What Happened to Lady Mary Seymour? – Guest Post and Giveaway
Posted By Claire on July 23, 2012
Today we have a guest post from Sandra Byrd, author of “The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr”, and a giveaway! To celebrate the success of her novel, Sandra is giving away a pair of Anne Boleyn Ivory Pearl Drop Earrings to one lucky person who leaves a comment on this article before midnight* on Thursday 26th July. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Friday in the comments thread below.
“The Secret Keeper” is a wonderful novel and you can read my review on our book review site – click here. Over to Sandra…
What Happened to Lady Mary Seymour
by Sandra Byrd
Lady Mary Seymour was the only child of Queen Kateryn Parr and her fourth husband, Thomas Seymour. Parr died of childbed fever shortly after giving birth to Mary, and the baby’s father, Thomas Seymour, was executed for treason just a few short years thereafter. But what happened to their child, who seems to have vanished without trace into history? This is an enduring mystery.
The last known facts about the child include that her father, Thomas Seymour, did ask as a dying wish, that Mary be entrusted to Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk and that desire was granted. Willoughby, although a great friend of Mary Seymour’s mother, Queen Kateryn Parr, viewed this wardship as a burden, as evidenced by her own letters. According to Parr’s biographer Linda Porter, “In January, 1550, less than a year after her father’s death, application was made in the House of Commons for the restitution of Lady Mary Seymour…she had been made eligible by this act to inherit any remaining property that had not been returned to the Crown at the time of her father’s attainder. But in truth, Mary’s prospects were less optimistic than this might suggest. Much of her parents’ lands and goods had already passed onto the hands of others.”
The 500 pounds required for Mary’s household would amount to approximately 100,000 British pounds, or 150,000 US dollars today, so you can see that Willoughby had reason to shrink from such a duty. And yet the daughter of a Queen must be kept in commensurate style. There were many people who had greatly benefitted from Parr’s generosity. None of them stepped forward to assist Baby Mary.
Biographer Elizabeth Norton says that, “The council granted money to Mary for household wages, servants’ uniforms, and food on 13 March, 1550. This is the last evidence of Mary’s continued survival.” Susan James says Mary is, ” probably buried somewhere in the parish church at Edenham.”
Most of Parr’s biographers assume that Mary died young of a childhood disease. But this, by necessity, is speculative because there is no record of Mary’s death anywhere: no gravestone, no bill of death, no mention of it in anyone’s extant personal or official correspondence. Parr’s biographer during the Victorian ages, Agnes Strickland, claimed that Mary lived on to marry Edward Bushel and become a member of the household of Queen Anne, King James I of England’s wife.
Various family biographers claimed descent from Mary, including those who came down from the Irish shipping family of Hart. This family also claimed to have had Thomas Seymour’s ring which was inscribed, What I Have, I Hold, till early in the twentieth century. I have no idea if that is true or not, but it’s a good detail and certainly possible.
According to an article in History Today by biographer Linda Porter, Kateryn Parr’s chaplain, John Parkhurst, published a book in 1573 entitled, Ludica sive Epigrammata juvenilia. Within it is a poem that speaks of someone with a “queenly mother” who died in childbirth, child of whom now lies beneath a marble after a brief life. But there is no mention of the child’s name, and 1573 is twenty-five years after Mary’s birth. It hints at Mary, but does not insist.
Fiction is a rather more generous mistress than biography, and I was therefore free to wonder. Why would the daughter of a Queen and the cousin of the King not have warranted even a tiny remark upon her death? In an era when family descent meant everything it seemed unlikely that Mary’s death would be nowhere definitively noted. Far less important people, even young children, had their deaths documented during these years; my research turned up dozens of them.
Edward Seymour requested a state funeral for his mother, as she was grandmother to the King (which was refused). Would then the death of the cousin of a King, and the only child of the most recent Queen, not even be mentioned? The differences seem irreconcilable. Then, too, it would have been to Willoughby’s advantage to show that she was no longer responsible for the child if she were dead.
The turmoil of the time, in which Mary’s uncle the Lord Protector was about to fall, the fact that her grandmother Lady Seymour died in 1550, and the lack of motivation any would have had to seek the child out lest they then be required to then pay for her upkeep, all added up to a potentially different ending for me. The lack of solid facts allowed me to give Mary a happy ending in my novel, The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, an ending I feel is entirely possible given Mary’s cold trail, and one which I feel both “Kate” and Mary deserved.
*Midnight US Eastern time.
143 thoughts on “What Happened to Lady Mary Seymour? – Guest Post and Giveaway”
Hmm….very interesting! I do wonder what happened to her!
Has anyone seen the ring that the shipping family claim to have?
This novel sounds like a great read, Katherine Parr is a neglected heroine in historical fiction, in my opinion, and I’m off to find this book! As for little Mary Seymour – maybe she did have a happy ending. It’s nicer to imagine that than to assume she died young, anyway.
I’ve actually just started Porter’s book so will be adding what seems a fascinating read to my ‘must read’ list!
Amazing someone so important could vanish without a trace! I’m interested in hearing what fiction will say about her 🙂
Definetly a book I will remember for when I have to read books for my English class. I really wonder why someone that important could just vanish from history..
Read this book it was very very good. It’s nicer to think that the child survived. I recommend this book to those who haven’t read it along with To Die For both really good reads.
