Category Archives: People of the court

On this day in 1574 – Sir Robert Dudley was born

Sir Robert Dudley was born on 7th August 1574 and was the illegitimate son of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester and Lady Douglas Sheffield. He grew up in his father’s household and was educated at Christ Church, Oxford.

At the age of 14, in 1588, as the Spanish Armada approached England the younger Robert Dudley joined his father at Tilbury as he commanded the army. The elder Dudley would die just weeks later and left his illegitimate son a large inheritance which included Kenilworth castle and estates and upon the death of his uncle the lordships of Denbigh and Chirk.

In 1591 Dudley was contracted to marry Frances Vavasour with the consent of the Queen, however, the stipulation was that Dudley was to wait until he was slightly older as he was still 17. In the same year Frances Vavasour secretly married another man and the Queen banished her from court. Instead Dudley went on to marry Margaret Cavendish secretly and as a result also found himself banished from court, this banishment only lasted a few days before Elizabeth allowed him back to court. Margaret died soon after their marriage.

Dudley became interested in exploration and in 1594 he assembled a fleet of ships led by his galleon the Beare. Dudley intended to head towards the Spanish who were in the Atlantic and disturb them, the Queen disapproved of the plan due to Dudley’s inexperience and that the fleet was worth a lot of money eventually she agreed to Dudley being a general and sailing the Guiana instead. Dudley recruited 275 sailors along with captains Thomas Jobson and Benjamin Wood. The fleet set sail on 6th November 1594 but were delayed by storms that divided the fleet. They eventually regrouped in the Canary Islands. By December they captured two Spanish ships and incorporated them into the English fleet up until this point it looked as if the expedition would be a failure. From Tenerife the fleet sailed towards Cabo Blanco and then on towards Trinidad where Dudley discovered an island that he claimed in the name of the Queen and called Dudleiana. The fleet recruited a Spanish speaking Indian to guide then in search of Gold but the guide deserted them and the fleet had to find their own way back to the meeting point. In March 1595 Dudley led the fleet north towards Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico before sailing towards Bermuda. With the fleet low on provisions and ammunition as well as no sign of any Spanish Dudley began leading the fleet home to England. It was travelling to England that they engaged in a two day battle with a Spanish ship, although they won the battle they did not capture the ship and landed back in Cornwall in May 1595.

The following year, in 1596, Dudley joined Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, in an expedition against Cadiz where he was knighted for his conduct during the Capture of Cadiz.

Also in 1596 Dudley married Alice Leigh and the couple went on to have seven daughters.

In 1603 Dudley was informed by a traveller, Thomas Drury, that his parents had secretly married and that Dudley was the legitimate son of his father. This began a case that appeared in front of the Star Chamber in 1604 to legitimise his claims and allow himself to be called the Earl of Leicester and Earl of Warwick. Over 90 witnesses appeared on behalf of Dudley who even had his own mother write that the marriage happened although she could not remember the details including the date or who conducted the ceremony. On the other side of the argument Lettice Knollys, Robert Dudley’s widow called 57 witnesses to deny the claims that were being put forward. As a result the Star Chamber declared that the marriage never happened and Dudley was not only illegitimate but deceived by Thomas Drury.

In 1605 Dudley left his wife and fled England with Elizabeth Southwell, his mistress and cousin after declaring that they had converted to Roman Catholicism. They found themselves in Lyon in 1606 where after receiving a papal dispensation married. The newlyweds headed to Florence where they would set up their new life together. After arriving in Florence, Dudley began calling himself the Earl of Leicester and the Earl of Warwick, titles that were denied to him by the Star Chamber. The couple would go on to have 13 children together, many of whom married into Italian families.

Dudley became a naval advisor to Ferdinand I, Grand Duke of Tuscany and set about designing and building war ships for the Tuscan navy.

