The OTHER Elizabeth Cheney

Lately on Pinterest I have noticed that a certain portrait has become labeled as a member of Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard’s family. The woman in the portrait is being credited as their grandmother (or whatever) “Lady Elizabeth Cheney Tilney”. The link used on each pin belongs to The Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and if clicked on — the title is clearly stated as being “Elizabeth Cheyne, Lady Vaux (1509-1556)”

Lately on Pinterest I have noticed that a certain portrait has become labeled as a member of Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard’s family. The woman in the portrait is being credited as their grandmother (or whatever) “Lady Elizabeth Cheney Tilney“. The link used on each pin belongs to The Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and if clicked on — the title is clearly stated as being “Elizabeth Cheyne, Lady Vaux (1509-1556)“.[1]

The actual Lady Elizabeth Tilney was born in 1422 as a Cheney, the daughter of Lawrence and Elizabeth Cokayne. Elizabeth married firstly to Sir Frederick Tilney by whom she had a daughter named Elizabeth Tilney. By Lord Tilney, Elizabeth was in actuality the great-grandmother of Queens Anne Boleyn (wife no. 2) and Katherine Howard (wife no. 5). As the widowed Lady Tilney, Elizabeth made a second marriage to Sir John Saye. By that marriage she was also the great-grandmother of Queen Jane Seymour (wife no. 3). Lady Elizabeth Saye (born Cheney) died in 1473.

The only daughter of Sir Frederick Tilney and Lady Elizabeth (born Cheney), Elizabeth, married firstly to Sir Humphrey Bourchier by whom she had issue. After her first husband died, the widowed Lady Bourchier became the wife of Sir Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey (later Duke of Norfolk) on 30 April 1472. This couple was parents to Lady Elizabeth Howard (mother of Anne Boleyn) and Sir Edmund Howard (father of Katherine Howard)–the two doomed queens of King Henry VIII.

Will the Real Elizabeth Cheney Please Stand Up?

il_fullxfull.740790797_tf54
A copy of “Lady Vaux” originally by Hans Holbein c. 1536. This copy was done in 1938.

As for the REAL Elizabeth Cheyne (or Cheney)–she was born in 1509; around the time that Anne Boleyn may have been born. Elizabeth was the daughter of Sir Thomas Cheyne of Irthlingborough, an Esquire of the Body to Henry VIII, and Lady Anne (born Parr). Sir Thomas Cheyne (d.1514) was the son of Sir John Cheyne of Fen Ditton (c.1424-1489) and his wife Elizabeth Rempston (born c.1418)–see below for more info.[8] Lady Anne’s parents were Sir William Parr, Baron Parr of Kendal and Lady Elizabeth (born FitzHugh). By her parents, Lady Anne was a paternal aunt to Henry VIII’s last queen, Katherine Parr. In 1516, Elizabeth Cheyne became a ward of of her step-grandfather, Sir Nicholas (later 1st Baron Vaux of Harrowden). In 1523, she was married to Sir Thomas Vaux (later 2nd Baron Vaux of Harrowden); the heir of Lord Nicholas Vaux by his second wife.[1][2][3]

The Close Circle of Nobility

Step-grandfather you say?

Now this is where the history of the Vaux and Parr families become extremely confusing to some–Elizabeth Vaux and Katherine Parr’s grandmother, the widowed Lady Elizabeth Parr (born FitzHugh), married secondly to Sir Nicholas Vaux (later 1st Baron) as his first wife. This move was made as a measure to ensure loyalty to the new Tudor King, Henry VII. Lord Vaux’s mother, Katherine, had been a loyal supporter of the House of Lancaster and Queen Margaret of Anjou (wife of Henry VI). Elizabeth FitzHugh, herself, was loyal to the House of York. Her mother Lady Alice Neville was a daughter of Sir Richard, 5th Earl of Salisbury. As such, Elizabeth was a niece of Richard, Earl of Warwick “Warwick, the Kingmaker”. As close family members, Elizabeth and her mother were part of the coronation train of Queen Anne (born Neville) and attended her as ladies afterwards. Elizabeth and Nicholas had three daughters. One was the wife of Sir George Throckmorton, also named Katherine (née Vaux). After Elizabeth FitzHugh died, Lord Vaux married secondly to Anne (née Greene); the maternal aunt of Queen Katherine Parr. By Anne, Lord Nicholas had his heir–Thomas–who married Elizabeth Cheyne. Upon Thomas and Elizabeth’s marriage in 1523, Elizabeth was formally titled Lady Elizabeth Vaux or Lady Vaux. The family tree of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard have no such lady with this title.[2][3]

