Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, MP

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About Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, MP

from Wikipedia: Sir Nicholas Throckmorton (or Throgmorton) (c. 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. Early years

Nicholas Throckmorton was the fourth of eight sons of Sir George Throckmorton of Coughton Court in Warwickshire and Katherine, daughter of Nicholas, Lord Vaux of Harrowden, and 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 wife of Henry VIII. He got acquainted with young princess Elizabeth when he was serving in the household of the former queen and her new husband Thomas Seymour and became a close confidante. In his youth he also became favourable to the Protestant reformation.

When Seymour was executed in 1546, Throckmorton managed to distance himself from his affairs and eventually became the part of the circle of John Dudley and confidante of the young king Edward VI.

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

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.


  • 'Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, Chief Butler of England & Wales, Chamberlain of the Exchequer1,2,3
  • 'M, b. 1515, d. 12 February 1571
  • Father Sir George Throckmorton, Sheriff of Warwickshire & Leicestershire1 b. c 1480, d. 6 Aug 1552
  • Mother Katherine Vaux1 b. c 1487, d. 1571
  • ' Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, Chief Butler of England & Wales, Chamberlain of the Exchequer was born in 1515 at Paulerspury, Northamptonshire, England.1 He married Anne Carew, daughter of Sir Nicholas Carew, Sheriff of Surrey & Sussex and Elizabeth Bryan, in 1541.1,2,3 Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, Chief Butler of England & Wales, Chamberlain of the Exchequer died on 12 February 1571 at London, Middlesex, England.1,3 He was buried on 21 February 1571 at London, Middlesex, England.1
  • 'Family Anne Carew b. c 1520, d. c 1581
  • Child
    • ◦Sir Arthur Throckmorton+1 b. 1567, d. Jul 1626
  • Citations
  • 1.[S31] Unknown author, Wikipedia.
  • 2.[S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. I, p. 195.
  • 3.[S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. II, p. 308.
  • _______________
  • 'Nicholas THROCKMORTON (Sir)
  • 'Born: 1515, Paulerspury, Northants, England
  • 'Died: 12 Feb 1570, London, Middlesex, England
  • 'Buried: 21 Feb 1569/70, St. Catherine Cree Church, London, Middlesex, England
  • Notes: See his Biography.
  • Father: George THROCKMORTON of Coughton (Sir Knight)
  • Mother: Catherine VAUX
  • 'Married: Anne CAREW 1541
  • Children:
    • 1. Edward THROCKMORTON (b. 1544)
    • 2. William THROCKMORTON
    • 3. Arthur THROCKMORTON (Sir)
    • 4. Robert THROCKMORTON
    • 5. Nicholas THROCKMORTON (Sir)
    • 6. Frances THROCKMORTON (b. 1562)
    • 7. Elizabeth THROCKMORTON
    • 8. Thomas THROCKMORTON (b. 1566)
    • 9. Henry THROCKMORTON (b. 1567)
    • 10. Son THROCKMORTON
    • 11. Son THROCKMORTON
    • 12. Son THROCKMORTON
    • 13. Dau. THROCKMORTON
    • The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.
  • 'Born 1515/16, fourth son of Sir George Throckmorton, and brother of Anthony, Clement, George, John, Kenelm and Robert. Married by 1553, Anne, dau. of Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington, Surrey, by whom he had ten sons, inc. Arthur and Nicholas; and three daughters. Knighted Jan/May 1551. Page, household of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond by 1532-6; servant, household of William, Baron Parr, later Earl of Essex and Marquess of Northampton by 1543; sewer, household of Queen Catherine Parr by 1544-7 or 8; gent. privy chamber by 1549-53; under treasurer, Tower II mint 25 Dec. 1549-24 Jun 1552; keeper, Brigstock park, Northants. 14 Sep 1553-d.; j.p. Northants. 1558/59-d.; Ambassador to France 1563-4, to Scotland 1565, 1567; chamberlain, the Exchequer 21 Jun 1564-d.; chief butler, Eng. and Wales 28 Nov 1565-d. Aged 35 at Gardiner's trial in Jan 1551, Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 148, and 46 in 1562.
  • 'As ‘a brother fourth and far from hope of land’ Nicholas Throckmorton began his career in the service of Henry VIII's illegitimate son the Duke of Richmond, presumably with the help of his uncle Sir William Parr, who was Richmond's chamberlain. In 1532 he accompanied Richmond to France for the meeting of the King with Francois I at Calais and stayed on there with his master for nearly a year, learning French ‘though nothing readily’. After Richmond's death in 1536 Throckmorton's prospects were slender until his mother persuaded Parr's nephew and namesake to take him into service: it was under the younger Parr that he served on the Scottish border in 1543. He had obtained a small annuity from Pipewell abbey before the Dissolution, and when his cousin Catherine Parr married the King he and his brother Clement received appointments in her household. In 1544 he returned to France, this time as a captain in the army which took Boulogne. His election to the Parliament of the following year he doubtless owed to the Queen, who was the principal landowner in the neighbourhood of Maldon. It was also through her favour that in 1546 he was granted a lease of two Hertfordshire manors. At court he moved increasingly in Protestant circles, becoming acquainted with Anne Askew whom he visited in prison.
