Archive for the ‘Sir Thomas Wyatt’ Category

Bloody Mary

Queen Mary, a.k.a. "Bloody Mary"

Why did our ancestor Thomas Wyatt the Younger lead a revolution against Queen Mary, Henry VIII’s oldest daughter?  Watching “Elizabeth” (the Special Edition version) was an entertaining way to get some sense for it.

I believe the portrayal of Queen Mary was accurate; the actress who played her even looked like paintings of the real queen.  From what I’ve read of Mary, her health was never good and my God, what a miserable childhood.   When you think about the family dynamics, this beats anything you’d see on Springer.

Henry VIII thought little of discarding his first wife (Catherine of Aragon) when she was beyond her ability to produce live sons – just as he thought very little of declaring their daughter Mary a bastard.

Henry married Anne and had her crowned Queen of England. Per Wikipedia – “Anne had been crowned with St. Edward’s crown, unlike any other queen consort, while carrying Elizabeth. Historian Alice Hunt has suggested that this was done because Anne’s pregnancy was visible at the moment of coronation and she was carrying an heir who was presumed to be male.”

I wrote about King Edward – St. Edward – in a previous blog. he is another fascinating distant relative. He was succeeded by William the Conqueror – our immediate ancestor through Lady Elizabeth Brooke’s line. 

After Anne Boleyn gave birth to Elizabeth, Mary was forced to SERVE her little sister while being denied access to her own mother. When Catherine of Aragon died, Mary was not allowed to attend the funeral.

Elizabeth’s childhood would be even more extreme. Her mother Anne Boleyn was beheaded when Elizabeth was less than three years old.

Imagine the adult dynamic of Mary and Elizabeth – half sisters, daughters of a violent father who wanted sons.

Henry finally had a son after his third marriage to Jane Seymour – Edward VI.

Thomas Wyatt had served Henry VIII as a volunteer in wars against France between 1543 and 1550. One governor wrote Henry VIII praising Wyatt’s "hardiness, painfulness, circumspection, and natural disposition to the war".  He was given command of troops and knighted in 1547. Somewhere along the line he developed a true hatred of the Spanish.

When Henry died and was succeeded by Edward VI, Thomas returned to England and stopped taking part in public affairs.  Edward was still a child when Henry died, so Protestants ruled the court on his behalf. As Edward grew, he and his half-sister Mary got into it over religion; one record talks about an instance where Mary left an event crying. While it seems Edward had a good relationship with Elizabeth, he didn’t want Mary anywhere near the throne.

John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, convinced Edward to exclude both of his sisters from the line of succession. (This was against Henry VIII’s Act of Succession.) Dudley recommended his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, instead. She was the granddaughter of Henry VIII’s younger sister Mary Tudor, Queen of France.

Sir Thomas Wyatt was part of the movement to put Jane on the throne.

Edward died at 15 of a pulmonary infection – and/or poison. Lady Jane Grey – only 16 years old – ruled for less than two weeks before being overthrown by Mary.

Jane was Mary’s cousin and Mary knew she was an innocent pawn in a power play. Her initial treatment was kind. She was kept in decent lodging at the Tower and allowed to roam the queen’s gardens. Mary even gave her a generous allowance.

Thomas and his Protestant friends watched from the sidelines UNTIL Mary made it known that she intended to marry Felipe of Spain. The combination of Roman Catholic AND Spanish influence in England was too much for Thomas.

He accepted an invitation by Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon, to rise up against Mary.  Thomas held a meeting at Allington Castle and ultimately managed to raise  4000 men. They marched on London in late January, 1554.

This event is known as “Wyatt’s Rebellion.”

The rebellion failed and Thomas was imprisoned. Some say his wife, Jane Hawte, was approached and told he would be spared if he would implicate Elizabeth; he refused. He was beheaded and dismembered, with his limbs spread across the countryside. His head was stolen; Mary confiscated his estates and titles and his family struggled to survive.

Wikipedia puts the times into one fairly neat package. I don’t always trust the information either, but I do enjoy the squabbling under the “Discussion” tab.


Mary didn’t listen to experienced members of her English court; she took her advice from Charles V of Spain. Within five days of Sir Thomas’ rebellion, she did as he suggested; she made an example of Lady Jane and her husband. Mary had Jane beheaded in private at The Tower Green, within the Tower of London. This was seen as a gesture of respect.

This account of her execution is from Wikipedia: “The executioner asked her forgiveness, and she gave it. She pleaded the axeman, ‘I pray you dispatch me quickly’. Referring to her head, she asked, ‘Will you take it off before I lay me down?’ and the axeman answered, ‘No, madam’. She then blindfolded herself. Jane had resolved to go to her death with dignity, but once blindfolded, failing to find the block with her hands, began to panic and cried, ‘What shall I do? Where is it?’ An unknown hand, possibly Feckenham’s, then helped her find her way and retain her dignity at the end. With her head on the block, Jane spoke the last words of Jesus as recounted by Luke: “Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit!”

Lady Jane’s husband was taken from the tower and beheaded in public at Tower Hill.

With Jane gone, Mary still had to decide what to do with Elizabeth. Mary sent her to the tower for two months under the assumption she was in cahoots with Thomas.

Mary burned nearly 300 Protestants at the stake, sought the love of a husband who “wasn’t that into her” and endured the humiliation of two phantom pregnancies.

