Nicholas Throckmorton

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Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, by unknown artist, circa 1562, National Portrait Gallery, London. NPG 3800 Sir Nicholas Throckmorton from NPG.jpg
Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, by unknown artist, circa 1562, National Portrait Gallery, London. NPG 3800
Sir Nicholas Throckmorton (1515-1571) An(no) Aetatis Suae 49 ("in the 49th year of his age", i.e. 1564). English, 16th-century Throckmorton Collection, Coughton Court, Warwickshire, Property of the National Trust, NTPL Ref. No.153603 NicholasThrockmortonD1571.png
Sir Nicholas Throckmorton (1515–1571) An(no) Aetatis Suae 49 ("in the 49th year of his age", i.e. 1564). English, 16th-century Throckmorton Collection, Coughton Court, Warwickshire, Property of the National Trust, NTPL Ref. No.153603

Sir Nicholas Throckmorton (or Throgmorton) (circa 1515/1516 – 12 February 1571) was an English diplomat and politician, who was an ambassador to France and played a key role in the relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots.

Elizabeth I of England Queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until 1603

Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.

Mary, Queen of Scots 16th-century Scottish ruler and queen consort of France

Mary, Queen of Scots, also known as Mary Stuart or Mary I of Scotland, reigned over Scotland from 14 December 1542 to 24 July 1567.


Early years

Nicholas Throckmorton was the fourth of eight sons of Sir George Throckmorton of Coughton Court, near Alcester in Warwickshire and Katherine, daughter of Nicholas Vaux, 1st Baron Vaux of Harrowden and Elizabeth FitzHugh, the former Lady Parr. [1] [2] Nicholas was an uncle of the conspirator Francis Throckmorton. He was brought up in the households of members of the Parr family, including that of his cousin Catherine Parr, the last queen consort of Henry VIII. He got acquainted with young Lady Elizabeth when he was serving in the household of the dowager queen and her new husband Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley and became a close confidant.[ citation needed ] In his youth, he also became favourable to the Protestant Reformation. [3]

Sir George Throckmorton of Coughton Court was an English politician and a member of Parliament during the reign of Henry VIII. Born by 1489, he was the eldest son of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton Court by Catherine Marrow, daughter of Sir William Marowe or Marrow, Lord Mayor of London.

Coughton Court Grade I listed historic house museum in Stratford-on-Avon, United Kingdom

Coughton Court is an English Tudor country house, situated on the main road between Studley and Alcester in Warwickshire. It is a Grade I listed building.

Alcester town

Alcester is a market town and civil parish of Roman origin at the junction of the River Alne and River Arrow in Warwickshire, England, approximately 8 miles (13 km) west of Stratford-upon-Avon, and 8 miles south of Redditch, close to the Worcestershire border. The 2011 census recorded a population of 6,273.

After the execution of Lord Thomas Seymour in 1549 and the downfall of Protector Somerset later in the year, Throckmorton managed to distance himself from those affairs and eventually became the part of the circle of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland and confidant of the young king Edward VI.

Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset Nobleman

Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, was Lord Protector of England during part of the Tudor period from 1547 until 1549 during the minority of his nephew, King Edward VI (1547–1553). Despite his popularity with the common people, his policies often angered the gentry and he was overthrown. He was the eldest brother of Queen Jane Seymour (d. 1537), the third wife of King Henry VIII.

John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland English general, admiral, and politician

John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland was an English general, admiral, and politician, who led the government of the young King Edward VI from 1550 until 1553, and unsuccessfully tried to install Lady Jane Grey on the English throne after the King's death. The son of Edmund Dudley, a minister of Henry VII executed by Henry VIII, John Dudley became the ward of Sir Edward Guildford at the age of seven. Dudley grew up in Guildford's household together with his future wife, Guildford's daughter Jane, with whom he was to have 13 children. Dudley served as Vice-Admiral and Lord Admiral from 1537 until 1547, during which time he set novel standards of navy organisation and was an innovative commander at sea. He also developed a strong interest in overseas exploration. Dudley took part in the 1544 campaigns in Scotland and France and was one of Henry VIII's intimates in the last years of the reign. He was also a leader of the religious reform party at court.

