Henry VIII Changes His Will – 30 December 1546


Henry VIIIOn this day in history, 30th December 1546, a rather unwell Henry VIII signed his last will and testament, authorising some changes made to the earlier 1544 document on the 26th December.

According to historian Eric Ives, the changes were made to ensure successful transfer of royal authority to his son Edward “and to provide for the preservation of that authority during the minority”. The changes made by William Paget on Henry’s behalf included:-

  • Changes to proposed titles and grants – For example, Ives writes of how “The strangest alteration of all affected Edward Seymour himself. The original proposal was to make him duke of Hertford and his son earl of Wiltshire. Paget amended this to: ‘duke of Somerset or Exeter or Hertford and his soonne erle of Wiltshire if he be duke of Hertford.'” There were also cancelled earldoms which affected John, Lord Russell, and William Paulet, and a cancelled barony for Sir Thomas Arundel.
  • Confirmation of those men who would form a council to advise his son Edward during his minority.
  • The addition of the Suffolk line, the offspring of Henry VIII’s sister, Mary Tudor, as heirs after Henry’s own children.

You can read more about the provisions of Henry VIII’s will in my article “Henry VIII’s Will” and you can read the will itself at British History Online – click here and scroll down to note 634 (LP xxi. Part 2. 634)

Those of you who are interested in Henry VIII’s will, Paget’s amendments and what happened when Edward VI came to the throne in January 1547 may want to read the articles by Eric Ives, Helen Miller and Ralph Houlbrooke:-

  • Henry VIII’s Will: The Protectorate Provisions of 1546-47, Eric Ives, The Historical Journal, 37, 4 (1994) available to download at Cambridge Journals
  • Henry VIII’s Unwritten Will, Helen Miller, in “Wealth and Power in Tudor England”, ed. E.W. Ives et al (London 1978)
  • Henry VIII’s Wills: A Comment”, R. Houlbrooke, The Historical Journal, 37/4 (1994), available to download at Cambridge Journals

Update 2015: I’d also highly recommend Suzannah Lipscomb’s excellent book on Henry VIII’s will, The King is Dead.

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12 thoughts on “Henry VIII Changes His Will – 30 December 1546”
  1. I believe he already knew he was going to die, but he would have to do his will before, poor prince Edward I think he would be a good king

  2. Claire would still like to no why Queen Elizabeth didnot re: Give the late Queen Anne, a state funerial,was it in the Kings will? Also will your new book be leather bound? Wishing you and yours Warmest Wishes New Year. Baroness Von Reis of Somerset

    1. As Impish and Emma have said, I think Elizabeth thought it was best not to draw attention to the fact that her mother was a convicted traitor and that she herself had been made illegitimate by her parents’ annulment. Best to let sleeping dogs lie and move on, Anne’s body was in a royal chapel after all.
      I doubt that my book will be leather bound. I’m at the stage where my agent wants me to rework my proposal a bit before he takes it to a publisher so it’s early days yet. Happy New Year!

  3. Baroness, I think it was more that Elizabeth had lots of people who didn’t want her on the throne, and that she was trying to emphasize that she was Great Harry’s daughter instead of reminding them her mother had been executed as a traitor.

  4. Because of the contraversy surrounding the validity or her parent’s marriage and her mother’s execution Elizabeth seems to have thought it best to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’. There was nothing in Henry’s will to prohibit her from re-burying her mother but I don’t suppose this is something he ever thought would be a possibility.

    1. Did they even know which was Anne’s body? Would they want to risk digging up the wrong body and burying , say, Jane Rochford as Elizabeth’s mother?

  5. T H X to all at the AB files for your thoughts on the matter of Elizabeth and her mother. I understand she didnot want to make waves. Warmest Regards Baronee Von Reis

  6. Spelling malfunction Baroness,I have had the flu and notfeeling myself,hopefully when I’m better will remember how it’s done. Baroness Von Reis

  7. I’ve read alot on this subject, who didn’t Henry have affairs with and how did he keep the will straight from each time he changed it. Mind you, Anne was’nt perfect, no one is, but being Lutheran and knowing about Martin Luther, and creating my church, I have to say, that Henry might thought Anne was a threat to his throne as a Lutheran believer. she liked Luther and his understanding. About Elizabeth I well, she was wise to keep the dog sleeping. she came to the throne with great danger to herself. she had so many enemies and some couldn’t wait to see her fall. Greatfully she didn’t and England hasn’t been the same. Granted, she never had children, she had her people. Like Elizabeth II she gained the love and loyality of her subjects. It would of been something, if Anne would of out lived Henry. wonder what the outcome of the will would of been.

  8. I have aquatint. Which has been bothering me: why did Henry’s wishes about the succession prevail even after Edwards death. Edward named the Grey line to succeed him, not Mary.

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