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Margaret Lee (lady-in-waiting)

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Margaret Lee (lady-in-waiting)

Margaret Wyatt
Margaret Wyatt, by Hans Holbein
Spouse(s) Sir Anthony Lee
Sir Henry Lee
Robert Lee
Thomas Lee
Cromwell Lee
Anne Lee
Lettice Lee
Katherine Lee
Joyce Lee
Jane Lee
Father Sir Henry Wyatt
Mother Anne Skinner
Born c.1506
Died c.1543

Lady Margaret Lee (née Wyatt) (1506(?) – 1543(?)) was a sister of the poet Thomas Wyatt,[1] and a favourite of Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII of England.


  • Family 1
  • Life 2
  • Marriage and issue 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5


Margaret Wyatt was the daughter of Sir Henry Wyatt by Anne Skinner, the daughter of John Skinner of Reigate, Surrey.[2] She had two brothers:


Margaret is best remembered for having been a companion of Anne Boleyn, whose family estates lay near the Wyatts' and who later employed Margaret as one of her ladies-in-waiting. A portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger shows a woman presumed to be Margaret at the age of thirty-four, and it is assumed that it was painted around 1540. It is therefore probable that Margaret was very close to Anne in age, being born close to 1506 (whilst Anne is assumed to have been born around 1507.)

Few question that there was some form of friendship between Lady Margaret and Queen Anne. There is also a strong tradition which states that Margaret's sister, Mary, was also part of the Queen's social circle. Certainly Margaret's brother, Thomas Wyatt, fell passionately in love with Anne in the 1520s. Another female favorite of the Queen's was Lady Bridget Wingfield, who died in childbed in 1531.

Margaret was one of Anne's chief ladies-in-waiting, and accompanied her to Calais, France in 1532, where it is presumed Anne and Henry VIII made secret plans to marry in the immediate future. It is known that Anne had a lady-in-waiting who "she loves as a sister," and it has been suggested that this lady was Margaret. She was certainly part of the Queen's circle of favorites. As Mistress of the Queen's Wardrobe, she would presumably have played a leading part in the decadent social life at court in the mid-1530s, which was fuelled by the extravagance of Henry and Anne.

Lady Margaret was sent to attend her royal mistress in the Tower of London in May 1536 when the Queen was arrested on charges of adultery, treason, and incest. Margaret also attended Anne on the scaffold on May 19, and even received the last gift of a prayer book from her. After Anne was beheaded, Margaret acted as chief mourner at her small funeral. Anne had written a short farewell to Margaret inside the prayer book:

"Remember me when you do pray,
that hope doth lead from day to day."

A sketch by the famed court artist Hans Holbein has been mistakenly identified as being a sketch of a Queen Anne Boleyn when she was pregnant, but current research seems to suggest that it might have been one of the Wyatt sisters—;either Margaret or her sister, Mary.

Lady Margaret Lee is commemorated in Songs and Sonnets, also known as Tottel's Miscellany, a poetry anthology published by the law printer Richard Tottel in 1557. The book contains poems written by Lady Margaret's brother, Sir Thomas Wyatt, as well as poems by the Earl of Surrey, Nicholas Grimald, and a number of anonymous poets. Grimald's funeral elegy, "An Epitaph of the Lady Margaret Lee," advises the reader, "Man, by a woman learn, this life what we may call," and praises her "blood, friendship, beauty, youth," and other qualities (no. 158, 1–2). Lady Margaret is one of several Tudor ladies memorialized in the volume.[5]

Marriage and issue

About 6 July 1532 Margaret Wyatt married Sir Anthony Lee (d.1549), by whom she had four sons and five daughters:[6][7][8][9]

  • Sir Henry Lee.[10]
  • Robert Lee (died c.1598).[10]
  • Thomas Lee.[10]
  • Cromwell Lee (d.1601), who compiled an Italian-English dictionary.[10]
  • Anne Lee, who married Leonard Spenser of Naunton Hall in Rendlesham, Suffolk.[11]
  • Lettice Lee, who married Nicholas Cooke of Linstead, Suffolk.[11]
  • Katherine Lee, who married Giles Symonds of Clay, Norfolk.[11]
  • Joyce Lee, who married, on 29 November 1562, John Chenye, son of Sir Robert Chenye of Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire.[11]
  • Jane Lee, who married Peter Reade of Gimingham, Norfolk.[11]


  1. ^ Thomson, Patricia. Sir Thomas Wyatt and his Background. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964.
  2. ^ Richardson IV 2011, p. 382; Burrow 2004.
  3. ^ Richardson IV 2011, pp. 381–2.
  4. ^ Burrow 2004.
  5. ^ Rollins, Hyder Edward. Tottel's Miscellany (1557–1587). 1929. Rev. ed. 2 vols. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965.
  6. ^ Richardson IV 2011, p. 382.
  7. ^ Burrow 2004.
  8. ^ Chambers 1936, pp. 19, 23–4, 247–8.
  9. ^ Fernie 2004.
  10. ^ a b c d Chambers 1936, p. 23.
  11. ^ a b c d e Chambers 1936, p. 24.


  • Burrow, Colin (2004). "Wyatt, Sir Thomas (c.1503–1542)". (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)  
  • Chambers, E.K. (1936). Sir Henry Lee; An Elizabethan Portrait. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families IV (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City.  
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