Elizabeth SCROPE

(C. Oxford)

Born: , Bolton, Yorkshire, England

Died: 26 Jun 1538, Wivenhoe, Essex, England

Father: Richard SCROPE (Sir)

Mother: Eleanor WASHBOURNE

Married 1: William BEAUMONT (2° V. Beaumont)

Married 2: John De VERE (13° E. Oxford) 1508

Elizabeth Scrope was the daughter of Sir Richard Scrope of Bolton, son of Henry Scrope, 4th Baron Scrope of Bolton, and Eleanor Washbourne. Her mother, daughter of Norman Washbourne Esq. of Washbourne and Elizabeth Kniveton or Kynaston, married as her second husband Sir John Wyndham of Crownthorpe and Felbrigg, widow of Margaret Howard, daughter of John Howard 1st Duke of Norfolk. Sir John Wyndham of Crownthorpe and Felbrigg was condemned for high treason and beheaded on 16 May 1502.

Elizabeth was married twice. Her first husband was William Beaumont, 2nd Viscount Beaumont, son of John Beaumont, 1st Viscount Beaumont and Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Phelip. Knighted before 2 Sep 1460; a supporter of the Lancastrians, he was taken prisoner by King Edward IV at the Battle of Towton and attainted 1461; restored by King Henry VI 1470 but attainted a second time 1471; along with the Earl of Oxford, held St Michael's Mount for the Lancastrian cause until 1473; taken prisoner 1474 but had his honours restored by King Henry VII 1485. Beaumont suffered from mental illness and Parliament ruled that he no longer had "sadness [seriousness] or discretion to rule and keep" his estates, and gave Beaumont's former comrade, John De Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford.

He and his family lived in the care of his friend for his remaining years. The precise nature of Beaumont's mental illness is not known, but two sources suggest that he was not completely incapacitated. He was witness to a bond in 1488, which suggests he was capable of lucidity at that time. In 1498, an inscription written in his name bequeathed a book to his wife.

He died on 19 Dec, aged 69, at Oxford's home at Wivenhoe, where he is buried. His widow later married Oxford, also a widow of Margaret Neville. The Beaumonts were one of only seven great families who remained irreconcilably anti-Yorkist throughout the Wars of the Roses.

Elizabeth Scrope, Countess of Oxford and her sister, Margaret Scrope, Countess of Suffolk, widow of Edmund de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, were both Ladies-in-Waiting to Henry VIII’s first wife Catalina of Aragon. She also served the previous queen consort Elizabeth of York. She and her sister Mary, Lady Kingston, went to the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520.

She was much esteemed by Henry VIII, who, on one occasion, when travelling to Easthamp stead, where was no convenient lodging for his daughter the princess Mary, chose the old lady of Oxford as the most suitable person to attend upon her.

The following curious contemporaneous notice of her occurs in a letter from Richard Dolphine to Cardinal Wolsey, dated 19 Apr 1524. This man was the master of a vessel, having been sent on some expedition had lingered too long in the neighbourhood of the residence of the Countess, and was reproached by Wolsey with having delayed in order to keep the feast of Easter. He excuses himself on account of the weather, and declares that he has required the mariners to make all speed , and also that

my old lady of Oxford did require and command them, on pain of her displeasure, which be her tenants, that they should make all the speed they could. Who I assure your grace had them before her, and after a gentle manner desired the masters not to delay any time, but make all the speed they could; who answered on their faiths they would make all the speed they could. Farthermore, I delivered your grace's loving letters of thanks to my old lady of Oxford, who thanked your grace humbly. I assure your grace I have not lightly seen so noble a woman so rejoice in a letter. And immediately she commanded her steward to have me to her cellar, and also the same night she sent for all my fellows that were in the town to her house to supper, where they were on Easter - day at night, and had very good cheer.

By the rude fist of your servant and bedeman to his power during his life,


At the time of his death, the Earl of Oxford was staying at Wivenhoe and Castle Hedingham in Essex. This would explain why Cardinal Wolsey was writing his widow, the now dowager Countess of Oxford, about obtaining stone from another location in Essex. In 1528, building work began on an ambitious project for a 'college' school in Ipswich to rival the likes of Eton College. Thomas Wolsey, funded his 'College of St Mary' by ''suppressing' local religious houses such as Rumburgh Priory. Ipswich school was incorporated into the college. Wolsey, who was from Ipswich and may have attended Ipswich school, intended the new institution to be a feeder to his recently built 'Cardinal's College' of Oxford University, which is now known as Christ Church. The Countess explains to Wolsey that she cannot allow his men to take stone from Harwich because if the existing stone is removed, the cliff will wash away and destroy the town:

To my Lord Cardinal’s good grace,

Pleaseth it your grace, I have received your honourable letters dated the 2d of July, whereby I perceive your request is that I would grant unto your grace, for the foundation of your college in Ipswich as much stone and calions out of my cliff of Harwich as will be thought necessary by the masters of your works there for the foundation of the same; to the which your grace’s request I am as glad and desirous to condescend, if it might there be had without prejudice or hurt in time coming unto my town there.

