On 1 November 1567 Elizabeth St. Loe (nee Hardwick) married, as her fourth husband George Talbot, sixth earl of Shrewsbury (c. 1522-1590), one of the richest and most powerful men in the north of England. At the time of their marriage Shrewsbury's property included the castles of Tutbury, Pontefract, and Sheffield, as well as a manor house at Sheffield and a lodge at Handsworth, hunting lodges at Tutbury and Worksop, and the converted monastic buildings at Rufford Abbey. Shrewsbury's union with Bess, which brought together two great fortunes, was cemented - at Bess's insistence - by the arranged marriages of four of their children: Gilbert Talbot, who became the seventh earl, wed Bess's daughter Mary, and Bess's eldest son, Henry Cavendish, wed Shrewsbury's daughter Grace.
In 1568 the Queen designated Shrewsbury the keeper of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the following year he and Bess received the Catholic queen at Tutbury. Mary remained in Talbot's custody until 1584, during which period she was moved on numerous occasions between Shrewsbury's various properties.
During the period of the Scottish queen's captivity, relations between the earl and countess steadily deteriorated. Bess repeatedly accused her husband of infidelities, including a probably unfounded charge that he had been intimate with Mary, Queen of Scots. (This allegation may well have been designed primarily to damage Mary, with whom Bess - despite an initial period of friendship - had fallen out.) The earl, whose debts were mounting as a result of the expenses incurred as gaoler to the Scottish queen, chafed at the amount of time and money Bess devoted to the renovations at Chatsworth. In 1584 Bess separated from her husband and retired to Chatsworth.
At the time of their separation Shrewsbury attempted to claim Chatsworth as his under the terms of their marriage settlement. A legal battle ensued, which was finally resolved in 1587 when the courts awarded Bess both Chatsworth and a sizeable income from her husband.
Edited extract from Elizabeth Goldring, 'Talbot [née Hardwick], Elizabeth [Bess] [called Bess of Hardwick], countess of Shrewsbury, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).