Elizabeth Seymour

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Elizabeth Seymour (?1513 - 1563) was one of the many children and the second daughter of Sir John Seymour, her sisters being Jane, Margery (who died in 1520) and Dorothy. Elizabeth married first, before the other girls. Her marriage to Sir Anthony Ughtred ended at his death in 1534. The couple did not have any children.

Like her elder sister, Jane Seymour, Elizabeth served as a maid in the queen's household. Elizabeth's family rose in wealth and power as King Henry VIII's attention turned to her sister, Jane. The Seymours involved themselves in the plot to depose and murder Queen Anne Boleyn in 1536. Eleven days after the former queen's execution, King Henry VIII of England married Elizabeth's sister Jane.

Elizabeth herself married as her second husband Gregory Cromwell, son of Henry's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. She acted as a chief lady-in-waiting to her sister, who died in 1537 in childbirth.

Gregory and Elizabeth had a son, Henry, the year after Jane's death. The family fortunes dipped with the execution of Gregory's father for treason and heresy in 1540.

Elizabeth took part in the official welcome party for Henry's fourth queen, the German princess Anne of Cleves, who arrived in England in 1540. After Anne's divorce, Elizabeth served Queen Catherine Howard.

Later, Elizabeth functioned as lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine Parr. After King Henry's death in 1547, Elizabeth's brother Thomas Seymour secretly married the former queen, Catherine Parr. She died in childbirth in 1548.

Elizabeth's two brothers, Edward Seymour (died 1552) and Thomas Seymour (died 1549), were both beheaded for treason in the reign of her nephew, Edward VI (reigned 1547 - 1553). She survived through the reign of Mary I (1553 - 1558), who had enjoyed good relations with Elizabeth's sister Jane Seymour. Elizabeth Seymour-Cromwell died in 1563 when Anne Boleyn's daughter Elizabeth I had reigned as queen for five years.

Scholars in the Victorian era incorrectly identified the portrait of Elizabeth (shown above) as depicting Queen Catherine Howard. However, historian Antonia Fraser has recently proved that this image is far more likely to portray Elizabeth Seymour-Cromwell. The sitter wears a widow's outfit, which Catherine Howard never had reason to wear - but Elizabeth did, since her first husband, Sir Anthony, died in 1534. Furthermore, the woman shown in the above portrait shows a clear family resemblance to Jane Seymour, particularly in the chin and mouth.

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