Sir William Parr, Baron Parr of Kendal (1434-bef. 26 February 1484[2, see notes]/Autumn 1483) KG was a courtier and soldier best known for being the grandfather of Queen Katherine Parr, Lady Anne Herbert, and William, 1st Marquess of Northampton. His granddaughter would become the sixth and final queen of King Henry VIII and his grandson would become one the most powerful men during the reigns of Edward VI (as the king’s “beloved uncle”) and Elizabeth I.
Parr was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Parr and Alice Tunstall, daughter of Sir Thomas Tunstall of Thurland. His paternal grandparents were Sir John Parr of Kendal Castle and the heiress Agnes Crophull of Weobley, widow of Sir Walter Devereux. Her family owned Weobley Castle in Herefordshire which passed to her children by Devereux. By his mother Agnes, Thomas Parr was a half-brother of Walter Devereux Esq. Parr’s grand-nieces and nephews included Sir Walter, 1st Baron Ferrers of Chartley and Lady Elizabeth (Devereux), Countess of Pembroke [wife to William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke] which would give the Parr’s connections to some of the most important nobility at court. Thomas Parr’s other brother, Bryan, became Lord of Parr Manor from which a branch of the Parr family, which still resides in England, descends. His maternal grandparents were Sir Thomas Tunstall of Thurland Castle and Isabel Harrington, daughter of Sir Nicholas and Isabel English. Sir Thomas Tunstall would go on to marry Hon. Joan Mowbray, daughter of Lord Mowbray and Lady Segrave and thus become the step-father of her children by Sir Thomas Grey which included the 1st Earl of Tankerville.
The Parr family had been long established in Parr, Lancashire. Parr’s family resided in Kendal. By marriage they inherited Kendal Castle and 1/4 of the Barony of Kendal which would come to be known as the “Marquis Fee.” Parr’s father, Thomas, was part of the War of the Roses and fought on the Yorkist side. He was attained in 1459 with the other Yorkists’, but the attainder was reversed in 1461 as he died in 1464. All of Parr’s siblings married into prominent families. His brother, Sir John, also a Yorkist, was rewarded in 1462 by being made Sheriff of Westmorland for life. Sir John would marry a daughter of Sir John Yonge, Lord Mayor of London. Parr’s other brother, Sir Thomas, was killed at Barnet. His sister, Mabel, married to Sir Humphrey Dacre, Baron Dacre of the North. Another sister, Agnes, would marry to Sir Thomas Strickland of Sizergh Castle. And Margaret married Sir Thomas Radcliffe.
Lord Parr was high in favor and a close friend with King Edward IV and repaid it with great fidelity. In 1469, he was on the side of the Nevilles during the battle of Banbury. In 1470, before the battle of Lose-coat-Fields he was sent by Clarence (the King’s brother) and Warwick (his wife’s uncle) and was entrusted with his answer. In 1471, Parr was one of the commissioners appointed to adjust with James III of Scotland of some alleged violations of the truce, which including a marriage treaty. On the return of King Edward again to contest his right to the crown, with Margaret Anjou supported by Warwick, Parr met him at Northampton with a considerable force and thence inarched to Barnet field where he was decided in favour of his royal master. Also in 1471, Sir Henry Stafford and his wife, Lady Margaret Beaufort (mother of King Henry VII), conveyed to him two parts of the lordships of Grasmere, Loghrigge, Longdon, Casterton, Hamelsett, and Troutbeck with their members, the hamlets of Applethwaite, Undermilbeck, and all lands in them; the close or park of Calgarth, the herbage and pannage of the same, the fishery in and of the water in Windermere, etc. Westmorland.
For his loyalty and part at Barnet, Parr was rewarded with the office of Comptroller of the Household which he held from 1471 to 1475 and again in 1481 till Edward’s death in 1483. Lord Parr was created a knight barrenet and was one of only two courtiers to become a Knight of the Garter in the second reign of Edward IV. He was MP for Westmoreland in the 6th and 12th Edward IV and served as sheriff of Cumberland in 1473. in 1475, he travelled with the King on his expedition to France. In 1483, he was constituted chief commissioner for exercising the office of constable of England and was made ambassador to treat with the embassy from Alexander, Duke of Albany (son of James II of Scotland and uncle to James IV). Upon the death of King Edward, he was part of the funeral.
Life under Richard III
Sometime after 1475, Parr married secondly to Hon. Elizabeth FitzHugh, daughter of Lord FitzHugh and Lady Alice Neville (sister of Warwick and cousin to Edward IV and Richard III). Lord FitzHugh was the associate of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury (Elizabeth’s grandfather). Lord FitzHugh had been a long-standing supporter of the Neville family; he supported the Earl of Salisbury in his dispute with the Percy family in the 1450s. FitzHugh also served with the earl on the first protectorate council. Lord FitzHugh would go on to become a close ally of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick [“Warwick, the Kingmaker”] during the War of the Roses. In about 1452, FitzHugh would marry into the Neville family, marrying a sister of Warwick, Alice.
