NEW SEASON: Tracy Borman, Jane Boleyn and Lady Anne Clifford

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared my podcast with all of you – in case you didn’t know, I supplemented my website with a podcast in February 2017. I told a lot of stories about people and events in Tudor England, and then I moved to interviewing authors and historians. THIS season, I step it up with a 3-segment show! Please take a listen to my most recent episode featuring Tracy Borman. Adrienne Dillard answers listener questions about Jane Boelyn, Lady Rochford during ‘Ask the Expert’, and lastly, I tell you all about Lady Anne Clifford in ‘A Brief History’.

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Jane and George Boleyn’s Children (Guest Post)

Guest post by Danielle Marchant

Anne Boleyn’s younger brother, George, was married to Jane Parker for over ten years. However, they never had children of their own. Often in Historical Fiction, one of the reasons why their marriage is viewed as an unhappy one is due to the lack of children produced. However, was it true that the couple never had children? There have been several people linked to George Boleyn, raising the question of whether he may have had an illegitimate heir.

The Boleyn Girls of Clonony

It may be possible that he had an illegitimate son who grew up in Ireland away from the English court. At Clonony Castle, Ireland, the remains of two bodies were found in the early 19th century. It is believed that these were the great granddaughters of George, Elizabeth and Mary Boleyn.

Clonony Castle had originally been given to the Henry VIII by John Og MacCoghlan. The castle was then given to Thomas Boleyn. According to the story, after George’s execution, his illegitimate son was moved to Clonony for safety. Therefore, Elizabeth and Mary were descended from this young boy.

The two girls, however, also met a tragic end. Elizabeth died young and Mary devastated, threw herself from Clonony Castle Tower. They were buried behind the castle and the grave was eventually forgotten about, until it was discovered in the 19th century. They were found under a tomb slab, which had the following inscription:

“Here under leys Elizabeth and Mary Bullyn daughters of Thomas Bullyn son of George Bullyn, the son of George Bullyn Viscount Rochford son of Sir Thomas Bullyn Earle of Ormonde and Wiltshire.”

The tomb slab was discovered by labourers who were gathering stone for building work near the castle, in 1803. They found a cave about hundred yards from the castle. In the cave they found a coffin cut in the Limestone rock, which contained the two bodies. The slab was referred to locally as the monument of “Queen Elizabeth’s cousins”.

At the time of the discovery, the Earl of Rosse, a descendant of Alice, daughter of Sir William Boleyn of Blickling, showed paintings to a journalist of two unknown, young women at Birr Castle. The paintings were marked to indicate that the girls were 18 and 19 years old when they were painted in 1567. The Earl suggested that these two young women in the portrait were Elizabeth and Mary Boleyn and were hence the girls found in the tomb.

However, it is believed that they are actually linked to the Boleyn family via the Clere family. Therefore, it’s possible that the girls were in fact Margaret and Elizabeth Clere, born in 1548 and 1547, daughters of John Clere of Ormesby St. Margaret, Norfolk. He was son of Robert Clere and Alice Boleyn, Anne’s aunt.

George Boleyn, Dean of Lichfield

George Boleyn, who was Dean of Lichfield from 1576 up to his death in 1603, has also been linked to Anne’s brother, George, as his son, either by Jane Parker, or illegitimately. The Dean referred to himself as a kinsman of the Carey and Knollys family, who were both families linked to Mary Boleyn.

In 1597, George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon and Mary Boleyn’s grandson, sent a letter to Lord Burghley asking for advice petitioning Elizabeth I, concerning the earldom of Ormond. This earldom had once been held by his great-grandfather, Thomas Boleyn, so Hunsdon’s claim was that he believed that the title should have been handed down to his father and then, to himself because of their connection to Thomas’ eldest daughter, Mary Boleyn. So, if George Boleyn, Dean of Lichfield, was in fact George Boleyn’s son, wouldn’t it have been the case that he should have petitioned about his claim to the title instead of George Carey? However, this issue was not raised at the time, so adding doubt to whether he was George Boleyn’s son.

In the end, Thomas Boleyn passed on the ancestral claim to the St Leger branch of the family – because his son, George Boleyn, had died without a son. Therefore, if the Dean was George’s son, there’s no doubt that he would have inherited it. Even if the Dean was illegitimate, it would have still been expected that he would have been looked after in some way and recognised by the surviving Boleyn relatives. If George Boleyn did have an illegitimate son, there would have been no reason for him not to recognise him, especially as he had no legitimate heirs with Jane.

Edmund Sheffield

Even though it seems unlikely that Jane and George had children of their own, one thing we do definitely know is that in April 1533, Jane and George were granted wardship of twelve year old Edmund Sheffield. This was probably the nearest they experienced to some kind of parenthood.

Edmund was a distant relation of the King and being granted his wardship was a reward from the King to Jane and George for their loyalty to him. Edmund was the son of Sir Robert Sheffield and his wife, Jane Stanley, who was the daughter of George Stanley, Lord Strange. His father had died in 1531 and Edmund would be the heir to his father’s land in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. Not only was this wardship a reward for their loyalty to the King, but it also meant if Jane and George did have a girl, Edmund could be a potential husband for her.

As George’s wife, it would have been Jane’s duty to produce an “heir”. Therefore, for Jane to be married to George for that long and still not have at least one child, this would have been seen as very odd by 16th century standards. Unfortunately, there are no records of miscarriages and we can’t rule out the possibility that either or both Jane and George may have suffered from fertility problems.

Even though there are no records of Jane having miscarriages, this doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. It is possible that Jane maybe did eventually fall pregnant. However, as there are no records of Jane having children with George, if Jane did fall pregnant, unfortunately the children were not carried to full term.

The question on whether George and Jane did have children of their own is definitely still a much debated area. The gaps in what we know so far, have been filled in by Historical Fiction and in most cases, this has not necessarily been a good thing, as it has on its own helped to fuel the idea their marriage was an unhappy one.


Clonony Castle, Ireland. Taken from

Sources and suggested further reading:

“George Boleyn – Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat” – Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway, MadeGlobal Publishing, 2014.

“Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford” – Julia Fox, Phoenix, 2007.

About the Author: Danielle Marchant

I am an Independent Author from London, UK. Parts 1, 2 and 3 of my series of historical novellas based on Jane Boleyn Lady Rochford’s life,“The Lady Rochford Saga”, are available now:

Visit my pages at and at .

