Rosalyn Cousins

Rosalyn Cousins


I have studied at the University of Leeds since 2016, completing both my BA and MA degrees here. During my undergraduate degree I was a member of the Leeds Excellence in the Arts programme. My BA dissertation (supervised by Dr John Gallagher) explored the dispatch of the death warrant for Mary, Queen of Scots. This project introduced me to William Davison, an Elizabethan diplomat and principal secretary, who I continued to research for my MA dissertation (supervised by Professor Stephen Alford).

For my PhD project, I am focussing on the diplomatic careers of William Davison and his colleague Thomas Wilkes, in England and the Low Countries during the 1570s and 1580s.

My PhD is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH).

For the past three years I have been a dissertation mentor for third-year undergraduate students, and I welcome email enquiries from students studying Tudor (particularly Elizabethan) political or diplomatic history.

Scholarships and Awards:

  • School of History Outstanding Achievement Award (MA) (2020)
  • White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities Doctoral Studentship (2020)
  • School of History Taught MA Scholarship (2019)
  • University of Leeds Fee Scholarship (for MA, 2019)


  • “In her Majesties name’: William Davison and Duke Casimir, 1578’, Politics and People in the British Isles symposium, Durham University, April 2022
  • “In my rude opinion’: Counsel and diplomacy in the mid-Elizabethan polity’, Renaissance Society of America annual conference, Dublin, March 2022
  • “Under your honours correction’: The Diplomatic Counsel of William Davison’, School of History PGR Seminar Series, University of Leeds, February 2022
  • “The most sufficient man to serve hir majesty’: William Davison and the Crisis in the Low Countries, 1586’, Northern Early Modern Network conference, Newcastle University, January 2022
  • The most sufficient man to serve hir majesty’: William Davison and the Crisis in the Low Countries, 1586’ (work in progress), Northeast Conference on British Studies (online), October 2021
  • ‘Lord Burghley and the Disgrace of Secretary Davison’, Lord Burghley 500 conference, St John’s College, Cambridge, September 2021
  • ‘William Davison and the Governor-Generalship of the Netherlands, 1586’, Cabinet of Curiosities: Interrupted Ideas Colloquium, University of York (online), July 2020
  • ‘The Show-Trial of William Davison’, Undergraduate Research Experience, University of Leeds, February 2019

Teaching and Mentoring:

  • Postgraduate tutor
    • HIST1300 Primary Sources: Anthony Jenkinson’s Travels strand (Level 1), School of History, University of Leeds, January–June 2022
  • Final Year Project Mentor, School of History, University of Leeds, 2019–2022
  • Leeds Excellence in the Arts workshop leader (Levels 2 and 3), Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures, University of Leeds, February 2021 and November 2021

Research interests

My PhD project explores the diplomatic and political landscape of the 1570s and 1580s through the careers of William Davison and Thomas Wilkes. I aim to develop new ways of understanding the nature of political relationships between diplomats and ministers, beyond traditional (and restrictive) notions of men-of-business and patronage.

I am particularly interested in diplomatic specialisation, patron-client relationships and networks, political mentorship, and understandings of and approaches to counsel, citizenship and service. 


  • MA Modern History (Distinction)
  • BA (Hons) History (First)