Ferdinando Stanley (c.1559 - 1594) MP

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Birthplace: London, England
Death: Died in Ormskirk, Lancashire, England
Occupation: 5th Earl of Derby
Managed by: Ernesto Álvarez Uriondo
Last Updated:

About Ferdinando Stanley

Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby

Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby (c. 1559 – 16 April 1594) was the son of Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derby and Lady Margaret Clifford. According to the will of Henry VIII, his mother was heiress presumptive of Elizabeth I of England from 1578 to her own death in 1596. After her death Ferdinando would have become heir to Elizabeth I, but he predeceased his mother by two years and the queen by nine years. His sudden death led to widespread suspicion of poisoning amid fears of Catholic plots to overthrow Elizabeth.


His maternal grandparents were Henry Clifford, 2nd Earl of Cumberland and Lady Eleanor Brandon. Eleanor was the third child of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk and Mary Tudor. Mary was the fifth child of Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York.

His matriculation occurred around 1572 when he was about thirteen years old and then attended the University of Oxford. He was called to Court a year later by the Queen Elizabeth "to be shaped in good manners". He was subsequently summoned to Parliament in his father's Barony of Strange (of Knokyn) and became known as "Ferdinando D'no Straunge". In 1579 he married Alice Spencer, the youngest daughter of Sir John Spencer of Althorp and Catherine Kytson.


He was a supporter of the arts, enjoying music, dance, poetry, and singing, but above all he loved the theatre. He was the patron of many writers including Robert Greene, Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare. Shakespeare may have been employed by Strange in his early years as part of Lord Strange's Men when this troupe of acrobats and tumblers was reorganized in 1592, emphasizing acting. By 1590, Strange's was allied with the Admiral's Men, performing at The Theatre (owned by James Burbage, father of Richard Burbage).


During this period Ferdinando remained circumspect about his true opinions on religion and other matters. The Jesuit writer Robert Parsons expressed frustration, stating that "diverse men" were not satisfied "with the course of this lord hitherto". Parsons hoped that the accession of the Stanleys to the English throne might aid the Catholic cause, but that "the Earl of Derby's religion is held to be doubtful, as some do think him to be of all three religions [Catholic; Episcopal Protestant; Puritan] and others of none." He added that "no side will esteem or trust him" because of this.[1] Nevertheless Elizabeth's chief minister Lord Burghley received several reports that Catholics were attempting to build support for Ferdinando "who might be made king by the Catholics unanimously", as one informant stated.[1]

His father died on 25 September 1593 and Ferdinando succeeded him as the 5th Earl of Derby. Lord Strange's Men were renamed to Derby's Men accordingly. Scholars believe that Shakespeare was involved with Strange's as both actor and playwright. The troupe produced Titus Andronicus and the trilogy of Henry VI, Part 1, Henry VI, Part 2 and Henry VI, Part 3. Some of these plays may contain oblique references to the Stanley family's political position at the time.[1]


Ferdinando was considered "of an exalted genius as well as birth", and during the absence of his father on State business, he ably discharged the duties, of the Lieutenancies of Lancashire and Cheshire. He was both a poet and author, enjoying the society of eminent Elizabethan men of letters. Edmund Spenser, the poet, personified Ferdindando as "Amyntas", and his Countess as "Amaryllis". In 1610, a collection of English poems, entitled Belvedere; or the Garden of the Muses was published including Ferdinando's work, but without his signature, and the identity is to a great extent a matter of conjecture.

