Ladies-in-Waiting: Mary Arundell

mary arundell

Portrait of Lady Ratcliffe, inscribed “The Lady Ratclif”. Black and coloured chalks, pen and brush and Indian ink, metalpoint, on pink-primed paper, 30.1 × 20.3 cm, Royal Collection, Windsor Castle. Water stain on right. Rubbed and partly reinforced later.

Mary Arundell, Countess of Arundel (died 20 October 1557) was the only child of Sir John Arundell of Lanherne, Cornwall, and his second wife, Katherine Grenville , a daughter of Sir Thomas Grenville.[1]

On 20 November 1530, Mary’s half-brother, Sir Thomas Arundell of Wardour, married to Margaret Howard. Margaret was the daughter of Lord Edmund Howard and Jocasa Culpepper, and thus a sister to Queen Katherine Howard. Queen Katherine was the 5th wife of King Henry VIII. Katherine was executed for treason in 1542. She was succeeded by Queen Katherine Parr, who Mary Arundell would serve.[2]

Mary firstly married to Sir Robert Ratcliffe, 1st Earl of Sussex as his third wife in 1536/37. Ratcliffe had previously been married to Lady Elizabeth Stafford and Lady Margaret Stanley. Lady Elizabeth Stafford was the daughter of the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and a niece of the late Queen Elizabeth Woodville, consort to King Edward IV. Margaret Stanley was the daughter of the 2nd Earl of Derby and Anne Hastings.[3]

The Earl of Sussex was born in 1483. He was the son of John Radcliffe, 9th Baron FitzWalter and his wife, Margaret. He was appointed as a Knight, Order of the Bath in 1509. He was then appointed as a Knight, Order of the Garter in 1524. He became a Privy Councillor in about 1525/26. On 8 December 1529, he was created Earl of Sussex. He held the office of Chamberlain to the Exchequer between 1532 and 1542 and held the office of Great Chamberlain between 1540 and 1542. The Earl and Mary Arundell had two sons together. One who died in infancy and Sir John Radcliffe (1539-68). The Earl died on 27 November 1542.[3]

The Earl of Sussex is featured in the fictional depiction of the State Opening of Parliament in the Reign of King Henry VIII in the files at the National Portrait Gallery in London.[3]

On 28 October 1545, the widowed Mary remarried to Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel. The Earl was the son of William, 18th Earl of Arundel and Lady Anne Percy. By his father, Henry was cousin to Queen Katherine Parr. By his mother, Henry was also cousin to Queen Katherine and to Sir William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, brother-in-law to Queen Katherine Parr. Queen Katherine was known to favor kin over others when it came to picking ladies that suited her household.

Henry FitzAlan was born circa 1517. His story starts when he joined the household of King Henry VIII. He would then accompany the King to Calais in 1532. In 1533, he would be summoned to Parliament as Lord Maltravers. By 1540, he was made Deputy of Calais. He was appointed Knight, Order of the Garter on 18 May 1544. He would go on to serve the King in the War against France in 1545 as Lord Marshal. He would besiege and take Bolougne. On his return to England, he was made Lord Chamberlain. He held that position from July 1546 to January 1550. In July 1546, he was also made a Privy Councillor. He was part of the twelve Councillors nominated to assist as an executor in the will of King Henry, but held little power under the new rule of Somerset. He would then act as High Constable at the Coronation of Edward VI. The two had no issue. The Earl died on 24 February 1580.[5][6]

Mary Arundell died on 20 October 1557 at Arundel House, The Strand, London, England. She was buried on 28 October 1557 at St. Clement Danes Church, The Strand, London, England. At some point her body was buried at Arundel Castle. In 1847, a lead coffin, said to carry her remains was found there and is now buried beneath the floor of the FitzAlan Chapel there.[1]


The Holbein drawing of ‘Lady Ratclif’ has been proposed as being that of Mary Arundell. The truth in the matter is that the sitter could have been a number of Lady Ratcliffes as Sir Robert Ratcliffe, 1st Earl of Sussex had three wives. However, Mary would have been known as Lady Sussex as the wife of the Earl of Sussex.

Art historian K. T. Parker tentatively favored his son Henry’s wife Lady Elizabeth Howard (d. c. 1536), daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and his second wife, Agnes Tilney, as the most plausible sitter, since Holbein drew other members of the Howard family. (K. T. Parker, The Drawings of Hans Holbein at Windsor Castle, Oxford: Phaidon, 1945, OCLC 822974, p. 41.)


  1. Cokayne, G.E.; Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors. The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed.. 13 volumes in 14. 1910-1959. Reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000, volume I, pg 252.
  2. Pine, L. G.. The New Extinct Peerage 1884-1971: Containing Extinct, Abeyant, Dormant and Suspended Peerages With Genealogies and Arms. London, U.K.: Heraldry Today, 1972. pg 9.
  3. Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke’s Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003, volume I, page 1442.
  4. Joseph Sympson. Two scenes depicting the State Opening of Parliament in the Reign of Henry VIII (fictional), 18th Century. NPG Online.
  5. G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I, page 250.
  6. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Arundel, Earls of“. Encyclopædia Britannica2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 706–709.

