Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland

Thomas Manners
1st Earl of Rutland

Effigy of Manners, St Mary's Church, Bottesford, Leicestershire, near to his seat of Belvoir Castle
Father George Manners, 11th Baron de Ros
Mother Anne St Leger
Born c. 1492
Died 20 September 1543(1543-09-20)
Quartered arms of Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland, KG, as displayed on his Garter stall plate (see below)
Arms of Manners, Earls and Dukes of Rutland: Or, two bars azure a chief quarterly azure and gules; in the 1st and 4th quarters two fleurs-de-lis and in the 2nd and 3rd a lion passant guardant all or[1] The original coat of arms of the Manners family showed a chief gules.[2] The quartering in chief, with the fleurs-de-lis of the Royal arms of France and lion passant guardant of the Royal arms of England, was granted as an augmentation by King Henry VIII to Thomas Manners at the time of his creation as Earl of Rutland, in recognition of his descent in the maternal line from Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, a descendant of King Edward III (1327-1377)[3]

Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland, 12th Baron de Ros of Helmsley (c. 1492 20 September 1543), KG, of Belvoir Castle, Rutland, was created Earl of Rutland by King Henry VIII in 1525.[4]


Thomas was the son of Sir George Manners, 11th Baron de Ros (c.1470-1513) by his wife Anne St Leger (1476–1526). His maternal grandparents were Sir Thomas St Leger (c.1440-1483) and Anne of York (1439-1476), a daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville. She was thus an elder sister of Kings Edward IV (1461-1483) and of his brother and eventual successor, Richard III (1483-1485). Her other siblings were Edmund, Earl of Rutland, Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk, Margaret of York and George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence.


On 22 June 1513 Thomas landed at Calais on the French expedition. In 1513 he became Baron Ros on his father's death and was summoned in 1515 to Parliament. He was at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520 and at King Henry VIII's meeting with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor afterwards. In December 1521 he became cupbearer to the king. In January 1522 he was made steward of Pickering, Yorkshire, and from April to October of the same year he held the appointment of Lord Warden of the East Marches, in which he was succeeded by Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland. He received the wardenship of Sherwood Forest on 12 July 1524, an office which afterwards became practically hereditary in his family. He was appointed a Knight of the Garter on 24 April 1525 and on 18 June 1525 he was made Earl of Rutland. He was a great favourite of King Henry VIII and received many grants, including the keepership of Enfield Chase on 12 July 1526. On 11 October 1532 he landed with the king in France. He was at the coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn in 1533 and later took part in her trial. Rutland was actively engaged in meeting the Pilgrimage of Grace. He held a joint command with the Earls of Huntingdon and Shrewsbury and marched to Nottingham and thence to Newark, Southwell, and Doncaster against the northern rebels.[5]

He was steward of many monasteries, and from his various ancestors had claims through their having founded certain of the houses. Hence at the Dissolution of the Monasteries he received numerous grants of monastic property. In Leicestershire he obtained Charley, Garradon, and by exchange, Croxton; in Yorkshire he received Beverley, Warter, and Rievaulx by exchange. Jointly with Robert Tyrwhit, he obtained Belvoir, Eagle, and Kyme in Lincolnshire, and in Yorkshire Nun Burnham.

When Anne of Cleves came to England in order to marry the king, Rutland was appointed her lord chamberlain and met her at Shooter's Hill on her approach to Greenwich Palace, after her unfortunate interview with the king at Rochester. In 1542 he became constable of Nottingham Castle. He went to the border again on 7 August 1542 as Warden of the Marches, but was recalled, in consequence of illness, in November of the same year. From Newark-on-Trent he wrote on 7 November to the Council of the North: "As Gode best knows, I ame in a poyur and febvll estat". He died on 20 September 1543. [5]

Knight of the Garter

Garter stall plate of Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland, St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

