Tag Archives: Countess of Salisbury

On this day in 1538 – Geoffrey Pole was arrested

On 29th August 1538 Geoffrey Pole was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Pole was the son of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury and therefore had a claim to the throne.

Geoffrey Pole was present at Anne Boleyn’s coronation but his loyalty, along with the rest of the family, lay with Katherine of Aragon and her daughter, Princess Mary. Pole had a private meeting with the Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys and Pole told Chapuys that if the Holy Roman Emperor was to invade England to avenge the wrongs that had been done to his aunt, Katherine, then the English people would support him.

The conversation, which was supposed to be private, reached King Henry VIII’s ears and Pole was instantly arrested. He would stay in the Tower of London for the next two months until in October when he was called for interrogation. Pole was questioned about conversations and letters that had been sent and received to his brother, Cardinal Pole, from his family. These letters were not approved by the King or Council and so suspicion fell on the Pole family.

Pole’s wife, Constance, was also questioned about Pole’s activity but she was not imprisoned and so attempted to contact Pole’s mother and brother, Lord Montagu to warn them that Geoffrey was facing the rack and that they could be implicated. By the time word reached his family Geoffrey had attempted suicide and had caused some injury to himself.

After further interrogation Pole broke and gave all the evidence the King would need against the Pole family. Henry had Lord Montagu and Henry Courtenay arrested and imprisoned in the Tower on 4th November 1538.

Geoffrey along with his brother and Henry Courtenay were tried, they entered a plea of guilty and was originally condemned to death until he was pardoned on 4th January 1539. Thomas Cromwell wrote that he had received the pardon because he was so ill he was already as good as dead.

A_Torture_RackA typical torture rack

On this day in 1570 – Lady Ursula Pole died

Ursula Pole was born in 1504 and was the only daughter of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury and Sir Richard Pole. Making Ursula the granddaughter of the Duke of Clarence and therefore had a claim to the English throne. Sir Richard Pole died when Ursula was only one year old. Ursula had four older brothers all of whom acquired positions within King Henry VIII’s court. Ursula grew up at the family home at Warblington Castle, Hampshire whilst her mother acted as Royal Governess to the Princess Mary.

Lady Ursula married Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford on 16th February 1518 when she was 15 years old and he was 18. The marriage was suggested by Cardinal Wolsey and arranged by Edward Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham. Ursula’s dowry was 3000 marks which would be increased by a further thousand if her mother was able to reclaim some of her family lands from King Henry VIII. Instead, the Countess of Salisbury gave the couple land in Somerset and Devon that was worth 700 marks. The Duke of Buckingham also ensured that lands worth £500 were set aside for Ursula in case she was widowed. The Duke also paid for the wedding with the exception of Ursula’s clothes which her mother paid for.

Due to the newlyweds ages the couple went to live within the household of the Duke of Buckingham, who acted as their guardians. Ursula was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in France, in 1520, she was four months pregnant and in November 1520 Ursula gave birth to the couple’s first child.

Just a year later in 1521 Ursula’s father in law was arrested on charges of treason and beheaded. After his death an Act of Attainder was passed and his titles and lands were forfeited to the King, leaving Ursula and her husband very little to live on. It was not until 1547 when King Edward VI created her husband, Henry, the 1st Baron Stafford meaning that Ursula was now a Baroness.

The couple had 14 children in total, seven sons and seven daughters. Their eldest daughter Dorothy would go on to serve Queen Elizabeth I as Mistress of the Robes. Ursula had seen many of her family members lose their lives at the hands of the royal executioner from her mother and brother to her son Thomas was executed for treason for leading an unsuccessful uprising against Queen Mary I in 1557.

Having lost her husband in 1563 Ursula died on 12th August 1570, aged 66 her final resting place is unknown.

Ursula PoleLady Ursula Pole