Biographical register


Adolph of Holstein

(1526-1586) Adolph Herzog von Holstein-Gottorp was the son of the King of Denmark, Frederik I, who had married Christine von Hessen, daughter of Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse on 17 December 1564. (Book of Kings, vol. 1 p. 156)

Anthony I

Count of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst c. 24 March 1562. (BL)

Bacon, Sir Nicholas

(1510-1579) lawyer and administrator. Bacon had powerful family connections, linked by his second marriage to Anne to William Cecil, Thomas Hoby, Henry Killigrew and John Russell, second earl of Bedford. He was made Lord Keeper of the Great Seal in 1558, a post which he held until 1579. His children from his second marriage were the future courtier Francis Bacon, and the intelligencer Anthony Bacon, both of whom had intelligence connections with Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. DNB [subscription required]

Baersden, William

No information available.

Barrow, James

No information available.

Bohuy, George

No information available.

Brunes, Thomas

No information available.

Burghley, Lord, William Cecil

(1520/21-1598) royal minister. Appointed principal secretary on the first day of Elizabeth's reign, November 17, 1558. He was elevated to the peerage in 1571, entituled Baron Burghley, and succeeding William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester as Lord Treasurer. With huge numbers of official letters passing through his office, and his grip firmly on the royal finances, Burghley was a formidably powerful politician, involved in every part of the Elizabethan government. Herle's letters to Burghley span from 1559 to 1588, and he regarded him as his primary patron. Herle states in a letter from 1587 that Burghley had 'drawen' him from Sir William Garrard's house upon Elizabeth's accession. DNB [subscription required]

Carenzone, Nicholas

(d.1562) (Nicolas Carineus, Careneus, Charineus) 'Protestant theologian' (Bx). Evangelist and preacher in Alkmaar. (IBN)

Chaderton, Laurence (Bishop of Chester)

(d.1608). In 1568 Chaderton was elected president of Queen's college. In 1579 he was consecrated Bishop of Chester and on 5 June 1580 he was licensed to hold the wardenship of Manchester College in commendam. He was translated to the Bishop of Lincoln in 1595. DNB [subscription required]

Chester, Edward

No information currently available.

Cornwall, Edmund

Also known as 'Baron Burford'. Possibly sheriff of Salop in Shropshire in 1580. Legend has it that Cornwall measured seven feet eight inches tall. (Blakeway, p.20)

Counts of Hamburg (Senate of Hamburg)

The administrative and government body of the city-state of Hamburg.

Danett, Thomas

(1543-1601) Historian and translator Fluent in foreign languages, he translated Phillipe de Commines Memoires in 1565 (MS) 1596 (print), which was dedicated to Burghley. DNB [subscription required]

Davison, William

(d.1608) diplomat and adminstrator. One of Sir Francis Walsingham's confidential men of business, diplomat to: the Netherlands (1577-79), Scotland (1582-84), the Netherlands (1584-86), Secretary of State 1586-87. DNB [subscription required]

Dudley, Robert, Earl of Leicester

(1532/3-1588) courtier and magnate. In 1553 he was imprisoned in the Tower for treason after Mary's accession to the throne, and released in the Autumn of the next year. He became a member of Elizabeth's Privy Council in Autumn 1562, and created Earl of Leicester in 1564. Herle considered Leicester his patron (as well as Lord Burghley and Sir Francis Walsingham), and his letters to him cluster around the early 1580's. DNB [subscription required]


Count in Oldenburg and Delnienhorst c. 24 March 1562. (BL)

Earl Edzard (Isard)

(1562 - 1599) Edzard II, Landgrave (local sovereign) of Eastfriesland in 1584 (Bx). Opponent of the Mennonites. (IBN)

Elizabeth I

(1533-1603), Queen of England, 1558-1603. Succeeding the throne after her Catholic sister Mary I, Elizabeth's reign was by no means secure, and she surrounded herself with politicians who had constructed sophisticated intelligence networks. Her sporadic dealings with Herle focus mainly on his diplomatic missions to the continent. DNB [subscription required]

