On this day in history, 15th January 1569, Lady Catherine Knollys (née Carey), wife of Sir Francis Knollys, daughter of Mary Boleyn and mother of Lettice Dudley, died at Hampton Court Palace.
Catherine had been taken ill with a fever at Christmas and her husband, who was at Bolton Castle, where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned, had asked Queen Elizabeth I and William Cecil for permission to leave and be with his wife. His request was denied after Catherine seemed to recover.
The Queen was distraught at her cousin’s death and spent £640 2s. 11d., a huge amount, on a lavish funeral at Westminster Abbey. Her alabaster monument can still be seen today in St Edmund’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey. The inscriptions on the tablet read:
“The Right Honorable Lady Katherin Knollys Cheeffe Lady of the Quenes Maties [Majesty’s] Beddechamber and wiffe to Sr. Frances Knollys Knight Tresorer [Treasurer] of her Highnes Howsholde. Departed this lyefe the 15. of January 1568. At Hampton Courte. And was honorably buried in the flower [floor] of this chappell. This Lady Knollys and the Lord Hundesdon her brother were the childeren of William Caree Esquyer, and of the Lady Mary his wiffe one of the doughters and heires to Thomas Bulleyne Erle of Wylshier [Wiltshire] and Ormond. Which Lady Mary was sister to Anne Quene of England wiffe to Kinge Henry the Eyght father and mother to Elizabeth Quene of England.”
“O, Francis, she who was thy wife, behold, Catherine Knolle lies dead under the chilly marble. I know well that she will never depart from thy soul, though dead. Whilst alive she was always loved by thee: living, she bore thee, her husband, sixteen children and was equally female and male (that is, both gentle and valiant). Would that she had lived many years with thee and thy wife was now an old lady. But God desired it not. But he willed that thou, O Catherine, should await thy husband in Heaven.”
Notes and Sources
- Katherine Knollys, Lady Carey, by Sally Varlow, Oxford DNB
- Katherine Knollys, Westminster Abbey