English ship Mary Willoughby

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Tudor Ensign 1485-1603.svgEngland
Name: Mary Willoughby
In service: Listed from 1535
  • By the Scots in 1536
  • Recaptured in 1547
Fate: Sold in 1573
Name: Mary Willoughby
Acquired: 1536
In service: 1536
Captured: 1547
Fate: returned to English navy
General characteristics
Tons burthen:
  • 140 bm
  • 160 bm (from 1551)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 146 sailors 14 gunners
Armament: in 1548; a serpentine; 3 port pieces; 4 slings; a quarter sling; 13 bases; a hagbut.

Mary Willoughby was a ship of the English Tudor navy. She appears in the navy lists from 1535,[1] during the reign of Henry VIII. She was named after Maria Willoughby, a lady-in-waiting and close friend of Catherine of Aragon. The ship was taken by the Scots in 1536 and was included in the Royal Scots Navy, The English recaptured her in 1547. The ship was rebuilt in 1551,[2] increasing in size from 140 bm to 160 bm.

Scottish service[edit]

Mary Willoughby was used by James V in his voyages to the Isles. The ship had major re-fit between November 1539 and June 1540, by Florence Cornetoun costing £2566-18s-8d Scots.[3] Cardinal Beaton paid £6 for painting her in July 1541.[4] In December 1542, Mary Willoughby, Salamander and Lion blockaded a London merchant ship called Antony of Bruges in a creek on the coast of Brittany. Willoughby fired on Anthony, and the crew abandoned ship. The French authority at "Poldavy Haven" accepted a Scottish warrant shown to them by her Captain, named Kerr.[5]

War of the Rough Wooing[edit]

An English spy Thomas Forster saw Mary Willoughby "coming in" at Leith in July 1545 with six other ships bringing wine, brass field guns and arquebuses from France. They had passed by the Irish seas.[6] In March 1547 Mary Willoughby and another Scottish ship, reportedly Great Spaniard of 200 tons, were blockading the New Haven by Dieppe.[7] William Patten believed that Mary Willoughby was captured on the Forth near Blackness Castle by Edward Clinton on 15 September 1547.[8]

Later English service[edit]

The armaments of Mary Willoughby were listed in an inventory of 1 January 1548. The cannon included; a serpentine; 3 port pieces; 4 slings; a quarter sling; 9 double bases and 4 single bases; and a hagbut. Handarms included 12 bills, 7 moorish pikes, and three spears. There were 146 crew with 14 gunners.[9] After re-construction in 1551, in August 1557 the ship was one of a fleet of 12 that unsuccessfully assaulted the town of Kirkwall on Orkney, landing troops and six field guns on Orkney to attack the castle of Kirkwall, St. Magnus Cathedral and the Bishop's Palace. Seven other ships of the fleet were royal, which included New Bark, Minion, Henry, Solomon, Bull, Tiger, Greyhound, and Gabriel.[10] Veteran ships of the Kirkwall raid came to the aid of the Scottish Protestants at the Siege of Leith in January 1560, including Mary Willoughby, all under the command of Willam Winter.[11]

Mary Willoughby was sold in 1573.


  1. ^ http://rulebritannia.pbworks.com/List-of-ships-by-reigning
  2. ^ J. G. Nichols, The Diary of Henry Machyn: Citizen and Merchant-Taylor of London 1550-1563, pp. 313-323
  3. ^ Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, vol. 7, (1907), 31.
  4. ^ Hannay, R. K., ed., Rentale Sancti Andree(SHS: Edinburgh, 1913), p. 123.
  5. ^ Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 18 part 1 (London, 1901), no. 91.
  6. ^ State Papers Henry VIII, vol. 5 part 4 continued (London, 1836), pp. 449-50, 466.
  7. ^ Calendar State Papers Foreign Edward VI (London, 1861), pp. 10, 322.
  8. ^ Patten, William, The Expedition into Scotland, 1547 (London, 1548), reprinted in Tudor Tracts (London, 1903), pp. 138, 140
  9. ^ Starkey, David, ed., The Inventory of Henry VIII, vol. 1 (Society of Antiquaries, 1998), pp. 145, 157.
  10. ^ Strype, John, Ecclesiastical Memorials, vol. 3 part 2 (London, 1822), pp. 86-87
  11. ^ Calendar State Papers Scotland, vol.1 (London, 1898) p. 294, Admiral Winter's Journal


  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8.

External links[edit]