Tag Archives: Elizabeth I

On this day in 1559 – Sir Thomas Cawarden died

Thomas Cawarden was the son of William Cawarden, his birth is unrecorded but in 1528 he was noted as being an apprentice to Owen Hawkins, a mercer based in London. In 1542 Cawarden married, the only thing known about his wife is that her first name was Elizabeth, the couple had no known children.

In 1540 Cawarden was appointed Keeper of Bletchingley manor. In the same year as marrying Elizabeth, Cawarden was also elected as a Member of Parliament for Bletchingley a position he would hold again in 1547. Bletchingley was so small it did not even hold the status of town.

In 1544 Cawarden received a patent as Master of Revels and Tents, a position that was relatively minor until King Henry VIII when the role became important. Cawarden was the first to become head of an independent office and was also knighted in the same year at Boulogne. Soon after Cawarden was appointed the office and stores were moved to a dissolved Dominican monastery at Blackfriars. As part of his position he was responsible for overseeing royal festivities, progresses and military expeditions.

list of items to be moved to BlackfriarsAn itemised list detailed what was required to be moved to the new Master of the Revels office at Blackfriars

In 1547 Cawarden and his office provided hales, roundhouses and a kitchen tent for a military expedition to Scotland during the war of the Rough Wooing. Upon the return home Cawarden paid for the tents to be dried and put away after they were soaked during travel.

During the reign of Queen Mary I she ordered officers to collect arms and armour from Cawarden’s home in order to protect to city from Wyatt’s rebellion. Also during Mary’s reign Cawarden was implicated in a plot to replace Mary with Elizabeth. Evidence given implicated Cawarden and others in which he was allegedly require to intercept any treasure sent by Queen Mary to her husband in Spain. In May 1556 Cawarden was given a bond ordering him to remain in his home at Blackfriars, just two months later the order was rescinded.

His patent also allowed Cawarden to keep 40 armed and liveried servants at Bletchingley Castle, during his time in office Cawarden lived at Loseley Park near Guildford, which is where his official papers were preserved.

Many honours came to Cawarden in his life including in 1543 he was appointed as Keeper of the house and gardens of Nonsuch Palace until 1556, in 1547 Cawarden was appointed as High Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex, in 1550 as Keeper of Hampton Court and in 1558 he was the joint Lieutenant of the Tower of London, sharing the position with Sir Edward Warner. Between 1547 and 1559 he was elected as knight of the shire for Surrey on four occasions.

In 1547 Cawarden obtained the former home of Anne of Cleves, Bletchingley a Tudor home that was gifted to the former Queen as part of her divorce settlement with King Henry VIII. In 1551 Cawarden began work on a banqueting house in Hyde Park, London with Lawrence Bradshaw who was a surveyor of works but by 1556 this was supplanted by his banqueting house at Nonsuch Park.

Cawarden died on 25th August 1559 at East Horsley, his body was taken to Bletchingley for burial.

Sir Thomas Cawarden tombSir Thomas Cawarden’s tomb

On this day in 1588 – A service of thanksgiving was held for the victory over the Spanish Armada

On 20th August 1588 a service of thanksgiving was held at St Paul’s in London to give thanks for the English victory over the Spanish and the Armada that had been sent by King Philip of Spain to invade and conquer England.

elizabeth I thanksgiving armadaElizabeth I travelling to St Paul’s for the thanksgiving service

Queen Elizabeth believed that the victory was down to the ‘Protestant wind’ that was sent by God that scattered the Armada and damaged many of their ships despite the fact that Lord Howard of Effingham and Sir Francis Drake guided the English navy through many of the battles and skirmishes that they encountered.

Elizabeth commissioned a special medal to celebrate the victory that was inscribed with the words ‘Flavit Jehovah et Dissipati Sunt’ which meant ‘God blew and they were scattered’

Armada medal

The medal commissioned for the victory over the Spanish Armada

You can read more about the Spanish Armada here:

Part One – http://wp.me/p5LWKn-as

Part Two – http://wp.me/p5LWKn-aG

On this day in 1601 – William Lambarde died

William Lambarde was born on 18th October 1536 to John Lambarde and his wife. His father died when he was 15 years old and he temporarily became the ward of Edmund Hensley. Lambarde’s early life is unknown until he was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in 1556 where he studied law.

