Robsart - Encyclopedia

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ROBSART, the maiden name of Lady Amy Dudley (1532-1560), wife of Lord Robert Dudley, afterwards earl of Leicester. She was the daughter of Sir John Robsart of Norfolk, and was married to Lord Robert on the 4th of June 1550. The marriage was apparently arranged by the family for business reasons, and there is no ground for supposing that it was a love match, or that she was beautiful. Her attraction lay in her estate, which was a provision for a younger son. During the early years of the marriage her husband was entangled in the rebellion of his family against Queen Mary, and was imprisoned in the Tower. She visited him there, and acted for his interests. After his release she saw little of him. When Elizabeth became queen in 1559 Lord Robert was soon known to be her favourite, and it was believed that she would marry him if he were free. His wife never came to court and was never in his company. Stories were set about to the effect that she was suffering from cancer and would soon die. Quadra, the Spanish ambassador, reported to the king of Spain that the queen had repeated this rumour to him. In 1560 she went by her husband's directions to Cumnor Place, a house near Oxford, rented by his agent Anthony Forster or Forrester, member of parliament for Abingdon. Here she was found lying dead on the floor of the hall on the 8th of September 1560 by her servants, whom she had allowed to go to Abingdon Fair. The circumstances of her death never have been, and now cannot be cleared up. A coroner's jury, which her husband did his best to pack and influence, attributed her end to accident. There is no evidence against Dudley, unless it be evidence that he was a most unscrupulous man, and that he was generally believed to have murdered several other persons who stood in his way.

See G. Adlard, Amy Robsart and Leycester (London, 1870), and W. Rye, The Murder of Amy Robsart (London, 1885).

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