Sir Robert Dudley

Sir Robert Dudley

Surrey, England
Death 4 Sep 1588 (aged 55)
Oxfordshire, England
Burial Warwick, Warwick District, Warwickshire, England
Plot Beauchamp Chapel
Memorial ID 12427 · View Source
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Earl of Leicester. Born the fifth of thirteen children of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland and Lady Jane Guildford. Dudley was first introduced to Princess Elizabeth when he was about eight years old, establishing the basis for a life long friendship. At eighteen, Dudley married Lady Amy Robsart, an heiress in her own right, daughter of Sir John Robsart of Syderstone. Dudley took a seat in the House of Commons for Norfolk in 1551. At nineteen, his father had him made one of the Gentlemen of the King's Privy Chamber to Edward VI. Upon the King’s death, Dudley supported his father’s plot to place his brother’s wife Lady Jane Grey on the throne in July 1553. The coup, however, failed and the Dudley family were arrested and condemned to death. John, Guildford, and Lady Jane Grey Dudley went to the block, but Robert was released in October 1554; a pardon followed three months later. Queen Mary then made him Master of the Ordnance. In 1557, Dudley raised an army for service against the French in exchange for the return of his family’s estates, which had been attained when his father was executed. Upon her accession in 1558, Queen Elizabeth I gave him the prestigious title of Master of the Horse. He quickly became the new Queen’s favorite and she bestowed titles and gifts on him arousing a great deal of jealousy at court. Such was the Queen’s favor, gossip arose that Dudley had become her paramour and even that she was pregnant by him or that they might marry. Dudley’s wife, Lady Amy, however, died suddenly in 1560 under suspicious circumstances. Rumors that Dudley had had her killed so that he would be free to marry the Queen were rampant. Conspiracy minded talk also speculated that the Queen might have been involved in the death. Although an inquest returned a verdict of misadventure, the scandal was credited with destroying Dudley’s reputation and hopes for elevation. He would not remarry for almost eighteen years when it became clear Elizabeth would not marry him. The Queen did, however, create him Earl of Leicester. In 1573, Dudley had an affair with Lady Douglas Howard with whom he had a son. In 1578, he secretly married the Queen's cousin, the widowed Lettice Knollys Devereux, Countess of Essex. In 1585, Dudley was made commander of the English forces in aid of the Netherlands which were in revolt against Spanish rule. In 1588, under the threat of the Spanish Armada, Dudley was given command of the Queen’s land based forces in England. Following the defeat of the Armada, his health poor, Dudley made plans to go to Buxton which reputedly had healing waters. He died en route at his house in Oxfordshire. The queen assured her favorite had a sumptuous funeral and he was interred in the Beauchamp Chapel of St Mary's Church, Warwick.

Bio by: Iola

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 12 Sep 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 12427
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sir Robert Dudley (24 Jun 1533–4 Sep 1588), Find a Grave Memorial no. 12427, citing St. Mary's Collegiate Church, Warwick, Warwick District, Warwickshire, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .