Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk

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About Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk

Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk

Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, KG, PC, Earl Marshal (1473 – 25 August 1554) (Earl of Surrey from 1514, passed down from father on his elevation to Dukedom of Norfolk) was a prominent Tudor politician. He was an uncle of two of the wives of Henry VIII: Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, and played a major role in the machinations behind these marriages. After falling from favour in 1546, he was stripped of the dukedom and imprisoned in the Tower, avoiding execution when the King died. He was released on the accession of Queen Mary I. He aided Mary in securing her throne, setting the stage for alienation between his Catholic family and the Protestant royal line that would be continued by Queen Elizabeth I.

Howard was the eldest son of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk (1443–1524), and his first wife, Elizabeth (d. 1497), the daughter of Frederick Tilney and widow of Sir Humphrey Bourchier.[2] He was descended in the female line from Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk, the sixth son of King Edward I.[3] Both his father, then styled Earl of Surrey and his grandfather, John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk, fought for King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, in which the latter was killed. The family's titles were forfeited after the victory of King Henry VII at Bosworth.[2]

Howard's first marriage was politically advantageous. On 4 February 1495 he married Anne of York (1475–1510), the fifth daughter of King Edward IV and the sister-in-law of King Henry VII. The couple had four children, none of whom survived to adulthood.[4]

Howard was an able soldier, and was often employed in military operations.[2] In 1497 he served in a campaign against the Scots under the command of his father, who knighted him on 30 September 1497.[2] He was made a Knight of the Garter after the accession of King Henry VIII, and became the King's close companion, with lodgings at court.[2] On 4 May 1513 he was appointed Lord Admiral and on 9 September helped to defeat the Scots at the Battle of Flodden. Anne of York died in 1510,[5] and early in 1513 he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, and Eleanor Percy, the daughter of Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland.[6]

On 1 February 1514 Howard's father, then Earl of Surrey, was created Duke of Norfolk, and by letters patent issued on the same day Howard was created Earl of Surrey for life. Over the next few years he served the King in a variety of ways. In September 1514 he escorted the King's sister Princess Mary to France for her forthcoming marriage. In 1517 he quelled a May day riot in London with the use of soldiers.[6][2]

On 10 March 1520,[citation needed] Surrey was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland. by July 1520 Surrey entered upon the thankless task of endeavouring to keep Ireland in order. His letters contain accounts of attempts to pacify the rival factions of Kildare and Ormonde, and are full of demands for more money and troops.[6]

At the end of 1521 Surrey was recalled from Ireland to take command of the English fleet in naval operations against France. His ships were ill-provisioned, and his warfare consisted of a series of raids upon the French coast for the purpose of inflicting all the damage possible. In July 1522 he burned Morlaix, in September laid waste the country round Boulogne, and spread devastation on every side, until the winter brought back the fleet to England.[6]

On 4 December 1522 Surrey was made Lord Treasurer upon his father's resignation of the office, and on 21 May 1524 he succeeded his father as 3rd Duke of Norfolk.[2] His liking for war brought him into conflict with Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who preferred diplomacy in the conduct of foreign affairs. In 1523 Wolsey had secured to the Duke of Suffolk the reversion of the office of Earl Marshal which had been held by Norfolk's father, and in 1525 the Duke of Richmond had replaced Norfolk as Lord Admiral. Finding himself pushed aside, Norfolk spent considerable time away from court in 1525–7 and 1528.[2]

In the mid 1520s Norfolk's niece Anne Boleyn had caught the King's eye,[7] and Norfolk's political fortunes revived with his involvement in the King's attempt to have his marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon annulled. By 1529 matters of state were being increasingly handled by Norfolk, Suffolk and the Boleyns, who pressed the King to remove Wolsey. In October the King sent Norfolk and Suffolk to obtain the great seal from the Cardinal. In November Wolsey was arrested on a charge of treason, but died before trial. Norfolk benefited from Wolsey's fall, becoming the King's leading councillor and applying himself energetically in the King's efforts to find a way out of his marriage to Queen Katherine. His loyalty and service to the King brought him ample rewards. He received grants of monastic lands in Norfolk and Suffolk, was employed on diplomatic missions, and was created a knight of the French Order of St Michael in 1532 and Earl Marshal of England on 28 May 1533. As Lord High Steward, he presided at the trial of his niece, Queen Anne Boleyn, in May 1536.[2]

Surrey's marriage to his second wife, Elizabeth, which had apparently been mutually affectionate at first, deteriorated in 1527 when he took a mistress, Elizabeth Holland (d. 1547/8), whom he installed in the Howard household. Elizabeth Howard formally separated from her husband in the 1530s. She claimed that in March 1534 the Duke ‘locked me up in a chamber, [and] took away my jewels and apparel', and then moved her to Redbourn, Hertfordshire, where she lived a virtual prisoner with a meagre annual allowance of only £200. She also claimed to have been physically maltreated by the Duke and by household servants.[8]

When the Pilgrimage of Grace broke out in Lincolnshire and the northern counties late in 1536, Norfolk shared command of the King's forces with the Earl of Shrewsbury, persuading the rebels to disperse by promising them a pardon and that Parliament would consider their grievances. However, when further rebellions erupted in January 1537 he carried out a policy of brutal retribution.[2]

By 1539 Norfolk was seriously challenging the religious reforms of the King's chief minister Thomas Cromwell. In that year the King sought to have Parliament put an end to diversity in religious opinion. On 5 May the House of Lords appointed a committee to consider questions of doctrine. Although he was not a member of the committee, on 16 May Norfolk presented six conservative articles of religion to Parliament for consideration. On 30 May, the Six Articles and the penalties for failure to conform to them were enacted into law, and on 28 June received royal assent.[2]

On 29 June 1539, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cromwell dined with the King as guests of Archbishop Cranmer. During a heated discussion about Cardinal Wolsey, Cromwell charged Norfolk with disloyalty and Norfolk called Cromwell a liar. Their mutual hostility was now out in the open.[2] Cromwell inadvertently played into Norfolk's hands by taking the initiative in the King's marriage to Anne of Cleves. The King's disillusionment with Anne's physical appearance when he met her in January 1540 and his desire after the wedding had taken place to have the marriage annulled gave Norfolk an opportunity to bring down his enemy.[9] On 10 June 1540 Cromwell was arrested at a Privy Council meeting on charges of high treason, and Norfolk personally 'tore the St George from his neck’. On 9 July 1540 Henry's marriage to Anne of Cleves was annulled.[2] On 28 July 1540 Cromwell was executed, and on the same day the King wed Norfolk's niece Catherine Howard as his fifth wife.[10] As a result of this marriage, for a time Norfolk enjoyed political prominence, royal favour and material rewards.

