Roger MANNERS of Uffington, Esq.

Born: ABT 1535, Belvoir Castle, Leicesterhire, England

Died: 12 Dec 1607, Enfield

Buried: Uffington Church, near Stamford, Lincolnshire, England

Father: Thomas MANNERS (1° E. Rutland)

Mother: Eleanor PASTON (C. Rutland)

Third son of Thomas, 1st Earl of Rutland, by his second wife Eleanor, dau. of Sir William Paston of Paston. Their children were Gertrude, Henry, Anne, Elizabeth, Sir John, Frances, Roger, Sir Thomas, Catherine, Oliver, and Isabel. The date of his birth is uncertain, but it was before 1537, and a few details of his youth can be traced. He must have spent much of his childhood in London at the town house of his father in the old Benedictine priory Holywell in Shoreditch. He may also have been at times at Elsynges, Enfield, or Enfield Hall, as it came to be called, which his father had inherited through his first marriage, although he gave it, along with the manor of Worcesters, in 1540 to Henry VIII. Other periods were spent at Belvoir Castle and the other great northern properties which accrued at various time to Earl Thomas. In 1540 a servant of a Roger Ratcliff was paid for bringing (to Belvoir?) 'XX yowez and XX lams givn to Mr. Roger Manners by the will of Mr. Roger Ratlyf'. This may have been the Roger Ratcliff who was one of the gentlemen ushers of Henry VIII; perhaps Roger Manners was named for him. Inherited of his father in 1542, the manor of Linton upon Oufe, with the appurtenances in Linton and Yolton, in Yorkshire.

Roger Manners entered St. John’s College, Cambridge, in May, 1549, along with his brothers John and Thomas. He became a fellow-commoner at Corpus Christi in 1550, and his later benefactions were to that college. Robert Masters, in his history of Corpus Christi, pays an extended tribute to the Esquire of the Body and speaks of 'his contributing towards finishing the chapel in 1594, where his arms still continue both on the ceiling and the wainscot', as well as 'the manner of expression' of his donation 'out of the ‘singular good and pious affection and zeal which he heartily bare to the College'. Manners left Cambridge without a degree, and when he reached early manhood he was sent to sea under Sir William Howard, first Baron Howard of Effingham, the Lord Admiral, whose good opinion he won. He promised to apply himself ‘to the understanding of the marine causes and affairs’, which he did for most of Mary’s reign, probably taking part in the battle of St. Quentin. 

Unmarried. Esquire of the body of Mary I and Elizabeth I for her entire reign.

Obtained in 1576 a grant of so much of the lands in Pateshull, formerly belonging to the monastery of St. James, near Northampton, as had not before given to Robert Dighton and Robert Tyrwhitt.

Written May 10, 1554, a letter to his brother Henry, the second Earl, from the 'New Bark, lying before Portsmouth', he spoke of the Lord Admiral as his good Lord; he trusted to follow the council of Mr. Poynes, both because his brother have him do so and because he found him his good friend. He would apply himself to the understanding of the 'marine causes and affairs'. A letter from Effingham himself to Rutland, three days later, gives us the first picture we have of the young man: 'I have not in all my lyffe had an honestere young gentyllman in my company and I thanke hym'. Of his service at sea, a few other details are available in entires in the expense accounts; in 1554, of money dispersed for 'my Lord’s brethern beyond the sea', and, in 1558, of money given to Mr. Roger Manners when he went to sea with the Lord Admiral and to his lackey for bringing letters from him. Manners saw active service in the war against France under Queen Mary: a Thomas Lambert, writing the third Earl of Rutland in 1572, said that he had earlier served 'his Lordship’s uncle, Mr. Roger Manners, one of the Esquires of her Majesty’s person, as he could witness, both at St. Quentin and at the burning of Conquet a Brittany'. Manners must therefore have been one of the 'manie raliant captains' whose landing, sack, and burning of Conquet and the countryside in 1558 are so vividly described in Holinshed’s Chronicles. Just when he left his duties at sea is not clear; his service was not continuous, for there were intervals when he was at court. The inscription on his tomb in Uffington Church, near Stamford in Lincolnshire, states that he was 'Esquire to the Bodye to Queene Marye and to Queene Elizabeth'. He was certainly at the Court of Queen Mary at Greenwich in 1555. But, since two of his letters state that he served Elizabeth from her coronation, it seems clear that he did not return to sea after that date. His service to Elizabeth was, however, interrupted at least once; he was a Member of Parliament, representing the borough of Grantham, during the session of 1562-3.

