Sir Francis Walsingham Facts and Biography

Sir Francis Walsingham

Biography Summary: Sir Francis Walsingham (1532 - 1590) was famous for Queen Elizabeth I’s principal secretary and spymaster. He came from a wealthy family and was very well educated. A devote Christian during the reign of Catholic Queen Mary I of England he was forced to go into exile until she died when it was safe for him to return. He went on to serve Queen Elizabeth I until his own death but over the many many years of service to his Queen his efforts were exemplary.

Sir Francis Walsingham was such a master of his trade there was little he did not know and was perceptive enough to anticipate what was coming. The great man married twice, his first wife Anne Barne, already a widow with a child, died after two years of marriage and left her son in Walsingham’s care, he then married Ursula St Barbe and together they had two daughters.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact Sheet: Who was Sir Francis Walsingham? The following short biography and fact sheet provides interesting facts about the life, times and history of Sir Francis Walsingham.


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Sir Francis Walsingham Fact File Biography: Lifespan: *** Full Name: Sir Francis Walsingham *** Nickname: Moor and Spymaster *** Occupation: Queen Elizabeth I’s Principal Secretary and Spymaster *** Date of Birth: Sir Francis Walsingham was born in 1532, the exact date is unknown *** Place of Birth: Sir Francis Walsingham was born in Foots Cray in Kent, England *** Early life and childhood: He grew up with his five sisters *** Education: Sir Francis Walsingham attended King’s College in Cambridge and prior to that would have received tuition at home *** Sir Francis Walsingham died on April 6, 1590

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 1: Sir Francis Walsingham was born in 1532 in Kent, England. His father was William Walsingham and his mother was Joyce. His father was a wealthy, successful lawyer but died when Francis was only two years old. His mother remarried Sir John Carey in 1538.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 2: In 1552 he enrolled at Gray’s Inn to further study to become a lawyer.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 3: When Edward VI died and Mary I became Queen, as with many nobles of the protestant, faith he was forced to leave England and lived abroad in Italy.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 4: Upon her death Elizabeth the first was proclaimed queen and he was finally able to return home.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 5: Upon his return home and through support from fellow exiles returning home, he was given the opportunity to become a member of Elizabeth’s first parliament with the influence of the 2nd Earl of Bedford and was even elected for a second term.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 6: Through his support of the Huguenots, he would befriend and work very closely with Nicholas Throckmorton. By 1569 he was working with William Cecil and together they foiled many plots against Elizabeth I including the Ridolfi plot which would see Mary Queen of Scots on the English thrown.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 7: He was given the honor of a Knighthood on December 1st 1577.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 8: Over many years Walsingham worked tirelessly for Queen Elizabeth I and earned himself the reputation and nickname as her Spymaster.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 9: He would become instrumental in convincing Queen Elizabeth I to imprison Mary Queen of Scots and eventually, when enough evidence was collected, Mary was put on trial under the act for the surety of the Queens person, she was found guilty.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 10: Reluctant to go ahead with Mary’s execution, Elizabeth signed her death warrant but did not give specific instructions for it to be executed.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 11: Ever the manipulator, and with his queens best interests always in his heart, Sir Francis Walsingham went ahead and made the arrangements for the unauthorized execution of Mary Queen of Scots.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 12: Unbeknownst to Queen Elizabeth, and with Sir Francis Walsingham at his home apparently unwell, Mary’s warrant for execution was carried out.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 13: Sir Francis Walsingham had agents everywhere and in 1586 he was receiving intelligence from the merchant communities as well as foreign courts. He was particularly pleased with the information he received through his recruitment of Anthony Standen, a friend of the Tuscan ambassador to Madrid, and the information he provided regarding Spain's preparations for an invasion on English soil.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 14: Sir Francis Walsingham particularly concentrated his efforts on the defence of Dover Harbor, ever concerned about a Spanish invasion.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 15: Sir Francis Walsingham was a great supporter of the raid on Cadiz conducted by Sir Francis Drake in 1587 and the mayhem it brought to the Spanish king.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 16: In July of 1588 the Spanish Armada had set sail for England and would be thwarted in their attempts invade England.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 17: Walsingham proved himself a master spy with an extremely extensive network not only across Europe but as far reaching as Algiers and Constantinople, with particularly attention to Catholic exiles.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 18: There is some suggestion that even the playwright Christopher Marlow, also a friend of Walsingham’s brother, Thomas, may have been one of his spies.

Sir Francis Walsingham Fact 19: Sir Francis Walsingham died at his family home on April 6, 1590. Often complaining of ill health over many years, Walsingham spent much time at his country estate recuperating from various maladies, including pains in his back, stomach and head. It has been suggested he suffered from kidney stones, diabetes and urinary infections. He was interred, quietly, in a private ceremony in the old Saint Paul’s cathedral.

Influence and Legacy of Sir Francis Walsingham: Walsingham’s style of spy craft was unlike anyone else of his time. His network of intelligence kept him so up to date with information he was probably aware of events even before people who were involved were even aware of such details. He was truly a craftsman in his field.

Facts about Sir Francis Walsingham for Kids:
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