Anne Dacre, Countess of Surrey

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Anne Dacre, Countess of Arundel

Also Known As: "Anne /Dacre/"
Birthdate: (73)
Birthplace: Gilsland, Cumberland, England
Death: April 19, 1630 (73)
Shifnal Manor, Shropshire, England
Place of Burial: Arundel, Sussex, England
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Thomas Dacre, 4th Baron Dacre of Gilsland and Elizabeth Leyburne, Duchess of Norfolk
Wife of Saint Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel
Mother of Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel and Elizabeth Howard
Sister of Francis Dacre; George Dacre, 5th Baron Gillesland & 4th Baron Greystoke; Mary Dacre, Lady Howard; Elizabeth Dacre and Magdalene Dacre

Occupation:, Countess of Arundel
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Anne Dacre, Countess of Surrey

Anne Dacre was born on 21 March 1557.1 She was the daughter of Thomas Dacre, 4th Baron Dacre of Gillesland and Elizabeth Leyburne.1 She married Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel, son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk and Lady Mary Fitzalan, in 1571.1 She died on 19 April 1630 at age 73 at Shifnal Manor, Shropshire, England.1 She was buried at Arundel Castle, Arundel, Sussex, England.1

    From 1571, her married name became Howard. As a result of her marriage, Anne Dacre was styled as Countess of Arundel on 24 February 1579/80. Before September 1584 she became a Roman Catholic.2

Anne was Philip's foster sister

Anne Howard, Countess of Arundel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anne Howard, née Dacre, was the Countess of Arundel. She lived from 1557 to 1630 and was a Catholic conspirator. Her husband was imprisoned and became a Catholic saint.

Family background

Anne was born in Carlisle, England, on 21 March, 1557, the daughter of Thomas Dacre, 4th Baron Dacre of Gilsland, and Elizabeth Leybourn of Cumbria. After her father's death in 1566, Anne's mother married Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, the premier duke of England; she was his third wife. Her mother was openly Catholic during the reign of the Protestant Elizabeth I.[1]

[edit]Marriage and conversion

Anne married her stepbrother, Philip Howard, then Earl of Surrey, in 1569, with both bride and groom aged twelve. It was not a happy marriage and the couple saw little of each other.[1] She converted to Catholicism in the early 1580s, as did her husband. After her husband was imprisoned in the Tower of London and Anne was sent to her estates, Mary, Queen of Scots made contact with Anne. Her husband died in 1595 of dysentery and was later canonised as St. Philip Howard. The Countess was involved in hiding priests and financially supporting the Jesuits in England. Despite her close links with the Catholic conspiracy to replace Elizabeth I with her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth did not have the Howards executed. In fact Mary Stuart wrote to Anne addressing her as "cousin" in 1585.[2] Anne died of natural causes on 19 April 1630, twenty-seven years after the Queen, aged seventy-three.[1]


Howard had poetry published under her name although its authenticity is not certain. The verse is written in Latin and concerns her great-great-grandmother Eleanor Percy, Duchess of Buckingham. The choice of Eleanor as a subject of her verse is seen as evidence of her piety.[2]


^ a b c Howard (née Dacre), Anne, countess of Arundel (1557–1630), noblewoman and priest harbourer in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004)

^ a b Tudor and Stuart Women Writers By Louise Schleiner, Connie McQuillen, Lynn E. Roller, 1994,

Oldest daughter and one of the heiresses of Thomas Dacre, Lord of Gillesland, by his second wife, Elizabeth Leyburne. Following the death of his husband, Lady Dacre remarried, 29 Jan 1567, Thomas Howard, 4º Duke of Norfolk, a matrimonial alliance aimed at securing the property of the great Dacre family for the Howards. The Duke and Lady Dacre were married and their little children married too. They were brought up by their stepfather, and by their grandmother, Helen Preston, dowager Lady Mounteagle.

