'Most Trusty and Beloved': Nicholas Throckmorton

Sebastian Walsh looks at a forgotten friend and adviser to Queen Elizabeth from the early years of her reign.

Sir Nicholas Throckmorton is not a name we routinely see amid the titans of Elizabethan England. He never entered the Privy Council. Yet, his importance to Elizabeth in the first decade of her reign belies our disregard. He was intimately connected with Elizabeth's circle long before her coronation in 1558, a man at the heart of the Elizabethan 'Project'.

Fiercely intelligent, witty, handsome and ambitious, Sir Nicholas Thockmorton was a man who made an impression. A Spanish ambassador reported him to be dangerously 'clever'; he was considered 'a man of intelligence' by the major players in English politics. William Cecil held a healthy respect for his capacities, in 1560 being prepared to resign if he could be assured Throckmorton would replace him. Robert Dudley was widely 'believed to be controlled by him. Even the hostile William Camden could only admit his remarkable personal attributes: 'a man of great Experience, very ready Wit, and singular Diligence'.

Nicholas was born into a prominent Warwickshire gentry family but, with several older brothers, he had little hope, of inheriting land. For a bright young gentleman, royal service was the best alternative. In this, he was fortunate in his kinship with the Parrs, and when his cousin Catherine married Henry VIII in 1543, his prospects improved. Prior to Henry's death he was well used by Lord Parr, whom he served in Scotland, and his kinsman the Earl of Pembroke. And it was during his service with the Parrs that Nicholas took on his Protestant ideas.

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