Thursday, February 15, 2007

Question from Sara - Catherine Carey's birthdate


I was wondering what information there is on the birthdate of Catherine Carey, Mary Boleyn's daughter. I read a lot of Alison Weir's books, and on the family tree in the back it says she was born in 1529, but when I read Philippa Gregory's book "The Other Boleyn Girl," (which I know is fiction, but it does have some fact in it) she said she was born in 1524, and I have read that in other sources, too. Does anyone know anything helpful about her, like why there are two dates and which is more likely?



14 Comments:

Anonymous PhD Historian said...

The confusion over dates of birth is not uncommon among those born prior to the middle of the 1500s. Birth certificates did not exist. The only written record of a birth might be of a baptism (all children were baptized in the first year of life, as soon after birth as possible), but keeping of those records was at that time at the discretion of the local parish officials. Further, female births were less likely to be recorded than male births, as women had no independent status at law. In specific regard to Catherine (or Katherine) Carey, later Lady Knollys, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography gives her birth as circa 1523. The author of the entry compares her birth to that of her brother Henry Carey: "Henry Carey's date of birth (4 March 1526) suggests that his conception may have postdated [Mary Boleyn's]affair [with Henry VIII]; but Katherine was probably the elder of the two and the king's daughter. Her surviving portrait, which was painted early in 1562 and records her age as thirty-eight, suggests a birth date of 1523/4, and this is in keeping with the known facts of her early adulthood. In November 1539 she was appointed a maid of honour to Anne of Cleves, and on 26 April 1540 she married Francis Knollys (1511/12–1596). According to a note in Francis's Latin dictionary their first child, Henry, was born ‘the Tuesday before Easter Day [12 April] 1541’. Since maids to an adult queen were usually aged sixteen or more, and marriage at thirteen or less did not usually involve cohabitation, this evidence, too, suggests that Katherine was older than her brother and born before 1525." Weir is therefore probably incorrect in giving 1529 as Katherine Carey's year of birth. Philippa Gregory is perhaps more accurate, even though her book was fictional.

February 16, 2007 2:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that it was basically confirmed that Mary Boleyn was pregnant with Katherine when her husband died and that one of her children confirmed this. And really, The Other Boleyn Girl basically has no fact in it, aside from the very very basic ones, I swear.

April 04, 2007 6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

II think that people should just agree on a date instead of people saying this and that date because im really confused!!!

May 24, 2007 4:07 AM  
Anonymous monica said...

Mary Boleyn was pregnant when her husband died, according to one source, but this is almost definitely a child who did not survive, of whom she probably had many.

November 27, 2007 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone look at Lettice Knollys' picture, daughter of Catherine Carey, and honestly think she's not the great granddaughter of Henry VIII AND neice of Elizabeth !?

February 20, 2008 12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, i am pretty sure that Catherine Carey was born before 1525 because she was married in 1539 which suggests that she was older than ten. The Other Boleyn Girl does have many factual points in it, Trust me I'm a Tudor Know It All! I swear I like spend at least 4 hours a day reasearching them! Anyway, I do not believe that Mary was even pregnant in 1529 when her husband died. Her son Henry was born in 1526, which is a fact so if Catherine was married in 1539 she was definately older than Henry.

March 08, 2008 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would just like to know when Katherine Carey was born? My genealogy sheets says around 1540. However, that is impossible if her mother Anne Morgan was born 1529?

March 19, 2008 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw the movie the other Boleyn girl, and I have many questions??
I am just wondering if the Royal family will ever let there be DNA work done on some very old royal bones? It would be nice to have proof on some genealogy lines, particularly Mary Boleyn family genealogy.

March 19, 2008 5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I don't think you can use DNA as far back as the Tudor Dynasty. There is no 100% proof of anyone's parentage without DNA. Try Following the descendants of Mary Boleyn through her daughter at the Peerage.com. Mary Boleyn's daugher is called Mary there and not Katherine or Catherine (which is odd). Besides a line down to Beatrice Windsor through her mother Sarah Ferguson you will also find a line down to William Windsor through his mother the late Lady Diana. Do William and Beatrice share Henry VIII's DNA or only Henry VII's.

April 02, 2008 7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Philippa Gregory is probably more correct because, like everyone else says, if Catherine Carey's birth date was in 1529, she would only have been 10 when she married Sir Francis Knollys. Though not impossible (Grace Newport, another Tudor girl, was married at age 8), it is highly unlikely in Catherine Carey's case because she gave birth to her first child only a year after her marriage. Normally if someone got married when they were younger than 12, then consummation of the marriage would not take place, so if this was the case for Catherine, then she wouldn't have had her child. I do think, though, that there must be a mistaken source somewhere, because the author Jean Plaidy supports a birth date of 1529 as well as Alison Weir.