As an avid reader of all that us Tudor I will shortly be downloading this book. A new mystery to be solved.
I am now interested in reading more of Lady Mary Seymour, I enjoy reading material of those not so well known or written about in history. Thank for the great articles and all the great information.
Considering that Thomas Seymour was executed as a traitor (as was Edward?) then their estates and monies would have been forfeit to the crown, wouldn’t they? That would mean that little Mary fell on hard, hard times, as if being orphaned young wasn’t enough!
I’ve been curious about little baby Mary for a long time, and I have to admit my imagination often runs wild. I’d like to think that she survived into adulthood….
interesting! i love imagining what became of such people, seems as though she disappeared off the face of the earth!
Interesting article! I, too would like to think that Mary Seymour’s life had a happy ending. With all of the tragedy that accompanied her first years, she deserved happiness!
I, too, hope that Mary did live longer than it is thought.. I hope she had a happy life. It’s a shame her mother died giving birth and then nobody wanted to take care of her..
I loved Thomas Seymour’s motto “What I have, I hold”!
What a shame that we have no true record of the story of such an interesting and once important person! I guess this is what makes it exciting to be a lover of history and mystery!
I don’t think we’ll ever know what happened to Mary.
What a tantalizing mystery! I’d like to think things ended happily for her but I fear things may have been far less so. Curious, also, about the ring claim. How delightful it would be to come across such a treasure today!
How I love a good mystery – even when it’s hundreds of years old, and chances are darned good all we can do is “speculate”…but it’s fun nonetheless. Thank you for some really good scholarship!
I would think that if Mary did, in fact, die at a young age, something would have been written or decreed or some tomb-marker located by now. Is it possible that whoever ultimately bore the responsibility of raising her simply wanted her to lead a happy life away from court drama? Being the daughter of a “traitor” would not have been an easy life anyhow. Maybe someone loved her (and her mother??) enough to protect her.
This is interesting – I’ve always thought that Catherine Parr’s child died as a very young child, not long after her. This is a must read book added to my summer reading list. Poor child, deprived of both parents at such an early age. I wonder how many theories there are about what happened to Lady Mary Seymour. Very interesting article! Hope to read more! -S.
Sounds like a fascinating book! I’ve put it on my “To Read” list! It’s so sad when a person slips between the cracks of time after being a child deprived of both parents and then thrust upon someone who didn’t even want her. It’s nice when little gaps in history leave historical fiction writers room to play, but the real mystery remains! (Also, beautiful earrings!!)
I like to think that Mary Seymour was adopted by one of the extended Seymour clan and grew up ,got married and had children.
Another mystery and so much speculation. Oh to know, what really was the truth.
This is a fascinating subject and I hope Mary’s legacy will be researched further as time goes on.
Very interesting article! I have never read anything about Mary Seymour’s life and this is facinating. “To Die For” was a fantastic read and I suspect “The Secret Keeper” will be even better. I have not read as many books on Catherine Parr and look forward to this book.
I have always wondered what happened to Mary Seymour. Maybe relatives or friends created the disappearance based on what was happening to the Seymour’s. That was a volatile time for the Seymour’s. After Princess Mary became Queen the country was torn apart because of religion it would have been wise to hide as Kate Parr was a known reformist/protestant and so were the Seymour’s.
So many people that were leading politicians etc in Henry 8ths reign were executed in his son Edwards reign as well as Mary’s reign.
So, hopefully little Mary Seymour was whisked off and protected somewhere where the English monarchy could not reach her.
I also wonder if there wasn’t some dispute as to whether or not Mary Seymour was Henry’s daughter. Kate Parr married very quickly after he died – so the reigning nobility might have thought that Mary was Henry’s and therefore a threat to the throne.
Mary Tudor had civilized relationship with the queen. She loved children and young people. She forgave Jane Grey and Dorset for plotting, they were defiant, she had to chop off their heads. I cannot see her harming Mary Seymour, perhaps she would try to convert her, but nor hurt. Mary Tudor had a sense of duty and justice. Before anyone starts on about Bloody Mary, she dispatched very few compering to Elizabeth. After all, queen Mary did not dispose of other Grey sisters, or Howards or Courteneys etc. Now, had Mary Seymour been alive under Elizabeths rule, she might have been in the Tower and died there. Grey sisters were there, Arabella Stuart ended badly. Elizabeth was so insecure she could not risk anyone, including her relatives to look towards the crown. Consequently, she killed and destroyed far more people than Mary ever did. In case of Elizabeth its irrelevant that she was (or not) fond of Thomas Seymour, or the queen. Doubt she felt guilty about her affair with the queens husband, this is also irrelevant. She did what she had to do and unlike Mary wasn’t given to soft emotions. Perhaps we should look for records of prisonners and deaths in the Tower?
Its unlikely Elizabeth would have banished Mary Seymour to the Tower because although little Mary was a Seymour and a Queen (Dowager’s) daughter, she had no actual royal blood to pose such a threat to the Crown.
What a fascinating article! I also hope she lived long and had a very happy life. She fell on hard time when her father was executed so I hope she was able to live comfortably and that she found happiness in whatever happened to her. I’m anxious to find out more about her as well.
