2 May 1536 – The Arrest of George Boleyn, Lord Rochford

Tower of LondonThe following account of George Boleyn’s arrest is taken from George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat by Claire Ridgway (me!) and Clare Cherry…

George Boleyn was arrested on the afternoon of 2 May 1536 at Whitehall.1 This did not become common knowledge until the following day, which must mean it was orchestrated to be carried out as privately as possible. Upon hearing that he was in the Tower, not even Chapuys could come up with an explanation as to why he had been arrested. It was initially believed that he was an accessory to the charges brought against his sister: “Her
brother is imprisoned for not giving information of her crime.”2 When the charge of incest became public knowledge there was general shock and disbelief.

George had been taken to the Tower from Whitehall, arriving at approximately 2 p.m.. His sister Anne arrived shortly afterwards at approximately 5 p.m.. She had been arrested earlier that day while attending a tennis match, and had
initially been interrogated at Greenwich. It is not known whether George was aware of her earlier arrest, and had himself been arrested while making frantic attempts to see Henry in order to protest his sister’s treatment – this would explain George being at Whitehall, rather than Greenwich when he was arrested.3 He may, however, have been completely unaware of Anne’s arrest and simply walked into a trap.

Notes and Sources

Extract from George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat by Claire Ridgway and Clare Cherry, p230

  1. Wriothesley, Charles. A Chronicle of England During the Reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559, p36.
  2. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 10 – January-June 1536, 784.
  3. This theory is put forward by Eric Ives (The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, p328).

Related Post