On this Day in History ... 17 May

17 May is in May.

1220 Westminster Coronation of Henry III

1464 Battle of Hexham

1521 Trial and Execution of the Duke of Buckingham

1535 Execution of the Carthusians

1536 Execution of Anne Boleyn and her Co-accused

1541 Executions

1568 Mary Queen of Scots escapes to England

1711 Smallpox Epidemic

Westminster Coronation of Henry III

On 17 May 1220 King Henry III of England (age 12) was crowned III King England at Westminster Abbey [Map] during the Westminster Coronation of Henry III since the Pope didn't consider the earlier Gloucester Coronation of Henry III to have been performed correctly. Archbishop Stephen Langton (age 70) presided.

On 17 May 1395 Mary Hungary I Queen Hungary (age 24) died.

On 17 May 1443 Edmund York 1st Earl of Rutland was born to Richard Plantagenet 3rd Duke York (age 31) and Cecily "Rose of Raby" Neville Duchess York (age 28) at Rouen [Map]. He a great x 2 grandson of King Edward III of England. Coefficient of inbreeding 2.38%.

Battle of Hexham

Chronicle of Gregory 1464. 17 May 1464. At the Newecastelle [Map], the xvij day of May, he let to be smete of the heddys, as the namys of hem done appere here aftyr in wrytynge: Fyrste, the hedde of the Lorde Hungerforde (age 33), the Lorde Roos (deceased), Syr Thomas Fyndorne, Barnarde de la Mare, Nycholas Massam.

Trial and Execution of the Duke of Buckingham

On 17 May 1521 Edward Stafford 3rd Duke of Buckingham (age 43) was beheaded at Tower Hill [Map] for no specific reason other than his having a significant amount of Plantagenet blood and was, therefore, considered a threat by Henry VIII (age 29). He was posthumously attainted by Act of Parliament on 31 July 1523, disinheriting his children. He was buried at St Peter's Church, Britford [Map]. Duke of Buckingham 1C 1444, Earl Stafford 1C 1351 and Baron Stafford 1C 1299 extinct.

His father Henry Stafford 2nd Duke of Buckingham had been executed for his part in Buckingham's Rebellion, his great-grandfather Humphrey Stafford 1st Duke of Buckingham was killed at the 1460 Battle of Northampton, and his great-great grand-father was killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury, not forgetting his great-uncle Henry Stafford who was killed at the Battle of Barnet and his daughter Margaret Stafford (age 10) who was burned at the stake for her part in Bigod's Rebellion.


Wriothesley's Chronicle. 17 May 1521. This yeare, on Fridaye before Whitsonday, beinge the 17 day of Maye, Edward Duke of Buckingham (age 43)a was beheaded at Tower Hill [Map].

Note a. Edward Stafford (age 43), Duke of Buckingham, was restored in 1486 by Henry VII. to his honours and estates. He commanded the select guard of Henry VIII (age 29) in the battle of the Spurs, 1613, but his observation, that the "Field of the Cloth of Gold" entailed ruin on the English nobles, so irritated the King that he determined on his ruin. It is also asserted that the King was jealons of his descent from Thomas of Woodstock and Edward III.

Execution of the Carthusians

Letters and Papers 1535. 17 May 1535. 726. There is strange news here of the cruelty of the king of England to certain religious men. He caused them to be ripped up in each other's presence, their arms torn off (con farli scarpar le braccia), their hearts cut out and rubbed upon their mouths and faces; and this for having caused remorse (per haver fatto coscienza) to certain ecclesiastics who had sworn that the King was Head of the English Church, and not the Pope. Has seen a letter of the 5th from London, saying that on the 4th a prior of one of the three Charterhouses, two friars of the Order, a prior of Sion, and a priest, who refused to swear to the King's supremacy, were hanged without degradation, as rebels. They were dragged through the streets in carts, their heads and feet were to be placed on the public gates, and the rest of their bodies burnt. The whole city is displeased, as they were of exemplary and holy life. It was thought that 10 or 12 priests now in the Tower would be also executed for the same cause. The same letter states that this "Gherardo" (Fitzgerald) in Ireland has lost a strong castle, and retired with 50 horse to the bogs, where he is safe while the wet weather lasts; but when it changes it will be easy for the King to take him dead or alive, for most of his followers have returned to their allegiance.

