Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

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Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey as played by David O'Hara in Season 4
& played by Owen Day-Jones in Seasons 1 and 2

Poet, Soldier,Courtier

born c. 1516/18 - died 19 January, 1547 executed by order of King Henry VIII

Character's backstory
The son of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Henry was brought up with Henry VIII's illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy. He was given the title "Earl of Surrey" by courtesy in 1524 on the passing away of his grandfather, when his father Thomas Howard was created 3rd Duke of Norfolk. He accompanied his first cousin Anne Boleyn, the King, and Henry Fitzroy to France, staying there for over a year as a member of the entourage of Francis I. From 1530 until 1532 he lived at Windsor with his father’s ward, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond. In 1532, after talk of marriage with the princess Mary Tudor, he married Lady Frances de Vere, the 14-year-old daughter of the Earl of Oxford, but they did not live together until 1535. Despite this marriage, an alliance between him and the princess Mary was still discussed. In 1533 Richmond married Surrey’s sister Mary, but the two did not live together because Mary preferred to stay in the country. Surrey served with his father against the Pilgrimage of the Grace in 1536 and was known as a mighty soldier.

The Howard Faction were in opposition to the Seymour Faction so when Jane Seymour became queen there was some scheming and he was accused of sympathizing with the Pilgrimage of the Grace even being imprisoned on suspicion. However, the accusations were patently false since he had been involved in putting down the rebellion. By 1541, he was back in favour and had been made a Knight of the Garter.
Henry served the king in the war with Scotland and in 1543 he fought in Flanders with the English army on the side of Charles V. The following year he was wounded at the siege of Montreuil; in 1545-1546.

In 1546, he made the mistake of announcing his opinion of the obviousness of his father's becoming Protector to young Prince Edward. The Seymours finally had their day, when Surrey ill-advisedly displayed royal quarterings on his shield. Arrested along with his father on charges of treason, they were imprisoned in the Tower, condemned and executed on January 19, 1547 on Tower Hill. His father was luckier since King Henry died the day he was supposed to be executed and the execution was stayed.

Gentility: from a Noble Family

Position: Royal cupbearer in 1526 (aged approx 10), knighted in 1536
At the trial of his kinswoman, Anne Boleyn, in 1536, he was present as the representative of the Earl Marshal, his father having presided by virtue of his office of Lord Treasurer.
In July 1544 Henry invaded France with a large army, the vanguard of which was commanded by the Duke of Norfolk, and Surrey was appointed Marshal, an office of considerable importance.

Personality type: For The Tudors, has been described as "arrogant but sensitive". In history he was known for his irascibility and continuous vaunting of his descent from Edward I which resulted in his imprisonment on several occasions.

"The life and death of the Earl of Surrey remain complex subjects, for Surrey was a conundrum to his contemporaries, let alone his biographers. His fall was a dramatic one, for Surrey had been a privileged member of Henry's court, raised as the companion of the king's much beloved son the Duke of Richmond [[[Henry Fitzroy]]] invested with the Order of the Garter, cousin to two queens and an important military commander. He was known for his arrogance, painfully conscious of his high birth and angry and melancholic by turns at the proliferation in government of men of lowly birth. He was a very great poet, writing poetry which hints at his loathing for the politics of Henry's reign, but tells us nothing directly."
~ Lucy Wooding "Henry VIII"

Signature look:

Endearing trait(s):
He introduced blank verse to English in translating two books of Vergil's Aeneid. Along with his friend Sir Thomas Wyatt, he popularized the Petrarchan sonnet form in English. He was the only poet mentioned on the title page of the well-known miscellany (1557) of printer, Richard Tottel.

Annoying trait(s):
His pride of ancestry and his foolhardiness in the dangerous days at the close of Henry VIII's reign left him open to the intrigues of those who plotted for the court supremacy which would come after the King's death.

"Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey was one of the most flamboyant and controversial characters of Henry VIII's reign. A pioneering poet, whose verse had a profound impact on Shakespeare, Surrey was nevertheless branded by one contemporary as 'the most foolish proud boy that is in England'. He was the heir of England's premier nobleman, first cousin to two of Henry VIII's wives - Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard - and best friend and brother-in-law to the King's illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy. Celebrated for his chivalrous deeds both on and off the battlefield, Surrey became, at only twenty-eight, the King's Lieutenant General in France. But his confident exterior masked insecurity and loneliness. A man of intriguing contradictions, Surrey was both law enforcer and law breaker, political conservative and religious reformer and his life, replete with drunken escapades, battlefield heroics, conspiracy and courtroom drama, sheds new light on the opulence and artifice of a dazzling, but deadly, age."

~ editorial product description of Jessie Child's book "Henry VIII's Last Victim: The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey"

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Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey as played by David O'Hara
David O'Hara

Season 4
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk - The Tudors WikiOwen Day-Jones
Owen Day-Jones
played The Duke of Norfolk's son
Left - Season 1, Right - Season 2
" The happy life be these, I find:—
...the quiet mind;
The equal friend; no grudge, no strife;

...wisdom joined with simplicity;

The night discharged of all care"

~ Henry Howard

As proud Windsor,
where I in lust and joy,
With a Kinges son,
my childish years did pass...

~ Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

In the series, Henry Howard uses the phrase "mean creatures" twice, once to Charles Brandon and at his trial....here is the actual context:

"When the judges and the twelve gentlemen had taken their seats, the King's lawyer spoke and said "My Lords, for either of the offences which the Earl has committed he deserves death; first for usurping the Royal arms, which gives rise to suspicion that he hoped to become King, and the other for escaping from prison, whereby he showed his guilt".

