Tag Archives: Edward VI

On this day in 1513 – William Parr was born

On 14th August 1513 William Parr was born to Sir Thomas Parr and his wife Maud. Thomas had two sisters Anne and Catherine, the sixth wife of King Henry VIII.

On 9th February 1527 Parr married Anne Bourchier daughter of Henry Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Essex. The marriage was not an easy one and in 1541 Anne eloped with her lover John Lyngfield, the prior of St. James’s Church, Tanbridge and they had several children. As a result of this Parr was able to annul the marriage via an Act of Parliament and on 17th April 1543 and Anne’s children were declared illegitimate. As a result of the Act Parr obtained his wife’s lands and titles and as a result was created the Earl of Essex. Parr was able to achieve this due to his high position within King Edward’s court and the influence he held over many.

Parr went on to marry Elisabeth Brooke. Elisabeth had been married to Sir Thomas Wyatt, who had been implicated in Anne Boleyn’s downfall; they had a son with Wyatt who went on to be Sir Thomas Wyatt the younger. Elisabeth fell in love with Parr whilst still married to Wyatt and they lived in adultery and later married whilst Wyatt was still alive, therefore the marriage was bigamous The validity of the marriage was contested as during Henry’s reign a divorced man could not be allowed to remarry but this law was rescinded by King Edward and their marriage was legal. However, it was again overturned by Mary before once again being revoked by Elizabeth.

Parr had many titles bestowed upon him alongside the Earl of Essex in 1539 he was created Baron Parr of Kendal and in 1547 he was created the Marquess of Northampton.

After the death of King Henry VIII Parr being the King’s brother in law and therefore step-uncle to the new King, Edward VI, Parr was one of the most important men in the new Council. He served Edward loyally and when it was clear that the King was dying Parr along with his wife worked with John Dudley to place Lady Jane Grey as the successor to the throne. Upon Queen Mary’s ascension Parr was arrested on the charge of high treason and sentenced to death on 18th August 1553, however, he was instead released and eventually had his titles restored to him by Queen Elizabeth in 1559.

In 1565 his wife, Elisabeth, died aged 39 heavily in debt as she attempted to find a cure for her ailment which was believed to be cancer. Five years later Parr would marry Helena Snakenborg who was a lady in waiting from Sweden. This marriage would be short lived as Parr would die five months later at Warwick Priory. With no children his titles became extinct.

Queen Elizabeth paid for the funeral and burial of Parr and he was buried in St Mary’s Church, Warwick. His tomb is inscribed as followed;

William Parr, Marquis of Northampton; Died in Warwick 28 October 1571. [Buried] with the ceremonial due [of a] Knight of the Garter to the Order of Queen Elizabeth who bore the expense of the funeral, 2 December 1571.”

William ParrWilliam Parr, brother to Catherine Parr

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On this day in 1570 – Lady Ursula Pole died

Ursula Pole was born in 1504 and was the only daughter of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury and Sir Richard Pole. Making Ursula the granddaughter of the Duke of Clarence and therefore had a claim to the English throne. Sir Richard Pole died when Ursula was only one year old. Ursula had four older brothers all of whom acquired positions within King Henry VIII’s court. Ursula grew up at the family home at Warblington Castle, Hampshire whilst her mother acted as Royal Governess to the Princess Mary.

Lady Ursula married Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford on 16th February 1518 when she was 15 years old and he was 18. The marriage was suggested by Cardinal Wolsey and arranged by Edward Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham. Ursula’s dowry was 3000 marks which would be increased by a further thousand if her mother was able to reclaim some of her family lands from King Henry VIII. Instead, the Countess of Salisbury gave the couple land in Somerset and Devon that was worth 700 marks. The Duke of Buckingham also ensured that lands worth £500 were set aside for Ursula in case she was widowed. The Duke also paid for the wedding with the exception of Ursula’s clothes which her mother paid for.

