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)“.[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?


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


‘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!


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:


  1. Holbein, Hans. “Royal Collection – Elizabeth, Lady Vaux,” circa 1536. RL 12247. Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2015. URL:
  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 [accessed 13 February 2016].
  5. Sir William Davanant on Twitter: “I give thee Elizabeth Cheyne, Lady Vaux (1509-1556). After Hans Holbein. #HamptonCourt” []
  6. Holbein, After Hans. “Royal Collection: Elizabeth Cheyne, Lady Vaux,” circa 1600-30. RCIN 402953. Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2014. URL:
  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 [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.

Ancestral Lineage: Boleyn vs. other English Queens?

Katherine Parr and Anne Boleyn, both were of equal birth -- Katherine's lineage, especially that of her father however, was better and more established at court than the Boleyn's. [David Starkey]

Katherine Parr and Anne Boleyn, both were of equal birth — Katherine’s lineage, especially that of her father however, was better and more established at court than the Boleyn’s. [David Starkey]

We have had this discussion before; who has the better lineage, who’s family was more “noble”, who was born “higher”, etc. Online, in the Wikipedia article for Anne Boleyn, it states that:

“According to Eric Ives, she was certainly of more noble birth than Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s three other English wives.”[19]

When you look at the actual source listed on Wikipedia, [19], it states Eric Ives’s opinion that “She [Anne] was better born than Henry VIII’s three other English wives.”

Ives’s statement is preceded by who Anne Boleyn’s great-grandparents were, “[apart from Geoffrey Boleyn], a duke, an earl, and the granddaughter of an earl, the daughter of one baron, the daughter of another, and and an esquire [on the path to becoming a knight] and wife.” However, when Boleyn was born, her grandfather was not a Duke. He was only Earl of Surrey.  In fact, up until a few days ago, the wife of the eventual 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Princess Anne of York (daughter of Edward IV) was labeled incorrectly on Wikipedia as “Countess of Surrey.” See below, “Dukedom of Norfolk“.

I think what is in the Wikipedia article is rather misleading and a false statement. If they are going to quote Ives, they should use the actual quote. However, both historians Agnes Strickland and Dr. David Starkey have a different view on Katherine Parr’s lineage and “lower birth than Anne Boleyn.” Agnes Strickland quotes that Katherine Parr’s paternal ancestry was more distinguished than that of Thomas Boleyn and John Seymour. According to David Starkey, Katherine Parr’s lineage,

“unlike that of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, was better and more established at Court.”[4]

The Wiltshire Archeological and Natural History Magazine (Vol. 18, 1879), also states,

“She was of more distinguished ancestry than either Anne Boleyn or Jane Seymour.” (pg 85)

The “noble” birth I suppose refers to the fact that her mother was a “Lady” as a daughter of a Duke? That was her maternal lineage and Boleyn’s mother, at the time of her birth, was not the daughter of a Duke, but the daughter of an Earl. Anne Boleyn’s cousin Queen Katherine Howard, was the daughter of Lord Edmund Howard (as styled after 1514), a male line of the Dukes of Norfolk. In 1480, (Elizabeth Howard’s birth date that I have) the Howard family was not Duke of Norfolk; not even Earl of Surrey. After John Howard’s (great-grandfather of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard) elevation to Duke on 28 June 1483, his son, Thomas (later 2nd Duke and father to Elizabeth Howard), was created Earl of Surrey on the same date. However, the titles were forfeited and attained after the Battle of Bosworth field and the death of King Richard III (1485). The “2nd Duke” (grandfather to Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard) was restored as Earl of Surrey in 1489 (under Henry VII); and restored/created the (2nd) Duke of Norfolk in 1514 (under Henry VIII), and resigned the Earldom of Surrey to his son (also named Thomas, future 3rd Duke) on the same day; the future “3rd Duke” wouldn’t become Duke until the death of his father in 1524. Boleyn and Howard were married c.1500 while Elizabeth’s father was still Earl of Surrey. The Howard family had no idea if Surrey would be granted the Dukedom again (1489-1514 is a big gap and there were two different monarchs reigning, Henry VII and then Henry VIII in 1509). Therefore, when Anne was born — she was not the granddaughter of a Duke.

2nd to 4th Duke of Norfolk by European Heraldry.

2nd to 4th Duke of Norfolk by European Heraldry.

Duke of Norfolk

History lesson on the Howard’s — the Howard’s were not always the Dukes of Norfolk and in fact, the title was forfeited several times; in 1485, 1546, and 1572.[1] The title was inherited by Anne and Katherine’s ancestor Sir John Howard, the son of Thomas Mowbray’s [created Duke of Norfolk in 1397] elder daughter Lady Margaret Mowbray, Lady Howard (wife of Sir Robert Howard). Sir John Howard was created 1st Duke of Norfolk on 28 June 1483, in the title’s third creation. However, two years later, the title, along with the courtesy title of Earl of Surrey, was forfeit and attained upon his death at the Battle of Bosworth, 22 August 1485.[2]

When the title Duke of Norfolk was created for Thomas Mowbray on 1397, it was most likely bestowed upon him due to his mother, Elizabeth Segrave (1338-1399), eldest surviving daughter of Princess Margaret of England, suo jure 2nd Countess of Norfolk.

Interesting fact, Katherine Parr’s great-great-grandfather, Sir Thomas Tunstall, would re-marry to Hon. Joan Mowbray (Parr’s 2nd cousin, 5x removed), sister of the 1st Mowbray Duke of Norfolk. Although they had no issue the Tunstalls’ and the children of Joan by her first husband Sir Thomas Grey grew up together.

