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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 May 2015

The Open University
Department of History, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes mk7


In September 1579, at the height of an intense political debate over her prospective marriage to the duke of Anjou, Elizabeth I visited New Hall, the country seat of the match's greatest supporter within England, Thomas Radcliffe, third earl of Sussex. Her entertainment on that occasion, hitherto completely unknown, was described in a letter, printed here, from one Norfolk gentleman, Sir Edward Clere, to another, Bassingbourne Gawdy. The letter describes the dramatic performances and other entertainments provided for the queen, which included coded but unmistakeable encouragements for her to proceed with the marriage. This article discusses the ways in which this was done and their consequences for our knowledge of the Anjou marriage debate as a political episode, suggesting that Sussex sought to use the entertainment to boost the participation of more conservative members of the nobility in government. It also explores how this evidence affects our picture of Elizabethan courtly entertainments, and particularly their non-dramatic elements. Finally, it discusses Clere's letter itself as an insight into the nature of gentry news culture, particularly with regard to matters of high politics.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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The author wishes to thank Janet Dickinson, Michael Questier, Malcolm Smuts, and this journal's referees for comments on earlier drafts of this article. I am also grateful to the British Library for permission to publish this transcript.


1 For accounts of the Anjou episode, see Doran, Susan, Monarchy and matrimony: the courtships of Elizabeth I (London, 1996), pp. 154–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Read, Conyers, Mr Secretary Walsingham and the policy of Queen Elizabeth (3 vols., Oxford, 1925)Google Scholar, ii, pp. 1–117; idem, Lord Burghley and Queen Elizabeth (London, 1960)Google Scholar; MacCaffrey, W. T., ‘The Anjou match and the making of Elizabethan foreign policy’, in Clark, Peter, Smith, Alan G. R., and Tyacke, Nicholas, eds., The English commonwealth 1547–1640: essays presented to Professor Joel Hurstfield (Leicester, 1979), pp. 5975Google Scholar; idem, Queen Elizabeth and the making of policy, 1572–1588 (Princeton, NJ, 1987)Google Scholar, ch. 11; Holt, Mack P., The duke of Anjou and the politique struggle during the Wars of Religion (Cambridge, 1986), pp. 109–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar; for a very full account of the political worldview of the forward Protestants with regard to the match, see Worden, Blair, The sound of virtue: Philip Sidney's Arcadia and Elizabethan politics (New Haven, CT, and London, 1996)Google Scholar.

2 Collinson, Patrick, The Elizabethan puritan movement (Oxford, 1967), p. 200Google Scholar.

3 The visit to New Hall is very briefly noted in Chambers, E. K., The Elizabethan stage (4 vols., Oxford, 1923)Google Scholar, iv, p. 96, and Doran, Susan, ‘The finances of an Elizabethan nobleman and royal servant: a case study of Thomas Radcliffe, 3rd earl of Sussex’, Historical Research, 61 (1988), p. 294CrossRefGoogle Scholar n. 53. The Spanish ambassador noted on 25 Sept. 1579 that Sussex had ‘grandly entertained’ the queen and the French ambassadors: Hume, Martin A. S., ed., Calendar of letters and state papers relating to English affairs preserved principally in the archives of Simancas (4 vols., London, 1892–9)Google Scholar (hereafter CSP Spanish), ii, p. 700.

4 Hasler, P. W., ed., The history of parliament: the House of Commons, 1558–1603 (3 vols., London, 1981)Google Scholar, i, pp. 612–13; A. Smith, Hassell, County and court: government and politics in Norfolk, 1558–1603 (Oxford, 1974), pp. 160–3Google Scholar. On the visit to Thetford, see Nichols, John, ed., The progresses and public processions of Queen Elizabeth (3 vols., London, 1823)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, ii, p. 214; Dovey, Zillah, An Elizabethan progress: the queen's journey into East Anglia, 1578 (Stroud, 1996), p. 102Google Scholar. On the house in Holborn, see Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on the manuscripts of the family of Gawdy (London, 1885)Google Scholar (HMC Gawdy), pp. 12, 13. On the New Year's Gifts, see Nichols, Progresses, i, p. 381 (1574), ii, pp. 77, 88 (1578), 258, 269 (1579), iii, pp. 10, 19 (1589), 454, 463 (1600).

