Elizabeth Brooke (1503–1560)

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Elizabeth Brooke
Born Elizabeth Brooke
Died August 1560 (aged 56–57)
Resting place Tower of London
Occupation Wife of poet Sir Thomas Wyatt
Spouse(s) Sir Thomas Wyatt
Sir Edward Warner
Children Sir Thomas Wyatt
Parent(s) Thomas Brooke, 8th Baron Cobham
Dorothy Heydon

Elizabeth Brooke (1503–1560) was the wife of Thomas Wyatt, the poet, and the mother of Thomas Wyatt the younger who led Wyatt's Rebellion against Mary I. Her parents were Thomas Brooke, 8th Baron Cobham (d. 1529) and Dorothy Heydon, the daughter of Sir Henry Heydon.[1] She was the sister of George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham and was considered a possible candidate for the sixth wife of Henry VIII of England.[2]

Marriage and issue

Elizabeth married twice.

First Marriage

In 1520, Elizabeth married Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-6 Oct 1542) and a year later, bore him a son:[1][3]

  • Sir Thomas (1521–1554), who led an unsuccessful rebellion against Mary I in 1554. The aim of the rebellion was to replace the Catholic Queen Mary with her Protestant half-sister, Elizabeth.[4]
    File:Sir Thomas Wyatt from NPG.jpg
    Sir Thomas Wyatt (1521–1554)

Early in the marriage, marital difficulties arose, with Wyatt claiming they were 'chiefly' her fault. He repudiated her as an adulteress, although there is no record linking her with any specific man. Elizabeth separated from Thomas Wyatt in 1526 and he supported her until around 1537, when he refused to do so any longer and sent her to live with her brother, Lord Cobham. In that same year, Lord Cobham attempted to force Wyatt to continue his financial support. He refused.[5] It wasn't until 1541, when Wyatt, accused of treason, was arrested and his properties confiscated, that the Brooke family was able to force a reconciliation as a condition for Wyatt’s pardon.[6]

In a letter to Charles V, the imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys wrote that Wyatt had been released from the Tower at the request of Catherine Howard. Chapuys noted that the king had imposed two conditions; that Wyatt 'confess his guilt' and that 'he should take back his wife from whom he had been separated upwards of 15 years, on pain of death if he be untrue to her henceforth.' [7][8] It is unclear, however, whether this provision was ever enforced. After pursuing Anne Boleyn, before her relationship with the King, Wyatt had begun a long-term affair with Elizabeth Darrell and he continued his association with his mistress.[6]

On February 14, 1542 the night after Catherine Howard had been condemned to death for adultery, Henry VIII held a dinner for many men and women. The king was said to pay great attention to Elizabeth and to Anne Bassett and both were thought to be possible choices for his sixth wife.[2] In early 1542, more than a year before Wyatt’s death, Elizabeth Brooke's name appeared in Spanish dispatches as one of three ladies in whom Henry VIII was said to be interested as a possible sixth wife.[2]

The imperial ambassador, Chapuys, wrote that the lady for whom the king 'showed the greatest regard was a sister of Lord Cobham, whom Wyatt, some time ago, divorced for adultery. She is a pretty young creature, with wit enough to do as badly as the others if she were to try.' It would appear that the ambassador was mistaken, as at the time, Elizabeth Brooke was nearly forty years old. It is probable that Elizabeth Brooke had been confused with her beautiful young niece, Elisabeth Brooke, the eldest daughter of George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham, who married William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton. Elisabeth Brooke, Lord Cobham’s daughter, may have been at court on this occasion, since she was definitely there the following year. She would have been nearly sixteen in January of 1542 and in later years was accounted one of the most beautiful women of her time. More important to a king who had just rid himself of a wife (Catherine Howard) who had committed adultery, this second Elisabeth had a spotless reputation.[6]

Second marriage

Following Wyatt’s death, Elizabeth Brooke married Sir Edward Warner (1511–1565), of Polstead Hall and Plumstead, Norfolk, Lord Lieutenant of the Tower. The couple had three sons:[9]

  • Edward, who died in infancy
  • Thomas
  • Henry

Warner was removed from his position on July 28, 1553, at the start of the reign of Mary I, and was arrested on suspicion of treason the following January at his house in Carter Lane when Thomas Wyatt the younger rebelled against the Crown. Warner was held for nearly a year. Elizabeth’s son was executed. Edward, the son she had with Warner, died young. Two other sons died in infancy. The family fortunes were restored under Elizabeth I and Warner reclaimed his post at the Tower of London. His wife died there in August 1560 and was buried within its precincts.[6]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Richardson IV 2011, pp. 381–2
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hart 2009, p. 197
  3. Philipot 1898, p. 142
  4. Thomson 1964, p. 273
  5. Shulman 2012, pp. 88, 228–229, 348–350
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "A Who's Who of Tudor Women". kateemersonhistoricals.com. Retrieved 19 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, vol. 16, 662, 27 March 1541". British-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 20 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Preface". Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 16: 1540–1541 (1898), pp. I-LV. British-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 19 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Wyatt released at the request of Catherine Howard
  9. Hervey 1891, pp. 308–309


External links

Further reading

  • Rebholz, R A, ed (1978), Wyatt:The Complete Poems, London: Penguin Books, ISBN 978-0-14-042227-6CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Muir, Kenneth (1963), The Life and Letters of Sir Thomas Wyatt (Liverpool English texts and studies), LIVERPOOL: Liverpool University Press, ISBN 978-0-14-042227-6<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>