Edward VI of England 16th-century Tudor King of England

Edward VI was King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. Edward was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, and England's first monarch to be raised as a Protestant. During his reign, the realm was governed by a regency council because he never reached his majority. The council was first led by his uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1547–1549), and then by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick (1550–1553), who from 1551 was Duke of Northumberland.

He sat in Parliament from 1545 to 1567, initially as the member for Maldon and then from 1547 for Devizes (a seat previously held by his brother Clement Throckmorton). During the reign of Edward VI, he was in high favour with the regents.

Parliament of the United Kingdom supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom

The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, and domestically simply as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.

Maldon (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom

Maldon is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by John Whittingdale, a Conservative.

Devizes (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom

Devizes is a constituency in Wiltshire, England, which is represented in the House of Commons of the U.K. Parliament and includes four towns and many villages in the middle and east of the county. The area's representative has been a Conservative since 1924.

In 1547, he was present at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh during the invasion of Scotland. He was knighted in 1551, and the title included numerous benefits, including land grants, that gave him financial security. He held the post of under-treasurer at the Tower mint from 1549 to 1552. In March 1553, he was elected knight of the shire for Northamptonshire and then MP for Old Sarum (Nov 1553), Lyme Regis (1559) and Tavistock (1563).

Battle of Pinkie Cleugh Anglo-Scottish battle

The Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, sometimes known as the Battle of Pinkie, took place on 10 September 1547 on the banks of the River Esk near Musselburgh, Scotland. The last pitched battle between Scottish and English armies, it was part of the conflict known as the Rough Wooing, and is considered to have been the first modern battle in the British Isles. It was a catastrophic defeat for Scotland, where it became known as Black Saturday.

Knight An award of an honorary title for past or future service with its roots in chivalry in the Middle Ages

A knight is a man granted an honorary title of knighthood by a monarch, bishop or other political or religious leader for service to the monarch or a Christian church, especially in a military capacity. Historically, in all Europe, knighthood was conferred upon mounted warriors. During the High Middle Ages, knighthood was considered a class of lower nobility. By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior. Often, a knight was a vassal who served as an elite fighter, a bodyguard or a mercenary for a lord, with payment in the form of land holdings. The lords trusted the knights, who were skilled in battle on horseback.

Royal Mint minter of coins in the United Kingdom

The Royal Mint is a government-owned mint that produces coins for the United Kingdom. Operating under the name Royal Mint Ltd, the mint is a limited company that is wholly owned by Her Majesty's Treasury and is under an exclusive contract to supply all the nation's coinage. As well as minting circulating coins for use domestically and internationally, the mint also produces planchets, commemorative coins, various types of medals and precious metal bullion. The mint exports to an average of 60 countries a year, making up 70% of its total sales. Formed over 1,100 years ago, the mint was historically part of a series of mints that became centralised to produce coins for the Kingdom of England, all of Great Britain and eventually most of the British Empire. The original London mint from which the Royal Mint is the successor, was established in 886 AD and operated within the Tower of London for approximately 800 years before moving to what is now called Royal Mint Court where it remained until the 1960s. As Britain followed the rest of the world in decimalising its currency, the Mint moved from London to a new 38 acres (15 ha) plant in Llantrisant, Wales where it has remained since.

Tudor successions

During the short-lived attempt to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne after the death of Edward VI in 1553, Throckmorton tried to keep contact with both supporters of both her and Queen Mary Tudor. Eventually, he began to support the latter.

Lady Jane Grey English noblewoman and de facto monarch of England

Lady Jane Grey, also known as Lady Jane Dudley and as "the Nine Days' Queen", was an English noblewoman and de facto Queen of England and Ireland from 10 July until 19 July 1553.

