My interest in the mystery of what happened to Mary Seymour (30 August 1548 – ?), the infant daughter of Katherine Parr, Dowager Queen, and her husband Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, was piqued by the discovery of Linda Porter of a poem that she made a case for proved that the child had died.
The child's life is well-documented until she is about two years old, then she vanishes without a trace. It is very strange that the death of a child of a dowager queen, who was also a first cousin to the king, should have gone uncommented.
The Mystery of Mary Seymour
Mary Seymour (30 August 1548 – c. 1550), born at her father’s country seat, Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, was the only daughter of Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, and Catherine Parr, widow of Henry VIII of England. Although Katherine was married four times, Mary was her only child. Complications from Mary's birth would claim the life of her mother on the 5th of September 1548, and her father was executed less than a year later for treason against Edward VI.
In 1549, the Parliament of England passed an Act (3 & 4 Edw. 6 C A P. XIV) removing the attainder placed on her father from Mary, but his lands remained property of the Crown.
As her mother's wealth was left entirely to her father and later confiscated by the Crown, Mary was left a destitute orphan in the care of Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, who appears to have resented this imposition. After 1550 Mary disappears from historical record completely, and no claim was ever made on her father's meagre estate, leading to the conclusion that she did not live past the age of two.
Victorian author Agnes Strickland claimed, in her biography of Katherine Parr, that Mary Seymour did survive to adulthood, and in fact married Sir Edward Bushel, a member of the household of Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I. Strickland's theory suggested that the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk, after her marriage to Richard Bertie in 1553, and before she fled England during the Marian Persecutions in or after 1555, she arranged Mary's marriage to Bushel. The problem with this theory is that Mary would have been aged six at the time.
Another theory states that Mary was removed to Wexford, Ireland, and raised under the care of a Protestant family there, the Harts, who had been engaged in piracy off the Irish coast under the protection of a profit sharing arrangement with Thomas Seymour. A lozenge-shaped ring inscribed "What I have I hold" was reputed to have been an early gift to Thomas by his brother Edward, and was passed down through generations of the Seymour-Harts until at least 1927.
There was reference to "Mary" found in old Elizabethan texts of 'The Late Queen's heir.' However, this could be various other women. Historian S. Joy states that "Mary definitely lived past the age of 10, but after that little is known."
A more modern theory, from Linda Porter, author of a 2010 biography on Katherine Parr, suggests that a 1573 Latin book of poems and epitaphs written by John Parkhurst, Katherine Parr’s chaplain, contains the following reference to Mary:
I whom at the cost
Of her own life
My queenly mother
Bore with the pangs of labour
Sleep under this marble
An unfit traveller.
If Death had given me to live longer
That virtue, that modesty, That obedience of my excellent Mother
That Heavenly courageous nature Would have lived again in me.
You are, fare thee well
Because I cannot speak any more, this stone
Is a memorial to my brief life
Porter suggested that this was an epitaph written by Parkhurst on the occasion of Mary's death, around the age of two. Porter further speculates that Mary is buried in Lincolnshire, near Grimsthorpe, the estate owned by the Duchess of Suffolk, "where she had lived as an unwelcome burden for most of her short, sad life."
Leaving aside piracy in Ireland for now, the two other theories caught my interest.
«There was reference to "Mary" found in old Elizabethan texts of 'The Late Queen's heir.' However, this could be various other women. Historian S. Joy states that "Mary definitely lived past the age of 10, but after that little is known."»
I could find no reference to "Mary" found in old Elizabethan texts of 'The Late Queen's heir.' Nor an historian S. Joy.
(If somebody else has, please leave a comment.)
That she married Sir Edward Bushel, however, ought to be possible to prove or disprove, and it surprised me very much that no historian had hereto tried it.
The objection that Mary would have been only six years old at the time is easily dismissed when you know that child marriages did in fact take that place in this period, particularly in these upper stratas of society, though the marriage could not be consummated until the bride was at least 12 years old and the groom at least 14.
