Jane Howard, Duchess of Norfolk

The Duchess of Norfolk in 1678, by Sir Peter Lely

Jane Howard, Duchess of Norfolk (née Bickerton; 1643/4 - 28 August 1693), was the second wife of Henry Howard, 6th Duke of Norfolk.

Bickerton came from a very modest social background. Her parents were Anne Hester and Robert Bickerton, Gentleman of the Wine Cellar to King Charles II of England. She met Howard when he was heir presumptive to his unmarried brother Thomas and became his mistress. She started living with him after the death of his wife, Lady Anne Somerset, in 1662.[1] Upon his brother's death in 1677, Howard succeeded to the dukedom and made his marriage to Bickerton public, though it may have taken place a year earlier, with the Duke's children by Lady Anne Somerset protesting against the marriage. Family feeling became so bad that the Duke went abroad for a time with his new wife.

The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk had four sons, all of whom died childless, and three daughters:

After the Duke's death in 1684, the Duchess married a Scotsman, Thomas Maxwell.

John Evelyn had a very low opinion of her: on a visit to the Duke not long before his death he wrote uncharitably:

Went to visit the Duke of Norfolk and to know whether he would sell me any of his cartoons and other drawings of Raphael and the great masters. He answered me that he would part with and sell anything for money but his wife the Duchess who stood near him; and I thought with myself that if I were in his condition she should be the first thing that I would be glad to part with.[2]


  1. Portrait of Jane Bickerton, Duchess of Norfolk (?), Circle of Lely c.1678
  2. Evelyn Diary 9 May1683
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