  • 'In 1547 Throckmorton fought under the Protector Somerset's command in Scotland and for bringing the news of Pinkie to Edward VI he received an annuity of £100. According to a family tradition he gained the young King's affection, and his knighting early in 1551 shortly before going on an embassy to France was the occasion for one of the King's rare outbursts of high spirits. In the first Parliament of the reign he sat for Devizes, which formed part of Queen Catherine's jointure and which had returned his brother Clement to the previous Parliament. Catherine's death in Sep 1548, and the subsequent downfall of her husband Admiral Seymour, did not harm Throckmorton, who had openly disapproved of Seymour's conduct and stood closer to his own master, now Marquess of Northampton. He also appears not to have been compromised by the fall of Somerset; on the contrary, his appointment in the privy chamber and his under treasurership of the mint look like a reward for his part in that episode. The Commons Journal does not mention Throckmorton, but he was later to remind Nicholas Hare and William Stanford that he had heard them expound to the House ‘the ambiguities and doubts of [the treason] law sincerely, and without affectations’; he presumably assisted in the passage of the private Act confirming the legality of Northampton's second marriage (5 and 6 Edw. VI, no. 30), and another likely to have interested him was the Act for the restoration in blood of Francis Carew, who was perhaps already his brother-in-law (2 and 3 Edw. VI, no. 42). In Jun 1552 Throckmorton, in company with a number of other officials there, gave up his appointment at the mint, for which he was shortly afterwards recompensed by a further annuity of £100. His acceptability to the Northumberland regime is borne out by the inclusion of his name in the Council letter recommending selected gentlemen for return to the Parliament of Mar 1553: he was put forward as knight of the shire for Northampton and was duly elected.
  • 'Throckmorton's conduct during the succession crisis is not easy to determine. He signed the device settling the crown upon Lady Jane Grey, and when during her brief reign she agreed to be godmother to Edward Underhill's son Anne Throckmorton acted as her deputy. On the other hand, he is supposed to have sent word of the King's death to Mary, and when he challenged Sir Thomas Tresham's proclamation of Mary at Northampton it may have been on the ground that Tresham was not sheriff.
  • 'There was certainly no immediate sign of disfavour: on 24 Jul he was appointed to conduct the Queen on her progress to London, and on 14 Sep he was granted the keepership of the parks at Brigstock, Northamptonshire, forfeited by the Marquess of Northampton's attainder. In the Parliament of Oct 1553 he and his brother John sat for Old Sarum, presumably on the nomination of their kinsman William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke. During this Parliament the Act legalising Northampton's second marriage was repealed (1 Mary st. 2, no. 30): neither brother is known to have opposed this measure, which had the Queen's approval, but Sir Nicholas Throckmorton joined the opposition to the reintroduction of Catholicism, being noted on the list of Members as having ‘stood for the true religion’. Some months later he recalled hearing Sir Richard Southwell speak against the Spanish marriage in the Commons, where ‘I did see the whole consent of the realm against it, and I, a hearer, but no speaker’.
  • 'Even if Throckmorton did not speak against the marriage of the Queen with Felipe of Spain in the House, he was thought to be active against it outside and to have conspired with Sir Thomas Wyatt to prevent it. On 1 Jan 1554 he was bound over in a recognizance of £2,000 to be of good conduct, and on the following 20 Feb, after the failure of Wyatt's rebellion, he was committed to the Tower. On 17 Apr he was indicted of treason at Guildhall and brought to trial on a charge of being the ‘principal deviser, procurer and contriver of the late rebellion: and that Wyatt was but his minister’. To the discomfiture of the crown he put up such a masterly defence that he was acquitted, but in the expectation that a further charge could be brought against him he was not released until 18 Jan 1555, when he retired to his home in Northamptonshire. On the discovery of the Dudley conspiracy he feared that he would again be suspected, and on 20 Jun 1556 he fled to France. He protested his innocence to the English Ambassador and gave some colour to this by not mixing with refugees known to have supported the conspiracy. During the autumn the Queen allowed his wife to send him some money, and on 1 May 1557 she pardoned him and restored to him the property confiscated on his flight. Later in the year he served under the Earl of Pembroke at the battle of St. Quentin. On his return to England he started a correspondence with Princess Elizabeth, and on the death of Queen Mary he presumed to advise her successor on ministerial appointments.
  • 'Throckmorton was ambassador to France from 1559-1562. His wife Anne refused to live there and was instrumental in having him replaced by Sir Thomas Smith. In 1569, Throckmorton was again imprisoned, this time on suspicion of supporting the Northern Rebellion. He was soon released, but he died two years later, suddenly, while eating a salad at the Earl of Leicester's house.
  • 'Elizabeth shared Sir Richard Morison's belief that Throckmorton was a ‘Machiavellist’, and although her reign saw his fortunes take an upward turn he never attained high position and his prospects were again clouded in 1569 by his suspected complicity with Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk.
  • 'He died in London on 12 Feb 1571 and was buried in the church of St. Catherine Cree, Aldgate.
  • Sources:
  • R. G. Strong, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits
  • A. L. Rowse, Ralegh and the Throckmortons
  • D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies
  • _____

