Henry Howard KG
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Henry Howard KG (1517 - 1547)

Henry "Earl of Surrey" Howard KG
Born in London, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1533 in London, Middlesex, Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Died at about age 30 in Tower Hill, London, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 14 Nov 2008
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Early Life

Henry was born about 1516/7 in London, England. The eldest son of Sir Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, and Elizabeth Stafford.[1][2] He was born into an aristocratic family his paternal grandparents being Sir Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and Elizabeth Tilney. His maternal grandparents were Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke Buckingham, and Alianora Percy.[3][4] While this would serve him well in some areas, it would create obstacles in others.

The first few years of Henry's early childhood were spent in Dublin, Ireland, where his father was appointed Lord Lieutenant. When his grandfather, 2nd Duke of Norfolk died in 1524, his father inherited the title, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, and 9-year-old Henry was given his father's previous title, the Earl of Surrey. The family lived between Lambeth Manor[5] and Tendring Hall[6] in Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk, and at Hunsdon Manor in Hertfordshire.[3][7]

Henry's father made sure that he received an excellent education. He was well versed in Latin, Italian, Spanish, and French. He was instructed in proper court manners and chivalry. In 1529, Henry's father was given the responsibility, and care of His Grace Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset. Fitzroy was the illegitimate son of the King of England Henry VIII and his mistress Elizabeth Blount. The two boys became companions and friends. They accompanied the King of England, and his consort Queen Anne Boleyn to Calais for a meeting with the King of France, François I.[3][4][8]

With a kings soon my childishe yeres did passe,
In greater feaste then Priams sonnes Troye


He returned to England, and his father, the Duke of Norfolk negotiated a contract for a marriage between Henry and Lady Frances De Vere. She was the daughter of John De Vere, the fifteenth Earl of Oxford. They were married in the spring of 1533, although they were still too young to cohabitate. It was about this time that Hans Holbein was commissioned to create portraits of the Earl of Surrey.[3]

During his time in Calais, Henry met Sir Thomas Wyatt who would become his poetical mentor. In 1533, Henry and Fitzroy remained in France spending time at Fontainebleau. During this time he met many poets and witnessed the beauty of French and Italian Renaissance Art. They traveled with the French King, these experiences along with meeting Sir Wyatt greatly influenced Henry's love for poetry and the Arts.[3][10]

In November of 1533, Henry and his wife Frances began living together. They had five children, Thomas, Henry, Margaret, Katherine, and Jane.[1][3]

Art of War

He was given his first military role during an uprising in Lincolnshire in 1536. In 1537, Lord Thomas Darcy a prisoner in the tower at the time accused Henry of being a sympathizer. Defending his family's honor he attacked his accuser and was confined to Windsor Castle. He mourned the death of his childhood, and best friend the Earl of Richmond, who died in 1537. During that time he wrote, "When Windesor walles", which contained the verse "so crewell prison" showing his dispair. In November of 1537, he was restored to the primacy of court. He held many titles over the years and was witness to many events at court. Early in 1541, he was elected as a knight of the Order of the Garter, and installed at St George's Chapel, Windsor. He attended the trial of his cousin, the consort queen Cathrine Howard in 1541, and her execution in 1542. Mourning the downfall of the Howard's he wrote: [3]

Eache beast can chuse his feere

Henry created the iambic pentameter of a sonnet.[11] The iambic pentameter controlled the flow of a sonnet and inspired poets such as William Shakespeare. He was well known for his translation of the 'Aeneid'.[12] It was believed that his sonnets often contained real-life events and people. This allowed him to express himself without persecution using vague language. He disclosed personal and controversial information by writing them into his sonnets. He praised Wyatt's, Psalms although they were controversial covering subjects such as the King's royal power and its abuse.[13][14][15]

He grew up hearing stories of battle and triumph. The Howard's had fought to keep their positions in the court since the time of the War of the Roses. Henry strongly believed that the Howard's were different than the other nobles who were 'well versed in machiavellian of dissimulation and betrayal'. He believed strongly in the Howard family motto:[3][16]

Sola Vitus Invicta

Virtue Alone is Invincible

In 1546, Henry began to insist that the Howard's had the strongest claim to control the protectorate. He began to be accused of many scandals, and the other nobles were distancing themselves from him. Evidence was presented in an attempt to prove him guilty of crimes. His home at Kenninghall and other locations were searched. His close friends were interrogated in attempts to find something to charge him with. On 7 Jan 1547/8, he was charged with a True Bill of an Act of Treason. He had his family's royal arms and insignia on the wall at Kenninghall. It was considered to be threatening the king's title to the throne and the prince's inheritance. In 1545, he had consulted the Garter king of arms at Lambeth. This was to quarter his arms with those of his ancestor's which consisted of the arms of Brotherton and St Edward the Confessor and Anjou and Mowbray all quartered. The arms of the Saxon King's heirs were considered a threat to the Tudor heirs of William the Conquerer.[3][16]

The Earl was beheaded at Tower Hill on, 19 January 1547/8. He was buried at All Hallows Barking, the Tower Hill cemetery. In 1614, his son Henry the Earl of Northampton had his body moved and re-entered in Framlingham, Suffolk at the Howard family chapel.[3][16][17][18]