In Sep 1571, when Anne was fourteen, was married to Phillip Howard, baron Greystoke and Earl of Arundel. He should have succeeded his father to the dukedom, but Thomas Howard was executed for treason in 1572 and the title was forfeit. Norfolk requested that “Meggy and Nan” — his daughter, Margaret Howard, and Anne — be given into the care of the Frances Sidney, Countess of Sussex. Phillip Howard was taken into the household of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, then attended St. John’s College, Cambridge, and then went to court. Phillip soon left his quiet, young wife for the glamour of Elizabeth's court, where he wasted their money and property to flatter the Queen. Anne was driven from her home and rumours came to her of infidelities of doubts cast on the validity of her marriage and always there was the indifference of Phillip and the contempt of the Court for her simple goodness. In 1581, Phillip succeeded to his maternal grandfather’s title as earl of Arundel and shortly thereafter he and Anne began to live together, part of the time at Arundel Castle.

This part of her pilgrimage lasted about eleven years. She became after her conversion the patroness of Father Southwell and of many priests, and eventually founded the novitiate of the Jesuits at Ghent. Then there was a brief togetherness with Phillip which had its own pain and dangers. Anne Dacre and Phillip's favorite sister, Margaret Sackville, were reconciled to the Catholic Church. When Anne openly converted to Catholicism, which was against the law, the Queen committed her to the custody of Sir Thomas Sherley at Wiston House. Anne returned to the full practice of her faith. She was successful in convincing her husband to convert to Catholicism as well, a step he took on 30 Sep 1584. Phillip was moved by the influence of Fr. Edmund Campion to seek reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church. The Queen was furious with rage. As a result, he was made a prisoner in his own house by order of the Queen. He was released in Apr 1584 and Anne was allowed to leave Wiston in Sep. Anne had to bear her first child away from home, and, as part of a last, desperate appeasement by Phillip, the child was christened a Protestant and named Elizabeth.

Phillip however went boldly and rashly into his new convictions, and minds subtler than his duped him into treasonous plots. In April 1585, Phillip made secret plans to flee the country. Contrary winds delayed his escape and when he finally set sail, his ship was boarded and he was returned to shore. He was confined in the Beauchamp Tower, charged with trying to escape the realm. His brother William and sister Margaret and his uncle, Henry Howard, were also arrested.

Shortly after he was imprisoned, Anne gave birth to their son and heir, Thomas. Anne and her two children were reduced to living in one wing of Arundel House on a pension of £8 a week. She could not visit Phillip and the Queen ordered the gaoler to lie to Phillip that his second child was a girl, not the longed-for son and heir. All these years Anne could never see Phillip and, as he drew near to death, only by renouncing their faith would they be allowed to meet.

Anne managed, however, to scrape together £30 to bribe Cecily Hopton, one of the daughters of the Lord Lieutenant, to provide her husband with access to a priest, William Bennett, who was also imprisoned in the Tower of London. Bennett secretly said mass in Phillip’s cell until, in the autumn of 1588, they were discovered and Bennett was transferred to another prison.

On various occasions it was reported to his wife that the Earl was drinking in prison, that he had affairs with all kinds of loose women, and was entirely indifferent to religious concerns. Even where he was at the point of death in 1596, it was made a condition that he must renounce his faith if he wanted to see Anne and the children before he died.

From 1589 until 1595, Robert Southwell secretly lived in Anne’s household as her priest. Under James I, Anne regained possession of some of her properties, including Shifnal Manor, Shropshire, where she died. She spent her last years writing a memoir with the help of a live-in biographer. He finished it five years after her death.

Anne lived to 73 years of age, revered for good works. She was described in life as being "taller of stature than the common sort" and "somewhat corpulant" in her last years. Her last cross was the apostasy (during her lifetime) of her son Thomas, again for advancement at Court.

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Anne Dacre, Countess of Surrey's Timeline

March 21, 1557
Gilsland, Cumberland, England
Age 26
Finchingfield, Essex, England
July 7, 1585
Age 28
Finchingfield, Essex, England
April 19, 1630
Age 73
Shifnal Manor, Shropshire, England
Age 72
Arundel, Sussex, England