Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Anges, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. The Story of our 14th Great Grandmother (Williamson Line).

Our 14th Great Grandmother, Anges Howard,
Duchess of Norfolk

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Tonight we gather for our virtual family reunion around our digital fire to talk about a grandmother who lived in turbulent times. Her name was Anges Howard, Duchess of Norfolk. She was born in 1477 and died in 1545. She lived during the reign of Henry VIII of England. Yes, I thought that would get your attention. We are talking Henry VIII and his six wives. Before I tell this tale let me fist show you the family line:

Our 14th Great Grandmother
Anges, Duchess of Norfolk married Sir Thomas Howard

Dorothy Howard married Edward Stanley, Earl of Derby
Jane Stanley married Edward Sutton, Baron of Dudley
Edward Sutton married Elizabeth Tomlinson
Ann Sutton married John Bagley
Edward Bagley married Ann Gregorie
Ann Bagley married William Brinton
John Willis married Ester Brinton
Henry Willis married Mary Rachel Underwood
John Willis - Phebe Bennett
Bennett Willis - Katherine Nosseman
Jonathan Willis - Anabella Phlegar
Margaret Ann Willis - George Matthew Williamson
William J. Williamson - Effie Helen Victor
Vennie, Ima Della, Inez, Lillie Ethel, Josie, Emmett, Walt, Charles, Maurice.
Charles Williamson married Luella Mattson to Me

Now, I know there is much to read in this Post but I encourage you to read on. You'll find the life of our 14th Great Grandmother very interesting because she was at the very center of the story of Henry VIII and two of his wives.

Henry VIII of England

Agnes was the second wife of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, the step-grandmother of Anne Boleyn, second wife and queen consort of Henry VIII, and step-grandmother of Catherine Howard, fifth wife and queen consort, of Henry VIII of England. Agnes was thus also step-great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

In 1509, King Henry VII died and was succeeded by his son, Henry VIII. Our Grandmother's Agnes greatest fortune was the defeat of the Scots by her husband Thomas at Flodden Field in 1513. Henry VIII rewarded Thomas by resurrecting the title of Duke of Norfolk in 1514.

Agnes enjoyed the role of leading hostess in high society, and her place at court reflected her husband's success. She was godmother to Henry VIII's eldest daughter, Princess Mary, and was trusted enough for Wolsey to accept her recipes for medicines after he contracted sweating sickness. She was soon first lady of the Queen's household after the King's sister, Mary.

In 1527, the King began to look for ways to get an annulment of his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon, on the grounds of her failure to produce a male heir. Although initially disapproving of the plan, Agnes, now three years widowed, found strength in the fact that the new queen was a family relative -- Anne Boleyn. Anne was the daughter of Agnes' stepdaughter, Elizabeth Boleyn

Anne Boleyn

Our Grandmother Agnes bore Anne Boleyn's train at her coronation, and held Anne's infant daughter with the king—the future Queen Elizabeth I—at her baptism. Anne Boleyn failed to produce a male heir. That tarnished the Howard family at Court.

Of course, Anne failed to produce a male heir. Later it was said she has sexual relations with her brother. This was not true but gave Henry VIII a reason to have her executed. She was beheaded at the Tower of London. Her daughter Elizabeth became the future Queen Elizabeth I.
Our Great Grandmother lost her step granddaughter.

Rise and Fall of a Queen

In 1540, Henry married his fourth wife Anne of Cleves, a daughter of a German Protestant duke. Among the ladies in waiting appointed to attend the new queen was Catherine Howard, the daughter of one of Agnes' younger stepsons. Henry was greatly disappointed with his new wife's looks, calling her a "Flanders Mare". Soon he began looking for another wife and took an early shine to Catherine. Henry sought an annulment from Anne Cleves on the grounds of non-consummation. However, Anne's lawyers made it difficult to achieve this easily, and the annulment was only given by Anne's willingness to accept an annulment and become the King's honorary sister, retiring to her estates at Hever Castle, the former Boleyn family home, and Richmond Palace. This left Henry free to marry, and after a short courtship, Catherine accepted Henry's proposal under the advice of Agnes and her stepson the Duke of Norfolk. Henry affectionately referred to her as a "rose without a thorn".

Catherine Howard

The Death of Catherine Howard

Soon after Catherine's marriage, her past life came to light. Agnes was preoccupied with the running of her two households and had little time to notice the sexual affairs that went on behind her back.

Catherine had an affair with Francis Dereham. It's possible that Agnes herself had him promoted to the position of secretary to keep him quiet about the past and not tell King Henry. Agnes searched his room and belongings and destroyed any incriminating evidence against her step granddaughter. However a former attendant brought Catherine's past to the attention of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Catherine was not helped by the fact that she had a lover while married to the King -- Thomas Culpepper, one of the King's most trusted servants. When this came to light, and the queen confessed, her queenship was over. Henry ordered that she be sentenced to death by Act of Attainder, allowing his seal to be fixed in absentia, and she was executed in February 1542, at the Tower of London.

Agnes' Later life

Because of Agnes role in the two failed marriages of her two step granddaughters, Henry VIII had her arrested and taken to the Tower of London, along with other Howard family members. Eventually, Grandmother Agnes was released in 1543, but her stepson the Duke was never returned to favor.

Agnes Howard, The Duchess of Norfolk, died in May 1545, and on the 31st was buried at Thetford Priory. In November, in accordance with her own wishes, her remains were re-interred at Lambeth.

1 comment:

  1. Its nice to see our crazy ancestors on both sides. This will keep us going on for years. I knew of Catherine Howard but not much of Agnes. Thanks for the post. We learn about these Kings and Queens in school, but we are not taught much about these dukes, dutchess, lady's in waiting, Earls, etc. who sometimes have more of a story than the Royals. The tower of London is famous for the executions of alot famous royals. I read that it is haunted. I have heard stories that the two princes, Edward and Richard have been wandering around their, and Anne Boleyn walks around with her head in her arm. Also there have been sightings of Henry VI, and Lady Jane Grey, who is also related somehow to us. You'll have to figure that out for us someday Vic. Thanks Joe