The Tudor Society
  • Interview with Toni Mount, author of The Colour of Bone, a medieval murder mystery

    Toni Mount holding her book "The Colour of Bone"

    Thank you to author and historian Toni Mount for stopping by the Tudor Society on the book/blog tour for her new book, “The Colour of Bone”, the eleventh novel in the Seb Foxley medieval murder mystery series.

    Toni has answered some interview questions…

    [Read More...]
  • February 28 – The death of theologian and Protestant reformer Martin Bucer

    During the night of 28th February/1st March 1551, theologian and Protestant reformer Martin Bucer died in Cambridge. He was fifty-nine years old.

    Let me tell tell you a bit more about this reformer, who ended up being posthumously burned as a heretic in Mary I’s reign!

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  • Poverty and Tudor Poor Laws in York

    Support for the needy in England through Tudor poor laws was based upon a carrot-and-stick approach. Specific policies were designed to provide relief for the poor, while others were designed to penalise. Tony Morgan writes about some of the approaches used in the Tudor period.

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  • February 27 – Chaplain Richard Madox dies on a troubled voyage

    A galleon and the cover of a modern edition of the diary of Richard Madox

    On this day in Tudor history, 27th February 1583, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, thirty-six-year-old diarist and Church of England clergyman, Richard Madox, died near Espirito Santo harbour, near Vitória, Brazil.

    Madox served as chaplain and secretary to Captain Edward Fenton on his 1582 voyage to the Moluccas and China.

    [Read More...]
  • February 26 – George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon

    Miniature of George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon, by Nicholas Hilliard

    On this day in Tudor history, 26th February 1548, in the reign of King Edward VI, George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon, was born. He was the eldest son of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, and Anne Morgan, and the grandson of Mary Boleyn.

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  • February 25 – Elizabeth Carey (née Spencer), Baroness Hunsdon

    A black and white photo of a miniature of Elizabeth Carey (née Spencer), Baroness Hunsdon, by Nicholas Hilliard.

    On either 24th or 25th February 1618, sixty-five-year-old literary patron Elizabeth Carey (née Spencer), Lady Hunsdon, wife of Sir George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon, died from what was described “a palsie”, probably a stroke. She was buried at Westminster Abbey, in the Hunsdon family vault.

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  • February 24 – Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, author, courtier and a man caught up in a murder

    Portrait of Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, by an unknown artist

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th February 1540, in the reign of King Henry VIII, courtier, author and administrator, Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, was born at Shottesham in Norfolk.

    Northampton was the second son of courtier and poet Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and his wife, Lady Frances de Vere.

    Let me give you a few facts about this Tudor earl…

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  • February 23 – Elizabeth of York’s funeral

    A portrait of Elizabeth of York with a photo of the front of Westminster Abbey, her resting place

    On this day in Tudor history, 23rd February 1503, Elizabeth of York, Queen Consort of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII, was laid to rest at Westminster Abbey.

    Elizabeth had died on her 37th birthday, on 11th February, at the Tower of London, nine days after giving birth to a daughter, Katherine, who also died.

    In “The Last Medieval Queens: English Queenship 1445-1503”, J L Laynesmith writes of how at least £3,000 was spent on Elizabeth’s funeral, compared to the £600 spent on that of Arthur, Prince of Wales, the previous year, and that “the whole process was rich with references to the queen’s coronation”.

    [Read More...]
  • February 22 – Translator John Bury dies

    Bust of Isocrates from the Pushkin Museum with an excerpt of John Bury's translation of his speech Ad demonicum.

    On this day in Tudor history, 22nd February 1571, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, translator John Bury died.

    Bury was only about thirty-five years old at his death, but he’d suffered a fall from his horse six months earlier. Bury had broken his leg in the accident, a serious injury in those days and one which led to his death.

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  • February 21 – The burial of Katherine Seymour (née Grey), Countess of Hertford

    On this day in Tudor history, 21st February 1568, Katherine Seymour (née Grey), Countess of Hertford, was buried at Yoxford. Her remains were later re-interred, by her grandson, in the Seymour family tomb at Salisbury Cathedral.

    Katherine was the second daughter of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, and his wife, Frances Brandon, and the granddaughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Mary Tudor, Queen of France. She was also the younger sister of Lady Jane Grey, or Queen Jane.

