Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk

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Thomas Howard
Duke of Norfolk
Born 10 March 1536
Died 2 June 1572(1572-06-02) (aged 36)
Tower Hill , London, England
Noble family Howard
Spouse(s) Mary FitzAlan
Margaret Audley
Elizabeth Leyburne
Father Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
Mother Frances de Vere
Arms of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk.

Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, KG (10 March 1536 – 2 June 1572) was an English nobleman and politician. Although hailing from a family with strong Catholic leanings, he was raised a Protestant. He was a second cousin of Queen Elizabeth I through her maternal grandmother, and held many high offices during her reign.

Norfolk was the son of the poet Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. He commissioned Thomas Tallis, probably in 1567, to compose his renowned motet in forty voice-parts Spem in alium.


Norfolk was taught as a child by John Foxe, the Protestant martyrologist, who remained a lifelong recipient of Norfolk's patronage. His father predeceased his grandfather, so Norfolk inherited the Dukedom of Norfolk upon the death of his grandfather, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk in 1554.

He was a second cousin of Queen Elizabeth I through her maternal grandmother, Lady Elizabeth Howard, and he was trusted with public office despite his family's history and leanings towards Catholicism (although he was brought up a Protestant). He commissioned Thomas Tallis, probably in 1567, to compose his renowned motet in forty voice-parts Spem in alium.

Norfolk was Earl Marshal of England and Queen's Lieutenant in the North. From February to July 1560, Norfolk was commander of the English army in Scotland in support of the Lords of the Congregation opposing Mary of Guise. He negotiated the Treaty of Berwick (1560) by which the Congregation invited English assistance.[1]

Norfolk was the Principal of the commission at York in 1568 to hear evidence against Mary, Queen of Scots presented by Regent Moray, including the casket letters.[2]

Queen Elizabeth imprisoned Norfolk in 1569 for scheming to marry Mary, Queen of Scots.

Following his release, he participated in the Ridolfi plot with King Philip II of Spain to put Mary on the English throne and restore Catholicism in England. He was executed for treason in 1572. He is buried at the Church of St Peter ad Vincula within the walls of the Tower of London.

Norfolk's lands and titles were forfeit, although much of the estate was later restored to his sons. The title of Duke of Norfolk was restored, four generations later, to Thomas Howard.

Marriages and issue[edit]

First wife[edit]

Mary FitzAlan
Margaret Audley
Portrait of Elizabeth Leyburne attributed to Hans Eworth, c.1560

Thomas Howard's first wife was Mary FitzAlan, who after the death of her brother Henry in 1556 became heiress to the Arundel estates of her father Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel. She died after a year of marriage, having given birth to a son:

  • Philip Howard (28 June 1557 – 19 October 1595), who became the 20th Earl of Arundel.

It is from this marriage that modern Dukes of Norfolk derive their surname of 'FitzAlan-Howard' and their seat in Arundel. Though her funeral effigy is found at Framlingham church, Mary FitzAlan was not buried there but first at the church of St. Clement Danes, Temple Bar and then, under the direction of her grandson's will, at Arundel.

Second wife[edit]

Norfolk next married another heiress, Margaret Audley,[3] widow of Sir Henry Dudley and daughter of Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden. Margaret's children by her marriage to Norfolk were:

Margaret Audley Howard's tomb effigies is found at St Michael the Archangel, Framlingham.[5]

Third wife[edit]

After Margaret's death in 1563, Norfolk married Elizabeth Leyburne (1536 – 4 September 1567), widow of Thomas Dacre, 4th Baron Dacre of Gillesland and daughter of Sir James Leyburne.

Norfolk's three sons by his first two wives, Philip, Thomas, and William, married, respectively, Anne, Margaret, and Elizabeth Dacre. The Dacre sisters were the daughters of Elizabeth Leyburne by her marriage to Thomas Dacre and were, thereby, stepsisters to Norfolk's sons.

Attempted fourth marriage[edit]

Following the death of his third wife, Norfolk made an effort in 1569 to marry Mary, Queen of Scots. The marriage, of course, never happened, and Norfolk was imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth and executed for this.



Ancestors of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
16. John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk
8. Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk
17. Katherine de Moleyns
4. Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
18. Sir Frederick Tilney
9. Elizabeth Tilney
19. Elizabeth Cheney
2. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
20. Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham
10. Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham
21. Catherine Woodville, Duchess of Buckingham and Bedford
5. Elizabeth Stafford, Duchess of Norfolk
22. Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland
11. Eleanor Percy, Duchess of Buckingham
23. Maud Herbert, Countess of Northumberland
1. Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
24. Robert de Vere
12. John de Vere
25. Joan Courtenay
6. John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford
13. Alice Kilrington
3. Frances de Vere, Countess of Surrey
14. Sir Edward Trussell of Kibbleston
7. Elizabeth Trussell, Countess of Oxford
15. Margaret Dunn

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Calendar of State Papers Scotland, vol. 1 (1898), 323, 440.
  2. ^ HMC: Manuscripts of the Earl of Salisbury at Hatfield, vol.1 (1883), p. 461.
  3. ^ "Margaret Howard", National Portrait Gallery
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Churchmouse: Framlingham, Suffolk. Church of St. Michael the Archangel". 2 May 2000. Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2012.

Further reading[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Norfolk
Earl Marshal
Succeeded by
The Earl of Shrewsbury
Preceded by
The Earl of Sussex
Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk
Succeeded by
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Thomas Howard
Duke of Norfolk
(3rd creation)

Title next held by
Thomas Howard
Earl of Surrey
(3rd creation)

Title next held by
Thomas Howard
Baron Mowbray
Succeeded by
Philip Howard