Elizabeth, Queen of England (Part Five)

Missed the previous parts in this series? You can find the previous four articles HEREand the podcasts HERE

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Elizabeth, Queen of England – Elizabeth’s Ladies

By mid-January 1559 Elizabeth had her household set, rightfully so, she was officially crowned Queen of England. Her group of tightly knit ladies were referred to as the old flock of Hatfield.

Instead of the Catholic ladies in Queen Marys household like Wharton, Waldegrave, Cornwallis, Babington, Dormer and Southwell, Elizabeth replaced them with her cousins, the ladies Carey, Knollys and Ashley; As well as the daughters and wives of those men who served her, such as the ladies Cecil, Throckmorton, Warner, Cheke and Benger.

Loyal Servants

Of course, those ladies who had served her throughout her life would stay involved now that she was Queen. Kat Ashley and Blanche Parry to name two. Blanche has been reported to have served Elizabeth from the time she was in the cradle until she died in 1590.

Ashley was almost immediately appointed her Chief Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber – this position was the most prestigious post within Elizabeths household because it gave her complete access to the sovereign. Kat was nearly always by the Queens side, even at night she was right there sleeping on a pallet bed in Elizabeths bedchamber. Not only was she responsible for the care of the Queen but she was also responsible for overseeing all the other ladies of the privy chamber.

Blanche Parry was appointed second Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber and was also (due to her fondness for literature) the keeper of the Queens books.

There were two other ladies from Elizabeths time at Hatfield that found a place in her household as Queen, they were: Lady Elizabeth Fiennes de Clinton, who was appointed Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber and Elizabeth St. Loe or Bess of Hardwick. Hardwick, who, at the age of thirty-one was one of the oldest member of the Queens household.

Lady Anne Russell was one the youngest ladies to serve the Queen, she was merely ten years old when she was appointed Maid of Honor.

Elizabeth didnt only show favor to the women who had served her in the past but also some of the women who had served her stepmother, Kateryn Parr. Mrs. Eglionby was appointed mother of the maids and Elizabeth Carew was also given a noteworthy position as well.

No Women Allowed

Interestingly enough, if you were a woman and were not a member of the Queens household you were not welcome at court. Male courtiers were discouraged from bringing their wives to court because this would ruin the image that Elizabeth wanted as the most attractive and desired woman at court. This would explain why Amy Robsart was not at court with her husband Robert Dudley – it wasnt only that the Queen was jealous of her relationship with her favorite, she felt that way about all the ladies except for the ones who were her servants.

Elizabeth even decreased the number of women who normally served the queen from twenty to only eleven. There were now only six maids of honor – the lowest number of female attendants in nearly forty years.

Various Positions in the Queen’s Household

Ive had a few of you ask me on Facebook about the different positions that women held in the Queens household and what they were responsible for – here is an idea:

The ladies of the privy chamber attended the queens daily needs such as washing, dressing and serving at the table.

The queens chamberers would perform more menial tasks such as arranging bedding and cleaning the queens private chambers.

If you were a maid of honor to the Queen this meant that you were unmarried and attended the Queen in public and would carry her long train. A maid of honor was also responsible for entertaining her by singing, dancing and reading to her. These girls were supervised by the Mother of Maids.

The ladies in waiting to the queen were women who were sometimes connected to the privy chamber and held their position due to their experience or their husbands position at court.

When these women joined the queens office they had to swear the ceremonial oath. This oath was used to form a bond of allegiance between the ladies and their queen.

Queen Elizabeth was very concerned about matters of personal cleanliness by the standards of the day. She was known to take regular baths in a tub that was specially made for her. This tub would travel with her from palace to palace – Elizabeth clearly liked to be clean. If for some reason her tub was unavailable, or time did not allow for it, her ladies would clean her with wet cloths that were soaked in pewter bowls. As far as dental hygiene I covered this in an article once and author Tracy Borman states that Elizabeth would clean her teeth with a concoction of white wine and vinegar boiled up with honey which would be rubbed on with fine cloths.