He was inevitably drawn into some of the more important events of his day. Never knighted, and usually referred to as Mr. Roger Manners, he nevertheless became in his later years the recognized head of a family which included half the court and some of the nobility, and from choice or from necessity, he often had to intervene with the Queen in behalf of one or the other of them. No part of his biography is more surprising than the unfailing loyalty of the Queen to the family that had served her father so well. The regard she had for Roger Manners himself brought him material rewards in the form of leases and properties, but more remarkable ones in granting, sooner or later, all his request for others. And surely one of the most generous things on record about the Queen is the hitherto unnoted fact that when in his old age Manners was prostrated with grief over the part in the Essex Rebellion by his three grandnephews, Roger, the fifth Earl of Rutland and his younger brothers, Francis and George (later the sixth and seventh Earls), Elizabeth sent a courtier with a 'very princely and gratius messayge' to comfort him. Nor should the critics of Robert Cecil, later Earl of Salisbury, overlook his friendly letters and unfailing loyalty to Roger Manners.

The letters of Roger Manners that have survived are chiefly those preserved at Belvoir Castle among the manuscripts of the Duke of Rutland and published in the Historical Manuscripts Commission Reports. Some are entirely summarized; most are quoted only in part, and in a mixture of modern and Elizabeth spelling. The earliest is to his brother Henry, second Earl of Rutland until 1563; many are to his nephew Edward, third Earl of Rutland from 1563 to 1587. A few are to John, fourth arl of Rutland from 1587 to 1588 and brother to the third Earl. After the death of the fourth Earl others are to the Dowager Countess Elizabeth, especially in regard to her daughter Lady Bridget Manners, for whom he secured a place as lady - in - waiting to the Queen, and her son Roger, who became the fifth Earl at the age of eleven. Later letters are to the fifth Earl. The greatest number, however, and the more charming personal ones, are to his older brother John Manners, who had married Dorothy Vernon and lived at Haddon Hall. Among these, the more important in their relation to the Queen and court deal with the Earl of Shrewsbury and with the fifth Earl of Rutland’s part in the Essex Rebellion.

In addition to the letters in the Rutland Papers, others are among the manuscripts of the Marquis of Salisbury, chiefly to Robert Cecil, asking his mediation in such family affairs as the release from imprisonment of Lady Bridget Manners and her husband Robert Tyrwhit for that heinous Elizabethan crime, marriage without the royal consent, in securing clemency for his grand-nephews despite their abhorrent part in the Essex affair, and, in his old age –he died in 1607— in maintaining for him leases granted by Elizabeth which James wished to bestow upon one of his courtiers. Still other letters are in the Talbot Papers, especially those to his nephew Lord Gilbert Talbot, later Earl of Shrewsbury; and in the Lansdowne Collection. A strong plea might be made for someone who could gain access to the originals, especially those at Belvoir Castle, to publish them in their entired and in their forthright, unstudied Tudor speech.

The letters of Roger Manners as an Esquire of the Body reveal a phase of the life of the Court not, I believe, shown elsewhere. His duties were similar to those set down as early as the time of Edward IV in the Liber Niger Domus Regis Angliae, and more explicitly stated in the Articles Ordained by King Henry VII for the Regulation of his Household. This last states, for example, that 'if it please the King to have a pallet without his traverse [screens, to insure privacy] there must be twoe esquires for the bodie, or else a knight for the body, to lie there or else to lie in the next chamber'. Roger Manners once mentioned being a 'dailie courtier', and sleeping in the squire’s chamber, 'which is not don lyke an old jade, yet often doe I whisshe myself with your Lordship [Rutland] and Lustie Lustie [his nickname for his brother Thomas] to discourse on owre at Newarke'; again, he wrote Rutland that he was in great doubt whether he should come to Belvoir that Dec, or return to the Court and 'kepe Christmas in a pallet'. The Ordinances Made a Eltham list, as one of the four Esquires for the Body of Henry VIII, Sir Richard Manners, knight, brother of the first Earl. This fact, along with the prominence of Eleanor Paston, Countess of Rutland, mother of Roger Manners, at the court of Queen Mary, may account for his following his uncle as an Esquire of the Body and serving both Mary and Elizabeth.

