Illegitimate Children of Henry VIII

Written by Rebecca Larson

Many ruling English monarchs fathered illegitimate children – Henry VIII was no exception. The one illegitimate child we know the most about is Henry Fitzroy, son of Elizabeth “Bessie” Blount.

Henry Fitzroy – Born 15 June 1519

Henry Fitzroy was born 15 June 1519 to Elizabeth “Bessie” Blount and Henry VIII. The King thought he would never have a son – the birth, and survival of Henry Fitzroy proved to him that the problem stemmed from his wife and queen, Katherine of Aragon. The boy was given the name “Fitzroy” to show that the king acknowledged his bastard son, for the name “Fitzroy” means, “son of the king.”

Henry Fitzroy (illegitimate) 15 June 1519 - 23 July 1536 (Bessie Blount)
Henry Fitzroy (illegitimate) 15 June 1519 – 23 July 1536 (Bessie Blount)

As far as Henry Fitzroy’s story goes he was the luckiest of the illegitimate children of Henry VIII. Since the king seemed unable to have a son with Katherine of Aragon, it put more significance on the fact that he was able to produce a healthy boy with his mistress, Lady Blount. At the age of six, on 24 Apr 1525, Fitzroy was created Knight of the Garter. Then on 16 Jun of 1525 he was also titled, Earl of Nottingham and Duke of Richmond. Only a month later he was titled Admiral of England, Ireland and Normandy.


Others suspected of being Henry VIII’s illegitimate children include:

Thomas Stukley (Stukeley, Stuckley, Stucley) –  Born 1520

It has been speculated that Jane Pollard was mistress to Henry VIII and Thomas was Henry’s illegitimate son. Thomas Stukely was born c. 1520 to Jane Pollard, the wife of Sir Hugh Stukley. Thomas was an English mercenary who died at the Battle of Alcazar in 1578.

Stukeley and Henry VIII (1533)

Elizabeth Tailboys – Born c. April 1520

Elizabeth Tailboys was born c. April 1520 to Elizabeth “Bessie” Blount, wife of Gilbert Tailboys, and half-sister to Henry Fitzroy. Some believe that Elizabeth is also the daughter of Henry VIII since she was supposedly conceived shortly after Bessie gave birth to Henry Fitzroy. Also, Gilbert and Bessie married within weeks of Henry’s birth – Bessie was most likely pregnant when they married. The quick marriage could have been a way for the king to cover up the fact that he fathered another illegitimate child with Bessie.

If Elizabeth had been a boy, would Henry VIII tried to claim the child and name him Fitzroy as well?

“There is also evidence that Henry VIII took an interest in Elizabeth Tailboys, above and beyond that which would be expected of the child of a former mistress. During his northern progress in 1541, for example, Henry spent the night of 13 October at Nocton in Lincolnshire, the home of Elizabeth Tailboys and her first husband, Thomas Wymbish. It was also Henry who provided this wealthy husband for Elizabeth.”

Catherine Carey – c. 1524

Catherine Carey was the daughter of Henry VIII’s mistress, Mary Boleyn. Mary was the sister of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. In 1520 Mary wedded William Carey. Catherine was born c. 1524, and it is suspected that Henry had continued his affair with Mary after she had married William Carey – we all know, what the king wanted, he got. In the portrait below of Catherine there is an uncanny resemblance to Henry VIII.

  • The husband of Mary (Boleyn) Carey, William Carey received Royal Grants in 1524 and 1526. Those grants are thought to coincide with the birth of Catherine and her brother, Henry Carey. It is believed that Henry VIII was compensating William Carey for the fact that these were not his (William’s) biological children, and that his wife was having an affair with the King of England.
  • When Henry VIII wanted a papal dispensation to marry Anne Boleyn, he is suspected of doing so because he fathered children with her sister, Mary.

Richard Edwardes – Born 25 March 1525

Richard Edwardes/Edwards was born 25 March 1525 to Agnes Blewitt Edwards. Richard was an English poet, playwright and composer – all of which Henry VIII was also known for. Richard Edwardeswas made a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and became master of the singing boys. He was also rumoured to be an illegitimate son of Henry VIII.

There is not much information regarding his mother or Richard himself, which leads us to believe that he was not an illegitimate child of Henry VIII, or that we need more information.

To see an example of one of his poems – Click <HERE>


Henry Carey – 4 March 1526

Henry Carey was the second child of Henry VIII’s mistress, Mary (Boleyn) Carey and her husband, William Carey. He was born 4 March 1526. Some historians have also speculated that he might have been an illegitimate child of Henry VIII.

When William Carey died on 23 June 1528, Anne Boleyn was granted the wardship of her nephew. Why wouldn’t Mary be allowed to raise her own son after the death of her husband? Seems a little strange.

