The Tudor Society

This week in Tudor History – 11 – 17 January – Part 1

This week, I thought I'd split the week into two, so this video covers Tudor history events that took place on 11th, 12th and 13th January - the execution of a printer, the death of a baron, soldier and naval commander, the death of a godson of Henry VIII...

Below, you'll also find videos from previous years that cover these dates.


On 11th January 1584, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Blessèd William Carter was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn for treason. Carter, who was about thirty-six years of age at his death, had been found guilty of treason for printing a book which allegedly contained a passage inciting the queen’s assassination.

Here are some facts about this Tudor printer…

• William Carter was born in London in around 1548 and was the son of draper John Carter and his wife, Agnes.
• In 1563, on 2nd February, Candlemas Day, Carter became apprenticed to John Cawood, who had been Queen’s Printer to Mary I and who was joint Queen’s Printer to Elizabeth I. He served Cawood for a term of 10 years, before becoming secretary to Nicholas Harpsfield. Catholic Harpsfield had been Archdeacon of Canterbury under Cardinal Pole in Mary I’s reign, and a zealous promoter of the heresy trials of Protestants. He had also been imprisoned by Elizabeth I’s government for refusing to swear the oath of supremacy and was still in Fleet prison when Carter became his secretary.
• In 1575, when Carter was about 27 years of age, Harpsfield died and Carter got married. At this point, Carter also set up his own printing press on Tower Hill in London, with the aim of printing Catholic literature.
• Three years later, on 23rd September 1578, Carter was imprisoned in the Poultry Compter for recusancy. He hadn’t been attending Protestant services. He spent just over a month in prison. Then, in 1579 he ended up in the Gatehouse Prison, again for recusancy. His printing press was seized along with books he’d been working on and books he owned.
• While Carter was in prison, evidence was found connecting him to the 1578 publication and printing of Gregory Martin’s “A Treatise of Schism” which encouraged Catholics to avoid going to Protestant services.
• In 1581, the government decided that the prisons must be cleared, so Carter was released under conditions. He agreed to remain within three miles of his home in Hart Street, St. Olave’s, until he conformed to the religious legislation and attended Protestant services. He also had to agree not to “admit the access of any Jesuit massing priest or seminary priest, or recusant, or keep any Catholic servant or partner.” He had to pay 100 marks, a large sum, as surety.
• After his release, although Carter refrained from printing books, he did trade in them. In July 1582, famous priest-finder and torturer Richard Topcliffe and his men searched Carter’s home, allegedly finding vestments, chalices and crosses, and other objects related to Carter’s Catholic faith. They also found a copy of “Disputations in the Tower”, about Edmund Campion’s disputations in the Tower with his Protestant adversaries. Another book found at this time was Harpsfield’s “Treatise of the Pretended Divorce”, about Henry VIII’s Great Matter, and Harpsfield’s opposition to the annulment of the king’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
• Carter was arrested and taken to the Tower of London, where he was imprisoned. There, he was racked in an attempt to get names of Catholic contacts out of him, but Carter would not break. He did not betray anyone.
• Carter spent 18 months in the Tower and sadly his wife died during his imprisonment.
• In January 1584, Carter was moved to Newgate Prison, and on 10th January he was tried for printing Martin’s “Schism”, the charge stating that the book exhorted English women to follow the example of the Bible’s Judith and cut off Elizabeth I’s head. Carter pleaded not guilty to inciting the assassination of his queen and defended himself well. However, he didn’t stand a chance against the prosecution, who pointed out that the book was written by a traitor, approved by a traitor and addressed to traitors. The jury returned their verdict after just 15 minutes, finding him guilty, and he was sentenced to execution.
• Carter was hanged, drawn and quartered the next day, 11th January 1584. He was beatified in 1987 by Pope John Paul II, becoming Blessèd William Carter.

On 12th January 1573, diplomat, soldier and naval commander, William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham, died at Hampton Court. He was buried at Reigate Church. Howard had served four Tudor monarchs: Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, and had been Lord Admiral and Lord Chamberlain of the Household.

