About Me: Founder of TudorsDynasty.com

Greetings! I have been wanting to write this for a while now but the rigors of everyday life seem to have gotten in the way each time I attempted to do so.

To some of you, the few of you who have been around from the beginning, you already know who I am and why I chose to start this website. For those of you who are new to this page, I hope I can answer some questions for you and motivate you to do what you’re passionate about.

To start, I always like to be upfront and tell you that I am not a historian, nor have I ever claimed to be one. Over a decade ago I became interested in the Tudor dynasty while watching Showtime’s, “The Tudors” and researching my own family tree. At the time my passion was genealogy and assisting others with discovering the mysteries of their own family.  One day, while researching my own family, I came across a link to Margaret Tudor – sister to Henry VIII. From that point I was hooked on the Tudors and wanted to learn more. Eventually I found out that the link I had discovered was inaccurate but the love for 16th English royal history stuck.

To learn more about the Tudor dynasty, which at the time I knew very little about, I found every book possible. I became a regular customer at Barnes and Noble’s “Bargain Book” section and couldn’t find enough books to quench my thirst. Since then I’ve collected so many books that I can hardly count them all.

Over the last decade, my taste in books on the subject has changed quite a bit. At the beginning I thoroughly enjoyed fiction and historical fiction. I loved reference books with lots of pictures….and now, I’m always on the lookout for print copies of primary sources. You see, we all start somewhere. As long as we continue to grow and learn we’ll be able to spread our wings even further. I even check into as many free online courses as possible and found lectures online from Yale University that I’ve used to broaden my horizons.

A couple of years ago I discovered a website through Facebook that I found interesting. It was a website that listed all the things that happened on this day in history. I found myself searching out the site every morning to discover what had happened on that day nearly five hundred years ago. That website was TheAnneBoleynFiles.com and is run by my idol,  Claire Ridgway. Claire has been nice enough to ask me to help her by creating quizzes for her other website, TudorSociety.com.

It was about this time that my husband, a published author, started to politely nudge me to start my own website to write about this new obsession of mine. I could not tell him no fast enough. I was not ready to write. I was not a writer. People would hate my what I wrote and make fun of me. Not long after we had this discussion he discovered Paper.li – this was a new platform that allowed you to create your own page name and share articles about whatever topic you were interested in. After going through many names (that were already taken) I landed on Tudors Weekly. I now had what you would call an online magazine with no original content. I created a Twitter page to help grow follows and wanted to see how many interested people I could get. There was interest in the site but there seemed to be more interest in my Twitter page. This was about the time when I became tired of posting other people’s work and decided that I was ready for my own website – two years ago this month (June 2015) I started Blog.TudorsWeekly.com.

What started out as my own “This Day in History” website eventually turned into mini-biographies about people of the Tudor court. My biggest interest was learning more about the lesser known women of the court – I wanted to tell their story.

To my surprise, nobody made fun of my writing, or made me feel inadequate. My husband told me when I was insecure about my writing that I would become better if I just kept writing. He was right. The more I write, the better I become. I not a scholar by any means but I am more comfortable in my own skin now – thanks to the Tudors.

About a year and a half ago I decided it was time to buy the domain, TudorsWeekly.com. I wanted the website to look more credible and I believed by removing “blog” from the beginning that my readers, or potential new readers would take me more seriously. At the time I was publishing a new post about once a week – so having “weekly” in the name made sense. Before long, my husband and I decided that we should change the name and also buy the domain for TudorsDynasty.com – all these domains are an investment of my own money to maintain and we even have a “web guy” we pay to run servers for us…or something like that, I don’t really understand. He’s the guy we call if the website goes down and he waves a magic wand or something and it comes back.

So…even though I’m doing what I’m passionate about it’s costing me lots of money – the website costs, new equipment to create podcasts and all the books I buy to research. For those reasons, this is why I ask for donations from the wonderful people like you to help me continue on without breaking my bank account. My podcast website is a great way to donate if you would prefer to do a small monthly amount (a small amount low as $1/month) instead of one lump sum donation (any size) through my personal PayPal account. I do not expect all of you to donate, but I would greatly appreciate it is you do. I have 20 people who make monthly payments through my podcast site Patreon right now and I cannot thank them enough. Anyone who writes a blog wants to feel accepted and know what they’re doing is appreciated – this evening 20 people make the narcissistic side of me feel fantastic and ease my financial burdens.

If I could do this full-time I would, but for now my career in marketing is what pays my mortgage and all the things that go along with adulting. I love marketing and know my experience in it helps me with my blog. What I’m getting at is my website/blog is what I do in my spare time. My husband sometimes has to tell me that I need to get off my computer because I’m neglecting my family. I’m hoping, at some point, I can spend all my time reading and writing. I love what I do so much!

If you can find it in your heart to throw a bit of money my way I would greatly appreciate it – it’s not expected but greatly appreciated. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for following and sharing my articles/blogs – you are all amazing!

Rebecca Larson
Founder of TudorsDynasty.com

If you are indeed interested in supporting me, here are the links to do so:

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Book Review: The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives

The story of Anne Boleyn has been told often in books, movies and TV programs, but none come close to the life she actually lived – her life told by Eric Ives.