The title would descend from Mowbray’s eldest son, John Mowbray, the 2nd Duke of Norfolk [not an ancestor to the Howard Dukes of Norfolk]. The title would hold in the Mowbray family until the death of Mowbray’s great-great-granddaughter, Lady Anne Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk (d.1481); who died without issue. Upon her death, her heirs normally would have been her cousins William, Viscount Berkeley (descendant of the 2nd Duke’s sister, Lady Isabel Mowbray) and John, Lord Howard (descendant of the 2nd Duke’s other sister, Lady Margaret Mowbray), but by an act of Parliament in January 1483 the rights were given to her husband Richard of Shrewsbury [Prince in The Tower], with reversion to his descendants, and, failing that, to the descendants of his father Edward IV.[8] This action may be a motivation for Lord Howard’s support of the accession of Richard III. He was created Duke of Norfolk and given his half of the Mowbray estates after Richard’s coronation on 28 June 1483.

After John Howard’s elevation to Duke, his son, Thomas, was created Earl of Surrey on 28 June 1483.[3] The titles were forfeited and attained after the Battle of Bosworth field. The “2nd Duke” (grandfather to Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Katherine Howard) was restored as Earl of Surrey in 1489; and restored as the 2nd Duke of Norfolk in 1514, and resigned the Earldom to his son (also named Thomas) on the same day. Howard (later 3rd Duke of Norfolk) had been previously married to Anne of York, daughter of King Edward IV. As a sign of closeness between King Richard III and the Howard family, Anne was betrothed to Thomas Howard in 1484.[10] At the time of their marriage in 1494/95, Howard had no titles and wasn’t even knighted (knt. 1497) which was very unusual for a marriage to a Princess. As Princess of England, Anne had been previously contracted to marry Philip “the handsome”, future Duke of Burgundy (later Philip I of Castile as husband to Juana I of Castile, sister of Katherine of Aragon). On the death of her father in 1483, the marriage however, never took place. Therefore, Anne who died in 1511, was never Countess, but technically Anne of York, Lady Howard (Lady Anne Howard).[11]

As stated above, the former Earl of Surrey (later 2nd Duke) wasn’t created Duke of Norfolk until 1 Febraury 1513/14, 4/5 years after the death of Henry VII.[3] The title would again be forfeited after the arrest of the 3rd Howard Duke of Norfolk and his son Henry, Earl of Surrey during Queen Katherine Parr’s reign, 1546.[3] At this point in time, the Parr’s and Seymour’s thrived while the Howard’s fell from favor. The title was restored to Henry Surrey’s son who became the 4th Duke in 1554 under the Catholic Queen Mary [his father predeceased him] who’s title was also forfeited upon his execution on 2 June 1572. The most interesting thing here being that Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey had been brought up in the house of Henry Fitzroy, natural son of Henry VIII with Katherine’s brother, William Parr. The two were obviously more than acquainted and most likely good friend’s. There must have been some mixed feelings with the execution of Surrey.

“although she be a simple maid, having but a knight to her father, yet she is descended of right noble blood and parentage. As for her mother, she is nigh of the Norfolk’s blood, and as for her father, he is descended of the Earl of Ormonde, being one of the Earl’s heirs general.” (A letter from Lord Percy declaring Anne’s family was on the “same” level as his; from Ecclesiastical biography, ed. Christopher Wordsworth, p. 590. [5])

Butler of Ormonde

Butler, Earl of Ormonde. The 1st and 4th quarters were used “illegally” in the arms of Anne Boleyn as Marquess of Pembroke and Queen of England. European Heraldry

One can only conclude that Lord Percy was so in love with Anne that he would have done anything to help her succeed. Wordsworth online at Open Library also tells the story put forth about Anne and how she was styled Anne Rochford on her papers for Marquess of Pembroke. It seems that Anne Boleyn was doing everything against the rules of the society she lived in. Anne couldn’t use ‘Rochford’ as a surname – her mother should have used this title, as Jane Parker did when George Boleyn became ‘Viscount of Rochford’.

Anne’s paternal GRANDMOTHER, Lady Margaret Butler, was not an heiress to the Earldom of Ormonde being a female; therefore Thomas Boleyn [NOT Butler] was not “the Earl’s heirs general.” Earldom’s DID NOT pass through women; a woman could be created a Countess, but that title would have been created solely for that woman and her male heirs, like the “Marquess of Pembroke.” Perhaps if Lady Margaret had been the only child of the 7th Earl, the title would have passed to her and through her, but she was not the only child and according to law her male Butler relatives [cousins] would have inherited that title BEFORE her as Piers Butler did. After the death of the 7th Earl in 1515, Piers assumed the title as it was only heirs MALE that could inherit the title, not women (unless under special circumstances by orders of Parliament)!

Tomb of Sir Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormonde and Lady Margaret Fitzgerald. Saint Canices Cemetery, Kilkenny County, Kilkenny, Ireland.

Tomb of Sir Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormonde and Lady Margaret Fitzgerald, parents to the 9th Earl. Saint Canices Cemetery, Kilkenny County, Kilkenny, Ireland.

Concerning Thomas Boleyn’s claim to the Earldom of Ormonde:

In 1529, Piers Butler was forced to give up the title of 8th Earl of Ormond, which he assumed in 1515 and the title was granted to Sir Thomas Boleyn. In place of the Earldom of Ormonde, Piers received the title of Earl of Ossory instead; the subsidiary title held by the Earls of Ormond.
Why would the King force Piers to give his title up? At that time, Henry VIII was already romantically involved with Anne Boleyn and the answer is clear – Thomas received Earldom of Ormond due to Anne’s relationship with Henry VIII. That Boleyn owned the title of Earl of Ormond to his daughter’s influence, is proved by him losing the title after Anne’s execution – in May 1536 the Irish Parliament passed the act that reverted Butler lands and the title of Earl of Ormond to the Crown. Henry VIII finally granted the Earldom of Ormond to Piers Butler in October 1537 (Starkey states early February 1538 [9]), before Boleyn’s death. The Earldom of Ormond was bestowed upon Thomas Boleyn without lawful claim in 1529 according to common law.

