1 JANUARY 1591: LETTER to Helena, Marchioness of Northampton

The poet Edmund Spenser writes to Helena, Marchioness of Northampton dedicating his poem “Daphnaïda: An Elegy upon the Death of the Noble and Vertuous Douglas Howard, Daughter and Heire of Henry Lord Howard, Viscount Byndon, and Wife of Arthure Gorges Esquier” to her.


Bell’s Edition: The Poets of Great Britain Complete from Chaucer to Churchill, 1788.

16 APRIL 1614: THE DEATH of Jane, Lady Cheyne

16 APRIL 1614: THE DEATH of Jane Wentworth, Lady Cheyne of Toddington. She was one of seventeen children, the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Wentworth, Baron Wentworth of Nettlestead and Margaret Fortescue, a distant cousin of Sir Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire (father of Queen Anne) and Sir Thomas Parr of Kendal (father of Queen Katherine). By her father, Lady Cheyne was a cousin to the Seymours, whose mother was Margery Wentworth (aunt to Jane’s father).

Portrait of a Lady of the Wentworth Family (Probably Jane Cheyne)
Hans Eworth
Netherlandish, active England 1545–73/74
Inscribed: AETATIS 24 / 1563 / HE (on tablet at upper right), coat of arms of the Wentworth (upper left)
Art Institute Chicago

She was married to Sir Henry Cheyne (Cheyney or Cheney) of Shurland who was created Baron Cheney of Toddington by Queen Elizabeth. He was “the extravagant Lord Cheney” who tore down his ancestral home, Peivre, and built a mansion. Henry was born on 31 May 1540 to Sir Thomas Cheyne of Blackfriars and Shurland and his second wife, Anne Broughton. Lord Cheyne’s father fought in France in 1544 while Queen Katherine Parr was Regent of the realm. After the death of Henry VIII, Thomas was the one who made arrangements for the coronation of Edward VI, son and heir of King Henry VIII and his third queen, Jane Seymour. Ironically, he ended up being part of the proceedings against Lord Seymour of Sudeley, uncle to Edward VI and the fourth husband of the late dowager queen, Katherine Parr. Thomas’ wife, Anne Broughton, was the daughter of Sir John of Toddington and the future Lady Anne (Sapcote) Russell, Countess of Bedford who had served as a lady to the late queen Katherine. She brought Toddington to the Cheyne family.

Queen Elizabeth was received at Toddington twice.

Lady Cheney is recorded in a lawsuit against Robert Pearce to recover the deeds and for an adjunction. The lawsuit seems to pertain to Toddington Manor, lands in the parish of Chalegrave and the manor of Chalgrave, late the estate of her husband, Lord Cheyne.

Lord Cheyne died on 3 September 1587. His remains were buried in Toddington Church where there are three mutilated tombs to the Cheyne family. Lady Cheyne erected a tomb for him. The effigy is in highly decorated armor. The head is on a cushion and on a mat rolled up, continued the whole length.

Through Lady Cheyne, Toddington passed to her great nephew, Thomas Wentworth, 4th Baron of Nettlested

Upon her death, Lady Cheyne was also buried in the Church. The effigy is still there, but is much worn away; the head which rested on a pillow is badly damaged. In pointed frontlet, veil, and wimple, and mantle faced with ermine. The arms of Wentworth and twenty-three quarterings are present. The head of the tomb is preserved and is inscribed:

“Here lyth Da Jane late wife of Sr Henrie Cheyne, Knight Ld Cheyne of Todington and eldest daughter of Sr Thomas Wentworth, Knight, Lo. Wentworth and Lord Chamberlaine to king Edward the sixt, who deceased the 16 daie of April A D 1614”

“Here lies my bodie in corrvptions bed, my sovle by faith and hope to heaven is led. Imprisoned by life, death set me free, then welcome death, step to æternity”


CHEYNEY (CHEYNE), Henry (1540-87), of Toddington, Beds. and Shurland, Kent.

CHEYNE, Sir Thomas (1482/87-1558), of the Blackfriars, London and Shurland, Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

Three Branches of the Family of Wentworth I. Wentworth of Nettlestead, Suffolk. II. Wentworth of Gosfield, Essex. III. Wentworth of Lillingstone Lovell, Oxfordshire By William Loftie Rutton · 1891.

The Topographer and Genealogist, Volume 1, 1846

The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom: Eardley of Spalding to Goojerat. 6. Gordon to Hustpierpoint By George Edward Cokayne, Vicary Gibbs, Herbert Arthur Doubleday, Duncan Warrand, Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis Baron Howard de Walden, Geoffrey Henllan White · 1926

Calendars of the Proceedings in Chancery, in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth To which are Prefixed Examples of Earlier Proceedings in that Court, Namely, from the Reign of Richard the Second to that of Queen Elizabeth, Inclusive · Volume 1 By Great Britain. Court of Chancery · 1827

The Reliquary & Illustrated Archæologist, Volume 6, 1900

The Strife of the Roses and Days of the Tudors in the West By William Henry Hamilton Rogers · 1890

Lawrence Washington of Sulgrave Manor

I found that the ancestor of US President George Washington, Lawrence Washington (c.1500-1584), father to Robert (c.1554-1619), on 26 July 1529, was a bailiff at Warton (in the Barony of Kendal) to Sir William Parr, Baron Parr of Horton, uncle to Queen Catherine. Lawrence was the son of John and Margaret Washington. By his mother, he was a nephew of Sir Thomas Kytson of Hengrave, son of Robert of Warton Hall. His cousin, Lady Katherine Spencer, married into the Spencer family and is an ancestor to the current Prince of Wales and his brother, Harry, Duke of Sussex.

By 1529/30, Washington married the wealthy widow, Elizabeth Gough (unknown maiden name).

By 1529, the future queen Katherine Parr had just married her first husband, Sir Edward Borough (or Burgh). Borough was the eldest son and heir of Sir Thomas, 1st (or 3rd) Baron Borough of Gainsborough and Agnes Tyrwhitt, kin to Elizabeth Tyrwhitt who was related to Parr by marriage and close to Parr during her tenure as queen and dowager queen. Elizabeth was responsible for writing an account of the last few days of the dowager queen. Upon Edward Borough’s death in 1533, his brother, William, became heir to his father. William, the future 2nd (or 4th) Baron, had married Katherine Clinton, daughter of Mistress Bessie Blount, so there is no doubt that the future Queen was associated with the future Lady Borough. Katherine Parr’s mother, Maud, would have known Bessie Blount from the early years of the reign of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. Both were ladies to Queen Katherine. The families were also already connected through Bessie’s son by the king, Henry Firzroy. William Parr, later Baron Parr of Horton was the head of the household for the young boy. His nephew, also named William, was brought up alongside Fitzroy, the Earl of Surrey, and even Edward Seymour who was master of the horse. Lady Borough’s father, the Earl of Lincoln, remarried in 1552 to Parr’s cousin and lady in waiting, Elizabeth FitzGerald (1527-1590). Entries on Ancestry try to tie President Washington to Bessie through her granddaughter, Elizabeth Borough, but she is recorded as marrying a common man with the surname, Rider.

