St Mary's Bottesford Phase V.V, Monument to Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland

By Bob Sparham

Roger Manners 5th Earl of Rutland (detail of his tomb)
Roger Manners 5th Earl of Rutland (detail of his tomb)
The Tomb of Roger Manners and effigy of Elizabeth Manners nee Sidney
The Tomb of Roger Manners and effigy of Elizabeth Manners nee Sidney

Roger Manners has one of the most interesting histories of all of the Earls of Rutland. Indeed he is the only one of the Earls to have been identified by some scholars as the real writer of Shakespeare’s plays! Although his brother Francis the 6th Earl has an established link with Shakespeare, having actually employed him, it is Roger who is suggested as a candidate for the authorship of the greatest of all English plays. However it should be stressed that this is very much a fringe position adopted by only a few scholars. It is one which is firmly rejected in the mainstream of Shakespearian studies, and it is not a view I personally support. Nonetheless it is I believe creditable to argue that if Roger Manners was not the playwright of the Globe Theatre he was on several occasions at least, a member of the audience.

Most of the supporters of the Rutland candidature base their arguments on the close links between Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland, Robert Devereux 2nd Earl of Essex, and Henry Wriothesley 3rd Earl of Southampton. Their relationships were close and complex, and they had reverberations long after Robert Devereux’s execution after the failed fiasco of the Essex Rebellion. Below is a chronology of the course of relevant events:-

Roger Manners 5th Earl of Rutland Playgoing Chronology (under the Julian Calendar the year changed on the  25th March rather than 1st Jan)

Born 6 Oct 1576

21 Feb 1587-8 succeeded as fifth Earl of Rutland, passing through London on his way to Cambridge, he had an interview with Queen Elizabeth

In 1590 his tutor, John Jegon, removed to Corpus Christi College, and among other of his pupils, Rutland went with him

20 Feb 1595 he became M.A.

Early in 1596 Sailed from Plymouth, and passed by way of Paris to Switzerland and Italy. Fellow classmate at Padua University with two Danish students called Rosencrantz & Guildenstern. In North Italy he had a dangerous illness

2 Feb 1597-8 was admitted member of Gray’s Inn and became a very close companion to the Earls of Essex and Southampton in London

Jan 1598-9 The Earl of Essex given command of an English expeditionary force sent to Ireland, to fight a rebellion in Ulster led by O’Neil the Earl of Tyrone

Jan-Feb 1598-9 Essex commissions Roger Manners to serve as a Colonel of Foot under his command in Ireland

21 Feb1 1598-9 William Shakespeare signs a lease for land in Southwark where Globe Theatre will be built

5 March 1598-9 Roger Manners marries Elizabeth Sidney

March 1598-9 Fearing the power that Essex is gathering around himself, Queen Elizabeth forbids Roger Manners 5th Earl of Rutland from going to Ireland

19 March 1589-9 The astrologer and doctor Simon Foreman casts the Earl of Essex’s horoscope.

27 March 1599 Essex  leads his army as they march out of London, Simon Forman is in the cheering crowd watching the procession.

April 1599 Roger Manners travels to Belvoir Castle then on to Chester and slips out of England to join Essex in Ireland.

30 May 1599 Roger Manners knighted by Essex in Ireland

28 June 1599 Roger Manners returns to London after being summoned back by Queen, is in disfavour for disobeying her orders.

10 Jul 1599, he was incorporated Oxford

Sept 1599 Globe Theatre opens with two plays, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Ben Jonson’s Every Man his Humour alternating.

Sept 1599 Essex realised that the Irish campaign was a fiasco and concluded a private truce with the Earl of Tyrone.

23-6 Sept 1599 Roger Manners attends the court at Nonesuch Palace.

28 Sept 1599 The Earl of Essex rides back overnight from Ireland. He bursts unannounced into Queen’s apartments in an attempt to explain his agreement with Tyrone. The Queen is angry both because he has seen her without her wig and makeup, and by the fact that she was frightened by the possibility of assassination and a coup.

28 Sept-1 Oct 1599 Roger Manners steward Thomas Scriven makes the following entres in his accounts:- Item, 28 September, my Lorde’s boatehier to Lambeth and back againe, xviijd.;…boatehire 1 October, for his Lordship and his men, and the play, and James his going to Lambeth to see Capten Whitlock, viijs.

