Nicholas Carew (courtier)

Last updated

Nicolas Carew
Hans Holbein d. J. 059.jpg
Sir Nicholas Carew
Successor Sir Francis Carew
Bornc. 1496
Carew Manor, Beddington, Surrey.
Died3 March 1539
Tower Hill, London, England.
Nationality English
Residence Carew Manor
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Bryan
Mary Carew, Lady Darcy
Anne Carew, Lady Throckmorton
Elizabeth Carew
Sir Francis Carew
Isabel Carew-Saunders
ParentsSir Richard Carew
Malyn Oxenbridge

Sir Nicholas Carew KG (c. 1496 – 3 March 1539), of Beddington in Surrey, was an English courtier and diplomat during the reign of King Henry VIII. He was executed for his alleged part in the Exeter Conspiracy.


Arms of Carew: Or, three lions passant in pale sable CarewArms.png
Arms of Carew: Or, three lions passant in pale sable

Early career

Nicholas Carew was the son of Sir Richard Carew, Captain of Calais (1469 - May 23, 1520) and Malyn Oxenbridge, the daughter of Sir Robert Oxenbridge (1414 - 1486) of Brede, Sussex. [2] When he was six years of age, he was placed in the household of the young King Henry VIII of England, and shared the King's education. In the early years of King Henry's reign, he came to prominence at court through his skill at jousting, and was renowned for his fearlessness. By 1515, Carew's fame in the lists was such that the King provided him with his own tiltyard at Greenwich. He was knighted some time before 1517. He was a prominent member of the Court and held the position of Master of the Horse, as well as other prominent offices such as Master of the Forests, Lieutenant of Ruysbank (guarding Calais harbour), and Chief Esquire of the King. [3] He was a close friend of the King and was made a Knight of the Garter in 1536.

Sir Nicholas was sent to France twice as part of a diplomatic mission, once in January 1521, and was reputedly well received by King Francis I of France. [4] His second mission to France took place in 1524 to have English presence at the peace talks between King Francis and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. [5]

Carew was popular with King Henry VIII, who sought his company, [6] but was known in his youth for being something of a rake. [7] He was one of a number of King Henry's companions whom Cardinal Wolsey believed had too much influence over the King. In 1518, Wolsey managed to have Carew sent away from court, replacing him with his own protégé, Richard Pace. He soon returned, but was removed again, to Ruysbank Tower, Calais, in 1519, when he was also High Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex. In 1521, he was made constable of Wallingford Castle, together with the stewardship of Wallingford. Wolsey finally engineered Carew's dismissal from the Privy chamber, when he presented the Eltham ordinances of 1526.

Quartered arms of Sir Nicholas Carew, KG, as described in Ashmole's Register of the Most Noble Order of the Garter -- 1st Carew, 2nd Hoo, 3rd Welles quartering Engayne, 4th Waterton, 5th Mohun of Mohuns Ottery, and 6th Idron. Coat of arms of Sir Nicholas Carew, KG.png
Quartered arms of Sir Nicholas Carew, KG, as described in Ashmole's Register of the Most Noble Order of the Garter -- 1st Carew, 2nd Hoo, 3rd Welles quartering Engayne, 4th Waterton, 5th Mohun of Mohuns Ottery, and 6th Idron.

Statesman and conspirator

In 1522, Carew succeeded Sir Henry Guildford as Master of the Horse, a post he held until his death. In the following years he was frequently sent on embassies to Paris. Francis I developed a high regard for Carew, [7] and urged Henry to advance him; the self-avowed 'reprobate' was now a sober politician. [8] In January 1528, to Wolsey's dismay, Sir Nicholas was restored to the Privy chamber, possibly through the influence of his relative, Anne Boleyn, to whom he was related via a common ancestor, their great-great-grandfather, Thomas Hoo, Baron Hoo and Hastings. [9] In 1529 he was elected as the junior knight of the shire for Surrey but was sent abroad to Bologna on a diplomatic mission and missed the first session.

However, Carew started to resent the way Anne used her position as the King's mistress, revealing his sympathy for Queen Catherine and the Princess Mary to the imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys. [10] In 1531, angry at the way she had treated his friends, Sir Henry Guildford and the Duke of Suffolk, he began working against her. [11] These manoeuvres culminated in 1536, when the reformist Thomas Cromwell made common cause with religious conservatives, such as Carew, to bring Queen Anne down. [12] At this time, Henry chose Carew to fill a vacancy in the Order of the Garter, thus fulfilling a promise made to Francis I.


