Elizabeth Tilney, Countess of Surrey was born before 1445 in Ashwellthorpe Manor, Norfolk, England to Frederick Tilney (c1425-1446) and Elizabeth Cheney (1422-1473) and died 4 April 1497 of unspecified causes. She married Humphrey Bourchier (1440-1471) . She married Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk (1443-1524) 30 April 1472 JL .

Wealthy English heiress and lady-in-waiting to two queens. She became the first wife of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey.

She served as a lady-in-waiting to Queen consort Elizabeth Woodville, and later as Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen's daughter, Elizabeth of York, consort of King Henry VII of England. She stood as joint godmother to Princess Margaret Tudor at her baptism.

She was the mother of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Through her daughter Elizabeth she was the maternal grandmother of Anne Boleyn, and through another son, Edmund, the paternal grandmother of Catherine Howard, both queens consort of King Henry VIII. Elizabeth's great-granddaughter was Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Elizabeth was commemorated as the "Countess of Surrey" in John Skelton's poem, The Garlande of Laurell, following his visit to the Howard residence of Sheriff Hutton Castle.


On an unknown date, Elizabeth married her first husband Sir Frederick Tilney (c1425-1446), of Ashwellthorpe, Norfolk, and Boston, Lincolnshire. He was the son of Sir Philip Tilney and Isabel Thorpe. They made their principal residence at Ashwellthorpe Manor.[1] The couple had one daughter: Elizabeth Tilney.

Sir Frederick Tilney died in 1445, leaving their young daughter Elizabeth as heiress to his estates. Shortly before 1 December 1446, Elizabeth Cheney married secondly Sir John Say, of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, Speaker of the House of Commons, and a member of the household of King Henry VI.

Death and Legacy

Elizabeth Tilney died on 4 April 1497 and was buried in the nun's choir of the Convent of the Minoresses outside Aldgate. In her will, she left money to be distributed to the poor of Whitechapel and Hackney. By licence dated 8 November 1497 Thomas Howard married as his second wife her cousin, Agnes Tilney, by whom he had six more children.

Elizabeth's granddaughters included not only Queen Katherine Howard and Queen Anne Boleyn, but also three of Henry VIII's mistresses, Elizabeth Carew, Mary Boleyn and, allegedly, Mary Howard, Duchess of Richmond. During the reign of Henry VIII the Howards, led by Elizabeth's eldest son, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, became the premier family of England.

Family Life

1st Marriage to Sir Bourchier

Elizabeth Tilney (before 1445 - 4 April 1497), married firstly in about 1466, Sir Humphrey Bourchier (1440-1471), by whom she had three children. Sir Humphrey Bourchier having been killed at the Battle of Barnet (War of the Roses) in 1471 fighting for the Yorkist side.

Sir Humphrey Bourchier, the son and heir of John Bourchier, 1st Baron Berners, and his wife Margery, in about 1466. The marriage produced a son, John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners and two daughters. Following her marriage, Elizabeth went to court where she served as lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth Woodville, whose train she had carried at the latter's coronation in May 1465 at Westminster Abbey. Elizabeth accompanied the Queen and her children into sanctuary at Westminster Abbey when King Edward IV had been ousted from the throne, and was present at the birth of the future King Edward V. She remained with the Queen until Edward IV was restored to power.

  1. John Bourchier (1467-1533) . John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners (c1467-1533) - married Katherine (d. 12 March 1536), the daughter of John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk, by whom he had a son, Thomas, and three daughters, Joan, Margaret and Mary; by a mistress allegedly named Elizabeth Bacon he had three illegitimate sons, Sir James, Humphrey and George, and one daughter, Ursula (wife of Sir William Sherington)
  2. Margaret Bourchier (c1468-c1551) - Lady Governess to Princess Mary and Princess Elizabeth; married firstly, by agreement dated 11 November 1478, John Sandys, son and heir apparent of William Sandys of the Vyne, by whom she had no issue; secondly, Sir Thomas Bryan, by whom she had three children, including Sir Francis Bryan.
  3. Anne Bourchier, Baroness Dacre (1470-1530) - (1470- 29 September 1530), married Thomas Fiennes, 8th Baron Dacre,[21] by whom she had three children.

2nd Marriage to Sir Howard

Her second marriage on 30 April 1472, to Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk (1443-1524), Earl of Surrey, who later became the 2nd Duke of Norfolk, by whom she had nine children. These children included Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Elizabeth Howard, mother of Anne Boleyn, and Lord Edmund Howard, father of Catherine Howard.

