on, "I had rather beg my bread with him than to be the greatest queen in Christendom. And I believe verily ... he would not forsake me to be a king". Henry, however, seems to have been indifferent to her plight. Mary asked Cromwell to speak to her father, her uncle, and her brother, but to no avail. It was Anne who relented, sending Mary a magnificent golden cup and some money, but still refused to reinstate her position at court. This partial reconciliation was the closest the two sisters attained; it is not thought that they met after Mary's exile from the king's court.

    Mary's life between 1534 and her sister's execution on 19 May 1536 is difficult to trace. There is no record of her visiting her parents, and no evidence of any correspondence with, or visits to, her sister Anne or her brother George when they were imprisoned in the Tower of London. Like their uncle, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, she may have thought it wise to avoid association with her now-disgraced relatives.[citation needed]

    Letters Patent by Henry VIII, referenced in Alison Weir's 2011 book, Mary Boleyn: 'The Great and Infamous Whore', reveal that Mary had been posthumously accorded the title Dame Mary Stafford. Her husband, William, had been knighted on 23 September 1545, with Mary having died in 1543, two years earlier. These letters indicate that, in their final years, the couple had remained outcasts from the court and in 1542 were dealing with family real estate concerns, living in retirement at Rochford Hall in Essex, which was owned by the Boleyns.[25] If the couple had had children, none of them survived infancy.[citation needed] After Anne’s execution, their mother retired from court, dying in seclusion just two years later. Her father, Thomas, died a year after his wife. Following the deaths of her parents, Mary inherited some property in Essex. She seems to have lived out the rest of her days in obscurity and relative comfort with her second husband. Hever Castle, home of the Boleyns, was returned to the Crown at the death of her father, Thomas. When Henry VIII sold it, he sent Mary some of the proceeds, though he had given her nothing of value at the end of their affair when it would have been expected for him to do so.[citation needed] Mary died of unknown causes, on 19 July 1543, in her early forties.

    Mary married William Carey (1500 – 22 June 1528) but it has long been thought that one or both of Mary Boleyn's older children were fathered by Henry VIII.[26][27] Some writers, such as Alison Weir, question whether Henry Carey (Mary's son) was fathered by the King,[28] while others, such as Dr. G.W. Bernard (author of The King's Reformation) and Joanna Denny (author of Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen and Katherine Howard: A Tudor Conspiracy) argue that he may have been.

    When comparing portraits, it has been argued that Catherine Carey and her daughters Lettice, Anne, and Elizabeth Knollys all bore a marked resemblance to Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. If Catherine was indeed born in June 1524, then this would point to her being fathered by Henry VIII, since Mary Boleyn's affair with him appears to have begun around 1522 and ended in the early summer of 1525. This date also makes it possible for Henry Carey to have been conceived just before the end of the affair. A close reading of the Letters and Papers (a collection of surviving documents from the period) seems to pinpoint Henry Carey's birth to March 1526.[29][30]

    Also in favour of the king's paternity of Mary's son is that the child was named Henry, and at least one observer noted that Mary's son bore a resemblance to Henry VIII. That person was John Hales, vicar of Isleworth, who some ten years after Mary's son was born remarked that he had met "young Master Carey," who some believed was the king's son. There is no other existing contemporary evidence that Henry Carey was the king’s biological child.

    Mary Boleyn was the mother of:

    Catherine Carey (1524 – 15 January 1569). Maid-of-honour to both Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard, she married a Puritan, Sir Francis Knollys, Knight of the Garter, by whom she had issue. She later became chief lady of the bedchamber to her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. One of her daughters, Lettice Knollys, became the second wife of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, the favourite of Elizabeth I.
    Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon (4 March 1526 – 23 July 1596). He was ennobled by Queen Elizabeth I shortly after her coronation, and later made a Knight of the Garter. When he was dying, Elizabeth offered Henry the Boleyn family title of Earl of Ormond, which he had long sought, but at that point, declined. He was married to Anne Morgan, by whom he had issue.
    Mary's marriage to William Stafford (d. 5 May 1556) may have resulted in the birth of two further children:[31]

    Edward Stafford (1535–1545).
    Anne Stafford (b. 1536?–?), probably named in honour of Mary's sister, Queen Anne Boleyn.

    Mary married William Carey 4 Feb 1520. William (son of Thomas Carey and Margaret Spencer) was born ~ 1500, Aldenham, Hertfordshire, England; died 22 Jun 1528. [Group Sheet]

    1. 18. Catherine Carey  Descendancy chart to this point was born ~ 1524; died 15 Jan 1569, Hampton Court Palace, London, England; was buried Westminster Abbey, 20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA, United Kingdom.
    2. 19. Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon  Descendancy chart to this point was born 0Mar 1526.

  7. 15.  Anne Boleyn, Queen of EnglandAnne Boleyn, Queen of England Descendancy chart to this point (8.Thomas5, 5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born 0___ 1501, Blickling Hall, Blickling, Norfolk, England; died 19 May 1536, Tower Hill, London, England.


    Anne Boleyn (c. 1501 - 9 May 1536)

    was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII and Marquess of Pembroke in her own right. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation. Anne was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard, and was educated in the Netherlands and France, largely as a maid of honour to Claude of France. She returned to England in early 1522, to marry her Irish cousin James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond; the marriage plans were broken up by Cardinal Wolsey, in whose household Ormond was then a beloved page, and she secured a post at court as maid of honour to Henry VIII's wife, Catherine of Aragon.

