Why All the Secrets?

My research into Thomas Seymour has led me down paths that I never expected. I’ve begun learning Paleography which is of utmost importance to read original documents. I requested some documents from Hatfield House and one of them was the examination of Thomas Seymour. To my surprise there are two versions available. One is scribbled out, with the exception of the opening and the closing. The other is in perfect condition.

Why on earth would someone go through the effort of scribbling out the entire examination? My only assumption is that they are hiding something. Was there some truth in there that could redeem Thomas? Did he accuse he brother Edward, possibly the King, or even Warwick of wrong doing? We will never know because it seems utterly impossible to make out the words under the scribbles.

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Copy of Thomas Seymour’s confession courtesy of Hatfield House archives.

How could I not expect there was something bigger going on when I find things like this? The original was pages long, the one we actually can read is but one page!

Captain of the Peter (Pomegranate) Ship

Only a few years after Thomas Seymour was born in Wiltshire, the King’s navy built the Peter Pomegranate (1510) as a sister ship to the Mary Rose. Both were considered war ships and mammoth in size. The Peter Pomegranate was presumably named in honor of Saint Peter, while the pomegranate was in honor of Katherine of Aragon and held 185 sailors, 185 soldiers, and 30 gunners. The Mary Rose, on the other hand held 200 sailors, 185 soldiers, and 30 gunners 

The Peter Pomegranate’s name was shortened to just “Peter” after it was rebuilt (and Katherine of Aragon had died) in 1536.

In 1544, King Henry decided to join the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V and his war against France. Henry raised over 40,000 troops to fight against the French.

Recalled from his position as ambassador to the Low Countries, King Henry entrusted Thomas Seymour with command of the English fleet. The King’s army was commanded by Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.

Sometime prior to the 3rd of November 1544, Thomas Seymour was named Captain of the Peter.¹ This was around the time of/ shortly after England had captured the city of Boulogne. It is quite possible that naming Seymour as captain of the Peter was in direct correlation with his results as commander of the fleet.

Let’s just sit with that for a minute. That is a lot of men to be Captain of a ship over. Pretty impressive actually. This should tell the reader something about Thomas’ skill as a captain and why he later was made Lord Admiral. Thomas had an impressive naval career.

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¹ History of Parliament. Sir Thomas Seymour.

https://www.revolvy.com/page/Peter-Pomegranate

Thomas the Diplomat: Low Countries

In my previous article on “Thomas the Diplomat”, was about Thomas Seymour’s time as ambassador to the King of Hungary and his participation in the Siege of Pest. Today we will continue where we left his story where the last post left off.

After his time on the continent as ambassador to Ferdinand of Hungary, Thomas Seymour was back in England.  It was around this time that Thomas may have begun his initial relationship with Kateryn Parr. At the end of 1542, Parr and her husband stayed in London, at Charterhouse Yard. In London they had easier access to good doctors for the ailing Latimer. This was about the same time that Thomas returned from embassy.

It is believed that Thomas and Kateryn may have fallen in love prior to Latimer’s death. There is no evidence to indicate when the relationship began or officially ended. It has proven difficult to pinpoint his [Thomas] exact location until March 1543, when he was appointed co-ambassador to the Low Countries and would be dispatched to Flanders. Imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys reported in a letter to the dowager queen of Hungary (while he was in Vienna):

two ambassadors to Your Majesty to consult and decide what had better be done, and how and on what side the invasion of France is to be carried out. I have reason to believe that one of them will be Master Thomas Semal (Seymour), the brother of the queen Johanne (Jane) that was…

What we do know is that there was a relationship, and that the King (who was interested in her) had given Kateryn a gift of sleeves prior to her husband’s death in March 1543, as well. Little did Kateryn know but soon the King would ask for her hand in marriage.

Kateryn Parr believed this to be an act from God, so to speak. She decided to move forward with the engagement even though she had a great love for Thomas, saying later, “as truly as God is God, my mind was fully bent, the other time I was at liberty, to marry you before any man I know.” She went on to say that she believed it was God’s will and she would renounce her own will for the will of God.

Lord Latimer, second husband of Kateryn Parr, died on the 2nd of March 1543.

By April of 1543, Thomas Seymour and Dr. Nicholas Wotton were named ambassadors to the Low Countries. The men were ordered to go to Flanders to present themselves to the Regent of the Low Countries. The Regent was the dowager Queen of Hungary and Regent of the Low Countries, Maria of Austria.

Maria_of_Spain_1557 (1)

It is often wondered if King Henry VIII knew of the relationship between Parr and Thomas Seymour and that was the reason why Seymour was made ambassador of the Low Countries and sent on embassy. I used to be a believer in the tale but now believe that it was just another diplomatic mission for the King. Thomas had just returned from his first mission being the ambassador to the King of Hungary and did his job to the King’s satisfaction.

England was still allied with the Emperor and Henry VIII was eager to learn how to defeat the French. His hope was that Charles V and his allies would be the key to a victory.

Henry VIII was frustrated that France had an alliance with Scotland, and that may have been all that triggered Henry VIII. This frustration with France was the reason behind my previous post: Thomas the Diplomat and the Siege of Pest and England assisting Ferdinand of Hungary and the Emperor. It would now be time for Charles V to show his support to England.

Thomas Seymour and Dr. Wotton’s job as ambassadors was to help keep the good relationship between the two rulers and to aid the King of England in knowing what was going on in the Low Countries.

The men spent some time in Antwerp before they were next recorded in Brussels. The two cities were less than three hours apart by horse.

On the 4th of July 1543, Thomas Seymour was pulled from his diplomatic mission and made Marshall of the English Army in the Netherlands. This position left Thomas second in command after Sir John Wallop. King Henry VIII had written a letter to the Regent of the Netherlands to let her know that Thomas Seymour was being recalled from her court to serve the king.

On the 6th of July, Thomas’ co-ambassador wrote a letter to the King of England where he sounds a bit perturbed by the sudden absence of Seymour. A translation of the excerpt from Letters and Papers:

A long letter is unnecessary, as Mr. Seymour can declare everything; whose departure leaves the whole burden upon Wotton, who will do his best. Brucelles, 6 July 1543. 

On the 12th of July 1543, Henry VIII wed his sixth and final wife, Kateryn Parr at Hampton Court Palace.

Twelve days after the King married his love, Thomas Seymour, captured and destroyed the castles of “Rinquecen’ and ‘Arbrittayne’.

The beginning of the following month (August), he was once again sent to speak with the Regent to ask for reinforcements. After his visit to the Regent of the Low Countries he returned to the battlefield and found himself in command of the army for a short time.

From Wriothesley (instructions):

They shall serve for 112 days from the day of their entry, either in repelling the enemy or invading his dominion. If the enemy retire before the 112 days are ended and the Emperor does not follow, Wallop and his men shall take leave and come home. If they stay the whole four months and the Emperor offers them convenient wages to remain still, they shall do so, at the Emperor’s charges.” 

Seymour was evidently a different style of leader than Wallop, here is what the site, History of Parliament has to say:

Thomas’ outspokenness about Charles V’s failure to give the promised support to the English force led the Emperor to remark that Seymour had shown himself more dry and difficult than Wallop, but Henry VIII showed his satisfaction with Seymour by making him Master of the Ordnance for life in the spring of 1544 with a salary more than four times that of his predecessor, Sir Christopher Morres. By virtue of his new office he supplied the guns and munitions for the campaign to capture Boulogne. After taking part in the storming of the town he was made an admiral with orders to victual the garrison left there and to harry the French in the Channel. His failure to execute those orders brought a sharp rebuke from the Council, but his explanation was accepted by the King.  (History of Parliament)

That’s where we will end this already long post – I will continue with the rest of Thomas’ career when we look at him being the Captain of the Peter (Pomegranate) and his time as marshall in Boulogne.

Rebecca Larson is a blogger and podcaster on the subject of the Tudor dynasty but has found a fascination with the life of Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen Jane. Since 2016, she has been researching and writing about Thomas Seymour in preparation for a biography on him. In the meantime, Rebecca is working on a fictionalized account of Thomas’ life due out 2020/21.

So Ended the Life of the Lord Admiral

On the morning of the 20th of March 1549, two strokes from the axe ended the life of a man who did not deserve such an ending. A man who, had been loyal to Henry VIII, and who had a way of getting attention. A man who believed he had been wronged.

Thomas Seymour’s execution, whether you believe it justified or not, will always remain a debate. For those, like myself, who are a bit more sympathetic to his cause we see it as Thomas being railroaded. Others believe he got what he deserved. What it really comes down to is whether or not it was right (since fair would not matter) to refuse a man a trial of his peers. Had Thomas been allowed to speak for himself, or if he had the opportunity to speak with his brother, I believe he would have had a longer life.

I have often compared Thomas’ story to that of Anne Boleyn’s – but at least Anne had a trial (even though it was rigged). The other person his story reminds me of is Katheryn Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII. Katheryn was also deprived of a trial and just like Thomas Seymour, had an Act of Attainder passed against her.

