Lynne Frederick as Catherine Howard in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)
Lynne Frederick as Catherine Howard in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)

On 12th November 1541, Queen Catherine Howard was examined by members of the King’s Council following Francis Dereham’s claim that Thomas Culpeper had replaced him in the Queen’s affections after her marriage to Henry VIII.

Here is the record of the examination. I have copied it as it is written in the records but if you read it out loud in “pirate speak” (or a Lark Rise to Candleford accent) then you should understand it!

“The Quene saith that my lady Rocheford hath sondry tymez made instans to her to speke with Culpeper declaryng hym to beare her good wyll and favour, wheruppon she did at the last graunte he shuld speke with her, my lady of Rocheford affyrmyng that he desiered nothyng elles but to speke with her and that she durst swere uppon a booke he ment nothyng but honestye. And so he spake with hir in a litle galery at the steyer hedd at Lyncoln when it was late in the nyght about x or xj of the clok an hower and more, a nother tyme in her bedde chamber at Pomfrett and a nother tyme in my lady Rocheford chamber at York.

Item she seith that she wold ever sey to my lady Rocheford when she moved her for hym ‘alas madam this wol be spyed oon day and then we be all ondone,’ wheronto my lady Rocheford wold sey ‘feare not madam lett me alone I warraunt yowe.’

Item she seith that when Culpeper was talkyng with hir my lady Rocheford wold many tymez, beyng ever by, sytt sumwhatt farre of or turn hyr bak and she wold sey to her ‘For Goddes sake madam even nere us.’

Item she saith syns the counsell cam she hath advysed hir sondry tymez in no wyse to disclose this matter sayeng ‘they wold speke feire to yowe and use all weyes with yowe but and if yowe confesse yowe undo both your selfe and others. And for my parte,’ seyd my lady Rocheford, ‘I woll never confesse it to be torne withe wylde horsez.’

Item she confesseth that she gaff hym oonez a cappe with aglettz and a chayne and my lady Rocheford toke a crampe ryng from her and sent hym and after had a nother of hyr to matche it and that my lady Rocheford prayed hir she myght bye sumwhat to send hym and of hir owne choyse bought a payer of brayselettz to send hym when he sent serten fesauntz.

Item this day she badd the quene hold her owm for Culpepir was yesterday mery a hawkyng and I seyd to her that I marveylled she was not examined seyeng ‘it wold out, what hold your own I warraunt yowe, be yowe afrayd.’

As for thacte she denyeth uppon hir othe, or towchyng eny bare of her but hir haunde.

Item she seyth that my lady Rocheford wold at eevery lodgyng serche the bak doores & tell hir of them if there were eny, onasked; and sithens the progresse she told her that when she came to Grenewiche she knewe an old kechyn wherin she myght well speke with hym.

Item she sayth that my lady Rocheford told her also that she thought Paston beare hir favour but he never spake with her.

Item she seyth that lately, but the tyme she remembreth not, my lady Rocheford spake of Culpeper wheronto the quene aunswred ‘alas madam woll this never have ende. I pray yowe, byd hym desier no more to treble me or send to me,’ wher uppon she told me after that she had don my message his aunswer was that he besought me to send hym no such word for he wold take no suche aunsw^er but styll sent to me as he myght have a messanger at whiche tyme she called hym lytle sweete foole.

Item hir grace seith that when she toke hir rightz last she gaff hir warnyng to troble hir no more with suche light matters wheronto she aunswered ‘yet must yow gyff men leave to looke for they woll looke uppon yowe.’

Signed : — T. Cantuariensis; T. Norfolk; W. Southampton; Robt. Sussex; E. Hertford; J. Russell; Ste. Winton; Antone
Browne; Antony Wyngfeld; Thomas Wriothesley; Rafe Sadleyr.
The document is in a court hand, including the queen s signature, but the signatures of the lords are all autograph.”

As you can see, Catherine did not confess to sleeping with Thomas Culpeper, all she confessed to was:

  • Meeting with him and speaking with him at Lincoln, Pontefract and York.
  • Giving Culpeper a cap, a chain and a cramp ring.
  • Calling Culpeper her “little sweet fool”.

