Wriothesley, Charles (DNB00)

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WRIOTHESLEY, CHARLES (1508?–1562), herald and chronicler, said by Anstis to have been born on 8 May 1508 at his father's house outside Cripplegate, was fourth son of Sir Thomas Wriothesley (d. 1534) [q. v.], by his first wife, Joan, daughter of William Hall of Salisbury. Thomas Wriothesley, first earl of Southampton [q. v.], was his first cousin. At a very early age he adopted the profession of his father, his grandfather, and his uncle, and obtained a subordinate position in the herald's office. In 1522, when he was only fourteen, if Anstis's date of birth is correct, his property ‘in lands and fees’ was assessed at 38l. 6s. 8d. and in goods at 40l., and on 29 May 1525 he was appointed rouge croix pursuivant (Letters and Papers, iii. 2486, iv. 1377 [28]), and in 1529 he was admitted student of Gray's Inn. He speaks of Lord-chancellor Audley as his ‘master,’ and his cousin, the first earl of Southampton, bequeathed him 20l. on his death in 1550 (Trevelyan Papers, i. 213). He was created Windsor herald on Christmas day 1534, and retained this office until his death in his friend Camden's house in St. Sepulchre's on 25 Jan. 1561–2; he was buried with the usual heraldic pomp in the middle aisle of St. Sepulchre's Church on the 27th (Machyn, Diary, pp. 275, 389). He was apparently twice married; the maiden name of his first wife is said to have been Mallory, and the christian name of his second was Alice; he is not known to have left children.

Wriothesley was author of the chronicle now called ‘Wriothesley's Chronicle.’ The original manuscript is not known to be extant, the only existing copy being a transcript made early in the seventeenth century probably for Henry Wriothesley, third earl of Southampton [q. v.] It passed into the possession of the Percy family by the marriage of Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas, fourth earl of Southampton [q. v.], to Josceline Percy, eleventh earl of Northumberland, and belonged to Lord H. M. Percy in 1874, when it was edited by William Douglas Hamilton for the Camden Society (2 vols. 1875). The chronicle is anonymous, but internal evidence points conclusively to Wriothesley's authorship; in the main it may be regarded as a continuation of the chronicle of Richard Arnold [q. v.], whose sister was second wife of Sir John Wriothesley or Writh [q. v.], Charles Wriothesley's grandfather, and the reign of Henry VII and first eleven years of Henry VIII are little more than transcripts from Arnold. After that date Wriothesley becomes an independent authority of great value; in many cases, such as the trial of Anne Boleyn, he supplies new information; and in others, where his differs from generally received accounts, his testimony always merits careful consideration.

[An account of Wriothesley and a detailed examination of his chronicle are given in Hamilton's preface (Camden Soc.); see also Addit. MS. 33376, f. 27; Anstis's Order of the Garter, i. 373, II. xxiv; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII; Rymer's Fœdera, xv. 187, 423; Foster's Gray's Inn Reg.; and authorities cited.]

A. F. P.