Who Was … Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey?


Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was the eldest son of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. He was executed on Tower Hill just days before Henry VIII’s death in 1547 for treason. Surrey was one of the founders of English poetry who, along with Thomas Wyatt, introduced the sonnet into English. He had been raised with Henry VIII’s bastard son by Bessie Blount, Henry Fitzroy, and his sister, Mary, would marry Henry Fitzroy.

Name: Henry Howard

Title/s: Earl of Surrey / Knight of the Garter

Birth: 1517 (exact date unknown) at Hunsdon, Hertfordshire (England)

Death: 19 January 1547 (beheaded on Tower Hill, London for treason)

Burial: Church of St Michael the Archangel, Framlingham, Suffolk (England)

Spouse: Frances de Vere, Countess of Surrey c.1516-1577

Children: Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk c.1535-1572 / Jane Neville, Countess of Westmorland c.1537-1593 / Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton c.1540-1614 / Margaret Scrope, Baroness Scrope of Bolton c.1542-1592 / Catherine Berkeley, Baroness Berkeley 1539-1596

Parents: Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk 1473-1554 & Elizabeth Stafford, Duchess of Norfolk c.1494-1558

Siblings: Catherine Stanley, Countess of Derby ?-1530 / Mary Fitzroy, Duchess of Richmond 1519-1557 / Thomas Howard, 1st Viscount Bindon c.1520-c.1582

Noble Connections: Henry Howard was the eldest son of the Duke of Norfolk and would have been the 4th Duke of Norfolk, but he died before his father. His mother was descended from the Dukes of Buckingham, so he could trace his ancestry to both Edward III and Edward I. His sister, Mary, married the bastard son of Henry VIII, Henry Fitzroy. His cousins, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, were both married to Henry VIII.

Controversy: Henry Howard was executed for treason just days before Henry VIII’s death. His father only escaped the axeman because of Henry VIII’s death.

Works of Fiction:

  • Darcey Bonnette, Secrets of the Tudor Court (2011)

Portrayals on Screen:

  • David O’Hara, The Tudors, 2010, 9 episodes

Further Reading:

  • Edmond Bapst, Two Gentleman Poets at the Court of Henry VIII: George Boleyn and Henry Howard (2013)
  • Jessie Childs, Henry VIII’s Last Victim: The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (2006)
  • Robert Hutchinson, House of Treason: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Dynasty (2011)
  • Robert Hutchinson, The Last Days of Henry VIII (2005)
  • Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey 1546
  • Henry Howard Funeral Effigy at Framlingham

Who Was … Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester?


Lettice Knollys was the wife of two great nobles – Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, and Elizabeth I’s favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. It is also possible that she was an illegitimate granddaughter of Henry VIII through her grandmother, Mary Boleyn’s, affair with Henry, possibly resulting in her mother, Catherine Carey. Lettice lived in the reigns of six different monarchs – Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I.

Name: Lettice Knollys (at birth) / Lettice Devereux (married name) / Lettice Dudley (married name)

Title/s: Viscountess Hereford /Countess of Essex /Countess of Leicester

Birth: 8 November 1543 at Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire, England

Death: 25 December 1634 at Drayton Bassett, Staffordshire, England

Burial: Beauchamp Chapel of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick, England

Spouse: Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex 1541-1576 / Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester 1532-1588 / Sir Christopher Blount c.1555 – 1601

Children: (by Walter Devereux) Penelope Blount, Countess of Devonshire c.1563-1607 / Dorothy Percy, Countess of Northumberland c.1564-1619 / Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex 1565-1601 / Walter Devereux 1569-1591 / (by Robert Dudley) Robert Dudley, Baron Denbigh 1579-1584

Parents: Sir Francis Knollys c.1511-1596 & Catherine Carey c.1524-1569

Siblings: Sir Henry Knollys c.1541-1582 / Mary Stalker 1542-1593 / William Knollys, 1st Earl of Banbury c.1544-1632 / Edward Knollys 1546-1580 / Sir Robert Knollys 1547-1626 / Elizabeth Leighton 1549-c.1605 / Richard Knollys 1552-1596 / Sir Thomas Knollys c.1558-c.1596 / Sir Francis Knollys c.1552-1643 / Anne West, Baroness de la Warr 1555-1608 / Katherine Fitzgerald, Baroness Offaley c.1560-1632 / Dudley Knollys 1562-1562

Noble Connections: Lettice was the grand-daughter of Mary Boleyn through her daughter, Catherine Carey, and thus the great-niece of Anne Boleyn, second wife to Henry VIII. Lettice’s mother was a favourite of Elizabeth I and Lettice herself married Elizabeth’s favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, as her second husband, having first been married to Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex.

