Bottesford: St Mary





Francis, 6th Earl of Rutland and his two wives, Frances and Cecilia

Recumbent peer and ladies



Francis, between his two wives, is depicted in the court dress of an earl, wearing the robe and Order of the Garter. His head crowned with a coronet, rests on two embroidered cushions with tassels. Dressed in trunk hose, short doublet and stockings, court shoes with rosettes and a sword at his side, his feet are supported by a peacock in pride.

Frances, the first wife who died in 1608, lies on the upper level in a black robe of ermine, low cut bodice and a farthingale with plain sleeves, vandyked at the wrists. Round her neck is a necklace of beads. Her low stomacher is richly ornamented with lace; while at her feet stands a wyvern.

Cecilia, on the lower level, who married Francis soon after his first wife's death, is dressed in a robe of ermine, coronet of guilded copper, ruff, jacket and coat. A lion is at her feet. She died in 1653.

The five sets of arms are:

1. Or, two bars azure, a chief quarterly of the last and gules, in the first and fourth quarters two fleurs-de-lis, and in the second and third a lion passant guardant all or (Manners) impaling Sable, an eagle displayed ermine within a bordure argent (Tufton) 2. Or, two bars azure, a chief quarterly of the last and gules, in the first and fourth quarters two fleurs-de-lis, and in the second and third a lion passant guardant all or (Manners) with quarterings, crest and supporters two unicorns standing 3. as 1. 4. Or, two bars azure, a chief quarterly of the last and gules, in the first and fourth quarters two fleurs-de-lis, and in the second and third a lion passant guardant all or (Manners) impaling Argent, a bend sable within a bordure of the second engrailed 5. as 4.

Also depicted on the tomb are the earl's three children, two of whom are holding skulls - signifying that they predeceased their father. The inscription is of special interest as it is the only one known in England to record the cause of death as witchcraft.

The right hon'ble and noble Lord Francis Earle of Rutland, Lord Roos of Hamlack, Tresbut, and Belvoir, of the most noble Order of the Garter, knight, lyeth here interred. At eighteen years of age he went to Travaile in the year 1598, in France, Lorayne, and divers states of Italy. He was honorably received by the princes them selves, and nobly entertained in their courts. In his return through Germany he had like honour done him by Ferdinand Archduke of Austria at his court in Gratz; by the Emperor Mathias, and his Court in Vienna: by Count Schwarzenbough, Lieutenant of Lavarin in Hungary: by Count Rossembourg at Prague in Boheme: by the Marquis of Brandenbourgh, the Dukes of Saxony, and other Ger main Princes in the Court at Berlin. In 1604 he was made Knight of the Bath and married the Lady Frances Bevill, one of the daughters and coheirs of the hon'ble knight Sir Henry Knyvett, by whom he had issue only one daughter, the most vertuous and thrice noble Princesse Katherine, now Duchess of Bucking. In 1608 he married the Ldy Cecillia Hungerford, daughter to the hon'ble knight Sir John Tufton, by whom he had two sonnes, both which dyed in their infancy by wicked practice and sorcerye. In 1612 he was made Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, and after justice in Eyre of all the King's Forrests and Chases in the North of Trent. In 1616 he was made knight of the most noble Order of the Garter. In the year 1616 he was one of the Lords who attended King James by His Ma't's speciall appointm't, in his journy into Scotland. In 1623 he was by the same King James made Admirall of a navye of His Ma't's great shippes and pynaces, to return Prince Charles, now our dread soveraigne, Lord king of England, out of Spayne, which he happily performed.

The earl erected this monument for himself in his lifetime, which is why his date of death (17 December 1632) is not recorded. The monument was so huge that its height caused the roof of the chancel to be raised, even so, part of the rafter had to be cut away as well as one of the windows having to be made redundant!

Francis was close to James I who visited him at Belvoir seven times during his reign. He was in charge of the fleet which, in April 1623, brought back Prince Charles from Spain and subsequently attended his coronation. Francis married twice: first to Frances Knevet by whom he had one daughter, Catherine; and secondly to Cicely Tufton by whom he had two sons who died in infancy. On his death, at an inn at Bishops Stortford, he left clothing valued at over 500.

The story of the 'wicked practice and sorcerye' is as follows.

Joan Flower and her two daughters, Margaret and Phillipa, were servants in the earl's household at Belvoir Castle. One day Margaret was caught stealing and was dismissed by Countess Frances. This enraged Joan who lost no time in announcing her intention of seeking revenge.

According to their confession, the Flowers entered into communication with familiar spirits who assisted them in their wicked designs. Joan claimed that hers was in the bodily form of a cat, which she called Rutterkin, on whose back belongings of members of the Earl's family were rubbed in an attempt to effect bodily harm on their owner. In this way the Flowers were believed to have caused the death of the Earl's wife and two sons.

It was a long time before the earl suspected the three women, but in 1618 they were arrested and taken to Lincoln for trial.

The mother loudly protested her innocence and called for a piece of bread, wishing it might choke her if she were guilty. The story goes that immediately after she had put a piece into her mouth she fell down dead!

On examination Margaret Flower admitted stealing one of the young heir's gloves and given it to her mother who stoked Rutterkin with it, where upon the boy fell ill. She also admitted that with her sister she had taken some feathers from the earl's bed, which they boiled in blood in an attempt to prevent the earl and his wife having any more children.

The two daughters were condemned to death on 11 March 1619.

Sepulchral Effigies of Leicestershire and Rutland
Text copyright 2002 Max Matthews.
Images copyright Bob Trubshaw or Max Matthews 2002.
No copying or reproduction without prior written permission.
Published by Heart of Albion Press