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Book Review: “The Raven’s Widow” by Adrienne Dillard

Jane Seymour (13)

It is through my connections to the Tudor world online that I ran into author Adrienne Dillard. Adrienne is a total sweetheart and sent me her book to review after I asked her to write an article about Jane Boleyn for my site. I already had a growing “To Be Read” pile going on but I moved her book closer to the top because I was reading about Katheryn Howard at the time and I thought Jane Boleyn would be a great follow-up book. I wasn’t sure what to expect since this is the first book by Dillard that I’ve read. She has also written Cor Rotto – A Novel of Catherine Carey and Catherine Carey in a Nutshell.

Jane Boleyn, or Jane Parker, Lady Rochford is often portrayed as a villain in novels and TV series such as Showtime’s The Tudors. It is because of those depictions that average people like you and me get our first impressions of Tudor “characters” from. I’ve always believed Jane’s depictions to be unfair and one-sided, she was a very complex woman who became tangled in two major controversies in her lifetime.

The Raven’s Widow – Book Review

Jane Parker never dreamed that her marriage into the Boleyn family would raise her star to such dizzying heights. Before long, she finds herself as trusted servant and confidante to her sister-in-law, Anne Boleyn; King Henry VIII’s second queen. On a gorgeous spring day, that golden era is cut short by the swing of a sword. Jane is unmoored by the tragic death of her husband, George, and her loss sets her on a reckless path that leads to her own imprisonment in the Tower of London. Surrounded by the remnants of her former life, Jane must come to terms with her actions. In the Tower, she will face up to who she really is and how everything went so wrong.

The Raven’s Widow is a brilliantly told story about Jane Parker, wife of George Boleyn, Lord Rochford. The story is told in two timelines, her time with Anne and George and her time with Katheryn Howard.

The story begins with a young Jane who is trying to find her way and control her mouth. It continues with her blossoming into an amazing and loyal woman who suffered way too much loss in her lifetime. One of the things I have always wondered was, why did she and George never have children? Of course not everyone had children, or were able to, but other fictionalized stories about the couple would lead you to believe that their marriage was a sham and George was gay. In this story you cannot help but feel for Jane and George who struggle to get pregnant because of their limited time together due to his loyalty to the King. My heart broke along with her’s through each miscarriage she suffered.

Jane had always noticed that her brother Henry’s friend George Boleyn was attractive but was turned off by all the attention he received from the other ladies. When Jane found out she was to marry George she was not pleased with the decision at all. Their marriage was an arranged one that over time turned into true love. A great love.

Each character in the story came to life while reading it – that’s everyone from Mary Boleyn to Jane’s servant Lucy and even Thomas Cromwell. Anne Boleyn shares a decent amount of the story with Jane and George and is just as fiery and hot-tempered as we all imagine from stories about her. You really can’t blame her either, especially near the end, she became desperate to save herself, her family and her daughter from disaster.

As I was finishing this book I had tears in my eyes – I had become so attached to Jane that I didn’t want her ending to come. Nor did I want this amazingly written book to end.

This book is a real page-turner and you’ll have a difficult time putting it down. Even though I knew where the story was going it left me anxious for what was to come on the following pages.

Order your copy today!

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The Complex Nature of Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford (Guest Post)

On February 15, 1542 Ottwell Johnson sent a letter to his brother at Calais.  Only two days prior, he had been part of the throng of people filtering in through the great stone walls surrounding the Tower of London, braving the bitter winter air to stand witness to Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford’s final hours on Earth.

I see the Quene and the Lady Retcheford suffer within the Tower, the day following, whos sowles (I doubt not) be with God, for thay made the moost godley and christyan’s end, that ever was hard tell of (I thinke) sins the worlds creation; uttering thayer lively faeth in the blode of Christe onely, and with goodly words and stedfast countenances thay desyred all christen people to take regard unto thayer worthy and just punishment with death for thayer offences, agenst God heinously from thayer youth upward, in breaking all his commandements, and also agenst the King’s royall Majesty very daungeriously: wherfor thay being justly condempned (as thay sayed) by the Lawes of the Realme and Parlement, to dye, require the people (I say) to take example at them, for amendement of thayer ungodly lyves, and gladly to obey the King in all things, for whos preservation thay did hartely pray; and willed all people so to do: commending thayer sowles to God, and earnestly calling for mercy upon him: whom I besieche to geve us grace with suche faeth, hope, and charite at our departing owt of this miserable world, to come to the fruytion of his godhed in joy everlasting.  Amen.

Offences against God and the king…Justly condemned…Ungodly lives – these are damning words indeed.  Could that bawd, Lady Rochford, expect anything better?  After all, it’s her own fault she found herself kneeling before the block on a scaffold drenched, just moments before, in the sticky crimson blood of her mistress, right?  What goes around comes around – her death was payback for her role in the downfall of her husband and sister-in-law.

I don’t think so.

To accept Jane’s death as karma, you have to accept that she played an active role in the judicial murder Anne and George Boleyn, and I don’t. Though television shows like The Tudors and books like Wolf Hall would like to convince you of her duplicity, there is no evidence for it.  Yes, there are rumors and hearsay, but those came long after her death and were most likely colored by her actions at the end of her life.  However, she was guilty of helping Queen Katherine Howard and Thomas Culpeper meet; she confessed as much during her interrogation in 1541, this we know for certain.  It’s only her motivation and the extent of her involvement that are up for debate.

When the Privy Council met with Katherine Howard on November 12, 1541 to grill her on her late night activities with Thomas Culpeper, she made it clear that the fault belonged to her lady-in-waiting.  It all started when Lady Rochford had told her that the king’s groom desired to speak to her.  Katherine insisted that she demurred several times, but Jane was unrelenting, even ‘swearing upon a book’ that Culpeper meant no ill will towards her.  It was only because of her lady’s nagging that she eventually gave in to that first meeting at Lincoln.  She goes on to recount, almost word-for-word, conversations she had with her maid about how the meetings were wrong, her fear of being caught, and her constant protestations.  Were these accusations true or were they the words of a terrified young woman desperate to save her own skin?

When it came time for Thomas Culpeper’s examination, he appeared to sing the same song as Katherine; it was Lady Rochford who contrived these interviews.  At face value, Culpeper’s wording could intimate that the meetings were Jane’s idea, but contrived can also be taken in much less sinister way, merely that Jane planned the meetings.  That’s true – she did.  Jane did look for hidden, out-of-the-way places – she did sneak about – with the queen.  Culpeper backs that up: ‘The queen would in every house seek for the back doors and back stairs herself.’  Later in the interrogation, the groom details Katherine’s flirtations and gifts she gave him.  He said that Lady Rochford provoked him much to love the queen and he intended to do ill with her.  Ah, there it is – Jane’s provocation.

