King Henry VIII had called together a court to deal with lands confiscated by the dissolution of the monasteries. Edward was appointed its treasurer and made parliamentary representative of Cambridgeshire, and knighted, all in the same year (1561). He kept in the King’s favour and was executor to Henry’s will. The King left him £300.
In Edward VI reign North resigned his office as chancellor of the court but stayed as privy councillor. When King Edward died he became a supporter of Lady Jane Grey. Despite this he managed to gain favour of Queen Mary who made him a baron. He also attended the Queen’s wedding.
Baron North also found favour with Queen Elizabeth I, though tradition says she had spent some time as prisoner at Catlage hall during her sister’s reign. Edward died in 1564 at his London home but was buried at Kirtling. His son Roger, the second Lord North was treasurer to the Queen’s household.
In 1578 Her Majesty stayed three days at Kirtling Towers while on a tour of East Anglia. Vast amounts of food and drink were brought in. Poultry and game alone cost £158 – there were 23 varieties. £88 worth of meat and venison came from a local park for 128 pasties. A cart load of oysters arrived, together with 74 hogs heads of bear, 2 tons of ale and 6 hogs heads of claret plus white wine.
The Queen travelled with 200 young men in white velvet, 300 men in black velvet and 1500 serving men. The Queen was played into supper by the Kirtling minstrels and others loaned by the Earl of Leicester. After supper the Queen and Lord Roger played cards, he tactfully losing. Next day there was a joust in the park. Lord North gave the Queen a jewel worth £120 and when she left he attended her to Lord Leicester’s at Wansted.
The North family continued to be of great importance nationally and locally. In 1645 Sir Roger and Sir Dudley North were included in a parliamentary committee to consider the bill for draining the Fens.
Dudley, the 3rd Baron North, succeeded at age nineteen in 1600. Lord Dudley preferred to travel rather than settle and soon did a campaign in the Netherlands and visited Italy where his companion died of the plague. In 1639 he went with Charles I to Scotland and attended a long parliament but took no part in the Civil War.
Lord Dudley had a habit of learning the scriptures by heart and reciting them, often in French. He died aged 85 on 16 January 1666. He was succeeded by his son, also Dudley, who had 14 children. He died in 1677. Charles, who became Lord Grey of Rollesten, succeeded as 5th Baron North. His son, John, was appointed to preach before the king when Charles II came to Newmarket in the summer of 1668.
Next: Part 10