However, when Catherine's premarital sexual indiscretions and her alleged adultery with Sir Thomas Culpeper were revealed to the King by Archbishop Cranmer, the King's wrath turned on the Howard family, who were accused of concealing her misconduct.[2] Queen Catherine was condemned by a bill of attainder and executed on 13 February 1542. Several other members of the Howard family were sent to the Tower, including Norfolk's stepmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.[10] However the French ambassador Marillac wrote on 17 January 1541 that Norfolk had not only escaped punishment, but had apparently been restored to his 'full former credit and authority'.[2]

Norfolk was appointed Lieutenant-General north of Trent on 29 January 1541, and Captain-General in a campaign against the Scots in August 1542. In June 1543 he declared war on France in the King's name and was appointed Lieutenant-General of the army. During the campaign of May–October 1544 he besieged Montreuil, while the King captured Boulogne before returning home. Complaining of lack of provisions and munitions, Norfolk eventually raised the siege of Montreuil, and realizing that Boulogne could not realistically be held by the English for long, left it garrisoned and withdrew to Calais, for which he was severely rebuked by the King.[2]

During the King's final years Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford, and Henry VIII's last queen, Catherine Parr, both of whom favoured the reformed faith, gained influence with the King while the conservative Norfolk became isolated politically. He attempted to form an alliance with the Seymours through a marriage between his widowed daughter, Mary Fitzroy and Hertford's brother Thomas Seymour,[2] but the effort was forestalled by the provocative conduct of his eldest son and heir, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, who had assumed the royal arms of Edward the Confessor as part of his personal heraldry.[11] On 12 December 1546 both Norfolk and Surrey were arrested and sent to the Tower. On 12 January 1547 Norfolk acknowledged that he had "concealed high treason, in keeping secret the false acts of my son, Henry Earl of Surrey, in using the arms of St. Edward the Confessor, which pertain only to kings", and offered his lands to the King. Norfolk's family, including his estranged wife, his daughter Mary, and his mistress, Elizabeth Holland, all gave evidence against him. Surrey was beheaded on 19 January 1547,[11] and on 27 January 1547 Norfolk was attainted by statute without trial. The dying King gave his assent to Norfolk's death by royal commissioners, and it was rumoured that he would be executed on the following day. He was saved by the King's death on 28 January and the Council's decision not to inaugurate the new reign with bloodshed. His estates fell prey to the ruling clique in the reign of Edward VI, for which he was later partly compensated by lands worth £1626 a year from Queen Mary I.[2]

Norfolk remained in the Tower throughout the reign of King Edward VI. He was released and pardoned by Queen Mary in 1553, and in Mary's first parliament (October–December 1553), his statutory attainder was declared void, thereby restoring him to the dukedom.[12] He was appointed to the Privy Council, and presided as Lord High Steward at the trial of the Duke of Northumberland on 18 August.[2] He was also restored to the office of Earl Marshal and officiated in that capacity at Mary's coronation on 1 October 1553.[12] His last major service to the Crown was his command of the forces sent to put down a rebellion in early 1554 by a group of disaffected gentlemen who opposed the Queen's projected marriage to Philip II of Spain.[13]

The Duke died at Kenninghall on 25 August 1554 and was buried at St. Michael's Church at Framlingham in Suffolk. He was survived by two of the three children of his second marriage: his younger son, Thomas created Viscount Howard of Bindon in 1559, and his daughter Mary.[2] Although there is debate on the topic, it appears that Norfolk had another daughter Katherine, who was briefly married to Norfolk's ward, Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby, and died on 15 March 1530.[1] The Duke's property passed into the hands of the Crown during the minority of his grandson and heir, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk.[2]

Norfolk has been portrayed several times in film. In The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) he was played by Frederick Culley. In the 1970 BBC miniseries The Six Wives of Henry VIII, the role was played by Patrick Troughton. In the 1973 film, based on the miniseries, he was played by Michael Gough. In A Man for All Seasons (1966), he was played by Nigel Davenport. In Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Peter Jeffrey took the role. He went on to reprise the role in a 1996 BBC adaptation of Mark Twain's 1881 novel The Prince and the Pauper. Sir Rex Harrison portrayed him in the 1978 adaptation of the same novel called Crossed Swords. Mark Strong portrayed Norfolk in the 2003 ITV feature Henry VIII. In the Showtime series The Tudors (2007), he was played by Henry Czerny. David Morrissey played the Duke in the film The Other Boleyn Girl. Bernard Hill played the Duke in the acclaimed 2015 BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall.

D. L. Bogdan's novels Rivals in the Tudor Court and Secrets of the Tudor Court (published in the UK under the name of Darcey Bonnette) feature Norfolk as one of the central characters. Norfolk is also one of the characters in the Philippa Gregory novels The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance. He is an important character in The Man on a Donkey by H.F.M. Prescott and The Fifth Queen by Ford Madox Ford, and a minor character in Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.



  • Sir Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Surrey1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11
  • M, #16395, b. 1473, d. 25 August 1554
  • Father Sir Thomas Howard, Earl Marshal of England, 2nd Duke Norfolk, Sheriff of Norfolk & Suffolk, Lord High Treasurer12,7,13,11 b. 1443, d. 21 May 1524
  • Mother Elizabeth Tilney12,7,13,11 b. c 1445, d. 4 Apr 1497
  • Sir Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Surrey Lord Howard, Earl Marshal of England, Lord High Admiral, Captain of the Vanguard, Chief Governor of Ireland, Lord High Treasurer.2 He was born in 1473. He married Anne Plantagenet, daughter of Edward IV Plantagenet, King of England, 4th Duke of York, 7th Earl of March, 9th Earl of Ulster and Elizabeth Wydeville, on 4 February 1495 at Greenwich, Kent, England; They had 4 children (including 1 son, Thomas (d. 3 August 1508)).3,4,7,8,11 Sir Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Surrey married Elizabeth Stafford, daughter of Sir Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke Buckingham, 8th Earl & 9th Lord of Stafford, Earl of Hereford & Northampton, Constable of England and Eleanor Percy, before 8 January 1513; They had 2 sons (Sir Henry, Earl of Surrey; & Thomas) and 3 daughters (Muriel; Catherine; & Mary, wife of Sir Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond & Somerset, Earl of Nottingham).14,15,6,4,5,7,8,9,10,11 Sir Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Surrey died on 25 August 1554 at Kenninghall, Norfolk, England.14,3,4,7,11 He was buried on 2 October 1554 at Framlingham, Norfolk, England; Age 80.14,3,4,7
  • Family 1 Anne Plantagenet b. 2 Nov 1475, d. 23 Nov 1511
  • Family 2 Elizabeth Stafford b. c 1497, d. 30 Nov 1558
  • Children
    • Mary Howard16,17,3,6,8,10 d. 9 Dec 1557
    • Sir Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey+ b. bt 1516 - 1518, d. 19 Jan 1547
    • Sir Thomas Howard, 1st Viscount Howard of Bindon+18 b. c 1520, d. 28 Jan 1582
  • Citations
  • [S4676] Unknown author, Burke's Peerage (1963), p. lxiv, 1806.
  • [S11568] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, by George Edward Cokayne, Vol. IX, p. 615-620.
  • [S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 800-801.
  • [S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. II, p. 415-416.
  • [S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. IV, p. 87.
  • [S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. IV, p. 236.
  • [S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. IV, p. 416-417.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. III, p. 337.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. V, p. 24.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. V, p. 216.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. V, p. 465.
  • [S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. II, p. 414-415.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. III, p. 335-336.
  • [S11568] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, by George Edward Cokayne, Vol. IX, p. 619.
  • [S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 676.
  • [S11568] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, by George Edward Cokayne, Vol. X, p. 830.
  • [S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 728-730.
  • [S11568] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, by George Edward Cokayne, Vol. VI, p. 583-584.
  • From:


  • Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk1
  • M, #101655, b. 1473, d. 25 August 1554
  • Last Edited=14 May 2015
  • Consanguinity Index=0.01%
  • Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk was born in 1473.4 He was the son of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and Elizabeth Tylney.1 He married, firstly, Lady Anne Plantagenet, daughter of Edward IV Plantagenet, King of England and Elizabeth Wydevill, on 4 February 1494/95 at Greenwich Palace, Greenwich, London, England.4 He married, secondly, Lady Elizabeth Stafford, daughter of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Lady Eleanor Percy, on 8 January 1512.5 He was also reported to have been married before 8 January 1512/13. He and Lady Elizabeth Stafford were separated in 1534.5 He died on 25 August 1554 at Kenninghall, Norfolk, England.5 He was buried on 2 October 1554 at Framlingham, Suffolk, England.
  • He was invested as a Knight in 1497.5 He was invested as a Knight, Order of the Garter (K.G.) in 1510.5 He gained the rank of Lieutenant-General in 1512 in the service of the English Army in Spain.5 He held the office of Lord High Admiral between 1513 and 1525.5 He fought in the Battle of Flodden on 9 September 1513.5 He succeeded to the title of 2nd Earl of Surrey [E., 1483] on 1 February 1513/14, in his father's lifetime.5 He was invested as a Privy Counsellor (P.C.) before May 1516.5 He held the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland in 1522.5 He held the office of Lord High Treasurer between February 1522 and 1546/47.5 He was Lieutenant-General of the English Army in February 1522/23 against the Scots.5 He was Lieutenant of the Order of the Garter in 1525.5 He held the office of Envoy to France between 1525 and 1527.5 He held the office of Lord President of the Council between 1527 and 1530.5 He held the office of High Steward of Cambridge in 1529.5 He was decorated with the award of the Knight, Order of St. Michael of France in 1532.5 He held the office of Earl Marshal of England on 28 May 1533.5 From 1536 to 1537 he played a leading role in the suppression of the Pilgrimmage of Grace.5 He was Lieutenant-General of the English Army in 1544 in France.5 On 27 January 1546/47 he was attainted.5 On 28 January 1546/47 he was due to be executed, but was saved by the death of King Henry VIII a few hours earlier.5 He spent King Edward VI's reign confied in the Tower of London.5 He succeeded to the title of 3rd Duke of Norfolk [E., 1483] on 3 August 1553.5 On 3 August 1553 he was restored to his titles and honours.5
  • Child of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and Lady Anne Plantagenet
    • Thomas Howard b. c 1496, d. 1508
  • Children of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and Lady Elizabeth Stafford
    • Lady Mary Howard b. bt 1512 - 1533, d. 9 Dec 1557
    • Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey+6 b. bt 1516 - 1518, d. 19 Jan 1546/47
    • Thomas Howard, 1st Viscount Howard of Bindon+5 b. c 1520, d. 28 Jan 1581/82
  • Citations
  • [S37] BP2003 volume 2, page 2821. See link for full details for this source. Hereinafter cited as. [S37]
  • [S130] Wikipedia, online http;// Hereinafter cited as Wikipedia.
  • [S3409] Caroline Maubois, "re: Penancoet Family," e-mail message to Darryl Roger Lundy, 2 December 2008. Hereinafter cited as "re: Penancoet Family."
  • [S11] Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 139. Hereinafter cited as Britain's Royal Families.
  • [S37] BP2003. [S37]
  • [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 253. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.
  • From:


