Completing the Set (2006) – Henry VIII’s other “wives”

{as adapted from the Ricardian Bulletin: December 2006}


The Ricardian article The Lancastrian claim to the throne (John Ashdown-Hill, 2003) showed Henry’s relationship to Catherine of Aragon, both descended from Blanche of Lancaster, the first wife of John of Gaunt. Genealogical conundrums (Wendy Moorhen, 2006) illustrated the descent of Anne Boleyn, her first cousin Catherine Howard and Jane Seymour, these four sharing Henry III as a common ancestor. Having once been told that all six were descended from Edward I, I was inspired to look for the other two.

Catherine Parr

Only two remain and I think Catherine Parr is the easiest of the sextet to trace. Figure 1 shows that Henry’s widow was the great-great-granddaughter of Richard, Earl of Salisbury and was a generation younger than her King – I like to call this an ‘overlap’. This “marriage” would surely have required a dispensation but the rules, so certain early in Henry’s reign and reaffirmed under Elizabeth, were in flux in the early 1540s. It would not have been a good idea to suggest to Henry VIII that a dispensation was required.

Anne of Cleves

If Catherine Parr is the easiest of Henry’s wives to locate then Anne of Cleves is the most difficult. I originally envisaged her descent as being through the Lancastrian-Iberian marriages. Then I was able to locate a new website (Genealogics!) and found her elsewhere. Anne and Henry VIII share descent from Edward I.

This time, the pedigree is necessarily in two parts (Figures 2a and 2b). Conclusion: The legend about Edward I as a common ancestor of the “wives” turned out to be true.


The original article was compiled before John clarified the positions of Henry VIII’s “wives” (see Royal Marriage Secrets, ch.10, pp.95-113 ). Please bear this in mind when reading the genealogy.

h/t Kathryn Warner



By super blue

Grandson of a Town player.


  1. Mary and Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard were first cousins through their grandparents Thomas Howard and Elizabeth Bourchier. Jane Seymour was their second cousin — her grandmother Anne Hay was a half-sister to Elizabeth Tilney. They would have had identical MtDNA through their straight female-line descent from Elizabeth Cheney, mother of Elizabeth Tilney (first husband) and Anne Hay (second husband). Consequently, Elizabeth I and Edward VI should also have identical MtDNA.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Right; it’s Mary and Anne Boleyn on the one side, and Jane Seymour on the other side, who have the same MtDNA. Katherine Howard is merely a first cousin to the Boleyns and a second cousin to the Seymours.


  2. That website (Genealogics) is absolutely fascinating. So much to find, which I think will take me a while to discover!
    Thank you for an interesting article, and telling me about a website I hadn’t known of before.


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