When it comes to Thomas’ motivation for the events that occurred after the death of his wife, Kateryn Parr, it is obvious that Thomas had lost his moral compass – and that in his grief he made terrible, hasty decisions that allowed men, who had more power than he, to work out thirty-three charges against him. Those men (or their lackeys) questioned many people, but the evidence that remains is not as impressive as the thirty-three charges would lead you to believe.

Of the people who were interviewed (or the evidence that remains), mostly include:

Sir William Sharington
Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset
William Parr, Marquis of Northampton
John Dudley, Earl of Warwick
Thomas Parry, Elizabeth’s Cofferer
Kat Ashley, Elizabeth’s Governess
John Harrington, Thomas’ loyal servant
Richard Weston, Seymour’s servant/lawyer
Wyghtman, Seymour’s new servant
Lady Elizabeth
Edward VI
and Thomas himself.

Who benefited the most from Thomas’ execution? Not just at that moment but a little bit in the future. The man who, in my opinion, masterminded the downfall of the Seymours to his advantage was………….none other than John Dudley, Earl of Warwick. The man whose father was executed by Henry VIII, the man who relinquished his prized position of Lord Admiral to the younger brother of the Protector. John Dudley clearly never forgave either of them for that choice, and soon after Seymour’s execution Dudley was reinstated as Lord Admiral. Before the end of 1549, Edward Seymour had lost his title of Lord Protector and was removed (albeit for a short period of time) from the Council.

Thomas Seymour is a courtier who will not soon be forgotten. Maybe we have the salacious stories about his life to thank for making him the continued gossip of our community.

Love Letters: Thomas Seymour and Kateryn Parr

Most of the time when authors and sometimes historians discuss the marriage between Sir Thomas Seymour and Kateryn Parr they say things like, ‘he married her for power’, or he ‘married her for money’. Today I really want to talk about the love story that was Thomas and Kateryn.

Kateryn Parr was married four times in her life – Thomas being her last – but before Thomas she was married briefly to Sir Edward Burough, followed by John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer. Near the end of Latimer’s life Kateryn and her husband moved to London so he could be closer to good doctors. During this time Kateryn held a position in the household of the Lady Mary — this would have been the perfect opportunity for Thomas and Kateryn to meet. Author Linda Porter, however, states that it is a misconception to believe that Kateryn was in Mary’s household, as she believed it to be a misunderstanding of household document. There is no reason to believe that Kateryn left her dying husband’s side. 

We don’t know exactly when they met, or where they met, but we do know that after Lord Latimer died in March 1543, there was a relationship between Thomas Seymour and Kateryn Parr. What we know is that Kateryn had wished to marry Thomas instead of King Henry — we know this because of a letter she wrote to Thomas merely two weeks after the death of the king.

The other part I find most interesting in this letter is it appears that the two had talked in some way since the king’s death — very dangerous and yet these two who had wanted to marry four years earlier accepted the risk.

Dowager Queen Katheryn to Lord Thomas Seymour [Circa mid-February] 1547:

My Lord,

I send you my  most humble and hearty commendations, being desirous to know how ye have done since I saw you. I pray you  be not offended with me in that I send sooner to you than I said I would. For my promise was but once in a fortnight. Howbeit, the time is well abbreviated: by what means I know not, except the weeks be shorter at Chelsea than in other places. (were they already sleeping together and she was saying that because time with Thomas alone seemed too few and far between)

She goes on in the closing of the letter to say:

(addition to body of letter)

I would not have you to think that this mine honest goodwill toward you to proceed of any sudden motion or passion. For, as truly as God is God, my mind was fully bent the other time I was at liberty, to marry you before any man I knew. Howbeit, God withstood my will therein most vehemently for a time and, through His grace and goodness, made that possible which seemeth to me most unpossible – that was, made me to renounce utterly mine own will, and to follow His will most willingly. It were too long to write all the process of this matter. If I live, I shall declare it to you myself. I can say nothing but, as my lady Suffolk saith, “God is a marvelous man.”

By her that is yours to serve and obey during her life,

Katherine the Queen KP

The date of Thomas’ response is unknown, but believed to be in March. We know a lot was going on the first few months of Edward VI’s reign so it is quite possible that Thomas was busy with council matters.

When we look at his letter we can find clues.

In Thomas’ response to her he says: [possibly March 1547]

The like humble and hearty recommendations I send your highness that I received. And being more desirous to hear from you than, as I thought, ye desired to hear from him, as yesterday in the morning I had written a letter unto your highness upon occasion that I met with a man of my lord Marquess as I came to Chelsea, whom I knew not. Who told Nicholas Throckmorton that I was in Chelsea fields, with other circumstances which I defer till a more leisure. Which letter being finished, and my hand thereat, remember your commandment to me, wherewith I threw it into the fire, by minding to keep your requests and desires. And, for that it hath pleased you to be the first breaker of your appointment, I shall desire your highness to receive my thanks for the same. And that ye might with as goodwill receive the like whom I shall send to you, and not to think that I break any of your commandment by the same.

Then he closes the letter in an interesting way….

I beseech your highness to put all fancies out of your head, that might bring you in any one thought, that I do think that the goodness you have showed me is of any sudden motion, as at leisure your highness shall know, to both our contentations. And thus, for lack of leisure, being sent for to my lord my brother, I humbly take my leave of your highness.

From Saint James in haste, as may appear to you by my hand.

From the body of him whose heart ye have,

T.Seymour

[Postscript] I never over-read it after it was written. Wherefore if any fault be, I pray you hold me excused.

 

Thomas had wished to write her sooner as well, but when he did he professed it all and decided to throw it into the fire because of a promise they had made. He mentions how Kateryn was the first to break their fortnight promise.

In the [Postscript] – Thomas seems insecure about his letter and mistakes he may have made in it. Clearly he thinks Kat is quite amazing.

I believe a letter that has been dated [circa April] 1547, that this was one of the first letters between the newly reunited couple where it is briefly mentioned they are married by her closing.

This following letter, is the first in their correspondences where any mention of marriage is made. Pay attention to the closings going forward. It is obvious to me now that it was known to Somerset at this time that the couple were married because he was trying to control her lands, unnecessarily – see more after letter.

Parr writes to Seymour [circa April 1547]:

My lord,

As I gather by your letter delivered to my brother Herbert, ye are in some fear how to frame my lord your brother to speak in your favor. The denial of your request shall make his folly more manifest to the world, which will more grieve me than the want of his speaking. I would not wish you importune for his goodwill: if it come not frankly at the first, it shall be sufficient once to have required it, and after, to cease. I would desire ye might obtain the King’s letters in your favor, and also the aid and furtherance of the most notable of the Council, such as ye shall think convenient: which thing obtained shall be no small shame to your brother and loving sister, in case they do not the like.

My lord, whereas ye charge me with a promise written with mine own hand, to change the two years into two months, I think ye have no such plain sentence written with my hand. I know not whether ye be a paraphraser or not. If ye be learned in that science, it is possible ye may of one word make a whole sentence, and yet not at all times after the true meaning of the writer, as it appeareth by this your exposition upon my writing.

When it shall be your pleasure to repair hither, ye must take some pain to come early in the morning, that ye may be gone again by seven o’clock, and so I suppose ye may come without suspect. I pray you, let me have knowledge near night at what hour ye will come, that your porteress may wait at the gate to the fields for you. And thus, with my most humble and hearty commendation, I take my leave of you for this time, giving you like thanks for your coming to the court when I was there. From Chelsea.

[Addition] I will keep in store, till I speak with you, my lord’s large offer for Fausterne (one of her dower properties that Ned wanted): at which time I shall be glad to know your further pleasure therein.

By her that is and shall be your humble, true, and loving wife during her life,

Katherine the Queen KP

The next letter in the collection is dated 17 May 1547 and is written by Thomas to Katherine:

After my humble commendations unto your highness, yesternight I supped at my brother Herbert’s: of whom for your sake, besides mine own, I received good cheer. And after the same, I received from your highness by my sister Herbert your commendations, which were more welcome than they were sent. And after the same, she waded further with me touching my being with your highness at Chelsea. Which I denied (being with your highness), but that, indeed, I went by the garden as I went to see the Bishops of London’s house. And, at this point, stood with her for a time, till at the last she told me further tokens which made me change colors: who, like a false wench, took me with the manner.

Then, remembering what she was, and knowing how well ye trusted her, examined her whether those things came from your highness or were feigned. She answered that they came from your highness. And he that knew it, to be true. For the which, I render unto your highness my most humble and hearty thanks. For, by her company in default of yours, I shall shorten the weeks in these parts: which heretofore were three days longer, in every of them, than they were under the plummet in Chelsea. Besides this commodity I may, assuring your highness by her how I do, proceed in my matter, although I should lack mine old friend Walter Erle.