The duty of preparing the Queen each day would take hours – from bathing to dressing and hair, all had to be just right.

Elizabeth, like her father Henry VIII, did not handle illness well. In her lifetime, it had been noted that stress caused Elizabeth to suffer from headaches, breathlessness, stomach aches and insomnia. She was also known to rail against her ladies and doctors insisting she was fine because she perceived illness as weakness. This must have been hell for Elizabeth when she contracted smallpox in 1562.

It was at Hampton Court Palace on the 10th of October 1562 that Elizabeth began to feel unwell. After immersing herself in a bath and taking a walk outdoors (which resulted in a chill) Elizabeth took to her bed with a fever. A German physician by the name of Dr. Burcot was summoned to examine the queen. His diagnosis was smallpox even though she had no tell-tale spots on her skin. Elizabeth called him a fool and dismissed him.

Smallpox and Sickness

By the 16th of October the Queen was gravely ill. She was incapable of speech and would appear to pass out for stretches up to twenty-four hours. The royal doctors feared she would die and sent for Cecil.

The Queens cousin, Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon persuaded the humiliated Dr. Burcot to return (some reported by dagger) to the Queens side. The doctor ordered that Elizabeth be wrapped in red flannel, laid on a pallet bed by the fire and be given a potion that he had created. Merely two hours later Elizabeth was alert and speaking. Clearly Dr. Burcot was no fool.

By her side through it all (until she became ill herself) was Robert Dudleys sister, Mary Sidney. Sidneys case was much worse than the Queens and she was badly disfigured by her illness. Her husband, Sir Henry Sidney said:

When I went to Newhaven I left her a full fair lady in mine eye at least the fairest, and when I returned I found her as foul a lady as the smallpox could make her, which she did take by continual attendance of her majestys most precious person (sick of the same disease) the scars of which (to her resolute discomfort) ever since hath done and doth remain in her face, so as she liveth solitary like a night-raven in the house more to my charge then if we had boarded together as we did before that evil accident happened.

Mary Sidney is listed a one of Queen Elizabeths Gentlewomen of the Privy Chamber and makes one wonder if she was the one who attended to the Queen because of her closeness to Robert. Surely, in the big picture, this did not benefit Mary at all. She and her husband served the Queen for many, many years and felt this deserved more rewards than they received.

The Queen’s Activities

When Elizabeths health was good her favorite past time was dancing. She loved to show off her skills by performing such beautiful and complicated dances such as the galliard and volta. Elizabeth would spend long hours with her ladies rehearsing the steps until they were performed to perfection.

In the evenings, when Elizabeth retired to her private apartments, her ladies would attend to her every need. They would carefully unpin her hair, undress her and remove her makeup. The Queen undone was something only her ladies were allowed to see. This is why it was such a big deal years later when the Earl of Sussex (Lettice Knollys son) burst into the Queens bedchamber to witness her in this state.

Compensation and Treatment of her Ladies

To serve the Queen was not a lucrative career – it was mostly for the prestige and favor by the Queen. Their pay was considered moderate. Maids of honor and ladies of the presence-chamber were seldom paid at all, while ladies of the privy chamber and bedchamber receive an annual salary of roughly 33 pounds or the equivalent of around 7,000 pounds today.

Not only did they lack pay, or receive very little pay, but their meals usually consisted of leftovers from the Queens meals.

While most of the women in her household were unpaid or little paid they were regularly receive clothing, jewelry and other gifts from their mistress.

Their living quarters were also very cramped and uncomfortable. While sanitation was poor there were no bathrooms or flushing toilets available to them like there was to the Queen. The court, as a result, would have had a foul smell. When this would happen the Queen and her entourage would regularly move or travel to allow for a thorough cleaning of the palace to have the human waste disposed of before they returned.

Elizabeth was also noted as treating her ladies very similarly to how her mother had – if any of her ladies failed to perform any of their duties properly the Queen would fly into a rage and punish them with slaps or blows. Author Tracy Borman says in Elizabeths Women, When one poor lady was clumsy in serving her at table, Elizabeth stabbed her in the hand and that one foreign visitor to court observed: She is a haughty woman, falling easily into rebuke…She thinks highly of herself and has little regard for her servants and Council, being of opinion that she is far wiser than they; she mocks them and often cries out upon them.

