Witness to a Secret: Anne Savage, Lady Berkeley


Witness to a Secret:

In late 1532 the relationship of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn reached a fever pitch. Sometime after their trip to Calais from October – November 1532, Anne, Marquess of Pembroke, discovered she was pregnant. Since Elizabeth was born in September 1533, Anne must have become pregnant with her in December 1532…this would explain the secret marriage in January after Anne realized she was with child. Her pregnancy was the catalyst in a speedy secret wedding on 25 January 1533. If the King were to have a legitimate heir he needed to be married to his son’s mother.

The wedding in 1533 was so secret that not even Cranmer was invited. Nobody knew except those who were witness to the event. Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys also was unaware, we know this because he wrote a letter to his master, Charles V dated 23 February 1533 shows that the marriage was still secret. Chapuys wrote:

The rumour is afloat, and increases every day, that in order to achieve his marriage the King is only waiting for the bulls of the said elect to come [from Rome], and that the more to authorize the case he has commanded those who have charge of convoking provincial synods, whilst the See is vacant, to assemble them for the 17th of next month.

Private Marriage of Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII
Private Marriage of Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII

Those who were present at the secret ceremony must have been much regarded and trusted by both Henry and Anne. Henry Norris, Mr. Heneage and Lady Berkeley. Mr. Rowland, the King’s chaplain performed the ceremony.

“The first whereof was that the King was married to [the] Lady Anne Bulleyne long ere there was any divorce made by the said Archbishop [of Canterbury]. The which marriage a was secretly made at Whitehall very early before day, none being present but Mr Norris and Mr Henage of the Privy Chamber and the Lady Barkeley, with Mr. Rowland the King’s chaplain, that was afterward made Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. To whom the King told that now he had gotten of the Pope a lycence to marry another wife, and yet to avoid business and tumult the thing must be done (quoth the King) very secretly ; and thereupon a time and place was appointed to the said Master Rowland to solemnize the said marriage.” - Ridgway, Claire; TheAnneBoleynFiles.com – 25 January 1533 – Marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

We already are familiar with Henry Norris because he was one of the unfortunate souls that was executed in May 1536 just before Anne Boleyn was unjustly beheaded. I’m not familiar with a “Mr. Henage” other than what it says – that he was a member of the “Privy Chamber.” The Wikipedia page for “Privy Chamber” lists a Sir Thomas Heneage as a “Groom of the Stool” for Henry VIII from 1536-1546, after the execution of his predecessor, Henry Norris. Prior to that he would have been employed in some position in the Privy Chamber which may have been as a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. Regardless, his position must have been one that allowed him to be near the King often, otherwise why would Henry have trusted him enough to keep his wedding secret. A Gentleman of the Privy Chamber would have been responsible for things like dressing and undressing the King – quite intimate if you ask me.

Anne Savage, Lady Berkeley:

Next we have Lady Berkeley. After a little research I realized this refers to Anne Savage, Baroness of Berkeley. Anne Savage during the secret wedding was not quite married to Baron Berkeley because they didn’t marry until April 1533. This would explain why, when it was discovered she was a witness, they referred to her as Lady Berkeley.  It was at the Eve of Easter mass in 1533 when Anne attended mass as Queen.

Anne Savage was the daughter of Sir John Savage (Sheriff of Worcestershire) and his wife Anne Bostock. She married Sir Thomas, Lord Berkeley in April 1533. Their marriage was short-lived since he died in 1534.

Anne Stafford and Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham
Anne Stafford and Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham

Lord Berekely had been a ward of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk when he was a minor and had been originally betrothed to Anne Grey, daughter of the Marquis of Dorset. That betrothal was broken and Berkeley married Mary Hastings. Mary Hastings was the daughter of Anne Stafford and George Hastings, 1st Earl of Huntingdon. Anne Stafford is best known as the sister of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and for being discovered in an affair with a young Henry VIII ( in 1510). When it was discovered Anne Stafford was removed from court by both her brother and husband and sent to a convent.

Eventually Mary died and Lord Berkeley married Anne Savage.


Anne Savage, Lady Berkeley served in the household of Anne Boleyn at the time of her secret wedding. To have been asked to be a witness at the wedding must prove to us that she had a very close relationship with Anne Boleyn.

Anne Savage did not remain long at the new Queen’s court. In Apr 1533, she married Thomas, 6th Baron Berkeley. Anne was a Lady of a masculine spirit, over-powerful with her husband, seldom at rest with herself, never wanting matter of suit or discontent to work upon. Of complexion she was of a comely brown, of a middle stature, and most tender-hearted to her children, whom should would scarcely allow out of her site, so much so that, as they afterwards complained, it interfered with their education. (TudorPlace.ar - source unknown)

Lady Berkeley and her husband had two children together, in quick succession, prior to his death in 1534. – Elizabeth and then Henry. Their son Henry was born after the death of his father and was named for the King, his godfather.


Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies; pages 209-212
‘Spain: March 1533, 1-15’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 4 Part 2, 1531-1533, ed. Pascual de Gayangos (London, 1882), pp. 607-624. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol4/no2/pp607-624 [accessed 4 October 2016].
Ridgway, Claire; TheAnneBoleynFiles.com - 25 January 1533 – Marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn
Wikipedia.com – Privy Chamber
Larson, Rebecca; TudorsDynasty.com - 3rd Duke of Buckingham: Victim of Hearsay
Castelli, Jorge H.; TudorPlace.ar – Anne Savage
Wikipedia – Anne Savage
Grueninger, Natalie; OntheTudorTrail.com – Anne Boleyn’s Marriage to Henry VIII

Facebook no longer shows our posts to a majority of our followers - Don't want to miss out on new articles? Get notified! Subscribe to email updates from Tudors Dynasty.

Join 5,014 subscribers.

Victims of Henry VIII: Edward Stafford


Edward Stafford was born on the 3rd of February 1478 to Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and his wife, Katherine Woodville. Katherine was the sister of Elizabeth Woodville who was queen consort to King Edward IV (Grandfather to Henry VIII).

When Elizabeth Woodville married the King of England her kin were lucky enough to be given good marriages, titles and land. Her sister Katherine was no exception. At roughly seven years old, just before the coronation of her sister, Katherine was married to Henry Stafford – Stafford was merely 11 years old.


Italian Dominic Mancini wrote a report of what he witnessed in England after he left in 1483 and in this report he mentions that young Edward Stafford resented having to marry someone of such low birth – this was a common sentiment at the time at English court. Many resented the Woodville family and regarded them as upstarts.

Forty-four years after their marriage and five monarchs later, Edward Stafford found himself in a heap of trouble. As a descendant of Edward III, Stafford had what some believed to be a stronger claim to the throne since Tudor’s claim was through an illegitimate line. If something were to happen to the King and his daughter Mary, Stafford would be considered next in line to succeed to the throne of England.

After Henry VIII hears of Stafford’s claims that Stafford he orders an investigation. It is treason to speak of yet imagine the death of the King.

“On April 8, 1521, the duke was ordered to London from his castle at Thornbury. He set out for the court, seemingly unaware of any danger, and was greatly shocked when arrested along the way and taken to the Tower. At his trial, he was charged with “imagining and compassing the death of the king,” through seeking out prophecy from a monk named Nicholas Hopkins about the chances of the king having a male heir. Evidence was supposedly obtained from disgruntled former members of the duke’s household.

Buckingham denied all charges. But a jury of 17 peers found him guilty, led by the duke of Norfolk, who condemned him — while weeping.” – ExecutedToday.com

It was also documented in the Letters and Papers that Buckingham was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. The following statement was written by Gasparo Conarini, an Italian diplomat:

The Royal Courts have condemned the Duke of Buckingham to death. He will be definitively sentenced this morning (13 May) at Westminster, the final sentence having been passed ordering him for decapitation; and he is gone back to the Tower to be executed according to the custom here, and they will do by him as was done by his father and grandfather. – Letters & Papers: ‘Venice: May 1521’

The Secretary of the Venetian Ambassador in England, Lodovico Spinello describes the events on the day of Stafford’s execution:

This morning the late Duke of Buckingham was taken “in forza de’ brazi” from the Tower to the scaffold, at the usual place of execution, with a guard of 500 infantry. He addressed the populace in English. Then on his bended knees he recited the penitential psalms, and with the greatest composure calling the executioner, requested that he would dispatch him quickly, and forgave him; after which he took off his gown, and having had his eyes blindfolded, he laid his neck on the block, and the executioner with a woodman’s axe (fn. 11) severed his head from his body with three strokes.

The corpse was immediately placed in a coffin and carried to the church of the Austin Friars, accompanied by six friars and all the infantry.

The death of the Duke has grieved the city universally. Many wept for him, as did one-third of the spectators, among whom was I. Our Italians had not the heart to see him die. And thus miserably, but with great courage, did he end his days on the 17th of May. – Letters & Papers: ‘Venice: May 1521’


As we’ve seen before with the execution of Edmund de la Pole, those with royal blood and viable claims to the crown of England were closely watched, especially when they spoke against the King. Unfortunately, while Stafford’s royal blood indeed gave him cause to believe he should be included in the line of succession it was for the King to decide, not Stafford.


‘Venice: May 1521’, in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 3, 1520-1526, ed. Rawdon Brown (London, 1869), pp. 119-130. British History Onlinehttp://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/venice/vol3/pp119-130 [accessed 16 August 2016].

Larson, Rebecca; 3rd Duke of Buckingham: Victim of Hearsay