It is suggested that Lord Parr convinced Lawrence Washington to move from Wharton to Northampton where he was to become a wealthy wool merchant. At the dissolution of the monasteries under King Henry VIII, Washington profited by buying the properties he held as tenant of St.Andrew’s Priory, Northampton. In 1532 and 1545, Washington became Mayor of Northampton. In 1538 (some sources state c.1543), he remarried to another wealthy widow, Amy Tomson, daughter of Robert Pargitar. The estate of Sulgrave was brought to the marriage and was held by the family for a small fee. He eventually bought Sulgrave in 1539 from the crown and started the building of the Manor which was completed by 1560.

The Washingtons. Volume 3, Royal Descents of the Presidential Branch · Volume 3 By Justin Glenn · 2014

Sulgrave Manor: An Illustrated Survey of the Northamptonshire Home of George Washington’s Ancestors. By Gerald Michel Veit · 1953

8 APRIL 1516: Queen Margaret arrives in Newcastle

Margaret Tudor Arrives in York in 1503
Margaret Tudor enters York, 1503. During her journey to Scotland to marry James IV of Scotland. MT: Queen Consort of Scotland, Countess of Angus, Lady Methven, daughter of Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York.
Photo credit
Lebrecht History / Bridgeman Images

8 APRIL 1516: QUEEN MARGARET commenced her progress under Thomas Dacre, 2nd Baron Dacre, son of Humphrey Dacre, 1st Baron Dacre of Gilsland and Mabel Parr, great-aunt of the future queen consort Katherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of King Henry VIII of England, brother of Queen Margaret. Margaret had been a guest, or prisoner for many months. The [4th] Lord Ogle and a few other nobles from Northumberland were also with the dowager queen.

Margaret arrives in Newcastle, is greeted by the Lord Mayor and Sir Thomas Parr, father of the future queen Katherine. The Queen’s daughter, Margaret Douglas, was with her and at the time was six months old. Her Upon her arrival, she meet Sir Thomas Parr, equerry to Queen Katherine of Aragon who had sent her favorite white palfrey with her very own easy pillion.

By the time they reached York, ‘her Grace rode upon a white palfrey behind Sir Thomas Parr, he riding bare head…and when the said Queen was anent the said Mayor [of York], the said Sir Thomas Parr advanced the Queen’s horse towards the said Mayor, saying to her grace — here is the Mayor of the city.’

By the time they reached London, almost a month later, Margaret was still clearly impressed by Parr. ‘Her grace did ride behind Sir Thomas Parr through Cheapside about six o’clock, and so to Baynard’s Castle…’


Agnes Strickland. Lives of the Queens of Scotland and English Princesses: Margaret Tudor. Magdalene of France. Mary of Lorraine, 1850. Google eBook

Sarah Gristwood. The Tudors in Love: Passion and Politics in the Age of England’s Most Famous Dynasty, 2022. Google eBook (preview)

Susan James. Catherine Parr: Henry VIII’s Last Love, 2010. Google eBook (preview)

Family of Queen Katherine: Helena, Marchioness of Northampton

Helena, Marchioness of Northampton c.1603 by Robert Peake, the elder. She’s wearing coronation robes for the coronation of James I.
Inscription, top left reads:
“Helena, Relict of WillmParr
Marquis of Northampton, and wife to
Sir Thos Gorge of Longford near
Salisbury, Daughter of Wafancus
Knacenburg of Sweden. She was
Chife Mourner at the Funeral of
Queen Elizabeth April 28, 1603.”

Helena Parr, marchioness of Northampton (1548-1635), a courtier, was born in 1548 in Sweden, the daughter of Ulf Henriksson (d. 1560×68), a nobleman of Östergötland, and his wife, Agneta Knuttson (d. after 1568). Helena (Elin) had two brothers and several sisters. Her father was a supporter of Gustav Vasa, king of Sweden, and came from the old noble family of Bååt, while her mother was a descendant of the jarls or earls of Orkney. The name Snakenborg was taken from her mother’s family, which was originally from Mecklenburg.

Helena was one of six young Swedish girls appointed from 1564 to 1566 as maids of honour to Princess Cecilia, margravine of Baden, daughter of Gustav Vasa. Late in 1564, when she was fifteen, they embarked on a voyage to England. It was rumoured that Cecilia decided to visit England to revive the suit of her brother Erik XIV to marry Elizabeth I, but it is not clear that this was the case. Taking a roundabout route over land and travelling through Poland and Germany, in order to steer clear of hostile countries, the party was so hampered by bad weather that almost a year passed before it reached its destination.

‘A Young Lady Aged 21, Possibly Helena Snakenborg, Later Marchioness of Northampton’
1569. (Tate Museum)

On its arrival in England many prominent members of the nobility received the party. Helena was by all accounts a beautiful woman, having large brown eyes, red hair, and a perfect pink and white complexion. She caught the attention of William Parr, marquess of Northampton (1513-1571), nobleman and courtier, the third and only surviving son of
Sir Thomas Parr of Kendal, Westmorland, and his wife, Maud. He soon endeavored to court her. Northampton presented her with many
extravagant gifts such as clothes and jewels, and ‘being an impressionable and romantic young girl, Helena was swept off her feet by the experienced older man’ (James, 395). Cecilia built up large debts due to a lavish lifestyle and left England in April 1566 in order to escape her creditors. She wanted to take Helena back to Sweden with her; however, her young maid, enjoying life in her new country and becoming
close to the marquess, was keen to remain. This wish was granted through Elizabeth’s influence.

Northampton hoped to marry Helena but felt prevented from doing so because, although divorced in 1551, his first wife, Lady Anne Bourchier, was still alive. Elizabeth was fond of Helena and appointed her a maid of honour from about 1567, before promoting her to gentlewoman of her privy chamber-a highly respected position at the heart of the court in
which she was among the queen’s most intimate servants and controlled access by the press of courtiers. She was entitled to many privileges,
such as her own lodgings at court, servants, and a horse. However, she was not a waged member of the privy chamber and it is not known how
regularly she attended court. Bourchier died on 26 January 1571 and Northampton and Helena were finally able to marry in May. The wedding
took place in Elizabeth’s presence in the queen’s closet at Whitehall Palace. The bride was twenty-two and the groom fifty-seven. They seemed
happy together and divided their time between their houses in Guildford, Surrey, and at Stanstead Hall, Essex. The marriage came to a sudden end within a few months when the marquess died on 28 October in Thomas
Fisher’s house in Warwick. There were no children. The marchioness received a substantial dower of £368 per annum, drawn from her husband’s estates in Cumberland. This may have been exchanged for lands worth £400 per annum in Huntingdonshire.

