Bishop William Barlow


Bishop William Barlow was born about 1498 in Essex, England to Robert Barlow and his wife, Anna. William, along with three of his four brothers, all entered the clergy at a time of religious change in England. Because there were three active Bishops by the name Barlow and William’s son were also clergy it has at times been confusing as to which “Barlow” is being referenced in historical documents from the time of Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. It is also believed that he may be Friar Jerome who is considered the author of a number of satirical pieces that attacked Cardinal Thomas Wolsley. Knowing the family history with Woosley it would not be surprising (two of William’s brothers were confidants to Anne Boylen). He was the author of “On the Luthern Factions.” During the reign of Mary I he spent time in the Tower of London. Later he and his family were exiled in Germany and he met many Protestant reformers there including Martin Luther. He later went to Poland before returning to England when Elizabeth was crowned. He also contributed to The Institution of the Christian Man.

Religiously he was a staunch reformer who was behind selling church properties and breaking up the monastaries among other things. He did not believe that confession was biblical and purgatory did not exist. He also was for translating the Bible into English.

While there is little evidence that he took an active role in the court of Henry VIII he was sent to James V of Scotland at least twice on the King’s behalf. During the second visit his stay was extended on behalf of Margaret Tudor, the king’s sister. While at Holyrood Palace William presented James with the Order of the Garter.

William is considered the first English bishop to wed. He married Agatha Wellsbourne before 1544, the marriage was before the demand for clerical celibacy was lifted. Their five daughters all married bishops and their oldest son also became a bishop.

William had been Bishop of St. Asaph, St. Davids, and Chichester.

William died in 1568.


Schwartz-Leeper, Gavin, From Princes to Pages: The Literary Lives of Cardinal Wolsey, Tudor England …


Christopher Barker



Geneva_Bible_Title_Page_1589Christopher Barkar (turned Barker) was born in 1529 in England to Edward Barkar and Joyce Burton. He had inherited wealth and position through his great uncle Sir Christopher Baker, a Garter Knight at Arms and a Knight of the Bath. In 1569 he began to have others print books for him, mostly Bibles and prayer books and in 1576 he obtained his own press. That year he printed copies of the Bible in two different versions. On September 27, 1577 for about $3,000 pounds he purchased a patent, or business license, which granted him the ability to use the title Queen’s Printer. “The full patent granted to Barker the office of royal printer of all statutes, books, bills, Acts of Parliament, proclamations, injunctions, Bibles, and New Testaments, in the English tongue of any translation, all service books to be used in churches, and all other volumes ordered to be printed by the Queen or Parliament.”1 He obtained the patent for his son and later his grandsons. He retired after 1588 and at that time he and his deputies had printed 70 editions of the Bible. He died November 29, 1599.

One thing that Christopher would not print were books of music and he would not provide shelves for them either.

Sources 1

Luckombe, Philip, A Concise History of the Origin and Progress of Printing: With Practical Instructions to the Trade in General January 1770, accessed via Google Play on April 9, 2018

Stephen, Sir Leslie, ed.; London, England: Oxford University Press; Dictionary of National Biography, Volumes 1-20, 22; Volume: Vol 01; Page: 1115

Smith, Jeremy L., Thomas East and Music Publishing in Renaissance England Oxford University Press 2003,, accessed via Google Play on April 9, 2018

Margaret Wake, 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell and Countess of Kent

Margaret Wake, 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell and Countess of Kent was born was born about 1297 to John Wake and Joan de Fiennes. When she was about 15, so in 1312, she married John Comyn who was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn on June 24, 1314. Their son, Aymer, died as a toddler in 1316. At Christmas time in 1325, she received dispensation to wed again, this time to Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent. The pair had four children before he was beheaded for treason in 1330. She and the three children had been imprisoned as well, the youngest John was not yet born when her brother was also accused but was later pardoned. When Edward III took control of his crown he brought Margaret and her children to his household and treated them as if they were his family, which helped lead to Joan’s marriage to Prince Edward. She gained the title of Baroness of Wake but it was short lived, she died in the fall of 1349 of plague.


Anne Beauchamp, 16th Countess of Warwick



Anne Beauchamp, 16th Countess of Warwick was born July 13, 1426 at Caversham Castle in what is now Berkshire. Her father was Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick and her mother was his second wife, Isabel le Despenser. She married Richard Neville after being betrothed to him in 1434 (yes she was eight, he was six). They were then married in April of 1436 in a double ceremony that also included her brother Henry and Cecily Neville With her father dying then her brother Henry and his daughter Lady Anne Warwick Neville inherited the title of Warwick along with other lands through his wife. Her three older half sisters contested this. Her sister Eleanor was married to Edmund Beaufort who was closely related to the Nevilles. Richard Neville was the grandson of Joan Beaufort, Edmund’s aunt. This increased tensions between the two families. It took many years, and a Papal dispensation to eat eggs and meat during Lent to help her bear children., The couple finally had two daughters, Isabel, who married George, the Duke of Clarence(this required another Papal dispensation since Edward IV did not approve of it) and Anne who married Prince Edward first and then Richard, Duke of Gloucester who of course became Richard III. The marriage of Isabel and George caused the small family to flee England for a time during which Isabel had a stillborn son while on the ship, Calais had turned them away.

