Martha Denny

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Martha Denny (1505 – 9 January 1572) was an aristocratic English woman and a recusant, who was sent to prison in 1562 for having attended mass. Her husband was Sir Wymond Carew, by whom she had 19 children, including lawyer Sir Matthew Carew.[1]

Family and marriage[edit]

Martha was born in 1505, the daughter of Sir Edmund Denny, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and Mary Troutbeck. Her brother was Sir Anthony Denny, a leading member of the Privy Chamber, and a confidant of King Henry VIII of England.

On an unknown date she married Sir Wymond Carew of Antony, Cornwall, by whom she had 19 children, including:

  • Thomas Carew (1527 – 12 February 1565)
  • Roger Carew
  • George Carew
  • John Carew
  • Sir Matthew Carew (1531–1618), lawyer; married Alice Rivers, by whom he had issue.
  • Anthony Carew
  • Harvey Carew
  • Prudence Carew married Anthony Brugge or Bridges of West Ham. Anthony was the son of Giles Brugge of West Ham (d.1557) and Helianor Robbins and grandson of Sir John Brugge (or Bruges), Alderman, Draper and Lord Mayor of London 1520-1521.
  • Temperance Carew (1537 – 9 October 1577)
  • Elizabeth Carew ( - March 1578/1579) married George Dacres of Cheshunt (1534 -30 September 1580)

Sir Wymond was the treasurer of King Henry's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. The Carews lived in extravagant style at their many residences in Bletchingley, Surrey, Pyshoo, Hertfordshire, and Hackney, Middlesex. When her husband died on 22 August 1549, Martha was left with debts totalling £8,000. As she was unable to pay what was in the 16th century a large sum of money, the manor at Hackney as well as other lands passed to the Crown in 1554.[2]


Following the loss of her home at Hackney, Denny moved to London, where on 8 September 1562, she was arrested for having attended a Roman Catholic mass. After being tried and convicted, she refused to pay the required fine of marks and was sent to prison for six months.[3] On 4 April 1568, she was arrested a second time for the same offence; this time, however, she received a pardon from Queen Elizabeth I.[4]

Denny died on 9 January 1572.


  1. ^ Kathy Lynn Emerson, A Who's Who of Tudor Women, sourced from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography under Carew, (née Denny) Martha, retrieved 17 February 2010
  2. ^ Emerson
  3. ^ Emerson
  4. ^ Emerson