I have not as yet attempted my suit, for that I would be first thoroughly in credit ere I would move the same: beseeching your highness that I may not so use my said suit that they shall think, and hereafter cast in my teeth, that by their suit I attained your goodwill. For hitherto I am out of all their dangers, for any pleasure that they have done for me worthy thanks. And, as I judge, your highness may say the like. Wherefore, by mine advice, we will keep us so, nothing mistrusting the goodness of God. But we shall be as able to live out of their danger as they shall out of ours. Yet I mean not but to use their friendship to bring our purpose to pass, as occasion shall serve.

If I knew by what means I might gratify your highness for your goodness to me, showed at our last being together, it should not be slacked to declare mine to you again. And to that intent that I will be more bound unto your highness, I do make my request that, if it be not painful to your highness, that once in three days I may receive three lines in a letter from you – and as many lines and letters more as shall seem good unto your highness.

Also, I shall humbly desire your highness to give me one of your small pictures, if you have any left: who, with his silence, shall give me occasion to think on the friendly cheer that I shall receive when my suit shall be at an end. And thus, for fear of troubling your highness with my long and rude letter, I take my leave of your highness, wishing that my hap may be once so good, that I may declare so much by mouth at the same hour that this was writing: which was twelve of the clock in the night this Tuesday, the seventeenth of May, at Saint James.

[Addition]

I wrote your highness a line in my last letter, that my [lady] of Somerset was going [toward] Sheen, who hath been sick, which [was] the let thereof. And, as I understand, th[ey] will thither as [of] tomorrow.

From him whom ye have bound to honor, love, and such in all lawful thing obey,

T.Seymour

Dowager Queen Katherine to Lord Thomas Seymour [latter half of May] 1547:

My Lord,

This day at dinner I received a letter from you by the means of my sister Herbert, who sent the same unto me by one of her servants, for the which I give you my most hearty thanks. It seemed convenient unto me, at her bering here upon Monday, to open the matter unto her concerning you, which I never before did: at the which, unfeignedly, she did not a little rejoice. Wherefore I pray you, at your next meeting with her, to give thanks for the same, taking the knowledge thereof at my hand.

I do well allow your advice, in that my lord your brother should not have all the thank for my goodwill in this matter. For I was fully bent, before ye wrote, so to frame mine answer to him when he should attempt the matter, as that he might well and manifestly perceive my fantasy to be more towards you for marriage than any other. Notwithstanding, I am determined to add thereto a full determination never to marry, and break it when I have done, if I live two year.

I think to see the King one day this week: at which time I would be glad to see you, though I shall scarce dare ask or speak. I shall most willingly observe your commandment of writing to you once in three days, thinking myself not a little bound to you, that it hath pleased you too, so to command me. I have sent in haste to the painteress for one of my little pictures, which is very perfect, by the judgment of as many as hath seen the same. The last I had myself, I bestowed it upon my lady Suffolk. This letter had been sooner with you but for tarrying the coming of the picture, the which I am not certain to receive at this time. If I cannot perform your request at this season, I shall not fail to accomplish the same shortly.

My lord, whereas you desire to know how ye might gratify my goodness showed to you at your being here, I can require nothing for the same, more than ye say I have, which is your heart and goodwill during your life: praying you to perform that, and I am fully satisfied. When you be at leisure, let me hear from you; I dare not desire to see you for fear of suspicion. I would the world were as well pleased with our meaning as, I am well assured, the goodness of God is. But the world is so wicked that it cannot be contented with good things. And thus, with my most humble and hearty commendations, I take my leave for this time, wishing your well-doing no less than mine own.

From Chelsea, by her that is yours to serve and obey during her life,

Katherine the Queen  KP

Dowager Queen Katherine to Lord Thomas Seymour [Late May 1547]

Around the same time as the previous letter, this one is Kateryn once again writing to Thomas. Here is what she has to say:

My lord,

This shall be to advertise you that my lord your brother hath this afternoon a little made me warm. It was fortunate we were so much distant, for I suppose else I should have bitten him. What cause have they to fear [you] having such a wife? It is requisite for them continually to pray for a short dispatch of that hell. Tomorrow, or else upon Saturday at afternoon about three o’clock, I will see the King: where I intend to utter all my choler to my lord your brother if you shall not give me advice to the contrary. For I would be loath to do anything to hinder your matter.

I will declare unto you how my lord hath used me concerning Fausterne, and after, I shall most humbly desire you to direct mine answer to him in that behalf. It liketh him today to send my chancellor to me, willing him to decare to me that he hath bought Master Long’s lease, and that he doubted not but I would let him en[j]oy the same to his commodity: wherein I should do to his succession no small pleasure, nothing considering his honor, which this matter toucheth not a little. Forsomuch as I at sundry times declared unto him, the only cause of my repair into those parts was for the commodity of that park, which else I would not have done. He, notwithstanding, hath so used the matter, with giving Master Long such courage, that he refuseth to receive such cattle as are bought for the provision of my house; and so in the meantime I am forced to commit them to farmers.

My lord, I beseech you, send me word with speed how I shall use myself to my new brother. And thus I take my leave with my most humble and hearty commendations, wishing you all your godly desires, and so well to do as I would myself and better. From Chelsea in great haste.

But your humble, true, and loving wife in her heart,

Katherine the Queen  KP

 

Fausterne Manor

In “The Nine Days’ Queen, Lady Jane Grey, and her Times” by Richard Davey it states that:

…the Queen-Dowager was subjected to unfair treatment on account of her marriage. Somerset determined to force her to lease her favourite manor of Fausterne to a friend of his name Long. Katherine refused point-blank to receive this gentleman as tenant, especially at a ridiculously low rent.

Kateryn mentions in her April letter of the “large offer” -…”till I speak with you, my lord’s large offer for Fausterne: at which time I shall be glad to know your further pleasure therein.”

Lord Thomas Seymour to Dowager Queen Katherine, [late May] 1547

After my humble recommendations, with thanks that ye have admitted me one of your counsellors, I perceive that your highness hath been warmed: whereof I am glad, for that ye shall not think on the two years ye wrote of in your last letter before this.

And, as touching mine advice for Fausterne, your highness shall declare unto my lord that it hath not been hid from him, what was your determination concerning the same for your house. Also, ye have given commandment to your officers to grow to some point with Master Long for the patent that he hath of you, by whom ye understand that he hath so used his office, that he hath no interest therein but during your pleasure. Howbeit, ye do not mind to take it of him except ye may lawfully do the same, and yet not without such recompense as he shall be contented withal. In the which parts there is sufficient pasture to fat all your provision and also my lord’s: and they being in your hands, ye would be loath to say my lord nay thereof, or a greater matter. And desire him, for our sake, not to meddle withal, for that ye will take warrant at his hand rather than claim your right, he misliking withal. And if ye find him steadfast to a long interest, I would ye should say that if he hath such interest as his lordship doth declare, then anything that ye should grant is well worthy of thanks. And until such time as ye know certainly wait interest ye have, ye will not depart withal; and I may not the same. Ye will make him such answer as he shall have cause to be content.

I wrote your highness a letter yesterday, of part of my mind therein, which I took to my brother Herbert, to be delivered to his wife who, I think, knoweth of our matters, but not by me nor none shall, but such as ye appoint, til it be further forth.

I presume I have my lady of Suffolk’s goodwill touching mine own desire of you; who, this other day, talking of me with my friend Sir William Sharington, wished me to be their master. He demanding of her what she meant, [she] thereby expounded it that she would that I were married to their mistress. And so would I. And, to bring it the sooner to pass, I shall do my best to set my lord and you at a jar; to the intent to make you weary of your matter: that ye shall convey them to me, to answer for us both. And thus, for this time, I take my leave of your highness.

From Saint James.

From him that is your loving and faithful husband during his life,

T.Seymour

What I most took from this letter is that this is Thomas’ first mention (in his letters to Kateryn) of Sir William Sharington, a man who would help create a Sudeley Castle fit for a queen and allegedly aid Thomas in his downfall. Not only was Sharington mentioned but I could not help but notice that the Lady Suffolk appears to have ‘spilled the beans’ when it came to their marriage. This would indicate that the marriage was not yet public but that Somerset and his wife already knew about it.

After the late May 1547 letter from Thomas to Kateryn we have one from King Edward where he mentions their marriage, and how the young king believed it was all his idea. In all actuality, they manipulated the young king to get what they wanted. You can look at that any way you want. If you want something bad enough…

Imperial ambassador Van der Delft reported to the Emperor on the 16th of June 1547

I have been informed from a secret source that a marriage is being arranged between the Queen Dowager (Katharine Parr) and the Lord Admiral (Seymour) brother of the Protector, and also that of the son of the Earl of Derby, the richest noble in England, with the daughter of the Protector.

-‘Spain: June 1547, 16-30’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 9, 1547-1549, ed. Martin A S Hume and Royall Tyler (London, 1912), pp. 100-116. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol9/pp100-116 [accessed 2 February 2019].