Jane Seymour (18)


This definitive biography of Anne Boleyn establishes her as a figure of considerable importance and influence in her own right.

  • A full biography of Anne Boleyn, based on the latest scholarly research.
  • Focusses on Anne’s life and legacy and establishes Anne as a figure of considerable importance and influence in her own right.
  • Adulteress or innocent victim? Looks afresh at the issues at the heart of Anne’s downfall.
  • Pays attention to her importance as a patron of the arts, particularly in relation to Hans Holbein.
  • Presents evidence about Anne’s spirituality and her interest in the intellectual debates of the period.
  • Takes account of significant advances in knowledge in recent years.

Most translations of Anne’s life leave her as either a vindictive mistress or a woman ahead of her time who was wrongfully executed. It is easy to choose one side or another but in real life there were no winners. Anne Boleyn died unnecessarily, Katherine of Aragon died of what some believe was cancer (or maybe a broken heart) and Henry VIII would go through many more wives and eventually go down in history as the man who divorced or beheaded a majority of his queen consorts.

This book reads are very fact based with bits of Ives opinion in places. I’ll admit, it isn’t the easiest read but it is definitely full of useful information for anyone who wants to know the truth about Anne Boleyn. One must remember when reading this book that the information obtained by Ives is contemporary, for the most part. There are references to his sources throughout the book and there is a plethora of notes to back up the facts listed. There are pages upon pages in the bibliography and an index in case you want to look up something quickly.

It may seem strange, but one of my favorite parts from the books is when Eric Ives talks about the portraits of Anne and explains which he believed to be the most accurate of the Anne portraits. It is the best explanation that I have read so far.

You’ll also learn interesting bits about Anne that you do not normally find in everyday blogs written about her. As an example, Anne’s involvement in the building of castles during her time with Henry. This was something that I was unaware of.

If you love the story of Anne, or better yet, if you are obsessed with her daughter, Elizabeth, please take the time to immerse yourself in this book. I’ll have to go back and read it a few times and highlight sections so I don’t forget the important parts.

Well worth the read! I’d definitely give this book five out of five stars.


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Elizabeth’s Ladies

Let’s take a look at the women who surrounded Queen Elizabeth and see what their lives were like. As we know already when you were a Lady-in-Waiting or Maid-of-Honour to the Queen that it meant she was responsible for you and your reputation. One would not dare marry without her consent, or be without virtue. As you’ll see from this list there were a few of her ladies that stepped outside the rules and disobeyed their Queen.

While this is by no means ALL of Elizabeth’s ladies, I’m confident that it is a decent chunk of the list to wet your appetite. To discover more, see the next paragraph.

A special thank-you to Kathy Lynn Emerson’s website since she allows it to be used and quoted as a wonderful resource and wealth of information! This article could not have been completed without her tireless research and writing. If you’re interested in checking it out, please go to: A Who’s Who of Tudor Women after you’ve read this piece.

Bess of Hardwick

Lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth. Bess was a very wealthy woman and became the second most powerful woman, next to Queen Elizabeth. Bess and her husband were asked in 1569 to hold Mary, Queen of Scots under house arrest at their residence. They did so for 15 years.

Elizabeth Hardwick, better known as Bess of Hardwick, was the daughter of John Hardwick (1495-January 29, 1528) and Elizabeth Leake (1499-c.1570). She married four times, first to Robert Barlow (1529-December 24, 1544) in 1543, second to Sir William Cavendish (c.1505-October 25,1557) in 1547, third to Sir William St.Loe (1518-February 1565) in 1559, and fourth to George Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury (1528-November 18,1590) on February 9,1568. In January 1566, she was suggested as a bride for Sir John Thynne of Longleat, but he married someone else later that year. She had eight children, all born of her second marriage, Frances (June 18,1548-1632), Temperance (June 10,1549-1550), Henry (December 17,1550-1616), William (December 27,1551-1625), Charles (November 1553-1617), Elizabeth (March 31,1555-January 21,1582), Mary (January 1556-April 1632), and Lucrece (1557-1557). She is best known as the builder of Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, but she had a long and eventful career at court, as well, and was for many years, with her fourth husband, responsible for keeping Mary, Queen of Scots prisoner in England. She raised her granddaughter, Arbella Stuart, who had a claim to the throne. She was also said to be the richest woman in England.¹

"Bess of Hardwick as Mistress St Lo" by Unknown - http://gouk.about.com/od/englandtravel/ss/visithardwick_2.htm. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
“Bess of Hardwick as Mistress St Lo” by Unknown – http://gouk.about.com/od/englandtravel/ss/visithardwick_2.htm. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

Lettice Knollys

Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth. Lettice was a descendant of Elizabeth’s aunt, Mary Boleyn.  Lettice is probably best-known for marrying Elizabeth’s favorite subject, Robert Dudley in secret. The Queen was furious with both of them.

