Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon
The monument to Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon (1525-1596) in St John the Baptist’s chapel is the tallest in Westminster Abbey, at thirty-six feet high. It is made of alabaster and marble with a considerable display of heraldry, which includes the Carey arms – "argent, on a bend sable three roses of the field" (ie. a silver shield with a black bar diagonally across it from top left to bottom right with three silver roses on it). His crest is a swan and his motto “Comme je trouve” (As I find it). (The other shields on the obelisks in front of the tomb are for the families of Spencer, Bruer, Wake, Beauford, Meschem, Gaunt, Kent, Brian, Curcy, Estotville, Holland, St Leger, St Omer, Walthof, Bigod, Fastolf, Malmains, Macmurch, Marshall, Holway, Wichingham, Fitzion, Strongbow, Staplton, Teies, Rochford, Butler, Bracton, Barkley, Ormond, Bullen, Hanckford, Pipard, Hoo, Carict, Orchard, Lisle, Manduit, Gware, Casneto, Gerard, Beauchamp, Warwick, Harcourt, Abtot, Tony and Newburgh, to whom he was obviously in some way related)
The monument was erected before 1603 by his widow and son and the Latin inscription can be translated :
“Consecrated for the burial of the Hunsdon family. Here sleeps in the Lord Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon, one-time Governor of the town of Berwick, Warden of the east marches towards Scotland, Captain of the gentleman-pensioners, Chief Justice of the Forests south of the Trent, Knight of the Order of the Garter, Lord Chamberlain of the Lady Queen Elizabeth, sworn of the Privy Council, and first cousin to the aforesaid Queen. Together with him is buried Anne, his dearest wife, daughter of Thomas Morgan, knight, who bore him many children, of whom there survive George, John, Edmund and Robert, knights, Catherine, Countess of Nottingham, Philadelphia, Baroness Scrope, and Margaret, Lady Hoby. He died 23 July 1596 aged 71. His son, George Carey, Baron Hunsdon, member of the Order of the Garter, Captain-General of the Isle of Wight, Chamberlain of the household to Queen Elizabeth, Privy Councillor, and his wife Anne, placed this monument to the best of fathers and dearest of husbands, in his honour and memory, and being mindful of their own and their family’s mortality.”
Henry was the only son of William Carey (son of Thomas and grandson of Sir William Carey) who died in 1528, and Mary, daughter of Thomas Boleyn (or Bullen), Earl of Wiltshire, and sister of Anne Boleyn. Mary was a mistress of Henry VIII and some said the king was actually the father of her child. In 1545 Henry Carey married Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas Morgan of Arkestone in Herefordshire and in 1559 he was created Baron Hunsdon of Hunsdon (in Hertfordshire). They had 10 children. The youngest was Robert who was created Baron Carey of Leppington and then 1st Earl of Monmouth in 1626. Henry died at Somerset House in London and the Queen paid for his funeral at the Abbey. Anne did not actually die until 19 January 1607.
Other members of the family buried with Henry and Anne in the vault beneath this chapel include their son George, 2nd Baron Hunsdon (d.1603) and his wife Elizabeth (Spencer), who became Lady Eure (d.1618), Anne Carey (d.1661), daughter of the 4th Baron and Robert Carey, 7th Baron (d.1702). The names are recorded on a modern stone in front of the monument.
In the same chapel is a mural monument with an heraldic achievement to Thomas Carey, brother of Henry Carey 2nd Earl of Monmouth. Thomas died in 1648 aged 53. The inscription gives a wrong age for him but the rest can be translated:
"Here is buried a man of great family and greater talents, THOMAS CARY, who died in the 33rd [53rd] year of his age. Whatever still survived of nobility - the second son of the earl of Monmouth - whatever of virtue - the illustrious example - whatever was dearest to King Charles I - whom he served in the bedchamber with pious devotion - did not utterly perish before the year 1648, when it was found necessary to destroy everything excellent. He expired, and a most noble family, lacking a male heir, died out, as if prodigal nature, in fashioning him, had exhausted all the powers of the race. Go hence, traveller, and mingle the numbness of reverence and grief"
The reference to the execution of Charles I in January 1649 is given in Old Style dating (1648). The coats of arms are of Carey, Holland, Beauchamp and Newburgh and the monument is possibly by sculptor William Stanton and was in place by 1683.
Henry’s sister, Dame Catherine Knollys (d.1569), is buried in St Edmund’s chapel in the Abbey.
A photograph of the monument can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.
“Oxford Dictionary of National Biography” 2004 for William, Henry, Elizabeth and George.
“The Complete Peerage” under Hunsdon.
Hunsdon wills can be ordered via the National Archives website.
Hunsdon House is in Hertfordshire.
Click on the images to enlarge