Famous Cumbrians: Catherine Parr, Queen of England (1512-1548)

Catherine Parr copyright expiredQueen of England from 1543 – 1547, Catherine Parr was the last of Henry VIII’s six wives. Catherine was born at Kendal Castle just south of the Lakes, and was an excellent example of Cumbria’s strong-willed, outspoken and fair-minded womenfolk. She had been widowed twice before she caught the king’s eye in 1543 and was obliged to marry him despite her relationship with Sir Thomas Seymour, brother of the nine-days’ queen, Jane Seymour. For three months in 1544, Catherine was appointed Regent whilst Henry VIII was away in France, and carried out all the king’s responsibilities.

In 1547, Henry died, and Catherine was free to marry Seymour; her stepdaughter, the future Elizabeth I, came to live with them. Sadly, the relationship was soured by Seymour’s attraction to the young princess, and a pregnant Catherine was obliged to send Elizabeth away. Catherine died five days after giving birth to her only daughter in 1548. And the scheming Seymour? Beheaded for treason one year later.

©Diane McIlmoyle 27.10.10

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