Lettice was the third of sixteen children born to Catherine Carey and Sir Francis Knollys. She became a maid of honor to Queen Elizabeth in 1559 and married Walter Devereux in 1560. Devereux died of dysentery in 1576, which left Lettice a widow and open to remarriage – secretly to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

Learn more about Lettice Knollys through these guest articles: Lettice Knollys: Cousin vs Queen (Part 1) and Lettice Knollys: Cousin vs Queen (Part 2)

Portrait of Lettice Knollys, George Gower, 1595
Portrait of Lettice Knollys, George Gower, 1595

Margaret Radcliffe

Lady in Waiting & Maid of Honour to Queen Elizabeth.  Margaret came to court with her brother Alexander.

Margaret Radcliffe was the daughter of Sir John Radcliffe of Ordsall (1536-1590) and Anne Ashawe. She came to court as a maid of honor in the 1590s and there was courted by Lord Cobham’s son, Henry Brooke. Brooke also paid court to Frances Howard, countess of Kildare, and Elizabeth Russell, another maid of honor. When news came in August 1599 that Margaret’s twin brother, Alexander, had been killed in battle in Ireland, Margaret was inconsolable. She returned to Ordsall, where she pined away, refusing to eat. Advised of her maid of honor’s condition, Queen Elizabeth ordered Margaret back to court, which was then at Richmond, but her decline continued and it was there that she died. The queen ordered an autopsy (an unusual step in those days). According to a letter written by Philip Gaudy, Margaret’s body proved “all well and sound, saving certain strings striped all over her heart.” She was buried in St. Margaret’s, Westminster.¹

Margaret Radcliffe

Mary Borough

Mary Borough was the daughter of William Borough or Burgh, 4th baron Borough of Gainsborough (c.1521-September 10, 1584) and Catherine Fiennes de Clinton (c.1538-August 14, 1621). She was a maid of honor to Queen Elizabeth before her 1577 marriage, as his second wife, to Sir Richard Bulkeley of Beaumaris, Anglesey and Lewisham, Kent (d. June 28, 1621). He was knighted on the eve of their marriage. “Lord Borough’s daughter” appears on one list of maids of honor, but for 1599, which makes me wonder if that date was a mistake for 1577.¹

Margaret Russell

Margaret was a Maid of Honour to Queen Elizabeth. Her sister Anne was also Maid of Honour and Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth and married Ambrose Dudley, brother of the Earl of Leicester.

Margaret Russell

Cordell Annesley

Cordell or Cordelia Annesley (Ansley/Anslowe/Onslow) was the youngest daughter of Brian Annesley of Lee, Kent (d. July 7, 1604) and Audrey Tyrrell. Her father was a gentleman pensioner to Queen Elizabeth and in 1600, Cordell went to court as a maid of honor, where she remained until 1603.¹

Douglas Howard

Douglas Howard was the eldest daughter of William Howard, baron Howard of Effingham and Margaret Gamage. It has been suggested that her godmother was Margaret Douglas, countess of Lennox. She was said to resemble her cousin, Queen Catherine Howard. She was a maid of honor in 1558. In 1560, at seventeen, she married John Sheffield, 2nd baron Sheffield. She is not mentioned in her husband’s will, written on December 10, 1568 and proved January 31, 1568/9. After Sheffield’s death, some later said by poison, his widow returned to court as a gentlewoman of the privy chamber. There she vied for the attention of Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester with her own sister, Frances Howard. By May, 1573, it was an open secret that Douglas was his mistress. According to a later deposition by Douglas, they were secretly married late that year, well before the birth of their son, Robert, at Sheen House in Surrey.

When young Robert was two, Leicester took him to Newington to be brought up by Lord North as befitted an earl’s son, but he refused to support Douglas’s claim that she was his wife. In 1576, he offered her a settlement of £700 per annum to agree that they had never been married. After Leicester’s marriage to Lettice Knollys became public, Douglas was asked to help the queen in her effort to have that marriage annulled, but instead of pressing her claim, she married Sir Edward Stafford of Grafton, Staffordshire on November 28, 1579 at her house in Blackfriars. She later claimed she committed bigamy to put an end to Leicester’s attempts to have her poisoned. ¹

Douglas Howard

Mary Radcliffe

Mary Radcliffe was the daughter of Sir Humphrey Radcliffe of Elstow (c.1509-August 13,1566) and Isabella Hervey or Harvey (d.May 8,1594). She was given to the queen as a New Year’s gift in 1561 and actually came to court as a maid of honor in 1564 at the age of fourteen. She spent the rest of the reign at court, earning a stipend of £40 a year as a gentlewoman of the privy chamber (1570) and later (1580) as a lady of the bedchamber and keeper of the queen’s jewels.¹

Mary Radcliffe

Jane Brussells

Jane Brussells was the daughter of Barbara Hawke, long-time royal attendant. Jane Brussells is listed as a chamberer to Queen Elizabeth in 1586 and seems to have served in that post throughout her career. At one point, she was put in charge of the royal ruffs and cuffs. In about 1589, Jane Brussells married William Heneage of Hainton, Linconshire as his second wife. They had no children. The Heneage tomb shows both wives and states that Jane served Queen Elizabeth for twenty-four years in “her bedchamber and her private chamber.” Portrait: effigy on Heneage tomb in Hainton, Lincolnshire.¹