The duties of an Esquire of the Body were evidently arduous enough. That Manners found them so is understandable if one adds to the duties when the Court was in London those during the intrepid Queen’s progresses and processions as listed month by month, year by year, in Walsingham’s Diary. Also Manners was, like most Elizabethans, ambivalent in his love of country life and his interest in the affairs of the Court. Beginning in 1571, when he was under forty, he wrote for years to his nephew the third Earl of Rutland of his wish to leave the Court and be a 'countrye man for ever'. His complaint was merely that he was too old for his duties. The letter of 1571 said that if Rutland returned from France by Michaelmas, he would leave the Court to younger folk, and 'learn to keep your plough'. In 1581, after listing the progresses the Queen planned, he said he would 'do all duties' until within a week of Michaelmas, then go to Uffington 'to kill the poor partridges'. The next year he wrote Rutland that he would like to come to see him, but was old and idle; and, again, in reporting court news such as the Vice - Chamberlain being ill with gout and Mr. Raleigh being in good favor, added: 'The Court is a Court still, but I am old, and not fit for this place'. He often expressed regret that he could not leave the Court at Christmas; that year he wrote that he did not know whether to come to Belvoir to see his good hound hunt, or stay at Court and, in the phrase already quoted: 'kepe Christmas in a pallet'. He hoped to find her Majesty so gracious that he might 'wait' at his pleasure, and that she would require his younger companions to 'attend' as he had done.

In 1583 he took the desperate step of trying to gain some respite from his duties by neglecting them. He stayed away five days from the Court at Greenwich during Apr, hoping by his negligence to get another appointed in his place— 'God grant that I may do it without blame'. Yet he apparently went on to Greenwich, and later to Theobalds. After that, he laid his cause before the Queen, who not only granted his request, but actually thanked him for his services: 'My last is, her Majestie for my good wayting this litl journey, with many thanks and good words is plesed that Mr. Anthony Coke shal be squyer and wayt, and I shall tak my eas and wayt when I list or when her Majestie herself shall command me'.

This lessening of his duties accounts for the fact that, from this time on, most of the letters were sent his own lodgings in the old Savoy Palace or, in later years, from the various houses he leased in or near London, especially 'Fisher’s Folly', as well as houses in Great St. Bartholomew’s and in Enfield. Enfield seems the chief residence in his later years, being mentioned by 1595. Most of the letters connected with the troubles of the Essex Rebellion were sent from there; it was here that one of his grand-nephews was released after the Rebellion in his custody. Perhaps it was at Enfield — but it may have been in London — that he died. It was to Uffington that he repaired most during his service at the Court, to hunt and hawk and be a 'countrye man'. In many ways, despite his constant reiteration that he wished to be a countryman and ‘follow the plough’, he was a typical courtier: pliable, amusing, ready with tongue and pen, cynical and engagingly lazy; a keen sportsman, always ready to curtail a letter if called to the pleasure of the chase; an open handed host, ever anxious to entertain visitors in his ‘poor cottage’ at Uffington, where the hospitality dispensed was much remarked on. His gayest and most humorous letters are those boasting of his skill in hunting and hawking. Here he entertained his friends and relatives when he could leave the Court to do so. He was brought to Uffington when he died, to be buried in Uffington Church in the tomb which, as he stated in his will, he had already caused to be set up in memory of himself and his youngest brother, Oliver, who had died in 1563.

After the lessening of his duties in 1583, his letters offer little complaint about his service at Court. Undoubtedly he found it useful to look after his property interests from that vantage ground, but the chief benefits seem to have come to the friends and relatives whom he chose to aid or who knew that he could always speak a helpful word to the Cecils or the Queen. The three chief events which involved him will be mentioned later. He helped, for example, to settle the financial difficulties of his brother-in-law, Sir John Savage, husband of his sister Elizabeth, and his extravagant son, Sir John Savage of Rocksavage. For years his greatest distresses came from the debts of his younger brother, Sir Thomas Manners, for whom he secured appointments as he could, and whose debts he helped pay. Sir Thomas was once brought before the Lords on account of these debts, something his brother was powerless to prevent; after his death in 1591, Manners did all in his power to aid the children. I do not know the explanation for the statement in the Calendar of State Papers Domestic, 1591-4, of a grant to Lady Theodosia Manners, after her husband’s death, of all his goods and debts forfeited by his 'outlawry', but undoubtedly her brother-in-law was the mover in the grant from the Queen. It is more pleasant to note Manners’ steady affection for Sir Thomas and his suggestion to Rutland that if he wished any news of the Court, to get 'Lustie ebord a walking into your garden and ther confer with him'.

His strategic position at the Court was not always used in disagreeable situations; it also provide opportunity to give astute advice and accurate information to his relatives in any situation that might arise. The successful public career of Manners’ nephew the third Earl of Rutland owed much to such guidance. The death of Rutland was a heavy loss to his uncle, who wrote the new Earl that 'it hath plesed the Almyghtie to call my Lord your brother out of this miserable world to his blessed kingdom'. Yet his postscript was characteristic of his perpetual concern for the material welfare of his kin: 'Her Magestie hath bin moved from me in your behalf for the office of Nottingham Castle and the Forest; but yet I know not Her Magestie’s pleasure'.

