The year of 1533 saw considerable changes in the future Mary I’s status. Her father Henry and Anne Boleyn had married in early 1533, and they had their first child, the future Elizabeth I in September 1533.
The First Succession Act made Princess Elizabeth and future children by Anne Boleyn to true successors to the Crown and declared that Princess Mary was a bastard. The Act also required all subjects, if commanded, to swear an oath to recognise this Act as well as the King’s supremacy. Anyone who refused to take the oath was subject to a charge of treason, under the Treasons Act 1534. Sir Thomas More was executed because of this.
Mary wrote to her father:
‘This morning my chamberlain came and informed me that he had received a letter from Sir William Paulet, controller of your house, to the effect that I should remove at once to Hertford Castle. I desired to see the letter, in which was written ‘the Lady Mary, the King’s daughter’, leaving out the name of Princess. I marvelled at this, think your grace was not privy to it, not doubting that you take me for your lawful daughter…..If I agreed to the contrary, I should offend God; in all other things, you shall find me an obedient daughter.’
The response was not to be messed with.
‘The King is surprised to be informed, both by Lord Hussey’s letters and his daughter’s own, delivered by one of her servants, that she, forgetting her filial duty and allegiance, attempts, in spite of the commandment given her…arrogantly to usurp the title of Princess, pretending to be heir apparent….declaring that she cannot in conscience think but that she is the King’s lawful daughter, born in true matrimony, and believes that the King in his conscience thinks the same.’
For Henry, Mary was acknowledged as his offspring, but she was illegitimate and not a Princess of England. To further prove his point, Mary was to serve the infant Princess Elizabeth in her household. When Mary arrived at Hatfield, she was asked if she would like to ‘see and pay court to the Princess’. Mary answered that she knew of no other Princess in England but herself. She would treat her like a sister, but that was all. When asked if she had a message for her father, she responded, ‘None, except that the Princess of Wales, his daughter, asked for his blessing’.
It was to be a miserable Christmas for Mary that year.1