- Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby
Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby (c. 1559 –
April 16, 1594) was the son of Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derbyand Lady Margaret Clifford. His mother was heiress presumptiveof Elizabeth I of Englandfrom 1578 to her own death in 1596.
His maternal grandparents were
Henry Clifford, 2nd Earl of Cumberlandand Lady Eleanor Brandon. Eleanor was the third child of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolkand Mary Tudor. Mary was the fifth child of Henry VII of Englandand Elizabeth of York.
matriculationoccurred around 1572 when he was about thirteen years old and then attended the University of Oxford. He was called to Court a year later by the Queen regnant Elizabeth I of England"to be shaped in good manners". He was subsequently summoned to the Parliament of Englandin his father's Barony of Strange (of Knokyn) as Lord Strange (pronounced "strang") and became known as "Ferdinando D'no Straunge".
In 1579 he married Alice Spencer, the youngest daughter of Sir John Spencer of Althorp and Catherine Kytson.
He was a supporter of the arts, enjoying music, dance, poetry, and singing, but above all he loved the
theatre. He was the patronof many writers including Robert Greene, Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenserand William Shakespeare. Shakespeare may have been employed by Strange in his early years as part of Lord Strange's Menwhen this troupe of acrobats and tumblers was reorganized in 1592, emphasizing acting. By 1590, Strange's was allied with the Admiral's Men, performing at The Theatre(owned by James Burbage, father of Richard).
Earl of Derby
His father died on
25 September, 1593and Ferdinando succeeded him as the 5th Earl of Derby. Lord Strange's Men were renamed to Derby's Men accordingly. Scholars believe that Shakespeare was involved with Strange's as both actor and playwright. The troupe produced " Titus Andronicus" and the trilogy of " Henry VI, Part 1", " Henry VI, Part 2" and " Henry VI, Part 3".
Ferdinando was considered "of an exalted genius as well as birth", and during the absence of his father on State business, he ably discharged the duties, of the Lieutenancies of
Lancashireand Cheshire. He was both a poet and author, enjoying the society of eminent Elizabethanmen of letters. Edmund Spenser, the poet, personified Ferdindando as "Amyntas", and his Countess as "Amaryllis". In 1610, a collection of English poems, entitled "Belvedere; or the Garden of the Muses" was published including Ferdinando's work, but without his signature, and the identity is to a great extent a matter of conjecture.
According to the will of Henry VIII, Ferdinando was second-in-line heir to Elizabeth I following after his mother. But he predeceased his mother by two years and the queen by nine years.
His death was mysterious. A number of rebels, who had fled to foreign countries, sent over a man named
Richard Heskethto urge him a claim to the crown of England by right of his descent from Mary, Queen Dowager of France, the second daughter of Henry VII, and younger sister to Henry VIII. The Heskeths were ancient retainers of the Stanleyfamily and were family friends. This is why Richard was chosen to approach him about the matter that has come to be known as "The Hesketh Affair". He was threatened that unless he undertook the project concealing the messengers and instigators of it, he would shortly die in a most wretched manner. However, if he complied, he might be assured of powerful assistance. Ferdinando rejected the proposition with scorn and indignation.
The unexpected death of Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby, on
April 16, 1594was an event of major political importance in the later years of Queen Elizabeth's reign. He was said to have been poisoned by the Jesuits, his gentleman of horse being suspected of administering the poison. The historian John Stowrecorded his illness in great detail.
From his marriage to Alice Spencer he had his eldest daughter,
Anne Stanley, Countess of Castlehaven, in 1580. According to Henry VIII's will she should have become queen in 1603, but she did not. Elizabeth was succeeded by James VI of Scotland, the descendant of a senior branch of Henry VII. Bernard Burkealso mentioned two younger daughters of the Earl and Alice Spencer. Lady Frances Stanley (1583 - 1636) would become the wife of John Egerton, 1st Earl of Bridgewaterand mother of John Egerton, 2nd Earl of Bridgewater. Lady Elizabeth Stanley (1588 - 1633) was married to Henry Hastings, 5th Earl of Huntingdon. Their son Ferdinando Hastings, 6th Earl of Huntingdonwas named after his maternal grandfather.
Ferdinando was succeeded as Earl of Derby by his younger brother, William. But the Baronies of Strange (of Knokyn)  , Mohun (of Dunster)  , and Stanley  , fell into abeyance between his daughters and coheirs. The Barony of Strange (of Knokyn) was, however, improperly assumed by the succeeding Earls of Derby, and being, erroneously, supposed, in 1628, to belong to them, gave occasion to a writ of that date whereby a new Barony of the name of "Strange" was created.
* [http://link.library.utoronto.ca/reed/patron.cfm?PeopleListID=478 Stanley's patronage of theater and/or music: "Patrons and Performances Web Site"]
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