The other interrogations all paint a picture of a woman so forceful, so influential, that she managed to convince an entire household to knowingly partake in treason.  It almost seems outlandish.  How could the widow of a convicted traitor wield so much power?  She couldn’t.  She wasn’t even the most senior lady in Katherine’s household.  So why did everyone blame Jane?  No one knows.  The only clear fact from these records is that Lady Rochford was not a popular courtier.  Perhaps therein lies the answer.

Jane Boleyn’s only biographer, Julia Fox, believes that she most likely agreed to help Katherine one time, and then because she said yes once, she felt as though she had to continue – it all snowballed from that first event.  I concur that it’s the most likely explanation, but why in the world would she have agreed in the first place, knowing what had happened to her sister-in-law only a few years earlier?  With the benefit of 500 years distance from the events, we can look back at it and smirk at how foolish she seemed, but Jane didn’t have that luxury.  She was in the moment, making a split second decision that, eventually, became life or death.

Katherine Howard’s household is reminiscent of the ‘mean girl’ cliques of popular culture.  Ripe with competition, it was a pit of jealousy and vanity.  The details of Katherine’s affair may have remained hidden from the king, but it was almost an open secret in her household, nearly everyone appeared to know about it.  When it was finally brought to light, the ladies closed rank, leaving Lady Rochford out in the cold.  For someone as unpopular as she seems to have been, it’s not a great leap to believe that Jane agreed to help because she wanted to be liked.  If she pleased the queen, then perhaps Katherine would show her favor.  A valid theory, for certain, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right one – or the only one.

Was it revenge?  Perhaps.  Contrary to the image we have of Jane benefitting from George Boleyn’s downfall, his death hit her interests hard.  As a convicted traitor, all of his goods were forfeit to the Crown.  It is only through Thomas Cromwell’s good offices that she was able to keep some of his household-stuffs, including their marriage bed.  She had to wage an enduring legal battle with Thomas Boleyn to claim any of her jointure lands, and she never again rose to the same status she had during her husband’s lifetime.  Whether or not you believe that the Rochford marriage was a love-match, it’s doubtful that Jane relished George’s demise.  Beyond the request for the return of her marriage bed and her decision to wear widow’s weeds rather than remarry, Jane was the only one to reach out to offer comfort to George during his imprisonment.  If there was no love between them, there was at least affection.  His death impacted her emotionally, as well as financially.

Though it’s usually glossed over, Jane’s mental state played a large role in her downfall.  The Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, reported that she ‘went mad’ on her third day of imprisonment so she was sent down the Thames to Sir John Russell’s home on the Strand to recuperate.  The king even sent his own doctors to look after her.  What would appear to be benevolent generosity on His Grace’s behalf actually had a far more selfish bent.  He wanted her well-amended because it was illegal to execute the mentally ill.  Regardless of how composed Jane later appeared on the scaffold, the fact that the king had that particular law changed speaks volumes about her stability.  Perhaps she had exhibited signs before she found herself in the Tower?

When considered separately, none of these theories offer a satisfactory conclusion, but together they show a clear picture of the complex nature of human behavior.  What was once unexplainable can become understandable.   The capacity for rational thought is severely hindered under the influence of psychological distress.  Jane’s later life was filled with instability, so it’s no small wonder she made decisions that we would now consider outrageous and risky.  The events of 1536 sent shockwaves throughout the Tudor court, leaving lasting damage on those at the epicenter.


Source for Ottwell Letter:

Original Letter Illustrative of English History Vol II Ed. Henry Ellis

About the Author: Adrienne Dillard

Adrienne Dillard is a graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with emphasis in History from Montana State University-Northern. Adrienne has been an eager student of history for most of her life and has completed in-depth research on the American Revolutionary War time period in American History and the history and sinking of the Titanic. Her senior university capstone paper was on the discrepancies in passenger lists on the ill-fated liner and Adrienne was able to work with Philip Hind of Encyclopedia Titanica for much of her research on that subject. Her previous works include best-selling novel,”Cor Rotto: A Novel of Catherine Carey” and the non-fiction “Catherine Carey in a Nutshell” for MadeGlobal’s History in a Nutshell series. When she isn’t writing, Adrienne works as an administrative assistant in the financial services industry and enjoys spending time with her husband, Kyle, and son, Logan, at their home in the Pacific Northwest. 

Find Adrienne’s books on Amazon here:

Katheryn Howard: Part Four

Along the way I’ve discovered that Katheryn Howard had a more interesting life than I had expected – very similar to what happened when I researched Jane Seymour. Once you go back and learn about Katheryn’s childhood, and understand her relationship with men, it gives you a better idea of how she got herself into hot water later on. She was too young to be queen – her lack of education and her immaturity were what made her reckless. I fear that even if she had only been a lady-in-waiting at court that she would have eventually created drama. As we’ve discovered so far it seemed to be in her nature.

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Quick Recap

In Part Three of this series we ended with some of those closest to Katheryn Howard being interrogated. Things were not looking good. We hadn’t even started with Katheryn’s confessions, yet.

The dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk had returned to court to take part in private meetings regarding the investigation. Nobody at court realized it was all about the queen.

Her Crime Comes to Light

At this point in time Katheryn had no idea what was happening. She was confined to her rooms and she no longer got word on the activity at court. There was no more music and dancing as there always had been. She also realized it had been forever since she saw her brother Charles, who had been a staple at court, and even a secret love interest for the King’s niece, Margaret Douglas. Little did Katheryn know but her brother had been banished from court – without reason.

On the very day that King Henry wept after hearing the evidence against his wife, Katheryn had begun to understand what was happening around her. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, informed Katheryn that she was to meet with a delegation of men to discuss a topic that had been brought to their attention – her possible pre-contract with Francis Dereham. You may wonder what Katheryn’s reaction to this would have been, well, she was defiant, denied everything and refused to talk about it. The men left but it was Archbishop Cranmer who came back several times in the next 24 hours to get a confession out of Queen Katheryn.

Image of unknown woman once believed to be Katheryn Howard

A Queen’s Confession

Cranmer appears to have been a rather likeable guy. People seemed to trust him, maybe it was his comforting brown eyes that pulled one in and made them relaxed enough to tell their deepest secrets. But Cranmer had his work cut out for him with Katheryn – her mood swings were out of control, to the point of hysteria and Cranmer needed the right approach.

A quote by Cranmer to the King, “At my repair unto the Queen’s Grace, I found her in such lamentation and heaviness, as I never saw no creature, so that it would have pitied any man’s heart in the world, to have looked upon her.

