Did William Paget Talk About Elizabeth and Robert Dudley?

William Paget, a good friend of Robert Dudley

In 1978, a manuscript was found in the British Library which contained materials for a history of the early years of Elizabeth I’s reign. The Journal of Matters of State or BL Additional MS 48023, as the manuscript is usually titled, was written in about 1562-1563, but never completed. It was first published in 2003, in the Camden series of original texts. We don’t know the author, although several editors believe he was Sir John Hales, MP, a militant Protestant who had previously worked as an advisor for the Duke of Somerset.

As appears from his text, if indeed he wrote it, Hales held a deep grudge against Robert Dudley, and he believed him to have consented to the killing of Amy, Robert’s wife. (It is only fair to add that he didn’t know Robert Dudley personally). The writer of the Journal also held a grudge against William Paget, 1st Lord Paget of Beaudesert, one of Mary I’s two de facto chief ministers and previously the Duke of Somerset’s principal advisor and self-appointed Cassandra.

William Paget did not continue in office under Elizabeth I; but he continued his amicable relations with Robert Dudley. Although Robert’s father, the Duke of Northumberland, had imprisoned Willliam Paget for more than a year, the Pagets had continued friends with the Dudleys.

The Journal reported many rumours, many sentences starting like: “At this time yt was bruted that …”

The Journal also reports that

P. vsed to saie that when the Lorde Rob. went to his wief he wentt all in blacke, and howe he was commaunded to saye that he did nothing with her, when he came to her, as seldome he did.

The editors write that “the identity of P. is unknown”; however, a few pages later the Journal again speaks of “P.” and this time it seems clear that “P.” is William Paget, or “Pagett” as he is called in the next line.

Since the Journal is only a draft, there are many abbreviations, e.g. King Philip II of Spain is K.P. and Lord Robert sometimes is simply L.R. It appears therefore likely that P. is Paget throughout the text, and that it was he who said that Elizabeth had commanded Lord Robert to do nothing with his wife on his rare visits. It is also clear from other occurences that William Paget was rather close to Robert Dudley.


Simon Adams; Ian Archer; G. W. Bernard (eds.): “A ‘Journall’ of Matters of State happened from time to time as well within and without the Realme from and before the Death of King Edw. the 6th untill the Yere 1562”, in Ian Archer (ed.): Religion, Politics, and Society in Sixteenth-Century England, Cambridge University Press 2003, pp. 66, 73.

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 www.allthingsrobertdudley.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Amy Robsart, Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley, sources & historians and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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