Barbara Sidney, Countess of Leicester

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Barbara Sidney with six of her children, painted c.1596 by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561–1636), collection of Viscount de Lisle, Penshurst Place
Arms of Gammage of Coity Castle, Glamorgan: Argent, five fusils in bend gules on a chief azure three escallops of the first[1]

Barbara Sidney, Countess of Leicester (1563 – 24 May 1621[2]) was a Welsh heiress, and the first wife of Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester.[3]

Origins[edit]

Barbara was the sole child and heiress of her father John Gamage (d.1584) of Coity Castle, Glamorgan. On the death of her father she was granted by the crown in wardship to Sir Edward Stradling of St Donat's Castle, Glamorgan, until her marriage.

Marriage & progeny[edit]

On 23 September 1584, she married Robert Sidney, later created Earl of Leicester, at St Donat's Castle, the home of her guardian. Although Sidney was MP for Glamorgan, the couple lived chiefly at Baynard's Castle in London and at Penshurst Place in Kent. They had eleven children:

According to the editor of Ben Jonson's poem 'To Penshurst', the 'My Lady's Oak' and 'Gamage copse' mention in the poem are reference to Barbara Sidney. The first because, according to tradition, she "was taken in travail [labour] under an oak in Penshurst Park, which was afterwards called My Lady's Oak ", and secondly that she liked to feed the deer under the shade of the copse.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ These were the arms of the heiress Barbara Gammage borne as an escutcheon of pretence by her husband Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester, as is visible on the imprints of 55 books donated by him to the Bodleian Library. The earlier arms of Gammage found on various rolls of arms omitted the escallops and place the bend fusilly over all
  2. ^ Margaret P. Hannay, Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth (Ashgate, 2010), p 227. Accessed 25 April 2014
  3. ^ Welsh Biography Online
  4. ^ [1]. Accessed 7 June 2014