Monument to Sir Nicholas Carew in St Botolph-without-Aldgate, London St Botolph without Aldgate, London EC3 - Monument - - 1229939.jpg
Monument to Sir Nicholas Carew in St Botolph-without-Aldgate, London

In late 1538, Cromwell moved against his former allies. Carew was already out of favour at court, having responded angrily to an insult made by King Henry VIII. Ambassador Chapuys perceived that the real cause of his downfall was likely the championing of the Princess Mary. [13] When Cromwell presented apparently-treasonous letters written by Carew, King Henry VIII was persuaded that Carew had been involved in the Exeter Conspiracy, a plot to depose him and place Cardinal Reginald Pole on the throne in his stead. Carew was thus arrested and stood trial on 14 February 1539, and he was found guilty of high treason.

"... charges that Sir Nic. Carewe of Bedyngton alias of Westminster, knowing the said Marquis to be a traitor, did, 20 Aug, 1537, at Westhorseley, Surr., and at other times, falsely abet the said Marquis, and, 24 Aug 1537, and at other times, had conversations with him about the change of the world, and also with his own hand wrote him divers letters, at Bedyngton, 4 Sept 1537 and at other times, and the said Marquis at that or other times sent divers traitorous letters to the said Carewe from Westhorseley which the said Carewe traitorously received, which letters they afterwards, to conceal their treason, traitorously burnt at Westhorseley and Bedyngton, 1 Sept, 1539 and at other times; and afterwards, knowing that the said Marquis was indicted as aforesaid, 29 Nov, 1539 the said Carewe at Bedyngton traitorously said these words in English, "I marvel greatly that the indictment against the lord Marquis was so secretly handled and for what purpose, for the like was never seen". [14]

Sir Nicholas Carew was beheaded on 3 March 1539 at Tower Hill. According to a letter by John Butler, the last words of Carew as he was led to execution, amounted to exhorting all to study the evangelical books, as he had fallen by hatred to the Gospel. [15]

His estate at Beddington, including Carew Manor, was granted after his execution to Walter Gorges, and then later after his death to Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy of Chiche. Carew's only son, Sir Francis Carew, later managed to attain a reversal of his father's attainder, but did not receive his estates, and purchased the Beddington estate from Lord Darcy. Beddington Park, reduced in area, continued to be owned by the Carew family, into the 20th century; two female heirs in the lineage chose to adopt for their sons the name and arms of Carew. [16]

Carew's estate at Coulsdon was joined to the honour (set of manors) of Hampton Court. In her first year of reign, Queen Mary I granted the estate to Carew's son, to be held in chief by the service of one-fortieth part of a knight's fee. In 1589, owing to the imminent default of male heirs, Queen Elizabeth I of England granted the Coulsdon estate to Carew's grandson, Edward Darcy (the son of his daughter, Mary Carew), who was knighted in 1603. [17]

Marriage and children

Sir Nicholas Carew married Sir Francis Bryan's sister, Elizabeth Bryan, the daughter of Sir Thomas Bryan and Margaret Bourchier. [18] Sir Francis Bryan was part of the trial committee against Carew which left his own sister Elizabeth impoverished. [19]

Sir Nicholas and Elizabeth had the following children:


  1. Debrett's Peerage, 1968, Carew Baronets, p.155
  2. Daniel Lysons, 'Beddington', in The Environs of London: Volume 1, County of Surrey (T. Cadell and W. Davies, London 1792), pp. 49-67, pedigree of Carew of Beddington facing p. 53, and at p. 59, citing Rymer, Foedera Vol. XIII, p. 232, 298, etc.
  3. British History Online
  4. Henry VIII: January 1521, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 3: 1519–1523 (1867), pp. 415–427
  5. Henry VIII: May 1524, 11–20', Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4: 1524–1530 (1875), pp. 135–142,
  6. Weir, Henry VIII, p. 167.
  7. 1 2 Weir, Henry VIII, p. 241.
  8. Weir, Henry VIII, p. 280.
  9. The History of Parliament
  10. Weir, Henry VIII, p. 301.
  11. Weir, Henry VIII, p. 320.
  12. Weir, Henry VIII, p. 374.
  13. Weir, Henry VIII, p. 417.
  14. Letters and Papers: February 1539, 11–15', Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 14 Part 1: January–July 1539 (1894), pp. 107–117
  15. Letter:John Butler to Conrad Pellican: Letters and Papers: March 1539, 6–10', Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 14 Part 1: January–July 1539 (1894), pp. 177–195
  16. 'Beddington', The Environs of London: volume 1: County of Surrey (1792), pp. 49–67
  17. H.E. Malden (editor) (1912). "Parishes: Coulsdon". A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 4. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 20 October 2013.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  18. Weir, Henry VIII, p. 124.
  19. Brigden, Susan. "Bryan, Sir Francis". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/3788.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

Related Research Articles

Thomas Cromwell English statesman and chief minister to King Henry VIII of England

Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, was an English lawyer and statesman who served as chief minister to King Henry VIII from 1534 to 1540, when he was beheaded on orders of the king.