As for Sir Thomas Cheyne–here is where some people may have confused the portrait. Cheyne was of the same lineage as Lady Elizabeth Tilney/Saye (born Cheney), daughter of Sir Lawrence (d.1461) and Elizabeth Cokayne. Thomas’s father, Sir John (d.1489), was Elizabeth Cheney’s brother. So there is a connection there, but the daughter of Sir Thomas was not an ancestress to the Boleyn or Howard family.[7][8]

About the Work of Art

elizabeth2c_lady_vaux2c_by_hans_holbein_the_younger
‘Elizabeth Cheyne, Lady Vaux (1509-1556)’ c. 1536 by Hans Holbein. Windsor Castle. The Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2012–RL 12247.[1]
Above: the actual sketch from Windsor Castle’s collection of Holbein’s portraits. It is described as using Black and coloured chalks, white bodycolour, wash, pen and ink, brush and ink, and metalpoint on pale pink prepared paper; 28.1 x 21.5 cm[1]

The original sketch was acquired by Edward VI in 1547 after the death of his father, Henry VIII. Henry FitzAlan, 12th Earl of Arundel bequeathed the portrait to John, Lord Lumley in 1580. Lord Lumley probably bequeathed the portrait to Henry, Prince of Wales in 1609, and thus, it was inherited by Prince Charles (later Charles I) in 1612. Charles I exchanged the portrait with Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke (the grandson of Lady Vaux’s other cousin, Lady Anne Pembroke (sister of Queen Katherine Parr) around 1627/8. Charles II acquired the painting through Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel in 1675. It has been in the Royal Collection ever since.[1]

This drawing of Lady Vaux with the companion image of her husband was probably made as a study for a painted portrait. Holbein’s painting of Lady Vaux is known only through copies. No painting of Lord Vaux survives.[1]

lady vaux
The Hampton Court painting of ‘Elizabeth, Lady Vaux’ c. 1600-30 (Twitter user Sir William Davenant)[5][6][9]
Henry VIII loved art and collected his fair share of portraits and drawings. There is a painting of ‘Lady Vaux’ at Hampton Court (above) which is said to have been painted by Holbein. It is one of three paintings recognized as genuine by the experts. However, others debate the authenticity and the painting at Hampton is labeled ‘After Holbein–Elizabeth, Lady Vaux‘. Elizabeth is depicted looking to the front, wearing a brown dress with ermine, with a jewel at her bosom decorated with the Madonna and Child enthroned. She holds a pink carnation in her right hand, and a cherry in her left. This is thought to be a competent copy after a lost original by Hans Holbein. The original was painted in 1535. This portrait hangs in the Haunted Gallery at Hampton. The authentic sketch of ‘Lady Vaux’ by Holbein (RCIN 912247) is at Windsor Castle.[1][4][5][6]

The only other copy of the painting of Lady Vaux is in Prague Castle Gallery of all places!

hans_holbein_the_younger_28after29_-_elizabeth_vaux_28prague29
The portrait of ‘Lady Vaux’ hangs in the gallery at Prague Castle.

Authors Notes

So, if you see the portrait of Lady Vaux on Pinterest; the caption is incorrect. The fact that people refuse to or do not know how to change the caption is rather sad in my opinion. Elizabeth had no direct connection to the Boleyn or Howard families. Why do I feel like the painting was and still is being labeled incorrectly? My theory: most people do not know anything about Katherine Parr’s extended family; it seems so much easier to associate a lot of things to the Boleyn family for some fans. And when some are called on it, it can get pretty nasty. I’ve had some really nasty comments after leaving my own comment about the true identity of the sitter. For some Boleyn fans, the research, so they think, has already been done. The caption must be correct. No. But who am I? Some random pinner–or so they think.