Richard Neville was often sent out of the country and there is some reason to believe that Anne went with him at least some of those times, so though the marriage was a political one they seemed content even thought Richard fathered at least one illegitimate child during the marriage.

Because of bickering over Anne’s estate Richard gave up most of the Warwick lands, which had, been held in his wife’s name and his Salisbury lands to George as well as the office of The Great Chamberlain of England. Edward inherited those lands and titles after his father was executed for treason in 1478. Anne outlived her husband, daughters and sons in laws and passed away in obscurity she was not even at the Coronation of Richard. An act of Parliament in 1474 had labeled her officially dead leaving her lands split between her sons in laws. She had petitioned Henry to receive some of her lands back with the stipulation that they would return to the Crown upon her death. She died on September 20, 1492.


Godgifu, Lady Godiva



Godgifu, Lady Godiva

Godgifu, or Lady Godiva as she is now known (it isn’t just a candy company) was a 11th century noblewoman married to Leofric, Earl of Mercia, who was her second husband. They were both well known for donating to the church and she was the driving force behind his founding of the Benedictine monastery at Coventry in 1043. Her name also shows up with his on endowments at Stow St Mary, Lincolnshire and a land grant to the monastery of St. Mary, Worcester in the following decade. They also donated largely to other monasteries, in money, land, jewelry and artwork. She also joined her sister, Wulviva, in given manors to the cathedral at Hereford. Unfortunately after the little skirmish in 1066 occurred and a lot of it was carried off to Normandy.

She died before the Doomsday Book was published in 1086 but she is listed as one of the few Anglo-Saxon and only female major landholder. She is most likely buried with her husband at Coventry but, “According to the Chronicon Abbatiae de Evesham, or Evesham Chronicle, she was buried at the Church of the Blessed Trinity at Evesham, which is no longer standing.”1 She was so well thought of that when William the Conqueror (or Bastard, or hell uncle Will) gave away her grandsons lands and titles, he did not remove hers from her.

Now the legend tells a different tale. In the 13th century a story came about that her husband was a cruel and tightfisted Lord who was starving his peasants. She begged tax relief for them and—now here is a varience—she either took it upon herself to shame him, or he dared her, but she supposedly rode naked through the town to sway him. Now, did you ever hear of a “Peeping Tom” well, that phrase is part of the legend. Supposedly Leofric ordered everyone to stay indoors with their doors and shutters closed so they would not gaze upon her. Except one man, Tom, grew too curious and peeped out through his shutters. Some say he was blinded by God for doing so, others the townspeople. There is no proof for her ride, or of a tailor named Tom taking a look. In fact, it smacks of the remains of a fertility festival OR an early Christian practice of penitents humbling themselves but stripping to their undergarments. But naked means naked so that’s not a point agreed on by many.

Sources 1

Agnes Wentworth


When you feel as that you aren’t worth anything or won’t make a difference in the world, one woman having sex changed the face of the planet for hundreds of years.

Agnes was born about 1440 in Nettlested, Suffolk, England to Sir Roger Wentworth and Margery le Despencer. She married Sir Robert Constable of Flamborough around 1458 and they supposedly had 17 children (ok so she had sex a few times). Robert was lucky enough to manage to stay alive through the War of the Roses after receiving a pardon for his actions such as the uprising by York supporters known as The Pilgrimage of Grace  though in the end Norfolk had him hung in Hull. “On Frydaye, beyng market daye at Hull, Sir Robert Constable suffred, and dothe hang above the highest gate of the towne, so trymmed in cheynes, that I thinke his bones will hang there this hundrethe yere. And on Thursdaye, which shall be market daye, God willing, I will be at the execution of Aske at York.” –Duke of Norwalk

Agnes died  April 20,  1496 in Flamborough, Yorkshire.



Berengaria of Navarre



Berengaria of Navarre was born around 1165 her parents were Sancho VI of Navarre and Sancha of Castile. She was gifted the fief of Monreal in 1185 by her father. Her lands and unblemished reputation caught the eye of Eleanor of Acquitane as a possible wife for her son Richard. There was a slight glitch in that plan though, Richard was already betrothed to Alys, the sister of King Philip II of France. Richard broke that alliance in 1190 citing rumors that she had had an affair with Henry II of England, Richard’s father, and may have had an illegitimate child. An affair with dad would definitely be a good reason to call off a wedding. That same year Eleanor had met Sancho in Pamplona where he hosted her at a royal banquet in the Royal Palace of Olite. This was most likely where the marriage agreement was privately worked out. Once the formalities were arranged Richard had his mother deliver his new bride to him at Messina in Sicily. Berengaria and Eleanor arrived during Lent in 1191 so the wedding had to be put off until after Easter. While there the women met up with Eleanor’s daughter Joan, the widowed Queen of Sicily. Eleanor left Berengaria in Joan’s care and the two younger women went off to the Holy Land to catch up with Richard who was busy crusading. During this trip their ship rang aground in Cyprus and Isaac Komnenos, the island’s ruler, threatened them. Richard came to their rescue and overthrew Kommenos. The pair married there on May 12, 1191 at Chapel of St George at Limassol. She was crowned Queen that day by the Archbishop of Bordeaux and Bishops of Évreux and Bayonne. It is unknown whether or not this marriage was ever consecrated.

