ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Who Killed Lady Amy Dudley

Updated on March 14, 2020
Dean Traylor profile image

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects including education and creative writing.

The Death of Amy Robsart (Dudley) in 1560 by Frederick Yeames
The Death of Amy Robsart (Dudley) in 1560 by Frederick Yeames

She was an heiress, wife of a powerful Lord, and a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I; however, Amy Dudley’s most famous contribution to history was dying under mysterious circumstances.

Her death set off a scandal and had the potential of destroying a queen’s reputation, as well as ending the political career of her husband, Lord Robert Dudley. And, through it all, questions were being asked: did she die of cancer, an accident, or murder? Speculations about her death have never been resolved, even nearly 500 years after her life was cut too short.

The Lady Named Amy

In her short life, Lady Amy Robsart (her maiden name) appeared to have it all. She was a wealthy heiress from Norfolk, England who got married at the age of eighteen to the son of John Dudley, the 1st Duke of Northumberland. Her husband, Lord Robert Dudley, would eventually become part of Queen Elizabeth’s court. Her brother-in-law – Robert’s younger brother - Guilford, had married Lady Jane Grey who would eventually become queen for nine days.

Although it appeared she was living a life of wealth and privilege, she was also a pawn in one man’s quest for power. The Duke was looking to consolidate his influences in Norfolk. The marriage of his son to the daughter of a wealthy landowner in the area, Sir John Robsart, helped him accomplish this task. By all accounts, the marriage between Lord Robert and Lady Amy was an arranged marriage that only benefited the Duke.

Amy and Robert Dudley (possibly) Originally posted on
Amy and Robert Dudley (possibly) Originally posted on

Happier Ever After Doesn’t Last

The couple was married June 4, 1550 with the young King Edward VI in attendance. Thing, however, soon took a turn for the worst. King Edward VI died, and Robert was imprisoned in the Tower of London for fifteen months. This came as a result of his father’s action to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne.

The incoming queen, Elizabeth I, tried to do away with Lady Jane, Guilford, the Duke and Robert. Robert was condemned to death, but King Phillip II of Spain and England’s king consort interceded and spared his life. Through this crisis, Lady Amy stood by her man, visiting him – with the help of the Privy Council – during his period.

Royal Rivalry

By all accounts, Lady Amy and Lord Robert had every reason to despise the new queen. And, the Queen had reasons to not trust the couple. However, events soon took a different turn.

Lord Robert became part of the queen’s court. On top of that, rumors swirled that he and the Queen were lovers. In fact, in 1559, several diplomats reported that some members of the court believed that the Queen would marry him, “in case his wife should die”.

While her husband was sparking a romance with the Queen, Lady Amy was in the midst of health crisis; she contracted an “illness of the breast” as it was called then. Today, it’s known as breast cancer.

About this time, Lady Amy did not reside in London. She had lived in various places, and by 1560, she was living in the manor house of Cumnor Place, near Abingdon in Berkshire (now known as Oxfordshire). Lord Robert spent most of his time in London.

Still, she managed to join her husband on occasions despite being ill. She came to London and to Windsor for Robert’s inauguration as a Knight of the Garter in 1559. Whether she knew about her husband’s relation with the Queen was never reported.

At the time, Lord Robert was in Windsor with the Queen. Upon receiving the news, he sent his friends to investigate her death

The Death

The year 1560 was Lady Amy’s last. She was still ill but seemed – by eye-witness account, to be recovering. On September 8 at Cumnor Place, Lady Amy gave her servants permission to attend Our Lady’s Fair at Abingdon. All but one servant, Mrs. Odingsells, and the elderly mother of the manor’s previous owner, Mrs. Owens, left for the festivities. When the servants returned, they found Lady Amy lying dead at the foot of a flight of stairs.

At the time, Lord Robert was in Windsor with the Queen. Upon receiving the news, he sent his friends to investigate her death. An inquest took place and Lord Amy’s death was ruled an accident.

How Did Lady Amy Dudley Die?

Do you believe Lady Amy Dudley was murdered?

See results

The Rumors

Immediately, rumors and speculation arose that Lady Amy’s death was the result of foul play. Many suspected it was Lord Robert Dudley. Rumors had it that he ordered the murder of his wife in order to marry the Queen.

Another accusation was that the Queen ordered her death. Evidence to this was a conversation Elizabeth had with the Spanish ambassador de Quadra in which she commented that Dudley’s wife was “dead or nearly so.”

The accusations that Dudley and the Queen had arranged the murder of Lady Amy may have come from a jealous court official. William Cecil, the Queen’s secretary, was wary of Dudley’s ascension to power as a possible king consort, and feared his own power would be diminished by this young upstart. Thus, Cecil may have spread rumors about the murder in order to prevent the two from marrying.

Apparently, the rumors worked to some degree. Lord Robert Dudley and Queen Elizabeth never married. Despite the coroner’s jury’s verdict that Lady Amy died of an accidental fall, he was haunted for the rest of his life by accusations that he had her killed.

The Aftermath

He’d never reach the status of king consort, but he’d later obtain the title of 1st Earl of Leicester and one of Queen Elizabeth’s most important statesman until he decided to take on a new wife in 1578. Ten years later, Robert died. Queen Elizabeth also survived the scandal, becoming one of the most powerful monarchs of her era.

Little is known about Lady Amy’s death. However, most of the evidence points to an unfortunate accident. Even if she didn’t die from the fall, the cancer would surely have taken her. Whatever the case may be, her sudden death at age 32 could’ve had serious implication at the highest level of royalty and politics.

from Henri Jean-Baptiste Victoire Fradelle (1778–1865) Robert and Amy Dudley
from Henri Jean-Baptiste Victoire Fradelle (1778–1865) Robert and Amy Dudley

© 2016 Dean Traylor


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 

      4 years ago from the PNW

      I recently watched something on Queen Elizabeth and that's why your hub caught my hub. Fascinating time. Great hub. Shared HP, Twitter & FB.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)