  • Thomas HOWARD (3° D. Norfolk)
  • Born: 1473
  • Died: 25 Aug 1554, Kenninghall, Norfolk, England
  • Buried: Framlingham, Norfolk, England
  • Notes: See his Biography.
  • Father: Thomas HOWARD (2º D. Norfolk)
  • Mother: Elizabeth TILNEY (C. Surrey)
  • Married 1: Anne PLANTAGENET 4 Feb 1494/5, Greenwich Palace, London, England
  • Children:
    • 1. Thomas HOWARD (b. 1496 - d. 1508)
    • 2. Henry HOWARD
    • 3. William HOWARD
    • 4. Dau. HOWARD
  • Associated with: ¿?
    • 5. Margaret HOWARD
  • Married 2: Elizabeth STAFFORD (D. Norfolk) BEF 8 Jan 1512/13, Easter Time
  • Children:
    • 6. Catherine HOWARD (C. Derby)
    • 7. Henry HOWARD (E. Surrey)
    • 8. Mary HOWARD (D. Richmond)
    • 9. Thomas HOWARD (1° V. Bindon)
  • Associated with: Elizabeth HOLLAND
  • Associated with: ¿?
    • 10. Jane GOODMAN
  • From: HOWARD (3° D. Norfolk)
  • English nobleman, a master of survival in the treacherous political climate of Henry VIII's Court, described by Ludovico Falieri, Venetian Ambassador in Nov 1531 as 'prudent, liberal, affable and astute; associates with everybody, has very great experience in political government, discusses the affairs of the world admirably, aspires to greater elevation, and bears ill-will to foreigners... small and spare in person, his hair is black...'. His own education and instincts were old fashioned; in religion and politics, Norfolk was a conservative, unimpressed by the new ideas of the reformers and uncomfortable with the low born "new men" of the Tudor Court. He claimed the deference due the leader of the traditional nobility, yet recognized uneasily that loyalty, ability and service counted as much as or more than ancient tittle to the Tudors.
  • Thomas was the first son of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey (afterwards the second Duke of Norfolk) and his first wife, Elizabeth Tilney, widow of Sir Humphrey Bourchier. Thomas and his brothers received a medieval education, studying Latin and French, and the usual course of grammar, rethoric, logic, some arithmetic and a bit of music. Thomas may have shared the latter stages of his education with his half brother, John Bourchier, second lord Berners.
  • Old enough at his grandfather death's to have spent time at John Howard's house at Tendring Hall, in 1484, Thomas Howard was brought to Court and bethroted to Anne Plantagenet, daughter of Edward IV and niece to Richard III. With his brother Edward, he was placed in Henry VII's household as a page. There they learned subservience to the new dynasty while being trained as gentlemen and serving as hostages to Surrey's repeatedly tested loyalty. Married with Anne 4 Feb 1495 at Westminster Abbey, thus became brother-in-law to Henry VII. Howard would be landless and penniless until the death of the dowager Duchess of Norfolk (who survived until 1507), and Anne had nothing but her name, so relatives had to provide for the couple. Queen Elizabeth provided her sister with twenty shillings a week for food and drink, and paid for personal retinue of two women, a young maid, a gentleman, a yeoman and three grooms. Surrey gave them the use of a number of manors, and was compensated by the crown with an annuity of £120, probably indicating the value of the lands.
  • Although Thomas and Anne had a number of children, none lived to maturity. The longest lived, Thomas, was born about 1497, and died Aug 1508, buried in the Howard Chapel at Lambeth. Anne herself seems to have suffered poor health, and died early, for consumption, in 1512. After seventeen years of marriage, Thomas was left a childless widower.
  • The Howards overcame the disgrace of their support of Richard III because Surrey and his sons proved useful to Henry VII. Like Richard before him, Henry needed loyal support to establish and maintain his power. The Earl of Surrey was constantly at Court and in council, serving as the only prominent titled noble among the King's ecclesiastical circle. During the reign of Henry VII there are a little information about Howard.
  • In the spring of 1497, Thomas Howard began his military career, joining some fifty gentlemen and knights sent to quell a rising of Cornishmen which culminated at Blackheath on 17 Jun. Having earned his spurs, Thomas was sent north to join his father, who was serving as lord lieutenant against the Scots. After a series of skirmishes and raids, James IV of Scotland and Henry VII made a truce in Sep 1497 that led to peace treaty in Jan 1502. For their part in the fighting, Thomas and his brother Edward were knighted by their father at Ayton Castle in Sep. In 1503, when his father escorted Margaret Tudor to Scotland, the entire family went along. Thomas also accompanied his father on an embassy to Flanders in 1507.
  • During the rest of the reign of Henry VII, there are only scattered snatches of information about Sir Thomas Howard. For the most part, Sir Thomas and his wife lived quietly at Stoke and Lambeth. Thomas was involved in a few land deals with his father which have left traces in the public records and in 1506 was pardoned, along with his brother Edward and several other men, for an illegal entry upon a manor belonging to the estate of the late John Grey, lord Lisle. Despite ample contact with the King, Thomas never became a favorite, and was little employed in public business, even as his father's adjunct.
  • At the death of Henry VII in Apr 1509 Sir Thomas Howard was named one of the lords attendant for the funeral, and with his father was issued black velvet livery of mourning. Thomas Howard also joined in the tournament held to celebrate the coronation. Henry VIII did not attempt feats of arms in his own honor, but there were many knights at court who did. Thomas, Edward and Edmund Howard, as well as Richard Grey (brother of the Marquis of Dorset), Charles Brandon and Sir Thomas Knyvett (brother-in-law of the Howards) rode as challengers against Henry's answerers, who included Sir John Carre. On the first day, Thomas Howard and Carre won prizes as the most skillful combatants in the tournaments. Thomas was being paid five hundred marks along with Sir John Carre on 24 May for his services in Henry VII's funeral and Henry VIII's coronation.
  • After being nominated to the Order of the Garter but not elected in 1509, on 27 Apr 1510 Thomas Howard was added to that Order.
  • In Aug 1511 Thomas and Edward Howard were sent out to engage Andrew Barton, a favorite sea captain of James IV. In the ensuing fight, a full-scale sea battle in the Channel, Barton was killed, and his two ships, the Lion and Jenny Perwin, captured.
  • In Oct the Holy League was signed at Rome, and Henry and Ferdinand of Spain agreed soon after that an English assault on France would commence by 30 Apr 1512. Now the Howards found fresh employment. Surrey was sent to watch over the north of the realm, Edward was given a command at sea, and Thomas and Edmund with their future brother-in-law Rhys ap Griffith joined the English army supporting Ferdinand's invasion of southern France. Thomas Grey, 2° Marquis of Dorset was named commander of the army in Spain; Thomas Howard was commissioned as Dorset's second in command. Henry had not yet learned how little he could trust his father-in-law Ferdinand, and the expedition was a fiasco. By 8 Jul, Thomas wrote to Cardinal Wolsey to outline the English plight but also to assure him that the troops were in good order, not yet troubled by sickness as were the Spanish soldiers; but already Howard saw hints of disaster. The Spanish, he wrote, would not extend the English any aid, for they loved money better than their own kin. This letter is the first important surviving document written by Thomas Howard.
  • After his first wife’s death he married Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Stafford, 3d Duke of Buckingham. Elizabeth, who was about nineteen to Howard's forty, had been one of Catalina de Aragon's attendants, and perhaps a member of the Queen's household, as were several Stafford aunts, Buckingham's sisters. The arrangements were made swiftly. Brushing aside the inconvenience of Elizabeth's romance with the young Ralph Neville (later forth earl of Westmorland), Buckingham gave his daughter to Howard, and by Easter they were married. The Duke settled an annuity of five hundred marks on Elizabeth and gave Howard a dowry of twenty-five hundred marks.
