Lady Catherine Gordon
Lady Catherine Gordon (c. 1474–October 1537) was a Scottish noblewoman and the wife of Yorkist pretender, Perkin Warbeck. After her imprisonment by King Henry VII of England, she became a favoured lady-in-waiting of his wife, Elizabeth of York. She had a total of four husbands, but there are no records she had any surviving children.
Lady Catherine was born in Scotland, the daughter of George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly, by his third wife, Lady Elizabeth Hay. Some 19th-century writers had assumed she was a daughter of Princess Annabella of Scotland, who had been the Earl of Huntly's first wife.[a]
Before 4 March 1497, Lady Catherine was given in marriage to the adventurer Perkin Warbeck, who was favored by King James IV of Scotland for political reasons, and who had apparently been courting her since 1495, as a love letter[b] from him to the very beautiful[c] Lady Catherine has been preserved in the Spanish State Letters, vol, i, p. 78. James IV gave Perkin Warbeck a 'spousing goune' of white damask for the wedding at Edinburgh. The celebrations included a tournament. Perkin wore armour covered with purple brocade. Lady Catherine followed her husband's fortunes and was styled the Duchess of York; she was taken prisoner at St. Michael's Mount after Henry's forces routed Warbeck's Cornish army at Exeter in 1497. On 15 October 1497 there is record of a payment of £7 13s. 4d. to Robert Southwell for horses, saddles and other necessities for the transportation of "my Lady Kateryn Huntleye." Her husband was hanged at Tyburn on 23 November 1499. Lady Catherine was kept a virtual prisoner by King Henry who placed her in the household of his wife, Elizabeth of York, where she became a favorite lady-in-waiting. Initially, Henry VII paid some of her expenses from his privy purse.
In the privy purse accounts her name was recorded as "Lady Kateryn Huntleye." Henry VII gave Lady Catherine gifts of clothing. These clothes included; in November 1501, clothes of cloth-of-gold furred with ermine, a purple velvet gown, and a black hood in the French style; in April 1502, black and crimson velvet for gown and black kersey for stockings; and in November 1502, black satin, and other black cloth, to be trimmed with mink (from her own stock) and miniver, with a crimson bonnet. On 25 January 1503 Catherine attended the ceremony of marriage between James IV and Margaret Tudor at Richmond Palace. James was represented by the Earl of Bothwell as his proxy.
In February 1503, Lady Catherine was the "Chief Mourner" at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, arriving in a "chair", a carriage, with the Lady Fitzwalter and Lady Mountjoy. The train of her dress was carried by the Queen's mother-in-law, the Countess of Derby. Lady Catherine made the offerings at the masses and with 37 other ladies placed a "pall", an embroidered cloth, on the coffin at Westminster Abbey.
In 1510, Lady Catherine obtained letters of denization and that same year, on 8 August, was given a grant of the manors of Philberts at Bray, and Eaton at Appleton, both then in Berkshire. Two years later she acquired along with her husband the manor of 'Fiffhede', Fyfield, and upon surrender of patent of 8 August the three manors were all re-granted to Lady Catherine Gordon with the proviso she could not leave England, for Scotland or other foreign lands, without license.
Before 13 February 1512, she married James Strangeways of Fyfield, a gentleman usher of the King's Chamber. The couple endowed a chantry priest to sing for the souls of their parents at St Mary Over at Southwark in London, where James's father was buried. In 1517, she married her third husband, Matthew Craddock of Swansea, Steward of Gower and Seneschal of Kenfig, who died c. July 1531. Matthew Craddock's will notes the jewels and silver that Lady Catherine owned before they were married. These included a girdle with a pomander, a heart of gold, a fleur-de-lis of diamonds, and a gold cross with nine diamonds. He bequeathed her an income from the lands of Dinas Powys and Llanedeyrn near Cardiff.
Her fourth and last husband was Christopher Ashton of Fyfield also then in Berkshire. She is not recorded as having any surviving children, however, she had two stepchildren by Ashton's previous marriage.
When not at Court, Catherine resided at Fyfield Manor, except during her marriage to Craddock when she gained permission to live in Wales. Catherine made her will on 12 October 1537, and died soon after. She was buried in the church of St Nicholas at Fyfield, with a monument, including brass figures (now lost). Matthew Craddock had previously erected a chest monument for himself and "Mi Ladi Katerin" with their effigies in St Mary's Church, Swansea. The carved heraldry included emblems of the Gordon and Hay family. Both Catherine's mother and paternal grandmother were members of the Hay family.
|Ancestors of Lady Catherine Gordon|
- Her mother was apparently not Princess Annabella as some accounts have stated, the Earl of Huntly divorced Princess Annabella in 1471. Catherine's effigy in Swansea church has the Gordon and Hay (not Stewart) arms impaled with those of Craddock indicating she was a daughter of Elizabeth Hay, probably her eldest. Catherine was given in marriage by King James IV as his cousin, which she would be either as a daughter of Annabella Stewart by consanguinity or as a daughter of Elizabeth Hay through affinity. So being called a cousin of the Scottish king did not require she necessarily be Annabella's daughter. J. E. Cussans, 'Notes on the Perkin Warbeck Insurrection', in, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, vol. 1 (1872), p. 63: The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, ed. James Balfour Paul, Vol. IV Edinburgh: David Douglas, (1907), pp. 530-1: Records of Aboyne (1894), 411
- The preserved letter to Lady Catherine is also an example of the style of this early period:—
“ Most noble lady, it is not without reason that all turn their eyes to you; that all admire love and obey you. For they see your two-fold virtues by which you are so much distinguished above all other mortals. Whilst on the one hand, they admire your riches and immutable prosperity, which secure to you the nobility of your lineage and the loftiness of your rank, they are, on the other hand, struck by your rather divine than human beauty, and believe that you are not born in our days but descended from Heaven.