First Cousin of Henry VIII's 6th wife, Queen Catherine Parr.

  • _______
  • 'Sir Nicholas Throckmorton (or Throgmorton) (c. 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.
  • 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 the Lady Elizabeth FitzHugh, and 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 wife of Henry VIII. He got acquainted with young princess Elizabeth when he was serving in the household of the former queen and her new husband Thomas Seymour and became a close confidante. In his youth he also became favourable to the Protestant reformation.
  • 'After the execution of Thomas Seymour in 1549 and the downfall of the Duke of Somerset in the same year, Throckmorton managed to distance himself from those affairs and eventually became the part of the circle of John Dudley and confidante of the young king Edward VI.
  • 'He sat in Parliament from 1545 to 1567, initially as the member 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.
  • '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.
  • Tudor successions
  • 'After the death of Edward VI in 1553, during the short-lived attempt to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne, Throckmorton tried to keep contact with both supporters of both her and Queen Mary Tudor. Eventually he began to support the latter.
  • 'However, in January 1554 he was suspected of complicity in Wyatt's Rebellion and arrested. Later historians have suspected he was at least involved either because of his Protestantism or due to his dismay on the growing Spanish influence in the court.
  • 'Throckmorton was brought to trial at the Guildhall on 17 April of that year. He managed to convince the jury of his innocence even if the court was openly hostile to him. The judges included Sir Roger Cholmeley who was trying to impress the Catholic Mary. As a result, the court fined and imprisoned the jury and sent Throckmorton to the Tower. When he was released the next year, he fled to France in exile. Though there were people who wanted to put him to trial again, he was pardoned in 1557, and was employed by Queen Mary.
  • Elizabeth's court
  • Ambassador to France
  • 'After Elizabeth's accession in November 1558, Throckmorton rose rapidly into favour due to his personal acquaintance to her, sending her advice in the formation of her government. She followed some of that advice. He became Chief Butler and chamberlain of the exchequer, and from May 1559 to April 1564 he was ambassador to France Throckmorton continued to send letters and messengers with advice to the Queen and she often followed them.
  • 'In these years Throckmorton also became acquainted with Mary, Queen of Scots. He conducted the negotiations after her return to Scotland, and though he supported the Reformation, he became her close friend, willing to assist her, and do her personal favours.
  • 'As an ambassador Throckmorton encouraged Elizabeth to aid the Huguenots, and surreptitiously took a part in the war of religion. When Throckmorton returned to France from a brief trip to England in 1560, Roman Catholic leader, the Duke of Guise imprisoned him as a persona non grata. Guise was convinced that Throckmorton had been involved with the Tumult of Aboise, a Huguenot plot. Throckmorton later remarked that he was afraid he would be killed but was later released and retained his post as an ambassador.
  • 'In 1562, when religious violence began to intensify in France, Throckmorton wanted to support 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 Huguenots in what was later called the Newhaven expedition. English troops garrisoned Le Havre in October 1562 but soon fell afoul with Huguenots. After the negotiations, the Huguenots turned against the English. After 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 begun 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 a marriage of Queen Mary and Darnley, but he failed. After the murder of Darnley, Elizabeth sent Throckmorton to Scotland in June 1567. The Scottish barons had just imprisoned Queen Mary, and Elizabeth wished the barons to restore Mary to her authority. Throckmorton himself had recommended that Elizabeth should support the Barons.