Manners, about two months before receipt of his earldom, was nominated by Henry VIII a Knight of the Garter in 1525. His Garter stall plate of brass inlaid with coloured enamel, survives in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. It is inscribed: Thom(a)s lord roosse, Erle of rotteland. Above the escutcheon, circumscribed by the Garter, is the crest of Manners: A peacock in pride. The arms displayed are: quarterly:
1 and 4, or, two bars azure a chief quarterly of the last and gules, on the 1st and 4th, two fleurs-de-lis or, on the 2nd and 3rd, a lion passant guardant or (Manners, with augmentation for the 1st Earl);
2, a grand quarter consisting of

1, gules, three water bougets argent (Ros)
2, azure, a Catherine wheel or (Belvoir)
3, gules, three Catherine wheels argent (Espec)
4, argent, a fess between two bars gemels gules (Badlesmere)

3, a grand quarter consisting of

1, gules, three lions pasant guardant or, within a bordure argent (Holland, Earls of Kent)
2 and 3, argent, a saltire engrailed gules (Tiptoft)
4, or, a lion rampant gules (Edward Charleton, 5th Baron Charleton of Powys (1370-1421))

Marriages and progeny

Arms of Paston: Argent, six fleurs-de-lys azure a chief indented or. These arms are visible impaled by the arms of the 1st Earl of Rutland in the 19th century stained glass windows of the Rutland Chapel, St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
Heraldic glass in the Rutland Chapel, St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, erected in 1849 by Charles Manners, 6th Duke of Rutland. It shows far left the arms of Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter (1439-1476) impaled by the arms of her 1st husband Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter. To the right of the last are her arms impaled by the arms of her 2nd husband Sir Thomas St Leger (c.1440-1483), KG. The rightmost window shows top: the arms of Anne's daughter Anne St Leger impaled by the arms of her husband George Manners, 11th Baron de Ros (c.1470-1513). Below are the arms of his son Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland (c.1492-1543) impaling the arms of his 2nd wife Eleanor Paston

He married twice:



Death & burial

He died on 20 September 1543 and was buried in Bottesford Church, Leicestershire. His body was embalmed with spices purchased in Nottingham and a surgeon encased it in wax. A plumber then encased it in a close fitting leaden shell.


View of chancel of St Mary's Church, Bottesford, with its many monuments to the Earls and Dukes of Rutland

His surviving alabaster chest tomb in the chancel of St Mary's Church, Bottesford, Leicestershire, was created by Richard Parker of Burton-on-Trent with John Lupton (rough mason) and his father, over a period of six days, the floor having been strengthened to the weight of the tomb. Thomas Richard Parker "the alabaster man" was paid £20 for the sculpture and the supervision of its positioning. Surviving accounts at Belvoir Castle record in considerable detail the arrangements for this work and the funeral. As well as commemorating the 1st Earl of Rutland and his wife this monument also marks the first of the future burials in the church of eight earls and four dukes over a period of almost 250 years.


The Earl's effigy is dressed in chain mail and full plate armour with a loose military tabard over which he wears the mantle of the Order of the Garter while on his left leg is the Garter itself. His head wears a basic form of coronet and rests on his tilt-heaume on top of which is the Manners crest of a peacock in pride on a Cap of Maintenance. The feet rest on a unicorn, from which the horn is now missing. The effigy of the countess is dressed in a gown and a short cape and wears an ermine trimmed mantle fastened by a cordon whose ends reach almost to her feet, under which is a griffon. Tasselled cushions support her head. The base of the tomb is decorated with corner pilasters, tasselled swags and "weeper" figures representing knights, ladies and others.


  1. Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p. 968
  2. As visible for example in the arms of his father impaling St Leger in a window of the Rutland Chantry, St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
  3. The general armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, Comprising a Registry of Armorial Bearings from the Earliest to the Present Time, by Sir Bernard Burke, 1884 edition, p. 656
  4. Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.969
  5. 1 2 Archbold 1893.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Archbold, William Arthur Jobson (1893). "Manners, Thomas". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 36. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 


Legal offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Essex
Justice in Eyre
north of the Trent

Succeeded by
Sir Anthony Browne
Peerage of England
New creation Earl of Rutland
Succeeded by
Henry Manners
Preceded by
George Manners
Baron de Ros
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