After his succession to the Earldom, more reports of Catholic plots on his behalf reached Burghley, particularly of a priest in Rome who had stated that Stanley "though he were of no religion, should find friends to decide a nearer estate [to the throne]". A number of rebels, who had fled to foreign countries, sent over a man named Richard Hesketh to urge him a claim to the crown of England by right of his descent from Mary, Queen Dowager of France, the second daughter of Henry VII, and younger sister to Henry VIII. The Heskeths were ancient retainers of the Stanley family and were family friends. This is why Richard was chosen to approach him about the matter that has come to be known as "The Hesketh Affair". Ferdinando held two secret meetings with Hesketh, and then took him to London for further discussions with his mother, who had earlier been excluded from court for allegedly plotting against Elizabeth. Stanley finally dramatically rejected Hesketh's proposition with displays of scorn and indignation, turning Hesketh over to the authorities.[1]


Hesketh was interrogated and later executed. However, Stanley, who had hoped his display of loyalty would be rewarded, was shut out of the case and was marginalised. He was dismayed when the position of Lord Chamberlain of Chester was given to Thomas Egerton rather than himself, complaining that he was "crossed in court and crossed in his country".[1]

His death was mysterious. A few months after the Hesketh affair, he was suddenly taken ill with a severe and violent sickness. Poisoning was suspected. It was claimed that Hesketh had threatened him that he would soon die if he did not accept his plans.[1] He was said to have been poisoned by the Jesuits, his gentleman of horse being suspected of administering the poison. The historian John Stow recorded his illness in great detail. It has been suggested that poisonous mushrooms were used.[2]


The unexpected death of Ferdinando on 16 April 1594 was an event of major political importance in the later years of Queen Elizabeth's reign as it opened up the succession question once more.

From his marriage to Alice Spencer he had his eldest daughter, Anne Stanley, Countess of Castlehaven, in 1580. Henry VIII's will would have made her queen in 1603 as heiress of Henry's younger sister Mary Tudor; Elizabeth was actually succeeded by James VI of Scotland, the heir of Henry's older sister, Margaret Tudor.


Bernard Burke also mentioned two younger daughters of the Earl and Alice Spencer. Lady Frances Stanley (1583–1636) would become the wife of John Egerton, 1st Earl of Bridgewater and mother of John Egerton, 2nd Earl of Bridgewater. Lady Elizabeth Stanley (1588–1633) was married to Henry Hastings, 5th Earl of Huntingdon. Their son Ferdinando Hastings, 6th Earl of Huntingdon was named after his maternal grandfather.


Ferdinando was succeeded as Earl of Derby by his younger brother, William. But the Baronies of Strange (of Knokyn) [1299], Mohun (of Dunster) [1299], and Stanley [1456], fell into abeyance between his daughters and coheirs. The Barony of Strange (of Knokyn) was, however, improperly assumed by the succeeding Earls of Derby, and being, erroneously, supposed, in 1628, to belong to them, gave occasion to a writ of that date whereby a new Barony of the name of "Strange" was created.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinando_Stanley,_5th_Earl_of_Derby