    Early in 1523 there was a secret betrothal between Anne and Henry Percy, son of the 5th Earl of Northumberland. In January 1524, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey broke the betrothal, Anne was sent back home to Hever Castle, and Percy was married to Lady Mary Talbot, to whom he had been betrothed since adolescence. In February/March 1526, Henry VIII began his pursuit of Anne. She resisted his attempts to seduce her, refusing to become his mistress - which her sister Mary had been. It soon became the one absorbing object of Henry's desires to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine so he would be free to marry Anne. When it became clear that Pope Clement VII would not annul the marriage, the breaking of the power of the Catholic Church in England began.

    Henry and Anne married on 25 January 1533. On 23 May 1533, Thomas Cranmer declared Henry and Catherine's marriage null and void; five days later, he declared Henry and Anne's marriage to be good and valid. Shortly afterwards, the Pope decreed sentences of excommunication against Henry and Cranmer. As a result of this marriage and these excommunications, the first break between the Church of England and Rome took place and the Church of England was brought under the King's control. Anne was crowned Queen of England on 1 June 1533. On 7 September, she gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I, whose gender disappointed Henry. He was not entirely discouraged, for he said that a son would surely follow and professed to love Elizabeth. Three miscarriages followed, and by March 1536, Henry was courting Jane Seymour.

    Henry had Anne investigated for high treason in April 1536. On 2 May she was arrested and sent to the Tower of London, where she was tried before a jury of peers - which included Henry Percy, her former betrothed, and her own uncle, Thomas Howard - and found guilty on 15 May. She was beheaded four days later. Modern historians view the charges against her, which included adultery, incest, and witchcraft, as unconvincing. Following the coronation of her daughter Elizabeth as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation, particularly through the works of John Foxe.

    Over the centuries, she has inspired or been mentioned in numerous artistic and cultural works. As a result, she has retained her hold on the popular imagination. Anne has been called "the most influential and important queen consort England has ever had", since she provided the occasion for Henry VIII to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and declare his independence from Rome.


    Ann is a cousin several times over to the grandchildren of Vernia Elivira Swindell Byars:

    beheaded by her husband, Henry VIII...

    Anne — Henry VIII, King of England. Henry (son of Henry VII, King of England and Elizabeth of York, Queen of England) was born 28 Jun 1491, Greenwich Palace, Greenwich, England; was christened Observant Friars, Greenwich, Kent, England; died 28 Jan 1547, Palace of Whitehall, Wesminster, England; was buried 16 Feb 1547, Saint Georges Church, Windsor, Berkshire, England. [Group Sheet]

    1. 20. Elizabeth I, Queen of England  Descendancy chart to this point was born 7 Sep 1533, Greenwich Palace, Greenwich, England; died 24 Mar 1603, Richmond Palace, London, England; was buried 28 Apr 1603, Westminster Abbey, 20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA, United Kingdom.

Generation: 7

  1. 16.  Thomas WyattThomas Wyatt Descendancy chart to this point (9.Elizabeth6, 6.Dorothy5, 4.Anne4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born ~ 1522, Allington Castle, Maidstone, Kent, England; died 11 Apr 1554, Tower Hill, London, England.


    Sir Thomas "Rebel, The Younger, Traitor" Wyatt
    Born about 1522 in Allington Castle, Maidstone, Kent County, Englandmap
    Son of Thomas Wyatt and Elizabeth (Brooke) Warner
    Brother of Ann Wyatt [half], Walter Wyatt [half], Charles Wyatt [half], Henry Warner [half] and Edward Warner [half]
    Husband of Jane (Haute) Wyatt — married 1537 [location unknown]
    Father of Edward Wyatt, Thomas Wyatt, Carolus Wyatt, Richard Wyatt, Henry Wyatt, Charles Wyatt, Anne (Wyatt) Twisden, Arthur Wyatt, Jane Wyatt, Abb Wyatt, George Wyatt, Frances Wyatt, Henry Wyatt, Jethro Wyatt, Joan Wyatt, Jocosa Wyatt and Ursula Wyatt
    Died 11 Apr 1554 in Tower Hill, London, Middlesex, Englandmap
    Profile managers: April Dauenhauer private message [send private message] and Lindsay Coleman private message [send private message]
    Wyatt-244 created 18 Feb 2011 | Last modified 6 Nov 2016

    Categories: Magna Carta | Malet-18 Descendants.

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    Thomas Wyatt is a descendant of a Magna Carta surety baron.
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    Thomas Wyatt is a descendant of Magna Carta surety baron William Malet
    The Wyatt Rebellion of 1554

    The fear of England becoming re-Catholicised combined with the proposed marriage between Mary and Philip of Spain, led to the Wyatt Rebellion of 1554. This was a rebellion led by nobles – principally Sir Thomas Wyatt from Kent, Sir Peter Carew from Devon, Sir James Croft from Herefordshire and the Duke of Suffolk from Leicestershire. However, it had one major weakness – it did not have the popular support of the people across the land and was doomed to failure.

    There were those in England who opposed Mary’s staunch Catholicism and who feared the return of Papal authority in England and Wales. These men were equally alarmed by Mary’s proposed marriage to Philip of Spain, as they feared that this would lead to Spain having an undue influence on English politics. France who could not countenance a Habsburg king of England, with all that it might entail, shared this fear. With the Holy Roman Empire to the east and with Habsburg Spain on her southwest border, the last thing France wanted was an extension of Habsburg influence across the Channel.

