Anne Bassett

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For the rancher associated with Butch Cassidy, see Ann Bassett.

Anne Bassett was an English courtier of the Tudor period, whose charms attracted the attention of King Henry VIII.[1]

Family background[edit]

Anne was born in 1520,[2] the fourth child of Sir John Bassett and Honor (daughter of Sir Thomas Grenville of Stowe in Kilkhampton, Cornwall and his wife Isabella). As her father died when she was young, Anne was brought up by her mother and stepfather, Arthur Plantagenet, Lord Lisle, in the English enclave of Calais. Lord Lisle was the illegitimate son of Edward IV of England, and thus Henry VIII's uncle.


Lady Honor, Anne's formidable mother, had attempted to secure a place for her two daughters (Anne and her sister Elizabeth Bassett) in the service of Queen Anne Boleyn several times, but to no avail. She persisted in her efforts to secure them positions and eventually, after sending a large consignment of quails to Anne's successor, Queen Jane Seymour the latter relented. She allowed Lady Lisle to send her daughters but warned her that only one position could be found. Anne was the sister accepted and was sworn into service the day after the pregnant queen took to her chamber for her lying-in.[1]

Anne is rumoured to have attracted Henry VIII in 1538 and 1539, and is rumoured to have been the king's mistress. The ambassadors thought that she might become his fourth wife in 1540, and again in 1542, just after Queen Catherine Howard was sentenced to death.[1]

Anne was maid of honour to Queen Mary I. On 11 June 1554 Robert Swyfte reported her marriage to Sir Walter Hungerford in a letter to Francis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury, as having taken place "on Thursday which day the Queen shewed herself very pleasant, commanding all mirth and pastime".[3] There were two children of the marriage, who both died without issue.[4][3]

Anne died before 1558 when Sir Walter—with the permission of Mary—married Anne Dormer.[5]

References in popular culture[edit]

Anne Bassett is the basis of the character Nan Bassett in Kate Emerson's novel, "Secrets of the Tudor Court: Between Two Queens".,[6] as well as E. Knight's "My Lady Viper".