It was not too long before Helena captivated another admirer, Thomas Gorges [see below]. The queen was originally in favour of his approaches
to Helena but changed her mind and refused to consent to a marriage, perhaps as a result of her notorious sexual jealousy regarding gentlewomen of her privy chamber or because she had strong views on unequal marriages; Helena was a marchioness and Gorges only a gentleman.
The couple wed in secret about 1576. When Elizabeth learned of their deceit, Helena was banned from court, although she was later reinstated, possibly with the help of her influential friend Thomas Radcliffe, third
earl of Sussex, the lord chamberlain. The queen warmed to her again and with wholly uncharacteristic generosity granted her manors in Huntingdonshire and Wiltshire.

The couple’s first child was born in June
1578 and named Elizabeth (1578-1659) after the queen, who was her godmother. Their first son, Francis (d. in or before 1599), was probably
born in 1579. Gorges was persuaded by his wife to make his property of Longford, Wiltshire, bought after 1573, more appealing by rebuilding it.
The mansion had been damaged by fire when he acquired it and a replacement was completed at great expense by 1591, under the final
supervision of John Thorpe, since the entrance on its north-east front bears that date. Longford was the model for the ‘Castle of Amphialeus’
in Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia. Gorges was knighted in 1586. During this time Helena settled down to raise her family. She had two more
daughters, Frances (1580-1649) and Bridget (1584-c.1634), and four more sons, all of whom were knighted: Edward Gorges, first Baron Gorges of
Dundalk (b. 1582/3, d. in or before 1652); Theobald (1583-1647); Robert (1588-1648); and Thomas (b. 1589, d. after 1624).

Queen Elizabeth I’s Funeral Procession. Part of The Funeral Procession of Queen Elizabeth From a Drawing of the Time, Supposed to be by the Hand of William Camden (Society of Antiquaries, 1791). Folding panorama nearly 29 feet long.
Zoom in for Helena, Marchioness of Northampton.
Look and Learn / Peter Jackson Collection

The marchioness was still valued highly by Elizabeth and often acted as her deputy at the baptism of the children of distinguished noblemen, particularly towards the end of the reign, when the queen’s health was deteriorating. Helena must have been distressed when Elizabeth, whose friendship and guidance she had known ever since her arrival in England,
died in March 1603 and she was the chief mourner in the funeral procession as senior peeress because Arabella Stuart refused to
undertake the role. The accession of James VI to the English throne paved the way for the removal of many of Elizabeth’s old courtiers and
Gorges was demoted. Helena did not retain all her privileges but was probably glad to escape the rivalry that existed among the gentlewomen
of the privy chamber to Anne of Denmark. After Gorges died on 30 March 1610 at the age of seventy-four, Helena increasingly retreated from
public life, although she remained a devoted member of the Church of England.

Helena, Marchioness of Northampton and Sir Thomas Gorges in Salisbury Cathedral.

Helena died on 10 April 1635 at Redlynch, Somerset, the residence of her son Sir Robert Gorges, and was buried on 14 May in Salisbury Cathedral. She had no fewer than ninety-two direct descendants at the time. She granted over £1700 in annuities and bequests in her will.

Sir Thomas Gorges (1536-1610), courtier, was born in Wraxall, Somerset, the fifth son of Sir Edward Gorges, landowner, of Wraxall, and his wife, Mary, daughter of Sir Anthony Poyntz of Iron Acton, Gloucestershire, and his wife, Elizabeth. He was a member of the royal household, groom of the privy chamber from 31 December 1571, JP for Huntingdon and Wiltshire
from about 1579, special ambassador to Sweden in 1582, and MP for Longford, Wiltshire, in 1586, as well as keeper of many important royal
estates. Gorges acted as Elizabeth’s ‘high grade messenger’ (HoP, Commons, 1558-1603, 2.208). He was one of the wealthiest gentlemen in
Wiltshire. Gorges, like his wife, was buried in Salisbury Cathedral.


C. A. Bradford, Helena, marchioness of Northampton (1936) · S.
E. James, Kateryn Parr: the making of a queen (1999), 394-7 · HoP,
Commons, 1558-1603, 2.208 · will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/167, sig. 41 · TNA:
PRO, PROB 11/116, sig. 64 · administration, TNA: PRO, PROB 6/2, fol. 22r
· GEC, Peerage, 4.16
Paul Harrington, ‘Gorges , Helena, Lady Gorges [other married name Helena Parr, marchioness of Northampton] (1548-1635)’, Oxford Dictionary
of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/69751

Further reading

Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I
Sandra Byrd

Tate Gallery Report, 1960-61, pp.16-17 Gunnar Sjogren, ‘Portrait of a young lady, 1569; an identification’, Burlington Magazine, October 1980, pp.698-700

The Myth of Catherine Middleton: Mary Boleyn

Originally written by Meg McGath, 30 May 2011

Before their wedding in 2011, there were several articles for the ancestry of Catherine Middleton, now HRH Princess of Wales. This claim—from the DailyMail (complete with a tree!)—is that Middleton is a descendant of Mary Boleyn, sister to Queen Anne, through Boleyn’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Knollys, who’s daughter, Elizabeth Leighton, married Sherrington Talbot (I).

ATTRIBUTED TO REMIGIUS VAN LEEMPUT (D. 1675) Portrait of a Lady called Mary Boleyn, Lady Stafford (c.1499-1543) c. 1630-70
Oil on panel | 39.4 x 31.2 x 0.5 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external) | RCIN 402991
Mary, Queen of Scots’ Bedchamber,
Palace of Holyroodhouse
The portrait is thought to be a 17th century copy of a lost original.

The chart in the Daily Mail article continues with their son, Sherrington (II), who married Jane Lyttleton, who had a daughter, Elizabeth Talbot, who married to Henry Davenport. Up until they claim that Elizabeth and Henry were “parents” to William Davenport who married Elizabeth Marshall—the lineage is correct. It’s only when you look into the identity of William that things kind of fall apart.

Portrait of Elizabeth Knollys, Lady Leighton (b. 15 June 1549, d. circa 1605), maid of honor early in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Married, in 1578, Thomas Leighton, Governor of Jersey (b. 1535 – d. circa 1611)

“Sir Thomas and Elizabeth’s daughter married one Sherrington Talbot, a member of an ancient and respectable family of landowners, but in a couple of generations’ time, things were beginning to look decidedly iffy.