5 Hasler, Commons, ii, p. 176; Jeayes, I. H., ed., Letters of Philip Gawdy of West Harling, Norfolk, and of London to various members of his family, 1579–1616 (Roxburghe Club, London, 1906)Google Scholar; HMC Gawdy, p. 14.

6 Smith, County and court, ch. 8; their friendship: ibid., pp. 160–1; HMC Gawdy, pp. 12–13.

7 Cole, Mary Hill, The portable queen: Elizabeth I and the politics of ceremony (Amherst, MA, 1999), pp. 192Google Scholar, 222; a number of documents are dated from the house on 17 or 18 Sept.: HMC, Calendar of the manuscripts of the marquis of Salisbury (24 vols., London, 1883–1976)Google Scholar, ii, p. 267; Dasent, J. R., ed., Acts of the privy council of England, n.s. (32 vols., London, 1890–1907)Google Scholar, xi, p. 268; The National Archives SP 46/31, fo. 300). Some confusion surrounds the 1579 progress. Nichols gives a detailed itinerary for a progress through Essex beginning on either 16 July or 5 Aug. (both dates are given); this clearly represents plans which were abandoned, presumably because of Anjou's visit to court in Aug. Nichols, Progresses, ii, pp. 285–7. The queen was at Greenwich throughout July, aside from a short excursion to Wanstead, and left on progress on 9 Sept.: see Cole, Portable queen, p. 192; the council's records (Dasent, ed., Acts of the privy council, xi, pp. 197–260), Mendoza's despatches (CSP Spanish, ii, pp. 682–97), etc.

8 Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, pp. 130–53.

9 See MacCaffrey, Making of policy, esp. pp. 252–3; on Anjou's activities, see Holt, The duke of Anjou.

10 Read, Walsingham, ii, p. 13; Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, pp. 157–8.

11 Read, Walsingham, ii, pp. 13, 19–20. This visit probably accounts for the progress occurring so late in the summer. Although intended to be secret, the visit is mentioned in the proclamation of 27 Sept.: Hughes, P. L. and Larkin, J. F., eds., Tudor royal proclamations, ii: The later Tudors (1553–1587) (New Haven, CT, and London, 1969), pp. 445–9Google Scholar, at p. 447.

12 See Sir Walter Mildmay's comments on this point: Murdin, William, ed., A collection of state papers relating to affairs in the reign of Queen Elizabeth from the year 1571 to 1596 (London, 1759), p. 332Google Scholar.

13 Nicolas, Harris, ed., Memoirs of the life and times of Sir Christopher Hatton (London, 1847), pp. 200–1Google Scholar; Murdin, ed., State papers, pp. 325–6, 331; Pollen, J. H., SJ, ed., ‘Father Persons' memoirs (concluded)’, Miscellanea IV (Catholic Record Society publications, 4, London, 1907), p. 23Google Scholar.

14 Worden, Sound of virtue, pp. 97–8, 108–9; Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, pp. 157, 172–3. On his support, see e.g. CSP Spanish, ii, p. 702; also his son Thomas Cecil's support, which one would expect to echo his father's views: below, n. 24.

15 Adams, Simon, Leicester and the court: essays on Elizabethan politics (Manchester, 2002), p. 6Google Scholar; Alford, Stephen, Burghley: William Cecil at the court of Elizabeth I (New Haven, CT, and London, 2008), pp. 234–5Google Scholar; Mears, Natalie, ‘Counsel, public debate, and queenship: John Stubbs's The discoverie of a gaping gulf, 1579’, Historical Journal, 44 (2001), pp. 629–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at p. 636; Lake, Peter, ‘The politics of “popularity” and the public sphere: the “monarchical republic” of Elizabeth I defends itself’, in Lake, Peter and Pincus, Steven, eds., The politics of the public sphere in early modern England (Manchester, 2007), pp. 59–9Google Scholar4, at pp. 74–5.

