On this day in 1536 – Henry FitzRoy died

Henry FitzRoy was the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII and his mistress Elizabeth Blount and was born on 15th June 1519. With his legitimate wife, Katherine of Aragon, pregnant Henry would take up with a mistress and on this occasion it resulted in the birth of a son. Henry had loved wanted a son and heir, something that Katherine had yet given him. As a result Henry formally recognised his illegitimate child as his own. With Bessie Blount’s pregnancy becoming noticeable she was taken from the royal court and housed in the Augustinian priory of St Lawrence at Blackmore, Essex where she would go into confinement and give birth.

The significance of this new born son whose birth was kept secret at the time meant that Henry now had an heir to the throne and appointed Cardinal Wolsey as his godfather. The other godparents are unknown.

Henry named his son after himself and chose the surname of FitzRoy, which stood for ‘son of the King’ Henry, wanted everyone to know that this child was his. Henry even showed his son off to the court although the exact location is unknown but Henry was certainly proud of his new son.

Not much is known about the young Henry until he entered Bridewell Palace in June 1525, it is believed that he was raised in the royal nursery and was regularly at court. It is also believed that Lady Bryan cared for the infant, at the fall of Anne Boleyn in 1536 wrote a letter that stated that she had looked after Henry’s firstborn, Mary as well as the children that followed. This would have included Elizabeth and most likely Henry FitzRoy.

In 1525 Henry FitzRoy was granted his own home, Durham House on the Strand by the King. Further still the King honoured his son. On the 18th June 1525 the young Henry travelled from Wolsey’s mansion of Durham Place, Charing Cross by barge down the Thames to Bridewell Palace. At 9am the barge arrived and the party made their way to the King’s lodgings. They were greeted by a room full of nobility and bishops including, Charles Brandon and Thomas Howard.

In the first ceremony Henry FitzRoy was created the Earl of Nottingham, in this service he was attended by Henry Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland who carried the sword of state. Also present was William FitzAlan, 18th Earl of Arundel and John de Vere, 14th Earl of Oxford. Sir Thomas More read out the patents of nobility and for the first time in four centuries an illegitimate son was raised into the peerage. Henry left the ceremony but returned instantly in his new robes with the Earl of Arundel carrying the cap of estate with a circlet, the Marquess of Dorset carrying the sword, the Earl of Northumberland carrying his robes and the Earl of Oxford with a rod of gold. As another patent was read out Henry FitzRoy was declared the Duke of Richmond and Somerset and now referred to as the ‘right high and noble prince Henry, Duke of Richmond and Somerset’.

Henry was also granted many lands, many of which came from the estate of Margaret Beaufort, the young Duke’s great-grandmother. He was also granted an annuity of £4845 per year.

Later in the year the Duke of Richmond and Somerset was granted further honours which included; Lord High Admiral of England, Lord President of the Council of the North and the Warden of the Marches towards Scotland. The Duke was also raised at Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire, the former home of King Richard III. Henry was later made Lord-Leiutenant of Ireland.

On 28th November 1533 aged 14, Henry FitzRoy was married to Lady Mary Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk.

After the execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536 and Act was beginning to go through Parliament that disinherited not only Mary Tudor but now also Elizabeth as well. It also gave the King the power to choose his successor, regardless of legitimacy. Although there is no evidence that Henry was planning on making his illegitimate son the new heir to the throne, this bill would have allowed this to have happened.

On 22rd July 1536, Henry FitzRoy died, he reportedly suffered from consumption and died at St James’s Palace, London. His father in law, the Duke of Norfolk, arranged for his body to be buried in Thetford Priory, Norfolk where only two attendants were present at the burial. His body was later reinterred at St Michael’s Church, Framlingham, Suffolk due to the dissolution of the monasteries.

With that the King was again without a son, until the birth of his legitimate son a short time after.

Henry FitzRoyHenry FitzRoy Duke of Richmond and Somerset

On this day in 1545 – French troops invaded the Isle of Wight

The Italian War of 1542 – 1546 was a series of wars in the larger Italian Wars that saw England, France, Italy, Spain and the Low Counties fight one another.