Execution of Anne Boleyn and her Co-accused

Hall's Chronicle 1536. 17 May 1536. And all the gentlemen were beheaded on the scaffold at the Tower hyll.

Letters 1536. 17 May 1536. 908. Today1 Rochford (age 33) has been beheaded before the Tower, and the four others above named, notwithstanding the intercession of the Bishop of Tarbes, the French ambassador resident, and the sieur de Tinteville, who arrived the day before yesterday, in behalf of one named Weston (age 25). The Concubine (age 35) saw them executed from the Tower, to aggravate her grief. Rochford (age 33) disclaimed all that he was charged with, confessing, however, that he had deserved death for having been so much contaminated and having contaminated others with these new sects, and he prayed everyone to abandon such heresies. The Concubine (age 35) will certainly be beheaded tomorrow, or on Friday at the latest, and I think the King feels the time long that it is not done already. The day before the putain's condemnation he sent for Mrs. Semel [Jane Seymour (age 27)] by the Grand Esquire and some others, and made her come within a mile of his lodging, where she is splendidly served by the King's cook and other officers. She is most richly dressed. One of her relations, who dined with her on the day of the said condemnation, told me that the King sent that morning to tell her that he would send her news at 3 o'clock of the condemnation of the putain (age 35), which he did by Mr. Briant, whom he sent in all haste. To judge by appearances, there is no doubt that he will take the said Semel [Jane Seymour (age 27)] to wife; and some think the agreements and promises are already made.

Note 1. This part of the letter was written on the 17th. See further on, at the beginning of the last paragraph.

Spanish Chronicle Chapter 30. 17 May 1536How the Duke, and Norris, and Brereton, and Mark were beheaded the next day1.

We have told how the old woman was ordered to be burned in the great courtyard of the Tower, and they made the Queen see it from an iron-barred window. She said, "Why do you grieve me so? I wish they would burn me with her." To which the keeper answered, "Madam, another death is reserved for you." I do not care for all the harm they can do me now," she said, "for they can never deny I was a crowned Queen, although I was a poor woman."

The next day they brought out the Duke and the others, and it was a surprising sight to see the great crowd there was. There came with the culprits over five hundred halberdiers, and when the Duke ascended, a gentleman said to him, "My lord Duke if you have anything to say, you can say it." Then the Duke turned to the people and said in the hearing of many, "I beg you pray to God for me; for by the trial I have to pass through I am blameless, and never even knew that my sister was bad. Guiltless as I am, I pray God to have mercy upon my soul." Then he lay upon the ground with his head on the block, the headsman gave three strokes, and so died this poor Duke.

Then Master Norris mounted, and made a great long prayer; and then, turning to the people, he said, "I do not think any gentleman at Court owes more to the King than I do, and none have been more ungrateful and regardless of it than I have. I deserve the death they condemn me to, and worse still, and so I pray to God for mercy on my soul, and acknowledge the justice of my sentence." Then he cast himself on the ground, and was beheaded. The next was Brereton, who said nothing but "I have offended God and the King; pray for me," and he was executed.

The last was Mark, and he cried in a loud voice that all could hear, "Oh, woe is me! Only four months ago I was a poor man, and my good fortune raised me to better things, and would have lifted me higher still, but for the devil's tempting, and my inability to resist the pride which has been my undoing. I thought treason would never come to light, but I confess now I erred, and do not deserve so honourable a death as that which the King has ordered me. I ask pardon of God and the King, for I have wronged him more than any other, and I beg you, gentlemen, to pray to God for me;" and then he threw himself down and was beheaded; but before he died he said, "Gentlemen, I ask pardon of Master Percy, for he would have been killed if I had not been arrested, as I had set men on to murder him;" and fortunately Master Percy was there, and answered, "God pardon thee, Mark, as I pardon thee2."

The good Wyatt was witnessing all this from a window of the Tower, and all the people thought that he also was to be brought out and executed; but Wyatt that night wrote a letter to the King, and sent it to him by a cousin of his, which letter was as follows.

Note 1. Sir Henry Norris, Lord Rochford, William Brereton, Mark Smeaton, and Sir Francis Weston were beheaded on 17th May, 1536. The Chronicle makes no mention of Sir Francis Weston.

Note 2. Lingard positively asserts that Smeaton was hanged, and not beheaded; but quotes at length the letter of a Portuguese gentleman, then resident in London, to a friend in Lisbon, in which the account given of the affair agrees with the present Chronicle.