I won’t deny that as a writer on Parr, this whole situation makes me extremely angry. I have been writing for years on this family and just trying to correct a simple image has become tiresome and pretty unpleasant. What really bothers me is the fact that putting the wrong label on a portrait deprives the memory of the real person. To me, somehow that person becomes erased.

Elizabeth, Lady Vaux died shortly after her husband on 20 November 1556. She was most likely a victim of the plague which killed her husband.[9]

More info:

Sources

  1. Holbein, Hans. “Royal Collection – Elizabeth, Lady Vaux,” circa 1536. RL 12247. Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2015. URL: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/egallery/object.asp?maker=12102&object=912247&row=82
  2. Douglas Richardson. “Plantagenet Ancestry,” Genealogical Publishing Com, 2004. pg 144, 561.
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. “A Genealogical History of the Dormant: Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire,” New Edition. London: Harrison, 1866. pg 418.
  4. ‘Spelthorne Hundred: Hampton Court Palace, pictures’, in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton, ed. William Page (London, 1911), pp. 379-380 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol2/pp379-380 [accessed 13 February 2016].
  5. Sir William Davanant on Twitter: “I give thee Elizabeth Cheyne, Lady Vaux (1509-1556). After Hans Holbein. #HamptonCourt” [https://twitter.com/SirWilliamD/status/297996052068450304]
  6. Holbein, After Hans. “Royal Collection: Elizabeth Cheyne, Lady Vaux,” circa 1600-30. RCIN 402953. Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2014. URL: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/402953/elizabeth-cheyne-lady-vaux-1505-1556
  7. A F Wareham and A P M Wright, ‘Fen Ditton: Manors’, in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire) (London, 2002), pp. 123-124 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol10/pp123-124 [accessed 11 February 2016].
  8. Richardson, Douglas. “Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families,” 2nd Edition, 2011. pg 526-7. Google eBook
  9. Johnson, Graham and Humphries, Lund. “Holbein and the Court of Henry VIII: The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace,” London and Bradford, The Gallery, 1978. pg 95-96.

©Meg McGath, 12 February 2016

This is the work and research of Meg McGath. You may not reproduce or copy this material without written permission.

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Family of Queen Katherine: Sir Thomas Vaux, 2nd Baron Vaux of Harrowden

2nd Baron Vaux, sketch by Holbein.
2nd Baron Vaux, sketch by Holbein.

Sir Thomas Vaux, 2nd Baron Vaux of Harrowden K.B. (25 April 1509[1] – October 1556), an English poet, was the eldest son of Sir Nicholas Vaux, 1st Baron Vaux and his second wife, Lady Anne [Green] (born circa 1489), daughter of Sir Thomas Green, Lord of Greens Norton, and Joan Fogge [cousin to Edward IV’s consort Elizabeth], daughter of Sir John of Ashford.[2][3] Vaux was educated at Cambridge University.[4]  Vaux’s mother was the maternal aunt of queen consort Katherine Parr, while his wife, Elizabeth Cheney, was a paternal first cousin through her mother, Anne Parr.

Life

Lord Vaux by Holbein
Lord Vaux by Holbein

In 1527, Vaux accompanied Cardinal Wolsey on his embassy to France.

Vaux privately disapproved of Henry VIII’s divorce from his first queen consort, Katherine of Aragon.[5]

It is interesting to note the family circle that he was in. The Parrs and their extended family stuck by the queen and all had an opinion of Henry’s “Great Matter.” Vaux’s aunt, Lady Maud Parr, was a lady-in-waiting and good friend to Queen Katherine of Aragon. Lady Parr was given her own quarters at court to attend the queen and when she gave birth to a baby girl in 1512, it is thought that she named her after the queen who may have been her godmother. Lady Parr stayed with the queen until her household was divided; Parr died in 1531. Lord Vaux’s sister, Katherine, would marry the staunch Catholic Sir George Throckmorton; the outspoken courtier who dared to speak out against the king.

