Womens' Apostolic Alliance


Queen Catherine Parr

Queen Catherine Parr was, I thought, born in Kendal, my home town. She was the 6th wife of Henry VIII and for most of my life I thought she was a woman who had little choice in what happened to her or influence. In those days women were considered property and marriages were made for political reasons. On one of my visits back home I picked up a booklet in the parish church called “Queen Katherine Parr’s Book of Prayers” and had it for a few years occasionally reading a prayer from it. It was only recently that I thought to look at her life and what it must have been like, what I found out really suprised me.
Catherine Parr; (1512 – 5 September 1548) was Queen of England from 1543 until 1547, as the last of the six wives of King Henry VIII, whom she married on 12 July 1543 aged 31 to Henry’s 52 years. She was the first queen consort of Ireland and the fourth commoner Henry had taken as his consort, and outlived him. She was also the most-married English queen, having had four husbands.
Catherine enjoyed a close relationship with Henry's three children and was personally involved in the education of Elizabeth and Edward, both of whom became English monarchs. She was influential in Henry's passing of the Third Succession Act in 1543 that restored both his bastardised daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, to the line of succession to the throne.
Catherine was appointed Regent from July to September 1544 while Henry was on a

military campaign in France and in  case lost his life, she was to rule as Regent until Edward came of age. On account of Catherine's Protestant symphasies, she provoked the enmity of powerful Catholic officials who sought to turn the King agains her - a warrant for her arrest was drawn up in 1546. However, she and the King soon reconciled. Her book Prayers or Meditations became the first book published by an English queen and by a woman under her own Name. She assumed the role of Elizabeth's Guardian following the King's death, and published a second book, The Lamentations of a Sinner. Six months after Henry's death, she married her fourth and ginal husband, Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley. The marriage was short-lived, as she died in September 1548, probably of complications of childbirth.

Catherine was born in 1512, probably in August. She was the oldest surviving child of Sir Thomas Parr, lord of the manor of Kendal in Westmorland (now Cumbria), a descendant of King Edward III, and of the former Maud Green, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Thomas Green. The Parrs were a substantial northern family which included many knights. Sir Thomas was Sheriff of Northamptonshire, Master of the Wards, and Comptroller to King Henry VIII. Parr was also a close companion of the King. Her mother was a close friend and attendant of Catherine of Aragon (Henry’s first wife), and Catherine Parr was probably named after Queen Catherine, who was her godmother.
It was once thought that Catherine Parr had been born at Kendal Castle in Westmorland. However, at the time of her birth, Kendal Castle was already in a bad condition, and by 1512 it had become derelict. Historians however consider it was more likely she was born in Blackfriars, London. Her father died when she was young, and Catherine was close to her mother as she grew up. Maud managed the children’s education and the family estates and must have left an impression on her daughter of the greater role an independent woman could have in society.

Catherine's initial education was similar to other well-born women, but she developed a passion for learning which would continue throughout her life. She was fluent in French, Latin, and Italian, and began learning Spanish when she was Queen. As a child, Catherine could not tolerate sewing and often said to her mother "my hands are ordained to touch crowns and scepters, not spindles and needles".
In 1529, when she was seventeen, Catherine married Sir Edward Borough, a grandson of Edward Burgh, 2nd Baron Burgh. Catherine's first husband was in his twenties and may have been in poor health he died in the spring of 1533.
In the summer of 1534, aged 22, Catherine married John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer, her father's second cousin and a kinsman of Lady Strickland. With this marriage, Catherine became only the second woman in the Parr family to marry into the peerage. The twice-widowed Latimer was twice Catherine's age. She now had a home of her own, a husband with a position and influence in the north, and a title.

Latimer was a supporter of the Roman Catholic Church and had bitterly opposed the king's first divorce, his subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn, and the religious consequences. In October 1536, during the Lincolnshire Rising, a mob of rebellious Roman Catholics appeared before the Latimer’s home threatening violence if Latimer did not join their efforts to reinstate the links between England and Rome. Catherine watched as her husband was dragged away. Between October 1536 and April 1537 Catherine lived alone in fear with her step-children, struggling to survive. It is probable that, in these uncertain times, Catherine's strong reaction against the rebellion strengthened her adherence to the reformed Church of England. In January 1537, during the uprising of the North, Catherine and her step-children were held hostage at Snape Castle in Yorkshire. The rebels ransacked the house and sent word to Lord Latimer, who was returning from London, that if he did not return immediately they would kill his family. When Latimer returned to the castle, he somehow talked the rebels into releasing his family and leaving.