What about the Earldom of Wiltshire that Thomas received the same year?

The title of 1st Earl of Wiltshire was held by Henry Stafford, a brother of the 3rd Duke of Buckingham, executed in 1521, and an uncle of Elizabeth Stafford who married Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk in 1513. Henry Stafford died without a male issue in 1523 and the title of Earl of Wiltshire expired with his death. The title was vacant until 1529 when Thomas Boleyn received both titles – the Earl of Ormond and Wiltshire. Why would Henry VIII bestow the title of Earl of Wiltshire upon Thomas Boleyn?
In the past, the title of Earl of Wiltshire was held by James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormond. Thomas Boleyn’s claim to the Earldom of Wiltshire was the result of his claim to the Earldom of Ormond due to his affinity with the Butler family from his mother’s side. This raises a question – if the title of the Earl of Wiltshire was vacant from 1523, why did Thomas Boleyn receive it as late as in 1529? It is reasonable to assume that Anne Boleyn influenced the King to elevate her father to such honour.
(p.62,63 [6])

Sir James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormonde, son and heir of Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormonde [the rightful heir to the Earldom]

Sir James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormonde, son and heir of Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormonde [the rightful heir to the Earldom]. The identification comes after a study by David Starkey.[9]

There were very few women who inherited Earldoms in their own right; such as the only daughter and child of the 4th Earl of Salisbury, Lady Alice Montacute, suo jure 5th Countess of Salisbury (great-great-grandmother to Queen Katherine Parr). So Anne descended from the 7 Earls of Ormonde, but they go back to Edward I at the highest. Even Katherine Parr descends from the 1st Earl of Ormonde via his daughter Lady Petronilla Butler, Lady Talbot [and that’s from Maud Green’s ancestry]. The title Earl of Ormonde was actually forfeited in 1513 [the 7th Earl] and Earl of Wiltshire in 1460.[1] The wife of the 7th Earl, Anne Hankford, was the granddaughter of Sir John, 3rd Earl of Salisbury who descended from Edward I, but Katherine Parr descended from the 5th Countess of Salisbury, Lady Alice Montacute and her husband Sir Richard Neville, who by right of his wife became the 5th Earl of Salisbury.

Anne Bullen, daughter of Thomas, Earl of Wiltshire [Stained Glass from Hampton Court]

Anne Bullen, daughter of Thomas, Earl of Wiltshire [Stained Glass from Hampton Court]

I’m also finding that she WAS known as Bullen, but at some point, the name was changed to Boleyn. The Parr family did that I think — but just dropped the “E”; their surname has been written as such; Parre. Bullen and Boleyn are completely different.

Queen Jane Seymour, wife no. 3.

Queen Jane Seymour, wife no. 3.

Jane Seymour descended from Edward III, but her paternal lineage is lacking in “royal” or “nobles”. Like the Boleyns, the Seymour family couldn’t trace their paternal lineage much further than a few generations; John Seymour was the first Seymour to pop up (b. 1400). The paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Darrell’s lineage (through her mother), had some interesting connections back to several illegitimate children; one from King John and a few from Henry I of England. It’s the maternal lineage that gave Jane her “royal” connection to Edward III by the wife of Sir Philip Wentworth (maternal great-grandmother of Queen Jane). Hon. Mary Clifford gave Queen Jane descent from the 1st Baron Neville of Raby Castle, William Montacute 1st Earl of Salisbury, Lady Elizabeth suo jure 4th Countess of Ulster (wife of Lionel of Antwerp and mother to Philippa of Clarence). The Countess of Ulster descended from Joan of Acre (daughter of Edward I) and Lady Maud of Lancaster, daughter of Henry 3rd Earl of Lancaster (nephew of Edward I of England). Lancaster’s other daughter, Lady Mary of Lancaster was an ancestor to Clifford. Clifford also descended from several illegitimate children by John I and Henry I of England.

Queen Katherine Howard, wife no. 5.

Queen Katherine Howard, wife no. 5.

As for Katherine Howard, she had the same ancestry as Anne Boleyn through her father Lord Edmund Howard. Her paternal lineage was “more noble” and of “better birth”. Looking at Howard’s mother (Jocasa Culpepper) however, she was of common stock. But Lady Howard did happen to descend from King Edward I by her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth of Groby Ferrers. By her, Lady Howard was a descendant of Princess Joan of Acre (second surviving daughter of Edward I by his first wife) and her first husband Sir Robert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester. Elizabeth of Groby Ferrer’s mother, Philippa Clifford was a descendant of Hon. Maud Fiennes, wife to Lord Mortimer of Wigmore — she had the amazing pedigree that went back to Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine’s daughter, Queen Eleanor of Castile. Philippa Clifford also descended from several illegitimate children of the early “Plantagenet” kings; twice by John I and several of Henry I of England. She even descended from David I of Scotland a few times. By this lineage Lady Howard also descended from Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March and Joan Geneville.

Queen Katherine Parr, wife no. 6.

Queen Katherine Parr, wife no. 6.

So who were Katherine Parr’s great-grandparents? Some of the most important figures in history! A baron or Lord who was Sheriff of Northamptonshire among other high offices, an heiress of a prominent knight, a Baron, a daughter of an Earl (uncle to the Kings of England) and suo jure Countess (both of royal blood), a Lord/Baron, a daughter of a knight, a prominent knight (among other positions), and a daughter of an aunt to the royal family.

