Thomas Killigrew

(7 February 1611/12 - 18 March 1682/83)
Anthony van Dyck. Thomas Killigrew [left] and Lord William Crofts (?). 1638
     Thomas Killigrew was born on 7 February 1611/12 in Hanworth, Middlesex. He was the son of Sir Robert Killigrew and Mary Woodhouse. Thomas Killigrew was christened on 20 February 1611/12 in St Margaret, Lothbury, London.
     -Dictionary of national biography: Killigrew, Thomas (1612-1683), playwright and theatre manager, was born on 7 February 1612 at Lothbury, London, and baptized on 20 February at St Margaret, Lothbury, the fourth son of Sir Robert Killigrew (1579/80-1633) and Mary Woodhouse; he was brother of Sir William Killigrew and Henry Killigrew.
Early years, 1612–1641
Although the seat of the family estate was at Hanworth, near Hampton Court, Killigrew was probably raised in London. His interest in the drama may have been aroused at an early age: in October 1662 Pepys reported the story of how Killigrew as a boy would go to the Red Bull playhouse at Clerkenwell, ‘and when the man cried to the boys, “Who will go and be a divell, and he shall see the play for nothing?”—then would he go in and be a devil upon the stage’ (Pepys, 3.243–4). The earliest mention of Thomas occurs in his grandmother Margerie Killigrew's will, dated 22 May 1623: to him and his brothers Charles (1609–1629), Robert (1611–1635), and Henry (1613–1700), she bequeathed the sum of £5 (Margerie Killigrew's will).
Unlike that of his brothers William (1606–1695) and Henry, who both studied at Oxford, Thomas's formal education appears to have been rather incidental. Correct spelling was an achievement that, even in later life, he never quite attained. As his brother Henry, in a letter to Anthony Wood, testified in November 1691, Thomas ‘wanted some learning to poise his excellent natural wit’ (Pritchard, 288). What education he had he obtained at court, to which his father, the queen's vice-chamberlain, must have introduced him. Contrary to what has been maintained, however, Thomas did not become a page at court as early as 1625 but some time later. Of his career at court until 1635 or 1636, not much is known. It has been (somewhat implausibly) suggested, on the authority of William Coventry's story as reported by Pepys in July 1665, that Thomas entered the service of Francis, Lord Cottington, when the latter became ambassador to Spain in the autumn of 1629 (Pepys, 9.256).
By July 1632 at the latest Killigrew was serving as a page of honour to Charles I, and over the next few years he tried to supplement his annual salary of £100 with the proceeds from confiscated properties. In his will, dated 12 September 1632, Sir Robert bequeathed to his sons Thomas and Robert his part and portion of all his real estate in the county of Cornwall and ‘the yearlie sum of fiftie pounds apeece … to be issuing and going out of all my Manors, lands, tenements and hereditaments’ in the same county (Sir Robert Killigrew's will). To Thomas and his heirs he also left 100 acres of fenland in Lincolnshire. But Sir Robert's heavily encumbered bequest was probably an insufficient financial basis for a young courtier to build a career on. In the scramble for money and favour characteristic of one in his position, Thomas managed to ingratiate himself with Queen Henrietta Maria herself. His first play, The Prisoners, a romantic tragicomedy composed in 1635 and performed at the Phoenix, Drury Lane, by Her Majesty's Servants in 1636, may have been a successful bid for royal favour. In October 1635 he was given the opportunity to accompany Walter Montague, the queen's favourite, on his travels to the continent. Montague and his attendants stayed at Calais, Paris, Tours, Orléans, and Loudun, where Killigrew recorded his experiences at the convent of the possessed Ursuline nuns. Before 17 January 1636 they arrived at Vercelli in Italy, then continued south to Rome and Naples, where Killigrew's next two tragicomedies, Claricilla and The Princess, were composed, in whole or in part. Claricilla was performed at the Phoenix before 1641; The Princess was probably acted at Blackfriars by the King's Men.
In the spring Killigrew returned to England and on 29 June he married Cecilia Crofts, a maid of honour to the queen. Thomas Carew, a friend of the Crofts family, celebrated the bride's beauty and the groom's happiness in a poem ‘On the Marriage of T. K. and C. C. the Morning Stormie’. Henry, the single son from this wedding, was born on Easter day, 9 April 1637. Cecilia died on 1 January 1638 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. In Van Dyck's famous double portrait of Killigrew and an Unknown Man, painted in 1638, Killigrew is shown in mourning for Cecilia, wearing her wedding-ring and a small cross with her intertwined initials. The evidence shows that her memory stayed with him throughout the years of his second marriage.
In the course of 1639 Killigrew set off on his travels again. The sons of the earl of Cork, Francis (who married Thomas's sister Elizabeth in October 1639) and Robert Boyle, recorded meeting him in Paris in November. From their correspondence, Killigrew's itinerary can be accurately reconstructed: in March 1640 he joined them in Geneva and left for Basel three weeks later, intending to cross the Alps. He visited the English College of the Jesuits at Rome twice in March 1641 and on his way back to England stopped at Geneva again in April. The title-page of the 1664 folio edition of Killigrew's best-known play, The Parson's Wedding, probably written in 1640–41, describes it as having been composed at Basel. Characterized by the Boyles' tutor as one that loved ‘profaine and irreligious discourses’ (Stoye, 247), Killigrew had somehow acquired the ill fame that was to haunt him ever after.
Exile, 1641–1660
Like most of his relatives, Killigrew joined the royalist side at the outbreak of the civil war. Already in November 1641 he had been employed as a messenger by both the king and the queen. He was summoned to appear before the Commons in February 1642 on suspicion of treason, but not until several months later was he taken into custody and probably placed under house arrest. He continued to occupy his lodgings at The Piazza, Covent Garden, until July 1643, when he was given a pass to join the royalist forces at Oxford. Soon afterwards he may have left England. By April 1647 he had become admitted to the circle of the exiled Prince Charles and was sent to Italy to borrow money for the support of his young master's cause, a mission that proved a moderate success. Killigrew's romantic tragedy The Pilgrim may have been written for the Prince of Wales's Company in Paris in 1646. When James, duke of York, established himself at The Hague in May 1648, Killigrew entered his service as groom of the bedchamber. Shortly after the execution of Charles I in 1649, he transferred his services again to the household of Prince Charles in Paris. As the new king's special envoy, he was entrusted with the task of seeking the recognition of Venice and the northern states of Italy. In November 1649 he scored some success at Turin, then travelled on to Genoa, Leghorn, Pisa, and Florence, where the reception given him was much cooler and the authorities' attitude to the king's cause noncommittal.
Killigrew reached Venice on 14 February 1650 and remained there as Charles's resident for more than two years. During his Italian stay, he found the time to write two lengthy dramatic romances, Cecilia and Clorinda, its first part composed in Turin, its second in Florence, and Bellamira her Dream, entirely written in Venice. As of June 1651 Killigrew began to experience difficulties in his relationship with the Venetian senate over his alleged involvement in illegal slaughtering and smuggling practices. The senate's request in June 1652 that the English resident be dismissed was largely inspired by political expediency, as the Venetian republic did not wish to antagonize Cromwell's government.
After leaving Venice, Killigrew stayed briefly at The Hague in attendance on the duke of Gloucester. When the duke removed his household to Paris in May 1653, to join his mother and King Charles, Killigrew accompanied him there. Whether Thomaso, or, The Wanderer, probably completed in 1654, was written in Madrid, as the title-page of the 1664 edition indicates, has never been ascertained. Largely autobiographical, Killigrew's two-part comedy is a verbose but often sparkling account of the exiled cavaliers' experiences in Spain, France, and the Low Countries. Soon after the court had departed from Paris in June 1654, Killigrew returned to The Hague, home to a large English community. At The Hague, he enjoyed the protection of Elizabeth, queen of Bohemia, who had been in exile there since 1621. To her intercession with Charles II, her nephew, and to the latter's mediation with Willem Frederik of Nassau-Dietz (1613–1664), stadholder of Friesland, Killigrew owed his appointment, in 1655, as a captain in the service of the states general.
It was possibly on the occasion of his first visit to The Hague in summer 1652 that Killigrew had made the acquaintance of Charlotte van Hesse-Piershil (1629–1715), the eldest and well-to-do daughter of Johan van Hesse (d. 1638), gentleman of the prince of Orange. The couple were married in the church of the Walloon Reformed Community, on 28 January 1655. As early as October 1655 the newly-weds contemplated leaving the city, signalling their intention to move to Maastricht, where Killigrew's company was garrisoned. On 29 December 1655, their first son, Charles Killigrew, the future theatre manager, was born there; and on 19 February 1657 a second son, Thomas (d. 3 June 1674), was added to the family. In the meantime, Killigrew had himself assigned to a different company, no doubt within the same city. On 1 May 1656, the council of state, in view of Killigrew's reputation as someone having ‘courage and experience in matters of war’ (Vander Motten, ‘Lost Years’, 321), appointed him to replace one John More, who had deserted his company.