The King’s pleasure was for Katheryn to be treated mercifully…as long as she spoke the truth. Those words calmed the Queen and left her telling Cranmer that she didn’t deserve the King’s kindness. Katheryn’s guilt over the King’s kindness was evident when she said, “Alas, my Lord, that I am alive, the fear of death grieved me not so much before, as doth know the remembrance of the King’s goodness, for when I remember how gracious and loving a Prince I had, I can not but sorrow; but this sudden mercy, and more than I could have looked for, showed unto me, so unworthy, at this time, maketh mine offenses to appear before mine eyes much more heinous than they did before; and the more that I consider the greatness of his mercy, the more I do sorrow in my heart, that I should so misorder myself against His Majesty.

In her second confession she was much less dramatic in delivery but still denied a pre-contract with Dereham. She admitted that he talked about marrying her but that she didn’t believe she had ever agreed to it, and never spoke of it.

When she spoke of the carnal knowledge between herself and Derham she didn’t come right out and say, yes, we slept together, many times. She beat around the bush, so to speak, and said that many times he laid with her, sometimes with his doublet and hose and a few times naked, but not so naked that he was completely naked…he may have had his hose pulled down. That seems pretty naked to me, but I believe she was trying to minimize what had happened between them.

Most things in Katheryn’s confessions sound like she was desperate not to look guilty. She also wasn’t afraid to throw everyone under the bus to save herself. She even changed her story – she now stated that Dereham took her against her will and that she was not a willing participant.

In the next letter that Katheryn wrote to the King she admitted her faults and looked for forgiveness, or maybe leniency. In the letter she says, “Now the whole truth being declared unto Your Majesty, I most humbly beseech you to consider the subtle persuasions of young men and the ignorance and frailness of young women. I was so desirous to be taken unto your Grace’s favor , and so blinded by desire of worldly glory that I could not, nor had grace to consider how great a fault it was to conceal my former faults from your Majesty, considering that I intended ever during my life to be faithful and true unto your Majesty ever after.” From this letter we can see that Katheryn was merely talking about her time as a ward in the dowager duchess’ home, nothing to do with Culpeper…yet.

She left her fate in the King’s hands.

Image of unknown woman once believed to be Katheryn Howard

The Queen’s normally noisy apartments were noisy no more. While she still had her staff on hand to assist her she was still favoring Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, above all others…after all, she knew all her secrets about Culpeper. Rochford promised “to be torn with wild horses” rather than betray the Queen. Unfortunately, Katheryn was not so loyal. When the opportunity presented itself she threw Rochford under the bus to make herself look like the victim.

A couple of days later there were discussions on when to remove the Queen’s staff from her service. Katheryn was ordered to be sent to Syon Abbey where she would’ve been given the respect and service required of a queen.

The Privy Council noted that “she shall have four gentlewomen and two chamberers at her choice, save that my lady Baynton shall be one, whose husband shall have the government of the whole house and be associated with the Almoner.” Katheryn’s half-sister, Isabel Leigh was Lady Bayton, and  would be there until the end. Some have suggested that Isabel and her husband may have sent reports of the Queen’s behavior back to the Privy Council, because Isabel was later granted land by Henry VIII, for unknown reasons. The gift is deemed suspicious because it was unusual for a family member of one under suspicion to receive gifts – Katheryn’s brother was merely sent away and banished from court – he received no land. The question remains, why would Isabel receive a gift when all others in her family were disgraced?

It wasn’t long before Francis Dereham was desperate to make himself look more innocent – in order to clear his name or receive a more lenient punishment, he told the men that Thomas Culpeper had succeeded him in the Queen’s affections. This statement opened a can of worms that I don’t believe any of the Council members expected. At this point, the Privy Council was only aware of her past aggressions, now they would learn what she had done since becoming queen.

A few days later the Queen was visited by Cranmer, Norfolk, Southampton, Sussex, Hertford, Lord Russell and five other men of the Privy Council who quizzed her on three late night meeting she allegedly had with Thomas Culpeper during the summer progress. Katheryn responded by placing all the blame on her loyal servant, Lady Rochford. She claimed that Rochford had instigated the entire thing and wouldn’t let it be.

Image of unknown woman once believed to be Katheryn Howard

Eventually the Queen did admit to late night meetings with Culpeper at Lincoln, Pontefract and York. That didn’t stop her from saying that she wished Rochford to more closely chaperone the meetings with Culpeper, at one point telling Rochford, “For God’s sake madam, even nearer us.

The walls were beginning to close in around Katheryn and her naughty doings…Jane Boleyn, Katherine Tilney and Margaret Morton were some of the most important women yet to be questioned.

What Happened at Lincoln

On the 13th of November Katherine Tilney was questioned whether the Queen went out of her chamber, late at night while at Lincoln, where she went, and who went with her. Tilney said that the Queen went two nights to Lady Rochford’s chamber, which was up a little pair of stairs by the Queen’s chamber. She explained that she and Margaret Morton went with the Queen to Rochford’s chamber, but were sent back. Margaret went up again soon afterward while Tilney went to bed. When Margaret came to bed, about 2 o’clock, Tilney said, “Jesus, is not the Queen abed yet?” She replied, “Yes, even now.

The second night the Queen sent the rest to bed and took Tilney with her to Rochford’s chamber. Tilney was not allowed inside the room but sat in a little place with Lady Rochford’s woman and stated she could not tell who came into Lady Rochford’s chamber.

Tilney also explained how she had been sent with strange messages to Lady Rochford that she knew not “how to utter them.” She also said that at recently at Hampton Court  “she bade her go to the Lady Rochford and ask her when she should have the thing she promised her;” and she answered that she would bring word herself the following day.

The story was beginning to unfold for those involved in the investigation. They were beginning to get a glimpse into what was happening when nobody was paying attention.

On the same day that Tilney was questioned, so was Margaret Morton. Morton said that she never mistrusted Katheryn until she saw the glance the Queen gave Culpeper while at Hatfield. She claimed that the look was one that she believed there was love between the two of them.

While on the summer progress, the Queen’s behavior had become more and more suspicious to the ladies that served her. It wasn’t just notes without seals and glances at young men and cryptic messages, but also the fact that she had begun to lock her bedchamber to everyone but Rochford.

Lady Rochford, when examined said she had not heard or seen anything from the other end of the room when she chaperoned the Queen and Culpeper.  She did, however, mention that night at Lincoln that she and the Queen were at the back door waiting for Culpeper, at 11 p.m., when one of the watchmen came with a light and locked the door. Shortly after Culpeper came in, saying he and his man had picked the lock. Rochford eventually said that she thought Culpeper had known the Queen carnally during the progress.