While the truthfulness of Richard Davey has taken quite a hit in recent years, he writes well, so we first quote his take on the matter:
«As to the unfortunate Seymour’s infant child, we learn that after his death it was carried to Somerset’s house at Sion, whence, after a short time, it was conveyed to the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk, at Grimsthorpe, in Lincolnshire. She had been at one time the dearest friend of Katherine Parr. Here the child had a governess, Mrs. Aglyonby, and was also attended by a nurse, two maids, and many other servants, in accordance with her high rank. The Duke of Somerset had promised that a certain pension should be settled on his niece, and that her nursery plate and furniture, which had been brought up from Sudeley to Sion House, should be sent after her to Grimsthorpe. He pledged his word on this point to the Duchess of Somerset’s gentleman, Mr. Bertie, who subsequently married his mistress, the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk; but the promise was never redeemed. The Duchess herself did not show much maternal tenderness to the child of her quondam friend. In the second year of Edward VI she wrote a curious letter to Cecil, begging him to relieve her of the guardianship of the child of the late Queen. She says: “The late Queen’s child hath lain, and yet doth lay in my house with her company about her, wholly in my charge.” Then she accuses Somerset of not sending money for the child’s maintenance, and adds: “And that ye may better understand that I cry not before I am pricked, I send you Mistress Glensborough’s [the governess’s] letter unto me, who, with her maids, nourice, and others daily call upon me for their wages, whose voices mine ears may hardly bear, but my coffers much worse.” She declares she is ill, and hopes that the child will be removed at an early date. There is a very long list in the Lansdowne MSS of plate, hangings, and even musical instruments, belonging to this child, which the Lord Protector took and never restored. Cecil paid little attention to the Duchess’s application. In all probability he never answered her letter at all. At a later date she wrote to the Marquis of Northampton, the infant’s uncle, and begged him to receive her. He behaved even more heartlessly than the Duchess, declaring he would neither receive the child nor her attendants at his house. Thus Katherine Parr’s own brother and the Duchess of Somerset, her old friend, whose life she had actually saved on one occasion from the fury of Henry VIII, besides spending considerable sums out of her private means to publish the ungrateful woman’s devotional writings, actually refused food and shelter to her orphaned child. It is impossible now to fully trace the child’s eventful history. Strype asserts that she died young, but there is much reason to believe that she lived and married Sir Edward Bushel, a gentleman of family, who was in attendance upon Queen Anne of Denmark, the Consort of James I. His only daughter married Silas Johnson, and their daughter married into the Lawson family, an old Suffolk house, which until quite recently possessed a number of Tudor relics, which, their proprietors alleged and amply proved, originally belonged to their ancestress, the daughter of Katherine Parr and the Admiral Seymour, a baby doubtless often caressed by the gentle Jane Grey. At the close of the seventeenth century some hundreds of papers belonging to the Lawson family were unfortunately destroyed by a thoughtless widow. However, an existing copy of the family pedigree proves almost beyond doubt that the Lawson version of the fate of Seymour’s daughter was accurate in every detail. One thing is evident, that the infant suffered a good deal of neglect in her childhood, and that she was passed on from one unwilling relative to another, until at last some kindly soul took compassion on her desolate state, and brought about a match between her and Sir Edward Bushel.» The Nine Days’ Queen by Richard Davey
This information/theory did not originate with him in scholastic circles, however, but with Agnes Strickland.
«The statements with which I have been favoured by Johnson Lawson, Esq., of Grove Villa, Clevedon, and his brother, Henry Lawson, Esq., of Hereford, the sons of the late very reverend Johson Lawson, dean of Battle, in Sussex, vicar of Throwley, and rector of Cranbrook, in Kent, affords, at any rate, presumptive evidence that they derive their descent from this lady. The authentic records of this fact appear to have been destroyed, among a mass of interesting genealogical papers that were in the possession of a clergyman of the Lawson family, and on his death were consigned to the flames by his widow, "as she had no children to give them to," she said. One precious MS. fragment of the pedigree had, however, fortunately escaped the notice of this destructive dame, who would certainly have been branded by Anthony à Wood with the "epithet of a clownish woman," and it contains a family record of the marriage and posterity of the daughter of Katharine Parr.
Copy of a MS. Fragment, entitled, "A good account of my pedigree given me by my grandmother, July 26th, 1749."
"Paul Johnson, a gentleman of good family and estate, residing at his mansion at Fordwich, in the county of Kent, also, having another named Nethercourt, in the Isle of Thanet, married Margaret Heyman, (of the Baronet's family of Kent and Norfolk.)