France attempted to invade the Isle of Wight for the last time after a series of attempts to capture the island. The French, led by Claude d’Annebault, outnumbered the English but they met twice in battle once in the Solent and then at Bonchurch.

During the Battle of the Solent the English lost their flagship vessel, Mary Rose on 19th July. The English retreated in the hope that they could draw the French into the shallow waters of Spithead. The French would not be drawn into this and instead drew up a plan to bring the English to them and abandon their defensive position by invading the Isle of Wight.

On 21st July the French landed on the Isle of Wight, the plan was that the French would land at Whitecliff Bay and cross Bembridge Down in order to attack Sandown, another landing was planned at Bonchurch with the plan to march across and meet the rest of the troops at Sandown. However, the northern troops were intercepted and had to fight their way to the rendezvous point.

Every man that lived on the Isle of Wight was required to have military training and therefore Sir Richard Worsley led the residents of the Island out to defend their homes

Martin Du Bellay, a French chronicler, wrote about the invasion;

…To keep the enemy’s forces separated, a simultaneous descent was made in three different places. On one side Seigneur Pierre Strosse was bidden to land below a little fort where the enemy had mounted some guns with which they assailed our galleys in flank, and within which a number of Island infantry had retired. These, seeing the boldness of our men, abandoned the fort and fled southwards to the shelter of a copse. Our men pursued and killed some of them and burned the surrounding habitations…”

Despite the French attempts to surprise the English by landing at different undefended points the English were prepared for the attacks and reached the high points of the to oppose them. At Bonchurch the French landed at Monk’s Bay but found it difficult to climb the slopes of St Boniface and Bonchurch Downs before they were met at the top by the waiting English.

François van der Delft, the Imperial Ambassador wrote to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles ;

On Tuesday [21st] the French landed in the Isle of Wight and burnt 10 or 12 small houses; but they were ultimately driven to take refuge in a small earthwork fort, and a large force, 8000, is now opposed to them. Yesterday, Wednesday, and the previous night, nothing could be heard but artillery firing, and it was rumoured that the French would land elsewhere.”

There is no comprehensive record of the battle of Bonchurch but many sources have the English as winning the battle.

AMH4XG Battle of Bonchurch Isle of Wight Italian War  French invasion  landing Kingdom England France regular soldier English militiame

The Battle of Bonchurch

On this day in 1554 John Knox published A Faithful Admonition to the Professors of God’s Truth In England

John Knox was a Scottish clergyman and a leader of the Protestant Reformation. He had been exiled from Scotland and travelled to England where he worked within the Church of England during the reign of King Edward VI. With Mary taking the throne upon Edward’s death England was taken back to Catholicism and Knox fled to Geneva before returning to Scotland where he led the Reformation in Scotland.

On 20th July 1554 John Knox published a pamphlet entitled ‘A Faithful Admonition to the Professors of God’s Truth in England’ in which he attacks Queen Mary. In it he calls Mary ‘Bastard, bastard, incestuous bastard, Mary shall never reign over us.’

Knox goes on to attack the bishops who helped Mary gain the throne;

And to pass over the tyrants of old times, whom God has plagued, let us come to the tyrants who now are within the realm of England, whom God will not long spare. If Stephen Gardiner, Cuthbert Tonstall, and butcherly Bonner (false bishops of Winchester, Durham, and of London) had for their false doctrine and traitorous acts suffered death, when they justly deserved the same, then would errant Papists have alleged (as I and others have heard them do), that they were men reformable; that they were meet instruments for a commonwealth; that they were not so obstinate and malicious as they were judged; neither that they thirsted for the blood of any man. And of lady Mary, who has not heard that she was sober, merciful, and one that loved the commonwealth of England? Had she, I say, and such as now are of her pestilent council, been sent to hell before these days, then their iniquity and cruelty could have entered into the heart of woman, and into the heart of her that is called a virgin, that she would thirst for the blood of innocents, and of such as by just laws and faithful witnesses can never be proved to have offended by themselves?”