During his time studying law he was encouraged by Laurence Nowell to publish a collection of Anglo-Saxon laws, entitled Archaionomia which was printed by John Day. The publication included a woodcut map showing the seven kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, the first map of its kind to be published in England.

In 1570 Lambarde completed Perambulation of Kent which was the first English country history and it was eventually printed in 1576, it would go through several editions after proving to be very popular. With the success of Perambulation of Kent Lambarde considered writing a similar one for the whole of Britain but set it aside once he discovered that William Camden was already working on the same idea.

On 11th September 1570 Lambarde married Jane Multon, daughter of George Multon, on her 17th birthday but she died just three years later. Lambarde lived in the Manor of St. Clere in Ightham, Kent.

It is believed that Lambarde served as a Member of Parliament for Aldborough during the Parliament of 1563 – 1567, he was also at one time a bencher of Lincoln’s Inn as well as a Justice of the Peace for Kent.

Lambarde was in close communication with Lord Burghley and they wrote regularly. Burghley at one point requested that Lambarde collected some historical notes on Lincoln and Stamford and later in 1587 Lambarde thanked Burghley for unspecified favours which he appreciated after the death of his second wife.

In 1576 Lambarde founded an almshouse in East Greenwich, in 1597 Sir Thomas Egerton, the Lord Chancellor appointed Lambarde as Keeper of the Rolls and in 1601 Queen Elizabeth appointed him as Keeper of the Records in the Tower of London in 1601. As part of his role in early August 1601 he had a private meeting with the Queen who had asked him to draw up a detailed account of the documents that were under his care, they talked at length in her privy chamber in Greenwich and Lambarde was asked to explain various terms.

Lambarde died on 19th August 1601, just two weeks after his audience with the Queen. He died at Westcombe and was buried at Greenwich; he was later reinterred to the Lambarde Chapel in Sevenoaks Church.

by Unknown artist,painting,

On this day in 1513 – William Parr was born

On 14th August 1513 William Parr was born to Sir Thomas Parr and his wife Maud. Thomas had two sisters Anne and Catherine, the sixth wife of King Henry VIII.

On 9th February 1527 Parr married Anne Bourchier daughter of Henry Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Essex. The marriage was not an easy one and in 1541 Anne eloped with her lover John Lyngfield, the prior of St. James’s Church, Tanbridge and they had several children. As a result of this Parr was able to annul the marriage via an Act of Parliament and on 17th April 1543 and Anne’s children were declared illegitimate. As a result of the Act Parr obtained his wife’s lands and titles and as a result was created the Earl of Essex. Parr was able to achieve this due to his high position within King Edward’s court and the influence he held over many.

Parr went on to marry Elisabeth Brooke. Elisabeth had been married to Sir Thomas Wyatt, who had been implicated in Anne Boleyn’s downfall; they had a son with Wyatt who went on to be Sir Thomas Wyatt the younger. Elisabeth fell in love with Parr whilst still married to Wyatt and they lived in adultery and later married whilst Wyatt was still alive, therefore the marriage was bigamous The validity of the marriage was contested as during Henry’s reign a divorced man could not be allowed to remarry but this law was rescinded by King Edward and their marriage was legal. However, it was again overturned by Mary before once again being revoked by Elizabeth.

Parr had many titles bestowed upon him alongside the Earl of Essex in 1539 he was created Baron Parr of Kendal and in 1547 he was created the Marquess of Northampton.

After the death of King Henry VIII Parr being the King’s brother in law and therefore step-uncle to the new King, Edward VI, Parr was one of the most important men in the new Council. He served Edward loyally and when it was clear that the King was dying Parr along with his wife worked with John Dudley to place Lady Jane Grey as the successor to the throne. Upon Queen Mary’s ascension Parr was arrested on the charge of high treason and sentenced to death on 18th August 1553, however, he was instead released and eventually had his titles restored to him by Queen Elizabeth in 1559.

In 1565 his wife, Elisabeth, died aged 39 heavily in debt as she attempted to find a cure for her ailment which was believed to be cancer. Five years later Parr would marry Helena Snakenborg who was a lady in waiting from Sweden. This marriage would be short lived as Parr would die five months later at Warwick Priory. With no children his titles became extinct.