Sir Thomas Parr, Lord Parr of Kendal’s mother was the niece of Sir Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, also known as “Warwick, the Kingmaker,” one of ”the” most important figures in the War of the Roses. Parr was also a great-grandniece, however many times removed of King Richard II as they shared the same mother/grandmother, Princess Joan of Kent, suo jure Countess of Kent, Baroness Wake of Liddell, and Princess of Wales. Katherine was just about related to every noble and royal at court who came before or during her time; Edward IV and Richard III were first cousins, thrice removed of Katherine Parr. Their wives, Anne Neville and Elizabeth Woodville, were also a first cousins, twice removed. In fact, husband two, Lord Latimer, and three, King Henry, were within the “forbidden” fourth degree of consanguinity as 3rd cousins.

Katherine Parr’s family has a pretty “noble” back round and her family was actually high up in the court scene [at this time, my recorded research of Parr’s at court traces back to Sir William Parr (c.1356-1405), a close confidant of Henry IV of England]. We just don’t see this because Parr is always seen as this “nobody who came from nowhere” when in actuality she was the daughter of a substantial knight [just like Thomas Boleyn would become].[4] Starkey even quotes, “like the family of King Henry’s second wife, the Boleyns, the Parr family had gone up in the world as a result of royal favor and successful marriages.”[4]

The “lowly” marriage of Mary Boleyn to Sir William Stafford — unlike “The Tudors” insistence that he was a “nothing” — Stafford was actually the grandson of Sir John Fogge and Alice Haute (cousin to Queen Elizabeth Woodville). This connection made Stafford a cousin to Parr’s mother, Maud Green (her aunt was Stafford’s mother, Margaret).

The notion that Anne Boleyn and Katherine Parr were not on equal ground at birth is ridiculous. Katherine was of even “higher birth” than Anne. In fact, Sir Thomas Boleyn and Sir Thomas Parr [Lord Parr of Kendal according to Bernard Burke and other sources] shared the same circle around Henry VIII and were knighted at the same time [1509]. If not for his early death in 1517, he would have been given the title settled upon his brother or that of which he was heir or co-heir to, i.e. Lord FitzHugh of Ravensworth, which to this day, FitzHugh and the others, are still in abeyance between his daughter’s descendants [the Earls of Pembroke] and that of his aunt, Alice, Lady Fiennes. We all know that those in favor, especially relatives of the King’s wives were favored, and if not for Henry’s want and need to marry Anne, her father and brother would not have been elevated so high; and she would not have been created Marquess/Marchioness of Pembroke. We clearly see this with the Parr family as well. Parr’s brother (created Baron Parr of Kendal and Earl of Essex), uncle (1st Baron Parr of Horton), brother-in-law (Lord Herbert), and other family members were also elevated when Henry married Katherine.

Fact: Katherine Parr descends from Edward I of England more than any other wife, including Anne Boleyn. It would be nice if the quote was changed and perhaps the sentences from Agnes Strickland and David Starkey could be put in. It is not entirely fair to Katherine Parr and it would be nice if for once we took a look at her family’s history which if you look at it — it’s full of nobility and royalty.

More info: Ancestral Lineage of Queen Katherine Parr


This is not a blatant attempt to attack or trash any queen. This has been an on going issue on Wikipedia to which people refuse to look at — therefore a blog is being written. This genealogy blog was done due to editors on Wikipedia who keep inserting that “Anne was of more noble blood than the other English wives.” The blog is simply to show that both women were born on equal grounds, BOTH daughters of courtiers who were knighted at the SAME time in 1509. Katherine’s father, however, died in 1517 — preventing any further advancement which Thomas Boleyn enjoyed later on. The lineage of the Parrs’, however, simply shows that Katherine’s ancestral lineage was better and more established at court. I chose to compare these two because it is obvious with Jane Seymour that her pedigree, even though it includes Edward III, is pretty far removed from the nobility and royalty at court when she became queen. As for Katherine Howard, one could argue that she was just as noble or more than Anne and Katherine as her father was the son of the Duke of Norfolk and thus styled “Lord”. The Howard’s were somewhat “removed” by the time Katherine Howard became queen though, but had been previously close to the crown. Howard’s female side, the Culpepers’, was however much like Jane Seymour’s lineage. The boost of lineage for the Boleyns’ is probably due to the fact that Anne caused much controversy on the way to becoming queen. Parr is often overshadowed due to not having any surviving children among other factors. Anne of course, was the mother of Queen Elizabeth I, who is known today as “Gloriana”.


  1. John Debrett. “Debrett’s Peerage of England, Scotland, and Ireland,” [Another], Volume 2. 1825.
  2. Paul Murray Kendall. “Richard The Third,” pp. 193-6, 365.
  3. Douglas Richardson. “Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families,” 2nd edition, 2011. pg 273-78.
  4. David Starkey. “Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII,” Chapter: Catherine Parr, HarperCollins, May 4, 2004.
  5. Christopher Wordsworth. “Ecclesiastical biography or, Lives of eminent men, connected with the history of religion in England: from the commencement of the Reformation to the Revolution,” 3d edition, London: J.G. & F. Rivington, 1839.
  6. Sylwia S. Zupanec. “The daring truth about Anne Boleyn: cutting through the myth,” 8 November 2012.
  7. Crofts Peerage, Ormonde, Earl of (I, 1328-dormant 1997)
  8. Charles Ross. “Edward IV,” (second ed.) New Haven: Yale University Press. 1997.
  9. David Starkey. “Holbein’s Irish Sitter?,” The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 123, No. 938 (May, 1981), pp. 300-301+303.
  10. Sidney Lee. Dictionary of national biography, Volume XXVIII: From HOWARD to INGLETHORP, Macmillan, Smith, Elder & Co. in New York, London, 1891. pg 64-67.
  11. Sidney Lee. Dictionary of national biography, Volume XXVIII: From HOWARD to INGLETHORP, Macmillan, Smith, Elder & Co. in New York, London, 1891. pg 1.

