Earl of Shrewsbury

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Earl of Shrewsbury as played by Gavin O'Connor

Born 1468, Died 26 July 1538

Character's backstory
George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury. The Earl of Shrewsbury is depicted in the series as a much younger man. Though at the time of the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, when he joined the 3rd Duke of Norfolk at Doncaster, he was 70 yrs old. The date confirms that he had to have been the 4th Earl of Shrewsbury; as titles are passed on after a noble dies.

Under King Henry VII, the Earl was a distinguished and honoured warrior. The Earl fought with distinction against Lambert Simnel at the Battle of Stoke (the last battle of the War of the Roses).

On the accession of King Henry VIII, the Earl continued to serve the King as he did his father and again distinguished himself amongst his peers. During Henry's reign the Earl became a powerful man, being Lord Steward of the King's Household and Lieutenant-General of the North. He was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, was placed in command of the army sent to control the border of Scotland, and was given many other high political positions at court. When the divorce question came on King Henry's 'Great Matter', Shrewsbury supported it, gave evidence at Queen Katherine of Aragon's trial, and signed the letter to the pope urging him to grant the divorce. He also signed the articles against Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1529. On 4 Nov 1530, Wolsey was arrested for treason and brought south from York for his trial, arriving four days later at the Manor Lodge of the Earl where he stayed for eighteen days. He was treated kindly by the Earl and his family, who tried to make his stay as comfortable as possible. However, Wolsey became very ill before leaving Sheffield while under guard.

In October 1536, the Earl of Shrewsbury, John Russell, Sir William, Baron of Kendal Parr (grandfather of Queen Catherine Parr), William Gonson, Francis Bryan and Admiral Sir William FitzWilliam, who were royalists, mustered the 1,000 troops from Gloucester who lived at Stony Stratford who were present against the rebels at Ampthill, Bedfordshire. It was Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and the 4th Earl of Shrewsbury, not Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk as the series depicts, that opened negotiations with the insurgents at Doncaster, where Robert Aske had assembled between thirty and forty thousand men. An armistice was then agreed upon, and the insurgents laid their demands before the King.

Having a large family and being a very wealthy man, he found the castle accommodation extremely cramped. He broke with the tradition of his family and decided to make Sheffield his home, living in the castle built by Lord Furnival. This castle is best known for holding Mary, Queen of Scots prisoner and indeed it was the 6th Earl, his grandson, who confined her. In 1516, he decided to build himself a country mansion on a hill about two miles away. Another contribution left by the 4th Earl was the chapel he built in Sheffield Parish Church, in which he and his family could be buried. This is now known as the Shrewsbury Chapel and now forms a historic part of Sheffield Cathedral.

In 1538, the Earl died, aged 70, while at Wingfield Manor.

His first wife, Lady Anne Hastings,
was at court as one of Katherine of Aragon’s ladies-in-waiting at the beginning of Henry VIII’s reign, and their youngest daughter Lady Lucy was a maid-of-honour. Lady Anne was a maternal half-sister of Cecily Bonville, Marquess of Dorset; the great-grandmother of Lady Jane Grey and Lady Catherine Grey.

Gentility: Nobility, Earl, Knight

Position: Earl of Shrewsbury (1473-1538), Earl of Waterford (1473-1538), Baron Talbot (1473-1533), Lord High Steward of Ireland (1473-1538), Lord Steward (1502-1538), Knight of the Bath (created 18 Apr 1475), Lieutenant-General of the North.

Personality type: Powerful man born into nobility. He was descended from Kings by both paternal and maternal grandparents. Royalist, dutiful, shrewd, headstrong.

Signature look: In the series he is shown in armour, then in court attire wearing his chains of office.

Endearing trait(s):
Shrewsbury promptly raised forces on his own authority during the Northern rising, and 'his courage and fidelity on this occasion perhaps saved Henry's crown.'

Annoying trait(s): Unsympathetic to those who oppose the King.

