Catherine Carey, Lady Knollys (1524 - 1568) MP

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Catherine Carey, Chief Lady of the Bedchamber's Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Chilton Folist, Wiltshire, England
Death: Died in East Molesey, Surrey, England
Occupation: married c. 1540
Managed by: Ofir Friedman
Last Updated:

About Catherine Carey, Lady Knollys

some sources give her death year as 1569


Catherine Carey was born in about 1524, the daughter of Sir William Carey of Aldenham in Hertfordshire, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and Esquire of the Body to Henry VIII, and his wife Mary Boleyn, who had once been a mistress of the king. She was Elizabeth I's first cousin. Some contemporaries also asserted that Catherine was an illegitimate child of the King and so was Elizabeth's half sister. This was never acknowledged by the King.

Katherine's mother, Mary Boleyn, was the sister of Anne Boleyn and a mistress of King Henry VIII of England. Catherine was said to be a witness to the execution of her aunt, Anne Boleyn, in 1536. But according to the biographer of Mary Boleyn, Alison Weir, claims that a young Catherine stayed overnight to entertain and distract her aunt Anne in the Tower the morning before the execution originated in the Victorian era. Catherine went on to become Maid of Honour to both Queens Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard. On 26 April 1540 she married Sir Francis Knollys. Her husband was named a Knight of the Garter in 1593, although he had already been knighted in 1547. He was also Treasurer of the Royal Household. From the time of her marriage, Catherine became known as Mistress Knollys, and from 1547 as Lady Knollys. When not in London, the couple lived at Reading in Berkshire and Rotherfield Greys in Oxfordshire, although, as staunch Protestants, they fled to Germany during the reign of Queen Mary I. Princess Elizabeth wrote to her cousin there and Catherine was appointed Chief Lady of the Bedchamber after she became Queen Elizabeth I. For the first ten years of the reign, Lady Catherine combined the most senior post among the ladies-in-waiting with motherhood to more than a dozen children. Unsurprisingly, Elizabeth never recognized Catherine as her half-sister, and it was certainly not a relationship that Catherine or Sir Francis ever openly claimed. At court, Catherine was acknowledged as the queen's favourite among her first cousins, and Elizabeth's lack of other female relatives to whom she felt close may be adequate to explain this favoured position. She died on 15 January 1569 at Hampton Court Palace, being outlived by her husband and children, and was buried the following April in St Edmund's Chapel in Westminster Abbey. There is a small commemorative plaque in the abbey, although her chief monument is at Rotherfield Greys in Oxfordshire. Catherine's epitaph reads: The Right Honourable Lady Catherine Knollys, chief Lady of the Queen's Majesty's Bedchamber, and Wife to Sir Francis Knollys, Knight, Treasurer of Her Highnesses Houshold, departed this Life the Fifteenth of January, 1568, at Hampton-Court, and was honourably buried in the Floor of this Chapel. This Lady Knollys, and the Lord Hunsdon her Brother, were the Children of William Caree, Esq; and of the Lady Mary his Wife, one of the Daughters and Heirs to Thomas Bulleyne, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde; which Lady Mary was Sister to Anne Queen of England, Wife to K. Henry the Eighth, Father and Mother to Elizabeth Queen of England.





1. [S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I, page 400. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.

2. [S2] Peter W. Hammond, editor, The Complete Peerage or a History of the House of Lords and All its Members From the Earliest Times, Volume XIV: Addenda & Corrigenda (Stroud, Gloucestershire, U.K.: Sutton Publishing, 1998), page 62. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage, Volume XIV.

3. [S3409] Caroline Maubois, "re: Penancoet Family," e-mail message to Darryl Roger Lundy, 2 December 2008. Hereinafter cited as "re: Penancoet Family." [S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume IV, page 160.

-------------------- Katherine is, like her brother, believed by many, to be the illegitimate daughter if King Henry V111 And Mary Carey (Boleyn) -------------------- Katherine is, like her brother, believed by many, to be the illegitimate daughter if King Henry V111 And Mary Carey (Boleyn)

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Catherine Carey, Chief Lady of the Bedchamber's Timeline

August 15, 1524
Chilton Folist, Wiltshire, England
December 25, 1539
Age 15
Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire, England
April 26, 1540
Age 15
Age 16
Age 17
Warwickshire, England
March 3, 1544
Age 19
Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire, England
Age 21