Ancestral Lineage of Queen Katherine Parr

Royal Emblem of Queen Katherine Parr

“Like the family of King Henry’s second wife, the Boleyns, the Parr family had gone up in the world as a result of royal favor and successful marriages.”[3] Historian Agnes Strickland quotes that Katherine’s paternal ancestry was more distinguished than that of Thomas Boleyn and John Seymour. Also, according to David Starkey, Katherine’s lineage, “unlike that of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, was better and more established at Court.”[3]

Kendal Castle was acquired through the marriage of Sir William de Parr to the heiress and only child of Sir John de Ros of Kendal, Elizabeth de Ros in 1383.

Katherine’s 3x great-grandfather was Sir William Parr (d.1405); in 1383, Sir William de Parre married Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of Sir John de Ros and Elizabeth le Latimer, daughter of Sir Thomas le Latimer, 1st Baron Latimer of Braybrooke and Lora de Hastings. Elizabeth de Ros was the granddaughter and heiress of Sir Thomas de Ros, Baron of Kendal and had livery of her inheritance. On the accession of the Duke of Lancaster as Henry IV of England, Sir William stood so high in the estimation of the new monarch that he was deputed with the bishop of St. Asaph to announce the revolution to the court of Castile; the King claimed Castile by right of his father, even though his half-sister, Katherine [daughter of the Titular Queen Constanza of Castile], had taken her rightful position as Queen consort after the debate of her Regency. He died on 4 October 1405 being then seized of the fourth part of the manor of Kirby in Kendal. In right of the heiress of Ros and was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir John of Kendal.

Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Weobley, Hertforshire. Agnes is buried with her 3rd husband. Her first husband, Sir Walter Devereux, has his own tomb and effigy.

Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Weobley, Hertforshire. Agnes Crophull is buried with her 3rd husband, John Merbery. Her first husband, Sir Walter Devereux, has his own tomb and effigy.

Katherine’s great-great-grandfather, Sir John Parr (b. circa 1383) married to Agnes de Crophull, the sole heiress to Sir Thomas de Crophull of Weobley Castle and Sybil de Bere. Agnes’s grandfather, Sir John of Bonnington was styled Seigneur of Weobley Castle as owner of Weobley Castle in Hertfordshire. The Castle had been gained through his marriage to Margery de Verdun. The Verdun’s descended from John I of England (Joan, Princess of Wales and Llewelyn Ap ‘The Great’, Prince of Wales) and his sister Princess Eleanor, Queen of Castile (Infanta Berengaria of Castile, Queen Consort of Leon and Alfonso IX, King of Leon). They also descended from King David I of Scotland. Agnes was married firstly to Sir Walter Devereux, Sheriff of Herefordshire by whom she had issue. In 1386, Devereux had livery of her lands through which Weobley Castle passed to his children by Agnes. Agnes’s cousin, Sir John de Crophull had Lordship of Ludlow Castle. Her descendants include Anne Devereux (wife of Sir William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, 1408 creation) and Sir Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex who married to Lettice Knollys. She was also a great-grandmother to Blanche Milbourne, Lady Troy and thus a great-great-grandmother to Blanche Perry. Agnes’s third husband was Sir John Merbury, Chief Justice of South Wales. The couple had no children, however Merbery had issue from his first marriage, Elizabeth, who ended up marrying her step-brother’s son, Sir Walter Devereux. This connection to Agnes Crophull gave the Parr’s more than a few connections to the gentry and courtiers.

Katherine’s great-grandfather, Sir Thomas Parr (b.1407) was Sheriff of Westmorland and Escheator of Cumberland & Westmorland. He married Alice Tunstall, co-heiress of Sir Thomas Tunstall of Thurland Castle and Isabel Harrington. By this connection she was a cousin to Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall who served Henry VIII and all of his children. Under Elizabeth I, he was put under “house arrest” in Lambeth Palace where he died. Isabel Harrington’s sister, Elizabeth, married Sir John Stanley; they were grandparents to Sir Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby making him a first cousin, three times removed. Derby married Katherine’s great-aunt, Eleanor Neville, by whom he had issue. Upon his second marriage to Lady Margaret Beaufort, Derby became step-father to King Henry VII. Derby was a key figure in the Battle of Bosworth and crowned Henry upon the battlefield. Upon the death of Isabel, Lady Tunstall, Tunstall re-married to Hon. Joan Mowbray, daughter of Sir John de Mowbray, 4th Baron and Hon. Elizabeth Segrave, herself the daughter of Lady Margaret Plantagenet, daughter of Thomas of Brotherton. The marriage produced no children, but the Tunstall’s had step-siblings from Joan’s first marriage to Sir Thomas Grey which included John Grey, Earl of Tankerville.