In April 1535, the nine year old Henry Carey was apparently living at Syon, Isleworth, Middlesex when he was referred to as the king’s son.

Henry Carey died 23 July 1596 and was buried in St. John the Baptist’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey, at Queen Elizabeth I’s expense. Although Henry Carey was known to be poor, his tomb was the was the tallest in Westminster Abbey, at thirty-six feet high. It was made of alabaster and marble.




Etherlreda “Audrey” Malte – 1527

Ethelreda Malte  was born c. 1527 to Joan Dingley, alias Dobson and her husband, John Malte.

Ehtelreda “Audrey”was an English courtier who was reputed to be an illegitimate daughter of King Henry VIII. She was the wife of poet and writer John Harington.

Reports claim “Audrey” was fathered by Henry VIII, but not much is known about her mother – Joan Dingley/Dobson; under the circumstances, Joan would have been a member of the lesser nobility, not well-connected at court. One theory is she was a laundress, although Henry never openly acknowledged “Audrey”, he did give John Malte land and properties after Malte recognized her as his own daughter.

John Perrot – November 1528

John Perrot was born in November 1528 to Mary Berkeley, the wife of Sir Thomas Perrot.

John Perrot resembled Henry VIII in temperament and physical appearance, and it was believed he was the bastard son of Henry VIII.

His mother had been, briefly, mistress of Henry VIII, and his paternity has been ascribed to the King whom he resembled in physique and coloring.

The main source for this belief was Sir Robert Naunton (husband of Perrot’s granddaughter, Penelope), who had never known Perrot and used second-hand accounts to make his case. The case is weakened by the fact that Perrot was Mary Berkeley’s third child, not her first, and that she and the King are not recorded to have been in the same place at the crucial time. 

Naunton claimed that Sir Owen Hopton, Lieutenant of the Tower of London, overheard Perrot say, “Will the Queen suffer her brother to be offered up as a sacrifice to the envy of his frisking adversaries?”, suggesting that Perrot himself asserted his royal paternity. However, Hopton had been removed from office by the Queen eighteen months prior to Perrot’s imprisonment, so he could not have overheard Perrot make the claim there.”


The Anne Boleyn Files,%20Kings%201066-1603.htm#HenryVIIIdied1547B

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  1. On this subject, at Clonoy Castle in Ireland is the tombstone of Mary and Elizabeth Boleyn who are listed as descendants of George Boleyn son of Sir Thomas Boleyn Earl of Wiltshire.This is engraved on their tombstone. They are some connection to Anne, and by extension to Queen Elizabeth !, but have never heard of him having children with his wife Jane, Lady Rochford. Unless he did have a son who was illegitamite at some point in time.

  2. Hi, we must be distant cousins as John Thomas Perrott,was my 13th Great Grandfather, son of Henrys by his mistress Lady Mary anne Berkeley……….My 13th Great Grandparents were Sir William Lovelace and his wife,Lady Elizabeth Aucher,and their daughter Lady Anne Lovelace and her husband Rev John Gorsuch, are my 12th, they went to America with their children,he was a quacker, he was Killed by Indians..Her Brother William,and brother Richard Lovelace, went to America, they became the first Governors of NewYork and Hatten Island, they had a settlement on Hatten Island,and built the famous Lovelace Tavern,Richard was a Soldier and a famous poet,William was also a soldier..they returned to England..

  3. (Original research worthy of corroboration/ further investigation clearly irrelevant to the specific case of the paternity of Francis Hastings) (Joanna DINGLEY had married 1st Sir James DINGLEY of Northleach Gloucestershire (son of William DINGLEY and Alice HARDWICK. Alices brother was John, whose granddaughter was Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury aka Building Bess. 2nd Joanna married Richard Dobbis/ Dobson/ Dobbs Mayor of London (1551). Joannas maiden name was MOORE. Her mother was Eleanor MILBORNE, daughter of Sir Simon MILBORNE of Tillington & Icomb Sheriff of Herefordshire (1464 & 1480), whose sister was Blanche (Lady Troy) whose first husband was Sir James WHITNEY of Whitney and Pen-cwm d. 30 Jul 1500 and her 2nd husband was Sir William HERBERT of Troy Parva, the illegitimate son of Sir William HERBERT Earl of Pembroke and therefore the half-brother of Sir Walter HERBERT Knt. of Raglan d. 16 Sep 1507 (If both Sir Walter HERBERT Knt. of Raglan and William HERBERT 1st Earl of Huntingdon (14511491) (who married Catherine daughter of Richard III King of England (1483-1485))s mother was Anne, daughter of Sir Walter DEVEREUX Chancellor of Ireland then Walter might have been the heir of his brother as Earl of Pembroke).
    After her relationship with King Henry VIII (Sep 1534), Joanna DINGLEY married as her 3rd husband, Michael ASHFIELD of Farmington Gloucestershire. (He was second cousin of King Edward VI). Michaels mother was Eleanor SEYMOUR, so she was first cousin of Jane, 3rd wife of King Henry VIII. Her grandfather was John SEYMOUR Sheriff of Wiltshire (1457-1458) was great grandfather of Queen Jane SEYMOUR (3rd wife of King Henry VIII). Joanna DINGLEYs fourth husband was Thomas PARKER of Notgrove in Gloucestershire. His brother was William PARKER the abbot of Gloucester and his uncle was Henry Parker, 10th Baron Morley (1480/1481 1556), was an English peer and translator. His father was Sir William PARKER standard bearer of Richard III. So it can be said with certainty that Joanna DINGLEY was not a laundry woman but a member of the aristocracy as she was the niece of Lady Troy (and Sir William HERBERT of Troy Parva).
    It is possible that Henry Fitzroy was recognised as a natural son of Henry VIII by the Elizabeth Blount because she was not yet married. However she was quickly married off to Gilbert Tailboys 1st Lord Tailboys.