In the back of my mind, I have always wanted to know about the child the queen had, but have never followed up with it. This story will change that for me! I find the whole idea of someone of importance just vanishing without a trace extrememly fasciinating, and look forward to learning more about Mary.
Sandra Byrd writes in such a manner that the reader is left fulfilled.
Considering who her parents were, I agree it’s very odd that there is no mention at all of her death, but it’s also just as odd that there’s no mention of her being alive either. You’d think that if she married or joined someone’s household, that it would be mentioned somewhere. Very odd indeed.
Always wondered what happened to her, thanks for writing about her 🙂
Fascinating article! I never really thought about the child and what happened to her. Just downloaded samples to my Kindle….I’m sure I will be purchasing this book and To Die For. I am looking forward to more about her.
I don’t find it surprising that there isn’t a paper trail about Mary. While her mother was a Queen, she was not entitled to any hereditary claims to the royal line- only if she were a daughter of the Queen by the King, which she was not. Also, it’s a sad fact that trying to find information on the women of that age is very hard, indeed. Records are sparse.
I’ve often wondered what became of her. I always hoped she had the happy life her mother wished for.
Another intriguing facet of Henry VIII’s story!
How very sad that little Mary seems to have disappeared into history! The idea that she came from such love (on her mother’s side at least) and then lost both her parents so young, only to not be wanted by anyone else because they didn’t want to pay for her is just tragic! If she did live it must have been hard to feel so lost and if she died and her burial and death went unrecorded….well that is just too sad for words.
I haven’t read The Secret Keeper yet but I have it on my nightstand and cannot wait to read it in the next month or so! I loved Sandra’s first book and I look forward to reading more reading about Kateryn Parr and her little girl in the new one!
Very interesting I’ll have to read up on her and get this book!
Interesting. I too wonder what happened to Catherine Parr’s daughter. It is nice to think she had a happy ending with a husband and children and descendants alive to this day. It is odd that there is not mention of her death as a child but also wonder why there is not record of death at any age.
Would love to know what happened to Mary —- I am a “fact” person and adore this history..
Sounds like a great novel! I think the happy ending will be perfect!
I have often wondered what happened to Kathryn’s baby! I took the rout that aparently history wanted us to take and thought she had passed away. Thank you so much for this article! It really made me think and I am definitely going to read the book! A happy ending is nice, as reality for those involved not always was so happy!
I have always been fascinated by Mary Seymour and was actually sad when I heard she likely died as a toddler. It stunned me to learn later of some actual theories that she had survived to adulthood. Since no one knows and can never dispute, I like to think she lived. She had such an amazing mother and and it’s a shame Catharine never got to see her child grow up.
How sad that someone in the family would not have wanted to care for this child as her mother was a respected and caring person! Always seems to be about money. Laureen
Another great mystery of Tudor England. Perhaps Queen Mary had something to do with the disappearance from history of the toddler child of a Protestant Reformer & a traitor. Can’t wait to read the book!
Great post! I look forward to reading your novel. There has always been a part of me that hoped that little Mary did not die as a infant.
Lack of any detail to her life might have been unavoided since her prospects were uncertain and she was a liability to her caretaker, but not even one note of of her death might have pointed to intent, or lack thereof. They might have been so uninterested in her care that they never mentioned her in her death. It is also possible that she got whisked away to another life, probably solitary and quiet, no knowledge of her own history unless it’s the first few bedtime stories she might not even remember or whispered gossips along corridors. There are two endings I can take away from Lady Mary Seymour’s story, either she was born in grandeur and loved as the latest of Queen Katharine Parr’s legacy, died young and remembered as such; or lived long enough to understand the tragedy of what she lost, and we can only speculate if she liked this tragedy better that way, and died unnoticed even by those who seek to find her in our time today. We may never know of these persons of history, the ones that captivate us in the mystery of their deaths or disappearances. Maybe I’ll pick up one of the historical fiction books on her or her mother to sate this new curiosity of mine. From what I just read “The Secret Keeper” might be a good place to start.
Many many years ago, reading a historical account of Catherine Parr’s death, I recall it stated that Mary died (either) four days or four weeks after her Mother, and that Thomas Seymour was said to be ‘distraught by the blow’. The belief in this account was that the baby was buried with her Mother. I wish I could remember the reference but unfortunately it was so long ago.
As I also recall however Catherine Parr’s body was exhumed in a ‘remarkable state of preservation’ at some point, and no mention was made of a baby’s body being in the coffin with her. However when she was re-exhumed for further examination some years later, the corpse had deteriorated severely following the earlier exposure to the air.
Another reason I wish there was a way to go back in time and see what happened during certain events and what happened to certain people. Yet another mystery that will always leave us with the ‘what if??’
I have read ‘The secret keeper” and can highly recommend it. I choose to believe that the child went on to live a quiet life hidden away from the politics and danger of those times.