While in the pay of the states of Friesland, Killigrew also acted as a kind of liaison officer for Charles II. In a letter from Maastricht (intercepted by the intelligence services of John Thurloe, Cromwell's secretary of state), he provided an astute summary of the doings of the major European powers in spring 1657. The English government went on to monitor closely his movements in Charles's service. On 5 April 1658 Sir George Downing informed Thurloe of Killigrew's intention to seek the appointment to a vacant post of regimental major. The prospect of such promotion may have necessitated the family's temporary return to The Hague, for on 28 March 1658 the church register of the Walloon Reformed Community there recorded the christening of a daughter, Charlotte-Marguerite (who may have died in infancy, before the end of 1660).
As groom of the bedchamber, Killigrew accompanied Charles on his semi-secret tour of the United Provinces in early September 1658, a tour which probably took the king as far north as Friesland, where he visited the Frisian stadholder. On 18 October Downing reported to Thurloe that he had ‘had an accompt from one Killigrew of his bed-chamber’ (Vander Motten, ‘Lost Years’, 324) of Charles's complete itinerary and the company he kept. It is not clear whether such information, if indeed supplied by Killigrew, amounted to a form of treason or was merely an apology for the king's presence on Dutch soil. From the five letters which Charles wrote to Willem Frederik between March 1659 and April 1662, it is evident that even after 1658 Killigrew continued to enjoy the protection and friendship of the monarch and the stadholder. Both men evidently co-operated in protecting Killigrew's interests, as on the occasion of the request which John Milton, Latin secretary to Cromwell, sent to Killigrew's Frisian paymasters on 27 January 1659, pleading that he be not allowed to escape an outstanding English debt. In the final months of the exile, Killigrew was not exclusively involved in state matters. In a letter from Maastricht dated 11 February 1659 and sent to an unknown friend, he declined the latter's offer to become a Catholic, criticizing at length the idolatrous practices of the church of Rome and its position on transubstantiation (Durham University Library, Cosin MS BI 13).
The theatre manager, 1660–1676
Although Pepys on 24 May 1660 recorded meeting Killigrew, ‘a gentleman of great esteem with the King’ (Pepys, 1.157), on board the Charles, the dramatist's wife, pregnant again, and the three children presumably prolonged their stay in Maastricht. Not until after the birth of Robert (baptized on 4 July 1660) did Charlotte move to London. Before the end of the year, she and her three sons were included in an act of naturalization, which in due course was ratified by the king. In May 1662 Charlotte became keeper of the sweet coffer for the queen, and in June she was made first lady of the privy chamber. Despite his recent re-establishment in London, Killigrew on 12 September 1660 acquired the rights of citizenship of Maastricht. His motives for doing so almost five years after settling down at Maastricht are a matter for speculation. As late as 30 November 1660, the king intervened on his behalf with the Frisian stadholder, asking that Killigrew be allowed to retain his military appointment, which he risked losing as a result of the council of state's plans to cut the expenditure for defence. In the course of 1660 Killigrew petitioned the king for a variety of offices and commodities, including the keepership of the armory at Greenwich, ‘in consideration of his expense in attendance on His Majesty abroad’ (CSP dom., 1660–61, 101), and a parcel of white plate worth £1200 that had belonged to Cromwell. But the financial compensations which Charles must have promised him during the exile had by the end of 1660 not yet materialized—hence perhaps the dramatist's request to retain his Dutch commandership. Not until November 1661 was he granted an annual pension of £500 as a groom of the bedchamber. By then he had completely changed his mind about his overseas obligations, for on 31 October 1661 the king once again intervened with the stadholder, asking him to allow Killigrew to transfer his company, supposedly for health reasons. The favour was granted and in January 1662 Killigrew's company was sold to one Jeremy Roper for 14,000 guilders.
The most singular mark of the king's esteem was of course the licence which in July 1660 he gave to Killigrew and Sir William Davenant ‘to erect two playhouses … to control the charges to be demanded, and the payments to actors … and absolutely suppressing all other playhouses’ (CSP dom., 1660–61, 124). Both men thus obtained a virtual monopoly to form two companies of players, produce all and any dramatic entertainments, and license all plays submitted to them. Killigrew's company, known as the King's Men, began acting at the Red Bull on 5 November 1660; they moved to Gibbons's Tennis Court, Vere Street, on 8 November. Davenant's company, under the patronage of the duke of York, possibly started their operations at Salisbury Court by 15 November; they moved to their Lincoln's Inn Fields theatre, fully equipped with movable scenery, in June 1661. When Claricilla was revived at Vere Street, on 4 July 1661, Pepys remarked on how empty Killigrew's theatre was ‘since the opera begun’ (Pepys, 2.132).
On 7 May 1663 the King's Company began acting at the new Theatre Royal, Bridges Street, Killigrew holding both acting and building shares in the company. Killigrew boasted a group of experienced actors and actresses drawn from various earlier troupes, including Michael Mohun, Nicholas Burt, Charles Hart, John Lacy, Anne Marshall, and Elizabeth Weaver. Davenant had to compete with a less seasoned troupe but managed to secure the services of Thomas Betterton, who had briefly been a member of the King's Company. Killigrew also had the exclusive rights to a large repertory of pre-Restoration plays, which included nearly all of Ben Jonson's works and many of Shakespeare's. Despite the heavy preponderance of old plays in the repertory of the Theatre Royal in the 1660s, there were few practising playwrights from the earlier period, but several new gentlemen dramatists attached themselves to Killigrew's company. Sir Robert Howard, holder of one quarter of the shares at Bridges Street, and James and Edward Howard wrote for his company in the early 1660s; so did Roger Boyle, earl of Orrery, and possibly Sir George Etherege. Of the professional playwrights Killigrew went on to recruit, none was more important that John Dryden. After negotiations with both companies, he became in April 1668 a playwright-sharer with the King's Company, agreeing to provide them with three plays annually in return for one and one-quarter shares. (Dryden broke the agreement in 1678.) Apparently Nathaniel Lee had a similar agreement, and so did Thomas D'Urfey during part of his career. Elkanah Settle also allied himself with the company in 1673.
As Killigrew's annotated copy of his Comedies and Tragedies (1664) preserved in the library of Worcester College, Oxford, demonstrates, he was ambitious enough to prepare his own plays for production on the new, scenic stage. The Princess was revived at Vere Street on 29 November 1661, ‘the first time … since before the troubles’ in Pepys's words (Pepys, 2.223). Claricilla and The Parson's Wedding proved the most successful of Killigrew's plays. Clandestinely performed at Gibbons's Tennis Court in 1653, Claricilla (one of the stock plays of Mohun's troupe at the Red Bull in 1660) was successively revived at Vere Street on 1 December 1660 and 4 July 1661, at court in January 1663, and at Bridges Street in March 1669. A performance of The Parson's Wedding, ‘acted all by women’ according to Pepys (ibid., 5.289), was scheduled at Bridges Street on 5 or 6 October 1664; it was given again at Lincoln's Inn Fields in June 1672. Much more popular, however, than any of his plays was Aphra Behn's The Rover, a lively adaptation of Thomaso, first produced at Dorset Gardens in March 1677. (As groom of the bedchamber, Killigrew had probably introduced Behn to Charles's intelligence service in 1666.) Despite the manifest advantages Killigrew enjoyed as the manager of the King's Company, he appears to have had insufficient practical sense of the theatre to compete successfully with Davenant, a professional playwright and theatrical innovator. Nevertheless, his theatrical initiatives were by no means despicable. Before the end of 1660, Killigrew beat Davenant in the race to introduce actresses on the stage, a novelty made official in the April 1662 patent issued to him, decreeing that all female parts were to be played by women. On 2 August 1664 he told Pepys of his plans to set up a nursery theatre at Moorfields, ‘were we shall have the best Scenes and Machines, the best Musique … and to that end hath sent for voices and painters and other persons from Italy’ (Pepys, 5.230). And in February and September 1667 he boasted to the same interlocutor of the many improvements at his theatre, including the importation of distinguished Italian musicians.

