The Disappearance of Lady Mary Seymour

Written by Rebecca Larson

Born At Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire on 30 August 1548, Lady Mary Seymour was the long-awaited child of dowager queen Kateryn Parr, and her fourth husband Sir Thomas, Baron Seymour of Sudeley. The unexpected pregnancy left both parents overjoyed.

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Hugh Latimer’s Slander of a Dead Man

This post was originally made on my Thomas Seymour Society blog.

I recently picked up The Reign of Edward VI by James Anthony Froude and started looking for information on Thomas Seymour. It was while searching that I came across some new information.

On page 77, in the section of the book about the Protectorate, I found this line:

the admiral had seduced and deserted at least one innocent woman, who fell into crime and was executed.

The source for this statement is merely listed as “Latimer’s Sermons before King Edward”. So, of course, I went looking for this story in Latimer’s sermons. Unfortunately for me Froude did not give a more specific location in Latimer’s sermons. Luckily for me, the book is available online and I could do a search within it to find the reference to this woman.

The book is titled Sermons by Hugh Latimer, sometime Bishop of Worcester, Martyr, 1555, and I found the reference on page 164 (Latimer’s fourth sermon preached before Edward VI).

“I heard of a wanton woman, naughty liver. A whore, a vain body, was led from Newgate to the place of execution for a certain robbery that she had committed, and she had a wicked communication by the way. Here I will take occasion to move your grace, that such men as shall be put to death may have learned men to give them instruction and exhortation. For the reverence of God, when they be put to execution, let them have instructor; for many of them are cast away for lack of instruction, and die miserably for lack of good preaching. This woman, I say, as she went by the way, had wanton and foolish talk, as this: “that if good fellows had kept touch with her, she had not been at this time in that case.” [And amongst all other talk she said that such an one (and named this man) had first misled her: and, hearing this of him at that time, I looked ever what would be his end, what would become of him. He was a man the farthest fear of God that ever I knew or heard of in England. First, he was the author of all this woman’s whoredom; for if he had not led her wrong, she might have been married and become an honest woman, whereas now being naught with him, she fell afterward by that occasion to other: and they that were naught with her fell to robbery, and she followed; and thus was he the author of all of this.

After reading all that I was left wondering: Who was this woman? Did this really happen or was it fabricated by Latimer to further tarnish the reputation of Seymour to the King?

This got me thinking…how well did Latimer know Thomas, or the Seymour family at that. I found online, “Hugh Latimer; a biography” and in Chapter Four it states that Latimer was in Wiltshire from 1531 to 1535. During that time Thomas Seymour was employed by Francis Bryan at court.

If you are not familiar with the Seymours, their home at Wolf Hall was in Wiltshire. In the book “Ordeal by Ambition” by William Seymour, states that their home was in Burbage. Hugh Latimer was preaching at West Kington. I used Google maps to see what kind of distance were between the two locations and it appears to be about 36-38 miles, a bit far for the family to attend mass. In “Hugh Latimer; a biography”, the author states that while Thomas Seymour was in the Tower he requested that “Mr. Latimer might come to him”. The author believed that Seymour had heard countless praises of Latimer from his late wife, dowager queen Kateryn and that Latimer had converted Parr to the Protestant faith. Latimer visited Seymour in the Tower and may have attended him the day of his execution.

Latimer, indeed, without mentioning Seymour’s name, assumed that his audience “knew what he meant well enough.” But there were many who doubted his guilt; Latimer’s words were consequently much censured; and in his next sermon before the Court, on March 29, he deemed it necessary to defend himself by narrating all that he knew of Seymour’s death.

Latimer was also the person who reported the small notes that Seymour had written:

The man being in the Tower, wrote certain papers, which I saw myself. They were two little ones, one to my Lady Mary’s Grace, and another to my Lady Elizabeth’s Grace, tending to this end, that they should conspire against my Lord Protector’s Grace; surely, so seditiously as could be.

These notes were reported to Latimer by his servant and were found in Seymour’s shoe. The notes were sewn between the soles of a velvet shoe. He also goes on to mention how creative Seymour had been in creating ink to write. “He made his ink so craftily and with such workmanship, as the like hath not been seen.” “He made his pen of the aglet of a point, that he plucked from his hose, and thus wrote these letters…

Image Courtesy TheCostumeWardrobe – Etsy

John Lingard of Lingard’s History of England was no fan of Latimer or Somerset. He said that Latimer was merely staying on the good side of Somerset with his sermons.

So, from all this we can determine that Thomas Seymour may have known, or at least known of Latimer through his late wife. We can, if we believe Lingard, determine that Latimer was a man who understood he had to appease the Lord Protector.

