3rd Baroness Norris of Rycote.
Daughter of Bridget de Vere.
The next mention made in the letters in the State Paper Office (from the published abstracts of which letters I derive my information) regarding the young Lord Norreys, is in a letter dated 1605, and is as follows: “Lord Norreys is at Bath, separated from his wife.” And a letter dated a few months later says: “Lady Norreys is at Cope Castle, separated from Lord Norreys.”
“Lord Norreys is very ill at Bath, and not likely to recover. He is practising to disinherit his daughter. The Earl of Salisbury is desirous Carleton should go to Bath to prevent so unjust an act. It would confirm the scandal cast upon Lady Norreys at the time of her separation from her husband.”
11. All we would seem to know of Bridget de Vere, Lady Norris, between 1608 and the Baron’s death, is that she resided at Cope Castle, and received a semi-annual allowance for her needs. For the time being, her uncle, Robert Cecil, was watchful for her welfare, Dudley Carleton as his primary agent. Upon Cecil’s death, in 1612, what protection and support she might have received would have come from Edward de Vere’s son, by his second marriage, Henry de Vere, the 18th Earl of Oxford, and from the far more powerful Herbert brothers, the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery.
16. Upon the finding of suicide, the Bridget was stripped of the titles that came with her husband. Francis’s lands were confiscated to the crown. She could no longer style herself Countess of Berkshire or Baroness Norris. Unless one searches with unusual persistence, it seems, at this point, as if Bridget disappears from history. No one is precisely sure when she died.
The Earl of Berkshire's daughter who was kept at the Earl of Montgomery's, got out of the house early, walked three miles on foot, and was there met and taken to Aldermary Church where she married Mr. Wray; of the Bedchamber; they thence went to the Earl of Oxford's house in Fleet Street, he being in the plot. Lord Montgomery sent to fetch her away but Oxford would not give her up. His commission is taken from him and Wray put out of the Bedchamber.
20. In an interesting sidelight, Pembroke and Montgomery were also engaging the services of Ben Jonson, while all of this was going on, to produce the aforementioned First Folio of the plays of Elizabeth’s grandfather, Edward de Vere, who wrote under the penname William Shake-speare. The edition would come out in November of 1623 while Edward’s son, Henry, pleaded to be released from prison.
O true nobilitie, and rightly grac’d
With all the jewels that on thee depend;
Where goodnesse doth with greatnesse live embrac’d,
And outward stiles on inward worth attend;
Where ample lands in ample hands are plac’d,
And ancient deeds with ancient coats descend:
Where noble bloud combi’ d with noble spirit
Forefathers fames doth, with their forms, inherit:
Where ancestors examples are perus’d
Not in large tomes or costly tombs alone,
But in their heires; and, being dayly us’d,
Are (like their robes) more honourable growne:
Where Loyalty with Piety is infus’d,
And publique rights are cherished with their owne;
Where worth still finds respect; good friend, good word;
Desart, reward. And such is Ricot's Lord.
But what make I (vaine voice) in midst of all
The Quires that have already sung the fame
Of this great House, and those that henceforth shall
(As that will last) for ever sing the same?
But if on me my garland justly fall,
I justly owe my musique to this name:
For he unlawfully usurps the Bayes,
That has not sung in noble Norrey's prayse.
In playne (my honour’d Lord) I was not borne,
Audacious vowes, or forraigne legs, to use;
Nature denyed my outside to adorne,
And I of art to learne outsides refuse.
Yet, haveing of them both enough to scorne
Silence & vulgar prayse, this humble Muse,
And her meane favourite, at your command
Chose, in this kinde, to kisse your noble hand.
Epitaph upon William Shakespeare
Renowned Spencer lye a thought more nye
To learned Chaucer, and rare Beaumond lye
A little neerer Spenser, to make roome
For Shakespeare in your threefold, fowerfold Tombe.
To lodge all fowre in one bed make a shift
Vntill Doomesdaye, for hardly will a fift
Betwixt ye day and yis by Fate be slayne,
For whom your Curtaines may be drawn againe.
If your precedency in death doth barre
A fourth place in your sacred sepulcher,
In this uncarued marble of thine owne,
Sleepe, rare Tragoedian, Shakespeare, sleep alone;
Thy unmolested peace, vnshared Caue,
Possesse as Lord, not Tenant, of thy Graue,
That vnto us & others it may be
Honor hereafter to be layde by thee.
More from Virtual Grub Street on Shake-speare and Edward de Vere:
- Shake-speare and the Influence of Ronsard
- Shake-speare's Greek
- Check out the English Renaissance Article Index for many more articles and reviews about this fascinating time and about the Shakespeare Authorship Question.