Dear America Wiki
Dear America Wiki

"This is my book. It was not always mine. Long ago, someone very important gave it to Father, and told him to give it to a lady. My mother can read a little, but cannot write, so he kept it for me."
—Tilly Middleton[3]

Lady Matilda Lumsden (née Middleton; born September 7, 1540), also known as Tilly, was the daughter of Mistress and Master Middleton. During her childhood, she lived at the Tower of London, where her father worked as a physician. Tilly later married Nicholas Lumsden, who worked with Francis Walsingham for Queen Elizabeth.


Early life[]

Matilda, nicknamed "Tilly", was born on 7 September 1540 to Mistress and Master Middleton.[2] She shared her birthday with the then Princess Elizabeth.[4] Tilly grew up at the Tower of London, where her father worked as a physician. She had an older brother, William, and two younger brothers, Jack and Harry. She had another brother, named Edward, who was born before her and died before reaching the age of two.

Queen Mary's reign[]

In 1553, Tilly's father gave her diary which he had received from one of the prisoners of the Tower. She later found a letter to "EL" hidden in her diary, and began to suspect that it was for Princess Elizabeth from her mother, Anne Boleyn. The following June, Tilly's mother gave birth to girl, baptized Susannah, whom did not live for long. King Edward VI passed away in July, naming his cousin Lady Jane Grey as his heir instead of his sister Mary. Tilly watched Jane's procession as she made her way to the Tower. Jane ruled for only nine days, before Mary was declared the rightful queen. Meanwhile, Tilly's friend Tom from the Royal Menagerie had begun avoiding her though they eventually made up.

Though Jane and several others were imprisoned, Tilly had hope that Mary would be "good, kind ruler." However, after Wyatt's Rebellion, Jane was sentenced to death. Tilly attended her execution on 12 February 1554, which made her quite sad. On the same day, Tilly made a new friend, Frances Lea. Her parents much preferred Frances over Tom, whom they likely saw as low-born. Frances was somewhat of a troublemaker, which sometimes led to friction with Tilly. Nevertheless, they always made up. Princess Elizabeth was later imprisoned at the Tower for a short time. Tilly kept an eye out on opportunities to give her the letter. In August, Tilly's mother gave birth to twins, Mary and Susannah "Susy".

After the twins' birth, Tilly wrote in her diary less. She was busy helping care for her younger siblings, though she also only had a few pages left to spare. By late 1555, Tilly realized that she was wrong about Mary, whom had begun burning Protestants at the stake. By March 1556, Tilly's mother had had another baby, named Edward. In 1558, Tilly turned eighteen and reflected on her past. She was still close with Frances, but had grown apart from Tom. The following month, after reigning for six years, Mary died childless. Elizabeth inherited the crown and stayed at the Tower for her coronation. Tilly finally seized her chance to give her the letter and was dubbed a "faithful subject" by Elizabeth.


Every year after meeting Queen Elizabeth, Tilly received a new diary from her for her birthday. Through her connection to the Queen, Tilly was introduced to Nicholas Lumsden, whom she married. Her husband worked for the Queen as a spy under Francis Walsingham. His work kept him away from home often. They had six children together, Richard, Joseph, Harry, Catherine "Kitty", George, and Elizabeth "Beeba". Tilly's best friend, Frances, married Tilly's elder brother, William, and they had two children, Kathryn and Edmund Middleton.

Babington Plot[]


Tilly's daughter, Kitty

"While Mary lives, the Queen must constantly fear assassination. That, Kitty, is no way to live."
—Tilly expresses her loyalty towards Queen Elizabeth[5]

In November 1583, Tilly gave her daughter Kitty a diary and encouraged her to record her private thoughts in it. The same year, Sir Francis uncovered another Catholic plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and place Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots on the throne. When Kitty asked her mother about Mary, Tilly expressed sympathy for Elizabeth having to constantly fear assassination. Around the same time, Joseph's new friend Anthony Babington began visiting frequently, usually with other associates. The following spring, several of Tilly's brothers came with their families for a long visit while Nicholas was home. In August, the family went to visit Nicholas's brother in the countryside.

Tilly sprained her uncle in November 1584, which left her only able to move sparingly for some days. In February 1585, her son Joseph told Tilly about Kitty's fears of a Catholic rebellion. She comforted Kitty, assuring her that "steps [were] taken against" such an event. Later the same month, the family visited Nicholas's parents for a month. In September, Tilly punished Kitty for going to see a play by confining her to her room. The family was invited to Sir Francis's home for Twelfth Night in January 1586. Over the next several months, Tilly kept up with the ensuing Babington Plot through her husband and Sir Francis. The conspirators were caught, including Mary Stuart. In October, the Lumsdens' were honored by Queen Elizabeth.

