The Throckmorton family of Coughton Court in Warwickshire is one of the oldest Catholic families in England. The Throckmortons were prominent in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I (Tudor). Sir George Throckmorton was a favorite of King Henry VIII during his early years as King. He owed his position probably due to his brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Parr, comptroller of the King’s household and loyal friend of the King. However, his marriage to the Lancastrian Vaux family may have had something to do it. Throckmorton’s wife, Lady Katherine (Vaux), was the younger half-sister of Lord Parr, both being children from one of Lady Elizabeth’s (born FitzHugh) two marriages; Lord Parr and Lord Vaux. The Vaux family was loyal to Henry VI and especially Margaret of Anjou when she was exiled to France. George’s father-in-law, Nicholas, became a protege and favorite of Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII Tudor. As the stepson of Lord Vaux (Lord William Parr died shortly after the coronation of Richard III in 1483), Thomas Parr is noted to have been a possible pupil in the household of Henry VIII’s grandmother as a young lad.
The connection to the Parr family made Throckmorton an uncle by marriage to queen consort Katherine Parr, the Marquess of Northampton, and Lady Anne Herbert (wife of William, 1st Earl of Pembroke). The Parrs also shared common ancestry with the Throckmorton’s through their maternal great-grandmother Matilda Throckmorton (Lady Green), daughter of Sir John Throckmorton and Eleanor de la Spiney (great-grandparents of Sir George). George Throckmorton, however, would become involved in a scandal to keep the King from divorcing his first wife, Queen Katherine of Aragon, to marry her lady-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn. Throckmorton didn’t approve and supported the queen. Most members, including Sir Thomas Parr’s widow and his cousin, Lady Maud Parr (Green), stuck by Katherine of Aragon until her household was dissolved.
12 FEBRUARY 1570: THE DEATH of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton
A cousin of Katherine Parr, Throckmorton was a staunch Protestant, and a supporter of Lady Jane Grey, though he served as a Member of Parliament under all the Tudor monarchs including the Catholic queen, Mary I. His importance during the reign of Elizabeth I was mainly as an ambassador to France and to Scotland. Throckmorton was the son of Katherine’s paternal aunt, Hon. Katherine Vaux and cousin Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton Court (a supporter of Queen Katherine of Aragon). Throckmorton was a page in the household of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond by 1532-6; his cousin, William Parr (brother of Queen Katherine) had been raised and educated with Fitzroy and the Earl of Surrey and his maternal uncle, also named William Parr, was head of the household there. Throckmorton then became a servant in the household of his cousin, William, Baron Parr by 1543. Throckmorton, along with his brother Clement, would go on to serve in the household of their cousin Queen Katherine Parr by 1544-7 or 8. After the reign of Henry VIII, Throckmorton continued to serve at court. Upon the death of the Dowager Queen, he returned to the household of his cousin, the 1st Marquess of Northampton (William Parr).
12 FEBRUARY 1581: THE DEATH of Sir Robert Throckmorton
Sir Robert Throckmorton (c.1513-12 February 1581) was the eldest son of Sir George Throckmorton of Coughton Court and Hon. Katherine Vaux. As such, Robert was the elder brother of Nicholas, above. Throckmorton, like his father, was Catholic. His role in the succession crisis of Queen Mary is not clear, but it seems that he backed Mary’s claim because of the positions he was given. He was knighted in 1553 and appointed Constable of Warwick Castle among other positions. His Catholicism explains his disappearance from the Commons in the reign of Elizabeth I, although the most Catholic of his brothers, Anthony Throckmorton, was to sit in the Parliament of 1563. Judged an ‘adversary of true religion’ in 1564, Throckmorton remained active in Warwickshire until his refusal to subscribe to the Act of Uniformity led to his removal from the commission of the peace. (A. L. Rowse) Throckmorton married twice and had issue by both wives who would continue his legacy at Coughton Court.
- S.T. Bindoff. “The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558,” 1982: THROCKMORTON, Sir Nicholas (1515/16-71), of Aldgate, London and Paulerspury, Northants.
- S.T. Bindoff. “The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558,” 1982: THROCKMORTON, Robert (by 1513-81), of Coughton, Warws. and Weston Underwood, Bucks.
- Peter Marshall, David Starkey. “Catholic Gentry in English Society: The Throckmortons of Coughton from Reformation to Emancipation,” Intro by David Starkey, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., Nov 17, 2009.