Fanshaw, Thomas

(1533-1601) exequer official. Fanshawe progressed from clerk to his uncle Henry Fanshawe, Queen's Remembrancer, succeeding his uncle in 1568 to hold the reversion of the Queen's Remembrancer himself, overseeing customs and subsidies. DNB [subscription required]

Francis I

Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg c. 29 June 1561. (BL)

Gilpin, George

(d.1602) diplomat and translator. Gilpin had strong Low Countries connections, both academic and mercantile. In 1564 was secretary for the Merchant Adventurers in Antwerp, and was later used as a diplomat by the English government, transmitting intelligence to the court, especially to Lord Burghley and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. DNB [subscription required]

Hatton, Sir Christopher

(?1540-1591) courtier and politician. Hatton originated from a modest gentry family, and gradually rose to the level of high ranking politician, becoming Lord Chancellor in 1587. DNB [subscription required]

Henry of Brunswick

Duke of Brunswick- Lüneburg (-Danneburg) c. 29 June 1561. (BL)

Herbert, Sir Edward

(d.1593) Served as an MP for Montgomeryshire in 1553 and 1556-7, and was famed for his hospitality. See DNB [subscription required] entry for 'Herbert, Edward, first Baron Herbert of Cherbury and first Baron Herbert of Castle Island (1582?–1648)'

Herle, William

(d.1588) agent and spy. Herle's diverse career included diplomatic missions to the Low Countries, agent provocateur, sheriff of Cardiganshire, MP for Callington, Cornwall, and intelligencer. He claimed the patronage of Lord Burghley and the Earl of Leicester. In 1582 he followed Leicester to Antwerp to receive the Duke of Anjou into the city, remaining there to avoid the restitution of his debts back in England. He was then sent on legation to the Counts of Emden, returning home in the spring of 1585, and then back to Emden in 1586. After a lengthy period of crippling debts and ill health, he died in early 1588. See 'Introductory Essay'. DNB [subscription required]

Horsey, Edward

(d.1583) solider, agent and diplomat. Horsey was a client of the Earl of Leicester, holding various official posts including captain of the Isle of Wight, where he may have encountered Herle and possibly arrested him for piracy. DNB [subscription required]

Hurleston, Randall (or, Huddilston, R[andall?])

(1525/6 - 1587) religious writer. Confusion about Hurleston's biography lies with the multiple variant spellings of his name. He published the pamphlet Newes from Rome concerning the blasphemous sacrifice of the papisticall masse with dyvers other treatises very godlye and profitable in about 1550. Randalph (or Ranulph) Hurleston, who may well be the same man, was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1559. DNB [subscription required]

Hubard, John (or Huband or Guband)

No information available.

Jewkes, Simon

No information available.

Lane, Rafe

(d.1603) soldier and colonist. He held many Irish appointments, including the shrievalty of Kerry in the mid 1580's. By 1585 he was recruited by Sir Walter Raleigh to lead an expedition to North America. DNB [subscription required]

Leslie, John (Bishop of Ross)

(1527-1596) historian and conspirator. Leslie (or Lesley) was made a privy councillor in the Scottish council in 1565, and ordained Bishop of Ross in 1566. He was chief ecclesiastical adviser to Mary, Queen of Scots. After she fled to England, Leslie was interrogated by the English privy council. He was involved in the Ridolphi Plot (1571), a plan to place Mary on the throne by way of marrying the Duke of Norfolk. His messenger, Charles Bailly, was caught with letters at Dover and imprisoned. Herle, imprisoned in the Marshalsea prison for piracy, offered to be the go-between for Leslie and Bailly, but they correctly suspected that he was an agent provocateur for the English authorities. DNB [subscription required]

Lopez, Dr Ruy (Roderigo)

(c.1517-1594) physician and alledged conspirator. Lopez was the son of a New Christian, and was the first physician appointed at St Bartholomew's Hospital following its refounding in 1547. He became physician to the Queen in 1581. He was imprisoned in the Tower in 1571 under suspicion of plotting the murder of his neighbour. DNB [subscription required]

