Posted By Claire on May 4, 2016
Around 4th May 1536, in his daily report to Thomas Cromwell, Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London, wrote of Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, sending a message to her husband, George, who was imprisoned in the Tower.
Kingston’s letters to Cromwell were damaged in a fire in 1731 at Ashburnam House, but they are still an excellent primary source. Here is what he said about Jane’s message and George’s reaction (the dots are the illegible parts):
“After your departynge yesterday, Greneway gentelman ysshar cam to me & . . . Mr. Caro and Master Bryan commanded hym in the kyngs name to my [Lord of] Rotchfort from my lady hys wyf, and the message was now more . . . se how he dyd; and also she wold humly sut unto the kyngs hy[nes] . . . for hyr husband; and so he gaf hyr thanks […]”1
So, from this, we know that Sir Nicholas Carew and Sir Francis Bryan had commanded a gentleman usher called Greenway to carry a message from Jane Boleyn to George. The message was to see how he was doing in the Tower and to assure him that Jane would petition the king on his behalf. George sent a message of thanks back to her.
There is no evidence that Jane did petition Henry VIII or Thomas Cromwell, but that’s not to say that she didn’t. Although some historians have said that while she was sending this message to George she was actually busy giving Cromwell information and went on to become “the principal witness in the Crown’s case” against the Boleyns, this just is not backed up by contemporary sources.2 Justice John Spelman, in his report of the case against Anne Boleyn in 1536, named Bridget Wiltshire, Lady Wingfield, as posthumously providing evidence:
“And all the evidence was of bawdery and lechery, so that there was no such whore in the realm. Note that this matter was disclosed by a woman called Lady Wingfeilde, who had been a servant to the said queen and of the same qualities; and suddenly the said Wingfeilde became sick and a short time before her death showed this matter to one of her… [the rest is missing].”3
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