Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An Italian in Tudor London: Bartholomeo COMPAGNI.

[A portrait of Bartolomeo COMPAGNI, painted in Firenze, in 1549, by Piero FOSCHI.]

On Wednesday, 4 June 1561, with "... a most hydeous cracke of thunder suche as seldom hath been heard," accompanied by "... a marvellous strong air or whorlewynd with a smel of brimstone," a huge lightning bolt struck the lead-covered steeple, which rose to a height of 520 feet, atop the central Caen-stone tower of Old St Paul's Cathedral, London, setting it's timber frame on fire. A major part of the main roof was also destroyed, and the ruins of the steeple itself collapsed into the upper (or street) level of the church proper, where they were to remain for some time.
A month before, the mortal remains of Bartholomeo COMPAGNI, Florentine Merchant Stranger in London, had been laid to rest in the Cathedral, aged 58, after a sermon from the controversial French Protestant preacher John VERON, by undertaker Henry MACHIN, who, in his "Diary of a Londoner," identified the location - at "... the neder end of the stepes, under the belles."
Research has not yet established any connection between these two events.

Bartholomeo had arrived in London before 2 December 1532, on which day a compatriot, Guido GIANETTI, Venetian Merchant, obtained his English Denization, to which occasion he later (in 1559) cited COMPAGNI as a witness. Bartholomeo was granted his own Patent of Denization in London on 25 March 1535.
Reasons for Bartholomeo's leaving his native Firenze, in Toscano, are unclear, but may have had something to do with his family's business connections as Merchants and Traders, probably in Woollens and Silks.


Bartholomeo was born on 23 April 1503, in Santa Trinita, the district under the banner of the Gonfalonieri dell'Unicorno and in the Quartiere di Santa Novella, Firenze, Toscano. He was the third son of Neri COMPAGNI (son of Dino di Neri COMPAGNI), one of the Sedici Gonfaloniere (1496), Priori (1497), and one of the Dodici Buonomini (1500) of Firenze, by his spouse and third cousin, Maria COMPAGNI (daughter of Piero di Giovanni COMPAGNI).
His great-grandfathers, Neri and Giovanni, were sons of Francesco COMPAGNI by Lapa NERI; Francesco's father Perino was an elder brother to Dino COMPAGNI (1255-1324), whose Palazzo was on the via San Egidio, a Silk Merchant in Firenze, Gonfalonieri di Giustizia (1293), and renowned among students of Florentine history as the great "Chronicler."
[See the family pedigree in Monsieur L. de MAGNY's "Nobilaire Universel de France," Volume 12, Paris, 1877.]

[The Chiesa di Sancta Trinita on Via de’ Tornabuoni, Firenze.]

The Chapel of San Giovanni Gualberto, in the Parish Church of Santa Trinita, was built for the COMPAGNI family by Bicci di LORENZO in the 1430's, and part of the altar piece which he painted for it had, by the 18th century, found it's way into Westminster Abbey.

[The Chapel of San Giovanni Gualberto. Photo by Bill PIGOTT. 
Memorials to COMPAGNI family members are visible under the smaller painting to the right of centre, and next to the base of the pedestal lower right. See details below.]

[Memorial to Dino COMPAGNI, died 1324.]


Bartholomeo had a number of strong financial connections in Antwerp, by which city he probably made his way to London. He maintained contact there with Giovanne Carlo deli AFFAETADI, Francesco NASO, Allessandro di POGGIO of Luca, Jacopo de SANGINANO, Nicholas RONDINELLI, Alexander ANTYNORI, John de NERLI, and Galeotto MAGALOTTI. These contacts were to prove very useful to Bartholomeo's fund raising activities there in the mid-late 1540's to finance Henry VIII's war effort against the French King, Francois I.

In London, he was part of a larger community, described by PETTEGREE as follows:
"... the richest and most influential of the foreigners settled in London were the alien merchants, amongst whom the Italians occupied a position of special eminence. The expulsion of Jews by Edward I in 1290 had given the Italians the opportunity to make their financial services indispensable to the Crown, and in the intervening centuries the leading Italian merchant families had succeeded in cornering a substantial proportion of London's import and export trade. Most of the larger merchant houses retained permanent representatives in London, often young men serving a form of apprenticeship before returning to their native land. Economically sophisticated and socially self-contained, the Italian merchant community was rightly regarded as a commercial and financial aristocracy within the stranger community..."
[Andrew PETTEGREE. "Foreign Protestant Communities in 16th Century London." Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1986.]

The central street in London's financial district is not named Lombard Street without reason.

But Bartholomew's return visits to his native city were few and only temporary - he was to remain, settle, and see his first grandchild born in London before he died and was buried in the largest building in the Kingdom, even after it lost its steeple.
And in that city, his dealings kept him in contact with other compatriots, Bartholomeo FORTINI, Tomaso CAVALCANTI, and Gian GIRALDE, all Florentines; Ancelyn and Henry SALVAGO; Antonio BONVISI, of Lucca; and Antonio VIVALDI.


Bartholomeo served as Merchant to the Court of Henry VIII. On 31 July 1539 he is recorded as having written to Thomas CROMWELL (who had visited Firenze in 1512 - he would be executed in 1540 on the orders of his master, King Henry VIII), advising that he had just received letters by the ordinary courier from Antwerp, which included one:
"... for the King, which he would have come to deliver in person, but for the opportunity of the bearer Antonio CARSIDONI."
[Calendars of State Papers, Henry VIII.]

The letter's contents remain a mystery, but it illustrates one of COMPAGNI's great assets which was available to the English Court - access to a well developed and secure document delivery network into continental Europe.
And in 1539, we have evidence of another aspect of COMPAGNI's commercial enterprises - the Duke of Suffolk (Charles BRANDON), sold off estates that had formerly been monastic lands, to finance the purchase, for £800, of:
"... one diamond ring, from a Florentine operating in London, Bartolommeo COMPAGNA."
[S.J. GUNN, "Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk." Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1988, page 171.]

COMPAGNI's business dealings were not all plain sailing. In 1542, a dispute arose between him and Mariotto NERETTI, a Florentine Mercer in London, concerning a shipment of woad (a blue dye-stuff, later superseded by indigo), which dispute was referred to the Privy Council in September - a listing of it appears in the Chancery Judicial Proceedings, Equity side [P.R.O., Kew], dated 7 February xxxiii Henry VIII, and was prosecuted by COMPAGNI and his then wife Barbara, widow of John CAPON[IS], Mercer, deceased.

By 26 April 1542, he owed the King £425 3s. and 8d-halfpenny.

On 27 November 1543, Bartholomeo was granted, for life, license:
"... to export broadcloths and other merchandise, and import silk, wines, etc, so that the customs upon them at the rate payable by English merchants did not exceed £100 a year."
[C.S.P., Henry VIII, Volume 21, Part 2, No. 476.]

And on 14 July 1544, he obtained the grant, formerly belonging to Baptist BORONE, a Milanoys, of a license:
"... to export to ports beyond the Strait of Marroke, from London, Southampton or Sandwich, 800 sacks of wool; paying for subsidies 5 marks per sack and for Calais money 8d. per sack, two years after shipment."
[C.S.P. Henry VIII, Pat. page 28, m. 46.]


Another important aspect of Bartholomeo's activities came to light in 1544, when he became involved in an extensive programme of "cash-raising" to finance Henry VIII's war effort against the French King Francois I, which lasted until well into 1546.
Henry's principal agent in Antwerp was Stephen VAUGHAN (a London Merchant, who had been in the service of Thomas CROMWELL), who took a keen interest in the particulars and the repayments of the loans arranged by COMPAGNI.
And the money amounts involved were not small.
On 17 June 1544, VAUGHAN, in Antwerp, wrote of "... bills of credence for 100,000 crowns" which he renegotiated, noting that "... other houses in London will be credited here, as John GERALDE and Barth CAMPANYA."
On 15 February 1545, the Council authorised a payment to Bartholomeo of £5,000 sterling, for War Expenses:
"... in part payment of money delivered last year in Flanders to the King's use."
[C.S.P., Henry VIII.]

In April, Bartholomeo had been in correspondence with Jasper DOWCHE, of Antwerp, concerning £1,000 sterling in coin, and appears to have been instrumental in keeping DOWCHE on-side with the English King.
And on 14 July 1545, VAUGHAN wrote from Calais concerning terms for a loan of 300,000 crowns from DOWCHE "... at 10% upon bond in London," citing COMPAGNI, and begging Sir William PAGET (Henry VIII's Principal Private Secretary) "... to signify the King's pleasure and to proceed with Bartilmew COMPAIGNE with speed."

It would probably take someone with a post-graduate degree in Banking Administration to disentangle all the financial dealings COMPAGNI was involved in at this time. Some of the further references may be to repayments on earlier loans, some of which may have involved the need for further loans, or plain re-negotiation of terms to avoid penalties.
But on 18 January 1546, VAUGHAN, citing bills of credit brought out from England to Antwerp from Bartholomeo for 20,000 crowns (or £6,000 Florentine), querying the allowance for factorage, brokerage and interest being claimed by COMPAGNI (the Council confirmed these rates at 5% for 6 months, 0.75% for brokerage and provision).
And he revealed details of the means of delivery:
"...because the King's merchants laded yesterday wagons for Calles with merchandise, [he] had a chest made of boards like a case of velvets, and packed £4,980 Florentine in it, all in crowns; and this morning [20 January] the wagon is gone toward Callays..."
[C.S.P., Henry VIII.]


In amongst all of this, Bartholomeo made a journey to France and Italy.
In July 1545, he, with his servants, was granted a passport of the Privy Council [Acts,13 July] "... to passe without interupcion."
Cardinal TOURNON, writing in September that year to Cardinal TRIVULCIIS that:
"... the King of England has sent to ask for peace. Advices from Flanders and Germany of the 13th, state that England was indeed negociating through a Florentine merchant named Bartholomeo COMPAGNI, but his terms were too hard."
[Intelligence from Rome. Spanish Calendar, VIII, No. 132.]

On 17 August, Ambassador Van DELFT wrote from the Court, at Guildford in Surrey, to Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor), reporting his progress in negotiations with PAGET and the King, concerning the Emperor's desire to bring about peace with France:
"... that he learnt in strict confidence that they [the English Council] were already, through Madame d'ETAMPES, in treaty with France, the French proposing to pay the pension and arrears and 100,000 crowns for Boulogne; but as no mention was made of the cost of the war, and the French wished to include something about Scotland, the King had cooled, and negotiations had been suspended. The intermediary in this was Barth COMPAGNI, an Italian merchant in London, who formerly visited the writer about Jasper DOULCHY's affairs, and who is now in Court."
[C.S.P., Henry VIII.]

Madame d'ETAMPES was the French King's mistress, and his de-facto Foreign Minister.

COMPAGNI's actual movements here are somewhat unclear, perhaps deliberately confused a little due to a need for secrecy.
On 31 August, SCEPPERUS and Van DELFT, still at Guildford, wrote to Mary of Hungary relating further progress in the peace negotiations, the flight of the French Fleet, and of Henry's refusal to make concessions on Boulogne (where Henry himself had gone to lead his troops in the previous year):
"... the English are therefor not so inclined to seek peace as they were... As to the negociations by Bart COMPAGNI which DELFT reported to the Emperor... SCEPPERUS recollects hearing that a short fat man from Antwerp was mixed up therein, and such a man is now here, an advocate from Antwerp named Master RINGOLT, who frequents COMPAGNI's house. Learnt secretly that COMPAGNI left for France on the day of SCEPPERUS's arrival at this Court; but next day they met him in the street. Believe that his voyage is abandoned, as PAGET confidentially assures Van DELFT that it is, and that the negociation was only meant to cool the French efforts against Boulogne..."
[C.S.P., Henry VIII.]

And on 25 August 1545, PAGET wrote to NORFOLK, reporting the deaths of Lords SUFFOLK and POYNINGS, the rout of the French Fleet, and the brief skirmish across the border by the Scots. He concluded:
"... Bartil. COMPEIGNE, passing towards Italy, spake with Madame DESTAMPES but their conference came to nil effect."
[C.S.P., Henry VIII.]

Despite the failure of his mission, Bartholomeo was awarded by Henry an Augmentation of Honour to his Coat-of-Arms (COMPAGNI: Or, A bend Sable), of a Rose gules (in Sinister Chief, seeded Or, barbed Vert), for his faithful sevice.

