(V. Lisle)

Born: 1493

Died: Apr 1566

Buried: 30 Apr 1566, Logan, Cornwall, England

Father: Thomas GRENVILLE (Sir)

Mother: Isabella GILBERT

Married: John BASSETT of Umberley (Sir)

1. Phillippa BASSETT

2. John BASSETT (b. 1518 - d. 1541)

3. Catherine BASSETT



6. George BASSETT

7. James BASSETT

Married: Arthur PLANTAGENET (V. Lisle)

Grenville,Honor_brass.jpg (40600 bytes)

Honor Grenville, Viscountess Lisle

Detail of the brass of Sir John Bassett and his two wives

Church of St. Mary, Atherington, Devonshire.

Honor Grenville was the daughter of Sir Thomas Grenville of Stow in Kilkhampton, Cornwall; and his wife Isabella Gilbert. In 1515 she married Sir John Bassett of Umberley and by him had three sons: John, George, and James, and four daughters: Philippa, Catherine , Anne, and Mary. After his death she married Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle, an illegitimate son of Edward IV. He was a widower with three daughters, Frances, Elizabeth, and Bridget. The eldest, Frances, married Honor's son John in 1538.

In 1532, Honor was one of the "six beautiful ladies" who accompanied Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn to Calais to meet King Francois I and in Jun 1533 the entire family settled there when Lisle was appointed Lord Deputy.  They lived in Calais until 1540, where Honor succeeded in making good marriage matches for her daughters and placing her sons in the houses of other lords. The correspondence between Calais and England, much of it Lady Lisle's, has been preserved and edited in six volumes by M. St. Clare Byrne as The Lisle Letters.

The formidable Lady Lisle, had attempted to secure a place for her two daughters, Anne and her sister Elizabeth Bassett) in the service of Queen Anne Boleyn several times, but to no avail. She persisted in her efforts to secure them positions.

Throughout Anne's tenure as queen, Lady Lisle continued to ply her with presents. In early 1534, Sir Francis Bryan wrote to her about the dog she had sent 'which the Queen liked so well that she took it from him before it had been an hour in his hands'. This was 'little Purkoy' whose death from a fall a few months later no one but the King dared to reveal to her, an incident that seems to confirm a suspicion that Anne was unfortunate as a dog owner, for Urian, her greyhound, had earlier killed a cow. In the spring of 1534, the Queen was pleased with Lady Lisle's gift of eighteen dotterels and a song bird. One agent wrote about her pleasure, informing Lady Lisle that Anne had promised to be 'good lady' to her, and still another correspondent told his mistress that Anne had inquired about her health and whether she liked Calais. Even Lord Rochford, who had actually presented to his sister the dotterels that had only recently been killed at Dover, referred to her gratitude. Lady Lisle continued to search for gifts to picase Anne, one agent informing her in 1535 that the Queen would not like a monkey, for she 'loveth no such beasts ๑or can scant abide the sight of them'.

The Queen's servants, whose domestic offices put them in a better position than most outsiders to obtain Anne's support, expected suitors to return their favors. After George Taylor presented to the Queen a New Year's present and other gifts from Lady Lisle, he asked the Viscountess to assist his uncle George Gainsford, who had long possessed a spear's room at Calais. Taylor further sought and obtained from the Queen a letter, which was addressed to Lord Lisle, requesting favorable treatment for this aged relative. Margery Horsman also sent a man with whom she was not personally acquainted to the Viscountess for assistance. He was the friend of a Horsman associate.

A serious shock came on 10 May 1536. John Dudley, Plantagenet's stepson by his first wife, wrote to Lady Lisle:

'... As touching the news that are here, I am sure it needeth not to write to you nor to my lord of them, for all the world knoweth them by this time. This day was indicted Mr Norris, Mr Weston, William Brereton, Markes [Mark Smeaton] and my Lord of Rochford. And upon Friday next they shall be arraigned at Westminster. And the Queen herself shall be condemned by Parliament...'

In mid-Jul 1537, Lady Lisle sent quails to the new Queen, Jane Seymour, then six months pregnant. 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. Anne was chosen, and Catherine joined the household of the Countess of Rutland.

At the end of Nov, Lady Honor Lisle, again in England, was allowed to see the Prince Edward. She was enthusiastic in a letter to her husband:

'...I have seen my lord prince who is the goodliest babe that ever I set mine eyes upon. I pray God make him an oํd man, for I should never be weary of looking on him...'

Years later Honor was still asking for positions to her daughters. The new Queen was Anne of Cleves. 'Apply to Mrs. Loew', the Countess of Rutland advised her friend Lady Lisle, for she 'can do as much ... as any woman' to secure the appointment of Catherine, as one of the Queen's maids. Mrs. Loew was a German gentlewoman, who had accompanied Anne from Cleves. Unlike most of Anne's German entourage, who, as was the custom, were sent home soon after the marriage, she was allowed to remain in England. 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.

In 1540, Lisle was arrested and charged with treason. Honor and her daughters Philippa and Mary were held under house arrest, in part because Mary had been hiding a secret betrothal to a Frenchman, something for which she needed the king's permission. Lisle's complicity in the schemes of his chaplain, Gregory Botolph, could not be proven and in Mar 1542, he was told he would be set free. Unfortunately, the shock of this news was too much for him and he died that same night.

Honor returned to England and lived in obscurity in the West Country until her death. Honor was buried at Logan, Cornwall 30 Apr 1566.


Warnicke, Retha M.: The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (Cambridge University Press – 2008 – Cambridge)

Wilson, Derek: The uncrowned Kings of England: The black History of the Dudleys and the Tudor Throne (Carroll & Graf Publishers – 2005 - New York)

Hutchinson, Robert: The Last days of Henry VIII: Conspiracies, Treason and Heresy at the Court of the dying tyrant (William Morrow – 2005 – New York)

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