The Earl, with manly courage said,"You are false and to earn a piece of gold would condemn your own father . I never sought to usurp the King's arms, for everybody knows that my ancestors bore them. Go to church in Norfolk and you will see them there, for they have been ours for five hundred years".

One of the lawyers said, "Why did you put the inscription on the garter?." to which the Earl replied. "I did not put the King's motto, so as to give no ground for suspicion, and you have no reason to blame me for using the words 'Till then thus', for you all know gentlemen, the great services my father has rendered, and I hoped, in recognition of them that the King would return the arms to me. That was the reason I used the motto." Then up and spoke Secretary Paget, saying,, "Hold your peace my lord; your idea was to commit treason and as the King is old you thought to become king."

Then cried the Earl, " And thou , Catchpole ! what hast thou to do with it? Thou hadst better hold thy tongue, for the kingdom has never been well since the King put mean creatures like thee into the government".

... Then spoke the Earl of Warwick, and said, "if you are not guilty and meant no harm, why did you put the cover over the painting, and why did you attempt to break out of prison?" "I tried to get out," said the Earl, "to prevent myself from coming to the pass in which I am now; and you, my lord, know well that however right a man may be they always find the fallen one guilty."

[After the jury left and returned and appointed Edward Seymour to speak for them, he ] replied in a loud voice that all people should hear, "Guilty, and he should die." He had hardly said the words when the people made a great tumult, and it was a long while before they could be silenced, although they cried out to them to be quiet, but silence was at last restored.

The Earl of Surrey, then said, "Of what have you found me guilty? Surely you will find no laws that justifies you; but I know the King wants rid of the noble blood around him and to employ none but low people".

It is thought that when Paget came back from the King, he brought an order that he should be condemned, and it was shocking to hear the things he kept saying, and to see the grief of the people. In short, they brought him out and beheaded him next day; and on the scaffold he spoke a great deal, but said he never meant to commit treason. They would not let him talk any more and after he was beheaded they buried him in Barking Chapel."

Source: Chronicle of King Henry VIII :Being a Contemporary Record of ...By Martin Andrew Sharp Hume


Family members:
Father: Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
Mother: Elizabeth Stafford - daughter of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Lady Eleanor Percy
Brother: Sir Thomas Howard, 1st Viscount of Bindon
Sister: Lady Mary Howard (future wife of Henry Fitzroy)
Sister: Lady Katherine Howard, Countess of Derby (d.1530)
Step-mother [if Henry had been alive during her marriage to his father]: Anne of York, daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville (sister of Elizabeth of York, King Henry VIII's mother).
Half-Brother: Lord Thomas Howard (c. 1496 - 1508)
Aunt: Lady Elizabeth Howard (Mother of Anne Boleyn)
Uncle: Lord Edmund Howard (Father of Katherine Howard)
1st Cousin: Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn, Mary Boleyn
1st Cousin: Katherine Howard *In the series he is inaccurately depicted as Katherine's uncle.
1st Cousin Once Removed: Princess Elizabeth Tudor

Lady Frances De Vere; daughter of Sir John De Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford and Lady Elizabeth Trussell (married in early 1532)

- Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk (1536 - executed 1572);
married (1) Mary FitzAlan (2) Margaret Audley
- Jane Howard, Countess of Westmoreland (1537 - 1593); married Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmoreland
- Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton (1540–1614)
- Margaret Howard, Baroness Scrope of Bolton (1542–1592); married Henry Scrope, 9th Baron Scrope of Bolton
- Catherine Howard. Baroness Berkeley (c. 1544 - 1596); married Henry Berkeley, 7th Baron Berkeley

Thomas Seymour

Henry Fitzroy - they grew up and were educated together. ["
With a Kinges son, my childish years did pass,] *In the series the character of Fitzroy dies at a young age but did in fact live till after Anne Boleyn's demise, when he was 17 years old & had married Henry Howard's sister Mary.

William Parr - grew up with Henry Fitzroy and Henry Howard; brother of Queen Catherine Parr and Anne Parr.

Thomas Wyatt - although he was about 15 years older.

Thomas, the Younger Wyatt


Edward Seymour
Thomas Seymour



  • "I am a Howard; it is expected of me...and always has been, and I will not fail." - When conversing with Charles Brandon. Season 4, Episode 1.
  • "Wench! How would you like to suck the c*** of a man who is a member of the Order of the Garter?" Visiting a tavern after his investiture. -- Season 4, Episode 3.
  • "Paris by September? Good. There are a lot of Frenchmen in Paris I would like to kill...so I can sleep with their wives with a clear conscience." In the King's tent in the field outside Boulogne. Season 4 Episode 7.
  • "Your Grace, I didn't need your help, but thank you all the same." To Brandon after being ambushed by the French at Boulogne. Season 4, Episode 7.
  • "Of what have you found me guilty? Surely there is no law that justifies it, but I know the king wants to get rid of all the noble blood around him and employ none but low people." -- Season 4, Episode 8.


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Henry Howard as played by David O'Hara
Henry How
Henry Howard, Ear of Surrey as played by David O'Hara

David O'Hara as Henry Howard with the King
Owen Day-Jones
Season 1

Owen Day-Jones
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey by Holbein
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
(c.1533 aged approx. 16)
The drawing was originally incorrectly identified as
"Thomas" as many drawings were.

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