Due to the newlyweds ages the couple went to live within the household of the Duke of Buckingham, who acted as their guardians. Ursula was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in France, in 1520, she was four months pregnant and in November 1520 Ursula gave birth to the couple’s first child.

Just a year later in 1521 Ursula’s father in law was arrested on charges of treason and beheaded. After his death an Act of Attainder was passed and his titles and lands were forfeited to the King, leaving Ursula and her husband very little to live on. It was not until 1547 when King Edward VI created her husband, Henry, the 1st Baron Stafford meaning that Ursula was now a Baroness.

The couple had 14 children in total, seven sons and seven daughters. Their eldest daughter Dorothy would go on to serve Queen Elizabeth I as Mistress of the Robes. Ursula had seen many of her family members lose their lives at the hands of the royal executioner from her mother and brother to her son Thomas was executed for treason for leading an unsuccessful uprising against Queen Mary I in 1557.

Having lost her husband in 1563 Ursula died on 12th August 1570, aged 66 her final resting place is unknown.

Ursula PoleLady Ursula Pole

On this day in 1592 – William Cecil died

William Cecil was born on 13th September 1520 in Bourne, Lincolnshire to Richard Cecil and his wife Jane Heckington. Cecil was educated at The King’s School, Grantham and then later Stamford School. In May 1535 at the age of 14 Cecil studied at St John’s College, Cambridge where he met Roger Ascham and John Cheke. In 1541 Cecil’s father transferred him to Grey’s Inn before he was able to complete his degree. It was during this time that Cecil spontaneously married Mary Cheke and they had a son, Thomas, a year later. However, the marriage ended in tragedy in February 1543 when Mary Cheke died. Cecil found love again and on 21st December 1546 Cecil married Mildred Cooke.

Cecil began his career in the service of the Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of the young King Edward VI. Cecil was part of Somerset’s Pinkie campaign in 1547 as part of the Rough Wooing wars. Cecil was also one of two judges of the Marshalsea and wrote an account of the campaign along with William Patten, the other judge.

It is believed that Cecil also sat in Parliament in 1543 until 1547 when he was elected for Stamford. In 1548 Cecil is described as the Lord Protector’s Master of Requests, a role that meant that he was a registrar of the court that dealt with the complaints of poor men, it was an illegal set up at Somerset House but was probably instigated by Hugh Latimer. At the same time he was the Lord Protector’s private secretary. At the fall of the Lord Protector, Cecil found himself in the Tower of London on 10th October 1549. Within three months though Cecil had allied himself with the Duke of Northumberland and secured his release from the Tower.

On 5th September 1550 Cecil was appointed as one of King Edward’s VI two Secretaries of State and the following April he became the Chancellor of the Order of the Garter. As it was becoming clear that the young King was dying his Council turned their attention to who would succeed Edward. It was clear that they did not wish to follow King Henry VIII’s wishes and place Mary on the throne, allowing the country to return to Catholicism. Therefore the Council put their support behind Lady Jane Grey, at first Cecil resisted the idea and even wrote to his wife; ‘Seeing great perils threatened upon us by the likeness of the time, I do make choice to avoid the perils of God’s displeasure.’ He eventually signed but when Mary did eventually take the throne he pretended that he had only signed it as a witness and not as someone who supported placing Lady Jane Grey on the throne.

During Mary’s reign Cecil was spared from persecution as he not only conformed to the Catholic ways but he played no part in the misery that Mary suffered during her childhood after her parents divorced. Mary also sent Cecil to meet Cardinal Pole upon his return to England in 1554.

Cecil was elected to Parliament for Lincolnshire in 1553, 1555 and 1559 and for Northamptonshire in 1563. In January 1561 Cecil succeeded Sir Thomas Parry into the office of Master of the Court of Wards and Liveries, this was a role that saw him help young boys from wealthy families, who had lost their fathers, into education and help raise them into the roles that they were born into. These young boys included Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton and Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland.