  • Added to his new wife connections, he was related to many noble families by his father, grandfather and sisters marriages, including those of the earls of Derby, Oxford, Sussex, Bridgewater, Devon and Wiltshire; as well as baronial clans such the Lisles and Dacres. If second cousins are considered, there was hardly a Tudor peer who was not Thomas Howard's kin.
  • On 12 Aug 1512 his brother-in-law Thomas Knyvett was killed in a foolhardy adventure at sea off Brest battling the French. Edward Howard vowed to avenge Knyvett's death and as a result was himself killed on 25 April 1513. Edward's death deprived the Howards of Henry's favorite of Surrey's sons, but did bring Thomas Howard new duties. On 25 Apr, he was appointed Lord Admiral in succession to his brother, and by 7 May had arrived at Plymouth to view the shambles of the royal fleet.
  • He fought against the Scots at Flodden and became, in 1514, Earl of Surrey when his father was made Duke of Norfolk. Thomas Howard the younger established himself as an important soldier and sailor and, with the prize of the earldom of Surrey won at Flodden, moved out of his father's shadow to became a man of importance in his own right.
  • In Apr 1525, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, pursued the guardship of Elizabeth Marney, of one of the two daughters and co-heirs of John, second Lord Marney of Layer Marney {d. 1525), by the latter's wife, Christian, daughter and sole heir of Roger Newburgh. Although he found necessary to write to his enemy, the Cardinal Wolsey, on 4 Apr, to gain the favor of the King in this case. This letter was writing while Marney was on his deathbed, hardly in good taste, but haste and determination were essential in obtaining choice wardship to exploit. Norfolk obtained the wardship of Elizabeth Marney at the end of May of 1526 and purchased the right of her marriage from the master of the King's wards in Apr 1529. Elizabeth Marney, on the death without issue of her sister, Catherine, Lady Poynings, inherited all the Marney estates {Letters and Papers, Henry VIII., vol. iv.). Norfolk at first intended Elizabeth Marney for his eldest son, the Earl of Surrey, but eventually bestowed her hand upon the oungest, Lord Thomas, afterwards Viscount Bindon, on 14 May 1533, at Norfolk House in Lambeth.
  • Around 1526 Norfolk noticed a woman who was a part of the ducal household at Kenninghall. Elizabeth Holland, known as Bess, was the daughter (some sources say the sister) of John Holland of Wartwell Hall, Norfolk’s secretary and one of his stewards; and a kinswoman, probably a niece, of John Hussey, 1st baron Hussey of Sleaford. She became his mistress. Because of the letters left by Elizabeth Stafford, Duchess of Norfolk, there is a good deal of confusion about Bess Holland. Since she was a gentlewoman, she was probably not a laundress in the household, or the children’s nurse. She may have been their governess. She was certainly on good terms with Mary Howard, Norfolk’s daughter. The records left by the Duchess of Norfolk paint Bess Holland as a villainess and the Duke as a monster, but the truth is probably less dramatic. Bess was his mistress for some twenty years.
  • In 1530, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk found himself in trouble over what he must have considered a mere formality, the requirement for the King's assent to all marriages within the peerage. Norfolk arranged for his eldest daughter, Catherine, to wed Edward Stanley, whose family had long held considerable influence in the north of the realm. Henry choose to view the arrangement as an abduction of the twenty year old Derby, who was still legally a minor. On 21 Feb 1530, Norfolk was forced to sue for pardon and post a bond with the King, but was still allowed to carry the marriage to conclusion. Catherine Howard was at least twenty two years old when a few weeks later, on 16 Mar 1530, died suddenly of the plague. Anxious not to loose this alliance the Duke arranged for his half-sister, Dorothy to become Derby's second wife. Norfolk considered the Derby marriage to be so important that he 'had no had a sister to offer he would have proposed his oher daughter...' who has been promised to the King bastard son, the Duke of Richmond.
  • He served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1520–21). Succeeding his father as Lord High Treasurer in 1522 and as Duke of Norfolk in 1524, Norfolk led the opposition to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.
  • He supported Henry VIII’s divorce from Catalina de Aragon and his marriage to his niece Anne Boleyn. Norfolk brought her to court in the hopes of attracting the King, actively campaigned for her advancement in the hopes of furthering his own political fortunes. When Anne Boleyn was created Marquess of Pembroke, Bess Holland was one of her maids of honor. When Anne fell from grace, Norfolk jumped to the side of her accusers and took part in her downfall. Bess Holland was still at court in 1537 when she rode in the funeral cortege of Queen Jane Seymour.
  • Norfolk was ready to do whatever it took, even sacrifice his religion and his family, to retain the King's favor and further his ambitions. Norfolk's ambitions were: first, to make the Howard family the most influential family in England; if possible, to place a Howard on the throne; to be in a position that was invulnerable to royal whims and rages; and in the darkest days, as one plan after another miscarried, to keep his head.
  • Although Norfolk conducted the campaign against the Pilgrimage of Grace, he remained Catholic. In 1537, he was the godfather of Prince Edward, the first legitimate son of King Henry. The birth of Edward weakened Norfolk's position and left the Seymours entrenched at court despite Queen Jane's death. Norfolk was prepared to make alliance with the upstarts, and so he offered to wed his daughter Mary to Hertford's younger brother Sir Thomas Seymour. Norfolk averred gamely that, after all, there was much to be said for noble-commoner matches; "there ensueth no grete good by the conjunction of grete bloodes together". To the surprise of everyone, and certainly to Norfolk's great chagrín, the Dowager Duchess of Richmond refused. Apparently the Earl of Surrey persuaded his sister to refuse Seymour's hand, for Mary left court in Jul determined not to wed, and although Norfolk followed her to Kenninghall, he was unable to change her mind; the proposed match was ruined, and with it Norfolk's chances of an immediate return to a place of influence at court. Had Surrey not intervened and had Mary wed Sir Thomas, the politics of the 15405 might have taken a very different course.
  • Norfolk spent the late summer and autumn of 1538 in East Anglia. On 9 Aug Norfolk and Sir Roger Townshend reported to Cromwell on rumors that the King intended to seize all unmarked cattle for his own use, a groundless but potentially seditious bruit which enjoyed wide circulation in Norfolk and Suffolk.
  • Norfolk had some contact with the court during these months; Thomas Audley, the chancellor, visited the Duke at Framlingham in Sep "to kyll sum of his bukkes there" and surely to talk politics as well.
  • Thomas Howard took possession of the following religious houses at the dissolution: Benedictine Nunnery, Bungay, Suffolk; Priory of the Austin Canons, Butley, Suffolk; Priory of the Cluniac Monks, Castle Acre, Norfolk; Prior of the Austin Canons, Cokesford, Norfolk; Benedictine Cell, Doping, Lincolnshire; Benedictine Cell, Felixstowe, Suffolk; Cluniac Cell, Hitcham, Norfolk; Cistercian Abbey, Newenham, Devon; Benedictine Cell, St Catherine, Norwich; Benedictine Priory, Snape, Suffolk; Cluniac Priory, Thetford, Norfolk; College, Thetford, Norfolk and Cluniac Cell, Wangford, Suffolk.
  • After the execution in 1542 of another of his nieces, Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth queen, Norfolk’s influence waned, and he was forced back into the position of a mere military commander.
  • On 15 Dec 1541 Norfolk wrote a letter to the King in an effort to divorce himself from the crimes of his niece: The Dowager Duchess of Norfolk and her son William had been arrested, and the Duke, after assuring Henry that he had no doubt that all his kin were not imprisoned lightly, "...but for som their fals and traytorous procedynges agaynst Your Royall Majestie...", reminded Henry that he had faithfully aided the investigation of Catherine's crimes. Finally, he wrote: "Eftsonys prostrate at your royall fe te, most humble I beseche Your Majestie, that by suche, as it shall picase you to comande, I may be advertised playnle, how Your Highnes doth way your favour towardes me; assewryng Your Highnes that onles I may knowe Your Majestie to contynew my gode and gracious Lord, as ye wer befor their offensys committed, I shall never desire to lyve in this world any lenger, but shortly to fynishe this transitory lyff, as God knoweth, who send Your Majestie the accomplishmentes of your most noble hartes desires."
