Chapter 4 : Family Tree Expands
Thomas Howard, 2 nd Duke of Norfolk, had twenty-one children by his two wives, the first of whom, Elizabeth Tilney, had already produced children by an earlier marriage to Sir Humphrey Bouchier. This plethora of offspring were married into pretty much every gentry and noble family at court, creating a vast cousinage of Howards, Boleyns, Knyvets, Bryans, Stanleys and Carews.
With the 2 nd Duke still spawning as late as 1515, whilst his grown up children were also producing heirs, and the propensity to use the same names (even siblings sometimes had the same name), the family tree becomes a bit of a tangled web.With so many daughters to marry, and not enough noblemen to go round, some of the Duke's daughters were obliged to marry into the ranks of the gentry.
In around 1497, his eldest daughter, Elizabeth Howard, married an up and coming courtier from Norfolk, named Sir Thomas Boleyn. Boleyn was well thought of, and prized for his diplomatic ability and excellent French. Other daughters were married the Earls of Derby, Bridgewater, Oxford and Sussex.
The most illustrious marriage was that of Sir Thomas Howard, Norfolk's eldest son, to Anne of York, sister of the Queen, in 1497. The couple were not far apart in age, and the marriage had first been mooted in 1484 by Richard III. Nothing is known of their personal relationship, other than that they had no surviving children by the time of Anne's death in 1511.
In keeping with the usual custom, Sir Thomas married again, almost immediately. Although there were no more royal princesses to be had, his choice fell on the daughter of the man whose pride in his royal ancestry was a byword. Edward Stafford, 2 nd Duke of Buckingham, was yet another descendant of Edward III and lived in a way that epitomised the great feudal lords. He had a vast retinue, an extravagant lifestyle and a contempt that knew no bounds for those he saw as his inferiors.
His eldest daughter, Elizabeth, seems to have inherited the same pride of ancestry and it was this young lady, aged about 15, who was persuaded to marry Sir Thomas Howard, soon to be promoted to Earl of Surrey. She had expected to marry her father's ward, Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmoreland, and later said she had accepted Howard, who was a good twenty-five years older than her, because she believed he loved her. Possibly he did, if a 39 year old man can love a 15 year old girl. It is far more likely he had a passion for her dowry. Not that Sir Thomas was immune to love, as we will see.
Surrey and Elizabeth Stafford had four surviving children during the period 1517 to 1522: Katherine, Henry, Mary and Thomas.
The 2 nd Duke's second son, Sir Edward, now dead, the position of Admiral fell to one of the Duke's younger sons, Lord Edmund, who married sometime in the 1510s a widow named Joyce or Jocasta Culpepper and had a large family on small means.One of Edmund Howard's daughters was Katheryn Howard, later queen.