"Their son, Sylas Johnson, married the daughter of sir Edward Bushel1, who had married the only daughter of the Duke of Somerset's younger brother, lord Seymour, which daughter the lord Seymour had by queen Katharine Parr, whom he married after the death of Harry the Eighth, whose queen she was. The above sir Edward Bushel's daughter was a great fortune to Silas Johnson ; and their daughter, Mary Johnson, married the Rev. Francis Drayton, of little Chart, in Kent, where he and his wife lie buried."» Lives of the Queens of England: From the Norman Conquest (1847) by Agnes Strickland
And that was all she wrote. And by her, I mean Johnson Lawson's grandmother. The rest is speculation:
«"- From that marriage, the records of the pedigree down to Lawson, are very clear and certain, and need not lengthen this statement."
"Whether from any records, or knowledge, or tradition, the old grandmother declared the marriage of Katharine's daughter to sir Edward Bushel, it is impossible now to say in 1841 ; but it seems that Silas Johnson, by his marriage with their daughter, Mary Bushel, obtained a great fortune, together with some relics of Katharine Parr's personal property, which have continued in the Lawson family, their descendants, ever since. They are thus described by Johnson Lawson Esq., in whose possession they are at present: -
"A fine damask napkin, which evidently was made for, and brought from Spain by Katherine of Aragon, the first queen of Henry VIII. The beautiful pattern therein exhibits the spread eagle, with the mott, 'Plus Oultre,' four times ; and on the dress of four men blowing trumpets, attired in the Spanish garb as matadors, are the letters K.I.P, (probably Katharine Infanta Princess). And this napkin, in the palace of Henry VIII., must have passed through the hands of six queens! down to Katharine Parr. The second relic is the royal arms of the king Henry, engraved on copper in cameo, which were set in the centre of a large pewter dish – the table service in those times was usually pewter."» Lives of the Queens of England: From the Norman Conquest (1847) by Agnes Strickland
One of the footnotes also contain some interesting information about Sir Edward Bushel himself:
My first order of business would be to establish the connection between the Johnson-Draytons and Henry Lawson. This to begin to see if there was any hold to any of this.
Now, the records of the pedigree down to Lawson may have been very clear and certain in 1841, but such they were by no means in 2017.
Henry Lawson (1774–1855) is a historical figure in his own right. He is famous for his endeavours in the field of astronomy. So his date of birth and death as well as details of his parents are readily available. Henry Lawson was the second son of Johnson Lawson, dean of Battle, Sussex, and Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Wright of Bath, Somerset, he was born at Greenwich on the 23rd of March 1774. A relative having left him a fortune, he moved to Bath in 1841, where he mounted his instruments on the roof of his house at No. 7 Lansdown Crescent. He died on the 22nd of August 1855, and was buried at Weston.
The last of his line of the family, Lawson bequeathed to Agnes Strickland relics of his supposed ancestress Katherine Parr. His large fortune was divided by will among 139 persons.
Now, this was a promising beginning. I had both parents, the maiden name of the mother, and even the name of one grandparent. And the residence of this grandparent.
As luck would have it, Henry Lawson's father Johnson Lawson attended Cambridge, and much scholarship has been devoted to the alumni of that fine institution.
Little did I know that my luck was about to run out.
I found the baptismal record of Johnson Lawson easily enough. He was baptised on the 27th of September 1719 at St. Mary Bredman Church in Canterbury, Kent, England. The son of John Lawson & his wife Mary.
And that is where all traces of the Lawsons stopped.
Now, in order to find a marriage between two historical people where most of the details are unknown, a good way to go about it is to find all the children of said marriage and then searching for a marriage immediately predating the first child born to the couple.
Here I was searching for a marriage between John Lawson & Mary. Sadly I could find nothing conclusive. I could find nothing immediately predating the birth of their first child. The nearest I could find in time was nearly 10 years prior, and right before that there were several other marriages between John Lawsons and Mary's in Canterbury, none of them standing out.
Despondently, I tentatively put down the one closest in time, the one of a John Lawson and a "Marie Naeme", and moved on.
Nor was I able to single out one of the many John Lawsons baptised at Canterbury as the one I was looking for.
Having encountered such a brickwall so early on, and so unexpectedly after such a promising beginning, I turned instead to the supposed heirlooms left by Henry Lawson to Agnes Strickland.
Perhaps there was some clue there?
