Died: 24 Jul 1604

Buried: Bigby Church, Lincolnshire, England

Father: John MANNERS (4° E. Rutland)

Mother: Elizabeth CHARLTON (C. Rutland)

Married: Robert TYRWHITT of Kettelby Aug 1594


1. William TYRWHITT of Kettelby

2. Robert TYRWHITT

3. Rutland TYRWHITT

4. Bridget TYRWHITT (bur. 25 Aug 1614, Bigby)

Bridget Manners was the daughter of John Manners, 4th Earl of Rutland and Elizabeth Charlton, daughter of Francis Charlton of Apley. They had nine children. The sons were Edward, who died young; Roger, Francis, and Sir George, successively earls of Rutland; and Sir Oliver. Bridget sisters were Frances, married to William, lord Willoughby of Parham; Elizabeth, to Emanuel Scrope, Earl of Sunderland, but died without issue; and Mary, who died unmarried in Apr 1588.

Roger Manners, her great-uncle, had asked his sister-in-law, Bridget Hussey, widow of Henry Manners, 2nd Earl of Rutland, and Countess of Bedford at her third marriage, for a place for Bridget in her train at Woburn Abbey. But Lady Bridget’s going was delayed by the death of his father John, Earl of Rutland, who had inherited the title, as well as the debts, of his brother, the third Earl, only a year before. In Jun, 1588, the Countess Elizabeth, ill, and harassed in executing the will by the claims of her sister-in-law Isabel Holcroft, wrote a touching letter to the Countess of Bedford, resigning to her all her power over her oldest daughter. Lady Bridget, with no furniture, few recommendations, and many admonitions to hold up her head, started off on her journey to Woburn in Bedfordshire, where she arrived safely without mishap by highway robbery or accident. The Countess of Rutland said, among other things, that Lady Bridget had no suitable waiting-woman but the one being sent with her would serve for the present. This Mary Harding, fortunately, remained with Bridget both at Woburn and later at Court, for the letters sent in her name to the Countess are without parallel as showing the actual life of a lady-in-waiting of the Queen. Young Bridget played the lute but was otherwise uneducated; but the Countess of Bedford, after whom lady Bridget was named, was so charmed with her step grand-daughter that she decided to sponsor the girl in spite of her deficient education. 

Lady Bedford did, however, feel some displeasure towards the Countess of Rutland for having sent her daughter with so few goods and chattels, and at her request Lady Bridget wrote to her mother: 

"My Lady of Bedford did byd me send to your ladyship for a bed and for hangings for my chamber and a litel playte to set of my cubbard. She saith she wold have my chamber fyne when I wear at London, and if it pleas your Ladyship to send me such things, they shall by the grace of God be very well loaket too."

The Countess of Rutland was not pleased at having to send the furniture, thinking "a lady so honourably minded as my Lady Bedford would have afforded my daughter furniture for her chamber in her house". Nor did she approve the prospect of a Court appointment, hoping it would "not as yet fall so, for Bridget has no acquaintance in that place and is therefore most unfit for it".

After a year in the household at Woburn Abbey, Roger Manners secured a place as lady - in - waiting to Queen Elizabeth

When Lady Bridget’s going to the Court the following year was a certainty, her mother reminder the Countess of Bedford that her inheritance was small and that she had no acquaintance at the Court. The Countess of Rutland sent £200 to buy an outfit, coupled with the dubious hope that Bridget would "behave herself as shall be pleasing", and not disgrace her family by stooping at Court. She herself had not expect the favor of the Queen’s 'gracious disposition', but, as she had learned from Mr. Roger Manners that it was the Queen’s pleasure, she hoped her daughter would conduct herself in a manner that would be pleasing, and that those who were wise would remember the estate of a fatherless maid and give her the advice most needful. Perhaps she wrote her uncle Roger in the same vein; at any rate, that experienced courtier sent Bridget (29 Aug 1589) from Uffington, advice that Polonius himself might have envied. He spoke first about daily prayers: "First and above all thinges that you forgett not to use daly prayers to the Almightie God to endue you with his grace". Next, his grand-niece was to apply herself 'hollye to the service of her Magestie with all meekness, love, and obedience, wherein you must be diligent, secret, and faythfull'. He advice her as to how to treat her superiors, equals, and inferiors. She was not to be a 'medeler in the causes of others'. She was to use 'moch sylens, for that becometh maydes, specially of your calling. That your speach and indevars ever tend to the good of all and to the hurt of none. Thus in breve madam have you thes rules; which, if you have grace to follow you shall fynd the benefit, and your friendes shall rejoyce of your well doying', etc., etc. To the above Manners added a postscript asking to be remembered to Mrs. Mary Radcliffe, and Bridget's brother, the young Roger, Earl of Rutland, a Cambridge undergraduate of thirteen, subjoined another: "My uncle has given you good advice and we will pray that you may perform it".