In 1531, Lord Vaux took his seat in the House of Lords. In 1532, he attended Henry VIII to Calais and Boulogne and was made Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Anne Boleyn on 1 June 1533. He was Lieutenant Governor of Jersey in 1536. Schism from Rome caused him to sell his offices; his position as Governor was sold to Sir Edward Seymour [later Lord Protector and Duke of Somerset]. He did not attend Parliament between 1534 and 1554.[5] Instead, Vaux retired to his country seat until the accession of Mary I, when he returned to London for her coronation.[5] Vaux was a friend of other court poets such as Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey.[5]

Family and issue

Elizabeth_Cheney_Lady_Vaux
Lady Elizabeth Vaux [born Cheney] was cousin to Queen Katherine by her mother, Lady Anne [Parr].
Vaux’s father, Nicholas, had been previously married to Hon. Elizabeth FitzHugh, daughter of Henry FitzHugh, 5th Lord FitzHugh of Ravensworth Castle and Lady Alice Neville, as her second husband.[3] By Elizabeth’s first marriage to Lord William Parr, she was the mother of Anne Parr, the mother of Thomas’ wife, Elizabeth Cheney, as well as Sir Thomas Parr, father to Queen Katherine.[3]

From the marriage of Nicholas Vaux and the dowager Lady Parr, the 2nd Lord Vaux had three older paternal half-sisters; Katherine, Lady Throckmorton; Alice, Lady Sapcote; and Anne, Lady Strange.[3] After the death of Elizabeth in about 1507, the 1st Lord Vaux married secondly, in about 1508, to Anne Green, the older sister of Maud Green, Lady Parr who had married Sir Thomas Parr; thus making the 2nd Lord Vaux a first cousin to queen Katherine. At the time of the marriage, Lord Vaux was aged c.47, she was aged c.18.

Sir Thomas had been contracted to marry Elizabeth Cheney, daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Cheney of Irtlingburgh and Anne Parr (aunt to Queen Katherine), since 6 May 1511 [he was aged 2].[3] Thomas married Elizabeth between 25 April 1523 and 10 November 1523.[3] They had three children.

  • Hon. William Vaux, 3rd Baron Vaux of Harrowden (born 1535), married firstly before 1557 to Elizabeth Beaumont, a distant cousin, by whom he had issue. In 1563, Vaux married to his second cousin, once removed, Mary Tresham, great-granddaughter of Sir William Parr, Baron Parr of Horton (uncle to Queen Katherine Parr) and had issue.
William, Lord Vaux of Harrowden (1535-1595), oil on panel 31 x 24½in. (78.8 x 62.2cm.). Inscribed
William, Lord Vaux of Harrowden (1535-1595), oil on panel 31 x 24½in. (78.8 x 62.2cm.). Inscribed “Willm. Lo. Vaux AE. ?de 40. ?ans 1575” 1575; Circle of Cornelius Ketel
  • Hon. Nicholas Vaux
  • Hon. Anne Vaux, married Reginald Bray of Stene, nephew of Edmund Braye, 1st Baron Braye; had issue.

Thomas Vaux died in October 1556.

Descendants

Among the many descendants of Thomas, Lord Vaux and his wife Elizabeth, Lady Vaux are:

  • Lady Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales and thus HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and HRH Prince Henry of Wales.
  • Sarah, Duchess of York [by both parents], who was married to Prince Andrew, Duke of York and is mother to TRH Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
  • HRH Princess Alice [Montagu-Douglas-Scott], Duchess of Gloucester, who married HRH Prince Henry, 1st Duke of Gloucester [son of King George V and Queen Mary]. They were parents to HRH Prince Richard, 2nd Duke of Gloucester (b.1944).
  • Henry George Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood, husband to HRH Princess Mary, Princess Royal [only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary]. They had two sons including the 7th Earl of Harewood.

Art

Sketches of Vaux and his wife by Holbein are at Windsor, and a finished portrait of Lady Vaux is at Hampton Court. Another hangs in Prague. More info: The OTHER Elizabeth Cheney

Elizabeth, Lady Vaux of Harrowden, wife to the 2nd Baron Vaux.
Elizabeth, Lady Vaux of Harrowden, wife to the 2nd Baron Vaux.

Elizabeth, Lady Vaux

Works

Two of his poems were included in the Songes and Sonettes of Surrey (Tottel’s Miscellany, published in 1557 (see 1557 in poetry). They are “The assault of Cupid upon the fort where the lover’s hart lay wounded, and how he was taken,” and the “Dittye … representinge the Image of Deathe,” which the grave-digger in Shakespeare’s Hamlet misquotes.[4]
Thirteen pieces in the Paradise of Dainty Devices, published in 1576 (see 1576 in poetry), are signed by him.[4] These are reprinted in Alexander Grosart’s Miscellanies of the Fuller Worthies Library (vol. iv, 1872).