Sherrington and Elizabeth’s granddaughter wed Henry Davenport,”

Probably Jane Lyttelton, Mrs Sharington II Talbot
British (English) School

The idenity of the sitter has been the subject of debate, but she is most probably Jane Lyttleton, who married Sharington II Talbot of Salwarp and Lacock (d.1677). Their son and heir was Sir John Talbot (d.1714), who was instrumental in transforming the fabric of Lacock. The sitter had tradtionally been indentified as Elizabeth Leighton, the first wife of Sharington I Talbot, and the mother of Sharington II. Given that he was born in about 1605, she would clearly have been too old around 1630 to have been the sitter here.

So I said, “let me check this out!” I started with Crofts Peerage‘s (which is currently offline). The Sherrington Talbot listed there, who married Jane Lyttelton, doesn’t mention an Elizabeth Talbot who married a Henry Davenport. The same goes for the book Charles Mosley, editor, Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke’s Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 1, page 838. But, then I looked in Burke’s Peerage. There is a mention of an Elizabeth Talbot, daughter of a “Sharington Talbot”, but there is NO mother and NO mention of an Elizabeth Talbot who married Henry Davenport and had William Davenport (that went on to marry a Grace Alloway). It states:

“Henry Davenport Esq who m 82 Oct 1665 Elizabeth dau of Sharington Talbot Esq of Lacock co Wilts and d. in July 1698 leaving with other daus who died unmarried, a dau Mary m 1st to the Rev William Hallifax DD who rf in 1720 and 2ndly to the Rev Prideaux Sutton of Itreedon co Worcester and two sons Sharington the elder a major general in the army who rf unm in Ireland 5 July 1719 and Henry Davenport Esq baptized 26 Feb 1677 8 who m 1st Mary Lucy dau of Daniel Charden Esq and had by her a son Sharington of whom presently and two daus Mary Elizabeth m to John Mytton Esq of Halftone and Mary Luce rf unm Mr Davenport m 2ndly Barbara second dau of Sir John Ivory of Ireland by Aline his wife dan of Sir John Talbot of Lacock co Wilts and by her who rf in 174ft left at his decease in 1731 a son William in holy orders DD rector of Bree don who m Mary dau of John Ivory Talbot of Lacock and had issue The only son of the first marriage”.

That was all my research, above.

I then found William Reitwiesner’s page, which did Middleton’s genealogy. They argued that this supposed link to Mary Boleyn is not correct. Reitwiesner’s page states that a correspondent “concludes that insufficient evidence exists to establish such a connection beyond a reasonable doubt.” From their article on Middleton:

“In Hobbs (full citation below), on p. 13, F. M. Lupton cites a pamphlet William Davenport, of Reading, and his descendants, by Rev. James Davenport, which claims that this William Davenport of Reading (number 636, above) was the same person as the William Davenport born at Worfield, Shropshire, on 24 Feb. 1679, a younger son of Henry Davenport of Hollon, Shropshire, by his wife Elizabeth Talbot.

Rev. James Davenport appears to have written several different works on William Davenport of Reading, as a correspondent refers to a publication by Rev. James Davenport, Rector of Harvington in Worcestershire, titled The Davenport Family of Reading and Welford on Avon, and printed in 1923 (long after Hobbs was printed). About the identification of William Davenport of Reading with the William Davenport baptized at Worfield, the correspondent states that the author “concludes that insufficient evidence exists to establish such a connection beyond a reasonable doubt.” This identification has been DISPROVEN.”

I don’t remember if I emailed first or if they updated the page after I questioned the parentage of William Davenport. Anyway…

Email from Reitweisner’s; wmaddamstrust@gmail.com 29 May 2011:
“Yes we have disproven it, both with the will of Elizabeth Davenport not mentioning a son William, other records showing her son William died in his 20s and with her research showing Kate’s William was likely the son of a Laurence Davenport.”

Since the publication of the Daily Mail’s article, several articles of their own have appeared “confirming” this lineage back to Mary Boleyn for Middleton. Common theme: NO sources! When you type in “Catherine Middleton Mary Boleyn” and search, the first source that pops up now is Sassy Jane Genealogy. They state their source as The Spectator’s “Another Boleyn girl: How Kate Middleton may descend from Henry VIII written by Charlotte Eager, 12 March 2011. Eager doesn’t go past the generation of Elizabeth Knollys and her marriage to Sir Thomas Leighton. Also: No sources! An article even turned up on The Anne Boleyn Files. I left comments (they were called harsh) saying the lineage could be disputed, with sources—however, they were never published or acknowledged as being correct by the TABF. They later updated the article, after yet another person called bs. It now says:

Update: Unfortunately, experts have now disproved this link between Kate and Mary Boleyn, see http://www.wargs.com/royal/kate.html

Family of Queen Katherine: Catherine Neville, Lady Constable

Lady Catherine Neville, Lady Constable (b. 1529/30), aged 60, Daughter of Henry Nevil, Earl of Westmorland, Second Wife of Sir John Constable
Robert Peake the elder (c.1551 – 1619)
Lytes Cary Manor © National Trust

Catherine NEVILLE, Lady Constable (1529/30-27 Mar 1591) was the daughter of Sir Henry NEVILLE, 5th Earl of Westmoreland and Anne MANNERS. They were parents to several children including Sir Charles, 6th Earl of Westmorland and Lady Eleanor Pelham. Her parents were related to Queen Katherine Parr through several lines, Neville, de Ros, etc. Her maternal grandmother, Lady Eleanor Manners (born Paston), Countess of Rutland, was related to Queen Anne Boleyn through her mother, Bridget Heydon, who’s mother was Anne Boleyn, great aunt to Queen Anne. Eleanor took advantage of her husband’s death in September 1543 to retire from the Court and she was replaced as the dominant force in Queen Katherine Parr’s Household by her sister, Lady Anne Herbert, who became Chief Lady of the Queen’s Privy Chamber.

Catherine married Sir John Constable of Holderness (1527-1579) in 1563-4 as his second wife at Raby. He was the son of Sir John CONSTABLE of Halsham and Joan NEVILLE, daughter of Sir Ralph Neville, Esq. They descended from Sir Ralph Neville, 2nd Baron Neville of Raby, who was the grandfather of Sir Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland (ancestor to Queen Katherine Parr), who married twice, secondly to Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt.

She was the Lady Constable who was a recusant and who spent time in prison at Sheriff Hutton in 1582-84.

Apparently they had a son, John CONSTABLE (b. ABT 1564)

Another image by Robert Peake the Elder, dated 1590, can be found at Burton Constable Hall

Hans Holbein the Younger “An unidentified man”

An unidentified man c.1532-43
Black and coloured chalks, white bodycolour, pen and ink, and brush and ink on pale pink prepared paper | 27.1 x 18.9 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 912260 Wikipedia

Written and researched by Meg Mcgath

While researching Sir William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton, I came upon this portrait AGAIN! According to Susan James’ “Catherine Parr: Henry VIII’s Last Love”, written in 2009, this portrait may be his closest companion, Sir John Dudley, Lord Lisle, later Duke of Northumberland. *Note: Parr had his portrait done by Holbein.