In 1607 King James I ordered Dudley to come back to England and provide for his estranged wife and family, the King even revoked Dudley’s travel permit to force him to return, however, Dudley refused and remained on the continent. As a result the King confiscated Dudley’s estates and declared him an outlaw. Although the King had outlawed him, his son the Prince of Wales, remained in touch with Dudley and negotiated the sale of Kenilworth Castle. In 1611 a price of £14,500 was agreed upon with Dudley keeping the position of constable of the castle, the young Prince died the year later and Dudley had only received £3000 of the agreed fee. Kenilworth Castle became the property of the new Prince of Wales, Charles. Charles only paid £4000 for the property after he passed an Act of Parliament in 1621 that allowed Dudley’s estranged wife to negotiate the sale of the property.

In 1644 King Charles I created Dudley’s deserted wife a Duchess in her own right and recognised Dudley’s claims to legitimacy. Although he was now legitimate the King did not grant Dudley the titles or estates that belonged to his father.

Robert Dudley died on 6th September 1649 in Villa Rinieri and was buried at San Pancrazio in Florence. Dudley left his entire estate to Ferdinand II de’Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Robert Dudley jrA portrait believed to be Sir Robert Dudley

On this day in 1503 – Sir Reynold Bray died

Sir Reynold Bray was born in Worcester in 1440 and was educated at the Royal Grammar School within the city. Bray’s early life is relatively unknown he married Katherine Hussey around 1475 and the couple had no children.

In 1485 at the coronation of King Henry VII he was created a Knight of the Bath and in later years a Knight of the Garter. Bray was also appointed as Treasurer and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Bray’s main role within the new government was to restructure the King’s finances. Bray attempted to continue what King Edward IV had started which was moving away from a system that collected royal revenues through the Exchequer and instead use the Chamber of the Household system as a way to collect money. Bray was essentially Henry VII’s equivalent to a Prime Minster and served Henry in administrative matters, including the making of his will.

Alongside his role in Henry’s government Bray also designed St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, Great Malvern Priory and the Lady Chapel of Henry VII in Westminster Abbey.

Bray died on 5th August 1503 and was buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. In his will Bray asked for to be buried in the Bray Chantry Chapel within the Chapel but also left instructions on how to complete the Nave;

I will that my executors immediately after my decease endeavour themselves with all diligence, with my goods and the issues and profits of my lands and tenements by them to be received and had, to make and perform, and cause to be made and performed, the work of the new works of the body of the church of the College of Our Lady and St George within the Castle of Windsor; and the same work by them wholly to be performed and finished according and after the form and extent of the foundation thereof, as well in stone work, timber ,lead, iron, glass and all other things necessary and requisite for the utter performance of the same.”

Reynold Bray willPart of Sir Reynold Bray’s will

On this day in 1592 – William Cecil died

William Cecil was born on 13th September 1520 in Bourne, Lincolnshire to Richard Cecil and his wife Jane Heckington. Cecil was educated at The King’s School, Grantham and then later Stamford School. In May 1535 at the age of 14 Cecil studied at St John’s College, Cambridge where he met Roger Ascham and John Cheke. In 1541 Cecil’s father transferred him to Grey’s Inn before he was able to complete his degree. It was during this time that Cecil spontaneously married Mary Cheke and they had a son, Thomas, a year later. However, the marriage ended in tragedy in February 1543 when Mary Cheke died. Cecil found love again and on 21st December 1546 Cecil married Mildred Cooke.

Cecil began his career in the service of the Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of the young King Edward VI. Cecil was part of Somerset’s Pinkie campaign in 1547 as part of the Rough Wooing wars. Cecil was also one of two judges of the Marshalsea and wrote an account of the campaign along with William Patten, the other judge.

It is believed that Cecil also sat in Parliament in 1543 until 1547 when he was elected for Stamford. In 1548 Cecil is described as the Lord Protector’s Master of Requests, a role that meant that he was a registrar of the court that dealt with the complaints of poor men, it was an illegal set up at Somerset House but was probably instigated by Hugh Latimer. At the same time he was the Lord Protector’s private secretary. At the fall of the Lord Protector, Cecil found himself in the Tower of London on 10th October 1549. Within three months though Cecil had allied himself with the Duke of Northumberland and secured his release from the Tower.