Whether COMPAGNI went on to re-visit Firenze is unclear, although it is likely. He was almost certainly there 4 years later, in 1549, when his portrait was painted in oils on wood panel, by Florentine artist Piero di Jacopo FOSCHI. The original is now in the collection of the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Jacksonville, Florida, having been purchased by them in 1984. Charles STIRLING, of Cadder near Glasgow, had acquired it in Italy before 1826; it was moved to Kier in 1894; catalogued for sale by Sotheby's for sale on 3 July 1963; and finally by COLNAGHI in New York in 1983.


COMPAGNI's house was in Broad Street, Parish of St Christopher-le-Stocks, London. Later, on 3 January 1551, he obtained a grant of "... the messuage now in his tenure" there for £140 paid in the Augmentations, at £14 per year, to be held by:
"... Bartholomeo, his heirs and assigns, of the King, by fealty only in free burgage of the City of London and not in chief."
[Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward VI, II. 927. Greenwich, 1 January.]

It appears to have been close to the site of the old city walls, and was part of the late fraternity of St Mary in the Chapel of All Hallows, Barking by the Tower, associated with a college of Priests (founded by Richard III) which was dissolved in 1548. COMPAGNI may have rebuilt a new and quite substantial house on the site. It was home to a number of Bartholomeo's expatriate countrymen, especially those fleeing persecution as heretics in their native land - Guido GENETTI was one such living there in January 1553.

With the crowning of the new and Protestant boy-king Edward VI, COMPAGNI was named in the New Year's grants of 1550:
"... his servant, in rewarde... 13s. 4d."

Bartholomeo was also confirmed in his trading concessions. By letters Patent, dated 27 November 1550, he was appointed the King's Merchant, for provision of:
"... silkes, clothe of golde and sylver, sables and other furres, tapissery, lynnen clothe or canvas, saltpetir or other thinges as we shall nede."
And from the same Patent, with a License to import:
"...all manner of sylkes and velvettes, dammaskes, sattyns, taffeta and sarcenettes, all manner of workes of Venyce golde and sylver, Dammaske gold and sylver, and of sylke passemeyn fringes, rybandes and such other workes... all manner golde worke plate and sylver vessell, juelles, perles, precyous stones as well sett in gold and imbrodered in garmentes as otherwise, all manner garments imbrodered with gold or sylver, skynes and furres and luserdes, clothes of tapyssery and arras mixed with golde, sylver of siylke, and all other things mete for our use."
[Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward VI. By P.S., II. 925, Westminster, 22 November.]

These were to be viewed and appraised by officers of the Port of London, "... to the intent that the king may have first sight and choice of them."

And in 1552-53, now the King's Financial Agent, Bartholomeo was charged with supplying, through his factor in Paris, the daily diet and other wants of Edward's constant childhood companion, Barnaby FITZPATRICK, after he was dispatched to France by the Council, under the particular charge of special emissary Sir William PICKERING, to master French, see something of the world, and learn a little about the art of warfare.

Also in 1553, COMPAGNI wrote from London, 13 February, to Cosimo MEDICI, now Duke of his home city Firenze, stating that:
"... two female dogs he had sent from England to Tuscany have died in transport across France, and promises to send more, this time by ship. He also asks anxiously of the horses [chinee] he sent to Florence some weeks before were to the Duke's liking."
[The MEDICI Archive Project. MpD 41, 3a. DocID 3045, Folio 683. At www.medici.org]

The index to this Archive refers to COMPAGNI as the Consul in England for the Florentine Nation.


After the accession of the Catholic Queen Mary, the situation became somewhat precarious for Protestants in England. It has been mooted that COMPAGNI was one such, and his funeral rites would suggest he may have been. It would certainly have been in his commercial interests in England during Henry's reign to have supported Henry's position on the difficult issue of the time, the divorce from Catherine of Aragon.

COMPAGNI wrote from Antwerp in February 1554, claiming unpaid portions of a sum of £10,000 which he had:
"... undertaken to furnishe the Quenes Heighnes on thisside Easter, amonge his friendes in Antwerp... whereof to be allowed himself at the receipt of the same suche sommes of money as be alredie due to hym, and the overplus of the said somme to be paied by the said Thomas GRESHAM unto the Marchaunt Adventurers there, that hitherto remayn unpaied, before the depeach of which two things he has willed not to return."
[Acts of the Privy Council, Westminster, 28 February 1554.]

It looks a little like Bartholomeo may have removed himself to a safe distance in Antwerp, and was threatening to re-establish his business there on a permanent basis if he did not get what he wanted from Queen Mary's Council!
He was still in Antwerp on 6 May, when Simon RENARD, Spanish Ambassador in Brussels, warned his master:
"COMPAGNI... has gone to Antwerp with the avowed object of raising money; but I must warn your Majesty that, as you also hear from SCHEYVE, he has always acted here as a spy for the French ambassadors; so he had better be watched..."
[Calendar of State Papers, Philip and Mary.]

RENARD repeated the accusation in a letter to the Emperor dated 13 October 1554, referring to the French and Venetian Ambassadors:
"...who are always plotting. The Venetian's house is full of spies, English and Italian, among whose names I have heard mentioned Bartholomeo COMPAGNI..."
[C.S.P., Phillip and Mary.]

Bartholomeo's contacts, so essential to his business enterprises, were always going to risk landing him in trouble with the enemies of those contacts, insomuch as he provided them with a secure conduit for their information and intelligence abroad.


On 27 December 1555, Bartholomeo surrendered into Chancery his Patent of 27 November xxxviii Henry VIII (the 1543 license to export broadcloths and other merchandises, and import silk, wines, etc), in consideration of a grant of £5,600. The mention of executors in association with this surrender suggests a possibility he was ill, and feared it may have been terminal. But he was yet to sire another child, and lived for another 5 years.
In 1556, the Acts of Privy Council reveal that Bartholomeo was still active on behalf of the Council, and involved in importing bowstaves from Europe. And in 1557, the French intercepted a Flemish cutter carrying Venetian goods intended for England, which prompted the English Ambassador to make a protest, with a letter by Dr WOOTTON citing that "... amongst the sufferers on this occasion was Bartholomeo COMPAGNI and other merchants not native but naturalised English."

The new Queen, Elizabeth, named COMPAGNI in her general pardon, January 1559.

Bartolomeo was intermediary in matters concerning repayment of a debt of £15,000 of Sir Anthony GUYDOTE, under the bonds of the Duke of Florence and the Seignory.
Elizabeth followed the matter up, with a tactful and gentle prompt, in a letter to the Duke, Cosimo MEDICI:
"... Understanding from her Council that a sum of money is due by him to her, the payment of which has been delayed at his request in consequence of the recent wars in Italy, peace now being restored she doubts not he will take an early opportunity of settling this debt, which will be very acceptable to her. This may conveniently be done by Bart COMPAGNI, unless he should prefer some other agent."

As COMPAGNI appears to have been the Consul in England for the Florentine Nation, the Duke would hardly have demurred on the last suggestion.

The last official mention of Bartholomeo I have yet found in Calendars of State Papers was on 23 March 1561, when he, "... or an assign under his will," was granted £1,380 "... out of customs and subsidies due on his wares exported, or to be retained by him or paid by the customers or collectors of customs and subsidies in the Port of London only" in satisfaction of that amount of money owed him by Edward VI, and for "...his service to Edward VI and the present Queen."
This last statement could be interpreted in a way which suggests that there was a lack of continuity in COMPAGNI's service to the Crown during the reign of Queen Mary. We know that he did de-camp to Antwerp for a time, and his dealings there were largely through Henry VIII's factor, Stephen VAUGHAN, known to be a fervent supporter of William TYNDALE, who was martyred as a Protestant. And by the end of Mary's reign, his own natural daughter Margaret (see below) had become the wife of one of Elizabeth TUDOR's own servants, Giovanni Battista CASTIGLIONE, himself imprisoned on more than one occasion on suspicion of having and distributing Protestant literature.


Bartholomeo COMPAGNI died in London, probably at his Broad Street residence, on 27 April 1561, 4 days after his 58th birthday. His will, dated 6 March 1561, made provision for him to be buried in St Paul's Cathedral, or if that was inconvenient, in his own Parish Church of St Christopher-le-Stocks. Henry MACHIN arranged the funeral, and described it in his "Diary of a Londoner" [published by the Camden Society, editor J.G. NICHOLS, 1848]:
"The furst day of May was cared to Powlles to be bered Barthellmuw COMOPANE, a marchand stranger dwelling Cristoffer at the Stokes, and through Chepe, and vj men in blake gowns and hodes, and a xxx gownes for pore men and women of mantyll frys, a liiij in blake gownes; and with-in the gatt of Powlles cherche-yerde mett all the quer of Powlles, and the clarkes of london whent a-for the corse with ther surples onder ther gownes, tyll they cam in-to the Powlles cherche-yerd, and they be-gane to syng: and the quer wher hangyd with black and armes, a iij dosen of skochyons of armes; and VERON dyd pryche, the Frencheman, and after browth ym to the neder end of the stepes under the belles, and bered hym. And after home to dyner."

With apologies for the spelling, no doubt!

[Old St Paul's Cathedral. Destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and replaced by WREN's domed Cathedral.]

The funeral may have been typical for its time in England. It certainly was for Italy. But there may have been an error in interpreting the number of Black Gowns as 54 - the custom was for the exact number of elapsed years in the deceased's life, which here should have been 58. Perhaps "liiij" had been mis-read in error for "lviij."

Bartholomeo's will, dated 6 March, was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 15 June 1561 (P.C.C. Wills Index - 24 Loftes), as Bart COMPAGNY, alias Nerus alias Dinus, Citizen and Merchant of Florence, died in the City of London.
His widow Margaret COMPAGNI and Stiata CAVALCANTI were named as executors.
He named a number of his relations - brother Nicholas in Florence; two unmarried nieces living in Florence, Margaret and Lucretia, daughters of his brother Dini COMPAGNI; nephew "ex sorore meos" Marco NOMI, Citizen and Merchant in Florence; beloved wife Margaret; beloved son and heir Dino; beloved daughter Mary; dear natural daughter Margaret (see below); nephew Vincento GUICCIARDINI, as a second substitute executor in the event of the death during his children's minority of Stiata CAVALCANTI, of first substitute, Guido CAVALAVANTI; cousin Vincento COMPAGNI (present as witnessing); Maria, daughter of my brother Dino, and wife of Silvestro POPOLESCHI; nephew Galeotto RINIERI; and "mio figliuola" Giulio COMPAGNI.
Also named were a number of others, business and domestic acquaintances, also legal and medical, as well as Peter VANNES (Dean of Salisbury Cathedral and Venetian Ambassador), Guido GENETTA (an earlier-mentioned business colleague and house resident), and Barbara AKE (perhaps in error for ASKE, a name which appeared in the will of Sir John ALLAN, father of illegitimate daughter Margaret COMPAGNI's first husband Lazarus ALLEN).


Bartholomeo COMPAGNI was twice married.
His first wife was Barbara FIAMMINGA, widow of Giovanni CAPONIS (alias John CAPON), another Florentine Merchant Stranger in London, who was dead before 1542 (he was in London by 1515, granted Denization on 1 May 1525, was party to an indenture of Henry VIII dated 3 March 1528 concerning a bond of 10,294 pounds to WOLSEY and Brian TUKE for 26 "...several obligations, of cloths of gold, velvets, satins, and other silks" and in partnership with Francis & John De BARDE and James De CAPONIS, and is last recorded in English records in March 1535).
Bartholomeo married secondly, in 1555, Margherita, daughter of Piero di Francesco CARNESECCHI, a Florentine; she is named executor of his will, and survived him, returning to Firenze where she raised their two lawful children:
1. Mary COMPAGNI; named as a minor in her father's will, 1561.
2. Dino COMPAGNI, baptised at St Christopher-le-Stocks, London, 12 January 1559; married with issue in Firenze.

Historians note a general custom among Italian men of that period to delay marriage in order to consolidate their careers, and that it was usual for them to die leaving young widows with small children; they also note that it was not unknown for them to sire the occasional illegitimate child in the meantime.
Bartholomeo was certainly no exception - about 1535, he sired, by an unknown woman, probably English, and perhaps one of his servants, an illegitimate daughter:
3. Margaret COMPAGNI; named in her father's will, 1561, as his "...dear natural daughter" and wife of John Baptist CASTILLION, whom he made overseer of his will.