Earl of Shrewsbury as played by Gavin O'Connor

Talbot - Earl of Shrewsbury ArmsGeorge Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury Arms

Shrewsbury Chapel

His body was laid to rest in the Shrewsbury Chapel, in the Sheffield Parish Church. Here he joined his first wife, Anne Hastings, the mother of eleven of his children. In his will, the fourth Earl directed 'that a tomb of marble should be set over his grave with three images thereon, namely one of himself in his mantle of the Garter, another of his deceased wife in her robes, and a third of his wife then living'. This beautiful tomb, still in near perfect condition, stands under a flat-topped arch on the left-hand side of the Shrewsbury Chapel.

Links: <a class="external" href="http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/talbot4shrewsbury.htm" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury</a>


Family members:
Father: Sir John Talbot, 3rd Earl of Shrewsbury (1448-1473)
Mother: Lady Catherine Stafford (1437-1476)
Paternal grandfather: Sir John Talbot, 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury (1413-1460)
Paternal grandmother: Lady Elizabeth Butler (1420-1473)
Maternal grandfather: Sir Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1402-1460) - his mother was Lady Anne of Woodstock who married secondly Humphrey Bourchier, ancestor to Lady Margaret Bryan and Lord Latimer.
Humphrey was also the great-grandfather of the 3rd Duke.
Maternal grandmother: Lady Anne Neville (1411-1480), was the daughter of Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmoreland and Lady Joan Beaufort, daughter of Prince John of Gaunt.
Brother: Thomas Talbot (b. 1470), no issue.
Sister: Anne Talbot, Baroness Sudley (b. 1472), m. Thomas Butler, Baron Sudley. No issue.

1st wife: Lady Anne Hastings (b. 1471-1520)
2nd wife: Elizabeth Walden (d. 1567)

Children by 1st wife, Anne Hastings:
Son: Francis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury (1500-1560), m. Mary Dacre. Had issue.
Daughter: Lady Mary Talbot, Countess of Northumberland (d. 16 April 1572), m. the 6th Earl of Northumberland. No issue.
Daughter: Lady Margaret Talbot (d. circa 1516), m. Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland. No issue.
Daughter: Lady Elizabeth Talbot, Baroness Gillesland (c. 1507-1552), m. William Dacre, Baron Gillesland and Greystoke. Had issue.
Daughter: Lady Dorothy Talbot
Daughter: Lady Anne Talbot
Daughter: Lady Elizabeth Talbot
Son: Hon. Richard Talbot
Son: Hon. Henry Talbot
Son: Hon. John Talbot (died as infant)
Son: Hon. John Talbot (died as infant)
Son: Hon. William Talbot, Marshall of Ireland. No issue.

by 2nd wife, Elizabeth Walden:
Daughter: Lady Anne Talbot, Countess of Pembroke (1523-1588), m. 1st: Peter Compton (son of Sir William Compton), had issue. 2nd: William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke; his first wife was Anne Parr, sister to Queen Catherine Parr. No issue.
Son: Hon. John Talbot (died young)


Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk
King Henry VIII
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex
Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham
Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey
William Hastings
Princess Margaret Tudor (was godfather to her)
Sir Francis Bryan
William Compton, his son married his daughter Anne
Sir William, Baron Parr of Horton, uncle to Queen Catherine Parr
Catherine Parr
Anne Parr

Robert Aske
John Constable
Thomas, Lord Darcy
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
Lambert Simnel


  • "Then you must tell His Majesty". After speaking with Charles Brandon about his decision to try talking to the rebels instead of attacking first.


Earl of Shrewsbury as played by Gavin O'Connor
George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury Effigy
Tomb effigy of George Talbot and his two wives, Anne and Elizabeth, in Sheffield Cathedral
Earl of Shrewsbury, Charles Brandon, and Thomas Cromwell4th Earl of Shrewsbury Tomb Effigy