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Awdrey Harington (Malte)

Latin: Ethelreda Mault
Also Known As: "Etheldreda Malte", "Awdrey Dyngley Malte", "Awdrey Dingley", "Esther"
Birthdate: (27)
Birthplace: Stepney, London, Middlesex, England
Death: circa April 1, 1559 (19-35)
Kelston, Somerset, England
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John Malte and Joane Dobson
Wife of John ‘the poet’ Harington, Esq., of Stepney
Mother of Hester Stubbs
Half sister of Bridget St. Loe

Occupation: Elizabeth Tudor's attendant; lord of the manor of Watchfield
Managed by: Kristal Amber Fawcett
Last Updated:

About Awdrey Harington



Ethelreda Malte, also called Audrey and Esther, was the daughter of John Malte (d.1547), Henry VIII's tailor, and Joanna Dyngley, although some sources claim she was the natural daughter of the king. Malte, however, claimed her as his own. Joanna Dyngley apparently took no part in her daughter’s life and was married to a man named Dobson at some point after Ethelreda's birth. As for John Malte, he received a sizeable grant of land from the king in 1541, including the manors of Watchenfeld and Offyngton in Berkshire, and another, with Ethelreda, in 1546. John Malte will is dated September 10, 1546 and was proved June 7, 1547. In it he calls Ethelreda Awdrey Malte, my bastard daughter, begotten on the body of Joane Dingley, now wife of one Dobson. At some point between September 1546 and November 11, 1547, Ethelreda married John Harington of Stepney (1525-July 1,1582). At that time he was in the service of Thomas Seymour, Lord Seymour of Sudeley. Ethelreda and John had one child, a daughter they named Hester (d.1568+). In 1554, Ethelreda was one of Elizabeth Tudor attendants during the princess's incarceration in the Tower of London. Ethelreda was still living in October 1555, when she settled Kelston on her husband. Her death occurred before April 1, 1559.

Biography: Ruth Hughey, John Harington of Stepney . Philippa Jone€™s The Other Tudors: Henry VIIIs Mistresses and Bastards spends a good deal of time making the argument that Ethelreda’s mother was Joan Moore, daughter of Sir John Moore of Dunkelyn, Worcestershire, who married first Michael Asshefelde, then James Dingley, and finally Thomas Parker of Notgrove and she goes on to say that Joan and Thomas Parker had three sons. She explains the name Dobson as a error in transcription for Dunkelyn. This obviously doesnt work if Malte will specifically reads Joane Dingley, now wife of one Dobson. Certainly Malte would know the difference between a place and a person. Jones doesnt quote that section, but does state that Maltes will left 20 to Joan Dyngley, otherwise Joane Dobson. She further suggests a date of 1535 for Ethelreda’s birth, which is considerably later than other scholars estimate. This allows her to propose Joan as the mysterious mistress of 1534 who was a friend of Princess Mary€™. Since her theory is so speculative, apparently based on the belief that the king would not consort with a lowborn woman like a laundress (Joan's place in the royal household according to other sources), it only surprises me that Jones does not suggest this same Joan Parker as the Mistress Parker who was supposedly Henry VIII€™s mistress around 1520! It spite of this flight of fancy, Jones does provide one or two details on Ethelreda that I am prepared to accept. One is the existence of a portrait sold in 1942 to an unknown collector. It is described as three-quarter length with the subject in an embroidered dress. At the same time, the portrait of Ethelreda’s daughter Hester also vanished. It was described as a child holding a book. Jones suggests that John Malte lived with his daughter, Bridget Scutt, and that Ethelreda continued to live with the Scutts after his death, marrying John Harington somewhat later than Harington's biographer proposes. Jones also gives Ethelreda an earlier suitor. She believes that Ethelreda was always sickly (the excuse for her husband's interest in Isabella Markham) and died in November 1555 at St. Catherine’s Court. She also suggests, on very little "proof," that Harington had an earlier first wife named Esther. One record Jones quotes calls Ethelreda John Malte bastard daughter Etheldred alias Dingley. My take: in the usual usage of the time, that would mean Dingley was the name Ethelreda was born with, ie. her mothers surname at the time. All in all, Jones book makes interesting reading, but I don€™t believe her conclusions about Ethelreda and others are any more valid than those I present in this who's who, and I have the excuse of being a novelist rather than a scholar."


[Notes from]

Henry's tailor, John Malte, was persuaded to recognise Ethelreda as his illegitimate daughter, born in the late 1520's. Her mother, Joan Dyngley, a royal laundress, was married off to a man named Dobson. Ethelreda (or Audrey) took the surname Malte and married John Harrington in 1547. Henry granted lands to Ethelreda. She was still living in 1555, but died before 1559 as her husband remarried in that year. He inherited all the lands Henry VIII had granted her.

Ethelreda Malte, also sometimes named as Audrey Malte (born c. 1527), was a lady at the court of Henry VIII of England. She married John Harington but their marriage was childless. She had previously been engaged.[1] Ethelreda owned properties previously belonging to Shaftsbury Nunnery.[2]

According to some reports, she was the illegitimate daughter of the King.[3] Her mother, Joan Dingley, was the royal laundress and the man who claimed to be her father, John Malte, was the King's tailor. Although he was not married to her mother he did leave Ethelreda money in his will.

, Henry VIII did give his tailor, John Malte, land and properties, including St Catherine's Court, when Malte recognised her as his illegitimate daughter.[4]


  1. Visitation of England and Wales v9 p121. "Pedigree of Harington.". Text: Hester, living in 1568.

Harington seems to have been a confidential servant of Henry VIII, and revived the fortunes of his house by marrying a natural daughter of the king, Etheldreda, daughter of Joanna Dyngley or Dobson, who was brought up by the king's tailor, John Malte, as a natural daughter of his own.

Henry granted her the monastic forfeitures of Kelston, Batheaston, and Katharine in Somerset, and on his marriage in 1546 Harington settled at Kelston, near Bath, on his wife's estate (Collinson, History of Somersetshire, i. 128). Etheldreda soon died without issue, leaving her lands to her husband, who showed his gratitude to his benefactor by devoting himself to the service of the Princess Elizabeth.

From "the Manor of Watchfield"

John Malte died in December 1546 and in his Will he left the Manor of Watchfield to his daughter when she was about 14. Awdrey went on to marry John Harrington, a member of an ancient and respected family. Harrington was well connected; Queen Elizabeth for instance, being his son€™s Godmother. So the question arises as to why such a union would have taken place between a man of Harrington€™s stature and a tailor’s daughter? Perhaps the rumour of her father actually being the King may not have been such a well-kept secret.

At this point in the timescale, a number of complicated legal procedures called Common Recovery took place. This is a legal loophole available at the time, designed to remove restrictions from property documents and thus enable it to be transferred more quickly and cheaply. But the process can cause problems for the historical record and is probably responsible for the enigmatic listing of, €˜Harrington, George Henage & Elizabeth, in 1568.

What is certain is that Hester, the daughter of John Harrington and Awdrey, was the legal owner of the Manor of Watchfield in 1568 having reached the age of 14. The same legal process was probably carried out in order for Hester to pass the title of the Manor to her husband William Stubbes when she married him in London in 1574.


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Awdrey Harington's Timeline

London, Middlesex, England
Age 21
Westminster, Middlesex , England
April 1, 1559
Age 27
Somerset, England