In April 1558, Margaret COMPAGNI, by then the widow of Lazarus ALLEN, illegitimate son of Sir John ALLEN, P.C., Lord Mayor of London, married 2ndly, Giovanni Battista CASTIGLIONE, Master of the Italian Tongue to the Lady Elizabeth TUDOR, and Groom of her Privy Chamber when she became Queen. His life and times are the subject of a separate posting on this blog-site.

Bartholomeo was my gtx11 grandfather.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Another Italian in Tudor London: Giovanni Battista CASTIGLIONE

[Giovanni Battista CASTIGLIONE's tomb inside St Mary's Church, Spene. Photographed in 2010.]

An important and influential figure entered the life of Elizabeth TUDOR in late 1544. She was aged 11; he 29. He was her Master of the Italian Tongue, and her Tutor in the Italic Script; and he had one or two other tricks up his Italianate sleeve.

WYATT has noted that:
"Elizabeth had learned to speak and write Italian at an early age, and her fluency in a number of languages was considered remarkable by those who witnessed her linguistic skills in action. Her polyglotism is all the more extraordinary given that she never set foot on the European continent. Her preference for Italian and the prominence she accorded Italian culture can to a high degree be ascribed to the close presence in her life of Giovanni Battista CASTIGLIONE...
"[He] was among the the few who would have shared the young Elizabeth's life on such intimate terms (certainly no other foreigner did) and it is a sign of her dedication to him that the culture he opened to her would come to play such a significant role in the era over which she presided."
[Michael WYATT, "The Italian Encounter with Tudor England: A Cultural Politics of Translation," Cambridge University Press, 2005, page 125.]

And PETRINA has also noted:
"Elizabeth's inclination for language learning, and her proficiency in Italian..."
She further noted that:
"The teachings established by her earlier tutors... had occasion to burgeon under the guidance of her Italian teachers. Of these, the most famous is doubtlessly Giovanni Battista CASTIGLIONE, who had fought in Henry VIII's Army in France in 1544, and soon acquired a position at Court..."
"Whether or not CASTIGLIONE was Elizabeth's only teacher of Italian, he contributed significantly to her love for Italian language and culture, not only as a teacher, but also as part of a network of Italian intellectuals living and working in London..."
"Both CASTIGLIONE and Katherine ASHLEY were briefly imprisoned in 1555 and 1556, upon suspicion of circulating seditious pamphlets against the monarch (Mary) and, implicitly, in support of Elizabeth. As Elizabeth was then the constant object of suspicion, she might have felt a special closeness with her governess and her teacher of Italian, who ran risks in her support..."
However, after noting other Italians who were in contact with Elizabeth in later years, including one of her physicians, PETRINA cautioned that:
"It would therefore be limiting to suppose Elizabeth's proficiency in Italian to be simply the result of the influence of one man, however talented."
[Alessandra PETRINA, "Elizabeth Learning and Using Italian" - a chapter in "Elizabeth I's Foreign Correspondence: Letters, Rhetoric and Politics," edited by Carlo BAJETTA, Guillaume COATALEN and Jonathan GIBSON, published by Palgrave and MacMillan, 2014, at page 107-9.]


Born into a semi-aristocratic Mantuan family, albeit in Gassino-Torinese, Piemonte, about 1515-16, Giovanni Battista CASTIGLIONE was the son of Piero CASTIGLIONE, a Captain in the Army of Maximillian, Holy Roman Emperor. His mother has yet to be identified, and it is quite possible that he was illegitimate.

Giovanni was educated in the courtly skills that were part of his family heritage - his father was evidently a cousin of the noted Baldassare CASTIGLIONE (1478-1529), who was in 1506 an ambassador to the Court of Henry VII to receive for his master (the Duke of Urbino) an Order of the Garter, and the author of "Il Libro del Courtigiano" (Venice, 1528).
However, correspondence between Giovanni's sons and the descendants on Baldassare in Italy in the early 17th century failed to establish their exact family relationship, and family pedigrees nowhere provide a connection for Giovanni back to the Casatico branch of the CASTIGLIONE family. The reason for this is unclear, but would be partly explained by his being born illegitimate.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
However, another intriguing and much more extra-ordinary potential explanation has emerged.
I had believed (and still do) that the paternity of Giovanni was fairly evident from old family documents, including his letter-book, kept by his son Francis, and now in the Bienecke Rare Book and MS Library at Yale University - that paternity, enshrined in English Armorial pedigrees, was Pietro CASTIGLIONE, of Gassino-Torinese, in the Piemonte, a Captain in the Army of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.
But art historian Peter Lawrence BAKER, of Canada, suggests that his father was not named CASTIGLIONE, and may instead have been a Moorish artist from Firenze - and that his mother may have been "...a woman of enormous wealth and power" by whom Giovanni, although probably illegitimate, was nevertheless "...of very noble birth."
It appears that some evidence may exist to suggest that this woman could have been Margaret (1480-1530), daughter of Maximilian, the Holy Roman Emperor, by his wife Mary of Burgundy (and so a sister of Philip the Handsome of Castile), and the widow firstly of John, Prince of Asturias (married in 1497), then secondly of Philibert II, Duke of Savoy (married in 1501); by which marriages she was also known as the Archduchess of Austria, the Dowager Duchess of Savoy; and was the ruler of the Hapsburg Netherlands (1507-1515 and 1519 till death).
BAKER also indicates that he has found some evidence of Giovanni's birth in September 1515 (in a flurry of paintings by his supposed artist father in that month), and that he may have been taken as a baby firstly to Koln, and then to Issenheim for most of 1516, before going with his father to Padua in early 1517. It appears from Baker's account that Giovanni's grandfather may have met Baldassare CASTIGLIONE while working in Rome for Julius II; and BAKER suggests that the young Giovanni's noble identity was protected by adopting the CASTIGLIONE surname as an alias, perhaps with Baldassare's blessing.
Interestingly, Baldassare CASTIGLIONE did dedicate his book, "Il Libro del Courtigiano," to Margaret of Austria.
But I do not hold with BAKER's hypothesis.
At the very least, if there had been a hint scandal involving Margaret of Austria and an "unplanned" pregnancy, and if CASTIGLIONE had shown even the slightest indications of a Moorish descent, this would surely have been the subject of gossip and hearsay, and mentioned in Ambassador's letters, during both of their lifetimes. Evidence of which has ever surfaced.
On the other hand, if there is any hint that Baldassar CASTIGLIONE may have sired an illegitimate son...?
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Giovanni evidently joined the Army, in the service of another Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. He was probably in the Regiment of another relation, Ferrante GONZAGA, Capitaine-Generale to Charles V, at the Siege of Landrècies, France, in September 1543, or that of Alexander GONZAGA (named below). The siege was a stratagem to flush out the French King, François I, by making him try to break the siege, and so engage him in battle.
There they collaborated with an English Army under the command of Sir Henry WALLOP and Thomas SEYMOUR (who later, as the Lord Admiral, sought to insinuate himself into Elizabeth TUDOR's graces, but had to settle instead with her step-mother, Henry's widow, Katherine PARR).
WALLOP and SEYMOUR both made written observations about their European counterparts; WALLOP, in a letter from Landrècies to the Council, wrote:
"... And out of Italy the Duke of Mantua's bastard, Alex. GONZAGA, offered to serve with 4,000 Italian footmen, and 300 mounted harquebuziers, upon two months warning. Has made a book of these names. 'As for the Italians, it is evil meddling with them, having had good experience this year to be either too wise or too false'."
[Calendar of State Papers, 35 Henry VIII, 1543, folio 385, page 210.]

I would be very surprised if CASTIGLIONE's name was not in WALLOP's book, and perhaps, despite WALLOP's mistrust of Italians, near the top of the list.


In the following year, 1544, Henry VIII personally attended his troops outside Boulogne, then under English siege.

CASTIGLIONE also presented himself at Boulogne after wintering in Calais, centre of the then English Pale in France. Recommended by those about the King, Giovanni was given letters of introduction to the Council in London, where he was attached to the court of Henry's younger daughter Elizabeth, the BOLEYN daughter. The nod of approval, it appears, may have come from the King himself. The date was about October 1544.
Some of this detail is gleaned from an informed, but perhaps somewhat biased family source - Giovanni's eldest son and heir, Sir Francis CASTILLION, wrote a memorial, dated 24 September 1631, which he intended to inscribe on his father's sepulchre in Spene Church, near Newbury, in Berkshire (see full version further below):
"In this monument resteth Baptist CASTILION, Esq're, who was in the Warres at Landerse; then served Henry VIII at Bullen, captayne of foot. Being there recommended by some about the King, was sent over with letters, unto the Private Counsil in England; to preferre him unto the Lady Elizabeth's Grace, daughter unto King Henry the 8th; chiefly to read the Italian, being then 13 years of age..."
[Francis CASTILLION, his Letterbook, Osborne Shelves, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.]

Given that Elizabeth, who had actually only just turned 11, was then only third in line of succession, and that she had a brother who might reasonably be expected, despite early signs of a "weakling" disposition, to produce heirs of his own, the posting cannot have filled Giovanni with any great prospects for advancement. On my presumption that it was a move he probably sought and volunteered for, it suggests he may have been quite keen to escape Europe, and perhaps more particularly the Catholic country of his birth. Some historians have indeed assumed that he was a Protestant.

But events were to transpire in such a way that saw Giovanni become a close court insider, and eventually an established member of the English propertied class; and by the time of his death, in 1598, he had become one of the oldest and longest serving of all of Queen Elizabeth's personal attendants.

Information concerning Giovanni's movements before his marriage in 1558 are hard to come by. It is likely that he will not have strayed too far from the side of his mistress, Elizabeth. One of the cards up his sleeve was his military experience, and if, as seems likely (and mooted by some historians as a fact), he was also charged with Elizabeth's personal safety as one of her inner circle of personal body-guards, then that proximity will have been almost absolute.
And if so, his movements will be hers, and hers are well documented.

These can be summarised within three divisions of time - the remainder of her father Henry's reign, which ended in January 1547; the reign of her younger and Protestant half-brother Edward, which ended in July 1553; and the reign of their elder and Catholic half-sister Mary, which ended in November 1558, some months after Giovanni's marriage.


Before Giovanni's arrival from Boulogne in 1544, Elizabeth had offended her father, yet again, and was banished from his presence; but in the following year, she was placed under the direct charge of her step-mother, Queen Catherine PARR, who turned the King around, allowing Elizabeth to be brought back to Court.
Over the next two years, as was the habit of the Royal Courts, for one reason amongst others, to keep one breath of fresh air ahead of the mouldering latrines, Elizabeth was moved from Palace to Palace.
HIBBERT noted that Elizabeth's own household:
"... moved at irregular intervals from Windsor to Enfield, from Richmond to Greenwich, Hatfield to Eltham, Hunsdon to Rickmansworth, Ashridge to Havering..."
[Christopher HIBBERT. "The Virgin Queen - The Personal History of Elizabeth I." Viking Press, 1990, page 27.]


Edward was fetched from Ashford to be with Elizabeth at Enfield where she was residing, when they were there given the news of their father's death. She continued in the care of her step-mother, in the Queen Dowager's house in Chelsea.
Thereafter, at Hanworth, Elizabeth suffered the previously mentioned advances of the Lord Admiral, Thomas SEYMOUR. She left this household in May 1548, citing a disagreement with her step-mother, but it seems that Catherine, by now six months pregnant to SEYMOUR, to whom she had been secretly married, had caught Elizabeth in SEYMOUR's embrace, and was probably protecting both her and her step-daughter's interests. Elizabeth was sent to Cheshunt under the watchful eye of Sir Anthony DENNY.
And in January 1549, SEYMOUR was arrested, and imprisoned, along with 3 of Elizabeth's personal staff, including Kath ASHLEY and Thomas PARRY. I do not yet know whether CASTIGLIONE was the third (see below), but it is a possibility. ASHLEY acknowledged "familiarities" between SEYMOUR and Elizabeth. SEYMOUR, convicted on a charge of Treason, was executed.