  • 'Throckmorton was working against his own advice and had contradictory orders from both his Queen and Sir William Cecil. The Scottish barons knew him as a friend of Queen 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 barons. Throckmorton tried to secure the personal safety of the Queen Mary but offended Elizabeth when she showed his instructions to the Scottish barons and was recalled in August.
  • '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 might have erroneously believed that 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.
  • 'Nicholas Throckmorton died on 12 February 1571, and is buried in the church of St. Catherine Cree, Aldgate, where there is a monument to his memory.
  • Family and legacy
  • 'Throckmorton married Anne Carew, daughter of Sir Nicholas Carew, a Knight of the Garter, and they had ten sons and three daughters. Their daughter Elizabeth became the wife of Sir Walter Raleigh. 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 that he was a gray eminence behind Robert Dudley.
  • 'At the time of his death he 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.
  • References
  • 1.^ [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.
  • Notes
  • The Trial of Nicholas Throckmorton (ISBN 0-9697512-8-1), by Annabel Patterson (derived from Holinshed's Chronicles)
  • Biography from the History of Parliament
  • Sebastian Walsh – Most Trusty and Beloved (History Today September 2005)
  • Portrait of Sir Nicholas in the National Portrait Gallery
  • ______________
  • 'Sir Nicholas Throckmorton1
  • 'M, #146598, b. 1515, d. 1571
  • Last Edited=6 Mar 2009
  • ' Sir Nicholas Throckmorton was born in 1515.3 He was the son of Sir George Throckmorton and Katherine Vaux.3 He married Anne Carew, daughter of Sir Nicholas Carew.3 He died in 1571.3
  • ' Sir Nicholas Throckmorton held the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) for Malden between 1545 and 1567.3 He was invested as a Knight in 1547.3 He fought in the Battle of Boulogne in 1549, with distinction.3 He fought in the Battle of St. Quentin in 1557.3 He held the office of Ambassador to France in 1560.3 He held the office of Ambassador to Scotland in 1565.3 He lived at Pauler's Pury, Northamptonshire, England.3
  • 'Children of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton and Anne Carew
    • Sir Nicholas Throckmorton+1
    • Elizabeth Throckmorton4 b. 1565, d. 1647
  • Citations
  • [S15] George Edward Cokayne, editor, The Complete Baronetage, 5 volumes (no date (c. 1900); reprint, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 1983), volume V, page 26. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Baronetage.
  • [S3409] Caroline Maubois, "re: Penancoet Family," e-mail message from unknown author e-mail (France) to Darryl Roger Lundy, 2 December 2008. Hereinafter cited as "re: Penancoet Family."
  • [S34] Peter Townend, editor, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 105th edition (London, U.K.: Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1970), page 2643. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Peerage, 105th ed.
  • [S1281] Dr. Andrew Gray, "re: Sir Robert George Maxwell Throckmorton, 11th Bt.," e-mail message from <e-mail address> (London, U.K.) to Darryl Lundy, 28 February 2005. Hereinafter cited as "re: Robert George Maxwell Throckmorton."
  • --------------------