King Edward’s Letter to Dowager Queen Katherine, 25 June 1547

[Headed] To Queen Katherine Parr, the King’s letter congratulatory, upon her marriage with the Lord Admiral

We thank you heartily, not only for your gentle acception of our suit moved unto you, but also for your loving accomplishing of the same: wherein you have declared not only a desire to gratify us, but also moved us to declare the goodwill, likewise that we bear to you in all you requests.  Wherefore ye shall not need to fear any grief to come, or to suspect lack of aid in need: seeing that he, being mine uncle, is of so good a nature that he will not be troublesome any means unto you; and I of that mind that, for divers just causes I must favor you.

But even as, without cause, you merely require help against him whom you have put in trust with the carriage of these letters, so may I merely return the same request unto you: to provide that he may live with you also without grief, which hath given him wholly unto you. And I will so provide for you both that hereafter, if any grief befall, I shall be sufficient succor in your godly and praiseworthy enterprises. Fare ye well, with much increase of honor and virtue in Christ.

From Saint James the five-and-twenty day of June,

Edward

We get a sneak from the Imperial ambassador, Van der Delft who had this to say upon his report the Emperor on the 10th of July 1547 – it appears that word of their marriage was out:

The Queen (Dowager Katharine Parr) was married a few days since to the Lord Admiral, (fn. 1) the brother of the Protector, and still causes herself to be served ceremoniously as Queen, which it appears is the custom here. Nevertheless when she went lately to dine at the house of her new husband she was not served with the royal state, from which it is presumed that she will eventually live according to her new condition.

-‘Spain: July 1547, 1-15’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 9, 1547-1549, ed. Martin A S Hume and Royall Tyler (London, 1912), pp. 116-125. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol9/pp116-125 [accessed 2 February 2019].

1548

Lord Admiral, Thomas Seymour to Dowager Queen Katherine, 9 June 1548:

After my humble commendation and thanks for your letter: as I was perplexed heretofore with unkindness that I should not have justice of those that I thought would in all my causes be partial (which did not a little trouble me), even so the receiving of your letter revived my spirits. Partly, for that I did perceive that ye be armed with patience, howsoever the matter will weigh; as chiefest, that I hear my little man doth shake his poll, trusting if God shall give him life to live as long as his father, he will revenge such wrongs as neither you nor I can at this present. The world is such; God amend it.

Now to put you in some hopes again, this day a little before the receiving of your letter, I have spoken with my lord: whom I have so well handled that he is somewhat qualified, and although I am in no hope thereof, yet I am in no despair. I have also broken with him for your mother’s gift. Who makes answer that, at the finishing of your matter, either to have yours again or else some recompense as ye shall be content withal. I spake to him of your going down into the country on Wednesday, who was sorry thereof, trusting that I would be here all tomorrow to hear what the Frenchmen will do. And, on Monday even, I trust to be with you, as Friday the Frenchmen. I have no mistrust that they shall be any let of my going with you this journey, or any of my continuance there with your highness.

And thus, till that time, I bid your highness most heartily well to fare, and thank you for your news, which were right heartily welcome to me. And so I pray you to show[er] him with God’s blessing, and mine, and all goodwills and friendship. I do desire your highness to keep the little knave so lean and gaunt with your good diet and walking, that he may be so small that he may creep out of a mouse-hole. And thus I bid my most dear and well-beloved wife most heartily well to fare.

From Westminster this Saturday, the ninth of June.

Your highness’s most assured and faithful, loving husband,

T.Seymour

Katherine discusses in her next letter how much confidence she has in her husband’s abilities.

Dowager Queen Katherine to Lord Admiral Thomas Seymour, shortly after 9 June, 1548:

My lord,

This shall be to desire you to receive my humble and most hearty recommendations and thanks for your letter, which was no sooner come than welcome. I perceive ye have had no little trouble and business with your matter. I never thought the contrary, but ye should have much ado to bring it to pass as ye would have it. Nevertheless, I supposed my lord protector would have used no delay with his friend and nature brother in a matter which is upright and just, as I take it. What will he do to other that be indifferent to him, I judge not very well. I pray God he may deceive me for his own wealth and benefit more than for mine own. Now I have uttered my choler. I shall desire you, good my lord, with all [my] heart not to unquiet yourself with any of his unfriendly parts, but bear them for the time as well as ye can: which I know is much better than either mine advice or doing can express.

I am very sorry for the news of the Frenchmen; I pray God it be not a let to our journey. As soon as ye know what they will do, good my lord, I beseech you let me hear from you, for I shall not be very quiet till I know. I gave your little knave your blessing, who like an honest man stirred apace after and before, for Mary Odell, being abed with me, had laid her hand upon my belly to feel it stir. It hath stirred these three days every morning and evening, so that I trust when ye come it will make you some pastime. And thus I end, bidding my sweetheart and loving husband better to fare than myself.

From Hanworth this Saturday in the morning.

[Addition]

My lord, I thank you with all my heart for Master Hutton, desiring your to continue his good or else, I fear me, he shall never live in quiet with my lord Dacre. To whom I pray you make my recommendations, assuring him that I will be his friend, in case he use Master Hutton well, or else his enemy.

By your most loving, obedient, and humble wife,

Katherine the Queen   KP

 

The date of this letter indicates that it is about the same time that the alleged incident with the Lady Elizabeth occurred. Thomas, Kateryn and Jane Grey were about to embark on their long journey to Sudeley, while the Lady Elizabeth instead went to Cheshunt. Is it not possible that the supposed scene in the gallery never happened? Since the Kat Ashley changed her story a bit between who she told. Or that the Lady Elizabeth had herself taken quite a fancy to Thomas and formed a crush that others, including Parr, recognized as harmful behavior on her part. That it could damage her reputation if she acted on her feelings.

Regardless of how Elizabeth’s time ended with the dowager queen we can see that Kateryn and Thomas, from these letters, had a great affection for one another.  Their letters tell us a story that the propaganda machine would not want us to know. They loved one another.

 

A Castle Fit for a King: Holt

In January 1549, not long after Thomas Seymour was arrested (just days really), two men by the names of Sir Thomas Cawerden and Sir William Goryng were sent to take inventory of his goods, chattels, etc., in and about the Manor Place of Sheffield and Forest of Worthe, co. Sussex. Supposedly properties of Seymours.

When I looked up their locations on a map I immediately noticed its proximity to London – which made me wonder if it could be the connection I’ve been looking for the munitions in the woods. Back in 2016, when I first began digging into Thomas’ history, I read somewhere that munitions were being made in the woods – an accusation to go along his need for 10,000 men. It was an interesting statement to me at the time since Thomas was created Master of Ordnance in 1544 and held the position until he was made Lord High Admiral, at which point the position was granted to Sir Philip Hoby.

Remains_of_Holt_Castle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_352189
Remains of Holt Castle. This was built in the 13th century following the conquest of North Wales by King Edward I. After playing a crucial part in the Civil war in the 17th c. it was partly demolished and the stones from the site were used to build 208567. The remains of the castle, shown above, are believed to be the inner courtyard. The building was also called Castle Lyons originally.  // Peter Craine / Remains of Holt Castle / CC BY-SA 2.0

As Master of the Ordnance, Thomas Seymour was considered a high-ranking officer in the military. He was responsible for things like artilleryengineers, fortifications and military supplies. I recently wrote about Holt Castle being fortified to hold the King after Thomas kidnapped him. In the position of Master of the Ordnance he would have had access to everything he needed to fortify the castle, but would he still have the same power after relinquishing the title to another?

Holt1
What Holt looked like – Wrexham Borough Council / Chris Jones-Jenkins

My next question: Is there anything in his Act of Attainder about fortifying Holt to house the King? I can answer that. In Thomas Seymour’s Act of Attainder it held thirty-three charges against the King’s  uncle. Charge #33 was:

It is further objected and laid unto your charge that your deputy, steward, and other your ministers of the Holte in the county of Denbighe, have now against Christmas last past at the said Holte made such provision of wheat, malt, beefs and other such things as be necessary for the sustenance of a great number of men, making also by all the means possible a great mass of money, in so much that all the country doth greatly marvel at it, and the more because your (Thomas Seymour’s) servants have spread rumors abroad that the King’s Majesty was dead; whereupon the country is in a great mass, doubt and expectation, looking for some broile, and would have been more if at this present by your apprehension it had not been stayed.

Did you see anything in there about Holt Castle being fortified to hold the King? What I read is that they were suspicious as to why Holt was well-provisioned. It is assumed that it is to feed an army of men. Without a response from Seymour on the matter we only have one side of the story. As we all know, history is written by the victors.

