London--In a recent ongoing inventory of the extensive and diverse remains within Westminster Abbey a fluke DNA test proved a lead enclosed body in a back-room crypt was actually the remains of one of Britain's most illustrious monarchs.
Queen Elizabeth I (born 1533 deceased 1603) reigned from 1558 to her death, the last Tudor Monarch, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. She may be best known for England's defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 as well as cultivating an era of literary brilliants such as William Shakespeare and world explorers such as Sir Francis Drake.
"We've had some other mix-ups with royal remains at Westminster Abbey," said Dean of Westminster the Very Reverend Dr. Paul Beasley.
"We didn't know where the tomb of James I was for a couple of centuries. In the 1800's researchers had to do quite a bit of poking around to find it. Interesting that they did not catch this issue when they partially opened up the underground vault under Elizabeth I's tomb. The vault contains what was thought to be the stacked lead coffins of Elizabeth I and Mary I of England."
Who is buried in Elizabeth I's coffin?
"Well, that's a bit of a story," admitted the Dean.
Apparently the remains encased in lead are of Grace O'Malley, 16th century Irish Pirate Queen.
Grace O'Malley (anglicized) was a clan chieftain and pirate captain on the West Coast of Ireland from roughly 1530 until 1603. She led during the stormy shift from nominal English sovereignty over local Irish leadership to tight and brutal English control.
In 1593, Grace met personally with Queen Elizabeth I in London to negotiate the release of two sons held captive by the English Governor of Connacht and the return of confiscated property, but whatever gains she got from the meeting quickly eroded in the coming years.
Grace died in 1603, the same year as Queen Elizabeth's death and also the year that marked the end of the Nine Years' War in Ireland, the last great unsuccessful fight of Irish leaders against the encroachment of English control.
No one has known for sure where Grace was buried or what happened to the lost O'Malley clan records.
"Grace O'Malley saw herself in every way as Elizabeth I's equal. She did not bow to The Virgin Queen when they met. Apparently, the pirate queen found her way to have the last laugh and a crafty way to preserve her clan's heritage," Dean Beasley acknowledged.
Found in the coffin tucked under Grace's body was the historic record book of clan O'Malley and a neatly folded pirate flag.