Katherine of Aragon’s Ladies at the Beginning

Even though Katherine of Aragon had a large household at the beginning of her reign as queen consort, her ladies-in-waiting only numbered eight.¹ These women would be the most important ladies in the qu

een’s immediate circle. Each of them came from an important family at the Tudor court and each of them were known as beauties in their own right. These women’s charms and talents were shown off frequently while their main role was dancing, singing and conversation – all around entertaining the queen.


Ladies-in-Waiting to Katherine of Aragon

Elizabeth Stafford¹ (c. 1479 – 11 May 1532) was the sister of the Duke of Buckingham and had recently wed Robert Radcliffe, Lord Fitzwalter. Fitzwalter would later become Earl of Sussex around 1529.¹

Elizabeth’s parents were Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Lady Katherine Woodville – sister of Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of King Edward IV. After the execution of Henry Stafford for treason, Elizabeth’s mother married Jasper Tudor.

Anne Stafford¹ (c. 1483–1544), who was also the sister of the Duke of Buckingham, who was a widow and had recently wed Sir George Hastings. Who would become the Earl of Huntington in 1529.¹

Elizabeth’s parents were Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Lady Katherine Woodville – sister of Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of King Edward IV. After the execution of Henry Stafford for treason, Anne’s mother married Jasper Tudor.

Anne Stafford

Margaret Scrope¹ (d. 1515) was the wife of Sir Edmund de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk who had been in the Tower of London since 1506 and was executed in 1513.¹

Margaret was the daughter of Sir Richard Scrope and Eleanor Washbourne.²

Elizabeth Scrope¹ (d. June 26, 1537) was the second wife of John de Vere, Earl of Oxford.¹

Elizabeth was the daughter of Sir Richard Scrope and Eleanor Washbourne.²

She married first, William, 2nd viscount Beaumont. He lost his “reason” in 1487 and was placed in the care of John de Vere, 13th earl of Oxford, until his death. In 1508, Elizabeth married Oxford.²

Elizabeth Scrope

Agnes Tilney¹ (c. 1477 – May 1545) was married to Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey. Surrey would later become 2nd Duke of Norfolk.¹

Agnes was the daughter of Henry Tilney and Eleanor Tailboys. She was also the step-mother of Thomas Howard who would later become 3rd Duke of Norfolk. She was also step-grandmother of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard.


Anne Hastings¹ (c.1471-c.1512) was the daughter of Sir William Hastings and married to George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and Lord Steward.¹

Anne was the daughter of William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings, and Katherine Neville – niece of the “Kingmaker”, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.²

Anne Hastings

Mary Say¹ (1485-June 5, 1535+²) was married to Henry Bourchier, Earl of Essex.¹

Mary was the daughter of Sir William Say and Elizabeth Fray. Her sister, Elizabeth Say was the first wife of William Blount, 4th baron Mountjoy and because of this connection, she is often called Mary Blount, William’s sister, by mistake.

She married Henry Bourchier, earl of Essex in 1497. T

In 1501, Mary was in attendance on Katherine of Aragon after her marriage to Prince Arthur. In 1529, she was one of those to give testimony about whether or not Katherine’s marriage had been consummated. In 1506, the Essex household included both Charles Brandon, who was Essex’s master of horse, and Anne Browne, former maid of honor to Elizabeth of York and Brandon’s on again, off again wife.

Mary was one of Katherine of Aragon’s ladies in waiting in 1509.

Anne Hastings, was the sister of Sir George Hastings and married to Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby

Maids of Honor to Katherine of Aragon

Maria de Salinas¹

Maria de Salinas was the daughter of Juan Sancriz de Salinas and Inez Albernos. Juan de Salinas was secretary to Isabella, Princess of Portugal, oldest sister of Catherine of Aragon. After his death, his six children were raised by his brother Martin and his wife, Maria Martinez de Buendia. Maria came to England in about 1503 to replace Maria de Rojas, who may have been her cousin, as one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies. In 1511, she was godmother to Charles Brandon’s daughter, Mary. By 1514, she was considered to be Queen Catherine’s closest friend.²

Elizabeth Boleyn neé Howard¹

Elizabeth Howard was the daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd duke of Norfolk and Elizabeth Tylney.

Elizabeth married Sir Thomas Boleyn of Blickling, Norfolk c.1499 and had by him three famous children, Mary, Anne and George.

There is no evidence that Elizabeth served Elizabeth of York and although she has long been believed to have been at court as a lady in waiting to Catherine of Aragon, Alison Weir points out in her biography of Mary Boleyn that there is no specific reference to her being there. She suggests that it is Anne Tempest, wife of Edward Boleyn, who was part of Queen Catherine’s household. Both Lady Boleyns were at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520.²

Lucy Talbot², daughter of Anne Hastings and George Talbot is believed to have been a Maid of Honor to the queen.²


¹Jones, Philippa; The Other Tudors – Henry VIII’s Mistresses and Bastards; pages 59-60

²Emerson, Kathy Lynn; Index to A Who’s Who of Tudor Women

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Elizabeth Scrope: Denial of Wolsey’s Request

Elizabeth (1)

Cardinal Wolsey was arguably the most powerful man during the early years of Henry VIII’s reign. To deny him was close to denying your king. The fact that Elizabeth Scrope did just that and stood up for herself was remarkable.