Killigrew's company shared of course in the misfortunes that befell the London stage. In June 1665 the theatres were closed down on account of the plague and on 25 January 1672 a fire destroyed the Theatre Royal, forcing Killigrew's company to move to the playhouse at Lincoln's Inn Fields, recently vacated by the Duke's Men. It is undeniable, however, that the King's Company's problems must be attributed to Killigrew's dubious handling of his theatrical holdings, resulting in conflicts with the disgruntled sharing actors, and, indeed, his own son Charles. As early as 1663, Killigrew had made over his building shares to his brother-in-law Sir John Sayers, to be held in trust for him; he also temporarily delegated the direction of the company to Hart, Mohun, and Lacy. After the death of Sir Henry Herbert, who in 1661–2 had sued the patent-holders for usurping some of his powers, Killigrew was appointed master of the revels on 1 May 1673 but in February 1677 he resigned the post to his son Charles. Only three weeks later, he was forced by law to turn over to Charles his patent and governorship of the company (in 1682 it was discovered that his theatrical property had not been his to control).

Trying to cope with his expensive habits of getting and spending, including his theatrical investments, Killigrew had to borrow money from his wife, whose interests in the Piershil inheritance had been safeguarded by a 1655 contract. Throughout his term as a patentee he petitioned the king for diverse gifts and licences. In December 1663 he requested the grant of a lease of nineteen messuages ‘in Collier Row, Stepney, and Shoreditch, the manor of Puriton-cum-Crandon, and a house in Bridgewater’, worth £88 a year (CSP dom., 1660–70, 686). In March 1670, in consideration of his ‘long and faithful services’ (ibid., 1670, 133), he was given the benefit of a bond worth £500, due to the king from one Thomas Pritchard. And the state papers for the years 1671 to 1676 show that he obtained a patent to license ‘pedlars and petty chapmen’ (ibid., 1671, 216) and claimed the right to grant licences for lotteries. After 1676 his interest in the theatre business gradually dwindled.
Final years, 1676–1683
According to Pepys, writing on 13 February 1668, Killigrew had been given the title of ‘King's fool or jester … and may with privilege revile or jeere any body … without offence’ (Pepys, 9.66–7). Countless anecdotes survive to prove that it was during his years at Charles's court that Killigrew established his reputation as a flippant conversationalist endowed with a caustic wit. Whether or not this is indicative of a fundamental change of mind, in his declining years he took a fancy to having himself portrayed in a very different guise, first, in the 1670s, as a pilgrim of St James, and after 1680, bearded as St Paul, carrying a sword, the emblem of martyrdom. Financial worries, however, must have weighed the family down, as is suggested by his petition, dated 16 January 1680, for payment of arrears on his pension in the amount of £850.

In 1683 Pier Maria Mazzantini, an Italian physician, asked the king for leave to practise the antidote Orvietan, claiming that it had saved Killigrew's life. ‘Weak and indisposed in body’, on 15 March 1683 the dramatist drew up his will. He requested to be buried at Westminster Abbey, together with his first wife and his sister Elizabeth (d. 1681). The largest part of his estate, both ‘real and personal’, and the arrears on his pension went to his son Henry, who was also made the sole executor. Charlotte and her children were left unmentioned. Killigrew died at Whitehall on 19 March 1683. Within days after her husband's death Charlotte petitioned the king for relief, arguing that she had brought ‘a considerable fortune to her husband … though of late by the insinuation of ill people his affections were withdrawn from her so that he has left her and her two youngest sons in a very necessitous condition’ (CSP dom., 1683, 220). The king obliged by granting her an annual pension of £200; he also contributed £50 to the funeral. Charlotte was buried on 22 April 1715, having survived her children by several years. Roger, born on 17 September 1663, had died prior to July 1694; Robert, a brigadier-general, was killed at the battle of Almanzor on 14 April 1707; and Elizabeth, born on 3 July 1666, may have been buried at St Martin's on 21 April 1690.

