Dorothy Percy, Countess of Northumberland
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|Countess of Northumberland|
Portrait identified as Dorothy Devereux (on the left) and her elder sister Penelope Devereux, c.1581
Chartley Castle, Staffordshire, England
|Died||3 August 1619 (aged 54–55)|
|Spouse(s)||Sir Thomas Perrot|
Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland
|Father||Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex|
Dorothy Percy (née Devereux), Countess of Northumberland (formerly Perrot, née Devereux; c. 1564 – 3 August 1619) was the younger daughter of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex by Lettice Knollys, and the wife of Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland.
Dorothy was born in about 1564, the daughter of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex and Lettice Knollys, a lady-in-waiting of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Her paternal grandparents were Sir Richard Devereux and Dorothy Hastings, after whom she was named. Her maternal grandparents were Sir Francis Knollys and Lady Catherine Carey, the daughter of Mary Boleyn, herself the sister of Queen consort Anne Boleyn. Dorothy had an elder sister Penelope Devereux, who was said to have been the inspiration for Sir Philip Sidney's sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella. She had three younger brothers, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, Walter Devereux and Francis Devereux.
In September 1576, Dorothy's father died in Dublin, Ireland of dysentery. Two years later, her mother married secondly and in secret, Queen Elizabeth's favourite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, thus earning the wrath of the queen, who promptly banished her from court. The marriage produced one son Robert, Baron Denbigh who was born in 1581. The boy died at the age of three. In 1589, eleven months after Leicester's death, Dorothy acquired another stepfather, Sir Christopher Blount, who was thirteen years younger than her mother. On 25 February 1601, her brother Robert, 2nd Earl of Essex was beheaded at the Tower of London for treason. Unlike their sister Penelope, Dorothy was not suspected of playing any role in the rebellion. Essex denounced Penelope as a traitor, an act which shocked many, but did not accuse Dorothy.
Marriage and children
- Penelope Perrot, who married firstly the astronomer Sir William Lower (c.1570–1615), by whom she had three sons and a daughter, and secondly Sir Robert Naunton, by whom she had a daughter Penelope, who married Philip Herbert, 5th Earl of Pembroke.
- Dorothy Perrot, who married James Perrot of Wallingford, by whom she had two children.
- Elizabeth Perrot.
- Anne Perrot.
The marriage gave great offence to the Queen, whose consent should have been asked, but would almost certainly have been refused. She distrusted Sir John Perrot, who was to end his life as a convicted traitor under sentence of death in the Tower of London, and detested Dorothy's mother Lettice, whom she blamed for arranging the marriage. Thomas was imprisoned for a time and Dorothy banished from Court. In 1587 Essex used his growing influence with the Queen in an attempt to restore his sister to favour, but due to the malicious interference of Sir Walter Raleigh, the result was another furious quarrel, ending with Essex and Dorothy leaving the house they were staying in at midnight. Only after Perrot's death did the Queen consent to receive Dorothy at Court again, and she became something of a royal favourite.
Dorothy married secondly, in 1594 (this time with the Queen's full approval), Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, known as "The Wizard Earl", but the marriage was not a success, and they later separated. In 1605, the earl was sent to the Tower of London on suspicion of involvement in the Gunpowder Plot, and he was not freed until after his wife's death.
They had four children:
- Dorothy (c.1598- 20 August 1659), married Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester, by whom she had six children.
- Lucy (1599/1600- 5 November 1660), married as his second wife James Hay, 1st Earl of Carlisle.
- Algernon (29 September 1602 – 13 October 1668), married firstly, Anne Cecil, by whom he had five daughters, including Lady Elizabeth Percy, Countess of Essex; he married secondly, Lady Elizabeth Howard, by whom he had his heir, Joceline Percy, 11th Earl of Northumberland.
- Henry Percy, Lord of Alnwick (1604- April 1659), died unmarried.
Through her eldest daughter Dorothy, Countess of Leicester, she was an ancestress of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Dorothy is a minor character in the historical novel The Grove of Eagles by Winston Graham. The narrator describes how her second husband, Northumberland, uses their marriage to heal the old quarrel between his wife and his close friend Sir Walter Raleigh (who some years earlier had ruined an attempt by Dorothy to regain the Queen's favour), with the further aim of arranging a reconciliation between Raleigh and Dorothy's brother Essex.
- Lower, Sir William (c.1570–1615), of St. Winnow, Cornwall and Trefenti (Tra'Venti), Llanfihangel Abercowin, Carmarthenshire, History of Parliament. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
- Trefenty, Dyfed Archaeological Trust. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
- Roche 2004.
- Alison Weir Elizabeth the Queen Pimlico edition 1999 p.347
- Weir pp.386–7
- Antonia Fraser The Gunpowder Plot-Terror and Faith in 1605 Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1997 p.39
- Fraser p.276
- Roche, J.J. (2004). "Lower, Sir William (c.1570–1615)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/39195.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Betchemann, Lita-Rose (2005). Court Lady and Country Wife: Two Noble Sisters in Seventeenth-Century England. New York: Collins.
- Brenan, Gerald (1902). A History of the House of Percy. London: Freemantle.
- Brennan, Michael and Noel Kinnamon (2003). A Sidney Chronology. London: Palgrave Macmillan.