Elizabeth had the temper of her father and all the charm and charisma of her mother.

Going Against the Queen

The downside of being a close servant to the Queen was that she controlled your fate. Ive discussed this several times – that I find it completely selfish and unnecessary for Elizabeth to hate when her ladies married. One of the ladies who served Elizabeth learned the hard way to not cross the Queen – Elizabeth Throckmorton.

In 1584, at the age of 19, Elizabeth Bess Throckmorton went to court and became a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth. Eventually she became Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber. She was responsible for dressing the Queen. A very intimate job, indeed.

Bess and her younger brother, Arthur were both courtiers during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Bess had been described by her contemporaries as “intelligent, forthright, passionate, and courageous.

After six years at court (roughly 25 years old) the still single Bess met Walter Raleigh who was quickly becoming one of the Queen Elizabeths favorites. As a lady to the Queen it was necessary for Bess to get permission to be courted. The Queen must also give her approval of any man who wished to court one of her ladies because they were supposed to be seen as extremely virtuous women. Throckmorton and Raleigh clearly believed they would not get permission and began a secret and intimate relationship.

By July 1591, Bess Throckmorton was pregnant she secretly wed Raleigh and understood the seriousness of getting married without permission from Elizabeth. If she did not marry then her child would be considered a bastard. So really, at that point, she didnt have a choice.

Bess must have been aware of the danger in having the Queen discover she was pregnant AND married that she somehow obtained permission to leave court to stay at her brother Arthurs home in London. It is there that she gave birth to a son in March 1592.

Not long after she returned to court only to have the Queen discover all that had happened behind her back. Both Throckmorton and Raleigh were thrown in the Tower of London. In October, at only six months old, the couples son died of the plague and Queen Elizabeth chose to release the couple from the Tower. She never forgave Bess Throckmorton for her betrayal and Raleigh was ordered not to be seen at court for one year.

The fate of Bess Throckmorton mirrors that of Lettice Knollys after her secret marriage to Robert Dudley. Both women fell in love with the Queens favorite, married secretly and fell from favor. However, both women appear to have found love despite the loss of favor from their Queen. This is something that the Queen would never have.

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 Queens 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.

Frances Walsingham was Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth and the wife of Sir Philip Sydney. She was the daughter of Francis Walsingham, who was a trusted adviser of Queen Elizabeth. He is best known as Elizabeths 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 son of Lettice Knollys and partly because Elizabeth herself had a crush on Robert Devereux herself.

Then we look at Catherine Carey, cousin (or possibly sister) to the Queen. Catherine and her husband Francis Knollys were both loyal servants to the Queen. Francis was always at the will of the Queen, even when his wife was on her deathbed and he begged to be by her side – the Queen would not allow him to come home. Even Catherine requested her husband to be by her said, to no avail.

My Opinion of the Queen

Throughout my years of researching the Tudors Ive always said that Elizabeth is my least favorite Tudor monarch and this article, in my opinion is the perfect example of why. I understand those of you who love her because she was a strong female ruler, or because she brought peace and prosperity to England. My response to that is: Sure, yes, she was all those things, but that does not mean she was a nice person. In my opinion, she was just like her father. She was selfish, moody and unjust.

The next article on Elizabeth will be my last in this series and I havent quite figured out where Im going to go with that one yet. Stay Tuned!

Read Part Six HERE / Listen to Part Six Here


Borman, Tracy. Elizabeths Woman (Bantam Books, 2009)
MacCaffrey, Wallace T. The Shaping of the Elizabethan Regime – Elizabethan Politics, 1558-1572 (Princeton University Press, 1968)
Weir, Alison. The Life of Elizabeth I (Ballantine Books, 1998)

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The Ladies Who Served Anne Boleyn

Tudor court at the time of Anne Boleyn’s rise must have been a very exciting place to be – if you were a supporter of Henry’s new love that is. When Anne Boleyn began to build a household the excitement must have been palpable. So much youth restored at court once again – laughter, love and other courtly adventures.