Mildmay, Sir Walter

(1520/1-1589) administrator, and founder of Emmanuel College Cambridge. Mildmay was in royal service under Edward VI and Mary as well as Elizabeth, performing a diverse range of political duties. In 1559 he was appointed as Chancellor of the Exchequer and was admitted to the Privy Council in 1566. DNB [subscription required]

Norreys, Edward

(c.1550-1603) soldier and administrator. Norreys (or Norris) came from a family with strong military links; all of his five other brothers were soldiers. Holding strategic governing posts throughout the Low Countries, he was renowned for his tactless methods and quick temper. DNB [subscription required]

North, George

(C.1561-1581) translator. He published The Description of Swedland, Gotland, and Finland (1561), and was in service to Princess Cecilia of Sweden in 1564. It apparently later transpired that in Sweden North claimed to be a gentleman, but was found out to be the son of a tailor when Cecilia's entourage reached England. In the 1580's he was writing intelligence to Herle, and dedicating books to Sir Christopher Hatton. DNB [subscription required]

Oncle, Bonaparte van

No information available.


Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (-Harburg) c. 29 June 1561. (BL)

Parry, Sir Thomas

(1515-1560), cofferer to Elizabeth during Mary's reign, he was made controller of her household and member of the privy council upon her succession in 1558. DNB [subscription required]

Person, John

No information available.

Preston, Geoffrey

No information available.

Privy Council

The small body of ministers which were concerned with the state administration, and answered to the sovereign. By Elizabeth's time, the council was composed both of peers of the realm and academics like Sir Francis Walsingham and Thomas Wilson.

Reidt, Everardt de

(Everardus Reidanus, Everhard van Reid, Reyd or Reydt) (c.1550-1602) 'lawyer, burgomaster, emissary and historian'. (BX)

Romano, Cesare Nobili

No information available.

Roper, Mistress

No information available.

Senate of Hamburgh (See Counts of Hamburg)

c.18 March 1562. (BL)

Sidney, Sir Philip

(1554-1586) author and courtier. He was born into an important noble family, and was the nephew of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Author of the Arcadia, The Defence of Poetry and Astrophil and Stella, as well as an accomplished soldier and diplomat, Sidney joined Leicester on campaign in the Low Countries in 1586, and was killed after a bullet wound to his leg turned gangrenous. DNB [subscription required]

Tusser, [William]

Clerk of the Duchy of Lancaster. No information available.

Walsingham, Sir Francis

(1532-1590) principal secretary to Elizabeth. Walsingham, in exile on the continent during Mary's reign, and ambassador to the French court from 1570 to 1573, established many contacts abroad which he sustained throughout his career. In 1573 he was appointed principal secretary and a privy councillor. Herle's contact with Walsingham seems to have derived from his diplomatic duties - as principal secretary, Walsingham would have been a key point of direction for Herle's embassies to both the Prince of Orange and Earl Edzard of Emden. DNB [subscription required]

Wilson, Thomas

(1523/4-1581) humanist and administrator. In exile during Mary's reign, he returned to England upon the succession of Elizabeth after being tortured by the Roman Inquisition. A client of Leicester's, Wilson interrogated political prisoners, Catholics and suspected traitors. He also undertook diplomatic legations to the Low Countries and was appointed to the Privy Council in 1577, where he was one of the two principal secretaries. DNB [subscription required]



British Library Manuscripts catalogue


J. B. Blakeway, The Sheriffs of Shropshire, with their Armorial Bearings; and notices, Genealogical and Biographical, of their families (Shrewsbury: William & John Eddowes, 1831)

Book of Kings

Andrew McNaughton, The Book of Kings: a Royal Genealogy 3 vols. (London: Garnstone Press, 1973)


Berend Wispelwey, Biographical Index of the Benelux Countries (Munchen: KG Saur, 2003)


Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


Francois P. Lobies ed., Index Bio-Bibilographicus Notorum Hominum (Osnabruck: Biblio Verlag, 1972-)

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