Margaret SKIPWITH

(B. Talboys of Kyme)

Born: AFT 1520

Died: 6 May 1583

Father: William SKIPWITH of South Ormsby (Sir)

Mother: Alice DYMOKE

Married 1: George TALBOYS (2 B. Talboys of Kyme) BET 26 Apr / 15 May 1539

Married 2: Peter CAREW (Sir) 20 Feb 1547

Married 3: John CLIFTON of Barrington (Sir) 20 Jul 1579 (b. 1541 - d. ABT 1593)


Margaret Skipwith was the daughter of Sir William Skipwith of Kettleby and South Ormsby, Lincolnshire, and his second wife, Alice Dymoke, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Lionel Dymoke of Mareham-on-the-Hill, Lincolnshire, by his first wife, Joan, daughter of Rhys Griffith, Esq

In 1538, when Henry VIII was a widower looking for a foreign bride, Margaret Skipwith was rumored to be his mistress. Rumours abounded at court as to whether an Englishwoman would again sit on the throne of England. One courtier, John Hussey, wrote to Lord Lisle on 3 Jan 1538/9:

'...The election lieth between Mrs. Mary Shelton and Mrs. Mary Skipwith. I pray Jesu send such one as may be for his Highness' comfort and the wealth of the realm. Herein I doubt not but your lordship will keep silence till the matter be surely known...'

Mistress Skipwith is more likely to be Margaret than Mary. Mary Skipwith married George Fitzwilliam of Mablethorpe around 1550. Her date of marriage suggests she may have been too young to marry at the time of the rumours, twelve years beforehand. It is likely that, as with the Sheltons, Mary and Marg, the abbreviated version of Margaret, were confused here, and it was Margaret Skipwith who Henry was rumoured to be interested in.

Three monts after this rumour, in Apr 1539, Margaret married George, Lord Talboys, son of Sir Gilbert Talboys, first Baron Talboys and  Elizabeth Blount, King Henry's former mistress. Young Lord Talboys was a guard of Margaret cousin, William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton. Probably as lady in waiting of Princess Elizabeth, she was at court regularly in 1538, 1540, and 1541, when her name appears in royal household expenses and after she was widowed she was granted the wardship of a son of Anthony Tottoft.

In 1546, Sir Peter Carew asked King Henry's help in persuading Margaret to marry him. At first the King was unwilling to help, but later changed his mind and wrote to Margaret on Sir Peter's behalf. They were married on 20 Feb 1547, the same day Edward VI was crowned King. Sir Peter participated in the tournaments celebrating the coronation. Margaret, who continued to be called Lady Talboys, spent most of the next few years in Lincolnshire, where she owned eight manors. Carew, who was sheriff of Devon, divided his time between the two counties. In Dec 1552, he owed the Crown 2100.

When Mary Tudor became Queen, Carew was one of the leaders in Wyatt's Rebellion and went into exile when the uprising failed. The story goes that Margaret dreamed her husband slipped while boarding the ship on which he was to escape and drowned. In fact, although he did slip, he was rescued. Carew's lands were forfeit to the Crown but his moveable property was sold back to Margaret in Jun 1554. She was a tireless campaigner on her husband's behalf. She petitioned Queen Mary and King Felipe, asking permission to write to her husband and sent him 'material relief'. On 17 Sep 1554, she sent 'an ambling grey gelding' worth 10s. to Sir William Petre, a member of the Privy Council. Five days later, she was called before the Privy Council and told she could correspond with Sir Peter and, one time only, send him money. She wisely demanded a written copy of the royal answer to her petition. It is at about this time that Mary is said to have called her 'a good and loving wife'.

Margaret continued to be her husband's advocate, seeking a pardon for him from the Queen. Meanwhile, Sir Peter, who had gone as far as Venice, returned to England in secret in Apr 1555. That autumn, Margaret journeyed to Brussels to plead with Felipe for permission for Sir Peter to return to England permanently. She carried a letter from her husband, who was then in Strasbourg. On 24 Nov 1555, Queen Mary agreed to pardon Carew. Peter, then in Antwerp, reached Brussels by mid-Dec. The pardon was officially issued on 9 Dec 1555 but copies did not reach Brussels until 15 Mar 1556. Margaret, who was still there, with her husband, then needed a pardon of her own before she could return to England, since she had remained out of the country longer than her license to travel allowed. She returned home ahead of her husband, who was still on the Continent in May. On 15 May 1556, he was arrested, in spite of the pardon, and for two weeks his whereabouts were unknown. On 1 Jun, he was in the Tower of London. It is possible this was a ruse to cover up the fact that he betrayed some of his friends in return for the pardon, but if so, Margaret was not told. She once again worked diligently on her husband's behalf and on 7 Jul he was given better accomodations and allowed conjugal visits. Margaret spent that summer campaigning for his release. Finally, in return for the settlement of old debts, Carew was released on 19 Oct 1556. He received a regrant of some of the lands that had been forfeit to the Crown and others were granted in reversion, but he still owed the Crown 820. The eight manors Carew and his wife held in Lincolnshire plus two in Somersetshire yielded a yearly rent of 133.6s.8d.

Under Elizabeth, Carew spent much of his time in Ireland. He sent for Margaret to join him there in Mar 1569, but she lived primarily in Lincolnshire and at Mohuns Ottery in Devon and was not with Sir Peter when he died. In 1579, she married her third husband, Sir John Clifton of Barrington. She had no children by any of her husbands. When she died, most of Sir Peter's debts were still outstanding.
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