    After her coronation on October 1st 1553, Mary quickly placed Catholics in posts of responsibility, including increasing the numbers in the Privy Council to 43. The Privy Council was the most important body in government and the senior nobles in it had easy access to the Queen.

    The plan itself involved too many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ if it was to succeed. The noble conspirators planned to remove Mary, instate Elizabeth as Queen and arrange for her to marry Edward Courtenay – a man Mary had already rejected as a husband.

    The plan was for three rebellions to take place in separate parts of the country. They would occur at the same time – in the Midlands, the West Country and Kent. The plan was that the government would not know which one to put down first and each would blossom as a result of their localised success and attract more and more supporters among the common people.

    The French Navy would blockade the English Channel with eighty ships so that the Habsburgs would not be able to help Mary.

    The plan failed miserably. The Imperial Ambassador, Simon Renard, had heard rumours that such a plot existed and informed the Lord Chancellor, Stephen Gardner, of his concerns. Gardner brought in Courtenay for questioning as Renard had mentioned his name. The records stated that Gardner’s questioning was ‘robust’ and Courtenay was not a man who could stand up to this. Edward Courtenay told Gardner all that he knew about the plot so that the government knew about the plot even before it had begun – even if Courtenay would not have known about the details.

    The ‘uprisings’ in the Midlands and the West Country were a failure as few of the people there gave Carew and the Duke of Suffolk the support they needed for success. It seems that though there was concern about Mary marrying a foreigner, loyalty to the Queen took precedence. Those in the Midlands did not want to commit treason (Suffolk raised a force of just 140 men) while many in the West were Catholic.

    Wyatt succeeded in raising an army in Kent of about 4,000 men and his proximity to London greatly worried the government there. A force led by the Duke of Norfolk was sent to deal with Wyatt but this collapsed when Wyatt was helped when 500 government troops deserted to his cause. Norfolk and what was left of his force retreated to London.

    There can be little doubt that there were those outside of noble circles who were gravely concerned by the thought of Mary marrying Philip and it was these people who joined Wyatt. At a trial held after the rebellion had failed, one rebel is recorded t have stated that the rebellion was “to prevent us from over-running with strangers”.

    However, Wyatt delayed his advance on London and gave the city time to organise its defences. His attempts to cross the River Thames near to the Tower were thwarted as the bridges had been deliberately damaged to stop this.

    Wyatt marched to the southwest of London and crossed the Thames there. He marched his men to what is now Hyde Park Corner and made for the City. To get into the City, Wyatt had planned to get in via Ludgate. However, the gate was heavily fortified and to get to it, the rebels had to move up narrow streets (via the Stand and Fleet Street). By using these narrow streets, Wyatt left his men open to being trapped by armed Londoners loyal to Mary. This is what happened and he was defeated.

    Wyatt was sent to the Tower of London, as were the other noblemen who were caught. Their guilt was obvious. Those rebels who were not killed were arrested. In fact, so many were caught that the authorities had nowhere to put them (in terms of prison space) and had to use local churches.

    Mary ordered that the offenders should be harshly dealt with. However, not all of her advisors shared this view. Mary listened to those advisors who suggested that leniency for the rebels would be the best way forward and would demonstrate her true Christian nature. She was told that this would raise her status still further in the eyes of the people.

    Only two of the leaders were executed for their treason – Wyatt and the Duke of Suffolk. Other minor nobles were also executed but some – guilty of treason – were spared. In total about 90 rebels were executed but many of the common people who had joined Wyatt and survived were spared. Two other casualties were Lady Jane Grey and her husband Guildford Dudley. Both had been in prison since the failed attempt to put Lady Jane on the throne and had nothing to do with Wyatt’s rebellion. However Mary felt that she could no longer risk anyone rallying to Lady Jane’s cause – hence her execution – especially as her father, the Duke of Suffolk, had been involved in this plot and had been executed for treason.

    It is thought that Wyatt was tortured so that he would admit that Princess Elizabeth was involved in the rebellion. This he refused to admit to and he made it clear on the scaffold just before he was executed that she was innocent of any involvement in the rebellion. When a government official at the execution tried to contradict Wyatt’s statement, the people who had gathered at Tower Hill greeted his comments with anger as the final words of a condemned man were always seen as being truthful.

    Princess Elizabeth was briefly imprisoned in the Tower but was quickly released.

    Did the rebellion have any chance of success? The rebellion started in the worst month in terms of weather – January – though it had been planned to start in March. The roads they planned to use to transport both men and equipment had become unusable due to the rain. Carriages carrying equipment from Kent to London lost their wheels on route to the city and the rebels had to leave behind equipment that might have helped them in London. Wyatt’s route into London was also fraught with difficulties for an attacking force. The roads in the City were narrow and made it very easy for a relatively small force to defend the imposing gates that surrounded the old City. If Wyatt and his men could not get through these gates, he would not have been able to get into the city itself. Therefore, the heart of government – capturing it was his goal – was safe. Another major weakness of the plot was the fact that it required all three uprisings to succeed if the authorities were going to be split in terms of where to deploy the military. If one failed, this became less of an issue for the government; if two failed, then the success of the rebellion rested on just one of the three uprisings. Secrecy was also a major issue in explaining the rebel’s failure. So many nobles were involved that leakages were almost certain – and this is what happened. While Gardner may not have been able to control events, he knew what was going to occur and could plan accordingly – hence the deliberate destruction of the bridges over the Thames near the City; hence the deployment of troops at Ludgate. The only thing Gardner failed to succeed in was his efforts to get Wyatt to admit that Elizabeth was involved.