Thomas Culpeper

When Thomas Culpeper was eventually interviewed he recalled both the Queen and Lady Rochford as equal partners in the crime. He claimed that he understood the late night meetings they had would not appear with the purest intent, but that he had not committed treason – he had not slept with the Queen, however, he did say that he intended and meant to do ill with her and that likewise the Queen was so minded with him.

Now, you may ask, why it was considered treason to sleep with the Queen – well, the easiest answer is that it would throw a wrench in the Act of Succession. If she became pregnant there would be no way to know if the child was the King’s, or her lovers. What Culpeper admitted to was misprision of treason – he intended to commit the act but had yet to follow through. After hearing Culpeper speak, Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford said, “That is already too much” and Thomas was sent to the Tower and his house was inventoried – a good sign that he would not be leaving the Tower other than his execution.

Lady Rochford

Now, back to Lady Rochford – Rochford’s story had changed too many times for the men to know the entire truth, but when compared with the testimonies of the Queen and Culpeper they felt they had enough evidence to arrest and later convict of treason.

After being placed in the Tower of London, Lady Rochford had a mental breakdown. No wonder, this was the place that those closest to her went to die. Her husband, her sister-in-law and many others she knew from court. After her mental break, Rochford was removed from her cell and placed in the care of Anne, Lady Russell at Russell house – a beautiful mansion located on the Strand. This was done because executing the insane was illegal at the time.

A Secret to Be Kept

This time at court, and in England for that matter, was a very delicate time. The council members had to keep as much secret as possible as to not embarrass England in the eyes of the governments abroad. If one of the ambassadors heard whispers of the Queen’s infidelity it would reflect poorly on King Henry as a man.

Loss of Her Title

Eventually, on the 22nd (some say the 23rd) of November a proclamation was made from Hampton Court that declared Katheryn stripped of her royal title as Queen – henceforth she would only be referred to as Katheryn Howard.

Culpeper and Dereham

Her counterparts, Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham entered their trial at the great Hall of Guildhall on the 1st of December 1541. Both men pleaded not guilty.

During the trial Katheryn’s deposition was read aloud. The confession that was chosen was the one where she stated she was coerced by Dereham and that she did not have a physical relationship with Culpeper.

Culpeper claimed that he did not have a physical relationship with Katheryn but that he intended and meant to do ill with her. Those words were enough to condemn him.

After the jury deliberation they returned and stated that there was “sufficient and probable” evidence against the pair to warrant death. They were sentenced of treason and would be hanged, drawn and quartered because of their low status. In the end, Culpeper was guilty of planning to sleep with the Queen while Dereham was guilty of joining the Queen’s household in hope of knowing her carnally once again, and for withholding the Queen’s treasonous conduct from the authorities prior to her marriage to the King.

In the meantime, while Katheryn awaited her trial, fourteen people she knew were charged with misprision of treason and sent to the Tower. They were: Agnes Tilney, dowager duchess of Norfolk, Countess of Bridgewater, Lord William Howard (and his wife), Katherine Tilney, Alice Restwold, Joan Bulmer, William Ashby, Anne Howard, Margaret Benet, Lady Malyn Tilney, Edward Waldegrave and Mary Hall, formerly Lascelles – the person who opened pandora’s box.

For Culpeper, the sentence of being hanged, drawn and quartered had been commuted to beheading, whereas Dereham was not so lucky. Both men’s executions were carried out at the Tyburn gallows on the 10th of December.

Portrait most likely to be Katheryn Howard, but unlabeled.

Wriothesley writes in his chronicle that, “Culpeper and Dereham were drawn from the Tower of London to Tyburn, and there Culpeper, after exhortation made to the people to pray for him, he standing on the ground by the gallows, kneeled down and had his head stricken off; and then Dereham was hanged, membered, bowelled, headed and quartered. Culpeper’s body was buried at St. Pulchers Church by Newgate, their heads set on London Bridge.”

The End of Katheryn’s Days

At some point after Christmas…after the King’s divorce from Katheryn was finalized, word came down from the Commons that Katheryn Howard and Jane Boleyn would be sent to the Tower.

When Katheryn was informed that she would have a trial she politely declined the offer. She confessed that she was sinful and deserved death.

On the 10th of February, a barge arrived at Syon Abbey to bring Katheryn to the Tower, as was expected. Also in the Tower was her partner in crime, Lady Rochford, who appeared to have regained her sanity.

The night before her execution, Katheryn Howard made her final confession to a clergyman by the name of John White. She “took God and His angels to be her witnesses, upon salvation of her soul, that she was guiltless of that act of defiling the sovereign’s bed”. Afterward she requested the block be brought to her room – you see, Katheryn had heard the stories of Cromwell’s botched execution as well as Lady Salisbury’s – she wished to make sure she did everything right so her execution was swift. That night she practiced over and over again.

On the chilly morning of the 13th of February 1542, Katheryn was escorted to a scaffold that was on the same site as her cousin, Anne Boleyn’s in May 1536. She did not receive the private execution she had requested, but it was held within the Tower walls to reduce the number of spectators.

Katheryn’s final words were not fully recorded, however, a London merchant by the name of Ottwell Johnson, reported aftewards that she died well. What IS known is that she spoke of Christ’s redemption to all who believed and urged the onlookers to learn from her mistakes. There was no talk of love, nor did she admit to being an adulterer. Her death was swift – one swing of the axe and it was all over.

Unknown woman, formerly believed to be Katheryn Howard

Author Gareth Russell debunks Katheryn’s final words, “I die a Queen, but I would rather die the wife of Culpeper” by pointing out that it came from a fictitious account that also claimed she was interrogated by the dead Thomas Cromwell.

Chapuys wrote in a letter that “the King has wonderfully felt the case of the Queen, his wife, and that he has shown greater sorrow and regret at her loss than at the faults, loss, or divorce of his preceding wives. In fact, I should say that this King’s case resembles very much that of the woman who cried more bitterly at the loss of her tenth husband than she had cried at the death of the other nine put together, though all of them had been equally worthy people and good husbands to her: the reason being that she had never buried one of them without being sure of the next, but that after the tenth husband she had no other one in view, hence her sorrow and her lamentations. Such is the case with the King, who, however, up to the is day does not seem to have any plan or female friend to fall back upon.”

From very humble beginnings as the daughter of the not so successful Edmund Howard to her end as Queen of England. Katheryn’s life is told like a children’s story – teaching the reader to learn from the mistakes of others. As I’ve said before, Katheryn Howard was too young and too immature to be thrust into a life she was ill-prepared for.

