Memorials of the Tower of London

De Ros, William Lennox






ALTHOUGH this unfortunate victim of the jealousy and caution of Henry VIII. was in no respect a prominent historical character, except as regards the high and peculiar position in which his birth had placed him in relation to the English Crown, yet few have been so unhappily remarkable for one of those long and weary captivities of the Tower which seem almost painful to record.

During the short period he was allowed to emerge from his prison, he had just time to taste those pleasures of life and youth to which his noble manners and handsome person would have given him easy and agreeable access, when he was again confined, and released only to end his few remaining days in a foreign land.

Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire and Marquis of Exeter, was born about 1526, and when his father was beheaded, he being then twelve years old, was committed to the Tower, lest "he should avenge his father's wrongs." He continued there through the reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI., being excepted by name from the


general pardon proclaimed on the coronation of the latter. On the accession of Mary to the throne she set him free, and showed him much favour, and some say, from his personal beauty and his royal extraction, was disposed to single him out from among her various suitors. He, however, showed a great preference for the Princess Elizabeth, and thus falling into disfavour with the Queen, was again committed to the Tower, whence, after a year's imprisonment, he obtained the Queen's leave to travel to Italy, and died at Padua, October 4th of the same year, 1556. [1]  "This Earl was born to be a prisoner, for from twelve years of age to almost thirty, when he died, he had enjoyed scarcely two years of liberty." He was the twelfth Earl of Devonshire of that name and family, second Marquis of Exeter, and fifteenth Baron of Okehampton.


[1] See Cleaveland's ' History of Courtenay Family.'