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Monday, 19 February 2007

Katherine Parr's child

This is a revised copy of an entry recently made in my LiveJournal blog.

Katherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII, failed to have a child by him. After his death she soon married Admiral Thomas Seymour and they had a daughter Mary on August 30 1548, but Katherine died in childbirth. Less than a year later Thomas Seymour was executed. Someone named CAWARDEN from Northumberland took the child back with him, raised her and married her off to a squire. Then she was forgotten, although both Mary and Elizabeth paid her an allowance till 1603 when records ceased.

The last two sentences are taken from a letter received in 2004 from Peg Mowat of Canada, a descendant of the Cardens of Brighton. I have not been able to find the source of Peg's information, nor any trace a Northumberland Cawarden.

At this time Thomas Cawarden of Bletchingly, knighted in 1545, was "Master of the King's Tents" and responsible for all festivals at court. He often used the name Carden, and was probably related to the Cawardens of Staffordshire. Perhaps it was he who arranged for someone to look after the child. Or perhaps it was Richard Carden, Dean of Chichester and chaplain to Henry VIII.

Andrew Millard kindly replied to the above blog, and as a result I have obtained from my local library a copy of Oxford, son of Queen Elizabeth I by Paul Streitz, published in USA 2001, ISBN 0-9713498-0-0. This amazing book (see the review at is mostly devoted to claiming, rather plausibly, that the 17th Earl of Oxford was not only a son of Queen Elizabeth but used the pen name William Shake-speare and was responsible, rather than the "man from Stratford" for all the Shakespeare plays, sonnets and more.

Regarding the child of Katherine Parr, he says:

The existence of a second daughter for John de Vere [16th Earl of Oxford] first appeared in a will written by John de Vere in July 1562. This daughter's name, not unexpectedly, is "Mary." By any reasonable standards, this girl would be the missing Mary Seymour, daughter of Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour. The inference is that William Cecil placed Mary Seymour in the household of John de Vere, as he had placed Oxford, child of Elizabeth. . . .

Streitz does not mention Carden or Cawarden, nor does he mention the allowance paid to the child until 1603.


Arthur Carden said...

Paul Streitz will be exhibiting at the London Book Fair in April 2007 and in correspondence with me about that has added: "I think that Mary Seymour (Mary Vere) ended up marrying Peregrine Bertie? Or something like that."

Arthur Carden said...

In an earlier email dated 30 January 2007 Paul Streitz said: There is correspondence between William Cecil and some duchess about the expense of the child.

Arthur Carden said...

The following (extracted from a long article) is to be found in Wikipedia under Peregrine Bertie:

Catherine Willoughby, 12th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby and Duchess of Suffolk (22 March 1519 - 19 September 1580) . . . subsequently married Richard Bertie, a member of her household, for love, but she continued to be known as the Duchess of Suffolk, and her efforts to have her husband named Lord Willoughby were unsuccessful. Noted for her wit, sharp tongue, and devotion to learning, she became a close friend of Henry VIII's last queen, Catherine Parr, influencing the queen's Protestant beliefs and helping fund the publication of one of her books, The Lamentation of a Sinner. Upon Catherine Parr's death in childbirth, the Duchess of Suffolk took custody of her child, Mary Seymour. She was, however, not equipped to dealing with a young child and wrote to her good friend William Cecil, telling him she did not have enough to support the royal child and the staff that she required. It is a mystery, still today, as to how the little Mary Seymour dissappeared beneath the eyes of the entire country. Some historians say she died, whilst some have found evidence linking the baby girl towards a family that claimed inheritance in the 17th century.

By Richard Bertie, Catherine was the mother of Peregrine Bertie, who married a sister of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, and of Susan Bertie, who married 1st Reginald Grey, Earl of Kent, and 2nd Sir John Wingfield, a nephew of Catherine's friend Bess of Hardwick. Advocates of Oxford as the real author of Shakespeare's plays have suggested that Catherine's strong personality may have served as a model for Paulina in The Winter's Tale.

Arthur Carden said...

