The Tudor Society
  • July 19 – Mary Boleyn

    Portrait of a woman thought to be Mary Boleyn

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th July 1543, in the reign of King Henry VIII, Mary Boleyn died. It is not known where she was laid to rest.

    Mary was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond, and his wife, Elizabeth Howard. She was the granddaughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and sister of Queen Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn, Lord Rochford. At some point, she had been King Henry VIII’s mistress, but nothing is known of their relationship.

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  • 26 April – Catherine Carey, daughter of Mary Boleyn, marries Francis Knollys

    A portrait of Catherine Carey by Steven van der Meulen, 1562, and a portrait of her husband, Francis Knollys.

    On this day in Tudor history, 26th April 1540, in the reign of King Henry VIII, sixteen year-old Catherine Carey married Francis Knollys.

    Catherine was the daughter of William Carey and Mary Boleyn, and the niece of Queen Anne Boleyn. Although some believe that she was Henry VIII’s daughter, there is no evidence for this.

    Catherine served as a maid of honour to Anne of Cleves, and went into exile with her family in Mary I’s reign.

    Catherine was appointed to her cousin Elizabeth I’s bedchamber in 1559. She served there until her death in 1569.

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  • March 4 – The birth of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, son of Mary Boleyn

    Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, by Steven van Herwijck

    On this day in Tudor history, 4th March 1526, in the reign of King Henry VIII, courtier and administrator, Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, was born.

    Hunsdon was the only son of Mary Boleyn and her first husband, William Carey, esquire of the body to Henry VIII. There is controversy over his paternity due to Mary Boleyn having a sexual relationship with Henry VIII at some point…

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  • Quiz – Mary Boleyn’s Family

    How much do you know about the family of Mary Boleyn, sister of Queen Anne Boleyn and mistress to King Henry VIII?

    Test yourself with this fun quiz.

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  • March 4 – William Bullokar and his 40-letter alphabet and, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Mary Boleyn star in the spectacular Chateau Vert Pageant

    On this day in history, 4th March 1609, Tudor spelling reformer and grammarian William Bullokar died at Chichester in West Sussex.

    William Bullokar is known for writing the first grammar book of English, the “Pamphlet for Grammar”, and for his work reforming the alphabet to improve literacy.

    Find out more about him and what he did in this talk…

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  • Mary Boleyn Crossword Puzzle

    As this week was the anniversary of the first marriage of Mary Boleyn, mistress of King Henry VIII and sister of Queen Anne Boleyn, on 4th February 1520, I thought I’d test your knowledge of this quite shadowy Tudor lady.

    How much do you know about Mary Boleyn?

    Get the little grey cells working with this fun crossword puzzle.

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  • 4 February – Mary Boleyn gets married and the burning of John Rogers

    On this day in Tudor history, Saturday 4th February 1520, Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn, got married to William Carey in the Chapel Royal at Greenwich Palace, in a service attended by King Henry VIII.

    Find out more about Mary Boleyn and William Carey in this talk…

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  • Josh Widdicombe, the Boleyns and Edward I

    In the programme, which aired in the UK on BBC One, comedian Josh Widdicombe was having his family tree examined and he had an incredibly interesting one.

    If you haven’t watched it yet, and plan to, then don’t read on! Although you can tell from the title and the photo that the Boleyns are involved!

    Spoiler alert…

    Josh found out first that he was related to the Barings of Barings Bank, and then he was told that he was descended from Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland. Holland served as Groom of the Stool to King Charles I and unfortunately ended his life on the scaffold due to being a Royalist in the Second English Civil War.

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  • 19 July – Mary Boleyn dies

    Mary Boleyn is known for being Henry VIII’s mistress at one point, and you can find out a bit more about her in this edition of #TudorHistoryShorts…

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  • 4 February – Mary Boleyn gets married

    On this day in Tudor history, Saturday 4th February 1520, Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn, got married to William Carey in the Chapel Royal at Greenwich Palace, in a service attended by King Henry VIII.

