The marriages of three Knyvett sisters tied the Earl of Lincoln and his siblings to two of the most influential nobles in the kingdom: the Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of Warwick.
• In 1584, Elizabeth Knyvett married Thomas Clinton, the 3rd Earl of Lincoln.
• In 1579, Katherine Knyvett, married Richard Rich, brother of the 1st Earl of Warwick.
• In 1600, Frances, married Francis Manners, the Earl of Rutland. Katherine Manners, their daughter, married the Duke of Buckingham in 1620.
Clinton family ties to the Earl of Warwick resulted from the marriage of Katherine Knyvett and Richard Rich, brother of the 1st Earl of Warwick.
The 2nd Earl of Warwick, Robert Rich, was appointed to head the Council for New England and organized nearly every colonial venture of the early 17th century. As a close friend of Lord Saye & Sele, Theophilus Clinton’s father-in-law, Warwick mentored Clinton in the House of Lords.
Through Frances Knyvett, their aunt, the Earl of Lincoln, and his siblings were cousins of Katherine Manners, daughter of the Earl of Rutland, Francis Manners.
As the only daughter and heir of the Earl of Rutland, Katherine was England’s second richest woman outside the Royal family.
The Duke of Buckingham’s mother, Mary Villiers, was known to be a woman of relentless ambition and greed.1
In 1620, she contrived a marriage for her son by inviting Katherine Manners to visit their home.2
While visiting, Katherine mysteriously took ill and was forced to spend the night. Believing his daughter’s virtue had been compromised, the Earl of Rutland was outraged and insisted that Buckingham marry her immediately.3
Gorges’ family ties with the Clintons date back to Nicholas Gorges, a servant of Edward Clinton, the 1st Earl of Lincoln, and Lord High Admiral of the Royal Navy from 1558 to 1585.4 Under Clinton’s command, Gorges captained the Swiftsure and was appointed to represent the town of Boston in Parliament in 1584.
The Gorges family married into the Clintons on three different occasions:
• In 1597, Arthur Gorges, Nicholas’ nephew, married Elizabeth Clinton, Theophilus Clinton’s aunt.
• In 1620, Ferdinando Gorges’ son, John, married Theophilus Clinton’s sister, Frances.
• In 1643, Elizabeth Gorges, daughter of Arthur Gorges, married her cousin, Theophilus Clinton, Earl of Lincoln.
Marriages between cousins were not uncommon in seventeenth-century England. After his first wife, Anne Bell, died in August 1620, Ferdinando Gorges married widowed cousins on two separate occasions.
• In 1627, Ferdinando married the daughter of Tristram Gorges, Elizabeth—widow of William Bligh.
• In 1629, he married the daughter of Thomas Gorges, also Elizabeth—widow of Sir Hugh Smyth.
Elizabeth Gorges – 3rd wife of Ferdinando Gorges
The most significant consequence of ties between the Clinton and Gorges families was William Blaxton sailing to New England with Robert Gorges to become the first resident of what is now Boston, Massachusetts.
Blaxton was a dear friend of Lady Arbella Clinton’s husband, Isaac Johnson, as the two had roomed together at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, for seven years. Within a few months of Johnson’s marriage to Lady Arbella, William Blaxton sailed with Robert Gorges and, in 1624, settled the Shawmut Peninsula to become the first resident of Boston, Massachusetts.
THE PELHAMS & WESTS
Pelham and West family’s ties to 17th century New England resonate throughout Colonial American history.
Herbert Pelham first married Catherine Thatcher. Herbert Pelham II and III followed in this line. Secondly, he married Elizabeth West, the eldest daughter of the 2nd Baron De La Warr. Elizabeth’s brother, Thomas, inherited his father’s title and was the first governor of the Virginia Colony. The Delaware River and Delaware were named after the 3rd Baron De La Warr. The youngest of the West sisters, a second Elizabeth, married Sir Richard Saltonstall in 1627.
Herbert Pelham II married Penelope West, the sister of his father’s second wife. The couple had as many as sixteen children, many of whom died in infancy. William, born in 1600, sailed to New England with the Winthrop Fleet in 1630. Three of his siblings, Penelope, Elizabeth, and John, also settled in New England.5
In 1641, Penelope married Governor Richard Bellingham––twenty years her senior––in a controversial ceremony he conducted himself.
Herbert Pelham III joined the Massachusetts Bay Company and migrated to Boston, Massachusetts, in 1638. His daughter, Penelope, married Josiah Winslow, Governor of Plymouth Colony.
The children of Herbert Pelham’s second marriage to Elizabeth West were tied closely to the Dorchester Company.
Their son, Thomas Pelham, was an original member of the company, and their daughters, Anne and Elizabeth, each married leading members of the Dorchester Company.
Anne married Edward Clarke, an assistant to Rev. John White, founder of the Dorchester Company, and Elizabeth Pelham married John Humfrey, treasurer of the Dorchester and a key figure in the story of the Massachusetts Bay Company.
Humfrey connected to Boston, Lincolnshire, through his wife, Elizabeth, and was pivotal in founding the New England Company that morphed into the Massachusetts Bay Company.
Ultimately, Humfrey connected the Boston Men with both remnants of the Dorchester Company and investors in London.
Three successive generations of Frances Wrays are deeply rooted in Lincolnshire history and the Boston area.
