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Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury
Birth: 1527
Death: Feb. 13, 1607

English Aristocracy. Popularly known as Bess of Hardwicke, she was born the daughter of John Hardwicke of Derbyshire. In 1543, she contracted to a marriage with Robert Barley, son of Arthur Barley. He died young leaving her a widow's portion which she then apparently parlayed into a marriage with the Right Honorable Sir William Cavendish, Gentleman-Usher to Cardinal Wolsey; and Treasurer of the Chamber to King Henry VIII, in 1547. With him she had six surviving children. In 1552 they started building their new home, Chatsworth House, before Cavendish's death about 1562. While serving as a lady in waiting to the queen, she then married the wealthy Captain of the Guard to Elizabeth I, Sir William St. Loe about 1559. Upon his death about 1564, he left his entire estate to his wife, bypassing his daughters from a previous marriage. She then married widower George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury in February 1568, the richest and most powerful peer of his time. She then married two of her children to two of her new husband's children, before marrying off a third, illegally, to Charles Stuart, brother in law to the former queen, Mary of Scotland giving her a connection to the royal families of both England and Scotland. Shrewsbury, had for many years acted as the occasional custodian for the Scottish queen. Having charges of embezzlement, with her husband's death in 1590, she became the richest woman in England after the queen. Earning the nickname, Bess the Builder, she then started a grand home near Old Hardwicke Hall, her properties at Chatsworth and Hardwick were showplaces of the day, and are even now popular tourist destinations. She continued with her building projects until early in 1608,when she was reported to be so ill her maid could not leave her day or night. Upon her death, she was buried at All Saints, now the Cathedral of Derby, three months later. Her funeral was postponed at her son's request in order that he might marry. She was described by contemporaries as "...a woman of a masculine understanding and conduct; proud, furious, selfish, and unfeeling."
 (bio by: Iola) 
Family links: 
  William Cavendish (1505 - 1557)*
  George Talbot (1528 - 1590)*
  Henry Cavendish (1550 - 1616)*
  William Cavendish (1552 - 1626)*
  Elizabeth Cavendish Stuart (1554 - 1582)*
*Calculated relationship
Derby Cathedral
Derby Unitary Authority
Derbyshire, England
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 22, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 8278
Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury
Added by: K F
Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury
Added by: julia&keld
Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury
Added by: Kieran Smith
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- Aunt Bee on the porch in Mayberry
 Added: Oct. 28, 2013
You were indeed a woman "before your time"...and the male historians "blasted' you for it. But, you set a fine example for women of the future, Bess. Thank you!
- Margie Bizer
 Added: Oct. 21, 2013
So thrilled to find out today that you are my 11th great-grandmother. What an amazing lady. I hope to be at least half the woman you were.
- Mrs. Speck
 Added: Sep. 8, 2013
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