George Throckmorton had nine children. One birth date given for the eldest, Nicholas, is c.1551. The others are Elizabeth, Sarah, Henry, John, Jane, Michael, George, and Susan or Susanna. The identity of their mother is unclear. -------------------- Family and Education

b. 1515/16, 4th s. of Sir George Throckmorton†, and bro. of Anthony, Clement, George†, John I, Kenelm†, and Robert†. m. by 1553, Anne, da. of Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington, Surr., 10s. inc. Arthur and Nicholas 3da. Kntd. Jan./May 1551.1

Offices Held

Page, household of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond by 1532-6; servant, household of William, Baron Parr by 1543; sewer, household of Queen Catherine Parr by 1544-7 or 8; gent. privy chamber by 1549-53; undertreasurer of the mint 25 Dec. 1549-24 June 1552; keeper, Brigstock park, Northants. 14 Sept. 1553-d.; j.p. Northants. from c.1559; ambassador to France 1563-4, to Scotland 1565, 1567; chamberlain of the Exchequer from 21 June 1564; chief butler of England and Wales from 28 Nov. 1565.2


Though from the Catholic side of the family, Throckmorton believed that a protestant foreign policy was necessary for the defence of England and the recovery of Calais. He remained in England for much of Mary’s reign, ‘stood for the true religion’ in the Parliament of October 1553, and survived implication in Wyatt’s rebellion. But the possibility that he might be accused of complicity in the Henry Dudley conspiracy of 1556 decided him to go abroad. In the event he was pardoned, his property was restored in May 1557, and by early 1558 he was back in England exercising his old office of keeper of Brigstock park. He was thus better placed than most protestants to communicate with Princess Elizabeth at Hatfield.3

He was sufficiently in Elizabeth’s confidence to believe that at her accession she would appreciate his suggestions for filling a number of appointments. As principal secretary he suggested, safely enough, Sir William Cecil, but by and large his advice on offices was ignored. His attitude to the Marian Privy Councillors is interesting. He thought that Heath, Catholic archbishop of York, should for the time being be retained as chancellor, along with many of the late Queen’s Council. ‘For religion and religious proceedings’ it was necessary ‘to require the Lords to have a good eye that there be no innovations, no tumults or breach of orders’. As a man who had lived through the disorders occasioned by Somerset’s religious policy, Throckmorton was anxious that the new reign should not run into trouble through the rash activities of his protestant friends. He suggested ‘making you a better party in the Lords House of Parliament [and] for appointing a meet Common House to your proceeding’. Some years earlier, Sir Richard Morison† had called him a ‘Machiavellist’, and the ‘advice’ to Elizabeth bears out this description.

It shall not be meet that either the old [privy councillors] or the new should wholly understand what you mean, but to use them as instruments to serve yourself with ...

