Eleanor PASTON

(C. Rutland)


Born: BEF 1496, Wiverton, Nottinghamshire, England

Died: BET 1550/55 / 12 Oct 1559, Holywell, Shoreditch, England

Buried: St Leonard's, Shoreditch, England

Father: William PASTON (Sir)

Mother: Bridget HEYDON

Married: Thomas MANNERS (1° E. Rutland) BEF 1523


1. Elizabeth MANNERS

2. Gertrude MANNERS (C. Shrewsbury)

3. Henry MANNERS (2° E. Rutland)

4. Anne MANNERS (C. Westmoreland)

5. John MANNERS (Sir Knight)

6. Frances MANNERS (B. Abergavenny)

7. Roger MANNERS of Uffington (Esq.)

8. Thomas MANNERS (Sir Knight)

9. Catherine MANNERS

10. Oliver MANNERS (Esq.)

11. Isabel MANNERS (d. young)

Paston,Eleonor(C.Rutland).jpg (60543 bytes)

Detail of the effigie of Eleanor Paston at Bottesford

(she is interred in St. Margaret's, Shoreditch, Middlesex)

Eleanor Paston was the daughter of Sir William Paston and Bridget Heydon. Eleanor was by birth a Paston, whose family's fortunes were inevitably linked with the house of Howard. By her mother she was a relative of Anne Boleyn. She married Thomas Manners, Earl of Rutland, as his second wife before 1523. Their children were Elizabeth, Gertrude, Henry, Anne, Sir John, Frances, Roger, Sir Thomas, Catherine, Oliver, and Isabel. In between giving birth she was a lady of the privy chamber to Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, and Catherine Howard

About 1533 Lady Rutland wrote a letter expressing her dislike of the Holy Maid of Kent. In 1536, the Rutlands’ London house at Holywell in Shoreditch was the scene of a triple wedding uniting Henry Manners, age ten, with Lady Margaret Neville, Anne Manners with Lord Henry Neville, and Dorothy Neville with John De Vere, Lord Bulbeck.

In Jul 1537, Lady Rutland was quarantined at Enfield after a member of her household came down with the dreaded "sweat", but she was back at court in Aug.

On 12 Nov 1537 Eleanor was in the first Chariot at Queen Jane’s Funeral Procession, with Mary Arundell, Countess of Sussex; Frances Brandon, Marchioness of Dorset; Mabel Clifford, Countess of Southampton; Cecily Daubeney, Countess of Bath; Lady Margaret Douglas and Elizabeth Scrope, Countess of Oxford.

Catherine Bassett, stepdaughter of Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle, was in competition with her younger sister, Anne Bassett, for one opening among Jane Seymour’s maids of honor. Queen Jane was stricy in what she requires of her ladies. John Husee, agent of Lisle, in a letter to Lady Lisle, a written on 9 May 1537, mentions lady Rutland's thanks for a heart of gold, which furnishes the date of the present letter:

“Madam, In my right hearty manner I recommend me unto you, and even so glad I am to hear that you be in good health, which I pray God long to continue. Madam, I do most heartily thank you for your cherries and peascods which you have sent unto me by this bearer, and for many other gifts that you have sent unto me heretofore; and sorry I am that I can do you no pleasure, but, God willing, I shall deserve your kindness if I can, And where you send to know whether I did receive a heart of gold from you, truth is it came unto me bụt of late, which heart I do send unto you here inclosed by your said servant. And for news I have none, but that the king's highness and the queen's grace is in good health and merry, thanks be unto Almighty God. I pray you to have me recommended unto my lord your bedfellow. And thus I beseech Almighty God have you in his blessed tuition.
Written at Hampton Court, the 10th day of June,
By your loving friend,


In mid-Jul 1537, Jane, then six months pregnant, was eating quails for dinner. The quails had been sent by Lady Lisle, and the Countesses of Rutland and Sussex, who were serving the Queen, took advantage of the fact. They reminded her of Lady Lisle's suit for her daughters by her previous marriage, Anne and Catherine Basset, to be taken into the Queen's service. The birds were delicious and the Queen was disposed to be gracious. But not too much. Let both girls be sent for, she decreed, and she would take her pick of one of them. When Anne was chosen instead, Catherine joined the household of the Countess of Rutland. There was some talk of placing her with Catherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, or Anne Stanhope, Countess of Hertford, but Catherine apparently preferred Lady Rutland. Efforts continued to be made to win a position for her as a maid of honor but it was not until Anne of Cleves was no longer queen that Catherine was placed in her household in Aug 1540.

