Elizabeth Danvers

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Elizabeth Neville
Lady Elizabeth Carey tomb.jpg
Monument to Elizabeth Neville in St Michael's Church, Stowe, Northamptonshire
Noble familyHouse of Neville
Spouse(s)Sir John Danvers
IssueSir Charles Danvers
Henry Danvers, 1st Earl of Danby
Sir John Danvers
Lucy Danvers
Elizabeth Danvers
Eleanor Danvers
Anne Danvers
Catherine Danvers
Mary Danvers
Dorothy Danvers
FatherJohn Neville, 4th Baron Latimer
MotherLucy Somerset

Elizabeth Danvers née Neville, later Elizabeth Carey by remarriage (1545/50–1630) was an English noblewoman. She was the mother of Sir Charles Danvers, executed in 1601 for his part in the rebellion of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and of Sir John Danvers, one of the commissioners who tried King Charles I and signed the King's death warrant.


Elizabeth Neville, born between 1545 and 1550, was the youngest daughter of John Neville, 4th Baron Latimer, and Lucy Somerset, the daughter of Henry Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester, by his second wife, Elizabeth Browne, the daughter of Sir Anthony Browne, Lieutenant of Calais, by his second wife, Lucy Neville, daughter of John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu. She had three elder sisters:[1]


The antiquarian and biographer, John Aubrey, whose ancestor she was,[2] describes her in his Brief Lives (1693), stating that she had Chaucer at her fingers' ends:[3]

Elizabeth Danvers, his mother, an Italian, prodigeous parts for a Woman. I have heard my father’s mother say that she had Chaucer at her fingers' ends. A great Politician; great Witt and spirit, but revengeful: knew how to manage her estate as well as any man; understood Jewels as well as any Jeweller. Very Beautiful, but only short-sighted. To obtain Pardons for her Sonnes she maryed Sir Edmund Carey, cosen-german to Queen Elizabeth, but kept him to hard meate.

Elizabeth married firstly, Sir John Danvers (1540 – 10 December 1594) of Dauntsey, Wiltshire, the son of Sylvester Danvers (1518–1549?) and his first wife, Elizabeth Mordaunt, second daughter of John Mordaunt, 1st Baron Mordaunt of Turvey in Bedfordshire, and the grandson of Thomas Danvers (d.1532) and Margaret Courtenay, the youngest daughter of Sir William Courtenay (1451–1512) of Powderham Castle, Devon, by Cecily Cheney, the daughter of Sir John Cheney of Pincourt.[4]

Elizabeth Neville and Sir John Danvers had three sons and seven daughters:[5]

On 4 October 1594 Lady Danvers' second son, Henry Danvers, killed Henry Long, the younger brother of Sir Walter Long, in the course of a local feud. Accounts of the murder conflict in some details. According to Lady Danvers' version of events, her husband, Sir John Danvers, in his capacity as a justice of the peace, had learned of two robberies and a murder committed by the servants of Sir Walter Long. Sir Walter, his brothers and his followers had then turned against Danvers, and members of the Long faction had murdered one of Sir John Danvers' men and committed a number of other outrages. Letters were exchanged between members of the Danvers and Long families, and in a letter to Sir Charles Danvers, Henry Long threatened to whip him, and called him 'Asse, Puppie, ffoole & Boy'. Sir Charles and others sought out Henry Long at an 'ordinary' or inn in Corsham, and cudgelled him, but found the door locked when they were ready to leave. Long drew his sword against Sir Charles, dangerously wounding him, and Sir Henry Danvers shot Long. The Danvers brothers fled to Whitley Lodge near Titchfield Abbey in Hampshire, where their friend, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, sheltered them. They were outlawed, and eventually escaped to the continent where they took refuge at the court of King Henri IV.[7]

The disaster which had befallen his sons may have hastened the death of Sir John Danvers, who died two months later, on 19 December 1594, and was buried in Dauntsey church. He is commemorated in verses composed by his relative by marriage, the poet George Herbert, after viewing his portrait:[8]

Passe not by.