Mary I of England Queen of England and Ireland

Mary I, also known as Mary Tudor, was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death. She is best known for her aggressive attempt to reverse the English Reformation, which had begun during the reign of her father, Henry VIII. The executions that marked her pursuit of the restoration of Roman Catholicism in England and Ireland led to her denunciation as "Bloody Mary" by her Protestant opponents.

However, in January 1554, he was suspected of complicity in Wyatt's Rebellion and arrested. Later historians[ who? ] have suspected he was at least involved, either because of his Protestantism or due to his dismay at the growing Spanish influence in the court. [3]

Throckmorton was brought to trial at the Guildhall on 17 April 1554. He managed to convince the jury, which included Simon Lowe alias Fyfield, of his innocence, although the judges were openly hostile to him. They included Sir Roger Cholmeley, who was trying to impress Queen Mary. As a result of the verdict, the court fined and imprisoned the jury and sent Throckmorton to the Tower. [4] When he was released the next year, he fled to exile in France. Though people wanted to put him on trial again, he was pardoned in 1557, and was employed by Queen Mary. [3]

Elizabeth's court

Ambassador to France

After Elizabeth's accession in November 1558, Throckmorton rose rapidly into favour because of his personal acquaintance with her. He sent her advice on the formation of her government, some of which she followed and from May 1559 to April 1564, he was ambassador to France. He was appointed both Chief Butler of England and Chamberlain of the Exchequer in 1564 for life. He continued to send letters and messengers with advice to the Queen and she often took his advice. [3]

Throckmorton acknowledged that Elizabeth had a central and active role in government, and August 1560 he wrote to Elizabeth that peace between England and Scotland "dothe cheffely depend uppon your majesties order & conducte." [5] During these years in France, Throckmorton became acquainted with Mary, Queen of Scots. He conducted the negotiations with the English court regarding her travel arrangements when she decided to return to Scotland from France. Though he supported the Reformation, he became her close friend, willing to assist her, and do her personal favours. [3]

As an ambassador, Throckmorton encouraged Elizabeth to aid the Huguenots, and he surreptitiously took a part in the war of religion. Throckmorton was allowed leave from his duties in October 1559 to visit his sick wife in England. Henry Killigrew was left as his deputy. When Throckmorton returned to France in 1560, the Roman Catholic leader Francis, Duke of Guise imprisoned him as a persona non grata . Guise was convinced that Throckmorton had been involved with the Tumult of Amboise, a Huguenot plot. Throckmorton later remarked that he was afraid he would be killed, but he was released and retained his post as an ambassador. [3]

In 1562, when religious violence began to intensify in France, Throckmorton wanted to support the mediation efforts of Catherine de' Medici. Later in 1562, when the Huguenot Prince of Condé had taken over Newhaven (modern-day Le Havre) in April, Throckmorton convinced the Queen to send military aid to the Huguenots in what was later called the Newhaven expedition. English troops garrisoned Le Havre in October 1562, but soon fell afoul of the Huguenots and, after the negotiations, the Huguenots turned against the English. After an outbreak of plague, they had to surrender the next year. Catherine de' Medici was suspicious of Throckmorton's schemes, however, and when Elizabeth sent him to negotiate with her in 1563, she placed him under house arrest. Elizabeth sent Sir Thomas Smith to negotiate his release. The two men soon began to dislike each other and in one stage almost came to blows, but Throckmorton was eventually released in 1564.

Envoy to Mary, Queen of Scots

After Throckmorton's return to England, the Queen sent him as an ambassador to Scotland in May 1565. His mission was to prevent the marriage of Queen Mary and Darnley, but he failed. After the murder of Darnley, Elizabeth sent Throckmorton to Scotland in June 1567. The Scottish lords had rebelled and captured Mary at Carberry Hill, and Elizabeth wished the lords to restore Mary to her authority. Throckmorton himself had recommended that Elizabeth should support the lords. [3] On 25 July, William Maitland of Lethington came to see Throckmorton.

As instructed by Elizabeth, Throckmorton asked Lethington if the plan was to restore Mary to the throne.

