Peyton Investigation and Main and Bye Plots

Recognizing the kinship based chain of connection that ran through the Essex Rebellion, Peyton Investigation, Main and Bye Plots and beyond can help us to develop a more comprehensive picture of the situation that Shakespeare and the Fair Youth faced at the end of Elizabeth’s reign and early in the rule of James I. The use of multiperspectivism – incorporating diverse viewpoints that may reflect on, counter or correct the standard account – can also help us to recover further details. 

In March of 1603 the health of Elizabeth I rapidly worsened. It soon became evident that England’s long reigning Queen Gloriana did not have long to live.


Queen Elizabeth I died on March 24th, 1603

Though the Queen had refused to address the matter of succession it was understood that her cousin King James VI of Scotland would ascend to the throne of England. Approximately 48 hours before Elizabeth passed away Henry Fiennes Clinton, 2nd Earl of Lincoln informed the Lieutenant of the Tower John Peyton of “an opposition against his Majesty’s title.”

Sir John Peyton2

Sir John Peyton, Lieutenant of the Tower of London

Lincoln did not want to divulge the identity of the “great nobleman” who “had dealt with him to join as a party in the action”, merely saying that “he had been invited… by a great nobleman to Hackney where he was extraordinarily feasted, at the which he much marveled for that there was no great correspondence between them, this nobleman having precedence of him in rank.” Lincoln suggested to Peyton that he “might know him, there being only but one of that quality dwelling there.”[1]

Lincoln did not happen to mention that the “conspirator” was his stepson’s father-in-law.

That nobleman in Hackney was Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.


Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, leading candidate for authorship of the Shakespearean works.

Oxford’s middle daughter Bridget had been married for four years to Lincoln’s stepson Francis, the Baron Norris of Rycote. After preparing for a career at court in the home of Lincoln’s mother-in-law, Bridget Morrison Manners Russell nee Hussey, dowager Countess of Rutland and Bedford, the teen aged Bridget de Vere had wed Norris, son of the Countess of Lincoln and second oldest grandson of Bridget Bedford (as the double dowager Countess styled her signature). [2]


Francis Norris, Baron of Rycote, later Earl of Berkshire

A few years earlier Lincoln had held his Countess in confinement under threat of death from the self-admitted murderer he assigned as her keeper while refusing to allow her to communicate with her son or mother. Sixty years before Bridget Bedford’s older half-sister Elizabeth, the Lady Hungerford, had suffered a particularly harrowing domestic imprisonment under threat of murder from the keeper that the Lord Hungerford had hired, even as they waited to hear of the execution of their father, John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford, Chief Butler of England and Chamberlain of Mary Tudor’s household. Bridget Bedford’s mother, born Anne Grey, daughter and sister of Earls of Kent, had previously spent four months in the Tower for insisting on calling Mary a princess despite that royal’s demotion to the title of lady. It was partly the cart of food that Lady Hussey had ceded to protestors in the Lincolnshire Rebellion that got her husband executed, though he had also given an estimate of the strength of the opposition party to an ambassador. In the last year of her life, Bridget Bedford must have been terribly distressed to see her daughter experiencing an ordeal so similar to what her sister had suffered sixty years earlier.

Her grandson Thomas Grey, the 15th Baron Grey of Wilton assisted his cousin Francis Norris by asking his mentor Robert Cecil to intervene, followed by a second and third appeal written respectively by Norris and his young wife to Cecil.[3] Robert Cecil had taken over the guardianship of his late sister’s daughters when his father the Lord Burghley passed away. After Bridget’s letter to her uncle and former guardian letters on the matter ceased but it was not surprising if the father of the bride and stepfather of the groom had little contact and less allegiance due to this and other estrangements. It is possible that Lincoln and Oxford were conducting “loyalty tests” on each other as Peyton frankly admitted that he did to Lincoln and as Lincoln was evidently conducting in return but it is also possible that Oxford was trying to repair a difficult in-law relationship and was struggling with acceptance of a Scotsman on the English throne.

After dinner, Lincoln claimed, Oxford in private conversation professed that “the nobility, being peers of the realm, were bound to take care for the common good of the state and the cause of succession” and suggested Lincoln send his nephew Henry Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon to obtain French support for a bid for the crown. Though he would know that Cecil promised the crown to James VI of Scotland, Oxford purportedly “inveighed much against the nation of the Scots, and began to enter into question of his Majesty’s title” before an agitated Lincoln terminated the talk.[4]

Lincoln had previously been in contact with the French Ambassador the Comte de Beaumont and his aide named Mr. Trudgion. The Frenchmen had approached him multiple times and through “divers persons” attempting to rent property in Chelsey. Lincoln later reported that he had “many discourses with Mr. Trudgion touching his majesty.” Trudgion spoke “doubtfully” of James’s “entry to be our king, and seemed to me rather to lean to the title of the Infanta ”, Lincoln wrote, suspecting that the French Trudgion wanted a member of the royal family in Spain to rule England. The Earl “did press him by the best means”, asking him to “to deliver his reasons.” According to Lincoln Trudgion claimed that Rome and the Kings of Spain and France had made a resolution to keep James out of England by force of war if he did not agree to “those articles in religion then resolved.”[5] To appearances Lincoln had not yet reported this crucial bit of intelligence. In any case all of great Catholic powers in  Europe supported James, heir of the martyred Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, but Lincoln would imply that Oxford was conspiring with the French to keep this Scotsman from claiming the English throne.[6]

By then the most powerful administrators in the country were the three close aides that James would call his “Trinity of Knaves”. Sir Robert Cecil was the brother of Oxford’s late wife and Henry and Thomas Howard were Oxford’s cousins, later created respectively as the Earls of Salisbury, Northampton and Suffolk.


Bottom R to L: Lord Secretary Sir Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury and Sir Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton



Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk



Catherine Knyvett, Countess of Suffolk, wife of Thomas Howard

Thomas Howard had already married Catherine Knyvett when Oxford wept at the foot of the throne in 1580 and renounced his adoption of the Roman Catholic faith, turning in Thomas’s uncle Henry Howard, their cousin Charles Arundel and another for what he implied was a more treasonous brand of Catholicism. Charles Arundel was a member of the secret association of Catholic Courtiers that was sponsoring the invasion force of two Jesuit priests and their assistants that had the entire country and the Privy Council in turmoil. This Jesuit mission to England was timed to coincide with 600 Spanish and Italian Papal troops invading Ireland, an attack repelled by the English Commander the 14th Baron Grey of Wilton, even as the charismatic Jesuit Edmund Campion made his first cloistered public address at the Lord Norris’s London estate, courtesy of his renter Lord Paget. The cousins Thomas Grey and Francis Norris were around then but not even school age yet. The secret society of Catholic Courtiers which had been blessed by the Pope stood guard over the premises and would supply the 1580s with a steady stream of plotters for schemes to assassinate or unseat Elizabeth including Charles Arundel, and even if he was never listed as an official member, Henry Howard.