Katherine’s grandfather, Sir William Parr, was part of King Edward IV’s court. William held the office of comptroller of the household from 1471 to 1475 and again in 1481 till Edward’s death in 1483.[4][5][6] William was held in high favour and close friend to the King and was one of only two courtiers to become Knight of the Garter in the second reign of Edward IV. Elder generations of the Parr family had served in the household of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, ancestor of Queen Katherine. Sir William Parr could claim royal descent through many lines, a few including:

  • Blanche de Brienne and William Fieness, Baron of Tingry; Blanche was the granddaughter of Emperor Jean of Brienne, King of Jerusalem and Infanta Berenguela of León, Empress of Constantinople. By this lineage the Parr’s descended from Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile, daughter of Henry II of England and his consort Eleanor of Aquitaine. By this lineage the Parr’s also descended from the Jimenez Kings of Navarre; the infamous Garcia Ramirez, King of Navarre who “restored” the independence of the Navarrese crown after 58 years of union with the Kingdom of Aragon. The Jimenez dynasty had been ruling Pamplona, later Navarre, since 905 AD. Garcia Ramirez was the grandson of the illegitimate son of Garcia Sanchez III of Navarre. After the assassination of the King’s son, Sancho IV, Navarre was taken over by the Aragonese.
  • King John of England [through his illegitimate daughter Joan, Lady of Wales and her husband Llewelyn, Prince of Wales],[1]
  • King David of Scotland, sister of Matilda, Queen of the English [thrice through his son Henry, Earl of Huntingdon], [1]
  • King William “the Lion” of Scotland [twice through his illegitimate daughter Isabella, Lady Ros],[1]
  • Geoffrey Plantagenet, founder of the Plantagenet Kings of England through several lines.[1]
  • King Henry I of England via several illegitimate children such as Robert de Caen, 1st Earl of Gloucester
  • Stephen Blois, Count of Aumule.
  • Several times by Henry I, King of France
  • Adela of England and Stephen of Blois
  • Adeliza of Louvain, Queen consort of the English
  • The Brus family from which came Robert de Brus, King of the Scots.[1]

Lady Joan Beaufort and her daughters

Katherine descended from every King of England who had issue up to King Edward III. Katherine Parr was also the only queen of King Henry VIII to descend from the Beaufort’s; the illegitimate, later legitimized issue of  Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and his third wife, Katherine Swynford Roet. King Henry’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon, also descended from John of Gaunt by his first two wives.

Ravensworth Castle, ancestral home to the Barons FitzHugh

Sir William Parr’s wife, the Hon. Elizabeth FitzHugh, was the daughter of Henry, 5th Baron FitzHugh of Ravensworth Castle and Lady Alice Neville. FitzHugh, himself, descended from Henry I (several times), Henry II, and John I (twice); all from illegitimate children. His family was an old baronial family of England descending from Akarius Fitz Bardolph, Lord of Ravensworth (d.1161), the son of Bardolph an 11th century nobleman living in Richmondshire, the area encompassing the Ure, Tees and Swale valleys in northern England.[5] The 5th Baron was the son of William, 4th Baron FitzHugh and Margery Willoughby; by his mother he was a nephew of Richard Willoughby, 6th Baron Willoughby of Eresby.

Lady Alice was sister to Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick and 6th Earl of Salisbury [best known as “Warwick, the Kingmaker”] and other prominent noblemen and women. Her cousin, Sir George Neville, 1st Duke of Bedford was intended to marry Elizabeth of York [mother of King Henry VIII]; this obviously fell through due to his father and nephew’s [Warwick] rebellion against Edward IV. The Neville’s were already established at court being grandchildren of John of Gaunt’s legitimized daughter Lady Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland. Katherine was just about related to every noble and royal at court who came before or during her time; Edward IV and Richard III were first cousins (thrice removed of Katherine Parr). Their wives, Queen Anne Neville and Queen Elizabeth Woodville, were also a first cousins. [The Woodville connection comes from Katherine’s mother, Maud Green — Queen Elizabeth was a first cousin, thrice removed of Katherine]. This connection made her related to all of her husbands in one way or another.

Sir Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury and Lady Eleanor Holland

Princess Joan of Acre, eldest daughter of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile

Lady Alice Neville’s mother Lady Alice Montacute was suo jure 5th Countess of Salisbury being the only surviving child of Sir Thomas, 4th Earl of Salisbury and Lady Eleanor Holland [pictured above]. Salisbury married to Alice Chaucer. Salisbury descended from:

  • Princess Joan of Acre, eldest daughter of King Edward I and his first wife, Eleanor of Castile,
  • Henry I of England by his illegitimate sons Robert de Caen, 1st Earl of Gloucester [twice] and Reynold of Dunstanville, 1st Earl of Cornwall,
  • William the Lion, King of Scots by his illegitimate daughter Isabella, Lady Ros,
  • William the Conqueror by his illegitimate son William Peverell and legitimate daughter, Adela of Normandy.

Lord Salisbury’s siblings included Lady Anne who married thrice. By her marriage to Sir Richard Hankford they were ancestors to Anne Boleyn. After being widowed, she became Duchess of Exeter as wife to the 2nd Duke of Exeter (nephew of the 2nd Earl of Kent, ancestor to Queen Katherine Parr).

Lady Eleanor Holland descended from

Coat of arms of Prince Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent

  • Edward I of England by his son from his second marriage to Marguerite of France [daughter of Philip III of France and Maria of Brabant], Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent,
  • Henry III of England by his son Prince Edmund, 1st Earl of Lancaster [whose wife was Blanche of Artois, Queen of Navarre and mother to another of Queen Katherine’s ancestors, Jeanne I, Queen Regnant of Navarre]. Their son was Sir Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster who married Maud Chaworth [descendant of Louis VI of France],
  • John I of England twice by his illegitimate daughter Lady Joan, Lady of Wales,
  • Henry II of England by his legitimate daughter by Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile and by his illegitimate son William Longespee, 1st Earl of Salisbury,
  • Henry I of England twice by his illegitimate daughter Lady Maud of Normandy, Duchess of Brittany and twice by his illegitimate son, Robert de Caen, 1st Earl of Gloucester,
  • Duncan II of Scotland by his son the Earl of Moray
  • David I of Scotland, twice by his son Henry, Earl of Huntingdon,
  • Louis VI of France by his son Pierre of Courtenay,
  • Geoffrey Plantagenet twice by his son Sir Hamelin Warrenne, Earl of Surrey,
  • William, the Conqueror twice by his daughter Adela of Normandy and his illegitimate son William Peverell.
Coat of arms relating to those mentioned below who married or are in the Holland family.