Continue reading “Who Was … Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester?”

Who Was … Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales?


Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, was the Lancastrian heir to the throne. He was the only child of the Lancastrian king, Henry VI, and his wife Margaret of Anjou. His father was overthrown in 1461 and Edward went into exile in Scotland and then France with his mother. He was the last heir apparent to die in battle, when he was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, allegedly by the future Richard III.

Name: Edward of Westminster / Edward of Lancaster

Title/s: Prince of Wales

Birth: 13 October 1453 at Westminster Palace, London, England

Death: 4 May 1471 at Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England

Buried: Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, England

Spouse: Anne Neville 1456-1485

Children: None

Parents: Henry VI 1421-1471 & Margaret of Anjou 1430-1482

Siblings: None

Noble Connections: Edward was the Prince of Wales, son of Henry VI of England. Through his mother, Margaret of Anjou, he was also related to the Kings of France. Through his wife, Anne Neville, he was also related to the Earls of Warwick, and distantly to Edward IV.

Continue reading “Who Was … Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales?”

Spotlight – Francis Drake


Name: Francis Drake

Title/s: Sir

Birth / Death: c. 1540 – 27 January 1596

Spouse: Mary Newman ?-1581 / Elizabeth Sydenham 1562-?

Children: None

Parents: Edmund Drake 1518-1585 & Mary Mylwaye ?-?

Siblings: John c.1552-1573 / Thomas 1556-1606 / Edward c.1550-1568 / Joseph c.1554-1572 / William c.1525-c.1581

Noble Connections: He was awarded a knighthood by Elizabeth I in 1581. Drake’s godfather was Francis Russell, Earl of Bedford. He was made a naval officer by John Hawkins, who was pivotal in the Armada expedition. Continue reading “Spotlight – Francis Drake”

Who Was … Catherine of Valois?


Catherine of Valois is often seen as the matriarch of the Tudor dynasty. Her first husband was Henry V, the victor of Agincourt, and after his death she married her servant, Owen Tudor. Catherine was the mother of Henry VI by Henry V, and the grandmother of Henry VII through her son, Edmund Tudor. Catherine was descended from the French royal family, and her first marriage was supposed to seal a peace treaty between England and France.

Name: Catherine of Valois

Title/s: Queen of England

Birth: 27 October 1401 in Paris, France

Death: 3 January 1437 in London, England

Buried: Westminster Abbey, London, England

Spouse: Henry V of England 1420-1422 & Owen Tudor?

Children: Henry VI of England 1421-1471 / Edmund Earl of Richmond 1430-1456 / Jasper Duke of Bedford 1431-1495 / Edward ?-? / Owen ?-? / Margaret 1437-1437

Parents: Charles VI of France 1368-1422 & Isabella of Bavaria 1370-1435

Siblings: Charles 1386-1386 / Jeanne 1388-1390 / Isabella Duchess of Orleans 1389-1409 / Jeanne Duchess of Brittany 1391-1433 / Charles 1392-1401 / Marie 1393-1438 / Michelle 1395-1422 / Louis 1397-1415 / John 1398-1417 / Charles VII of France 1403-1461 / Philip 1407-1407

Noble Connections: Catherine became the grandmother of Henry VII of England through the marriage of her son, Edmund, to Margaret Beaufort. She was the wife of Henry V of England, and the daughter of Charles VI of France. Her sons became Earl of Richmond and Duke of Bedford.

Continue reading “Who Was … Catherine of Valois?”

Who Was … Jasper Tudor, 1st Duke of Bedford?


Jasper Tudor was brother-in-law to Margaret Beaufort, and thus uncle to Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty. He was the son of Catherine of Valois and her second husband, Owen Tudor. It has been suggested that Jasper was in fact in love with his sister-in-law, Margaret, and would have liked to marry her after his brother’s death. Jasper accompanied Henry VII into exile in France in 1471 after Henry VI’s death and Edward IV’s seizure of the throne.

Name: Jasper Tudor

Title/s: Earl of Pembroke / Duke of Bedford

Birth: c. November 1431 at Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England

Death: 21 December 1495 at Thornbury Castle, Gloucestershire, England

Buried: Keynsham Abbey, Somerset, England

Spouse: Catherine Woodville c.1458-1497

Children: None

Parents: Owen Tudor c.1400-1461 & Catherine of Valois 1401-1437

Siblings: Edmund Earl of Richmond 1430-1456 / Edward ?-?

Noble Connections: Jasper Tudor was a half-brother to Henry VI, as a son of Catherine of Valois from her second marriage, as well as being uncle to Henry VII, and brother-in-law to Margaret Beaufort. His mother-in-law was Jacquetta of Luxembourg and his sister-in-law was Elizabeth Woodville.