Queen Elizabeth paid for the funeral and burial of Parr and he was buried in St Mary’s Church, Warwick. His tomb is inscribed as followed;

William Parr, Marquis of Northampton; Died in Warwick 28 October 1571. [Buried] with the ceremonial due [of a] Knight of the Garter to the Order of Queen Elizabeth who bore the expense of the funeral, 2 December 1571.”

William ParrWilliam Parr, brother to Catherine Parr

On this day in 1588 – Queen Elizabeth delivered a speech to the troops at Tilbury

On 9th August 1588 Queen Elizabeth I visited her troops who were stationed at Tilbury, Essex during the Spanish Armada and delivered a speech that was designed to unite and rouse her army.

Elizabeth visiting Tilbury

Although the Armada had been defeated in the Battle of Gravelines 11 days previously, the Armada had headed up and around Scotland in an attempt to flee the English navy. It was unknown whether they would try a second attempt at invading England on the way back past or if the Duke of Parma would attempt to cross the channel and invade. Therefore troops were still on high alert at Tilbury.

Upon arrival at Tilbury, the Queen left her bodyguards and went amongst her subjects with an escort of six men. Lord Ormonde walked ahead of the group carrying the Sword of State followed by a page leading the Queen’s charge and another page carrying on a cushion her silver helmet. It is believed that the Queen wore silver armour and rode on a grey horse flanked by the Earl of Leicester or her right and the Earl of Essex on her left with Sir John Norreys following behind.

The Queen then gave her speech to the troops, many versions of her words are documented however, it is widely believed that the correct speech was written in a letter from Leonel Sharp to the Duke of Buckingham after the event. It read;

My loving people,

We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed Tilbury Speechmultitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heart of battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.

I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you on a word of a prince, they shall be duly paid. In the mean time, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince never commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over these enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.”

The Spanish Armada did not attempt a second invasion but instead travelled straight back to Spain following severe losses of the coast of Ireland but Elizabeth’s speech is remembered for uniting the country against the Spanish.

Elizabeth Armada paintingPortrait of Queen Elizabeth to commemorate the

defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588

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 1553 – Queen Mary I rode into London with Elizabeth.

On 3rd August 1553 Queen Mary I rode into London after being proclaimed Queen, she rode alongside her Elizabeth, her half sister. They travelled from Wanstead to Aldgate where Mary was greeted by the Lord Mayor of London who handed her ‘the scepter perteyninge to the office’ Mary handed the sceptre back to the Lord Mayor and entered the city followed by Sir Anthony Browne, the Duchess of Norfolk, Marquess of Exeter and in front of Mary travelled the Lord Major with the sceptre and the Earl of Arundel holding the sword of state.

The party passed St Botolph’s Church where the children of the local Christ’s hospital greeted the new Queen and they passed through Leadenhall towards Gracechurch Street and Fenchurch Street then down Mark Lane before arriving at the Tower of London. It was at the Tower that Mary was met by Sir John Gage, the Constable of the Tower and Thomas Bruges who welcomed the Queen into the Tower. Inside the Tower Mary was also greeted by the Duke of Norfolk, Bishop Gardiner and Edward Courtenay.

The chronicler Wriothesley wrote about the day by starting with Mary’s appearance;

her gowne of purple velvet French fashion, with sleues of the same, hir kirtle purple satten all thicke sett with gouldsmithes work and great pearle, with her foresleues of the same set with rich stones, with a rich bowdricke of goulde, pearle, and stones about her necke, and a riche billement of stones and great pearle on her hoode, her pallfray that she rode on richly trapped with gould embrodred to the horse feete.”

Wriothesley continued by talking about the city of London and how the new Queen was greeted;

“All the streates in London, from Algate up to Leadenhall, and so to the Tower, were richly hanged with clothes of arras and silke, the streates gravelled all the way, and the citizens standing at rayles with theyr streamers and banners of eury Company or occupation standing at theyr rayles, eury Company in their best liueryes with theyr hoodes. Allso there were iiii great stages between Algate and the Tower where clarkes and musicians stoode playing and singing goodly ballets which rejoysed the Quene’s highnes greatly. Allso there was such a terrible and great shott of guns shot within the Tower and all about the Tower wharf that the lyke hath not bene hard, for they neuer ceased shootinge from the tyme her highnes entred in at Algate til she came to Marke Lane ende, which was like great thunder, so that yt had bene lyke to an earthquake. And all the streets by the way as her highnes rode standing so full of people shoutinge and cryinge Jesus saue her Grace, with weepinge teares for joy, that the lyke was neuer seen before. “

Mary’s arrival in London marks the start of her reign as Queen.

