Mary FITZALAN

(D. Norfolk)

Born: 1540

Died: 23/25 Aug 1557, Arundel House, Strand, Middlesex

Buried: 20 Oct 1557, Fitzalan Chapel

Father: Henry FITZALAN (18 E. Arundel)

Mother: Catherine GREY (C. Arundel)

Married: Thomas HOWARD (4 D. Norfolk) 30 Mar 1555

Children:

1. Phillip HOWARD (1 E. Arundel)

2. Anne HOWARD


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Mary Fitzalan, Duchess of Norfolk, c. 1555

Hans Eworth (fl. 1545-1574)


Mary was daughter of Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, by his first wife, Catherine Grey. Well-educated and several of the translations she made from Greek into Latin have been preserved. In Mar 1555 she married Thomas Howard, fourth Duke of Norfolk. This alliance had been planned in the lifetime of Thomas Howard, third Duke of Norfolk, the bridegroom grandfather, who was to have granted Thomas his home at Castleacre and twelve other manors, producing an income of 240, but now he had inherited the dukedom he could expect 2,489 a year, once he was out of his minority. The bride was fifteen years old, Norfolk seventeen and as a ward of Queen Mary he had to obtain her permission to marry. Theirs was the great social event of the spring of 1555 - 'all the Council being busy' over Norfolk's wedding, the business of government slowed to a standstill. To enable him to support his bride a private Act was passed through Parliament enabling him to sell and lease certain of his lands, notwithstanding his minority, with the advice of Stephen Gardiner, the Lord Chancellor; Thomas Thirlby, Bishop of Ely; and his father-in-law, the Earl of Arundel.

The wedding probably took place in St. Clement Dane's, the parish church of Arundel Place, the Earl of Arundel's town house, which had formerly been the London residence of the Bishops of Bath and Wells.

It had almost been a double wedding for in mid-April 1555 Mary's brother, Henry Fitzalan, Lord Maltravers, married a young widow. The girl was a widow again before long. While on an embassy to the King of Bohemia young Maltravers caught a fever and died in Brussels. His death without heirs, followed twenty years later by the death of his childless eider sister Jane, Lady Lumley, was to merge the Arundel earldom into the dukedom of Norfolk.

Mary continued to reside with her family for a further year before the marriage was consummated, until Norfolk brought her to his own mansion. After her marriage she continued her scholarly pursuits, garnering passages in verse and prose from Greek and Latin authors, which she wrote out in a singularly beautiful Italic hand.

Duchess Mary chose Arundel Place for her lying-in, where all was prepared for the arrival of an heir in Jun 1557. At this anxious time Norfolk had the misfortune to cause the death of a trusted servant, when he was out riding his black gelding from Newington to Tottenham.

Within a fortnight, on 28 Jun, his son Phillip was born and four days later was christened at Whitehall Palace, by Nicholas Heath, Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor. The two god-fathers, Felipe of Spain, after whom the boy was named, and the Earl of Arundel, his grandfather, were present in person for the ceremony. The Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, as his godmother, held her great-grandson over a font of gold, made of purpose and kept in the Treasury only for the christening of the princes of the realm.

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Mary Fitzalan (D. Norfolk)

The Duchess never recovered from his birth. She lingered for eight weeks, but never left her bed at Arundel Place. On the anniversary of the day on which Norfolk had succeeded to the dukedom three years back, Duchess Mary died, a girl of seventeen. She was buried in St Clement Dane's church with full funeral pomp. Bonner, Bishop of London, and the last Abbot of Westminster together conducted the service, while the choir of St Paul's sang dirges. All the heralds were present for the interment of the Earl Marshal's wife, 'with many banners and banner rolls borne about her'. There had been eighty torches at little Phillip's christening, but there were twelve dozen in the funeral procession of Mary Fitzalan. Her sister, Lady Lumley, was chief mourner. Young Mary was by all accounts a sweet-natured and pious girl. 'All who knew her could not but love and esteem her much'.

Early in 1558, Margaret Audley was betrothed to Thomas Howard, 4th duke of Norfolk, but they were obliged to wait for a papal dispensation to wed since Mary Fitzalan had been Margarets first cousin.

Sources:

Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. X. Sidney Lee, ed.

Williams, Neville: Thomas Howard, fourth Duke of Norfolk (Barrie and Rockliff 1964 - London)

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