Elizabeth Blount, also known as Bessie Blount, was the daughter of the humble knight, Sir John Blount and Lady Catherine Pershall. Bessie was most known as the Mistress of King Henry VIII of England and the mother of his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy (Fitzroy meaning, son of the King). She had a reputation for being very beautiful.
Bessie Blount was a lady in waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. When she became the King’s mistress she was fairly young. The affair lasted around eight years, which was a long time for Henry VIII to be involved with any mistress. In 1519 she became pregnant with the King’s child. She was dismissed from court and took refuge in a convent in order to give birth in private, but not secretly.
Henry VIII, who was desperately trying to have a son, was ecstatic when he got word that Bessie had given birth to a boy. Some said that he was relieved to know the fault did not lay with him, but his wife, as to why he only had one frail daughter with the queen. He announced the good news to the court, fully acknowledging his illegitimate son publicly, and celebrating for several days. Even Queen Catherine, in order to spare her dignity publicly congratulated the King.
The next step in order to make sure his son was well taken care of was to find a suitable husband for Mistress Blount. It was arranged that Bessie would marry Gilbert Tailboys and he was created 1st Baron of Kyme for his services. Normally, when subjects married one of the King’s mistresses as a kind of favor, the King in return doled out titles and lands. I mean he could not allow for the mother of his kid to live shamelessly out of wedlock.
After her marriage to Tailboys, Bessie’s affair with the king ended and he moved on to Mary Boleyn. However, the King honored Bessie (and Henry) even further. When Henry Fitzroy was about 6 years old, the King knighted his son and created him Duke of Richmond and Somerset (royal titles). Bessie was now mother to a Duke. As his importance rose, so did hers (and her husband’s). She had at least three children with Baron Tailboys.
In 1530, Bessie’s first husband died leaving her a young and still very beautiful widow. She remarried to Edward Clinton, Earl of Lincoln. He was rather younger than her, but titled. Shortly after her marriage, in 1536, her adored precious son, Henry Fitzroy, died of consumption (tuberculosis). Not only was Bessie devastated, but so was the King.
The Kingdom went into mourning for the King’s only son. At the time the King was already married his third wife, Jane Seymour, who like his two wives before, had yet to give him a legitimate son. His illegitimate son dying probably made Henry even more anxious for a male heir. It is believed that Bessie loved all her children deeply. She even had three more children with her second husband, Edward Clinton. However, sometimes a first born baby holds a special place in his/her mother’s heart.
Bessie Blount did return to court sometime briefly and was a lady in waiting to Henry VIII’s 4th wife Anne of Cleves. She left service and court because she fell ill. She died of consumption (tuberculosis) on her husband’s estates.
Bessie had a total of seven recorded children:
Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset (1519-1536)
Elizabeth Tailboys, 4th Baroness of Kyme (1520-1563)
George Tailboys, 2nd Baron of Kyme (1523-1540)
Robert Tailboys, 3rd Baron of Kyme (1423-1541)
(Some babies were found buried with Bessie’s first husband, probably children who died young)
Lady Bridget Clinton (1536-1580?)
Lady Catherine Clinton, Baroness of Burgh (1538-1621)
Lady Margaret Clinton, Baroness Parham (1539-?)