Thank you so much for joining me in this four-part series on Katheryn Howard. I’m hoping this helped to open your eyes to who Katheryn was as a person and help you understand her a little better. Throughout this series I’ve referenced Gareth Russell, several times – this is because I have only recently read his book from 2016 called “Young and Damned and Fair” about the life of Katheryn Howard. This book was a real eye opener for me. His research on her was so thorough that I was able to come to my own conclusion on who I believe she was. Other books out there tend to push their viewpoint on Katheryn, while I’d rather decide for myself. Wouldn’t you?


Hall, Edward; Hall’s Chronicle

Wriothesley’s Chronicle: A chronicle of England during the reigns of Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559, Volume 1; page 132

Russell, Gareth; Young and Damned and Fair (2016)

Further Reading:

Russell, Gareth; Young and Damned and Fair (2016)

Loades, David; Catherine Howard – The adulterous wife of Henry VIII (2012)

Byrne, Conor; Katherine Howard – A New History

Want to read up on Katheryn Howard? Here are some options at your disposal:


Katheryn Howard – Part Three

The last article in the series covered Katheryn’s wedding night through Easter, or  end of March 1541. It was at this point in time that Katheryn began to show favor to Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford.

Find Part One Here

Find Part Two Here

Katheryn Howard – Part Three

It was around the same time as Margaret Pole’s unexpected execution at the end of May 1541, that Queen Katheryn had become noticeably upset about her relationship with the King. Rumors had been floating around Tudor court that the King wished to take back the Lady Anne of Cleves.

When the Queen’s behavior came to the King’s attention, Henry located his young wife and informed her that she was wrong to think such things – that if he were ever in the position to marry again he would not choose the Lady of Cleves. But I suspect that the reason Katheryn was so paranoid about her relationship was because there was a rumor circulating. The rumor was that Anne of Cleves being pregnant by the King. The Queen had not yet given the King a son.

Queen Katheryn left Greenwich Palace merely four days after the execution of Margaret Pole and was headed to Westminster. Greenwich was in need of a cleaning, a task that could take weeks to complete. Once it was clean she would return.

Upon her return to Greenwich Palace, the Queen was informed that her cousin, Sir Edmund Knyvet had been arrested for “shedding blood” in the precincts of the court. The punishment for said offense was for Knyvet to lose his right hand. As a right-hander, Knyvet begged to have his left hand removed instead – he insisted that it was so he could still yield a sword for the King. The Queen must have put in a good word for her cousin because not long after he was fully pardoned. He was also warned that if it were to happen again there would be no reprieve.

After unpacking Katheryn’s things the Queen’s household got back to their normal activities. Entertainment continued as always as there was much music and dancing – two things Katheryn thoroughly enjoyed. It was this atmosphere that would unleash a chain of events that would inevitably bring down the Queen of England.

Whether it was Margaret Douglas’ secret affair with the Queen’s brother Charles, or Dorothy Bray sneaking afound with the already married, Lord William Parr, Queen Katheryn was not performing her duty as guardian of her ladies reputations, to the extent that she was expected. 


The recklessness of her ladies spilled over into Katheryn’s life when she eventually forgave her former flame, Thomas Culpeper. Apparently, the two had had a disagreement on Maundy Thursday and did not speak again. Something changed with the Queen to at this point open up her reputation to a fling with Culpeper. Was it that she wasn’t receiving the attention from the King that she desired? Was it because her husband was old enough to be her grandfather?

What exactly happened after they reconciled is unknown, but we do eventually come across evidence of Katheryn’s feelings for Thomas Culpeper. Queen Katheryn sent one of her page boys to bring several dinners to Culpeper when he was sick. This, at the time, was not seen as inappropriate but she walk walking a very delicate line.

The progress of 1541

Everything changed during the summer progress of 1541. Henry and Katheryn’s itinerary on the journey included twenty-seven stops in just over three and a half months on the road. In addition to traveling they also had many public appearances along the way. It was as this journey progressed that Katheryn Howard began plotting to be with a man who was not her husband.

A few hours after their departure from London, the royal retinue stopped in Enfield. A progress in the summer was not uncommon for the court – London was known to be unbearable in the summer. The heat and smell of the Thames would often chase away the King. This timing of this progress was perfect for Henry to get to the north and meet many of his subjects who had never seen him before – this was his first time in 32 years that he ventured past Boston, in Lincolnshire.

After stops in Enfield and St. Albans, the court rested in Dunstable. It was at Dunstable that Katheryn Howard became the first Queen consort of Ireland. Something that must have been very exciting for her.

As they continued along their way, the King and Queen enjoyed themselves immensely. The King was having such a great time that he sent the Mayor of London a great stag and two bucks that he had killed on the 14th of July. This shows that there was no shortage of meat along their journey. It was only a week later that it was noted that the Queen was in a great mood – she had never traveled to Northampton before and it made her happy to experience this new city.

A Note

Two stops later in their progress, while at Loddington, Katheryn gave her chamberer, Margaret Morton, a note that was to be delivered to Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford. This letter was missing a seal and was not addressed to anyone, this often meant that the sender wished to be kept anonymous. When Morton delivered the message to Rochford, she was informed that the Queen would have her response in the morning.

The following morning, Morton went to retrieve the answer from Rochford and was greeted with a warning, to tell “her Grace to keep it secret and not lay it abroad.” Morton would not forget this strange interaction. 

As their progress continued, a stop at Collyweston was in order. Collyweston was the former residence of Margaret Beaufort, the King’s grandmother. It then belonged to the King’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, until his death in the summer of 1536. While no one had lived there since the death of Fitzroy, it was considered to be in great condition. Katheryn’s apartments at Collyweston overlooked the garden and she had access with a private staircase to her rooms.

Grimsthorpe Castle

A short three-day stop at Grimsthorpe Castle was next for the royal couple. This castle belonged to the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk and the Charles Brandon was there to greet the group when they arrived.

As the Queen’s chamberers finished unpacking for their short stay, Katheryn asked her former bedmate, Katherine Tilney to fetch Lady Rochford and ask if she had followed through on the Queen’s request. Rochford told Tilney that she would bring word herself when it had arrived. Yet another strange interaction that would never be forgotten.

The Queen and Lady Rochford had discussed Culpepper throughout the lengthy progress. At one point Rochford mentioned to Katheryn that another privy chamber gentleman, Thomas Paston had also showed interested in the Queen. If Rochford was trying to find more men for Katheryn, the Queen was not interested. The only person on her mind was Thomas Culpeper.

