Interrogatories to be ministered to the Duchess of Norfolk concerning her and the Queen

Thomas Wriothesley
Thomas Wriothesley

On 4th December 1541, Thomas Wriothesley and William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, wrote to Sir Ralph Sadler, Henry VIII’s principal secretary, regarding a visit they had made to Agnes Tilney, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk and step-grandmother of Queen Catherine Howard. They reported that “she was not so sick as she made out, but able enough to go to my lord Chancellor’s” so they advised her to go to Sir Thomas Audley, the Lord Chancellor, because he “had some questions for her”.

The next few records in Letters and Papers are various drafts of “Interrogatories to be ministered to the Duchess of Norfolk concerning her and the Queen” and the questions to be put to the Dowager Duchess included:

  • “Upon what occasion she took Dereham to her service?”
  • “In what place he served, how long, and for what wages?”
  • “What reward she gave him, when, and for what respect?”
  • “Whether she ever showed herself openly angry with him for any matter?”
  • “Whether she rebuked Derham for haunting the company of Mrs. Katharine, when, where, how often, and why?”
  • “Whether she ever saw any evil behaviour or light fashion in Dereham towards Mrs. Katharine?”
  • “Whether any of her house reported familiarity between Dereham and Mrs. Katharine, and of what sort, and whether she heard that he lay in or upon the bed with her?”
  • “Whether she ever said, when asked for Dereham, “You shall find him an you look in the gentlewomen’s chamber,” and why?”
  • “Whether she knew of Dereham’s going into Ireland, by whom, and when?”
  • “Whether before going he made a testament and delivered or sent it to her?”
  • “Whether it declared Dereham’s affection for Mrs. Katharine?”

Thomas Audley
Thomas Audley
  • “How soon after returning from Ireland he resorted to her, and whether she asked where he had been and why he departed without, her knowledge?”
  • “Whether he sued to her to get him into the Queen’s service?”
  • “Whether she sued to the Queen to take him?”
  • “Whether Dereham since his coming to the Queen’s service has reported to her the Queen’s goodness towards him?”
  • “Whether Dereham has carried any letter or token between her and the Queen, and how often?”
  • “What communication she has had with Damporte concerning Dereham and the Queen?”
  • “What communication she has had with the Queen, since her marriage, concerning Dereham?”
  • “What word she has spoken or heard in the Queen’s chamber concerning Dereham’s departure to Ireland, or touching him or the favour the Queen bore him; especially whether she heard by any belonging to the Court, then or before, that Dereham went into Ireland for Mrs. Katharine’s sake?”
  • “To whom, and by whom, she has sent to know the cause of Dereham’s apprehension, and the answers she received?”
  • “Whether anyone told her that a precontract should be proved between Dereham and the Queen “and so the matter should do well enough”; and what she answered?”
  • “Whether she reported such matter of the precontract, and to whom?”
  • “Whether she has taken advice of learned men as to the force of the last General Pardon?”
  • “How long has she had that pardon in print, who brought it to her, whether she read it, when she read it, who was present, and what communication took place at the reading of it?”
  • “Was Dereham’s coffer opened with the key, or picked, or broken?”
  • “Who opened it?”
  • “Who was present, was it opened more than once, and who kept the key?”
  • “What was taken out?”
  • “How much money was found in it”?
  • “What writings?”
  • “What was done with them?”
  • “Whether all the papers were searched over at one time or more, and by whom, and what was the effect of them?”
  • “Why was the coffer opened, and the writings searched?”
  • “Was it locked or nailed up again?”
  • “At what time of the day or night was it opened?”
  • “How many coffers of Dereham’s were in her house, and how long?”
  • “Who kept the keys of them?”
  • “Whether she knew Dereham was accused for a traitor before she opened the coffer, and when and by whom she knew it.”

The Duchess must have been terrified!

Twenty-six questions were also put to Katherine Daubeney, Lady Bridgewater (the Duchess’s daughter), and Francis Dereham was also interrogated, although he and Culpeper had already been found guilty of treason at a trial at London’s Guildhall on 1st December 1541.

You can read more about the Duchess’s interrogation in Marilyn Roberts’ article “Katherine Howard, the Duchess and Norfolk House”

Notes and Sources

  • LP xvi. 1408, 1409

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