Family Group Sheet
Family Group Sheet
NameSir Francis KNOLLYS
Birth1514
Death1596
SpouseCatherine CAREY
Birth1524
Death1568
FatherSir Willam CAREY (1500-1528)
MotherMary BOLEYN (1499-1543)
Children
Birth1543
Death1634
Notes for Sir Francis KNOLLYS
Sir Francis Knollys (c.1511 – 19 July 1596) of Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire, KG (c. 1514 – 19 July 1596) was a courtier in the service of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I, and was a member of parliament for a number of constituencies.
Contents [hide]

Early appointments[edit]

Francis Knollys was born 1511, the elder son of Robert Knollys (d. 1520/1) and Lettice Peniston (d. 1557/8), daughter of Sir Thomas Peniston of Hawridge, Buckinghamshire, henchman to Henry VIII.[1]

He appears to have received some education at the Oxford. He married Katherine Carey. Henry VIII extended to him the favour that he had shown to his father, and secured to him in fee the estate of Rotherfield Greys in 1538. Acts of parliament in 1540–41 and in 1545–46 attested this grant, making his wife in the second act joint tenant with him. At the same time Francis became one of the gentlemen-pensioners at court, and in 1539 attended Anne of Cleves on her arrival in England. In 1542 he entered the House of Commons for the first time as member for Horsham.[2]

At the beginning of Edward VI's reign he accompanied the English army to Scotland, and was knighted by the commander-in-chief, the Duke of Somerset, at the camp at Roxburgh on 28 September 1547.[2]

Knollys's strong Protestant convictions recommended him to the young king and to his sister the Princess Elizabeth, and he spent much time at court, taking a prominent part not only in tournaments there, but also in religious discussion. On 25 November 1551 he was present at Sir William Cecil's house, at a conference between several Catholics and Protestants respecting the corporeal presence in the Sacrament. About the same date he was granted the manors of Caversham in Oxfordshire (now Berkshire) and Cholsey in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire). At the end of 1552 he visited Ireland on public business.[2]
Mary I of England and exile[edit]

The accession of Mary in 1553 darkened Knollys's prospects. His religious opinions placed him in opposition to the government, and he deemed it prudent to cross to Germany. On his departure the Princess Elizabeth wrote to his wife a sympathetic note, expressing a wish that they would soon be able to return in safety. Knollys first took up his residence in Frankfurt, where he was admitted a church-member on 21 December 1557, but afterwards removed to Strasburg. According to Fuller, he 'bountifully communicated to the necessities' of his fellow-exiles in Germany, and at Strasburg he seems to have been on intimate terms with John Jewel and Peter Martyr.[2]
Before Mary's death he returned to England, and as a man 'of assured understanding and truth, and well affected to the protestant religion,’ he was admitted to Elizabeth's privy council in December 1558. He was soon afterwards made Vice-Chamberlain of the Household and captain of the halberdiers, while his wife – a first cousin of Elizabeth – became a woman of the queen's privy chamber. In 1560 Knollys's wife and son Robert were granted for their lives the manor of Taunton, part of the property of the see of Winchester.[2]

Member of Parliament & other offices

In 1559 Knollys was chosen MP for Arundel and in 1562 knight of the shire for Oxfordshire.[3] He was appointed chief steward of Oxford in Feb 1564 until 1592. In 1572 he was re-elected member for Oxfordshire, and sat for that constituency until his death. Throughout his parliamentary career he was a frequent spokesman for the government on questions of general politics, but in ecclesiastical matters he preserved as a zealous puritan an independent attitude.[2]

Knollys's friendship with the queen and Cecil led to his employment in many state offices. In 1563 he was governor of Portsmouth, and was much harassed in August by the difficulties of supplying the needs in men and money of the Earl of Warwick, who was engaged on his disastrous expedition to Le Havre. In April 1566 he was sent to Ireland to control the expenditure of Sir Henry Sidney, the lord deputy, who was trying to repress the rebellion of Shane O'Neill, and was much hampered by the interference of court factions at home; but Knollys found himself compelled, contrary to Elizabeth's wish, to approve Sidney's plans. It was, he explained, out of the question to conduct the campaign against the Irish rebels on strictly economical lines. In August 1564 he accompanied the queen to Cambridge, and was created MA Two years later he went to Oxford, also with his sovereign, and received a like distinction there. In the same year he was appointed treasurer of the queen's chamber[2] and in 1570 promoted to Treasurer of the Household.