All look at your face so bright and serene that it gives splendour to the cloudy sky; all look at your eyes so brilliant as stars which make all pain to be forgotten, and turn despair into delight; all look at your neck which outshines pearls; all look at your fine forehead. Your purple light of youth, your fair hair; in one word at the splendid perfection of your person:—and looking at they cannot choose but admire you; admiring they cannot choose love but you; loving they cannot choose but obey you.
I shall, perhaps, be the happiest of all your admirers, and the happiest man on earth, since I have reason to hope you will think me worthy of your love. If I represent to my mind all your perfections, I am not only compelled to love, to adore and to worship you, but love makes me your slave. Whether I was waking or sleeping I cannot find rest or happiness except in your affection. All my hopes rest in you, and in you alone.
Most noble lady, my soul, look mercifully down upon me your slave, who has ever been devoted to you from the first hour he saw you, Love is not an earthly thing, it is heaven born. Do not think it below yourself to obey love's dictates. Not only kings, but also gods and goddesses have bent their necks beneath its yoke.
I beseech you most noble lady to accept for ever one who in all things will cheerfully do as your will as long as his days shall last. Farewell, my soul and consolation. You, the brightest ornament in Scotland, farewell, farewell.
- The lady was reported to be "singularly beautiful" and that Henry VIII "much marveled at her beauty and amiable countenance, and sent her to London to the Queen". Records of Aboyne (1894), 409-10 & 410 n. *.
- The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, ed. James Balfour Paul, Vol. IV (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1907), pp. 530-1
- David Dunlop, 'The 'Masked Comedian': Perkin Warbeck's Adventures in Scotland and England from 1495 to 1497', The Scottish Historical Review, Vol. 70, No. 190 (Oct., 1991). p. 100, n. 2
- The records of Aboyne MCCXXX-MDCLXXXI, ed. Charles Gordon Huntly (Aberdeen: The New Spalding Club, 1894), pp. 409-10
- , Norman MacDougall, James IV (East Linton, Scotland: Tuckwell Press, 1997), pp. 122-123; Thomas Dickson, Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, Vol. 1, A.D. 1473-1498 (Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1877), pp. 257, 262-4.
- The records of Aboyne MCCXXX-MDCLXXXI, ed. Charles Gordon Huntly (Aberdeen: The New Spalding Club, 1894), p. 410
- Rosemary O'Day, The Routledge Companion to the Tudor Age (New York; Oxford: Routledge, 2010), p. 1590.
- John A. Wagner, Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2001), p. 291
- Excerpta Historica or Illustrations of English History, ed. Samuel Bentley (London: Richard Bentley, 1833), p. 115
- Lee, Sidney, ed. (1899). "Warbeck, Perkin". Dictionary of National Biography. 59. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, 1357-1509, ed. Joseph Bain, vol. 4 (Edinburgh: HM Register House, 1888), nos. 1677, 1685, 1688, (and in Latin, pp. 419-421, no. 36)
- John Leland, De Rebus Britannicis Collectanea, ed. Thomas Hearne, Vol. 4 (London: Benjamin White, 1774), p. 260
- Francis Grose, Antiquarian Repertory, Vol. 4 (London: 1784), pp. 245, 248, 249
- The records of Aboyne MCCXXX-MDCLXXXI, ed. Charles Gordon Huntly (Aberdeen: The New Spalding Club, 1894), p. 401
- John Montgomery Traherne, Historical Notices of Matthew Craddock of Swansea (London, William Rees; Longman and Co.; Cardiff, W. Bird; and Swansea, J. Williams, 1840), p. 25
- John Montgomery Traherne, Historical Notices of Matthew Craddock of Swansea (London, William Rees; Longman and Co.; Cardiff, W. Bird; and Swansea, J. Williams, 1840), pp. 6, 8, 16-17
- The records of Aboyne MCCXXX-MDCLXXXI, ed. Charles Gordon Huntly (Aberdeen: The New Spalding Club, 1894), p. 413
- John Montgomery Traherne, Historical Notices of Matthew Craddock of Swansea (London, William Rees; Longman and Co.; Cardiff, W. Bird; and Swansea, J. Williams, 1840), pp. 24-25
- Picture of the Craddock tomb, 1941, WW2 Today: John Montgomery Traherne, Historical Notices of Matthew Craddock of Swansea (London, William Rees; Longman and Co.; Cardiff, W. Bird; and Swansea, J. Williams, 1840), pp. 9-12