Tag Archives: Duke of Somerset

On this day in 1548 – Queen Dowager Catherine Parr gave birth to a daughter

On 30th August 1548 the Queen Dowager, Catherine Parr gave birth to a daughter at Sudeley Castle, the home she shared with her fourth husband, Thomas Seymour.
Catherine Parr spent the final three months of her pregnancy at Sudeley Castle preparing for the birth of her first child. Catherine ensured that she was surrounded by her closest friends including her chaplain, Miles Coverdale, her almoner, John Parkhurst as well as her ladies from when she was Queen.

053Part of the remains of Sudeley Castle where Catherine Parr would have given birth

Shortly before her confinement was due to begin Catherine decorated the nursery, it was situated looking over the gardens and chapel. It was decorated in crimson and gold velvet and taffeta. Beside the cradle was a bed with crimson curtains as well as a separate bed designated for the new child’s nurse.
The daughter was named Mary, after the Queen Dowager’s eldest step daughter and future Queen. Just six days after her birth Catherine died of puerperal fever and was laid to rest within the grounds of Sudeley Castle. Mary was then brought up with her father as her main guardian, Seymour took Mary to London and placed her with her aunt and uncle, the Duke and Duchess of Somerset, who had just had their own child. Mary remained here until Seymour was executed for treason just seven months later leaving Mary an orphan.

178The burial place of the Queen Dowager Catherine Parr

Due to an appeal made to William Cecil by Katherine Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk we know that she was appointed Mary’s guardian after Seymour’s death, it appears that she resented being given the young child to care for and referred to her as ‘the Queens daughter’ in her letter. Katherine Brandon was appealing to Cecil to gain his help with talking to the Lord Protector, the Duke of Somerset regarding the upkeep of Mary’s household. The household was expensive to maintain as Mary was still the child of a Queen and therefore needed a lady governess, rocker and her own servants despite her young age. However, in January 1550 an act of Parliament was passed that allowed Mary to inherit Seymour’s properties and therefore a regular income.
Records show no other mention of Mary after this date, she was just 16 months old, she never stood forward to claim her inheritance and so it is believed that she died as an infant. It is likely that she is buried near Grimsthorpe in the estate owned by Katherine Brandon.

Catherine Parr letter7A letter written from Catherine Parr to Thomas Seymour

about her pregnancy

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