Thursday, June 02, 2011

Question from Guy - Charles Brandon's treatment of Mary

Is this true? I read it in Richard Brandon's Wikipedia article, about Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk:

"His treatment of his beautiful royal wife was on a par with his low conception of his moral obligations. He neglected her, spent her money, and lived openly with a notorious woman known as Mrs. Eleanor Brandon, by whom he had an illegitimate son, Charles, who is said to have been the well-known jeweller to Queen Elizabeth."

Did he openly live with someone else? What did the King think?


Susan Higginbotham said...

The quotation comes from Richard Davey's book about Lady Jane Grey. I believe that PhdHistorian and other posters here have noted that Davey is a dubious source.

I don't know of any evidence that Brandon lived openly with other women during his marriage to Mary, but S. J. Gunn, writing in the Oxford Dictonary of National Biography, does credit him with several illegitimate children: "Charles, later Sir Charles Brandon of Sigston (d. 1551), Mary, who married Robert Ball of Scottow, and Frances, who married successively the Lincolnshire gentlemen William Sandon and Andrew Bilsby." Gunn writes that they were born before or possibly after his marriage to Mary.

thebigloc said...

Family and Education

Born by 1521, illegitimate son of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk & Elizabeth of Sigston. Married by 1545, to Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Pigot of Clotherholme, widow of Sir James Strangways of Harlsey and Whorlton, d.s.p. Knighted. 30 Sept 1544 by King Henry VIII

Offices Held

Steward and constable Sheriff Hutton, Jan. 1544.


This bastard son of the Duke of Suffolk is not to be confused with the duke’s lawful younger son Charles, a precocious youth who died in his early ’teens at about the same time as his illegitimate namesake. In November 1542 Brandon was on the Scottish border, where he commanded a garrison of 200 men and took part in raiding: he probably accompanied his father, for the duke was warden of the marches that autumn and between January 1543 and February 1544 was lieutenant on the borders. While at Coldstream Charles Brandon lost some plunder which he had gained during the forays. After being made in January 1544 steward and constable of Sheriff Hutton, the important royal castle and lordship in Yorkshire, whence he was required to furnish 50 men against the Scots, he next saw service in France and was knighted at Boulogne in September 1544.

Unmentioned in the will which his father made in 1545, Brandon was by then married to Elizabeth Strangways, a coheir in whose right he acquired considerable property in Yorkshire, including the manor and castle of Sigston which he probably made his chief residence: when in March 1546 her father’s estates were partitioned, Brandon and his wife received one third of them. In the following summer he was again involved in the war with France and was noted as one of the men who ‘broke their staves and did very honestly’; he was rewarded with £40 towards his expenses. At the end of the year, on his wife’s surrender of the manor of Greenshaw and of a pension, he and she acquired former monastic property in Yorkshire, including the manors of Appleton Wiske and Unerby. Brandon seems to have pressed his landed claims with little scruple: in the survey of the commissioners of chantries in Yorkshire he and Lord Dacre were recorded as having seized the lands of the Maison Dieu, an almshouse at Northallerton founded by Sir James Strangways, and as having failed to supply a priest or to pay anything to the poor of the place.

In 1547 Brandon was chosen senior knight of the shire for Westmorland. Although his father had been connected with the borders and he himself was established in the north, Brandon seems to have had no personal connexion with this county, and his election there presupposes powerful support. This is most likely to have come from Henry Clifford, 2nd Earl of Cumberland, who was Suffolk’s son-in-law, with the Protector himself perhaps recommending this youngster who had served under him. Nothing is known of Brandon’s part in the proceedings of the Commons, but some three months after the close of the third session, while still in London, he wrote to the Earl of Shrewsbury, president of the council in the north, about the terms of a grant of Balk grange in Bagby, Yorkshire, which Sir William Pickering, one of his fellow-Members and his successor as constable of Sheriff Hutton, was disputing with Sir George Garret: the matter may have come before the Council and Brandon as a witness of the grant made in Pickering’s house in London rebutted certain allegations. By August 1551 Brandon was back on the borders, for it was at Alnwick that he died on the 12th of that month. (Sir) Robert Bowes was to take his place in Parliament for the fourth session.

thebigloc said...

also n 22 July 1551 Brandon, presumably a sick man although he does not so describe himself, had made a will which reflects a Protestant outlook: he declared that there was ‘no salvation for me but by the shedding of Christ’s most precious blood, into whose hands I commit my soul’. He died a man of considerable substance in his adopted county of Yorkshire. Apart from his wife, the principal beneficiary was his ‘cousin’ Humphrey Seckford, a younger brother ofThomas Seckford, to whom he left Sigston. His wife was the residuary legatee with the proviso that if she should fail to carry out her duties as executrix within a year, the lands and goods were to go for that purpose to her fellow-executor Francis Seckford, Humphrey’s eldest brother. Another of the Seckford brothers, Anthony, was to receive £10. The Seckfords of Great Bealings, Suffolk, were distantly related to the Brandons but their evident intimacy with this illegitimate member of the family suggests that Sir Charles Brandon’s mother may have been a Seckford. Brandon also gave gold bracelets to his ‘sister Sandon’, probably the Frances of unknown parentage who was the wife of William Sandon of Ashby by Partney, Lincolnshire, and perhaps also the Frances, base daughter of Charles, Duke of Suffolk, who married Andrew Billesby of Bilsby in the same county. Among those receiving rings or sums of money were the dowager Countess of Sussex (£200), ‘young William Naunton’, probably the fourth son of the Member for Boston in the Parliament of 1547 (£40), and a ‘Mr. Gyldon’, perhaps William Sandon’s uncle Thomas Gildon (a ring worth 5 marks). Three members of the Grey family, including the Marquessof Dorset, witnessed the will which was proved on 16 Nov. 1551.