On 31st July 1548, the fourteen year-old Elizabeth, future Elizabeth I, wrote to her stepmother Catherine Parr, the Dowager Queen. The letter was written just before the pregnant Catherine took to her chamber, and just weeks before Catherine died of puerperal (childbed) fever. It was written in a beautiful italic hand.
"Although your Hignness's letters be most joyful to me in absence, yet, considering what pain it is for you to write, your Grace being so sickly, your commendations were enough in my Lord’s letter. I much rejoice at your health, with the well liking of the country, with my humble thanks that your Grace wished me with you till you were weary of that country. Your Highness were like to be cumbered, if I should not depart till I were weary of being with you; although it were the worst soil in the world, your presence would make it pleasant. I cannot reprove my Lord for not doing your commendations in his letter, for he did it; and although he had not, yet I will not complain on him; for he shall be diligent to give me knowledge from time to time how his busy child doth; and if I were at his birth, no doubt I would see him beaten, for the trouble he hath put you to. Master Denny and my lady, with humble thanks, prayeth most entirely for your Grace, praying the Almighty God to send you a most lucky deliverance, and my mistress wisheth no less, giving your Highness most humble thanks for her commendations.
Written with very little leisure this last day of July.
Your humble daughter,
Elizabeth had been sent away from the home Catherine Parr shared with her husband Thomas Seymour, Baron Sudeley, to go and live with Catherine's good friends, Sir Anthony Denny and his wife, at Cheshunt. Seymour had been acting inappropriately with Elizabeth and Catherine had found Elizabeth and Seymour in each other's arms. Catherine had to send Elizabeth away not only to protect Catherine's marriage, but also to protect Elizabeth's reputation. Catherine gave birth to a daughter, Mary, on 30th August 1548 but Catherine died on 5th September 1548. Little Mary disappears from the records after March 1550 and it is thought that she died in early childhood.
Notes and Sources
- ed. Harrison, G. B. (1968) The Letters of Queen Elizabeth