Died: 16 Apr 1572
Buried: Sheffield church
Father: George TALBOT (4º E. Shrewsbury)
Mother: Anne HASTINGS (C. Shrewsbury)
Married: Henry Algernon PERCY (6º E. Northumberland) Jan 1524
Lady Mary Talbot was one of the eleven children of George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury, and his first wife, Anne Hastings. She was the sister of Francis, later 5th Earl of Shrewsbury, and of Elizabeth, married to William Dacre, 3rd Baron Dacre, Margaret, married, as his first wife, Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland.
Mary was betrothed to Henry Percy, heir of the Earl of Northumberland, in 1516. In Jan 1524, she was forced to marry Henry, who had fallen deeply in love with Anne Boleyn, then a lady-in-waiting to Catalina of Aragon. He naturally did not wish to marry Mary. It was Cardinal Wolsey who was responsible for breaking up the affair between Henry and Anne, reminding Henry of his precontract with Mary Talbot.
After Henry's father, the 5th Earl of Northumberland, was quickly summoned to the English court and apprised of the situation, he took Henry Percy home to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. The date of the marriage is debated, with estimates made between Sep 1523 and Aug 1525 or Aug 1526.
Henry succeeded his father on 19 May 1527, and Mary was henceforth styled as the Countess of Northumberland. The marriage, however, was unhappy, and they had no children. In 1528, her husband was complaining about Mary’s “malicious arts” and “imaginations of untruth”. Mary’s father, meanwhile, was concerned that Northumberland might be abusing his wife, even poisoning her. Northumberland refused to let any of Talbot’s servants see or talk to Mary. She gave birth to a stillborn child in Apr 1529.
Eventually, she left him and went home to her family. In Jun 1532, Mary sought an annulment, on the grounds that her husband had a precontract with Anne Boleyn. Percy was questioned by Henry VIII and the petition was thrown out by Parliament; Mary and Henry remained married.
In 1536, Shrewsbury claimed that Northumberland had not paid Mary the 200 marks a year he had promised her when they separated. Northumberland countered with the charge that Shrewsbury had never handed over Mary’s dowry. This particular debate ended with Northumberland’s death.
Mary lived into the reign of Elizabeth. In later life, though she had a grant of abbey lands from the Dissolution of the Monasteries, she was suspect of being a Roman Catholic, a favourer of Mary, Queen of Scots, and of hearing mass in her house. Mary died on 16 Apr 1572 (Date of death is also given as 6 Jun 1572). She was buried in Sheffield church.
DNB: Archbold, William Arthur Jobson (1895). "Percy, Henry Algernon (1502?-1537)".
Sidney Lee. Dictionary of National Biography 44. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
Weir, Alison: The Six Wives of Henry VIII
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