Microfilms, photocopies and transcriptions of manuscripts dated 1527-1821 (predominantly 16th and early-17th century) relating to the history of Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, 'Bess of Hardwick' (1527-1608), collected by David N. Durant

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises copies and transcriptions of original source materials relating to Bess of Hardwick, consulted by David N. Durant in the course of his research:

Microfilms of original documents at Chatsworth House, the British Library, The National Archives [formerly the Public Record Office), the Bodleian Library, and the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC (MS 663/1);

Printouts, photocopies and transcriptions of original documents at Chatsworth House, the British Library, The National Archives [formerly the Public Record Office), the Bodleian Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC, Sheffield Archives, Lambeth Palace Library, the Borthwick Institute for Archives at The University of York, and Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham, plus copies of some published material (MS 663/2);

Card indexes maintained by David N. Durant, relating to his research on Bess of Hardwick (MS 663/3);

Correspondence and papers of David N. Durant, relating to his research on Bess of Hardwick (MS 663/4).

Administrative / Biographical History

Elizabeth Hardwick (1527-1608), nicknamed 'Bess of Hardwick', was the daughter of John Hardwick (1495-1528), a Derbyshire gentleman, and his wife Elizabeth Leake. Her father died when she was an infant, leaving an infant son, James Hardwick (1526-1581), as his heir. Bess's mother Elizabeth married secondly Ralph Leche, a younger son of the family of Leche of Chatsworth in Derbyshire.

Bess rose, thanks to her illustrious marriages, to become the wealthiest woman in England after the Queen. She is best known for supervising renovations at Chatsworth, and for building the new Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, into which she moved in 1597.

She married firstly, in around 1543, Robert Barlow or Barley (d 1544); secondly in 1547 Sir William Cavendish (1508-1557), who purchased Chatsworth from the Leche family; thirdly in around 1558, Sir William St Loe (c.1520-c.1565); and finally in 1567 George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury (c.1522-1590). From 1568 until 1584 the Earl of Shrewsbury was the keeper of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned in various of the Earl and Countess's properties. After the Earl of Shrewsbury's death, Bess remained a widow. Descendents of her marriage to Sir William Cavendish founded the ducal lines of Devonshire and Newcastle upon Tyne. Her grand-daughter Arabella [Arbella] Stuart (1575-1615), daughter of Charles Stuart, Earl of Lennox and Bess's daughter Elizabeth Cavendish, had a claim to the English and Scottish thrones.

The collection was put together by David N. Durant in the course of his research for his book 'Bess of Hardwick: portrait of an Elizabethan dynast', published in London by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in 1977, and reprinted with corrections by the Cromwell Press in 1988.

Arrangement

The collection has been arranged into groups based on the provenance of the original documents held elsewhere. Items within series are arranged in the order of the reference number assigned by the institution holding the original documents.

Conditions Governing Access

Accessible to all readers.

Other Finding Aids

Copyright in all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

In the Reading Room, King's Meadow Campus:

Typescript catalogue, 50 pp.

Online:

Catalogue available from the website of Manuscripts and Special Collections, Manuscripts Online Catalogue.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Good

Conditions Governing Use

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email mss-library@nottingham.ac.uk).

Reprographic copies cannot normally be supplied to readers, because Manuscripts and Special Collections does not hold the original documents. Any requests for copies should be addressed in writing to the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections, and should be accompanied by a written letter of consent from the institution holding the original document

Custodial History

The collection was given to the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections in two parts, in 1996 and 1997.

Related Material

The originals of all material in this collection are owned by other institutions. See individual catalogue entries for details

Bibliography

David N. Durant, 'Bess of Hardwick: portrait of an Elizabethan dynast' (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, c.1977), reprinted with corrections (Cromwell: the Cromwell Press, 1988)