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  • February 20 – Anne Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, wife of Black Will Herbert and sister of Catherine Parr

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th February 1552, Anne Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, died at Baynard’s Castle in London.

    Anne was the younger sister of Queen Catherine Parr and served Queens Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard.

    Let me give you a few facts about this Tudor countess…

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  • February 19 – An imprisoned Margaret Douglas is informed of Darnley’s murder

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th February 1567, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was informed of the murder of her son, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley.

    Darnley had been murdered nine days earlier at Kirk o’ Field, Edinburgh, in the Royal Mile, just a few hundred yards from Holyrood House where his wife, Mary Queen of Scots, and baby son, the future James VI/I, were staying.

    [Read More...]
  • February 18 – An assassin fatally injures the Duke of Guise

    Francis, Duke of Guise, from the workshop of François Clouet

    On this day in Tudor history, 18th February 1563, a Huguenot assassin shot Francis, Duke of Guise, at Orléans in France. The duke died six days later.

    The Catholic Guise was a prominent leader during the French Wars of Religion, and there had been attempts on his life previously. Guise was wounded by Huguenot, Jean de Poltrot de Méré, at the Siege of Orléans, and it is thought that the treatment he received from his physicians, bloodletting, contributed to his death.

    [Read More...]
  • February 17 – Henry Radcliffe, 2nd Earl of Sussex

    Arms of Henry Radcliffe, 2nd Earl of Sussex

    On this day in Tudor history, 17th February 1557, Henry Radcliffe, 2nd Earl of Sussex, died at Cannon Row in Westminster. He was buried firstly at St Laurence Pountney and then moved to Boreham in Essex.

    Sussex, who was about 50 at his death, was the son of courtier and soldier Robert Radcliffe, 1st Earl of Sussex. He accompanied the king and Anne Boleyn on their 1532 Calais visit and was made a Knight of the Bath in the celebrations for Anne’s coronation in 1533. He commanded men under the Duke of Norfolk in Henry VIII’s French campaign in 1544 and was lord sewer at Edward VI’s coronation in 1547.

    [Read More...]
  • February 16 – Philip Melancthon, the German humanist, reformer and scholar

    On 16th February 1497, German humanist, reformer and scholar, Philipp Melancthon, was born at Bretten in Germany.

    Elizabeth I was said to have memorised his 1521 work “Loci Communes”.

    Here are a few facts about this famous reformer

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  • February 15 – Henry Deane, the last monk to become Archbishop of Canterbury

    On this day in Tudor history, 15 February 1503, Henry Deane, administrator and Archbishop of Canterbury, died at Lambeth Palace at around the age of 63. He was laid to rest at Canterbury Cathedral in a lavish funeral.

    Deane was the last monk to become Archbishop of Canterbury.

    Let me give you a few facts about this archbishop…

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  • February 14 – William Berkeley, 1st Marquess of Berkeley

    Arms of Berkeley, Gules, a chevron between 10 crosses pattée 6 in chief and 4 in base argent

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th February 1492, in the reign of King Henry VII, magnate William Berkeley, Marquis of Berkeley, died. He was buried in the Augustinian friary in London with his second wife, Joan.

    Berkeley is known for his involvement in the 1470 Battle of Nibley Green, the last English battle fought between private armies of feudal magnates.

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  • February 13 – Astrologer and physician John Harvey

    St Mary's Church, Saffron Walden

    On this day in Tudor history, 13th February 1564, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, astrologer and physician John Harvey was baptised at Saffron Walden in Essex.

    Harvey was the third son of farmer and rope maker John Harvey and his wife, Alice. His brothers were renowned scholar Gabriel Harvey and astrologer and theologian Richard Harvey.

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  • February 10 – Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmorland

    Arms of Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmorland

    On this day in Tudor history, 10th February 1564, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmorland, died at Kelvedon in Essex.

    Neville was born in around 1524/1525 and was the eldest son of Ralph Neville, 4th Earl of Westmorland, and his wife, Catherine Stafford. His maternal grandfather was Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham.

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  • Henry VIII and the Merchants

    Susan Rose is now retired but was a Senior lecturer and later a research fellow at Roehampton. She worked for over 30 years for the Open University in various roles and has written books on both medieval ships and also late medieval and early modern trade. Here, she shares an article about Henry VIII and shares some information about Stephen Vaughan. She has written a book entitled "Henry VIII and the Merchants" which available here.

