The Tudor Society

26 December – The interesting life of Rose Lok

On this day in Tudor history, 26th December 1526, Protestant Rose Lok was born.

Rose lived well into her 80s and had an interesting life, being a Protestant exile, a businesswoman, and being the daughter of a man who supplied Anne Boleyn with religious books. She also had a ship named after her!

Find out all about Rose Lok in today's talk.

Read an article on Rose by Lissa Chapman at

Also on this day in history, 26th December 1546, an ill Henry VIII made some changes to his will in preparation for his nine-year-old son, Edward, inheriting the throne. I explained more about that in last year’s video, as well as talking about how the Feast of St Stephen was celebrated in Tudor times:

Also on this day in history:

  • 1545 – Death of Sir George Bowes, soldier, rebel and Captain of Norham Castle. He was buried at Alnwick. Bowes was a member of the rebel army during the 1536 Pilgrimage of Grace, but the patronage of his uncle, Sir Robert Bowes, protected him. He fought in the 1542 Anglo-Scottish War and in the 1544 expedition. He was granted the Barony of Coldingham as a reward for seizing Coldingham Priory on November 1544, but was then taken prisoner in January 1545 and lost the barony.


On this day in Tudor history, 26th December 1526, Rose Lok was born.

Rose is an interesting lady as she was not only a Protestant exile, but she was also a businesswoman and when she was in her 80s, she wrote an account of her life. In her account, she mentions how her father, a royal mercer, imported religious books for Anne Boleyn.

Let me give you a few facts about Rose…

• Rose was born on this day in 1526 and was the third child of Protestant Sir William Lok, a mercer and merchant adventurer, and his second wife, Katherine Cook. Sir William Lok was also a sheriff and alderman, and gentleman usher of the chamber to King Henry VIII, whom he also supplied cloth and clothing. William was knighted by Edward VI.
• Rose was one of at least eleven children!
• Her father was an ancestor of the famous philosopher John Locke.
• Rose was married twice: to merchant Anthony Hickman, in 1543, with whom she had at least two children, and to Simon Throckmorton of Brampton.
• According to Rose’s account of her life “Certaine old stories recorded by an aged gentlewoman … about the yeer our lord 1610”, her father, who supported the king’s annulment of his first marriage, removed the pope’s bull threatening King Henry VIII with excommunication when it was posted in Dunkirk.
• Rose’s family were keen Protestants and Rose’s own faith was influenced by her mother reading her and her sisters evangelical books.
• Rose’s first husband, Anthony, was a mercer and merchant adventurer who carried out several voyages with Rose’s brother, Thomas. They also owned a number of ships, including the Mary Rose – not the famous one! - which they named after their wives.
• Rose and Anthony were friends with Protestants John Hooper, John Foxe and John Knox.
• Rose’s husband, Anthony, and her brother, Thomas, were imprisoned in the Fleet in Mary I’s reign, accused of heresy and giving aid to imprisoned Protestants. After being released from the Fleet, they then spent time under house arrest at the home of William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester, before they were eventually released. Anthony went into exile in Antwerp.
• Rose was pregnant and so remained in England, but chose to give birth away from London, in Oxfordshire. Her first child was baptised with Catholic rites, following advice she received from Archbishop Cranmer, and bishops Latimer and Ridley, who would of course become the Oxford Martyrs. After recovering from the birth, Rose travelled to Antwerp to be with Anthony. Rose’s brother, Thomas, remained in England due to his wife, who, according to Rose, wouldn’t let him leave England.
• Rose had her second child while in exile, having the child baptised in the Protestant faith, and she returned to England in 1558, following the accession of Elizabeth I.
• In 1596, according to historian Marilyn Roberts, Rose, her son, William, and his family, bought Gainsborough Old Hall in Lincolnshire, and the property became a focus for Puritans such as William Brewster.
• Rose died at the age of 86 on 21st November 1613.
• Rose is the protagonist of the novel, Tudor Rose, by Sue Allan.

Leave a Reply

26 December – The interesting life of Rose Lok