Knox continues to attack the Queen and the church and even attacks Mary’s forthcoming marriage to Philip of Spain;

But, O England, England! If you obstinately will return into Egypt: that is, if you contract marriage, confederacy, or league, with such princes as maintain and advance idolatry (such as the emperor, who is no less enemy unto Christ than ever was Nero): if for the pleasure and friendship (I say) of such princes, you return to your old abominations, before used under the Papistry, then assuredly, O England! you shall be plagued and brought to desolution, by means of those whose favours you seek, and by whom you are procured to fall from Christ, and to serve Antichrist.”


You can read the full text of Knox’s ‘A Faithful Admonition to the Professors of God’s Truth In England’ here; http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/faithadm.htm

John_Knox_statue,_HaddingtonStatue of John Knox

On this day in 1553 – Mary Tudor proclaimed Queen of England

On 19th July 1553 Henry VIII’s first born child was declared Queen of England following the death of her younger half brother, Edward.

Mary route to the throne was not easy as Edward in his will declared Lady Jane Grey as his heir, contravening what Henry VIII had laid out in the Third Act of Succession. However, Mary strongly believed that she was the rightful heir and began gathering support.

On 18th July the Earls of Pembroke and Arundel had called a Privy Council meeting to convince fellow members that Mary had a legitimate claim to the throne and it was Mary not Jane that was the rightful Queen. It took until the following day to convince all the members that they should support Mary’s claim. Pembroke even went as far as drawing his sword and cried to the others “If the arguments of my lord Arundel do not persuade you, this sword shall make Mary queen, or I will die in her quarrel.”

With the rest of the council now backing Mary Pembroke went out amongst the people of London later that day and proclaimed;

“The xix. day of the same monyth, was sent Margarettes evyne, at iiij. of clocke at after-none was proclaimyd lady Mary be qwene of Ynglond at the crose in Cheppe with the erle of Shrewsbery, the earle of Arundel, the erle of Pembroke, with the mayer of London, and dyvers other lords, and many of the aldermen and the kynges schrffe master Garrand, with dyvers haroldes and trompettes. And from thens cam to Powlees alle, and there the qwene sange Te Deum with the organs goynge, with the belles ryngynge, the most parte alle, and that same nyght had the parte of London Te Deum, with bone-fyers in every street in London, with good church, and for the most parte alle nyght tyll the nexte daye to none.”

Mary was unaware of the change of support from the council and that they had proclaimed her the rightful Queen of England until the following day when William Paget and the Earl of Arundel arrived at Framlingham with the news.

Mary IQueen Mary I

On this day in 1565 – Kat Ashley died

It is unknown when Katherine Champernowne, or Kat Ashley as she was later known, it is believed that she was born in 1502 and that her parents were Sir John Champernowne and Margaret Courtenay.

Kat’s early life is unknown and but she appears to have been appointed a waiting gentlewoman to Elizabeth in 1536, shortly after Anne Boleyn had been executed. Kat intended to keep Elizabeth’s mother’s memory alive with the infant.

After the birth of Henry VIII’s son, Edward, a new household was set up to care for him this included Lady Bryan who had been until then Elizabeth’s nurse. As a result in 1537 Kat was appointed governess to Elizabeth.

In her role as Elizabeth’s governess Kat would teach her young charge in every aspect from geography, astronomy, history, maths and many languages including French, Italian, Spanish and Flemish. Away from the classroom Kat would also teach Elizabeth dancing, riding, embroidery and needlework and by the time Elizabeth was six John Ashley husband of Katyears old she was able to sew a cambric shirt from her brother, Edward. Elizabeth said later in life that Kat ‘took great labour and pain in bringing of me up in learning and honesty.’ Kat played a huge part in shaping who Elizabeth would be in later life.

In 1545 Kat married Elizabeth’s senior gentleman attendant, Sir John Ashley, who was also a cousin of Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn

In 1543 with King Henry VIII marrying his sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr, Elizabeth began attending court more and more and Kat would accompany the young Elizabeth. With the death of the King, Elizabeth and Kat would go and live with Catherine and her new husband Thomas Seymour in Chelsea. However, it was not to be an easy time.

