July 12 – Catherine Parr, Lady Latimer, marries King Henry VIII

On this day in Tudor history, 12th July 1543, the twice widowed Catherine Parr, Lady Latimer, married King Henry VIII as his sixth and final wife.

The thirty-one-year-old Catherine married fifty-two-year-old Henry in the Queen’s Closet of the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace.

In the video and transcript below, I share a contemporary account of the wedding service, and give details on who attended the ceremony.


On this day in Tudor history, 12th July 1543, the fifty-two-year-old King Henry VIII married thirty-one-year-old Catherine Parr, Lady Latimer, in the Queen’s Closet of the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace.

Here is an account of the service by Richard Watkins, the King’s prothonotary:
“On 12 July 1543, 35 year Henry VIII., in an upper oratory called “the Queen’s Privy closet” within the honor of Hampton Court, Westminster. diocese, in presence of the noble and gentle persons named at the foot of this instrument and of me, Richard Watkins, the King’s prothonotary, the King and lady Katharine Latymer, alias Parr, being met there for the purpose of solemnising matrimony between them, Stephen bishop of Winchester proclaimed in English (speech given in Latin) that they were met to join in marriage the said King and Lady Katharine, and if anyone knew any impediment thereto he should declare it.

The licence for the marriage without publication of banns, sealed by Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury and dated 10 July 1543, being then brought in, and none opposing but all applauding the marriage, the said bishop of Winchester put the questions (recited) to which the King, hilari vultu, [with a smiling face], replied “Yea”, and the lady Katharine also replied that it was her wish.

And then the King taking her right hand, repeated after the Bishop the words, “I, Henry, take thee, Katharine, to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us depart, and thereto I plight thee my troth.” Then, releasing and again clasping hands, the lady Katharine likewise said “I, Katharine, take thee Henry to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to be bonair and buxom in bed and at board, till death us depart, and thereto I plight unto thee my troth.”

The putting on of the wedding ring and proffer of gold and silver (described) followed; and the Bishop, after prayer, pronounced a benediction. The King then commanded the prothonotary to make a public instrument of the premises.”

Watkins also recorded who was present at the wedding: John, Lord Russell, keeper of the Privy Seal; Sir Anthony Browne, Captain of the King’s pensioners; Thomas Heneage; Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford; Henry Knyvet; Richard Long; Thomas Darcy; Edward Baynton; Thomas Speke; Anthony Denny; William Herbert, Catherine’s brother-in-law; the king’s daughters, Ladies Mary and Elizabeth; Margaret Douglas his niece; Katharine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk; Anne Stanhope, Countess of Hertford; Jane Dudley, Viscountess Lisle, and Anne Herbert, Catherine’s sister.

Catherine was King Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, and Henry was her third husband. Catherine had been widowed twice. Her first marriage had been to Edward Burgh (or Borough), son of Sir Thomas Burgh and grandson of Edward, 2nd Baron Burgh, whom she married in 1529. Burgh died in 1533 and Catherine went on to marry John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer of Snape in Yorkshire, in 1534. Latimer died in March 1543.
The king and Catherine’s marriage lasted until Henry VIII’s death on 28th January 1547 and Catherine went on to marry Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, just a few months later. Catherine died on 5th September 1548 at Sudeley Castle, just a few days after giving birth to a daughter, Mary.

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One thought on “July 12 – Catherine Parr, Lady Latimer, marries King Henry VIII”
  1. So we come to the last of Henry’s wives in the old nursery rhyme, divorced beheaded died, divorced beheaded survived, Catherine Parr was the daughter of Lord Thomas Parr of Kendal in Cumbria and his wife, Lady Maud Green, an educated and noble lady, kind gracious of sound common sense whom was twice widowed when she married King Henry V111, in the private queens chapel in the splendour of Hampton Court four hundred and seventy nine years ago she was to become the much married monarchs sixth and final queen, she was not a royal princess like her namesake and the kings first queen, neither was she a seductive termagant like his second, she did not give him a son like his third nor repulse him like his fourth and retire to a comfortable life of rustic solitude, neither was she a foolish young girl who loved too unwisely and lost her head because of it, she was around thirty two much wiser than many of the kings previous wives and had agreed to marry him as she believed it was her calling, so had many of them felt, and Catherine was aware that two had lost their heads to this contrary man who stood next to her, beaming with joy a wide grin spreading over his fleshy red face and thinning red hair, the Bishop of Winchester officiated at the wedding, ironically the same man who later tried to engineer her fall on charges of heresy, some of her family were there and other nobles, in all it seems like a small family wedding, Catherine Parr was known for years a a bit of a blue stocking, and a nursemaid which makes one conjure up a picture of a dowdy woman with her books and needlework, and administering potions to her sick spouses, she did care for her older second husband who had been quite infirm and it was this quality that Henry V111 found attractive, he was in ill health and she was known for her kindness and patience, it is hardly surprising he chose her for his next queen, and in fact she was nothing like the blue stocking or nursemaid of legend, she was well educated like Henry’s first two queens and also was the first queen to have her work published, but she was no swot she also mingled with reformers which nearly led her into trouble, but she had a frivolous side to, she was very fond of beautiful outfits and jewels and was said to be quite sensuous, her last marriage with Thomas Seymour she frolicked in the gardens and held the young Elizabeth her stepdaughter whilst Thomas cut her gown in many pieces, it was mere horseplay but it did not bode well for her husband, in the eighteenth century her discarded tomb was found and her face was well preserved, it was of much beauty it was noted and in her portrait by Holbein we can see she had a round little face with delicate features and chestnut hair, Henry V111’s last queen had been old enough to be his granddaughter and her betrayal had hurt him very much, with Catherine she was a much more mature lady, and it is to her credit that her step children all loved her, she nearly lost her head but for an incredible piece of sheer good luck which saw one of her ladies find the warrant for her arrest, she managed to get the king on her side and so she survived but she had come nearly close to the block, she soothed the king when he was in one of his bouts of ill temper brought on by his cursed leg, she helped dress the bandages and gave him wine and chatted to him, this must have been some feat because his leg gave out an awful stench and it was said you could smell the old king before you could see him, Catherine before marrying Henry was wed to Lord Latimer 111 Baron Latimer who was said to be complicit in the pilgrimage of grace, she had spent a terrifying time imprisoned with her two step children because of it so she had known her fair share of anxiety, he became infirm and died at the age of forty nine, more or less average by Tudor standards, her first husband had been Sir Edward Borough when she was a young girl and he died after just a few years of marriage, she was childless and possibly did not expect to become pregnant by the king who by now was possibly infertile anyway, she did survive Henry V111 as the nursery rhyme says, and she married this time for love her old beau the Admiral Sir Thomas Seymour, but wedded bliss was not for this lady, sadly she died in childbirth having lost faith in her husband and it seems their little daughter followed her, she is remembered as the queen who escaped the terrible ordeal fated for both Anne Boleyn and giddy Catherine Howard, the queen whom I believe Henry V111 found expendable because he did come to respect her, and admired her and when he went to France he left his realm in her care, a very attractive intelligent and spirited lady and like all of his wives, she had royal blood in her veins, a direct descendant of King Edward 111 said to be the greatest of all the Plantagenet kings, she was indeed well suited to be a Queen of England.

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