Life in Elizabethan England Next

Ladies of Honour

Elizabeth Brydges

This is not a complete or comprehensive list, because it can't be. The record appears to be full of holes, and there are no extant lists showing who was a Maid of Honour, Lady of the Bedchamber, or whathaveyou at any time during the reign. The best we can do is poke through inventories, wardrobe books, New Year's gift lists, side references, and anecdotes to identify these ladies by the stories in which they appear.

It is uncertain even how many Maids of Honour there were at any one time, although 6 appears to be the most common. The number of ladies altogether seems to have been between 12 and 24 at various times, including Ladies and Gentlewomen of the Privy Chamber, Bed Chamber, and ordinary chamberers. The Maids apparently were there to be decorative and run errands, carry messages, and entertain with singing and dancing. Other more senior ladies had more particular duties, such as keeper of the jewel box or mistress of the robes. Blanche Parry seems to have served as librarian.

All dates are approximate. The date I have is probably a reference to a particular occasion or event. It doesn't mean that was the only year the lady was in royal service. Some Maids returned after marriage on and off for years as ladies of the Bed or Privy Chamber. Also, some families are better represented than others, notably the Howards, Careys, and Russells. Where possible I've noted the family connection, even if I'm not sure of the relationship, just for family recognition.

Ladies who share a name, I have sorted out and marked with a number. Ladies who had several positions over time are marked with a letter. "Connections" refers to family connections, even if it's not certain what that relationship was.

Forms of address: Among Maids of Honour, the title "Lady" is used only when it belongs to the girl by virtue of her birth. An unmarried lady of Honour was not addressed as "Lady" at any time during the reign unless she was an Earl's, Marquis's, or Duke's daughter. All others were addressed as Mistress. A title came with marriage, never with royal office.

Name

Position

Approx. years of service

Notes/ Connections

Anne Knollys

MoH

 

earl of Essex

Elizabeth Howard

MoH

 

duke of Norfolk

Frances Johnson

MoH

 

 

Frances Vaughn

MoH

 

 

Philadelphia Carey

MoH

 

later Lady Scrope. The Carey girls are all sisters, Hunsdon's dtrs, granddtrs of Mary Boleyn

Mary Howard

MoH

early reign

Effingham's dtr; Douglas's sister

Mary Mackwilliam

Privy chamber

 

nee Hill

Anne Carey

Privy Chamber

throughout

nee Morgan. Lady Hunsdon

Blanche Parry

Privy Chamber

pre1558-90

Chief Lady of the Privy Chamber, Keeper of the Jewel Box, also librarian

Katherine Ashley

Bed Chamber

pre1558 - 65

First lady of the bed chamber

Mary Sidney

Privy Chamber

1558-62

Sir Henry Sidney's wife, Philip Sidney's mother, Leicester's sister

Katherine Carey (a)

MoH

1558

The Carey girls are all sisters, Hunsdon's dtrs, granddtrs of Mary Boleyn

Elizabeth Hardwick

Bed chamber

1558, 1565-68

"Bess of Hardwick" served between marriages 2&3 and 3&4

Dorothy Stafford

Privy Chamber

Mistress of the Robes

1558-1603

1562-1603

Lady Stafford (but not baroness Stafford)

Lady Catherine Grey

MoH

1559-61

Suffolk's dtr, later countess of Hertford

Lettice Knollys

MoH

before 1561

later Countess of Essex

Mary Ratcliffe

MoH

1561-1603

Never married. Granddaughter to the 1st earl of Sussex.

Dorothy Broadbelt (a)

Privy Chamber

1562-68

Served with Kat Ashley.

Kathryn Dudley

Privy Chamber

from 1563/64

Countess of Huntingdon

Katherine Carey (b)

Privy Chamber

1560s

The Carey girls are all sisters, Hunsdon's dtrs, granddtrs of Mary Boleyn

Catherine Knyvett (a)

MoH

1562-63

 

Catherine Knyvett (b)

Bed Chamber

after 1564

as Lady Paget

Helena von Snakenberg

MoH

from about 1564

Came to England with Princess Cecilia and stayed as QE's Maid of Honour; later Marchioness of Northampton

Lady Anne Russell (1)

MoH

before 1565

Bedford's dtr, later Countess of Warwick

Lady Mary Grey

MoH

before 1565

Suffolk's dtr, married the serjeant porter

Anne Windsor

MoH

1565

Lord Windsor

Dorothy Brooke (a)

MoH

1565

 

Katherine Brydges

MoH

1565

Lord Chandos

Mary Howard

MoH

1565

 

Margaret Stanley

Privy Chamber

1568-70

Countess of Derby, nee Clifford

Elizabeth Marbery

Bed Chamber

1570

 

Douglas Howard

MoH

early 70s?