This sounds like a fabulous book and a brilliant query into lesser known Tudor facts. Women were so neglected in public records. After all, we have no accurate date for Anne Boleyn’s birth, so missing the date of Mary’s death may not be so strange, given the time. Personally, I like to think that Mary’s safety was secured so she could have a live. Her protestant roots would make her vulnerable in Mary’s reign, but desirable in Elizabeth’s — particularly since there was a close bond between Elizabeth and her last stepmother. I like to think that Mary was protected with a new identity, perhaps including a marriage, perhaps being sent to Calais, another country, or relative obscurity. I think we’re looking for Mary to surface… and the easiest way to keep her safe from surfacing is to change her name. Unless she was a complete doppelgänger for her mother, no one would suspect her to be Mary and may have been able to live a “normal” life under another name. I’d be looking for obscure references to someone lacking lineage who Elizabeth remembered regularly in monies or Christmas.
I am new to reading and exploring anything “Tudor”. Needless to say I am hooked and facinated by everything I’ve read so far. I too have wondered what happened to Mary. I will be reading more and so looking forward to another great book to add to my collection. This is a mystery that I hope will be solved in the future.
Loved both of Sandra’s books & her fresh take on the Tudors. I highly recommend both books!
Another Tudor mystery! History can be so frustrating at times. The most obscure information on fairly unimportant people can be found, but substantiated information on someone so close to Henry VIII is missing. Deliberate? Perhaps.
I am so disappointed in myself that I never even delved into the disappearance of this young girl in the history chapters! Well my curiosity is peaked!! Thank you for sharing this wonderful post! I look forward to reading your book and I am going to do a little research.
This is a great post about Mary Seymour and I really enjoyed reading it! I currently volunteer at Sudeley Castle once a week, (which of course is where Mary was born and where Katherine Parr is buried), so understandably you do get asked a lot of questions regarding Mary and what happened to her.
I love Katherine Parr and therefore I have always wondered about what happened to her daughter. Of course, you do wish that Mary did live on to live a happy life like she did in Sandra’s novel, and hopefully something would turn up in the future giving us the real answer!
This post was really interesting and helpful, so thank you very much! 😀
This is such an intriguing point. I even wonder that Elizabeth didn’t try to aid the child in some way during her reign. Given that she was so close to Kate, even after the fiasco with Seymour, maybe a motherless girl would be of interest to the motherless Bess. So interested to read your book now. Great article!
Interesting. I`ve often wondered what became of Mary, weird that no information is available. It`d be nice to find out what happened.
In those time, a child could disappear very easily. She could have died, as has been suggested, and her death just not recorded. She could also have been given to another family to raise as theirs, even a peasant family, and if she were young enough at the time, she would probably not remember her previous life. Whatever, it makes for great conversations and speculations, not to mention good novels.
Great article! I wonder if Seymour was overlooked simply because she was a girl.
I was over reading the Review & this book sounds wonderful It would be interesting to me to find out what happened to Mary.
And, again, the cover is lovely.
Thank you so much for tackling this infuriating mystery. (I wonder why on earth Sky History channel Producers have not seen the incredible potential for a documentary on this subject?)
I raised the question of ‘what’ exactly was thought to have happened to Lady Mary Seymour on another Tudor website and received the response from one contributor that she must have died as a youngster as Royal children don’t just vanish from history. I think I added that by the same token their death would not be permitted to go totally unrecorded either! I look- up this subject periodically and way back in the late 90’s there was a ripple of excitement online when a Tudor historian seemed pretty sure he had just found the direct descendant of Mary Seymour and intended to prove it -but after that the story went cold.
One theory that may hold water, is that having been raised as a Protestant, when Mary Tudor ascended the throne Mary Seymour’s life and livelihood would have been endangered so possibly she was smuggled out of the country? In this event she may have lived, married and eventually even died overseas? Going back to the contributor who said that “Royal-children-don’t just vanish” etc, it’s perhaps also important to remember that strictly speaking Mary was NOT Royal. Kate Parr was never a Royal in her ‘own’ right and was never crowned either. When she remarried as a widow she was merely a Dowager. Thomas Seymour, albeit brother of Jane Seymour (who was also uncrowned incidentally ) was only a ‘Sir’ so their daughter Mary was probably barely nobility and as such her demise may have been recorded altogether more modestly – or not at all.
Can’t wait to read your book. Well done!
Actually, Hayley, Thomas Seymour was not just a Knight of the Garter: shortly after the death of Henry VIII, he was given the title of Baron Seymour of Sudeley. The daughter of a disgraced baron and a queen dowager may have had some sort of death record, but it could have been destroyed over the years.
Definitely want to read “The Secret Keeper” as well — I have “To Die For” on my Nook already. Bravissima!
An interesting point, thank you.
In Tudor times, as far as I’m aware, if found guilty of Treason, your lands, goods and titles were usually forfeit to the Crown? (In earlier years this had proved to be a nice-little-earner for Henry VIII ) -and at Seymour’s trial, the Prosecution was particularly vicious in it’s attempt to discredit him beyond any shadow of a doubt. I also understand that with the death of Thomas, his title of Baron of Sudely then passed to Katherine Parr’s brother.
‘Baron’ is the lowest ranking Peerage -so even if her father’s reputation had remained intact, it seems unlikely that poor little Mary would have gained much long term personal Kudos from his title -especially as she suffered the ultimate handicap for that era -being born a female.
I have always been intrigued by Mary Seymour’s sudden disappearance from recorded history. Seems that had she died, she would have been buried near her mother. I definitely plan to read this book!