To Court went Lady Bridget, with Mary Harding, in close attendance, to chid her if she stooped, and give careful report of all concerning her.

Mary Radcliffe, who had known Bridget's uncle so well in the past, took the new-comer under her kindly wing till the girl grew more accustomed to the strangeness of her surroundings. The Queen's "merry guardian", as the Courtiers called Mary Radcliffe, proved more like a mother than a stranger to Bridget, who soon settled down to her new duties. She was a great success, not only with the Queen, who eventually made Bridget her carver, but also with the gentlemen. Mary Harding, waiting up night after night for her young mistress, found "late watchinges and sittinges up are tedious". She assured the Countess of Rutland that Lady Bridget was "well liked of all, and endevorethe herself to be thankfull and to follow the cortely order in all pointes".That Bridget succeeded only too well in all these things is shown in a letter from the Vice-chamberlain, Thomas Heneage, in which, in the Queen’s name, he thanked the Countess for such a daughter, and also in the conviction of her waiting-woman that she would never manage to escape from the Queen’s service.

The surprised Countess of Rutland also received a letter written by the Queen's express command, commending "the exceedinge good modest and honorable behaviour and carriage of my Lady Bridget your daughter, with her carefull and dilligent attendance of Her Majestie ys to contentynge to her Highness and so commendable in this place where she lyves-where vyces will hardly receive vysards and virtues most shyne as Her Majestie acknowledgeth she hath cause to thanck you for her, and you may take comforte of so vertuouse a daughter, of whose beynge heere and attendance her majestie hath bidden me to tell your Ladyship, that you shall have no cause to repent". The Countess of Rutland expressed herself much honoured at this gratifying news, though she said she felt sure that "the gracious opinion the Queen has formed of my daughter's service, is no doubt far beyond what she is able to deserve".

And, even if we discount the conventional flattery of a contemporary poet, Bridget must have been a beautiful young lady Barnabe Barnes addressed one of the five dedicatory sonnets of his sonnet sequence Parthenophil and Parthenophe to 'the Beautiful Lady, the Lady Bridget Manners', and signed it 'your Beauty’s most affectionate servant, Barnabe Barnes'. She is the rose of the garland, the fairest and sweetest, of all those sweet and fair flowers that are the pride of chaste Cynthia’s rich crown. In his sonnets she is to behold her graces, and all the secret powers of her beauty, there set down. He continues:

'Here shalt thou finde thy frowne,

Here thy sunnie smiling,

Fames plumes flye with thye love’s which should be fleetest

Here my loves tempests and showers.

These read (sweet bewtie) whom my muse shall crowne,

(Of so devine sentes and colours)

As is immortal, time beguiling!'

Such verses, however, can have been only a passing recompense for the difficult life of a lady-in-waiting as revealed in the letters of Mary Harding. Apparently dictating her letters, since she said that she herself could not write, and once apologized for sending so few reports because of her fear in making 'any bodye aquainted white my leaters', she warned the Countess that life at the Court will be 'gretly chargeable'. Moreover, it was 'some thinge more painfuller than any wold judge. And so it will be to me alsoe, for that the late watchynges and sittinges up are tedious; yet, God be thanked, she [Lady Bridget] liketh very well and is very heltheful'. She was well thought of by her Majesty and by various ladies at court, and 'endevorethe herself to be thankfull and to follow the cortely order in all pointes'. Later, she stated that Lady Bridget carved the Queen’s meat, Lady Mary Howard being appointed cup-bearer.

Bridget, despite the Queen's favour, and her own gift of making friends, would gladly have bartered the glamour and excitement of Court for a quiet home life.