Thomas Seymour, despite his hasty marriage with the King’s widow, took a shine to Elizabeth and began a flirtation. Kat would witness Seymour’s attempts to potentially seduce the young girl and tried to stop them warning Elizabeth away from Seymour. Kat would eventually report her concerns to Catherine Parr, who instead of stopping it joined in and reportedly held Elizabeth down whilst Seymour slashed at the 14 year olds nightgown. However, things turned serious when Catherine caught Elizabeth in Seymour’s arms and Kat lectured Elizabeth on the need to stay out of trouble and protect her reputation especially as she was second in line to the throne.

These events would be eventually investigated by King Edward’s Privy Council when Seymour was being investigated for treason. On 21st January 1549 Kat was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London whilst the claims were investigated. Kat told the investigators everything she knew and protested Elizabeth’s innocence as well as her own and was eventually declared innocent and released in early March 1549.

Kat would return to Elizabeth who was now residing at Hatfield and would remain with Elizabeth until 1554 when Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower by her sister, Mary I. Elizabeth was later released and Kat rejoined her charge but it was short lived as in May 1556 Kat was arrested and sent to Fleet Prison after books that were discovered in her possession that was considered treasonous. Kat was imprisoned for just three months but on her release she was forbidden from seeing Elizabeth again.

Upon Elizabeth taking the throne the order was revoked and Kat returned to Elizabeth and was appointed First Lady of the Bedchamber and became one of the most influential people in Elizabeth’s court.

Kat Ashley died on 18th July 1565 and Elizabeth was left heartbroken at the loss of her long term companion. After Kat’s death Elizabeth would say of the woman who stayed by her side since she was four. ‘Anne Boleyn gave me life but Kat Ashley gave me love’.

Kat AshleyKat Ashley

On this day in 1555 – Richard Carew was born

Richard Carew was born on 17th Jul 1555 to Thomas Carew and his wife Elizabeth in Antony House, Cornwall. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford and later Middle Temple.

In 1594 Carew made a translation of the first five cantos (long poems) of Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered and he also went on to translate Juan de la Huarte’s, Examen de Ingenios, a book that attempted to relate physiology with psychology the first of its kind.

Carew married Juliana Arundell in 1577 and they went on to have seven children including Richard. In 1581 Carew was appointed a Justice of the Peace and later in 1583 and 1586 Carew served the crown as High Sheriff of Cornwall and also acted as a Member of Parliament for Saltash in 1584 and in 1597 for St. Michael’s.

Carew also served as treasurer of the lieutenancy and colonel of the regiment, serving under Sir Walter Raleigh.

Carew would go on to be a member of the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries, in 1589, an English Academy that promoted learning with the backing of the monarch. They would also debate and discuss important issues including the succession to Elizabeth’s throne.

Carew also published a survey of Cornwall in 1602, only the second county history to appear in print in England.

Carew died on 6th Novemeber 1620 at Antony House and was buried the following day in Antony Church.

Richard CarewRichard Carew

On this day in 1557 – Anne of Cleves died

Anne of Cleves was born 22nd September 1515 in Düsseldorf to John III, Duke of Cleves and his wife Maria, Duchess of Julich-Berg. Anne grew up on the edge of Solingen.

At the age of 11 in 1527 Anne was betrothed to Francis, the 10 year old son of the Duke of Lorraine. Due to his age in 1535 the betrothal was broken off and considered unofficial.

Anne’s brother succeeded his father as the Duke of Cleves and due to his support of the Reformation and his ongoing dispute with the Holy Roman Emperor, Cleves was considered by Thomas Cromwell as a convenient ally.