    Building on my knowledge and understanding of the world of traders and its importance to the rulers of England detailed in my book, The Wealth of England (Oxbow 2018) my research and new book takes the reader from the bustle and brilliance of Antwerp, the hub of European trade and finance in the early sixteenth century to the courts of Henry VIII, the Regent of the Netherlands, and the Emperor Charles V.

    Stephen Vaughan a young London Merchant Adventurer who became an assistant and friend of Thomas Cromwell. Through that connection, he was drawn into the world of the court in London and the service of the King abroad. At first, he combined negotiations over the trading privileges of English merchants in the booming markets of Antwerp with personal commissions for Cromwell, buying books or items like a globe or a chest for private papers.

    As a convinced supporter of the reformed religion, though never a member of any sect, Vaughan also had close contact with William Tyndale the translator of the Bible into English and frequently sent word back to London of plots by those seeking to undermine the King’s policies. More serious diplomatic missions for the Crown involved visits to Lutheran princes and an attempt to convince the Regent of the Netherlands Charles V’s sister that another sister, the Duchess of Milan, would make a fine bride for Henry.

    After Cromwell's fall and execution, he was drawn closer to the King and the Privy Council and was finally charged with raising the emergency financing necessary if Henry was to join Charles in a war against France in 1543-6. This entailed obtaining loans on the Antwerp Bourse, the centre of the money market of the day. No English King had done this previously and royal advisers had no experience at all in this kind of operation. Vaughan had to deal with a complex tangle of differing coinages, exchange rates which changed rapidly in response to the news of the day, and networks of experienced brokers and bankers always out for their own advantage.

    His letters to London bewail those he had to deal with who were, 'foxes and wolves which are shrewd beasts whose natures are well known to your Honors.' The broker he was forced to use, Gaspare Ducci, was an essential contact with the Fuggers and other bankers but was 'so greedily hunting after gain' for himself that it was hard to trust him.

    Vaughan's personal life showed him to be a loving father, especially to his carefully educated daughters. Anne became a convinced Protestant and has become renowned as a poet under her married name, Anne Locke Vaughan. Jane, later Wiseman, took a different path as a heroine of the recusants in Elizabeth’s reign by harbouring the Jesuit, John Gerrard.

    About the book

    Drawing heavily from the State Papers of the King, Henry VIII and the Merchants traces Stephen Vaughan's careers as a servant of Thomas Cromwell and of Henry VIII in the 16th century.

    Stephen Vaughan, a Londoner with an international outlook, was a member of the Company of Merchant Taylors, as well as a Merchant Adventurer in the Low Countries. As a young man Vaughan was drawn into the employ of Thomas Cromwell and worked in his private office. Thus, Vaughan became heavily involved in the world of government and court politics at a time when the style, tempo and effectiveness of official life in London was changing rapidly and the world was quickly opening up as his travels to Europe drew him into the enticing world of business and finance.

    For the first time, this notable study uncovers the secrets of Vaughan's life from his relatively humble beginning to his high-power career as an ambassador, spy, and financial agent of the crown on the Bourse at Antwerp. What is more, on a wider canvas this intimate tale shows how individuals were affected by and reacted to the drastic changes in religion, politics and everyday life under the tumultuous reign of Henry VIII.

  • Henry VIII and His Six Wives Online Event – register now!

    Historian Claire Ridgway’s next online event, Henry VIII and His Six Wives, is open for registration with an early bird discount coupon!

    Register now and join Claire, Dr Tracy Borman, Dr Linda Porter, Gareth Russell, Dr Owen Emmerson and Kate McCaffrey as they delve into the lives of this iconic king and his six queens consort.

    Henry VIII and His Six Wives is a completely online event and its starts properly on 22nd May 2023. However, Claire is hosting zoom video calls twice a month leading up to the event so participants can get to know each other and talk Tudor. The zoom calls start on 12th February and the topic for discussion is Henry VIII in film and on TV.

    [Read More...]
  • February 9 – A reprieve for Lady Jane Grey

    This day in Tudor history, 9th February 1554, in the reign of Queen Mary I, was one of the dates set for the execution of Lady Jane Grey, the former Queen Jane, but she was granted a three-day reprieve.