The historian Richard Simpson presumed that Howard and Oxford were undocumented members of this secret society because after de Vere’s return from France and Italy four years before he had taken an oath with Henry Howard and Charles Arundel that was based on that of the Catholic League in Europe and which would be echoed in vows taken by the secret Catholic Courtier Group from 1579. Yet while there was a good deal of overlap with the group of courtiers who followed the Earls of Sussex and Oxford in promoting a French match for the Queen, and Oxford had by confession been a covert Roman Catholic, their crowd was not identical to this shadowy group supporting the Jesuits.[7] For instance the group supporting the French Match included Oxford’s father-in-law the Protestant Lord Burghley as well as one of Oxford’s  conformist friends Arthur Throckmorton (though the secret association was riddled with Arthur’s Catholic kinsmen). The Spanish Ambassador believed that the confession was delivered under pressure from the Queen’s  former paramour Lord Leicester who was fighting against the Queen marrying the French Catholic Duke of Anjou and Alencon and had run ins with both Oxford and Arthur Throckmorton during this period. Oxford’s admission that he had taken such an oath with Howard and Arundel was included because it clearly painted the dangers. This admission was a calculated tactic designed to raise the specter of the dreaded Catholic League which had terrorized France and assassinated protestant leaders. 

Henry Howard had served as a father figure for his orphaned nephew Thomas after the Duke of Norfolk was executed for plans to wed Elizabeth’s overthrown and imprisoned cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. An anguished Oxford had held his father-in-law Lord Burghley responsible for Norfolk’s death, putting aside his young bride in retribution even as he chose loyalty to the Queen. Now Oxford’s 1580 break with the Howard clan would have far reaching consequences for the Earl, starting with the flame war of sordid accusations that Howard and Arundel waged while lodged in the Tower.

It is important to note that in 1584 Lincoln’s son Thomas Clinton married Catherine Knyvett’s younger sister Elizabeth which made Lincoln’s heir a brother-in-law of Lord Thomas Howard.[8] The wives of Clinton and Howard were first cousins of Anne Vavasour, the maid-of-honor who was arrested and sent to the Tower of London for bearing Oxford’s illegitimate child in 1581 followed by the Earl’s own brief imprisonment.

Anne Vavasour

Anne Vavasour

These Knyvett women and Anne Vavasour were all nieces of Sir Thomas Knyvett who launched a vendetta against Oxford over the scandal. Thomas Howard’s older brother Philip, the Earl of Arundel, once had to be hauled into a boat by a servant to keep him from one of those running street battles which saw Knyvett and Oxford injured and several men killed.

If the stepson that Lincoln was possibly not very fond of had more recently married Oxford’s daughter, for nearly 20 years Lincoln’s oldest son and heir had been a member of this extended family that despised Edward de Vere. Oxford’s accusations appeared to have been vindicated by Howard and Arundel’s involvement in the Throckmorton Plot which threatened the life and crown of Elizabeth with a Spanish invasion not long before Clinton married into the family.


Lord Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton

Henry Howard was cited, with Francis Throckmorton, as the leader of this plot, though the noble was eventually released from prison while Throckmorton was tortured and executed and Charles Arundel forced to flee overseas. [9] The Howards were also cousins of Queen Elizabeth. By the time of the Queen’s death Howard had ascended to a position of power at court, aided by his nephew Thomas Howard and Sir Robert Cecil who had his own reasons to resent his late sister’s husband. Oxford’s old enemy Sir Thomas Knyvett had become Master of Arms and would continue a rise to power with the success of this alliance.

Lincoln had invited Peyton into a viper’s nest. The Lieutenant may have known of Oxford’s rocky history with those three kinsmen now running the country. He very possibly wondered why Lincoln did not have Thomas Clinton reach out to his brother-in-law for guidance. Later Peyton admitted a concern that the Earl of Lincoln was attempting to preserve deniability for himself in case his campaign failed.

As Lieutenant of the Tower Peyton was noted for his kind treatment of the condemned Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex who had led a rebellion that failed to wrest control of the Privy Council and Queen away from Sir Robert Cecil and his faction.


Robert Devereaux, 2nd Earl of Essex

The Lieutenant was also friendly with Henry Wriothesley, the still imprisoned Earl of Southampton “from whom he did not hide in discourse” upon hearing that Elizabeth would not live another day. Just as Oxford is the leading alternative candidate for authorship of the poems and plays of William Shakespeare, Southampton remains the leading candidate for the Fair Youth of the Sonnets. He was also the only dedicatee of the author William Shakespeare.


Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare’s only dedicatee, thought to be the beloved Fair Youth of the Sonnets.

Peyton may have known that Oxford and the young Rebel Earls Southampton, Rutland, Bedford and their executed leader the Earl of Essex were all former foster brothers of Sir Robert Cecil, having lived for varying periods under the guardianship of his father Lord Burghley at Cecil House. It may have partly been due to Southampton’s influence that Peyton did not pursue Oxford. The Lieutenant later said of the 53 year old Earl: “I knew him, to be so weak in body, in friends, in ability and all other means, to raise any combustion in the state, as I never feared any danger to proceed from so feeble a foundation…”[10]

With the passing of Queen Elizabeth in the early AM on March 24th, the imprisoned Essex Rebel Southampton and the Lord Monteagle (who paid a fine to avoid prison for his part in the rebellion) assisted Peyton in securing the strategic stronghold of the Tower complex for James I. [11] As Lincoln had lodged his jewels in the Tower and was staying there with his men at the time for purposes of national security, it may not have escaped his attention that Peyton allowed prominent Essex Rebels to hold the Tower in the name of the King.

That morning Oxford and his two sons-in-law missed the signing of Cecil’s proclamation at Whitehall Palace that named James as King.


William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby


Though his daughter Elizabeth’s husband, the Earl of Derby, later added his signature in person, the names of Oxford and Norris were only added with the second printing and probably by decision of the Privy Council, a united front being important at this time.[12] A month later Oxford chided Cecil for not sending notice of meetings regarding the transition and in one case summoning him an hour after a missed appearance at Whitehall which plausibly suggests how it may have happened that of all the nobles in the kingdom, apart from Lord Scrope guarding the border with Scotland, only Oxford and his two sons-in-law did not show up at Whitehall that morning. [13] Peyton thought that Oxford had signed the document but mentioned that Lincoln on his return to the Tower “seemed to wonder” at Oxford’s name appearing on the printed proclamation. Lincoln must have been surprised to see the name of his stepson Norris appearing on the list as well.