    Marriage and Issue

    Sir Thomas Wyatt married Jane (or Joan) Haute in 1537.[1]

    They had six sons and four daughters.[2]

    Known sons:

    Known daughters:

    Unproven Children of Sir Thomas Wyatt


    ? 'Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vol. 5, p 412
    ? 'Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vol. 5, p 412
    ? 'Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vol. 5, p 412
    ? 'Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vol. 5, p 412
    ? 'Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vol. 5, p 412
    ? 'Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vol. 5, p 412
    ? 'Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vol. 5, p 412
    ? 'Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vol. 5, p 412
    ? 'Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vol. 5, p 412
    ? 'Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vol. 5, p 412
    ? 'Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vol. 5, p 412
    See also:
    Richardson, Douglas, and Kimball G. Everingham. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. Vol. V. Salt Lake City, UT.: Douglas Richardson., 2013. Vol. V, Page 412.
    Magna Carta Ancestry: A study in Colonial and Medieval Families, Richardson, Douglas, (Kimball G. Everingham, editor. 2nd edition, 2011), vol. 4 p. 383 #15, record for Thomas Wyatt.
    Plantagenet Ancestry: A study in Colonial and Medieval Families, Richardson, Douglas, (Kimball G. Everingham, editor. 2nd edition, 2011), vol. 3 p. 531 #18, record for Thomas Wyatt.
    Complete Baronetage, 1611-1880 (1900-1906), Cokayne, George Edward, (5 volumes. Exeter [England]: W. Pollard, 1900-1906), FHL book 942 D22cg., vol. 1 p. 74.


    Thomas — Jane Haute. Jane was born 0___ 1522; died Aft 1583, Maidstone, Kent, England. [Group Sheet]

    1. 21. George Wyatt  Descendancy chart to this point was born 0___ 1550, Allington Castle, Maidstone, Kent, England; died Bef 1625, Ireland; was buried Boxley, Kent, England.

  2. 17.  Thomas Knyvett Descendancy chart to this point (10.Anne6, 7.Anne5, 5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born ~ 1528; died 22 Sep 1569.

    Other Events:

    • Occupation: High Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk

    Thomas — Catherine Stanley. (daughter of Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby and Margaret Barlow) [Group Sheet]

  3. 18.  Catherine CareyCatherine Carey Descendancy chart to this point (14.Mary6, 8.Thomas5, 5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born ~ 1524; died 15 Jan 1569, Hampton Court Palace, London, England; was buried Westminster Abbey, 20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA, United Kingdom.

    Catherine married Francis Knollys, Knight 26 Apr 1540, Hertfordshire, England. Francis (son of Robert Knollys and Lettice Penystone) was born 1511-1514, Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire, England; died 19 Jul 1596; was buried Rotherfield Greys, England. [Group Sheet]

    1. 22. Lettice Knollys  Descendancy chart to this point was born 8 Nov 1543, Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire, England; died 25 Dec 1634, Drayton Bassett, Staffordshire, England; was buried Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick, Warwickshire, England.
    2. 23. Henry Knollys  Descendancy chart to this point died 0___ 1583.

  4. 19.  Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon Descendancy chart to this point (14.Mary6, 8.Thomas5, 5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born 0Mar 1526.

  5. 20.  Elizabeth I, Queen of EnglandElizabeth I, Queen of England Descendancy chart to this point (15.Anne6, 8.Thomas5, 5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born 7 Sep 1533, Greenwich Palace, Greenwich, England; died 24 Mar 1603, Richmond Palace, London, England; was buried 28 Apr 1603, Westminster Abbey, 20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA, United Kingdom.

    Other Events:

    • Religion: Anglican, Church of England
    • Also Known As: Elizabeth Tudor


    The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, the childless Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.

    Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII by second wife, Anne Boleyn, who was executed two and a half years after Elizabeth's birth. Anne's marriage to Henry VIII was annulled, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate.

    Her half-brother, Edward VI, ruled until his death in 1553, bequeathing the crown to Lady Jane Grey and ignoring the claims of his two half-sisters, Elizabeth and the Roman Catholic Mary, in spite of statute law to the contrary.

    Edward's will was set aside and Mary became queen, deposing Lady Jane Grey.

    During Mary's reign, Elizabeth was imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.

    aka "Palace of Placentia"...

Generation: 8

  1. 21.  George Wyatt Descendancy chart to this point (16.Thomas7, 9.Elizabeth6, 6.Dorothy5, 4.Anne4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born 0___ 1550, Allington Castle, Maidstone, Kent, England; died Bef 1625, Ireland; was buried Boxley, Kent, England.