He was also enabled to guide a favorite nephew, George, son of John Manners, when he was sent to the Inner Temple; but George never involved him in any court affairs more serious than interceding with Burghley later on—at his father’s request—for a place.

As for the affairs of the Court and the courtiers, the letters of Manners contain many shrewd comments; only a few characteristic ones, however, can be noted here. He wrote, for instance, of Walsingham’s chagrin at the Queen’s displeasure with the marriage of Sir Phillip Sidney to his daughter, and of her eventual forgiveness. Of Sidney himself, Manners later wrote Rutland that he was beholden to him for many favors, especially the 'fayre horse' sent him to take to Flushing. Sir Phillip had taken his leave and gone; God speed him well. Leicester, of course, was often mentioned, as when his departure for Flushing would 'make a great alternation in Court as som think; how it falleth out, your Lordship shall be advertised'. Two weeks later Rutland learned that 'her Magestie hath easely disgested the goyng of the great Erle', and two month afterwards of her wrath at Leicester’s having taken upon himself the government of the Low Countries. Of the many comments upon Lord Burghley, the Lord Treasurer, one must suffice: in 1585 he was at Court, 'still trubled with the gowte. God graunt him health. Her Magestie maketh marvelously moch of him'. Of the gratitude and affection of Roger Manners for his father’s close friend there is every evidence, but he could not resist giving him amazing nicknames—'Pondus', or 'Old Wyllyam'. The friendship of the two is shown, to mention only one instance, when Burghley’s son-in-law, Sir William Wentworth, died at Theobalds (1582); the Queen sent 'Mr. Mannours… under great sorrow, to comfort him from herself'.

Since the Queen is usually mentioned over a period of more than thirty, only a few comments must again suffice. The letters show, among other things, her friendship for the Manners family, especially that of the third Earl. The state of her health was, of course, always important. He spoke, for example, of a time when she 'rode abrowde'—in Jan— in her 'coch', and 'toke so great a cold as all yester night she was very evill at eas and complained moch of ach all over. But God be praysed this day she hath bin indifferently well. God of his goodness preserve her in health and hapynes'. Later, in writing in 1585 that he himself was old and had forsaken the world— 'els might I be a courtier if my body were able and my mind not otherwais better bent'—he says the Queen kept herself 'more privat than she was wont'. Respect and loyalty are always shown, but he would have been more than human not to have been amused by her vacillation during the courtship of Alençon; one letter of this period is headed laconically 'At the courtly Court, where Venus and Baccus doe agree'. The various stages of progress were recorded, including the fact that Monsieur minded not to give over the cause, nor yet to make haste to return home. At last came the epilogue: 'It was yesternight determined that Monsieur should return in God’s peace and the Queen’s. On Saturday next, her Majesty will bring him on his way to Lord Cobham’s, but I know not whether this determination will hold till tomorrow morning'.

The more serious problems confronting the Queen and her ministers are likewise noticed: the troubles of war-like causes, the departure of friends and relations to the Low Countries. The ever-present problem of adherence to the established religion once brought even Manners under the suspicion of the troubled Queen in 1572 because of his friendship with the Duke of Norfolk, whose 'excellent Qualities', says Strype, 'rendered him dear to al the honest Nobility and gentry, among the rest Sir Roger Manners'. When Manners learned that, despite his then fourteen years of loyal service, he was suspected, so conscious was he of his sound religion and unspotted loyalty that he wrote Burghley a remarkably moving letter, and, since Burghley knew the injustice of the charge, no later suspicion was ever directed against him. Several letters show, moreover, his recognition of the perils to the state caused by the Catholic recusants, as when he wrote Rutland in 1583 of 'certen gentlemen' (chiefly Henry Percy, 8º E. Northumberland and Henry Fitzalan, 18º E. Arundel) committed to the Tower for very 'fowle and detestable actions. God graunt the truth may be discovered to the comfort of the good and punishment of the wyked, and ever preserve her Majestie in this her peasable and quyet government'. Soon after, he wrote, 'The world is dangerous and the days are evill', and that 'we loke daly that the truth will be discovered and then everybody to have according to ther desert. In the meantime we are suspitius and inquisitive'.