On 28 Apr 1539 her daughter Gertrude married George Talbot, heir of the Earl of Shrewsbury. The Earl of Rutland paid 3,000 marks for the marriage.

At the household of Anne of Cleves, three surviving ladies from Cleves were naturally closest to the Queen, but three Englishwomen, despite linguistic difficulties, became very much part of her domestic circle — Lady Rutland, wife of her Chamberlain, and two widows, Lady Rochford and Lady Edgecombe. Lady Rochford, widow of George Boleyn, who had been dismissed from her post in Anne Boleyn's Bed-chamber, had regained favour under Jane Seymour soon after her husband's execution; while Catherine Edgecombe had recently lost her second husband, the Devonshire Sir Piers Edgecombe. The last attendant of note was Mistress Lowe, from Cleves, mother of the maids of honour, a matronly confidante, whose influence extended throughout the Queen's apartments.

The Queen's forthright English ladies-in-waiting became impatient at the delay in her conceiving. Jane, Lady Rochford, believed that directness was the only remedy and one day told her: 'I think your grace is still a maid'. After an embarrassed silence, Anne replied, naively: 'How can I be a maid... and sleep every night with the king?' and described her innocent bedtime ritual: 'When he comes to bed, he kisses me and takes me by the hand and bids me, "Goodnight sweetheart," and in the morning, kisses me and bids me, "Farewell darling." Is this not enough?'. Lady Eleanor Rutland told her pointedly: 'Madam, there must be more than this, or it will be long ere we have a Duke of York, which this realm most desires'.

Eleanor exercised a sway over the ladies of the Queen's Household for almost a decade. She was a grande dame of the old school, being kindly, level-headed and generous. She was also catholic in her friendships and mainstream in her religion. But she took advantage of her husband's death to retire from the Court and she was replaced as the dominant force in the Queen Catherine Parr's Household by her sister, Anne Herbert, who became Chief Lady of the Queen's Privy Chamber.

In his last will, dated 16 Aug 1543 (printed in "Testamenta Vetusta" ii. 719), the Earl of Rutland confirms to the lady Eleanor, Countess of Rutland, for her life, several manors, consisting of Belvoir, Woolsthorp, and many others, to the yearly value of £410 15s. 4 ¾ d.; with the addition of Croxton and others, of the yearly value of £280 9s. 11 ¾ d.; “all which have been already assigned to the faid lady Eleanor my wife, for her jointure and dower, of myn intention, and for other considerations and sure promises made by the said countess to me the said Earl, to be loving, benevolent, and favourable to my children. And constitutes his executors, Eleanor, Countess of Rutland, his wife; Sir Richard Manners, his brother; Sir John Chaworth, knight, his brother in law; Augustine Porter, Henry Digby, and Robert Thurston, esquires; and to each of them gives £40. 

After the reign of Edward VI, the prominence of Eleanor Paston, Countess of Rutland, at the court of Queen Mary, may account for the appointment of Roger Manners as an Esquire of the Body and serving both Mary and Elizabeth. The same prominence should be influenced to achieve the marriage of her daughter, Lady Frances, with Henry Neville, fourth Baron Abergavenny.

There is a monument to Eleanor and three other women in St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, erected in 1591. It says she was buried there in 1551. There is no death date on her husband's tomb at Bottesford, since that monument was erected during her lifetime, but M. St. Clare Byrne gives her death date as 12 Oct 1559.
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