Posted By Claire on May 16, 2014
On 16th May 1536, George Boleyn, Sir Francis Weston, Sir Henry Norris, Sir William Brereton and Mark Smeaton prepared for their deaths by confessing their sins to Dr Allryge (or Alridge), the chaplain sent to them. Sir Francis Weston wrote out a list of his debts, which can be found in Letters and Papers, and then wrote a farewell letter to his parents, which was to be included with the list of creditors:
“Father and mother and wife, I shall humbly desire you, for the salvation of my soul, to discharge me of this bill, and for to forgive me of all the offences that I have done to you, and in especial to my wife, which I desire for the love of God to forgive me, and to pray for me: for I believe prayer will do me good. God’s blessing have my children and mine.
By me, a great offender to God.”
As Alison Weir points out, Weston is not confessing to his alleged crimes; he is simply asking his family’s forgiveness for the sins he had committed during his lifetime. Tudor people believed very strongly in the concept of original sin and their sinful natures.
As well as making his confession to Dr Allryge, George Boleyn seems to have spent his last hours worrying that his death could cause financial ruin to others. In a letter to Cromwell dated 16th May, the day
after George’s trial, William Kingston wrote, “Sir, the said Lord [Rochford] much desires to speak with you, which touches his conscience much as he says, wherein I pray you I may know your pleasure, for by cause of my promise made unto my said Lord to do the same.” In a second letter, Kingston repeats this plea, “You must help my Lord of Rochford’s conscience”. It is touching that George’s main concern at such a time was for those to whom he owed money, and for those who owed him money, and who would suffer if forced to repay the debt to the King.
Notes and Sources
- The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown by Claire Ridgway
- George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat by Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway
- The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir
- The Life of Cardinal Wolsey, George Cavendish, p459.
- LP x. 902