Saturday, January 16, 2016

Question from James - Another Elizabeth Tilney

I'm looking for information on the apparent Elizabeth Tilney that was in the tower of London with Jane and apparently a niece of Agnes Howard, nee Tilney, Duchess of Norfolk.

I cannot find any evidence, at all, of her existence. None. Nadda. Zilch.

All I can find is that Agnes Howard (nee Tilney), Duchess of Norfolk's brother, Philip Tilney (b. 1463 - d. 1534) married Margaret Brewse (b.? - d.?) and they had two sons: Thomas (b. approx. 1501?) and Philip (b. 1503).

Thomas married Malena (surname unknown) and they had a son, Edmund (b. approx. 1530). Philip married Margaret Barrett and they had a son, Emery (b. approx. 1530)

This is all I can find for Agnes's brother's descendants. According to someone on this site, there is a Brandon Relative - a granddaughter of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk's aunt, Eleanor - called Elizabeth Jeffrey. This physically cannot be true as none of William Brandon's sisters have Jeffrey descendants.

William Brandon's sisters are thus, with marriages included - issue, included too from my own research:
*Mary Brandon, who married John Redying (or Reading): NO ISSUE.

*Anne Brandon, who married Nicholas Sydney, Esq: William Sidney (husband of Anne Packenham), father of Henry Sidney, grandfather of Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester.

*Elizabeth Brandon, who married firstly Augustine Caundishe (or Candishe, Cavendish), and secondly John Leventhorpe: ISSUE FROM CAVENDISH ARE: Richard, Elizabeth, Edward, Anne, Catherine - Richard has 3 daughters who marry into the Sands, Thorne and Goulde families but have no issue.
ISSUE FROM LEVENTHORPE: Margaret and Catherine who married Richard Brograve.

*Margaret Brandon "The Elder", who married Gregory Lovell, Knt: ISSUE: Thomas, Margaret, Francis and Catherine

*Margaret Brandon "The Younger" who Married Hugo / Hugh Manning de Cary: ISSUE: John, Robert, Richard

*Katherine Brandon, who married John Gurney: ISSUE: Christian (marries James Darnell) and Elizabeth (marries Walter Ayscough)

*Eleanor Brandon (c.1462 30 June 1480), who married, after 5 March 1466, as his second wife, John Glemham[8][26] (c.14601499): ISSUE: Anne, who marries Henry Pagrave.

So, you see, there's no actual "Jeffrey" relative related to Brandon... so is Elizabeth Tilney made up as well as Philip Tilney's (apparent) second and third wives?

The only other Elizabeth Tilney I can find is a daughter of Hugh Tilney and a half-sister of Philip and Agnes who died in 1497.
And, of course, Agnes's cousin, Elizabeth, Countess of Surrey.

I've seen about a book by de Lisle... but she doesn't give any evidence as to WHERE she got the information from, so apart from the name there, I've got nothing.

So, I'd like some help in filling it in.



PhD Historian said...

Questions related to Jane Grey are always my favorites! And I offer up front my usual apology for the length of my response.

First, possible identities for “Elizabeth Tilney/Tylney” have been addressed previously, on 27 December 2010. Perhaps Lara will provide a link here to that prior thread.

Elizabeth Tylney is named in the “Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary” (British Library Harley Manuscript 194) as one of the two gentlewomen who walked with the Lady Jane Grey to the scaffold. The name of the other was given simply as “mistress Eleyn.” The Chronicle is the only contemporary source that provides details about the Lady Jane’s attendants in her last weeks.

The Chronicle is actually a personal diary, its name being a modern one attached to it for descriptive purposes. The manuscript is fully datable to the period it describes, and so is not a later fictional creation. It is a valid primary source document.

The writer of the Chronicle is unknown, but it is likely that he was among the “upper level management” officials who both worked and lived within the Tower’s walls. And unlike the modern accounts of Agnes Strickland, Richard Davey, and so many others, there is little reason to question the accuracy of the writer’s details in the main portion of his Chronicle. We know from within the Chronicle itself, for example, that the author dined with the Lady Jane on 29 August 1553. The writer described Jane being accompanied at that meal by only “Jacob my lady’s gentlewoman, and her [Jane’s] man.” Later, when going to her execution on 12 February 1554, Jane was accompanied by “her 2 gentlewomen, Mistress Elizabeth Tylney and Mistress Eleyn,” probably Eleyn/Ellen Jacobs. From these two somewhat cryptic mentions, Strickland, Davey, and so many others have freely extrapolated and filled in names and details that are not actually supported by the primary sources.

We can, however, do a little reasonable and very tentative speculating to help us in our quest to identify Elizabeth Tylney, based on what we know about Tudor social customs. It is highly probable, for example, that both Elizabeth Tylney and Eleyn Jacob were approximately the same age as or younger than the Lady Jane. Jane had been married on 25 May 1553 and was thereafter considered fully adult. She therefore was no longer in need of supervision. It would have been outside the social norms, I believe, for a married woman of the Lady Jane’s high social status to have been attended by women significantly older than herself. Her attendants would have/should have been near to her own age. For these reasons, the two gentlewomen are unlikely to have been “hold-overs” from Jane’s childhood. More probably, they were newly placed with Jane at some point between Jane’s marriage and brief reign in July 1553 to augment her retinue as a newly-married woman of very high status. So we need to be looking for women who were between the ages of about 15 and 20 in 1553.

And although the author of the Chronicle styles both women as “Mistress,” we cannot assume that they were necessarily unmarried. Both Tylney and Jacob may have been marital surnames. But as if to complicate matters even further, Eric Ives names the woman as “Elizabeth Tilney” within the text of his book, but for reasons he failed to reveal he names her as “Elizabeth Tierney”(p.275-279) in the Index to that book (p.366). Given the propensity in the Tudor era for writers to spell names phonetically, we must consider a wide range of variations, including Tylney, Tilney, Tierney, and others.

PhD Historian said...


Both are described as “gentlewomen,” so Elizabeth was a person of some status herself. That is, she was not a “servant” in the modern sense of that word. She was not working class, and her “work” as an attendant to Jane was not a means to earning her own living. Instead, it was a prestigious position (at least when she was first placed with Jane early in 1553) meant to earn for Elizabeth and her family the kinds of social connections necessary for advancement in Tudor society. But in styling her “Mistress” rather than “Lady,” the author of the Chronicle reveals that she was not from among the titled nobility. She was likely from among the upper gentry.

The Tylneys associated with Agnes Tilney Howard, Duchess of Norfolk were based in Lincolnshire, but a branch descended from Philip Tylney the younger established themselves in Shelly in Suffolk. Many of those in both branches were and remained Roman Catholic well into the Elizabethan period. Obviously any Roman Catholic Tylney would not have been invited to become a lady-in-waiting to the Lady Jane Grey!

I have researched the question at some length over the years and have never been able to find a likely candidate for either Elizabeth Tylney/Tilney or Eleyn/Ellen Jacob. I suspect both will remain unidentified owing to the scarcity of documentation related to women in the Tudor era.