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September 3, 1553 – Shrewsbury Gets His Reward

Procession of the Knights of the Garter, by Marcus Gheeraerts (this is the sixth sheet - there are a lot more knights!)
Procession of the Knights of the Garter, by Marcus Gheeraerts (this is the sixth sheet – there are a lot more knights!)

This is a letter that illustrates one of those Tudor wheel-of-fortune turns. Francis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury, was inclined to the old religion, and not really close to Northumberland (indeed, he was questioned during Somerset’s downfall out of fear he had joined the “conspiracy”). Still, he was too powerful to ignore – he did a good job as Lord President of the Council of the North and often attended meetings of the Privy Council…including the one in June that gave the crown to Jane Grey. Yet, while he voted in favor of that measure (everyone did – Northumberland was known to be vindictive), he was secretly abetting Arundel to sabotage this transfer and persuade the Council to proclaim for Mary. On her accession, Mary’s gratitude was clear: she immediately appointed Shrewsbury to her Council and reaffirmed him as Lord President of the North (she also made him a Knight of the Garter the following year…hence the photo!).

Meanwhile her first priority was to roll back all of Edward VI’s religious reforms. Who better to let the north know than Shrewsbury? To make sure he would not feel slighted by being sent away, Mary was especially nice to his wife…who wrote to give him all the details. This was his second wife, Grace, who was more a “country gal” than a courtier; it’s touching to notice the slight awe in her tone….

After my most hearty commendations unto your good lordship; the same shall be advertised that, yesternight, as the queen’s majesty came from evensong, which was sung in the chapel by all the singing-men of the same, with playing of the organs of the solemnest manner, her highness called me unto her, and asked me when your lordship rode towards the north; and when I had told her grace, she held up her hands, and besought God to send you good health and to see you again; and also prayed God to send you good success in her affairs in that country, with many other good and comfortable words towards your lordship, too long here to write, whereby I perceive her highness to be somewhat doubtful of the quietness of that country. Wherefore good my lord, let her highness have a letter from you, as soon as you come to York, of the state of the counties thereabouts, and how they take her grace’s new service, wherewith her highness much rejoices to hear her subjects well pleased.

And, after that, by reason the warrant for your commission for the presidentship was not signed, I moved her grace for it; and she were sorry it was so [long] delayed; and straightaway commanded my lord of Arundel [to send] to my lord chancellor for it, and so signed it straightaway.

Her highness were so much my good lady, that [she] commanded me whatever I lacked I should be bold to come to her grace; for she would be my husband until your lordship returned again. My lord, you shall understand that my lord of Arundel showed himself very friendly unto me, and hath been with me divers times, and asks me what I lack, very gently. Other news here is not as yet, but that my lord Courtenay this day shall be created earl of Devonshire; and what other things shall chance here, worthy advertisement, your lordship shall be sure to hear from me from time to time, by the grace of our Lord, who send you long good health.

From Richmond, this 3rd day of September, 1553.

Your lordship’s loving wife,

G. Shrewsbury

Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain, Volume 3


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September 3, 1553 – Shrewsbury Gets His Reward
Published inInteresting Letters and Speeches

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