By September 1549, Elizabeth was still at Hatford, when PARRY informed CECIL that Elizabeth:
"... will not yet remove to Ashridge."
And on 17 March 1550, Elizabeth visited her brother in London:
"... with a large retinue. Her entourage on outings often numbered nearly 200. She was most honourably received by the Council in January 1551."
[Christopher HIBBERT, "Virgin Queen," page 35.]


On the death of Edward, the Dukes of Suffolk and Northumberland attempted to forestall the accession of the Catholic Mary by proclaiming as Queen the Lady Jane GREY, their respective daughter and daughter-in-law. Their strategy to bring Elizabeth and Mary together in London, where they might be more easily "managed," had failed, presumably as the result of secret messengers dispatched by CECIL. Elizabeth locked herself in her apartments at Hatfield; Mary decamped to the fortified stronghold of Framlingham Castle, where thousands of her supporters gathered. The conspiracy collapsed, and eight days after Edward's death, Mary was proclaimed Queen.

Elizabeth, at her favourite residence at Hatfield, went up to London after the defeat of Northumberland's coup, and after spending several nights at Somerset House, then Wanstead House, near Aldgate, made the ceremonious entry into London with her sister on 3 August 1553. She also played a part in the Coronation ceremonies on 1 October.
But thereafter, and at her own request - after being, by Mary's decree, upstaged in rank by the Duchess of Suffolk and the Countess of Lennox - Elizabeth removed to Ashridge.

After the failure of yet another attempt on Mary's throne in January-February 1554, known as the WYATT rebellion, the Council was advised that Elizabeth was implicated, with the French King's Ambassador NOAILLES, concerning opposition to the impending marriage of Mary to Philip of Spain - the "Spanish Marriage" widely but privately feared and condemned in England. WYATT himself was probably behind the message sent to Elizabeth at Ashridge, urging her to move to Donnington and fortify it. Sensing the need for caution, she refused to see the messenger and had him sent away.
Before WYATT was defeated, Elizabeth was summonsed to London. Once again, sensing that great caution was needed, and fearing for her safety in London, she pleaded illness; whereupon her great-uncle Lord William HOWARD and two of the Queen's doctors were sent to Ashridge to investigate; she was brought to London in slow stages, taking 5 days to reach Highgate, and entered London streets on 23 February. After being confined in Whitehall Palace for 3 weeks, and denied access to Mary, she was forced to make her indignant entry through Traitor's Gate into the Tower of London on 17 March. CASTIGLIONE may have been one of the two male servants allowed to accompany her there, along with 6 of her ladies, although it seems more likely he remained outside, and was then arrested on suspicion of carrying Elizabeth's letters from within (see below).

On 19 May 1554, Elizabeth was released into the care of Sir Henry BEDINGFIELD, at Woodstock, near Oxford; the route there was by boat to Richmond, then by horse and litter through Windsor, West Wycombe and Rycote. There she complained bitterly about the quality of her lodgings, in the gate-house, but was allowed to re-assemble her household, despite careful screening at which she further complained. And there she remained until April 1555.

In the meantime, Mary had married Philip in July 1554; and she had begun burning Protestants in February 1555 - the number eventually totalled nearly 300, including bishops, clerics, artisans and agricultural labourers, and amongst which number some 60 were women - these burnings revulsed the general population, with the result that Catholicism itself became hated in England.

Elizabeth was then returned to Hampton Court, still under close confinement (and in the gate-house), to meet her new brother-in-law, Philip of Spain.
In October 1555, she and her household were again moved, to Hatfield, under the care of her "gaoler," Sir Thomas POPE, with the rules governing her freedom eased at the request of Philip, as he headed off to his European Kingdoms, perhaps aware his wife was ailing and needing to keep Elizabeth on-side.

POPE's controls were further eased, and Elizabeth was returned to Court in time for Philip's return to London in late March 1557. Mary visited her at Hatfield in April. Later that month, another feeble attempt on Mary's throne failed, at Scarborough Castle, and the perpetrator, named STAFFORD, was executed. Because of the rebellion's origins in France, Mary declared war, only to lose Calais, which had been under English control for over two centuries.

Elizabeth was visiting Brockett Hall, Hertfordshire, 8 November 1558, when Mary, almost at the last hour, finally signified that Elizabeth should succeed her. Mary died on 17 November, and Elizabeth went up to London, from Hatfield, on 23 November.


Very little mention is made in the published histories of Giovanni CASTIGLIONE during this period. The sole exception is the several times he was, as the Italian Master, incarcerated in the Tower of London.
And even here, concerning the actual number of times that Giovanni was sent to the Tower, most modern historians seem to know less than the then Venetian Ambassador in London, Giovanni MICHIEL, who on 2 June 1556, wrote to his Doge:
"The number of persons imprisoned increases daily...Two days later Mistress ASHLEY was taken thither, she being the chief governess of Milady Elizabeth, the arrest, together with that of three other domestics, having taken place in the country, 18 miles hence, even in the aforesaid Milady's house, and where at present she resides, which has caused great general vexation. Amongst the domestics is a certain Battista, an Italian, native of Piedmont, the Signora's master for the Italian tongue, and who has twice before been imprisoned on her account, he being much suspected on the score of religion, as is likewise the governess and all the others. I am told that they have already confessed to having known about the conspiracy; so not having revealed it, were there nothing else against them, they may probably not quit the Tower alive..."
[Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts, Relating to English Affairs, Existing in the Archives and Collections in Venice and in other Libraries in Northern Italy, Edited and Translated by Rawdon Lubbock BROWN, Volume 6: 1555-1556, Part 1, 1877 (C.S.P., Venetian Series), at page 475.]

Well, we do have reason to be thankful that he got the last bit wrong! And we will deal with this, the third incarceration, a little further on.

Giovanni's three separate incarcerations in the Tower become apparent from other published references.
The first, and least publicised, was in 1554, probably as a result of the WYATT Rebellion.
Alison WEIR ["Children of England: The Heirs of King Henry VIII," Jonathan Cape, London, 1996] wrote that CASTIGLIONE had been imprisoned in 1554 on suspicion of having distributed subversive literature, although she may have confused the cause with another charge to follow about a year later.
Giovanni's descendants had a different, and perhaps more appropriate view as to the reason. His son and heir, Sir Frances CASTILLION, wrote in 1631:
"... But in the 1st of Queene Mary, for trusty service then done by him, touching her Grace's safety, then a Prisoner, he was committed close prisoner to the Tower of London. And being twice out of prison a few weeks, the lady Elizabeth writ letters secretly to him, all of her owne hand; to goe unto the French Ambassador, and King Phillip's confessor, at Whitehall; with other her letters, late in the night, about her Grace's troubles, whereof he was strictly examined in the Tower, by Bishop GARDENER, then Lord Chancellor - Suffered on the Racke to confesse his trust therein, being Lame thereof: but he would make no confession, whereby the Lady Elizabeth may come in danger of being wrongfully accused about WIATT's Rebellion, as the chronicles maketh mention..."
[Francis CASTILLION. His Letterbook, Op. Cit.]

The first year of Queen Mary's reign, was, of course, 1553-54, so the timing is right for the WYATT Rebellion. But we are not dealing just with subversive literature here.

Anne SOMERSET ["Elizabeth I," Wedenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1991] noted a similar charge concerning subversive literature attached to his imprisonment in May 1555. In this case, MICHIEL also proved to have been well informed, writing on 13 May 1555:
"Certain knaves in this country endeavour daily to disturb the peace and quiet and present state of the kingdom, so as if possible to induce some novelty and insurrection, there having been privily circulated of late throughout the city a 'Dialogue,' written and printed in English, full of seditious and scandalous things against the religion and government, as also against the council, the Parliament, and chiefly against their Majesties' persons; and although all diligence has been used for the discovery of the authors, no light on the subject has yet been obtained, save that an Italian has been put in the Tower, he being a master for teaching the Italian tongue to Milady Elizabeth, some suspicion having been apparently entertained of him..."
[Calendar of State Papers, Venetian Series, page 70.]

His third incarceration was in mid 1556, when his interrogatories, with answers attached, were submitted to Council in a report dated 31 May 1556:
"Question: What bills or letters have you since Christmas written to any person now beyond the seas and to what effect? 
Answer: To Mistress WILLIAMS, concerning money I sent for her.
"Q: From what persons now beyond the seas have you received any letter or bill since Christmas, of what effect, and by whom you received or sent any? 
A: Of the same to the same effect, I received and sent by a young man I know not.
"Q: How often have you been to London since Christmas, and what places did you most resort to? 
A: Once. Where I resorted I remember not well; but to a milliner's shop where I bought a cap, gloves, a girdle, [to] a hosier and a bookbinder; and in Marke lane to a friend, Mistress WATTSON, to look how she did, and in that lane to Mistress BURNELL, where I lay all night; in Seething lane to my countryman John d'ANTONIO to buy strings for my lady grace's lute. What communications I cannot well tell.
"Q: Whether and how often you have resorted to the French and the Venetian ambassadors, by night or day, since Christmas, upon what occasion, and what talk you had with them? How often have you sent to any of their secretaries or clerks, and what messages or letters have you received from them, by whom, and to what effect? 
A: I never resorted to or spoke to any of them.
"I forgot in (3) I was with Laurence SHEREVE the grocer, to whom I paid money I owed him for one of my fellows; also I was in Bucklersbury to buy a box of turpentine for the disease of my back; also I was with a silk-woman at Ludgate where I bought black lace to edge a cloak, and at St Martin's [le Grande] for two dozen buttons; in Cheapside for sarsanet; in another place for points; at Foster lane end I bought two pairs of wandone gloves. I had no talk but about my business."
[Calendar of State Papers, Mary I, Domestic Series, 1556; reprinted 1998.]

I am entirely unclear from any published source as to what this interrogation was actually about.
This extract does reveal, however, that it was an earlier incarceration that had led to his "disease" of the back, if that disease was, as is believed, induced by his experience on the Rack. And here too, was another ace up his sleeve - a knack with musical instruments - and I daresay he was also skilled in the Italian style of dancing, said to have been high, which was a favourite style with Elizabeth. But that was for a happier time.

It was during this last period of incarceration that Giovanni was confined in the Broad Arrow Tower, where, in an upper room, immediately to the left of the fireplace, he left his mark in the stonework, in a graffito still clearly visible today:
"Inqueste vanita ch'ogn'un desia noponer tua speranza ma sicuro scorgi il camin ch'al sommo ben t'ivia - Giovanni Battista CASTIGLIONE - 1556."

This has been translated as:
"Do not rest your hopes on these vain things that all men desire, but follow the sure road which leads to the highest good."
[Tower Inscriptions, The Royal Armouries Library, Tower of London, page 17.]

There are several other references to Giovanni in the historical record for this period.
On 27 June 1548, the Privy Council (Acts) warranted Sir Wimund CAREWE "...to be delivered to Thomas SMYTH, Clerk of the Council, £5 given to John BAPTISTA, Italian, for rewarde..."
Giovanni was several times incorrectly referred to in State Paper MSs as Giovanni BATTISTA, "Castilian."
And on 29 October 1550, John Baptist CASTIGLIONE was granted his Patent of Denization "...(complete)... by the Lord Chancellor, by virtue of the King's warrant, for nil payable, by mandate of the Lord Chancellor."
Charlotte BOLLAND, in her "An Englishman's Italian Dedication" ["Leadership and Elizabethan Culture," edited by Peter Iver KAUFMAN, and published in 2013 by Palgrave Macmillan, at page 41], in noting this Denization entry, surmised that this having occurred without him having to make any payment "...suggests that he was already in royal service."
However, BOLLAND went on to say that CASTILLION was "...imprisoned yet again in 1556 after the circulation of an anti-catholic tract was traced to Elizabeth's household, and was not released until Elizabeth's accession" - which elongated period of incarceration seems unlikely, given the following event.

Giovanni Battista CASTIGLIONE was married in the parish church of St Christopher-le-Stocks, London, in February 1558, to the widow Margarett ALLEN. See further below.

From this point onwards, and the more so after Queen Mary's death, nine months later, CASTIGLIONE's situation evidently became more calm, probably more secure, and certainly more prosperous.


On Elizabeth's accession, Giovanni was appointed a Groom of her Privy Chamber. His proximity to her court in the previous 14 years made him an obvious contender, and for the top of the pecking order, if there was one, among grooms, which has been said to have numbered six at her coronation, and doubled to twelve by 1580.

