The women of the Tudor court have some of the most amazing stories but they are often overshadowed by their husbands, fathers and brothers. Anne Knollys is not someone we often read about, but her story and the story of her descendants is one that needs to be told.
Anne Knollys was born on the 19th of July 1555 to Sir Francis Knollys and Lady Catherine Carey. If you believe the rumors that Catherine Carey was the illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII and Mary Boleyn, it would make Anne the late King’s granddaughter. Regardless, she was related to Queen Elizabeth and sister to Lettice Knollys.
Prior to her marriage:
She was a maid of honor before her marriage. During that time (1570), she received fifty-three pairs of shoes, thirty-one made of calves’ leather.¹
BARONESS DE LA WARR
On the 19th of November 1571, at the age of sixteen, Anne Knollys married Thomas West. Thomas was the eldest son of William West, 1st Baron De La Warr, by his first wife, Elizabeth Strange. He would eventually inherit the title Baron De La Warr in 1595 and hold it until his death in 1602.
Anne and Thomas had thirteen children together. It is through these children that their legacy is made.
Walsingham (died young), Elizabeth (b. 1573?), Robert (b. 1573/4), Margaret (b. 1576), Thomas (b. 1577), Lettice (b. 1579), Anne (b. 1581), Penelope (b. 1582), Catherine (b. 1583), Francis (b. 1586), Helena (b. 1587) John (b. 1590) and Nathaniel (b. 1592).¹ ²
COLONY OF VIRGINIA
Thomas West inherited the title Lord De La Warr upon his father’s death in 1602. He was an English Politician, member of Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Council and was well-educated. In 1609, De La Warr was appointed governor-for-life and captain-general of the Colony of Virginia but did not arrive there until 1610.³
Francis West traveled to the new colony of Virginia in 1608 as a Captain, returned again in 1610 and served as Deputy Governor of Virginia from 17 November 1627 to 5 March 1629.
John West arrived in Virginia in 1618, the same year his brother Thomas, Lord De La Warr died. In 1635, after the suspension and impeachment of Governor Sir John Harvey, West was chosen as temporary replacement for Harvey and served until 1637. Harvey had been sent back to Virginia by King Charles I in 1636 and was described as tyrannical and was very unpopular. In 1640, John West was ordered back to England along with the others involved with the initial removal of Harvey, to answer charges in the Star Chamber. They were eventually cleared, and were able to return to Virginia.4
The De La Warr family would eventually be responsible for the name Delaware for one of the orignal thirteen colonies. The colony took its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr – the son of Anne Knollys.
Through her children Anne’s legacy lives on. We might not know about her but early American history marks the achievements of her sons. In turn we learn about her while researching them.