Queen Elizabeth I Quote
Earl of Leicester

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Wiki Commons

Robert Dudley
Earl Of Leicester

In 1588, when the Spanish sent their fleet against England , Robert was put in charge of the land army, and he organized Elizabeth's famous visit to Tilbury. However, by now he was not a well man, probably suffering from stomach cancer, and his days were numbered. Following the defeat of the Armada, he travelled to Buxton to try and take the healing waters there, but he never made it. He died at his house in Oxfordshire on the 4th September, 1588. Elizabeth was devastated at the loss of her old friend and companion, and reputedly locked herself in her apartment for hours, if not days. She treasured the letter he had sent her only days before his death, and wrote on it "His Last letter". She put it in her treasure box, and it was still there when she died 15 years later.

Read Robert Dudley's "Last Letter"

But few shared her grief. His enemies said that the rejoicing at the defeat of the Armada was nothing compared to the rejoicing at the news of Robert's death. He was given a funeral befitting a nobleman, and buried in the Beauchamp Chapel of St Mary's Church, Warwick. His wife, Lettice, was later buried with him.

Grave of Earl of Leicester

Grave of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

Wiki Commons


As with so many families of this period, it is often impossible to determine the exact age and birth order of the children. The listing below therefore is only a rough outline of the birth order of the many children born to John and Jane Dudley. Only children surviving infancy are listed.

Henry Dudley (killed in France 1544)
John Dudley (died of illness 1554)
Ambrose Dudley (died 1590)
Robert Dudley (died 1588)
Guildford Dudley (beheaded 1554)
Mary Dudley (married Sir Henry Sidney, died 1585)
Catherine Dudley (married Earl of Huntingdon)
Henry Dudley (killed in the Battle of St. Quintin 1557)
Temperance Dudley (female, died in childhood)

There is also periodic mention in historical works of another sister called Jane, but there is still some debate over her existence. It may be possible that Lady Jane Grey, who became Jane Dudley on her marriage to Guildford, has been confused for her.

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