Search and you may
Find a treasure
Worth your stay.
What makes a Danvers
Would you find?
In a fayre bodie
A fayre mind.
Sir John Danvers' earthly part
Here is copied out by art;
But his heavenly and divine,

In his progenie doth shine....

In 1598 the widowed Lady Danvers married Sir Edmund Carey (c.1557 – 12 September 1637), son of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth. It was generally considered she did so in order to obtain a pardon for her sons. Other efforts were made on their behalf as well, and at the end of June 1598 Queen Elizabeth relented, and pardoned both the Danvers brothers on condition that they pay Sir Walter Long £1500 damages for the murder of his brother. On 30 August 1598 John Chamberlain noted that Sir Charles and Sir Henry Danvers had arrived in London.[9]

In February 1601, Sir Charles Danvers took part in Essex' short-lived rebellion, and was convicted of treason. He offered to pay £10,000 for his life, but to no avail. He was beheaded on Tower Hill on 18 March 1601.[10]

After Essex's execution, Sir Henry Danvers served with the English forces in Ireland under Charles Blount, 8th Baron Mountjoy, and on 21 July 1603, shortly after his accession, King James I created him Baron Danvers of Dauntsey 'for his valiant service at Kinsale in Ireland'. In 1604 the verdict of outlawry against the Danvers brothers was reversed.[11]

Lady Carey's third son, Sir John Danvers, was a regicide after the First English Civil War.

Lady Carey died in 1630, aged 84, and was buried under an altar tomb in St. Michael’s Church at Church Stowe in Stowe Nine Churches, Northamptonshire. The monument by Nicholas Stone, master mason to King James I, was installed about 1620 during her lifetime, and is said to be 'one of the finest pieces of sculpture of the age'.[12]


  1. ^ Richardson IV 2011, pp. 51–2; Cokayne 1929, pp. 484–5.
  2. ^ Emerson 1984.
  3. ^ Dick 1999, p. 78.
  4. ^ Macnamara 1895, pp. 102, 278, 282–4.
  5. ^ Macnamara 1895, pp. 285–95.
  6. ^ Macnamara erroneously states she was the daughter of Sir Robert Newport; Macnamara 1895, p. 293.
  7. ^ Akrigg 1968, pp. 41–5; Hammer 2004; Macnamara 1895, pp. 288–91.
  8. ^ Macnamara 1895, pp. 284–5.
  9. ^ Akrigg 1968, p. 70; Hammer 2004.
  10. ^ Akrigg 1968, pp. 111–12, 128.
  11. ^ McGurk 2004.
  12. ^ Macnamara 1895, p. 286.


  • Akrigg, G.P.V. (1968). Shakespeare and the Earl of Southampton. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Cokayne, George Edward (1929). The Complete Peerage edited by Vicary Gibbs. Vol. VII. London: St Catherine Press.
  • Dick, Oliver Lawson, ed. (1999). Aubrey's Brief Lives. Jaffrey, New Hampshire: David R. Godine. ISBN 9781567920635.
  • Emerson, Kathy Lynn. "A Who's Who of Tudor Women:N Elizabeth Neville". Archived from the original on 22 June 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  • Emerson, Kathy Lynn (1984). Wives and Daughters: The Women of Sixteenth Century England. Whitston Publishing. ISBN 9780878752461. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  • Hammer, Paul E.J. (2004). Danvers, Sir Charles (c.1568–1601). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 14 December 2012. (subscription required)
  • Macnamara, F.N. (1895). Memorials of the Danvers Family (of Dauntsey and Culworth). London: Hardy & Page. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  • McGurk, J.J.N. (2004). Danvers, Henry, earl of Danby (1573–1644). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 14 December 2012. (subscription required)
  • Reilly, Emily Georgiana Susanna, comp. (1839). Historical Anecdotes of the Families of the Boleynes, Careys, Mordaunts, Hamiltons, and Jocelyns (rev ed.). Dublin: R.T. White. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. Vol. IV (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1460992709

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