(c. 1527-1608)
A loyal friend and servant to Queen Elizabeth I,* Bess of Hardwick became one of the wealthiest women of Elizabethan England. She was a grand matriarch committed to securing position and affluence for her family.
Born at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, Hardwick was daughter to John Hard-wick and Elizabeth Leake. She was married in 1543 to Robert Barley. This was the first and shortest of her four marriages. Barley died in 1544. In the years following his death Hardwick served as lady-in-waiting to Lady Dorset. In 1547 Hardwick married William Cavendish, treasurer of the Chamber. Together the couple had six children. Both Hardwick and Cavendish were ambitious and began acquiring lands and estates. Hardwick was also acquiring a keen financial intellect. Cavendish had a profitable career until he was accused of pilfering funds in 1557. Cavendish died later that year, leaving Hardwick with a sub­stantial debt to the throne.
When Elizabeth I took the throne in 1558, Hardwick was appointed lady-in-waiting. While at court, Hardwick married Sir William St. Loe, captain of the guard and later chief butler of England. St. Loe was very generous to Hardwick and to her children. With St. Loe, Hardwick built up an impressive estate at Chatsworth. His death in 1565 left her a very wealthy widow.
Hardwick entered her fourth and final marriage in 1567, this time to George Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury was a widower with seven children, reputed to be the richest nobleman in England. Indeed, the arrangement focused on finance; in order to allow both Hardwick and Shrewsbury's children to benefit from the amalgamation of wealth, Hardwick arranged for the marriage of two of her children to two of Shrewsbury's children. This way, the union would profit future generations on both sides of the family. All three marriages seemed congenial until duty to the queen put a strain on Shrewsbury. He accused Hard-wick of manipulating him and stealing his possessions. The couple separated for two years, and only at the insistence of the queen did they reconcile in 1587.
During this separation Hardwick began developing Hardwick Hall into the grand estate that bears her name. Widowed again in 1590, Hardwick returned there with an assortment of family, including her granddaughter, Lady Arabella Stuart. Hardwick died a very old woman in 1608. She left her children well endowed, and Hardwick Hall still stands as a tribute to its mistress.
D. N. Durant, Bess of Hardwick: Portrait of an Elizabethan Dynast, 1978.
E. C. Williams, Bess of Hardwick, 1959.
Michele Osherow

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bess of Hardwick — Bess of Hardwick, comtesse de Shrewsbury, par Rowland Lockley, 1592. Elizabeth Hardwick, ou Hardwicke, comtesse de Shrewsbury, connue sous le nom de Bess of Hardwick (1527–1608), est la fille de John Hardwick. Mariée quatre fois, elle est l… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bess of Hardwick — Bess of Hardwick, die Gräfin von Shrewsbury, 1592 Elizabeth Hardwick (Hardwicke), Gräfin von Shrewsbury, (* 1527; † 1608) wurde als Bess of Hardwick bekannt. Sie war die Tochter eines Adligen aus Derbyshire …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Bess of Hardwick — Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury (July 271527 ndash;February 13,1608 [cite web |url=http://www.elizabethan of hardwick.htm |title=Elizabethan] ), known as Bess of Hardwick, was the third surviving daughter of… …   Wikipedia

  • Hardwick Hall — Hardwick Hall. Hardwick Hall en Doe Lea, Derbyshire es una de las casa de campo a estilo isabelino mas significantes de Inglaterra. En común con otros trabajos de su arquitecto Robert Smythson como Longleat House y Wollaton Hall, Hardwick Hall es …   Wikipedia Español

  • Bess — may refer to:People *Elizabeth I (1533 1603), also known as Good Queen Bess *Elizabeth Bess Truman (1885 1920), First Lady of the United States and wife of Harry S. Truman *Elizabeth Raleigh (1565 1647), aka Bess or Elizabeth Throgmorton, wife of …   Wikipedia

  • Hardwick — and Hardwicke are common place names in England the word means livestock farm . Note that, in some cases, Hardwick and Hardwicke are interchangeable and the spelling has evolved over time. Hardwicke and Hardwick are also surnames.People* Michael… …   Wikipedia

  • Hardwick — ist Ortsbezeichnung: in Großbritannien: Hardwick (Buckinghamshire) Hardwick (Cambridgeshire) Hardwick (County Durham) Hardwick (Lincolnshire) Hardwick (Norfolk) Hardwick (Northamptonshire) in Kanada: Hardwicke (New Brunswick) in den USA: Hardwick …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hardwick Hall — For Hardwick Hall, Durham, see Hardwick Hall Country Park. Hardwick Hall Hardwick Hall, built 1590–1597 Type Country house Proprietor National Trust …   Wikipedia

  • Hardwick — Recorded in various spellings including Hardwick, Hardwich, Hardwidge, Harwick, Kerswick and others, this is an English medieval surname. It is locational from one of the places now called Hardwick in the counties of Buckinghamshire,… …   Surnames reference

  • Baron Cavendish d'Hardwick — Duc de Devonshire Pour les articles homonymes, voir Liste des comtes de Devon. Les ducs de Devonshire sont membres de la famille aristocrate des Cavendish au Royaume Uni. Ils étaient apparentés aux ducs de Newcastle du XVIe siècle, avec qui… …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.