One last reference to the health of Queen Elizabeth may be mentioned. In 1603, in her final illness, Manners wrote John Manners at Haddon Hall that it had been a troublesome and heavy time, but 'now we rest in better hope, because yesterday she found herself somewhat better'. The old courtier was far too astute not to fear the uncertainties that would ensue at the Queen’s death: 'Brother, for myself I am an old man willing to forsake the world and to geve myself to contemplation and to prayer. I wolnot goe about to make kyng’s! Nor seke to pull downe eny; only woll obay soch as be chosen and crowned'. He held no office during the reign of James, but spent his time in retirement, chiefly at Enfield.

Of the public affairs which drew the Esquire of the Body into their sweep because the principals were his relatives, some concern his brother-in-law George, sixth Earl of Shrewsbury, whose first wife had been Gertrude Manners. The trials of Shrewsbury as the custodian in England of Mary, Queen of Scots, as the fourth husband of the redoubtable lady still referred to, despite the four husbands, as Bess of Hardwick, and as the father of Lord Gilbert Talbot (whose wife was a daughter of Bess of Hardwick) are too well known to need recalling here except as they involved Manners in trying to achieve reconcilations. Shrewsbury’s most serious troubles grew out of accusations of treason because his wife spread scandals at the Court about him and the Scottish Queen. Manners knew Shrewsbury’s mistake in not coming to the Court to free himself from his custodianship, which he could not keep with his 'owen saffetie'. Shrewsbury was persecuted with 'perillus surmises', and also began to have hard opinions of his son Lord Gilbert, for which Manners was greatly sorry.

When Shrewsbury at length came to the Court in 1584 in his own defense, Roger Manners, the Queen, the Cecils, and others worked to absolve him from the charges of treason concerning Queen Mary, to reconcile him with his wife, and to urge him to pay the extravagant debts of Gilbert and Lady Mary Talbot. Lord Talbot wrote of a successful meeting arranged between him and his father by Burghley and 'my unkel Manners'. Manners’ account of this meeting was told with told with characteristic modesty; he wrote Rutland that, entreated to do so by Mr. Secretary and so commanded by the Lord Treasurer, he had gone to Shrewsbury to 'travail' for Lord Talbot: 'Wher I did execute my ambassade so well as all is very well accorded, albeit it must have a tyme to grow to perfection'. Shrewsbury himself had come to the Court at Oatlands accompanied by his retainers, 'only myself excepted'; he had behaved discreetly in the matter of the charges of treason and had been graciously used by the Queen, but had utterly refused to be reconciled to his wife. Later, Manners sent his brother an account of the meeting in which a statement 'opon som speech I had with her Majestie' shows the part he had in paving Shrewsbury’s way. The letter gives a surprising picture of the Queen’s relations with her courtiers when she asks the elderly Shrewsbury to have 'a stul and to syt downe by her' as he pled his cause. She was well pleased with his words, and said she counted him a 'loyall and faythfull servant and esteemed and trusted him as moch as any man in England'.

Then Shrewsbury’s regaining an honorable place in the Council was vividly described, and an account given of the Queen’s attempt to reconcile him to his wife, but 'he will nowais agree to accept her… now she is comen, what venom she woll spit out I know not, but she is become very humble and professeth mekenes and humillytie What she dooth, by my next letters I shall tell'.

Since no letters for more than a year after this date refer to the Shrewsbury, we lack his account of the venom spat out. Those of 1585 and 1586, however, show that the troubles were unsettled, and that Lord Talbot, contrary to the advice of all his friends, hid himself from his father and was absent from the court. But, by Shrewsbury’s own wish, a truce was finally arranged between him and his wife by the Queen. Manners then twice mentioned that the Countess was very desirous of his friendship, which, as she wanted it for the Earl’s sake, he said he knew 'not while I should be strange'.

The truce, however, was short-lived. The next year the Queen made another effort to end the wrangle, and Lord Talbot again made attempts to have his uncles intervene for him. But another mediator finally succeeded— Sir Henry Lee, who went for interviews to Worksop, Sheffield, etc.— and so for two years thing were quiet. But just before the death of Shrewsbury in 1590, John and Roger Manners were again trying to act as peacemakers. At Shrewsbury’s death, Manners hoped that the new Earl would send for John Manners, since he needed the advice of his best friends; he himself had had three letters of great kindness from him, but dared not 'venter a winter jorney' north for the funeral. Also, the new Earl greatly lamented his own poverty—for there was scarcely more money than would pay the funeral expenses. This realization of the mutability of things and the final povert of so rich a man left Roger Manners considerably shaken:

'O Brother, what is this world or who shold man account of wordly welth. You know that the late Erl of Shrewsberie was accounted for cattel, corne, woll, leade, yorne, landes, revenew and of redy mony the greatest and only rych subject of England. Yet now he is ded he was so poure as no executor will take opon him to performe his will, and the Erl that now is, the pourest that ever was of that name… You see what the world is. He is goon. His goodes now can doe him no good, I pray God they doe him no harme. And noe frend of his for anything I can perceve doe thank him for owght the have. His frendes, servants and followers and thos he accounted most of, ar lyke to be persecuted for his sake. God be mersefull unto us and deliver all our men frendes out of the danger of the furnyce.'