She also seems to paint Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, as what Lacey Baldwin-Smith refers to as “the agent provocateur”, although David Starkey sees her as more of the “pandering nurse” to “the love-sick Juliet”.

Records in Letters and Papers tells us the other people who were interviewed at this time and the results of the interviews:

  • Katherine Tilney – “At Westm. 13 Nov. ao xxxiijo:—Kath. Tylney, examined whether the Queen went out of her chamber any night late at Lincoln, where she went, and who went with her, says that the Queen went two nights to lady Rochford’s chamber, which was up a little pair of stairs by the Queen’s chamber. Examinate and her fellow Marget went with her, but were sent back. Marget went up again eftsoons, and examinate went to bed with Friswyde. When Marget came to bed, about 2 o’clock, examinate said, “Jesus, is not the Queen abed yet?” She replied, “Yes, even now.” The second night the Queen sent the rest to bed and took examinate with her, but she was in a little place with Lady Rochford’s woman and could not tell who came into Lady Rochford’s chamber. Has been sent with such strange messages to Lady Rochford that she knew not “how to utter them.” At Hampton Court, lately, “she bade her go to the Lady Rochford and ask her when she should have the thing she promised her; and she answered that she sat up for it, and she would next day bring her word herself. A like message and answer was at my lord of Suff. outward.”
  • “List of names in Wriothesley’s hand as follows:—
    “Yong Bulmer’s wief, my l. of N. and Mr. Comptroller. Dorothe Dawby, sumtyne chamberer to th’old dutches of Norff. Katherin Tylney, my l. of Hertf. and Mr. Chauncelour. Edward Walgrave servaunt to my lord Prince, my lord of Hertford and Mr. Chauncelour. Mary Lasselles. Malyn Tylney, wydowe, my l. of H. and Mr. Chauncelour.  Alis Wylkes. Damport sumtyme bedfolowe to Deram, my l. of N. and Mr. Compt. (In margin in the duke of Norfolk’s hand: “my lord of Norff.”). Luce, sumtyme chamberer to th’old dutches of Norff. Anne Haward wief to Henry Howard, my l. of H. and Mr. Ch. John Walshman, porter. John Benet. Richard Favour. Margery sumtyme chamberer to my l. of Norff. Mrs. Barwyke doughter to Berwyke besides Horsham.” “
  • Margaret Morton – ““The confession of Margyt Morton to Sir Anthony Brown.”
    She never mistrusted the Queen until at Hatfeld she saw her look out of her chamber window on Mr. Culpeper after such sort that she thought there was love between them. There the Queen gave order that neither Mrs. Lofkyng “nor no nother” should come into her bedchamber unless called. At Lodyngton she carried a sealed letter, without superscription, to my lady of Rochford, to whom the Queen bade her say she was sorry that she could write no better. Lady Rochford promised an answer next morning, which deponent was sent for and brought, with a message “praying her Grace to keep it secret and not to lay it abroad.” After Kath. Tylnay came, the Queen could not abide Mrs. Loffken or deponent. Thinks “my lade off Rochfor the prynsy a casyoun off har ffoley.” At Pomfrat the Queen was angry with Mrs. Louffkyn and her and threatened to put them away. If they had gone she thinks the Queen would have taken others of Lady Rochford’s putting. She confesses all that she said to Mr. Comptroller, and also that at Pomfret, every night, the Queen, being alone with lady Rochford, locked and bolted her chamber door on the inside, and Mr. Dane, sent to the Queen from the King, one night found it bolted.”
  • “Abstracts of confessions of witnesses against the Queen, viz.:—
    Alice Restwold lately called Alice Welkes:—The Queen at her last being at Cheyneys, the lord Admiral’s house, sent for her, by Dereham and by Kath. Tilney, and at her coming, kissed and welcomed her and ordered her to lie with her chamberers; and afterwards sent her, by lady Rochford, upper and nether habiliments of goldsmith’s work for the French hood and a tablet of gold.
    Margaret lady Howard:—Deposes to much familiarity between Dereham and the Queen before marriage, and since the marriage has heard one Stafford say, “if I were as Deram I would never tell to die for it” and that “ther was a thyng that stakk apon his stomack.”
    Anne Howard, Margaret Benet, Malyn Tylney, widow, Edward Walgrave: —Many instances (detailed) of “familiarity” and “abominable fashions” used between Dereham and the Queen before her marriage.