  • In 1752 the calendar in England changed from old style to new style. Previous to 1752 the new year began on March 25th in 1752 it was changed and began January 1st. Dates prior to 1752 occurring between January 1st and March 24th will be recorded as dual years to reflect the change.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Rye, Walter, 1843-1927; Hervey, William; Cooke, Clarenceux; Raven, John. 'The visitacion of Norfolk', Vol 32, Pg 163. Published by Family Search. archive.org
  2. Cokayne, George E. (George Edward), 1825-1911; Howard de Walden, Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis, Baron, b. 1880; Warrand, Duncan, 1877-1946; Gibbs, Vicary, 1853-; Doubleday, H. Arthur (Herbert Arthur), 1867-1941; White, Geoffrey H. (Geoffrey Henllan), b. 1873. 'The complete peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom : extant, extinct, or dormant', Vol 1, Pg 253. London : The St. Catherine Press, ltd., 1910. archive.org
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Susan Brigden. 'Howard, Henry, Earl of Surrey' (1516/17–1547). Published in print: 03 January 2008 ODNB oxforddnb.com.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Michael A. R. Graves. 'Howard, Thomas, third duke of Norfolk'. (1473–1554). Published in print: 23 September 2004. ODNB oxforddnb.com.
  5. "Lambeth: The parish," in A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 4, ed. H E Malden (London: Victoria County History, 1912), 50-64. British History Online, accessed May 31, 2021, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/surrey/vol4/pp50-64.
  6. Lost Heritage, England's Lost Country Houses family Tehndring Hall
  7. "Parishes: Hunsdon," in A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 3, ed. William Page (London: Victoria County History, 1912), 323-332. British History Online, accessed May 31, 2021, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol3/pp323-332.
  8. Beverley A. Murphy. 'Fitzroy, Henry, Duke of Richmond and Somerset' (1519–1536). Published in print: 03 January 2008 ODNB oxforddnb.com.
  9. Brigden, Susan. "Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and the 'Conjured League'" The Historical Journal 37, no. 3 (1994): 507-37. Accessed May 21, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2639916.
  10. Hart, Kelly (Kelly Ann). 'The mistresses of Henry VIII'. Stroud : History Press, 2009. archive.org
  11. Iambic Pentameter Explained, (iambic pentameter) youtube.
  12. Hardison, O. B. "Tudor Humanism and Surrey's Translation of the "Aeneid"." Studies in Philology 83, no. 3 (1986): 237-60. Accessed May 21, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4174243.
  13. Cushman, Stephen., Greene, Roland. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics: Fourth Edition. United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, 2012.
  14. CALDWELL, ELLEN C. "RECENT STUDIES IN HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF SURREY (1970—1989)" English Literary Renaissance 19, no. 3 (1989): 389-401. Accessed May 21, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43447718.
  15. Ostriker, Alicia. "Thomas Wyatt and Henry Surrey: Dissonance and Harmony in Lyric Form" New Literary History 1, no. 3 (1970): 387-405. Accessed May 21, 2021. doi:10.2307/468263.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Childs, Jessie. 'Henry VIII's Last Victim: The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey'. United States: St. Martin's Press, 2007. google.com/books/edition
  17. *Henry Howard, Earl Surrey. tudorplace.com. Contains images of his tomb. (Identifies children)
  18. Maskell, Joseph, 1829-1890. 'Berkyngechirche juxta Turrim', Pgs 59-60. London: B. Corcoran. archive.org

See Also

  • Surrey's tomb Find A Grave: Memorial #33371959
  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Sixteenth/Early Seventeenth Century, Volume B, 2012, pg. 661
  • The Shakespearean Sonnet
  • http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/Bios/HenryHoward(E.Surrey).htm
  • Hutchinson, Robert. 2009.
  • Williams, Neville (1989). A Tudor Tragedy: Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk.
  • Head, David M. (1995). The Ebbs and Flows of Fortune: Life of Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk.
  • Keene, Dennis (ed.). Selected Poems by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Fyfield Books.
  • Yeowell, James (ed.). The Poems of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey.—with a memoir by the editor

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Hi, Lucy, I will soon begin working on this profile on behalf of the England Projects Managed Profiles team. I plan to add sources and update the biography. If you have any sources or, information please let me know.


posted by Laura DeSpain
edited by Laura DeSpain
Dear Lucy,

The England Project would like to manage this profile with you due to its historical significance to England. You are welcome to stay on as either a PM or on the Trusted List. Would you please add wikitree-england-project [at] googlegroups.com to the trusted list, and then set the England Project as a manager.

Thank you.

Ros Haywood Team Leader, Managed Profiles, England Project

posted by Ros Haywood

This week's featured connections are French Notables: Henry is 12 degrees from Napoléon I Bonaparte, 13 degrees from Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette, 16 degrees from Sarah Bernhardt, 22 degrees from Charlemagne Carolingian, 23 degrees from Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, 18 degrees from Pierre Curie, 26 degrees from Simone de Beauvoir, 16 degrees from Philippe Denis de Keredern de Trobriand, 11 degrees from Camille de Polignac, 13 degrees from Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière, 18 degrees from Claude Monet and 14 degrees from Aurore Dupin de Francueil on our single family tree. Login to see how you relate to 33 million family members.