Mary Harding knew that her charge could carve the Queen’s meat all her days with no more tangible reward than the Queen’s mere satisfaction, and wrote that a husband must be found. The Countess was told that 'offers' must be made to eligible widowers or others; Mary’s candidate of the moment was Henry Percy, ninth Earl of Northumberland, but she dared not 'make Mr. Roger Manners acquainted in thes matters because I think him so slowe'. Mr. Manners, it must be admitted, got another black mark not long after from Mary Harding, who next proposed Lord Phillip Wharton, a widow of Lady Frances Clifford —whose many children she left sure Lady Bridget could learn to love— but if her Ladyship 'aske Mr. Manners his advice, he will speak stryghte of my Lorde of Bedforthe or my Lorde of Southampton'. Lady Bridget thought she had no chance there, but even so, she would prefer Lord Wharton, for Edward Russell, Earl of Bedford and Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton 'be so youge and fantastycall and woulde be so caryed awaye' that she 'doutith ther carridge of themselves' if any ill fortune befell her mother. Time, of course, was to show Lady Bridget that not only they, but her three brothers as well, would be 'caryed away' by Essex and his grievances. Mary Harding continued: 'If your Ladyship did know how weary my Lady wer of the Courte, and what little gayne there is gotten in this tyme, Her Majestie’s favorabell countenance ekcepted, which my lady haithe, your honour would willingly be contented with a meaner fortun to helpe her from hence'. Mr. Manners would have the most 'conynge' to get her away; Mary’s own plan was to have her 'fayne the messelles', get leave to come to the country for a month to 'ayre her', marry Lord Wharton, and then sue for the Queen’s mercy.

Lady Bridget’s mother, however, had consulted Roger Manners about marrying her daughter to Robert Tyrwhitt of Kettelby (b. 1573 - d. 1617), who was Elizabeth Charleton’s ward. Roger approved and was willing to help speed Bridget’s coming to her; he had thought of divers courses and conferred with his friends of most discretion —a nice behind-the-scenes glimpse— but could arrive at no plan better than her own (not mentioned). She was to send her horses and servants; he himself would willingly attend, but for his health’s sake must go to Buxton at his appointed time. He had, as she wished, acquainted the Lord Treasurer with the matter; he 'liketh and alloweth therof, so as your ladyship in my opinion shall not doe amisse to make his lordship acquainted with the rest and to require his firthherans to obtain leve of her Majestie for my lady dawter’s coming unto your honor'. This implies that Burghley’s approval was for the marriage at some indefinite date. Manners’ advice for fuller confidence was not followed, and caused all their later troubles. It was suggested by Mary Harding that Bridget should feign having measles in order to separate herself from her duties, but it was dangerous. The Countess merely asked two ladies at court to help secure leave for Lady Bridget on the grounds of her five years’ absence and her own sickness. (Nor did the Countess exaggerate here, for she died the following year.) Mary Radcliffe could manage to get most things she wanted from the Queen, and by her advocacy the girl received permission to leave Court for a month. The request was made and granted. The two young people were not unknown to each other, for Mr. Tyrrwhitt had been one of the Queen's pages when twelve-year-old Bridget first went to Court, and they very willingly fell in with their elders' plan for a marriage between them. The marriage was performed at Belvoir Castle in Jul 1594. 

The Queen, of course, was in a fine Tudor rage. Since Lady Bridget was not at hand, she could not treat her as she had Mary Shelton when she had married without her consent—when she had 'telt liberall bothe with bloes and yevell wordes'. But she could and did demand the immediate return of the couple to the Court. The unfortunate Countess pled her ignorance of the plans for the marriage, but Elizabeth was not deceived. Thomas Screven wrote that Mr. Tyrwhitt was to come to London where he faced imprisonment; Lady Bridget was to be committed, not to a 'common prison', but to the custody of some lady: 'What more may follow, God knoweth, for her Majestie is highly offended, and principally against your ladyship'. The demands from London continued until Henry Carey, Lord Hundson, at the Queen’s command, wrote so sharp a note demanding Bridget’s return into the custody of the Countess of Bedford, that he had to be obeyed. The young husband, in the Tower, was ill from grief and worry. But Manners, however annoyed over the way in which he felt the Countess had mismanaged the matter, and disturbed by the Queen’s anger, had been writing from Uffington to Robert Cecil, and then came back to London, or there is no knowing how and when the matter might have ended. His letter to Cecil (29 Aug 1594) was, in fact, two letters under one cover—one to him 'to show' at the Court. Manners protested 'in the truth of a honest man' that he was never made acquainted with this sudden marriage—but this surely must be an equivocation as referring to the actual day or date, which he really seems not to have know. He told Cecil that the young husband, at Uffington on his way to London, had so moved him to pity that he could not but write in his behalf: Tyrwhitt’s folly came from his mere ignorance of duty to her Majesty and a passion of love for Bridget, fearing to lose her if she returned to the Court. Manners begged Cecil not to let the worst be made of the case, but to favor Tyrwhitt as he may: 'God knows he is very young, and committed not this offence through willfulness but of mere ignorance. And if by punishment he once mislike of his match they both be undone forever'. The letter 'to show' said much the same thing, especially that he knew of the marriage only when it was publicly known, and that he was not at Belvoir at the time by forty miles. When he returned to London, he made suit indirectly to the Queen through the Lord Chamberlain, who promised to mover her Majesty for him at his next going to the Court.

