Elizabeth Stonor, Lady Hoby, daughter of Walter Stonor of Hawton, Nottinghamshire and Fenny Compton.
While most wives in the Tudor period cannot be documented, Elizabeth seems to have kept up correspondences with her father and they are well documented for two decades. Elizabeth’s first husband, Sir William Compton died in 1528. Unfortunately for her, the jointure she was promised had not been established by the time of his death. Her second husband, Sir Walter Walshe, sued Compton’s estate in Chancery. The matter was not settled and Walshe was dead by 1538. As a widow, Elizabeth returned home and her father took up the cause instead. Letters were sent to Cromwell to discuss the matter. Stonor sent the fee for the first year, reminding him to be her “good lord” and protect her from “great wrongs”.
In 1540, Elizabeth married to Sir Philip Hoby, the son of William Hoby of Leominster by his first wife, Catherine Forster. After their marriage, the two rented their chief residence, Wreysbury, from Elizabeth’s father. Philip was a diplomat under King Henry VIII. He was also a huge supporter of the Protestant Reformation. Hoby was sent to places like Spain and Portugal. In 1538, he was tasked with getting a portrait done of Christina, Duchess of Milan by Holbein. Hoby and Holbein then went to France to paint Princess Margaret of France and Mary de Bourbon. Throughout the reign of Henry VIII, Hoby continued to advance and was eventually knighted after the siege of Boulogne. The couple had no children.
In respect to letters, after she married Hoby, Elizabeth was reluctant to spend time with her father despite his support during her first two marriages. One topic that comes up is one of religion. Sir Walter told his daughter’s servant, Richard Scudamore,
“that he [Stonor] knew very well how to order himself and that my lady was much given to the Scriptures and that she always was arguing and contending with him in the same, and which thing he could in no wise bear and specially at her hands.”
Another difficulty between Elizabeth and her father rose with his apparent new love, a “mistress Margaret”, who Elizabeth feared he would marry. Eventually, after much discussion between Scudumore and Stonor, Stonor replied with,
“if it please my lady to come unto him to make merry and not meddle with him or any of his household she would be as welcome as ever she was.”
The reply evidentely satisfied Elizabeth as she decided to spend Christmas at Stonor after all.
When Tudor women married again, they used their subsequent husbands to safeguard their children’s inheritance. In some cases this worked and in others it did not. Luckily for Elizabeth, Sir Philip Hoby seems to have delivered in this area. Elizabeth asked Hoby to safeguard her inheritance for her daughters she had, had by her second husband, Walsh. Hoby delivered and made funds available for Elizabeth when she needed them.
The couple were attendants upon Henry VIII’s sixth queen. Lady Hoby was a lady to Her Majesty and was part of her inner circle of ladies who read scriptures and continued to push the reformation of the Church. Lord Hoby was a part of the queen’s council from 1543, onward. He also was a steward, later on, to Baron Seymour of Sudeley.
By chance, the couple swapped the Abbey of Bisham with the former queen, Anne of Cleves. There was some delay as Anne was not satisfied with giving up the site as requested by Edward VI. In the church of All Saints is a window dedicated to the Hobys. The lights also feature the arms of several of the Hobys, including Sir Philip and Elizabeth. The Abbey at one time belonged to the Earls of Salisbury. It belonged to the last Plantagenet and York Princess, Margaret of Clarence–or–better known as “Lady Salisbury”. The Countess of Salisbury lost her head and her possessions when her cousin, Henry VIII decided to kill her. Lady Salisbury was a cousin to Queen Katherine Parr’s paternal grandmother, Lady Elizabeth Parr/Vaux.
Lady Hoby was lucky enough to be sketched by Hans Holbein. However, due to later rubbing and re-enforcing, the portrait is not in good quality. The description of the sitter was most likely added later and may not be reliable as most Tudor portraits were labeled after the period they were created. If the inscription is correct, the sitter is most likely Elizabeth Stonor.
- Barbara J. Harris. English Aristocratic Women, 1450-1550: Marriage and Family, Property and Careers, 2002. Google eBook