Xmera / Wives of the Berkeleys

The Wives of the Berkeleys
Families and Marriage in Tudor and Stuart England

Jan Broadway

ISBN 9780956742810

In the spring of 1533 Anne Savage, one of Anne Boleyn's gentlewomen, married the extremely eligible Thomas, lord Berkeley. How, the gossips wondered, had a minor lady of the court, without a fortune or acknowledged beauty, bagged such a prize as her husband? That is the question with which this account of the history of the Berkeley family from a female perspective starts.

Thanks to John Smyth's Lives of the Berkeleys, written in the early seventeenth century, we know more about the comparatively obscure noble family he served than perhaps any other non-royal dynasty. Introduced into the Berkeleys household as a schoolboy, Smyth wrote his account of the family with the benefit of over forty years of intimacy with them. While the history of the medieval lords drew on his deep knowledge of the archival sources, his portrait of more recent generations drew on his own knowledge and that of fellow servants.

Smyth's history is strictly patrilineal, structured around the life of each lord in sequence and concerning himself with the wives and children only within the context of the family. From this perspective Smyth criticised the last four generations of wives, accusing them of pursuing their own ends in a way that had been detrimental to the interests of the family. In the Wives of the Berkeleys the history of these four generations from the reign of Henry VIII to the civil war are considered in a more holistic way, placing the lords of Berkeley, their wives and their children within a wider multi-dimensional kinship network. This approach takes into account the wider concerns of the wives criticised by Smyth, looking beyond the male succession to the barony to encompass younger sons and daughters, children from previous marriages, siblings, nieces and nephews, and cousins.

Although the Berkeleys are inextricably linked to Gloucestershire and their Norman castle, for the period covered by this book they predominantly lived elsewhere. During the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary their seat was at Yate, but in Elizabeth's reign they moved to Caludon in Warwickshire and by the Restoration their main residence was in Surrey. The wider perspective adopted by this book helps to make clear the reasons for their peregrination.

The Wives of the Berkeleys
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The Berkeley Marriages 1533-1646

Thomas, lord BerkeleyMary Hastings, daughter of the Earl of Huntingdon
Anne, daughter of Sir John Savage, a disgraced Cheshire gentlemanElizabeth married Thomas Butler, earl of Ormond
Henry, lord BerkeleyKatherine Howard, daughter of the Earl of Surrey Mary married Sir John Zouch of Codnor, Derbys.
Frances married Sir George Shirley of Staunton Harold, Leics.
Jane, daughter of Sir Michael Stanhope and widow of Sir Roger Townshend
Sir Thomas BerkeleyElizabeth Carey, daughter of Lord HunsdonTheophila married Sir Robert Coke, son of the jurist Sir Edward Coke
George, lord BerkeleyElizabeth, daughter of Sir Michael Stanhope &
niece of Jane Stanhope/Townshend/Berkeley
Elizabeth married Edward Coke, nephew of her aunt's husband.
George, later earl of BerkeleyElizabeth, daughter of John Massingberd, a London merchant