Elizabeth employed Throckmorton, during the critical days just after her accession, in various urgent duties (controlling the ports, examining Cardinal Pole’s papers, arranging the state entry into London), but he never attained a major government post.4

Throckmorton was returned to Parliament for west-country boroughs in 1559 and 1563 by courtesy of the 2nd Earl of Bedford. There is no mention of him in the defective 1559 journal, or that of 1563. In the 1566 session he was put on committees dealing with law reform (4 Oct.) and the succession (31 Oct.), and was one of the 30 Members of the Commons summoned on 5 Nov. to hear the Queen’s message about the succession. His reputation rests, for good or ill, on his work as a diplomat. His knowledge of Elizabethan affairs was unrivalled and he had a flair for intelligence. The defence of England was his preoccupation and he was convinced that the only hope for the survival of protestantism in Europe was support for the Huguenots in France, and for the rebel lords in Scotland. By about 1564, therefore, he became a follower of Sir Robert Dudley and had begun to think that Cecil was not only opposing the active policy, but trying to keep exponents of it, such as Throckmorton himself, off the Council. Soon Cecil, then the Queen, began to distrust him. He was one of the first to appreciate that Spain, and not France, was England’s real enemy. Elizabeth was never fully converted to this view, and, certainly in the 1560s, she was concerned to keep the Spanish door ajar. Here again the Earl of Bedford proved his ally, supporting his request for recall from France in 1563, and four years later, as governor of Berwick, doing all he could to forward the policy of support for the Scottish lords, even against Elizabeth’s instructions.5

During Throckmorton’s first embassy to France, beginning in May 1559, he corresponded regularly and frankly with Cecil. His position was difficult. He refused, for example, to kneel at the elevation of the Host, and was ordered either to conform or to absent himself from religious services. After a visit to England from mid-November 1559 to the following January, he was increasingly suspected by the Guises, especially after the conspiracy of Amboise (March 1560), in which they accused him of being involved. Until the possibility of a marriage between Elizabeth and Dudley was over, Throckmorton’s friendship for him did not cause him to hide his conviction that the marriage would be disastrous for Elizabeth’s reputation abroad and at home. In October 1560 he wrote to his cousin, the Marquess of Northampton, that there had been speeches at the French court about Elizabeth which ‘every hair of my head stareth at’ and made his ‘ears glow to hear’.6

Elizabeth’s government thus found him a mixed asset. His position was weak, since Mary Tudor’s defeat in France had lowered England’s reputation there. Again it was necessary that Condé, Coligny and their friends should be strengthened in their opposition to the Guise Catholic interest, which might otherwise act more effectively against the protestants in Scotland; but Elizabeth shrank from the idea of going to war for the Huguenots. All the time both the Queen and Cecil were aware of the danger of his over-playing his hand, which in the event, happened. He encouraged his government to overestimate the strength of the Huguenots, and in July 1562 urgently advised the Queen to accept their offer of Le Havre. His natural impatience, as well as his growing belief in the danger of Spanish intervention on behalf of the French Catholic interest, caused him to upbraid even Cecil for dilatoriness. In the summer of 1560, on Cecil’s departure for Scotland, he had prophesied disaster.

Who can as well stand fast against the Queen’s arguments and doubtful devices? Who will speedily resolve the doubtful delays? Who shall make despatch of anything?7

