The Tudor Society

July 2 – Old Scarlett

An 18th century etching of Robert Scarlett, Old ScarlettOn this day in Tudor history, 2nd July 1594, in the reign of Elizabeth I, Robert Scarlett (Old Scarlett), sexton at Peterborough Cathedral, was buried at the cathedral, apparently aged 98, although another source states that he was a bit younger.

A verse accompanying his portrait in the cathedral states that Scarlett buried two queens, Catherine of Aragon and Mary, Queen of Scots , but it is not known whether this is true. He is also said to have buried a court fool known as Edward the Fool.

Scarlett has been immortalised in Peterborough by having a local ale, pub and newspaper column named after him, and it is said that his portrait, which shows him as a grave-digger, with a shovel and skull, inspired William Shakespeare’s gravedigger in Hamlet and the famous Alas poor Yorick scene.

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Image: An 18th century etching of Robert Scarlett, Old Scarlett.

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July 2 – Old Scarlett