Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester to Elizabeth, 29 August 1588 (SP 12/215 f.114)
Elizabeth’s long-standing favourite wrote this letter just a few days before his death, when he was staying at Rycote. This is the house where Elizabeth had lodged on her way to Woodstock after her imprisonment in the Tower in 1554, and she and Dudley had stayed there together in happier times as guests of Sir Henry and Lady Norris. The queen was grief-stricken at the death of her favourite on 4 September 1588. Years later, when she died, this letter was found in a casket by her bed. She had inscribed it ‘his Last lettar’.
‘I most humbly besech your majeste to pardon your poore old servant to be this bold in sending to know how my gratious lady doth and what ease of her late paine she findes, being the chefest thinge in the world I doe prey for & for hir to have good health and longe lyfe/ for my none poore case, I contyndue still your meddycyn [medicine] and finde yt amended much better than with any other thinge that hath byn given me. Thus hoping to finde perfect cure at the bath, with the contynduance of my wontyd preyer for your majesty’s most happy preservacion. I humbly kyss your foote. From your old lodging at Rycott this Thursday morning reddy to take on my Journey.
by your most faythful and obedyent servant. R Leycester.
[postscript] Even as I had wrytten thus much I receyved your majesty’s token by young Tracye.