Today we take a look at the ladies who served Anne Boleyn. This is not all the ladies, only the ones I was able to find with the help of the wonderful Kate Emerson and her website: Index to ‘A Who’s Who of Tudor Women. Her website is well researched and organized for anyone to use and I’d highly recommend you take some time to check it out.

Jane (Joan) Ashley

Jane is listed as a maid of honor to Anne Boleyn in January 1534. She was definitely a maid of honor to Queen Jane Seymour, and then married Peter Mewtas (Meautas, Meautys, de Meautis) in 1537 (before October 9). In 1540 and 1541,

Jane was apparently in the household of Prince Edward. Henry VIII’s household accounts list the expense of 10s for “a dozen handkerchiefs garnished with gold” in each of those years.

Jane’s husband was knighted in 1544. Their children were Cecily, Frances, Henry, Thomas, and Hercules.

Mary Aucher

A lady called Anne Boleyn’s “old nurse” is believed to be Mary Orchard/Aucher, who later became a chamberer in Anne’s household and was with her at the end of her life in the Tower of London.

The identity of this woman is unknown, as is her marital status, but it seems likely that she was a connection of the Boleyn family through the marriage of Isabel Boleyn (d. April 23, 1485), Anne’s father’s paternal aunt, to Henry Aucher of Otterden, Kent. The name is also spelled Orcher. According to Alison Weir’s, The Lady in the Tower, Mrs. Orchard was in the gallery at the trial of Anne Boleyn when the Duke of Norfolk condemned Anne to be burned or beheaded at King Henry’s pleasure. At those words, she “shrieked out dreadfully.”

Isabel Agard

Isabel Agard was a member of the Agard family of Foston, Staffordshire. She married John Stonor (1480-1550). She may be the Mrs. Stonor who was with Anne Boleyn in the Tower of London in 1536 and/or the Mrs. Stonor who was Mother of Maids under Henry VIII’s next four queens. See the entry for Isabel’s sister-in-law, Margaret Foliot for more speculation on this identification. Isabel was the mother of Francis Stonor (1520-1564) and Henry Stonor. Retha Warnicke identifies Mrs. Stonor as “perhaps the wife of John, the king’s sergeant at arms,” in her. The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn.

Mary Boleyn

Mary was the older sister of Anne and also George Boleyn, Lord Rochford. She accompanied Princess Mary Tudor to France in 1513 and afteer the death King Louis XII of Frances Mary served the next queen consort, Queen Claude.

Learn more about Mary Boleyn by reading these earlier posts about her:

Mary Boleyn – Guest post by Susan Abernethy

Mary Boleyn Loses First Husband to Sweating Sickness by Rebecca Larson

The Downside of Marrying for Love: Mary Boleyn by Rebecca Larson

The Tudors Dynasty Podcast: The Sisters Boleyn with Christine Morgan

Mary Boleyn

*Portrait: there is no authenticated portrait but six versions exist of one in the school of Hans Holbein that is called Mary Boleyn, including copies at Hever Castle and Holyroodhouse; a miniature is also unconfirmed.

Anne Bray

The daughter of Edmund Bray, 1st baron Bray and Jane Hallighwell, Anne Bray was married to George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham.

Barbara Harris in her work on aristocratic women names Anne, Lady Cobham as one of Anne Boleyn’s first accusers but M. St. Clare Byrne argues that Lady Lisle’s man in London, John Husee, would not have referred to a noblewoman as “Nan Cobham” and therefore he must have meant some other person, probably someone lower on the social ladder. Lady Cobham was in Anne Boleyn’s coronation procession and was one of Queen Jane Seymour’s ladies. According to David McKeen’s A Memory of Honour: the life of William Brooke, Lord Cobham, Lady Cobham was at Cobham Hall in July 1545 but shortly afterward joined her husband in Calais. They lived in the Lord Deputy’s residence there for the next five years. In 1554, when her husband and sons were imprisoned in the Tower of London after Wyatt’s rebellion, Lady Cobham was given permission to visit them there.

