Shrewsbury, Elizabeth Talbot, countess of (shrōzˈbərē, shrōzˈ–) [key], 1520–1608, English noblewoman, known as Bess of Hardwick. At the age of 15 she married Robert Barlow, who died shortly afterward. She was married and widowed twice more, inheriting several large estates, before she was married in 1568 to George Talbot, 6th earl of Shrewsbury. The marriage (1574) of her daughter Elizabeth to Charles Stuart, brother of Lord Darnley, angered Queen Elizabeth I because Stuart had a claim to the throne, and the countess was sent to the Tower of London for three months. The countess quarreled with her husband and accused (1584) him of a love affair with Mary Queen of Scots, whose custodian he was (1569–84), but the couple was nominally reconciled before his death (1590). She built a number of great mansions, including Hardwick Hall.
See biography by M. W. Lovell (2007).