Although no charges were laid against him, Latimer's reputation, which reflected upon Catherine, was tarnished for the rest of his life. Over the next seven years, the family spent much of their time in the south. For several years, Latimer was blackmailed by Cromwell and forced to do his bidding. After Cromwell's death in 1540, the Latimers reclaimed some dignity. In 1542 the family spent time in London as Latimer attended Parliament. Catherine visited her brother William and her sister Anne at court. It was here that Catherine became acquainted with her future fourth husband, Sir Thomas Seymour. The atmosphere of the court was greatly different from that of the rural estates she knew. There, Catherine could find the latest trends, not only in religious matters, but in less weighty secular matters such as fashion and jewelry.

By the winter of 1542, Lord Latimer's health had worsened. Catherine nursed her husband until his death in march1543. In his will, the 31 year old Catherine was named as guardian of his daughter, Margaret, and was put in charge of his affairs until his daughter's majority. Latimer left Catherine the manor of Stowe and other properties. He also bequeathed money for supporting his daughter, and in the case that his daughter did not marry within five years, Catherine was to take £30 a year out of the income to support her step-daughter. After an event filled 9 year marriage Catherine was left a rich widow. It is likely that Catherine sincerely mourned her husband; she kept a remembrance of him, his New Testament with his name inscribed inside, until her death.

Using her late mother's friendship with Henry's first queen, Catherine of Aragon, Catherine took the opportunity to renew her own friendship with the former queen's daughter, Lady Mary. By 16 February 1543, Catherine had established herself as part of Mary's household, and it was there that Catherine caught the attention of the King. Although she had begun a romantic friendship with Sir Thomas Seymour, the brother of the late queen Jane Seymour, she saw it as her duty to accept Henry's proposal over Seymour's. Seymour was given a posting in Brussels to remove him from the king's court.
Catherine married Henry VIII on 12 July 1543 at Hampton Court Palace, around four months after her husband’s death. She was the first Queen of England also to be Queen of Ireland following Henry's adoption of the title King of Ireland. Catherine and her new husband shared several common ancestors making them multiple cousins. On becoming queen. Catherine was partially responsible for reconciling Henry with his daughters from his first two marriages, and also developed a good relationship with Henry's son Edward. She was also a noted patron of the arts & music.
Henry went on his last, unsuccessful, campaign to France from July to September 1544, leaving Catherine as his regent. Because her regency council was composed of sympathetic members, including her uncle, Thomas Cranmer (the Archbishop of Canterbury) and Lord Hertford, Catherine obtained effective control and was able to rule as she saw fit. She handled provision, finances and musters for Henry's French campaign, signed five royal proclamations, and maintained constant contact with her lieutenant in the northern Marches, Lord Shrewsbury, over the complex and unstable situation with Scotland. It is thought that her actions as regent, together with her strength of character and noted dignity, and later religious convictions, greatly influenced her stepdaughter Lady Elizabeth (the future Elizabeth I of England).

The Queen's religious views were viewed with suspicion by Catholic and anti-Protestant officials such as Stephen Gardiner (the Bishop of Winchester) and Lord Wriothesley (the Lord Chancellor). Although she must have been brought up as a Catholic, given her birth before the Protestant Reformation, she later became sympathetic to and interested in the "New Faith". She came under suspicion that she was actually a Protestant by the mid-1540s. This view is supported by the strong reformed ideas that she revealed after Henry's death, when her second book, Lamentacions of a synner (Lamentations of a Sinner), was published in late 1547. The book promoted the Protestant concept of justification by faith alone, which the Catholic Church deemed to be heresy. It is unlikely that she developed these views in the short time between Henry's death and the publication of the book. Her sympathy with Anne Askew, the Protestant martyr who fiercely opposed the Catholic belief of transubstantiation, also suggests that she was more than merely sympathetic to the new religion.

