A Cat Visits Sir Henry

1485

England

Sir Henry Wyatt was born to humble beginnings in Yorkshire, England, but became involved in a battle of Royal succession. He fought valiantly in two revolts against one of the cruelest of all English kings, King Richard III; the second revolt succeeded, leading to the accession of King Henry VII to the throne in 1485. As a result of his support of the new king, Wyatt was granted a barony in 1493 and was made a knight of the Bath in 1509.

During the court intrigues leading up to Henry VII's accession, King Richard III imprisoned Wyatt for two years. Wyatt was locked away in a narrow, cold, stone cell in Scotland. There is a story that a small cat came into the habit of entering the cell through a small window. Henry befriended the cat and held her for warmth. She once brought Henry a pigeon, which he convinced the gaoler to cook for him. Afterward, the cat repeated the gift of bringing a pigeon more than once.

Thereafter, Sir Henry was partial to cats.

Sir Henry Wyatt's son, our next ancestor in this lineage, Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542), was a famous Renaissance poet: he is said to have been the greatest English poet between Chaucer and Shakespeare. In an attempt to heighten English poetry on the world's stage, Wyatt brought several foreign poetic forms to England. He most famously helped to import the sonnet by both translating the Italian poet Petrarch and by writing original sonnets in English. Wyatt is best known today for his love poems.

Sir Thomas was a close friend of Anne Boleyn and was thought to have been romantically involved with her before her marriage to King Henry VIII. After Boleyn's downfall in 1536, Sir Thomas was imprisoned for several months and may have witnessed her execution, along with that of her five accused lovers, from his cell window in the Tower of London.