Effingham's dtr; later Lady Sheffield

Anne Cecil

MoH

1570-71

Burghley's dtr, later Countess of Oxford

Lady Frances Howard (1a)

MoH

1570-82

Effingham's dtr

Lady Elizabeth Hastings

MoH

before 1571

Huntingdon's sister. later countess of Worcester

Elizabeth Stafford

Chamberer

1572

later, Lady Drury ?

Anne West

MoH

1572

 

Eleanor Brydges

MoH

1572

Chandos

Elizabeth Garrett

MoH

1572

 

Elizabeth Knollys

MoH

1572

 

Isabel Holcroft

MoH

1572

 

Katherine Howard

MoH

1572

 

Lady Susan Bowser

MoH

1572

 

Mary Shelton (a)

MoH

1572

 

Lady Elizabeth Clinton

Privy Chamber

1572-86 (?)

As Baroness Clinton. After 1572, as Countess of Lincoln

Lady Mary Vere

MoH

1575

Oxford's sister, later Lady Willoughby D'Eresby

Frances Vaughn

MoH

1578

 

Elizabeth Wyngfield

Mother of Maids

~1577-98

Responsible for wrangling the Maids of Honour

Lady Elizabeth Howard

MoH

early 1580s

Earl of Nottingham's dtr

Lady Mary Hastings

MoH

early 1580s

Huntingdon's sister.

Margaret Carey

MoH

Before 1582

later Lady Edw. Hoby. The Carey girls are all sisters, Hunsdon's dtrs, granddtrs of Mary Boleyn

Elizabeth Throckmorton

MoH

1584-91

later Lady Walter Raleigh

Lady Carew

Bed Chamber

1586-89

 

Jane Brussels

Chamberer

1586-89

 

Katherine Newton

Chamberer

1586-89

 

Dorothy Brooke (b)

Bed Chamber

1586-89

as Lady Cobham

Mary Shelton (b)

Privy Chamber

1586-89

as Mary Scudamore

Dorothy Broadbelt (b)

Privy Chamber

1586-89

After marriage?

Dorothy Edmunds

Privy Chamber

1586-89

 

Lady Hartford

Privy Chamber

1586-89

 

Lady Howard

Privy Chamber

1586-89

 

Lady Layton (Leighton?)

Privy Chamber

1586-89

Possibly Lettice Knollys's sister.

Anne Vavasour

MoH

1580-81

 

Frances Vavasour

MoH

1590-91

Anne's sister

Anne Hopton

MoH

1588-89

later Lady Wentworth

Penelope Devereaux

Privy Chamber

by 1589

Lady Rich, sister to the 2nd earl of Essex

Elizabeth Vernon

MoH

1597-98

Essex's cousin, later c. of Southampton

Frances Brydges

MoH

1590s

Lord Chandos' dtr.

Mary Fitton

MoH

1590s

 

Brigit Manners

MoH

early 1590s

Earl of Rutland

Elizabeth Egerton

Privy Chamber

1590s

Lady Egerton "my sweet apple

Mary Howard

MoH

1591-97

Lord Effingham's dtr

Elizabeth Brydges

MoH

1594

Lord Chandos

Lady Elizabeth Russell

MoH

1594

Bedford's dtr

Lady Anne Russell (2)

MoH

1594-1600

Bedford's dtr, later Countess of Worcester

Lady Elizabeth Somerset

MoH

1596

Earl of Worcester's dtr

Lady Katherine Somerset

MoH

1596

 

Lady Mary Howard

MoH

1596

 

Lady Elizabeth Clinton

Privy Chamber

1596

2nd earl of Lincoln's dtr. Lady Gorges

Lady Frances Howard (2)

Privy Chamber

1597-1600

Nottingham's dtr, Douglas's sister, later Lady Cobham

Lucy Hyde

Mother of Maids

1598-1603

 

Lettice Garrett

MoH

1599

No other info but "Garrett" is an Irish variant of "Gerald".

Lord Burgh's daughter

MoH

1599

No other info

Mistress Ouslow

MoH

1599

Possibly Hounslow

Mistress Southwell

MoH

1599

Later Lady Elizabeth Southwell

Lady Elizabeth Talbot

MoH

1600

Shrewsbury's dtr, Mary Talbot's sister

Lady Mary Talbot

Privy Chamber

1600

Shrewsbury's dtr

Lady Frances Howard (1b)

Privy Chamber

off & on till 1603

Effingham's dtr. as c. of Hertford, then c. of Kildare (12th earl)

Sources:

Arnold, Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd
Emerson, Wives and Daughters: Women of 16th Century England
     Refer to this book (or the online update) for other dates and stories.
Somerset, Ladies in Waiting
Peerage.com
Biographical Dictionary of English Literature Dictionary of National Biography

::  Titles and Forms of Address
::  Forms of Address for Non-Nobles
::  Patronage: Retinue, Companions, & Livery
::  Precedence, Preferment, & Attainder
::  Ranks & Files


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8 March 2010 mps