    • to the lady who thought William Carey was a relative of the king- No, he was the 1st husband of Mary Boleyn, anne boleyn’s sister.; to those of you who like myself who believe mary boleyn’s kids are sired by henry 8th please go to the tudor society and get the host Claire Ridgeway to believe it She won’t She thinks she’s an expert and she’s convinced henry 8th never sired Catherine and Henry jr.

      • Mary and William Carey had two children.When William died,Mary fell in love with my Grt Grt………Grt Uncle Sir William Stafford, soldier..knight,King Henry and Mary’s sister Anne didn’t agree with them getting married,but they did anyway,and Mary never saw her sister Anne again,as they were banished from court..William and Mary were very happy, and had two children,William and Anne..Mary died, and later William married his second cousin,who was Lady of The Robes to the Queen,she was Lady Dorothy Stafford,my grtggggggggggrt Aunt,they had a happy marriage and five children,they moved to Geneva, when William died,,she brought the children back to Westminster Palace,she was Lady of The Robes to the Queen of England for the next forty years..Their children were all given titles..She is buried in Westminster Cathedral…

      • He did Sire Catherine and Henry, and he paid William Carey well, with land and manors and titles…Mary was pushed into the relationship with Henry by her family, who wanted her to become Queen, but after a few years Henry only had eyes for her sister Anne, so they told Mary ,who loved Henry, to step aside,as they knew he would never marry her,,, Anne could not produce a son for him, so when she was queen,she took Marys son Henry for her own, and he would have been heir to the throne after Henry, but eventually after William Carey died, Marys new husband William Stafford, whom she loved dearly, had a secret marriage, and had a daughter with at the time, eventually managed to get him back again…

      • Well maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. But there does seem to be a family resemblance, so it is possible. Henry certainly could have had other children, but there wasn’t DNA back in those days, and no one is going to dig any of these people up to have proof positive.

    • That’s what I always look at too, the ears. Many children especially boys get their ears from their fathers. Of course not all do but a lot.

  4. I descend through Mary Boleyn to Catherine Carey on my maternal side as well as Owen Tudor Catherine Valois. My Father’s side is double descended from Audrey/ Ethelralda Maulte the Kings London Taylor and our 7th and 8th grandfathers of proved 6th great grandfather John Rice of Dedham , Ma 1624 son of Perrot ap Rice `1598 the Kngs great grandson via John Perrot ‘s daughter: Margaret Mercer 1580, who’s mother was Johanna Lovelace Mercer. DCR 1948

    • My 13th Grt Grandfather is Henry V111 ,with Lady Mary Anne 13th, they had a son,Thomas John,and he took Marys husbands name Perrott, who is my 12th Grt…This line comes from my 3rd Grt grandmother Matilda Chaplain,it goes to Jenkins,and to Perrott…Sir William Lovelace and his wife Lady Elizabeth Aucher are my 16th Grt Grandparents…..My Stafford family are the Earls,Dukes,Barons of Gloucester..Matilda married ChRles Stafford..Matilda’s line leads to William the Conqueror,my 27th, ,to Rollo,Duke of Normandy,and to Charlemagne,my 37th Grt grandfather..King Edward 111 was the Grt Grandfather of my GrtggggggggGrandfather Sir Henry Stafford,who married Lady Catherine Woodville,sister to Elizabeth,Queen Consort..He was beheaded aged 28 by the King,who thought Henry’s claim to the throne was a threat..Family did not count in those days…

    • Hi,
      We are related as John Thomas Perott is my 12th great Grandfather, son of Henry V111,by Lady Mary Anne Berkeley, who are my 13th Grt grandparents…………Anne Lovelace, married Rev John Goruch, and are my GreatgggggggggggGrandparents, she was the daughter of Sir William Lovelace and Lady Elizabeth Aucher…….

