The Tudor Society

April 13 – Anne Howard (née Dacre), Countess of Arundel and priest harbourer

An engraving of Anne Dacre by Wenceslas Hollar

An engraving of Anne Dacre by Wenceslas Hollar

On this day in history, 13th April 1630, seventy-three-year-old priest harbourer Anne Howard, Countess of Arundel, died at her home, the manor of Shifnal in Shropshire. She was laid to rest in the Fitzalan Chapel at Arundel Castle.

Here are some facts about this noblewoman...

  • Anne was born on 1st March 1557 at Carlisle and was the eldest daughter of Thomas Dacre, 4th Lord Dacre of Gilsland, and his second wife, Elizabeth Leybourn.
  • Her father died when Anne was eight and her mother went on to marry Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, but soon died in childbirth.
  • Anne and her siblings were brought up by their maternal grandmother, Lady Mounteagle, but the Duke of Norfolk eventually obtained wardship of his late wife's children. The duke was fond of Anne, referring to her as his "well-beloved Nann".
  • In 1569, at the age of twelve, Anne, was married off to the duke's son, Philip, later, Earl of Arundel. Then when the couple had turned 14, the age of consent, they underwent a second marriage ceremony.
  • Anne and Philip converted to Catholicism in the early 1580s. When Elizabeth I found out, she sent Anne to the household of Sir Thomas Shirley in Sussex, where Anne gave birth to her first child, Elizabeth, and Philip was put under house arrest.

  • Philip was arrested in 1585 as he tried to escape to France. He was brought before the Star Chamber and charged with being a Catholic, fined £10,000 and imprisoned in the Tower of London. In 1589, he was tried for high treason and condemned to death, accused of praying for the victory of the Spanish Armada. He spent his last years in the Tower being comforted by his pet dog. He died of dysentery in the Tower in 1595, having been refused visits by his family unless he attended a Protestant service, he refused.
  • The widowed Anne took a vow of chastity.
  • Catholic priests in Anne's household included seminary priest Martin Array and Jesuit Robert Southwell, who wrote 'A shorte rule of good life' for her. Southwell was captured in 1592 and Anne sent him books while he was imprisoned. He was executed in 1595.
  • Anne made gifts of money to support Jesuits, and in the last fourteen years of her life she employed a Jesuit priest who acted as her biographer, writing 'The life of the right honourable and virtuouse lady, the Lady Anne late countesse of Arundell and Surrey'.
  • Anne rescued a priest by bribing an officer hunting him and sending the officer a venison pie every Twelfth Night.
  • Anne used powers from a foot bone of martyr Robert Southwell to cure people.
  • She was a generous lady - on one of her great-grandchildren’s birthdays she gave herring pies to eight score poor children.
  • Anne's children by Philip included Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel.

You can find out more about Anne's husband, Philip, in this video:

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Only 1 comment so far Go To Comment

  1. J

    Used the power of a footbone, from martyr Robert Southwell, to cure people. Sorry but 🥴🙄

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April 13 – Anne Howard (née Dacre), Countess of Arundel and priest harbourer