The group left Grimsthorpe on the 7th/8th of August and headed to the small market town of Sleaford. The manor house in Sleaford, where they stopped briefly, had previously been owned by Lord Hussey. Hussey was a man who was beheaded after supporting the Pilgrimage of Grace. A common theme while in the north.

Treason at Lincoln

The following morning they were on the move once again. Roughly 10 miles outside of Lincoln, while the royal cortege ate, messengers were sent to Lincoln to inform those in charge that the King and Queen would arrive shortly.

Henry and Katheryn’s entrance into Lincoln must have been quite the site – as they rode toward the city wall, a group of men in red robes gathered. As Katheryn (also wearing red) approached the men, they quickly bowed to their new Queen. A tent had been erected nearby so the royal couple could change out of their riding clothes. Henry changed into an outfit made of cloth of gold and Katheryn wore a silver dress.

“Throughout the progress, she carried out her public duties perfectly. Accounts of the tour written years later, referred to her as Henry’s ‘fair and beloved queen.’” Katheryn was a flawlessly behaved consort – content to dazzle as a supporting player, cloth of silver next to Henry’s cloth of gold, never pulling focus or openly pursuing her own agenda. Her first few months as queen had been considered a success.

With all that being said, it was during their stay in Lincoln that Katheryn began her late night chats with Lady Rochford. Both Katherine Tilney and Margaret Morton (two ladies who were already suspicious) were assigned to escort the Queen to Rochford’s room. When they arrived at Rochford’s door, the Queen dismissed both Tilney and Morton. This behavior was very suspicious. The fact that the Queen went to a servants room instead of inviting the servant into her own was unusual by social standards.

Once Katheryn and Lady Rochford were alone they snuck down the stairs to the back entrance of the apartments. It was there they waited for the arrival of Thomas Culpeper. As they waited that a guardsmen noticed the door was unlocked. Without assessing the situation he locked the door. Katheryn and Rochford had narrowly missed getting caught. Lucky for them, when Culpeper arrived he wasn’t concerned – he picked the lock and was there to calm a panicked Queen.

The three of them returned to Lady Rochford’s lavatory. The the size of the room wasn’t small by any means – Lady Rochford could sleep in the corner and not know what was going on between Katheryn and Culpeper.

In a room lit by candlelight, Thomas and Katheryn shared their darkest secrets with one another. Katheryn spoke of her history with Henry Manox and Francis Dereham. While Thomas Culpeper listened intently and appeared amused by her stories. The conversation became more intimate when Katheryn bragged about her skills as a lover to the attractive young man sitting across from her.

As the hours ticked away, the Queen’s household became suspicious of the relationship of Katheryn and Lady Rochford. Margaret Morton, who was already suspicious, decided to checked if the Queen was back in her bed – when she returned Katherine Tilney asked, “Jesus, is not the Queen abed yet?” At which Morton replied, “Yes, even now,” and went to bed. 

The Queen and Culpeper talked for hours – they finally went their separate ways at around two or three in the morning.

The following morning, after only getting a few hours of sleep, the Queen had the energy to show her generosity to a woman called Helen Page. Page was a local spinster who had been condemned for several minor felonies. Page’s sentence is unknown, but was pardoned by the King on the Queen’s request. 

I Love You

That evening, the Queen and Thomas Culpeper met again. This time she charged Katherine Tilney to escort her to Rochford’s room. She knew Tilney could keep a secret. Katheryn told Tilney to wait outside. This meeting would be the first time that Katheryn Howard, wife of Henry VIII, Queen, told Thomas Culpeper that she loved him. He reciprocated her feelings by saying he felt bound to her because he “did love her again above all other creatures”. As Culpeper left he kissed Katheryn on the hand because he could not allow himself to go further.

After Lincoln

A day or two later the court moved on to Gainsborough, which was eighteen miles from Lincoln. It’s unclear where Katheryn and her household stayed during this visit but author Gareth Russell believes it could have been Gainsborough Old Hall, the home of the old Lord Burgh. Local legend says that the King and his Queen slept in the upper bedchamber of Gainsborough Old Hall’s tower. While it’s likely that the Queen stayed there it is highly unlikely that the royal couple shared a room.

After spending a few days in Gainsborough they were off to Scrooby and then Hatfield. It was at Hatfield that Katheryn’s lady, Margaret Morton later stated that she “saw her look out of her chamber window on Master Culpeper after such sort that I thought there was love between them.” Morton did not report what she had seen and instead made another mental note of the Queen’s behavior. The court stayed at Hatfield for roughly five days before moving on to Pontefract Castle – which would be their longest stop on their progress.

Nearing the end of August, the royal couple had been on progress for over two months. The Queen, at this point, was not adjusting well to all the traveling – I’m certain she’d never experience anything like it in her lifetime. She was tired and jumping. Whether it was her tiredness, or the excitement of seeing Culpeper we don’t know, but she was not acting herself and treated her ladies poorly. 

At one point at Pontefract the paranoid Queen yelled at Margaret Morton and Maude Luffkyn after suspecting they were spying on her.

Things didn’t get any easier for Katheryn either. On the 25th of August, Francis Dereham showed up at Pontefract, unannounced. Dereham was there to get what was his. He had just had an agrument with the dowager duchess of Norfolk. Norfolk threw him out. He had lost everything. What more did he have to lose? He asked for a position in the Queen’s household.

Katheryn had to think on her toes – she needed to find a way to appease this ticking time bomb…but her household was full.

After having a private meeting with Dereham she introduced him to the rest of her staff as her gentleman usher.

Being the thorn in her side that he was, Dereham continued with his boasting and bad manners – something that would haunt them all later and cost Dereham his life.

It All Changed

During their long stay at Pontefract, Thomas Culpeper spent an increasing amount of time together with Katheryn in her rooms, until he had to leave to undress the King at night – at which he would, some nights, return.

A new habit formed for the Queen while at Pontefract Castle – she began to lock her the doors to her bedroom at night, only giving access to Lady Rochford.

Maude Luffkyn got in trouble with the Queen again when she attempted to enter the Queen’s bedroom one night. She either forgot the door was locked, or was suspicious of the Queen’s behavior. Katheryn was so upset with her that she threatened to remove both Luffkyn and Morton.

It wasn’t only Maude Luffkyn who tried to get into the Queen’s room but also a servant to the King. He had a message for Katheryn from Henry. The servant found the door locked and left – he  hadn’t thought twice about it. That is until later.

In mid-September, the King required Culpeper’s service for his trip to inspect the northern port of Hull. One can imagine Queen Katheryn heartsick over the distance between them. 

