My name is Kathy Lynn Emerson. A Who’s Who of Tudor Women began as a project to update and correct my very out-of-date collective biography, Wives and Daughters: The Women of Sixteenth Century England, published by a small scholarly press in 1984. It has been online at another location since 2010. Since then, I have continued to add entries and make corrections and additions to those already in place.
I am not affiliated with any institution of higher learning, nor do I have a doctorate. If such things matter to you, you may call me an “independent scholar.” I earned my bachelor’s degree from Bates College and my M.A. (in English) from Old Dominion University. I make my living as a novelist and writer of popular nonfiction (click here if you want to know about that) but I do have a few scholarly credentials. I have had articles published in Renaissance Papers, First Person Female American(American Notes and Queries Supplement), and Notes on Teaching English and have read papers at the Southeastern Renaissance Conference and the Medieval Conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
These pages are not meant to be scholarly or all-inclusive. They are set up to help identify women who lived during the Tudor era (1485-1603). The information in them has been accumulated primarily from a footnote here and a paragraph there in histories and in biographies dealing with better known people and events. No complete bibliography is possible, nor was it possible to give a specific source for every single detail in every single entry. Some details have multiple sources. Some come from undocumented sources. Some I found forty years ago and neglected to make a note of my source at that time.
I write all the entries in A Who’s Who of Tudor Women myself. I don’t mind sharing this information. In fact, I’m happy to have it reach the widest audience possible. But I would appreciate being identified as the author of individual mini-biographies when they appear on other websites, preferably with a link to this index page. All text included in this Who’s Who is ©2017 by Kathy Lynn Emerson (all rights reserved).
An earlier version included numerous photographs of portraits and effigies. I have discontinued this feature, in part because so many identifications of sitters in portraits have changed over the years. The entries state if likenesses exist.
The women in A Who’s Who of Tudor Women lived at least part of their lives between 1485 and 1603. Each must have done something during her lifetime that I find interesting. In some cases, that something was simply having her portrait painted or holding a post in a royal household.
Entries are arranged alphabetically by the maiden name of the subject or by married surname if her birth name is unknown. Each entry is cross referenced by married surname(s). To find a subject by her husband’s title, consult the list of “Titles Used in Tudor Times.”
This is a text-only version of A Who’s Who of Tudor Women designed to replace an illustrated online version that has become far too cumbersome to maintain. It is not meant to be scholarly or all-inclusive. Its purpose is to help readers identify women who lived in sixteenth-century England. The information contained in the entries has been compiled from a sentence here, a paragraph there, and the occasional footnote in the histories and biographies of the period.
“Tudor Women” are women living during the reigns of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I and therefore include some who died as early as 1485 or were born as late as 1603. Entries are arranged alphabetically by the maiden name of the subject. These are cross referenced by married surnames. To find a subject by her husband’s title, consult the list of “Titles Used in Tudor Times.”
I started the Who’s Who to update my 1984 reference book, Wives and Daughters: The Women of Sixteenth-Century England, which was published by Whitston Publishing Company, a small, scholarly independent press. This book remained in print until 2009, by which time it was horribly out of date. Many resources not available to me in 1980 are easily accessible now. In addition, scholars have made numerous new discoveries of letters and other documents, changed their minds about the identification of the sitters in portraits, and generally made a number of facts accepted as true in 1984 invalid today. I have added many more mini-biographies to the number I included in Wives and Daughters and have updated all the entries taken from that original volume.
One thing has not changed. There are no footnotes. The reason for that also remains the same. To attribute every bit of information would more than triple the size of what is already a very long book. I also include information from sources that do not always say where their facts originated—online genealogies, family discussion groups and the like. Then again, some so-called scholarly tomes also fail in attribute information and, with appalling frequency, make careless mistakes when referring to minor historical figures.
My goal is to present all the information I have been able to collect on as many Tudor women as possible. If I don’t always know exactly where a fact came from or whether or not it is true, neither do others who have written about these particular women.
I do include a few sources in the text of some entries, most frequently when the entry comes mainly from one source or if I question the information. I have felt free to include my own opinion of other writers’ conclusions, especially when they do not make sense to me.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not a genealogist. I will not do your research for you. All the information I currently possess about the women who have entries in the Who’s Who is already contained in those entries. If you have a question about my sources, I will try to answer it but I may not know where the information came from originally (much of it was, literally, from a sentence here and a footnote there in multiple volumes of history and biography). If you have something to add, or a correction to make (with citations, please!) I am happy to hear from you.
Below is a list of sources that include information on a great many of the women in the A Who’s Who of Tudor Women:
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online
Arnold, Janet, Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d (1988)
Bindoff, S. T., ed., The History of Parliament The House of Commons 1509-1558 (1982) (3 vols.)
Bynre, M. St. Clare, ed. The Lisle Letters (1981) (6 vols) Colthorpe, Marion, http://folgerpedia.folger.edu/The_Elizabethan_Court_Day_by_Day
Ford, David, Berkshire History
Goldsmith, Joan Barbara Greenbaum, All the Queen’s Women: The changing place and perception of aristocratic women in Elizabethan England 1558-1620 (unpublished PhD dissertation, 1987) Green, Nina, transcripts of wills and other documents at Oxford-Shakespeare.com
Harris, Barbara J. English Aristocratic Women 1450-1550: Marriage and Family, Property and Careers (2002) (and also numerous articles written by Harris and published in a variety of scholarly journals)
Hasler, P. W., ed., The History of Parliament The House of Commons 1558-1603 (1981) (3 vols.)
Hayward, Maria, Dress at the Court of King Henry VIII (2007)
Merton, Charlotte Isabelle, The Women who served Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth: Ladies, Gentlewomen and Maids of the Privy Chamber, 1553-1603 (unpublished PhD dissertation, 1991)
Richardson, Douglas, Magna Carta Ancestry (2011)