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 Hunter’s 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, and, at the death of his brother in 1616, became the eigth Earl of Shrewsbury.

In 1592 Everard Digby of Stoke Dry died, and Roger Manners purchased the wardship of Everard, his fourteen or sixteen years old son by Maria, daughter of Francis Neale of Keythorpe, and may later sold it back to his mother.

Another instance in which Roger Manners was the family ambassador -without- portfolio was in securing a place as lady-in-waiting to the Queen for his grand-niece, Lady Bridget Manners, and, after her marriage without the royal consent, in helping free her and her husband from prison and securing permission for Bridget to retire from the Court. Earlier, however, he had asked his sister-in-law, Bridget, Countess of Bedford at her third marriage, for a place for her step-grand-daughter in her train at Woburn Abbey. When Lady Bridget’s went to the Court in 1589, Roger sent Bridget (Aug 29, 1589) from Uffington, advice that Polonius himself might have envied. He spoke first about daily prayers. 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', etc., etc. 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.

Lady Bridget’s mother consulted Roger Manners about marrying her daughter to Robert Tyrwhitt of Kettelby. He approved and was willing to help speed Bridget’s coming to her. Manners’ advice for fuller confidence was not followed, and caused all their later troubles.

Manners’ resentment toward the Countess for failing to confide the entire plan to Burghley is implied in a letter he wrote from Uffington to his nephew the Earl of 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.'

Yet the aftermath of Bridget’s marriage was as nothing compared with the public humiliation and personal grief caused the courtier when the three brothers of Lady Bridget joined Essex in his rebellion. Roger Manners had, to the best of his ability, watched over his namesake the fifth Earl with affection and, it is clear, apprehension, since he had inherited the title as a schoolboy at Cambridge. At Court he had kept and experienced eye on offices and stewardships to be bestowed upon him; he had arranged his first visit to the Court, with his tutor John Jegon, to meet the Queen; he had written letters of advice to his mother urging her to admonish him that his behavior be 'sevill'. When Rutland was seventeen, he urged him to employ his time well in his young days; when at eighteen he left for foreign travel, he wrote John Manners that he hoped it would be for his good. His anxiety for the titular head of his house is shown, too, in a letter sent Rowland Whyte to Sir Robert Sidney concerning one from him to Manners, about Rutland, who was at Flushing in 1595. Mr. Manners, he wrote, carried Sidney’s letter to the window and from one corner of the room to another for more light. At last he called Whyte to him and said he would not take a thousand pounds for the letter, since Sir Robert could rightly judge of his hopes for his nephew. So Whyte read the letter to him, and he was happy in Sidney’s praise of Rutland. In 1596 when Rutland was very ill in Italy, and word came indirectly to the Countess of Warwick of his recovery, she sent the news immediately to his great-uncle at Uffington.

Rutland’s going in 1599 to Ireland to join Essex must have caused his uncle uneasiness; only one of Manners’ letters about it appears to have survived, and in the Salisbury Papers. It implies that he had been asked by Rutland to intercede for him with the Queen. Manners replied that he was always ready to serve him, but his credit at Court was now little, for he seldom came thither. Since her Majesty’s ordering his return from Ireland, he had not heard that she 'used any speech' of him. He was going to Enfield until term began, unless Mr. Screven recalled him for some business of the Earl’s, and signed the letter 'Your Lordship’s loving uncle'. In the interval before the Rebellion, Rutland had married, sometime before 15 Mar 1599, Elizabeth Sidney, the fourteen-year-old daughter of Sir Phillip Sidney and step-daughter of Essex. What was cause and what was effect is perhaps impossible to determine. But, when the Rebellion was over and Rutland was in the Tower and his brothers in other prisons, Roger Manners wrote to his brother at Haddon Hall of the Queen’s kindness to him:

'I wold my three nephews had never byn borne then by so horrible offence offende so gratius a sufferan, to the overthrow of ther howse and name for ever, always before loyall.

