Mary Browne, countess of Southampton

Is your surname Wriothesley?

Research the Wriothesley family

Mary Browne, countess of Southampton's Geni Profile

Records for Mary Wriothesley

11,408 Records

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Related Projects

About Mary Browne, countess of Southampton

Mary Browne, July 22,1552-April, 1607, was the daughter of Anthony Browne, viscount Montagu (November 29,1528-October 19,1592) and Jane Radcliffe (1533-July 22,1552). She was brought up at Cowdray by her stepmother, Magdalen Dacre, as a devout Catholic. She married a Catholic neighbor, Henry Wriothesley, earl of Southampton (April 29,1545-October 9, 1581) on February 19,1566. Two opposing views of Mary’s life and character can be found in biographies of her son, Henry (October 6, 1573-November 10,1634). A. L. Rowse’s Shakespeare’s Southampton finds her sympathetic while G.P.V. Akrigg’s Shakespeare and the Earl of Southampton does not. In 1577, Mary’s husband suspected her of adultery with one Donesame and sought to deprive her of her children. After Southampton’s death, her daughter, Mary (1572-1607) was returned to her. In 1592, it was revealed that one of the countess’s gentlemen in waiting, Mr. Harrington, and a priest named Butler, had lived in Southampton House in London, Lady Southampton’s principal residence, in 1584, in the next chamber to her cousin, Robert Gage, one of the conspirators in the Babington Plot. At least in part to obtain protection for herself and her family, the countess remarried on May 2, 1594, choosing as her husband Sir Thomas Heneage (d. October 1595), an influential courtier. Their wedding may have been the occasion for the first performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Upon Heneage's death, Mary inherited Copt Hall, Essex. Her stepdaughter, Elizabeth Heneage, Lady Finch, guaranteed that Mary would have an annual income of £600 if Mary would pay off Heneage’s debts to the Crown, a total of some £13,000. This Mary agreed to and sold one of her own manors to raise the money. In January 1599, she married a third time, to Sir William Hervey (d.1642). When James I became king, Mary was granted a free gift of £600 from the Exchequer and her son, who had been imprisoned for his part in the Essex Rebellion, was released from the Tower of London. A. L. Rowse suggests that her estate included Shakespeare’s sonnets, written to Mary’s son, and that William Hervey was the “Mr. W.H.” who provided them to the printer in 1609. Mary was buried at Titchfield with her first husband.

view all

Mary Browne, countess of Southampton's Timeline

July 22, 1552
Age 10
Wriothesley, Staffordshire, England, (Present UK)
October 6, 1573
Age 21
November 4, 1607
Age 55