Elizabeth Darrell (courtier)

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Elizabeth Darrell
Born c. 1513
Died 1556 (aged 42–43)
Occupation Mistress to poet Sir Thomas Wyatt
Spouse(s) Robert Stroud
Partner(s) Sir Thomas Wyatt
Children Henry
Parent(s) Sir Edward Darrell
Jane Croft

Elizabeth Darrell (born c. 1513 – c. 1556 ) was the long-term mistress and muse of Sir Thomas Wyatt. They had one surviving child, Francis.[1] Wyatt was married to Elizabeth Brooke, Lady Wyatt whom he had accused of committing adultery, resulting in their separation.[1] She was later rumoured to have been involved with Henry VIII.

Early years[edit]

Elizabeth Darrell (sometimes spelt Darell) was the daughter of Sir Edward Darrell of Littlecote, Wiltshire and his wife Jane Croft.[1] Sir Edward was Chamberlain to Catherine of Aragon. Elizabeth was a servant of the Marchioness of Dorset and then afterward, on an unknown date, she became maid of honour to Queen Catherine.[1] Possibly out of loyalty to Katherine or due to her dislike of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth refused to take the Oath of Supremacy. When Catherine of Aragon died in January 1536, she left Elizabeth a gift of £200 for her future marriage.[2]

Thomas Wyatt[edit]

Around the year 1537, Elizabeth became the mistress of the poet and cousin of the late queen Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503 – 11 October 1542). He was legally married to Elizabeth Brooke, the mother of his son Thomas, although they were separated. Elizabeth bore Sir Thomas three sons:[2]

  • Henry, who died in early infancy
  • Francis, born in 1541 and took the surname of Darrell[2][3]
  • Edward, whose date of birth is unknown. He may have been born after his father's death.

The identity of the Edward Wyatt, who was later executed for his part in the Wyatt's Rebellion of 1554, led by Sir Thomas Wyatt, the younger is unclear. Some sources claim that he was the illegitimate son of Thomas Wyatt the elder and Elizabeth Darrell, while others insist that he was son of Thomas Wyatt the younger. Kenneth Muir in 'The Life and Letters of Sir Thomas Wyatt' , asserts that Elizabeth Darrell was the mistress of Sir Thomas Wyatt the elder and quotes various state papers to support this view.[4] Only Francis is mentioned in Thomas Wyatt the elder's will, although it is possible that Edward may have been born after his father's death.[2] Sir Thomas Wyatt the elder is known to have had an illegitimate daughter, however, the identity of the mother is unknown.[5]

Sir Thomas left Elizabeth properties in Dorset. Sir Thomas the Younger transferred Tarrant, Kent to Francis Wyatt in 1542 (or, according to other sources, to Elizabeth in 1544). With the attainder of Sir Thomas the Younger in 1554, those properties held by Elizabeth that would have gone to him on her death, went to the Crown instead. She was in possession of Tintinhull in 1547 but it was occupied by the Crown's tenant, Sir William Petre, in 1556, and papers relating to the lease suggest that Elizabeth had died. The parsonage at Stoke, Somerset was leased to Elizabeth in 1548 and around 1554, at about the same time Mary I seems to have paid Elizabeth a legacy left to her by Queen Catherine of Aragon, Elizabeth married Robert Strode[2]

In popular culture[edit]

Canadian actress Krystin Pellerin portrayed Darrell in several episodes of The Tudors second season. Her fate is however dramatically altered. Instead of returning to royal service after the death of her mistress, as is historically accurate, Darrell hangs herself from the beams of her mistress's former home. The show is correct however in portraying Darrell's and Wyatt's affair. This is the only known portrayal of Elizabeth Darrell in popular culture.


  1. ^ a b c d Burrow 2004
  2. ^ a b c d e "A Who’s Who of Tudor Women". kateemersonhistoricals.com. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Shulman 2012, p. 350
  4. ^ Muir 1963
  5. ^ Miller 1982


  • "A Who's Who of Tudor Women". Kateemersonhistoricals.com. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  • Burrow, Colin (2004). "Wyatt, Sir Thomas (c.1503-1542)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. 
  • Miller, Helen (1982). "WYATT, Sir Thomas I (by 1504-42), of Allington Castle, Kent.". In Bindoff, S. T., ed. The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558. Members. Historyofparliamentonline.org. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  • Muir, Kenneth (1963), The Life and Letters of Sir Thomas Wyatt (Liverpool English texts and studies), LIVERPOOL: Liverpool University Press, ISBN 978-0-14-042227-6 
  • Shulman, Nicola (2012). Graven With Diamonds: The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt: Courtier, Poet, Assassin, Spy in the Court of Henry VIII (Paperback). Short Books. ISBN 9781780720883. 
  • Thomson, Patricia (1964). Sir Thomas Wyatt and His Background. London: Routledge. 

External links[edit]