But I pray you, brother, comfort yourself and commit all to God, and his will be don, whoe can turne, and it it please Him, all to the best. Her Magestie this other day sent Sir John Stanhope to me to comfort me with a very princely and gratiius messayge. Mr. Secretary Iykewise sent to me most honourably assuring his old friendship to me, with promess to doe for our Earl his best indevor…'

John Manners also had graphic letters from the always remarkable Screven telling how Rutland had been drawn into the plot, how the Queen’s mercy had spared him so far, how she had given many gracious comforts to Mr. Roger Manners, 'who hath been most grievously trobled with this chaunce', and how 'Mr. Secretary doth all good offices, even with the like affection that his noble father bare to your howse'. Later, he said that 'your honourable brother hath been much [grieved] at this accident, and with great care and love to my Lord and his howse, hath used all his credyte, which hath appeared great, and tried all his friends. Wherof he hath founde good store, and to speak truly, no one enemy'. Manners later wrote his brother: 'Joyn with me in prayer to the almyghtie that he woll forgive the syns of the youth, and mak them better servants to him and our gratius soverayn, whos hart I trust he woll incline to have mercie of our miserable howse, so longue true and now defamed by them… I desyre no wordly thing more than that I may end my days with you in contemplation'.

His distress was such that the Queen sent Sir John Stanhope to comfort him, and Robert Cecil wrote him letters of encouragement. Manners depended entirely upon Cecil’s loyalty and discretion in presenting Rutland’s case to the Council about the fine to be levied on him. He passed on to him a letter from Rutland, in the Tower, listing his taxable properties and mentioning the five thousand pounds due his sisters annually, as well as him own debts of almost five thousand pounds. It had ended, revealingly enough: 'Good uncle, make this offer for me, and whatever you shall do herein I will be ready to perform'. Manners wrote Cecil that he himself would, in letters, hold his course by his advice, but that his weakness and passion made him unfit to present himself in person. Soon, however, one of the grand-nephews, Sir Francis Manners, was released in his custody at Enfield, and when Rutland was released from the Tower, he and his train were sent by the Council to Uffington in the custody of Manners.

This custodianship was another great trial to Roger Manners, who wrote Cecil that he had found in the letter from the Lords of the Council 'no other thing commanded but to receive my Lord of Rutland into my house at Uffington'. But, at Huntingdon on his return to London about his private affairs, he learned from Screven that it was her Majesty’s pleasure that he should still remain as custodian, so he had turned back again. He himself, he protested, had in no way offended her Majesty whereby he should be 'restrained of liberty to go about mine own business, for I have always been loyal and dutiful'. He therefore asked Cecil that if her Majesty would not yet allow Rutland to go to his own house, that he himself might go about his own affairs.

Cecil, however, was at first powerless to move the Council and weeks later Manners was still requesting his own freedom. He thanked Cecil for his earnest laboring to remove his burden, and continued:

'And, although it must needs trouble an old man as I am, that hath always lived at liberty, to be so restrained as he may not take his wonted course, as well for his business as for his health, yet I say her Majesty’s will be done, which I must humbly obey… But for that her Majesty was wont, in the goodness of her own nature, to have ever a gracious regard of her old servants, of which number I account myself, having served her Highness ever since the happy day of her coronation, I should think myself of all other the most unhappy if I alone did not receive comfort thereof.'

Rutland’s longer stay was, he said, almost impossible, all his provisions proportioned for six weeks being spent, especially wood and firing, which were not procurable. Also he had heard that exception was taken at Court to Rutland’s hunting and hawking. They were, however, very private, and with only a few of his servants in his company. This letter makes, too, one of the few comments available about Sir Phillip Sidney’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Rutland’s wife:

'My Lady, to whom I am not partial, never hawked at all; she hath hunted but twice since her coming into the country; the last time was at least forty days since, her behavior and her apparel suitable to her disposition, which inclineth much more to melancholy and sorrow than otherwise, in regard of the greatness of the offence, the heaviness of her Majesty’s displeasure and the present poor estate wherein they stand.'

Since Rutland had then been at Uffington almost three months, Manners recommended his humble and importunate suit to Cecil’s good furtherance for his discharge. He suggested a possible substitute as Rutland’s custodian who, by Cecil’s later intervention, was given the unwelcome charge, and the Queen granted Manners his freedom.

After sitting for the local borough of Grantham in 1563, Manners seems neither to have sought election to Parliament himself nor, in general, to have influenced his nephew the 5th Earl’s patronage. However, in 1601 he may have played a part in the return of Oliver Manners at Grantham and did intervene to have Henry Capell brought in at Boston, a borough which had never before returned a Rutland candidate. But at the time of this election, several members of the family, as well as the Earl himself, were in disgrace, and it looks as though Manners was exercising the family patronage on their behalf.