Here are some facts about this accomplished Tudor man…

• William Howard was the fourth son of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and his second wife, Agnes Tilney, and was born in around 1510.
• He was educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, before being introduced to the royal court.
• In 1531, when he was about twenty years of age, Howard was sent on an embassy to Scotland, and then, in October 1532, he accompanied Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn on their trip to Calais to meet with Francis I and to gain his support for their relationship. Anne Boleyn was the daughter of Howard’s half-sister, Elizabeth Howard.
• In around 1531, Howard married Katherine Broughton or Boughton, daughter of John Boughton of Tuddington in Bedfordshire. The couple had one child together, a daughter, Agnes.
• In May 1533, while his half-brother, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, was away in France on diplomatic business, he filled in as Earl Marshal for the celebrations surrounding Queen Anne Boleyn’s coronation.
• In 1535, Howard went to Scotland to present King James V with the Order of the Garter, and, in 1536, went there again to organise a meeting between the Scottish king and his uncle, Henry VIII, and to encourage him to break with Rome. While he was there, he got on very well with Margaret Tudor, the Dowager Queen.
• In 1535, following the death of his first wife, Howard married Margaret Gamage, daughter of Sir Thomas Gamage of Coity, Glamorgan. The couple went on to have several children, includingtwo sons: Charles and William.
• In June 1535, Howard went to France on an embassy with his half-brother, Norfolk, Sir William Fitzwilliam, and the Bishop of Ely, to negotiate with the Admiral of France, Philippe de Chabot.
• In 1539, Howard was one of those given the job of welcoming Henry VIII’s bride to be, Anne of Cleves, on her arrival in England.
• In 1541, Howard was on an embassy in France when he was recalled to face a charge of misprision of treason for concealing his half-niece Catherine Howard’s sexual past. He was convicted, but the king pardoned him in 1542.
• In 1544, Howard served as a soldier in the king’s Scottish campaign, where he suffered a facial wound at the siege of Edinburgh, and in the king’s French campaign in the siege of Boulogne.
• In May 1545, Howard undertook his first naval service, and, a year later, was referred to as serving as vice-admiral under John Dudley, Viscount Lisle, who was Lord Admiral.
• In late 1546 and early 1547, Howard managed to avoid becoming implicated in the fall of his half-nephew, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and his half-brother, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, but the family connection did prevent him succeeding Lisle as Lord Admiral and Thomas Seymour was appointed instead.
• Howard was a supporter of John Dudley who took over from Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, as the leader of Edward VI’s government after Somerset’s fall, and became Duke of Northumberland. In 1552, Northumberland made Howard Lord Deputy and Governor of Calais.
• In the summer of 1553, even though Howard had been an ally of Northumberland, he held Calais in the name of Mary I, rather than Queen Jane, and in January 1554 Mary chose him to welcome the Spanish ambassadors to London. She also appointed him to her privy council.
• During Wyatt’s Rebellion in early 1554, Howard, long with the Earl of Pembroke and Lord Clinton, were in charge of raising the militia to defend London, and Howard held Ludgate against the rebels, stopping them from entering the city.
• On 11th March 1554, Howard was made Baron Howard of Effingham and on 20th March became Lord Admiral. That same year, he was also elected to the Order of the Garter.
• In April 1534, Lord Admiral and his fleet patrolled the channel protecting trade and preventing any hostile French ships from intercepting Philip of Spain, who was travelling to England to marry Mary I.
• In May 1555, Howard was chosen to take news of the birth of Philip and Mary’s heir to Philip’s father, Emperor Charles V. However, the birth didn’t happen as Mary wasn’t actually pregnant.
• In 1557, Howard’s fleet escorted the Earl of Pembroke’s force to Calais, which ended up being taken by the French.
• In February 1558, due to his support for the accession of Elizabeth, his great-half-niece, Howard’s position as Lord Admiral was given to Lord Clinton. He was, however, granted the reversion of the office of Lord Chamberlain instead.
• In November 1558, when Elizabeth came to the throne, Howard was appointed Lord Chamberlain and made a privy councillor. Then, in 1559, he helped negotiate the Treaty of Cateau Cambrésis.
• In 1572, due to ill health, his position of Lord Chamberlain was given to his nephew, Thomas Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex, and Howard became Lord Privy Seal instead.
• Howard died on 12th January 1573 and his son, Charles, succeeded him as 2nd Baron Howard of Effingham.

On 13th January 1593, Sir Henry Neville, groom of Henry VIII's Privy Chamber and a gentleman of Edward VI’s Privy chamber, died. He was buried at Waltham St Lawrence in Berkshire. Neville was the second son of Sir Edward Neville, who was beheaded in December 1538 for allegedly conspiring with Cardinal Reginald Pole. Neville was also a godson of King Henry VIII, and his father’s fall did not adversely affect him, with him being was chosen to witness the king’s will. He spent time abroad in exile as a Protestant during Mary I’s reign, but returned in Elizabeth’s reign.

There are 3 comments Go To Comment

  1. R

    I have a real soft spot for Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. He was a bit of a rogue, he was a poet and a soldier and a popular friend to ordinary people. He drank a lot and got into trouble. He was set up because he had overseen a military disaster and some historians think the Seymour brothers had something to do with his downfall. He hadn’t actually done anything wrong and he certainly wasn’t committing treason. The will of King Henry Viii set out who would run the country, so that charge certainly didn’t stand up either. He was executed merely because the old guard were in the way.

    Did the video say he was tried in the Guildhall? I was just wondering why he wasn’t tried at Westminster.

    1. C - Post Author

      Me too, and his fall was definitely a stitch-up. I’m not how how venues were chosen for trials, but Guildhall was also used for the trials associated with Lady Jane Grey’s fall and also for Anne Askew, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton and Dr Roderigo Lopez, as well as others.

      1. R

        Hi Claire, thanks for the information.
        I think I had assumed he would be tried there because of his status but I am assuming now it didn’t matter as long as it was an important place and by your peers. The Guildhall would be a grand public setting. Mind you it still is, very grand in fact, very elaborate.

        At least Henry Howard gave them all a good run for their money. I used one of his poems when my mother by law was being buried because it was just so appropriate. Thanks again for the very useful information.

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This week in Tudor History – 11 – 17 January – Part 1