And where upon the request made in your grace’s name by your chaplain, in that behalf, I sent my receiver Daniell there to meet your said chaplains, to the intent that they then and there my perceive and know how much might resonably be borne; and it was well perceived, and I credibly informed by the tenants and inhabitants there, little might be forborne, unless the town’s great prejudice, forasmuch as the cliff is not of stone,, but only the stone there remaining lieth as a foreland to defend the same: if that were gone the cliff to be washed away within short space, to the utter destruction of the town. notwithstanding, as much as might be reasonably forborne your grace to have the same, to stay your works for the time. Certifying your grace, in that being nothing prejudicial unto the strength and defence of the town, I would as gladly to do your grace pleasure as any poor woman living. Beseeching your grace to accept herein my good mind, who is always at your commandment; as knoweth our Lord, who preserve your grace in prosperous estate long to endure.

Written the 8th day of July.

Your continual beadwoman,

E. Oxford

It is unknown what the Cardinal replied to this logical explanation from the Countess, but a second letter from Elizabeth suggests that he was not very satisfied with her refusal of his request.

Pleaseth your grace, I have received your honourable letters, dated the 15th day of July; the contents whereof being not a little to my discomfort. Where your grace doth suppose my denial of your request for the stone and calions was but a pretence of hinderance to my town of Harwich, I humbly beseech your grace to accept therein my true and faithful mind, and not to conject it to be done under any such manner. And to the intent your grace shall well perceive in any wise I would avoid your displeasure, and glad to do the thing to your grace most acceptable, and ever have been, am very well contented you shall take your pleasure in my said haven, and have not denied your formal request by any manner wilfulness, but only did give your grace knowledge as I was informed by credible persons. Humbly beseeching your grace in like manner to accept, and be it hurt ful or otherwise, your grace to do your pleasure; forasmuch as I always have found you my most gracious and very singular good lord, not doubting of the same hereafter. And thus the blessed Trinity preserve your grace in prosperous estate, long to endure.

Written the 22d day of July.

Your continual beadwoman,


However, Wolsey fell out of favour with King Henry VIII and the college in Ipswich was demolished in 1530 while still half-built, the only thing left standing is the cherished ‘Wolsey Gate’. The school pupils returned to Felaw's house.

In 1531, Elizabeth Scrope bought the wardship of her nephew, John Audley, her sister Catherine’s son by Richard Audley of Swaffham, Norfolk.

On 12 Nov 1537 Elizabeth was in the first Chariot at Queen Jane’s Funeral Procession, with Mary Arundell, Countess of Sussex; Frances Brandon, Marchioness of Dorset; Eleanor Paston, Countess of Rutland; Cecily Daubeney, Countess of Bath; Lady Margaret Douglas and Mabel Clifford, Countess of Southampton.

Elizabeth, Countess of Oxford, died in 1537/8. She mainly lived at Wivenhoe in Essex when she was not at court, and was buried there.

Sir John St Clere (d. 1547), husband of her half sister Frances Wyndham, was one of the witnesses to the will of Elizabeth Scrope, Countess of Oxford, dated 30 May 1537. In her will she lists: her sister Mary and her husband Sir William Kingston; her nephew Henry Jerningham; her sister Jane Brewes; her nephew John Brewes; her nephew John Wyndham; her sister Frances and her husband Sir John St Clere; her nephew John St Clere; her nephew Giles St Clere; her niece Elizabeth St Clere; her nephew Edmund Audley; John De Vere, 15th earl of Oxford; his heir lord Bolebec; Dorothy Neville, wife to lord Bolebec; the  Countess of Surrey, sister to lord Bolebec; Anne Vere, another sister; Aubrey De Vere and Elizabeth De Vere, Lady Darcy, also children of the 15th Earl. Lord Bobelec, Aubrey and Elizabeth were the godchildren of the Countess.

The Countess bequeathed a gold cross containing a relic of the true Cross to John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford.

It seems likely that the ‘Richard Hardekyn, yeoman usher of my chamber’ to whom the Countess leaves a bequest for his service to her, was the father of Elizabeth Hardekyn, who married the 16th Earl of Oxford’s brother, Geoffrey Vere. Elizabeth Hardekyn and Geoffrey Vere were the parents of Sir Francis De Vere and Sir Horatio De Vere.

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