  • ____________________________
  • Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby1
  • M, #13792, b. 1559, d. 16 April 1594
  • Last Edited=13 Dec 2012
  • Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby was born in 1559. He was the son of Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derby and Lady Margaret Clifford.1 He married Alice Spencer, daughter of Sir John Spencer and Katherine Kitson, circa 1580.1 He died on 16 April 1594.1
  • He graduated from St. John's College, Oxford University, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, in 1589 with a Master of Arts (M.A.).1 He succeeded to the title of 13th Lord Strange, of Knokyn on 28 January 1588/89, in his father's lifetime.1 He was 13th Lord (Baron) Strange (of Knokyn) (as which called up to House Lds /3 vp) on 19 February 1592.3 He held the office of Sovereign Lord of the Isle of Man.1 He succeeded to the title of 9th Lord Mohun on 25 September 1593.1 He succeeded to the title of 6th Lord Stanley [E., 1456] on 25 September 1593.1 He succeeded to the title of 5th Earl of Derby [E., 1485] on 25 September 1593.1 He held the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire in 1594.1 He held the office of Vice-Admiral of Lancashire and Cheshire in 1594.1 He held the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire in 1594.1 On his death, the Baronies of Stanley, Strange and Mochun fell into abeyance between his daughters.1
  • Children of Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby and Alice Spencer
    • 1.Lady Anne Stanley+4 b. May 1580, d. c Oct 1647
    • 2.Lady Frances Stanley+5 b. May 1583, d. 11 Mar 1635/36
    • 3.Lady Elizabeth Stanley+3 b. 6 Jan 1587/88, d. 20 Jan 1633
  • Citations
  • 1.[S37] BP2003 volume 1, page 1101. See link for full details for this source. Hereinafter cited as. [S37]
  • 2.[S3409] Caroline Maubois, "re: Penancoet Family," e-mail message to Darryl Roger Lundy, 2 December 2008. Hereinafter cited as "re: Penancoet Family."
  • 3.[S37] BP2003. [S37]
  • 4.[S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume III, page 86. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.
  • 5.[S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume VI, page 442.
  • From: http://www.thepeerage.com/p1380.htm#i13792
  • ____________________________
  • Spencer (pre 1603)
  • Spencer, of Althorp, co. Northampton (pre 1603)
  • Sir John Spencer MP, of Wormleighton, co. Warwick, and Althorp, co. Northampton
  • born 1524
  • mar. bef. Oct 1545 Katherine Kitson (bur. at Great Brington, co. Northampton), first cousin of Margaret Kitson, wife of John Washington, of Warton, co. Lancaster, the direct ancestor of Gen George Washington, 1st President of the United States of America, and 1st dau. of Sir Thomas Kitson, of Hengrave, co. Suffolk, Sheriff of London 1533, by his wife Margaret Donnington, later Countess of Bath, only child and hrss. of John Donnington, of Stoke Newington, co. Middlesex, and Donnington, co. York
  • children
    • 1. Sir John Spencer MP, of .... etc.
    • 6. Alice Spencer (d. 26 Mar 1637; bur. at Harefield, co. Middlesex), mar. (1) bef. 1580 Ferdinando [Stanley], 5th Earl of Derby, and (2) 20 Oct 1600 as his third wife Thomas [Egerton], 1st Viscount Brackley, and had issue by her first husband
  • From: http://www.cracroftspeerage.co.uk/online/ - Search site for Spencer
  • _____________________
  • The Visitation of the county of Warwick in the year 1619. Taken by William Camden, Clarenceaux king of arms (1877) Vol. 12
  • http://archive.org/details/visitationcount01britgoog
    • Spencer - CHART Pg.282-285
  • http://archive.org/stream/visitationcount01britgoog#page/n311/mode/1up
  • Pg.285
  • Joh's Spencer de Elthorp in Comitat. Northamp. miles. = Katherina fil. Tho. Kitson de Comitat. Suff. militis.; ch: Alicia (m. Ferdinan. Comitis Darbiae & Tho. Egerton), Mary (m. Edw. Aston), Joh'es (m. Margareta Catlin), Katherina (m. Tho. Leigh), Elizab. (m. Georgij Carye), Margareta (m. Egidij Alington & Edw. Elrington), Anna (m. Will'i Monteagle & Henrici Compton & Rob'ti Dorset). Willi'm (m. Margareta Bowier), Ricus (m. Elinora Brokett), Thomas (m. Maria' Cheeke) Spencer.
  • Alicia uxor Ferdinan. Comitis Darbiae 2 ux. Tho. Egerton Dn's Ellesmer et Cancellarius Angliae.