    Why and what had happened between her trial in November 1553, when she had been condemned to death, and this day?

    Let me tell you…

    [Read More...]
  • An Extract from “Tudor England: A History”

    Lucy Wooding is the Langford fellow and tutor in history at Lincoln College, Oxford. She is an expert on Reformation England and its politics, religion, and culture and the author of Henry VIII. She has asked us to share this section from her book "Tudor England: A History".

    You can get the book at THIS LINK

    As the tensions of the later sixteenth century, both religious and polit­ical, became more acute, Tudor drama itself became more sophisticated, and more heavily freighted with meaning. Elizabethan plays might have a dangerously polemical edge, or a blunt propaganda purpose. Where fifteenth-century plays had often conveyed a religious message, later Tudor drama continued to explore moral dilemmas, albeit with a level of self-conscious wariness that earlier dramas had lacked. Solely religious plays became a thing of the past in the fraught confessional climate of the 1580s and 1590s, but drama became, if anything, more pervasive1. Plays, or ‘playings’, took place at Court, in private households, in the universities and Inns of Court, in taverns and inns, in the market square or through the streets of a city on May Day or to celebrate midsummer. By the end of the sixteenth century, there were also commercial theatrical spaces akin to the modern theatre; the first of these was built by James Burbage in Shoreditch in 1576, and called simply the Theatre2. South of the river, Philip Henslowe built the Rose on Bankside in 1587, and it was joined in 1595 by the Swan and in 1599 by the Globe. Yet even in the age of Shakespeare, theatre still belonged as much in the street or the household as upon a stage.

    Drama was not just a source of entertainment or moral commentary: it was proactive in the shaping of affairs and attitudes. In an age when insti­tutions were still flimsy, and politics were intensely personal, power could be confirmed or qualified through magnificence and display. The common­wealth, or state, was something imagined, but still it elicited an emotional investment given immediacy through symbolism3. Each display of power required a response, and each enactment of authority called for an answer, so drama was also a site for negotiation and the exchange of ideas in this ‘theatre state’4. Royal processions, progresses and tournaments encapsu­lated important transactions between ruler and ruled; in council meetings, parliaments and royal audiences, confrontations were enacted in which policy was shaped by participants on both sides. Deaths on the scaffold required the speeches of those about to die to reinforce codes of honour and obedience, while subtle alterations to the formulaic expressions of penitence and obedience might equally convey protestations of innocence, or even defiance. The drive for religious conformity made martyrs of many whose extraordinary commitment led them willingly to play their parts in a terrible drama of death. In their sufferings could be seen either the moral might of a government staunchly opposing heresy, or conversely, a testi­mony to religious truth serving as a powerful reproach to a persecutory regime; it was for the audience to choose.

    This was an age in which men and women often found it easiest to express their own identity by acting a part. Elizabeth I in her lifetime was cast by both herself and others in roles as various as the Old Testament heroine Deborah or the goddess Diana; as the mythical King Arthur or the historical Emperor Constantine. When she famously remarked to William Lambarde, keeper of the Tower, ‘know ye not I am Richard II?’, she was acknowledging her own questionable reputation as ruler in her twilight years; she was also signalling the broader principle that political meaning could be readily conveyed by mimesis5. Badgered by parliament to execute Mary Queen of Scots, she reminded them of the dangers of public scrutiny: ‘Princes, you know, stand upon stages so that their actions are viewed and beheld of all men; and I am sure my doings will come to the scanning of many fine wits, not only within the realm, but in foreign coun­tries.’6 Henry VII, in just a single royal progress in 1486, had been vari­ously depicted as Solomon, Noah, Jason, Isaac, Jacob, David, Scipio and Arthur – legendary figures, invoked at a time of dangerous political insta­bility, when the sanction of past rulers, generals and prophets was badly needed.7


