Wednesday, 17 November 2010

William, Catherine and the Boleyn sisters

I note that British newspapers are making much of a supposed but disreputable "common ancestor" of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, Sir Thomas Leighton, Governor of Jersey, without mentioning his attractive and charming wife, Elizabeth Knollys, sister of Lettice Knollys (wife of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester).

Elizabeth Knollys was a long standing lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth 1st. The Queen showered her with presents and she was clearly was one of her favourite relatives. She looks in portraits a fun-loving,lively, auburn haired confident woman.

Elizabeth Knollys's mother was Catherine Carey, who witnesed the beheading of Anne Boleyn, her aunt, as a child. Catherine Carey,the sister of Shakespeare's patron, Lord Hunsdon (who could have been Henry VIIIs illegitimate son) was the supreme confidante of the young Sovereign, Elizabeth 1st, as well as her first cousin.

Catherine Carey was the daughter of Mary Boleyn, Anne Boleyn's sister. Through her, Princess Diana, William and Catherine are all directly descended from the Dukes of Norfolk.

Catherine Carey, who married a Knollys, was the mother of 15 children before the age of 45. She is buried in Westminster Abbey and Elizabeth 1st deeply grieved for her, after her untimely death. She had been almost a "mother" to her and her closest connection to her own mother Anne, who brought Catherine up.

As we know, Anne Boleyn, was a Calvinist, trained at the French Court in Continental Protestantism, whom we rarely celebrate as the effectual founder of the Church of England. Thomas Cranmer was Anne Boleyn's chaplain.

If we are to believe British newspapers (and we have rason not to)  Catherine Middleton is likely to be descended from Catherine Carey. If she is, in marryng Prince William, she follows in the foot steps of two of their ancestors; first as the closest confidante of royalty, and then (as we later found out) as a Duchess.

Postcript: I have just read in The Dictionary of National Biography that Catherine Carey is widely assumed to be the illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII by Mary Boleyn. This would mean that both William and Catherine are directly descended from Henry VIII and a Boleyn (like Elizabeth 1st). 

However, I have also read that reputable genealogists reject the claimg that Catherine is descended from the Careys.

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