Catherine Howard
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Catherine Howard:
Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII


Catherine was one of 10 children of Joyce Culpeper and Lord Edmund Howard (1480-1539).

King Henry VIII first became attracted to the young girl Catherine in 1540, when he was seeking to end his politically motivated marriage to Anne of Cleves, to whom Catherine was a maid of honour. He had his marriage to Anne annulled on July 9, and on July 28 Henry and Catherine were privately married. He publicly acknowledged her as queen on August 8.

For the next 14 months Henry appeared to be much enamored of his young bride. But shortly thereafter, based on charges of infidelity, Henry beheaded Catherine and her two accused lovers, including her distant cousin, Thomas Culpeper.

Additional Information Sources


Genealogy of Catherine Howard and Thomas Culpeper.


Letter of Queen Catherine Howard to Thomas Culpeper, Spring 1541.


Catherine. A review of a play which opened September 1998 at the Chichester Festival Theatre in London. From the pen of William Nicholson, best known for Shadowlands, it is a strongly-crafted defense of Catherine.


The Six Wives of Henry VIII.  Reviews of two different books written in 1992. One by Antonia Fraser, the other by Alison Weir.


Catherine, The text of several chapters from The Personal History of Henry the Eighth, by Francis Hackett, 1929.


Rebuttal to some of the claims in Catherine above and a suggestion that the portrait is not Catherine's.

Katheryn Howard Portrait
"I die a Queen, but I would rather
die the wife of Culpeper.

(About image above: While the above painting was long thought to be of Catherine Howard, the National Portrait Gallery in London no longer believes this to be true. However, nearly every other image that is reportedly hers is also disputed. So the poor woman not only lost her head to the guillotine, she lost her face. I have heard too many arguments for too long on this, so if you feel you must write me on this topic, please don't expect a response. / Warren Culpepper)


The Fifth Queen. A 1908 book by Ford Madox Ford was republished by Penguin Books in September 1999 and may be purchased through


Tales from the Tower. A review of a three part series on The Learning Channel. One part covers Catherine's beheading at the Tower of London.


The Private Life of Henry VIII. A review of a 1933 Charles Laughton movie.


The Catherine Howard Postage Stamp. A 26 pence stamp issued by the British Post Office in 1997


Catherine Howard and her lover, Thomas Culpeper, as well as Diana Princess of Wales and the modern day Culpeppers, are all apparently descended from Sir Thomas Culpeper of Brenchley and Bayhall (1230-1309). This Thomas was the grandson of the earliest Culpepper of whom we have record: Sir Thomas Culpeper (born abt. 1170).

In the table below, each line of boxes represents a different generation, and contains the child or children of the person in the box immediately above it.

Sir Thomas Culpeper
b 1170
John Culpeper
b 1200
Sir Thomas Culpeper of Brenchley and Bayhall
1230-aft. 1309 

Walter Culpeper of Preston Hall, 1266-1321

Sir Thomas Culpeper of Bayhall
Sir Geoffrey Culpeper of Preston Hall, 1317-1390 Sir John Culpeper of Hardreshull and Bayhall
William Culpeper of Preston Hall, 1342-1402 Sir Thomas Culpeper of Bayhall, Hardreshull and Exton, 1356-1428
Sir John Culpeper of Oxen Hoath, Knight, 1366-1414 Walter Culpeper of Goudhurst
Sir William Culpeper of Preston Hall, Knight, 1387-1457 Sir John Culpeper of Bayhall, Hardreshull and Bedgebury
Sir Richard Culpeper of Oxenhoath
Sir Alexander Culpeper of Bedgebury and Hardreshull
Walter Culpeper of
Calais and Wigsell
 Joyce Culpeper, 1480-1525
(& Lord Edmund Howard)
Thomas Culpeper, d 1542, lover of Catherine Howard.

No Descendants
William Culpeper of Wigsell
Catherine, 1521-1542, fifth Queen of King Henry VIII

No Descendants
John Culpepper of Wigsell
Thomas Culpeper of
John Culpepper of Feckenham
John Lord Culpeper, 1st Baron of Thoresway
John Culpepper, the Merchant

Elizabeth Culpeper
(Married James Hamilton,
Groom of the Chamber to Charles II)

Ancestor of  Diana, Princess of Wales

Henry Culpeper of Lower Norfolk, VA*

Progenitor of the modern-day American Culpeppers

* DNA testing has now raised doubts about the ancestry of Henry Culpepper of Lower Norfolk.

Thus, it appears, that the lovers, Catherine and Thomas were 6th cousins, once removed.

It is believed by most Culpepper researchers that most American Culpeppers are descended from the Wigsell line, which started with Walter Culpeper of Calais and Wigsell.

Thus, the relationship of these American Culpeppers to Catherine Howard and Thomas Culpeper is as follows:


Thomas Culpepper is a first cousin, a dozen or more times removed, and


Catherine Howard is a seventh cousin, a dozen or more times removed.

Catherine's ancestry as depicted in chart form in the Culpepper Family Tree

horizontal rule

Catherine was also a first cousin of Anne Boleyn, Second Queen of Henry VIII, with both being granddaughters of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk.

Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk
& Elizabeth Tilney, Duchess
Elizabeth Howard
& Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire
Edmund Howard, Lord of Flodden Field
& Joyce Culpeper)
Anne Boleyn, 2nd Queen of
Henry VIII
Catherine Howard, 5th Queen of
Henry VIII

horizontal rule

Last Revised: 02 Jan 2015


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