Intriguing! Good point too, Jessica Rodriguez, about Elizabeth’s role in things. You would think she’d have taken some kind of interest in Lady Mary, but perhaps she was trying to distance herself emotionally from her stepmother and the Seymours given events. I can’t wait to read Sandra’s book.
It’s very interesting that Mary Seymour’s death should have gone unrecorded. It reminds me of the death of Mary Boleyn. She was the mistress of a King and sister to a former Queen of England, not to mention a member of the Howard and Boleyn family. I understand the Howards and Boleyns did not enjoy the favor they’d been accustomed to after Anne’s death, but it still seems strange that we should not know the cause of Mary’s death, or where she is buried. Mary Seymour is a similar mystery. It could be that since her mother was no longer the “official” queen, coupled with Thomas Seymour’s execution, could have downgraded the child’s status in English aristocracy. Plus the deaths of infants and children were common, thus her death was not afforded the attention it should have received. Unfortunately we may never know! It would be interesting to do some in-depth research on her.
This has really sparked my interest. I assmued that she had died as a baby or as a very small child but I wrongly assumed that there was evidence to back this up. It would be great to know what became of her. R.I.P Mary Seymour, you are going to be in my thoughts alot more now
First book I’ve ever heard of about Mary Seymour. I plan to read it with great interest! Thanks for the review.
It is an interesting point that, though related to the royal family there is no clear answer as to what happened to her after her father’s death. I’ll be sure to read this book!
I have often wondered why Princess Mary or Princess Elizabeth did not petition their brother King Edward to have their stepmother’s child join either of their households. Edward could have asked his uncle, the Lord Protector, to step in and make her a royal ward, especially since she was the only child of his late uncle Thomas Seymour.
It seems odd that the children of Henry VIII, all of which enjoyed a great relationship with Katherine Parr, would not have had any statements about Mary Seymour. I assume that she was probably even named for Princess Mary.
Somehow I wonder if she did not survive into adulthood and preferred to live a quite life away from the intrigues of the court, which indirectly caused her father’s death (due to his insatiable ambition).
Mary disapproved of Katherine’s marriage to Seymour so may not have had much immediate empathy over the fate of their child.
Elizabeth was too busy savng herself from the ensuing scandal and accusations to be able to extend any charity to the child.
I suppose the fact that neither of them took any interest in her later on would suggest that she did indeed die young.
I have often wondered about the fate of Mary. I would like to like that she survived and went on to a happy life after the death of her parents.
I meant to say I would like to think she survived and went on to a happy life after the death of her parents.
Loved both of your books and can’t wait until Queen of Hearts” comes out next year.
I, too, assumed that she did not survive long after birth (same as her mother). I had not encountered a name for her before this, either.
As an avid Tudor biography reader (ANY Tudor biography will do), I’m really surprised this one got past me.
Thank you for the insight!
I can definitely understand the disbelief that the child of a former queen would not warrant some form of record at death (as a child or as an adult). Would it be more likely that her death and any major life events were recorded in some way, but that the records themselves were lost, given that at the time there was not the easy access to data storage and duplication we have today? One tragic flood or fire could conceivably wipe out invaluable historical data.
I’m glad to see that little Mary has not been forgotten, at least!
Fascinating! I’m really enjoying your writing Sandra.
I am still reading the first book (To Die For) and I love it and I love the way I feel when I read about Tudor history, it gives me a feeling of peace inside of me and i don’t really know why
I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this book. Love Love Love all things Tudors.
I enjoyed Sandra’s book very much & I loved that Mary got a happy ending. I too wonder what became of her & I think it’s odd there was no mention of her death anywhere. I hope someday we find out!
I loved “To Die For” and can’t wait to read “The Secret Keeper”! It’s about time for a decent novel about Kateryn Parr. I’ve only read Jean Plaidy’s “The Sixth WIfe”. I like Jean Plaidy and all but she never mentions dates and she tends to over-romanticize her subjects. I’m eager to hear Sandra Byrd’s theory about Mary Seymour’s fate!
Another Tudor mystery, poor little thing, she never got to know, see and be with her mother, how she would have been educated and loved if Catherine Parr had lived.
Out of curiosity where was Katherine Willoughby living when she took wardship of baby Mary? does anyone know.
Great article! I’ve often wondered what happened to Mary Seymour, and glad to see there’s other interest out there… if only there were more clues! To me the saddest part is the irony of Queen Katherine/Catherine/Kateryn Parr assuming the role and doing a beautiful job mothering the motherless – Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward – and extending that nurturing nature to even more – Lady Jane – but didn’t have the opportunity to provide the same for her own, very much desired child. How sad that no others stepped in, when clearly so many people were indebted to her many great kindnesses.
I agree. There was foul play here. All we need do is look at who had the most to gain– the Duchess. What a tragic tragic and sad story . Poor little angel.
But there’s no evidence at all of foul play and it is much more likely, in an age of high infant mortality, that Mary died of disease. The Duchess applied for funds and would have got them, so there was no need for her to murder the child even if she was that type of person, and there’s nothing in what we know about Catherine Willoughby to suggest that she was that type of person. She was saddled with a household that was costing her an awful lot of money, but that doesn’t mean that she would resort to murder.