16 Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, pp. 74, 80–2, 87–8, 91, 95, 98.

17 Simier returned to France in Nov. Read, Walsingham, ii, p. 27.

18 Elizabeth told Anjou in Jan. 1580 that she could not grant toleration: Read, Walsingham, ii, pp. 28–9; Simon Adams, ‘Dudley, Robert, earl of Leicester (1532/3–1588)’, Oxford dictionary of national biography (ODNB).

19 Read, Walsingham, ii, p. 21; Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, pp. 172–3; Simon Adams, Alan Bryson and Mitchell Leimon, ‘Walsingham, Sir Francis (c. 1532–1590)’, ODNB; HMC Salisbury, ii, pp. 272–3.

20 Bossy, John, ‘English Catholics and the French marriage, 1577–1581’, Recusant History, 5 (1959), pp. 216CrossRefGoogle Scholar; British Library (BL), Lansdowne 39, fos. 189r–192v (William Herle to Lord Burghley, 15 Nov. 1583); Herle, an enthusiastic Protestant partisan, is not wholly reliable, but this is a plausible statement.

21 See Peck, D. C., ed., Leicester's commonwealth: the copy of a letter written by a Master of Art of Cambridge (1584) and related documents (Athens, OH, 1985), p. 18Google Scholar; HMC Salisbury, ii, p. 224; Lodge, E., ed., Illustrations of British history, biography, and manners, in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, Elizabeth, and James I (London, 1791)Google Scholar, ii, pp. 197–9 (Sussex to Burghley, 4 and 5 Nov. 1578).

22 Quoted in MacCaffrey, ‘Anjou match’, p. 65.

23 BL, Harleian MS 6992, fo. 112r (Leicester to Burghley, 20 Oct. 1579).

24 McCoog, Thomas M., ‘The English Jesuit mission and the French match, 1579–1581’, Catholic Historical Review, 87 (2001), pp. 185213CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Lake, ‘Politics of “popularity”’, pp. 83–6.

25 For discussions of counsel in this context, see Natalie Mears, ‘Love-making and diplomacy: Elizabeth I and the Anjou marriage negotiations, c. 1578–1582’, History (2001), pp. 442–66; Mears, ‘Counsel, public debate, and queenship’; Patrick Collinson, ‘Pulling the strings: religion and politics in the progress of 1578’, in Archer, Jayne Elisabeth, Goldring, Elizabeth, and Knight, Sarah, eds., The progresses, pageants and entertainments of Queen Elizabeth I (Oxford, 2007), pp. 122–41Google Scholar. For the debate as an instance of the ‘public sphere’, see Lake, ‘The politics of popularity’.

26 Duncan-Jones, Katherine and van Dorsten, Jan, eds., Miscellaneous prose of Sir Philip Sidney (Oxford, 1973), pp. 4657Google Scholar; Worden, Sound of virtue, passim; Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, p. 160; Murdin, ed., State papers, pp. 338–42.

27 MacCaffrey, ‘Anjou match’, p. 64; MacCaffrey, Making of policy, p. 255; CSP Spanish, ii, pp. 658–9; Lodge, Illustrations, ii, pp. 212–13; McCullough, Peter, Sermons at court: politics and religion in Elizabethan and Jacobean preaching (Cambridge, 1998), pp. 67–8Google Scholar; on attempts to repress them, see Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, p. 160; Nicolas, ed., Memoirs of Hatton, pp. 200–1, which is misdated to 1581. On public comment on the marriage, see Sheils, W. J., The puritans in the diocese of Peterborough, 1558–1610 (Northamptonshire Record Society, 30, 1979), p. 123Google Scholar.