    George Wyatt aka Wiat
    Born 1550 in Allington Castle, Maidstone, Kent County, England
    ANCESTORS ancestors
    Son of Thomas Wyatt and Jane (Haute) Wyatt
    Brother of Thomas Wyatt, Edward Wyatt, Carolus Wyatt, Richard Wyatt, Henry Wyatt, Charles Wyatt, Anne (Wyatt) Twisden, Arthur Wyatt, Jane Wyatt, Abb Wyatt, Ursula Wyatt, Frances Wyatt, Jocosa Wyatt, Henry Wyatt, Jethro Wyatt and Joan Wyatt
    Husband of Jane (Finch) Wyatt — married 8 Oct 1582 in Eastwell, Kent
    DESCENDANTS descendants
    Father of Joan Wyatt, Katherine Wyatt, Francis Wyatt, Eleanor Wyatt, Anne Wyatt, Hawte Wyatt, Margaret Wyatt, Henry Wyatt, George Wyatt, Thomas Wyatt, Isabel (Wyatt) Page and Jane Wyatt
    Died before 1 Sep 1624 in Ireland


    Sir George Wyatt was born about 1550 in Allington Castle, Maidstone, Kent County, England, the son of Thomas Wyatt and Jane (Haute) Wyatt. [1] He was the brother of Thomas Wyatt, Edward Wyatt, Carolus Wyatt, Richard Wyatt, Henry Wyatt, Charles Wyatt, Anne Wyatt, Arthur Wyatt, Jane Wyatt, Abb Wyatt, Frances Wyatt, Joan Wyatt, Jethro Wyatt, Henry Wyatt, Jocosa Wyatt and Ursula Wyatt.[2] [3] George's father led the unsuccessful Wyatt's rebellion in 1554, was imprisoned in the Tower of London and was executed in 1554.

    George was admitted to Grays’ Inn when 17. At the age of 18, he married. Sir George married Jane Finch, the daughter of Sir Thomas Finch, on October 8, 1582 in Eastwell, Kent. They had the following children: [4]

    Francis Wyatt,
    Eleanor Wyatt,
    Hawte Wyatt,
    Henry Wyatt,
    George Wyatt,
    Thomas Wyatt[2]
    In 1571 George and his family were restored in blood and arms after having been deprived of them in consequence of Bill of Attainment and execution of his father.

    Sir George was a sixteenth-century writer. He was the first biographer of Henry VIII's second queen, Anne Boleyn. His grandfather, Thomas Wyatt the Elder, had been a cousin and early admirer of Anne's.[5]

    Sir George died September 16, 1623 in Ireland. He was buried at St Mary the Virgin and All Saints Churchyard, Boxley, Maidstone Borough, Kent, England[2]


    ? Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families Vol IV, page 383 #16
    ? 2.0 2.1 2.2 Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families
    ? Faris, David. Plantagenet Ancestry of Seventeenth-Century Colonists. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1996
    ? Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families Vol IV, page 383 #16
    ? Wikipedia: George Wyatt
    See also:

    Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, (2011), Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, Royal Ancestry series, 2nd edition, 4 vols., ed. Kimball G. Everingham, (Salt Lake City, Utah: the author, 2011), volume IV, page 383, #16.
    Richardson, Douglas, and Kimball G. Everingham. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. Vol. V. Salt Lake City, UT.: Douglas Richardson., 2013. Pages 412, 413.

    end of biography

    at St Mary the Virgin and All Saints Churchyard

    George married Jane Finch 8 Oct 1582, Eastwell, Kent, England. Jane was born 0___ 1555; died 27 Mar 1644. [Group Sheet]

    1. 24. Hawte Wyatt  Descendancy chart to this point was born ~ 4 Jun 1594, Allington Castle, Maidstone, Kent, England; died ~31 Jul 1638.

  2. 22.  Lettice KnollysLettice Knollys Descendancy chart to this point (18.Catherine7, 14.Mary6, 8.Thomas5, 5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) was born 8 Nov 1543, Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire, England; died 25 Dec 1634, Drayton Bassett, Staffordshire, England; was buried Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick, Warwickshire, England.

    Other Events:

    • Also Known As: Countess of Essex
    • Also Known As: Countess of Leicester
    • Also Known As: Lady Essex
    • Also Known As: Lettice Dudley
    • Also Known As: Viscountess Hereford


    Lettice Knollys (/'no?lz/ nohlz, sometimes called Laetitia, also known as Lettice Devereux or Lettice Dudley), Countess of Essex and Countess of Leicester (8 November 1543[1] – 25 December 1634), was an English noblewoman and mother to the courtiers Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex and Lady Penelope Rich, although via her marriage to Elizabeth I's favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, she incurred the Queen's unrelenting displeasure.[2][3]

    A grandniece of Anne Boleyn and close to Princess Elizabeth since childhood, Lettice Knollys was introduced early into court life. At 17 she married Walter Devereux, Viscount Hereford, who in 1572 became Earl of Essex. After her husband went to Ireland in 1573 she possibly became involved with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. There was plenty of scandalous talk, not least when Essex died in Ireland of dysentery in 1576. Two years later Lettice Knollys married Robert Dudley in private. When the Queen was told of the marriage she banished the Countess forever from court, effectively curtailing her social life. The couple's child, Robert, Lord Denbigh, died at the age of three, to the great grief of his parents and ending all prospects for the continuance of the House of Dudley. Lettice Knollys' union with Leicester was nevertheless a happy one, as was her third marriage to the much younger Sir Christopher Blount, whom she unexpectedly married in 1589 only six months after the Earl's death. She continued to style herself Lady Leicester.

