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 was son of Robert earl of Leicester by the lady Douglas Sheffield,

was son of Robert earl of Leicester by the lady Douglas Sheffield, and born at Sheen in Surrey, in 1573. His birth, it is said, was carefully concealed, as well to prevent the queen’s knowledge of the earl’s engagements with his mother, as to hide it from the countess of Essex, to whom he was then contracted, if not married; but this latter assertion is surely doubtful, as the countess of Essex was not a widow until 1576 (See Devereux, Walter.) Sir Robert, however, was considered and treated as his lawful son till the earl’s marriage with the lady Essex, which was about 1578: and then he was declared to be only his natural issue by lady Douglas. Out of her hands the earl was very desirous to get him, in order to put him under the care of sir Edward Horsey, governor of the Isle of Wight; which some have imagined to have been, not with any view to the child’s disadvantage, for he always loved him tenderly, but with a thought of bringing him upon the stage at some proper time, as his natural son by another lady. He was not able to get him for some time: but at last effecting it, he sent him to school at Offingham in Sussex, in 1583, and four years after to Christ Church in Oxford. In 1588 his father died, and left him, after the decease of his uncle Ambrose, his castle of Kenilworth, the lordships of Denbigh and Chirk, and the bulk of his estate, which before he was of age he in a great measure enjoyed, notwithstanding the enmity borne him by the countess dowager of Leicester. He was now reckoned one of the finest gentlemen in England, in his person tall, well-­shaped, having a fresh and fine complexion, but red-haired; learned beyond his age, more especially in the mathematics; and of parts equal if not superior to any of his family. Add to all this, that he was very expert in his exercises, and particularly in riding the great horse, in which he was allowed to excel any man of his time.