«Agnes Strickland suffered much this June with severe affection of the nerves of the face, which she did not lose entirely till after her visit to Bath, at the hospitable mansion of her friends Mr and Mrs Lawson her host, the great amateur astronomer, being the same gentleman who became such a liberal benefactor to the observatory at Bath. Mr Lawson claimed a descent from that daughter of Katherine Parr who was said to have died in childhood, 2 and considered Agnes Strickland as his kinswoman, and always treated her as such. She was much interested in his observatory, and acquired from him a smattering of astronomy ; and he was only too happy to afford her information on that wonderful and abstruse science. Unlike most scientific persons, Mr Lawson could bring himself down to the capacity or limited knowledge of those with whom he conversed upon the lofty subject that engrossed his mind a rare talent not common with learned men.
Agnes Strickland received the following letter from her old friend Mr Lawson, which filled her with some apprehension for his health, he being then at an advanced period of life :
" MY DEAR Miss AGNES, I much wish to put you in pos- session of the relics of our progenitor Queen Katherine, and will have them packed up and sent to you. Do me, therefore, the honour of accepting them, and please to say where the packing-case shall be addressed to.
" I am sorry to say I am suffering from a severe fit of indigestion, and know not when I may again move out.
" I thank you and your sister for your two last kind letters, and would answer them with, my own pen ; but as you see, I am obliged to employ another to do that office for me.
" With the halo of friendship to your whole family, I re- main, my dear Miss Agnes, your friend and connection,
Mr Lawson was anxious to put Agnes Strickland without delay in possession of his bequests some curious relics derived from his presumed ancestress, Katherine Parr's daughter, by Lord Thomas Seymour.
" Dear old Mr Lawson," writes Agnes to Mrs Gwillym, " has sent me the relics of Queen Katherine Parr, car- riage paid, to Reydon. They comprise a portrait of Henry VIII., in a black-and-gold frame ; a miniature half-length portrait in water-colours of Edward VI., by Holbein, most delicately and beautifully delineated ; a large print of Dawson Turner's Katherine Parr ; the royal arms in bronze, which are not those of Katherine Parr, but are certainly those of Mary Tudor, Queen-Dowager of France for the fleur-de-lis are in the first quarter of the shield, surmounted by the crown of France. Most likely the treen dish, 1 to a portion of which the arms were attached, was given to the Lady Mary Seymour by Katharine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk. There is also a facsimile engraving of Katherine Parr's coffin, containing the body in the state in which it was found; a napkin belonging to Catharine of Ar- ragon, and a facsimile of it engraved on tinted paper.
If one is to read between the lines here, one can perhaps detect that Agnes Strickland either did not have the greatest faith that these were in fact heirlooms from Katherine Parr.
That was hardly a promising beginning.
Despondently, I turned instead in the other direction of the family tree, the ancestors mentioned in the grandmother's MS.
Much to my surprise I found immediate evidence that at least three of these people were actual historical people.
I found a Canterbury marriage licence dated 19th of December 1633. Of Francis Drayton of Canterbury, clerk, of about 28 years of age & Mary Johnson of about 25 years of age, daughter of the late Silas Johnson, Gentleman.
So … Thus far, to put in learned historian's terms, the grandmother had been right on the money.
Silas Johnson himself represented no great mystery either. Sylas Johnson was baptised on the 31st of August 1566 at Saint Laurence, Thanet in Kent, England. And sure enough, his father is given as Paule Johnson.
I also found that a Silas Johnson, gentleman, had been buried on the 23rd of October 1633 at St. Mary Bredin, Canterbury, Kent, England. This concurred with information given in in the marriage licence of his daughter.
Unfortunately, there my luck stopped. I could not find a marriage between Silas Johnson and a Mary Bushell, or indeed anyone else, however much I searched.
This was of course both good and bad luck at the same time, as if I had found a record of a marriage between Silas Johnson and Mary Bushell that would have been very good luck indeed, and if I had found a record of a marriage between Silas Johnson and somebody else that would have weakened my theory.
Nor could I find a record of Mary Johnson's christening, but this was of less importance, since we had the fact that she is indeed Silas Johnson's daughter and an age given as 25 in 1633, meaning that she was born about 1608.