    Find out more about Mary Boleyn and William Carey in today’s talk.

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  • 15 January – The death of Catherine Carey (Knollys), daughter of Mary Boleyn

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th January 1569, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Catherine Knollys (née Carey), wife of Sir Francis Knollys, daughter of Mary Boleyn, and cousin of the queen, died at Hampton Court Palace. She was about 45 years old.

    Sadly, Queen Elizabeth I had kept Catherine and her beloved husband, Sir Francis Knollys, apart during Catherine’s final day.

    Find out more about Catherine’s final days, the queen’s cruelty, Francis’s frustration, and Catherine’s lavish burial, which was paid for by the queen, in today’s talk.

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  • Mary Boleyn Quiz

    Mary Boleyn, daughter of Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard, and sister of Queen Anne Boleyn, has been a popular subject for both fiction and non-fiction, but she is quite an enigma in reality. Out of what we do actually know about her, how much do you know? Test yourself with this fun quiz. Good luck!

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  • Mary Boleyn

    A portrait of a woman thought to be Mary Boleyn from the collection at Hever Castle

    Mary Boleyn was probably the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard. She was most likely born at Blicking Hall, Norfolk. The date of her parents’ union is open to question, but fragmentary evidence indicates that they had married by 1501 at the latest. Mary was probably born at the turn of the 16th century. It is possible that she accompanied Henry VIII’s sister Mary to France in 1514 in readiness for her marriage to Louis XII, but whether she resided at the French court has never been resolved. Hostile rumours in circulation during the 1530s claimed that Louis’ successor, Francois I, knew Mary to have been promiscuous, but it is uncertain whether this meant she had gained her supposedly dubious reputation in France. Possibly Mary indeed resided at the French court during her teenage years, but if so she had certainly returned to England by early 1520, for her marriage to Henry VIII’s attendant, William Carey, occurred on 4 February that year. It is possible that she served Katherine of Aragon, but there is no evidence that she did so.

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  • The Sphere of Light: The Anne Boleyn saga as never told before – 1 July 2017, Cambridge, UK

    Ann Henning Jocelyn, writer and director of “The Sphere of Light: The Anne Boleyn saga as never told before” has asked me to share this information about the play. If you can get to Cambridge in the UK then do go and see it and then let us know what it was like.

    Here are the details:

    To be presented as a rehearsed reading at the Howard Theatre, Downing College, Cambridge, on July 1st, 2017, at 4 PM and 8 PM.
    Tickets at £12/10 from www.adcticketing.com Tel: 01223 300 085.

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  • William Carey

    In this month’s look at the men of Henry VIII’s court, I want to explore the life of William Carey, courtier, a member of the king’s privy chamber, and an esquire of the body. William Carey is most famously known for being the husband of Mary Boleyn, older sister of Anne Boleyn. However, he was more than just a husband; he was a man on the rise and distant cousin to the King.

    There is little known about William Carey’s early life. He appears to be the second son of Thomas Carey from Chilton Foliat, Wiltshire, and his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Robert Spencer of Ashbury, Devon. The family had strong Lancastrian ties as William’s grandfather, Sir William Carey of Cockington, Devon, on his father’s side, was a Lancastrian supporter and soldier who was beheaded at Tewkesbury in 1471. William’s grandmother on his mother’s side was Eleanor Beaufort, daughter and coheir of Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. The Duke of Somerset was a staunch Lancastrian supporter and right-hand man of King Henry VI. It was rumoured that Somerset even had an affair with the King’s mother, Catherine Valois, who was also the grandmother of King Henry VII! Through his mother’s side, William Carey was a distant cousin of King Henry VIII.

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  • The Reputation of Mary Boleyn

    In this week’s video, Sarah Bryson, author of Mary Boleyn: In a Nutshell considers the reputation of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn and a woman who is surrounded by myth and scandal.

    Why does Mary have the reputation she does and what is it based on?