Family of Queen Katherine: Lady Joan, Countess of Arundel

Effigy of Lady Arundel in the FitzAlan Chapel, St. Nicholas, Arundel Castle, Sussex, England – redone by TudorQueen6.

Joan FitzAlan, Countess of Arundel (before 2 November 1424-before 9 September 1462) (born Lady Joan Neville) was the eldest daughter out of the six daughters of Sir Richard, 5th Earl of Salisbury and Lady Alice Montacute, suo jure 5th Countess of Salisbury [Countess in her own right]. Alice was the granddaughter of Lady Alice FitzAlan, Countess of Kent; daughter of Sir Richard “Copped Hat”, 10th Earl of Arundel and Lady Eleanor of Lancaster. Joan was most likely born at her mother’s principal manor in Wessex.

The Salisbury’s had ten children which included Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known as ‘Warwick, the Kingmaker’; John, 1st Marquess of Montague; Lady Cecily, Duchess of Warwick; Lady Alice, Baroness FitzHugh; Lady Katherine, Baroness Hastings; and Lady Margaret, Countess of Oxford. Joan’s family was one of the oldest and most powerful families of the North. They had a long standing tradition of military service and a reputation for seeking power at the cost of the loyalty to the crown as was demonstrated by her brother, the Earl of Warwick.[2] Warwick was the wealthiest and most powerful English peer of his age, with political connections that went beyond the country’s borders. One of the main protagonists in the Wars of the Roses, he was instrumental in the deposition of two kings, a fact which later earned him his epithet of “Kingmaker”.

Joan and her siblings would visit their grandmother, Lady Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland [daughter of Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Earl of Lancaster and Katherine Swynford], often at her manors in Middleham and Sheriff Hutton. After 1440, her father inherited the manors and Joan and her siblings began living in the manors on a more permanent basis. At and early age Joan started lessons in Latin and French with an introduction to law and mathematics. Joan would begin every day by attending mass with her family. As the tradition of most nobility of the times, the parents were absent attending to the King’s matters or personal business. They only saw each other on special occasions.

Arundel Castle and surrounding town in 1644.

Lady Joan married her 3rd cousin, William FitzAlan, 16th Earl of Arundel, sometime after 17 August 1438. After she married, Joan spent most of her adult life at Arundel Castle in Sussex where the Earls were seated. Arundel was the son of John FitzAlan, 13th Earl of Arundel and Eleanor Berkeley. His mother was a daughter of John Berkeley and Elizabeth Betteshorne, granddaughter of Thomas de Berkeley, 3rd Baron Berkeley and his second wife Catherine Clivedon. Through Arundel’s great-grandfather, the 1st Lord Arundel, came the inheritance of the Earldom of Arundel. It passed to Lord Arundel’s grandson, John [13th Earl], upon the death of his cousin, Thomas FitzAlan, the 12th Earl. Arundel was a direct descendant of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine; King Henry III and Eleanor of Provence; King Edward I and Eleanor of Castile; and others.

William fought in the Second Battle of St Albans (22 February 1461) as a supporter of the House of York. The Yorkists were commanded by his brother-in-law Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick. Edward IV of England named him a Knight of the Garter in 1471, probably in honour of his support during the Wars of the Roses. He was Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1471 and from 1483 to 1488. After Joan’s death in 1462 he largely retired from public life.

They had four sons and one daughter,[3]

  1. Thomas, Lord Maltravers (23 November 1417–1487) who succeeded his father as the 17th Earl of Arundel. He was godfather to Prince Arthur of Wales, son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Thomas married to Lady Mary Woodville, sister of queen consort Elizabeth Woodville [wife to Edward IV.] They had issue which included William, 18th Earl of Arundel.
  2. William FitzAlan
  3. George FitzAlan
  4. Sir John FitzAlan
  5. Lady Margaret FitzAlan

Joan, Lady Arundel died in 1462. Joan was buried with her husband in FitzAlan Chapel adjoining St. Nicholas Church, Arundel Castle. There effigy is conserved in glass after being severely damaged over the centuries. Her sisters, Cecily and Margaret, were also interred with their husbands in the Chapel. Joan is the only sister’s effigy which survived the Dissolution and the Puritans

Joan’s sister was Alice, Lady FitzHugh, great-grandmother to Queen Katherine Parr. The FitzHugh’s were related to the FitzAlan family through the 4th Lord FitzHugh’s wife, Hon. Margaret Willoughby, who was a great-granddaughter of Sir Edmund, 9th Earl of Arundel. The Neville’s were also descendants of Sir Richard, the 8th Earl who’s daughter, Eleanor, married Sir Henry Percy, 9th Baron Percy. Joan’s mother, Alice, also descended from the FitzAlan family being the granddaughter of Lady Alice FitzAlan [see intro].

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  1. David Baldwin. The Kingmaker’s Sisters: Six Powerful Women in The War of the Roses, Gloucestershire: The History Press, 2009.
  2. Linda Porter. Katherine the Queen; The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII. Macmillan, 2010.
  3. Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011.


Meg McGath
© 9 November 2012