I did however find several other baptismal records belonging to the children of Silas Johnson:
Silas Johnson, Gentleman, bap. 31st of August 1566 at St. Laurence-in-Thanet, Kent, England, matriculated at Cambridge at Easter in 1584, bur. 23rd of October 1633 at St. Mary Bredin, Canterbury in Kent, England
Mary Johnson, born ca. 1608
Katherine Johnson, bap. 24th of March 1609 at St. Mary Bredin, Canterbury in Kent, England
Corbett Johnson, bap. 15th of October 1612 at St. Mary Bredin, Canterbury in Kent, England
Silas Johnson, bap. 16th of October 1614 at St. Mary Bredin, Canterbury in Kent, England
Anthony Johnson, bap. 1st of April 1617 at St. Mary Bredin, Canterbury in Kent, England
Richard Johnson, bap. 20th of December 1618 at St. Mary Bredin, Canterbury in Kent, England, bur. 25th of August 1622 at St. Mary Bredin, Canterbury in Kent, England
It soon become clear to me that whoever Silas Johnson had been he must have been Somebody. I could find no fewer than three references from three different sources (at least two of them primary) to Mary being his daughter.
One was the Canterbury marriage licence.
The family's patronage of Cambridge must have lasted for some time, because I found also Silas Johnson among its illustrious alumni.
If Silas Johnson was the «Shirus Johnson» who Vicar of Stonesby in Leicestershire in 1589, mentioned in his entry of the Canterbury alumnies, he was still Vicar of Stonesby as of the 22nd of July 1595, when a «Mr Johnson, vicar of Stonesby» is mentioned in a letter. Lincs to the Past
Perhaps even more helpful, Silas Johnson's son-in-law, the husband of Mary, Francis Drayton, alsoattended Cambridge.
Francis Drayton – Alumni Cantabrigienses
As did two of Francis Drayton and Mary's sons, as well as what must be a later descendant:
Basil Drayton, Francis Drayton and Silas Drayton – Alumni Cantabrigienses
Poem found in a 1573 Latin book of poems and epitaphs written by John Parkhurst, Katherine Parr’s chaplain, and one of the two witnesses of her unsigned will:
I whom at the cost
Of her own life
My queenly mother
Bore with the pangs of labour
Sleep under this marble
An unfit traveller.
If Death had given me to live longer
That virtue, that modesty, That obedience of my excellent Mother
That Heavenly courageous nature
Would have lived again in me.
You are, fare thee well
Because I cannot speak any more, this stone
Is a memorial to my brief life
At first glance it seems quite obvious that it must describe poor little Mary Seymour. But, if one were to play devil's advocate, who else could it fit? The last Queen of England to have died in childbirth before Katherine Parr, was Jane Seymour. And Jane Seymour's only child, King Edward VI, Katherine Parr's own step-child, had passed away by 1573. However, "That virtue, that modesty, That obedience of my excellent Mother," were hardly virtues associated with a king or qualities that were encouraged in a king.
The last Queen of England to have died in childbed before that, however, was Elizabeth of York. The wife of Henry VII Tudor, and the mother of Henry VIII. We are told that in 1543, when Henry VIII and Queen Katherine Parr visited Oxford, Parkhurst wrote Latin verses in their honour. And that it was after this that he became chaplain to the queen. Might he not have written a verse at some point that flattered the mother of his sovereign? In addition, the name of this last baby was Katherine, she shared a Christian name with queen Katherine Parr. Did Parkhurst perhaps also want to imply that his current queen also embodied all of these qualities? And flatter her by drawing attention to the fact that hers was a royal name, long in use in Henry's family? (Of course there were other women associated with Henry VIII named Katherine, but he could hardly mention any of those.) This might also have explained the mysterious phrase "unfit traveller". Katherine Tudor was premature. She was born too soon, as evidenced by the fact that her mother did not have the time to undergo certain rites that were considered essential, and the fact that Henry VII ordered extra pillows "for our dearest daughter Katherine" so that the newborn would not be cold. Another interesting detail is that in 1543 it was precisely 40 years since the death of Queen Elizabeth of York (11th of February 1466 – 11th of February 1503) and the birth and death of Katherine Tudor (2nd of February 1503 – 10th of February 1503).
Sir George Throckmorton of Coughton Court (bef. 1489 – 6 August 1552)
Throckmorton died on 12 August 1552 and was buried in the stately marble tomb which he had prepared for himself in Coughton church. The most impressive monument which he left, however, was the gatehouse of Coughton court. Throckmorton spent most of his life rebuilding the house: in 1535 he wrote to Cromwell that he and his wife had lived in Buckinghamshire for most of the year, ‘for great part of my house here is taken down’. In 1549, when he was planning the windows in the great hall, he asked his son Nicholas to obtain from the heralds the correct tricking of the arms of his ancestors’ wives and his niece by marriage Queen Catherine Parr. The costly recusancy of Robert Throckmorton and his heirs kept down later rebuilding, so that much of the house still stands largely as he left it.