Elizabeth Knollys

Elizabeth Knollys was the daughter of Sir Francis Knollys and Catherine Carey. She was at court as a maid of honor early in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. n 1578, Elizabeth Knollys married Thomas Leighton or Layton of Feckenham but continued her career as a lady of the privy chamber. Her children with Leighton were a son, Thomas, and two daughters, Anne and Elizabeth. Leighton was governor of Guernsey from 1570 until his death and it is likely the family lived there at least part of the time. Elizabeth died by June 10, 1605.¹

ELIZABETH KNOLLYS, LADY LAYTON attributed to George Gower, 1577, 24 x 27 & 3/4 inches (61 x 70.5 cm) in the Dining Room at Montacute.
Credit: Montacute, Sir Malcolm Stewart bequest, The National Trust.

Dorothy Brooke

Dorothy Brooke “of Bristol” was not one of the daughters of Lord Cobham, although she was a maid of honor to Queen Elizabeth, which argues for some connection to those at court. She is listed as being in the queen’s service in 1565-8. She married Thomas Parry of Hampstead Marshall, Berkshire (1544-May 30,1616). Most sources say they were childless but one online genealogy gives them a daughter, Muriel (d.1616). Muriel was actually Thomas Parry’s sister. From 1601-1605, Parry was the English ambassador in France. In July 1610, he was named as custodian of Lady Arbella Stuart at Lambeth, following her unsanctioned marriage to William Seymour. Parry’s house is described by John Norden as “a fair dwelling house, strongly built, of three stories high.” It had a garden and was bounded by the Thames. What role Dorothy played in these assignments is unknown, but she outlived her husband by eight years and was buried in Welford Church, Berkshire.¹

Catherine Knyvett

Catherine Knyvett was the daughter of Henry Knyvett of Charlton, Wiltshire (1510-March 1547) and Anne Pickering (1514-1582). She was a maid of honor in 1562, until she married Henry, 2nd baron Paget by whom she was the mother of a daughter, Elizabeth. While she was at court, her chamber was robbed and £60 worth of plate was stolen. By her second marriage, c. 1568, to Sir Edward Cary of West Smithfield, London and Aldenham and Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire, she was the mother of Catherine, Philip, Adolphus, Jane, Henry, Viscount Falkland, Frances, Meriall, Anne, and Elizabeth. As Lady Paget and as Lady Paget-Cary, Catherine was a lady of the bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth. Her second husband was master of the jewel house.¹

Catherine Knyvett

Frances Radcliffe

Frances Radcliffe was the daughter of Henry Radcliffe, 2nd earl of Sussex (c.1506-February 17, 1557) and his second wife, Anne Calthorpe (1509-between August 22, 1579 and March 28, 1582). When Frances was two years old, her father attempted to have her declared illegitimate, having thrown her mother out of his house some years earlier, but he was not successful. Although Francis’s father may have been Sir Edmund Knyvett (1509-1551), with whom her mother was accused of having a bigamous marriage, Sussex eventually accepted her as his daughter and left her an income of £20/year and a dowry of £600. Under Queen Elizabeth, Frances came to court as a maid of honor.¹

Mary Hill

Mary Hill was the daughter of Richard Hill of Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, wine merchant and master of Henry VIII’s wine cellar, and Elizabeth Isley. By 1539, Mary’s mother was trying to place her in the household of Elizabeth Tudor and according to the Oxford DNB (“Cheke, John”), she did join that household in 1546. Other sources place her, as a young girl, in the household of Anne Stanhope, countess of Hertford (later duchess of Somerset) and say it was there she met Sir John Cheke, tutor and close friend of King Edward VI. They were married on May 11, 1547. In the winter of 1549, Mary somehow displeased the duchess, prompting Cheke to write a letter of apology on January 27, 1549/1550. In it he tells the duchess that he has urged Mary to “be plain” and hopes that Mary’s “honest nature” will “content” the duchess. He also blamed Mary’s behavior on the fact that she was pregnant. Mary had three sons by Cheke, Henry, John, and Edward.

Her second husband, married before December 14, 1558, was Henry MacWilliams of Stambourne Hall, Essex, a gentleman at the court of Elizabeth Tudor, by whom she had Margaret, Susan, Ambrosia, Cassandra, Cecily, and Henry. Mary, who continued to be called Lady Cheke, was a gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber to Queen Elizabeth and received a number of valuable grants from the queen, including a grant with her husband of houses and a mansion called St. James, Westminster in 1576, becoming quite wealthy.¹

Mary Hill

Anne Rede

Under Queen Elizabeth, Anne Parry was a lady of the privy chamber. When she retired from the court in 1566, she received an annuity and more land in Gloucestershire.¹

Her third husband, married in about 1540, was Sir Thomas Parry of Hampstead Marshall and Welford, Berkshire (c.1505-December 15, 1560). According to The History of Parliament, the marriage was troubled early on. In August 1540, the Bishop of London set up a commission to investigate Parry’s complaint that his wife had left him. They were reconciled and eventually had two sons and three daughters. Thomas Parry had entered the service of Princess Elizabeth by 1548, when he was her cofferer. He was arrested in 1549 because of his knowledge of the activities of Lord Admiral Thomas Seymour but later released.¹

Kat Ashley

Faithful servant of Queen Elizabeth from a small, neglected child to the most powerful woman in England. Kat Ashley was a Chief Lady of the Bedchamber.