Public Domain Image – Tomb of George and Anne Brooke, Baron and Baroness Cobham, in St Mary Magdalene parish church, Cobham, Kent

Elizabeth Browne

Elizabeth Browne was the daughter of Sir Anthony Browne and Lucy Neville. She married by 1527, Henry Somerset, 2nd earl of Worcester.

Elizabeth was at court in the household of Anne Boleyn and seems to have been a friend of queen’s. It was noted that on the 8th of April 1536, she borrowed £100 from the queen. At the time of Anne Boleyn’s arrest Elizabeth Browne had not repaired her.

An unsubstantiated story has Elizabeth taken to task for immorality by her brother, Sir Anthony Browne (1500-1548) and responding that she was “no worse than the queen.” One variation on this story identifies Elizabeth as King Henry VIII’s former mistress and has her specifying that her brother should talk to Mark Smeaton and one of the queen’s gentlewomen called Marguerite for details on the queen’s misconduct. Another version has Lady Worcester issuing the reprimand and an unidentified woman comparing herself to the queen. The source appears to be a poem dated June 2, 1536 and written by Lancelot de Carles, a member of the French embassy to England. Gossip prevalent at the time of Queen Anne’s arrest did mention Lady Worcester as a source of some of the accusations against her, but specifics are elusive. Similarly, comments Queen Anne made during her imprisonment are open to various interpretations.

Nan Cobham

It is still uncertain who Nan Cobham could be. There has been speculation over the years regarding her identity but no concrete answers to solve the mystery.

According to a letter from John Husee, viscount Lisle’s man of business in London, dated 24 May 1536, “the first accusers” against Queen Anne Boleyn were “the Lady Worcester, and NanCobham and one maid more.” Lady Worcester was Elizabeth Browne, wife of the earl of Worcester, but “Nan Cobham” is more difficult to identify. As M. St. Clare Byrne points out in The Lisle Letters, it seems unlikely that Husee would refer to Anne Brooke (née Bray), Lady Cobham so familiarly. So who is the “Mrs. Cobham” among the queen’s gentlewomen who received a New Year’s gift from the king in 1534? Is she the same “Anne Cobham” who was one of Katherine Parr’s gentlewomen in 1547? Or was that Anne Bray? There was an Anne Cobham, widow (not Anne Bray) who, in 1540, was granted some of the lands formerly belonging to Syon Abbey. There was also a Cobham family in Dingley, Hampshire. An Anne Cobham from there married John Norwich (c.1497-before 1553) around 1518. And yet another Anne Cobham (1467-June 26, 1526) was the wife of Edward, 2nd Lord Borough. Just to complicate matters, members of the Brooke family sometimes used Cobham as a surname. The practice was not unique. It is also found in the Fiennes/Clinton, West/de la Warr, and Sutton/Dudley families. Retha Warnicke, in The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn, suggests that Nan Cobham may have been the queen’s midwife. In the January 1534 list of Anne’s ladies, Mrs. Cobham is listed eighth after the “mistress of the maidens” and the seven names before hers are those of maidens, not married women, but that may or may not be significant.

Frances de Vere

Frances de Vere was the daughter of John de Vere, 15th earl of Oxford and Elizabeth Trussell. Frances married Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey in April 1532. Frances and Henry lived apart until 1535 because of their youth.

Alison Weir in Henry VIII: The King and his Court, states that Anne Boleyn arranged the match over the objections of the duchess of Norfolk and that Frances was at court as one of Anne’s ladies from 1533.

Frances was also noted to have been at the court of Katherine Howard, however, there is no evidence of her at court after the queen’s execution. Katherine gave her a brooch set with tiny diamonds and rubies.

According to one of her grandsons biographers, Frances also wrote poetry (like her husband the Earl of Surrey). Her children were Jane, Thomas, Catherine, Henry, and Margaret. Frances miscarried in 1547, the year her husband was executed for treason. She was ill for some time afterward.