In 1512 Throckmorton married Katherine Vaux, the eldest daughter of Nicholas Vaux, 1st Baron Vaux of Harrowden and Elizabeth FitzHugh, by whom he had eight sons and nine daughters. Through Katherine's mother's first marriage to William Parr, 1st Baron Parr of Kendal, Katherine's maternal half-siblings were Sir Thomas Parr, father of Queen consort Catherine Parr; William Parr, 1st Baron Parr of Horton; John Parr, esquire; and Anne Parr, Lady Cheney.
Nicholas Vaux, 1st Baron Vaux of Harrowden (c. 1460 – 14 May 1523)
Vaux married firstly Elizabeth FitzHugh, widow of Sir William Parr of Kendal, daughter of Sir Henry, 5th Baron FitzHugh of Ravensworth, and Lady Alice Neville. The wedding took place most likely after Richard III was defeated by Henry Tudor (later King Henry VII). The marriage was most likely to secure the allegiance of Elizabeth and her family to the Tudor dynasty. Elizabeth's mother was a niece of Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, so the new queen consort Elizabeth of York was a blood relation. By Elizabeth, Vaux had three daughters; Katherine, Alice, and Anne. Elizabeth died on 29 January 1508.
Shortly after the death of his first wife, Lord Vaux married, secondly, Anne Green, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Thomas Green of Boughton and Green's Norton, Northamptonshire, and Jane Fogge, by whom he had two sons and three daughters. Anne was the sister of Maud Green, mother of Henry VIII's sixth wife, Catherine Parr. On 4 September 1514, Anne accompanied her husband on his journey to bring the King's sister, Princess Mary, to her wedding to Louis XII of France in Abbeville, France. Both were present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520 where they attended upon the King and Queen. The two were joined by Sir Thomas Parr, his wife Maud Green, and Thomas's brother, Sir William Parr of Horton. Anne predeceased Lord Vaux.
From Kate Emerson's excellent Who's Who of Tudor Women:
JOAN or JANE VAUX (c.1463-September 4, 1538) Joan Vaux, better known as “Mother Guildford,” was the daughter of Sir William Vaux (d. May 4, 1471) and Katherine Penyson (1440-1509+). She was a protégée of Margaret Beaufort, countess of Richmond (Henry VII’s mother) and in 1489 married Sir Richard Guildford (1455-September 6, 1506) as his second wife. Both the king and queen attended the wedding. Joan was in the household of Elizabeth of York and by 1499 had become “lady governess” to Margaret and Mary Tudor. She met the great scholar and philosopher Erasmus when he visited the royal children and apparently impressed him during the two conversations she had with him. In 1519, he referred to Joan in a letter to her son, Henry Guildford, as “the noble lady your Mother” and wished her happiness and prosperity. Joan was again in Elizabeth of York’s service when Catherine of Aragon married Prince Arthur in 1501. Many years later, when Henry VIII was attempting to divorce Catherine, Joan gave a deposition concerning whether or not Catherine’s marriage to Arthur had been consummated. She reported that they had spent their wedding night together in the same bed, from her personal knowledge, and that she had heard from Queen Elizabeth herself that Arthur and Catherine “lay together in bed as man and wife all alone five or six nights after the said marriage.” Joan’s husband, in a move most unusual at that time, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When he died there, he was deeply in debt. The previous year he had lost his post as controller of the king’s household due to poor management of money and had spent six months in the Fleet before being released by the king’s order. He was pardoned just before he left England. As his widow, Joan was again one of Margaret Beaufort’s ladies in 1509. By 1510 she had retired and was living on a small pension in a house in Blackfriars. That same year she inherited a life interest in second house, this one in Southwark, “with my lease, which I have of my Lord of Winchester,” along with lands in Norfolk and Suffolk, from Sir Thomas Brandon. The latter were “for life, she to pay my nephew, William Sidney, twenty marks a year.” Joan leased the Southwark house back to Brandon’s principal heir, Charles Brandon. Lady Guildford was called out of retirement to travel to France with Mary Tudor in 1514. Her dismissal by King Louis, along with most of Mary’s English attendants, on the day after the French wedding ceremony, caused a furor. In particular, Mary objected to sending her “Mother Guildford” away. On October 12, in a letter to Cardinal Wolsey, Mary wrote “I have not yet seen in France any lady or gentleman so necessary for me as she is.” Upon Lady Guildford’s return to England, she resumed her retirement. In 1515, she was granted two pensions by the king totaling £60 per annum. In 