  • Perhaps Norfolk was not so upset by his relatives' disgrace as might be expected. On 13 Feb the French Ambassador Marillac reported that the Duke hoped that his stepmother would not survive her imprisonment, for he stood to inherit her considerable lands should she succumb. Marillac went on to say that "the times are such that he [Norfolk] dare not show that the affair touches him, but he approves all that is done". At his death in 1524, the second duke's widow, Agnes Tilney, retained a considerable jointure, including twelve manors in Suffolk, Surrey, Essex and Lincoln and more than a dozen others in Sussex. These lands returned to the dukedom only at her death in 1544, and not until Jul 1546 was the third duke confirmed in possession of Agnes's holdings.
  • Norfolk was considered the leader of the Catholic party during the Reformation of the Church of England and as such was a friend of Sir Thomas More, and was patron of Sir William Roper, brother-in-law of William Dauntesey, both sons-in-law of Sir Thomas More. He was an enemy of Thomas Cromwell and instrumental in bringing about his fall.
  • In the dangerous days of mid-1546, Norfolk proposed a series of marriages to bind together the Howards and Seymours. Again, Norfolk's daughter Mary, Duchess of Richmond, was to wed Sir Thomas Seymour, and Howard grandchildren were proposed as mates for three of Hertford's offspring. On 10 Jun, Henry gave his approval to the proposal. The main difficulty, as before, was with Norfolk's tempestuous son, Surrey.
  • In Dec 1546 he and his son Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, were charged with treason. Norfolk's son was a man of learning often called "the Poet", who also had a reputation for skill at arms. He was charged with quartering the arms of Edward the Confessor with his own, which was like openly claiming the Throne, and was executed. He was probably held in Beauchamp Tower. During Henry VIII's last days, when his execution seemed imminent, Howard was deprived of all comforts, including books, sheets for his bed, and hangings for the damp stone walls above the west moat. Further, he was confined to a narrow cell on the upper floor and forbidden exercise in the outer chambers of the tower. The fate of Norfolk's personal property is documented, for the inventories drawn up at the time of his arrest were annotated as goods were sold or given away. Norfolk's apparel, ranging from satin gowns and velvet coats to petticoats, doublets and hose, and including his parliamentary robes and Garter regalia, went to Edward Seymour, who also obtained Surrey's parliamentary robes and several gilt rapiers and daggers from the Earl's estate. Elizabeth Holland, Norfolk's mistress, and Mary, Duchess of Richmond, were allowed to keep their personal clothing, no small favor considering the mass of satins, velvets, rich embroidery and cloth of gold and silver. Bess Holland also kept her personal jewels. Lord Thomas Howard, Norfolk's younger son, was also arrested, but he was released shortly after Surrey's execution. King Henry VIII died the day before the execution of Norfolk could be carried out.
  • Bess Holland gave evidence against Surrey and Norfolk. She probably had no choice. When the King’s agents seized and searched Kenninghall, they also confiscated all of Bess’s possessions, including the jewelry she had concealed upon her person. She also lost a new house on thirty-six acres of land in Framlingham, which the Duke had recently given to her. In her chamber at Kenninghall, the commissioners seized rings, brooches, strings of pearls, silver spoons, ivory tables, and other treasures. She was taken to London for questioning but was eventually released. Her jewelry was returned. She also received an annuity of £20 from the Duchess of Richmond. At some point after her liaison with the Duke of Norfolk ended, she married Jeffrey Miles or Myles of Stoke Nayland.
  • Early in Edward's reign became clear that Norfolk would remain a prisoner. On 3 Mar 1547 Sir John Markham, lieutenant of the Tower, was ordered to provide Norfolk with clothing and personal furnishings befitting his station. As early as Feb 1547 Norfolk began to be allowed family visitors; Mary, Duchess of Richmond, and Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, were permitted to visit Howard "at tymes and with traynes convenient, the Lieutenant being present". Further, a bit of personal freedom was now allowed: "the said Duke may have libertye to walke in the gardein and gallery when the Lieutenant shall think good". Political turmoil in the Edwardian regency was reflected in the conditions of Norfolk's incarceration. After Northumberland rise to power Norfolk enjoyed greater liberty, although not his freedom. In Jul 1550 Norfolk was given leave to walk or ride within the precincts of the Tower, accompanied by a guard, and in Apr 1551 was permitted a visit from his son Thomas. Although the conversation was held in the presence of Markham, such a meeting between a traitor and his son was very unusual.
  • There were rumors from time to time that Northumberland, would release Norfolk, and after Somerset's execution an imperial envoy reported in Feb 1552 that Norfolk was no longer in danger and would soon be freed. Norfolk was given permission to write a letter to the council (perhaps petitioning for his liberty; the letter has not survived), but remained a prisoner until Mary Tudor arrived in London in Aug 1553. The most reasonable explanation for Norfolk's not being freed is that certainly Somerset and probably Northumberland had no good reason for releasing a former rival who, despite his age, was still a potential threat if given his liberty. But just as important to the Edwardian junto were their considerable financial gains from the redistribution of Norfolk's forfeited lands and goods. Most of the progressive faction had profited from Norfolk's fall; they were little inclined to see the attainted duke freed, much less restored to his titles and property, at their expense.
  • He was released from prison on the accession of Mary I and restored to his dukedom. It was a time of great rejoicing, and the Duchess of Norfolk, separated from her husband for the past twenty years, entered fully into the spirit of the family reunion. His first important service to the new Queen was to preside the trial of the Duke of Northumberland. He successfully led the forces against the rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyatt.
  • After six weeks of failing health, he died at Kenninghall on 25 Aug 1555. A last minute bequest of £100 was made to Jane Goodman, a young girl living in Norfolk's London house when he made the final changes to his will in the previous Jul. She may have been a natural daughter; at any rate she was still a member of the Howard Household in 1571. Nothing was left to Elizabeth Holland, even though her father, by now the Duke's secretary, wrote out the will.
  • The important will was witnessed by no less than eight trusted servants, headed by Thomas Gawdy. The executors included Stephen Gardiner, Archbishop of York, Lord Chancellor; Robert Brooke, Chief Justice of Common Pleas; Nicholas Heath, Bishop of Worcester and Robert Rochester, Controller of the Queen Household. Queen Mary was herself appointed supervisor of the will.
  • Sources:
  • Chapman, Hester W.: Two Tudor Portraits: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and Lady Katherine Grey (Little, Brown and Company - 1960 - Boston)
  • Head, David M.: The Ebbs and Flows of Fortune: The Life of Thomas Howard, Third Duke of Norfolk (The University of Georgia Press – Athens & London – 1995)
  • Murphy, Beverley A.: Bastard Prince: Henry VIII's Lost Son (Sutton Publishing Ltd. - 2001 – Phoenix Mill)
  • Routh, C.R.N.: Who´s Who in Tudor England (Who´s Who in British History Series, Vol.4) (Shepeard-Walwyn Ltd. – 1990 – London) (1º Ed. as Who´s Who in History Series, Vol. II - 1964)
  • Smith, Lacey Baldwin: A Tudor tragedy – The life and times of Catherine Howard (The Reprint Society Ltd. – 1962 - London)
  • Williams, Neville: Thomas Howard, fourth Duke of Norfolk (Barrie and Rockliff – 1964 - London)
  • Williams, Neville: Henry VIII and his Court (Cardinal – 1973 – London – 1º Ed. 1971)
  • From:


