The Murder of Sir Thomas Overbury

A Jacobean Melodrama

Chapter 1: Dramatis Personae

The murder of Sir Thomas Overbury was the cause célèbre of the Jacobean age - it involved a joust, an accident, adultery, a salacious divorce case, sorcery, poisoning, trial of an Earl and a Countess, and several hangings, so we proceed in dramatic style...

Dramatis Personae, in order of rank:

King James VI & I, King of Great Britain

Anne of Denmark, His Queen

Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, the King’s eldest son

Charles, Duke of York, the King’s second son

Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton

Northampton’s nephew, Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk

Suffolk’s daughter, Lady Frances Howard, Countess of Essex

Lady Essex’ husband, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

Robert Carr (Kerr), Viscount Rochester, the King’s Favourite

Sir Edward Coke, Lord Chief Justice

Sir Thomas Overbury, Rochester’s very close friend

George Villiers, the King’s Favourite

Sir William Wade, Lieutenant of the Tower

Sir Gerard Elwes, Lieutenant of the Tower, a dependent of Northampton’s

Anne Turner, a widow, and starcher of ruffs

Dr Simon Forman, a physician dismissed from the College of Physicians, and a wizard.

Dr Franklin, a poisoner

Mary Wood, a ‘cunning’ woman