Sunday, 31 August 2014

Elizabeth Southwell and Barentyne Moleyns

Elizabeth Southwell (1566-1622), the daughter of Thomas Southwell (d.1567) and his third wife Nazareth Newton (1541-83), was a maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth I. 

In 1591 Elizabeth was a mistress of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex who was the queen's favourite, and gave birth to his son Walter Devereux (1591-1641). Walter was sent to be raised by his paternal grandmother Lettice Dudley in Drayton Bassett in Staffordshire. It was only in June 1595 that Queen Elizabeth discovered that Essex was the father of Walter when he made provision for his son in his Will. Up until this time Thomas Vavasour had admitted to being the boy's father and had taken the punishment, which was imprisonment, for having an affair with an attendant of the queen. Queen Elizabeth was furious as not only had the child been fathered by her favourite, but she had been lied to by all parties involved for four years.

Elizabeth seems to have been easily forgiven by the queen and she returned to court. She remained unmarried until the suit of Sir Barentyne Moleyns which was in progress by 1597. Barentyne Moleyns (b.1572) was the son of Michael Moleyns (d.1615) and Frances Huddleston, who was the daughter of Anthony Huddleston (b.1518) and Mary Barrentyne. At the age of thirteen he had attended St John's College, Oxford University, beginning in March 1584-5. By the time of his marital suit, Moleyns was almost blind, had a repulsive nasal condition and was well known for his ugliness; he also had a number of serious wounds which he received in military service abroad to the queen. Upon the death of his father in 1615, Barentyne inherited the manors of Clapcot and Rush Court, but was still paying off fines incurred by his father as late as 1627.

Moleyns entry in Simon Forman's diary, 22 March 1598

On the 22nd March 1598 at 10:45am, Moleyns visited the astrologer Simon Forman to consult him on whether his engagement with Elizabeth would hold. Moleyns was a regular visitor to Forman; he paid him 19 visits between 1597-9 to consult him concerning his ailments as well as his marital issues, due to the fact that as well as an astrologer he was also a physician. In April 1598, Moleyns was considering his options; he considered abandoning the match with Elizabeth if he could persuade another woman by the name of Mary Hampden to marry him. However, in June Moleyns went and obtained a marriage licence in order to marry Elizabeth, yet it appears she had changed her mind. 
Elizabeth did eventually marry Moleyns in 1598 after a long and tumultuous courtship. Elizabeth's father Thomas had stated in his Will that Elizabeth was to receive £1000 upon the event of her marriage.
Elizabeth and Barentyne had only one son together;
+ Michael Moleyns (b.1602)

Like his father before him, Michael Moleyns attended St John's College, Oxford University beginning in November 1616. He became MP for Wallingford in 1625. During the English Civil War, Michael sided with the monarchy.

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