Archive for the ‘Sir Henry Lee’ Category


This week I started re-reading the book “The Other Tudors – Henry VIII’s Mistresses and Bastards by Philippa Jones. How did I miss the possibility that our Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet may have helped raise one of Henry VIII’s bastard sons? His own nephew, Henry Lee?!

Page 297 – “Another rumoured illegitimate son of Henry VIII’s was Sir Henry Lee. John Aubrey, in his Brief Lives, wrote of Sir Henry Lee (1530-1610): ‘Old Sir Harry Lee (was) knight of the Garter and was supposed brother of Queen Elizabeth. He ordered that all his family should be christened Harry’s.’

Wikipedia states “Margaret was one of Anne’s chief ladies-in-waiting, and accompanied her to Calais, France in 1532, where it is presumed Anne and Henry VIII made secret plans to marry in the immediate future. It is known that Anne had a lady-in-waiting who ‘she loves as a sister,’ and it has been suggested that this lady was Margaret. She was certainly part of the Queen’s circle of favorites. As Mistress of the Queen’s Wardrobe, she would presumably have played a leading part in the decadent social life at court in the mid-1530s, which was fuelled by the extravagance of Henry and Anne.”

Well, the imagination just runs wild. Anne Boleyn was crazy jealous and Margaret was described as her “favorite”. That implies trust. Well, when you compare her painting to Anne’s – I’m sorry, no contest. Anne was beautiful and Margaret looks pinched and shrewish.

I wondered what might have inspired Henry to seduce Anne’s best friend. Or maybe he didn’t need much inspiration. Henry Lee’s birth year is uncertain. If he was conceived between 1529 and 1532, that was probably Henry VIII’s response to Anne “holding out for marriage”. She was also getting unbearably bitchy, thinking his divorce would never happen.  (She actually made Henry cry; unbelievable.)

So in 1532 Henry was elevating Anne.  In September he made her Lady Marquess of Pembroke; it’s assumed she finally surrendered to him sexually around that time.

In January of 1533 their secret marriage was celebrated in Calais and she was telling our Sir Tom that she had “a hankering for apples.” (Implying pregnancy.) In April her household was established and she appeared in public as queen.

By then she was obviously pregnant. The king ordered the churches to pray on her account; in one parish, everyone walked out. One woman was imprisoned for shouting out “God Save Queen Katherine” and calling Anne a “goggle-eyed whore.”

Anne’s coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on June 1 and St. Edward’s crown was used, since it was assumed she was carrying a prince.  Our Sir Tom served as chief ewerer in place of his father, pouring scented water over the queen’s hands. If his feelings were what they say they were, that had to be an unbearably emotional experience.

By then, Anne’s arrogance was out of control. Norfolk – Anne’s uncle and Sir Tom’s godfather – was in charge of the coronation and barely on speaking terms with his niece.  

Henry was straying and when she blew up at him, he reminded her to endure “as more worthy persons”. (Namely Katherine of Aragon; SMACK!)

Elizabeth was born 9/7/1533. The gender was a huge disappointment. Announcements had already been printed, so S’s were hastily added to “prince”.

As stated, we don’t know when Henry Lee was born. I did a quick search but wasn’t able to find the date of Margaret’s marriage to Sir Anthony Lee of Quarendon. Henry VIII had learned to restrict his flings to married women, but he wanted the husbands to keep a distance until he had had enough of the woman. The woman was elevated through her relationship with the king. Sometimes an advantageous marriage was “arranged” so an honorable husband would be standing by to accept responsibility for any “issue”. It was common for Henry’s child to be the woman’s first. 

Henry Lee was the firstborn of Margaret and Sir Anthony. This could explain why the child was sent to Allington to live with his uncle, our Sir Tom. (Margaret and Anthony went on to have 8 more children.)

You have to wonder at Margaret’s steel to be able to hide such a deception from her friend; still, she was with Anne to the end. Wikipedia says, she “was sent to attend her royal mistress in the Tower of London in May 1536 when the Queen was arrested on charges of adultery, treason, and incest. Margaret also attended Anne on the scaffold on May 19, and even received the last gift of a prayer book from her. After Anne was beheaded, Margaret acted as chief mourner at her small funeral. Anne had written a short farewell to Margaret inside the prayer book:

“Remember me when you do pray,
that hope doth lead from day to day.” 

On page 299 of The Other Tudors Philippa writes “Sir Henry Lee was the son of Sir Anthony Lee and Margaret, the daughter of Henry Wyatt, Privy Councillor to Henry VIII. There was certainly no contemporary suggestion that Sir Henry Lee was Henry VIII’s son.”  

The possibility is not broached on tudorplace.com, but there’s a lot of great information on this interesting relative.  http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/Bios/HenryLee.htm

We do know his half-sister (?) Queen Elizabeth treated him very well.  He became her champion in 1570 and Master of the Royal Armouries in 1580. The fact that he enjoyed writing poetry is probably a tribute to the years he spent with his famous uncle.

The somewhat lewd inscription on his tombstone is a tribute to his – um – colorful lifestyle, sassy mistress and unusual sense of humor.  

 Here lies the good old knight Sir Harry,

Who loved well but would not marry;

While he lived and had his feeling,

She did lie and he was kneeling.

Now he’s dead and cannot feel,

He doth lie and she doth kneel. 

Per Wikipedia: Anthony Lee was apparently descended from the Lee family of Lee Hall, Staffordshire, England; it is unknown if this family was related to the Lee Family of Coton Hall, Nordley Regis, Shropshire, England from whom the Lee family of Virginia was allegedly descended.

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