Due to the affiliation of Parr’s second wife to the Royal family, Parr was pressured by his mother-in-law, Lady FitzHugh, to follow the rule of her cousin, the Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III), while he was serving as Lord Protector of the Realm. Parr, however, was not persuaded that Richard’s determination for the throne was justified. The murder of William, Lord Hastings on 13 June 1483 was the tipping point. Hastings had been a close friend and adviser of the late King Edward IV. Parr was no doubt a friend as well as a relation (Hastings was Parr’s uncle by marriage; Hastings was married to Lady Katherine Neville, another sister of Warwick). Parr was loyal to the institution of the monarchy, but deserted the idea of usurpation, however justified it was in political terms. When Richard became King, Lord Parr chose not attend the coronation. Parr had even been given a position in the coronation as canopy bearer. Lady Parr and her mother, however, were present. Both were dressed in fine dresses made by cloth that the new King himself had given them. Elizabeth received seven yards of gold and silk; her mother received material for two gowns, one of blue velvet and crimson satin as well as one of crimson and velvet with white damask. It is not known which gown Elizabeth wore as she rode behind Queen Anne (Neville); but she was one of the seven noble ladies given this honour. After the coronation, Lady Parr was personally appointed by the new Queen and served as lady-in-waiting to her cousin, whom she was close to. Queen Anne was the younger daughter of Lady Parr’s uncle, Lord Warwick.
Lord Parr is thought to be buried in Kendal Parish Church in Kendal, Cumbria, England. The tomb is not majestic and is tucked away behind chairs. His coat of arms can be seen on his tomb. The Church also features the famous “Parr Chapel.”
Marriages and Issue
Before July 1468, Lord Parr was married firstly to Joan Trusbut (d.1475). The marriage produced no known children, however, Joan left a son, John, from her previous marriage to Thomas Colt Esq. of Roydon (d.1467). After Joan’s death, her son’s wardship was granted to Lord Parr. (The Manors of Suffolk) Colt most likely grew up with the children of Parr’s second marriage. Colt would marry and have a daughter, Jane, the first wife of Sir Thomas More.
After Joan’s death in 1475, Lord Parr married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Henry FitzHugh, 5th Baron FitzHugh of Ravensworth and his wife Lady Alice Neville by whom he had three sons and two daughters. After Parr’s death, his widow would remarry to Sir Nicholas Vaux (later 1st Baron) and by him she had further issue. (Plantagenet Ancestry)
- Anne Parr, Lady Cheney (AFT 1475–4 November 1513), who married Sir Thomas Cheney of Irthlingborough. Their daughter Elizabeth, would go on to marry the son of Nicholas Vaux, 1st Baron Vaux of Harrowden (Elizabeth FitzHugh’s second husband) by his second marriage to Anne Green; maternal aunt to Katherine Parr. When Elizabeth Cheney married Lord Vaux, she was age 18 and he was age 14. While there were no blood relations, Lord Vaux’s father had issue by his marriage to his first wife (see below); thus making Hon. Katherine, Hon. Alice, and Hon. Anne Vaux her maternal aunts. Through these relations, Elizabeth Cheney and her husband, the 2nd Lord Vaux, would have Throckmorton cousins in common.
- Sir Thomas Parr, Lord of Kendal (AFT 1475–11 November 1517), who was the eldest son, was knighted and was sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1509; he was master of the wards and comptroller to Henry VIII. He was rich, owing to his succeeding, in 1512, to half the estates of his cousin, Lord FitzHugh, and also to his marriage with Maud Green, daughter and coheiress of Sir Thomas Green of Boughton and Greens Norton in Northamptonshire. He died on 12 November 1518, and was buried in Blackfriars Church, London. His widow died on 1 September 1532, and was buried beside him. They were parents to Queen Katherine Parr, William Parr [1st Marquess of Northampton], and Anne Parr [Countess of Pembroke].
Sir William Parr, 1st Baron Parr of Horton (BEF 1483–10 September 1547), the second son, was knighted on 25 December 1513, was sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1518 and 1522, and after his niece’s Katherine Parr’s promotion became her chamberlain. On 23 December 1543 he was created Baron Parr of Horton, Northamptonshire. He died on 10 September 1547, and was buried at Horton (for his tomb, see Bridges, Northamptonshire, i. 370). By Mary, daughter of Sir William Salisbury, he left four daughters.
- John Parr, Esq. (BEF 1483–8 September 1508), married Constance, daughter of Sir Henry Vere of Addington, Surrey. They had no issue.
- Alice, died young (b. before 1483).
After her husband Sir William Parr died in 1483, Elizabeth, who was twenty three at the time, was left with four small children. A familiar situation which Queen Katherine’s own mother would find herself in when her husband died in 1517, leaving her with three small children. Instead of choosing not to re-marry, like Maud Parr, Lady Parr made a dubious second marriage with a protege of Lady Margaret Beaufort [mother of the new King], Sir Nicholas Vaux, the future 1st Baron Vaux of Harrowden, which saved the family fortunes.
- Linda Porter. “Katherine, the queen,” Macmillan, 2010.
- Douglas Richardson. “Plantagenet Ancestry,” Genealogical Publishing Com, 2011. pg 662.
- James, Susan. Catherine Parr: Henry VIII’s Last Love. (2009), pg 15, 81.
- Sir Leslie Stephen. “Dictionary of National Biography,” Vol 43, Smith, Elder, 1895. pg 366. Google eBook