  5. Like almost all other writers: You have missed the most obvious bastard son: Born to Laundress of Lady Rhys ap Thomas, and 3rd cousin of the king…Beatrice ap Rhys -Gardiner 1487 4 years older than Henry VIII. He spotted her at Calis June 1520 and “Hal or Harry” was born in the spring 1521. His entire education was paid for out of Princess Mary Tudor’s household expense. His sister Mary born 1530 was also raised at the Castle of Princess Mary Tudor. Harry’s education at Durham Priory and his clothing board were gifted by Mary the princess. And Beatrice was sangged away from the Rhys ap Thomas family of Carew and stayed with Mary from 1520-1558 when Mary Tudor the Queen died. See History of Parliment on Line. D. Charles Rice 1948 of the Nebraska Dudley-Tudors

  6. Apart from Fitzroy all these cases are highly speculative and based on rumour i.e Henry could have had these children so he probably did.

    • I have news for you kid! Henry had his pants off more than he had them on! He fathered a lot of children. There is a club in Chicago called the Royal Bastards Society. The genealogist was tired of hearing people making claims they were related to the Royal family so, he set the standards high. They had to PROVE IT! They also had to do the genealogy to show the path of their relationship! The rules were more STRICK than you can imagine! So IF you think you belong you can apply!
      Providing you can prove it!

  7. It might be a possibility. I knew only about Fitzroy and the children of Mary Boleyn. However, there is a belief that he didn’t take any other mistress after he fell in love with Anne Boleyn somewhere around 1526.

    • I would love to be certain, as a genealogist and historical researcher, to know if my 12th Great Grandmother. (Catherine Carey) was indeed Henry’s daughter as this would actually affect my bloodline and lineage.

        • Hi, Henry is my 13th great Grandfather,with his longtime mistress Lady Mary Anne Berkeley.They had a son Thomas John,who he adored,and to which he gave many titles..He is my 12th Grt Grandfather?Mary,s married name was Perrott,and Thomas took that name……I am just reading the book The Ofher Boleyn Girl, Mary Boleyn was married at 14to William Carey,but she fell for Henry, he for her, and I have got to where she is pregnant to Henry,and she has to name the baby when it is born,Carey,Later Mary,s husband got killed,and she married my grtgggggggggg Uncle Sir William Stafford..Her sister Anne Boleyn was married to Henry at this time, they banished Mary and William from Court and Mary never saw Anne again, seven years later,Henry had Anne beheaded…Mary and William had two children together, after Mary had died, Eilliam married my GrtggggggggAunt Lady Dorothy Stafford, Lady of The Robes, she was his cousin…

          • Hello cousin! John Thomas Perrott was my 13th great grandfather. I would love to somehow find confirmation that we are descendants of Henry. I wholeheartedly believe that Henry was the biological father of Thomas John Perrott. I would also love to learn more of Mary Berkeley.

          • I read that William and Mary has no children (at least that lived), but William and Dorothy had 3 sons and 3 daughters. Ive traced my family tree back to William and Dorothy Stafford.

          • GWilliam and Mary had two children…..Lady Dorothy Stafford is my GrtgggggggggggggAunt, her and William Staffird,who was her cousin,had a very happy marriage, Dirothy returned to the Palace and was the Queens Lady of the Robes for 40years,she died aged 68 and is interned in West Minster Abbey,there is a large effigy in the left hand isle of the Abbey…She was well loved and respected…

      • A friend, Sophia Mortimer Schutts, told me before she died that a relative had traced her family back to Catherine Carey. Sophias mothers maiden name was Walker. Im not sure if it was through the maternal or paternal line

  8. The supposed portrait of Richard Edwardes shown next to Henry VIII looks more like Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400). The same portrait was identified as Edwardes in the Wikipedia article on him, and attributed to John Dryden, an admirer of Chaucer. Why would Edwardes be portrayed as dressed in 14th-century clothing? There is obviously a mistake here. Here are similar Chaucer portraits:

  9. Henry sure seemed to be busy. I had read he was rather modest. I do know that it was a common practice to bed married women of Henry’s court..

    • Modest! False modesty maybe. I think he was insecure and easily threatened, but he certainly expected his talents and gifts to be praised…one of his favorite things to do was dress in disguise and try to trick others into admiring him for his abilities. Unfortunately for him, he was a good head taller than just about everyone and pretty easily picked out of a crowd so this was almost always a fake response anyway. lol.

      • Remember he was the 2nd son, he was not sired to be King. His life changed from being then 2nd son to KING back in the day I am sure that was very odd.

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