For the reading of the proclamation on Tower Hill, Peyton was given a second copy that was freshly signed by the peers at Sheriff Pemberton’s House on Milk Street. This time, besides Oxford, his sons-in-law and Lord Scrope, the names of Pembroke and Hunsdon were left off the list but Peyton probably did not notice or question any omissions on that high pressured morning. Peyton offered as a further reason for his lack of zeal in investigating Oxford the fact that “the noble man whom he accused was with the council and the other lords at the proclamation of his majesty” so there was “no likelihood or proof” but “only my Lord of Lincoln’s report, and the danger in all appearances being past.” Peyton did not realize that Oxford’s name had been tacked on prior to the second printing.

Alan Nelson states that Oxford was shut out of the Great Council for conspiracy, but such an action is not consonant with information supplied by Lincoln or Peyton as cited above, nor with letters exchanged between Oxford and Cecil which remained quite cordial even when Oxford was complaining over the lack of notification.[14] Nelson’s theory also does not account for why Oxford’s sons-in-law were the only other nobles inexplicably missing in action on that day. Yet it is entirely possible and even probable that what Oxford charged directly in a letter to Robert Cecil was true, that messages were being sent late or not at all. Notification of the Great Council may have been delayed or withheld for Derby and Norris as well.

Lincoln also reported Oxford to Sargeant-at-Law Thomas Harris and his brother Sir Hugh Harris.[15] Though an MP since 1584 and quite active in recent parliaments, Sergeant Harris abruptly retired from public life at the start of the reign of James.[16] It is possible that he showed insufficient zeal in early tests of loyalty.

While Lincoln admitted that he did not spread the information widely for fear of stirring malice and danger against himself, he took Peyton’s suggestion that he should tell the king as an opportunity to dispatch two letters north to James, one carried by his son Thomas Clinton and a back up by Sir Henry Bromley.[17]

Heraldry of Lincoln

Heraldry of the 1st Earl of Lincoln, father of Henry Clinton the 2nd Earl and grandfather of Thomas Clinton the 3rd Earl. “Loyalty feels no shame” these arms proclaim.

When Peyton spoke to Lincoln a final time he was not informed that Thomas Clinton had delivered a letter to James. History is silent on when Cecil and the Howards knew. Was Thomas Howard aware that his brother-in-law was carrying a missive to James that could destroy the Howards’ cousin who was also a brother-in-law of their immensely powerful ally Robert Cecil? Reason tells us that these aides would have been aware that the brother-in-law of one councilor was carrying a letter to the King accusing the brother-in-law of another councilor of attempting to thwart his succession to the throne.

In the meeting after the crisis was over, Peyton suggested that Lincoln speak with the King’s highly placed aide Lord Kinloss, and also asked that noble Scot to contact Lincoln, while additionally informing Sir David Foulis and Mr. Hudson.[18] There are no letters preserved from the king or his aides but they clearly wanted to know more about Lincoln’s dealings with the French for on September 21st Lincoln wrote up an account about Trudgion and Oxford in which he mentioned Peyton. That fall Peyton came under a wide ranging investigation into his administration of the Tower and on October 10th he responded to Cecil’s request that he address Lincoln’s allegations. [19]

“Touching the Earl of Lincoln’s his imputation laid upon me, his fashion is to condemn the world if thereby he might excuse himself,” Peyton wrote. He did not name Oxford outright, but Lincoln in his September 21st letter took no such precautions, naming Oxford openly in a letter that was preserved in government files.

As was usual with the Trinity of Knaves much was being played in the half lights. Consider the shady role Lincoln played in the Babington Plot network. Anthony Babington was recruited to the conspiracy by a priest in the circle of exorcists that had worked on his possessed servant. This was the notorious ring of exorcists that turned Flibbertigibbet and Hobdidicut out of serving girls, demons that later received mention in King Lear. The ring operated between 1585 and 1586, their exorcisms conducted in three places: in Denham; at the Earl of Lincoln’s House on Channon Row; and on the estate that the Vaux family rented in Hackney which is believed to have been King’s Place, the house where Oxford  entertained Lincoln in 1603.[20]

The Earl of Lincoln was apparently a Roman Catholic as late as 1586 and his home was the only one in which one of the exorcised serving girls died though he escaped public censure for her fatal fall from the second floor landing and for sponsoring exorcisms in the first place. [21] Shortly after the exorcism ring and circle of plotters was smashed Lincoln married Bridget Bedford’s widowed daughter Elizabeth Norris nee Morrison indicating that the Earl somehow remained in favor with the Queen. That same year the Earl of Lincoln, his new Countess and the bride’s stepbrother the Earl of Rutland supported the Dowager Countess of Rutland and Bedford as she stood in for Elizabeth I as Chief Mourner at Mary Queen of Scots funeral, an execution made possible by the Babington Plot’s exposure.[22] Lincoln therefore had experience in making amazing escapes from blame or as we might suspect in working as a dual agent.

Why would I suspect that Cecil and the Howards were aware of Lincoln’s pursuit of Oxford and even coaching him from behind the scenes? It is the way that the “Succession Plot” fits into the larger context of factional changes happening at the time. By the time Peyton was forced to explain himself, Cecil’s other two brothers-in-law were already in prison as were his other former allies Sir Walter Raleigh and Thomas Grey, the Baron Grey of Wilton.  Around 1600 Henry Howard had melted from the side of Essex and joined the circle surrounding Cecil where his Howard relations, including his nephew Thomas Howard, were long established. Already in communication with James VI of Scotland whose favor the Essex faction had courted, Henry Howard would “try to poison James’s mind against his personal enemies, chief among whom were Henry Brooke, Lord Cobham, and Sir Walter Raleigh.” Even though Cobham was Cecil’s brother-in-law, in letters Henry Howard “made no secret of his intention when opportunity offered, of snaring his rivals into some questionable negotiation with Spain which might be made the foundation of a charge of treason.”[23]

That summer a plot was brewing and Sir Thomas Tresham wrote a pensive letter to Henry Howard, one pillar of the Roman Catholic community discussing the concerning situation with another. Known as the English Moses for his decades of lobbying for toleration for English Catholics, Tresham had been in the thick of religious and political turmoil since his conviction in 1581 with his brothers-in-law the Lord Vaux and Sir William Catesby for harboring Edmund Campion (or more precisely for refusing to admit that they had harbored the Jesuit). Since then close relations had been involved in the Arden-Somerville, Throckmorton and Babington Plots. Then there were the frequent national security arrests, seeing his son and other men of the family rounded up in the utterly fictitious “Poisoned Pommel Plot” and finally bailing out his heir Francis and nephew Robert Catesby when they, along with his son-in-law the Lord Monteagle, were heavily fined as prominent figures in the Essex Rebellion. [24]


Sir Thomas Tresham, metaphysically inspired builder and christian cabalist. Notice the Chi-Rho or XP encoded in the arrangement of mass items on the right side of the engraving.