On 30 April 1472 Elizabeth married Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, a marriage arranged by the King. In 1475, Elizabeth inherited her father's property of Ashwellthorpe Manor. Her second husband was a close friend and companion of Richard, Duke of Gloucester who was crowned king in 1483. Elizabeth was one of Queen Anne Neville's attendants at Richard's coronation, while her husband bore the Sword of State. On 22 August 1485 Thomas's father John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk was killed at the Battle of Bosworth while fighting for Richard III; like his son, John was also one of King Richard's dearest friends. Thomas Howard was wounded at Bosworth and imprisoned in the Tower for several years, and the dukedom of Norfolk was forfeited. Elizabeth was fortunate that Thomas' attainder stipulated that she would not lose her own inheritance. On 3 October 1485, she wrote to John Paston, who was married to her cousin. The letter, which she had written from the Isle of Sheppey, mentioned how she had wished to send her children to Thorpe, pointing out that Paston had pledged to send her horses as a means of transporting them there. She continued to complain that Lord FitzWalter, an adherent of the new king Henry VII, had dismissed all of her servants; however, because of the stipulations in her husband's attainder, FitzWalter was unable to appropriate her manor of Askwell. In December 1485 she was living in London, near St Katharine's by the Tower, which placed her in the vicinity of her incarcerated husband.

After Thomas was released from prison and his earldom and estates were restored to him, he entered the service of Henry VII. In November 1487, Thomas and Elizabeth attended the coronation of Henry's consort Elizabeth of York, who appointed Elizabeth a Lady of the Bedchamber. Elizabeth was further honoured by being asked to stand as joint godmother to the Princess Margaret Tudor at her baptism in late 1489.

  1. Thomas Howard (1473-1554), 3rd Duke of Norfolk
  2. Sir Edward Howard
  3. Edmund Howard (c1478-1539) -
    1. Catherine Howard (c1521-1542) - 7th Queen consort to Henry VIII
  4. Elizabeth Howard (c1480-1538) - Lady Elizabeth Howard, married Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and was mother of Queen Anne Boleyn, and grandmother of Queen Elizabeth
    1. Mary Boleyn (1503-1543) - 3rd Queen consort to Henry VIII
    2. Anne Boleyn (c1505-1536) - 4th Queen consort to Henry VIII
      1. Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) - Queen of England
  5. Sir John Howard (c1482)
  6. Lord Henry Howard
  7. Lord Charles Howard
  8. Lord Henry Howard (the younger)
  9. Lord Richard Howard/
  10. Muriel Howard (d.1512), married firstly John Grey, 2nd Viscount Lisle (d.1504), and secondly Sir Thomas Knyvet
  11. daughter (died young)


Offspring of Elizabeth Tilney, Countess of Surrey and Humphrey Bourchier (1440-1471)  ¢
Name Birth Death Joined with
John Bourchier (1467-1533) 1467 England, United Kingdom 19 March 1533 Calais, France Katherine Howard (-1536) Katherine Howard (-1536) Elizabeth Bacon (bef1533-)
Margaret Bourchier (c1468-c1551)
Anne Bourchier, Baroness Dacre (1470-1530) 1470 England 29 September 1530 Thomas Fiennes, 8th Baron Dacre (1472-1534)

Offspring of Elizabeth Tilney, Countess of Surrey and Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk (1443-1524)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Thomas Howard (1473-1554) 1473 25 August 1554 Anne of York (1475-1511) Anne of York (1475-1511) Elizabeth Stafford (c1497-1558)
Edward Howard
Edmund Howard (c1478-1539) 1478 19 March 1539 Jocasta Culpeper (c1480-c1531)
Elizabeth Howard (c1480-1538) 1480 1538 Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire (c1477-1539)
John Howard (c1482)
Henry Howard
Charles Howard
Henry Howard the Younger
Richard Howard
Muriel Howard (-1512)
Daughter Howard (c1495)


#g1: Offspring of Frederick Tilney (c1425-1446) and Elizabeth Cheney (1422-1473)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Elizabeth Tilney, Countess of Surrey (bef1445-1497) 1445 Ashwellthorpe Manor, Norfolk, England 4 April 1497 Humphrey Bourchier (1440-1471)
Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk (1443-1524)



Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General
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Ω Birth
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₪ Wedding
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¢ Children
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¶ Death
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