Queen Of England Catharine Parr, the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII., born at Kendal castle, Westmoreland, about 1513, died at Sudely castle in Gloucestershire, Sept. 7, 1548. She was the daughter of Sir Thomas Parr, who was at the time of her birth master of the wards and comptroller of the king's household. He died when she was but five years old, leaving her education in charge of her mother, under whose tuition and care Catharine became one of the most learned and accomplished women of her time. She was married when very young to Edward, Lord Burgh, an elderly widower, who died in 1528. Shortly after this the family of the Parrs, already distantly connected with the royal house, became more nearly allied with it through the marriage of Catharine's brother William to a kinswoman of the king; and two of the Parrs now became attached to the court. These circumstances seems to have led at this early day to some degree of friendly intercourse between Henry and Catharine. While still under 20 years of age she was married again, this time also to a widower, John Neville, Lord Latimer, an earnest Catholic, who died in 1542 or 1543. Soon after his death Catharine embraced the Protestant faith, of which she became from this time an earnest friend and defender, her home at Snape hall being a resort of some of the most famous reformers.
During this second widowhood her hand was sought by Sir Thomas Seymour; and she had already consented to marry him, when she received the alarming and unwelcome news that she had been selected for the sixth wife of the king. It was impossible to resist the royal will, and Catharine was married to Henry on July 12, 1543. The influence of the new queen at court was excellent. She behaved toward Henry with the greatest tact, and used his favor, which she successfully retained, for the best purposes, even venturing to occasionally interfere in behalf of persecuted Protestants. She devoted much of her time to study, composition, and scholarly pursuits, and impressed the importance of these upon the king's children. Her relatives received places of influence, and she so skilfully managed her husband's caprices as to gain some power even in state affairs. When Ilenrv went to France in 1544, he left her re-gent of the kingdom. Even her known sympathy for the unfortunate Anne Askew did not suffice to turn the fickle king against her; and it was a comparatively trivial matter which brought her into her first real danger of sharing the fate of her predecessors.
In one of the theological discussions in which she occasionally engaged with Henry, she allowed herself to support her views with more warmth than usual, and he became greatly incensed. One of her Catholic enemies who was present took advantage of the king's anger to poison his mind against the queen, and, aided by others, induced him to permit several of his councillors to consult as to the drawing up of a warrant against her. This warrant and an order for her arrest were actually signed a few days later; but Wriothesley, the lord chancellor, to whom they had been given, accidentally dropped them, and they were found and carried to Catharine. Thus warned, she so skilfully flattered and soothed her husband that he became completely reconciled to her. He saluted Wriothesley, when he came to arrest the queen, with a torrent of abusive epithets, and bade him "avaunt from his presence." From this time Catharine enjoyed apparent favor till Henry's death in 1547; but there seems little doubt that in secret the king considered several plans for ridding himself of her. Shedid not long remain a widow. After passing a few months in her jointure house at Chelsea, she became the wife of her old lover Sir Thomas Seymour, now lord admiral.
But her married life with him was embittered by his familiarity with the young princess Elizabeth, and by his growing neglect of herself. Though without children by her former marriages, she bore Sir Thomas a daughter on Aug. 30, 1548, the infant's birth costing her her life. - Catharine's literary works are admirable specimens of a pure early English style. She wrote "Queen Catharine Parr's Lamentations of a Sinner," published by Lord Burleigh in 1548. In her lifetime she published a volume of prayers and meditations. Her letters are preserved in Strype's annals, Hayne's collection of state papers, and in the Ashmole collection. She employed scholars to translate from the Latin into English Erasmus's paraphrase on the New Testament, and wrote a Latin letter to the princess, afterward Queen Mary, exhorting her to translate the paraphrase on St. John.