    The Countess was left rich under Leicester's will; yet the discharge of his overwhelming debts diminished her wealth. In 1604–1605 she successfully defended her widow's rights in court when her possessions and her good name were threatened by the Earl's illegitimate son, Robert Dudley, who claimed that he was his father's legitimate heir, thus implicitly declaring her marriage bigamous. Lettice Knollys was always close to her large family circle. Helpless at the political eclipse of her eldest son, the second Earl of Essex, she lost both him and her third husband to the executioner in 1601. From the 1590s she lived chiefly in the Staffordshire countryside, where, in reasonably good health until the end, she died at age 91 on Christmas Day 1634.

    Family and upbringing

    Lettice Knollys was born on 8 November 1543 at Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire.[1] Her father, Sir Francis Knollys, was a Member of Parliament and acted as Master of the Horse to Prince Edward.[4] Her mother, Catherine Carey, was a daughter of Mary Boleyn, sister to Anne Boleyn. Thus Catherine was Elizabeth I's first cousin, and Lettice Knollys her first cousin once removed.[5] Lettice was the third of her parents' 16 children.[6]

    Sir Francis and his wife were Protestants.[6] In 1556 they went to Frankfurt in Germany to escape religious persecution under Queen Mary I, taking five of their children with them.[6] It is unknown whether Lettice was among them, and she may have passed the next few years in the household of Princess Elizabeth with whom the family had a close relationship since the mid-1540s.[1] They returned to England in January 1559, two months after Elizabeth I's succession.[1] Francis Knollys was appointed Vice-Chamberlain of the Royal Household; Lady Knollys became a senior Lady of the Bedchamber, and her daughter Lettice a Maid of the Privy Chamber.[6]

    First marriage and love affair

    Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, Lettice Knollys' first husband in 1572, aged 32
    In late 1560 Lettice Knollys married Walter Devereux, Viscount Hereford. The couple lived at the family seat of Chartley in Staffordshire.[1] Here the two eldest of their five children, the daughters Penelope and Dorothy, were born in 1563 and 1564, respectively.[7] Lettice Devereux returned to court on at least one occasion, in the summer of 1565, when the Spanish ambassador Diego Guzmâan de Silva described her as "one of the best-looking ladies of the court" and as a favourite with the Queen.[8] Pregnant with her first son, she flirted with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the Queen's favourite.[1] The Queen found out at once and succumbed to a fit of jealousy.[9] The Viscountess went back to Staffordshire where, in November 1565, she gave birth to Robert, later 2nd Earl of Essex. Two more sons followed: Walter, who was born in 1569, and Francis, who died soon after birth at an unknown date.[10]

    Walter Devereux was raised to the earldom of Essex in 1572.[1] In 1573 he successfully suggested to the Queen a project to plant Englishmen in Ulster.[1] In the autumn he went to Ireland, not to return for two years. During this time Lettice Devereux possibly engaged in a love-affair with the Earl of Leicester; her whereabouts in the following years are largely unknown, though.[1] In 1573 Leicester sent her a present of venison to Chartley from his seat Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, and she made hunting visits to Kenilworth in 1574 and 1576.[1] She was also present in July 1575 when Dudley entertained the Queen with a magnificent 19-days festival at the castle.[11] Elizabeth and the court (including the Earl of Leicester) then progressed to Chartley, where they were welcomed by the Countess of Essex.[12]

    When Walter Devereux returned to England in December 1575, the Spanish agent in London, Antonio de Guaras, reported:

    As the thing is publicly talked of in the streets, there can be no harm in my writing openly about the great enmity between the Earl of Leicester and the Earl of Essex, in consequence, it is said, of the fact that while Essex was in Ireland his wife had two children by Leicester. ... Great discord is expected in consequence.[13]

    These rumours were elaborated on years later in Leicester's Commonwealth, a Catholic underground libel against the Protestant Earl of Leicester satirically detailing his alleged enormities.[14] Here the Countess of Essex, after having a daughter by Leicester, kills a second child "cruelly and unnaturally" by abortion to prevent her homecoming husband from discovering her affair.[15] There is no evidence that any such children ever existed.[13]

    The Earl of Essex returned to Ireland in July 1576. At Dublin, he died of dysentery on 22 September during an epidemic, bemoaning the "frailness of women" in his last words.[16] Rumours of poison, administered by Leicester, immediately sprung up and continued notwithstanding an official investigation which concluded that Essex had died of natural causes.[17][18] His body was carried over to Carmarthen, where his widow attended the funeral.[1]

    The Countess' jointure, the lands left to her under her husband's will, was too little to live by and did not comprise Chartley, so that she and her children had to seek accommodation elsewhere.[1][19] She partly lived in her father's house at Rotherfield Greys, but also with friends; Leicester's Commonwealth claimed that Leicester had her move "up and down the country from house to house by privy ways".[1] She pleaded for an augmentation of her jointure with the authorities and, to reach a compromise with the late Earl's executors, threatened "by some froward advice" to claim her dower rights.[1] These would have amounted to one third of the Devereux estate.[20] After seven months of wrangling a more satisfactory settlement was reached, the Countess declaring to be "content to respect my children more than myself".[20] She equally—though unsuccessfully—tried to move the Queen to forgive Essex' debts to the Crown, which very much burdened the inheritance of her son, the young Earl of Essex.[21]

