Did Henry VIII have any illegitimate male offspring?

Notoriously male-child light, King Henry VIII must have been frustrated by the fact he was able to father boys out of wedlock with comparative ease.

Did Henry VIII have any illegitimate male offspring? (public domain)

There are rumours that the King sired seven children, including five boys.


Henry, however, only officially acknowledged one. Henry Fitzroy was the son of Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Blount, one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies in waiting (the prefix ‘Fitz’ refers to illegitimate offspring while ‘roy’ is an anglicised version of ‘roi’, meaning ‘king’).

His exact birthdate is unknown as it was, for obvious reasons, hushed up, but it was sometime around June 1519. Six years later, as it became increasingly clear the King was having problems in the heir-department, Henry suddenly acknowledged young Fitzroy.

In an elaborate ceremony, Henry showered money and honours upon his son, including a double-dukedom (Richmond and Somerset). Suggestions the new Duke should be married to his older half-sister, Mary, shoehorning him to pole-position for the throne, came to nothing.


Any other cunning plans about his succession ended with Fitzroy’s early death in 1536, more than ten years before his father’s demise.

Answered by one of our Q&A experts, Sandra Lawrence. For more fascinating Q&A’s, pick up a copy of History Revealed.