Kat Ashley was the closest thing to a mother that Elizabeth had experienced since her Anne Boleyn’s execution in 1536. Tracy Borman writes of how Kat’s intellect and her sense of fun appealed to the young Elizabeth and that she was an instant hit. Borman points out that Kat’s influence at an early stage of Elizabeth’s life must have had an effect on Elizabeth’s intellectual, spiritual and emotional development. However, although she was a very intelligent woman, and is credited with educating Elizabeth in the field of languages, mathematics, astronomy, geography and history, Borman makes the point that Kat’s naivety, her impulsive nature and overly romantic outlook did not make her the best role model for a young princess, but then all of the focus was on the young Edward VI, heir to the throne.²


Catherine Carey

Catherine Carey was a Chief Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth. She was the daughter of Anne Boleyn’s sister Mary Boleyn and cousin to Queen Elizabeth. She was also the mother of Lettice Knollys. Catherine is suspected to be the illegitimate child of Henry VIII.

See our article: Illegitimate Children of Henry VIII

Blanche Parry

Blanche Parry had cared for Queen Elizabeth since her childhood and became Gentlewomen of the Bedchamber. Blanche was a personal attendant of Queen Elizabeth. She was Chief Gentlewoman of the Queen’s Privy Chamber and Keeper of Her Majesty’s jewels.

Blanche knew Elizabeth for a combined 56 year. She  arrived at court with her aunt, Blanche Milborne, Lady Herbert of Troy was the Lady Mistress in charge of the upbringing of Queen Elizabeth I, Edward VI and also of Queen Mary when she lived with the younger Tudor children.

Blanche Parry

Anne Russell #1

Maid of Honour and Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth. Anne Russell married Ambrose Dudley. Ambrose was the brother of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Her sister, Margaret was also a Maid-of-Honour to Queen Elizabeth.

After marriage, Anne remained at court as a lady of the privy chamber. She became extremely influential, and was once said to have refused a bribe of £100 to advance a suit in chancery because the sum was too small. In addition to her lodgings at court, Ann kept a house in what had once been the garden of the priory of the Austin Friars in Broad Street, London. She was also lady of the manor of Rowington, Warwickshire and it was to her that William Shakespeare had to apply for the copyhold on his cottage and grounds in Stratford-upon-Avon. Ann was a patron of the arts. She had no children of her own, but she was guardian to her nephew, the 3rd earl of Bedford, and took an interest in the upbringing of three of her nieces, Anne and Elizabeth Russell and Ann Clifford. Ann Russell was with Queen Elizabeth when the queen died.¹

Anne Russell #1

Anne Russell #2

Anne Russell was the younger daughter of Lord John Russell (d.1584) and Elizabeth Cooke (c.1528-May 1609). She went to court as a maid of honor in 1594. On June 16, 1600, she married Henry Somerset, Lord Herbert (later earl of Worcester) (1577-December 18,1646). Her nine sons and four daughters included Edward, 2nd marquis of Worcester (1601-April 3,1667), John (d.1630), Thomas (d.1676+), and Elizabeth (d.c.1684). Biography: Roy Strong’s The Cult of Elizabeth gives a detailed account of Anne’s wedding and the painting attributed to Robert Peake called “Queen Elizabeth going in Procession to Blackfriars in 1600.” Portraits: There were at least two portraits done of Anne Russell, one as a child and one c.1600, plus her likeness in the wedding portrait. She also appears in effigy on her mother’s tomb in Bisham Church.¹

Anne Russell #2

Elizabeth Throckmorton

Elizabeth Throckmorton was Lady-in-Waiting & Maid-of-Honour  (Lady of the Privy Chamber) to Queen Elizabeth. She secretly married explorer, Walter Raleigh and when Elizabeth discovered it fell out of favor for an extended period of time.

Raleigh was executed in 1618. Elizabeth is said to have carried her husband’s embalmed head around with her for the rest of her life. When she died, Raleigh’s head was returned to his tomb and interred at St. Margaret’s Church (Llyod, J & Mitchinson, J. The Book of General I).