Upon Queen Mary’s death and the ascension of Elizabeth, Cecil who had been out of favour made his way to Hatfield House and was one of the first visitors to the new Queen. When the Privy Council arrived to present themselves to their new monarch they found that Cecil and the Queen were already making appointments including Cecil’s new role as Secretary of State. This would be the starting point of Cecil’s career during the reign of Elizabeth as he would go on to lead Elizabeth’s Privy Council, set up an established intelligence service and controlled the finances of the crown.

In February 1559 Cecil was elected as Chancellor of Cambridge University succeeding Cardinal Pole he was also granted an M.A in 1564 when Queen Elizabeth visited the University. Cecil was also awarded an M.A at Oxford University in 1566 and he later went on to be the first Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin between 1592 and 1598.

On 25th February 1571 Cecil was given the title of Baron Burghley by Queen Elizabeth, with his new title he also continued in the role of Secretary of State and was effectively running the country on behalf of the Queen. However, in private Cecil attacked the Queen and in particularly in 1572 he criticised the Queen’s handling of Mary Queen of Scots who was gathering a large amount of support from the Catholics, which was a dangerous situation as Elizabeth had been excommunicated by the Pope just two years earlier.

Cecil had two magnificent homes during his lifetime. Burghley House was modelled on Richmond Palace and was built between 1555 and 1587 and Theobalds House was situated just north of London and was built between 1564 and 1585, the Queen visited Theobalds eight times within 24 years.

Burghley HouseBurghley House

In 1572 Cecil was appointed to the role of Lord High Treasurer after the death of Lord Winchester. He was recommended to the role by Robert Dudley who had turned the offer down. Dudley stated that Cecil was the better man for the job as he had a stronger learning and knowledge than Dudley. Cecil’s position within the royal court was strengthening with every new position.

Cecil died on 4th August 1592 at his London home, Cecil House, it is believed that he died following either a stroke or a heart attack, when he fell ill it is believed that the Queen even attempted to held nurse him back to help. He was buried in St Martin’s Church, Stamford near Burghley House. His son, Robert, succeeded his father in many of his positions and became the Queen’s principal advisor and later aided the transition from Queen Elizabeth to King James.

William Cecil NPGWilliam Cecil, Lord Burghley

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 1553 – Lady Mary Tudor declared herself Queen

After King Edward VI’s death the country was left unsure of its future, the young King had declared just days before his death that he wished his cousin Lady Jane Grey to succeed to the throne upon his death, however, this contradicted his fathers, King Henry VIII, Third Act of Succession which declared if Edward died with no children then the throne would go to the Lady Mary, Henry’s daughter with Katherine of Aragon.

Mary had been informed of her half brother’s death on 7th July 1553 at Euston Hall, Thetford where she was staying with Lady Burgh. Mary travelled to her home at Kenninghall, Norfolk and declared to her household that the King had died and therefore “the right to the crown of England had therefore descended to her by divine and by human law.” Her household proclaimed Mary Queen of England, unaware of what Edward had done to alter the line of succession.

With the belief that Mary was the rightful Queen she wrote to the Privy Council informing them that she was to be recognised as Queen and to “casue our right and title to the crown and government of this realm to be proclaimed in our city of London and other places as your wisdom shall seem good.”

Little did Mary know that she would have to fight for her crown over the coming days.

Mary IQueen Mary I

On this day in 1533 – King Edward VI died.

On 6th July 1553 the 15 year old King Edward VI died at Greenwich Palace. Edward had fallen ill at the beginning of 1553 from a fever and cough. The Imperial Ambassador, Jehan Scheyfve, wrote about Edward’s early illness in a letter to the the Bishop of Arras;

the King of England is still confined to his chamber, and seems to be sensitive to the slightest indisposition or change, partly at any rate because his right shoulder is lower than his left and he suffers a good deal when the fever is upon him, especially from a difficulty in drawing his breath, which is due to the compression of the organs on the right side. It is an important matter for consideration, especially as the illness is increasing from day to day, and the doctors have now openly declared to the Council, for their own discharge of responsibility, that the King’s life is threatened, and if any serious malady were to supervene he would not be able to hold out long against it. Some make light of the imperfection, saying that the depression in the right shoulder is hereditary in the house of Seymour, and that the late Duke of Somerset had his good share of it among the rest. But he only suffered inconvenience as far as it affected his appearance and his shoulder never troubled him in any other way. It is said that about a year ago the King overstrained himself while hunting, and that the defect was increased. No good will he ever do with the lance. I opine that this is a visitiation and sign from God. “