Mary I arriving in LondonQueen Mary I arriving in London with Elizabeth

by John Byam

On this day in 1544 – Princess Elizabeth wrote to Catherine Parr.

On 31st July 1544 Princess Elizabeth wrote a letter to Catherine Parr. Elizabeth was aged just ten years old but the letter was written beautifully in Italian to the current Queen who was acting regent whilst Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII, was in France.

It is the earliest surviving letter in existence that Elizabeth wrote to her step mother. Translated it read;

Inimical fortune, envious of all good and ever revolving human affairs, has deprived me for a whole year of your most illustrious presence, and, not thus content, has yet again robbed me of the same good; which thing would be intolerable to me, did I not hope to enjoy it very soon. And in this my exile I well know that the clemency of your highness has had as much care and solicitude for my health as the king’s majesty himself. By which thing I am not only bound to serve you, but also to revere you with filial love, since I understand that your most illustrious highness has not forgotten me every time you requested from you. For heretofore I have not dared to write to him. Wherefore I now humbly pray your most excellent highness, that, when you write to his majesty, you will condescend to recommend me to him, praying ever for his sweet benediction, and similarly entreating our Lord God to send him best success, and the obtaining of victory over his enemies, so that your highness and I may, as soon as possible, rejoice together with him on his happy return. No less pray I God, that He would preserve your most illustrious highness; to Whose grace, humbly kissing your hands, I offer and recommend myself.

From St James’s this 31st July.

Your most obedient daughter, and most faithful servant, Elizabeth.”

Elizabeths letterA fragment of the letter Elizabeth sent to Catherine Parr

On this day in 1588 – English forces gathered at Tilbury during the Spanish Armada

King Philip II of Spain, once King of England through his marriage to Queen Mary I, authorised a fleet of 130 Spanish ships to set sail for England in the hope of invading and capturing the country, now ruled by Queen Elizabeth I and returning it back to the Catholic ways.

Philip_II,_King_of_Spain_from_NPGqueen_elizabeth_i_of_england

On 28th May 1588 the Spanish Armada set said from Lisbon and began its journey towards the English Channel, aboard its 130 shops were 8000 sailors, 18000 soldiers and they also carried 1500 brass guns and 1000 iron guns. The sheer size of the Armada meant that it took nearly two days for everyone to leave Lisbon port. The Armada was led by the Duke of Medina Sidonia, a courtier who had little experience at sea. As they headed towards England they would be   delayed by bad weather and would lose five ships.

As the Spanish headed towards England the English navy were docked in Plymouth awaiting further news of the Spanish and their movement. The English navy consisted of 200 ships and therefore slightly outnumbered the Spanish. The English also had advanced weaponry aboard their ships. Lord Howard of Effingham led the English but like the Duke of Medina Sidonia had little experience, this fell to his second in command, Sir Francis Drake.

On 19th July the Spanish were spotted for the first time off the coast of Cornwall near to The Lizard, the news was quickly conveyed back to London through the use of beacons that were lit up across the south coast. The tide was against the English and so they were trapped in port unable to leave and intercept the oncoming Armada. The Spanish contemplated whether to sail into Plymouth Harbour and attack England but Medina Sidonia was adamant to stick to the plan Philip had prepared and they sailed past heading towards the Isle of Wight.

The tide eventually turned and the English set off in pursuit of the Spanish. On the 20th July the English had reached Eddystone Rocks with the Armada slightly further ahead of them but the English had caught up by the 21st using knowledge of the waters and weather to their advantage and the two fleets engaged in their first battle. As night fell and hours of fighting passed neither side had lost any ships however, as the light failed two Spanish ships, the Rosario and the San Salvador collided and were abandoned. Sir Francis Drake in his ship, the Revenge was given the order to guide the fleet by carrying a lantern through the night. However, for Drake the opportunity to turn back and loot the two abandoned ships were too great and Drake ordered his ship was turned around. Upon boarding the Rosario Drake was able to take much needed ammunition and treasure but he was also able to gain intelligence that the English could then use against the Spanish. Drake’s abandonment of his duty meant that with no light to guide them the English navy became scattered and took a full day to regroup and once again catch up to the Spanish.

