Lord Edmund Howard was a British nobleman and a courtier to Henry VIII. He was also related to Henry’s three ill-fated wives (Anne Boleyn was his niece, Jane Seymour a cousin’s daughter and Catherine Howard his own daughter).
An inveterate gambler, Howard squandered a fortune acquired from his first wife and had to palm off his children on relatives. He was also plagued by ill health. While stationed in Calais in the mid-1530s Howard suffered from painful kidney stones. For advice, he turned to Viscountess Lisle, an influential member of the court with a reputation for dispensing good medical advice.
Lady Lisle provided Howard with a diuretic “powder for stones”, probably dandelion-based. In a letter believed to have been written in 1536, Howard wrote to Lady Lisle to advise that her powder had resolved his kidney stones – but had left him with another embarrassing problem:
“I have taken your medicine, which has done me much good. It has caused the stone to break and now I void much gravel. But for all that, your said medicine hath done me little honesty, for it made me piss my bed this night, for which my wife has sore beaten me, saying ‘it is children’s parts to bepiss their bed’. You have made me such a pisser that I dare not this day go abroad.”
Howard asked Lady Lisle to provide him with “a wing or a leg of a stork”, as he had heard that eating one of these would put an end to his bed-wetting. It is not known whether he resolved his particular problem, however, his health continued to deteriorate and he died in 1539.