I have been been unable to corroborate Latimer’s sermon about the wanton women who was executed because of Thomas Seymour. But it is my belief that Hugh Latimer’s sermon was fabricated to further slander Thomas Seymour’s name – many of the King’s subjects had become sympathetic to his story after his execution, just as they had with Anne Boleyn.

——-

Sources:

Hugh Latimer; a biography. by Demaus, R. (Robert), 1829 -1874; Tract Society, London. Publication date [1881]
Lingard’s History of England by Dom Henry Norbert Birt, O.S.B.. London. George Bell & Sons [1903].
The Reign of Edward VI by James Anthony Froude. Published by J. M. Dent & Company [1926].
Sermons by Hugh Latimer, sometime Bishop of Worcester, Martyr, 1555. Publisher Cambridge : Printed at the University Press [1844].
Ordeal by Ambition: An English Family in the Shadow of the Tudors by William Seymour. Published by
Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd [1972].

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Queen Kateryn Parr’s Presence Chamber at Sudeley – Location Discovered

 

This blog was originally posted 30 November 2018 on The Thomas Seymour Society Blog:

My effort to uncover the true Thomas Seymour has led me to Sudeley Castle once again. While reading The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor, by Elizabeth Norton, I discovered that the Queen’s Presence Chamber had windows that ran floor to ceiling and made you feel like you were outside in the Queen’s Garden when you stood in the bay window.

That got me thinking – could I locate through images and videos the section of Sudeley Castle that contained the Queen’s Presence Chamber?



In this below screen cap from a video you can clearly see large windows (white arrow) that appear to go from floor to ceiling, but it was not confirmed to me until I noticed the fireplace (green arrow) – the fireplace would obviously be at floor level and so, that to me, indicates that the ruins are indeed part of what Thomas Seymour had built for his queen.

In addition, the Queen’s Garden (pink arrow) are just on the other side of the windows but is now obstructed by a tree, or trees. This could most definitely be the Presence Chamber with dowager queen Kateryn Parr would have accepted visitors to her court as Sudeley was considered a second court. It is uncertain whether or not the chamber was ever used by the dowager queen.

The Presence Chamber Thomas Seymour built for Kateryn Parr. It is said that it had ceilings that went from floor to ceiling and that the windows made you feel like you were standing in t

Now it stands in ruins at Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, most likely destroyed during the Civil War. We can only imagine the magnificence that would have appeared before visitors who entered.

This theory has been confirmed by Dr. Sarah Morris of The Tudor Travel Guide.

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Thomas Seymour’s Sudeley Castle

This history of Sudeley Castle goes back centuries. It’s majestic gardens were once visited by the likes of Richard III, Jasper Tudor, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr and Lady Jane Grey.

It 1469, King Edward IV forced a Lancastrian supporter (his enemies) to sell the castle to the crown. Edward IV then granted it to his younger brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (future Richard III) who held it for nine years and then it reverted back to the crown because he exchanged it for another castle.

When Richard became King of England he once again held ownership of Sudeley Castle.

After Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1483, one must assume that the castle became the property of King Henry VII since he now wore the crown. The following year he granted the castle to his uncle, Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford who held it until his death in 1495. The castle was once again the property of the crown.

Forty years later (1535) the castle must have still been in good condition because Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stopped there on their tour. The King and Cromwell met at Winchcombe Abbey and planned further dissolution of monasteries together. During this visit to Sudeley Anne Boleyn is also noted to have investigated the “Blood of Christ” at Hailes Abbey which, if I remember correctly, turned out to be duck’s blood.



In 1547, when Thomas Seymour was raised by his nephew Edward VI to Baron Seymour of Sudeley he obtained the sprawling castle in need of desperate up keep. It is unknown how much Seymour spent on renovations on the castle but one can imagine it was a small fortune; He was preparing for a dowager queen to be present and their home together to be like a second court.

Author Cooper Willyams of “The History of Sudeley Castle, Near Winchcomb, Glocestershire” states that Thomas Seymour was believe to “have built his chapel of rich gothic architecture, of which the shell is now remaining here.” That statement was written in 1803.

In 1548, the castle was ready for it’s homeowners. Seymour and Parr moved into their new home along with Seymour’s ward, Lady Jane Grey and the cleric, Miles Coverdale.

The house was full of staff including ladies who would serve the dowager queen along with “more than 120 gentlemen of the household and Yeoman of the Guard.

In August of that same year Parr gave birth to a daughter, Mary Seymour and unfortunately died of puerperal fever about five days later. Her funeral was the first Protestant funeral in England with Lady Jane Grey leading as Chief Mourner. She was buried in the chapel that Seymour built. Seymour was not present at the funeral, which was common for the time but was noted by a friend as being extremely upset by the loss of his wife. (Once I locate the quote again I’ll post it here.)

