Monday, 10 January 2011

Sir Thomas Parr, father of Queen Katherine Parr

Sir Thomas Parr (c. 1483 – 11 November 1517) was an English nobleman, Lord of the Manor of Kendal in Westmorland (now Cumbria). He is best known as the father of Queen Katherine Parr.
He was the son of Sir William Parr of Kendal and the Lady Elizabeth Fitzhugh, later known as Baroness Vaux of Harrowden. He was descended from King Edward III of England through his mother, Lady Elizabeth.[1]
Section by Meg McGath:
Thomas Parr was the descendant of a rough and ready northern gentry clan, the Parrs of Kendal. They had been, after the crown, the most influential presence in Southern Westmoreland since 1381. His mother and grandmother before him were royal ladies-in-waiting giving Sir Thomas an upbringing at court.[1]
Sir Thomas was most likely a scholar under Maurice Westbury of Oxford who was installed as a teacher by Lady Margaret Beaufort at her estate of Colyweston. It was at Colyweston that certain gentlemen, including the son of the Earl of Westmoreland, were taught not only education but important future political connections. Thomas' father, William Parr, 1st Baron Parr of Kendal had once been Lady Margaret Beaufort's revisionary heir to her substantial lands in Westmoreland, known as the Richmond fee. Thomas' grandmother's family, the Vaux's, were close to and had had a long time relationship with Margaret. Through his education Thomas was a scholar in Latin, Greek, and modern languages. He was a master of wards.[1]
Parr was fond of Sir Thomas More. He found his ways of education to be useful and looked to his household when it was time to educate his own children. Sir Thomas More's first wife, Jane, was a niece of Parr, therefore making More an in-law. Parr was also an advocate of his cousin, Sir Cuthbert Tunstall's teachings; which included that of mathematics; something that his daughter Katherine would use later in her life as the lady of many households.[1]
Under the rule of King Henry VIII the Parr family flourished. Influence, income, and titles increased as the Parr's became more involved with the court of Henry VIII. Thomas became Master of the Guards and Comptroller to Henry VIII. He was knighted and made sheriff of Northampton in 1509, and of Lincolnshire in 1510. His wife, Maud, became a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. Shortly before the birth of their first child, Katherine, the couple had bought a house in Blackfriars, London. Sir Thomas was popular with the King and had served at court with such men as Sir Thomas More. Although he was rich in land and money, Thomas never attained the title of Baron. Sir Thomas was found to have held messuages, lands, woods, and rents in Parr, Wigan, and Sutton; with the manor of Thurnham.[1]


He married Maud Green (6 April 1495 – 20 August 1529), daughter of Sir Thomas Green and Joan Fogge in 1508. Before the birth of Catherine, Maud gave birth to a son shortly after their marriage. The happiness was short lived as the baby quickly died and his name was never known. After the birth of their third child, Anne, Maud again became pregnant c. 1517, the same year of Thomas' death. The baby was either lost through a miscarriage, stillbirth, or death in early infancy. Whatever the cause, it must have been somewhat of a relief as the baby came at a most difficult time.[2]

Children of Sir Thomas and Maud:
  • Katherine Parr (c. 1512–5 September 1548); Queen consort of England and Ireland, who married four times:
    • Sir Edward Borough, 1529 at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, England.
    • John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer, 1534 in London, Middlesex, England.
    • King Henry VIII of England, 1543 at Hampton Court.
    • Sir Thomas Seymour on 4 Apr 1547. Had issue: Lady Mary Seymour.[2]
  • William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton (c. 1513–28 October 1571) He married three times, all without issue:[2]
    • Anne Bourchier, 7th Baroness Bourchier
    • Elisabeth Brooke
    • Helena Snakenborg.
  • Anne Parr, Countess of Pembroke (c. 1515-20 February 1552), married in 1538, William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, by whom she had two sons and a daughter. Anne was the only child to have surviving issue. Her descendants include the current Earls of Pembroke.[3]


In November 1517, Thomas fell ill. He left a will for his wife and children leaving dowry's and his inheritance to his only son, William, but as he died before any of his children were of age, Maud along with Cuthbert Tunstall, their uncle Sir William Parr, and Dr. Melton were made executors. Sir Thomas died in his home at Blackfriars, London on 11 November 1517 leaving two daughters and a son. He was buried in St. Anne's Church, Blackfriars, beneath an elaborate tomb. His widow, upon her death, was buried beside him.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f James, Susan. Catherine Parr: Henry VIII's Last Love. The History Press. 1 Jan 2009.
  2. ^ a b Catherine Parr 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 VII, page 483. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.
  3. ^ Anne Parr, Lady Herbert entry of Anne Parr, Lady Herbert.
  4. ^ "thePeerage". Retrieved 2010-09-20
  5. ^ "thePeerage". Retrieved 2010-09-20

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