Following the death of his third wife, Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII was beginning to consider remarrying for the fourth time and began to seek out his options. Hans Holbein the Younger was sent to Cleves to paint both Anne and her younger sister, Amalia, Henry was considering either of the sisters as his wife. Holbein was instructed to be as accurate as possible in his painting and not to flatter the sisters. The paintings were brought back to Henry who chose Anne based on her portrait.Anne_of_Cleves,_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger

Anne of Cleves portrait painted by Hans Holbein the younger

Negotiators were sent to Cleves to begin talks regarding a marriage between Anne and Henry. Thomas Cromwell oversaw the talks himself and a marriage treaty was signed on 4th October 1539. With the treaty signed Anne set off for England.

The Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys wrote about Anne’s arrival in England;

“This year on St John’s Day, 27 Dec, Lady Anne, daughter of the Duke of Cleves in Germany, landed at Dover at 5 o’clock at night, and there was honourably received by the Duke of Suffolk and other great lords, and so lodged in the castle. And on the following Monday she rode to Canterbury where she was honourably received by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other great men, and lodged at the King’s palace at St Austin’s, and there highly feasted. On Tuesday she came to Sittingbourne.

On New Year’s Eve the Duke of Norfolk with other knights and the barons of the exchequer received her grace on the heath, two miles beyond Rochester; and so brought her to the abbey of Rochester where she stayed that night and all New Years Day. And on New Years Day in the afternoon the king’s grace with five of his privy chamber, being disguised with mottled cloaks with hoods so that they should not be recognised, came secretly to Rochester, and so went up into the chamber where the said Lady Anne was looking out of a window to see the bull-baiting which was going on in the courtyard, and suddenly he embraced and kissed her, and showed her a token which the King had sent her for New Year’s gift, and she being abashed and not knowing who it was thanked him and so he spoke with her. But she regarded him little, but always looked out the window… and when the King saw that she took so little notice of his coming he went into another chamber and took off his cloak and came in again in a coat of purple velvet. And when the lords and knights saw his grace they did reverence… and then her grace humbled herself lowly to the king’s majesty, and his grace saluted her again, and they talked together lovingly, and afterwards he took her by the hand and led her to another chamber where their graces amused themselves that night and on Friday until the afternoon.

…So she came to Greenwich that night, and was received as Queen. And the next day, being Sunday, the King’s grace kept a great court at Greenwich, where his grace with the Queen offered at mass, richly dressed. And on Twelfth Night, which was a Tuesday, the King’s majesty was married to the said Queen Anne solemnly, in her closet at Greenwich, and his grace and she went publicly in procession that day, she having a rich coronet of stone and pearls set with rosemary on her hair, and a gown of rich cloth of silver, richly hung with stones and pearls, with all her ladies and gentlewomen following her, which was a goodly sight to behold.”

Although Chapuys report shows the happy display the couple put on, away from public eyes Henry was unhappy with his new bride after she first failed to impress at their meeting in Rochester. Anne was expected to recognise her masked suitor as her new husband as per the rules of courtly love but she did not understand what was being played out in front of her. Henry urged Thomas Cromwell and his councillors to find a way out of the marriage

Despite Henry’s protestations and no solution to his request the marriage went ahead on 6th January 1540 at Greenwich Palace, presided over by Archbishop Cranmer. The couple then spent an unsuccessful wedding night together. Henry complained further about Anne in particular he described Anne as having bad odour and saggy breasts amongst other complaints, he also stated that Anne was unprepared for married life and what was expected of her on her wedding night. It was known that Henry reported to Cromwell ‘I liked her before not well, but now I like her much worse’.

By 24th June 1540 Anne was commanded to leave the court and was moved to Richmond Palace, while Anne remained in the dark as to what was happening back at Greenwich Stephen Gardiner was investigating the pre-contract Anne had with the Duke of Lorraine’s son. On 6th July 1540 Anne was informed that Henry was worried that their marriage was not lawful and her consent was sought for the marriage to be investigated. Anne gave her consent probably fearful of her life if she did not.

The marriage between Henry and Anne was declared invalid on 9th July 1540 due to three factors; Anne’s pre-contract with the Duke of Lorriane, Henry’s lack of consent to the marriage and the lack of consummation after the wedding. In exchange for a quick and easy annulment Henry granted Anne an income of £4000 a year, houses at Richmond Palace, Bletchingley and Lewes along with jewels, furniture, hangings as well as Hever Castle, the former home of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. Anne was also given the title of King’s sister and allowed to attend court.