But by 1562 he was becoming convinced that Dudley rather than Cecil was his chief ally with Elizabeth. In June 1562 Lord Robert and Sir Henry Sidney were godfathers to his son Robert, and early the following year it was to Dudley that he turned for support in his prolonged quarrel with Sir Thomas Smith. He had originally urged his government to send Smith to France, since he greatly respected his abilities, and even suggested him also as a useful English representative at the Council of Trent. But when Smith arrived, in September 1562, relations between the two men quickly deteriorated. Smith, though anxious to bring about the recovery of Calais (which Throckmorton’s experience led him to see was likely to alienate the Huguenots), in general adopted a less aggresive policy than his colleague, and a conflict developed in which Dudley supported Throckmorton while Cecil, though preserving outward impartiality, leaned towards Smith (who was probably carrying out government instructions). Throckmorton persuaded Elizabeth to send troops to help the Huguenots at Le Havre, but this proved an expensive mistake, and Throckmorton’s own identification with Condé’s army, late in 1562, ostensibly as a captive, prejudiced his position. In December he was taken prisoner by Catholic forces, remaining in custody until February 1563, when he retired to Le Havre and maintained liaison between Condé’s forces and the Earl of Warwick. Warwick, however, was unable to hold the town when the Huguenots failed to support him, and, after a short period in England, Throckmorton was sent back to France (June 1563) to negotiate peace terms very different from those he had envisaged. Having no safe-conduct from the French, he was arrested, remaining in prison for some time before Cecil could gain his release. Smith, he complained, did nothing to help him, and although after his release he and Smith officially co-operated in negotiations leading to the Treaty of Troyes (1 Apr. 1564), their personal relations remained bad. At one point during the negotiations both men drew their daggers and were forcibly restrained by the onlookers. After the signing of the treaty, Throckmorton returned to England, where Dudley was making strenuous (and Cecil less strenuous) but unavailing efforts to get him appointed to the Privy Council. Never a wealthy man, he had suffered financially from his period in France, and the two lucrative posts he obtained after his return (chamberlain of the Exchequer and chief butler of England), no doubt eased the burden.

Throckmorton’s next assignment was to Scotland, to try to prevent Mary Stuart’s marriage to Darnley, and encourage her to marry Leicester. He had little hope of success, and achieved none. Typically, he sent Mary a letter of advice, urging her to show clemency to the banished protestant lords. Whether or not this angered Mary Stuart, the Queen and Cecil both found it infuriating. In May 1566 he and Cecil confronted one another, in the presence of Leicester, and Throckmorton promised to do better next time. But his last mission to Scotland, in the following year, with vague instructions to bring about the release of Mary from captivity and make an agreement between her and the rebel lords, was also a failure. He came to the conclusion that it was the lords ‘who must stand her [Elizabeth] in more stead than the Queen of Scots’, and believed that they would be prepared, if they were promised support from England, to send young James to be educated there. Otherwise, they would probably turn to France. In spite of his political convictions, he personally sympathized with Mary, who wrote thanking him for the good feeling he had shown her. He tried unsuccessfully to raise a party to support her, and on Elizabeth’s instructions refused to attend the coronation of James VI. Having annoyed both sides, his recall in September 1567 followed statements in England that ‘he was esteemed to favour too much the lords’.8

This was the end of his diplomatic career. His chances with the Queen and Cecil were finally ruined when, in 1569, his implication in the Norfolk marriage plot brought him an examination before the Privy Council and a short period of imprisonment in Windsor castle. He remained under house arrest until the spring of 1570. In February he wrote a mémoire justificatif to Cecil asking him to sue for his release, and thenceforward took no further part in politics (though there was a rumour early in 1570 that he would be made vice-chamberlain) until his death in London of ‘a peripneumonia’ 12 Feb. 1571. Leicester wrote to Walsingham, who was in France, on the 14th:

We have lost on Monday our good friend Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, who died in my house, being there taken suddenly in great extremity on Tuesday before; his lungs were perished, but a sudden cold he had taken, was the cause of his sudden death; God hath his soul, and we his friends great loss of his body.

He was buried in St. Catherine Cree, Aldgate, the parish where he had his London residence, a large mansion which had belonged to the abbey of Evesham. As a country house he used Beddington, his wife’s family home in Surrey.9

About his private and domestic life not much is known. His daughter Elizabeth married Sir Walter Ralegh. His books, many of which his son Arthur bequeathed to Magdalen College, Oxford, are almost exclusively political and religious, and are heavily underlined—essentially the ‘library of a practicing diplomat’. There are scattered references to hunting and other outdoor amusements in his letters, but no indication of any marked cultural interests. Personally devout, he was opposed to the wilder puritan schemes, or to any kind of pietism. In his criticisms of Mary Tudor’s reign he deplored the policy of ‘referring all to God, without doing anything ourselves’, which he described as tempting God too far. He admitted that there was still some ‘popery’ in the English church, but wanted as much toleration as was compatible with strong government control, to make a united protestant front against the Spanish Catholic menace abroad. The Earl of Leicester appointed him as a suitable governor of his foundation for the revenues of Warwickshire preachers.10

