Thursday 3 am .. 24 March 1603 .. death of Queen Elizabeth I ..
The writer of this account was a Catholic spy who went by the name of Anthony Rivers. His identity is uncertain, but it’s believed he was William Sterrell, secretary to the Earl of Worcester. As such, he was at the heart of the royal court (de Lisle, p.39).
In August 1602 Rivers recounted a telling incident during Elizabeth’s progress through Oxfordshire – an early intimation of her ill health:
The Queen hunteth every second or third day, for the most part on horseback, and showeth little defect in ability, albeit her face and other parts resembling old age, argue no little decay. A country woman viewing her in the progress, told her neighbour standing near her that the Queen looked very old and ill; one of the guard, overhearing her, said she should be hanged for those words, and frighted the poor woman exceedingly.
A few months later Rivers seems to have relied on detailed medical opinion: the following account appears in an intercepted letter, which was probably intended for Robert Persons – it tells of the queen’s decline a fortnight before her death.
From Anthony Rivers at London, to Giacomo Creleto at Venice – 9 March 1603 (Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus (1877) vol. I, p.52; also Calendar of State Papers, Domestic – Elizabeth, p.298 no. 50): Continue reading