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  • Hever Castle with Sarah Bryson

    Today in our regular Friday video spot, Sarah Bryson, author of Mary Boleyn in a Nutshell and Charles Brandon: The King’s Man, tells us about Hever Castle, the family home of the Boleyns, and shares her experience of visiting it recently. Thank you Sarah!

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  • Henry Carey by Sarah Bryson

    On 4th March 1526, Mary Boleyn gave birth to a son she named Henry Carey. Mary Boleyn was a member of Henry VIII’s court, was married to courtier William Carey and was also the older sister of Anne Boleyn, who would become Queen of England. I believe that Mary Boleyn was also the mistress of Henry VIII from around 1522 – 1525.

    Over the centuries, there has always been a great deal of debate as to who Henry Carey’s father was. Henry Carey was conceived during 1525, the year, I believe, that Mary’s relationship with Henry VIII was coming to an end. It may be possible that during the last few times the King slept with Mary she conceived. It has also been suggested that Henry would not have wished to share Mary with her husband, keeping her to himself during the entire period of their relationship.

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  • The Paternity of Catherine and Henry Carey by Sarah Bryson

    In my last article, Unravelling Mary Boleyn, I wrote about Catherine and Henry Carey, the children of Mary Boleyn. There have always been questions surrounding the paternity of Mary Boleyn’s children as around the time that both children were conceived Mary Boleyn was not only a married woman but she was also the mistress of Henry VIII.

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  • Catherine Carey and Henry Carey by Sarah Bryson

    Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, by Steven van Herwijck

    Henry Carey by Steven van Herwijck

    Henry Carey by Steven van Herwijck

    Today is the anniversary of the death of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, Privy Councillor and Lord Chamberlain, in 1596, so it seems appropriate to share this article by Sarah Bryson on Henry and his sister Catherine.

    On 4th February 1520, Mary Boleyn married William Carey, a young, handsome, athletic man who a member of the King Henry VIII's household and also a distant cousin of the King. The match was well made, as Mary Boleyn's father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, was on the rise and was making a name for himself at court. The wedding took place at Greenwich and Henry VIII himself was present, giving the newly married couple a gift of 6s 8d.

    Mary would go on to give her husband two healthy children. Mary's first child, a daughter named Catherine, quite possibly named after Queen Catherine of Aragon, was born in 1524. Catherine would become a constant figure at court until her death on 15 January 1569. At the age of just fourteen, she was appointed as a maid of honour to Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII's fourth wife. Then, on 26 April 1540, Catherine married Sir Francis Knollys and she went on to give her husband thirteen children! After the deaths of Henry VIII and his son and heir Edward VI, the Catholic Mary I came to the throne. As Protestants, Catherine and Francis feared for their safety and fled the country with their youngest children. Catherine and her family spent several years travelling the Low Countries, where Catherine was to give birth to one of her children.

    Upon Mary I's death, Elizabeth I came to the throne and in 1559 Catherine was appointed as a lady of the Queen's bedchamber. Returning to England, Catherine took up this highly prized position. Her status meant that she was to tend to the Queen's personal needs, sleep at the foot of her bed when required and help dress the Queen, among other duties. It was a position of intimacy and one which Elizabeth I came to cherish.

    Tragically, Catherine died on 15 January 1569 at Hampton Court. Queen Elizabeth I is reported to have been grief-stricken and she gave her beloved cousin a lavish burial at Westminster Abbey which cost £640 2s. 11d.

    Mary Boleyn's second child, a son named Henry, was born on 4 March 1526. He too would become a prominent and impressive member at court throughout his life. In May 1545 he married Anne Morgan and the pair had twelve children together, nine of them sons. During his early years, he became a diplomat and a member of parliament. When Elizabeth I came to the throne, Henry was knighted and on the 13 January 1559 he was created Baron Hunsdon and granted substantial lands and a yearly pension of £4000. On 31 October 1560 Henry was appointed as Master of the Queen's hawks and then on 18 May 1561 he was created a Knight of the Garter.

