On this day in 1542 – Agnes Howard, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk was pardoned by King Henry VIII

On 5th May 1542 Agnes Howard, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk was pardoned by King Henry VIII after spending five months in the Tower of London following the fall of Queen Catherine Howard.

Originally arrested in December 1541 after her stepson was sent to search her home in Lambeth, the Dowager Duchess was discovered attempting to destroy documents by Francis Dereham and William Damport. During her time in the Tower her niece and Queen, Catherine Howard was beheaded on charge of adultery and treason. The Dowager Duchess was suspected of knowing about Catherine’s behaviour with both Henry Manox and Francis Dereham whilst Katherine in her household.

Soon after the Duchess’ imprisonment her daughter Anne and eldest son, William Howard along with his wife were taken to the Tower. Her stepson in a letter to the King in an attempt to distance himself from his step family denounced the Dowager Duchess and her family. All were originally sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Dowager Duchess was never brought to trial due to her age. The Howard family were pardoned after Catherine Howard’s death and after the Privy Council urged King Henry VIII to show leniency they were released.

The Dowager Duchess left the Tower to find that many of her lands and her goods were forfeited to the crown she was left penniless. On 20th May the Dowager Duchess had some of her homes returned to her the biggest exception was Norfolk House, her main home. This was instead granted to her stepson, the third Duke of Norfolk in January 1543.

Agnes Howard

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