Acknowledging that if a certain “monstrous filthiness” had proceeded from Roman Catholics then those individuals should be anathematized, Tresham mentioned, “Nevertheless I have so long time been experimented in the cursed ‘Machiavellian’ projects visored in former times on us in the ugliest wise” that he partly and unless his superiors reassured him suspected of recent developments “Latet anguis in herba” – a snake in the grass – or an “atheistical Anthonie Babington’s complotment.”

By 1597 Roman Catholics, including the Treshams, had rallied around Essex who it was believed would bring about liberty of conscience (as they called freedom of religion) but the Earl’s fall coincided with Henry Howard’s defection to Cecil’s side and his meteoric rise. Together the reformist Cecil and the Howards, icons of the old faith community, controlled both sides of a deeply divided nation. Perhaps not so unwitting at that Tresham reminded Howard: “Truth is the daughter of time. I wish the guilty their due chastisement and the guiltless not to be wronged in their honours.” [25]

Thomas Tresham was part of a family whose Shakespearean connections have been almost wholly overlooked in authorship studies, despite Nina Green’s excellent research in the area of this family and recent attention to a part of this kinship network by Jan Cole.[26] To sketch only a few pertinent connections of the wealthy Tresham, he was the namesake grandson, ward and heir of the last Grand Prior of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, a glorious title which gave his grandfather a seat in the House of Lords superior to that of a Baron (at least while Queen Mary lived). That elder’s wife was Lettice Pennystone (Peniston), a great grandmother of Essex. The mother of Essex was a namesake granddaughter of Lettice and she may have known the young Thomas Tresham quite well since he was raised by the Prior who married her grandmother.[27] Certainly this explains how Francis Tresham, a son of a knight who could never be knighted himself due to his religion, made his expensive debut in the Earl’s circle in 1593 and was subsequently hired as an usher at Essex House.

In 1591 a widowed Oxford married the maid-in-waiting Elizabeth Trentham whose brother Francis in the same year married Katherine Sheldon, a niece of Thomas Tresham’s wife. Widowed by the death of the Lord Vaux in 1595, before her own death in 1597 Thomas Tresham’s beloved sister the Lady Vaux stayed for an extended period at the King’s Place estate which was then owned and inhabited by the Countess of Oxford and presumably the Earl was living there as well.[28] That same year Tresham’s wife Muriel and daughter the Lady Monteagle commandeered the Vaux family carriage to attend a hunting party thrown by the “Countess of Darbie” at Brigstock Park after their own carriage broke.[29] Though we cannot know whether this was the reigning Countess of Derby or one of the two dowager holders of the title then living, this may refer to Oxford’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth de Vere.


Elizabeth de Vere, Countess of Derby

She was the current Countess of Derby, though separated from her husband and rumored to be having an affair with Essex at the time.[30] The Lady Monteagle’s husband was part of the crowd around Essex and her brother of course worked and lived at Essex House. Furthermore the Lady Tresham assumed that the Lady Vaux would know without qualifier which Countess of Derby she meant, which the Lady Vaux, having stayed for an extended period at the de Vere’s King’s Place estate earlier in the year, might presume was Oxford’s daughter.

Oxford’s young sister-in-law Katherine Trentham nee Sheldon was a first cousin of the younger Treshams. Her husband Sir Francis Trentham (not to be confused with her cousin Francis Tresham who worked for Essex) seems to have acted as a financial manager for his sister the Countess of Oxford in the same way that Sir Thomas Tresham handled business affairs for the Lord and Lady Vaux. Oxford therefore may have known his young sister-in-law well. Her father was Sir Ralph Sheldon of Beoley, owner of the workshops that made the famed Sheldon Tapestries.

Sir Ralph Sheldon

Sir Ralph Sheldon of Beoley



Sheldon Tapestry depicting Judith holding the head of Holofernes


Detail of Sheldon Tapestry of Warwickshire showing Stratford-upon-Avon and Snitterfield

Sheldon’s wife, Katherine Trentham’s mother was born as Anne Throckmorton, a sister of the wives of Sir Thomas Tresham, Sir William Catesby and Sir Edward Arden. All four ladies were among the daughters of Sir Robert Throckmorton from the Catholic stronghold of Coughton Court, near Alechester.


Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton Court

Sir Throckmorton’s second wife, stepmother to Lady Sheldon and mother of the other three sisters was born as Elizabeth Hussey. She was the former Lady Hungerford, the older half sister of the double dowager Countess of Rutland and Bedford. After the Lord Hungerford was atteinted and executed alongside Cromwell, Elizabeth had a second chance at life in marriage with Robert, then heir of Coughton, whose father was a close friend of the executed Lord Hussey. Robert’s father Sir George Throckmorton was twice sent to the Tower but survived to provide testimony that helped to convict his enemy Cromwell. Historians believe that it may have helped that his wife, the royally descended Catherine Vaux, daughter of the 1st Baron Vaux and sister to his successor, was also an aunt of Katherine Parr, who would become Henry VIII’s last wife and may already have been well liked by the king. While pregnant with their 19th child, Lady Throckmorton had contacted a Parr brother for assistance during George Throckmorton’s second incarceration.

Despite the early death of the former Lady Hungerford and her Throckmorton father-in-law, both passing on by the mid 1550s, Sir Robert Throckmorton’s mother Katherine Throckmorton nee Vaux lived until 1571 and the knight himself survived into 1581. Relationships and contacts continued to occur between the descendants of the former Lady Hungerford and the descendants of Bridget Bedford. By 1566 she was the dowager Countess of Rutland, with her stepson the 3rd Earl of Rutland keeping Oxford company at Cecil House. That year she married the Earl of Bedford, but remained close to her Manners stepkids even as she became involved in the lives of her Russell stepchildren. Two stepgrandsons the 5th Earl of Rutland and 3rd Earl of Bedford would form an intense bond with Southampton during their tenure as wards at Cecil House. Throughout this time contact continued with the families of her nieces from Coughton Court, suggesting that family was family despite the religious divide. For instance when Lady Tresham needed help obtaining better conditions for her imprisoned husband she wrote an emotional appeal to the double dowager countess (which may have been written by Sir Tresham, but was evidence of relations none-the-less).[31]


A painting of a younger Sir Thomas Tresham

Like Oxford, Sir Ralph Sheldon had renounced his Catholicism in 1581 and so was only briefly imprisoned in the year that his brothers-in-law Sir Tresham and Sir Catesby and his wife’s cousin the Lord Vaux were convicted.