    1. Thomas Betteridge and Greg Walker, ‘Introduction’, in Thomas Betteridge and Greg Walker (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama (Oxford, 2012), 4–8, 11.
    2. William Ingram, The Business of Playing: The beginnings of the adult professional theater in Elizabethan England (Ithaca, NY, 1992).
    3. Michael Walzer, ‘On the role of symbolism in political thought’, Political Science Quarterly 82 (1987), 194–95.
    4. For the conception of the ‘theatre state’, see Clifford Geertz, Negara: The theatre state in nineteenth-century Bali (Princeton, NJ, 1980), also Clifford Geertz, ‘Centers, kings and charisma: Reflections on the symbolics of power’, in Joseph Ben-David and Terry Nicholas Clark (eds), Culture and Its Creators: Essays in Honor of Edward Shils (Chicago, IL, 1977), and Clifford Geertz, ‘Politics past, politics present’, in Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected essays (second edition, New York, 2000), 327–41.
    5. Stephen Orgel, Spectacular Performances: Essays on theatre, imagery, books and selves in early modern England (Manchester, 2011), 7–35.
    6. Elizabeth I: Collected Works, 189.
    7. David Bevington, Tudor Drama and Politics (Cambridge, MA, 1968), 6; see also John C. Meagher, ‘The first progress of Henry VII’, Renaissance Drama 1 (1968), 45–73.
  • February 8 – Sir John Arundell of Lanherne

    On this day in Tudor history, 8th February 1545, in the reign of King Henry VIII, Sir John Arundell of Lanherne, died at the home of his nephew, Richard Roscarrock of Roscarrock, in St Endellion, Cornwall.

    Let me give you a few facts about this Tudor man, who was actually the third John Arundell out of 9 prominent John Arundells in the same family…

    [Read More...]
  • February 7 – Mary, Queen of Scots’ death warrant arrives at Fotheringhay

    On this day in Tudor history, 7th February 1587, the warrant for the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, arrived at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire, where Mary was being held.

    Mary had been tried for treason in October 1586 after being implicated in the Babington Plot, a plot to depose Queen Elizabeth I and to replace her with Mary. She had been found guilty and sentenced to death, but Elizabeth would not sign the execution warrant, not wanting the responsibility of killing an anointed queen. However, Mary’s gaoler, Sir Amias Paulet, would not agree to quietly doing away with Mary, and after pressure from her council and petitions from Parliament, Elizabeth finally signed the warrant, although she later said she had asked for it not to be sent to Fotheringhay yet.

    [Read More...]
  • February 6 – Edmund Plowden

    A line engraving of Edmund Plowden by T. Stayner

    On this day in Tudor history, 6th February 1585, lawyer, legal scholar and law reporter, Edmund Plowden, died in London.

    Plowden was laid to rest in the Middle Temple Church.

    Cambridge University’s libraries and the British Library contain manuscripts of his commentaries and opinions, and he is known for his 1571 volume of law reports covering cases during the reigns of Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.

    [Read More...]
  • February 4 – The wedding of Anne of York and Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey (later 3rd Duke of Norfolk)

    Portrait of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, by Hans Holbein the Younger. Norfolk holds the gold baton of Earl Marshal and the white staff of Lord High Treasurer, and wears the Order of the Garter.

    Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of NorfolkOn this day in Tudor history, 4th February 1495, in the reign of King Henry VII, a wedding took place at Westminster Abbey in London. It was the wedding of Anne of York and Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey.

    Let me tell you a bit more about the bridge and groom...
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  • February 3 – Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham

    On 3rd February 1478, in the reign of King Edward IV, Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, was born at Brecon Castle.

    His father, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, was executed as a traitor in Richard III’s reign and Edward came to the same end in 1521, in King Henry VIII’s reign.

    Let me tell you a bit more about this Duke of Buckingham…

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  • February 2 – John Argentine, the last person to see the Princes in the Tower

    King Edward V and the Duke of York (Richard) in the Tower of London by Paul Delaroche.

    On this day in Tudor history, 2nd February 1508, in the reign of King Henry VII, physician and Provost of King’s College, Cambridge, John Argentine died at King’s College.

    He was about sixty-five years of age at his death. He was laid to rest in the Chantry Chapel at the college.

    [Read More...]
  • February 1 – Alchemist Roger Cooke

    Image from a 15th century alchemical treatise, Aurora consurgens

    Image from  a 15th century alchemical treatise, Aurora consurgensOn this day in Tudor history, 1st February 1552, in the reign of King Edward VI, alchemist Roger Cooke was born.

    Here are some facts about this Tudor alchemist who started his career in the household of Dr John Dee and also worked for Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, and Sir Walter Ralegh...