28 E.g. letters from Gilbert Talbot and others to the earl of Shrewsbury: Lodge, Illustrations, ii, pp. 205, 212, 217–18, 221–3.

29 MacCaffrey, ‘Anjou match’, p. 64; Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, pp. 164, 168–9; for an example, see Furnivall, F. J. and Morfill, W. R., eds., Ballads from manuscripts, ii (Hertford, Ballad Society, 1873), p. 114Google Scholar.

30 MacCaffrey, Making of policy, pp. 264–5.

31 Stubbs, John, The discouerie of a gaping gulf vvhereinto England is like to be swallovved by another French mariage, if the Lord forbid not the banes, by letting her Maiestie see the sin and punishment thereof, STC (2nd edn) 23400 (London, 1579)Google Scholar; Berry, Lloyd E., ed., John Stubbs's Gaping gulf with letters and other relevant documents (Charlottesville, VA, 1968); MacCaffrey, Making of policy, pp. 255–61Google Scholar; Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, pp. 164–6. For the case that Stubbs was acting on his own initiative, see Mears, ‘Counsel, public debate, and queenship’; for the case that councillors were involved, see Lake, ‘Politics of “popularity”’, pp. 74–6. On the proclamation, see Hughes and Larkin, eds., Tudor royal proclamations ii, pp. 445–9; also Berry, ed., John Stubbs's Gaping gulf, pp. 147–52. On the council's efforts to suppress it, see MacCaffrey, ‘Anjou Match’, pp. 64–5.

32 Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, ch. 4.

33 HMC Salisbury, ii, p. 195; Lodge, Illustrations, ii, pp. 177–86; see also Hatton's copy: Nicolas, ed., Memoirs of Hatton, pp. 81–9; Mildmay's notes from it: Collier, J. Payne, ed., The Egerton papers: a collection of public and private documents, chiefly illustrative of the times of Elizabeth and James I (Camden Society old ser., 12, 1840), pp. 74–8Google Scholar.

34 Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, pp. 78–98, esp. pp. 82, 90–1

35 BL, Cotton MS Titus B VII, fo. 360 (Anjou to Sussex, 13 Sept. 1579).

36 Chambers, Elizabethan stage, ii, pp. 92–6; Susan Doran, ‘The political career of Thomas Radcliffe, 3rd earl of Sussex (1526?–1583)’ (Ph.D. thesis, London, 1977), pp. 321–2, 400.

37 Doran, Susan, ‘Juno versus Diana: the treatment of Elizabeth I's marriage in plays and entertainments, 1561–1581’, Historical Journal, 38 (1995), pp. 257–74Google Scholar, at p. 264 (quotation). Pound's niece married Sussex's brother Henry Radcliffe, later 4th earl of Sussex. Pound might thus have written the New Hall entertainment, but there are reasons to think not: in a 1580 letter to Hatton he referred to his authorship only of Kenilworth entertainments, which Chambers surmises to be those of 1568, since after 1570 Pound was imprisoned as a recusant: Chambers, Elizabethan stage, iii, pp. 468–9; Pincombe, Michael, ‘Two Elizabethan masque-orations by Thomas Pound’, Bodleian Library Record, 12 (1987), pp. 349–80Google Scholar. In any case, the actual author of entertainment texts was usually less significant than his patron: Heaton, Gabriel, Writing and reading royal entertainments from George Gascoigne to Ben Jonson (Oxford, 2010), pp. 33–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 96–7.

38 Axton, Marie, The queen's two bodies: drama and the Elizabethan succession (London, 1977), p. 1Google Scholar.

39 Puzzlingly, Clere describes ‘the Utter court [and] the Inner court’, yet New Hall had only one court (leaving aside service yards etc.). Clere may have misremembered or misunderstood what was described to him by others, or the ‘Utter court’ may be intended to mean ‘outside the court’, i.e. outside the front gatehouse.

