Henry Fitzroy Marries Mary Howard

Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset

On this day in history, 25th November 1533 (some say 26th), Henry Fitzroy, the Duke of Richmond and illegitimate son of Henry VIII, married Lady Mary Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, and the cousin of Anne Boleyn. Richmond and Mary were both 14 years of age.

You can read more about Henry Fitzroy in my article “The Death of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset” but here are some facts about him and Mary:-

  • They were both born in 1519
  • Richmond was the illegitimate son of Henry VIII and his mistress Elizabeth Blount (Bessie Blount)
  • Although in “The Tudors” series Richmond died in childhood, he actually died on 22nd July 1536 at the age of 17, probably from consumption (tuberculosis)

  • Henry Fitzroy was the 1st Duke of Richmond, the 1st Duke of Somerset and the 1st Earl of Nottingham. He was also made a Knight of the Garter, Lord High Admiral of England, Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle* (after George Boleyn’s fall), Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord President of the Council of the North, Warden of the Marches and Chamberlain of Chester and North Wales
  • “Fitzroy” means “son of the King” and was a name given to kings’ illegitimate sons
  • He was given a Renaissance education
  • Mary Howard, Duchess of Richmond
  • He accompanied Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII on their visit to France in Autumn 1532
  • Henry Fitzroy received his first title, Earl of Nottingam, at the age of six
  • He was friends with the poet Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, his future brother-in-law
  • Richmond was on the jury at Anne Boleyn’s trial in May 1536
  • Henry VIII led Richmond to believe that Anne Boleyn had tried to poison him and his half-sister, Mary
  • Richmond was buried at Thetford Priory in Norfolk but then moved to St Michael’s Church, Framlingham, Suffolk. He shares his tomb with his wife who was interred there in 1557
  • It is not known whether Fitzroy and Mary’s marriage was consummated – Henry VIII ordered the couple not to consummate their union because he believed that too much sexual activity at a young age may have killed off his brother, Arthur
  • Mary was imprisoned in the Tower of London, along with the rest of the Howard family, after the fall of her cousin, Catherine Howard. She was later released
  • Mary’s father, the Duke of Norfolk, petitioned for her to marry Thomas Seymour in 1538 and 1546 but although Henry VIII gave his approval Mary did not want to marry Seymour and her brother, the Earl of Surrey, also opposed the match
  • Mary fell out with her brother, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, when he suggested that she seduce the King
  • Mary gave evidence against her brother in the trial which led to his execution for treason
  • Mary stayed away from court after Henry VIII’s death and died in 1557

Sources and Further Reading

*Alison Weir writes of how Richmond was “appointed Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle in place of Rochford” and cites Beverley Murphy “Bastard Prince: Henry VIII’s Lost Son”(2001) but Letters and Papers records Sir Thomas Cheyney being appointed Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle in May 1536 (LP x.898, 1015)

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14 thoughts on “Henry Fitzroy Marries Mary Howard”
  1. Was the Earl of Surrey as crazy as he seemed in “The Tudors”? I couldn’t figure out if he was a snob, a very sarcastic person, or a risk taker, which is why he lost 500 men in a battle.

    1. If you mean did he really go around breaking windows and getting into trouble, yes, he was fined and put in the Fleet prison at least twice for such drunken behaviour. However, I don’t believe he was a snob because a snob is someone who pretends to be better than anyone else while he was just being what he was a noble man, looking at new men who had risen from nowhere. An inverted snob is an ordinary person who thinks the rich are snobs and goes on about it. I had a friend who would not go to a high class party they had s free invitation to because she thought they were too good for her, while the opposite was true. She was very snobbish about everything. Yes, he did have some childish pranks but he was also a decent soldier.

  2. Whoa! That is the first reference I have read to Henry giving false information to someone who served on Anne’s jury – namely to Fitzroy that Anne was trying to poison Mary and him.

    So much for Henry’s “ignorance” in this case of the false charges against Anne!


  3. I’m glad to learn of the books about Henry Fitzroy.Interesting that Henry’s illegitimate sone and his legal heir both died in their teens, possibly from similar illnesses. Wonder what things would have been like if Fitzroy had lived and taken over after Edward’s death. Or would Mary have been next? Hard to say as all were declared bastards. I love the ‘what ifs’!

  4. to Anne Barnhills comment that both Henry’s sons died in their mid teens, i think she may be onto something, come to think of it Henry’s younger brother Arthur also died at about the same age, is there some sort of preposition to death in young males amongst Henry’s family? Maybe, maybe not.

    What do you guys think?

    1. We don’t actually know that Henry Carey was Henry VIII’s son. If either of Mary’s children belonged to Henry then it would be Catherine as she was born when it is thought that Mary was in a relationship with the King (c1523/1524). Henry Carey was born in 1526 so rather late for him to have belonged to Henry VIII.

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