Thought provoking article Sandra! I’ve never actually thought about what happened to Mary Seymour, where did you get your sources? 🙂
Btw, read To Die For just the other day, looooved it! 🙂
// Cerena 14 yrs
Last week, we heard about the unfortunate woman (forgot her name) who lost both of her sons within an hour of one another! I must have “brain-freeze”from this Migraine! But there is a happy ending for her! She went on to have 2 more of her own children and became the gaurdian of poor little Mary! So I can only hope she had a happy Life and lived on to marry well and have chidren,who are some kind of cousin to Tobin Guy! LOL
Mary Seymour is the stepdaughter of husband of 1st great grand niece of wife of my 1st cousin 19x removed… long ways away, but still in the family. 🙂
I had assumed that Mary probably died as a young child or even an infant and that the documents associated with her have not been found or did not survive. I can understand Catherine wanting more money if she thought the child needed a large household. Unless further evidence shows up this will ultimately remain a mystery.
Great article. I did not know anything about Mary Seymour at all but I always thought ot was so sad that Katherine Parr finally had a child with the man she loved, only to lose her life so soon afterwards. Looking forward to reading the new book.
first of all thank you to sanda byrd for this amazing book ,the secret keeper ,and also thank you to claire for the anne boleyn files i have never learned so much about the tudor era as much as on this site ,as like everyone on this site i check it every day .To little mary seymour i hope you had a good life however long and are now at eternal rest with your lovely mother r.i.p catherine and her little mary.
I hope Mary Seymour had a happy ending. I feel there would have been a death record if she had died. Perhaps she was sent out of the country for a few years and raised by another family.
Great article, Sandra! You do an excellent job of summarizing the Mary Seymour question. I can’t wait to see the potential answer you propose in _The Secret Keeper_.
I agree that any “evidence” that hints at Mary’s death is dubious at best. The fact that NO ONE mentions her fate makes me think that all the important people at court during this time went to great lengths to conceal it. Yes, she could have died, but the conspicuous silence “doth protest too much, methinks.”
I would think that Katherine Parr would have been a caring mother to her only daughter if she had survived. She took great care and interest in King Henry’s children, and I am sure they, in return, appreciated her.
The mystery of Mary Seymour has interested me for a few years now. This was a great article and I look forward to any follow-ups!
One of my most favourite mysteries. I would love to discover the answer and would also like to know for sure that Mary survived and had a family of her own. Not only is her life a mystery but the life of her Mother is equally as tragic at the end with her love for Seymour.
I loved your ending to The Secret Keeper.
Intresting article ! I should read more on Katherine Parr’s cildren ! : )
I absolutely loved this book, pre-ordered it and sat up all night reading it! Reviewed it on my blog as well 🙂 I love how Sandra Byrd brings the characters to life. I am currently diving into the Mary Seymour mystery and I am seriously considering writing my PhD. dissertation on it! Thank you Sandra!
Thank you so much for this article! I’d read that Catherine Parr had a child, but no trace to her fate was ever uncovered. I’d never really thought over it much, as this happened to many historical figures or relations of historical figures. I’d like to think perhaps she was taken out of the country as someone else here suggested, so perhaps there is still some hope of a death record somewhere out there!
What an interesting article!! I have never really given much thought to this child. How sad! It has really sparked my interest and I look forward to reading this!
I have always wanted to know more about what happened to Mary. This will be the next book I read. Thank you so much for this article. You have re-sparked my intrigue! I love getting lost in this world.
How sad to have someone completely disappear from history. I can’t help but think her mother, the queen, must have been heartbroken to leave her. When she died she probably still had great hopes for her only child. It would make sense that she was buried near her mother. I wonder why she wasn’t. Looking forward to reading the book as soon as our library system gets it.
I have always been intrigued and saddened by this mystery because I felt little Mary didn’t get the love she deserved. Katherine Willoughby’s hesitancy to take her in always made me wonder if she was ill-treated. I have even thought someone might have done away with her and buried her secretly. I’ll be very anxious to read Sandra’s book and see where her imagination takes the story.
I am soo looking forward to reading this novel…You have grabbed my attention…thanks so much for the review
Thanks so much, everyone, for reading the post and wondering right along with me! I do hope this mystery is solved definitively, but there are many trails that have gone cold. I have solved it one way, fictionally, so that was a great privilege.
Thank you very much to all who have read and enjoyed the book, and I hope those of you who have mentioned you’d like to give it a go will enjoy it, too!
how lovely the more i learn about these things the more excited i am and wish i was there
It is too bad we will never know for sure. How intriguing!
Very intriguing article. I have just recently fell in love with this period of history and trying to learn as much as possible about the times and people of the Tudor era. The more I learn the more I realize how little I know and that is what kindles the fire! It saddens me to know somethings I may never learn the truth of. But I won’t give up, just dig deeper!
I propose that Mary was sent abroad. The Willoughby’s would be very pleased to send her off to someone elses checkbook and as daughter of a loved wife of Henry emodied some cache amoungst royal courts one would think, especially Protestant Courts.Then as with anything in those days, there is the religious element. Mary would have done well under the short rule of Edward/Jane but then came the other Mary. There may have been some sisterly affection for Mary because KP had been a facilitator of family unity. Mary was also apparently very fold of children. Mary had the double shine of being a child and daughter of KP, two things whihc may have endeared her to Mary. But religion was all for her and so let us suppose that young Mary began to be more protestant than sentimental aquaintance. Going aborad would have presented the small Mary with the safety available on the continent. Or at the very least the guardians of little Mary could use her “safety” under Catholic Mary as an excuse to take her off the payroll so to speak.