J. P. Vander Motten
A. Harbage, Thomas Killigrew, cavalier dramatist, 1612–1683 (1930) · J. P. Vander Motten, ‘Thomas Killigrew's “lost years”, 1655–1660’, Neophilologus, 82 (1998), 311–34 · J. P. Vander Motten, ‘Unpublished letters of Charles II’, Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660–1700, 18/1 (1994), 17–26 · J. W. Stoye, ‘The whereabouts of Thomas Killigrew, 1639–41’, Review of English Studies, 25 (1949), 245–8 · Pepys, Diary, vols. 1–9 · J. Lough and D. E. L. Crane, ‘Thomas Killigrew and the possessed nuns of Loudun: the text of a letter of 1635’, Durham University Journal, 78 (1985–6), 259–68 · M. W. Walsh, ‘Thomas Killigrew's cap and bells’, Theatre Notebook, 38 (1984), 99–105 · J. P. Vander Motten, ‘Thomas Killigrew: a biographical note’, Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire, 53/3 (1975), 769–75 · M. Rogers, ‘“Golden houses for shadows”: some portraits of Thomas Killigrew and his family’, Art and patronage in the Caroline courts: essays in honour of Sir Oliver Millar, ed. D. Howarth (1993), 220–42 · Margerie Killigrew's will, 22 May 1623, PRO, PROB 11/146, sig. 71 · Sir Robert Killigrew's will, 12 Sept 1633, PRO, PROB 11/164, sig. 69 · will, 15 March 1683, PRO, PROB 11/372, sig. 36 · CSP dom., 1660–85 · A. Pritchard, ‘According to Wood: sources of A. Wood's lives of poets and dramatists’, Review of English Studies, new ser., 28 (1977), 268–89, 407–20
BL, papers, Add. MS 20032 | Bodl. Oxf., Clarendon MSS · TCD, Trinity College MSS
A. Van Dyck, double portrait, oils, 1638, Royal Collection [see illus.] · A. Van Dyck, oils, 1638, Weston Park Foundation, Shropshire; copy, NPG · W. Sheppard, oils, 1650, NPG · J. J. Van den Berghe, stipple, 1650 (after W. Sheppard), BM, NPG · pencil drawing, 1650 (after W. Sheppard), NPG · W. Faithorne, line engraving, 1664 (after W. Sheppard), BM, NPG; repro. in T. Killigrew, Comedies and tragedies (1664) · mezzotint, 1670–1679, BM · J. vander Vaart, mezzotint, c.1680 (after W. Wissing), BM · mezzotint, BM, NPG
Wealth at death
two houses in Scotland Yard: will, PRO, PROB 11/372, sig. 36, 15 March 1683
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J. P. Vander Motten, ‘Killigrew, Thomas (1612-1683)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 24 Sept 2005]
Thomas Killigrew (1612-1683): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/15538
     In Margaret or Margery Saunders (Leigh)'s will dated 22 May 1623, Thomas Killigrew was named as heir; Will of Dame Margery Killigrew, widow of St Margaret Lothbury, city of London.
     In Sir Robert Killigrew's will dated 12 September 1632, Thomas Killigrew was named as heir.
     Thomas Killigrew married Cecilia Crofts on 29 June 1636 in Oatlands, Sussex. Thomas Killigrew was widowed on 1 January 1637/38 on the death of his wife Cecilia Crofts.
     He was appointed Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the Duke of York 1 May 1649.
     He was the notorious groom of the bedchamber to King Chas II. A page to King Chas I in 1633, and was sometime Resident at Venice, but is chiefly known for his intimate relations with Chas II. Mentioned by Pepys, had houses where Scotland Yard now stands (old court of Whitehall).
     More information about Thomas Killigrew may be found at
     Thomas Killigrew married secondly Charlotte de Hesse on 28 January 1655 in The Hague, The Netherlands.
     Thomas was a dramatist & courtier.
For additional information see: " LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia. © 2003, 2004 LoveToKnow.
     Thomas was appointed a Groom of the Bedchamber to King Charles II. He had to wait in the King's chamber during his Majesty's dressing, and wait at dinner (when he dines prvately), take wine, etc. from the servants, and give it to the Lords, to serve his Majesty. When the Gentlemen of the Bed-Chamber are not there, they perform the Office of dressing the Sovereign, and have their waiting Weekly, two and two, by turns.
These offices were in the gift of the Crown. The procedures for swearing and admitting them into waiting were the same as those for the gentlemen of the bedchamber.
The number of grooms fluctuated considerably. Under Charles II there were usually 12. Extra grooms were regularly appointed under Charles II and occasionally thereafter on 2 February 1661.
     Letters Patent permitting Thomas Killigrew to erect a theatre and perform plays therein, in Cities of London and Westminster.
     In 1673, he was appointed 'Master of the Revels'.
See Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for further information:
     Thomas Killigrew (1612-1683) was a dramatist and wit who played an important role in the re-establishment of the theatre following Charles’ return. As a boy he had been page to Charles I and followed his son into exile. In 1660 Killigrew and Sir William Davenant were granted letters patent by the King to establish theatres. Two companies were formed: the King’s Players, led by Killigrew, and the Duke’s Players led by Davenant. Killigrew’s company played first at Gibbon’s Tennis-Court in Clare Market but in 1663 moved to the new Theatre Royal in what is now Drury Lane. Davenant’s company, after a period at the old Salisbury Court theatre, moved to Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and eventually in 1732 to the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden. These two theatres, subsequently rebuilt, were the only theatres in London licensed for dramatic performances until the mid 19th century and still survive as major performance venues today.
     Thomas died on 18 March 1682/83 in Whitehall, London, Westminster, Middlesex, aged 71. He was buried on 18 March 1682/83 in Westminster Abbey, London. Mr Thomas Killigrew, in the Abbey.
     His will was proved on 19 March 1682/83 at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Will of Thomas Killigrew, Groom of His Majestiy's Bedchamber of Saint Martin in the Fields, Middlesex, dated 19 March 1683.
     -Killigrew, Thomas (1612-1683), English dramatist and wit, son of Sir Robert Killigrew, was born in Lothbury, London, on the 7th of February 1612. Pepys says that as a boy he satisfied his love of the stage by volunteering at the Red Bull to take the part of a devil, thus seeing the play for nothing. In 1633 he became page to Charles I., and was faithfully attached to the royal house throughout his life. In 1635 he was in France, and has left an account (printed in the European Magazine, 1803) of the exorcizing of an evil spirit from some nuns at Loudun. In 1641 he published two tragi-comedies, The Prisoners and Claracilla, both of which had probably been produced before 1636. In 1647 he followed Prince Charles into exile. His wit, easy morals and accommodating temper recommended him to Charles, who sent him to Venice in 1651 as his representative. Early in the following year he was recalled at the request of the Venetian ambassador in Paris. At the Restoration he became groom of the bedchamber to Charles II., and later chamberlain to the queen. He received in 1660, with Sir William Davenant, a patent to erect a new playhouse, the performances in which were to be independent of the censorship of the master of the revels. This infringement of his prerogative caused a dispute with Sir Henry Herbert, then holder of the office, but Killigrew settled the matter by generous concessions. He acted independently of Davenant, his company being known as the King's Servants. They played at the Red Bull, until in 1663 he built for them the original Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. Pepys writes in 1664 that Killigrew intended to have four opera seasons of six weeks each during the year, and with this end in view paid several visits to Rome to secure singers and scene decorators. In 1664 his plays were published as Comedies and Tragedies. Written by Thomas Killigrew. They are Claracilla; The Princess, or Love at First Sight; The Parson's Wedding; The Pilgrim; Cicilia and Clorinda, or Lov\ in Arms; Thomaso, or the Wanderer; and Bellamira, her Dream, or Love of Shadows. The Parson's Wedding (actec c. 1640, reprinted in the various editions of Dodsley's Old Plays and in the Ancient British Drama) is an unsavoury play which displays nevertheless considerable wit, and some of its jokes were appropriated by Congreve. It was revived after the Restoration in 1664 and 1672 or 1673, all the parts being in both cases taken by women. Killigrew succeeded Sir Henry Herbert as master of the revels in 1673. He died at Whitehal on the igth of March 1683. He was twice married, first t< Cecilia Crofts, maid of honor to Queen Henrietta Maria, anc secondly to Charlotte de Hesse, by whom he had a son Thomas (1657-1719), who was the author of a successful little piece Chit-Chat, played at Drury Lane on the i4th of February 1719 with Mrs Oldfield in the part of Florinda.

Child of Thomas Killigrew and Cecilia Crofts

Children of Thomas Killigrew and Charlotte de Hesse

Child of Thomas Killigrew

Thomas Killigrew

(February 1656/57 - July 1719)
     Thomas Killigrew was born in February 1656/57. He was the son of Thomas Killigrew and Charlotte de Hesse. They was listed as Charlotte de Hesse's child at naturalization on 3 June 1664. Thomas was a playwright and courtier, in London. He was Gentleman of the Bedchamber to George II, when Prince of Wales.
     Thomas died in July 1719 aged 62. He was buried on 21 July 1719 in Kensington, Middlesex, England.

Thomas Killigrew

( - before 1500)
     Thomas Killigrew was born in Penryn, Cornwall. He was the son of Thomas Killigrew and Agnes Unknown (Killigrew).
     Thomas died before 1500.
     Thomas Killigrew was mentioned as being deceased in the will of Thomas Killigrew dated 22 March 1500/1.

Thomas Killigrew

(before 1500 - )
     Thomas Killigrew was born before 1500 in Cornwall. He was the fourth son. He was named in the will of his grandfather Thomas Killigrew of Penryn 1500. Possibly the Thomas Killigrew listed in 1543 subsidy at Budock, lands 2, with John & Alex [Stoate] or his cousin 2nd son of Robert. He was the son of John Killigrew and Jane or Joan or Maude Petit.
     Thomas Killigrew and Agnes Unknown (Killigrew), John Killigrew, Agnes Killigrew (Buscarnon), Robert Killigrew, Thomas Killigrew, Elinor Killigrew and Elizabeth Killigrew were beneficiaries in Thomas Killigrew's will dated 22 March 1500/1. He was bequeathed one silver cup by his grandfather.

Thomas Killigrew

(before 1505 - )
     Thomas Killigrew was born before 1505. He was the second son.. He was the son of Robert Killigrew and Elizabeth Morys (of Wolstane).

Thomas Killigrew

(before 1475 - 20 September 1513)
     Thomas Killigrew was born before 1475 in 'Arwenack', Budock, Cornwall. He was the third son and heir. He was the son of John Killigrew (Thomas?) and Mary Boleigh.
     Thomas Killigrew married Jane Darrell.
     (12 Hen VII); at Trelees, Defeazance of gift (of mortgage bond).
Thomas Kylligrewe de Penrynburgh, esquire = (1); William Skeberyowe and John Skeberyowe his son and heir = (2)-(3); Recites: (a) gift of same date by (2)-(3) to (1) and his heirs for ever, of all their messuages, lands, tenements, rents, services and reversions in Trelees iuxta Trevehan;
(b) release and quitclaim, of same date at Trelees, by (2)-(3) to (1) and his heirs, of all right in the property.
Nevertheless, if (2)-(3) pay 1500 lb of white tin uncoined (quindecimcentenas libr' albi stanni non coinati), of good, pure and marketable metal, at Truruburgh, at the coinage of white tin to be held there at the Nativity of St John Baptist 1501 [?] (millesimo CCCCmo LXXXXXImo), then the charter of feoffment shall be null and void; otherwise, it stands in its strength.
John Trevenor, Richard Boneython, James Trefusys.
Trelees iuxta Trevehan [= Trelease in Kea].
Tied to AR/1/28 by a thong of parchment; a small sheet of paper (19th-century) lists 3 places called Trelease (but 'Trelease', supposedly in Merther, is an error for Treleage in Merther; the error comes from Symons's Gazetteer). For the correct identification, compare AR/4/30; and the Skeberyowe family is attested nearby in Kenwyn parish at about the same date. Date: 26th Jun 1497.
     Manor of Tregarn (Tregarne in St Keverne) Free tenants: Monglegh (Mongleath in Budock). Thomas Kelygrew de Arwennak, common suit of court; 2 shillings.
     Thomas Killigrew and Jane Darrell were mentioned in a civil court action in Cornwall. Kyllygrewe v Harryes. Plaintiffs: Thomas Kyllygrewe, of Arwynnek, and Jane, his wife. Defendants: John Harryes and Richard Candyche. Subject: Detention of deeds relating to messuages and land in Dunmow and Olyff. Essex. 2 documents. Date: 1486-1493, or 1504-1515.
     He may be the Thomas Kylligrewe of Arwenack bequeathed one silver cup in the will of Thomas Kylligrewe of Penryn dated 22 March 1500/01. Thomas Killigrew was the subject of an Inquisition 5 Henry VIII (1513). He was named in will of his cousin Thomas Killigrew of Penryn 1500 ( of Arwennack).
     Thomas died on 20 September 1513 in Biscay, Aragon, Spain.

