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Portrait of Francis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury.
Signature of Francis Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury from Doyle's 'Official Baronage'
Francis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury (1500-1560)

FRANCIS TALBOT, fifth Earl of Shrewsbury (1500-1560), born at Sheffield Castle in 1500, was second but eldest surviving son of George Talbot, fourth earl of Shrewsbury, by his first wife, Anne, daughter of William, first baron Hastings. From 1500 until his father's death in 1538 he was styled Lord Talbot.

On 17 July 1527 he was associated with his father in the chamberlainship of the exchequer, and subsequently in the stewardship of many manors and castles; in 1532 he was placed on the commission of the peace in Derbyshire, Staffordshire, and the North Riding of Yorkshire, and in September of that year he accompanied Henry VIII on his visit to Calais. On 17 Feb. 1532-3 he was summoned to parliament as Baron Talbot, and on 1 June following he bore the queen's sceptre at the coronation of Anne Boleyn. He was again summoned to parliament on 15 Jan. 1533-4, and in July sat as one of his peers on Lord Dacre's trial. Throughout the autumn of 1536 and 1537 he served with his father in suppressing the pilgrimage of grace.2 On 26 July 1538 he succeeded his father as fifth Earl of Shrewsbury.

The greater part of Shrewsbury's life was spent on the Scottish borders; in 1542 he was serving under the Duke of Norfolk, and in April 1544 he was appointed captain of the rear squadron of Hertford's fleet and commander of the rear-guard of his army [see Seymour, Edward, first Duke of Somerset]. On 10 June he was named lieutenant-general of the north, in succession to Hertford. He remained in command on the borders until 1545, but the rout of the English at Ancrum Moor in February reflected discredit on him, and Hertford again took command.3 On 17 May Shrewsbury was compensated for the loss of his command by being elected K.G.

The Garter Arms of Francis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury. At the coronation of Edward VI, on 20 Feb. 1546-7, Shrewsbury was a commissioner of claims, and in the following month he officiated at the memorial service for Francis I.4 On 19 May he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, and Nottinghamshire. He was excused attendance on Somerset during the Pinkie campaign in September 1547, but he was present at Edward VI's first parliament in the same year (November-December), being one of the lords' representatives at a conference between the two houses on a bill for repealing the treason and felony laws.5

In June 1548 he was associated with Lord Grey de Wilton in the command on the borders; their chief exploit was the relief and fortification of Haddington in September. Shrewsbury seems to have been hampered by his instructions, and the French ambassador reported, on no good evidence, that Somerset had entrusted the command to Shrewsbury with the sinister object that he might ruin himself by the mistakes he made.6 He remained on the borders throughout the summer and autumn, but attended the parliament which sat from November 1548 to March 1548-9. He voted against the bill for re-establishing the force of marriage pre-contracts, and in January and February, when he first appears as a member of the privy council, he took, with Southampton and Sir Thomas Smith, the principal part in the proceedings against the lord high admiral, Thomas, lord Seymour of Sudeley. In the following May Shrewsbury was appointed president of the council of the north, with instructions to enforce the Protector's policy against enclosures.7 He was at court on 23 June, but was again in the north in August, when he was directed to send aid to Warwick in Norfolk. In September he was superseded by the Earl of Rutland, and on 8 Oct. he joined the privy council in London and participated in its measures against Somerset.

In the winter of 1549-50 Shrewsbury was again president of the council of the north, and he retained that position to the end of the reign. He was not, however, a partisan of Northumberland. No doubt, like Arundel and other nobles inclined to favour the old religion, he sympathised with Somerset's endeavours to modify Northumberland's harsh measures against Roman catholics. In April 1551 there 'was talk that my Lady Mary would go westward to therle of Shrewsbury';8 about the same time it was reported that he was 'put out of his office' and had joined a party of malcontents who would soon plunge the country into civil strife.9 On 26 Oct. he was required by the council to disclose what conversation he had had with Richard Whalley, who had intrigued for Somerset's restoration to the protectorate. Consequently he was not one of the peers selected to try Somerset on 1 Dec. 1551.

He acquiesced, however, in Northumberland's rule, remaining lord president of the council of the north, and a frequent attendant at the meetings of the privy council. He was appointed lord-lieutenant of Yorkshire on 24 May 1553, signed the letters patent of 16 June giving the crown to Lady Jane Grey, the letter of 12 July to Mary declaring her a bastard, and that to Rich on 19 July ordering him to disarm. Secretly, however, he was abetting Arundel's projects in Mary's favour, and on 19 July he was one of the lords who proclaimed Mary queen in London. He was reappointed privy councillor on 10 Aug. and lord-president of the north on 1 Sept., and welcomed the religious reaction of the reign. On 25 May 1555 he was appointed lieutenant of the order of the Garter. During 1557-8 he was in command of an army on the borders raised to resist the Scottish invasion rendered probable by the outbreak of war with France.

Shrewsbury was again commissioner for claims at the coronation of Elizabeth, and remained a privy councillor. He dissented, however, from the act of supremacy on 18 March 1558-9, and from the new service book on 18 April 1559, though on 25 June following he was commissioned to hold a visitation in the province of York to enforce it. He died at Sheffield Castle on 21 Sept. 1560, and was buried there in great state.10

Shrewsbury married, first, before 4 Dec. 1523, Mary, daughter of Thomas, second lord Dacre de Gillesland; by her he had issue two sons—George Talbot, sixth earl of Shrewsbury , and Thomas, who died young—and one daughter, Anne, who married, first, John, first baron Bray, and, secondly, Thomas, second baron Wharton. Shrewsbury married, secondly, before August 1553, Grace, daughter of Robert Shackerley of Little Longsdon, Derbyshire, and widow of Francis Careless. By her, who died in August 1558, he had no issue; thereupon he vainly sought the hand of Elizabeth, third wife and widow of Sir Thomas Pope. Their correspondence is among the unpublished Talbot papers in the College of Arms.

1. Wriothesley, Chronicles. i. 20.
2. Gairdner, Letters and Papers, vols. xi. and xii. passim.
3. see Hamilton Papers, vol. ii. passim.
4. Correspondance Politique de Odet de Selve, p. 153. link.
5. Lords' Journals, 16 Dec. 1547.
6. Corresp. Pol. p. 429. link.
7. State Papers, Dom. Edw. VI, vol. iii. No. 47.
8. Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Dasent, iii. 264. link.
9. Cal. State Papers, For. i. 370. link
10 Francis Peck, Desiderata Curiosa, vii. 17-21; Joseph Hunter, Hallamshire, pp. 56-7. link.


      Pollard, A. F. "Francis Talbot, fifth Earl of Shrewsbury."
      Dictionary of National Biography. Vol LV. Sidney Lee, Ed.
      New York: The Macmillan Co., 1898. 311-313.

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This page was created on August 10, 2009. Last updated February 17, 2023.

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