Facts and Events
Elizabeth Brooke (died 1560) was the wife of Thomas Wyatt, the poet, and the mother of Thomas Wyatt the younger who led Wyatt's Rebellion against Mary I. Her parents were Thomas Brooke, 8th Baron Cobham (d. 1529) and Dorothy Haydon. She was the sister of George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham and was considered a possible candidate for the sixth wife of Henry VIII of England.
Elizabeth married Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-6 Oct 1542) in 1520 and bore him a son, Sir Thomas the rebel (1521-1554) and a daughter, Anne. Early in the marriage, marital difficulties arose, with Wyatt claiming they were “chiefly” her fault. He repudiated her as an adulteress, although there is no record linking her with any specific man. Elizabeth separated from Thomas Wyatt in 1526, and openly lived in adultery. He refused to financially support her, and after pursuing Anne Boleyn before her relationship with the King, he started a long-term affair with Elizabeth Darrell. The story that in 1540, Wyatt and Elizabeth were forced by Henry VIII to reconcile is based on the testimony of a single unreliable source and improbable.
In early 1542, more than a year before Wyatt’s death, Lady Wyatt's name crops up in Spanish dispatches as one of three ladies in whom Henry VIII was said to be interested as a possible sixth wife. The Spanish Ambassador wrote that the lady for whom the king “showed the greatest regard was a sister of Lord Cobham, whom Wyatt, some time ago, divorced for adultery. She is a pretty young creature, with wit enough to do as badly as the others if she were to try.” This is an odd comment in several ways, not the least of which is that Elizabeth was almost forty years old. What would make more sense, would be to assume that the ambassador was mistaken in his identification. Another Elisabeth Brooke (see below), Lord Cobham’s daughter, could easily have been at court on this occasion, since she was definitely there the following year. She would have been nearly sixteen in January of 1542 and in later years was accounted one of the most beautiful women of her time. More important to a king who had just rid himself of a wife (Catherine Howard) who had committed adultery, this second Elisabeth had a spotless reputation.
Following Wyatt’s death, Lady Wyatt married Edward Warner (1511-1565), Lord Lieutenant of the Tower. Warner was removed from his position on July 28, 1553, after Mary became queen, and was arrested on suspicion of treason the following January at his house in Carter Lane when Thomas Wyatt the younger rebelled against the Crown. Warner was held for nearly a year.
Elizabeth’s son Sir Thomas was executed. Edward, the son she had with Warner, died young. Eventually, however, the family fortunes were restored and under Elizabeth Tudor, Warner reclaimed to his post at the Tower of London. His wife, Elizabeth died there in August 1560 and was buried within its precincts.
On February 14, 1542 the night after Catherine Howard had been condemned to death for adultery, Henry VIII held a dinner for many men and women. He was said to pay great attention to Elizabeth and to Anne Bassett. Both were thought to be possible choices for wife number six.
She should not be confused with her beautiful niece, Elisabeth Brooke, who married William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton and was close to Edward VI of England, Jane Grey and Elizabeth I of England.