They lived at the manor of Earl Soham near Framlingham Castle, returned to her from her first husband’s estate by Edward VI. She was granted nine manors by the duke of Norfolk, her father-in-law, after his restoration in 1553. They were worth £353/year. In July 1554, Frances represented Queen Mary at the christening of the French ambassador’s son and in December 1557 she was chief mourner at the funeral of her sister-in-law, Mary Howard.

Frances de Vere, Lady Surrey

Elizabeth Holland

Elizabeth Holland was the daughter (some sources say the sister) of John Holland of Wartwell Hall in Redenhall, Norfolk and a kinswoman, probably a niece, of John Hussey, 1st baron Hussey of Sleaford.

John Holland was the duke of Norfolk’s secretary and one of his stewards and Elizabeth, known as Bess, was also part of the ducal household at Kenninghall in 1526. At that time, Thomas Howard, 3rd duke of Norfolk noticed her and she became his mistress.

Because of the letters left by the duchess of Norfolk (Elizabeth Stafford), there is a good deal of confusion about Bess Holland. Since she was a gentlewoman, she was probably not a laundress in the household, or the children’s nurse. She may have been their governess. She was certainly on good terms with Mary Howard, Norfolk’s daughter.

When Anne Boleyn was created Marquess of Pembroke, Bess Holland was one of her maids of honor and she was still at court in 1537, when she rode in the funeral cortege of Queen Jane Seymour.

The records left by the duchess of Norfolk paint Bess Holland as a villainess and the duke as a monster, but the truth is probably less dramatic. Bess was his mistress for some twenty years. In December 1546, however, when both the duke and his son, Henry Howard, earl of Surrey, were charged with treason, Bess gave evidence against them. She probably had no choice.

Margery Horsman

Margery Horsman was a maid of honor to Henry VIII’s first three queens and a member of the households of the last three, although in some accounts of Anne Boleyn’s life, she is identified as “of the queen’s wardrobe.”

In the January 1534 list, hers is the seventh name after Mrs. Marshall, “mistress of the maidens.” If there were only six maids of honor, this may indicated she held another position. Or not. She was probably the “one maiden more” who was the third of three women to make accusations against Anne Boleyn in 1536. Edward Baynton recorded that “Mistress Margery” first assisted him and then became uncooperative, which fits with a report by Sir William Kingston that suggests she was loyal to the queen. Margery may also be the “Marguerite” mentioned as a witness in some reports. And she may have been with Anne Boleyn in the Tower. What is certain is that when Jane Seymour was queen, Margery offered advice to Lady Lisle about placing her daughters at court and appears a number of times in the Lisle letters. In particular, she advised that Anne Bassett, Lady Lisle’s daughter, was too young at fifteen to serve as a maid of honor to Queen Jane. Margery married Sir Michael Lister of Hurstbourne, Hampshire (d.1551), as his second wife, on June 27, 1537 and with her husband served jointly as Keeper of the Queen’s Jewels. She had two children, Charles (d. November 26, 1613) and Lawrence. Portrait: The portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger labeled Lady Lister is probably Margery’s mother-in-law, Isabel Shirley, but I include it here on the off chance it is Margery instead.

Mary Howard

Mary Howard was the daughter of Thomas Howard, 3rd duke of Norfolk and Elizabeth Stafford. By birth she was part of two very noble families in the realm, the Howards and the Staffords.

Mary was a maid of honor to her cousin, Anne Boleyn and married Henry Fitzroy, duke of Richmond (illegitimate, yet acknowledged son of Henry VIII) at Hampton Court on 26 November 1533.

For more reading about Mary Howard, see our previous post about here:

Mary Howard: Bold Disobedience by Rebecca Larson

Tudors Dynasty Podcast: Too Wise for a Woman

Mary Howard

Elizabeth Isley

Elizabeth Isley was the daughter of Sir Thomas Isley and Elizabeth Guildford.

