[ No portrait of Sir Henry has survived.]

My candidate for Vertumnus is Sir Henry Killigrew, friend and brother-in-law of Lord Burghley.

In 1592 Sir Henry Killigrew had reached the peak of his career as a diplomat, having given Elizabeth longer service than anyone but his former brother-in-law William Cecil (Killigrew was married for 18 years to the sister of Cecil's wife). A sincere Protestant, Killigrew had been the Queen's loyal servant since the dangerous time she had been mere 'Princess Elizabeth'. Nevertheless, she once confided to Leicester that she found him "dull" (Miller, p.242).

As his biographer poignantly notes "Despite his long career and his many valuable services Killigrew never achieved greatness or power in the councils of the government", and was referred to, even in the letters of friends, as "little" Harry Killigrew. Although cultured and learned he "preferred to occupy a subordinate role supporting the policies of more dominant personalities..." (Miller, p.254). He was however the most frequent emissary for his queen, who sent him on numerous foreign missions. She never thought him worthy of appointment to the Privy Council, however, and even his highest honour came not from her but from the Earl of Essex, who bestowed a knighthood after Killigrew served with him on the Normandy campaign of 1591. Along with two other senior advisers Killigrew had been attached to the force by Elizabeth, largely to restrain and protect her reckless young favourite. Within a short time of landing the English forces were attacked by the usual lack of pay, quickly followed by hunger, disease and desertion. While Essex and his young friends performed gallant service in the field, little Harry Killigrew undertook duller tasks - rounding up deserters, recompensing aggrieved French allies robbed by English soldiers, carefully overseeing supplies and twice paying heavily for them from his own pocket. His relationship with Essex must have been bedevilled both by his Cecilian ties and his tainted status as Elizabeth's appointee; his reports back to her however soften the tone of the Earl's impatient response to her commands.

In brief, Killigrew was not an alpha male but a gopher, albeit a worthy and respected one. He was skilled at keeping his head down. Though Essex wooed him with a knighthood Killigrew did not attach himself to the Earl's party, though his son-in-law Sir Henry Neville was to do so with disastrous consequences. When Neville was arrested for complicity in the Essex revolt the affronted Killigrew refused to accept his own daughter back into his house until ordered to do so by the Privy Council.

Vertumnus is a messenger, trotting about to do Summer's bidding. Killigrew was a career diplomat: "Over a 24 year period of active service under Elizabeth, he went on nineteen missions, a record unequalled in the annals of Tudor diplomacy," (Miller, p.252). Among extroverts however he did not shine. During his time as a diplomat in Scotland the hardbitten Borderers dismissed him as "but a letter-bearer and my lord basket-maker." (P.R.O. S.P. 52/26 f. 76).

Vertumnus sometimes referred to as 'Harry' or 'Harry Baker': Bacchus asks him for drink and Will Sommers asks for bread. Henry Killigrew's image, to a younger generation, may not have been that of revered elder diplomat but of a fusspot obsessed with the unglamorous trivia of campaigning - the supplies, the bread and beer.