Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Question from Orla - Lettice Knollys' banishment from court

When Robert Dudley the earl of Leicester married Lettice Knollys, Elizabeth found out and banished Lettice from court, my question is to what extent would this have been carried out? Say if for example Elizabeth was holding court at Richmond Palace, was Lettice allowed to stay at her husband's residence in London, so she was not too far away, or was she not allowed in London at all and forced to stay in her husband's country estates?


Anonymous said...

She could stay in her own houses, as long as Elizabeth herself didn't visit them, which did occurr more frequently than before. However, Lady Leicester did not use this title until some 4-5 years into the marriage; she simply went as the widowed Lady Essex. This apparently made a difference; there was trouble for Leicester when his wife lived officially at Leicester House as his wife in 1583. Elizabeth also was outraged at Lettice's summer visit to Kenilworth with her husband in 1585 (perhaps Lettice's first since her marriage). Much of the time she stayed much at her father's house in Oxfordshire.

kb said...

Hi Anonymous - I would love to know your source for Elizabeth's anger of Lettice's visit to Kenilworth as well as for her spending time at her father's house in Oxfordshire.

shtove said...

I like that name - Lettice.

Knollys' wikipedia page says she was also called Laetitia, so I suppose that's where it comes from (AE is pronounced EE in latin, so maybe Lettice came out as Leetice - or maybe Leetish, which seems more affectionate):

Plenty of refs in that article, so you should be able to trace the Kenilworth incident.

kb said...

Regarding the name Lettice:

It is sometimes written as Laetitia. Lettice Knollys
Devereux Dudley, daughter of Katherine Carey and Francis Knollys, was named
after Francis’s mother Lettice Penniston Knollys Tresham Lee, and had four
nieces, a granddaughter and a sister-in-law, who was most likely also her goddaughter,
all named Lettice.

Lettice Knollys countess of Essex and Leicester had been a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth from at least January 1559 along with 2 of her younger sisters and probably earlier. Her family was much loved by Elizabeth. She retained her post at court until her marriage in 1560 to Walter Devereux lord Hereford and heir to the earldom of Essex. The queen likely attended the wedding.

Lettice's marriage to Robert Dudley was held in secret in 1578 with few witnesses. This was why she was still known as the countess of Essex for a while after her marriage. Although this secret was not kept long as Lettice seems to have been pregnant when she married Dudley. It is unlikely that her pregnancy in 1578 resulted in a healthy child as Leicester's heir, Robert Dudley baron Denbeigh was born in 1581.

Lettice was at Kenilworth during the famous progress of 1575. She was also at Kenilworth in 1573 hunting with her younger sister Anne. She was hunting again at Kenilworth in 1574, 1576 and 1577. After her first husband died, she retired for a bit to her father's home Rotherfield Greys, where she had been born near Reading. She also may have spent some time at court and at one of her jointure properties in Bennington, Hertfordshire.

Lettice spent time at Leicester House in London, her father's house and sometimes her son's houses. Leicester House however was quite large enough to accommodate her, her many siblings and dependents.

Anonymous, do you have the "Elizabeth also was outraged at Lettice's summer visit to Kenilworth with her husband in 1585" from the S. Adams article in the Dictionary of National Biography? there is quite a bit of material in that article including several additional sources.

To go back to the original question, banished from court also, technically meant, banishment from the verge which was a measured area around the court. However, Lettice could be in London at anyone's house as long as the queen did not see her.