On 5th September 1550 Cecil was appointed as one of King Edward’s VI two Secretaries of State and the following April he became the Chancellor of the Order of the Garter. As it was becoming clear that the young King was dying his Council turned their attention to who would succeed Edward. It was clear that they did not wish to follow King Henry VIII’s wishes and place Mary on the throne, allowing the country to return to Catholicism. Therefore the Council put their support behind Lady Jane Grey, at first Cecil resisted the idea and even wrote to his wife; ‘Seeing great perils threatened upon us by the likeness of the time, I do make choice to avoid the perils of God’s displeasure.’ He eventually signed but when Mary did eventually take the throne he pretended that he had only signed it as a witness and not as someone who supported placing Lady Jane Grey on the throne.

During Mary’s reign Cecil was spared from persecution as he not only conformed to the Catholic ways but he played no part in the misery that Mary suffered during her childhood after her parents divorced. Mary also sent Cecil to meet Cardinal Pole upon his return to England in 1554.

Cecil was elected to Parliament for Lincolnshire in 1553, 1555 and 1559 and for Northamptonshire in 1563. In January 1561 Cecil succeeded Sir Thomas Parry into the office of Master of the Court of Wards and Liveries, this was a role that saw him help young boys from wealthy families, who had lost their fathers, into education and help raise them into the roles that they were born into. These young boys included Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton and Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland.

Upon Queen Mary’s death and the ascension of Elizabeth, Cecil who had been out of favour made his way to Hatfield House and was one of the first visitors to the new Queen. When the Privy Council arrived to present themselves to their new monarch they found that Cecil and the Queen were already making appointments including Cecil’s new role as Secretary of State. This would be the starting point of Cecil’s career during the reign of Elizabeth as he would go on to lead Elizabeth’s Privy Council, set up an established intelligence service and controlled the finances of the crown.

In February 1559 Cecil was elected as Chancellor of Cambridge University succeeding Cardinal Pole he was also granted an M.A in 1564 when Queen Elizabeth visited the University. Cecil was also awarded an M.A at Oxford University in 1566 and he later went on to be the first Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin between 1592 and 1598.

On 25th February 1571 Cecil was given the title of Baron Burghley by Queen Elizabeth, with his new title he also continued in the role of Secretary of State and was effectively running the country on behalf of the Queen. However, in private Cecil attacked the Queen and in particularly in 1572 he criticised the Queen’s handling of Mary Queen of Scots who was gathering a large amount of support from the Catholics, which was a dangerous situation as Elizabeth had been excommunicated by the Pope just two years earlier.

Cecil had two magnificent homes during his lifetime. Burghley House was modelled on Richmond Palace and was built between 1555 and 1587 and Theobalds House was situated just north of London and was built between 1564 and 1585, the Queen visited Theobalds eight times within 24 years.

Burghley HouseBurghley House

In 1572 Cecil was appointed to the role of Lord High Treasurer after the death of Lord Winchester. He was recommended to the role by Robert Dudley who had turned the offer down. Dudley stated that Cecil was the better man for the job as he had a stronger learning and knowledge than Dudley. Cecil’s position within the royal court was strengthening with every new position.

Cecil died on 4th August 1592 at his London home, Cecil House, it is believed that he died following either a stroke or a heart attack, when he fell ill it is believed that the Queen even attempted to held nurse him back to help. He was buried in St Martin’s Church, Stamford near Burghley House. His son, Robert, succeeded his father in many of his positions and became the Queen’s principal advisor and later aided the transition from Queen Elizabeth to King James.