Mary, Queen of Scots[edit]

In May 1568 Mary, Queen of Scots, fled to England, and flung herself on Elizabeth's protection. She had found refuge in Carlisle Castle, and the delicate duty of taking charge of the fugitive was entrusted jointly to Knollys and to Henry Scrope, 9th Baron Scrope of Bolton. On 28 May Knollys arrived at the castle, and was admitted to Mary's presence. At his first interview he was conscious of Mary's powerful fascination. But to her requests for an interview with Elizabeth, and for help to regain her throne, he returned the evasive answers which Elizabeth's advisers had suggested to him, and he frankly drew her attention to the suspicions in which Darnley's murder involved her.[2]

A month passed, and no decision was reached in London respecting Mary's future. On 13 July Knollys contrived to remove her, despite 'her tragical demonstrations,’ to Bolton Castle, the seat of Lord Scrope, where he tried to amuse her by teaching her to write and speak English. Knollys's position grew more and more distasteful, and writing on 16 July to Cecil, whom he kept well informed of Mary's conversation and conduct, he angrily demanded his recall. But while lamenting his occupation, Knollys conscientiously endeavoured to convert his prisoner to his puritanic views, and she read the English prayer-book under his guidance. In his discussions with her he commended so unreservedly the doctrines and forms of Geneva that Elizabeth, on learning his line of argument, sent him a sharp reprimand. Knollys, writing to Cecil in self-defence, described how contentedly Mary accepted his plain speaking on religious topics. Mary made in fact every effort to maintain good relations with him. Late in August she gave him a present for his wife, desired his wife's acquaintance, and wrote to him a very friendly note, her first attempt in English composition.[2]

In October, when schemes for marrying Mary to an English nobleman were under consideration, Knollys proposed that his wife's nephew, George Carey, might prove a suitable match. In November the inquiry into Mary's misdeeds which had begun at York, was reopened at Westminster, and Knollys pointed out that he needed a larger company of retainers to keep his prisoner safe from a possible attempt at rescue. In December he was directed by Elizabeth to induce Mary to assent to her abdication of the Scottish throne. In January 1569 he plainly told Elizabeth that, in declining to allow Mary either to be condemned or to be acquitted on the charges brought against her, she was inviting perils which were likely to overwhelm her, and entreated her to leave the decision of Mary's fate to her well-tried councillors. On 20 January orders arrived at Bolton to transfer Mary to Tutbury, where the Earl of Shrewsbury was to take charge of her. Against the removal the Scottish queen protested in a pathetic note to Knollys, intended for Elizabeth's eye, but next day she was forced to leave Bolton, and Knollys remained with her at Tutbury till 3 February. His wife's death then called him home. Mary blamed Elizabeth for the fatal termination of Lady Knollys's illness, attributing it to her husband's enforced absence in the north.[2]

Relations with Elizabeth I[edit]

In April 1571 Knollys strongly supported the retrospective clauses of the bill for the better protection of Queen Elizabeth, by which any person who had previously put forward a claim to the throne was adjudged guilty of high treason. Next year he was appointed treasurer of the royal household, and he entertained Elizabeth at Abbey House in Reading [1], where he often resided by permission of the crown. The office of treasurer he retained till his death.[2]

Although Knollys was invariably on good terms personally with his sovereign, he never concealed his distrust of her statesmanship. Her unwillingness to take 'safe counsel', her apparent readiness to encourage parasites and flatterers, whom he called 'King Richard the Second's men', was, he boldly pointed out, responsible for most of her dangers and difficulties. In July 1578 he repeated his warnings in a long letter, and begged her to adopt straightforward measures so as to avert such disasters as the conquest of the Low Countries by Spain, the revolt of Scotland to France and Mary Stuart, and the growth of papists in England. He did not oppose the first proposals for the queen's marriage with Alençon which were made in 1579, but during the negotiations he showed reluctance to accept the scheme, and Elizabeth threatened that 'his zeal for religion would cost him dear'.[2]

In December 1581 he attended the Jesuit Campion's execution, and asked him on the scaffold whether he renounced the pope. He was a commissioner for the trials of Parry the Jesuit in 1585, of Anthony Babington and his fellow-conspirators, whom he tried to argue into Protestantism, in 1586, and of Queen Mary at Fotheringay in the same year. He urged Mary's immediate execution in 1587 both in parliament and in the council. In April 1589 he was a commissioner for the trial of Philip Howard, earl of Arundel. On 16 December 1584 he introduced into the House of Commons the bill legalising a national association to protect the queen from assassination. In 1585 he offered to contribute £100 for seven years towards the expenses of the war for the defence of the Low Countries, and renewed the offer, which was not accepted, in July 1586. In 1588–9 he was placed in command of the land forces of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire which had been called together to resist the Spanish Armada. Knollys was interested in the voyages of Frobisher and Drake, and took shares in the first and second Cathay expeditions.[2]