40 On Gorboduc, see Doran, ‘Juno versus Diana’, pp. 260–3; Henry James and Greg Walker, ‘The politics of Gorboduc’, English Historical Review, 110 (1995), pp. 109–21; Jones, Norman and White, Paul Whitfield, ‘Gorboduc and royal marriage politics: an Elizabethan playgoer's report of the premiere performance’, English Literary Renaissance, 26 (1996), pp. 316CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On the 1565 entertainment, see CSP Spanish, i, p. 404; Doran, ‘Juno versus Diana’, pp. 264–5; Paul Whitfield White, ‘Patronage, Protestantism and stage propaganda in early Elizabethan England’, Yearbook of English Studies, 21: Politics, Patronage and Literature in England 1558–1658 Special Number (1991), pp. 39–52, at p. 49.

41 Doran, ‘Juno versus Diana’, pp. 266–8.

42 King, John N., ‘Queen Elizabeth I: representations of the Virgin Queen’, Renaissance Quarterly, 43 (1990), pp. 3074CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Doran, ‘Juno versus Diana’, pp. 270–4; Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, pp. 170–2.

43 Lodge, Illustrations, ii, p. 181.

44 See King, ‘Representations of the Virgin Queen’, p. 32.

45 Sybil M. Jack, ‘Manners, Edward, third earl of Rutland (1549–1587)’, ODNB. Rutland turned down high office as lord chancellor in 1587, shortly before his death.

46 Read, Walsingham, ii, p. 5; Bossy, ‘English Catholics’, p. 5.

47 Bossy, ‘English Catholics’, pp. 2–3.

48 Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, p. 181.

49 The equation of the pro-marriage group with the Oxford circle is evident in Bossy, ‘English Catholics’, Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, p. 161; McCoog, ‘The English Jesuit mission’.

50 The others were Sir William Cordell and possibly Sir Thomas Cornwallis. These reports come from the French ambassador in England, the papal nuncio in Paris, and Charles Sledd, a government spy reporting gossip among English Catholics in Rome; all are, to some degree, dubious sources. Doran suggests that in view of her harsh words against him, the queen may have contemplated dismissing Walsingham. Read, Walsingham, ii, p. 21; Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, pp. 173–4, 253 n. 92; Bossy, ‘English Catholics’, p. 7; Talbot, Clare, ed., Miscellanea: recusant records (Catholic Record Society, vol. 53, 1961), p. 229Google Scholar (I owe this last reference to Michael Questier).

51 The Acts of the privy council show that the councillors present at New Hall were lord chancellor Bromley, Burghley, Warwick, Leicester, Hunsdon, Sir Francis Knollys, Sir Henry Sidney, Sir Christopher Hatton, and the two secretaries, Walsingham and Wilson. Sussex must have been too busy to sit in council himself. Dasent, ed., Acts of the privy council, xi, p. 267; Dovey, Elizabethan progress, p. 94.

52 Leicester was uncle of Philip Sidney and his sister Mary, Pembroke's wife. Pembroke had already been associated with Leicester's opposition to the marriage: see CSP Spanish, ii, p. 693.

53 Simon Adams, Ian W. Archer, and G. W. Bernard, eds., ‘A “journal” of matters of state happened from time to time as well within and without the realme from and before the death of King Edw. the 6th untill the yere 1562 [and] Certayne brife notes of the controversy betwene the dukes of Somerset and duke of Nor[t]humberland’, in Archer, Ian W. et al., eds., Religion, politics and society in sixteenth-century England (Camden Fifth Series 22, 2003), p. 91Google Scholar.

54 Doran, ‘Juno versus Diana’, p. 257.

55 Ibid., p. 265, citing CSP Spanish, i, p. 404. The audience of Palamon and Arcite (1566) even took part in the drama by loudly applauding the marriage of the characters: Doran ‘Juno versus Diana’, p. 264.

56 Hughes and Larkin, eds., Tudor royal proclamations, ii, pp. 115–16.

57 See also on this Mears, Natalie, Queenship and political discourse in the Elizabethan realms (Cambridge, 2005), p. 106Google Scholar.

