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Allegorical portrait of Sir John Luttrell by Hans Eworth, 1550.

Sir John Luttrell (c. 1518/19 - 10 July 1551) was an English soldier, diplomat, and courtier under Henry VIII and Edward VI. He served under Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford (later Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector) in Scotland and France. His service is commemorated in an allegorical portrait by Hans Eworth.


Life and military career

John Luttrell was the eldest son of Sir Andrew Luttrell of Dunster Castle, Somerset by his wife, Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Wyndham. He married Mary, daughter of Sir John Griffith, by whom he had three daughters, Catherine, Dorothy, and Mary.[1]

Luttrell accompanied Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford in the first stages of the military expeditions to Scotland known as the Rough Wooing and was present at the taking of Edinburgh and Leith. He was knighted at Leith by Hertford on 11 May 1544, immediately following the capture and burning of Edinburgh.[2]

In 1546, as the border wars in Scotland dragged on, Luttrell accompanied Hertford to France where the earl had been appointed commander of the English forces at the captured port of Boulogne. Luttrell commanded a force of 100 men[2] during five months of "fast moving raids, vicious skirmishes, and ambushes" between Hertford's army and the French.[3]

After the death of Henry VIII on 28 January 1547, Hertford, elevated to Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector to his nephew Edward VI, pursued Henry's goal of forcibly allying Scotland to England by marrying Edward to the young Mary, Queen of Scots. In September 1547, Luttrell accompanied Somerset's army into Scotland, and led the vanguard of 300 men at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, where the Scots were resoundingly defeated.[4] In the aftermath of Pinkie, Luttrell was appointed captain of the English base on the island of Inchcolm in the Firth of Forth, from whence he harassed Scottish shipping with little success.[5] Eventually the base was abandoned, and Luttrell was sent north to take command of Dundee in March 1548.[6]

He was trusted as a diplomatist no less than as a soldier, and, in March 1549, he was appointed one of the two English commissioners to treat with the Earls of Argyll, Athol and Errol and others, with a view to the expulsion of the French (who were allied with the Scots against the English) from Scotland, and a marriage between Edward and Mary. The negotiation, however, came to nothing.[7] The tide was already turning in Scotland's favour, and in February 1550 Luttrell was captured and held for ransom by the Scots and their French allies following the final assault on Broughty Craig.[1][8] He was returned to England in an exchange of prisoners and was rewarded with a gift of land in July 1550 by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, who had seized control of the Council from Somerset the prior year.[9]

Sir John Luttrell died in an epidemic of the sweating sickness on 10 July 1551, while preparing for an expedition to Morocco with his uncle, Sir Thomas Wyndham.[1] [10] His three daughters were co-heiresses to one third part of his estates, the other two-thirds devolving, by two entails and Sir John's will, upon his next brother, Thomas Luttrell.[1]


An allegorical portrait of John Luttrell with the goddesses Pax, Venus, Minerva, and the Three Graces by Hans Eworth is thought to commemorate Luttrell's service with the English forces in Boulogne as well as the subsequent Treaty of Boulogne (24 March 1550) which formally ended England's long war with Scotland and France. The painting's complex allusions to Luttrell's military service and to the role of sea power in the war with Scotland and France were first published by Dame Frances Yates in 1967 [11]

The original--signed with Eworth's "HE" monogram--was donated to the Courtauld Institute of Art by Lord Lee of Farnham in 1932. The painting was in "badly damaged" condition when it was given to the Institute, although it has subsequently been conserved and restored.[12] A well-preserved copy, which was made by George Luttrell in 1591 and which now hangs at Dunster Castle, was the source of much of Dame Yates' research.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d "Luttrell of Dunster Castle". A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain. Colburn. 1835. pp. 143. Retrieved 2008-11-15.  
  2. ^ a b "Sir John Luttrell". Retrieved 2008-11-15.  
  3. ^ Phillips. p. 178
  4. ^ Phillips, p. 197
  5. ^ Phillips, p. 207
  6. ^ Phillips, p. 212
  7. ^ H. C. Maxwell-Lyte, A History of Dunster and of the Families of Mohun and Luttrell, 1909, quoted at "Sir John Luttrell of Dunster Castle". Retrieved 2008-11-16.  
  8. ^ Tabitha Barber in Hearn, pp. 65-66
  9. ^ Phillips, p. 254
  10. ^ Waterhouse, p. 32
  11. ^ "The Allegorical Portraits of Sir John Luttrell", in Essays in the History of Art Presented to Rudolf Wittkower (London, 1967), pp. 149–60, cited and summarized in Hearn, p. 65, and Cooper, p. 22
  12. ^ a b Van Claerbergen, 2000, 1.


This article contains text from A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland Enjoying Territorial Possessions Or High Official Rank: But Uninvested with Heritable Honours by John Burke, 1835, a document now in the public domain.
This article also contains text from A History of Dunster and of the Families of Mohun and Luttrell by H. C. Maxwell-Lyte, 1909, a document now in the public domain.
  • van Claerbergen, Ernst Vegelin, The Portrait of Sir John Luttrell: A Tudor Mystery, London: Jistlynn Ltd., 2000, 1.
  • Cooper, Tanya, A Guide to Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2008, ISBN9781855143937
  • Hearn, Karen, ed. Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530-1630. New York: Rizzoli, 1995. ISBN 0-8478-1940-X
  • Maxwell-Lyte, Sir H. C., A History of Dunster and of the Families of Mohun and Luttrell, 1909, quoted at "Sir John Luttrell of Dunster Castle". Retrieved 2008-11-16.  
  • Phillips, Gervase, The Anglo-Scots Wars 1513-1550, Boydell Press, ISBN 0851157467
  • "Sir John Luttrell". Retrieved 2008-11-15.  
  • Strong, Roy, The English Icon: Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture, 1969, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London
  • Waterhouse, Ellis, Painting in Britain, 1530-1790, 4th Edn, 1978, Penguin Books (now Yale History of Art series)


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