Tag Archives: Mary Seymour

On this day in 1580 – Katherine Willoughby died

Katherine Willoughby was born on 22nd March 1519 to William Willoughby and his wife Maria de Salinas. She was born at Parham Old Hall in Suffolk. Her mother Maria was of Spanish origin that came to England in the service of the future queen, Katherine of Aragon.

Katherine was raised at Parham whilst her mother attended on the Queen but when she was only seven, in 1526, her father died and Katherine as their only child inherited her father’s barony and all his property, making her a very wealthy child. However, Katherine’s inheritance was fought over within her family due to doubt over which land was left to male heirs and which to heirs general. It would be an ongoing battle.

Due to the death of Katherine’s father she was now the ward of King Henry VIII. Wards were often granted to the king if a father had died to take the financial strain off the mother in her times of need. As a result of this the King sold his ward to his closest friend and brother in law, Charles Brandon. Brandon acting for his ward soon became involved in her ongoing struggle to claim her inheritance by writing a letter to Cardinal Wolsey.

Katherine was betrothed to Brandon’s son, Henry but when Brandon’s wife and the king’s sister, Mary Tudor died in 1533 Brandon, aged 49 began showing an interest in his 14 year old ward. The betrothal between his son and Katherine was broken and six weeks after his wife’s death Brandon married Katherine. Katherine bore two sons to Brandon, one called Henry and the other Charles. She also raised Brandon’s first son from his previous marriage, the boy Katherine was originally intended to marry.

Brandon died in 1545 with Katherine only in her mid 20’s. It is believed that following the death of his friend the king viewed Katherine as a potential seventh wife. However, nothing came of this and the king remained married to Catherine Parr until his death in 1547.

Following Henry’s death and that of the dowager Queen Catherine, she was awarded the wardship of Catherine Parr and Thomas Seymour’s daughter and in later years also Lady Mary Grey. Tragedy struck Katherine in 1551 when both her sons caught the sweating sickness and died within an hour of each other.

Katherine married for a second time to Richard Bertie, this appears to be a love match as he was a member of her household. They also shared the same religious beliefs, their beliefs would cause them to flee to the continent during the reign of Queen Mary I. They returned to England in 1559 and continued living at Katherine’s estate, Grimsthorpe. Katherine and Richard had two children Peregrine and Susan.

Katherine’s battle over her estates were not resolved until Queen Elizabeth I took the throne.

Katherine died on 19th September 1580 and is buried with her second husband, Richard, in Spilsby, Lincolnshire.

Katherine WilloughbyKatherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk

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