Spotlight: Mary Howard Fitzroy, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset

Name: Mary Howard / Mary Fitzroy

Title/s: Duchess of Richmond and Somerset / Countess of Nottingham

Birth / Death: 1519 – 7 December 1557

Spouse: Henry Fitzroy 1519-1536

Children: None

Parents: Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk 1473-1554 & Elizabeth Stafford 1497-1558

Siblings: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey 1516-1547 / Thomas Howard, 1st Viscount Howard 1520-1582 / Katherine Howard, Countess of Derby ?-1530 / Muriel Howard

Noble Connections: Her father and grandfather were both Dukes of Norfolk. Her father-in-law was King Henry VIII of England. Her cousins included Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, second and fifth Queens of Henry VIII, both executed. Her brother was the disgraced Earl of Surrey, executed 1547.

Events of their Lifetime: The divorce of Katherine of Aragon, and Henry VIII’s remarriage to Anne Boleyn, the executions of Thomas More 1535, Anne Boleyn 1536, Thomas Cromwell 1540, and Katherine Howard 1542. The accession and death of Edward VI, the nine day reign of Jane Grey and the accession of Mary I.

Controversy: There isn’t really any known controversy surrounding Mary Howard, except from a question over the consummation of her marriage – Henry VIII requested the marriage wasn’t consummated until Fitzroy was older, and as such when Fitzroy died, Mary wasn’t entitled to many of the lands that she should have been entitled to as his widow.

Works of Fiction:
Bonnette, Darcy, The Secrets of the Tudor Court (2010)
Fremantle, Elizabeth, Queen’s Gambit (2012)
Plaidy, Jean, The Sixth Wife (1953)

Portrayals on Screen:

Further Reading:
Bapst, Edmond, Two Gentlemen Poets at the Court of Henry VIII: George Boleyn and Henry Howard (2013)
Duncan, J., ‘Henry Fitzroy and Henry VIII’s Scruple of Conscience’, Renaissance News, 16 (1963)
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)
Murphy, B., Bastard Prince: Henry VIII’s Lost Son (2001)
Norton, Elizabeth, Bessie Blount: the Story of Henry VIII’s Long-time Mistress (2011)
Weir, Alison, Children of England: the Heirs of King Henry VIII (1996)


Mary Howard Duchess of Richmond by Hans Holbein
Mary Howard Duchess of Richmond by Hans Holbein

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