Elizabeth Scrope

Elizabeth Scrope was the daughter of Sir Richard Scrope of Boulton and Eleanor Washbourne.¹ Elizabeth was married twice. Her first husband was William Beaumont, 2nd Viscount Beaumont. Beaumont suffered from mental illness and Parliament ruled that his land and estates were to be his handled by his comrade, John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford. After Beaumont’s death in 1507 and the death of Oxford’s wife the same year, he became the second husband of Elizabeth Scrope.

Elizabeth Scrope, the Countess of Oxford and her sister, Margaret Scrope, Countess of Suffolk were both Ladies-in-Waiting to Henry VIII’s first wife Katherine of Aragon.² She also served the previous queen consort Elizabeth of York.

At the time of his death, the Earl of Oxford was staying at Wivenhoe and Castle Hedingham in Essex. This would explain why Wolsey was writing his widow, the now dowager Countess of Oxford, about obtaining stone from another location in Essex. Harwich.

First Letter – In Response to Wolsey’s Request

WOLSEYThis correspondence is in response to a request from Cardinal Wolsey in 1528.

To my Lord Cardinal’s good grace,

Pleaseth it youR grace, I have received your honourable letters dated the 2d of July, whereby I perceive your request is that I would grant unto your grace, for the foundation of your college in Ipswich as much stone and calions out of my cliff of Harwich as will be thought necessary by the masters of your works there for the foundation of the same; to the which your grace’s request I am as glad and desirous to condescend, if it might there be had without prejudice or hurt in time coming unto my town there.

And where upon the request made in your grace’s name by your chaplain, in that behalf, I sent my receiver Daniell there to meet your said chaplains, to the intent that they then and there my perceive and know how much might resonably be borne; and it was well perceived, and I credibly informed by the tenants and inhabitants there, little might be forborne, unless the town’s great prejudice, forasmuch as the cliff is not of stone,, but only the stone there remaining lieth as a foreland to defend the same: if that were gone the cliff to be washed away within short space, to the utter destruction of the town. notwithstanding, as much as might be reasonably forborne your grace to have the same, to stay your works for the time. Certifying your grace, in that being nothing prejudicial unto the strength and defence of the town, I would as gladly to do your grace pleasure as any poor woman living. Beseeching your grace to accept herein my good mind, who is always at your commandment; as knoweth our Lord, who preserve your grace in prosperous estate long to endure.

Written the 8th day of July.

Your continual beadwoman,

E. Oxford

The above letter explains to Wolsey that she cannot under good conscience allow his men to take stone from Harwich since what remains there cannot be removed. If the existing stone is removed, the cliff will wash away and destroy the town. Seems like a logical reason to deny his request, right? We do not have Wolsey’s reply to her but her response back shows that he was none too pleased with her denial of his request.

Second Letter

WOLSEY (1)Pleaseth your grace, I have received your honourable letters, dated the 15th day of July; the contents whereof being not a little to my discomfort. Where your grace doth suppose my denial of your request for the stone and calions was but a pretence of hinderance to my town of Harwich, I humbly beseech your grace to accept therein my true and faithful mind, and not to conject it to be done under any such manner. And to the intent your grace shall well perceive in any wise I would avoid your displeasure, and glad to do the thing to your grace most acceptable, and ever have been, am very well contented you shall take your pleasure in my said haven, and have not denied your formal request by any manner wilfulness, but only did give your grace knowledge as I was informed by credible persons. Humbly beseeching your grace in like manner to accept, and be it hurtful or otherwise, your grace to do your pleasure; forasmuch as I always have found you my most gracious and very singlular good lord, not doubting of the same hereafter. And thus the blessed Trinity preserve your grace in prosperous estate, long to endure.

Written the 22nd day of July.

Your continual beadwoman,

E. Oxford

The outcome of these letters is unknown. I have been unable to find out if Wolsey demanded she heed his request. Either way, the fact that Elizabeth Scrope was a woman, and a widow at that, who was brave enough to stand up to Wolsey and deny his request is amazing. She should be applauded for her bravery.

Ipswich College

Building began in 1528 on a very ambitious project for a college in Ipswich. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was an Ipswich native and intended the new school to be a feeder to his recently built ‘Cardinal’s College’ of Oxford University, which is now known as Christ Church.  Unfortunately, Wolsey fell out of favor with Henry VIII (probably because of Anne Boleyn) and the college was demolished in 1530 – it was only half built. The only thing left standing is the cherished ‘Wolsey Gate’.

Wolsey's Gate via Ipswich Town & Waterfront
Wolsey’s Gate – Credit: Ipswich Town & Waterfront


Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain, Volume 3 – page 23-26

¹ The Practice and Representation of Reading in England by James Raven, Helen Small, Naomi Tadmor

² The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII: The Women’s Stories, by Amy Licence; page 49

Ipswich History – Wolsey’s Gate

History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Suffolk, and the Towns Near Its Borders by William White


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