Beddington Human settlement in England

Beddington is a suburban settlement in the London Borough of Sutton on the boundary with the London Borough of Croydon. Beddington is formed from a village of the same name which until early the 20th century still included land which became termed entirely as Wallington. The BedZED low energy housing estate is, in non-ecclesiastical terms, in the neighbouring locality of Hackbridge. The latter was in the 13th century shown on local maps as Hakebrug, and named after a bridge on the River Wandle. The locality has a landscaped wooded park at Beddington Park – also known as Carew Manor; and a nature reserve and sewage treatment works in the centre and to the north of its area respectively. The population of Beddington according to the 2011 census is 21,044.

Field of the Cloth of Gold Summit meeting

The Field of the Cloth of Gold was a royal summit meeting at a site in Balinghem – equidistant between Ardres in France and Guînes in the English Pale of Calais –. It was a lavish extremely expensive display of wealth on both sides from 7 to 24 June 1520, between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France.

George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford British Viscount (1504-1536)

George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford was an English courtier and nobleman who played a prominent role in the politics of the early 1530s, and was the brother of Queen Anne Boleyn, from 1533 the second wife of King Henry VIII and thus the maternal uncle of Queen Elizabeth I. Following his father's promotion in the peerage in 1529 to Earl of Wiltshire and Earl of Ormond, he adopted his father's junior title Viscount Rochford as a courtesy title. He was accused of incest with his sister Anne during the period of her trial for high treason, as a result of which both were executed.

Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk English diplomat (1484-1545)

Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, 1st Viscount Lisle, PC was an English military leader and courtier. Through his third wife, Mary Tudor, he was brother-in-law to King Henry VIII.

Elizabeth Raleigh English lady-in-waiting

Elizabeth, Lady Raleigh was an English courtier, a Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber to Queen Elizabeth I of England. Her secret marriage to Sir Walter Raleigh precipitated a long period of royal disfavour for both her and her husband.

John Wallop

Sir John Wallop was an English soldier and diplomat who belonged to an old Hampshire family from the village of Farleigh Wallop.

Richard Southwell (courtier)

Sir Richard Southwell PC was an English Privy Councillor.

Margaret Bryan, Baroness Bryan was lady governess to the children of King Henry VIII of England, the future monarchs Mary I, Elizabeth I, and Edward VI, as well as the illegitimate Henry FitzRoy. The position of lady governess in her day resembled less that of the popular modern idea of a governess, more that of a nanny.

Sir Francis Bryan was an English courtier and diplomat during the reign of Henry VIII. He was Chief Gentleman of the Privy chamber and Lord Justice of Ireland. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bryan always retained Henry's favour, achieving this by altering his opinions to conform to the king's. His rakish sexual life and his lack of principle at the time of his cousin Anne Boleyn's downfall led to his earning the nickname the Vicar of Hell.

Elizabeth Carew née Bryan was an English courtier and reputed mistress of King Henry VIII. A daughter of Sir Thomas Bryan and Margaret Bourchier, Elizabeth became the wife of Henry VIII's close friend Sir Nicholas Carew, an influential statesman who was eventually executed for his alleged involvement in the Exeter Conspiracy. Her brother, Sir Francis, a member of the Privy Chamber and one of the king's closest friends, was responsible for sitting in the jury that convicted his sister's husband, who was sentenced to death, and thus reduced her to penury.

Sir William Compton was a soldier and one of the most prominent courtiers during the reign of Henry VIII of England.

Anne Shelton née Boleyn was the elder sister of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and an aunt of his daughter, Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.

Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy de Darcy

Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy of Darcy or of Temple Hurst, was an English nobleman, the only son, and heir, of Sir William Darcy and his wife, Euphemia Langton, the daughter of Sir John Langton. Darcy was opposed to the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and for his role in the Pilgrimage of Grace was convicted of high treason for delivering up Pontefract Castle to the rebels. He was executed on Tower Hill 30 June 1537.

Sir Thomas Bryan was an English courtier during the reign of Henry VIII.

Henry Guildford

Sir Henry Guildford, KG (1489–1532) was an English courtier of the reign of Henry VIII, master of the horse and comptroller of the royal household.

Richard Weston (treasurer)

Sir Richard Weston (1465–1541), KB, of Sutton Place in the parish of Guildford in Surrey, was a courtier and diplomat who served as Governor of Guernsey, Treasurer of Calais and Under-Treasurer of the Exchequer during the reign of King Henry VIII.

Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy of Chiche English courtier

Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy of Chiche KG was an English courtier during the reign of Edward VI. He served as Vice-Chamberlain of the Household and Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard between 1550 and 1551 before his appointment as Lord Chamberlain of the Household. He was placed under house arrest for his support of Lady Jane Grey as Edward's successor.

Sir Nicholas Throckmorton or Carew was an English landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons in two parliaments between 1601 and 1622.

Francis Carew (1530?–1611), of Beddington, Surrey was an English politician.