14 November 1541 – The inventory of Thomas Culpeper’s belongings

Culpeper and Catherine in "The Tudors"
Culpeper and Catherine in “The Tudors”
On 14th November 1541, an inventory was taken “of the goods and chattels, lands and fees of Thos. Culpeper, the younger”, the alleged lover of Queen Catherine Howard.

The list included two caps of velvet given to him by Henry VIII, swords, daggers, clothing, furniture, revenues from his lands (including “the manors of Zanworth, Haselton, Nawnton and Enford, with the parsonage, Glouc. and Wilts, Fordam and Argentynes, Essex, the late monastery of Comwell, Kent”), offices he held (“Clerk of the Armoury, keeper of the house and parks of Penshurst and North Lye, master of the game and steward of the lordships of Southfryth and Northfrith, lieutenant, &c., of Tonbryge castle, keeper of Posterne and Cage parks, steward, &c., of Ashdowne forest”), horses and harness, and hangings.

An inventory of the possession of Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, Catherine’s lady and also the widow of George Boleyn, had already been taken:

“List of plate (7 items), apparel (11 items, one “a little steel casket with a purse and forty pounds in it”), and jewels (8 items, viz., “a broach with an ag[ate], a cross of diamo[nds] with three pearls pendant, a flower of rubies, a flower with a ruby and a great emerald with a pearl pen[dent], a tablet of gold with black, green, and white enamelled, a pair of bracelets of red cornelyns, a pair of beads of gold and stones, a broach of gold with an antique head and a white face.”

Things were getting very serious for Catherine Howard and those connected to her now.

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14 thoughts on “14 November 1541 – The inventory of Thomas Culpeper’s belongings”
  1. After all the years of reading about these times and people, I still find it very chilling that an inventory of their worldly goods are taken, and perhaps promised or given to others before they had suffered their execution…I have heard of stepping into dead men’s shoes, but while they are still warm!! a modern day prospective of mine I know, but Very Macabre…

    1. Dawn 1st – my thoughts exactly. The day the Inventory Folks came knocking at your door was never going to end well, was it? Your comment about stepping into dead men’s shoes while they are still warm sent a shiver down my spine!!!

      1. Thomas had many lands and incomes that came with those possessions.
        Its funny how history insists on recording him as just a menial servant of the King which clearly he wasn’t, there was much more to this guy than that.

        1. I don’t think history makes him out to be “menial” as everything I’ve read says that he was a gentleman of the privy chamber by 1533 and we know how important and influential a position like that was by the fact that Cardinal Wolsey did his purge with the Eltham Ordinances of 1519 to remove men he thought had too much influence over the king. A position like that was rewarded by the king with grants, land and titles, those were the perks of the job as well as the “intimacy” with the king that came with it.

  2. Funny, how there’s no mention of the alleged love letter Catherine sent to him.You would think that would be at the top of the list?

  3. I thought the fact that Henry was planning his marriage to Jane Seymour while Anne was in the Tower awaiting her death is the most chilling tale of all, Agnes Strickland says the wedding feast must have been in the oven baking for the woman who had been the servant of the one whose life blood was still running warm in her veins, whose life had suddenly been rendered by a single stroke…

  4. EMed

    I just find it strange that an important piece of evidence in the case against Catherine is not documented here.Perhaps, it is only a list for things of value but I was just questioning where it was documented that the letter was found among his possessions.I would imagine something like that was documented somewhere even if it was not used in the trial.

      1. I was just reading Lacey Baldwin Smith and noticed that he mentioned that Henry handled treason methodically and accurately.So,I just assumed that there would be some record or documentation about them finding the letter in his possession?If not here where would something like that have been documented?

  5. Why even bother with a trial, before the council or otherwise? Listing your goods may only have been in case you were found guilty, but it definately appears to say; we find you guilty and now we will have a hearing to say why we find you guilty. Of course not guilty until proven so is a recent and modern concept and actually very few places in the world use this. In Tudor times you the accused had to demonstrate that you were innocent, with very little hope of being able to do so.
    Having said this, the inventory itself is very interesting as a piece of social history as it shows the favour that a trusted groom and servant like Thomas Culpepper could rise to in royal service. Henry had granted him lands and status, personal gifts of caps and swords; he had monastic lands; manors, plate and several personal items of value. He would also have been given money and clothing and outfits for his status and his office. Henry was also fond of Culpepper which means that he must have been very upset, angry and shocked at his betrayal with his young wife. Chilling as doing an inventory of the belongings and lands of a person in a treason trial was; it was common practice because the process in a treason trial was not merely to establsh guilt but to expose the horrors of the nature of these betrayals in order to shock others from contemplating the same thing. Treason was seen as a henious crime and it was laid bare as such during a trial; guilt or innocence was not relevant as it had more than likely already been decided that the accused were guilty. Inventories were a bad sign, but as social documents they are valuable and fascinating insights to grants and status in Tudor England.

  6. BanditQueen

    Always interesting post as usual.I agree on a number of points among them that trials in Tudor times were more for proving innocence rather than guilt and that these types of inventories are fascinating.Because really, who doesn’t want to know what the rich and titled possess?

    I also want to point out that the Crown in treason cases not only confiscated things of value sometimes they seized everything as in the case of Thomas Howard,Duke of Norfolk.They even took his mistress’s beads,buttons and girdles.

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