Spotlight: Catherine Carey, Lady Knollys

Name: Catherine Carey / Catherine Knollys

Title/s: Lady Knollys

Birth / Death: c.1524 – 15 January 1569

Spouse: Sir Francis Knollys c.1511 – 1596

Children: Mary Stalker c.1541-1593 / Henry Knollys c.1542-1582 / Lettice, Countess of Essex and Leicester 1543-1634 / William, 1st Earl of Banbury c.1544-1632 / Edward Knollys 1546-1580 / Robert Knollys 1547-1626 / Richard Knollys 1548-1596 / Elizabeth Leighton 1549-c.1605 / Thomas Knollys d.1596 / Francis Knollys c.1552-1643 / Anne West 1555-1608 / Catherine Fitzgerald 1559-1620 / Margaret Knollys (unknown) / Dudley Knollys 1562

Parents: Mary Boleyn c.1499 – 1543 & Sir William Carey c.1500 – 1528

Siblings: Henry, 1st Baron Hunsdon 1526-1596 (full sibling), Anne 1536-? & Edward 1535-1545 (half-siblings)

Noble Connections: Catherine Carey was the daughter of Mary Boleyn, and it has been suggested that she was in fact the result of her mother’s affair with Henry VIII. Her aunt, Anne Boleyn, became the Queen of Henry VIII.

Events of their Lifetime: The King’s Great Matter; the executions of Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Thomas Cromwell and Jane Grey; the accessions of Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I; the mysterious death of Amy Robsart.

Controversy: Were Catherine and her brother, Henry, actually the children of Henry VIII, rather than William Carey, even though neither was acknowledged? Catherine is a more likely prospect for a child of Henry VIII than her brother, Henry.

Works of Fiction:
Dillard, Adrienne, Cor Rotto (2014)
Gregory, Philippa, The Other Boleyn Girl (2001)
Gregory, Philippa, The Boleyn Inheritance (2006)
Gregory, Philippa, The Virgin’s Lover (2004)
Prince, Alison, Henry VIII’s Wives (2011)

Portrayals on Screen:
No known portrayals on screen.

Further Reading:
Guy, John, The Children of Henry VIII (2013)
Hutchinson, Robert, House of Treason: the Rise and Fall of a Tudor Dynasty (2009)
Jones, Philippa, The Other Tudors: Henry VIII’s Mistresses and Bastards (2009)
Loades, David, The Boleyns: the Rise and Fall of a Tudor Family (2012)
Norton, Elizabeth, The Boleyn Women: the Tudor Femme Fatales Who Changed English History (2013)
Weir, Alison, Mary Boleyn: the Great and Infamous Whore (2011)
Whitelock, Anna, The Queen’s Bed: an Intimate History of Elizabeth’s Court (2012)
Wilkinson, Josephine, Mary Boleyn: the True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress (2009)


Catherine Carey by Steven Van Der Meulen 1562.
Catherine Carey by Steven Van Der Meulen 1562.

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