Penelope (Devereux) Blount
Privacy Level: Open (White)

Penelope (Devereux) Blount (1563 - 1607)

Lady Penelope Blount formerly Devereux aka Rich
Born in Stowe-by-Chartley, Staffordshire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married before Dec 1581 (to 15 Nov 1605) in Englandmap
Wife of — married 20 Dec 1605 in Wanstead, Essex, Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Died at age 44 in Westminster, Middlesex, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 12 Nov 2008
This page has been accessed 6,246 times.



Penelope Devereux was an English noblewoman and courtier, the eldest child of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, and his wife Lettice Knollys. Though no certain portrait survives, she was a striking woman with blonde hair and black eyes.[1]

Born in 1563 at Chartley in Staffordshire, on her father's death in 1576 she was placed under the guardianship of Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon. He raised her and had her well educated at his home in Leicestershire. In January 1581 she joined the royal court as a maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth I but by November 1581 was a wife, having married Robert Rich, later 1st Earl of Warwick.[1][2][3] She still attended court, keeping in close touch with her mother, who had remarried in 1578, and her brother Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.[1]

At court, the poet Philip Sidney had fallen in love with her, and included many references to her in his works,[2] though there's no evidence they became lovers. In 1586, while he was dying, he renounced her. After his death his widow married Penelope's brother, so the two families were close.[1]

With her husband Robert Rich she had five (or seven) children, four of whom survived, the last being born in August 1590. By November 1590 it was public knowledge that she was having an affair with Charles Blount, later 1st Earl of Devonshire. They had five (or six) children,[2] all brought up with her existing family, though their father set up generous trust funds for the five who survived.[1]

With a husband, a lover and a brother who were all powerful men in England at the time, she herself wielded considerable influence. When her brother was disgraced in 1599, she sprung to his defence and incurred the antipathy of the queen. When his attempted coup in 1601 failed, followed by his execution, she was arrested and interrogated but released.[1]

Once King James I followed Elizabeth, Penelope quickly became friends with his wife, Queen Anne,[1] and in 1603 the king granted her the succession to her nephew's earldom of Essex.[2][1] In that year her lover, returning to England after three and a half years fighting in Ireland, was made Earl of Devonshire.[1]

In November 1605 her husband obtained a divorce on grounds of her acknowledged adultery with an unnamed man.[1][2] Though English law did not allow remarriage while the former spouse was alive, in December 1605 she married her lover privately at a ceremony performed by the future archbishop William Laud.[2][1] Three months later, in April 1606, he was dead (aggravated by heavy smoking), and in July 1607 she followed him. Her divorced husband remarried in 1616 and died in 1619.[1][2]

Her surviving children with Robert Rich were:

  1. Lettice Rich,[1][2] who married Sir George Carey.
  2. Essex Rich,[1] who married Sir Thomas Cheke.
  3. Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick, born 1587,[1] who married first Frances Hatton, secondly Susan Rowe, and thirdly Eleanor Wortley.
  4. Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland, born 1590,[1] who married Isabel Cope.

Her surviving children with Charles Blount were:

  1. Penelope Blount, born 1592,[1] who married Sir Gervase Clifton.
  2. Mountjoy Blount, 1st Earl of Newport, born about 1597,[1] who married Anne Boteler.
  3. St John Blount,[1] born 1597, unmarried.
  4. Charles Blount,[1] unmarried.
  5. Isabella Blount,[1] who married Sir John Smythe.

The complicated origins of the Blount children and the problem over their correct names was reflected in litigation. For example, defendants in a case circa 1613 were: “Mountjoy Blount alias Mountjoy Rich, St John Blount alias St John Rich, Charles Blount alias Charles Rich, Sir Jarvis Clifton and Penelope Clifton his wife, and Isabella Blount alias Isabella Rich.”[4]

Background information

"His eldest son Richard having predeceased him without issue in 1580, he was succeeded by his second son Robert, the third baron, who, in 1582, presented John Pratt to the rectory. At Pratt's death Rich allowed Queen Elizabeth to present 'by lapse' David Dee in 1587; but he again exercised the patronage in 1605, when he presented Dr. Westfield. This Lord Rich held puritanical views. He was associated with the queen's favourite, Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, in most of his successes, and married the earl's sister, Penelope Devereux, in 1580, which led to much unhappiness as she was in love with Sir Philip Sidney. It was to her that Sidney's sonnets 'Astrophel and Stella' were addressed. After Sidney's death she lived in open adultery with Lord Mountjoy, whom she married after she had been divorced by Rich. In 1616 Lord Rich, on the 14th December, married, at St. Bartholomew the Great, Frances, the daughter of Sir Christopher Wray, and widow of Sir George St. Paul. He was created Earl of Warwick in 1618 and died the next year. [5]
"Father Gerard further states that, "Besides others of less standing whom she (fn. 3) brought me to be reconciled, she had nearly won over a certain great lady, (fn. 4) a neighbour of hers. Tho' this lady was the wife of the richest lord in the whole county & sister to the Earl of Essex (then most powerful with the Queen) and was wholly given to vanities, nevertheless she brought her so far as to be quite willing to speak with a priest if only he could come to her without being known."[6]
"Mountjoy Blount, Earl of Newport, was the eldest of three illegitimate sons of Charles Blount, Earl of Devonshire, and Penelope, daughter of Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex. He was created Earl of Newport, Isle of Wight, in 1628, and Master General of Ordnance in 1634, a post which he was obliged to resign at the Restoration." [7]