The Spanish continued heading towards the Isle of Wight in order to make a base in the Solent whilst they awaited news from the Duke of Parma, who had been waiting in the Low Countries until his army could cross the Channel and join the Spanish in an invasion of London. The Spanish waited here for a few days and in that time lost two more ships.

On the 26th July 1588 4000 men assembled at Tilbury Fort on the Thames estuary in an attempt to prepare in case the Spanish made it to land. They would guard the eastern approach towards London and the Queen. Whilst troops were gathering at Tilbury Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and Lieutenant and Captain General of the Queen’s Armies and Companies also created a blockade of boats across the Thames therefore blocking the way for the Spanish to travel up the Thames to reach London.

Meanwhile, the Spanish on the 26th July had managed to leave the Solent and reached Calais and anchored whilst a messenger was sent to the Duke of Parma who was further up the coast line calling him into action.

Both countries were preparing for the next stage of the battle.

Spanish ArmadaThe English surrounding the Spanish during the Spanish Armada

On this day in 1565 – Kat Ashley died

It is unknown when Katherine Champernowne, or Kat Ashley as she was later known, it is believed that she was born in 1502 and that her parents were Sir John Champernowne and Margaret Courtenay.

Kat’s early life is unknown and but she appears to have been appointed a waiting gentlewoman to Elizabeth in 1536, shortly after Anne Boleyn had been executed. Kat intended to keep Elizabeth’s mother’s memory alive with the infant.

After the birth of Henry VIII’s son, Edward, a new household was set up to care for him this included Lady Bryan who had been until then Elizabeth’s nurse. As a result in 1537 Kat was appointed governess to Elizabeth.

In her role as Elizabeth’s governess Kat would teach her young charge in every aspect from geography, astronomy, history, maths and many languages including French, Italian, Spanish and Flemish. Away from the classroom Kat would also teach Elizabeth dancing, riding, embroidery and needlework and by the time Elizabeth was six John Ashley husband of Katyears old she was able to sew a cambric shirt from her brother, Edward. Elizabeth said later in life that Kat ‘took great labour and pain in bringing of me up in learning and honesty.’ Kat played a huge part in shaping who Elizabeth would be in later life.

In 1545 Kat married Elizabeth’s senior gentleman attendant, Sir John Ashley, who was also a cousin of Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn

In 1543 with King Henry VIII marrying his sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr, Elizabeth began attending court more and more and Kat would accompany the young Elizabeth. With the death of the King, Elizabeth and Kat would go and live with Catherine and her new husband Thomas Seymour in Chelsea. However, it was not to be an easy time.

Thomas Seymour, despite his hasty marriage with the King’s widow, took a shine to Elizabeth and began a flirtation. Kat would witness Seymour’s attempts to potentially seduce the young girl and tried to stop them warning Elizabeth away from Seymour. Kat would eventually report her concerns to Catherine Parr, who instead of stopping it joined in and reportedly held Elizabeth down whilst Seymour slashed at the 14 year olds nightgown. However, things turned serious when Catherine caught Elizabeth in Seymour’s arms and Kat lectured Elizabeth on the need to stay out of trouble and protect her reputation especially as she was second in line to the throne.

These events would be eventually investigated by King Edward’s Privy Council when Seymour was being investigated for treason. On 21st January 1549 Kat was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London whilst the claims were investigated. Kat told the investigators everything she knew and protested Elizabeth’s innocence as well as her own and was eventually declared innocent and released in early March 1549.

Kat would return to Elizabeth who was now residing at Hatfield and would remain with Elizabeth until 1554 when Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower by her sister, Mary I. Elizabeth was later released and Kat rejoined her charge but it was short lived as in May 1556 Kat was arrested and sent to Fleet Prison after books that were discovered in her possession that was considered treasonous. Kat was imprisoned for just three months but on her release she was forbidden from seeing Elizabeth again.

Upon Elizabeth taking the throne the order was revoked and Kat returned to Elizabeth and was appointed First Lady of the Bedchamber and became one of the most influential people in Elizabeth’s court.

Kat Ashley died on 18th July 1565 and Elizabeth was left heartbroken at the loss of her long term companion. After Kat’s death Elizabeth would say of the woman who stayed by her side since she was four. ‘Anne Boleyn gave me life but Kat Ashley gave me love’.

Kat AshleyKat Ashley