Walter STRICKLAND of Sizergh, Esq.Born: 5 Apr 1516, Sizergh, Westmoreland, England
Died: 8 Apr 1569
Father: Walter STRICKLAND of Sizergh (Sir)Mother: Catherine NEVILLE
Contracted to: Margaret HAMERTON (dau. of Sir Stephen Hamerton) 8 Mar 1535
Married 1: Agnes HAMMERTON (dau. of Sir Stephen Hamerton and Elizabeth Bigod)Children:
1. Ellen STRICKLAND
Married 2: Alice TEMPEST (d. 1595) (dau. of Nicholas Tempest of Stella) (w. of Christopher Place - m.3 Sir Thomas Boynton) ABT 1560/1Children:
2. Thomas STRICKLAND of Sizergh and Thornton Briggs (Sir)
3. Robert STRICKLAND
4. Alice STRICKLAND
5. Ellen STRICKLAND
Born on 5 Apr 1516 in Sizergh Castle, Westmorland, England, son of Sir Walter Strickland and Catherine, dau. of Ralph Neville of Thornton Bridge. Cardinal Wolsey had the wardship of young Walter in 1529 and 1530. After Wolsey's fall in 1530 Thomas Strickland, Walter's uncle, succeeded him as Walter's guardian.
His marital affairs are not entirely clear. On 8 Mar 1535, while under age, he was contracted to marry Margaret Hamerton, daughter of Sir Stephen Hamerton. Walter's marriage to Sir Stephen's daughter, seem to have been intended to take place about 29 Sep 1535, on which date Henry Clifford, Lord Clifford; Thomas Cheney, Knight; Francis Bigod, Knight; Oswald Wollesthorp or Wilstrop, Knight; and others 'levied a fine against William Knyvet, Esq., and Lady Katherine Strickland, his wife, concerning lands of her inheritance'. Walter's mother and his stepfather, deforciants in this proceeding, were probably amicable to this transaction and evidently intended to provide dower rights for Walter's bride. But there is no record of the marriage ever taking place, and it is said that Margaret took her own life a few days before the expected marriage. Both the Hamertons and Stricklands were extensive landowners; this marriage contract was in consonance with the custom of that era, by which considerations of wealth determined choice of spouse. Moreover, Walter was cousin to Stephen, both being descended from John Bethom, Knight, dead by 1407. Walter's mother was cousin to Stephen's wife, both being descended from Eleanor Fitzhugh, who died in 1457, having first married Phillip, Lord Darcy; secondly, Thomas Tunstal of Thurland Castle, Knight; and thirdly, Henry Bromflet, Lord Vescy.
During the Pilgrimage of Grace, the rebellion led by Robert Aske and Lord Darcy, who had drawn their cousin, Sir Francis Bigod, into their counsels. The latter, in turn, although not entirely convinced as to the timeliness of the rebellion, evidently swayed his brother-in-law, Sir Stephen Hamerton, whom, in turn wrote in Oct 1536, to his friend Walter. Young Strickland, after reading Hamerton's letter and one from Aske, received three days later, went to Pontefract, Yorkshire, where, in Dec, with others, he received the King's pardon for being implicated in the uprising. Hamerton, too, was so pardoned; however his slight part in the rebellion was pounced upon by his enemies, the Stanleys, as an excuse for Stephen's attainder and death by hanging on 25 May 1537. While it is not known when Margaret died, the will of Elizabeth Bigod, relict of Stephen Hamerton, Knight, dated 3 May 1538, names no children except Mary and Anne. From this fact, it seems clear that Margaret had died by 3 May 1538. Sir Stephen's only son, Henry, died testate on 3 Aug 1537 of heartbreak, for his father and uncle had very recently been executed with many of their kin, and their lands forfeited. Seemingly as an incident of the Crown's policy of placating the Northern gentry (so many of whom had been involved in the late rebellion) Walter Strickland was a member of the jury which in 1537 rendered a verdict of 'guilty' against Sir Francis Bigod. This jury was, nonetheless, excused from rendering any verdict in the trial of Agnes' father, Sir Stephen Hamerton.
He inherited Thornton Bridge, the unentailed manor of his maternal grandfather, Ralph Neville, as his mother's eldest son and heir. He was assistant to the Deputy Warden of West Marches in 1537. His muster roll book at Sizergh shows that when summoned for duty in defence of the border he rode out with a fully equipped company 290 strong, by far the largest number of anyone in the county.
In records of 1537, Walter is mentioned as having a wife, Agnes. Bellasis stated that this Agnes was named as Walter's wife in his 'special livery' which is perhaps that cited in 'Letters and Papers of Henry VIII' under date 16 Jun 1537. It is entirely possible that Agnes is the same as Anne, a younger daughter of Sir Stephen Hamerton and Elizabeth Bigod, and she may also be the mother of Ellen, since Ellen and John named their first child Anne. In her will Lady Elizabeth Bigod named supervisors, beside her daughters, Marmaduke Constable and Oswald Wilstrope, knights (her cousins) and 'Mr. Walter Strickland'. At that date, 3 May 1538, Walter had recently passed his twenty-second birthday, and was thus somewhat youthful for such an appointment. Moreover, Lady Elizabeth's daughter Margaret seems then to have been dead, for she is not named in the will. It would, then seem possible that Agnes (Anne), Elizabeth's daughter, was even then married to Walter, for only such an alliance appears to explain his appointment as a supervisor in company with Elizabeth's close relatives.
