Turtle Bunbury

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Thomas Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex - Lord Deputy of Ireland (1556 - 1565)

Thomas Radcliffe was born in 1525, the eldest son and heir of the irrepressibly randy Henry Radcliffe (1506 - 1556), a son of Robert Fitzwalter Radcliffe, Earl of Essex, and Elizabeth Stafford, a daughter of the beheaded Duke of Buckingham. Thomas's mother was Henry's first wife, Elizabeth Howard, Lady Fitzwalter, a daughter of the Duke of Norfolk.

In 1542, when Thomas was 17, his father succeeded as 2nd Earl of Sussex. 15 years later, Henry died and the Earldom passed to 32 year old Thomas. On 26th April 1555, Thomas strolled into a crowded church at Hampton Court Palace and married Lady Frances Sidney, a daughter of King Edward VI's tutor and steward, Sir William Sidney. Within a year, he had been despatched by Queen Mary across the sea to serve as Lord Deputy of Ireland, charged with bringing the Irish colony under English control. He was accompanied by his brother-in-law Henry Sidney, Vice-Treasurer of Ireland. I believe Sussex found the task altogether too much. He resigned in 1565 and the post was offered to and accepted by Sidney.

Sidney and Sussex were also joined by their brother-in-law, Sir William Fitzwilliam, another future Lord Deputy of Ireland and forbear of the Earls of Fitzwilliam of Merton and Coolattin.

Sussex died at Bermondsey in London on 9th June 1583 and was interred at the New Hall in Beaulieu, Boreham, Essex three days later.

His widow, Lady Frances died on 9th march 1589 and was interred at Westminster Abbey, having left some £5000 in her will to fund the foundation of a college in Cambridge in memory of her husband. Sidney College was founded in 1596. The pedestrianised streets beside the college are called Sidney Street and Sussex Street to this day.

For Thomas Lennard, Earl of Sussex, see Bishopscourt, Co Monaghan.