Elizabeth Throckmorton

Lady Elizabeth Tyrrwhit

Lady Elizabeth Tyrrwhit was Governess to Elizabeth as Princess. – (no image)

Elizabeth Russell

Elizabeth Russell was the elder daughter of Lord John Russell (d.1584) and Elizabeth Cooke (c.1528-May 1609). Queen Elizabeth and Frances Sidney, countess of Sussex, were her godmothers with Anne Russell, countess of Warwick, serving as the queen’s proxy. Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, was her godfather.¹

At nineteen, she went to court as a maid of honor. She and her sister Anne sold their inheritance, Russell House in St. Martin-in-the-fields, provoking a quarrel with their mother. Elizabeth further irritated Lady Russell by being thrown out of the Coffer Chamber in April 1597, in company with Elizabeth Brydges, for going unchaperoned to watch the earl of Essex and other gentlemen play at ballon. One rumor makes Elizabeth Russell the earl’s mistress. She certainly had admirers, Lord Cobham and Lord Admiral Charles Howard (later earl of Nottingham) among them. Although the Lord Admiral was already married, Lady Russell urged her daughter to use her influence with him. Lady Russell wanted him to grant her the lease to Donnington. At one point in the 1590s, negotiations were ongoing for Elizabeth Russell’s marriage to the earl of Worcester’s heir, but that young man died and the next brother in line was betrothed to Elizabeth’s younger sister, Anne. Elizabeth danced at their wedding. Then, within a fortnight, she fell ill and died. There are various stories about her death. One says she died of consumption. Another blames her death on a prick from a needle and asserts that it was her punishment for working on a Sunday. However she died, she was buried in Westminster Abbey, where she is the subject of a most unusual sculpture. She is shown asleep sitting up, one foot resting on a skull.¹

Elizabeth Russell

Anne Vavasour

Anne Vavasour was Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth and the mistress of the Earl of Oxford, by whom she had an illegitimate son – Edward. Both Anne and the Earl of Oxford, for their offences, were sent to the Tower by the Queen’s orders. Later she became the mistress of Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley, by whom she had another illegitimate son – Thomas. This affair happened shortly after she had married her first husband, John Finch, a sea-captain. The Queen apparently was not as displeased with this affair as Anne and Lee entertained the Queen together at Ditchley.

Interestingly enough, Anne was charged with bigamy when she married John Richardson after she had already married (in c.1590) John Finch, who was still living. Her fine was £2,000 and she was spared from performing a public penance.

Anne Vavasour

Elizabeth Vavasour

The younger sister of Ann Vavasour. Frances came to court as a maid of honor around 1590, when “our new maid, Mistress Vavasour” was said to “flourisheth like the lily and the rose.” By 1591, she was romantically involved with Sir Robert Dudley. Later that year, he married Mary Cavendish while Frances secretly wed Sir Thomas Sherley or Shirley (1565-1633). Before the secret marriage was revealed in September 1591, Sherley publicly courted Frances Brooke, the widowed Lady Stourton, as if he were free to marry her. Sherley was imprisoned until the spring of 1592 as punishment for his deceitful behavior. In 1606, after Frances’s death, Dudley claimed he had married her around 1591 and thus had never been legally married to either Mary Cavendish or his second wife, Alice Leigh. Dudley was trying to free himself from this second marriage in order to wed his mistress, Elizabeth Southwell, with whom he had eloped to the Continent.¹

Eleanor Brydges

Eleanor Brydges was the daughter of Edmund Brydges, 2nd baron Chandos and Dorothy Bray. She went to court with her sister Katherine to be maids of honor to Queen Elizabeth and remained in the Privy Chamber after her marriage to George Gifford or Giffard (b.1552), a courtier, at some point during the 1570s. Gifford was arrested on August 23, 1586 on charges of dealing with Jesuits, but he was released by the end of that year. After that he was much abroad. I have not been able to discover when either Eleanor or her husband died.¹

Katherine Brydges

Katherine Brydges was the daughter of Edmund Brydges, 2nd baron Chandos (d. September 11, 1573) and Dorothy Bray (c.1524-October 31,1605). She went to court with her sister Eleanor to be maids of honor to Queen Elizabeth. She was considered the most beautiful of that group and a poem by George Gascoigne (d.1577), “In Prayse of Bridges,” called her the damsel at court who “doth most excell” and praised “her sweet face.” In 1573 she married William Sandys, 3rd baron Sandys of the Vyne (c.1545-September 29, 1623). They had a daughter, Elizabeth.¹

Frances Walsingham

Frances Walsingham was Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth and the wife of Sir Philip Sydney. Her second husband was the Earl of Essex. She was the daughter of Francis Walsingham, who was a trusted adviser of Queen Elizabeth. He is best known as Elizabeth’s “spymaster.”

In 1590 Frances married her second husband, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. The match caused great displeasure to the Queen Elizabeth, partly because Essex was the stepson of her lifelong favorite, Robert Dudley and partly because Elizabeth herself had a crush on Robert Devereux.

In 1601, Robert Devereux was executed after participating in an attempted coup against Elizabeth. Frances and Robert had three children who survived infancy:  Frances, Robert and Dorothy. Robert became the 3rd Earl of Essex.

Frances Walsingham

Elizabeth Brydges

Elizabeth Brydges was Maid of Honour to Queen Elizabeth and was at court in 1603 when Queen Elizabeth died and was included in Queen Elizabeth’s funeral procession.