Katherine and her ladies were known to have had banned books which was grounds for arrest and execution on charges of heresy. In February, 1546, the King was told that a Protestant woman, Anne Askew, had named the Queen as a protestant. The King ordered Anne Askew questioned again, and she was savagely racked and tortured by Wriothesley, personally, in the Tower. She would not, however, renounce her Protestant faith, nor implicate anyone else. In June, she was sentenced to death and burned at the stake. Her death was relatively quick compared to most—someone had paid the executioner to hang a bag of gunpowder at her neck, so she could die of the explosion, instead of waiting to die by suffocation or the boiling of one's own blood.

However, there was enough other evidence against the Queen to issue a warrant for her arrest. The warrant was accidentally dropped and someone loyal to the Queen saw it and then quickly told her about it. This is a well-documented incident. After learning of the arrest warrant, Katherine was said to be very ill, either as a ruse to stall or from a genuine panic attack. Henry went to see her and chastised her for her outspokenness about the reformed religion and his feeling that she was forgetting her place by instructing him on such matters. Katherine’s response in her defense was that she was only arguing with him on these issues so she could be instructed by him, and to take his mind off other troubles. Playing to Henry’s ego no doubt helped and Katherine was forgiven Shortly before he died, Henry made provision for an allowance of £7,000 per year for Catherine to support herself. He further ordered that after his death, Catherine, though a queen dowager, should be given the respect of a queen of England, as if he were still alive. Catherine retired from court after the coronation of her stepson, Edward VI.

Following Henry's death, Catherine's old love, Sir Thomas Seymour, returned to court. Catherine was quick to accept when Seymour renewed his suit of marriage. Since only six months had passed since the death of King Henry, Seymour knew that the Regency council would not agree to a petition for the queen dowager to marry so soon. Sometime near the end of May, Catherine and Seymour married in secret. King Edward VI and council were not informed of the union for several months. When their union became public knowledge, it caused a small scandal. The King and Lady Mary were very much displeased by the union. After being censured and reprimanded by the council, Seymour wrote to the Lady Mary asking her to intervene on his behalf. Mary became furious at his forwardness and tasteless actions and refused to help. Mary even went as far as asking her half-sister, Lady Elizabeth, not to interact with Queen Catherine any further.

During this time, Catherine began having altercations with Edward Seymour, her husband's brother. Like Thomas, Edward was the King's uncle, and also was the Lord Protector and the Duke of Somerset. A rivalry developed between Catherine and his wife, her own former lady-in-waiting, the Duchess of Somerset, which became particularly acute over the matter of Catherine's jewels. In November 1547, Catherine published her second book, Lamentations of a Sinner. The book was a success and widely praised. In early 1548, Catherine invited Lady Elizabeth and her cousin, Lady Jane Grey, to stay in the couple's household at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire. The dowager queen promised to provide education for both. Queen Catherine's house came to be known as a respected place of learning for young women.

In March 1548, at age 35, Catherine became pregnant. This pregnancy was a surprise as Catherine had not conceived during her first three marriages. During this time, Seymour began to take an interest in Lady Elizabeth. Seymour had reputedly plotted to marry her before marrying Catherine, and it was reported later that Catherine discovered the two in an embrace. Whatever actually happened, Elizabeth was sent away in May 1548 to stay with Sir Anthony Denny's household at Cheshunt and never saw her beloved stepmother again, although the two corresponded.

Catherine gave birth to her only child — a daughter, Mary Seymour, named after Catherine's stepdaughter Mary — on 30 August 1548, and died only six days later, on 5 September 1548, at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, from what is thought to be puerperal fever or puerperal sepsis, also called childbed fever. Coincidentally, this was also the illness that killed Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour. It was not uncommon, due to the lack of hygiene around childbirth. Nevertheless, a theory exists that Catherine's husband, Sir Thomas Seymour, may have poisoned her in order to carry out his plan to marry Lady Elizabeth Tudor. Lord Thomas Seymour of Sudeley was beheaded for treason on 20 March 1549, and Mary Seymour was taken to live with the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk, a close friend of Catherine's.