    Henry Carey played a prominent role over the years helping to protect the North from England's Scottish neighbours. On 23 October 1571, he was appointed warden of the east marshes, which afforded him even greater responsibilities in protecting the north of England. On the 16 November 1577, Henry was appointed as a member of the Privy Council, allowing him greater access not only to the Queen but to the administration of England's policies.

    During 1583, Elizabeth I re-appointed Henry as captain of the gentlemen pensioners and in July 1585 he was appointed as Lord Chamberlain of the Household, as well as continuing his privy councillor duties. Henry was active in political life until his death on 23 July 1596 at Somerset House. Just like his sister Catherine, Henry Carey was buried at Westminster Abbey, the expenses of this paid by his cousin Elizabeth I. It is rumoured that on his deathbed Elizabeth I offered Henry the earldom of Wiltshire, a title held by his grandfather Thomas Boleyn. However, Henry refused the title stating that if Elizabeth did not think him worthy of the title while he was alive he would not accept it now that he was dying.

    Elizabeth I died childless in 1603 and it was through Catherine and Henry's children that the Boleyn bloodline continued.

    Sarah Bryson is the author of Mary Boleyn: In a Nutshell. She is a researcher, writer and educator who has a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education with Honours and currently works with children with disabilities. Sarah is passionate about Tudor history and has a deep interest in Mary Boleyn, Anne Boleyn, the reign of Henry VIII and the people of his court. Visiting England in 2009 furthered her passion and when she returned home she started a website, queentohistory.com, and Facebook page about Tudor history. Sarah lives in Australia, enjoys reading, writing, Tudor costume enactment and wishes to return to England one day.

    Notes and Sources

    • Jonathan Hughes, ‘Stafford , Mary (c.1499–1543)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2009, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/70719, accessed 6 June 2015.
    • Sally Varlow, ‘Knollys , Katherine, Lady Knollys (c.1523–1569)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oct 2006; online edn, Jan 2009 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/69747, accessed 6 June 2015.
    • Wallace T. MacCaffrey, ‘Carey, Henry, first Baron Hunsdon (1526–1596)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2014, [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/4649accessed 6 June 2015.
    • Weir, Alison (2011) Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings, Ballantine Books, New York.
    • Wilkinson, Josephine (2010) Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress, Amberley Publishing, Gloucestershire.
  • Unravelling Mary Boleyn by Sarah Bryson

    A portrait of a woman thought to be Mary Boleyn from the collection at Hever Castle

    Today we have an article by Sarah Bryson, author of Mary Boleyn: In a Nutshell and a regular contributor to the Tudor Society.

    Mary Boleyn is most certainly a woman of mystery. Her younger sister was Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and Queen consort of England. Mary’s brother was a well-known member of Henry VIII’s court, who was evangelical in his religious beliefs and who, like his sister Anne, ended up on the scaffold. Mary’s father was also an important member of Henry VIII’s court. Thomas Boleyn was a talented man, who was fluent in French and who was sent on many missions as an ambassador for England. He was cunning and smart and used his skills and wits to provide a fantastic education for his children, as well as to further himself and his family at court. And yet when we look at Mary’s life compared to her famous siblings and father so little is known.

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  • Mary Boleyn Book Tour – Q&A with author Sarah Bryson

    I’m delighted to be the final stop on Sarah Bryson’s book tour for Mary Boleyn: In a Nutshell, a wonderful book which is exactly what it says it is.

    Many of you will know Sarah from her blog Anne Boleyn: From Queen to History and also the articles she shares here on the Tudor Society website. Sarah joins us today to answer some questions I fired at her.

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  • The Offspring of Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn by Conor Byrne

    The birth dates of the children born to Sir Thomas Boleyn and his wife Elizabeth Howard have caused considerable controversy among historians over the centuries. It is a fact that Elizabeth was delivered of two surviving daughters (Mary and Anne) and three sons (Thomas, Henry and George), only one of whom (George) survived to adulthood. Everything else is uncertain. Even the date of Thomas’s marriage to Elizabeth is not known. Only in 1538 were parish registers systematically introduced in which all weddings, baptisms and funerals were recorded.

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