Roger Manners and his brother Sir John founded the hospital of St. John at Bakewell, for six poor men who were made a body corporate, and endowed in 1602, at the expence of 600 pounds with anuities or rent-charges to the amout of 40 pounds per annnum. The poor men have pensions of 6 pounds per annum each, the remaining four pounds are appropriated to a laundress: Sir John Manners left by will (1611) the sum of 30 pounds to purchase pewter, brass, and linen, for the use of the hospital.

The death of Queen Elizabeth ended the service at Court of Roger Manners, nor does he seem to have come much under the notice of James except in connection with trouble in 1606 about leases of the property of Lord Benington. Sir Thomas Shirley had paid James a thousand pounds for this impropriation, and when it proved to be on the rent-roll of Roger Manners, begged James not to take it away from him merely 'to satisfy the humour of a man that can make no other pretence but his service to the late Queen from whom he received many extraordinary rewards'. And again the loyal Robert Cecil was at length able to help, despite the King’s bargain. One of the last of the letters of Manners thanked Cecil for many favors, especially in securing to him the leases to the property in question. Also, the last of the letters to the Earl of Rutland was sent during this disturbance. He thanked him for pleasing to remember his old uncle, who loved him with his whole heart. Parliament, he noted, ran its course with great vehemence. He himself was much troubled about his leases, and must crave the Earl to pay him the £300 he owed him when he conveniently could.

But the last letter of Roger Manners is, appropriately, to John Manners, and was written 2 Jul 1607:

'It doyth me good at the verie hart to hear of your good health. Surely my desire to see you is as great as yours to see me. But Brother, to dele playnely with you I am afraid to take so longue a jurney. I am so old, my body so weak and so exceeding hevie, that syns I saw you I durst never come opon a horse’s back. And again I am subject to soe meny sudain fallings and syck, whereof I had a taste yesterday, but now God be thanked, very well.'

In Aug of that year he changed a plan to come Uffington; a son of Sir John Manners wrote from Enfield that his uncle wished to have his physician near him and to keep a diet prescribed against 'the jaundice'. On 12 Dec 1607, a son-in-law of Sir John, Sir Francis Fortescue, wrote him of 'the most heavy news to you and to us all' of the death of Roger Manners.

Sir John Manners carried out his brother’s wishes for a simple funeral in Uffington Church, and, with Sir Arthur Capell and Thomas Screven, executed his will. The will itself is a characteristic Elizabethan document, but the generosity to kin, servants, and the poor was also characteristic of the man. Most of the property went to his brother Sir John, and in reversion to Sir John’s heir Sir George. The household goods at Uffington were taken to Haddon; an inventory in 1628 of household goods there makes the bare but tantalizing statement of 'a list of books which formely belonged to Mr. Roger Manners.'

He gave four scholarships to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, was a great benefactor of the chapel and gave, by his will, to the poor of Stamford, $20 for ever, to be put out to interest, and the profits to be bestowed in coals among the poor.

He was buried in the church of Uffington; where, against the South wall of the chancel, on a monument of marble and freestone, with the portraits of two persons kneeling on cushions each other, are these inscriptions:

At the top:



At the bottom:
















Over their heads, on a black slate, these lines:

















On one side, at the top, are these arms:

Manners, with the augmentation.

Arg. 6 sleurs de lis; 3, 2, 1, Az. A chief indented, Or, a crescent Gules ;


On the other side:

 Manners, ancient, without the augmentation in chief; impaling Az. fretty, Arg. on a chief, Or, a crescent Gules;

St. Leger.

On the middle is an atchievement of 16 coats:

Gules, 3 water bougets, 2, 1, Arg.  Ros
Gules, 3 Catherine wheels, 2, 1, Arg. Espec.
Az. a Catherine wheel, Or,  Belvoir.
Gules, a fest between 6 cross-croslets, Or. Beauchamp
Chequé Or. And Az. a chevron, Ermine. Newburg Earl of Warwick
Gules, a chevron between 10 crosses-patée, Arg.    Berkley
Or, a fess between 2 chevrons, Sable.  Lisle
Gules, a lion passant guardant, Arg. crowned, Or. Gerrard.
Gules, 3 lions passant guardant, in pale, Or, with a bordure, Arg. Holland Earl of Kent
Arg. a faltire engrailed, Gules Tiptoft
Or, a lion rampant, Gules, armed and langued, Az. Charlton lord Powys
Arg. a fess between 2 bars gemelles, Gules,  Badlesmere
Checqué, Arg. and Gules, Vaux of Gillesland.  
Gules, an eagle displayed, with a bordure, Arg.                   Albini ancient
Or, two chevrons with a bordure, Gules; Trusbut, after Albini of Belvoir


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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