Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The Brandon sisters

Mary Brandon.jpg
Mary Brandon drawn by Hans Holbein

Charles Brandon and his second wife Anne Browne had two daughters; Anne, born in 1507, and Mary Brandon, born on the 2nd June 1510. 
In 1503 Charles had declared to fellow courtier Walter Devereux that "he was in love and resorted muche to the company of Anne Browne". While Brandon and Browne had been engaged, and she was expecting their first child, Brandon had abandoned Anne for another woman. This other woman was the older aunt of Anne Browne, Margaret Mortimer nee Neville, who was a wealthy widow, and she and Brandon soon were married by the 7th February 1507. However, due to his precontract of marriage with Anne, the marriage with Margaret Neville was declared null and void and Brandon was sent back to Anne and the two were married in 1508. 
Anne Browne died in 1511.
In December 1513 Charles Brandon had secured for his eldest daughter Anne a position in the royal household of Archduchess Margaret of Savoy in the Netherlands. It was then that Charles Brandon was called to France to escort the Princess Mary Rose Tudor to her wedding with the King of France, however due to the French King's death so soon after the wedding, Brandon was to bring the Dowager Queen of France back to England. During this period Charles Brandon and the Tudor Princess had fallen in love and returned to England as man and wife. Due to Mary's brother, King Henry VIII, being so infuriated by this wedding haven taken place, the newlyweds were banished from the royal court and sent to live on Brandon's estates in the country. In May 1515 Mary had Charles bring his two elder daughters to live with them - despite his own wishes that Anne remain in the Archduchess' household - at Westhorpe Hall where they would live, along with the three children that Mary and Charles would have together - Henry, Frances and Eleanor. In 1533 when their stepmother Mary Tudor died, despite not being her biological children at the funeral the two girls pushed their way to the front of the funeral cortege ahead of their half siblings, Mary Tudor's children, just before her coffin was lowered into the crypt - a position reserved for the funeral's chief mourner. 

In 1525 Anne Brandon was married to Edward Grey, Baron of Powys, however this marriage was not a successful one as both partners were unhappy and sought love elsewhere. Edward Grey took a woman called Jane Orwell as his mistress and had four illegitimate children with her - Edward, Anne, Jane and Grey. In 1537 Anne officially left Edward and went to live with her lover Randal Haworth. Charles Brandon with the help of Thomas Cromwell forced Edward Grey to support Anne financially, giving her £100 a year. Charles also asked Cromwell to help him discipline Anne so that she would "live after such an honest sort as shall be to her honour and mine". In 1540 Edward Grey petitioned the Privy Council to punish Anne for adultery as well as conspiring to kill him with her lover Randal Haworth; however this request was dismissed. Anne continued to live with her lover, however her father was not pleased with her scandalous behaviour and she was not included in his will. When Edward Grey finally died on the 2nd July 1551, Anne then married Randal Haworth before January 1552. 
Anne caused yet more scandal a few years later between 1545 and 1551 when she conspired with Thomas Beaumont; a judge in the Court of Chancery, to obtain lands with forged documents - that were supposedly signed by Anne's late father - and then the land was given to Beaumont; which defrauded Henry Grey, her half-sister Frances' first husband, as he had succeeded their father Charles Brandon as the Duke of Suffolk. When the conspiracy was revealed in 1552 the judge involved was arrested but Anne went unpunished. Due to the fact that Anne faced no consequences for this conspiracy it is entirely possible that Anne had not been aware of the fraud and simply believed that Beaumont was going to regain some of her rightful inheritance.
In 1553 Anne established her claim to a fourth part of her late father's estate despite being left out of his will. It is possible that Anne had been left out of her father's will due to the argument that she had been illegitimate - Charles Brandon's marital life had been far from simple, at one time requiring a papal bull to confirm his marriage and divorce.
In 1556-8 the couple sued Adrian Stokes and his wife, Anne's sister Frances, in the Chancery Court over lands - two monastery sites and a manor in Warwickshire - that had previously belonged to their father Charles Brandon.
Anne died in 1558.
The Last Will and Testament of Anne Brandon;
“I, Anne Lady Powes, one of the daughters and coheirs of the high and mighty Prince Charles, late Duke of Suffolk, by the license, assent, and consent of my loving husband, Randall Havworth Esq., do make this my last will and testament, being in perfect mind and memory, in this manner and form following. First, I do bequeath my soul unto Almighty God, beseeching him of his holy glory to forgive me all my trespasses in this world by me done and committed against his Majesty. And I repent me and lament me therefore, and am hartily sorry from the bottom of my heart, trusting verily in thy promises, good Lord, to be one of the partakers of thy blessed presence in heaven, and to have a saved soul; most humbly beseeching thee, good Lord, for pity and mercy sake, to redress my tedious, long, and wonderful sutes, pains, sorrows, and troubles, and that they may be a part of penance for my sins, so that with my said pains, wrongs, and grievous troubles being patiently taken for thy name sake may be to the salvation of my soul, bought with thy precious blood. Amen. And all the whole world, both poor and rich, that ever I have offended, I ask forgiveness, and also forgive all creatures that ever offended me.” 

In 1524 Mary was married to Thomas Stanley, Baron Monteagle (1507-1560), with Charles Brandon giving the couple a gift of jewels valuing over five hundred pounds, and together they had six children; William (1527-1581), Francis, Charles, Elizabeth, Anne and Margaret.
In 1538 her husband complained to Thomas Cromwell about her bad behaviour but nothing came from the allegations.
Charles Brandon had to intervene in his daughter's marriage due to Thomas Stanley's abuse of his wife and also his financial failings. Thomas owed Charles a lot of money, but Charles agreed to cancel the debts as long as he promised to abide by the rules that Charles set down for his household and estates, in addition Thomas also promised to "honestly handle and entreat the said lady Mary as a noble man ought to do his wife, unless there be a great default in the lady Mary and so affirmed by the council of the lord Monteagle".
During the 1530's Mary Brandon was almost constantly at court, and was a particular favourite of Queen Jane Seymour during the time as her lady in waiting, as seen by Queen Jane making a gift of jewelry to Mary.
Mary died in 1540 or 1544.

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