Sir William Vaux, the 3rd Lord Vaux

There was a further rough patch for the family when a deranged John Somerville was picked up on his way to assassinate the Queen, leading to his father-in-law Sir Edward Arden being arrested by crown officers at the London home of the young Earl of Southampton. According to the antiquarian William Dugdale, Arden’s was an opportunistic execution, brought about solely because he was an enemy of the Queen’s paramour Lord Leicester. [32]

Father Hugh Hall, the priest blamed for inciting Somerville, confessed that before staying with Arden he had been hosted by Sir Ralph Sheldon, Sir John Throckmorton (a brother of Sir Robert Throckmorton and father of the Thockmorton Plot’s  leader), the Lord Windsor (Oxford’s late extremely Catholic brother-in-law), as well as Sir Christopher Hatton, the only Catholic linked member of Lord Leicester’s circle. Hall had been employed on Hatton’s estate where Stratfordian Richard Wilson believes the priest may have been turned into a government informant. [33] Though Arden, Somerville, their wives and Father Hugh Hall were all condemned to death, it was no surprise that the women were reprieved. The shocker was that the religious father involved in the devastation of the Throckmorton and Somerville Plots, Sir Christopher Hatton’s old priest, walked free. 


Sir Ralph Sheldon of Beoley, circa 1565

Yet when it came time to marry off Sir Sheldon’s daughter Elizabeth a match was made with Sir John Russell of Strensham, and that incorrigible matchmaker Bridget Bedford, wife of the Earl of Bedford, likely had a hand in arranging the marriage of her husband’s legal ward to her late sister’s stepdaughter. Unfortunately the marriage failed with Sir John Russell denouncing his father-in-law as a Papist in court, mounting violent attacks in attempts to seize his children from Sheldon’s household and then trying to disown the kids when he could not obtain custody, obviously terrified of the eventuality that did occur: his heir became a Roman Catholic.

For perspective, William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon and the rebel Earls all had connections to this family as well. Southampton’s uncle Sir Henry Browne was married to Sir William Catesby’s daughter (Gunpowder Plotter Robert Catesby’s sister). Sir Edward Devereaux, the future Baron Bromwich, was a great uncle of Essex though only 18 years older and later served as conveyer of estates for the Earl’s heir. [34] He married another daughter of Sir Edward Arden of Park Hall who as we all know was a distant though it is believed significant relation of William Shakspere. Sir Edward Devereaux was a brother-in-law of John Somerville, who likely broke under the pressures of the Throckmorton Plot. John Somerville hailed from Edstone. Mary Shakspere nee Arden was born in Wilmcote, one town below Edstone and it was shortly after Justice Lucy was harassing local Ardens over the Somerville Plot that her son William left Stratford-on-Avon, two towns below Edstone.

That Oxford’s sister-in-law was a cousin to Gunpowder Plotters like Robert Catesby and Francis Tresham should raise a warning flag to proceed carefully but it should not prevent us from exploring this recursively linked, tight knit kinship network that had connections to Oxford, Essex, Southampton, Rutland, Bedford and yes evidently Shakspere. Nina Green documented a cluster of business transactions between William Shakspere, his fellow actor and theater share holder Henry Condell and the relations branching off from Sir Ralph Sheldon’s sister Anne. These are significant transactions like the purchase of King’s Place and a half share in the tithes of Stratford-on-Avon, all taking place in the kinship network descended from the aunt of Oxford’s young sister-in-law. Shakespearean scholars also recognize gratuitous inclusions of the Vaux family and John Somerville in Shakespearean plays.

Though it is indisputable that the younger men of the family like Francis Tresham and the Lord Monteagle were close to the Essex circle, I believe that Oxford was sympathetic to the elder Tresham, Sheldon and Vaux. I believe that all of these elders urged caution and a milder course on the young “hotheads”, before and after the Essex Rebellion. The deaths of Leicester, Walsingham and Hatton led to new alliances that resulted in the Shake-speare publishing campaign that promoted the Essex Faction and attacked Cecil’s Faction during the 1590s. It was due to the hope of future religious toleration inspired by this alliance of Earls – Essex, Southampton, Rutland, Bedford and I believe their older more cautious foster brother Oxford –  that no plots emerged from the grounds of this family in that decade but events would spiral out of control again with Essex Rebellion.

Sir Tresham had joined with Puritans to officially proclaim James as King in Northamptonshire. Father Watson and the Earl of Northumberland’s agent Thomas Percy previously claimed to have obtained promises of toleration, but despite support from Catholic governments and the Papal State the King offered only the temporary relief from the crippling fines charged for recusancy, the term for those refusing to attend the Church of England. James excluded two categories from the general amnesty that began his reign: if you were a murderer or a Roman Catholic you stayed in prison even if you had only heard a mass. Though he kept Catholic linked figures like Henry Howard as “tame ducks” to “decoy the wild ones”, and his wife Queen Anne was believed to be strongly sympathetic to and possibly a convert to the old faith, this only heightened the outrage when the bruit was given out that the king said after he was crowned, “We’ll not need the papists now”. [35]

For the families for whom life had become a struggle, unable to travel more than five miles from home and subject to violent and structurally damaging house raids from deputized pursuivants searching for priests or paraphernalia the situation had long passed the point of desperation. Since 1585 any priest ordained after the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth and resident in England for more than 40 days was subject to execution. Anyone who harbored or helped such a priest was subject to “death, loss, and forfeit as in cases of one attainted of a felony.”

Conceived between Father Watson and Anthony Copley, the Bye Plot also involved Griffin Markham, whose sister had married Edward Sheldon, heir of Sir Ralph Sheldon and brother of Oxford’s sister-in-law. Markham informed his fellow conspirators that he “heard it was usual in Scotland for the king to be taken of his subjects, and kept in strong hold until he had granted his subjects’ request.”

Their plot was foiled by the chief English seminary priest Father Blackwell and the head Jesuits in England, specifically the mission leader Father Henry Garnet who was harbored by daughters of the late Lord Vaux’s first marriage, Anne Vaux and Eleanor Brooksby (stepdaughters of Tresham’s late sister and cousins of his wife but feuding with him) and Father John Gerard who stayed with the current young Lord Vaux’s mother Eliza (Tresham was fighting with the late Lady Vaux’s daughter-in-law too).


Gerard also stayed for long periods with the Countess of Arundel, the devout widow of the Earl of Arundel, the one who was once dragged bodily into a boat to keep him out of the fight between Oxford and Knyvett. Philip, the Earl of Arundel, was originally arrested for attempting to flee the country for religious reasons. Held in the Tower, he would be denied the chance to meet with his wife or ever lay eyes on their child born while he was incarcerated. His refusal to attend an approved church service meant that he would die in the Tower and later this cousin of Oxford would be canonized as a saint in the Roman Church.


Saint Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel

Watson’s superior and the two Jesuits individually reported the conspiracy through contacts when plans progressed despite the threat of excommunication from the Pope.[36] As Blackwell, Garnet and Gerard all suspected the plan was not just the foolhardy scheme of the old purblind priest Father Watson and his mob of king-nappers that were expected to show up wearing yellow or blue tights on the day of action. It was almost surely by then part of an intelligence operation.