In his will, made four days before his death, he left a life interest in lands in Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire to his widow with reversion to his eldest son. The Worcestershire lands were left to Arthur, the second son, with reversion to his younger brothers. The younger children were also otherwise provided for. Thomas, the fourth son, was to have the London property after the death of his mother, as well as £500. A similar sum and the privileges of the salt monopoly granted to Throckmorton were bequeathed to the two youngest sons and £500 to his only surviving daughter Elizabeth. The supervisors of the will included the Earl of Leicester, Sir Walter Mildmay, (Sir) John Throckmorton I and Sir William Cordell. These were all left tokens, as were the Marquess of Northampton, Sir William Cecil, Lady Warwick and Lady Stafford. Throckmorton’s death brought differing comments from various quarters: the Earl of Rutland in Paris told Cecil that the event was no source of regret to the French, but to Lord Buckhurst (Thomas Sackville), the news brought no small grief, ‘not only for his private loss, but the general loss which the Queen and the whole realm thereby suffer’. This sense of Throckmorton’s public value was summed up by Walsingham: ‘for counsel in peace and for conduct in war he has not left of like sufficiency his successor that I know’.11 His widow Anne took as her second husband Adrian Stokes.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Authors: Irene Cassidy / P. W. Hasler

Notes 1. Vis. Northants. ed. Metcalfe, 200; Camden, Annals (1717), 221; Stow, Survey of London (1720), i. 63; Nash, Worcs. i. 452; PCC 9 Daper.

2. Soc. Antiq. 1790, p. 167; APC, iv. 76, 77, 84; CPR, 1549-51, p. 137; 1553 and App. Edw. VI, p. 9; 1563-6, pp. 118, 234; CSP Dom. Add. 1547-65, pp. 503, 561; Lansd. 1218, f. 21v.
3. Bodl. e. Museo 17; DNB ; Dugdale, Warws. ii. 749-52; EHR , lxv. 91-8.
4. EHR , lxv. 91-8; A. L. Rowse, Ralegh and the Throckmortons , 25; C. Read, Cecil , 72; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 115.
5. Lyme Regis archives N23/2/19; CJ , i. 73; D’Ewes, 126; Camb. Univ. Lib. Gg. iii. 34, p. 209; CSP For. 1561-2, p. 23; 1566-8, pp. 39, 308; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 19.
6. Neale, Eliz. 99; CSP For. 1560-1, pp. 342-3, 348; EHR , lxxxi. 474-89.
7. Rowse, 38; Read, 174.
8. CSP For., CSP Span., CSP Scot. , passim; P. Forbes, A Full View of Public Transactions , i. 163-6, 206-12, 216-18, 320-4; ii. 7-14, 36-43, 61-7, 251-9, 342-4; M. Dewar, Sir Thomas Smith , passim; HMC Hatfield , xii. 255; Lansd. 102, ff. 84, 110; Strype, Sir Thomas Smith , 70, 81 et passim; Rowse, 41, 46; T. Wright, Eliz. i. 208.
9. Haynes, State Pprs. 471, 541-3, 547, 577; HMC Hatfield , i. 363, 426, 430, 435, 456, 465; Wright, i. 355; Camden, Annals (1717), 221; Stow, Survey of London , ed. Kingsford, i. 138, 142-3; ii. 290; Rowse, 46; CSP Dom. 1566-79, p. 16; CPR , 1560-3, p. 400.
10. CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 304; Rowse, 336-8.
11. PCC 9 Daper; Lansd. 117, ff. 36, 38, 39; CSP For. 1569-70, p. 407
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Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, MP's Timeline

Age 28
Age 31
Age 33
Age 44
Paulerspury, Northamptonshire, , England
April 16, 1565
Age 52
Age 53
Age 54
February 21, 1571
Age 58
St. Katherine Cree, Aldgate, London, England
February 12, 1580
Age 67
Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom