There is controversy regarding the death of Anne’s sister, Mary Boleyn, with her biographer Alison Weir dating her death as the 19th July 1543 and her other biographer Josephine Wilkinson choosing the 30th July. Historian David Loades chooses to simply write “July 1543”.
Mary Boleyn’s life is a mystery – the facts are scarce and we’re left to fill in the blanks with theories – and so is her death. Alison Weir cites John Horace Round, the 19th century historian and genealogist, as her source for the 19th July date of death, and he does write in his 1886 The Early Life of Anne Boleyn: A Critical Essay “According to an inquisition taken at Mary’s death (19th July, 1543)…”, so it sounds like he based the date on her inquisition post mortem. We also don’t know where she died, what she died from or where she was laid to rest. It is assumed that she died at Rochford Hall, the Boleyn family property in Essex which she had recently inherited, and that she was buried at St Andrew’s Church, Rochford, but there is no surviving tomb and no records to back up this theory. Just as she eluded us in life, she has eluded us in death.
Trivia: Mary was actually Mary Stafford when she died, having married William Stafford. Her other married name was Carey.
Also on this day in history…
Notes and Sources
- The Early Life of Anne Boleyn: A Critical Essay, J H Round, published 1886 by E. Stock in London, p38. This is available to read online at Open Library
- Mary Boleyn: ‘The Great and Infamous Whore’, Alison Weir
- Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress, Josephine Wilkinson
- The Boleyns: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Family