The portrait is also featured in an article for the future Duke. While this website sometimes checks out, it’s not always 100% reliable unless sources are listed. Here it’s labeled “An unidentified man, possibly John Dudley by Hans Holbein”.

On the site Alamy, I have found this portrait. It is a later copy of the original “An unidentified man”.

Portrait of an unknown man, court of King Henry VIII, c. 1532. Possibly John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, who tried to install Lady Jane Grey as Queen. Handcoloured copperplate stipple engraving by Charles Knight after a portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger from Imitations of Original Drawings by Hans Holbein, John Chamberlaine, London, 1812.

There are a few more that say it’s possibly John Dudley.

Fine Holbein portrait. Unidentified Man engraved by Bartolozzi c1799. Classic Holbein portrait of an elegant young man. Engraved by Bartolozzi c1799. (Perhaps John Dudley. Lord Dudley was 1st Duke of Northumberland)
Portrait of an unknown man, court of King Henry VIII, c. 1532. ,1812 (engraving) Portrait of an unknown man, court of King Henry VIII, c. 1532. Possibly John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, who tried to install Lady Jane Grey as Queen. Handcoloured copperplate stipple engraving by Charles Knight after a portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger from Imitations of Original Drawings by Hans Holbein, John Chamberlaine, London, 1812.

The copy of the original pops up again a few more times with no identity.

An unknown Knight from the court of Henry VIII by Bartolozzi after Holbein 1884. Antique hand-coloured portrait plate, engraved from the original drawings by Hans Holbein; This series of portraits, engraved from the original drawings of Hans Holbein by F Bartolozzi (engraver to the King), shows Lords & Ladies from the court of King Henry VII of England (1884). 28.5 x 20.0cm, 11.25 x 7.75 inches. Condition: Good. There is nothing printed on the reverse side,
which is plain. Seller Inventory # P-7-005013

The portrait pops up on Tudors Dynasty which says “possibly John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland”.

Dudley seems to have one portrait which was done around 1605-08, well after his death. Any similarities? Is it a copy of another portrait from his lifetime?

Portrait of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. Oil on panel, 690 x 543 mm. English school, 1605–1608. On show at Knole, Kent (National Trust collections, NT 129763). National Trust Images/John Hammond

Another possible candidate?

The portrait was recently uploaded to Wikipedia as “Unknown man, Possibly George Boleyn, 2nd Viscount Rochford.jpg” on 28 November 2018 by username “UrikSweden”. The user uploaded a few things on 26, 28, and Dec 1. The history of the page shows the revision at 18:58 on 28 November by UrikSweden which originally stated,

Description English: A portrait drawing of an unidentified man, possibly George Boleyn, 2nd Viscount Rochford Date c.1532-43 Source Royal Collection

By 10 August 2020, the portrait had already circulated online and was the official portrait on his Wikipedia. Username “Ammelida” edits from 04:52 to 05:48. Her first edit,

Added [en] caption: An unidentified man c.1532-43, Hans Holbein the Younger

By the last edit, Ammelida has completely redone the page. They take out the original description by UrikSweden (above) and replace it with,

description = {{en|1=A portrait drawing of an unidentified man. A bust length portrait facing three-quarters to the right. He wears a fur collar and hat with a feather and gold ornaments pinned to its brim.}}

Added as reference: “https://www.rct.uk/collection/912260/an-unidentified-man RCIN 912260” and “Parker, K. T. (1945). ”The Drawings of Hans Holbein in the Collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle.” London: Phaidon Press, p. 48, pl. 44.”

So let’s look at the link to RCT (Royal Collection Trust).

Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023

As of 22 March 2022, the Royal Collection Trust has it labeled as “An unidentified man”. There is no mention of George Boleyn or John Dudley for that matter.

So what’s all this? Wikipedia is where it seems to have originated. There are articles that feature this portrait as “George Boleyn”, they use the Wikipedia upload as a source.

Was it used in a documentary? Did they not see Susan James’ biography on Katherine Parr from 2009 saying it may be John Dudley? There just is NO source as to where the identification came from. With Dudley, at least there is a copy of the “An unidentified man” identified as “possibly John Dudley”.

At 01:31, username Ammelida takes the portrait out of George Boleyn’s Wikipedia stating,

Deleted image: the drawing by Holbein is that of an unidentified man. Parker, K. T. (1983). The Drawings of Hans Holbein in the Collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle. London: Phaidon Press, pl. 44.

Hever Castle’s display showing the “An Unidentified man” as “sometimes identified as George Boleyn”. By who? Photo by Natalie on Facebook at On the Tudor Trail: Retracing the steps of Anne Boleyn.

Hever Castle, home to the Boleyns, at one point started displaying it as “possibly George”. I think the description of the portrait states Dr Owen Emmerson as the expert. Comments?

I found a photo of the display at Hever. I commented on it. Brought up the identification of John Dudley and asked why it was thought to be George? No answer. Also note that it’s dated c.1526 here. The date for the portrait on RCT is c.1532-43. Not sure if that really matters.

Discussions of the portrait possibly being George have arisen on Facebook. Dr Sarah Morris was brought up as another expert who thinks it’s “George”. Comments?

On the Facebook page for Gareth Russell, author of Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII, he has a post about it. On 2 February 2023 he wrote,

Is this the long-lost face of George Boleyn?

Anne Boleyn’s brother was a prominent, early, and enthusiastic supporter of the Protestant Reformation. He was also described as being as handsome as Adonis. Framed and executed on a charge of incest in 1536, it’s been assumed for centuries that all portraits of George, Lord Rochford, were lost or destroyed.

But there’s a modern theory that this sketch could be him.

It’s possible – and some see a similarity between this man and a sketch alleged to show his sister, Queen Anne. However, the two of them had dozens of first cousins on their mother Lady Ormond’s side, for instance. There were also Butler and Boleyn cousins on their father’s side. So people with a physical resemblance to Anne or George wouldn’t have been hard to find at court. Cousins often look as alike, or more alike, than siblings.

It’s not impossible that this shows George Boleyn, but it’s also possible it shows some other prominent courtier.

What do you think?

Response from yours truly as “Queen Catherine Parr”:

That’s the only reason people have started associating this with George? A similarity between the portrait and the one thought to be Queen Anne? You guys gotta do better than that. We don’t even know what Anne really looks like. Thanks to some random person it was uploaded as possibly George Boleyn to Wiki and it’s been showing up as factually correct all over the internet. However, if people took the time to click on the portrait (actually do some research on the portrait) they would eventually see that there is a link to the drawing in the RCT where it remains unidentified and there is no mention of this ridiculous idea of it being George.