Finished the book a week ago and love the “happy ending” Sandra gave to Mary Seymour. I would love to think is true. Another mystery of the era and one I have thought about, why no record? No one cared and Kate Parr was so good to people, yet no one would step up and take care of her poor orphan daughter!
I look forward to Sandra Byrd’s next book, loved the two out having read both. Thank you for a great article.
Yet another unsloved mistery,for Mary to have just vanished,back in the day if they wanted you gone you were gone,maybe sent to the new world or murderd.Henry was like the mafia in his way, and good at it to. With great hope they didnot harm this child,but I fear the it may have been a very bad outcome,as they say someone knows,to bad you could not tell those nastey little secrets. If you did you were gone to , that I am sure of. Kind Regards Baroness.
I have often wondered what fate Mary Symour faced if she survived to become an adult. Was she regulated to an unhappy, arranged marriage at the first opportunity? Made the companion of a Lady only to live a solitary, unmarried and unloved life in the house of another; treated as no more than a servant? Or prehaps she married young but for love to a man not of noble birth and therefore not worthy of mention who cherished her and with her raised a happy family; this would account for no mention of her marriage or death. But I fear she probably died as a child, was buried hurriedly and with little pomp or circumstance to save money and quickly forgotten. A tragic end to a young life and to her mother legacy. As the child of Queen Katherine, she should have been educated and married well but without anyone to fight for her, it would be unlikely she would achieve recognition in any court. If Mary lived to adulthood, I would find it strange that Elizabeth would not extend help to her given close relationship she once had with Katherine Parr but prehaps Queen Elizabeth did not want to restart the rumours about her and Marys’ father so turned her back on Mary.
So many roads for Mary to go down and I fear we will never know what fate awaited her – the lost child of a great Queen.
Would it have been Edward that was King at the time of Mary Seymour’s possible death?
Since Edward died in 1553, it is possible. However, if I remember my history correctly, Edward was pretty thoroughly dominated by his Guardian/Regent, who would have been the manipulator against Lady Mary’s properties.
I also love this period in history. Lady Mary’s fate is still unknown and a mystery, much like the two young princes in the Tower.
I’m sure the spotlight on London during the upcoming Olympics will also provide a wonderful historical backdrop.
Hopefully, some of Queen Katharine’s spirit was infused into her child.
Very interesting article. I am curious..what was the reason a state funeral for Edward Seymour’s mother was denied?
I never knew about Mary and found this article intiriguing and sad. A life we may never really know fully, lost to times past.
The human need to know has never been made more interesting or exciting as that which is embodied in the story of the Tudors and their decendants. Layer upon layer of human foibles,failings and also strengths make for great reading and reflection. I am itching to read this book…if the article is anything like the book then I’m in for a good time!
I am gripped on Tudor history and find this article really interesting. I have read numerous articles about Tudor history but did not know of Lady Mary. I am learning more every day and am looking forward to learning even more! Thank you v much
First of all Sandra, let me congratulate you on ‘The Scret Keeper’ and also ‘To Die For’. I thoroughly enjoyed both.
I cannot understand why the daughter of a dowager queen who seems to have had an appropriate household provided for her in life, would not have had any record kept of her death. I would love to think she came to Ireland and had a peaceful and happy life. I wonder what happened to the ring which had been in the Hart family for so long. Surely there must have a connection with the Seymours.
I look forward to your next book Sandra. Thanks for the interesting post.
I have just recently started reading about King Henry VIII and I know that I have so much to learn about the individuals from this time era. I would like to think that with Catherine Parr’s passing Lady Mary would have been looked after by Queen Elizabeth I. From what I have read when Catherine Parr was queen she was very good to the kings children and was possibly loved by Elizabeth when she was younger. In reality though I think that Lady Mary did pass away as a child, otherwise I think there would have been some documentation of her life.
Thank you for this great website! I have found myself getting lost in all it has to offer! Interestingly enough I had just downloaded Sandra’s first book last week! I look forward to getting the time to read it!
Question, being an avid reader and follower of the Tudors and the royal family as we know it, did Queen Elizabeth I ever make an inquiry to the child Lady Mary Seymore. since the last Queen of her father Queen Catherine Parr was very fond of her majesty. since Lady Mary was of royal linage. gives alot of questions to answer.
Great reading – never knew about her until! Thanks!
I have often wondered what happened to young Mary. I have studied the Tudors for 40 years now and this is a question I have visited often. I can only say that I hope she had a long and happy life. But the fact remains, whether she died at a young age or lived a long life, there seems to be no record of her death anywhere. I wonder if it is possible she moved out of England. Possibly going to the New World or even moving to the European continent. She was the daughter of a queen, surely she had a very good education (if she lived to adulthood) she would have learned a few foreign languages making the transition to another country easy. We can all speculate about Mary’s life and death. Perhaps someday papers will be discovered as to what really happened to her.
I remember reading about Mary Seymour in Antonio Frasier’s book on the Six Wives of henry the Eight. I too wonder what happend to her. It’s not like in Continetal Europe where you could give Mary to some monastery of cloistered nuns like the Carmelites, Poor Clares or other community, to spend the rest of her life hidden away.