Eventually, due to his reckless behavior and fear from his brother the Lord Protector, Thomas Seymour was arrested on 33 counts of treason and convicted without trial. He was executed on the 19 March 1549, afterwhich the castle once again reverted to the crown.

The Life of Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset

As the only child of Sir Edward Stanhope and Elizabeth Bourchier, Anne Stanhope became the sole heiress of her father’s estate at the age of one. Through her mother’s side of the family Anne was descended from King Edward III of England through his son, Thomas of Woodstock.

After the death of Edward Stanhope, Anne’s mother eventually married again, her third marriage was to Sir Richard Paget, who was also well-connected to King Henry VIII. Paget was a gentleman of the Privy Chamber for King Henry and also Vice-Chamberlain in the household of Henry Fitzroy.

There is little evidence that remains about Anne’s childhood – it is, however, believed that she was a maid-of-honor to Katherine of Aragon.

It is believed that Anne Stanhope met her future husband, Edward Seymour while they were both in service at court in 1529¹ – Edward was in the household of Henry VIII while Anne was in service of Queen Katherine. At that time Edward was still married to his first wife, Katherine Fillol and the couple had just had their second son, Edward. Or what was believed at the time to be his son.

As the story goes, it was discovered sometime between 1527 and 1530 that Edward’s wife Katherine Fillol had an affair. The scandalous part is that it was a long affair with…yep, Edward’s father, Sir John Seymour. When Edward discovered the affair he was outraged, as any spouse would be after such a discovery, but he was enraged by the fact that the culprit was his own father.

After discovering what happened, Edward immediately sent his wife to a nunnery. While not knowing for certain the paternity of his sons, he disowned both of them — after all, how would he know if the boys were his sons, or brothers? How could he look at them without wondering?

There is no definitive proof that Edward’s father, Sir John Seymour was indeed the man who Katherine Fillol had an affair with, but many historians believe so, including Alison Weir. However, in Weir’s book, “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” she states that all of Henry’s court was aware of what had happened with the Seymours. That statement, if true, leaves me wondering why Henry VIII would look at marrying a woman from a family with such a scandal. It is possible that a lot of people knew about it. It is definitely possible that they talked about it.

Only a few things point in the direction of Sir John Seymour being the culprit:

A handwritten note is recorded in the margin of Vincent’s Baronagein the College of Arms: “repudiata quia pater ejus post nuptias eam cognovit.” Roughly translated, it says, “Divorced because she was known by his father after the wedding.” It alleges that the affair Katherine was having was with her own father-in-law, Sir John Seymour.

In the book, The Seymour Family by Amy Audrey Locke, she states:

One story given by Peter Heylyn states that when the Earl, then Sir Edward Seymour, was in France, he ‘did there acquaint himself with a learned man, supposed to have great skill in magick; of whom he obtained by great reward and importunities, to let him see, by the help of some magical perspective, in what estate all his relation stood at home. In which impertinent curiosity he was so far satisfied as to behold a gentleman of his acquaintance in a more familiar posture with his wife than was agreeable to honor of either party. To which diabolical illusion, he is said to have given so much credit that he did not only estrange himself from her society at his coming home, but furnished his next wife with an excellent opportunity for pressing him to disinheriting of his former children.

Also noted should be the fact that Katherine’s father, Sir William Fillol adjusted his will:

Something happened during her marriage to Edward. In her father’s will, dated 1527, Catherine is excluded from inheriting “for many dyverse causes and considerations … Catherine nor hir heiress of hir boody ne Sir Edward Seymour hir husbonde in any wyse have any part or parcell’ of his manors or estatesInstead, Catherine is left an annual pension from the estate of 40£, provided she go and “virtuously and abide in some house of religion of women.” In other words, a convent.

Edward Seymour and Anne Stanhope were eventually married sometime before the 9th March 1535 and their first child, Jane (presumably named for the queen) was born on the same day Prince Edward, 12th of October 1537. Unfortunately, as was common for the time, little Jane did not survive. In 1538, a son named Henry (after the king, of course) was born but soon died as well. Their third child, a son called Edward (after his father) was born in 1539. Next, author Margaret Scard in “Edward Seymour” states that a son and a daughter were born in 1540, Margaret and Henry (presumably twins). The following year, in 1541, a daughter named Jane was born. The last of the children were Mary, Catherine, another Edward and Elizabeth. Anne Stanhope was forty years old when she had their last child, Elizabeth.