Catherine's good sense, moral rectitude, compassion, firm religious commitment, and strong sense of loyalty and devotion have earned her many admirers among historians.
BOOK OF PRAYERS Her book of prayers was written in her own hand on parchment and measured 60 x 40mm. It was approx 15mm thick. While many of the prayers showed an attitude of complete subjection to God and the belief that life on earth is full of sorrow and that to be with God would put an end to such miseries there are some which hint at an understanding of what it meant to be intimate with God.
 “O Lord Jesu, moste loving spouse, who shall geve me wynges of perfexte love,
that I maie flie up from these wordely myseries and reflect in Thee.
O when shalle I assende to Thee and see and feele how swete Thou art.” 

“When shall I wholy gather myselfe in Thee so perfectly that I shall not for Thy
love feele myselfe but Thee only above myselfe and above all wordly thinges that
Thous maiste vouchsafe to visite me in suche wise as Thou doest visit Thy most
faithfull lovers"
By Moya Boardman, Prophet, W.A.A. UK Member

REFERENCES: wikepedia
Queen Katherine Parr’s Book of Prayers
Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence - compiled by Janel Mueller (excerpts from)


Countess Huntingdon

A woman of noble character,
Countess Huntingdon (18th century)
Proverbs 31:29-31

Basically what I want to say about this woman is from Proverbs 31, firstly, to honor her for doing so well “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.” She was a great principal benefactor to the poor across the British Isles, America, Africa and India. Secondly, praise her for being “a woman who fears the Lord,” She was well known for her involvement in the ‘nonconformist’ movements within the Church of England and in the face of opposition for setting up numerous chapels which sought to change the doctrine
and practices, of the church from within to a new style of preaching ‘evangelical revival’. Thirdly,  “let her own works praise her in the gates” She was responsible for an evangelical college in Wales to train more clergy and organized and bore all the costs for her ministers, student preachers from her college to go out to Georgia, America and work for her orphanage there (there still exists a Bethesda home for boys today). Into retirement and widowhood she did not recluse but rather became much more devoted to matters of travelling and looking for new places where she might be able to set up new congregations.  She continued working until the last day of her life, age 84 paying wages and instructing ministers of duties concerning next responsibilities. 

During a prayer walk in Bath, we arrived at her chapel and house; which was opened in 1765 when the city of Bath was a place to find entertainment, card tables and gaming. At her chapel especially in front of her house, which would have housed her chaplain but also, been her lodge during her visits, we prayed and honored her work and had a sense of the need for her legacy to be known. Also we prayed for more women like her to rise up and be true to their call as benefactors to spiritual causes, including Forerunners in Bath. 

She would have surely been called to five-fold ministry, as an Apostle within the church, but was not, permitted to, at that time (18th century). Nevertheless by today’s standards she is honored and praised for stepping up to excel, alongside the likes of John Wesley and George Whitefield. Although at that time, the church never realized or accepted the spiritual authority she carried, and actually criticized and opposed her. She kept her heart right. Her chapels ceased to be societies within the Church of England and became known as “the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion” forcing her into being a dissenter but even so, she found occasion to rejoice (quote) “I am to be cast out of the church now, only for what I have been doing these forty years speaking and living for Jesus Christ!” These small church fellowships still exist today. She felt liberated and believed she was faithful to God and man through it all. It was up to the world to honour her for her acts of charity and she carried on with God’s purposes. She exhibited boldness and fearlessness to stand up for the basic truths of revival.

By Vanessa Robinson. Prophet. W.A.A. UK member

Margaret Somerville - A Missionary

1912 - Margaret turned 100 in September and is still going strong
Margaret was the daughter of a Methodist minister. She knew she was called as a missionary and would only go where the Lord sent her. She was sent to Croker Island, an island an hour’s flight north of Darwin, at the meeting of the Arafura Sea and the Timor Sea.
Margaret left for Darwin in November 1941. She was employed as a ‘Cottage Mother’ taking care of and teaching Aboriginal children at the Croker Island Methodist Mission. She spent 6 months there before being ordered to leave before the approaching Japanese captured her.

On April 7th 1942 she managed to evacuate 95 children from Croker Island, to the coast of Arnhem Land, where she and the children were left to fend for themselves. With the children she started to march towards Darwin. The heat, flies and lack of facilities, including any roads, made it difficult for the children to continue. She carried flour and made damper. They built a raft to cross crocodile infested waters. A cattle station owner killed a bullock to give them some meat. They drank rainwater. They spent three weeks at the Church of England Mission station at Oenpelli. To ensure the safety of the children Margaret wanted to go the 3000 miles to Sydney. The journey would take six weeks to complete.

Margaret Somerville (rear right) with Children from Croker Island 
(Peter and Sheila Forrest Collection - Croker Island Exodus)

She encouraged the children to sing the songs she had taught them, to keep up their spirits. She and the 95 children hitched a ride in the back of a cattle truck over hundreds of miles on unsealed roads to Alice Springs. They then caught ‘The Ghan’ to Adelaide plus another Logan Branch.

5 days on half a dozen trains from Adelaide to Melbourne, to Albury to Sydney. As they pulled into Albury almost all of the 95 children were sick from a stomach and intestinal virus. They were tired, sick, hungry and crying, but this 30 year old woman was softly singing to keep their spirits up, mopping up vomit, nursing the fearful little ones, and trying to get the 95 children off one train onto another. They had no supplies of food, clothing, bedding or medical requisites apart from what she could scrounge on the way. Margaret settled the children in a church camp at Otford in NSW where they spent the rest of the war in safety.

The journey across the centre of Australia, travelling 3000 miles, took six weeks through the worst of the nation’s heat. It was an incredible journey led by Margaret Somerville.
After the war Margaret returned to Croker Island with 69 of the children and continued as ‘Cottage Mother’ for 24 years.

In 1965 Margaret returned to Sydney, accompanied by two foster children who later returned to their family.

Margaret’s service to young Aboriginal people has been recognized by the Queen with an MBE and by the naming of the Somerville Homes in her honour. The work on Croker Island was moved to Darwin in 1968 and continues to care for underprivileged children under the name of Somerville Community Services. The Somerville Homes care for handicapped young people.
Margaret was the first Australian woman to be presented with the Battle of Australia medallion in 1991.
Margaret wrote a book called ‘They Crossed a Continent’. During her retirement years she has made and sold finger puppets to fund missions worldwide. She recently celebrated her 100th birthday with some of the children now in their 70’s celebrating with her.
Enabling her through all of her life has been the conviction from the Scripture “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Truly an amazing woman of God!!

Isabella Parry & The Nurture Of Children

Early in 1830, after a fifteen hour sea voyage from Sydney, Isabella Parry disembarked at Tahlee, Port Stephens, north of Newcastle in the Hunter Valley. She was accompanied by her husband, Sir Edward Parry, the polar explorer. They were also accompanied by their twin children, Isabella and Edward.
They were named after their parents but they were not named by their parents.

The twins were two months old when they landed at Port Stephens. They had been born in government house in Sydney moments after the Parry’s had arrived in Port Jackson. The babies were premature and very poorly and Isabella was in danger of her life. She had already lost two children in infancy and a third had miscarried.

Eliza Darling, the governors wife had the twins baptized immediately, naming them after their parents. Eliza Darling even suckled little Edward at her breast such was her care for children. Both Eliza Darling and Isabella Parry were devout evangelical Christian women. Isabella was strong in heart and clear in mind. Her desire was to serve God and she believed she could do this best by attending to ‘the one thing needful’ (Luke 10:42). This meant doing whatever was required to ensure the salvation of those for whom one was responsible. In Isabella’s case, this meant her family, herself, and the employees or ‘servants’ of the Company, the assigned convicts and the aborigines.

She had another two children, Lucy and Charles in quick succession. Her husband ran the local church, while she opened a school for 42 young pupils and another for adult convicts, and she established a lending library. She visited the sick and concerned herself with the temporal and the spiritual well-being of all around her. She successfully befriended the aboriginal people in a nearby camp.

Isabella loved her husband and missed him when he was away which was often. The two of them, even when separated, read the Bible and prayed at the same time each day, so that they would feel their oneness in the Lord.

After the family returned to England in 1837 Isabella suffered much. The Parry’s eldest daughter died of scarlet fever and Isabella had another daughter who died and she herself died in 1839 aged 38 years, having another set of twins. Her eldest son Edward was only nine years of age and was present when she died. His father had read to her the Scripture, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith“, and Isabella said ‘and the finisher’.

Further articles about Isabella Parry
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