 

 

On This Day in Tudor History: 28 January 1549

On the 28th of January 1549, Sir Robert Tyrhwitt wrote to the Lord Protector letting him know that he has tried everything suggested to get the Lady Elizabeth to confess, however, she claims she has told everything she already knows. In the letter, Tyrwhitt also states that he believes that there was a secret promise between my Lady, Mistress Ashley, and the Cofferer, never to confess to death. That same day the Lady Elizabeth wrote to Edward Seymour, Lord Protector and Duke of Somerset.

Elizabeth_I_when_a_Princess

Here is the Lady Elizabeth’s letter:

My Lord, your great gentleness, and good will towards me, as well in this thing as in other things, I do understand, for the which, even as I ought, so I do give you most humble thanks. And whereas your Lordship wills and councils me, as an ernest friend, to declare what I know in this matter, and also to write what I have declared to Master Tyrwhitt, I shall most willingly do it.

I declared unto him first, that, after that the Cofferer had declared unto me, what my Lord Admiral answered for “Alin’s Matter”, and for Durham Place, (that it was appointed to be a Mint,) he told me that my Lord Admiral did offer me his house for my time being with the King’s Majesty; and further said, and asked me, whether if the Council did consent that I should have my Lord Admiral, whether I would consent to it or no: I answered that I would not tell him what my mind was. And I inquired further of him, what he meant to ask me that question, or who bade him say so: He answered me and said, nobody bade him say so, but that he perceived (as he thought) by my Lord Admirals inquiring whether my patent were sealed or no, and debating what sh spent in his house, and inquiring what was spent in my house, that he was given that way rather than otherwise.

And as concerning Kat Ashley, she never advised me unto it, but said always (when any talked of my marriage) that she would never have me marry, neither in England nor out of England, without the consent of the King’s Majesty, your Grace’s, and the Council’s. And after the Queen departed, when I asked of her what news she heard from London, she answered merrily, “They say there that your Grace shall have my Lord Admiral, and that he will come shortly to woo you.” And more over I said unto him, that the Cofferer sent a letter hither, that my Lord said, that he would come this way, as he went down to the country. Then I bade her write as she thought best, and bade her show it to me when she had done; for she write that she thought it not best, for fear of suspicion, and so it went forth. And my Lord Admiral, after he had heart that, asked of the Cofferer why he might not come as well to me, as to my sister: And then I desired Kat Ashley to write again (left my Lord might think that she knew more in it than he) that she knew nothing in it, but suspicion. And also I told Master Tyrwhitt, that to the effect of the matter, I never consented unto any such thing, without the Council’s consent thereunto.

And as for Kat Ashley or the Cofferer, they never told me that they would practice it. These be the things which I both declared to Master Tyrwhitt, and also whereof my conscience beareth me witness, which I would not for all earthly things offend in any thing, for I know I have a soul to save, as well as other folks have, wherefore I will above all things have respect unto this same.

If there be anymore things which I can remember, I will either write it myself or cause Master Tyrwhitt to write it. Master Tyrwhitt and others have told me that there are rumors abroad, which be greatly both against my honor, and honesty, (which above all other thinks I esteem) which be these; that I am in the Tower; and with child by my Lord Admiral. My Lord these are shameful slanders, for the which, besides the great desire I have to see the King’s Majesty, I shall most heartily desire your Lordship that I may come to the court after your first determination; that I may show myself there as I am.

Written in haste, from Hatfield this 28th of January.

Your assured friend to my little power,

Elizabeth

On This Day in Tudor History: 25 January 1549

The Examination of the Lord Admiral,

25 January 1549

Whither he hath commoned wyth onny perfon or perfones, tochyng an alterafhon of the Order of the Perfon of the Kyng’s Magyfte, and his Confell; and what be theyr names, with whom he hath confer’d?

Thomas’ response:

I anfour, as I defeyer to be faved, to my remembrance fene the laft Parlement I never confer’d with any creatur levyng, but wyth my Lord of Rottland, upon occafhon of talk of the Kyng’s Magyfte’s towardnes, whom I fayed wold be a man thre yeres befor onny chyld levyng; and that I thowght within to or thre yeres, he wold defeyer more lieberte, and the honor of his own thyngs; and forther fayed, Yf then his Highnes ded command me to mak the mofhon to my Lord my brother, and the Confell, I wold do it; and moreover fayed, that I wold my Lord my brother fhould be the cheff derecter of his Grace’s Afferres in the Confell. And as to the alterafhon of ony other of the Confell, I never talked wyth hym, nor ony other to my remembrance. And yf I ment ony hurt to my Lord’s Grace my brother, more then I ment to my sowlle, then I defeyer nether lyff nor other favor at his hand. And fo far I defeyer you my Lordes to anfour to his Grace in my behalff; wharein ye fhall bynd me, duryng my lyff, to be at your commandment.

Your Lordfhipes to Command,

T.S.

Endorsed to: my very good Lordes my Lord grett Mafter, my Lord Prevy Selle, my Lord of Shrewfberey, my Lord of Southampton and Mr. Controller, and Mr. Smeth

In his examination, Thomas Seymour admits that he believed that the King should come of age soon and then if he chose to be the master of his own things that Thomas would back him up. He also states that he believes his brother (Lord Protector) should, in that situation, be the Chief Director of His Grace’s affairs in the Council. He states that he meant no harm to his brother and if he did that he would not desire life nor favor on his behalf. He asked the men to relay the information to his brother.

screen shot 2019-01-25 at 8.10.44 am
Letter courtesy of Hatfield House archives

Thomas also wrote a letter to his brother, the Lord Protector:

After my umbell commendashons unto your Grace. Sene the fenychyng of my letter, as yesterday, to my Lord grett Matter, (wharin I affewer your Grace on my faith, I wrott all that came to my remembrance,) fene whyche time I do remember, that when I came firft to Hamptown Cort, with your Grace out of Wylshere, on night as the Kyng’s Magesfte walked in the gallery, I began to fey unto his Grace, that fene I fa hyme laft, he was growen to be a goodly gentlman and trusted that within thre or four years, he fhuld be ruler of his own thyngs; whereunto his Highnes fayed, Nay. I marvelled that at to my felf and began to nomber his yeres, and fayed, within this four yeres his Grace fhuld be fixteen yere old, and fayed, that I trufted be that tyme, his Grace should help his men hymfelf, wyth fuch thyngs as fell in his Grace’s gyft, or lek wordes in effect; whare at his Grace fayed nothing. And then I fell in other talke of other materes, but what, I remember not; and whether I told this to Mr. Fowler or nott, I am not farten; and if ever I thought of it fene, to my remebrance tyll this mornyng, I pray God I leve nott tyll none. Wharein I confefs my felf to be over fenne, and that I ded otherwyffe then became me; requyryng your Grace to be my good Lord, and to remett my overfight, as your Grace hath done to a nomber of other. But yff I ment ether hurt or difplefur to your Grace, in this or ony ohter thyng that I have done, then puneche me be extremyte. And thus I umbly take my leve of your Grace.

Your Graces to Command, and Brother,

T.S.

In the letter to his brother he reiterates what was in his examination. He ends the letter with: ‘If I meant either hurt or displeasure to your Grace, in this or any other thing that I have done, then the punishment should be extreme’.

Harrington

John Harrington was a servant of Thomas Seymour – in what aspect is currently unknown to me. On the 25th of January 1549 Harrington was examined regarding his master. The same day Thomas Seymour has also been examined by Russell, Southampton and Petre.

Harrington was asked: What communication had been between him and my Lord Admiral, as concerning an order to be taken for the Government of the King’s Majesty and the order of his Council:

He answered, That as concerning the order of government of the King’s, or of an such matter, he never heard privately the Lord Admiral speak to him any thing; but openly he hath heard once the Lord Admiral say before others, about a yere now past, that i was never seen, that in the minority of a king, when there hath been two brothers, that the one brother should have all rule, and the other none; but if that the one were Protector, then the other should be Governor. Another time, he heard him say, if it were offered unto him to have either the one or the other, meaning the Protectorship or Governorship, he would wish the earth opened, and swallowed him, if he would take it. And since that time he never heard him say anything touching such matters. And for the Council, he never heard him say anything.

On this day Harrington was questioned on many matters, but I chose to share this part since it was on the same subject as what Seymour said.

Robert & Elizabeth Tyrwhitt

Robert Tyrwhitt and his wife Elizabeth served in the household of Katheryn Parr: Robert as a Master of Horse and his wife, Elizabeth as a gentlewoman of the Queen.

The Council notified Robert and his wife that they should move to Hatfield House to care for the Lady Elizabeth, while Kat Ashely and Thomas Parry were being questioned in the Tower of London.