By the time Tresham wrote his letter to Howard, Lord Grey’s resentment of the crown’s favoritism toward Scots – and Southampton – had erupted in a fight with the Earl in Queen Anne’s attendance chamber. Confined for resuming his dangerous feud with Southampton, soon after his release Grey became, reportedly, the only Puritan involved in Watson’s Bye Plot. It would be his job to seize the king in order to allow the Catholics to act as rescuers. The expectation was that James would show his gratitude by granting religious toleration.

Of all who were supposed to appear at Greenwich Palace on St. John’s Day 1603, only one man, Copley, showed up. Even the king was absent. Yet authorities had enough information to net many arrests and the Baron of Wilton’s name came up during interrogations. [37]  Also caught out in association with the plotters was Cobham’s brother George Brooke. That some kind of sting was being worked by Cecil’s former allies was likely for their success would only have seen the Puritan Grey killed and Catholics rewarded. It is also just possible that the participation of Grey and Brooke was manufactured to order by informants.

Not that rash and violent acts were out of character for Grey. This was the sickening end to a spiral begun five years earlier when Grey indignantly reported from Ireland that Essex had tried to turn the Baron against Cecil. After Grey charged in battle without order, Southampton had him confined for the night in the tent of Essex’s Catholic stepfather Sir Blount. Grey then convinced the Queen to remove Southampton from his position as Essex’s Lieutenant, though Southampton stayed on as an advisor. Even as Grey was berating Southampton to set the date for a duel, the Baron commandeered a troupe of horse in Ireland, reassigning them and himself without warrant to the Low Countries.

When Brigit Bedford wrote her will in the summer of 1600 Grey was still in the Low Countries with his purloined troupe of horse waiting to hear if he would be atteinted for the act. If the double dowager Countess named him as her heir and he was atteinted the fortune that she had carefully built up in her lifetime would be forfeit to the Queen. She may also have been worried that that the Lady Lincoln and her two younger sons might soon wind up cast aside and destitute. On May 30th the young Lady Norris had written her letter asking Cecil to assist in the matter of her imprisoned mother-in-law. On June 2 and 12th Bridget Bedford named her second born grandson, Francis Norris, as the primary heir in her will. Though Cecil was soon able to send Cobham and Raleigh to the Low Countries with word that the Queen had forgiven the Baron of Wilton (he was another in the network of royal cousins), it is apparent that Grey’s grandmother did not forget because Lord Norris remained her heir. If the double dowager Countess tried to prepare Grey in advance, his demotion in her will may account for the unspecified new injury he claimed as an excuse for leading that heinous gang attack against Southampton in the London Street in January of 1601, the melee where the boy holding the Earl’s horse nearly had an arm severed.

If Grey did not then know about his demotion in his grandmother’s will he soon found out for the dowager Countess of Rutland and Bedford died on January 12th, 1601, a Sunday, and Norris apparently had the will proved that very night. [38] The short imprisonment Grey received for his barbarity was cited by the Earls as the spur for their rebellion just weeks later. When Lord Grey led the troupe of horse that surrounded Essex House much of the crowd had already scattered but the group supporting the Earls had included Grey’s step cousins Bedford, Rutland and the other Manners brothers, young Sussex who was his first cousin’s husband, Catesby and Tresham who were his late grandmother’s great nephews and Monteagle married to her great niece.

Some may point out that there were over a hundred rebels, that I’m cherry picking this information but when John Chamberlain listed the “ransom and fine”  that rebel “lords and gentlemen” would pay for their freedom he mentioned only the fined nobles and Francis Tresham and Robert Catesby. Chamberlain’s list included the following (fees in pounds if not otherwise specified):

Rutland at 30, 000; Bedford at 20,000; Sands at 10,000; Monteagle at 8,000; Cromwell at 6,000; Catesby at 4,000 marks; Tresham at 3,000 marks; Percies and Manners at 500 pounds and 500 marks.”

Historians’ reactions to this striking inclusion have ranged from the begrudging admission that these two future Gunpowder Plotters were evidently popular, to the observation that they did carry some royal blood, to the assumption that their closeness to Monteagle elevated them to this list, but none have recognized that they were step cousins to Bedford, Rutland and the Manners brothers. Fully 7 of 11 men in this list were descended by blood or by marriage Lady Hungerofrd or her sister Bridget Bedford. It would have been 8 out of 12 if Sussex had not escaped being fined by leaving Essex House early that morning.

The mother of Lord Grey and the father of the wife of Sussex were brother and sister. Their other full sibling was Lord Norris’s mother, the Countess of Lincoln though her son was careful to stay out of the fight. The noble fathers of Bedford, Rutland and the other Manners brothers were their step siblings. Additionally Grey’s mother, born Jane Sybilla Morrison, had first married her stepbrother Henry, the Baron Russell, drawing her closer to the family of the Earl of Bedford even if she was soon widowed. The Ladies Tresham, Catesby and Arden were first cousins of Bridget Bedford’s children.

The truth is that the majority of the nobles who felt compelled to stand with Essex and Southampton were Grey’s relations. The core nobles – Essex, Southampton, Rutland and Bedford – were also Cecil’s former foster brothers. It was a political rebellion but it was also an extended, blended family feud. Knowing the importance that Elizabethans attached to cousins and their own influence in these kinship based networks (cozening was even turned into a verb), we cannot dismiss such patterns without investigation.

At Cheneys Bridget Bedford had run a kind of finishing school for girls similar to Lord Burghley’s “prep academy” for boys. A stepson and two stepgrandsons of Bridget Bedford, the 3rd and 5th Earls of Rutland and 3rd Earl of Bedford, were raised as royal wards at Cecil House while the younger de Vere daughters and the rebel Earl of Rutland’s sister Bridget Manners had prepared for court careers with the Countess. Men like Sir Francis Bacon and Sir Henry Neville (the latter also mentioned prominently in Chamberlain’s letter) were tutored alongside Sir Robert Cecil and the Earls at Cecil House. If tensions had ratcheted up between Cecil and Essex in the void created by Lord Burghley’s decline and passing, Bridget Bedford died after her grandson’s vicious attack on Southampton and before the feud that had roots in jealousies between those boys exploded into an overt war between extremely powerful military commanders. The precaution Bridget Bedford took of bypassing Grey, her volatile first born grandson, to leave her fortune to Lord Norris proved wise for Grey wound up atteinted in the Main and Bye Plot.