William Cecil NPGWilliam Cecil, Lord Burghley

On this day in 1550 – Thomas Wriothesley died

Thomas Wriothesley was born 21st December 1505 in London to William Wriothesley and Agnes Drayton. Thomas was the eldest of four and had two younger sisters, Elizabeth and Anne and a younger brother, Edward.

Wriothesley received his education at St Paul’s School, London before going to Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1522 to study civil law although he did not complete his degree instead at the age of 19 he entered into the service of Thomas Cromwell and began a life at court. Within a few short years Wriothesley was appointed joint clerk of the signet, a position under Henry’s VIII’s secretary, Stephen Gardiner. A position he would hold for the next decade whilst also working for Cromwell.

Wriothesley married Jane Cheney, niece of Stephen Gardiner. They would go on to have eight children in total, three sons and five daughters. Two of their sons died at a young age leaving Henry Wriothesley as the heir to family estates.

His loyalty to Cromwell was rewarded during the dissolution of the monasteries when he was granted land between Southampton and Winchester. Henry also appointed Wriothesley as his ambassador in Brussels until 1540 when he was made one of the King’s principal secretaries alongside Sir Ralph Sadler. Also in 1540 Wriothesley was knighted and despite the fact his patron and master, Thomas Cromwell, had been arrested and later executed he continued to grow in the King’s favour and was created Baron Wriothesley in 1544.

In 1544 after having acted as Lord Privy Seal for a few months he was appointed as Lord Chancellor in 1544 and within his first two years took part in the torture of Anne Askew, who had been accused of heresy. Kingston, who was originally operating the rack refused to take part any further and Wriothesley, stepped in and operated the rack in the hope that Anne would talk; instead he turned the rack so much that her shoulders and hips were pulled from their sockets.

When King Henry VIII died on 28th January 1547 Wriothesley was one of the executors of the King’s will and on 16th February 1547 was created the Earl of Southampton at the wishes of the late King. After the King’s death and the creation of a new council for the young King Wriothesley appointed four people to help him in his duties and the new Lord Protector, Edward Seymour, used this to his advantage and Wriothesley was relieved of his duty in March 1547 as well as being excluded from the Privy Council.

In Wriothesley’s will that was created just days before his death he left his collar of garters to King Edward VI and a cup each to Mary and Elizabeth. He also provided for his wife and children before remembering his friends and family.

Wriothesley died on 30th July 1550 at Lincoln House in Holborn and was buried in St Andrew’s Church, Holborn before he was later moved to Titchfield. His funeral was presided over by Bishop Hooper of Gloucester.

Thomas_Wriothesley,_1st_Earl_of_Southampton_by_Hans_Holbein_the_YoungerThomas Wriothesley by Hans Holbein the Younger

On this day in 1612 – Edward Seymour died

Edward Seymour was born on 21st September 1561 in the Tower of London to Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford and Lady Catherine Grey, sister to Lady Jane Grey. The marriage of Seymour’s parents was questionable as they kept their marriage a secret until Catherine became pregnant. A law had been passed stating that as Catherine was a potential claimant to the English throne she was unable to marry without Queen Elizabeth’s consent. Therefore when it was discovered the Earl of Hertford and Catherine had married they were taken to the Tower of London and questioned regarding the marriage. As neither could remember the date of their wedding and the priest could not be located their son was declared illegitimate and eventually she was separated from her husband and children until her death.

Seymour married Honora Rogers at some point during 1582 and they would go on to have six children; Edward, William, Francis, Honora, Anne and Mary. William Seymour would later go on to secretly marry his cousin Arbella Stuart and be imprisoned in the Tower of London like his grandparents were.

As the son of Lady Catherine Grey, Edward Seymour had a strong claim to the throne of England through Mary Tudor, King Henry VIII’s younger sister. However, Elizabeth chose to select King James VI of Scotland as her successor who had a claim through Margaret Tudor, Henry’s eldest sister. It is believed that James was chosen over Edward due to his illegitimacy.

