Family of Queen Katherine: DEATH of William, 1st Earl of Pembroke

Pembroke family of Wilton. Wilton Church.
Pembroke family of Wilton. Wilton Church.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Sir William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, husband of Anne Parr, and thus sister-in-law to Queen Katherine. Lord Pembroke died on 17 March 1570 at Hampton Court Palace. William was eldest son of Sir Richard Herbert of Ewyas, Herefordshire, by his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Matthew Cradock of Swansea. Pembroke’s father, Sir Richard, was an illegitimate son of the original William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke of the first creation (d. 1469), by a mistress, Maud, daughter of Adam ap Howell Graunt. He married firstly to Anne Parr in 1538 and after her death, Lady Anne Talbot, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury. Parr gave Pembroke an heir (the 2nd Earl), an heir to spare (ancestor to the Earls of Powis), and a daughter (no issue). Talbot had no issue by Pembroke.

Hampton Court Palace, London, England.
Hampton Court Palace, London, England.

On the eve of 17 March 1570, Pembroke took to his bed in his quarters at Hampton Court Palace. He was joined by his younger son, Sir Edward Herbert and the Earl of Leicester, Robert Dudley.

Pembroke had written his will back on 28 December 1569. Pembroke’s executors/witnesses of his will were his heir Henry Herbert (later 2nd Earl of Pembroke was the sole executor), the Earl of Leicester (Robert Dudley); Sir Walter Milday; Sir Nicholas Throckmorton (cousin to his first wife); Gilbert Gerrard. To those men he bequethed £50 to be delivered either in money, plate of jewels, within one month. And by codicil it is mentioned that Pembroke declared to Leicester and his son, Sir Edward Herbert, that on the night before his death, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, Sir James Crofts, and Mr. Secretary Cecil be joined in the oversee and receive the same gifts. To his wife, (Anne Talbot) he left her, her own clothes and jewels, which would otherwise go to his son Henry, Lord Herbert and his wife. Lady Pembroke was to be looked after and to be allowed to stay at Baynard’s Castle where Pembroke’s previous wife had died in 1552. Pembroke’s second son, Edward, was given a plate with the value of 500 marks. Pembroke’s daughter, Anne, Lady Talbot, was to receive £500. To his brother-in-law, the Marquess of Northampton (William Parr), he left his second-best gold sword. Leicester received Pembroke’s best gold sword. Pembroke also wanted £200 bestowed upon the poor near Baynard castleward in London, Salisbury in Wiltshire, and Hendon. To the Queen (Elizabeth), he left his “newest fairest and richest bed” and his greatest jewel called the “Great Ballace.” Most importantly, the ordinary men (his servants, etc) were to be looked after by his heir, Henry.

That my lorde Herbert do consider Thomas Gregorie and Tidie with money for their travaile and paines beside that he hath bequethed to them in annuity that he speciallie do appointe to Francis Zouche and Charles Arundell fit and good annuities for them. That he have special care of Henrie Morgan, George Morgan, Phillip Williams, Robert Vaughan, and Thomas Scudamore and either entertaigne them into his service payinge them their wages beforehand or else appoint them sufficient annuities. That he do entertaigne his household and keep them together

Philip Williams had been Pembroke’s secretary; Robert Vaughan, his treasurer; Thomas Scudamore was one of the men who carried his coffin.

Leicester then left Pembroke’s bedside, leaving Pembroke with his son and physicians. Pembroke died the next morning, 17 March 1570 at the age of sixty-three.

In his will, Pembroke listed two possible burial places; Old Saint Paul’s or Canterbury Cathedral. If he died near London, his wishes were to be buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral next to his first wife, Anne Parr. Pembroke obviously loved his wife for when he wrote his will, despite being married again, he wanted nothing more than to be buried “near the place where Anne my late wife doth lie buried” in St. Paul’s. He was buried in April.

Shortly after his death, the Dowager Lady Pembroke received a letter from the Queen in the hand of Cecil, but heavily corrected (most likely by Elizabeth). The Queen expressed her condolences of the loss of “our late cousin.”

See also: “Funeral of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke


  • Adam Nicolson. “Quarrel with the King: The story of an English family on the high road to Civil War,” HarperCollins, Oct 6, 2009.
  • Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, Devizes : Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 1879. pg 126-28.

Author: tudorqueen6

Meg McGath is the author behind the articles on tudorqueen6; she has been studying the history and genealogy of the Parr family since 2007. Now, a decade later, she is still writing about her favorite Tudor queen, Kateryn Parr. Meg studied Women's Studies with an emphasis on English Women's History at the University of Maryland. One of her goals is to end the myth that Kateryn Parr was nothing more than a nursemaid to the aging King Henry VIII. "It simply isn't true, she did so much more for the Royal Family and her country," says Meg. And, of course, to educate Tudor enthusiasts on the prestigious lineage and connections of the Parr family. "Kateryn was related to everyone at court by blood or marriage. She was a descendant of the Beaufort line of John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, and Katherine Swynford. She shared this line with two of her husbands, Lord Latimer and the King," Meg states. A book is always her end game with Parr, but Meg has yet to put all the information together and send it to a publisher. "I've been told by many, including Professors, that I am a good writer..." says Meg. "The book, would focus on the generations before the Queen and how the Parr family became courtiers and relatives of The Crown." Meg has also done extensive research on the massive jewels and tiara collection of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty's collection was built starting with Queen consort Charlotte of Mecklenberg, wife of King George III, and grandmother of Queen Victoria. Meg is now putting together a separate blog that coincides with her Tudor Wiki contributions which started in 2007.

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