Posted By Claire on May 11, 2021
On this day in Tudor history, 11th May 1536, another jury, this time the Grand Jury of Kent, met to rule on the alleged offences committed by Queen Anne Boleyn and her alleged lovers in the county of Kent.
They drew up an indictment listing the offences and giving all the details, and in this video I share all those ‘juicy’ details. If we’re to believe the jury, Queen Anne Boleyn had a very complicated, and very busy, lovelife!
Here is the transcript:
In yesterday’s video, I told you all about the Grand Jury of Middlesex that met on 10th May 1536 to rule on the alleged crimes of Queen Anne Boleyn, her brother Lord Rochford, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton and Mark Smeaton committed at Whitehall Palace and Hampton Court Palace. Well, on this day in 1536, the 11th May, another Grand Jury, that of the county of Kent, met to rule on these people’s alleged crimes committed at Greenwich Palace, East Greenwich and Eltham Palace.
The grand jury met at Deptford and was presided over by Chief Justice John Baldwin and six of his colleagues. Like the Middlesex grand jury the previous day, they decided that there was sufficient evidence to send the queen and the five men to trial. The indictment they drew was nearly identical in wording to the Middlesex one.
The offences listed in the indictments went from October 1533, just a month after the birth of Henry and Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth, all the way to 8th January 1536, when Anne was pregnant with the child she miscarried at the end of that month. If we combine the dates and offences of the two indictments, we get the following:
- Two dates in October 1533 – Anne procuring Sir Henry Norris to violate her at Westminster.
- Two dates in November 1533 – Anne alluring Sir Henry Norris “to violate her” at Greenwich.
- Another two dates in November 1533 – Anne and Sir William Brereton at Greenwich.
- Two dates in December 1533 – Anne procuring Sir William Brereton “to violate her” at Hampton Court.
- One date in April 1534 – Anne procuring Mark Smeaton at Westminster.
- Two dates in May 1534 – Anne procuring Sir Francis Weston at Westminster.
- Two dates in June 1534 – Anne alluring and then sleeping with Sir Francis Weston at Greenwich.
- One date in April 1535 – Mark Smeaton violating Anne at Westminster.
- Two dates in May 1535 – Anne alluring and then sleeping with Mark Smeaton at Greenwich.
- One date in October 1535 – Anne and some of the men plotting the King’s death at Westminster.
- Two dates in November 1535 – Anne procuring her brother George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, “to violate her” at Westminster.
- Another date in November 1535 – Anne giving gifts to the men at Westminster.
- Two dates in December 1535 – Anne alluring and then sleeping with her brother George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, at Eltham Palace.
- 8th January 1536 – Anne plotting the King’s death with Rochford, Norris, Weston and Brereton at Greenwich.
She was a busy lady!
As I said in yesterday’s video, historian Eric Ives noted that ¾ of the alleged offences can be disproven because they were impossible – either Anne or the man concerned was not at the places listed. Today, I’m sure the defendants’ lawyers would get the case thrown out, BUT in Tudor times, you were guilty until proven innocent, and, as Clare Cherry and I wrote in our biography of George Boleyn, “The defendant was often unaware of the actual evidence being adduced against him until he attended court at his trial, and therefore had no hope of rebuttal”. In these cases, the jury also knew what was expected of them. I don’t believe that any of these people had a hope of real justice.
The names of those sworn into the grand jury and the indictment can be read here on the Anne Boleyn Files website – https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/11-may-1536-the-kent-indictment/