Seymour died on 13th July 1612 at Great Bedwyn and was buried at Bedwyn Magna before being reinterred at Salisbury Cathedral.

Catherine Grey and Edward Seymour

An infant Edward Seymour and his mother, Lady Catherine Grey

On this day in 1607 – Penelope Rich died

Penelope Devereux was born in January 1563 at Chartley Castle, Staffordshire to Walter Deverux and Lettice Knollys, the granddaughter of Mary Boleyn. In 1572 when Penelope was nine, her father was created Earl of Essex by Queen Elizabeth I.

Just a couple of years later, in 1575, saw the Queen visit Lady Essex as she returned from her stay at Kenilworth where she was entertained by Robert Dudley. The Queen was escorted by Sir Philip Sidney who met the 14 year old Penelope before her father died. The Earl of Essex died within a year of this visit and it is believed that he sent word to Sidney that upon his death he wished for Sidney to marry Penelope. With the death of her father Penelope and two of her siblings were sent to Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, who would now act as their guardian.

However, the match was broken two years later when Penelope’s mother married Robert Dudley, the Queen’s favourite, without permission of the Queen. This led to the family being banished from court and with it Penelope’s marriage agreement.

In January 1581, Penelope travelled to court with the Countess of Huntingdon and just two months later a new marriage match was arranged for her with Robert Rich, 3rd Baron Rich. Despite Penelope’s protests the couple were married and went on to have five children.

Although Penelope’s original marriage betrothal with Sir Philip Sidney never transpired into marriage it is widely believed that Penelope was the inspiration behind Sidney’s sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella. Penelope was considered to be one of the beauties of the Elizabethan court with gold hair and dark eyes, not too dissimilar to Elizabeth considering they were distant cousins. Sidney was only the first to use Penelope as a muse as in 1594 an anonymous poem was published, later to be attributed to Richard Barnfield, entitled The Affectionate Shepherd was dedicated to her and also the future King James I was sent a portrait that had been painted by the Queen’s miniaturist, Nicholas Hilliard.

By 1595 Penelope had begun an affair with Charles Blount, Baron Mountjoy as she had become so unhappy in her marriage to Lord Rich.

In the Essex rebellion of 1601 Penelope was caught up in her brother’s plot with Rich denouncing her as a traitor along with Mountjoy and their children. Despite this the Queen did not take action against either and Penelope was free to have a public relationship with Mountjoy.

Upon the accession of King James I, Penelope was appointed as one of the ladies to escort Anne of Denmark as she entered London in 1603 and later served as Lady of the Bedchamber.

In 1605 Rich finally applied for a divorce to which Penelope publicly admitted adultery with Mountjoy. She had hoped that with the divorce she would be granted permission to marry Mountjoy and legitimise their children. Despite having no permission the couple went ahead and married in a private ceremony held by William Laud on 26th December 1605 at Wanstead House, London. They would be banished from court for this defiance of the King’s wishes.

Mountjoy would die just a few months later; his will would be contested after many arguments regarding his new wife and their children. Penelope was brought before the Star Chamber on charges of fraud and accusations of adultery. The charges were refuted but before a settlement could be reached on 7th July 1607 Penelope died of unknown causes and was buried in an unmarked grave in a London church.

250px-Nicholas_Hilliard_called_Penelope_Lady_RichPenelope Rich painted by Nicholas Hilliard

On this day in 1578 – William Bradbridge died

William Bradbridge was born in London in 1501, very little is known about his early life. On 15th July 1528 he was awarded his B.A. at Magdalen College, Oxford with his M.A. following on 6th June 1532 and finally his B.D. on 17th June 1539.

Raised as a Protestant, in 1555 Bradbridge was appointed prebendary of Lyme and Holstock Sarum, he was also granted the post of canon of Chichester in 1561 a dispensation was issued regarding a term of residence at Salisbury.

