Arabella Stuart had been one of Elizabeth I ladies in waiting until she was caught flirting with Robert Devereux – Elizabeth’s favourite – and was sent away in disgrace. Arabella went to her grandmother Bess’s estate in Derbyshire. Unfortunately Arabella and Bess got on each other’s nerves. After one particularly blazing row, Arabella decided she had to leave. Her friends suggested she marry the gorgeous Edward Seymour, grandson of the first Earl of Hertford so she wrote to the Earl to see what he thought.
The Earl was furious because both Arabella and his son had Royal Blood - and their alliance would threaten Queen Elizabeth I. When Elizabeth found out what Arabella was up to, she sent an advisor to ferret out the truth. The Earl firmly denied any involvement in a plot and the advisor reported that Arabella seemed more interested in finding a husband than taking over the country.
Eventually Elizabeth I died and Arabella was delighted to find her position had improved. Her cousin James I invited her to his court. By now she was in her early 30s and desperate to get married. Despite finding the ladies at court childish and the politics pointless, she stuck it out in the hopes that James would find her a husband from the many men visiting his court.
But as the years went by Arabella realised that James seemed just as reluctant as Elizabeth in letting her marry. In fact it became a bit of a joke at court. In desperation, she went back to her original plan: The Seymours – but this time she had her eyes set on another grandson, William.
On the 22 June 1610 Arabella married William in secret. She was 35 and he was 22. She had a handsome young husband, he’d been flattered by her attentions and persuaded by her money. Their marriage lasted 17 days until the couple were found out and the Bridegroom sent to the Tower of London. Arabella was put under house arrest in Lambeth. William realised he’d made a big mistake in angering the King and that his new wife had neither the power nor money he’d hoped. Stewing away at the Tower he was starting to regret his actions. Arabella wrote letter after letter to him but he ignored her.