Puritanism[edit]

Knollys never wavered in his consistent championship of the puritans. In May 1574 he joined Bishop Grindal, Sir Walter Mildmay, and Sir Thomas Smith in a letter to Parkhurst, Bishop of Norwich, arguing in favour of the religious exercises known as 'prophesyings'. But he was zealous in opposition to heresy, and in September 1581 he begged Burghley and Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester to repress such 'anabaptisticall sectaries' as members of the 'Family of Love', 'who do serve the turn of the papists'. Writing to Whitgift, archbishop of Canterbury, 20 June 1584, he hotly condemned the archbishop's attempts to prosecute puritan preachers in the Court of High Commission as unjustly despotic, and treading 'the highway to the pope'. He supported Cartwright with equal vehemence. On 24 May 1584 he sent to Burghley a bitter attack on 'the undermining ambition and covetousness of some of our bishops', and on their persecutions of the puritans. Repeating his views in July 1586, he urged the banishment of all recusants and the exclusion from public offices of all who married recusants. In 1588 he charged Whitgift with endangering the queen's safety by his popish tyranny, and embodied his accusation in a series of articles which Whitgift characterised as a fond and scandalous syllogism.[2]

In the parliament of 1588–9 he vainly endeavoured to pass a bill against non-residence of the clergy and pluralities. In the course of the discussion he denounced the claims of the bishops 'to keep courts in their own name', and denied them any 'worldly pre-eminence'. This speech, 'related by himself' to Burghley, was published in 1608, together with a letter to Knollys from his friend, the puritan John Rainolds, in which Bishop Bancroft's sermon at St Paul's Cross (9 February 1588–9) was keenly criticised. The volume was entitled 'Informations, or a Protestation and a Treatise from Scotland … all suggesting the Usurpation of Papal Bishops'. Knollys's contribution reappeared as 'Speeches used in the parliament by Sir Francis Knoles', in William Stoughton's 'Assertion for True and Christian Church Policie' (London, 1642). Throughout 1589 and 1590 he was seeking, in correspondence with Burghley, to convince the latter of the impolicy of adopting Whitgift's theory of the divine right of bishops. On 9 January 1591 he told his correspondent that he marvelled 'how her Majestie can be persuaded that she is in as much danger of such as are called Purytanes as she is of the Papysts'. Finally, on 14 May 1591, he declared that he would prefer to retire from politics and political office rather than cease to express his hostility to the bishops' claims with full freedom.[2]
Domestic affairs and death[edit]

Knollys's domestic affairs at times caused him anxiety. In spite of his friendly relations with the Earl of Leicester, he did not approve the royal favourite's intrigues with his daughter, Lettice, widow of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, and he finally insisted on their marriage at Wanstead on 21 September 1578. The wayward temper of his grandson, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (son of his daughter Lettice by her first husband), was a source of trouble to him in his later years, and the queen seemed inclined to make him responsible for the youth's vagaries. Knollys was created KG in 1593 and died on 19 July 1596. He was buried at Rotherfield Greys, and an elaborate monument, with effigies of seven sons, six daughters, and his son William's wife, still stands in the church there.[2]
Issue[edit]

