Elizabeth Wriothesley, Countess of SouthamptonFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, search Elizabeth, Countess of Southampton c. 1620Elizabeth Wriothesley (née Vernon), Countess of Southampton (11 January 1572 – 23 November 1655) was one of the chief ladies-in-waiting to Elizabeth I of England in the later years of her reign. Contents [hide] 1 Family 2 Marriage and children 3 Shakespeare connection theory 4 Notes 5 References  FamilyShe was born in Hodnet, Shropshire, England to Sir John Vernon of Hodnet and Elizabeth Devereux. By her mother, Elizabeth was the great-granddaughter of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, and also of Walter Devereux, 1st Viscount Hereford, and a great-great-granddaughter of Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset and his wife Cecily Bonville. By her father, Elizabeth was the descendant of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, William de Ros, 7th Baron de Ros, and the Barons Touchet.  Marriage and childrenOn 30 August 1597 Elizabeth married Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, the dedicatee of Shakespeare's sonnets. The marriage occurred after Elizabeth discovered she was pregnant. Upon discovering this, the Queen had both Elizabeth and her husband locked in Fleet Prison and, after their release, were never again received into her favour. Elizabeth and Henry had several children, including: 1.Lady Penelope Wriothesley (18 November 1598 – 16 July 1667) who married William Spencer, 2nd Baron Spencer, by whom she had issue. 2.Lady Anne Wriothesley (born 1600) who married Robert Wallop of Farley Wallop. 3.Thomas Wriothesley (10 March 1607 – 16 May 1667) who became the 4th Earl of Southampton and married firstly Rachel de Massue, daughter of Daniel de Massue, Seigneur de Ruvigny, by whom he had two daughters, Elizabeth, Viscountess Campden (died 1679) and Rachel, Lady Russell.  Shakespeare connection theoryA German professor of English, Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel, has proposed a theory, mainly based on an apocryphic sonnet, she claims was written by William Shakespeare, and evidence from portraits, that Elizabeth Wriothesley was a lover of the poet. Her eldest daughter Penelope is, according to this theory, a child of Shakespeare. The author stresses that in this way, Lady Diana Spencer would be a descendant of William Shakespeare. Questions have been raised about this theory, namely why the Earl of Southampton would have risked certain royal displeasure from the Queen by marrying Elizabeth if she was pregnant with somebody else's illegitimate child.
Elizabeth Vernon was a maid of honor to Queen Elizabeth of England. Vernon had an affair with the Earl of Southampton, which culminated in a secret marriage in 1598 after Vernon became pregnant. Their romance incurred the wrath of the Queen, who sent them both to prison.
A painting of Vernon (artist unknown) shows her at her toilette, combing her hair, her clothing open to reveal her corset.
found on ancestry.com
ELIZABETH VERNON AND SHAKESPEARE
I leave aside here the more serious and “credible” stories about the real identity of the great poet of Royal England — the theories regarding Bacon, Marlowe, the Earl of Oxford, Lord Derby and others of that supreme age in British annals — , and return to the one that the Sunday Times carried recently in its august columns. A German scholar, Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel (“HHH” —what a Teutonic name!) in yet another book, “The Secrets of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady”, has gone on to argue that Shakespeare had an affair with one Elizabeth Vernon, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, and that his illegitimate daughter, Penelope, a swarthy oriental beauty, managed to marry one Baron Spencer — the progenitor of the Spencer Clan right down to Princess Diana’s father! And if this lineage holds, why, then, it’s fair to assume that a few of Shakespeare’s genes have reached the blood of 17-year-old Prince William, the 2nd heir to the British crown today! A royal bard’s blood has touched a royal heart at last, and who knows what divine thoughts and songs may yet flow from that fount!
Of course, “the Dark Lady” of the sonnets has never been out of serious Shakespeare criticism. If earlier during my teaching days a historian had brought up the name of an Italian dark damsel, Emilia Viviani (also, a maid in the royal court), as Shakespeare’s secret heart-throb, a German writer with his Germanic gift for ponderous research and involved “logic” has now milked the Shakespeare story, and brought it to the bed-room of the fabulous Di, now, alas, gathered with the English grasses, and mourned widely in soulful numbers!
found on ancestry.com