Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

His mother was a *what*?

Thanks to fjm's hospitality, and a fortunate alignment of timetables, I was able to visit the British Library on Friday and investigate some of the papers dealing with my dubiously illustrious ancestor, the sixteenth-century Sir Nicholas White. The most exciting document I found was the original of this letter written by him and bound into volume 21 of the Lansdowne collection of William Cecil's papers, describing the death of the second Earl of Essex from dysentery.

The sentence I was particularly looking out for is the one transcribed thus:
Emong others he had care of my seconde son, which is all this while brought upp with the young Erle his son, without any chardge to me, bicause his mother was a Lenox.
I took this reading from Original letters, illustrative of English history, edited by Sir Henry Ellis in 1825. But in fact I should have cross-checked with Queen Elizabeth and her Times, edited by Thomas Wright in 1898, which transcribes the last few words as
...because his mother was a Deverox.
I've just seen that now as I write this entry, but staring at the letters on Friday in the BL I could see it was clearly not 'Lenox' and certainly 'd***vox', or possibly 'ad***vox'.

Anyway, in the context of why the Earl of Essex should look after a random Irish lad, the Deverox/Devereux connection makes far more sense than any Lennox connection could. The few records we have indicate that Nicholas White's first wife, and the mother of at least his first two sons, was a Sherlock, but I begin to wonder if that too may not have been a misreading.

Devereux is also a Wexford name as well as being the name of the Earl of Essex, and the Whites seem to have originated from the areas bordering Counties Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny. The Devereux family holdings in County Wexford were attacked by the McMurrough Kavanaghs in 1535, and in 1540 Sir Nicholas Devereux inherited the estate from his grandfather John Devereux. Nicholas Devereux claimed to have been a schoolfellow of William Cecil's, which I guess makes it plausible that his sister, if a couple of years younger, was the mother of Nicholas White's son. best of all, I find that when Robert Browne was killed by the Kavanaghs in 1571, a reprisal was led by Sir Nicholas Devereux, described as his uncle. Robert Browne was Nicholas White's son-in-law; if his wife was the daughter of Nicholas White and of Nicholas Devereux's sister, that would make him Devereux's nephew by shorthand.

(One more supporting element is that if White's wife had been a member of the English Devereux family, rather than their distant Irish relatives, Cecil would hardly have needed reminding of the fact.)

Anywa, all grist to the mill...
Tags: people: sir nicholas white
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