Although the marriage did not work out between the couple Henry and Anne would go on to have a good relationship when Henry married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, Henry visited Anne to inform her personally of the marriage. After the fall of Catherine Howard Anne’s brother, the Duke of Cleves, pushed her case for the King to remarry Anne, a suggestion that was quickly refused instead marrying Catherine Parr, a woman that Anne appeared to dislike.

After King Henry VIII’s death Anne remained in England and in March 1547 the new King Edward VI’s Privy Council asked Anne to vacate her home at Bletchingley Palace and relocate to Penshurst Palace in order for Thomas Cawarden, the new Master of Revels to live in Bletchingley.

Anne lived quietly away from court during Edward’s reign. When Edward’s eldest sister took the throne after his death Anne wrote to Mary on 4th August 1553 to congratulate her former step-daughter on her marriage to Philip of Spain. The following month on 28th September Anne accompanied Mary from St James’s Palace to Whitehall, Elizabeth also accompanied the pair.

With the country reverting back to Catholicism Anne changed her religion to please the new Queen and despite the few appearances at the beginning of Mary’s reign, including her coronation Anne remained away from court. That is until Wyatt’s Rebellion in 1554 when Anne’s relationship with Elizabeth caused Mary to question Anne’s motives and Mary was convinced that “the Lady (Anne) of Cleves was of the plot and intrigued with the Duke of Cleves to obtain help for Elizabeth: matters in which the king of France was the prime mover.”

After falling under Mary’s suspicion Anne did not attend court again and chose to live quietly on her estates until her health began to deteriorate when Mary permitted Anne to relocate to Chelsea Old Manor, the former home of Henry’s final wife Catherine Parr. In July 1557 Anne dictated her final will, she remembers her family as well as the Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk and Countess of Arundel. Anne also left money for her servants and asked Mary and Elizabeth to find employment for them within their households.

Anne died on 16th July 1557; aged 41, the cause of death is unconfirmed. Anne was buried in Westminster Abbey, the only one of Henry’s wives that was buried there. Her tomb is opposite the shrine for Edward the Confessor.

Annes tomb Westminster AbbeyAnne of Cleves tomb in Westminster Abbey

On this day in 1573 – Inigo Jones was born

Inigo Jones was born on 15th July 1573 in Smithfield, London to Inigo Jones, a Welsh cloth worker. Little is known about his early life.

Jones is first credited for introducing the proscenium arch into English theatre along with the idea of movable scenery. Between 1605 and 1640 Jones staged over 500 performances mostly in collaboration with Ben Jonson. They would argue throughout their working relationship whether the stage or the words were the most important part of the theatre. Hundreds of drawings survive of Jones work as a draughtsman, which was an unknown concept at the time. Jones was also influenced by Italian design and not only learnt Italian but also visited the country.

In 1608 the first mention of structural work carried out by Jones is documented as a monument to Lady Cotton around the same time similar drawings appeared for the New Exchange in the Strand and the central tower of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

In 1609 Jones acted as an architectural consultant at Hatfield House and in 1610 he was appointed as Surveyor to the Prince of Wales, Henry Frederick. In this position he arranged a masque for the Prince and also contributed to alterations that were undertaken at St. James’ Palace, London.

On 27th April 1613 Jones was appointed to the position of Surveyor of the King’s Works and he travelled to Italy with the Earl of Arundel. It was here that Jones witnessed the architecture of Italy which would inspire his later work.

In 1615 Jones was appointed Surveyor-General of the King’s Works and Jones began building in London. In 1616 he began work on the Queen’s House, Greenwich for King James I’s wife but it was put on hold after his wife died in 1619, with only the foundations and the first storey built it would be a further 10 years before work would commence for King Charles I.

Banqueting HouseBetween 1619 and 1622 the Banqueting House in the Palace of Whitehall was built with the assistance of Jones assistant and nephew John Webb. It was designed in the style influenced by Palladio and cost £15,618.