    • Cooke’s beginnings are obscure, but in 1567, when he was fourteen years of age, he joined the household of Dr John Dee and became his assistant.
    • Cooke helped Dee with his experiments in alchemy and may also have practised scrying, that is to say, using a reflective surface or a crystal for divination.
    • In his diary entry for 28th December 1579, Dee recorded “I reveled to Roger Cokeo the gret secret of the elixir of the salt, an alchemical secret”, which is thought to be alchemical projection with salts of metals. Dee obviously trusted Cooke, and they had a good relationship. However, in 1581 the relationship came to an abrupt end. In his diary entry for 5th September, Dee records what happened:
      “Sept. 5th, Roger Cook, who had byn with me from his 14 yeres of age till 28, of a melancholik nature, pycking and devising occasions of just cause to depart on the suddayn, abowt 4 of the clok in the afternone requested of me lycense to depart, wheruppon rose whott words between us; and he, imagining with hisself that he had the 12 of July deserved my great displeasure and finding himself barred from vew of my philosophicall dealing with Mr. Henrik, thowght that he was utterly recest from intended goodnes toward him. Notwithstanding Roger Cook his unseamely dealing, I promised him, yf he used himself toward me now in his absens, one hundred poundst as sone as of my own clene hability I myght spare so much; and moreover, if he used himself well in lif toward God and the world, I promised him some pretty alchimicall experiments, whereuppon he might honestly live.”
      However, two days later, Dee recorded “Sept. 7th, Roger Cook went for alltogether from me”, and on 29th September, Dee replaced him with Robert Gardner, of Shrewsbury”.
    • We don’t know what Cooke did next, but fastforward to 1600, when Cooke was 48, and he is mentioned again in Dee’s diary. Dee records: “Sept. 30th, after the departing of Mr. Francis Nicolls, his dowghter Mistres Mary, his brother Mr. William, Mr. Wortley, at my returne from Deansgate, to the ende whereof I browght them on fote, Mr. Roger Kooke offred and promised his faithfull and diligent care and help, to the best of his skill and powre, in the processes chymicall, and that he will rather do so then to be with any in England; which his promise the Lord blesse and confirm! He told me that Mr. Anthony considered him very liberally and frendely, but he told him that he had promised me. Then he liked in him the fidelity of regarding such his promise.”
      The Mr Anthony that is mentioned must be the physician and alchemist who went on to sell his secret remedy, "Aurum Potabile”, or drinkable gold. I did a video on him so I’ll give you a link to that. It seems that Cooke was going to work for Anthony, or had been working for him, but excused himself as promised to Dee. In a later diary entry, Dee recorded that Cooke began to distill on 1st
    • Just three months later, on 2nd February 1601, Dee recorded that his son, Arthur, had found Cooke going through a box of Arthur’s papers. Suspecting Cooke of plotting against his father, Arthur took Cooke before Dee. Fortunately, Dee was able to record in his diary “All was mistaken, and we reconcyled godly”. Dee goes on to write that the two were reconciled and that he explained all to his wife and sons. There’s an interesting entry in Dee’s diary just over three weeks later, on 25th February, when Dee records “R. Koke pactum sacrum hora octave mane”, meaning sacred pact 8 o’clock in the morning” with no other details and then the next entry is “March 2nd, Mr Roger Coke went toward London”. Perhaps the pact was regarding Cooke leaving Dee’s service, but promising to keep his work secret. We don’t know.
    • Historian Lauren Kassell notes that a Roger Cooke was employed by Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland and Sir Walter Ralegh to build and run a still house at the Tower of London between 1606 and around 1609. Northumberland was known as the Wizard Earl due to his experiments in alchemy and science, and he and Ralegh were prisoners in the Tower at the time. Ralegh was able to persuade the Lieutenant of the Tower to let them convert a hen house into a still house. Charles Webster, author of “Health, Medicine and Mortality in the 16th Century”, writes that Ralegh then studied the chemistry of metals and “prepared his celebrated cordials” and other medicines.
    • Cooke is also linked to Cornelis Drebbel who was working in Prague from 1610 at the invitation of Emperor Rudolf II, who was interested in alchemy. A man named Cooke assisted Drebbel with his experiments before returning to England in 1612. It is not known what happened to Cooke after his return, or when he died. He just disappears from the records.

    An interesting man!

    Image: Image from a 15th century alchemical treatise, Aurora consurgens