William TIGHE gives a clearer picture of these numbers in his contribution to the book "The Elizabethan World," edited by Susan DORAN and Norman SMITH, and published by Routledge, London and New York, 2011. By abstracting details from Cofferer's Accounts (for fees or stipends paid) and Livery Clothing Grants, TIGHE found [Chapter 5, page 81] the following succession of Grooms of the Privy Chamber, originally numbering just four:
1. Thomas ASTLEY - 1558, until his death in August 1595.
2. Henry SECKFORD - 1558, until the end of the reign. Also Keeper of the Privy Purse from 1569.
3. John Baptist CASTILLION - 1558, until his death in February 1598.
4. Thomas COMMAUNDER - 1558, until his death in January 1559.
5. John TAMWORTH - 1559 (replacing COMMAUNDER), until his death in April 1569.
6. Thomas LITCHFIELD, a lutenist - March 1559, until his death in 1586.
7. Edward CAREY - 1562, until the end of the reign.
8. Henry MIDDLEMORE - 1569 (replacing TAMWORTH) with livery only (until 1593).
9. Thomas KNYVETT - 1570, until the end of the reign.
10. Thomas GORGES - 1571, until the end of the reign.
11. William KILLIGREW - 1574 (livery only) and 1578 (fees), until the end of the reign.
12. Ferdinando RICHARDSON alias HEYBORNE - 1587 (replacing Thomas LITCHFIELD as "musician in residence"), until the end of the reign.
13. Edward DARCY - 1581 (livery only) and 1595 (fees - probably in the room of his father-in-law Thomas ASTLEY), until the end of the reign.
14. Edward DENNY - 1582 (livery only), until his death in 1600.
15. Michael STANHOPE - 1586 (livery only) and 1598 (fees).

There are two other lists which show some variations in the order of the early appointments, both of which appear in "Titled Elizabethans; A Directory of Elizabethan Court, State and Church Officers, 1558-1603," by Arthur F. KINNEY (1973 edition) and Jane A. LAWSON (editor, 2014 reprint), published by Palgrave MacMillan. The first is is a list of the five Grooms who were in attendance at Elizabeth's coronation on 15 January 1559:
1. Thomas ASTLEY.
2. John Baptist CASTILION.
3. Thomas LICHFIELD.
4. Henry SECKFORD.
The second is their general listing of the Grooms of the Privy Chamber, the first six of which are as follows (after which their list matches TIGHE's list in DORAN and SMITH):
1. George BRIDGEMAN, ca 1553 - 1580. [He was elsewhere listed as Keeper of Westminster Palace, 1550's to 1580, so perhaps included here in error?]
2. Thomas ASTLEY, 1558 - 1596.
3. John Baptist CASTILION, 1558 - 1597.
4. Thomas COMMANDER, 1558-1559.
5. Henry SECKFORD, 1558 - 1610.
6. Thomas LICHFIELD, 1559 - 1586.
I do not know whether these differences carry any significance.

But it does appear likely that Thomas ASTLEY would have held superiority over CASTILLION. Despite not having served in Elizabeth's court before (he absented himself in exile in Europe during Mary's Reign), ASTLEY was by now married to Katherine CHAMPERNOWNE, an old and faithful servant of Elizabeth, having been her former Governess (1536) and partly responsible for her early education - and his brother John ASTLEY was appointed Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and Master of the Jewel House in 1558. And he was English!

At least one descendant had pondered on Giovanni's appointment as perhaps being a move by Elizabeth to keep him on the inside, lest his knowledge of her affairs might prove a problem if he was on the outer. But I suspect her trust in him went well beyond that, and not without good reason.

As to his exact whereabouts, the official records remain mostly silent. That he had two children baptised at the Parish Church of St-Martin-in-the-Fields in May 1561 and January 1563 suggests their residence was towards that end of the Palace complex at Whitehall. By February 1765, they appear to have moved, as their next child, and subsequent children, were all baptised at St Margaret's, Westminster.

In 1583, we find John Baptist CASTILLION, Esq, of Westminster, in the registration of his son Valentine's admission to the Middle Temple. And in November 1587, there is reference, in the Calendar of Patent Rolls, to "... the now dwelling house of the said John BAPTISTE, being in Kinge's street in the City of Westminster."

King's Street passed through the gates of Whitehall Palace; these gates, built in 1532, and demolished in 1723, stood south of the Holbein Gate. 

And Giovanni is occasionally referred to in State Papers by this alias, at least once being recorded to as John BAPTIST, "Castilian."

On 28 January 1559, Giovanni was granted for life, for his services, the offices of Bailiff, Woodward and Steward of the Manor of Benham Valence, County Berkshire, and keeper of the Park, and keeper of the mansion, with wages of 40 shillings a year for the offices and 2 pence a day each for the keeperships.

Six years later, on 13 January 1565, Giovanni was granted the Manor itself:
"... the Manor of Benham Valence, late parcel of the lands granted to the Queen for her maintenance before her accession and formerly of William ESSEX, Knt, lands, etc... and all other appurtenances of the said Manor in Spene, Benham Valence and Westbroke, County Berkshire. To hold as the Manor of Estgrenewiche in socage and by a yearly rent of £14 3s and 2d. For CASTIGLIONE's service. By Q." [Calendar of Patent Rolls, Elizabeth.]

[St Mary's Church, Spene, near Newbury Berkshire.]

Giovanni appears to have settled upon this establishment as his principal residence outside of London, and was to be buried near there 33 years later.

[Notice on the inside of St Mary's Church, Spene.]

On 15 September 1569, Giovanni was granted the:
"Lease, for 21 years, of the Manor of Snave and all the lands, courts, advowsons and other appurtenances thereof, of Snave, Langbete, Warehome, Ivechurch and elsewhere, in County Kent, late of Thomas WYATT, Knt, attainted, with reservations, from the termination of a grant thereof by Patent 27 February ii and iii Phillip and Mary to Anne, Duchess of Somerset; yearly rent £27 15s. and 6d. For his services. By P.S."
[Calendar of Patent Rolls, Elizabeth.]

In April 1572, he was additionally granted the Lease of the Manor of Porlocke, County Somerset (late the Duke of Suffolk's, attainted for treason), and lands in Shete in Petersfield, County Southampton, for 31 years, at a yearly rental of 14 shillings, again for his service.

HIBBERT noted that Elizabeth's household staff settled down to:
"... no more than three gentlemen of the Privy Chamber, less than ten grooms, seven married ladies of high rank, four of lesser rank known as the Queen's Women, and six maids in waiting, usually girls."

He also observed that Elizabeth kept several of the estates forfeited by traitors, and:
"... bestowing others on courtiers whom she found more accommodating and agreeable." [Christopher HIBBERT, "Virgin Queen," pages 104 and 118.]


In March 1565, CASTIGLIONE was involved in securing armaments for an English Army under Robert DUDLEY, Earl of Leicester. Thomaso BARONCELLI wrote to DUDLEY from Antwerp concerning two suits of armour for a man and one for a horse, fashioned by Helisio LIBERTES (an accomplished Florentine engraver) which he sends with LIBERTES, and a dagger of "... exquisite workmanship worthy of the Queen's inspection. [BARONCELLI] has been informed by Gio. Baptista CASTIGLIONE of her wishes in these matters... [LIBERTES has brought over] some drawings as was intimated by the writer, from the Earl through Giobattista CASTIGLIONE," and the Earl's arquebus.

By January 1566, some 600 acres of riverside land in the Parishes of Erith and Plumstead, County Kent, had been reclaimed from inundation by the River Thames. The work, under license of Queen Elizabeth dated 10 March 1562, guaranteed rights to half the reclaimed lands to Jacopo ACONCIO, an Italian jurist, philosopher and engineer, who arrived in England in 1559, and began reclamation work in June 1562. Some of the reclaimed lands were lost, whence ACONCIO entered into a partnership with G.B. CASTIGLIONE and some English tradesmen to make further efforts. Apparently Giovanni and some London businessmen guaranteed losses up to £5,000, which money was not recouped for another 8 years.
Charlotte BOLLAND ["Leadership and Elizabethan Culture" - see above] noted that:
"CASTIGLIONE had become friends with the engineer through his wife's family, the COMPAGNI of Florence, who had supported ACONCIO when he arrived in England in the winter of 1559."

ACONCIO and CASTIGLIONE were said to have been in accord regarding questions of religion - in other words, refugees "conscientae causa" - or Protestants. ACONCIO died about 1567, leaving his manuscripts in Giovanni's care - and he published one of them, "Una essortazione al timor di Dio," in 1580, with a dedication to Queen Elizabeth.
Charlotte BOLLAND further observed that this was the first Italian book to be published in England; she also noted that CASTIGLIONE "...acted as a liaison between other Italians and the highest levels of the court" and noted that "...the historian and poet Pietro BIZZARRI described CASTIGLIONE as 'so generous and of such noble and praiseworthy manners, that for these and for his valour he deserves to be held in such high esteem by so great a queen' in his 1568 dedication to Elizabeth in his 'Historia di Pietri Bizari'..." 

On 26 May 1568, Giovanni wrote from Westminster to Lord COBHAM, concerning a proposed match between Queen Elizabeth and Charles, Archduke of the Holy Roman Empire:
"...on Wednesday evening after prayers, Mr NORTH had a long conversation with Her Majesty, who called him into the private chamber issuing out of the oratory. Her Majesty, after having seen the likeness of the Archduke, gave orders to have it put into a frame, which was done, but as yet she does not wish it to be seen, 'fearing no doubt lest it's beauty should dazzle the minds and sight of others'."
 [Salisbury MSs, Part I, page 356, No 1173.]

This was undoubtedly connected with several of CECIL's letters to COBHAM (then Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports), of similar date, one mentioning a letter to COBHAM which CECIL had opened after being "... moved thereto by Mr BAPTIST"; the other referring to the possibility of Mr BAPTISTA being "... with you shortly, to pass secretly over" perhaps on his way to Europe in connection with this proposed marriage.

As with all the other prospective suits for Elizabeth's hand, this also came to nothing.


In November 1568, Giovanni is noted in connection with the Advowson of the Rectory of Godalming, County Surrey, with an annuity arising from it of either £20 or £40 a year, and of which:
"... he had a demise for a term of years from the Dean of Salisbury." 
[COCKAYNE. "Pedigree of CASTILLION." The Genealogist, New Series, Volume XVII, London, 1901, page 202.]

However, this arrangement may have gone back some years earlier - Percy WOODS, in his article "The Parsonage, or Rectory Manor of Godalming, etc," published in 1909 in Volume XXII of the Surrey Archaeological Collection, wrote as follows:
"...the Parsonage must have come into the possession of one John Baptist CASTILLION, who was the Lord of the Rectory Manor at least as early as 1576, and who had obtained a lease from Dean VANNES, dated 26 June 1561, for 61 years commencing at the Lady day next after the determination of the previous leases."
The Dean who granted CASTILLION the lease was Peter VANNES, originally from Lucca in Toscana, and a former Latin Secretary to Henry VIII, and who was well enough known to CASTILLION's very recently deceased father-in-law, Bartholomew COMPAGNI, who named VANNES in his 1561 will.

But there is some lack of clarity about the actual arrangements of this lease - firstly the status of the "previous leases" made it difficult to know when the term of VANNES's lease actually commenced - and it appears that there may have been two separate "ecclesiastical" dwellings in Godalming, the Rectory house and the Parsonage house, the latter probably the older of the two, and was "...a small building used sometimes as a dwelling house and sometimes to lay corn in."
It appears this latter one was the subject of CASTILLION's lease, and that he probably demolished it, and built a new one on the same site, north of the Godalming churchyard, on the southern bank of the River Wye, notwithstanding the possibility that his lease term may not then have actually commenced.
In 1578, a dispute arose after the appointment of a new Rector, Francis TAYLOR (instituted on 13 September 1578), and the availability of the Rectory house as a residence for him, it still being occupied by Richard SMITH, the former vicar GRAFTON's man (Robert GRAFTON had just been deprived of the vicarage).
TAYLOR, a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A. 1567, M.A. 1570), had been Master of Guildford Grammar School from 1570 until his appointment at Godalming; he died in 1619.
The erstwhile "patron" of the living, Sir William MORE, of Loseley, Surrey, was also involved in the dispute.