For all of Lord Grey’s loyalty to Cecil, the cabal that brought Essex down had split into two warring camps. If Grey did not seem to be particularly hated by the Howards, he was an extremely dangerous enemy to Southampton who was being courted by all sides. Perhaps vulnerable to coercion or merely desperate for a coup of intelligence, Grey offered to play the part of kingnapper. It was after hearing this outlandish, impractical plan of how Grey would sacrifice himself for the Catholics (this man who was no friend of Catholics) that “Cecil suspected that Cobham and Raleigh might be concerned in the first treason, and acting at once vigorously” uncovered the Main Plot. [39]

Cecil’s brother-in-law George Brooke allegedly spilled all under questioning. Instead of allowing the Catholics to save James from Lord Grey, a scheme to “kill the King and his cubs” would kick into gear, supposedly rewarded with blood money from Spain.[40] Brooke’s confession implicated his brother Lord Cobham, the powerful Warden of the Cinque Ports, a lucrative position that would be awarded to Henry Howard whose stated plan to entangle these men into an entrapment involving the Spanish was evidently now seeing success.


Henry Brooke, 11th Baron Cobham

Though Robert Cecil had married their sister, Cobham and Brooke would receive no mercy from their brother-in-law, whether the allegations were true, the result of their own misbegotten sting operation or merely part of a plot cooked up by the Knaves to ensnare the next target in the chain: Sir Walter Raleigh.


Sir Walter Raleigh

George Brooke was the only one who alleged Cobham’s involvement and only Cobham accused Raleigh. The imprisoned Brooke wrote a letter to Robert Cecil, asking “what he might expect after so many promises received, and so much conformity and accepted service performed.” The 19th century historian Patrick Fraser Tytler theorized that Brooke had ensnared his brother for Cecil, an idea which the DNB considered “to the last degree improbable” since, besides the priests, Brooke was the only one who was executed. Yet the very same version of the DNB recognized that Henry Howard was plotting in letters to Cecil to falsely ensnare Cobham and Raleigh in a Spanish linked treason. If Tytler was right, Brooke was the only figure that Cecil would need to execute. A dead brother-in-law could no longer complain about unfulfilled promises or explain what “so much  conformity” meant or elaborate on that “approved service performed” for the principal secretary.

That Grey, Cobham and Raleigh were spinning an entrapment of Catholic plotters seems evident and that this was so the historian Camden asserted certainly. Yet somehow all three men wound up on the list of those involved in the more severe but less certainly existent Main Plot. The meeting where Cobham and Raleigh met Grey in the Low Countries to assure him of the Queen’s forgiveness improbably became the meeting where they began planning to kill James and his Cubs though James was then years away from becoming King of England. No matter. The government had to have some kind of case to present in court.

Nicholas Throckmorton

Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, Ambassador to France

Raleigh’s late father-in-law was the legendary Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, an uncle of the Ladies Tresham, Sheldon, Arden and Catesby. Raleigh’s wife Bess and her brother Arthur Throckmorton (Oxford’s friend  in the 1570s) were his children. Raleigh and Bess spent time in the Tower, not for religion but for love, having married without the Queen’s permission.  


“Bess” Throckmorton, Lady Raleigh

A religious conformist, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton would make his name as Ambassador to France and liaison for the English crown with Mary Queen of Scots until he lost the trust of Elizabeth in the turmoil of the Ridolphi Plot but Throckmorton first became famous for beating a charge of treason as the mastermind of the Wyatt Rebellion under Mary I by exploiting a technicality under the law. Ironically it was Nicholas and other reformists among his brothers who had warned Mary Tudor about the death of her brother Edward VI, causing her to say that “If Robert had been there she durst have gaged her life and hazarded the hap.”


Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton Court


Robert Throckmorton was of course the father of the Ladies Tresham, Sheldon, Catesby and Arden. The Roman Catholic Mary trusted Robert but would always be suspicious of Nicholas, her sister Elizabeth’s friend and a favorite of her brother Edward VI. That it was Nicholas and some of his reformist brothers who gave the warning that enabled her to quickly muster an army of 20,000 and seize the throne back from the protestant Nine Day Queen was surely appreciated but then his name came up among the Wyatt Rebels. Nicholas was not the mastermind of the rebellion nor even a participant but he was conversant with the rebels which he never tried to deny.


A younger, thinner Nicholas Throckmorrton

In his own masterful defense he pointed out that Mary had repealed the law that made speech alone a treasonable offense. Then he spent the next year waiting in the Tower while the jury that declared him innocent was imprisoned, threatened and heavily fined but refused to a man to reverse the verdict. A humiliated administration finally let them all walk free. 

Raleigh tried to pull off a similar feat. Battling back with a passion, there came the moment when he pointed out that Cobham was the only witness and the law required two witnesses for conviction. So Attorney General Edward Coke brought in a boat pilot named Dyer to testify about an unidentified Portuguese traveler that he once heard uttering similar claims about Raleigh.


Though Raleigh defended himself admirably this son-in-law of the first man to beat a case of treason in a Tudor courtroom would not become the second man to achieve such a feat. Raleigh was convicted in a legal travesty that Samuel Gardner believed to have inspired “the first signal of the reaction which from that moment steadily set in in favour of the rights of individuals against the State. Many a man, who came to gloat over the conviction of a traitor, went away prepared to sympathize with the prisoner who had defended himself so well against the brutal invectives of Coke.” Ultimately Brooke and the priests were executed. Brooke died claiming he had spoken truthfully except for the part about his brother wanting to see that “the fox and his cubs were taken away.”[41] So Brooke either confessed to making up the fox analogy or possibly to having fabricated the whole king killing story altogether. Griffin Markham and Anthony Copley were sent into exile. Cobham, Grey and Raleigh were condemned but received reprieves, facing life in the Tower instead of execution.[42] For those men who followed Essex and had since transferred their hopes to figures like Northumberland and Southampton, Raleigh became a figure of immense sympathy, another one of Cecil’s victims.

Peyton would show the same respect and consideration to Raleigh that he displayed to the rebel Earls. Another Essex Rebel, a minor figure, remembered Peyton’s kindness in his will. Clearly the Lieutenant was a civil and compassionate keeper, perhaps even a man with marked sympathies. By the time of the trials he had received a posting to Raleigh’s recently vacated position as the Lieutenant of the Isle of Jersey but his “loyalty was suspect” and in October he was required to justify his handling of duties at his former post and to specifically defend against the Earl of Lincoln’s charge that he ignored reports of a “plot” (this was how Peyton frankly referred to the allegations). So Oxford’s name was officially entered into the government record in the Peyton investigation for supposedly inveying against the Scots and plotting against James’s succession just weeks before the November trials of Cecil’s other brothers-in-law. It was not a good month to be related to Cecil.