    Marriage to Leicester and banishment from court

    Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, 1575, aged about 43
    Lettice Knollys married Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester on 21 September 1578 at around seven o'clock in the morning. Only six other people were present at the Earl's country house at Wanstead, Essex; among these were the bride's father and brother, Francis and Richard Knollys, the bridegroom's brother, Ambrose, Earl of Warwick, and his two friends, the Earl of Pembroke and Lord North.[22] The officiating chaplain Humphrey Tyndall later remarked that the bride wore a "loose gown" (an informal morning dress[23]), which has triggered modern speculation that she was pregnant and that the ceremony happened under pressure from her father.[1][note 1] The marriage was, however, in planning between Leicester and his wedding guests for almost a year. While Lettice Devereux may well have been pregnant, there is no further indication as to this.[1][23] The marriage date coincided with the end of the customary two-years-mourning for a widow.[1]

    Leicester—a widower since 1560—had for many years been in hope of marrying Elizabeth herself, "for whose sake he had hitherto forborne marriage", as he confessed to Lord North.[22] He also feared Elizabeth's reaction and insisted that his marriage be kept a secret. It did not remain one for long, the French ambassador, Michel de Castelnau, reporting it only two months later.[1] When the Queen was told of the marriage the next year, she banished Lettice Dudley permanently from court; she never forgave her cousin, nor could she ever accept the marriage.[24][25] Even Lady Leicester's movements through London were resented by the Queen,[26] let alone summer visits to Kenilworth by husband and wife.[1]

    Dorothy and Penelope Devereux, the daughters of Lettice Knollys, c. 1580
    Lettice Dudley continued to style herself Countess of Essex for several years into her new marriage.[1] She lived very discreetly, often with her relatives at the Knollys family home in Oxfordshire. In February 1580 she was expecting the birth of a child there. For the birth of Leicester's heir, Robert, Lord Denbigh, in June 1581, she moved to Leicester House on the Strand. A further advanced pregnancy was reported in September 1582 by the French ambassador, yet the outcome is again unknown.[1] The next year Lettice Dudley became officially resident at Leicester House, and Elizabeth was once again furious with the Earl "about his marriage, for he opened the same more plainly than ever before".[1] A few weeks later Michel de Castelnau was a guest at Leicester's palatial mansion: "He especially invited me to dine with him and his wife, who has much influence over him and whom he introduces only to those to whom he wishes to show a particular mark of attention."[27]

    Robert Dudley had been close to the Knollys family since the early 1550s; several of Lettice's brothers had been in his service and his marriage only enhanced his relations with her siblings. To his four stepchildren he was a concerned and generous stepfather.[1][28] The Dudleys' domestic life is partly documented in the Earl's accounts;[1] Lettice Dudley financed her personal expenses and servants out of her revenue as Dowager Countess of Essex,[29] remaining largely excluded from society life.[27]

    The three-year-old Lord Denbigh died suddenly on 19 July 1584 at Wanstead. His death shattered the dynastical hopes of the House of Dudley.[23] Leicester stayed away from his court duties for a few weeks "to comfort my sorrowful wife for the loss of my little son, whom God has lately taken from us."[30] He also thanked Lord Burghley for—unsuccessfully—pleading with the Queen "on behalf of my poor wife. For truly my Lord, in all reason she is hardly dealt with."[31]

    In 1585 Leicester led an English expedition to assist the rebellious United Provinces against Spain. He incurred Elizabeth's wrath when he accepted the title of Governor-General in January 1586—what had especially kindled her fury was a tale that the Countess of Leicester was planning to follow her husband to the Netherlands "with such a train of ladies, and gentlewomen, and such rich coaches, litters, and side-saddles, as Her Majesty had none, and that there should be such a court of ladies, as should far pass Her Majesty's court here."[1][32] Thomas Dudley, who informed Leicester about these events, stressed that "this information" was "most false".[32] At this same time the Earl was giving his wife authority to handle certain land issues during his absence, implying they had no plans to meet in Holland.[1] William Davison, whom Leicester had sent to explain his doings to the Queen, described a visit to the Countess during the crisis: "I found her greatly troubled with tempestuous news she received from court, but somewhat comforted when she understood how I had proceeded with Her Majesty."[33][34]

    The Earl returned to England in December 1586, but was sent again to the Netherlands in the following June—to the grief of his wife, as the young Earl of Essex remarked in a letter.[1] Leicester eventually resigned his post in December 1587. The Countess was with him when he died unexpectedly, possibly of malaria, on 4 September 1588 at Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire; they had been on their way to Kenilworth and Buxton.[35] The Earl's funeral at Warwick in October 1588 was attended by his widow as well as numerous members of her family circle.[35][36]

    Blount and Essex

    Lettice Knollys, c.1595, by Nicholas Hilliard
    Lettice Dudley was left a wealthy widow. Leicester's will appointed her as executrix and her income from both her husbands' jointures amounted to ¹3,000 annually, to which came plate and movables worth ¹6,000. However, her jointure was to suffer greatly from paying off Leicester's debts, which at some ¹50,000 were so overwhelming that she was advised to decline the responsibility of dealing with her husband's financial legacy.[1]

    In March or April 1589 the Countess married Sir Christopher Blount,[37] a relatively poor Catholic soldier 12 years her junior, who had been the Earl of Leicester's Gentleman of the Horse and a trusted friend of his.[38][39] The marriage was a great surprise and the Earl of Essex complained that it was an "unhappy choice".[1][37] In the face of tittle-tattle that had reached even France,[37] Lady Leicester—she continued to be styled thus[40]—explained her choice with being a defenceless widow; like her marriage to Leicester, the union proved to be a "genuinely happy" one.[1][37] Some 60 years later it was claimed in a satirical poem that she had poisoned the Earl of Leicester on his deathbed, thereby forestalling her own murder at his hands, because he had found out about her supposed lover, Sir Christopher Blount.[41]