  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 28
  • Howard, Thomas II (1473-1554) by Mandell Creighton
  • HOWARD, THOMAS II, Earl of Surrey and third Duke of Norfolk of the Howard house (1473–1554), warrior and statesman, was eldest son of Thomas Howard I [q. v.] by his wife Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir Frederick Tilney of Ashwellthorpe Hall, Norfolk. He was born in 1473, and, as a sign of the close alliance between Richard III and the Howard family, was betrothed in 1484 to the Lady Anne (born at Westminster 2 Nov. 1475), third daughter of Edward IV (Buck, History of Richard III, p. 574). The lady had been betrothed by her father by treaty dated 5 Aug. 1480 to Philip, son of Maximilian, archduke of Austria, but Edward IV's death had brought the scheme to nothing. After the overthrow of Richard, despite the change in the fortunes of the Howards, Lord Thomas renewed his claim to the hand of the Lady Anne, who was in constant attendance on her sister, Queen Elizabeth, and Henry VII permitted the marriage to take place in 1495 (the marriage settlement is given by Madox, Formulare Anglicanum, pp. 109-10). The queen settled upon the bride an annuity of 120l. (confirmed by acts of parliament 11 and 12 Hen. VII), and the marriage took place in Westminster Abbey on 4 Feb. 1495. Howard subsequently served in the north under his father, by whom he was knighted in 1498. In 1511 he joined his younger brother, Edward [q. v.], the lord admiral, as captain of a ship in his encounter with the Scottish pirate, Andrew Barton [q. v.] In May 1512 he was made lieutenant-general of the army which was sent to Spain under the command of the Marquis of Dorset, with the intention of joining the forces of Ferdinand for the invasion of Guienne. The troops, ill supplied with food, grew weary of waiting for Ferdinand and insisted upon returning home, in spite of Howard's efforts to persuade them to remain (Brewer, Calendar, i. No. 3451). Henry VIII invaded France next year. Sir Edward Howard fell in a naval engagement in March, and on 2 May 1513 Lord Thomas was appointed lord admiral in his stead. He was not, however, called upon to serve at sea, but fought under his father as captain of the vanguard at the battle of Flodden Field (September 1513), where he sent a message to the Scottish king that he had come to give him satisfaction for the death of Andrew Barton.
  • When his father was created Duke of Norfolk on 1 Feb. 1514, Lord Thomas Howard was created Earl of Surrey. In politics he joined with his father in opposing Wolsey, and was consoled, like his father, for the failure of his opposition to the French alliance by being sent in September 1514 to escort the Princess Mary to France. But Surrey did not see the wisdom of abandoning his opposition to Wolsey so soon as his father. There were stormy scenes sometimes in the council chamber, and on 31 May 1516 we are told that Surrey 'was put out, whatever that may mean' (Lodge, Illustrations, i. 21). His wife Anne died of consumption probably in the winter of 1512-13, and about Easter 1513 he married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward Stafford, duke of Buckingham, by Lady Elinor Percy, daughter of the Earl of Northumberland. The girl, who was little more than fifteen, had already been betrothed to her father's ward, Richard Neville, afterwards fourth earl of Westmorland. The alliance with such families as those of Buckingham and Northumberland strengthened in Surrey the natural objection which he felt to Wolsey's power, and to the policy of depressing the old nobility, but the execution of Buckingham in 1521 taught him a lesson of prudence. When the trial of Buckingham took place, Surrey was in Ireland as lord-lieutenant, and it was said that he had been sent thither of set purpose that he might be out of the way when the nobles received that severe caution. In July 1520 Surrey entered upon the thankless task of endeavouring to keep Ireland in order. His letters contain accounts of attempts to pacify the rival factions of Kildare and Ormonde, and are full of demands for more money and troops.
  • At the end of 1521 Surrey was recalled from Ireland to take command of the English fleet in naval operations against France. His ships were ill-provisioned, and his warfare consisted in a series of raids upon the French coast for the purpose of inflicting all the damage possible. In July 1522 he burned Morlaix, in September laid waste the country round Boulogne, and spread devastation on every side, till the winter brought back the fleet to England. When, in December 1522, his father resigned the office of high treasurer, it was bestowed on Surrey, whose services next year were required on the Scottish border. The Duke of Albany, acting in the interests of France, was raising a party in Scotland, and threatened to cripple England in its military undertakings abroad. Surrey was made warden general of the marches, and was sent to teach Scotland a lesson. He carried out the same brutal policy of devastation as he had used in France, and reduced the Scottish border to a desert. But he did not venture to march on Edinburgh, and Albany found means to reach Scotland from France and gather an army, with which he laid siege to Wark Castle on 1 Nov.; but, when he heard that Surrey was advancing to its relief, he ignominiously retreated. This was felt to be a great victory for Surrey, and Skelton represented the popular opinion in his poem, 'How the Duke of Albany, like a cowardly knight, ran away.'
  • On 21 May 1524 Surrey, by his father's death, succeeded as Duke of Norfolk, but was still employed in watching Scotland and in negotiating with the queen regent, Margaret. In 1525 he was allowed to return to his house at Kenninghall, Norfolk, where, however, his services were soon needed to quell an insurrection which broke out at Lavenham and Sudbury against the loan which was necessitated by the expenses of the French war (Hall, Chronicle, p.700). Norfolk's tact in dealing with the insurgents was successful, but the demand for money was withdrawn. Want of supplies meant that peace was necessary, and in August Norfolk was appointed commissioner to treat for peace with France. When the war was over, the great question which occupied English politics was that of the king's divorce. Norfolk was entirely on the king's side, and waited with growing satisfaction for the course of events to bring about Wolsey's fall. He and the Duke of Suffolk did all they could to increase the king's anger against Wolsey, and enjoyed their triumph when they were commissioned to demand from him the great seal. Norfolk was Wolsey's implacable enemy, and would be content with nothing short of his entire ruin. He presided over the privy council, and hoped to rise to the eminence from which Wolsey had fallen. He devised the plan of sending Wolsey to his diocese of York, and did not rest till he had gathered evidence which raised the king's suspicions and led to Wolsey's summons to London and his death on the journey.
  • Norfolk hoped to fill Wolsey's place, but he was entirely destitute of Wolsey's genius. He could only become the king's tool in his dishonourable purposes. In 1529 he signed the letter to the pope which threatened him with the loss of his supremacy in England if he refused the king's divorce. He acquiesced in all the subsequent proceedings, and waxed fat on the spoils of the monasteries. He was chief adviser of his niece, Anne Boleyn, but followed the fashion of the time in presiding at her trial and arranging for her execution. But, after all his subservience, Thomas Cromwell proved a more useful man than himself. A fruitless embassy to France in 1533, for the purpose of winning Francis I to side with Henry, showed that Norfolk was entirely destitute of Wolsey's diplomatic skill. But there were some points of domestic policy for which he was necessary. He was created earl marshal in 1533, and presided over the trial of Lord Dacre, who, strange to say, was acquitted. In the suppression of the Pilgrimage of Grace, Norfolk alternately cajoled and threatened the insurgents till their forces melted away, and he could with safety undertake the work of official butchery. He held the office of lord president of the council of the north from April 1537 till October 1538, when he could boast that the rebellion had been avenged by a course of merciless punishment.
  • On his return to court Norfolk headed the opposition against Cromwell. He allied himself with Gardiner and the prelates of the old learning in endeavouring to prevent an alliance with German protestantism. In the parliament of 1539 he laid before the lords the bill of the six articles, which became law. 'It was merry in England,' he said, 'before the new learning came up' (Froude, Hist. ch. xix.), and henceforth he declared himself the head of the reactionary party. In February 1540 he again went to Paris as ambassador, to try if he could succeed on this new basis in detaching Francis I from Charles V and gaining him as an ally to Henry VIII (State Papers, Hen. VIII, viii. 245-340). Again he failed in his diplomacy, but after his return he had the satisfaction on 10 June of arresting Cromwell in the council chamber. The execution of his rival threw once again the chief power into Norfolk's hands, and a second time he made good his position by arranging for the marriage of a niece with the king. But the disgrace of Catherine Howard was more rapid than that of Anne Boleyn, and Norfolk again fell back into the position of a military commander. In 1542 he was sent to wage war against Scotland, and again wreaked Henry VIII's vengeance by a barbarous raid upon the borders. It was the terror of his name, and not his actual presence, which ended the war by the disastrous rout of Solway Moss. When Henry went to war with France in 1544, Norfolk in spite of his age was appointed lieutenant-general of the army. The army besieged Montreuil, and, after a long siege, captured Boulogne, but Norfolk could claim no glory from the war. Again he found himself superseded in the royal favour by a powerful rival, the Earl of Hertford, whom he failed to conciliate by a family alliance which was proposed for his acceptance. Under the influence of his last queen (Catherine Parr) and the Earl of Hertford Henry VIII favoured the reforming party, and Norfolk's counsels were little heeded. As the king's health was rapidly failing, it became Hertford's object to remove his rivals out of the way, and in 1546 Norfolk's son, Henry, earl of Surrey [q. v.], was accused of high treason.
  • The charge against the son was made to include the father, and Norfolk's enemies were those of his own household. His private life was discreditable, and shows the debasing effect of the king's example on those around him. Norfolk quarrelled with his wife, who, although of a jealous and vindictive temper, was one of the most accomplished women of the time. She patronised the poet Skelton, who wrote, while her guest at Sheriff Hutton, Yorkshire, 'A Goodly Garlande or Chapelet of Laurell.' But with her husband she was always on bad terms, and accused him of cruelty at the time of her daughter Mary's birth in 1519. The duke soon afterwards took a mistress, Elizabeth Holland, 'a churl's daughter, who was but a washer in my nursery eight years,' as his wife complained to Cromwell (Nott, Works of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, App. xxvii-xxxii.) In 1533 he separated from his wife, who withdrew to Redborne, Hertfordshire, with a very scanty allowance. Appeals of husband and wife to Cromwell and the king failed to secure a reconciliation, and the duchess refused to sue for a divorce. The discord spread among the other members of the family, and they were all at variance. Evidence against Norfolk was given, not only by his wife, but by his daughter, the Duchess of Richmond, and even by Elizabeth Holland, who only wished to save herself and her ill-gotten gains. But the evidence was not sufficient for his condemnation, and Norfolk, a prisoner in the Tower, was persuaded to plead guilty and throw himself on the king's mercy. He signed his confession on 12 Jan. 1547 (Herbert, Reign of Henry VIII, s.a.), and his enemies, who were eager to share the proceeds of his forfeiture, introduced a bill for his attainder into parliament. The bill, of course, passed at once, and the dying king appointed a commission to give it the royal assent. This was done on 27 Jan., and orders were given for Norfolk's execution on the following morning. But in the night the king died, and the lords of the council did not think it wise to begin their rule by an act of useless bloodshed. Norfolk, indeed, had cut the ground from under their feet by sending a petition to the king begging that his estates should be settled on the young Prince Edward, and the king had graciously accepted the suggestion (Nott, App. xxxix.)
  • Norfolk remained a prisoner in the Tower during Edward VI's reign, but was released, on Mary's accession. He petitioned parliament for the reversal of his attainder on the ground that Henry VIII had not signed the commission to give the bill his assent (ib. App. l.) His petition was granted, and he was restored Duke of Norfolk on 3 Aug. 1553. He was further sworn of the privy council and made a knight of the Garter. His services were required for business in which he had ample experience, and on 17 Aug. he presided as lord high steward at the trial of the Duke of Northumberland, and had the satisfaction of sentencing a former opponent to death. In January 1554 the old man was lieutenant-general of the queen's army to put down Wyat's rebellion. In this he displayed an excess of rashness. He marched with far inferior forces against Wyat, whose headquarters were at Rochester, and in a parley was deserted by a band of five hundred Londoners, who were in his ranks. His forces were thrown into confusion and fled, leaving their guns behind. Wyat was thus encouraged to continue his march upon London. Norfolk retired to his house at Kenninghall, Norfolk, where he died on 25 Aug. 1554. He was buried in the church of Framlingham, where a monument, which still exists, was erected over his grave—an altar tomb with effigies of Norfolk and his second wife. (For a discussion of the question whether this is the tomb of the second or third duke, see Trans. of the Suffolk Archæol. Soc. iii. 340-57; there is an engraving in Gent. Mag. 1845, pt. i. p. 266.) Norfolk is described by the Venetian ambassador, Falieri, in 1531 as ‘small and spare of stature and his hair black. He is prudent, liberal, affable, and astute; associates with everybody, has great experience in the administration of the kingdom, discusses affairs admirably, aspires to greater elevation’ (Venetian Calendar, iv. 294-5). This was written when Norfolk, after Wolsey's death, seemed, as the chief of the English nobles, to be the destined successor of Wolsey; but it soon appeared that the Tudor policy was not of a kind which could be best carried out by nobles. Norfolk was influential more through his position than through his abilities, and did not scruple at personal intrigue to secure his power. Still, subservient as he might show himself, he was not so useful as men like Cromwell, and his hopes of holding the chief place were constantly disappointed. He was hot-tempered, self-seeking, and brutal, and his career shows the deterioration of English life under Henry VIII.
  • Norfolk's four children by his first wife died young; by his second wife, who died 30 Nov. 1558 and was buried in the Howard Chapel, Lambeth, he had two sons (Henry, earl of Surrey [q. v.], and Thomas, 1528?-1583, who was educated by Leland, and was created Viscount Howard of Bindon 13 Jan. 1558-9) and one daughter, Mary [q. v.], who married Henry Fitzroy, duke of Richmond [q. v.], natural son of Henry VIII. There is a portrait of Norfolk, by Holbein, at Norfolk House, another at Windsor, and another at Castle Howard. The first of these has been engraved in Lodge's ‘Portraits’ and in Cartwright and Dallaway's ‘History of Sussex.’ There are other engravings by Vorsterman and Scriven.
  • [Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 272-5; Lodge's Portraits, vol. ii.; Doyle's Official Baronage, ii. 591-594; Collins's Peerage, p. 44, &c.; Howard's Memorials of the Howards; Hawes and Loder's Hist. of Framlingham; Brewer and Gairdner's Letters and Papers; State Papers of Hen. VIII; Bergenroth's Spanish Calendar; Brown's Venetian Calendar; Hamilton's Irish Calendar, i. 2-8; Brewer's Calendar of Carew MSS. vol. i.; Turnbull's Calendar of the Reign of Mary; Haynes's Burghley Papers; Nott's Works of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, Appendix; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation; Foxe's Acts and Monuments; Herbert's Reign of Henry VIII; Godwin's Reign of Mary; Lodge's Illustr. of British History, vol. i.; Hall's Chronicle; Cavendish's Life of Wolsey; State Trials, i. 451, &c.; Blomefield's Hist. of Norfolk, iii. 165-6; Dallaway and Cartwright's Hist. of Sussex, vol. ii. pt. ii. pp. 198-205; Sadleir's State Papers, vol. i.; Froude's Hist. of England; Sanford and Townsend's Great Governing Families of England, ii. 323-35; Gent. Mag. 1845, pt. i. pp. 147-52 (a careful account of Anne, the duke's first wife), 259-67 (an account of Elizabeth, the second wife).]
  • From:,_Thomas_II_(1473-1554)_(DNB00)