Continue reading “Who Was … Jasper Tudor, 1st Duke of Bedford?”

Who Was … Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley?


Thomas Seymour was brother to Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour, and to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector to Edward VI. He married Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Katherine Parr, after Henry’s death, and supposedly then proposed marriage to Princesses Mary and Elizabeth after her death. He was executed on the orders of his brother and nephew (the two Edwards) for treason in 1549.

Name: Thomas Seymour

Title/s: Baron Seymour of Sudeley

Birth: c.1508, probably at Wolf Hall, Wiltshire, England

Death: 20 March 1549 on Tower Hill, London, England

Buried: Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London, England

Spouse: Katherine Parr 1512-1548

Children: Mary Seymour 1548-?

Parents: Sir John Seymour 1474-1536 and Margery Wentworth 1478-1550

Siblings: John Seymour ?-1510 / Edward Seymour Duke of Somerset c.1500-1552 / Henry Seymour 1503-1578 / Anthony Seymour ?-1528 / Jane Seymour c.1509-1537 / Margery Seymour ?-1528 / Elizabeth Paulet Marchioness of Winchester 1518-1568 / Dorothy Leventhorpe 1515-1552

Noble Connections: His sister, Jane, became Queen of England as the third wife of Henry VIII, and through this marriage he was uncle to Edward VI. His brother, Edward, was Lord Protector during the minority of Edward VI, and he married the dowager queen, Katherine Parr.

Continue reading “Who Was … Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley?”

Who Was … Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury?


Thomas Cranmer was Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry VIII and Edward VI, and briefly under Mary I, and was seen as a leader of the English Reformation. He was responsible for the Book of Common Prayer in 1549 and supported many reformers from England and abroad. Cranmer was arrested on the orders of Mary I for heresy, and initially recanted before dismissing his recantation and being burned alive in 1556.

Name: Thomas Cranmer

Title/s: Archbishop of Canterbury

Birth: 2 July 1489 in Aslockton, Nottinghamshire, England

Death: 21 March 1556 in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England

Buried: Martyr’s Memorial, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England

Spouse: None (unofficially, Margarete Hetzel 1511-1576)

Children: Margaret Cranmer 1536-1568 / Thomas Cranmer 1538-1598

Parents: Thomas Cranmer 1467-1501 & Agnes Hatfield 1469-1556

Siblings: Agnes Andrews 1491-1556

Noble Connections: Cranmer was patronised by Anne Boleyn, Queen to Henry VIII. He was close to both Henry VIII and Edward VI and was instrumental in allowing Jane Grey to take the throne in 1553.

Continue reading “Who Was … Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury?”

Spotlight – Kat Ashley


Name: Kat Ashley / Katherine Ashley / Katherine Champernowne

Title/s: Lady Ashley

Birth / Death: c.1502 – c.1565

Spouse: Sir John Ashley 1507-1595 (m. 1545)

Children: None

Parents: Sir John Champernowne 1458-1503 & Margaret Courtenay c.1459-1504

Siblings: None

Noble Connections: Her niece, Joan Champernowne, married Sir Anthony Denny, a close confidante of Henry VIII. She became the governess of Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I) and was her Chief Lady of the Bedchamber when Elizabeth became queen. Katherine married John Ashley, Elizabeth’s senior gentleman attendant, and a relation of Anne Boleyn. Continue reading “Spotlight – Kat Ashley”

Spotlight – Elizabeth Boleyn


Name: Elizabeth Boleyn (nee Howard)

Title/s: Lady Boleyn / Lady Rochford / Countess of Wiltshire & Ormond

Birth / Death: c.1480 – 3 April 1538

Spouse: Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire & Ormond c.1477-1539

Children: Mary Stafford c.1499-1543 / Anne Boleyn c.1501-1536 / George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford c.1504-1536

Parents: Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk 1443-1524 & Elizabeth Tilney c.1444-1497

Siblings: Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk 1473-1554 / Edward Howard c.1476-1513 / Edmund Howard c.1478-1539 / John Howard c.1482-1503 / Henry Howard / Charles Howard c.1483-1512 / Henry Howard the Younger / Richard Howard c.1487-1517 / Muriel Grey, Viscountess Lisle 1486-1512 (full siblings) / William Howard, 1st Baron Howard c.1510-1573 / Thomas Howard 1511-1537 / Richard Howard ?-1517 / Dorothy Stanley, Countess of Derby c.1511-? / Anne de Vere, Countess of Oxford 1518-1558 / Catherine Daubeney, Countess of Bridgewater c.1499-1548 / Elizabeth Radclyffe, Countess of Sussex c.1500-1534 Continue reading “Spotlight – Elizabeth Boleyn”