On 28th April 1562 Bradbridge was appointed to chancellor of Chichester and he was able to hold the chancellorship with his bishopric. On Low Sunday 1563 he preached the annual Spittal sermon and in the same June he was elected to dean of Salisbury via letters from Queen Elizabeth I.

On 1st March 1571 Bradbridge was elected to the bishop of Exeter. After a declaration regarding the Queen’s supremacy the temporalities of the see were restored to Bradbridge two weeks later on 14th March. He was officially consecrated at Lambeth on 18th March by Archbishop Matthew Parker and Bishops Robert Horne and Nicholas Bullingham. Alongside being made bishop he was also granted two benefices in commendam, in Newton Ferrers, Devon and Lezante, Cornwall. It was not as promising as he would hope and would leave him financially ruined. It was documented

He was far indebted to the Queen’s Majesty for the monies received of the clergy for tenths and subsidies, so that immediately upon his death, all his goods were seized for her use”

In 1572 Bradbridge was given the Pentateuch to translate for the new Bishop’s Bible. Despite holding a high position within the church Bradbridge he still had trouble with Catholics and dissenters. In 1578 Bradbridge asked Lord Burghley if he could return to Salisbury following trouble in his diocese.

Bradbridge died suddenly on 27th June 1578, aged 77, at his home in Newton Ferrers and was buried in Exeter Cathedral.

Upon his death it was noted that;

he died £1400 in debt to Queen Elizabeth, and had not wherewith to bury him”

Exeter CathedralExeter Cathedral

On this day in 1586 – Henry Cheke died

Henry Cheke was born in 1548 and was the eldest son of Sir John Cheke and his wife Mary. Cheke was tutored at an early age by his father’s friend, Peter Osborne and later sent to King’s College, Cambridge. However, Cheke’s father died when he was just nine years old and although Cheke inherited his father’s land that were worth two hundred marks a year he also inherited debts that totalled a thousand marks.

As a minor Cheke’s wardship was likely to have been granted to Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, therefore Cheke and Cecil corresponded often with Cheke asking for help or thanking him for various things.

In 1568 Cheke was granted his M.A. from Cambridge at just the age of 20 although Cheke was studious some believed that Cecil had a hand in it being granted early. With his M.A. and Cecil’s influence Cheke attended the 1572 Parliament for Bedford. Just two years later he would be seeking Cecil’s help again, this time in the form of employment.

In 1569 Cheke married Frances Radcliff and although we know for definite they had their son, Thomas, the total amount of children the couple had is unknown, although many believe they had three sons and two daughters

In July 1576 Cheke received a clerkship from the Privy Council and not long after that Cheke set sail for the continent, in particular France and Italy. During his travels Cheke translated a play about the ‘devilish devices of the popish religion’ and dedicated it to Lady Cheney of Toddington.

Upon his return back to England on 3rd January 1578 Cheke was placed on the roster of Privy Council clerks and would be required for six months of the next year; January, February, July, August, September and October. In August of the same year Cheke was sent to York to take up the role of secretary to the council in the north. He resided at the council in a place called ‘The Manor’

With his new position within the council in the north Cheke retained his position in Parliament this time for Boroughbridge and served on a committee that discussed the fraudulent conveyances bill on 15th February 1585.

Cheke became involved in an argument with the Archbishop of York when two council servants were arrested. The Archbishop complained that Cheke had attempted to hinder his proceedings whereas Cheke stated that he and other members of the council commissioners had simply refused to comply with the demands of the Archbishop who had demanded to see depositions and examine those who had not been listed in the Archbishops commission.

Cheke died on 23rd June 1586, most likely at ‘The Manor’ and as buried in York Minister. Although the cause of his death is not officially known it is widely believed that he died after breaking his neck after falling down some stairs. This allegedly occurred after he had openly mocked the Catholic martyr, Francis Ingleby. However, the two incidents were never proven to be linked.York MinsterYork Minster, burial of Henry Cheke

On this day in 1585 – Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland died.

Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland was born in 1532 at Newburn Manor, he was the second son of Sir Thomas Percy and his wife Eleanor Harbottle. Percy and his brother, Thomas, were brought up in Northumberland and therefore were close to the Scottish borders and were likely to have witnessed battles between the English and Scottish.

During the reign of Queen Mary I Henry Percy was appointed governor of Tynemouth Castle, where in his later life Percy’s wife would give birth to their son, also Henry, here in 1564. Percy was also a Member of Parliament for Morpeth in 1554, knighted in 1557 and was also appointed as deputy warden of the east and middle marches.

With the accession of Queen Elizabeth I Percy was kept in his chief offices with the excpetion of having to transfer his governship of Tynemouth Castle in order to become captain of Norham Castle. However, he was reappointed back to Tynemouth in 1561.

With war against Scotland breaking out in 1560 Percy was given command of a body of light horse and led a troop in battle. With the French defeat at Leith, the commander of the French army D’Oyzelle asked if he could surrender his sword to Percy and not the commander-in-chief, Lord Grey.

Percy was commissioned in 1561 along with the Thomas Young, Archbishop of York, to administer the Oath of Supremacy to the clergy in the north. Percy’s position in the north was strengthened at the end of the year when he married Catherine Neville, daughter and co-heiress of John Neville, 4th Baron Latimer, they went on to have 11 children. After his marriage he was appointed Sheriff of Northumberland in 1562.

In late 1569 the Rising of the North occurred in which Henry Percy’s elder brother, Thomas was a chief leader. Henry Percy however, remained loyal to the Queen and the government and he joined the royal army in the fight against the rebels. With his brother captured and imprisoned in Scotland Percy wrote to him to urge him to confess his guilt and appeal to the Queen’s mercy. Instead Thomas Percy was executed in York in 1572. Henry Percy was awarded the title of Earl of Northumberland.

However, Percy was not as loyal as he seemed. On 15th November 1571 he was arrested and sent to the Tower of London. He had been found communicating with John Lesley, bishop of Ross, offering his help to free Mary, Queen of Scots from Tutbury. On 23rd February 1572 Percy wrote to the Queen begging to be released, however, he was left in the Tower for the next 18 months until he was brought to trial charged with treason. Once again begging the Queen’s mercy he was fined 5000 marks and ordered to remain under house arrest at his home at Petworth. It wasn’t until 12th July 1573 when he was summoned to London and given his freedom.

On 8th February 1576 he took his seat in the House of Lords for the first time and he was appointed as one of the royal commissioners to prorogue parliament in November.

In 1582, Percy was once again brought into the plots surrounding Mary, Queen of Scots when he met with M.de Bex, a French agent, and looked at Throckmorton’s plot to free the Scottish Queen. He was once again arrested along with Lord Henry Howard and Francis Throckmorton. Percy was sent to the Tower again, unlike his previous stay he was only here for a few weeks and was not charged although he was stripped of his governship of Tynemouth Castle. Once released Percy was still keen to release Mary and the following September he met Charles Paget and his brother at his home, Petworth to discuss the matter fully. Percy offered advice as to where the French troops could land to launch their rescue mission. One of Percy’s aides was also present at this meeting, William Shelley. Shelley was arrested and tortured and confessed all about Percy’s meeting but claimed that it was Percy’s mission to not only rescue Mary but to also extort from the Queen full toleration towards Roman Catholics.

Henry Percy found himself, for a third time, in the Tower of London where he continued to protest his innocence and beg for the Queen’s mercy. On 20th June 1585 six months after being imprisoned Percy was found dead in his cell. He had been shot through the heart, it was declared.

Percy’s death has always been suspicious the day before his death he was placed under the care of a new warden by the Lieutenant of the Tower on orders of Sir Christopher Hatton. Rumours spread that Hatton was responsible for Percy’s death and many years later Sir Walter Raleigh wrote to Sir Robert Cecil referring the Hatton’s guilt. Percy was buried in the church of St. Peter ad Vincula within the grounds of the Tower of London.

