Stanley, York and Elizabeth's Catholics
Things were bad enough, therefore, when news arrived at the end, of January that on the 19th two of the leading officers of the expeditionary force in the Netherlands, Sir William Stanley and Captain Rowland York, had defected to the King of Spain. (These dates – and all future ones here – are those of the Julian calendar then used in England. The Dutch like most of the continent employed the new Gregorian calendar which was ten days later.) What made the defection worse was the fact that Stanley and York had also handed over the two frontline garrisons under their command: the city of Deventer and the sconce (fort) opposite the Spanish- held town of Zutphen. Not only were these important strategic positions, but they also held a symbolic value as Stanley came from the established gentry of the north-west, his family being a junior branch of the great house of Stanley settled at Hooton in the Wirral. Both his father, Sir Row- land, and he were closely attached to the household of the Third Earl of Derby. Between 1567 and 1570 he obtained a military education in the Duke of Alba's army in the Netherlands (not as suspect at the time as it would appear in retrospect). Thereafter he served successfully in the Queen's army in Ireland, being both knighted and recommended to the Earl of Leicester in 1579. By 1582-85 he was being considered for one of the leading posts of the Irish garrison. Indeed, after his defection Leicester claimed that Elizabeth had been considering him as a possible lord deputy. In 1584 doubts were raised about his religious loyalty, but he was cleared by the Privy Council.
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