Upon his return from Hull, Katheryn was quick to restart their late-night meetings. At one meeting she begged Culpeper not to confess what they had been doing to a priest, because, she believed her husband, as head of the Church of England would hear his confussion. Culpeper promised her he would not tell a soul, not even a priest.

End of the Progress

After the long progress Katheryn returned to Hampton Court Palace on the 28th of October 1541. In only a couple of days her world would begin to change.

Katheryn continued to take risks in order to see Thomas Culpeper, after arriving back at Hampton Court. Her infatuation with the man was causing the Queen to make terrible decisions. Before too long she would never see him again.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s (Thomas Cranmer) official London residence was Lambeth Palace. It was there that he accepted the audience of a man called John Lascelles. What came from this conversation was not what Canterbury had expected.

Lascelles came with news that he had heard from his sister, Mary Lascelles – now Mary Hall about Queen Katheryn’s behavior. Hall was once a servant of the dowager duchess of Norfolk and lived in the same household with Queen Katheryn when she was a ward there. John Lascelles stated that he had recently encouraged his younger sister to petition for a position in the Queen’s household, but Mary Hall said that she would not feel comfortable having a mistress whose morals were lacking and who was “light, both in living and conditions”.

When Lascelles naturally pressed his sister for more information she told him of the Queen’s past romances with both Henry Manox and Francis Dereham. To prove that this was true he repeated what his sister had told him, but possibly in a more delicate way. She had approached Manox (as we covered in the last podcast) and informed him that he could not have a future with Katheryn due to his status. This is where Hall told her brother that Manox informed her that he had seen a very private part of Katheryn’s body and would recognize it easily.

After John Lascelles heard this story from his sister he chose to discuss with friends to help decide what he should do with the information. The consensus was to bring it to the Privy Council. This was when Lascelles paid visit to Canterbury at Lambeth Palace.

The entire matter was extremely delicate for anyone near the King who may have known of the Queen’s past.  It would all have to be dealt with very carefully. Cranmer decided, most likely for fear of the wrath of the King, to leave a note for him to read after the mass for All Souls.

After reading the note, King Henry did not have the initial reaction that was expected of him. His biggest concern was in finding the truth in the story – not to lock up his Queen, who remained in her apartments, utterly clueless, for the rest of day. The King either hoped or believed it was all a big misunderstanding.

It did not take long before the Privy Council began to interview witnesses. At the top of the list was John Lascelles and his sister Mary Hall. The Earl of Southampton, a member of the King’s Privy Council began with John Lascelles, and the following day the Earl of Sussex stopped at the home of Mary Hall.

To stop rumors from spreading back to court where those involved in the accusations could find out, Sussex and some other men disguised their stop at the Hall residence as a place to rest on their journey from hunting. Eventually, Sussex was able to get Mary alone to inform her that the hunting trip was a ruse – to keep this matter as private as possible. He asked Mary if she would stand behind her words at which she declared she would.

After the confession of Mary Hall, Wriothesley and Canterbury examined Henry Manox at Lambeth. Manox said that he was appointed to the service of the dowager duchess of Norfolk about five years earlier. He fell in love with Katheryn, and she with him. Unfortunately their so-called fairy tale was interrupted when the lady of the household found them alone together.

Canterbury and Southampton proceeded to ask Manox if he had any displeasure with Francis Dereham. Manox stated that Dereham also loved Katheryn, and Edward Walgrave, who loved a maiden named Baskervile, used to visit her there until 2 or 3 in the morning.; so he wrote an anonymous letter to the Duchess, warning her that if she would rise half an hour after going to bed and visit the gentlewomen’s chamber she would be displeased. The Duchess did as he said and was furious with the girls.

Sometime afterward, Katheryn had become suspicious of the letter that informed the duchess and stole it from her room. She showed it to Dereham, who suspected Manox to have written it, and called him knave.

Manox during his interrogation also said that Joan Bulmer, who was Katheryn’s bedfellow had also been entertained by Dereham.

Manox continued on by listing more witnesses to the happenings in the dowager duchess’ household: Dorothy Dawby, then chamberer, Katherine Tylney, now chamberer with the Queen, Edward Walgrave, servant to Prince Edward, Mary Lascelles (or Hall) and Malyn Tylney, widow, can speak of the misrule between Dereham and Katheryn.

After the Manox interrogation, the men moved on to Francis Dereham, who was already in custody. They were careful about removing Dereham from the Queen’s household without causing suspicion. Dereham was told that he would be questioned about earlier claims of piracy during his time in Ireland. Once behind closed-door, he would learn it was even worse than piracy. It was treason.

Francis Dereham was questioned by the men about his doings in Ireland. What brought him there in the first place? Why did he choose now? Dereham’s new position in the Queen’s household was known and was considered suspicious as well. Francis told his interrogators that he had been invited to the Queen’s chambers, was given gifts and was told to “take heed what words you speak”.

He also confessed to have known Katheryn “carnally” many times during their time at the dowager duchess’ home. He went so far to recall a time that he was “in his doublet and hose between the sheets” with Katheryn, and there were witnesses to their love-making.

It hit very close to home when Katheryn’s aunt, Margaret Howard and her former bedmate, Katherine Tilney were both taken in for questioning. Katheryn’s aunt slyly told the men that she had suspected a relationship between Dereham and her niece but that’s as far as she went with it. Margaret knew better than to incriminate herself. Katherine Tilney, on the other hand, confirmed the words of Mary Hall and Francis Dereham during her interrogation.

On the 6th of November, Canterbury and Southampton paid visit to the King. This meeting filled the King in on the intelligence collected. This moment would have been nerve-wracking for them as well, to displease the King was terrifying and they wouldn’t want to be punished for telling him what had actually happened. Once all the evidence was revealed, Henry sat there quiet for a while, until eventually he began to cry.

Not long after, the King ordered both the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk back to court. Once the men had arrived secretive council meetings took place, not to cause alarm at court. Unfortunately it did not take long for gossip to start after Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk was seen leaving a meeting noticeably shaken. At this point nobody had suspected that this was all related to the Queen.

Read Part Four

Further Reading:

‘Henry VIII: in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 16, 1540-1541, ed. James Gairdner and R H Brodie (London, 1898)

Byrne, Conor; Katherine Howard: A New History (2014)
Fraser, Antonia; The Wives of Henry VIII  (1994) Loades, David; The 6 Wives of Henry VIII (2014)
Licence, Amy; The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII (2014)
Russell, Gareth; Young and Damned and Fair – The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of Henry VIII (2016)
Weir, Alison; The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1991)

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