Coat of arms relating to those mentioned below who are members of, descendants of, or married into the Holland family. L to R: Mortimer, 2nd Earl of Kent, 1st Duke of York, 3rd Earl of Cambridge, Duke of Clarence, 3rd Duke of Lancaster, 16th Earl of Warwick

Lady Salisbury’s siblings included:

  • Lord Thomas Holland, 1st Duke of Surrey, 3rd Earl of Kent.
  • Lord Edmund of Woodstock, 4th Earl of Kent who had a child by Lady Constance of York, daughter of Edmund of Langley, Duke of York (husband of his sister, Lady Joan). In 1403, there was a betrothal of Lord Edmund of Woodstock to Lady Constance of York; not apparent as to whether or not they actually married. [Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry]
  • Lady Elizabeth who married Sir John Neville; ancestors to the Earls of Westmorland (Neville was the heir to the 1st Earl and his first wife Lady Margaret Stafford. The Earl would later marry Lady Joan Beaufort — the two were ancestors to Queen Katherine Parr).
  • Lady Joan married to Edmund of Langley, Duke of York — no issue. Nevertheless she was styled Duchess of York.
  • Lady Alianore, Countess of March, wife to the 4th Earl of March — and through them the crown of Edward IV was claimed by their daughter, Lady Anne Mortimer, Countess of Cambridge (wife of Richard of York, 3rd Earl of Cambrige, brother to Lady Constance of York). The Countess would marry again to the 5th Baron of Powis, their grandson would marry the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Gloucester (son of King Henry IV), Lady Antigone.
  • Lady Margaret, Countess of Somerset and Duchess of Clarence married John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset (illegitimate son of John of Gaunt by Katherine Swynford) and by him they were ancestors to Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. Margaret would re-marry to Thomas of Lancaster, Duke of Clarence, grandson of John of Gaunt by his son King Henry IV.

Princess Joan of Kent and her son, King Richard II

Lady Salisbury’s [Lady Eleanor Holland] paternal grandmother was Princess Joan of Kent, suo jure 4th Countess of Kent and later Princess of Wales. Her story is one of interest. She married firstly to Sir Thomas Holland who became 1st Earl of Kent through her inheritance. By him she had Lady Salisbury’s father, Sir Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent. Her uncle was Sir John, 1st Duke of Exeter who married Lady Elizabeth of Lancaster, daughter of Prince John of Gaunt and his first wife, Blanche of Lancaster. They were parents to John Holland, 2nd Duke of Lancaster who married thrice; Lady Anne Stafford, Beatrice of Portugal, and Lady Anne Montacute. His second wife, Beatrice of Portugal was half-sister to Edward I of Portugal; John, Lord of Reguengos de Monsaraz; and Afonso, Duke of Braganza. Lord of Reguengos was a grandfather to Queen Isabella of Castile (mother of Queen Katherine of Aragon) while the Duke of Braganza was a great-grandfather.

Lady Salisbury’s paternal aunts were Lady Joan, Duchess of Brittany [wife to John V of Brittany] and Lady Maud, Countess of Ligny [wife to Waleran III of Luxembourg; their daughter Jeanne married Antoine de Valois, Duke of Brabant]. Joan of Kent’s third marriage was to Edward, Prince of Wales [eldest son and heir of King Edward III]; their son was King Richard II of England and thus granduncle to Lady Salisbury.

John Holland, Duke of Lancaster.

John Holland, 1st Duke of Lancaster.

Lady Salisbury’s maternal grandparents were Sir Richard “Copped Hat” FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel and Lady Eleanor of Lancaster, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Lancaster and his wife, Maud Chaworth. The Earl and Countess were parents to Lady Alice FitzAlan, Countess of Kent (wife to the 2nd Earl). By her mother, Lady Kent had half-siblings by Lady Arundel’s first marriage to Sir John Beaumont, 2nd Baron; Maud, the ancestress of the Courtenay Earls of Devon and Lord Henry (who were both half-siblings themselves to Sir William Devereux, father of Sir Walter, first husband to Agnes Crophull, later Lady Parr of Kendal as wife to Sir John Parr.) Lady Kent’s siblings included:

  • Lady Joan of Arundel, mother to the uncrowned Mary de Bohun, wife of Henry IV and mother to Henry V. Her other daughter became Duchess of Gloucester as wife to Lord Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, youngest son of King Edward III.
  • Sir Richard, 11th Earl of Arundel who’s daughter Margaret became Duchess of Norfolk; another daughter Joan became Lady Bergavenny, ancestress to Lords Bergavenny, Earls of Shrewsbury, and grandparents to the 7th Earl of Ormonde (ancestor of Queen Anne Boleyn).
  • Sir John, 1st Lord Arundel — ancestor to the later Earls of Arundel and Dukes of Norfolk. Lord Arundel’s great-grandson married Lady Joan Neville, sister of “Warwick, the Kingmaker” and Alice (great-grandmother to Queen Katherine Parr).