Robert Tyrwhitt also had the unfortunate duty of interviewing the cunning Lady Elizabeth for the Council. Those conversations would be reported back. On 25 January 1549 Robert wrote a letter to the Lord Protector (here are a couple parts of it):

Robert Tyrwhit’s Confession

About Michelmas last past, my Lord Admiral lay with me one night at Mourclek Park, and after Supper he talked with my wife. And passing by him he called me, and said these words, “Master Tyrwhitt I am talking with my Lady your wife in divinity.” I made him answer, that my wife was not seen in divinity but she was half a scripture woman. “I will tell you the matter,” said he, “I have told her, that I wished to my  Lord my brother, that the crown of England may stand in as good a “surte” as the Crown of France; for there it was well known from one to another, who should have it by descent; and so should it be here, if my Lady Mary and my Lady Elizabeth were married”: I answered him that that was divinity indeed, for whosoever married one of them without the consent of the King’s Majesty, and them whom he he put in trust  for the same, I would not wish me.

One day at Sudeley, walking in the park, among many communications, the Queen’s Grace said thus; “Master Tyrwhitt, you shall see the King when he cometh to his full age. He will call his lands again, as fast as they be now given from him”: Marry, said, I, then is Sudeley Castle gone from my Admiral? “Marry, I do assure you, he intends to offer them to the King and give them freely to him at that time.”

 

On This Day in Tudor History: 23 January 1549

Six Days After Arrest

On the 23rd of January 1549, something interesting was recorded. The King’s Council issued a proclamation that prohibited the carrying of weapons or wearing of armor within three miles from court. Why would they do that?

In some of my original research on Thomas Seymour I came across a story about how “they” had found a cache of weapons, or rather a weapons making area, in the woods. Where exactly I do not recall, but they had been allegedly tied to Thomas Seymour.

With a history as the Master of the Ordnance, the accusation seemed plausible to me. The only problem with that is that it was the only time I had read that specific claim. Red flag. I checked Thomas’ Act of Attainder to see if it was mentioned. Nada. Surely, if it were true it would have been mentioned. There is no mention.

This leads me to back to the proclamation that prohibited the carrying of weapons or wearing of armor within three miles from court – someone must have falsely confessed to a threat of weapons being used to free Thomas from the Tower that they were worried enough to make this proclamation. If King Edward VI was located at Westminster Palace then that was where court would be. Westminster is three miles from the Tower of  London. So not only were they protecting the King and his court but they were also making sure that covered the Tower of London and Thomas Seymour as well.

Thomas Seymour was well liked, and that made him a threat to the men in charge. John Dudley, Earl of Warwick was instrumental in convincing Thomas to strive for more power and he was instrumental in his downfall – convincing his brother Edward, Lord Protector that he was in danger. In a letter to his brother, Thomas once said, “my death is your death.” How prophetic.

Also on this Day

John Ashley committed to the Fleet for the matter of the Admiral. John was married to Kat Ashley, Lady Elizabeth’s governess who had been arrested just days earlier.

NPG 6768,John Astley,by Unknown artist
John Astley in a portrait from 1553-4. Wikipedia

On This Day in Tudor History: 21 January 1549

Yesterday we discussed the confession of a Mr. Wyghtman – servant to Lord Seymour, who relayed information about Mr. Parry’s visits to Seymour Place prior to Thomas’ arrest. It is my belief that his statement is what caused two of the Lady Elizabeth’s servants to to be committed to the Tower of London for questioning.

Everything appeared as normal the morning of 21 January at Hatfield House until a couple of men arrived on horseback – Lord St. John and Sir Anthony Denny. When Elizabeth’s cofferer, Thomas Parry, discovered the two men had arrived he fled to his chamber where he found his wife Anne, also terrified. He tore the chain of office from his person and removed his rings and began to pace. He stated, “I would I had never been born, for I am undone.”

When I read the above description in Elizabeth Norton’s “The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor” I wondered why Parry was so nervous – Surely he had heard of Seymour’s arrest four days earlier and must have realized that soon he would be questioned. Did he just fear questioning, or was he indeed guilty of something?

Kat Ashley was Lady Elizabeth’s governess and she, Parry and his wife Anne greeted the visitors together, but not before making sure they all kept the proper secrets and did not reveal any involvement in a conspiracy, especially any discussion of Lady Elizabeth marrying Lord Seymour.

That evening, Thomas Parry and Kat Ashley were unexpectantly arrested for their involvement with Seymour – they were whisked away without a chance to dress properly. You can imagine their fear. That night they rode to the Tower of London with St. John and Denny for questioning.

 

On This Day in Tudor History: 20 January 1549

In yesterday’s post we discovered that not only was Thomas Seymour locked away in the Tower of London but also his friends and ‘alleged’ cohorts, Sir William Sharington and John Fowler.

On this day 470 years ago Thomas Seymour was charged with treason. From Acts of the Privy Council on ‘Sondaye’, the 20 January 1548 (we know as 1549 due to the calendar change).

Forasmych as very many dyd comme to declare syche thinges as they had hard and perceyved to apperteyn to the said heynous attempt of the Admirall, my Lord Protectour, with thadvis of the rest of the Counsaile, dyd appoinct my Lord Pryvy Seale, therle of Southampton and Mr. Secretary Peter to take their examinacions by writing or otherwise.

If you are less than comfortable reading the way they wrote before standardized spelling, I’ll help you here:

For as much as very many did come to declare such things as they had heard and perceived to appertain to the said heinous attempt of the Admiral, my Lord Protector, with the advise of the rest of the Council, did appoint my Lord Privy Seal (John Russell), the Earl of Southampton (Thomas Wriothesley) and Mr. Secretary Peter to take their examinations by writing or otherwise.

Sharington Interrogation:

During Sharington’s interrogation he appeared to reveal everything he had been involved in. Not only does he admit he worked with Seymour but he also admitted that he been stealing money for his own purposes (will discuss that later):

Touching my Lord Admiral, I do declare I heard him say, as I have called to my remembrance, why should not the King’s daughter’s be married within the realm; and that he said so much to some of the council: And that they were able to say little unto it.

Sharington admits that Seymour stated that it was wrong for his brother to go against the late King’s (Henry VIII) wishes:

I have also heard him say, that he thought it was not the King’s will that “dead” is, that any one man should have both the government of the King that now is, and also realm. And that in time past, if there were two uncles, being of the mother’s side, the one should have the one, the other the other.

And it appears that Seymour was not naive that the Council was on his brother’s side:

I have also heard him say, that none of the council would say anything otherwise at any time, then was liking unto my Lord’s Grace.

It’s obvious to everyone, whether in 16th century England or the 21st century world that Thomas Seymour was an ambitious man – they all were back then. He was really no different than any of them in this matter:

I have known him much desirous of stewardships, and to entertain gentlemen, but to what end I did never know, otherwise to serve the king, as he did always say.

Sharington continues to sing like a canary, probably out of fear of torture, or worse:

I did hear him say, that he would never consent or agree, that the King should be kept as ward, til he came to the years of 18; whereby he misliked my Lord his Grace’s patent.

Sir William Sharington’s confession is almost as long as Kat Ashley’s, but we’ll leave that for a future post.

Wyghtman’s Confession:

Wyghtman was a servant of Sir Thomas Seymour. He actually had not worked for Seymour very long before his master was arrested an imprisoned in the Tower of London on charges of treason. It is currently unknown what his role was as a servant but my guess is he was his secretary.

Wyghtman evidently was witness to many comings and goings of his master and his guests and was more than willing to share that information. In his confession she mentions a Mr. Hammond and Mr. Parry (Elizabeth’s cofferer) but admits that he cannot necessarily give dates.

The information in Wyghtman’s confession may explain the events of 21 January 1549….

 

 

 

 

On This Day in Tudor History: 19 January 1549

Only two days after Thomas Seymour’s arrest more information about an alleged conspiracy continued to come forward. Anyone who was an acquaintance or a servant of the Lord Admiral was questioned.

In Tudor England we know that being questioned was a serious matter. If you were brought to the Tower to be questioned then there was a real concern of torture. This is a topic we will come back to when we discuss the confessions of Kat Ashley and Thomas Parry, Lady Elizabeth’s servants – but for now, just keep it in mind.

On the 19th of January 1549, it appears in the privy council register that more information about a ‘conspiracy’ came forward through Sir William Sharington, Vice Treasurer of the Mint at Bristol, and Mr. Fowler of the Privy Chamber, for that and other matters the two were sent to the Tower. (‘Acts of the Privy Council 1547-50, page 239)

So, as of the 19th, the Tower of London held not only Thomas Seymour but also his two ‘conspirators’ Sharington and Fowler. We will learn more about their involvement as this story continues to unfold.

Sir_William_Sharington_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger.jpg
Sir William Sharington

At some point in the last two days Thomas Seymour wrote to his lawyer/council Richard Weston from the Tower. On the 19th Weston replied to his master’s letter and stated he would try to get many good men to vouch for him. Unfortunately for Seymour this would be a battle Weston could not win for his master – the wheel of misfortune was already turning. Neither of the men could have prepared for the swiftness of his ‘guilt’.

 

 

 

On This Day in Tudor History: 18 January 1549

The first quarter of 1549 was a difficult time for Thomas Seymour. He had been accused of attempting to kidnap the King, his nephew, from Hampton Court Palace. It was the evening of 16 January and it was also alleged that Seymour killed the King’s dog while attempting the kidnapping.