He married Catherine Carey, the daughter of Sir William Carey of Aldenham and Mary Boleyn in Hertfordshire on 26 April 1540. Sir Francis and Lady Knollys had a total of 15 children:
Mary Knollys (c. 1541[4] – 1593). She married Edward Stalker.
Sir Henry Knollys (c. 1542 – 1583). He was a member of parliament representing Shoreham, Sussex in 1562, Reading, Berkshire (1563–1572) and then Oxfordshire. Esquire of the Body to Elizabeth I. He was married to Margaret Cave (1549–1600), daughter of Sir Ambrose Cave and Margaret Willington. Their daughter Lettice Knollys (1583–1655) married before 19 June 1602 William Paget, 4th Baron Paget.
Lettice Knollys, Countess of Essex and of Leicester (8 November 1543 – 25 December 1634). She married first Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, secondly Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester and thirdly Sir Christopher Blount.
Lettice Knollys, Catherine's eldest daughter
Sir William Knollys, 1st Earl of Banbury, (c. 1544[5] – 25 May 1632). Member of Parliament for Tregony and Oxfordshire. He was married first to Dorothy Bray, who was 20 years his senior; and secondly to Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk and his second wife Catherine Knyvett.
Edward Knollys (1546–1580). He was a member of parliament for Oxford (1571–1575).
Sir Robert Knollys (1547[6]1619 or 1626[7]). Member of Parliament representing Reading, Berkshire (1572–1589), Brecknockshire (1589–1604), Abingdon, Oxfordshire (1604, 1624–1625) and finally Berkshire again (1626). He married Catherine Vaughan, daughter of Sir Rowland Vaughan, of Porthamel.
Richard Knollys (1548[8] – 21 August 1596). Member of Parliament representing first Wallingford (1584) and then Northampton (1588). Married Joan Heigham, daughter of John Heigham, of Gifford's Hall, Wickhambrook, Suffolk.
Elizabeth Knollys (15 June 1549 – c.1605). She married Sir Thomas Leighton of Feckenham, Worcester, son of John Leighton of Watlesburgh and Joyce Sutton, in 1578. Her husband served as Governor of Jersey and Guernsey.
Maud Knollys (c.1550[9] - 155?/6?), died young.
Sir Thomas Knollys (1558[10] - 1596). Better known for service in the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648). Governor of Ostend in 1586. Married Odelia de Morana, daughter of John de Morada, Marquess of Bergen.
Sir Francis Knollys "the Younger" (c. 1552[11] – 1648[12]). Privateer and admiral and Member of Parliament representing several constituencis from 1575 to his death in 1648. He married Lettice Barrett, daughter of John Barrett, of Hanham. Father-in-law of John Hampden.
Anne Knollys (19 July 1555 – 30 August 1608),[citation needed] who married Thomas West, 2nd Baron De La Warr,[13] by whom she had six sons and eight daughters, including Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr,[14] after whom the state of Delaware is named.
Catherine Knollys (21 October 1559 – 20 December 1620). Married first in October 1578[15] Gerald FitzGerald, Baron Offaly (son of Gerald FitzGerald, 11th Earl of Kildare and Mabel Browne) and secondly Sir Phillip Butler, of Watton Woodhall. She was the mother of Lettice Digby, 1st Baroness Offaly.
Cecily Knollys (c. 1560 - ?)[citation needed]. No known descendants.
Dudley Knollys (1562 - 156?/157?), died young.
Notes for Catherine CAREY
Catherine Carey, after her marriage Catherine Knollys and later Lady Knollys, pronounced "NOL-les" (c. 1524 – 15 January 1569), was chief Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth I, who was her first cousin.

Catherine's mother was Mary Boleyn, a mistress of Henry VIII before he courted and later married her sister Anne Boleyn, Henry's second Queen consort.

Catherine's husband was Sir Francis Knollys, with whom she had 14 children.

Biography

Catherine Carey was born in about 1524, the daughter of Sir William Carey of Aldenham in Hertfordshire, Gentleman of the Privy chamber and Esquire of the Body to Henry VIII, and his wife Mary Boleyn, who had once been a mistress of the king. She was Elizabeth I's first cousin. Some contemporaries also asserted that Catherine was an illegitimate child of the King which would make her Elizabeth's half sister. Although this was never acknowledged by the King, Catherine was given deference by the Court as she aged and came to resemble Henry.[1]

Katherine's mother, Mary Boleyn, was the sister of Anne Boleyn and a mistress of King Henry VIII of England.
Catherine was said to be a witness to the execution of her aunt, Anne Boleyn, in 1536.[2] But according to the biographer of Mary Boleyn, Alison Weir, claims that a young Catherine stayed overnight to entertain and distract her aunt Anne in the Tower the morning before the execution are not correct.

Catherine went on to become Maid of Honour to both Queens Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard. On 26 April 1540 she married Sir Francis Knollys.[3] Her husband was named a Knight of the Garter in 1593, although he had already been knighted in 1547. He was also Treasurer of the Royal Household. From the time of her marriage, Catherine became known as Mistress Knollys, and from 1547 as Lady Knollys. When not in London, the couple lived at Reading in Berkshire and Rotherfield Greys in Oxfordshire, although, as staunch Protestants, they fled to Germany during the reign of Queen Mary I.

Princess Elizabeth wrote to her cousin there and Catherine was appointed Chief Lady of the Bedchamber after she became Queen Elizabeth I. For the first ten years of the reign, Lady Catherine combined the most senior post among the ladies-in-waiting with motherhood to more than a dozen children.[4] Unsurprisingly, Elizabeth never recognised Catherine as her half-sister, and it was certainly not a relationship that Catherine or Sir Francis ever openly claimed. At court, Catherine was acknowledged as the queen's favourite among her first cousins, and Elizabeth's lack of other female relatives to whom she felt close may be adequate to explain this favoured position.[5]

She died on 15 January 1569 at Hampton Court Palace, being outlived by her husband and children, and was buried the following April in St Edmund's Chapel in Westminster Abbey. There is a small commemorative plaque in the abbey, although her chief monument is at Rotherfield Greys in Oxfordshire.
Catherine's epitaph reads:

The Right Honourable Lady Catherine Knollys, chief Lady of the Queen's Majesty's Bedchamber, and Wife to Sir Francis Knollys, Knight, Treasurer of Her Highnesses Houshold, departed this Life the Fifteenth of January, 1568, at Hampton-Court, and was honourably buried in the Floor of this Chapel.
This Lady Knollys, and the Lord Hunsdon her Brother, were the Children of William Caree, Esq; and of the Lady Mary his Wife, one of the Daughters and Heirs to Thomas Bulleyne, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde; which Lady Mary was Sister to Anne Queen of England, Wife to K. Henry the Eighth, Father and Mother to Elizabeth Queen of England.[6]

Issue[edit]

Sir Francis and Lady Knollys produced a number of offspring who survived to maturity. Of the children listed, only the last, Dudley, is known to have died in infancy:[7]

Mary Knollys (c. 1541 – 1593). She married Edward Stalker.

Sir Henry Knollys (c. 1542 – 1582). He was a member of parliament representing first Shoreham, Kent (1563) and then Oxfordshire. Esquire of the Body to Elizabeth I. He was married to Margaret Cave (1549–1600), daughter of Sir Ambrose Cave and Margaret Willington. Their daughter Lettice Knollys (1583–1655) married before 19 June 1602 William Paget, 4th Baron Paget.

Lettice Knollys, Countess of Essex and of Leicester (8 November 1543 – 25 December 1634). She married first Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, secondly Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester and thirdly Sir Christopher Blount.


William Knollys, 1st Earl of Banbury, (c. 1544 – 25 May 1632). He was married first to Dorothy Bray, who was 20 years his senior; and secondly to Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk and his second wife Catherine Knyvett.

Edward Knollys (1546–1580). He was a member of parliament.

Sir Robert Knollys (1547–1626). Member of Parliament representing Reading, Berkshire (1572–1589), Brecknockshire (1589–1604), Abingdon, Oxfordshire (1604, 1624–1625) and finally Berkshire (1626). He married Catherine Vaughan, daughter of Sir Rowland Vaughan, of Porthamel.

Richard Knollys (1548 – 21 August 1596). Member of Parliament representing first Wallingford (1584) and then Northampton (1588). Married Joan Heigham, daughter of John Heigham, of Gifford's Hall, Wickhambrook, Suffolk.

Elizabeth Knollys (15 June 1549 – c.1605). She married Sir Thomas Leighton of Feckenham, Worcester, son of John Leighton of Watlesburgh and Joyce Sutton, in 1578. Her husband served as Governor of Jersey and Guernsey.

Sir Thomas Knollys (d. 1596). Better known for service in the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648). Governor of Ostend in 1586. Married Odelia de Morana, daughter of John de Morada, Marquess of Bergen.
Sir Francis Knollys "the Younger" (c. 1552 – 1643). Member of Parliament representing first Oxford (1572–1588) and then Berkshire (1597, 1625). Married Lettice Barrett, daughter of John Barrett, of Hanham. Father-in-law of John Hampden.

Anne Knollys (19 July 1555 – 30 August 1608). Married Thomas West, 2nd Baron De La Warr. Mother to Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, after whom the state of Delaware is named.
Catherine Knollys (21 October 1559 – 20 December 1620). Married first Gerald FitzGerald, Baron Offaly (son of Gerald FitzGerald, 11th Earl of Kildare and Mabel Browne) and secondly Sir Phillip Butler, of Watton Woodhall. She was the mother of Lettice Digby, 1st Baroness Offaly.
Maude Knollys. No known descendants.
Dudley Knollys (9 May 1562 – June 1562)[8]

In literature

The possibility that Catherine, and perhaps her brother Henry, were illegitimate children of King Henry VIII, appears in many works of fiction, including Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl. Catherine Carey is also a character in Gregory's The Boleyn Inheritance, where she is sent to the royal court during the time of Queens Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard, and in The Virgin's Lover, where, as the mother of the seventeen-year-old Laetitia Knollys, she is among Queen Elizabeth I's closest companions. In Henry VIII's Wives by Alison Prince, the book's narrator Beatrice Townhill has a friend, Catherine "Kitty" Carey, whose father died of sweating sickness and whose mother is Mary Boleyn. In this book, Catherine was thought to be the king's daughter and she was with her aunt, Anne Boleyn, when Anne was in the Tower. She was married to Sir Francis Knollys and had lots of children.
Last Modified 30 Dec 2013Created 28 Jan 2018 using Reunion for Macintosh