Sometime in 1538, most likely on Anne’s insistence, his boys by Katherine Fillol were excluded from Edward Seymour’s property and titles by Act of Parliament – she meant business, wanting her children to benefit from their father’s standing, not his supposed children from his first marriage.

Anne was acquainted with, if not friends with Anne Askew in 1546 – they shared the same reformist beliefs but the difference was that one of the women was willing to died for her beliefs and to protect those close to her. On the 16th of July 1546, Anne Askew was brought into Smithfield on a chair due to the fact that she was unable to walk or stand after her interrogation by Thomas Wriothesley and Richard Rich. It is possible, and some have said, Stanhope sent a man in a blue coat with 10 shilling to help her². Some have said that Stanhope was responsible for gunpowder being placed on Askew’s body to quicken her death.

During Kateryn Parr’s tenure as Queen Consort, Anne Stanhope managed to stay on good terms with both Princess Mary and Parr, but her religious leanings were Protestant. Even with that being said, Anne had a great relationship with Mary when she was Queen of England.

At the end of January 1547, Anne Stanhope’s life changed for the better. Previously, Anne had been in the household of Kateryn Parr, but now Parr was a dowager queen and Anne became Duchess of Somerset and the wife of the Lord Protector – essentially she was the most powerful women in England. This quick rise in social standing may have gotten to her head when she believed that the queens jewels belonged to her and not Kateryn Parr. Parr merely wanted the jewels given back to her that were gifts from Henry VIII and her mother. The topic of the queen’s jewels may be one of the topics that drove a wedge between Edward and Thomas Seymour. Whether or not Somerset had the right to possess and control the jewels that belonged to the king or were given by the former king – this is something that came back to haunt him later.

Anne Stanhope believed that Kateryn Parr forfeited her rights of precedence when she married the younger brother of her husband. Fortunately for Anne this feud would only last about a year – Parr died in September 1548 after giving birth to a daughter named Mary.

After the execution of Thomas Seymour, Anne’s brother-in-law in March 1547, his daughter by Kateryn Parr lived for a brief time at Syon House under the protection of Anne and her husband before being transferred to the household of Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk.

In October 1549, Somerset was removed from power and held in the Tower of London. In an effort at reconciliation, Anne and the earl of Warwick’s wife, Jane Guildford, arranged a marriage between Anne’s daughter, Anne Seymour, and Warwick’s eldest son, John Dudley, who became earl of Warwick when his father was elevated in the peerage to duke of Northumberland. Somerset was arrested again on October 16, 1551 and accused of plotting against Northumberland. This time he was executed. Anne was also arrested and remained a prisoner in the Tower of London until May 30, 1553, even though she was never charged with any crime.

During the downfall of her husband, Edward, Anne kept in constant with her brother Michael to stay up to date on what was occuring. Then Anne wrote Sir William Paget to ask for help. She hoped the Paget could find a way to smooth things over with the council members who had now turned against him. She asked Paget, “What hath my lord done to any of these noble men or others that they should thus rage and seek the extremity of him.

Under Mary Tudor, three of Anne’s daughters were at court. Her oldest son, Edward, was restored in blood. Anne was granted a number of Northumberland’s confiscated properties and Hanworth, Middlesex, where she chose to live. It was at Hanworth that a romance secretly blossomed between Anne’s son Edward and Lady Catherine Grey, younger sister of Lady Jane Grey. When the couple eloped in 1560 and were subsequently confined in the Tower of London, Anne was careful to distance herself from them.

The year after her son was sent to the Tower Anne married her late husband’s former steward, Francis Newdigate. Little is known about their life together.

When Anne’s son Edward was released from the Tower of London he was released into her custody as well as his eldest son with Catherine Grey.

On the 16th of April 1587 Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset died, she was about 77 years old. Anne was a reformer and a literary patron. She died at Hanworth Place and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Recumbent Effigy of Anne Seymour, Duchess of Somerset. Credit: “Plate 191: Recumbent Effigies. Francis, Duchess of Suffolk, Margaret, Countess of Lennox, Anne, Duchess of Somerset,” in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London, Volume 1, Westminster Abbey, (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1924), 191. British History Online, accessed April 11, 2018, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/london/vol1/plate-191.

Notes:

¹ Kathy Lynn Emerson, TudorWomen.com
² Foxe, John. “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”

Sources:

Abernethy, Susan. “TheFreelanceHistoryWriter.com – Anne Seymour, Duchess of Somerset
Emerson, Kathy Lynn. “TudorWomen.com”
Foxe, John. “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”
Fraser, Antonia. “The Wives of Henry VIII”
Scard, Margaret. “Edward Seymour”
Wikipedia. “Anne Seymour, Duchess of Somerset


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