Child of Thomas Killigrew and Jane Darrell

Thomas Killigrew

(21 July 1663 - )
     Thomas Killigrew was christened on 21 July 1663 in St Martin in the Fields, Westminster. He was the son of Sir Robert Killigrew and Barbara Unknown (Killigrew).

Thomas Killigrew

(23 February 1694 - 1719)
     Thomas Killigrew was born on 23 February 1694. He was the son of Charles Killigrew and Jemima Bockenham.
     Killigrew, Thomas (bap. 1694, d. 1719), playwright, was baptized on 23 February 1694, the second son of Charles Killigrew (1655-1724/5), theatre manager, and Jemima, niece of Richard Bokenham, mercer, of London, and the grandson of Thomas Killigrew the elder (1612-1683), with whose son Thomas (1657–1674) he has sometimes been confused. He was probably the author of Chit-Chat, a comedy, first performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on 14 February 1719, and published in two separate editions in the same year. Its strong cast included Barton Booth as Worthy, Robert Wilks as Bellamar, Colley Cibber as Alamode, and Anne Oldfield as Florinda. Described in the prologue as the author's ‘first Coup d'Essay’, Chit-Chat proved one of the most popular plays of the 1718–19 season. It was given eleven performances at Drury Lane between its première and 19 March, and another two at Richmond on 6 and 20 June, the former, ‘by his Royal Highness's Command’ (Avery, 542), celebrating the opening of William Pinkethman's new theatre. Chit-Chat was also a financial success: in addition to two author benefits and a sum of 150 guineas presented him by the prince and the princess of Wales, Killigrew secured the patronage of John Campbell, second duke of Argyll, ‘whose interest was so powerfully supported, that it was said the profits of his play amounted to above a thousand pounds’, according to Thomas Whincop (Nicoll, 18). In letters addressed to Booth and Steele, the critic John Dennis expressed his indignation at the success of such trivia as Chit-Chat and other comedies, when his own tragedy The Invader of his Country had never even reached the stage. Killigrew contributed ‘The Fable of Aumilius and the Statue of Venus’ to Miscellanea aurea, or, The Golden Medley, a collection of ‘epistolary essays in prose and verse’ (1720). He was buried at Kensington on 21 July 1719.

J. P. Vander Motten
Highfill, Burnim & Langhans, BDA, vols. 9, 11 · E. L. Avery, ed., The London stage, 1660–1800, pt 2: 1700–1729 (1960) · A. Harbage, Thomas Killigrew, cavalier dramatist, 1612–1683 (1930) · A. Nicoll, A history of early eighteenth-century drama, 1700–1750, 2nd edn (1929) · The critical works of John Dennis, ed. E. N. Hooker, 2 (1943) · DNB
© Oxford University Press 2004–5
J. P. Vander Motten, ‘Killigrew, Thomas (bap. 1694, d. 1719)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 24 Sept 2005]
Thomas Killigrew (bap. 1694, d. 1719): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/15539
     Thomas died in 1719.

Thomas Killigrew

(26 November 1650 - 28 March 1661)
     Thomas Killigrew was christened on 26 November 1650 in St Gluvias, Cornwall. He was the son of Simon Killigrew and Elizabeth Orell (Ross or Roose).
     Thomas was buried on 28 March 1661 in St Gluvias, Cornwall. Thomas Killegrew, son of Simon.

Thomas Killigrew

(10 December 1823 - )
     Thomas Killigrew was christened on 10 December 1823 in Chatham, Kent. He was the son of William Killigrew and Elizabeth Unknown.

Thomas Killigrew

(3 January 1716/17 - )
     Thomas Killigrew was christened on 3 January 1716/17 in St Luke, Chelsea, London. He was the son of Capt Thomas Killigrew and Olive Unknown.

Thomas Killigrew

(29 February 1743/44 - )
     Thomas Killigrew was christened on 29 February 1743/44 in St Michael, Cornhill, London. He was the son of Thomas Guilford Killigrew and Catherine Chubb.

Capt Thomas Killigrew

     Capt Thomas Killigrew married Olive Unknown.

Child of Capt Thomas Killigrew and Olive Unknown

Thomas Guilford Killigrew

(4 February 1719/20 - 1782)
     Thomas Guilford Killigrew was also known as Thomas Guildford in records. He was born on 30 January 1719/20 in Westminster, London. He was christened on 4 February 1719/20 in St Anne, Soho, Westminster. He was the son of Charles Killigrew.
     Thomas Guilford Killigrew married Catherine Chubb on 1 March 1740 in London. Thomas Killigrew of St Martin's in the Fields, Gent and Catherine Chubb of the same, spinster.
She was distant relation. Mrs Killigrew adopted her great niece Mary Iago who married Daniel Wait, Mayor of Bristol, in 1805, - their descendant Mrs Boddam Castle had portraits. His presumed wife is Katherine Killigrew, widow of Bristol, Gloucestershire whose will was proved 24 Nov 1809 PROB 11/1505
     He impoverished himself in the Stuart cause in 1745, afterwards settled in Bristol.
     Thomas died in 1782.
     His will was proved on 31 December 1782 at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Will of Thomas Guildford Killigrew, otherwise Thomas Killigrew, gentleman of Bristol, Gloucestershire.

Children of Thomas Guilford Killigrew and Catherine Chubb

Unknown Killigrew

(21 December 1583 - )
     Unknown Killigrew was stillborn on 21 December 1583 in England; Stillborn child of Mr Killigrewe, buried in the New Churcyard, St Thomas the Apostle. He was the son of Sir Henry Killigrew and Katherine Cooke.

Walter Killigrew

(circa 1593 - circa 1598)
     Walter Killigrew was born circa 1593 in Cornwall. He was the son of John Killigrew and Dorothy Monk.
     Walter died circa 1598 in Cornwall.

William Killigrew

(before 1695 - )
     William Killigrew was born before 1695. He was the son of Capt William Killigrew.

William Killigrew

(14 June 1657 - )
     William Killigrew was christened on 14 June 1657 in St Gluvias, Cornwall. He was the son of Simon Killigrew and Elizabeth Orell (Ross or Roose).

William Killigrew

(before 1726 - )
     William Killigrew was born before 1726.
     William Killigrew married Susanna Egborough on 2 June 1747 in Glatton, Huntingdonshire. William Killigrew was buried on 29 June 1759 in Glatton. This may be a son.

William Killigrew

(before 1780? - )
     William Killigrew was born before 1780?.
     William Killigrew married Elizabeth Unknown before 1801.

Children of William Killigrew and Elizabeth Unknown

William Killigrew

(6 August 1809 - before 15 September 1809)
     William Killigrew was christened on 6 August 1809 in Chatham, Kent. He was the son of William Killigrew and Elizabeth Unknown.
     William died before 15 September 1809 in Chatham, Kent. He was buried on 15 September 1809 in Chatham.

William Killigrew

(18 January 1746/47 - )
     William Killigrew was christened on 18 January 1746/47 in St Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, Surrey. He was the son of Henry Killigrew and Mary Unknown.

William Killigrew

(2 November 1746 - )
     William Killigrew was christened on 2 November 1746 in St Leonard, Shoreditch, London. He was the son of Edward Killigrew and Hannah Unknown.

William Killigrew

(21 June 1662 - )
     William Killigrew was christened on 21 June 1662 in St Mary, Hampton, Surrey. He was the son of Thomas Killigrew and Charlotte de Hesse.