Cecil did not fail his friends, and the plea to Hunsdon must have helped, for in Nov Hunsdon wrote the Countess that because of the 'mediation of fryndes' and of Mr. Tyrwhitt’s sickness, he had been freed from the Tower, and that her Majesty had also 'graciously considered' of her daughter, and likewise set her free. The Queen blamed the Countess, despite Lady Bridget’s wish to assume all the responsibility. But, now that they were at liberty, there remained only her sending for Lady Bridget at Lady Bedford’s London house, and —final rebuke— 'the sooner the better, for my Lady of Bedford hath byn long burthened with her'.

Manners’ resentment toward the Countess for failing to confide the entire plan to Burghley is implied in a letter he wrote from Uffington to Shrewsbury, dated 20 Sep 1594, in which he protested, as he had to Cecil, that he had known nothing of the actual marriage—it was a good matter, but marred with ill handling. 'But', he added, 'where youth and woman bare the sway and deal without advice, such accidents commonly happen'. A second letter to him says much the same. Perhaps he distrusted Shrewsbury’s discretion and went out of his way to conceal his early part in the transaction. The real Manners is shown, however, in the same letter: 'Yet my Lady Bridget, in her journey to my Lady Bedford’s took a lodging at this poor cottage, wher she was to me very welcome', and in his saying that in a fortnight he would go to London and go to Lady Bedford’s to see her.

'I most humbly thank your Lordship and my Lady for this fat stag, which is very well baked; but that the pasties be so great that I have no dish that will hold them Mr. Bucknall thanketh your Lordship for the stag's head, which he is contented shall be placed on his head whensoever he doth marry; in the meantime he will place it not in the stables, but upon the entry of his house instead of a porter, and so he saith it shall be monument.

Touching the matter of my Lady Bridget's marriage, Her Majesty taketh it for a great offence, and so as I hear, she mindeth to punish, according to her pleasure, fiat. I am now not so discontented that my credit is no greater with the Countess (of Bedford), unless her Ladyship would be advised; she hath almost marred a good cause with evil handling, and truly she never vouchsafed to send to me in that cause, nor once to speak to me thereof when I was last with her Ladyship, so as I am ignorant of what course she holdeth therein; and yet my Lady Bridget, in her journey to my Lady of Bedford's, did vouchsafe a lodging in this poor cottage, where she was to me very welcome, and when it shall please them to command me I shall be ready to do them service. I thank your Lordship for your Irish news. I am so long a countryman as I am clean forgotten in Court, and, seldom hear hence, wherewith I am nothing displeased, and yet about a fortnight hence I mean to go towards London, and to go by my Lady of Bedford's to see my Lady Bridget. Thus recommending my duty to your Lordship and my honourable good Lady, I wish to both all honour and contentation.'

Bridget, the favourite, came back to Court in disfavour as with saddened face she passed through the presence chamber for an interview with her former mistress. Elizabeth had worked herself into one of her tantrums, but when Bridget, quiet, brave and straightforward, stood before her, not seeking to excuse her action, only anxious to take all the blame on her own shoulders so that others might not suffer, the Queen's anger melted. Bridget obtained forgiveness and her husband's release, Elizabeth ordered Lord Hunsdon to make it perfectly clear to the Countess of Rutland "that she doth not impute the fawlte so much to the young couple as to your Ladyship; for though my Lady Bridgett hath taken the fawlte upon herself to excuse your fawlte, yet her majesty is well assured that my Lady Bridget would never have married without your consent and speciall commandment, so as she thinkes your Ladyship more fawlteworthie than they".

Although the fact that her brother Roger, the young Earl of Rutland, agreed to pay £1300 of her £2500 marriage portion to the Crown may have been a factor of winning Queen Elizabeth’s forgiveness.

According to the monument her husband erected in Bigby Church, Bridget was “of speech affable, of countenance amiable, nothing proud of her place and fortunes, and usynge her grace rather to benefit others than herself”.


Lisle Cecil John: Roger Manners, Elizabethan Courtier

Wilson, Violet A.: Queen Elizabeth's Maids of Honour and Ladies of The Privy Chamber (E.P. Dutton and Co. – 1931 - New York)

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