    Francis Dereham:—Confesses his familiarity with the Queen before the marriage; and that since the marriage he has been in the Queen’s privy chamber and she has said to him, “Take heed what words you speak,” and given him 3l. and, at another time, 10l.
    Kath. Tilney and Alice Restwold:—Instances of the familiarity before the marriage.
    Thos. Culpeper:—Description of many stolen interviews with the Queen at Greenwich, Lincoln, Pomfret, York, &c., since Maundy Thursday last, when she sent for him and gave him a velvet cap. Lady Rochford contrived these interviews. The Queen would “in every house seek for the back doors and back stairs herself.” At Pomfret she feared the King had set watch at the back door, and lady Rochford made her servant watch in the court to see if that were so. Once the Queen said to him, “If I listed I could bring you into as good a trade as Bray hath my lord Parr in.” Answered that he thought her no such woman as Bray; and she said, “Well, if I had tarried still in the maidens’ chamber I would have tried you.” Once she said that “she doubted not that he knew that the King was supreme head of the Church, and therefore the Queen bade him beware that whensoever he went to confession he should never shrive him of any such things as should pass betwixt her and him; for, if he did, surely, the King being supreme head of the Church, should have knowledge of it.” Replied, “No, Madam, I warrant you.” Lady Rochford provoked him much to love the Queen and he intended to do ill with her.
    Jane lady Rochford:—Relative to the above interviews; of which she heard or saw nothing of what passed, for the Queen was at the other end of the room and Culpeper on the stairs, ready to slip down. One night at Lincoln she and the Queen were at the back door waiting for Culpeper, at 11 p.m., when one of the watch came with a light and locked the door. Shortly after Culpeper came in, saying he and his man had picked the lock. Since her trouble the Queen has daily asked for Culpeper, saying that if that matter came not out she feared not. At Lincoln, when the Queen was with Culpeper, she was asleep until the Queen called her to answer Lovekyn. She thinks Culpeper has known the Queen carnally.
    John Lassells:—Instances, told him by his sister Mary Hall, of the Queen’s familiarity with Dereham and Manoxe, before the marriage.
    Mary Morton:—Suspicious conduct of the Queen and Culpeper, which she first noticed at Hatfeld, and for which she blames lady Rochford.
    Joan Bulmer:—Familiarity with Dereham before marriage.
    Robt. Davenporte:—Dereham showed him since he came to Court that many despised him because the Queen favoured him. Mr. Johns, the Queen’s gentleman usher, fell out with Dereham for sitting at dinner or supper with the Queen’s Council after all other were risen, and sent to ask whether he were of the Council. Dereham replied, “Go to Mr. Johns, and tell him I was of the Queen’s Council before he knew her and shall be when she hath forgotten him.” Gives instances of the familiarity before marriage.
    Henry Manokes:—Dereham’s and his own familiarity with the Queen before her marriage.”
  • “Andrew Maunsay, late servant to the duchess dowager of Norfolk, examined 15 Nov. 33 Hen. VIII., says that when he was in household with the Duchess he thrice saw the Queen, then Mrs. Katharine Howard, lie in her bed and one Durand, a gentlemen then in the house, lie suspiciously on the bed in his doublet and hose. Kath. Tylney lay in the bed at the time and can tell more. A laundry woman named Besse can also speak of this. It was 12 months before the Queen came to Court.”

Thomas Culpeper, unfortunately, confessed that “he intended and meant to do ill with the Queen and that in like wise the Queen so minded to do with him.” This was treason and, as Lacey Baldwin-Smith points out, “Henry’s mercy, on which Catherine had so abjectly called, could not now be expected to save her.”

Notes and Sources

  • Taken from Calendar of the manuscripts of the Marquis of Bath preserved at Longleat, Wiltshire, Volume II, p9-10. This can be read online at
  • Catherine Howard, Lacey Baldwin Smith (2009), p173
  • Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, David Starkey (2003), p674
  • LP xvi. 1337, 1338, 1339, 1348

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