Tag Archives: Henry Wriothesley

On this day in 1581 – Henry Wriothesley, 2nd Earl of Southampton died

Henry Wriothesley, 2nd Earl of Southampton was born on 24th April 1545 and was the only surviving son of Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton and Jane Cheney. At his christening at St Andrew’s, Holborn, both King Henry VIII and Charles Brandon were appointed his godfathers and Princess Mary was his godmother. Wriothesley had five sisters and two brothers, who both died young.

From the age of two until his father’s death in July 1550 he was called Lord Wriothesley but after his father’s death he inherited his earldom and became a royal ward. The King granted Wriothesley’s custody to Sir William Herbert before it was acquired by his mother before being granted in 1560 to Sir William More of Loseley.

On 19th February 1566 Wriothesley married the 13 year old Mary Browne, daughter of Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu. Wriothesley was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn on 19th March of the same year. Wriothesley reached his majority as well in 1556 and was granted his inheritance by letters patent on 7th February 1568, according to J.G. Elzinga in their biography of Wriothesley; he had six residences and an income that was between £2000 and £3000.

Wriothesley was raised Catholic and there was a strain during Queen Elizabeth’s reign, the strain first arose in February 1569 when Wriothesley’s brother in law wrote to Sir William Cecil saying that Wriothesley should be ‘rather charitably won than severely corrected’ when it came to religion. In the summer of 1569 Queen Elizabeth visited Wriothesley at his home at Titchfield Abbey, however, by November of the same year along with his father in law, Viscount Montagu, Wriothesley were implicated in the Northern Rebellion in particularly in a letter from Guerau de Spes, the Spanish ambassador, to the Duke of Alba dated 1st December 1569 in which he wrote that both Wriothesley and his father in law ‘have sent to me for advice as to whether they should take up arms or go over to your Excellency’. Wriothesley and Montagu set sail for Flanders but bad weather forced them back to England and they were summoned to appear in front of the council to explain their actions, although they both remained unpunished.

Following Pope Pius V excommunication of Elizabeth in May 1570 Wriothesley contacted the Bishop of Ross, John Lesley, and attempted to secretly meet him in the marshes of Lambeth where he was intercepted and on 18th June 1570 his arrest was ordered by the Privy Council and he was placed under house arrest at the home of Henry Becher, Sheriff of London. On 15th July he was transferred to Loseley and was now in the custody of Sir William More. More was instructed to ensure that Wriothesley took part in Protestant devotions and after complying Wriothesley was released in November of the same year.

In September 1571 whilst John Lesley was being questioned regarding the Ridolfi Plot he revealed the full story regarding his meeting with Wriothesley and as a result Wriothesley was arrested and placed in the Tower of London for 18 months. He was eventually released on 1st May 1573 and once again placed into the custody of Sir William More at Loseley until 14th July when he was permitted to live with his father in law at Cowdray although his movement was restricted.

On 6th October 1573 Wriothesley wrote to Sir William More to announce the birth of his son, Henry the future 3rd Earl of Southampton. For the next six years Wriothesley was granted small offices from the Queen and seemed to be in favour. Following his mother’s death in 1574 his income grew and he commissioned the building of a mansion at Dogmersfield.

Wriothesley’s marriage began to deteriorate at in 1577 he reportedly forbid his wife from seeing Donsame, although just two years later a report was given to Wriothesley stating that his wife had been seen with Donsame at Dogmersfield. As a result he banished her to one of his Hampshire estates under surveillance however, his wife, Mary, defended herself denied all accusations of adultery instead accusing Thomas Dymock, a servant of causing the rift between herself and her husband.

Wriothesley died on 4th October 1581 at his home of Itchell, Dogmersfield and was buried at Titchfield on 30th November. He left behind an estate valued at £1097 6s per annum, in his will he named Thomas Dymock and Charles Paget as executors. His estranged wife contested the will with the aid of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester and a settlement was agreed on 11th December 1581 in which Thomas Dymock would retain that what was bequested to him but the rest of the estate was passed into the care of Edward Gage, another executor of Wriothesley’s will.

Henry Wriothesley tombThe tomb of Henry Wriothesley, 2nd Earl of Southampton,

alongside the tomb of his mother, Jane Cheney.

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