Agnes Tilney Howard
The Duchess of Norfolk
1477 - May 1545
My 11th great-grandmother
Agnes Tilney was born about 1477. She was the daughter of Hugh Tilney of Skirbeck and Boston, Lincolnshire and Eleanor, daughter of Walter Tailboys and Alice Stafford Cheyney. Agnes married her cousin, Elizabeth Tilney Howard's husband following Elizabeth's death. A special dispensation was received in order for the marriage to take place, just four months after Elizabeth's death. . (I am sure the dispensation was made due to the fact that Elizabeth died in childbearing, leaving 10 orphan children behind.)
The Duchess had seven children of her own with the Duke of Norfolk.After her husband's death, the Dowager Duchess became first in the Queen's household, behind only to Mary Tudor, the King's sister. The Duchess was step-grandmother to the King's second wife, Anne Boleyn. She carried Queen Anne's train during her coronation, and was godmother to Anne's daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth (1). And she was step-grandmother to the King's fifth wife, Catherine Howard. (We won't go into the gory details, but somehow the Dowager Duchess had kept favor with the king.)
The Queen Catherine was later accused of vile sexual indiscretions both before and after marriage to the King. She and members of the Howard household were arrested and placed in the Tower of London. The Dowager Duchess's apartments were searched, and although she declared to have known of the indiscretions prior to the marriage, she repeatedly affirmed that she did not know of those after the marriage to the King. Many of the Howard's were arrested and put in the Tower, including the Dowager's eldest son, William, and a daughter, Anne. When brought to trial their charges were brought down from Treason to misconduct of knowledge of the Queen's Treason. Instead of death, they were sentenced to life imprisonment in the Tower, and all of their possessions, titles, and money's forfeited to the King's coffers. Although named in the charges, the Dowager was not brought to trial as she was 'old and testy', and 'may die out of perversity to defraud the King's Highness of the confiscation of her goods', but like the others she was sentenced to imprisonment and forfeiture of lands and goods.
The King thought the Dowager was as guilty of Treason as Queen Catherine and Lody Rochford, both who were sentenced to beheading. However, the Privy Council urged leniency on the part of the King due to the Dowager's advanced age and health. He eventually pardoned her and she was released. Her step-son, the 2nd Duke of Norfolk , was released and forgiven by the King, and was able to keep his possessions and Title. However, he was never fully favored by the King again.
The Dowager Duchess died in May of 1545. She was first buried at Thetford Abbey, but was later reinterred, at her written request at Lambeth Church in Surrey.
St. Mary at Lambeth Church, Surrey, England
Burial place of Agnes Tilney Howard