Robert Dudley’s last letter

Penelope Devereux will be following shortly – I’ve got rather engrossed in the reading!  In the meantime here’s Robert Dudley’s last letter to Elizabeth I.  On 28th August 1588, an ill Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, wrote his final letter to his queen and childhood friend, Elizabeth I. He wrote it from the home of Lady Norreys at Rycote, where he was staying on his way to Buxton, to take the waters there.   He died on the 4th September 1588.  He is thought to have died either from malaria or stomach cancer.


It read:

“I most humbly beseech your Majesty to pardon your poor old servant to be thus bold in sending to know how my gracious lady doth, and what ease of her late pains she finds, being the chiefest thing in this world I do pray for, for her to have good health and long life. For my own poor case, I continue still your medicine and find that (it) amends much better than with any other thing that hath been given me. Thus hoping to find perfect cure at the bath, with the continuance of my wonted prayer for your Majesty’s most happy preservation, I humbly kiss your foot. From your old lodging at Rycote, this Thursday morning, ready to take on my Journey, by your Majesty’s most faithful and obedient servant,



Elizabeth kept the letter in a box beside her bed for the rest of her life.  She marked it in her own hand “His last letter.”  Their relationship had changed over the years but she never fully recovered from his death.  Although Robert’s step-son the Earl of Essex stepped into Dudley’s place the world in which Elizabeth I found herself was changing.  Not only that but it has been argued that she relied on having familiar faces around her to overcome the anxiety of temperament that had haunted her since the days of Thomas Seymour.

Robert Dudley’s Last Letter

2 thoughts on “Robert Dudley’s last letter

  1. Yes read that letter long ago but always thank you for a good blog. You mentioned Seymore ,that most handsome of rouges. Did he murder his wife for the throne he desired. She my dear ancestor on a side line to my family main I have long thought her accusation may have not been through fever as study of her last days seems more and more like poison. My friends in the know seem to say it was child birth not having been cleaned out after birth that killed Kate Parr. I have some slight doubt myself. Parr women are made of iron not to be so affected and sure of themselves. By God I know that from experience. It is a subject worthy of talk. It may be or not but while such doubt is there I persist. It is like the child Mary. 3 months and vanished no trace was she smothered to death by Kates friend? Seymore was a traitor with out doubt so after his trail was Mary butchered?

    • Mary may just have faded away – child mortality rate being what it was. There is a theory that she grew up in obscurity -far fetched but possible.

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