The Tudor Society

12 March – The death of Thomas Boleyn, father of Anne Boleyn

On this day in Tudor history, 12th March 1539, Thomas Boleyn, father of Queen Anne Boleyn died at Hever Castle in Kent.

In today's video, I give details of his death and resting place, as well as looking at what happened to Thomas Boleyn after May 1536, with the executions of two of his children: Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn, Lord Rochford.

Here is my video on Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn:

My article on the spellings of Boleyn can be found at

Here are my photos of Thomas's resting place:

There are 8 comments Go To Comment

  1. M

    One thing I have a question about… I listened to Lauren Mackey on a podcast recently, and watched her expert talk when I first joined a couple months ago, I haven’t read her book, yet, but it’s on my list. It’s about the love he had for his children. Now I certainly don’t believe that he pitched this girls in front of the king of anything like that. But… Why did Anne have to intercede with Henry on Mary’s behalf after her husband died? Why did Thomas refuse to help support his child and grandchildren? (This was before she married Henry Stafford in secret. I’m talking about after Carey died. Why did he not help Mary, and the king sort of had to force him?

    1. R

      Hi Michelle, there isn’t any evidence that Thomas Boleyn was forced to provide for his daughter, Mary or his grandchildren.

      Her first husband, William Carey should have left her well provided for but failed, probably because he gambled or squandering their money. Like now, a widow or family member had to wait to get and land, financial support or inheritance they were entitled to, because money had to go to people in order, a widow had the right to her jointure for example and Mary should have gained this in time, but she obviously had problems and was left without much provision. For now, she and two small children needed protection and providing for, education and a future. The Boleyn family actually came to her rescue once her predicament was known.

      Lauren Mackay says in her book that there was no breech between Thomas and his oldest daughter, just a brief fall out has been speculated and he wasn’t as close to her as Anne, who was probably his favourite. She can’t provide an actual reason but there is certainly no evidence that Thomas was forced to help Mary and her children. Henry became aware of her situation and wrote to Anne about it, knowing Thomas would help because he was a man of honour. Henry and Anne and Anne and her family discussed Mary and what to do. Thomas Boleyn didn’t refuse, he gave her a generous stipend. Anne was given her nephew to care for and saw to his education. Mary appears to have been comfortable for several years until she shamed the family by marrying well below her status and for love, without royal and patriarchal permission. Mary did as she desired but obviously it was not an appropriate marriage and this time Thomas did cut off her allowance and Anne as Queen banished her from Court.

      Anne was acting according to her right as Queen, even if it did seem cruel to send her sister away, but Mary was now in her household and she should have gained her permission. For Thomas Mary was a disobedient daughter, who had dishonoured his status and her own, he was the household head and women were property. Even adult children were subject to their father. Yes, this lessened when they married and moved out or if they were independent as a well provided widow would be. Mary wasn’t totally independent, she had an allowance from her family so Thomas still had a say over her normally free choice of a second husband. Now that he was a relative of the King and Queen his status was elevated and to him Mary had put all that in jeapardy by her disobedience. Mary loved William Stafford but she didn’t want to lose her family so she asked Thomas Cromwell to help, humbling herself but saying she loved him and why. William Stafford did love and wanted to protect Mary, but also he accepted her. Mary was afraid that her reputation as a great whore because she was the mistress of two Kings and that nobody of good family would have her. So she married for love and she asked for help just to find peace with her family, Cromwell gave it and Henry this time persuaded Thomas Boleyn to give his daughter, Mary a generous allowance.

      1. M

        Oh, ok. Thanks for answering, Real Tudor Lady, I appreciate that. I knew what happened with William Stafford, but was confused with her fate after Carey’s death. Thanks, again! Michelle t

        1. R

          Hi Michelle, glad to help, and I think it’s a very good question, because I think it’s commonly believed and I had to admit, I had to check the reference before answering, just to be certain. You see it on many sites so like a lot of Boleyn myths I think it is assumed to be fact and it’s a believable myth, based on misunderstanding from the sources, the letter to Anne asking her to bring Mary’s plight to her father. The family rallied round her and that is overlooked, I think. Lauren has made a number of discoveries which paint Thomas and George Boleyn in a new light, which hopefully film makers in the future will use rather than making up nonsense.

          Glad I could help. I love researching all these things because I love history. I am a bit of an addict to be honest, as my library attests to, books everywhere. I believe this is the first biography of Thomas Boleyn in modern times although Claire co authored a book on George Boleyn a few years ago. A duel biography intertwining father and son in light of the family and their rise and fall shows how closely they worked together, and the generations continued in loyal service at Court.

  2. M

    I love Claire’s book about George Boleyn! I’ve always loved history, especially British, especially the Tudor period, though I know more of some (Henry VIII) and less of others (Elizabeth I). But what got me to do my own research, and find things like Claire’s websites and books, was the show The Tudors, and more specific, how George Boleyn was portrayed. I am very interested in Lauren Mackay’s book, too. Thanks again, and it’s really nice to learn a little more about my fellow Tudor people.

    1. R

      Yes, that was interesting and enlightening. I didn’t know much about his poetry and his translations are unknown to most people. It’s like reading about a completely different person. I really don’t know why he is some one dimensional character or some mad fool who played the goat or more recently slept with every man and woman at Court and raped his wife. No doubt he did have a few lovers, that would not be unusual for a young man at Court, but there is no evidence to support any sexual deviations or even that he was a lover of a lot of women, yet alone raping his wife or even that he was cruel to Jane Boleyn. He probably got up to high jinks, he was a young man at Court, full of fun and life and entertainment was part of every day Court life. He was, however, very intelligent and an eloquent speaker and won the trust of the King. George later accompanied his father on the delicate diplomatic missions to win support for his marriage to Anne. He was active in the Reformation, being influenced by the French reformers and made translations of their work. He spent time in the King’s inner circle. I can’t recall if he lost money at cards to Henry or the other way around but our Claire and Clare Cherry studied the Privy Purse accounts showing the sums lost and owed as well as other expenses. I read the usual silly comments on Amazon, among many good reviews about “nothing new to know here” and challenged those making such ridiculous comments to write their own books if they know so much, as this is the first biography on George Boleyn. They probably haven’t even read it or have just watched the Tudors or something. I doubt they could write a Tweet let alone a biography which requires many hours every day of research which can take years. Their biography is obviously well researched and the result of hard work over many years. Yes, there are some books which do say the same thing about a limited amount of people but there is always something new to learn and there is always a different way to examine a life. Research for a biography must be hard work but also very rewarding. I am meant to be doing research at the moment but having a hard time as my husband needs more treatment for cancer but I am still making sure I read and listen to these videos. I also love the follow up links and as you say learning and conversing with my fellow Tudor fans.

  3. M

    I’m sorry about your husband, Real Tudor Lady, and hoping for a quick recovery.

    1. R


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12 March – The death of Thomas Boleyn, father of Anne Boleyn