Elizabeth Brydges


¹Emerson, Kate; A Who’s Who of Tudor Women

²Quoted from: http://www.elizabethfiles.com/elizabeth-and-the-two-katherines/3028/#ixzz40Bnp1MdG


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The Scandalous Life of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

Raised in the home of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Edward de Vere became a ward of Queen Elizabeth I. Edward was born 12 April 1550, at Hedingham Castle, England to John de Vere, 16th earl of Oxford, and Margery Golding.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

At the age of twelve, Edward’s father died and he inherited the titles of Lord Great Chamberlain and 17th Earl of Oxford.

Having grown up in the household of Lord Burghley, Edward de Vere eventually married his daughter Anne Cecil in 1571. Anne, who had originally been promised to Sir Philip Sidney, is said to have fallen in love with de Vere and that is why she married him instead of Sidney. It was around this time that he came to court and became a favorite of Queen Elizabeth.

The Beginning of His Trouble

In 1572, de Vere fled the English court after a failed attempt to rescue Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, his cousin. Norfolk was instead executed on the 2nd of June 1572. Not long after he was returned to favor at the English court – most likely because he was a favorite of the queen.

In 1575, he was granted travel to Europe and spent much of his time in Italy, later becoming known at court as the “Italian Earl” for his dress and affectations. Upon his return, he separated from Anne, believing she had been unfaithful.¹

After those years spent in Italy, de Vere became an advocate of Catholicism, which estranged him from his wife Anne and his father-in-law, Lord Burghley. Even so, de Vere did not lose favor with the queen.

Another Woman

Eventually, in 1581, Queen Elizabeth sent him to the Tower of London after it was discovered that he had impregnated Anne Vavasour – one of the queen’s ladies-in-waiting. He was released from the Tower after he promised he would return to his wife, Anne Cecil.

Anne Vavasour

Never one to live a dull life, de Vere fought a duel with a cousin of Anne Vavasour – this duel resulted in the death of several servants.

Soon (after the marriage with Anne Cecil), however, Oxford neglected his wife, spending all his time at court flirting with the queen and with other ladies. He blamed his father-in-law for failing to obtain the freedom of his kinsman, the duke of Norfolk, who was executed in 1572, and by May 1573 there was open hostility between Oxford and Lady Burghley. Oxford swore “to ruin the Lord Treasurer’s daughter,” casting doubt on her honor. This careless talk came back to haunt him when Ann gave birth to their first child, Elizabeth (July 2, 1575-1627) while Oxford was abroad. Lord Henry Howard, Norfolk’s brother, stirred up more trouble, and Ann was unable to convince her husband that the child was his. Apparently, part of the trouble was that Oxford was convinced that the gestation period was twelve months rather than nine. Surviving letters testify to her efforts and reveal her continuing love for him.²

Second Marriage

Anne Cecil, Edward de Vere’s first wife, died of a fever on the 5th of June 1588 – she was only 31 years old.

Three years later, in 1591, Edward married one of Queen Elizabeth’s ladies, Elizabeth Trentham – a court beauty. One could assume since he was a favorite of the queen’s that he would have been in contact with many of her ladies. Anne Vavasour was one of the queen’s ladies as well.  In 1593, his second wife gave birth to his only surviving son and heir, Henry.

Education, Death and Rumor

Edward was educated at Cambridge University, Queens’ College, St. John’s College, Cambridge University and became a noted Elizabethan courtier and poet.

De Vere died on the 24th of June 1604 of unknown causes.

In the 20th century, de Vere became a leading candidate for authoring the play that have traditionally been attributed to William Shakespeare.


¹Biography of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
²Emerson, Kate; A Who’s Who of Tudor Women


Encyclopedia of Tudor England
Biography of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
Encyclopedia Britannica – Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford
Wikipedia – Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

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Interesting Life of Elizabeth Brooke, Lady Northampton

As the daughter of George Brooke, 9th Baron of Cobham and Anne Bray, Elizabeth grew up familiar with court politics. Being born on 25 June 1526, during the reign of Henry VIII, she would have been around ten years old at the time of Anne Boleyn’s execution in 1536. Being at an impressionable age this should have been a great example to Elizabeth of what not to do as a woman at Tudor court, or one would think. Maybe she didn’t understand what was going on at the time.

It is believed that in 1543, that Elizabeth was at the court of Henry VIII – this was at the time when Katherine Parr was queen consort. It was the queen’s brother, William Parr, Marquis of Northampton that made the most impact on Elizabeth and they fell in love. The only problem was that William was still married. Even though he had repudiated his wife for adultery years earlier, he was married nonetheless, and that was obviously a road block for Elizabeth. Parr’s first wife, Anne Bourchier had reportedly eloped with her lover and then had a child that Parr was unsure was his. This was when they became estranged.

Elizabeth Brooke

In 1547, Elizabeth privately married William Parr and they began living together. When those in power discovered this (Edward Seymour, Lord Protector) they were ordered to separate. Elizabeth was sent to live with the dowager queen, Katherine Parr who was at that point married to Thomas Seymour. Elizabeth stayed with the couple until April 1548 when her marriage to William was declared valid.

