Ladies-in-Waiting: Mary Wotton, Lady Carew

Mary (née Wotton), Lady Guildford
Mary (née Wotton), Lady Guildford by Hans Holbein

Mary Wotton (1499-17 September 1558) was the daughter of Sir Robert Wotton of Boughton Malherbe, Kent (1465-1524) and the heiress, Anne Belknap. By her sister, Mary was the great-aunt of Lady Jane Grey.

The Wotton family were merchants from London. The Wottons seemed to have suffered as a result of the War of the Roses, but seemed to survive and come out on top afterwards like the Howards, Carews, etc. At one time, Sir Robert was Controller of the Royal Household. He also received the Order of the Garter. Mary’s brother, Nicholas, was a diplomat and Ambassador to France to Queen Mary. Her nephew, Sir Henry, was also a diplomat and a poet. Her sister became Marchioness of Dorset and eventually Duchess of Suffolk.[4]

Wotton may have been the Mistress Wotton who was a chamberer to Mary Tudor, queen of France, in 1513.

She married first, as his second wife, Sir Henry Guildford (1489-1532) and was his executrix. Guildford was long associated with Sir Nicholas Carew so that may explain how the eventually widowed Lady Guildford married secondly to a Carew.

Mary, as Lady Guildford is listed as being one of the ladies who performed in a masque at the elaborate banquet that took place after the signing of the Treaty of Universal Peace with the French Ambassadors. The entertainment was lead by the King himself and his sister, the French Queen. At that time, Mary, Lady Guildford, was listed as part of the household of Queen Katherine of Aragon. Other ladies listed are Lady Carew, Elizabeth (Bessie) Blount, and Lady St. Leger. Wotton appeared quite frequently at court and probably lived there.[1]

According to Susan James, Lady Carew (previously Lady Guildford) was a veteran at court who had known Katherine’s mother, Lady Maud Parr.[2] The family connections were strong as the Parrs were already connected to the Guildford family. Lord Guildford was the son of Joan Vaux, sister of Sir Nicholas Vaux. After the death of Lord Parr in 1483, the widowed Elizabeth, Lady Parr, remarried to Sir Nicholas Vaux. Vaux became stepfather to the future Queen Katherine’s father, Sir Thomas. As for the Carews, Sir Thomas and Maud were friends with them while they were at court during the reign of Queen Katherine of Aragon. Several of the Carew family members would be placed within the household of Queen Katherine Parr including Wymond Carew who became the Queen’s treasurer.[2]

Apparently, along with her mother-in-law, Lady Jane Guildford, and her sister, the Marchioness of Dorset, she was one of the most prominent women at court in the 1530s.[1]

After Guildford died, she continually wrote to King Henry to receive some sort of help, referring to herself as a “poor widow”. She received a release from all her obligations to the king on March 25, 1533 but was still deeply in debt in 1535 when she wrote to Lord Cromwell on the subject.[1]

Her second husband, married in July 1540, was Sir Gawin Carew of Exeter and Wood, Devon (c.1503-1583). Mary was the second of his three wives. Gawin was the fourth and youngest son of Sir Edmund Carew. He was a Protestant and was devoted to the cause. When Anne of Cleves arrived, he was tasked with receiving her. We find that Sir Gawin was a Navy man and was in command of the ship Matthew Gonson during 1545. The ship was 500 tons and contained 300 men.[4]

As Lady Carew, she lived at Wood Barton, but was obviously frequently at court as she went on to attend Queen Katherine Parr and was part of her inner circle. Perhaps Mary was even given apartments again.

The appearance of Mary is not described anywhere, but from the complaints of King Henry we can tell that Queen Katherine’s ladies were not much to look at. Perhaps their daily clothing did not help enhance their beauty; if they were beautiful. It was probably to the Queen’s credit that she kept her ladies in subdued colors and didn’t flaunt them like other consorts did. Queen Katherine had seen what happened to Henry’s other wives and probably didn’t want a repeat of what happened before she became Queen.[2]

Along with Lady Herbert, Lady Lane, and Lady Tyrwhitt, Lady Carew was tasked with assisting the Queen on her first Maundy Thursday activities (1544), where the Queen performed her duty of washing the feet of poor women.[2]

When Katherine published her book, Psalms or Prayers, Mary and the inner circle of the Queen were included as recipients of the book.[3]

Lady Carew died on 17 September 1558. She is buried in the Church of Kentisbeare in the Whiting Chapel. Her effigy is not present, but can be seen on the monument of her husband, Sir Gawen Carew in the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene in Exeter Cathedral.[4]

For more on her tomb and memorial, see here (Memorials of the West).

Portraits

Sources

  1. Barbara Harris. English Aristocratic Women, 1450-1550: Marriage and Family, Property and Careers. Google ebook.
  2. Susan James. Catherine Parr: Henry VIII’s Last Love.
  3. Mike Pincombe, Cathy Shrank. The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature: 1485-1603. Google eBook
  4. Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association. Google eBook
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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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