William Killigrew

(2 November 1746 - )
     William Killigrew was christened on 2 November 1746 in St Leonard Shoreditch, Hackney, Middlesex. He was the son of Edward Killigrew and Hannah Unknown.

Capt William Killigrew

( - after 1694)
     Capt William Killigrew was the son of Sir William Killigrew and Mary Hill.
     He was possibly the Wm Killigrew who was commissioned a Captain of a company to be raided for the Holland Reg. in Col. Robert Sydney's Regiment, 3 July 1666. [Ref Cal.S.P.D.] He was out of the regiment 24 March 1670. Charles Killigrew was Ensign of the same. [Dalton, v.1 p.68].
     William died after 1694.

Child of Capt William Killigrew

General William Killigrew

(say 1627 - 1678)
     General William Killigrew was born say 1627. He was the son of Sir Peter Killigrew and Mary Lucas.
     General William Killigrew served in the military as a soldie. He fought overseas for King of Denmark and Princess of Orange. See Killigrew ms pp 2767-7.
Soldier of fortune and ultimately a general officer; and he was commander-in-chief of some Danish forces, sent by the Spaniards against the Swedes. After one of his successful engagements, he sold certain captured horses (his share of the spoil) to His Majesty of Denmark for some £3000. But failing to get his money from his royal employer, the general executed the military movement known as 'right about face', and transferred his sword to the Dutch, by whom his valour was more honorable rewarded. He seems to have been recalled to England at the Restoration, and had a regiment of foot.
     William died in 1678. He died unmarried. His nephew succeeded to the estate, which Martin Lister says was 'composed more of honour than of substance'.

Sir William Killigrew

(before 1550 - 23 November 1622)
     Sir William Killigrew was born before 1550 in 'Arwenack', Budock, Cornwall. He was the fifth son. He w sent to France in Nov 1562 in an attempt to obtain the release of his brother Henry. He was a Member of Parliament for Grantham in 1571. He was the son of Capt John Killigrew and Elizabeth Trewinnard.
     More information about Sir William Killigrew may be found at      
Sir William Killigrew was the Member of Parliament in 1572 for Helston, Cornwall.
     Letter from William Kylligrewe; from the court to Thomas Randall. When last in Cornwall I forgot to discuss with you the controversy between your court and Sir John Arundell in Penwith and Kir'. I delivered to Lord Bedford the answer to Sir John Arundell's articles which you sent me last year; but he has not been able to consider them. Until he can direct me (and because of his office I must follow his direction in such a case pertaining to Her Majesty's right), I ask and earnestly advise you to let Sir John and his officer continue his office, as they have previously done. For I would not, for twice the gain that I could get by troubling him (especially now that he is unable to follow his business as he has in the past) be the occasion of troubling him, or give him just cause to think any unkindness in me, or be the instrument of taking from him any right due to him. As I am bound to maintain the Queen's right, please see that no occasion of just offence is taken against you or me by Sir John or his friends; and I am sure that his officers will have similar respect to us. Please act so that there shall be no more strife. [Added later] I send you enclosed Sir John Arundell's letter, so that you can see how much he finds himself aggrieved. Please remedy it as you can without wrong to yourself. Doubtless his officer aggravates matters to him, more than there is cause. [3rd Oct 1584; from the court] I wrote asking you not to proceed against Sir John Arundell concerning his liberties in Penwith. Now he informs me that you caused £5 to be levied of a suitor to his court. Please deal with him as with any good friend, and quickly tell me why you have proceeded against the suitor. Endorsed [16th-17th century]: 'Killigrew's lettre to Thomas Randall not to grieve Sir John Arundell in relation to Penwith.'.
     Copy of letters patent granting Manor of Crediton, with tolls of market and fair to William Killigrew.
     Agreement to convey; £50 1 Thos. Payne of Glasney esq. 2 Wm. Killigrew esq. P.C. Messuages within the late college of Glasney at Penryn.
     Letters of attorney 1 Wm. Killigrew esq. P.C. 2 Peter Killigrew esq. his brother To take livery of seisin of property within the late college of Glasney at Penryn. William was a courtier, in London. His brother Henry asked Lord Burghley to persuade the Queen to appoint him Groom of the Privy Chamber which continued under James I. His portrait by Van Dyke is in HM Queen Victoria's collection. Chamberlain of Exchequer 28 Nov 1605 etc.
     He was named in the will of his brother Sir Henry in 1602 and also in the will of his brother Sir John..
     Sir William Killigrew married Margaret or Margery Saunders (Leigh) after 1611. Margaret or Margery, daugher of Thomas Saunders of Uxbridge, Mdx., widow of Robert Wolman or Woolman and of John Leigh.
     Deed of discharge, manors of Landrake and Botelet. 1) Sir William Killigrew of Hanwoorth in Middlesex 2) Richard Carew, esquire of Antony and Richard Gedie, gentleman of South Petherwin. Recites: indenture of 3 Feb 1598 quoted in EL/21/1 and deed of 10 Apr 1611 between: 1) Richard Carew and Richard Gedie 2) William Killigrew Quitclaim of rights as trustees to the manors of Landrake and Botelet, alias Bottleyett. Sir William Killigrew now covenants to well and sufficiently save, defend and keep the said Richard Carew and Richard Gedie from all manner of damages, troubles, charges, costs, losses and other hindrances whatsoever that shall or may grow or be unto them..
     William was a plaintiff in a civil court case on 28 February 1614/15 in Hanworth, Middlesex. Middlesex Session Rolls - True bill that, at Hanworthe co. Mdx on the said day , William Maddocke and Nicholas Poole, both late of Hanworthe afsd yomen, broke into a certain close and pasture called Hanworthe Parke, being the free warren of Sir William Killigrew kt. and with ferrets and nets hunted and killed seven rabbits in the said park. Confessing the indictment, William Maddocke "h'et iudiciu ..." = has judgement, to be taken back for three months without bail, and then by sureties for his good behaviour, and to pay triple damange. Nicholas Poole was at large. G.D.R. 15 March 13 James I.
     Sir William Killigrew made a will dated 18 March 1618 in Hanworth, Middlesex.
     William died on 23 November 1622 in Lothbury, London. He was buried in St Margaret, Lothbury, London.
     His will was proved on 30 November 1622 at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

Children of Sir William Killigrew and Margaret or Margery Saunders (Leigh)