Item the foteman’s boatehire to Lambeth and to the play howse sondry tymes.ijs.iiijd

The fact that the boats are being used for transport identifies the Playhouse as being in the Southwark area, south of the river, but tantalisingly, Screvin doesn’t make clear if the Earl is visiting the newly constructed Globe Theatre or its near neighbour, the Rose.

Oct 1599-June 1600 Essex placed under house arrest and his faction at court go into a kind of limbo waiting to see what will see what will happen next, It was reported by Rowland White in 1600 that Rutland and Southampton ‘“passaway the tyme in London merely in going to plays everyday”

This page was added on 09/01/2007.

Comments about this page

  • I believe there is a good booklet available in the Church describing its history etc. maybe worth a mention. Written by E A Shipman.

    By John Shipman (25/07/2007)
  • E A Shipman’s excellent booklet was published in 1995 and is recommended for an excellent account of St Mary’s Church and its history. I am not sure if it is still available for sale, but it is certainly kept in Bottesford Public Library. This and other books about Bottesford are listed on this website in The Bookshelf, and we welcome suggestions for other publications that can be added there.

    Neil Fortey

    By Neil Fortey (26/07/2007)
  • It will be great if the people know where the Bard and his wife are buried. I believe that Rutland is the real “Shake-Speare”. But the problem is that the english people are very conservative in thinking. And it’s strange that most of them still believe that the author is the man from Stratford who obviously (see his 6 signatures) couldn’t write.

    By Boris Marholev (02/12/2007)
  • Thank you for your comment,I am sorry that it has taken me so long to reply but your views encouraged me to complete the pages on the Earl’s wife Elizabeth Sidney entitled The Countess of Rutland’s Poesie which I had been planning for some time. As you can see for the reasons I set out in the first two pages Shakespeare Unmasked and Why Shakespeare was Shakespeare I do not share your views on the hypothesis that Roger Manners was the real Shakespeare but I would like to thank you once again for the stimulation to finish that section. Roger Manners is buried in St Mary’s Bottesford but his wife Elizabeth in St Paul’s Cathedral in London. However her grave was lost when St Paul’s burnt down in the Great Fire of London in 1666

    By Bob Sparham (04/01/2008)
  • This Is Very Cool Because Its My Family And My Father Went There In 08.

    By Samantha (01/02/2009)
  • I do like your site and your work.

    I am one of the believers that R. Manners was real Shakespeare. Is it possible to find a good image/portrait of this earl?

    By Vacheslav Yasnovsky (10/03/2009)
  • I visited Belvoir Castle some years ago – the portraits of Roger and Elisabeth, published in 1927 by Demblon in his book, were not there. As I was told by a museum guard, the Duchess of Rutland, who still lives in this castle “had never even seen these portraits”. But they must have been there at least in 1927. Now there is only one portrait of the 5th Earl of Rutland – in profile, not en face. Here is another Mystery…

    By Natalia Preobrazhenskaya (24/06/2011)
  • If it’s the same portrait he used in his 1912 book, Lord Rutland est Shakespeare, that is actually a portrait of Francis Manners, 6th Earl of Rutland. The image used by Bostelmann in his 1911 book is actually a portrait of John Manners, the 5th Duke (not earl) of Rutland. The portrait at Belvoir Castle was painted in the mid-1670s by Jeremiah van der Eyden, who was commissioned by the 9th Earl to paint a series of full length portraits of the previous earls, and the model for Roger Manners appears to have been taken from his tomb effigy.

    By Tom Reedy (08/05/2013)
  • Just noticed that you had mentioned Henry Wriothesley the 2nd Earl of Southampton when in fact you ment his son who was also called Henry but was the 3rd Earl of Southampton & very different from his father.

    By Jessie Lake (03/04/2022)
  • Dear Jessie, Thanks for pointing out this to us. I will contact Bob, the author of this page, and ask him to suggest necessary edits which I should make in order to ‘get it right’. With best regards, Neil Fortey

    By Neil Fortey (13/04/2022)

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