1519, she was granted for life an annual gift of a tun of duty-free Gascon wine. She also received several New Year’s gifts from the king, including a garter with a gold buckle and pendant in 1531/2. She may have returned to court as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine. Before February 20, 1522, she married Anthony Poyntz (c.1480-December 1532). After his death, Joan spent some of her time at the house of the black friars called Gaunts in Bristol (some sources call this the Hospital of St. Mark). A proposed injunction forbidding women to come within the precincts led to a letter from Lady Guildford to Lord Cromwell, written from Hill on September 6, 1535. Gaunts, she wrote, was where she had “a lodging most meetest, as I have chosen, for a poor window to serve God now in my old days.” She asked for an exception to be made to the new rules for herself and her women. The reply is missing, but in 1536 the Hospital of St. Mark was suppressed. Joan’s primary lodgings continued to be in Blackfriars. On September 9, 1538 and she was one of the last people to be buried in the convent of the Blackfriars. Joan’s only child was Sir Henry Guildford (1489-1532) but in her will, dated August 30 and proved September 18, 1538, she left bequests to a cousin (Sir William Penison), a niece (Bridget Walsh), her nephew (the Lord Vaux—she left him her book of French and her “hanging of tapestry that has his arms”), and her fool (Maud). Her ready money, plate, and jewels were valued at 12,000 marks.
KATHERINE VAUX (c.1489-1571) Katherine Vaux was the daughter of Nicholas, 1st baron Vaux of Harrowden (c.1460-May 14, 1523) and Elizabeth FitzHugh. She married Sir George Throckmorton of Coughton, Warwickshire (d. August 6, 1552). Their nineteen children included Robert (c.1510-February 12, 1581), Kenelm (c.1512-c1587), Nicholas (1515/16-1571), Clement (c.1516-1573), John (d. May 22, 1580), Elizabeth, Anthony, Mary, Anne (c.1532-December 21, 1553), George, Catherine, Margaret, and several others who died young. The couple spent years rebuilding their house at Coughton. In 1535, Sir George wrote to Thomas Cromwell that he and his wife had lived in Buckinghamshire for most of that year because “the great part” of Coughton was “taken down.” A devout Catholic, Katherine ruled over the household at Coughtonlong after her eldest son succeeded to the property. Portraits: date unknown (formerly called Katherine Vaux but now National Trust names her an unknown lady); brass in Coughton church showing her with her eight sons and eleven daughters.
ANNE THROCKMORTON (1540-December 16, 1603) Anne Throckmorton was the daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Weston Underwood, Buckinghamshire (1510-February 12, 1581) and Muriel Berkeley (d.1542) She was raised by her stepmother, Elizabeth Hussey, who bore Anne’s father several children, including another daughter named Anne (d.1605+). The Anne Throckmorton of this entry married Ralph Sheldon of Beoley, Worcestershire (1537-1613), her third cousin. Their children were William, Elizabeth (c.1553-October 23, 1622), Philippa, Anne, Edward (1561-1643), Mary, Muriel, Jane, Margaret, Catherine, and Frances. The family remained Catholic in Elizabeth Tudor’s England and built the Sheldon chapel in St. Leonard’s church at Beoley for private worship. Portrait: tomb effigy at Beoley.
MARY THROCKMORTON (c.1542-1603) Mary Throckmorton was the daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton, Warwickshire (1510-February 12, 1581) and Muriel Berkeley (d.1542) She was raised by her stepmother, Elizabeth Hussey. She married Edward Arden of Park Hall, Warwickshire (1533-x. December 20, 1583), by whom she had Margaret (d.1583+), Catherine (d. November 20, 1627) and Robert (d. February 27, 1635). The family clung to the Catholic faith during the reign of Elizabeth Tudor. Mary’s daughter Margaret married John Somerville, another recusant. According to his entry in the Oxford DNB, Somerville was ill in bed at his father-in-law’s house on October 24, 1583. The next day, perhaps feverish, he got up and started for London, swearing that he would shoot the queen with a pistol. He was quickly arrested and so were Mary and Edward Arden and their priest. They were charged with treason and taken to the Tower of London. On December 16, 1583, the Ardens, Somerville, and the priest were condemned to death. Arden bribed a servant in the Tower to allow him to have a last meal with Mary that evening. By the 19th, he and Somerville had been moved to Newgate and on December 20, Arden was executed at Smithfield. Afterward, Mary was released. In September 1592, she was presented as a recusant from the parish of Coughton, together with her servant, John Browne. In 1593, Coughton was searched and Mary imprisoned and examined. She may have remarried.
