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September 17, 1537 – Anne Bassett Sworn to Jane Seymour’s Service

Monumental brass portrait of Lady Lisle (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)
Monumental brass portrait of Lady Lisle – there are no portraits of Anne…(public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Poor Anne. For years, her mother tries to get her a position at court and finally succeeds. Anne arrives, is sworn to Jane Seymour’s service the day after Jane takes to her chamber…and then loses her position when Jane dies a month later. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The story is a good one…

Anne Bassett was the daughter of Sir John Bassett and Honor Grenville. Sir John died young, and Honor remarried – Arthur Plantagenet, First Viscount Lisle. Did you catch the name Plantagenet? Yep. Arthur was the son of Edward IV…but an illegitimate son who therefore posed no threat to Henry VIII. Lord Lisle was Lord Deputy of Calais, and Lord and Lady Lisle corresponded with the court a great deal (their letters tend to be good ones in Letters and Papers – to  just skip to those there is actually a compilation, the Lisle Letters). Anyway. There is a long trail of Lady Lisle trying unsuccessfully to get her daughters Anne and Elizabeth placed into Anne Boleyn’s household (and arguably others) but was unsuccessful until she finally sent quail to a pregnant Jane Seymour “which her Grace loveth very well, and longeth not a little for.” In gratitude, Jane said she would take one of the girls into her service (whichever was “more sober, sad, wise and discreet”) and would place the other in the household of the Duchess of Suffolk. So Anne and Elizabeth made the trip over to meet the Queen, each with two changes of clothes to make sure they would be dressed properly. Anne was chosen, sworn in…then out of a job a month later after Jane died.

But Anne did stay at court, and there were always rumors about her.  Some say she became Henry’s mistress around 1538-1539 – which would have made her position as a maid of honor to Anne of Cleves just a little awkward. Some thought she might become the King’s wife after the execution of Catherine Howard (the Duchess of Suffolk was another rumored contender for the spot!). But she stayed safe, and became a maid of honor to Mary I in 1553 then in 1554 married Sir Walter Hungerford. They had two children quickly and then she unfortunately died (some time before 1558 when Walter remarried) (Anne Dormer, if you want to know).

But on this day the future looked limitless. Let’s stop there…

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