Sir William Killigrew

(28 May 1606 - October 1695)
Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) Portrait of Sir William Killigrew 1638
     Sir William Killigrew was christened on 28 May 1606 in Hanworth, Middlesex. He was the son of Sir Robert Killigrew and Mary Woodhouse.
     William matriculated at St John's College, Oxford University, on 4 July 1623.
     Sir William Killigrew married Mary Hill.
     More information about Sir William Killigrew may be found at
     Notice of grant. £20.
(i) Sir Wm. Killigrew of Kempton Park, Mddsx., Kt., s. and hr. of Sir Robt. Killigrew, Kt. decd. Sir Chas. Berkeley of Bruton, Somerset, Kt. Rich. Ligon of London, gent. Josias Tully of London, gent. (All excrs. of will of Sir Robt. Killigrew and devisees of manor of Crediton.)
(ii) Hen. Killigrew of Landrake, esq.
Wardship and marriage of Eliz. Mills, dtr. and hr. of Jn. Mills of Credition, clothier and land in the manor of Credition.
Witd. Thos. Killigrew, Harry Killigrew, Thos. Date, Robt. Johnsorn Jn. Sharpess.
     Conveyance Sir William Killigrew of London, knight and others, executors of Sir Robert Killigrew, knight to John Pope of Westwood, Crediton, weaver Three messuages near St. Lawrence Chapel Consideration £70.
     The Killigrews’ portraits make up a true pair, he to our left, she to our right, with the outward arm of each curving gracefully inwards and low, in near mirror-images of one another. Behind each, in the distance, are beautifully depicted complementary landscapes...
William Killigrew was descended from an old Cornish family, whose heraldic arms included a double-headed eagle on a white background (officially described as ‘within a field Argent, an imperial eagle with two necks, within a bordure Bezante Sable'). William was baptised on 28 May 1606 in the parish church of Hanworth, Middlesex, where his parents had a country residence. He was the eldest of the twelve children of Sir Robert Killigrew and his wife Mary Woodhouse, nine of whom were to live to adulthood. Hanworth was conveniently placed for the royal palace of Hampton Court, and Sir Robert was an ambitious and energetic courtier on the rise, having been knighted by James I in 1603. He saw to it that all his children received a good education, and most of his daughters were to hold significant court positions. Anne (1607-41), for instance, was to become dresser to Charles I's French queen, Henrietta-Maria. Her marriage in 1627 to George Kirke, one of Charles’s gentlemen of the robes, was attended by the monarch himself. Elizabeth Killigrew (1622-81) on the other hand, a maid-of-honour to Henrietta-Maria, was to marry the future 1st Viscount Shannon, and in 1652 became the mistress of Charles II, bearing him a daughter called Charlotte-Jemima-Henrietta-Maria (a good string of Stuart family names, emphasising the infant's parentage!).
William's younger brother Thomas (1612-83), to whom we shall return later, was to become the best known of all the siblings, as a minor courtier and dramatist and, principally, as a theatrical manager after 1660. Another brother, Henry (1613-1700), entered the Church and became chaplain to the Duke of York - the future king James II - and Master of the Savoy Hospital in London.
William himself may have been educated at Thomas Farnaby's pioneering school in the City of London, near his parents’ London residence in Lothbury. Certainly, in July 1623 he entered St John's College, Oxford as a gentleman-commoner, but did not stay long, for in April 1624 he was given a pass to travel abroad, with his cousin Maurice Berkeley and three servants. William thus set off on the Jacobean version of a ‘Grand Tour', although his precise itinerary is not known. It is however, probable that he visited the Netherlands, where his younger brother Charles had a position as a page to the Prince of Orange and where the Killigrews had a well-placed friend, the diplomat and scholar, Constantijn Huyghens.
By May 1626, William was back in England, where he was knighted by Charles I. And it is likely that at about this time, or shortly before, he was married - to Mary Hill, daughter of John Hill of Honiley in Warwickshire. Thus William would have been aged around twenty at the time of his marriage; Mary's age at this time is unknown, as her date of birth is not recorded.
Mary and William were to have seven children. Their eldest son, Robert, was to be knighted at Breda in 1650 by the exiled Charles II; he spent many years as a soldier in the Netherlands. Another son, William, also had a military career; Henry died before his father. The couple's eldest daughter, Mary, was to marry a Dutch aristocrat, Frederick Nassau de Zuylestein, and to attend Charles I's daughter Mary, Princess of Orange at the Hague in the Netherlands. Elizabeth (died 1677) was to marry the future 6th Earl of Lincoln, and subsequently became a dresser to Charles II's queen, Catherine of Braganza. The third daughter, Susan (born 1629) married the 2nd Earl of Barrymore, and was to attend queen Henrietta-Maria in her Civil War exile. A fourth daughter, Cecilia, was born in 1635, but lived only two months. So, it is clear that the children of Sir William and Lady Killigrew continued the family tradition of court service.
At around the time of his marriage, William was appointed a Gentleman-Usher of the Privy Chamber to Charles I. At court, he moved in the circles of those who participated in the lavish entertainments - called 'masques’ - that mingled drama, music, dance and rich costumes and elaborate settings within the ideals of platonic love imported by the French-born Henrietta-Maria. Although William's own plays were not performed or published until after the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, their format and sentiments echo those of the court dramas created for Henrietta-Maria in the late 1620s and 1630s.
In 1628, Sir William was elected Member of Parliament for both Newport and Penryn in Cornwall - although he subsequently waived his adoption for the former borough. From 1633 to 1635, he was Governor of Pendennis Castle, a post previously held by his father, who had died in 1633. He also involved himself in his father's project of draining fen lands - the Lindsey level - in Lincolnshire. This project was ultimately to exhaust his economic resources, and meant that he was to be financially hard-pressed for much of the rest of his life.
We know nothing of the circumstances in which the portraits of Sir William and his wife were commissioned or executed. What we do know is that the two works bear inscriptions - thought to be contemporary, or nearly contemporary - identifying the sitters, stating that they were painted by van Dyck and with the date 1638. Similar inscriptions and the same date are also found on pictures of other members of the Killigrew family.
These are a half-length portrait of Thomas Killigrew with a large dog, which survives in various versions - the prime one now at Weston Park in Shropshire - and a sombre double portrait of Thomas Killigrew and a gentleman 'not known certainly' (according to the eighteenth-century observer George Vertue), surrounded by symbols of mourning (The Royal Collection). Undated, but clearly from the same period is the beautiful full-length portrait of the Killigrews’ sister, Anne Kirke in a gold dress (Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino, California), thought to mark her appointment in 1637 as dresser to Henrietta Maria. Anne Kirke appears again in a double portrait, with an unknown slightly older lady, also by van Dyck and dated 1638 (Hermitage, St Petersburg).
The year 1638 was a significant one for the family, for on 1st January they suffered the loss of Cecelia Crofts, the wife of Thomas Killigrew. Only a month later Cecelia's sister Anne Crofts also died. It seems certain that the elegiac quality of the male double portrait in the Royal Collection directly relates to this tragic event. It may also explain the pensive presentation of William in his own portrait. The viewer's attention is drawn to a ring, tied by a ribbon to the centre of his costly black satin jacket. Such rings are often seen in earlier portraits, and are thought to be in allusion to - or in memory of - a loved one.
Meanwhile, the political situation in England was deteriorating. With the outbreak of Civil War, the royalist William became captain of one of the two troops of horse guarding the person of Charles I, whom he accompanied to Oxford, after London was claimed by the Parliamentarians. Indeed, William seems to have treasured a letter written to him by the king in Oxford in January 1643, signed 'Your assured frend / Charles R.' After a riot in Lincolnshire in 1641, William was never able to regain his property in that county.
Having paid the fines levied on royalists by the winning Parliamentarians, he and his family found themselves in even worse financial straits. As he wrote in 1655, 'my wants do drive me live wherever I am welcome' and the republican general John Lambert gave him shelter from his creditors on the former crown property at Nonsuch, in Surrey. Poverty, it seems, necessitated Sir William and his wife living apart. In another letter, he wrote that the loss of his estate '... doth force me from the comforts of livinge with my Wife and Children, we being compelled to begge our bread in severall Countryes ... and this lookes as if my Wife and I were parted through discontent, though all our frends doe knowe that in thirty yeares beinge Maried we have never had one discontent or anger between us... I ... doe desire nothinge in this world more then to have my Wife live [with] me' (British Library, Add. MSS. 21,423, fol. 193). This may indicate that Lady Mary was, like many royalists – and not least, the surviving members of the Royal Family itself - in exile on the Continent. It is possible that the fine van Dyck portraits of Sir William and his wife could have been distrained or sold at this difficult time.
With the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in Britain in 1660, Sir William's situation - although not his finances - improved considerably. He was re-appointed to his court post as Gentleman-Usher of the Privy Chamber and took up lodging in the palace at Whitehall. A plan of the palace from 1668 shows that he had an apartment near the river front close to those of the queen, Catherine of Braganza, whose Vice-Chamberlain he became. His wife, meanwhile, became dresser to their old patroness, the Queen-Dowager, Henrietta-Maria. He continued to pursue his interest in fenland drainage, but between 1662 and 1666 also concentrated on writing a number of tragi-comedies, in a by-now rather old-fashioned idiom, resonant of the themes and preoccupations of Charles I's court. No doubt they would have appealed particularly to Henrietta-Maria. These plays are: Selindra, a chivalric adventure, staged by William's brother Thomas at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in March 1662; Pandora or the Converts, a drama of matrimonial debate that was originally designed as a tragedy but reworked as a comedy and staged in around 1662; Ormasdes or Love and Friendship, written almost entirely in couplets, and printed in 1664; The Siege of Urbin, often considered his best work and written in circa 1665; and his least satisfactory play - actually a translation of a twenty-year-old Latin text - The Imperial Tragedy, published in 1669. Not all of them appear to have been performed on stage.
In 1660-1, as a mark of favour, Henrietta-Maria had granted William's wife Mary a lease on an extensive marsh in Lincolnshire. We do not know, however, how long the elderly re-united couple had together before Lady Mary died. It is certain that during the 1680s William continued to have money problems. By July 1693 he was reduced to lodging with his brother Henry, in his residence attached to Westminster Abbey. Towards the end of his life William published collections of his own writings on religious and moral themes. The 1694 dedication at the front of his Mid-night and Daily Thoughts. In Prose and Verse begins, ' I Live so much alone, that I have not found a Friend to whom I could communicate this new Bundle of my ... Thoughts’ which suggests that he was now a widower. Certainly Lady Mary is not mentioned in William's will, which is dated 3 October 1695 (Public Record Office, PROB 11/427 s. 152). His principal bequest - 2,000 acres of fen-land - went to his sons Robert and William. Very soon after - the precise date is not known - he died. On 17 October 1695 he was buried at the Savoy Chapel in London.. A picture of Sir William Killigrew and Mary Hill by the Flemish master, Anthony Van Dyck. The portraits were reunited when purchased by the Tate about 2000.
Sir Anthony van Dyck's Portraits of Sir William and Lady Killigrew, 1638