There are only two accounts (that I’ve discovered) of the events. Neither of the accounts were written by anyone notable or anyone who wasn’t an ambassador. The first account was by François van der Delft, who was the Imperial ambassador on 27 January 1549:

Sire, I have heard here that the Admiral of England, with the help of some people about the court, attempted to outrage the person of the young King by night, and has been taken to the Tower. The alarm was given by the gentleman who sleeps in the King’s chamber, who, awakened by the barking of the dog that lies before the King’s door, cried out “Help! Murder!”

Everybody rushed in; but the only thing they found was the lifeless corpse of the dog. Suspicion points to the Admiral, because he had scattered the watch that night on several errands, and because it has been noticed that he has some secret plot on hand, hoping to marry the second daughter of the late King, the Lady Elizabeth, who is also under grave suspicion. On my arrival in England, however, I will write the truth more fully to your Majesty, having nothing now to go upon beyond the information given by those who repeat common report.

The other account was written on the 15th of February 1549 from John Burcher, a well-know reformist in Strasbourg to Henry Bullinger, one of the most influential theologians of the Reformation in the 16th century.

From Tudor Nobility, Professor G.W. Bernard states that this letter gives a clue to how Seymours alleged plans were discovered. If, all the events listed in the letter are true then this indeed explains how it all went down.

In “Original Letters Relative to the English Reformation: Written During the Reigns of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, and Queen Mary : Chiefly from the Archives of Zurich, Part 2”:

The uncle of our king (I do not mean him who we call the protector of the kingdom, but his brother) has attempted, by an unheard of treachery and cruelty, to destroy with his own impious hands, in the deep silence of the night, our innocent king. The tragedy was thus acted. He obtained from one of the king’s chamberlains, who was privy to his design, a key, by means of which there is the nearest access by a door to the royal bed-chamber, which he entered in the dead of night, accompanied by the accomplices of his crime. There was a space between the door at which he entered and the king’s chamber, where was lying hid a little dog, the most faithful guardian of the youth, having been accidentally shut out of the chamber; and when he perceived the assassin hurry towards the king’s chamber door, he betrayed the murderer by his barking. The enraged assassin first killed the dog, and, had not God prevented, would have killed his master also. A faithful guardian of the royal person, roused by the noise, came out, having awakened some of those who from their office are called body-guards. As soon as he beheld with astonishment the murderer at the door of the royal chamber, he demanded of him what was his business there at the very dead of night. the man replied with trembling, that he wished to know whether the prince was safely guarded. But this excuse did not avail him, and on the next morning he was committed to the Tower of London as a traitor; as was also shortly after the king’s chamberlain, who had supplied him with the key by which he gained admission. And unless the king had accidentally bolted the inner door of his chamber, which is done very seldom, it would certainly have been all over with him before that other person could have run to his assistance. Together with the traitor was seized also a certain knights who was the warden of the king’s mint at Bristol, which is the richest sea-port in England. Here then you have the happy issue of this tragedy. They have, I doubt not, suffered at length the due punishment of such wickedness.

In another letter to Bullinger on 1 April 1549 he adds a post statement to the letter:
The traitor who plotted death of our king was condemned to death on the 12th of March, and there is no doubt but that he will be brought to execution.
Now if we go back to this day, 18 January 1549, we will notice how quickly the hands of justice clamped down on Sir Thomas Seymour.
Hugh Paulet (diplomat) and Sir Thomas Chaloner (administrator), as well as John Yernley (unknown position) were instructed to search Seymour’s house at Bromham in Wiltshire. Paulet took charge of Bromham as well.
Also on this day, 470 years ago, by order of the Council, the Signets of the Admiral were taken from his secretary and delivered to Mr. Secretary Smith to keep; and Harington his man was sent to the Tower by decree of the Council. (‘Acts of the Privy Council 1547-50, page 239’)
 
What is a signet you ask? It’s a small seal, especially one set in a ring, used instead of or with a signature to give authentication to an official document.
 
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Seymour Signet: Circular bezel of gold signet ring (1400-1464) engraved with a device of a hawk’s lure with the wings bound with cord.
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(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license.
As we continue to unfold the events of early 1549 I am hoping we will uncover the truth. Not the truth that we have been told for 470 years but the actual truth. What really happened and was Thomas Seymour a victim to those threatened by him?

Scheming at the Court of Edward VI

As the King lay dying at Westminster, important men, men of the council, either  whispered in dark hallways at the palace, or in their homes, about the future of England.

The King’s son was but a child, which led ambitious men to flock to the dying King’s bedside looking for power. Many had understood that the King had completed his will the previous year but hoped that there was still a bit of glory remaining for them.

The conversation that has repeated in history is that of Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and Sir William Paget, another council member. Hertford was the eldest uncle of Edward, Prince of Wales. His sister Jane was the third wife of King Henry who gave her husband the longed for male heir he was so desperate to obtain. Unfortunately for Jane, the birth of a prince took her life when she died twelve days after his birth. The death of Jane did not quell the ambition of either Seymour brother.

Hertford pulled Paget aside in the dark gallery at Westminster and ask his friend for his allegiance. Hertford desired the role of Lord Protector and felt it necessary to have one man rule instead of a council, but in order to do so he would need the agreement of the entire regency council. Paget agreed, and like all men that would follow, they agreed with stipulation. Paget wished to have Hertford’s ear and to be his council. It was agreed.

There was one man, a men of lesser lineage than the Seymour family, who agreed without asking for something in return, John Dudley, Lord Lisle and Lord Admiral. He was made Earl of Warwick in exchange for handing over the title of Lord High Admiral of England to the other Seymour brother, Thomas.

John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland

Lisle was the son of Edmund Dudley, close adviser to the first King Henry. It is evident that Henry VII trusted Dudley’s judgement but it was the next King Henry that felt Dudley had too much power and the English subjects felt him and his cohort, Richard Empson.

Edmund Dudley was an administrator and financial agent during Henry VII’s reign.

Henry VIII, had decided to signal to the people that his reign would be much different from his father’s, and his first step was to arrest his father’s
notorious and unpopular officials

The charge against Dudley was that on April 22, he had:

“conspired with armed force to take the government of the King and realm.” The charge seems absurd; Dudley had thrived under the reign of Henry VII and surely must have been hoping to do the same under that of his son, whom he had once given a gold ring set with a pointed diamond. S. J. Gunn suggests that Dudley and Empson might have actually summoned armed men to London, either out of fear of their political enemies or in anticipation of political instability following the death of the first Tudor king. “[S]teps they had taken with no thought of treason were, as so often in the politics of Henry VIII’s reign, twisted into the stuff of which indictments were made.” Despite the trumped-up nature of the charge, Dudley was convicted on July 18, 1509.¹

After the execution of his father on 17 August 1510, John and his siblings were all under the age of six. David Loades states that the Dudley children presumably stayed with their mother afterward, but it is unclear where.

In February 1512, a well-connected esquire of the body by the name of Edward Guildford was granted the wardship of John Dudley.

At the same time John Dudley was restored in blood ‘being not yet eight years old’ and his father’s attainder was annulled by statute (Statutes of the Realm, 11 vols., 1810–28, 3 Hen. VIII c. 19). Why this arrangement was made, and on whose initiative, is not known…²

From an early age Dudley must have been aware that his father was executed on orders of King Henry VIII. It makes one wonder if he held a resentment to the throne and all those near it. You really could not blame him if he did.

That resentment leads me to the Seymour brothers and Dudley’s involvement in their downfall. There are writers out there who believe that Dudley was friends with Edward and Thomas Seymour and that he should not be blamed for his downfall, however, friendship in Tudor England did not mean loyalty, necessarily. It was every man for himself and that cut throat world led Dudley to do the unspeakable. He played the usually amicable brothers against one another.

It is evident to me now that the brothers indeed trusted Dudley. They believed him to be a friend, but it appears that he was playing them for the fools that they became.

The duke of North [Dudley] was familiar with them bothe and loved bothe and trusted of them bothe. And after the consultation of making the duke of Somerset lord protector of therealme and of the kinge’s person and thereupon secretely agred and not pronunced;³

What that quote tells us is that Dudley was well aware that Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford (later Duke of Somerset) wished to become Lord Protector of the Realm and Governor of the King’s Person.

The duke of the North [Dudley] came to Sir Thomas Semour and tolde him not what was concludid, but what he ment; that the duke of Somerset [Hertford] sholde be the lord protector of the realme; and he sholde haue his voyse to be the governor of the kinge’s person, and he sholde haue all the furtheraunce he cold make; Sir thomas Semour did give the duke [Dudley] great thankes and prayed him that he wolde move it at the counselle’s boord; the duke [Dudley] answered that he thought not beste to do nor any other elles but only himself king [sic: knowing?] right well if he shode demande himself it was so reasonable a request that he knewe no man wolde dnye it him.