    In 1593 Lettice Knollys sold Leicester House to her son, after which it became known as Essex House. She moved to Drayton Bassett near Chartley in Staffordshire, her main residence for the rest of her life.[1] Still banished from court, she saw no point in returning to London without being reconciled to Elizabeth. In December 1597 she had heard from friends that "Her Majesty is very well prepared to hearken to terms of pacification", and was prepared to do "a winter journey" if her son thought "it be to any purpose".[1] "Otherwise a country life is fittest for disgraced persons", she commented.[42] She travelled to London, staying at Essex House from January till March 1598,[1] and seeking a reconciliation with Elizabeth. At last a short meeting was granted in which the Countess kissed the Queen and "the Queen kissed her", but nothing really changed.[42]

    Lettice's second son, Walter Devereux, died 1591 in France while on military duty,[43] and in subsequent years she was anxious for her elder son's safety. She addressed him "Sweet Robin", longing for his letters and helpless about his moodiness and depression.[44][45] After returning from his command in Ireland without licence, Essex was imprisoned in 1599; his mother came to London to intercede for him with the Queen.[1] She tried to send Elizabeth a present in form of a gown, which Elizabeth neither accepted nor refused.[46] Her efforts to get sight of her son made matters worse: "Mislike is taken that his mother and friends have been in a house that looks into York Garden where he uses to walk and have saluted each other out of a window."[46]

    During Essex' revolt, trial, and execution in February 1601, Lettice remained at Drayton Basset. She not only lost her son but her "best friend", as she called her third husband.[1][40] Sir Christopher Blount was executed on 18 March 1601, three weeks after the execution of his stepson, to whom he had been a friend and confidant for many years.[1][37]

    Litigation and old age

    Effigy of Lettice Knollys, Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick
    The executions and attainders of Essex and Blount led to a legal dispute over the Countess of Leicester's remaining property. In this context she claimed that Blount, in the process of paying off Leicester's debts, had squandered her jewels and much of her landed wealth.[1][37] The death of Elizabeth I in 1603 meant some form of rehabilitation for the Countess; the new monarch, James I, not only restored her grandson, the third Earl of Essex, to his father's title and estate, but quickly cancelled the rest of her debts to the Crown, almost ¹4,000.[1]

    Even more than his debts, the Earl of Leicester's will triggered litigation. He had intended his illegitimate son from his early 1570s relationship with Douglas Sheffield, the adolescent Robert Dudley, to inherit Kenilworth after the death of his brother, Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick. Some of the countess' jointure manors lay in the castle's vicinity, while at the same time they had been assigned to the younger Dudley's inheritance by the overseers of Leicester's will. After Warwick's death in February 1590, lengthy legal proceedings ensued over whether particular parts of Lady Leicester's jointure belonged to the Kenilworth estate or not.[47]

    In 1603 Dudley initiated moves to prove that he was the legitimate son of his parents and thus the heir to the earldoms of Warwick and Leicester. If successful, this claim would not only have implied that Lettice Knollys' union with Leicester had been bigamous, but would also have nullified her jointure rights.[47] Consequently, in February 1604, she filed a complaint against Dudley in the Star Chamber, accusing him of defamation. She was backed by Sir Robert Sidney, who considered himself the only legitimate heir of his uncles Leicester and Warwick. During the Star Chamber proceedings 56 former servants and friends of the Earl of Leicester testified that he had always regarded Dudley as his illegitimate son.[1] The other side was unable to cite clear evidence and the King's chief minister, Robert Cecil, thought it unwise to rake up the existing property settlement, so the outcome was in favour of Lady Leicester. All the evidence was impounded to preclude a resumption of the case.[1][47]

    Throughout her life, Lettice Knollys cared for her siblings, children, and grandchildren.[48][49][50] Until their respective deaths in 1607 and 1619, her daughters Penelope and Dorothy were her closest companions.[1] The young third Earl of Essex, also called Robert, shared much of his life with the old Countess at Chartley and Drayton Bassett.[1] Still walking a mile a day at nearly 90, she died in her chair in the morning of 25 December 1634, aged 91.[1][51] Widely mourned as a symbol of a by-gone age, she wished to be buried "at Warwick by my dear lord and husband the Earl of Leicester with whom I desire to be entombed".[1] Her request was respected and she came to rest in the Beauchamp Chapel of Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick, opposite the tomb of her son, young Lord Denbigh.[1]


    Lettice married Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex 1561-1562. Walter (son of Richard Devereux, Knight and Dorothy Hastings) was born 16 Sep 1541, Chartley Lodge, Stafford, England; died 22 Sep 1576. [Group Sheet]

    1. 25. Penelope Devereux  Descendancy chart to this point was born 0Jan 1563, Chartley Castle, Staffordshire, England; died 7 Jul 1607.
    2. 26. Dorothy Devereux, Countess of Northumberland  Descendancy chart to this point was born 0___ 1564, Chartley Lodge, Stafford, England; died 3 Aug 1619; was buried Petworth, Sussex, England.

  3. 23.  Henry Knollys Descendancy chart to this point (18.Catherine7, 14.Mary6, 8.Thomas5, 5.William4, 3.Geoffrey3, 2.Anne2, 1.Agnes1) died 0___ 1583.