Andrew Dudley’s Rich Apparel

In January 1550 John Dudley, Earl of Warwick was consolidating his position after a recent plot to arrest him by conservative earls, who “some imagineth that they went about the subversion of religion”. To all parties concerned it was clear that control of access to the inner sanctum of power was crucial:

And where there were bolts on the doors of the king’s highness privy chamber the Earl of Arundel caused divers of them to be taken away. What he meant thereby I know not, but his answer was therein to Sir Andrew Dudley coming to him at the striking of the bolts that he would not tarry at other men’s pleasure to come to the king’s chamber.1

After a career as a dashing commander at sea and land, Sir Andrew Dudley, John Dudley’s younger brother, had been appointed one of “four principal gentlemen of His Highness’ Privy Chamber” on 15 October 1549.2 Dudley also served as a joint keeper of the Palace of Westminster. Effectively in charge of the privy purse, he was responsible for receiving and paying out royal cash. He looked also after “all the jewels … and other things in the palace”,3 and in this function made an inventory of the king’s wardrobe and household goods.

The young man’s cap, in this work by Bronzino, is decorated with what was known as “aiglettes”, pairs of metal tags.

In December 1552 he travelled to Brussels to discuss Edward VI’s hopes of mediating a peace between the Holy Roman Empire and France, and to meet Charles V. When Dudley offered to kiss his hand, the emperor embraced him. On 19 February 1553, back in England, he reported to Edward VI personally. At the end of July 1553 Sir Andrew found himself a prisoner in the Tower, and on 19 August he was condemned to death for his part in placing Lady Jane Grey on the throne of England. Though he escaped the axe, his attainder still meant that his goods were confiscated and so, once again, an inventory had to be made. In June 1553, Sir Andrew, soon to be the uncle of England’s king consort, had been betrothed to Margaret Clifford, Lady Jane’s cousin. He sent his most precious stuffs to the North of England, to his prospective father-in-law, the Earl of Cumberland. Unsurprisingly, nothing came of the marriage and the inventory includes a “Memorandum that all the rich apparel, jewels, and plate of the said Sir Andrew Dudley’s was sent into the North for the which the Earl of Cumberland standeth answerable.”4

Despite this, “an inventory of Sir Andrew Dudley’s goods remaining at his house at Petty Callyn” is an interesting document, giving insights into how a well-to-do gentleman bachelor lived. “In his study” the commissioners found “two old hats”, and “in a little storehouse over the wardrobe two old swords and one rapier”. Sir Andrew’s armoury contained a guilt harness and “a great slaughter sword”. A very valuable item, the decorated harness would have served as tilting armour rather than in battle. Of riding outfit there was “a pair of stirrups with stirrup leather velvet”, a “posting saddle of velvet and a portmanteau of velvet”. Six pairs of velvet shoes and “certain boots, buskins, leather shoes and slippers” made an impressive collection of footwear. – Velvet shoes wore off quickly, it seems; Andrew Dudley’s nephew John, Earl of Warwick needed an average seven pairs per year.5

Sir Andrew’s house was roomy: a hall, a parlour, an “outward parlour”, his bedchamber, his study, “a little room next to his study, the room next adjoining, the third room next his study”, and “the fourth room next his study”. Interestingly, a bachelor household also had “a women’s chamber” and “the chamber next the women’s chamber”. Then came “the boy’s chamber, the page’s chamber”, the armoury, and “the little house within the armoury”. There were two kitchens, “the upper loft”, and the wardrobe with “a little storehouse” over it. Outside the main house there was “the little house at the end of the pond, the next room adjoining and the barn”.

The best household stuff having already been sent to the North, not everything the commissioners found was new and shiny: An old satin gown, “very ill”; a tawny old night-gown lined with marten fur. – There were also fabric remnants; of “black freezed velvet”, of crimson velvet, of “tawny cloth of gold with works”, of “crimson cloth of gold, plain”, of “white and crimson cloth tissue”. And there was “a little chest containing certain working silk ribbon of divers colours”. It seems, the tailors making Sir Andrew’s marriage suit had only just left.

In one parlour, “upon the bed”, clothes were found as if on display: “His Garter robes” and “a black damask gown lined throughout with fine budge” – a present from the king. Also “satin coats all furred”, “an old pair of hose of black velvet”, and “a black velvet coat all cut”, “a gown of black satin coat furred with coney”, “a black velvet coat all guarded”; not all was black, though, there was also a green coat.

“In the chamber next the women’s chamber” the commissioners found – “a night gown of crimson satin” with gold embroidery and “a pair of hose and a doublet of silk and gold richly wrought of knit work”, but also “a plain coat” and “two old black coats of velvet”.

Last but not least, some jewellery was left:

Item found more in the said Sir Andrew Dudley’s study: One very small chain of gold;
Item one small bracelet of gold;
Item 30 pairs of aiglettes and buttons;
Item certain broken silver with some outlandish silver coin and some old groats among them;
Item two little brooches of gold.

1 Brigden 1990 pp. 107 – 108
2 APC II p. 345
3 Beer 1973 p. 128; Loades 1996 p. 250
4 Hayward 2009 p. 365
5 HMC Second Report p. 101

Acts of the Privy Council of England. Volume II. (ed. J. R. Dasent, 1890).

Calendar of State Papers, Foreign, Edward VI, 1547 – 1553. (ed. W. B. Turnbull, 1861).

Second Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. (ed. 1874).

Beer, B. L. (1973): Northumberland: The Political Career of John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland. The Kent State University Press.

Brigden, Susan (1990): “The Letters of Richard Scudamore to Sir Philip Hoby, September 1549 – March 1555”. Camden Miscellany. Volume XXX. Royal Historical Society.

Hayward, Maria (2009): Rich Apparel: Clothing and the Law in Henry VIII’s England. Ashgate.

Loades, David (1996): John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland 1504–1553. Clarendon Press.

Starkey, David (ed.) (1998): The Inventory of King Henry VIII: The Transcript. Harvey Miller.

About Christine Hartweg

Hi, I'm the author of "Amy Robsart: A Life and Its End" and "John Dudley: The Life of Lady Jane Grey's Father-in-Law". I blog at
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