So… ya’ll it’s “An unidentified man”… but copies say it could possibly be John Dudley…comments, thoughts?

Update: I just found the portrait has been uploaded to Wikipedia twice before. The uploads are still identified as “An unknown man”, but the portraits were added to the media page for John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland. When you click on the portraits for more info, you find the portraits remain unidentified, but were added to the media collection for Dudley in 2015.

Wikipedia Media page for John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland.

Another one for “possibly John Dudley”

Portrait d’un homme inconnu, cour du roi Henri VIII, c. 1532. Peut-être John Dudley, 1er duc de Northumberland, qui a essayé d’installer Lady Jane Gray comme reine. Gravure à la main en paper-plaque de Charles Knight après un portrait de Hans Holbein le plus jeune à partir d’imitations de dessins originaux de Hans Holbein, John Chamberlaine, Londres, 1812.

The Queen’s Mother: Lady Maud Parr

Maria de Salines (Bea Segura), Lady Maud Parr (Natalie Grady), and Katherine of Aragon (Paola Bontempi) in Secrets of the Six Wives (2016)

By Meg Mcgath, 22 March 2023 *be kind and if you find info here…leave breadcrumbs. Thanks!*

Lady Maud Parr, (6 April 1492 – 1 December 1531) was the wife of Sir Thomas Parr of Kendal, Knt. She was the daughter and substantial coheiress of Sir Thomas Green of Greens Norton, Northamptonshire. The Greens had inhabited Greens Norton since the fourteenth century. Green was the last male heir, having had two daughters. Her mother is named as Joan or Jane Fogge. However, I haven’t been able to prove her parentage. According to Linda Porter, Katherine Parr is a great-granddaughter of Sir John Fogge. When asked for a source, Porter said it came from Dr Susan James. In her biography on Katherine, Susan James states, “he [Green] had made an advantageous with the granddaughter of Sir John Fogge, treasurer of the Royal household under Edward IV”. Fogge was married to Alice Haute (or Hawte), a lady and cousin to Edward’s queen, Elizabeth. By her father, Maud descended from King Edward I of England multiple times. Her sister, Anne, would marry Sir Nicholas Vaux (later Baron). Vaux married firstly to Maud’s would be mother-in-law, the widowed Lady Elizabeth Parr, by whom he had three daughters including Lady Katherine Throckmorton, wife to Sir George of Coughton. Her father spent his last days in the Tower and died in 1506 trumped up on charges of treason.

Coat of arms of Queen Katherine’s parents; Sir Thomas Parr and Maud Green from The Great Hall at Hampton Court Palace which features the royal pedigrees of the six wives from Edward I of England.

Ten months after the death of her father, the fifteen year old Maud became a ward of Thomas Parr of Kendal (c.1471/1478 (see notes)-1517) a man nearly twice her age. Around 1508, Maud married to Thomas, son of Sir William Parr of Kendal (1434-1483) and Elizabeth FitzHugh (1455/65-1508), later Lady Vaux. At the time, he was thirty seven while she was about sixteen. He would become Sheriff of Northamptonshire, master of the wards and comptroller to King Henry VIII. He would become a Vice chamberlain of Katherine of Aragon’s household. When Princess Mary was christened, he was one of the four men to hold the canopy over her. He would become a coheir to the Barony of FitzHugh in 1512 and received half the lands of his cousin, George, 7th Baron (d.1512). Had he lived, he most likely would have received the actual title as a favored courtier. The barony is still in abeyance.

Maud became a lady to Queen Katherine of Aragon along with Lady Elizabeth Boleyn, mother of the future Queen Anne. It seems as though the Parrs and Boleyns were indeed in the same circle around the king—something rarely noted! Both Thomas Boleyn and Thomas Parr were knighted in 1509 at the coronation of King Henry VIII and Queen Katherine of Aragon.

Maud’s relationship with the Queen was a relationship that went much deeper than “giddy pleasure”. Both knew what it was like to lose a child in stillbirths and in infancy. It was Katherine Parr’s mother, Maud, who shared in the horrible miscarriages and deaths in which Queen Katherine would endure from 1511 to 1518. The two bonded over the issue and became close because of it. Lady Parr became pregnant shortly after her marriage to Sir Thomas Parr. Most people think that Katherine Parr, the future queen and last wife of Henry, was the first to be born to the Parrs; not so. In or about 1509, a boy was born to Maud and Thomas. The happiness of delivering an heir to the Parr family was short lived as the baby died shortly after — no name was ever recorded. It would be another four years before Maud is recorded as becoming pregnant again. In 1512, Maud finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl. She was christened Katherine, after the queen, and speculations are that Queen Katherine was her godmother. In about 1513, Maud would finally give birth to a healthy baby boy who was named William. Then again in 1515, Maud would give birth to another daughter named Anne, possibly after Maud’s sister.

In or about 1517, Maud became pregnant again. It was in autumn of that year that her husband, Sir Thomas, died at his home in Blackfriars of the sweating sickness. Maud was left a young widow at 25, with three small children to provide for. It is believed that the stress from his death caused the baby to be lost or die shortly after birth. No further record of the child is recorded. In a way Maud might have been relieved. He left a will, dated 7 November, for his wife and children leaving dowry’s and his inheritance to his only son, William, but as he died before any of his children were of age, Maud along with Cuthbert Tunstall, their uncle Sir William Parr, and Dr. Melton were made executors. He left £400 apiece as marriage portions for his two daughters. He provided for another son and if the baby was “any more daughters”, he stated “she [Maud] shall marry them at her own cost”. In his will, Parr mentions a signet ring given to him by the King which illustrates how close he was to him. He was buried in St. Anne’s Church, Blackfriars, beneath an elaborate tomb. His tomb read, “Pray for the soul of Sir Thomas Parr, knight of the king’s body, Henry the eigth, master of his wards…and…Sheriff…who deceased the 11th day of November in the 9th year of the reign of our sovereign Lord at London, in the Black Friars..” Maud chose not to remarry for fear of jeopardizing the huge inheritance she held in trust for her children. She carefully supervised the education of her children and studiously arranged their marriages.

In October 1519, Maud was given her own quarters at court. From 7 to 24 June 1520, Maud attended the queen at The Field of the Cloth of Gold, the meeting between King Henry VIII and King Francis I of France. Her sister, Anne, now Lady Vaux, and her husband, Nicholas, along with her other in laws, Lord Parr of Horton and his wife, were also present.

According to this article, which states no sources,

“In 1522, Maud was assessed for a “loan” to the King for the French Wars, of 1,000 marks, a very substantial sum, the same as the amount provided by Lord Clifford. She appears in the various household accounts of Henry VIII and Katharine of Aragon as entitled to breakfast at Crown expense and to suits of livery for her servants, as well as lodgings, which were very hard to come by.