58 This began in 1575 with the Kenilworth entertainments and was common by the 1590s. Goldring, Elizabeth, ‘“A mercer ye wot az we be”: the authorship of the Kenilworth Letter reconsidered’, English Literary Renaissance, 38 (2008), pp. 245–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at p. 266. There were at least two publications relating to entertainments for the French commissioners sent to negotiate a marriage in spring 1581: Arber, E., ed., A transcript of the registers of the company of stationers of London 1554–1640 A. D. (London, 1875)Google Scholar, ii, p. 401; Goldwel, Henry, A briefe declaratio of the shews … performed before the queenes maiestie & the French ambassadours, STC (2nd edn) 11990 (London, 1581)Google Scholar, reprinted in Nichols, Progresses, ii, pp. 310–29.

59 Patterson, Annabel, Reading Holinshed's chronicles (Chicago, IL, 1994), p. 54Google Scholar.

60 H. R. Woudhuysen, ‘Sidney, Sir Philip (1554–1586)’, ODNB; Stewart, Alan, Philip Sidney: a double life (London, 2000), pp. 220–1Google Scholar; Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, p. 160; Mears, ‘Counsel, public debate and queenship’, p. 648.

61 Goldring, Elizabeth and Archer, Jayne Elisabeth, ‘Shows and pageants’, in Kewes, Paulina, Archer, Ian W., and Heal, Felicity, eds., The Oxford handbook of Holinshed's Chronicles (Oxford, 2013), pp. 319–35Google Scholar, at pp. 329–30.

62 Heaton, Writing and reading royal entertainments, p. 4.

63 Berry, ed., John Stubbs's Gaping gulf, pp. lix–lxi, 155–94.

64 Levy, F. J., ‘How information spread among the gentry, 1550–1640’, Journal of British Studies, 21 (1982), pp. 1134CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Cust, Richard, ‘News and politics in early seventeenth-century England’, Past and Present, 112 (1986), pp. 6090CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Fox, Adam, ‘Rumour, news and popular political opinion in Elizabethan and early Stuart England’, Historical Journal, 40 (1997), pp. 597620CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Mears, Queenship and political discourse, chs. 4–5.

65 On separates, see Cust, ‘News and politics’, pp. 62, 64; Heaton, Writing and reading royal entertainments, p. 95. On scribal publication, see for example Goldring, ‘“A mercer ye wot az we be”’, p. 266. On distribution of news and texts of court entertainments, see Gabriel Heaton, ‘Elizabethan entertainments in manuscript: the Harefield Festivities (1602) and the dynamics of exchange’, in Archer, Goldring, and Knight, eds., Progresses, pageants and entertainments. On the rarity of accounts of plays, see Jones and White, ‘Gorboduc and royal marriage politics’, p. 3.

66 Levy, Fritz, ‘The decorum of news’, Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism, 21 (1998), pp. 1238CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at p. 18.

67 See above, n. 5; HMC Gawdy, p. 10.

68 See Levy, ‘Decorum of news’.

69 Goldring and Archer, ‘Shows and pageants’, p. 323. They similarly note that the pageants tended to be described rather than the texts printed.

70 Hasler, Commons, i, p. 612.

71 See Read, Walsingham, ii, p. 22; Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, p. 167. Mendoza wrote that he heard she had said to Walsingham ‘begone and that the only thing he was good for was a protector of heretics’, and that she had been rowing with Knollys and Hatton too. CSP Spanish, ii, p. 704.

72 Doran, Monarchy and matrimony, p. 174.

73 Leicester married Lettice on 21 Sept. 1578, and the queen seems to have found out in Nov. 1579, with Leicester in disgrace until Mar. 1580. Adams, ‘Leicester’, ODNB.

74 Bossy, ‘English Catholics’, pp. 6–7. He suggests French manoeuvres and Anjou's visit prompted a Leicestrian/puritan backlash (the Gaping gulf), and then a French counterblast (revealing Leicester's marriage to Lettice and subsequent banishment). Adams, Leicester and the court, p. 6.

