Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Vaux, Anne

VAUX, ANNE (fl. 1605–1635), recusant, was the third daughter of William Vaux, third baron Vaux of Harrowden in Northamptonshire, by his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of John Beaumont (fl. 1550) [q. v.], master of the rolls. Thomas Vaux, second baron Vaux [q. v.], was Anne's grandfather.

A zealous Roman catholic, like others of her family, Anne devoted her life to the service of her faith. She attached herself especially to Henry Garnett [q. v.] Styling herself Mrs. Perkins, to avoid the suspicion attaching to her family, she and her married sister, Eleanor Brooksby, at various times hired houses under Garnett's directions to serve as meeting-places for the Jesuits. The most famous of these was White Webbs, near Enfield. In 1604 she and Garnett were residing at a house she had taken at Wandsworth, whither her cousin, Francis Tresham [q. v.], the conspirator, frequently resorted. After the Gunpowder plot had been set on foot by Thomas Winter (d. 1606) [q. v.], both Tresham and Robert Catesby [q. v.] continually visited her. Towards the time for the execution of of the plot, she took up her abode with Garnett at White Webbs, and the house became a rendezvous for the conspirators. She and Garnett probably knew little or nothing of their plans.

The theory has been advanced that Anne acted as an amanuensis to the writer of the famous letter to Lord Monteagle which frustrated the plot (Gent. Mag. 1835, i. 251-5). She was the intimate friend of the wife of Thomas Habington [q. v.], to whom the letter is assigned by tradition, and was related to Francis Tresham, who is now regarded as the author. A comparison of the anonymous letter, however, with one by Anne Vaux preserved in the state papers (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1603-1610, p. 296) shows that the handwriting of the two, though bearing a superficial resemblance, is different in essential details.

After the discovery of the plot Anne was committed to the charge of Sir John Swynerton, but was soon discharged on Sir Lewis Pickering's bond (Addit. MS. 11402, f. 108). She proceeded with Garnett early in January 1605-6 to Hindlip, near Worcester, the house of Thomas Habington. There Garnett was arrested on 25 Jan., after a search lasting twelve days. During his concealment he was nourished by broths and warm drinks conveyed through a reed from the chamber of 'the gentlewoman,' probably Mrs. Vaux. After Garnett was conveyed to the Tower, she established a communication with him through his keeper. The important part of their letters was written in orange juice, invisible until exposed to the fire. The keeper, however, betrayed them, and all their correspondence was read by the officers of the crown. Early in March she was arrested and conveyed to the Tower 'with some rough usage.' She was examined on 11 and 24 March, and confessed to keeping White Webbs, and to the visits of Catesby, Winter, and Tresham, but denied all knowledge of the plot. She was liberated before September, and for many years remained in obscurity. At a later date she took up her residence at Stanley Grange, near Derby, where she kept a school for the children of catholic gentry under the auspices of the Jesuits. It was dispersed in 1635 by warrant of the privy council (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1635, pp. 303, 420). The date of her death is not known.

[Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1603-10, passim; Foley's Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, 1879, passim; Morris's Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers, 1st ser. pp. 150, 180; Bridges's Hist. of Northamptonshire, ed. Whalley, ii. 103; Burke's Peerage; Morris's Life of Gerard, 1881.]

E. I. C.