Saturday, May 31, 2008

Question from Elizabeth - More possible illegitimate children of Henry VIII

I read on wikipedia that there were several women rumored to have given birth to Henry VIII's illegitimate children. It lists them as Jane Stucley (who gave birth to Thomas Stucley), Mary Berkeley (who gave birth to John Perrot) and Joan Dyngley (mother of Ethelreda Malte). Does anyone have any more information on these women and their children? Does anyone think these could really be his?

5 comments:

PhD Historian said...

May I just say before answering the question directly that Wikipedia is a notoriously unreliable source of information? Because of its policy of open-editing, literally anyone can add in literally anything, and there is zero formal quality control. Trust nothing that you read on Wikipedia. Always check with more reliable sources, as you have done.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry on Stucley notes that there was a rumor in the 1500s that he as an illegitimate son of Henry VIII but does not assess the veracity of the rumor. The ODNB says definitively that Mary Berkeley was never a mistress of Henry VIII and therefore John Perrot was not Henry's illegitimate son. The ODNB does not mention Joan Dyngley/Dingley or Ethelreda (aka Audrey) Malte. I did find a 50 year old academic journal article that mentions the Henry-Ethelreda connection, however. The article notes that Henry VIII granted considerable property to Ethelreda and her heirs in 1546 and argues that this is evidence that she may have been his illegitimate daughter.

Monica said...

Unfortunately, I don't think there's any truth in these rumours. None of them date from Henry's lifetime. All were started by the men themselves or their descendants, who would have liked the idea that they were descended from royalty.

All three children you mention were born c.1524-1527, a time when we don't know of him having a mistress. It is likely, from the love letters he sent Anne, that for a while into his courtship of her he was seeing other women, as he wrote promising to cast aside her rivals for his affection if she would submit to him.

However, there is no evidence that he even knew these particular women. He certainly didn't make provision for them - they weren't even given places at court as soon as they were old enough as Henry and Catherine Carey were. It is now impossible to prove or disprove, but there is no evidence to back these up.

GarethR said...

The rumours are repeated in Alison Weir's excellent gynealogical study "Britain's Royal Families" (1991)

Anonymous said...

It is accepted that Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond was Henry VIII's recognized bastard.

Alma said...

I suggest you read this book: "The other Tudors" by Phillipa Jones...it gives facts and doesn´t totally support that they where his children but leaves open the possiblities...again given by facts. I do believe Henry has more children since he obviously has more mistresses, it´s not uncommon.
Alma