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Talbot, George (1468-1538) (DNB00)


TALBOT, GEORGE, fourth Earl of Shrewsbury and Earl of Waterford (1468–1538), born at Shifnal, Shropshire, in 1468, was son and heir of John Talbot, third earl of Shrewsbury (1448–1473), and grandson of John Talbot, second earl of Shrewsbury [q. v.] The father, born on 12 Dec. 1448, succeeded as third earl on 10 July 1460, was knighted on 17 Feb. 1460–1, and appointed chief justice of North Wales on 11 Sept. 1471. On 6 Feb. 1471–2 he was made special commissioner to treat with Scotland, and again on 16 May 1473. He died on 28 June following, having married Katherine, fifth daughter of Humphry Stafford, first duke of Buckingham [q. v.]

George succeeded to the peerage in 1473, when only five years old, and was made a knight of the Bath on 18 April 1475. In September 1484 he took part in the reception of the Scottish ambassadors. At the coronation of Henry VII on 30 Oct. 1485 Shrewsbury bore the sword ‘curtana,’ a function he also performed at the coronation of Henry VIII on 24 June 1509. On 7 Nov. 1485 he was granted license to enter on his inheritance without proving himself of age (Campbell, Materials, i. 150), and on 9 March 1485–6 he was appointed justice in eyre for various lordships on the Welsh marches. In May 1487 he was made a captain in the army, and fought at the battle of Stoke on 16 June. He was installed a knight of the Garter on 27 April 1488, and on 23 Dec. following was made chief commissioner of musters in Staffordshire. In 1489 he served on various commissions of oyer and terminer, and in July 1490 was appointed to the command of an army of eight thousand men, destined for the defence of Brittany against Charles VIII of France (Andreas, Historia, pp. 207, 375). In October 1492 he accompanied Henry VII to Boulogne, and was present when the peace of Etaples was signed on 3 Nov. (Gairdner, Letters and Papers of Henry VII, p. 291). In 1494 he was serving at Calais (Rutland MSS. i. 15, 16), and in November of that year took part in the ceremonies of Prince Henry's creation as Duke of York. Various grants followed in 1495 (Doyle). In December 1508 he was appointed to meet the Flemish ambassadors at Deptford and conduct them to court (Gairdner, Letters and Papers of Henry VII, i. 370).

On the accession of Henry VIII Shrewsbury became lord steward of the household, privy councillor, and one of the chamberlains of the exchequer (Brewer, Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, i. 32). On 10 Nov. 1511 he was appointed joint ambassador with the Earl of Surrey to Julius II, with the object of concluding a ‘holy league’ against France (ib. i. 1955), and a year later he was sent on a similar mission to Ferdinand of Arragon (ib. i. 3513). In 1513, after serving as commissioner of array in Derbyshire, Staffordshire, and Shropshire, he was on 12 May appointed lieutenant-general of the first division of the army in France, and served throughout the siege of Therouenne (ib. i. 3336, 3760, 4061, 4126, 4798). In the autumn of 1514 he was nominated joint ambassador to the Lateran council, but sickness apparently prevented his departure. In 1520 he was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. In 1522 Shrewsbury was appointed steward of the Duke of Buckingham's lands, and in the same year he was placed in command of the English army sent to the Scottish borders against John Stewart, duke of Albany [q. v.] But his health was bad and his conduct feeble, and he was soon superseded by the Earl of Surrey. When the divorce question came on, Shrewsbury supported it, and gave evidence at Catherine's trial (his depositions are extant in Cotton. MS. Vitellius, B. xii. ff. 70, 98), and he signed the letter to the pope urging him to grant the divorce. He also signed the articles against Wolsey in 1529, and entertained the cardinal at Sheffield Castle, on his way to London, after his arrest. It was there that Wolsey contracted the disease that proved fatal at Leicester Abbey. In 1532 Shrewsbury was again in command of an army on the Scottish borders.

The dissolution of the monasteries brought Shrewsbury many grants; among them were Wilton, Shrewsbury, Byldwas, Welbeck, and Combermere Abbeys, and the priories of Tutbury and Wenlock. When the rebellion in the north broke out in October 1536, Shrewsbury promptly raised forces on his own authority, and ‘his courage and fidelity on this occasion perhaps saved Henry's crown’ (Froude, iii. 109). The spread of the rising was checked by his action, and time given for the royal levies to arrive. Shrewsbury served through 1536 and 1537 under the Duke of Norfolk, and next to the duke was mainly instrumental in the suppression of the revolt. Under an act of parliament, 28 Henry VIII, he was considered, as an absentee, to have forfeited the earldom of Waterford and his Irish estates. He died, aged 70, at his manor of Wingfield, Derbyshire, on 26 July 1538, and was buried at Sheffield Castle (Vincent and other peerage historians assign his death to 1541). His will, dated 21 Aug. 1537, was proved on 13 Jan. 1538–9.

Shrewsbury married first, about 1486, Anne, daughter of William Hastings, first baron Hastings [q. v.], by whom he had eleven children. The eldest son, Henry, died an infant, and the second, Francis Talbot, fifth earl of Shrewsbury [q. v.], is separately noticed. He married, secondly, about 1512, Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of Sir Richard Walden of Erith, Kent. By her, who died in July 1567, he had issue one daughter, Anne (d. 1588), who married as her second husband William Herbert, first earl of Pembroke of the second creation [q. v.]

[For fuller details of Shrewsbury's career see Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vols. i–xiii, which contain some two thousand references to him. Many letters from him are extant among the Cotton MSS. in the Brit. Museum, and in the Talbot Papers which were presented to the College of Arms by Henry Howard, sixth duke of Norfolk. These papers were largely used by Lodge in his Illustrations of British Hist. See also Campbell's Materials for the Reign of Henry VII, Gairdner's Letters and Papers, Henry VII, and Andreas's Historia (all in Rolls Ser.); Rymer's Fœdera; Rolls of Parl. vol. vi.; State Papers Henry VIII; Cals. of Rutland and Hatfield MSS. (Hist. MSS. Comm.); Polydore Vergil's Historia; Hall's Chron.; Wriothesley's Chron. (Camden Soc.); Herbert's Life and Reign of Henry VIII; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation; Pocock's Records of the Reformation; Cavendish and Fiddes's Lives of Wolsey; Archæologia, iii. 213, 219, xiii. 265, xxxi. 167, 173; Peerages by Collins, Burke, Doyle, and G. E. C[okayne]; Hunter's Hallamshire; Brewer's Reign of Henry VIII; Froude's Hist. of England (in the index to which Shrewsbury is confused with his son, the fifth earl).]

A. F. P.