The following is also to be found in Wikipedia:

Lady Mary Seymour-Chatsworth
Lady Mary Chatsworth (formerly Stokes, nee Seymour) was born at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire on August 30th 1548. She was the daughter of Queen Catherine Parr (Widow of King Henry VIII) and Baron Seymour of Sudeley (brother of Queen Jane Seymour). As a child, she was brought up in the household of the Duchess of Suffolk who ran what would nowadays be properly referred to as an orphanage. The Duchess was very neglectful of the young girl and was not a mother-like figure that young Mary longed for. However with the execution of her father (when she was one years old) and the death of her mother at such a young age, Mary had little option but to remain in the comfortable if not idealistic life she would have preferred. This comfortable life however was not to last when a power struggle insured that the Duke of Suffolk came close to destroying his entire fortune with intentions to elevate his daughter Lady Jane Grey to the position of Queen. However successful these designs seemed to be, Queen Jane was forced out of office after a mere 9 days reign and Mary’s close acquaintance was now in serious danger and facing charges of high treason. In the heat of this power game, the Suffolks had no further need to entertain the likes of Baron Seymour’s daughter and tried to offload her onto trusted and entrusted acquaintances. However, when these plights failed young Mary was kept in the household of the Duchess until the power game was over. When Lady Jane Grey, the Duke of Suffolk and Lady Jane Grey’s husband were all executed, the Duchess turned to young Mary as a means of comfort, bringing her up as her own. The Duchess and her daughters were pardoned and were granted leave to return to court. The Duchess and her daughters were often seen next to the Queen on state occasions, and Lady Mary Seymour was being raised in the confines of the court. During this time Lady Mary learned the importance of marriages of convenience and strived to achieve that which the Duchess found appropriate. She came to look at the Duchess rather like a mother and the Duchess revealed more and more information about her real and mother and father as she got older. At court, she learned to weave, dance and be dutiful and obedient. She served as a Lady and waiting to the Queen from the early age of fourteen and through her royal connections was offered in matrimony to Sir Thomas Stokes (A great-nephew of the Duchess of Suffolk). However, Sir Thomas Stokes was initially unhappy about the negotiations but with the intervention of the Duchess and with a great deal to gain from the match politically, he asked for young Mary’s hand in marriage for when she reached a suitable age,

Despite the fact that the negotiations were halted due to the death of Queen Mary in 1558 and the Duchess of Suffolk in 1559, the marriage negotiations went ahead and Sir Thomas and young Mary were married in 1565. However, the marriage was an unhappy one as it became apparent that the new Queen Elizabeth did not look favorably upon Lady Mary who was considered no better than a traitor for her relationship with the Duchess of Suffolk who had been an assistant in the elevation of Lady Jane Grey to power. However, the new Queen acknowledged that the late Queen had shown them pardon and therefore she would do the same but she never looked favorably upon young Mary nor any of those who had been connected to the Brandon’s and the Grey’s. Sir Thomas was known for his string of affairs and was once confronted by Lady Mary who was subsequently found tumbling down a winding staircase. Sir Thomas mysteriously disappeared in 1567 (two years after the marriage had taken place) and was found a few weeks later in a cornfield, having been stabbed. Popular theories include that while entertaining one of his many mistresses he was stabbed for not paying for services acquired (in other words he was entertaining prostitutes, and was not the well desired gentleman of legend). Following the death of her husband, she entered a courtship with a mere stable hand that was rumored to have assisted her when she was unwell and neglected by her husband. The union was a happy one and they subsequently married in June 1568. In 1569, Mark Chatsworth and Lady Mary gave birth to a daughter Arabella Chatsworth. In 1571, Lady Mary gave birth to a boy, Jack Chatsworth. Lady Mary’s sudden decline in rank during her marriage to a stable hand made for some undesirable living conditions. All revenue that was acquired by Lady Mary from her previous husband was now being used to pay off huge living debts and by 1577, t he Chatsworths were living in abject poverty in Southampton with Lady Mary going by the name of Elizabeth Tate to work as a flower girl. The uncomfortable situation that Lady Mary was faced with left its mark when she began to suffer from a lung infection in 1578. The following year, Lady Mary was suffered from heart problems, which ultimately led to heart failure on March 25th 1579. Nobody knows for certain where Lady Mary was buried but many historians believe that she is buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Southampton. Others believe, that friends or distant relatives provided a funeral ceremony fit for her rank in London due to the fact that they felt pity for her. However, to this day nobody knows.

