Sunday, August 04, 2013

Question from Steve - Thomas Shales, butler to Catherine Howard

I have come into posession of what is described in an attached letter as a portion of a silk dress which belonged to Catherine Howard which was brought from the tower by her butler Thomas Shales. My understanding is that when she was held in Syon Abbey Catherine only had 6 dresses. I have two questions. Was Thomas Shales a royal butler for the queen? Are there any descriptions of those 6 dresses? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

1 comment:

Conor Byrne said...

Steve, in the accounts of the queen's household in 1540 there is no reference to a Thomas Shales serving Katherine Howard as her butler. Since she was imprisoned at Syon in Nov 1541, a period of some sixteen months later, it is possible that Shales was hired later on, after the initial appointments to her household in July/August 1540 when she married the king.

Sir Ralph Sadley reported to Cranmer that the queen's dresses were to be 'without stone or pearl'. It should be remembered that it had just been declared that Katherine was no longer queen, so it was probably deemed that she was no longer deserving of dresses adorned by queens. Her jewels were confiscated and held by Thomas Seymour, as were those belonging to Lady Rochford.