Thomas Underhill

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Thomas Underhill (1545–1591) served as Keeper of the Wardrobe of Kenilworth Castle and had charge of its contents after the castle was given by Queen Elizabeth I to her favourite Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester in 1563.

Wardrobe (government) department of the kings household in medieval England

The King's Wardrobe, together with the Chamber, made up the personal part of medieval English government known as the King's household. Originally the room where the king's clothes, armour, and treasure were stored, the term was expanded to describe both its contents and the department of clerks who ran it. Early in the reign of Henry III the Wardrobe emerged out of the fragmentation of the Curia Regis to become the chief administrative and accounting department of the Household. The Wardrobe received regular block grants from the Exchequer for much of its history; in addition, however, the wardrobe treasure of gold and jewels enabled the king to make secret and rapid payments to fund his diplomatic and military operations, and for a time, in the 13th-14th centuries, it eclipsed the Exchequer as the chief spending department of central government.

Kenilworth Castle castle ruin in the town of Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England, UK

Kenilworth Castle is located in the town of the same name in Warwickshire, England. Constructed from Norman through to Tudor times, the castle has been described by architectural historian Anthony Emery as "the finest surviving example of a semi-royal palace of the later middle ages, significant for its scale, form and quality of workmanship". Kenilworth has also played an important historical role. The castle was the subject of the six-month-long Siege of Kenilworth in 1266, thought to be the longest siege in Medieval English history, and formed a base for Lancastrian operations in the Wars of the Roses. Kenilworth was also the scene of the removal of Edward II from the English throne, the French insult to Henry V in 1414, and the Earl of Leicester's lavish reception of Elizabeth I in 1575.

Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester English nobleman and the favourite and close friend of Queen Elizabeth I

Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, was an English statesman and the favourite of Elizabeth I from her accession until his death. He was a suitor for the Queen's hand for many years.

Thomas Underhill was born the son of Sir Hugh Underhill and one of Thomas Maynman's daughters in 1545 at Greenwich, London, England. Maynman served as Keeper of the Wardrobe at East Greenwich. Underhill would not only marry his daughter and have Thomas Underhill as a son, but he would go on to replace Maynman as Keeper of the Wardrobe in 1563.

Appointed by Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester, Thomas Underhill assumed responsibility as Keeper of the Wardrobe at Kenilworth Castle. Kenilworth was given by Queen Elizabeth to her favourite Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. The fact that Thomas Underhill, son of a well-regarded member of her household was sent, shows the affection Queen Elizabeth I had both for Dudley and Underhill.

During his time at Kenilworth, Thomas Underhill would witness transformation of the castle by making the north entrance the main entrance to suit the tastes of Elizabeth, and adding the Leicester building, a large apartment, and a residential block overlooking the lake.

Elizabeth visited Dudley at Kenilworth Castle several times in 1566, 1568, and 1575. The last visit is especially remembered for Elizabeth brought an entourage of several hundred people who were entertained for 19 days at a reputed cost to Dudley of £1000 per day, an amount that almost bankrupted him.

Thomas Underhill and Magdalen Amyas married in 1570 and had one son, John Edward Underhill, who was born 1574 at Kenilworth.

John Edward Underhill (1574–1608) was the son of Thomas Underhill and grandson of Sir Hugh Underhill, two figures favored under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I. He would later have to emigrate to Holland to escape persecution.

Famous Descendants

John Edward Underhill (1574–1608), grandson of Hugh Underhill and son of Thomas Underhill, despite being born in England would be among Puritan exiles who left for Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands, where he died and was buried.

Bergen op Zoom Municipality in North Brabant, Netherlands

Bergen op Zoom is a municipality and a city located in the south of the Netherlands.

Captain John Underhill, great-grandson of Hugh Underhill, would emigrate from England to The Netherlands with his family, and then from The Netherlands to the Massachusetts Bay Colony where he became a leading figure in Colonial America.

Captain John Underhill early settler of American colonies, Captain of the Massachusetts Bay Colony Militia

John Underhill was an early English settler and soldier in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Province of New Hampshire, where he also served as governor; the New Haven Colony, New Netherland, and later the Province of New York, settling on Long Island. Hired to train militia in New England, he is most noted for leading colonial militia in the Pequot War (1636-1637) and Kieft's War which the colonists mounted against two different groups of Native Americans. He also published an account of the Pequot War.

Massachusetts Bay Colony English possession in North America between 1628 and 1684

The Colony of Massachusetts Bay in New England (1628–1692) was an English settlement on the east coast of America in the 17th century around the Massachusetts Bay, the northernmost of the several colonies later reorganized as the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The lands of the settlement were located in southern New England in Massachusetts, with initial settlements situated on two natural harbors and surrounding land, about 15.4 miles (24.8 km) apart—the areas around Salem and Boston.

Myron Charles Taylor, America's leading industrialist, and a key diplomatic figure at the hub of many of the most important geopolitical events before, during, and after World War II. Also eighth generation descended from Captain John Underhill.

Amelia Earhart, American aviation pioneer and author famous for her mysterious disappearance.


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Sir Hugh Underhill (1518–1591) served as Keeper of the Wardrobe under Queen Elizabeth I and was highly regarded among members of the Royal Household.

John Underhill (c.1545–1592) was an English academic, involved in controversy, and later Bishop of Oxford.

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