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Catherine (Carey) Knollys (1524 - 1568)

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Lady Catherine Knollys formerly Carey
Born in Chilton Folist, Wiltshire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Sister of
Wife of — married 26 Apr 1540 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Hampton Court Palace, London, Middlesex, Englandmap
Profile last modified 10 Oct 2019 | Created 12 Nov 2008
This page has been accessed 13,000 times.
British Aristocracy
Catherine (Carey) Knollys was a member of aristocracy in the British Isles.
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Catherine Carey was either the first cousin or half-sister of Queen Elizabeth I. She was nominally the daughter of William Carey and Mary Boleyn. Her mother Mary, was a mistress of Henry VIII before her sister, Anne Boleyn married him. It was rumored Catherine was actually the king's daughter. But Catherine never claimed it, and Elizabeth never recognized Catherine as her half-sister. Only circumstantial evidence supports this assertion. Although she was definitely one of Elizabeth's favorites. For an interesting discussion of this topic, see Sally Varlow's article.
Catherine first came to court in January 1540. She was a maid of honor to Anne of Cleves, and soon after married the protestant Sir Francis Knollys on Apr 26, 1540. He was later at odds with the "Bloody Mary," and went into exile during the Catholic Tudor queen's reign. Catherine probably left England in the spring of 1556 to join him. At least five of their children with them.
Catherine had 11 kids, back-to-back, during their first 15 years of marriage. In total, the couple had between 14 and 16 children, with one dying in infancy. (Apparently another putative daughter, Cecilia, is not contained in any of the family records, although she is shown as a member of Queen Elizabeth's household in some histories of the period.)[1]
Catherine returned to England by 14 Jan 1559, and became a lady of the privy chamber to Queen Elizabeth. Her children were at court, too. In 1560, she and her son Robert were granted Taunton Manor for life. She died at Hampton Court, at age 39, still in the queen's attendance. At the time, Francis was guarding Mary, Queen of Scots, at Bolton Castle.[2] Queen Elizabeth went on to pay for Catherine's funeral. It cost £640 2s.11d.
There's a small plaque about Catherine in Westminster Abbey. (Although the plaque shows Catherine's death date as January 15, 1568, that date is "Old Style," and she actually died in 1569.) The Knollys Chapel at Saint Nicholas Church, Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire, contains a large tomb in which Catherine and Thomas are buried. The tomb has effigies of Thomas and Catherine, with individual figures of seven sons, six daughters and, probably, son William's wife. Eric Hardy has placed a number of colored photos of the tomb on Flickr.
~ Bio synthesized and researched by Vic Watt.[3][4][5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Varlow, Sally (n.d.). PDF link.)
  2. Thomas out-lived Catherine by almost thirty years. He died July 15, 1596.
  3. Lee, Sidney, editor, Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 31, Elder Smith & Co., London, 1892.
  4. DNB on Wikisource
  5. Varlow, Sally, Sir Francis Knollys’s Latin Dictionary: New evidence for Katherine Carey*. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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  • Thanks to Vic Watt for researching and editing this profile.

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Comments: 7

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I think this is where I ran into the specifics of the Carey spelling. Someone asked about that recently. I had read that Carey specified a specific line. That other Carys have no e. I’ll go back and read. If I find it I’ll bring it forward. Wray-1910
posted by Anita Wray
Carey-4481 and Carey-2 appear to represent the same person because: These people are clear duplicated. Both born to Mary in the same year, with the same name, in the same place, both married to a man named Francis Knollys. Both this Catherine and this husband are duplicates of already-created profiles.
posted by Amy Utting
Carey-2950 and Carey-2 appear to represent the same person because: Same parents, same birth, same death, same husband. Please merge. Thanks.
posted by Vic Watt
Carey-1675 and Carey-2 appear to represent the same person because: LIkely the same person although the dates of birth in profile Carey-1675 are probably incorrect
Carey-1675 and Carey-2 do not represent the same person because: approximately 80 years difference in age. They may be the same person but are not yet ready for merge.
posted by Kerry Fisher
Carey-1675 and Carey-2 appear to represent the same person because: daughter of William Karey, wife of Francis Knollys
posted by Andrea Powell
She looks a lot like Henry VIII & in the middle portrait, I can see Edward IV. Wish there was a way to prove her parentage conclusively!
posted by Kelly Fitzgerald

Catherine is 20 degrees from Greg Clarke, 14 degrees from George Hull and 3 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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Categories: House of Boleyn