Elizabeth Trussell, Countess of Oxford

Elizabeth Trussell
Countess of Oxford

Church of St Nicholas, burial place of Elizabeth Trussell, Countess of Oxford
Spouse(s) John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford


John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford
Aubrey de Vere
Robert de Vere
Geoffrey de Vere
Elizabeth de Vere
Anne de Vere
Frances de Vere
Noble family De Vere (by marriage)
Father Edward Trussell
Mother Margaret Donne
Born 1496
Died Before July 1527
Buried Church of St Nicholas, Castle Hedingham, Essex

Elizabeth de Vere (née Trussell), Countess of Oxford (1496 – before July 1527) was an English noblewoman. As a young child she became a royal ward. She married John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford, and by him was mother of the 16th Earl and grandmother of Sir Francis and Sir Horace Vere, the 'fighting Veres'.


Elizabeth Trussell, born in 1496,[1] was the daughter of Edward Trussell (c.1478 16 June 1499) of Elmesthorpe, Leicestershire, only son of Sir William Trussell (d. before 24 June 1480) of Elmesthorpe, Knight of the Body for King Edward IV, by Margaret[2] Kene.[3] The Trussells were a 'very ancient Warwickshire family';[4] Elizabeth's ancestor, Sir Warin Trussell, was of Billesley, Warwickshire.[5]

Elizabeth Trussell's mother was Margaret Donne, the daughter of Sir John Donne (1450–1503) of Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, and Elizabeth Hastings (c.1450 1508), daughter of Sir Leonard Hastings and Alice Camoys, and sister of William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings.[6] Sir John Donne's mother, Joan Scudamore, was the granddaughter of the Welsh rebel, Owain Glyndŵr.

Elizabeth had a brother, John Trussell (d.1499), to whom she was heir.[7]

Through her father's family, Elizabeth was a descendant of King Henry II by his mistress, Ida de Tosny.[8]


Elizabeth Trussell's grandfather, Sir John Donne, from the Don triptych by Hans Memling.

Elizabeth's father, Edward Trussell, had been a ward of William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings, and at Hastings' death in 1483 was still a minor. In his will, Hastings expressed the wish that Trussell's wardship be purchased by Hastings' brother-in-law, Sir John Donne:

Also I will that mine executors give to my sister Dame Elizabeth Don 100 marks . . . Also where I have the ward and marriage of Edward Trussell, I will that it be sold and the money employed to the performing of this my will and for the weal of my soul; and if my brother Sir John Don will buy the said ward, I will that he be preferred therein before any other by £10.[9]

After her father's death on 16 June 1499 and the death of her brother, John, in the same year,[10] Elizabeth Trussell became a royal ward. Her wardship and marriage were initially purchased from King Henry VII by George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent (d. 21 December 1503), who intended her as a bride for Sir Henry Grey (d. 24 September 1562), the 2nd Earl's son by his second marriage to Katherine Herbert, daughter of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, by Anne Devereux, the daughter of Sir Walter Devereux. However, after the 2nd Earl's death, Richard Grey, 3rd Earl of Kent, the 2nd Earl's eldest son and heir by his first marriage to Anne Woodville, abducted Elizabeth Trussell, a crime for which the King levied a heavy fine against him:

Aged at least twenty-five when he succeeded his father in 1503, [the 3rd Earl] wasted his family's fortunes — possibly, as Dugdale says, he was a gambler. In a striking series of alienations he gave away or sold most of the lands, principally in Bedfordshire, that he had inherited . . . The earl also fell quickly into debt to the king: he failed to pay livery for his father's lands, and he was fined 2500 marks for abducting Elizabeth Trussell, whose wardship the second earl had left to Richard's half-brother Henry; he then failed to keep up the instalments laid down for the payment of the fine.[11]

As a result of these events Elizabeth Trussell's wardship and marriage again came into the hands of the King, who sold it on 29 April 1507[12] to John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, and his cousin John de Vere, later 15th Earl of Oxford, for an initial payment of 1000 marks and an additional £387 18s to be paid yearly, less £20 a year for Elizabeth's maintenance. The annual value of Elizabeth's lands had been estimated in the inquisition post mortem taken after her brother John's death at £271 12s 8d a year.[13]

Marriage and issue

Between 29 April 1507 and 4 July 1509 Elizabeth became the second wife of John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford, whose first wife was Christian Foderingey (born c. 1481, died before 4 November 1498), the daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Foderingey (c. 1446 – 1491) of Brockley, Suffolk, by Elizabeth Doreward (c. 1473 – 1491), daughter of William Doreward of Bocking, Essex, by whom the 15th Earl had no issue.[14]

By her marriage to the 15th Earl of Oxford, Elizabeth had four sons and three daughters:[15]

Elizabeth died before July 1527, and was buried in the Church of St Nicholas, Castle Hedingham, Essex, where her effigy can be seen on the black marble tomb erected for Elizabeth and her husband, the 15th Earl.[25]


  1. She is usually said to have been born at the Trussell manor of Cubleston or Kibblestone near Barlaston and Stone, Staffordshire.
  2. Burke states that her first name was Bridget; Burke 1831, p. 523.
  3. Richardson III 2011, p. 360.
  4. Burke 1831, p. 523.
  5. Richardson III 2011, p. 357.
  6. Richardson II 2011, pp. 327–8, 369–71.
  7. Richardson II 2011, p. 327.
  8. Richardson III 2011, pp. 357–60.
  9. McFarlane 1971, pp. 3, 9, 54–5.
  10. McFarlane 1971, pp. 9, 54–5.
  11. Bernard 2004.
  12. Elizabeth was aged 'ten or more' at the time.
  13. Ross 2011, p. 101.
  14. Cokayne 1945, p. 247; Richardson II 2011, p. 327; Ross 2011, pp. 95, 101.
  15. Burke 1831, p. 540.
  16. Nelson 2003, p. 15.
  17. Nelson 2003, p. 49.
  18. Nelson 2003, p. 120.
  19. Markham 1888, p. 383; Burke 1831, p. 540.
  20. Nelson 2003, p. 120.
  21. Markham 1888, pp. 21–5, 216, 381, 383–5; Lorimer 2004; Burke 1831, p. 540; Trim 2004.
  22. Cokayne 1916, p. 78; Loades 2004.
  23. Richardson IV 2011, pp. 18–19.
  24. Richardson II 2011, p. 327; Cokayne 1936, p. 621.
  25. Richardson II 2011, p. 328.


External links

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