Elizabeth ("Bess") Raleigh, or Elizabeth Throckmorton (April 16, 1565 – c. 1647), also Elizabeth Throgmorton, was Sir Walter Raleigh's wife, and a Lady of the Privy Chamber (lady-in-waiting) to Queen Elizabeth I of England. Their secret marriage precipitated a long period of royal disfavor for Raleigh.
Bess was the daughter of the diplomat Sir Nicholas Throckmorton and Anne Carew. She and her brother Arthur were courtiers to Elizabeth I, and Bess is said to have been intelligent, forthright, passionate and courageous. In due course she and Raleigh, eleven years her senior, fell in love. Her pregnancy in the summer of 1591 led to their secret marriage; she gave birth to a baby boy named Damerei, after Sir Walter's claimed ancestors, and immediately returned to court. The child died at six months old during the October heat and plague.
The marriage was discovered on May 31, 1592, and the Queen, who required ladies-in-waiting to get her permission to marry, had Raleigh arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London and Bess expelled from court. She obtained quarters near her husband at the Tower, where said child probably died. Elizabeth expected the couple to sue for pardon, but they refused and Raleigh fell into disgrace for five years.
The couple remained devoted to each other, however. Their son Walter was born in 1593. They also had a son named Carew (which was both Bess's mother's maiden name and the name of one of Walter's brothers) whose birthdate is unclear. During Raleigh's absences and imprisonments, Bess capably managed the family business. After Raleigh's execution in 1618, she worked to re-establish his reputation.
It is said that Bess had her husband's head embalmed and carried it around with her for the rest of her life. Carew inherited the relic and when he died it was buried with him.
Elizabeth Throckmorton was a major character in the 2007 film Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and was played by the Australian actress Abbie Cornish.
My Just Desire : The Life of Bess Raleigh, Wife to Sir Walter (ISBN 0-345-45290-9), by Anna Beer
Biography at tudorplace.com.ar
Raleigh biography at U.S. National Park Service
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Raleigh"