Her first husband was Richard Hill who was a wine merchant and master of Henry VIII’s wine cellar. It is believed that Elizabeth had ten or eleven children. Among them were Mary, Margaret, Frances, Anne, and Richard.

“Mrs. Hillis” is listed as one of Anne Boleyn’s ladies in January 1534 and it is tempting to think that this may have been Elizabeth Isley.

After the death of her first husband, Elizabeth remarried in 1540 to Sir John Mason who served in a number of civic posts, including ambassador to the court at Brussels under Mary Tudor.

Elizabeth was with him when he served in France. Together they had one son, Thomas.

Grace Newport

Grace Newport was the daughter of John Newport and Mary Daniel. Married at the age of eight to Henry Parker (on May 18, 1523, Grace was the mother of Henry, 9th baron Morley, Charles, Edmund, Mary, Margaret, and Ann (or Amy).

According to Alison Weir’s Henry VIII: The King and His Court, she was one of Anne Boleyn’s ladies in waiting from 1533. Portrait: Grace is generally accepted to be the subject of the Holbein drawing inscribed The Lady Parker.

Grace Newport, Lady Parker

Mary Norris

Mary Norris was the daughter of Sir Henry Norris (who was executed 17 May 1536) and Mary Fiennes and was born around 1526.

It is believed that Mary was was a maid of honor to Anne Boleyn (she would have been fairly young in that position). It is more commonly believed that she served Jane Seymour – most definitely to Anne of Cleves and probably to Katherine Howard.

It was also noted that there was a Mary ‘Norice’ in Elizabeth Tudor’s household around 1536, and this may also be the same woman.

By February 1, 1541, Mary married Sir George Carew, Vice Admiral of the English fleet and was at Southsea Castle with the king in 1545, watching the ship her husband was aboard, the Mary Rose, when it suddenly rolled over and sank. Lady Carew fainted. In armor, her husband had no hope of surviving.

Mary married a second time in 1546 to Sir Arthur Champernowne. She brought jointure lands worth £65/year to the marriage. With Sir Arthur she had five sons and one daughter: Gawen, Elizabeth, Philip, Charles, George, and Edward.

Jane Parker

Jane Parker was the daughter of Henry Parker, 8th baron Morley and Alice St. John but she is best known as Lady Rochford, wife and then widow of George Boleyn, Queen Anne’s brother, to whom she was married in 1525.

Further reading on Jane:

Jane Boleyn: Victim of History by Rebecca Larson

Anne Savage

Anne Savage was the daughter of Sir John Savage and Anne Bostock and born around 1496.

Anne’s description at TudorPlace.com.ar is a woman “of middling stature, with a comely brown complexion, and much tender-hearted with her children.” She was at court and apparently in the household of Anne Boleyn before Anne Boleyn was queen. She was one of only four or five people to witness Anne Boleyn’s marriage to Henry VIII on January 25, 1533 and was Anne Boleyn’s trainbearer.

For more on Anne being witness to the secret wedding read this previous post:

Witness to a Secret: Anne Savage by Rebecca Larson

Anne Savage did not remain long at the new queen’s court. In April 1533, she married Thomas, 6th Baron Berkeley, known as “the Hopeful.” They had a daughter, Elizabeth (1534-September 1, 1582) and nine weeks after her husband’s death, Anne gave birth to his son and heir, Thomas, 7th Baron Berkeley.

Lady Berkeley was an avid letter writer, and was written about as well. A number of these missives are still extant, including one to Lord Cromwell on May 1, 1535 to complain about the Court of Wards, which opposed the release of her jointure. A letter from John Barlow, dean of Westbury College, to Lord Cromwell, also in 1535, complains about Lady Berkeley’s interference in his attempt to prosecute a number of men who were caught playing tennis “in service time” (in other words, when they should have been in church). The incident occurred near where she was living in Yate, Gloucestershire and she actively rallied opposition to Barlow’s charges. Barlow had earlier had a run in with Lady Berkeley over some religious books found in her house, but since both Catholic and radical Protestant texts were equally frowned upon at this time, it is difficult to say what Lady Berkeley’s beliefs might have been.

Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour was the daughter of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth. She was the sister of Edward, Thomas, Henry, Elizabeth and Dorothy Seymour and mother of KIng Edward VI.

Jane came to court as a maid of honor under Katherine of Aragon and then to the household of the new queen, Anne Boleyn.

For more reading on Jane Seymour:

Jane Seymour’s Rise to the Throne by Rebecca Larson

Portraits of a Queen: Jane Seymour

The Other Lady: Jane Seymour 

Jane Seymour

Margaret Shelton

Known as ‘Madge’, Margaret Shelton was the daughter of Sir John Shelton and Anne Boleyn, who was the sister of Queen Anne Boleyn’s father, Thomas. Madge came to court as a maid of honor to her cousin, Queen Anne around 1535.

It is commonly believed that Madge Shelton had a brief affair with Henry VIII while he was married to her cousin.

Kimberley Schutte, in her biography of Lady Margaret Douglas, describes Madge Shelton as a “pretty girl with dimples . . . very gentle in countenance” and “soft of speech,” but she also seems to think Margaret and her sister Mary were the same person and further identifies Madge as the “handsome young lady at court” who may have been the king’s mistress in 1534.

The name “Mistress Shelton” next crops up in connection with the king in 1538, as both a potential mistress and in describing Christina of Milan, who was said to resemble her.

It is unlikely King Henry was considering making Margaret his mistress again in 1538, since she was by then married to Thomas Wodehouse or Woodhouse.

Margaret “Madge” Shelton

Mary Zouche

Mary Zouche was the daughter of John Zouche, 8th baron Zouche of Harringworth and his first wife, Dorothy Capell – she was born around 1512.

In about 1527, she wrote to her cousin, Sir John Arundell of Lanherne (Mary’s grandmother was Margaret Arundell, Sir John’s aunt), asking to be taken into royal service because her new stepmother (Susan Welby) was cruel to her. The letter was probably written before 1529. It is dated only “at Notwell, the 8th day of October.”

Mary Zouche was at court as a maid of honor possibly to Katherine of Aragon, but certainly to Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour.

A number of accounts say Mary never wed, but the will of Robert Burbage, identifies his late wife as “the eldest daughter of John Zouche, knight, Lord Zouche, Saint Maur and Cantelupe.” It would appear that they married shortly after the 1542 payment of her annuity, when Mary was about thirty years old. They had one daughter, Anne Burbage, who married William Goring in 1563.

Mary Zouche


An Index to a Who’s Who of Tudor Women by Kate Emerson

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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.

"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) andLettice 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 Cobhams 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 Margarets 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 honors 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, Margarets body proved all well and sound, saving certain strings striped all over her heart. She was buried in St. Margarets, Westminster.

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.

Margaret Russell

Margaret was a Maid of Honour to Queen Elizabeth. Her sister Anne was alsoMaid 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.

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.

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 Years 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.

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.

Elizabeth Knollys

Elizabeth Knollys was the daughter of Sir Francis Knollysand 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 Feckenhambut 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.

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.

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.

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 Franciss 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.

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 MacWilliamsof StambourneHall, 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.

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.

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.

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 Boleyns execution in 1536. Tracy Borman writes of how Kats intellect and her sense of fun appealed to the young Elizabeth and that she was an instant hit. Borman points out that Kats influence at an early stage of Elizabeths life must have had an effect on Elizabeths 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 Kats 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.


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 wasChief Gentlewoman of the Queen’sPrivy Chamber and Keeper of Her Majestys jewels.

Blanche knew Elizabeth for a combined 56 year. Shearrived at courtwith her aunt, Blanche Milborne, Lady Herbert ofTroy 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 Tudorchildren.

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.

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 Strongs The Cult of Elizabeth gives a detailed account of Annes 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 mothers tomb in Bisham Church.

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.Elizabethis 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.

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.

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 shebecame 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 was2,000 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 Francess 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.

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.

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.

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


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

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


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