     ‘I ... doe desire nothinge in this world more then to have my Wife live [with] me'
Sir William Killigrew 1655

Van Dyck (1599-1641) was one of the most significant painters to work within the British Isles. In the centuries following his death he had a far greater influence on portraiture there than any other artist. The forms of portrait that he introduced during the years that he worked for the Stuart king Charles I and members of his Court were to be an inspiration to numerous later artists, including Sir Peter Lely, Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Richard Parkes Bonington and John Singer Sargent. Yet until 2002 Tate possessed only a single work by this most influential of masters, the full-length portrait of an unknown lady thought to be a member of the Spencer Family, which had been acquired in 1977. Although delightful, this work was not in tip-top condition.
Tate's acquisition of the portrait of Sir William Killigrew came in part through the 'acceptance in lieu' scheme, under which pre-eminent works of art and important heritage objects can be transferred into public ownership in payment of inheritance tax. The story might have ended there, but for the sudden unexpected appearance in an auction in January 2003 in New York of the companion piece to this picture, van Dyck's portrait of Sir William's wife, Lady Mary Killigrew. This picture had been known to be in a private collection somewhere in the USA, but exactly where had been unclear. Through an exceptional combination of circumstances, it became possible for Tate to bid for it, and thus to acquire it, too.
Thus the two portraits by van Dyck, both dated 1638, closely related in size and clearly conceived as a pair, are re-united at last within the Tate collection. We do not know how long they have been apart, but at the very least it has been a century and a half. Certainly by the early nineteenth century, Sir William's portrait was owned by the Carpenter family, who sold it at auction in 1853. At the same date, Lady Mary's portrait was almost definitely with the Grey family, who were Earls of Stamford. During the nineteenth century, the 7th Earl kept it at the family's house at Enville in Staffordshire, but research is currently under way to establish whether it was previously at the family's original residence, Dunham Massey (now a National Trust property).
Like many other artists, van Dyck painted a number of matching husband-and-wife portraits, particularly when he was living and working in Antwerp. One English pair are his early full-lengths of Sir Robert and Lady Shirley of 1622, thought to have been painted in Rome (Petworth House). It is thought, however, that the Killigrews, now at Tate, may be the only example from van Dyck's English period of a (non-royal) pendant pair in a British public museum.
Over the previous century, it had not been unusual for artists in Britain to receive commissions to produce such paired portraits. Hans Holbein II, who worked for Henry VIII and his court during the years 1527-9 and 1534-43, painted a number, including those of Sir Henry and Lady Guildford, 1527 (The Royal Collection and the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri), and Dr William and Margaret, Lady Butts (Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum, Boston).
Portrait of Sir William Killigrew 1638
Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)
Portrait of Sir William Killigrew 1638
Tate: Accepted by HM Government in lieu of tax with additional payment (General Funds) made with assistance from the Patrons of British Art, Christopher Ondaatje and the National Art Collections Fund 2002
+View in Tate Collection      Portrait of Mary Hill, Lady Killigrew 1638
Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)
Portrait of Mary Hill, Lady Killigrew 1638 in 1638.
     In 1655 they were so poor they were forced to live apart. He wrote"... allour fiends doe knowe that in thirty years beinge maried we have never had one discontent or anger between us... (I) doe desire nothinge in this world more than to have my wife live with me.".
     Gent usher of the Privy Chamber, Vice chamberlain to Queen Katherine. 1661 Baronetage (see Cornish Worthies, p.157) Governor Pendennis. Inherited a great estate from his father. Had 2 wives, yet died a beggar and chiefly supported by Dr Killigrew, his brother. He had a son Robert who had 3 sons all dead in my time [Killigrew mss p.194].
     He was involved in the draining of the fens in Lincolnshire [Dictionary of National Biography, p.116]..
     Brief concerning the dispute between Sir Robert and Sir William Killigrew Comptrs. of Pendennis Castle and Sir Francis Vyvian and Hannibal Bonython, Esq., deputie of St. Mawes Castle, which 'anseth from letters... inhibiting the Capt. or his deputie of St. Mawes to call the masters or Capts of any ship or ships coming into that harbour to make their appearance to the said Castle but to forebeare all such undue courses, nor to stop any ship or vessels but when they shal receive warrant for the same ..." The brief lists several points concerning the suitability of St. Mawes to take precedence over Pendennis and also criticisms of "the civil consequences" of Pendennis being the more important.
     Petition of Sir William Killigrew, complaining of the behaviour of his sister-in-law, Charlotte Killigrew, when his wife died while in attendance on the Queen at Somerset House (1681!).
     Sir William Killigrew made a will dated 3 October 1695 in St Margaret, Westminster.
     William died in October 1695 in Westminster, aged 89. He was buried on 17 October 1695 in Savoy, London.
     His will was proved on 25 October 1695 at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

Children of Sir William Killigrew and Mary Hill

Sir William Killigrew Baronet

(1600 - July 1665)
     Sir William Killigrew Baronet was born in 1600 in 'Arwenack', Budock, Cornwall. He was aged 22 at the Visitation of Cornwall in 1622.
He was the 6th son of John Killigrew, of Arwynike, Cornwall (d 12 Aug 1605) by Dorothy, daughter of Thomas Monk, of Potheridge, Devon, was aged 22 in the Visitation of Cornwall 1622; was a distinguished soldier, and Colonel of a Regiment in Holland; served sometime under the King of Denmark, and was created a Baronet 22 Dec 1660 with a special remainder, failing heirs male of his body "to Peter Killegrew, of Arwunike, afsd, Esq, son of Sir Peter Killigrew, Knight" and the heirs male of his body. He died unmarried. In his will he names his niece Elizabeth Countess of Kinsky, however the College of arms pedigree states that Elizabeth married Edmond Yeo. [Complete baronetage. G E Cokayne, 1660].
     Sixth son of John Killigrew, Lord of Arwnick. co. Cornwall, by Dorothy, daughter of Thomas Moncke of Potheridge, co. Devon and born in 1600. He appears to have been knighted, probably abroad, and created a Bart. as of Arwenick, 22 December 1660, with remainder to his nephew Peter, son of his brother Sir Peter Killigrew, Kt. He was a great soldier, Colonel of a Regiment in Holland, and served the King of Denmark
. He was the son of John Killigrew and Dorothy Monk. Sir William Killigrew Baronet was knighted He wasted his paternal estate and alienated the barton & manor of Arwenick to his brother Peter. Knighted at Whitehall 8 Nov 1617 on 8 November 1617?.
     Letter from King Charles I to Sir William Killigrew, agreement to confer the governorship of Pendennis Castle on Mr Arundell, as required by Killigrew.. He became a baronet on 22 December 1660 with remainder to Peter, son of his brother Sir Peter..
     Sir William Killigrew Baronet served in the military in the Army in 1662. Sir William Killigrew's Regt of Foot raised Oct 1662; the Lord High Admiral's regt (Nov 16 1664, his Colonel's commission dated 5 Nov). A soldier of fortune and friend of Charles II in his exile. Created a Bart in 1660, knighted previously.
     Sir William Killigrew Baronet made a will dated 15 to 24 June1665. His will, dated the 15th, with a codicil 24 June 1665. He names his niece Elizabeth, Countess of Kinsky.
     William died in July 1665 in Pall Mall, London, Westminster. He was buried on 17 July 1665 in the north aisle of the monuments, Westminster Abbey.
     His will was proved on 4 September 1668 at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.