  • ____________________________
  • Collins's peerage of England; genealogical, biographical, and historical (1812)
  • http://archive.org/details/collinsspeerage_01coll
  • http://archive.org/stream/collinsspeerage_01coll#page/n411/mode/1up
  • Pg.386
  • Sir John Spencer, the only son, .... etc.
  • http://archive.org/stream/collinsspeerage_01coll#page/n412/mode/1up
  • Pg. 387
  • He died November 8th, 1586, having married Katherine daughter of Sir Thomas Kitson, of Hengrave in Suffolk, Knight, by whom he had issue; first Sir John Spencer, Knight; second, Thomas Spencer, of Claredon in Warwickshire, Esq.; third, Sir William Spencer, of Yarnton, com. oxford, Knight, fourth, Richard Spencer, of Offley in Hertfordshire, Esq.; fifth, Edward Spencer, who died without issue; sixth, Margaret married to Giles Allington of Horseheath in Cambridgeshire, Esq. and afterwards to Edward Eldrington, Esq.; seventh, Elizabeth married to George Lord Hunsdon; eighth, Katherine, wife of Sir Thomas Leigh, of Stoneley in Warwickshire, Knight; ninth, Mary married to Sir Edward Aston of Tixhall in Staffordshire, Knight; tenth, Anne, wife of William Lord Monteagle who had no issue by her; and afterwards married to Henry Lord Compton; and lastly to Robert Sackville, son and heir of Thomas Lord Buckhurst, lord treasurer; eleventh, Alice, married to Ferdinando, Earl of Derby, and then to Sir Thomas Egerton, Knight, lord keeper of the great seal.
  • ___________________
  • Ferninando STANLEY (5° E. Derby)
  • Born: ABT 1559, London, England
  • Died: 16 Apr 1594, Ormskirk, Lancashire, England
  • Buried: Ormskirk
  • Notes: See his Biography.
  • Father: Henry STANLEY (4° E. Derby)
  • Mother: Margaret CLIFFORD (C. Derby)
  • Married: Alice SPENCER (C. Derby) BEF 1580
  • Children:
    • 1. Elizabeth STANLEY (C. Huntingdon)
    • 2. Anne STANLEY (B. Chandos of Sudeley / C. Castleheaven)
    • 3. Frances STANLEY
  • From: http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/STANLEY1.htm#Ferninando STANLEY (5° E. Derby)
  • Eldest surviving of four sons, to Sir Henry Stanley, 4º E. Derby, and Margaret Clifford. Born of ancient royal blood on both sides of his family, Lord Ferdinando was considered the Queen’s Heir Apparent.
  • Having matriculated at the age of thirteen into the University of Oxford, he was called to Court a year later by the Queen herself "to be shaped in good manners". Later, he was summoned to Parliament v.p. (28 Jan 1588/9) in his father's Barony of Strange (of Knokyn) as Lord Strange. 19 Feb 1592/3, by writs directed "Ferdinando D'no Straunge". A supporter of the arts, Lord Strange enjoyed, music, dance, poetry, and singing; but above all he loved the theatre. He was the patron of several poets, authors, and playwrights, including, among others: Christopher Marlowe, Robert Greene, Edmund Spenser, and William Shakespeare. Shakespeare may have been employed by Strange in his early years. Strange's began as a troupe of acrobats and tumblers in London in the early 1580s, but in 1588 the company was reorganized, emphasizing acting. By 1590, Strange's was allied with Admiral's Men, performing at The Theatre (owned by James Burbage, father of Richard; he became the troupe's leading tragedian). In 1593, Lord Strange became Earl Derby, changing the company's name to Derby's Men. Scholars believe that Shakespeare was involved with Strange's as both actor and playwright. The troupe produced "Titus Andronicus" and "Henry VI". In 1603, Shakespeare's troupe received a patent from James I allowing them to style themselves the King's Men.
  • He had married Alice Spencer in 1579; in his last days, dreaming that his lady was "most dangerously sick to death", he started weeping from his bed, raised an alarm, called out for help, and could not be comforted until he found her well.
  • Alice Spencer was the baby of the six daughters and one son of Sir John Spencer of Althorp and Catherine Kytson.
  • Ferdinando was "of an exalted genius as well as birth", and during the absence of his father on State business, discharged the duties, of the Lieutenancies of Lancashire and Cheshire with great credit and ability,. He was himself a poet and author, and enjoyed the society of the eminent men of letters who have made the reign of Elizabeth famous. Spencer, the poet, personified Ferdindando as "Amyntas", and his Countess as "Amaryllis". In 1610, a collection of English poems, entitled "Belvedere; or the Garden of the Muses" was published, and Ferdinando's were included in that work, but none of the poems bear the signature of the noble lord, and the identity is to a great extent a matter of conjecture.
