British Isle Genealogy
 England, Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man
   Wales, Channel Island, Isle of Wight

Peregrine Bertie

British Isles Genealogy | Chapters From the Family Chest

     For three centuries the Christian name of Peregrine has been a special favorite in the noble house of the Berties, formerly Dukes of Ancaster, and now Earls of Lindsey. The name, as every fourth-form schoolboy knows, denotes a 'foreigner' or 'traveler;' and it is familiar to English ears also in it's abridged and disguised shape of 'pilgrim.'
     Most fancies have a reason, if one can only find it out; and there is good reason for the fancy which the Berties have taken for the name of Peregrine; for it commemorates an event in their family history of which they may well be proud, though three centuries and more have passed since that event occurred. 
     It appears from the records of the College of Arms that, according to the Heralds' Visitation, one Thomas Bertie, a gentleman of high birth, long pedigree, and great accomplishments, a member of a family seated at Berstead or Bearsted, in Kent, 'having a long tyme used himself to feates of armes,' was appointed by King Henry VIII Captain or Governor of Hurst Castle, between Southampton and the Isle of Wight. We know little of him personally, and perhaps he did not hold his captaincy long enough to leave a name behind him for any further I feates;' but by his wife, Alice Say, or Saye, he left a son, Richard, who became a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, was bred to the Bar, and became distinguished for his accomplishments in an age when the young students of Lincoln's-Inn and the Temple took part in plays, masques, and revels; and when even grave Lord Chancellors and Keepers were not ashamed to 'lead the brawls' at Christmastide in the Great Hall, which was decorated with bright mistletoe and holly for the occasion.
     In 1553 young Robert Bertie carried off as his prize and married one of the belles of the Court, the fair Mistress Katherine, Baroness Willoughby d'Ereshy in her own right, as only daughter and the heir of William, last Lord Willoughby of the ancient line, and also amply dowered with This world's goods, as being the youthful widow of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, whose near relation to the throne made the Tudor Queen Vary almost as furious at this love-match as her sister Elizabeth was afterwards, whenever she found that a Dudley or a Sidney had married without first asking her royal leave.
     If Mr. Bertie had not already imbibed some strong Protestant opinions from his wife, who was much attached to her first husband's memory, the anger of the queen at his presumption may have confirmed in him an idea that the Catholics were not the most charitable people in the world; and probably his wife was not slow in fanning such an idea into a flame. At all events, the pair thought ' discretion the better part of valor : and so, not long after their marriage, which was sudden and secretly contrived, they quietly effected their escape from London to Germany.  Here and in Poland, to which they extended their travels, they found plenty of persons in high positions, and even in courts, who were well disposed to anyone who had a grievance against that most unpopular of sovereigns, Mary Tudor.
     But the story of the flight abroad of this couple is styled by Sir Bernard Burke a 'romantic' affair, and such indeed it was. It will be remembered that Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, was one of the firmest and staunchest friends of Archbishop Cranmer, and that his wife almost surpassed him in zeal for the cause of the 'new religion.' At all events, at Grimsthorpe, her seat in Lincolnshire, she kept as her domestic chaplain Dr. Latimer, the same who, under Queen Mary, as Bishop of Worcester, died at the stake. Finding, from sources of private information, that she and her new husband were down on the Queen's 'Black List,' she resolved to steal a march on the myrmidons of the law, and to find some excuse for a voluntary exile, which she did not intend to be of brief duration. Accordingly, either at Boston or at Lynn, the young couple secured berths on board a fishing vessel which was bound for one of the ports in the Low Countries, taking with them an infant daughter, named Susan, who afterwards married Reginald Grey, Earl of Kent.
