1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, Catherine Parr, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of England, Edward Seymour, Edward VI of England and Ireland, Henry VIII of England and Ireland, Mary Seymour, Thomas Seymour
Mary Seymour (August 30, 1548 – unknown), was the only daughter of Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, and Catherine Parr, widow of Henry VIII of England and Ireland. Mary was born at her father’s country seat, Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire.
Catherine Parr was the eldest child of Sir Thomas Parr, lord of the manor of Kendal in Westmorland, (now Cumbria), and Maud Green, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Thomas Green, lord of Greens Norton, Northamptonshire, and Joan Fogge. Sir Thomas Parr was a descendant of King Edward III, and the Parrs were a substantial northern family which included many knights.
Catherine was Queen of England and Ireland as the last of the six wives of King Henry VIII from their marriage on July 12, 1543 until Henry’s death on January 28, 1547.
About six months after Henry VIII’s death, she married her fourth and final husband, Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley. The marriage was short-lived, as she died on Wednesday, September 5, 1548 at the age of 36, due to complications of childbirth. Although Catherine was married four times, Mary Seymour was her only child. Parr’s funeral was held on September 7, 1548. Parr’s funeral was the first Protestant funeral in England, Scotland or Ireland to be held in English.
Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, KG PC (c.1508 – March 20, 1549) was the son of Sir John Seymour and Margaret Wentworth. He was the younger brother of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of England (1500–1552).
Despite his great wealth and high position, Thomas Seymour could not come to terms with his brother’s appointment as protector; and in his struggle with Somerset, he tried to ingratiate himself with the king, and vied for control of his nephew, the young King Edward VI (r. 1547–1553) who was just a little boy. In 1547 Seymour became the fourth husband of Catherine Parr. During his marriage to Catherine Parr, Seymour became involved with, the future Queen Elizabeth I (then 14 years old), who resided in his household, in flirtatious and possibly sexual behaviour.
In summer 1547, Edward Seymour, 1st duke of Somerset and the Protector of England, invaded Scotland. During his absence from the court, his brother, Thomas Seymour, fomented opposition to his authority, voicing open disapproval of his brother’s administrative skills. Because his activities seemed suspicious, several members of the nobility advised him to be content with his position, but he would not listen.
I will go into more detail on Thomas Seymour in an up coming post. So I’ll just mention that on February 20, the regency council officially accused him of thirty-three charges of treason. He was convicted of treason, condemned to death and executed on March 20, 1549.
Later in 1549, the Parliament of England passed an Act (3 & 4 Edw. 6 C A P. XIV) removing the attainder placed on her father from Mary, but his lands remained property of the Crown.
As her mother’s wealth was left entirely to her father and later confiscated by the Crown, Mary was left a destitute orphan in the care of Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, who appears to have resented this imposition. After 1550 Mary disappears from historical record completely, and no claim was ever made on her father’s meager estate, leading to the conclusion that she did not live past the age of two.
Victorian author Agnes Strickland claimed, in her biography of Catherine Parr, that Mary Seymour did survive to adulthood, and in fact married Sir Edward Bushel, a member of the household of Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I-VI of England, Scotland and Ireland. Strickland’s theory suggested that the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk, after her marriage to Richard Bertie in 1553, and before she fled England during the Marian Persecutions in or after 1555, arranged Mary’s marriage to Bushel. The problem with this theory is that Mary would have been only aged six at the time.
Another theory states that Mary was removed to Wexford, Ireland, and raised under the care of a Protestant family there, the Harts, who had been engaged in piracy off the Irish coast under the protection of a profit sharing arrangement with Thomas Seymour.
A lozenge-shaped ring inscribed “What I have I hold” was reputed to have been an early gift to Thomas by his brother Edward Seymour, and was passed down through generations of the Seymour-Harts until at least 1927.
There was reference to “Mary” found in old Elizabethan texts of ‘The Late Queen’s heir.’ However, this could be various other women. Historian S. Joy states that “Mary definitely lived past the age of 10, but after that little is known.”