Letters 1536. 19 May 1536. R. O. 918. Antony Pykeryng to Lady Lisle (age 42).

I have delivered to William Colle 7½ oz. of gold and 2s. 6d. st. to pay for dyeing and dressing your kersey. The gold cost 5s. an oz.; you gave me 7½ cr., which is 37s. 6d., and owe me 2s. 6d. On the 17th instant Lord Rochford (age 33), Master Norys (age 54), Master Weston (age 25), Master Brwerton, and Markes (age 24) of the Privy Chamber were put to death on Tower Hill.

Letters 1536. 19 May 1536. Vienna Archives. 911. Anne Boleyn (age 35), Rochford (deceased), &c.

"Execution criminal hecha en Inglatierra el 16 de Mayo 15361."

The count (Viscount) Rochefort (deceased), brother of the Queen (unjustly so called) Anne Boleyn, was beheaded with an axe upon a scaffold before the Tower of London. He made a very catholic address to the people, saying he had not come thither to preach, but to serve as a mirror and example, acknowledging his sins against God and the King, and declaring he need not recite the causes why he was condemned, as it could give no pleasure to hear them. He first desired mercy and pardon of God, and afterwards of the King and all others whom he might have offended, and hoped that men would not follow the vanities of the world and the flatteries of the Court, which had brought him to that shameful end. He said if he had followed the teachings of the Gospel, which he had often read, he would not have fallen into this danger, for a good doer was far better than a good reader. In the end, he pardoned those who had condemned him to death, and asked the people to pray for his soul. After him Norris (deceased) was beheaded, then Weston (deceased) and Brereton, and Marc (deceased), the player on the spinnet, who said scarcely anything except to cry mercy of God and the King, and beg people to pray for their souls. Brereton and Marc (deceased) were afterwards quartered.

Wriothesley's Chronicle. And the same day, in the after-noone, at a solemne court kept at Lambeth by the Lord Archbishoppe of Canterburie (age 46) and the doctors of the lawe, the King was divorced from his wife Queene Anne (age 35), and there at the same cowrte was a privie contract approved that she had made to the Earle of Northumberlande (age 34) afore the Kings tyme; and so she was discharged, and was never lawfull Queene of England, and there it was approved the same.


1541 Executions

Hall's Chronicle 1541. 17 May 1541. In the beginning of this yere, five priests in Yorkshire began a new rebellion, with the assent of one Leigh a gentleman, and nine temporal men, which were apprehended, and shortly after in diverse places put in execution, in so much that on the seventeenth day of May, the said Leigh and one Tattersall, and Thornton, were drawn through London to Tyburn [Map], and there were executed. And Sir John Neville (age 53) knight was executed for the same at York.

Henry Machyn's Diary. 17 May 1551. The xvij day my lade Marie (age 35) rod thrugh from Saynt [John's through] Flettstrett unto the court to Westmynster [with many] nobull men of lordes and knyghtes and gentyllmen and ladies and gentyllwomen, and at the court gatte she a-lyttyd, and M. [Wingfield] (age 64), the comtroller of the kynges howse, and mony lordes and [knights], and so she was browth thrught the halle unto the cham[ber of] pressens; and so she tared there and ade a goodly ba[nquet] ij owrs, and sone after she toke her horse and rod unto Sy[nt John's;] and ther she laie alle nyght, and on the morowe her [Grace] rod to Nuw Hall in Exsex, and ther byd yn grasse with honor, thanke be God and the kyng her brodur.

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On 17 May 1558 James Blount 6th Baron Mountjoy (age 25) and Catherine Leigh Baroness Mountjoy (age 26) were married. She by marriage Baroness Mountjoy.

Mary Queen of Scots escapes to England

On 16 May 1568 Mary Queen of Scots (age 25) escaped across the Solway Firth into England. The following day, 17 May 1568 she wrote to her cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland (age 34) from Workington Hall [Map]. The letter states ...

describes the treasonable actions of her enemies, who 'have robbed me of everything I had in the world' and expresses her confidence in Elizabeth 'not only for the safety of my life, but also to aid and assist me in my just quarrel'. Describing herself as Elizabeth's 'very faithful and affectionate good sister, cousin and escaped prisoner, Mary begs for an audience; 'I entreat you to send to fetch me as soon as you possibly can', for 'I am', she bemoans, 'in a pitiable condition, not only for a queen, but for a gentlewoman, for I have nothing in the world but what I had on my person when I made my escape, travelling sixty miles across the country the first day, and not having since ever ventured to proceed except by night, as I hope to declare before you if it pleases you to have pity, as I trust you will, upon my extreme misfortune.''