Robert Cecil

After a further offensive in January it was said that Sir John Peyton was “disgraced for entertaining intelligence between Cobham and Raleigh” which perhaps shows just how close the Lieutenant came to being accused in the plots that were actively being investigated at the time he endured his own examinations.[43] Yet Peyton “kept the privilege, granted to him at the beginning of James’s reign, of having access to the privy chamber at all times.”[44]

Oxford also retained favor. He had been appointed steward of the entire Forest of Essex that summer. The “Great Oxford” James called the older Earl who attended the King as Lord Great Chamberlain when the long delayed coronation ceremony took place and he also renewed the Earl’s 1000 pound annuity. [45]


King James VI and I

James had reigned in his knaves but he would continue to employ them when necessary. While Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury and Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk were listed first as sponsors of the 2nd Virginia Compact in 1609, third and fourth in honor came the candidates for Shakespeare’s “Fair Youth” Southampton and Pembroke. In fact this was a Southampton faction project which is why in the 1st Virginia Company Contract Henry Neville was named first on the list and within the top five fell his friends Lord Sandys and Sir Maurice Berkeley, the first and last of whom would be arrested with Southampton on the night of Oxford’s death but that’s another post. Fifth on the list of the first noble founders of the English colonies was Henry Fiennes Clinton, Earl of Lincoln which suggests that James and/or his knaves highly valued the Earl and continued to find his vigilance useful.

Oxford had not survived long in this mercenary age but six months after his St. John’s Day death in 1604 which coincided with the Southampton faction’s mysterious arrest, the Earl’s youngest daughter Susan married Pembroke’s brother the Earl of Montgomery on St. John’s Day of Winter which fell amidst a holiday season that was filled with Shakespearean plays. Montgomery would be eighth on the Second Virginia Company Compact in 1609, following Dorset and Exeter, men I see as sympathetic to the “Fair Youth” Faction. The knaves and the fair youths would be forced to work together, relieving if not actually solving the great matters of their age through New World emigration. Idealistic “Fair Youths” even in a middle aged fight for free enterprise, one day Southampton and Pembroke would fight the king in court to try to prevent the crown from seizing hold of this company, this colony and fail. Not long before that final showdown Pembroke and Montgomery would be the dedicatees and probable financiers of Shakespeare’s First Folio, ensuring that even as the factions of fair youths and knaves shipped their unsettled differences overseas and into the future the world would never be without the wisdom of Shakespeare.

All documents mentioned that are classified as SP (state papers), CP (Cecil House papers) or PROB (last will and testament) are available in modern language translations at Thank you to Nina Green for making these resources available and for her extensive documentation and data analysis. The abbreviation HOP means History of Parliament, available online.

[1] SP 14/4/14, ff. 27-9, Peyton’s October 10, 1603 letter to Cecil. All Peyton’s comments contained in this document.

[2] See Nina Green’s genealogical documentation accompanying a reproduction of the last will and testament of the Countess of Rutland and Bedford, PROB 11/97/10

[3] CP 79/48, CP 79/86

[4] SP 14/4/14, ff. 27-9

[5] Nelson, Alan H. Monstrous Adversary: the Life of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, p. 411; SP 14/3/77, ff. 134-5 All quotes from Lincoln occurred in this September 21 1603 letter to officials.

[6] SP 14/3/77, ff. 134-5

[7] Simpson, Richard. Edmund Campion, A Biography. William and Norgate, London: 1867, pp. 126, 158

[8] BP2003 volume 1, page 824. G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I, page 401. A third daughter named Frances married Francis Manners, 6th Earl of Rutland in 1602.

[9] Wilson, Richard. Secret Shakespeare, Manchester University Press: 2004, p. 107

[10] SP 14/4/14, ff. 27-9; HOP, Peyton, John (1544-1630); Nelson, p. 415

[11] DNB, Parker, William, fourth Baron Monteagle and eleventh Baron Morley (1575-1622), Vol. CV, NY:1909, p. 285 All DNB listings are from older versions available online.

[12] Nelson, pp. 409-410

[13] CP 99/150

[14] Nelson, p. 410

[15] Nelson, p. 412; SP 14/3/77, ff. 134-5

[16] Harris, Thomas I (1547-1610), of London and Cornworthy, Devon, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981,

[17] Nelson, p. 412

[18] Nelson, p. 416; SP 14/4/14, ff. 27-9

[19] HOP, Peyton, John (1544-1630)

[20] Brownlow, Frank Walsh. Shakespeare, Harsnett, and the Devils of Denham. University of Delaware Press, London and Toronto, 1993, pp. 211, 303, 397, 406-407; Bowen, Gwynneth. Hackey, Harsnett and the Devils in “King Lear”, Shakespearean Authorship Review, Autumn 1965.

[21] Brownlow, p. 24, 236, 383

[22] Strickland, Agnes. Life of Mary Queen of Scots, Vol. II, George Bell and Sons, London, 1888. pp. 463-464

[23] Jonson, Ben. Sejanus His Fall, editor Philip Ayres, Manchester University Press, 1990, p. 18; DNB

[24] DNB, Francis Tresham, 1895

[25] Clarke-Thornhill Manuscripts, p. 125, citing Sir Thomas Tresham letter to Henry Howard, July 16, 1603

[26] Cole, Jan. Oxford’s Friend, Arthur Throckmorton: A personal link with William Shakspere of Stratford, De Vere Society Newsletter, April 2015, pp. 22-30. Also see Nina Green’s data collection and analysis in the numerous wills available at

[27] HOP 1509-1558, Tresham, Sir Thomas (by 1500-59), or Ruston, Northants.

[28] Bowen, Gwynneth. Hackey, Harsnett and the Devils in “King Lear”, Shakespearean Authorship Review, Autumn 1965.

[29] Clarke-Thornhill Manuscripts, pp 89-90

[30], Elizabeth de Vere (July 2, 1575-March 10, 1627)

[31] Clarke-Thornhill Manuscripts, pp. ix-x, 28-30, Letter from Muriel Tresham to Countess of Bedford at Cheneys, May 27, 1583

[32] Dugdale, William. The Antiquities of Warwickshire, London: 1956, Vol. 2, p. 830.

[33] Wilson, p. 108-109

[34] Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 2003, vol. II, p. 1876.

[35] Hogge, Alice. God’s Secret Agents, HarperCollins Publishers, NY, 2005, pp. 307, 309; Jardine, David. A Narrative of the Gunpowder Plot, London: John Murray, 1857, pp. 81; Gardiner, Samuel R. History of England from the Accession of James I to the Outbreak of the Civil War, 1603-1642 (London, 1187-1904), p. 110

[36] Hogge, 310-311

[37] Hogge 310-312

[38] last will and testament of the Countess of Rutland and Bedford, PROB 11/97/10, see endnote #2

[39] DNB, Brooke, George

[40] Hogge 310-312, Fraser 63

[41] Gardiner, p. 108

[42] Hogge, 313

[43] CSP, James 1: Vol. 6, January-March, 1604. January 15, 1603/04, letter Dudley Carleton to John Chamberlain

[44] HOP, Peyton, John (1544-1630)

[45] ERO D/DCw T1/564.


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