Interior of St Peter ad VinculaThe interior of St. Peter ad Vincula

On this day in 1592 – Francis Wyndham died

Francis Wyndham was the second son of Sir Edmund Wyndham and was raised in Norwich. Not much is known about Wyndham’s early life.

Wyndham was active within the city of Norwich and his relationship with the city dates back to 1563 when he was retained as their counsel to the coroporation at an annual rate of 20s and in September 1570 he was appointed steward of Norwich and his rate doubled.

Most information that is recorded about Wyndham relates to his legal career. Wyndham studied at the Lincoln Inn and held all the major offices within the Inn and in 1573 he was the keeper of the Black Book which held the records for each year.

In 1575 Wyndham was made recorder of the city for Norwich, a post he would hold for the next five years when he was succeeded by Edmund Flowerdew, who was holding the post of steward after Wyndham was promoted to recorder.

Wyndham began appearing in records at the start of his career in 1576 it was noted in the House of Commons that he was serving on committees that concerned the alehouses (17th February), dilapidations (24th February), grants by the dean and chapter of Norwich (2nd March) and taking away the benefit of clergy from rapists (7th March). Wyndham’s name continued to appear on commissions and documents in 1575 he served as arbitrator in a controversy between Yarmouth and the Cinque Ports.

In 1579 Wyndham received promotion and was selected to succeed Sir Roger Manwood as justice of the common pleas. He beat of three other contenders to the post.

At some point before 1584 Wyndham was made a judge and as a result he was a receiver of petitions in the Lords for the Parliaments of 1584, 1586 and 1589. Now he was a judge he officiated at two high profile trials where the defendants were charged with treason, John Somerville, 1583, and William Parry in 1585. Wyndham was also chosen to be consulted over the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, although he did not preside over her trial.

There is one record that shows that Wyndham ran into trouble at court. Wyndham opposed the use by the bishops’ courts of examination under the ex officio oath and openly spoke out against this procedure this angered many. At the same time, in November 1587 with the threat of invasion from Spain looming over England, Wyndham wrote to his brother in law, Nathaniel Bacon, regarding the inadequate preparations in East Anglia regarding an invasion by the Duke of Parma’s army. The following September Wyndham wrote to Lord Burghley himself asking for an inquiry into the way in which money was raised for the defence of Norfolk had been spent. Wyndham said that the people of Norfolk would be happy to pay their subsidy assessment if they were satisfied how their money was spent. Wyndham also called for those who handle the money should not be in charge of the inquiry, this would include Lord Hunsdon the Lord Chamberlain and Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk.

Lord Hunsdon finally got his chance to raise his disapproval of Wyndham at a Privy Council meeting months later when judges were summoned to Hunsdon’s home and ordered to stand against anyone connected with the Martin Marprelate tracts. Due to his stance against the ex officio oath Wyndham was treated with special censure and was told by Hunsdon that his belief had ‘bred a scruple to all the bishops in England that they doubt how to proceed’. With Lord Burghley absent due to illness after the official meeting was over Hunsdon used this as his chance to berate Wyndham accusing him of attempting to discountenance him in his lietenancy and started to raise causes of their dispute. When the announcement was made for dinner Lord Hunsdon declared that he had at least 20 more charges to raise with him. Their disputes continued into 1591 when the Privy Council eventually intervened to restore a good relationship between the two.

Wyndham was employed by his relatives and other noble families to negotiate the purchases of various properties many of which were lands that were granted out during the dissolution of the monasteries.

Wyndham died on 18th June 1592. He left his widow his Norfolk properties and ensured a £400 debt was paid to his brother Dr Thomas Wyndham after the sale of his Norwich home. A monument was set up with an effigy in judge’s robes in St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich.

Francis Wyndham monumentFrancis Wyndham monument.