75 Read, Walsingham, ii, pp. 31–2.

76 Ibid., pp. 23–117.

77 BL, Add. MS 27960, fo. 12 (c) The British Library Board. In the transcription, the use of u/v and i/j is modernized; the thorn is transcribed as ‘th’; standard contractions are silently expanded [‘yr’ to ‘your’ etc.]. The hand, apparently Clere's own, is fairly neat but cramped; the letter is squeezed on to one unfolded sheet of paper and written upside down on the verso. The manuscript shows clear signs of having been folded, sealed, addressed to Gawdy, and (on the basis of its discolouration) sent, which makes it curious that it is now found in a bound volume of other letters from Clere and his relatives, mostly to other Norfolk gentry recipients (often Gawdy). Presumably therefore Clere was in the habit of recovering his own letters from their recipients.

78 William Cecil, 1st Lord Burghley (1520–98), lord treasurer and Elizabeth's most trusted councillor.

79 Henry Percy, 8th earl of Northumberland (c. 1532–85); he had remained loyal during the rebellion of 1569–70, led by his brother and predecessor the 7th earl, but had flirted with support for Mary, Queen of Scots shortly afterwards and spent eighteen months in disgrace.

80 Edward Manners, 3rd earl of Rutland (1549–87), a great magnate in the east Midlands but an infrequent and reluctant courtier.

81 Philip Howard (1557–95), by courtesy earl of Surrey but better known by his later (1580) title of earl of Arundel; head of the Howard family since the execution for treason of his father Thomas, 4th duke of Norfolk. Although not at this stage a Catholic, he was widely regarded as being sympathetic towards conservative religious tendencies.

82 Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montague (1528–92); widely known as Catholic though accepted at Elizabeth's court and the recipient of her favour. His first wife, Jane, was a daughter of Robert Radcliffe, 1st earl of Sussex, and therefore the 3rd earl's aunt. J. G. Elzinga, ‘Browne, Anthony, first Viscount Montagu (1528–1592)’, ODNB.

83 This could be any of a number of Sussex's relatives, including his brother Sir Henry Radcliffe (by 1533–93), later 4th earl of Sussex, or his cousin the gentleman pensioner Thomas Radcliffe (d. 1586), who participated in the elaborate masque the Four foster children of desire (also known as the Fortress of perfect beauty) in 1581: Chambers, Elizabethan stage, iv, p. 64.

84 Probably Thomas Knyvet (c. 1545–1622), a fixture at court and groom of the privy chamber (Hasler, Commons, ii, pp. 423–4).

85 Ralph Bowes (d. 1623), son of Sir Robert Bowes, English ambassador in Scotland; not regarded as a significant courtier but formerly a servant of Leicester's (Hasler, Commons, i, p. 465); also a participant in the Four foster children of desire (see above).

86 Possibly Sir Thomas Tresham of Rushton, Northamptonshire (1543–1605), later a noted recusant but at this stage conforming, and an occasional courtier (ODNB); however, probably more likely his brother William Tresham, a gentleman pensioner, another participant in the Four foster children of desire (see above).

87 Ratcliffe was a hamlet between Shadwell and Limehouse, a few miles downstream from London, and a significant embarking place at the time.

88 A large new merchant ship.

89 Henry III of France was not dead.

90 Fuenterrabia, now known as Hondarribia, in the Basque Country.

91 A reference to the early stages of the Second Desmond Rebellion, triggered by the landing of James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald with about sixty Spanish and Italian troops at Smerwick. The earl of Desmond did indeed come out in rebellion. It is not clear who is meant by ‘Glencarne’, since the earls of Glencairn were Scottish nobles; this may be a confusion for Clanrickard, though neither he nor the O'Neill, Turlough Luineach, had yet risen in support of the rebels.

92 One Bradshaw was gaoler of Norwich at this stage, and would thus have been working for Gawdy; it is possible that he was the bearer of this letter. HMC Gawdy, p. 8.