Berengaria, like her mother in law before her, followed her husband off on the Crusade, in this case the Third Crusade. She returned to Europe ahead of her husband and on his return he was captured. She spent her time trying to raise the ransom to have him released. When he did retain his freedom, he returned to England without her. He may have felt it was more important to regain the lands and security that his brother John lost in his absence. (Not to mention that he was more than likely gay.) Eventually Pope Celestine III forced them to reconcile. Richard moved to France with his wife and attended Mass with her each Sunday. He died in 1199 leaving her as the dowager Queen of England and Cyprus.

She never visited England during her marriage, Richard himself was only there for about six months, and it is possible she never visited afterwards making her the only Queen of England to never set foot on the island. She did send envoys since John refused to pay her her pension or money from her lands leaving her near poverty and Eleanor had to step in and intervene, as did Pope Innocent III. He owed her money until his death when his son Henry III paid her the monies owed. She returned to her dower lands in Le Mons after King Phillip of France named her Dame of Le Mans (most likely to annoy her royal brother in law) and later entered L’Épau Abbey which she had help fund. She was buried there after she died on December 23, 1230.


Ealdgyth, also Aldgyth or Edith


Ealdgyth, also Aldgyth or Edith was born about 1057 to Ælfgar, Earl of Mercia and Ælfgifu. In 1055 dad was charged with treason and ran to Ireland. There he founded an alliance with King Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, of Gwynedd. The two returned to England and humiliated Earl Ralph who had to call for outside assistance to ward the army off. When peace was made Ealdgyth was married to Gruffudd. This may have been more than just a political alliance, because Walter Map wrote of “a beautiful lady much beloved by the king” and William of Jumièges also wrote of her as beautiful in his written eyewittness reports of the Norman Invasion. The pair had four children together. Her husband and father’s alliance limited the power of the Godwinson’s, when Earl Ralph died in 1057, Harold gained more lands and Ælfgar was exiled for a brief time again. He returned in 1062 but died the following year. When Harold invaded Wales Gruffudd was killed in the battle. Ealdgyth then married Harold sometime between 1063 and October of 1066. She died sometime in before Christmas in 1066 after Harold was killed at the Battle of Hastings.



Margaret Douglas

Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland (1489-1541), c.1620-38 (oil on canvas)

Margaret Douglas was born October 8, 1515 in Harbottle Castle in Northumberland to Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus and Margaret Tudor. Her earliest childhood was spent crossing back and forth across the English/Scottish border. When she was about 15 she joined the court of her cousin, Princess Mary. During this time Henry VIII gifted his niece with money for Christmas each year. When Henry married Anne Boleyn, she was appointed lady in waiting.

She has a favorite of her uncle Henry VIII and had become her heir after he had Mary and Elizabeth declared bastards. That was until she went and got engaged without his permission. (Has anyone noticed a trend with the women in my family?) Her engagement was to Lord Thomas Howard (Anne’s uncle) who was imprisoned in the Tower of London for the engagement, he died there in 1537. Margaret had been imprisoned as well but was released when she fell ill on October 29,1537. One of the things she is known for is the poetry she wrote, mainly for Howard and they are preserved in the Devonshire MS along with works of her peers.

Annoying her royal uncle with a history of beheading women who upset him seemed to be a habit for young Margaret. After Howard’s death she began an affair with his nephew, Sir Charles Howard, who was brother to the Queen Consort Catherine Howard.


She later became lady in waiting to Catherine Parr as well as they had been friends since they each came to court.

She eventually settled down and married Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox on July 6, 1544. They had accommodations in Westminster after Henry’s death when Mary was queen. When Mary died she was the chief mourner. Mary had wanted to make Margaret her heir but Parliament refused. She returned to Yorkshire when Elizabeth became queen, where they had been living through Edward’s reign and the time that Jane Seymour was encouraged to take the throne. Their home at Temple Newsam became a center for Roman Catholic intrigue. This is also where she was when she married her son Henry Stuart to Mary, the future Queen of Scotland.


She was accused of murdering her own son in 1566 and sent back to the Tower by Elizabeth but was released. This caused issues between her and her daughter in law that eventually were resolved. In 1571 her husband , who was acting as Regent of Scotland, was assassinated. She couldn’t stop angering her royal family members and in 1574 upset Elizabeth again, this time by marrying her younger son, Charles, to Elizabeth Cavandish without permission. Back to the Tower she went and was not released until Charles’ death in 1576. She used her remaining time to help care for his daughter, her granddaughter, Lady Arbella. Though she died in debt and disgrace Elizabeth paid for a lavish funeral at Westminster. She is buried with her son and near Henry VIII.