Henry Wriothesley

(2nd E. Southampton)

Christened: 24 Apr 1545, St.Andrew's, Holborn

Acceded: 1550

Died: 4 Oct 1581, Itchel, Hampshire, England

Buried: 30 Nov 1581, Titchfield, Hampshire, England

Notes: The Complete Peerage vol.XIIp1,p.126-127.

Father: Thomas WRIOTHESLEY (1 E. Southampton)

Mother: Jane CHENEY (C. Southampton)

Married: Mary BROWNE (C. Southampton) 19 Feb 1565/6, London, Middlesex, England


1. Henry WRIOTHESLEY (3 E. Southampton)

2. Maria WRIOTHESLEY (B. Arundell of Wardour)

Only surviving son of Thomas Wriothesley, first earl of Southampton, by his wife, Jane Cheney, was christened on 24 Apr 1545 'at St. Andrewes in Holborne with great solempnity', William Parr, Earl of Essex was deputy for his godfather, the king Henry VIII; and the Duke of Suffolk was the other godfather; Lady Mary was godmother at the christning; and the Earl of Arundel godfather at the 'bishopinge'. He was styled Baron Wriothesley from 1547 until 30 Jul 1550, when he succeeded as second Earl of Southampton. In Aug 1552 Edward VI was entertained at Titchfield, and in 1560 the council entrusted the Earl, 'as a ward of state', to the care of William More of Loseley Park, near Guildford. Southampton, who was privately educated, inclined to the Roman catholic religion, and married into a Roman catholic family. His wife was Mary, daughter of Anthony Browne, first viscount Montague, and the marriage took place on 19 Feb 1565/6, when Southampton was still under age, at Montague's house, 'by hys advyse without the consent of my lady hys mother'.

In 1569 he entertained Queen Elizabeth at Titchfield, but his Roman catholic sympathies had already involved him in the scheme for marrying Mary Queen of Scots to the Duke of Norfolk. This was not the limit of his disloyalty; for on 1 Dec 1569 the Spanish ambassador wrote to the Duke of Alva, 'Lord Montague and the Earl of Southampton have sent to ask me for advice as to whether they should take up arms or go over to your excellency'. On the 18th he reported that the two lords actually started for Flanders, but were driven back by contrary winds. Southampton was arrested on 16 Jun 1570, and placed in the custody of Sir William More of Loseley, his former guardian. According to Guerau de Spes the Earl was again arrested in Oct 1571, 'having come unsuspiciously to court'. He was reported to be one of those 'with whom Ridolfi most practised, and upon whom he put most trust', and, according to the Bishop of Ross, Southampton consulted him as to whether he might conscientiously obey Queen Elizabeth after the bull of excommunication. He was examined on 31 Oct 1571 and denied the truth of these accusations.

He is said to have remained at Loseley till Jul 1573, but it appears that after this examination he was really confined in the Tower. On 30 Mar 1573 his father-in-law was allowed to confer with him 'touching matters of law and the use of his living in the lieutenant [of the Tower]'s presence'. On 1 May following he was allowed 'more liberty', and on 14 Jul was permitted to remain with Montague at Cowdray, near Midhurst, Sussex. His dispute with the lieutenant of the Tower about his diets was settled by arbitration, and on 12 Jul 1574 he was placed on the commission of the peace for Hampshire. He was also a commissioner for the transport of grain, commissioner of musters, and suppress piracy. Two months before his death he was suspected of harbouring Edmund Campion; and on 20 Dec 1581 his house in Holborn was searched by order of the council.

It needs to be pointed out that it is a certainty that one of Edward Dymoke's relatives by the name of Thomas had been a favorite of Henry, 2 Earl of Southampton.

Southampton died, in his thirty-seventh year, on 4 Oct 1581, and was buried in Titchfield church, where his monument is still extant. By his wife Southampton had issue a son, who died young; his son and successor, Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton; and a daughter Mary, who in 1585 married in her mother's private chapel in St. Andrew's, Holborn, Thomas Arundell, afterwards first baron Arundell of Wardour; the marriage license, dated 18 Jun 1585, was issued to the bridegroom's father, Sir Matthew Arundell. His will, dated 29 Jun 1581, was proved in 1583. His widow married, as her second husband, Sir Thomas Heneage; and as her third, in May 1598, Sir William Hervey of Kidbrooke. She died in 1607, and was buried at Titchfield, her will, dated 22 Apr, being proved on 4 Nov 1607. Autograph letters from Southampton to Burghley and the lords of the council desiring his release are extant in Lansdowne MSS. 16, arts. 22 and 23, and 17, art, 14.

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