(John) Baptiste CASTILLION, at Westminster, wrote to MORE on 11 September 1578, the letter being abstracted by the Historical Manuscripts Commission [Appendix to the 7th Report, 1879,  pages 631-2] as follows:
"He sends his signed presentation of Mr TAYLOR to the living of Godalming at MORE's request and trusts that '...by his Godly preaching he shall do the town much good.' The presentation is not to be '...prejudicial to the right I have to the house where now the vicar doth dwell' and to the tithes, which right CASTILLION means to prove at law unless the vicar demonstrates his title."

CASTILLION, at the Court, wrote again to MORE on 22 October 1578 [HMC, App, page 632b]:
"The Dean [of Salisbury] '...upon payment of his rent for Godalming' requested of CASTILLION that he should have the presentation of the vicarage. CASTILLION asked for more time to consider and now '...cannot but marvel at this kind of dealing.' CASTILLION, having presented Mr TAYLOR to the vicarage of Godalming at MORE's request, hopes that the matter can be settled so that TAYLOR is not disturbed, but his own title under his lease is acknowledged. He encloses a letter for the Dean and hopes the latter will proceed no further, but wait for CASTILLION's reply."
CASTILLION, again at Court, wrote further to MORE, on 24 October 1578:
"... touching his claim to the rectory house at Godalming, to the vicarage of which parish he has appointed Mr TAYLOR. '...Now for that I understand Mr TAYLOR is not resident,' says Mr CASTILLION, '...at Godalming for lack of a house, I will be contented to lend him so much of that I have of Mr SMYTH as shall serve his turn for the time... As my mind is not to offer Mr TAYLOR or to any man else any wrong, so I hope that my Lord [Bishop] WINCHESTER nor the Deane of Sarum, nor the town of Godalming will offer me none also, but if they do, I must defend myself as well as I can'."
What appears to be a second abstraction of this letter, with slightly different emphases, but dated 24 November 1578, is held at the Surrey History Centre [TNA Ref - 6729/7/55/1], as follows:
"He has received MORE's letter, but feels he cannot yet answer it as his 'learned counsel' has left London. Understanding that Mr TAYLOR is not resident at Godalming because he lacks a house, CASTILLION will lend him part of the house he has '...of Mr SMYTH.' If TAYLOR can prove his right to the [vicarage] at law, CASTILLION will gladly give it up. He wishes to do TAYLOR no wrong, but must defend himself against the Bishop of Winchester, Dean of Salisbury and town of Godalming if attacked."

CASTILLION wrote, again from the Court, again to MORE, on 26 November 1578 [6729/7/55/2]:
"He thanks MORE for his offer to show him a rental, but does not believe that '...a rental can be a sufficient proof that the house doth appertain to your vicar.' However he will concede if the vicar can prove his title at law. He offers the vicar a part of Mr SMYTH's house so he can reside in Godalming and asks MORE to assure TAYLOR [the vicar] that CASTILLION will answer all the legal costs in the dispute with the Dean [of Salisbury] so TAYLOR can '...follow earnestly his vocation.' He chides the townspeople of Godalming for meddling in the case. He hears that Richard SMYTH is occupying the house 'for Mr GRAFTON' [the former vicar] and asks MORE to get him removed."

The dispute did not go away in a hurry - Sir William MORE, at Loseley, wrote to Charles, Lord HOWARD of Effingham, Lord Chamberlain and Privy Councillor [6729/7/73], on 2 March 1584:
"He reports that he has interviewed the present and past Churchwardens and others of Godalming who had complained to the justices of the '...lewd behaviour of Simon BOYES, Mr Baptiste's man' [Baptiste CASTILLION]. They have confirmed the accusations. Also present was the vicar Mr TAYLOR '...a very grave man, a good preacher, against whom the said Simon had very naughtily and disorderly used himself.' BOYES had confessed, '...acknowledged the words spoken by his master, but said they slipped out of his mouth unawares.' and admitted that he had falsely accused Robert BRIDGER and CHENNELL of being '...the procurer and deviser of the said information against him.' The accusers are happy to let the matter drop if BOYES does not offend again before the next Quarter Sessions..."

CASTILLION evidently retained the Advowson, which he is said to have granted to his third son Peter on the occasion of his marriage, in about 1595, to Thomasine PEYTON, probably just a year or two before his death.
It was eventually the inheritance of Giovanni's Irish-born grandson, Peyton CASTILLION (see his will abstract, below), but it appears that Thomasin exercised some rights as the widow, and her longevity may have denied Peyton access to the benefits.

However, there appears to have been some legal action ("pleadings") taken in the Court of Chancery by Sir Robert PIGOTT and his second wife Thomasin PIGOTT alias CASTILLION alias PEYTON (the plaintiffs), against her former brothers-in-law Sir Francis and Valentine CASTILLION (the defendants), pertaining to the "Rectory and Tithes of Godalming, Surrey," with a date range of 1603-25 [TNA Ref - C 2/Jas1/P5/17].
A copy of this archived document (held in the Surrey History centre) has been requested from The National Archives, and is eagerly awaited.
And it may help to explain how Henry CASTILLION, yet another of Giovanni's sons, made mention, in his will (proved P.C.C., 19 November 1646), of "...my annuity of £20 by the year to be paid out of the Parsonage of Godalming" - perhaps the feeoffment by Giovanni was to be shared by Peter with one or more of his brothers.


On 15 May 1583, John Baptist CASTILLION Esq, and his wife Margaret, "...widow of Lazarus ALLEN," were involved in a legal disputation against Sir Christopher ALLEN and Roger GRAVES, "... concerning an annuity of £20 out of the estates in Lincs, Notts, Yorks, Kent and Herefordshire, of Sir John ALLEN, late Alderman of London."
[Index to the Supreme Court of Judicature, Chancery Division, Six Clerks Office and Successors Decree Rolls, First Division, xxv Elizabeth.]
Sir Christopher was the elder brother of Lazarus ALLEN; both were illegitimate sons of Sir John ALLEN, Mercer and Alderman of London, twice Lord Mayor of London, and a member of the Privy Council.

In January 1593, Giovanni was involved in matters relating to the estate of John Baptist PIATINARI, a native of Pinaro in Piemonte, Physician, who died suddenly in London about 1590, leaving goods to the value of £1,500-1,600. Another Italian, and a stranger to the deceased, had seized the goods, but later, in remorse, had issued a decree calling on PIATINARIs' relations and such to make their claims upon the property. CASTIGLIONE, who "...has been a true friend to his compatriots in England, then sent to Calais to see if Anthoine JACOMEL, President of Calais, were still alive, who was cousin german to the deceased; who at once sent CASTILLION a proxy to act for him on behalf of his children the heirs."

John Baptist CASTILIAN, "Esq, a Gentleman of the Queen's Privy Chamber," was admitted to the Middle Temple, 12 August 1595. But it appears unlikely that he was ever a Gentleman of that Chamber.

Giovanni's widow Margaret continued to live in or near Benham Valence, Berkshire, after his death; her will was dated Friday 22 June 1621, of Speen, Widow, and proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 2 November 1622 (103 Saville), by her grandson Peyton CASTILLION, her sole executor, to whom "... all my stock and goods without the house," the rest "... my household stuffe" going to her son Sir Frances, with whom she appears to have had an estrangement, the second witness being her son Douglas CASTILLION.


Giovanni Battista CASTIGLIONE was married in the Parish Church of St Christopher-le-Stocks, London, by Andrew ARNEM, Rector, on 11 February 1558, to Margarett ALLEN. She was the widow of Lazarus ALLEN (natural son of Sir John ALLEN, P.C., Lord Mayor of London, and after his death, ward of Sir William PAGET, Principal Secretary to Henry VIII), and the natural daughter of Florentine Merchant Stranger in London, Bartolomeo COMPAGNI (see another posting in this blog).

A list of women who held positions in Queen Elizabeth's Court has been compiled by Jane A. LAWSON in her 2014 updated edition of Arthur F. KINNEY's 1973 book "Titled Elizabethans; A Directory of Elizabethan Court, State and Church Officers, 1558-1603," and published by Palgrave McMillan.
In her listing of Gentlewomen of the Bedchamber, we find, as the thirteenth entry:
"1558 - ca 1588. Margaret COMPAGNI, Mrs BAPTIST, m. John Baptist CASTILION."
I do not yet know whether this is the form in which her entry appears in either the Cofferer's Accounts or the Livery Clothing Grants (or other unidentified source), or whether Jane LAWSON has inserted additional details from other sources, as her prefatory notes suggest. In November 1558, Margaret was already Mrs CASTILION, but if she appears in the original lists under her maiden surname of COMPAGNI, it remains a possibility that she had commenced in Elizabeth's service before Elizabeth became Queen, and before Margaret had married Lazarus ALLEN. This possibility provides another way in which she met her second husband; and it also opens up speculation about the identity of her mother - it would suggest an outside chance that she was of gentle birth, rather than being one of Bartolomeo COMPAGNI's domestic servants.
However, as Margaret is not named in the list of Women of the Bedchamber who were in attendance at Elizabeth's coronation in January 1559, it is evident that she had probably not held any previous position in Elizabeth's household. Unless she was there as the wife of one of the Grooms?

Further down, on page 38, we find another list of the Mother of the Maids, with the following introduction:
"This post supervised the Maids of Honour. The Mother of the maids was usually a widow or a mature married woman..."
Sixth in the list was an entry identical to the above, but with different dates:
"1584 -1588. Margaret COMPAGNI, Mrs BAPTIST, m. John Baptist CASTILION."

Giovanni and Margaret had issue:

1. Fraunciscus CASTELLION, baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, on 27 May 1561; served in the retinue of Robert DUDLEY, Queen Elizabeth's much favoured Earl of Leicester; a member of DUDLEY's household in the Netherlands; led DUDLEY's horse at his funeral:

Francis was heir to his father's estate of Benham Valence, Berkshire; M.A., Magdalen College, Oxon, 1581; M.P. for Great Bedwin; created Knight at Charterhouse, 11 May 1603; admitted to the Middle Temple, 14 August 1606; he married firstly, at Norton, Hampshire, 16 September 1595, Elizabeth ST JOHN (daughter of William ST JOHN of Farley, Southampton, by Barbara GORE); she died in childbirth, 28 December 1603, aged 27.

[Inscription on the wall inside St Mary's Church, Spene.]
Francis married secondly, at St Matthew Friday Street, London, on 17 December 1606, Alice CALTON, widow of John JAMES of London, and of William MARSHAM of Essex; she probably died in 1612.
Francis and Elizabeth had issue:
     a. Barbara CASTILLION, born at Apeldorcombe, Isle of Wight, on 14 September 1597; married at Spene Church, on 4 May 1625, Anthony SPIER of Holcombe Grange, Oxfordshire; he died in 1644; issue three daughters:
          i. Margaret SPIER, the wife of William SELLON.
          ii. Barbara SPIER.
          iii. Mary SPIER, baptised at Spene Church, 20 June 1636.
     b. Elizabeth CASTILLION, baptised at Spene Church, 28 August 1602; married at Spene Church, 10 September 1635, Nicholas LAMY, a French Physician, of Basingstoke; issue 2 daughters:

          i. Elizabeth LAMY, baptised at Buxted, Sussex, 8 August 1641.
          ii. Joan LAMY, baptised at Buxted, Sussex, 14 January 1643.
     c. Thomas CASTILLION, baptised at Spene Church, 29 December 1603, the day after his mother's death; admitted Middle Temple, 1623; of Benham Valence; will dated February 1654, proved P.C.C., April 1656; married 10 July 1632, Elizabeth NELSON (daughter of Thomas NELSON of Chaddlesworth, Berkshire, by Mary DUCKETT); she was still living in July 1664; issue:

          i. Francis CASTILLION, baptised at Spene, 28 August 1633; Middle Temple, 3 February 1656; Rector of Welton-le-Wold, Lincolnshire, 6 June 1663; Vicar of Louth, Lincolnshire, 1666; buried at Louth, 14 March 1667-68; married at St Mary's, Speen, 17 November 1656, Margaret BARKER (daughter of Hugh BARKER, Doctor of Medicine, of Newbury, Berkshire, by Mary JONES); she died at Louth, Lincs, March 1712, aged 75; with issue - sons Thomas CASTILLION (1659-1687) and Francis CASTILLION (1665-1691), and a daughter Elizabeth CASTILLION (born at Welton-le-Wold, 1666; apprenticed in 1681 to Joseph STURT, Milliner; she married Charles HOLLOWAY, Citizen and Goldsmith of London; he died in 1700, with issue an only daughter Elizabeth HOLLOWAY surviving).
Margaret married secondly, about July 1671, Charles CRACROFT (he died at Louth, in September 1701, aged 70); with further issue.
          ii. Thomas CASTILLION, baptised at Chaddlesworth, on 24 or 26 August 1635, living 1664.
          iii. Humphrey CASTILLION, baptised at Chaddlesworth, on 1 November 1637; mentioned his brother John's will, July 1664; Citizen and Apothecary of London, will dated September 1664 and proved May 1669.
          iv. Peter CASTILLION, baptised at Chaddlesworth, on 17 February 1638-39; Vicar of Dinton, Wiltshire; named in his brother John's will, July 1664; he married Alice, with issue; she may have been the Mrs Alice CASTILLION buried at the Parish Church of St Andrew, Cobham, Surrey, on 29 January 1708-09, "...the mother of John CLARK's wife, at the George Inn" and at whose funeral was delivered a sermon.
          v. John CASTILLION, baptised at Chaddlesworth, 14 March 1640-41; Merchant of London, when he made his will, dated 11 July 1664, mentioning his mother Elizabeth, and brothers Humphrey, Peter, Thomas, Valentine and Richard.
          vi. Valentine CASTILLION, baptised at Chaddlesworth, 19 July 1646; mentioned in his brother John's will, July 1664; Citizen and Grocer of London; living 1679.
          vii. Mary CASTILLION, baptised at Chaddlesworth, 27 December 1648; married in London, 26 February 1673, Miles Arnold BLACK, with issue.
          viii. Richard CASTILLION, baptised at Chaddlesworth, 28 February 1651; mentioned in his brother John's will, July 1664; Citizen and Distiller of London, will dated June 1679, proved July 1679.

2. Katherina CASTELION, baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, 2 January 1563; buried at St Margaret's Westminster, 10 April 1581.

3. Valentini CASTILION, baptised at St Margaret's, Westminster, 17 February 1565; admitted to Magdalen College, Oxon, November 1581; admitted to the Middle Temple, 13 October 1583, "...specially" and without fine, and bound with Messrs SANDES and C---; appointed on 14 February 1583-84 to the chamber of EVELEGH and SKINNER, in expectancy of (superceding) the latter, fine of 53s. 4d.; on 7 May 1584, Mr George CAREW replaced EVELEGH due to his forfeiture for "... discontinuance and being out of commons"; CASTILLION was himself superceded in the chamber by Mr William DAVYS, 29 November 1594.
Valentine went to Godalming, Surrey; he and his wife Mary levied, in 1627, "...a fine of the Godalming Rectory and a large acreage of land, etc, in Godalming, Guildford and Witley, and the tithes of corn, etc, in the parish of Godalming, to Lawrence HYDE, Esq, and others, presumably as trustees, for 60 years from the previous Lady Day" [Surrey Archaeological Collection, Volume XXII, 1909, "The Parsonage or Rectory Manor of Godalming," by Percy WOODS, page 121]; his will dated 16 September 1640; buried at the Parish church of Sts Peter and Paul, Godalming, 3 July 1641; will proved Archdeaconry Court of Surrey, 3 November 1641.
Valentine married firstly, Miss CALTON; he married secondly, at St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London, on 30 November 1607, Eleanor PYATT; and he married thirdly, Mary, who survived as his widow; probably her will, dated 24 July 1649, proved P.C.C., 13 February 1649-50.

4. Elyzabethe CASTILION, baptised at St Margaret's, 5 March 1566; died an infant.

5. Elizabethe CASTILION, baptised at St Margaret's, 7 March 1567; married at St Margaret's, Westminster, on 30 November 1587, Peter LEIGH of High Leigh, West Hall, Cheshire (son of Richard LEIGH by his first wife Clemence HOLCROFT); with issue three sons and twelve daughters, including:
     a. Richard LEIGH, died young.
     b. Peter LEIGH, born on 5 December 1594, second son; died in 1657; married on 8 September 1614, Mary TIPPING, with issue:
          i. Peter LEIGH, b 30 April 1615, died unmarried.
          ii. Richard LEIGH, died on 12 August 1670, s.p.
          iii. Thomas LEIGH, of West Hall, High Leigh, buried on 22 June 1767; married in 1660, Mary AUSTIN.
          iv. Samuel LEIGH.
          v. Edmund LEIGH.
          vi. William LEIGH.
          vii. James LEIGH.
          viii; Elizabeth LEIGH.
     c. Anne (II) LEIGH, born about 1606; married Thomas COOPER of Ewborne.
     d. Mary LEIGH.
     d. Elizabeth (II) LEIGH, born about 1612; married Rev Nathaniel LANCASTER, Rector of Tarperley, Cheshire; he died on 9 January 1661; issue.
     e. Frances LEIGH, born about 1614; married William EDWARDS of Chester.
     f . Christian LEIGH; married Thomas BATE, M.D.

6. Anne CASTILION, baptised at St Margaret's, 11 May 1568; married Robert HYDE (died in 1642 - uncle of the 1st Earl of Clarendon, father-in-law of King James II and VII), of West Hatch, Tisbury, Wiltshire, with issue six sons and four daughters, including:
     a. Robert HYDE, eldest son.
     b. Lawrence HYDE, second son.
     c. Henry HYDE, third son.
     d. Hamlet HYDE, fourth son.
     e. Valentine HYDE.
     f. Margaret HYDE.
     g. Ann HYDE.
     h Elizabeth HYDE, baptised at Salisbury Cathedral, 8 June 1595.

7. Peter CASTYLYON, baptised at St Margaret's on 25 November 1569; a Captain in Queen Elizabeth's Army in Ireland, and possibly also in the service of Sir William FITZWILLIAM, Lord Deputy of Ireland; probably died at Moyry Pass, Ireland's "Gap of the North," 5 October 1600; married about 1595, Thomasine PEYTON, daughter of Christopher PEYTON (died in Dublin, 1612), Auditor in Ireland, by his first wife Anne PALMER; issue:
     a. Peyton CASTILLION, born about mid-late 1590s; went on an embassy to Venice, 1618, headed by his relation, Sir Henry PEYTON, and carried with him a letter of introduction from his uncle Sir Francis CASTILLION, dated at Whitehall, 23 April 1618, addressed to their relation Comte Baldassar CASTIGLIONE of Mantua, and Peyton probably delivered it to him at Casatico; he married firstly at Bayford, Hertfordshire, 2 September 1639, Elizabeth GARLINGTON; she was buried at St Martin's, Ludgate, City of London, 13 October 1649; he married secondly, at Southampton, 12 February 1651, Alice SOYN (this spelling on www.familysearch.org entry for wife of Penton); his will, dated 2 February 1653, mentioned his "...loving wife" Alice, to whom he bequeathed "...all my right and interest in one Annuity or yearly rent of 40 pounds ...arising out of the rectory or parsonage of Godalming in the County of Surrey, whereof I am now possessed and doe enjoy by virtue of a feeoffment given and granted by my grandfather John Baptista CASTILLION unto my father Peter CASTILLION his sonne upon his marriage with Thomazin...[possible line omitted from the will copy on the Probate grant] PEYTON Auditor generall for Ireland, as well for their present subsistence, and for her jointure, and to the issue of their two bodies and their wives and children in the same manner, by the power of which feoffment my mother [did] enjoy the estate between 50 and 60 years after my ffather's death..."
      b. Catherine CASTILLION, the wife of Sir William GILBERT of Kilminchey, Queen's County, Ireland.

[The old Abbey burial ground on Faughart Hill, on the side of which MOUNTJOY's army camped in September-October 1600; almost certainly where Captain Peter CASTILLION would have been buried if he died there on 5 October.]
Peter's widow Thomasin married secondly, about 1603, Sir Robert PIGOTT of Dysart, Queen's County (widower of Anne ST LEGER, who died in April 1599 - see his separate blog), by which second marriage they both added further issue to their families. On the evidence of her son Peyton CASTILLION's will, she survived her first husband by 50 to 60 years, indicating that she died sometime during the 1650s.
Catherine GILBERT's daughter Anne GILBERT became the wife of Sir Robert's grandson and heir apparent, Robert PIGOTT (killed at Fort Maryborough, September 1646, the eldest son of Sir Robert's heir John PIGOTT of Dysart, by Martha COLCLOUGH - see his separate blog), and by him ancestor of the continuing line of PIGOTTs of Dysart, including Captain John PIGOTT of Antigua, Dublin and Stradbally (see his separate blog).

8. Walter Baptyste CASTILYON, baptised at St Margaret's on 24 December 1570; slain in Ireland, probably before 1597, in the service of Sir Richard BINGHAM.

9. Douglasse CASTILION, baptised at St Margaret's on 3 June 1573; M.A. Oxon, 1599; Fellow of Magdalen College; Rector of Stratford Tony, Wiltshire, 1619; died on 18 January 1659; married at Salisbury Cathedral, on 17 April 1611, Margaret BOWER, with issue six sons and four daughters, including:
     a. Richard CASTILLION, baptised at Stratford Toney, 27 December 1613; at Godalming, Surrey, 1697; married at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, 16 November 1635, Katherine SPEIR; issue:
          i. Douglas CASTILLION, baptised London, 1 September 1636; probably buried at Sts Peter and Paul, Godalming, 19 May 1707; married with issue.
          ii. Katherine CASTILLION, baptised at Newington, Surrey, 18 June 1637; possibly the wife of Nicholas WILKINS.
          iii. Richard CASTILLION, baptised at Godalming, 30 June 1642.
          iv. Margaret CASTILLION, baptised at Godalming, 17 November 1647.
          v. Rodolph CASTILLION, baptised at Godalming, 29 November 1648; married Frances, with issue.
          vi. Elizabeth CASTILLION, baptised at Godalming, 29 June 1651; probably married at Godalming, 14 February 1675, John ELINGE.
          vii. John CASTILLION, baptised at Godalming, 27 April 1657.
     b. John CASTILLION, born about 1614; Christ Church College, Oxon; D.D., 1660; Dean of Rochester, 15 November 1676; died at Canterbury, 21 October 1688, and buried in Canterbury Cathedral (lower South Cross, with M.I.); married at St Mary Savoy, London, 27 November 1666, Margaret DIGGES; she died at Canterbury, 21 July 1716, and buried with her husband, aged 80; issue:
          i. Mary CASTILLION, baptised at Canterbury Cathedral, 16 September 1669.
          ii. Thomas CASTILLION, baptised at Canterbury Cathedral, 2 November 1671.
     c. Anne CASTILLION; married at Salisbury St Thomas, 6 May 1652, Edward DRAKE of Colyton, Devonshire; issue:
          i. Anne DRAKE, born on 20 March 1654, and baptised at Bletchingly, Surrey, 12 March 1655.