Kelly, R, National Portrait Gallery; Confessions of Lady Chatsworth, Humber Publishing press, 2006

Sarah said...

I don't know if this is a bit old hat, but I have just been writing about Mary Seymour...and found your blog.

From what I have discovered (books, web, etc), there are several possibilities of what could have happened to Mary.

Firstly, we know for sure that she was entrusted to the Duchess of Suffolk since she was a great friend of Catherine Parr's, and Thomas Seymour has specified that the Duchess take care of their daughter in the event of the chop. The chop came...and with it, the Crown took all Thomas Seymour's wealth (including that of Parr, who had left everything to her husband), thus leaving little Mary destitute. however, a year and a half later, most of Mary's inheritance was restored to her though it is not clear whether or not she was ever able to actually enjoy it.

From this point come the different versions as to what happened next. One theory is that the Duchess escaped to France with baby Mary to get away from the persecutions of the Protestants under Bloody Mary Tudor. they returned in 1559 and little Mary died 2 years later from consumption.

Theory 2 is that she was 'removed' and sent to Wexford, Ireland, where she was brought up by the Hart family. The Harts were Protestants and had had dealings with Thomas Seymour in piracy along the Irish coast - arrangements for profit were made between Thomas Seymour and the Harts. They were all trusted friends and indeed, jewellery from Seymour remained in the Hart family until at least 1927.

The final theory which I like the best, is that Mary indeed survived into adult hood, married Sir Edward Bushel, a member of the Queen Anne of Denmark's household. They had a daughter who married a Sir Silas Johnson and was able to inherit the remains of Mary's confiscated wealth...

If any of these are true, who can tell. As Alison Weir correctly says, a 'Queen's Child' could not simply vanish into thin air. But there is no official death certificate either. Perhaps she was extremely cleverly protected? One historian who found evidence for Mary's survival explains that her low profile may have been deliberately and carefully stage-managed in order to protect her from the persecution of Protestant families by Mary Tudor, her godmother, whose reign followed.

Perhaps we shall never know, but it's a story that has me enraptured, nevertheless.

Arthur Carden said...

Sarah, please tell me how to contact you. I have only recently noticed your comment, and would like to communicate with you directly about Mary Seymour. Arthur Carden

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that the women who had custoydey of mary seymoure could have killed her and taken the enhairentince

Alexandria said...

It would seem there was no inheritance, since although Lady Mary was reistated to her rank and given the remainder of her father's estates in January 1550, those estates had already passed into other hands. At any event, no effort was ever made to get anything back, and no one who had custody of Lady Mary would have had a claim on her property, so nothing to gain from a murder. Of course it is always possible she was murdered, but the high level of infant mortality at the time, which was higher for children without surviving parents to care for them, indicates that there is no need to postulate any foul play, and the most likely fate of the poor child is that she died a natural death at Grimsthorpe Castle at some time between late January 1550, when the reinstatement took place and she must have been alive, and early September 1550, when the next instalment of her pension would have been due but it was not paid and Katherine Brandon duchess of Suffolk who had care of her did not apparently complain about it. If she died aged under 2 years, no record of her death and burial may survive, in spite of the fact that she was a Queen's daughter and Edward VI's first cousin.

Roy Berrum said...

My Mom's maiden name is Parr. She traced us back to Catherine Parr and I was wondering if anyone would be interested in seeing the family tree. I also would like to know if this is true and if I may find some sort of communicable group to join in a discussion over our findings?

Laura Flynn said...

My family is either from mary or from edward the uncle of mary. My grandfather is Thomas seymour Henry. He belives that we are the decendents from Mary seymour. We have went as farback as John Henry who came from ireland. Of which his birthdate is unknown amd death date is somewhere in the 1700s. Before he came on the boat he was under a diffrent name but we are unable to find the correct name. We have the coat of arms. But if we are able to find any information on this subject to provide findings it would put my familys history dispute to rest.

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