Sir George CHAWORTH, Knight

Born: 27 May 1549, Wiverton, Nottinghamshire, England

Died: 4 Mar 1589/90, Langer, Nottinghamshire, England

Buried: Langer, Nottinghamshire, England

Father: John CHAWORTH (Sir Knight)

Mother: Mary PASTON

Married: Anne PASTON 15 Jul 1572, Wiverton, Nottinghamshire, England


1. Isabel CHAWORTH

2. Elizabeth CHAWORTH

Son of Sir John Chaworth of Wiverton Hall, Nottinghamshire, and Mary, daughter of Sir William Paston and Bridget Heydon. The Chaworth family came from Sourches near Le Mans, Maine. George Chaworth was descended from Hugh de Cadurcis, whose brother, Bourchard de Cadurcis, is said to have fought at the Battle of Hastings with William the Conqueror.

His mother was the sister of Eleanor Paston, Countess of Rutland, and  by his grandmother he was a relative of Anne Boleyn. His cousin, Robert Barlow of Barlow, was the first husband of Elizabeth De Hardwick, C. Shrewsbury.

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth at Greenwich, 1584. He rendered a great service to his family by causing his pedigree to be drawn out and illuminated by Robert Glover, the Somerset Herald, in 1581. It is bound in tooled leather and mounted in silver, and is preserved with great care at Annesley. In the Belvoir MSS. there are many letters from Sir George to members of the Rutland family on public and private matters. In 1577 (23 Jul Nottingham), "...George Chaworth, Sheriff, Sir Gervase Clifton, John Byron and others acknowledge the receipt of the Queen's Commissions for musters in the County of Nottingham...".

In 1581, George Chaworth writes from Wyverton to Edward Manners, third Earl of Rutland that "...the Mayor and others of Nottingham desire to see you concerning the controversy touching their schoolmaster and other matters...". This sounds like modern Education Act difficulties, but the end of the letter puts a different complexion on it, observing "...their present, two oxen, will, as I hear, come a day before...".

Politics were discussed, much as in these days. Sir George writes to the Earl of Rutland in 1586, mentioning his uncle Thomas and Sir Thomas Stanhope:

"I enclose the answers of Retford and Nottingham. I lie at your disposition concerning the election of knights for this shire. Sir Thomas Stanhope would willingly supply one place as associate with Sir Thomas Manners or any other."

In the same year arose the question of an "isolation hospital". Thomas Faireburne writes from Newark to the Earl of Rutland at Ivy Bridge:

"The sickness does not spread in Bottesford. I have been to Sir George Chaworth in the matter, I have kept the suspected persons in one house this five weeks and it remains there only. We cannot learn certainly whether it is the plague or not, but it is very suspicious... Six have died. If it spreads any further we mean to build a house for them in the fields, and keep them out of the town..."

In the early part of 1588 died John, fourth Earl of Rutland, who had enjoyed the title and estates less than a twelvemonth, leaving a widow and large family, and there was some difficulty in finding executors to undertake the management of his affairs. Sir George Chaworth was one of them, and many letters passed between him and the widow, Elizabeth, daughter of Francis Charlton of Apley Castle, Salop.

The Countess, who describes herself as "a weak and sickly woman", says she has begged her uncle, Mr. John Manners, and her cousin, Sir George Chaworth, to undertake the executorship, but fears they will not, unless Lord Leicester and Lord Burghley move them to do so. Two days after (5 Apr 1588), Sir George asks the Countess's interest to continue his cousin at Annesley, George Chaworth (afterwards his heir) in the office of steward of Mansfield and Oswelbeck, so no doubt the affair of the executorship had been settled to the lady's satisfaction.

Sir George was one of the eleven knights who attended the Earl's funeral with his cousin Robert Markham, and Lady Chaworth, with Lady Manners and Mistress Sydenham, were the three gentlewomen who accompanied the Countess, and for whom "blacks", five yards long, were provided.

The summer of this year, 1588, was the long-remembered time:

"When that great fleet invincible against us bore in vain,
The richest spoils of Mexico, the stoutest hearts of Spain."

and the collection of arms and the levying of troops occupied the thoughts of the inhabitants of the Vale of Belvoir. Sir George Chaworth, going to Belvoir to look for some armour to furnish thirty of his men, could find none, but discovered a tent, "...used by the Earl Harry at St. Quintin...", which he thinks will serve, "...if hasty occasion should require it...". A few days later he writes that the "...earnest occasions of her Majesty's affairs..." hinder his attendance on the widowed Lady Rutland at Winkburne, her dower house.

In Sep 1588, however, when public matters are not quite so urgent, field sports can be thought of, and Sir George mentions that Mr. Zouche, and certain other of his companions, who are bringing their hounds to Wyverton, "...are desirous to have the hunt at Belvoir...".

The close of Sir George's career came the year after the Armada, when a "forced loan" had impoverished the gentry so much, that in one of his last letters, written from Annesley, 10 Dec 1589, he says, this year is "...soe fatall, that manie greate persons go to the Fleet and Gatehouse..." (debtor's prison). He himself is suffering from a "rewme" (rhume, or cold), and is " the mercy both of a physician and chirurgion...". In Jan, he asks Lady Rutland to lend him 200 and a litter to go to London to consult the college of physicians, but before starting is bled by Mr. Baker at Annesley. He is next heard of at his sister's, (Lady Carr's, house, at Pie Corner, in the city of London, where, on 22 Feb 1590, he writes of his "...dangerous, though not hopeless condition...", and gives some advice to Lady Rutland on business matters. This last letter of a long series ends:

"My last request to you is for your favour towards my kinsman in the stewardship of Mansfield, for which, dying or living, I shall account it a special favour done to myself."

He died 4 Mar, ten days later.

In Sir George's numerous letters he never mentions his daughter and heiress, Elizabeth, who married Sir William Cope, son of Sir Anthony Cope and Frances Lytton, and conveyed to him the oldest estate ef the Chaworths in Nottinghamshire, Marnham-on-the-Trent.

Sir George was buried in Langar Church, and Thoroton says that on the wall over the tomb of his father, Sir John, was written an inscription, stating that his heiress, Elizabeth, was not five years old at the time of his death, and that his widow married secondly, Sir Nicholas Le Strange, and thirdly, Sir Anthony Cope, father of Sir William, the eventual husband of her daughter.

By Sir George Chaworth's will, he bequeaths to this daughter, Elizabeth, among other things, a "...Jewell sett with little Rubies and Emeralds and a blacke enamyled cheyne part whereof was my mothers...". Perhaps this is the long chain represented on the monumental figure of Lady Chaworth in the north transept of Langar Church.

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