Surely one would think maybe her Seymour or Parr relatives would have claimed her eventally, and maybe they did take her from Katherine Willoughby,after she decided that Mary was to much too care for money wise.It maybe she did grow up and marry someone.Since she was the daughter of a dowger queen, one would think that she would have a least rated a mention if ahe died,and her father was also a famous man, so the whole thing strikes one as odd. Wonder if there are any records in the Seymour family that might mention her.There has to be clues somewhere,that everyone seems to miiss. And these people, the Harts could have aquired Thomas Seymour’s ring if say one of the Bushel family married into their family.
I love this perspective and a “happy ending” among the Tudor women is so refreshing!
I wonder though, about Mary’s social standing. As we have all read, respect and loyalty turned like a flip of a switch in those times. Mary, young and helpless, was at the mercy of those around her (or those who ignored her – as Sandra pointed out.)
So I ponder Sandra’s statement, “Would then the death of the cousin of a King, and the only child of the most recent Queen, not even be mentioned?” I agree with Sandra, it seems very unlikely that there would not be a record somewhere.
However, I wonder if the fact that Thomas Seymour’s execution as a traitor left a stigma on Mary, reducing her chances for a sucessful life and negating her importance. Her uncle, Edward Seymour would not support her and provided very little for her (Allison Weir.) He then soon met his own execution. Kateryn Parr’s brother neglected to help as well. Certainly her father’s downfall rendered Mary a cumbersome burden that yielded no gain in assests for her custodian. Perhaps she was merely neglected in record, being of little account (no money and little family connections.)
I am surprised Mary or Elizabeth wouldn’t have taken some kind of interest in her if she were still alive when they came to power since they were both fond of Katherine Parr. I had always assumed she died at birth, and was interested to read Antonia Frasier’s research that she had definitely survived for at least a few years. I guess this kind of uncertainty is a novelist’s dream 😉
So many children were ‘lost’ during this era. However, as a lesser child (a female) one would hope no harm would have come to Katherine Parr. Let us hope the happy ending truly came to pass. Another mystery of the time that will never be known.
I love for my books to have happy endings, so I’m glad you were able to give one to Mary Seymour, but my belief is that she died young.
Great article!! Catherine Parr is one of my favorite’s of King Henry VIII along side catherine of aragon for which she was most likely named!!! I have read Lots of books about her and I can’t wait to get my hands on this book!!!
I love the article and will put this book on my list of what I want to read. I have always wondered about Mary since she was not really mentioned much after she was born. I love to study this time period.
Congratulations to Barbaba Bower for winning the giveaway. Barbara, I’ve emailed you!
I think that Mary did have a stigma of some sort. Not many people liked Thomas Seymour. Not even Kateryn’s brother or sister. When Lord Seymour was executed Mary stayed with the Somerset’s for a short time before being handed over to the Dowager Duchess. Lady Pembroke, Kateryn’s sister, died shortly after her sister in 1552 while her brother, the Marquess of Northampton had financial problems.
The Catherine Parr facebook page has a couple posts on Mary — http://www.facebook.com/notes/catherine-parr-queen-of-england-and-ireland/lady-mary-seymour-daughter-of-queen-katherine-parr/190701294326026 — and — http://www.facebook.com/notes/catherine-parr-queen-of-england-and-ireland/theories-on-lady-mary-seymour/212260832170072
i’d like to think nothing happened to her but as you said theres no death certificate or anything else i hope one day we can find out what really happened to her and as all people im also very intrigued and fascinated with the tudor era and dynasty making the boleyn sisters and Elizabeth I the most famous of them all plz email me anything thing that has to do with the tudors my regaRDS maritza
who were mary seymours god parents? I assume she was christened shortly after birth at Sudely.
I really enjoy reading about these things, and would like to thank the authors for writing them. Ever since watching the Tudors for the first time years ago (since then I’ve gone through the entire show at least 3 more times) I’ve been interested in the true stories behind the series. I wonder what it would have been like to have lived back then, to have been born into royalty.
About this article…I understand Edward Seymour and his wife did not care for Thomas and Katherine, but Mary would have been their niece. Did they not want to take her in? The certainly had the means to take care of her. I also wondered…I know Thomas’s lands and money were given to the crown, but Katherine was well off eve before she married the King. What happened to that money, why was poor Mary left with nothing? She was, after all, King Edward’s cousin. Did he know of her? I don’t know much about Katherine Willoughby, but would it have been possible for her to have kept the money given to her to take care of Mary and just throw the girl out, or worse?
This seems strange that my great grandmother to the 11th born supposedly 1547 is named Mary Seymour. She married General Francis Cosby, a English Baron in Ireland.
Ask the Seymour- Hart’s……………………..
Is it not possible that Lady Mary Seymour married General Francis Cosby and went with him to Ireland, Stradballey Hall ???
I’m trying to find My Great (several times over) Grandmother who was married to Sir Roger Patterdale and lived in West Yorkshire, England. She was born abt. 1470 and died 1533. I need to find a possible connection or is anyone knows who her parents were.
Fascinated by history , and have gone past reading about the well known figures , and crave to find out about the more obscure figures and seem to crave more information ,all the time