June 29, 2009 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though I agree that Lettice, Catherine's daughter, resembles Elizabeth, I don't think that this is evidence that Catherine is Henry VIII's daughter (thus making her Elizabeth's half-sister) because Catherine and Elizabeth would be cousins anyway, as their mothers were Mary and Anne Boleyn, who were, of course, sisters. As for the anonymous source who basically implied that Lettice Knollys must be "the great granddaughter of Henry VIII", this would be incorrect anyway, even if Catherine was Henry's daughter, because Lettice is Catherine's daughter, so Henry VIII would be Lettice's grandfather, not her great grandfather. When the author of this comment has made such an error, we need to question the reliability of their sources. I haven't seen a single picture of Henry VIII where he bears any resemblance to Lettice. The only thing I can think of slightly similar between the two is that they both appear to be very strong-willed people (it's something you can almost feel when you look at their portraits)but this does not necessarily suggest a family connection. Besides, Anne Boleyn (Lettice's great aunt) was said to have been very strong willed. In fact, there are even reports from ambassadors at the time, for example, the Spanish ambassador Chapuys, which speak of "the concubine" (as Chapuys called Anne in his letters to the emperor Charles) daring to argue with Henry VIII and throw what might be classed as "a temper tantrum" in today's society when she could not get what she wanted. Ultimately, this was probably what led to her downfall. Lettice, therefore, most probably inherited her sense of independence from Anne, not Henry. I am not saying that Catherine Carey definitely wasn't Henry VIII's daughter, or even that it is unlikely, because it isn't, especially in view of the fact that Mary Boleyn was Henry VIII's acknowledged mistress. All I am saying is that you need to consider all the options before making such dramatic assumptions.

June 29, 2009 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please do not assume that Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl is an entirely fictional work, because it isn't. Whichever anonymous person wrote "The Other Boleyn Girl basically has no fact in it, aside from the very very basic ones, I swear" is wrong. For a start, at the meeting in Calais between Henry VIII and the French king Francis I, both Mary Carey and William Stafford are on the lists as people who were present. Also, there is a surviving letter written from Mary to Thomas Cromwell which begs him to ask Anne for forgiveness (Anne banished her sister for marrying William Stafford and getting pregnant with his child) and she says that "Love overcame reason and for my part I saw so much honesty in him, that I loved him as well as he did me." She then goes on to say that "I could never have had [a husband] that should have loved me more deeply, though I might have had a greater man of birth and a higher . . . I had rather beg my bread with him than be the greatest queen in Christendom . . . I believe verily he would not forsake me to be a king." This seems to prove that Mary did fall for William Stafford, just as Gregory asserts in her novel. Interestingly, on close inspection, some of Mary's dialogue in The Other Boleyn Girl seems to be an exact quotation of the Cromwell letter, which proves that Philippa Gregory's novel is not just a fictional work.

June 29, 2009 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoever said that Catherine Carey's mother was Anne Morgan is thinking of a different Katherine Carey (with a k), who was the daughter of Henry Carey and Anne Morgan (Henry Carey was Mary Boleyn's son, and thus Catherine Carey's brother). Katherine Carey is, therefore, the niece of Catherine Carey. And as for her birth date, it could be a mistake, but not necessarily because Lady Margaret Beaufort gave birth to Henry VII aged 12. Still, it is unlikely because most marriages which took place under the age of 12 were not consummated. Lady Margaret Beaufort is really only an exception to the rule.

June 30, 2009 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See "Sir Francis Knollys's Latin Dictionary: new evidence for Katherine Cary", by Sally Varlow, Institute of Historical Research, 2006, published by Blackwell Publishing. This is a 9 page discussion of the family birthdates and other birthdates listed in the Dictionary much as if it had been a family Bible. These are contemporaneous entries by Sir Francis circa 1555-58 so they pin vital statistics on the family not otherwise known solidly. On page 6, Ms. Varlow says "...Whether she [Katherine] was already aged thirty-eight, or was in her thirty-eighth year, is also open to question; if the former then she was born in the twelve months before March/April 1524; if the latter, the latest date for her birth is March/April 1525. In either case, her conception falls within the period when her mother, Mary Boleyn, is believed by many historians to have been Henry VIII's mistress."

This and other articles analyze the likelihood of the Carey children having Henry VIII as their biological father, but its main contribution is to use newly uncovered evidence from Catherine's own family to pin down the date range when Catherine Carey was born. It clearly wasn't anywhere near as late as 1529 based on the family's own records of Catherine's marriage and the birthdates of each of her children.
/ Tom Gull

November 06, 2009 10:50 PM  

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