In 1623 Jones would begin work on the Queen’s Chapel, St. James’ Palace in the style of the Pantheon of Rome. At the St Pauls Covent Gardensame time Jones was commissioned by the Earl of Bedford to build a residential square, which would later become known as the Covent Garden square.

Between 1634 and 1642 Jones worked on remodelling the dilapidated St. Paul’s Cathedral but his work was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Jones also had plans to redesign the Palace of Whitehall; however King Charles I’s financial difficulties and the outbreak of the civil war stopped this happening.

With the outbreak of civil war Jones found himself unemployed as the King’s houses were seized by the government. Jones retired to his home, Somerset House, and died on 21st June 1652. Unmarried Jones was buried next to his parents at St Benet Paul’s Wharf, a Welsh church within the city of London.

Inigo JonesInigo Jones

On this day in 1551 – Henry and Charles Brandon died of the sweating sickness

Henry and Charles Brandon were the sons of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and his final wife, Catherine Willoughby.

Upon their father’s death Henry succeeded him as 2nd Duke of Suffolk on 22nd August 1545 but due to their ages, Henry was 15 and Charles was 14, instead of taking up the role that was expected of him the two young boys continued their studies at St John’s College, Cambridge. When the sweating sickness broke out across the country they were sent to the countryside.

Sweating sickness was strike fast and the symptoms would appear suddenly. Symptoms included cold shivers, headache and exhaustion. Once the fever took a hold of the body sweating, delirium and a rapid pulse would manifest before the infected would eventually collapse with exhaustion and fall into a need for sleeping. The disease could kill within hours of the symptoms making themselves known.

The two young boys were staying at the Bishop of Lincoln’s Palace in Buckden in Huntingdon when they were taken ill and on 14th July 1551 they succumbed to the sweating sickness and died within an hour of each other. Henry died first and therefore passed the title of Duke of Suffolk to his younger brother who held the title for just one hour. Their mother had been staying nearby reached the house just before the youngest Brandon passed away.

They were buried at Buckden privately before a requiem mass was held on 22nd September which would be called “A Month’s Mind”. John Strype wrote;

it was performed with two standards, two banners, great and large, ten bannerols, with divers coats of arms; two helmets, two swords, two targets crowned, two coats of arms; two crests, and ten dozen of escutcheons crowned; with lamentation that so noble a stock was extinct in them.”

Charles Brandon Henry Brandon

Left: Henry Brandon, 2nd Duke of Suffolk. Right: Charles Brandon, 3rd Duke of Suffolk

Painted by Hans Holbein the Younger

On this day in 1612 – Edward Seymour died

Edward Seymour was born on 21st September 1561 in the Tower of London to Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford and Lady Catherine Grey, sister to Lady Jane Grey. The marriage of Seymour’s parents was questionable as they kept their marriage a secret until Catherine became pregnant. A law had been passed stating that as Catherine was a potential claimant to the English throne she was unable to marry without Queen Elizabeth’s consent. Therefore when it was discovered the Earl of Hertford and Catherine had married they were taken to the Tower of London and questioned regarding the marriage. As neither could remember the date of their wedding and the priest could not be located their son was declared illegitimate and eventually she was separated from her husband and children until her death.

Seymour married Honora Rogers at some point during 1582 and they would go on to have six children; Edward, William, Francis, Honora, Anne and Mary. William Seymour would later go on to secretly marry his cousin Arbella Stuart and be imprisoned in the Tower of London like his grandparents were.

As the son of Lady Catherine Grey, Edward Seymour had a strong claim to the throne of England through Mary Tudor, King Henry VIII’s younger sister. However, Elizabeth chose to select King James VI of Scotland as her successor who had a claim through Margaret Tudor, Henry’s eldest sister. It is believed that James was chosen over Edward due to his illegitimacy.

Seymour died on 13th July 1612 at Great Bedwyn and was buried at Bedwyn Magna before being reinterred at Salisbury Cathedral.

Catherine Grey and Edward Seymour

An infant Edward Seymour and his mother, Lady Catherine Grey