MANNERS, Roger I (c.1536-1607), of Uffington, Lincs.
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Family and Education
Esquire of the body to Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth; constable of Nottingham castle during the minority of 3rd Earl of Rutland Dec. 1563.
When Manners reached early manhood he was sent to sea under the Lord Admiral, whose good opinion he won. He promised to apply himself ‘to the understanding of the marine causes and affairs’, which he did for most of Mary’s reign, probably taking part in the battle of St. Quentin. Doubtless through his mother, who was popular with Queen Mary, he obtained the post of esquire of the body, and when Elizabeth came to the throne he gave up the sea for the court, where he spent much of the rest of his life. At first, he was continually attendant on the Queen, but in 1583, in respect of his good services, the Queen relieved him of most of his duties, and permitted him to attend only when he wished, or at her express command.
Numerous letters from Manners to his family survive. As well as providing an intimate picture of court life during the reign, they give a detailed insight into his character. Never married—the married endorsement ‘concerning a match with Roger Manners’s daughter’, on a letter from Lord Morley, certainly misinterprets the contents Manners was an affectionate brother and uncle. In many ways, despite his constant reiteration that he wished to be a countryman and ‘follow the plough’, he was a typical courtier: pliable, amusing, ready with tongue and pen, cynical and engagingly lazy; a keen sportsman, always ready to curtail a letter if called to the pleasure of the chase; an open handed host, ever anxious to entertain visitors in his ‘poor cottage’ at Uffington, where the hospitality dispensed was much remarked on.
In 1572, when suspected of having favoured the late Duke of Norfolk, he deplored ‘popish idolatry’, and it is apparent that his religious attitude depended entirely on his loyalty to the Crown. In 1603, when the Queen lay dying, he wrote to his brother John: ‘I will not go about to make kings, nor seek to pull down any; only will obey such as be chosen and crowned’. In 1601, when his great-nephews, the 5th Earl of Rutland and the Earl’s brothers, were involved in the Essex rising, he wished that they ‘had never been born, than so horrible offence offend so gracious a sovereign to the overthrow of their house and name for