Unto A Lady, by Mildmay Fane, 2nd Earl of Westmorland


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 Alison Wall, ”Rich [née Devereux], Penelope, Lady Rich (1563–1607)” in “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography”, 30 May 2013, (accessible to members of subscribing libraries)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 “Warwick” in “The Complete Peerage”, 2nd edition, Vol. XII Part II, pages 405-406 family search.
  3. ”RICH, Robert (c.1560-1619), of Rochford Hall and Leighs Priory, Essex” in ”The History of Parliament”
  5. E A Webb. "The parish: Descendants of Rich and the advowson," in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1921), 292-296. British History Online, accessed March 24, 2016, [1]
  6. Ernest A Mann. "Brooke House: Descriptive account," in Survey of London Monograph 5, Brooke House, Hackney, (London: Guild & School of Handicraft, 1904), 26-39. British History Online, accessed March 24, 2016, [2]
  7. "Newport Market Area: Newport Estate," in Survey of London: Volumes 33 and 34, St Anne Soho, ed. F H W Sheppard (London: London County Council, 1966), 360-379. British History Online, accessed March 24, 2016, [3]

See also

  • Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. "Lady Penelope Rich", accessed March 24, 2016, [4]
  • Penelope, Lady Riche, to the Earl of Southampton. Penelope, Lady Rich, to Sir Robert Cecil. "Cecil Papers: May 1603, 1-15," in Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House, Volume 15, 1603, ed. M S Giuseppi (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1930), 70-91. British History Online, accessed March 24, 2016, [5]
  • "The Lady Penelope: The Lost Tale of Love and Politics in the Court of Elizabeth I", by Sally Varlow [6]
  • John Ford's Political Theatre, pg 13 [7]
  • Sir Philip Sidney: 1586 and the Creation of a Legend, pg 182 [8]
  • Penelope Devereux as Sidney's Stella [9]
  • Penelope Rich and her circle [10]
  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 48 [11]
  • The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981 [12]
  • Shakespeare's Dark Lady [13]
  • Masquers and Tilters [14]
  • A Spaniard in Elizabethan England: The Correspondence of Antonio Pérez's Exile, Volume 1, pg 141 [15]
  • Spartacus Educational: Lettice Knollys [16]
  • Tudor of the month: Penelope ‘Lady Rich‘ Devereux [17]

More Genealogy Tools

Sponsored Search

Is Penelope your ancestor? Please don't go away!
 star icon Login to collaborate or comment, or
 star icon contact private message private message private message a profile manager, or
 star icon ask our community of genealogists a question.
Sponsored Search by

No known carriers of Penelope's DNA have taken a DNA test.

Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Sponsored by Ancestry ®

Family History Search.


Enter a grandparent's name. Just one grandparent can lead you to many discoveries.

Comments: 9

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.
Devereux-686 and Devereux-4 appear to represent the same person because: Clear duplicates
posted by Laura DeSpain
Devereux-684 and Devereux-4 appear to represent the same person because: Another duplicate profile of Penelope (Devereux) Rich - her husband is also duplicated
posted by Jo Fitz-Henry
Devereux-683 and Devereux-4 appear to represent the same person because: Duplicate profiles of Penelope (Devereux) Rich
posted by Jo Fitz-Henry
Devereux-684 and Devereux-683 do not represent the same person because: These are both duplicates of Devereux-4 and should be merged independently into that profile.
posted on Devereux-683 (merged) by Jo Fitz-Henry
Devereux-684 and Devereux-683 appear to represent the same person because: their details are identical
posted on Devereux-683 (merged) by John Elkin
Devereux-446 and Devereux-4 appear to represent the same person because: Clear duplicate
posted by Chris Hoult
Please see the Magna Carta project's profile page & Base Camp for information about the review process for Magna Carta trails.


posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
Devereaux-166 and Devereux-4 appear to represent the same person because: I believe these two represent the same person. Spelling of Devereaux versus Devereux is only difference I see. I am more familiar with the Devereaux spelling but believe these two records represent the same person.
posted by Hope Tillman
I notice her daughter Penelope Rich is missing, Penelope Rich was the first wife for
posted by Robin Lee

D  >  Devereux  |  B  >  Blount  >  Penelope (Devereux) Blount