"Her agent, curiously, was Jane Dormer"

Portrait believed to be of Jane Dormer by Antonis Mor van Dashorst. 16th century
Public DomainPortrait believed to be of Jane Dormer by Antonis Mor van Dashorst. 16th century - Credit: Wikimedia Commons
 Jane Dormer became a friend and confidante of Mary when Jane was only about sixteen years old and Mary twenty years her senior.  She married Dom Gomez Suarez de Figueroa of Cordova, Duke of Feria, a close friend of Philip II and his first ambassador to Elizabeth I's court.  Although the pair first met in 1554, they did not marry until 1558, after Mary's death.  A staunch Catholic, Jane nevertheless maintained a correspondence with Elizabeth until her death in 1612.

 

David Starkey cites The Life of Jane Dormer as the source of much of what we know about Philip, as well as Jane Dormer herself.  Starkey describes her as '...along with Elizabeth herself,...one of the most interesting women of the age'.  Like Elizabeth's, Jane's family were torn by religious differences.  Jane's father, Sir William Dormer,  remained a committed Catholic, while her mother, Mary Sidney, was a Protestant.  Although Jane knew Elizabeth from the time Edward VI reigned, the Catholic Mary was given her loyalty, especially during the last years of Mary's life.  On this occasion, when Mary knew she had little time left, she sent Jane to Hatfield with jewels for Elizabeth and asked her to promise that, when she succeeded Mary as Queen, Elizabeth would settle her debts and retain the Catholic religion as it had been revived under Mary.  According to Jane Dormer, Elizabeth replied 'that the earth might open and swallow her alive, if she were not a true Roman Catholic'.  Whether or not Jane Dormer (and indeed Mary herself) believed her, is questionable.