Lord Vaux wrote during Queen Mary’s reign. The following lines by Vaux were first printed in The Paradise of Devices (1576).

OF A CONTENTED MIND
When all is done and said, in the end thus shall you find,
He most of all doth bathe in bliss that hath a quiet mind:
And, clear from worldly cares, to deem can be content
The sweetest time in all his life in thinking to be spent.
The body subject is to fickle Fortune’s power,
And to a million of mishaps is casual every hour:
And Death in time doth change it to a clod of clay:
Whenas the mind, which is divine, runs never to decay.
Companion none is like unto the mind alone; [or none]
For many have been harmed by speech, through thinking, few,
Fear oftentimes restraincth words, but makes not thought cease; [peace]
And he speaks best, that hath the skill when for to hold his
Our wealth leaves us at death; our kinsmen at the grave;
But virtues of the mind unto the heavens with us we have.
Wherefore, for virtue’s sake, I can bo well content,
The sweetest time of all my life to deem in thinking spent.

The introduction of a rhyme at the cesura or pause of the longer line in this measure breaks of its couplets into a four lined stanza. We have example of this by the same poet in what a MS copy describes as, “a dytte or sonet made by Lord Vaux in the time of the noble quene Marye representing the image of Death.” The first, third, and eighth stanzas of this poem, with a line from the last but one transferred to the third, were chosen by Shakespeare for the grave-digger’s song in fifth act of Hamlet; the clown giving, of course, his rudely remembered version of them [see Hamlet, act five].

So Shakespeare’s clown quoted it. This is the poem itself as written in Queen Mary’s reign by Lord Vaux:
THE IMAGE OF DEATH
I loathe that I did love,
In youth that I thought sweet,
As time requires for my behove
Methinks they are not meet.
My lusts they do me leave,
My fancies all arc fled,
And tract of time begins to weave
Grey hairs upon my head.
For Age with stealing steps
Hath clawed me with his crutch,
And lusty Life away she leaps
As there had been none such.
My Muse doth not delight
Me as she did before;
My hand and pen arc not in plight,
As they have been of yore.
For Reason me denies
This youthly idle rhyme;
And day by day to me she cries,
“Leave off these toys in time.”
The wrinkles in my brow,
The furrows in my face,
Say, limping Age will lodge him now.
Where Youth must give him place.
The harbinger of Death,
To mo I see him ride :
The cough, the cold, the gasping breath
Doth bid mo to provide.
A pickaxe and a spade,
And eke a shrouding sheet,
A house of clay for to be made
For such a guest most meet.
Methinks I hear the clerk,
That knolls the careful knell,
And bids mo leave my woeful work,
Ero Nature me compel.
My keepers knit the knot
That Youth did laugh to scorn,
Of me that clean shall be forgot,
As I had not been born.
Thus must I Youth give up,
Whose badge I long did wear;
To them I yield the wanton cup
That better may it bear.
Lo, here the bared skull,
By whose bald sign I know,
That stooping Age away shall pull
Which youthful years did sow.
For Beauty with her band
These crooked cares hath wrought,
And shipped me into the land
From whence I first was brought.
And ye that bide behind,
Have ye none other trust :
As ye of clay were cast by kind,
So shall ye waste to dust.
From: Cassell’s library of English Literature, selected, ed. and arranged by H. Morley
By Cassell, ltd.

References

  1. George Edward Cokayne. The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, Vol. XII/2, p. 219-221.
  2. Unknown author, David Faris. Plantagenet Ancestry of 17th Century Colonists, p. 39.
  3. Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, pg 326, 561-562, 566.
  4. Dominic Head. The Cambridge Guide To Literature In English, Cambridge University Press, Jan 26, 2006. pg 1151.
  5. John Saward, John Morrill, Michael Tomko. Firmly I Believe and Truly: The Spiritual Tradition of Catholic England, Oxford University Press, Nov 15, 2011. pg 92.
Researched and written by Meg McGath

© 26 March 2012