Gilbert TALBOT

(7th E. Shrewsbury)

Born: 20 Nov 1552

Died: 8 May 1616, Broad Street, London, England

Buried: 12 Aug 1616, St. Peter, Sheffield, England

Notes: Knight of the Garter. Will 4 May 1616; IPM (Nottingham) 18 Sep 1628. Matric. St John's, Oxford, c1566; M.P. Derbyshire 1572-83; Adm. Lincoln's, Inn 12 Mar 1577.8; K.G. 1592; M.A., Cambridge 28 Feb 1595; P.C. 1601 1603

Father: George TALBOT (6į E. Shrewsbury)

Mother: Gertrude MANNERS (C. Shrewsbury)

Married: Mary CAVENDISH (C. Shrewsbury) 9 Feb 1567/8, Sheffield


1. George TALBOT (b. 10 Feb 1574/5, Sheffield - d. 11 Aug 1577; bur. 12 Aug 1577, St. Peter, Sheffield)

2. Mary TALBOT (C. Pembroke)

3. Elizabeth TALBOT (C. Kent)

4. John TALBOT (b. 2 Jul 1583, Handsworth - d. 1583)

5. Alethea TALBOT (C. Arundel)

Gilbert Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury

The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.

Born 20 Nov 1552, second but first surviving son of George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, by his 1st w. Gertrude Manners, and bro. of Edward and Henry. educ. St. Johnís, Oxf. c.1566; travelled abroad 1568, Hamburg, Padua, Venice. m. 9 Feb. 1568, Mary, dau. of Sir William Cavendish of Chatsworth and Bess of Hardwick. Styled Lord Talbot 1582; summ. to Lords in his fatherís barony as Lord Talbot 1589; suc. fa. as 7th Earl of Shrewsbury 1590. KG 1592.

Steward of Pontefract and Tutbury, constable of Pontefract, Radnor, Tutbury and Wigmore castles 1589; j.p. Cumb., Derbys. (1573), Herefs. (1577), Notts., Salop and Yorks. 1590 or earlier; on embassy to Henri IV of France 1596; PC 1601; eccles. commr. province of York 1605; c.j. forests beyond Trent 1603; ld. lt. Derbys. 1605; constable and steward, Newark, forester of Sherwood 1607.

Talbot was elected for Derbyshire with Henry Cavendish, to whom he had become brother-in-law in a double marriage following the match between the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury and Bess of Hardwick. Both knights of the shire were under 21. Talbot was appointed to the subsidy committee, 25 Jan 1581, and perhaps to two others (unlawful weapons, 2 Mar 1576, and wharves and quays, 13 Mar) unless the Mr. Talbot in question was the Worcestershire knight of the shire. Called up to the Lords in 1589, Gilbert Talbot reported to his father ĎDivers pure fellows are very hot and earnestí about religious matters in the Commons, and ĎMr. Beale hath made a very sharp speech, which is nothing well liked by the bishopsí. During the 1593 election, the first after he succeeded to the earldom, he took advantage of the minority of his cousin the Earl of Rutland to intervene in Nottinghamshire, where Charles Cavendish and Phillip Strelley were standing against Talbotís enemy Sir Thomas Stanhope.

Until he succeeded to the earldom, Talbotís life was circumscribed by the quarrel between his father and his stepmother, Bess of Hardwick; by his fatherís custody of Mary Stuart, which frequently involved his being turned out of his fatherís house, for Queen Elizabeth would not allow even the family to remain where Mary was kept; and by his own acute shortage of money. The Talbot and Lansdowne manuscripts contain many of his requests to Michael Hickes and others to borrow on bonds for him or otherwise help him out financially, and he also raised money from London merchants. His persistent litigation in Star Chamber and elsewhere, perhaps itself the result of so much personal insecurity, worsened his financial position. During the estrangement between the Earl and the Countess he remained on good terms with his stepmother, but his relations with his father suffered from the frequent efforts he made to prevent things going too far in the early stages, and, later, from his attempts to effect a reconciliation. When, finally, the Privy Council came into the picture, Talbot withdrew, and it was his wife Mary in partnership with the Queen herself who brought about a settlement, whereupon Shrewsbury retired to Sheffield to pass his last few years with Eleanor Britton. Upon his death Talbot, now 7th Earl, entered upon a long dispute over the will with his mother-in-law, his next brother Edward and his youngest brother Henry. He also quarrelled violently with his motherís relatives the Manners family, and with many of his neighbours in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, including the Wortleys and the Stanhopes, with whom he had a particularly unwise dispute about a weir at Shelford.