The first Frances Wray was the daughter of Sir Christopher Wray, who served as Chief Justice of the King’s Bench from 1574 until his death in 1592. He was described as a person of shining conversation and eminent bounty. As the widow of Sir George St. Paul, Frances was one of the wealthiest women in Lincolnshire, and this made her an attractive match for Robert Rich, 1st Earl of Warwick, after the death of his first wife, Penelope Devereaux.
Penelope Devereux was the great-grandniece of Anne Boleyn and inherited her fiery temperament and beauty. Although she had fallen in love with Charles Blount and secretly promised herself to him in marriage, Penelope was forced to marry Robert Rich against her will in 1585. Four years later, she began cohabitating with Blount and bore him five children.
In 1601, Penelope separated from Rich and was granted a divorce in 1605. Despite her relationship with Blount, Penelope bore Rich seven children over the twenty years they were married.
Having divorced Penelope mensa et thoro in 605, Robert Rich waited until after Penelope died in 1607 to marry Lady Frances Wray.6
His son, also Robert Rich, feared for his inheritance and opposed the marriage. As a result, Lady Frances agreed that if she died first, her husband would inherit her entire estate, and if he died first, she would inherit a considerable portion of his. She did not, however, disclose that the only property she owned was a home in Snarford, Lincolnshire though she annually received £1,700 from her first husband’s estate.
A year before his death, Robert Rich was created the Earl of Warwick after agreeing to pay James I £10,000 for the privilege. His son, also Robert Rich, inherited his title and became the 2nd Earl of Warwick. Rich died in 1619, and Lady Frances retired to her home in Snarford, Lincolnshire. Later, in 1627, John Preston recommended Simon Bradstreet to the 2nd Earl of Warwick to manage his stepmother’s estate.
The second Frances Wray was the daughter of William Wray of Glentworth, Lincolnshire, and married Sir Anthony Irby in 1623. Irby was admitted to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 1620, was knighted in 1624, and was elected a member of Parliament for Boston in 1628.
The third Frances Wray was niece to the second Frances and the daughter of Christopher Wray of Glentworth, Lincolnshire.
In 1640, at the age of sixteen, Frances married Sir Henry Vane, who served as Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from May 1636 to May 1637. Having been elected governor at the age of twenty-three, Vane remains the youngest person ever to have served as governor of Massachusetts.7
Vane led the Long Parliament of 1640 and stood against Oliver Cromwell when he dissolved Parliament, as follows:
This is not honest; yea, it is against morality and common honesty!
O Sir Henry Vane, Sir Henry Vane; the Lord deliver me from Sir Henry Vane!
When Charles II was restored to the crown and sought the arrest of those, who had executed his father, Vane was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London even though he had voted against regicide.
Parliament petitioned Charles II to grant clemency to Vane after the passage of the Indemnity Act and asked that Vane’s life be spared.
Despite the petition being granted, Vane remained confined to the Tower of London, and income from his estates was seized. Later Vane was tried for treason and found guilty by a jury packed with royalists.
On June 14, 1662, Vane was taken to Tower Hill and beheaded.
Vane’s execution stands as the most attended execution in English history. Samuel Pepys recorded the event in his diary as follows:
He made a long speech, many times interrupted by the Sheriff and others there, and they would have taken his paper out of his hand, but he would not let it go. But they caused all the books of those that writ after him to be given the Sheriff; and the trumpets were brought under the scaffold that he might not be heard. Then he prayed, and so fitted himself, and received the blow; but the scaffold was so crowded that we could not see it done….He had a blister, or issue, upon his neck, which he desired them not hurt: he changed not his colour or speech to the last, but died justifying himself and the cause he had stood for; and spoke very confidently of his being presently at the right hand of Christ; and in all things appeared the most resolved man that ever died in that manner, and showed more of heat than cowardize, but yet with all humility and gravity. One asked him why he did not pray for the King. He answered, “Nay,” says he, “you shall see I can pray for the King: I pray God bless him!8
1 Kenyon, J. P. The Stuarts: A study in English kingship. (Fontana, 1970). P.50
2 Ibid. P.55
3 Lee, Sidney, ed. (1893). “Manners, Francis.” Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 36. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 49–50.
4 The Gorges family were originally from Normandy. In the early 11th-century, Henry III knighted Thomas de Gorges and appointed him warden of the Royal manor of Powerstock in Dorset. Gorges, Raymond, and Frederick Brown. The Story of a Family Through Eleven Centuries, Illustrated by Portraits and Pedigrees. Grace Gorges (private printing). Boston: D.P. Updike, The Merrymount Press, 1944. 6-9
5 Anderson, R. C. Puritan Pedigrees. (New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2018).
6 Latin for “From table and bed”, but more commonly translated as “from bed and board.” This phrase designates a divorce which is really akin to a separation granted by a court whereby a husband and a wife are not legally obligated to live together, but their marriage has not been dissolved. Neither spouse has the right to remarry where there is a divorce a mensa et thoro; only parties who have been awarded a divorce a vinculo matrimonii, the more common type of divorce, can do so.
7 Ruth E. Mayers, ‘Vane, Sir Henry, the younger (1613–1662)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
8 1.Pepys, S. The Diary of Samuel Pepys. (1899).