Bloody Mary died at 42 years of age and Elizabeth was crowned.  “Good Bess” started turning that sinking ship. Per Wikipedia “Elizabeth set out to rule by good counsel, and she depended heavily on a group of trusted advisers led by William Cecil,  Baron Burghley. One of her first moves as queen was to support the establishment of an English Protestant church, of which she became the Supreme Governor. This Elizabethan Religious Settlement held firm throughout her reign and later evolved into today’s Church of England.”

During the time of our ancestor George Wyatt, Queen Elizabeth restored some of the Wyatt estate.

Some say Queen Elizabeth never married because of what she remembered of her mother and father from childhood.  The movie implies she was far more noble than that. Whatever the case, Anne Boleyn’s daughter achieved some wonderful things.

Unbelievably, Mary and Elizabeth were reunited in death. Per Wikipedia we learn … “The Latin inscription on a marble plaque on their tomb (affixed there by James VI of Scotland when he succeeded Elizabeth to the throne of England as James I) translates to “Consorts in realm and in tomb, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters, in hope of resurrection”.

Queen Mary was a descendant of John of Gaunt – as are we.

Anne Boleyn was Lady Elizabeth Brooke’s cousin. We are descended through Lady Elizabeth Brooke, so her daughter Queen Elizabeth would have been our … cousin once removed?

Our first ancestor to set foot in America – Hawte Wyatt – was named after Lady Hawte Wyatt, daughter and heiress of Sir William Hawte of Bishop’s Borne.

This stuff just fascinates me beyond all reason.  While it barely touches on the Wyatt connection, I felt like I was there. I watched the movie three times.

Request Elizabeth, Special Edition from Netflix or order from Amazon: 

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Well, this was interesting.

I had always heard that Sir Thomas Wyatt was a rogue, romantically speaking. Despite his marriage to Elizabeth Brooke, he was pursuing her second cousin, Anne Boleyn. (Elizabeth’s mother was Anne’s aunt. The Brooke coat of arms at left.)

Then today I saw that Wikipedia blames Elizabeth for problems in the marriage. They say she “separated from Thomas Wyatt and openly lived in adultery. He refused to financially support her, and after pursuing Anne Boleyn before her relationship with the King, he started a long-term affair with Elizabeth Darrell. In 1540, they were forced by Henry VIII to reconcile. This was as Wyatt had been accused of treason and only the begging of Catherine Howard had saved his life.”

Wikipedia is, of course, not monitored for accuracy. I discovered “Tudordaughter at blogspot.” This “distant cousin” has a completely different perspective:

“My family vine reaches back through thousands of years, through Kings and Emperor’s, but one of my most fascinating ancestors is by far my 11th great grandmother Elizabeth Brooke born in Cobhamhall, Kent England 1503 the daughter of Thomas Brooke the 8th Earl of Cobhamhall. She married my 11th great grandfather Sir Thomas Wyatt the poet who was madly in love with Anne Boleyn and wrote sonnets for her. This is of course while he was married to Elizabeth. Thomas and Elizabeth had two children a daughter Anne and my 10th great grand father Sir Thomas Wyatt the rebel who led the rebellion against Queen Mary advocating to put Jane Gray back in power as queen. He was later executed with Jane’s father Henry.

Elizabeth and Thomas had marital problems from the very beginning. I would largely suspect it had much to do with my great grandfathers roving eye, and love for Anne Boleyn. Thomas filed for a legal separation on the grounds of Elizabeth being “an adulteress” funny thing was that he could never produce any specific man that she was having an affair with. Nevertheless he kicked her out in 1537 forcing Elizabeth to live with her brother, Lord Cobham, refusing to pay support for his adulteress wife. Funny isn’t it that he was still carrying on his affair with Elizabeth Darrell. In 1541 Wyatt was arrested and his properties all confiscated. The Brooke family took advantage of this state of affairs and forced a reconciliation as a condition of Wyatt’s pardon. Apparently Lord Cobham had a lot of clout with King Henry. It doesn’t appear that Elizabeth ever went back to her home with Thomas. He would die in 1542.”


“It was early in 1542 that Lady Wyatt’s (Elizabeth) name crops up in Spanish dispatches as one of the three ladies in whom Henry VIII was said to be interested as a possible sixth wife. Any candidate had to be a direct descendant of Edward III. Elizabeth had an impeccable pedigree one that was even more princely than the King. However after his 5th wife Catherine Howard it was of up most importance that the King marry himself a wife with a spotless reputation. The scandal surrounding Elizabeth and Thomas caused the King to look elsewhere. Thank goodness for small miracles!!!!

Following Wyatt’s death Elizabeth would marry Edward Warner, Lord Lieutenant of the Tower. She died at the Tower in August 1560 and buried there within it’s precincts. Elizabeth was Anne Boleyn’s 2nd cousin, her grandmother would be Anne’s Aunt. I have to wonder what she felt about Anne and her husbands attachment to her. Did she hate her? Was this the reason she found herself a lover? I do not believe that Thomas, her husband ever wrote any sonnets for her.I love this woman, my great grandmother. What a life she led. She was right there in the middle of it all, married to one of Anne’s lovers, cousin to the queen, losing her son on the Tower Green.

According to Kelly Hart in her book Mistress’s of Henry VIII she is listed as one of his short term mistresses.”

(Note to self – buy that book.)

Learn more here:

Research on other family members from that time period is similarly fascinating.

Stay tuned.


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