MERIAL THROCKMORTON (d.1615) Merial or Murial Throckmorton was the daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton, Warwickshire (1510-February 12, 1581) and Murial Berkeley (d.1542). In 1566 she married her father’s ward, Thomas Tresham of Rushton Hall (1543/4-September 11, 1605), who had succeeded his grandfather to a very large fortune in 1559. They had eleven children, three of whom died young, including Francis (1567-December 23, 1605), Thomas (d.1574), Lewis (1578-1639), William (d.1639), Frances, Elizabeth (1573-1648), Catherine (1576-1623), Mary (d.1664), Anne (d.1629), and Bridget. The Treshams were recusants and Thomas was more than once imprisoned for his faith. In April 1582, he was released from the Fleet after twenty months of close confinement and put under house arrest in a house in the parish of Hoxton, just outside London. It was located right next to a more comfortable house that Tresham himself owned. He entered into a bond of £2000 not to go out of the house that was his prison, but his wife could visit him there. During at least part of this time, Lady Thresham lived in Tuthill Street in Westminster. On August 27, 1584, the authorities raided Sir Thomas’s house in Hoxton. Present at the time were Tresham, his wife, his daughters Frances, Catherine, and Elizabeth, his son Lewis, his niece Merill (Muriel/Merial) Vaux, and a number of servants. Many more details are given in Godfrey Anstruther’s Vaux of Harrowden but in essence the persecution continued. Tresham was still confined to Hoxton when, on March 21, 1590, Merial wrote to Lord Burghley asking that he might be moved to Banbury, nearer to Rushton, for his health.
MERILL VAUX (January 28, 1570-1598+) Merill (Muriel/Merial) Vaux was the daughter of William Vaux, 3rd baron Vaux of Harrowden (August 14, 1535-August 20, 1595) and his second wife, Mary Tresham(c.1542- December 29, 1597). She was probably brought up by her uncle, Thomas Tresham, at Hoxton, while her father was imprisoned for recusancy. She was there at the time of a raid on August 27, 1584, when pursuivants confiscated Catholic books and images. In around 1590, Tresham was negotiating a match for her with a Mr. Lovell but it came to nothing. Tresham, thought his niece “worthy the saluting” in 1593, the same year in which Lady Tresham wrote to Merill (on May 8) to warn her to obey the new law that forbade recusants to travel more than five miles from their homes without a license. In September 1597 she scandalized the family by marrying Tresham’s servant, George Fulshurst, described by Tresham afterward as “a land-lopper, a very beggar and bankroot base fellow.” To obtain her dowry of £1,700, which Tresham controlled, Merill and her new husband had to take him to court. Tresham ended up in Fleet Prison over the issue. He blamed this “so wicked mismatching herself” for the death soon after of Lady Vaux.
ELIZABETH THROCKMORTON (d. January 13, 1547) Elizabeth Throckmorton was the daughter of Sir Thomas Throckmorton of Coughton, Warwickshire (1412-July 13, 1472) and Margaret Olney (1426-1460). She became a nun in the Order of Minoresses and by 1512 was abbess of the house of Poor Clares at Denny, near Cambridge, where she supervised twenty-five nuns. Erasmus may have visited there in 1513. He definitely exchanged letters with the community in 1525. In 1528, Elizabeth asked wealthy London merchant, Humphrey Monmouth, for a copy of William Tyndale’s translation of Erasmus’s Enchiridion, which called for reform in the church. In 1536, Elizabeth petitioned for the continuation of the abbey but it was dissolved by 1539. At that time, she returned to Coughton, now the property of her nephew, George Throckmorton (d. August 6, 1552), bringing with her two or three of her nuns. They lived in an upper room, wearing their habits and following the rules of their order. Elizabeth and two of the nuns, possibly her nieces, Margaret and Joyce Throckmorton, daughters of Sir Robert, are buried together at Coughton. Another nun, Joanna Peyto, granddaughter of Elizabeth’s sister Goditha, may also have lived with Elizabeth at Coughton Court. Elizabeth made her will in 1543, from which we learn that she had a servant, Katheryn Tanner.