King Richard III and consort Lady Anne Neville were both cousins to Queen Katherine’s paternal grandmother

When the Duke of Gloucester became King in 1483, as Richard III, both Elizabeth and her mother Alice were appointed ladies-in-waiting to Alice’s niece, queen consort Lady Anne Neville. The profession would span five generations down to Katherine’s sister, Anne, who would serve all six of King Henry VIII’s wives. by Lady Parr (Golden Aged writer)

Katherine’s father, Sir Thomas Parr, was a close friend of King Henry VIII; Parr’s step-father, Sir Nicholas Vaux, had been educated in the household of Lady Margaret Beaufort, Henry’s grandmother, where Parr is also believed to have spent some time. Sir Thomas was present at court and was in the circle of Henry VIII which included Sir Thomas Boleyn. Both were knighted in 1509 at Henry’s coronation; Parr was also made a Knight of the Garter and appointed Sheriff of Northamptonshire on that occasion. Parr became Master of the Wards and Comptroller of the household of Henry VIII. Parr’s brother, William [later Baron Parr of Horton], was also a part of the King’s circle. They kept company with the Stafford’s and their cousins, the Neville’s. They were also friend’s with the Carew’s and Sir Thomas Boleyn, father Queen Anne Boleyn. In 1515, Parr was entrusted with escorting Queen Margaret of Scotland [the king’s elder sister] from Newcastle back to London.

The “lowly” marriage of Mary Boleyn to Sir William Stafford — unlike “The Tudors” insistence that he was a “nothing” — Stafford was actually the grandson of Sir John Fogge and Alice Haute (cousin to Queen Elizabeth Woodville). This connection made Stafford a cousin to Parr’s mother, Maud Green (her aunt was Stafford’s mother, Margaret).

Katherine’s brother, William, entered the household of Henry Fitzroy, the King’s illegitimate son, at the age of eleven. It was there that he met Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. They were educated together and Katherine’s uncle, Sir William, Baron Parr of Horton, was part of the head of the household for Fitzroy.

From Sir Thomas’ grandmother to his own daughter, Anne, were all ladies-in-waiting to the queens of England. His grandmother and mother both personally served under special appointment by Richard III’s consort herself, Lady Anne Neville. Anne was the niece of Parr’s grandmother, Lady Alice Neville. Katherine’s sister, Anne Parr [Herbert], was one of the few women to serve all six of Henry’s wives. Maud Parr nee Green, his wife, was good friend’s with Queen Katherine of Aragon and a lady-in-waiting to her. She was given private chambers next to the queen’s and Queen Katherine was supposedly Katherine Parr’s godmother. Lady Parr’s grandmother, Lady Alice Fogge (Haute) was a lady to Queen Elizabeth Woodville (see below).

If Sir Thomas had not died at such an early age he would have been given the title which his brother received or another barony. He was also co-heir to the FitzHugh barony; which is still in abayence between the descendants of his aunt Alice FitzHugh, Lady Fiennes and his daughter, Anne Parr, Countess of Pembroke.

Green Family

Katherine’s mother also descended from royal blood. Maud Green’s family had long served the crown.

Sir Henry Green (died 6 August 1369) was an English lawyer, and Chief Justice of the King’s Bench from 24 May 1361 to 29 October 1365. Early in his career he served both Queen Isabella (consort of Edward II) and Edward the Black Prince. He was made justice of the Court of Common Pleas in 1354, and knighted by King Edward III.

By her grandfather, Sir Thomas Greene of Greens Norton, Queen Katherine directly descended from King Fergus of Galloway and many nobles and Kings of England which included William the Conqueror, John of England, Henry I by three illegitimate children and Empress Matilda, Edward I, and Henry II of England by two legitimate children and one illegitimate. By both husbands of Isabella of Angoulême, Queen Consort of England;  from Welsh nobility like Nest Ferch, Princess of Wales, Llewelyn Ap ‘The Great’, Gwladys Dhu verch; Spanish royals such as Alfonso II of Aragon, Alfonso IX of Aragon; they also descended from French royalty Charles I, Henry I, Louis VII of France and Scottish royals such as David I, Maud of Huntingdon; and from Jean of Brienne, King of Jerusalem through her connections with the Ferrers of Groby, Talbot, Despencer, FitzAlan, De Clare, Earls of Ormonde, and other noble families.

By her mother, Joan Fogge, Lady Parr was a cousin to Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of Edward IV; descending from Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather, Sir Richard Woodville. When Elizabeth became queen to Edward IV, she brought her favorite female relatives to court to serve her. Lady Parr’s grandmother, Lady Alice Fogge (born Haute), was one of five ladies-in-waiting to her cousin Elizabeth Woodville in the 1460s.[4]

Relations to Husbands

Queen Katherine and Henry VIII’s closest relations: Third cousins (through Sir Richard Wydeville and Joan Bedlisgate); third cousins once removed (through Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland and Lady Joan Beaufort); and double fourth cousins once removed (through Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent and Lady Alice FitzAlan and John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Katherine Swynford). Queen Katherine also shared ancestors with her 4th husband, Thomas Seymour, but the closest one is Edward III and Philippa.


  1. Douglas Richardson. “Plantagenet Ancestry,” 2005.
  2. Douglas Richardson. “Magna Carta Ancestry,” 2nd Edition, 2011.
  3. David Starkey. “Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII,” HarperCollins, May 4, 2004. pg 690. Google eBook.
  4. Barbara J. Harris. “English Aristocratic Women, 1450-1550 : Marriage and Family, Property and Careers: Marriage and Family, Property and Careers,” Oxford University Press, Jul 26, 2002. pg 218.
  5. John Burke. “A general and heraldic dictionary of the peerages of England, Ireland, and Scotland, extinct, dormant, and in abeyance,” 1831.

Some of her ancestry can be viewed here:  

Tudors Wiki: Ancestry of Queen Catherine Parr

Thoroughly researched. One line still in question: Sir Roger, 4th Baron Strange of Knockyn’s wife, Maud, who has been theorized as the illegitimate daughter of Enguerrand VII de Coucy, 1st Earl of Bedford which would relate her back to ancestors like the Habsburgs; the Chatillions; the Wittlesbachs; Beatrice of England, Duchess of Brittany [daughter of Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence]; Matilda of England, Duchess of Saxony [daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine]; the Champagne and Jiminez Kings of Navarre;  and more.