     Though they passed the perils of the sea without much difficulty, yet, on landing on the shores of the Netherlands, they found themselves the objects of suspicion and mistrust. Accordingly they went through a series of not very pleasant adventures, and suffered much fatigue as they travelled on in disguise from one city to another in the hopes of finding a retreat among some of the Protestant princes of the petty states of Germany. At last, however, they succeeded in finding a resting-place for the soles of their feet. At Wesel, in the Duchy of Cleves, not far from the confluence of the Rhine and the Lippe, in 1555, the duchess was delivered of a son, to whom she and her husband gave the name of Peregrine, for the reason stated above. Dugdale, who in the main follows Hollinshead, says that, when they were refused a lodging at Wesel, they were about to shelter themselves from the cold on a very bad and wintry night in the porch of the great church, and to buy coals and wood, in order to light a fire there, but that, on their way, Mr. Bertie heard two youths talking Latin, and that he thereupon prevailed on them, being a very fair scholar himself, to conduct them to a private lodging, where they had the good luck to be recognized by a Mr. Peverel, a Protestant minister, who caused them to be entertained in a style befitting their rank.
     It is probable that they remained at Wesel for about two years, as in 1557 they journeyed on into Poland, where they were duly installed by the ruling power in the earldom of Crolan, in Samogitia, and had conferred on them full and absolute power to rule and govern it in the king's name; and here they stayed, apparently quite contented, until the death of Mary and the consequent accession of Elizabeth prepared the way for their return to England, which, under the new queen, soon declared for the Protestant cause.
     In the letters patent by which Peregrine Bertie was subsequently naturalized, it is recited that Richard Bertie, his father, had a license from Queen Mary to travel in foreign lands. This is explained by Dugdale and Hollinshead, who say that soon after his marriage Bishop Gardiner sent for him, and asked him whether the duchess, his wife, was as ready now to set up the Mass as she had been before to pull it down? The same authorities say that, supposing the duchess would be in danger, her husband obtained the Queen's license to travel, as if to collect some debts due from the Emperor of Germany to the late Duke of Suffolk; and that he thereupon made his way to the Continent, leaving the poor duchess to follow after him in the best way she could, whether on board a fishing boat, as related above, or by any other chance vessel. Be this as it may, there is a note in Hollinshead recording the escape, though he does not enter into details about it, and Miss Strickland passes over the affair almost in silence.
     Mr. Bertie and his wife, on their return to England, stood high in favor at the Court of the 'Maiden Queen,' The young son, whom, in memory of his birth dining their forced exile from England, his parents named Peregrine, grew up to manhood as handsome and accomplished as his father had been before him; and, on his mothers death, in 1580, he was summoned to Parliament as Lord Willoughby. He proved himself one of the first soldiers of his time; and Sir Robert Naunton speaks of him in his 'Fragmenta Regalia' as' one of the Queen's first swordsmen and a great master of the military art' He married a lady of the noble house of De Vere, daughter of Henry eighteenth Earl of Oxford of that line, by whom he had a son Robert, a soldier by profession, like his father, who claimed, though without success, the earldom of oxford in right of his mother. He was more fortunate in a claim which he preferred to the office of Lord Great Chamberlain If England, which was allowed to him, and which has descended to his present representative, the Lady Willoughby d'Eresby, mother of Lord Aveland. He was created Earl of Lindey, and made a Knight of the Garter; and at the outbreak of the Civil War he was appointed General-in-Chief of the Royal Forces, a division which be commanded at the Battle of Edge Hill, where he fell.
     His great grandson was raised to the Marquisate of Lindsey and the Dukedom of Ancaster, titles which became extinct early in the present century, when the Earldom of Lindsey passed to a distant cousin, who was descended from a younger son of the second earl. But in almost every generation down to the present time one of the sons of the house of Bertie has borne the name of Peregrine.

Chapters From the Family Chests, 1887

Chapters From the Family Chest

Search British Isles

British Isles Genealogy Records

Channel Islands Genealogy
England Genealogy
Ireland Genealogy
Isle of Man Genealogy
Scotland Genealogy
Wales Genealogy

Other Genealogy Records

Free Genealogy
British Isles Books
Genealogy Library
Canadian Genealogy
Genealogy Gateway
Family Tree Guide

Cyndi's List

Sites I Visit

Garden Herbs
Trade Recipes

Sip of Wine
The Little Tea Book

British Isles Genealogy


Add/Correct a Link


Comments/Submit Data


Copyright 2004-, the web pages may be linked to but shall not be reproduced on another site without written permission from BIGenealogy. Images may not be linked to in any manner or method. Anyone may use the information provided here freely for personal use only. If you plan on publishing your personal information to the web please give proper credit to our site for providing this information. Thanks!!!