When the Edward Seymour was ousted in place of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, Elizabeth appeared to thrive at court:

Elisabeth dazzled as the marchioness of Northampton, hosting parties, charming ambassadors and being the light of the court. Still only around twenty-five, Elisabeth had reason to be very happy indeed. She had obtained a very high rank, and she was now an influential woman at court, the friend of the regent and the aunt of the King. As Northumberland’s wife had little interest in leading the court festivities, it was Elisabeth who performed the duties that usually went to a queen – and she performed them admirably.¹

Elizabeth appears to have been involved in the matchmaking which brought together the marriage of Lady Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley – Elizabeth was friends with Frances Brandon and Jane Guildford. Some have stated that they believe that Elizabeth accompanied Jane to the Tower of London to await her coronation. A place she would never leave until her execution in 1554.

British School; William Parr, Marquis of Northampton

Things began to turn sour for Elizabeth when Northumberland was defeated. Her husband, William Parr, Marquis of Northampton was arrested, tried and eventually sentenced to death for his part in placing Lady Jane Grey on the throne after the accession of Mary I. He lost all his titles and land He was eventually pardoned but the damage had already been done – he had also lost Elizabeth by the repeal Act of 1552².

Elizabeth was forced to borrow money to survive. It is assumed that we moved back in with her mother or brother William.

When William Parr was released from the Tower for a second time in 1554, Elizabeth was reunited with him. It was noted that the two were godparents to Elizabeth Cavendish and that is how we know when they reunited because she was born in 1555. Unfortunately, the coupled remained rather destitute throughout the reign of Queen Mary I and didn’t come out of the darkness until after Elizabeth Tudor became Queen of England.

In 1559, Queen Elizabeth restored Parr as Marquis of Northampton and Elizabeth became one her closest lady friends. They were so close that when Elizabeth, Lady Northampton became ill the queen came to her side and spent the day with her.

In 1564, Elizabeth Parr developed breast cancer – she hoped to find a cure and even traveled to Antwerp in hopes of finding one. Unfortunately, they did not. Elizabeth died on the 2nd of April 1565 at the age of 39 and Queen Elizabeth was devastated and paid for her friend’s funeral.


¹ Wikipedia Page for Elisabeth Parr
² Emerson, Kate; Index to A Who’s Who of Tudor Women – Elizabeth Brooke


Emerson, Kate; Index to A Who’s Who of Tudor Women
James, Susan; Kateryn Parr: The Making of a Queen

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Letter to Lord Lisle about the Executions of May 1536

A letter regarding the executions that occurred in May 1536 is not uncommon. This letter was written by John Husee who was best known as the personal agent of Arthur Plantagenet, Lord Lisle. If you are not familiar with who Lord Lisle was then you should know that he was the illegitimate son of King Edward IV – this made him uncle to Henry VIII. Lisle was governor of Calais from 1533-1540.

The execution of Anne Boleyn and the other innocent victims was well-known. This letter is written as fact with no opinion attached. One was not allowed to speak against the king and so unable to voice an opinion, especially in writing – where your words could be interceded by a member or spy of Henry’s court.

Letter from John Husee to Lord Lisle, 19 May 1536:

Pleaseth your lordship to be advertised that I have received your letter, with the spurs; and notwithstanding that I have waited diligently, and made all the friendship that I can make, I can hitherto find no ways to come to the King’s presence. His Grace came not abroad (except it were in the garden, and in his boat at night, at which times it may become no man to prevent him) these xxiij days. So that I have been, and yet am, at a bay. I trust ere it be long, seeing that these matters of execution are past, to speak with his Grace, and then deliver your spurs according to your lordship’s writing.

The Lord Rochford, Mr. Norris, Brereton, Weston and Markes suffered with the axe upon the scaffold at Tower Hill on Wednesday the xvijth of this instant, which died very charitably. And Anne the late Queen suffered with sword this day, within the Tower, upon a new scaffold; and died boldly. Jesu take them to his mercy if it be his will.

…And now I trust to have more leisure with Mr. Secretary to put him in remembrance to motion the King’s Highness even according as he promised to do for the obtaining of something toward your lordship’s living. For in case he will be your lordship’s friend you should speed the better, undoubtedly, in all your proceedings. I will to-morrow be in hand with him and present him your brews, and then also declare unto him the matter concerning the marsh. Your lordship may be well assured that I will do as much in preferring and soliciting your causes as I may, and that ere it be now x days, to an end your lordship shall know by some likelihood how to speed…

Your hosen shall be sent within this vj days. And touching Mr. Page and Mr. Wyat, they remain still in the Tower. What shall become of them, God knowest best. The most part of the late Queen’s servants be set at liberty to seek service at pleasure. Mr. Aylmer shall show your lordship something by mouth which I will not now write. And thus I beseech Jesus send your lordship once a quiet living to your most noble heart’s contention.

From London, the xixth day of May

I can yet get no answer concerning the friar.

Your lordship’s bounden during life,

John Husee

The news that Husee said, “Mr. Aylmer shall show your lordship something by mouth which I will not now write” is in reference to the King’s marriage to Jane Seymour. The day after Anne’s execution Henry was formally betrothed to Jane.


The Lisle Letters – edited by Muriel St. Clare Byrne; pages 165-166

Encyclopedia of Tudor England; pages 632-633

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