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The Will of Sir Francis Walsingham

Farmer BullshotThe will of Sir Francis Walsingham was found hidden in a secret cabinet in his home at Barn Elmes, Surrey by William Stubbes, and others after his death in 1590.

Sir Francis WalsinghamSir Francis Walsingham (1532 – 6 April 1590) was principal secretary of state to Queen Elizabeth I from 20 December 1573 until his death and is popularly remembered as her spymaster.

Born into a well-connected family, Walsingham travelled in Europe after leaving university before embarking at the age of twenty on a career in law.

[More Information]

SIR FRANCIS WALSINGHAM, 1590. In the name of God, Amen. The twelveth daye of December in the twoe and thirtithe yere of the raigne of oure most gratious soveraigne lady Elizabeth by the grace of God quene of England, France, and Ireland, deffender of the faithe, &c. I Frauncis Walsingham, knighte, princypall secretarye unto her Majestie, beinge of good and perfect memorye (praised be Allmightie God therefore), do make, ordeyne, and declare this my last will and testamente in manner and forme folowing, that is to saye, First I bequeathe my soule, when yt shall please the Almightie God my Creator and Maker to seperate the same from this my moste synnefull earthelie and mortall bodie, to the holie Trinitye, God the father my Creator, God the sonne my onlye Redeemer, and God the holie ghoste the true Comforter; as- suringe my selfe that Jesus Christe my true and onlye Savioure of his greate and infinite mercye and goodnes will vouchesafe not only to protecte and defende me duringe the tyme of my aboade here in this transitorye earthe with his moste mercyfull protection, especiallye in this tyme wherein synne and iniquitie doth so muche abounde, but allso in mercye to graunte unto me, by encrease of faith, strength and power to make a good and Christian ende in perfecte sence and memorye, and that my soule beinge seperated from this mortall bodie may and shalbe receyved into everlastinge glorye purchased by the death of the same true and onlye Savyoure Jesus Christe. And I will that my bodie, in hope of a joyfull resurrection, be buryed without any suche extraordynarie ceremonyes as usuallye apperteyne to a man servinge in my place, in respect of the greatnes of my dcbtes, and the meane state I shall leave my wife and heire in ; chardgingc boath my executor and overseers to see this dulie accom plished accordinge to the spcciall truste and confidence I repose in them. Allso I will and give to my daughter the Lady Frauncis Sydney (a) over and besides the annuitie of twoe hundred poundes which I have allreadie given her by speciall deede allreadie executed, one other annuitie of one hundred poundes to be paied unto her (in lieu of her thirdes of her late husband Sir Philipp Sidnies landes in Lincolneshire appoynted by me to be sould,) duringe the naturall life of Dame Ursula my welbeloved wife. Item, all my debtes and legacys beinge trulie paied, satisfyed, and perfourmed, the residue of all my goodes, chattells, plate, and jewells I do give unto Dame Ursula my moste welbeloved wife (b) hopinge and assuringc my selfe that after the satisfyinge of all thinges (paieable by her as executor of this my laste will and testamente,) she will before or at such tyme as yt shall please God to call her out of this life leave and bequeathe all my leases, or so many of them as then shall remayne in her pos session unsoulde and unexpired, or that she shall be pleased to convey, to the use of my foresaied doughter the Ladie Frauncys Sydney. And I do make and ordeyne the saied Dame Ursula my most kynde and lovinge wife my trustie sole and faithfull executor of this my laste will and testamente, referringe unto her in regarde of the truste I repose in her the whole and onlie interpretacion of suche doubtes and ambiguities as maye arise in the penninge of the saied will. Lastlie I desire my most lovinge bretheren Edward Carie (c), Robert Beale (d), and William Doddington, (e), esquires (to every of whiche persons I bequeathe allso one peece of plate of tenne poundes price in token of my good affection towardes them,) to be the overseers of this my laste will and testamente, most earnestlye prayinge them with the beste councell, advice, and aide to helpe my executor in the execucion therof. In witnesse wherof to theise presentes I have subscribed my hande and name, and setto my seale, in the presence of those witnesses whose names are allso by them selves subscribed and set under this my presente laste will and testamente. Gyven and declared the daye and yere above written.

Fra. Walsingham.

Memorandum that the will above written was found in a secrett cabinett of the above named Sir Francys Walsingham, knighte, late her Majesties principall secretarye, by us whose names be under written: Septimo Aprilis, (f) 1590, and the twoe and thirtithe yere of her Maaca raigne. Thomas Heneage, John Fortescue, Robert Beale, William Gerrarde, John James, William Stubbes, Peter Probye.


(a) The only child of Sir Francis. Married to Sir Philip Sidney in 1584, and left his widow in 1586; remarried to Robert Earl of Essex, beheaded in 1600; and thirdly to Richard Earl of Clanricarde and St. Alban’s. She had one daughter, Elizabeth, born in 1585, afterwards the wife of Roger Earl of Rutland: and who died without issue Sept. 1, 1612.

(b) Daughter of Henry St. Barbe, esq. of Ashington, co. Somerset, by Eleanor, daughter of Edward Lewknor, of Trotton in Sussex. She was married first to Richard Worsley, Captain of the Isle of Wight, who died 1565; secondly to Sir Francis Walsingham. She died 1602, and was buried in St. Paul’s cathedral with ber second husband. See the pedigree of St. Barbe in Hoare’s South Wiltshire, Hundred of Frustfield, p. 10; and a notice in The Herald and Genealogist, 1862, vol. i. p. 78, of a conjoint pedigree of Walsingham and St. Barbe, now in the possession of G. F. St. Barbe, Esq.

(c) William Walsingham, father of Sir Francis, married Joice Denny; and she was remarried to Sir John Carey, K.B, His son, Sir Edward Carey, of Berkhampstead, co. Hertford was father of the first Lord Falkland. After having been for many years a groom of the privy chamber, he was made master of the jewel-house, and knighted in 1596. He died July 16, 1618.

(d) Robert Beale, one of the clerks of the council, died 1601. He married Edith St. Barbe, who died in 1628, aet. 75, and was buried at Eastington, co. Glouc.

(e) William Doddington married Christiana, sister to Sir Francis Walsingham, and widow of John Tamworth. The testator’s three overseers were thus his “bretheren,” each in a different way.

(f) The next day after his death.

commentWilliam Stubbes is probably William of Ratcliffe although this may also be William Stubbes [of Congleton] when he was living in Ratcliffe. Middlesex – very confusing.

commentWilliam Gerrarde may be related to Thomas Garrard who married Theophilia, the daughter of William Stubbes of Watchfield, possibly son of the above.

Chris Sidney 2015


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