On 17 May 1569 George Dacre 5th Baron Dacre Gilsland 9th Baron Greystoke (age 8) died. There was a dispute as to whether his uncle Leonard Dacre should inherit Baron Dacre Gilsland 3C 1473 which would be the case if it was created by letters patent, or whether the Barony was in abeyance between the 5th Baron's (age 8) three sisters which would be the case of the barony had been created through a writ of summons. Such decisions would normally be referred to the Duke of Norfolk (age 33) in his capacity as Earl Marshal but he, Thomas Howard 4th Duke of Norfolk (age 33), had married Elizabeth Leybourne Duchess Norfolk, the mother of the three daughters although she had died in the meantime; he was not impartial - the three daughters were now his step-daughters. The matter was referred to Commissioners who decided the Barony had been created by writ between and was, therefore, abeyant between the three daughters who were now the step-daughters of Thomas Howard 4th Duke of Norfolk (age 33). He, Thomas Howard 4th Duke of Norfolk (age 33) subsequently married his eldest son Philip Howard 20th Earl Arundel (age 11) to his eldest step-daughter Anne Dacre Countess Arundel (age 12). After Thomas Howard's (age 33) execution in 1572 the two remaining daughters, Mary Dacre (age 5) and Elizabeth Dacre (age 4) were married to his two remaining sons Thomas Howard 1st Earl Suffolk (age 7) and William "Belted" Howard (age 5) respectively ensuring all of the Dacre and Greystoke wealth and estates in Cumberland, Yorkshire and Northumberland would become the property of the Howard family.NOTEXT

On 17 May 1573 Reginald Grey 5th Earl Kent (age 33) died. His brother Henry Grey 6th Earl Kent (age 32) succeeded 6th Earl Kent 8C 1465, 9th Baron Grey of Ruthyn 1324.


On 17 May 1575 Archbishop Matthew Parker (age 70) died.

On 17 May 1633 Penelope Noel (age 22) died. Monument in St James' Church, Chipping Campden [Map]. Sculpted by John Christmas (age 34) or possibly his brother Mathias.

Penelope Noel: On 22 Aug 1610 she was born to Edward Noel 2nd Viscount Campden (age 28) and Juliana Hicks Viscountess Campden (age 24).

On 17 May 1662 William Wettin Duke Saxe Weimar (age 64) died at Weimar.


Charles Yelverton 14th Baron Grey of Ruthyn: On 21 Aug 1657 he was born to Henry Yelverton Baron Grey of Ruthyn (age 24) and Susan Longueville 13th Baroness Grey of Ruthyn. On 30 Oct 1670 Henry Yelverton Baron Grey of Ruthyn (age 37) died. He was buried at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Easton Maudit. His son Charles Yelverton 14th Baron Grey of Ruthyn (age 13) succeeded 3rd Baronet Yelverton of Easton Maudit in Northamptonshire. On 28 Jan 1676 Susan Longueville 13th Baroness Grey of Ruthyn died. She was buried at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Easton Maudit. Her son Charles Yelverton 14th Baron Grey of Ruthyn (age 18) succeeded 14th Baron Grey of Ruthyn 1324. On 17 May 1679 Charles Yelverton 14th Baron Grey of Ruthyn (age 21) died. His brother Henry Yelverton 1st Viscount Longueville succeeded 15th Baron Grey of Ruthyn 1324, 4th Baronet Yelverton of Easton Maudit in Northamptonshire. Barbara Talbot Viscountess Longueville (age 14) by marriage Baroness Grey of Ruthyn 1324.

1711 Smallpox Epidemic

On 17 May 1724 Bussy Mansel 4th Baron Mansel (age 3) and Elizabeth Hervey (age 26) were married. The difference in their ages was 23 years. She the daughter of John Hervey 1st Earl Bristol (age 58) and Elizabeth Felton Countess Bristol (age 47).


On 17 May 1731 BIshop Samuel Bradford (age 78) died in the Deanery, Westminster Abbey [Map]. He was buried in Westminster Abbey [Map].

