Blanche Parry

children. The frequent references to Blanche in this Will certainly suggest that Blanche and William had been fortunate in having a loving marriage, and it was during this period of her life that Blanche Herbert became godmother to her baby niece.

Lady Troy went to the royal court in the entourage of Elizabeth Somerset, Countess of Worcester who was a friend of Queen Anne Boleyn. The countess was one of two ladies who held the cloth to conceal Queen Anne whenever she wished to spit or do otherwise at her Coronation. Princess Elizabeth was born at Greenwich Palace on Sunday 7th September 1533. We know that Lady Troy was a member of the household, because there is a record of her involvement in the choice of a wet nurse for the healthy baby: My mother was chosen and brought to the Court by my Lady Herbert of Troy, to have been her Majesty's nurse and had been chosen before all other had her gracious mother (Queen Anne Boleyn) had her own will therein. This suggests that Queen Anne was not allowed her own choice of nurse for her daughter, or possibly the woman was not suitable. Mrs. Pendred (a Welsh name pronounced and often spelled, Pendryth) was actually chosen. It also suggests that Queen Anne Boleyn and Lady Troy knew each other well.

Princess Elizabeth's nursery was headed by her first Lady Mistress, Margaret, Lady Bryan, who had previously been the first Lady Mistress to Princess Mary. In December, before the crowds arrived at court for the Christmas festivities, bringing with them a risk of infection, a separate household was arranged for little Princess Elizabeth at Hatfield. Her mother was able to visit her there the following spring. In March the baby was moved to Eltham, where her father had spent much of his childhood and which was near enough for both parents to visit her. However, Elizabeth's childhood would largely be passed in Hertfordshire, where the household would move between Ashridge House, Hunsdon House, Hatfield House and Hertford Castle.

In May 1536 Elizabeth's mother was put on trial on a trumped–up charge of adultery, which in a queen was high treason, and was executed. Anne's real fault lay in her two subsequent miscarriages, for King Henry was adamant in wanting a male heir to ensure the dynasty's succession. In the fraught atmosphere little Elizabeth was temporarily forgotten. A letter from Lady Bryan to Thomas Cromwell shows that the little girl had outgrown the beautiful clothes previously supplied by her mother. Mention was also made of Sir John Shelton, who with his wife (Anne Boleyn's uncle and aunt) was in overall charge of the household, now at Hunsdon, where the King's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, were living together. According to Lady Bryan, Elizabeth was teething which made her fractious as she is toward a child and as gentle of conditions as ever I knew any in my life, Jesu preserve her Grace.

His wife dead, the King immediately re–married, his new wife being Jane Seymour. In October 1537, Prince Edward, the longed–for son, was born and Lady Bryan became the Lady Mistress in charge of the nursery for the new baby prince. Three days later he was christened in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court. When the procession re–formed after the Service Lady Elizabeth went with her sister Lady Mary and Lady Herbert of Troy to bear the train. This shows that Lady Troy was now in charge of Lady Elizabeth and, while the sisters lived together, of Lady Mary as well.

Information concerning Lady Troy's position in the royal household has survived in the elegy composed for her by Lewys Morgannwg. A family bard of the Herberts, he was asked by Lady Troy's sons to celebrate her life, probably a month after her funeral. Similar to a modern obituary, it records highlights of her life and it had to be accurate as the gathered relatives and friends would have known all the details anyway:


©Ruth E. Richardson 2012

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