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Mary Bassett (Roper)

Also Known As: "Mary Clarke"
Birthdate: (40)
Birthplace: Kent, England
Death: March 20, 1572 (36-44)
London, Middlesex, England
Immediate Family:

Daughter of William Roper, MP, of Well Hall and Margaret More
Wife of Stephen Clarke and James Bassett, MP
Mother of Phillip Bassett and Charles Bassett
Sister of Elizabeth Bray; Margaret Dawtry; Thomas Roper, Eltham and Anthony Roper

Occupation: Translator
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Mary Bassett

Mary Basset (died 1572; born Mary Roper; also Mary Clarke) was a translator of works into the English language.

As the daughter of Margaret Roper and William Roper and the granddaughter of Sir Thomas More, she had an outstanding education; her tutors included John Christopherson.[1]

She married first Stephen Clarke, but no children came of this union; after his death, she later married James Basset, by June 1556.[2]

Mary's will of 1566 is strongly Roman Catholic, and mentions several objects that had belonged to Thomas More.[7] She died at London, 20 March 1572.


At some time between September 1553[28] and June 1556[29] James Basset married (as her second husband) Mary Roper (died 20 March 1572[30]), daughter of William Roper (1495/6-1578), of St Dunstan's, Canterbury, of Eltham, Kent and of Chelsea, Middlesex, several times an MP for various constituencies, by his wife Margaret More, daughter of Sir Thomas More (1478 to 1535), Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII and opponent to the Protestant Reformation. She was the widow of Stephen Clarke.[31]

Mary was one of the gentlewomen of Queen Mary's privy chamber and at her accession was one of nine ladies attending her, together with Anne Basset, James' sister, on her journey from the Tower of London to the Palace of Westminster on 30 September 1553, the day before her coronation.[32] She was a noted scholar of Greek and Latin and translated the Ecclesiastical History by Eusebius and the works of other of the early Church Fathers, as mentioned by Nicholas Harpsfield (died 1575) in his Life of More.[33] She also translated the Treaty on the Passion by her grandfather Sir Thomas More, which was published in William Rastell's 1557 edition of More's works.[34]

He had by Mary Roper the following progeny:

Philip Basset (born May 1557[35]), eldest son and heir, who was named after his father's master Phillip II of Spain, who gave presents to Mary Roper on her marriage and was godfather by proxy to Philip Basset at his christening.[36] The Spanish ambassador, count de Feria, gave from King Philip "a great gilt cup", later mentioned in James' will.[37] He trained as a lawyer entering Lincolns Inn on 8 October 1572, from which he was later expelled for recusancy. He was jailed in the Fleet, but probably escaped to Ireland. He married a sister of Richard Verney of Compton Verney in Warwickshire, but had a difficult life due to his adherence to the Catholic religion. By 1595 his fortunes had almost entirely disappeared.[38]

Charles Basset, 2nd son, born posthumously 1558/9. He too suffered for his recusancy. He was arrested in 1581 as having been associated with the Jesuit priests Edmund Campion (died 1581) and Robert Persons (died 1610) and the Jesuit mission of that year. He was admitted to the English College in Rome in November 1581 with a letter of introduction from Persons to the Rector describing him as " a youth of an illustrious and wealthy family and the great-grandson of Sir Thomas More with talent, manners, virtues worthy of himself and his ancestors". His health broke down in 1583 and he returned to France and died "a most holy death" at Rheims, bequeathing all his possessions to the English College in Rome.[39]

By John A. Wagner, Susan Walters Schmid "'Mary Bassett"

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Mary Bassett's Timeline

Kent, England
May 1557
Age 25
Age 26
London, Middlesex, England
March 20, 1572
Age 40
London, Middlesex, England