So Dudley went to Sir Thomas Seymour and instructed him that he should be Governor of the King’s Person, but he did not mention that he already knew that Hertford (future Somerset) had claimed both titles: Lord Protector of the Realm and Governor of the King’s Person. Then Dudley went on to instruct Thomas to have his voice heard that the title should be his, but that he should go directly to the King and not the Council.

It appears to me that this was Dudley’s first move against the brothers. Playing ignorance and instigating Thomas Seymour to fight for what should be his. He does warn him not to go to the “boord” (Council) but directly to the King because ‘no man wolde denye it him’ if he did and it was approved.

You could say that this became a learning experience for Thomas Seymour. That because he went directly to the council and ‘showed his hand’ that he was denied his request. In the future, Thomas learned, he would go directly to the King.

When Thomas raised the matter at a council meeting his brother, Duke of Somerset upon hearing his statement, stood up (without saying anything) and ended the meeting.

Edward Seymour was well-educated, unlike his younger brother. He was aware of the history of uncles and a minor king and that was one of the reasons he was reluctant to give his brother such a title. Was he really worried about keeping a good relationship with his brother, or did he wish to have all the power to himself? We just don’t know for certain. All we can do is speculate.

Even though they disagreed on sources of power, the now Duke of Somerset would not break from his brother, at least not until his death. Dudley appeared to understand this and found a way to ingratiate himself in the company of Somerset.

In “Religion, Politics, and Society in Sixteenth-Century England” the witness account states that Dudley stayed with Somerset ever evening until the execution of Thomas Seymour, after which he no longer stayed. Those who are pro-Dudley will probably argue that he was there to protect Somerset from the dangers of his brother, I, on the other hand, see it as Dudley making sure that Somerset did not waiver from executing his brother. There is no evidence to prove that Thomas wished to harm his brother – quite the contrary, he mentioned several times that he did not wish his brother harm.

It is due to these actions by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick that I believe he hold the majority of the responsibility for the death of Sir Thomas Seymour, Baron of Sudeley and Lord High Admiral of England. It should come as no surprise that months later he also made his move against Somerset.

Footnotes:

¹ History Refreshed by Susan Higginbotham; The Execution of Edmund Dudley; [24 April 2011]

² Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Dudley, John, duke of Northumberland; [23 September 2004]

³ Religion, Politics, and Society in Sixteenth-Century England (Camden Fifth Series); Jan 21, 2008 by Ian W. Archer and Simon Adams

4 ibid

 

An Army of 10,000 Men

While gathering evidence for my case to prove Thomas Seymour’s innocence (where I can), I discovered there are a couple of missing depositions in State Papers. Ones that are listed as being done, but not printed. These depositions are only available at Longleat House in Wiltshire and must be accessed in person. Due to geographic separation I am unable to view these depositions.

The deposition I would like to discuss today is the one from a Mr. Edward Rouse. Rouse was the Comptroller of Thomas’ household in Bewdley, called Ticknell/Tickenhill House. Tickenhill was considered a Royal palace and it was said that Seymour acquired it when he married Kateryn Parr in 1547. 

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At the moment, it is uncertain as to what was actually said in Rouse’s deposition. All I have to go on is: “Orders given by Seymour for keeping his house in Bewdley, in Shropshire”. 

John Harrington, a servant/officer of Sir Thomas Seymour, had previously held a post in the service of King Henry VIII. Harrington had married one of the alleged illegitimate daughters of the late King Henry, Ethelred Malte.

As a servant to Seymour, Harrington’s exact position in the household is currently unknown, however it is apparent worked closely with him.

Either before, or during Thomas Seymour’s stay in the Tower of London, John Harrington wrote a letter to the ‘Lords of the Council’ in his own hand. This letter was in regards to a conversation that he had with none other than the Comptroller of Ticknell House, Mr. Edward Rouse. In the short excerpt it states that Harrington was sent, by the Lord Admiral to accompany the Lady Jane to the house of the Marquis of Dorset. To further understand what it is all about I looked up the letter. It can be found in ‘A Collection of State Papers, relating to Affairs in the Reigns of King Henry VIII, Edward VI, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth: 1542-1570’ – Page 93: (see ‘original translation’)

According your Lordship’s commandments and ‘myn’ obedient duty. I have here written, as near as I can call to remembrance, the sum of the talk that passed between Mr. Rouse and me, as such time as my Lord send me ‘tatend’ (to attend?) on my Lady Jane to my Lord Marquess. Because he had the charge of my Lord’s household, I declared unto him my Lord’s pleasure for such of his men, as were convenient for that journey; and by reason hereof fell in to further discourse, as of the maids that remained, and to what end there abode was. I told him plainly, as I thought, they tarried in hope of my Lady Jane her return, which was the greatest cause of my going; and said further if things came to such pass as I hoped, I had some cause think it should torn the ‘thole’ (the whole?) house to great commodity; with more circumstances, but I am well assured, all to this end. Wherefore I most humbly beseech your good Lordships, for that it is very true, and also I acknowledge myself, to have been one, not so temperate of my talk, nor of so advised memory, as to be able now, to declare fully what hath passed me so long since, that it may please you to think it neither of arrogance, nor will, to conceal any matter: But if any unseemly word have escaped me, to impute it, rather to be said rashly and negligently, then willfully or maliciously; and as this sharp correction hath well learned me, so shall I hereafter not only have a more respect to that I aught, but also for the warning, during my life, remain,

Your Lordship’s most bounden, 

Jo. Harryngton

Can I go back and talk about that letter? I ‘translated’ it from the original phonetic spelling (that’s the best way for me to describe it) and recognized, as I was reading it I could almost hear the fear in Harrington’s voice. He was terrified. He says things like, he acknowledges that he needs to show some self-restraint in some of his conversations. He makes it even more clear in the last part where he says he never meant to keep anything from them and it was not done maliciously but negligently. He had learned his lesson and would heed their warning.

So how does this all tie into Ticknell House, you ask? From this evidence, I believe that in his deposition, Edward Rouse must have discussed the conversation he had with John Harrington about Lady Jane Grey and other conversations regarding the admiral. If that is the case then it is also possible that there were bigger plans for Rouse in the future. 

The story truly becomes to unfold when you look at these locations on a map. This is truly one of my favorite things to do when I am having a difficult time understanding a situation. I like to play the ‘is it possible’ game. 

As you most likely already know, there were allegations of Thomas Seymour wanting to kidnap the King. This can be confirmed in other depositions and confessions which are located in State Papers in Google Books.

In these allegations they state that the plan was to kidnap and bring Edward VI to Holt Castle in Wales. Holt was a stronghold on the Wales border. Check out this amazing recreation video of what it is believed to have looked like: 

Furthermore, if we look at this map, it would be an easy ‘escape’ from Sudeley to both Tickenhill and Holt. Dr. Sarah Morris of “On the Tudor Trail” was nice enough to inform me that due to the geography of the land that one could easily move from Sudeley to Tickenhill, which was THE route across the River Severn in that area.

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Image courtesy of Google maps

By WHY you ask? Why would they need to escape from Sudeley? Well, if they had the King of England in tow they would need to secure him in a fortified location. Holt was the best option for Thomas Seymour for more than one reason.

Thomas had made friends with the Marquess of Dorset, Marquess of Northampton and Earl of Rutland. They were asked to help him raise men. Thomas gave the men (especially Rutland) tips on how to get men to join the fight by offering them money, food and drink. A very expensive plan. The Earl of Warwick may have participated as well but his deposition is probably at Longleat with all the Seymour papers, which can only be accessed in person.

10,000 Men Theory

Sir William Sharington, cousin to Thomas and master of the Bristol Mint alleged that Thomas told him that he would need money for 10,000 men. The part that is generally left out of Sharington’s story is that he was in trouble and needed the protection of a powerful man…like the Lord High Admiral of England. You see, Sharington had been embezzling money. He had been making coins light and keeping the extra material to make coins for himself. He later confessed to having stolen £4,000 – which we can assume is probably half or two-thirds what he actually did. This is why he was willing to make money for Thomas, in trade for his protection. He told Thomas that it was no problem and he could make enough money as long as Seymour supplied the material and gave him time to make it. It would take more than a couple of days, he claimed.

Back to Dorset, Northampton and Rutland

I assume that since those men (Dorset, Northampton & Rutland) were allies that they were to raise the 10,000 men that Thomas told Sharington he needed coin to pay. Here is a map of the area they covered. Interesting to look at with new eyes and notice that it is like a blockade.

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Image courtesy of Google maps

As I continue on in my journey I will add information to this post when necessary. At the moment, if all is as it appears, it DOES seem that Thomas was building an army. What is not certain (through evidence) is for what purpose?

Rebecca Larson is a blogger and podcaster on the subject of the Tudor dynasty but has found a fascination with the life of Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen Jane. For the last two years she has been researching and writing about Thomas Seymour in preparation for a biography on him.