In view of all the efforts of Roger and John Manners on behalf of their extravagant nephew Gilbert Talbot, it is unfortunate that the later years of the courtier were embittered by a quarrel between the seventh Earl and his brother Sir Edward Talbot, in which Roger Manners sided with the younger brother, and, as might have been expected, returned to court in 1594 in his behalf. The quarrel, as pieced out from the Talbot Papers and Hunterís Hallamshire: the History and Topography of the Parish of Sheffiel, as well as one letter of Manners, grew out of accusations by the Earl that his brother had made fraudulent claims to property, the Earl even accusing his brother of trying to poison him. A chemist long in the pay of the Countess of Shrewsbury was said to have assisted Sir Edward; the death of his brother was supposed to come from a pair of perfumed gloves. The Earl twice tried to force his brother into a duel. The Earl used 'displeasing words' to Roger Manners, who, as he wrote John Manners, was defending the younger brother as best he could. The matter had gone to the Star Chamber, and he hoped the young man would be proved innocent: 'For in trueth I think him no more giltie then I am in practysyng your death, whos life I wisshe as myne owne'. In his 'wonted manner', he had dealt plainly with the Earl and had told him he did not believe his sister could have brought forth so mischievous and unnatural a child. For these causes he had remained in London that Christmas. The following Apr, he did not go to Belvoir to the funeral of the Dowager Countess Elizabeth, but wrote the fifth Earl of rutland: 'In truth, I am old and lazy and cannot make so long a journey to go and return before the term, which I must do or else a near kinsman of yours and mine will go to wrack, which God forbid, for his cause is honest'. In Dec the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury still 'malin' him above all measure, yet he prayed for their welldoing. And that is as far as we can trace his part in the matter. But Sir Edward Talbot escaped the charges of the Star Chamber, although the chemist was imprisoned and had his ears cut off.

In the upshot Bess of Hardwick won the legal contest over the will by pre-empting the services of all the available lawyers during her final visit to London in 1591-2, but the matter was still in dispute between them as late as July 1606. The dowager countess made peace with his daughter Mary in Jan 1608, a month before her death, but Gilbert Talbot received nothing under her will.

In 1596 (it can have been because of his rank only) Talbot was included in an embassy to France, and he was a cupbearer at Elizabethís funeral in 1603. He entertained James I at Worksop and was a commissioner for claims at the coronation. He was at first high in Jamesís favour, being granted a lucrative office in the royal forests, but he was implicated in the so-called Main and Bye plots, and possibly in the Gunpowder Plot. His enemies, by now numerous, raked up old accusations that he was a secret Catholic. These dated back to at least 1592, and were given substance when Mary Talbot openly avowed her own Catholicism and advanced the claims of her niece Arabella Stuart. In 1611 Mary Talbot was put in the Tower, and all Shrewsburyís efforts failed to secure her release. The letter writer, John Chamberlain, reported in 1613 that although she had previously had the liberty of the Tower, Ďand sometimes leave to attend her lord in his sicknessí (gout), she had recently been confined more strictly. Shrewsbury voluntarily absented himself from Privy Council meetings, and continued to press for her pardon. She was released in Dec 1615, five months before her husbandís death on 8 May 1616 at his London house in Broad Street. He was buried that August at St. Peterís, Sheffield, Ďwith the greatest pomp ever seen in the kingdomí.

Only three daughters survived him: Mary; Elizabeth and Alethea.

Talbot,Gilbert(7ļE.Shrewsbury)01.jpg (288674 bytes)

Detail of Elizabeth in procession to Blackfriars in 1600

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