Personality and traits[]

Tilly was extremely curious and spent many hours wandering the Tower of London. Her mother was often angry with her for these wanderings as she needed her at home. As she grew older, Tilly became more responsible. She helped her mother much more often with her younger siblings and the cooking. Tilly often fought with her brother William, though he became kinder to her when she was older. He even remarked that she would "one day become a good housewife." She also had a talent for sewing, which she continued to enjoy well into her adulthood.

As an adult, Tilly was decidedly different from her own mother, being kind and patient with her children. However, unlike her mother, Tilly had servants to help her with the cooking, cleaning, and child rearing. She rarely punished her children, opting to scold Kitty when she ruined her shoes and clothes.

Family tree[]

The Middleton-Lumsden Family Tree
Master Middleton
Mistress Middleton
William Middleton
Frances Lea
(b. 1540)
Edward Middleton
(d. 1540s)
Matilda Middleton
(b. 1540)
Nicholas Lumsden
Jack Middleton
(b. 1550)
Harry Middleton
(b. 1552)
Susannah Middleton
(b/d. 1553)
Mary Middleton
(b. 1554)
Susannah Middleton
(b. 1554)
Edward Middleton
(b. 1556)
Kathryn Middleton
(b. 1567)
Edmund Middleton
Richard Lumsden
Joseph Lumsden
Catherine Lumsden
(b. 1571)
Harry Lumsden
George Lumsden
Elizabeth Lumsden

Behind the scenes[]



See also[]

My Story characters
Main characters

Nebka | Hatshepsut "Asha" | Claudia | Bran | Tor Scaldbane | Jenkin Lloyd | Eva De Puebla
Elinor Valjean | Lady Jane Grey | Matilda "Tilly" Middleton | Catherine "Kitty" Lumsden | Thomas Hobbs
Remember "Mem" Whipple | Thomas Adamson | Alice Paynton | Susannah Makepeace | Ignatius Sancho
Euphemia Grant | Mary Wade | Elizabeth "Lizzie" Harvey | Isabelle | James Grant | Mary Prince | Bob Jenkins
Dick Maybury | Eliza Helsted | Phyllis McCormack | Lily Hicks | Michael Pope | Hanuman Singh | Clotee Henley
Will Reed | Edith Lorrimer | Jabulani | Sophia Duleep Singh | Florence Finch | Flora Bonnington | Dollie Baxter
Margaret Anne Brady | Jack Fairfax | Daphne "Daffy" Rowntree | Billy Stevens | Noor Inayat Khan
Eleanor Rhys Davies | Rebecca "Becky" Mortkowicz | Harry Woods | Princess Margaret | Sophie Ridel
Peter Rogers | Kitty Langley | Edith "Edie" Benson | Tim Jackson | Andrew "Andy" Pope | Paul Lelaud
Violet Debuchy

Supporting characters

Henry VII | Henry VIII | Catherine of Aragon | Anne Boleyn | Jane Seymour | Anne of Cleves
Catherine Howard | Catherine Parr | Edward VI | Mary I | Elizabeth II

Lists of characters by book

Pyramid of Secrets | Princess of Egypt | Pompeii | Roman Invasion | Viking Blood | Agincourt | My Tudor Queen
Anne Boleyn and Me | Lady Jane Grey | Bloody Tower | The Queen's Spies | Armada | Mayflower | Civil War
The Great Plague | Highway Girl | Ignatius Sancho | The '45 Rising | No Way Back | Transported
The Fall of the Blade | Trafalgar | Mary Prince | Waterloo | Dodger! | Mill Girl | The Hunger | The Crystal Palace
Crimea | Indian Mutiny | Slave Girl | The Sweep's Boy | Victorian Workhouse | Zulu War | Princess Sophia Duleep Singh
Factory Girl | Twentieth-Century Girl | Suffragette | Titanic | The Trenches | Flying Ace | Road to War
Noor-un-Nissa Inayat Khan | Berlin Olympics | Nowhere to Run | The Storm to Come | Battle of Britain
Wartime Princess | Sophie's Secret War | U-Boat Hunter | War Nurse | Blitz | Desert Danger | D-Day
Spy Smuggler | Codename Céline | London Stories

My Royal Story characters

Cleopatra VII | Beatrice Townhill | Elizabeth I | Mary, Queen of Scots | Marie Antoinette | Victoria | Anastasia

Lists of My Royal Story characters by book

Cleopatra | Henry VIII's Wives | Elizabeth | Mary, Queen of Scots | Marie Antoinette | Victoria | Anastasia

My True Story characters

Dora Thewlis | John "Jack" Cornwell | Joe Read | Susan | Vera

Lists of My True Story characters by book

Give Us the Vote! | Standing Alone | Hero at Dunkirk | What If They Find Us?