On 17 May 1767 Sarah Hussey (age 80) died. She was buried at the Church of St John the Baptist, Great Hale [Map].

Sarah Hussey: Around 1687 she was born to Edward Hussey 2nd And 3rd Baronet (age 25) and Charlotte Brevint. Before 18 Oct 1728 Robert Cawdron and Sarah Hussey (age 41) were married.

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On 17 May 1814 George Onslow 1st Earl Onslow (age 82) died. His son Thomas Onslow 2nd Earl Onslow (age 60) succeeded 2nd Earl Onslow, 2nd Viscount Cranley, 5th Baron Onslow, 6th Baronet Onslow of West Clandon in Surrey, 7th Baronet Foote of London. Arabella Mainwaring Ellerker Countess Onslow by marriage Countess Onslow.

On 17 May 1829 Charlotte Mary Hughes Lady Williams died. Monument in St Marys and St Nicholas Church Beaumaris [Map].

Charlotte Mary Hughes Lady Williams: She was born to William Lewis Hughes. Before 17 May 1829 Richard Williams-Bulkeley 10th Baronet (age 27) and she were married. On 01 Dec 1830 Robert Williams 9th Baronet (age 66) died. His son Richard Williams-Bulkeley 10th Baronet (age 29) succeeded 10th Baronet Williams of Penrhyn in Caernarfonshire. She by marriage Lady Williams.

On 17 May 1845 Algernon St Maur 14th Duke Somerset (age 31) and Horatia Isabella Harriet Morier Duchess Somerset (age 25) were married. He the son of Edward Seymour 11th Duke Somerset (age 70) and Charlotte Hamilton Duchess Somerset.

On 17 May 1876 Corisande Emma Bennet Countess Malmesbury (age 69) died. Memorial in Christchurch Priory [Map] sculpted by John Flaxman.

Corisande Emma Bennet Countess Malmesbury: In 1807 she was born to Charles Augustus Bennet 5th Earl Tankerville (age 30) and Corisande Armandine Sophie Léonie Hélène Gramont Countess Tankerville (age 24). On 13 May 1876 James Harris 3rd Earl Malmesbury (age 69) and Corisande Emma Bennet Countess Malmesbury (age 69) were married. She by marriage Countess Malmesbury. She the daughter of Charles Augustus Bennet 5th Earl Tankerville and Corisande Armandine Sophie Léonie Hélène Gramont Countess Tankerville. He the son of James Edward Harris 2nd Earl Malmesbury and Harriet Susan Dashwood.


On 17 May 1884 John Lubbock 1st Baron Avebury (age 50) and Alice Lane Fox-Pitt Baroness Avebury (age 22) were married. She by marriage Lady Lubbock of Lammas in Norfolk. The difference in their ages was 27 years.

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On 25 Nov 1885 Alfonso XII King Spain (age 27) died. On 17 May 1886 His son Alfonso XIII King Spain succeeded posthumously XIII King Spain when he was born some seven months later.

On 17 May 1889 James Harris 3rd Earl Malmesbury (age 82) died. His nephew Edward Harris 4th Earl Malmesbury (age 47) succeeded 4th Earl Malmesbury, 4th Viscount Fitz-Harris of Hurn Court in Hampshire, 4th Baron Malmesbury. Sylvia Georgina Stewart Countess of Malmesbury by marriage Countess Malmesbury.

On 17 May 1891 Princess Alexandra Duff Duchess Fife was born to Alexander Duff 1st Duke Fife (age 41) and Louise Windsor Duchess Fife (age 24). She a granddaughter of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom.

On 17 May 1933 David George Arbuthnot (age 28) and Elisabeth Kemeys-Tynte 10th Baroness Wharton 19067 (age 27) were married.

On 17 May 1937 Emily Thicknesse-Touchet died. Her sister Mary Thicknesse-Touchet 22nd Baroness Audley (age 78) abeyance terminated 22nd Baroness Audley of Heighley in Staffordshire.

After 17 May 1996. Monument to Iain J Pellett died 17 May 1996 aged twenty-three.

On 17 May 2012 June Wendy Pelham (age 87) died. Her sister Diana Mary Pelham 15th Baroness Conyers 9th Fauconberg (age 91) abeyance terminated 16th Baroness Conyers, 9th Baroness Fauconberg

On 17 May 2017 Eustace Gibbs 3rd Baron Wraxall (age 87) died.