This illness came just months after he had suffered from measles and smallpox so his immune system was already in a weakened condition. Edward had improved slightly but by June it was looking likely that the young King would not survive.

Edward VI 1546King Edward VI, aged 9.

On 30th May Scheyfve wrote again regarding Edward’s condition;

The King of England is wasting away daily, and there is no sign or likelihood of any improvement. Some are of opinion that he may last two months more, but he cannot possibly live beyond that time. He cannot rest except by means of medicines and external applications; and his body has begun to swell, especially his head and feet. His hair is to be shaved off and plasters are going to be put on his head. The illness is judged to be the same as that which killed the late Earl of Richmond.”

King Edward’s illness would come in stages and in April, Edward was seen walking through the park at Westminster before moving to his palace at Greenwich but by the end of April he was again weak and suffering. However, just days later on 7th May his doctors were expecting a recovery and Edward sat in a window overlooking the Thames watching the ships sail past the palace. Edward’s recovery was not long lived and on 11th June 1533 Edward relapsed.

With this the seriousness of Edward’s condition had become apparent and the likelihood of him surviving his illness was slim. Edward was soon bedbound after his legs began swelling and he was unable to stand up any longer.

With this news his council sought to change his father, King Henry VIII, will so that Mary would not inherit the throne and return England to Catholicism. Edward did not want to see the country returned to the old religion but also he felt that Mary and Elizabeth were both illegitimate and therefore illegible to take the throne. A document was drawn up entitled ‘My devise for the succession’ in which Edward overruled his father’s wishes in the Third Act of Succession and named Lady Jane Grey, Edward’s cousin, as his successor.

On 15th June Edward summoned his high rank judges to his sickbed and demanded their allegiance. He then called upon his lawyers and councillors to sign a bond that would ask them to perform his will faithfully. This would also see that Lady Jane Grey was placed upon the throne even if they believed the throne should pass to Mary. On 21st June the ‘Devise for Succession’ was passed to and signed by hundreds of councillors, peers, sheriffs, bishops and archbishops who all agreed to follow Edward’s wishes. Many would later claim that they had been bullied by John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland and father in law to Lady Jane.

King Edward VI’s final appearance to his subjects was on 1st July 1533 when he appeared at a window at Greenwich Palace and it was noted how thin he looked. Crowds continued to gather in hope of seeing their king but after two days the crowds were told that the weather was too cold for Edward to appear.

On 6th July at 8pm King Edward VI died, the cause of Edward’s death has been debated ever since with suggestions of tuberculosis, bronchopneumonia and even poisoning. However, it is likely that tuberculosis was the most likely cause of death for the 15 year old King.

Historian Chris Skidmore documents that Edward prayers included;

“Lord God, deliver me out of this miserable and wretched life, and take me among thy chosen: howbeit not my will, but thy will be done. Lord I commit my spirit to thee. O Lord! Thou knowest how happy it were for me to be with thee: yet, for thy chosen’s sake, send me life and health, that I may truly serve thee. O my Lord God, bless thy people, and save thine inheritance! O Lord God save thy chosen people of England! O my Lord God. defend this realm from papistry, and maintain thy true religion; that I and my people may praise thy holy name, for thy Son Jesus Christ’s sake!”

Edward was buried at Westminster Abbey in the Henry VII Lady Chapel on 8th August with the ceremony presided over by Archbishop Cranmer.

Edward’s death would send England into division over the new rightful monarch.

Edward VI tombKing Edward VI tomb at Westminster Abbey