In 1523, Maud started writing letters to find a suitable husband for her daughter, Katherine. Henry le Scrope (c.1511-25 March 1525), son and heir to Sir Henry le Scrope, 7th Baron Scrope of Bolton by his wife Mabel Dacre, was a cousin. The negotiations lead to nothing. By 1529, Maud found a match for her daughter in Sir Edward Borough, son of Sir Thomas.

When regulations for the Royal household were drawn up at Eltham, in 1526, Lady Parr, Lady Willoughby and Jane, Lady Guildford were assigned lodgings on “the queen’s side” of the palace. If an emergency arose, yeoman were sent with letters from the queen “warning the ladies to come to the court”. Maud was still listed, along with only five other ladies, which included the King’s sister, as having the privilege of having permanent suites in 1526. Maud was friendly with the King as well—her husband had been a favored courtier—and gifted him a coat of Kendal cloth in 1530. She was gifted miniatures of the King and Queen from the Queen herself.

In the summer of 1530, Maud visited her daughter, now Lady Katherine Borough, in Lincolnshire. She stayed at her own manor in Maltby, which was eighteen miles from Old Gainsborough Hall. It is thought that her presence there influenced Sir Thomas Borough to give his son, Edward, a property in Kirton-in-Lindsey. This gave Katherine an opportunity to manage a household of her own.

Maud continued her position at court as one of Katherine of Aragon’s principal ladies and stayed close to the Queen even when her relationship with the king started to decline. Henry’s infatuation with Anne Boleyn, one of the Queen’s ladies, became apparent and inevitably the ladies began to take sides. In these times, Queen Katherine never lost the loyalty and affection of women like Maud Parr, Gertrude Courtenay, and Elizabeth Boleyn, who had been with the Queen since the first years of her reign. At the time of her death, Maud was still attending Queen Katherine.

Maud died on 1 December 1531 at age thirty nine and is buried in St. Ann’s Church, Blackfriars Church, London, England beside her husband.

Drawing of the Parr tomb at St. Anne’s, Blackfriars, London which was destroyed. Dressed in heraldic robes, Thomas and Maud kneel with their children on the tomb. The presence of the Nevill arms with three labels [children of the 5th Earl, eldest son and heir, and Countess of Salisbury, sole heiress] is stressed several times. Also notice the addition of another son kneeling by Thomas. Maud had had a son before the birth of Catherine [b.1512]; he died before the birth of Catherine. © Susan James, biographer of Queen Catherine.

“My body to be buried in the church of the Blackfriars, London. Whereas I have indebted myself for the preferment of my son and heir, William Parr, as well to the king for the marriage of my said son. As to my lord of Essex for the marriage of my lady Bourchier, daughter and heir apparent to the said Earl. Anne, my daughter, Sir William Parr, Knt., my brother, Katherine Borough, my daughter, Thomas Pickering, Esq., my cousin and steward of my house.”

In her will, dated 20 May 1529, Maud designated that she wanted to be buried Blackfriars where her husband lies if she dies in London, or within twenty miles. Otherwise, she could be buried where her executors think most convenient. Maud left her daughter, Katherine, a jeweled cipher pendant in the shape of an ‘M’. Maud also left Katherine a cross of diamonds with a pendant pearl, a cache of loose pearls, and, ironically, a jeweled portrait of Henry VIII. To her daughter, Anne, she left 400 marks in plate and a third share of her jewels. The whole fortune, Lady Parr had directed, was to be securely chested up ‘in coffers locked with divers locks, whereof every one of them my executors and my … daughter Anne to have every of them a key’. ‘And there’, Lady Parr’s will continued, ‘it to remain till it ought to be delivered unto her’ on her marriage. She also provided 400 marks for the founding of schools and “the marrying of maidens and especial my poor kinswomen”. Cuthbert Tunstall, who was the principal executor of Maud’s will, she left to “my goode Lorde Cuthberd Tunstall, Bisshop of London…a ring with a ruby”. Tunstall had been an executor of her late husband’s will as well. An illegitimate son of Sir Thomas of Thurland Castle, he was a great-nephew of Alice Tunstall, paternal grandmother to Sir Thomas Parr. To her daughter-in-law, Anne, she left substantial amounts of jewelry, “to my lady Bourchier when she lieth with my son” as a bribe to get the marriage consummated. Maud also left a bracelet set with red jacinth to her son, William. She begs him “to wear it for my sake”. Maud was also stated in her will, “I have endetted myself in divers summes for the preferment of my sonne and heire William Parr as well”. For her cousin, Alice Cruse, and Thomas Parr’s niece, Elizabeth Woodhull or Odell, Maud left “at the lest oon hundrythe li”. She wills her “apparrell [to] be made in vestments and other ornaments of the churche” for distribution to three different parish churches which lay close to lands that she controlled. She bequeathed money to the Friars of Northampton. For centuries, historians have confused the first husband of her daughter, Katherine, with his elder grandfather, Edward, the 2nd Baron Borough or Burgh of Gainsborough (d.August 1528). He was declared insane and was never called to Parliament as the 2nd Baron Borough. Some sources mistakenly state she was just a child at the time of her wedding in 1526. Katherine’s actual husband, Sir Edward Borough (d.1533), was the eldest son and heir of the 2nd Baron’s eldest son and heir, Sir Thomas Borough, who would become the 1st Baron Borough under a new writ in December 1529. Katherine and Edward were married in 1529. At the time, Thomas Borough was still only a knight. Maud mentions in her will, Sir Thomas, father of the younger Edward, saying ‘I am indebted to Sir Thomas Borough, knight, for the marriage of my daughter‘. Edward was the eldest son and heir to his father, Sir Thomas, Baron Borough. He would die in 1533. Maud’s will was proved 14 December 1531.

Maud and Thomas had three children to survive infancy.

The children who survived…William, Katherine, and Anne.

Katherine or “Kateryn” (1512-1548), later Queen of England and Ireland, would marry four times. In 1529, Katherine married Sir Edward Borough. He died in 1533. In 1534, Katherine became “Lady Latimer” as the wife to a cousin of the family, Sir John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer (of Snape Castle). He was dead by March 1543. A few months later, on 12 July, Katherine married King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace. The king died in January 1547. In May of that year, Katherine secretly wed Sir Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour (d.1549) of Sudeley Castle, a previous suitor from 1543. Their love letters still survive. By Seymour, Katherine had a daughter, Mary. Katherine died 5 September 1548. Seymour would be executed 20 March 1549 for countless treasonous acts against the crown (his nephew was King Edward VI).