  • Thomas Howard
  • Birth: 1473
  • Death: Aug. 25, 1554
  • 3rd Duke of Norfolk
  • Family links:
  • Parents:
  • Thomas Howard (1443 - 1524)
  • Elizabeth Tilney Howard (1446 - 1497)
  • Spouses:
  • Elizabeth Stafford (1497 - 1558)
  • Anne Plantagenet Howard (1475 - 1511)*
  • Children:
    • Henry Howard (1517 - 1547)*
    • Mary Howard FitzRoy (1519 - 1557)*
    • Robert Howard (1537 - 1598)*
  • Siblings:
  • Anne Howard de Vere (____ - 1559)**
  • Katherine Howard (____ - 1554)*
  • John Bourchier (1469 - 1533)**
  • Thomas Howard (1473 - 1554)
  • Edmund Howard (1478 - 1539)*
  • Elizabeth Howard Boleyn (1480 - 1538)*
  • Katherine Howard (1508 - 1554)**
  • William Howard (1510 - 1573)**
  • *Calculated relationship
  • **Half-sibling
  • Burial: St Michael Churchyard, Framlingham, Suffolk Coastal District, Suffolk, England
  • Find A Grave Memorial# 33371383
  • From:

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Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk's Timeline

Kenninghall, Norfolk, England
Age 23
Age 27
Norfolk, England
January 19, 1517
Age 44
Hunsdon, Hertfordshire, England
Age 45
Of, London, Middlesex, England
Age 47
Ashwell Thorpe, Northumberland, Norfolk, England
August 25, 1554
Age 81
Kenninghall, Norfolk, England
October 2, 1554
Age 81
St Michael Churchyard ,Framlingham, Suffolk, England