Probably Anne Parr, Sister of Queen Katherine Parr

Probably Anne Parr, Sister of Queen Katherine Parr
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Anne Parr was the daughter of Sir Thomas Parr (1478-1517) and Maud Green (1492-1531). She was the sister and confidant of Henry VIII’s sixth queen, Katherine Parr. This is a portrait prep sketch by Holbein

Anne was born about 1514 to Sir Thomas Parr and Maud Green. She was the youngest child of three, having an older sister Catherine and brother William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton. In 1517, when she was about three years of age, her father died of the sweating sickness leaving her mother a widow at twenty-two and with the grave responsibility of guarding the inheritance of the Parr children. Maud, Lady Parr was a maid-of-honour to Catherine of Aragon. She was also head of the Royal school at court where Anne was educated alongside her sister Catherine and other daughters of the nobility. They were taught by the brilliant Humanist scholar Joan Lluís Vives who was the principal tutor at the Royal school. Anne would have been taught French, Latin, philosophy, theology, and the Classics. Lady Parr had already taught her children to read and write when they were small.

Sometime in 1528, Lady Parr secured her daughter, Anne, a post at Court as maid-of-honour to Catherine of Aragon. Anne was then made a ward of King Henry. When Anne Boleyn was crowned queen in 1533, Anne Parr continued in the same capacity as maid-of-honour . She quickly succumbed to the spell of Queen Anne’s charismatic personality and following the Queen’s example, she became an ardent supporter of the New Faith. After Anne Boleyn’s fall from power and subsequent execution, Anne remained at Court in the service of the new queen, Jane Seymour. She was one of the few present at the baptism of Prince Edward on 15 October 1537.

In February 1538, Anne married William Herbert (c.1501-17 March 1570), Esquire of the King’s Body. The Herberts appeared to be in the King’s favour, as for the next few years Anne and her husband received a succession of Royal grants which included the Abbey of Wilton in Wiltshire, and lands in the West Country. Anne had three children by her husband: Henry, Edward, and Anne. When King Henry took as his fourth wife Anne of Cleves, Anne returned to her role as maid-of-honour, which she remained in when Queen Anne was supplanted by Catherine Howard. Following Queen Catherine’s arrest for adultery, Anne Parr was entrusted with the Queen’s jewels.

Anne Parr was a witness to the wedding ceremony performed at Hampton Court Palace on 12 July, 1543, when King Henry married her sister Catherine. In September 1544, William Herbert was knighted on the battlefield at the Siege of Boulogne during the King’s campaign against the French. Anne, now Lady Herbert, was her sister’s principal lady-in-waiting and the sisters were close. Anne was also part of the circle of Protestants who surrounded the new Queen. In 1546, when Anne Askew was arrested for heresy. Queen Catherine and some of her closest friends had previously shown favour to the arrested woman. Bishop Stephen Gardiner, Thomas Wriothesley and Richard Rich were involved in torturing Anne Askew and interrogating her about her connections to the ladies at court who were suspected to be Protestants, in particular, Anne Parr, the Queen, Katherine Willoughby and Anne Stanhope. They obtained the King’s permission to arrest and question the Queen about her religious beliefs.

Catherine visited the King in his bedchamber and adroitly managed to persuade the King that her interest in the new religion had been undertaken solely as a means to provide stimulating conversation to distract the King from the pain caused by his ulcerous leg. Henry was appeased, and before the arrests were due to take place, he was reconciled to Catherine. On 28 January, 1547, the King died. William Herbert was appointed guardian to the new king, Edward VI. Catherine shortly afterwards married Thomas Seymour, Lord Sudeley, Lord High Admiral of England, who was an uncle of King Edward. In September 1548, following the birth of a daughter, Mary, Catherine Parr died of puerperal fever. On 11 October 1551, William Herbert was created 1st Earl of Pembroke. Anne died in 1552. William married as his second wife, Anne Talbot, but the marriage produced no children. Through her sons, Anne has many descendants, including the earls of Pembroke.

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