Blanche PARRY

Born: 1507

Died: 12 Feb 1589/90

Buried: St. Margaret's Church, London, Middlesex, England

Father: Henry PARRY of Newcourt (son of Miles ap Harry and Jane Stradling)

Mother: Alice MILBOURNE

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Monument to Blanche, kneeling alongside Elizbabeth, in St. Faith's, Bacton, Hereford
Photograph by John Meek

Blanche was a Welshwoman who was assumed to have taught Owen Tudor's great- granddaughter Elizabeth to speak Welsh. Blanche was born in Herefordshire’s Golden Valley to a well connected family, closely connected with the House of York and with the Herberts of Raglan. Her father died, and her mother, Alice Milbourne, remarried when Blanche was about 16. Trough her aunt Blanche, who married first Sir James Whitney and second Sir William Herbert of St. Julian, she was related to the Careys. Lady Herbert was the Lady Mistress for both the young Elizabeth and her brother Edward. Lady Mary too was a member of the household run by Lady Herbert when she lived with the younger children.

She can recall Elizabeth being rocked to sleep. Blanche never married and stayed with Elizabeth until her death. In several of the books, it mentioned that she was blind towards the end of her life.

Sir William Cecil was Blanche’s cousin and friend and they worked closely together through the years.

Upon Elizabeth's coronation, (for which Blanche was given 7 yards of scarlet and 15 yards of crimson velvet, 1 1/4 yards of cloth of gold yellow with work and 3/4 yard cloth of gold with black for a dress to wear to the occasion) Kate Ashley, Blanche Parry and Elizabeth Norwich all became gentlewomen of the Bedchamber or Privy Chamber. Her salary was £33 6s. 8d., with board and lodging for herself and servants, also food for her horses and stabling. The Queen was a keen rider and it was important that her attendants should be able to accompany her. Sir Thomas Parry, Blanche's cousin was appointed Treasurer of the Household. Other cousin was Dr. John Dee who was Elizabeth's astronmer and astrologer. In fact, it was Dee who decided on the date, Jan 15th, for Elizabeth's coronation.

Blanche Parry made a special study of palmistry, and occasionally told the fortunes of maids of honor. Kindly hearted, Blanche ruled the Privy-Chamber, and had special foavour to lady Mary Grey.

Her devotion was rewarded with gifts of land such as Llangorse Lake and the responsibility of looking after the Queen's library and jewel box. Blanche obtained lands in Herefordshire, Wales and in Yorkshire.

A lovely monument to Blanche in St. Margaret's Church which is beside Westminster Abbey.

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