Whatever the name and identity of the mother, Walter recognized Ellen as his 'natural daughter' and made provision for her in his will. Ellen also apparently lived with her father in Sizergh Castle.
Until 1553 Agnes had influential friends and relatives who likely enough would have been able to dissuade a husband from setting her aside. For example, Agnes' sixth cousin, the powerful Lord Clifford, who died in 1542, had been a friend of the Hamertons.
Walter's father had been third cousin to Catherine Parr. Moreover, Walter's mother, Catherine, Lady Strickland, took as her second husband, in 1528 (between 9 Jan and 29 Sep) Henry Borough, Esq., when she was twenty-nine years old. He was second son of Edward, Lord Borough of Gainsborough, Lincs., who had several weeks before taken as his final wife, Catherine Parr, a girl fourteen years younger than Lady Strickland, her cousin. Thus, as a grown woman, Lady Strickland styled a girl fifteen years old (the future Queen Catherine) 'my good mother'. Therein probably arose no little merriment between the two. Even after Catherine became Queen, she will probably have remembered the Stricklands with affection. But Catherine Parr had also, as wife to John Neville, third Lord Latimer, been stepmother to young Margaret Neville, who in 1534 was betrothed to Ralph Bigod, first cousin to Agnes. The resulting acquaintances could well have caused the benevolent Catherine Parr to be of aid to Agnes. In this event Edward VI, known to have been greatly influenced by his stepmother, Catherine Parr, would appear to have been inclined to help Agnes.
Such protection to Agnes doubtless would have been continued by Mary Tudor, whose mother's situation had been similar to that of Agnes (each being an in-law wife whose position was imperiled by a husband's self interest). During Mary's reign it is significant that Walter is named in none of the Patent Rolls, although in the preceding and subsequent reigns he is named on several occasions; this may well indicate that Mary Tudor and her court did not favorably view Walter.
Only after the accession of Elizabeth, in Nov 1558, no friend to the memory of Catalina of Aragon, would the supposed tenure of Agnes as Walter's wife appear to have seriously weakened. He had, it would seem, long kept Agnes out of sight (evidently in the top room of the tower at Sizergh) and in this he could well have had influential help at Court.
Significantly, it was shortly afterwards (i.e., in the first month of 1561) that Walter proceeded to take his final wife. His only known marriage occurred about Jan 1560/1, when he took to wife Alice Tempest. A contract for the marriage of he and Alice Tempest was signed on 20 Jan 1560/61 in England. Alice was widow of Sir Christopher Place. But Walter Strickland must have married before he was forty-four years old, for in those days an heir was usually married on reaching his majority, and often earlier.
He died on 8 Apr 1569 in England at age 53. In his will, dated 23 Jan 1568, he gave 'my daughter Elyn' the then substantial sum of two hundred pounds provided she would not marry contrary to the wish of Alice, his wife. Walter's seeming oversight in not styling Ellen base is a cause for wonder, because, for legal reasons, it then seems to have been usual for testators to style their bastard issue as 'base', probably to preclude possible later suits relative to inheritances, for a great number of ancient wills, deeds and charters prohibited the passing of lands by inheritance to base born issue.
After Walter's death, Alice married Sir Thomas Boynton. It was during the time that Walter and Alice lived in the castle that all the Elizabethan part was built and paneling installed. Alice remained at Sizergh Castle after the death of Walter and her marriage to Sir Thomas Boynton to look after the young Strickland children. Being a lady of great taste, she was responsible for much of the paneling and other 16th Century ornamentation. After Sir Thomas Boynton's death, Alice moved to Yorkshire.
Alice died in 1588, having by will dated 18 Jan 1586 (proved 24 Mar 1595) bequeathed ten pounds to 'Ellenor Carltonn, base daughter to my husband, Mr. Strickland'. From this it would seem that Ellen (or Eleanor, the probable baptismal name) was daughter to Walter by a concubine.
The style 'Madam Hamerton's room still in use in 1770 at Sizergh must have had some origin. It appears, from a study of the Strickland family history, that the presence at Sizergh of no person except Agnes, born Hamerton, could have accounted for the designation 'Madam Hamerton's room'. 'Madam Hamerton' is just the condescending style that Alice Strickland and her son Thomas (Ellen's half-brother) naturally would have used to designate Agnes Hamerton, whom they must have considered a voidable wife, as apparently did Walter. Moreover, Alice (for her own protection and good name) will have contended that Agnes had been no wife at all.
However, prima facie evidence of Ellen's legitimacy seems to exist in the term 'my daughter Elyn' used to describe her by Walter's will. Moreover, the only wife Agnes whom he could have set aside with impunity evidently was she who had been his sister-in-law before he married her. Any other wife, Agnes, if set aside, would supposedly have had recourse to recorded legal remedy; but no record can be found regarding a suit on this score.
As we have seen, Walter was survived by two wives, Agnes and Alice, named in that order, and both living in 1585.
Bellasis, Edward; Lancaster Herald: Transactions, Cumberland and Westinorland Antiquariaiz and Archaeological Society; The pedigree of Strickland; 1889 volume.
Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Association: Yorkshire Fines; vol. 2p. 73, vol. 1.
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