The Confession of Lady Elizabeth



Confession of Lady Elizabeth

The downfall of Thomas Seymour caused many important people to be questioned about his actions, as well as their own. Lady Elizabeth Tudor was no exception. Her relationship with Seymour was complicated to say the least. His own behavior, especially after the death of his wife Katherine Parr, is what led to his execution. The below statements are the “confession” of Lady Elizabeth regarding her relationship with Thomas Seymour. In  1549, Elizabeth was 15 or 16 years old.

England 1549:

The original questions that she is referencing (as numbered) are not within this document. It also appears that Elizabeth wrote most of this by her own hand and the rest was written for her my Mr. Robert Tyrwhitt. Tyrwhitt and his wife Elizabeth served in the household of Katherine Parr – Robert as a Master of Horse and his wife, Elizabeth was related to Katherine and also worked in her household. Elizabeth Tyrwhitt was known to have provided information regarding the Lord Admiral, Thomas Seymour that made him look guilty of the death of his sweet wife and of his inappropriate relationship with young Lady Elizabeth. The Tyrwhitts were sent to Hatfield House by the Council to care for Lady Elizabeth in place of Kat Ashley and Thomas Parry, who were seen to be promoting the cause of Thomas Seymour.



I’ve attempted to translate most of this into modern English but you’ll find certain words that I was unable to determine what she meant. When you come across one of those it will be in “quotes”.

  1. Kat Ashley told me, after that my Lord Admiral was to the Queen, that if my Lord might have had his own will, he would have had me, before the Queen. Then I asked her how she knew that: Then she said, she knew it well enough, both by himself and by others. The place, where she said this, I have forgotten, for she had spoken to me of him many times, and of the which I have forgotten several times.
  2. Another time, after the Queen was dead, Kat Ashley would have had me to write a letter to my Lord Admiral, to have comforted him of his sorrow, because he had been my friend in the Queen’s time; for he would think great kindness there. Then I said I would not do so, for it needs not: Then said she; If your Grace will not, then I will. And as I do remember I did see it; but what the effect of it was I do not remember.
  3. Another time I asked her, what news was at London; and she said, that the rumors there were that the Lord Admiral should marry me: Then I smiled at it, and said, it was but a London news (rumor).
  4. Another time, she said, you shall see shortly, that he that would gladly have had you, before he married the Queen, will come now to woo you: Then I answered her, though he himself would peraventur (perhaps) have me, yet I think the Counsel will not consent to it; for, I think, by that you said, that if he had his own will, he would have had me, I thought there was no lette (hindrance), but only the Counsel, of his part.
  5.  Another time; I suspect she told me that if the Counsel did consent to it, she thought it was not amiss. Be which sayings, and all the rest, ‘That if the Counsel would consent to it, I thought she had right good will thereunto.’
  6. How be it at another time she said, she would not wish I should have him for because that she, that he had before, did so miscarry. Another time when Parry had written that my Lord Admiral would lend me his house; when she had read it, she told me it was best for “Pary” to ask Master Denny’s advice therefore; and so she sent him word.
  7. After, when Parry had declared to me, for Alen’s matter, what my Lord Admiral had said, and also for Durham-Place, he told me, that my Lord asked, whether my patent was sealed or no. He told me, that my Lord told him the expenses of his house, and inquired of mine.
  8. Another time, he asked me whether, if the Council did consent thereto, to have my Lord Admiral, whether I would consent or no. Then I asked him what he meant to ask me that, or who bade him to say so: He answered that nobody bade him to say so; but that he gathered by his asking of these questions before, that he meant some such thing: Then I said it was but his “fowlych” gathering.
  9. Another time he told me, that my Lord Admiral wished that my lands were changed into certain land that were the Queens.
  10. Another time he brought me commendations from my Lord Admiral, and said that he advised me to make haste to get my patent sealed, and get it into my hands: Then I asked him why so hastily; then he said, he thought, when I had my patent, that he would go about to get the Council’s consent to have me.
  11. Another time he told me, that my Lord Admiral would wish me that I lay at Ashridge, because that when he went down into the country, it was on his way, and that he would see me.

My Lord, these are the articles which I do remember, that both she and the Cofferer (Parry) talked with me of; and if there be any more behind which I have not declared as yet, I shall most heartily desire your Lordship and the rest of Council, not to think that I do willingly council them, but that I have indeed forgotten them. For if I did know them, and did not declare them, I was wonderfully about above all the rest to be rebuked, considering how friendly your Grace has both written to me in letters, and counselled me by messages, to declare what I know herein. Also I assure you Lordship that if there be any more which I have not told (which I think there not be) I will send you word of them, as they come to mind.

Your assured friend to my little power,

Elizabeth

Source:

Burghley & Haynes; A Collection of State Papers: relating to Affairs In the Reigns of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth : From the year 1542 to 1570; pages 102-103

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