William (1514-1571) married on 9 February 1527, at the chapel of the manor of Stanstead in Essex, to Anne Bourchier, suo jure 7th Baroness Bourchier (d. 26 January 1571), only child and heiress of Henry Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Essex (d.1540). In 1541, she eloped from him, stating that “she would live as she lusted”. Susan James states the next year, Parr secured a legal separation. James also states that on 13 March 1543, a bill was passed in Parliament condemning Anne’s adulterous behavior and declaring any children bastards. Wikipedia states “On 17 April 1543 their marriage was annulled by an Act of Parliament and any of her children “born during esposels between Lord and Lady Parr””(there were none) were declared bastards. The source is G. E. Cokayne, ”The Complete Peerage”, n.s., Vol.IX, p.672, note (b). I have not been able to access The Complete Peerage to confirm. On 31 March 1551, a private bill was passed in Parliament annulling Parr’s marriage to Anne. She predeceased Parr by a few months. William married Elisabeth Brooke (1526-1565), a daughter of George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham of Cobham Hall in Kent, by his wife Anne Bray. A commission ruled in favour of his divorce from Anne shortly after he married Elizabeth Brooke in 1547, but Somerset punished Parr for his marriage by removing him from the Privy Council and ordering him to leave Elizabeth. The divorce was finally granted in 1551, and his marriage to Elizabeth was made legal. On 31 Mar 1552, a bill passed in Parliament declaring the marriage of Anne Bourchier and Parr null and void. Their marriage was declared invalid in 1553 under Queen Mary and valid again in 1558 under Queen Elizabeth who adored William. Each change of monarch, and religion, changed Elizabeth’s status. She died in 1565. William married Helena Snakenborg in May 1571 in Elizabeth’s presence in the queen’s closet at Whitehall Palace with pomp and circumstance. Parr would die 28 October 1571.

Anne (1515-1552) who married Sir William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke in 1538. They had three children: Henry, Edward, and Anne. They are ancestors to the current Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, Earl of Carnarvon, Earl of Powis, Marquess of Abergavenny, and other nobility.


Porter, James, and Mueller state Thomas Parr was born in 1478. However, in James’s biography of Katherine, she states he was 37 at the time of his marriage to Maud Green in 1508. So that would be about 1471, right?


Susan James. “Catherine Parr: Henry VIII’s Last Love”, 2010. Google eBook (preview)

Susan James. Women’s Voices in Tudor Wills, 1485–1603: Authority, Influence and Material Culture, 2016. Google eBook (preview)

Meg McGath. “Childbearing: Queen Katherine of Aragon and Lady Maud Parr”, 2012.

Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence, ed. Janel Mueller, 2011. Google eBook (preview)

Sir Nicholas Nicolas. Testamenta Vetusta: being illustrations from wills, of manners, customs, … as well as of the descents and possessions of many distinguished families. From the Reign of Henry II. to the accession of Queen Elizabeth, Volume 2, 1826. Google eBook

Elizabeth Norton. “Catherine Parr
Wife, Widow, Mother, Survivor, the Story of the Last Queen of Henry VIII
”, 2010. Google eBook (preview)

Linda Porter. Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin Publishing, 2010)

Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011. Google eBook (preview)

Gareth Russell. Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII, 2017. Pg 215. Google eBook (preview)

Agnes Strickland. Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest With Anecdotes of Their Courts, Volumes 4-5, 1860. Pg 16. Google eBook

Tudor and Stuart Consorts: Power, Influence, and Dynasty, ed. Aidan Norrie, Carolyn Harris, Danna R. Messer, Elena Woodacre, J. L. Laynesmith, 2022. Google eBook (preview)

The Antiquary: A Magazine Devoted to the Study of the Past, volume 24, 1891. Google eBook

The Reliquary, Volume 21, 1881. Google eBook

Queen Katherine Parr: The Cameo Beads


Katherine Parr
attributed to Master John
oil on panel, circa 1545
71 in. x 37 in. (1803 mm x 940 mm)
Purchased with help from the Gulbenkian Foundation, 1965
Primary Collection
NPG 4451

Katherine Parr was a true Renaissance queen. The Renaissance was literally a time of the rebirth of Classical knowledge and learning, and humanists venerated the wisdom of Ancient scholars, spending their time translating and philosophising of the surviving texts. And of course, this fascination with Antiquity was reflected in other areas of society, such as art, literature, even dress. Katherine was very engaged with humanist scholars and participated in humanist activities such as the study of languages and the translation of classical texts. This appreciation of classical learning can even be seen in her portraiture.

The National Portrait Gallery houses a portrait of Katherine painted by Master John, an artist we know little about except he unusually seems to have been English born, and he had an incredible eye for detail in his work. The portrait is dated to 1545, a year or two into her third marriage to Henry VIII, and is one of three contemporary portraits of Katherine that are extant (for more on Catherine’s contemporary portraits, see my post here: https://tinyurl.com/2p973nph ). It is a beautiful portrait, however it is very easy to miss the exquisite detail work that has gone into it. I certainly did, until I read the wonderful Nicola Tallis’ ‘All The Queen’s Jewel’s, 1445-1548,’ which discusses the minutiae of the jewels of the Tudor queens, as can be found in a whole range of different records, including inventories and portraits.

Up close of the NPG 4451

Several aspects of this particular portrait are highlighted by Nicola, but I think the most fascinating are the girdle beads hanging from Katherine’s waist. At first glance, they seem like any other girdle beads – a standard accessory for any Tudor lady – but once you get up close and personal to the portrait, it becomes clear that each bead is a cameo face.

From Nicola Tallis, All the Queen’s Jewels

Cameos were very fashionable, very valuable, and very rare during this period. They most commonly depicted figures from the Ancient world, just as these ones do. In this portrait, the uniqueness of each cameo suggests that each one was supposed to represent a specific figure from Antiquity. Unfortunately, their identities have not survived. From Parr’s inventories as queen we do know that she owned a number of cameos and jewels with ‘antiquez personz.’ From Katherine’s records, and by comparing inventories, we know that some of these pieces were actually inherited from her predecessors, Jane Seymour and Katherine Howard, whilst others were commissioned by Katherine herself.

That Katherine carefully selected this piece to be portrayed in is significant. It shows how much she valued her own learning, and it aligned her with the brightest minds of her day. It also showed her status, to be able to afford such a valuable item. It signalled that she was a lady of learning, and a queen that humanists could approach for patronage.

These cameo beads are such a small detail, but they speak volumes about fashion trends, the skill of the artist, and the character of Katherine herself.

Reference: Nicola Tallis ‘All the Queen’s Jewels’. Pages 126-127 discuss this portrait and the beads in particular, and there is a discussion about the use of cameos and ‘antique faces’ in jewellery on page 87. Thanks to Jessica Carey-Bunning for researching!

More reading

How did the portrait become reidentified as Katherine Parr in 1996?

National Portrait Gallery’s 4451 Conservation

Susan James. Lady Jane Grey or Queen Kateryn Parr?, Burlington Magazine, vol. 138, January 1996, pp. 20-4.