On this day in 1588, my 14th great grandmother, Lettice Knollys Devereux Dudley, accompanied her second husband’s casket from their home at Kenilworth to the Beauchamp Chapel at St. Mary’s Church in Warwick. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a one-time paramour and favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, married Lettice without the Queen’s permission ten years prior when Lettice became pregnant. Though married in secret, her father witnessed the ceremony to make sure it couldn’t be denied later. They had flirted with each other for years, so much so that there were rumors Robert poisoned Lettice’s first husband.
Although she was the daughter of one of Queen Elizabeth I’s dearest friends, Katherine Carey Knollys, and devoted servants, Francis Knollys, the Queen never forgave Lettice. She did, however forgive Robert. Lettice loved to flaunt her position as his wife, and though Robert’s loose relationship with money left their estate in massive debt upon his death, Lettice commissioned an elaborate tomb with effigies of them both. She was buried alongside him when she died in 1634, having outlived three husbands and all of her children.