10. Barbara CASTILION, baptised at St Margaret's on 16 September 1574; died on 24 August 1641, and was buried in Salisbury Cathedral; she was married at Wiltshire, on 7 June 1590, to Laurence HYDE of Heale House, near Salisbury, Councillor, Middle Temple (and a brother of Robert HYDE, his wife's brother-in-law); he died at Salisbury on 26 January 1641[?-42]; they had issue seventeen children, including:
     a. Laurence HYDE, born at Salisbury on 10 November 1593; Magdalen College, Oxon, B.A. 1612; M.P. for Hindon, 1624, 1628; inherited Heale from his father, 1642; died on 3 December 1643; married firstly, on 1 December 1619, Amphillis TICHBORNE; she died on 24 February 1632; issue:
          i. Robert HYDE; died before reaching his majority, whereupon Heale went to his uncle Robert HYDE.
          ii. Amphillis HYDE; married Thomas CHAFIN, M.P.
          iii. Helen HYDE; married Sir John LOWE, M.P.
Laurence married secondly, at Abbots Ann, Hampshire, on 24 April 1640, Katherine HYDE, daughter of Thomas HYDE; she died in 1661.
     b. Robert HYDE, born at Salisbury, 24 February 1595; called to the Bar, Middle Temple, February 1617; Recorder of Salisbury, 1638; Sarjeant-at-Law, May 1640; M.P. for Salisbury in the long Parliament; inherited Heale from his nephew; joined King Charles at Oxford, and was deprived of his seat in Parliament, and of his recordership; restored by Charles II; Chief Justice of the King's Bench, October 1663; died on 2 August 1665; married Mary BABER, daughter of Francis BABER of Chew Magna; s.p.
     c. William HYDE, born at Salisbury on 17 January 1596; died on 24 March 1630.
     d. Alexander HYDE, born at Salisbury on 30 April 1598; New College, Oxon; D.C.L., 1632; Rector of Wylye, Wiltshire, 1634; Sub-dean of Salisbury, 1637; a staunch Loyalist, and was deprived of his livings by Parliament under the Commonwealth; restored by Charles II; Dean of Winchester, 1660; Bishop of Salisbury, December 1665; died in London on 22 August 1667; married Mary TOUNSON; with issue:
Laurence HYDE, born at Wylye, Wiltshire, 12 October 1641.
Margaret HYDE, born at Wylye, 26 May 1649.
Robert HYDE, born at Wylye, 10 October 1650.
Barbara HYDE, born at Wylye, 20 November 1651.
Anne HYDE.
Mary HYDE.

     e. Celina HYDE., born at Salisbury, 1599; died in 1599.
     f. Barbara HYDE, born at Salisbury, 1603; died in 1608.
     g. Margaret HYDE, born at Salisbury, 1605.
     h. Henry HYDE, born at Salisbury, 12 May 1606; a Royalist Merchant and Consul to Turkey; selected by Charles in exile as his envoy to Turkey, but was arrested under pressure from the Parliamentarian Ambassador there, and sent back to England, where he was tried on a charge of treason; executed at Cornhill, London, on 4 March 1650.
     j. Edward HYDE, born at Salisbury, 16 May 1607; D.D.; Rector of Brightwell, Berkshire; died on 20 October 1661; married Anne LAMBERT; issue:
          i. Margaret HYDE; married William HEARST.
          ii. Ann HYDE; married 11 July 1661, Richard COLMAN (born about 1633, son of Sir Edward COLMAN of Brent Eleigh Hall, Suffolk, by his wife Dionise HALE); Trinity College, Cantab, 1648; Lincoln's Inn, 1650; called to the Bar, 1657; he was M.P. for Salisbury, 1665-1672; he died on 13 October 1672, aged 40, and was buried at Brent Eleigh; issue - four sons and one daughter.
     k. Hamlett HYDE, born at Salisbury, 1610.

     l. Nicholas HYDE, born at Salisbury, 20 April 1611.
     m. Frederick HYDE, born at Salisbury, 20 July 1614; died in 1677
     n. James HYDE, born at Salisbury, 15 May 1617; died on 7 May 1681.
     p. Charles HYDE, born at Salisbury, 24 April 1619; died in 1619.

11. Selina CASTILION, baptised at St Margaret'son 29 January 1576; married Robert CHENEY of West Woodhey, Berkshire (son of Thomas CHENEY of Woodhey, Berkshire, by his second wife Ann SCOTT of Mote, County Sussex); they had issue (as named in the 1632  "Visitations of Berkshire"):
     a. Henry CHENEY.
     b. John CHENEY.
     c. Barbara CHENEY.
     d. Mary CHENEY.

12. Henry Baptiste CASTILION, baptised at St Margaret's on 25 January 1580; of Lindhurst, Surrey, will proved P.C.C., 19 November 1646; married Margaret CASTILLION; she survived him and proved his will as the relict; they had issue:
     a. Henry CASTILLION.
     b. Elizabeth CASTILLION.
     d. (daughter); married POCOCKE, with issue:
          i. John POCOCKE; named in his grandfather's will, 1646.
     e. (daughter); perhaps Elizabeth above; married Edward BRIGHT; he witnessed his father-in-law's will, 1646.


John Baptist CASTILLION died on 12 February 1597-98, probably in London, and was buried 17 March inside the Parish Church of St Mary, Spene, near Newbury, Berkshire.
His burial was attended by his son and heir Francis CASTILLION as chief mourner; sons Valentine and Douglas (who bore the penant) CASTILLION and John LEIGH as assistant mourners; Dr HARDING the preacher; William CAMDEN, Clarenceaux, bearing the Coat-of-Arms; and Samuel THOMPSON, Portcullis, bearing the Helmet and Crest.
He was laid to rest in the family aisle, under an ornate altar tomb in the Italianate style of architecture, on which still lies his recumbent life-sized effigy, represented in armour, with a vest of chain mail under, hands pressed together in devotional attitude, his head resting on his helmet, ornamented with medallions bearing the Rose en Soleil, and the feet on his mutilated crest - A salamander's head Vert, issuing from flames and breathing flames, all Proper.

On the ledge of the tomb is inscribed -"Hic jacet Jo Baptist CASTILLION Armiger Quondam Dominus de Benham in Comitatu Berk Qui obiit Xii Febr A Dni 1597." Around the side of the tomb are the family Coats-of-Arms and impalements of CASTIGLIONE:CAMPAGNI and their issue.

No will for Giovanni has yet been located in English records.

Giovanni's ornate tomb has since been relocated, and now stands adjacent to the south wall of the 1859 enlargement of the original church (see photo above), which was built annexed to the southern side; this area has now been set apart for use as a meeting and small concert area; the now smaller congregation being catered for back in the original part of the church, due east of the spire.

[Image courtesy of Peter ORR and the www.achurchnearyou.com web-site.]

The full version of Sir Francis CASTILLION's proposed epitaph, written by another hand, is as follows:
"In this monument resteth Baptist CASTILLION, Esquier, who was in the Warres at Landerse; then served Henry 8, at Bullen, Captayne of Foote. Being there recommended by some about the King, was sent over with letters unto the Private Counsail in England; to preferre him unto the Lady Elizabeth's Grace, daughter unto King Henry the 8th, chiefly to read the Italian, being then 13 years of age.
"But in the first of Queene Marie, for trusty service then done by him, touching her Grace's safety, then a prisoner, he was committed close Prisoner to the Tower of London. And being twice out of Prison a few weeks, the Lady Elizabeth writ letters secretly unto him, all of her owne hand; to give unto the French Ambassador and King Phillip's Confessor at Whitehall; with other her letters, late in the night, about her Grace's troubles, whereof he was strictly examined in the Tower, by Bishop GARDENER, then Lord Chancellor; suffered on the Racke to confess his trust therein, being Lame thereof; but would make no confession, whereby the Lady Elizabeth may come in any danger; being wrongfully accused about WYATT's Rebellion, as the Chronicles maketh mention!
"But Queen Marie being dead and the Lady Elizabeth coming to the Crowne; he was presently sent for out of the Tower of London, being then a Prisoner, and came to Court, then at Whitehall; where he waws sworn of her Majesty's Private Chamber; and gave him the Manor of Benham Valence in the county of Berkshire, and many other great gifts; sufficient to beare the honour of a Baron, if he had made the right use of these Princely gifts.
"He served her Majesty over 40 years, in her private Chamber, and in very great favour, especially for his great and trusty service, before mentioned. And being her Grace's servant, and in those dangerous times, would have stisfied himself, than have suffered so noble a Princess so wrongfully to be accused, and thereby to be in great danger for her life.
"But it was very true, that her Majesty, after she came to the Crowne, was no way desirous to have things mentioned, or divulged by him; whereby must be plainly discovered, how the King Philip, did greatly favour her cause; being wrongfully imprisoned; and also the French King's Ambassador, secretly sent with her Grace's letters, about her troubles, as before is specified.
"He was born in Italie, in the Dukedom of Mantua; descended of that noble family, the Count of CASTILLION. This was his most worthy life. He lived to the age of 82 years; and lieth here, under this monumnet; and was made by his eldest sonne Sir Francis CASTILLION, Knt.
"This inscription was dated this 24th of September, 1631."
[Francis CASTILLION, his Letterbook - Osborne Shelves, Beinecke Rare Book and MS Library, Yale University.]

The epitaph was never posted on his tomb.

In 2016, I became aware of he existence of an Italian biography of Giovanni, written by Maria Grazia BELLORINI, entitled "Giovan Battista CASTIGLIONE consigliere di Elizabetta I," in contributi dell'instituto di filologia moderna, Serie Inglese, ed Sergio ROSSI (Milan, Vita e pensiero, 1974, 113-141).
I have not yet seen a copy of this biography. It would not surprise me if his entry in the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (Volume 22), attributed to Massimo FIRPO, was derived from this earlier Italian language source. This Italian language biography records that Giovanni was imprisoned in the Tower in May-June 1556, and not released until after the death of Queen Mary - which, as noted above, seems unlikely, given that he was at liberty in February 1558 when he was married in the Parish Church of St Christopher-le-Stocks. It further states that CASTIGLIONE may have gone on a diplomatic mission to Pavia in 1563 (as mentioned in a letter to Minister CECIL from an informant); and that he visited Antwerp in 1565, in connection with the supply of weapons for the English Army on behalf of the Duke of Leicester (see above).


Giovanni's eldest son and heir,Sir Francis CASTILLION, kept a letter book, which is now in the holdings of the Bienecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

One of the letters is a copy of one written by his father Giovanni in March 1581, addressed to the Duke of Savoy, some 20 years before he was married to Margaret of Austria:

Another is purported to be a letter under the hand of Queen Elizabeth:

Another is from Francis CASTILION, dated July 1609, and addressed to his supposed relation, Count Baldassare CASTIGLIONE in Mantua, and his reply of December 1610:

My Italian is non-existent. Assistance with old handwriting and possible old Italian (Lombardy) dialect would be most welcomed.


Giovanni's ancestral origins take him back to the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne (742-814), whose gtx4-grandson was Corrado (or Conrad), the son of Berenguar II (joint King of Italy, 950-961) by his wife Willa (daur of Boso, Marchese di Toscana and Count of Arles).
Corrado was the 1st Lord of Castiglione, and established his seat at Olona, about 1000; this fortified dwelling overlooked the Olona River, about 18 km S.S.W of Como, and just to the south of the present town of Castiglione Olona.
The estate was destoyed by Ottone VISCONTI in 1280, when Corrado's gtx4 grandson Guido (II) was in occupation, his father Corrado (II) having died in that same year.

It was not rebuilt again until the early 1400s, by Cristoforo CASTIGLIONE (1345-1425).

[The CASTIGLIONE estate at Olona, front or eastern elevation, looking S.W. Photo taken in 2002.]

[Front entrance to the Olona Estate, in the centre of the eastern facade.]

The site is still occupied by a stately dwelling, but which probably dates from the early 16th century, rather than being the 1430 reconstruction, although some original work may exist behind the facade.

[Image courtesy of the www.mondimedieval.net web-site.]

[Palazzo Branda CASTIGLIONI in Castiglione-Olona.
Image courtesy of the www.comune.castiglione-olona.va.it web-site.]


Cristoforo CASTIGLIONE was a renowned lawyer in Milano and Parma; he married Antonia di BAGGI, and by her had a son Baldassar CASTIGLIONE, born on 14 January 1414, and died in 1478, having married Pollisena LISCA, and by her dowry purchased an extensive estate at Casatico, about 19 km due west of Mantua, where he constructed another stately CASTIGLIONE mansion, most of which still exists today.

[A view of the south side of the CASTIGLIONE estate at Casatico, looking towards the N.E. Photo taken in 2002.]

[Detail above the front entrance to the Casatico Estate, in the the western facade.]

[Four studies of Casatico, by OSOLEMIO (top 2), Massimo GHIRARDI and Roberto TOMEO.
Images courtesy of Google Earth, I.D. #s 1554265, 15545168, 23351796 and 42417485.]


Baldassar and Polissena had a younger son Baldassare (II) CASTIGLIONE, who was father, by his wife Katherina (daughter of the Marchese di Malaspina) of Piero CASTIGLIONE, a Captain in the Army of Maximillian, Holy Roman Emperor, and who established himself at Castiglione Alto, near Gassino, in Piemonte, where our Giovanni Battista was probably born, about 1516.

[Part of an "original" fortification remaining below the modern mansion, rebuilt on the Castiglione Alto site, overlooking the Po River Valley, just east of Gassino. Photo taken 2002.]

[Detail of Castiglione Alto, showing terra-cotta Coat-of-Arms inset into "renovated" masonry, possibly original, now housing a "modern" garage under the new mansion above.]

Giovanni was my gtx10 grandfather.