  • The death of this Earl was a most mysterious one. A number of rebels, who hid fled to foreign countries, sent over a man named Richard Hesketh to urge Earl Ferdinando to set up a claim to the crown of England by right of his descent from Mary, Queen Dowager of France, the second daughter of Henry VII, and younger sister to Henry VIII. The Heskeths were ancient retainers of the Stanley family and were family friends, which is why Richard was chosen to approach him about the matter that has come to be known as "The Hesketh Affair". Threatening that unless he undertook the project, and conceal the messengers and instigators of it, he should shortly die in a most wretched manner; but if he complied, he might be assured of powerful assistance. Ferdinando rejected the proposition with scorn and indignation.
  • The unexpected death of Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby, on 16 Apr 1594 was an event of major political importance in the later years of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Supposed to have been poisoned by the Jesuits, his gentleman of horse was greatly suspected of administering the poison, for on the same day that the Earl was attacked, he fled on one of the best horses, and was never heard of again. His death was so significant that the historian John Stow recorded his illness in great detail. Ferdinando left three daughters, but no sons. The Earldom of Derby devolved on his brother and heir male, William. But the Baronies of Strange (of Knokyn) [1299], Mohun (of Dunster) [1299], and Stanley [1456], fell into abeyance between his daughters and coheirs. The Barony of Strange (of Knokyn) was, however, improperly assumed by the succeeding Earls of Derby, and being, erroneously, supposed, in 1628, to belong to them, gave occasion to a writ of that date whereby a new Barony of the name of "Strange" was created.
  • From: http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/Bios/FerdinandoStanley(5EDerby).htm
  • __________________
  • EGERTON, Thomas I (1540-1617), of Lincoln's Inn, Islington, York House and Harefield, Mdx. and of Chester.
  • b. 23 Jan. 1540, illegit. s. of Sir Richard Egerton of Ridley, Cheshire by Alice Sparke. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1556; L. Inn 1560, called 1572. m. (1) bef. 1576, Elizabeth (d.1588), da. of Thomas Ravenscroft of Bretton, Flints., 2s. John and Thomas II 1da.; (2) privately 1597, Elizabeth (d.1600), da. of William More I, sis. of Sir George More of Loseley, wid. of Richard Polsted and John Wolley, s.p.; (3) 1600, Alice, da. of Sir John Spencer†, of Althorp, Northants., wid. of Ferdinando, 5th Earl of Derby, s.p. Kntd. 1594; cr. Baron Ellesmere 1603, Visct. Brackley 1616.2
  • From: http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1558-1603/member/egerton-thomas-i-1540-1617
  • __________________
  • Links
  • http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1509-1558/member/spencer-sir-john-1524-86
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Stanley,_Countess_of_Castlehaven
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_Brydges,_5th_Baron_Chandos
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mervyn_Tuchet,_2nd_Earl_of_Castlehaven
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Egerton,_1st_Viscount_Brackley
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Egerton,_1st_Earl_of_Bridgewater
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Elizabeth_Stanley
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Hastings,_5th_Earl_of_Huntingdon
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Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby's Timeline

1559
1559
London, England
1580
May 1580
Age 21
October 5, 1580
Age 21
1583
May 1583
Age 24
Derby, England
1588
1588
Age 29
Sudeley, , Gloucestershire, England
1594
April 16, 1594
Age 35
Ormskirk, Lancashire, England
May 6, 1594
Age 35
Ormskirk, Lancashire, England