Elizabeth Spencer (c.1583 - 1632) MP

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Birthplace: London, England
Death: Died in Compton Castle, Warwick, Northamptonshire, England
Managed by: Margaret, (C)
Last Updated:

About Elizabeth Spencer

After William recovered from the shock of his wife's inheritance, Elizabeth began immediately to relieve him of his worries ~ as this letter convincingly demonstrates:

My Swete Life,

Now I have declared to you my mind for the settling of your state, I supposed that it were best for me to bethink or to consider with myself, what allowance were meetest for me. For considering what care I ever had of your estate, and how respectfully I dealt with those who by the laws of God, of nature, and of civil polity, wit, religion, government and honesty, you, my dear, are bound to, I pray and beseech you to grant to me, your most kind and loving wife, the sum of £ 1600 per annum quarterly to be paid.

Also I would beside the allowance for my apparel have £ 600 added yearly, quarterly to be paid, for the performance of charitable works, and those things I would not neither will be accountable for. Also I will have three horses for my own saddle that none shall dare to lend or borrow : none lend but I, none borrow but you.

Also I would have two gentlewomen lest one should be sick, or have some other lett. Also believe that it is an indecent thing for a gentlewoman to stand mumping alone, when God hath blessed their lord and lady with a great estate.

Also when I ride a hunting or a hawking, or travel from one house to another, I will have them attending ; so for either of those said women I must and will have for either of them a horse.

Also, I will have six or eight gentlemen ; and I will have my two coaches; one lined with velvet, to myself, with four very fair horses, and a coach for my women, lined with cloth; one laced with gold, the other with scarlet, and laced with watch-lace and silver, with four good horses.

Also I will have two coachmen; one for my own coach, the other for my women's.

Also at any time when I travel, I will be allowed, not only carriages and spare horses for me and my women, but I shall have such carriages as shall be fitting for all, or duly; not pestering my things with my women's, nor theirs with chambermaid's, nor theirs with washmaids.

Also, for laundresses, when I travel, I will have them sent away with the carriages, to see all safe; and the chambermaids I will have go before with the grooms, that the chambers may be ready, sweet, and clean.

Also, for that it is indecent to crowd up myself with my gentleman usher in my coach, I will have him to have a convenient horse to attend me either in city or in country; and I must have two footmen; and my desire is, that you defray all the charges for me. And for myself, (besides my yearly allowance) I would have twenty gowns of apparel; six of them excellent good ones, eight of them for the country, and six others of them very excellent good ones.

Also I would have put into my purse £ 2000 and £ 200, and so you to pay my debts.

Also, I would have £ 6000 to buy me jewels, and £ 4000 to buy me a pearl chain.

Now, seeing I have been and am so reasonable unto you, I pray you do find my children apparel, and their schooling ; and all my servants, men and women, their wages.

Also, I will have all my houses furnished, and all my lodging chambers to be suited with all such furniture as is fit; as beds, stools, chairs, suitable cushions, carpets, silver warming pans, cupboards of plate, fair hangings, and such like. So, for my drawing-chamber, in all houses, I will have them delicately furnished, both with hangings, couch, canopy, glass, chairs, cushions, and all things thereunto belonging.

Also, my desire is that you would pay your debts, build Ashby-house, and purchase lands, and lend no money (as you love God) to the Lord Chamberlain, which would have all, perhaps your life, from you. Remember his son, my lord Waldon, what entertainment he gave me when you were at Tilt-yard. If you were dead he said he would marry me. I protest I grieve to see the poor man have so little wit and honesty, to use his friends so vilely. Also, he fed me with untruths concerning the Charter-house; but that is the least : he wished me much harm; you know him. God keep you and me from him, and such as he is.

So now that I have declared to you what I would have, and what that is I would not have, I pray, when you be an Earl, to allow me £ 1000 more than now desired, and double attendance.

Your loving wife Eliza Compt

William and Elizabeth (Spencer) Compton had four children:

- Spencer (1601 to 3-19-1642/43) married Mary Beaumont in 1621.

- John (1603 to 1664) married Susannah Freeman about 1629.

- Elizabeth married Robert Nithsdale.

- Anne married Ulick Clanricarde.

Elizabeth Spencer was the daughter of Sir John Spencer (d. March 3, 1610), a wealthy merchant, Master of the Clothworker’s Company, who was Lord Mayor of London in 1594/5, and Alice Bromfield (d. April 1610). Elizabeth's father was extremely wealthy, keeping houses at Crosby Place in London and Canonbury in Islington and making loans to peers. She was a prize on the marriage market, reputed to have a dowry of £40,000. One of her earliest suitors, c. 1584, was elderly alderman Anthony Ratcliffe. There was talk of a marriage to a member of the Heveningham family, although the DNB and Lawrence Stone's article in History Today, "The Peer and the Alderman's Daughter," disagree on whether it was Sir Arthur or his son. In any case, sometime in 1598, Elizabeth met and fell in love with William, 2nd baron Compton (created earl of Northampton in 1618). Compton (1568-June 24, 1630) was deeply in debt and in need of £10,000 to pay down his debts and another £18,000 to redeem mortgages. Not surprisingly, Elizabeth's father tried to discourage the match. In January 1599, he hid her away and further claimed she had a pre-contract with Heveningham. Compton retaliated by persuading the Privy Council to imprison Spencer in the Fleet. Upon his release, Spencer allegedly beat Elizabeth in an attempt to make her change her mind. This time Compton used his influence at court to have her removed from her father's care, although legend has him disguising himself as a baker's boy and smuggling Elizabeth out of the house wrapped in a blanket. Shortly after March 15, 1599, Elizabeth and Compton were married. Reconciliation was slow in coming, even though Elizabeth's first child was named Spencer (May 1601-March 19, 1643). Her second, Elizabeth, was born in her father's house, indicating that they were on better terms by then. A third child was named Mary (d. August 17, 1675). Compton, meanwhile, continued to accumulate debt. When Elizabeth's father died, followed a few weeks later by her mother, Elizabeth and Compton inherited everything because there was no will. The estate was valued at between £300,000 and £800,000. Almost at once the rumors began that there had been a will and Compton had destroyed it. The tales were fueled when Compton apparently "fell mad" and had to be confined in the Tower for about a month before he recovered his wits and was released. There was an investigation, but whatever the decision, Compton was not charged. He was said to have spent £72,000 in eight weeks, gambling and buying horses, once he had control of his late father-in-law's fortune. Elizabeth apparently had no trouble in spending money, either. A letter quoted in detail in the History Today article lists, among other items she required, £1,600 a year for clothing, £600 a year for charitable works, three horses, two gentlewomen, and two coaches.

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Elizabeth Spencer's Timeline

1583
1583
London, England
1599
March 15, 1599
Age 16
Elopement,Bakers,Basket,London
1601
May 10, 1601
Age 18
UK
1605
1605
Age 22
Compton, Warwickshire
1607
1607
Age 24
Compton, Warwickshire
1632
May 8, 1632
Age 49
Compton Castle, Warwick, Northamptonshire, England
May 8, 1632
Age 49
comptonology pg, 180