If so, Elizabeth promised to help prosecute Darnley's murder and preserve Prince James. Throckmorton recorded Lethington's personal answer, which outlined that English interference was not welcome at this time, and might even be counterproductive, and Throckmorton would not be allowed to see Mary;

"Being in place to knowe more than you can knowe, I saye unto yowe ..., in case you doe on the Quenes majesties behalf your mestris, presse this company to enlarge the Quene my soveraigne, and to suffer you to goe unto her (at Lochleven Castle), or doe use any thretnynge speache in those matters, the rather to compasse them (rather than achieve them), I assure you, you wyll put the Quene my soveraigne in greate jeopardye of her lyffe: and therefore there is none other waye for the present to do her good but to give place and use mildness." [6]

Elizabeth repeated her instructions to Throckmorton by letter on 27 July 1567. Elizabeth told Throckmorton he should argue that the lords had deposed Mary against scriptural law, citing Paul's letter to the Romans. Elizabeth noted that as she planned not to send financial aid to the rebel lords, there was a risk they might renew the Auld Alliance with France. Throckmorton was not to give confirmation to the rebellion by attending the coronation of the infant Prince James. [7]

Throckmorton was working against his own advice and had contradictory orders from both his Queen and Sir William Cecil. The Scottish lords knew him as a friend of Mary and as a supporter of her claim to be a successor to Elizabeth, so he was an unwelcome guest. Some of Elizabeth's messages also offended the lords. Throckmorton was recalled in August after he offended Elizabeth by showing his instructions to the Scottish lords. [3]

In 1569, Throckmorton was suspected of involvement in the Duke of Norfolk's conspiracy in favour of Mary, and was imprisoned for a time at Windsor. Throckmorton may have erroneously believed Norfolk's idea would suit the wishes of the Queen. He was not put to trial, but did not regain the Queen's confidence afterwards.

Throckmorton's monument in St Katharine Cree parish church, London St Katharine Cree, Leadenhall Street, London EC3 - Monument - - 1085139.jpg
Throckmorton's monument in St Katharine Cree parish church, London

Throckmorton died on 12 February 1571. He is buried in St Katharine Cree parish church, Leadenhall Street, London.

Family and legacy

Throckmorton married Anne Carew, daughter of Sir Nicholas Carew, a Knight of the Garter and his wife Elizabeth Bryan, and they had 10 sons and three daughters. Their daughter Elizabeth became the wife of Sir Walter Raleigh. [3] After his death, Anne married Adrian Stokes, the second husband, and former Master of Horse of, Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk.

Contemporary political figures regarded Throckmorton with respect. One of these was Sir Francis Walsingham who had worked with Throckmorton in France. In 1560 William Cecil said he would be prepared to resign if Throckmorton would take his place and spoke well of him after his death, in spite of their constant disagreements. Some contemporaries also suspected Throckmorton was the éminence grise behind Robert Dudley.

At the time of his death, Throckmorton held the posts of the keeper of Brigstock Park, Northamptonshire; Justice of the Peace in Northamptonshire; and Chief Butler of England and Wales. London's Throgmorton Street is named after him.


  1. Harrison, Bruce R.; The Family Forest Descendants of Lady Joan Beaufort p. 64
  2. Douglas Richardson, Kimball G. Everingham. Magna Carta ancestry: a study in colonial and medieval families. pg 639.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Chisholm 1911.
  4. T.B. Howell (ed.), (Cobbett's) A Complete Collection of State Trials, Vol. I (Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, London 1816), pp. 869 ff..
  5. V. Smith, 'Perspectives on Female Monarchy', in J. Daybell & S. Norrhem, Gender and Political Culture in Early Modern Europe (Abingdon, 2017), 145.
  6. Calendar State Papers Scotland, vol.2 (1900), p.363
  7. Reports on various collections: Robert Mordaunt Hay of Duns Castle, HMC (1909), p.96-99, Romans, xiii. 1-7

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